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Conceptions of God
by R. Amin   
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Last edited: Monday, June 20, 2011
Posted: Monday, June 20, 2011

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Conceptions of God
The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:

Conceptions of God
The God of monotheism, pantheism or panentheism, or the supreme deity of henotheistic religions, may be conceived of in various degrees of abstraction:
• as a powerful, human-like, supernatural being, or as the deification of an esoteric, mystical or philosophical category;
• the Ultimate, the summum bonum, the Absolute Infinite, the Transcendent, or Existence or Being itself;
• the ground of being, the monistic substrate, that which we cannot understand, etc.
Monotheist conceptions of God appear in the Hellenistic period, out of predecessor concepts of monism (mostly in Eastern religions) and henotheism.
Abrahamic conceptions of God
Judaism, Christianity and Islam see God as a being who created the world and who rules over the universe. God is usually held to have the following properties: holiness, justice, sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, benevolence, omnipresence, and immortality. It is also believed to be transcendent, meaning that God is outside space and time. Therefore, God is eternal and unable to be changed by earthly forces or anything else within its creation. In the Abrahamic traditions there are many differences in how these properties are expressed. The importance placed upon those properties is often debated by each group. In the past, as well as modern times people have suggested each group is speaking of a different god, or that each individual human has his own personal conception of God; thus God can only be approximately known.

God in Judaism
Mainstream Orthodox Judaism teaches that God is neither matter nor spirit. They teach that God is the creator of both, but is himself neither. They believe that there are two aspects of God: God himself, who in the end is unknowable, and the revealed aspect of God, his "light", which created the universe, preserves the universe, and interacts with mankind in a personal way. Over time, this view evolved into the belief that all of creation and all of existence was in fact God itself, and that we as humanity are unaware of our own inherent godliness and are grappling to come to terms with it. The standing view in Hasidism, currently, is that there is nothing in existence other than God - all being is God.

God in Christianity
Within Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity states that God is a single being that exists, simultaneously and eternally, as a perichoresis of three persons (personae, prosopa): Father (the Source, the Eternal Majesty); the Son (the eternal Logos or Word, human as Jesus of Nazareth); and the Holy Spirit (the Paraclete or advocate). Some people have illustrated this concept by saying that the Father, Son and Spirit are one yet distinct, in the same way that ice, steam and water are one, yet distinctly different from each other. Since the 4th Century AD, in both Eastern and Western Christianity, this doctrine has been stated as "One God in Three Persons", all three of whom, as distinct and co-eternal "persons" or "hypostases", share a single divine essence, being, or nature. Following Thomas Aquinas and others, the Son is described as eternally begotten by the Father. This generation does not imply a beginning for the Son or an inferior relationship with the Father. The Son is the perfect image of his Father, and is consubstantial with him. The Son returns that love, and that union between the two is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. Again, the Holy Spirit is consubstantial and co-equal with the Father and the Son. Thus God contemplates and loves himself, enjoying infinite and perfect beatitude within himself. This relationship between the other two persons is called procession. It should be noted that although the theology of the Trinity is accepted in most churches, there are theological differences, notably between Catholic and Orthodox thought on the procession of the Holy Spirit (see filioque). Many Christian communions do not accept the Trinitarian doctrine, at least not in its traditional form. Notable dissenting groups include the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christadelphians, Unitarians, Arians, and Adoptionists.
Islamic concept
Allah (Arabic: الله‎ allāh) is the Arabic word for "God", and is used by Arabic-speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews and Mizrahi Jews alike. Muslims consider God to be perfect, unique, eternal, self-sufficient, omnipotent and omniscient. He is said not to resemble any of his creations in any way. The Qur'an describes God as being fully aware of everything that happens in the universe, including private thoughts and feelings.
Muslims are not iconodules and this extends to all religious aspects (including any iconographic depiction other than in writing) so that it does not lead to idolatry. Instead, they focus on his 99 "names" that are stated in the Qur'an, the holy book of the Muslims. Nearly one third of the book is used describing God's attributes and actions. Also, "hadith qudsi" are special recorded sayings of Muhammad to Muslims where he quotes what God has taught him.
Bahá'í concept
Bahá'ís believe in a single, imperishable God, the creator of all things, including all the creatures and forces in the universe.[1] God is described as "a personal God, unknowable, inaccessible, the source of all Revelation, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent and almighty."[2] Though inaccessible directly, God is nevertheless seen as conscious of his creation, with a mind, will and purpose. Bahá'ís believe that God expresses this will at all times and in many ways, including through a series of divine messengers referred to as Manifestations of God or sometimes divine educators.[3] In expressing God's intent, these manifestations are seen to establish religion in the world. Bahá'í teachings state that God is too great for humans to fully comprehend, nor to create a complete and accurate image.[4] Bahá'u'lláh often refers to God by titles (e.g. the All-Powerful, or the All-Loving). Bahá'ís believe that this anthropomorphic description of God amounts to Bahá'u'lláh, in his capacity as God's manifestation, abstracting him in language that human beings can comprehend, since direct knowledge of the essence of God is believed impossible.[4]
Conception of God in Sikhism
The Sikh term for God is Vahigurū and Nānak describes him as niraṅkār (from the Sanskrit nirākārā, meaning formless), akāl (meaning eternal) and alakh (from the Sanskrit alakśya, meaning invisible or unobserved). At the very beginning of the first composition of Sikh scripture is the figure "1" - signifying the unity of God. Nānak's interpretation of God is that of a single, personal and transcendental creator with whom the devotee must develop a most intimate faith and relationship to achieve salvation. Sikhism advocates the belief in one god who is omnipresent and has infinite qualities. This aspect has been repeated on numerous occasions in the Gurū Granth Sāhib and the term ik ōaṅkār signifies this. In the Sikh teachings, there is no gender for God. When translating, the proper meaning cannot be correctly conveyed without using a gender definition, but this distorts the meaning by giving the impression that God is masculine, which is not the message in the original script.
Nānak further emphasizes that a full understanding of God is beyond human beings. However, Nānak also describes God as being not wholly unknowable. God is considered sarav vi'āpak (omnipresent) in all creation and visible everywhere to the spiritually awakened. Nānak stresses that God must be seen from "the inward eye", or the "heart" of a human being - that meditation must take place inwardly to achieve enlightenment progressively. Nānak emphasizes this revelation in creation as crucial, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings. Sikhs believe in a single god that has existed from the beginning of time and will survive forever. He/she is genderless, fearless, formless, immutable, ineffable, self-sufficient, not subject to the cycle of birth and death, and omnipotent.
God in Sikhism is depicted in three distinct aspects, viz. God in himself, God in relation to creation, and God in relation to man. During a discourse with Siddhas, Hindu recluses, Guru Nanak in reply to a question as to where the Transcendent God was before the stage of creation replies, "To think of the Transcendent Lord in that state is to enter the realm of wonder. Even at that stage of sunn, he permeated all that void" (GG, 940).
Conceptions of God in Hinduism
Vedantic schools of Hindu philosophy have a notion of a Supreme Cosmic Spirit called Brahman, pronounced as / brəh mən /. Brahman is (at best) described as an infinite, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, transcendent and immanent reality that is the divine ground of all existence in the universe. The most commonly used Sanskrit word for God is Ishvara (IAST: īśvara IPA: / iːʃvərə /, originally a title comparable to "Lord" or "Excellency" (from root īśa, lit., powerful/lord/owner, + vara, lit., choicest/most excellent). In the two largest branches of Hinduism, Vaishnavism and Shaivism, it is believed that Ishvara and Brahman are identical, and God is in turn anthropomorphically identified with Vishnu or Shiva. God, whether in the form of Vishnu or Shiva, is said to have infinite attributes, or auspicious qualities.
This must not be confused with the numerous devas. Deva may be roughly translated into English as deity, demi-god, or angel, and can describe any celestial being or thing that is of high excellence and thus is venerable. The word is cognate to Latin deus for "god". The misconception of 330 million devas is commonly objected by Hindu scholars. The description of 33 koti (10 million, crore in Hindi) devas is a misunderstanding. The word koti in Sanskrit translates to 'type' and not '10 million'. So the actual translation is 33 types and not 330 million devas. Ishvara as a personal form of God is worshiped and not the 33 devas. The concept of 33 devas (gods) is perhaps related to the geometry of the universe.
Conception of God in Buddhism
Buddhism is non-theistic; Gautama Buddha taught that there was no creator god and believed the more important issue was to bring beings out of suffering to liberation. Enlightened people are called Arhats or Buddha (e.g., the Buddha Sakyamuni), and are venerated. A bodhisattva is an altruistic being who has vowed to attain Buddhahood in order to help others reach enlightenment. Buddhism also teaches of the existence of the devas, heavenly beings who temporarily dwell in celestial states of great happiness but are not yet free from samsara, the cycle of reincarnations. Some Mahayana and Tantra Buddhist scriptures do express ideas that are extremely close to pantheism, with a cosmic Buddha (Adibuddha) being viewed as the sustaining Ground of all being - although this is very much a minority vision within Buddhism. However, in the Tipitaka, the Buddha did teach that some celestial devas believe themselves through delusions to be eternal, omnipotent, omniscient and the creator of all that is, such as Baka Brahma, and that people who previously lived on the same plane of rebirth as devas such as Baka would remember a supposedly infinite creator god. According to the original Buddhist scriptures, however, to think that any spirit or phenomena is eternal would be a de

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