part 4 of my interview witn Alex Doherty…

4. What does the word “God” mean to you?

There are many religious forms that do not personify experience using a concept of God at all. Non-theist religion has a rich heritage when it isn’t being burned by theists. So a personal God is not necessary, but can a helpful symbol for doing elementary metaphysics- which is addressing questions like “what’s it all about?” We cannot really answer the question, but our minds will construct some such frame.

Einstein would often use the word “God” as a shorthand metaphysical device probably to save time and give a charm to his imagery. He did not believe in a personal God, but he found the symbol useful for talking about everything at once. Our minds need a frame to begin the task of understanding our experience. The universe is a boundless verb, but our minds need the closure of nouns. Hegel said religion is putting philosophy in pictures. That’s an over simplification, of course, but it states a truth I think.

“God” is a human symbol that allows us to speak of everything that is too big, too deep and too strange for our ordinary understanding. In Hebrew, the divine name of God is YHWH which is a verb form of the word “being.” The other names for God are like facets on that one diamond. The point is not to believe in a being, but to illumine various aspects of being itself. .

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