VIEWPOINTS: Is God the supreme being or an imaginary friend?

Painting by Cima da Conegliano. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Painting by Cima da Conegliano. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

A recent  debate at the University of San Diego matched a Catholic apologist and an atheist who squared off on the existence of God.

“God: Supreme Being or Imaginary Friend?” was sponsored by the San Diego-based international Catholic apologetics organization, Catholic Answers. It featured Catholic Answers apologist and author Trent Horn against Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

Tell us what you believe. Is God the supreme being or an imaginary friend?


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21 Responses to “VIEWPOINTS: Is God the supreme being or an imaginary friend?”

  1. Patrick

    “First of all, early man did not name it a “tiger”- no English yet. “

    Well, I never thought of that.

    Reminds me of the old story of the Protestant who said, “Why do Catholics say prayers in Latin? If English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.”
    Probably the same man who asked, “If Jesus was Jewish – how come he’s got a Mexican name?”

  2. Michele Joseph

    RE/ Adam naming a tiger a tiger because it looked like a tiger.
    First of all, early man did not name it a “tiger”- no English yet.
    However, whatever it was that a tiger was called may very well
    have been something like “Because that’s what it looked like”
    Above is a very interesting article about Norm Chomsky’s
    (linguist & philospher) theory of language – that language is innate.
    He hypothesizes that language is encoded in the DNA.

  3. Michele Joseph

    It was probably the same with the asses.
    He called them an ass because they looked like an ass.

  4. Patrick O'Gara

    As we know, God told Adam to name every thing and every beast.
    When somebody (Eve, probably) asked him why he called the tiger a tiger – he said it was because it looked like a tiger.

  5. Michele Joseph

    I have heard of God being referred to as “the unknowable, unnameable God”.
    This makes sense to me, because to assign a name is to say “He is THIS, but
    He is not THAT.” A limitation.
    I see creation as on-going, it hasn’t stopped, and will never stop.
    The Spirit is forever expressing itself,in myriads of ways.
    As Denis mentioned,the rocks the trees, the ocean, etc.
    The second commandment- “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven
    One of the ways I understand this commandment is in relation to a word.
    A word is a form, invisible, but a form.
    The instant you think of a word, you also are thinking of the concept the word represents.
    The conception of a word is the instant the idea springs forth from from the unconcious mind into conciousness- from the depths that are “without form and void”
    A word is a graven image. It enunciates a limitation.
    God is without limitation.
    It’s the lack of humility that insists on a word for everything, that we should
    understand everything. Pride bristles at the notion that there is anything beyond
    our limitations. It insists that if we don’t understand something, it isn’t there.
    That something has to be “proven” before it can be accepted as real.
    Maybe we should stop trying to name God, to define and label,
    and accept and embrace the Mystery.

  6. Craig

    sorry for the mis-spelling 😉

  7. Craig

    Created in ” the image of God ” for me represents created to manifest all the virtues and attributes of God in huamnkind . And our individual purpose is to nurture and manifest those virtues .In the realm of creation , Each ” level of the material world show more and more attributes of God with man being the pinnacle showing all the attributes . One can find a few attributes in the mineral kingdom , more in the plant , and more in the animal kingdom . The attributes of God are ” infused ” in all of creation . I realize I am putting forth some notions that are God centered that would be difficult for many to consider or agree with . However these ideas are seed ideas of creation from the Baha’i perspective .

  8. Patrick O'Gara

    All this, I suppose, raises the question of whether Christ was a “being” or not.
    Some people seem to think he wasn’t.

    • Denis Eble

      Author Hyam Maccoby in his book, “The Myth-maker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity,” argues that Paul created The Christ in typical Hellenistic style, combining several ideas from pagan gods, Gnosticism and mystery cults.

      Of course, such a rich well afforded Paul an enormous canvas upon which to paint his concept of The Christ. Naturally, many church apologists have a different interpretation of Paul.

      Who really knows?

  9. Craig

    I like the term ” Higher Power ” . I also like the notion of ” God as we understood Him ” . These two treads run through the wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous .
    I also like the notion , Master of the Universe from the Jewish tradition a lot ! In our current universe , it is said that we know only 10% of what is…the rest is what scientists currently call dark mater and dark energy about which we know nothing . It is likely it contains very different laws of operation from ours… I would say , if ever you have laid on your back in the warm grass in the Summer with your hands behind your head and looked up at the stars of the night where we are seeing light that happened thousands of years ago …. for me the wonder of that experience is the same wonder I feel when I attempt to think of God . I would say the ” spiritual light ” is here now and everywhere at the same time .
    Just as we see the LIGHT of the sun and CALL it the sun so we see the wonder in us and everything and call it……….We never really ” see ” anything . What we say we see are attributes and differences in results of interactions .
    And in my mind , we can see the virtues and attributes of God…not God. We see them in ourselves and each other . Beauty , compassion ., justice . love . We don’t see atoms..only the attributes of them . And we don’t see God . My point is there is something more , inexpressively more . Mozart 40th Symphony leaves me speechless .

    • Denis Eble

      Yet I wonder how many of us humans conceptualize God in human form? After all, how else can we make a connection other than human-to-human? Then there is that line in Genesis about we humans being created in ‘their’ image.

      So much confusion; so many possibilities! So much opportunity for fantasy!

  10. Patrick O'Gara

    We are in Humpty Dumpty Land here, from ‘Through The Looking Glass’
    …at leastNick seems to be.
    “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more, nor less,” the talking egg tells Alice.

    And the word in question here is “Being.”

    Is it possible to exist, yet not be a “being”?
    More importantly, does it matter a rat’s patootie?
    That is to say; If God is not a “being,” is it all right to eat bacon sandwiches on Fridays?

  11. nick batt

    The concept that God is not a being, as we currently understand the word, is not a new concept. In fact, it was the predominant view until the time of the Reformation. The thesis that considering God as a being has lead to the secularization of the West is developed in “The Unintended Reformation” which is available at the Library.

  12. Luke

    False Dichotomy. God is not a being, but the ground of all being. Beings are like you and me… God is something else. God for me is definitively in existence, but I can’t point to God and say “here’s your proof.” Plus “being” is a subjective term… anywho… too much thought for a short pithy question.. moving on.

  13. jules of Holy Toledo

    Regarding imaginary God/Friend…

    If we can first imagine a God, we just created one! Not so with creating a friend, it takes far more work and commitment to do wonderous things in the real world.

    Nothing that exists, or will ever exist would be possible with out first imagining it.

  14. Michele Joseph

    He’s Suprem Being to me.

  15. Christy Besozzi

    Sorry to inject a long quote here, but this is my view of God from the sacred writings of the Baha’i Faith.

    “However, the substance and essence of the subject is this, that there can be no doubt that from everlasting God hath been invested with the independent sovereignty of His exalted Being, and unto everlasting He will remain inaccessible in the transcendent majesty of His holy Essence. No creature hath ever recognized Him as befitteth His recognition, nor hath any created being ever praised Him as is worthy of His praise. He is exalted above every name, and is sanctified from every comparison. Through Him all things are made known, while too lofty is His reality to be known through anyone but Him. The process of His creation hath had no beginning and can have no end, otherwise it would necessitate the cessation of His celestial grace. God hath raised up Prophets and revealed Books as numerous as the creatures of the world, and will continue to do so to everlasting.

    If thou art sailing upon the sea of God’s Names, which are reflected in all things, know thou that He is exalted and sanctified from being known through His creatures, or being described by His servants. Everything thou beholdest hath been called into being through the operation of His Will. How can such a created thing, therefore, be indicative of His essential oneness? God’s existence in itself testifieth to His Own oneness, while every created thing, by its very nature, beareth evidence that it hath been fashioned by God. Such is the proof of consummate wisdom in the estimation of those who sail the ocean of divine Truth.”

    (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 125)

    Now, I know that those of you who do not believe in God will not accept this as proof of anything. But I think some believers, of any faith, can find some common belief in that quote. Note: The use of “He” is just to simplify the phrasing – if it referred to “He/She/It”, it would have been very cumbersome and detract from the message. Baha’u’llah says that men and women are equal and that God is really beyond any real application of He, She, or It.

  16. Patrick O'Gara

    Seems no particular reason why God should not be “The Supreme Imaginary Friend.”
    …In fact we can all imagine yet another shiny new MegaChurch called xacly that – can’t we?

    …I’d start it myself, if I wasn’t so bone idle. And make a fortune, of course.
    Over to you Denis, or Jules, or Michele!
    Be my guest!

  17. jules of Holy Toledo

    …..On the topic of Love, this from my morning inspirations, enjoy:

    I will greet this day with love in my heart.
    And how will I do this?
    Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again.
    I will love the sun for it warms my bones;
    yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit.
    I will love the light for it shows me the way;
    yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars.
    I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart;
    yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul.
    I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due;
    yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.
    – Og Mandino
    ……………………………… Jules…

  18. Denis Eble

    How can God be referred to as a “friend?” I also find it odd that some people say that they “love” Jesus. I admire Lincoln but I don’t ‘love’ him. I am thankful for the work of Gandhi but I don’t ‘love’ him. I am in awe of the life of Jesus but I don’t ‘love’ him.

    The ideas of friendship and love are quite unique and experiential- honed through blood to blood intimacy and sharing. Therefore these terms need to be reserved for extraordinary circumstances.

  19. Zappa912

    I will go with Supreme Being thank you. Peace to all. Next.

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