The Myth of the Anthropomorphic God

The Baron of Montesquieu wrote, "If triangles had a god, he would have three sides."

This aphorism implicitly reverses classical theology: We are the creators, and we made God in our image. It also approaches the psychology of religion tangentially; man made God in his image. Man-made gods and religions are, after all, exactly what we would expect from superstitious homo sapiens.

(While I accept Montesquieu's statement as true, its converse is also true: If there were a three-sided god, he would create triangles. God is not anthropomorphic; humans are theomorphic.)

When it comes to orthodox Christianity, the accusation of anthropomorphism is easy to refute. After all, God is Love, God is Light, God is Spirit (cf. 1 John 4:8, 1 John 1:5, John 4:24). (Although these scriptures do not address the issue directly, but they are exemplary of broader Christian thought on the subject.) Despite artistic depictions to the contrary, and despite the human nature Jesus undertook on Earth, the Godhead itself was generally thought of as existing beyond nature, and thus beyond human characteristics. (Interestingly, this article suggests that ancient rabbis did conceive of God as anthropomorphic. Some Latter-Day Saint scriptures also hint at God's corporeality.)

But I don't think the anthropomorphic criticism is truly criticizing the idea of a corporeal God. I think the true, underlying problem people have is with the idea of a personal God. Their reservations are largely removed when they consider abstract entities, higher orders, and life forces.

I haven't really thought out the philosophical implications of a personal (as opposed to an impersonal) creator, but I do know that this aspect of God - personality - is the one which leads to such emotional reactions and thinking on both sides.

Of course, I still can't think of a better explanation for consciousness than a personal God...