Thank you for your very interesting question.
In the open terms it has been formulated, I understand that it can
only be answered properly by assuming a neutral point of view,
considering the fact that humanity has not yet reached -- if ever -- a
universal agreement about the nature of god, or even of its existence.
Instead, there are many distinct conceptions of what god is. Had
humanity attained a consensus on one sole conception of god, one sole
answer would respond your question. Being not so, to give you just one
answer would imply my picking up a particular conception -- most
likely the one I stand for -- expand on it, and cite the authoritative
sources that support it. Now, in order to remain neutral, an
appropriate answer will include not one but several answers to the
question "what is god?", and this is what I will attempt -- if not for
every single existing notion of god (what is an impossible task), at
least for their fundamental roots, of which many particular
conceptions are often nuances (from an external perspective, from the
inside sometimes those "nuances" prompt bitter schisms). Also to
attain as much objectivity as possible, I will not -- except when
quoting -- capitalize the word god, neither the pronouns referring to
*it* -- being *it* the one I'll use, assuming no preconception
whatsoever regarding gender or whether god is a person with conscience
of self or not. For the sole purpose of answering this question and
with no intend of offense whatsoever, I'll treat the notion of god as
an object of study.
The broadest distinction is, obviously, between believers and
non-believers -- understanding that stating that "something" does (or
might) not exist implies a notion of what that "something" *is* all
the same. [This is an unavoidable ontological issue. For instance, the
unicorn does not *exist*, but it still *is* an animal, a fictional
one, yes, but it *is not* a fictional machine -- thus, we can tell
between a unicorn and a teleporter, despite none exists.]
Now, naturally, the widest variety of conceptions of god lies on the
side of the believers -- let's start from there.
In the beginning, god was many... OK, I'm playing with words here -- I
mean not "the beginning" as the moment before creation, but a much
later moment: the beginning of religion. In other words, in olden
times your question would have made no sense for most unless in plural
-- "what are gods?" -- because, unlike our times, the rule was
polytheism, the belief in various gods and goddesses. I chose to begin
with this conception of god firstly because it's in the very origin of
the idea of god. However, one may think that I could have let it go,
given that in our times we're used to assume a monotheistic
conception. But, surprisingly or not, even though not being the
mainstream now as it was in ancient times, polytheistic beliefs are
still alive, and growing. Then, let's start by asking "what are gods?"
or, if you prefer, "what is *a* god or a goddess, a deity?"
According to the article "An understanding of polytheism"
(http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/traditions/polytheism.html ) by
Jenny Blain (MA; PhD; Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Social
Science and Law, Sheffield Hallam University), at the website of the
Association of Polytheist Tradition
(http://www.manygods.org.uk/index.html ), a deity "is experienced and
acknowledged as an independent, individual personality". Deities "are
experienced as complex personages. Many have particular skills or
abilities but are not restricted to these. A goddess is unlikely to
be, for instance, simply a 'goddess of grain' or a 'goddess of
weaving', although she may have particular interest in these areas,
just as a human musician is also a member of a family and a community,
visiting shops and participating in political debates."
In the same website, there is an article by Arlie Stephens "Deity and
Humanity in Modern Heathenism"
(http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/deity/index.html ). In its
section "Nature of Deities"
(http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/deity/deities.html ) it
reads that deities "have individual traits and individual
relationships" (...) "they are capable of thought, of feeling, of
learning and changing with experience. They compromise. They change
their minds, and adapt to new situations" (...) "they don't have many
of the ordinary concerns of human beings, nor the limitations that
give rise to those concerns (...) appear to be incorporeal, and
capable of interacting with individuals in many locations at the same
time." (...) "are relational and consultative (...) form relationships
with each other (...) [and] with human beings, both individually and
collectively" and also take unilateral decisions that later may revise
(...) "Deities are powerful, but not omnipotent. They can do things no
human could possibly do. But there's plenty they can't do, and they
seem, like humans, to have to choose where to allocate their efforts,
rather than doing everything they'd like to do." (...) "Deities did
not create the universe" instead they "arose and became active at the
same time as the rest of the universe, not before."
In Wikipedia's entry "Deity" it reads "A deity or a god is a
postulated preternatural[*] being, usually, but not always, of
significant power (...) commonly assumed to have personalities and to
possess consciousness (...) Some deities are asserted to be the
directors of time and fate itself, to be the givers of human law and
morality, to be the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, and
to be the designers and creators of the Earth or the universe. Some of
these 'gods' have no power at all?they are simply worshipped."
([*] The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside
or beyond (Latin praeter) the natural. -
Also in Wikipedia, in the entry Polytheism reads:
"In polytheistic belief systems, gods are conceived as complex
personages of greater or lesser status, with individual skills, needs,
desires and stories. Usually such gods are not omnipotent or
omniscient; rather, they are often portrayed as similar to humans in
their personality traits, but with additional individual powers,
abilities, knowledge or perceptions."
We are dealing with a universe of literally thousands of gods and
goddesses that have been worshipped by countless polytheistic cultures
throughout history, and trying to find a common notion that fits them
all. While we must acknowledge the inherent difficulty of such an
attempt, with the help of the sources quoted we may risk to say that,
from a polytheistic perspective, gods and goddesses are individual
beings with unique personalities, whose existence mostly take place in
a realm distinct from the ordinary world -- while at their will they
can merge among humans -- typically with powers beyond human capacity
but restricted to determined areas and or regions, not omnipotent.
They are wiser than humans but not omniscient, and can make mistakes
-- they are not perfect. They are typically immortal but not eternal
-- some time in the past, they were born or created. Mostly
incorporeal, they can assume the aspect of a human, animal or object
if they want to. They influence human lives at their will. They're
passionate and may have conflicts, as much as friendships, love
affairs and preferences among each other and with humans. They do not
necessarily provide moral guidance. Some do not even have special
supernatural powers. Even certain human beings could be believed to be
gods and worshipped -- such as the Egyptian pharaohs. The common
characteristic of all gods in polytheistic beliefs is that for some
reason that culture considers them worthy of worship.
It's most common that wherever there is a group, eventually there'll
be a chief -- and that goes for gods too. For example, Zeus was Greek
gods' leader, Jupiter for the Romans', Odin in Germanic tradition. The
leading god may be the strongest, the bravest, the wisest. Typically
superior than the others in several virtues, often acts as a judge
between them, provides punishment and reward, and sometimes brings
order to human debacles. In some religions this special god's
importance is -- or becomes -- so relevant compared to the others that
the religious attitude behind is of a different nature than that of
polytheism. It is called henotheism, and it is defined as the
"devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods"
(henotheism in Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henotheism ).
I think that expanding a bit on henotheism will be of help to
understand the nature of god, i.e. "what is god?". It's quite a common
place in scholarly religious studies that present monotheistic
religions evolved from ancient polytheistic ones, going through a long
henotheistic transition. Moreover, some scholars think that many
alleged monotheistic religions are rather henotheistic or, at least,
hold henotheistic aspects.
For example, a good part of the Judeo-Christian tradition conceives a
trinitarian god formed by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
considered one god in three persons. There are many different views on
how is the interaction of this trinity, but the core idea is that they
are distinct persons who love each other, exist in harmony and
converge in one common will. Some experts see in the origin of these
conceptions a remnant of the henotheistic transition from a
preexisting polytheistic belief.
Ancient Judaism (the acknowledged common root of ongoing Judaism,
Christianity and Islam) originated in a time and geographic area
populated by cultures in transition from polytheist beliefs to a new
mysticism of one sole god -- this change was an intercultural trend of
that epoch. Possibly, spiritually concerned individuals of that time
began to feel no longer satisfied by the superhuman-like but limited
deities of ancient traditions, and started to search for deeper
notions that could better explain the mysteries of existence, and
provide moral guidance. Monotheism was being begotten in Persian
Zoroastrianism as much as in the Egypt of Akhenaten -- the pharaoh who
established the worship of Aten.
In these early steps to monotheism, the trinitarian conception of god
was a topic frequently present, though in different forms.
Zoroastrians had the trinity Ahura Mazda, Agni and Mithra (see
Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahura ); the Egyptian
monotheistic attempt by pharaoh Akhenaten -- the cult of Aten, the
"solar disk" representing the life-giving energy and the creator, cult
that didn't survive his reign -- had the trilogy of Aten, himself and
his wife Nefertiti, both as actual god and goddess (see Maati.org at
http://www.maat.sofiatopia.org/aten.htm ). According to the document
Devotion in the same website "all direct contact via personal piety is
absolished - only Akhenaten stands between the Aten and this world -
the rest of humanity can only worship the holy trinity"
[abovementioned] (http://www.maat.sofiatopia.org/devotion.htm ).
Also, Hinduism has a trinitarian conception for a sole god. According
to Wikipedia's entry "Trimurty", "the Trimurti (also called the Hindu
trinity) are three aspects of God, or "Parabrahman," in God's personae
as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva."
"Swami Sivananda, in his book, All about Hinduism, noted that 'Brahma
represents the creative aspect; Vishnu, the preservative aspect; and
Siva, the destructive aspect of Paramatman.'"
If you wish to learn further about the trinitarian conception of god,
may I suggest you Wikipedia's entry "Trinity"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity ) and Religion Facts' "The
Doctrine of the Trinity"
Please allow me a hypothesis of my own. We may suppose that the notion
of gods who are super-powerful compared with humans, and yet not
omnipotent but specialized in particular areas, must have been more
graspable than that of an all-comprehensive sole supreme being,
omnipotent, omniscient and creator of the universe. Polytheism seems a
mysticism by parts, where each god reigns on shares of the existing
matters. Trinitarian conceptions of god might have been the result of
an intellectual and spiritual effort to find the basics of those parts
and assemble them in a whole. (Just a hypothesis to think over, please
do not take it for actual information).
In any case, in the long run monotheism did overthrow polytheism as
the dominant religious choice -- and took its place, which it still
holds -- be it by evolution, persuasion or imposition. Now, maybe the
clearest common aspect between (or remnant of) polytheism and the most
generalized monotheism is the notion of a personal god, i.e. a god
with a personality, with a will of its own. This leads us to the
different coexisting conceptions of a monotheistic god.
The monotheist conception with which we're most familiar in Western
culture is the one arisen and spread over the planet by what are
called "Abrahamic religions", which include Judaism, Christianity,
Islam, and all their derivatives from Bahá'í Faith to Rastafari
movement, among others. Despite the deep differences among these
religions -- and also acknowledging that there are many Christian and
Islamic sects -- typically they all believe that god is a *person*
(including the idea of a trinitarian person, when applicable). This
implies that god has a personality, a "self" and conscience of self;
will, reason, emotions and desires; is capable of feeling love,
jealousy and even hatred. (See for jealousy: Exodus 20:4-5 says, "You
shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of
anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or
that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them
nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..." quoted
at Questions About God - http://www.gotquestions.org/jealous-God.html
. Also, on hatred see Prov. 6:16-19, "There are six things which the
Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: (17) Haughty
eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, (18) A heart
that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, (19) A false
witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers."
quoted at Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry -
Besides its being a personal god, this conception includes other
characteristics or attributes. Among the many descriptions of these
attributes I have reviewed, I found particularly clear and well
explained the one written by Jay P. Taylor, Director of Spiritual
Formation at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminaries
(http://www.agts.edu/ ), in his article "The Doctrine of God"
), of which I've excerpted the list of attributes (pages 3 through 8)
and some of the explanatory phrases:
"1. God is Incomprehensible yet Knowable
* He can?t be known completely, but he can be known truly.
2. God is Self-Existent
* God exists totally within himself; he is autonomous (Ex. 3:14; 6:3).
* Unlike creation, his existence is not dependent upon anything or anyone else.
3. God is spirit
* God does not have a physical body; He is not composed of material substance
* He is not confined to a material body (immaterial) (John 4:24).
* He doesn't possess any of the properties belonging to matter that
are perceivable through the senses (eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc.).
* Since he is spiritual (without form and matter) he is invisible (Lk. 24:39;
Jn. 1:18; 1 Tim. 1:17, 6:15-16).
4. God is personal
* God is not an impersonal force (like Pantheism or Hinduism would hold).
* He has a personality, and is capable of experiencing emotions.
* God speaks, loves, hates, cares, and has emotion.
* This kind of a belief in a personal God is known as ?theism.?
5. God is unity
* Numerically, there is only one God, and so He is indivisible.
* The Trinity makes up 1 God.
* Humans are a composite of many factors: Physical, mental, social, spiritual, etc.
* The Lord our God is one God (I Kings 8:60)
6. God is transcendent
* God goes beyond our known earthly existence.
* He is set apart, or ?other than? his creation.
* Before he ever created the world and man, God existed.
7. God is immanent
* Immanence refers to God?s presence and involvement with his creation.
* Immanence speaks of God?s nearness or presence--He is not far from any of us.
* He is near at hand and interacts with His creation.
* Some people don't have a proper balance between immanence & transcendence.
* They are confused on the spatial nearness of God.
* Consequently, they see no distinction between God and his creation.
* This results in Pantheism (the belief that everything is God, even oneself).
8. God is Infinite
* God is infinite, or free from limitation (2 Chron. 2:6).
a. God is not limited by time--He is eternal
b. God is not limited by space--He is omnipresent
c. God is not limited by knowledge--He is omniscient
d. God is not limited by power--He is omnipotent
e. God is not limited by imperfection--He is perfect
9. God is Constant (Immutable)
* The nature of God does not change.
* To change would be to become better or worse, and since he is
perfect, he doesn?t need to change--there can be neither improvement
I've found it particularly important for the purpose of your question
the attribute of god being "spirit", which refers to what god is "made
of", so to speak, for those who share this belief, but also for
distinct conceptions that differ in other attributes -- particularly
those that believe in a non-personal, yet spiritual, god. The article
also addresses some of other conceptions, that we will see next,
including deism, pantheism, and even atheism and agnosticism,
explaining them brief, clear and accurately -- from a Christian critic
perspective, though. The complete reading of the fourteen pages
articles is, in my opinion, highly recommendable.
Now, religions that have in common the belief in one sole god, differ
about its attributes. There are religions that conceive an impersonal
One of the most representative branches of Hinduism, Advaita Vedanta,
has the concept of Brahman, "the Supreme Cosmic Spirit (...) the One,
the whole and the only reality. Other than Brahman, everything else,
including the universe, material objects and individuals are false.
Brahman is at best described as that infinite, omnipresent,
omnipotent, incorporeal, impersonal, transcendent reality that is the
divine ground of all Being. It (...), though not a substance, is the
basis of the material world, which in turn is its illusionary
transformation. Brahman is not the effect of the world. Brahman is
said to be the purest knowledge itself, and is illuminant like a
source of infinite light." (Advaita Vedanta in Wikepedia -
For Advaita Vedanta, there is however a personal manifestation of
Brahman, Ishvara, to understand which we need to understand Maya
first. "M?y? is that complex illusionary power of Brahman which causes
the Brahman to be seen as the distinct material world. It has two main
functions ? one is to 'cover up' Brahman from the human minds, and the
other is to present the material world in its stead. M?y? is also
indescribable. It is neither completely real nor completely
unreal?hence indescribable. Its shelter is Brahman, but Brahman itself
is untouched by the profanity of M?y?, just like a magician is not
tricked by his own magic. M?y? is temporary and is destroyed with
'true knowledge'." (Advaita Vedanta in Wikepedia -
So then, "Ishvara (... the Supreme Lord) ? when man tries to know the
attributeless Brahman with his mind, under the influence of Maya,
Brahman becomes the Lord. Ishvara is Brahman with Maya ? the
manifested form of Brahman. (...) The Supreme Lord is true only in the
pragmatic level ? his actual form in the transcendental level is the
"Ishvara is Saguna Brahman or Brahman with innumerable auspicious
qualities. He is all-perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, incorporeal,
independent, Creator of the world, its ruler and also destroyer. He is
causeless, eternal and unchangeable ? and is yet the material and the
efficient cause of the world. He is both immanent (like whiteness in
milk) and transcendent (like a watch-maker independent of a watch). He
may be even regarded to have a personality. He is the subject of
worship (...) Ishvara can also be visualized and worshipped in
anthropomorphic form as deities such as Vishnu, Krishna or Shiva."
(Advaita Vedanta in Wikepedia -
A perhaps more radical conception is that of Tao:
"The tao that can be described
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be spoken
is not the eternal Name.
"The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of creation."
"It is hidden but always present.
I don't know who gave birth to it .
It is older than the concept of God."
"Its highest is not bright.
Its depths are not dark.
Unending, unnamable, it returns to nothingness.
Formless forms, and image less images,
subtle, beyond all understanding.
"Approach it and you will not see a beginning;
follow it and there will be no end."
"Since the beginning of time, the Tao has always existed.
It is beyond existing and not existing."
"The Tao gives birth to all of creation.
The virtue of Tao in nature nurtures them,
and their family give them their form.
Their environment then shapes them into completion."
Excerpts from: Tao Te Ching - Written by Lao-Tzu; a translation for
the PUBLIC DOMAIN by J. H. McDonald; 1996
The Tao Te Ching is an ancient Chinese scripture attributed to Lao
Tse, dated between centuries VI to IV before JC. "Tao" is usually
translated as "the path", "te" as virtue (but in the sense of the
etymological Latin virtus = strength or power, rather than moral), and
"ching" as treatise, essay of book. So, the most common translation is
"book of the path and its virtue", while I prefer the title of Ursula
K. Le Guin's version "Book about the Way & the Power of the Way". The
notion of tao is so radically abstract and impersonal that even the
word god is avoided -- nevertheless, it is clear that it refers to
some sort of supreme being.
The Buddhist conception goes maybe even farther. While for many
believers the idea of a godless religion sounds like a contradiction
in terms, many Buddhist sects would claim that that is what they are
-- others, though, wouldn't claim to be a religion nor a philosophy,
but just a path to follow, a practice for the sake of self-awakening.
I asked a colleague of mine, the outstanding GA researcher
digsalot-ga, who happens to be a Shin Buddhist, if he would like to
let me know a Buddhist idea of god that he stands for. He kindly sent
me this excerpt from the website The Living Dharma:
"Buddhists don't concern themselves about God or god(s). Buddhists
concern themselves with the Dharma, which is not a god or gods. It is
'truth' or 'reality'. Thus, when sad or tragic events occur in our
lives or the lives of our loved ones - as they inevitably will -
Buddhists don't have to ask 'Why did this happen?' This is because
Buddhists don't hold onto the belief that there is a god 'looking out'
for his or her welfare. Buddhism is really an attitude of accepting
the inevitable changes or impermanence of life, and of being grateful
for every moment we are alive."
(http://www.livingdharma.org/Misconceptions.html ) [Shin Buddhism is
originary from Japan].
Also, digsalot-ga shared with us his own thought about it, which I
consider very pertinent:
"A God or gods are of no importance to us. We do not believe in a
'created universe' nor do we see the need for any kind of creator.
That which is divine and that which is mundane are one and the same
and have both existed forever. Even 'Big Bang' theory for the origin
of this particular manifestation of 'a' universe, states that before
this manifestation came about, the universe existed as a 'singularity'
or 'quantum event' of some kind. But regardless, it did exist in some
form or other, and before that, and before that.
"There is also the Buddhist concept of infinite universes, infinite
worlds, and infinite sentient beings. Not all is confined to this
particular universe, galaxy or world.
"Once again, the spiritual did not create the physical and the
physical did not create the spiritual. Both have existed forever and
neither is responsible for the existence of the other. Both are one
and the same. We do not have the dualism of creator and created, of
divine and mundane, of spiritual vs. physical." (Thank you, digs :)
A more assertive notion of an impersonal god is that of Western
"deism", which "holds that God is wholly transcendent: God exists, but
does not intervene in the world beyond what was necessary for God to
create it. In this view, God is not anthropomorphic, and does not
literally answer prayers or cause miracles to occur. Common in Deism
is a belief that God has no interest in humanity and may not even be
aware of humanity." (God in Wikipedia -
"Historical and modern deism is defined by the view that reason,
rather than revelation or tradition, should be the basis of belief in
God. Deists reject both organized and revealed religion and maintain
that reason is the essential element in all knowledge. For a "rational
basis for religion" they refer to the cosmological argument (first
cause argument), the teleological argument (argument from design), and
other aspects of what was called natural religion. Deism has become
identified with the classical belief that God created but does not
intervene in the world, though this is not a necessary component of
deism." (Deism in Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism )
"The classical view of an impersonal and abstract God has caused many
to claim that deism is 'cold' and amounts to atheism. Deists maintain
that the opposite is true and that this view leads to a feeling of awe
and reverence based on the fact that personal growth and a constant
search for knowledge is required.
"The term deism was created by eighteenth century deists to draw
attention to their affirmative belief in a God." (Deism in Wikipedia -
Another conception of god is that one that considers that everything
is god. "Pantheism (Greek: pan = all and Theos = God) literally means
'God is All' and 'All is God'. It is the view that everything is of an
all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and
God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the
idea that natural law, existence, and the universe (the sum total of
all that is, was, and shall be) is represented or personified in the
theological principle of 'God'." (Pantheism in Wikipedia -
Regarding the criterion of a personal or impersonal god, among
pantheists there are both. "Classical pantheism believes in a
personal, conscious, and omniscient God, and sees this God as uniting
all true religions. Naturalistic pantheism believes in an unconscious,
non-sentient universe, which, while being holy and beautiful, is seen
as being a God in a non-traditional and impersonal sense." (Pantheism
in Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism#Debate )
Close to a pantheist idea of god, but subtly different, "Panentheism
(Greek words: pan=all, en=in and Theos=God; 'all-in-God') is the view
that God is immanent within all Creation or that God is the animating
force behind the universe. Unlike pantheism, panentheism does not mean
that the universe is synonymous with God. Instead, it holds that there
is more to God than the material universe. In panentheism, God
maintains a transcendent character, and is viewed as both the creator
and the original source of universal morality." (Panentheism in
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism ) In other words,
the panentheistic god includes the material existence which is
A notion of god associated with pantheism -- in my opinion, rather
incorrectly -- is cosmotheism, developed in the 20th century, which
considers that god does not precede existence and humans, but that is
rather a consequence of natural evolution and the purpose of humans.
Notably, there are two exponents of distinct cosmotheisms -- one is
Israeli Mordekhay Nesiyahu, and the other, the American Nazi Party
member William Luther Pierce:
"In modern Israel, Cosmotheism was described by Mordekhay Nesiyahu,
one of the foremost ideologists of the Israeli Labor Movement and a
lecturer in its college Beit Berl. He felt that God was something
which did not exist before man, and was a secular entity which the
rebuilding Jewish Temple in Jerusalem has an instrumental role in
In the 20th century United States, William Luther Pierce, a white
nationalist associated with the American Nazi Party and founder of the
National Alliance also utilized the term 'Cosmotheism'. In his eyes
(...), God would be the end result of eugenics and racial hygiene
(See: Nazism, Francis Galton and Theosophy)." (Pantheism in Wikipedia
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism#Cosmotheism )
These ideas get us close to a set of conceptions of a "posthuman god",
that is a god that emerges as a consequence of human evolution and
technological development. I find particularly audacious the one
called omega point:
"Omega point is a term invented by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to
describe the ultimate maximum level of complexity-consciousness,
considered by him the aim towards which consciousness evolves. Rather
than divinity being found 'in the heavens' he held that evolution was
a process converging toward a 'final unity', identical with (...) God.
"Omega point is reprised by the mathematical physicist Frank J. Tipler
to describe a hypothetical cosmological scenario in the far future of
the Universe. According to his omega point theory, as the Universe
comes to an end (...) the computational capacity of the Universe will
be accelerating exponentially faster than time runs out. In principle,
a simulation run on this Universe-computer can thus continue forever
in its own terms, even though the Universe the computer is in lasts
only a finite time.
Tipler identifies this (...) state of infinite information capacity
with God. The implication of this theory for present-day humans is
that this ultimate cosmic computer will essentially be able to
resurrect ('simulate' might be a more modest verb) everyone who has
ever lived, by recreating all possible quantum brain states within the
master simulation. This will be manifested as a simulated reality,
except without the necessity for physical bodies. From the perspective
of the simulated 'inhabitant,' the Omega Point represents an
infinite-duration afterlife, which could take any imaginable form due
to its virtual nature." (Omega point in Wikipedia -
What I find most impressive in this conception is both its audacity
and its being a scientific theory!
Not in the same scientific rank but also interestingly audacious is
Joel Schlecht's idea of the god particle. Departing from the Big Bang
theory of the origin of our universe, and as this theory assumes that
the universe exploded from an infinitesimal particle, Schlecht deduces
that this primigenial particle is god.
So far, we have gone through a wide panorama of the different
conceptions of god as existing (except for Buddhists who are not
concerned about it) and being good, but there are those who believe
that god exists and is evil:
"Dystheism is the belief that there is a God that does exist and that
this God is evil, or at best not wholly good.
"They say that an omnipotent creator whose creation includes things
that are evil is responsible for the existence of that evil, and is
thus evil himself, since an omnipotent could have chosen otherwise.
The assumption is that omnipotence would allow this creator to create
a world without evil, thus it must have been a free choice the creator
made to include evil in the creation. In other words, the presence of
evil in the world indicates to dystheists that inherent goodness is
not an innate quality of the universe or its creator, and in fact it
indicts the creator as having made a deliberately evil choice."
(Eutheism, dystheism, and maltheism in Wikipedia -
Finally, we'll explore what those who don't believe in god's existence
think that god is:
"For atheists god is an imagination." (International League of
Non-religious and Atheists; article "Humanism in Action: The Work of
Gora and the Atheist Centre in India by Ratna Holopainen;
"God is man idealized." Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
"God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of
intellectual thought. It's as simple as that." (Joseph Campbell,
"Most people do not understand the word god is not the name of
anything other than a concept, an idea in people's minds."
(Thomas Vernon, quoted from Newton Joseph, Ph.D., "It Is the Way You Think")
(Quotes from Positive Atheist;
"It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropological
concept which I cannot take seriously. I also cannot imagine some will
or goal outside the human sphere. ... Science has been charged with
undermining morality, but the charge is unjust. A man's ethical
behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and
social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would
indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of
punishment and hope of reward after death. (Albert Einstein, Religion
and Science, New York Times Magazine -9 November 1930- in Wikiquote,
Atheism; http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Atheism )
Well, we've arrived to the end of this quite extended trip through a
wide range of conceptions of god, including those of different kinds
of believers and non-believers.
My strategy to find the information for this answer was beginning with
the article God in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God ) and
from there browsing the web through the significant hyperlinks.
I hope that this answer satisfies your expectations. Please let me
know if you consider that a clarification is needed. Thank you again
for this stimulating question.