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The philosophical conception of god in the age of reason and science.

 
 
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 09:25 pm
I submit the concept of god (western monotheism) as originally formulated by the medieval scholastics is not adequate or coherent in an age of science and reason. The traditional, orthodox or classical attributes of god were derived from a fusion of Greek philosophical notions of perfection and Hebrew conceptions of the divine.
From the Greeks we got such attributes as omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence and eternal, changeless and impassive. This was at least partially based on Plato's notions of eternal changeless forms and Aristotle and the conception of the heavens as perfect spheres in circular orbits.
From the Hebrews were derived a personal god, judge, ruler, lawgiver but also a god offering protection and seeking justice and mercy.

The underlying worldview on which this classical notion of god was founded has been dramatically altered in the age of reason and science and yet the classical conception is still the dominant portrayal of god in established western religions.

In the old world view-
- the earth was young
- The species were fixed and specially created
- The earth was the center of the universe
- Man was the crown and purpose of creation.
- The universe was 3 story, heaven, earth and underworld
- Natural events were unexplainable mysteries

In the new world view
- the earth is ancient 4.5 billion yrs and the universe 14 billion years
- species are not fixed and mass extinctions and emergence of new species occurs
- the earth is an ordinary planet around an ordinary star in no special location
- Man is just another and recent species who recently appeared and evolved from lower primates
- The universe is unimaginably vast and there is no location for heaven or hell
- Nature is perceived as operating according to fixed immutable laws and revealed religion and supernatural intervention are largely rejected.

I am interested in altered conceptions of god which do not conflict with the modern worldview. I am primarily interested in philosophical conceptions of god from people who still allow for theism as a rational possibility. Is it possible to formulate a rational philosophical conception of god which does not conflict with experience, reason and science? Remember speculations do not have to be confirmed or even confirmable by science to remain possibilities. This is god as a philosophical speculation or conception not god as a scientific hypothesis.

As a start: I will suggest that god acts through nature and natural process. That nature is inherently self organizing and that order, complexity, life, mind and experience have emerged as part of a divine purpose or divine plan. God is not all powerful but very powerful. The primary divine value is creativity, to bring value from the primordial chaos and the formless void. Creation is an ongoing process not a completed act.
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Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 09:37 pm
@prothero,
prothero;120939 wrote:
As a start: I will suggest that god acts through nature and natural process.


I am fine with this idea, however you have to incorporate all aspects of this nature as well. So both the positive and negative results of nature and it's byproducts must equally be accepted. Are you willing to accept this? Because from what you wrote you seem to have left it out. Correct me if I am wrong, but the impression I get from a majority of your posts is that you would rather reflect on the positive aspects of reality rather than the negative. You might have just the opposite impression of me, however; I like to think I am considering both despite sometimes focusing a bit more on the negative. This time I failed to avoid it as well.

So to spell it out, if god is the natural process of nature then natural disasters ARE the process or acts of god. Any objection?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 11:38 pm
@Krumple,
Krumple;120942 wrote:
So to spell it out, if god is the natural process of nature then natural disasters ARE the process or acts of god. Any objection?
Well I did leave myself an out, acutally two. One was the statement about god not being all powerful and the other was the notion that god imposes (not without struggle) order on (the formless void and primordial chaos) to create value.
It is clearly not a process without its setbacks but overall in my view (the movement is forward) whereas in your view (it is probably backward).
When one stares into the abyss one might see ones own reflection.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 11:54 pm
@prothero,
prothero;120966 wrote:
Well I did leave myself an out, acutally two. One was the statement about god not being all powerful and the other was the notion that god imposes (not without struggle) order on (the formless void and primordial chaos) to create value.
It is clearly not a process without its setbacks but overall in my view (the movement is forward) whereas in your view (it is probably backward).
When one stares into the abyss one might see ones own reflection.


Alright, I think I'm reading this to mean that you say natural disasters are not the work of god, but god would still be the work of nature? You have absolutely no problem with that? Can't help but scratch my head here.

Wouldn't this be like throwing a rock at someone and it injures them, but you make the claim that it was the rock that caused the actual damage and not the thrower. So blame the rock instead and you have no problem with that?

Here we go. God fabricates the vertical threshold of dirt to be that of what it currently is. Why craft something that has as it's potential to cause harm if you could have designed it to not? Landslides happen, and they sometimes result in death or injury. If god was the natural order of nature, why design yourself this way? Is it that god enjoys burying people in mudslides?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 12:21 am
@Krumple,
[QUOTE=Krumple;120971 ]Alright, I think I'm reading this to mean that you say natural disasters are not the work of god, but god would still be the work of nature? You have absolutely no problem with that? Can't help but scratch my head here. [/QUOTE]
I do not expect to convince or have you agree with me. I only wish to have you understand what I am trying to say and perhaps to improve my ability to communicate it to you.
God is not nature in this view. That would be pantheism. God works within nature and not coercively (all powerful) but persuasively (divine influence and the offering forth of possibilities for the creation of value.


[QUOTE=Krumple;120971] Why craft something that has as it's potential to cause harm if you could have designed it to not? Landslides happen, and they sometimes result in death or injury. If god was the natural order of nature, why design yourself this way? Is it that god enjoys burying people in mudslides? [/QUOTE] The universe was not created ex nihilo (from nothing) in this view, so God did not craft the universe from nothing. I suppose you could use the analogy a builder has to use the available material. The universe without god would still be formless void (primordial chaos). The universe and the creatures and actualities in it still have their own power. To be an actuality it is necessary to have independent power. Everything that happens is not part of the divine plan or divine influence. The notion would be that without divine influence or divine persuasion everything would still be formless void and primordial chaos. The notion would be that god is the reason there is any order, complexity, life, mind, experience, value or aesthetic. That without god all would be void and chaos, a universe of true purposeless blind pitiless indifference not the one we know and experience.
Mind you man is not the purpose of creation in these views and these views are a bit indifferent to human morals. The divine purpose is creation of value, not the creation of man and not human morality.
xris
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 05:52 am
@prothero,
My real problem with this new attempt at conceiving of god is the idea that he less powerful than we first imagined. How much less is he? is it beyond his ability to converse with his creation at any level? Is he a contemplative god, is he aware of the consequences of his creation?

This limiting and the idea of inability troubles me. Sorry its no more logical than any of the old gods of yore. He still remains inscrutable, unknown in my opinion. Why in fact do we need a god, surely we can have spirituality heaven, creation and all the other things that appear possible but get dismissed because the creator is beyond comprehension.WHY? His continued necessity is denying spiritual advancement.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 07:34 am
@prothero,
prothero;120975 wrote:

I do not expect to convince or have you agree with me. I only wish to have you understand what I am trying to say and perhaps to improve my ability to communicate it to you.


Alright, I didn't think I was that hard to communicate with but I guess I should acknowledge your patience.

prothero;120975 wrote:

God is not nature in this view. That would be pantheism. God works within nature and not coercively (all powerful) but persuasively (divine influence and the offering forth of possibilities for the creation of value.


I might need an example of this. I think I understand what you are saying, but I can't make the connection in my experience to back this statement up. I mean it sounds like you are saying, that god gives the value of things that I experience, even though I thought it was I who did that. Correct me here...

prothero;120975 wrote:

The universe was not created ex nihilo (from nothing) in this view, so God did not craft the universe from nothing. I suppose you could use the analogy a builder has to use the available material. The universe without god would still be formless void (primordial chaos).


Here is another concept that doesn't make any sense to me. Formless void, is by it's very definition NOT chaotic. So why keep referring to it as being chaos? How can a formless void be chaotic? That would be like calling the color solid black too busy.

prothero;120975 wrote:

The universe and the creatures and actualities in it still have their own power. To be an actuality it is necessary to have independent power. Everything that happens is not part of the divine plan or divine influence.


See here is another part that you confuse me. A few statements ago you say that god does exercise divine influence:

[/COLOR]
prothero;120975 wrote:

God works within nature and not coercively (all powerful) but persuasively (divine influence and the offering forth of possibilities for the creation of value.


Then you say:

prothero;120975 wrote:

Everything that happens is not part of the divine plan or divine influence.


*shrug*

prothero;120975 wrote:

The notion would be that without divine influence or divine persuasion everything would still be formless void and primordial chaos.


It bears repeating, that formless void can not be chaotic. It would have to have some kind of form to be chaotic. It would be like playing my IPod over the loud speaker at work but having the volume set to zero and calling that chaotic.

prothero;120975 wrote:

The notion would be that god is the reason there is any order, complexity, life, mind, experience, value or aesthetic. That without god all would be void and chaos, a universe of true purposeless blind pitiless indifference not the one we know and experience.


The funny thing here is that, in my opinion the universe is not orderly or complex. I see the universe as nothing other than chaos, the only thing that makes it appear as though it has some sort of structured order is that we are experiencing reality TOO slowly in terms of cosmic changes. To put it another way. You fill a balloon full of water and you poke it with a needle in slow motion. So slow that the balloon completely unwraps but the water is held in place. A person looking at that water would see something amazing and think how can it do that? Seeing a type of order happening when in reality it is influenced by other forces that are slowly acting upon that water ultimately changing it, but too slow to notice. Imagine this even slower where you can't really detect any actual movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weO-n_uczJk

prothero;120975 wrote:

Mind you man is not the purpose of creation in these views and these views are a bit indifferent to human morals. The divine purpose is creation of value, not the creation of man and not human morality.


Well I always thought value was subjective and if god is supposedly handing me values then I probably do not agree with god's assertion.
0 Replies
 
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 03:43 pm
@prothero,
prothero;120939 wrote:
... I am interested in altered conceptions of god which do not conflict with the modern worldview. I am primarily interested in philosophical conceptions of god from people who still allow for theism as a rational possibility. Is it possible to formulate a rational philosophical conception of god which does not conflict with experience, reason and science? Remember speculations do not have to be confirmed or even confirmable by science to remain possibilities. This is god as a philosophical speculation or conception not god as a scientific hypothesis.

As a start: I will suggest that god acts through nature and natural process. That nature is inherently self organizing and that order, complexity, life, mind and experience have emerged as part of a divine purpose or divine plan. God is not all powerful but very powerful. The primary divine value is creativity, to bring value from the primordial chaos and the formless void. Creation is an ongoing process not a completed act.



What is the function of this god you are imagining? If it is something that could never conflict with actual experience, what, if anything, are you really talking about? And if it is relevant to actual experience, then it is subject to scientific examination, just like every other experience.

I am reminded of an article about the concept of God being continually diluted until it has no content at all. See:

Antony Flew "Theology and Falsification," 1950

It seems to me that people want to hang onto a notion, even though they find that they cannot accept it as it was originally, as they recognize it as false in its original form. And they even want to hang onto it when it does no "work" and serves no function, beyond making them feel better, because they get to hang onto some small portion of their former ideas. In this case, the small portion appears to be linguistic only, and there does not appear to be any actual thing that remains of it beyond mere words.
prothero
 
  2  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 12:09 am
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;121105 wrote:
It seems to me that people want to hang onto a notion, even though they find that they cannot accept it as it was originally, as they recognize it as false in its original form. And they even want to hang onto it when it does no "work" and serves no function, beyond making them feel better, because they get to hang onto some small portion of their former ideas. In this case, the small portion appears to be linguistic only, and there does not appear to be any actual thing that remains of it beyond mere words.

As one stares out into the vastness and the beauty of space and as one explores the beauty, elegance and mystery of life here on earth, it is only natural to contemplate, Where it all comes from and what it all means?

I just am not able to view our planet and the universe as the result of blind pitiless indifferent and ultimately purposeless forces. For others that notion is apparently no problem. Maybe I have the god gene and some others do not. That view just does not work for me. With me it is an inner conviction that the universe as a purposeless deterministic machine is not true. I am only being true to my nature. It is not like all the smart educated people are atheists and can see the truth while theists are just deluding themselves.

I am well versed and well educated in the sciences. Science as a method just does not tell you whether you have free will or not, whether there is a god or not, whether evolution is a process with some underlying striving or goal. Science does give us some very reliable information about our world and allows us to apply our rationality to predict and control the material aspects of our environment.

But I do not see that science demonstrates the universe has no purpose, no god, that matter is the fundamental constituent of reality, that free will is an illusion or that the universe is best considered as a mechanistic deterministic machine. All these assumptions are metaphysical or philosophical speculations. It is true they do not conflict with science but they are not confirmed by it either. They as a grouping are the most common worldview underlying an atheist philosophy.

My problem is I do not see it that way. I also do not think the orthodox classical supernatural anthropomorphic vision of god from the Middle Ages derived by the medieval scholastics fits the changes in our worldview and our knowledge of the world since that time. I am faced with the problem of formulating a vision of divine nature and divine action which does not conflict with science and reason even if it is not confirmed by them.

Of course, I am not the only person confronted by this problem, virtually all well educated religious theists have the same problem and the concept of god is changing in twentieth century religious philosophy. The most promising of these new visions in my view is the vision of process theology which derives from the process philosophy view of reality. Now if there is a god, no human conception or linguistic description will prove to be adequate or comprehensive and many just accept god as ineffable mystery, the ground of all being, the essence of existence and the world as an emanation of spirit or as a manifestation of the divine and leave it at that. That language is fine. I just personally in following my inclinations look for a little more extensive description or a more extensive version of the concept to grasp. My quest is intellectual others are just happy with the rituals and practice of a particular religion plus mysticism.

Half the discussions in the forum end up having a religious component
God and the origins of the universe
God and evil
God and free will
God and morality
Most of the people arguing against god use the medieval scholastic vision of an omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, changeless, supernatural and anthropomorphic god. My suggestion is there are other conceptions of god which are not in conflict with science which are gaining traction in the religious community.
Why does god have to be omnipotent?
Why would god need to know the future in all its details, or even want to?
Why do we have to think the universe was created ex nihilo, by an all powerful deity who then in some way must be responsible for evil and suffering?
Why do we think god has these kinds of human attributes at all?
Religious conceptions of god are in transition, if fact I think it is change or die time for religion. However, since religion is a constant feature of all cultures present and past, I think religion will make the transition albeit when an altered conception of god and an altered explanation of our religious symbols, practices and rituals.
The blind pitiless indifference view does not inspire and does not attract.


My suggestion to theists and atheists alike is to expand your thinking about possible (not necessarily actual or provable) conceptions of the divine. Is not that what philosophy of religion is? about exploring and considering a variety of ideas about the nature of the divine and how the divine might act in the world. Philosophy is rational speculation about possibilities or possible explanations. Philosophy of Religion is rational speculation about god. Does a true philosophical text confine itself to the supernatural anthropomorphic Greek perfection vision of the divine? Should a philosophy forum do so? Do you really think love, truth, goodness, beauty, and god are scientific concepts? Things which can be adequately explained in purely material objective terms?

In modern theology god has moved from his supernatural transcendent position in the heavens to an immanence (indwelling) within nature and working through natural process. In some of these discussions about god and the world, religion and science, it is more useful to use the concept of the god of philosophers; not the god of revealed religion. The conversations are constricted and non production when they are confined to the classical conception of god. The classical conception of god is not compatible with science, reason or experience in the modern world. If you want a modern philosophical discussion about science and religion use modern philosophical conceptions of god.

Oh and is a god who brings order, complexity, life, mind and experience from the formless void and primordial chaos, really all that useless, just because creation was a process not an event, and that god was not omnipotent? Which one of us is hung up on ancient concepts? Atheists or modern religious philosophers? Who insists that god must be the supernatural anthropomorphic god of classical theology or no god at all? Not process theologists.
Amperage
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 01:10 am
@prothero,
prothero;121151 wrote:
The classical conception of god is not compatible with science, reason or experience in the modern world.
I'm pretty sure I've seen you say this before and I have to ask, why? In what way?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 02:35 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;121156 wrote:
I'm pretty sure I've seen you say this before and I have to ask, why? In what way?

In the OP I listed some of the major changes between the dominant older world view the the dominant modern world view. Just on the face of it the changes in worldview would seem to call for a new or revised conception of god from that of the medieval scholastic vision.

Perhaps 90% of all species that have ever lived are extinct. There have been major extinction events (several) on the planet in which 70% or more of life forms have been wiped out. The mass slaughter of WWI and the extermination camps of WWII and other countries and those are just the opening challenges.

The vision of an omnipotent god who can intervene in history and the universe, of a personal god who saves the faithful and punishes the wicked just is not coherent in the modern age. Now faith is a personal matter and if somehow you can make the classical image of god cohere with the rest of your worldview my apologies to you. For me it cant be done but neither do I accept the notion of a blind indifferent purposeless pitiless universe. So I am on a quest to explore other visions of the divine and for me process theology and process philosophy fit well.
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 02:45 pm
@prothero,
prothero;121317 wrote:
but neither do I accept the notion of a blind indifferent purposeless pitiless universe. So I am on a quest to explore other visions of the divine and for me process theology and process philosophy fit well.


Why can't you accept it? Look at a flea, you think it has a great purpose? Why would we be any different? Maybe you don't like being equal to everything else, fleas included. I don't see myself very different than all the other types of living organisms on this planet. There is really only one tiny difference, I have the ability to use reasoning. It is probably the biggest curse and the best ability. Is a universe that had as it's result, life, really that pitiless?
0 Replies
 
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 02:59 pm
@prothero,
prothero;121151 wrote:
As one stares out into the vastness and the beauty of space and as one explores the beauty, elegance and mystery of life here on earth, it is only natural to contemplate, Where it all comes from and what it all means?

I just am not able to view our planet and the universe as the result of blind pitiless indifferent and ultimately purposeless forces. For others that notion is apparently no problem. Maybe I have the god gene and some others do not. That view just does not work for me. With me it is an inner conviction that the universe as a purposeless deterministic machine is not true. I am only being true to my nature. It is not like all the smart educated people are atheists and can see the truth while theists are just deluding themselves.



In other words, when thinking about the universe, you have an emotional reaction and judge according to that.


prothero;121151 wrote:

I am well versed and well educated in the sciences. Science as a method just does not tell you whether you have free will or not, whether there is a god or not, whether evolution is a process with some underlying striving or goal. Science does give us some very reliable information about our world and allows us to apply our rationality to predict and control the material aspects of our environment.

But I do not see that science demonstrates the universe has no purpose, no god, that matter is the fundamental constituent of reality, that free will is an illusion or that the universe is best considered as a mechanistic deterministic machine. All these assumptions are metaphysical or philosophical speculations. It is true they do not conflict with science but they are not confirmed by it either. They as a grouping are the most common worldview underlying an atheist philosophy.

My problem is I do not see it that way. I also do not think the orthodox classical supernatural anthropomorphic vision of god from the Middle Ages derived by the medieval scholastics fits the changes in our worldview and our knowledge of the world since that time. I am faced with the problem of formulating a vision of divine nature and divine action which does not conflict with science and reason even if it is not confirmed by them.

Of course, I am not the only person confronted by this problem, virtually all well educated religious theists have the same problem and the concept of god is changing in twentieth century religious philosophy. The most promising of these new visions in my view is the vision of process theology which derives from the process philosophy view of reality. Now if there is a god, no human conception or linguistic description will prove to be adequate or comprehensive and many just accept god as ineffable mystery, the ground of all being, the essence of existence and the world as an emanation of spirit or as a manifestation of the divine and leave it at that. That language is fine. I just personally in following my inclinations look for a little more extensive description or a more extensive version of the concept to grasp. My quest is intellectual others are just happy with the rituals and practice of a particular religion plus mysticism.

Half the discussions in the forum end up having a religious component
God and the origins of the universe
God and evil
God and free will
God and morality
Most of the people arguing against god use the medieval scholastic vision of an omnipotent, omniscient, immutable, eternal, changeless, supernatural and anthropomorphic god. My suggestion is there are other conceptions of god which are not in conflict with science which are gaining traction in the religious community.
Why does god have to be omnipotent?
Why would god need to know the future in all its details, or even want to?
Why do we have to think the universe was created ex nihilo, by an all powerful deity who then in some way must be responsible for evil and suffering?
Why do we think god has these kinds of human attributes at all?
Religious conceptions of god are in transition, if fact I think it is change or die time for religion. However, since religion is a constant feature of all cultures present and past, I think religion will make the transition albeit when an altered conception of god and an altered explanation of our religious symbols, practices and rituals.
The blind pitiless indifference view does not inspire and does not attract.



The arguments are about primitive conceptions of god for two reasons. First, many people do have primitive conceptions of god. Second, taking away a solid meaning for the term "god" and substituting vacuousness and nebulousness does not give it any real meaning. So, if a term is undefined, there is little to be said about it.

Consider, for example, if I said that there were things called "toves". Suppose I said that they could not be seen, and could not in any ordinary way be experienced, but I felt their presence. Suppose I said that they had to do with the "foundations of being", and many other such phrases. What would you say about these "toves"?


prothero;121151 wrote:
My suggestion to theists and atheists alike is to expand your thinking about possible (not necessarily actual or provable) conceptions of the divine. Is not that what philosophy of religion is? about exploring and considering a variety of ideas about the nature of the divine and how the divine might act in the world. Philosophy is rational speculation about possibilities or possible explanations. Philosophy of Religion is rational speculation about god. Does a true philosophical text confine itself to the supernatural anthropomorphic Greek perfection vision of the divine? Should a philosophy forum do so? Do you really think love, truth, goodness, beauty, and god are scientific concepts? Things which can be adequately explained in purely material objective terms?



People have feelings, which is a fact that can be examined scientifically. If we regard beauty as being in the eye of the beholder, we have no problems with the concept. Many things are connected with human emotions, and looking at those connections can help one understand what is going on. This is particularly true when we are dealing with things that are motivated by strong emotion, as, for example, a strong desire to not accept the idea that the universe is a cold, unfeeling place.


prothero;121151 wrote:
In modern theology god has moved from his supernatural transcendent position in the heavens to an immanence (indwelling) within nature and working through natural process. In some of these discussions about god and the world, religion and science, it is more useful to use the concept of the god of philosophers; not the god of revealed religion. The conversations are constricted and non production when they are confined to the classical conception of god. The classical conception of god is not compatible with science, reason or experience in the modern world. If you want a modern philosophical discussion about science and religion use modern philosophical conceptions of god.

Oh and is a god who brings order, complexity, life, mind and experience from the formless void and primordial chaos, really all that useless, just because creation was a process not an event, and that god was not omnipotent? Which one of us is hung up on ancient concepts? Atheists or modern religious philosophers? Who insists that god must be the supernatural anthropomorphic god of classical theology or no god at all? Not process theologists.



Whatever concept of god is to be examined, it must first be a concept. If a term is undefined, there is not much to be said about it. If someone keeps the term god from being sufficiently formed to have any real meaning, then there isn't much to talk about.

In other words, we seem to still be at what I said previously; hanging onto the term, but stripping it of any real meaning.
Amperage
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 03:18 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;121335 wrote:
Consider, for example, if I said that there were things called "toves". Suppose I said that they could not be seen, and could not in any ordinary way be experienced, but I felt their presence. Suppose I said that they had to do with the "foundations of being", and many other such phrases. What would you say about these "toves"?
I would say that if they bring you to a deeper understanding of your spiritual self, then what you call "toves" I call God.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;"

as they say.


Think about "i" in mathematics(Imaginary number - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). "i" cannot be seen nor can it be experienced. It's results can be seen though. And it's a real thing and it's an integral part of mathematics. Heck mathematics overall exist in this kind of indirect way. We cannot interact with the number 5 be we understand it. The point is there is a realm that exists beyond what we can readily interact with. And our not being able to interact with it does not mean it's not real
Pyrrho
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 03:49 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;121346 wrote:
I would say that if they bring you to a deeper understanding of your spiritual self, then what you call "toves" I call God.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;"

as they say.



But it isn't a name of anything. It is just a bunch of gibberish. People are often confused by language, imagining that if someone dreams up a name, it must be a name of something. But that need not be the case at all.


Amperage;121346 wrote:
Think about "i" in mathematics(Imaginary number - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). "i" cannot be seen nor can it be experienced. It's results can be seen though. And it's a real thing and it's an integral part of mathematics. Heck mathematics overall exist in this kind of indirect way. We cannot interact with the number 5 be we understand it. The point is there is a realm that exists beyond what we can readily interact with. And our not being able to interact with it does not mean it's not real



That is not analogous because the concept of imaginary numbers serves a function. But you have not shown that the concept of God (if, indeed, you have one) serves a function (beyond, of course, the emotional crutch that "god" is for many people, which puts it in the same realm as voodoo and any other such superstitious nonsense).

But even if you had shown it to have a function like an imaginary number, do you worship imaginary numbers?

In order for god to be worthy of worship, it must be a thing (I use that term loosely) that is more than a mere number. So, in order for the idea that there is a god to be reasonable, the term must be sufficiently defined to be an actual concept, it must be something possible, and it must be sufficiently grand to be worthy of worship, or it is just another thing among many (if it is even that much). Even that, though, would not be enough, because many things might be possible that are not actual, so we would still need to know that the thing exists in order for it to have supreme importance.

The reality is, as it has become apparent that primitive ideas about god are problematic, various parts of the concept of "god" have been stripped away (by some; many are mentally back in the dark ages), so that now there is nothing left at all but mere words, which are kept because they are soothing to many who have been raised to believe that they are important. This is very well described at:

Antony Flew "Theology and Falsification," 1950
Amperage
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 04:04 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;121365 wrote:
But it isn't a name of anything. It is just a bunch of gibberish. People are often confused by language, imagining that if someone dreams up a name, it must be a name of something. But that need not be the case at all.
The name isn't the issue. The identity is.

Pyrrho;121365 wrote:
That is not analogous because the concept of imaginary numbers serves a function. But you have not shown that the concept of God (if, indeed, you have one) serves a function (beyond, of course, the emotional crutch that "god" is for many people, which puts it in the same realm as voodoo and any other such superstitious nonsense).

But even if you had shown it to have a function like an imaginary number, do you worship imaginary numbers?
lol, first you say God has no function then you say even He did it still doesn't matter. Obviously God would not function in the same capacity as numbers. And His function is worthy of praise.

Pyrrho;121365 wrote:
In order for god to be worthy of worship, it must be a thing (I use that term loosely) that is more than a mere number. So, in order for the idea that there is a god to be reasonable, the term must be sufficiently defined to be an actual concept, it must be something possible, and it must be sufficiently grand to be worthy of worship, or it is just another thing among many (if it is even that much). Even that, though, would not be enough, because many things might be possible that are not actual, so we would still need to know that the thing exists in order for it to have supreme importance.
you once again argue this point from both sides of the coin, pointing out exactly what God would need to be then saying that even if He was all that it would not be enough. Anything that can be used as proof for one person will not be proof for another.

Pyrrho;121365 wrote:
The reality is, as it has become apparent that primitive ideas about god are problematic, various parts of the concept of "god" have been stripped away (by some; many are mentally back in the dark ages), so that now there is nothing left at all but mere words, which are kept because they are soothing to many who have been raised to believe that they are important. This is very well described at:

Antony Flew "Theology and Falsification," 1950
Question. Do you believe it to be possible for someone living, for example, 1000 years ago to be aware of something or to have a better knowledge or understanding of something or a better skill at something than we do now?
Why do you so easily dismiss the idea that these people with their "primitive ideas about god" could not have possibly known something that we don't? I thoroughly believe that we have made advancements in areas that have actually detracted or at least muddied our understanding of our spiritual nature.

Also Antony Flew is no longer an atheist. He is now a diest. He couldn't even convince himself. Not that it matters, I just thought I'd add it as an FYI
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Wed 20 Jan, 2010 09:46 pm
@prothero,
[QUOTE=Krumple;121323]Why can't you accept it? Look at a flea, you think it has a great purpose? Why would we be any different? Maybe you don't like being equal to everything else, fleas included. I don't see myself very different than all the other types of living organisms on this planet. Is a universe that had as it's result, life, really that pitiless? [/QUOTE]
[QUOTE=Pyrrho;121335] In other words, when thinking about the universe, you have an emotional reaction and judge according to that. [/QUOTE]
Somehow you both seem to assume that the "universe is blind pitiless indifference" position is "the" rational and scientific position. My response is that position is a metaphysical position which although rational and not in conflict with science it is still not scientific. It is a philosophical speculation or metaphysical assumption which as "truth" has no more status than rational theist positions that do not conflict with "science". You confuse your metaphysics with your science and your reason. In general I doubt you ever seriously consider any theistic position. The quantum scientists had spiritual worldviews almost to a person. Einstein had a spiritual worldview although he did not accept god as a personal god or the source of human ethics. Many of the current generation of scientist remain "religious or spiritual" although belief in a supernatural "personal" god is less among the highly informed and highly educated.
[QUOTE=Pyrrho;121335] The arguments are about primitive conceptions of god for two reasons. First, many people do have primitive conceptions of god. Second, taking away a solid meaning for the term "god" and substituting vacuousness and nebulousness does not give it any real meaning. So, if a term is undefined, there is little to be said about it. [/QUOTE] I think the primitive conception of god is preferred because it is an easy target. It is easy to show the universe is not 6000 yrs old, species are not fixed and supernatural interventions are for practical purposes non existent. The notion that any other concept of god is "vacuous" or "without real meaning" is not an argument it is a judgment which happens to fit the pre-existing materialist and atheistic worldview.
[QUOTE=Pyrrho;121335] People have feelings, which is a fact that can be examined scientifically. If we regard beauty as being in the eye of the beholder, we have no problems with the concept. Many things are connected with human emotions, and looking at those connections can help one understand what is going on. This is particularly true when we are dealing with things that are motivated by strong emotion, as, for example, a strong desire to not accept the idea that the universe is a cold, unfeeling place. [/QUOTE] I think materialistic, scientific, objective descriptions of love; beauty, truth, and goodness all ring hallow and are inadequate. I am not saying science does not give us insight into these emotive experiences only that it fails to capture them in any meaningful way. Give me art, music and literature any day over science for these aspects of our reality and our experience. The view of science is partial and incomplete. Religion is closer to art than it is to science and the "truth" of art is not scientific truth but experiential and existential truth.
[QUOTE=Pyrrho;121335] Whatever concept of god is to be examined, it must first be a concept. If a term is undefined, there is not much to be said about it. If someone keeps the term god from being sufficiently formed to have any real meaning, then there isn't much to talk about. [/QUOTE] Well a full fledged concept of god is not a simple matter. The brief presentation I gave is the process theology conception which is a prominent religious conception in twentieth century theology. No aspect of it is addressed by you; just classified as undefined, meaningless and nothing to talk about.

[QUOTE=Pyrrho;121335] In other words, we seem to still be at what I said previously; hanging onto the term, but stripping it of any real meaning.[/QUOTE] Your metaphysics leads you to the conclusion that any discussion of god or spirituality is devoid of real meaning even those which do not conflict with science and are based on rational speculation. Basically you do not seem interested in the philosophy of religion only in the rejection of any and all religious concepts. The universe is blind pitiless indifference is the only conception which is not void and meaningless and yet by definition that is precisely what it is. The universe is rationally intelligible and mathematically expressible. The universe brings forth order, life, mind, and experience and things of incredible beauty, symmetry, elegance and subtle simplicity. I do not know how one can say "blind purposeless pitiless indifference" is the only rational, scientifically compatible, or meaningful worldview possible.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 01:37 am
@prothero,
To my best and informed reasoning, the Fundamentals on ancient God view are not wrong...

1- Yes, God as to be, it needs to be, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent...
He/It, is the some of ALL THINGSGod is everything and God is Order !He "SLEEPS" !...We as parts, as Dynamic, even if it is false as it is done (the dynamic), are the goal of Order itself...The simulation is set for us...Universe is our playground...

As for Catastrophe...

...Catastrophe and Suffering have the purpose of creating the Illusion that everything we old dear can be lost, and in the Idea that it can be lost, We nurture the only reason to old them dear...:a-ok:

Best Regards>FILIPE DE ALBUQUERQUE
0 Replies
 
1CellOfMany
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jan, 2010 09:38 pm
@prothero,
prothero;120939 wrote:
I submit the concept of god (western monotheism) as originally formulated by the medieval scholastics is not adequate or coherent in an age of science and reason.

I am interested in altered conceptions of god which do not conflict with the modern worldview. I am primarily interested in philosophical conceptions of god from people who still allow for theism as a rational possibility. Is it possible to formulate a rational philosophical conception of god which does not conflict with experience, reason and science? Remember speculations do not have to be confirmed or even confirmable by science to remain possibilities. This is god as a philosophical speculation or conception not god as a scientific hypothesis.


To begin, what are some of the verifiable facts that might affect this description?
I will start with some of prothero's givens:
The earth is ancient, 4.5 billion years, and the universe 14 billion years.
Species are not fixed and mass extinctions and emergence of new species occur.
The earth is an ordinary planet around an ordinary star in no special location.
Man is just another and recent species who recently appeared and evolved from lower primates.
The universe is unimaginably vast and there is no [physical] location for heaven or hell
Nature is perceived as operating according to fixed, immutable laws.

I would have to modify the statement about "Man" by saying that our species has developed certain characteristics which distinguish us from all other species on the planet: Humans have a great deal more power to manipulate tools, to discover the workings of nature and to apply this knowledge to develop technology. We also have many different social structures (i.e. cultures) and these are constantly evolving. I think that each individual also has a much greater potential to act "creatively" (i.e. outside the norm for their culture) and that this makes us potentially much more dangerous to ourselves and the world. This also gives us other potentials, of which I will have more to say later.

"The earth is ancient..." & "The universe is unimaginably vast..." These two facts suggest to me that our individual lives are not as important as we would like to believe. God may very well be omnipotent and eternal, but it may be that the progress of humankind toward a planned destiny is a more important consideration than the suffering of individuals. Perhaps the saying "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger," has some truth to it.

I suggest that the nature of God is as incomprehensible to us as the nature of a human carpenter is incomprehensible to a cabinet. On the other hand, I suggest that each of us has the potential to have a relationship with God. I think that all of the qualities and attributes of the world and of each individual come from God. We can learn about God and about our own potential virtues from observation of the world, including (but not limited to) scientific investigation. The events that happen are part of the process that the world is evolving through. We, as a part of the this world, are affected by events that are sometimes painful, sometimes joyous, sometimes difficult, and sometimes easy. IMHO, what is most important in our relationship to God is that we learn from God to be detached from the changes and chances of the world, and that we develop those virtues that are taught in the various scriptures. (I include the Buddhist cannon in this category as well as the scriptures of the other major religions of the world.)

So, for example, rather than complaining that, "God has caused the earthquake that is causing all of the people in Haiti to suffer," we should learn that the people in Haiti are also us, and we should work to change the nature of human relationshipsBahai Faith | Baha'i Faith | United States Official Website
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Jan, 2010 04:56 am
@prothero,
Spot on.

Perhaps the task is one of re-imagining the divine reality, while still being aware that this is an impossible task, as all imaginings must be radically incomplete. But taking that into consideration, the mind will nevertheless formulate ways-of-thinking that are consonant with the 'spirit of the times' and generally make use of the 'picture of the world' that is uppermost in the collective psyche. Such was the case with 'deism' and the grand, somewhat masonic architect of the period of the scientific revolution. And I suspect that is the 'classical image' that is being called into question in the OP.

I don't really know, however, how to conceive God any more in light of all we now know and see. On a personal level, one desires, or needs, a God who is somehow intimate, which means, is a presence in life - not an image or an icon or an intellectual position. But then, for the purpose of this discussion, I must put that aside, as that is a confessional, or devotional, perspective, and the question requires a 'philosophical' conception.

OK - so a philosophical conception that can be reconciled with:

Quote:
Perhaps 90% of all species that have ever lived are extinct. There have been major extinction events (several) on the planet in which 70% or more of life forms have been wiped out. The mass slaughter of WWI and the extermination camps of WWII and other countries and those are just the opening challenges.


This puts me in mind of the verse: 'heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away'.

Interpretation: Nature itself is amazingly fecund. Where the conditions are right, life seems to just pour out of it. Species, environments and ecosystems seem to be effortlessly generated by the cornucopia which is (in the theistic imagination) the divine intelligence. This is what the Greeks understood as the Pleroma. So the fact that 90% of species are wiped out is actually immaterial. Given enough time, it will be 100%. It is certain that heaven and earth will actually pass away, as anything that has a beginning must have an end. But I don't really see this as an argument against God, because I don't believe the 'promise of eternal life' amounts to the interminable existence of everything that now exists or once existed. This earth will end, this sun will burn out, in due course: but that which gives rise to suns, to earths, will never cease.

The question of species extinction on account of humans is another thing altogether. The fact that many creatures are being extinguished by our demand for space and resources and careless consumption is regretable in the extreme. So perhaps a new conception of God would be one that demands a minimal carbon footprint, less meat consumption, and unconditional respect for all life on earth. It sounds easy to say it, but if we all tried to actually put it into practise, it would be extremely demanding. So maybe a green God. The Green Man: this was a mythical deity in ancient Europe. (Declaration of interest: I am a member of the Australian Greens.)

As for the death camps - humans have freedom. Some of these humans decided to use this freedom to embark on the Third Reich. It doesn't make them right, or God wrong. Humans can be destructive and cruel, or creative and compassionate. That is really up to us. It is up to us how we express our freedom. I guess this is easy to say for someone like myself who is not in a position of dire peril in a death camp or an earthquake zone. But even fully aware of the horrors of Auswitzch and Hiroshima, I don't see these as an indictement of any shortcoming of the divine intelligence. If the human race embarked on a total nuclear war and completely took itself out, after many thousands of years, the earth would begin to restore itself, and nature would begin to run its course again. I don't see how our stupidity would make nature any less fecund or beautiful. And I don't expect God to be any certain way. I don't know if we have a right to expectations of that kind. i guess this means I have a different idea of deity altogether - but that is how I see it.
0 Replies
 
 

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