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Understanding God As "supernatural"


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Many weeks ago, in another thread the following came out.

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5588&st=140

 

(Antlerman @ Dec 23 2005, 11:40 AM)
(notblindedbytheblight @ Dec 23 2005, 10:57 AM)
(Antlerman @ Dec 23 2005, 10:50 AM)

God is supernatural by definition
.
Someone should change that definition.

Not sure what you mean? Maybe we could say non-rational?
Oh, it's just that I think that if there is a 'god' then it would have to be perfectly natural. IMO

 

This exchange has stayed with me all these weeks. Through many other threads and discussions there is a subtle - or overt - view of "god" as "supernatural". I've come to really think this is a major reason the Fundamentalists feel they can "set themselves apart". After all they are in communion with something "beyond the natural". They are the privileged few who are allowed in the inner sanctuary.

 

So... now I'm interested in hearing from all of you who have been involved in fundamentalism ... is this a factor? Or am I on the wrong track?

 

And if it is a factor - from your perspective - what are the dangers of viewing the Sacred as supernatural? :scratch:

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Through many other threads and discussions there is a subtle - or overt - view of "god" as "supernatural". I've come to really think this is a major reason the Fundamentalists feel they can "set themselves apart". After all they are in communion with something "beyond the natural". They are the privileged few who are allowed in the inner sanctuary.

Speaking for myself, the knee-jerk reaction is to see "God" as a personality. When you see "God" that way, it automatically makes "him" outside your own personality. Considering the elevated nature of that personality, it makes him supernatural. My next knee-jerk reaction would be hearing that "God" is "Natural", meaning that "he" exists as part of everything, yet "he" is still something that we need to "access", thus separating us from him.

 

But wouldn't this be a way to make the transcendent more accessibly by bringing "him" (the god mythology) down off the elevated throne and on the same floor level as all of us? In either case, he is still above us, that we are aspiring towards. In that role he is transcendent, whether "natural" or "supernatural", correct? Instead of a White Throne, he's hidden inside quantum mechanics.

 

If however you mean "natural" in the sense that our aspirations to higher ideals and our propensity to personify that aspect of our natural desires, then yes "God" is natural, as a symbol of language.

 

I am intrigued to hear your insights surrounding this question.

 

Edit: P.S. Your insights into how fundamentalists respond to this definition of God, are dead on. :grin:

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I think that an issue with believing that the Sacred is somehow apart from Nature can lead to a devaluing of Nature - which includes not only trees, plants, rocks, animals, and so on, but can also include human beings. Especially if they haven't been blessed or touched by the divine somehow.

 

I think that looking at something as being "supernatural" can also cause problems in dealing with science. Science is all about observing events and phenomenon that happen in the natural world; but if the natural world is somehow inferior to the supernatural one, then there isn't really any reason to take science terribly seriously. Then you get dipshit theories like ID and YEC floating around, and teaching lies about birth control failure rates to schoolkids in order to further some superiority thing.

 

Believing there is a supernatural plane or realm can certainly offer an explanation for some pretty freaky shit - ghosts, for instance, or faith healings, or whatever. It just doesn't make much sense to me. Everything is natural, everything happens in nature, even the freaky shit we don't understand quite yet.

 

Bleah, it's late, I need to go to bed.

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Thanks for requesting the clarification Antlerman...

 

If however you mean "natural" in the sense that our aspirations to higher ideals and our propensity to personify that aspect of our natural desires, then yes "God" is natural, as a symbol of language.

 

Part of the reason I started the thread now was because of an exchange we had in the "More Specific Questions.." thread. Our discussion in that thread brought me back - one more time - to this dynamic of a "supernatural god".

 

What I think you are asking is how one reconciles rational knowing and spiritual knowing in regards to ultimate reality?

 

I guess my answer is a question?

 

Why must we reconcile it? Why can't we honestly recognize that we are in fact dealing with puzzle pieces?

 

On the one hand the puzzle has very dark pieces. On the other hand it has very light pieces. Some are vibrant and "fit" easily into the bigger picture. Some of the pieces we can't find a place for, and yet we know they can not be thrown out either. And some pieces we simply do not have. We are left with a partial picture.

 

On the one hand the universe is in fact very impersonal - on the other hand we can experience it in very personal ways. Why must we reconcile this?

 

To me ... the minute human beings try to reconcile things that are ultimately unknowable (at least in this lifetime) is when we start creating theology and religion. And ... well we all know where that has gotten us.

 

Theology has its place ... and so does religion. But, they are partial answers - we are finite beings trying to figure out the infinite living organism - of which we are only a puny participating portion of. It's like asking the tree to define and comprehend the forest. The ONLY way the tree can comprehend the forest is to participate in the forest.

 

So... for me ... it's completely OK to comprehend the infinite simply by participating in it. Our only responsibility in the process is to be honest and recognize that our participation is individual and subjective. And that we've no right to expect others to experience (or participate) in this infinite reality the way we do.

 

When I use the word "natural", I use it in this sense. Ultimate reality is infinite - beyond our ability to know - in the concrete (2+2 =4) sense of knowing. But, we do participate in it. We are a part of it. So... we can seek to "know" it on this level.

 

Your insights into how fundamentalists respond to this definition of God, are dead on. :grin:

 

So... again.. for clarification..... having been involved in the fundamentalist movement ... what are the dangers of viewing God as "supernatural" or "superhuman" or "superman" in the sky? How did you see this understanding of the Sacred impact concrete life?

 

Then you get dipshit theories like ID and YEC floating around, and teaching lies about birth control failure rates to schoolkids in order to further some superiority thing.

 

Wow ... gwenmead ... for years I've tried to figure out how people can actually believe creationism, etc... I think you just answered my question. :lmao:

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I think that an issue with believing that the Sacred is somehow apart from Nature can lead to a devaluing of Nature - which includes not only trees, plants, rocks, animals, and so on, but can also include human beings. Especially if they haven't been blessed or touched by the divine somehow.

 

I think that looking at something as being "supernatural" can also cause problems in dealing with science. Science is all about observing events and phenomenon that happen in the natural world; but if the natural world is somehow inferior to the supernatural one, then there isn't really any reason to take science terribly seriously. Then you get dipshit theories like ID and YEC floating around, and teaching lies about birth control failure rates to schoolkids in order to further some superiority thing.

 

Believing there is a supernatural plane or realm can certainly offer an explanation for some pretty freaky shit - ghosts, for instance, or faith healings, or whatever. It just doesn't make much sense to me. Everything is natural, everything happens in nature, even the freaky shit we don't understand quite yet.

 

Bleah, it's late, I need to go to bed.

 

Well-said!

 

To me, all the supernatural is is the natural that is not yet understood or scientifically explicible. Otherwise, it's just as natural as anything else. Ghosts, spirits, a Creator, etc - all this stuff to me is just natural phenomena that we aren't able to readily observe and categorize right now. But I believe we will, as human ability progresses and we continue to leave behind beliefs and habits that harm us.

 

The view of "god" as something "beyond and above" the natural and the tendency to view humans as the same thing does lead to devaluing the natural world. This world is only transitory, it will pass away, we were only made for heaven - we've heard it all. And why? Because we're something "apart" from nature, rather than a part of it. This is one of the things various Heathen religions have over Xianity; in your typical indigenous Heathen religion, we're a part of nature - us, any Creator(s), all animals and flora, etc. We're all in this together, not us against nature and the devil.

 

But, like gwennie said, everything is natural. We just can't readily explain it - yet.

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So... again.. for clarification..... having been involved in the fundamentalist movement ... what are the dangers of viewing God as "supernatural" or "superhuman" or "superman" in the sky? How did you see this understanding of the Sacred impact concrete life?

 

I think the results are plain for all to see. Just watch half an hour of the fundy channels on TV. If God is a big person then:

 

He has opinions, which only some people know, and writes books through them.

Gets upset when people breaks his law.

He (does god have a penis then?) dispenses favours on certain of his favourites.

If bad things happen to his chosen then it must be their fault, so they need to try harder.

If this type of god and his people get involved in politics they become dangerous (particularly true in USA at the moment).....say goodbye to freedom and hello to religiofascism.

Not as keen on women as he is on men (hmmmm I wonder??)

Humans feel devalued before such a beast.

The truly sacred is reduced to banal appeasement of super god. So he gets upset over cartoons, but doesn,t mind people dying as a result of the protests.

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Through many other threads and discussions there is a subtle - or overt - view of "god" as "supernatural". I've come to really think this is a major reason the Fundamentalists feel they can "set themselves apart". After all they are in communion with something "beyond the natural". They are the privileged few who are allowed in the inner sanctuary.

Speaking for myself, the knee-jerk reaction is to see "God" as a personality. When you see "God" that way, it automatically makes "him" outside your own personality. Considering the elevated nature of that personality, it makes him supernatural. My next knee-jerk reaction would be hearing that "God" is "Natural", meaning that "he" exists as part of everything, yet "he" is still something that we need to "access", thus separating us from him.

 

But wouldn't this be a way to make the transcendent more accessibly by bringing "him" (the god mythology) down off the elevated throne and on the same floor level as all of us? In either case, he is still above us, that we are aspiring towards. In that role he is transcendent, whether "natural" or "supernatural", correct? Instead of a White Throne, he's hidden inside quantum mechanics.

Please don't take this wrong Antlerman! :grin:

 

IMO, and I could be misunderstanding you, but insn't your second knee-jerk reaction the same as the first one? Aren't you are still putting a 'persona' to god by looking at 'god' as a separate being that is somehow in nature? I see it more that god is nature, is us, is every natural law (discovered and undiscovered). It doesn't matter if we 'know' this essence, it just is. I think there are many good things that can come out of understanding that we are more than we think we are. :shrug:

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I think the results are plain for all to see. Just watch half an hour of the fundy channels on TV. If God is a big person then:

<snip>

He (does god have a penis then?) dispenses favours on certain of his favourites.

:lmao:

 

... and what kind of favours does he dispense with his penis...... :lmao:

 

<snip>

Not as keen on women as he is on men (hmmmm I wonder??)

 

hmmm ... one would wonder ;) Who exactly does he use his penis to pleasure..... :lmao:

 

This reminds me of a story a friend told me once. She works for a non-profit group. As part of her job she often has to attend religious events (not just Christian). Once she had to attend the installation of a Catholic Cardinal. So... here she is in this large, ornate cathedral with one of her Catholic co-workers.

 

Because it is the installation of a Cardinal - Other Cardinals, bishops, priests abound. In fact at the beginning of the cerimony - all the Cardinals, bishops, priests, etc.. parade into the Cathedral in order of importance - with all the pomp and cerimony that one would expect on such an occassion. Everyone of them were dressed to the hilt in their religious garb, the organ was playing ... I'm sure you all get the picture.

 

Well ... in the midst of all this pomp and circumstance.. the Catholic co-worker of my friend leaned over and whispered in her ear.. "The way I get through this kind of bullshit is to imagine all the shriveled up little penis' under those robes".

 

Makes me wonder about the shape of Super god's penis. I mean if he hasn't used it in several 1000 years (thinking of the virgin mary here) has his penis shriveled up and died? You know - use it or loose it..... :lmao:

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IMO, and I could be misunderstanding you, but insn't your second knee-jerk reaction the same as the first one? Aren't you are still putting a 'persona' to god by looking at 'god' as a separate being that is somehow in nature? I see it more that god is nature, is us, is every natural law (discovered and undiscovered). It doesn't matter if we 'know' this essence, it just is. I think there are many good things that can come out of understanding that we are more than we think we are. :shrug:

Yes it is the same as the first. I guess I'm still hearing that "god" is something outside us, a specific "personality" or a "trait", or "quality", whether it or he is personal or not. Why say god is nature? Why not just say "nature"? Why say "god" at all? Is this to distinguish between good nature and bad nature? Am I making sense?

 

"God" means "good". I will accept that nature is good; life is good. In another thread someone was talking about dying, and I mentioned that getting eaten by a bear would probably be a meaningful way to die, because the ending of your life helped sustain life. Now a lot of people would view that as something bad. Death is a part of Life. Isn't it therefore "good"?

 

To say "god" is those things we desire, seems to suggest that the opposite of what we desire is another word such as "devil". So, it is still difficult for me to pull the word "god" out of any context that has "him" artificially separated from the purely natural which is both bad and good from the individuals perspective, but not from the "perspective" of Life itself. If "god" is "good" only, then he/it is not natural, but "supernatural".

 

OM, to answer your question: I guess I'm still having a hard time seeing god as something not supernatural. The best I can see at this point is "God" is the language symbol embodying our perceptions of what we personally desire to experience as good, which becomes meaningless outside our experience.

 

Patience... I'm still processing... :grin:

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Yes it is the same as the first. I guess I'm still hearing that "god" is something outside us, a specific "personality" or a "trait", or "quality", whether it or he is personal or not. Why say god is nature? Why not just say "nature"? Why say "god" at all? Is this to distinguish between good nature and bad nature? Am I making sense?

 

Well.... not to side track my original question ... but then what the hell I just finished discussing super god's penis. :)

 

The reason I use the word "God" when I think of ultimate reality is because - for me - ultimate reality is not random. I do think whatever the ultimate reality is - that there is purpose within it, that this "Alpha and Omega" is aware of itself.

 

But... that is my personal opinion. And I understand that others can legimately look at ultimate reality and see chance and randomness.

 

Anyway ... when I started the thread ... I had been noticing the fundamentalist mindset with "Super Daddy in the sky" and wondered how this "supernatural" approach impacted concrete life? As I've said in other posts... I feel as though I've happened into a parallel universe. And as basic as all this is to most of you, for me this type of thinking is quite out of my element. Hence the basic questions. ;)

 

OM, to answer your question: I guess I'm still having a hard time seeing god as something not supernatural. The best I can see at this point is "God" is the language symbol embodying our perceptions of what we personally desire to experience as good, which becomes meaningless outside our experience.

 

Patience... I'm still processing... :grin:

 

Antlerman, you don't have to view "God" as anything other than the way you currently do. In the end, it is a word. We all know that. The word points to different things for each of us... And.... circling around to my original question... what that word means in a fundamentalist paradigm ... and how the fundamentalist understanding of god - as "supernatural" - impacts this world. How is this understanding of "god" dangerous?

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IMO, and I could be misunderstanding you, but insn't your second knee-jerk reaction the same as the first one? Aren't you are still putting a 'persona' to god by looking at 'god' as a separate being that is somehow in nature? I see it more that god is nature, is us, is every natural law (discovered and undiscovered). It doesn't matter if we 'know' this essence, it just is. I think there are many good things that can come out of understanding that we are more than we think we are. :shrug:

Yes it is the same as the first. I guess I'm still hearing that "god" is something outside us, a specific "personality" or a "trait", or "quality", whether it or he is personal or not. Why say god is nature? Why not just say "nature"? Why say "god" at all? Is this to distinguish between good nature and bad nature? Am I making sense?

Yes, you are making sense Antlerman. I say 'god' (notice that I usually don't capitalize it! :HaHa: ) only because that brings an understanding to myself of the 'connectedness' that everything has. It's like everything is the same, but in different forms. I like to call life, the play of consciousness. If you can have this understanding without this term to help you, then I envy you!

 

"God" means "good". I will accept that nature is good; life is good. In another thread someone was talking about dying, and I mentioned that getting eaten by a bear would probably be a meaningful way to die, because the ending of your life helped sustain life. Now a lot of people would view that as something bad. Death is a part of Life. Isn't it therefore "good"?

Yes, I read where you posted that. I understand it too! But, I also like to think that no matter what why we die or decompose that it would still be a useful energy to something. Even if we are cremated, we produce heat energy and eventually (maybe thousands of years later) those ashes will be absorbed by something.

 

The subjective nature of good can be overcome if we look at death as being an end to a form and not an end to life. I think life is eternal in one form or another. I think you see it as that too when you mention a death helping another life. This can be viewed as life feeding off of life or as an eternal life that just changes forms. Consiousness in play. Of course this does nothing to continue our sense of self, but it does continue life, life of which we are a part of. I don't know if I will ever be conscious of myself (who I see myself as) again, but I will still be a part of life. I am a part of consciousness that never dies.

 

To say "god" is those things we desire, seems to suggest that the opposite of what we desire is another word such as "devil". So, it is still difficult for me to pull the word "god" out of any context that has "him" artificially separated from the purely natural which is both bad and good from the individuals perspective, but not from the "perspective" of Life itself. If "god" is "good" only, then he/it is not natural, but "supernatural".

I see what you are saying and I think it is in the way I also present my understandings. I often say that everyone desires peace and happiness. This is not true the way I chose to say it, but it is hard to describe something that really can't be described. I think these states are our natural state, so it's not a desire to attain it because we already have it, but we don't know it so we desire it. Because if we desire it, we look outside ourself for it. It is something the mind seeks because it doesn't know that it already has it. It is probably more correct to say that if we stop the desire, we will recognize who we already are, and that we already are what we seek. No need to desire something we already have. This is what the teachers of meditation and spirituality so often address. So, I can understand where you are comming from. The very language itself causes this division.

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How is this understanding of "god" dangerous?

I think it is dangerous in the sense of people having to look outside themselves for something they already have. It takes the person on a life long journey to find something that they will never find 'outside'. Thier entire life is passed by because of a fruitless search into the future for something they will never find. If they see themselves as mere humans that are damned from the start, their sense of who they are will reflect that and their actions in society, or life, will also reflect that belief. It could go either way...one of sorrow and hopelessness until death, or one of falsified egos that think they have found the right path to god...problem is with the latter is that they never find god because they are looking in all the wrong places. Like Jesus said, "turn over a rock and you will find me." They never stop to see the rock, much less turn it over! And, if they did turn it over, would they see that there is life there...the very same life that they partake of also? I think the problems caused with this belief is one of duality which leads to one thinking they are better or worse than someone else. We can turn on the TV and see the results of this thinking at any time.

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But, like gwennie said, everything is natural. We just can't readily explain it - yet.

 

Defining god as part of nature, or as part of something supernatural, is somewhat of a meaningless semantic argument. If one wants to define everything that one can possibly conceive of as being part of nature, then god would be just be another part of nature. On the other hand one could say that the things we normally sense should be called natural, and that these other things, which might or might not exist, like gods, spirits, demons, unicorns, heaven, hell, etc., should be labeled as supernatural. Usually I think Christians would use the second definition as the difference between natural vs. supernatural. The real question is: do the things we typically think of as supernatural actually exist? Are ghosts real? My answer is: show me.

 

The danger of calling god part of the 'supernatural' is in then asserting that you understand the properties of this supernatural entity. Its one thing to say there could be a god, while quite another to state that this god wants us to not eat pork and hate infidels. Do you see my point? While a supernatural world might exist, how can Christians, or any religious people for that matter, be so certain in their assertions that they know what this god is like and what he wants us to do? How can TV ministers say god wants you to send in those $1000 checks and love the war in Iraq? :eek:

 

Well, by quoting the Bible, Koran, etc, of course, as long as one is willing to accept these writings as the revealed truth of a supernatural god. To me, these documents have some good stories and some useful wisdom, but they are the product of men who wrote them without any supernatural influences.

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You know... after reading all of your posts (great answers by the way) it's occurred to me that one of the other dangers of seeing God as "supernatural" is that one sets oneself up for great amounts of pain and disapointment.

 

I mean .... making god into a super daddy in the sky has its downsides. What happens when super daddy doesn't reach down and take your pain away? Or when super daddy let's bad things happen in your life?

 

Or... how do you feel when someone else's super daddy "wins" and your super daddy "looses"?

 

I mean - correct me if I'm wrong here - again I've never been involved in this type of thinking - but what do people think when they see others at peace who are not of their particular belief system. Or when they see that people from other belief systems can have happy, well adjusted, economically fruitful lives? Doesn't that mean that the neighbor's super daddy is giving the neighbor something that my super daddy may not be giving me?

 

Play this out on a larger scale ... and it's little wonder that the literalists of the world prefer to go off in their own little "set apart" world. This way they don't have to notice that super daddy may not be all they've set him up to be. :shrug:

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You know... after reading all of your posts (great answers by the way) it's occurred to me that one of the other dangers of seeing God as "supernatural" is that one sets oneself up for great amounts of pain and disapointment.

 

I mean .... making god into a super daddy in the sky has its downsides. What happens when super daddy doesn't reach down and take your pain away? Or when super daddy let's bad things happen in your life?

 

Or... how do you feel when someone else's super daddy "wins" and your super daddy "looses"?

 

I mean - correct me if I'm wrong here - again I've never been involved in this type of thinking - but what do people think when they see others at peace who are not of their particular belief system. Or when they see that people from other belief systems can have happy, well adjusted, economically fruitful lives? Doesn't that mean that the neighbor's super daddy is giving the neighbor something that my super daddy may not be giving me?

 

Play this out on a larger scale ... and it's little wonder that the literalists of the world prefer to go off in their own little "set apart" world. This way they don't have to notice that super daddy may not be all they've set him up to be. :shrug:

It never ceases to amaze me how many things and ways of thinking about views on God and faith that are so foreign to you, yet are somehow assumed on our part. Yes absolutely, I am a romantic. So ideas and notions of God as protector and providor are definitely a huge part of their beliefs, and a huge set up for disappointment. And here's the kicker... what I see and hear that is so maddening within fundamentalist thought are all the rationalizations, excuses, and various theologies that try to reconcile all these discrepancies between their idyllic view of God, and the impersonal nature of real life.

 

You have just opened a huge can of worms with this one! I'll try to organize a few of my one billion thoughts about this to offer some feedback...

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Play this out on a larger scale ... and it's little wonder that the literalists of the world prefer to go off in their own little "set apart" world. This way they don't have to notice that super daddy may not be all they've set him up to be. :shrug:

It never ceases to amaze me how many things and ways of thinking about views on God and faith that are so foreign to you, yet are somehow assumed on our part. Yes absolutely, I am a romantic. So ideas and notions of God as protector and providor are definitely a huge part of their beliefs, and a huge set up for disappointment. And here's the kicker... what I see and hear that is so maddening within fundamentalist thought are all the rationalizations, excuses, and various theologies that try to reconcile all these discrepancies between their idyllic view of God, and the impersonal nature of real life.

 

You have just opened a huge can of worms with this one! I'll try to organize a few of my one billion thoughts about this to offer some feedback...

 

Looking forward to your thoughts, Antlerman. They usually provoke a few thoughts of my own. ;)

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Hi, guys. Great thread so far.

 

This is maybe naive of me, but... don't people on Ex.christian just talk about God as supernatural and such because we're ex christians? So the default understanding of God is that of classical christian theology: God is separate from creation, therefore not part of nature. If this thread is departing from the classical assumptions of christian theology (and jewish and muslim), cool - then its use of the word "god" will have a different sense, which the participants of the thread should agree on - no? Sounds as though you're proposing such a sense, OM.

 

It's interesting that the Greek philosopher Empedocles (5th century BC) talked about the gods as superhuman members of the whole system of nature. In his view, when the whole universe ends in a fiery cataclysm, to come forth again as a new universe in a vast cycle, the gods end, too. Empedocles' gods were like big middle managers within the whole of nature, and they were long-lived but not living forever, since the universe comes and goes in cycles. Maybe kind of like the yuga cycles of vedantist thought. I'm not sure whether all the 300 million gods of hinduism are beyond our universe or parts of it.

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This is maybe naive of me, but... don't people on Ex.christian just talk about God as supernatural and such because we're ex christians? So the default understanding of God is that of classical christian theology: God is separate from creation, therefore not part of nature. If this thread is departing from the classical assumptions of christian theology (and jewish and muslim), cool - then its use of the word "god" will have a different sense, which the participants of the thread should agree on - no? Sounds as though you're proposing such a sense, OM.

 

I've noticed that for a long time; on various ex-xian boards and from various ex-xians I've met or read the writings of, "God" is always understood in that classical Xian sense. I've always found it a bit irritating, especially since Heathen understandings of the subject are much older and steeped in tradition; the Xian concept of one almight Sky Daddy wasn't the oldest there is. I do try to keep an open mind on the subject and remember there could be many "gods" or creators out there - we just do not know and it is rather arrogant to claim otherwise.

 

Besides, since most of the world's religions are polytheistic, assuming there are many gods by default almost seems more logical. But again, we just do not know.

 

It's interesting that the Greek philosopher Empedocles (5th century BC) talked about the gods as superhuman members of the whole system of nature. In his view, when the whole universe ends in a fiery cataclysm, to come forth again as a new universe in a vast cycle, the gods end, too. Empedocles' gods were like big middle managers within the whole of nature, and they were long-lived but not living forever, since the universe comes and goes in cycles. Maybe kind of like the yuga cycles of vedantist thought. I'm not sure whether all the 300 million gods of hinduism are beyond our universe or parts of it.

 

A similar theme runs through many Heathen religions. I know Asatru carries this idea as well, that the gods will perish when the world does and will be reborn. Many Indo-European religions are like that, if I recall rightly. I rather like this idea, since it teaches that there are no beings that are outside of nature and hence above us worthless little worms. I may not be totally Heathen, but a big part of me is, since I just can't help but respect a belief that is down-to-earth and practical and encourages good, rational thinking.

 

Of course, that's why I am primarily a Deist to begin with :fdevil:

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Hi, guys. Great thread so far.

 

This is maybe naive of me, but... don't people on Ex.christian just talk about God as supernatural and such because we're ex christians? So the default understanding of God is that of classical christian theology: God is separate from creation, therefore not part of nature. If this thread is departing from the classical assumptions of christian theology (and jewish and muslim), cool - then its use of the word "god" will have a different sense, which the participants of the thread should agree on - no? Sounds as though you're proposing such a sense, OM.

 

Well.... I certainly understand what you are saying Ficino. Traditionally god has been understood in an anthropomorphic way. God has been whittled down to the humanized version that we see in the mythology of all the major religions.

 

But.... in recent history ... people have been doing exactly what NotBlinded suggested in the first post.

 

Someone should change that definition.
Not sure what you mean? Maybe we could say non-rational?
Oh, it's just that I think that if there is a 'god' then it would have to be perfectly natural. IMO

 

The reality of science, the archeaological studies of ancient sacred literatures, etc... have forced the hand. Part of the reason we see a rise in fundamentalism is that the fundamentalists do feel a shift in human history.

 

It's all converging on them at once. Science, historical evidence that their mythologies are something other than fact, the convergence of the earth's different cultures and religions. All of this is quite a bit to handle - and so we see a violent acting out.

 

Could part of this emerging reality mean that the literalists are having to deal with the fact that "God" may not be this anthropomorphic super daddy in the sky? Are they frightened that they have to give up this understanding of "God"?

 

And this dynamic takes us right back to the original question ... what are the dangers of understanding God as "supernatural"? :shrug:

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Well.... I certainly understand what you are saying Ficino. Traditionally god has been understood in an anthropomorphic way. God has been whittled down to the humanized version that we see in the mythology of all the major religions.

 

But.... in recent history ... people have been doing exactly what NotBlinded suggested in the first post.

 

 

I think that to talk about god as anthropomorphic and as separate from nature are two different conversations. I don't think the traditional understanding of god as creator separate from nature is necessarily anthropomorphic. Some traditions of theology are fond of the "via negativa," i.e. all humans can say about god is to say what he is not. That's not anthropomorphic understanding.

 

If people are going to investigate "god" as a non-rational, non-humanlike power within the universe/nature, it sounds as though it'll be hard to say how one would have a relationship with it. Sounds more like a big force field. If god is rational but not separate from nature, it sounds more promising that a human could come into some contact with such a god. Rationality or some other cognitive capacity would be the common ground making contact possible, no?

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I don't know if anyone has said this yet, but god cannot be supernatural as there is no such thing. If it exists in nature it is natural (the existence of the unnatural as opposed to the supernatural is another topic altogether). Supernatural pertains to that which is outside of nature which means that if god is supernatural, either he doesn't exist, or cannot be percieved in any meaningful way.

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I think that to talk about god as anthropomorphic and as separate from nature are two different conversations. I don't think the traditional understanding of god as creator separate from nature is necessarily anthropomorphic. Some traditions of theology are fond of the "via negativa," i.e. all humans can say about god is to say what he is not. That's not anthropomorphic understanding.
Yes... this is true. Within the Christian mystic tradition you will find examples of the "via negativa" theology in writings of John of the Cross and the Cloud of Unknowing to name a few.
If people are going to investigate "god" as a non-rational, non-humanlike power within the universe/nature, it sounds as though it'll be hard to say how one would have a relationship with it. Sounds more like a big force field.
I agree...

 

If god is rational but not separate from nature, it sounds more promising that a human could come into some contact with such a god. Rationality or some other cognitive capacity would be the common ground making contact possible, no?
ficino, we have much in common.... again... I agree... as I mentioned earlier ... the reason I use the word "God" is I do believe ultimate reality is aware or conscious of itself. I also believe ultimate reality is the 1st energy - or foundational energy of all that is - and - that this foundational creative energy is love/wisdom. (Please understand that I use love/wisdom very loosely here. I just cannot think of better words.)

 

So... yes... in this sense of understanding ultimate reality (I would use the word God) it would be possible to come into some contact through pure love, wisdom, creative capacities, etc..

 

I don't think this kind of contact is limited to what one would normally associate with religion. The human capacity for love, for wisdom and creativity is certainly not limited to religion. When one is so intuned with these capacities that there is a sense of wonder, of timelessness and spacelessness... when these experiences connect a person with the Unity of all, and interconnnectedness of all then - to me - these are the highest and most sacred experiences of humanity. To me - they are a connection with God.

 

I don't know if anyone has said this yet, but god cannot be supernatural as there is no such thing. If it exists in nature it is natural (the existence of the unnatural as opposed to the supernatural is another topic altogether). Supernatural pertains to that which is outside of nature which means that if god is supernatural, either he doesn't exist, or cannot be percieved in any meaningful way.
Dhampir, I agree with you completely. That is one reason I started this thread.

 

I've been aware of literalism for years. But, I guess deep down, I always thought the literalist approach to reading the Bible was pointing to a belief is something other than "god as supernatural". In my time at this board I have found out differently. There are still people who actually believe in heaven as physical location with god, Jesus, angels all living in the heavenly realm. This realization made me start thinking of the dangers of this understanding of god. And I've enjoyed everyone's insights into the questions I asked. :)

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So... yes... in this sense of understanding ultimate reality (I would use the word God) it would be possible to come into some contact through pure love, wisdom, creative capacities, etc..

 

I don't think this kind of contact is limited to what one would normally associate with religion. The human capacity for love, for wisdom and creativity is certainly not limited to religion. When one is so intuned with these capacities that there is a sense of wonder, of timelessness and spacelessness... when these experiences connect a person with the Unity of all, and interconnnectedness of all then - to me - these are the highest and most sacred experiences of humanity. To me - they are a connection with God.

 

 

Hi, Open_Minded. I'm following up on your invitation from the invite to sub_zer0 thread and I'm posting a bit more here. I love what you say above. From time to time I experience these moments and then I almost wish I could die right then, coupled with the wish to ask the moment, "just linger a little, you are so beautiful." Have you read Goethe's Faust? That's the bit in it that made me so thrilled with that work. At this point in my life I'm basically just trying to be a human being. The most I hope for deep down is real and genuine human connection. I can't know whether the Absolute has come to consciousness in any other way than in us. But really I'm not all that drawn to the absolute. The singular, particular mortal creature is where my energies go these days - i.e. individuals at different levels of closeness.

 

I'm not at all sure what we mean when we talk about the unity of all. I kneel down next to this tree, that cat, this person... there will be others like them but never them again.

 

Maybe I'm feeling this way because my cat, Mitten, just had a radical mastectomy and she's not even in shape for me to see her at the vet's. They say she can come home tomorrow.

 

OK, I'll post something more in line with the OP later. Anyway, thanks for encouraging further dialogue, O_M!

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Maybe I'm feeling this way because my cat, Mitten, just had a radical mastectomy and she's not even in shape for me to see her at the vet's. They say she can come home tomorrow.

 

Ficino... thanks for picking up the converstation again. :)

 

First .... I'm sorry to hear about your cat and do hope that all works out for the both of you.

 

Hi, Open_Minded. I'm following up on your invitation from the invite to sub_zer0 thread and I'm posting a bit more here. I love what you say above. From time to time I experience these moments and then I almost wish I could die right then, coupled with the wish to ask the moment, "just linger a little, you are so beautiful." Have you read Goethe's Faust?

 

No... actually .... I've never read Goethe's Faust. Never even heard of it. Would it be possible for you to link me to the portions that have struck and stayed with you most?

 

I'm not at all sure what we mean when we talk about the unity of all. I kneel down next to this tree, that cat, this person... there will be others like them but never them again.

 

Yes... this is what I feel also. It is amazing to me that each individual element of the ALL is unique - like each and every snow flake. That is truely fascinating. :)

 

For me - when I say the "unity of all" I am speaking of an interconnectedness of all. This does not take away from individual uniqueness, in my mind. The word "interconnectedness" points to a deeper underlying ONENESS of all. A very weak comparison - but the only one I can come up with at the moment - would be a forest.

 

The forest is - in and of itself - a living organism. Science respects forests as living Ecosystems.

 

But no one would walk through a forest and only find beauty in the whole. Most of the time - in fact - we find beauty and wonder in the individual expressions of a forest. In specific trees, plants, animals (or groups thereof). We almost forget when we are in the midst of a forest - that we are within a larger living organism.

 

OK, I'll post something more in line with the OP later. Anyway, thanks for encouraging further dialogue, O_M!

 

I look forward to it. :)

 

Thanks again, for picking up the discussion.

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