Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Lee W. Bailey
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_35

Anthropomorphism is the portrayal of the gods and spiritual powers beyond and in the world as having human appearance and qualities. It critically reverses the saying that “humans were made in the image of God” to “the gods were made in the images of humans.” Theriomorphism is the analogous portrayal of spirits in animal form. Anthropomorphism is an ancient, widespread aspect of religion, evident in statues of gods and goddesses as if they were human, as in Egypt (Osiris), Greece (Aphrodite), or India (Krishna). They may blend human and animal images, as in animal-headed human figures. The Roman orator Cicero (106–43 BCE) complained of the “poisonous honey of the poets, who present us with gods afire with rage or mad with lust, and make us the spectators of their wars.” But he concluded that “we must admit there are gods,” due to innate ideas of the divine (Cicero 1972, pp. 87–88). A critical view of anthropomorphism may criticize the former “poisonous honey” and debate the latter...

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionIthaca CollegeIthacaUSA