Why God? An Examination of Why People Believe
Except from Why God? Link to full article below…
Humanity’s search for an explanation of the origins of the universe, and of life itself, has led to the creation of elaborate belief systems that center on a mystical, supreme force binding all things together. God has been imagined as many things over time. The concept of a deity has been used to explain crop failures and floods, droughts and famines; kings have claimed divine right to rule over commoners; dogmatic faith has been used to control the progress of scientific research and global exploration, to justify wars, invasions and genocide, and yes, religion has been a tool for justice and peace, protecting literature, art and education.
Philosopher Alan Watts summarizes the centuries-old dichotomy with, “The clash between science and religion has not shown that religion is false and science is true. It has shown that all systems of definition are relative to various purposes, and that none of them actually ‘grasp’ reality” (51). So what is that reality? And why god? Is humanity, as posited by Sufi scholar Martin Lings, “equipped as he is by his very nature for worship” (45)? Or was Jung more on target with identifying religious conviction as “an excellent defense against an onslaught of immediate experience with its terrible ambiguity” (631)? Authors Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, in their 2004 book Sacred and Secular, support this viewpoint, basing their opinion on the World Value Survey (http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/) which has been given every five years since 1990. This survey found that “religiosity across nations is strongly correlated with indicators of existential security” (Wilson 1). More likely the answer is somewhere between these two extremes.