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Supernaturalism


Lee Tasey
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I've been wondering if supernaturalism is true or if some other conception of God, like process theism, is true. Supernaturalism doesn't seem to "fit" well with our world (Why did the God of classical theism use evolution to create the world? It seems very unbenevolent, unwise, and just not powerful. Yet the God of process theism must create through evolution, because this God's power is persuasive, not coersive.)

 

When I look at the world, and see it through the lenses of physics and biology, its hard to believe that supernaturalism is true.

 

Which conception of God out there best appropriates the data of the world (the big bang, evolution, the mind/body problem, world religions, etc?)

 

Lee

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I've been wondering if supernaturalism is true or if some other conception of God, like process theism, is true.

 

I'm not sure what you mean by "supernaturalism." Do you mean "big man in the sky" views of God? God as outside the universe? Who created species as they are in a specific amount of time?

 

Then yes, I'd say "supernaturalism" is untrue.

 

Which conception of God out there best appropriates the data of the world (the big bang, evolution, the mind/body problem, world religions, etc?)

 

Sometimes I think I'd make a better Vaishnivite (Hindu) than a Christian because my views of God, Christ, the meaning of life, etc ... are very far outside traditional Christianity (although perhaps not Eastern Orthodoxy). However, I think my views have a home in Christianity even moreso than the literalists. The early Church fathers were very mystical and I continually find the things I think of reflected in their views.

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I know I sound like a broken record to some of you but I must again proclaim my allegiance to mysticism as it is offered by the Perennial Philosophy of people like Aldous Huxley & Alan Watts. Christianity and all the great wisdom traditions are based on the PP. Huxley wrote a great anthology on the PP in the 40s entitled THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY. Here's a link to a summary of PP by Huxley which was an intro to a new translation at the time of the BHAGAVAD GITA > http://members.tripod.com/~parvati/perennial.html

 

Watts, in MYTH & RITUAL IN CHRISTIANITY, claims that most Christian myth and ritual does a good job of presenting PP. He thinks that most Christian theologians don't get it and this has undermined the effectiveness of Christianity over the centuries.

 

PP is clearly closer to Process Theology and its Panentheism than to a supernatural theism. Marcus Borg does a great job of contrasting these two concepts of God in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.

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PP is clearly closer to Process Theology and its Panentheism than to a supernatural theism.  Marcus Borg does a great job of contrasting these two concepts of God in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.

 

MT, I'm a perennialist, although I don't often use the term anymore. I'm also a panentheist. I'm not a Process Theist however. I probably fall closer to "Idealism."

 

Here is a great article about Chrisitan Perennialism. Christian Perennial Philosophy

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Which conception of God out there best appropriates the data of the world (the big bang, evolution, the mind/body problem, world religions, etc?)

 

Lee

 

I haven't seen that anyone looks to the details of science to say who God is in terms of power, knowledge, love, and goodness. I was surprised to see how much in the scientific mainstream the director of the Vatican Observatory, George Coyne, is when I saw him speak a few years ago. He is both a Jesuit priest and research astronomer, who lectured about stellar evolution in a thoroughly mainstream way. He referred to Genesis as "stories". He allowed the possibility that God is not the Creator, but uses the universe as an opportunity for whatever His purposes are. If God is the Creator, it's fine with Father Coyne, too. Unless one insists there is only one possible truth, it's hard to be dogmatic about what that truth is.

 

Twenty years ago, I was at my peak of enthusiasm about believing both in theistic evolution and that God is love, that both represented a position that many people could embrace. That's not the way it is, though. Even just to admit that evolution is a fact is difficult for so many people. Then to admit God is a fact, even if the atheists are right that my experiences of God are just a better part of me, is difficult for so many other people.

 

Then for those who can be certain about evoution, what is God's role in that? Does He nudge it? Does He wait knowing that while many aspects of our body plan are utterly arbitrary, intelligent life was a niche to be filled eventually? Would God have been just as happy having fellowship with an octupus? Maybe He did.

 

Likewise, what is love? Is the greatest love defined by being unconditional or by being interdependent, including God being dependent on His beloved?

 

Personally, I don't find it helps me at all in relating to God to decide that He is Creator or not. The Bible is based on Him being Creator. I don't find it trustworthy. I also don't know about all these attributes - God seems more intuitive than knowledgeable to me.

 

I'm sure my favorite definition of God will always be that God is the one who answers when I pray, "God help me!". No one else likes that. It's a pity. It's one way to start with something real instead of something like the ultimate creation, which is obscure to everyone.

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I feel God the Father, the supernaturalist or pure consciousness the panentheist (the same thing just different angles and words to describe) created and supports creation through evolution.

 

There is still oneness in the all-pervading consciousness, but it becomes lost in the individual awareness of the parts in evolution. Jesus says, "I and The Father are one," so after productive experiences in evolution the individual parts again become aware of the affinity of all things in God or pure consciousness. Eventually, the individual again merges in the ocean of pure consciousness to sit at the right hand of The Father in equilibrium. "I and The Father are one."

 

Does this make sense?

 

The different religions or isms would be the different languages that God speaks to bring us back to him, and the different paths are the different ways to experience the pure consciousness that incorporates everything.

Edited by soma
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We have human emotions so the supernaturalist is a nice image to have a personal relationship with, we can love and talk to the Father or Jesus, and they listen. The pure consciousness is the all pervading God that unites us in an abstract medium of love so we are all united. It also helps us to space out and cleanse our emotions.

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Guest wayfarer2k

I think Borg does do a pretty good job of tacking this subject in "The Heart of Christianity", although I think he refers more to "supernatural theism."

 

The point he makes, and I think it is a good one, is that "super-natural" seems to imply that God and his creation are separate. He is there. His creation is here. There is the "natural" and then there is THAT/He/She/It then is totally distinct from the natural.

 

Panentheism does seem to offer some hope, especially for reforming fundamentalists like me, to see God and his creation as bound together, or maybe as intertwined to the extent that they should not be considered to be separate.

 

I no longer hold to a supernatural theism point-of-view. It hasn't been easy to let this go because it has been instilled in me since I was 12. But it no longer makes sense and, at least for me, it raises more questions and problems than it solves. If we experience "the supernatural", I would tend to think that it must come from within, not from without.

 

wayfarer

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Wayfarer2k, You are right on making sense about what is beyond our minds. We are all in the same boat. I look at your avatar, icon or picture and no way could I describe it because it is beyond words. I do like it because it says more than words could express.

 

My mind in the physical world so it thinks of things; therefore, I relate to Jesus as a man. His life and sacrifice motivates me to be better and sacrifice to make the world or life better for all, but I know he is more than a man.

 

Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” This is where the formless becomes visible and the pure consciousness of God becomes expressed in the unit consciousness of an individual in the form of Christ consciousness.

 

Excuse me for using Christ consciousness, it is like your icon, I like it because it expresses to me what is beyond words.

 

In Christ consciousness the human ego with which most of us identify is nothing but a tool to do service with on this earthly plane, the external reality. The inward reality is linked with the inward reality of the whole universe. In Christ consciousness there is a place in the mind that merges with the Mind of God and draws strength and inspiration from it. Therefore, Christ said, "I and the Father are one." The words, "I and the Father are one" can be interpreted to mean that I, the individual ego does not exist. The Father is everything so nothing has existence except pure consciousness; God is all there is; and I am a nonentity. Christ consciousness is not identified with the ego; therefore, Christ is the image of the true self that is developed. He is a model for us to imitate, an ideal that exists in our hearts and is a tangential point between the microcosm and the macrocosm. Jesus is pointing to God, the Father so I should not mistake his fingers as the goal and run over his hand, but see Jesus as the way.

 

I like you see God and His creation as one, but I identify more with the creation. Jesus is in creation showing me how God and His creation are united.

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PP is clearly closer to Process Theology and its Panentheism than to a supernatural theism.  Marcus Borg does a great job of contrasting these two concepts of God in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.

 

MT, I'm a perennialist, although I don't often use the term anymore. I'm also a panentheist. I'm not a Process Theist however. I probably fall closer to "Idealism."

 

Here is a great article about Chrisitan Perennialism. Christian Perennial Philosophy

 

A really great article. Thanks.

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  • 1 month later...

Soma, I'm a big fan of the idea of Christ Consciousness. It may not necessarily be a Christian phrase (not really sure), but it certainly has a strong parallel in Christ's own proclamation that he is "The Way, the Truth, the Light" or the scriptural notice of "putting on Christ". To me, taking Christ's Way or putting on Christ is just another way of allowing the mind or consiousness of Christ grow in you. It's the mystic's way. You may even relate it to the process of being born again.

 

Lee, I think the term Supernatural to refer to the miraculous nature of God and God-filled people is really kind of a misnomer. From the perspective of God being the living force flowing through and comprising all things, their is nothing that can or need be Super Natural. God is sufficient for all things, all occurences. Think about some of the things we take for granted as ordinary. Before its human conception, simple broadcoast radio would have been considered supernatural or miraculous. We'll never unlock all the secrets of the Universe. Semantics aside, saying their is nothing supernatural (miraculous) is like saying we (as a civilization) understand the Universe in its entirety and nothing else can possibly happen outside that understanding.

Edited by fatherman
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I posted this earlier on another site, but it may be appropriate here:

 

 

MYSTICISM AND DOGMATISM: “Everything that Rises Must Converge” (Teilhard de Chardin)

 

Jesus said, “I will draw all men to Me.” ALL men. Of course, such drawing is more obvious in some cases than in others.

 

When St Thomas Aquinas finished writing the long, dogmatic, SUMMA THEOLOGICA, he is reported to have said "Burn it. It is straw." Supposedly he said this under the influence of a more direct apprehension of God.

 

My thesis, baldly stated, is that dogma divides; mysticism unites. Or to put it less baldly, dogma is the scaffolding of religion, to be removed once the building is complete. Or perhaps, to switch the analogy and its import, the scales that musicians learn, only to be forgotten, absorbed, or transcended when a certain level of mastery is achieved.

 

Paul William Roberts reports on his conversation with a Sufi mystic, the Ayatollah Khazzari, who said, "We have made a great error turning our faith into our politics. It has twisted the truth in it, making the inner outer, the particular general. Are not all religions one?"

 

Mysticism tends to see dogmatic positions as guidelines toward the ineffable, not as full statements of divine truth. The limitations of language, coupled with the limitation of the human mind, render all such statements ultimately unsatisfactory. Our fundamental categories of Being and Non-Being, the basis of our logic, are, mystics tell us, inadequate: God transcends such a distinction. The ideas of God constructed by dogma inevitably produce an anthropomorphic God.

 

The dogmatist distrusts mysticism. One favorite thrust is that mysticism "begins in mist, and ends in schism." To the dogmatist, the mystic eschews the clarity of thought afforded by dogmas, and ends by disregarding those dogmas altogether.

 

The mystic, of course, sees the dogmas as shackles in his/her pursuit of the divine. They seem totally inadequate to the subject. The Kabbalist Rabbi Eliezar ben Judah, of Worms (d. 1230), wrote:

 

"Everything is in Thee, and Thou art in everything. Thou fillest everything and dost encompass it, when everything was created. Thou was in everything, before everything was created. Thou was everything."

 

The dogmatist screams "Pantheism!"

 

Karen Armstrong notes "Unlike dogmatic religion, which lends itself to sectarian disputes, mysticism often claims that there are as many roads to God as there are people. Sufism in particular would evolve an outstanding appreciation of the faith of others." We are like the blind men and the elephant, each thinking the whole beast is like that part which he feels. One Sufi said, “There is no God but Allah, and Jesus is his prophet.”

 

In the words of Leon Bloy, "The words of those who love God are like the tears of blind lions seeking springs in the desert." Dogmas have their usefulness if they are seen as inadequate constructs of the human mind, rather than as statements of ultimate reality. The dogmas developed in a certain religious culture may be adequate for that culture, but it should be remembered that other cultures have their own ways and their own beliefs, which may be just as adequate for them.

 

The "hesychasts" (quiet ones) of the Eastern Church sought an intuitive union with the divine, often using icons as foci of contemplation. Gregory of Nyssa wrote "every concept grasped by the mind becomes an obstacle in the quest of those who search." "Intuition" means "inner teaching," and this reflects the fact, that one searches within for union. The paradox is that one must overcome, or transcend, Ego, and yet at the same time, seek to be in touch with one's deepest self. Augustine saw self-knowledge as indispensable to the knowledge of God. The Sufis had an axiom: "He who knows himself, knows his Lord."

 

Sufis practices fasting, night vigils, and chanting the Divine Names. In this, they were colleagues of both Christian and Buddhists monks. God is at heart utter simplicity and oneness, but there are as many paths to him as there are rays of the sun. When he died, Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, was visiting a Buddhist monastery.

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So many ways to alter our consciousness, we are so blessed. The words our only to quiet the intellect so we can listen to the quiet ones. So many questions, so many answers, too much noise, but it is all necessary.

 

I like the Sufi saying "Trust in God, but tie up you camel."

Have faith in God, but answer all the questions.

The questions come from guess who and guess who answers them?

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  • 2 weeks later...
PP is clearly closer to Process Theology and its Panentheism than to a supernatural theism.  Marcus Borg does a great job of contrasting these two concepts of God in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.

 

MT, I'm a perennialist, although I don't often use the term anymore. I'm also a panentheist. I'm not a Process Theist however. I probably fall closer to "Idealism."

 

Here is a great article about Chrisitan Perennialism. Christian Perennial Philosophy

 

A really great article. Thanks.

 

What I get out of that article on the Perennial Philosophy is that truth is one, but parts of it can be found in many places. Aquinas said "Whatever has been well said anywhere belongs to us." (He may have been thinking of his adoption of Aristotle, a pagan philosohpher)

 

Jesus said "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold." No, all religions are not the same, but some truth may be found in most of them. This truth would be compatible with the teaching of Jesus.

 

Unlike those Protestants who say that revelation ceased with the Bible, the RCC maintains that there is such a thing as the development of doctrine. This development will not contradict anything developed earlier in Scripture and Tradition, but will more fully reveal it--as Jesus more fully revealed the Torah, and what was essential in it.

 

In keeping with this view of development, the RCC has been reaching out to other religions--Anglicanism, Greek Orthodox, Lutheranism, Judaism, and even Islam. And there have been contacts between Catholics monks and Buddhist monks.

 

All my education has been RC, for which I am grateful, even tho I am no longer a practicing Catholic. I do fail to see why many Evangelicals insist on "sola scriptura." Why limit God? Or His revelation? From my perspective, "sola scriptura" seems to be simply a human fiat.

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What I get out of that article on the Perennial Philosophy is that truth is one, but parts of it can be found in many places.  Aquinas said "Whatever has been well said anywhere belongs to us." 

 

 

That's definitely a good understanding of perennial philosophy. Core truths are universal and can be found in many religions.

 

Simone Weil said something similar to Aquinas. It was my sig line for a while.

 

It seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.

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What I get out of that article on the Perennial Philosophy is that truth is one, but parts of it can be found in many places.  Aquinas said "Whatever has been well said anywhere belongs to us." 

 

 

That's definitely a good understanding of perennial philosophy. Core truths are universal and can be found in many religions.

 

Simone Weil said something similar to Aquinas. It was my sig line for a while.

 

It seemed to me certain, and I still think so today, that one can never wrestle enough with God if one does so out of pure regard for the truth. Christ likes us to prefer truth to him because, before being Christ, he is truth. If one turns aside from him to go toward the truth, one will not go far before falling into his arms.

 

Simone was quite a gal.

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I've been wondering if supernaturalism is true or if some other conception of God, like process theism, is true. Supernaturalism doesn't seem to "fit" well with our world (Why did the God of classical theism use evolution to create the world? It seems very unbenevolent, unwise, and just not powerful. Yet the God of process theism must create through evolution, because this God's power is persuasive, not coersive.)

How about emanation? The further something is from the source (or the Source) the more prone to imperfection. Maybe even.....oh, no :o ....... the Demiurge.

 

When I look at the world, and see it through the lenses of  physics and biology, its hard to believe that supernaturalism is true.

When I look at the world through the lense of quantum physics (especially those super stringy things), its hard to believe that ANYTHING is true. :blink:

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Reason does not destroy faith, but fulfills it so we can use our intelligence as a path to spiritual awareness and when our intellect can say no more, our instinctive spiritual view of life takes over. This provides us with a kind of intuitive perception of God as He is reflected in creation.

 

It is so nice when night falls, but then sunrise is great too. Trying to figure things out spaces me out so again I try to understand what happened.

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PP is clearly closer to Process Theology and its Panentheism than to a supernatural theism.  Marcus Borg does a great job of contrasting these two concepts of God in THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY.

 

MT, I'm a perennialist, although I don't often use the term anymore. I'm also a panentheist. I'm not a Process Theist however. I probably fall closer to "Idealism."

 

Here is a great article about Chrisitan Perennialism. Christian Perennial Philosophy

Perennialist?? Gee! I thought that had to do with flowers... :rolleyes:

 

Actually, I would tend to see panentheism and process theology as being very similar in many respects...at least in that God is viewed--as Tillich might have put it--the "God above the God of theism".

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I did buy the book. But it's in my stack of unreads. Is yours higher than mine ?

Also, perhaps the luthitarian could tell us if the Lutheran church might have been started by Luther Burbank, or did he build the first TV studio in Los Angeles ?

Just wondering since we were talking about flowers.

 

flow.... :D

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