older men and long white beards

"Do you believe in God?" is a stupid question. It's stupid in the very trivial hair-splitting sense that equates the word "in" with the word "inside". So that the question becomes "When you do your believing, are you inside God?". But it is also stupid in a more significant sense related to the meaning of words, and the differences between the sign, the signified and the signifier.

In the significant sense, the question is stupid because the answer depends on what is meant by "God".

If you were to ask an ancient Greek, "do you believe in an entity called Zeus who hurls thunderbolts?" the reply would be in the affirmative. If you were to ask that same question of a Christian, the reply would be in the negative. If you were to ask a Hindu, "Do you believe in an old man with a long white beard who made the universe and everything in it?" the reply would be, "of course not".

"Do you believe in God?" is a stupid question. "Do you believe that God [insert attribute]?" is a more productive question because it at least enables a discussion on what the attributes of God may or may not be. Another example of the ship of meaning crashing into the rocks of language.




chook said...

Come on Cosmic 'Do you believe in god' (I see you use a capital G, does this mean you are a believer?) opens a discussion. If the question is 'Do you believe in Animals' the answer is yes or no, finish, go and make a ham sandwich

masterymistery said...

"Do I believe in God?" I can't answer the question because of major problems with the word "God". Its usefulness as a Word has been debased.

As a pantheist, I don't believe IN, I believe THAT... But this is a very complex topic we will not solve in this forum. I believe there is a framework in which all apparently contradictory viewpoints are resolved. If interested, check out my Big T.O.E. and/or unidentified flying opinions and/or how big is your God?