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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.

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