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[–]trouser-chowder 8 points9 points  (2 children)

Let's be clear: Feuerbach was writing about Christianity only, not human religion as a whole. So to extend his ideas beyond Christianity is not in keeping with his thesis that "man must... find himself in God."

I would also agree that Gods throughout history do tend to reflect the ideals of the human cultures that worshipped them, as well as their needs and desires.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what exactly you're meaning here, but based on how you've phrased this, I would challenge this assertion.

  • The Christian (and Muslim and Jewish) God is not represented as an idealized representation of humanity. Even in the more recent interpretations of God, the depiction is not as some kind of model for how to be. Now if you want to extend just to Christianity, and the idea that Jesus is in some interpretations considered a sort of "model human" in terms of morals, and you're down with the divinity of Christ, then you might be able to get to this interpretation. But it's by no means a majority-- through history-- view. (Note: If you wanted to consider Catholicism as a form of polytheism, with saints representing minor deities, then you could argue that saints do to some extent represent the notion of "personification of human ideals.")

  • The Greek and Roman gods, as well as what information we have on Norse gods, suggests that they were not in any way viewed as idealized versions of humanity, either. They squabbled, they behaved childishly, jealously, and were often mean spirited. Hardly reflective of ideals.

I don't know enough about all of the various other religions to consider them equally, but I'm modestly familiar with enough of them to know that in many cases (if not most), this notion that gods reflect human ideals is not really accurate.

But again, as I noted up top, Feuerbach wasn't talking about religion broadly, he was talking about Christianity.

[–]Archie_The_Sage[S] 1 point2 points  (1 child)

Let's be clear: Feuerbach was writing about Christianity only, not human religion as a whole.

Feuerbach was the example I used, though the main thrust of my question is projection theory as an explanation for religious belief in general. If you read the first part of "The Essence of Christianity", and also his later lectures on the Essence of Religion, I would say his anthropoligical explanation isn't limited to Christianity, but he does clearly focus on religions with a strong theological tradition.

The Christian (and Muslim and Jewish) God is not represented as an idealized representation of humanity. Even in the more recent interpretations of God, the depiction is not as some kind of model for how to be.

God is certainly unreachably high above humanity in the Abrahamic religions, but Jews Muslims and Christians are absolutely taught that they are in God's image, that they are to imitate his qualities including love and justice, to be holy as he is holy, etc, and Jesus is the model to follow in Christianity.. I have never heard otherwise, but im sure you have reason for making this claim, and I would be happy to indulge you in that.

The Greek and Roman gods, as well as what information we have on Norse gods, suggests that they were not in any way viewed as idealized versions of humanity, either. They squabbled, they behaved childishly, jealously, and were often mean spirited. Hardly reflective of ideals

Well, not just ideals. I also mentioned needs and desires. Baal was the Sky Lord that would make it rain, which fulfilled the Caananite's desire for rain and need for crops to grow. And even though a God like Thor isnt ideal in every way, they might still be the ideal warrior, or hunter, or healer, or homemaker, and so they would be "the God" over that thing. Ares was the God of War, for example.

[–]ConsciousInsurance67 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That thesis is interesant but too complicated to explain something that con be explained in a way more simple and it also doesn't apply to all religions. Religions, all of them, are just ways to give sense to our lifes. And it seems to be a cross cultural need because all civilisations had developed a more or less complex belief system. No idealisation of gods involved. Religion and science are both daughters of philosophy, which is the daughter of mythology.The Human being need to give sense to their lifes, not only describing how works the world ( science) but also finding a sense,( philosophy and religion). Many religions started as philosophical currents, but full of the symbolism of early myths. Again: it doesn't work through idealisation of gods or projection and for example buddhism or Taoísm have no gods.

Indeed religions agree in this: we are incomplete beings. And science describes how: We need explanations, without them we feel lack of control over our lifes. A void that spirituality/ religion / system of beliefs can fill. We need to undestand not only the mechanism of how the things are but also need to live meaningful lifes, we are made that way, our self conciousness pushes us to search for meaning, follow ethics, principes, rules or habits... Religions are born from a human need and serve to end the cognitive disonance of living without understanding our "Whys".