An overwhelming majority of Americans believe that God exists; however, there is no such consensus as to what form God takes or what attitude He holds towards humanity. These points of view may be narrowed according to the extent to which God judges humanity and the extent to which God interacts with humanity. If one accepts that theory, Americans classify God in one of four ways: Authoritative, Benevolent, Critical or Distant.
Authoritative: An Authoritative God is a male deity with definite opinions on worldly affairs and a willingness to involve himself in those affairs should He deem fit. God’s intervention may take the form of blessings but He sometimes allows or even causes bad things to happen to get our attention. A strict but loving parent, God’s punishments arise from a desire to correct human behavior. Thirty one percent of Americans believe in an Authoritative God.
Benevolent: The Benevolent God is most likely a male deity with a very ‘hands on’ approach to the world. Showing a lesser propensity for judgment than the authoritative God, this God’s interactions tend to be more uniformly positive. The benevolent God comforts the sick, answers prayer and sometimes rescues people from certain disaster, but rarely acts to frighten or punish. Twenty four percent of Americans believe in a Benevolent God.
Critical: The Critical God is more mysterious than either the authoritative or benevolent God. Of uncertain gender, this God chooses to avoid direct intervention or interaction in world affairs. However, the critical God is highly displeased with evil in the world and will harshly assess sinners come judgment day. But the final judgment and punishment (a.k.a. sentencing) will occur in the afterlife. Humanity has been released on its own recognizance until Armageddon. Twenty four percent of Americans believe in a Critical God.
More cosmic force than divine entity, the Distant God is mysterious and unknowable by insignificant beings such as humanity. The Distant God set the universe in motion and then retreated to watch events unfold. Such a force is far removed from human affairs and does not concern itself with the judgment of mankind or direct involvement in world affairs. Sixteen percent of Americans believe in a Distant God.
A small minority of Americans (five percent) classify themselves as atheists; that is, they do not believe in God at all. An atheist is a person who is certain that God does not exist, even as a metaphor for natural law.
According to Genesis 1:27, God created mankind in His own image. If one extends that theory, one could assume that the way man sees God depends upon the way man sees himself and his fellow man.