God is something that people talk about a lot. God has been used to proclaim truth to the masses and God has also been used by “Sir Mix-A-lot when he said, “Oh, my, god. Becky, look at her butt.” It seems as though the definition of God is a bit flexible. God has been used in a religious context, in a political context, in a pop culture context, in a scientific context, and more. People use God to justify things, to challenge others, to assert their authority, and to legitimize themselves, but when we ask people “What is God,” they tend to pause. A documentary entitled, “Oh My God” digs into this question; they filmed around the world, and asked people from all different walks of life, “What is God.” Some of the responses may surprise you.
There are many different definitions of God, many descriptions, and interpretations. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines God as: “the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshiped as creator and ruler of the universe”–the good ole man in the sky. But God manifests in other ways as well. Not only are there many different names for God, Allah, Lord, Father, to name a few, but people think of God differently. People see god in nature, in the birds and the trees, in sunrises and sunsets. People see God in others, people who inspire them with goodness, who act for the good of the world, who embody some type of living that seems more than human in some way. God is seen also as a Creator, as the father and the mother, as a spark, and a beginning, and as an inspiration. There are also those who see God as a lie, as a fictitious idea created by humanity. Perhaps God is Love, perhaps God is truth, perhaps God is gone, and perhaps God is us.
Whether we accept the existence of God or not, God or the idea of God still plays a prominent role in society. People use the idea of God to make claims, justify actions, and structure their conceptions of the world. God has been a force, an inspiration, a manifestation within people that has shaped much of history. God has been an answer. God has been a question. And even after all of that, I still do not know what God is.
Perhaps the best way to really begin to understand what is God, is to engage in conversation with someone whom you disagree with about what God is. It is possible that maybe you do not know everything there is to know about God, maybe there is more. People have been talking about God for a very long time, there are many variations of answers to this question and they are spread throughout the entire globe. Sounds like a pretty great conversation to me! Perhaps through our conversations attempting to learn what God is, we might learn a little bit more about ourselves, about our neighbors, about our friends, and about strangers who we have never met before. Conversations connect us, they cross borders, and cultures, and histories, and controversies, and while they do not always illuminate a clear answer, they might help us to illuminate something about ourselves.
Kelly Dumais ’14
Political Science Major; Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Minor
Please join Mosaic for interfaith discussion Thursdays at 7:30pm in the Interfaith Space (downstairs in the Campus Center, across from the Gustie Den).