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LostOne4Ever

(9,329 posts)
Wed May 14, 2014, 02:50 PM May 2014

What is meant when one uses the word "god(s)"

I posted a thread in another forum asking about the definition of atheism. So I thought it might be interesting to create a thread on the definition of god here in religion.

[div class="excerpt" style="background-color:#dcdcdc; padding-bottom:5px; border:1px solid #bfbfbf; border-bottom:none; border-radius:0.4615em 0.4615em 0em 0em; box-shadow:3px 3px 3px #999999;"] Empedocles [div class="excerpt" style="background-color:#f0f0f0; border:1px solid #bfbfbf; border-top:none; border-radius:0em 0em 0.4615em 0.4615em; box-shadow:3px 3px 3px #999999;"]The nature of God is a circle of which the center is everywhere and the circumference is nowhere.

What do people mean when they use the word "god?" Are we all talking about the same thing? Or is this an abstract concept that most people really don't understand and each person has their own definition.

  • Are they/he/she/it a force of nature given consciousness ala what we find in many polytheistic religions (gods of fire, water, earth, and air)?


  • Or are they/he/she/it an all powerful all knowing all present supernatural person(s) that created the universe by sheer force of will? A personal God, like YHWH as described using a literal interpretation of the bible.


  • Or is your god an all powerful force with which we can't relate like the god of Deism.


  • Or maybe god is the essence flowing through and giving essence to everything. Like the God of Spinoza/Pantheism


  • Or are you unsure if there is a god at all if not out right believe there are no gods. Atheism.


  • Or is the very notion of a god nonsensical to you? A poorly defined concept that needs further thought and development before you possibly take a position? Ignosticism.


  • Or something else entirely?


No poll options. I would like to hear you put your answer in your own words. Again, this is about how you define god not so much what god/religion you believe in, though if you want to share that, feel free.

What do you mean when you say god?

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What is meant when one uses the word "god(s)" (Original Post) LostOne4Ever May 2014 OP
I don't know if any god(s) exist and overall doubt it LostOne4Ever May 2014 #1
I don't see zeus as being totally dissimilar from yahweh. Warren Stupidity May 2014 #2
I see your point LostOne4Ever May 2014 #4
yahweh has some notable flaws too, planetary genocide for example. Warren Stupidity May 2014 #5
I am often stunned that people aren't pissed about Job Goblinmonger May 2014 #7
Well, he got new kids. His original kids all died though. AtheistCrusader May 2014 #8
A point WovenGems May 2014 #19
a rabbi would in that case be a modernist rabbi making shit up ("apologetics") to accommodate Warren Stupidity May 2014 #28
Not all that modern WovenGems May 2014 #29
Modernist refers to modernity which Warren Stupidity May 2014 #31
Oh brother. Arguing with god is an ancient tradition in Judaism. LTX May 2014 #32
I would agree with that LostOne4Ever May 2014 #10
The greek gods had lots of flaws, mirroring humans. Warren Stupidity May 2014 #18
The abrahamic god got at least one woman pregnant. (allegedly) AtheistCrusader May 2014 #6
Allegedly being the key word LostOne4Ever May 2014 #13
Assuming they existed at all. :D AtheistCrusader May 2014 #17
The Tao that is spoken of safeinOhio May 2014 #3
The Tao LostOne4Ever May 2014 #14
I understand that words are only symbols. safeinOhio May 2014 #21
I believe the Divine is a being that created this Universe. hrmjustin May 2014 #9
The dictionary pretty much agrees with you. Jim__ May 2014 #11
Believers disagree on whether the divine has a hand in what happens here. hrmjustin May 2014 #12
correct. while I believe God "directs" the universe as per our catechism arely staircase May 2014 #22
I love the US BCP catechism for its simplicity and warmness. hrmjustin May 2014 #23
honestly every person of whatever faith loves their thing arely staircase May 2014 #24
I shall have to try that. hrmjustin May 2014 #25
Well, I don't know about the "circle of which the center is everywhere..." longship May 2014 #15
I would say I agree with pantheism, except.. Ino May 2014 #16
Creator of Heaven and Earth, all that is seen and unseen arely staircase May 2014 #20
Everything. Erich Bloodaxe BSN May 2014 #26
It's an abstract term. If the meaning can't be exhibited by pointing to sample referents, struggle4progress May 2014 #27
Offler The Crocodile God. mr blur May 2014 #30
I mean a creative entity that at one point was the only thing in existence. Htom Sirveaux May 2014 #33
Humpty Dumpty knows exactly what he means when he uses a word Fumesucker May 2014 #34

LostOne4Ever

(9,329 posts)
1. I don't know if any god(s) exist and overall doubt it
Wed May 14, 2014, 02:54 PM
May 2014

But going beyond that, feel that the concept of god(s) is rather poorly defined.

Zeus is nothing like YHWH, who is nothing like the god of Thomas Paine, which is nothing like the Tao. Hell, does the Tao even count as a god? Seems similar to the god of Pantheism, yet different.


ALSO: I really really wanted to make a captain planet joke when I was talking about gods of fire, water, earth, air, etc...

LostOne4Ever

(9,329 posts)
4. I see your point
Wed May 14, 2014, 03:25 PM
May 2014

I was trying to distinguish the two. For instance that Zeus has flaws like insatiable lust.

 

Warren Stupidity

(48,181 posts)
5. yahweh has some notable flaws too, planetary genocide for example.
Wed May 14, 2014, 03:28 PM
May 2014

Or that shit with Job, or the funny he pulled on Abraham, or the genocide of Egyptian children to show the pharaoh who was the real boss.

 

Goblinmonger

(22,340 posts)
7. I am often stunned that people aren't pissed about Job
Wed May 14, 2014, 03:54 PM
May 2014

I have talked with people I teach with that see Job as a wonderful story about faith. I asked them how they could like a god that would screw with someone's life like that just to show the devil that people like them. They said, "God put it all back at the end." I don't get it--that god's an asshole.

WovenGems

(776 posts)
19. A point
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:51 PM
May 2014

A Rabbi will tell you that the OT is not about God. It is a lesson book. A story that portrays God as an asshole is about maintaining ones faith in the face adversity of the highest matter. And I be agnostic.

 

Warren Stupidity

(48,181 posts)
28. a rabbi would in that case be a modernist rabbi making shit up ("apologetics") to accommodate
Thu May 15, 2014, 08:06 AM
May 2014

modern sensibilities with bronze age nonsense.

 

Warren Stupidity

(48,181 posts)
31. Modernist refers to modernity which
Thu May 15, 2014, 09:13 AM
May 2014

means the post medieval world. It refers to the capitalist economic system that replaced feudalism, includes the enlightenment, the Reformation, urbanism, widespread literacy, the industrial revolution, etc. here: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modernity

I'm using it to distinguish between literalist religious sects and those sects that have abandoned literalism.

LTX

(1,020 posts)
32. Oh brother. Arguing with god is an ancient tradition in Judaism.
Thu May 15, 2014, 11:01 AM
May 2014

It is not the product of "a modernist rabbi making shit up to accommodate modern sensibilities with bronze age nonsense." Argument with god is related to the Covenant, the contract with god pursuant to which Israel and god have obligations, and in the performance of which there exists a method of redress if (and inevitably when) either party breaches its terms. The Midrashim sources for the concept date back to the rabbinic period (70 BCE to 500 CE), and it is in fact "canonization" that is the "modernist" development. Within this tradition, god is two-fold, both a chief justice (if you will) and a partner, and man has an obligation to argue with god the partner and to god the chief justice (a “law-court pattern of prayer”) if a superior moral position to that of god warrants such argument. By this tradition, god can indeed be persuaded, with the accompanying implication that god can indeed be "wrong" (although that notion is a bit more complicated than such a reductionist term suggests).

LostOne4Ever

(9,329 posts)
10. I would agree with that
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:07 PM
May 2014

But as far as I can tell, Christianity does not treat those as flaws. Those actions are usually described as either justly deserved punishments, or metaphors. They treat YWHW as being all good even when you and I would describe his actions as anything but that.

AFAIK, greek polytheism does not hold a similar view of Zeus. They see him as being lustful and the gods as a whole can have moral failings such as pride and jealousy. Again, you and I would attribute these traits to YWHW as well, but I imagine most Christians would strongly disagree.

Regardless, it was a poor analogy on my part.

 

Warren Stupidity

(48,181 posts)
18. The greek gods had lots of flaws, mirroring humans.
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:47 PM
May 2014

The Israelis it seems were too timid to consider their obviously psychotic god as "flawed". Given Yahweh's penchant for smoting, that is understandable.

AtheistCrusader

(33,982 posts)
6. The abrahamic god got at least one woman pregnant. (allegedly)
Wed May 14, 2014, 03:52 PM
May 2014

Possibly some more goofing around. (Extacy of St. Teresa, etc.)

LostOne4Ever

(9,329 posts)
14. The Tao
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:22 PM
May 2014

[div class="excerpt" style="margin-left:1em; border:1px solid #bfbfbf; border-radius:0.4615em; box-shadow:3px 3px 3px #999999;"]The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.

From my reading of the Tao Te Ching (Mitchell and LeGuin Translations), it purports that the Tao is unknowable. It is nothing and in being nothing it is all. Those who think they are following the Tao are not, and those who think they have lost the way are following the Tao.

Trying to define it in anyway is bound to be incorrect.

Would you agree with this statement?

safeinOhio

(32,989 posts)
21. I understand that words are only symbols.
Wed May 14, 2014, 05:49 PM
May 2014

Words can not describe what words can not describe. Therefore I try to have no beliefs, as they can always be shaken by anyone smarter than I am. I do have faith in the unknown because no one knows the unknown. I am a member of the U.U. Church because they say "we can not answer your questions, but we can question your answers", so I fit in.

 

hrmjustin

(71,265 posts)
9. I believe the Divine is a being that created this Universe.
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:01 PM
May 2014

I do not know what created God but I tend to think God has a large amount of knowledge and can exist in different time periods.

I do not believe that God desides who lives or dies, who is successful or a failure, or healthy or sick. I believe that god gives us strength to deal with life.

Jim__

(14,155 posts)
11. The dictionary pretty much agrees with you.
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:08 PM
May 2014

This is what I get when I google definition god:

God
gäd/
noun
noun: God; noun: god; plural noun: gods; plural noun: the gods

1.
(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.
synonyms: the Lord, the Almighty, the Creator, the Maker, the Godhead; More
Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh;
(God) the Father, (God) the Son, the Holy Ghost/Spirit, the Holy Trinity;
the Great Spirit, Gitchi Manitou;
humorousthe Man Upstairs
"a gift from God"
2.
(in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.
"a moon god"
synonyms: deity, goddess, divine being, celestial being, divinity, immortal, avatar More

arely staircase

(12,482 posts)
22. correct. while I believe God "directs" the universe as per our catechism
Wed May 14, 2014, 06:12 PM
May 2014

I don't believe God is going to change the laws of physics for me because they are creating trouble for my family. BTW. I do think out catechism is beautiful. It is my go to part of the BoCP.

arely staircase

(12,482 posts)
24. honestly every person of whatever faith loves their thing
Wed May 14, 2014, 06:56 PM
May 2014

but our catechism, IMHO, is beautiful, brilliant, and as you say simple and warm. I try to read a little Scripture every day. but when I really want to focus my mind and meditate on the mysteries of the universe and my place therein, our catechism does it for me.

longship

(40,416 posts)
15. Well, I don't know about the "circle of which the center is everywhere..."
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:28 PM
May 2014

I know... Let's define god by a bunch of ill defined (or undefined) and often outright conflicting concepts -- omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscient, all loving, etc. Or, let's use some well defined concepts, like circle and circumference, in illogical ways in order to obfuscate the definition and therefore make it utterly meaningless. These types of definitions do not do the theist case much good. (I am being charitable here.)

The extent to which even theists cannot define what they mean by gods is the extent that I cannot take any claims of gods' existence seriously. First, those who claim the existence of gods have to elucidate unambiguously what they mean by gods. Until then, I don't have to take what they say very seriously. And I do not.

And don't get me started about "God works in mysterious ways." If a theist is going to bail out at such a transcendent, unknowable god why don't they just drop the other shoe and call themselves agnostics? Certainly such gods aren't worth praying to. (But that is altogether a different argument.) At least the "mysterious ways" argument does not stoop to the rather obviously deliberate circle/circumference obfuscation.

On edit: or Tao language mash-ups, again with no inherent meaning, which is what Tao is apparently all about. So be it. Then one is not talking about what most people think about as gods. My transcendent gods argument stands with respect to Tao as well.

Sorry, my friend.


Ino

(3,366 posts)
16. I would say I agree with pantheism, except..
Wed May 14, 2014, 04:29 PM
May 2014

I don't agree with how you've defined it as "god is the essence flowing through and giving essence to everything." To me, god IS everything... not an essence flowing through it... not something outside giving spirit to things, but the things themselves. Everything that exists (or has existed) is god. All matter, all thought, all emotion, all spirit, all potential, is made up of energy, and that is god.

But I identify publicly as an atheist as I do NOT believe in the traditional god(s) any more than I believe in Santa Claus, and do not believe in "A God" out there outside of myself (or outside of yourself, or that cat in the other room).

arely staircase

(12,482 posts)
20. Creator of Heaven and Earth, all that is seen and unseen
Wed May 14, 2014, 05:45 PM
May 2014

God the Father

Q. What do we learn about God as creator from the
revelation to Israel?
A. We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and
unseen.

Q. What does this mean?
A. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of
a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it.

Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe?
A. It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that
we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance
with God's purposes.

Q. What does this mean about human life?
A. It means that all people are worthy of respect and
honor, because all are created in the image of God, and
all can respond to the love of God.

Q. How was this revelation handed down to us?
A. This revelation was handed down to us through a community
created by a covenant with God.

God the Son


Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only
Son of God?
A We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the
Father, and shows us the nature of God.

Q. What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
A. God is love.

Q. What do we mean when we say that Jesus was
conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became
incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
A. We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received
our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.



Catechism 849

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Q. Why did he take our human nature?
A. The divine Son became human, so that in him human
beings might be adopted as children of God, and be
made heirs of God's kingdom.

Q. What is the great importance of Jesus' suffering and
death?
A. By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus
made the offering which we could not make; in him we
are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.

Q. What is the significance of Jesus' resurrection?
A. By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened
for us the way of eternal life.

Q. What do we mean when we say that he descended to the
dead?
A. We mean that he went to the departed and offered them
also the benefits of redemption.

Q. What do we mean when we say that he ascended into
heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
A. We mean that Jesus took our human nature into
heaven where he now reigns with the Father and
intercedes for us.

Q. How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and
death?
A. We share in his victory when we are baptized into the
New Covenant and become living members of Christ.



The Holy Spirit

Q. What is the Holy Spirit?
A. The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at
work in the world and in the Church even now.

Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the
giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.

Q. How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
A. The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into
all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of
Christ.

Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in
our lives?
A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we
confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love
and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our
neighbors, and with all creation.





852 Catechism

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy
Spirit?
A. We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit
when they are in accord with the Scriptures.



http://www.bcponline.org/

Erich Bloodaxe BSN

(14,733 posts)
26. Everything.
Wed May 14, 2014, 07:42 PM
May 2014

Me. You. That tree, that dog, the air, the planet, the universe. Every falling sparrow, every cup of coffee. Every quark, every lepton, every photon.

struggle4progress

(118,566 posts)
27. It's an abstract term. If the meaning can't be exhibited by pointing to sample referents,
Thu May 15, 2014, 01:11 AM
May 2014

then the meaning can only be determined by usage -- that is, by noting the rules that govern the sentences involving the term, for example

god - as in powerful or exceptional person: Hollywood sex goddess

-or-

god - as in a cultic worship figure of a culture: the gods of Canaan

-or-

god - as in something adored single-mindedly: his god is money

and so on


Htom Sirveaux

(1,242 posts)
33. I mean a creative entity that at one point was the only thing in existence.
Thu May 15, 2014, 11:08 PM
May 2014

And everything else that is, was, or ever shall be derives from that one original entity's choice to create using itself as the material.

Fumesucker

(45,851 posts)
34. Humpty Dumpty knows exactly what he means when he uses a word
Fri May 16, 2014, 12:48 PM
May 2014

Not an iota less or scintilla more than the precise meaning he means.

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