The many meanings of God

So, one of the things I have pondered over the years is how when people use the word God, they might mean any of several things

1) A personification of a massively powerful entity, possibly a superuser. Sometimes this entity is also strongly benevolent or wise, and sometimes this entity is .. less than wise, less than benevolent, or both. (I find the Official Christian God ™ to be fundamentally evil, for example). This sometimes coincides with the creator of all things, or a subset of them, who sometimes is a engineer / intelligent designer and sometimes just likes to throw some stuff on the wall to see what sticks

2) The broadcast address i.e. some sort of connection between all living things, or at least a direction one would send messages for all living things. My theory is this is what people who say “Oh, God” during sex are thinking of

3) Similar to the above, a shortcut for $PERSON_OR_GROUP_I_DONT_DIRECTLY_KNOW – for example “Thank God for cell phones” or “Thank God for dogs” both go not to #1 but to a specific group of people working over centuries to make things better

4) A interesting seldom case – infinity itself. This isn’t God (#1), it’s the set of all sets, the collection of all possible strings, the number line. It’s in fact bigger than God (#1) and not even the most powerful superuser can destroy it. In some ways, it forms the bounds of things that not even God (#1) could possibly change, which is a interesting essay that I am not going to try to write because I am not nearly a good enough mathematician to get it right.

There’s some other possibilities, but they’re less pervasive. The reason I was penning this, though, is because I’ve always wondered for the musicians who write “Thank God for the music”, what exactly they are thinking.

One of the problems with a variant of #1 practiced by some religions is that they believe that we can never be the originator of anything good. Thusly, “Thank God for the music” because God is the origin of music but we are not.

However, one thing we know from earlier in the blog is that God can no more be the origin of music than we can, because music is in fact eternal and out of the scope of things which can be created or destroyed. Music is part of the number line. You can *find* music, but you can’t exactly *create* it, although the effort of finding it is in itself sort of a creative work

From my point of view, it’s appropriate to think all four of the above for the music (depending on whether you think #1 exists – but as I’ve also said elsewhere, I find the idea that we’re the biggest and most powerful things in the universe depressing and, to be honest, extremely unlikely. I also find Christianity depressing and extremely unlikely.. see the rest of this blog etc for what I think is really going on. I should probably write more essays about that too.)

I myself think I may start adding this to my liner notes in the future, with my strongest thanks to #3 and #4.

2 Responses to “The many meanings of God”

  1. Firesong Says:

    Intriguing. I agree with your categories, although I hadn’t thought of all of them in so many words before. Man. The way you think… you come at things from so many perspectives.

    When you say you might start adding this to your liner notes, do you simply mean the “Thank God for the music” thing, or are you going to put any of this remarkable explanation there? Without the explanation, many people would misread what you were saying — since if you think in terms of #1, the other possible references don’t come to mind at all — but I think you know that. So I’m curious how much of this you’d put down.

    I really like the ideas of #2 and #3. It makes so much sense. And it’s less clumsy than trying to fill-in-the-blank the way some atheists or agnostics do. Saying “oh god” doesn’t make someone a christian, or even a theist. It’s shorthand. That’s awesome. *hugs* There are so many reasons to like you — but this is definitely one of them. I like that you’re the kind of person who could think of this and want to share it.

  2. Swipes Says:

    I think you know how I feel on this subject, but your writing does make me think of other possibilities which maybe just fit into your ‘less pervasive’ category . Working on my assignments, but the one most directly related to this post feels like it may never be done especially when it takes me to very specific targets instead of being entirely generalized.

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