On the meaninglessness of the word God

AbrahObscura
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On the meaninglessness of the word God

If you are going to propose something exists, you must also propose the means by which it is intelligible. If you cannot define what it is you are proposing, then the validity of what is denoted becomes meaningless in conversation. This must mean, of course, that a thing must be somehow knowable, which is to say, identifiably different than other things. Something must be known of the object claiming existence, in order to make propositions of existence intelligible. This proceeds the need for proof, because before we can weigh evidence, we need to know what it is we are talking about, and how it is made intelligible. Asking for proof that a 'flabulperbotuck' exists skips over the need for intelligibility.

Likewise, when we talk about the existence of god, we must first ask what it is we are talking about. What attributes does it posses, as surely if it exists, and we KNOW it exists, it needs to be intelligible, that is a revelation must be made and must readily be available to anyone. The first task of all theology should be, first and foremost, defining and making clear what the concept of God actually is. If god is not defined, saying 'God exists' is meaningless.

Our first chore, is to look for the intelligible definition of the God offered to be contemplated. We must first be able to distinguish the concept offered for god, from other things, in order to remove the possibility that god is merely just another word for them. If we say God is nature, that's all well and good, as nature certainly exists, but we lack an reasonable difference in quality to bother to demarcate the words in the first place, other than perhaps an extended vocabulary. In reality, using the term god to denote other things in the world is very common, and leads to a verbal impression that the word by itself has meaning, when in fact it is a game of musical chairs.

To keep true to this chore, theists must come together and agree on what is professed when they say the term God. There are a few things Theism must satisfy in proposition: A) God is something that exists outside the natural empirical world, though he may also be in it. B) God is intelligible and knowable to people, and can be demarcated from imagination.

The most basic proposition concerning God, seems to rest on the claim that god is an immanent aspect of being, that is, intrinsic to reality and woven into the fibers of it. God at this point is represented best as Pantheism, and although Christians might not use the term, it is implicit whenever they identify existence or nature as proof of god. The God of nature, that is acting in the course of natural laws, is indivisible from the concept nature in the first place. If they are taken synonymously, or as evidence for God residing in the intelligibility of natures existence, we might ask the purpose of having a separate term for god in nature in the first place. The god of the attributes of nature, is indivisible and unintelligible from nature itself and it therefor a superfluous term. If we were to posit that God exists while making it intelligibly synonymous with 'Playstation 3', we would realize this is just a trick to confuse the terms of something that does in fact exist and is definable and intelligible with something that isn't. To then expand god's definition to include the Xbox 360, all computers, electronics, electricity, the electromagnetic spectrum and all of existence, is just as silly and deceptive.

We must always assume, for god to have meaning outside of triviality, that there is something supernatural in his being. Finding a being in the universe that is smarter, stronger, & more knowledgeable does not count as 'god' in this respect, because however superior in relation to our own abilities it might be, it is still subject to the natural laws of the universe. The same works with the laws of logic. If god exists in accordance to the laws of, his existence must obey them. If he 'is' the laws of logic, it is trivial to refer to it as god. If he, created the laws of logic, we don't have any idea what a creature would be like, and he becomes unintelligible and unknowable.

Laws, both natural and logical, are limitations on existence and define regularity. Things that exist, have characteristics that define their nature, and their nature is indicative of their capacities for causal action. Xbox 360 doesn't have the ability to play blu-ray discs, and Playstation 3 cannot play the game Gears of war. The action, potential & capacity of a thing is determined by its characteristics; the characteristics determine, in other words, what a thing can or cannot do. Theists, however, in an attempt to give characteristics that only state what it is he CAN do, overlook that characteristics so much as they allow a thing to behave in a certain way, also define what it is the object cannot do. The theistic escape from this is the 'unlimited attribute' , that is, characteristics unbound by the limitations of natural law.

If we say that a creature exists outside of natural law, it cannot possess determinate characteristics in it. The characteristics it would display would impose limits, and limits restrict infinite capacities. Therefor we must then posit god as a being that has no specific (finite) nature, something that is inseparable from nothingness itself. To be something, is to be something specific, hence not nothing. If god is to exist, and to have characteristics, they must be something specific, but, as we have seen, to give something determinate characteristics is to then give it limitations. Ergo, if a thing is to exist outside of physical existence, it must exist without a limited nature which is indivisible from having no nature at all.

I would also like to add a brief treatise on the idea of perfection, as this is how God is described continually. Perfection is a contextually reliant term, and without context is meaningless as the term 'red' would be to denote something that is invisible. Perfection implies that a thing is flawlessly endowed to perform its task, but if you take away the thing or the task, perfection cannot be applied in the same meaningful context. This comes from the common mistake that a word used in the nominal sense makes it a unique entity, when in reality it is a quality to be derived from the situational context of a particular thing and a particular event. As a descriptive quality or attribute perfection cannot be used as a meaningful term without it being used to describe this causal relation.

Now, there is a decent option here for using the term to describe god via positive theology. God expresses perfection in everything it does, though you wouldn't know it from looking at the continued state of the world, but let us give him the benefit of the doubt. In order for God to enact his perfection, he will have to display it, as we said before, in activities in the natural intellibible world. To commit to an activity, itself is to become limited to means, if we psoit that god is limited to means, these means impose a power for which god must manipulate, manipulation implies a lack of coextension, hence there are other powers than god, that god must deal with.

Now, insofar as perfection is limited to activity and means, and hence materials, we must also take time to notice perfection is limited to them. God cannot do perfect things without things to do. But if god does something, or is somewthing in the intelligible logical world, he is limited from doing or being its contradictory state at the same time, place and context. If god can be perfect without activities, this places the definition for perfection out of the intelligible realm, and into the unknown and unidentifiable at best, and at worst nonexistence.


todangst
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Postive theology

Postive theology necessarily fails, as it must steal from naturalism to provide an ontology for 'god'. Even Aquinas was willing to concede that his endeavors were 'mostly negative'.

The only viable option for theists is negative theology: a set of negative traits, without any universe of discourse.

Of course, this leaves them with literally nothing, but nothing is better than an internal contradiction.

 

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

Books on atheism.


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Good post.One of my

Good post.
One of my ambitions in life is to find a way to explain this in a way that average people and non-philosophers can easily grasp.

I would like to offer a small defense for the Pantheistic God though.
I see pantheism as a form of mysticism - the use of metaphors to enrichen one's experience and perception of the world. (after all, we all perceive the same world - whether we perceive beauty or ugliness in it is down to the individual)
The pantheists took the concept of the 'almighty' and the 'divine' and saw that it was life and nature itself that was worthy of such 'worship'. It's kind of like taking the best bits out of religion (the spiritual perspectives) while leaving out the bad. (the wacky claims of supernatural truths)


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Yeah, I try to touch on

Yeah, I try to touch on that here. Essentially, positive claims about God fall in one of two sorts - pantheism, and the unlimited attribute. The unlimikted attribute seems like it mnakes poositive claims, because it does use positive claims, i.e. knowledge, lovingness. However, in reality they are really negative claims, because they are NOT bound by limitations. Objects and attributes, that is existing in such and such a way and doing such and such a thing, are necessarily defined by their capacities, and capacities indicate finite nature. Hence, we arrive at a contradiction of terms, god's nature is the infinite finitude, just as much nonsense as a square circle, and is unintelligible.

 

Negative theology has none of these problems, however, as you pointed out, is flawed because it is inseparable from non-existence itself.