Are people referring to the same thing–do we mean the same thing–when we say or write the word “God”? I suspect not, but I bet we assume so nonetheless. It is perhaps a human propensity to assume that others have similar ideas, or at least are using familiar words to mean the same things we understand the words to mean. I’m not sure that this assumption holds here. When you use the word “God,” what are you referring to? For instance, are you referring to the source of existence or to existence itself (see two other posts)? Are you referring to an intelligent being or to something beyond being a being? Surprisingly, Christian theologians have debated whether God can be considered to be a being. I say surprisingly because many people presume that by “God” one means “an intelligent being who created the universe.” At the risk of it being highly impious to ask, how do you define God? (as if that to which the word refers can be defined…though I think we do have things in mind about what God is when we use the word). By defining what God is, I do not mean what God does, unless you want to define God as a function. For instance, God loves, but God as love is perhaps different or can be distinguished. In short, what is God? To what does the word “God” refer? I bet there are different answers. If so, we might be erroneously assuming that we are referring to the same thing in using the word. I bet this is so even within one of the religions that uses the word.
Here is my version:
God is not an intelligent being because God is not a being as we understand being “a being.”
God is not the source of existence because nothing can exist beyond existence
God is inherently undefined. Approximating, “God” stands for all of the dynamics (and each one) in reality that exist and self-regulate without purpose, intent or any external or supervening force (because no other forces or dynamics exist besides it); they simply “are.” Hence God is not static (but not purposeful either). For example, I believe that “what goes around, comes around” transcends connections we know of and involves “real dynamics.” Also, I believe that acting on certain principles, such as “the first are last” and “loving one’s enemy,” has a certain power in terms of the dynamics that are real (i.e., a strength). The resonance of that power is love or deeply-felt meaningfulness. Drawbacks: distinguishing good and evil is perhaps insufficient; also, overly intellectual (not stressing the religious feeling). Any possible definition, I assume, must have drawbacks. I believe that acknowledging them, if generally done, would make religion far more salubrious amid mankind and reduce strident dogmatism that feeds hubris and divides people.