One Less Myth

The Personal God

God is love and hates evil
That sounds great!
Having talked to a bunch of religious folks, it seems like there is a huge range of beliefs on what their god loves and hates
Well not everyone interprets God's will correctly
Maybe that's all it is, but with the huge variety of beliefs, how we can know which one is right
If you talk to enough people, you'll notice something interesting
Their view of their god is inline with their experiences, biases, education, culture, power, and exposure to different worldviews and cultures
Their god tends to align with the values of their culture or community
If they have rarely left their hometown, or never spent time learning and listening to different views, their god will match their limited view of the world
Some people do try to make a god in their own image, but that just means they are wrong about who God is
Of course that's possible, but unlikely
This isn't just a matter of a subset of religous folks having this bias, while the rest align on a clear definition of a god
Which is what we'd expect at minimum of a god that actually exists and has a desire for his followers to follow him correctly
Instead we see in each believer a definition of a god that is a reflection of their hopes and fears
That's not fair! God is more than just a figment of people's imagination
And yet that conclusion explains what we see in the real world so much better
We start to see the appeal of being able to hold unpopular beliefs, without having to take personal responsibility for them. Aka, "God says it, not me!"
We see the appeal of being able to create a ranking system that benefit ourselves, like religious, gender, or moral status
We see the appeal of being able to hold onto unverified, or even disproven, ideas because religion doesn't require evidence
Or perhaps the ability to pervert noble ideas like forgiveness and unconditional love into tools to shame others into absolving ourselves or those in positions of power from the responsibility of the harm or abuse they've caused
If we explore with the theory that God is real and has clear standards, then we have to explain away the incredible lack of consistency in every belief
If we explore the theory that people create a god in their own image, and project their hopes and fear onto it, it is far more consistent with reality, and explains the excesses of religion for better
That doesn't mean that a god doesn't exist!
Of course not! It should give us some cause to think about whether there are other issues with a belief in a deity though
Given how much religion tends to intersect with power, and the impact it can have on even those who don't follow it, it's really really important that we know for sure that it's true and not being used as a proxy for bad ideas