Atheists are becoming more vocal in their claim there is no God. “Man created God” say T-shirts and billboards.
Banks reviews several of the current atheist writers and their explanations for religion and belief in God. He next looks at the history of the “man created God” idea. That humans created gods was recognized by Old Testament prophets, beginning in the eight century BC. The Greek critics were next. Apologists of the early Christian era spoke of gods being invented by people, adding the idea of demons initiating such inventions. There was a revival of critiquing the origin of gods in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The necessity of religion was seen as something mankind would grow out of as he developed. Hume, for example, that the creation of a deity was in response to human hopes and fears. The rationalist movement took the final step into a fully rationalistic and anti-religious position with Paul-Henry d'Holbach. “...[T[he initial rejection of false gods as human creations has been turned completely on its head. It has become a rejection of the very God from whom the original critique was said to have come.” (59)
Banks next addresses the four main modern approaches that God is of human creation. He reviews the works of Feuerbach and evaluates them. Next, Marx's theories are critiqued. Freud's analysis of religion is analyzed. Finally, Fromm's works are discussed.
Banks suggests in the last section of his book that we should pay attention to these critiques of religion, “since even committed, self-aware, and knowledgeable believers tend to infuse their personal preferences into their ideas of God...” (134) His final chapter explores how the secular critiques can help us identify and discard any elements that reduces God to a means of achieving our own human purposes. He also has suggestions for believers who want to avoid imagining God in their own image.
Lion Books, distributed by Kregel Publications, 147 pages.
I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review.