One of the first things I notice when the question of God's existence comes up is how very little is discussed as to what God actually IS. It seems to me that if we are to make progress in this debate, we have to take time to actually reconcile our perceptions of what God actually is in order to debate his existence in the first place. In this blog I will present what I believe the concept of God actually IS and why its important to "simplify" our perceptions of God in order to fully appreciate the topic.

What IS God?

How do you differentiate between objects that surround you? How can you tell the difference between a dog and a cat? Simply stated, because dogs and cats have a set of qualities that when "grouped together" allow us to identify them as dogs or cats. You might mention visual characteristics, auditory ones, tactile ones and conceptual ones. Cats are furry, soft and make purring noises among hundreds we could name.

Likewise, God itself must have a group of qualities that define God as well....God. It seems insufficient to simply say that God is "the creator" or "first cause" because those definitions in themselves are not sufficient for us to care about God. God MUST be sentient, he must have a purpose in order for the debate to have any significance to us.

There is ONE safe assumption we can begin with: God is the highest conceivable being to us.

This leads us to the qualities that "make" him the highest being conceivable, and are shared by the more popular monotheistic views of God:

1. God is omnipotent: All-powerful.
2. God is omniscient: All-knowing.
3. God is omnipresent: All-present. (yes, i know 2 and 3 are essentially the same)
4. God is omnibenevolent: All-good.

When grouped together, those 4 "god-like" qualities make up the most very basic concept of God, and thus, the most universal.

When you continue to add more qualities to the group, such as "merciful" or "judging", you end up with God concepts like Jehova and Allah. But, at the very minimum, the concepts must contain the 4 core qualities.

The paradox:

The problem with the ONE God concept is that it is self refuting. This is clearly demonstrated with the following wordplay some have heard before:

Can God create a rock so heavy that he cannot lift?

If he can do either option, he is no longer God. By definition, there is nothing that God cannot do (omnipotent) and thus, God cannot un-God himself.

Eventually reason leads to the obvious: in the end, God is that which is unknowable.

God is unreasonable

And that is why this blog was unnecessary.


Scadilla brought up an interesting point that got me thinking. When we look at popular holy texts, most of them offer the concept of God being ONE. This can obviously be interpreted in many different ways but an omnipresent God suggests that he IS everything. Many faiths share the common theme that in the (our) beginning we were close to God and have become more and more detached from him as time has progressed; eventually reversing the trend and coming back TO him and become one again.

Something to think about. :)

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Comment by Scadilla on February 25, 2009 at 9:02pm
The rock arguments suggests a physical god. It never made any sense to me.
Comment by Art on February 25, 2009 at 10:04pm
It makes sense when you think about the 4 omni's. The "highest conceivable being" with unlimited power could very well have physical properties. His omnipresence suggests that he IS everything...if you want to get philosophical. :)

It can be debated of course. So debate. :)
Comment by Scadilla on February 25, 2009 at 10:26pm
If he is everything then wouldn't he too be the rock? I know it's more of a rhetorical question, but my mind desperately tries to picture a practical approach to the question. I keep picturing a cartoony, Brutus type god lifting a rock that gets infinitely bigger and I know that's just not right, because it contradicts your 4 omnis. If god were real I imagine him being much less tangible. Like radiation. Not visible, but very dangerous at the same time.
Comment by Art on February 25, 2009 at 10:33pm
Exactly Scadilla. I could think of very creative ways to explain the concept but then it would never end. The point is that we CAN imagine the 4-omni's although when rational thought is applied, they do not make any sense. Hence why I wrote that God is the unknowable and unreasonable and once it stops being mysterious - as the concept has for many atheists - it stops being God.
Comment by Chris Britton on February 26, 2009 at 4:46pm
I had kind of a funny thought about "God" being able to "un-God" himself. I agree that the omnipotence of god would make him able to "un-God" himself, but what does that mean? Once he"un-Goded" himself he would no longer be god and thus not possess the ability of omnipotence. So i suppose one with a sense of humor could say that "God" could make a rock that he couldn't lift...but only once =P
Comment by Art on February 26, 2009 at 7:51pm
The point is that if we ever discover some superior being that created us and we realize that he does not have the 4-omni's (as your matrix example), this superior being would not be known as 'God' to us. Why? Because eventually we will come to the realization that we CAN imagine a being that contains the 4 omni's, and hence God would still remain undiscovered...


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