Tuesday, August 14, 2012

God as psychologist

I've been thinking about how I view God and religion, and I think it's different from some of my fellow LDSs. I hate it when people say "everything happens for a reason," as if everything in my life were pre-determined. That just makes me feel like I'm playing a "guess what I'm thinking" game with God. Rather, I believe that humans were designed with religion in mind, but that it's possible God doesn't have to directly act as much as some believe He does. I think of this as a possible way that things could work, not necessarily the "right" way.

I believe that some religious activities are a kind of  psychological safeguard. The act of praying daily--organizing in our minds what we're thankful for and figuring out what we need (both great things to do anyway)--may help us be happier and goal-oriented, even if God Himself isn't paying all His attention to you (which seems kind of impossible to my mortal brain). I also think that things like FHE are going to bring families together because, duh, you're spending time together. I guess what I'm saying is that God is a shrewd psychologist in my mind.

In the LDS religion, we believe the Holy Ghost guides us to know what choices are right and if God is there. I also wonder if the experience of feeling the Holy Ghost may be... a part of ourselves. I think that God could design humans to have the feeling of the Holy Ghost when our spirits, or some part of our subconscious, recognizes certain feelings. If I were God, I'd certainly want to design things to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Another way I think God is a good psychologist is through having His worshipers give service. If we're not getting paid to do something unpleasant, we get cognitive dissonance about it. Sometimes it makes us value the work we're doing even more. I think people who work a lot at the temple must feel this way, because it seems like it would feel like a very boring job sometimes (kind of related: effort justification).

I still see God as a (sometimes) loving God, but the more I think about how He's set up religion, the more it seems like He really understands human psychology. Makes sense, right?


Genuine Draft said...

I think the same thing about prayer, that the act of praying can fulfill the prayer.

Andrea Landaker said...

Yeah, I kinda agree with you. The very act of asking God to help us be more charitable, or to help us not get angry easily, helps us remember to do those things. I don't think God changes us when we pray for that; that would take away our agency. But He might give us some reminders of what we asked Him about.

Christina said...

This makes a lot of sense to me, too. Thanks for posting.