God is a construct.

You read that correctly. Our collective human, systemic, identification of “God” is nothing more than an idea. This God-idea is constructed by ideology, and as it happens, the planet is filled with myriad conflicting God-ideas.

To qualify, I am not denying the existence of a God-being outside of and/or infused throughout the human experience of time and space. On the contrary, I contend that the being we call “God” is imaginary, as it is a concept to which we ascribe a collection of attributes, assigning the signifier (fancy for word) “God.”

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Ultimately, any God-concept is rooted in language. An arbitrary code, language is the vehicle through which ideas find expression. The ideas expressed through language exist outside of language; thus, language is symbolic, and where there are symbols, there is room for interpretation. This is why currently, in the year 2019, there exist 33,000 distinct Christian denominations. Each of these ascribes, to the God-figure, a set of defining characteristics, the consequences of which are conflicting doctrines delineating how to “live” as a Christian, which includes how to worship, what to believe, how to profess belief, required rites, as well as the assignment of souls to one destination (or another) in the afterlife. Likewise, every–single–one of these 33,000 groups thinks it’s interpretation of The Bible is the anointed—the chosen—the correct—interpretation, and those who exist outside of it’s prescribed conditions of Christianity are out of the fold—damnedcondemned to eternal suffering. This rationale accounts for religions that operate under the signifier “Christian.” While believers profess there is “one true God” and The Bible is “ultimate truth,” in practice, there are thousands of versions or impressions or conceptualizations of this supposed “true” God and the supposed accuracy of scriptural interpretation.

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What are the implications of this reality? The process of defining God and “God’s will” occurs within the Unconscious. As individuals, we enter into a faith system (ideology) and assume it to be ultimate truth—without question. We internalize experiences unique to our existence and frame those experiences within this “faith” allowing no room for opposition.

Cool. That’s all wonderful—if we could co-exist on the planet peacefully and lovingly, as we all adhere to the tenants of our respective faith practices.

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But we don’t.

We band together in cliques, casting out the dissidents. We spew hatred and condemnation on those who oppose us. The absence of love and empathy is the sole reason, in my opinion, for us (humans)—each in our own right—to question the systems to which we so rigidly adhere.

The problems of unbending adherence to any ideology are:

  1. Total disregard of empirical evidence that contradicts tenants of said ideology
  2. Manifestation of aggressive and destructive behaviors
  3. Perpetuation of abusive power dynamics within relationships between individuals and people groups AND
  4. Preclusion of autonomous individual development

The philosopher Kierkegaard, in a revolutionary manner, expressed his own inward inclinations or convictions, proclaiming that faith in the God-being meant seeking truth from within. He acknowledged the threat this thinking posed to members of the faith community, as well as to relationships amid believers. Nevertheless, he is known as the Father of Existentialism and many consider him to be an exemplar of Christian faith.

On my personal journey, I have been deeply conflicted when the tenants of my “faith” compelled me to do things that just felt wrong to me. My worst memory of this occurred when my little boy was three or four years old. He was somehow asking questions about dying, and I felt so torn about how to proceed in the moment. My God-idea (known in psychoanalysis as the Big Other) compelled me to tell him the story of the devil who fell from grace and rules the Underworld, so I could explain the two alternatives for post-earthly existence. It felt so wrong to me as I told the story because within myself, I felt like it wasn’t true. I persisted, however (I am literally cringing as I type this) because my impression of God was based in this form of Christianity–this ideology–that says you have to profess belief in order to attain eternal glory. The worst part is that my little boy became so frightened afterwards. I literally traumatized my son with a myth about this fiend of a devil who burned people for all eternity for not professing belief. At the time, I felt confused. My thoughts strung themselves along these lines: I am supposed to teach my kids about Jesus so they believe and get to heaven. This doesn’t feel right. I am not sure this is actually how it all works. I am a bad Christian if I don’t do this.

I did not include this anecdote to spur a debate about the existence of heaven or hell. My point is that I embraced an ideology. I ignored concrete evidence in my life that pointed to flaws in the construction of the ideology. I performed a destructive behavior. I told my kid a story that still haunts him, and to this day, I labor to assuage his concerns with regularity, knowing I acted in error, initially, by narrating the mythic account to his vulnerable little soul.

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Ultimately, my goal is to live a life of love. To love others. To include others. To practice patience, peace, empathy, and vulnerable transparency. Ideology makes no space for these things. The God-construct imposed by doctrinal police makes no space for these things. If there is a God-being, I believe–I have faith–that It exists outside of time, outside of space, and outside of language. With that said, I find language confines the scope of this being’s potential, and ideology is but a prison, within which we enclose the Real.

About Author

Standing ground for desire through self-study of philosophy and psychoanalysis, self-reflection, and creative sublimation through the work of literary fiction.

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6 Comments

  1. Preach it sister! I’m sorry for the irony and language but f*cking goddammit you’re totally right. (Sorry if this was offensive)

      1. Thank you. Last time I happened to have read your post right after consuming a pint of 8.4% abv double IPA. I deeply care about this topic due to my own past, so needless to say the beer didn’t help. Or maybe it did. Anyway I reread it just now and appreciate what you wrote even more. Though I grew up in a deeply religious Christian family, I only came to be truly “saved by Jesus” in late high school. My beliefs deepened during college, so much so that I wanted nothing more than to devote my life to spreading God’s love. After college though I worked overseas for a while, spending some time in Asia. Gradually my perspectives broadened until I could no longer reconcile my deeply held beliefs with my experiences and thoughts formed from exposure to wonderful people with completely different cultural and religious upbringings. In particular I grew to no longer be able to accept the exclusivity of Christ as the means to acceptance by “God”. It took me many years to deconstruct and recover, mostly on my own through research and readings at the library (this was before the social media age). It was perhaps the most painful period of my life. Seems like so long ago and I thought I was done with it, but it’s interesting that I still get worked up or stressed about this. Anyway I realize you probably have many readers with different backgrounds, so I’ll be careful what I post (no matter how many IPA’s I may consume :)).

      2. Thank you for sharing your experience! And please, no worries! Be yourself with and without IPAs ☺️ I have become freer with Language, myself, these days—and that’s without the consumption of adult beverages. I want the Cornflower space to be a safe one, so it’s all good!

  2. I respect your argument about wanting to live a life of love rather than adhere to what you perceive as a false God-construct. Not to be controversial, but couldn’t you argue that “love” is just as much an ideological construct as “God.” Many people define love in very different ways and historically many individuals have done as much harm to others in the name of “love” as they have in the name of “faith.” Love is also a signifier and product of language. Some languages even have multiple definitions of love and find it impossible to reach one empirically all encompassing definition of its true meaning. Ironically, if you consider Derrida and deconstructionism, it is impossible to separate love from God as the connotative associations with this word–what Derrida calls the “trace”– ultimately link it to God, who Biblically defines himself as love. As such, ever since that association, “love” has carried the connotation of “god” within its signification.

    Ultimately, isn’t every belief a construct? How do you escape the limitations of language and the secondary reality of an existence that can only be articulated through signification–both verbal and pictorial etc. and find a truth that is not limited by this means of representation? It seems impossible for “love” to be any less tainted by its ideological and social construction than God.

    One last thought. It seems as though God may have been fully aware of the dangers of the secondary nature of human representation of the divine. Could he not have been addressing this in the book of John when he declared himself as the word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:1-5. In my interpretation, he seems to be defining himself as a type of transcendental signifier and acknowledging the danger of misinterpretation: “the darkness has not understood it.” This seems to also come up in 1 Corinthians when he talks about how in the human realm we only see a partial truth, or an aberrant “truth” tainted by its ideological construction: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12. Finally, Jesus’ criticism of Pharisaical ideology and their misinterpretation of true faith seems to imply that he was aware of the harm in the attempts of humanity to fully define or dictate the realm of the divine. There is danger in codifying Christianity, but in a fallen world it often occurs. Just because ideology often misapplies and misunderstands the true nature of God I can’t discount that it exists.

    Please don’t be offended, just wanted to share my thoughts. Also, I hate the amount of fear that often coincides with Christianity. I too, suffered trauma as a child when, having grown up Presbyterian, I came to the conclusion that I was not predestined by God to be saved. However, as an adult and after deeply searching the Bible and seeking God, I have come to the conclusion that my fear, and the Calvinist ideology that produced it, was rooted in a lack of understanding of the true nature of God. Once I deeply knew him I grew to understand how much he was for me and not against me and became better able to separate organized religion and its ideology from the true nature of my triune savior.

    (Please still be my friend. I really like you! I respect your right to your opinion. I just wanted to share mine. )

    1. I would agree with much of what you say. Although I didn’t state this, my entire post is based in a Lacanian psychoanalytic view of the development of ideology, and meaning within such. To this end, I agree that “every belief” is a construct, and what I am advocating—on the level of the individual—is the process of untangling the mangled web of ideology and meaning to uncover one’s own unconscious drives that perpetuate damaging behavior and relationships. Lacan developed this concept of quilting. All words, outside of ideology, are “floating signifiers” without meaning, but once quilted through ideology (and for individuals, personal experience) those signifiers become meaningful, within the frame of the ideological construct. Thus, yes, “love” as an idea is every bit as vulnerable to ideological constraints as any other abstract idea. I advocate that individuals should break down ideology, considering what outside influences have been internalized as the voice of “God,” in effort to find meaning for each signifier, “God,” “love,” “faith,” etc…outside of the original ideology to which said individual adhered. This is liberating. So many people live out “faith” that is really just an internalized construction imposed from organizations, families, and trauma, and this action—this living out “faith” in this manner is damaging on many levels. Again, I do not argue that God as a “being” doesn’t exist. Nor would I argue that “love” as an essence does not exist. I propose, on the contrary, that we, as individuals, should investigate our own conceptions of these ideas, allowing them to float freely, detached from prescribed ideology, so as to make autonomous and authentic decisions. This process could lead a person to accept The Bible as the holy anointed word of God—for themselves, outside of the compulsion of the internalized “Big Other.” Likewise, this process could lead a person to disavow the same “belief.” My personal account is more an attempt to provide an analogy of how this process might play out in practice. Also, for reference, these ideas are spawned from my engagement with the text *The Sublime Object of Ideology* by Slavoj Zizek.

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