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God To You?


Jagged Zen Monkey
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My view stems from the premise that God is a parental figure/s, and from the premise that God is love as written in 1 John 4. I will try to explain who I view God to be and why in the following post. Also, this will perhaps give you some insight on how I view Jesus as well. Feel free to examine and pick apart what you consider to be a logical fallacy.

 

 

** Part of parental love is correcting our children. God corrects us through the law of cause and effect. We are God's offspring (according to scripture) thus we are all a part of this family unit that is the God-head (Father-mother-offspring). Let me explain: Our Father is Spirit, our mother is the material universe, and we are the offspring of both. Scriptures state that God is spirit, just as the scriptures state that we were formed from the dust of the ground (material universe).

 

 

** We, as God's offspring, are required to learn from our mistakes by the consequences that come as a result of our actions. Our individual mistakes not only affect us but the entire family of God. We are one, and it is the Holy Spirit (power of God) that will bring us together as a functional family. Jesus taught us to love, he said the father (spirit) dwelled in him, and he lived his life as a shining light for the rest of us to follow. The Father is our life force (spirit) just as it was Jesus' life force. The Holy Spirit is love (the power of God) through which we are able to live peaceably with our brothers and sisters (humanity), and know life abundantly.

 

 

** Our father is the head of our family unit, and our mother is who rears us in the physical world. Our mother supplies our physical needs to survive, just as our Father supplies our spiritual needs to survive. Together they make up God [plural] and we, their offspring, complete the God-head (Family). Our Father is our spiritual life force and our mother is our physical life force, the Holy Spirit is love and the power of our parents (God). Love is the motive of (God). It is the motivation behind all life, and when God's motive is embraced by us fully, the Holy Spirit enables us to live abundantly. We are part of the God-head (family) and in order for us to live abundant lives, we are required to value both mother and father, then live through the Spirit behind them both (Holy Spirit).

 

 

Take Genesis for example:

 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” This suggests that God is plural and not a singular. It also suggests that we are to be caretakers and good stewards over all living things.

 

 

Also, consider Acts 17:

 

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is [God] served by human hands, as though [God] needed anything, since [God] gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

 

 

And as [God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward [God] and find [God]. Yet [God] is actually not far from each one of us, “‘In [God] we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed [God's] offspring.’ Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the God-head is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.

 

 

** Although most Christians don't view God as I do, my views have a biblical basis, just as they have a basis in reality, as in we are both spiritual creatures and physical creatures who derive from two parents instead of one as many believe. God equates to our parents who are our ultimate reality, and the Godhead equates to God's family of which we are a part of.

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Feel free to examine and pick apart what you consider to be a logical fallacy.

 

JZM,

 

I have no desire to "pick apart" your thoughts. However, I would point out that this interpretation seems to presuppose the inspiration of the Bible which is faith based rather than on logic or empiricism. I have no problem with this, but it would be hard to evaluate this interpretation on logical grounds without first stipulating to this.

 

George

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JZM,

 

I have no desire to "pick apart" your thoughts. However, I would point out that this interpretation seems to be preconditioned on the inspiration of the Bible which is faith based rather than on logic or empiricism. I have no problem with this, but it would be hard to evaluate this interpretation on logical grounds without first stipulating to this.

 

George

 

 

Actually, it is based solely on reality, but scriptures do support the view. We live, and we have the material world to help us understand life. We are products of the two major facets of life. I simply used some poetics to make my point. We are material objects who have life (we are alive).

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JZM,

 

I liked your post. From my point of view, any time we talk about God, we resort to metaphor, but the metaphor of Father is, imo, a good one and one that Jesus used the most often to speak of God. That metaphor speaks to me as well.

 

In almost the same vein in which you referenced first creation, I had a few posts here around Christmas-time that referenced how Jesus was seen to either bring about or represent the "new creation" of heaven and earth. This would, again, point to the metaphor of the Father/Mother and humanity being the offspring. I like this metaphor not for just its wholistic nature, but because it negates the popular gnostic Christian notion that the world/material realm is evil and to be escape for heaven where all physicality is shed. If God had created us just for heaven, we would be like the mythological angels. But he seemed to create us for the earth. Besides, I would take a sunny meadow any day over streets of gold. :)

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JZM,

 

I liked your post. From my point of view, any time we talk about God, we resort to metaphor, but the metaphor of Father is, imo, a good one and one that Jesus used the most often to speak of God. That metaphor speaks to me as well.

 

In almost the same vein in which you referenced first creation, I had a few posts here around Christmas-time that referenced how Jesus was seen to either bring about or represent the "new creation" of heaven and earth. This would, again, point to the metaphor of the Father/Mother and humanity being the offspring. I like this metaphor not for just its wholistic nature, but because it negates the popular gnostic Christian notion that the world/material realm is evil and to be escape for heaven where all physicality is shed. If God had created us just for heaven, we would be like the mythological angels. But he seemed to create us for the earth. Besides, I would take a sunny meadow any day over streets of gold. :)

 

 

Live is certainly a thing to be cherished!

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JZM,

 

I have trouble personally with viewing God as a parental figure showing parental love by correcting his children. You say "God corrects us through the law of cause and effect". This premise sounds okay for adults - I can go with a God that waits patiently for me to awake from my error and return to his loving embrace - but how is God correcting anyone by allowing over 15,000 children each day die from starvation and malnutrition? If this parental figure of God is love, how on earth could he stand by and allow all that pain, suffering and destruction of life (that of the deceased and that of the survivors)? What parent or grandparent would want their child/grandchild to experience that? None that I know.

 

Innocent children who are placed in the path of sex offenders, psychopaths, violent abusers - I don't see how God is demonstrating good parenting here?

 

Unlike Wayseeker, I didn't read your post as metaphorical, but rather that your view was based on the premise that God is a parental figure/s, and from the premise that God is love. Maybe I misread it?

 

But for me, even as a metaphor, I have trouble with the issues I have outlined above. Pain and suffering as a corrective action for one's children who should know better is one thing, but pain and suffering inflicted on the innocent doesn't work for me.

 

Cheers

Paul

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That verse that you brought up from Genesis about God’s plurality is an interesting one. Most Trinitarians would site this verse as a proof text that the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the OT even though the word itself is not used there. I find that to be quite a stretch in exegesis as, despite this verse (and a few others like it), the ancient Jews were hard-core monotheists.

 

Most Bible commentaries that I have read say that the reason for the plurality is either 1) God is referencing his heavenly council (angels, etc.) or that the earliest Jews did believe that there were other gods but that YHWH was over them. That may well be the case.

 

But I also find another metaphor to be meaningful to me here as well. The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach which is of feminine gender. And it is by God’s word and his ruach that he brings creation about, according to the Genesis mythos. Now, I hesitate to confine God to a person, because I think any of our language about God is metaphorical. But it seems to me that what we see in Genesis is an “aspect” of God, God’s spirit, that seems person-like or personal, that represents God’s feminine side. Would it be too heretical to perceive God’s Spirit as God’s wife?

 

According to the Genesis account, it is God’s Spirit that acts in giving birth to creation. And according to the NT, it is the self-same Spirit which gives birth to a new creation. And Jesus and the other NT writers reference how it is the Spirit that gives life or new birth. In Jesus’ words, it is the Spirit that gives us new birth. This seems, to me, to be a wonderful reference to either God’s feminine aspect (God’s womb) or God’s metaphorical wife, the Spirit.

 

Of course, this is all conjecture. But I find it interesting that the early church seemed to turn the feminine aspect of God, the Spirit, into a “he” and, in doing so, lost the beauty reflected in the creation stories that God's images on earth are *both* male and female, both father and mother, both heaven and earth - about unity through complement, not dualism.

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JZM,

 

I have trouble personally with viewing God as a parental figure showing parental love by correcting his children. You say "God corrects us through the law of cause and effect". This premise sounds okay for adults - I can go with a God that waits patiently for me to awake from my error and return to his loving embrace - but how is God correcting anyone by allowing over 15,000 children each day die from starvation and malnutrition? If this parental figure of God is love, how on earth could he stand by and allow all that pain, suffering and destruction of life (that of the deceased and that of the survivors)? What parent or grandparent would want their child/grandchild to experience that? None that I know.

 

Innocent children who are placed in the path of sex offenders, psychopaths, violent abusers - I don't see how God is demonstrating good parenting here?

 

Unlike Wayseeker, I didn't read your post as metaphorical, but rather that your view was based on the premise that God is a parental figure/s, and from the premise that God is love. Maybe I misread it?

 

But for me, even as a metaphor, I have trouble with the issues I have outlined above. Pain and suffering as a corrective action for one's children who should know better is one thing, but pain and suffering inflicted on the innocent doesn't work for me.

 

Cheers

Paul

 

 

I don't view the way life is as a punishment, but rather an example of the scope of the law of cause and effect. It's a system that exists to initiate pro social behavior. It is simply a natural law that exists as a part of life, of which both existence (God) and humanity are bound. God is bound by its own rules, just as we are bound by that which binds existence. God as an entity able to do anything is a figment of mankind's imagination I think. The justice is in the way the law of cause and effect urges us to live in a pro-social manner, and as a collective body (the body of man).

 

 

We are in this life together, thus the laws that govern us lead to that end if we would only observe them. Life was created through love, but mankind kinda botched everything up. We are now approaching our ascension I think. Humanity is responsible for ourselves. I'm suggesting that the power of God (our parents) is love, but we as a people are required to utilize God's power to make a difference in the world. Suffering sux but that's the way life is. It's time we join hands to remedy such things.

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That verse that you brought up from Genesis about God’s plurality is an interesting one. Most Trinitarians would site this verse as a proof text that the doctrine of the Trinity can be found in the OT even though the word itself is not used there. I find that to be quite a stretch in exegesis as, despite this verse (and a few others like it), the ancient Jews were hard-core monotheists.

 

Most Bible commentaries that I have read say that the reason for the plurality is either 1) God is referencing his heavenly council (angels, etc.) or that the earliest Jews did believe that there were other gods but that YHWH was over them. That may well be the case.

 

But I also find another metaphor to be meaningful to me here as well. The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach which is of feminine gender. And it is by God’s word and his ruach that he brings creation about, according to the Genesis mythos. Now, I hesitate to confine God to a person, because I think any of our language about God is metaphorical. But it seems to me that what we see in Genesis is an “aspect” of God, God’s spirit, that seems person-like or personal, that represents God’s feminine side. Would it be too heretical to perceive God’s Spirit as God’s wife?

 

According to the Genesis account, it is God’s Spirit that acts in giving birth to creation. And according to the NT, it is the self-same Spirit which gives birth to a new creation. And Jesus and the other NT writers reference how it is the Spirit that gives life or new birth. In Jesus’ words, it is the Spirit that gives us new birth. This seems, to me, to be a wonderful reference to either God’s feminine aspect (God’s womb) or God’s metaphorical wife, the Spirit.

 

Of course, this is all conjecture. But I find it interesting that the early church seemed to turn the feminine aspect of God, the Spirit, into a “he” and, in doing so, lost the beauty reflected in the creation stories that God's images on earth are *both* male and female, both father and mother, both heaven and earth - about unity through complement, not dualism.

 

 

Personally I think if we were to speculate about God's wife, I would suggest she is the physical (material) universe in contrast to the heavenly (spiritual) universe. Our father is spiritual, our mother is material, and the force (power) that brought them together is love, i.e. the Holy Spirit. When they merged, life was created - living souls.

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I just don't see a slow suffering painful death of starvation to a 6 year old, as a lesson to be learned for that child. What law that governs us can that child observe to correct things? Sure, the cause may be that mankind around before the birth of that child botched things up, but what justice is there for innocent children suffering? A parent would never allow that. That's where the metaphor (I'm still not clear if you mean it as a metaphor though) falls over for me.

 

God may be bound by its own rules which prevents intervention, but God is not like a parent then, IMO.

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I just don't see a slow suffering painful death of starvation to a 6 year old, as a lesson to be learned for that child.

 

 

it's not. It is a lesson to be learned by the rest of us, urging us to take responsibility for one another. I call them lessons, but they are more like wake up calls for us to heed. We are responsible for our condition of life, just as we as a collective body are responsible for one another. There is absolutely no cause for a child to starve apart from our neglect.

 

What law that governs us can that child observe to correct things? Sure, the cause may be that mankind around before the birth of that child botched things up, but what justice is there for innocent children suffering? A parent would never allow that. That's where the metaphor (I'm still not clear if you mean it as a metaphor though) falls over for me.

 

 

the law of cause and effect is one. We neglect the hungry, and it is because of this that they starve. God simply gave us life, but we are responsible for living through the spirit behind life, i.e. love.

 

 

God may be bound by its own rules which prevents intervention, but God is not like a parent then, IMO.

 

 

Our heavenly father enabled us to be alive. Our heavenly mother enabled us to experience life. We originate from bother spirit and matter, thus spirit and matter are our heavenly parents (God).

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Pain and suffering as a corrective action for one's children who should know better is one thing, but pain and suffering inflicted on the innocent doesn't work for me.

 

I agree with you, Paul, such a paradigm doesn’t work for me either. This is why I struggled in my own journey when, being a fairly young “innocent”, I was subjected to pain and suffering. I couldn’t understand how my pain and suffering could jibe with the notion of a God who loved me personally, who was in control and who always wanted what was best for me. Why didn’t God, who sent his son to die for me, stop my father from hitting me around?

 

This is eventually why I have had to move from theism to deism. To me, theism is an understanding of God that focuses on God, defined as a person(s), taking a “personal interest” in “each and every human being” to the extent that God is said to care for/watch over/protect each and every person. Out of this “personal interest”, God is said to have a wonderful plan for each and every person’s life and either to will or work this wonderful plan on a personal level. But, as you have noted, the pain and suffering that we experience as human beings seriously challenges this notion. And the promise of heaven in the next life seems, to me, empty and hollow against the backdrop of the amount of suffering that goes on here.

 

My own deistic understanding of God is of God as a loving Creator or Source of life, not as a controller. Therefore, God is loving in that, as the creative Force behind the universe, he has provided us a place where life and love is possible, where life and love can be experienced, where we can finding meaning and fulfillment in life and love. But God’s love is seen in the possibility and provision for humanity as a whole (and probably other sentient beings in the universe), not in a guarantee that each and every person will experience only life and love without pain and suffering. In other words, the rain falls on the just and the unjust. How we respond to the rain is up to us. His eye may indeed see the sparrow that falls, but he doesn’t stop it from falling.

 

I know that such a view of God sounds rather cold-hearted. It is not the “God’s purpose is to personally protect me and ensure my survival” approach that theism often holds to. But, for me, I’ve found no other way to reconcile my belief in a good and loving Creator with the cold, hard facts of suffering in this world. Deism, unlike theism, is not big on the “God is in control” model. God has, in deism, made *us*, to a large extent, responsible for our world. God, in love, provided a universe where life is possible. But the quality of that life is left up to us for the most part. We can either make our world more like heaven or more like hell. Generally, if the innocent suffer, it is not because God has failed in his duty as a creator/father, it is because we have failed, as God’s creations/children, to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

 

So, imo, God created the universe and (derivatively) us with the capability and capacity for life and love. But God enforces neither. The quality of life and love that we attain is up to us. We can do that by learning to love one another, but that is our choice, not something that God can do for us.

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JZM,

 

I still don't see how your view of God as parent fits for innocent kids. Is God not their parent too? Why would a parent let their innocent child suffer as a result of no wrongdoing of their own? You say it's a lesson to be learned by the rest of us, urging us to take responsibility for one another. Well where is the parent taking responsibility for the poor child it has left in the hands of neglectful babysitters? You say these lessons are more like wake up calls for us to heed. Well what does the inncoent 6 year old need to heed so as to learn? Sure, we are responsible for our condition of life, just as we as a collective body are responsible for one another, but you're talking of God as a parent here - so shouldn't God be a parent to the innocent child as well as the adult that can make choices?

 

 

Wayseeker,

 

I understand you see it is a paradigm that doesn't work for you either, and subsequently why you hold those desitic thoughts you explained. But I'm merely referring to the God-parent proposal that JSM put forth for examining. I can go with your deistic understanding of God until the bit about responding to the rain being up to us. The 6 year old can't respond. He or she can't correct the situation, IMO (and I'm sure in yours). But that's where the parental metaphor (which I think is your and my understanding here but I don't think it is JZM's) breaks down, IMO. I certainly wouldn't want a parent who doesn't want to/can't be involved in my life every step of the way. Sure a parent needs to give their child some space to grow, but a parent doesn't just set and forget and leave its kids up to their own devices until they find the right way to live.

 

Using your own example as an abused child, if one of your children was being abused I would expect you would step in and take action, not sit back and let events unfold as they may. That's what a parent does. (I'm not trying to sound offensive here and insult anyone's belief in God, I'm just saying that the parent metaphor doesn't fit this picture, IMO).

 

I agree with you that the quality of our life is left up to us for the most part, but that is not true for the innocent child suffering. I too believe we can either make our world more like heaven or more like hell and that generally, if the innocent suffer, it is not because God has failed in his duty as a creator/father, but because we have failed, as God’s creations/children, to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers. But for me, that simply further breaks down the metaphor of God being like a parent to everyone - rather, God seems to only be a parent to adults who have the mind to make choices about their behaviour.

 

Similarly, whilst the quality of life and love that we attain is up to us, that's all well and good when you're a conscious, mature, adult. Not when you're an innocent kid starving or getting beat up. "We can do that by learning to love one another, but that is our choice, not something that God can do for us." - then God isn't a parent to the abused, innocent child.

 

Maybe God doesn't love us personally? Maybe if there is a God, that concept is nothing like a parent? I like Spong's words pinched from Tillich (I think) which calls God the 'ground of all being', and which he goes on to say is the 'lifeforce' that gives all life the desire to live. That sort of God I can almost understand, but to me the metaphor of God as a parent, simply paints God as a poor parent, IMO.

 

Cheers

Paul

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I can go with your deistic understanding of God until the bit about responding to the rain being up to us. The 6 year old can't respond. He or she can't correct the situation, IMO (and I'm sure in yours). But that's where the parental metaphor (which I think is your and my understanding here but I don't think it is JZM's) breaks down, IMO.

 

Yes, Paul, for me, because it is a metaphor, it does break down if taken too literally. This is where, to me, given things like cancer (and other unconquered diseases), droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and even death itself go against the notion that God’s main function is to ensure that each and every one of us has a good life and survives. Granted, it is a nice theological notion and it makes for great “altar calls” if people are promised a Pollyanna world, but it doesn’t reflect reality, imo. We have to deal with the real tragedies of existence in this world. At the same time, the fact that we are here and can know life and love to some measure, is that all chance, a mere product of evolution?

 

I certainly wouldn't want a parent who doesn't want to/can't be involved in my life every step of the way. Sure a parent needs to give their child some space to grow, but a parent doesn't just set and forget and leave its kids up to their own devices until they find the right way to live.

 

Granted. But the role of a parent is not a simple one. For instance, how “involved” in your life do you want your mother-in-law (or your own biological mother) to be each and every day? :blink: For me, the more my mother-in-law would try to “intervene” in my life, the worse our relationship would get (just being honest). <_< As an adult, I want my parents there as advisors, but not as controllers or manipulators. Many of the Christians that I have known seek God out as a Father as a way to control or manipulate events in their lives. They want God to fix things or make things easy for them. They want an external kingdom where God rules with a rod of iron. I question if that is the wisest understanding of God that we can come to.

 

Using your own example as an abused child, if one of your children was being abused I would expect you would step in and take action, not sit back and let events unfold as they may. That's what a parent does.

 

True, especially when they are young and rather defenseless. But as the father of two grown children, I see them hurt and “abused” by many things in this world (divorce, economics, bad relationships, drugs) and I have not been able to step in and take action in each and every situation, no matter how much I love them. They are sentient human beings and have to make their own decisions. I cannot control and manipulate their lives for them, no matter how much I might want them to have good and meaningful lives. My role, as a parent, has changed over time. I still love them with all my heart, but I am now an advisor whom, I hope, has occasionally given good advice and who has sometimes set a good example.

 

I agree with you that the quality of our life is left up to us for the most part, but that is not true for the innocent child suffering. I too believe we can either make our world more like heaven or more like hell and that generally, if the innocent suffer, it is not because God has failed in his duty as a creator/father, but because we have failed, as God’s creations/children, to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

 

Yes, I wasn’t saying that the innocent are responsible for their own lives, I was saying that we, collectively, are – at least to some extent.

 

But for me, that simply further breaks down the metaphor of God being like a parent to everyone - rather, God seems to only be a parent to adults who have the mind to make choices about their behaviour.

 

I kinda see it this way also, Paul. I certainly don’t want to paint the typical portrait of the deist God as a dead-beat Father who sires creation/children and then goes off to do his own thing elsewhere. Rather, this is, to me, where God as Spirit comes in. God is, imo, an ever-present source of life and love that we can *always* tap into – if we choose to do so. An analogy might be a radio frequency that is always there, but we don’t always tune to it. And some of us may have better tuners than others. That “God-frequency” is both within and without us, and it never goes off the air.

 

"We can do that by learning to love one another, but that is our choice, not something that God can do for us." - then God isn't a parent to the abused, innocent child.

 

Sadly, tragically, I agree, not in the best sense of a protective, nurturing parent. My father continued to physically abuse me until I left home at 15. It didn’t stop, despite all my prayers for God to intervene on my behalf. And my story is nothing compared to that of others. So I have had to reject that notion of God as a personal protector, a fortress, a shelter in the time of storm, etc.

 

Maybe God doesn't love us personally?

 

Maybe not, at least not in the way typically presented. But is a God who doesn’t love us personally (as persons), but loves us collective (as humanity) a good concept either? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I find myself responding to God “personally”. I don’t worship God because he always protects me, keeps me safe from harm, or has promised to fix things when I get to heaven. I worship God because, to the best of *my* knowledge and experience, God is the source of life and love in our universe. I want to tune my life to that channel because I think it is best for me and the world.

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JZM,

 

I still don't see how your view of God as parent fits for innocent kids. Is God not their parent too? Why would a parent let their innocent child suffer as a result of no wrongdoing of their own? You say it's a lesson to be learned by the rest of us, urging us to take responsibility for one another. Well where is the parent taking responsibility for the poor child it has left in the hands of neglectful babysitters? You say these lessons are more like wake up calls for us to heed. Well what does the inncoent 6 year old need to heed so as to learn? Sure, we are responsible for our condition of life, just as we as a collective body are responsible for one another, but you're talking of God as a parent here - so shouldn't God be a parent to the innocent child as well as the adult that can make choices?

 

 

Do you believe in God? If so, why does your concept of God allow suffering? Why doesn't he intervene? I'm monotheistic in that I think "God" is a term used to identify our origin, and polytheistic in that I believe "God" consists of two fundamental parts (spirit and matter). We are a product of God; we too consist of spirit and matter. We are God's offspring made in God's image. Our father is spiritual, our mother is material, and the force (power) that brought them together is love, i.e. the Holy Spirit. When they merged, life was created (living souls). This includes all living creatures, of which we are the most dominant. For this reason, we are responsible for the condition of life of all God's creatures. God uses us to fulfill our creators will, and it is the Holy Spirit that does the work in us, whereby we are given the capacity to love others even as Jesus loved us.

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God uses us to fulfill our creators will, and it is the Holy Spirit that does the work in us, whereby we are given the capacity to love others even as Jesus loved us.

 

This really rings true with me also, JZM. We are created "in God" and, therefore, something of God is in us. There are, of course, different terms for this -- the image of God, the inner light, divinity, the inner spark, spirit, some might even call it the Christ-nature. Going again to metaphor, I look at it as God putting his DNA in us. I.e. God has encoded within us the capability for us to become fully human, incarnated ikons of his life and love on earth. This is a distinction from some deistic concepts that God either programmed or wound-up the universe and either then walked away or is watching "from a distance" in a detached manner. In my understanding, I don't think God would play that way with us given how rare sentients seems to be. He doesn't "intervene" with the universe from a distance or from a place outside of it. Rather, he interacts with it through the natural processes of both the material nature we find around us and the moral nature we find within us.

 

We are making great strides to understand the external and internal material nature.

 

But I think we have a long way to go, still, on understanding the internal moral nature, especially when some people in religion see it as their job to constantly remind us how evil we are at our core.

 

Yes, we can be extremely selfish creatures, very "sinful" in religious terms. And this is where "spirit persons" like Jesus and others do us a good service in exhorting us to "repent" and get back in tune with the moral nature that, I believe, God has placed within each one of us. The DNA is already there. But we need to tune to God's channel to trigger that DNA to help us grow and mature into the creatures that we can be. And, as you've said, we know that DNA is working when we strive and learn to love and Jesus taught us. This is where, if I paraphrased Jesus, I would say that we show that we are God's children by our love.

Edited by Wayseeker
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This really rings true with me also, JZM. We are created "in God" and, therefore, something of God is in us. There are, of course, different terms for this -- the image of God, the inner light, divinity, the inner spark, spirit, some might even call it the Christ-nature. Going again to metaphor, I look at it as God putting his DNA in us. I.e. God has encoded within us the capability for us to become fully human, incarnated ikons of his life and love on earth. This is a distinction from some deistic concepts that God either programmed or wound-up the universe and either then walked away or is watching "from a distance" in a detached manner. In my understanding, I don't think God would play that way with us given how rare sentients seems to be. He doesn't "intervene" with the universe from a distance or from a place outside of it. Rather, he interacts with it through the natural processes of both the material nature we find around us and the moral nature we find within us.

 

We are making great strides to understand the external and internal material nature.

 

But I think we have a long way to go, still, on understanding the internal moral nature, especially when some people in religion see it as their job to constantly remind us how evil we are at our core.

 

Yes, we can be extremely selfish creatures, very "sinful" in religious terms. And this is where "spirit persons" like Jesus and others do us a good service in exhorting us to "repent" and get back in tune with the moral nature that, I believe, God has placed within each one of us. The DNA is already there. But we need to tune to God's channel to trigger that DNA to help us grow and mature into the creatures that we can be. And, as you've said, we know that DNA is working when we strive and learn to love and Jesus taught us. This is where, if I paraphrased Jesus, I would say that we show that we are God's children by our love.

 

 

I'll quote a passage that I think relevant to your post about morality: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. The whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself" But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

 

 

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

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I can go with your deistic understanding of God until the bit about responding to the rain being up to us. The 6 year old can't respond. He or she can't correct the situation, IMO (and I'm sure in yours). But that's where the parental metaphor (which I think is your and my understanding here but I don't think it is JZM's) breaks down, IMO.

 

Yes, Paul, for me, because it is a metaphor, it does break down if taken too literally. I guess that's the only point I was making. I wasn't trying to blame God or say God should be a protector, carrying us every inch of the way, just that the metaphor as parent seems incompatible to me - a real parent looks after their innocent children. This is where, to me, given things like cancer (and other unconquered diseases), droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and even death itself go against the notion that God’s main function is to ensure that each and every one of us has a good life and survives. Granted, it is a nice theological notion and it makes for great “altar calls” if people are promised a Pollyanna world, but it doesn’t reflect reality, imo. I agree the reality is that there is suffering in the world. We have to deal with the real tragedies of existence in this world. At the same time, the fact that we are here and can know life and love to some measure, is that all chance, a mere product of evolution? Quite possibly. Why would that be too much of a stretch. I don't see evolution as chance but rather millions and millions of years of development resulting in where we are today. So I see it as no suprise that a creature like a human being has evolved to a point where it has developed the mental capcity to know life and love. If in another million years times other species have the ability to know life and love, I wonder if they'll be having the same discussions?

 

 

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I certainly wouldn't want a parent who doesn't want to/can't be involved in my life every step of the way. Sure a parent needs to give their child some space to grow, but a parent doesn't just set and forget and leave its kids up to their own devices until they find the right way to live.

 

Granted. But the role of a parent is not a simple one. For instance, how “involved” in your life do you want your mother-in-law (or your own biological mother) to be each and every day? :blink: For me, the more my mother-in-law would try to “intervene” in my life, the worse our relationship would get (just being honest). <_< As an adult, I want my parents there as advisors, but not as controllers or manipulators. Many of the Christians that I have known seek God out as a Father as a way to control or manipulate events in their lives. They want God to fix things or make things easy for them. They want an external kingdom where God rules with a rod of iron. I question if that is the wisest understanding of God that we can come to. Again, as you say ,"as an adult" you wouldn't want a controller/manipulator parent. Of course not, I agree, and so the metaphor of God as parent fits fairly nicely here. It's the innocent child that isn't getting the parental support that, for me, sees the 'parent' metaphor of God as a poor one.

 

 

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Using your own example as an abused child, if one of your children was being abused I would expect you would step in and take action, not sit back and let events unfold as they may. That's what a parent does.

 

True, especially when they are young and rather defenseless. But as the father of two grown children, I see them hurt and “abused” by many things in this world (divorce, economics, bad relationships, drugs) and I have not been able to step in and take action in each and every situation, no matter how much I love them. They are sentient human beings and have to make their own decisions. I cannot control and manipulate their lives for them, no matter how much I might want them to have good and meaningful lives. My role, as a parent, has changed over time. I still love them with all my heart, but I am now an advisor whom, I hope, has occasionally given good advice and who has sometimes set a good example. Again, the parent metaphor fits nicely when you have adult children or children capable of making mature decisions. But you wouldn't be a parent if you didn't do everything you could possibly do to protect them when they can't protect themselves. What's the point of viewing God as a parent if God doesn't parent you when you're young and innocent and unable to protect yourself?

 

 

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I agree with you that the quality of our life is left up to us for the most part, but that is not true for the innocent child suffering. I too believe we can either make our world more like heaven or more like hell and that generally, if the innocent suffer, it is not because God has failed in his duty as a creator/father, but because we have failed, as God’s creations/children, to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers.

 

Yes, I wasn’t saying that the innocent are responsible for their own lives, I was saying that we, collectively, are – at least to some extent.

 

 

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But for me, that simply further breaks down the metaphor of God being like a parent to everyone - rather, God seems to only be a parent to adults who have the mind to make choices about their behaviour.

 

I kinda see it this way also, Paul. I certainly don’t want to paint the typical portrait of the deist God as a dead-beat Father who sires creation/children and then goes off to do his own thing elsewhere. Rather, this is, to me, where God as Spirit comes in. God is, imo, an ever-present source of life and love that we can *always* tap into – if we choose to do so. An analogy might be a radio frequency that is always there, but we don’t always tune to it. And some of us may have better tuners than others. That “God-frequency” is both within and without us, and it never goes off the air. That's a nice analogy but to me it still says something about this type of God if God is unavailable for those that are too young to use a radio.

 

 

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"We can do that by learning to love one another, but that is our choice, not something that God can do for us." - then God isn't a parent to the abused, innocent child.

 

Sadly, tragically, I agree, not in the best sense of a protective, nurturing parent. My father continued to physically abuse me until I left home at 15. It didn’t stop, despite all my prayers for God to intervene on my behalf. And my story is nothing compared to that of others. So I have had to reject that notion of God as a personal protector, a fortress, a shelter in the time of storm, etc. And I agree with you there - I certainly don't see a God intervening to protect the innocent, so at risk of being seen as drumming on, God is therefore not like a parent.

 

 

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Maybe God doesn't love us personally?

 

Maybe not, at least not in the way typically presented. But is a God who doesn’t love us personally (as persons), but loves us collective (as humanity) a good concept either? It can be I guess, but I'm not sure what it would mean to love somebody but to not help them when they need it, if you could. So perhaps such a God could love us all collectively, but to me is then powerless to help those he loves.I don’t know. Nevertheless, I find myself responding to God “personally”. I don’t worship God because he always protects me, keeps me safe from harm, or has promised to fix things when I get to heaven. I worship God because, to the best of *my* knowledge and experience, God is the source of life and love in our universe. I want to tune my life to that channel because I think it is best for me and the world. I can understand that and that seems reasonable to me.

 

By the way, your photo has changed a little. Is it the hair? :D

Edited by Paul Smedley
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Do you believe in God? If so, why does your concept of God allow suffering? Why doesn't he intervene? I'm monotheistic in that I think "God" is a term used to identify our origin, and polytheistic in that I believe "God" consists of two fundamental parts (spirit and matter). We are a product of God; we too consist of spirit and matter. We are God's offspring made in God's image. Our father is spiritual, our mother is material, and the force (power) that brought them together is love, i.e. the Holy Spirit. When they merged, life was created (living souls). This includes all living creatures, of which we are the most dominant. For this reason, we are responsible for the condition of life of all God's creatures. God uses us to fulfill our creators will, and it is the Holy Spirit that does the work in us, whereby we are given the capacity to love others even as Jesus loved us.

 

JZM, no I don't believe in God, but I continue to explore and question if 'God' does mean something. However, a God who allows suffering of the innocent can't at the same time be considered a 'parent', IMO, as I think you've gotten the drift of by now. I think it makes a nice analogy as adults as a tie in to saying the way we act results in what sort of life we have. But that only fits the God as parent petaphor when you're dealing with adults. God is no parent to an innocent child who is being sexually abused, starved to death, etc, if God as parent doesn't intervene. Nobody would want a parent like that.

 

So I'm not saying God is like that, I'm just saying your metaphor of God as parent doesn't fit for young kiddies (and maybe now I'll extend that to the mentally disabled and/or insane). IMO.

Edited by Paul Smedley
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JZM, no I don't believe in God, but I continue to explore and question if 'God' does mean something. However, a God who allows suffering of the innocent can't at the same time be considered a 'parent', IMO, as I think you've gotten the drift of by now. I think it makes a nice analogy as adults as a tie in to saying the way we act results in what sort of life we have. But that only fits the God as parent petaphor when you're dealing with adults. God is no parent to an innocent child who is being sexually abused, starved to death, etc, if God as parent doesn't intervene. Nobody would want a parent like that.

 

So I'm not saying God is like that, I'm just saying your metaphor of God as parent doesn't fit for young kiddies (and maybe now I'll extend that to the mentally disabled and/or insane). IMO.

 

 

Maybe God would be better viewed as a term used to simply identify our origin, then. I am using the term "parents" in this manner, not in the sense that God watches over us, making sure we remain safe from harm. God is simply a term used to identify the origin of life. I took the liberty of adding some poetics in the mix. I do understand where you are coming from.

Edited by Jagged Zen Monkey
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Paul, I appreciate your honesty in all this, and your good humor, too!

 

Obviously, these notions of "God as a parent" are not ones that either of us have just recently started thinking about. :) For me, because my father was not that good at fathering (other than siring), I longed for some kind of father-figure in my life, and my theistic notions of God as Father attempted to fill that void for many years. Though I inwardly struggled with the notion (for many of the reasons that you have cited), I did find *some* comfort there. Was it all false delusion? I don't know. And to this day, if asked to pray in public, I will start my prayers with, "Father...", not because I think of God as the perfect, literal father, but because that is my religious background and I still invision God in a somewhat fatherly role as the Source of life and love. Am I deluded and a hypocrite? I suppose it is possible. But, to the best of my ability, it is what I know at this point. And when I know better, I will do better. :)

 

The problem is theodicy is, imo, Christianity's Achilles Heel. This is especially so if the flavor of Christianity involved is of the supernatural theist bent, where God is all-powerful (can do anything), all-loving (of each and every person), and all-good (wanting to do good to everyone). Within supernatural theism, I've found no convincing answers or solutions to that problem, though I've considered many. And I especially loathe the cop-outs that God is a mystery or that we simply need to trust him to make heaven better.

 

To be honest, I'm not convinced that my kind of deism offers a much better solution. To say that God cares about us as a race but that his concern is not an overwhelming passion/personal care down to the individual level seems cold. But perhaps this is because we come from such a highly individualized society where everything is about me, myself, and I. So maybe we think God should be as obsessed with our individuality as we are, I don't know.

 

But, as you've said, pain and suffering are a reality (and, yes, I know that some on this board would disagree with my statement for reasons of their own -- I don't wish to debate this). I would hope that most agnostics and atheists agree with this reality and would be willing to do *something* to help alleviate *some* of the pain and suffering in this world. Though I believe most would, I am not convinced that it would be the "survival of the fittest" paradigm that would lead to such attitudes and actions. To me, the SOTF paradigm truly *is* individualistic, seeking personal survival at the cost of others and, sometimes, our limited resources.

 

I am convinced that God is real, though I also know that all human concepts of God fall short of the reality. But my conclusion that God is real is based, not on faith, but on evidence that I found to be convincing to *me*. Others may not be so convinced. At the same time, I have to admit that I could be wrong. Maybe there really is no being such as God. Maybe, as some progressives say, God is nothing more than a concept that we hold to in our heads. If that is indeed the case, but that concept, though not reflecting reality, still motivates us to do something about the pain and suffering in the world, still motivates us to love one another, then what harm is there in that delusion?

 

Likewise, if an atheistic or an agnostic still follows the path of compassion, tries to help people when he/she can, and endeavors to become a better person or to work for a better world, then it doesn't matter to me whether they believe in God or not. They still believe in our best human concepts of God and the role that God might play if God were/is real. This is why I've said before that some people follow Jesus without ever knowing his name or hearing his teachings. Is this just the result of "natural selection" or the "survival of the fittest"? I don't think so. But, then, I only have 5 pounds of brain and the experts say that we only use 10% of that! So I do the best I can with my half-pounder! :lol:

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