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Defining God - fuz22 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
fuz22

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Defining God [Feb. 28th, 2007|05:55 pm]
fuz22
Most discussions of the (Judaic/Christian/Muslim) God of Abraham are either atheist vs. theist discussions (does God exist?) or theist-only discussions (what is the nature of God?). I have yet to find a definitional discussion of God from a language perspective - what do we mean when we say "God"? This could be referred to as a semiotic or epistemological discussion, but I'm trying to keep myself jargon free.

What I'm trying to think of is properties of God which everyone agrees on. If you say the word "God" and mean something different, I submit that maybe you are not talking about the same thing as most people, and maybe that is you misusing the word - that doesn't mean your beliefs aren't valid, but it does mean that maybe you should put some effort into being clearer. I have no particular person in mind with the preceding paragraph. I'm just saying.

So, here are some properties that I think describe what people almost always include in their notions of God. I am intending to capture things which are necessary, but this list is probably not sufficient.

God is:

  • A source of moral authority
    Doing what God tells you (or informs you, or otherwise leads you to believe) is right is right. There need be no other discussion; If God says that wearing pink on Sundays is right out, then it is.

  • Better than you
    God is typically a Supreme Being. Even when God has flaws (which is rare), those flaws are smaller than human flaws. More typically, God is defined as perfect. Where not defined that way, it is almost always simply understood - God is better than you, no matter how good you are. Otherwise, s/he/it wouldn't be God.

  • Worthy of worship
    God is something you worship. By worshiping, communing or contemplating God, it is understood that you become closer to God, and therefore closer to perfection.

  • External to you
    God is not within you. Many faiths hold that you are a part of God, but even then you are merely a small part of God; God is larger than you.

There are probably other characteristics of God which are commonly or universally necessary. Suggestions appreciated.
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