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Do We Live In A World Of Divine Order Or Chaos?


JosephM
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This is a very interesting question.

 

In my view there is nothing that exists absolutely, and therefore all the phenomena of life are essentially 'empty' (in the Buddhist sense). It would seem to me, then, that in reality there is nothing 'at base,' and therefore there is no 'order' in any absolute, ultimate sense. Then again, in the same way neither is there chaos.

 

Both chaos and order can really be only understood in terms of emergence. As concepts they seem to look beyond themselves for explanation. It's like asking whether the laws of physics determine the universe or if the universe determines the laws of physics. By trying to figure it out you go perpetually in circles. Perhaps there is a dualism here that might not actually reflect the true reality. Both terms are ultimately relative and we would not know one if not for the other. I think the question is probably one of the unanswerable ones. But if there is an answer, my guess it would probably be more of a "both-and" rather than an "either-or."

 

Perhaps the Taoist notion of 'spontaneity' is useful here in understanding the nature of things.

 

Just my speculative thoughts.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

Edited by Mike
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There are those here who see the world as a place of Chaos and those who see a world of Divine Order.

What do you see and why?

 

Joseph

 

I really like Mike's answer on this one, Joseph. (Thanks, Mike!)

 

If we define Chaos as a conglomeration of things and events that always happen at random and never make any sense, then I don't think our world is one of chaos.

 

If we define Divine Order as a mechanistic view where everything that happens is the direct result of a deity who is metaphysically pushing buttons and pulling levers, then I don't think our world is one of divine order.

 

But if we see our world (and universe) as reflective of infinite variety (something like chaos) that somehow holds together, sometimes makes sense, and, most beautifully of all, leads to life, self-consciousness, and love, then I would say that chaos and divine order are part of the same thing - GOD.

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Very interesting comments Mike.

 

It seems to me there are indeed opposites in this world of dualism and that the one indeed creates the other. Yet in the reality I have experienced, there are indeed things without opposites that are not created. For example, most would say that life and death are opposites. I would not agree. Birth and death may be opposites that create each other but there is no opposite to Life. There is only Life. We have words such as existence and non-existence but only existence is possible by definition.

 

Now to speak of Divine order, on a deeper level I do see an interconnectedness that is not always apparent with the eyes where nothing is out of balance or order. To me, Life itself testifies of this. Nothing is out of place. That the world appears chaotic to the mind, there is no doubt as i am sure there would be many that would testify of such. Yet do not all major religions point to a reality of One. With such a reality there can be no such thing as chaos as chaos can only happen where their is division. So, it would seem to me, that Chaos is the illusion of mind and Divine Order is the reality of Life.

 

Just a view to consider,

Joseph

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Bill,

Sorry I missed your response as I was writing mine at the same time.

 

Very well said.

 

In your final statement you say "chaos and divine order are part of the same thing - GOD"

 

In that God is without parts, it seems to me, that statement has a level of truth to it. Yet perhaps chaos is not part of God/Reality which is uncreated. Chaos is a product of perception of creation and has no permanent existence in Reality. In that sense, God is the potential but it seems to me, in no way is Chaos an attribute of God.

 

Just a different way of looking at it,

Joseph

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Joseph asked, "there are those here who see the world as a place of Chaos and those who see a world of Divine Order.

What do you see and why?"

 

First of all, I'm not a big fan of dualism. For me, there may be poles or opposites, but almost everything exists between them. In this case, though, I don't think that chaos and divine order are particularly useful opposites. What I see is a universe of natural order. (I suppose that some folks might use the term natural order to promote ideas about determinism, but that doesn't work for me)

 

As I have tried to explain elsewhere, I am a active religious lay person, but am neither mystical or spiritual, a position that appears to be at odds with others who post here. I sense that is why when, in my posts, I have been most open about my beliefs I have not received responses.

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G-wombat,

I can't speak for others, but I would not withhold responses from anyone on this message board just because I think we believe differently. Sometimes, in fact, I might not reply because our thoughts are too similar. What I might want to say has already been said. In this case, I, too, see a world of natural order, but of intelligent design. Randomness or chaos occasionally upsets that natural order. Sometimes, it seems, more often than others.

 

Can you help me understand better what it means to be "religious, but not spiritual?" What motivates you to be religious, if not your spirituality? If you don't want to explain it here, maybe you can refer me to where you have discussed it before.

 

Thanks,

Janet

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As I have tried to explain elsewhere, I am a active religious lay person, but am neither mystical or spiritual, a position that appears to be at odds with others who post here. I sense that is why when, in my posts, I have been most open about my beliefs I have not received responses.

 

I'm like Janet on this, Grampa, many of your posts reflect where I currently am so I don't respond either. So I appreciate your presence and contributions here. I am looking forward to reading your responses to Janet's questions and thought I would start a new thread that asks the community what it means to be spiritual.

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(snip)

As I have tried to explain elsewhere, I am a active religious lay person, but am neither mystical or spiritual, a position that appears to be at odds with others who post here. I sense that is why when, in my posts, I have been most open about my beliefs I have not received responses.

 

HI grandpawombat,

 

Your positions MAY be different from others but not at odds. There are no winners and losers here. If we all believed the same, what is there left to share in words with each other? Many are here because at some level our beliefs don't fit into the orthodox.

 

By the way, i responded to one of your posts about 4 days ago but you never responded back? It is here.

 

Joseph

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What I mean by being an active religious layperson is that I regularly attend religious services and participate in various groups that carry out what I think of as the congregation's mission. In particular, I am a member of the social justice team. Our recent emphasis has been with a non-profit that provides temporary shelter for homeless people and advocates on their behalf. Other emphases include support of LGBT rights and opposition to US military support of dictatorships, in particular in the Western Hemisphere. I'm also on the personnel team and on the session, the congregation's governing board. On the other hand, I don't recall ever having had what I would call a spiritual or mystical experience. Some of the experiences I have had that others might refer to that way I think of as emotional responses. But they are not my motivation for being a church member. That comes from my experiences with religious groups over the last 45 years or so that participated in the civil rights, anti-war, farmworker, gay rights, and other movements.

 

A few days ago I made a somewhat flip comment about labels and idols. By the time I looked at the thread again, though there had been a question regarding my post, it had headed in another direction, and I just didn't feel inclined to respond. At the same time I made the label comment I posted on the mystic-skeptic thread. On that post I made some comments that I hoped would elicit some response, but there was none. I was frankly disappointed.

 

I think of myself as a "progressive" Christian, but my experiences here make me wonder if my definition is not the same as that of others. It isn't the eight points that causes me to think that, though.

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(snip)

At the same time I made the label comment I posted on the mystic-skeptic thread. On that post I made some comments that I hoped would elicit some response, but there was none. I was frankly disappointed.

 

I think of myself as a "progressive" Christian, but my experiences here make me wonder if my definition is not the same as that of others. It isn't the eight points that causes me to think that, though.

 

 

I remember that comment grandpawombat and I took it to mean that your beliefs are based on the objective world. (material/"stuff") I found that a familiar belief and not to be uncommon at all and had no questions concerning it. You do not see yourself as a mystic or skeptic. It seems to me that everyone is on a journey that may be at this time at a different point than another but if you find yourself still making progress then what might make you wonder you are not a progressive Christian ?

 

Joseph

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Janet asks, "When you are working to make the world a better place it is not to glorify God or to follow Jesus' teachings?" Yes and maybe not. I like to think that Jesus' teachings are in substantial agreement with the actions of "progressives" over the last two milennia. And I hope that my actions and those of my colleagues are consistent with that tradition. And I have in the past seen such actions as a way of "glorifying God." But in recent years I have developed a contrary streak, and now I don't find that idea as compelling as I once did. I'm not sure why, though. There is that line in the Sermon on the Mount that starts "let your light so shine..." and I still relate to that. But there is also a more evangelical (proselytizing) way of understanding "glorifying God" that I should probably ignore, but don't for some reason. I'll think about it.

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Hi grandpawombat,

 

You seem to now have inspired responses also in Bill's new thread, including my post. I find it interesting that you identify yourself as religious but not spiritual - people are so very often quick to say the reverse. :) You may not consider yourself spiritual but I'm sure there are those who, like myself, would find the work that you are doing to be deeply 'spiritual'. I suppose it might have a lot to do with word usage and how we define and label. I'd be interested in what you think about Karen Armstrong's quote that you can find in my post and more fully here. In any case I do not hold it against you or anyone if they would not consider themselves spiritual. Spiritual is just a word, and some people may not relate to it well.

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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I'm not sure what you're driving at, Joseph, when you write, "it seems to me that everyone is on a journey that may be at this time at a different point than another but if you find yourself still making progress then what might make you wonder you are not a progressive Christian?" It appears that we may have different ideas of what it means to call oneself a progressive Christian. For example, on Beliefnet (where I still post, but not often and not very fruitfully--I often seem to have more in common with the agnostics and even some of the atheists than I have with Christians of any persuasion) when I joined in '01 there was a board for "Christians of the third millenium." This term, coined by J. S. Spong, was aimed toward those Christians who did not believe the Bible was inerrant and who believed that there were other religions as valid as Christianity. Then a while later (a year or two I think) B'net changed the name of that board to progressive Christianity.

 

I think I first heard about TCPC and the eight points from Jim Burklo's book Open Christianity. So I looked for an alternative to B'net. But that was in '04 and I found the format impossible to deal with. I came back when B'net changed its format, and here I am. I like pretty much everything in the eight points, but I don't think they are about progress as much as they are about an open-minded (and frankly more just) approach to religion. They are also, for me anyway, about challenging the suppositions of evangelical, and even generally "mainstream" Christians. So I don't think being progressive is about the journey (thought I think the journey is in many ways far more important than the destination) as it is about having positions on matters theological (virgin birth, atonement, and resurrection and divinity of Jesus are ok but not necessary beliefs for Christians) or public (LGBT rights are important, as are the needs of the oppressed for freedom and equality). So sure, given this definition, I see myself as a progressive Christian. But I still find that there is an emphasis on spirituality among the posters that I just don't relate to. That doesn't mean that I think there is anything wrong with that.

 

I dunno. These are frustrating times for many people and a bit scary as well. I don't know what else to say. I may have raised more questions about where I am coming from than I have answered.

 

And given the greater tendency to use our actual names, mine is Don.

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Very interesting comments Mike.

 

It seems to me there are indeed opposites in this world of dualism and that the one indeed creates the other. Yet in the reality I have experienced, there are indeed things without opposites that are not created. For example, most would say that life and death are opposites. I would not agree. Birth and death may be opposites that create each other but there is no opposite to Life. There is only Life. We have words such as existence and non-existence but only existence is possible by definition.

 

Now to speak of Divine order, on a deeper level I do see an interconnectedness that is not always apparent with the eyes where nothing is out of balance or order. To me, Life itself testifies of this. Nothing is out of place. That the world appears chaotic to the mind, there is no doubt as i am sure there would be many that would testify of such. Yet do not all major religions point to a reality of One. With such a reality there can be no such thing as chaos as chaos can only happen where their is division. So, it would seem to me, that Chaos is the illusion of mind and Divine Order is the reality of Life.

 

Just a view to consider,

Joseph

 

Hi Joseph,

 

I definitely see your point here and you may very well be correct. As Bill stated, and I agree, if we define chaos as utter nonsense and irrationality, then that is not really what I mean by chaos. I do think all things are one, I think of all things as sharing the same identity, the same self (world soul?).

 

But when it comes to order, it is difficult for me not to think of it in terms of emergence. Take the laws of thermodynamics. They are laws but they emerge from the natural, spontaneous motion of particles and the transfer of their energy (chaos?). The 'laws' exist but not in and of themselves, not because of any inherent property of the laws themselves. The laws are an invariance within the system, but they do not impose themselves from the outside onto or into the system. They are very much the same as the system itself. There is nothing 'at base' making it do what it's doing.

 

In this view, there is order because things are connected, and not that things are connected because there is order. Splitting hairs? Yep. :D I know if you push this it will just go in circles in classic chicken-and-egg fashion: Which came first, the universe which apparently behaves lawfully, or the laws according to which the universe behaves? Anyway, I'll let you get back to something useful instead reading my speculations. :)

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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I'm not sure what you're driving at, Joseph, when you write, "it seems to me that everyone is on a journey that may be at this time at a different point than another but if you find yourself still making progress then what might make you wonder you are not a progressive Christian?" It appears that we may have different ideas of what it means to call oneself a progressive Christian. For example, on Beliefnet (where I still post, but not often and not very fruitfully--I often seem to have more in common with the agnostics and even some of the atheists than I have with Christians of any persuasion) when I joined in '01 there was a board for "Christians of the third millenium." This term, coined by J. S. Spong, was aimed toward those Christians who did not believe the Bible was inerrant and who believed that there were other religions as valid as Christianity. Then a while later (a year or two I think) B'net changed the name of that board to progressive Christianity.

 

(snip)

 

Hi Don,

 

I like that so much better,smile.gif

 

What i was driving at was that we may all have different views because we are at different points on our journey. The word progressive means in my dictionary "Moving forward; advancing." It seems to me if my understanding at this point in my journey was fixed and the same as it was 20 years ago, then it would not be progressive for me. If we are in principle with point 6, we find more grace in the search than dogmatic certainty. That to me is a type of journey. If we are truly deepening our understanding by questioning than it seems to me our perception/understanding as relates to our Christian walk will also change or become clearer over time. i asked the question, What might make you wonder you are not progressive if you see progress in your understanding. I think you answered that with your perception that there is an emphasis on spiritually here by posters which you might not share. My response would be. That is fine as that belief doesn't make one a progressive. There is no requirement in TCPC to be in alignment with other posters. That is what makes this so wonderful. If one desires dogmatic agreement there is a host of Christian denominations that have fixed beliefs to accommodate that one. TCPC on the other hand says what is posted as ones beliefs/views is far less important than our actions/behavior. (point 5)

 

I hope I have responded to you more clearly than i did before?

 

Joseph

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Janet asks, "When you are working to make the world a better place it is not to glorify God or to follow Jesus' teachings?" Yes and maybe not. I like to think that Jesus' teachings are in substantial agreement with the actions of "progressives" over the last two milennia. And I hope that my actions and those of my colleagues are consistent with that tradition. And I have in the past seen such actions as a way of "glorifying God." But in recent years I have developed a contrary streak, and now I don't find that idea as compelling as I once did. I'm not sure why, though. There is that line in the Sermon on the Mount that starts "let your light so shine..." and I still relate to that. But there is also a more evangelical (proselytizing) way of understanding "glorifying God" that I should probably ignore, but don't for some reason. I'll think about it.

 

Don, Thanks for answering. I remember reading something where a rabbi said that "much of God's work is done by the Christians." I think he was saying that even if we are on the wrong track theologically we are doing the right things. I have, in the past, felt the same way about the secular humanists or the atheists who are working toward social justice. Now I just see them as being on a different journey. Your post has raised questions for me about why you would be so involved in church without that sense of a "mission from God" :-) I do very much understand the idea that a community that shares your passions is needed so that you can make more difference than you can as just one man. That is one of the things that motivates me to stay in church when it's tough.

 

Janet

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