Is belief in God a psychological crutch?

One of the most pervasive critiques of the Christian faith is the charge that it’s nothing more than a “psychological crutch.” Is God an invention of the mind, a fantasy we’ve imagined into being to give our lives some sense of meaning and purpose? Is belief in God something for the weak—a childish gullibility, a way of avoiding reality?

Amy Orr-Ewing tackles this question head-on in her essay Is Believing in God a Psychological Crutch? She traces the “psychological crutch” charge back to Freud, and offers a Christian response:

From [Freud’s] perspective, God is merely a creation of the human mind, a projection emanating from human need and desire rather than a distinct reality or being that exists independently of the human mind. Freud’s notion of God acting as an idealized father figure for humans, providing a cushion from the harshness of the real world and a comforting friend in the midst of life’s troubles, reduces God to a human construct. Indeed, for Freud, God is made in humanity’s own image and is the “ultimate wish-fulfillment”; God does not actually exist but is merely the creation of humanity’s imagination and desire for a loving father figure.

How might a Christian respond to this? Can God really be explained away so easily by one aspect of psychology?

Read the full article, which is excerpted from Orr-Ewing’s upcoming book Is Belief in God Irrational? If you find this essay interesting, you can read the entire first chapter of the book over at InterVarsity Press.

Lastly, there are plenty more essays addressing the topics of faith, doubt, and apologetics at the Just Thinking archives. Don’t run from doubt and questions—take some time to see how Christian thinkers and writers are responding to tough questions about Christianity!

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