This post is going to be very unscientific and about a view that I hold very tentatively, so reader beware.
A friend recently posed the idea to me that it was very interesting that so many culture over the course of history have posited God or gods in order to explain things, and I really began to think about why this is. He stressed that this wasn’t proof or evidence for the existence of a creator, but one explanation could be that deep within our core, we have been endowed by a creator to yearn for one.
This actually sparked another possible explanation that I would like to present:
God is the ideally perfect human. With evolution and natural selection, there is a yearning deep within all of us to be better than we were yesterday. This evolutionary process is driving us towards improvement at every step.
We all have goals, we all have ideas of what the perfect version of ourselves would be. It naturally follows that we might start to believe that this perfectly evolved version of ourselves actually exists.
Like I said, this is not concrete, but here’s my very unscientific evidence for this hypothesis:
1. God concepts typically reflect the culture presenting them. Warrior cultures tend to believe in warrior gods, peaceful cultures tend to believe in loving peaceful gods, etc.
2. Gods concepts typically reflect the specific person presenting them. Even within sects of religions the concept of God is very dependent on the person telling you about them. Conservative Christians tend to believe their God is conservative, liberal Christians tend to believe their God is liberal, etc. Think about someone with an understanding of some quality God has. Let’s say a liberal Christian believes that God loves gay people. The Bible clearly doesn’t depict that. Their concept is more indicative of the fact that THEY love gay people.
2. Gods are typically perfect in ways that humans find to be valuable. Perfectly good, perfectly just, perfectly knowledgable, etc. You rarely find a God who is perfectly lazy. Perfectly smelly.
3. Gods are typically depicted visually as human-like creatures.
There you have it. My very weak and unconvincing argument for why God concepts might have existed throughout history. There are also some other reasons like the need for purpose, answers, etc, but I found this particular hypothesis new and compelling.