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How do people come up with images of God?

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Quick Answer

In the Christian and Jewish religions, people often picture God as looking like a person similar to themselves, since the religions share a belief that God created humans in God's image. In other faith traditions, people sometimes picture God as a face in the clouds or an element of nature, due to a related belief of God residing in heaven or existing as the divine nature of everything.

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Artists often portray God as looking similar to a historical figure of their time. In this situation the artist relates God to an authority figure in a place of power or a historical figure who exhibits kindness and mercy similar to the artist's belief about God. Others represent God as having a more ephemeral image. This relates to a belief that God is a spirit creature that mimics parts of creation and has an omnipotent, omnipresent nature.

Children sometimes view God as a parent or a mythical creature, such as Santa Claus; teenagers sometimes picture God as a pop culture figure, such as a singer or movie star. Some religions describe God as completely incomprehensible or unknowable, which leads to people coming up with images that are bright and glowing conglomerations of abstract objects, shapes and colors.

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