Need for Certainty: a deeper trait than religion


Dil Aram Ministry: India circa 1970s

In my youth, I worked for a brief time in a halfway house in India. “Dil Aram” (Heart of Peace) was a large Christian communal house in Dehli’s rich suburb of Defense Colony.  Dilaram’s mission was devoted mainly to helping Western travelers who had drug problems (many out of local jails) or those psychology lost. Clients did not have to be Christian, nor was conversion required.  But these rehabbing addicts did have to participate with the community which meant cleaning, cooking, and shopping together as well as attending prayer meetings and bible studies.

Inevitably, many of these troubled vagabonds converted. But ironically, while they were coming in, I was going out — I was slowly leaving Christianity. And watching the conversions of these ex-addicts was part of helping me see my way out of my Christianity.

Many of these addicts were manipulative, charismatic types. And what I observed was that they created their new belief in God and love of the Bible (yes, it was a Protestant group) around these personality traits. That is, their personality didn’t change much, just the tools their personality used.  Their Christianity was manipulative — they used it to gain favors and admiration — and all that, very charismatically. Mind you, Christianity served them better than their buying and selling of drugs, but the person did not change much.

Tom Rees, reviews a Polish study here which shows that “need for certainty” may be a common trait for vehement Atheists and religious folks alike. The study seems weak to me, but for some atheists, I certainly see this to be true — they may be open to lots of other ideas but they are certain that religion is only for the ignorant, superstitious and foolish. Their atheism allows them to divide up their world with some certainty — the foolish vs the wise.

As a huge number of my posts on this blog show, I disagree with such atheists strongly — but fortunately, I find that they are disproportionally more common among blogging atheists, compared to the general population of religion-free folks.

My point, and one I make often in this blog, is that our beliefs (religious, political and more) are flavored highly by our personalities. We usually use our beliefs to clothes our inner traits — it is those traits that are more telling of who we are, rather than our beliefs.

More info:

  • Here I write on how complex beliefs (all knotted up) can deceive us into certainty
  • Those months with Dil Aram were eye-opening. Here is a post I wrote about a more inane insight I had during my time at Dil Aram: “Peeing Epiphany”.
  • Interesting !  Just before posting this, I ran into this video set on the Dilaram house in Delhi.
  • Dilaram was a ministry of the protestant missionary group YWAM (Youth with a Mission)



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

4 responses to “Need for Certainty: a deeper trait than religion

  1. Simon Cox

    Ye I was one of those vagabonds and met the “carpenter ” from Nazareth at Dilaram, Delhi. I was aged 21 and had been “on the road ” from age 13. Now I am 60 and look back at that life changing , amazing experience . I went on to become a successful businessman and , got married and have 4 amazing children. I still attend church every week and work two days a week in our local night club area, telling people about Jesus and replicating my success.

  2. Good for you Simon. Embracing a world view can be life changing. Thanx for the comment.

  3. Colette Carpentier

    J’étais à Dilaram House à Dehli en 1976. Je ne sortais pas de prison, je fumais de temps en temps mais je n’étais pas dépendante de la drogue. J’étais juste errante, sans but, sans foi. A quoi bon faire des plans, vivre tout simplement quand tout cela est éphémère et superficiel ?
    A Dilaram, j’ai rencontré des chrétiens qui vivaient leur foi. J’ai commencé à lire la BIble, sans y croire, juste pour voir et essayer de comprendre.
    J’ai alors reçu la conviction que Dieu était bien à l’origine de toute chose et j’ai voulu en savoir plus. Cette conviction m’a complètement ébranlée et a été à l’origine d’un changement profond dans ma vie. Depuis, je chemine avec cette certitude en moi : Dieu est bien la source de tout, Il m’aime, Il nous aime, et ne veut qu’une chose, que nous suivions le chemin
    qu’Il nous a réservé, car il n’y en a pas de meilleur.
    Ce que vous dites de Dilaram ne correspond absolument pas à ce que j’y ai vécu. Je suis reconnaissante à ceux qui m’ont accueillie. J’ai perdu tout contact avec eux, mais je ne peux pas oublier qu’ils ont été pour moi des témoins sur mon chemin.
    45 ans plus tard, je continue sur cette route, et je ne regrette rien. La paix et la joie intérieure ne m’ont pas quittée.
    Merci Dilaram, merci à toutes les personnes qui se sont engagées dans cette mission.

  4. Collette (if you are following):
    I actually thought very highly of Dilaram and learned many things there and met excellent people. But I did find people who matched those I mentioned in this post. Did you meet any folks like that. Sorry that you thought my post was negative. Mind you, I am now religion-free, but I think the good moral and inner peace life can be followed by anyone, without religion. But if lived well, a religious life can be superb too. Thanks for visiting, Sabio

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