Saturday, May 23, 2009

God is not A being

arabic god symbol




This is in response to the previous post, where I discuss mystical experience and its effects upon those who experince it.Hermit makes the comment:


A Hermit said...

Thing is these effects aren't just confined to "thinking about God" but are present in all kinds of transcendent experience. I have real problem with the generalization of all such experiences as traces of something called "God". It seems to me that these kinds of experience (and I believe I've had them myself) are the result of our being able, however briefly, to drop the filters that usually keep us focused on our everyday existence perceive our actual position in the universe; to sense the infinite, or near infinite, nature of the universe in which we live. But that is not same as "God".
8:46 AM




It's a bit veg as to which experinces he's talking about. Does he mean the initial experince that makes one consider "I have had a mystical experince?" Or does he mean the long term effects of having had a mystical experince? I am doubting the latter the trace of God and not the former. It's problematic as to whether or not to include the former as part of the "trace." Certainly when I first used the term "trace" I was thinking of Derrida and Derridian usage, and in that regard surely the immediate sensations would be part of the trace at least. The content is God oriented and that ties the experince to a sense that is an experience of God. But the real aspect that stands out as not naturalistic is the long term effects. There are ways to answer the physiology and chemical arguments concerning the immediate sensations, but in the long run they are not where the real proof lies. The real proof is in the long term effects, because none of them proposed alternatives (serotonin, other brain chemicals, mushrooms and the lot) can be demonstrated to produce the long term effects, that is apart from the context of RE. Now the Good Friday follow up makes it clear that there is a relationship between mushrooms and long term effects, but not apart from the context of RE. Those who did the mushrooms and had the long term effects were already mystics. That means it supports the theory of opening the receptors to God.

But that's not what I want to talk about. I have to use that to into the context of the comments I am concerned with. That's the context of the discussion and in that context there arose a mini discussion about the distinction between a view of God that is not based upon anthropomorphism vs. just observation of the natural world.If you don't have a view of God as "personal" but as a principle or impersonal force, how do you know the difference between the world as it is naturally without God and God?

Hermit said:




they are actually talking about two different sets of experiences. The mystical doesn't come from just thinking about God at all. I have real problem with the generalization of all such experiences as traces of something called "God". It seems to me that these kinds of experience (and I believe I've had them myself) are the result of our being able, however briefly, to drop the filters that usually keep us focused on our everyday existence perceive our actual position in the universe; to sense the infinite, or near infinite, nature of the universe in which we live. But that is not same as "God".


In response I said:


Yes, it is exactly the same as God. you know my view includes much more than the idea of the big man in the sky or the big kign on the throne right?

those qualities are inherently what I mean when I say the word "God." that's what I'm talking about: eternal, necessary, ground of being.

read my TS argument again. you actually believe in God by my terms.


By "those qualities" I am referring to the sense of pervasive presence in RE, the sesne of eternal being, the basic realization of necessary eternal being.AS Hemrit put it:

to sense the infinite, or near infinite, nature of the universe in which we live.

He follows up by saying "that's not god." It's my contention that it is. Especially true of sensation of the infinite. That is the basis of understanding God as being itself. you sense some spacial quality in being that transcends the mundane, that's the sense of the numinous, that's the basic religious experince. What is going on there is my contention about the eternal and the infinite evoking the basis of religious experince, that means there is somewhere in that experince the trace of a valid object of religious concern. Tillich calls God "the object of ultimate concern." That's what is revealed in the sense of the numinous, and that's exactly what Hermit is describing. He is actually as much as stating that he believes in God, if by God one understands Tillich's concept that I defend. Of course Hermit can't have that and repudiates it. Now to be clear, I am saying that since the religious instinct is evoked (sense of the numinous) in the infinite then this gives us a valid object of religious devotion; ie God. This leads to further discussion that Hermit doesn't want to call it God. That strikes me as merely semantic becasue it fits my concept of God. That is to say, this talk of transcending the fetters of the mundane and sensing the infinite, as well the association of mystical experince with qualities that make up the sense of the numinous evokes my concept of God. Thus how can I refrain from thinking of it as God? Well Hermit doesn't accept the same concept. We are talking things we both apparently sense, he just wants to label it differently than I and to approach it and respond to it differently. So even though that may be a huge chasm, that "difference" in our approaches, but it's still a unified sense that we are not that far apart. Thus, I told Hermit "you actually believe in God by my terms." I think that may have been an exaggeration, but he is nearing the prospect. In response he said:


"No, I believe in a natural, impersonal universe. I believe that's completely awe inspiring, and calling it "God" it's the first step in an anthropomorphizing process which, for me, actually diminishes it."


right there is where I said:



that's just semantics. How can the term "God" be anthropomorphic when it can applied to the Hegelian dialectic or the Platonic forms or a billion "incidents" of process?



That last bit is a reference to the deep dark secret of process theology,that God is really defined as "a society of occasions."



you have merely limited your view of God as a matter of semantics.
9:16 PM




J.L. Hinman said...

I think that such experiences of oneness are pure hallucination.

and your bigoted opinion is empirically disproved. do you hear me? science has disproved that. 350 studies show it is not hallucination. you see? it's disproved. science disproves it.However, I think that such hallucinations can permanently rewire some parts of our brains, thus producing "transformative effects".

that's a contradiction in terms if that's ture that proves God is doing it because is no otehr example in anyting anywhere where that happens. transformative effects do not resul form metnal deterioration. Hallucinaiton is usualy caused by pathology.

pathology can't produce good psotive long term effects. It does not. it never does. no other case. There are lots of aspects of our psyches that are falling to the onslaughts of brain research, and it will be interesting to see how that turns out.


the brain research guys don't study religious experince. that was the whole point of my post.

why don't atheists ever read? What A Hermit was experiencing seems rather close to Plotinus's One, which is beyond all description -- and which lacks personality and is eternally fixed. That entity "creates" timelessly; the Universe is emanations from it.


"personality" is a blind alley. no verse in the Bilbe says God has "personality." that is beside the point.

God = Planto's one! All aseity is assiety. It also seems like Richard Carrier's "Vulcan mind meld with God", a doozy of a mystical experience, in http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/testimonials/carrier.html

Carrier is a pretencious idiot. that doesn't make the studies go away. you are just flying in the face of scientific evidence.

Athiests love science until it disproves their hate, then they ignore it.

Loren:
Metacrock, you ought to try to look past your pet theological beliefs and stop reading them into others' beliefs. I try to do that myself; I recognize that Democritus's atoms are far from quantum-field-theory particles.


That is certainly an unfair and not well thought out statement. I am clearly moving beyond the limitations of a purely Christian view point and including all religions and all traditions, but that is not enough! It wont be enough until I totally throw all belief. Clearly that is just ideology talking. One who is more conversant with the conversation of Western thought, especially theology, would see this.


A Hermit said...

"that' jut semantics. How can the term "God" be anthropomorphic when it can applie to the Hegelian dialectic or the Plantoinc forms or a billion "incidents" of process?

you have merely limited your view of God as a matter of semantics."Aren't you the one who says you have a "personal relationship" with a God who takes an active and interventionist interest in your affairs? Do you not identify this God with the person of Jesus Christ?

Hermit and/or Loren:

Explain to me how you aren't anthropomorphizing when you do that.



It should be obvious that it's not anthropomorphic, unless you don't know what the words means.I am constantly saying "not a guy in the sky." I say "not A being." God is not a being. I say God is not possessed of personality. How is any of that anthropomorphic? you think the slightest trace of consciousness and will is anthropomorphic but I have constantly said that we can't recogizne God's conscoiusness as such becuase it would be such a higher form.

I think it's absurdly absurd for you to charge that linking Plato's one with the Christian God and Brahman and all the other God concepts in the world is anthropomorphizing or imposing the Christian God on everyone. That's just stupid. Sorry to be blunt bu that's one of the dumber moves I've seen. I think that shows how neither of you ever really think about what I say. I find that typical of atheism.

Anyone who has followed my blog as long as Hermit has should know that my view is that of Paul Tillich God is not a being but being itself. Not a bit anthropomorphic. God is the basis of reality and the aspect of being that grounds reality. "He" is an aspect of being, the ground of being, the basis of it. We only say "He" as an convention in the first place. That's the very opposite of your criticisms. Jesus is a different deal. Jesus is the incorporation of God into the form of a man, not the coming to earth of a man-like God or his he God in a man suit. He's the unique transmogrification of God into the nature of human being.

15 comments:

A Hermit said...

I'm sorry; I got a little lost in the middle of all that; it's hard to tell which parts are you, which are Loren and which are your paraphrase of something I said...??? It all gets a little muddled there.

I still maintain that your concept of "God" is anthropomorphic; you contend that God intervenes intentionally in the lives of human beings, that God has purpose, that God has plans...that God can be, and in fact was, incorporated in a single human being named Jesus...

All of which seems to be quite different from what I think of when I think about the infinite, natural universe.

A Hermit said...

Oh I forgot to say "fuck you", hope you don't think I was being impolite...;-)

J.L. Hinman said...

Oh I forgot to say "fuck you", hope you don't think I was being impolite...;-)

you wouldn't like it, I would just lay there. nuck nuck nuck

J.L. Hinman said...

I'm sorry; I got a little lost in the middle of all that; it's hard to tell which parts are you, which are Loren and which are your paraphrase of something I said...??? It all gets a little muddled there.

I've put together more coherent pieces in my time. I felt pressured to get it out.I still maintain that your concept of "God" is anthropomorphic; you contend that God intervenes intentionally in the lives of human beings, that God has purpose, that God has plans...that God can be, and in fact was, incorporated in a single human being named Jesus...

Takes more than that to be anthropomorphic. It's silly to contend that any similarity at all is a problem. The original concept was like Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon where God literally has a body. There's no basis for the claim that God having purpose in and of itself is not similar enough to humanity to be a problem.

given the fact of all arguments about intelligence behind the universe, the fine tuning argument and so on, the belief in a divine purpose such as salvation and purpose and wisdom in creation, that's just what we should expect. that's that's not the same a big man on a throne.

This is especially true when you consider the fact that I also argue that God's purpose is way over our heads and we can't understand it. so you are just clutching at straws to find a criticism and then you take one that has a slight grain of truth and just exaggerate the hell of it.
All of which seems to be quite different from what I think of when I think about the infinite, natural universe.

Being different from what you think is not synonymous with being fallacious.

A Hermit said...

"Takes more than that to be anthropomorphic. It's silly to contend that any similarity at all is a problem. The original concept was like Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon where God literally has a body. There's no basis for the claim that God having purpose in and of itself is not similar enough to humanity to be a problem."I don't think you can dismiss it so casually, in attributing purpose to the infinite you run the risk of confusing your human desires and wishes with divine will. But in any case you go far beyond that when you tell me that Jesus is God literally in a human body. How is this less anthropomorphic than the Joseph Smith version you just dismissed?

"given the fact of all arguments about intelligence behind the universe, the fine tuning argument and so on, the belief in a divine purpose such as salvation and purpose and wisdom in creation, that's just what we should expect. that's that's not the same a big man on a throne."Given the inhospitable nature of most the universe to most known forms of life, and the fact that lief in some form manages to exist in environments that would kill us poor delicate human beings I'm not that impressed with the fine tuning arguments...

"This is especially true when you consider the fact that I also argue that God's purpose is way over our heads and we can't understand it. so you are just clutching at straws to find a criticism and then you take one that has a slight grain of truth and just exaggerate the hell of it."If there is a purpose but it's incomprehensible how do you know its there? I'm sorry but I really don't see how an imperceptible purpose is much different from a non-existent purpose. It certainly can't count as evidence for anything, it's just an assumption you're making.

By the way, I am not clutching at straws or exaggerating anything, I'm raising what I feel are perfectly legitimate questions and I can do without this condescending attitude of yours. Trivializing the question isn't an answer.

"Being different from what you think is not synonymous with being fallacious."I didn't say it was, I was just pointing out that contrary to your earlier comments there is a significant difference between what I believe I experienced and what you call "God".

Loren said...

On this subject, I wish to note that a certain Biblical argument is pure proof-texting.

Metacrock, you cite the Septuagint translation of Exodus 3:14 as saying "I am being", but the original Greek is "egô eimi ho ôn", which I translate as "I am the being"; note the "the".

In any case, it is a translation from Hebrew, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh", which modern-English Bible translations turn into "I am who I am".

You wave away the Bible's repletion of theological anthropomorphism as metaphorical, despite nobody in the Bible claiming that, and nobody in it slamming pagan religions for describing their deities as superpowered people.

Cosmic purpose I consider little more than an anthropomorphic projection; I am a firm believer in impersonal necessity and the fundamental impersonality of the Universe. If you wish to call it "God", you'd end up with Einstein's God, not the God of the Bible.

As to fine tuning, I'm not impressed, because the Universe is so inhospitable to us. Most of the Earth is VERY difficult to tunnel through, we'd drown in the oceans, and we'd suffocate more than a few mi/km up. We'd die in a couple minutes on every other solid surface in the Solar System.

Yes, we have technologies that get around such difficulties in the oceans and the upper atmosphere and outer space, but why should we need those? And even those technologies are very limited -- try traveling into the Sun.

J.L. Hinman said...

On this subject, I wish to note that a certain Biblical argument is pure proof-texting.


Metacrock, you cite the Septuagint translation of Exodus 3:14 as saying "I am being", but the original Greek is "egô eimi ho ôn", which I translate as "I am the being"; note the "the".


Loren, sometimes in Greek when you have a definate article it's talking about the quality. In that case you dont' traslate it as "the." So "I am being" is a better translation than "I am the being." but even that would a similar idea.

The logos was God should be translated "the logos was deity." The quality rather than a definite article.
In any case, it is a translation from Hebrew, "Ehyeh asher ehyeh", which modern-English Bible translations turn into "I am who I am".


That comes from the Masoretic text (Hebrew) and I think the LXX is better. But even so some Rabbis believe the term for God means "being" so that phrase still refers to beign itself. I am that I am implies eternal necessary being.

he's saying I am self sufficient I I am not contingent.
You wave away the Bible's repletion of theological anthropomorphism as metaphorical, despite nobody in the Bible claiming that, and nobody in it slamming pagan religions for describing their deities as superpowered people.

Loren no one anywhere sticks up a big flag saying "warning, reader, metaphor approaching." that's not the way to write. Metaphor doesn't work that way, such writing would have no power. You have to learn to read literature as literature.

when you read William Falkner he doesn't say "here's some symbolism coming up."
Cosmic purpose I consider little more than an anthropomorphic projection; I am a firm believer in impersonal necessity and the fundamental impersonality of the Universe. If you wish to call it "God", you'd end up with Einstein's God, not the God of the Bible.


sorry, that is your unfounded opinion. the TS argument demonstrates that organizing principle is at the base fo the world. that implies meaning and purpose.As to fine tuning, I'm not impressed, because the Universe is so inhospitable to us. Most of the Earth is VERY difficult to tunnel through, we'd drown in the oceans, and we'd suffocate more than a few mi/km up. We'd die in a couple minutes on every other solid surface in the Solar System.


that's what makes hitting the targets so improbable that's makes the argument work.Yes, we have technologies that get around such difficulties in the oceans and the upper atmosphere and outer space, but why should we need those? And even those technologies are very limited -- try traveling into the Sun.

No offense but I don't think you understand the argument. It says its' extremely improbable that we would hit the target levels. There are so many of them and if we missed one by just a small bit there would be no life possible in the galaxy or universe. So that means the game is rigged, and that implies purpose.

Loren said...

Definite articles refer to something specific, like some specific entity. As to "YHWH" likely deriving from a word for "being", that could easily mean something like "Mr. Being".

I think that that would have come about from the long Jewish tradition of avoiding referring to God directly. So, "YHWH" would have started out as a euphemism, and like many euphemisms, it would have ended up with the full force of the original.

And we are dealing with description here; it would be better to own up to what metaphors one uses if they can be easy to misunderstand. One ought to take responsibility for the words one composes and try to compose the clearest possible words rather than whine that they'd been misunderstood.

Loren said...

Here is my broader point about alleged fine tuning. It's that the Earth's appearance of being fine tuned does NOT translate in the Universe as a whole being fine tuned. The Universe makes lots of different kinds of environments, and with that productivity, it's only a matter of time before the Universe produces at least one that can allow us to exist.

It's like how if you play poker long enough, you'll eventually get dealt a high hand. It's very improbable, but if you play long enough, you get dealt LOTS of hands, and it's only a matter of time before you get a high one.

Metacrock, I propose a formal debate with you in some online forum about whether the Universe is fine tuned for us. Which one might you like? I propose http://secularcafe.org though I could live with TheologyWeb or some other.

J.L. Hinman said...

Definite articles refer to something specific, like some specific entity. As to "YHWH" likely deriving from a word for "being", that could easily mean something like "Mr. Being".[/quote]

sorry, where did you study Greek? I was talking about the Grammar of the Greek Translation of the OT. I studied Greek at U. of Texas. In GREEK definite articles are USUALLY translated as "the." indefinite article is formed by not using a sign for the indefinite and saying "a".

so logos by itself = "a word." definite article plus Logos = "the word" EXCEPT SOMETIMES it refers to a quality, in those cases you translate not "the" but by the quality. So instead of "The word was THE God," it would be (or is best translated) "The word was Deity."

In this case one could translate "I am Being itself" Or just "I am being."
I think that that would have come about from the long Jewish tradition of avoiding referring to God directly. So, "YHWH" would have started out as a euphemism, and like many euphemisms, it would have ended up with the full force of the original.


why would "the being" be a euphemism or God? that's no known to have been used that way.And we are dealing with description here; it would be better to own up to what metaphors one uses if they can be easy to misunderstand. One ought to take responsibility for the words one composes and try to compose the clearest possible words rather than whine that they'd been misunderstood.


All religious language is metaphr sweet heart. Saying that God is the ground of being is not the metaphor. Saying he's a big man on a throne is the metaphor.

the principle needs to be that the more comic book silly ass idea should be understood as antiquated pablum for primitive people and the more sophisticated advanced intellectual concept is closer to the way it really is.

Big man in sky = silly pablum

ground of being = cool advanced intellectual concept of philosophers.

J.L. Hinman said...

Metacrock, I propose a formal debate with you in some online forum about whether the Universe is fine tuned for us. Which one might you like? I propose http://secularcafe.org though I could live with TheologyWeb or some

Doxa forums (mine) has a 1x1 debate board. We could debate here if you wish.

I used fine turnning as indicative of purpose. That doesn't necessarily mean that I would advance it as an argument to prove God exists. I have problems with doing that, not because I thinkthe argument is weak,but I have problems with it on principle.

But debate on the issue of purpose. I'll sue fine tuning as indicative of creative purpose.

A Hermit said...

"No offense but I don't think you understand the argument. It says its' extremely improbable that we would hit the target levels. There are so many of them and if we missed one by just a small bit there would be no life possible in the galaxy or universe. So that means the game is rigged, and that implies purpose."The argument erroneously assumes that "life as we know it" is the only possible outcome. If the universe were different than it's still possible that some other form of life would arise.

Even life on Earth is pretty diverse; it arises everywhere from superheated volcanic ocean vents to the subfreezing desert of Antarctica.

The idea that the entire universe is somehow "fine-tuned"just for us puny humans is just absurd. This is another consequence of this anthropomorphizing habit; it ignores the vast and almost limitless variety of possibilities in the natural universe to make it all about us. It isn't.

Loren said...

Very well. Thanx for inviting me. :)

I'm not especially interested in the question of cosmic purpose, since that seems to me to be a poorly-defined hypothesis. How would one tell one purpose from another, or from no purpose at all? For all we know, our Universe's purpose is to make lots of black holes.

I'm more interested in the question of how fine-tuned the Universe is for allowing us to emerge and survive. I think that a few things may qualify as fine tuning, but for the most part, I think that the Universe is less fine-tuned than some fine-tuning advocates seem to think.

J.L. Hinman said...

LOren and Hermit. I'm going to do a new blog article on this issue. It may a couple of days.

sgttomas said...

"Here is my broader point about alleged fine tuning. It's that the Earth's appearance of being fine tuned does NOT translate in the Universe as a whole being fine tuned. The Universe makes lots of different kinds of environments, and with that productivity, it's only a matter of time before the Universe produces at least one that can allow us to exist." - Loren

But that isn't a verifiable fact, only an expectation of reality. There could very well be circumstances that preclude conscious life anywhere else in the universe.

....not that presence of life elsewhere is a problem for the idea of a Creator God, just pointing out that your logic is, well....the answer should be obvious.

"
I'm not especially interested in the question of cosmic purpose, since that seems to me to be a poorly-defined hypothesis. How would one tell one purpose from another, or from no purpose at all? For all we know, our Universe's purpose is to make lots of black holes.

I'm more interested in the question of how fine-tuned the Universe is for allowing us to emerge and survive. I think that a few things may qualify as fine tuning, but for the most part, I think that the Universe is less fine-tuned than some fine-tuning advocates seem to think."


well that's just as arbitrary as deciding a purpose.

*sigh*

logic loses again.