Here’s my theory. God has narcissistic personality disorder. Stay with me as I indulge in two of my favourite pastimes: illuminating monotheistic religion’s exploitation of the human desire to feel safe, loved and special; and my constant need to question and expose maladaptive behaviour. Let’s pathologise!
Here’s the deal: tick five in the diagnostic criteria and we have an NPD winner!
* Feelings of grandiosity and self-importance (I am God); exaggerating accomplishments (I made you and the world) to the point of lying (I exist and there is a heaven); demands to be recognised as superior without commensurate achievements (Worship me and only me because I am great and almighty and I know everything).
* Obsession with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty or perfect love (I will love you, you will love me and we will live happily in eternity).
* Conviction you are unique and special (I am almighty. I am the one and only God).
* Requires excessive adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared (Worship me. And me only. Or you will feel my wrath. Worse still, you will not come to my party in heaven).
* Feels entitled. Demands automatic compliance with unreasonable expectations for special and favourable priority treatment (Follow my rules and rituals no matter how barmy, or you’ll go to hell. And don’t question me. Because I am God).
* Is ”interpersonally exploitative”: uses others to achieve his or her own ends (Kill in the name of God. Wage war in the name of God. Cut off family members in the name of God. Punish children in the name of God. Discriminate against homosexuals, non-believers and women in the name of God. Spread the word and convert others so I have more power in the name of God).
* Devoid of empathy (Kill in the name of God, etc).
* Behaves arrogantly (I am great and you are sinners); feels ”above the law” (Kill in the name of God, etc).
Atheist pin-up boy Richard Dawkins describes God as “the most unpleasant character in all fiction. Jealous and proud of it. Petty, vindictive, unforgiving and racist. An ethnic cleanser urging his people on to acts of genocide.” Mm, smell that NPD!
It has been suggested that Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama suffer NPD.
NPDs are often extremely successful in business, politics, entertainment, sport and the clergy. It’s believed a highly emotional, chaotic childhood results in a sense of inferiority, which hobbles NPDs’ ability to be true to themselves; instead creating a false reality. Which becomes their reality.
They are charismatic, persuasive and intelligent and become skilled actors who can fake any emotion and have the ability to make you glow with their favour. But they are deceitful, ruthless, manipulative users who are unpredictable and emotionally erratic. The emotional transaction is wildly out of whack. They expect the best but give very little. They cannot love and have no empathy. But they are emotionally needy and crave attention so hone their skills to attract love, admiration and attention to fill a hole inside them that will never be filled.
NPDs don’t feel they exist without an adoring fan club, so they create their own fantasy world in which they are king. With their manufactured charisma and genuine hauteur, they make others feel special by granting small mercies and bestowing their favour.
Which is how people get sucked into the transaction of worshipping a God despite no rational evidence. Babies die in ditches every day, yet God helps Hollywood stars win trophies. “Ah yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways. He helps me find my car keys occasionally. And because he’s so famous, and he noticed me, that makes me special. So I keep believing. Because if I don’t, I won’t be special.”
My 11-year-old atheist gave me the revelation that God had NPD when he said, “I think we invented God and then God invented us.”
It was Galileo who said, ”I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”