In his recent book, Inventing God, philosopher and psychoanalyst Jon Mills argues that God does not exist; and more provocatively, that God cannot exist as anything but an idea. In other words, God is only a thought. He argues that the God posit is merely a conjecture as supposition based on a fantasy principle conditioned by unconscious illusion and sustained through social ideology. Although a logical concept born of social convention, the God proposition is actually a semiotic invention and symbolization of ideal value. Rather than an extant ontological subject or agency traditionally attributed to a supernatural, transcendent creator or supreme being responsible for the coming into being of the universe, God is merely seen as a psychological creation signifying ultimate ideality. Here, Mills argues, the notion of God becomes a self-relation to an internalized idealized object, the idealization of imagined value. In the end, the idea or conception of God is the manifestation of humanity’s denial and response to natural deprivation or lack in favor of belief in an ultimate hypostatized object of idealized value.
After demonstrating the lack of any empirical evidence and the logical impossibility of God, Mills explains the psychological motivations underlying humanity’s need to invent a supreme being. In a highly nuanced analysis of unconscious processes informing the psychology of belief and institutionalized ideology, he concludes that belief in God is the failure to accept our impending death and mourn natural absence for the delusion of divine presence. As an alternative to theistic faith, he offers a secular spirituality that emphasizes the quality of lived experience, the primacy of feeling and value inquiry, ethical self-consciousness, aesthetic and ecological sensibility, and authentic relationality toward self, other, and world as the pursuit of a beautiful soul in search of the numinous.
- Teacher: Jon Mills