Arguing a point with someone who will continually change the definitions of the terms is pointless. They lose by default. We can go with the standard model of god, or we can have an amorphous un-defined thing that ultimately renders their own argument moot.
The problem here is that there is not and never has been anything even approximating a standard model of what 'God' really is. I don't really care what Merriam Webster penned down in his attempt at formalizing a natural language, the concept - or lack of any consensus thereof - long predates English.
Even if we take a concept of the christian God as penned down in the four gospels, John begins by equating God with the Logos, which is an extremely anti-anthropomorphic conception of something like the ordering principle of the universe. The intellectual lineage of the term from John probably extends back to Philo who described God as not even existing in space and time, having no attributes, and no operation in the world.
Ohh, this is a great post! Let's dig in!
I think you're half right, there is no *universally accepted* standard model of god, only one that most people (at least in the west) would agree on. For the purpose of debate (if you really want to get into this, and I don't mind though it might bore anyone else) we can establish our own mutually agreed upon model. I would posit that, in our culture/context, the standard model of god is something that closely resembles the following model from Why Won't God Heal Amputees:
# People believe that God is the almighty ruler of the universe. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, eternal, timeless, omnipresent and perfect.
# People believe that God is the creator of everything. He created the universe and the earth.
# People believe that God is the creator of life and human beings. Many people believe that God created the first man (Adam) and woman (Eve) in his own image, and we are all Adam and Eve's descendants. Others are not that literal, and believe that God played a central role in the creation of the human species and our consciousness.
# People believe that God instills in each of us a unique and everlasting soul.
# People believe that we have eternal life after death. When we die, people believe that our souls return to God in Heaven for eternity if we have accepted Jesus as our savior.
# People believe that God wrote or inspired the Bible. The Bible is God's word. There is a sentence that summarizes the Bible for many people: The Bible is infallible, inspired and inerrant. Others are not that literal, but do believe that God played a central role in the Bible's creation.
# People believe that God sent Jesus to earth as God incarnate. Jesus performed many miracles while he was alive, and after his death Jesus was resurrected, appeared to hundreds of people, and then ascended into heaven, proving that he is God.
# People believe that God is a benevolent and loving ruler. God is good and God is love.
# People believe that God is a living being who knows and loves each one of us. Each of us can speak to God and have a personal relationship with him. The way that we speak to God is through prayer.
# People believe that God has a plan for each of us. We each have a distinct and unique purpose in God's universe.
I think that all but a very select few theologians would take serious issue with any notion of a 'standard model of god', especially any such model that would resemble an angry man in the sky who could be logically refuted just by the fact that weather patterns are the ultimate result of a small number of physical forces well described by a set of differential equations that have nothing to do with divine wrath. In fact, I would imagine that the Stoics would be absolutely delighted with general relativity and the standard model of particle physics, and take it as definitive proof of divine reason.
The notion of the word-for-word literal truth of the bible is something that is out of the mainstream and is a modern innovation - likely a misguided response to the fact that we can now empirically reconstruct a natural history of events. The redactors and evangelists who compiled the Torah and the Gospels obviously didn't care for such a notion - otherwise they would have bothered to get the order of events the same in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, and fixed up the lineage from David to Jesus so that they matched in Matthew and Luke.
Lets not even get started on the ancient hindu philosophers...
Well, here's where we probably differ fundamentally. I think delusions that convince people to commit the most heinous acts imaginable *do* matter.
Actual psychological delusions and hallucinations are different from simply being incorrect about the nature of the cosmos. The proponents of aether-drift theories didn't go around taking an axe to their families, only to stop when Einstein and Lorentz corrected their notion of space and time. Likewise, Philo probably didn't much change his ethical behavior when he reversed his initial viewpoint of God being outside of space and time to say that God permeated all space and time.
Well, to point to the dictionary again " Delusion: an idiosyncratic belief or impression maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder"
Typical use is in reference to a mental disorder, but the belief in something that you have no reason to believe other than your desire to believe it, the insistence of others or some other reason despite a lack of evidence coupled with all the evidence against it's existence is (in my mind) a delusion on some level.
People do commit atrocities, sexually enslave children, and do all sorts of unspeakable horrors in the name of God. But this has more to do with greed, power, and charlatans than it has to do with Theology. The charlatan will say that God speaks directly to him, and commands you to give him your 13 year old daughter's hand in marriage. People with more anthropomorphized notions of God, and who don't want to take the time to think through the real consequences of their actions are more susceptible to put their trust unquestionably in this breed of charlatan.
The notion of God is often a convenient instrument for corrupt individuals and institutions to use to perpetuate injustices. However, remove God and they will simply find another proxy. Science is not in any way immune. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders listed homosexuality as a disease until 1973. Even the rejection of God itself can be an instrument of oppression, as Mao Zedong illustrated in the Cultural Revolution.
I have a blog post about this on one of my blogs I think. In it I fully reinforce the truth that the great majority of religious believers are good people who wish no ill will upon other people, often in spite of their religion's direct command to enact violence, subjugation or outright murder on them. My position on this is that this is given. However, the danger lies in the mental break where one accepts as truth something for which there is no evidence (and considerable evidence against). That break is called faith. Every debate with a religious person, when finally backed into their corner, ends with "faith". It's the cosmic "out" that allows them to escape logic, reason and reality. A person who embraces faith, as I describe it, is just a few bad circumstances and a little further indoctrination away from psychosis. This is, I believe, how the jihaddists manage to convince so many people to blow themselves up in the name of god. So we aren't really in disagreement on this point, we're saying the same thing. I'm just contextualizing it here as a matter of degree to which someone A) embraces faith B) is convinced to act upon the commands of their religious text and C) believes in the truth of the religious commands they are given.
I refuse to call myself either an atheist or a theist because the emperor has no clothes - none of the philosophical terms in the debate have ever gotten anything remotely approaching a rigorous meaning - it is merely a language game. God has no definition and is not a concept, therefore cannot be debated rationally. Wittgenstein said it best when he should have finally shut up - "Whereof one cannot speak, one should be silent."
Forgive me, but I think this is a cop-out answer, as is the oft referred to maxim that the existence of god is unprovable and unknowable. This is where Russel's Teapot comes into play. You can say the exact same thing about a tiny teapot orbiting the sun. That doesn't make the existence or non-existence of the teapot (or god) a 50-50 proposition.
Another weak argument made along these lines is the old stand by "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Well, no.... But an absence of evidence *where there should be some* IS!
I should also add that I don't mean "cop-out answer" as a pejorative reference to you or the OP. I think this response is conditioned through constant repetition. I don't mean to insult anyone, especially considering that I once made these exact same arguments myself.
I was hung up on the false assumption, based on the incorrect use of the terms atheist and agnostic, that I couldn't be an atheist because I can't absolutely prove that god doesn't exist. This is silly and not even accurate. I can prove that god doesn't exist in the same way I can prove that Russel's Teapot doesn't exist, but no one can prove a negative absolutely and this is not a requirement for not believing in something that has no evidence for it's existence and loads of evidence against it's existence.