God is a substitute attachment figure

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Psychologists have observed that humans have an innate tendency to bond with "attachment figures", such as primary caregivers, friends and romantic partners. It is possible that theists belief in a personal relationship with God is an imaginary product of the attachment faculty of humans.

"a personal God is [...] nothing other than the exalted father. [...] This we recognize that the roots of the need for religion are in the parental complex; the almighty and just God, and kindly Nature appears to us as grand sublimations of father and mother."

Sigmund Freud[1]
"For many people, their connection to God is an attachment relationship and can be categorized as secure, anxious, dismissive-avoidant, or fearful-avoidant (Kirkpatrick, 2005). Not surprisingly, the psychological effect of religious involvement seems to be determined by the type of God in which a person believes.[2]"


  1. Sigmund Freud, 'Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood', in Complete Psychological Works Vol.11, p.123.
  2. Alyson M. Stone, Thou Shalt Not: Treating Religious Trauma and Spiritual Harm With Combined Therapy, Group, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Winter 2013), pp. 323-337