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What is the nature of the divine?

 
 
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 03:24 pm
What is the nature of the divine?

How do you conceive of the divine?
Is the divine a rational agent?
Is the divine a moral agent?
Is the divine merely an agent of existence say "the ground of all being" or the "essence of existence"?
Is the divine a "personal god"?

Are God, Allah and Brahman all the same deity or concept?
How does the divine act in the world?
How does the divine reveal itself in the world?
Is the world the divine potential actualizing itself and becoming self aware?
Is there a divine striving in the world for higher levels of order, complexity, life, mind, values, aesthetics and experience?
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Arjuna
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 05:11 pm
@prothero,
What's for sure, prothero, is that you can always be counted on to ask the most fascinating, opening doors to pathways that intertwine round and through the landscape of human experience, wow kind of questions. You're so cool. I think divinity is a word that refers to a part of human experience. So people can ascend the hill with their rational swords held high... the real question is, can you put the sword down and actually relate to what another person is referring to as divine? So I think the best way to approach the topic is with stories or parables... illustrations and poetry.

It's funny how you can describe completely rationally something that happened.. but if you describe it in a poem, somehow the truth, a truth is conveyed more accurately than in the robot version of the story.

I'm reading an essay by Heidegger about that. But anyway... do you have a story that would point to something in your experience that one would call "experience with the divine?"
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 10:18 pm
@prothero,
All talk of the divine is of course speculation and perhaps not even rational speculation. Non the less concepts concerning the nature of the divine and divine action in the world seem to qualify under the topic of philosophy of religion.

Most religion is man musing about the gods. For me god does not reveal himself through prophets or angels but through nature and the world. The universe is god's creation. Sacred scripture is mans creation. Man is part of creation not the purpose of creation.

Now there is a very real sense in which the speculations of man about god will always be inadequate. If there is a god, god must be transcendent beyond the ability of human thought, language and conceptions to adequately convey. God will always be seen "through a glass darkly". One could take the path of the via negativa (neti, neti not this, not that) but that is not the western way.

There are many paths to the divine. Which path one follows is dependent upon ones innate temperament and inclination. For me the divine is expressed in nature and in art. I sense the divine on the side of a mountain, diving in the deep blue of the ocean, listening to music, gazing at art and also in the great cathedrals dedicated to the glory of god through the inspiration of man. We are surrounded by the divine, immersed in the divine, nearer than our breath.

I am a panentheist (all in god). My theology is one of almost complete immanence so the divine is present throughout the world. Just one theological step removed from pantheism (god equals nature). For a panetheist god is present throughout the world but also has transcendent properties such as will, reason and values.

For me the divine dwells within the world and acts through nature and natural law. I am not a supernatural theist. When you look at the world you are looking at the divine. When you experience the world you are experiencing the divine.
The relationship between god and the world would be analogous or similar to the relationship between your mind and your body. The divine would be the seat of the unified experience of the world who takes in all the suffering, all the joy of all the creatures.

I believe the divine is a rational agent accounting for the order and the logical intelligibility of the world and the ability to express natural law in mathematical form.

I believe the divine strives for higher levels of order complexity, life, mind, and experience accounting for the self organizing properties of nature and the endless creativity and novelty of the world.

When I look at the world, I do not see a universe primarily of matter inert and insensate. Instead I see a universe alive and enchanted, striving against the forces of chaos toward creativity, novelty and experience. Because I am a panpsychist for me the world is full of experiencing entities, societies and organisms. Because I have a process view the ultimate reality is one of becoming, change and flux not of machine like mechanistic determinism.

Reality is monistic (process (events) but dipolar in presentation (mental and material). God is likewise dipolar (the realm of possibility (gods primordial nature) and the realm of actuality (gods consequent nature). God is the chief example of the metaphysical principle of becoming not its chief exception.

The "divine dwells within" within your mind, within the world. The divine patiently, persistently, lovingly and persuasively urges the world forward in a never ending process of creative advance. The divine is not a tyrant, the divine is not a judge, the divine dwells upon the tender elements of the world.
manfred
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 11:57 pm
@prothero,
The nature of the divine is when a person for whatever reason is awakened,ironically this awaking is nothing more that an epiphany that the architect has just realised about its own existance.This is just my opinion,but i highly doubt "god"even knows its own origins,and that's where we come in.We are extensions of the architect for the soul(no pun intended) purpose of exhausted every thought conceivable,therefore assuring this never ending question of "all that was,is or will be"can continue to go unanswered.I mean where do you go from perfection,but more importantly,why would you want this in the first place?
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 12:33 am
@prothero,
prothero;96776 wrote:
Is the world the divine potential actualizing itself and becoming self aware?


I believe that is true. I believe it is the telos behind evolution. (Heresy to modernists, I know.) However we place many barriers in front of ourselves against realising the true nature of our existence. The nature of illusion is not complicated, but it is very deep. This of course is represented in the myths of the Fall, as has been discussed elsewhere (and also in books such as Alan Watts The Book: On the Taboo against Knowing Who you Are.)

Hence the purpose of the spiritual life (praxis, theosis, sadhana) is to inwardly realise the True Nature. This is depicted in various ways in different traditions. However the best verse on it is simply "Be still and know [that I am God]".

Insofar as beings awaken to this reality, they are actually fulfilling the telos of evolution. Perhaps not many are ready to hear it, but I believe it is a basic truth and why those who awaken to it discover such an inexhaustible source of wisdom-energy. Actually it doesn't even have to be particularly 'religious'. It is a perfectly natural development, when the time has come.

And to those who know - more strength to them!
0 Replies
 
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 02:08 am
@prothero,
Well here is my idea of the divine, Eternal, Infinite, Inscrutable, Omniscient, Omnipotent Omnipresent

That which always was, that which always is that which always will be

God is above and beyond human attributes

God simply

"IS"
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 03:00 am
@prothero,
If God simply IS, then what does it mean to struggling humans?

The Christian would say that God has chosen to appear as man in the form of Christ, so as to give us some indication of the divine nature, and has been revealed in the Bible. Independent of that, how can you come to such a conclusion? (I'm not saying you haven't but am curious about it.)
Alan McDougall
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 03:38 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;97838 wrote:
If God simply IS, then what does it mean to struggling humans?

The Christian would say that God has chosen to appear as man in the form of Christ, so as to give us some indication of the divine nature, and has been revealed in the Bible. Independent of that, how can you come to such a conclusion? (I'm not saying you haven't but am curious about it.)


While God is inscrutable to us, we are open books to God, and yes Jesus is the expression of God in human form!
0 Replies
 
manfred
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 07:44 am
@Alan McDougall,
Alan McDougall;97834 wrote:
Well here is my idea of the divine, Eternal, Infinite, Inscrutable, Omniscient, Omnipotent Omnipresent

That which always was, that which always is that which always will be

God is above and beyond human attributes

God simply

"IS"


Even though our Creator is further up the food chain, as far as understanding is concerned,there is still a universal question even the lord hasn't built an immunity to.Who created the Creator?You can not in good conscious attribute such an insidious answer as"IS"to something as complicated as creation just because (you) yourself haven't found the one variable that will help solve this equation.Im not attacking you,and im not disagreeing with you,all im saying is this "GOD SIMPLY IS"answer is an insult to the lord itself.Please dont take that the wrong way.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 02:56 pm
@prothero,
There is an ancient idea in theology which insists that the Deity is the unmoved mover, the uncreated creator, simple and not composed of parts, outside of time and quite beyond existence. As expressed in the Stanford Encyclopedia:

Quote:
According to the classical theism of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and their adherents, God is radically unlike creatures in that he is devoid of any complexity or composition, whether physical or metaphysical. Besides lacking spatial and temporal parts, God is free of matter/form composition, potency/act composition, and existence/essence composition. There is also no real distinction between God as subject of his attributes and his attributes. God is thus in a sense requiring clarification identical to each of his attributes, which implies that each attribute is identical to every other one. God is omniscient, then, not in virtue of instantiating or exemplifying omniscience - which would imply a real distinction between God and the property of omniscience - but by being omniscience. And the same holds for each of the divine omni-attributes: God is what he has. As identical to each of his attributes, God is identical to his nature. And since his nature or essence is identical to his existence, God is identical to his existence. This is the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS). It is to be understood as an affirmation of God's absolute transcendence of creatures. God is not only radically non-anthropomorphic, but radically non-creaturomorphic, not only in respect of the properties he possesses, but in his manner of possessing them. God, we could say, differs in his very ontology from any and all created beings.


To which I suppose could be added, that God is also not created but eternal. That is why He is called 'God'. You may answer that in this case, Deity is something completely incomprehensible to the human intellect - and you would be right. (I am not advocating belief in such a Deity, just trying to show how theology says there could be 'an uncreated being')

If you have time to wade through it, there is an excellent article by British philosopher John Hick on the topic of Who or What is God which provides some great insights.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Oct, 2009 11:02 pm
@jeeprs,
[QUOTE=jeeprs;97966]To which I suppose could be added, that God is also not created but eternal. That is why He is called 'God'. You may answer that in this case, Deity is something completely incomprehensible to the human intellect .[/QUOTE]And one could declare "god, the divine, the sacred, the holy" simply transcendent beyond human thought, language and conception and in certain respects this must be right but it provides no guidance whatsoever with respect to divine nature and divine action. Neither religion nor any religious philosophy could be content with such a description. It would be of no value whatsoever in human existence and the art of living.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 03:00 am
@prothero,
well that is what I asked Alan, and I believe he answered the question.
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 03:19 am
@prothero,
I don't believe God is entirely incomprehensible, he's all around us in beauty nature and creation, I mean you can't miss it!
Thanks.

---------- Post added 10-17-2009 at 04:20 AM ----------

And the more you look and see, the closer you come to it.
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 04:24 am
@prothero,
You can't miss it, if you believe it. But if you don't believe it, there is nothing to see. That is why it is called 'faith'.
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 06:53 am
@prothero,
Like I said Jeeprs God is in Nature, within in us, if you don't believe, what are you left with, a whole lof of nothing.
0 Replies
 
manfred
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 07:28 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;98051 wrote:
You can't miss it, if you believe it. But if you don't believe it, there is nothing to see. That is why it is called 'faith'.


Faith?
I wouldn't go that far,maybe it's because im agnostic,but faith has nothing to do with my belief in the existance of an omnipresent being,it's just common sense.Nobody knows who or what god is,and only a fool will try to tell you it "is or isn't"...Agnostic 101,ignorance is our loophole to the afterlife.:letme-at-em:
0 Replies
 
Ruggedtouch
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 07:50 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;98045 wrote:
I don't believe God is entirely incomprehensible, he's all around us in beauty nature and creation, I mean you can't miss it!
Thanks.

---------- Post added 10-17-2009 at 04:20 AM ----------

And the more you look and see, the closer you come to it.

Let's examine this, shall we? And let's be consistent in our argumentation and not stumble over our assertions. Along with the beauty in nature and creation you define as made by gods, all is not beautiful. As the author of all, god is thus responsible for all.

There is really no such a things as a "natural consequence" because the root of all is the supernatural law-defining abilities of the god that cobbled it together. God doesn't cause an earthquake? Yes, he establishes the laws of plate tectonics which describe the physical characteristics of portions of the earth's crust which shifts and adjusts, and those elements together create shifting of landmasses we call earthquakes.

God doesn't cause a tornado? Yes, he establishes the laws of convection and rotation of planets, and those two elements together create swirling whirlwinds we call twisters. As the Author of All, he could have created a completely different existence-- but didn't.


Hey - thank god for the cancer cell, eh?

What we are left with is this: Evil is of God -- no way around that -- hence, God is all good and all evil at the same time and is completely self-contradictory. Your god, someone else's god(s), any god could certainly communicate directly with mankind if he/she chose to. God could snap his eternal digits, speak to everyone in a deep resonant voice in particular language, -- yet understood by all - and pronounce a cure to all illnesses, for an example. Yet, he hasn't. Further, there is no indication that any god - ever - has communicated directly with humans and that includes some 14,000 asserted gods of various flavors and persuasions.

0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 08:14 am
@prothero,
I define God in what is beautiful , I didn't say life is easy nor doesn't come without challenges, where does Lukemia come form, some scientists say from the chemicals that we have processed not God and we have polluted our grounds with.
They are training dogs to sniff out the cancer btw so that is good as we have a new weapon and some cancers can be treated early like breast cancer, now where does that come from, some scientists say from the crap we stick in our drinking water. Do you not see God in nature then or are you blind?
Thanks.

---------- Post added 10-17-2009 at 09:17 AM ----------

Yes God causes an earthquake what is wrong with that?

---------- Post added 10-17-2009 at 09:19 AM ----------

God is not evil how can it be when we are wonderful beings and Nature is wonderful, honestly I've had this discussion months ago, maybe visit my profile page and check my posts before I have to repeat myself again.
Ruggedtouch
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 08:31 am
@Caroline,
Caroline;98074 wrote:
I define God in what is beautiful , I didn't say life is easy nor doesn't come without challenges, where does Lukemia come form, some scientists say from the chemicals that we have processed not God and we have polluted our grounds with.
They are training dogs to sniff out the cancer btw so that is good as we have a new weapon and some cancers can be treated early like breast cancer, now where does that come from, some scientists say from the crap we stick in our drinking water. Do you not see God in nature then or are you blind?
Thanks.

---------- Post added 10-17-2009 at 09:17 AM ----------

Yes God causes an earthquake what is wrong with that?

---------- Post added 10-17-2009 at 09:19 AM ----------

God is not evil how can it be when we are wonderful beings and Nature is wonderful, honestly I've had this discussion months ago, maybe visit my profile page and check my posts before I have to repeat myself again.
Ignoring "acts of the gods" will not make evil go away. What we are left with is this: Evil is of God -- no way around that -- hence, God is all good and all evil at the same time and is completely self-contradictory.


Things are the way they are because God wants them precisely this way. And this includes a nasty and capricious nature which will kill people via floods and tornadoes and fires and earthquakes etc., none of which are essential to a world created by a God. He could have just as easily made it otherwise, he just didn't.

And so the next argument is, "Well, this is the way existence is!" Except that argument has no reply against: "Yes, but why does god create it "the way it is" when he just as easily could create it different?" And back to the same answer: Evil exists to make us good-- a wonder to behold!

Or-- existence is natural and things happen that are good to our perspective, or bad to our perspective, and each day we choose a path unfettered by anything but the laws of nature.
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Sat 17 Oct, 2009 08:39 am
@prothero,
No I said he's responsible for everything but what we do, please check my old posts, sigh.
Thanks.
 

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