In my last post I posed the question, “is god real?” To adequately address that question, I must first define a few terms: real and god.
By real I mean to exist outside of the human mind. Let’s take color as an example. Color is a fundamental part of our visual experience. We all see the beauty of a sunrise or sunset and rainbows after a storm. I would argue, however, that color is not real. Rather, our experience of color is due to the way our brains process the luminance and reflectance of objects in our environment. A quick google search will result in many articles written much more eloquently than I could endeavor. On the other hand, the universe it real. It exists outside of the human mind. We may not fully understand the complexity of the universe, or what it means to say it’s expanding, but that does not negate the fact that the universe is real (and just as extravagantly beautiful as a sunrise or sunset). When I ask if god is real, what I want to know is if god is constructed by our mind the way color is, or if god exists independent of our mind, the way the universe does.
But who (or what) is god? In part I think god is beyond human comprehension — just as the vastness of space, the minuteness of an electron, and the speed of a photon is beyond our comprehension. To define god feels like an insurmountable task. The problem with leaving god undefined is that there are so many vastly different ways humans use the term god to describe very, very different entities. I will attempt here to define what I mean when I say God. Please bear in mind, however, that I do not think I have a full and perfect answer — this is just my starting point.
God is a disembodied being (i.e. a deity) but is not the only one in existence. There are other gods but God is the most powerful. God is inside and outside of time and space, is not gendered*, and is not constrained by human definitions. Critically, God desires an intimate partnership with humanity. As such, God uses human language to help us know Them better. The most unbelievable part of my claim about God is that They know and love individual humans — each one of us. God’s love is not contingent on our behavior (there is nothing we can ever do to lose or earn Their love). God is constantly inviting us into relationship but leaves it up to us to accept or deny that invitation.
I understand other people have different definitions of god. I’m happy to keep this discussion going and we can see if we can break-down some of the cultural and mental constructions of god to determine if there is truth to the claim that God is (not) real.
* I will refer to God with gender-neutral pronouns.