June – Dr. Jon Mills on Inventing God: The Psychology of Belief

Dr. Jon Mills’ new one-month course, Inventing God: The Psychology of Belief, is offered during June.

About the Instructor:
Jon Mills, Psy.D., Ph.D., ABPP is a philosopher, psychoanalyst, and clinical psychologist. He is Professor of Psychology & Psychoanalysis at the Adler Graduate Professional School in Toronto and is the author of many works in philosophy, psychoanalysis, and psychology including eighteen books. In 2006, 2011, and 2013 he was recognized with a Gradiva Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis in New York City for his scholarship, received a Significant Contribution to Canadian Psychology Award in 2008, a Goethe Award for best book in 2013, and the Otto Weininger Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in 2015 by the Canadian Psychological Association. He runs a mental health corporation in Ontario, Canada.

About the Course:
In his recent book, Inventing God, philosopher and psychoanalyst Jon Mills argues that God does not exist; and more provocatively, that God cannot exist as anything but an idea. In other words, God is only a thought. He argues that the God posit is merely a conjecture as supposition based on a fantasy principle conditioned by unconscious illusion and sustained through social ideology. Although a logical concept born of social convention, the God proposition is actually a semiotic invention and symbolization of ideal value. Rather than an extant ontological subject or agency traditionally attributed to a supernatural, transcendent creator or supreme being responsible for the coming into being of the universe, God is merely seen as a psychological creation signifying ultimate ideality. Here, Mills argues, the notion of God becomes a self-relation to an internalized idealized object, the idealization of imagined value. In the end, the idea or conception of God is the manifestation of humanity’s denial and response to natural deprivation or lack in favor of belief in an ultimate hypostatized object of idealized value. After demonstrating the lack of any empirical evidence and the logical impossibility of God, Mills explains the psychological motivations underlying humanity’s need to invent a supreme being. In a highly nuanced analysis of unconscious processes informing the psychology of belief and institutionalized ideology, he concludes that belief in God is the failure to accept our impending death and mourn natural absence for the delusion of divine presence. As an alternative to theistic faith, he offers a secular spirituality that emphasizes the quality of lived experience, the primacy of feeling and value inquiry, ethical self-consciousness, aesthetic and ecological sensibility, and authentic relationality toward self, other, and world as the pursuit of a beautiful soul in search of the numinous.

Overview of Course:
The structure of this online seminar revolves around two chapters from my book that focuses on the psychology of belief, Chapter 2: Religion as Naturalized Psychology, and Chapter 3: The Need to Invent God. You do not need to buy the book for the course, but if you are interested in reading the whole thing, here is a link with a discount flyer to save 20% off the original price from Routledge publishers. The paperback is the cheapest.


I have also video recorded and published a series of lectures on YouTube as well as a documentary film that cover many topics in the book that can be viewed to compliment the course readings. I look forward to having a fruitful and meaningful discussion with the class.

registration- $69
start/end dates – June 1 / June 30, 2017
DEADLINE for registration – June 10th

Schedule: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for every week, completing four units in four weeks, but within that framework you can participate in every element on your own time. There are no live events to be missed. Course lectures, academic papers, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive the instructor’s replies in discussion forums.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Instructors will not be on live video and you won’t be either – there is nothing happening on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If a pre-recorded video is posted, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructors respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.