Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Is God Toxicity Itself?


On Secular Outpost, I was asked to define by terms about God and clarify what I believe about God. I did that only to be told that my terms are totally inconsistent and meaningless and incoherent ect. ect, This is just another anti-intellectual attack of gnu: atheism, I will use the opportunity to explain my views on Tillich and theology better. That attack was made with an anti-intellectual attitude that is typical of the gnu atheism. It;s an opportunity, The inconsistency is clearly theirs. The discusssion started with one of them saying:

How about *you* simply and clearly define what *you* mean by the word, 'god'? I could not care less what Mr. Tillich, or any other dead Christian apologist wrote. If you have a coherent 'god' definition, what's preventing you from posting it?[2]
I did then they sway i'ts not clear and simple because they don't know what the terms mean the way I use them.,, It's only clear and sprinkle if I use their terns and reduce my concept of God to the conept they want to attack.

Here is the definition I gave,


Belief in God is not merely accepting one more thing in the universe, It's a world view involving the basis of reality. So to say:I believe God is...is also saying: I believable reality involves and an understanding of x y and z, that's going to get complex.
Ok with that understood, to satisfy the urge for a brief description: I do think God is not another thing in the cosmos but is the basis of all reality and thus a framework in which reality happens. That framework is analogous to mind in certain ways but can also be understood as the eternal and necessary aspect of being. In any case the important thing to note is that it is beyond our understanding but not beyond experience, therefore God cannot be a subject of empirical knowledge except indirectly, It is a subject of intimate existential and phenomenological apprehension.
There was a fuss made over my suggestion that they read Tillich I'll skip that issue. Here was their first attack.

Comparing a philosophical debate with a demand for an explanation of a speculative sub-atomic theory is a false equivalence. If you made a claim regarding an alleged real-world phenomenon, I would by justified in not accepting your claim until you provided some form of real-world verification. Again, if this were something you did understand, you would be expected to explain it to me, even if by analogy. If you didn’t understand, you ought rightly to say so, but that as far as you were able you accepted that the alleged phenomenon was scientifically verifiable, and that tests had demonstrated such. Do you see the difference?
That appears to be a question begging argument that essentially says no terns that refer to God can be meaningful because there is no God. Of course that is not meaningful until he knows what I'm calling God so it seems he is predisposed to reject any notion of god out of hand.
‘Belief’ is a word that requires context, and when the words, ‘in God’ are appended, it takes on a special meaning. It becomes a reality claim that there exists a concept, ‘God’, and that concept is real, valid, and true, but is not falsifiable. In contrast, it is not necessary to ‘believe’ in reason or logic. We *use* reason and logic.
“It’s a world view involving the basis of reality”
Belief in the untestable may indeed encompass a world view. Hence religions and various other toxic ideologies. However, the phrase, ‘basis of reality’, requires some expansion. ‘Basis’ usually means the support, foundation, system of principles, justification or reasoning underlying an idea, activity or ‘something’. That something could even be a concept. This seems to say that reality is wholly dependent upon an undefined principle(?), and that this undefined ‘thing that isn’t a thing’, is God.
He's already got it all figured out it's a toxic ideology even he doesn't know what it is. Before I even define it he knows its toxic because anything labeled "God" is toxic since Gods the big nightmare against which he struggles. That is anti-intellectual and shuts any  discussion. Why discuss anything with someone  who is predisposed to regard anything you say as "toxic?"
Playing off my use of phrases like "basis of reality" (I think is more illuminating than ":ground of being").,  he attacks reality.
Is belief in reality required? What would happen if I were to cease believing in it? I personally don’t believe in reality, in the sense that events seem to occur with or without my belief in them. Again, belief in the sense of faith in the untestable, seems hardly necessary. But perhaps that’s not what you’re talking about.
Now he's actually defending solipsism to ward off God. If we cam't assume reality (like truth) as a basic staple that we agree with the there is no point in discussion.

Now under the guise  of "unpacking" my talk about God not being a thing in creation, he's going to tell me what it means. So before I actually define my own views he's going to "unpack them." But if they are so incoherent how can he do that?
Meta: “God is not another thing in the cosmos,”
God does not exist as a definable entity. Check.
Tillich equates existence with contingency. So Tillich says God does not exist he does not mean there is no God. I would shy away from saying God is not an entity because people tend to think of that term as anything definable. God is definable along certain lines even though he transcends our understanding.
Meta“…but is the basis of all reality…”
Ibid:God is the underlying principle upon which the Universe depends. Is that what you mean?
Sure that will do.

Meta“… and thus a framework in which reality happens.”
Ibid:It seems to me, there is an implied distinction between the foundation, (God), and that which is founded upon it, (reality).
Put another way, you seem to be saying God is a required foundation *for* reality, but not reality itself - therefore accordingly, God is being defined as transcendent, above and necessary for the functioning of the Universe, but not contained within, or immanent.

Ok let's say the frame in which the observable qualia happens, Then he will probably say that I'm discounting that which we cant observe as not part of reality, Obviously the framework concept is analogy so it's silly to try to use that to discomfit the whole concept,.As though I can't include the framework in reality.

then he takes it up a notch:

But that contradicts your proposition that God is not another thing in the cosmos - does not exist as a definable entity.
He is the one who tagged on the "not a definable entity,?" that depends upon what we mean by entity. I will accept that concept iif entity does not rule out mind, does not rule out clear and distinct idea,. I would rule out an individual one of many, but it does not rule out mind itself, God is universal mid. I've already discussed that concept on the blog, See my article bout the Translator Rolt and is views on Dyonisius. [3] Edwin Rolt Tells us, in his introduction to his translation :

The basis of their teaching is the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead (ὑπερούσιος θεαρχία). We must, therefore, at the very outset fix the meaning of this term. Now the word “Essence” or “Being” (οὐσία) means almost invariably an individual existence; more especially a person, since such is the highest type that individual existence can in this world assume. And, in fact, like the English word “Being,” it may without qualification be used to mean an angel. Since, then, the highest connotation of the term “Essence” or “Being” is a person, it follows that by “Super-Essence” is intended “Supra-Personality.” And hence the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead simply means that God is, in His ultimate Nature, Supra-Personal.
Now an individual person is one who distinguishes himself from the rest of the world. I am a person because I can say: “I am I and I am not you.” Personality thus consists in the faculty of knowing oneself to be one individual among others. And thus, by its very nature, Personality is (on one side of its being, at least) a finite thing. The very essence of my personal state lies in the fact that I am not the whole universe but a member thereof.

God, on the other hand, is Supra-Personal because He is infinite. He is not one Being among others, but in His ultimate nature dwells on a plane where there is nothing whatever beside Himself. The only kind of consciousness we may attribute to Him is what can but be described as an Universal Consciousness. He does not distinguish Himself from us; for were we caught up on to that level we should be wholly transformed into Him. And yet we distinguish between ourselves and Him because from our lower plane of finite Being we look up and see that ultimate level beyond us. The Super-Essential Godhead is, in fact, precisely that which modern philosophy describes as the Absolute. Behind the diversities of this world there must be an Ultimate Unity. And this Ultimate Unity must contain in an undifferentiated condition all the riches of consciousness, life, and existence which are dispersed in broken fragments throughout the world. Yet It is not a particular Consciousness or a particular Existence. It is certainly not Unconscious, Dead or, in the ordinary sense, non-Existent, for all these terms imply something below instead of above the states to which they are opposed.[4]
He questions the concept of mind, I said“That framework is analogous to mind in certain ways…” he says:
What is ‘mind’? And please provide some of those ‘certain ways’ in which this alleged framework is analogous to it. One or two will do.
In a sense that is a reasonable question since we don't really know what mind is, But I think in drawing analogy to mind it;s pretty clear I am saying God is the source of consciousnesses and thus has consciousness. Like a mind thinking a thought God thinks the universe, This  is why I  speak of a framework. God frames reality thorough his consciousnesses similar to Berkeleys concept to be is to be perceived,

“… but can also be understood as the eternal and necessary aspect of being.”

An aspect of something is a definable characteristic of something, yet you claim God is not a thing, so this ‘aspect of being’ must be a definable characteristic of ‘being-ness’, or reality/existence/Universe. An aspect can be described and defined, and in this case you have defined it as both eternal and necessary. Is that correct?
There is no contradiction that is totally a natter his refusal listen, I said God si not on  a part with individual objects in creation because he is more basic to the whole than that. in reality we have ships and strings and sealing wax and cabbages and kinds. God is not on that list,God is not a thing ALONG SIDE OTHER THINGS IN CREATION!!!! In no way does that mean that he is nothing at all. I said literally he is the aspect of being that is eternal, necessary, and the basis of the whole.

He actually got the point above where he says:  "God is the underlying principle upon which the Universe depends. Is that what you mean?" That should cancel out his argument that God is in addition reality,a founding principle is part of the things it founds.There's no reason why a principle can;t be mind, the only problematic concept is that it is universal mind(see fn 3)

“In any case the important thing to note is that it is beyond our understanding…”

If so, in your own words you clearly state your God-concept is not only unfalsifiable, but also undefinable, nor is it comprehensible or coherent.

Fist of all I didn't say belief is falsifiable, I said it's not directly empirical. That doesn't mean there aren't ways to get indirect verification. Fallibility is possible in regard to certain aspects of belief. But there's no reason why that should be a criterion for belief when its a phenomenological and existential matter. Religious experience (mystical or peak experience) is the co-determinate or God correlate. That's where the indirect verification comes in. The co-determinate empirical and falsifiable. 

I was planing on using an analogy for my argument about phenomenology. It ws the logic of the lampe post. That's the idea that you drop your car keys in the dark, where do you start looking? Under the light. But if you didn't drop them under light, why would you look there? Because that's the only place you could find them. That would have fit the situation thus: my approach to God arguments is to claim the idea Schleiermacher's "co-determinate." That is, a "trace" or "finger print" or some aspect that goes along with God, but is not but which will be indicative of God. We can't prove God in an empirically verifiable way, so we do the next best thing, we "prove" the co-determinate.Of course, the 64, Million dollar question (yea,it's supposed to be 64,000,but inflation...) how do we know what the co-determinate is? But let's bracket that for now, I'm still working on what's wrong with the analogy.

So the idea is we prove what we can, we look under the lamp post. The problem is, the lamp post is also what empiricism is doing. The empiricists,the scientific reductionists, (ie skeptics) are looking at what they can see and nothing more. The conclude on the basis of a limited and narrow range of data that there can't be anything else out there in the dark but that which they see in this mall patch of light. I was in a quandary. Should I re-shape the analogy? Should I find a new analogy, does this mean that there is no real difference in the phenomenological approach and the empirical scietnific (skeptical) approach? Before I go any further let me qualify that I use the term "scientific" operationally. I am not saying that all scientific thinking is skeptical and anti-religious. I am just using that phrase here for the purposes of describing the opposition in terms they like to see themselves.

Now how do we know the co-detemrinate? Schleiermacher saw it as the feeling of utter dependence, because the object or corollary of having such a feeling was the thing that evokes the feeling. Just feelings of sublimity imply that one encounters the sublime, feelings of love imply that there is a beloved, so feelings of utter dependence imply that there is a universal necessity upon which the live world and worlds are supremely utterly dependent. We can also include mystical experience and life transformation because these are part and parcel of what is meant by the idea of religion and the divine. As far back as we can dig for artifacts we seem to find some form of mystical experience at the heart of all organized religion. So we can conclude that God, religion, and life transformation always go hand in hand. The studies themselves tell us that life transformation always accompanies dramatic experiences which are understood as and which evoke a strong sense of the Holy. Is this really phenomenological? We can screw up our phenomenological credentials by responding to it in a non phenomenological way. But it is the product of the phenomenological method, because it derives from observation of the phenomena and allowing the phenomena to tell us what categories to group the data into.

As Tillich tells us

The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not.[5]

[1]  Bradley Bowen, "Geisler’s Five Ways – Part 11: The Structure of Geisler’s Case,"Secular Out Post, (Dec 16,2016) blog, URL

[2] bikerjon Ibid., comment section,
[3] Joseph Hinman, "The Super Essential Godhead," Metacrock's Blog (May 3, 2016)blog URL
[4] Edwin Rolt, "Introduction,"Dionysius the Areopagite: on Divine names and the Mystical Theology, trans. Clearance Edwin Rolt , New YorkNew York: Cosmio 2007, from original 1920 publication.  see also online versionChristian Classics Ethereal Library, on line version, The Author and his Influence, trans by, 1920  website URL:  by http://www.ccel.org/ccel/rolt/dionysius.iii.i.html
visited May 13,
[5] Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1948.


Mike Gerow said...

There's a lot there that you're working with....

I think "depth" could be described in terms of something irreducible, unanalyzable? Something has "depth," to the exact extent it can't be broken down into parts and structures? But that's problematic to show, to "prove" in reductionist terms, bacause that's precisely asking for "depth" to be "broken down"

bikerjohn, however, has a similar prob, namely the comprehensible, systematizable CAN'T be based in itself, as that would be question begging, so comprehension, if it has any universal validity, HAS TO be based on something incomprehensible.....

Joe Hinman said...

that's not his only problem. shooting his mouth off when he doesn't know what he;s talking abouit is also high up on the list,

Anonymous said...

A few comments...

A see nothing there to indicate that God is conscious/sentient. I would say that that is a very necessary part of being God, so I find that a strange omission.

You do say God is analogous to mind is some ways, which perhaps indicates conscious/sentient, but is sufficiently vague that it does not really say anything. In what ways is God analogous to mind? I am guessing that residing in a physical, organic brain is not one?

How does this relate to Christian belief? It seems far closer to pandeism than Christianity.


Joe Hinman said...

You do say God is analogous to mind is some ways, which perhaps indicates conscious/sentient, but is sufficiently vague that it does not really say anything. In what ways is God analogous to mind? I am guessing that residing in a physical, organic brain is not one?

How does this relate to Christian belief? It seems far closer to pandeism than Christianity.

This article is about Schweitzer's view. I don;t think he did see god as conscious,I do so I stuck that in about mind, But I he did not because we a 19th century liberal,so it really wasn't germane to the article.

I have written elsewhere about God and consciousness, see the stand alone pages under God, also science were i talk about the brain/mind issue.,

Joe Hinman said...

seePaul Tillich and The personal God where i show how I depart from Paul Tillich,k my theological hero over the issue of God and consciousness.

Mike Gerow said...

I'm trying to help you work out your idea....

If we say rational thought should be based on obvious axioms, like 2+2=4, what's that mean? The world is such that it only makes sense if there's such a thing as a '2', & the sum of a pair of them is 4 ? Even tho we can't really say what a '2' or a '4' really are?

How different is that than your 'ground of being' sort of arguments?

PS (... This is a bit tangential but.... Imo you need an "unground of being" argument too, btw. To cover stuff like apophatism, chaos in physics, and the historical fact that the most intense forms of mysticism aren't always "social-friendly and accessible as you and Hood characterize, but often have pissed off the powers of the state, & gotten practioners persecuted or even lit on fire.

Tillich himself also invokes that Schelling-like "unground" concept at times, doesn't he? )