Sixteen Reasons to Believe in God

Article excerpt

There are 16 basic human psychological needs that motivate people to seek meaning through religion, contends Steven Reiss, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University, Columbus. These basic human needs can explain why certain people are attracted to religion, why God images express psychologically opposite qualities, and the relationship between personality and religious experiences.

Previous psychologists tried to explain religion in terms of just one or two overarching desires. The most common reason they cite is that people embrace religion because of a fear of death, as expressed in the saying "There are no atheists in foxholes," Reiss says. "But religion is multifaceted--it can't be reduced to just one or two desires."

Reiss lists the 16 basic needs as power, independence, curiosity, acceptance, order, saving, honor, idealism, social contact, family, status, vengeance, romance, eating, physical exercise, and tranquility.

The study showed, for example, that the religious value honor more than nonreligious individuals. Reiss suggests many people embrace religion to show loyalty to parents and ancestors. …