Monday, October 29, 2012
Gaining Clearity On The God Concept
An atheist on CARM, having read no theology and understanding nothing about it, voices the uninformed opion that all talk about God is incoherent and confused.
Again atheists prove the totalitarian nature of their ideology becuase they can't accept diversity of opinion. They just can't stand the idea that there could more than one school of thought. They are outraged that Christians get to think and hold opinions while they must learn a set of facts and reduce all life to that list of facts.
There is nothing incoherent about my idea of God but these guys are confusing unproved assumptions with incoherent ones. They also confuse their own inability to understand with incoherence.
The most striking thing about my concept of God is that is is extremely clear and well thought out. It might be hard for them to see this becasue they get hung up on ideas they don't understand and don't know about, like being itself. they also require absolute scientific proof so they confuse speculation with incoherence.
here's a thumbnail of my view:
this is not a God argument it's a set of observations. they do have relation to each other but don't necessary flow out of one another logically.
Pertaining to Method
I. God is beyond our understanding.
Mythical theology is at the core of my ideas. "mystical" doesn't mean magic realms and hokus pokus it means we don't know. God is beyond our understanding. Rather than make up a bunch of theory that can't be proved, we just admit we don't know and look for what we can know--the logic of the lamp post.
II. Religious language is analogical.
Becuase God is beyond our understanding we can only talk about the aspects of the divine that we experience in some sense, although most such experiences are intuitive and not deep, such the feeling of utter dependence. Nevertheless to talk about them we have to filter them through cultural constructs. So we get ideas about "fathers" and "kings" and so forth because in the ancinet world these were ways to make transcendent experience immediate. Then have to bridge to gap with metaphor and that means the bridge is trailing off into the darkness and we don't see the other end. That's ok becuase our end is very light and we can step out on it and see that it's solid.
III. We can speak of the reality of God functionally
We can't observe god empirically (except through mystical expressive and divine union--then we can't talk about it accurately) we have to speak of the functionality that we see in god based upon the experiences we do have.
We can talk about god's love because we can experience that. That's a concrete thing: I didn't feel it, I never felt it until I got saved then I felt it all it all the time.
We can experience redemption in terms of both psychological healing and transformation in life.
there are other such functionalities based upon either experience or logic. By that I mean the function God plays in our relationship with him. Those functions include, redeemer, creator,father, leader, friend and other things.
I. We can draw analogy to mind.
God is universal mind. those who would call this "new age" don't know anything about the Orthodox chruch. No figurine in Church history is more center to the Orthodox than Dionysus the Areiopagite. Calling him "New age" would be ridiculous. He is the one who spoke of God as universal mind.
The relationship of god to mind is analogy becuase we don't even know enough about our own minds to say what they are. Then of course there's the problem of the relationship of brain to mind.
Nothing in the data on brain proves that it is anything more than access point for mind. Property dualism is not proof of anything,it's a theory. It's a better theory than that of Dennett and it's better than reductionism, but it's not proof. Nothing there proves that brain anything more than an access point. It's like the relationship between hardware and soft ware.
II. We don't have to know things like what God is made out of.
We can speculate. I equate spirit with mind. It's more popular to take the Greek word Pneuma and it's Greek root to mean "wind" or "air" or "breath" but it also means mind. In the tradition of German philosophy that relatinoship is made explicit.
Speculation is limited in it's value. The most popular answer to "what is God made of?" would be "energy" and is energy so that might fit. The problem is it's absurd to speak of God as being "made of" something. That would contradict the reality of God as unmade, without beginning and non contingent.
That's a problem of language but there's a point to it. God is the most basic thing there is. God is the stopping point for subatomic particles and for all cause and effect. Whatever is down that far we have not a clue. It makes sense it would be akin to what's going on in our heads, a mental process. That makes sense because the mind is so unlimited and God is certainly unlimited.
our own minds are suitable to frame a coherent world. It just makes sense to analogize God as universal mind. another aspect of that is through omnipresence and omnipotence. These aspects would work well a mind, where as not so much for brain unless the world as a product of the mind being produced by the brain.
III. Equating God with mind is only speculative and analogy
............A literaizing the metaphor
We must be careful not to take it too literally. It's better to keep thinking in terms of function and not to answer questions about physical make up or lack there of. Certainly I don't think God has a physicality. But such questions are best left to science fiction.
We need to distinguish between image, metaphor and hard answer. we relate hazy understanding through mental images. We draw analogy through mental imagery. That makes it appealing to take literally but we should fight against the urge and keep remembering it's all just a set of constructs.
............Mind is the best analogy we have.
It encapsulates aspects of God's attributes we see in consciousness, will and volition. Consciousness is the ability to understand oneself as separate from others and the world.
will is desire and volition is the motivation to obtain desire.
we see these qualities in God through mystical experience and relationship with god..
analogical ontology of God gives us a vital means of constructing a coherent, clear and meaningful concept of God by relating the functionalists of divine analogically to our own cultural constructs and experiences. while this is limited to our experience and understanding, what isn't? Everything for us is so limited, we cant' understand anything beyond this conceptual framework of pattern establishment.