This explanation of the concept of God is something that really took hold in my mind once I heard it. The idea simply encompasses so much and explains it so well.
Up front admission: I am borrowing wording heavily from others in putting this together.
This quote popped out at me powerfully from one of the videos in the series I linked in my last post. “The primary psychological function of the concept of a personal god is to give the believer a surrogate parent. Some minds are able to become independent of parental figures; others cannot or fall into self-destructive behaviors without them. Minds in this category rely on religion. The God concept is useful for motivating and pacifying them.”
As soon as I heard this I knew that I’d come upon something profoundly true and began looking into it further. I did find some scholarly papers on the topic and a presentation or two. (I much enjoy the work presented by Professor J. Anderson Thomson who hits on several excellent points besides this one.) But I must credit someone who goes by the handle Copernicus on ‘The Secular Cafe’ for his brilliant summary of this whole God(s)-as-parent concept. Following are his words:
–One thing that is common to all humans is the fact that we start out with absolute trust in the judgment of adults–usually our parents. We learn morality–the difference between good and bad behavior–from them. Adults are mysterious beings that are omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. They provided all nourishment and protection.
Most people seem wedded to the intuition that morality is “objective”. That is, it comes from a single authoritative source that cannot be questioned. (I prefer the term “authoritative morality” over “objective morality”.) Why is that? It is a consequence of how we learned morality in the first place. It wasn’t based on the consequences of actions, but on what we were told to do by authority figures.
As we matured, we gradually broke down our dependence on parental authority. This break with authority becomes especially pronounced in the teen years. However, gods (or God, for monotheists) fill in the gap that we leave when we abandon our reliance on the experience, wisdom, and authority of adults. Gods stand in loco parentis for maturing humans.
One thing that we can say about all human beings is that we are all raised by adults, and we first learn moral behavior by fiat from adults. Given that we need to be weaned away from dependence on those adults in order to survive in adulthood, belief in a god can fill in the gap left by the loss of parental authority. Hence, people are very comfortable with the idea that morality is grounded in the authority of a judgmental being–a parent–rather than some abstract utilitarian principle. —
Brilliant Mssr. Copernicus. From all this we can now readily understand why theistic believers become so upset when challenged about their beliefs. Just think of how a child reacts if you impugn the character of his/her parents. In like manner, a biologically adult human who believes in a god or gods is attached to a parent still and will, like a child, bristle because you challeng their source of security, nourishment, and all things good.
Remember how anguished most of us were when we first deconverted? We experienced “leaving home” and for the first time in our lives and we stood alone as true adults without a parent. That is apparently not something most humans want.
Been a looooonnnngggggg time. Found these and just wanted to put them up here for anyone to enjoy.
Actually wanted to link the home page of the guy who created the series but couldn’t. So here is the best video to start with. You can click on the YouTube icon near the bottom of the video and get to the rest of the vids in the series.
It is not an ideological position that should be the primary goal of those hoping to make the world a better place, but rather the practiced exercise of rationality. Atheism Plus is merely a position that hides the primacy of rationality behind a tag that represents a position that may have been arrived at irrationally. If rationality is maintained as our primary goal, our various positions such as those on the god question, social justice, and humanist ideals will inevitably migrate towards a convergence on maximal rationality. Our commitment to rationality will also serve as the foundation for dialog between positions.
This is absolutely brilliant!
10. A man’s place is in the army.
9. The pastoral duties of men who have children might distract them from the responsibility of being a parent.
8. The physique of men indicates that they are more suited to such tasks as chopping down trees and wrestling mountain lions. It would be “unnatural” for them to do ministerial tasks.
7. Man was created before woman, obviously as a prototype. Thus, they represent an experiment rather than the crowning achievement of creation.
6. Men are too emotional to be priests or pastors. Their conduct at football and basketball games demonstrates this.
5. Some men are handsome, and this will distract women worshipers.
4. Pastors need to nurture their congregations. But this is not a traditional male role. Throughout history, women have been recognized as not only more skilled than men at nurturing, but also more fervently attracted to it. This makes them the obvious choice for ordination.
3. Men are prone to violence. No really masculine man wants to settle disputes except by fighting about them. Thus they would be poor role models as well as dangerously unstable in positions of leadership.
2. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was betrayed by a man. His lack of faith and ensuing punishment remind us of the subordinated position that all men should take.
1. Men can still be involved in church activities, even without being ordained. They can sweep sidewalks, repair the church roof, and perhaps even lead the song service on Father’s Day. By confining themselves to such traditional male roles, they can still be vitally important in the life of the church.
[original source unknown: Please let me know if you know the author so we can properly credit the brilliant originator]
This post will hopefully be short. I have not written much in a while but recently have been solving what I believe to be a direct result of strong religious influence: drama.
It has occurred to me that fundamentalist beliefs are a direct precursor to drama. All those sayings about “keeping alert” and never letting yourself be lulled to spiritual slumber brought me, on more than one occassion, to wonder why is nothing spiritual happening? And then, in my own way, I would begin seeking out signs of drama occurring to confirm to myself that something spiritual was happening.
And then you have pastor’s making overarching statements like “if you have not been involved in leading someone to the Lord or witnessing recently then you should check your spiritual life out to make sure you are not becoming spiritually lazy” or the apostle Paul saying drama dripping statements like “if you want to be godly you will be persecuted” (paraphrased). The obvious implication is that if you are not being persecuted you are not being godly enough. Therefore: seek drama!
From doing some reading on the internet I’ve come to realize that drama is a natural human reaction to boredom. This makes some sense when one considers that concept of a small-town gossip, but it makes even more sense to me when considering all the drama in churches back home where everyone is looking for signs of spiritual activity of some sort. Everyone wanted a stable, united church but everyone also wanted spiritual warfare to be visible in their lives so they did not feel spiritually lazy.
The end result? Drama.
Fast forward to today: I have come to realize that the drama in my life (just read some of my old posts) has lingered until today. I find myself almost subconsciously double-checking my emotions and if I do not “feel right” its almost like I get a little rush from it. It takes me back to all the times I thought that Satan was involved in a situation when in reality someone (maybe me) was just being an ass or someone was just in a bad mood. It was almost like my belief that everything was right was fueled by feeling that something was wrong. Because, after all, if you felt a dark spiritual presence attacking you that must mean you are right with the Lord. Or you are wrong with the Lord. In any case, it was a little fuel for the spiritual fire. And going from those dark, black moods to a realization that they are actually a sign that everything is good is the ultimate rush. I’ll dub it spiritual bipolarism.
We grew up learning about the spiritual “greats”: Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis, Edwards, etc. The one thing I do remember reading, though, is that all of these men – in their own way – suffered from deep depression for large periods of their life.
Could it be that the “spiritual depression” and drama are a direct result of the underlying concept that seeing drama is the ultimate way to confirm to yourself you are in a spiritual battle and thus succeeding spiritually?
Just a thought :)
Okay, I’m going to go a bit off-script here, and throw out a rant. A rant that, despite truly heroic efforts on the part of my inhibitory circuits, I simply cannot withhold. I normally like my posts to be more polished than this, but what the hey. Consider this a brief follow up to my earlier post about how to handle Facebook. A personal aside, if you will.
One of my relatives just posted this link on their FB page, that showed up in my newsfeed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j321v_3dwUM.
It shows a scene from the recent unrest in Egypt in which, due to either a lens-flare or Photoshop prankster — and really, who the hell cares which, the ghostly image (well, kinda sorta, if you squint real hard) of a horse and rider appears to move through the crowd.
Needless to say, the people posting this and commenting on it are getting “goose bumps” and “chills” declaring for all to know that “God is REAL!!” It is, they are quite sure, one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These are very nice people, and they are not kidding.
Oh, dear me.
All I can say is that its striking, unsettling, and not a little scary just how credulous people can be. I’ve been a skeptic so long I tend to forget that. I tend to hang around atheists and agnostics, or at least fairly nonreligious people. I read nonreligious books and blogs. It’s easy to loose touch with how almost indescribably, painfully eager some people are to believe. I mean criminy — even from within the framework of an evangelical Christian worldview, there is nothing whatsoever that requires one to believe that this video is real. It’s a Horseman of the Apocalypse? Seriously? Is that really the best explanation here – even if you are a Christian, does that even make sense? Wouldn’t one expect a Horseman of the Apocalypse to be more, well, apocalyptic than that? What, is he the Horseman of Crowd Control? Conquest, War, Famine, and uh, Teargas? Are they moonlighting, maybe?
(For the record, I did not myself comment on this FB thread. That would be an unpleasant experience for all, shall we say.)
It is times like these that I am very grateful for online communities such as this one. It can be very lonely out there. Skeptics are still, despite everything, a rare breed. More than that, critical thinking itself is a rare skill. Their interpretation of this video is nonsensical even from within their worldview. It just packs an emotional punch, so it must be true. It’s kind of amazing our species has made it this long.
Okay, <whew> I feel better. Thanks for indulging! I can wipe the spittle off my computer now!