Faith and Human Psychological Needs
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Faith and Human Psychological Needs

Last essay, I suggested that a faith that affirms our importance might reduce the psychological need to feel superior to and dominate others. I think Christianity offers such a faith, because it teaches that everything that God created, including ourselves, is good. It seems to me that Christians who genuinely believe this would be much less inclined to harm humans and nonhumans. They would be ready, willing, and even eager to practice the love that Jesus taught and exemplified. Why have so few Christians done this?
I suspect that, at some level of consciousness, many people fear that faith in God’s concern for us might be misguided. This would lead, among other things, to a deep concern that, when we die, God will not rescue us from everlasting nonexistence. Though many people articulate strong faith in heaven or some other kind of afterlife, there is little, if any, solid supportive evidence. Perhaps the reason “Heaven Is for Real” is a bestseller is that it helps address unsettling doubt in the minds of people. After all, I would not expect a book called The Sun Will Rise in the East Tomorrow to top the charts.
Another barrier to universal love reflects our predicament as human creatures. There will always be competition among us for attractive mates. Whatever the standard of “attractive” might be, it is by definition a scarce resource, and there will always be winners and losers. This leads to anger and resentment, which will always be a source of friction in communities.
Perhaps this is one reason we need faith communities. Those communities that welcome everyone (and, sadly, many do not) help restore a sense of worth among the “losers” in unavoidable competitions. I will reflect further on faith communities shortly. In the meantime, I’m working on a short book review.

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