Gods are people too!

Posted by on June 27, 2011 in Thoughts | 4 comments

The previous post got me thinking. It’s not a new idea to me, but it still amazes me that people think of God as a bearded man sitting on a cloud. Literally. A white man at that, and with an Italianesque look to him. He wears robes to cover his shame, he has two arms and two legs, he walks around zapping miracles into being on the ground with his massive forefinger.

Of course none of this makes any sense really. The God that people imagine looks more like us than we look like him. An African Christian will tend to believe in a black god, Hindu gods all look Indian in complexion (though some of them are blue skinned), Norse gods had beards and wore Norwegian battle armour, and the spirits of Australian Aborigine legends tell of humans that could shape-shift into animals. The South American gods looked like South Americans, and the Chinese spirits looked a lot like the Chinese people.

This is telling don’t you think?

The other thing that amazes me is the correlation between what a human thinks, feels and wants, and what their God thinks, feels and wants, and that the believers can’t see this for what it is; self projection. For the people of Westbro Baptist Church, god is vengeful and hate filled, not unlike themselves. For a Muslim man in Afghanistan, Allah is also vengeful but seems to have a penchant for underage girls, as seemingly do some of the men of Afghanistan (this is a big generalisation but it serves my purpose). For an Australian fundamentalist like Danny Nalliah, God hates Palestine, gays and foreigners, much like he does.

Not only do people believe that their God looks like one of them, but it acts like a perfect version of everything that they believe in. For some it is love, for others it is revenge, and for others again, it is subjugation of women or the right to bear arms. The term “it’s what God wants” literally translates to “it’s what I want”. People don’t know the will of God, all they know is their own will.

One of the reasons people don’t like you criticising their God, their God’s apparent wants, or the things that their God demands of them, is because in actual fact you are criticising the person. Criticise the God and you criticise the deeply held ideals of the person claiming God’s existence and intervention.

Could it be that people imagine a God that is like themselves, simply because that is what they are familiar with? I think we might be on the right track here, except for one big problem; there is no proof, anywhere that God exists in any form. So does this mean that there is a possibility that God lives in only one place; in our imaginations? That would explain why so many believe God to be like themselves.

Man without God

Man without God

If you start a line of questioning with “Anything we don’t understand was created by God”, then the conversation can go nowhere. We have to start with the observable, then build out way up to a conclusion, not start with a foregone conclusion and use it to explain everything. We create these gods to fulfil a few purposes, including to fill the gap that human imperfections leave, to make possible the idea of an eternity for humans, and to explain the yet-unexplained.

There really is nothing more to it.

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  1. Nice one, Marty.

    Carl Sagan once pointed out that believers never seem to get suspicious of the resemblance between them and the beings they worship, and you hit the proverbial nail on the head as to why they get so offended when their beliefs are questioned.

    We often identify with the beliefs we hold, considering those fundamental to us as core to our self-image, even without recognizing that fact.

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  2. A favorite quotation of mine is “When it turns out that God hates all the same people you do, you can be sure you’ve created him in your own image.”

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  3. Xenophanes points this out; he was a theist.

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  4. There seem to be quite a few people in the Catholic church who don’t at all have the same “deeply held ideals” as the god represented in the Bible.
    Yes, maybe those who choose their faiths, and the originators of faiths, and those who make the rules of faiths make them in their own image, but there are more than a shit ton of people who are simply made to feel guilty for not having their god’s ideals.

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