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What do we really mean when we talk about God?

When we talk about God we are attempting to communicate ideas that have a varying meaning between people, communities, religions etc. If these ideas don't correspond with one another can what we say about God have any meaning other than a personal meaning?

Though I have said God, I of course mean any religious deity and the question might extend to moral and aesthetic statements as well.

The question came up in my philosophy studies and any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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    Mar 3 2011: If you want to be so exact about what we mean by God you are already talking about language and how we percieve the same words differently. Those people who do have a clear picture in their heads could probably not transmit it properly without a very very long explanation, and even then the other person would interpret it differently. Again, the people with a clear idea most likely all have a different one. The problem is when we say God we automatically think inside a box created by a life time of education, we think He is supernatural or above all else or something similar. Someone who's gone mad could tell you his turtle is his God who he obeys and very well mean it. More importantly, even when we have a clear idea we unconsciously interpret and reinterpret it all the time connecting it to other ideas or experiences, and what is curious about the unconscious is that it is what we think or feel but cannot put into language and clearly interpret. This means none of us can ever have a total and complete understanding of even our own conscious thoughts, so much less can we express them.
  • Mar 2 2011: Thanks Ambar for clearing up what I already suspected: that not everybody has a true conception of God, but more a feeling or emotional sense of His presence. However, for the few people who do have, as you put it, "a pure and logical concept of what they mean by God" my question was more about how people can communicate their thoughts on His existence through language?
    Eduard's comment I hope illustrates this point better than my words. If God is some kind of "supenatural spiritual "energy" person", then what concept or meaning do these words actually convey? A mass of energy beyond the cosmos that walks around in anthropomorphic form? Of course not, but arguably the words could be interpreted that way. How can we mean what we think about God?
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    Feb 28 2011: The idea of God involve the idea of supernatural (in any religious view) ...........and God is and supernatural spirtual 'energy' person.
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    Feb 28 2011: There is no single answer to this question because not everyone means the same thing. To some a God is someone they believe in only when its convenient, to others it is their entire life, and to others a way of answering questions we cannot stand not having answers for. I suppose most people in the UK talk about Him unconsciously attaching social conventions and politically correct statement into their speech, which is little less then horrid but what you always find yourself surrounded by when you're in a religious ambient. For the few who actually have a pure and logical concept of what they mean by God, I wish I were them and could possibly understand how you reach the fact there is a God in a logical manner, this meaning most people have not thought "God" through.