For there to be meaningful discussion about the existence of god there must a clear ontology for this proposed being. Nevertheless when it comes this question most people, self-described theists and atheists alike, almost always overlook this issue. There are many different gods in which people profess belief and many different descriptions supplied which allegedly define god but these are illusory. Some define gods in terms of particular attributes: Omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenvolence, etc, but such a list of attributes merely defines what god can do not what god is and reveals nothing about the “it” these traits are supposed to be assigned to.
Others define god with secondary relational qualities: Creator, loving, father, first cause, etc, but these too give no hint at what exactly these qualities are supposed to be assigned to. This becomes apparent if you attempted to define a person by solely listing such features: Mother, sister, boss. A person is not these relational qualities but rather a certain pattern of matter (if you must be specific a temporally continuous specific pattern of matter which is distinct from the outside world and so on…) to which those secondary characteristics are applied to.
Still others define gods in terms of what god is not: god is non-physical, atemporal, ineffable, supernatural. Saying what something isn’t is not a coherent description just as saying a person is non-conceptual does not tell you what a person is. Moreover merely describing something in undefined terms or as the “unknowable” itself adds nothing to the coherent description of this entity. Additionally if god is defined as ineffable then what are we talking about? How can believers say nonbelievers fail to believe in “the indefinable?”
Lastly there are those who describe god as love, energy, the universe, etc. but these are mere equivocations. We already have words for these terms and unless something additional is implied it is nonsensical and redundant to just call that entity god. If some additional trait or quality is implied then not only is god not love, energy, etc, but those traits need to be clearly stated and defined, a task yet to be accomplished.
In no other area of discourse is it acceptable to present arguments for an entity before it is even defined with a comprehensible positive ontology yet theists have for millennia been presenting arguments for this yet unspecified entity and skeptics, myself included, have been refuting these arguments. These discussions are about god, but what is god? Apparently no one knows but if the subject at hand can’t be defined there is nothing to debate and hence the discussion is over before it can even begin. If anyone, no matter your religious views, has an explanation for why this isn’t the case and can show me what, if anything, I am missing I’d like to hear it.
Last Edited 5/9/12