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Spirituality for the Skeptic




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WHAT CAN "GOD" BE?

THE PROBLEM OF DEFINITION: 

Stars and a gallaxy
From the Mystry, creation burst forth from the Void.

Wittgenstein stated
we could  best
define a term by
observing how it is
normally used.  In
the Western world the
term, "God," has been
commonly used in two
primary ways:
 
(1) Colloquially,
God is usually
personified
in the West as a
supreme male figure,
the very name itself
being masculine. This
is made even worse by 
capitalizing  pronouns
pertaining to God as
"He," "Him," and  "His." 
Hence on the Sistine
Chapel ceiling God
hovers like an Olympian
Zeus in a bed sheet. 
Moreover, Biblical
personifications have
God walking in the cool of
the day (Gen. 3:5), or
smelling burnt offerings.
(Ps. 66:15)
 
(2) But when pressed, even the
fundamentalist must agree with the Biblical
strain stating God ultimately has no
complete likeness and is finally beyond the
idolatry of images. (Is. 4:18, 42:8;  
Ps.115:4-8;John 1:18;  1John 5:21). 
Philosophers and theologians therefore state
God ultimately transcends personification in
being all powerful, all good, all creative, all
present, etc.
 
The medieval St. Anselm, coined a useful
maxim for describing God, namely:  You
have not yet defined God if you can think
of an attribute greater than the one you
just stated.  Hence when we or the Bible
speak of God as a mere person it must
become idolatry unless used as poetic
license.  For humanity is but  an
infinitesimal speck in this incredibly
vast universe in which beings may exist
with powers far beyond the fabled angels.
 
A defensive cliche is that God can be no less
than a person.  But does that make God a
person?  If we say Einstein can be no less
than a microbe, does that make him a microbe? 
Nay, the ultimate description of what we call
"God" transcends far beyond persons indeed.
 
Christians seek to avoid the problem of an
impersonal Deity by relating to Christ as
God.(This will be addressed in the
"Kaballic Son" and the "Christ" links
above.)  However, Jews and Islamics
consider a human Christ or personified
Trinity totally blasphemous to the
one true God..
 
At this point a positivist might say:
"Okay, according to religious scholars
the final God concept must transcend
idols and personification.  However,
you cannot prove a negative.  Therefore
we must also have some positive attributes
we can objectively observe before we can
agree there is an empirical entity great
enough to call 'God'."  According to Hume
the nature of a Creator must in some way
manifest in creation itself.
 
POSITIVE ATTRIBUTES OF DIVINITY:
 
The problem of the Christ-as-God will be
addressed in other essays.  But God's other
claimed attributes, e.g, as "Law Giver" and
"Spirit," are acknowledged by both Judiasm
and Islam, as well as Christianity. 
Following Anselm's dictum, how can such
attributes be defined in ways in which
nothing can be greater?  Further, to
satisfy the critical mind, how can we
define such as observably existing in
creation as well? 
 
"Open my eyes that I may see great
things from your Law" (Ps.119:1). 
Extending the tribute of "Law Giver" 
to its ultimate manifestation, it
would transcend mere human laws to
become Cosmic Law encompassing the
very laws of nature and the universe. 
This also corresponds to the laws of
science, which is seeking the one
unified law encompassing all nature's
forces.
 
The ultimate act of "God's Spirit" was
stated in Scripture as moving over the
face of the deep creating all things. 
(Gen. 1:2). If the writer of Genesis
were alive today he would call this
unbegettable, indestructable creative
force "Cosmic Energy.".  Today we know
the law resides in the energy and both
are one, as described in E=mc2.  But
this concise equation does not explain
the mystery.
 
One might now ask if we are not
relegating "God" to a totally  
impersonal power, regardless of
how lawful or creative it might be. 
A school of artificial intelligence
called functionalism states that,
regardless of the hardware, with the
right amount of interacting complexity
and organization - intelligence can
emerge. 
 
If a computer can produce artificial 
intelligence - why cannot a far vaster
amount of interacting complexity and
organization like the universe produce 
real intelligence on a grand scale? 
(See also Whitehead's Process Theology.)
 
Throughout the mysterious fields and
dimensions of the cosmos such
intelligence could go infinitely beyond
mind or consciousness as we know it, as
it progressively self organizes into ever
greater complexity.  Its intelligence
could be related to the cosmos as ours is
to the brain..
 
The poet, Pope, spoke of
 
One stupendous whole
whose body is nature
and God the soul.... 
 
And  the ultimate Mystery from which such
miracles outpour (the Aquinian "Causeless
Cause") continues to baffle science. Here
we may be moving away from the God of the
gaps into the ultimate God of the abyss.
...
 
But how does this cosmic mystery relate
to the relative infinitesima of humanity? 
First of all such horrendous power did ,
in our umwelt, subdue itself and become
subtle enough to create life, the Logos
here becoming flesh in incredibly complex
and ingenious DNA.  Still this lawful and
creative power had to remain impartial
enough to rain and shine on the good and
the bad alike.  So how does it care for
individuals?
 
Such creative power evolved to become
intelligent and self-aware as we know
it in ourselves.  Now we are its
personifications as it works in and
through persons, because we are a part
of it and connected deeply to it.  And
we project our personifications out
onto the Mystery in order  to reconnect
with it .  (The root of "religion"  is 
"religare," meaning connecting back to.) 
 
Only those approaching the intelligence
of an Einstein or the discipline of a
Buddha  can mystically regain unity
without personification.  However even
through the power of personification
alone we can tap the power of healing,
overcoming, and rebirth.  For the
religious response was hardwired into
our brains for over a hundred millennia
before this semi-secular age.
 
 Moreover, no law says we have to stay
with the male symbols of Divinity.
Stone fertility-goddess figurines
were the earliest relics found from
the Paleolithic era so far.  To learn
about the Hebrew female principle, or
the mystical connection per se, click
the "Hebrew Goddess" or the "Mystic Way"
below.
 
 
 

THE HEBREW GODDESS

THE MYSTIC WAY

THE BOOK OF THOMAS THE DOUBTER

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