“Faith is a delusion of people unable to deal with the reality that sometimes life sucks.”
Has anyone ever said this to you? I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the years conversing with Atheists and have even gotten along with several since we both embraced the idea of live and let live – in other words, so long as you don’t force your beliefs/lack there of on me, I’ll do the same. For the most part, I’ve found them decent people who are looking for the same thing I am – the right to live in our country without the Christian Right (which I agree is neither Christian nor right) forcing their beliefs on us. But occasionally I’ve found myself confronted with what I like to refer to an Anti-theist – they don’t just believe there is no evidence of God as many Atheists I’ve spoken to; they claim to know there is no God and spend their free time actively attacking any and every religion they can. And it is they that so often spew some form of the above statement, the more malicious to people of faith, the better.
No, this isn’t a discussion of Atheists or Anti-theists – this is a discussion of the above statement. But we’ll go with the nicest way I’ve heard it said.
“Faith is a coping mechanism for people unable or unwilling to deal with the fact that sometimes life isn’t fair.”
Is it true? Do we cling to faith because we can’t or won’t deal with reality? Well, to be honest, I can’t answer that question for everyone. Yes, there are some people who cling to faith – sometimes blind, foolish faith – because they don’t want to look at the world before them. If they don’t walk out through a certain door, if they don’t step on the cracks in the sidewalk, if only they don’t eat green food on Tuesday – everything will be okay. These are extreme examples, but they illustrate that we cannot dismiss the above statement completely. And yes, some people cling to their faith not because it calls to them and gives them peace, but from an idea that if they cling to it tightly enough, all the bad things will go away.
But that is not the majority of people. I do believe that honestly. Most people follow their faith because they are called to that faith or because they believe it to be right. Faith may well be a coping mechanism, but it’s not because we refuse to accept the reality of the world, but as a way of helping us see and accept what is reality and give us the strength to change what can be changed for the better. Sure, sometimes it get skewed and they begin trying to “fix” things that aren’t broken, or their “fixes” actually break things worse – but I blame dogma/organizations rather than faith for that.
But that is simply my opinion of what faith is to others. I may be completely off base. For me, faith is simply a part of who I am, like a personality quirk. I look at the world and I see wonder – but then so do plenty of Atheists. I look at science and I see magic; not the magic of the Fae and witchcraft, but the magic of the power of the human mind. I see the world as it actually is, I just see more than that. I believe in the magic of the Fae and witchcraft. I also believe that our universe was created in an instant by a violent explosion of matter we call the Big Bang – and there is magic in that.
Does life really suck? Sometimes. Hell, right now life is sucking. My best friend is leaving her husband because she was miserable and he didn’t care enough to try and make it right. We aren’t going to be able to move until sometime next year because of a mistake Joshwa made that was caused as much by understaffing as his own screw up. And it sucks, because we’re not happy here. As much as we adore our little town, it’s not our place and we’re ready to move on. Do you know what my faith teaches me? That it’s better for my best friend to get out of her marriage now rather than be miserable for the rest of her life or – Gods forbid, bring children into their unhappy marriage. It tells me that we will be in a better place, financially, next year. It tells me that things worked out the way they did in a fortunate way that allows us to help my best friend not only get out of a bad situation, but get out of Mississippi, something she’s wanted to do for a few years now. I know and understand wanderlust, so , why not be able to help my best friend feed her own wanderlust.
These are the things my faith teaches me to see. Is it a coping mechanism? Sure. Do I use it because it stops me from seeing – and thus accepting – reality? No. If anything, it helps me look beyond what I feel about a situation to the truths of the situation. Yes, there are those who would say I don’t need my belief in Deity and ancestor spirits to see these things. But I know that in a moment of panic and distress, I receive a moment of clarity where I can see the truths of the situation more clearly; to me, that is the voice of my Gods. So does faith lead to delusion? Sometimes. Does that mean that all those who have faith are delusional? No more than the fact that some psychopaths are Christian mean that all Christians are psychopaths; no more than the fact that some Atheists are simply children rebelling against the faith of their parents means that all Atheist are rebellious children.