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IMHO, this page should display a bit less ethnocentrism. But then i might be poking my head into a real worms nest here :-) Anyways, could christian god stuff be relocated to christianity or Jehova or somesuch page? --Anders T?rlind

Why not just a subhead, "God in Christianity"? --MichaelTinkler

Or a godhead? (Sorry, couldn't resist :-) A page of his own would probably be suitable methinks. There is quite a lot to say about the trinity and so on, though i'll leave that someone better educated in christian beliefs than I --Anders T?rlind

oh, dear. You're right, they'll get pages, but just because there ARE other gods isn't a good enough reason to demote the one with the biggest name-recognition in English from the main page to a 'see also Christianity, Judaism, Islam' listing. This entry is an awful mess (the more I read it the less i want to try to rewrite it!), but there needs to be an introduction to the concept that at least mentions some of the major traditions ideas before referring to their pages. Wikipedia is all about duplication of information, after all (being "not paper").

Ah, yes, the most powerful association to the word "god" in English is certainly the judeo-christian deity, so it deserves some special attension, though the current article should basically be relocated to God of Christianity or whatever is appropriate. Lets hope for a saviour to come along and resque us from this mess ;-) --Anders T?rlind


The usage of lower-cased god when talking about gods of other faiths is only practiced by monotheists because of the belief that other gods are not really God! I am pagan, I believe in God, and I capitalize His name, as well as that of the Goddess! And when speaking of the Christian God I still capitalize. Correcting that portion of the text, trying to make it less judeo-centric, adding reference to the corresponding entry for Goddess. --Dmerrill

"Only practiced by monotheists"? Most people in America and Europe are monotheists. And there is nothing Judeo-centric about this article, I can tell you that. If it were, it would be rewritten completely. It does concentrate on Jewish, Muslim and Christian views of God, and that is because the majority of people in the world who use the word "God" are Muslims, Jews and Chrisitian. This is common sense, and is not inappropriate. RK

I haven't got time to fix this right now, but the new additions to this article, re omnipotence, should probably be moved to omnipotence. This article generally needs refactoring by someone who has a clue about religion and/or philosophy of religion! --LMS

I'm not sure I agree about moving the omnipotence discussion to a new article. Omnipotence might need an article of its own, but it makes sense to me to discuss the possible characteristics of God, especially when they are not universally agreed upon, in the article about God.
I agree. The material on omnipotence needs to stay here. Extended discussion about it can be done in another entry. RK

Just to complicate things further, God does not have to mean some actual being to everyone. For some, to believe in God is (in part or whole) to believe that there is inherent goodness in the universe.

That's interesting. I've certainly heard some people talk that way before. But who has actually said it, in a book--you know, what famous theologian or philosopher? I'm not denying there has been such, but I can't think of any right off the bat... --LMS
This is philosophically incoherent. There are only two ways that this can be understood. (A) You are using the word "God" to describe atheist beliefs. In that case, your terminology is unintentionally misleading. (B) There really is some force or person out there that forces good to overcome evil. But if that is so, that force is precisely what most Jews or Christians would refer to as "God. In which case, what are saying? RK

I think you need to add perhaps God's most famous quote, "Nietsczhe is dead". This catapaulted God into worldwide fame, implanted him in hundreds of thousands of college-table dinner discussions, and enthroned him in the halls of unix 'quote' files everywhere for all eternity.


I would love to go to work on this article, but my attention is getting spread pretty thin. I just wanted to observe that what is God (which will have to be moved to a better page title) contains a lot of information that will have to be moved to this page or to pages directly linked to it. Also, I think it's kind of silly to make the first section of the article about the gender of God, as if that issue were the most important aspect of theorizing about God. By far the most important issues are whether there is just one god or more, and what the essential features are, on most conceptions of god (viz., omnipotence and omniscience, and being the creator of the world--particularly the latter). --LMS


Even sillier making this the second sentence of the aticle:

The word is usually capitalized when used in reference to a specific god or gods, i.e., the Christian God, particularly when used by believers. When speaking about the general concept of a god, it is usually lowercased. Capitalization is a sign of respect.

This has nothing to do with God; it's about the English language, and should probably find its way into an article about English usage somewhere. It certainly shouldn't be in this article (although it might remain here in Talk as something of a style guide for the article--actually, it really belongs as an HTML comment in the source of the main article--I wish the software supported that. --LDC

You can insert comments into the page in a somewhat round-about and ugly way. Edit this page to see what I mean. --Zundark, 2001 Dec 7
You are mistaken. This article is written in English, and is for English speakers. It is absolutely necessary that they be able to accurately understand what they are reading. The vast majority of Wikipedia users will not have had courses in philosophy, and they will be confused - and likely insulted - by the varying ways that the word "God" is spelled. That sentence you deleted was critical, and should be restored. RK
On a related note, the question I have is what is this article really about? There is a lot of great information in it, but something about it just seems not quite focused (at least to me). The article begins by saying that it is about any immortal being whatsoever that, which could be either "a god" or "God". The English language capitalization may be a quirk of our language, but it also helps to distinguish between the two concepts. To me, "a god" who is immortal and powerful but not the ground of being is a different concept by an order of magnitude than an infinite, overriding ground of all reality like "God". Most of the article really focuses on "God", although part of it acknowledges "gods" and even discusses such things as polytheism. It seems to mix a general discussion of the various types of immortal beings that one can believe in with a detailed analysis of how people view the one infinite God. It just seems to swing back and forth between general discussion of deities and detailed examinations of one type of deity, namely that of monotheism. -- Egern.

Hmm. I'm more interested in writing good articles than coddling the sensitivities of a few irrational readers. Everything here is entirely understandable; that's a complete red herring. But if you mean to suggest that some people will be emotionally turned off by our choice of orthography, well, that may be true. Perhaps a brief parenthetical comment is not out of order. I agree that the article spends a lot of time on monotheism, but I'm not sure that's a big problem. Certainly more information about other conceptions would be useful, but we don't have a lot of Wiccans and Pagans around here editing, so we'll have to settle for what our editors know about for now. Have some patience; this has the makings of a good article. --LDC


The point of this entry is "God". This word refers to the Jewish, or Christian, or Muslim view of the one creator of the universe. Others, on the other hand, want to discuss the various gods of polytheism, and that is fine. But details of that view of the gods falls under the Wikipedia entry entitled Gods. I am not disagreeing with ideas about content; only about placement. The "God" entry does and should focus on monotheism; the Gods entry does and should focus on polytheism, henotheism, etc. Each article, by necessity, entails some overlap with the other.RK


RK, the word does not refer only to Abrahamic concepts, although that is how most people use it. I believe in God also, although I use many other names for Him, and I believe also in a Goddess. I think it's true that for most people, as for you, the assumption is made that it always refers to the Abrahamic God, but that's because that's what you know. Other people use the term differently. So, I think it is appropriate to mention here the polytheistic belief in God, but agree with you that in depth treatment of the various gods belongs under Gods.
And eventually I will get around to adding more about the Wiccan concept of God (the Horned God, for example), although covering the polytheistic beliefs in detail will be under Gods. --Dmerrill
If this article is primarily about God, rather than polytheistic gods, then the first sentence needs to be rewritten, because as it currently stands it introduces an article that is about either a god or God. The opening sentence should instead state clearly that this article is about a monotheistic God if that is what the article is about. -- Egern.

Not necessarily, although it is a fine line. In my writing about the Wiccan God, example, I made sure to make it about the Wiccan attitude toward One God, not information about the pantheons. I think I kept it on the topic. --Dmerrill

Do not (at least some forms of) Hinduism refer to "God"? I would think that this type of non-Western conception of God also should fall into the topic of this article. -- Egern


Yes, it should, but I'm not qualified to write it. --Dmerrill


Let us write in a caseless script then. --Juuitchan

What do you mean by "then"? That isn't a logical argument. In any case, your suggestion would needlessly confuse and insult the majority of people who use this encyclopaedia. If you can capitalize Santa Claus, even though you don't believe in him, then you can certainly capitalize one of the Jewish and Christian names of god, "God". RK

To follow proper Wiki naming conventions, the "Gods" article should really be something like "Listing of gods" (which it more or less is), and the "God" article should cover all uses of the term, as it does (although it does so only perfunctorily at this point). --LDC

I am inclined to continue distinguishing between an article on a monotheistic God and one on gods in Wikipedia. They are two qualitatively different concepts, in my view, at least in most Western theologies.

Yes, absolutely there should be more than one article--there should be dozens. But this article should be an overview with pointers to all of them. The article about the Judeo/Christian/Islamic God should be titled something like "God in the Abrahamic Religions". --LDC


...I'm deleting my previous comment on this Talk entry. In retrospect, the changes I see are balanced and accurate. RK


Why is it relevant what numbers of scientists believe in God? Are we also going to provide statistics on how many people of other professions believe in God? How many farmers, sheep herders, or politicians? I propose removing the remark about scientists' belief in God unless someone can come up with a compelling reason to single out that profession as being worthy of mention here.


I totally agree. Some scientists are insufferably academically imperialistic when it comes to religion; they seem not to realize that they just aren't experts on that. The experts are those who study religion, theologians, and philosophers of religion. --LMS

I'm not sure if I would interview UFO researchers to find out whether UFO's really exist. --AxelBoldt

Here is what I have boldly excised:

especially scientists [1], [1] For numbers, see: Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham: Leading scientists still reject God. Nature, Vol. 394, No. 6691 (1998), p. 313. online version

We could, I imagine, have a separate article, linked appropriate somewhere, on how science views religion and vice-versa. That would be a great place to have this factoid. --LMS


The sentence you replaced it with (which Alex just reverted) seems no better. What is your citation for "small fraction of humanity"? Not that I disagree, but if you think it's relevant to include the point that there are non-believers, it seems relevant to include the fact that science has had a big effect on that, and pointing to a study. Scientists aren't "experts" on religion, but many have been very famous and very vocal. You're not claiming that scientists aren't a major influence on the rise of non-belief, are you? And if they are a major influence, why not mention that? --LDC


I agree with all that. I think we should add a section about numbers of people who believe in God, and perhaps about the causes of belief in God or lack thereof; that's very important. My citation for "small fraction of humanity" is my almanac, which actually talks about religion, not belief in (a) G(g)od. Also, I thought it was just something that "everybody knows." I guess I could be wrong.  :-) But anyway, the original wording was clearly wrongheaded: I don't see why we should single out "most leading scientists" as a group of people whose views on the existence of God should be reported. That's silly. Again, they aren't the experts. --LMS

You better subtract the Buddhist numbers from your Almanach then, because at least the pope considers them to be atheists, and I think he has a point. --AxelBoldt

I suggest we stay away from causes of belief. Answers will range from "because people were created in the image of God, made to live in relationship with Him", to social/anthropological sorts of answers, all the way to "because of a psychotic disorder; scientists are still working to isolate the gene". The truth is impossible to describe objectively. Reasons will vary widely. Report on hard stats regarding belief/unbelief, census data, but at least attribute any guesses as to cause. --Wesley


Well, our task isn't to determine the truth objectively; please see neutral point of view. So we shouldn't debate about the causes of belief. With only a few exceptions perhaps, no one who has written for Wikipedia can be called an expert on that. Someone who is familiar with the theorizing about the causes of belief, though, is perfectly qualified to report about such theorizing, and about that, well, that's a great topic for Wikipedia. Sociology of religion already exists, for one thing.  :-) --LMS


In the Omnipotence section, Satan should be mentioned as (at least in some belief systems) limiting the omnipotence of God. Or don't Christians believe that? --AxelBoldt

Why would Satan limit divine omnipotence? I don't know of any Christian who believe in Satan who also believe that Satan is as powerful as God. They would argue that Satan exists because God lets him exist, and that God will ultimately triumph over Satan. -- Egern
This "ultimately triumph" language always led me to believe that there's a struggle between (almost) equally strong parties going on, but maybe I was jumping to conclusions. So Christians believe that God could do away with Satan tomorrow, if He wanted to? That would be a good thing though, and since God is good, He would surely do it, no? --AxelBoldt
You're assuming that destroying Satan instantly would be a good thing. Some people may oppose that view. Myself included, btw. --KA
Yes I did. I don't know enough about these things, but I thought Satan causes bad things to happen, and not having bad things happen is good, so not having Satan would be good. --AxelBoldt
I think that Christians believe that God could destroy Satan at any time. As for whether it is a good thing or not to just destroy him now, that is another question altogether, but it doesn't have anything to do with the question of omnipotence. That's getting more into the problem of evil than the problem of omnipotence. -- Egern
Also, you're assuming that Satan and God are working against each other, but scripture does not imply this IIRC. Rather, Satan is working against mankind (he is the "adversary" of mankind, actually), and mankind's struggle against this evil is part of God's plan. Also, God's definition of what is good and mankind's definition of what is good are not always the same thing (God's definition trumps mankind's, in the same way that a parent will prevent a child from making himself sick from eating too much candy, even though the child may view that much candy as "good.") Just my little theological mumblings, mind you. --Alex Kennedy
Certain obscure Christian groups do believe this, however. For instance the ancient but small group of Manicheans in southern Iraq still believes in a universe split equally between a good and evil god.
Sounds like dualism to me. Ed Poor
Yes, that's dualism. I think it's more a Persian thing that got a little mixed up with Christianity before being denounced. Seems very similar to Zoroastrianism, at least as far the dualism is concerned; Zoroastrianism also originated somewhere near Persia or thereabouts, IIRC. One of the radical theological points about the Christian/Jewish Creation story is that there's only one god doing the creating, there is no god of chaos or evil, no leftovers of a war between gods. Contrast that with the Epic of Gilgamesh, for example.
Satan's current role can be thought of like the Japanese soldiers on the isolated islands after the end of WWII. The war was over, they were defeated, but they continued to act like the war was going on, and if you weren't careful, they still had real bullets that could kill you. Satan's defeat was sealed through Christ's death and resurrection; the Eastern Orthodox icon of the resurrection typically shows Christ rising from the dead, standing on the broken gates of Hell, raising up Adam, Eve, and other people from the dead. At the bottom of the icon, presumably in Hell or Sheol (just shown as a dark place with lots of bones), is what looks like a mostly naked old man tied up in chains. I've asked different people who that is, and the answer comes back as either "Satan", "Death", or "either Satan or Death, take your pick." That's not a final or official answer, just based on people I've run into. --Wesley

In Wikipedia, on most subjects describing nature, it is the views of scientists we describe. Science is not so much a profession like "farmer" in that regard, but rather, a way of thinking. Science, through history, has shown its usefulness in approximating the truth -- Wikipedia would not exist without science. If we want to describe the concept of "God", I find it very much relevant to say how many people actually believe that, and what scientific background these people have. Pending any reasonable counter-arguments, I will therefore put the removed phrase back into the article.

It is totally irrelevant what scientists think about God, because their work has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject in question. It is true that science is involved in understanding the "truth" in the observable natural world, but theology deals with an attempt at understanding a greater ultimate truth that connects to human values, aims, aspirations. It is not the purpose of science to address those issues. I would no more care about the opinions of scientists on the subject of God than I would care about their opinion of Edgar Allen Poe's poetry or the philosophy of Nietsche. I will completely oppose any effort at reinstating that phrase back into this article. -- Egern
While I agree that science has nothing to do with God, religious people often disagree, claiming that certain phenomena can only be explained by postulating a God and that certain scientific theories (evolution, big bang) contradict their beliefs and proceeding to concoct their own substitutes. To use your words: I don't care about the opinions of theists on evolution, but still I have to wade through pages and pages on creationism in Wikipedia. --AxelBoldt
I'm not sure I have an opinion on whether to mention God in the science page, but religious views of science are certainly proper. --Dmerrill

IF we include opinions that scientists have concerning the existence of God, we should also address the whole epistimelogical problem. In other words, how is it possible to know God, how do religious people claim to experience God, and do the tools of science have anything to do with how people claim to know God? To put it another way, if the existence of God is not falsifiable, then it would seem to follow that science wouldn't normally have a lot to say on the subject. Scientists can say whatever they want of course, but you may as well ask a poet to calculate the distance between two stars. The poet just isn't equipped to do the job properly. --Wesley


Deleted the following irrelevant section, because, as alreaady stated above, the opinions of scientists have no bearing on the topic:

Scientists' Belief in God

Some scientists consider science and religion mutually exclusive, others believe that science and religion can and should be united or "reunited". Conceptions of God by scientists are generally more abstract and less personal. Atheism, agnosticism and logical positivism are especially popular among people who believe that the scientific method is the best way to approximate an objective description of reality. According to recent surveys, belief in God and immortality is most popular among mathematicians and least popular among biologists. In total, about 60% of scientists in the United States expressed disbelief or doubt in the existence of God in 1996. Among "leading" scientists (surveyed members of the National Academy of Sciences), 93% expressed disbelief or doubt in the existence of God in 1998. [1]



How is scientists' belief in God any more or less relevant than neopagan beliefs in God?

Perhaps it isn't any more or less relevant. This article unfortunately is somewhat unfocused, mostely directed towards the question of God but also talking about the question of "gods", even though there already is an article on "gods".