By a conception of God, I mean a description of that which either is or would be supremely worthy of worship. Although God is by definition unique this does not exclude multiple conceptions of what would be the unique God if It existed. Theists and atheists tend to argue for and against God as described by their favourite conception. Presumably this is because they take it to be ‘the one to beat’, that which is considered more likely than rival conceptions.
In this sense a conception of God is a hypothesis about the nature of God that is put forward as more likely than, or at least as likely as, rival hypotheses about the nature of God. Strictly speaking, therefore, an alternative conception of God might be proposed without much enthusiasm as the best of a bad bunch of hypotheses. For example John Mackie proposed John Leslie’s Extreme Axiarchism as an alternative conception of God, in The Miracle of Theism (Mackie 1982). The case for an alternative conception of God may be said, therefore, to undermine theism if, as a corollary, that case significantly reduces the intellectual appeal of theism.
This paper argues that an alternative conception of God, Personal Pantheism, is superior to standard conceptions and argues that it does not undermine theism. In fact I prefer Qualified Personal Pantheism, the ‘Swiss Cheese’ theory, in which human and similar minds are not parts of God but rather holes in God, who is identical to the rest of the Universe.