From metawiki

This page establishes a definition for god that will be used throughout the metaculture wiki.

How Do You Define God?

In any discussion of religion it is important to start with a definition of what "god" is.

Each person both holds a mental picture of what "god" means to them, along with presuppositions for what "god" means to others, especially if they subscribe to a different religious belief system.

Most of the time those presuppositions are wrong and inevitably result in misunderstanding.

So before any substantive discussion of religion takes place it is important to agree on, or at least understand, what both parties mean when they refer to "god".

Properties of God

In monotheistic traditions, "god" has several common attributes:

What Has All of These Properties?

Is there anything that exists in the known universe that can exhibit all of these properties? Only the universe itself both exists and has all of the properties ascribed to god. Therefore any references to "god" that are made within this wiki shall assume the Pantheistic definition for the immanent version of god.

Fractals will serve a mathematical metaphor for the transcendent aspect of god (logic).

Here's a breakdown of how the pantheistic universalist fractal view of god is compatible with each of these traits.

Creation: the universe is self-creating and self-organizing. These principles are also why the universe is Inevitable[1].

Omnipotent: unless you want to get into logical paradoxes like god creating a rock so big that god cannot lift it, omnipotence must be interpreted as being all-powerful within the realm of logical possibility. This is why the Law of Noncontradiction exists both in most serious works of theology as well as the rules of logic.

Omniscient: the problem of information storage means that without some supernatural compression algorithm, for any external being to have full knowledge of every atom in the universe it would require an information storage mechanism as large as the universe itself to represent it. Therefore the universe itself is the only conceivable storage device capable of omniscience.

Omnipresent: if god is the universe, then god is everywhere.

Omnibenevolent: since god is everything, god is also everything that is good. While good and evil are products of the human brain, the human brain is also part of the universe and therefore part of god. The universe itself is not necessarily on either side of the good versus evil dichotomy, but the human brain is. The notion of omnibenevolence is necessary to maximize the psychological benefit of the god concept. Even though the universe itself isn't conscious and definitely doesn't care about you, it is inherently advantageous to view it as a very good place to live one's life.

Eternal: while the current instance of our universe appears to have a beginning with the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and will inevitably collapse or experience heat death in another 200 billion years (give or take), this still doesn't quite make it to "eternal". For organisms with a lifespan of under 100 years, this is pretty darned eternal. But if you really want time to be infinite then it becomes necessary to look outside of our current universe. Though we currently lack the technology to gain empirical knowledge of what lies outside the known universe, it is easy to conceive an eternal multiverse without a supernatural actor. The universe could simply repeat its 200 billion year cycle of birth and death over and over forever, or it could be a part of a multiverse with an infinite number of universes being created and destroyed every second.

Transcendent: this is the one property of god that the physical universe cannot manifest, since by definition "transcendent" means apart from the physical universe. But there is something that exists in the abstract that governs everything that happens in the universe--the rules of logic and the mathematical systems that are derived from it. In metaculture, the transcendent is represented by the fractal, a mathematical construct that is infinite, logical, self-organizing and beautiful. God is the universe (implying Immanence) but the universe is also the product of the abstract rules of logic and therefore transcendent.

Advantages of This Definition

Viewing god in this context resolves the logical paradoxes and contradictions inherent in any supernatural definition. It allows us to discuss god without abandoning science, or even unify the study of science and religion under one umbrella. It allows for discourse between those with scientific backgrounds and those with religious ones under the understanding that one approach is empirical and the other intuitive but both seek to understand the same thing. While intuitive truths cannot supersede empirical ones, they can inform and inspire them if not dismissed.

There is also evidence that prior to the development of the scientific method, the dualistic notion of god and the universe being wholly separate was not the common understanding (citations needed). In any case, any independent view of religion must come to the conclusion that each was an attempt to create an explanation using the language and stories of their culture of how the universe came to be and how humans should function within it, and to pass on their accumulated wisdom to future generations. Those not bound to literalism can find this interpretation allows you to take advantage of this ancient wisdom in a way that is fully compatible with a rational, scientific universe without internal contradiction.

If you are a gambler and you have to put your money on one definition of god, from among every culture and religion throughout history, don't you think that Pantheism is the safest bet?

Panpsychism and God's Consciousness

Some pantheists use panpsychism to imbue god with the property of consciousness and make it personal. However, there is no requirement for god to have consciousness except to fill a need created by literalism and tradition, and to answer criticisms of pantheism based on that need.

If the property of consciousness is essential to you, then take the emergent property of consciousness in neural network feedback loops as an inevitable property of the universe and the human hive mind as god's consciousness. We don't need to pretend that rocks and stars have consciousness for god to have it. If god's consciousness is an allegory, what's it an allegory for?

What is more relevant is whether there is historical and theological precedent for the pantheistic assumption based on the evolution of language and how our ancestors perceived the world without science, and whether it works to resolve ideological conflict and cognitive dissonance. The the lack of a conscious supernatural god is a technicality that philosophers and theologians can bicker over.

If pantheism makes more sense to you then it makes more sense and it doesn't matter what any religious authority says about it. And if panpsychism makes more sense to you and fulfills your expectation of a conscious god, it doesn't really matter what this wiki says about it. Especially since it's unlikely to impact your life choices in any meaningful way.

The God Concept

A discussion of the god concept, which examines the psychological construct created by god and its impact on the happiness of the believer, can be found here.

The Sierpinski Trinity

Besides these general properties that apply to any of the monotheistic traditions, there is also the Trinity in Christianity. See the Sierpinski Trinity page for an an analysis of how the fractal makes sense of the relationship between the three aspects of god, and how and the Holy Spirit is an allegory for the god concept.

Many of the Same Things but in a Video

This video does a good job of explaining how pantheism fulfills the working definition of god detailed here.

Is the Universe God? Pantheism Explained and Debated

Hidden Brain - Creating God

Hidden Brain - Our God-Shaped Brains

A discussion of pantheism as it relates to the philosophy of Spinoza. Saints of science Einstein and Sagan both reference Spinoza when asked about their own concept of god.

Spinoza's God

From the pantheistic point of view we are all god, but not all of us are rap gods.

Eminem - Rap God