Monday, February 18, 2013

The Top Ten Definitions of God

It's oddly appropriate that the word God is an etymological mystery. The best linguistic guess is that it comes from the Sanskrit hu or the Gothic gheu "to invoke or to sacrifice to". In any case the word seems to have been invented to express the feeling when we no longer have any idea or control over what's going on. Basically, it is a term used to capture what is beyond the limit of our understanding. 

In this light, atheism seems supremely arrogant. However, no honest atheist, believes himself omniscient. He denies, rather, the attempts to redefine God into "the one Supreme Being" or "the creator and ruler of the universe" or "the source of all moral authority"—our current culture's dictionary definitions—or, even more so, the detailed descriptions designed by organized churches. In this light, atheism is seen as an escape from idolatry. 

Compiled here, for atheists, idolators, and all non-omniscient people alike, is a list of the top ten definitions of God. They come from a variety of religious people including atheists, but may vary wildly from the official catechisms of their respective religions. For despite what we may think, we find that adherence to dogma is not much practiced in religion, especially among the clergy and theologians. Apparently, religion is not about belief. 

There is a common ground, however. As German theologian Rudolf Bultmann says, "Why call this dark power ‘God'? Why give the enigma, the mystery that drives us this way and that and hedges us in, any other name but ‘the enigma', or ‘fate'? Or, if there must be a name, why not equally well ‘the devil'? Doesn't this power play a cruel game with us, destroying and annihilating? Is not unfulfillment the distinguishing mark of every life? Is not death and nothingness the end?"

The answer, the common ground, and the reason the word God is used here and not another, is because these definitions come from people who all say, again in Bultmann's words: "And is it not the point, in face of the enigma and the darkness, to insist on the meaning of life with a cry of 'Nevertheless!'?"

So, lighten the coming dreary days of Lenten deprival with an intriguing exploration into unknowable realms. I promise you some surprises—with minimal theology. Think quantum physics without the math. For why would one irrevocably embrace or deny a single definition of God, and miss out on a lifetime of adventure—up until, of course, the final "death and nothingness"?

***Disclaimer Statement***
Unlike many other websites, especially those of large venerated organizations, this website disclaims any special knowledge or authority for discerning God's true identity other than world-disclosure (re: Being and Time, Martin Heidegger).
For any statements made herein, much to our regret and protest, we accept full responsibility, in whole or in part, for any errors, inaccuracies, gains, losses, or injuries incurred (both in this world and the next). Concurrently, the reader must also accept, despite protest, responsibility in whole or in part for any actions taken in response to such statements, including acts of God.
Furthermore, any forward-looking statements or those related to future events are based on current assumptions, and are, therefore, subject to certain risks and uncertainties. A variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control, may cause actual results or performances to be materially or spiritually different than stated.

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