Here’s another common dodge—not a dodge, a common response: “What God is, is a concept; it’s a concept in people’s minds; it’s a concept that enriches their spirits and inspires them.” If you believe this, you’re definitely an atheist. God is not a concept; the concept of God is a concept. A cup of coffee is not a concept; the concept of a cup of coffee is a concept. Elementary philosophy.
I have a term for this: it’s called a deepity. A friend of mine, when his teenage daughter many years ago—a nice smart alec girl—and dad was in the habit of uttering pronouncements at the dinner table (an MIT professor) and one day he issued forth one of these wise tidbits, and his daughter said, “Wow! Dad said a deepity.” He told me about that and I thought the term was just so great that I would appropriate it.
So what’s a deepity? A deepity is an apparently profound observation that is ambiguous. And I mean that quite literally. It has two readings. On one meaning, it’s obviously false, but if it were true, it would be very important. And on the other, it’s trivially true. And so when you hear it, you sort of see, “Oh, I think that’s true!” It is. It’s trivially true. Or at the same time, “Woa!” That’s a deepity.
I want to give you one of my favorite examples of a deepity. When I teach this concept to my students. Are you ready? Everybody sitting down?
“Love is just a word.”
Oh, wow! Love is just a word! Think about it. Whatever love is, it isn’t a word. You can’t find love in the dictionary. Put the quotation marks around it—we philosophers are sticklers about this; it’s called a use-mention error—and you get “love” is just a word. That’s true and it’s trivially true. “Cheeseburger” is just a word. “Word” is just a word. So that’s a deepity.
Now, the idea that God is a concept is another great deepity.