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For Deists; A Question

 
 
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 05:49 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;82727 wrote:
Do you think the universe is obliged to make itself comprehensible to you?
The universe will expose itself to anyone who chooses to look.We have a duty to try and understand it,but no, as its not a thinking entity it will not have the will to be understood.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 05:53 am
@Khethil,
Seriously, xris, I don't want to just dash of a reply here but there is an issue here with the subject at hand. Nowhere in any religious scripture does is any Deity presented as 'something easy to fathom'. The religious instinct IS to grapple with that which is beyond our understanding, with mystery, with the unknown. That is what religion stands for. If there is a problem in the current so-called debate about religion, it is that this has been forgotten. Men have sweated blood on these questions for generations, they have tried to live them out to the very best of their ability, and at the end they still don't know if they have succeeded. It is very tough but it doesn't come with a remote control. If your universe consists only of what you can explain, xris, then I daresay it is time to widen your boundaries a bit.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 06:21 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;82731 wrote:
Seriously, xris, I don't want to just dash of a reply here but there is an issue here with the subject at hand. Nowhere in any religious scripture does is any Deity presented as 'something easy to fathom'. The religious instinct IS to grapple with that which is beyond our understanding, with mystery, with the unknown. That is what religion stands for. If there is a problem in the current so-called debate about religion, it is that this has been forgotten. Men have sweated blood on these questions for generations, they have tried to live them out to the very best of their ability, and at the end they still don't know if they have succeeded. It is very tough but it doesn't come with a remote control. If your universe consists only of what you can explain, xris, then I daresay it is time to widen your boundaries a bit.
Attempting to understand is a problem for you? Understanding a god is problem for those who accept its existance,it will be a problem in my mind if he has been decribed by others.You are not searching for god, you are spending time understanding the description others have given you.If they have excluded such questions they will become impossible.Dont be so superior in believing i have not had my share of examination.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 06:22 am
@Khethil,
Quote:
The universe will expose itself to anyone who chooses to look


We all look, but what do we see?
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 06:26 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;82740 wrote:
We all look, but what do we see?
The universe:perplexed: sorry but you see the universe ,what deep thoughts it provokes, is in the mind of the observer,not in the universe.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 07:16 am
@jeeprs,
xris;82700 wrote:
Im finding these views a bit to common in religious debates.Its beyond our comprehension,if its beyond our understanding, then it has no value.
Faith becomes an excuse, a mystery,if you cant explain your god,a god, then it ceases to exist.
What does it look like? i dont know..What gender is it? i dont know..Is it benevolent? i dont know..Is it conscious?i dont know..If we dont know we have to design,describe, it and see if the description makes sense.


Yea, this is a bit of an issue for me too. I don't so much think I must know in any objective sense - it's a case of trying to understand the nature of this belief. For me, it's trying to grasp those who say, "Yes, I believe in God" yet can't or don't define any aspect of that belief. For many of us, we're left puzzled, trying to wrap our heads around the ideal of believing in no thing that exists (wherein "no thing" is used to describe aspects of that belief).

This isn't talking about the nature of god itself; more in trying to understand, what seems to be increasingly common, a murky sort of "I believe in something - and no, I can describe nothing about this belief". It sounds as if this is at least close to what you, Xris, is describing. Again, this has nothing to do with "what is" or "is not". It is trying to understand belief systems. Here's an example:[INDENT]Bill: "Blearg is my God, I believe in Blearg"
Sal: "What is Blearg?"

Bill: "Blearg is my God"
Sal: "Can you describe what you believe Blearg to be?"

Bill: "No, but I believe in it"

Sal: "Is Blearg a person, place, thing, being or some other entity?"
Bill: "I don't claim to know what Blearg is"

Sal: "I understand, but what is it about your belief in Blearg that makes Blearg, Blearg"
Bill: "The cosmos doesn't reveal its truths to me; how should I know?"

Sal: "Do you believe Blearg to be our, and the universe's, creator?"
Bill: "I don't know"

Sal: "I'm not asking what you know, I'm curious about your belief"
Bill: "What, you don't think my belief could be based on any knowledge?"

Sal: "I'm not sure, that's what I'm trying to understand"
Bill: "So what's your question?"
[/INDENT]Sal is left trying to figure out just what_it_is that Bill believes. There's something there, in that belief, but there is no aspect about it which carries any conceptual substance for Sal to latch on to. In this case, what Bill believes in is... really... nothing; for there's no concept in which to set it apart from anything else.

Then there's the "Why can't I call my Dog a Mountain?"-problem[INDENT] Sal: "Do you believe in God?"
Bill: "Yes, I do"

Sal: "What do you believe god to be?"
Bill: "God is life"

Sal: "Isn't life, life? - I mean, what sets God apart from life?"
Bill: "God is life"

Sal: "My head hurts, do you have an aspirin?"
[/INDENT]My guess is that for each person who is a Deist, and believes in some kind of god, that there is some thought or concept that they hold as defining that god, in their minds. When I, as an atheist learning about the human condition through understanding various belief systems, ask "what is it you believe", many of these types of exchanges ostensibly tell me this person may actually be an atheist since there's no thing (at least that I can pry out) - no concept, no whim or clarifying ideal that sets this ideal of god off as existing within that belief set.

Thus, I come back to my original question: An honest question that asks the believer to share what their concept is: What is the nature of your belief in god? What do you believe your god to be? If you believe god to be our creator, what does he/she/it/they do - if anything - in when not 'creating'? Teach us about your slice of humanity by sharing your concepts... that sort of thing. [INDENT]I'm not going to dispute you nor ask you to justify your basis nor will I try and make you feel silly for sharing such a personal part of yourself. This is an open-ended question that simply pleads for understanding "just what it is that you believe".
[/INDENT].... I just want to understand where you, as a unique person, are coming from.

Thanks - and sorry for the length of this.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 10:40 am
@Khethil,
"Thus, I come back to my original question: An honest question that asks the believer to share what their concept is: What is the nature of your belief in god? What do you believe your god to be? If you believe god to be our creator, what does he/she/it/they do - if anything - in when not 'creating'? Teach us about your slice of humanity by sharing your concepts... that sort of thing.I'm not going to dispute you nor ask you to justify your basis nor will I try and make you feel silly for sharing such a personal part of yourself. This is an open-ended question that simply pleads for understanding "just what it is that you believe"......Khethil

so you changed your mind from the beginning of this thread? this seems to be a much more direct and simple question than the OP. however, are you still directing it at Deists, those who believe in God as a god? or anyone who believes in a 'higher power' a la AA or any other concept that could be called divinity? or do you want to know specifically if anyone believes in anything other than the physical world they can sense and what it is, i.e. angels, pixies, etc? the problem also is that even though this is a philosophy forum, some people consider their concept of these things to be a personal and private matter. you may have a bit of difficulty in getting as many answers as you would like.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 03:42 pm
@Khethil,
Where I am coming from is 'spriritual experiences'. People do have them. A classic on it is 'Varieties of Religious Experience' by William James, although I haven't read it for years. Another is Cosmic Consciousness by R.M. Bucke - this is a classic and I really do recommend it. It provides a perfectly believable account of the state of 'God-realisation' which is also something that definitely occurs. Ramana Maharishi was a God realised being, of that I have not a shadow of doubt. There are plenty of books of his about. I gave various titles of books by Watts and Suzuki above which are pretty well standard works in my outlook on life.

As for me, I studied Comparitive Religion. My Honours Thesis was the influence of Emerson, Bucke and Transcendentalism in the American religious outlook. I have had numinous experiences via ethnogens. I have been on several 10-day meditation retreats and have been practising Buddhist meditaton for about 30 years. It certainly has affected my outlook on life, very positively, but it is an ongoing path. As I said before, I am not 'an enlightened being'. But I have had enlightenment experiences, if you like, although I sometimes think 'experience' is a misleading word. But they are unmistakable.

When it comes to saying exactly how or what this is, it is not something that can be explained. It is very simple, but it is pre-verbal, it doesn't occur on the level of the 'word-processing facility'. If it is real it is something you perceive on the level of your heart or maybe your soul. Actually the whole enterprise is one of soul-making. You may not understand that, or think that I am speaking figuratively, but I am not.

As for Deity, I don't believe in God, not in the way that most believers and their opponents do. I feel that most believers believe in something very close to Jupiter (which is actually derived from Dyaus=sky Pitar=father) which is also what most atheists deny. Old Man In Sky. But that's OK that they believe that. Many people need to believe in somethng, and I am not going to challenge them about it.

Two things: reality is not something 'in your head'. This is not true at all. Your consciousness exists in your entire body right down to your toes.

Second - 'sceptics' who want a rational or meaningful account of religion/spirituality are never going to get it. You can't sit on the sidelines and figure out this stuff and then work out which parts you want. You are not in the driver seat when it comes to all this. It requires your effort and attention, for sure, but as it goes along, things happen, and your outlook changes. When your outlook changes, you see things a different way. If you ask me, 'well how exactly', I can't tell you. It's that Louis Armstrong story:

Reporter: "Louis, what is jazz?"

Louis Armstrong: "Lady, if you have to ask me, I can't tell you".
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 12:20 am
@Khethil,
God is the source of the continous creative advance of the universe.
In the simplest of all possible terms my conception of God is
order from chaos, forward into complexility, life, mind, aesthetics and value.

It is not in my nature to see the universe as a blind purposeless machine in which life and mind developed as accidental and chance occurences without ultimate purpose or meaning. I view the universe as alive and enchanted and God as persuasive but not coercive (not omnipotent).

God struggles and suffers with his creation persistently, patiently and persuasively pursing the universe forward in the process of creating actuality form potentiality. Essentially the view of process theology (becoming not being) Whitehead and Hartshorne.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 07:03 am
@salima,
salima;82795 wrote:
... so you changed your mind from the beginning of this thread?...


No, Follow the thread.

Initially this thread asks about the nature of deist belief; specifically, what the creator might have been up to prior to setting work to building stuffs. As we ferret out the issues, we come to more questions along slightly different, but related concepts. Down that bumpy road we go...

And no, I'm not looking for people to answer my own questions - I like to hear what they believe, what they feel. It helps me to understand more fully the diversity of humanity since I don't have a deistic belief.

Thanks

---------- Post added 08-13-2009 at 08:05 AM ----------

jeeprs;82846 wrote:
As for Deity, I don't believe in God, not in the way that most believers and their opponents do. I feel that most believers believe in something very close to Jupiter (which is actually derived from Dyaus=sky Pitar=father)...


Awesome - thanks again Jeeprs
0 Replies
 
xris
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 07:22 am
@prothero,
I am a reluctant agnostic,i have been a baptist and a true believer but eventually, reality kicked in an by reason i rejected the god they told me was benevolent.Now i have on occassions found foot prints of a creator, but as he appears to have left the beach, my quest for him has always been fruitless.I believe,by experience, that we have a soul but that does not give me any reason to suppose a god.I have never found anyone who claims to have found a creator, able to describe it.Now call me fussy but if you cant describe it, you aint seen it.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 01:10 pm
@Khethil,
But one believes in all sorts of things that one can neither adequately describe nor measure. Love, Beauty, Truth, Goodness, etc. Furthermore these are the beliefs which hold value, for which one is willing to struggle and fight.
Most of us live believing in free will, in agency, in the existence of an external reality; all things which can neither be proven nor disproven and certainly not measured.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 01:58 am
@Khethil,
I understand that, agnostic is not a bad place to be. I am also in many ways. But I hope I have showed that there are perspectives on the question other than whether 'god exists' - which is really beyond argument, one way or the other.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 14 Aug, 2009 06:53 am
@xris,
xris;82951 wrote:
I am a reluctant agnostic,i have been a baptist and a true believer but eventually, reality kicked in an by reason i rejected the god they told me was benevolent.Now i have on occassions found foot prints of a creator, but as he appears to have left the beach, my quest for him has always been fruitless.I believe,by experience, that we have a soul but that does not give me any reason to suppose a god.I have never found anyone who claims to have found a creator, able to describe it.Now call me fussy but if you cant describe it, you aint seen it.


Xris,

Yea I hear ya and can definitely identify. I kind of came to that place a while ago and feel like I've gone through several 'phases' towards my own understanding that places value in peoples beliefs. It almost doesn't matter whether anything is true, right or real - many truths for me (or what I can realistically call truths) about the nature of my existence come from understanding people - and their thoughts. ... thus questions like this thread.

All: Standing in judgment of someone's ideals or beliefs is puerile, fruitless and - by the way - doesn't help to further anything akin to cooperation and harmony. I worry - nay, I'm ashamed - of so many of my fellow atheist's who spend SO much time refuting... as if such a thing could be 'won', as if purposeless argument was a good way to spend our most limited resource; time. [INDENT]There's something to be gained from viewing these beliefs, as beliefs; almost as if we - by couching it so - 'allow' others to feel and think as they want (as if we could change that anyway). Once so framed, it enables us to talk freely - without undue polemics - about our innermost beliefs, unsubstantiated or not. If I can catch a sliver of what I'm hoping for, throughout this, I gain some insight and perhaps some good conversation too.
[/INDENT]So yea, I appreciate people sharing here; and I sincerely hope that in some small way the potential for the civil discussion of beliefs, in a non-judgmental context, has been realized, revived or otherwise acknowledged.

Thanks
0 Replies
 
Pathfinder
 
  1  
Reply Sat 15 Aug, 2009 02:38 am
@Khethil,
I agree Klethil. There is merit in understanding, courtesy and compassion. There is much to be learned about the spiritual aspects of humankind in what motivates them beyond mere survival.

I think what you intentionally set out to discover with your original question was the thinking around how a BEING of such staggering power could simply exist in the void that should have been its only place of existence if it had not yet created anything.

Which once pondered over should also bring one to consider that such dilemma only leads to evidence that there must be more to it than that. I have been involved with chicken before the egg threads in here many times. They usually always end in stalemate with people refusing to look that deeply into your question.

To answer your question the way you wanted it answered one would have to consider the exact millisecond of creation, and in so doing come to understand that such an event just doesn't make sense in the physical environment with which we are familiar.

The question is an oxymoron, which you knew when you posted it. I think your observations are astute.

---------- Post added 08-15-2009 at 04:06 AM ----------

If we can continue to remind ourselves that what we perceive through brain function is more related to preconditioning and individual perception than it is to reality, we will find that actual intelligent thinking will be done with our minds, instead of our brains. This is the key to 'enlightenment' as I understand it.

The initial processes of perception are done through a physical mass of tissue that fires involuntarily in reaction to our surrounding stimuli. (First Impressions)

How we choose to process the information from the way that our brains electrical impulses have offered it to us, is what leads us to either natural or unnatural deviations of thought process. (Option to use the mind instead of the brain)

If we had never encountered another human, and when the shadow of a human being is the only thing that we have ever seen of its presence, the organ we call our brain will tell us that the shadow we see is the presence of that human, until such a time as our brain can experience the difference by seeing the actual body instead of the shadow. That is the natural methodology of the brain.

The unnatural aspect of it is what we call the mind, which begs to ask through curiosity what else might be there, in direct conflict with what the brain is telling us.

If the brain is the room of the thought process, the mind is the hotel of unnatural thinking. Logic and knowledge will not be discovered by sitting in one room alone. Being bound to one room of the world around us will only reveal the shadows of the truth standing between us and the light around the corner.

Those who insist on looking only at the shadow make up most of the population, while those who have looked around the corner, despite what their brains are telling them, have become enlightened in ways that the others cannot understand.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 16 Aug, 2009 09:33 pm
@Pathfinder,
Pathfinder;83402 wrote:
How we choose to process the information from the way that our brains electrical impulses have offered it to us, is what leads us to either natural or unnatural deviations of thought process. (Option to use the mind instead of the brain)


QUESTION: who or what chooses? Who is this 'we' that is being 'offered' something, and what is doing the offering?

I am familiar with mind/body dualism, but isn't this mind/brain dualism? How would that work?
0 Replies
 
Pathfinder
 
  1  
Reply Mon 17 Aug, 2009 05:16 am
@Khethil,
The brain is the body!

---------- Post added 08-17-2009 at 06:28 AM ----------

jeeprs;83689 wrote:
QUESTION: who or what chooses? Who is this 'we' that is being 'offered' something, and what is doing the offering?

I am familiar with mind/body dualism, but isn't this mind/brain dualism? How would that work?



Jeeprs, the question you ask, and the fact that you even ask it is exactly what we are talking about.

The fact that you are pinpointing the identity of the 'WE' aspect of a human that does the mindwork over and above the normal routine of the brain, reveals a mind doing exactly what we are discussing. Otherwise your brain would simply tell you that you are nothing more than the physical mass of molecular design that it controls. To even question the brain's influence means that the mind is being used separately.
0 Replies
 
 

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