What Does “God” Mean to You?
I have smart friends.
Like, really smart friends. And I tend to save things they say in response to my prompts on Facebook because they truly blow my mind.
Here, my buddy sets the record straight about online religious debates.
“As an igtheist, I have to say that I think this back and forth is pointless and fruitless. Until there is a solid agreed upon definition of god that can be empirically measured, there is no point in claiming to believe and/or not believe. The word is so loosely used that it always surprises me how really smart people can pretend to have a discussion about something so ill-defined.
The Judeo-Christian-Islamic god is defined as the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-benevolent, creator of the universe. There are many problems with accepting this as definition. The first is that it’s a contradiction. Epicurus proved this in the 3rd century BC. The mere existence of evil in the world means that god can be any two of the three but not all three (omniscient, omnipotent, or omnibenevolent). Google the “Problem of Evil” for more.
The second more important problem with this definition is that I don’t think it really encapsulates what people mean when they talk about god day by day. If you look at the number of contexts that people bring up god they are using the word god as a placeholder for other words we already have to describe the same phenomena. Words like fortune, mercy, source, everything, awe, morality, etc… All these things are vastly different concepts and phenomena in the world. All of which are phenomena that all people (theists and nontheists) can agree actually do exist by themselves. The more useful question here is why do theists view all these undeniable phenomena as being controlled by a life-like entity? Why does good or bad fortune, for instance, have to be intended by a being at all? Why can’t it just be unguided by any kind of guider? Perhaps we made god in our image maybe? 😀
Which brings me to my last point about the definition of god. If we spent more time (as any good igtheist would like) talking about the definition of god we might arrive at a far more important question altogether. An atheist typically does not experience god and that’s usually why they are baffled by the bold and powerful convictions of theists. Theists make it very easy for nontheists to point to dogma as the reason why this is the case. However, if we were to remove all dogma from the world god would still persist in the world in the form of the “god experience.” People who have this experience will “know” of god’s existence. The god experience is a far more interesting conversation to have in my opinion. What is it? Why does it happen? Who has it and who doesn’t? Is it an external or internal phenomena? Why do so many people who have it feel a presence with or watching them?
For instance, I’ve been an nontheist my whole life. Never really understood what people meant by god really. I just thought it was all dogma and brainwashing. Except when I first smoked pot. I believed in god all of a sudden. With every ounce of me I understood the god experience. I felt in the presence of the universe with or watching me. But when I sobered up, I stopped believing again. This would happen every time I would smoke. What had changed was chemicals in my body. I think some people are just chemically more likely to go through life with this feeling of the god experience (without drugs) than others. To believe that this internal experience is happening TO you, instead of WITHIN you, is the classic textbook definition of psychosis. Which is exactly what I believe the god experience is. A mild form of psychosis by which a person experiences the presence of their own subconscious as though it is an external phenomena. What do you guys think?
Sorry for the book.
TL;DR – God’s existence is a pointless question to answer unless you answer the more interesting question… “What does the word “god” mean in the first place?”