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Is the following sentence grammatically correct and does it make any sense?

"Humans made god to live in pieces and not peace."

It was posted by some atheist in response to this quote:

"God made us to live in peace and not pieces."

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closed as off topic by RegDwigнt Nov 29 '12 at 21:49

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6 Answers

I would say it is grammatical and how much sense it makes depends on your interpretation of it.

Humans made god to live in pieces and not in peace

means, to me, that humans invented gods to reinforce living in separate groups that maintain non-peaceful relations with other groups. It's not the clearest way to say that but it does closely match the original sound-bite.

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Humans made god implies one god, not groups of gods. I would understand that men invented god as patchwork, from which they can choose the parts they like, contradicting, and not in peace, fullness, completeness. –  malach Oct 5 '10 at 10:07
    
@Ralph: You can take that interpretation, it's reasonable. I think whether we say "a patchwork-god" or just "various gods" is a matter of theological philosophy and not grammar :) –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Oct 5 '10 at 12:43
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Edit: My original interpretation was incorrect. See Comments by Colin Fine and Benjol, plus the answer posted by Mr. Shiny and New.

The confusion regarding these two sentences revolves around the phrase to live in pieces, which must be interpreted based on context. This phrase exists implicitly in the original sentence, and explicitly in the atheist's response.

I originally though that to live in pieces really meant to die, used in contrast to living in peace. Colin Fine pointed out that it probably means to live in disparate groups, and I agree.

The first part of the original sentence makes sense on its own: God made us to live in peace. The second part makes some sacrifices in order to keep the quote short and to make use of the rhyming between peace and piece. The fragment not in pieces is missing both subject and verb, which implies that they should be borrowed from the first part of the sentence:

God made us to live in peace and not [to live in] pieces.

This sentence conveys two ideas:

  1. God made humans
  2. God wants/expects humans to live in harmony

The sentence written by the atheist is intended to contradict the meaning of the original sentence using the same basic structure, but flipping some of the parts. Following the same logic as above, his response should be interpreted as follows:

  1. Humans made god
  2. Humans use god as an excuse for conflict
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I disagree with e.James on several points. I think there is nothing ungrammatical about either sentence. Even if "to live in pieces" is not an established phrase that does not make it ungrammatical. And I disagree about the interpretation of it: I take it to mean "to live in disparate groups, rather than as unified humanity" - a poetic interpretation, to be sure, but one that I think is both plausible, and in keeping with what both sentences are evidently intended to say. (In the atheists' case, the implication is that it is belief in god that divides us). –  Colin Fine Oct 4 '10 at 12:14
    
I think @Colin is right here, in any case that's how I understand it. Short, pithy phrases are like poetry, you stretch the 'normal' rules of grammar and meaning in order to package your thoughts elegantly, and also sometimes to jolt people into actually thinking about what you're trying to convey. –  Benjol Oct 5 '10 at 5:31
    
@Colin Fine: Interesting. I interpreted the expression differently, but your explanation makes more sense. At any rate, you're absolutely right about my choice of words. "live in pieces" may be grammatically correct, but I feel that it is semantically incorrect. I'll change my answer accordingly. –  e.James Oct 5 '10 at 5:43
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I think it makes sense, but it would be easier to understand if we added "for them", like this:

"Humans made god for them to live in pieces and not peace."

Some languages such as Galician have a form of the infinitive called the conjugated infinitive, in which an infinitive (such as "to live") can be modified to point to a specific person and number; it would look something like this:

"Humans made god to-live-them in pieces and not peace."

English does not have that kind of construction and instead needs to add a couple of words to the infinitive "to live" as in my example above to achieve the same effect.

Whether or not the sentence is understandable when eliding those two words is another matter.

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God made us to live in peace and not in peaces

I would propose that the original writer is talking about God (of a monotheistic religion). Answering from a Christian view point, this sentence would mean:

Apart from God, and as most of us experience and feel in real life, we are but patchwork, incomplete, something missing. Sometimes we feel shattered into pieces, most the time we don't feel complete and at peace with ourselves. Yet in a living relationship with God we find peace.

Now, I am not going to debate the statement here. But it will give trhe necessary context for the interpretation of the answer

Humans made god to live in pieces and not peace.

Men, in the opinion of the atheist most probably invented god, but it could be interpreted as well as turned god into a being to be what he likes it to be, a patchwork to take parts and leave others. As man interprets and defines god at wish, god himself cannot live in peace, as he contradicts himself depending on definition.

The sentence itself is grammatically correct, but hard to interpret without context. Which is OK.

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It's just somebody trying to sound clever; not really worth analysing. "God" should have a capital "G" though.

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"Humans made god to live in pieces and not peace."

There is a manifest ambiguity, which makes it a poor sentence. Does god live one way or the other; or do humans?

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