Maybe God Wasn't Always a Deity

Maybe God Wasn't Always a Deity



Image Description: Ed from Good Burger reading a paper and saying, "I Know Some of These Words"


Etymology is the study of the origin of words. 

Etymology is interested in language and its history. Etymology involves researching translations, artifacts, written documents and cultural lore. The study tracks connections between words, meanings and their evolution over time and across languages.




God is a popular concept in thought and conversation. The word "God" has humble, architectural roots. 

Below is an etymology chart provided by EtymologyGeek with a map of the common uses of "God" and their definitions over time periods and regions. The website provides visual flow charts and related terms.

If you can't find a term you're looking for on EtymologyGeek, check out Oxford English Dictionary (,,, and also Reddit forums. There's surprisingly tons of academic links and citations on Reddit.

The English word 'God' comes from Proto-Indian-European *gʰadʰ-, Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰw-, Proto-Indo-European - -tós, and later Proto-Germanic *gōdaz meaning "Good." 


Image Description: A Visual Guide of the Etymology of God, Translated to Text in the Chart Below
Dictionary entry Language Definition
*gʰadʰ- Proto-Indo-European (ine-pro) to gather, align, match
*ǵʰw- Proto-Indo-European (ine-pro)  
- -tós Proto-Indo-European (ine-pro)  
*gōdą Proto-Germanic (gem-pro)  
*gadaną Proto-Germanic (gem-pro)  
*gōdaz Proto-Germanic (gem-pro) Good.
*ǵʰutós Proto-Indo-European (ine-pro) Invoked. Poured.
*guþóm Proto-Germanic (gem-pro)  
gōd Old English (ang)  
*gudą Proto-Germanic (gem-pro) God, deity.
god Old English (ang) Good, appropriate, pleasing God, the Christian god. God Good; goodness, benefit, well-being.
good Middle English (enm) Good (morally right).. Good (of good quality).
god English (eng) (very, rare) To deify.. To idolize. (Internet) The person who owns and runs a multi-user dungeon.. (colloquial) An exceedingly handsome man.. (metaphor) A person in a high position of authority, importance or influence.. (metaphor) A powerful ruler or tyrant.. .. A deity.. A male deity.. A representation of a deity, especially a statue or statuette.. A supernatural, typically immortal, being [...]




The early Proto-Indian-European (PIE) translation of God gʰadʰ- means "to gather, align, match." This is a reference to design and the interaction of parts. It is the observation of patterns and geometric unity. Gʰadʰ was a way of conceptualizing natural arrangement and the relationships of forms and phenomena.

Old Germanic references of gōdaz illustrate a more sentient quality of "God" that equates God to goodness and moral judgments. In this regard, God is knowledge of right and wrong or a sense of fairness and equilibrium. God becomes personal and directly concerned with human behavior in this definition. 

A related PIE term ǵʰutós meant "Invoked, poured." Libations were given in the assumption that transcendental aspects of natural design have an ability to know and guide gōdaz (goodness) and are aware of human activity and suffering. Libations were most common in funeral rites in which death was seen as a passing from one realm to the next with gods and deities serving as the intermediaries or spiritual gatekeepers.


Image Description: Snapshot of an Academic Article about Pyramid Funeral Temple Rituals



In the early phases of human civilization, the term "God" was commonly used to describe natural shapes and objects rather than a religious figure or divine being. The term "gadh" and its description "to align, match, assemble" are closely related to art and design concepts, notably how matter or nature pieces, forms, and evolves. This viewpoint emphasizes the intrinsic patterns and structures present in the natural world rather than cognitive awareness or the concept of a deity.

In art and design, the concept of alignment and balance is critical for producing beautiful compositions and structures. Artists and designers frequently employ principles like contrast, symmetry, and proportion to create visually appealing and unified designs. These concepts can also be observed in nature, where natural processes produce patterns and structures rather than human intention.

For example, the Fibonacci sequence and the golden ratio are mathematical patterns found in nature, such as the arrangement of leaves on a stem or the spiral of a seashell. These patterns illustrate the natural world's innate order and alignment, which can be viewed as a manifestation of "gadh" in action.

Similarly, in architecture, the concept of "gadh" can be seen in how buildings and structures are created to align and fit into their surroundings. Architects frequently draw inspiration from the natural environment, combining aspects like natural light, ventilation, and materials to create harmonious and practical settings.

Maybe as early humans strove to understand their surroundings, they started to attach spiritual meaning to natural events and inanimate objects. By imbuing their surroundings with animism, early humans produced narratives that provided comfort, guidance, and a sense of order in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world. The process of deification is linked with faith, religion, psychedelia, consciousness, solipsism, and other aspects of life and human nature. Deification paved the way for the evolution of more sophisticated philosophies, religious traditions, and abstract concepts of origin and divinity, drastically influencing the direction of human civilization.

Early Pagan gods were deifications of cosmic events and human-related effects of consciousness. Animism is a common philosophy in Paganism and Shamanic beliefs that views all existence as life essence. Energetically, this makes sense as everything is information and energy. Not even death is destruction — only change, and many of our ancestors hunched this and did their best to explain decomposition and tragedy.

Faiths belonging to the Abrahamic religions, such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, hold that there is only one supreme God who exists outside of the material world. The Christian idea of the Trinity goes farther into examining this divine consciousness, which is this God—a supernatural, pre-existing mind that serves as the basis for all matter.

The concept of "God" grew from a simple identification of patterns and designs and grew to be a complex and multifaceted view of the divine, encompassing not only the natural world but also the moral and spiritual aspects of human experience. The progressive shift from observing nature's patterns to deifying its energies as gods can be explored in the groundwork of more sophisticated divinity, such as Joscha Bach's "Four Gods".


Image Description: A Sparkling GIF of an Ancient Egyptian Goddess Sitting with a Hairless Cat




Joscha Bach is a cognitive scientist and artificial intelligence architect. He wrote an article in 2015 on "the Four Gods" after tracking discussions between atheists and Catholics and realizing that people have a lot of different ways of describing God. Bach outlines four common meanings of the use of "God" and its application across populations.

1. The Institutional Narrative

This is the personified version of God that provides rewards and punishments. This God is moral and interested in politics and humanity's development.

2. The Spiritual Experience

This is the benevolent and conscious principle of the universe that makes intentional and personal contact with an individual regardless of their religious affiliation.

3. The Transcendental Meaning

This is the reason why there is something instead of nothing. It means that the universe has an inherent purpose such as with the god of Thomas of Aquinas. 

4. The Prime Mover

This is the god of Aristotle. It represents the "first uncaused cause." It is the reason why things move along.





Bach, Joscha. (2015). Four gods. Joscha Bach.

Blackman, Aylward M. (1912). The Significance of incense and libations in funerary and temple ritual. Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde50(1-2), 69-75.

Etymologygeek. (2022). God etymology. Linas.

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