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date: 19 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Gods are agents believed to be largely free from the constraints that limit the agency of humans, and have been imagined with features that frequently collide with the theological expectations nurtured by contemporary monotheistic religions. Traditionally, gods have demanded offerings, which create a relation of interdependence between gods and humans. Divine qualities can be understood as produced by the projection of intensified human characteristics upon imaginary beings, by means of two processes: the desire to leave behind the limitations that afflict us, and the inescapable tendency to conceive the world as if it were populated by beings analogous to us. In order to understand the gods, therefore, one must focus on the unresolvable tension between the gratuitousness and the deliberateness of their deeds; between their neediness and their self-sufficiency; between their human-like nature and their otherness; between their omniscience and the realization that their minds cannot but be like ours.

Keywords: anthropomorphization, deities, divinization, gods, meta-representation, monotheism, pantheon, polytheism, spirits

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