The foundations of religion are threefold, like a tripod supporting a structure. Without one of the supports, the structure becomes dangerously unstable and will inevitably collapse.
A successful religion requires a significant need fulfilment factor. Needs are either physiological or emotional. Ultimately, even physiological needs are emotionally connected as if we cannot fulfil them, we will probably become ill or die and this is emotionally overwhelming.
So let’s say that every action we take in life is to fulfil some type of primarily emotional need. We generally don’t do things that we don’t need to do.
A religion is an ideology that promises to fulfil a signficant need for the individual and that also encompasses active ritual participation. All religions consume time and energy and in order to achieve the fulfilment of needs, one must work towards it. A ritual is a symbolic series of standardised actions required to fulfil a need. The key word is symbolism, in that the ritual holds personal emotional significance to the participant through its unique set of actions.
When rituals are performed, emotional needs are fulfilled. We usually connect the word ritual with religion or with some type of belief structure, belief that the ritual must be performed in a specific way to achieve need fulfilment.
Good, strong religions have testimonials, accounts by mortals who have achieved need fulfilment and can bear witness to the validity of the doctrines. These people lead by example and their words are the written instructions on how to achieve fulfilment.
A religion doesn’t necessarily need a prophet but it does need corroborative evidence from trusted sources and who better than somebody who has already fulfilled certain needs and has knowledge of the process required for success.
If we adopt a religion, we make a commitment of trust, time and other emotional resources in order to achieve our emotional goal. And what is that goal?
Satisfaction, of course. We aim to satisfy ourselves and religion helps us to do this.
When we talk about need fulfilment, we must look at ourselves in the barest sense. We have our physiological needs but we also have core emotional needs that must be fulfilled to give us emotional security.
You’ve heard the story of the billionaire who shot himself because he was too depressed. It’s probably a common thing. Satisfaction of physiological needs is essential but when they cease to even be a concern, what other needs do we have?
Plenty. Love, comfort, belonging, a sense of purpose and placement, pleasure, respect, recognition, responsibility, the list goes on. We are unique in our emotional needs and they are diverse and complicated but whatever they are, we need them satisfied to feel emotionally secure.
Here’s where Strut One of religion comes in, the concept of the Higher Power.
I have always felt that animals, in particular are born with the faith/trust structure in place. Instinctively, we trust our mother upon birth or whoever substitutes as a mother. The bond is recognised from parent to child and vice versa. The child has simple needs and the mother takes care of them all. In the child’s eyes, the maternal figure is God, the giver of life and the facilitator of all needs, emotional and physiological. No other candidates need immediately apply.
A human baby has no concept of religion or God but it has the implicit faith/trust trait instinctively and will always turn to the maternal figurehead to satisfy needs. Here’s the interesting thing. Whoever satisfies the baby’s needs predominantly will become the avatar of implicit trust.
When something repeatedly fulfils our needs and satisfies us, it becomes trusted. On the flipside, if it repeatedly fails to satisfy needs then it becomes doubted.
From birth, we have our needs provided for in their entirety and as we mature, we seek other ways of fulfilment.
The Higher Power is an important part of any religion and without it, a religion lacks the pivotal power base from which to operate. The Higher Power is the entity responsible for providing complete fulfilment of needs. By virtue of its elevated position and its ability to provide for needs, it is worshiped as a mother figure despite its usually masculine stereotype. It is fair to say that we love God as much as we love our mothers during early childhood. Mothers can be bad but in early infancy, a bond is usually found between a carer and a new born.
The mother’s identity is irrelevant, the point is this: as animals we latch onto the first thing that can fulfil our needs. We implicitly trust this avatar of maternity through repeated satisfaction of needs. As we mature, we love and we cherish, we respect and we honour our parent or parents. Usually.
Do we operate any differently as we grow, start families, get careers? It’s all based on personal emotional need fulfilment.
A Higher Power answers a lots of ‘why’ s and ‘how’ s, brings closure to uncertainty, particularly concerning life and death. The worship aspect comes from the awe-inspiring gratitude to the Higher Power for its emotional rewards.
Why do we feel we need to worship? Is perfunctory thanks and recognition not enough?