Thursday 29 March 2012

The Origin of Divinity?

I heard a theory a while back that's really stuck in my brain...I take it out and play with it when I'm bored.  The theory is that the reason so many people and cultures around the world believe in God or a god-like figure is due to our early childhood experiences.

As babies, we are all exposed to gigantic, all-powerful, godlike, incomprehensible beings. These beings are also known as adults!  Most commonly your parents!  I don't think it's a stretch to consider that your thoughts on God may later be shaped, subconsciously, by "memories" or impressions of your parents from when you were an infant.  Perhaps people who's parents treated them great and took care of them always instinctual feel nothing but love for God, while people who's parents were neglectful jerks are angry at God?  People who's parents loved them but who also experienced some sort of trauma in infancy (proving that their "god" is not infallible) could be the ones who, like me, struggle with the concept of God.  Like Mulder says, "I want to believe."

This is, of course, all complete speculation...but I DO find it fascinating...

For an example of how early childhood memories can strongly influence one's feelings well into adulthood, I need look no further than my own life!  Let me tell you a story about's a true story, although I personally have NO memory of it.  My mom told me about it!

So when I was a baby...I don't know how old but I guess under 2, we went on a picnic or something.  Anyway, there was a watermelon.  Somehow, my little toddler self managed to sneak away and swipe said watermelon and proceed to eat the ENTIRE THING!  I then became violently ill for some lengthy period of time.

As I said, I have NO memory at ALL of this incident.  All I know is that for as long as I can remember, long before I heard this story, the sight or smell of ANY MELON is very unpleasant to me and that watermelon, TO THIS DAY,  makes me feel incredibly disgusted and nauseous!  I heard the above story at some point and thought "oh, that makes sense!"   The story validated what I already felt about watermelon and thus both story and feeling are true!  Case closed.

Soooo....what if for as long as I can remember I have always felt deep inside that there is a gigantic, all-powerful being who is poorly defined and yet who watches over me and takes care of me...who loves me and wants what's best for me!  Then, what if later on someone told me about God and I just thought "oh, that makes sense!The story of God validates the feeling I already had from early childhood and thus the feeling and the story must be true...just like the watermelon!

Of course...unlike with the watermelon, the credit for my feelings about God are misplaced....they should be feelings about my parents!  My baby mind just got them mixed up....well, I was only an infant after all...

Do we all make this mistake?  Could this simple mistake be the origin of the concept of a divine being?  We know for fact that events we can't remember from infancy can strongly effect our opinions on matters for the rest of our lives!

Well, I'm not saying God doesn't exist or trying to reject or belittle anyone's religion or beliefs about spirituality.  Please don't lynch me or warn me about hell or any of that crap.  I just think this is an interesting idea!  If the essence of faith is doubt...well, food for thought....


  1. Your god theory is interesting. I certainly deified adults as a young child and yet I haven't seemingly transferred that to a faith in god, but it's possible that I have transferred that it something else. I do fear death, which I think stems from a fear that maybe, just maybe all those Christians are right and I'm going to burn for eternity when I die. And I know that makes no logical sense, but I gotta think that, even though I was raised by atheist parents, being exposed to Christian ideas over my lifetime has had an effect. Repeat something enough and it becomes true.

    As for food aversions, I have a serious aversion to berries and I have to think I had a similar negative experience when I was young, but I don't remember it. According to this article it is a primitive conditioned response and is a result of your brain protecting you from being poisoned. Maybe faith in god is our brain's way of ensuring that we persist, even in times of hardship. Maybe it is this belief has actually helped us evolve from our ape-like ancestors.

    Wow, I think I just managed to insult both creationists and atheist/Darwinists in one sentence. Neat! 8-D

  2. Well for the record this is just an intellectual exercise and not really indicative of my actual "beliefs" such as they are. If anything this may explain why we personify God to be so very "human". Or I could have it backwards and deifying adults is a result of an instinctual knowledge of God instead! Perhaps we just lose that knowledge as we grow...over-thinking really is the problem...who knows...

    Personally I don't think you have to worry about Hell. I have a VERY hard time believing in hell, even in the context of religion it only makes sense as a control mechanism. Although having been raised as a born-again Christian I suppose me NOT believing in it is probably a sin and will send me there...sigh :p

    You know Christianity is just Judaism with Jesus in it's purest form, and Jews don't believe in Hell's largely been shown to be mistranslated in any biblical texts, usually referring to an actual place that was the equivalent of the dump or something...or so I understand...if you're really curious you can google it...

    anyway I *DO* think that there is some form of life after death and that there is a God. Other than that I KNOW nothing...I have a few decent ideas maybe, but who knows? We'll find out one day, or if not, we'll never know about it anyway, so what does it matter?

    oh that article was very interesting. Watermelon was just one of MANY examples of foods that I hate...although only melon and raw tomato induce nausea. I was also prone to throwing up A LOT as a kid...mostly due to motion sickness. Perhaps this is related!

    What else....hmmm...Anyone who's actually capable of being INSULTED by any of our conversations probably shouldn't be reading this blog anyway :D So no worries. And I agree that belief in God is a stepping stone in development of higher consciousness aka there we're BOTH insulting :D

    If I have settle on BELIEVING, on BEING SURE...I believe that it's best to keep an open and inquisitive mind. Is there any religion that supports that?

    What if all of life is a test, with God authoring various conflicting religions to see what we do? And then what if only the ones who dare to question everything and think for themselves are "saved"...the ones who blindly follow their religions are damned!! Wouldn't that be ironic?