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What is an objective, scientifically precise word meaning of or relating to God?

(To be clear, I mean scientific only in the context of having scientific precision, a word that would describe the phenomenon from an unbiased, if not objective, point of view.)

Theistic, as it implies the existence of a single deity only, while theodicy entails "the vindication of divine goodness and providence in view of the existence of evil," which is too partial.

For example, what word would best fill the blank in the phrase "a series of ____ visits," meaning "a series of visits by God"?

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The words Scientific and God do not play nice together. –  Der Flatulator Aug 26 '13 at 9:10
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I note you have capitalised God in your question, thus using it as a personal noun and implying the Christian god. Is that your intent, or did you mean to refer to god(s) generically? –  TrevorD Aug 26 '13 at 11:47
    
You say, "God," but then say that you want to rule out theistic as it implies a single deity. Did you really mean to use capital-G-God, as is the title/given name of the Christian god? –  Kaz Dragon Aug 26 '13 at 11:48
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It's not relevant whether science and God play nice with each other; science and language don't play nice with each other! It is rare to find the precision needed for science in ordinary language, which is why there's so much field-specific jargon. When you want to be clear in a scientific context, you use as many words as it takes to be unambiguous. –  Rex Kerr Aug 26 '13 at 14:12
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'Theistic' does not imply the existence of a single deity. 'Monotheistic' does. –  David Navarre Aug 26 '13 at 18:49
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13 Answers

up vote 79 down vote accepted

Something "of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God or god" is divine.

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Though you have chosen divine, I will put in my vote for godly—“a godly visit”. It can be capitalised if you mean to refer to a specific god, and to my eye Godly is less obtrusive than Divine, which looks a bit like the old convention of capitalising personified nouns.

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+1 I was going to say "godly" also. –  Buttle Butkus Aug 26 '13 at 6:42
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As far as I know the word "godly" means pious, devout. So it is more about indicating the attitude of a person rather than the divine origins of a phonemenon. –  Boluc Papuccuoglu Aug 26 '13 at 10:50
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@BolucPapuccuoglu: Wiktionary gives both “of or pertaining to a god” and “devoted to a god”. –  Jon Purdy Aug 26 '13 at 17:34
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Perhaps consider an alternative wording. Rather than "a series of _ visits", perhaps you're looking a "a series of theophanies".

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A theophany is a visit from a god or God. +1 good choice –  jim mcnamara Aug 27 '13 at 11:04
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"Divine" is "of or pertaining to gods or a god". So "a series of divine visits" would be a series of visits by a god. Which god might be implicit in the context. If you made clear that the context as being Christianity for instance then it would be clear that the god in question is Yahweh.

If you want a word that specifies a particular god distinct from any others as clearly as possible, then use the god's name in possessive form. "a series of Yahweh's visits" for instance would make it clear that the visits were by Yahweh rather than Ahura Mazda or Eris. I don't know if Yahweh worshippers consider "God" capitalized like that to be a name, but if not, you could use it the same way "a series of God's visits". A name in possession form is as much a word as any other word, and has the meaning of "belonging to or otherwise associated with [whatever the named thing is]"

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By Christianity do you mean Judaism? –  Mehrdad Aug 26 '13 at 9:08
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@Mehrdad Check your logic. Christianity context implies Yahweh, in the same way that Jewish context also implies Yahweh. –  MετάEd Aug 26 '13 at 12:33
    
@MετάEd Because Christians do consider capitalised 'God' to be a name, smithkm's statement "I don't know if Yahweh worshippers consider "God" capitalized like that to be a name" could be read as implying that he is not - or not solely - referring to Christianity. –  TrevorD Aug 26 '13 at 13:08
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@TrevorD Mehrdad is mistaking OP's "Christianity implies Yahweh" in the paragraph for "Yahweh implies Christianity". Hence it is immaterial for Mehrdad to point out that "Yahweh also implies Judaism". It's true of course, but misses the point. –  MετάEd Aug 26 '13 at 16:05
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Since you are asking about a term with a scientific orientation, you might consider supernatural.

of or relating to things that cannot be explained according to natural laws

This would indicate that the activities being discussed are outside the realm of scientific study (except perhaps the study of the individuals reporting the incidents). The term divine offered by others is a good choice, but suggests some level of acceptance of the power of a godlike being, which may not fit with the scientific approach to the study.

If however, the term is merely intended to reflect the views of some participant in the activity being characterized, then divine may be fine, as in

The scientists measured the level of euphoria in the devoted who reported what they considered to be divine visits.

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Numinous, which means

having a strong religious or spiritual quality; indicating or suggesting the presence of a divinity

This term was used by philosophy and religious studies professors when I was in college.

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Though divine fills in your particular blank perfectly, here are a few other words that can be useful in this context:

immanent
adj
1. existing, operating, or remaining within; inherent
2. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) of or relating to the pantheistic conception of God, as being present throughout the universe Compare transcendent

celestial
adj.
1. Of or relating to the sky or the heavens: Planets are celestial bodies.
2. Of or relating to heaven; divine: celestial beings.
3. Supremely good; sublime: celestial happiness.
4. Celestial Of or relating to the Chinese people or to the former Chinese Empire.

supernal
adj.
1. Celestial; heavenly.
2. Of, coming from, or being in the sky or high above.

numinous
1. Of or relating to a numen; supernatural.
2. Filled with or characterized by a sense of a supernatural presence: a numinous place.
3. Spiritually elevated; sublime.

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your logical deductions on are par with: gerrycanavan.tumblr.com/post/56696020022/… –  amatorVitae Aug 26 '13 at 21:31
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@amatorVitae what deductions? I just cite three dictionary definitions, all of which mention the divine. I am deducing nothing. Thanks for the link by the way, the Catholics do indeed seem t have a sense of humor. –  terdon Aug 26 '13 at 22:37
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It depends on the denomination that you're referring to and the target demographic of your writing but typically in my experience people of a Christian background break things up into the "worldly" and the "spiritual"

So, you could say - ""a series of spiritual visits,".

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"Spiritual" covers a lot more ground than just gods. –  LarsH Aug 26 '13 at 18:49
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Holy is the word you are looking for. Leviticus 11:44 I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground.

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How about deistic? Pertaining to god(s)?

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The problem is that you're asking for a "scientifically precise word" relating to God. I doubt you'll find one.

Maybe "divine" might fit, but that word supposes the existence of a wide variety of gods.

More than that, there have been no God-visits since the Old Testament. (Jesus' arrival wasn't a "visit", as that implies a short stay.)

"Theistic", according to one dictionary, "adj., relating to theism or a person who believes in the doctrine of theism", so "theistic visit" wouldn't make sense.

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How does divine imply the existence of a "wide variety of gods"? I think monotheists use that term all the time without intending that implication. –  The Photon Aug 26 '13 at 4:17
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I meant scientific only in the context of having scientific precision, a word that would describe the phenomenon from an unbiased (if not objective) point of view. –  WChargin Aug 26 '13 at 4:33
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Let me begin by saying that 'theistic' does not imply the existence of a single deity only, that would be 'monotheistic'.

This brings me to the point that the best answer to your question depends on the God you're trying to explain. Are you looking for a term which encompasses all deities, or a particular deity; are you trying to include non-personified deities, or non-deific spiritual constructions too?

If you want to be inclusive, I'd opt for words like spiritual, which is nicely open-ended; Godly, which is a little awkward because of its use as an adjective for piety or devotion; or Divine.

"A series of deific visits" is good middle-ground... It doesn't specify a deity, but to go into any more detail would require tacking on ugly words like Judeo-Christean or Abrahamic before your adjective. I suppose you could take the slightly more specific wording, and call them "monotheistic visits", but that is awkward and only serves to draw attention to the fact that you're lacking a word to describe the particular deity.

If we were being poetical, rather than scientific with our naming, we could allude to a deity through that deities characteristics ie: 'a series of omniscient visits', but that implies that omniscience is part of the visits themselves (demonstrated through the occurrence of these visits, etc). This could perhaps work better with a word like transcendence; if the visits were perceived to have occurred outside of the realms of space and time. This also works for terms like celestial.

A third option (and probably the best) is to avoid the question entirely and simply specify your deity by re-ordering your sentence as "in a series of visits from ____".

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To throw some more in the mix: You say you want something scientific . . .

Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology deals with questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist, and how such entities can be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

^ From Wikipedia

I thought of Ontology or Ontological from an example: the mathematician Godel published an "Ontological" argument which, to him, is a "proof" of the existence of "God", i.e. some supernatural property attached to everything. The proof.

Though the phrase "a series of ontological visits" doesn't really make sense, any ontological discussion surely is of a divine topic -- of concerning the existence and/or meaning of reality and/or our interaction with it.

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Absolutely not, what gave you that idea? Godel's argument is an ontological argument about God but there is nothing divine in the definition of ontology, read the definition you have posted. I could present an anatomical argument for the existence of God (I doubt I could present a good one mind you) and publish it but that does not mean that anatomical is in any way related to the divine. –  terdon Aug 26 '13 at 17:34
    
i love -1's. Do explain, how is the "philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations" not "of or relating to God"? –  amatorVitae Aug 26 '13 at 20:44
    
And for further humilation, please provide a counter-example to the converse as well (that there exists something "of or relating to God" that has nothing to do with the "philosophical study of the nature of being, becoming, existence, or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations"). –  amatorVitae Aug 26 '13 at 20:51
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Sorry, but the study of the nature of being has nothing at all to do witn God. You are free to believe in anything you please and existence may imply divine intervention in your belief system but don't impose your beliefs on the language. Ontology comes from an ancient Greek root that means "to exist", "to be". The definition you cite in your answer makes no mention of God or the divine and neither is the divine implied in the study of existence. I have spent the last three years working eith various ontologies, this one for example, in a secular context. –  terdon Aug 26 '13 at 22:33
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