Religion – a psychological induced solution?
Some people believe that religion is a sort of psychologically induced solution sought as an escape from a difficult, hard reality, requiring uncritical intellect and therefore not based on truth. Which would consequently make it a deviance from what is considered normal psychological behavior.
Let’s consider then what means an abnormal behavior/a deviance, in the view of all psychologists:
1. first, the behavior should be infrequent
Does it apply to religion? Not really. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, throughout the world population, there are considerably more people religious than non religious (don’t believe in anything). That would also mean religion is a sort of mass self-induction happening at the same time in different parts of the world.
2. second, it should be maladaptive, i.e. the behavior would not promote the well being and the fulfillment of the person.
This also seems to be in contradiction with the testimonials of people who are believers. And recently even with the medical science where the benefits of prayer, for example, on the individual health are increasingly admitted.
3. third, it should be deviant, as in socially unacceptable.
It is certain that religion had and still has enough representatives displaying deviant behavior. However history shows that what was considered the most socially unacceptable involved people who publicly expressed their strong anti-theistic beliefs. The killings of atheistic regimes during the 20th century far surpass all killings made in the name of religion throughout the previous centuries put together. (See The Guinness Book of World Records, category “Judicial” subject “Crimes: Mass Killings”)
4. fourth, unjustifiable, meaning it cannot be rationalized.
Yet this is what many ‘religious’ people have followed as a path to reach God, see list of adopters that includes famous scientists as well as faith scholars, authors and recognized philosophers, well known for using only reason to defend their views (ex Clive Staple Lewis, Richard Swinburne, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, etc).
Looking at all those from the past and present who have proven simultaneously brilliant minds and strong beliefs in a transcendental Being, is an effective way to overthrow the possibility of such statement.
(Source: ‘Can man live without God’, Ravi Zacharias)