Saturday, March 03, 2012

Answering Atheist Divide and Conquor: Why so Many Different Views of God?

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I find atheists making htis mistake all the time, willfully. They base a strategy on it. They try to divide differing religious views so it looks like they are not 3% of humanity trying to dictate to 90% what they can believe, but dividing and conquering they reduce the 90% to the nearest and most objectionable 10% of fundamentalism. They treat any difference in views of God, however trivial, as a belief in a totally different God.

This is in response to a post on CARM by "Lance." Part of what he says is this:

This is quite damning for organized religion, though, since it's very very rare that the lay man religious folk makes any attempt to defining or clarifying their concept of God. Why would we even consider two people who believe in "God" to be of the same religion, merely because they've named their beetles by the same word?


This is merely arguing from ignoarnce. It's a dedicated refusal to examine the basic concepts that animate almost all religious belief around the world and to impose upon them a phony sense of rigor that they neither need nor illicit. That is to say that is totally uncalled for and is antithetical to what religious belief is about. The concept of God is standard and unified through religious belief. The same reality of the divine stands behind all religions. The problem is God is beyond our understanding. Religious doctrines are merely verbalization of a particular form of religious experience known as "the feeling of utter dependence" (Schleiermacher). Since we can't know about God directly we fill in the gaps. Most of those fill-ins are based upon cultural constructs. We experience God at a non verbal level and to talk about it we filter the experience through cultural constructs. It's the culture that makes religions different form each other, and makes views of God different. Yes I am saying that even people who don't believe in God experience God as some level, however slight, they don't pay attention. That is not far form what William James said about levels of experience.

crash course in the nature of comparative religion:

all religion is about three things:

(1) identifying the "human problematic" the problem at the heart of being human;

(2) resolving the problematic by means of ultimate transformational experience (UTE) and;

(3) medicating between the two with some form of ceremony or consciousness raising devise.

To that extent anything that a religious tradition identifies as the object of UTE is a prori the object of the tradition. That is to say the Transcendental signified; the thing at the top of the metaphsyical hierarchy that defines all meaning and makes things what they are.

The UTE is in relation to the TS. TS brings the UTE. That means that whatever does this is a prori God. "God" is the short hand term for this function.


Basic assumption:

We experience God at the subliminal level, beyond words. This is a prelude to the transfomative state. So we can't speak of it directly because it's beyond words. To speak of it we load the experience into constructs. The constructs in our minds come to us form culture. So we filter God experience through culture. It's the cultural elements that makes religions different. This is also what makes it hard to make different concepts of God stack up. There constants.

(1) Creator

the most basic constant is that of creator.

(2) Transcendental Signifier

the term "God" is used to mark the transcendental signified. that is to say the thing at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. This is true for all religions. the thing at the top can be correlated to that religions understanding of God. Even in religions where there is no clear God concept per say, Buddhism or Vedanta, there is a TS.


(3) eternal

All religions have an eternal God. due to problem of English language there are some that have little g "gods." These would be the Olympian gods in Greek myth (also nature gods such as Pan as well as Titans). they all have one big creator God who is at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. What the NT calls "'O theos." We could replace the term "God" with 'O Theos and be saying the same thing. (pronounced "haw Th-ae-os" with hard a in the middle). rough breathing mark at the beging has H sound.

(4) Being itself.

All religions correlate in some way their object of ultimate concern, with being itself. In Buddhism the notion of Buddha mind is correlated--Tillich himself says this.

All of these corrolations of different religions with 'O Theos can be understood easily by looking at their concept of the top of the metaphsyical hierarchy functionally.

Lance's comments about my ideas

It' plainly obvious that there is no one conception of "God" that is held by most Christians.


again why should there be? Anything that is beyond our understanding is going to veg and interpretations will vary. The constants are all there they can all be accessed functionally. Look for what that group thinks created all things and makes all things what they are, defines all truth and stands at the top of any metaphysical hierarchy.

Lance Kierkegaard would tell you that you are the man regarding the wig rather than the man.If you don't know that story it's just that simple, you are looking at the trappings rather than the person.




Consider how different Metacrock's 'ground of being' is to a fundamentalist Christian's big man in the sky. Or a God that loves everyone, and a God that loves only a few.


That is just a difference in sophistication. For both of us God created all things and makes all things what they are and determines the nature of right and wrong, is the origin and source of love, meaning and truth. No fundies will ever deny those things.

Remember what I said about the M scale. when you take the words out the experience are all the same.



A God which is so powerful he can bring about contradictions, and a God who's so powerless he must use human actions to guide history.


I agree with fundies that God is powerful enough to guide history, and probalby is in some sense. Although I'll let you know after the elections if I still agree.

Fundies believe that God can do logical contradictions that doesn't prove that the Christian tradition says that. You are trying to base your understanding of the tradition upon its' most ignorant representatives. that really makes your argument a straw man. That's really the old atheist move of the atheist straw God argument.


There are some who's beliefs, upon analysis, turn out to be practically atheistic; like someone who believes God is everything or everyone. What is the difference between the atheist who says there is no god, and the theist who says their god is everything there is? Clearly the difference between the two is how comfortable one is in having an object of worship, but not one of any metaphysical nature.


you are trying to create a theological norm that favors your debunking rather than trying to understand the true nature of theological norms. You figure if some ignorant group think god has a mustache then any hint that he doesn't means they have a different God in mind. That's just trying to create a theological institution where there is none. who says those are the issues that determine the difference between a doctrine and some idiot's misunderstanding?

If you try to write an authoritative definition of science you find there is none. They all differ and some of them can take one into opening up philosophical fissures that question the very nature of science. I don't know if you understand Derrida or not. You are basically employing the first step in Derridian deconstruction and it can be used to disentangle and undo all verbal connections. So any idea even the most solid seeming can be deconstruct i this way.

The basic mistake you are making is that you are not looking for the connections. you are looking for differences only and you assume that any difference at all will unravel the whole concept. with that approach you can destroy scinece and mathematics and everything. Anything that can be put into words can be decontrolled and that's all your doing.

Language is metaphorical. all language is metaphorical. Without making the connections in unspoken and tacitly known and implied ways on can deconstruct anything that can be put into words. As long as the basic aspects are met for the primary qualities, the attributes of God that mark God as uniquely God, then we are talking about God. This is becuase they can't be shared by any other. As with Spinoza's noting of the triangle, any triangle shape is a reference to the actual shape. Multiple representations of the triangle are not different competing shapes, they are all references to the same ideal shape. A trangle on a black board, the thing you rack up the pool balls with, reference to two people competing for the love of a third person, all references tot he same shape, they are different shapes competing to exist each other.

6 comments:

Dave said...

I hope things are going well for you and your family, and as long as you make new posts I will respond as interest in the topic and available time dictate.

Yes I am saying that even people who don't believe in God experience God as some level, however slight, they don't pay attention.

I have written various replies in the last couple of months to posts which suggest or imply something along these lines, and you keep making this assertion. Oh, people know it's real they just don't know they know because they don't want to know. Yet when I give you evidence of sincere seekers who don't fit your claim above you just say you can't explain it. So why keep making a claim when there is contradictory evidence you for which you cannot give an adequate account? Or at least acknowledge such contrary evidence in your posts?

For both of us God created all things and makes all things what they are and determines the nature of right and wrong, is the origin and source of love, meaning and truth. No fundies will ever deny those things.

Not all Christians believe that, although most probably due, and Buddhists and many in other Eastern religions definitely would not accept this, making your own characterization of the essentials of God itself a cultural construct. You have to have a much more stripped down version of God if you want it to be a potential candidate for the truth behind all mystical experiences.

Dave said...

To clarify, I didn't include another quote in my post. I appreciate that in my second quote Metacrock was talking about a potential unifying view of Gog for all Christians, but I meant to also have some stuff there from his other section on the universal nature of God.

I would say that indeed many people abandon or modify Christianity precisely because they do not care for or cannot accept some of the basic premises about the Christian view of God (and see my comment to the previous post on the problems of personifying God for more on that issue).

Christianity will either properly frame this overly anthropomorphized imagery of "God as Creator", "God as King", "God as Redeemer" (by emphasizing its symbolic nature and correcting for its over literalization) or else the fundamentalists will completely take over. The rest will become more like Buddhists or Advaita Vedantists, wherein the older more hierarchical and controlling order gave way to a more inclusive, universalizing, and de-centralized system.

Metacrock said...

I would say that indeed many people abandon or modify Christianity precisely because they do not care for or cannot accept some of the basic premises about the Christian view of God (and see my comment to the previous post on the problems of personifying God for more on that issue).

Christianity will either properly frame this overly anthropomorphized imagery of "God as Creator", "God as King", "God as Redeemer" (by emphasizing its symbolic nature and correcting for its over literalization) or else the fundamentalists will completely take over. The rest will become more like Buddhists or Advaita Vedantists, wherein the older more hierarchical and controlling order gave way to a more inclusive, universalizing, and de-centralized system.


I agree with that. that's pretty sharp

Metacrock said...

DAVE:
I have written various replies in the last couple of months to posts which suggest or imply something along these lines, and you keep making this assertion. Oh, people know it's real they just don't know they know because they don't want to know. Yet when I give you evidence of sincere seekers who don't fit your claim above you just say you can't explain it. So why keep making a claim when there is contradictory evidence you for which you cannot give an adequate account? Or at least acknowledge such contrary evidence in your posts?

I have given an adequate account. William James bases it upon his empirical observations and Wuthnow bases it upon James but felt that his research confirmed it.

I don't see the evidence you offer as a counter as really definative. all you say really--boiled down, other people differently. Well sure they that's why they deny it.

I think you misunderstand.I never meant to say that I know what's going on in people's heads. I never meant to say 'everyone knows i'm right they just want say it.' I'm not saying everyone is denying what they experience at a subliminal level. How could they if it's subliminal? Can't deny it if you don't know about it. I thin some people deny that doesn't' all do.

It's not exactly the subliminal level hey are denying but subsequent "hints." not everyone is denying it.


"For both of us God created all things and makes all things what they are and determines the nature of right and wrong, is the origin and source of love, meaning and truth. No fundies will ever deny those things."

"Not all Christians believe that, although most probably due, and Buddhists and many in other Eastern religions definitely would not accept this, making your own characterization of the essentials of God itself a cultural construct. You have to have a much more stripped down version of God if you want it to be a potential candidate for the truth behind all mystical experiences."

everything's a cultural constrict. I am aware that my understanding is just part of the metaphor. what else can I do but reflect my current state of understanding?

Anonymous said...

You should do some reading on the cognitive flaws of humans, specifically those related to memory distortion. You have never experienced the holy spirit or any intervention of gods in your life. It's all in your head. You aren't special. Get over it.

Metacrock said...

You should do some reading on the cognitive flaws of humans, specifically those related to memory distortion. You have never experienced the holy spirit or any intervention of gods in your life. It's all in your head. You aren't special. Get over it.

you have given your heart and soul to satan and you are a spawn of evil. I don't need the gift of discernment to know you are a creep Steven.

If you say it I know it's a lie because that's your native lanague.