What does Feuerbach mean by “God”


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In The Essence of Christianity Feuerbach did convey some significant opinions which ultimately rendered havoc impact on the realm of theology and specifically on the conventional Christian concept of God. The central thesis of Feuerbach’s epical work The Essence of Christianity is that the notion of the divine or God is actually nothing more than human projection. Feuerbach opined that the object of religion is a selected object and the concept of the Supreme Being is the primarily selected object of religion. God is the concept generated by man and there are some basic differences between the actuality of God and the Christian theory of God.

Man’s separation and projection of his own nature gives rise to the idea of God according to Feuerbach. It is the inclination of human beings to turn the subjective nature into an objective one rendering a sense of independence and extra-existential being that ultimately paved the way for the emergence of the conventional and divine concept of God. Moreover, in Feuerbach’s opinion the objectification of God did come into existence due to the man’s longing for comfort, security, and an appropriate meaning of leading life. Every human being remembers God when they are in need of something, and this, according to Feuerbach, is a pointer to the fact that God actually springs out of the feeling of a certain want which grows within the human mind. It is the feeling of loneliness, feeling of a void, and the feeling of insecurity that gave birth to the concept of the Supreme God who will save individuals from all of their sufferings. Hence, Feuerbach has contested the idea of a Supreme God who is obviously an imagination of human mind.

Feuerbach’s theory suggests that it is the turmoil suffered by human beings in coping with the harsh realities of the physical world which has actually given rise to the concept of a Divine Superpower, the God. The emotional shocks which human beings often receive in this world initiate a tendency within the human mind to seek shelter under the umbrella of a different psychological world where there is a Supreme God to bless every one with peace, serenity, happiness, and justice. It is this hope of finding peace that makes human beings inclined toward imagining a God who is all pervasive and divine. According to Feuerbach the pains, the frustrations, the anxieties, the injustices, the hopelessness of human life and the fear of the lurking death actually enforced human beings to find a source that can offer them perfect happiness and immense hope and it is this urge of finding such a source which ultimately gave rise to the concept of a God who will provide human beings with all that they need in another world after death. And it is from this angle that Feuerbach comments that this God is nothing but an illusion.

For Feuerbach the concept of God is an interesting and complex one as through this notion human beings project their own being into objectivity and then turn themselves into objects to the projected image of themselves (i.e. God) and thereby transforms themselves into a subject of worship. And this complex psychology is the only truth behind the existence of God. Moreover, according to Feuerbach individuals who are religious by nature tend to see the positive elements of their nature within an imaginative form that can extend their own abilities and compose as perfect being. And this tendency of this kind of human beings ultimately transforms their imagination into a supernatural and omnipotent power called God.

In conclusion, for Feuerbach the concept of God is actually a view of human beings through which they try to give shape to their own desires in the form of an infinite, all pervasive and perfect God. God is in reality the imagination of human mind, an illusionary concept through which human beings strive to attribute their own perfected qualities to an imaginary powerful being that can provide human beings with all those things that they long for.

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About the Author Doris C. Chesser