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Let’s Have a Dialog—ie., a Conversation, not a debate—About the god-hypothesis
Posted: 13 February 2012 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Is there a doctor in the house? I mean a doctor of divinity   grin 

But seriously, I will admit that I was born in January, 1930—one year after Martin Luther King—and that, over the years, I have done some serious reading in the literature of philosophy of religion. That is, I have read some philosophy, pneumatology, psychology, theology—especially the panentheism/unitheism of Alfred North Whitehead,  and the like.

I have also read what some atheists—past and present—including the New Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and the like have had to say. I always try to read with an open mind filled with lots of questions and respect for all sincerely held opinions. I also try to converse with the same from of mind. With this bit of background, let’s have a dialog about what I call G-0-D.

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Posted: 13 February 2012 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not sure how to have a dialogue about God without it becoming a debate, because many of us here (myself included) do not believe that God exists. We believe that God is simply a human construct or idea.

There are other notions of god (I say a lower case ‘god’), such as Spinoza’s or Einstein’s, where god is not a person, cannot respond to prayer, and is of no religious importance. This god is roughly identical to the laws of nature. That’s fine for purposes of philosophy but it certainly isn’t the god that most religious folk believe they are speaking to at night.

Perhaps I’m not the person you’re looking to chat with. If so, so be it. But your OP has me confused.

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Posted: 13 February 2012 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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OK, then. Let’s begin at the beginning:
1) State your complete hypothesis with all terms clearly defined.
2) Give all your evidence for the hypothesis.
3) Explain how this evidence supports your hypothesis.

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Posted: 13 February 2012 07:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I can engage in a friendly dialog about God.

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Posted: 13 February 2012 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Quoting RevLGKing:

let’s have a dialog about what I call G-0-D.

  I suppose I have to treat you with respect since you were born eight months before I was.  I also have spent quite a few hours reading on the subjects you mentioned.  The problem is that from MY viewpoint, I could just as easily consider your statement with the final reference changed to Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Zeus, etc. 

If you think a discussion on any of them doesn’t make sense, you will understand the thinking of an atheist.

Occam

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Posted: 13 February 2012 08:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The existence of God is an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

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“What people do is they confuse cynicism with skepticism. Cynicism is ‘you can’t change anything, everything sucks, there’s no point to anything.’ Skepticism is, ‘well, I’m not so sure.’” -Bill Nye

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Posted: 13 February 2012 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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dougsmith - 13 February 2012 04:50 PM

I’m not sure how to have a dialogue about God without it becoming a debate ...

Thanks, Doug, for your response. Feel free to call me, Linds (short for Lindsay). Let me assure you that I am not opposed to having a healthy debate, especially when it happens under a good moderator and with rules like Roberts Rules in place.

It is just that, IMO, in forums such as this, when we write about touchy subjects—religion, politics, economics, sexuality and the like, they usually stir up all kinds of negative passions. Debating usually makes for bitter, not better, feelings all around. Rather than debate, I like to have a dialogue. Why? Because it usually encourages shy and cautious posters to participate, especially when I make it abundantly clear that I am not here to proclaim The One and Only Truth—of any kind—delivered from the gods once and for all time.

I have experienced so many good topics ruined by those of us who find it difficult to resist being dogmatic; and there are always too many who enjoy operating the flame throwers.

MY FIRST EXPERIENCE ON THE WEB—not a happy one
Speaking of which, the first forum in which I ever participated (that was back in 1997), which was focused on the economy,  was taken off line by its sponsor—himself a kind and reasonable type. He was forced to close it down because a small clique of flame-throwing operators simply refused to turn off the flames (put downs, insults, vulgar rants, rages, diatribes, vitriol and you name it ) aimed at any target they they chose. Being kind to one another and keeping the peace was not on their mind. They loved the Brass-knuckles rule, not the Golden One. Tragically, one of the participants, in his middle years, actually died, suddenly with a massive stroke. Another group, within the forum, broke away and formed their own forum. Naturally, they had learned that strict rules were necessary.

WEALTH WISDOM AND WELL-BEING
Ironically, the forum that got closed had a good format. In the introduction they used the letters WWW—about building Wealth (finance and economics) , Wisdom (philosophy, religion, pneumatology) and Well-Being (healing of body, mind and spirit). WWW was actually sponsored by a well-respected and experienced Canadian financial journalist, who invited me to participate. I did—in the philosophy and religion section—until it closed.

Of course, I respect your honest opinion when you say

because many of us here (myself included) do not believe that God exists. We believe that God is simply a human construct or idea. There are other notions of god (I say a lower case ‘god’), such as Spinoza’s or Einstein’s, where god is not a person, cannot respond to prayer, and is of no religious importance. This god is roughly identical to the laws of nature. That’s fine for purposes of philosophy but it certainly isn’t the god that most religious folk believe they are speaking to at night. Perhaps I’m not the person you’re looking to chat with. If so, so be it. But your OP has me confused.

This may come as a surprise to you: Though I have been a life-long student of theology—On a Scholarship, I even got to spend two years (1954 & 1955) doing post-graduate studies in theology at Boston University—I do not think of a god who exists. My undergraduate work was in psychology/philosophy in Canada, at http://www.mta.ca  and the Atlantic School of Theology. I was ordained in 1953.

In my opinion, a god who exists and has dimensions—that is, one who has weight, one who is subject to and who occupies the space/time continuum is, IMO, an idol—the kind we create in our own image.  Fortunately, I was quite young when I figured that one out—not long after that I knew that St.Nick (Santa Claus) was a “jolly old elf” . Ho, Ho, Ho!  LOL
BTW, have any of you read anything about panentheism?
——————————————-

[ Edited: 02 July 2012 02:03 PM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 14 February 2012 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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RevLGKing - 13 February 2012 11:13 PM

Speaking of which, the first forum in which I ever participated (that was back in 1997), which was focused on the economy,  was taken off line by its sponsor—himself a kind and reasonable type. He was forced to close it down because a small clique of flame-throwing operators simply refused to turn off the flames (put downs, insults, vulgar rants, rages, diatribes, vitriol and you name it ) aimed at any target they they chose. Being kind to one another and keeping the peace was not on their mind. They loved the Brass-knuckles rule, not the Golden One. Tragically, one of the participants, in his middle years, actually died, suddenly with a massive stroke. Another group, within the forum, broke away and formed their own forum. Naturally, they had learned that strict rules were necessary.

Our rules are formed largely to combat this kind of personalized flaming. Though arguments do get heated at times, we strive to keep them focused on the topics rather than on the people.

I am also aware of large forums that either went away or were made private. One problem is always competent moderation. Moderation that is too heavy-handed is just as damaging as moderation that is too light-handed. On the one hand you get charges of censorship, on the other you get anarchic flame wars. It makes it easier when the forum is relatively small.

But there is no such thing as perfect moderation. One only does one’s best.

RevLGKing - 13 February 2012 11:13 PM

This may come as a surprise to you: Though I have been a life-long student of theology—On a Scholarship, I even got to spend two years (1954 & 1955) doing post-graduate studies in theology at Boston University—I do not think of a god who exists. My undergraduate work was in psychology/philosophy in Canada, at http://www.mta.ca  and the Atlantic School of Theology. I was ordained in 1953.

In my opinion, a god who exists and has dimensions—that is, one who has weight, one who is subject to and who occupies the space/time continuum is, IMO, an idol—the kind we create in our own image.  Fortunately, I was quite young when I figured that one out—not long after that I knew that St.Nick (Santa Claus) was a “jolly old elf” . Ho, Ho, Ho!  LOL
BTW, have any of you read anything about panentheism?
——————————————-

I think we may be using the word “exists” in different ways. None of the major branches of theology (AFAIK) believe that a personal God exists somewhere particular in space, has weight, etc. I think the most appropriate understanding of a personal God is that he exists in time, but not in space, but that he is able to act anywhere in space. (That’s part of what it would be to be omnipotent). This is the sort of God I do not believe exists. That is, he is a fiction.

I am perfectly willing to countenance the existence of abstracta, which are objects like numbers or laws of nature that exist without spatiotemporal properties. Some identify god with those abstracta, but to do so is to deny that god is a personal God, and hence to deny that god has any religious importance.

Re. pantheism, I have read a bit. If there is some topic in pantheism you wish to discuss, please feel free.

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Posted: 14 February 2012 05:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Welcome to CFI Linds,

Your OP sounds encouraging. I am not a scholar in theology, thus I speak only from what I intuitively feel as logical in the face of what we know to be true.

I looked up the word Panentheism and I believe that it generally identifies the Universe as existing within a greater Unity (God). I also read that Hinduism incorporates panentheistic concepts.

So before discussing particulars, would you give us/me your informed opinion on the general concept.

[ Edited: 14 February 2012 05:32 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 14 February 2012 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Linds,

I imagine your god is the same one as Tom Harpur’s, right? If so, you know you’re only a step away from losing your faith for good and probably feel very uncomfortable by that thought. Is this why you don’t want to engage in a debate?

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Posted: 15 February 2012 11:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Write4U - 14 February 2012 05:29 AM

... I looked up the word Panentheism ... and I believe that it generally identifies the Universe as existing within a greater Unity (God)... So before discussing particulars, would you give us/me your informed opinion on the general concept.

=========================
Write4U, thanks! At the risk of being misunderstood, I hope I am not being too simplistic.

Years ago, even as a young teenager—having experienced much pain, suffering and the deaths of many close relatives and friends during the Great Depression and WW 2, etc—I became very skeptical—and I still am—about the supernatural and human-like ‘God’ of traditional Christianity—the one and only god,  who is supposed to hear all our prayers and solve all our problems for us. Then I became aware of the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and one of his modern followers, Albert Einstein, who I think of as panENtheists, or even unitheists. Later, I will mention Alfred North Whitehead and other panentheists.

Perhaps we can now add Stephen W. Hawking and other new physicists, who express the idea that THERE SEEMS TO BE A PROFOUND, MYSTERIOUS AND SPIRITUAL UNITY OF LIFE, WHICH LINKS US ALL.
Check out:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/

Then I discovered that Orthodox Jews—when they write about god in English—do not use the proper noun, God. To avoid anthropomorphism and idolatry in the mind, they write the divine name as G-d, which in Hebrew is Yahweh—never vocalized by Jews. For Jews, the dash symbolizes what is commonly called spirituality and the simple desire in most people, I hope, to be moral, ethical, social and loving persons.
Me? with great respect,  I build on the thinking of Orthodox Jews and others. I hope they do not mind. Instead of God,  I write the divine name as G-0-D. Note that: instead of -O- I uses -0-. It is an acronym and a short way of saying: There seems to come from out of nowhere—this is why I use -0- the zero—that which can Generate Good, Organize Opportunities & Deliver that which Delights, if we so desire and WILL (agape-love) good to be. I think of the EN in panentheism as standing for that which is everywhere, now—the holograph we call life.

BTW, I also strongly feel that we are free to will and do that which is Gruesome, Odious & Diabolic. Interestingly, the Greek for ‘devil’ is DIABOLOS—that which separates, splits and divides us, from ourselves from within, and from others—the root cause of so much pain, suffering and utter chaos. It translates the Hebrew and Arabic SHATAN.
———————————-

[ Edited: 15 February 2012 11:36 PM by RevLGKing ]
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Posted: 16 February 2012 12:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Finally a voice of reason, in the midst of endless quotations from the bible by prostletizers. I hope this will allow a serious discussion by more learned minds than mine.
I have no particular philosophical or physics qualifications, thus I speak from intuition and hopefully reasonable logic.

The reason why I consider myself an atheist is only because I cannot conceive of an intentional intelligent supernatural being. From your post I gather that your interpretation allows for this greater Unity to be of a metaphysical (but natural) and not necessarily a supernatural state of being (correct me if I am wrong).

IMO the scientists you cited do acknowledge a higher, possibly metaphysical, order than that which is expressed in a purely material way. They speak of harmonic strings, virtual particles, causal dynamic triangulation (CDT), and the fundamental geometric “fabric” of space.

But I also believe that they reject the common supernatural interpretation of most religious dogma. One of my favorite physicists is David Bohm, who postulated an Implicate and Explicate order, where he proposed a state of Pure Potential (the implicate) which is expressed in reality as the explicate. This is my personal metaphysical interpretation of “that which may become reality”, which is one of the definitions of Potential. Another definition of Potential is “a latent excellence”. Of course there are many more definitions of the word, which are used in science and in everyday life by all.

“The Explicate Order, weakest of all energy systems, resonates out of and is an expression of an infinitely more powerful order of energy called the Implicate order. It is the precursor of the Explicate, the dreamlike vision or the ideal presentation of that which is to become manifest as a physical object. The Implicate order implies within it all physical universes. However, it resonates from an energy field which is yet greater, the realm of pure potential. It is pure potential because nothing is implied within it; implications form in the implicate order and then express themselves in the explicate order. Bohm goes on to postulate a final state of infinite [zero point] energy which he calls the realm of insight intelligence. The creative process springs from this realm. Energy is generated there, gathers its pure potential, and implies within its eventual expression as the explicate order.”
Will Keepin, David Bohm, Noetic Science Journal

http://fusionanomaly.net/davidbohm.html

To me this is the neutral, metaphysical equivalence to the concept of an intentional, emotional, supernatural god. As to the moral implications, I believe that natural selection (Darwinian) includes the emergence and evolution of Morality. That which cannot adapt to it’s environment eventually perishes.
With that I yield.

[ Edited: 16 February 2012 02:15 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 16 February 2012 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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RevLGKing - 15 February 2012 11:21 PM
Write4U - 14 February 2012 05:29 AM

... I looked up the word Panentheism ... and I believe that it generally identifies the Universe as existing within a greater Unity (God)... So before discussing particulars, would you give us/me your informed opinion on the general concept.

=========================
Write4U, thanks! At the risk of being misunderstood, I hope I am not being too simplistic.

Years ago, even as a young teenager—having experienced much pain, suffering and the deaths of many close relatives and friends during the Great Depression and WW 2, etc—I became very skeptical—and I still am—about the supernatural and human-like ‘God’ of traditional Christianity—the one and only god,  who is supposed to hear all our prayers and solve all our problems for us. Then I became aware of the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza and one of his modern followers, Albert Einstein, who I think of as panENtheists, or even unitheists. Later, I will mention Alfred North Whitehead and other panentheists.

Perhaps we can now add Stephen W. Hawking and other new physicists, who express the idea that THERE SEEMS TO BE A PROFOUND, MYSTERIOUS AND SPIRITUAL UNITY OF LIFE, WHICH LINKS US ALL.
Check out:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/

Then I discovered that Orthodox Jews—when they write about god in English—do not use the proper noun, God. To avoid anthropomorphism and idolatry in the mind, they write the divine name as G-d, which in Hebrew is Yahweh—never vocalized by Jews. For Jews, the dash symbolizes what is commonly called spirituality and the simple desire in most people, I hope, to be moral, ethical, social and loving persons.
Me? with great respect,  I build on the thinking of Orthodox Jews and others. I hope they do not mind. Instead of God,  I write the divine name as G-0-D. Note that: instead of -O- I uses -0-. It is an acronym and a short way of saying: There seems to come from out of nowhere—this is why I use -0- the zero—that which can Generate Good, Organize Opportunities & Deliver that which Delights, if we so desire and WILL (agape-love) good to be. I think of the EN in panentheism as standing for that which is everywhere, now—the holograph we call life.

BTW, I also strongly feel that we are free to will and do that which is Gruesome, Odious & Diabolic. Interestingly, the Greek for ‘devil’ is DIABOLOS—that which separates, splits and divides us, from ourselves from within, and from others—the root cause of so much pain, suffering and utter chaos. It translates the Hebrew and Arabic SHATAN.
———————————-

Panentheism is in fact, no different from any other theism; it is only a more “woolly” view of a transcendental being.  I’m not sure if Einstein could accurately be called a Panentheist, maybe a Pantheist (one who believes god and the universe are the same thing.) Spinoza,and Einstein both expressed an admiration for the apparent structure of the cosmos; which they considered to be the closest thing to “god”, but not actually God.

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Posted: 16 February 2012 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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mid atlantic - 16 February 2012 07:35 AM

Panentheism is in fact, no different from any other theism; it is only a more “woolly” view of a transcendental being.  I’m not sure if Einstein could accurately be called a Panentheist, maybe a Pantheist (one who believes god and the universe are the same thing.) Spinoza,and Einstein both expressed an admiration for the apparent structure of the cosmos; which they considered to be the closest thing to “god”, but not actually God.

Right. Spinoza is considered philosophically to be an atheist, and he and Einstein agreed about God.

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Posted: 16 February 2012 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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RevLGKing - 15 February 2012 11:21 PM

Perhaps we can now add Stephen W. Hawking and other new physicists, who express the idea that THERE SEEMS TO BE A PROFOUND, MYSTERIOUS AND SPIRITUAL UNITY OF LIFE, WHICH LINKS US ALL.
Check out:  http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/
———————————-

Hi Rev, do you have a source for that Hawking quote? N.B., Hawking has also said that women are the greatest mystery of the cosmos.  tongue wink

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Posted: 16 February 2012 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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It seems to me that the idea of a personal God is an anthropomorphic concept which I cannot take seriously. I feel also not able to imagine some will or goal outside the human sphere. My views are near to those of Spinoza: admiration for the beauty of and belief in the logical simplicity of the order and harmony which we can grasp humbly and only imperfectly. I believe that we have to content ourselves with our imperfect knowledge and understanding and treat values and moral obligations as a purely human problem — the most important of all human problems.

Linds, I enjoy reading your posts and it sounds as if you will be an interesting contributor here. Welcome! Piggybacking on Doug’s posted site, I found the quote by Enistein that I ran into a few years back. After careful study from the historical perspective (just learning about philosophy from the moderators and fellow posters) I came to share this view of religion. I guess I could call myself a fellow Spinozan. Looking forward to your insights.


Cap’t Jack

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