This is a bit off-topic for us, but we think it’s interesting. We found it at PhysOrg: The psychology behind religious belief.
Your Curmudgeon knows nothing about psychology, but religion is interesting — especially when it degenerates into creationism, so there’s probably a lot to talk about here. The whole article is worth reading, so we’ll just give you a few excerpts to get you going. As usual, we’ve added some bold font for emphasis:
Throughout history, scholars and researchers have tried to identify the one key reason that people are attracted to religion. Some have said people seek religion to cope with a fear of death, others call it the basis for morality, and various other theories abound.
But in a new book, a psychologist who has studied human motivation for more than 20 years suggests that all these theories are too narrow. Religion, he says, attracts followers because it satisfies all of the 16 basic desires that humans share.
We all share 16 basic desires? What are they? We’re told:
“It’s not just about fear of death. Religion couldn’t achieve mass acceptance if it only fulfilled one or two basic desires,” said Steven Reiss, a professor emeritus of psychology at The Ohio State University and author of The 16 Strivings for God (Mercer University Press, 2016).
Here’s the book at Amazon: The 16 Strivings for God: The New Psychology of Religious Experiences. Let’s read on:
Reiss’s theory of what attracts people to religion is based on his research in the 1990s on motivation. He and his colleagues surveyed thousands of people and asked them to rate the degree to which they embraced hundreds of different possible goals.
In the end, the researchers identified 16 basic desires that we all share: acceptance, curiosity, eating, family, honor, idealism, independence, order, physical activity, power, romance, saving, social contact, status, tranquility and vengeance.
We’ll skip some discussion about how religion satisfies those 16 desires. Then we come to this:
What about atheism? While all people need to fulfill the same basic desires, not everyone will turn to religion to satisfy them, Reiss said. Secular society offers alternatives to fulfill all of the basic desires. “Religion competes with secular society to meet those 16 needs and can gain or lose popularity based on how well people believe it does compared to secular society,” Reiss said.
One more excerpt, and then you can click over there to read it all for yourself:
One of the basic desires – independence – may separate religious and non-religious people. In a study published in 2000, Reiss found that religious people (the study included mostly Christians) expressed a strong desire for interdependence with others. Those who were not religious, however, showed a stronger need to be self-reliant and independent.
Well, we thought it was interesting — at least as a conversation starter. Hey — what basic desires does science satisfy? It seems to be some of the same ones as religion — but not all of them, and certainly not vengeance. Your Curmudgeon’s psychology is — unsurprisingly — unlike anything this study suggests. But you probably already knew that.
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