Sample Material
What is Your Metaphor of God?

In March of 2006, the Montgomery County Science and Religion Discussion Group,
which has been meeting for nine years, engaged in a discussion of how each participant
views God. Instead of focusing on doctrinal statements, each person was asked to write
down on a 3 x 5 card how they would complete this sentence: “God is like …? “. The
purpose was to discover the personal, poetic, metaphorical ways in which the participants
understand God. The exercise is quite enriching, providing that safe, open and supportive
ground rules are laid out ahead of time.

Below, find some of the rich metaphors shared by members of the group and by scholars
who were asked to participate prior to the meeting.

Models of God
(Science and Religion Discussion Group, March 12, 2006, at Grace United Methodist
Church, Gaithersburg, MD)

God is the ultimate source force and force source of my world. The laws of which, some
we know and some yet to be discovered. Your God is that which you worship and glorify.
What is the kingdom within like? It is like an inner radiance that shines on the whole
world. From my own experience of God: Model- Light, in Mystical Experience, in a near
death experience. Light - Relativity - at light speed time and space disappear.  Time
intervals become infinitely large so time stops.  Space intervals, at least in the direction
the light wave is traveling becomes infinitely small, so space disappears.  Light transcends
God is unmodelable, however... God is a tough God, who created the world in which
there is great suffering, from AIDS to earth quakes but one who also created us, with the
capacity to care and love and to develop the technology to ameliorate the suffering.  So I
try not to ask God for anything, but give thanks for my life.
God is a presence, a wisdom, a constant, a provider of an environment for mankind to
experience humanity and every mysterious element of being alive.
A metaphor is a speech figure that stands for something - we need at core to get beyond
metaphor to reality itself - Historical religion is largely metaphor.
Proper Language - God: self causing being entailed by a caused universe.
Science - Getting in back of metaphor to physical reality
Metaphysics - getting in back of metaphor to the reality dimension.
God is the ground of Being, The source of all the matter and energy/ all the time and
space of this universe.
My model (or metaphor) of God is a mirror. I think the best view or reflection that we
have of God is by looking at ourselves (and others). This insight, however, is lost because
of the concept of sin, especially original sin, which teaches us that to view ourselves as
God is evil.
My basic belief is that we must have many metaphors, images, names for God and to
limit ourselves to only one or two is idolatry. I do not think we can have a model of God.
God is:
- above all mystery Holy Mystery
- Light
- Holy Energy
- Love
- enveloping, penetrating Presence
- Create of ongoing creation.
God is a fireman running up the stairs of a collapsing building (metaphor of the kenotic
attribute of God).
Imminence of the future - unstoppable, overwhelming, and unknowable - is the
tremendum from god, and the font of miracles.
God is "ultimate concern" from Paul Tillich (c.a. 1950) or God is Love (from 1 John)
God is the everlasting bubble energizing beauty, love and hope encompassing the crazy
quilt of reality through perpetual creativity.  
Models and Metaphors of the Sacred (God)
(Solicited prior to the March 12 meeting)
From John Sweeney, Center for Process Studies
The two images/models/phrases the most frequently come to my imagination are both
from Whitehead's Process and Reality: God as the poet of the world, and God as the
fellow-sufferer who understands.  Below please find part of the quotations within which
these images are found.  
1. ". . . (God) is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by (the Divine)
vision of truth, beauty, and goodness." (p. 346, corrected edition)
2. " . . . God is the great companion, the fellow-sufferer who understands."
From V. V. Raman, Rochester Institute of Technology
Some Thoughts on the Unfathomable
1. God is the abstract, incomprehensible, cosmic principle whose existence I can never
prove through my logical/rational/analytical/experimental capabilities to an unbeliever's
satisfaction, but of whose unfathomable existence I am at least as certain as of my own
conscious self.
2. God is an entity I need to envisage so that there will be someone/something to
whom/which I can express my gratitude for this span of experience (however brief) that
is my conscious life which is made up of love and laughter, friends and opportunities to
be kind, compassionate and to serve.
God is there in the atom’s core
And in galactic stretches too.
More ancient than the Cosmic Bang,
Yet, ever fresh and new.
Some prove a God, some disprove,
With logic as their start.
But no one can or ever will move
God from the faithful’s heart.
Let mockers mock and donkeys bray;
Let scholars take a side.
The God to whom people pray,
Isn’t proved, but felt inside.
From Kendall Soulen, Wesley Theological Seminary
"God is the eternal Wisdom whose earthly reflection is Jesus"
From Gary Dorrien, Union Theological Seminary:
In my days as a church pastor I gave a sermon that analogized divine reality as being
something like electricity--a mysterious invisible force, the whole world is full of it, yet
none of it will do us any good if we are not wired to receive it.
From Shannon Age 7:
God is the love in our hearts.
Dave Fourney:
God is that accomplishment on the cross that changes finite and sinful man.
Bob Ulanowicz (University of Maryland Ecologist)
"God is that which calls us into being."
Van Wente
God is our great Lawmaker, originator of all the laws of Physics, Chemistry, Biological
Evolution where selfishness reigns, and Social Evolution where unselfishness reigns. The
laws are self enforcing. (I have no model for this Lawmaker, but know it is NOT the US
Gilles Lisimaque
We do not see the air around us but feel its effects
Without it we die (our requirement for life)
If we refuse to breathe it we die (our choice)
If we pollute it (with sin) we die faster
We see the leaves moving because of it (presence)
We feel its strength when there is a storm (power)
We can rely on it to fly if we have enough wings (faith)
It carries odors and sound from others (communication)
We can store some for a while but need to renew it frequently when we use it
God IS Love.
The One "in whom we live and move and have our being." (panentheism)
The One who ever calls and lures me forward. (process theology)
Our best model (humanly) is the person of Jesus Christ. ("the image of the invisible
Walt Shropshire, Jr.:
"I believe God is a spirit who created and sustains all that is. God established the
invariant, dependable laws and constants of the cosmos which makes scientific study
possible and yet God is also accessible to us in a personal way as a loving and caring God
who answers prayer and participates in our lives through the activity of the Holy Spirit. “
James Wiseman (St. Anselm’s Abbey & Catholic University)
My first thought (and the Buddhists always say "first thought, best thought") is that God
is an alluring lover. This helps in the science/religion discussion by avoiding a model that
would understand God as coercively making things happen. Rather, God draws all things
to Godself in an inviting, attracting way.
(The notion of "drawing toward" is, of course, scripturally rooted, as in some verses of
the Song of Songs. Some Christian mystics have made a lot of this, especially ones in the
Carmelite tradition. John Haught has also written some good material on this theme, and I
touch on it in parts of my own book.)
Rick Barr
God is the Garden in which all things grow.
Metaphors of God