General Question

JLeslie's avatar

How do you define God?

Asked by JLeslie (54599points) July 2nd, 2009

I think God means different things to different people. This question is for theists and atheists.

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67 Answers

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

A 300 foot tall black woman with six breasts named Evelyn.

Qingu's avatar

For the word to have any functional meaning, I think it needs to refer to some kind of personal deity—i.e. a being that actually interacts with humans and has directly influenced human history.

A lot of people use the term God to mean something more like the Universe itself, or maybe like the Force from Star Wars. That just seems like playing with semantics to me. Under this definition, I wouldn’t be an atheist, since I believe in the Universe.

sandystrachan's avatar

A God is someone you look up to like an idol .

marinelife's avatar

I have been touched by his noodly appendage.

tinyfaery's avatar

How can something that doesn’t exist have a definition?

sandystrachan's avatar

@tinyfaery The all mighty “GOD” doesn’t exist that is correct . But people class people as gods , it may be Bob the builder , or Jimmy Page or indeed this man is a god

Jayne's avatar

Like @Qingu, I think that God would have to be limited in extent, or else there is really no reason to call Him ‘God’. What confuses me further, however, is that if he has a personality, if his behavior is not random and it follows set rules, like people appear to do and like any religious doctrine says he does, then he is ultimately deterministic, and thus there is still no reason to call him a god rather than an obscure, undiscovered physical force or entity. So I’m still not sure how you could define God in a way that fits the religious conception of him as an entity with plans, goals, morals, etc., while still making him special and putting him outside the bounds of logic and scientific testability, where they need him to be.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Capitalized, God refers to a specific omnipotent and omniscient supernatural being worshipped by Christians and Jews.

Qingu's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic, and Muslims. Some Hindus also worship a similar class of being, Brahman.

Also, many polytheist religions evolved to have a “high god” who was basically omnipotent and omniscient. There’s a line in the sand between a polytheist high god and his associated pantheon, and a Jewish-style God with his associated angels and heavenly beings.

pezz's avatar

Simple it’s ME!

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@Qingu Muslims worship Allah not God.
Brahma is not god in the Hindu tradition. Hindus have millions of gods. Brahma is more of a divine force than a god.

TabernakAttack's avatar

Defined as a way to explain things to people thousands of years ago when we didn’t have the technology or knowledge to understand how things work. “God” is also a tactic used to get people to do your bidding. I.E. suicide bombings = 72 virgins.

Qingu's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic, by that logic, Jews and Christians worship Yahweh, not God. Almost all gods, capital-G or otherwise, have proper names. Just as the Bible translates Elohim to God and Yahweh to The Lord, many translations of the Quran translate Allah to God.

Also, I didn’t say Brahma, I said Brahman. Brahma is the “creator-god,” but nobody actually worships him and creation was understood more as something akin to an artisan making stuff than the deeply meaningful act of creation in Western religions. But Brahman is something else, thought to be the divine force or essence that underlies all the other gods and reality itself. Though, to be fair, Brahman just sounds a lot like a pantheist God, which woudln’t really be a “God” under my definition of the word.

whitenoise's avatar

At my home, when my children ask, I try to explain as follows:

“God is a conception of people that believe in Him. These people believe that an omniscient and omnipotent being created the world and the universe and in the end us as well. I also explain that these people have religions in which they describe their interpretation of God and are being told to live to honor that God. The way they come to their definition is through heritage, education by their parents and revelation. (Then I need to explain the concept of revelation to them in a sidebar, but I have all the time in the world.)

God therefore is real: it is a real concept that has much value to the people that believe in these religions. I also tell them, however, that there is no reason to think that God truly exists in any form beyond that concept and that they should realize that there are many different religions that claim different truths. I also tell them that true believers do not doubt their points of view and will therefor tell them to have exclusive access to the truth. I expressly warn them to be wary of these people’s messages and for the risk the concept of religion brings to rational thought ”

In the beginning there was chaos, then came man and he created God.

tinyfaery's avatar

The term God still means nothing. I would certainly never call a human a god.

whitenoise's avatar

@tinyfaery “How can something that doesn’t exist have a definition?”

That isn’t too hard, right? I bet you can give me the definition of a unicorn, or a dragon.

marinelife's avatar

@tinyfaery The term God has meaning even if one is an atheist. There can be a term for a Supreme Being or a Creator even if one personally does not believe that such a being exists.

The term still. has meaning.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Goo goo g’joob, y’all.

mzgator's avatar

To me personally, God is love. I know it’s a pretty simplistic definition, but that sums it up for me.

fireside's avatar

This is a discussion I’ve had before:

Hobbes
@Fireside – what do you conceive of when thinking of God? To have any sort of discussion, we have to set up some kind of definition of terms. Magnus’ argument, I believe was concerning the traditional Christian conception of God: an all-powerful, all-knowing being that exists somewhere outside the physical universe, whose actions and desires the Bible claims to describe. I’d be perfectly willing to talk about something else, but you can’t just cop out of an argument by redefining the words involved.

fireside
@Hobbes – I’m okay with this Merriam Webster definition:
the supreme or ultimate reality

Wiki also has some good insights:
Conceptions of God vary widely. Theologians and philosophers have studied countless conceptions of God since the dawn of civilization.

Basically, my concept of God has nothing to do with the traditional concept of Heaven and Hell. I think those are allusions to spiritual health, not literal places.

Hobbes
Ok, fair enough. What do you think Webster means by “supreme reality” – what reality is more supreme than the one we perceive? What, may I ask, is your conception of God? You say you don’t believe in a literal Heaven and Hell – do you believe in a conscious, intelligent, all-powerful being?

fireside
I believe that God is unknowable in essence and beyond human conception.

Aside from that, I like to think of God as a vast ocean.
There are rivers flowing down from the various mountaintops of religion all feeding into the same body of water. The deeper you wade into the water, the more God’s knowledge washes over you, as long as you don’t lose your footing and get dragged under.

There are plenty of smaller pools and eddys that develop from the rivers rushing towards the ocean of God and you will find many people setting up camp by those pools and declaring themselves home. You will also find many people wandering through the jungle, or woods, looking for the water. There are also many people on the shores of the ocean who are tentative about stepping into the water and others who wade right in.

As far as what I think Webster’s dictionary means by “supreme reality” I liken that to this video about the tenth dimension.

I do believe that God is an all powerful being, but don’t necessarily know what this means because I am limited by human conceptions of “power” and “being”. I also don’t think of God as intrusive, I believe that the prophets get glimpses of God’s truth and then relate those to the rest of humanity.

Hobbes
So you view God as the entirety of the universe outside of time? Or as a state of mind, an “Enlightenment” which is partially described by every religion? I like the “body of water” metaphor – while I may not buy its implications, it’s a very good way of describing the ways religions are interconnected and all (to some extent) seem to agree on most of the important stuff. However, neither of these definitions seems to match up with the idea of God as an intelligent being that acts on the world, has desires, and can be communicated with. How do you match these two ideas up? Am I misinterpreting your ideas? Or do you not view God as intelligent, etc?

fireside
I view God as the summation of all intelligence, and the ocean metaphor is that body of knowledge/understanding.

The prophets are like the captains of a ship, or possibly the dudes in the crow’s nests, that are able to see the path ahead and how to navigate through the upcoming difficulties. At least, that is how I see it right now.

I also believe that God is one with what many describe as the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Truth, which is a layer of connectivity between all things. Thoughts, feelings and intentions are sent out along that connective energy and effect those around us. Similar to the flow of chi through one’s body or through a room/garden/etc.

Do I view God as Zeus playing chess with the Earth or causing earthquakes, floods, etc. as though he was playing a macro version of Sim City? No. But I do think that the energy we humans send out along that connective layer can cause blockages and disturbances that can effect things on a much larger scale than I know how to describe. They can also release the same conditions depending on the type of energy we are sending.

Do I think God has desires? No. God is immovable in perfection and thus is free from desires. Our souls desire to be nearer to God and are on a journey towards that ocean and that immovable perfection, that supreme reality.

Enlightenment is living through our souls, rather than our brains or bodies. It is a connection with that spiritual world or that connective layer that supersedes the material plane of existence.

Sorry, I can’t provide a simple answer for this question

El_Cadejo's avatar

imaginary.

JLeslie's avatar

@fireside different than the question asked “before” I was just curious to see how an individual defines god. Not to argue if they are right, or if it makes logical sense, of if it can be proven. My father had a conversation with a friend who believes in God, my father is an atheist, and the definition the friend gave was something like, “God is order in the universe, a belief that with every action there is a reaction.” My dad basically agreed with this statement, so by that definition he is a theist not an atheist. This was interesting to me because I think atheists reject the idea of a God who judges, and would use a virgin girl to birth a child who never ever even had sex (seems like abuse to me), who can affect the wind and the rain, and if you are sick or healthy.

I think sometimes it is semantics, and I was curious about that.

fireside's avatar

@JLeslie – In my view, God is a pretty complex subject to boil down to a sentence. But I think I got the gist of my conception in there.

JLeslie's avatar

@fireside yes, I did not mean to imply you hadn’t, just was further explaining why I asked the question…sorry if I babbled. Thank you for you “answer.”

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie, that’s why I think this question is important. Lots of people—myself included—have no problem believing in natural, non-intentional forces that create emergent phenomenon. I don’t think of such forces as “Gods.” But some people use the word “God” to describe these forces.

This seems to have the effect—intended or not—of legitimizing the belief in the traditional virgin-impregnating personal gods by proxy. Lots of religious people redefine their own gods to mean something more like the natural-force “god,” even though such an entity has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of their religions.

tinyfaery's avatar

It doesn’t have meaning to me, and therefore has no meaning, like money and fame. If these things mean nothing to me, even if other people put meaning to them, it doesn’t mean that I agree.

dalepetrie's avatar

God – The entity of questionable existence in which some people nonetheless still need to believe in order to satisfactorily answer the questions of where we came from, why we are here/what is our purpose, and what happens to us when we die.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I want to change my answer. Google

marinelife's avatar

@uber I refuse to worship an entity with a profit motive.

Thammuz's avatar

God: An unfalsifiable claim considered by many to be more acceptable and reasonable than any other only because it was invented a long time ago as a placeholder for a then lacking explaination.

How it is possible that people still believe such a concept is beyond me. Considering it possible is one thing, accepting it as true from the start, though…

seVen's avatar

Jesus Christ incarnate.

sak's avatar

god is just a title that means powerfull “persone” ( or something similar ). There are a lot of gods and all of them have names.

Thammuz's avatar

@seVen Wouldn’t it be the opposite?

Qingu's avatar

@Thammuz, you get into recursion problems, since according to the Athanasian Creed, Jesus is fully God. Jesus is God incarnate. But God is Jesus and Jesus is God. Therefore, Jesus is Jesus incarnate. Therefore, God is Jesus incarnate.

Blondesjon's avatar

I define “God” as an entity/being/energy that doesn’t care if you believe in it/him/her.

It/him/her simply believes in you.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Marina Your God can be eaten with spaghetti sauce and garlic bread. I’m not impressed.

@tinyfaery In reference to your first post: Indeed. Perhaps it does exist?
In reference to your second: Why, as rational human beings, are we discussing the term “God” if it means absolutely nothing?

@Jayne I’m not following your argument. Why would an entity with limitless power not be capable of making plans.?

@TabernakAttack I think your statement should be re-worded to: ”Belief is a tactic used to get people to do your bidding”. If God were merely a way to explain things to people.. than why, now, after learning all this new technology is He still just as prevalent?

@whitenoise It started off good.. where you were explaining things without a bias.. simply as fact.. but then you threw in your personal bias toward the end.. leading your children not to a position of free choice.. but to your position… which is fine. They are your kids. You raise them as you see fit. My only point is that parents who “believe” are doing the exact same thing… even down to the part where they teach their children to be wary of people like you.

@aprilsimnel Huh?!

@mzgator Well said. God’s own definition of himself should certainly suffice.

@uberbatman I’d prefer “beyond your imagination”.

@Thammuz “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

@JLeslie I define God as love just as @mzgator does. Now, defining love may not be a simple task either.. but it’s a start. :) Love comes with pain, joy, sacrifice, tears, smiles, etc etc etc etc.. Musicians have been singing about love since the beginning of time.. I’d say that definitely God is that ellusive, but ever-present entity known as “love”. Some find love. Others don’t. Some believe in love at first sight. Some don’t. But those people who find true love are the happiest of them all. Those people who find the true God (and realize that He, indeed, exists) are the happiest of them all. They have a “peace that passeth understanding”.

Jayne's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater; that’s not what I said; I said that if he is capable of making plans, if he has a personality, then there is no reason to call him God or to present him as something special or separate from the rest of the universe. This applies whether or not he is limited.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Jayne I’m still not following. How does personality alone make you necessarily humanistic and unworthy of being called God? I’m really just trying to understand your point.

mzgator's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater: that was so eloquently said. I could not agree with you more! Thank you!

Jayne's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater; The standard religious conception of God is as an entity with a personality, and this personality is said to be perfect; unlike the personalities of people, which are the expression of our biology and subject to moods, apparent randomness, etc, God’s personality is always perfectly consistent, because it is ideal. Therefore, regardless of the mechanism by which this personality might be created, that personality can be considered as a law of nature, possibly reducible, possibly not. Now, you don’t call the law of gravity “God”, do you? So why would you call this other law “God”?

It is possible for Him to have a personality that is not ideal, of course, but then it is either random, which is not very satisfying, and I doubt that many believers would accept that, or it is like our personalities and is the complex result of lower level laws, the laws of physics, which would be the most likely scenario but would also mean that He is no different from a car, just much more complex.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater i suppose, but then again, im a realist and subscribe to logic.

tinyfaery's avatar

My point exactly.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Jayne Ok, I understand your point now.. not that I agree with your thought process.. but I see what you’re driving at.. finally. xD

@mzgator My pleasure Sir/Ma’am. =)

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Blondesjon that pretty much describes Evelyn. She doesn’t care if you believe in her or not, she’s having too much fun watching us hairless monkeys and the other life forms in the universe behaving oddly.

cyn's avatar

the creator of ALL things…unexplainable

whitenoise's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater
You seem to have (chosen to?) misread what I wrote. You imply that I tell my children to be wary of people. I do not. As I wrote, I only tell them to be wary of their messages when they claim the truth.

You have to realize the religious playing field is not level. Religious people do not hold back on telling my children (nor anyone else’s) their version of the truth. Not only do they not hold back, they even try to actively persuade them. They will tell them they are 100% sure and even have proof of their views.

My children are confronted with presidents thanking God and invading countries in His name. Last week we were at a church session in which people were ‘healed’. To expose them to these environments (and these cannot be easily avoided, nor would I like them to try) will expose them to people that tell my children they know the truth. I merely tell them that I see no reason to believe any of these stories, so I warn them to remain critical in their thought.

I teach my children to be wary of anyone claiming to be in sole ownership of the truth. I want them to be thinking for themselves. They should question unfounded statements, whether they come from religious people, politicians, or from myself.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@whitenoise
I expressly warn them to be wary of these people’s messages and for the risk the concept of religion brings to rational thought”
Ok, the message.. not the person….............. That’s beside the point. I was only pointing out the similarities of parents believing and non-believing. I didn’t misread what you wrote, I just didn’t respond with the exact same wording. My bad.

Thammuz's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater: (on that “faith is” passage) Not really, having faith in something doesn’t make it true. As a matter of fact the fact you have to have faith, rather than actually being able to prove it and demonstrate it is most likely a symptom of the thing being baloney.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Thammuz You’re right. Having faith alone isn’t enough to make something true. Nor is the lack of faith in something enough to make it untrue. Faith is but one piece of a much grander puzzle which I’ve spent my life piecing together. The difference is that without faith you are putting the puzzle together upside down with no visible portion of the image to be. With faith you already know what the puzzle will look like.. you just have to put it together.

That said.. having faith in the bigger picture doesn’t change how the pieces go together. It doesn’t change the truths or untruths of life. It just so happens that the pieces have come together as I’ve expected them to. Why would I now choose a new way to put things together when it’s all working toward my vision of things? That would be counter-intuitive.

Now, suppose that you have faith too. Your faith is in mankind. It is in our ability to rationalize and reason things using scientific evidence alone. We will measure each piece of the puzzle, develop an algorithm for how the pieces will go together, and only place pieces into the puzzle once they have satisfied our equation. That’s all fine and good unless the equation itself is flawed. You may find that many of the pieces go together.. you have a large portion of the puzzle complete.. but you will always find yourself with pieces that don’t fit anywhere… gaps in the bigger picture.

Ok, enough about puzzles. XD

Let’s say a young child wants to be a rock star. Were he to not have faith that his end goal will be achieved at some point is that beneficial or detrimental? I’d say it’s very detrimental. Without a clear vision he or she is likely to get hung up on the obstacles between himself/herself and the end goal.

To make a blanket statement such as: “the fact you have to have faith, rather than actually being able to prove it and demonstrate it is most likely a symptom of the thing being baloney” is dangerous because that nullifies faith, it nullifies belief.. and restricts you to only those things immediately tangible. I pray that one day you will see that there is much more to life than those things that are immediately tangible.

Jayne's avatar

Having faith doesn’t change the truths of life, but it does change how you put the pieces of the puzzle. It’s called confirmation bias. And the thing about faith is there is no way to prove it wrong; you can cling to it long after all the tangible evidence shows it to be false, because you can always claim that tangible evidence isn’t sufficient. This, despite the fact that faith is constantly shown to be wrong, and logically must be wrong because many people have diametrically opposed and mutually contradictory articles of faith, while scientific analysis of tangible evidence has given us scientific theories that have in turn yielded the marvelous technology that allows you to type this answer. If the early scientist philosophers had just ‘had faith’ in the mysteries of the universe and not in their ability to apply reason and order to them, they would never have even discovered electricity, let alone the theory of quantum mechanics. And while faith in man’s reason is just that, faith, at least it has a built in mechanism by which it can be proved wrong. Now, the conclusions you reach by faith may very well be correct; but don’t try to say that faith is a more valid, a more valuable, or a more complete and sound philosophy than reason.

Jack79's avatar

God is the sum of all good in the universe

TabernakAttack's avatar

@Jack79

Oh yeah. Definitely. for sure.
I can post links all day, this crap isn’t even hard to find. But let me guess, God had nothing to do with all the bad stuff that happens in the world, right? He’s only there to thank but never to blame, is that it?

Qingu's avatar

It would help if @Jack79 made clear which god he was talking about.

I certainly agree that it seems odd to say that Yahweh—the only deity I know of to actually command his followers to commit genocide—is the sum of all goodness in the world.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Jayne By no means was I suggesting that we abandon science in favor of faith. It was only an illustration.

As far as this bit: “And the thing about faith is there is no way to prove it wrong; you can cling to it long after all the tangible evidence shows it to be false, because you can always claim that tangible evidence isn’t sufficient. This, despite the fact that faith is constantly shown to be wrong, and logically must be wrong I’m not even sure what to say. You contradicted yourself from one sentence to the next.

Jack79's avatar

you ask a question, you get an answer

@tabernakattack, Quingu the gods you are referring to are obviously not the God I mean. You can call him Zeus, Allah or Yahveh if you like, but I am referring to a kind spirit that does not throw plagues or lightning bolts in his wrath. Lightning is a natural phenomenon which happens in the material world. God is immaterial. A spirit. And like Schroedinger’s cat, it is no longer a god once you start describing it.

Jayne's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater; That was a bit awkwardly phrased, yes. I should have said that there is no way to prove to one of the faithful that any given article of faith is wrong, because they do not take logic or empirical evidence as proof but simply assume that they are correct, while from an outside perspective it is clear that at least some of these articles must be wrong, because they contradict one another.

And science and faith are not compatible. Faith means to assume something is true, and to maintain that assumption despite the tangible evidence. Science is the exact opposite, meaning to assume as little as possible and to use the tangible evidence alone to build up knowledge, always being aware of the initial assumptions and always being willing to change them in the face of new evidence. You can have belief and science together, because belief need be nothing more than endorsement of a theory. Many reputable scientists believe in God. But you cannot have faith and science. Returning to your earlier comment, you cannot have faith in the bigger picture and then fill in the details with science, because the scientific method will does not work if it is premised on an untestable assumption. So if you did not say that faith should supplant science, then you should have, or you should let go of faith entirely, or else you have a broken and internally inconsistent philosophy. And of course, faith without science is not a very promising path at all, so I would suggest the latter route. Feel free to believe in God; just don’t ever take it on faith.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Jayne If you would, could you please tell me which articles of faith you’ve found to be wrong from your outside perspective?

I’m not sure where to reply with your post because your understanding of faith is completely different than mine. It has always been difficult to explain faith to a faithless person.

Just know that my faith has roots. It isn’t as if I’ve stumbled across a book and then decided to instantaneously believe its every word without investigation. If that were the case I would be an avid believer in the flying spaghetti monster as well. I would believe in Santa Claus, Peter Pan and the Dharma Initiative. I would also be completely irrational in these cases.

My faith is constantly affirmed by the experiences in my life. It is affirmed by the actions of those around me, and by mine as well. It is empirically affirmed. I’ve had my doubts and I have acted on those doubts on many occasions only to have my faith affirmed yet again.

To try and say faith and science are compatible is like comparing apples with oranges. Science is perfectly capable of discovering, logging, equating, describing, and archiving things of the natural world. In this way it is limited. Faith extends far beyond the natural world to something that is much greater.

I think it’s dangerous to limit yourself by claiming that nothing IS unless it scientifically IS. To me that’s living in a box.

Jayne's avatar

Perhaps we are simply arguing semantics here. I am using “belief” to refer to any idea that is not proven; everyone, of course, has these. In my usage, and I believe the proper usage, “faith” is a stronger term, referring to a belief which the faithful would continue to hold even after it has been disproved by evidence, because of their trust in the authority or the instinct that delivered it to them. The dictionary definiton of faith is

1. Confidence or trust in a person or thing.
2. A belief not based in proof.

The difference is entirely in the falsifiability of your beliefs; I simply see no reason to ever decide that a belief should not be subject to review and disproof. If it is accurate, it will stand on its own without needing the buffer of unshakable faith. From your comment, it would seem that you are willing to question your religious tenets, in which case, under my usage, they are not articles of faith, but of belief. If that is the case, we have no argument, and the disagreement was entirely semantic. I do disagree with the beliefs you hold, and I suspect that you (like everyone else, of course) are subject to confirmation bias (which is, I will point out, greatly reduced by scientific philosophy, which accepts only disproof and never proof). However, we would seem to agree on the proper way to seek knowledge. Incidentally, I did not say that no belief is valid without scientific proof; I said that nobody should claim to know that something is true without such proof. That is, unless you do hold articles of faith that you believe are not falsifiable.

Qingu's avatar

@Jack79, is there anything about your belief in “God” that makes you behave any differently than an atheist would?

I take it you don’t go to church or worship this “God” in any way. You don’t alter your behavior in any way based on any of “God’s” purported laws. Do you pray to your God? (With the expectation that he hears you)?

Now, I’m not a dualist; I don’t believe that there’s this other plane of reality that’s “spiritual” vs. “material.” But that’s a philosophical debate, not a religious one (one that I believe is settled, and would be glad to argue with you over). Nevertheless, I don’t see what your belief in some kind of non-active, completely separate “force” that has nothing to do with humanity or affects our world in any material way has to do with religion or gods. It’s just semantics.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Jayne Being human, no one has perfect faith. My beliefs have led me to my faith perhaps. For me it is a simple engineering or mathematical problem. If one equation I’ve found to be accurate is proven many times over (within myself), other such equations that are in almost every way similar will also be accurate. I have faith that they will be accurate because I believe they will be accurate. Bah. Semantics.

It is, as you said, a matter of semantics and how we’re tangling our shoelaces around rudimentary English vocabulary… something which, imho, isn’t sufficient to describe such a grand notion as faith or belief… at least not by a non-English major such as myself. xD

Perhaps Plotinus said it best when he said: “You can only apprehend the Infinite by a faculty that is superior to reason.”

Jack79's avatar

@Qingu I’ve been answering the original question all along, whereas mot people seem to be looking at it from a Christian/non-christian perspective. Do I try to be good? Yes, but not out of fear of being smitten or burnt in eternal flames (I do believe in Heaven and Hell, but not in the Christian caricature version of them). Can an Atheist be a good person? Sure, I’ve said so in a different post. But the original question was how do I define God/god. And that was my definition.

You don’t have to be Christian to be religious and you don’t have to be religious to be good. All religions are but a measly effort by puny little mortal brains to understand something unimaginably larger than ourselves.

Qingu's avatar

@Jack79, I guess my problem with your definition of God is that it is functionally indistinguishable from my definition of the Universe. Your God affects your behavior in the same way that the existence of the Universe affects my behavior: it doesn’t, at all. So what makes it a God?

Also, I agree that religions are attempts to understand something unimaginably larger than ourselves. So is almost all of human philosophy, including natural philosophy (i.e. science). Some attempts hold up a lot better than others. :)

Jack79's avatar

yeah, but your universe includes bad things, such as disease, and neutral things, such as planets and black holes. I was referring to the spiritual side of it, the essense of good: the power behind helping someone, the miracle of love, the positive energy in a smile. The sum of all these things is God, and he can affect the universe in a snowball fashion. Being miserable, petty, rude…that’s the Devil. Yeah ok, there’s the Yin and Yan theory there, but that’s a bit too simplistic too. I’m thinking of something more powerful and inexplicable than that. And there is something there, too complicated to put into words. Certainly not an old guy with a beard on the top of Olympus, or even in a cloud. Not a Creator in the simplistic notion of someone making men out of clay. But a creative force that could have caused the Big Bang (I think it is a ridiculous theory that will be abandoned btw) or whichever other origin our scientists tell us our universe had.

Thammuz's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater: hoping and having faith are different things, and you know it damn well. As for the whole puzzle analogy, seeing how beleivers generally jump tthrough all sorts of hoops to rationalize things like those @TabernakAttack posted i’d say we are assembling the puzzle one piece at a time, fitting them the way they fit best, you people on the other hand are cutting and pasting together the pieces you want to to make the final picture fit your preconcieved scheme. The puzzle of reality has a picture, too bad nobody actually knows it, and thinking you do doesn’t give you any actual advantage, because you only think you do, there’s no guarantee you’re right.

Hoping something doesn’t mean you have faith in it, if i had faith i’d one day become a rockstar i wouldn’t particularly work towards it, i would already be convinced it was going to be one regardless, because i would be accepting “i will become a rockstar” as true by default. While hoping it, or desiring it, actually make you work towards it. You know who people who “have faith” end up as in this kind of things? Kyle Gass in “The pick of destiny”. Convinced he was going to be a rockstar to the point that he didn’t actually do anything to become one, having cheques sent to him by his mother to pay the rent with because “success is just around the corner i will pay you back as soon as i pubish my first album”. Too bad that that ain’t gonna happen unless you DO SOMETHING.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Thammuz “You people” ... XD

Thammuz's avatar

@NaturalMineralWater Yeah, i know i’m generalizing, but please do pay attention to the point i’m making rahter than the way i convey it.

I’m so used to debating this stuff that i do fall in some errors of generalization, and probably i’m wrong in putting you in the same cathegory, nevertheless i hope you can see the point of what i said.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@Thammuz I’m sorry but this: “beleivers generally jump tthrough all sorts of hoops to rationalize things like those” – is such a gross generalization that the point is lost on me.

You need not link me to the dictionary.. xD .. I know what faith is..As I said in another thread.. it has always been difficult to explain faith to a faithless person. That said.. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a faithless person. Scientists have faith in the work of other scientists for example.

It’s very dangerous to claim something as truth simply because of the label that defined it.. whether that be God or Science.

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