Religious teachings refer to God in terms of a human, light, nature, verticality, cleanliness, and even a brain. In these cases, people are drawing from the concrete world to represent what is an inherently complex or abstract concept. This process is likely metaphoric in nature. Indeed, metaphors are mappings of abstract concepts and concrete referents. In this sense, then, people seem to use metaphoric processes to understand or think about God. In this project, we will investigate the metaphoric nature of God conceptualization, how different conceptualizations influence attitudes, thoughts, and behavior, and whether using metaphors in this way provides meaning in life. In multiple studies, we will assess whether conceptualizations of God are metaphoric in nature by testing implicit associations among God-related concepts found in language. We will then investigate whether differences in these conceptualizations are predictive of individual differences in everyday life (e.g., personality, emotion, and ideology), by creating a Metaphors for God Measure. Finally, we will investigate whether conceptualizing God metaphorically is predictive of meaning in life and the positive outcomes that come with it. This project has the possibility to derive a greater understanding of religious cognition and a more empathetic religious discourse.
Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.
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