TED Conversations

Tim Colgan


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Who is God?

One thing I've become aware of in these conversations is that TEDsters have many different opinions on who God is. Hopefully this conversation will become a collection of those viewpoints.

Please don't attack other people's ideas. If you want, ask questions for clarification. But be respectful.

And tell us, in your opinion - who is God?

Topics: God religion

Closing Statement from Tim Colgan

To be continued at


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  • Jun 6 2011: That God is a human concept is undeniable. Everything we can talk about is a human concept, including physics and whatever other science you want to discuss.

    What seems to be common about the God concept is that it fills a very specific role: It's that which stands for the singularities about existence. For example, it is impossible for anyone in the universe to have a plan for the universe. Thus God is/has the plan. It is impossible for anyone in the universe to know everything about the universe. But God knows everything. It is impossible to have all power or to be everywhere, so that's just what God has and does.

    So, God is just what we (or anything in existence) cannot be. God is thus fundamentally unknowable. And yet because the definition or derivation of God as "the singularity" is so commonly conceived by most any human mind, God is very commonly recognized and "believed in" and we find it easy to reference God commonly. "There must be a God" most would say, and they are both right and wrong. It's correct that there must be this common concept of God because it is a naturally emergent construct of the human mind doing what it does well. But on the other hand, God can have no "real" existence because God's definition is in effect "that which cannot exist in reality as we know it". Yet, one can just as well say from the same singularity derivation, "God encompasses ALL of existence". God's "nonexistence in reality" and "existence as the entirety" are both correct!

    Believers typically focus on God's nature as the entirety and then anthropomorphize the concept to ease discussing God's expression, i.e. the revelation of the universe to humanity. OK, fine, but this "humanizing" of God is one place where Godness gets on a messy and slippery slope toward confusion. Then of course when God's "will" enters the fray, you're in the realm of pure politics, so watch out!
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      Jun 6 2011: So Guy. Do you think the concept of God has any utility for modern (and future) humanity? Or is it something we should get beyond, like mythology?
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        Jun 6 2011: Although most of the semantic arguments I have been involved have been over the usage of "God" and no question I would enjoy abolishing that word from existence... deity is much better..

        Great response Guy
      • Jun 7 2011: the concept of God as you put it Tim, i can't say if we should or shouldn't get beyond, 'cause actually it's a concept (nothing more) that keeps some people sane. but the utility of 'a concept' to some of us does not substantiate a real existence of it out of the minds of the people who has utilized the concept.
        so what i say is that it is something that we WILL get beyond, slowly, gradually and eventually.

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