This explains a lot. I get really frustrated with people who see God as an angry dad:
Your image of God creates you—or defeats you. There is an absolute connection between how you see God and how you see yourself and the whole universe. The word “God” is first of all a stand-in for everything—reality, truth, and the very shape of your universe. This is why theology is important, and why good theology and spirituality can make so much difference in how you live your daily life in this world. Theology is not just theoretical, but ends up being quite practical—practically up-building or practically defeating.
After years of giving and receiving spiritual direction, it has become obvious to me and to many of my colleagues that most peoples’ operative, de facto image of God is initially a subtle combination of their Mom and their Dad, or any early authority figures. Without an interior journey of prayer or experience, much of religion is largely childhood conditioning, which God surely understands and works with. But this is what atheists and many former believers rightly react against because such religion is so childish and often fear-based, even if their arguments are blowing down a straw man. The goal, of course, is to grow toward an adult religion that includes both reason and faith and inner experience that you can trust. A mature God creates mature people. A big God creates big people.