Belief, Communication, Cultural Traits, Deity, God, God(s), Ideas, Language, Mysticism, Quotes, Religion, Transformative Experience

Was the Concept of God an Error in Translation?

“The concept of ‘god’ was originally an error in translation committed when some ancient sage tried to reduce the mystical experience to words.”

Or, alternatively…

“The concept of ‘god’ was originally an error in translation committed when some ancient sage tried to reduce an experience of the weirdness to words.”

Paul Sunstone

12 thoughts on “Was the Concept of God an Error in Translation?”

  1. One way of looking at it, of course. The simplest and most likely explanation is that people lost the thread of their history and that there were actual “gods” on this world at some point not long before the beginning of modern civilization. Gods… aliens… what’s the difference except that the mythical ones people now worship are invisible because they don’t actually exist except as badly remembered history.

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    1. So good to see you again!

      Although my quotes are original, Riali, I cannot claim credit for the idea behind them. It’s actually an ancient idea that is usually associated with mystics the world over. By “mystics” I mean here only those people who claim to have had an experience of god, rather than everyone who calls him or herself a mystic.

      For instance, Pope Sixtus I is (falsely, but famously) credited with having said, “God is not the name of God, but an opinion about Him.” The person who actually said that was probably a Pythagorean philosopher, which is a philosophical tradition that goes back before Christianity.

      Any way, you can find mysticism everywhere in the world, and everywhere you find mysticism, you sooner or later find the idea that “god is beyond all names or labels, cannot be described, and cannot be grasped or understood”.

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      1. I have been MIA for a while. Stuff happening at home has sapped a lot of my energy last few months. Almost back to an even keel. I posted a hasty comment without giving it a lot of thought. I am a firm believer in the existence of a Highr Power, what ever he/she is called. Have had many experiences that could probably be labeled as mystical. Yet, all I can say is that ‘I just know….’

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      2. You’ve probably had more experiences than me, Riali, but we’re in the same place — I just don’t know either. The odd thing is, I’ve come to like not knowing. i like there are still important mysteries — ones no one will ever solve for me, albeit they might solve them for themselves.

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      1. Now I see! Thanks for the clarification! I have never seen the show, but someone who doesn’t like George told me they don’t like George — so I was worried I might have offended you. My mistake. Sounds like an interesting show.

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  2. Paul,
    Ah, it sounds like I may have offended you. Not my intent! I love George–he’s quite the character! But whatcha gonna do when someone else doesn’t like what you like?
    Several people l know, roll their eyes when I mention this show. However, I like that it opens my mind up to out-of-the-box thinking; and I learn about cultures, philosophies, religions, a little history as well as science and sci-fi. They have some very cool topics. Also, they don’t tell you to think a certain way, per se, they ask thought-provoking questions and then try to make their case for why they asked the question to begin with. It’s all speculative, of course, so if you enjoy the “gray,” then you might give it a shot. If you get the opportunity but don’t get The History Channel, you can watch episodes on youtube. I recommend starting with the Einstein Factor. That’s one of my favorites. Mona

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