Faith as a Psychological Need

Rhea Sachdeva

Group members: Simren Menon, Lucas Melanson, Chris Beilstein

Date: March 6st-11th

WOK Badge: Faith


Faith is a topic that relates to every human in at least some way. I thought it would be interesting to delve into the deeper aspects as faith, as I don't often research it. My parents are fairly religious. I was brought in a semi-religious environment, so I also have faith in God, but am mainly a believer of science as well. My aim for this project will be able to research and understand a topic that I frankly don't know much about in comparison to many others, and to hopefully understand topics I am unsure about.


The elective reading I focused on was the first story in Believers and Doubters. It was an interesting perspective, as the person talking was Anne Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham. Billy Graham did a Ted Talk many years ago in 1998 about faith, and in this talk Lotz was describing the talk of her father many years back. They talked about the differences between belief and faith, and how doubters have come to change their mind when on their deathbed. This made me focus on the question, "Does faith meet a psychological need?". This talk made me curious of why people change their mind when they're so close to death. I wanted to identify if it could be for a need of some sort that can be brought up in a life threatening situation. I have heard of other stories, of course, of atheists going against their beliefs near death. One idea I have is if faith is a comfortable idea in people's mind, and aids in answering metaphysical questions such as "What happens after death?". If this is the case, it would satisfy the need to answer the unknown.


Faith exists for the reason of satisfying the psychological need to understand metaphysical questions and the unknown. An example of this is the former militant atheist named Scott Coren. He was a devout atheist, focusing on only logic and facts. This changed when his daughter was born with a serious heart condition. He found himself pondering on the metaphysical question of “What happens after death?”, and came to the conclusion that there had to be something after life. His newfound beliefs cemented his mind to have faith in religion. Scott Coren believed that the most logical and reasonable viewpoint would be that there has to be something after death, and ergo his mind was completely changed. His psychological need to answer such a question transformed his prior atheist beliefs, to something akin to faith and trust.

For my extension, I would like to include the article I used for my paragraph: This is about a former militant atheist named Scott Coren who changed his perspective completely and continued on with a life filled with faith. His daughter was diagnosed with a heart condition at a very young age, so he often found himself contemplating what life would be after death, believing that it just can't be the end. Since Coren was familiar with religious background and texts beforehand, he described it as "looking through it with a new lens" when he reread them with a strong faith and belief now. It is an interesting article of someone who directly changed his opinions of the world because of someone so dear to him.


I feel like this was a very eye-opening way of knowing for me. Since I was brought up in a religious household, I was familiar with some of the legends of my culture, but was never as devout as others since in America not much of my Indian heritage is spread outside from my home. Learning about what faith means to others of different religions, and even atheists was something that I never really looked into beforehand. It was intriguing to observe the necessity of faith in humankind and see how people develop it depending on the situation. I learned so much about faith that I never knew beforehand, like the differences between faith and belief. The project and writing went well, but I wish we would have had more time to go over this way of knowing. Since we couldn't do an actual project, we spent less time on this one than others (understandably because of Spring Break).

Do life threatening situations change people's faith? I ask this because I have seen multiple examples of this happening, and wanted to research if it was really such a common occurrence. How do humans answer metaphysical questions? This is a question highly connected with my project, because a lot of the research I did made people answer these types of questions with faith. I wonder if there is a scientific approach to answering metaphysical questions as well, since they are so abstract. Lastly, to what extent can your faith be altered? I ask this in relation to the article I read as my extension. It states that Scott Coren already has a background in religion, and from that I can deduce that he had at least somewhat of a religious household when growing up. This means by altering his views back to something of faith, he was also reverting back to the lifestyle he grew up in. I wonder if that was a factor in his gradual process of changing back - or if he would have done it anyway without a solid foundation in religion.

Created By
Rhea Sachdeva

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