silverback gorilla
Image by Pierre Fidenci (CC BY-SA 2.5).

Not everyone buys into a sky-god with a long white beard, a serious and all-knowing mien, capable of rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad. But it doesn’t take much imagination to recognise that God, as worshipped in most of the world, is remarkably humanoid, widely perceived as a great, big, scary, wilful, yet nourishing and protective guy… in short, a silverback gorilla writ large.

-Evolutionary biologist David Barash, writing in Aeon, finds a model for most monotheistic conceptions of god where we might not think to look: in the “harem-keeping alpha male” leaders of gorilla families.

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