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Humanity And The Divine


Adi Gibb
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Hi everyone,

 

At the last meeting of the progressive faith group I run our guest speaker was a published author of two books on Paganism, and is a Pagan and a Witch himself. It was a fascinating presentation, needless to say, but one thing struck me in particular. The speaker was passionate about the notion that we are the Divine, and the Divine is us. He is a hardline pantheist, among other ists and isms, but one thing he was adamant about, we have the same power and the same potential as the Divine. This began me thinking about a discussion I had a while ago, and which I thought I would raise here. It centres on a question: If humanity didn't exist, would the Divine? This can be reversed, of course, but the ultimate question is are we and the Divine so inexorably linked that one could not exist without the other? My personal initial reaction to that is no. I would say that the limitess Divine is just that, and whether we walked and breathed on this planet, the limitless Divine would still 'be'. I see more power in this Divine than in one that is simply an emanation of being human. Yet, I must say, that emanation is quite a beautiful notion and one which, to a degree, I also hold to. Yet again one could go around in circles, but I am very curious to hear some other views.

 

Cheers.

 

 

Moved from Progressive Christianity section to debate and Dialog 8/12/09 by JosephM (Moderator)

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Hi everyone,

 

At the last meeting of the progressive faith group I run our guest speaker was a published author of two books on Paganism, and is a Pagan and a Witch himself. It was a fascinating presentation, needless to say, but one thing struck me in particular. The speaker was passionate about the notion that we are the Divine, and the Divine is us. He is a hardline pantheist, among other ists and isms, but one thing he was adamant about, we have the same power and the same potential as the Divine. This began me thinking about a discussion I had a while ago, and which I thought I would raise here. It centres on a question: If humanity didn't exist, would the Divine? This can be reversed, of course, but the ultimate question is are we and the Divine so inexorably linked that one could not exist without the other? My personal initial reaction to that is no. I would say that the limitess Divine is just that, and whether we walked and breathed on this planet, the limitless Divine would still 'be'. I see more power in this Divine than in one that is simply an emanation of being human. Yet, I must say, that emanation is quite a beautiful notion and one which, to a degree, I also hold to. Yet again one could go around in circles, but I am very curious to hear some other views.

 

Cheers.

 

Welcome back Adi,

 

A very interesting question as are all your topics. When the speaker said "we have the same power and the same potential as the Divine", it seems to me that it has validity from a certain perspective only and it may not be the one the speaker is using. When one uses the word 'we' and relates to the ' Divne' , one has already drawn a dividing or separation line. If the speaker is speaking of 'we' collectively (humanity) as form then it seems to me we could not exist without the Divine since form comes out of and is maintained by the the substrate of the formless which is the essence and they seem to me to be one and the same. This is a paradox. One has to then ask the question "Who are we?" or more properly, "Who am I" . In my experience, utimately, one will come to the conclusiion that there is no 'we' and that the identification with the i of form is a misidentification of form by form and an illusion. As to the question of " If humanity didn't exist, would the Divine?" The question itself is hypothetical and could not be answered from the perspective of the created. The real question is "Does the Divine exist?" And the answer to that is self-evident.

 

Just a view for consideration,

Joseph

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Adi, Joseph,

Thanks for the opportunity to think. Adi, I see two questions in your post. It may be worth answering them separately.

 

[quote name=Adi Gibb' date='12 August 2009 - 12:34 AM'

 

timestamp='1250055248' post='18170]

 

[Do] we have the same power and the same potential as the Divine?

 

Are we and the Divine so inexorably linked that one could not exist without the other?

 

To think about the second question first --

 

There is a transcendent nature and an immanent nature of God. The primordial (transcendent) God continues without respect to creation or us. (Whatever we say or name is not it.) The consequent (immanent) nature of God does not exist without creation. The purpose of creation becoming is relationship with immanent (consequent) God.

 

I think if we insist on "we" as in homo sapiens, then, No, "we", only, are not inexorably linked. Creation becoming is. To the extent that we are part of creation becoming then we are linked with immanent God. Immanent God is completed in us and we are completed in God.

 

Is this an unequal relationship? It might be but I don't know. I have on the stove hood the following quote from Whitehead about dual transcendence:

 

It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God is Many.

It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God as that God is immanent in the World.

...

It is as true to say that God creates the World as that the World creates God.

 

Process and Reality 1978

 

I have it on my stove hood because I am not sure what it means but I think it speaks to the first question: Do we have the same power and potential as God? Whitehead seems to describe these activities as equal but there may be room to talk about the scope of the World's action and the scope of God's action; both essential but of different scope.

 

Joseph raised a third question

 

[quote name=JosephM' date='12 August 2009 - 07:23 AM'

 

timestamp='1250079792' post='18171]

The real question is "Does the Divine exist?" And the answer to that is self-evident.

 

This should probably have been the first question. I don't know if the question is answerable. Joseph, how is it self-evident? Is it the evidence of the world: the beauty, the love, ... or other than that?

 

Since it is the first time I have said some of this tomorrow I may disagree with it.

 

Dutch

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(snip)

 

Joseph raised a third question

 

 

 

This should probably have been the first question. I don't know if the question is answerable. Joseph, how is it self-evident? Is it the evidence of the world: the beauty, the love, ... or other than that?

 

Since it is the first time I have said some of this tomorrow I may disagree with it.

 

Dutch

 

 

Hi Dutch,

 

The question needs no answer because it is self-evident. Just for clarification....

self-ev·i·dent (sebreve.giflfprime.gifebreve.gifvprime.gifibreve.gif-dschwa.gifnt) adj. Requiring no proof or explanation

 

You asked how is it self-evident. It is necessary to take it in context with the rest of my paragraph which read...

 

This is a paradox. One has to then ask the question "Who are we?" or more properly, "Who am I" . In my experience, ultimately, one will come to the conclusion that there is no 'we' and that the identification with the i of form is a missidentification of form by form and an illusion. As to the question of " If humanity didn't exist, would the Divine?" The question itself is hypothetical and could not be answered from the perspective of the created. The real question is "Does the Divine exist?" And the answer to that is self-evident.

 

When you realize the answer to "Who am I", all questions disappear and you experience a knowing that is self-evident, (requires no proof or even belief) that only existence is possible and that there has, is, and shall ever-be only One. And then in my view, the statement you quoted...

 

"It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God is Many.

It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God as that God is immanent in the World.

...

It is as true to say that God creates the World as that the World creates God.

 

will have meaning to you.

 

Just one mans words on this,

Joseph

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest billmc

This is some deep stuff here and I'll probably drown if I try to wade too far out into it. But I'll share my thoughts nonetheless and see if it contributes to the conversation any.

 

1. I think the categories/descriptors of human/divine are too rooted in ancient dualism to be of much modern use. The ancients did tend to believe in the separation between the gods and mankind, between the immortals and mortals, between the all-powerful and the limited. Ironically, the gods were given very humanlike powers, just to the nth degree. So the gods were not so much seen as unlike humans as they were seen as superpowerful humans.

 

2. The Jesus story challenges this ancient dualism. While I know the nature of Christ was settled by the early Church in order to unite the churches, it nonetheless tries to counter dualism by insisting that Jesus was both human AND divine. But for people who hold to dualism, they have to choose that Jesus was divine (the conservatives) OR that he was human (the liberals). Dualism doesn't offer much middle ground.

 

3. My personal thoughts on this, however, is that humanity and divinity is not dualist, but scaler. In fact, I would say that when we, as human beings truly become human, then we will be divine. ;)

 

Think of it this way: if chimpanzees were able to think of us as their gods, would we seem, to them, to be better/smarter chimps or something altogether different from themselves? The dualist would say that the chimps would consider us to be "other"/divine. But given the nature of religion, I would suspect that the chimps would simply consider us to be super-chimps.

 

This is precisely what we have done with Jesus. Because we Gentiles were so damned dualistic, we turned Jesus into Superman:

"Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound! Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."

 

The effect of bestowing divinity upon Jesus is that, just like Superman's admirers, we have a hero whom we expect to save us. We take no responsibility for ourselves. We worship our hero but feel it futile to even try to emmulate him. And we expect him to fight all of our battles for us.

 

Was Jesus human? Even the conservative Christians answer yes. But in viewing him through a dualistic lens and emphasizing his divinity, I suspect we have made him, like Superman, rather unbelievable and cheapened our own humanity in the process.

 

Of course, all of this post applies to a theistic view of God. If we abandon that, which I am doing, then a whole new set of questions open up.

Edited by billmc
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Bill,

 

The effect of bestowing divinity upon Jesus is that, just like Superman's admirers, we have a hero whom we expect to save us. We take no responsibility for ourselves. We worship our hero but feel it futile to even try to emulate him. And we expect him to fight all of our battles for us.

 

I think the Tao Te Ching

 

"3

If you over-esteem great men,

people become powerless."

 

and John 6:15

"When Jesus realized that they were to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself."

 

would agree.

 

a theistic view of God. If we abandon that, which I am doing,

To what do you allude?

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

To what do you allude?

 

Just the notion, Dutch, that God is a Being/Person "out there" who is watching us in order to punish/reward us for our behavior and who sometimes intervenes in the world from the outside in order to perform miracles.

 

There is more to this, of course, but I guess the above would be my shorthand definition of theism.

 

BTW, I like the Tao Te Ching reference. I need to study that one of these days.

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Just the notion, Dutch, that God is a Being/Person "out there" who is watching us in order to punish/reward us for our behavior and who sometimes intervenes in the world from the outside in order to perform miracles.

 

I think there are some Tao ideas which fit my understanding of process theology - that the primordial nature of the God broke open the stasis that was God complete perfect timeless transcendent - and static -God broke open the stasis to the becoming of creation. I think some where that Joseph said that God is the substrate from which creation flows. To the extent that "why" questions are appropriate to transcendence, God did so that God can be in relationship with other. Creation becoming is totally other to God as God is totally other to us. The consequent nature of God is the immanence that we meet in each Now, each equally being completed in each meeting. God is inherently, not voluntarily, unable to intervene and can only meet us and be in relationship with us. All that is and was is taken up into this consequent nature of God to be part of the next Now.

 

In chapter 10 and chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching is reference to the Hidden Creator, the feminine birthing all that is, good and bad, light and dark, ups and downs, gains and losses. In this river of creating we are asked to be true to our nature and steadfast in our duty in a non-clinging manner so this creating flow can lead us back to the face of Absolute, the eternal Tao. We are challenged to hold both our Heaven, soul spirit, and Earth, our physical nature, together while experiencing the oneness of the eternal Tao. Our experiences in life, properly understood and dealt with, are what lead to the gate that is the source of experiences and the way back to the Eternal Tao.

 

That's way too many words to set up my questions but I was learning what I think in the writing of it.

 

I see that you have defined the limits of "theistic view" by the interventionist nature of a God that punishes and rewards. Is that the limit of what you are abandoning? Or is there more in "theistic view" that you are also rejecting?

 

Is this God I have described that inherently can't intervene because creation becoming is totally other, who meets us each moment, who is the Hidden Creator that is both the birther of all this Earthly stuff and gateway to heaven - does this picture of the Divine fall within or without your definition of a "theistic God"? Is "theistic God" irrelevant to what I described?

 

Thanks for the provocation to think.

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

I see that you have defined the limits of "theistic view" by the interventionist nature of a God that punishes and rewards. Is that the limit of what you are abandoning? Or is there more in "theistic view" that you are also rejecting?

 

Well, Dutch, as I mentioned, that is just my off-the-cuff definition. There is much more to it but it pretty much goes back to rejecting G-O-D as a superhuman who lives beyond the sky/space and who occassionally shows up here to effect his divine will. Where I am in my journey, I see theism as the childlike first steps in knowing G-O-D, but extremely limited in perception. I remember when my son drew his first picture of our entire family. In the picture, the only difference between he and myself was that I was bigger. I suspect theism has much the same lens, that there is a significant difference between humans and the Divine, but the main difference is that the Divine is "bigger."

 

Is this God I have described that inherently can't intervene because creation becoming is totally other, who meets us each moment, who is the Hidden Creator that is both the birther of all this Earthly stuff and gateway to heaven - does this picture of the Divine fall within or without your definition of a "theistic God"? Is "theistic God" irrelevant to what I described?

 

Hmmm. I guess, in the first place I have to confess my ignorance of much of the language that you are using (my failure, not yours). I don't (yet) speak that language so I am trying to, somewhat, decipher it back to the way I would put things. Here is the way I would put it: G-O-D cannot intervene in creation for the same reason that I cannot intervene with my hand. My hand is part of me, part of who I am. So the word "intervene", which implies to come from the outside, from the "other", to cause action doesn't apply. I find the words "motivate" or "influence" or "inspire" to be much more descriptive of how G-O-D interacts with creation, from within instead of from without.

 

As to the theistic God, that understanding still holds to some of what you speak. Theists believe that there will be a "new creation", but most of them believe that, as per Genesis 1 and Rev 22, it will be God alone, without any human involvement, that bring this about. While Christian theists would agree that God is Hidden, they would probably assert that God has revealed himself (almost exclusively) in Jesus Christ.

 

I don't see Jesus as the incarnation of the Hidden God (at least, anymore so than any of the rest of us would be). I just see him as being aware of G-O-D on a certain mystical level while, like us, struggling with the religious notions of God imposed upon him from his culture. Jesus seemed to believe in a coming "other", a new creation, but this new creation still had forms and ties to the old creation.

 

Thanks for the provocation to think.

 

Ditto. Is my assessment of what you're saying anywhere near what you meant?

Edited by billmc
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Bill

Well, Dutch, as I mentioned, that is just my off-the-cuff definition...Is my assessment of what you're saying anywhere near what you meant?

I recognized that it was off the cuff and in most other conversations it would not have been appropriate to pick it out but here digressions are welcome and wonderful. And yes your response was near what I was trying to talk about.

 

Here is the way I would put it: G-O-D cannot intervene in creation for the same reason that I cannot intervene with my hand.

This is an excellent image!

 

I would say

G-O-D cannot intervene in creation for the same reason that I cannot intervene with your hand. (Creation becoming is other to God.)

 

As to the theistic God, that understanding still holds to some of what you speak. Theists believe that there will be a "new creation", but most of them believe that, as per Genesis 1 and Rev 22, it will be God alone, without any human involvement, that bring this about

I think there can be no "new creation" unless humans and God complete each other in the Now.

 

Whitehead's dual transcendence

 

It is as true to say that God creates the World as that the World creates God.

 

I don't see Jesus as the incarnation of the Hidden God (at least, anymore so than any of the rest of us would be). I just see him as being aware of G-O-D on a certain mystical level while, like us, struggling with the religious notions of God imposed upon him from his culture.

I am stuck on the historicity of Jesus right now. It is a problem I haven't worked out yet - partly because I have had a vision of Jesus. If I have integrity I cannot come to an understanding that doesn't include such experiences. I find some of what soma says helpful. He can say I missed the point but what I understand is that the personal encounter with the person Jesus is the gateway to experiencing the impersonal Christ consciousness.

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

Dutch

 

I think there can be no "new creation" unless humans and God complete each other in the Now.

 

That's my view also. Not God alone - theism. Not humanity alone - humanism. But "Christism" - G-O-D with (and within)us.

 

I am stuck on the historicity of Jesus right now. It is a problem I haven't worked out yet - partly because I have had a vision of Jesus. If I have integrity I cannot come to an understanding that doesn't include such experiences.

 

It would be nice if there were a part of the board where people could share their "Christ-experiences". It would make for interesting reading and discussion. After all, if Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul (and all the rest of the Beatles, tee hee) have their own "Christ-experiences, then "something" is going on. I, for one, have not had one, though I do claim to experience G-O-D.

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Bill

It would be nice if there were a part of the board where people could share their "Christ-experiences"

After this weekend I need awhile before I can consider this. It is an unique event and sometimes the telling of it intimidates those whose walk is different.

 

Dutch

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Guest billmc

After this weekend I need awhile before I can consider this. It is an unique event and sometimes the telling of it intimidates those whose walk is different.

 

Please don't give it a second thought if you're not comfortable about it, for any reason. I have to admit, due to my background, I'm probably not the best person to share it with anyway.

 

BTW, I did read "The Shack" (at my wife's recommendation) and found it lacking in addressing the problem of theodicy. I just don't think that the problem of suffering in this world, especially the suffering of the young or innocent, can be answered with any type of appeal to a good, loving God who is "in control" of this world.

 

Just my 2c. Feel free to ignor it or throw it out.

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Bill

BTW, I did read "The Shack" (at my wife's recommendation) and found it lacking in addressing the problem of theodicy. I just don't think that the problem of suffering in this world, especially the suffering of the young or innocent, can be answered with any type of appeal to a good, loving God who is "in control" of this world.

 

I agree. He made a tangled attempt at the problem but it was not satisfactory.

 

I have several enthusiasms about the book. My son has provided an effective critique for one of them. He pointed out that Young's attempt to create parallels between the dichotomies of light and dark and good and evil fails.

 

Other enthusiasms:

1. his emphasis on process and relationship

 

2. faith

Mack is reluctant to tell Nan that he didn't trust her with the letter and didn't invite her along.

What if she leaves me? he asks.

That's the risk of faith. And it will be one step on your way to becoming a truth teller.

 

3. Young displays a more open pluralism than one often finds in conservative churches. Followers of Jesus come have come from every faith system and tradition. It is not inclusive and it is not "all roads lead to the top" but I think retrains the "rush to judgment" of "no way but Jesus".

 

4. I think Young is going beyond "let go and let God."

 

 

Dutch

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I'm glad to get your thoughts about "the Shack", Dutch and Bill. I agree that the answer to suffering in this world was lacking, but I imagine the author hasn't figured that one out yet :-)

 

What I loved was the image of God meeting Mack in a very personal way. Appearing as God the Father wouldn't have worked well for someone who had an abusive father. I wanted my weekend with God! I liked what the book said about God not wanting to send ANYONE to hell, and I cried at the personal transformation Mack underwent in the book. I had thought the book was pluralistic, because it said God can find anyone on any path, but my conservative friend said those were people who had rejected other faith traditions and chosen Jesus instead!! So, we read the book through our own lenses, as usual :-)

 

Maybe we could have a book discussion on the Shack, so others could find it. It's very popular fiction right now, and others may want to participate. I'd even read it again so I could remember better. I read it to my teenage kids because I liked the idea so much, and then we'd discuss our thoughts about God when the book got difficult.

 

Just a suggestion.

Janet

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Guest billmc

Maybe we could have a book discussion on the Shack, so others could find it. It's very popular fiction right now, and others may want to participate.

 

Sounds like a good idea, Janet. One of the most compelling ideas I appreciated about the book was how Young made the point that we are all connected, that no one is an island. No one just wakes up one morning and says, "I think I want to be evil" nor "I think I want to be godly." We all touch the lives of others, for better or worse. This doesn't in any way shirk personal responsibility, it just helps us to see that we all share together in the blessings and the cursings of being human.

 

A book discussion would be good, IMO.

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