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Goodbye Jesus

The Universe Is God


Neon Genesis

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This is my first time posting a thread in this forum, so I hope this is the right place for it. When you stop and think about it, the universe itself sort of fits the traditional view of an all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful god. The Universe encompasses everything that exists in it and in that sense, you could think of the Universe as being "all-knowing." The things within the Universe may be harmed, but if matter, which makes up the Universe, cannot be created nor destroyed, then in a way the Universe is all-powerful. The Universe allows everyone to exist within it regardless of their beliefs or how they live their life, so in an allegorical sense, it is "all-loving." The way that humans try to protect nature from harm is sort of similar to worshiping god in a way. Like, the way we revere the beauty of Nature is similar to praising a god, but at the same time, we fear Her might and if we disrespect Nature by harming the environment, then we suffer the consequences of our own "divine" punishment that we cause by our actions of harming Nature. At the same time though, the Universe makes no demands of anyone and is unconcerned with how we live our lives and gives us the true freewill to live as we please. The only thing it "asks" of us if you could call it "asking" is for us not to blow ourselves up. It's ironic to me that in my opinion, the only way that an all-loving/knowing/powerful "god" could exist without contradicting itself is if it isn't a sentient supernatural Creator, but rather the natural "spark" that caused the birth of everything, whatever that "spark" may be. And to me, the Universe is the only goddess that is worth "worshiping" and revering, if it can be called that. I just feel like that pantheists are right in a way that the Universe is much like a god in itself (though I prefer to refer to it as a goddess just because). Does anyone else feel the same or am I just not making sense at this point?

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Agree. That's why I sometimes hint to that atheism is a kind of pantheism. Not in the sense of a cosmic consciousness kind of "all is a thinking god" concept, but in the sense, all that we know to exist, exist in the universe, and all there is to know is there, and all power is there, and conscious beings do evolve out from it, so all the components for awareness is part of the fabric of the universe (there are serious scientists that argue this), and much more, which leads to: the Universe is God. (But again, it doesn't mean it is sentient.)

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Neon, I think this is a great forum for posting this subject.

 

I probably come closer to pantheist than any other sort of ideas about God. I began to feel this way after reading "Ethics" by Spinoza. It was a tough read, I still don't grasp much of it, but I came away with a sort of awestruck feeling that he was on to something. God and the whole of nature being the same thing. And of course since we ourselves are also nature, hence we are also God. It connected very well in a way to reading the Upanishads - the early Hindu scriptures. Then I began to view God as possibly a sort of blueprint undergirding the whole thing. I don't know if this makes sense. I don't think the blueprint has been fully discovered by science so God is still unknown in many ways. Probably the human brain is limited in what it can discover.

 

I am not sure this is atheism. It certainly is atheistic with regard to Gods as strictly personal, like a magnified human personality, or something outside of oneself, or anything like Biblegod.

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Agree. That's why I sometimes hint to that atheism is a kind of pantheism. Not in the sense of a cosmic consciousness kind of "all is a thinking god" concept, but in the sense, all that we know to exist, exist in the universe, and all there is to know is there, and all power is there, and conscious beings do evolve out from it, so all the components for awareness is part of the fabric of the universe (there are serious scientists that argue this), and much more, which leads to: the Universe is God. (But again, it doesn't mean it is sentient.)
Wikipedia mentioned there was a form of pantheism called naturalistic pantheism but they didn't go into very much detail about it. Is this basically what naturalistic pantheism is?

 

I am not sure this is atheism. It certainly is atheistic with regard to Gods as strictly personal, like a magnified human personality, or something outside of oneself, or anything like Biblegod.
I don't know if this counts as atheism, either. I just referenced "sexed up" atheism because that's what Richard Dawkins called it in The God Delusion but to me this makes perfect sense. It's like naturalistic pantheism is a way of having the best of both worlds. You can be spiritual with it without having to betray your logic at the same time and to me it just really fits the traditional definition of god so much that it almost seems a shame to not use it. I'm also starting to feel like if the gods are made by humans, there's no real reason why we shouldn't use the gods to the benefit of humanity. Not in a literal, supernatural sense, but in a allegorical sense that can be inspiring if that makes sense at all. Though I'm not quite sure if I would define humans as being gods, but the universe has this god-like awe to it though not necessarily supernatural.
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I can see what you're saying. The universe is everything that we can grasp, and more.

 

The universe is also nature itself, and a god is defined as supernatural.

 

For me, the natural universe has plenty to offer, in fact, everything that exists. That is why I can't find evidence, or even a use for the "supernatural."

 

Even though it isn't supernatural, it is awe-inspiring just the same.

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Wikipedia mentioned there was a form of pantheism called naturalistic pantheism but they didn't go into very much detail about it. Is this basically what naturalistic pantheism is?

Probably. It sounds like it could be a correct label...

 

The universe is also nature itself, and a god is defined as supernatural.

 

For me, the natural universe has plenty to offer, in fact, everything that exists. That is why I can't find evidence, or even a use for the "supernatural."

True. But pantheism in general doesn't and can't logically declare the "god who is everything" to be above that which is everything, so pantheism in general is a definition of a god which is not supernatural. And doesn't some religions believe humans are gods? Does it require that humans also are supernatural? I suspect "supernatural" might not be a definitive requirement for the definition of a "god". For Theism and Deism it would have to be, but does it mean all religions have to be fit into just one or two religious templates?

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Guest Zenobia

Neon G - I *grok* you man!!! (in case the reference is lost on you - its from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. Major epiphanies while reading this book BTW!!)

 

You have expressed the way I believe, almost exactly. I see the "divine" in Nature and believe that the Universe of and by itself has infinate power and infinate knowledge. Best of all - it's impartial. It doesn't ask anything of us, doesn't thrive on our guilt. We live and we die and how we live is mostly up to us.

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I've also heard some serious scientists put forward this notion. In the scenario of the Universe as God, humans are componential to God, and as far as we know they are the only beings capable of perceiving the universe in this way. On its own, it's only the universe, but when consciousness exists within it, it can become God. It would be nonsensical to imagine the universe itself as conscious or self-aware in any way comparable to ourselves, since self-awareness as we know it only emerges in interaction with other self-aware beings on the same order of existence. We don't imagine a god standing outside of ourselves in this way, but we can imagine ourselves as a tiny part of something massive and full of life-generating energy. It's funny how that last sounds like a new-age phrasing, yet it's literally true.

 

Certain myths in Hinduism, Qabbala, and other places coincidentally fit with with this idea of God. Whether it's a unified brahman or an Adam Kadmon, there's a common story of an entity that contains everyone and everything (and is thus also nothing and no one in particular) fragmenting and dividing into matter and eventually into multiple conscious beings. The end of times comes with the collection of everything back into a single collectivity. A universe which big-bangs, expands, and falls back in on itself in a never-ending cycle fits these myths rather well. Of course, our current science indicates there's a better chance that our universe will expand more rapidly than gravity can ever pull it back together. I find the idea of God passing away in heat death rather sad.

 

Within this ultimate collectivity, we can imagine smaller ones. For example, the totality of human connection and meaning-making is also a sort of god to me. (Neon Genesis, if you're aware of Evangelion, that anime drew on Qabbalic and Buddhist legends of a unifying and splintering god applied to a human scale.) Here, within God come to be gods. Since we're not speaking of supernatural entities, but of real totalities in charged metaphoric terms, some theists and atheists alike might wonder what the point is. The point, for me at least, is that imagining ourselves as part of something infinite feels potent and meaningful. The strictly descriptive terms of science don't cut it for conveying the sense of magnitude and power of the universe or of humanity within it, and the language of myth and metaphor is the only human creation I know of which comes close. But does appreciating the universe in this way just mean feeling good? Neon G., I really like the idea of worship as material practice, with your example of protecting other kinds of life as worship making the point extremely well.

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What you say makes perfect sense - and echoes the way I have often thought.

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Neon Genesis, if you're aware of Evangelion, that anime drew on Qabbalic and Buddhist legends of a unifying and splintering god applied to a human scale.) Here, within God come to be gods.
Yes, I've seen Evangelion and my username comes from that series in fact. That's really interesting because I knew Evangelion used Judea-Christian symbolism but I didn't know it also included symbolism from other religions.
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Yes, I've seen Evangelion and my username comes from that series in fact. That's really interesting because I knew Evangelion used Judea-Christian symbolism but I didn't know it also included symbolism from other religions.

 

Eva draws most heavily on Gnostic Christianity and Qabbalic Judaism, with several twists on both from Buddhist thought native to Japan. (There could be Shinto or other influences, too, though I wouldn't recognize them.) Some of the imagery, like the cross-shaped explosions, amounts to window-dressing using symbols which Japanese viewers would see as exotic. The less familiar imagery and the conflicts implicit in the plot draw on submerged lines of mystical philosophy within Judeo-Christian tradition, which differ sometimes radically from contemporary mainstream Christianity. My girlfriend spent her college years studying these lines of thought, so she got quite a kick out of Eva. Since it's the source of your username, you probably have thought it over some, too. The heresy involved in figuring Lilith, not Adam, as the mother of humanity doubles when Rei/Lilith rejects patriarchal authority and incorporates Adam into herself, thus bringing about Armageddon as the reunification of humanity in her image. Fun stuff, and I'm wondering if the remake that's currently underway will be equally subject to multiple interpretations.

 

The notion of the Universe as God inspired me to think of a different heresy, a sort of Asimovian bit of fancy. Above, I mentioned how our current science indicates that the universe will expand forever and die a slow, entropic death. Imagine now that the only means to bring about the regathering of the universe would be by the directed technology of conscious beings. This is, of course, science fiction--it is myth intended to be meaningful. The collapse of the universe, accomplished perhaps by gathering stars and building black holes, is not something they can set up to happen once heat death has already set in. They must bring it about through their own actions. They would cause the eventual end of their own existence so that the universe would collapse back in on itself, and eventually bring about another big bang, another universe full of life, with another kind of conscious being eventually faced with the same decision. In this case, the conscious beings are humans. And so it came to pass that humanity so loved God that it sacrificed its every child so that God may not perish, but have everlasting life.

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I'm cool with this idea. I don't feel like going back into my notes to explain in detail how I came to my conclusions, but I consider the Universe "the base" of everything. It contains all reality. I don't consider it a god, but I do consider it the foundation on which my existence makes sense.

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"But pantheism in general doesn't and can't logically declare the "god who is everything" to be above that which is everything, so pantheism in general is a definition of a god which is not supernatural. And doesn't some religions believe humans are gods? Does it require that humans also are supernatural? I suspect "supernatural" might not be a definitive requirement for the definition of a "god".

 

I easily get lost in discussions like this, so please bear with me.

 

Is "pantheism" in this context a way to still be "spiritual" and recognize a "god" even when you realize that there is nothing beyond the natural world/universe? Is some people's desire to have a god so strong that they will call everyday reality "god?"

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I don't know. To me it seems like just a flowery way of describing reality.

 

Sure you can call the universe "god". What does that really add?

 

Does this very minimal form of anthropomorphication give you a better handle on something that seems to big to comprehend?

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge this kind of belief, I've just never really understood it. Seems like trying to add to something I already see as complete.

 

IMOHO,

:thanks:

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Awesome post Neon. I agree. Couldn't have said it better myself...in fact I was thinking of saying it but didn't know how!

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I don't know. To me it seems like just a flowery way of describing reality.

 

Sure you can call the universe "god". What does that really add?

 

Does this very minimal form of anthropomorphication give you a better handle on something that seems to big to comprehend?

 

Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge this kind of belief, I've just never really understood it. Seems like trying to add to something I already see as complete.

 

IMOHO,

:thanks:

I can understand why this would seem confusing to others and I don't expect everyone to get it but it's just the more I think about it from this perspective, the more it makes sense to me. I guess maybe I still have some sort of desire for something spiritual in my life but the other beliefs out there just confuse me. I can't go back to Christianity because one reason being I can't believe it's true without evidence and also because I still feel like I was betrayed by Jesus to even consider it. I can't believe in other theistic religions because I can't believe in the supernatural without evidence. Deism just confuses and depresses me because I can't understand why a supernatural sentient god would create the universe but then just flat out ignore us, so what else am I left with? I also feel somewhat hypocritical because even though I don't believe in a supernatural sentient god the other night I tried praying to god for the first time in ages. I can't even remember the last time I prayed, I just remember the last couple of times I did, it was always out of anger and frustration. I didn't pray to any specific god or even ask for any evidence or a miracle. I just prayed that if there was any god out there, to please love everyone and if they were truly all-loving, to save all of us. Yet I didn't believe in any of it, I just felt like it wouldn't hurt to do it for some reason, sort of like a final last request. I don't really know anymore. I think maybe it was Jeff's recent brief reconversion that made me start thinking that it wasn't a bad thing to believe and I started missing things from when I was a Christian. I just missed having something to believe in but I'm trying to find something that makes sense and I just can't bring myself to believe in the supernatural or magical invisible sky daddies that answer prayers and send miracles. I guess I'm just trying to look at pantheism as the next best thing, if that makes sense..
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Hey Neon,

 

Some questions that occurred to me while reading your posts here.

 

 

Do you feel that disconnected from the universe that you have to reshape it inside your head to fit to the concept of god?

or

Do you crave the concept of god so badly that you have to shape it to fit the universe?

 

What makes you think that the universe "asks" that we don't destroy ourselves?

 

How is this idea of asking not applying intelligence and intent to the universe?

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Sounds more to me like anthropomorphizing the Universe.

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I have a very similar way of seeing things, Neon.

 

It's not so much that I think of the universe as a "god" entity, I just have a kind of awed spirituality about just how intricate and beautiful the universe is, and how everything plays out in it. I think it's exactly the opposite of a god thing really - I am in awe of the universe for the opposite reason than those with gods are, the awe of how it is chance and gravity and matter and luck that bring it all together without any sort of divine intelligence. To me, there is nothing god-like about the universe, but there is something life-like about it, like a beast that should be treated with respect so it won't lash out at you. If I may borrow a bit from Central American mythology, it's like how caves seem to breathe because of natural vents and create water and shelter. The universe is our cave, and we should be careful not to make it unlivable, because it's the only one we have that we know of.

 

Also, the way math figures into it all is pretty awe inspiring as well, as you realize that humans didn't create pattern and uniformity, the universe did, we just gave it a name and expanded on the concept.

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Do you feel that disconnected from the universe that you have to reshape it inside your head to fit to the concept of god?

or

Do you crave the concept of god so badly that you have to shape it to fit the universe?

 

What makes you think that the universe "asks" that we don't destroy ourselves?

 

How is this idea of asking not applying intelligence and intent to the universe?

 

I won't answer these questions for NG, though I will point out some assumptions here. The third and fourth questions strike me as very reasonable queries to understand NG's ideas. The first two questions strike me as very loaded. Here's why. They ask whether NG's perspective results from some disconnection or craving which requires a reshaping of either God or the Universe to fit the other. Phrasing the questions in terms of a "reshaping" of some pre-existent object suggests some prior and given nature of both god and the universe which is either self-evident or shared among all of us. The word choice of disconnection and craving also portrays as pathological the reasons for which NG would "reshape" one or the other in this way. To answer this either/or pair of questions on their own terms, NG essentially would have to say, "I'm sick-headed in this way," or "I'm sick-headed in that way."

 

I'm not seeing NG's thoughts here as the result of any kind of lack. I'm also not seeing him reshaping his notion of the universe, and he is only reshaping God if we are taking the Christian god or some other god as the starting point. Instead, I'm seeing him finding it useful and productive to label the universe as he perceives it, "God." The project strikes me as one of rendering a reality whose breadth defies comprehension into terms that are emotionally meaningful.

 

I would ask those concerned with anthropomorphizing the universe if they have studied physics, and if so, if they have spoken of particles or objects "seeking" a state of equilibrium. Or, for that matter, if anyone has ever used "evolved" as an active verb (e.g. "dinosaurs evolved into birds"), thus conjuring a transhistorical subject to describe a non-agentive process of natural selection. In English (and maybe in human language) discussing non-human processes with no recourse to humanizing language can prove exceedingly difficult, and not necessarily even desirable. I would like to know what NG means by the universe asking that we don't destroy ourselves, also, but an anthropomorphic use of language does not necessarily imply literal intelligence and intent.

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Besides which... we're not really supposed to go after anyone for how they believe in the ex-christian theism/spirituality forum :) Per the sticky :)

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Although I can say that I agree with you on one level, my preference for words with which to describe the Universe differs from yours, especially since what we normally refer to as our Universe is everything that came from the big bang that led to our existence here on Earth - in the outskirts of this great All. Scientists now often speak of a "Multiverse", that is - many big bangs that are somehow mutually independent, but one may of course also use the term "Universe" for everything that exists, in which case it would include the other masses of big bangs.

 

Anyway, enough speculation about Uni- and Multiverses. What I really wanted to say is that as an ex-Christian, I find that the word "god" - even with a capital G - doesn't do the great All justice, mostly because the word "god" implies that there is some personal power behind it all and which would make me a deist or a theist. Instead, I see the great All as everything that is, and - at least on Earth - often the same as Nature. Nature is everything and nothing at the same time. That is to say that everything plays a part in Nature - everything on Earth has its place in the great circle of life, in its ecosystem, on this wondrous planet. And yet, Nature isn't a "thing". One can't point at something and say "look there's Nature", but we are part of Nature. If I were a naturalist, I would believe that Nature had some sort of special life force, and perhaps it does, but I don't want to use those terms because they can so easily imply that Nature is an entity with a personality, a will, consciousness and power to work towards some goal and thus easily resembles a god.

 

If one limits, in one's own head, Nature to animate things, then we know of no Nature outside of Earth, and Nature itself would exclude weather - both meteorology and oceanography - yet we most commonly attribute events like storms and hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tidal waves to Nature as well - inanimate yet natural things. So perhaps it serves a purpose to limit Nature to what happens on this planet, but then again - why? The storms on Earth aren't much different from storms on Jupiter (except such variables as scale and strength). The laws of physics apply everywhere in our Universe (though its variables differ) and is how we are capable of researching things that we still aren't capable of producing the technology to actually look at.

 

In the end, I came to the conclusion that the Great All is an ok term for everything that exists and Nature, though applicable in some senses to places without life due to physics, in my head's definition of the term needs some life form in order to truly be Nature.

 

After I shed the worn and itchy skin of Christianity and faith, I find it so much more exciting to ponder existence, to stand in awe of Nature and the Universe that we live in, to be so grateful to be "given" this chance by evolution and Nature to exist, be conscious enough of my existence to appreciate it and that of other people. I don't think Nature deserves (in the negative term) to be compared to a god, because gods - being manmade - are always limited to the imagination of human beings, while reality is so much greater and more fantastic than anything any person could ever imagine.

 

Frank Lloyd Wright once said: "I believe in god, only I spell it Nature". I would use Ockham's razor on that quote and say "I believe in Nature". I don't pray to Nature because I don't believe Nature has a personality or a consciousness, I don't believe that it is a god or goddess of any sort, I simply accept it for what I can see that it is: The collection amazing events that occurred and still occur on this planet, and which I hope will continue to happen until our sun explodes.

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Heavenslaughing,

 

Your argument implies an assertion about my intent that I don't appreciate.

 

 

Zenobia,

 

If you feel the rules have been violated then report my post and let the staff decide. Otherwise keep it in your holster, cowboy.

 

On second thought, I'll do it myself.

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Guest Zenobia
Zenobia,

 

If you feel the rules have been violated then report my post and let the staff decide. Otherwise keep it in your holster, cowboy.

 

On second thought, I'll do it myself.

 

I didn't single out anyone Rev.

 

And it's cowGIRL.

 

No need to get pissy.

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Heavenslaughing,

 

Your argument implies an assertion about my intent that I don't appreciate.

 

 

Zenobia,

 

If you feel the rules have been violated then report my post and let the staff decide. Otherwise keep it in your holster, cowboy.

 

On second thought, I'll do it myself.

 

I had no impression of rules violation, Rev, and I don't see your intent as having extended further than an inquiry into something different from your own thinking. My avoidance of the second person in my last post in favor of focusing on the phrasing of the questions themselves was deliberate. Maybe I should have emphasized that I was looking at words and their (frequently unintended) effects, not what I inferred about your intentions. I'm sorry if my own wording implied something different. I stand by my comments on the implications of the first two questions as asked above, and even if our interaction wound up more conflictual than I'd intended, we've established that these implications didn't match your intent.

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