I thought this was quite the interesting thought. I was gonna write this
as a response to one of a other discussions, but thought that I'd like
to get a bigger audience in on this one.
Many, if not all, good atheist believe that God simply does not exist. But I beg to ask the question: "If he doesn't exist and nothing in creation lends to the existence of God, why do we have so many thoughts about God? Are not our thoughts shaped by our environment? If our environment does not support the existence of a God, why do so many of us rule him into the equation? Is it that we are inclined to desire a god. Are we naturally inclined to think about one irrespective of our environment?"
The light bulb was created based on something that already existed, light! So I imagine Ben Franklin was inspired by the sun. Even the delusional has inspiration of thoughts based on things that exist. So why do we think about God if he doesn't even exist?
I don't think the question is very well understood. What I'm trying to get at is this: Is it possible for us as humans to concoct in our minds something that doesn't exist. For example: do you think an Eskimo could concoct within his mind images of a tree if he's never seen a tree before.
Do you think unicorns ever existed? How about giant death robots with laser beam eyes?
Of course we can conceive of things that never existed.
However - your eskimo analogy isn't particularly apt, and here is why:
An Inuit who had never seen a tree nor heard one described may not be able to concieve of one BUT every single notion of god that as ever existed (as far as I know) has anthropomorphic qualities that we have ALL experienced.
We call the abrahamic god a Him becase men were authority figures. We ascribe to him human physical features becasue that is what we know. Communication with God is via talking (prayer) even though God is supposedly omniscient and should really know what I am thinking anyway. Revelation is not simply beamed into the subject's head - there is invariably a messenger that has some earthly presence (in the sense tht it is something that can be directly perceived by the said subject) such as a burning bush, or a vision in the sky, or a disembodied voice.
The argument that we can only conceive of God because he exists is fallacious - he is too close to human to be anything but a human invention.
Many people mention unicorns and they have been written about in many mythology reality it was a deer I think with a birth abnormality but of course way back then to make sense it was then coined the unicorn.
I find this idea to be heretical. To question the divine origins of the unicorn is blasphemy.
Sorry to offend but I work in mental health and many of the people there concoct many things that they have not seen or experienced. Are you sure? There are many sights, sounds, experiences that gets recorded to our memory banks. And many times fears can cause those images to become jumbled. Even when someone tells us a story without images, we often form images based on things we've seen.
So we do not feel so alone God or goddesses or a deity is created for us to feel safe and secure. Well, don't we have friends and family for that same reason. Why come up with a transcendent deity to answer loneliness. Of course I know there are those who go through hard times of loneliness, but are they so prevalent that they'd become the largest religion in the world.
My thoughts are, if there was no God, the humans of the past would be just like atheists today. They would live as if their destiny was in their hands. They would take charge of every situation, not relying on any outside force. If the greatest inspiration for a deity comes in the form of parents when we were children, then when we become older in adolescence, wouldn't it be natural to rebel against those parents to do your own thing. To surpass the former generation. We'd simply live to out do each other. It is then we'd end up with Natural Selection.
Oh Grant this has been exhaustively surveyed and understood. Basically from early childhood everything discovered has a purpose to a young developing mind. Ask a child why trees have leaves and they will say "so they can blow in the wind" or something of that nature. This is existence based reasoning and it carries on for some throughout their life. This is where this mental connection with the need for a "God" comes from, this existence based reasoning. It's a terrible method of thinking though which would be completely open to interpretation and have absolutely nothing to do with actually finding real cause and effect relationships between things.
I am no child psychologist but I see what you're saying. On the other hand, trees can be seen and the wind can be felt. Can that child imagine something he/she has never seen or felt? Will that child add reason to something that doesn't exist. For instance, a child will hardly take notice of the germs on a toilet seat. They they'll go and play in the toilet, because it's fun. Until they get the revelation of germs, they will continue to do so, even into adulthood. My point is kris, our imaginations and thoughts come by way of revelation and knowledge. God has revealed himself through different means. Hence we have a knowledge of him today. If he didn't exist, there would be no reason for us to concoct him. If God didn't exist, we humans would have promoted ourselves to being the masters of our universe a long time ago.
To that extent the boogey man exists because he was concocted to exist. If he did not exist, there would be no reason for us to concoct him. The boogeyman has revealed himself to us through different means, but mostly through dark places and under beds.
There is no correlation between a superstitious belief, and an inherent "validity" of that belief simply because it is being held. We work with evidence and reason here grant, when a God has been found we will support one. Until then we refer back to tangible, provable, things that exist in reality.