What is god?

Argue for and against religions and philosophies which are not Christian

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laxdaela
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What is god?

Post #1

Post by laxdaela »

What is god?


This is a question too broad to be addressed directly. If you're speaking of God as found in the Christian, Muslim or various other monotheistic faiths then you are generally speaking of the singular omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent being responsible for the creation and continued existence of the universe and its inhabitants. For us to understand this question we must seek to understand these concepts and how they relate. The first two are seemingly straightforward and can be defined rather briefly. Omniscience, the knowledge of all things. Omnipotence, the ability to do all things. Omnipresence, however, is often under sold. To be everywhere is not merely one's ability to be at any and all points in the physical universe for our universe consists of not three but four perceivable dimensions. An omnipresent being is everywhere and everywhen. With these three definitions in mind we can only begin to grasp what may be possible. With these separate definitions some would assume that we have answered our original question, however, there is further data to add to the equation. We have our history, our world and ourselves. We cannot define God without men. Color may be known to exist but to a world of blind men would it have meaning much less the beauty inherent in a sunset? For a meaningful definition of God to be built it must convey not merely the sum of the parts but also intent, purpose, motivation. The waitress who served your dinner at your last outing may have been attentive or sloppy, cheerful or melancholy but almost certainly just your waitress. It is likely that this is all you will ever know of her. She could have been a mother working that particular shift to earn extra money for a child she dearly loves or a sadistic woman with no family or loved ones other than herself and, by the way, spat in your coffee or mashed potatoes before leaving the kitchen. Intent, purpose and motivation are as much defining characteristics as ability. How can we know God's motives? We know what goes on here, in our lives and around us. There are many beautiful things in this world. Things that are beautiful to us anyway. A flower is one of nature's wonders... but only to us. A flower is also dinner, a source of nectar or fodder for a nest. There are many horrible things, acts so terrible that they defy comprehension. And yet these are as much a part of creation as those flowers or sunsets. I recently saw a news story retelling the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl by five of her older sister's friends. Now, there are among us those who say ' God has a plan for everyone.' or 'God works in mysterious ways.' but these are cop-outs. For an honest depiction we must include everything, even acts as sickening as this, because while God's motives may be unfathomable we do know that, since he is omnipotent and omniscient, everything happens as God intended. God knows everything, not just things that are happening now but those that will happen and this was true before he chose to create and being all powerful it is not possible but to create things so that they happen as he intends them to. There can be no benevolent or righteous motive in such an act and the disparity between such villainous acts as this, the wonders of nature and the selflessness shown by many people every day is too great to reconcile. At this point many of you are citing the bible's assertions of man's free will. Can free will have meaning when God knew when he brought about existence and every choice we would make and created the situations in which we would make them? We must each set about to satisfy ourselves of God's intent and motivation based on what we see of the world around us. Since it is true that no two people perceive the world the same way, can it be true that no two people perceive the same God?

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McCulloch
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Re: What is god?

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Post by McCulloch »

laxdaela wrote: What is god?
I tend to phrase this question as, "What do you mean when you use the word god? "
laxdaela wrote: This is a question too broad to be addressed directly.
I personally do not see why.
laxdaela wrote: If you're speaking of God as found in the Christian, Muslim or various other monotheistic faiths then you are generally speaking of the singular omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent being responsible for the creation and continued existence of the universe and its inhabitants.
Would that being be one being or three? Does God exist within time or outside of time?
laxdaela wrote: Omniscience, the knowledge of all things.
Are all things knowable? Can free will exist with omniscience?
laxdaela wrote: Omnipotence, the ability to do all things.
Are all things doable? Can an omnipotent being do what is impossible?
laxdaela wrote: Omnipresence, however, is often under sold. To be everywhere is not merely one's ability to be at any and all points in the physical universe for our universe consists of not three but four perceivable dimensions. An omnipresent being is everywhere and everywhen.
If God is everywhere then is God everything? How is omnipresence different than Panentheism or Pantheism?
laxdaela wrote: We cannot define God without men.
If God is dependent on humanity, then it is not God, the creator of humanity et al.
laxdaela wrote: How can we know God's motives?
Great question!
laxdaela wrote: Now, there are among us those who say ' God has a plan for everyone.' or 'God works in mysterious ways.' but these are cop-outs.
Theodicy is an ongoing problem for theists.
laxdaela wrote: Since it is true that no two people perceive the world the same way, can it be true that no two people perceive the same God?
To me the question of whether the Christian God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the same God as Allah makes about as much sense as arguing whether Father Christmas is the same as Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Post #3

Post by Drake »

I don't think that there is something like god in the way like many people describe it in books like the bible or others.
I think what most people call god is absolutely not a thing like a person or like the most common image an old man with a big white beard. As well as I don't think that he had a son he send down to earth. This is not logical. He would have to be a person in order to do this or at leat part of an alien race who can change their shapes.

It is just sad that still too many people take this "god thing" so serious that they kill for it...

I wounder if this will end some day and humanity will finally learn...
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ChaosBorders
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Re: What is god?

Post #4

Post by ChaosBorders »

McCulloch wrote:
laxdaela wrote: Omniscience, the knowledge of all things.
Are all things knowable? Can free will exist with omniscience?
Presumably if one has omniscience (by the broader more common definitions) then all things are knowable by definition.

Free will for the being cannot exist if it has true omniscience. If it has 'inherent omniscience' then it could, but would likely be subject to mistakes and as such would make a lame God.

Free will (by definitions that are not effectively meaningless) for others cannot exist if the being (by the broader more common definitions) has both omniscience and omnipotence. If it has a limited amount of power to influence events, free will could still exist (on a philosophical level anyways) but would be severely curtailed by any actions the being undertook interfering with others.
McCulloch wrote:
laxdaela wrote: Omnipotence, the ability to do all things.
Are all things doable? Can an omnipotent being do what is impossible?
That definition is extreme and would arguably be the one definition of omnipotence that is philosophically impossible.
McCulloch wrote:
laxdaela wrote: Omnipresence, however, is often under sold. To be everywhere is not merely one's ability to be at any and all points in the physical universe for our universe consists of not three but four perceivable dimensions. An omnipresent being is everywhere and everywhen.
If God is everywhere then is God everything? How is omnipresence different than Panentheism or Pantheism?
I do not know how I've never heard of Panentheism before...but I think I may have just got a new descriptive term for explaining much of my beliefs. Need to read further to be sure, but if so that is awesome.
McCulloch wrote:
laxdaela wrote: We cannot define God without men.
If God is dependent on humanity, then it is not God, the creator of humanity et al.
True, but if man isn't around 'we' aren't around and our 'definitions' aren't either, so their sentence isn't wrong per se.
McCulloch wrote:
laxdaela wrote: How can we know God's motives?
Great question!
Logically, you can't. If you believe in an omniscient and omnipotent God you pretty much also just have to hope God isn't a total jerk and that God has good motives, because if such a God exists and is jerk you're pretty much screwed.
Unless indicated otherwise what I say is opinion. (Kudos to Zzyzx for this signature).

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.� -Albert Einstein

The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being argued, but the ones that are assumed.
- C.S. Lewis

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Post #5

Post by Coyotero »

Trying to apply human thought process and feelings to god is about as silly as trying to apply them to animals.

I think God is the universe itself. Omnipotent- Everything that is or ever was is a product of the universe itself being created out of limitless statistical probability. Omnipresent- The universe is everything, everywhere, and everything is the universe. Omniscient- Within it is contained the sum of all of the knowledge of all living things.

Can the universe think and act of it's own accord? Anything is possible, I suppose. Limitless systems operating in perfect unison for billions of years, it certainly makes the human brain seem simple by comparison. I submit that the idea of some sort of cosmic consciousness would be well beyond our own reckoning, but not impossible. Is the universe self-aware? Who's to say... It would seem not, although beings and systems within it certainly are.

I find it interesting that biblically God's name is YHWH, literally Hebrew for "I AM". That is quite interesting to me, with all the discussion and debate on God's thoughts, feelings, and motives, is it possible that God simply is? The blind multitudes of systems that create and sustain all things, not thinking or feeling, simply being and doing.

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Post #6

Post by Goat »

[quote="Coyotero"
I find it interesting that biblically God's name is YHWH, literally Hebrew for "I AM". That is quite interesting to me, with all the discussion and debate on God's thoughts, feelings, and motives, is it possible that God simply is? The blind multitudes of systems that create and sustain all things, not thinking or feeling, simply being and doing.[/quote]

No, it is not literally Hebrew for "I AM". That is a homonym that is close enough that it is a pun, but it is not what YHWH literally means.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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Coyotero
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Post #7

Post by Coyotero »

goat wrote:[quote="Coyotero"
I find it interesting that biblically God's name is YHWH, literally Hebrew for "I AM". That is quite interesting to me, with all the discussion and debate on God's thoughts, feelings, and motives, is it possible that God simply is? The blind multitudes of systems that create and sustain all things, not thinking or feeling, simply being and doing.
No, it is not literally Hebrew for "I AM". That is a homonym that is close enough that it is a pun, but it is not what YHWH literally means.[/quote]

Fair enough, I humbly submit to your knowledge on the subject, and admit mine is lacking. :whistle:

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Post #8

Post by Stefan_Bashkir »

I don't know everything, but...
Omnipotence - If you have the ability to do anything, then nothing is impossible. Therefore, you don't have to be able to do the impossible to be omnipotent.
Omniscience - Well, if you are the untimate creator of eveything, then you know everything that is, because you yourself created it. With the minds of humans, an omniscient being may know what we are going to do, but that doesn't mean he forced us to do it. He gave us a mind with characteristics that would lead us to act in a certain way under certain curcumstances. It was our choice to act that way, but god molded our minds to react in that way. Wether you interpret that as free will or not is up to you.
...I don't have an explanation for anything else, mostly because these are the only two characteristics that are required for something to be god. In fact, a god wouldn't even have to be all-knowing. Perhaps the purpose of the creation of man was to entertain god, because for once in his long, drab, cosmic-altering existence, he wanted something to happen that wasn't predictible.

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Post #9

Post by Euphrates »

Since no one else did, I'm going to go ahead and throw out the Anselm's definition of God:

God is "that than which no greater can be conceived".

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Post #10

Post by Goat »

Euphrates wrote:Since no one else did, I'm going to go ahead and throw out the Anselm's definition of God:

God is "that than which no greater can be conceived".
Inconceivable!


I would tell Anselm 'You keep saying that, but I don't think you know what that means'.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

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