Creating God in Our Image

When people’s confidence in their beliefs is shaken, they become stronger advocates for those beliefs. The book When Prophecy Fails, an American cult leader, Dorothy Martin, convinced her followers that flying saucers would rescue them from an apocalyptic flood. Many believed her, giving up their livelihoods, possessions and loved ones in anticipation of their alien saviors. When the prophecy failed and nothing came to pass, the group decided that their dedication had spared the Earth from the apocalypse. Far from shattering their faith, the absent UFOs had turned them into zealous evangelists.

Without altering their belief system, people will go to great lengths to reduce the internal conflict caused by their cognitive dissonance. They will hunker down and attempt to still this conflict by trying to convince others that their views are correct. This is re-writing the brains neural processes.

Dopamine levels:

  • Low levels of Dopamine make concentration and focus very difficult. Low levels also are associated with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  • Mild elevations in Dopamine are associated with addictions like nicotine or cocaine, producing feelings of excited euphoria.
  • Moderately high Dopamine levels make the individual on-guard, suspicious, and prone to misinterpret experiences in our environment. Known as “idea of reference” in psychiatry, they begin thinking unrelated experiences are suddenly directly related to themselves. Paranoia ensues. The mind races in an attempt to incorporate all these experiences into their lives. With the increase of Dopamine, the individual may become extremely religious, paranoid, or feel to be a very important person. Increased Dopamine also increases the perception of senses, as though turning up the volume in all the senses – hearing, vision, taste, smell, and touch.
  • As Dopamine levels increase, the noises suddenly become auditory hallucinations. Inner thoughts are now being heard outside the body. These voices begin talking. Some take the form such as derogatory (put downs), religious topics, command (telling you to do something), or sexual content. Hallucinations (experiencing something that is not truly there in reality) will soon develop in all the senses.
  • High levels of Dopamine in the brain often cause the loss of contact with reality. The individual begins to have bizarre ideas. Paranoia, experiences delusions (false beliefs)  or may think they have super powers (exaggerated self-importance) and can experience prophetic  visions of the future. High levels of Dopamine are found in Schizophrenia, drug intoxication, and other psychotic conditions where the ability to distinguish the inner world from the real world is impaired.

“People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want. The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”

-Nicholas Epley.
University of Chicago.

Learn more. “Athene’s Theory of Everything “

7 Replies to “Creating God in Our Image”

  1. Without a doubt, proper balance of dopamine is essential to a balanced life!

    I’ve come to the understanding that people extract elements from the different items and experiences to which they are exposed, with a conscious or unconscious attempt to find things which speak to their souls.
    In many cases, it’s an uncontrollable process, based soley on one’s own individuality. And, what speaks to the soul of a pre-teenager may not necessarily speak to the soul of a middle-ager. That is to say, cumulative experience is a modifier.

    I suspect that if a grand experiment were conducted, with all involved being exposed to the same identical information about God, to a degree, each individual would find meaning in different aspects of the presented material. There would be relativity in importance assigned to the various facts, and molding of them to suit diverse situations. This is not unlike what happens when one reads a book, or watches a moving picture. You make it your own.

    The setting of one’s exposure is also a key. Is there another person present whom the subject considers to be wiser or to possess greater understanding? Is such a leader or mentor type repetitious or overbearing, or does he/she encourage personalized thought? This factor can become very important in terms of lifelong internal conflicts!

    Ultimately, there is very little semantic difference between creating in one’s own image and the exercise of personalized thought and assignment of relative importance. To an extent, it’s all a healthy part of free will, and the extent to which it is used to produce good, or to elevate humanity becomes the indicator of right or wrongness. I really don’t believe that any human can ever be totally free from a certain amount of anthropomorphism. I know from my time as a non-believer that an atheist can create things in his or her own mind that rise in importance to the stature of a “god.” It was my experience that these things are just as personalized to the individual as God often is through human anthropomorphic tendencies. Seems like whatever we believe or don’t believe, this is one factor which we are stuck with.

    BB

  2. Bob wrote: “I know from my time as a non-believer that an atheist can create things in his or her own mind that rise in importance to the stature of a “god.””

    Seen this a lot in my studies. Where the atheist becomes high priest of the movement, turning it into a religion itself. I call myself agnostic, I still leave open the “chance” that there might be something greater than man. Who can know? I cannot let myself be led by a book, but by logic in which I trust.

    For myself, it is not important that I have the answers. I can only look and marvel at the world and the heavens above, with all those vast mysteries that lay yet to be discovered.

    To most of the world, God is ———-.
    Fill in the blanks.

    I would say that God is…
    not what we think,
    nor what any book or preacher might say,
    but a possibility that one cannot ever know.

    The best explanation from the bible (book of Romans) that one could have God explained, comes from our very own Ralph Haulk.

  3. Awww…. The thing that had me most excited was the idea taught by Paul that we do not choose or create God(if God exists), buit God chooses and creates us. When you think about it, that’s the most perfect explanation. I obviopusly can;t define God, nor can anyone else. Whatever I choose by my “free will” will simply be what I believe, which will be a further reflection of those components that are “me”.

    However, if the whole decision process or algorithm belongs to God, then I can save myself a lot of effort trying to “earn” what I can’t even begin to understand. Essentially, that’s Ephesians 2:8-10.

    That simple conclusio is the one thing that religious people have the most trouble accepting, that the choice simply does not belong to us, but to God, which means we’re free from all human attempts to organize and control us. And if there is NO God, then we’re still equally free!

    In short “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.

    What’s the truth? I’m free! None of the zillion versions of God are any more valid than mine, so I’m free of all human systems, governments, religions, or organizations. No point in joining, believing, or following any of them.

  4. Yes, I agree. God does choose and create us. And, part of that process is that we tend to grab for ourselves what is salient, and to attempt to make it part of us, or to eternalize it so to speak.

    The problem comes in when we allow other humans to dictate the conclusions to which we must come. Since we’re all on individualized plan, self appointed teachers and collectors can actually set us back!

    BB

  5. “Since we’re all on individualized plan, self appointed teachers and collectors can actually set us back!”

    Yes, and that is why I say “Armstrong was a man utterly without honor, without principles, without a shred of genuine decency or patriotism. He was the ultimate exterminator of religious life for thousands, and the grand compelling creator of a vast army of atheists.”

    The Christians (real ones outside the cults) can say with definable measure that Armstrong and his ilk ruined the Christian experience for tens of thousands, relegating them to the abyss of unbelief.

  6. Quoting from the combination of James and BB:

    Byker Bob says:

    “Since we’re all on individualized plan, self appointed teachers and collectors can actually set us back!”

    Exactly, and that’s why Matthew 24:23.
    James says:

    “Yes, and that is why I say “Armstrong was a man utterly without honor, without principles, without a shred of genuine decency or patriotism. He was the ultimate exterminator of religious life for thousands, and the grand compelling creator of a vast army of atheists.”

    The Christians (real ones outside the cults) can say with definable measure that Armstrong and his ilk ruined the Christian experience for tens of thousands, relegating them to the abyss of unbelief.”

    I think it is important to understand WHY this is so. We are “misinformed and disinformed” apparently for a purpose, as for example Matthew 13:11, Romans 11:7, 11:32, 2Thessalonians 2:11, etc.

    As the psychologist like to say, “people go for what they know”. People like to remain “birds of a feather”, and they will tend to choose those social systems that make them feel secure, empowered, comfortable, and also feel as if their lives are eternally ensured as well.

    This, however, is an environment for accelerated entropy. As the old study from the Club of Rome showed(and even quoted by Armstrong, I believe), the main reason for extinction of both civilizations and species was “overspecialization”, a conditin in which the species or civilization became so adapted to existing conditions that it could not adapt to necessary change. In each example, a “bottleneck” emerged in which the species or civilization simply lost any adaptive response, and died. I have often referred to Jesus’ statement of Matthew 10:34-38 in this regard. Why did he come to bring a “sword”? Precisely to make a very few(Matthew 7:14) realize that the whole purpose is in the FINDING of truth, not simply the choosing of options provided by the “authorities”.

    A man named Howard Bloom explored this same idea from a genetic perspective in a book called “Global Brain”. Notice the similarity between Bloom’s statement and Jesus’ alleged statement of Matthew 10:34-38:

    “Among the Yanomamo, the biggest clashes are between family members–and between the groups they head. How could evolution favor feuds which current theory says should never be? Creative bickering has been honed by natural selection because, in pitting fasther against son, and brother against brother, itr opens up new avenues to genes, clans, cliques, and species. It slices through genetic bonds to create diversity”. IOW, 1Corinthians 1:27-28.

    Religions and governments bind, unite, and organize. Truth is “sharper than any two-edged sword…”.

    It weas startling to me to discover that Kurt Godel had discovered the mathematical equivalent to this. In any consistent axiomatic formulation suitable for number theory, therexists an infinity of undecideable propositions. We cannot get “there” from “here” by our own mental efforts! There simply ex ists no decisin procedure, no algorithmic process by which we can organize truth constantly over time in to one singular process. It simply can not be done, and that is a mathematical fact, giving force to Ephesians 2:8-10!

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