God = a baby's parents?

I was hanging out with my friends and their two-year-old twins recently, and I had a bit of an epiphany. To the two year olds, their parents are pretty damn awesome. They are omnipresent. They are all-knowing. They can soothe all ills. They can do just about anything. They bring food. They bring happiness. They bring laughter. They bring joy. They are beyond knowable limit. It struck me that it would be AWESOME to have a presence in my life like that. I mean, some one or thing which hung around and did Mysterious and Powerful Things to make me happy, which provided for all of my needs, and which absolutely positively loved me.
I wonder if one of the origins of religion and the belief in God is humanity’s unconscious yearning to return to the (arguably) happiest time in our life. Once we grow up and realize our parents no longer fill the role for us that they did when we were 2 and our consciousness was forming, it’s something that we miss. So we come up with the idea of God, who is and does all of those things.
In retrospect, this seems like a kind of obvious idea, but I thought I’d share it…

I’ll take it a step farther. From that two-year-old’s POV, those all-seeing, all-knowing, all-providing parents exist solely in relation to him.

The thing I’ve always found most odd about many people’s belief in an omnipotent being is that they seem to think that omnipotent being is concerned, above and beyond all else, with us.

But of course. We yearn as adults for some superior being who can keep us safe, fed and warm, and protect us from enemies. At the same time, this all-knowing one sometimes, for reasons we cannot understand, withholds blessings. Or inflicts punishments on us. It’s transparently obvious.

I don’t think babyhood is the happiest time, it is the most frustrating, you want to tell these things you are hungry, but don’t know how, you make what noise you can, these people check to see if your bottom is wet. Perhaps the happiest time is in the womb, where you just float and don’t really have needs that we do once life support is removed and we have to start worring about basic needs.

Don’t know how this effects you view of gods, perhaps more so, appealing to a higher power.

“Mother is the word for god on the lips and minds of little children.”-Thackery. (The exact wording may be off). It was from Vanity Fair.

Aaaand, gods often seem to resemble our parents. Get mad, have a few too many drinks, that sort of thing. Just look at the Greek gods.

I don’t that’s it (what the OP is proposing).

I think the belief in supernatural forces derives from our brain being structured to look for cause and effect. If we can’t see the cause, we make one up. Where does lightning come from? Must be some guy up in the sky throwing it down. As we discover more and more about the natural world, God gets pushed further into the background, until he becomes the prime mover or the spark that got everything started. It’s difficult to accept that when we die, we just die and that’s it. It’s temping to think we can see glimpses of your primitive ancestors in young children-- that baby talk might be how language started, for example. But I don’t think many scientists put too much weight on those observations. A fully grown chimp can reason better than a 2-year-old human child. So it’s almost certain that our primitive ancestors could do so as adults, too.

I’m not sure what you’re saying about primitive ancestors… I don’t think that has anything to do with my point.
Gods explaining the natural world relates to Greek/Roman gods like Zeus (who caused lightning) and Apollo (who moved the sun). But the characteristics of the Christian God, in particular, have much less to do with explaining observed phenomenon, and seem much more similar to the way a 2-year-old would perceive his or her parents. And while toddlerhood is not 100% perfect happiness, one must only look at the simle of a toddler to see a level of bliss that is rare among grownups…

The child/parent believer/God relationships are analogous, but that doesn’t mean they’re identical.

I’m going to voice some more doubts about this description of childhood. People looking back at childhood tend to idealize it. I’ve heard people with kids say that children aren’t afraid of anything, for example, and I wonder what in the world they’re smoking.

In one collection of short stories I own, the editor (Isaac Asimov?) wrote a nice essay along these lines.

The source of religion is indeed ancestor worship.
But your ancestors don’t even have to be dead.
Every kindergarten has arguments that devolve to “Well, my Daddy said ___”
This faith in authority over evidence is the true difference between religion and reality.

In a related vein, I read a book which asserted that an individual’s relationship to society is the origin. It’s this mighty entity that’s never going to due, you can’t literally see it even though you’re simultaneously aware that it’s sort of all around you – heck, it doesn’t just dictate assorted taboos to you as authoritative pronouncements; it scares the crap out of your parents and won’t listen to either of you if you feel like complaining, so shut up and tithe. Thou shalt not murder because I said so; I can make your life hell.

When someone really comes to terms with that, and starts taking it as the half-forgotten context of everyday life, religion can piggyback its way in pretty easily.

(The book was written by a sociologist, of course.)

Arrgh. “Never going to die”.

Hi Max. You know what? I never thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing that, truly.

Offhand, I first agreed with this completely, realizing all the things there are to fear. Then I remembered how many of them kids may not be aware of. Is it possible that some children just aren’t afraid of anything they know of, and they don’t know about a lot of things they might fear if they did?