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Inferiority Complex of People

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have been reading and thinking a lot about spirituality and dieties lately. When I read the histories, I am told that gods and goddesses were the pure invention of men and women. They were created to give peace of mind, to explain the inexplicable, to give physical being to spiritual questions.

I wonder when we went from using the gods and goddesses to allowing them to use us. From my readings, there have always been god and goddesses that personified the negatives of this life, but many also had attributes of the positive. And, they certainly weren't isolated. There were many gods and goddesses, representing every human emotion and act.

Why have so many of us decided that only one god is necessary? And, why is s/he allowed to carry all the attributes of life (creator, love, hope, security, murderer, etc.), while we should only strive to be "good"? Should not this god be required to follow his own tenets?

Why have we (in general) become this cowering mass, longing for the love of some invisible force we created? What does it say abt a ppl who let their invention rule their lives?

(I suppose many believe that a being/a creator existed before us. If that's true, than why must we do so much to appease this being and get on his good side? Why do we allow such vanity in our creator, and shun it in our brothers and sisters? If it's bad, it's bad...shouldn't matter who's committing the badness.)
post #2 of 10


I read this argument in college, or an earlier version of it. Look, I found a web page on the early 19th century German thinker who originated it, Ludwig Feuerbach. I found a web archive with a translation of his seminal book on this! The web is so cool. Here is the URL:


Check out the second part of the introduction. (You can ignore the sexism implicit in the use of "man" for "human beings" I hope, it is a book from 1841!) (It's also interesting that most of this book was translated from German to English by George Eliot, of Mill on the Floss fame--religiously, she was a free-thinking non-conformist, among other things...)

Feuerbach argued, well before his time, that the qualities we project on God are the qualities we want to have. Your other question, why do we worship God if God does NOT have those qualities--

well, this is the problem with Feuerbach's argument--religion isn't as simple as that. It might be fun sometime to do a reading group and read first Feuerbach and then the book of Job! Job is a really complex reading of the problem of evil coexisting with a good (or even omnipotent) God. Reading Job for me was a way to see our ancestors were not such big dummies after all...
post #3 of 10
Should not this god be required to follow his own tenets?
That would make sense to me.

IMO if the behavior is bad, then it's bad no matter who or Who is doing it.

I guess that's why I don't follow that kind of deity.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
captain optimism: Thank you for that link. It is an interesting read, though long. I will continue to read this, and look for books b/c they're better for my eyes.

Feuerbach has not "enlightened" me yet (I've read 2 chapters so far), and I have no real arguments with his opinion. My dh thinks I waste a lot of time reading things I already know. Oh, well! I must admit, I have never thought our ancestors dumb. Actually, I think that our ancestors had way more sense than us (as a lot).

post #5 of 10
No, I wouldn't think it would enlightening, exactly, to read Feuerbach, since you were coming to the same conclusions through your own thinking. You don't need to read Feuerbach to think this way, but it's certainly not a waste of time. It's just really interesting, at least to me that he was writing this stuff in the 1840s! I don't know this for certain, but I believe he was the first person to publish this idea that human beings project their ideal qualities on God. It shouldn't be too difficult to find this book, or at least excerpts of it, in a library.

Feuerbach was an important influence on Marx, in that Marx has this idea (which I'm going to describe badly, I'm afraid) that people have a desire to profit from conditions and THEN invent ideologies to justify those conditions. Feuerbach is basically saying, people have a desire for certain attributes, so they project them on God (whether God exists or has those attributes is irrelevant.) I just found it exceedingly cool to learn about this kind of thinking happening in the 1840s.

But I would also be interested in discussing the attributes people project on God (or on the gods, or on the universe....) I'm fascinated by the question of the origin of evil in a system that recognizes God as either all good or omnipotent--or both!
post #6 of 10
As my Rebbe, R' Shlomo Carlebach, z'l, used to say ... the G-d you don't believe in, I also don't believe in.

Perhaps because humanity is made in G-d's image, and enough of humanity is screwed-up ... well, therein lies the projection of screwed-up back to the Creator.

Or for the nonbelieving, perhaps because G-d is made in man's image ... etc.

I know, that added nothing to the discussion, but I'm so enjoying reading about your ongoing battles with neuroses Chaka ... it is making me think and reminding me of my efforts and searching ... thanks for the necessary jolt ...

- Amy
post #7 of 10
As a polytheist, I have a bit of a different take on this. There are many gods, and each concerns him or herself more with different aspects of human affairs, and pantheons concern themselves more with different cultures. As a Heathen, I honor the Scandinavian/Germanic gods and goddesses, who I believe still concern themselves with people culturally tied to those who first revered them. By cultural ties I mean physical ancestry, linguistic ancestry (English being a Germanic language), and other such cultural ties (Many of which survived the long millenium of total Christian domination of said culture).
Some heathens and pagans see the gods as personifications, or archetypes. I tend to see them as real beings, whether they were given life by human thought or were the progenitors of it is irrelevant to my relationship with them. As a polytheist, I do not expect perfection or unification of all things in any one of the deities, rather I know them as farther up on the ladder of being (if there is such a thing) than homo sapiens. They are our tutors and guides, and one day we will be their peers. But while they may tutor or guide, they may also ask a gift for a gift, and expect from us as much as we expect from them, whether service in a task or blessings given them from our own wealth.

The gods I know also do not seek nor want universal reverence or worship. We don't proseletyze for them. If they call you, you'll know it.

So, in my religion the concepts of omnipotence and omnibelevolence are out the door, as is the concept that humans must seek to be "good." We should be honorable, both with respect to the values in human society and with respect to our dealings with the gods. But Odin might call upon me to be a ruthless b***h from time to time. He has an important agenda, and can't always be nice about carrying it out, either.
post #8 of 10
Wow Ravin, that was beautiful!

he he, thanks for saving me a post too :-)
post #9 of 10
Chaka, Did you ever read this? It may offer up some interesting perspective in a philosophical sense. I don't agree with him on all levels, but it is a classic look into the evolution of spirituality. He maintains that man will and does evolve from magic (heathen/pagan man), to religion and then into scientific thought.

Of course those of us in the Circle believe that it starts back over again..

The Golden Bough by Sir Frazer
"His 1890 study of the cults, rites, and myths of antiquity, The Golden Bough, offers a monumental exploration of these customs and their parallels with early Christianity. A pioneer of social anthropology, Frazer's definitions of such terms as "magic," "religion," and "science" proved highly useful to his successors in the field, and his explications of the ancient legends profoundly influenced generations of prominent psychologists, writers, and poets.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
KeysMama: No, I haven't, but I'll look for it. I've never been a huge fan of non-fiction, but I'm enjoying the religious writings. Thanks!

I suppose this is off-topic, but it's something I liked and want to share:

I was reading about Native American spirituality. There was a man talking about the difference between their ideology and that of the white man (this man was passing down thoughts of his ancestors who lived during the arrivals and settlings). He said that Life is a Circle. But, the white people looked at life as a straight line, and that's where they're problems came in. He went on to describe all the different ways circles were utililized in Native living, and then said, "You could always tell when a white man had been somewhere, b/c everything was left in a line." He said that Life is not a Line, but when you think it is, and that is has a beginning and an end, instead of cycling round and round, that you will be confused and perhaps not live life properly.

I thought that was very profound. It caused me to view things like time-lines and indeed, my own self and life, a little differently. Life is a Circle, not a Line. That "not a Line" makes a difference to me. It has clarified my thinking a bit.

Peace&Blessings, Mamas. This journey is fun!
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