Define God

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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Fri Sep 20, 2019 8:05 pm

iambiguous wrote:But there are any number of factors embedded in the self that seem to be anything but illusions. The biological me. The world around me bursting at the seams with clearly demonstrable facts -- things -- that I [and you and everyone else here] take for granted as there objectively.


Bob wrote: The part in the funeral, where the Pastor says, “From dust you came and to dust you shall return”, is enough to show that the river metaphor applies, even when out of water. We came out of this planet, and our bodies will return, but the question is posed, what about the “breath of God” that made mankind a “living spirit?” What happens to that?


Yes. And those who believe in a God, the God, my God are able to concoct a "frame of mind", "a psychological bearing" enabling them to intertwine that in the life they live. Still, what doesn't go away for me is that distinction between what one is able to demonstrate is true about their own religious narrative and what can only be embodied in a leap of faith.

Thus:

As for becoming at one with existence [God or No God] that is still construed by me to be a psychological defense mechanism some are able to think themselves into believing because believing that is so much less disturbing than subscribing to the brute facticity of an essentially meaningless existence that ends in the obliteration of "I" for all time to come.


Bob wrote: However you call it, it is hope that helps us get up in the morning, do our jobs well and keep a positive approach to life. Given just the knowledge about life that we have today, and accepting it as fact, we don’t achieve anything but the loss of hope.


And, indeed, I truly do miss that in my own life. But: I am no longer able to believe in God. I believe instead that "I" am embedded in the profoundly problematic mystery that is existence itself. And, here and now, there is nothing that enables me to go beyond it as that "brute facticity", essentially meaningless and ending in oblivion.

That seems reasonable to me given the accumulation of actual experiences that I have had, coupled with the many, many hours I have spent groping and grappling with my own existence philosophically.

Yes, facts about you -- biologically and circumstantially -- do change over time. But they are still able to be demonstrated to others at any particular time and in any particular place to be what they are. As for the observing "I", that depends on any number of factors that may or may not be beyond ones control. The use of drugs or a mental illness or a brain tumor or diseases like Alzheimer and dementia, can reconfigure "I" into a frame of mind barely recognizable to yourself and to others.

With God, you may have once in fact defined Him one way, but then in fact came to define Him in another way instead. But either way that does not in fact enable you to demonstrate His actual existence.


Bob wrote: I think you choose the exception to the rule as though it were the rule. I agree, there are numerous things that can happen, which endanger the observing “I”, but the various examples you have given tell me nothing about how people in those circumstances experience their observing “I”.


In fact, I am the first to acknowledge that even regarding my own observing "I", there are simply too many variables in my actual lived life that were/are either beyond my control or understanding.

I just suggest that, in turn, this is applicable to you and to all others.

In fact, that is the whole point in my speculating about "I" here as an "existential contraption". And certainly in regard to value judgments that revolve around God. What's left then but that which we are in fact able to demonstrate is true in regard to this...and to all other aspects of our lives.

Bob wrote: Your insistence that one should demonstrate the existence of some thing called God fails to accept that God isn’t a “thing”. The Bible is clear on that, except when speaking metaphorically.


As with Ierrellus and others here, you have you own definition, your own understanding, your own take on God. I see this largely as an existential contraption rooted in the lives you've led...more so then in anything you are able to show us is true because there is evidence to substantiate it.

You can believe, say or claim to know anything about God. But then what? With immortality, salvation and divine justice itself on the line, that's just not enough for some folks.

This part:

In discussing God and religion in a philosophy venue what seems most relevant to me is the extent to which one can demonstrate to others that what is seen to be reasonable to them ought to be deemed reasonable in turn by all men and women who wish to be thought of as rational human beings.


Bob wrote: Demonstrably, over thousands of years, there has been faith. It is only since we try to apply rationality to religion that we find it doesn’t compute. But that is because it never should.


Look, if you are able to think yourself into believing this is a rational take on God and religion, fine, that works for you. It enables you to ground your own "I" in frame of mind that comforts and consoles you. And, sure, why not sustain this as the "bottom line" for you all the way to the grave.

I certainly once thought the same myself. But, over the course of our lived lives, each of us can come to think themselves into believing something they are not able to think themselves out of. Like me. But that's the part I root existentially in dasein.

Bob wrote: The truth of the Bible, for example, is the “true to life” truth. It is listening to a poem that takes us back to the past. It is singing a song that reminds us of the last time we were singing with loved ones who have departed. It is observing a painting and being caught up in its colours. It is listening to a symphony and flying in the clouds. It is being in everyday situations and feeling an inspiration overcome us. It is being in a loving community and feeling it with all our senses. It is being in flow modus.


This is a psychologism to me. It is a frame of mind that wraps itself around the way the words make you feel. And that need be as far as it goes. But it is not connected to the world as I know it to be. Not in the context of a God said to be "loving, just, and merciful".

Here [for me] there is only Harold Kushner's take on Him.

And my own "bottom line" here basically revolves around this:

But if philosophers [and scientists] don't fall back on reason and demonstrable proof to untangle all the conflicting assessments of God, then it simply comes down to what anyone claims to believe "personally" ...

Yes, many religious folks over the years have basically summed it up in that manner. After all, with objective morality, immortality, salvation, divine justice and all the rest of it on the line, all there really is are soul-fulfilling leaps of faith like that. And then all the terrible things are able to be subsumed in "God works in mysterious ways".

And, again, my own [at times] disgruntled reaction here is no doubt embedded in having to accept the fact that this sort of thing is no longer available to me.


Bob wrote: That is also my opinion, that if someone has a personal faith, the fruits will show it to be what it is.


Okay, but, from my frame of mind [in a philosophy venue], someone will either bring his or her own personal faith out into the world of [at times wrenching] subjective/subjunctive human interactions, or it remains largely bundled up "in their head" as what I construe to be just one more psychological defense mechanism.

Stuff like this...

Bob wrote: The terrible things are the boundaries that we come up against, and we realise that we are not in Eden, but have been metaphorically driven out by our consciousness. Our knowledge of Good and Evil makes us no longer innocent and this presents us with borders that we can’t cross. It is what the sages that wrote Genesis came up against and tried (quite well in my opinion) to come up with some way of understanding it.


...just doesn't connect with me anymore. It tells me little or nothing about God out in the world that I live in. Instead, it becomes what I have come to construe as the "mind's eye" God. And even then assuming some measure of human autonomy.

iambiguous wrote:As for this part...

Bob wrote:...chaos, decay and degeneration are facts of life that we either choose to combat, or we align ourselves with a psychological entropy and let things go down the drain. Usually it is the attempt to delay or prevent degeneration that is active and aligning one’s self with decay is the passive approach.


...you are not now yourself burdened with the manner in which "I" construe human interactions given the points I raise in my three signature threads.

And this, in my view, is deeply embedded existentially in dasein.


Bob wrote: I’m still not really sure what you mean by this.


Basically, it revolves around the assumption that you don't think about these relationships as I do. For you the battle is intertwined in a considerably more substantial "self" grounded in a belief in God. Therefore it has a meaning far beyond anything I have access to now. For me, viewing human interactions in an essentially meaningless word that ends in oblivion deconstructs any battle as just another existential contraption rooted in dasein, conflicting goods and in the raw naked reality of political power.

Of course the answers are less complicated when all that matters is what you are able to convince yourself is true "in your head".

The part that, in my view, any number of objectivists [God or No God] will strive mightily to take with them to the grave.


Bob wrote: If you are attempting to overcome the contradictions you encounter in the world, there is no book with an objective explanation. There only the books with metaphor, allegory, fables, and myths.


Perhaps. But the points I raise above remain that which I have managed to think myself into believing is a reasonable assessment of the human condition in what I presume to be a No God world.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Define God

Postby MagsJ » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:05 pm

Ierrellus wrote:
MagsJ wrote:
Ierrellus wrote:Some ideas expressed by current progressive Christians:
1. God is a Force, not a person.
2. The Force is universal, unconditional Love.
3. This Love is the tao or way-- the Truth and the Life.
4 Reward and punishment amount to animal training or infantile persuasions.
5. Heaven and hell are here and now on this Earth.
6. Theism is comprised of myths that retard spiritual growth.
7. To be Godly is to achieve the full depths of what it means to be human.

The modern way forward..?

I hope these point to the modern way forward. Most of them can be found in Bishop Spong's 1998 work "Why Christianity Must Change Or Die."

Nobody wants to hear negative aspects of their being, spouted from books that know nothing of they and their struggles with life.. it's condescending, negative, and unhelpful, in living a fulfilling 21st Century life. Bishop Spong's got my vote.

John Shelby "Jack" Spong is a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church. From 1979 to 2000, he was the Bishop of Newark, New Jersey. A liberal Christian theologian, religion commentator and author, he calls for a fundamental rethinking of Christian belief away from theism and traditional doctrines.
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The possibility of anything we can imagine existing is endless and infinite

I haven't got the time to spend the time reading something that is telling me nothing, as I will never be able to get that time back, and I may need it for something at some point in time. Wait! What?

--MagsJ
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Re: Define God

Postby Ierrellus » Mon Sep 23, 2019 1:28 pm

MagsJ,
Thank you.
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Re: Define G

Postby MagsJ » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:15 pm

Ierrellus wrote:MagsJ,
Thank you.

Is it a modification of definition that's catching on and being implemented? even in small pockets of the Continent, or more widespread?

Has it been implemented in your place of worship Ierr? Most of the churches here have adopted something similar, including becoming multi-faith places of worship, in order to fill the empty pews.. and don't even get me started on the fairs, concerts and other such neighbourhood socialising events they hold.
The possibility of anything we can imagine existing is endless and infinite

I haven't got the time to spend the time reading something that is telling me nothing, as I will never be able to get that time back, and I may need it for something at some point in time. Wait! What?

--MagsJ
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Re: Define G

Postby Bob » Mon Sep 23, 2019 4:30 pm

MagsJ wrote:Is it a modification of definition that's catching on and being implemented? even in small pockets of the Continent, or more widespread?

“I understood (1) that the position assumed by Schopenhauer, Solomon, and myself, with all our wisdom, was a foolish one: we understand that life is an evil, and yet we live. This clearly is foolish, because if life is foolish, and I care so much for reason, life should be put an end to, and then there would be no one to deny it. (2) I understood that all our arguments turned in a charmed circle, like a cogwheel, the teeth of which no longer catch in another. However much and however well we reason, we get no answer to our question; it will always be 0 = 0, and consequently our method is probably wrong. (3) I began to understand that in the answers given by faith was to be found the deepest source of human wisdom, that I had no reasonable right to reject them, and that they alone solved the problem of life.”

“If it were not so terrible, it would be laughable to think of the pride and self-confidence with which we, like children, pull out our watches, take away the spring, make a plaything of them, and are then astonished that they will no longer keep time.”

Leo Tolstoy, My Confessions, IX


I find "Confessions" very helpful in the situation I presently find myself in. For a long time I have been going through the same questions that Tolstoy describes in his "Confessions", albeit without the thoughts of suicide that cornered him. Fortunately, that didn't occur to me, even though life sometimes seemed so pointless, but especially when I saw my family I recognized my responsibility. However, I do feel tormented and fear the isolation whilst at the same time doing many things to cause my isolation.

I also came to the realization that our existence has a cause, as Tolstoy writes. This "coding of life" into the chaos of the universe briefly excited me, only to subside in the same way as Tolstoy describes his experience. One aspect he discovered, however, and which often goes unnoticed, is the fact that the "spirit" brings people together and is active among them. In intellectual discussion, however, it rarely occurs if it is present at all. In other words, the more we discuss (Latin discussus: to break apart, shaken, scattered), the less likely it is that the mind can be effective.

This understanding led Tolstoy to renounce his social status and to study the farmers in his area who had recently been taken out of slave status. Their conditions were not good, but their faith impressed Tolstoy. It also impressed me and fits well with my acquired understanding that when communities focus on good and healthy, more good happens. The opposite is also the case: whoever focuses on evil and that which is unhealthy, also experiences evil. The fact that Christianity uses (sometimes drastic) archetypal symbols and metaphors to enliven the representation of this reality only shows us how people were taught in the past. It takes nothing away from the truth of the stories.

The problem begins for me, as for Tolstoy, when one tries to judge the doctrine by reason. Teaching is very often what separates the different churches, and it does not help that they agree on central themes of the Gospel. This, in my opinion, should be the goal, instead the different churches have gone to war because of the differences in doctrine. Tolstoy experienced the conflict in Russia. There was also, among other conflicts, the Thirty Years' War in Central Europe, which also made it clear that these conflicts were about power constellations and not about central teachings from the Gospels. How can one upkeep the command to love your neighbour, even one's own enemy, and still go to war because of doctrinal differences?

I think we must accept that the stories of the Gospel, which carry so much truth in them, do not stand the test of academic decomposition, but speak directly to the part within us that recognizes what corresponds to life. The inspiration that leads to a focus on what is true, healthy and good, hits every true listener in the heart and is immediately understood. What is often lacking is the willingness or ability to act accordingly. God is what happens between people when love is shared.
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Re: Define God

Postby Bob » Tue Sep 24, 2019 6:53 am

iambiguous wrote:
And those who believe in a God, the God, my God are able to concoct a "frame of mind", "a psychological bearing" enabling them to intertwine that in the life they live. Still, what doesn't go away for me is that distinction between what one is able to demonstrate is true about their own religious narrative and what can only be embodied in a leap of faith.


Thus:

As for becoming at one with existence [God or No God] that is still construed by me to be a psychological defense mechanism some are able to think themselves into believing because believing that is so much less disturbing than subscribing to the brute facticity of an essentially meaningless existence that ends in the obliteration of "I" for all time to come.

All I can answer here is that hope and faith is what keeps us alive. That was what I realised when I read “Confessions” by Tolstoy. He struggled with faith and ended up embracing the simple faith based on the Gospels and ruled out the doctrines that he found himself unable to believe. It is a slender book, perhaps something for you to read.

Bob wrote:
However you call it, it is hope that helps us get up in the morning, do our jobs well and keep a positive approach to life. Given just the knowledge about life that we have today, and accepting it as fact, we don’t achieve anything but the loss of hope.


And, indeed, I truly do miss that in my own life. But: I am no longer able to believe in God. I believe instead that "I" am embedded in the profoundly problematic mystery that is existence itself. And, here and now, there is nothing that enables me to go beyond it as that "brute facticity", essentially meaningless and ending in oblivion.

That seems reasonable to me given the accumulation of actual experiences that I have had, coupled with the many, many hours I have spent groping and grappling with my own existence philosophically.

I found that I wasn’t able to believe in the God that most theologians spoke of, moralising as they do. At the same time, I grasped the Sermon on the Mount as a central expression of my Christianity. I also found the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism helpful, where there is no mention of God. These two statements give me the standing and the perspective I need to progress through life. In addition to this, the Mystics approach that God is “no thing” has also helped my put things into perspective. I think our problem is self-induced to some degree, due to our adamant demand that any idea of God be reasonable, but our understanding of reason is limited if we can’t understand that our very presence in this strange universe isn’t reasonable.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
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Re: Define God

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Tue Sep 24, 2019 11:38 am

Bob wrote:All I can answer here is that hope and faith is what keeps us alive.
I would say that the living force - I use the term metaphorically - in us keeps us alive and out of depression. I think it would be confused to think of depression and hopelessness as the default and anything else as delusory. Animals have few beliefs and certainly not like our equivalent verbal ones, yet they are rarely depressed. Depression and severe anxiety (over the problems in life, over death) are associated with a welter of beliefs. One can then add to these, for example, beliefs in a deity or something to soothe the problems caused by other beliefs.

Of course some lives are shattered, and without the option of getting out of certian kinds of holes (because it certainly helps if one has time and help to process, for example, trauma, and severe poverty can also devastating, some people are depressed anxiety due to their ongoing life situation. But it would be a mistake to think that the default state is depression and hopelessness.

I am not sure that faith (as if faith in God is necessary), but one needs some kind of focus. Something one loves to do, would love to do (better) and social connections as a base. For the person who is depressed they happy person may seem 'in denial'. But this is confused. Hope is also a complicated concept. I think one needs some sense that one can achieve one's goals, some of the things one loves to do or accomplish. I think 'hope' often elicits and image of a person yearning, sort of on the side of life, or locked in a cell, or looking out a windom. IOW as a kind of passive, hoping to win the next lottery, kind of thing. I see that thing that keeps us going as more inextricably tied in with activities and goals and people.


due to our adamant demand that any idea of God be reasonable
And then also viewing approach to a deity (or whatever) and one mediated by reason, rather than say, experience.
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Re: Define G

Postby Ierrellus » Tue Sep 24, 2019 1:47 pm

MagsJ wrote:
Ierrellus wrote:MagsJ,
Thank you.

Is it a modification of definition that's catching on and being implemented? even in small pockets of the Continent, or more widespread?

Has it been implemented in your place of worship Ierr? Most of the churches here have adopted something similar, including becoming multi-faith places of worship, in order to fill the empty pews.. and don't even get me started on the fairs, concerts and other such neighbourhood socialising events they hold.

I cannot answer your legitimate concerns. I've not been to church in sometime. I learned of Spong by reading Dennett's "Caught in the Pulpit", a work about ministers who have had to change their ways of thinking about religion. As a former fundamentalist, I found Spong's ideas liberating and hopeful.
The loudest voices of religion in the USA are still the fundamentalists. There is no progessive movement in the way the hippies did in the 60s USA, to my knowledge. Apparently, these ideas have not gotten down to street level, but are found in books the fundamentalists would probably not read, because they have not had an existential crisis that demands change of attitude. Yet I've been told, but cannot verify it, that in many polls the people do not claim to believe the old ways of thinking about religious dogma.
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Re: Define God

Postby Bob » Tue Sep 24, 2019 4:16 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:I would say that the living force - I use the term metaphorically - in us keeps us alive and out of depression. I think it would be confused to think of depression and hopelessness as the default and anything else as delusory. Animals have few beliefs and certainly not like our equivalent verbal ones, yet they are rarely depressed. Depression and severe anxiety (over the problems in life, over death) are associated with a welter of beliefs. One can then add to these, for example, beliefs in a deity or something to soothe the problems caused by other beliefs.

I don’t think that I meant that depression and hopelessness are the default, but they are the other end of the scale to hope and faith. This means that when hope and faith are destroyed or even weakened, the gradual recession comes and leads us downhill. Listening to a lecture by Jordan Peterson, he indicated that the flow of serotonin not only influence our posture and stance, but posture and stance can influence the flow of serotonin as well. This means that if you speak or act as if everything is depressive, serotonin levels become low and you gradually become depressed. The same principle is also true if you speak or act with hope or faith. Of course, this is only one part of a complex procedure in the body, but it illustrates my point.

I think the difference between us and animals is that they have been blessed with no conscious awareness that could make them depressive. Sure, a dog may look down in the dumps if it has to go out in the rain, but that is a long way off from depression. But the difference with us is that we can be a walking paradox, whilst animals (except cats maybe) are straightforward. Our projection of a possibility, that we regard as malevolent, into the future, may affect our outlook on life, whereas animals appear to live in the present.

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
I am not sure that faith (as if faith in God is necessary), but one needs some kind of focus. Something one loves to do, would love to do (better) and social connections as a base. For the person who is depressed they happy person may seem 'in denial'. But this is confused. Hope is also a complicated concept. I think one needs some sense that one can achieve one's goals, some of the things one loves to do or accomplish. I think 'hope' often elicits and image of a person yearning, sort of on the side of life, or locked in a cell, or looking out a windom. IOW as a kind of passive, hoping to win the next lottery, kind of thing. I see that thing that keeps us going as more inextricably tied in with activities and goals and people.


due to our adamant demand that any idea of God be reasonable
And then also viewing approach to a deity (or whatever) and one mediated by reason, rather than say, experience.

I was using faith in this context in a wider sense. You need faith that what you’re doing is purposeful (at least I do) or right. You need hope in an outcome in order to proceed. That is probably what you call focus. But hope doesn’t necessarily have to do with yearning, except maybe in the middle of winter yearning for summer. To think of it, there are many things that one can yearn for, but I get the picture you’re painting.

But it isn’t a woeful yearning that I’m referring to, but hope and faith that you mostly take for granted. When that falters, it can have you lying in, missing appointments, ignoring the phone etc. Being active in life requires a positive mindset and that I call “hope and faith”.
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Re: Define God

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:52 am

Bob wrote:I don’t think that I meant that depression and hopelessness are the default, but they are the other end of the scale to hope and faith. This means that when hope and faith are destroyed or even weakened, the gradual recession comes and leads us downhill. Listening to a lecture by Jordan Peterson, he indicated that the flow of serotonin not only influence our posture and stance, but posture and stance can influence the flow of serotonin as well. This means that if you speak or act as if everything is depressive, serotonin levels become low and you gradually become depressed. The same principle is also true if you speak or act with hope or faith. Of course, this is only one part of a complex procedure in the body, but it illustrates my point.
I guess I prefer to terms (at least partly) positive expectation - generally based on past experiences coupled with temperment and intuition. Faith to me is too specific. I know you are using it in a broader sense, and I have also. But I think it is too hinged to an ontological assumption that there is a God. I don't think one needs this to not be depressed. But this is me making suggestions of word use, not really disagreeing. I just see this as not based on having certain beliefs. We, like other animals, have momentum to engage in life. Beliefs can stop this momentum or potentially enhance it. We may fear death, suffer lost or missing connections to others, nature, meaninful work, but unless we have been severely damaged we will like wolves or deer continue to be social and work towards goals. Life carries its own momentum, regardless of the specifics of beliefs. You have to have extremely damaging events or circumstances, generally the latter and/or literally unhealthy thoughts and beliefs that take over to have this momentum stop. Humans are particularly vulnerable, due to their awareness to letting verbal cognitve thoughts take over and be destroyed or severely damaged by them. The default is not depression, as you agreed, but engagement.


But it isn’t a woeful yearning that I’m referring to, but hope and faith that you mostly take for granted. When that falters, it can have you lying in, missing appointments, ignoring the phone etc. Being active in life requires a positive mindset and that I call “hope and faith”.
I suppose I would say, metaphorically, that the animal in us will get knocked down and reengage with life, again and again. The only thing that stop that animals is not a lack of faith, but the present of thought schemas that tell the animal there is no point. I can feel sympathy for that and know how that can happen from personal experience. But the default is to engage.
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Re: Define God

Postby Bob » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:12 am

Karpel Tunnel wrote:We, like other animals, have momentum to engage in life. Beliefs can stop this momentum or potentially enhance it. We may fear death, suffer lost or missing connections to others, nature, meaninful work, but unless we have been severely damaged we will like wolves or deer continue to be social and work towards goals. Life carries its own momentum, regardless of the specifics of beliefs. You have to have extremely damaging events or circumstances, generally the latter and/or literally unhealthy thoughts and beliefs that take over to have this momentum stop. Humans are particularly vulnerable, due to their awareness to letting verbal cognitve thoughts take over and be destroyed or severely damaged by them. The default is not depression, as you agreed, but engagement.

I certainly believe that human beings can get waylaid by ideas that are totally contradictory to reality, which can cause all kinds of behaviour. But we can be of a malevolent, selfish nature or of a beneficial, caring nature. Both are engaging with life, coming from different backgrounds, and depending on what we have learnt as children to be the default. The “shadow” personality is often overlooked, because we are not really in touch with it and attempt to pretend that it isn’t there. It seems to be more powerful when we do that. We seem to be channels for various influences, good and bad.

One aspect is that the malevolent nature needs a “medium” with which it can express itself. The Bible is as good a medium as any other, but it can equally be used to find expression of the beneficial, caring nature. This is because the biblical mythology describes human nature with all of its features, looking from a meta perspective, but especially the nature of life when the beneficial spirit is driven out. The Bible describes above all the classical competition between Chaos and Order, which, when overdone, can also lead to a different kind of Chaos, but Chaos nonetheless. The Bible describes the physical default as entropy, degeneration and decay, which is not only in Autumn visible. The amount of extinct species shows it very clearly as well. The only thing that has enabled thriving civilizations has been the heroes of the past that have brought order and fought against decay. They aligned themselves with the epitome of all that is good – God. From the beginning, the Bible makes it clear that humans have a proclivity to degeneration, albeit we often lack an awareness of that fact.

Of course, there are people who assume that the Bible is describing a material reality, but it is really a metaphorical reality, nonetheless true if you go along with the story. Everywhere in the Bible, God is a mystery. How else? But I believe that people need a very clear vision of what is good in order to be able to struggle against the degeneration that is a part of life that we need to be aware of.
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Re: Define God

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Wed Sep 25, 2019 8:32 am

Bob wrote:I certainly believe that human beings can get waylaid by ideas that are totally contradictory to reality, which can cause all kinds of behaviour. But we can be of a malevolent, selfish nature or of a beneficial, caring nature. Both are engaging with life, coming from different backgrounds, and depending on what we have learnt as children to be the default. The “shadow” personality is often overlooked, because we are not really in touch with it and attempt to pretend that it isn’t there. It seems to be more powerful when we do that. We seem to be channels for various influences, good and bad.
Oh, sure. I wasn't thinking in terms of morals, just on what gets us out of bed in the morning to participate in life. The participation may nor may not be of a kind others appreciate.
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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Wed Sep 25, 2019 7:09 pm

Bob wrote:All I can answer here is that hope and faith is what keeps us alive. That was what I realised when I read “Confessions” by Tolstoy. He struggled with faith and ended up embracing the simple faith based on the Gospels and ruled out the doctrines that he found himself unable to believe. It is a slender book, perhaps something for you to read.


Likewise, all I can really answer here myself is that in regard to hope and faith, one needs a context in which to explore them more substantively.

Hope for what and faith in what? Given what set of circumstances? Viewed from what vantage point?

And then of course given the extent to which God is able to substantiated Himself.

That's the only thing that makes sense to me in a philosophy venue. That and in acknowledging there may well be limits here beyond which the tools of philosophy are even able to go.

Then it all becomes a subjective/subjunctive leap of faith. Rooted individually, as I see it, in dasein. And, here, all the philosophers and scientists in the world are clearly stymied.

We'll just have to leave it at that for now. Until you are able to provide me with something that goes beyond what you have merely come to believe in your head. Or until I come upon an experience that allows me to fall back on more than that which I have come to believe in my head.

After all, all these centuries later what else still is there?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Define God

Postby Bob » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:59 am

iambiguous wrote:Likewise, all I can really answer here myself is that in regard to hope and faith, one needs a context in which to explore them more substantively.

Hope for what and faith in what? Given what set of circumstances? Viewed from what vantage point?

And then of course given the extent to which God is able to substantiated Himself.

That's the only thing that makes sense to me in a philosophy venue. That and in acknowledging there may well be limits here beyond which the tools of philosophy are even able to go.

Then it all becomes a subjective/subjunctive leap of faith. Rooted individually, as I see it, in dasein. And, here, all the philosophers and scientists in the world are clearly stymied.

I have always regarded the search for something to hope for or believe in a search in my realm of experience, rather than from ideas that don’t hold water. My wife is especially wired that way and always someone I can bounce ideas off of. We struggled a while with evangelical ideas, found they didn’t hold water because of their insistence, against all proof, that the Bible is to be taken literally as a history and not as metaphorical, allegorical or mythical. It was so clear to me that this wasn’t going to sustain any faith or hope in me.

I made a leap of faith when I discovered the Mystics, who really suffered for insisting that God was “no thing” but a spirit that moves in love. It is when love is shared that God becomes a reality that can cause things to happen, that we regard as miraculous – because they don’t happen under normal circumstances. Of course, this spiritual phenomena can only be experienced when you align yourself with it, and it flows through you. This is apparently much more difficult that it looks on the surface. Aligning one’s self with love needs a lot of assistance. It requires tradition that is regularly being remembered in a narrative, and thereby enlivened. It requires enactment, as a habitual way of living; it requires ritual and celebration as encouragement; it requires commitment that shows sincerity and reliability.

The problem in the past is that taking things literally has been the attempt to do this, but, as the Apostle Paul has written, “the letter binds whereas the spirit enlivens”. If we have to be always consulting the book before we can act, it doesn’t work out. There is no spiritual flow, but at best an excitement in reaction to the words. The aspect of forgiveness is intended to make us free to act, even to make mistakes, but to do our best in letting the spirit of love flow through. If we’re blocked and can’t do that, then we do not experience God.

We'll just have to leave it at that for now. Until you are able to provide me with something that goes beyond what you have merely come to believe in your head. Or until I come upon an experience that allows me to fall back on more than that which I have come to believe in my head.

After all, all these centuries later what else still is there?

I wish you well, and that you find an experience that makes it more than “in your head”.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
TS Eliot
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Re: Define God

Postby Ierrellus » Fri Sep 27, 2019 2:11 pm

Iambiguous continues to remind me that this is a philosophy forum, limited to those matters which are amenable to rational discussion. Is that the case? Are revelations of at-one=ment experiences or feelings of holiness (Wholeness) all "in the head" and are thus too private and personal to be considered worthy topics of discussion by "rational and virtuous" persons who are worried about how to justify an afterlife with this one. Other than my take on progressive Christianity, I would not have barged in on Bob's thread, but my name was mentioned by Iambiguous as another proponent of irrational beliefs.
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Re: Define God

Postby Artimas » Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:23 pm

It is still difficult to define and explain that which is an infinity confined to what seems like the present moment, it is an infinite, existing all at once as multiple things and aspects, simultaneously. Like “The many faced god” the god of death.

Even nothing, is something.
If one is to live balanced with expectations, then one must learn to appreciate the negative as well, to respect darkness in its own home.

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Re: Define God

Postby Karpel Tunnel » Fri Sep 27, 2019 3:25 pm

Ierrellus wrote:Iambiguous continues to remind me that this is a philosophy forum, limited to those matters which are amenable to rational discussion. Is that the case? Are revelations of at-one=ment experiences or feelings of holiness (Wholeness) all "in the head" and are thus too private and personal to be considered worthy topics of discussion by "rational and virtuous" persons who are worried about how to justify an afterlife with this one. Other than my take on progressive Christianity, I would not have barged in on Bob's thread, but my name was mentioned by Iambiguous as another proponent of irrational beliefs.
Iambiguous has set himself up as the arbiter of what is 'in the head' and what is not. He confuses 'not in his head' with 'only in your head', though he thinks he has science on his side. He also confuses learning with 'words on a screen that would compel him.' Ironically his depression and anxiety are not, however, just 'in his head', they are the phlogistan we are all in denial of. Remember how polite the members of the court were at Versailles. Politeness and 'humility' should never be confused with what is going on in a social interaction.
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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Fri Sep 27, 2019 8:17 pm

Bob wrote:I have always regarded the search for something to hope for or believe in a search in my realm of experience, rather than from ideas that don’t hold water.


Yes, many people search for the same thing. Some find it in God, others in philosophy, others in political ideology. Though there have been hundreds and hundreds of hopelessly conflicting narratives down through the ages.

And, sure, many will focus almost entirely on self-gratification.

All I can do then is to focus the beam on how each individual comes to a particular set of conclusions about life predicated largely on the manner in which I have come to understand "I" embedded in existential layers embedded in the lives that they live.

The arguments I make in my signature threads.

That, in other words, there does not appear to be a way in which philosophers or scientists or theologians [among others] can take this into account and come up with the most reasonable or virtuous way to live.

Here [and now] is the existential leap of faith that you have come to embody:

Bob wrote:I made a leap of faith when I discovered the Mystics, who really suffered for insisting that God was “no thing” but a spirit that moves in love. It is when love is shared that God becomes a reality that can cause things to happen, that we regard as miraculous – because they don’t happen under normal circumstances. Of course, this spiritual phenomena can only be experienced when you align yourself with it, and it flows through you. This is apparently much more difficult that it looks on the surface. Aligning one’s self with love needs a lot of assistance. It requires tradition that is regularly being remembered in a narrative, and thereby enlivened. It requires enactment, as a habitual way of living; it requires ritual and celebration as encouragement; it requires commitment that shows sincerity and reliability.


And, given my own existential leap of faith to an essentially meaningless No God world ending in oblivion, I can only ponder the extent to which you are able to demonstrate that what you believe here is in fact something that can be demonstrated at all. Is it something that I might be able to embody myself?

My "thing" here in regard to God is the part about the actual behaviors that your narrative above prompts you to choose such that you connect the dots between them and what you imagine your fate to be after you die.

The rest [to me] is just a psychologism. A frame of mind that you have managed to think yourself into believing that comforts and consoles you. Sustaining this then becomes the primary aim rather than the part about convincing others that they too can share in this psychological balm.

Bob wrote:The problem in the past is that taking things literally has been the attempt to do this, but, as the Apostle Paul has written, “the letter binds whereas the spirit enlivens”. If we have to be always consulting the book before we can act, it doesn’t work out. There is no spiritual flow, but at best an excitement in reaction to the words. The aspect of forgiveness is intended to make us free to act, even to make mistakes, but to do our best in letting the spirit of love flow through. If we’re blocked and can’t do that, then we do not experience God.


There must be millions and millions of men and women able to embrace a "general description" of God and religion and love and forgiveness in this manner. But then comes the part where all of this becomes entangled existentially in conflicting goods --- conflicts we are bombarded with in countless contexts that the news media pummel us with everyday.

And then the part where one encounters all of these vast and varied religious narratives that sooner or later have to come to grips with fitting God into their daily lives such that behaviors must be chosen and the consequences lived with given that there either is or is not a place for "I" on the other side of the grave.

We'll just have to leave it at that for now. Until you are able to provide me with something that goes beyond what you have merely come to believe in your head. Or until I come upon an experience that allows me to fall back on more than that which I have come to believe in my head.

After all, all these centuries later what else still is there?

Bob wrote:I wish you well, and that you find an experience that makes it more than “in your head”.


Same here. I certainly wish you well in turn. And I can assure you that if I happen upon this experience, I will bring it here and allow others to react to it.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Fri Sep 27, 2019 10:29 pm

Ierrellus wrote:Iambiguous continues to remind me that this is a philosophy forum, limited to those matters which are amenable to rational discussion. Is that the case? Are revelations of at-one=ment experiences or feelings of holiness (Wholeness) all "in the head" and are thus too private and personal to be considered worthy topics of discussion by "rational and virtuous" persons who are worried about how to justify an afterlife with this one. Other than my take on progressive Christianity, I would not have barged in on Bob's thread, but my name was mentioned by Iambiguous as another proponent of irrational beliefs.


Again and again: You believe what you do about God. And what you believe about God clearly sustains some measure of comfort and consolation. And, sure, that can mark the end of the discussion.

But, in my view, your belief is either able to be communicated to others in a way that goes beyond personal experience and self- serving arguments or it cannot.

In a philosophy venue.

Though, by all means, don't go there if you prefer not to.

I make no bones about my own entirely existential approach to God here. "I" as dasein comes to believe what he or she does. And, based on that belief, he or she chooses certain behaviors here and now. And, at least in part, that would seem to be related to how one connects the dots in turn between God and what happens after you die.

What is religion if not profoundly embedded in that?!

You have your "progressive Christianity" narrative. And that competes [whether you call it that or not] with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of additional narratives all claiming -- as you do -- that their own rendition of God is more, what, reasonable?

But one thing seems certain. However many different people embrace how many different narratives, they all share in common the belief that God allows them to ground "I" in something that transcends the brute facticity of an essentially meaningless existence that ends in oblivion.

Something I no longer have access to "in my head". I can only hope that someday I might reconnect to that frame of mind again myself.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Define God

Postby Ierrellus » Sat Sep 28, 2019 1:37 pm

iambiguous wrote:
Ierrellus wrote:Iambiguous continues to remind me that this is a philosophy forum, limited to those matters which are amenable to rational discussion. Is that the case? Are revelations of at-one=ment experiences or feelings of holiness (Wholeness) all "in the head" and are thus too private and personal to be considered worthy topics of discussion by "rational and virtuous" persons who are worried about how to justify an afterlife with this one. Other than my take on progressive Christianity, I would not have barged in on Bob's thread, but my name was mentioned by Iambiguous as another proponent of irrational beliefs.


Again and again: You believe what you do about God. And what you believe about God clearly sustains some measure of comfort and consolation. And, sure, that can mark the end of the discussion.

But, in my view, your belief is either able to be communicated to others in a way that goes beyond personal experience and self- serving arguments or it cannot.

In a philosophy venue.

Though, by all means, don't go there if you prefer not to.

I make no bones about my own entirely existential approach to God here. "I" as dasein comes to believe what he or she does. And, based on that belief, he or she chooses certain behaviors here and now. And, at least in part, that would seem to be related to how one connects the dots in turn between God and what happens after you die.

What is religion if not profoundly embedded in that?!

You have your "progressive Christianity" narrative. And that competes [whether you call it that or not] with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of additional narratives all claiming -- as you do -- that their own rendition of God is more, what, reasonable?

But one thing seems certain. However many different people embrace how many different narratives, they all share in common the belief that God allows them to ground "I" in something that transcends the brute facticity of an essentially meaningless existence that ends in oblivion.

Something I no longer have access to "in my head". I can only hope that someday I might reconnect to that frame of mind again myself.

"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio"---WS
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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:27 pm

Just to set my own rendition of the record straight...

Karpel Tunnel wrote: Iambiguous has set himself up as the arbiter of what is 'in the head' and what is not.


Huh? We all think and feel and react to things like God and religion "in our head". The only thing I set up is the opportunity for others to demonstrate to us why we might be inclined to think and feel and react as they do.

While making a distinction between beliefs about God that can be connected objectively to the either/or world and beliefs that are rooted more subjectively in value judgments derived largely from the lives that we live.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: He confuses 'not in his head' with 'only in your head', though he thinks he has science on his side.


Here we will clearly need a context. Let's see if he'll provide one.

Karpel Tunnel wrote: He also confuses learning with 'words on a screen that would compel him.'


Not to get too technical but, huh?!

Karpel Tunnel wrote: Ironically his depression and anxiety are not, however, just 'in his head', they are the phlogistan we are all in denial of.


phlogistan: a substance supposed by 18th-century chemists to exist in all combustible bodies, and to be released in combustion.

You know, just to clear things up.

And I have pointed out numerous times that my depression and anxiety do not revolve around my day to day experiences [which are really quite satisfying], but, ironically enough, around my philosophical assumptions:

1] that human existence is essentially meaningless
2] that human existence ends in the obliteration of "I" for all time to come
3] That I am down in a "hole" with regard to moral and political value judgments

This one:

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.

Ah, but this is predicated entirely on my assumption that we live in a No God world. Which I have absolutely no capacity to demonstrate.

I can't even know for certain if this very exchange is only as it ever could have been in a wholly determined universe. Anymore than you can.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:34 pm

Ierrellus wrote:"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio"---WS


Actually, it's dreamt of.

And, given your own definition and understanding of God as a progressive Christian, might Shakespeare's soul still be around to ponder that further?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Define God

Postby Ierrellus » Sun Sep 29, 2019 1:22 pm

iambiguous wrote:
Ierrellus wrote:"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio"---WS


Actually, it's dreamt of.

And, given your own definition and understanding of God as a progressive Christian, might Shakespeare's soul still be around to ponder that further?

I knew the word was "dreamt, but chose not to use that archaic verb form.
Further is the operative word here. Possibly is the answer.
I see circular thinking as the compromises needed for postmodern ethical relativism, not as applying to the necessity of absolute moral standards on which both atheists and theists can agree.
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Re: Define God

Postby iambiguous » Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:42 pm

Ierrellus wrote:
iambiguous wrote:
Ierrellus wrote:"There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio"---WS


Actually, it's dreamt of.

And, given your own definition and understanding of God as a progressive Christian, might Shakespeare's soul still be around to ponder that further?

I knew the word was "dreamt, but chose not to use that archaic verb form.
Further is the operative word here. Possibly is the answer.


Okay, sure, if you say so.

Ierrellus wrote: I see circular thinking as the compromises needed for postmodern ethical relativism, not as applying to the necessity of absolute moral standards on which both atheists and theists can agree.


Another general description of human interaction necessarily linked to the assumptions that are embedded in your general description of progressive Christianity embedded in your general description of the relationship between God and conflicting goods down here on Earth.

And how about this part:

And, given your own definition and understanding of God as a progressive Christian, might Shakespeare's soul still be around to ponder that further?


Seriously, given your own set of assumptions about progressive Christianity, might his soul still be around to ponder it further.

Will your own soul be around to ponder this? And what of me? What do progressive Christians imagine my own fate to be when I -- an atheist -- am dead and long gone from this world?

After all, isn't that really the bottom line for so many mere mortals? Is there a God, the God, my God able to sustain "I" on into eternity?

Why should others put all their eggs in your basket?

It's just that, with so much at stake here, some of us need to be convinced with actual hard evidence that what you believe in your head they ought to believe in turn.

Is that really unreasonable?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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