The World of Imaginary Friends.

I heard an item on Public Radio the other day about research into childrens’ imaginary friends.  This researcher ask children about who their phantom friends were, what they did and what they said.

She tried to find a pattern in these friends.  There was no pattern.  Children create the imaginary people they need.

Not all children have them and some have many more than others.  The children who have them do better in some aspects of academic development.

To Freethinkers, gods are imaginary adult friends because there is not evidence they exist outside the mind.  We have to admit, however, as with children, these imaginary beings serve well those who carry them around.

One has to think even the earliest humans thought they were on earth for some greater purpose than finding food until they died.  It would have been a relief to believe there was this higher purpose in life, like serving their gods.

Surely the greatest gift of the god of the mind is escape from death.  Escaping death has been a staple of gods from the earliest history.

I’m sure there are folks who are unable to find god in their minds who wish they could.  How comforting it would be to believe it is possible to escape death.

The ability of adults to have imaginary friends is a gift some of us do not have.  Those who say it is available to us think, if they don’t need evidence, we don’t either.

We’re different that way.

We discuss on FaceBook, too.  Red River Freethinkers.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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40 Responses to The World of Imaginary Friends.

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    “What a Friend we Have in Jesus”, and the remaining verses.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Wanna 1:09 “What a Friend….”

      There’s that friend guy. Then, there’s that guy that didn’t like his mother, banished the sword and told followers to forget their families. I don’t think these latter ones are in the song.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Didn’t like his mother? Forget their families? Not

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna 1:24 Didn’t he say something rather nasty to her and didn’t he tell his disciplines to leave whatever they were doing to follow him?
          That is my impression.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Ah yes, the wedding at Cana. His mother was acting under presumption, and his reply was not nasty, but corrective. Yet he did follow through in spite of her presumption. The narrative does not imply He did not “like his mother”. That is just silly. He did provide for her on the cross by presenting her to Peter for her care after He was gone. Hardly something he would do if he didn’t like/care for her. Thinking back to your youth, have you been completely blamless/honest to either of your parents in the same regards, yet you wouldn’t say you didn”t like them. If your parents wanted you to stay home and raise pigs, would you have stayed?

            Re. the disciples; They were adults, and leaving the household would/has been the norm. Even today. After you graduated from high school, you left for college, and for employment. You were following your vocation. There is no indication that they :”forgot their families” (your words). I’m sure you still remember yours, as do I. And I still cared for them, even when away. There is no indication that the disciples didn’t either. Consider children that move away, and don’t see their parents for years, (such as the military). You must consider not only what is written, but what isn’t. You assume what isn’t, and wrongly speculate.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            PS. It would have been nice if you would have referenced specifically the Bible stories you claim, but I think I fairly understand which ones you used.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            First you say “forget their families”, then you say later …”leave whatever they were doing to follow him?” Two different things. The later is more accurate. Fishing, collecting taxes, etc. Hardly so important to leave.

  2. .e says:

    Btw it was John not Peter that Jesus left the care of Mary. Some evidence that she had no other children.

    When Jesus called her “woman”, our modern ears hear irritation, but this is not the case. The reference Jesus was making was to Genesis. Mary is the woman who where Eve sinned, Mary was sinless. Perfectly obedient. Mary is the new Eve.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Oops, you are right, and I knew better. Thank you. Your last two sentences are debatable.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Last 3 sentences, but not going to debate it on this site.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      .e 12:16 “Mary is the new Eve.”

      Surely not. Eve was evil–tempted the sinless Noah. We men have been victims ever since. : ) (I’m just tossing this in. I’m convinced none of it ever happened, Eve or Mary or Peter, etc.)

      • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

        Final Jeopardy! last night:

        Category: Religious Symbols

        Answer: The rooster atop many church weather vanes is there to remind us of a story involving this apostle.

        I’m not sure what to make of the fact that only one of the contestants got this right. It’s one thing to not believe that these stories are not literally true. But isn’t it another, not to know them?

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          No. Interesting, and a memory jogger, but not really important.

        • Henry says:

          Ott: “But isn’t it another, not to know them?”

          According to Ott, it is the Christian’s responsibility to keep up on other denominational tradition’s of men. I don’t believe that is required. I haven’t stumbled upon that portion of the law.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            I love it when Henry tries to tell everyone what I think. I’ve got enough trouble deciding for myself what I think. That issue is compounded by the glorious imperfection of the written word and my ability to wield it. But thankfully, Henry is around to clarify for everyone.

            Anyway, I’m not much for requiring things of others. My point was one of culture and it’s not a new one. How do you hold a thing together without a common body of knowledge? A broadly shared shared set of symbols? A story or stories that, even if not everyone agrees on their meaning, at least most everyone knows. It doesn’t have to be biblical. Maybe it shouldn’t be biblical. But what happens if it stops existing all together?

          • Henry says:

            You conveyed the expectation onto Christians to know the traditions of men regarding other denominations. i.e. rooster/weather vanes. Nice dodge.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            I was under the impression that The Passion of The Christ was cannon for all Christians.

            Henry, am I wrong about that?

            Presumably, these people participating in Final Jeopardy! understand how the show works and can decode the Answer. They simply didn’t know which apostle denied Christ. Two of them picked Paul.

            Further, I didn’t intend to convey any expectation onto anyone, necessarily. I was just shocked that only one person got it right and it got me thinking about the importance of shared cultural references. Perhaps my reaction to this particular question does reveal some bias on my part. But isn’t the issue that I’m raising a common refrain from the Right. i.e. Without a minimum set of shared references you don’t really have a culture.

          • Henry says:

            Ott: “Henry, am I wrong about that?”

            Yes. Neither cannon, nor canon. Rather, compelling interpretation with denomination specific influence.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            I’m very confused, Henry. I haven’t seen every bible, but I’ve never seen one that doesn’t have that story in it. Pretty sure its in all four Gospels.

            I can’t believe that I’m getting sucked down into this morass. The particulars of this story were merely the trigger for a larger question. I’m not trying to say everyone needs to know this or that story, or worse yet trying to denigrate anyone for not knowing the answer to a trivia question. I’m thinking about what is necessary to a culture or society and it seems to me that some overlapping set of shared references may be one of those things.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            To tie it back more explicitly to the topic of Jon’s post. A shared space that our imaginations work in.

          • Henry says:

            No reason to be confused. Just simply read my words without injecting your biases into them.

            The passion is well described in the gospels. How it is displayed in the movie points to a denomination specific influence.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            Henry,

            Got you. I didn’t intend to reference the movie. My undisciplined use of capitals (I did warn you about my issues w/ the written word) led you and perhaps other readers astray. Mr. Gibson’s interpretation is his own.

            In a larger sense these kinds of syntax errors are exactly what I’m talking about though. Another trivial one. If a reader here isn’t familiar with the structure of Jeopardy! they were probably totally flummoxed by the way I presented my initial post. I provided the “Answer” which in Jeopardy! syntax is really the clue, and then didn’t provide “Question” which in Jeopardy! syntax is really the correct response, “What is Peter?”

            Now, if I attempt to reference the story of Peter and the Rooster metaphorically, say as a way of accusing certain members of Congress of placing their own immediate interests above that of the citizens they’re supposed to be serving, but no one knows the story. The reference would be completely lost on them.

            Doesn’t a culture require some minimum set of shared references in order to hold together? Look how hard it is to convey what we actually mean even when we do.

        • entech says:

          Seaofstories 10:14. I know the feeling. I was a cigarette smoker for many years, always knew it was stupid but couldn’t stop, eventually I did. But for a long time it was just like being “sucked down into a morass”, perhaps suckered would be better way of saying it. I knew the words in the advertising were simply wrong, even when not deliberately dishonest.

          • Avatar of seaofstories seaofstories says:

            I feel you.

            What’s the best that can come of this? Henry is inspired to insult me more cleverly?

          • entech says:

            For a long time I made the mistake of taking Hindwreck seriously. Have fun, it makes more sense, both personally and in regard to the blog topic.

          • entech says:

            Seaofstories somehow missed your 10:52. I missed a lot of this thread, being a foreigner and not much of a movie goer. The only thing I know about jeopardy is from artificial intelligence where IBM devised a computer program that apparently was better than most human contestants – probably the less said about Gibson the better.
            As a general point you would expect someone in the final of such a program to have a very wide range of knowledge and language usage. It has been said that without any knowledge of the King James Bible and Shakespeare much English English is lost.
            Many years ago there was a popular science fiction book called “Stranger in a strange land”, about an earth child born on Mars, raised by Martians and returns to Earth (I did say fiction), I wondered at the time how many new the derivation of the title.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        “Tempted the sinless Noah”. Ya right. Sarcasm.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Wanna 3:12 “Ya right. Sarcasm.”

          Wait a minute here. What sin had Noah committed before Eve persuaded him to eat the apple? The only one I know of is that he was naked like she was. I know that is a pretty big sin, but if we set it aside because there was no Walmart, Adam was sinless. Men would be sinless today were it not for the Eves.

          • Henry says:

            Jon: “What sin had Noah committed before Eve persuaded him to eat the apple?”

            1. Eve couldn’t persuade Noah. She preceded him by many years.
            2. “Apple” is Jon’s imaginary sin object. We don’t know what the forbidden fruit was.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Jon; A conflation of millineum. Next we will hear that Eve picked grapes for Noah so he could make the wine that he took with him and his daughters after the confligration at Sodom, which resulted in the Edomites. Unless our Jon is trifling with our infections, he should check timelines.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Because it was an apple, just maybe, it wasn’t wine, but Calvados, and for that we can blame the French via the Normans. Now there is a Monte Python story for you. (An Englishman).

      • Stanta says:

        Noah Jon? Try Adam.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Stanta.11:37 Thank you–yes, it was Adam who was sinless and caused to sin by Eve. So many stories to keep straight. It has occurred to me the word “evil” must have originally referred to Eve. And, for good reason.

          A question anyone here, does the Bible imply Adam would have sinned anyway if Evil Eve had not tempted him? So far as I can tell, the answer is no. The message of the Bible is women are more prone to sin than men.

          • entech says:

            Adam and Eve were both sinless, created mature in form but childlike in experience. According to my information, and I am sure there are many that will tell me if I am wrong, at the time of the early paradise, when God built a Garden in Eden there was no death. We are supposed to think it was all for humanity, actually it was just cheap labour to look after The Garden, but that is another story for another day.
            So we have two people mature in body but with no knowledge of good and evil, no knowledge of death – they were immortal, supposed to do what their father told them but did not really understand. How could they understand they had no experience, no idea what was good or bad, hardly listened to their father and to top it off they were susceptible to temptation. According to the way some people describe modern youth nothing has changed.

            How could anyone answer your question, would Adam have sinned anyway?
            Only God knows that, and that is another interesting subject – could He have organised it differently, would He have organised it differently if He had known how it would turn out, was creation a contingent or a necessary act?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            entech 12:54 “Only God knows that..could He have organised it differently…?”

            I think I know the answer to the general meaning of the Adam and Eve story. It is an adaptation of earlier such stories. It was told in such a way for two purposes: One was to threaten readers (or listeners–written while there was little literacy) and thus control them. The other was to cast women as more clever than men and thus more of a “problem” for those in control.

      • entech says:

        Jon if you can’t keep your imagination in order you should try and keep your imaginaries in sequence

  3. Blasphemer says:

    I find the constant debate/babel over bible stories, made up as they went along, no true fact to ever be known or found,… to be the most incredible waste of mind/time and some seeming otherwise very intelligent individuals.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Blasphemer 5:35 Welcome to the comments area. We’re glad to have you.

      “..incredible waste of mind/time and some seemingly very intelligent individual.”

      Even though there is no evidence, at least that I have seen, intelligent people think it is important enough to devote, not just some time here, but their entire careers to discussing the Bible. Even more surprising, supporters pay people to do it.

  4. I am sticking to the subject of imaginary friends. I had one whose name was Carol for a few years when I was around 6-7. One of the sons had two good friends named after people we knew who came to our farm. Those were precious times with “Courtney” and “Albert”
    This son went on to be the valedictorian of his medical school class so the imaginary friend theory enhancing learning or brain activity is probably the truth. He also was the top student in his major at NDSU. And I am not bragging…just telling the truth.

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