Atheism-Theism and Fetishisation of consciousness

Many arguments for God, like the Design argument, follow the idea that God does his works the same way we do; it’s the anthropomorphism of a deity.

However, problems arise with these arguments because our understanding of ourselves and the cosmos is misleading or even wrong.

What’s going on here is not so much a wrong view as a myopic view of nature, which we then use as a template to create an idea of God.

Fetishisation Consciousness

One attitude is what I call the ‘Fetishisation of Consciousness.’ The theist over-identifies with the conscious part of the mind, forgetting the subconscious part.

The design argument is based upon the flawed assumption that it’s attention, agency, and plans that only drive creativity.

Yet closer inspection shows its more serendipity, subconscious expertise, trained skills and spontaneous response to the world. It’s our Overactive agency detectors – seeing choice where there is spontaneity, seeing intention instead of instinct.

It’s also egotistical; we like to feel we’re in control, so we write stories to ourselves to convince ourselves we are.

Theists give too much credit to conscious thought and control through biases and overstate the case for the agency and free will in our behaviour.

The theistic anthropomorphic god is thus a product of over-identification with a sliver of conscious awareness – the part that feels separate from others. The part asks ‘who am I’ and ‘what do I want. The part that appears to think and make choices and decisions.

‘Our desires, ideas, needs, and choices arise from being connected deeply to the world.’

It’s where the anthropomorphising gods lead to confusing implications and complications. For example, we make choices in time: There’s a before the selection and after. So for God to choose, God must be subject to time by the same reasoning.

Causality is the same. We have narrowed it down to a simple linear cause and effect. But with a broader viewpoint, we can see the interconnected web that shows many reasons and conditions.

We take the narrow idea and run with it to conclude a simple cause and effect for the cosmos.

Streetlight Effect

Such a narrow view happens when people over-identify with the thinking parts of their mind and forget the non-thinking subconscious that does most of the heavy lifting.

For humans, it’s the Japanese word ‘Mushin’ or No-mind or, in Chinese, ‘Wu Wei‘, Effortless Action.

It’s also sometimes described as ‘Buddha Nature‘ or Zen. A non-grasping non-striving being in the world. But I’ve seen it apply to reality—a spontaneous unfolding of existence, a self-organising flow of becoming.

We dismiss such effortless behaviour because we don’t notice it- leaving us with an over-inflated sense of agency’s role in life and a deep need for control and power. Such is the arising of the insecure ego.

Like Maslow’s Hammer or the ‘Law of the instrument‘. ‘He who is good with a hammer sees everything as a nail.

We can illuminate the conscious mind but not the subconscious with any certainty. We think a lot; we’re well-practised. Therefore we gravitate towards thought because it’s familiar.

It’s the Streetlight effect.

‘A policeman sees a drunk man searching for something under a streetlight and asks what the drunk has lost. He says he lost his keys, and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes, the policeman asks if he is sure he lost them here, and the drunk replies no, and that he failed them in the park. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the drunk answers, ‘this is where the light is’


We draw conclusions based on what we have to examine in our conscious minds. It’s Availability Bias, where easily recollected examples are used to evaluate a topic or decision.

However, the reality is far bigger, more complex, and nuanced than the abstract ideas we have, broader than the narrow minds that grasp it.

It’s an over-rationalisation of life. We over-identify with a part of our consciousness, but consciousness is only but a sliver.

Simple abstract ideas are often easier to grasp, so we imply they must be more likely to exist than complex and contradictory ideas. The metaphors of the Pot and Potter, Watch and Watchmaker, are easier to grasp

Such thought fails to understand how and when we default to heuristics and ‘rules of thumb’ instead of dealing with a more complicated process of evidence and reason.

Closing thoughts

We’re in many ways lazy thinkers, taking the easier route because it avoids the difficulty of learning and understanding challenging ideas. We focus on simple ideas because they are more accessible than the complex, changing reality we face.

Yet, in other ways, we’re overthinkers. Obsessive over finding answers to find that feeling of comfort and safety, it’s often through the analytical tool that is our mind we try and find such certainty.

We’re biased toward the simple and the obvious instead of the complex, challenging and accurate.

Further, still, we take these simple ideas and twist the facts/reality to fit into them or claim they’re the truth: this Reification Fallacy.

The ideas have become more important than the facts of reality.

It is much easier to understand a ‘Potter made pot’ than to understand creativity, which is haphazard, spontaneous, contradictory, and mysterious. It’s much easier to contemplate our conscious mind and cling to its illusory truths because our subconscious cannot be examined.

We fetishise consciousness, the simple, obvious, knowable ideas we find there. However, such a myopic understanding of ourselves and the cosmos leads us to draw erroneous conclusions.