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神が いる/ある?

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I see both いる and ある with 神 quite often. Is the choice arbitrary or are there things to consider?
 

Majestic

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神様がある vs. 神様がいる

My opinion: it depends on what you are trying to convey. If the original idea is to convey a sense of metaphysical existence of a personal god or gods, one should use いる. If you are trying to convey the sense of a historic or customary association of a god with a certain place or activity, you might use ある without any resistance from the listener.

Since Japan tends to be less dogmatic about religion, you will find a spectrum of opinions on this, and not much agreement on linguistic orthodoxy. In English, we get very squeamish about god vs. God, or him vs. Him, because a large and vocal segment of the population will get upset if the wrong spelling conventions are used. I have never heard of the Japanese expressing a similar sense of outrage at the use of ある vs. いる, although in some contexts I think it would be slightly weird to use ある instead of いる.
 
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@Majestic
ironically the driving force behind this thread was this banner Google Maps which was obviously written by the very segment of population you mentioned.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the link to related discussion.
 

Toritoribe

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I've checked in a corpus. ある seems to be used often for the existence of the concept of god. Other than these differences, Majestic-san's and mine, in meaning, note that ある/あり (or なし for negative) used to be used in classical Japanese not only for god but even for people. So, it still remains, for instance in proverbs or set phrases.
e.g.
捨てる神あれば拾う神あり
(捨てる神様もいれば、拾う神様もいる

月・神
(かみありづき・かんなづき/かみなしづき)

cf.
今は昔、竹取の翁といふ者ありけり
(昔、竹取の翁という者がいた。)

死して屍拾う者なし
((たとえお前たちが)死んでも、(お前たちの)死体を拾う者はいない。)
 
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