In fact, according to a new study, the fear of death creates in people the tendency to reject the science of evolution in favor of “intelligent design“.
According to this theory, biological systems and certain phenomena of the Universe are so complex that are impossible to be created spontaneously, which means that they are designed by some intelligent force.
Essentially, intelligent design is a variant of creationism, i.e. of the view that the Universe and the human were created by God. The difference is that the intelligent design does not name this “intelligent force” and is considered as a scientific theory, although it contradicts science.
The intelligent design does certainly reason for the afterlife, but it restores the idea that human life is based on a higher plan: “Intelligent design says that human life has a purpose, that we have a reason to be here,” says Jessica Tracy, who led the study at the University of British Columbia.
The study argues that many people tend to prefer the intelligent design because of a mental defense mechanism against the fear of death.
For the purpose of the experiment, more than 1,600 volunteers were asked to think and write either about their death or about an unrelated issue such as a visit to the dentist.
In the next phase, they were asked to read articles either of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins or of supporter of intelligent design Michael Behe. In the end, the volunteers were asked to answer questions about their religious beliefs and to rate whether they agree with each article.
The analysis of responses showed that the fear of death drove people closer to the intelligent design theory and further away from the theory of evolution.
However, this psychological effect disappeared when at the end the volunteers were asked to read an article by astronomer Carl Sagan on naturalism, i.e. the view that life has a meaning even if there is no creator.