excellent topic, but one that unfrotunately usually gets overlooked when it comes to the question: “Does God exist?”, despite the fact that it should be unavoidable.
Personally, and this is far from original, I would say that what is referred to as “God” is the same as the “universal Tao”, Brahman, Buddha nature, etc. Ultimately God is not a concept to be believed or denied, and it doesn’t matter whether one believes in God or not, what matters are the practices that can have very real and practical effects on each of us, such as prayer (when done properly), confession, meditation, helping others etc.
The problem lies in the preconceptions that people have about God, and what were originally spiritual practices (based on spiritual empiricism), but in some cases have become empty religious rituals.
The following quote by Eckhart Tolle from “the Power of Now”, and this section of the Primacy of Consciousness by Peter Russel (not sure, is it possible to embed?) I think are pretty helpful:
You used the word Being. Can you explain what you mean by that?
Being is the eternal, ever-present One Life beyond the myriad forms of life that are subject to birth and death. However, Being is not only beyond but also deep within every form as its innermost invisible and indestructible essence. This means that it is accessible to you now as your own deepest self, your true nature. But don’t seek to grasp it with your mind. Don’t try to understand it. You can know it only when the mind is still. When you are present, when your attention is fully and intensely in the Now, Being can be felt, but it can never be understood mentally. To regain awareness of Being and to abide in that state of “feeling-realization” is enlightenment.
When you say Being, are you talking about God? If you are, then why don’t you say it?
The word God has become empty of meaning through thousands of years of misuse. I use it sometimes, but I do so sparingly. By misuse, I mean that people who have never even glimpsed the realm of the sacred, the infinite vastness behind that word, use it with great conviction, as if they knew what they are talking about. Or they argue against it, as if they knew what it is that they are denying. This misuse gives rise to absurd beliefs, assertions, and egoic delusions, such as “My or our God is the only true God, and your God is false,” or Nietzsche’s famous statement “God is dead.”
The word God has become a closed concept. The moment the word is uttered, a mental image is created, no longer, perhaps, of an old man with a white beard, but still a mental representation of someone or something outside you, and, yes, almost inevitably a male someone or something.
Neither God nor Being nor any other word can define or explain the ineffable reality behind the word, so the only important question is whether the word is a help or a hindrance in enabling you to experience That toward which it points. Does it point beyond itself to that transcendental reality, or does it lend itself too easily to becoming no more than an idea in your head that you believe in, a mental idol?
Here is the full length version of “Primacy of Consciousness”. Just to state, it is the above linked section which is being referenced. The ideas in the “Primacy of Consciousness”, although [in many respects] are quite interesting, they are not scientifically verified.