thormas

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Everything posted by thormas

  1. My understanding is that teleology when it pertains to theology (or religion) is concerned with the purpose and design of the world. Believe mine is therefore on record.
  2. Rom - I must admit for me this was way too short and if I may say so the garden was barren: could have used more flowers. So much for serious dialogue..................oh well.
  3. Rom, Early Sunday: will read a bit later. As for flowery - eye of the beholder.
  4. No thanks Rom, I'm not the site summarizer-in-chief or even a deputy and they were discussion points. Yeah, you do want things only your way - so, right, fair enough. The discussion point are there and I would appreciate if you read what you suggested I include for ..........wait for it..............discussion :+}
  5. Sorry Rom, you suggested and I took the time to respond to that request. There for the reading, hardly a wall of text, appreciate the snakiness but still a dodge. Turn about is still fair play: don't start asking even more questions - respond or not!
  6. Sorry, should have been more clear. I reject happenstance as the reason for being, for creation. I totally accept happenstance in the sense that 'stuff' happens for which we are not responsible. Sort of reminiscent of Kushner's 'When Bad Things Happen To Good People.' As for the rest, a nice dodge especially when you suggest the topic. Besides, turn about is fair play: you ask and ask and ask (like above) but when asked...................nada.
  7. If you say so, who am I to disagree :+} But it could be an illusion - but on whose part??????
  8. Actually and sadly Joseph, you don't see the consequences of your own position for others. Your position, that you have no position on whether people deserve or don't deserve the tremendous suffering they endure, is an acknowledgement that some people, maybe everybody deserves suffering. If's possible.......you just don't know. Amazingly, you double down: the abused Nazi prisoner can refuse to accept his situation as reality? This is absurd on its face but even if, for the sake of argument, we go with it, what does this mean for an infant or a small child (maybe even a child through mid-teenage years) or a severely mentally handicapped person of any age? If the little girl repeatedly raped or the small boy beaten daily by a drunk, abusive father or any of the others only accepted 'what is' things would be 'mentally' bearable? Even as their bodies are abused beyond limits, their spirit destroyed by an inhumanity that overwhelms them, you would advise each, so young or incapacitated that could not possibly understand your advise, to accept what is and adjust their subjective mental constructs? Yet this position is not insensitive? I understand all too well - to my utter amazement! Now you give definitions? One worries because they are capable of and are compassionate. That worry leads to action, to caring for others. Merely imagine the worry you might have for a spouse, a best friend, a child - does this have any connection to caring for and extending care to them? Context Joseph, context. Jesus: most people understand this to mean that Love does not yet Reign (as one does in a Kingdom) in humanity, thus in this world as it now is. But, it should be remembered that for Jesus, the Kingdom was not another world, it was this world in which the Kingdom would be established, in which Love/God would be all. Things do change but there is no illusion: the caterpillar is real, it transforms and turns into a butterfly. This is not illusion, this really happens - ask a child. Most human being recognize the changing nature of things, but that is the nature of things, that is also their nature which they witness through childhood to adulthood, to middle age to old age and to death. It's not an illusion, it really happens, every day - ask a person. Paul: Paul also 'worried' and wrote about knowing the good and not doing the good, not having the strength to do it by himself. He saw that he didn't always do the good (how human is this insight?) - he desired the good, not that which was not good, i.e. evil/sin (in which he too often found himself part of). And Jesus himself is said to have opposed the evil (as opposed to good) temptations by Satan (don't take the story literally); he actively opposed and 'righted' what was considered evil (not good) by others of his day: he cured the blind, the lame, the 'possessed', the sick and the dead. Regardless, you need to finish Paul's quote: "If your brother is distressed by what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother, for whom Christ died.…" Wasn't there an issue in Paul's time whether one had to be Jewish - and accept all practices, including dietary restrictions - to be Christian? No Joseph, words never disturb me but how those words are used, how they influence or impact others, the tone or understanding they put forth in an entirely different issue. And your words and their context are quite clear. it seems you are disturbed by another questioning them. We don't know definitively, but there is a literal world of difference between the immediate, experiential knowing that the world is real and the intellectual construct that all is illusion. Pretty much ask any everyday (or even intellectuals) person.
  9. Rom, I didn't start a separate thread but did make comments on this. Thoughts?
  10. Joseph, by saying you can't (because of your subjective view) say whether or not people deserve the suffering they must endure, you are suggesting that some suffering might be deserved. Your position owns this. I am saying no one 'deserves' such suffering - not the mother dead in childbirth, the Nazi camp woman continually raped, the child abused, the wife beaten, the hurricane victim, the cancer victim and on and on. Whether you characterize it as a mental construct or illusion, you are telling people their suffering, in some cases their unrelenting agony, is not real. That if they only get their 'preconditions' in order, there would be no suffering. They not only suffer but you lay the responsibility at their door. A suffering free world is illusion of the worst kind, it is not reality. That the world suffers is an acknowledgement and acceptance of reality as presented. Going the illusion route ignores reality, blames those most in need and has no benefit. It is amazingly insensitive to state that "if one chooses to not accept what is - that seems to me to be a choice of no benefit. But each to his or her own choice." if the slave or Nazi death camp prisoner beaten to a pulp, castrated and maimed, only 'accepted,' only had the right precondition, it would be a great benefit ........but, hey, it's his choice. You use a Jesus quote and turn it so he advises us to not worry and care for his Father's people? Worry becomes 'what God (truly) prefers:' love. Your peace is not the Peace of Jesus. Joseph, you have moved from illusion to dreams. Now, it's all a dream? The rape of a child is no illusion, it is not a bad dream or a undigested morsel (as Scrooge suggests in the Christmas Carol) of food; it is real. This is just one example of totally undeserved suffering and depending on the age of the girl, she is not yet able to set the right preconditions would would have benefited her during the rape. Really? Sometimes we dream, hopefully we get the rest we need, then we wake to what is real, what needs our attention. The dream of MLK is much more valuable: what he called evil was evil and resulted in real suffering, it was no mental construct, no illusion, no dream - evil is real. I asked what kind of God is attached with this belief. You write of a God in whom I believe but your conclusions are not those I share or find in Christianity. I believe God is in whom we have our being and these things (evil, suffering, sin) do exist, are real. I do 'attribute' these things to God (see my post to Rom). I believe they are a necessary and a tragic consequence of the Love's creation of a creation 'other' then God, which then is and must be free (if God is love). But then we part ways: creation is real, the consequences, including great and undeserved suffering are real and God really is present in and through humanity to extend compassion, provide mercy, heal and enhance life amidst the very real suffering and joy of existence. Christianity accepts that 'this' is real; it is neither illusion or dream. The Christian story tells of this God, who so continually loves, that his modus operandi is incarnation, present in men and women (most evident in Christ) to be his presence in this real world. God is not an illusionist, this is no dream: God is real and creation is real. I take this as it is, your belief and I respect it as such. However, it neither resonate or makes sense to me; it does not resonate within the history of Christianity; and, it doesn't resonate with most of humanity. Simply, most people do not believe this is a mere dream.
  11. Really Joseph? You do know that by saying 'how can we judge' you are suggesting that people might indeed deserve the horrible suffering they experience be it caused by natural disasters, sickness or the evil of men. And you rationalize it with a claim of a limited view of our impermanence? Even if we admit we don't know it all, to even think sickness is deserved, or death by drowning or black slavery in the US is more than harsh. And what kind of God is attached with this belief? Of course we can judge - people don't ever deserve the Dante like suffering they experience in life. One could say the smoker is partially responsible for their emphysema, but do they deserve it? Even great swimmers can drown and the list goes on. If brought to its logical end, how could we ever demand justice - people might really deserve all that befalls them? Again, really, suffering is an illusion, It sure feels like suffering, sure feels like agony, like fear unto death. How are they addressed from the place of peace, you lost me there? But isn' that place also an illusion? And love? And peace? Joseph, some people are in such pain, such fear, such inhuman conditions that the suffering (mental anguish) never ends. It is the mental anguish that kills them before death comes. Nice comment on your pain or joy but most people would decide for joy and it might not matter when you're dead but it matters in the now. Please find me a human being that says I'll have the pain please (not as a sacrifice, not for another, just as a preference over joy or mere happiness). I do enjoy your poetic touch (a vapor) but but most of us would rather have our vapors suffering free. I have no issue with your, me or the next guy accepting an aliment that might eventually take us. However, it should be recognized that for some an aliment that causes agony beyond bearing, misery piled on misery, is beyond compare; some things are impossible to accept, impossible with which to deal - you are robbed of yourself, there is, in some real way, nothing left of you. I suggest again that for the slave, for the continually raped girl, the broken boy in the Nazi camps - the peace which should abide in all humans has been, in some real way, destroyed. No mental construct, no illusion, no vapors, no abiding peace - rather the real tragedy inherent in creation itself: a rupture in creation. One must worry about all who can't find peace (at least in their corner of the world). What God prefers is not God, it is love and we are only about the Father's business if we are worried for the other. This is both trust in God and love. In all my years, including teaching, my trust in God (or my peace) has never been at risk in the service of others. If not given, if hoarded, then and only then can it be lost. And sure they are in man's hands, we are the hands of God if we trust, if we love. And one must be attached to the world, to the living children of God but the attachment is made through love. What good is "joy and peace' if it does not have love; and, in deed, something is lost and something found. You have misunderstood me on undeserved suffering and judgement: simply horrific suffering is undeserved. We differ on trust in God. This is no dream, there is no pretend: I am real, you are real, he, she, it is real and it is no illusion :+}
  12. Really, I'm sure it is more than mere figments to most people, especially those who suffer. Further, it seems a denial of people's suffering.
  13. Joseph , it is not what I deem evil but what is indeed evil or if you prefer that which causes real and in many cases undeserved tragic suffering. And you can't have it both ways: subjective mental constructs one day, and the next acknowledging that suffering and/or evil is real and you do not wish to say it is not (real). Are they real to humanity or are they individual mental constructs and, if the latter, how can another empathize with what is someone's subjective construct? If they are 'subjective' constructs and not objective reality crashing down around their heads, why do they have to be addressed at all? And, some people are in so much pain they are incapable of addressing anything from a place of peace and Love; that ability has been lost. If someone is racked with cancer reminding themselves that life is temporal and we are travelers does nothing for their pain, isn't that similar to the 'old time religion' that had people keep their eye on heaven and not this world? You also seem to attempt to separate the death of the body from the 'real' person and suggest it might be wise to not attach themselves to subjective mental constructs. When the Nazis destroyed the Jews, when a tsunami killed helpless vacationers and villagers, when ISIS rapes the girls of a village they conquer - these are mental constructs? Most would and have said, this is reality and suffering run amok. Further, what mental construct make extermination worse? What mental construct make a mother's death in childbirth or the birth of a child without a brain, worse? What construct could make Hiroshima's suffering worse? We can do what we can, what we are willing to do to make better the world, but still (in spite of these efforts) how many millions of our fellow humans beings experience, in the world and throughout history, undeserved horrific suffering that robs them of their humanity before death ever comes? Sure some can come through the other side of suffering, some too can 'learn' from suffering - but not all, not nearly. Not all, not nearly all people can remain at peace with 'what we are dealt." For some/many, the short time allowed is a living hell, an unrelenting hell. In the examples I cite above, who are 'so-called victims,' who are the perpetrators? How can the people of natural disasters ( kid walking by the sea), of unexpected illness (even hitting the girl who lived the healthiest lifestyle), of terrorism, a simple family of 7) not be innocent? And who are the perpetrators of natural disasters and sickness? And how can a murderer or rapist be justified? There is beauty in creation and, at times and for some, it is a wonderful dance, yet not for all. For too many, there is totally undeserved tragic levels of suffering; for too many the universe does not dance in an orderly and balanced fashion. I am intensely curious about your position.
  14. Don't think I agree on this one. I'll leave the rust analogy to others but there seems to be a world of difference between basking on the beach with a flowery drink and dying of thirst in a desert. And not just a difference but an opposition: one is fun, life enhancing - the other is not fun and not only life denying (endangering). They indeed seem to bel different and opposite. Perhaps you can explain and provide examples. Also need clarification on this one: good and evil are or are close to illusions? So not real? Is all illusion, or close to it, in this scenario?
  15. Interesting interpretation: God is what God prefers?? Wouldn't mind the scholarly interpretation used (and for Paul also). Always helpful. Still believe love is more than mental acceptance or non-resistance and one wonders, given the history of humanity, what wiser choices in our evolution have been made. But here we disagree and you seem to move into a sometimes theistic defense that all is good - in spite of evil. Most people would argue and most scholars I've read would agree that evil, suffering and sin are not mere mental constructs but real. Cancers which can be horrible, diseases, natural disasters, the evil that men do to one another are so real that they destroy not merely life but the ability to have a truly human life. Suffering is real, some undergo horrific undeserved suffering that destroys them. To define them as subjective mental constructs is to diminish their 'reality' and the great suffering real people experience.
  16. In response, in order of your comments: - no, I didn't feel demeaned, I merely wanted to know the rules so I could fire back if allowed :+} - for most people, objective reality is not mere semantics; they know and know they know. - To clarify: I don't believe that God and the universe are one and the same, so I don't believe the universe is (only) love. I believe that the reason all exists is because of Love. Is it 'in everything?' Better to say, it is present to everything: it is available to all and waits for a response of free beings (see below). I get this for humanity, still working on a better insight into the rest of created reality but, as previously mentioned, I do accept that Being/God/Love 'lets be' even that speck of dust. BTW, I also allow that such an act of love creates (of necessity) a tragic situation in which suffering, evil and sin occur. This is a belief that resonates with me but I too have questions about the nasty parasites, cancers and the dust in the far reaches of the universe. Actually I think I have more questions and doubts around this subject that most (in part because theology is what I was educated in, what I did for a living and what continues to fascinate): that is why I read, think, rethink, read and on and on. It would seem that the let be (Heideggar, I believe) is a bit of an unusual take on love -but it works. - Try this and I mean it in all sincerely: when my wife and I had a daughter, she was created out of love, brought up in love, showered with love and will be to the end (or as Buzz says to infinity and beyond). However, in the moment we began to try, we were creating or allowing for a possibly tragic situation. She was born into this creation which is tragic: anything can happen and does: asthma, allergies, colds, chicken pox, cancers, careless drivers, hurricanes, that speck of dust that carries an infection, hurt by friends, hurt by the little red haired boy, experiencing the death of loved ones, the death of a beloved and ultimately the death of self. In a real sense, we did this! We knew this about creation but what choice did love have? Love creates "out of itself' the other, in her freedom, but such freedom (even with the conditions previously discussed on this site) is the only way for a being to be, to live, to truly have her life. The risk is for the child and also for the parent, the creators, who have opened themselves, as never before, to risk and to Life. Could it be otherwise? I don't think so. This is what love is, this is what love does: it gives itself away for the other. There is a part of me, a large part that lives in fear everyday even now that she is in her 20s. But there was no choice with love: it must go out from itself and create, grace an-other with existence, with Life yet in that moment the tragedy of creation is for evermore present. But to have loved, to have created her, to be there in compassion, to heal, to hold, to continually (hopefully) enhance life, to be the hand that is held, the kiss given and received, how could it not be done? It was done because we looked around and in spite of the tragedy of creation, we said, this is good and love did what it was. So I take this and begin to think on God. Why do we exist? Why create or why is there creation? I reject happenstance, so purposefulness is my option. And the only real purpose/reason I know is love: unbound, a poring out of love for the other. And, the tragedy of creation is God's fault, as mine is the life I gave my child - but love is omnipresent, it is 'there' not in spite of the parasites, the cancer, the space dust but present through humanity, through men and women, to love amidst the tragedy of creation until Oneness. The paradox is that God's omnipotence is not the power of domination, of control, of God experiencing existence (as if it is all about God) - it is, rather, the power (or weakness) that is love. It is not God that experiences existence (although I allow there may be something to this), it is that Love went out from Self so we, the other, can experience existence. Love, given its very nature, involves risk. God is not in the quicksand (see previous post) with us. Although we are 'of God,' we are other and therefore God can help. But there is no supernatural hand coming down from heaven. Rather, we, by responding to love, are the bodies, the flesh that makes the difference: the hand held, the kiss given, the door held open. Creation 'moves forward' by humanity incarnating divinity, by humanity being Love. The ancient Fathers called this deification. Yet the tragic structure, the undeserved suffering, the evil men commit- continues. So we must be about the business of Love. - This is not and there are no demonstrations, it is only a presenting and the hearer or reader must decide if it speaks to their experience. - I have not really concentrated much on love and mammals or other forms of life- short answer, I have always believed that the 'caring' evident in other forms of life are guided and realized by instinct and that all creation, to paraphrase Paul, groans in/toward fulfillment. That is it for now. - what causes belief? For me the answer is tied to the self-revelation or self-giving of God. Even with what I have said above, I don't see it as evidence. I believe that man is a self-transcending being, always reaching beyond, for more and I think for some this reach is met in faith expressions. I don't see it as evidence. What causes love? I know you might have an evidence based answer but, for me, the reach is met (surprisingly, amazingly, bewilderingly, unexpectedly but it is met). - How can one demonstrate or provide evidence for the accuracy of their belief? If it speaks to one'e experience, if it provides meaning and answer the age old questions all men (okay most men :+} ask; it is taken as one's own. If it doesn't, it isn't. This is also how we make a judgement on our belief. - I recognize that, for some/many, the problem of ‘evil’ is a problem for traditional and panentheistic gods. But for me, agnosticism and atheism do not answer the question of evil and don't have an answer to life. Why doe we exist? Their answer: I don't know or there is no answer yet they trudge on - to what, for what? If they laid down and quit it would be the same as if they lived till 90. If someone thinks it is courageous to continue to push the rock up one side, have it roll down and then push it up the outer side for all eternity, it is not. It still means nothing, no one knows and there is no God to rebel against; it is in itself and ultimately, a meaningless act . And existence doesn't care either, you were just happenstance. If you were, if you weren't - it is the same. Even for friends I love beyond measure, this stance - though theirs and thus respected, is beyond senseless (to me).This may well be their belief, but then, now, in the future, whenever, so what? And the pantheist God shares the quicksand, so then what? - I have provided a partial answer on the problem of evil, perhaps we can dive onto it in the more at some point.
  17. Thanks for acknowledging your mistake since the word was Doh, not Duh, yet who know which Homer you meant in the first pace. Could have been Simpson and a misquote or the Greek and a mistaken citation. Love the cartoon though.
  18. Rom, If you cite Homer you really should provide the reference. Regardless, hasn't it been discussed before (actually by JosephM) that one should not demean or ridicule another. However, if that no longer applies, let me know as I can 'communicate' on a number of different levels :+} Regardless, to your comments: "There is no proof in this world and frequently people seem to think that as a consequence it is reasonable to have faith in any old thing." Most people take for granted that there is evidence in/for the world: there is an objective world 'out there' and the proof is it's still there when we wake. Most rely on this 'objective reality' on a daily basis to function. In addition, believing there is no proof must be an extreme agnosticism - one that would leave its few adherents cowering in the corner (there being no proof, no evidence that it exists either) as one just doesn't know .....anything. As for "faith is any old thing" - again demeaning and full of ridicule which seems to be so un-PC. Next you have not make the case against Love - you have touched on the issue of theodicy (mentioned previously) and come up with a typical (and quite honestly) a very understandable response. This is one of the most complicated issues in religion and I, for one, have read on it for years. You make two mistakes if, as it seems you are, suggesting this is my view: first I do not equate the universe with God (this is pantheism) so I do not believe a 'holistic panentheism can be attributed to this universe.' And second, it is your 'belief' and only a belief, that because there is much in this universe that cannot be easily coupled with love (I would go further adding in direct opposition to Love), it follows that God is not Love. Many 'believe' the opposite. Merely because you state it, does not make it so, You state your 'belief' that some of the higher mammal attribute loving bits to life while it is obvious that others (including classic and contemporary theists) would neither character love as such or consider love as merely a human (and higher mammal) contribution. Again we have your belief vs. others: my point all along. There is no proof but there is reliable evidence, ok. But I was making a simple statement about believing that loves that leads to action and you introduce infidelity. My point stands, lets discuss infidelity at a later date because, as you said, you are getting frustrated. Then you move to "God being somehow equivalent to love then I think it would wise to get some corroborating evidence for a fully panentheistic view of this, bearing in mind the horrible diseases, parasites, hunger and destruction that routinely visit this world." However, you have missed the point that has been made: there is no evidence and no proof there is a God, the universe is God or for or against the panentheistic understanding of God. It is belief, as your stance is also a belief. I would be glad at some point to discuss theodicy: the reality of cancers, natural disasters, tragic, undeserved suffering and human wickedness (sin) in creation and the belief in the 'omnipotence and Love' of God. But, again, the point is that even with such a discussion, there will be those who accept (ie. believe') that God is love and those that will reject it. To look for evidence (not to mention proof) for or against God is to not recognize that all the religious are matters of belief. As an example, I could easily make an argument against the classically understood theistic God and provide 'evidence' that such a supreme being, above and beyond the universe, but who is both omnipotent and all loving 'does not exist' or, better and more accurately, that I don't believe or accept such a God. Two points, the presence of evil can be 'explained' (and I'm not saying it is a satisfactory explanation for me or all others, but definitely for some) in classic theism and I do not believe in a such theistic God. We might be striving for a better understanding of our existence but how is 'accuracy' measured in such a endeavor (an endeavor of faith)? I respect the agnostic and the atheist to name two but I am not either: they do not resonate and provide no insight/understanding that would (since both are statements of faith) compel me to action, to live a certain way. And I recognize they feel the same - so what? Diversity in Unity. I am not out to convince them, I am wiser than that as I, again, recognize and respect the beliefs of others; the faith of others cuts it for me. Classical theism does not only concern itself with "the nice bits" - that is why the entire concept of theodicy exists: it tries to grapple with the nice bits and the bad stuff. However, I agree that the classical theistic explanation and even many contemporary theodicies are, for me, inadequate. It would seem also, that the universe as God has not been explained adequately or justified either. I do emphasize with a God who is with us in our suffering but suffering himself poses problems and one must ask how we move from or beyond suffering to the greater One that has been discussed in these pages. Certainly, God can't help because he is the quicksand with us, his struggle would only pulls us in deeper. And if he can help then God must be a 'bit' more than the universe if he can pull us our and ultimately achieve the One. I cannot equate God with the universe, however the God who is Love - therein are possibilities, I believe, which can and do resonate with many. You raise a great and profound question whether all that is, is God experiencing existence. And who know, it could be, perhaps we just are. But it (God) could be Love which creates that which must be 'other' to truly have (their) life; and, God's power, if Love, could not be absolute because love's power is always interactive/relational: it is offered and waits for a response. There is tragedy to creation and it is inevitable (as it is to all relationships created in love). In the experience of many, perhaps even most human beings, it is love, and only love that has the power to create, be merciful, be compassionate, heal and enhance human life. And some of us, seeing what Love is and how it gives Life, say 'God.' If we are, this is the why and how, if the universe moves to Unity (One), this is the power which enables it to become and BE - not one becoming one, but many becoming one. Love empowers the many to become one; it is choice, response. Proof, evidence? I go back to my opening post in this series: "Just as agnosticism is a 'belief' of which one can not be certain, so too the same must be said of all 'beliefs' such as theism, pantheism, panentheism, Buddhism and Taoism."
  19. Rom, I will read this more fully tomorrow. However, for now, what does it matter what the topic is about? All are welcome to Dialogue and we have seen those with many different beliefs comment on such things as Christianity, so who cares if some of those same people comment on agnosticism? You are not the only agnostic, you seem to assume others do not know about agnosticism on a personal level and/or that they don't know and aren't sympathetic with the agnostic beliefs of those who are close to them. Plus you still can't recognize some fun even when accompanied with a :+}. I mean I was talking about movies, including the Johnny Depp 'classic' The Astronaut's Wife :+} :+} :+}
  20. We must have been typing at the same time, I missed this post. But good point as it also shows there can be faith (even Love) without proof or 'evidence.' Who can prove another loves them? The evidence can lie - I mean I have seen enough movies where the evidence points to her loving the guy and it turns out she wants his money, or plans to have revenge, or perhaps the Astronaut is not the person the 'Astronaut's Wife' thinks he is (He's an alien). I mean this stuff happens:+}
  21. Oh well. I was using what I consider both a classic and contemporary definition of faith. Regardless of differences, most can probably understand the point I was making in drawing a parallel between love of spouse and Faith. And, you did make my point: belief leads to action. In the case you cited, it leads to the gathering of evidence, but for others, even after the evidence, since people can make mistakes, if one believed she was still the one (and she felt the same)...................that belief would again lead to action.
  22. Feel free to offer context and your answer. We also live in an objective world that we are born into and must acclimate to in order to live. The world, as objective reality presents something to us also. Human history and human longing might provide insight into whether Jefferson's truths are self-evident. But that is a future discussion. My point is simply that religious truth is subjective, it is belief. Belief is something that compels action. If you fell for the red headed girl and believed, really believed (in the very fiber of your being) she was the one, then you must act and in acting, in living and loving her, you will know (if) that the red haired girl is the one. It is then, self-evident. This is subjective in the sense that to 'know' you, the subject, must extend or risk yourself. Faith is, for me, the same: if I believe, really believe that God is, or the Meaning of All is X - then, I must act and in acting, in living X, I will know (if) that X is the Be All and End All (God/Meaning). For me the X is Love and in living love, compassionate concern for humanity, for creation, I will know, even in the midst of the evil that humanity does, even in the midst of the fragility and suffering that we experience and witness in creation, (if) that love is IT; I will know that Love creates, heals and enhances Life. It is then self-evident (to me). I must risk myself to know - and to be. As you say, some musings.
  23. Sorry Joseph, it may be self-evident to that particular person but it doesn't follow that it is evident in and of itself. And I guess the same could be said of other statements about the universe or life: defined in such away that it is self-evident to the one who has defined it. I agree that definitions of God result in numerous labels - to me, this simply suggests that we are talking about beliefs not self-evident truths. I believe in God and completely agree that belief is not mandatory. And not to worry, I never lose sleep: this is all very engaging, causes me to think and rethink positions and ........is fun.
  24. "If god and the universe are synonymous..." this is a belief statement: it is an assumption of and belief in some kind of pantheism - which is a belief. But I do agree that panentheism (along with theism, gnosticism, Buddhism, etc.) is not evident, any more than pantheism. Also, saying God is the universe is adding a special property to the universe? I think it is safe to assume that agnostics and most other people are convinced (i.e sure) there is a universe. It is also safe to assume that an agnostic does not know what to believe (or not) about the universe concerning the issue of God. My experience is that agnosticism (as we are using it) typically refers to issues of religion, specifically God and that these agnostics are not agnostic about everything, including the fact of the universe. Different pantheists may mean different things (semantics) when they define the universe as god but when any or all of them say the universe is God, that is still a statement of belief. This is not really different, in kind (both are beliefs), than theists saying God is love. Furthermore, some present day theists might indeed share some elements of classical theism but how they understand those elements is what makes the difference. Examples include power, incarnation, divinity, humanity, love, judgment, mercy and on a and on. Regardless, in all cases (theism, pantheism, deism, etc.), we are still talking about beliefs - and everybody is entitled to one or a few. Regarding religious understandings, I'm sure some things were not understood. As mentioned above, classical theism went or is still going through a renaissance (or reformation) in part because of a changing world view and new, different insights lead to new and different belief statements. (Some) Modern theists and panentheists are not labelling the incomprehensible as God, rather, to use a specific example, reflecting on the human experience of love and the recognition that love is not dominance but relational or interactive (offer and response) they are rethinking what it means to say God is omnipotent and that God is Love. They are not saying that God is love because something is incomprehensible, they are saying it because they 'believe' it provides the most powerful insight into the meaning of creation and how one should live.
  25. Yet the question remains, is God, however defined, self-evident. One can believe there is a universe (it is evident) and not believe it is anything more than happenstance. It is not evidence of or that it is 'God." It is fair to say that atheism was originally against the idea of a theistic God. However, the term is now broader than traditional theism, especially in the secular west, and many atheists would be against any notion of God. Even the agnostic simply doesn't know what if anything is evident when it comes to God or meaning. As a side note, for traditional or untraditional theists, to define the universe as God would require a great deal more evidence (that will never be forthcoming). Such a statement about the universe is anything but evident and one wonders what the evidence is, who amassed it and who decided it is valid and not wishful longing. Also, for theists and others, it is not evident that we hold to a duality that might not be real; theism accepts diversity in unity and that we are 'other' than God. BTW, since individual and societies hold to it, duality seems more evident. Now, for someone to say they believe the universe is God is totally different. I would be curious to discuss this with them and understand the ethic that follows but I would place it alongside theism, deism, gnosticism, Buddhism, panentheism and even pantheism (this last which may or may not be in agreement). The universe defined as God would not be 'evident' to most adherents of the other isms listed above. All are beliefs and might be subject to change or even discarded (like classical theism) with a changing world view and greater insight/learning. Even Rom's closing questions give pause: Do the "the bits that were once incomprehensible cease to be God as we gain understanding" does that mean those bits of the universe were never God, so the (entire) universe is not God? And does our physiology impact whether or not "there is a God?"