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By Wellsy
#15080121
I’m trying to determine the contours of what God is conceived to be. Not whether God exists or not but the conception of God.

I at present see a tension between God as the absolute being of reality or God as a more Zeus like figure who has changes in dispositions and is more a temporal being.
I see the Zeus conception arise in the emphasis on us being made in Gods likeness. Cue Feuerbachs criticism that we project an idea of God based on our likeness and thus God is contingent on human qualities we alienate from ourselves and then relate back to ourselves via God.
But God as the absolute sounds more akin to what God would be like but then I don’t know how this conception ties to a loving benevolent God or even an interventionist God.

Thoughts?
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By annatar1914
#15080129
Wellsy wrote:I’m trying to determine the contours of what God is conceived to be. Not whether God exists or not but the conception of God.

I at present see a tension between God as the absolute being of reality or God as a more Zeus like figure who has changes in dispositions and is more a temporal being.
I see the Zeus conception arise in the emphasis on us being made in Gods likeness. Cue Feuerbachs criticism that we project an idea of God based on our likeness and thus God is contingent on human qualities we alienate from ourselves and then relate back to ourselves via God.
But God as the absolute sounds more akin to what God would be like but then I don’t know how this conception ties to a loving benevolent God or even an interventionist God.

Thoughts?


Hello @Wellsy my friend, I guess my best answer given my poor wisdom and intellect especially now is that it is we humans who obviously have a hard time reconciling the ''God of the Philosophers'' with as Blaise Pascal calls Him ''The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob''...

However, when we consider that within Himself, the Christian God is Himself a Community of Persons, United in Perfect and complete Union, and that furthermore His desire as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit wish to communicate their common Love/Essence to their Creation, some of that gap in perception might be bridged. After all, I believe that the Second Person is the Logos, Who came down and Incarnated as a Man, to show us something of His Nature in a relatable way; ''God became Man to make men gods'', as St. Athanasius said.

So Feuerbach is right in one sense that it is a projection; but it doesn't make the projection any less real, especially when the stated desire of this Being is to evolve us into participation into that Being, to make us by adoption what He is by nature. Or putting it another way; what we see in ourselves, our better nature, is the resemblance which we still have with Him, and with His help, can go even further to resemble.

So, the Cosmos is not some dead thing, dead Matter, but in an important manner very personal even if beyond our finite understanding. By ''Scientia'' (for in His likeness we too possess rational intelligence!) we can understand Creation more and more, by the Faith we can understand ourselves and Him, more and more.
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By quetzalcoatl
#15080131
The conception most people have of God is that of a person. We are persons, we relate to persons. Even our dogs are persons, in this sense; we relate to them as personalities. The Protestant hymn says "God in three persons."

But what if God is not a person? What if it is a force, or an energy, or some other form we can't even conceive? My thought is that God is undefined (and undefinable) in an analogous way that division by zero is undefined. It isn't possible to delimit or specify what we don't know. In my scheme, God is a placeholder for everything we don't know or cannot know. The various scriptures and tractae reflect our desire for an order in the universe we want to exist.

If someone asks me if I believe in God, I prefer to think about other questions:

"Is there an implicit order in the universe?"
"From whence does the implicit order originate?"
"Is the universe created?"
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By Godstud
#15080138
God is a creation of man to explain what cannot be explained and to being some kind of meaning to the universe.

That is why every culture in the world has some religion.
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By jakell
#15080235
Wellsy wrote:I’m trying to determine the contours of what God is conceived to be. Not whether God exists or not but the conception of God.

Yeah, well you'd have to get outside of God to do this, and if God is defined as outside of our understanding and perception, then you have a big job in front of you. This is the definition of God I would use and I don't see the point of the concept otherwise - it would be another being in the Universe.

The Christian use of The Trinity is one way to approach this and appreciate the nature of the problem (ie a mystery), other religions might have other solutions, ie Muslims turn to hierarchy and auhoritarianism to keep 'sane', and the Jews need to foster a high IQ to cope with it.
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By Wellsy
#15080482
I have much to think on from the responses.

I am seeing that there might be a history to the possible conflict or identity of God as being as such and God as the supreme being.
https://www.firstthings.com/article/2007/06/002-god-of-the-philosophers

That it seems that theology necessarily engages in different lines of metaphysics and its a question of which seems suitable.
https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2015/05/is-god-a-being-or-being-itself/
The assumption underlying much of that thinking (of God as Being Itself) was expressed by Alfred North Whitehead who said that while Buddhism is a metaphysic in search of a religion, Christianity is a religion in search of a metaphysic. That is, the underlying assumption is that the biblical narrative does not give us an adequate, or any, metaphysical world picture, account of reality-itself, but expresses especially transcendent reality in myths, symbols and images which must be interpreted through the lens of some ontology borrowed from outside the Bible. One obvious candidate in early church history was Middle or Neo-Platonism. Another, especially in the Middle Ages, was Aristotelianism. Whitehead’s, of course, was his own organic philosophy of process.


I am very curios to Annatars summary of it being a sort of real ideal waiting to be realized. But then I would wonder if my Marxist inclinations merely give a different language to a similar longing for some sort of future union of humanity. Where Marx spoke of religion as a sort of alienation of humanity's suffering and longing for a truly humane existence. Something not dispelled from critique from someone like Feuerbach but is a call to change the material conditions of human relations.

And my concern with God in too much of a personified version is that I worry that its more readily criticized and does sound more akin to alienation/projection of human consciousness. But Then I’m not sure how comfortable I am with God as the placeholder for being as such although the concept is interesting. I do get i ask a question which can’t have a final answer but even the contours of what we can’t know is more meaningful than nothing when properly synthesized i suspect.

Personally I feel curious about a possible anthropological view of consciousness and religion that gives a rational basis for religion and exemplifies how humans create culture through material means for something far greater than any individual consciousness and has a suprasensous reality although contingent on empirical reality. I see appeal in the aspiration for building kingdom on earth rather than something left for an afterlife. To objectify such ideals in life so its not left a fanciful idea.
By Sivad
#15080540
quetzalcoatl wrote:The conception most people have of God is that of a person. We are persons, we relate to persons. Even our dogs are persons, in this sense; we relate to them as personalities. The Protestant hymn says "God in three persons."


Theologians make a distinction between person and personality. God is a person in the sense that the Ultimate Absolute is an infinitely sentient omniscient intelligence but because God is absolute and infinite, God is not a big subjective personality like a Zeus type figure. God is also impassable and immutable because God is not merely a being among other beings, God is the self-existent ground of all being that transcends being.

But what if God is not a person? What if it is a force, or an energy, or some other form we can't even conceive?


I think in a certain sense that's exactly what God is. I don't believe in a creator god that deliberately intervenes in the universe. I think just the very existence of the divine singularity exerts a metaphysical force akin to gravity that doesn't so much pull as it inspires the world into existence out of nothing. This force is what sustains the world and orders the world and keeps it from collapsing back into the nothing from which it emerged.

This force within the world is called the Logos, it generates and orders and sustains. You can't influence it through prayer or supplication and it doesn't intervene on anyone's behalf, but you can align yourself with it spiritually and when you do you find that it's a living force that imparts strength and inspiration and is the source of all spiritual birth and growth. The obvious analogy is to the Sun as the sustaining source of life on this planet which is why there's so much solar symbolism in Christianity.
By Sivad
#15080542
GOD, gods, and fairies

One of the strangest claims often made by purveyors and consumers of today’s popular atheism is that disbelief in God involves no particular positive philosophy of reality, much less any kind of religion or creed, but consists merely in neutral incredulity toward a certain kind of factual asseveration. This is not something the atheists of earlier ages would have been very likely to say, if only because they still lived in a culture whose every dimension (artistic, philosophical, ethical, social, cosmological) was shaped by a religious vision of the world. More to the point, it is an utterly nonsensical claim—so nonsensical, in fact, that it is doubtful that those who make it can truly be considered atheists in any coherent sense.

Admittedly, I suppose, it is possible to mistake the word “God” for the name of some discrete object that might or might not be found within the fold of nature, if one just happens to be more or less ignorant of the entire history of theistic belief. But, really, the distinction between “God”—meaning the one God who is the transcendent source of all things—and any particular “god”—meaning one or another of a plurality of divine beings who inhabit the cosmos—is one that, in Western tradition, goes back at least as far as Xenophanes.

And it is a distinction not merely in numbering, between monotheism and polytheism, as though the issue were simply how many “divine entities” one thinks there are; rather, it is a distinction between two qualitatively incommensurable kinds of reality, belonging to two wholly disparate conceptual orders. In the words of the great Swami Prabhavananda, only the one transcendent God is “the uncreated”: “Gods, though supernatural, belong . . . among the creatures. Like the Christian angels, they are much nearer to man than to God.”

This should not be a particularly difficult distinction to grasp, truth be told. To speak of “God” properly—in a way, that is, consonant with the teachings of orthodox Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Bahá’í, much of antique paganism, and so forth—is to speak of the one infinite ground of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things.

God so understood is neither some particular thing posed over against the created universe, in addition to it, nor is he the universe itself. He is not a being, at least not in the way that a tree, a clock, or a god is; he is not one more object in the inventory of things that are. He is the infinite wellspring of all that is, in whom all things live and move and have their being. He may be said to be “beyond being,” if by “being” one means the totality of finite things, but also may be called “being itself,” in that he is the inexhaustible source of all reality, the absolute upon which the contingent is always utterly dependent, the unity underlying all things.

To speak of “gods,” by contrast, is to speak only of a higher or more powerful or more splendid dimension of immanent reality. Any gods who might be out there do not transcend nature but belong to it. Their theogonies can be recounted—how they arose out of the primal night, or were born of other, more titanic progenitors, and so on—and in many cases their eventual demises foreseen. Each of them is a distinct being rather than “being itself,” and it is they who are dependent upon the universe for their existence rather than the reverse. Of such gods there may be an endless diversity, while of God there can be only one. Or, better, God is not merely one—not merely singular or unique—but is oneness as such, the sole act of being by which any finite thing exists and by which all things exist together.

Obviously, then, it is the transcendent God in whom it is ultimately meaningful not to believe. The possibility of gods or spirits or angels or demons, and so on, is all very interesting to contemplate, but remains a question not of metaphysics but only of the taxonomy of nature (terrestrial, celestial, and chthonic). To be an atheist in the best modern sense, and so to be a truly intellectually and emotionally fulfilled naturalist in philosophy, one must genuinely succeed in not believing in God, with all the logical consequences this entails.

And the question of God, thus understood, is one that is ineradicably present in the mystery of existence itself, or of consciousness, or of truth, goodness, and beauty. It is also the question that philosophical naturalism is supposed to have answered exhaustively in the negative, without any troubling explanatory lacunae, and that therefore any aspiring philosophical naturalist must understand in order to be an atheist in any intellectually significant way.

Well, as I say, this should not be all that difficult to grasp. And yet any speaker at one of those atheist revivalist meetings need only trot out either of two reliable witticisms—“I believe neither in God nor in the fairies at the bottom of my garden” or “Everyone today is a disbeliever in Thor or Zeus, but we simply believe in one god less”—to elicit warmly rippling palpitations of self-congratulatory laughter from the congregation. Admittedly, one ought not judge a movement by its jokes, but neither should one be overly patient with those who delight in their own ignorance of elementary conceptual categories. I suppose, though, that the charitable course is to state the obvious as clearly as possible.

So: Beliefs regarding fairies concern a certain kind of object that may or may not exist within the world, and such beliefs have much the same sort of intentional and rational shape as beliefs regarding the neighbors over the hill or whether there are such things as black swans. Beliefs regarding God concern the source and end of all reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and of the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all. Fairies and gods, if they exist, occupy something of the same conceptual space as organic cells, photons, and the force of gravity, and so the sciences might perhaps have something to say about them, if a proper medium for investigating them could be found.

God, by contrast, is the infinite actuality that makes it possible for photons and (possibly) fairies to exist, and so can be “investigated” only, on the one hand, by acts of logical deduction and conjecture or, on the other, by contemplative or spiritual experiences. Belief or disbelief in fairies or gods could never be validated by philosophical arguments made from first principles; the existence or nonexistence of Zeus is not a matter that can be intelligibly discussed in the categories of modal logic or metaphysics, any more than the existence of tree frogs could be; if he is there at all, one must go on an expedition to find him.

The question of God, by contrast, is one that must be pursued in terms of the absolute and the contingent, the necessary and the fortuitous, act and potency, possibility and impossibility, being and nonbeing, transcendence and immanence. Evidence for or against the existence of Thor or King Oberon would consist only in local facts, not universal truths of reason; it would be entirely empirical, episodic, psychological, personal, and hence elusive. Evidence for or against the reality of God, if it is there, pervades every moment of the experience of existence, every employment of reason, every act of consciousness, every encounter with the world around us.

All of which is to say (to return to where I began) that it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be descried there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.

Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.

https://www.firstthings.com/article/201 ... nd-fairies
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By jakell
#15080589
Sivad wrote:One of the strangest claims often made by purveyors and consumers of today’s popular atheism is that disbelief in God involves no particular positive philosophy of reality, much less any kind of religion or creed, but consists merely in neutral incredulity toward a certain kind of factual asseveration. This is not something the atheists of earlier ages would have been very likely to say, if only because they still lived in a culture whose every dimension (artistic, philosophical, ethical, social, cosmological) was shaped by a religious vision of the world. More to the point, it is an utterly nonsensical claim—so nonsensical, in fact, that it is doubtful that those who make it can truly be considered atheists in any coherent sense...


The more fundamentalist atheists do this a lot (ie atheism is just disbelief and nothing else comes from this), and it nearly always comes at at the point where the discussion is going to get deeper - too deep for them and they know it. It's a very shallow, but effective strategy.
I avoid such people nowadays, it's like talking with children who have learned their first debate tactic.

On the other hand there are those who went to the opposite extreme and tried to push atheism+, these repellent types were probably the ones who eventually turned folks away from the New Atheism movement, so I can at least feel grateful to them for that.
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By quetzalcoatl
#15080669
jakell wrote:The more fundamentalist atheists do this a lot (ie atheism is just disbelief and nothing else comes from this), and it nearly always comes at at the point where the discussion is going to get deeper - too deep for them and they know it. It's a very shallow, but effective strategy.
I avoid such people nowadays, it's like talking with children who have learned their first debate tactic.

On the other hand there are those who went to the opposite extreme and tried to push atheism+, these repellent types were probably the ones who eventually turned folks away from the New Atheism movement, so I can at least feel grateful to them for that.


In my personal experience, the largest category of humans are neither believers nor non-believers - at least in the sense I'm getting from the previous several posts. They go to church occasionally, but rarely think about religion. They can't rattle off a single line of scripture. Questions about the nature of God never enter their heads. They don't curse God. They don't get on their knees to implore God, nor do they go too far out their routine to praise Him. They don't particularly mind if you're Catholic, Jew, Mormon, Islamic, or Buddhist, as long as you don't appear too different or too threatening. A militant atheist is infradig, but most people don't really care if you're quietly a skeptic.

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