In my never-ending search for something which may be perceived as truth, my mind continually wanders to the nature of that entity which is called ‘god.’ While most certainly it might be said that I have an unnatural fixation with the discovery of the nature of this entity, I do not consider any of my time spent pondering on the matter to be wasted.
My previous thinking focused on semantic and definition. I thought that the existence or nonexistence of god depended entirely on how one was to define it. This still holds true, I believe (as I will go into greater detail below), however, I made an extreme fallacy in arguing that because there an infinite number of possible ways to define ‘god,’ then god must necessarily exist and be definable.
It should be very clear that the problem here is that I essentially reified 'god' and defined it into existence. My only real qualification for such a being was that it is entirely outside of the scope of human understanding (this was essentially how I defined ‘god,’ wanting my definition to be as simple and unassuming as possible). Now I realize that this qualification is unnecessary and convoluted.
It is still true that the existence of god is entirely dependent on definition, though. I could take any word and say that it has an infinite number of meanings and therefore exists, but that is a very foolish thing to do, because it is more saying the word itself exists rather than anything attributed to the word. In language, the meaning of any word can be solely derived from its definition; that is, how it is understood. If any given word has no tangible definition, then it is a useless word that really gives no insight into anything, real or unreal.
To illustrate this, I will use an example of the word ‘unicorn.’ The word itself is, just like any other word, merely a string constant that has no relevance to anything real or unreal until I give it relevance by defining it. ‘Unicorn’ is meaningless in and of itself, and it may or may not exist, but it is not possible to know because I have not defined it. If, however, I were to define a unicorn as, most succinctly, “a horse with a horn attached to its head,” then it is given relevance and it can then be determined whether or not it exists. So, given the fact that there is no significant evidence that such a being exists or has existed outside of mythology and fantasy, I can conclude that it likely does not exist, at least in the current human scope of the universe.
Note, however, that I did not say that it definitely does not exist, only that it likely does not exist. This is because the definition I put forth, though it does not have direct relevance to reality (that is, it doesn’t exist insofar as it is defined and within current human understanding), still is logically consistent and might therefore be said has a possibility of existing in reality.
So, taking all of this into consideration, we can then apply some of the same rules to the word ‘god,’ namely:
I. ‘god’ as an undefined word is a literal string constant which has no value
II. Attaching a particular definition to ‘god’ gives it value and relevance to what is either real or unreal
III. A god that has no indication of existing may still exist if the proposed definition for this god is logically consistent.
Basically, this means that a suitable definition for the string ‘god’ has to be put forth before it can be determined whether or not that permutation of god exists. Criteria III implies that a god whose definition is logically inconsistent with itself or with the world has little to no chance of existing, in the same way you would call me crazy if I said ‘unicorn’ could be defined as “a horse which is not a horse.” In this way it is remarkably easy to discount at least the Abrahamic god from existence.
This is more a commentary on the inadequacy of language to describe reality than anything, as I hinted at in korp’s Is nothing actually something? thread.
What do you think? How do you define ‘god’?