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Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Psychological Necessity of Spirituality

How do you know your perceptions are real? ("65 Deep Philosophical Questions" by Operation-Meditation. Retrieved at:

As paradoxical as it may seem, from my point of view belief in God is highly correlated with sanity and the reliable perception of the real. There is a critical reason why this is so. When my brain finds reality unacceptable,  it can create a reality of it of its own that is psychologically acceptable. Paranoia is the attempt of the brain to rationalize its sense of a necessary reality.  As perception of reality is unacceptable, the brain creates alternative explanations and perceptions that are tenable to the individual. Thus, if I think all my neighbors are spying on me, this can result from from the perception that I am not all that important in their lives – if at all important. I find it more acceptable to think they're out to get me, than that they are largely indifferent to me. This is an example of negative paranoia. There also can be good paranoia. For example, I might speculate that my neighbors are out to throw a big shindig in my honor.  When either of these alternative explanations take hold, I began to connect the dots that would affirm that perception. My brain becomes sealed against the penetration of reality because any real event is transformed in the light of my paranoia – good or bad.  Typically paranoia is virtually impenetrable. Say I think the cafeteria where I eat is poisoning my food. The more earnest the efforts the staff make to allay my suspicions only serve to confirm my suspicions. For example, suppose an expert in food chemistry and poisons is called in to chemically analyze my food. It goes without saying that I will be convinced the analyst is playing an act and is really complicit in the conspiracy.

I find belief in God to be exceptionally helpful in maintaining a saner view of reality. This is so because it removes the triggering mechanism for paranoia.  For example, if I should unexpectedly meet an old friend today in the store and the coincidence seems almost preternatural, I immediately can put it out of my mind and do not need to over-analyze the coincidence.  I remember that God often blesses me in many unexpected ways. There is no need to try to figure it out, to conjure up a rational explanation as to how something out of the ordinary could have occurred. I can rest in the knowledge that God seeks to bless me and he does so in mysterious ways--ways not meant for me to understand.  This cuts off the snowball effect that takes hold when I begin to connect the dots. I always leave the devil out of it because that only induces negative paranoia. When something bad happens to me, I remind myself that God always has my best interest at heart and there must be some redeeming factor in the situation – again beyond my understanding, but that's okay because eventually as always I will come to see the wisdom behind the present challenge.  To sum up, again paradoxically, belief in a spiritual presence in the universe allows me to see the physical world more clearly, coolly, and without accelerating conceptual conflagrations.

At this point you might be saying "What the bejeebers!"  I remind you that I'm only human--and, best remember, so are you.

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