Study Finds People’s Mental Image of God Looks A Lot Like They Do
The stereotypical, westernized image of God is usually something like a cross between Zeus and Socrates; elderly, sagacious, white-bearded, and male. But according to a recent study, which compiled images of God’s appearance in the minds of hundreds of American Christians, God looks nothing like the antiquated archetype we’re all familiar with.
The study, led by researchers at UNC Chapel Hill, asked 511 American Christian participants to describe what God looks like in their mind’s eye. The team then created an amalgam of all the descriptions to create a general visage of the sample group’s perception of the divine.
The point of the team’s research was to study cognitive bias and motivation when it comes to people’s conceptualization of God. They point out that many religious scholars argue that “images of God are best seen as idiosyncratic across individuals rather than monolithic within religion or culture.”
And as it turns out, those idiosyncrasies couldn’t be more influential in their subjects’ minds, as their depictions of God often looked a lot like themselves. But does this come as any surprise?
Researchers used a method called “reverse correlation” to create the image of God, by using a combination of 50 images of the average American varying in age, gender, and race. They then overlaid “visual noise” on the image – the result of participants choosing between 300 face pairs, deciding which one they think looks closer to God.
The study found that egocentrism played a significant role in the subjects’ image, except that both genders primarily viewed God as male, with a few exceptions. Otherwise, the features of God’s face turned out to be much like their own, and shared the same general outlook on life, including political and social ideals.
One could argue that it makes sense we imagine God in our own image. Christians are taught that God made man in his own image, while eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism often teach that we are one in the same with God or that we should strive to become one with God. So why wouldn’t we see ourselves as bearing some resemblance to a perceived creator.
But the most striking result of the study was that the appearance generated by compiling all of the descriptions showed a smiling, youthful, effeminate, male. While the gender and race may not be too surprising, the age and softer features varied significantly from the clichéd image depicted in the past. The image also varies significantly from the common long-haired, caucasian depictions of Jesus.
Another surprise, according to some, is that the aggregated image seems to bear an uncanny resemblance to Elon Musk, though that may be a totally subjective observation…
Here’s Alan Watts speaking about the difference between our perceptions of God based on holy scriptures and the style of the universe:
How to Connect With the Divine Energy Your Higher Self Holds
The Divine Self, or the Higher Self, as it is also known, is a belief held by Hindus and New Age thought alike. According to these beliefs, the Divine Self is the Self that exists at an even higher level than the soul; it is in every human being ever born. It is the true self essence of the Universe that dwells in your being, the source of all light and life within you, and your true motivation for living.
The Divine self is what powers you and makes you wonder. It is the spiritual journey of the soul light at your core that chose to be incarnate at this point in time. It’s ever-aware and has been thinking since you began existing in this lifetime, and since your birth in other lifetimes. The body and the physical realm, in which we dwell in our own life, are thought to be but a vehicle for the Higher Self.
If you’ve ever experienced synchronicities, where coincidences that are too uncanny to be coincidental occur in your life, you may be in the process of connecting with your higher self.
In the same beliefs, the soul is closer to the personality and is an intermediary between the person and her Divine Self until such time as she is able to directly experience and realize the Divine Self as who she is.
How to Contact Your Higher Consciousness
If you’re interested in opening up to your Divine Self, the practice promises guidance, peace, harmony, and illuminating light through its higher knowledge. Believers also claim that you can more easily turn away from the distractions of the physical world, and restore yourself in the light, love, and power of this eternal Self, because it will reveal the illusions, desires, and attachments that keep you trapped in a lower vibration and on a lesser path, thus enabling you to find your higher path. You are also supposed to gain a greater ability to recognize limiting, disharmonious, and restricting energies and forms.
The Divine Self is always trying to reach you, to send you the higher power, illumination, love, and wisdom to draw higher forms, thoughts, feelings, and situations into your everyday life. The Divine Self is wise; it knows all and is always showing you an easier, better, more joyful way to live.
Because of these things, it’s not a huge struggle through your willpower to contact your Divine Self. All you need do is set your intention and open to all the gifts of consciousness that await you as you connect with this Self.