Note: the following progression is based on statements I have heard made by otherwise sensible people. I feel strongly that human beings are inherently spiritual beings as well as physical beings. We have an innate need for a connection with Deity. The problem comes from the way we begin to “own” our beliefs and denigrate the beliefs of others. It begins simply enough with the thought that “God is good.” Totally harmless. But then, the personal “ownership” of God takes hold and it becomes “my” God is good. On and on the progression goes, and this God that once was just “good” and “love” becomes a demanding, punishing, hateful God who justifies the destruction of those who refuse to worship in a certain way. Follow the sequence, and remember, I have in the past few years heard otherwise decent people say each of the things listed in this progression below that moves from a God of love to a God of hate. This kind of progression can, and does take place in every faith tradition. It is not something that can be attributed to just one faith.
The Evolution of God in the Mind of True Believers
God is good. God is love.
Becomes….My God is good. God loves me.
Becomes….My God is the God of all gods. God loves me.
Becomes….My God is the real God. Your god is false. My God loves me. My God loves you too, but not as much.
Becomes….It would be good if others worshiped my God because my God is real. It would be easier to love everyone if everyone worshiped my God. Most of the problems in the world result from people not worshiping my God.
Becomes….It is important for me to convert others to the worship of my God because they will be lost if they continue to worship false gods. My God loves me and punishes those who don’t agree with me. All the problems in the world come from people who worship false gods.
Becomes….Everyone must come to worship my God because my God is the only real God. God loves me and hates those who disagree. It is my responsibility to make sure that people who worship false gods convert to worship my God. If they don’t, the problems of the world will get worse and worse.
Becomes….It is urgent that those who worship false gods be converted, by any means necessary. If they don’t convert they don’t deserve to live. This world belongs to those who worship the one true God. God loves me. Anyone who disagrees deserves to die.
Becomes….Because there is only one true God (my God) there is only one true religion (my religion). Anyone who deviates from the pure practice of the one true religion must be destroyed and all that they have done throughout history wiped out of the memory of those who keep the one true religion so they may remain pure (like me).
Becomes….God is good (like me and those like me). God is love (for me and those like me).
Ultimately, of course, this is the idolatry of the self, and a total denial of Deity.