August 2nd, 2005

red panda eating bamboo

thoughts on religious/spiritual belief

This was originally posted as a comment in vito_excalibur's journal here; it's slightly expanded here.

Whether or not deity exists, it seems clear that a lot of people have a lot invested in deity's existing (believing or hoping or acting-as-if or...). I'm probably just not looking in the right places, but sometimes I wonder why more attention isn't paid to why so many people invest so much in it. Most of the speculations about that I hear are insults or dismissals from people who don't have the investment and who think that having the investment means you're deluded. That may be so, I suppose, but I also think that throwing away some pretty amazing (and yes, also some pretty horrible) human accomplishments as entirely based on delusion is depressing and reductionistic - kind of like saying oh, thoughts and feelings are nothing but electrical signals in the brain. Yes they are, but they aren't "nothing but."

Can you think of any neutral-to-positive and non-insulting reasons that many humans have a lot invested in believing in the existence of deity? What do we get out of it; why do some of us need or strongly want it?

(Disclosure - I need/strongly want spiritual experience and have had spiritual experiences [that could also be explained in non-supernatural ways, but I choose to experience/remember them as spiritual]. I neither believe nor don't believe in the existence of deity. I usually boil this down to "I believe in deity on alternative thursdays.")