The other day, a thought occurred to me while mountain biking - is it just human nature to gravitate towards activities that have religious characteristics?
It was a beautiful day, I was alone in the woods, and I would often come to vistas overlooking a large lake…the entire ride was absolutely transcendent. It was as if I was high or something. Granted, some of this may be attributed to what is called a “runner’s high,” which can be partly explained by endorphins released during exercise. But I think another aspect of it was the tranquility of experiencing the beauty of nature. It was somewhat of a spiritual experience, for lack of a better phrase.
Maybe for some, they achieve these spiritual experiences through church due to psychological reasons and external stimulae much the same the stimulae of nature’s beauty mixed with endorphins.
I’ve observed over many years that I seem to be a much more productive and happy person when I go mountain biking more frequently. This is either when I ride with others or alone. I’ve also observed that I never really experienced these effects from attending church.
Could it be possible that people simply have an innate desire to meet certain psychological needs that can be filled by churchgoing for some, or by mountain biking?
I should also note that I am on a mountain bike racing team. This could possibly be what fills my desire to be part of something in a social context, much like churchgoers feel they are. We often have mini-cookouts after rides, take weekend trips to race or go to better trails, etc. These are often the same activities churchgoers take part in.
Maybe as humans we simply search for something that ties us all together. For some, it is religion, for others, it is mountain biking.
Possibly there isn’t room for more than one, which is why I never really care much for church…I just didn’t feel as engaged as I do with mountain biking.
For the most part, I felt that churchgoers are precocious people who want to run everyone else’s life, while mountain bikers are generally altruistic and great most people they meet as though they are good friends.
Maybe we seek to surround ourselves with people that share the same philosophies about people in general (i.e. most people are good, or most people are evil sinners damned to eternal hell).
For instance, my religious mother is often scared when I tell her about how I picked up some unfortunate person walking down the road. To her, they could be someone waiting to kill a good samaritan…to me, they are someone who just needs a ride because of crappy circumstances.
This is probably why I’ve also never been much into the road biking scene - “roadies” are known as being somewhat snooty and selfish.
Possibly churchgoers have intrinsic desires to be right, reign authority over others, or lead a life that is much “better” than the rest of society…to be morally transcendent (in their mind).
I would love to find some good reading about these ideas. I’m not sure if it would be psychological, sociological, or maybe related to memes? (still haven’t got to read about memes yet)
Anyone ever read any good scientific or psychological information about these sorts of ideas? I’m sure there is some evidence to support my theories based on my amateur observations.