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AletheiaRivers

Panentheism

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Thanks everybody!!

 

I think the cell in a body idea makes panentheism work. My cells are part of me, but they do their own thing; and sometimes do it to my detriment. Part of me, but only recognizable as me if closely examined (dna??? :P ) - not obviously me on sight. That analogy seems to fit.

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Alethia,

 

Thank you!!!

 

You've managed to make explicit the hidden assumptions behind so many of our conversations. I think this really gives us a opportunity to examine the relationship of God/dess to the world. I'd like to begin here:

 

#1 God is alone. God is all that is. There is no "where" God is not. There is no "thing" for God to relate to. God does not change.

 

#2 God creates/manifests finite beings within Godself.

 

There is a huge problem of logic in going from #1 to #2 which goes all the way back to when humans first began asking these kind of questions. If the universe is rational, both statements cannot be true. If both statements are true, the universe is irrational and truth loses its meaning. There are many ways this can be shown but I'll try to stick to just one.

 

We can immediately see that these two propositions represent two modes of existence.

 

#1 = Necessary existence. This is implied in "God is..." There is no explanation for God's existence; nothing "causes" God to exist.

 

#2 = Contingent existence.

 

How does that which exists necessarily create contingent existence?

 

All the properties of necessary existence must also be necessary. In other words, for God to exist as stated in #1, essence and existence must logically be synonymous.

 

Proposition #2 states that God creates. This must be a necessary property of God's existence. God cannot BE creative and then NOT BE creative. Necessary existence cannot NOT BE.

 

If, therefore, God creates, he must do so necessarily. This means that God can never notcreate.

 

Therefore, God can never exist in a state in which there is no creation.

 

Therefore, #1 cannot be true.

 

If there is something here that is not understandable or doesn't make sense, please ask me about it, or challenge my premises. It won't hurt my feelings at all to discover I've erred in my thinking.

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Panta - great post...

 

"All the properties of necessary existence must also be necessary. In other words, for God to exist as stated in #1, essence and existence must logically be synonymous. "

 

 

"If, therefore, God creates, he must do so necessarily. This means that God can never notcreate.

 

 

I (with my husband) can create children. This property is necessary to human beings as a group in order for the group to continue. I may or may not create. I do not constantly create. Wouldn't God have the same leway?

 

Or, perhaps more in line with previous analogies... People can grow their fingernails to long curled entities; most people choose not to; some people do.

it is not necessary.

 

People can create fat cells. It is not necessary (perhaps inevitable...)

 

God can create things that are part of "Him" - but why does that have to lead to

 

"#1 God is alone. God is all that is. There is no "where" God is not. There is no "thing" for God to relate to. God does not change.

 

#2 God creates/manifests finite beings within Godself. " ???

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A nice stattment re panentheism & its interelationship with Christian mysticism can be found at, (needless to say, also references Eckhart):

http:www/frommin.com/faith/godinall.html

 

Take care, Earl

Oops, sorry, didn't post it correctly:

 

http://www.frimmin.com/faith/godinall.html

Earl

 

 

Earl,

 

Excellent site. Not a full explication of panentheism of course, but if others will take the time to read it, I think it answers a lot of the questions asked here.

 

Thanks!!

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Cynthia,

 

Excellent questions! I really appreciate your post because it lets me know the weakness of my communication.

 

I (with my husband) can create children. This property is necessary to human beings as a group in order for the group to continue. I may or may not create. I do not constantly create. Wouldn't God have the same leway?

 

Yes, this is a property of human beings. Panentheism insists, in fact, that creativity is a necessary property of reality. But panentheism (or process theology) does not believe that Alethia's proposition #1 is true. Therefore, there is no logical absurdity in the idea that God creates. But, you hit on something very profound or important to understand. Whatever God creates must necessarily be found in God. As Whitehead put it: "God is not to be treated as an exception to all metaphysical principles.... He is their chief exemplification."

 

But, let's go back to proposition #1 and see why such a God cannot create.

 

First, it is required that we reason from the properties of necessary existence and not from the properties of contingent existence. In other words, we are going to get into trouble if we argue that because we human beings can create (and we have contingent existence), therefore God (the kind of God as presented in #1) can create.

 

So, if #1 is true, what can be said about God? Alethia mentioned a few things:

 

1. God is alone. If God is alone, the sole existing Being, such a God is not related to any other being - because no other being exists. Therefore, the essence of God (what God IS) cannot be relational. The desire for relationship cannot even be part of God's essence, because it would be a desire for that which has no basis for existence since the cause of all existence must be found within God and desire is for that which one does not have.

 

2. God does not change. If God does not change, immutability (changelessness) must be God's essence. (This is affirmed by Classical Theology.) This is true for at least two reasons:

 

a. A being can only be what it is. (The Law of Self Identity)

b. A being can not change into a being it is not and be, at the same time, what it is now and what it was. (The Law of Contradiction: A cannot be non-A)

 

God cannot be both a God creating and a God not creating and yet BE the same God. The concept of a changing being is logically absurd.

 

OK, you might argue then, that human beings change. However, process philosophy would say that this is a mistaken idea. This is what I have been struggling to get across for some time now - but I've been using the term "substance" rather than "being". There is no human "being" that creates now and then does not create - for the same reason as I noted above. The human "being" which creates now is not the same human "being" which is not creating. Every change is a new "being". Thus reality is a process consisting of "becoming" and "being".

 

Another way of approaching this would be to look at the nature of possibilities and actualities. But I've already tried to do this awhile back and glazed too many eyes. :(

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All the properties of necessary existence must also be necessary. In other words, for God to exist as stated in #1, essence and existence must logically be synonymous.

 

Proposition #2 states that God creates. This must be a necessary property of God's existence. God cannot BE creative and then NOT BE creative. Necessary existence cannot NOT BE.

 

If, therefore, God creates, he must do so necessarily. This means that God can never notcreate.

 

This sounds a little like the reasoning used to "prove" that the perfection of God also means God cannot change because perfection, by it's very definition (it's property), means that one can not get more or less perfect because that means one was not PERFECTLY perfect to start with. Perfection = no change.

 

I KNOW this is a theological mistake and I agree.

 

However, like Cynthia said, just because God might WANT to create doesn't mean he HAS TO. I don't see how the "trait" of creativity necessitates "creating" anymore than the trait of "perfection" necessitates no change.

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PS:

 

I understand the logical necessity of "creativity requiring creation". However, I do get frustrated when the conversation ends up consisting of logical versus illogical arguments about God's nature.

 

I'm willing to allow that God's nature is BEYOND that which we can conceive. Process doesn't seem willing to allow this. Heck, philosophy in general doesn't seem willing to allow this.

 

I can say, after all the logical arguments and suppositions, in the spirit of Via Negativa, that God is ALSO NOT what we have argued/reasoned God to be. Logical contradiction? Maybe. I think this was what Fred meant when he said he'd be just as careful about saying that process is the primary mode of God's existence, as he would about saying substance is.

 

God is this and God is that, but "Neti, Neti", not this, not that. I think this is why I'm a mystic at heart (although you'd never know it based on the conversations I have had here :rolleyes: ). Most times mysticism and philosophical reasonings support each other. Sometimes they contradict each other. At those times of contradiction I don't think it's illogical to say of God, that God MIGHT be both. :)

 

PPS:

A being can not change into a being it is not and be, at the same time, what it is now and what it was.

 

I don't believe that God, if he existed alone, and THEN created, would BE the same being he was before he created and ALSO a new being. I intended my "creation story" to relate the idea of SYNTHESIS.

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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PPPPPPPSSSSSSS :P :

 

In reading and re-reading and re-reading Stanfords Online Philosophical Encyclopedia article on Process Theism, I can honestly say that I agree with 99% of what I read. However, what I seem to disagree with are points that might be HUGE and irreconcilable. Perhaps I can come to agree with the other 1% in time? I'm not sure.

 

I don't think what I've got rattling around in my brain is actually at ODDS with Process Theism, but I do wonder if YOU presuppose that what is going on in my head is at odds with Process Theism? Perhaps we could agree that I believe Process thought to be correct and you could help me clarify a few things? :D I don't have any desire to "challenge your premises". I would like to exchange ideas and discuss, but I'm not interested in debate. ;)

Edited by AletheiaRivers

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PPPPPPPSSSSSSS  :P :

 

In reading and re-reading and re-reading Stanfords Online Philosophical Encyclopedia article on Process Theism, I can honestly say that I agree with 99% of what I read. However, what I seem to disagree with are points that might be HUGE and irreconcilable. Perhaps I can come to agree with the other 1% in time? I'm not sure.

 

I don't think what I've got rattling around in my brain is actually at ODDS with Process Theism, but I do wonder if YOU presuppose that what is going on in my head is at odds with Process Theism? Perhaps we could agree that I believe Process thought to be correct and you could help me clarify a few things?  :D I don't have any desire to "challenge your premises". I would like to exchange ideas and discuss, but I'm not interested in debate.  ;)

 

Alethia,

 

Disagreement is good! Especially if it leads to better understanding. As Whitehead stated:

 

"There remains the final reflection, how shallow, puny, and imperfect are efforts to sound the depths in the nature of things. In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly."

 

Lord save me from folly!!

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Earl:

 

I really like that websight. BroRog mentioned it on one of the threads discussing panentheism as well. I especially appreciate the following quote:

 

All of these concepts point to something inexpressible—it's important not to latch onto a particular theory of reality and miss the Reality itself. Yet the mind yearns to understand something of the dance of the God who is beyond all, and the manifest Creation.

 

I constantly wage war with myself regarding this. I latch onto a theory of reality/God as being "the most true". Then I experience God in a different way and realize that God is MORE than that which I reasoned She must be.

 

I also really like this quote:

 

No view of God is larger than the panentheistic view. All other theisms (deism, theism, polytheism, animism, pantheism, atheism) are fragmented theologies compared to panentheism. This is the ground for an inexhaustible faith-that God is present right now, in every cell of our bodies, in every beat of our hearts, in every person, in every star, in every loving thought, birthing every particle of every atom of the entire Creation into a constant stream of existence, the invisible Nothing and Nowhere that brings forth Everything and Everywhere. God in all things and all things in God invites wonder, and wonder invites all to touch God.

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Wow - great thread. I think that as we worship God with our minds we can remember the ancient Hebrews who would not call God by name... because it would limit "Him"... If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him... if you experience "folly", take a breath - God is BIG. There's a great song...

 

Your love is deep

and Your love is High

Your love is long

Your love is wide

 

Deeper than my view of grace

higher than this worldly place

longer than this road I travel

wider than the gap you fill.

 

 

Check out the stars tonight... soooo biiiiiggggggg :)

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Just ran across this wonderful piece by the late Bede Griffiths, the Catholic monk that spent decades in India & was an early proponent of what I call interreligious practice. in it he speaks of applying eastern notions to Christian doctrine & specifically speaks of panentheism. Could just have easily posted this link on the "Christian hybrids" thread. In fact, would love to see a subforum here permaently dedicated to that-but that's my personal interest! :) I'm just that kinda guy: i hang out at a buddhist forum too & often there talk Christianity & when I hang out @ Christian sites, talk buddhism-frankly, find that the meeting of East & West gives me a richer appreciation of spirituality, (though probably neither camp is that happy with me :lol: )

 

http://www.monasticdialog.com/a.php?id=83

 

This site is also one of the better ones re interreligious dialogue. have a good one, earl

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Earl, I don't think you'll have any problems talking about Buddhism here! I agree that we should have a permanent subforum to other belief systems. (There are one or two other liberal/progressive forums with such ongoing discussions.

 

 

--des

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Ok, I think that free will makes us separate from God because, at the simplest level, if we were the same as God how could we have a different will?

 

My thought is: "Who says they are different? What if human will IS the same as God's will? - FREE."

 

Can God choose NOT to love? Does God have free will? Is "Will" something that is objectively possitve or negative or is it a neutral state that gives the ABILITY to choose?

 

If God is indwelling in me, as a separate being, then parts of me can be unGodly and parts of me Godly dependent on my choices and behaviors.

 

I'm not quite sure what that means, but it did make me think:

 

1) Are the "parts" of you that are Godly (good) only Godly because God makes it so?

2) Are the "parts" of you in which God does NOT indwell bad because of God's not dwelling there?

3) Wouldn't God's indwelling force God's will upon you DESPITE God being seperate from you?

4) How is it POSSIBLE for God to indwell in humanity and still call humanity SEPERATE? Either way, God is IN creation.

 

These are questions my hubby and I have been pondering too. I'm really enjoying discussing them. :D

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Ok, I think that free will makes us separate from God because, at the simplest level, if we were the same as God how could we have a different will?

 

My thought is: "Who says they are different? What if human will IS the same as God's will? - FREE."

 

Can God choose NOT to love? Does God have free will? Is "Will" something that is objectively possitve or negative or is it a neutral state that gives the ABILITY to choose?

 

If God is indwelling in me, as a separate being, then parts of me can be unGodly and parts of me Godly dependent on my choices and behaviors.

 

I'm not quite sure what that means, but it did make me think:

 

1) Are the "parts" of you that are Godly (good) only Godly because God makes it so?

2) Are the "parts" of you in which God does NOT indwell bad because of God's not dwelling there?

3) Wouldn't God's indwelling force God's will upon you DESPITE God being seperate from you?

4) How is it POSSIBLE for God to indwell in humanity and still call humanity SEPERATE? Either way, God is IN creation.

 

These are questions my hubby and I have been pondering too. I'm really enjoying discussing them. :D

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I'm willing to allow that God's nature is BEYOND that which we can conceive. Process doesn't seem willing to allow this. Heck, philosophy in general doesn't seem willing to allow this.

 

I'm not ready to concede this - if it means that the universe is essentially irrational.

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Why is the human intellect the standard of rational and irrational? I am sincere, not snotty - promise :D

 

There are light, sound, and particle waves that we know about that we cannot perceive or completely know (since by observing we change them). Does that make it irrational? I have to assume that there are lots of things in the world (let alone universe) that I cannot perceive and will not ever know. My dog can't see color (so they say :) ), but she can smell and sense lots of things I can't. I don't see how that has anything to do with rational vs irrational. ?????? Look forward to your reply when it seems obvious!!!

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I'm willing to allow that God's nature is BEYOND that which we can conceive. Process doesn't seem willing to allow this. Heck, philosophy in general doesn't seem willing to allow this.

 

I'm not ready to concede this - if it means that the universe is essentially irrational.

No longer remember who coined the phrase, though one Ken wilber liked to repeat that we have "three eyes" with which we see Reality: the eye of the flesh, the eye of the heart, and the eye of the spirit. "tis the latter cateofry that apples: "irrational?" No. "Transrational?" Yes. Again to quote my favorite Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart:

 

"God is nameless, for no man can either say or understand aught about Him. If I say, God is good, it is not true; nay more;I am good, God is not good. I may even say, I am better than God; for whatever is good may become better, may become best. Now God is not good, for He cannot become better, He cannot become best, for these three things, good, better, and best are far from God, since He is above all. If I also say God is wise, it is not true; I am wiser than He. If I also say God is a Being, it is not true; He is transcendent Being and superessential Nothingness. Concerning this St. Augustine says: the best thing that man can say about God is to be silent about Him." Gotta love the heretic! ;) Take care, Earl

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I'm willing to allow that God's nature is BEYOND that which we can conceive. Process doesn't seem willing to allow this. Heck, philosophy in general doesn't seem willing to allow this.

 

I'm not ready to concede this - if it means that the universe is essentially irrational.

No longer remember who coined the phrase, though one Ken wilber liked to repeat that we have "three eyes" with which we see Reality: the eye of the flesh, the eye of the heart, and the eye of the spirit. "tis the latter cateofry that apples: "irrational?" No. "Transrational?" Yes. Again to quote my favorite Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart:

 

"God is nameless, for no man can either say or understand aught about Him. If I say, God is good, it is not true; nay more;I am good, God is not good. I may even say, I am better than God; for whatever is good may become better, may become best. Now God is not good, for He cannot become better, He cannot become best, for these three things, good, better, and best are far from God, since He is above all. If I also say God is wise, it is not true; I am wiser than He. If I also say God is a Being, it is not true; He is transcendent Being and superessential Nothingness. Concerning this St. Augustine says: the best thing that man can say about God is to be silent about Him." Gotta love the heretic! ;) Take care, Earl

Sheesh, sorry re all the typos! Too bad there isn't spell check here as you can see I have typing dylexia-fingers don't find the keys my mind tells them to. Guess gonna have to take the time to start proof-reading every post before i post it! :o See ya, Earl

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Ken Wilber has also said this:

 

But there is one item we should perhaps keep in mind as we moderns attempt to assess those ideas: the great metaphysical systems were, in the last analysis, interpretive frameworks that the sages gave to their spiritual experiences. These schemes, such as the Great Chain, were interpretations of living experiences—they were not some sort of fixed, rigid, ontological grids that are true for all eternity. If, in the following, I question the adequacy of some of these interpretations, I am not at all questioning the authenticity of the experiences or realizations of these great sages. I am simply suggesting that, as evolution itself continues to move forward, new horizons can be used to recontextualize and reframe these experiences in interpretive meshworks that are more adequate in the light of modern and postmodern contributions, so that the net result is something of an integration of the very best of premodern, modern, and postmodern forms of Spirit's own unfolding.

 

 

If the best we can do is to remain silent about God, and Meister Eckart and St. Augustine knew this, why didn't they do so?

 

Would you deny that these men had a worldview from which they interpreted their experiences of God?

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Ken Wilber has also said this:

 

But there is one item we should perhaps keep in mind as we moderns attempt to assess those ideas: the great metaphysical systems were, in the last analysis, interpretive frameworks that the sages gave to their spiritual experiences. These schemes, such as the Great Chain, were interpretations of living experiences—they were not some sort of fixed, rigid, ontological grids that are true for all eternity. If, in the following, I question the adequacy of some of these interpretations, I am not at all questioning the authenticity of the experiences or realizations of these great sages. I am simply suggesting that, as evolution itself continues to move forward, new horizons can be used to recontextualize and reframe these experiences in interpretive meshworks that are more adequate in the light of modern and postmodern contributions, so that the net result is something of an integration of the very best of premodern, modern, and postmodern forms of Spirit's own unfolding.

 

 

If the best we can do is to remain silent about God, and Meister Eckart and St. Augustine knew this, why didn't they do so?

 

Would you deny that these men had a worldview from which they interpreted their experiences of God?

Actually, those old dead church guys did speak plenty re God, albeit with prose poetry and frankly, when Wilber discusses the final stage in his grand theory of psychospiritual development, that's about all he tends to do as in "through the eye of spirit, the Kosmos shines forth brightly, a thing of beauty and wonder in every gesture, ornaments of one's own deepest being, testaments to one's own primordial purity. And in the eye of spirit, we all will meet, in the simple endless outflowing of this and every moment...in the vast expanse of all space and the radical freedom of what is, and all the waves and streams become finally irrelevant in the radiance of just this." Only kind of words i think that can be used to attempt to describe the Ultimate, the Absolute, the Uncreated, is poetry. I'd say Eckhart & Wilber in discussing this level of realization sound pretty similar. take care, Earl

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Actually, those old dead church guys did speak plenty re God, albeit with prose poetry and frankly, when Wilber discusses the final stage in his grand theory of psychospiritual development, that's about all he tends to do as in "through the eye of spirit, the Kosmos shines forth brightly, a thing of beauty and wonder in every gesture, ornaments of one's own deepest being, testaments to one's own primordial purity. And in the eye of spirit, we all will meet, in the simple endless outflowing of this and every moment...in the vast expanse of all space and the radical freedom of what is, and all the waves and streams become finally irrelevant in the radiance of just this." Only kind of words i think that can be used to attempt to describe the Ultimate, the Absolute, the Uncreated,  is poetry. I'd say Eckhart & Wilber in discussing this level of realization sound pretty similar. take care, Earl

 

I can't quite figure out where Wilber is going but he seems to be moving more and more to a better developed Process Theology than exists at Claremont perhaps. He's moved away from the Perennial Philosophy, he's moved away from Transpersonal Psychology, and the last thing I've seen him to say is that EVERYTHING can be explained by the existence of sentient holons and their perspectives. He's mentioned in several places that he accepts Whiteheads philosophy almost 100%. I suspect that his idea of Spirit is a hangover from his Buddhism which in turn is a hangover from the pantheism of Hinduism.

 

Anyway, our passions can be expressed in poetry in ways which cannot be expressed by philosophy. We can conceptualize beauty but art expresses it. Art can also express things in the imagination which do not exist in reality. The "Absolute" does not exist except in imagination.

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I'm willing to allow that God's nature is BEYOND that which we can conceive. Process doesn't seem willing to allow this. Heck, philosophy in general doesn't seem willing to allow this.

 

I'm not ready to concede this - if it means that the universe is essentially irrational.

 

I'm not asking you to concede anything Panta.

 

I'm willing to allow that God is BIGGER than any idea or ontology that I come up with. I don't see how that is irrational. I'd call it humility, actually.

 

I believe that Neoclassical Theology is closer to truly describing God's nature than Classical Theology was or is. However, I have a different starting point for my ontology than Hartshorne did. That's not to say my starting point might not change, but for now it "resonates" and I'm going to work with it for a while.

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Alethia,

 

Yes, I think I understand. It takes awhile to work out the SEEMINGLY irrational components of our faith.

 

It was this and the ineffable pantheistic God that Earl was referring to that I was reacting to:

 

I can say, after all the logical arguments and suppositions, in the spirit of Via Negativa, that God is ALSO NOT what we have argued/reasoned God to be. Logical contradiction? Maybe.

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