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Discussion 12 to Meditation 832
Defining a Supreme Being

by: JT

To add to this exchange of views (or any other,) please use the Contact form. This discussion has been continued.

I have, as a result of this discussion now made some amendments to the Articles of Faith web page. No - no changes to the Articles of Faith themselves; I see no convincing argument to change any of those words. But, I have provided links from each of the three articles of faith to various discussions already on the site. This I hope will make it easier for those wishing clarification in future, and may reduce the duplication of discussions.

As to the latest comments from Clay and Christian, I don't see anything that has not been addressed already. So except for one issue, I will not be responding. But others are free to pick up any loose ends and keep this exchange of views going.

As to my failure to define a Supreme Being, I stand by what I wrote earlier:

I cannot see what end a definition would serve given the variety of religious claims about a Supreme Being. If believers cannot define what a Supreme Being is in such a way to satisfy all believers, why should we attempt the impossible on their behalf.

Nevertheless I will boldly go where no man, woman, or child has gone before and attempt a comprehensive all-encompassing and universal definition of a Supreme Being for use by non-believers.

Supreme Being:

an entity
which is claimed to exist by those who believe in a Supreme Being, and
which possesses a set of characteristics
which contains at least one supernatural characteristic, and
which also contains as a subset
part or all of the set of all the characteristics
assigned to such entities
by each and every individual believer in a Supreme Being
in the past, present, or future.

I think that pretty much covers everything, every type of Supreme Being ever believed it, or which may be believed in in the future, and even those that might exist, but no believer ever thinks of.

But are we any wiser for the exercise?

Unless there is a grammatical error or a misplaced comma in that definition which subverts my intentions, that is the best I can do today for defining the term Supreme Being as used in the Articles of Faith.

I see no way around the apparent circularity of defining a Supreme Being in terms of the belief in a Supreme Being.

Suggestions for amendment / improvement to this definition are of course welcome. But if a definition is insisted on, I think the overall direction is the only one that non-believers can reasonably take. Still, we are served just as well without a definition - because a Supreme Being can only be defined in terms of what believers believe.