Representing God

  • Marjaana Lindeman University of Helsinki
  • Ilkka Pyysiäinen University of Helsinki
  • Pertti Saariluoma University of Jyväskylä


The study explores representations of God. Specifically, we focus on how attributes assigned to God are interrelated, what attributes people accept as being or not being descriptive of God, and how the representation is related to religiousness and religious participation. Three hundred fifty-seven participants rated 78 attributes. A factor analysis yielded five attribute sets, i.e., omnipotence, nature, incorporeality, curious metaphors and other gods. The results show, for example, that in the whole sample, God is most often associated with incorporeality. Among highly religious people, representing God by nature, other gods or curious metaphors is inversely related to active religious participation, whereas associating God with omnipotency is linearly related to religious participation. The results indicate, among other things, that it may be possible to predict from a set of attributes the nature of an individual’s religiousness and religious participation and what other attributes he/she ascribes to God.

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