Moral fictions are concepts whose use is ironical but is not known to be so by those who use them.
Westphal, Suspicion and Faith, 24
Religion can easily become a moral fiction—this thing that we convince ourselves is truly true but beyond the confines of our holy huddle remains empty, a wish fulfillment, a self-projection. We want so badly for it to be true, so much so that we become religious hypochondriacs, believing something (or at least convincing ourselves that we do) to our own detriment.
In the show How I Met Your Mother, Ted Mosby is telling his children the story of how he met their mother. But eight seasons in, we still have caught nothing but a glimpse of her ankle and the myth of a yellow umbrella. The show claims to be about one thing (meeting your mother) but remains a moral fiction. It is a show fueled by desire, overcoming mishaps with the character’s hope of finding love and the viewer’s hope that the title will someday come true.
In our religiosity we fuel ourselves in the same way, creating God out of our desires, projecting the divine onto the daily with the hopes of attaining certainty and satisfaction. When all the while, as Peter Rollins writes in The Idolatry of God, “This idea of God as the fulfillment of our desires is so all-pervasive today that most of us take it for granted. Whether people accept the idea of God or reject it, they seem to be talking about the same thing: a being who satisfies our soul by filling the gap in our existence. The only conflict is that some people reject this god-product as fiction while others accept it.”
God is the Love that satisfies our wishes, our emotional wants; he is himself the realized wish of the heart, the wish exalted to the certainty of its fulfillment, of its reality, to that undoubting certainty before which no contradiction of the understanding, no difficulty of experience or of the external world, maintains its ground. Certainty is the highest power for man; that which is certain to him is the essential, the divine.
Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 121