Undeniably, the relationship of a religious person to God is one of dependency. For that reason, Freud qualified it as infantile and, thus, regressive. I disagree. Maturity and dependency are not opposites. A fully independent being—if such creatures exist at all—is a lonely being. No one is fully self-sufficient. Humankind consists of interdependent relationships, those that are complementary and reciprocal. The one fills up where the other has needs and vice versa.
Man’s relationship with God is one of co-dependency. For man, God is both guide and protector. God represents both the archetypical father figure and the archetypical mother figure. On the other hand, the concept of God is fulfilled by humans because God is unknown to other earthly creatures. “The human soul is God’s lamp,” states one of the Proverbs (20:27). If it were not for human beings, God would not exist. The religious believer is like a sculptor. The stone out of which the sculptor will create the work of art contains, as it were, the concept of that work of art, but it is still unformed, shapeless. The sculptor cuts the stone out, by which the unformed is formed and the concept becomes visible. In a similar way, man becomes aware of, gets in touch with, one might say: creates God.
The relationship of man to God is one of reciprocal dependence. Hence, I consider this bond to be normal.
Religiosity enlightens life: it becomes lighter, less difficult. Moreover, it provides light, makes it easier to find purpose and meaning in life, so that at the end of the journey one can say: it all made sense. I made a difference. The God-effigy is certainly not the sole provider of meaning, but no doubt an important one.
In his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Albert Camus considered the central question of philosophy to be whether life is worth living. To me, it is the central question for each and every human being: Without meaning or purpose or goals, life loses its lustre and one is left wondering if it makes sense to continue.
The above conclusion should be complemented with the important provisio that religiosity must come to fruition without coercion, without pressure from without. If religion is enforced and God is presented as a tyrannical, demanding, merciless authority, religiosity will be experienced as a straight jacket. In such cases, religiosity darkens rather than enlightens life.
The secularist is not convinced. He asks the faithful: “Do you really think that your metaphysical world is ‘real’? Is that world not a stubborn fabrication.” The faithful answers: “I don’t know whether that world is a reality. I don’t know, no one knows, no one will ever know. I don’t care. Your question is irrelevant. That world exists for me, in my subjective experiential world. For me that is enough. I don’t need any proof, other than what my experiential life provides me with.” The faithful is right, he has the capacity to create effigies and to imbue them with spiritual meaning. Religiosity is a quality completely outside the rational sphere. It is, above all faith, an experiential state with no need for proof.
There is evidence that supports the notion that religiosity contributes to enlightenment. There are studies that show that religiosity is a normal component of the human personality, a normal feature of man’s experiential range. Its normal occurrence suggests it has a particular function, probably a useful function.