TED Conversations

Bernard White


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Can God be defined?

I find that after debating with many people, many don't have a definition of what "God" is. (For even when you go to a church many people have different definitions ; and not many have a "shared definition".) And I find that many people only list Gods, but (and correct me if I am wrong) that listing gods is just like listing various variations of Meats or dogs, you still haven't told me what a "dog" or a "meat" is! Or for that matter : What "God" is!
Also on the same matter, I am genially interested, what is the definition of "existence"?
Because these two issues are vital to the debate : "Does God exist?"
And I hope this question will be taken in good spirit, and that no offence is taken.

Strongly recommend you join my debate on this ( Can we ever design an experiment which can determine whether God exist or not?) on this link : http://www.ted.com/conversations/17451/can_we_ever_design_an_experime.html


Closing Statement from Bernard White

God mostly only have subjective definitions. (And very few have a "shared (objective) definition" of what "God" is!) And usually reflects the moral code of that individual! (And the society's values).
Yet God does hold many mystical properties, and is sometimes defined as emotions such as "Love", which is dependent on the human mind and relies in all of us.
While others choose to define God as being more of a "Personal God", which is external (independent) to the body, A God of intervention.
And other choose to define God as a more of a Impersonal God, one of pure logic and maths. (If I can say that!)
However I will not comment much more, due to the fact that I have a feeling I would not do a good job of it!
This is my closing comment. :D
Hope you liked it!

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  • Apr 6 2013: Can a quark define a human being? No, it does not have the ability on any level. The problem in trying to define God is found in the limitations of man. To me, any attempt to define God is at root an attempt to elevate the station of man on their own terms. It's been done innumerable times and destined to fall short.
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      Apr 6 2013: So basically your answer is "no" due to the human cognitive ability, and even if we attempt to we will fail.
      And that we can not imagine anything too "powerful" (ect..).
      Playing Devil's Advocate what would you say to "Christian" or "Muslims" who define God as the "eternal all powerful creator, who governs our universe". They have come up with a pretty good definition of their God.
      • Apr 6 2013: I would say that "eternal all powerful creator, who governs our universe" is descriptive rather than defining and the description is only in part. Essentially, I submit that God can not be defined because to define is to limit. Given the example of "all powerful" is One who can not be limited and therefore can not be defined. This is where man's wrestlng with the concept of God continually falls short. In trying to nail Him down within their understanding, they begin weighing someone or something far, far less than He is.
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          Apr 6 2013: Good answer (I liked it!) :D
          Playing Devil Advocate (again :P), you could say God's power was limited, and that "why does God have to be "all powerful". For I feel that you may be going along the same lines of the ontological argument, which I would probably disagree with. (But I won't go into reason why, until you say whether you believe the ontological argument or not!)
      • Apr 8 2013: Many do say that God's power is limited, but I would not be among them. Neither do I rely solely on ontological argument as positive proof of His existence because, as is written in Romans 1, His attributes (and, perhaps to the root of your inquiry, existence) are observable from what He created (though the list of observable attributes is far from all inclusive). At bottom it really does hinge on Faith; not a blind illogical or unreasoned Faith, but a Faith of submission. For like a parent can not do much with a disobedient child, so too are we unworkable in disobedience. In Faith of obedience and submission, He is confirmed; both in reason and logic as well as revealed. This probably does not do much to clarify, but given the space and my limitations it is all I can offer now. Shalom aleichem.
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      Apr 7 2013: I understand what you mean, although a quark has no mind we know of and humans are the most intelligent beings we know in the universe.

      Are you suggesting we imagine something beyond our ability to define, or define it as something limited by definition. That's kind of a definition.

      Could this just be our brains labelling aspects of life and the universe we find it hard to comprehend god, and personifying it?
      • Apr 8 2013: While a quark does not have a mind that we know of, what holds it in place and, more pointedly, why? And to claim that humans are the most intelligent beings we know in the universe purposely refuses to recognize the claims of God and at eh least presumptuous considering that we know so little.

        I would say that the view that essentially holds God as a catchall for things we do not understand is the product of placing none higher than man himself and predicated on the denial of events of [benevolent] Divine revelation. To the former I would say that simply because man is far and away on a higher intellectual plane than what we know is a narrow view, far narrower than the earthcentric view of those opposed to Galileo. To the latter, I would ask how it is that the Faith has endured for so long?
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          Apr 9 2013: What holds us on the surface of the planet? Gravity.
          What binds electrons to atoms? Electromagnetic force.
          Quarks, well I don't know enough about them, but why not natural forces?

          Im not assuming gods or more intelligent aliens dont exist. I'm just saying we don't have compelling evidence for their existence.

          Do you think the existence of a god or goddesses are proven reasonably?
      • Apr 9 2013: I hold that belief in God is more reasonable than disbelief. Science can not explain how anything comes from nothing. But even if hope is held out that it one day will, science can not explain the purpose---the big why? Science can only explain the how. The very concept of existence falls without answering the big why. I say that science is merely the discovery of what God has known from the beginning.

        As to compelling evidence of the existence of God, I believe that the foregoing and my preceding cover that. Perhaps not to your satisfacion, but it is good start. I think the more burdensome proposition is in disbelief.

        To believe in the big bang / evolutionary theory with no underlying purpose for any life at all is hard put to justify itself; and aliens still will not answer pupose nor the any-matter-coming-from-nothing shortcoming (where did aliens come from?). Believe or disbelieve---that is the question put to every one of us. From what I know and have experienced, belief in (and more importantly, submission to) God is the far more reasonable conclusion.
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          Apr 11 2013: Saying a god made the universe doesn't explain who it happened either.

          How did this god do that.


          Where did this god come from?

          You just move the questions about the physical universe back to questions about practically non existent god.

          I don't really get it nunya, how answering a mystery with an even greater mystery actually helps explain anything. How does saying god did it plug a gap in our knowledge when you don't know anything concrete about this god, how it came to exist, and how it made the universe?
      • Apr 11 2013: Do you think the existence of a god or goddesses aren't proven reasonably?

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