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Reconnecting science and spirituality: Toward overcoming a taboo

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Abstract

We argue that reconnecting science and spirituality yields the best rational understanding of the world. Spirituality is seen as the core of many religions. Distinctions are drawn between science and scientism and between spirituality and religion. A historical analysis provides a partial explanation of scientists' aversion to religion. A thought experiment illustrates that spirituality could not only be a legitimate research topic of science but also inform science by offering certain insights. Specifically, science could and should more freely study spirituality in its beneficial impact on individuals' attempts to attain personal wholeness, overcome substance abuse, achieve a more communal society, and safeguard the environment.
... Parfois perçue comme taboue(Ver Beek, 2000) ou confondue avec la religion(Canda, 2013), l'importance qu'elle revêt ne cesse de prendre de l'importance dans les milieux de soinsPuchalski et al., 2009) et dans les approches d'intervention(Ambrose-Oji, 2013;Lazaridou et Pentaris, 2016). Bien que pour certains elle soit en opposition avec la science, une tendance se dessine à plutôt la considérer comme complémentaire(Walach et Reich, 2005). Devant une intégration souhaitée et recommandée par l'OTSTCFQ, très peu d'études se sont penchées sur la manière de transposer ce souhait de façon concrète et viable par les intervenants.Ce mémoire avait comme objectif principal de documenter les facteurs qui influencent l'intégration de la spiritualité dans les interventions en travail social dans un contexte québécois. ...
Thesis
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La spiritualité peut avoir plusieurs impacts positifs sur la santé mentale et physique des individus (Koenig, 2008), être un élément central dans le processus de rétablissement (Holloway et Moss, 2010; Lietz et Hodge, 2013) et constituer un important mécanisme d’adaptation face aux difficultés vécues (Oxhandler et Ellor, 2017). Malgré le fait que les liens entre travail social et spiritualité n’ont pas toujours été harmonieux au Canada (Graham et al., 2007) et que son intégration est parfois empreinte d’inconfort (Oxhandler et Pargament, 2014), l’Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec (OTSTCFQ) reconnaît l’importance de la prendre en compte. Or, nous n’avons aucune donnée québécoise à propos de la propension à l’intégrer dans les interventions menées en travail social. Ce mémoire a comme objectif principal d’évaluer les facteurs (c.-à-d. spiritualité/religiosité personnelle, formation, milieu et contexte de pratique, etc.) qui influencent l’intégration de la dimension spirituelle en intervention chez les travailleurs sociaux (TS) du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean. Pour ce faire, cette étude quantitative de nature descriptive emprunte une méthode non probabiliste à l’aide d’un échantillon de volontaires (N=40). Un questionnaire en ligne comportant une fiche sociodémographique, trois questions pour mesurer la religiosité/spiritualité personnelle et une version adaptée de l’anglais au français de la Religious/Spiritually Integrated Practice Assessment Scale (RSIPAS) (40 items) a été soumis aux participants. Cet outil mesure quatre composantes : le sentiment d’efficacité personnelle, les attitudes, la faisabilité perçue et la fréquence d’intégration. Les données ont été traitées et analysées à partir du logiciel spécialisé Statistical Analysis System (SAS, version 9). Les résultats indiquent que la propension générale à intégrer la spiritualité varie en fonction du contexte d’intervention (p=0.040), où le fait d’oeuvrer en santé mentale est associé à une plus grande intégration qu’en contexte de déficience intellectuelle/physique ou en soutien à domicile. L’importance de la spiritualité (p=0.045) est également une variable significative : plus celle-ci occupe de place dans la vie personnelle du TS, plus celui-ci la considère dans sa pratique professionnelle. Pour le sentiment d’efficacité personnelle, l’âge (p=0.0081) et le nombre d’années de pratique (p=0.0063) sont significatifs, tout comme l’importance de la spiritualité (p=0.0298) et le degré de religiosité (p=0.0028). Quant aux attitudes, elles varient en fonction du genre (p=0.0324) où les femmes ont un score significativement plus élevé que les hommes, et en fonction du milieu de pratique (p=0.0206), où les intervenants en milieu scolaire ont un score significativement plus élevé que ceux oeuvrant au sein d’un organisme communautaire ou dans un centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS). La faisabilité perçue est influencée par la formation académique (p=0.0238), où les TS détenant une maîtrise ont un score plus élevé que ceux détenant un baccalauréat. Enfin, la fréquence d’intégration est influencée par le degré de spiritualité (p=0.0426) : plus il est élevé, plus le score obtenu est faible. Ces résultats doivent être interprétés en considérant la principale limite de l’étude, c’est-à-dire le nombre restreint de participants. En dépit de cette considération, ce projet de recherche constitue l’une des seules études utilisant un devis quantitatif pour documenter ce phénomène en contexte québécois. À cet effet, il permet de poser un premier regard sur les facteurs qui influencent la prise en compte de la spiritualité dans les interventions menées en travail social et propose de réfléchir à des moyens de former et de sensibiliser les TS face à cette dimension constitutive de la santé, dans une perspective d’amélioration continue de la qualité des interventions en contexte clinique et dans les milieux de formation académique.
... Although this process can be random, deceptive, and harsh, spirituality gives meaning to it. It involves a process of detachment from personal benefit dealing with nature and promoting a generous perspective towards others and living creatures [60]. ...
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Pilgrimage is one of the most ancient forms of tourism. Nowadays, it is becoming a mass phenomenon that can lead to serious problems of environmental degradation in valuable sites. In this work, we have analysed by means of a structural equation model how religious consciousness is inspired in the religiosity/spirituality of each pilgrim. It could predict its effects on tourists regarding an improved (i.e., sensitised and more sustainable) attitude towards nature. The study was carried out in Guadalupe, Spain, which is a commonly known pilgrimage destination since 1389. A total of 203 visitors were surveyed using a questionnaire composed of 16 questions, divided into 4 dimensions (enriched attitudes toward nature, religious consciousness, sustainable development, and environmental human development), which were used as constructs in the model. The results showed how religious consciousness positively influences sustainable development (β = 0.657, t = 11.306) and environmental human development (β = 0.566, t = 8.255) explaining 75.6% of religious travellers’ more sensitive attitudes towards nature. Our findings suggest that a deeper research, on the role played by religiosity as a seed of fostering sustainability, is still needed.
... Although this process can be random, deceptive, and harsh, spirituality gives meaning to it. It involves a process of detachment from personal benefit dealing with nature and promoting a generous perspective towards others and living creatures [60]. ...
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Religious Travellers’ Improved Attitude towards Nature
... According to those authors, religion's ideological, ritualistic, experiential, and social dimensions should be integrated into research that goes beyond the use o f religion as a control variable. Walach and Reich (2005) (Bose, 2002;Hernandez & Iyengar, 2001;Nisbett, 2003;Fiske et al., 1998;Markus & Kitayama, 1991;cf. Ragsdale, 2003). ...
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Some cross-cultural psychologists have shown differences in cognition between Eastern and Western cultures, described as holistic versus analytic (H-A) systems of thought. It is widely assumed that Buddhism has contributed to holistic cognition. This thesis explores holistic thought among Western Buddhists by integrating methods and theories mainly from cross-cultural and social psychology, but also the cognitive anthropology of religion. H-A reasoning among Buddhists, Anglicans and Secular-Humanists in the UK is investigated in a main experiment, providing good backing for hypothesised H-A group differences. Moreover, it supports a hypothesis about the effect of meditation on the categorisation of visual stimuli and strength of holistic beliefs. However, only explicit H-A measures are subject to religious context effects, as evident in their association with religiosity, the religious self-concept and religious integration. Inducing a Buddhist context through religious priming does not result in a holism shift. A follow-up study (2) uses pictorial primes and shows an interaction effect between priming condition and strength of Buddhist self-concepts on holistic beliefs. Study 3 clarifies religious versus secular differences that were found for the grouping measure used in Study 1 in a correlational design with measures of independence- interdependence, religious identification as well as attraction to Buddhist and Secular- Humanist ideas. It indicates that both self-selection and learning effects may account for secular vs religious H-A differences. The last experiment (Study 4) further develops so-called 'tolerance of contradictions' (TC) as an aspect of H-A cognition and introduces the cognitive anthropological concept of counterintuitive (Cl) beliefs. As expected, results show that religious groups have a higher tolerance of Cl. Furthermore, compared to normal or bizarre concepts. Cl content reduces TC only among secular individuals, and to some degree Anglicans, but has no such effect on Buddhists. Implications for cross-cultural psychology, the psychology of religion as well as the interdisciplinary field of 'cognition and culture' are discussed.
... Results from this study contribute to the ongoing discussion in different fields about the need to learn more about spirituality and its role in human functioning (Eck, 2002;Hage, 2006;Rose et al., 2001;Stock, 2006;Walach & Reich, 2005). It also demonstrates the value of considering the ways in which spiritual issues are intertwined with psychological issues that are brought to counselling (Grant, 2001). ...
... There is much debate in the literature regarding the differentiation of spirituality and religiosity (Hay & Socha, 2005;MacLaren, 2004). Some authors argue that spirituality is at the core of religion (Helminiak, 2006;Pannenberg, 2006;Walach & Reich, 2005). Gillette (2005) discusses the Latin origin of the word religion, which denotes "reconnection" or "intensive connection" with a higher power or with the universe. ...
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The MODI model is a dialectical way of comprehending the complementary relationship between science and spirituality. The model is founded on the notion that science and spirituality are domains of enquiry that both exemplify the values of modernity: open and embodied enquiry; the questioning of authority; and empowerment of the individual. The model captures the difference between science and spirituality by way of seven conceptual polarities: outer-inner; impersonal-personal; thinking-feeling; empirical-transcendental; mechanistic-purposive; verbal-ineffable; and explanation-contemplation. At the point where these dialectics overlap, the MODI model proposes an ‘interface space’ where science and spirituality overlap and combine. I further suggest that these seven polarities capture aspects of a fundamental ‘head-heart’ duality in human knowing, which is represented in a range of existing theories across philosophical, psychological and neurological levels. The model has predictive power and can help frame the growing interaction between science and spirituality that is a central feature of the contemporary world.
Chapter
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