People use “God” in many ways. See my post on “God Definitions“. But a very common core god for most people is this:
God = What I value; What I find Inspiring; What gives me awe.
All of these sentences contain two elements: “I” and positive emotions which are difficult to express. So simpler translation of this core god is:
God = what makes me feel good.
Here are a few more points about the “Feel-God” god:
- Some people are willing to let this feel-good god remain private. Some people want to share their feel-good god (some more aggressively than others).
- Some people surround the feel-good god with theology, some don’t.
- Granted, some people are so self-destructive that their “Feel-Good god” seems horrible to us. But the sad thing is, it serves them in some way. This service gives their brain the similar rewards that other feel-good gods do.
- Even atheists are sometimes willing to redefine God to keep all the positive cultural notions, to bond to others and to still have a lofty notion for what makes them feel good.
- Many non-theist Buddhists, find other ways to capture this god within their theology/philosophy.
As an example of the deifying what we value I thought I’d share this video which I found on Ian’s site where he says “Amen Brother“. This is a very touching video of a young man who has gone through much suffering with an illness and yet survived and has hope. He tells us “I have faith in people, I believe in God, and the Internet is my religion.” He also tells us that “Humanity connected is God!”
For this young man, the good things that happened and allowed him to live were a result of the internet which caused connectedness between people who helped him. Connectedness may not be everyone’s feel-good god. But the educated listeners in that room (and reading this blog) get what he is saying and probably love the internet too. His story is touching to them. They thus allow the sanctification of that feeling with the word “god” in that room at that time — it helps them get a hold on their emotions and feel connected and more secure.
Yet all he is saying is : “I am thankful for what I have and I want this for others”. They he sanctifies his feeling with the word “god”.
But imagine any fundamentalist religious person stirring the emotions of people with huge commonalities. Then sanctify their message with “God”. Does it seem OK to you now? This magic works on our brain — that is why it persists in atheists and theists alike.