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For Deists; A Question

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 03:35 pm
Good Afternoon all,

I was finishing up Malloy (Beckett) today and ran across a really good teaser question having to do with God (note the capitalization, suggesting a proper noun - i.e., a being). I thought I'd pass this along for musing....

Not an exact quote: What exactly was God up to before creating everything?

I'd love to hear diverse thoughts, ideas or suggestions based on your individual belief systems. I'm an atheist, so such creative conjectures aren't within me; although in all honesty, I find religion very fascinating.

Thanks in advance.
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William
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 06:13 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil, fascinating poser. I am betwixt and between if the capital is an indication of "being" or just a matter respect of those who believe in an entity higher than themselves? I realize the most used reference equated with god is "he", and that is from the mind of man who made those initial interpretations in Genesis of which, in my opinion were extremely "male biased" but understandable for in all of philosophy male is the predominant speaker. In all due respect, you are not the first atheist, that clings to this gender specification and it usually leads to the the most puzzling question of all: "If god created us, who created god"? We have been beating our heads against the wall on that one for centuries. Personally I don't think it can be answered and that is why we just settled for the "big bang" that concludes "nothing becoming something"? Go figure! That really makes a lot of sense, huh?

William
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 06:19 pm
@William,
I guess he was doing Nothing, and got bored, so he decided to do Something. Kind of like going asleep, and then waking up.

BTW, I use this thought more from a Eastern philosophical point of view (e.g. Daoism) which would be more akin to Spinoza's God, that which reveals itself in the unity of Nature.

Rich
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William
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 06:39 pm
@Khethil,
Sorry, if this is a bit off topic, but I have imagined an student entity whose homework assignment is being place in a holograph of "our" universe equipped with a most powerful microscope and he is to find an "earthling"? When I think of that, I can't help but laugh as I think how much we "think" we know about it all. Talk about feeling "small".:perplexed: Ha.

William
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prothero
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 06:59 pm
@Khethil,
Where was the universe before the big bang?

Deist were more interested in what God was up to since creation.
Contrary to the popular assumption of god creating and then sitting back and letting the world run on its own, deists writings are filled with allusions to divine providence and divine guidance.
Scientists of that generation felt there were engaged in discovering divine law and probing the nature of god by studying the universe.

Before creation? I do not know, maybe a lot of planning, trying out different designs,etc.?
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 07:22 pm
@Khethil,
The context of a question is this: Assume this is a self-aware being of the power necessary to have created the universe
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 07:37 am
@Khethil,
IF, notice the big IF, we can assume that god created time, he could live outside of time and yet exist.Its us poor mortals that are tied to lfe by the pasing of time or the inability to imagine existance without time.
That on my journey of deciding on, if a thinking creator existed was reasonable easy to comprehend,i had other questions more exacting than this one.
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jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 05:44 pm
@Khethil,
There is an old saying 'familiarity breeds contempt'. The way we talk about 'God' nowadays is an illustration of this.

Leaving aside the question of whether one believes or not, it is nevertheless salutary to consider what is involved in asking questions about what might be the nature of Deity. In antiquity, there were many who underwent trials and tribulations in search of understanding of the nature of 'God'. Consider the Desert Fathers of early Christianity, for example. There are many others.

Consider the word 'question'. The root is 'quest' which implies not only an asking of something, but also a journey to discover or find. It might be necessary, when considering questions such as 'what is the nature of being'? to engage in a quest. This is what those seeking the truth of such matters traditionally did. It took a lot of soul-searching to come to an understanding of it. I suppose nowadays we have outsourced these considerations to professionals and scientists. We look it up in a journal or a learned paper. So is actually kind of confronting to consider that some solitary seeker might have even found an answer to such questions at all! Nevertheless there are many who believe they did. This in itself is an interesting idea. How would they have arrived at any knowledge without our fantastic instruments and scientific knowledge? Of course there are many now who think that they didn't arrive at any knowledge, that it was all just a delusion.

My personal feeling about it is that you have to have some kind of stake in it to ask the question. Otherwise, the 'God' you may be considering might be just a placeholder for a concept in the history of ideas. This will kind of work, in that when you say the word 'God', those to whom you are speaking will have an idea what is being talked about. So it will produce a meaningful dialog. But it could just as easily be an anthropomorphism or a shared misunderstanding. So if you're atheist it might be because you have no understanding of what you're denying. I often feel that Dawkin's whole crusade is against a God that never existed - he depicts Deity in a certain very stereoptyped and shallow way, and then declares it's non-existence. It is like coming to the shattering realisation that santa claus doesn't live at the north pole.

That is something from the perspective of my individual belief system, anyway.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 05:59 pm
@jeeprs,
Khethil;81307 wrote:
(note the capitalization, suggesting a proper noun - i.e., a being).


As I understand it, God is capitalized to distinguish God from the pagan gods.

Khethil;81307 wrote:
Not an exact quote: What exactly was God up to before creating everything?


This implies time before creation. I'm not sure that is possible - don't we now understand space and time to be fundamentally interconnected; ie, space-time continuum?
urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 03:50 am
@Khethil,
In spot of Deists, wondering about the participation of God, there was none.
God would entertain nothing until Their creation could entertain Them.
From only hence could They participate, within the understanding of all things existed.

Prothero, I think this was for all those that you had mentioned.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 07:21 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;81488 wrote:
This implies time before creation. I'm not sure that is possible - don't we now understand space and time to be fundamentally interconnected; ie, space-time continuum?


Ok, let's remove any time-reference. How about this: What did god do, if anything, prior to creating everything? Do you have a belief or idea on this?

Thanks

jeeprs;81483 wrote:
... My personal feeling about it is that you have to have some kind of stake in it to ask the question.


Sometimes a question is just a question: it's a cute notion, simply popped it out there without preconceived notions or agenda; careful on that presumptuous aspect. I well understand that we - intentionally or not - tend to project onto others the motives on which we, ourselves, are often most fixated, and I suppose this is understandable, but I'm not consciously aware of any reason other than a, "Hey, what a great conversation starter".

jeeprs;81483 wrote:
...So if you're atheist it might be because you have no understanding of what you're denying.


Woops, there's another. I don't deny the existence of any god, I just don't have any reason to believe in one at the present time (note the distinction between belief and knowledge as well as the meaning of the term 'atheist').

But I do find conceptual ideas of what god is, and how he/she spends his time (or what it is he/she/it occupies themselves with or does). And thus the thread starter. Sometimes a question is just a question Smile

Anyone else?
xris
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 07:24 am
@Khethil,
Khetil, you have not commented on any of the answers,did they help.
urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 07:51 am
@Khethil,
Khethil, I wonder if you could imagine that the creation you inquire of remained incomplete until God was completed. That is to say that the creation was not the instant or the millenia but everything in between. Take for granted that the fossils of dinosaurs are today three dimentional but they simply existed as two dimentional figments in the constuct of the mind while the planet formed.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 07:52 am
@xris,
xris;81591 wrote:
Khetil, you have not commented on any of the answers,did they help.


Woops, sorry. Yes, thank you!

I like'd William's; he got stuck on gender somewhat (a good commentary on that, by the way) and finished by saying he didn't believe it was answerable - which jives with what I believe to be a dominant mindset and a very relevant point. This is actually a central theme to me (an area of fascination in understanding human belief systems); that being, those areas of our beliefs that we must 'put on the faith shelf' (i.e., must be answered with the "We can't know <this>").

Prothero also had a don't-really know response but had the very-good observation that humankind's preoccupation has been what he's been up to since then - quite true I think.

Yours, Xris(as well as Didy's - to some extent), spoke well about (presumably your belief) god existing outside of time. I see this a lot and can definitely accept what I perceive to be the rationale behind it. If this is so, then any such a question wouldn't have much meaning.

I'd think this a worthy question - in a general sense - for folks of the deistic persuasion; what else, if anything, might god be up to? I'm guessing that - obviously - this depends on ones' conception, but is also precisely what makes it a good question for religious discussion. Another note; I see many opinions that don't consign god to a 'being' per say - an essence, an energy or 'binding concept'. Such a question wouldn't have much meaning - not really - to this belief system I'd guess.

Thanks for asking.

---------- Post added 08-06-2009 at 08:56 AM ----------

urangutan;81593 wrote:
Khethil, I wonder if you could imagine that the creation you inquire of remained incomplete until God was completed. That is to say that the creation was not the instant or the millenia but everything in between. Take for granted that the fossils of dinosaurs are today three dimentional but they simply existed as two dimentional figments in the constuct of the mind while the planet formed.


Ok, assumption entered.

And I'll have to admit, I've not heard this one before. It requires the mind to step off 'trusting the sense' and what we think we know, but again; it's possible. So, in this scenario/belief system, god would not be complete until the creation - of which we're talking - is complete?

I'm a little lost on that aspect, I'll admit. But fascinating concept. Thanks
0 Replies
 
urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 08:13 am
@Khethil,
Think of creation as the confines of the womb. Before you reject the afterbirth, at birth, meld it into the body, of what is now the planet earth. So there is a history in much less time, a creation but never the real existence and so on and so on.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 09:58 am
@urangutan,
urangutan;81597 wrote:
Think of creation as the confines of the womb. Before you reject the afterbirth, at birth, meld it into the body, of what is now the planet earth. So there is a history in much less time, a creation but never the real existence and so on and so on.


Fascinating. I can't say I understand it all, but I can appreciate the concept of a constant evolution of sorts, wherein it continues to recreate itself through its own growth (if I got that right).

Lemme see if I can fold this into your earlier response; So that God, in this context, is that in-the-mind concept/blueprint of how things are becoming (their form, the 'plan' of sorts, if you will)?

awesome - I like this one a lot. Again, if I'm getting it even remotely right this conception melds the conception, the form, process of renewal and evolving of all things into all we know. Is God, in this conception, that "plan" you illustrated as that fossil/concept?

Thanks for engaging honestly here. It's kind of rare these days, folks are always on the defensive /offensive about these things and consequently reluctant to just share.

Regards,
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 06:11 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;81589 wrote:
Ok, let's remove any time-reference. How about this: What did god do, if anything, prior to creating everything? Do you have a belief or idea on this?


No, because the question is incomprehensible. It does not seem to apply to god.

How can god do something when then is nothing, ie, before there is everything? What would that even mean?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 06:22 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Yes, I am not sure what we are after here. In any human terms of comprehension there is nothing that God could have been doing. The question is incomprehensible and any answers would have to be even less so. I am not sure there is an answer to "what is god doing now?".

It's like "Where was time before the big bang" or "Where was the world before it was created". I am not a fan of logical positivism or of linquistic analysis but it does have its place.
0 Replies
 
xris
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 01:08 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;81671 wrote:
No, because the question is incomprehensible. It does not seem to apply to god.

How can god do something when then is nothing, ie, before there is everything? What would that even mean?
Its just a question that you might ask.You have to consider a question before you dismiss its relevance.Its only your opinion that its not relevant,it is to most others.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 7 Aug, 2009 01:19 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;81671 wrote:
No, because the question is incomprehensible. It does not seem to apply to god.

How can god do something when then is nothing, ie, before there is everything? What would that even mean?


I don't know - if I am the creator of all things, it's not so "incomprehensible" that perhaps I existed before I created all things. If so, what might have been that state?

Yea, don't be so quick to dismiss. I think it's a good, meaningful exercise to elicit and talk out such concepts.

Thanks

---------- Post added 08-07-2009 at 02:30 PM ----------

prothero;81673 wrote:
Yes, I am not sure what we are after here.


Sharing views, Prothero.

prothero;81673 wrote:
In any human terms of comprehension there is nothing that God could have been doing. The question is incomprehensible and any answers would have to be even less so. I am not sure there is an answer to "what is god doing now?".


It may be to you - but such would depend on what one believes. It's not such a large stretch that people believe that god might be doing something even right now. Careful to be so quick to judge - not everyone believes the way you do.

prothero;81673 wrote:
It's like "Where was time before the big bang" or "Where was the world before it was created".


No, that'd be your not reading or understanding the initial question or (in particular) its followup clarification. Allow me to gently clarify: [INDENT]If god existed before created everything else, it's not completely inconceivable that he/she/it was in some state, or "doing something". The question is a teaser opportunity to share ideas on the nature of their belief systems about the nature of god.
[/INDENT]Thanks
 

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