No, this is not another Christian-witness thread. (Or at least mostly not…)
Robert A. Heinlein once commented that he refused to discuss God because there was no objective referent that people could point to. He and another may have identical or widely divergent ideas of who or what God is, and with no common ground cannot discuss the subject intelligently. He was not denying God (at least in that statement); he was simply underscoring the observation that what different people mean by the term varies wildly.
This was brought to mind by a quotation which Scylla posted in a Pit thread:
So it occurred to me that an interesting topic guaranteed to generate a Great Debate would be to ask people to describe their concept of God. Your assignment is to describe God in 25 words or less (or, knowing this group, as many more as you care to take.)
This would include agnostics and atheists – though I fully understand that, in Gaudere’s words, they don’t believe in any god(s), when they speak of God in reference to something a theist posts, what do they conceive of the God they are not believing in vis-a-vis the theist’s argument as being? (I.e., we can lay Zeus, Cthulhu, etc. to rest, unless that happens to be your personal conception of who God is; what is the “God” you are arguing against in such a thread?)
Feel free to disagree with each other – remembering that the other person is not wrong – he can’t be, because he’s describing his own view. He may be wrong in objective reality, and that’s what makes this a debate. But I have a feeling that the divergent views posted will provide some fascinating reading, and deep insight into each other’s thinking.
Hmm, interesting topic, Polycarp. Nicely introduced, too. Let’s what I can do with it.
Since, I as an atheist, disbelieve the existence of any Deity, it would be impossible for me to ascribe any characteristics to Him/Them. Therefore, the Deity I argue against must necessarily be defined by the faithholder. I cannot describe a void.
Although that’s a few more than twenty-five words, I may have more to say later about the concept of Deity rather than any specific characteristics.
Don’t know if you recall, but a while ago I mentioned that my minister suggested that, depending on the god he rejects, an atheist has quite a bit in common with someone who continues to believe in that god.
Atheist here, undoubtedly subjected to too many Catholic images as a youth. So my non-existent God usually has long white hair and beard, white robes. Not mean, despite the fire and brimstone stuff. Conveys sense of, I don’t know, weariness?
And Jesus, heck, I’ve seen his portrait hanging in too many homes to question his appearance. Heck, I even know what his sacred heart looks like! Nice guy.
I try to give equal time to rejecting the Gods of Greek and Roman mythology. In my mind they were all caucasion and (the men) bearded and robed. Yeah, my Zeus is much more of the hellfire and damnation type than my Jehovah. I guess I occasionally reject an earth goddess modelled after Ceres or Demeter (do I have the names right? It’s been a while.)
So, are you asking us atheists to set up a “straw God” argument?
This week I’m not believing in Quetzalcoatl (AKA Kukulcan, 9 Wind, Edahior Eke’emaxi, Gukumatz and Tohil), god of human sustenance, penitence, self-sacrifice, re-birth and butterflies. Quetzalcoatl (or as we unbelievers refer to him the ubiquitous Q) is the protector of all mankind, set the Sun on its correct, created fire and established the priesthood, animal husbandry, music and dance.
Although I often think that one of his avatars must be “Q” on ST:TNG, this should in no way limit Quetzalcoatl in the eyes of true believers.
There. Hope that was helpful!
I’m an agnostic. When religious people (of any faith) refer to God(s) I believe that they are actually referring to a life force or life energy that is present in all living things. It has no particular shape or form as it is not a separate entity. Of course, I could be wrong.
Well, you should keep in mind one of the things Jesus was peeved about was the Book of Levites, which purported to be from God, yet Jesus said was merely the precepts of men. Don’t know how much else of the OT that would apply to though.
In 25 words or less? geesh What’re you trying to do? Tie my fingers into knots?
I think the biggest stumbling block we have when thinking about the Gods is that They don’t have two certain qualities we often ascribe to Them: ominiscence and omnipotence. Ascribing these qualities to Them often leads to logical paradoxes that lead us no where. As an example, the J/C/I God, when given omnipotence and omniniscence turns into the Divine Weasel (as DavidB puts it).
To quote from Heinlein again, in Job, A Comedy of Justice the character Jerry Farnsworth is explaining to the modern Job that he, Jerry, has abilities he can’t understand and likewise, he has restrictions he can’t understand.
Think of it this way; compared to something like a dog or cat, humans have abilities and concepts that, to those lesser animals, would seem god-like. Can dogs or cats understand evolution or astrophysics? No, but to us (well, to those of us who believe in evolution and astrophysics) they are real, understandable concepts.
I do believe the Gods are compassionate, in the same way an older brother or sister is compassionate with a younger sibling who is a few bricks short of a full load. They have love, understanding and patience. An incredible amount of patience, I think.
I believe They try to give us help and compassion when ever we ask for it, but ultimately, we govern our own lives and make our own decisions.
That’s almost a little redundant, CollegeStudent. I mean, you can easily look at God of the Old Testament and see Him as having a bad day (several days over) and quite waiting to punish us. The Job tale seems like He might be a bit of a thrill seeker. And the way he duped you literalists into believing the world was flat, pi was three and the universe is only 6,000 years old shows th guy has to have had a sense of humor…