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What, When, Where, How, Who?


Introduction, Important Definitions and Related Concepts:

A deity is a postulated preternatural or supernatural being, who is always of significant power, worshipped, thought holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, or respected by human beings. Deities assume a variety of forms, but are frequently depicted as having human or animal form. Some faiths and traditions consider it blasphemous to imagine or depict the deity as having any concrete form. They are usually immortal. They are commonly assumed to have personalities and to possess consciousness, intellects, desires, and emotions similar to those of humans. Such natural phenomena as lightning, floods, storms, other 'acts of God', and miracles are attributed to them, and they may be thought to be the authorities or controllers of every aspect of human life (such as birth or the afterlife). Some deities are asserted to be the directors of time and fate itself, to be the givers of human law and morality, to be the ultimate judges of human worth and behavior, and to be the designers and creators of the Earth or the universe. The English word "deity" derives from the Latin "dea", ("goddess"), and '"deus", ("god"). Related are words for "sky": the Latin "dies" ("day") and "divum" ("open sky"), and the Sanskrit "div," "diu" ("sky," "day," "shine"). Also related are "divine" and "divinity," from the Latin "divinus," from "divus." The English word "god" comes from Anglo-Saxon, and similar words are found in many Germanic languages (e.g. the German "Gott" — "God"). Theories and narratives about, and modes of worship of, deities are largely a matter of religion. At present, the vast majority of humans are adherents of some religion, and this has been true for at least thousands of years. Human burials from between 50,000 and 30,000 B.C. provide evidence of human belief in an afterlife and possibly in deities, although it is not clear when human belief in deities became the dominant view. Some deities are thought to be invisible or inaccessible to humans—to dwell mainly in otherworldly, remote or secluded and holy places, such as Heaven/a>, Hell, the sky, the under-world, under the sea, in the high mountains or deep forests, or in a supernatural plane or celestial sphere. Typically, they rarely reveal or manifest themselves to humans, and make themselves known mainly through their effects. Postulated means Assumed without proof; as, a postulated inference. Example 1: He manifested in his dog's brain the free agency of life, by which all the generations of metaphysicians have postulated God, and by which all the deterministic philosophers have been led by the nose despite their clear denouncement of it as sheer illusion. Example 2: The objections to the act (in the case of presentations) are not valid against the believing in the case of beliefs, because the believing is an actual experienced feeling, not something postulated, like the act. The term postulate, or axiom, indicates a starting assumption from which other statements are logically derived. It does not have to be self-evident (constancy of the speed of light in a vacuum is not self-evident, however it was used as a postulate in the special theory of relativity). Some axioms are experimental facts, but some are just assumptions not based on anything. Obviously a chain of logical or mathematical derivations with no beginning is not possible (it would be infinite or circular otherwise). Some initial statements not following from anything (or brought from other fields - say, from experiment) thus are needed to build a logical or mathematical system. These initial statements are called axioms and postulates. Postulates and axioms do not have to be self-evident or intuitively correct, or majority approved. For example, the second postulate of special relativity - constancy of the speed of light - is not self-evident nor intuitively correct, and when first proposed by Einstein was contrary to the majority's opinion. The terms “postulate” and “axiom” are frequently used interchangeably as synonyms for each other (although there is a modern tendency to avoid using the word axiom, replacing it with property or postulate). But there is a difference in connotation that gives a shade of exactness to the definitions. The term "axiom" has been applied historically to those statements that are applicable to a variety of fields of knowledge; for example: equivalence properties (reflexive, symmetric, and transitive); properties of equality and inequality (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, and substitution); the whole is equal to the sum of its parts and is greater than any of its parts; etc. The general applicability of these properties to a wide variety of fields is obvious. On the other hand, postulates apply to one, more specific field of knowledge.

The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beyond (Latin præter) the natural. While this may include what is more commonly called the supernatural, it may also simply indicate extremity — an ordinary phenomenon taken 'beyond' the natural. One may have, for example, a preternatural desire, a preternatural curiosity, a preternaturally acute ear (sense of hearing), or even preternaturally big ears. Often used to distinguish from the divine (supernatural) while maintaining a distinction from the purely natural. For instance, in theology, the angels, both holy and fallen, are endowed with preternatural powers. Their intellect, speed, and other characteristics are beyond human capacities but are still finite. Other examples of preternatural creatures include werewolves, vampires and zombies. Natural: is the action which is proper to the structure of nature. When we speak of nature, we are referring the nature of the material universe. Preternatural: is the action which goes beyond the structure of the nature of the material universe. The fruit of the action of an angelical or demoniacal nature is said to be preternatural. The word comes from "praeter naturam", beyond nature. Supernatural: is the action which goes beyond any created nature. This form of activity belongs only to God. Material nature can bring about surprising things, but it will always be according the the laws of the material cosmos. The devils can levitate an object in the air, transform something instantaneously, etc. The term supernatural or supranatural (Latin: super, supra "above" + natura "nature") pertains to entities, events or powers regarded as beyond nature, in that they cannot be explained by the laws of the natural world. Religious miracles are typical of such “supernatural” claims, as are spells and curses, divination, the belief that there is an afterlife for the dead, and innumerable others. Supernatural themes are often associated with magical and occult ideas. Adherents of supernatural beliefs hold that such occurrences exist just as surely as does the natural world, whereas opponents argue that there are natural, physical explanations for all such occurrences, summed up as

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so."
If we subject everything to reason, our religion will have nothing mysterious or supernatural in it. If we violate the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous."

According to the strict materialist view, if something "supernatural" exists, it is by definition not supernatural. Are there forces beyond the natural forces studied by physics? Are there ways of sensing that go beyond our biological senses and instruments? Certainly there may always be things outside of the realm of human understanding, as of yet unconfirmed and dubious in existence, and some might term these "supernatural". Argument and controversy has surrounded the issue on both sides. One complicating factor is that there is no exact definition of what “natural” is, and what the limits of naturalism might be. Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism. The term "supernatural" is often used interchangeably with paranormal or preternatural — the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed the bounds of possibility. See the nature of God in Western theology, anthropology of religion, and Biblical cosmology. Likewise, legendary characters such as vampires, poltergeists and leprechauns would be considered supernatural. In ontology, the study of being, being is anything that can be said to be, either transcendentally or immanently. The nature of being varies by philosophy, giving different interpretations in the frameworks of Aristotle, materialism, idealism, existentialism, Islam, and Marxism. Some philosophers deny that the concept of "being" has any meaning at all, since we only define an object's existence by its relation to other objects, and actions it undertakes. The term "I am" has no meaning by itself; it must have an action or relation appended to it. This in turn has led to the thought that "being" and nothingness are closely related, developed in existential philosophy. Existentialist philosophers such as Sartre, as well as continental philosophers such as Hegel and Heidegger have also written extensively on the concept of being. Hegel distinguishes between the being of objects (being in itself) and the being of people (Geist). Hegel, however, did not think there was much hope for delineating a "meaning" of being, because being stripped of all predicates is simply nothing. Heidegger, in his quest to re-pose the original pre-Socratic questions of Being (of why is there something rather than nothing), wondered at how to meaningfully ask the question of the meaning of being, since it is both the greatest, as it includes everything that is, and the least, since no particular thing can be said of it. He distinguishes between different modes of beings: a privative mode is present-at-hand, whereas beings in a fuller sense are described as ready-to-hand. The one who asks the question of Being is described as Da-sein ("there/here-being") or being-in-the-world. Sartre, popularly understood as misreading Heidegger (an understanding supported by Heidegger's essay "Letter on Humanism" which responds to Sartre's famous address, "Existentialism is a Humanism"), employs modes of being in an attempt to ground his concept of freedom ontologically by distinguishing between being-in-itself and being-for-itself. The nature of "being" has also been debated and explored in Islamic philosophy, notably by Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, and Mulla Sadra.[1] The question of the relation between being and consciousness, such as might be manifested in artificial intelligence, is a theme of science fiction, such as that raised in the I, robot series of stories by Isaac Asimov, and in the presentation of HAL-9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, both the novel by Arthur C. Clarke and the film by Stanley Kubrick.

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being. - Carl Jung

Under the heading ‘Individuality in Thought and Desire’, Karl Marx, (German Ideology 1845), states,

"It depends not on consciousness, but on being; not on thought, but on life; it depends on the individual's empirical development and manifestation of life, which in turn depends on the conditions existing in the world."

wor·ship  (wûrshp)
The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object. The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.
Ardent devotion; adoration. often Worship Chiefly British Used as a form of address for magistrates, mayors, and certain other dignitaries: Your Worship.
v. wor·shiped or wor·shipped, wor·ship·ing or wor·ship·ping, wor·ships
To honor and love as a deity. To regard with ardent or adoring esteem or devotion. See Synonyms at revere1.
To participate in religious rites of worship. To perform an act of worship.
[Middle English worshipe, worthiness, honor, from Old English weorthscipe : weorth, worth; see worth1 + -scipe, -ship.] worship·er, worship·per n.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

Entries 1 to 10 of 30.

Main Entry:

ho·ly Listen to the pronunciation of holy
Inflected Form(s):
ho·li·er; ho·li·est
Middle English, from Old English hālig; akin to Old English hāl whole — more at whole
before 12th century
exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness divine <for the Lord our God is holy — Psalms 99:9(Authorized Version)> devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity <a holy temple> <holy prophets> a: having a divine quality <holy love> venerated as or as if sacred <holy scripture> <a holy relic> used as an intensive <this is a holy mess><he was a holy terror when he drank — Thomas Wolfe> ; often used in combination as a mild oath <holy smoke> ho·li·ly Listen to the pronunciation of holily \-lə-lē\ adverb
Learn more about "holy" and related topics at Britannica.com  Divinity and divine (sometimes 'the Divinity' or 'the Divine'), are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power, or its attributes or manifestations in the world. The root of the words is literally 'Godlike' (from the Latin 'Deus', cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek 'Zeus' and Deva in Sanskrit), but the use varies significantly depending on which god is being discussed. For academic or professional uses of the terms, see Divinity (academic discipline), or Divine (Anglican)

There are three distinct usages of divinity and divine in religious discourse:

Overlap occurs between these usages because deities or godlike entities are often identical with and/or identified by the powers and forces that are credited to them — in many cases a deity is merely a power or force personified — and these powers and forces may then be extended or granted to mortal individuals. For instance, throughout much of the Old Testament Yahweh is closely associated with storms and thunder: He is said to speak in thunder, and thunder is seen as a token of His anger. This power was then extended to prophets like Moses and Samuel, who caused thunderous storms to rain down on their enemies. Divinity in monotheistic faiths always carries connotations of goodness, beauty, beneficence, justice, and other positive, pro-social attributes. In these faiths there is an equivalent cohort of malefic supranormal beings and powers, such as demons, devils, afreet, etc., which are not conventionally referred to as divine; demonic is often used instead. Pan- and polytheistic faiths make no such distinction; gods and other beings of transcendent power often have complex, ignoble, or even irrational motivations for their acts. Note that while the terms demon and demonic are used in monotheistic faiths as antonyms to divine, they are in fact derived from the Greek word daimón (δαίμων), which itself translates as divinity. In monotheistic faiths, the word divinity is often used to refer to the single, supreme being central to that faith. Often the word takes the definite article and is capitalized — "the Divinity" — as though it were a proper name or definitive honorific. Thus Yahweh, Allah, and Jehovah are sometimes referred to as 'the Divinities' of their particular faiths. Divine — capitalized — may be used as an adjective to refer to the manifestations of such a Divinity or its powers: e.g. "basking in the Divine presence..." The terms divinity and divine — uncapitalized, and lacking the definite article — are sometimes used as to denote 'god(s) [1] or certain other beings and entities which fall short of godhood but lie outside the human realm. Holiness, or sanctity, is the state of being holy or sacred, that is, set apart for the worship or service of gods. It could also mean being set apart to pursue (or to already have achieved) a sacred state or goal, such as Nirvana. It is often ascribed to people, objects, times, or places. The French sociologist Emile Durkheim emphasized the social nature of religion, in contrast to other leading thinkers of his day such as William James, who emphasized individual experience. Based on studies of Indigenous Australians, Durkheim proposed that most central to religion was not deity but the distinction between sacred and profane: "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden."[1] In Durkheim's theory, the sacred represented the interests of the group, especially unity, which were embodied in sacred group symbols, totems. The profane, on the other hand, involved mundane individual concerns. Durkheim explicitly stated that the dichotomy sacred/profane was not equivalent to good/evil: the sacred could be good or evil, and the profane could be either as well.[2] The German theologian Rudolf Otto, in The Idea of the Holy (originally in German, Das Heilige), defined the holy as an experience of something "wholly other," most famously mysterium tremendum et fascinans, a frightening and fascinating mystery.[3] (He was following the tradition of Friedrich Schleiermacher, who defined religion as a feeling or experience rather than adherence to doctrine.) Otto claimed that this experience was unlike any other; the subject experienced the spirit (the numinous, in Otto's terminology) as overwhelming, sublime, truly real, while he or she was nothing. Mircea Eliade, among the most influential twentieth-century scholars of religion, adopted Durkheim's terminology, but Otto's idea. Eliade defined the sacred as "equivalent to a power, and in the last analysis, to reality."[4] Like Otto, Eliade insisted that this experience was not reducible to any other experience: in other words, that the sacred is not a mere experience, such as a hallucination, but it really exists. Eliade's analysis of religion focused on the sacred, especially sacred time and sacred space, and very many comparative religion and religious studies scholars in the twentieth century followed him, though scholars such as Jonathan Z. Smith and Russell McCutcheon have challenged his theories. The word "sacred" descends from the Latin sacrum, which referred to the gods or anything in their power, and to sacer, priest; sanctum, set apart. Blasphemy is the disrespectful use of the name of one or more gods. It may include using sacred names as stress expletives without intention to pray or speak of sacred matters; it is also sometimes defined as language expressing disapproved beliefs, or disbelief. Sometimes blasphemy is used loosely to mean any profane language. In a broader sense, blasphemy is irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable. In this broader sense the term is used by Sir Francis Bacon in Advancement of Learning, when he speaks of "blasphemy against learning". Many cultures disapprove of speech or writing which defames the deity or deities of their established religions, and these restrictions have the force of law in some countries. From Middle English blasfemen, from Old French blasfemer, from Late Latin blasphemare, from Greek blasphemein, from blaptein, "to injure", and pheme, "reputation". Blasphemy, which was opposed to "euphemy" (see euphemism), and has also given "blame" from Old French blasmer. There has been a recent tendency in Western countries towards the repeal or reform of blasphemy laws, and these laws are only infrequently enforced where they exist. In those Western countries in which blasphemy laws still exist they have often been altered to include blasphemy regardless of religion[citation needed].


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