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romansh

Agnosticism

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Posted (edited)

I don't see how that is the case Joseph as there are atheists, agnostics, secularists and others for whom God is not self-evident - and these people, like believers, are from all walks of life. This is the case regardless of how one defines or redefines 'God.' 

I too am comfortable saying, "to me God is..." but again that is not the case for others. Some would argue that "for them there is no God, no presence" subtle or otherwise, that is evident or self-evident.

 

Edited by thormas
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Thomas,

Let them argue all they want. It seems to me it is the definition of God that makes a person an atheist or agnostic. Change the definition to that which is evident and the argument disappears. Even Rom believes there is a Universe. If you defined the Universe as God, it seems to me he would not require further evidence.

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Posted (edited)

27 minutes ago, JosephM said:

pf Thomas,

Let them argue all they want. It seems to me it is the definition of God that makes a person an atheist or agnostic. Change the definition to that which is evident and the argument disappears. Even Rom believes there is a Universe. If you defined the Universe as God, it seems to me he would not require further evidence.

True ... but I would call it the universe primarily for clarity. (Thormas note the lower case u).

In a Joseph Campbellian way I think a lot of folklore and myths point to the universe as god, but we as a society and as individuals hold on to duality. Sure there is much that is not understood in this universe. But that is OK. I don't have a need to revere the bits that I don't comprehend.

The bits that were once incomprehensible cease to be God as we gain understanding? Perhaps we don't have the physiology that allows to accurately understand the universe does that mean there is a God?

Edited by romansh
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10 hours ago, JosephM said:

Thomas,

Let them argue all they want. It seems to me it is the definition of God that makes a person an atheist or agnostic. Change the definition to that which is evident and the argument disappears. Even Rom believes there is a Universe. If you defined the Universe as God, it seems to me he would not require further evidence.

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?" 

 

 

 

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Is there evidence that the universe is happenstance? Yes ... quantum phenomena.

If god and the universe are synonymous then yes there is evidence that there is a pantheistic god. If however we wish to add special properties like Love or the en in panentheism then I would agree it is far from evident.

An agnostic might not be sure (know things are evident or not) but she may be sufficiently convinced that there is a universe but understand there is no conclusive proof. In fact she would understand looking for proof is nonsense.

To define the universe as god is simply a semantic issue. To define the universe as God with some magical added property is the tricky bit. And from my perspective a remnant from the more orthodox beliefs that are in society.

No it means somethings were not understood and may remain so. But labelling things incomprehensible as God does not make much sense to me. And God not making much sense is God also does not make sense. ad infinitum

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Posted (edited)

"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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by thormas
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The point was not meant to say that the universe is God but that God could be defined in such a way by a person that it is self evident. It is the definition of God in my view that creates the abundance of labels held.  Anyway, there is no need to prove anything to anyone. Belief in a God is not mandatory. :) 

We each make our own, whether using the word God/god or none based on science , myth or personal experiences. To me, it is sufficient to say that that which is manifested is brought forth from the unmanifested and God is self evident to me in both.  i see Order and Design where others may see Chaos, i see this as a world of conditions and effects with cause coming from the unseen. Science seems to say that 'nothing' can't become 'something' so perhaps there must be something that exists by its own power that makes everything else to exist ......  one could say that would be God. Then again, each to his/her own as it is possible to live in peace with whatever label you wish to wear. Perhaps existence only comes from consciousness? If so, try not to lose any sleep over it! :):lol:

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Thormas

What is the difference between a thought and a belief?

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21 minutes ago, thormas said:

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. 

We of course live in a subjective world of sentient beings so everything is basically subjective in nature. Even Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence said " we hold these truths to be self-evident". Howbeit , not all in the world agree even on those he spelled out as self evident? It seems to me, all we have is subjective truth, absolute truth, i believe will not be found in this world either by science or religions. I'm not sure "it is evident in and of itself" being alone, has any meaning . :)

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, romansh said:

Thormas

What is the difference between a thought and a belief?

Feel free to offer context and your answer. 

 

2 hours ago, JosephM said:

We of course live in a subjective world of sentient beings so everything is basically subjective in nature. Even Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence said " we hold these truths to be self-evident". Howbeit , not all in the world agree even on those he spelled out as self evident? It seems to me, all we have is subjective truth, absolute truth, i believe will not be found in this world either by science or religions. I'm not sure "it is evident in and of itself" being alone, has any meaning . :)

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.

 

Edited by thormas
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On ‎2017‎-‎08‎-‎10 at 1:26 PM, thormas said:

 ... Faith is, for me, the same:...

For me faith is a little different. 

If I were to say I believe my wife is not having an affair, I could cite a whole bunch of evidence to corroborate my belief.

On the other hand if I were to say I have faith my wife is not having an affair, this will be despite not having a lot of evidence to support this view or perhaps evidence to the contrary.

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1 hour ago, romansh said:

same:...

 

1 hour ago, romansh said:

For me faith is a little different. 

If I were to say I believe my wife is not having an affair, I could cite a whole bunch of evidence to corroborate my belief.

On the other hand if I were to say I have faith my wife is not having an affair, this will be despite not having a lot of evidence to support this view or perhaps evidence to the contrary.

I would say faith is believing your wife is not having an affair even though there is evdence that she is.

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Posted (edited)

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.

Edited by thormas
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14 hours ago, Burl said:

 

I would say faith is believing your wife is not having an affair even though there is evdence that she is.

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:+} 

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, thormas said:

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:+} 

I must admit I am experiencing some frustration here thormas.

  1. As we are on a thread about agnosticism and you are discussing this with an agnostic, the comment Who can prove another loves them? leads me to the Homeric response of Duh! 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.
  2. Case in point being Love is God. There is much in this universe that cannot be easily coupled with love. And if this true then a holistic panentheism cannot be attributed to this universe. Sure we can have loving bits attributed to life, primarily some of the higher mammals.
  3. While I would agree evidence can be misleading. Some reasons we might consider are a ) the data that the evidence is based on is just plain wrong, b ) The data that points to the evidence also points to other hypotheses and c ) a proponent does not have the skill and perhaps the wherewithal to actually go from data to evidence. Nevertheless if data and evidence are handled well it can lead to accurate descriptions of the universe.

So plainly we can love an unfaithful wife that is not the problem here and that we can have faith where it has no business being is not a surprise. But should the wife being faithful be important to us then it, I think, would be wise to get some corroborating evidence, one way or the other. Similarly 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.

This is of course is based on an assumption that we are striving for a more accurate description of our existence and that being more accurate is somehow important to us. Faith as a method does not cut it for me.

Edited by romansh
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On 07/08/2017 at 11:05 PM, romansh said:

Now I personally would not call uncertainty,God, Love or Being.

 

I agree with you Rom and it would seem to me that many are prepared to call the 'nice bits' in life God, yet somehow the bad stuff that happens is not God.  For me, it is yet to be explained adequately how this is justified.  The closest I could come to accepting this as 'God' would be if everything was God - the good, the bad and the ugly.  If every breath we take, if every cell that gets cancer, if every suffering child, if every blissful marriage was considered God, then fair enough.  Yet, I could not equate that God to 'love', more like simply 'existence', warts and all.  I do wonder if 'God' could be our entire existence as a whole and all (both the animated and the inanimate) is in fact 'God' experiencing existence.  That sort of understanding would satisfy me about pain and suffering as well and love and cuddles - it is just 'God' experiencing existence.  Which maybe ties in with Joseph's thinking somewhat - we all just 'are'. 

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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 :+}  :+}  :+} 

 

 

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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. 

15 hours ago, PaulS said:

I agree with you Rom and it would seem to me that many are prepared to call the 'nice bits' in life God, yet somehow the bad stuff that happens is not God.  For me, it is yet to be explained adequately how this is justified.  The closest I could come to accepting this as 'God' would be if everything was God - the good, the bad and the ugly.  If every breath we take, if every cell that gets cancer, if every suffering child, if every blissful marriage was considered God, then fair enough.  Yet, I could not equate that God to 'love', more like simply 'existence', warts and all.  I do wonder if 'God' could be our entire existence as a whole and all (both the animated and the inanimate) is in fact 'God' experiencing existence.  That sort of understanding would satisfy me about pain and suffering as well and love and cuddles - it is just 'God' experiencing existence.  Which maybe ties in with Joseph's thinking somewhat - we all just 'are'. 

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."

 

Edited by thormas
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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.

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that one should not demean or ridicule another.

It was not my intention to demean, my apologies if you feel demeaned.

Most rely on this 'objective reality' on a daily basis to function. In addition, believing there is no proof must be an extreme agnosticism

No not really. I could be a semantic issue here. Weak agnosticism might claim I don’t know and I don’t know what you might know. Having said that I might be skeptical that others claim they know. They might think or believe they know.

- 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. 

Here you conflate no proof and no evidence as the same thing. When dealing with the real world all we have is inductive logic where we always have alternative possibilities. Proofs might be found in deductive logic but here we must agree on the axioms and agree that the logic used is sound and that logic can be used.  You have never heard anyone argue that one can’t prove there isn’t a god and therefore it is OK to believe?

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.'

I have read this through several times. Just to be clear do you think Love is in everything? So we find Love in nasty parasites or are you suggesting Love is only found in some behaviours? I am not sure how there is love in a speck of dust out in deep space. Unless you are using some unusual definition of Love.

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,

Well you have not demonstrated in a convincing way that love can be found in malaria for example. Sure some people care for those infected with malaria, but who or what actually Loves malaria?

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.

This makes no sense to me, thormas. Firstly, I did not quite say what you said. I said Sure we can have loving bits attributed to life, primarily some of the higher mammals. So it is your belief we do not attribute Love to mammals and life in general?

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.

You miss the point completely here thormas … the discussion here was faith versus agnosticism. It still is sort of.

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. 

If there is no evidence for a God what causes this belief? And if a lack of belief is a belief, then this is some interesting semantic jugglery, at least I believe so.

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 or non-religious stances are matters of belief.

So you believe. Is your belief accurate? How do we adjudicate our beliefs? We can argue about what is the quickest route between point A and point B. We can gather evidence look at cellphone responses, travel the routes ourselves. Ask others, ask Google. Now we can never be sure in any given instance which will be the quickest, but inductively we can make a more accurate choice.

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 others) in classic theism and I do not believe in a such theistic God. 

For me, the problem of ‘evil’ is a problem for traditional and panentheistic gods that has not been explained away to my satisfaction. This may well be a belief, but then so what? Feel free to start a thread on this subject, should you wish.

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. 

This fair enough.

 

Edited by romansh
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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.

 

Edited by thormas
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Hopefully, not to muddy the water but ....

Agape (Ancient Greek ἀγάπη, agápē) is a Greco-Christian term referring to "love; the highest form of love, charity", and "the love of God for man and of man for God". Not be confused with philia, brotherly love, it embraces a universal, unconditional love that transcends, that persists regardless of circumstance.

 

The word was taken from secular ancient Greek.

In secular ancient Greek, 26 (agápē) focuses on preference; likewise the verb form (25 /agapáō) in antiquity meant "to prefer" (TDNT, 7). In the NT, 26 (agápē) typically refers to divine love (= what God prefers).

 

It is used in the phrase God is Love in the NT.

It literally means God is what God prefers. Man has ascribed God preferring only what man prefers as good but that is not the secular original Greek meaning of the word.

At least that is what i have found. Love to me includes as Paul said what we call the good, the bad, and the ugly.:) 

It seems to me, what we have at any given moment is God's preference or else it would not be. Love in action is unconditional mental acceptance or mental non-resistance of WHAT IS from which we then can allow wiser choices to surface in our evolution that promotes life as a whole. All judgments made such as cancer or suffering being evil are just subjective mental constructs at least in my mind.

Joseph 

 

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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. 

 

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