God’s Emotions Series Now Available as Podcasts, YouTube, Blogposts

Thanks to requests from readers, God’s Emotions is now available in three media:  audio, video, or plain old written word. What suits you?

Anger, disgust, jealousy, regret, grief, love . . . The Bible authors wrote as if God has emotions, and most Christians through history have spoken and behaved as if this were true.  But what does that mean?  What exactly are emotions?  What are they for and how do they work?  And how do these details relate to our notions about God?

1. The Question We Forget to Ask (10:29)
Which of our ideas about God come from something outside us and which are projections of our own psyches? Answering this question is a process of elimination; to come any closer to knowing what is out there, we need to start by scrubbing our god concepts of projection. Fortunately, we now know quite a bit about the human mind, how it structures information and what kinds of errors we are prone to.

2. What Psychology Can and Can’t Say About God (9:29)
Psychology asks, “What can we know about how people (and sometimes other animals) function within this natural world?” It neither assumes nor denies the existence of a supernatural realm because the methods of science are not applicable to that question, and the findings of science are agnostic on that question. That said, it does assume that if we have sufficient natural explanations for natural events, then we don’t assert supernatural causes as well.

3. Do Christians Think God Has Emotions? (10:26)
 Understanding emotions is irrelevant to Einstein or Spinoza’s god-concept because the God of Spinoza and Einstein is not a person and does not have emotions. On the other hand, one of the defining attributes of the orthodox God is actually an emotion, love.

4. What Are Emotions Anyways? (14:51)
Cognition without emotion doesn’t get us very far. Damage to emotion centers in the brain can mean that even intelligent people can’t learn from their mistakes and they make harmful social and financial decisions. Affective scientists say that emotion is key in three kinds of processes that help animals, including humans, to survive and thrive.

5. A God With a Temper (10:30)
We often think of anger being the domain of powerless, frustrated people, but the opposite may be true. In a study by Sells,Tooby, Cosmides stronger men and more beautiful women were more anger prone than their less beefy and more ordinary counterparts. Who is more powerful than God?

6. Pleasing a High Status Deity (9:39)
According to cognitive scientist, Pascal Boyer, most supernatural beings regardless of their physical form, have human psyches, including emotions. The God of the Bible is no exception. Sermons and sacred texts that wax eloquent about God’s anger are just one of many clues that most of the Bible writers related to God as a high status human.

7. The Stepford Jesus (7:31)
We want our lovers and spouses to have intuitive access to our wishes, to know what we want before we even ask. In a similar vein, the quest of the mystic is to be one with God, to be consumed by his presence. The quest of the “servant-leader” is to be the hands and feet of God. But because we are human, what people want, inevitably, is that God becomes a channel through which they can work their will in the world.

8. Why God Cares About What God Cares About (10:02)
Half a century ago, a social psychologist named Fritz Heider made a series of observations that he distilled into what he called “balance theory.” Heider found that positive and negative feelings in relationships need to be balanced to be stable. His theory is useful in thinking about why our images of God change.

9. Manmade Gods (11:18)
Careful, repeated observations of the natural world, however meticulous, will never allow us to say whether there is another realm beyond the reach of our senses and our ability to process information. But they do allow us to understand the intricacies of the natural order, ourselves included. And they allow us to examine our god-concepts in light of what we know about ourselves.

About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt; Deas and Other Imaginings.
This entry was posted in Musings & Rants: Christianity, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to God’s Emotions Series Now Available as Podcasts, YouTube, Blogposts

  1. Mriana says:

    I was looking for an iTunes or alike podcast subscription. lol Still works though. :) Thanks.


  2. Yes, it would be easiest for me if I could just subscribe through the iTunes store.


  3. Pingback: God’s Emotions: Second Series Concerning the Psychology of Religion By Valerie Tarico | God Discussion

  4. Virginia says:

    Hi Valerie,

    I am an ex-Christian, and I am drawn to your site after reading your book. The Internet is poorly supplied with the kind of analysis to see into a human mind how religion ticks. Believers make it sound as though it is a mystery that nobody can access or even understand. After I found your videos, I decided to translate them. I am only a computer professional by training and have to struggle to understand the videos when it deals with psychological ideas. Your text versions helped – at least I can Google around and find the meanings of specific terms and people you mentioned.

    I want to bring your videos to the people speaking and reading only Chinese… and these blogs help me a lot!



    • Wow, Virginia. Thank you!! That sounds like a large undertaking and one that could be an enormous gift to people who are being proselytized by Christian evangelicals. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the extent of missionary activity that has plagued China for generations. If you would like a word doc with all of the scripts i’m happy to send them. Just email me at valerietarico hotmail. Occasionally the written text may have a paragraph that was deleted from or paraphrased in the audio for brevity. Also, I don’t know if you are translating in writing or out loud, but I can give you versions of the videos with my voice stripped out. I’m happy to help as I can.


  5. cddb says:

    I found these after hearing you speak on Minnesota Atheists’ podcast, and wanted to see if you had any podcast material of your own. Thank you for making these available as audio downloads.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s