“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, August 27, 2010

Did man invent God in his image? (summary)

...To summarize the last three posts: First, we asked whether God made man in his image, or man invented the idea of God in his own image. We recognized that the existence of God is consistent with the natural development of the idea of God in the mind of man - believing in God does not mean that one must reject an evolutionary account of how theism developed. The question is whether biology alone can account for all the ideas of God that men have conjured up. Most importantly, we noticed how different the Christian idea of God (in particular, the idea of the Trinity, and of Jesus' unity with God) is from the gods of mythology, and we saw that this God cannot be easily brushed aside as an invention of man.

In conclusion, we cannot reach a definite answer to the question of whether God or man created the other in his image by looking only at man's idea of God and how it developed biologically and socially. The most common idea of God that man has developed (eternal, transcendent, all-powerful, self-existent creator...), shared by the monotheistic faiths, can certainly be described in biological or sociological terms (like all of our perceptions), and both a theistic and a purely naturalistic or atheistic picture can include the biological evidence in its description of man. But the account of man's idea of God can also be more fully fleshed out under the hypothesis that God does exist and made the world so that we would know him largely through natural means. Furthermore, whether a biological description alone can account for all the strange particularities of the Christian idea of God - such as the "tri-unity" of God, or the idea of Christ as a man who is one with God, the uncreated and self-existent Maker - is doubtful.

We cannot simply brush aside the possibility that God exists by pointing to psychological or evolutionary descriptions of man's idea of God. All we can say by looking at the social and biological history of man and his idea of God is that this idea may reflect some deep truth, or there may be nothing to it. The question of God cannot be decided by thinking only in these terms. In order to pursue the issue of whether God exists, we must ask other questions: what worldview best accounts for other facets of human nature, and ultimately for reality as we know it?

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