Theologians have ascribed a variety of attributes to the various conceptions of God. The most common among these include omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, perfect goodness, divine simplicity, and eternal and necessary existence. God has also been conceived as being incorporeal, a personal being, the source of all moral obligation, and the "greatest conceivable existent". These attributes were all supported to varying degrees by the early Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologian philosophers, including Augustine of Hippo, Many notable medieval philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God, attempting to wrestle with the apparent contradictions implied by many of these attributes. Philosophers have developed many arguments for and against the existence of God.
Etymology and usage
The earliest written form of the Germanic word "god" comes from the 6th century Christian Codex Argenteus. The English word itself descends from the Proto-Germanic *ǥuđan. Most linguists agree that the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European form *ǵhu-tó-m was based on the root *ǵhau(ə)-, which meant either "to libate" or "to call, to invoke".
The capitalized form "God" was first used in Ulfilas' Gothic translation of the New Testament, to represent the Greek Theos.
In the English language the capitalization continues to represent a distinction between monotheistic "God" and the "gods" of polytheism "god n. ME OE, akin to Ger gott, Goth guth, prob. * ĝhau-, to call out to, invoke. Sans havaté, (he) calls upon; 1. any of various beings conceived of as supernatural, immortal, and having special powers over the lives and affairs of people and the course of nature; deity, esp. a male deity: typically considered objects of worship; 2. an image that is worshiped; idol 3. a person or thing deified or excessively honored and admired; 4. [G-] in monotheistic religions, the creator and ruler of the universe, regarded as eternal, infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing; Supreme Being; the Almighty . The name "God" now typically refers to the Abrahamic God of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith. Though there are significant cultural divergences that are implied by these different names, "God" remains the common English translation for all.
In the context of comparative religion, "God" is also often related to concepts of universal deity in Dharmic religions, in spite of the historical distinctions which separate monotheism from polytheism — a distinction which some, such as Max Müller and Joseph Campbell, have characterised as a bias within Western culture and theology.
De Saussure tentatively connected Baltic and Germanic words for "spook," (ie. ghost, apparition) as ultimately cognate with Latin fumus for "smoke," related to the ancient usage of "vapour" or "breath" to symbolize spirit — for example the Hebrew "ruach" or "nefesh."
Names of God
The noun God is the proper English name used for the deity of monotheistic faiths. Various English third-person pronouns are used for God, and the correctness of each is disputed.
Different names for God exist within different religious traditions:
- El, and the plural form Elohim, is used frequently in Hebrew texts. El was originally a Canaanite god whose name, meaning powerful one, became generic for all god(s) and mighty men in Hebrew. It also is used in reference to deities of other religions, to angels, and to human judges.
- Allah is the Arabic name for God,: "The name of God among Arabs and Muslims" which is used by Muslims and also by most non-Muslim Arabs. It is derived from the word ilah, a cognate of the northwest Semitic El (Hebrew "El", dual form "Eloah", Aramaic אלהא "Elâhâ"), which, like el, eloah and elaha, is the generic word for a god (any deity). As Allah contains the Arabic definite article "Al", "Allah" means the God. When speaking in English, Muslims often translate "Allah" as "God". One Islamic tradition states that Allah has 99 names, or attributes, while others say that all good names belong to Allah. Arab Christians also refer to God as "Allah".
- YHWH (Hebrew: Yodh-He-Waw-He, יהוה ), often transliterated as Yahweh, is the name most often used for God in untranslated Hebrew scriptures, appearing more than 6700 times and usually translated as the LORD (cf. Adonai) in most English Bibles. In some cases, it is transliterated to function as a name as in Jehovah as found in the American Standard Version, the Darby Bible and the New World Translation or Yahweh as found the Jerusalem Bible.
- The Trinity (one God in three Persons, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit) is a term used to denote God in almost all Christianity.
- Devudu(God) or Devuda(O God), Telugu for "God". Telugu Christians more often use the word "Prabhu" for Jesus.
- Abba, Aramaic for "father", is a word occasionally used in Christianity to refer to God. It is also used as a title of honor for bishops and patriarchs in some Christian churches of Egypt, Syria, and Ethiopia. dicdef According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus referred to God using that word.
- Within Christianity God is known by names that describe his character. (ie El-Roi [God who sees], Jehovah (Yahweh)-Nissi [The Lord is my banner], Jehovah (Yahweh)-Jireh [The Lord will provide], et al.
- Deus, cognate of the Greek ζευς (Zeus) is the Latin word for God, and is used in Latin portions of Roman Catholic masses. Conference to discuss developments for Latin mass under Pope Benedict XVI
- Igzi'abihier (lit. "Lord of the Universe") or Amlak (lit. the plural of mlk, "king" or "lord") in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
- Jah is the name of God in the Rastafari movement, referring specifically to Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
- Ngai, is the Maasai name for "God" (also spelled:'Ngai, En-kai, Enkai, Engai, Eng-ai) which occurs in the volcano name Ol Doinyo Lengai ("the mountain of God").
- Niskam is The Mi'kmaq name for "God".
- "the One" used along side "God" is being used by some churches as a more gender-neutral way of referring to God .
- "Baquan" is a phonetical pronunciation for God in several Pacific Islander religions.
- Bhagavan - "The Opulent One", Brahman -"The Great", Paramatma - "The Supersoul" and Ishvara- "The Controller", are the terms used for God in the Vedas. A number of Hindu traditions worship a personal form of God or Ishvara, such as Vishnu or Shiva, whereas others worship a non-personal Supreme Cosmic Spirit, known as Brahman. The Vaishnava schools consider Vishnu as the Supreme Personality of Godhead and within this tradition is the Vishnu sahasranama, which is a hymn describing the one thousand names of God (Vishnu). Shaivites consider Shiva as the Supreme God in similar way to the followers of Vaishnavism. The Supreme Ishvara of Hinduism must not be confused with the numerous deities or demigods who are collectively known as devas.
- Waheguru Wondrous God, is the Sikhs way of worshipping God with these common names Satnaam (True is Your Name), Akal (the Eternal) or Onkar (some similarity to the Hindu Aum). They believe that when reciting these names, devotion, dedication and a genuine appreciation and acceptance of the Almighty and the blessings thereof (as opposed to mechanical recitation) is essential if one is to gain anything by the meditation. The assistance of the guru is also believed to be essential to reach God.
- Anami Purush and Radha Swami also (nameless power) (lord of the soul, symbolized as Radha)are used in Surat Shabda Yoga, to refer to God.
- "Mwari" is the word used by Shona people of Zimbabwe . They also use names such as Nyadenga in reference to his presumed residence in the 'heveans', or Musikavanhu, literally "the Creator".
- "The Great Spirit", "The Master of Life", "The Master of Breath", or "Grandfather" is the way many Native American religions refer to God. In the Algonquian culture, for example, Gitche Manitou or "Great Spirit" was the name adopted by French missionaries for the Christian God. Other similar names may also be used.
- Shang Ti 上帝 typically used in Chinese, and the name (Hanyu Pinyin: shàng dì) (literally King Above), is the name given for God in the Standard Mandarin Union Version of the Bible. Shen 神 (lit. spirit, or deity) was also adopted by Protestant missionaries in China to refer to the Christian God.
- "Principle, Mind, Soul, Life, Truth, Love, and Spirit" are names for God in Christian Science. These names are considered synonymous and indicative of God's wholeness.
- Khoda is a word for God in Persian.
- God is nameless and formless, because giving God these things would be limiting the power.
Conceptions of God
Conceptions of God vary widely. Theologians and philosophers have studied countless conceptions of God since the dawn of civilization. The Abrahamic conceptions of God include the trinitarian view of Christians, the Kabbalistic definition of Jewish mysticism, and the Islamic concept of God. The dharmic religions differ in their view of the divine, ranging from the almost polytheistic view of God in Hinduism to the almost non-theist view of God in Buddhism. In modern times, some more abstract concepts have been developed, such as process theology and open theism. Conceptions of God held by individual believers vary so widely that there is no clear consensus on the nature of God. 
Existence of God
Many arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed and rejected by philosophers, theologians, and other thinkers. In philosophical terminology, such arguments concern schools of thought on the epistemology or the ontology of God.
There are many philosophical issues concerning the existence of God. Some definitions of God are so nonspecific that it is certain that something exists that meets the definition; while other definitions are apparently self-contradictory. Arguments for the existence of God typically include metaphysical, empirical, inductive, and subjective types. Arguments against the existence of God typically include empirical, deductive, and inductive types. Conclusions reached include: "God exists and this can be proven"; "God exists, but this cannot be proven or disproven" (theism in both cases); "God does not exist" (strong atheism); "God almost certainly does not exist" (de facto atheism); and "no one knows whether God exists" (agnosticism). There are numerous variations on these positions.
A recent argument for the existence of God is called intelligent design, which asserts that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a modern form of the traditional argument from design, modified to avoid specifying the nature or identity of the designer.
Many medieval philosophers developed arguments for the existence of God, while attempting to comprehend the precise implications of God's attributes. Reconciling some of those attributes generated important philosophical problems and debates. For example, God's omniscience implies that God knows how free agents will choose to act. If God does know this, their apparent free will might be illusory, or foreknowledge does not imply predestination; and if God does not know it, God is not omniscient.
The last centuries of philosophy have seen vigorous questions regarding the arguments for God's existence raised by such philosophers as Immanuel Kant, David Hume and Antony Flew, although Kant held that the argument from morality was valid. The theist response has been either to contend, like Alvin Plantinga, that faith is "properly basic"; or to take, like Richard Swinburne, the evidentialist position. Some theists agree that none of the arguments for God's existence are compelling, but argue that faith is not a product of reason, but requires risk. There would be no risk, they say, if the arguments for God's existence were as solid as the laws of logic, a position summed up by Pascal as: "The heart has reasons which reason knows not of."
Most major religions hold God not as a metaphor, but a being that influences our day-to-day existences. Many believers allow for the existence of other, less powerful spiritual beings, and give them names such as angels, saints, djinni, demons, and devas.
Theism and Deism
Theism holds that God exists realistically, objectively, and independently of human thought; that God created and sustains everything; that God is omnipotent and eternal, and is personal, interested and answers prayer. It holds that God is both transcendent and immanent; thus, God is simultaneously infinite and in some way present in the affairs of the world. Catholic theology holds that God is infinitely simple and is not involuntarily subject to time. Most theists hold that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent, although this belief raises questions about God's responsibility for evil and suffering in the world. Some theists ascribe to God a self-conscious or purposeful limiting of omnipotence, omniscience, or benevolence. Open Theism, by contrast, asserts that, due to the nature of time, God's omniscience does not mean the deity can predict the future. "Theism" is sometimes used to refer in general to any belief in a god or gods, i.e., monotheism or polytheism.
Deism holds that God is wholly transcendent: God exists, but does not intervene in the world beyond what was necessary to create it. In this view, God is not anthropomorphic, and does not literally answer prayers or cause miracles to occur. Common in Deism is a belief that God has no interest in humanity and may not even be aware of humanity. Pandeism and Panendeism, respectively, combine Deism with the Pantheistic or Panentheistic beliefs discussed below.
History of monotheism
The concept of God as a singular patriarchal "Father [of all creation" is common in Western culture (Abrahamic) monotheism.
Many historians of religion hold that monotheism may be of relatively recent historical origins — although comparison is difficult as many religions claim to be ancient. Native religions of China and India have concepts of panentheistic views of God that are difficult to classify along Western notions of monotheism vs. polytheism.
In the Ancient Near East, many cities had their own local god, although this henotheistic worship of a single god did not imply denial of the existence of other gods. The Hebrew Ark of the Covenant is supposed (by some scholars) to have adapted this practice to a nomadic lifestyle, paving their way for a singular God. Yet, many scholars now believe that it may have been the Zoroastrian religion of the Persian Empire that was the first monotheistic religion, and the Jews were influenced by such notions (this controversy is still being debated). ZOROASTRIANISM
The innovative cult of the Egyptian solar god Aten was promoted by the pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenophis IV), who ruled between 1358 and 1340 BC. The Aten cult is often cited as the earliest known example of monotheism, and is sometimes claimed to have been a formative influence on early Judaism, due to the presence of Hebrew slaves in Egypt. But even though Akhenaten's hymn to Aten offers strong evidence that Akhenaten considered Aten to be the sole, omnipotent creator, Akhenaten's program to enforce this monotheistic world-view ended with his death; the worship of other gods beside Aten never ceased outside his court, and the older polytheistic religions soon regained precedence.
Other early examples of monotheism include two late Rigvedic hymns (10.129,130) to a Panentheistic creator god, Shri Rudram, a Vedic hymn to Rudra, an earlier aspect of Shiva often referred to by the ancient Brahmans as Stiva, a masculine fertility god, which expressed monistic theism, and is still chanted today; the Zoroastrian Ahuramazda and Chinese Shang Ti. The worship of polytheistic gods, on the other hand, is seen by many to predate monotheism, reaching back as far as the Paleolithic. Today, monotheistic religions are dominant in the many parts of the world, though other systems of belief continue to be prevalent.
Monotheism and pantheism
Monotheism holds that there is only one God, and/or that the one true God is worshiped in different religions under different names. The view that all religions are actually worshiping the same God, whether they know it or not, is especially emphasized in Hinduism. Adherents of different religions, however, generally disagree as to how to best worship God and what is God's plan for mankind. There are different approaches to reconciling the contradictory claims of monotheistic religions. One view is taken by exclusivists, who believe they are the chosen people or have exclusive access to absolute truth, generally through revelation or encounter with the Divine, which adherents of other religions do not. Another view is religious pluralism. A pluralist typically believes that his religion is the right one, but does not deny the partial truth of other religions. An example of a pluralist view in Christianity is supersessionism, i.e., the belief the one's religion is the fulfillment of previous religions. A third approach is relativistic inclusivism, where everybody is seen as equally right; an example in Christianity is universalism: the doctrine that salvation is eventually available for everyone. A fourth approach is syncretism, mixing different elements from different religion. An example of syncretism is the New Age movement.
Pantheism holds that God is the universe and the universe is God. Panentheism holds that God contains, but is not identical to, the Universe. The distinctions between the two are subtle, and some consider them unhelpful. It is also the view of the Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophy, Hinduism, some divisions of Buddhism, and Taoism, along with many varying denominations and individuals within denominations. Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, paints a pantheistic/panentheistic view of God — which has wide acceptance in Hasidic Judaism — but only as an addition to the Jewish view of a personal god, not in the original pantheistic sense that denies or limits persona to God.
Dystheism and nontheism
Dystheism, related to theodicy is a form of theism which holds that God is either not wholly-good or is fully malevolent as a consequence of the problem of evil. There is no known community of practicing dystheists.
Nontheism holds that the universe can be explained without any reference to the supernatural, or to a supernatural being. Some non-theists avoid the concept of God, whilst accepting that it is significant to many; other non-theists understand God as a symbol of human values and aspirations. Many schools of Buddhism may be considered non-theistic.
There is a lack of consensus as to the appropriate scientific treatment of religious questions, such as those of the existence, nature and properties of God—mainly because of the lack of a common definition of God. A major point of debate has been whether God's existence or attributes can be empirically tested or gauged.
Stephen Jay Gould proposed an approach dividing the world of philosophy into what he called "non-overlapping magisteria" (NOMA). In this view, questions of the supernatural, such as those relating to the existence and nature of God, are non-empirical and are the proper domain of theology. The methods of science should then be used to answer any empirical question about the natural world, and theology should be used to answer questions about ultimate meaning and moral value. The lack of any empirical footprint from the magisterium of the supernatural onto natural events makes science the sole player in the natural world. Another view, advanced by Richard Dawkins, is that the existence of God is an empirical question, on the grounds that "a universe with a god would be a completely different kind of universe from one without, and it would be a scientific difference." A third view is that of scientism: any question which cannot be defined can not be answered by science and is therefore either nonsensical or is not worth asking, on the grounds that only empirically answerable questions make sense and are worth attention.
Evolving mortal creatures experience an irresistible urge to symbolize their finite concepts of God. Man's consciousness of moral duty and his spiritual idealism represent a value level--an experiential reality--which is difficult of symbolization.
Cosmic consciousness implies the recognition of a First Cause, the one and only uncaused reality. God, the Universal Father, functions on three Deity-personality levels of subinfinite value and relative divinity expression:
- Prepersonal--as in the ministry of the Father fragments, such as the Thought Adjusters.
- Superpersonal--as in the eventuated existences of certain absonite and associated beings.
GOD is a word symbol designating all personalizations of Deity. The term requires a different definition on each personal level of Deity function and must still further redefined within each of these levels, as this term may be used to designate the diverse co-ordinate and subordinate personalizations of Deity.
As of 2000, approximately 53% of the world's population identifies with one of the three Abrahamic religions (33% Christian, 20% Islam, >1% Judaism), 6% with Buddhism, 13% with Hinduism, 6% with traditional Chinese religion, 7% with various other religions, and less than 15% as non-religious. (National Geographic Family Reference Atlas of the World p. 49)
- Christianity 2.1 billion
- Islam 1.3 billion
- Secular/Irreligious/Agnostic/Atheism 1.1 billion
- Hinduism 900 million
- Chinese traditional religion 394 million
- Buddhism 376 million
- primal-indigenous 300 million
- African Traditional & Diasporic 100 million
- Sikhism 23 million
- Juche 19 million
- Spiritism 15 million
- Judaism 14 million
- Baha'i 7 million
- Jainism 4.2 million
- Shinto 4 million
- Cao Dai 4 million
- Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
- Tenrikyo 2 million
- Neo-Paganism 1 million
- Unitarian-Universalism 800 thousand
- Rastafarianism 600 thousand
- Scientology 500 thousand
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- The ulterior etymology is disputed. Apart from the unlikely hypothesis of adoption from a foreign tongue, the OTeut. "ghuba" implies as its preTeut-type either "*ghodho-m" or "*ghodto-m". The former does not appear to admit of explanation; but the latter would represent the neut. pple. of a root "gheu-". There are two Aryan roots of the required form ("*g,heu-" with palatal aspirate) one with meaning 'to invoke' (Skr. "hu") the other 'to pour, to offer sacrifice' (Skr "hu", Gr. χεηi;ν, OE "geotàn" Yete v). OED Compact Edition, G, p. 267
- Webster's New World Dictionary; "god n. ME < OE, akin to Ger gott, Goth guth, prob. < IE base * ĝhau-, to call out to, invoke > Sans havaté, (he) calls upon; 1. any of various beings conceived of as supernatural, immortal, and having special powers over the lives and affairs of people and the course of nature; deity, esp. a male deity: typically considered objects of worship; 2. an image that is worshiped; idol 3. a person or thing deified or excessively honored and admired; 4. [G-] in monotheistic religions, the creator and ruler of the universe, regarded as eternal, infinite, all-powerful, and all-knowing; Supreme Being; the Almighty
- Dictionary.com Dictionary.com; "God /gɒd/ noun: 1. the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe. 2. the Supreme Being considered with reference to a particular attribute. 3. (lowercase) one of several deities, esp. a male deity, presiding over some portion of worldly affairs. 4. (often lowercase) a supreme being according to some particular conception: the god of mercy. 5. Christian Science. the Supreme Being, understood as Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle. 6. (lowercase) an image of a deity; an idol. 7. (lowercase) any deified person or object. 8. (often lowercase) Gods, Theater. 8a. the upper balcony in a theater. 8b. the spectators in this part of the balcony.
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