Read Along: Chapter 9—Is God Just a Human Invention?

Today we continue with Chapter Nine in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Nine, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!  Index page here.

[Audio Intro] – Sean McDowell introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 09 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Nine: Is God Just a Human Invention?
(pages 120-131)

Chapter nine looks at the hypothesis that God is just a projection of the human mind. The authors show how this approach begs the question against God, and they reveal reasons why this hypothesis falls short. Other ways of explaining God away include “the God gene”, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology; perhaps Richard Dawkins’ memes explain why religion has spread so widely. However, the authors argue against these theories and suggest that the reason people are “hardwired” to believe in God is because God really does exist.

Philosopher Garry DeWeese contributes an essay describing his journey of faith and the importance of having good reasons to believe.

Notable quotes:

Our intention in this chapter is to walk through some of the most common reasons skeptics think God is a human invention and see if they sufficiently show that belief in God has been rendered unreasonable, or if the reason that so many people believe in God is best explained by the fact that he actually does exist. (p. 120)

If it can be argued that humans created God out of a need for security or a father figure, then it can just as easily be argued that atheism is a response to the human desire for the freedom to do whatever one wants without moral constraints or obligations(p. 123)

If belief in God is indeed an issue of hardwiring, then two possible explanations exist for the design we observe. Either a blind process of natural selection produces religious belief over time as a by-product with some selective advantage, or an Intelligent Mind designed humanity to naturally believe God exists. (p. 112)


  1. How does the projection theory beg the question against God?
  2. How does the projection theory “cut both ways”?
  3. What are the implications of humans being “hardwired” to believe?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 10—Is Religion Dangerous?
Written by

Brian Auten is the founder emeritus of Apologetics315. He is also director of Reasonable Faith Belfast. Brian holds a Masters degree in Christian Apologetics and has interviewed over 150 Christian apologists. His background is in missions, media direction, graphic design, and administration. Brian started Apologetics315 in 2007 to be an apologetics hub to equip Christians to defend the faith.

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The mission of Apologetics 315 is to provide educational resources for the defense of the Christian faith, with the goal of strengthening the faith of believers and engaging the questions and challenges of other worldviews.

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