A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

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gods*

"The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this." --Albert Einstein*

A god is a being created by humans and given supernatural powers or attributes such as immortality, omniscience, telekinesis, and invisibility. These creations serve many purposes, such as imaginary protection from enemies or explanations for the origin of such things as good and evil, fire and wind, or life and death.

Gods are often the central figures around which religions are built. It is often claimed that religion began in fear and superstition. The same might be said for gods.

Some religions maintain that there is just one god and that all the gods of all religions except theirs were created by human beings. Yet, everyone who believes in a god of some sort believes their god is real.

Since gods are supernatural, they exist outside the bounds and laws of space and time. They can possess any of an infinite array of magical powers. Hence, there is no way to prove or disprove their reality. One might say: If gods exist, anything goes!

See also anti-theism, atheism, magical thinking, Satan, theist, and my review of The God Delusion.

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note: I explain why I lowercase reference to all gods, even those whose proper name is Jehovah or El elsewhere.

reader comments

further reading

books and articles

Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion (1927).

Harris, Sam. (2005). The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. W. W. Norton.

Freud, Sigmund. The Future of an Illusion (1927).

Hecht, Jennifer Michael. 2004.  Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. HarperOne.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan (1651), ch. XII, "Of Religion."

Jacoby, Susan. (2005). Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. Owl Books.

Lalli, Nica. 2007. Nothing - something to believe in. Prometheus.

Martin, Michael and Ricki Monnier. Editors. (2006). The Improbability of God. Prometheus.

Newberg, Andrew M.D., Eugene G. D'Aquili and Vince Rause. Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief (Ballantine Books, 2001).

Persinger, Michael. Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs (Praeger Pub Text., 1987).

Smith, Homer. Man and His Gods, foreword by Albert Einstein (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1952).

Spinoza, Baruch de. Theologico-Political Treatise (1670).

Stenger, Victor. (2007). God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Prometheus.

websites

God's Total Quality Management Questionnaire

news stories

A Harris poll in June 2005 found that 64% of American adults believe human beings were created directly by a god. 54% do not think human beings developed from earlier species

God on the Brain By Liz Tucker BBC Horizon 3/20/03

Last updated 24-Jan-2014

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