“Do you believe in God?”: 4 meta-questions

Do you believe in God?” is a question we have all heard.  Most people take this to be a straightforward question, but readers know that I take every opportunity to discuss the unquestioned assumptions hiding behind common sense.

Here are four big activities hiding behind “Do you believe in God?”:

  1. You” (“You” are not who you think you are.)
  2. Believe” (Beliefs are not what you think they are.)
  3. God” (There are different sorts of contrary gods)
  4. ?  (The question is not asking for facts, but offering a signaling opportunity.)

Understanding these four meta-questions, can help unravel the illusion spun by the apparently simple question of “Do you believe in God?”


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

5 responses to ““Do you believe in God?”: 4 meta-questions

  1. Earnest

    I believe in Spackle God.

  2. tolworthy

    I have this problem all the time! I believe that God is logic. I can defend this position at length from the Bible (well the good bits anyway). But people stare at me blankly. Because they say “god” but really they mean their understanding of certain kinds of fundamentalism.

    I have a similar problem with Jesus. I think he was a philosopher, economist and thinker, and (judging by his impact) possibly the smartest person who ever lived. So I want to call myself a Christian but a Christian generally means a follower of Paul, and I am not. Communication is difficult!

    The best I can come up with is that I am “religious but not spiritual” – but that confuses people even more.

  3. @ tolworthy:
    I think you just answered the question of the title of this post without reading.
    This is a common thing among blog readers — sadly.
    What you wrote has nothing to do with what I wrote.

  4. tolworthy

    @Sabio Lantz
    I have no wish to argue, or launch into a discussion of Roland Barthes and authorial intent. So OK. 🙂

  5. @ tolworthy: Q.E.D.

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