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God

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The term God is used to designate a Supreme Being; however, there are other definitions of God. For example:

Table of contents

Etymology

The word God continues Old English/Germanic god (guþ, gudis in Gothic, Gott in modern German). The original meaning and etymology of the Germanic word god has been hotly disputed, though most agree to a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form *ǵhutóm, which is a passive perfect participle from the root *ǵhu-, which likely meant "libation", "sacrifice". Compare:-

The connection between these meanings is likely via the meaning "pour a libation". Another possible meaning of *ǵhutóm is "invocation", related to Sanskrit hūta.

The word God was used to represent Greek theos, Latin deus in Bible translations, first in the Gothic translation of the New Testament by Ulfilas.

Philologically, Gk. theos is said to be akin to Zeus, the chief god in Greek mythology, who has Dios in a genitive form. L. Diespiter means Jupiter, chief god in L. mythology, dies + pater, day + father. In Skr. deva is a god, as derived from the root div, heaven, and diu denoting day, shine and brightness (L. niter).

Capitalization

The development of English orthography was dominated by Christian texts. Capitalized "God" was first used to refer to the Judeo-Christian concept, and may now signify any monotheistic conception of God, including the translations of the Arabic Allah and the African Masai Engai.

In early English bibles, the Tetragrammaton was rendered in capitals: "IEHOUAH" in William Tyndale's version of 1525. The King James Version of 1611 renders

The use of capitalization, as for a proper noun, has persisted to disambiguate the concept of a singular God from pagan deities for which lowercase god has continued to be applied, mirroring the use of Latin deus. Pronouns referring to God are also often capitalized and are traditionally in the masculine gender, i.e. "He", "His" etc.

Names of Gods

Template:Main

The generic term God is the proper English name used for the deity of monotheistic faiths. Different names for God exist within different religious traditions.

History of monotheism

See also monotheism.

The religions widely thought of as monotheistic today are of relatively recent origin historically, although Eastern religions (notably religions of China and India) that have concepts of panentheism are difficult to classify along Western notions of monotheism vs. polytheism, and sometimes have claims of being very ancient, if not eternal.

In the Ancient Orient, many cities had their own local god, but this henotheistic worship of a single god did not imply denial of the existence of other gods. The Hebrew Ark of the Covenant adapted this practice to a nomadic lifestyle, paving their way for a singular God. The cult of the solar god Aten is often cited as the earliest known example of monotheism, but even if Akhetaten's hymn to Aten praises this god as omnipotent creator, worship of other gods beside him never ceased. Early examples of monotheism also include two late rigvedic hymns (10.129,130) to a Panentheistic creator god, Shri Rudram, a Vedic hymn to Rudra, an earlier aspect of Shiva, which expressed monistic theism, and is still chanted today, the Zoroastrian Ahuramazda and Chinese Shang Ti. The worship of polytheistic gods, on the other hand, is seen by many to predate monotheism, reaching back as far as the paleolithic. Today, monotheistic religions are dominant, but other systems of belief still exist.

The existence of God

While belief in God can be considered solely a matter of faith (Fideism), there are also many intellectual arguments for as well as arguments against the existence of God.

Theology

Theology is the study of religious beliefs. Theologians attempt to explicate (and in some cases systematize) beliefs; some express their own experience of the divine. Theologians ask questions such as: What is the nature of God? What does it mean for God to be singular? If people believe in God as a duality or trinity, what do these terms signify? Is God transcendent, immanent, or some mix of the two? What is the relationship between God and the universe, and God and mankind?

Most believers allow for the existence of other, less powerful spiritual beings, and give them names such as angels, saints, Djinn, demons, and devas.

Conceptions of God

Jewish, Christian and Muslim conceptions

Judaism, Christianity and Islam see God as a being who created the world and rules over the universe. God is usually held to have the properties of holiness (separate from sin and incorruptible), justness (fair, right, and true in all His judgments), sovereignty (unthwartable in His will), omnipotence (all-powerful), omniscience (all-knowing), omnibenevolence (all-loving), and omnipresence (everywhere-present).

Jews, Christians and Muslims often conceive of God as a personal God, with a will and personality. However, many medieval rationalist philosophers of these religions felt that one should not view God as personal, and that such personal descriptions of God are only meant as metaphors. Some within these three faiths still accept these views as valid, although many of the laity today do not have a wide awareness of them.

In Eastern Christianity, it remains essential that God be personal; hence it speaks of the three persons of the Trinity. It also emphasizes that God has a will, and that God the Son has two wills, divine and human, though these are never in conflict. The personhood of God and of all human people is essential to the concept of theosis or deification.

Djinn Theory

This brings to light the argument raised in such written works as The Hiram Key that God, or 'the God of Abraham and his fathers' was in that citation the personal God of Abraham's family house. It was traditional in the Mesopotamian, Sumarian and Egyptian regions for each house to have a God (Similar to a Djinn) that would be evoked to protect them. After the fall of Sumer, Abraham travelled to Egypt bringing with him his family God.

Sumerian knowledge of medicine, science and construction engineering was superior to most at that time, so Abraham would have appeared to be exceptionally wise, if not Godlike himself to the people.

Further illustration of the God/Djinn theory arises in the Judeao Old Testament in the light of Moses on Mount Sinai, on arriving the God spoke to him and demanded he take off his shoes, as he was walking on holy ground (Something even a youthful reader of the Arabian Nights saga, or any middle eastern fiction or non-fiction books on Djinns would definitely accertain to be a Djinn attempting to exhibit force over a subject.) whence immediately countered by Abraham with, "What is your name?".

This lies as proof that Abraham thought the entity he was talking to was a Djinn, traditionally through out history the name of an entity gives one power over it, this was in fact Abraham attempting to capture this Djinn. Afterwards he returned from Mt Sinai with instructions to his people of what to melt down the Sacred Calf (Hathor) into, that being the Ark of the Covenant. What entity can be captured and carried in a container? The Supreme Being? Or a Djinn. History would teach us the latter.

Biblical definition of God

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) characterizes God by these attributes: "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6–7)

The Hebrew Bible contains no systematic theology: No attempt is made to give a philosophical or rigorous definition of God, nor of how God acts in the world. It does not explicitly describe God's nature, exemplified by God's assertion in Exodus that "you cannot see my face; for man shall not see me and live". Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible are the words omnipotent, omniscient, or omnibenevolent used to define God in a systematic sense.

Although Scripture does not describe God systematically, however, it does provide a poetic depiction of God and His relationship with people. According to the biblical historian Yehezkal Kaufmann, the essential innovation of Biblical theology was to posit a God that cares about people, and that cares about whether people care about Him. Most people believe that the Bible should be viewed as humanity's view of God, but theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel described the Biblical God as "anthropopathic", which means that one should read the Bible as God's view of humanity, and not as humanity's view of God.

Similarly, the New Testament contains no systematic theology: no attempt is made to give a philosophical or rigorous definition of God, nor of how God acts in the world. The New Testament does, however, provide an implicit theology as it teaches that God became human while remaining fully God, in the person of Jesus, and that he subsequently sent the Holy Spirit. In this view, God becomes someone that can be seen and touched, and may speak and act in a manner easily perceived by humans, while also remaining transcendent and invisible. This appears to be a radical departure from the concepts of God found in Hebrew Bible. The New Testament's statements regarding the nature of God were eventually developed into the doctrine of the Trinity.

Kabbalistic definition of God

Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) teaches that God is neither matter nor spirit. Rather God is the creator of both, but is himself neither. But if God is so different from his creation, how can there be any interaction between the Creator and the created? This question prompted Kabbalists to envision two aspects of God, (a) God himself, who in the end is unknowable, and (b) the revealed aspect of God who created the universe, preserves the universe, and interacts with mankind in a personal way. Kabbalists believe that these two aspects are not contradictory but complement one another.

Quranic definitions of God, i.e. Allah

Main article: Allah

Allah (Arabic allāhu الله) is traditionally used by Muslims as the Arabic word for "God" (not "God's personal name", but the equivalent of the Hebrew word El as opposed to YHWH). The word Allah is not specific to Islam; Arab Christians and Arab Jews also use it to refer to the monotheist deity. Arabic translations of the Bible also employ it, as do the Catholics of Malta who pronounce it as "Alla" in Maltese, a language derived from and most closely related to Arabic, as well as Christians in Indonesia, who pronounce it "Allah Bapa" (Allah the Father).

Many linguists believe that the term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic words al (the) + ilah (male deity). In addition, one of the main pagan goddesses of pre-Islamic Arabia, Allāt (al + ilāh + at, or 'the female deity'), is cited as being etymologically (though not synchronically) the feminine linguistic counterpart to the grammatically masculine Allah. If so, the word Allāh is an abbreviated title, meaning 'the deity', rather than a name. For this reason, both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars often translate Allāh directly into English as 'God' especially the Quran Alone Muslims; however, some Muslim scholars feel that "Allāh" should not be translated, because it expresses the uniqueness of God more accurately than "God", which can take a plural "Gods", whereas "Allāh" has no plural. This is a significant issue in translation of the Qur'an. This also explains why Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians freely refer to God as Allāh.

Most of the 99 names of God found in the Qur'an are not actually names, but attributes. One, however, Al Haq, meaning The Truth, seems to equate to absolute truth as that which cannot be negated. Al Haq is more than a reflection of faith in the existence of The God, and links the concept of God to all creation forever. Thus Allah transcends the prophetic origins of Islam and is thus universal in all time and applies to all existence -- past, present, and future.

Negative theology

Main article: Negative theology.

Some Jewish, Christian and Muslim medieval philosophers developed what is termed as negative theology, the idea of approaching a knowledge of God through negative attributes. For example, we should not say that God exists in the usual sense of the term; all we can safely say is that God is not nonexistent. We should not say that God is wise, but we can say that God is not ignorant. We should not say that God is One, but we can state that there is no multiplicity in God's being.

God as Unity or Trinity

Jews, Muslims, and a small fraction of Christians are unitarian monotheists. The vast majority of Christians have been and still are Trinitarian monotheists stemming from Ancient Egyptian mystery sects.

Hindu Conceptions of God

In Hinduism there are two methods of worship:

  1. To worship God through meditation on an icon (murti).
  2. To worship God without icon worship.

The Ultimate

Arguably, Eastern conceptions of The Ultimate (this, too, has many different names) are not conceptions of a personal divinity, though certain Western conceptions of what is at least called "God" (e.g., Spinoza's pantheistic conception and various kinds of mysticism) resemble Eastern conceptions of The Ultimate.

Aristotelian definition of God

Main article: Aristotelian view of God.

In his Metaphysics, Aristotle discusses the meaning of "being as being". Aristotle holds that "being" primarily refers to the Unmoved Movers, and assigned one of these to each movement in the heavens. Each Unmoved Mover continuously contemplates its own contemplation, and everything that fits the second meaning of "being" by having its source of motion in itself, moves because the knowledge of its Mover causes it to emulate this Mover (or should).

Modern views

Mathematical definitions

Process philosophy and Open Theism definition of God

In both views, God is not omnipotent in the classical sense of a coercive being. Reality is not made up of material substances that endure through time, but serially-ordered events, which are experiential in nature. The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God and creatures co-create. God cannot force anything to happen, but rather only influence the exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities.

Posthuman God

Similar to this theory is the belief or aspiration that humans will create a God entity, emerging from an artificial intelligence. Arthur C. Clarke, a science fiction writer, said in an interview that: It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God, but to create him. This idea is expounded upon in his short story, The Final Query.

Another variant on this hypothesis is that humanity or a segment of humanity will create or evolve into a posthuman God by itself; for some examples, see cosmotheism, transhumanism, technological singularity.

Extraterrestrials

Some comparatively new belief systems and books portray God as Extraterrestrial life. Many of these theories hold that intelligent beings from another world have been visiting Earth for many thousands of years, and have influenced the development of our religions. Some of these books posit that prophets or messiahs were sent to the human race in order to teach morality and encourage the development of civilization.

Phenomenological definition

The philosopher Michel Henry defines God in a phenomenological point of view. He says : « God is Life, he is the essence of Life, or, if we prefere, the essence of Life is God. Saying this we already know what is God, we know it not by the effect of a learning or of some knowledge, we don’t know it by the thought, on the background of the truth of the world ; we know it and we can know it only in and by the Life itself. We can know it only in God. » (That’s me the Truth. Toward a philosophy of Christianity).

References

See also


External links

Retrieved from "http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/God"

This page has been accessed 15874 times. This page was last modified 02:30, 2 Aug 2005. Content is available under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2.


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