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genghiscant

Belief in God

How do you "Reason" your belief in God? Or does "Reason" not come into it?
Jim

Is belief in God emotional ore reasonable?
Need there be a dichotomy?
The act of accepting who God is in my life was one of intense emotion; not in some mass crusade, but alone in my bedroom.

I felt emotion pouring into me, as I responded with equal emotion in accepting Him as part of me.
However, opening myself to the emotion - the love - of God did not mean surrendering my intellect.
I remain a questioner; asking the 'how' questions science can answer, but asking the 'why' questions only God can satisfy. There's nothing unscriptural there; quite the opposite. As Jesus put it
;
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength. And love your neighbour as you love yourself."
Ketty

Re: Belief in God

genghiscant wrote:
How do you "Reason" your belief in God? Or does "Reason" not come into it?


The requirement to 'reason' Faith comes from others - usually those with no Faith.  I don't reason it, because I have no need to.  It just 'is', it's who I am and as integral as every cell in my body, every thought, every emotion, every breath.
Shaker

Re: Belief in God

Ketty wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
How do you "Reason" your belief in God? Or does "Reason" not come into it?


The requirement to 'reason' Faith comes from others - usually those with no Faith.  I don't reason it, because I have no need to.  It just 'is', it's who I am and as integral as every cell in my body, every thought, every emotion, every breath.

But presumably it would no longer be so if it simply vanished overnight, as does (so I've heard) happen?
genghiscant

Re: Belief in God

Ketty wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
How do you "Reason" your belief in God? Or does "Reason" not come into it?


The requirement to 'reason' Faith comes from others - usually those with no Faith.  I don't reason it, because I have no need to.  It just 'is', it's who I am and as integral as every cell in my body, every thought, every emotion, every breath.


With not being able to reason through your faith, aren't you worried that you may in fact be deluded?
Lexilogio

People have different approaches to God. My core philosophy is probably epiphemonology - I have a need to see how everything is connected and fits together, its a part of the system of reductionism.

Belief in epiphemonology is common in religion, people break their understanding of the world down into component parts, and see God as the causality which creates and fits those parts together.

For example, each week, I find something in the service I attend which I either would not want to have missed, or resonates with what I am mentally trying to figure out in my spiritual life. But my choice of service is almost entirely random - based on what seems right during the week. This suggests to me that there is a non-random causality to my choices, that God is guiding me.
genghiscant

Quote:
This suggests to me that there is a non-random causality to my choices, that God is guiding me.


Aren't you, as a believer, predisposed to look for a "God did it" cause for almost anything that you experience?

I've heard  lots of people tell me that they felt called to do something by God, whether its doing missionary work or becoming a Nun/Monk. I've also heard of people doing despicable acts that God told them to do.

Isn't the main link in all of this a belief that God speaks to them directly by voice or actions?

I think most people who hear someone say that God told them to set fire to their family must be mentally ill & delusional.

Isn't the difference between them & you just a matter of degree?
SusanDoris

I have spent time this afternoon listening to New Scientist articles and I must say that I am so pleased to hear that so many scientists are spending their time working out more and better ways to understand as much as possible about reality; at the same time finding out more and more practical, useful things. For the great majority of them, a Bbelief in God has no part to play in such work.  
I've also been keeping up with several long threads on other forums where it is evident that far too many spen their time trying to show how their 'experience' of psychic powers etc should be accepted as truth, and of course reading with interest the replies of those who see the reality!

And you could, quite justifiably, ask why I'm spending the time on this activity, :) but I learn a lot; and went for a long walk this morning too. :)
Ketty

Re: Belief in God

Shaker wrote:

But presumably it would no longer be so if it simply vanished overnight, as does (so I've heard) happen?


I guess that must follow.

I'll let you know, if it happens.  Mark 9:24
Ketty

Re: Belief in God

genghiscant wrote:
. . . aren't you worried that you may in fact be deluded?


Not in the slightest.

Fwiw, in case you're concerned for me : I've known my unbelieving husband since I was a young teen - he's never commented that he thinks I'm deluded, and, apart from the Lord, he knows me better than anyone.
genghiscant

Quote:
I've known my unbelieving husband since I was a young teen - he's never commented that he thinks I'm deluded


A quiet, stomach filled life is a thing to be greatly desired!
cyberman

Re: Belief in God

genghiscant wrote:
How do you "Reason" your belief in God? Or does "Reason" not come into it?


genghiscant wrote:
How do you "Reason" your belief in God? Or does "Reason" not come into it?


The universe seems to be finite in both space and time (it might not be, but is seems to be, and it is not delusional to guess this to be the case).

As rule, things which we observe have causes.

Either there is an infinite regression of causes, or there is a first cause.

As the universe appears to be finite, it is not unreasonable or delusional to guess that the latter may well be the case.

If there is not an infinite regression of causes, then it may well be the case that, however far back we go, at some point we will come to a first cause; that is, a thing which, unlike everything else which we observe, exists without being caused and confers existence upon other stuff.

(The whole "if God made the universe, then who made God" thing doesn't apply here - however many stages back we go, eventually we get to 'X' - the thing which, unless you guess an infinite regression of causes, exists without being caused.)

I am not claiming here to have proved God's existence. I am simply saying that it is not unreasonable or deluded to guess that there is an 'X'. If there is an 'X', you might as well call it God.

All theists believe in this 'X'. We disagree with each other over details like what it wants, whether it cares, and how it makes its wishes known, but 'X' is 'X'.
Shaker

Good luck with (a) demonstrating that there's such a thing as a first cause and - most crucially of all for the theist - (b) that such a first cause is a personalistic, vaguely humanoid entity with likes, dislikes, moods, wishes, demands, desires and preferences for one state of affairs over another.

Quote:
I am simply saying that it is not unreasonable or deluded to guess that there is an 'X'.

If by X you mean a first cause, that's true.

Quote:
If there is an 'X', you might as well call it God.

But that isn't. Despite the seeming impossibility of ever reaching any consensus on a definition, 'God' means and has always meant something fairly specific for the vast majority of theists: a non-material entity who nevertheless is human-ish or humanlike in having all the things I listed above. There's no demand for a presumed first cause to be personalistic in this manner: if such a thing existed it could well be a completely abstract process with no consciousness whatever - totally inhuman in the most literal sense of the word. Indeed, if there were such a thing I should say that this is vastly more likely than thinking, as theists are wont to think, that you and your sect are incredibly lucky enough to have hit upon the universe's first cause and to have got it just right whereas everybody else is steeped in error.

Since this is a form of rigorously abstract deism rather than theism it's not really what the average theist wants of their god, now is it? Gods are in the habit of praising certain things and condemning others; they demand obedience to a certain set of rules of conduct and insist on positive behaviour (things you must do) and negative abstention (things you must not). You can quibble all you like about this being merely a very limited, time- and culture-specific human understanding of gods, but that serves only to prove to me even more that all such things are purely human inventions.

If there is such a thing as a first cause of the universe - a highly dubious proposition in itself - I've no reason to think that such a first cause would be personalistic and would have any cognisance of one infinitesimally insignificant species of primate on one equally insignificant planet, let alone would make extremely specific and irrational demands upon the same. I think even those who know and love me best would admit that I am possessed of what they might kindly regard as a highly developed sense of self, but not even I am capable of the degree of overweening, in fact cosmic arrogance that theism entails. Like everything and anything else to do with theism, I just don't buy it.
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
a personalistic, vaguely humanoid entity with likes, dislikes, moods, wishes, demands, desires and preferences for one state of affairs over another..


You are simply in error about what theists believe, here. I don't know anyone who believes that God is humanoid! (Or even vaguely humanoid - you might be thinking of wookies?) Also, Aquinas clearly describes God as being 'without (I can't remember exactly..) without parts or passions', or something - that is, he does not have the same kind of emotions that humans have, according to that teaching.

Even if some theists do believe God has human-style desires, then it certainly doesn't follow that that is necessary.

Anyway, genghiscant didn't ask us to write down everything about God, he asked us if there was a reasonable basis for our belief that there is a god, and that was my answer. That is not all I believe about God, that is just the beginning of my theism.
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:
a personalistic, vaguely humanoid entity with likes, dislikes, moods, wishes, demands, desires and preferences for one state of affairs over another..


You are simply in error about what theists believe, here. I don't know anyone who believes that God is humanoid![ (Or even vaguely humanoid - you might be thinking of wookies?)

No, I'm thinking of the places in every theistic religious scripture and in every theistic sect where their god is said to like some things and dislike others; to approve of some behaviours and to condemn others; to look favourably upon something things and to scorn others; to have human emotions such as anger, forgiveness, jealousy, punitiveness and the like. And so on and so forth. Human attributes foisted upon a humanly-created entity, as I said.

Quote:
Also, Aquinas clearly describes God as being 'without (I can't remember exactly..) without parts or passions', or something - that is, he does not have the same kind of emotions that humans have, according to that teaching.

No? So when the Bible, or any Church, speaks of God as being angry with this or pleased with that, those words don't mean what they mean when human beings use them?

If that's the case, and word X for God doesn't mean what humans mean by X when they use the same word, how exactly are you supposed to know what God likes/dislikes/wants/doesn't want?

A God without passions seems to me to be every bit as inert and impersonal as a brick wall. A few people have believed in such an abstract entity, but they've never been anything other than a tiny minority.

Quote:
Even if some theists do believe God has human-style desires,

I should say that the vast majority of them, at every time and in every place, have believed and do believe exactly that.

Now of course we learn that the words that humans use to apply to their passions don't apply to God because those self-same words mean something else.
genghiscant

I thought that we were supposed to have been created in Gods image, that means we're the same, doesn't it?
Shaker

Apparently not!
SusanDoris

Continuing to read with interest, but nothing to add for now.
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:
a personalistic, vaguely humanoid entity with likes, dislikes, moods, wishes, demands, desires and preferences for one state of affairs over another..


You are simply in error about what theists believe, here. I don't know anyone who believes that God is humanoid![ (Or even vaguely humanoid - you might be thinking of wookies?)

No, I'm thinking of the places in every theistic religious scripture and in every theistic sect where their god is said to like some things and dislike others; to approve of some behaviours and to condemn others; to look favourably upon something things and to scorn others; to have human emotions such as anger, forgiveness, jealousy, punitiveness and the like. And so on and so forth. Human attributes foisted upon a humanly-created entity, as I said.

Quote:
Also, Aquinas clearly describes God as being 'without (I can't remember exactly..) without parts or passions', or something - that is, he does not have the same kind of emotions that humans have, according to that teaching.

No? So when the Bible, or any Church, speaks of God as being angry with this or pleased with that, those words don't mean what they mean when human beings use them?

If that's the case, and word X for God doesn't mean what humans mean by X when they use the same word, how exactly are you supposed to know what God likes/dislikes/wants/doesn't want?

A God without passions seems to me to be every bit as inert and impersonal as a brick wall. A few people have believed in such an abstract entity, but they've never been anything other than a tiny minority.

Quote:
Even if some theists do believe God has human-style desires,

I should say that the vast majority of them, at every time and in every place, have believed and do believe exactly that.

Now of course we learn that the words that humans use to apply to their passions don't apply to God because those self-same words mean something else.


Again, you are mixing up scripture with belief. Yes, there are fundamentalists, and it is for them to explain whether they think "seated at the right hand of the father" means that God actually has actual hands. But most theists don't believe that. So when you wave around Bible verses saying "it says here God breathes...it says here god has hands... it says here god can talk...it says here god has a wash basin" you are not referring to what Christians actually believe about God. And yes, often theists do ascribe human characteristics to God. And also to their cats, cartoon characters, cuddly toys and all sorts of things. But if pressed they know that in all these cases they are being a bit silly. Most of the time.
cyberman

genghiscant wrote:
I thought that we were supposed to have been created in Gods image, that means we're the same, doesn't it?


No. No one I have ever met believes God has kidneys.
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
Again, you are mixing up scripture with belief. Yes, there are fundamentalists, and it is for them to explain whether they think "seated at the right hand of the father" means that God actually has actual hands. But most theists don't believe that. So when you wave around Bible verses saying "it says here God breathes...it says here god has hands... it says here god can talk...it says here god has a wash basin" you are not referring to what Christians actually believe about God. And yes, often theists do ascribe human characteristics to God. And also to their cats, cartoon characters, cuddly toys and all sorts of things. But if pressed they know that in all these cases they are being a bit silly. Most of the time.

Nothing to do with physical attributes such as hands and the like. It is nevertheless a fact that most theists always have and I would go so far as to say that most theists still do believe in a god, whatever else it may be (and nobody ever seems capable of saying or is prepared to say), of human-like attributes such as wishing, wanting, desiring, the capacity to have preferences and so forth. It can't even be said to be by analogy; theism, always coy about committing itself to any tolerably graspable definition of what god actually is, has always made very definite, concrete statements that its god likes this and forbids that, approves of x and disapproves of y, prefers his believers to do this thing rather than that thing. Inevitably the specifics vary - some, even within the same religion let alone within different denominations, think that god requires the amputation of infant foreskins and the avoidance of cheeseburgers and pork chops whereas others don't; some think that god looks approvingly on dunking in water whereas others don't - but in all cases there is an implicit assumption of a personalistic god who does human things such as liking this and disliking that; encouraging this and forbidding that.

Or for some reason, in defiance of several thousand years of history, every theistic sacred scripture ever written and the testimony of untold millions of believers, do you not believe this to be the case?

Perhaps it's easier to tease this issue out with a question, or rather two questions. Does god like/prefer/admire/condone charity and condemn/forbid/prohibit murder? You seem for some reason to be fighting shy of committing yourself to the idea that the god of theism is thought by most believers in such to have human-like wants/wishes/desires/preferences, so if your answer to these questions is 'yes,' how so? Very few, if any, theists think that god possesses hands; I think I'm on safe ground in saying that the vast majority of them feel that god likes and approves of mercy, charity and forgiveness and condemns and censures killing (of humans: but again, even there, there are differences of opinion)). If their/your god is not personalistic (which you almost seem to be on the brink of saying), how can this be the case?

What you seem to be avoiding is committing yourself to the idea of a personal, personalistic, humanlike god - defined by Wikipedia as "a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being"." (When I use words such as personal', 'humanlike' and 'humanoid' I don't mean some sort of cosmic Chewbacca but a supramundane entity which is possessed of attributes sufficiently close to those of humans that humans can relate to it on a personal level. It's possible, and there is abundant evidence of this, for a human to relate personally to another primate such as a chimpanzee or a gorilla because there's enough in common - sentience; personhood; personality; a shared theory of mind and a shared awareness of this - to make this happen; it's not possible for a human to relate personally to a woodlouse). I understand "related to as a person" as what it would normally mean in standard English - one person relating to another as someone else with broadly similar attributes such as wanting, wishing, desiring, disliking, praising, condemning, etc. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (I, i, xxxv) states: "Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God." and (I,i, xxxvii): "... human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God." This nun certainly believes in as much:

Quote:
T. M. Luhrmann (“When God Is Your Therapist,” column, April 14) declares that mainline Protestants and Catholics “do not imagine a God so intimate, so loving, so much like a person” as evangelicals do.

In fact, Catholics treasure their intimate and personal relationship with God, who, they believe, became human in Jesus Christ, a fact that makes it easier for them to relate to him.

They encounter the Lord personally and intimately in the Eucharist at Mass and in everyday prayer, where they bring the Lord both joys and sorrows, and anger and gratitude as they face everyday realities.

Catholicism is based on a relationship so strong that Catholics believe that Jesus died for each one of us individually. You can’t get much more intimate and personal than that.
genghiscant

cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
I thought that we were supposed to have been created in Gods image, that means we're the same, doesn't it?


No. No one I have ever met believes God has kidneys.


Do you believe that God communicates with you personally?
It would seem that lots of theists actually do.
cyberman

genghiscant wrote:
cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
I thought that we were supposed to have been created in Gods image, that means we're the same, doesn't it?


No. No one I have ever met believes God has kidneys.


Do you believe that God communicates with you personally?
It would seem that lots of theists actually do.


I'm not sure what that has to do with this.
As I have said, what I have written earlier is not "everything I think about God".

If by communicating personally, you mean "do I hear voices", then no.

Can you explain the relevance before going on with this, though, please?
Lexilogio

genghiscant wrote:
Quote:
This suggests to me that there is a non-random causality to my choices, that God is guiding me.


Aren't you, as a believer, predisposed to look for a "God did it" cause for almost anything that you experience?

I've heard  lots of people tell me that they felt called to do something by God, whether its doing missionary work or becoming a Nun/Monk. I've also heard of people doing despicable acts that God told them to do.

Isn't the main link in all of this a belief that God speaks to them directly by voice or actions?

I think most people who hear someone say that God told them to set fire to their family must be mentally ill & delusional.

Isn't the difference between them & you just a matter of degree?


There is a difference between mental illness and belief. There is a difference between God's guidance, and hearing voices in illness.

God is love. Therefore, hearing anything which deviates from love, is not God. As a simple rule of thumb.
Shaker

Lexilogio wrote:


There is a difference between mental illness and belief. There is a difference between God's guidance, and hearing voices in illness.

God is love. Therefore, hearing anything which deviates from love, is not God. As a simple rule of thumb.

These examples do, I have to say, strike me as exercises in both special pleading and circular reasoning/begging the question - there's a difference between God's guidance and auditory hallucinations if you have a prior committment to the real existence of God, such that God could never tell anybody to do anything contrary to what is assumed to be his nature simply because his nature is arbitrarily defined as whatever isn't contrary to it.
Powwow

Really? God told a certain someone to sacrifice their son. God was but testing this persons faith and He had no intention of allowing this person to actually follow through with His command.
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
Again, you are mixing up scripture with belief. Yes, there are fundamentalists, and it is for them to explain whether they think "seated at the right hand of the father" means that God actually has actual hands. But most theists don't believe that. So when you wave around Bible verses saying "it says here God breathes...it says here god has hands... it says here god can talk...it says here god has a wash basin" you are not referring to what Christians actually believe about God. And yes, often theists do ascribe human characteristics to God. And also to their cats, cartoon characters, cuddly toys and all sorts of things. But if pressed they know that in all these cases they are being a bit silly. Most of the time.

Nothing to do with physical attributes such as hands and the like. It is nevertheless a fact that most theists always have and I would go so far as to say that most theists still do believe in a god, whatever else it may be (and nobody ever seems capable of saying or is prepared to say), of human-like attributes such as wishing, wanting, desiring, the capacity to have preferences and so forth. It can't even be said to be by analogy; theism, always coy about committing itself to any tolerably graspable definition of what god actually is, has always made very definite, concrete statements that its god likes this and forbids that, approves of x and disapproves of y, prefers his believers to do this thing rather than that thing. Inevitably the specifics vary - some, even within the same religion let alone within different denominations, think that god requires the amputation of infant foreskins and the avoidance of cheeseburgers and pork chops whereas others don't; some think that god looks approvingly on dunking in water whereas others don't - but in all cases there is an implicit assumption of a personalistic god who does human things such as liking this and disliking that; encouraging this and forbidding that.

Or for some reason, in defiance of several thousand years of history, every theistic sacred scripture ever written and the testimony of untold millions of believers, do you not believe this to be the case?

Perhaps it's easier to tease this issue out with a question, or rather two questions. Does god like/prefer/admire/condone charity and condemn/forbid/prohibit murder? You seem for some reason to be fighting shy of committing yourself to the idea that the god of theism is thought by most believers in such to have human-like wants/wishes/desires/preferences, so if your answer to these questions is 'yes,' how so? Very few, if any, theists think that god possesses hands; I think I'm on safe ground in saying that the vast majority of them feel that god likes and approves of mercy, charity and forgiveness and condemns and censures killing (of humans: but again, even there, there are differences of opinion)). If their/your god is not personalistic (which you almost seem to be on the brink of saying), how can this be the case?

What you seem to be avoiding is committing yourself to the idea of a personal, personalistic, humanlike god - defined by Wikipedia as "a deity who can be related to as a person instead of as an "impersonal force", such as the Absolute, "the All", or the "Ground of Being"." (When I use words such as personal', 'humanlike' and 'humanoid' I don't mean some sort of cosmic Chewbacca but a supramundane entity which is possessed of attributes sufficiently close to those of humans that humans can relate to it on a personal level. It's possible, and there is abundant evidence of this, for a human to relate personally to another primate such as a chimpanzee or a gorilla because there's enough in common - sentience; personhood; personality; a shared theory of mind and a shared awareness of this - to make this happen; it's not possible for a human to relate personally to a woodlouse). I understand "related to as a person" as what it would normally mean in standard English - one person relating to another as someone else with broadly similar attributes such as wanting, wishing, desiring, disliking, praising, condemning, etc. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (I, i, xxxv) states: "Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God." and (I,i, xxxvii): "... human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God." This nun certainly believes in as much:

Quote:
T. M. Luhrmann (“When God Is Your Therapist,” column, April 14) declares that mainline Protestants and Catholics “do not imagine a God so intimate, so loving, so much like a person” as evangelicals do.

In fact, Catholics treasure their intimate and personal relationship with God, who, they believe, became human in Jesus Christ, a fact that makes it easier for them to relate to him.

They encounter the Lord personally and intimately in the Eucharist at Mass and in everyday prayer, where they bring the Lord both joys and sorrows, and anger and gratitude as they face everyday realities.

Catholicism is based on a relationship so strong that Catholics believe that Jesus died for each one of us individually. You can’t get much more intimate and personal than that.


Well, that last point about the personal God is to do with the incarnation, which is another matter altogether. As you know, we believe that Jesus is both human and divine, and as such he does of course have human qualities.

But as for God the Father himself - no I do not believe in a God who has likes and dislikes in the way that humans do. I believe in a God which, if it has characteristics at all, are of a kind which is unknowable from where I'm sitting. I am not alone in this - I have already referred Aquinas, who talks of God in this way. Jews and Christians have always had a bad habit of anthropomorphicising when writing about God - and while this might have misled some theists into attributing implausible humanish chatacteristics to God, it does not represent core theistic belief.

The equation of God with Love is a tricky one. I think it is perhaps best described as love being the human way of 'participating in' (as Plato liekd to say) what God is. God's relationship with us is believed to be one which is best reflected in humans' love for each other. In other words, iin activities which are constructive rather than destructive, and in which one is open to communication rather than closed to it, etc. Again, it is one of these inherited anthropomorphic habits which we have. Similarly, but more simply, we also have the inherited habit of calling it 'him' - but we don't actually think he resembles a male organism any more than he resembles a female one.
SusanDoris

Quote:
...we believe that Jesus is both human and divine, ...

Yes, but why? You believe this about only one person in the whole of the history of the Earth, if not the universe and do not suspend your disbelief for any other  person.
Quote:
...I have already referred Aquinas, who talks of God in this way.

Do you think that Aquinas, if he had access to the wealth of information we have today,  would come to the same conclusion? Why?
Many believers talk of 'a relationship' with God, but that is the only 'relationship' which has total silence and inactivity on one side. It has no effect on any of our senses.
Shaker says it all better of course! :)
Powwow

"...inactivity on one side. It has no effect on our senses."

Absolutely false and that's a fact!

You liked that Shaker?
Shaker

pow wow wrote:
"...inactivity on one side. It has no effect on our senses."

Absolutely false and that's a fact!

You liked that Shaker?

I haven't the faintest idea what on earth you're babbling about, because as usual you've made no effort to say.
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
Well, that last point about the personal God is to do with the incarnation, which is another matter altogether. As you know, we believe that Jesus is both human and divine, and as such he does of course have human qualities.

But this Jesus chappy was/is the same entity as God, is he not, according to that particular belief system? So, unless you're going to fall foul of the fallacy of composition, whatever is true of Jesus (human qualities) would also be true of the God whom he also is at the same time, yes?

Quote:
But as for God the Father himself - no I do not believe in a God who has likes and dislikes in the way that humans do. I believe in a God which, if it has characteristics at all, are of a kind which is unknowable from where I'm sitting. I am not alone in this - I have already referred Aquinas, who talks of God in this way. Jews and Christians have always had a bad habit of anthropomorphicising when writing about God - and while this might have misled some theists into attributing implausible humanish chatacteristics to God, it does not represent core theistic belief.


No? It seems to be a damned sight more common that you seem to want it to be. The God in which you believe seems to be some abstract, utterly impersonal and inert principle devoid of wishes, wants, likes, dislikes, preferences and desires analogous to those found in humans - which is, as I keep saying, the sort of God that the vast majority of theists always seem to have wanted and to have worshipped. You seem to be out of step not only with the majority of monotheists everywhere historically but, I would dare to say, the majority of Catholics here. As far as I can see this appears to be some species of deism or even pantheism, quite possibly even naturalistic pantheism, rather than full-on (mono)theism as historically and traditionally conceived. That's perfectly OK - you're at liberty to believe whatever you like - but don't try and pass off a minority position as orthodox and traditional theism, because it isn't. Your unknowable X without likes and dislikes and preferences for this and that over the other seems to be an extremely curious object of reverence and worship, not least because if you commit yourself to this position, you can't actually say that this deity is responsive to any kind of worship at all. You can't say or do anything to or at it, and you can't expect anything in return. If this sort of god is deemed to have no likes, desires and wishes, no preferences for one mode of belief and conduct over another and is essentially unknowable, really, what on earth is the point of worshipping such a god in the first place? That entity wouldn't seem to be getting anything out of the deal so, as Susan has already and rightly pointed out in much less lengthy terms than my overwritten own, that would seem to make it all about you rather than it.

In essence it makes this sort of god the brick wall that I referred to earlier: useful from a structural point of view, undoubtedly, but not a great one for two-way conversation.
genghiscant

cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
I thought that we were supposed to have been created in Gods image, that means we're the same, doesn't it?


No. No one I have ever met believes God has kidneys.


Do you believe that God communicates with you personally?
It would seem that lots of theists actually do.


I'm not sure what that has to do with this.
As I have said, what I have written earlier is not "everything I think about God".

If by communicating personally, you mean "do I hear voices", then no.

Can you explain the relevance before going on with this, though, please?


I didn't ask if you hear voices. I asked if you believe God communicates with you personally. If it sends signs, portents, unwritten messages or anything at all that makes you believe that God wants you, or doesn't want you, to perform a certain action or not.

If not, then it would appear to be a one way conversation which bears all the hallmarks of delusion. i.e. delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person.
Shaker

genghiscant wrote:
I didn't ask if you hear voices. I asked if you believe God communicates with you personally. If it sends signs, portents, unwritten messages or anything at all that makes you believe that God wants you, or doesn't want you, to perform a certain action or not.

If not, then it would appear to be a one way conversation which bears all the hallmarks of delusion. i.e. delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person.

Good points succinctly made. *sigh* Why can't I write as cogently as that?
cyberman

genghiscant wrote:
I didn't ask if you hear voices. I asked if you believe God communicates with you personally. If it sends signs, portents, unwritten messages or anything at all that makes you believe that God wants you, or doesn't want you, to perform a certain action or not.



Not that I can be sure of, no. Of course, maybe I'm just not listening. I don't discount the possibility that it might be influencing intuitions and hunches, but in any given instance I cannot claim that that is the case.

genghiscant wrote:

If not, then it would appear to be a one way conversation which bears all the hallmarks of delusion. i.e. delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person.


Uh? Which 'conversation' of mine are you describing, here? (Please don't answer with a fishing question, but answer based upon what you knew at the opint when you wrote your little 'observation').
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
You can't say or do anything to or at it, and you can't expect anything in return.


Why's that?
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:
You can't say or do anything to or at it, and you can't expect anything in return.


Why's that?

Because you've already admitted that this god is impersonal, without desires, demands, likes, dislikes, wants and wishes, and is unknowable. Seriously - who tries to engage in some sort of relationship (construed in the broadest sense) with something unknowable?
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:
You can't say or do anything to or at it, and you can't expect anything in return.


Why's that?

Because you've already admitted that this god is impersonal, without desires, demands, likes, dislikes, wants and wishes, and is unknowable. Seriously - who tries to engage in some sort of relationship (construed in the broadest sense) with something unknowable?


Well, I can't remember what I wrote now, exacttly. I think my gist was that we can't know much about God really - and that whatever it does or is, we cannot really expect to be able to understand or have words for it. I have not said that it has no capacity to know and respond to us, though, have I?
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
Well, I can't remember what I wrote now, exacttly.

Posts are all still on this thread, sitting there for all to see.

Quote:
I think my gist was that we can't know much about God really - and that whatever it does or is, we cannot really expect to be able to understand or have words for it. I have not said that it has no capacity to know and respond to us, though, have I?

Pretty much, yes. You said as much when you stated:
Quote:
I do not believe in a God who has likes and dislikes in the way that humans do. I believe in a God which, if it has characteristics at all, are of a kind which is unknowable from where I'm sitting.

Something truly unknowable is ... well, unknowable. It's true that it looks as though I'm heading into Donald Rumsfeld territory here (even though his most famous, widely mocked quote is in fact a fairly succinct statement of a quite profound epistemological point, however lumpily worded in his case) but if something is unknowable then you can't know anything about it - including the fact that it's unknowable. I presume what you meant to say is that God isn't entirely unknowable: you claim to know just enough about such a thing to know that it's unknowable, making God partly and not wholly unknowable.

If something is completely unknowable it's literally the case that you can't say a single word about it - literally nothing. If something is mostly but not entirely unknowable, on the other hand, you can know just enough about it to be able to say that it's unknowable - which seems to be your position on God, if I understand you aright.

The question then of course becomes, how do you claim to know this  
cyberman

Shaker wrote:

The question then of course becomes, how do you claim to know this  


What exactly have I claimed to know?
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:

The question then of course becomes, how do you claim to know this  


What exactly have I claimed to know?

That God is unknowable.
genghiscant

cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
I didn't ask if you hear voices. I asked if you believe God communicates with you personally. If it sends signs, portents, unwritten messages or anything at all that makes you believe that God wants you, or doesn't want you, to perform a certain action or not.



Not that I can be sure of, no. Of course, maybe I'm just not listening. I don't discount the possibility that it might be influencing intuitions and hunches, but in any given instance I cannot claim that that is the case.

genghiscant wrote:

If not, then it would appear to be a one way conversation which bears all the hallmarks of delusion. i.e. delusions of inflated worth, power, knowledge, identity, or special relationship to a deity or famous person.


Uh? Which 'conversation' of mine are you describing, here? (Please don't answer with a fishing question, but answer based upon what you knew at the opint when you wrote your little 'observation').


You are a Christian & Catholic who attends prayer meetings & church services. I assumed, rightly or wrongly, that you pray to your God on a regular basis. Seeing as you claim to receive no answers or feedback from your God, then this would appear to be a one way conversation.

People who claim to hear voices or receive signs from God are, in my opinion, on the same spectrum as the mentally ill who hear God telling them to perform extreme actions, just to a lesser degree.

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.
The Boyg

genghiscant wrote:
I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Yes, I'm sure you don't.

Which is a shame for you really.
Powwow

Try buying a pair of coke bottle glasses then geng. You need a pair badly!
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
Shaker wrote:

The question then of course becomes, how do you claim to know this  


What exactly have I claimed to know?

That God is unknowable.


I'm not being difficult, but I honestly don't think that I have claimed that as knowledge. I might have expressed it as a belief or a guess, for that is all it can be, but I don't think I claimed knowledge about God.
cyberman

genghiscant wrote:

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Really? No difference at all?

So, you wouldn't say that one lot are more dangerous than the other lot at all, then?

If you had to get stuck on a desert isalnd with Mrs Mug who works at the Christian Aid charity shop and makes the cakes for the church fete, or Mr Phelps, recently released from serving time for bombing an abortion clinic and firmly of the belief that the world will end next Tuesday, who expresses the desire to kill sinners whenever and however he can - it would be a coin toss, because you cannot for the life of you tell any difference between the two?

I think you lie.
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Really? No difference at all?

So, you wouldn't say that one lot are more dangerous than the other lot at all, then?

If you had to get stuck on a desert isalnd with Mrs Mug who works at the Christian Aid charity shop and makes the cakes for the church fete, or Mr Phelps, recently released from serving time for bombing an abortion clinic and firmly of the belief that the world will end next Tuesday, who expresses the desire to kill sinners whenever and however he can - it would be a coin toss, because you cannot for the life of you tell any difference between the two?

I think you lie.

And I think that you misunderstand - perhaps, as on occasion in the past, deliberately - genghiscant's point.
cyberman

Shaker wrote:
cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Really? No difference at all?

So, you wouldn't say that one lot are more dangerous than the other lot at all, then?

If you had to get stuck on a desert isalnd with Mrs Mug who works at the Christian Aid charity shop and makes the cakes for the church fete, or Mr Phelps, recently released from serving time for bombing an abortion clinic and firmly of the belief that the world will end next Tuesday, who expresses the desire to kill sinners whenever and however he can - it would be a coin toss, because you cannot for the life of you tell any difference between the two?

I think you lie.

And I think that you misunderstand - perhaps, as on occasion in the past, deliberately - genghiscant's point.


I don't think so. He is suggesting that he thinks that one is as deranged as the other. I am pretty sure that is his point.

And I am saying that he does not really think that.
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
I don't think so. He is suggesting that he thinks that one is as deranged as the other. I am pretty sure that is his point.

And I am saying that he does not really think that.

He doesn't and has said as much:
Quote:
People who claim to hear voices or receive signs from God are, in my opinion, on the same spectrum as the mentally ill who hear God telling them to perform extreme actions, just to a lesser degree.
genghiscant

cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Really? No difference at all?

So, you wouldn't say that one lot are more dangerous than the other lot at all, then?

If you had to get stuck on a desert isalnd with Mrs Mug who works at the Christian Aid charity shop and makes the cakes for the church fete, or Mr Phelps, recently released from serving time for bombing an abortion clinic and firmly of the belief that the world will end next Tuesday, who expresses the desire to kill sinners whenever and however he can - it would be a coin toss, because you cannot for the life of you tell any difference between the two?

I think you lie.


One person believes that God has spoken, given a message in a dream, has shown signs to them saying that they must set their family on fire.

Another person believes that God has spoken, given a message in a dream, has shown signs to them saying that they must try to become a better neighbour.

Apart from the degree of violence, what's the difference?
cyberman

genghiscant wrote:
cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Really? No difference at all?

So, you wouldn't say that one lot are more dangerous than the other lot at all, then?

If you had to get stuck on a desert isalnd with Mrs Mug who works at the Christian Aid charity shop and makes the cakes for the church fete, or Mr Phelps, recently released from serving time for bombing an abortion clinic and firmly of the belief that the world will end next Tuesday, who expresses the desire to kill sinners whenever and however he can - it would be a coin toss, because you cannot for the life of you tell any difference between the two?

I think you lie.


One person believes that God has spoken, given a message in a dream, has shown signs to them saying that they must set their family on fire.

Another person believes that God has spoken, given a message in a dream, has shown signs to them saying that they must try to become a better neighbour.

Apart from the degree of violence, what's the difference?


The degree of violence is the difference. The degree of violence is why I think you are wrong to say you can't see any difference.
genghiscant

cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
cyberman wrote:
genghiscant wrote:

I see no real difference between people who believe they've been called by God to perform a charitable function & those who believe God has called them to kill unbelievers.


Really? No difference at all?

So, you wouldn't say that one lot are more dangerous than the other lot at all, then?

If you had to get stuck on a desert isalnd with Mrs Mug who works at the Christian Aid charity shop and makes the cakes for the church fete, or Mr Phelps, recently released from serving time for bombing an abortion clinic and firmly of the belief that the world will end next Tuesday, who expresses the desire to kill sinners whenever and however he can - it would be a coin toss, because you cannot for the life of you tell any difference between the two?

I think you lie.


One person believes that God has spoken, given a message in a dream, has shown signs to them saying that they must set their family on fire.

Another person believes that God has spoken, given a message in a dream, has shown signs to them saying that they must try to become a better neighbour.

Apart from the degree of violence, what's the difference?


The degree of violence is the difference. The degree of violence is why I think you are wrong to say you can't see any difference.


OK. The person who receives the messages about killing his family, believes the message but doesn't carry out the act. What is the difference?

Both people believe they've had a communication from God. One is definitely insane & the other is a psychopath.
Shaker

cyberman wrote:
The degree of violence is the difference. The degree of violence is why I think you are wrong to say you can't see any difference.

The degree of violence is the difference - the only salient one as far as I'm aware but I'm open to correction on this point - between Pol Pot and Stalin. The latter killed more than the former, albeit by approximately the same means. However, for all practical purposes most reasonable people would categorise them in the same bracket, i.e. totalitarian tyrannical despots of a Communistic bent.

If it comes right down to it, arguing that dictator A killed more people than dictator B is merely talking telephone numbers - factually correct in a pedantic sort of way but a line of argumentation which completely misses what's most germane about such individuals. That, as far as I can see and as far as I understand, is the position that genghiscant is arguing from and which is being (again, I strongly suspect deliberately, for party political reasons) missed.
genghiscant

What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.

If I shuffled up to some of them one day & said that I believed implicitly that the moon is made of blue cheese, & I'd also got  an old book that states the truth of what I believe. I'd expect at least some people to take me seriously because some will want it to be true & others think the proof is in the old book.

The human capacity for self delusion is limitless.
The Boyg

genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.


And this is a problem for you because .............. ?
genghiscant

The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.


And this is a problem for you because .............. ?
You're all barking mad.
Shaker

genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.


And this is a problem for you because .............. ?
You're all barking mad.

It does rather remind of the quote, attributed to the psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, that if you talk to God it's called prayer; if God talks back it's called schizophrenia.
The Boyg

genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.

And this is a problem for you because .............. ?


You're all barking mad.


I'm sure you believe that. This is a problem for you because ........... ?
genghiscant

The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.

And this is a problem for you because .............. ?


You're all barking mad.


I'm sure you believe that. This is a problem for you because ........... ?


No problem for me............but would you give a reference to someone who claims to have conversations with nothing?

Same with people who claim to exist on a higher spiritual plain than ordinary folk. Scientologists, Mormons, Druids, Muslims or any other sect you'd care to mention, completely bats, the whole lot of you.
The Boyg

genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.

And this is a problem for you because .............. ?

You're all barking mad.

I'm sure you believe that. This is a problem for you because ........... ?

No problem for me.


OK, you've given the impression in this thread that you're quite concerned about this, but if you say that you're not then who am I to disagree with you.
genghiscant

The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
The Boyg wrote:
genghiscant wrote:
What they're shying away from, of course, is not what the differences are but rather what the similarities are. They're both convinced, against all logic, reason, evidence & experience that they receive personal & exclusive communication with their God.

And this is a problem for you because .............. ?

You're all barking mad.

I'm sure you believe that. This is a problem for you because ........... ?

No problem for me.


OK, you've given the impression in this thread that you're quite concerned about this, but if you say that you're not then who am I to disagree with you.


Quite.

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