Sunday, July 28, 2013

In His Image

Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form but with regard to their mode of life. -- Aristotle

Believers like to tell everyone that man was created by god in his own image.  But, as astute thinkers have noted for centuries, it is actually quite clear that men create their gods in their own images.  A study done a few years ago, shows this to be true.

The researchers (Epley, et al.) asked religious test subjects about their own views, the views of god, and the views of other people.  They found that people ascribed views to god that were much more in line with their own views than their estimations of other people's beliefs.

After the researchers asked the test subjects to present counterarguments to their own beliefs, they found that the subjects would often modify their own and "god's" beliefs in the same way but would not think that the beliefs of others had changed so much.

Finally, a neuroimaging study of the test subjects found that when asked about god's beliefs, the test subjects showed brain activity in the same area of the brain that was active when thinking about their own beliefs.  But, when asked about other people's beliefs, a different part of the brain was active.

This study confirms the conclusions of numerous astute observers throughout history.  Gods are merely the overlarge projections of the believer's personality.  It is yet another bit of evidence piled on the mountain of evidence that gods are figments of the human imagination.

Frankly, I have always thought that this insight should be combined with Robert A. Heinlein's observation:
Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.
Thus, when a religious person (for some reason) tells you that we are made in god's image, you can say something like

"We created god in our image, and the picture isn't a pretty one."

To which you can add

"I find it disturbing that you can't see that the god of Abraham is a deplorable character."

Because it is disturbing that so many people can be aware of the tales told about this god without noticing how disturbing and immoral they are.

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