God is best understood as a metaphor and to say a metaphor either “really exists” or “doesn’t exist” is to completely misunderstand the nature and purpose of a metaphor. That said, there are definitely people out there that think god is something like “a Magical Old Man with a Beard in the Clouds.” I was raised Mormon, and to Mormons the trinity is literally three separate entities. God is really Christ’s father and both have bodies of flesh and blood according to Mormon theology. Only the Holy Ghost is a spirit. While Mormonism is outside the mainstream of Christianity when it comes to its views regarding the trinity, Mormons are hardly the only people to believe god literally exists in some physical form or another. Keep in mind energy and/or consciousness is just as physical as something taking bodily or some other readily identifiable form, so to talk about god in those terms is really no different than to describe “him” as “an old man in the clouds.” Indeed, to say god really exists (or not) at all is to frame the god question in clearly physical terms. Whether that god’s physical nature takes a bodily form or not is really neither here nor there. What can existence mean outside a physical context?

Regardless, if you’re involved in an effort to either define what god is or isn’t, you’re missing the point. Most “angry atheists” are reacting to literalism — or fundamentalism if you prefer. To be fair if someone argues (as many definitely do) that Genesis is literally true, that Noah was literally able to put two of every creature onto a boat far too small to hold them, or that intelligent design should be taught to our children right along side evolution it’s easy to see why atheists and others would get a little upset. Of course, we haven’t even talked about the people who kill in the name of their god or gods. These people clearly do see the being they worship as something quite real. However, nobody who treats their god as a metaphor has, to my knowledge, earned much wrath from atheists or anybody else. Nor should they.

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US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

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