"God" in the Postmodern Era

We are living in a time of great confusion as to who or what “God” is. The problem with talking about God is that the word “God” no longer has any clearly circumscribed meaning. Instead, it is used in many contradictory ways. For a growing number of people “God” has become an empty signifier or place holder. The content of the word “God” has come to depend on people’s personal preference. If “God” can mean anything, doesn’t it actually mean nothing?

Great Topic!

My philosophy of Exaltism explores this topic deeply. Exaltism is an atheistic standpoint but it stresses the definition of what God is. For example, of God can do anything and has unlimited freedom, that God would not be worth worshiping, as that God could or would be malevolent. In retrospect, if God can only do good, then it doesn’t have the freedom that a God might as well have. I explore this topic deeply in my Ethics of Divinity post.

God, to me, is many things. If God existed, I would contend that our lives would be dramatically different. As I see it, humans are already building a paradise for themselves. Most of the developed world has heating and air conditioning, for example. Even my section 8 apartments have it. We are building a more comfortable and enjoyable life for everybody - thus reaching towards paradise. Humans are amazing in this notion.

So much so, that I would stress that humans, or transhuman, or posthuman, will become the next thing. I see nature, our sun, stars, black holes, universes, multiverses, and the Omniverse as dormant perfect. It is perfect it isn’t aware that it is - it is utterly what it is and nothing more. On the other hand, live, natural selection, artificial selection, and later on divine selection would be considered living imperfections. It is impossible for one person to be omnipresent, or omniscient.

The core of what I believe is taking the best parts of both - awareness, freedom, acute benevolence and wisdom, of living organisms and fuse them together with nature, with the Sun, with the supermassive black hole, with the universe, and eventualy the omniverse, so we then can create a living perfection. I believe that the afterlife consists of being part of this reality - and getting anything and everything you want all the time with no consequences. You could be a God to a new universe, you could fuck thousands of virgins and never get an STD, it would essentially be life without the consequences of such.

And this reality that I see everybody and everything become as is to me, perfection. It is God. We will be a part of it. Everything will be a part of it. The past does not get erased anymore - it still carries on. I can still watch George Carlin on DVD, or listen to an Elvis Presley song. But that is just the beginning. The afterlife consists of being you, but being perfect in the material world. I am a monist, an atheist, and a type-physicalist. I don’t believe in spirits, ghosts, and I believe that for a long, long time after you die there is a period of transition where you will not exist but in the advent of new technology you will exist again, and this time you’ll live indefinitely. And you’ll want it too. Trust me.

you are correct… if god can mean anything, it does mean nothing…

and to continue along… in my study of the middle ages for my research into
philosophy, the average medieval person felt god as a literal presence…and
if it wasn’t god, it was one of his agents or one of his foes… the very air was
filled with all sorts of divine and not so divine beings and the medieval person
felt that in their very bones… god and his agents were all around, everywhere
you went… you couldn’t escape god… he was there every minute… and everyone
felt it and knew it…

today, today is quite a different story…a person who feels the same way
as the medieval person would be looked at quite differently by their peers…
but no one pays attention to such a person because they would be considered
slightly off if not outright mad or insane…now the interesting thing here is
that people feel Jesus as an immediate presence, but somehow don’t feel god
in the same way (and yes, I know all about this trinity bit, the father, the son
and the holy spirit) I don’t understand how many say, accept Jesus as the way to
salvation, but god is almost an afterthought…what does it say that Jesus has
more influence and power in people’s thought then god does…Jesus still holds
sway but god doesn’t… rather weird I think…

now for most people, in past times of troubles, they would pray,
which is a form of hoping, that god would come down and straighten things out…
I suspect, (with no proof I admit) that the number of people who do that today
is far smaller then ever before and I think the reason is, people have given up on
god and his influence in the modern world…which coincides a general loss
of feeling that there is no one who is fighting for the common man anymore…
work screws you over and there is no one who will fight for you and
the government screws you over and there is no one and society screws
you over and there is no one and if life screws you over and at least previously
you had god there, but who feels that today?

we feel powerless in this world and there is nothing to help us think
that we might find justice in this world or the next…

I suspect this accounts for the rise of the superhero culture we
have today… batman and superman and the flash, are all signs that
we need to think or we need to hope there is actually superhero’s out
there that look out for us, because god and jesus aren’t there…
I don’t see them or feel them or can trust them to be there for me…
and so all we are left with is… pretend superhero’s because
we so lack the faith that there might be a god or Jesus to avenge us
or at least give us some sort of comfort in our times of trouble…

we feel isolated in this world, isolated from each other and isolated
from the government and isolated from society and isolated from
god and jesus and other religious forms of hope…it has been in the past,
these times of despair that people have turned to religion but not now…
not now…and so it looks like we have no place to turn…
but we do and it is in knowing that we are down to our very atoms, connected
to everything… it doesn’t require a religious understanding but a
scientific understanding that we are atoms and our atoms, the very same atoms
in me and you and everyone has been around since the beginning of time,
recycled over and over and over again and we will continued to be recycle
until the end of time… my next existence will be many in nature… part of my
atoms shall exist in the water and the sky and animals and trees and part of
my atoms shall exist in another human being and that is the true being born again…
not as some mystical event but far more surely… I may not be conscience of my
next existence but as sure as I exist today, I shall exist tomorrow and forever…
it is not religious mysticism that drives this understanding of the nature of reality
but a scientific understanding…perhaps this recycling explains the
existence of child prodigies… they remember… their cells, their atoms remember
their past existence and thus allows them to feats that we marvel at, like
Mozart’s ability to play the piano at an early age and the child who out of nowhere
seems to have the ability to play the violin or the piano or speaks French or has math
ability that is beyond the average child of the same age…
we cannot discount such possibilities… and we still stay within the realm of
science…so where would god fit into such thinking?
no where and where does god fit into our modern world? no where…
we cannot find a home for god because god no longer answers our questions
or even fits into a question that we still care about…

we have left god because he no longer speaks to us… has nothing to say to us,
and we have nothing left to say to god…


Thank you for your responses which I read to be affirmative to the OP proposition. If there is any doubt whether this is the state of affairs concerning the word God, here is further support for it:

Exactly how is this different from other times when various religions, sects and philosophical schools has different ideas about the nature of gods?

Not to mention the fact that individuals do not believe the same things about gods … they reject some dogma and accept other dogma.

I suppose the difference is that while in the past people had different ideas about the nature of God, today there is a greater tendency to reject the concept of God itself as being coherent or meaningful.

Felix and Peter … you are almost there.

The long white hair … long white beard beard notion of God … the beautiful women with wings (angels) … the ugly men with pitch forks (devils) … have almost died in human consciousness … almost!

They were never “real” … only figments of human imagination … humans (religions) did the best they could in light of the scientific and philosophical knowledge available to them … evolving and morphing their conceptions of God across time and space as their knowledge and confidence in their physical world expanded.

Quite a rational/logical journey … no?

Yet …

God has not “died” … God has morphed into a closer reality of His reality.

I posted in another OP:

Peter … your comments make ingesting the atoms of our predecessors a pleasant thought.

I read the following words a few minutes ago … they seem relevant.

While I view God as Being Itself, there are many others who disagree on this point even among Christians. And as persuasive as are the arguments in favor of the proposition that God is Being Itself, it has not been conclusively be proven or empirically demonstrated to be probable. Whereas, prior to the emergence of modern science, there was a broad consensus in the West about who and what God was. This reversal of the theological situation in relation to Western Society is what Nietzsche was referring to when he proclaimed the “The Death Of God.”
Modernity killed God for itself, but in the process, killed itself as well. Hence we have entered the era of postmodernism. Unlike Modernity to which God was antithetical, the failures of modernity can be viewed from the standpoint of Postmodernity as a relative victory for the ways of faith.
But, it was a battle won and not the war. And in the process, Christendom was wounded to such extent that it became fragmented. It is now but one of many world-views in a fragmented pluralistic society. In reaction to this, many of its constituents have been driven toward fundamentalism. Another contingent of Christians has left the church for an amorphous spirituality and are now statistically numbered among the “Nones.” Between them are the Liberal Christians. Whatever, their numbers, they are not well represented in the Media these days.

For me … the notions “Being” and “being” … as in human being … defy definition, description, explanation and so on.

Who has compassed the ‘totality’ of what it means to be a human being?

Anyone? … anywhere? … any time?

God, after Darwin and Mendel, can be seen as the active experience of genetic evolution. In other words God is the becoming of being. Without humans there would be no need of a God. Our memes evolve toward fuller expression of our God experience as we progress toward more humane treatment of each other and of the environment that sustains us. The kingdom is truly within.

I don’t go along with the alleged proposition that if God can mean anything it is nothing. God is not a zero sum, in fact I would propose substituting for ‘God can mean anything’ - ’ god IS everything’.

If meaning is contraposed by being, then, the phenomenological reductiveness of the held position turns on historical precedent. Therefore being presupposes meaning. It is less likely that God would mean anything impending other than a chaos.

I agree. Being itself is the the unknowable noumenon the “thing-in-itself”.

Suppose the Kantian community has experienced growth, decline and resistance … in terms of numbers … over the centuries.

Maybe it’s time for the growth/decline wave to go linear. :smiley:

“I could not say I believe— I know! I have had the experience of being gripped by something that is stronger than myself, something that people call God”.

Carl Jung, when asked if he believed that God exists.

God as concept has a necessity, in the sense of a literal Being. This is a tough one, but the greatest milestone of being a human was in god’s language was the word. The word of God became what we envision as consciesness, and there is two ways to look at that.

One, that natural selection made consciousness
possible, the interaction that ultimately defined men as species, and the archaic visual symbolism was slowly vocalized into more abstract signs.

The most abstract sign was for those whose understanding of sequential chains of meaning, meant, that this scheme was created in time, whereas time wove the richness of gaping the literal-visual signs with their auditory equivalents.

The other view is different. If we presume human development is goal oriented, then this scheme ceases to work, because the goal is not present in its primacy, IT blindly acts as if seeking existential security, and the overcoming of life’s challenges.
It suggests a primordial empiricism of the acquisition of human goals, particularly those associated with connecting the early symbolic meaning links with each other. This is missing.

The latter view assumes a goal. The final one of course is Union with the IT, the undefined in its earliest understanding. It does define IT in the same continuum of cognitive development and names IT various things. The difference, looking back , is a reassemblage based on missing information, a uniting of past with present meanings through a series of time bits.

But, our predesxessirs had none of this, they had to go by intuiting those past ideas, which have as of that time not been written down.

So, the literal goal became a reconnection of the intuited Concept of IT into a transcended time spanning present through an intuited past-future
This was necessary, so as to posit one important ingredient in further human development: meaning.

It could have meant little, if it was simply some force of a source in some unifying scheme , because, such force seemed blind to man’s survival. In terms of early human life chaos overcame it, and the proof was in the pudding: men suffered, and it did make little difference if god had any part in it. This was before and during a phase, where, the word-consciousness, was coming to be understood within It’s own frame of reference, as distinct.

The cognitive-symbolic jump into this phase, could not have been possible within a general framework of reference in its primacy, since goals through time were affairs of every day concern, in short, goals had very small time frames.

It would have been impossible to go from that, into That, of which we now talk of as existential jumps. The Goal of IT, needed a great push, based on what now we talk of as Faith, to push Goals, and The Ultimate Goal into high gear.

Shadow this with the existential push needed, the leap, to be able to jump over the all encompassing chasm of modern Nihilism to the impossibly dangerous sign posts of post modernism. Most folks would rather stay in the vague yet painful shelter that a rational nihilism would seem to offer.

This modern notion of the true nature of God, as an inspirational source of power, of holding at bay that ultimate goal, appears to be the only validation of the emergence of conscious reification in belief in its own setting, that is, a process which has self identified its own goal of its own conscious motivation to sustain the idea that in the beginning was the Word, and it was Good.

With the advent of modernity the world became subject to accelerating change in the infrastructure. The economic sphere produces activities which support but also subvert the superstructure i.e. the social sphere of ideology which includes religion and politics and traditional attitudes. The superstructure evolves more slowly and is more resistant to change than the economic infrastructure especially in the industrial age of advanced capitalism. Technology advances so fast, that it produces culture shock. It’s hard to keep up. The young are ahead of the old when it comes to assimilating new technology. Assumptions we take for granted are pre-established by superstructural ideologies. The rampant profusion of identity politics reflects in part the need to pin ideology to something stable in a confusing plurality.

The saturation of modes of information, surveillance, and control are at a level of such intensity that they qualitatively change the nature of our experience. In the 19th century, massive forms of production caused by manual labor were replaced with mechanical labor. In the mid to late 20th century, there was a switch from technology that replaces manual labor to technology that replaces mental/intellectual labor and even human experience.

Everything that was once directly lived has now been reduced to an image or representation what Lyotard called “hyper-reality”. Nihilism so feared by the existentialists of the 19th and early 20th century has become technologically realizable. Children are born into a world where an apocalypse is technologically possible. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche didn’t see that coming. Look at Tribnet 7000 on Facebook. The Apocalypse has become a utopian ideal. We are more likely to trod endlessly tweaking humanity with technological adjustments. Our video games pre-package experience for us. Commodities are no longer just things of use – they’ve become part of what we are.

In the example of Auschwitz, the problem of evil hangs over the post modern period making the traditional idea of God perplexing if not untenable:

That is only another unproven premise. In fact that is easily defeated by the idea that the world of the spirit is autonomous.
That has always been the manner in which Religion has treated the problem of evil, it’s causality is not understood.

How does the idea that the world of the spirit is autonomous defeat the problem of evil as stated above?

One candidate for a concept of God that may have potential for surviving in the postmodern era is that of process theology. Armstrong the origin of process theology this way: