A god is a god is a god

This is an excerpt from a draft of chapter four of my forthcoming book, Angry Atheists?: Why the Backlash Against Dawkins, Harris, And the Rest Is Silly.

As I said at the beginning of the chapter, the line of thought I’ve just sketched is one of my major reasons for not believing in “God,” or any gods. Given that I’ve been focusing on specific features of Christianity and Mormonism, some people might complain I haven’t said anything about God in general. But “God in general” isn’t really God in general, he’s the Abrahamic God. Many Christians never even think of this because they’re so used to using the word “God” to referred to their God specifically, so it’s like comparisons between their God and other gods don’t even compute.

They say, “the Greek gods (or the Mormon God, or whatever) don’t fit the definition of ‘God,’ so they’re not really gods, so we don’t have to worry about that.” But no, the word “god” refers to all those gods. That’s why we use the same word for all of them. That’s why early Christians used the same Greek and Latin words that pagans used to refer to their gods to refer to the Christian God. And there are obvious similarities between all the beings we refer to with those words.

If Christians have an argument here, it pretty much has to be that they conceive their God as being perfect, and the Greeks, for example, didn’t do that. So Christians get to go back to not even having to think about other gods. When I hear that argument, all I hear is “the reason it’s reasonable to believe in our God and not in Thor is that our God is infinity times better than Thor!” That’s an argument I’m totally incapable of taking seriously so I’m just going to stop there.

Yes, I realize deists will say that their God isn’t the Christian God, but he’s really just the Christian concept of God with the specific claims of Christian revelation stripped away. I applaud the deists for getting rid of all the nasty stuff in Christianity, but there’s still the question of why, if we don’t believe in any of the other supernatural super-beings humans have believed in, we should believe in this particular supernatural super-being?

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