AFL Blog Week 4 Part 1: Where Ludwig Feuerbach and I Disagree

Who is this Ludwig Feuerbach? He was a philosopher who lived 1804-1872 and influenced some other dudes you may have heard of; Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles.

He wrote a book called The Essence of Christianity in which he asserts that God is just something people have projected to be real.

He says, “Man first unconsciously and involuntarily creates God in his own image.” This I totally get and largely agree with. The notion that we create God in our image (White old man in the the clouds, for example. Another would be that God hates Jews, or homosexuals, or blacks, etc., or that God does not punish, etc.) instead of dwelling on the belief that God made us in God’s image has always been called into question throughout the history of the church.

It’s what Feuerbach says next that I disagree with…”and after this God consciously and voluntarily creates man in his own image.” This is to say that man created this idea of God, unconsciously even, and then came to believe that God created us, when really we made up God altogether.

However, I think there is something in this. Feuerbach says we created God unconsciously and involuntarily. That is to say we were born inquisitive of how we came to be and we – humans – began to seek answers and have found them in religion. I totally agree.

Ecclesiastes 3:10 says this, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end,” meaning that even though we cannot fully know, we know there is a mystery. We were created, as the oft-used Christian cliche goes, with a God sized hole to fill, and so we search to fill it. We search to fill it because eternity – God, heaven, eternal life – has been planted in our hearts. It’s only natural that we seek to fill it. It’s an unconscious, involuntary, inert desire to seek the truth behind the mystery – God.

So, I really find it interesting that he uses those words, “unconsciously” and “involuntarily” here.


Another part of this excerpt that was today’s reading says this, “My only wish is to transform friends of God into friends of man, believers into thinkers, devotees of prayer into devotees of work…” to which I say, “why can’t we be both?”

I have a really good friend who would totally agree with Feuerbach here. He’s a Thoroughbred humanist  and we’ve often had conversations about how he just doesn’t understand the need to put God in the equation at all. And I’d go back and forth with him – we’d discuss how we share all the same ideas on helping people and what it means to be good in a world that is surely broken, but when it comes down to it, he doesn’t think there’s room to be both a friend of God and a friend of man, a believer and a thinker, a prayer and a doer. But I do.


Lastly for today’s blog, Feuerbach says “God is the explanation for the unexplainable which explains nothing because it explains everything without distinction…and all things which impress reason are nothing to religion. They lose their identity and are nil in God’s eye.”

First of all this is just a sad misunderstanding of the role of reason in and out of the religious mind. Contrary to what it appears Feuerbach believes, reason has always been a factor in faith. One reasons there is a creator by looking at the world and realising this is not a mistake. Creation is not a chance mishap. Reason is considered historically by the church one of the things that distinctively makes us human – and as humans we’re created in God’s image so reason needs to be a part of the way we interpret life and Scripture. Furthermore, reason is one of the main things by which we gauge good (or bad) theology! – Scripture, Tradition, Culture, Experience, and REASON!

It’s sad to see someone win, or at least base, an argument against God based on reason. Reason is certainly not “nothing to religion” and things that “impress reason” on us are not “nil in God’s eye.”


those are my thoughts. What are yours?

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