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Jor-el

The Philosophers God vs. the God of the Bible

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The God of the Philosophers vs. the God of the Bible

The God of the Hebrew Bible is for the most part an anthropomorphic and anthropopathic being, that is, a God who has the form and emotions of humans. He (it is a he) walks and talks, has arms and legs, becomes angry, happy, or sad, changes his mind, speaks to humans and is addressed by them, and closely supervises the affairs of the world. The God of the philosophers is a different sort of being altogether: abstract (the Prime Mover, the First Cause, the Mind or Soul of the Universe, etc.), immutable, and relatively unconcerned with the affairs of humanity. The tension between these rival conceptions of the Deity is evident in the work of Philo, who is able lo find a philosophically respectable God in the Torah only through allegorical exegesis. Philo is particularly careful to sanitize the anthropomorphic and anthropopathic passages. In the land of Israel the pressure to interpret the Bible in this fashion was less intense, but even here many of the Targumim, the Aramaic translations of scripture, reduce or eliminate the scriptural anthropomorphisms.

Perhaps some Jews were concerned about the very unphilosophical image of God in the Hebrew scriptures, but most Jews were not. Apocalyptic visionaries and mystics persisted in seeing God sitting on his throne surrounded by his angelic attendants. The rabbis had no difficulty in believing in a God who loves and is loved and with whom one can argue. The masses needed (and need!) a God who is accessible and understandable. In the fourth century most of the monks in Egypt understood the anthropomorphisms of scripture literally. After all, God declares, "Let us make man in our image" (Gen. 1:26), proof that the image of man is the image of God. After hearing a pastoral letter from the bishop of Alexandria and a sermon from his abbot which insisted that the scriptural anthropomorphisms were to be understood allegorically because God has no shape, one elderly monk arose to pray but could not. "Woe is me! They have taken my God away from me!" he wailed. Popular piety does not need or want an immutable and shapeless Prime Mover; it wants a God who reveals himself to people, listens to prayer, and can be grasped in human terms. This is the God of the Shema, the Bible, and the liturgy. This is the God of practically all the Hebrew and Aramaic, and some of the Greek, Jewish literature of antiquity. It is not, however, the God of the philosophers.

Source: From the Maccabees to the Mishnah By Shaye J. D. Cohen

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So God is... which?

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Both and none. If my iPhone wants to have a conversation with my computer from when I was a child...it needs to simplify it's language and mass amounts of information so that my old hp can even process the cached information. Even then the old hp will take hours to process it, if something quirky dosnt happen to cause it to crash. Were talking about a translater and capacitor for divine information. Christ.., the Buhdda... And many others that are unsung.

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An excellent book, "The gifts of the jews" by Thomas cahill, explains the significance of the jewish faith as it evolved god into not just an anthropomorhic entity, but one with a personal relationship with each human being. It appears that this may have occured both for cultural reasons, but also, if you accpet the writings of the old testament becaue tha tis precisely how they encountered their god.

I am not familiar with the works of philo, but philosophy involves the construction of a god, based on philosophical principles of how people conceive a god should or must be. To the "children of the dust" or hebrews God WAS NOT a construct but a real physical and present god, who walked with them and intervened actively in their lives.

Perhaps the greatest "translation" of god by these people was into a monotheistic form. Other perceptions of god had been physical nad philosophic, but all, generally, were pantheistic in nature.

As late as the 1800s there was considerable debate in parts of christianity as to whether god was more pantheistic, (eg existing within all elemants of nature) or more anthropomorphic, ie a more localised entity. Even today, gaean theology sees god as pantheistic. In my own experince he is pantheistic in distribution but monotheistic in his relationship with humans. ie he relates to us, one to one, as a singular entity.

But god exists in trees and in animals as well as in people, because god IS integrated into the universe.

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I love the Sumerian relationship with gods and goddesses. Making statues of them, and clothing them, and sometimes taking them to visit each other. I really don't think Jews invented this personal relationship with a god.

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An excellent book, "The gifts of the jews" by Thomas cahill, explains the significance of the jewish faith as it evolved god into not just an anthropomorhic entity, but one with a personal relationship with each human being. It appears that this may have occured both for cultural reasons, but also, if you accpet the writings of the old testament becaue tha tis precisely how they encountered their god.

I am not familiar with the works of philo, but philosophy involves the construction of a god, based on philosophical principles of how people conceive a god should or must be. To the "children of the dust" or hebrews God WAS NOT a construct but a real physical and present god, who walked with them and intervened actively in their lives.

Perhaps the greatest "translation" of god by these people was into a monotheistic form. Other perceptions of god had been physical nad philosophic, but all, generally, were pantheistic in nature.

As late as the 1800s there was considerable debate in parts of christianity as to whether god was more pantheistic, (eg existing within all elemants of nature) or more anthropomorphic, ie a more localised entity. Even today, gaean theology sees god as pantheistic. In my own experince he is pantheistic in distribution but monotheistic in his relationship with humans. ie he relates to us, one to one, as a singular entity.

But god exists in trees and in animals as well as in people, because god IS integrated into the universe.

Do you think that the God of the ancient Hebrews as expounded in Torah, is compatible at all with the modern invisible 1st cause which we abstractly call god?

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I love the Sumerian relationship with gods and goddesses. Making statues of them, and clothing them, and sometimes taking them to visit each other. I really don't think Jews invented this personal relationship with a god.

No, it is a reflection of a much older attitude. But one that has not gone out of fashion in some circles. There is a statue of Mary in Portugal that has its own wardrobe as well as a baby Jesus with different types of baby clothes. When these statues go out into the street in processions, they are always dressed in differnt clothing as befits the occasion.

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The philosophically deduced god is more rational, logical and a correct conceptual interpretation of the empirical data leading to god. However the philosophical god presented in the OP is not the only model of god, although most share those attributes there are differences, such as an active god, who listens to pray etc, is also reconcilable within in the philosophical model of god.

The biblical god is unfortunately a man god. A man god is not tangible to most humans who can not reconcile such a concept rationally, logically or scientifically.

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Do you think that the God of the ancient Hebrews as expounded in Torah, is compatible at all with the modern invisible 1st cause which we abstractly call god?

Excellent question. I am not sure how manymodern peole see god in that way, and how long it has been an option for belief among people, especially christians. Almost all the christians i know personally, from every denomination, who actually believe in god, still see god as a real physical being. They might see jesus as the hiuma form of god or they might see god as a being who can emulate human shape or they might have a differnt concept of his physicality.

The construct of a god without physical form has occured in the past, but in modern times almost seems to have become an option were a real physicla god is too unbelievable or dificult for modern tastes. Ie amyone can relate to a construct of god shaped as they wish him to be, and without any physical presence or consequence.

while i know god manifests in many forms, and is both physical, and an energy or spirit form, I do think there is a basic division beween a real physical god, and a immaterial one.

To me it is not the form, but the consequences of the form which create a basic divison. A real god hears. A real god speaks. A real god has the ability to interact with the material world. Now some forms of immaterial or invisible gods may also have that ability by chosing to manifest physically, but a god without any physical form has no; intelligence , motivation, intent or purpose. ANd if it could have those things, it would have no real way of acting on them or implementing its desires. It certainly could not be of any practical help to a human being; except by faith based placebo effect, which in itself can be very powerful. So yes, I think the jews perceived and acted in a relationship with, a different and more practical form of god than an invisible first cause.

But then i think, and find, that most modern believers still maintain their belief in that "old fashioned jewish type of god". They believe, or find, that the god of today acts in the same way as the god of the bible, uses the same forms, and performs the same types of miracles as those we see described by the bible writers in both the old and new testaments.

I have a little chuckle when peole say things like,"oh but god has withdrawn from humanity. He doesnt put in personal appearances like those we read about in the bible anymore." Actually that form of god is here with us now excatly as he was when he walked with the jewish peole in the old and new testamnet times.

Many modern peole can, and do, recount personal stories of encounters, just like those one reads about in biblical times.

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To me it is not the form, but the consequences of the form which create a basic divison.

I disagree.

It is the concept of being that creates the boundary between the athropomorphic deity and the philosophic one. Yet the concept of being does not require a form imagined upon the entity.

However, the state of being necessarily imparts boundaries on the conceptualised, anthropomorphised deity, with the implication that figure has to be, in some way, limited. By contrast the philosophic 'first-cause' exists in a state of unbeing as a force - unsentient (not non-sentient), and unbounded.

While many of the various religions which conceptualise their deity as a 'being', also raise their deity by way of some superior honorifics - such as 'all-mighty', 'omnipotent', etc - they have all made their deity limited in some way through projecting a state of being onto it. No-one wants their god to be alien, so this creating upon it a state of being can be seen to be a way of making the concept of god more palatable and less-frightening in a very frightening universe.

Because the anthropomorphic deity is 'like us' in enjoying a state of being, it can understand us and we can, in some way, understand it. This means we can project our own fears onto the deity and be comforted by the knowledge it understands them and, being god, can protect us from them.

None of this applies to a non-anthropomorphic, philosophic deity. It (and really, this concept cannot even be called an 'it') shares none of the vulnerabilities that having a state of being imparts. There is no common ground between ourselves - who exist as beings - and the philosophic god - which has no being, and may have no existence as we understand the term. Therefore we cannot gain succor from projection of our vulnerabilities, hopes or fears onto it.

As for the question posed by the OP, the answer depends on what the believer projects onto the god they believe in. Do they believe in a limited god by projecting a state of being onto that figure, or do they believe in an unlimited, and ineffable, 'prime-cause' which may or may not exist in some state of unbeing?

Edited by Leonardo

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I disagree.

It is the concept of being that creates the boundary between the athropomorphic deity and the philosophic one. Yet the concept of being does not require a form imagined upon the entity.

However, the state of being necessarily imparts boundaries on the conceptualised, anthropomorphised deity, with the implication that figure has to be, in some way, limited. By contrast the philosophic 'first-cause' exists in a state of unbeing as a force - unsentient (not non-sentient), and unbounded.

While many of the various religions which conceptualise their deity as a 'being', also raise their deity by way of some superior honorifics - such as 'all-mighty', 'omnipotent', etc - they have all made their deity limited in some way through projecting a state of being onto it. No-one wants their god to be alien, so this creating upon it a state of being can be seen to be a way of making the concept of god more palatable and less-frightening in a very frightening universe.

Because the anthropomorphic deity is 'like us' in enjoying a state of being, it can understand us and we can, in some way, understand it. This means we can project our own fears onto the deity and be comforted by the knowledge it understands them and, being god, can protect us from them.

None of this applies to a non-anthropomorphic, philosophic deity. It (and really, this concept cannot even be called an 'it') shares none of the vulnerabilities that having a state of being imparts. There is no common ground between ourselves - who exist as beings - and the philosophic god - which has no being, and may have no existence as we understand the term. Therefore we cannot gain succor from projection of our vulnerabilities, hopes or fears onto it.

As for the question posed by the OP, the answer depends on what the believer projects onto the god they believe in. Do they believe in a limited god by projecting a state of being onto that figure, or do they believe in an unlimited, and ineffable, 'prime-cause' which may or may not exist in some state of unbeing?

Can this unlimited, and ineffable, 'prime-cause' appear to be anthropomorphic as well?

In other words, due to our own limitations, might not this God appear to us in a way that we can also define, thus only appearing to limit itself, according to human senses?

Edited by Jor-el

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Can this unlimited, and ineffable, 'prime-cause' appear to be anthropomorphic as well?

In other words, due to our own limitations, might not this God appear to us in a way that we can also define, thus only appearing to limit itself, according to human senses?

Joseph Campbell says God/gods are personifications of energies, which I would say are creative, destructive, etc. He brought up an interesting point, about cultures that would have their anthropomorphized version of a God in the form of a clown, which seems weird, but what he said was that the clown, the absurdity was to prevent from the person from stopping at the image and to break through that. The God of the Bible is way to human and male, it's to me limiting and makes it hard to see anything but that, the judging father in the sky peering down on us, checking for your name in the book of life. I think it would probably be challening to find anything in the bible that is not overwhelmingly human, just "man writ large." I think what you've got there in your questions there is an Eastern vs. Western idea of God. I don't know what would meet in the middle, maybe the clown god, maybe that's why we have tricksters, to remind us that image isn't the stopping point.

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Joseph Campbell says God/gods are personifications of energies, which I would say are creative, destructive, etc. He brought up an interesting point, about cultures that would have their anthropomorphized version of a God in the form of a clown, which seems weird, but what he said was that the clown, the absurdity was to prevent from the person from stopping at the image and to break through that. The God of the Bible is way to human and male, it's to me limiting and makes it hard to see anything but that, the judging father in the sky peering down on us, checking for your name in the book of life. I think it would probably be challening to find anything in the bible that is not overwhelmingly human, just "man writ large." I think what you've got there in your questions there is an Eastern vs. Western idea of God. I don't know what would meet in the middle, maybe the clown god, maybe that's why we have tricksters, to remind us that image isn't the stopping point.

I agree with the concept or at least with its approach. Personally I see the human aspect of God as something that is only for our benefit. True to the OP assertion that we cannot really associate emotionally with an abstract concept as evidenced in the Phiosophical God. Not that it isn't without merit. Paul himself used the concept of the unknown God to preach to the Greeks. This unknown God may have been by all accounts was the Aristotelian concept of the 1st Cause or the Prime Mover.

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Newsflash ! We already know all about God ! :o Like the flabby youth who dreams of having a washboard six-pack tummy, it's not a case of working those abs ( or in this case, our inquiring mind ), but just staying away from the fridge ( the organized knowledge of humanity) to have that flab melt away to reveal the sought-after six pack we already possess, but didn't know it ! No more to pay ! And there it all is in its glory, Adonis lives ! As the sage said, sell your knowledge ( of God) and buy bewilderment (about God). Sadly, that old inquiring mind is so smitten with its own craft and cleverness, it is very hard to push off the stage ! :no:

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name='Leonardo' timestamp='1326461175' post='4170969']

I disagree.

It is the concept of being that creates the boundary between the athropomorphic deity and the philosophic one. Yet the concept of being does not require a form imagined upon the entity.

Not sure exactly wha this sequence of words means. A conceptual being requires some conceptualised form, even if that is invisible and immaterial. A real entity stands as itself.

Are you arguing that immaterial, invisible, first cause gods can have all the physical and interactive abilities of a physical or anthropomorhicised god?

. My point i think agreed with you. We can imagine a god without form or physicality and many humans do construct such divine forms. But such a god cannot, in a real or logical sense interact with us or alter the physicla world. Thus, even theologiclaly/theoretically, it is limited. Even an imaginary (or perceived) god like thor, or loki, or any god in human form, must have within its construct the ability to interact with humans and alter physical reality. And if it exists in real form rather than as a human construct, then even more so.

However, the state of being necessarily imparts boundaries on the conceptualised, anthropomorphised deity, with the implication that figure has to be, in some way, limited. By contrast the philosophic 'first-cause' exists in a state of unbeing as a force - unsentient (not non-sentient), and unbounded.

True but I look at it this way. The philosophic first cause god is much more severely limited by its very nature. So much so that it disqualifies itself as a true human god in logical and semantic terms. How can an entity be a god if it is non responsive to its followers who call it god.?

Now, while an anthropomorphised or real physical god has more limitations than such a philosphic god (eg it cannot be truly omipotent or omniscient as such qualities are beyond reality or physicality,) in effect its functions make it much more of a real god in name and in power.. It can communicate with people. it can respond to them, and it can interact with the minds and bodies of its followers. It can manipulate space, time, and energies, as a philosophic construct logically and physically could not.

Thus it IS the abilities and functions of the two forms which create the critical differnce beween them.

While many of the various religions which conceptualise their deity as a 'being', also raise their deity by way of some superior honorifics - such as 'all-mighty', 'omnipotent', etc - they have all made their deity limited in some way through projecting a state of being onto it. No-one wants their god to be alien, so this creating upon it a state of being can be seen to be a way of making the concept of god more palatable and less-frightening in a very frightening universe.

True. BUT there may be, and probably are, many great and powerful entities out there in the universe. MAny of them may be advanced even beyond our god. BUT they cannot BE human gods. If anything we would be below their recognition, and certainly their interest They have evolved far beyond our range of being. A god can only come from within a limited range of entities, real or conceptualised. It must be (to be a god ) capable of recognition/awareness of its followers , an interest in them, a desire to interact with them. and an ability to respond to them. Otherwise such an entity is NOT a god of humans, even of we would want it to be.

Because the anthropomorphic deity is 'like us' in enjoying a state of being, it can understand us and we can, in some way, understand it. This means we can project our own fears onto the deity and be comforted by the knowledge it understands them and, being god, can protect us from them.

Absolutely, both in theological /philosophical terms and in physical ones.

MAny writers construct beings that are incomprehensible to mankind, and who do not comprehend mankind They may also exist in reality But they are not and cannot be gods to humans. Only an entity, constructed or real, which falls within a certain imaginary/ evolutionary spectrum, somewhat similar to man can be a god to, or of, mankind.

None of this applies to a non-anthropomorphic, philosophic deity. It (and really, this concept cannot even be called an 'it') shares none of the vulnerabilities that having a state of being imparts. There is no common ground between ourselves - who exist as beings - and the philosophic god - which has no being, and may have no existence as we understand the term. Therefore we cannot gain succor from projection of our vulnerabilities, hopes or fears onto it.

Absolutely, and thus it is disqualfied as a god for humanity. It is only a construct designed for a philosophic purpose. Again this differentiates the potential functionality of each type of god. You are speaking here of a lack of functionality of the philosophic god which I agree with completely How can you see such an entity as a god in; linguistic /semantic or theological terms?

As for the question posed by the OP, the answer depends on what the believer projects onto the god they believe in. Do they believe in a limited god by projecting a state of being onto that figure, or do they believe in an unlimited, and ineffable, 'prime-cause' which may or may not exist in some state of unbeing?

I dont disagree, but this comes back to functionality rather than form. You argue much the same. To you both forms are the same; both are constructs of humanity. Where the constructs differ is in the inherent functionality of each form

Of course, in a separate debate, i go much further , beyond such human constructs; and argue that god IS real and physical. Thus his form dictates his functionality as it does for all livng things. God cannot be, in reality what he is not, neither more nor less than what he is. But god IS. This is true of all real living things.

A dog is what it is. It can't be more or less, because we want it to be so. That does not stop humans constructing talking dogs, flying dogs, or many other forms of constructed dogs. Such constructs are created for, and serve, a purpose. So do constructed gods. But if i construct a dog so far removed from a dog as to have none of its form or functionality, then why call it a dog? Can i actually/ legitimately, define such a construct as a dog, if it has none of the form or functionality of a real dog? If it does not serve as a dog, within its extended construct, can it be called a dog, and will others recognise it as a dog?

I would argue, No , and that the same principle applies to god.

Edited by Mr Walker

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Newsflash ! We already know all about God ! :o Like the flabby youth who dreams of having a washboard six-pack tummy, it's not a case of working those abs ( or in this case, our inquiring mind ), but just staying away from the fridge ( the organized knowledge of humanity) to have that flab melt away to reveal the sought-after six pack we already possess, but didn't know it ! No more to pay ! And there it all is in its glory, Adonis lives ! As the sage said, sell your knowledge ( of God) and buy bewilderment (about God). Sadly, that old inquiring mind is so smitten with its own craft and cleverness, it is very hard to push off the stage ! :no:

On the other hand, what sort of person would want to surrender an entire keg, for a mere six pack? :devil:

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Not sure exactly wha this sequence of words means. A conceptual being requires some conceptualised form, even if that is invisible and immaterial.

No, it doesn't. If you had argued we tend to imagine a form upon our concepts of a god of being, I would agree. But the form is not required.

My point i think agreed with you. We can imagine a god without form or physicality and many humans do construct such divine forms. But such a god cannot, in a real or logical sense interact with us or alter the physicla world. Thus, even theologiclaly/theoretically, it is limited. Even an imaginary (or perceived) god like thor, or loki, or any god in human form, must have within its construct the ability to interact with humans and alter physical reality. And if it exists in real form rather than as a human construct, then even more so.

Even the gods that are conceived without form are still conceived as a being. This is why they are limited, not by the presence or lack of form.

True but I look at it this way. The philosophic first cause god is much more severely limited by its very nature. So much so that it disqualifies itself as a true human god in logical and semantic terms. How can an entity be a god if it is non responsive to its followers who call it god.?

All you are doing here is restricting the definition of god to mean something that agrees with your personal beliefs. I know you are going to argue, at this point, about your alleged "physical interaction with god", and therefore this is not simply "your personal beliefs", but that argument is critically flawed due to it's subjective, and entirely unevidenced, basis.

A deity, whether anthropomorphised as a being or not, does not act or exist at our discretion - it is not our construct. Therefore for us to impart what this deity must be or do (even such actions as 'interact with worshippers') only reveals that deity to be of our own construction.

A god can only come from within a limited range of entities, real or conceptualised. It must be (to be a god ) capable of recognition/awareness of its followers , an interest in them, a desire to interact with them. and an ability to respond to them. Otherwise such an entity is NOT a god of humans, even of we would want it to be.

Again, this is you constructing god to be as you wish god to be.

Absolutely, and thus it is disqualfied as a god for humanity. It is only a construct designed for a philosophic purpose. Again this differentiates the potential functionality of each type of god. You are speaking here of a lack of functionality of the philosophic god which I agree with completely How can you see such an entity as a god in; linguistic /semantic or theological terms?

Because the term 'god' refers to something which is completely undefined by us.

I dont disagree, but this comes back to functionality rather than form. You argue much the same. To you both forms are the same; both are constructs of humanity. Where the constructs differ is in the inherent functionality of each form.

MW, you are arguing from the perspective that 'functionality' is a property of 'form'. That is not necessarily the case with god, but only appears so to you because of how you have constructed your own vision of that concept.

With respect to the OP, this is the difficulty in assigning a truth value to any definition of 'god'. Each version of god that has been related through our history reflects or reveals only the mind/psychology of those who defined it, not whether the deity as defined is, or is not, true.

Edited by Leonardo

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name='Leonardo' timestamp='1326533568' post='4171683']

No, it doesn't. If you had argued we tend to imagine a form upon our concepts of a god of being, I would agree. But the form is not required.

Everything we imagine has form Anything real has form. Otherwise it does not exist either in imagination or in reality.

Even the gods that are conceived without form are still conceived as a being. This is why they are limited, not by the presence or lack of form.

Any being/entity whether immaterial or invisible, has form. Its lack of material being is its form. Only somethng non existent can lack form.
All you are doing here is restricting the definition of god to mean something that agrees with your personal beliefs. I know you are going to argue, at this point, about your alleged "physical interaction with god", and therefore this is not simply "your personal beliefs", but that argument is critically flawed due to it's subjective, and entirely unevidenced, basis.
I added that point at the end, to be honest about my own personal knowlegde of god, but my knowledge is truly immaterial to any logical or philosophic argument. "God" is just a linguistic attachment to a structural or intellectual form. That form can be either, or both, an intellectual construct, or a physical being. It has to have a symbolic/linguistic definition that is understandable and transferrable among people. A god, to be a god, must have certain agreed functions, otherwise it is a label attached to a construct, with out purpose. For example a construct which I call a dog, but which is unrecognisable a s a dog (does not have any of the characteristics of a dog) cannot be a dog, because no one else can recognise it as a dog. The purpose of any label is to identify an object which holds certain agreed properties. So a tree is a tree and a god is a god.

So, something which cannot act as a god must act cannot be called a god.

A deity, whether anthropomorphised as a being or not, does not act or exist at our discretion - it is not our construct. Therefore for us to impart what this deity must be or do (even such actions as 'interact with worshippers') only reveals that deity to be of our own construction.

This is only true of a real physical god which exists independent of our minds. That is my argument So an entity which exists independently but does not interact with us as a god is not A god to us. And a construct which is constructed so as not to interact with us is not a god to us either. In the real world we can only perceive and interact with a limited range of the total reality of the universe For many reasons. But if a being cannot interact with those who perceive it as a god. it canot be a god. It is something else.

Again, this is you constructing god to be as you wish god to be.
To be accurate, it is me defining god as a god must be, to be a god. But it is not my definition. It is, generally, that of humanity, from time immemorial. We only call constructs or entities, god; if and when they act like a god.

An entity with no purpose or action attached to it, or attributed to it, cannot be a god. Examples of god to whom self aware purpose have been attached include; the sun, Nature spirits, the gods of the book, The earth goddess, gods of the sky, wind etc, loki thor coyote, all the greco roman pantheons etc. Ancient bablyonian, akkadian gods, the gods of meso america, the pacific islands and so on. If you disagree please explain how anythingg could be a god to a human being if there is no connection between, or acknowledgement by, the entity, of human beings. (at least in the mind/concept of humans) Here, for example, there might be a nebulous connection as follows. An entity might have created humanity but then abandoned us. If so it was a god to us in our creation, but cannot be one in its abandonment of us. By its action it has abrogated the label of god for humans.

There might be a cosmic consciousness, but if we remain unaware of it, and to all intents and purposes it remains unaware or uncaring of us, then it is not a god to humans. There might be a hundred alien races with the ability to appear as gods to us, But if they dont care enough or chose not to manifest to us, then they cannot be gods to us.

Because the term 'god' refers to something which is completely undefined by us.
Thats physically impossible. "God" is a linguistic term,or sound, in english, which we created to attach to an intellectual construction of, or understanding of, an entity. One cant have such a label, or such an attachment, to something undefined. Creating the label and the attachment of structure to the lable, automatically defines it. thats how human minds and linguistics work. This is true of every human word and its understood attachment or symbol

MW, you are arguing from the perspective that 'functionality' is a property of 'form'. That is not necessarily the case with god, but only appears so to you because of how you have constructed your own vision of that concept.

Functionality IS a property of form, in every physical thing. That is a product of nature or of evolution. In philosophic or intellectual construction it does not have to be true (we can create any construct we like in our imagination) but it almost always is true, because our minds conform to, and model our constructs on, physical reality. One could construct something in which form and function were not related, but it would not be operable inside any constructed reality, just as it would not be operable in a physical reality. And so it could serve no useful purpose, even as an intellectual or philosophic construct.

With respect to the OP, this is the difficulty in assigning a truth value to any definition of 'god'. Each version of god that has been related through our history reflects or reveals only the mind/psychology of those who defined it, not whether the deity as defined is, or is not, true.

My point was tha the two constructed forms were not compatible. My further point was that the greatest incompatibility lay in their functionality. The philosophers god HAS no useful function and so is very differnt to the god of the bible or any similar god which in its construction has great functionality, and so cannot be its equivalent.

Absolute truth value, or physical reality is an entirely differnt thing and a differnt argument. All constructed forms of god are similar in the way they are constructed but greatly different in the functional aspects of each construct. For example cromagnon man believed that cpaturing animals spirits enhanced his ability to physically capture the real animal. Whether he was correct or not, this belief was sustained by the relationship he saw existing betwen his propitiation of his gods, and the results he achieved.

There was no point in him constructing a nebulous god who served no useful purpose to him . Only in modern times has such a construct really been viable, because it has become an academic or philosophical exercise.

Where gods need to be real, they are constructed as real. Thus the philosophic god is not a human god at all. You can argue that this is my perception or defintion, and that is true up to a point; but it is the same with "a dog." That lable IS a commonly understood one. If i construct a dog with none of the characteristics of a dog, it is not a dog, despite the label i attach to it.

There IS a common longstanding understanding of what a dog is. Step beyond that in your construct, and you have no longer constructed a dog but something else The philosophic construct of a god is that in name only. It has none of the common attacments/ attributes that label defines.

In brief. No one can just construct an entity(with or without material form or self aware purpose) and then say "Oh, that is god" The construction must conform to common expectations of god or it will not be recognised as god.

Non constructed, real, and independently existing entities, including gods if they exist, are a different kettle of fish altogether. They simply are what they are, and we label and categorise them, as we perceive them to be.

Edited by Mr Walker

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This is only true of a real physical god which exists independent of our minds. That is my argument So an entity which exists independently but does not interact with us as a god is not A god to us.

Says who, you?

God does not have to be what you propose god to be. God can be anything, but does not have to be anything. That is how undefined the concept of god is.

Everything else is simply you inventing god in your own image.

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Says who, you?

God does not have to be what you propose god to be. God can be anything, but does not have to be anything. That is how undefined the concept of god is.

Everything else is simply you inventing god in your own image.

With respect thats meaningless, and factually incorrect. God is just a word attached to a concept, but to be "god' it must have an agreed upon value. Otherwise we can call anything a dog and anything a god. And communication becomes impossible.

Our minds and our language operate on the attachment of linguistic labels to real or constructed images. Thus, like "a tree" a constructed or real "god" must have an agreed form /image symbolic meaning. And ironically, of course, in defining god as you do,

God can be anything, but does not have to be anything.
you define god precisely in your own constructed image of god. There is no difernce in attaching that defintion of god, to attaching one saying "god must be an old fellow with a beard." Both are just personal concepts/constructs of the nature of god.

No we cannot simply go around saying anything (or nothing) can be god.

Well we can, but it serves utterly no useful purpose to do so. Its like saying we can label anything by any name we like, because we can. Well yes we could but it would defeat the outcome of all evolved language and human communication if we did so. It would also operate counter to how our neurons memorise and tag information, allowing the construction of shared languages.

So for all practica purposes a human god has certain agreed characteristics like a tree or a dog. Now in real life we may encounter an entity that also fits our conceptions of what god is and meets all those paramenters. If we do then we have to decide whether to classify it as a god. I would, just as i would classify an animal i met that was like a dog, as a dog; and a plant i encountered that was like a tree,as a tree. I would be subject to scientific correction in every case, but that is how our minds work. We categorise and catalogue using aquired and commonly understood data and knowledge

Edited by Mr Walker

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With respect thats meaningless, and factually incorrect. God is just a word attached to a concept, but to be "god' it must have an agreed upon value. Otherwise we can call anything a dog and anything a god. And communication becomes impossible.

Our minds and our language operate on the attachment of linguistic labels to real or constructed images. Thus, like "a tree" a constructed or real "god" must have an agreed form /image symbolic meaning.

Are you claiming that dogs, and trees, have not been worshipped as god?

Be careful claiming what is fact, and what is not, MW. Be especially careful in claiming any specific meaning to the word "god".

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Are you claiming that dogs, and trees, have not been worshipped as god?

Be careful claiming what is fact, and what is not, MW. Be especially careful in claiming any specific meaning to the word "god".

No I am trying to explain to you that the english words tree, dog, and god, are ALL just labels used by one language group and then attached to certain agreed physical or constructed entities.

Without a specific clear and common understanding of all words, humans cannot communicate. The word "God" has, and must have for the purposes of communication, a commonly held understanding of what a god is. Of course you can have a different understanding and i can come to understand that understanding, without accepting it. You can call an apple a pear but that does not make it so.

One cannot (usefully or functionally) go around calling a tree a "bryx" or a dog a "ggrac." The labels attach to commonly agreed paramenters and descriptors for all these things. You cant just say a god can be anything/nothing, anymore than you can say a "tree" can be anything or a "dog" can be anything. They are all what we agree that they are.

A "god" must fit the commonly accepted paramenters for a god, just as a tree must, and a dog must.

Otherwise it simply is not a god in human terms, just as something would not be a tree or a dog. A label doesnt make something so; it attaches to the physical characteristics accepted as being that structural entity. It is irrelevant if this is a "real" entity like a tree or an "intellectually constructed entity" like a god. Our mind, language, and memory/thought process, does not distinguish between these things in labelling, and attaching to, them.

We know a tree is a tree, first because of the visual image of the object, but second because of the attached label, plus ancillary data, which represents a tree to us in our mind. So it is with god. For some, god might have no clear visual image, although it will have some form of visual image, because thats how our neurons make first recognition. EG the image might be the very word "god", and nothing else.

But, on one neuron will be stored both the name, and the image of the name(or another image of god). Then, connected to that neuron, will be all the data we know about god. Because all human minds work identically alike, we can transfer and communicate shared understandings not just of a tree but of a god.

But if i satrt calling a tree a grxx then we all have a problem, until i can explain my terminology and own concpetual understandings. Then we comprehend each other, but you will have to translate my "grrxx" into tree and re-attach all your understandings of tree to my new label, to be able to communicate with me.

And yes, of course, given the complexity of human thought and language we have compound constructs. So a tree can be a god, if it possesses, as well as the qualities of a tree, the qualities of a god (like a dryad) and a dog can be a god if it posesses the qualities of a god, (like anubis) as well as those of a dog.

We (or at least I) would recognise both a dryad and anubis should we encounter them, in a book or in real life, because of the accumulated and correlated data in our minds. we would see in them elements of a god and elements of a tree or a dog/jackal.

Edited by Mr Walker

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No I am trying to explain to you that the english words tree, dog, and god, are ALL just labels used by one language group and then attached to certain agreed physical or constructed entities.

Yet the words/concepts 'dog' and 'tree' have also been used synonymously for the concept 'god'.

Without a specific clear and common understanding of all words, humans cannot communicate.

No, MW, what you are attempting to do is to get a consensus agreement on your specific definition of the word "god". Even if we can agree no common definition of that concept, it does not affect our ability to communicate, or our understanding that there is such a concept.

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My point was that the two constructed forms were not compatible. My further point was that the greatest incompatibility lay in their functionality. The philosophers god HAS no useful function and so is very differnt to the god of the bible or any similar god which in its construction has great functionality, and so cannot be its equivalent.

Absolute truth value, or physical reality is an entirely differnt thing and a differnt argument. All constructed forms of god are similar in the way they are constructed but greatly different in the functional aspects of each construct. For example cromagnon man believed that cpaturing animals spirits enhanced his ability to physically capture the real animal. Whether he was correct or not, this belief was sustained by the relationship he saw existing betwen his propitiation of his gods, and the results he achieved.

There was no point in him constructing a nebulous god who served no useful purpose to him . Only in modern times has such a construct really been viable, because it has become an academic or philosophical exercise.

Where gods need to be real, they are constructed as real. Thus the philosophic god is not a human god at all. You can argue that this is my perception or defintion, and that is true up to a point; but it is the same with "a dog." That lable IS a commonly understood one. If i construct a dog with none of the characteristics of a dog, it is not a dog, despite the label i attach to it.

There IS a common longstanding understanding of what a dog is. Step beyond that in your construct, and you have no longer constructed a dog but something else The philosophic construct of a god is that in name only. It has none of the common attacments/ attributes that label defines.

In brief. No one can just construct an entity(with or without material form or self aware purpose) and then say "Oh, that is god" The construction must conform to common expectations of god or it will not be recognised as god.

Non constructed, real, and independently existing entities, including gods if they exist, are a different kettle of fish altogether. They simply are what they are, and we label and categorise them, as we perceive them to be.

I agree with this idea. Only in modern times has the issue of an abstract God really taken off. It is not even the invisibility of that God or the supposed lack of our capacity to determine his existence that is at issue here. This abstract form of God serves a unique purpose and that is to distance oneself from the "Personal God".

The God that we instinctually relate to, needs form and function. It needs a character, a face that we can pin on it. The concept of an abstract God while intelectually pleasing, does not address address the basic human need for a personal and present God.

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I agree with this idea. Only in modern times has the issue of an abstract God really taken off. It is not even the invisibility of that God or the supposed lack of our capacity to determine his existence that is at issue here. This abstract form of God serves a unique purpose and that is to distance oneself from the "Personal God".

The God that we instinctually relate to, needs form and function. It needs a character, a face that we can pin on it. The concept of an abstract God while intelectually pleasing, does not address address the basic human need for a personal and present God.

The god that we need or desire is irrelevant when considering what god may be. This is precisely the point I was at odds with MW about when he said...

Where gods need to be real, they are constructed as real.

Which is a nonsensical statement. A 'constructed god' is just that, and is no more real than Mickey Mouse.

You asked in your OP what god is. I can tell you that god is independent of our image of what god 'should' be, or 'needs' to be.

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You asked in your OP what god is. I can tell you that god is independent of our image of what god 'should' be, or 'needs' to be.

Of course he is independent of our image, we are the ones that need that familiarity, not him. Yet he does also give us what we need, I think. We can only see him in the light that he portrays himself, otherwise, we would feel no affinity to him. The abstract God doesn't speak to us, he has no personality no distinction except as a concept or a formula.

That is not to say that he is limited to that image we have of him, it is merely his tool in regards to us, nothing more.

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