OWN
12/16/2015 08:15 am ET

Why This Religious Scholar Doesn't Like To Use The Word 'God'

It's why he tends not to use it in his writing.

When you hear the word "God," what do you imagine? A man or woman in a pristine white robe? A mysterious human-like figure? A completely non-physical presence? Different people have different visions of the divine, but respected religious scholar Thomas Moore says that there's one important understanding he's come to in his 13 years as a monk and his decades of theological study: God is unknowable.

As he explains in a conversation with Oprah on "SuperSoul Sunday," this unknowable force is also infinite, existing everywhere. It's a concept that Moore explores more in part in his book, A Religion of One's Own, where he writes, "God is in the space between sentences." In his teachings, Moore challenges everyone to let go of the God they think they know -- and part of that is re-examining the adequacy of the word "God" in the first place.

For himself, Moore doesn't even like to use the word "God," as he believes it anthropomorphizes an all-knowing power and, therefore, diminishes the real sense of the divine.

"When I hear the word 'God,' it's very limited. It's not this infinite, mysterious, unknowable factor," he explains.

That's not to say Moore envisions a world that doesn't use the word -- even he calls upon God in certain moments of urgency. "My daughter was hurt once and I just prayed to God without any thought. My theology went out the window," he says. "I will use the name 'God' when I have that urge to pray, certainly."

Beyond that type of prayer, Moore is very conscious of using the word "God," especially in spiritual discussions and in his best-selling books, because he doesn't want to invoke his audience's preconceived notions.

"I try to evoke that unknowable and the infinite in my writing," he says. "If I kept using the word God, I don't think I'd be able to do it."

"SuperSoul Sunday" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. ET on OWN.

More from Oprah.com:

Also on HuffPost:

PHOTO GALLERY
Quotes From SuperSoul Sunday
CONVERSATIONS