The Psychology of Faith

The comfort of religion is born of faith. It stills the turmoil of question and wonder, giving it a reservoir where it can be kept safe and not trouble us. We turn to faith when life’s difficulties give rise to doubt. We make it our resolve and forgo the question, taking comfort in an answer that is faith. It is a path to confidence that frees a person from all sorts of troubling details. A person of faith, will form the rational supporting their faith, into a structure that protects faith, isolating faith from challenge. A fortress in which faith is fortified and faith also has a community. The faith-based community is a source of strength and support providing exclusive opportunity. Displaying the symbols of faith sends easily recognizable signals and opportunity falls in your lap. Faith gives us psychological tools by which we defend and promote our self. These tools plug us into a larger web of supportive cultural psychology. All of this lends a person resolve and confidence.

Faith is as a shortcut to confidence. Confidence does not need it but faith is useless without confidence.

Does faith help? Is it good? I think it depends on the individual, pretty much like everything else. When a person is rigid in their belief, I think that their faith has injured them. Blinded them. When the person of faith is flexible, that individual taps into something much deeper. Something true. It is not their faith so much that they value but the tenants of it that allow flexibility and accommodation. To be accepting without judgement, a truly supportive person. Each person, whether they have faith, or not, chooses the tenants of their character and I think faith is as valuable a resource for building a respectable and admirable character as any other choice. After all, good people are needed in the faith-based community, just as they are needed everywhere else and you will find them there.

Some of the most remarkable people I have ever known draw their strength from their faith. These are people who are admired by nearly everyone they know. People who are as an anchor, giving community a bearing of durable value. Of course the opposite is as true. The empty drum does make the loudest noise and some people of faith, just aren’t very nice. Judgmental, pious, self-righteous but you do not need faith to be an ass and faith really has little to do with it. Poor behavior, by a person making a show of their faith, gives the faith-based community a black eye, but it shouldn’t. Behavior is particular to the individual.

Me, I have no faith. I just believe things to be as they are. Things can only be as they are, there is no other possibility. Everything is self-evident and can be observed. To me that is God. I am aware, I am a cognizant sentient being and I do not believe that cognition, sentience or awareness depend on physiology to exist. I think they exist with or without it and that we create reality. Creation is a constant and we have creative authority.

Michael, The Mystic Tourist ©2013

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