Carmen Fowler LaBerge: No, Seth Godin, Christians Aren’t ‘Asserting Anthropomorphism’ But We Are Accepting Imago Deism and the Incarnation of God in Human Flesh

Seth Godin is a blogger, author, speaker and – to use a term with which I am not entirely comfortable – guru. People hang on his every word. So, what did Seth Godin say Tuesday?

We’ve been doing it for a long time.

“The Gods must be crazy.”

The easiest way for a human to deal with a complex system (an AI that plays Scrabble, the traffic, the weather) is to imagine that there’s a little man inside, someone a lot like us, pulling the levers, getting annoyed, becoming frustrated, seeking retribution or offering a prize.

If that works, keep doing it.

But it might be even more helpful to remember that there’s no homunculus, no narrative, no revenge. Merely a complex system, one we can understand a bit better if we test and measure and examine it closely.

Let’s look closely at Godin’s “Asserting Anthropomorphism” post. (emphasis added)

We’ve been doing it for a long time.

Who exactly are we and what exactly is it we’ve been doing? The we is intended to be comprehensive of everyone, over all cultures, over all time who does not (we find out later) see reality through the lens of scientism, where the universe is impersonal, devoid of the possibility of the supernatural – including God.

According to Godin, what we’ve been doing is asserting anthropomorphism.  It is not necessarily an anti-biblical word, but Godin certainly means it to be pejorative. Anthropomorphism is the projection of human characteristics onto God or gods. It is also one of the ways limited people have available to describe the attributes of One who is wholly other.

So, when the writers of the Bible describe God as snorting mad like a bull over egregious injustice – and they describe God’s nostrils as flaring – they are using an anthropomorphic literary tool. They are not saying God is a bull nor that God, who is Spirit, has an actual nose as we understand the term. However, God clearly has the ability to smell because God finds the aroma of some sacrifices more pleasing than others. We are like God in this way, not the other way around. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s continue to unpack Godin’s post.

“The Gods must be crazy.”

Interesting that Godin chooses to capitalize God and then suggest God is plural and yet assert the definitive nature of God through use of the only definite article available in the English language: the.  Seth Godin is a smart guy. He communicates, in writing, for a living. We can assume that everything he writes, he writes with intentionality for the purpose of communicating specific ideas and views. Godin writes with an economy of words. He has no throwaway words or punctuation. We can assume that the scare quotes, the definite article, the pluralization and the capitalization are all there for a reason.

So, what might those reasons be? In capitalizing God, Godin captures theists in the wide net of those whose worldview he dismisses as anthropomorphism.  Those who believe in God, capital G, believe in a God with knowable specificity – not in a pantheon of gods. But when Godin makes the big G God plural, Godin equates those who believe in a God, One God (monotheists) with those who believe in gods of unknown number (polytheists, pantheists, etc). In one sentence, Godin finds a way to offend and dismiss the claims of all traditionally religious people at once.

Godin accomplishes something else in this vocalization of this imagined and projected internal voice. He asserts the authority of the individual over God.  It is the human being who here judges the judgement and character of God. Godin passes this off as anthropomorphism – asserting that the gods are crazy, just like us. But it is actually the most basic form of idolatry – that of the creature over the Creator.  It is an inversion and perversion of reality.

Godin continues:

The easiest way for a human to deal with a complex system (an AI that plays Scrabble, the traffic, the weather) is to imagine that there’s a little man inside, someone a lot like us, pulling the levers, getting annoyed, becoming frustrated, seeking retribution or offering a prize.

Let’s take this apart phrase by phrase.

Godin acknowledges the complexity of the system called life.  He also acknowledges the universal reality that people are trying to make sense of the world. From technology (AI that plays Scrabble), to relationships (traffic), to natural phenomena (weather), people are looking for an organizing, integrating principle.  However, Godin suggests that those who believe in an integrating reality that makes sense of otherwise disparate facts and experiences, is necessarily the product of the human imagination. He also says that’s the easy way out.

Here Godin offers a straw man – little man inside, someone a lot like us, etc – in place of the substantial reality of the God who is, the God who speaks, the God who came, the One, holy God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, holy God.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Carmen Fowler LaBerge