God, Or Whatever You Want To Call It

October 30, 2012

“God, or whatever you want to call it” is a phrase that is frequently heard in the spiritual community. The phrase has become so familiar and commonly used that nobody seems to take much notice of it.

Often you will hear an extension of the phrase, such as, “God, Spirit, Being, or whatever you want to call it.”

Or, “God, Source, Oneness, Universal Mind, or whatever you want to call it.”

Or, “God, Divine Energy, Cosmic Consciousness, The I Am, The Higher Self, The Unified Field, or whatever you want to call it.”

God. Or whatever.

Just what does this lack of precision indicate?

First of all, you never hear people say, “God, Allah, Yahweh, Brahma, or whatever you want to call it.”

There is a message in that omission. The message is, “I am not talking about comparative religion. I am talking about spirituality. You have been alerted to the context.”

Now, to give multiplicity its due, here are the possible meanings of the phrase that you do hear people say—“God, or whatever you want to call it,”—however you want to translate it:

“The word ‘God’ is very vague.”

“There are lots of words for ‘God’ ”.

“No single, particular, or unique word is fully adequate to name God.”

“The word ‘God’ is synonymous with all of these other things.”

Sometimes, the speaker delivers the phrase as if revealing something to the audience:

“I am teaching you that there are many words for ‘God’.”

“I am providing you with new concepts of what God is.”

“I am giving you permission to call God whatever you want to.”

“I am showing you words that deflect the religious connotations of the word ‘God.’ ”

The translation also depends on the tone of voice of the speaker:

(said warmly) “Let’s all be tolerant of each other’s diverse perspectives.”

(said bemusedly) “Everybody is saying the same thing but they don’t realize it.”

(said expressionlessly) “I’m reciting what’s politically correct.”

(said dismissively) “You know the drill.”

But perhaps the real translation is, “None of these words stick because what-God-is ultimately defies being named.”

Answers From Silence says, “ ‘I’ and ‘God’. In my best moments, those would just be two names for the same nameless thing.”