- Nov 2012
It's about seeing gods in our own image, defining gods with our own attributes, and then asserting that the laws of man are divine law, i.e. organized religion.
Yes, a few individuals did, but that was an outgrowth of the religio-political system in place (Rome, Japan, and we can also argue about the Mandate of Heaven in China for that matter, among others), but in general, men might have considered themselves part of some divine plan but rarely made the mistake of declaring themselves divine. Ok, there is the matter of Niyazov more recently. But he was not too sane by all accounts, or maybe he was just too enamored of himself to do a reality check now and again.
How else can those who actually believe in gods view them, if not as images of themselves. If we could conceive of something outside our realm of experience in regard to gods, the religions we have to deal with might not be what they are.
Culture and religion are so closely intertwined that they reflect and reinforce each other’s norms and values. This in turn is then reflected in nationalist ideologies of countries with clear majorities and causes problems when the majority – minority paradigm shifts and “new” religions are introduced. Just look at the anxiety Islam is causing in the western hemisphere.
To me this is the problem, the identification construct that equates nation—religion—ethnocentrism—xenophobia—and the general close-mindedness that plagues too many. So seeing god in your own image is a problem, because it leaves no room for the OTHER—the gods and the people who represent a different image.