Anthropomorphism

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Anthropomorphism is the act of ascribing human characteristics to non-human beings or objects, or of giving human form to abstract concepts. This tendency is a possible explanation for belief in Gods, with various natural phenomena being interpreted to have human like characteristics. However, studies have shown that humans only anthropomorphise in certain situations.

Willard and Norenzayan found a no relationship between a greater tendency for anthropomorphism and religiosity. [1] They suggest that their main Christian sample is an example of a God with powers beyond human capabilities. They found weak evidence that Christianity actually inhibits anthropomorphism.

"[The findings are] less surprising when one considers that the religious conviction of most of our sample is Christian or living in a majority-Christian culture. In Christianity, and in Abrahamic religions in general, God is anthropomorphized in the important sense that God has human-like mental characteristics. God does not fit into the template of animism in the Christian tradition; he is super-human, not human-like. [1]"

They did find a positive relationship between anthropomorphism and paranormal belief.

"People may naturally be superstitious and prone to believing in some supernatural concepts, but may not passionately commit to God without additional cultural support [1]"

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Aiyana K. Willard, Ara Norenzayan, Cognitive biases explain religious belief, paranormal belief, and belief in life’s purpose, Cognition, Volume 129, Issue 2, November 2013, Pages 379–391

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