Making a God in Man’s Own Image.

What if you were tasked with making up a new god.  Your only experience has been with powerful, autocratic and self appointed god-like leaders.

Let’s say those god-like leaders would have been Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and the current Syrian President Assad.  For a god to be like these historical leaders he would be ruthless, engage in mass murder, be cunning and spare no mercy in hanging onto power.

This was, in fact, the experience of those who came up with the Jewish, and later Christian, god.  They had not known of a society that was run on anything but the ruthless take-no-prisoners-god-like humans.

This concept of a self appointed all powerful god is what we see in the Bible.  The reason it appears like humans the writers knew is because humans made up the god.  In other words, humans made their god in their own image.

Have you ever noticed the most common question asked of singers, song writers and sometimes visual artists?  The question is, “Who were your influences?”  Or, “Which other artists influenced you?

The only way we can understand the Jewish/Christian god is to ask the artists, those writers of the Bible, “Who influenced you?”  Since they have been dead for thousand or two years, we have to look at their artistry and compare it to what we know they experienced in their lifetimes and their parents’ lifetimes.

By making a god who reflects man, man’s character flaws can be blamed on the god.

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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. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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15 Responses to Making a God in Man’s Own Image.

  1. Jeffrey Eide says:

    Sounds like you have read Steve Wells’ book, ‘Drunk with Blood’

    I always thought God was kind of a dick for making us in his own image… when you put it that way…

  2. entech says:

    ANTHROPOMORPHISM, the attribution to God of human physical form or psychological characteristics. Anthropomorphism is a normal phenomenon in all primitive and ancient polytheistic religions.

  3. Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

    I wish the examples they had for creating a god would have been nicer chaps. Maybe like, say, entech.

  4. entech says:

    Long before there ever was a garden in Eden: or an Adam and Eve to tend the garden: or even a single creator entity to put it all together – in other words a world existed before the myth that Judeo/Christian (don’t forget those close cousins, Islam) thoughts were based on, that world was the one of primitive herders and farmers. The world was one of mystery to these early people, they tried to explain it all, to themselves and to each other. They were at the mercy of the world around them, the wind and the rain etc. and started to imagine agency in nature, it didn’t rain when needed for the crops – why? perhaps the agent in charge of rain was angry with them for some reason, perhaps some kind of appeasement was needed, a donation, a sacrifice. There must have been many agents in early evolving society. Many gods.
    Some members of these early communities were better observers, better speakers, better at getting their thoughts across to the rest, these were the earliest priests and scientists, all starting at the same time and from the same point of knowledge, total ignorance. The days of the really primitive tribal life were coming to end, the social and intellectual evolution was advancing. It was observed that there was not a neat correlation between sacrifice and result, that there was a capricious element to when the rains came for the best crops, that it did not depend on how much of the crop was returned to the god of rain (through his representative on earth, some things have never changed). The thinking went that there was, perhaps, one god of gods, still a few minor gods for different functions, but only one worthy of honour and sacrifice and then, perhaps, only one actual god, much easier to keep track of and explain the capriciousness to the masses, it was because they weren’t obeying his commands properly (as propagated by the same representatives on earth). The observers continued to observe and the god’s law givers kept giving laws – the observers kept being pushed back by the law, especially when their observations were in conflict with the ‘revealed’ laws (revealed to the same representatives).
    The one true god had evolved into the father figure of a child, no longer the primitives people were still a bit childlike. When an origin story developed it had much of this father image as seen through the eyes of a child, stern and capricious, giving commands without explanation – don’t YOU question ME, you don’t know anything just do what you are told. The child doesn’t quite understand what it has done to deserve punishment, often can’t relate the punishment to the supposed wrong doing (this later became known as sin and was a really big stick to beat the innocents with, of course, as father is just so if you are punished you must have sinned (just not sure how).
    It was time for all of this to be formalised, as near as possible to a coherent story, as possible had to satisfy the evolving mind of the communities.

    Time for a beginning – so we get “In the beginning … “, now formalised as the Father, not only of his children but of the entire universe, of everything. This is a Father to whom we owe everything our existence and obedience (obedience is still defined by his representatives on earth), the representatives need a permanent way of control, so we get the Adam and Eve and serpent story putting everyone permanently in the wrong. That this story was written later and told as seen through the eye and experience of someone at a much later date can be seen from anomalies in the story. An example from the beginning, the innocent young couple, simple gardeners sent to tend the garden in Eden, a good job, a job for life, curious as well as innocent and eventually get led astray and eat the wrong fruit, forbidden by the do as you are told and don’t question me Father. As punishment they are thrown out of work, have to leave the idyllic garden and on top of that are condemned forever, more yet, their offspring are condemned forever as well. Couple of teeny anomalies here, the god who made everything and knows everything didn’t know that they would fall by the wayside? when he was walking in the garden for a chat with his servants his all knowingness didn’t tell him they were hiding? it wasn’t until they told him they were ashamed to be naked in his presence that the realisation came that they had been having a go at forbidden fruit? come on is this the ground of all being, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent and he doesn’t know they broken the prime directive? So, in this environment where this is no death he makes them aprons from animal skins, is this then the first deliberate killing of animals, A & E had been happy with fig leaves. Still in the first few books God still wandered around on the earth was prepared to argue about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, discussed boat building with Noah over a glass of wine – Noah was a well known vintner and it is recorded that he was a little too fond of his product.

    Quite clearly it was all recorded later and lots of it record things that are not chronologically consistent, that actually happened later.
    As the story developed a dilemma arises between the theological need for a transcendental and absolute, divine nature no longer immediately vital and relevant, removed and perfect and worshiped from a distance; and, on the other hand the religious need for a deity where man has some contact with him in a meaningful way that has some relevance.

    We end with a deity in the image of man, a literal man, God the Father and his family of creations. Like a father he needs to be in charge, he needs to be obeyed, but he also needs to be loved and honoured, for his decisions to be understood and accepted. How often do you see the rebellious youth, defiant and refusing to be restrained (think Adam and Eve) eventually settling down and returning to the family.
    The church propagates this image, God loves you and wants your return, just have faith. You better have faith or invoke the mean side, the wrath of god. An all too human story wrapped in supernatural trappings (trappings designed by God’s representatives on earth who have been there from before ‘The Beginning’.

  5. Paul Overby says:

    How do you suppose humans came up with the idea that someone or something created or caused all that was around them? Why wouldn’t they have just accepted it as reality and lived and adapted as needed?

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Paul O. 1:36 One evolutionary explanation is some slice of humans conjured up the notion there must be something or someone they could not see. This was the one moving the sun, making the thunder, etc. Perhaps this caused them to think the being would eventually provide them food when they did not have it. They were more optimistic than others and kept looking for food when others gave up. Those with that kind of brain survived and eventually it became the dominent group.

    • entech says:

      Why do children believe in ghosts, so many are afraid of the dark. Fairies at the bottom of the garden, people don’t seem to like unexplained and invisible things.

  6. buzz marick says:

    why try to outthink the Great Thinker when we can surrender with humility and grace and start to recieve the promises if we work for them. Don’t even have to believe,just have to want to believe.just have to dump the EGO.Amazing! don’t even have to be a Bible Thumper.Howda ya like them Road Apples Twinkle Toes.

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