I understand that belief in a capital-h higher power is a relatively complex thing. People believe for a number of reasons. I have to wonder though… How much of belief is a coping mechanism for helplessness.

For instance, a loved one is in the hospital with a severe illness. Someone who feels an overwhelming sense of being able to do nothing might turn to something larger than themselves in hopes THAT being can make it better. Perhaps praying, thus perceived as doing something, is better than doing nothing.

Would that then make belief a coping mechanism?

I understand that belief has been a way to make sense of the world. Can it be diluted down to that? Is belief in a higher power just a different form of homeopathy?

What do you think? Is belief a coping mechanism? A form of comfort? A way of making sense of the world?


  1. Jason said,

    February 22, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I’ll just note that you are commiting the Genetic Fallacy in spades here.


    • Herbwoman said,

      February 22, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      Please explain. What is the Genetic Fallacy? Others will want to know, I’m sure. I was posing questions to you and other readers about what YOU all feel are the components that make up belief.

  2. jwalker1960 said,

    March 23, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I think it is a way of staving off the fear of the unknown, death being the greatest unknown of them all. We want to believe that the world isn’t as random and as harsh as we know it really is. We want someone to make us feel safe.

    As children, we look to our parents or other care givers to provide that safety and reassurance. As adults, we know we can’t turn to others because they are in the same boat as we are, so we create a deity or deities to turn to for comfort.

    I think the greatest sense of freedom I’ve ever felt was when I shed those kinds of beliefs and embraced the beauty and wonder of the unknown universe. Now, instead of fear of the unknown, I find excitement and joy in trying to understand it and learn all I can about it.

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