most commonly refers to the deity worshipped by followers of
monotheistic and monolatrist religions, whom they believe to be the
creator and ruler of the universe. (source: Wikipedia)
the existence of God typically include metaphysical, empirical,
inductive, and subjective types. Arguments against the existence of God
typically include empirical, deductive, and inductive types.
Conclusions reached include:
"God exists and this can be proven" (theism); "God
exists, but this cannot be proven or disproven" (theism); "God does not exist" (strong atheism); "God almost certainly does not
exist" (de facto atheism); "no one knows whether God exists"
Briefly, "Pascal's Wager" posits that it is a better "bet" to believe that God exists than not to
believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed
as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing.
In Pascal's own words, from Pensées("Thoughts"):
"God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline?
Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which
separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite
distance where heads or tails will turn up ... Which will you choose
then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you
least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two
things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your
happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery.
Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other,
since you must of necessity choose ... But your happiness? Let us weigh
the gain and the loss in wagering that God is ... If you gain, you gain
all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation
that He is.
The above was quoted from an article that seeks to invalidate Pascal's wager.
To recap, Pascal argued that:
To live as if God exists, and turns out God exists: heaven
To live as if God exists, but turns out no God: neutral
To live as if no God, but turns out God exists: hell
To live as if no God, and turns out no God: neutral
The argument is
practical all right, but perhaps therein lies the problem. Wouldn't it
attract merely someone with a mercenary spirit? And so
there appears to be no passage in the Bible that used the argument as
motive for coming to God. But God is sovereign, in that he can draw a
straight line with a crooked stick. Thus, Pascal's wager in spite of
its weakness can still be useful.
Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the various conceptions of God. The most common among these include omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, perfect goodness, divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. God has also been conceived as being incorporeal, a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the "greatest conceivable existent". These attributes were all supported to varying degrees by the early Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologian philosophers, including Augustine of Hippo, Al-Ghazali, and Maimonides. Many notable medieval philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God, attempting to wrestle with the apparent contradictions implied by many of these attributes. Philosophers have developed many arguments for and against the existence of God.
Conceptions of God vary widely. Theologians and philosophers have studied countless conceptions of God since the dawn of civilization. The Abrahamic conceptions of God include the trinitarian view of Christians, the Kabbalistic definition of Jewish mysticism, and the Islamic concept of God. The dharmic religions differ in their view of the divine, ranging from the almost polytheistic view of God in Hinduism to the almost non-theist view of God in Buddhism. In modern times, some more abstract concepts have been developed, such as process theology and open theism. Conceptions of God held by individual believers vary so widely that there is no clear consensus on the nature of God. The contemporaneous French philosopher Michel Henry has however proposed a phenomenological approach and definition of God as phenomenological essence of Life.
Many arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed and rejected by philosophers, theologians, and other thinkers. In philosophical terminology, such arguments concern schools of thought on the epistemology of the ontology of God.
There are many philosophical issues concerning the existence of God. Some definitions of God are so nonspecific that it is certain that something exists that meets the definition; while other definitions are apparently self-contradictory. Arguments for the existence of God typically include metaphysical, empirical, inductive, and subjective types. Arguments against the existence of God typically include empirical, deductive, and inductive types. Conclusions reached include: "God exists and this can be proven"; "God exists, but this cannot be proven or disproven" (theism in both cases); "God does not exist" (strong atheism); "God almost certainly does not exist" (de facto atheism); and "no one knows whether God exists" (agnosticism). There are numerous variations on these positions.
A recent argument for the existence of God is called intelligent design, which asserts that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection."It is a modern form of the traditional argument from design, modified to avoid specifying the nature or identity of the designer. Its primary proponents, all of whom are associated with the Discovery Institute, believe the designer to be the Abrahamic God.
Theologians and philosophers have ascribed a number of attributes to God, including omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, perfect goodness, divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. God has been described as incorporeal, a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the greatest conceivable being existent. These attributes were all claimed to varying degrees by the early Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars, including St Augustine, Al-Ghazali, and Maimonides.
Many medieval philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God, while attempting to comprehend the precise implications of God's attributes. Reconciling some of those attributes generated important philosophical problems and debates. For example, God's omniscience implies that God knows how free agents will choose to act. If God does know this, their apparent free will might be illusory, or foreknowledge does not imply predestination; and if God does not know it, God is not omniscient.
The last centuries of philosophy have seen vigorous questions regarding the arguments for God's existence raised by such philosophers as Immanuel Kant, David Hume and Antony Flew, although Kant held that the argument from morality was valid. The theist response has been either to contend, like Alvin Plantinga, that faith is "properly basic"; or to take, like Richard Swinburne, the evidentialist position. Some theists agree that none of the arguments for God's existence are compelling, but argue that faith is not a product of reason, but requires risk. There would be no risk, they say, if the arguments for God's existence were as solid as the laws of logic, a position summed up by Pascal as: "The heart has reasons which reason knows not of."
Most major religions hold God not as a metaphor, but a being that influences our day-to-day existences. Many believers allow for the existence of other, less powerful spiritual beings, and give them names such as angels, saints, djinni, demons, and devas.
The earliest written form of the Germanic word "god" comes from the 6th century Christian Codex Argenteus. The English word itself descends from the Proto-Germanic *ǥuđan. Most linguists agree that the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form *ǵhu-tó-m was based on the root *ǵhau(ə)-, which meant either "to libate" or "to call, to invoke".
The capitalized form "God" was first used in Ulfilas' Gothic translation of the New Testament, to represent the Greek Theos.
In the English language the capitalization continues to represent a distinction between monotheistic "God" and the "gods" of polytheism. The name "God" now typically refers to the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith. Though there are significant cultural divergences that are implied by these different names, "God" remains the common English translation for all.
The name may signify any related or similar monotheistic deities, such as the early monotheism of Akhenaten and Zoroastrianism.
In the context of comparative religion, "God" is also often related to concepts of universal deity in Dharmic religions, in spite of the historical distinctions which separate monotheism from polytheism — a distinction which some, such as Max Müller and Joseph Campbell, have characterised as a bias within Western culture and theology.
The noun God is the proper English name used for the deity of monotheistic faiths. Various English third-person pronouns are used for God, and the correctness of each is disputed.
Different names for God exist within different religious traditions:
* El, and the plural form Elohim, is used frequently in Hebrew texts. El was originally a Canaanite god whose name, meaning powerful one, became generic for all god(s) and mighty men in Hebrew. It also is used in reference to deities of other religions, to angels, and to human judges.
* Allah is the Arabic name for God, which is used by Muslims and also by most non-Muslim Arabs. It is derived from the word ilah, a cognate of the northwest Semitic El (Hebrew "El", dual form "Eloah", Aramaic אלהא "Elâhâ"), which, like el, eloah and elaha, is the generic word for a god (any deity). As Allah contains the Arabic definite article "Al", "Allah" means the God. When speaking in English, Muslims often translate "Allah" as "God". One Islamic tradition states that Allah has 99 names, or attributes, while others say that all good names belong to Allah. Arab Christians also refer to God as "Allah".
* YHWH (Hebrew: Yodh-He-Waw-He, יהוה ), often transliterated as Yahweh, is the name most often used for God in untranslated Hebrew scriptures, appearing more than 6700 times and usually translated as the LORD (cf. Adonai) in most English Bibles. In some cases, it is transliterated to function as a name as in Jehovah as found in the American Standard Version, the Darby Bible and the New World Translation or Yahweh as found the Jerusalem Bible.
YHWH, the name of God or Tetragrammaton, in Phoenician (1100 BC to AD 300), Aramaic (10th Century BC to 1st century AD) and modern Hebrew scripts.
* The Holy Trinity (one God in three Persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit) is a term used to denote God in almost all Christianity.
* Devudu (God), Telugu for "God".
* Abba, Aramaic for "father", is a word occasionally used in Christianity to refer to God. It is also used as a title of honor for bishops and patriarchs in some Christian churches of Egypt, Syria, and Ethiopia. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus referred to God using that word.
* Within Christianity God is known by names that describe his character. (ie El-Roi [God who sees], Jehovah (Yahweh)-Nissi [The Lord is my banner], Jehovah (Yahweh)-Jireh [The Lord will provide], et al.
* Deus, cognate of the Greek ζευς (Zeus) is the Latin word for God, and is used in Latin portions of Roman Catholic masses.
* Igzi'abihier (lit. "Lord of the Universe") or Amlak (lit. the plural of mlk, "king" or "lord") in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
* Jah is the name of God in the Rastafari movement, referring specifically to Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
* Ngai, is the Maasai name for "God" (also spelled:'Ngai, En-kai, Enkai, Engai, Eng-ai) which occurs in the volcano name Ol Doinyo Lengai ("the mountain of God").
* Niskam is The Mi'kmaq name for "God".
* "the One" used along side "God" is being used by some churches (United Church of Canada, Religious Science) as a more gender-neutral way of referring to God.
* "Baquan" is a phonetical pronunciation for God in several Pacific Islander religions.
* Bhagavan - "The Opulent One", Brahman -"The Great", Paramatma - "The Supersoul" and Ishvara- "The Controller", are the terms used for God in the Vedas. A number of Hindu traditions worship a personal form of God or Ishvara, such as Vishnu or Shiva, whereas others worship a non-personal Supreme Cosmic Spirit, known as Brahman. The Vaishnava schools consider Vishnu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and within this tradition is the Vishnu sahasranama, which is a hymn describing the one thousand names of God (Vishnu). Shaivites consider Shiva as the Supreme God in similar way to the followers of Vaishnavism. The Supreme Ishvara of Hinduism must not be confused with the numerous deities or demigods who are collectively known as devas.
* Waheguru Wondrous God, is the Sikhs way of worshipping God with these common names Satnaam (True is Your Name), Akal (the Eternal) or Onkar (some similarity to the Hindu Aum). They believe that when reciting these names, devotion, dedication and a genuine appreciation and acceptance of the Almighty and the blessings thereof (as opposed to mechanical recitation) is essential if one is to gain anything by the meditation. The assistance of the guru is also believed to be essential to reach God.
* Anami Purush and Radha Swami also (nameless power) (lord of the soul, symbolized as Radha)are used in Surat Shabda Yoga, to refer to God.
* "Mwari" is the word used by Shona people of Zimbabwe. They also use names such as Nyadenga in reference to his presumed residence in the 'heveans', or Musikavanhu, literally "the Creator".
* Ahura Mazda is the Zoroastrian name of the good god.
* "The Great Spirit", "The Master of Life", "The Master of Breath", or "Grandfather" is the way many Native American religions refer to God. In the Algonquian culture, for example, Gitche Manitou or "Great Spirit" was the name adopted by French missionaries for the Christian God. Other similar names may also be used.
* Shang Ti 上帝 typically used in Chinese, and the name (Hanyu Pinyin: shàng dì) (literally King Above), is the name given for God in the Standard Mandarin Union Version of the Bible. Shen 神 (lit. spirit, or deity) was also adopted by Protestant missionaries in China to refer to the Christian God.
* "Principle, Mind, Soul, Life, Truth, Love, and Spirit" are names for God in Christian Science. These names are considered synonymous and indicative of God's wholeness.
* Khoda is a word for God in Persian.
The Tetragrammaton in Phoenician (1100 BC to AD 300), Aramaic (10th century BC to 1 BC) and modern Hebrew scripts.
Yahweh is a proposed English reading of יהוה, the name of the God of Israel, as preserved in the original consonantal Hebrew Bible text. These four Hebrew letters [ i.e. יהוה ] are often collectively called the Tetragrammaton (from the Greek τετραγράμματον, meaning 'four-letter [word]'), and are usually transliterated JHWH in German, and either YHWH, YHVH, JHWH or JHVH in English.
Jews do not pronounce the name, but use e.g. HaShem ("The Name"). When Hebrew no longer was a living language, the Masoretes added vowel marks to the consonant text to assist readers. To יהוה they added the vowels for "Adonai" (= "My Lords"), the word to use when the Bible text is read. Also the Septuagint (Greek translation) and Vulgata (Latin translation) use the word "Lord" (kurios and dominus, respectively). (Adonai is plural referring to "Elohim", which is used to mean God, but is plural in form and originally meant "Gods")
Various proposals exist for a vocalization of יהוה. Current convention is יַהְוֶה, that is, Yahweh. The 'Yah' part seems fairly certain, for example from Biblical proper names ending in -ia(h) or -yahu. Early Christian literature written in Greek used spellings like Ιαβε that can be transcribed by 'Yahweh'.
Today many scholars accept this proposal. (Here 'accept' does not necessarily mean that they actually believe that it describes the truth, but rather that among the many vocalizations that have been proposed, none is clearly superior. That is, 'Yahweh' is the scholarly convention, rather than the scholarly consensus.)
Jehovah is an English transcription of יְהֹוָה, which is a specific vocalized spelling of יהוה (i.e. the Tetragrammaton) that is found in the Masoretic Text. יְהֹוָה has the consonants of the Tetragrammaton, and יְהֹוָה 's vowel points are similar to, but not precisely the same as the vowel points found in Adonai.
Since the beginning of the 17th century, [or possibly even earlier], scholars have questioned whether the vowel points found in יְהֹוָה are the actual vowel points of God's name. Some scholarly sources teach that יְהֹוָה has the vowel points of אֲדֹנָי [i.e. Adonai], but to be redundant, the vowel points of these two words are not precisely the same, and scholars are not in total agreement as to why יְהֹוָה does not have the precise same vowel points as Adonai has.
The first English translators of יְהֹוָה, believed they had the correct vowel points, and translated it as it was written:
"Jehova" in 1270 A.D. Latin. "Iehouah" in 1530 A.D. English. "Iehovah" in 1611 A.D. English. "Jehovah" in 1769 A.D. English. "Yehowah" used by some using another transcription of the consonants of the Tetragrammaton (See Yahweh).
Many religious followings, including Catholics and Orthodox Christians have been using the name Jehovah during the last 2 centuries. King-James-Only Movement Christians believe that Jehovah is the correct name that English-speaking people shall use for God. Jehovah's Witnesses (previously known as International Bible Students until 1931) have been using the name throughout the world (with exceptions) as the most commonly spoken English pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. Latter-day Saints believe that Jehovah was the name of the pre-mortal Jesus Christ, and that he is a distinct being from God the Father, whom Latter-day Saints sometimes refer to as Elohim.
Monotheism holds that there is only one God, and/or that the one true God is worshiped in different religions under different names. The view that all religions are actually worshiping the same God, whether they know it or not, is especially emphasized in Hinduism. Adherents of different religions, however, generally disagree as to how to best worship God and what is God's plan for mankind. There are different approaches to reconciling the contradictory claims of monotheistic religions. One view is taken by exclusivists, who believe they are the chosen people or have exclusive access to absolute truth, generally through revelation or encounter with the Divine, which adherents of other religions do not. Another view is religious pluralism. A pluralist typically believes that his religion is the right one, but does not deny the partial truth of other religions. An example of a pluralist view in Christianity is supersessionism, i.e., the belief the one's religion is the fulfillment of previous religions. A third approach is relativistic inclusivism, where everybody is seen as equally right; an example in Christianity is universalism: the doctrine that salvation is eventually available for everyone. A fourth approach is syncretism, mixing different elements from different religion. An example of syncretism is the New Age movement.
Pantheism holds that God is the universe and the universe is God. Panentheism holds that God contains, but is not identical to, the Universe. The distinctions between the two are subtle, and some consider them unhelpful. It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophy, Hinduism, some divisions of Buddhism, and Taoism, along with many varying denominations and individuals within denominations. Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God — which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism, particularly from their founder The Baal Shem Tov — but only as an addition to the Jewish view of a personal god, not in the original pantheistic sense that denies or limits persona to God.
Dystheism, related to theodicy is a form of theism which holds that God is either not wholly-good or is fully malevolent as a consequence of the problem of evil. There is no known community of practicing dystheists. See also Satanism.
Nontheism holds that the universe can be explained without any reference to the supernatural, or to a supernatural being. Some non-theists avoid the concept of God, whilst accepting that it is significant to many; other non-theists understand God as a symbol of human values and aspirations. Many schools of Buddhism may be considered non-theistic.
There is a lack of consensus as to the appropriate scientific treatment of religious questions, such as those of the existence, nature and properties of God—mainly because of the lack of a common definition of God. A major point of debate has been whether God's existence or attributes can be empirically tested or gauged.
Stephen Jay Gould proposed an approach dividing the world of philosophy into what he called "non-overlapping magisteria" (NOMA). In this view, questions of the supernatural, such as those relating to the existence and nature of God, are non-empirical and are the proper domain of theology. The methods of science should then be used to answer any empirical question about the natural world, and theology should be used to answer questions about ultimate meaning and moral value. The lack of any empirical footprint from the magisterium of the supernatural onto natural events makes science the sole player in the natural world. Another view, advanced by Richard Dawkins, is that the existence of God is an empirical question, on the grounds that "a universe with a god would be a completely different kind of universe from one without, and it would be a scientific difference." A third view is that of scientism: any question which cannot be defined can not be answered by science and is therefore either nonsensical or is not worth asking, on the grounds that only empirically answerable questions make sense and are worth attention.