Is it any wonder that such a human-centric field, process, and mode of thought would focus on such an equally human emotion as desire?
However, there exists a similarly fundamental and pervasive quality of human existence: belief. Belief in a higher power is such a common, universal, and archetypal element of human experience that psychologists and cognitive scientists suspect an evolutionary and physiological reason for our species' craving for it.
Furthermore, the functional process of belief, religion, has persisted among humans for millennia. In fact, if examined as products of human thought, the world's oldest and largest religions—Hinduism, Judaism, Catholicism, and Buddhism, for example—qualify as by far the most successful design systems in history. They all span epochs and cultures and bind otherwise different peoples within a single cosmological view.
Most remarkable, though, is their ability to do so while, in many cases, teaching the suppression of desire. A common element among many systems of belief is the transcendence of human frailty. Through them we are taught to strive for a higher state of being, either on earth or in an afterlife, whose existence cannot be otherwise empirically proven or perceived by our five senses. In other words, they simply ask us to believe—and many of us do.
So what human quality or emotion does belief appeal to, if not desire? And how can design study and harness this quality so ably embraced by religion?
Anyone who has ever attended a Christian marriage service is probably familiar with the famous New Testament passage from the first epistle of Paul of Tarsus to the Corinthians, also known as 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I disagree. Perhaps from a theological perspective, love is the greatest. But from a human perspective, it's hope that wins out. From the perspective of winning converts and keeping true believers—that is, the perspective of keeping an organized religion organized—hope is all you need.