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Concept of God

Course Title : Composition & Communication Skills

Section : 04

Submitted to : Farhana Farid

Senior Lecturer

Department of English

Submitted by : Mahmudul Haque

ID: 2008-2-10-049

Concept of God Whenever we get into any trouble, especially when we face it alone, and feel helpless, we remember and want help from someone, someone very powerful. Again, when we commit any crime, we feel guilty from our conscious mind but we also get a little frightened that someone is watching and that we will have to pay the cost of our actions to that someone. This super power being is God who is called by different names in different tribes but the concept is somewhat similar. For example, one thing common in all the Major Religions of the world is that the God they worship, they believe He is the same God for them as well as for the others. Initially, we will discuss the concept of God in major religions. First we will try to see the concept from the angle of the general followers of those religions. Then we will try to get a general concept according to the authentic sources of those religions.
Concept of God in Hinduism: Hinduism is not actually the name of the religion. It is a geographical name but the British put this name forward for the religion to make a division. The actual name for the religion is ‘Veda’ or ‘Brahmanism’. It is a Non-Semitic, Aryan, Vedic religion. If you ask the common Hindus that how many Gods do they believe in. Some may say 3, some may say 33, and some may say a 1000, while the others may say 330 million. So, the first concept about God we get from the common followers of Hinduism is somewhat like ‘Everything is God’. They find God in every creation to get the ‘Omnipresence’ concept of God that He is everywhere. It is called the pantheism concept of God. However, if you ask a learned Hindu who has knowledge about the religious scriptures of Hinduism, he will tell you that a Hindu should actually believe in only one God. If we analyze the Hindu scriptures like the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagwat Geeta etc., we come to know about this fact. According to the Chandogya Upanishad- “God is one only, not a second” [Ch.6, Sec.2, Verse no.1] that means - There is only one God. It means there is nothing like God and therefore He has got no image and He is unseen. Same message is repeated in Yajurved Ch.32, Verse no.3. So far these verses show that there is only one God who is totally independent and He is formless or imageless, He is beyond imagination. There are some other verses from the scriptures which talk against Idol Worshipping. Yajurved Ch.40, Verse no.8 says, “God is bodiless.” It means He is formless, so Idol Worshipping is not correct. Some other verses directly prohibit Idol Worshipping. To explain this deviation from the scriptures by the common Hindus the Hindu scholars put two arguments. Some scholars argue that in higher level of knowledge and consciousness worshipping of one true God is required, otherwise in lower level Idol Worshipping can be accepted to let common people concentrate on worshipping. If they do not get any mental picture in mind, they cannot concentrate on their worshipping. On the other hand some other scholars argue to explain the pantheism concept in Hinduism. The renowned Hindu scholar Sri Sri Ravi Shankar writes in his book ‘Hinduism & Islam- The Common Thread’ that “The white light is made up of seven different colors, in the same way 330 million gods & goddesses represent the one true God in Hinduism” [p.1].
Concept of God in Buddhism: There is no clear concept of God in Buddhism. This sometimes is not even considered as religion rather it is considered as self-relief way of life. Buddhism neither accepts the concept of God nor denies it. Still the followers, the Buddhists, generally accept ‘Buddha’ as their ‘Lord’ and worship him. However, at the time of ‘Buddha’ most of his followers were Hindus and as ‘Buddha’ did not give them any clear concept about God, they put the concept of God according to their knowledge from Hinduism after ‘Buddha’ departed. Some Buddhists also consider ‘Buddha’ as an Avatar or incarnated form of ‘Vishnu’. Buddhism strongly believes in cycle of rebirth and also believes that everyone is bonded in this cycle which includes gods. Even though some concepts or talks about gods are found in Buddhism, they are considered as lower level than human. According to Buddhism gods have power over human beings just like human beings overpower other animals but human beings have the sole potentiality to upgrade their level by meditation, strong determination and good way of life. So, gods are actually considered as super power beings only and nothing more than that. However, the concept of God in Buddhism according to the Buddhists scriptures lies in the concept of Buddha though it does not directly refer to the person ‘Buddha’. Sokei-an from Zen Buddhism says, The creative power of the universe is not a human being; it is Buddha. The one who sees, and the one who hears, is not this eye or ear, but the one who is this consciousness. This One is Buddha. This One appears in every mind. This One is common to all sentient beings, and is God. [The Zen Eye, Weatherhill, New York, 1994, p.41].
These concepts actually refer that God is in every human as the conscious mind, and when one understands himself properly and finds this conscious mind out, he becomes the God of himself. So, even Buddhism believes in one God in some close prospects.
Concept of God in Judaism: Judaism is a Semitic religion. It strictly believes in monotheism concept of God. That means Jewish believes in one indivisible God. The concept of multiple gods is heretical in Judaism. The Jewish believes this theory following their religious scripture ‘Jewish Bible’ or ‘The Old Testament’. God is conceived of as eternal, the creator of the universe, and the source of morality. God has the power to intervene in the world. Maimonides describes God in this fashion: “There is a Being, perfect in every possible way, who is the ultimate cause of all existence. All existence depends on God and is derived from God.” In general Jewish considers God as the only one Lord, the creator. Overall, the common Jewish believes in one single God and directs all his prayers and worships toward Him. The source of Judaism that is ‘The Old Testament’ shows the same single unique God concept. Prophet Moses says in the book of Deuteronomy, “Hear o Israel, the Lord is our God, is one Lord’ [Deuteronomy 6:4]. It is mentioned in the book of Isaiah, “I, even I, am the Lord, besides me there is no savior.” [Isaiah 43:11]. The same message is repeated in Isaiah Ch.45, Verse no.5. Again in Isaiah Ch.46, Verse no.9 God says, “I am Lord, and there is none else - I am God, and there is nothing like Me”. These are the enough evidences from the Jewish religious scripture ‘The Old Testament’ that the Jewish concept of God is that there is only one God and there is no one besides Him, all worships should be directed toward Him, and also there should not be any Idol Worshipping.
Concept of God in Christianity: Christianity is also a Semitic religion which believes in one God. However, the Christian concept of God is quite complicated to understand properly. Christianity is based on Jesus Christ who is considered to be born without any male intervention and who did many miraculous deeds like curing the blind and lepers, giving life to death etc. In general, Christians believe that no human can bear such power and they consider Jesus Christ to be the God. However, since Jesus Christ never directly claimed to be the God rather he himself admitted to be loyal to God, Christianity has got the complex concept of ‘Trinity’ about God. The church is the founder of this and most of the Christians believe in this concept. According to this concept God is one but in three different persons with three different personalities. They are ‘the Father’ to whom Jesus Christ himself submitted his own will, ‘the Son’- Jesus Christ himself and the ‘Holy Spirit’ that is something which is pure and which purifies other things and beings. “I believe that the Father is the creator of everything and He is my Lord, the Son is my advocate for our redemption of sins and entrance to the eternal life in heaven, and the Holy Spirit is my counselor in this world who helps me solve my problems”, says Johanna Babici, a teenage girl from a Christian missionary in Tulln, Austria. When questioned that there seems to be three different persons and which one she considers as God, she replies, “All of them are in the unity.” When again questioned that if they are three persons to be considered as God then in which way she believes that there is only one God, she replies, “Well, they are not really three different persons, rather they are three different personalities but even if you consider that they are three different persons, our faith is that God is in them, which makes it clear that God is one but in three different persons or personalities.” [Interview]
However, in general there are some common terms about God in Christianity that are God is the eternal being who created the universe and all there is, God is usually held to have the properties of holiness (separate from sin and incorruptible), justice (fair, right, and true in all his judgments), omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, omnipresence and immortality (eternal and everlasting). He is believed to be transcendent, meaning that he is outside space and outside time, and therefore eternal and unable to be changed by earthly forces or anything else within his creation. If we analyze the source of Christianity that is ‘The Bible’ which includes both ‘The Old Testament’ and ‘The New Testament’, we find different conclusions regarding the concept of ‘Trinity’. The concept of ‘Trinity’ was founded on the basis of few verses from ‘The Bible’, especially from ‘The New Testament’ although the word ‘Trinity’ is nowhere to be found. Moreover, there are other verses where Jesus Christ considered God to be far greater than himself. So, it seems even Jesus Christ himself believed in and followed one true God that is ‘the Father’. And the fact remains that in nowhere in the ‘Bible’ Jesus Christ directly claimed divinity or asked to worship him. Whatsoever, the church and most of the Christians keep the faith in the concept of ‘Trinity’ or at least in divine Jesus Christ since the authors of the Gospels of the ‘Bible’, who were the disciples of Jesus, proclaimed this assumption and founded the Christian faith.
Concept of God in Islam: Islam is another and the latest and the final Semitic religion which strictly believes in one unique God. In Islam, God is believed to be the only real supreme being, all-powerful and all knowing Creator, Sustainer, Ordainer, and Judge of the universe [Gerhard Böwering, God and his Attributes, Encyclopedia of the Quran; John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, 1998, p.22] Islam puts a heavy emphasis on the conceptualization of God as strictly singular. He is unique and inherently one, all-merciful and omnipotent. ["Allah”, Encyclopedia Britannica 2007]. According to the Islamic teachings, God is present everywhere without having incarnated in anything. [Britannica Encyclopedia, Islam, p. 3]. Common Muslims strictly believes in oneness and unseen faith of God. They believe that God is the Lord who created us and everything but is uncreated Himself, He is the sustainer of the universe, we all are dependant to Him, He sometimes controls our fate, He deserves worshipping and praise alone etc. However, if the proper teaching is not given, the followers get many misconceptions or grow their own ideas about God. Analie Niknejad, a university student from Tehran, Iran, says, “My concept about God is that everything is God’s, I mean, everything belongs to God. So whatever we get around us, we should thank Him for these.” When asked what image she gets in her mind while remembering God, she replies, “Something very powerful, like light, but no specific image.” [Interview] The authentic source for Islam is its religious scriptures like ‘The Quran’ or ‘The Hadith’. However, the ‘Quran’ is considered as the ‘Word of God’, therefore it is the source we should try to find out the concept of God. According to Dr. Zakir Naik, a renowned scholar of Islam and Comparative Religions, the most brief but the best concept one can get about the concept of God in Islam is from a very short chapter of the ‘Quran’, that is ‘Surah Ikhlas’, Chapter 112. It says, “Say, He is Allah, one and only.” [Al Quran 112:1]. It means there is only one God, and there is no one else besides Him. It continues, “Allah, the absolute and eternal.” [Al Quran 112:2]. It means that He exists, and He has created things, when nothing existed. Everything and every person are dependent on Him, but he is not dependent on any person, or anything. It further goes, “He begets not, nor is He begotten.” [Al Quran 112:3]. This means He has got no parents and no children, He is all alone Himself and unique. The chapter finishes with, “There is nothing like Him” [Al Quran 112:4]. It means He is nothing like anything, He cannot be imagined, and He is beyond imagination and comparison. This four line definition of God is considered as the standard concept of God in Islam and as the touchstone for many theologians. If there is anyone claiming to be God or regarding the other concepts of God in other religions, this definition is used as the touchstone to verify the authenticity of those claims. Other than this short definition there are given 99 names of God in the ‘Quran’. These names or attributes describe the characteristics of the Almighty God further. For example, one name of God is given as ‘Khalik’, which literally means ‘The Creator’ gives us the concept that He is our creator. Another name is given as ‘Rab’, which literally means ‘The Lord’, ‘The Sustainer’ that gives us the idea that He is our sustainer and we are dependent on Him. In this way 99 attributes are mentioned in the ‘Quran’ to give us a clear concept of one true unique God. Let’s now discuss the concept of God in some other prospects. Many a times people imagine that these prospects deny God but actually they do not.
Concept of God in Science: Many people think science totally rejects the idea of any Super Power Being that cannot be seen and verified directly. However, it is totally a wrong idea but the concept of God is quite different from the concept of the religions. Science considers God as a Super Power Being who possesses a vast energy and it is the centre of all energy. As creation of anything needs enormous amount of energy, scientists believe that there is a Super Natural Being from whose enormous power and energy this universe was created. And since still the creation and expansion process of this universe is going on, that Super Power Being is still there and is affecting us by controlling many things in the universe. He is also considered as the cause of proper maintenance of the universe. Although some scientists totally reject the concept of any existence of God, they cannot explain the facts for which others believe in the existence. However, scientists generally do not accept many concepts of God such as omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence etc. which are unavoidable issues in religious prospects of view. Nevertheless, they do believe in one single unique Super Power Being to be God.
Concept of God in Atheism: An atheist believes in the existence of God but he rejects the religious faiths. His belief regarding God is somewhat similar like the belief of science. He only accepts the existence of God and believes that He created the universe and everything but he believes that He gives us all free will to lead our own life and does not interfere in any of the action in the universe. So they directly reject the idea that God needs worshipping.
Thoughts of common people about Concept of God: The common and general people, no matter from which religion, generally do not like the idea to think about God. They only accept what they learnt from others according to their religion and do not like to go further. Either they are confused what to think about or they are afraid that too much thinking might break their faith down or might push their idea toward a wrong way, which eventually might displease God. Whatever their argument is, the reason behind this confusion and fear is that they do not know much about God. They neither went for their own religion to understand the concept of God according to it nor went for their own interest to learn about the true concept of God. So far we have come across many thoughts and ideas about the concepts of God from many different religious and others’ points of view. The thoughts and concepts might deviate from each other but there are some general terms which we cannot possibly deny. And no matter which shows us the true way to God, every concept gives us some general characteristics about God which we should follow ourselves to lead a peaceful life. We should pay respect to every concept as each one of them leads us to the way of knowledge and truth and also to the way of betterment. As we cannot physically prove the existence of God or any of these concepts of Gods, we are to lead our way according to our own belief from the understandings from these concepts. Works Cited
Ahmed, Sheikh Deedat. “Islam & Christianity.”
Naik, Dr. Zakir. “Similarities between Hinduism & Islam.” Islamic Research Foundation, Mumbai.
Shankar, Sri Sri Ravi. “Hinduism & Islam- The Common Thread.” Vyakti Vikas Kendra, Bangalore.
McGrath, Alister. “The Science of God.” Summarization of “A Scientific Theology”
Islamic Research Foundation. “Similarities between Hinduism & Islam.” Public Dialogue between Dr. Zakir Naik and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Ali, Yusuf. “The Holy Al Quran.” English Translated Version.
“The Holy Bible.” King James Version and Revised Standard Version.
“The Holy Vedas.”, “The Holy Upanishads.”, “The Holy Bhagwat Geeta.”
“God.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God>.
“God in Hinduism.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ God_in_Hinduism>.
“God in Buddhism.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ God_in_Buddhism>.
“God in Judaism.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ God_in_Judaism>.
“God in Christianity.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ God_in_Christianity>.
“God in Islam.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_in_Islam>.
Interviews:
Johanna Babici Analie Niknejad
Christian Missionary Tehran University
Tulln, Austria. Tehran, Iran.

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