Who are you?
“Who are you?” I asked.
“I’m God,” said the character that says it’s God.
“No, you’re not,” someone said. “You can’t be.” I think it was a reader.
“Really,” said God. “So God isn’t omnipotent after all. Good to know.”
“What do you mean?” The reader asked.
“God is defined as a Being that is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, right? A Being who is infinite in every way.”
“Yes, that would be a good definition of God if God existed. But God does not exist.”
“Not true,” said another reader. “God exists, and that described Him.”
“Thank you,” God said. “That does describe Me. And I do exist. I don’t mind your gendering Me, by the way. But let’s take four things separately. Whether God exists; if God exists whether I am God; whether God has a gender.”
“Let’s start with gender,” said the reader. “I’m not giving God a gender if I refer to Him as ‘Him.’”
“Let’s start by defining God,” God said. “Then we’ll know Who or What we’re talking about. That' makes sense, doesn’t it?”
“I guess so,” said the reader.
“Don’t guess,” God said. “Think and decide.”
“Alright, yes,” the reader corrected him, or her, or itself.
“You’re familiar with the idea of intentional vs. extensional definitions, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” said a group of theory-of-knowledge-geek-readers and a few random others.”
“No,” said practically everyone else.
“Let me explain,” God said.
She continued: “Intention and extension are ways to define a term. An intentional definition of a term states the conditions needed for using the term to describe an entity. For example, the term ‘bachelor’ might be defined intensionally as ‘an unmarried man.’ Under this definition, Jane, a woman, cannot be a bachelor.
“If the definition was ‘an unmarried person,’ then Jane could be a bachelor—providing she was not married. If the definition were ‘an unmarried male,’ then Rex, a male dog, could be a bachelor.
“Unless Rex was married,” a reader pointed out.
“Correct,” God said. “By contrast, an extensional definition of the term bachelor would be a list of all the individuals who were bachelors. Thus, Jane and Rex would be bachelors if they were on the list. Otherwise, not.
“OK,” said many readers. “I get it.”
“I don’t,” said almost everyone else.
“Read this Wikipedia article,” God said. “I had it written for you.”
“OK, we’ll read it,” said the readers. Then a moment later, one at a time, “OK, I understand now.”
“Good,” said God. And it was good.
“Now,” said God, “you can define God either extensionally or intentionally. If your intentional definition of God is “the Character in the Bible referred to as LORD,” you might mean something different than “the Character in the Koran referred to as Allah.”
“But there’s only one God,” said a bunch of Christians, Muslims, and others in unison, almost none agreeing on Who or What was that God they thought existed.”
“Let’s go with the idea that there is one God,” God said. “And let’s define that God as an: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite being. Now whether the God that you believe in meets that definition or not, that’s the definition I’m using.”
“He does,” said most of the readers. “She does,” said a very few, ironically.
“That’s not our definition,” said a different bunch.
“I’ll come back to you later,” said God. “For those who accept that definition, consider this: If God is omnipotent, is there anything God would not be able to do?”
“No,” said the first bunch, reluctantly. “God can do anything.”
“Then God can be Me,” said God. “God can be this Character in this piece of writing. And if God is Me, then I am God.”
“But you’re imaginary,” said someone.
“You’re a rhetorical device,” said someone else.
“So what?” Asked God. “If God is omnipotent, God can be both real and imaginary? God can be a literary device. God can be Me, and I can be God. Which I am.”
“No,” said some people.
“Yes,” said some others.
“I guess so,” said some others.
“Don’t guess,” God said.
“Wait,” said some who said ‘Yes,’ some who said ‘No’ and some who had been stunned into silence.
“Logically,” someone said, logically, “I suppose God could be both real and imaginary. God could be real and a literary device. You could be God. But God isn’t, and you aren’t.”
“Don’t suppose,” God said. “Think and decide.”
“OK,” said a spokesreader. “I know that God has not done those things.”
“Because?” God asked.
“Because it doesn’t say that in the Bible,” said another spokesreader.
“Because it doesn’t say that in the Koran,” said a different spokereader.
“So I can’t do anything unless it’s written in the Koran or the Bible?” God asked. “So I’m not omnipotent after all.”
“You’re not God,” some readers objected.
“OK,” God said. “Are you saying that the real, actual, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God cannot do anything unless it’s written in the Koran or the Bible? If that’s true, then God is not omnipotent.”
“You’ve got them!” Laughed a bunch of readers.
"No, he doesn’t,” said some others. “Because…”
There was a long silence, which you can’t hear.
Finally, God broke the silence. “It’s simple,” God said. “Either God is omnipotent, or not. If omnipotent, nothing is off the table. God can do anything or be anything. God is restricted by nothing—including your imagination. God can be inconsistent. If not, God is limited by the need to be consistent. God can be paradoxical. If not, God is limited by the rules of logic. God can manifest as a man, a woman, a dog, a ghost, a character in a blog post, or as emptiness; otherwise, there’s something that God cannot be.”
God spoke again. “I am God. I can not only be anything, I must be everything—and at the same time. Otherwise, I am not infinite, but finite, limited.”
“That goes against our faith,” said every reader who had not thought deeply about the implications of believing in the one and only omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, infinite God.
“It does,” said God. “But not in the direction you think. Confused as you are, right now, I am not making less of your faith, but more.
“If you had faith in God before, the God you had faith in was limited. I am telling you to see God as unlimited.
“I am God. If you insist that I am not, then you are insisting that there is something that God is not, and you are insisting that God is less than infinite.”
“By that argument, I’m God, too. But I am not,” said a reader.
“You are mistaken,” God said. “And you are God. And there’s no contradiction here. God can be right, and God can be mistaken.”
“If there were an infinite, omnipotent, omniscient, infinite God, everything that you are saying would be true,” said another spokesreader. “But no such thing exists.”
“Does the universe exist?” God asked.
“Well, consider the definition of God that I gave you. The universe meets that definition. It contains all knowledge, so it is omniscient. It encompasses all space and time, so it is omnipresent. It contains all power. So it is omnipotent. It’s not infinite, but it is boundless.”
“You’re just playing with words to try to make your point,” someone said.
“Exactly,” God said. “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with Me, and the word was Me.”
And in the end, was the Button. And the Button said, “Subscribe now.” And God saw the Button and said it was good.
Am I kidding? (Me, the guy writing this blog.)
Was what was written above in any way God-inspired?
Here’s what I know.
The only thing of which I am certain is my own experience of consciousness. I’ve written about that before—lots of times. Not gonna link. You can search.
I experience ideas coming to me. I don’t know where they come from. I just open myself to whatever comes, and I write whatever comes appears in consciousness.
Is God the source of my ideas? I don’t know. By the arguments above, God must be the source. Knowing for sure is above my pay grade—and if you’re honest, above yours as well.
Do I believe in this sort of God? I act as though I do. I’ve written a long blog post as if I did. And as Jordan Peterson says, that’s as good a test of belief as any.
Is there any practical result to my having that belief rather than believing in a more traditional God? Yes. This post is the result. To me, that’s practical enough.
A very Godel Escher Bach essay!