Sunday, August 28, 2005

I have returned and with a mesaage

Sorry I've been away so long. I've been very sick. I've also been facing a lot of problems. In fact these last frew weeks I thought my name was Job. I think this was the furthest down I've ever been in life. So I need to talk about what I leanred at this time:

On a spiriutal note. One of the hardest things in life is reliazing that God is not going to do it your way. When God let's things happen to you that you think are totally unfair, and you just have to say "Ok but he is God, he does sort of like, know best, even I don't see it." That's very humblilng. It's also very easy to fail the job test. You know how Job says some pretty hard things about God, but never cuses him to die? Job is a better Chritian than I am.

But alll one can do is reprent and keep trusting. Trust is the key. You have to be able to say as Job did, "even though he might slay me, yet will I trust him." That's real hard to do, espeicially when you think you are the victim of gross injustice. I'm not saying I'm better than atheits, because as I say, I failed the test. But I think there is something about that taht is the real line between those who have faith and those who become atheists.

there's some line at which one group is willing to step out on trust and the other is not. but it's very had to trust when one feels that things are unfair. Trust is an active process. One must acitvely decide to trust. Many people think these thigns are just gifts that fall upon us from heaven, but no, trust requires a pro-active committment. Facing that kind of test is just par for the spiriutal course. Jesus tells us "in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

I'll let God worry about the sheep and the goats.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The probelm with Atheits epistemology

OK oddly enough I actually took the atheists side against a Christian in epistemology, of all things. But that's because he was arguing for Van Until and prosper stuff.

That doesn't mean, to any degree, that the atheist are off the hook epistemically. Atheist epistemology is also entirely a crass approach to understanding Hue. Most of the one's I run into try a 1x1 correspondence between what they see and the universe is. They take a kind of "what you see is what get" universe.

Science knew that empiricism was not enough for an epistemology or a science that's they invented parsimony. But the atheists seem unconvinced. They demand that unless a belief system is based directly upon empirical observation it must be doubts; of course they miss how much of their own system (naturalism and natural sciences) are based upon extrapolations from the correspondence theory.

There are two major problems, or kinds of problems with this failed Human approach. Before I go into that, I want to stress that it is a failed an approach. Hue is often quoted for one thing or another, but few philosophers today claim to be Humans and few follow Hue to the letter precisely because his way was beaten a long time ago.

IN the development of philosophy there is an order to way things progressed. Each philopsher in turn was defeated and his system shown to be in error, up to the time of Ant. Descartes brought the rationalist approach, reason could do it all. Hue showed that reason couldn't do it all, we had base our approach upon what we observe and what we extrapolate from that. Ant in turn showed that Hum's empiricism was inadequate because empiricism by itself, while questioning everything, can't actually establish anything.

The two areas of problem are these:

(1) Can't get at all the data

(2) The data you do get could be part of the illusion.

As for no 1, its obvious that our take on the universe is just a small and unrepresentative sample. We dot' have nearly enough observations of the universe as a whole to rule out things the atheists don't like, such as God and the SND. So the atheist wind up creation [i]er zots[/i] criteria which are really nothing more than circular reasoning; such as the atheist take on miracles. Like Hue says "it doesn't' happen often enough" of course when it does, you rule it out because it's not supposed to happen according to the atheist guideline based upon their limited sample.

As for the second problem, there is no way that this kind of observation can get under the inherent problematic of epistemology; that of the epistemologist fallacy. The Epistemologist fallacy is the idea that I can get outside of my own perceptions and check them. Any check I take on my perceptions depend for its validity upon my perceptions. This is a catch 22 that cannot be overcome.

What this amounts to is we have to make a judgment. Our epistemic standards must always and forever turn upon a leap of faith, a judgment a decision arrived at through arbitrary means and through educated guess work.

To prevent the problem in the no. 1 category, we should adopt a phenomenological approach. that would mean that we say what can happen int he universe is open ended we allow the sense data itself to suggest its own categories.

Monday, August 08, 2005

an exotic list of vistors

I have rather an exotic list of visotrs to the blog for this week:

Num Perc. Country Name
52 54.74% United States
15 15.79% Canada
12 12.63% United Kingdom
7 7.37% Australia
2 2.11% Thailand
2 2.11% Pakistan
1 1.05% Belgium
1 1.05% Netherlands
1 1.05% United Arab Emirates
1 1.05% Malaysia
1 1.05% Mexico

I dont' think I've had the honor of a reader from the UAE before.

Notice one from Pakistan. He could be Alkieda. You they are watching me. I could be all that's holding the line for the Western world. Right now Ben Ladin is saying "I would attack Texas, but Metacrock is there,and he's too brilliant to die."

Naw, probaly just a cross link or something, or one of the many millions of Pakistanis who are not Alkeda.But hey, I could be the thin blue line betweeen terroritsts choas and the Western world. Stranger things, have happened. (well, Gegore W. Bush did get to be presient--and look at the Reagan era!).

O well...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I'm really angry

I'm p/oed at atheists right now. Because I had another run in on a board with little mocking idiots who dont' listen. But turning of the more intelligent one's on AARM, I find the same thing. The Beingitself stuff, which is in the two posts bleoew, makes them realy angry. They can't except the fact that people can look at things differenly than they do.

One guy on AARM told me that he thought less of my litellectual integrity becasue I beileved in god As being itself. That's like saying "I think less of your intellectual ingtegrigty becasue you read brillitan thinkers and undersand an age old tradition that claims some of the finest minds who have ever lived." But it all allusdes them because it's out of their little narrow prescribed and preconcieved range of the few dry and borning possiblities in a materialsitic universe.

They sail into esctatic utternece and the greatness of nature, but you are only suppossed to appreciate it in one way;through scinece call. You can't have your own take on anything

atheism is stragihtjackett metnality, free thought is mental slavery.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Being Itself Part II

see previous installment for part 1

The question is, was God more than just a Spinoza-like "ground of understanding" for Tillich? My reading of Tillich sees him as patterning his notions after the great Mystics of the Eastern chruch and that of Mraciea Eliade. Some readings see it as more of an impersonal principle. God is the "unbounded condidtion," "being itself," and being itself can't be "a person." Instead, Tillich calls god the personal itself. In other wrods, god is the ground of the personal, he basis upon consciousness can be found in the universe. We should not expect to recognize God as "a person" in the sense that we are persons, not with personality probelms, and a limited persective of ilsation and epistemological uncertinaties, but this does not preclude the conscious. God would contian the basic structure of consciousness and thus would be able to have volition and personal awareness.

I contend that all of that is conditioned by Tillich's high theological parlance and it's a matter of decoding a very dense set of terms, but once they are decoded they do not so much reveal an impersonal foce as God, as they reveal an apophatic approach to understanding a view of God that embraces the mystical and cannot be defined according to human logic.Like the Buddhist notion, Tillich's God is "neither a person nor a non person" (Buddhist = neither mind nor non-mind).

Chrisitan Concept?

This may not sound very orthodox, but it is extremely orhtodox.God is not just a big man on a throne, he is not the Zeu Patter(Jupiter,"Sky Father") of Pagan mythology. The great theologians of Chrsitian fatih, the Orthodox Chruch, and theologians such as Paul Tillich and John McQuarrey, believe, as Timothy Ware (The Orthodox Chruch , New York: Pelican, 1963) quoting St. John of Damascus says, "God does not belong to the class of 'existing' things; not that he has no existence but that he is above existing things, even above existence itself..." The Jewish Virtual Library tells us, "The name of god, which in Hebrew is spelled YHWH, is difficult to explain. Scholars generally believe that it derives from the Semitic word, "to be," and so means something like, 'he causes to be.'"

Tillich is not the only modern theologian to think of God in this way.John McQuarry says that God is Being itself, while Tillich says God is "The ground of being." These are actually just about the same concept, I wont go into the distinction here. The important thing to remember is that God is not along side other beings in creation, is not a being at all, but is on the order of being itself. God is the overarching principle that defines and predicates the universe and in fact of being as a whole. If you consider what it was like before God created anything. There would be nothing else but God. God, therefore, would be the same as being because all being would be defined as God. The only being that ever came to be flowed out of the will and the energies of God, therefore, God is beyond the chain of cause and effect, God is on a par with being itself.

In his discourse on Luther he loads in all the Tillichian terms:

"Luther's concept of God is one of the most powerful in the whole history of human and Christian thought. This is not a God who is a being beside others, it is a God who we can have only through contrast [Cuza, coincidence of oppossites--dialectical, appauphatic, Eastern orhtodox mystical influences--what is hidden before God is visible befoer the world and what is hidden before the world is visisble before God...Luther denies everything which can make God finite or a being before other beings [very very Tillichian/MacQurreyesque way of speaking] He makes the great statement that God is nearer to all creatures than they are to themselves [Augustine!]'God is at the same time every grain of sand totally and nevertheless in all above all and out of all creatures.' In these formula the old conflict between the Patheist and theistic tendencies in the doctrine of God is resolved." (Ibid. 24)

OR again he says:

".And I would say very dogmatically that any doctrine of God which leaves out one of these elements does not really speak of God but of something less than God." (History of Christian Thought p24). All of that is so heavily loaded with Tillichian langauge I don't see how he could be describing any view but his own! Clealry he found these elements in these thinkers and they shaped his view.

Tillich's reading of these thinkers is a good description of what my own View. My Theology embraces the God that Tillich describes as seen in these great classical theologians of the Christian tradition.

So in terms of the question "can Being Itself Be understood as "a personal being?" No, because Being Itself is not "a being" and is not personal in the sense of human finitude. Now does that mean that "it" (God = Being Itself) can't will, can't be motivated by volition and can't love, Tillich's view would allow for all of these, that Dionysius' view, that of Augustine and Luther and many others would allow for these things. God does love and does will.

Tillich's langauge, while not really apophatic in the traditional sense I think is functioning in that way, rather than just being merely equivolcal. He's trying to guard the mysteries because after all if he pretended to explian everything he would not be presenting a view which is Heteronomous. To that he must have a view which works within the mystery, and while shedding light, doesn't try to expose the mystery itself.

First he makes the point (Systematic Theology vol I) (p240) that religious symbol "has nothing to do with the empirical assertions involved in it, be they physical pschological, or historical." He goes on to say that a religious symbol must express a corrolation between the relation of the symbol and the thing it symbolizes and it is true if it adequately expresses the relation some person with final revelation. "Religious symbols are double edged, they are directed twoard the infinite which the symbolize and toward the finite through which they symbolize it." But than he says: as an example of the above, "If God is symbolized as father he is brought down to the relationship of father and child, but at the same time this human relationship is consecrated into a pattern of the divine human relationship."Than he begins to examine basic qualities or attributes and how they fit his notion of symbol.

"The basic ontological structure is transcendent in the divine life without providing symbolic material. God cannot be called a self, because the concept of self implies seperation from everything that is not self. God cannot be called the world even by implication. Both self and world are rooted in the divine life, but they cannot become symbolic for it...But the elements which constitute the basic ontological structure can become symbols because they do not speak of kinds of being (self and world) but of qualities of being which are valid in their proper sense when applied to all beings and which are valid in their proper sense when applied to Being ITself..."

Furthermore, he goes on right after this, still expliaining how these ontological forms can work when God trasncendes them, still speaking of the problem that God is not a person, but is he the ultaitme person itself, and he says:

"The Solution of the difficulties of the phrase "personal God" follows form this. Personal God does not mean that God is a person, it means that God is the ground of everything personal and that he carries within Himself the ontological ground of personality.He is not a person,But he is not less than personal"...and goes on... "God is the principle of individuation as well as the principle of participation.The divine life participates in every life as its ground and aim. God participates in everything that is..."(Ibid, 245)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Ground of Being

We tend to think of God as a big man with a beard, or some sort of powerful "person" like a human being, although one who can do amazing things. This is just the childish version, it is conditioned in our thinking by a pedestrian approach to religion.

There are religions that don't have a "God" per se, such as Buddhism. Essentially, there is no reason to think of God as a person, certainly not one with a corporeal body. That image, which is hinted at tin the Bible, is merely metaphor. Depending upon the religious tradition, however, one can have very abstract views of God which have nothing to do with a father figure or a mother figure.

There is a more abstract way to think about God: that is "Transcendental Signifier;" the notion of a metaphysical first principle that organizes everything into a metaphysical hierarchy. This is the more sophisticated view of God, and most of the works of the great Christian philosophers hint at notions of God in these abstract terms.

Anselm defined God as "that which nothing greater than can be conceived." He ended all of his arguments by saying "this thing we call God," as a means of keeping the exact nature of God open ended. This is because God is beyond our understanding, as the Bible says, but we can leave a "place marker" for the concept of God by understanding that the ultimate logical function of the God concept is that of the transcendental signifier.

Ground of Being

One of the sophisticated concepts used by great Christian theologians is that of "The Ground of Being." This concept indicates, not that God is the fact of things existing, but that God is the basis for the existence of all things. God is more fundamental to existing things than anything else. So fundamental to the existence of all things is God, that God can be thought of as the basis upon which things exist, the ground their being. To say that God is The ground of being or being itself, is to say that there is something we can sense that is so special about the nature of being that it hints at this fundamental reality upon which all else is based.

The phrases "Ground of Being" and "Being itself" are basically the same concept. Tillich used both at different times, and other theologians such as John McQuarrey prefer "Being Itself," but they really speak to the same concept. Now Sceptics are always asking "how can god be being?" I think this question comes from the fact that the term is misleading. The term "Being itself" gives one the impression that God is the actual fact of "my existence," or the existence of my flowerbed, or any object one might care to name. Paul Tillich, on the other hand, said explicitly (in Systematic Theology Vol. I) that this does not refer to an existential fact but to an ontological status. What is being said is not that God is the fact of the being of some particular object, but, that he is the basis upon which being proceeds and upon which objects participate in being. In other words, since God exists forever, nothing else can come to be without God's will or thought, and since there can't even be a potential for any being without God's thought, all potentialities for being arise in the "mind of God" than in that sense God is actually "Being Itself." I think "Ground of Being" is a less confusing term. God is the ground upon which all being is based and from which all being proceeds.

How Can "a Being" be Being Itself?

Part of the confusion stems from a misunderstanding of what is being said. I say that God is 'necessary being' not "a necessary being," not because I forgot the "a" but because God is not "a being." He is above the level of any particular being that participates in being, but exists on the level of the Being, the thing itself, apart from any particular beings. There is Being, and there is "the beings." This is a crucial distinction, but it leaves one wondering what it means and how it could be. I think the answer lies in the fact that God is ultimate reality. God is the first, and highest and only necessary thing that exists, and thus, had God not created, God would be the only thing that exists. Could one somehow ponder a universe in which God had not created, in which God was all that was, one might well ask "what is it to be in this universe where there is only God?" In such a universe the only conceivable answer is "to be is to be God." In that sense God is Being Itself.

1) Distinction Between Being and Existence.

The argument stems largely form the work of The great theologian Paul Tillich. Tillich said that God is "being itself," above and beyond the mere fact of any particular being. But Tillich uses the term being in a certain way, not like that of other theologians.
From website no longer on life
visited 6/20/01.

"Existence - Existence refers to what is finite and fallen and cut of from its true being. Within the finite realm issues of conflict between, for example, autonomy (Greek: 'autos' - self, 'nomos' - law) and heteronomy (Greek: 'heteros' - other, 'nomos' - law) abound (there are also conflicts between the formal/emotional and static/dynamic). Resolution of these conflicts lies in the essential realm (the Ground of Meaning/the Ground of Being) which humans are cut off from yet also dependent upon ('In existence man is that finite being who is aware both of his belonging to and separation from the infinite' (Newport p.67f)). Therefore existence is estrangement."

"Although this looks like Tillich was an atheist such misunderstanding only arises due to a simplistic understanding of his use of the word existence. What Tillich is seeking to lead us to is an understanding of the 'God above God'. We have already seen earlier that the Ground of Being (God) must be separate from the finite realm (which is a mixture of being and non-being) and that God cannot be a being. God must be beyond the finite realm. Anything brought from essence into existence is always going to be corrupted by ambiguity and our own finitude. Thus statements about God must always be symbolic (except the statement 'God is the Ground of Being'). Although we may claim to know God (the Infinite) we cannot. The moment God is brought from essence into existence God is corrupted by finitude and our limited understanding. In this realm we can never fully grasp (or speak about) who God really is. The infinite cannot remain infinite in the finite realm. That this rings true can be seen when we realise there are a multitude of different understandings of God within the Christian faith alone. They cannot all be completely true so there must exist a 'pure' understanding of God (essence) that each of these are speaking about (or glimpsing aspects of)...."

"... However in many cases his theology has been misunderstood and misapplied and this most notably with his statement that God is beyond existence (mistakenly taken to mean that God does not exist). Tillich presents a radically transcendent view of God which in fairness he attempts to balance with an immanent understanding of God as the Ground of Being (and the Ground of Meaning) but fails to do so. In the end, as we cannot speak of the God above God we cannot know if any of our religious language has any meaning and whether ultimately the God above God really exists. Certainly, according to his 'system', we cannot test Tillich's 'God hypothesis'. However an interesting dialogue may be had between Christian humanists who posit that God is bound within language and does not exist beyond it (E.g. Don Cupitt) and Tillich who posits that our understanding of God is bound within language yet presumes (but cannot verify) that God exists beyond it."(Grenz/Olson p.124)

2) Tillich's refusal to prove God.

Tillich believed that God was such an exhaulted concept that the attempt to prove was to deny him. He refussed to try and prove God but merely asserted his being. I feel that this is a holdover from the days of Frederick Schleiermacher (see eperince argument) and is based upon the origins of modern liberal theology in phenomenological attitude. I disagree with tht approch. The great theologians of the Greek Orthodox chruch also said that God was on the order of being itself, and that stands as the basis of all Western thinking about God in the Jeudeo-Christian tradition. I therefore, choose not to accept it. Making arguments to prove that there is a God, wheather successful or not, is often the best way to stemulate thinking about God and to refine one's theology..But I must acknowledge that while I am drawing upon the thought of Tillich, I am also going counter to one of the basic principles of his Theology.

Meaning of Phrase "Being Itself?"

Most people, when first confronted with this phrase, "being itself" assume that it means that the fact of our existence is the same as God. Naturally, that would be a nonsensical notion. How could the fact tht this desk in front of me, the computer I am writing on, and the lamp that illumine's the screen, the mere fact of all the things I see around me and i myaself existing be God? Some have concluded that by this Tillich meant that God is just a regularitive symbol for the fact of existence. But I will argue that this is not at all what Tillich or any of the other theologians to use this phrase mean. We, as temporal beings limited by our finitude cannot help but think merely of the fact of existence as the nature of being. But being must be more than that.

1) Being and God.

Tillich sees a fundamental connection between being and God. This connection is primarily phenomenological in nature. We can see the same idea expressed by Gabriel Marcell in the Existential argument. When we ponder the nature of being we come up with the answer of God.

Link to a really good website explaining more in depth about Tillich's Theology.

2) Being vs. The Beings.

John McQuarrey in his famous work Principles of Christian Theology, distingushishes between "Being" and "The beings." Being Itself is not the being of any prticualr thing in existence but stands above the level of indiviudal existing things in creation.This is being in the Abstract. Wheather or not it is merely an abstraction and has no acutality apart from the the beings, will be discussed below. But McQurrey does say that being is "present and minfest in the beings." This means that we only apprhend being in so far as it is exhibited in the beings, yet the distinction is very important.


James Wu:

"Nonbeing is experienced as the threat to being, which generates a sense of finitude. In other words, finitude unites being with nonbeing. Thus, the fundamental questions are of being and nonbeing, namely, to be and not to be. Human's finitude is incomprehensible without the concept of nonbeing because finitude is experienced on the human level. Nevertheless, we have the capability to operate our imagination to surpass our finitude and to point to infinity. Therefore, we are able to be aware of infinity. This awareness presupposes the question of God. Yet, this awareness of infinity is rooted in our awareness of finitude. The concept of the finitude is necessary for Tillich's works because this concept drives him to the question of God. For Tillich, we are able to ask the question of God, because we are aware of infinity. "The question of God is possible because an awareness of God is present in the question of God. This awareness precedes the question" (206). "The question of God must be asked because the threat of nonbeing, which man experiences as anxiety, drives him to the question of being conquering nonbeing and of courage conquering anxiety. This question is the cosmological question of God" (208). Accordingly a quest for God is inevitable for human beings.

God is the answer to the question implied in the human awareness of the finitude. God concerns us ultimately. Whatever we grasp as our ultimate concern we call "god." "god" must be encountered by us in concreteness (214). Tillich uses the lowercase "g" to stress the necessity of concreteness over against ultimacy in the idea of god. Yet, our ultimate concern must transcend every concrete concern. Therefore, Tillich uses the uppercase "G" to stress the transcendent dimension over the concrete concern. However, in transcending the finite, our ultimate concern breaks off the concreteness of a being-to-being relationship with us. This is the indispensable inner conflict in the idea of God. For Tillich, this conflict is the guide to examine the history of religion.

Page 2 of Ground of Being

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Summary of my Theoliogcal Credo

Since the issue of my being a liberal theologically often comes up, this is an outline of some of the most basic issues that set my theology apart and make it distinctive. I think it's also why I call Doxa "Christian thought in the 21st century, becasue I think these are issues that will have to be addressed by the Christian community in this century.

This is a thumbnail sketch of the entire theological view I've been developing since begining the "Metacrock" thing in 1998.

The Nature of Religion:

In my view Religion is an attept to identify a human problemic, that is the basic problematic nature at the heart of being human. Having identified it, reilgious traditions seek to resolve the problematic nature of human life by offering a transformative experince which allows one to transcend the difficulty and to be fulfilled or feel more human or be "saved." Religious traditions also usually seek to mediate this transformation through cerimony or some sort of theological orientation. These three things make up the nature of religion:

(a) identification of the problematic

(b) Transformative power to overcome the nature of the problematic

(c) a means of mediating this transformative power.

All religions offer these things, weather the problematic be seen as seperation from nature, or imbalance with cosmic forces, re-birth through desire which leads to suffering, or moral sin in rebellion agasint God.

Transformations come in all sorts of packes too, they can be the big experince of bron agian Christianity (mediated through the "sinners prayer") or they can be the mystical experince, mediated thorugh the mass, or enlightenment, mediated through mediation, mandala, mantra and other mediation aids, or what have you.

The reason for identifying with a particular reilgious tradition is because one feels that this particular tradition identies the problematic better than others, and offers mediation in a more sure or certain or compelte way. One must go with the tradition with which one feels the strongest connection.

For me that is the Christian Tradition, primarly because I feel that the historical connection to Jesus of Nazerath, and the unique concept of Grace mark the Christian tradition as the best mediation of the Ultimate Transformative Experince. But more on that latter.

The God concept

I tend to use a great deal of termenology, and this can be off putting to people and also confussing. A guide to the many perdicates of the divine that I use to designate "God" is useful for sorting out what the many terms I use mean; terms such as "being itself" and "object of ultimate concern."
My views on God are unconventional. I think a lot of people are put off because they expect the usual big guy in the sky, the old grandfather figure with a white beard on a throne, and they aren't used to other ways of thinking about God, like Thinking of God as the laws of physics, or thinking of God as the nature of Being itself. Thinking of God as like mathematics. All of these are models I would use to try and show how my view is different from the conventional idea of God.

In its most abstract the concept of God is a Transcendental Signifier. That is, the concept of God functions in the way that a Transcendental Singifer functions, as the thing at the top of the metaphysical heirarchy. This when we strip the cultural trappings away from the God concept, remove the personality and the images of King and father, and get down to the basic abstract concept of What is God and what does God do; Gound organizes all principles of organizing under a metaphysical hierarchy; God is the ultimate organization principle:

Transcendental Signifyer is the ultimate metaphysical principle which makes sense of the universe.

The transcendental Signifyer (TS) is the mark that gives meaning to all the marks that make sense of the world; the "zeit geist," the "urmind", the "overself", the "object of ultiamte concern", the "omega point", the "Atmon", the "one," the "Logos", "reason." all the major top ideas which bestow meaning upon the wrold are examples of the TS. People have always advanced such notions. (The word "G-O-D" is the Transcendental Signifyer, the thing those letters refurr to is the "transcendental signifyed")

1) All people have some notion the "big idea" which makes sense of everything else.

William James, Gilford lectures:

"Plato gave so brilliant and impressive a defense of this common human feeling, that the doctrine of the reality of abstract objects has been known as the platonic theory of ideas ever since. Abstract Beauty, for example, is for Plato a perfectly definite individual being, of which the intellect is aware as of something additional to all the perishing beauties of the earth. "The true order of going," he says, in the often quoted passage in his 'Banquet,' "is to use the beauties of earth as steps along which one mounts upwards for the sake of that other Beauty, going from one to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute Beauty, and at last knows what the essence of Beauty is." 2 In our last lecture we had a glimpse of the way in which a platonizing writer like Emerson may treat the abstract divineness of things, the moral structure of the universe, as a fact worthy of worship. In those various churches without a God which to-day are spreading through the world under the name of ethical societies, we have a similar worship of the abstract divine, the moral law believed in as an ultimate object."

2) All Metaphysical Constructs include a TS.

Metaphysics is not merely realms unseen, but the organization of reality under a single organizing principle (this definition comes form one reading of Heidegger). All systems and groupings of the world verge on the metaphysical. Derrida and Heidegger say that it is impossible tto do without metaphysics since even language itself is metaphysical. Everything ponts to the Transcendental Signifyer. ( see Heidegger, Parenadise, and Introduction to Metaphysics, and Derrida, Margins of Philosophy and almost any Derrida book).

Science has TS

William James--Gilford lectures:

"'Science' in many minds is genuinely taking the place of a religion. Where this is so, the scientist treats the 'Laws of Nature' as objective facts to be revered. ..."

Science is very Metaphysical. It assumes that the whole of relaity and be organized and studied under one central principle, that of naturalism.

"For essential reasons the unity of all that allows itself to be attempted today through the most diverse concepts of science and of writting, is in principle, more or less covertly, yet always, determined by a an historico-metaphysical epoch of which we merely glimpse the closure." [Derrida, The End of the Book and the Begining of Writting, trans. Gayatri Spivak 1967 in Contemporary Critical Theory, ed. Dan Latimer, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovonovitch, 1989, p.166] MetaListon Scinece and religion Stephen Hawking's

"In his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time", physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that when physicists find the theory he and his colleagues are looking for - a so-called "theory of everything" - then they will have seen into "the mind of God". Hawking is by no means the only scientist who has associated God with the laws of physics. Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, for example, has made a link between God and a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Lederman has suggested that when physicists find this particle in their accelerators it will be like looking into the face of God. But what kind of God are these physicists talking about?"

"Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg suggests that in fact this is not much of a God at all. Weinberg notes that traditionally the word "God" has meant "an interested personality". But that is not what Hawking and Lederman mean. Their "god", he says, is really just "an abstract principle of order and harmony", a set of mathematical equations. Weinberg questions then why they use the word "god" at all. He makes the rather profound point that "if language is to be of any use to us, then we ought to try and preserve the meaning of words, and 'god' historically has not meant the laws of nature." The question of just what is "God" has taxed theologians for thousands of years; what Weinberg reminds us is to be wary of glib definitions."

This pertians to the abstract metaphyiscal position of God in relation to human thought. But we must also understand God's nature. There are two concepts that spell out God's position in relation to humanity and to the universe as a whole:

(a) The Object of Utlimate Concern (OUC)

Not all religions deal with "God." God, as conventionally concieved God is not necessary to religions such as Buddhism. But all religons do deal with "the objecti of ultiamte concern" or that which concerns us ultimately. This is a concept by theologian Paul Tillich. It's not pinned down to any one thing in particular because it can be concieved of in many ways. But Tillich identifies it as "being itself." The object of ultiamte concern is synominous with God, this God is actually brought through the back down of all religions.

Object of Ultimate Concern:

This term is used from the persepective of our existential experience in being. What is being said is that God is the ojbect toward which we orient our final interests or our sense of meaning in life, our understanding of what is important, what life is about. This is no more contradictory to the other terms than calling God "the ojbect of worship."

In my view the OUC is essentially another way of Talking about God, although not necessarily the conventional notion of a "big man" on a throne. In my view whatever is ultimate, and whatever deterines our final destiny is clealry the OUC. So we have left with a sense of some overarching concept which guides and shapes our thinking, and this is related to primdordial being at the most basic level. So we are stuck with God in one form other anther weather we like it or not.

(b)Being itself:

This is the basic concept of God in Tillich's world view.What is being said is that God is the basic condition underwhich anything can be. God is synonimous with the very natuare of being because being proceeds from God and is contingent upon God. In this sesne God is thought of as synonimous with the very nature of Being, since God is the primary example of what it is to be (since nothing else would ever come to be or even have potential to be without God's express desire that it exist).There can only be one of these. By defition there can only be one thing that is the basic experssion of what it is to be and upon which all else (i mean everything, every single thing) is predicated. It woudl be a contradiction in terms to speak of two of them.Ground of Being us basically the same term. Sometimes Tillich used one, sometimes the other. It means the same thing, but at times Tillich thought that the focuss should be upon the platform upon which the being of beings rested, that is the basis of the being that we have as beings. But they are talking about the same thing.Naturally there can only be one of these too since its the same thing.for more on God as Being Itself (ground of Being)

Is God a "personal Being?"

For most people, consciousness is thought to be a side effect of brain chemestry, and being a person is an outgrowth of that side effect. But there is a school of thought that says that consciousness is a basic property of nature, it starts at a very reudamentary level and works its way up to the highest, thus conscousness is diffussed through the entire unvierse. I believe something similar to this, but for me Consciousness is the basic framework of reality. In this sense then I am saying that God is conscoius. But I'm saying more than that too.

I agree with Bishop George Berkeley, a philosoher who lived in the 18th century. He beileved that to be is to be percieved, and that God is percieving reality and holding it together in the divine perception. I believe that too, God is like the mind that thinks the universe, the universe is the thought in the mind of God. That doesnt' make our existence unreal or illusory, I dont' believe it is illusory. For us, who are part of the thought, our existence is very real, but it is in a higher framework which creates the reality we know as a matter of thought. That is part of God's basis as "being itself." Our being is litterally proceeding from God as thoughts from a mind.

This answers a lot of questions, mainly dealing with time and the creation of the universe, but it also stipulates that God is consciousness. There are several consequences that flow out of this discovery:

(a) God is Consciousness

God is not "a personal being" because, as the information on Being itself indicates, God is not "a being" no one of many like himself but is totally unique, and beyond the level of an indiviual contingent thing. God is not "a being" becasue this implies that he one unique example of a kind, and thus a contgingency. But God is not contingent but logically and ontologcially necessary. Thus God is not "a being." yet God is conscious.

(b) God is The personal Itself.

Consciousness, "the personal" is not just an idivudal trick of brian chemestry taht affects contingent beings one at a time, but is a quality of existence, an outcome and aspect of Being which is intrinsic to all rality, it is the framework in which that that we know as "reality" is generated and held in place. In that sense God is "the personal itself."

see a very extensive file on Berkeley

Mystical Theology

We can draw conclusions in these matters of God's nature and that of the universe, and the relation between the two, through logic and other means. But we cannot turely know the reality of God other than or apart form mystical expereince. That is to say, we experience God as the deepest level beyond words, thougths, or images. This is because God transcends our understanding. We cannot say what God is, we can only make the most rudementary guesses, which is all this stuff is. We cannot trley know, but we can experince. We do experince God this way; mystical experince is at the heart of all organized religion.

Mystical Theology and Religious Traditiions

We seek to talk about our experinces because we are social creatures. We have to talk about our experinces of God, even though they are not in words and we even understand them oursevles. Thus we must encode them into langauge and for that we must maks these deeply contradictory feelings with cultural symbols from our symbolic universe. Thus all religious traditions are different, because they all inovle their own cltures and are made out of their own cultural constructs; yet they all represent the same reality which stands behind them all. The detials just dont' matter. One faith calls its' God "Woden" and thinks he wants virgin sacrafice hung on a tree. Another faith calls its God "Demiter" and thinks this God a she and that she wants a sacrafice of Grain from every harvest. None of this matters. the gender doesn't matter, the sacrafice doesnt' matter, not the names, not the countries, all are just meaingless deatils constructed out of the constructs of each naion, the symbols that are meaningful to each group. But they all represent one true reality standing behind them all. Like a prisim they break down the true white light into colored details and each one fixates upon each detail; one is a "red" tradition, red is the truth. Anther is a "blue" tradition, only blue is true, but in reality, they are all just reflections of one reality which only makes real sense when it's all together and shining naturally upon the eye.

This is what I mean by the slogan I use a lot, "all gods point to 'God.'" One cannot paly the verious relgious traditions off against each other. The atheist who constratly harps "how do you know which God is true" doesn't know what he's asking. Because none of them are, and all of them are, because they all reflect the same reaality behind all religous traditions, but a reality we can only understand in metaphor.

Revelation: Jesus Christ

I beleive that God does give us special revelation. But that revelation is Jesus Christ, not the Bible. The Bible is a record of divine human incounters. It contains the word of God, but is not the word of God itself. The Bible is a collection of writtings which were produced out of personal encounters with God and reflects many differnt levels of inspiration; Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to humanity. I've written on nature of Biblical Revelation..

I accept the Nicene creed. I beileve that God entered history as a human to express solidarity with us. One can be present in one's own fantasy, or in one's own thoughts. God projects himself into the thought of the universe and becomes part of it as a man. See my Essay "How Do I know That Jesus is The Son of God?"

The Atonement

My views on the Atonement are a bit unconventional. Whiles see it as symbpathetic magic, as finanacial transaction and so forth, I see it as a statement of solidarity. I don't accept the propitation model: Jesus didnt' turn away God's wrath, or take warth upon himself. That's one aspect of expressing it, but its' not the complete picture. The punishment upon Christ doesn't magical pay a debt that we couldn't pay. But in identifying with us and with our ends and with the curse of sin, social and personal, and the consquences of that in death, Christ expresses God's solidarity with humanity; solidarity in political sense means one is willing to identify with the oppressed so closely as to shar their fate. Christ shares our fate to illustrate in a power and beautiful way that God is on our side.

It is out of this solidarity that the ground is created for forgiveness of sin. We cannot be in solidaritry with God and sin. when we place ourselves into the symbol of Chrit death and accept solidarity with God we turn form a lif of sin and thus the gound is created upon which our sins are forgiven. For more, see my essay.

Other Faiths

I don't see other faiths as a problem. God is working in all cultures. Other faiths are just different cultulrally constructed means of expressing the same relaity that is behind all religion. Jesus is the direct revelation, the example which teachs us God's ture character.But that doesn't condmen other faiths. See my essay on the topic.Salvation and Other Faiths

Hell and Afterlife

Religion is not some means of social control. Humanity has been religious for 50,000 years or more, probalby longer than we have been Homo sapiens. We had religious feelings since before we had the level of social orgnaization for control. Religion is not about scaring people with punishment in after life. Relgious belief is about coming to understand the probelm at the heart of being human; its' about ajusting to life and to death. Its' abotu personal fulfillment and finding meaning which explains life at an existential level and makes living worthwhile. I dont' believe in a hell fire and brimstone after life. There are those who ask "well why should I believe if I don't have to worry about punishment?" I think that's so immature. The point not to get out of punishment but to find the meaning and fulfillment of knowing God. The mystical experince is about the greatest thing in life. Its' a palpable feeling which changes and transforms peopel in dramatic ways. It's worth everything to experince it.

I believe that when one dies seperated from God in rebellion against the good, one is seperated forever,but not in a realm of fire and brimestone, but probalby just ceasing to exist. I believe there is an eternal life with God for those who have always sought to find God, and I see that a mystical relaityin whcih our conscousnesses unite with the divine conscoiusness, but we will also understand our own plights and experinces as individuals; an intimate and mystical union

To me that's what everything is about and it's worth any sacrafice to discover.


The Christian faith embraces God as Triune. Since I affirm the Nciene Creed, I also affirm the Trinity. The concept of Triune God is essential to the notion of God as being itself. The Godhead is the priamry and primordial differentiation of being; without that, being would be hardly distinguishable from nothingness; thought and purpose can't come in a vauum, a community is requires where consciousness is concerned. The Trinune God is the ultimate community, a multiplicy of consciousness, yet united in a onesness through shared essence.


What is the purpose of it all? Why did God create? My view Christian ethics is too elaborate to present here, I will write an essay soon laying out my ehtical theory. But suffice to say that I see a basis for all creation and for the impitus of God's purpose in the primary motivation out of God's character, which is love. Love and being share a very basic attribtue, but are poastive affirmations that bestriw things upon the other; being seeks to bestory being upon beings, and love seeks to bestow "the good" upon the other. Thus love is the basic character of God, who is "being itself" and that forms the primary motivation for all ethical atction.


I will close the overview with a look at theodocy. Why does God allow pain and evil? The answer to this question is central to my whole theology. My theory is called Soeteriological Darama

It's about how God created for the purpose of having corperoeal moral agnets who willingly choose the good. This requires that we struggle through faith and doubt as part of a great darama. We must seek salvation in spite of these probelms, but God promises that if we seek we will find. I hope my website will help some do just that.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Can you see this?

I hav eevidence that others can see the peice on what good is history, but I can't see it.