The Real Meaning of God: Rules for the Theological Language Game!

Strafio
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The Real Meaning of God: Rules for the Theological Language Game!

We've often talked about how the theistic God concept is incoherent.
However, God is a meaningful word in our language and most theists kind of know how to use the word God in a consistent-ish way. So what are the rules for the theological language game?
Here's some suggestions:

Rule 1: Divinity
Only good, positive words can be said about God.
Always good sounding words, never bad sounding words.
Remember when we were little and the RE teacher asked something like:
"What does this passage say about God?"
We knew the answer was a good sounding word, it was just a matter of trying to guess which good sounding word they were looking for. The more poetic the good sounding word, the more likely it was to be applauded! Wink

Rule 2: Authority
What God says goes. What God wants happens.
If you want to convince people that something is absolute or something will happen then convince them that God wants it or God says it. If something has happened or is absolute then God must clearly have willed it/said it.

These are all I have so far.
They might be all the rules necessary but I have a nagging feeling that there's something I've missed. I'm look forward to all your suggestions!
I also think that this could lead to a good defense of Spinoza's pantheistic God. Spinoza recognised that the essence of God was in these rules and found that the only concept that fit was nature itself. It certainly convinced Einstein.


todangst
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Strafio wrote: We've often

Strafio wrote:
We've often talked about how the theistic God concept is incoherent.
However, God is a meaningful word in our language

Only if you commit an anthropomorphic error or a naturalistic error, or, most likely, both at once.

However, it is impossible to actually refer to 'god' as a supernatural entity, and since this is the very intent of the word, the word is in fact incoherent.

 

Quote:
and most theists kind of know how to use the word God in a consistent-ish way.

This is absolutely false. They are completely inconsistent.They intend to refer to something beyond nature, but can only refer to a natural, anthropomorphic entity. I cannot fathom a greater inconsistency.

Here's the reality: atheists love to debate theists, and they can't debate if they simply stand by the fact that 'god' is an incoherent term. The atheist is therefore the theist's best friend in debate, giving the theist the ultimate free pass, by allowing him to use an incoherent term in an argument.

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So what are the rules for the theological language game?

 

There can be none. Language games require coherent terms.

 

Quote:

Here's some suggestions:

Rule 1: Divinity
Only good, positive words can be said about God.

Impossible by definition.

 


Quote:

I also think that this could lead to a good defense of Spinoza's pantheistic God. Spinoza recognised that the essence of God was in these rules and found that the only concept that fit was nature itself. It certainly convinced Einstein.

It's entirely atheistic. "God" is nothing more than natural law, and there's no afterlife.

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

Books on atheism.


Strafio
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I am denying straight out

I am denying straight out that supernaturalism is an essential part of the 'god' concept, or at the least that we shouldn't presume it from the start. This is an investigation into the 'grammar' of the word God. Very much in the same style as Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. (which is why I used the terminology of 'language game&#39Eye-wink

An investigation like this starts with no presumptions (e.g. supernaturalism) and looks at the way people use words in order to work the rules we use to apply them and thereby work out the meaning of the words. I think that the two rules I gave hold true for all monotheistic gods.

Theists carry on to claim that such a God must be supernatural.
Pantheists carry on to claim that such a God must be the natural world itself. Atheists might claim that no concept can fit. (an error theory claim)


Tilberian
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Rule #3: Spiritual I don't

Rule #3: Spiritual

I don't think you can discuss god without refering to an etheral, immaterial being that isn't walking around bumping into walls the way the rest of us do. Which kind of brings us back to what Todangst was saying.

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


Strafio
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I'm not convinced that the

I'm not convinced that the spiritual part is absolutely essential. Bear in mind that this is the same God of the deists and pantheists too so he doesn't have to be personal. Then again... I guess maybe many people would deny rule 1 as well.

Lol! I've a nasty feeling that the only way I could settle this would be to do some proper empirical research, and I'm probably too lazy for that! Laughing


todangst
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Strafio wrote: I am denying

Strafio wrote:
I am denying straight out that supernaturalism is an essential part of the 'god' concept,

 

Quote:

An investigation like this starts with no presumptions (e.g. supernaturalism) 

Well then, as soon as you get around to "supernatural' the parade comes to an end.

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

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Strafio
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Perhaps things would be

Perhaps things would be clearer if I stated my motivations in making this topic. I want to build a collection of the various rules people use to apply the term God. (even if these rules contradict each other)
From there, I would be able to open theistic debates like this:

"It seems to me that God doesn't have a coherent concept.
This is the way you use the term God.
It seems to me that God is just a code-word for 'nice things' and 'authority'. If not, what do you mean by God?"

A kind of semi-strawman in order to provoke thought into what they actually mean by God and how they use the word. I thought that it would be a good way to open a challenge to them. (the Spinozian Pantheist bit was just thrown in off topic)

Tiberian's Rule 3 applies to most theists I'd be arguing with so I think I'll include it after all. If they're one of the minority that don't they could always deny it.


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Strafio wrote: An


Strafio wrote:
An investigation like this starts with no presumptions (e.g. supernaturalism) and looks at the way people use words in order to work the rules we use to apply them and thereby work out the meaning of the words.

So we define the meaning of words by how people use them? I disagree.

Sure, new meanings for existing words arise, but in different contexts. It’s an fallacy to transport the meaning of one use, to the context of another (e.g. ‘atheism’, ‘faith’ and ‘theory’ all being good examples). And I don’t think error and misconception should be classed as a ‘new meaning’; it should be classed as ‘an error’.I do think studying the way people use words is an interesting area of inquiry, but we shouldn’t then state "because X is commonly defined as Y, Y is the definition of X”. There are other issues to consider, such as context.

There is a different between what people think words and concepts mean, and how they use them, to what they actually mean, and how they should actually be used.

Strafio wrote:
Theists carry on to claim that such a God must be supernatural.

It follows from the claim, as it necessarily must. If the god is a creator god, he must be, by definition, outside of his creation; he must ‘exist’ independent from his creation, otherwise, he could not be responsible for its creation. (Which is one reason why negative theologians say god, if he created existence, must ‘exist’ outside/beyond existence… whatever that means?) Anything outside of the universe, and thus nature, is by definition supernatural. It makes no sense to talk of a creator god that isn’t supernatural. And it makes no sense at all to talk of a god if not to act as creator (what other purpose is he for?)

But now the theist has a further problem… a god existing inside the universe would be a natural being and cannot be a creator god, so god must be outside of the universe. But if god is outside the universe, he is outside of space and time. Yet time is a measure of change, so without time we have no change, without change we have no action and thus no creator, no nothing. This god is rendered impotent to do anything at all. This of course assumes he is contingent on time, which an omnipotent being cannot be, so now god can ‘act’ and ‘do stuff’ outside of time (!)… so now were left with utter absurdity, a nonsensical concept, so the theist is still wrong for talking about god at all.

So I agree with todangst… when we talk of god we must refer to supernaturalism, beyond nature, and therefore incoherence and absurdity. Any attempt to resolve this simply pushes the same problem, one step back.

Strafio wrote:
Bear in mind that this is the same God of the deists and pantheists too so he doesn't have to be personal.

I think the theistic/deistic god and the pantheistic god are entirely separate. The theistic/deistic god is essentially the same – a creator god and thus supernatural. The deistic god simply lacks the framework of the theistic one.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Topher wrote: So we define

Topher wrote:
So we define the meaning of words by how people use them? I disagree.

The point of this investigation is to find out what they mean by the term as the meaning of their version is of interest to us. It is also common in philosophy when investigating a topic to investigate the meanings of the words involved. Wittgenstein's main philosophy was that to understand the true meaning of a word was to see how it was used.


Quote:
It’s an fallacy to transport the meaning of one use, to the context of another (e.g. ‘atheism’, ‘faith’ and ‘theory’ all being good examples).

Ofcourse. That would be equivocating.

Quote:
I do think studying the way people use words is an interesting area of inquiry, but we shouldn’t then state "because X is commonly defined as Y, Y is the definition of X”. There are other issues to consider, such as context.

Hmmm... I'm thinking you took the title of this topic a little too seriously. Smile
The aim was to look at the ways people used the God concept.
I wasn't serious about redefining the 'real meaning' of the word God.

Quote:
And it makes no sense at all to talk of a god if not to act as creator (what other purpose is he for?)

I disagree. That's partly why I made this topic.
God is also associated with the concepts of divinity and authority.
That's probably why Spinoza still thought he had a god-concept when he took the 'personality' and 'creator' out of the equation.

Quote:
But now the theist has a further problem… a god existing inside the universe would be a natural being and cannot be a creator god, so god must be outside of the universe.

I still think that a 'God of the sims' can fit this criteria.