from Time: Science and Space--
Any fool can feel religious around the holidays. When the entire Judeo-Christian world is lit up-- literally-- with celebrations of faith, family and love, you've got to be awfully short of wonder not to experience at least a glimmer of spirituality. The rest of the year? It can be a little harder.
But as generations of campers, sailors, hikers and explorers could attest, there's nothing quite like nature-- with its ability to elicit feelings of jaw-dropping awe-- to make you contemplate the idea of a higher power. Now, a study published in Psychological Science applies the decidedly nonspiritual scientific method to that phenomenon and confirms that the awe-equals-religion equation is a very real and powerful experience-- even among people who fancy themselves immune to such things.
"The laws of nature do not seem to be what satisfies the sense of uncertainty that awe elicits," he [Valdesolo] says. "If I throw 10 people at the Grand Canyon and ask how many come away with a secular answer and how many come away spiritual, I'd tip the scales in favor of spiritual." Like it or not, awe trumps empiricism-- and like it or not too, we'd probably be a poorer species if it didn't.
Jeffrey Kluger's entire article can be read here.