A God in the image of man is too human to be credible

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Parent debateThis argument is used in the debate Does God exist?.
Keywords: Teleological argument, God, Anthropomorphism[ edit ].



“Why should we be surprised that mankind's gods are anthropomorphic? This was true of the Greek and Latin gods. It's no less true, albeit from a different point of view, of the Gods of the various monotheisms. He is conceived by analogy with what we are or know: God is to nature what the artist or craftsman is to his work (what the architect is to the house, what the watchmaker is to the clock, etc.); he is to humanity what a father is to his children, what a sovereign is to his people; he is to the Church what the husband is to the wife... From then on, whatever we may affirm positively about God, it will be marked by anthropomorphism. The religions of the Book are no exception. It's not enough to ban images of God (in Judaism or Islam) to free oneself from the imaginary! Anthropomorphism is more essential: it affects the very concept of divinity. This is the price we pay for analogy. To say that God is spiritual, personal and creative is already anthropomorphism. To say that God is Father is still anthropomorphism. But it's the Gospels that say it, and it's the Church: reread the Our Father and the Creed... To say that God is just, that he is powerful and wise, as the Bible and the Koran do, is still anthropomorphism. To say that he is loving, compassionate or merciful, likewise... But what then can we say about God, beyond all anthropomorphism, if not, very precisely, nothing? This brings us back to the first hypothesis of Plato's Parmenides. If the One exists, we can say nothing about it: "There is not even a name for it; we can neither define it, nor know it, nor feel it, nor judge it." But then, we have no reason to see a God in it, and no way of thinking about it. Any anthropomorphism concerning the absolute is naive or derisory. Silence, in the face of the unspeakable, would be better.”

André Comte-Sponville, The spirit of atheism, Albin Michel, 2006.


Arguments forJustifications

Arguments againstObjections

  • Argument againstGod may very well be anthropomorphic, even if this is hardly credible.
  • Argument againstComparing God to man is a legitimate analogy in a certain sense.
  • Argument againstGod is in man's image because man is in God's image

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