Wednesday, March 07, 2007

'G' is for god. - Part 1

Since I seem to be in an unmitigated pain state this evening, I thought I'd tackle God. So, gather round ye' olde monitor, boys and girls, because it's time to crack open the World Book Encyclopedia, Book 8 (Volume G). As with previous, and most likely future, entries, we will be relying on the 2003 Edition.

If you're wondering where God resides, his address appears to lie between "Goby" (a species of fish)... (I'll wait for the Darwin crew to finish giggling)... and "God Bless America." God weighs in with about a page worth of information. This is actually far less than I expected, but I should point out that there are separate entries for 'God Bless America' and 'God Save the Queen'. Who knew? *shrugs*

The article starts out: "God is a religious term for the "supreme reality." In many religions, God is the creator of the universe and the ultimate source of knowledge, power, and love.

I really think they ought to have bolded that bit about power. As for God being "the supreme reality",... well, I'm sure you can imagine the issue I take with that statement.

Now we get to the juicy details: God is sometimes portrayed as a human like male with supernatural powers.
Well, there goes reality!
However, most religions teach that God has different forms. Christians believe that God appears in three ways: as Father and Creator, as His Son Jesus Christ, and as the Holy Spirit.
Do all Christians believe in the trinity? I honestly thought that was just a Catholic/Lutheran thing. I guess I need to bone-up on the issue of the trinity. I still think there's a fallacy here: If God has different forms, you'd think he'd stop choosing anthropomorphic forms and go for cooler stuff. I know, for me, personally, God would be a whole lot more impressive if he'd just skip the whole transubstantiation gig and just turn Himself into a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Imagine the irony of God making himself Phish Food.
Hindus refer to the ultimate reality as Brahman, but they think that God is also revealed in more than 1,000 other gods and goddesses.
The good news is that God can be treated with a variety of medications and a host of anti psychotics. This would, however, explain the severe mood changes. God just wasn't "himself" during the flood (it's a metaphor for his many tears).
Although Buddhists do not accept the idea of God the Creator, the role Buddha plays in their religion is similar to that of God in other religions.
If they keep referring to God as "the Creator", I'm going to have to bust out my Lego's.
In the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, God is called by a variety of names...
You would think that the World Book people would call this "Hebrew Bible" by it's real name: the Torah.
Muslims call God Allah, as well as 99 other names that describe perfect qualities.
No wonder God's schizophrenic... 99 perfect qualities in a man? Yeah, right! *sorry to all of my male readers, but...if God is going to be anthropomorphized as a man, I'm going to take a dig when I can.*
Cosmic Gods: Some early religions came to associate a sky god with the entire expanse of the universe. The Greek's Zeus and the Roman's Jupiter, for example, emerged as supergods. In other religions, such as Judaism and Islam, the cosmic God has been thought to be the sole creator and sustainer of life.
Cosmic God?? I'm sure I'm missing some witty commentary on this, but I'm not on my game tonight.
Personal Gods: In many religions, people believe that a supreme God is seen through the person of Jesus Christ.
Hence giving Depeche Mode a catchy little song.
In Hindu traditions, the god Krishna is portrayed as lovable and intimate...]
...especially in airports.



Toni said...

"COSMIC GOD"---I think that is made with grapefruit juice, vodka, wine(only the kind made from water)and for good measure a splash of hypnotiq!

Godless Geek said...

As far as I know, the trinity is as near a universal Christian doctrine as there is. I grew up in a fundamentalist Baptist family, and it was flatly part of the doctrine.

David W. said...

"You would think that the World Book people would call this "Hebrew Bible" by it's real name: the Torah."

Actually the Torah is just the first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Jewish name for the Old Testiment is the Tanakh.

Janet said...

eh, not all christians believe in the trinity, just most of them.

Eamon Knight said...

The Trinity (and the associated doctrine of the divinity of Jesus as the Son) is pretty much universal across Catholic, Protestant and Eatern Orthodox traditions. The only modern exceptions that come to mind are heterodox sects (in evangelical parlance: "cults") such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, and Adventism.

As for the article: so far it sounds like a reasonably honest "about the subject" treatment rather than advocacy. I'll have to compare it with my 1965 edition ;-).

Leah said...

Regarding the Trinity, it is my understanding from a few friends that are hardcore baptists and pentacostals (and yes we do all get alont)that at least their churches teach that the Trinity is actually a form of polythiesm, to them there is one and only one form of God... but then that always confused me cuz then where does Jesus being "our lord and savior" come in?

Too many contradictions, head exploding...

Eamon Knight said...

Leah writes:
Regarding the Trinity, it is my understanding from a few friends that are hardcore baptists and pentacostals (and yes we do all get alont)that at least their churches teach that the Trinity is actually a form of polythiesm....

Oh yes, Oneness Pentecostals. Don't bother following the link unless you have a morbid fascination with the trivia of intra-Christian doctrinal hair-splitting.

Virginia aka Ginny said...

Funny stuff. I look forward to part two...

Anonymous said...

To interested parties, Reverend Harry Cook concisely answered a short suite of questions and I posted a comment with Harry's answers over on the "Jesus' Lost Tomb - or...aka, 'Holy Assumptions, Batman!'" thread.

Harry's answers have relevance here, too.

Terra said...


You mentioned legos, and made me think of this: Have you seen it? If not, I can highly recommend it. Hilarious and brilliant.

funny sidenote: I used a yahoo search to find this (normally I use google, but I'm on a different computer tonight...) and they put this site in the category of Legos. I found that hilarious for some reason.

Ken R. said...

Eamon Knight said...
"The only modern exceptions that come to mind are heterodox sects (in evangelical parlance: "cults") such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, and Adventism."

Not sure about the others, but Mormons do indeed buy into the Holy Trinity thing.
My first clash with religion happened
in an LDS sunday school class when I was about 6 years old- the opening prayer ended with the words " the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost, amen." After hearing that, I said something along the lines of "I don't believe in ghosts, and anybody who does is an idiot". Needless to say, things went downhill after that :)

Eamon Knight said...

The 1965 WB article reads like a catechism:
GOD is the Supreme Being, the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, All Knowing, All Powerful, Infinite, and Ever Present. Throughout history, people have believed that there is a Power in the universe greater than themselves....and more in the same general vein. No pussyfooting around specifying a domain to which the concept pertains (ie. "religious term") -- just an assertion of bald, unquestioned, fact (though there is a brief mention of atheists and agnostics).

I'd say your edition is a distinct improvement ;-).

David said...

As someone who was raised Mormon, I can tell you that they do not believe in the trinity in the strictest sense. They do believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost as seperate and distinct entities united in purpose.

Of course, they do believe in the ghost, so you're right on that count, ken r..

Erp said...

Glad to have suggested a distraction.

I can think of a few things wrong with the article

1. As you pointed out the Trinity is not universal Christian doctrine (though it depends on how one defines Christian). Besides the groups mentioned by others, Unitarians (admittedly only a subset who still classify themselves as Christian though it was once the defining feature of that group) and Christadelphians.
However Trinitarianism is quite important to most Christian sects and failure to accept it is usually sufficient to make a group non-Christian in the eyes of other Christian groups.

2. Buddhists also vary in belief but only a subset would consider Buddha as 'supreme reality' and even that concept for them is very different from the Abrahamic religions' conceptions of God.

3. Allah is just Arabic for 'God. Arabic speaking Christians use that term when referring to the Christian God. There is a myth among some Christians that Allah is a personal name for an ancient moon god. Apparently because of that some have tried converting Arabic speakers and having to flounder for what term to use, in Arabic, for God.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

About the Hebrew Bible: It is called that because the canon (books included) was determined by the language the writings were in. For example, the books of the Maccabees are not included, because they were written in Greek--at least in part.
The Hebrew Tanach is composed of three parts Torah (books of Moses), N'vi'im (prophets--but not in the narrow sense, Joshua is considered part of the prophets) and K'tuvim (writings--includes Psalms, the Megillot [scrolls] and the wisdom literature). The word Tanach (the ch is pronounced like that in the German 'ach')is an acronym for these three parts.
Jews would never call the Hebrew Bible the "old testament." Testament is another word for covenant, and Jews do not accept that the covenant is somehow outdated.

With respect to the word "allah" it comes from the same root as the Hebrew word "el", which simply means the same thing as the English word "god." It is not a proper name, but rather a term for a deity, capital or not.

Possum Mama, you are certainly an interesting person, I have never even though of looking up the word "god' in an encyclopedia. Hmmm--I wonder what they say on Wikepedia?

Guy said...

Imagine the irony of God making himself Phish Food.

Everybody know that if there was a god it would only manifest as that most supreme of ice creams, Chunky Monkey. Please do not blaspheme further... ;)