Let us first start with the definitions: http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/faith
faith �� (fth) KEY � NOUN:
- Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
- Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
- Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.
- often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.
- The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.
- A set of principles or beliefs.
In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defence mechanisms or defense mechanisms (see -ce/-se) are psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image. Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior such that the physical and/or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of the Ego Defence Mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.
Let’s use the definition of faith in number two. The person concerned does not believe his religion due to rationalization but probably due to authority. I personally don’t find anything wrong with having a belief which has not been validated by rationality. What seems weird though is, some people believe that their beliefs are definitely the truth with no room for error. Now that seems stretching it a bit too far. We all know that when we were kids we believed that our parents were infallible. But as we grew up we noticed that they just simply knew more. Now why would grown up humans, supposedly rational at that, actually believe that some supposedly representative of God is infallible. Has there even been any perfect track record of that person? Has the that organization which supposedly represents God been acting immaculately clean? To put everything in perspective, let us think that this religious organization is a company which your pretty freshly graduating daughter would want to apply to for a job. Say you are looking for a company, not only for your daughter’s financial future, but also for her moral well being. These would possibly be a list of a few requirements:
- The company or its employees should have no history of criminal activity.
- The company’s employees should have no history of internal sexual harrassment.
- The company should be ethical in its principles.
- The company should always tell the truth and not tell half lies in order to save itself.
- The company should not use fear in order to be followed.
Now since religion is primarily for being good and going to heaven, it should not only pass the above requirements, but should actually pass it with flying colors. So, does your religion pass? Is my analogy reasonable? To put it more bluntly, would you let your pretty daughter get employed in a company which employs several people who are accused of sexual harassment or even sexual intercourse with minors of the same sex? And worse of all manages to shuffle them to another location where they are near other minors instead of quarantining them? If they can’t pass that simple test! How can you even state that everything they are saying is absolutely true? On to ‘defense mechanisms’. As state in the above quote: “are psychological strategies brought into play by various entities to cope with reality and to maintain self-image” “The purpose of the Ego Defence Mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety, social sanctions or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.” You may ask, what are the realities that a human being has to cope with which is addressed by religion.
- To be given hope when one is down.
- To be given a parental figure, specially if one feels that he/she is missing such.
- To be given hope that there is life after death.
- To feel that justice will be given to the ones who have wronged him/her.
Does the above make sense? I have been to several internet forums where discussions take place. When logic begins to batter believers, usually one angle they resort to is that life will be better if one believes in something, if one has hope.
Try checking out the definition of one of the “psychological defence mechanisms” called “denial”.
Denial (also called abnegation) is a defense mechanism postulated by Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.  The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether (simple denial), admit the fact but deny its seriousness (minimisation) or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility (transference). The concept of denial is particularly important to the study of addiction. The theory of denial was first researched seriously by Anna Freud. She classified denial as a mechanism of the immature mind, because it conflicts with the ability to learn from and cope with reality. Where denial occurs in mature minds, it is most often associated with death, dying and rape. More recent research has significantly expanded the scope and utility of the concept. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross used denial as the first of five stages in the psychology of a dying patient, and the idea has been extended to include the reactions of survivors to news of a death. Thus, when parents are informed of the death of a child, their first reaction is often of the form, “No! You must have the wrong house, you can’t mean our child!”
The problem with this hope is, it seems to fit into this “defense mechanism”. There are 4 levels of defense mechanisms, from the least mature starting with level one to the most mature being level four. Denial is a first level “defense mechanism”
Level 1 Defence Mechanisms
The mechanisms on this level, when predominating, almost always are severely pathological. These three defences, in conjunction, permit one to effectively rearrange external reality and eliminate the need to cope with reality. The pathological users of these mechanisms frequently appear crazy or insane to others. These are the “psychotic” defences, common in overt psychosis. However, they are found in dreams and throughout childhood as healthy mechanisms.
- Denial: Refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening; arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by stating it doesn’t exist; resolution of emotional conflict and reduction of anxiety by refusing to perceive or consciously acknowledge the more unpleasant aspects of external reality.
- Distortion: A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs.
- Delusional Projection: Grossly frank delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature.
I don’t know what Psychology officially thinks about religious faith. I don’t know if they even consider my analogies above to be reasonable or if they are just skirting the issue and just being religiously tolerant.