Is God a narcissist?

God written in sand

Anyone who doubts that God has been created in the image of Man would do well to contemplate God’s supposedly bottomless need for praise. The God of the world’s three monotheistic religions is nothing more than an ancient tyrant writ large, reflecting the social hierarchy of ancient civilizations. God, like a Pharaoh, apparently requires an endless diet of praise, flattery and supplication. Without strenuous and continuous efforts at placation, God, moody and unpredictable, may lash out in ways that cause grievous harm.

The belief that God needs to be praised and flattered is a feature of all three monotheistic religions, but it is most obvious in Fundamentalist Christianity. I was forcibly struck by this fact in reading and writing about a family who recently lost a baby to a potentially preventable cause at a homebirth. During labor, the mother supposedly suffered a rare and often fatal complication, amniotic fluid embolus. Her baby died (though it is not clear whether the baby died before or after the embolus) and the mother ended up intubated in the hospital ICU.

The reaction of the family and its Fundamentalist supporters has been to carefully ignore the multiple disasters that have taken place, and praise God repeatedly and fulsomely for not having killed everyone involved. The mother was “led” by her religious convictions to make a foolish and dangerous choice to give birth at home; she was led by her religious convictions to ignore the signs that something was very wrong; she experienced a rare and devastating complication; the baby is dead; she is fighting for her life in a hospital ICU.

Other people might be angry at these tragic developments, but the family and its coreligionists simply ignore these disasters. No blame can be attributed to God, because God apparently cannot handle, and therefore must never be exposed to, criticism. God must be flattered by insisting that he is always right, no matter how cruel and tragic the outcome. Instead, focus is directed toward the fact that the tragedy has not been a completely unmitigated disaster. God must be praised for “healing” (i.e. not killing) the mother.

God, portrayed as an unreasoning tyrant, and must be placated like an unreasoning tyrant. God is just a bigger version of Pharaoh. Yes, God, you struck down a woman and her unborn child, leaving the woman desperately ill and the child dead, but we are ever so grateful that you, in your endless wisdom and as the result of your praiseworthy judgment, saw fit not to kill the mother, too.

The husband wrote on his wife’s blog:

Praises to Our Lord and the healing Master! [My wife] is truly a miracle of God’s healing power and a testimony of His strength. [She] was quickly treated for AFE (amniotic fluid embolism) when we arrived at the ER on Friday…

I know what the outcomes usually are and that my wife has dodge a bullet but I believe in the power of prayer and have been humbled by so many people praying for my wife. God is so good and is the rock in which our family stands!

God’s healing power? He’s the one who struck her down and killed their son. The fact that he didn’t kill her too is hardly a testimony to his healing power.

This is the same view of religion that is on display at major sporting events, as when a receiver scores a touchdown and then points toward heaven to give credit to God. Now we know why God has no time to address thorny problems like the starving multitudes in Darfur. He is too busy checking out who is praising him and awarding them touchdowns.

This God is a petty God, a narcissist who exists on praise and flattery. There’s no better sign that this God is nothing more than the creation of Man, the figurative equivalent of the carved idols of old. He is in every respect the image of a human tyrant, with all the worst foibles of any human being.

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  • Siri

    This blog post was written nearly five years ago, exactly two months before the birth of my fifth and last baby. How many little lives could have been saved if the world (and US homebirth midwives plus their clients) had taken heed of Dr Amy’s words back then? Griffin, Gavin Michael, and many, many others not due to be conceived for a good while yet. Dr Amy, I honour your continued efforts; it must feel like an uphill struggle at times.

  • That Guy

    Okay, look, I’m sorry for this. Upon re-reading your little biography, I feel I need to apologize a little. Just remember that children are priority one the next time you make a blog entry like this, okay?

  • That Guy

    I need to be honest with you. There are two things wrong here.

    The first is that the family should’ve been a lot more careful and actually went to the hospital. They got themselves into that mess, and they consequently to blame for all of what happened afterward. But to praise God and seemingly ignore the fact that a young baby died is absolutely shameful. No person worth their salt would ever do this.

    The second thing comes from you, actually. I’ve had my fair share of disappointment on both sides of the debate. However, there is something rather disturbing about your blog post that makes this seem much less genuine. The way you worded all of this, coupled with the subject matter at hand, are the two key indicators of what you really intended for this blog to be. You care little to nothing about the baby, you care more about saying how bad religion and God are and how the parents should’ve been more careful. In any situation like this, babies always come first. Instead, you made sure that only your views on religion came first. If anything, it feels more like you were “cashing in” on the tragedy to prove a point about God. While I do agree with you about the parents, as pointed out in the previous paragraph, you turned the tragedy into what looks like an attempt to de-convert believers. I am a skeptic, having read dozens of passages in the Skeptics Annotated Bible, so I am on the atheist side of the debate a majority of the time. But this is low for just about anyone. I am ashamed to have read this, and my heart goes out to the baby that died that day.

    As for you, “ma’am”, if you ever do this sort of thing again, I will not be amused. That baby deserved much better than what you treated the baby as.

    • Stacy21629

      “if you ever do this sort of thing again”
      So……have you actually READ any other posts on this blog? Because Dr Amy never goes out of her way to bash religion or make it all about her religious views. This is ONE post, tailored to fit the parent’s reaction. Methinks you have an axe to grind rather than an open mind.

      “I will not be amused”
      Well aren’t you the Grand Poohbah! Good thing Dr Amy doesn’t have to listen to you or particularly CARE if you’re amused.

      Shove off.

    • Mishimoo

      Ooooh! Another contender for the Supreme Reptilian position.
      Let’s see how the scores turned out:
      4/10 for structure
      4/10 for content
      4/10 for the use of parentheses
      6/10 for tone-trolling
      2/10 for the attempted objectivity
      2/10 for the vague threat
      3/10 for effort
      2/10 for being a skeptic based on reading “dozens of passages in the Skeptics Annotated Bible”
      1/10 for article choice
      2/10 for reading comprehension.

      Thanks for applying, but the position of ‘Supreme Reptilian’ is only open to those with full points in all categories

  • Guest

    God is a vague word. Of course in this context it is the Christian God, however many philosophers and scientists etc. refer to God as being nature, reality, society, or ethics. I guess the worship or anti-worship of ‘God’ is not bad in itself, unless it creates irrational decisions. As a non-religious person I must admit that Christianity itself is actually an Atheist religion. When Jesus Christ dies on the cross, is this not a literal dead and sacrifice of God himself? Leaving only humanity there to take care of itself. If however we want to take it to the extremes. If reality is determinant then God has some cosmic power above him to which he must command. So God becomes just an agent of reality. The child was already going to die and the woman being saved.
    Then what the woman did and said was very rational.
    The whole ‘what if?’ question is useless. I can very well say. “what if that child became a murderer?”, “what if God exists and he is killing out of love?” “what if social hierarchy of ancient civilizations. is the most efficient way to structure society?”
    Note that I am an Atheist and all pro-science and stuff, but the only way to understand religion is to think like it. It all depends on the subjective frame of reference.

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