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  1. #1
    Infinite Bubble
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    Default God in the psyche

    Some thoughts I've had about how the nature of God may possibly present itself within our psyche. I was thinking particularly of the way the concept emerges in times of need (“there are no atheists in foxholes”), and continuation of it due to security and fears revolving around that.

    God fills an emotional role when humans feel backed into a corner. Their conscious or subconscious longing for help within their situation transforms the concept into a sentient being capable of understanding and with the ability to help. Humans’ instinct for safety and desire of easily of getting through difficulties gives God the powers it is known to have, which are usually incredibly idealistic. At such a point where the human asks for Gods help, the instinct is pushed to the limit, and so wants help with no effort on their part, because at this point they feel helpless. God is a form of idealism that means that not only is our desire for security fulfilled, but also that there is an objective reason for existence; because the fact there really isn’t one unsettles us from our need to know why things happen (evolutionary survival trait).

    This “God effect” is a concept routed into the subconscious. The experience explained above would in fact dictate action towards securing back equilibrium, but this is not on Gods part. The subconscious often takes up action to subtly gain the individuals desire, in a minute way. This comes quickly or slowly, depending on the individuals mind. The Placebo effect sometimes takes a role in this, particularly with prayers. Action is taking in the physical realm, subconsciously, to solve the problem. The end result is usually attributed to God (if the subject is believer).

    The concept of God itself comes from an astute awareness gained from intellect that we have been created and are in existence. Reality in human perception dictates that we follow the laws of cause and effect, and with the habit of anthropomorphising, together make up a view that something akin to ourselves (which is essentially what many conceptions of Gods are – an all-powerful superhuman) must have created the universe. We are, after all, creative beings ourselves.

    Do you believe this explanation has some merit? And finally: have you personally been in a situation, in which you may have been thrown out of atheism/agnosticism (if you were either to begin with) because of its severity, or perhaps you at least began to hope that God might help? And if you believe in God, what train of thought in particular has led you to believe of its existence?

  2. #2
    Senior Member INTP's Avatar
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    imo there are two aspects of "god", the one that happens outside of us, which basically is things happening over time, and the one that is inside us, which is the totality of our psyche(but only the unconscious aspects seem as numinous). but naturally these two are one thing in reality, our ego just makes it seem as if we were outside of rest of the universe. for this reason man made god in his image, not the other way around :P thats just an projection.

    you might want to look at jungs view on god
    "Where wisdom reigns, there is no conflict between thinking and feeling."
    — C.G. Jung

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  3. #3
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    I believe people greatly identify with higher powers when traumatic experience is incurred, such as being sent to prison or having an important relationship fail indefinitely. The neurological pathways involved connecting the bicameral mind (thanks @Chawie) are forged or strengthened during these events to a near-irreversible state, the mind now appealing to this "secondary source" of belief and authority, while prior the mind previously tended to overlook what it objectively knew in favor of what it subjectively wanted.

    Or something. Anyways, yeah, my beliefs coincide with yours, I think you're on to something.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Infinite Bubble View Post
    Do you believe this explanation has some merit? And finally: have you personally been in a situation, in which you may have been thrown out of atheism/agnosticism (if you were either to begin with) because of its severity, or perhaps you at least began to hope that God might help? And if you believe in God, what train of thought in particular has led you to believe of its existence?
    Nope, never been athiestic or agnostic to experience that, I know that I've experienced doubts but not professed those beliefs and if I did I wouldnt change them because of a life threatening or limiting situation.

    I think this whole thing is a result of a misconception, there is an orderly cosmic order and lawful natural order, science has determined many of the natural laws, these all exist whether man conceives of them or ignores them or doesnt understand them or not, God is much the same and neither natural laws nor God are subjective or intersubjective interpretations, conventions, constructions or anything like that.

  5. #5
    Bunnies & Rainbow Socks Kayness's Avatar
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    I think it only works if you're raised to believe in God or gods in the first place, or were raised in a society where the predominant religion is a monotheistic religion. Also your theory doesn't seem to gel when taking into consideration the gods of polytheistic religions, who are often temperamental, amoral, hold petty grudges and can be vindictive. In other words, they are as fallible as human beings. My point is that maybe these gods would be able to help but if some hypothetical person was an atheist and then suddenly was thrown into dire straits and frantically prayed to these gods for help, I doubt that they will.
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  6. #6
    reflecting pool Typh0n's Avatar
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    I think "God" is indeed a manifestation of our psyche, which we project outside of ourselves, yet do not feel any need to reconnect with; people are happy depending on an external force in their spiritual lives, as well as one to blame our problems on (Satan,the devil etc). Paul Carus, in his work The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil explains that all of mankind originally believes in evil supernatural forces first - as what we see around us in nature is always frightening, threatening(like natural disasters etc). Hence, he says, the first religions of man are concerned with people being complacent towards the gods, spirits, etc. Its only later, he argues that we begin to invent good aspects of the supernatural. While that may be true of some cultures like the Mesopotamian/Sumerian one, its a very different story in say, Egypt, for example. In Sumeria, gods were always seen as destructive forces of the cosmos which one had to fear and appeal to in order to avoid natural distaster. In Egypt the gods were usually seen as part of a unified order/justice of the world (Ma'at) and man's place in the cosmos was well settled in that order and not in any real danger.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I think this whole thing is a result of a misconception, there is an orderly cosmic order and lawful natural order, science has determined many of the natural laws, these all exist whether man conceives of them or ignores them or doesnt understand them or not, God is much the same and neither natural laws nor God are subjective or intersubjective interpretations, conventions, constructions or anything like that.
    Are you a theist? If so, this is a rather interesting naturalistic take on the nature of God. Keep in mind, however, that OP is talking about the human psyche, which I believe functions outside of the laws of the objective universe. I cannot prove it does scientifically, lol, that would be contradicory and would only prove the human psyche is not outside the laws of nature. But think about how far imagination can go, for example when uninhibited by the thought of whether or not something is possible or not. This is ignorance of what is possible is what separtes smart apes from dumb apes, as only smart apes have accomplished any kind of progress in the name of civilization. I dont believe most people who have made advances in our civilization really knew what they were doing. They just saw a need, and filled it. They didnt know it was impossible when they did it. The subjective universe wants to rebel against the objective. But at the same time, in order to get what we want in the rational/ordered universe, we have to keep in mind that "nature to be commaned must be obeyed" as Ayn Rand put it. I dont know where Im going with this, but the OP made me think about how while concepts of god are created by our psyche, this is somehow indicative the psyche is itself a god, I think.

  7. #7
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    Imagine the turmoil if we were secretly made in God's image!

    thinking of you

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Typh0n View Post
    I think "God" is indeed a manifestation of our psyche, which we project outside of ourselves, yet do not feel any need to reconnect with; people are happy depending on an external force in their spiritual lives, as well as one to blame our problems on (Satan,the devil etc). Paul Carus, in his work The History of the Devil and the Idea of Evil explains that all of mankind originally believes in evil supernatural forces first - as what we see around us in nature is always frightening, threatening(like natural disasters etc). Hence, he says, the first religions of man are concerned with people being complacent towards the gods, spirits, etc. Its only later, he argues that we begin to invent good aspects of the supernatural. While that may be true of some cultures like the Mesopotamian/Sumerian one, its a very different story in say, Egypt, for example. In Sumeria, gods were always seen as destructive forces of the cosmos which one had to fear and appeal to in order to avoid natural distaster. In Egypt the gods were usually seen as part of a unified order/justice of the world (Ma'at) and man's place in the cosmos was well settled in that order and not in any real danger.



    Are you a theist? If so, this is a rather interesting naturalistic take on the nature of God. Keep in mind, however, that OP is talking about the human psyche, which I believe functions outside of the laws of the objective universe. I cannot prove it does scientifically, lol, that would be contradicory and would only prove the human psyche is not outside the laws of nature. But think about how far imagination can go, for example when uninhibited by the thought of whether or not something is possible or not. This is ignorance of what is possible is what separtes smart apes from dumb apes, as only smart apes have accomplished any kind of progress in the name of civilization. I dont believe most people who have made advances in our civilization really knew what they were doing. They just saw a need, and filled it. They didnt know it was impossible when they did it. The subjective universe wants to rebel against the objective. But at the same time, in order to get what we want in the rational/ordered universe, we have to keep in mind that "nature to be commaned must be obeyed" as Ayn Rand put it. I dont know where Im going with this, but the OP made me think about how while concepts of god are created by our psyche, this is somehow indicative the psyche is itself a god, I think.
    Yes I'm a theist, no I dont believe that naturalistic beliefs on the nature of God are contrary to theism. In fact its the only thing that makes sense to me. Cant believe you just quoted Ayn Rand.

  9. #9
    morose bourgeoisie
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    'Psyche' is Greek for 'soul'; as such it makes sense to interpret it to mean that psyche is a product of god and not the other way around. That would be the ancient formulation.

  10. #10
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    I believe that the concept of deity is part of our struggle to deal with the Unknown, both in the sense of recognizing that it directly impacts our lives, and also in the sense of touching that deep feeling of longing nestled inside of all of us. My religion teacher in Catholic school used to say "there is a God-shaped hole in our hearts". I agree with your OP in terms of those are strategies people use to deal with the Unknown by characterizing it as God.

    But whether God exists in a capacity beyond our knowledge, or whether there is no such deity, is beyond the scope of human understanding, in my opinion. I do not tend to believe in deities, myself. Perhaps there are greater-power beings on higher scales of existence, but I don't find anything particularly "divine" about them. My concept of divinity is reserved for the grand dance of existence as a whole, love and joy and spark and paradox.

    I identify as agnostic, and I will send out wishes to the cosmos for serendipity in times of trouble. Sometimes I will condense my characterization of that into an anthropomorphic figure, such as a god or goddess. I see it less in terms of expecting divine intervention on my behalf and more in terms of trying to pull positive energy in my direction, maybe even with some hope of a Gaia-hypothesis system, with the All possessing some degree of self-awareness and compassion for a tiny being in despair.

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