Demystifying the Myth of Anthropomorphism

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Philosophical musings of Chic Hollis

Atheists reject the various religious concepts of God, but they can’t explain exactly how the universe came into being. Could there have been an invisible “creator” lurking somewhere with a primitive match to ignite the fuse that supposedly caused the “Big Bang?”

Semantics, vague word definitions, and religious dogma complicate any serious human effort to make progress in defining what God might be, other than the “I am” as reported in the Bible. The general impression of the Almighty among modern humans is a highly advanced living, moving, thinking “being” with many human qualities and appendages. The religious faithful take these qualities for granted without realizing that most of them are extrapolations of the superlative qualities that humans wished they possessed.

Removing the humanness of God or expunging the anthropomorphic traits is not part of the job description of a biased religious leader. These pastors are quite happy that the members of their flocks don’t often question the mystery of an ethereal being who supposedly possesses unusual divine powers – powers that don’t jibe with our current scientific theories pertaining to the four identified physical forces. As long as pious preachers don’t deviate from using the common, religiously-accepted adjectives to describe the particular Supreme Being that they worship, they never have to fear any consequences.

But a curious, doubting infidel searching in vain perhaps for a Prime-mover can’t accept the atheist’s declaration that there is no Almighty Creator called God anywhere. If he is an honest researcher, the infidel must delete the human terms currently associated with the word “God” before he can proceed in trying to define in clear, understandable, everyday terms the inscrutable.

The human concept of family with such terms as “father and mother” should be tossed out. The relationship between humans and any Deity, who is presumed to be a patriarch or a matriarch, cannot be verified. It might be a desirable relationship from a human standpoint if it does indeed benefit mankind. However, any detailed explanation of such a relationship is pure speculation.

Most words used to describe the nature of God and God’s behavior toward man such as love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, etc. must be omitted from this conversation. Does anyone know what “divine love” is? Is there any concrete evidence that what we know about human affection can be attributed to God’s character? On what basis? Revelation? If God so “loved” the world, why did He see fit to give us only a handful of prophets and one Jesus hundreds of years ago?

Expressions such as: God sees our problems, hears our cries, and listens to our prayers assume that God possesses visual and auditory capabilities equivalent to human eyes and ears. Many Biblical passages describing God are misleading. “The arm of the Lord” indicates that He or She has some strong physical prowess, and “the anger of the Lord” portrays God as a human personality that hates, loathes, and despises human sinners. “He shall cover thee with his feathers and under his wings…” suggests that he can fly like a modern bird or an extinct archaeopteryx. Giving animal attributes to an unseen superhuman deity whose physical nature is not perceivable to human beings seems to be working the human imagination overtime.

We should stop thinking of God in that manner: having a muscular physique with an assortment of animal appendages and abilities that would classify him zoologically as an advanced, uniquely evolved flying fish mammal. Then, should we automatically assume that God is humanly proud of only human creatures and patient as a doting parent with their misbehavior?

Why do we cast the Almighty Creator in the savior role? When in our human history has God personally showed up on this planet to save someone? Are we to be “saved” from our natural destiny: death by accident, sickness, predator, enemy, or old age? Any kind of existence after dying is hopeful speculation. A fearful human imagination can conjure up all kinds of horrible future scenarios, just check the Sci-Fi channel on Cable TV.

We’re trying to define God here, and one of the common ways we use English words is far beyond our restricted human experience. Our limited vocabulary can’t cover all the imaginable possibilities and extreme conditions in the universe. Glorifying words like “omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient” are affixed to God’s supposedly superhuman capabilities. “Righteous, good, just, and pure” are vague adjectives that reflect our human longing for a divine entity that adheres to our personal morals and ethical standards.

Some sincere folks would go so far as to use words and phrases like “invisible, indivisible, and the intelligence behind the universe” in describing God. A divine entity that possesses such fantastic abilities cannot be fathomed by our simple human minds. Add the words “spiritual and immortal” to our growing description of God, and all these nebulous ideas begin to lose meaning. That is, until we examine God’s inviolable laws that are automatically self-enforcing. They aren’t at all like the unenforceable, humanly designed laws with loop holes and unclear legalese.

The principles underlying what we know about science and mathematics when understood by humans can explain how certain things in the universe function. The subtle wisdom behind these principles and how they interface is truly remarkable. A revelatory moment is merely a break-through event where the beauty and simplicity of some basic principle becomes obvious to mankind. But God remains outside our feeble human intellectual ability to determine what He or She or It actually is.

Since we know very little about the universe, how it was formed, and how it is regulated, anyone who chooses to deny that an Almighty Creator or Prime-mover exists is not any more convincing than someone who swears that an Intelligent Designer actually does exist. If it comforts you to believe either way, so be it. Just be careful that whatever ideas you embrace about a divine entity make sense to you. When you explain your beliefs to others, leave them plenty of room to question your basic human assumptions.

Whichever way you decide to go, be sure you take the human clothes off God and erase the many human character traits we’ve been taught to believe that God possesses. An anthropomorphic God is human fantasy. Long live the irreplaceable and poorly understood original!

Chic Hollis is a longtime drummer and motorcyclist, who served in the US Air Force in North Africa. Married 4 times with 5 children born in 5 different countries on four continents, Chic is a politically independent citizen of the world interested in helping Americans understand the reality that is life overseas where many intelligent, educated, and industrious people aren’t as privileged as we are in the US. He studied Latin, Greek, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German and ran several large companies. Sadly, Chic Has left this planet and we miss him very much, but we are very pleased to display his amazing writing works.