What is Meant By God?
One of the most telling aspects in a conversation concerning theism is how a person defines the term “god”. Many people throw this word around and don’t consider the various applications and meanings. This is typically noticed when a person compares YHWH (the Judeo-Christian God) to Zeus (a Greek god). You may have noticed the variation in capitalization I used for the two. It is not because I am subtly saying YHWH is more real than Zeus, but I am going to identify how the casual term “god” is not the same for every deity or “God”.
A. The term “god” is used to refer to anyone immortal.
B. The term “God” is used to refer specifically to the Supreme Being or creator.
The following table demonstrates a hierarchy which follows through most mainstream faiths concerning Gods/gods, their position, and their authority.
The places of contrast need to be aligned to make an educated comparison. Therefore, YHWH should not be compared to Zeus. Based on the hierarchy formula, YHWH (Creator) is four levels higher than Zeus (spirit) and to compare apples to apples, one would need to compare YWHW to the Greek Creator Chaos, or Zeus to the Christian concept of angel, yet we do not see this. While this is a common misrepresented argument among Spiritual pluralists, atheists, and agnostics, the topic is often over looked and not given proper consideration. I believe I may know why in this specific instance comparing Jesus with Zeus.
The following is a common joke made online where the term "god" is implied to mean God, mocking general expectation for the Christian or even the Atheist.
|Example of misuse of term "God" vs. "god"|
The following Avengers joke says " [Captain America] met two gods. Still a Christian. [Iron Man] met two gods. Still an Atheist. [Hulk] Met two Gods. Beat the crap out of both." This is a perfect example of the misuse of the term God/gods as the joke relies on a generalized term to suggest something that would be funny, if it were accurate. Altogether, this joke would not be significant if this wasn't such an accurate portrayal of the modern perspective of the words God/gods.
Further confusion may occur with similarities in various language pronunciation. One may reply specifically to the pronunciation of Jesus compared to Zeus, where Jesus(English)/Yeshua(Hebrew)/Iēsous(Greek) in Greek is pronounced Yay-soos. This sounds very similar to the English pronunciation of Zeus (Zoos), yet the actual Greek pronunciation of Zeus/Ζεύς is Zĕfs. Again, the two are not compatible.
Another argument arises when people do not distinguish the hierarchy, and they fold under the question “If there are billions of gods how can any one say one is right?” Again, this argument is flawed because the relational hierarchy defines subsets of gods is not correlated to a Supreme Being which is the core rejection based on the flawed argument.
While there are many cultures and various versions of Supreme Beings, the number is radically reduced below the “billions” and I’d argue would be as low as hundreds. With a more manageable figure, one may examine the qualities of the God and compare it to natural observation or perhaps invoke the God to personal revelation.