If God, then Why?

I’m sure this is the last thread anyone wanted to see… another powderkeg of acrimonious, unreasonable blathering just waiting to be set off… Well, that’s not my aim at all. Simply put, here’s my motivation.

I do not feel as though I belong to any current religious or areligious belief systems; I neither believe in g/G/od/s/ess/es, nor do I believe necessarily against them. I am undecided, which is not an expression of agnosticism or atheism. Rather, I’m looking for my place, and I seem to be biologically driven toward a place that does not welcome any defined or named deities. This I believe because I experience an altogether negative physiological reaction to advocations of Christianity or of any other religious doctrine; I literally feel physically ill, my blood boils, my fists clench and I find myself facing an almost unrestrainable urge to scream. There is a very clear and distinct sense of opposition to the notion that there exists a creature such as anyone has yet defined for me-- such that could rightly be called (a/the) God.

However, I don’t believe I can claim to understand why I react as I do. I have no agenda that requires the absence of God from the universe; I am not so vain as to think that there must not be such a thing if I myself did not first conceive of it. I try very hard to take in the arguments of the apologists from all theological spheres, to question my own skepticism, and to be fair. But, after years of this, I find I am still in the same spot. So what I am asking is that the venerable members of this forum will see fit to offer, as briefly as they can, their views on what “God” is or isn’t, and identify the primary mechanisms behind their beliefs. I don’t believe that such a request cannot be met without necessarily creating a firestorm of insult and invective-- the point is illumination, not persecution.

I will start: As best I can tell, I do not find reason to believe in a god such as the Christian God, or Bhuddist God, or Muslim or Hindu God, or any other God that has a name and a character assigned to him/her.

I can accept that it is very possible that a God may exist, and that it ay be omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. This creature could manifest itself in any way it saw fit, and that I might or might not be empowered to find this creature through empirical methods. It could be everywhere, or nowhere. Perhaps God is, as Dunamis says, “that which coheres.” Perhaps it is a concept unknowable to carbon-based life forms. Right now I’m interested in a monotheistic God that is defined as an entity with an interest in and a will towards mankind. Some of my reasons for not accepting such a God (thus far) are:

  1. Given the finite reach of human understanding, how can it be possible for us to know so much about God that we can define him to the extent that all human religions seem to?

  2. It seems beyond the realm of plausibility that so many different belief systems could arise and that all of them would claim exclusive correctness, IF there really were such a force out there, IF it really was responsible for absolutely everything, and IF it wasn’t completely indifferent to our beliefs.

  3. Bertrand Russell’s problem of lack of evidence. Where is the evidence? Of course, one could say that all of creation is the evidence of God, but there is no logical reason to do this. I have never yet encountered a phenomenon that I could not explain without the aid of a God concept, or for which there were not some developing theories, or about which there was enough information to suggest that it was reasonable to expect to have found an explanation… the exception is the very existence of anything at all, which I don’t think any discipline has a handle on and so a God-concept is not an unreasonable hypothesis yet. However, as to the existence of a specific God, be it the Christian God or a different god, I see absolutely nothing whatsoever. In fact, evidence is conspicuously absent in the face of the strength and expanse of belief. Mainly for that reason is it so difficut for me to find a foothold for debate on the existence of any one particular God-- there is just nothing evidenciary at all to support this, at least of the fashion that we would call evidentiary for anything else we might be looking for. (Ok, here’s the light for the fuse, if anyone was looking for it.)

Ok, that’s turning into a rant. No one has to be as verbose as me. In fact, the simpler, the better. I don’t claim to have presented any sound arguments about God, nor to have refuted anyone’s beliefs, nor am I trying to do that at this point. I was simply prattling on from the gut, trying to dig out a tiny fraction of the mountain of ideas I have on the subject so that some few of you might be inspired to imitate my effort. And I hope no one is offended-- what you see as evidence for God may be invisible to me, may be discounted for one reason or another, or may have been overlooked, and that is exactly what I am hoping for. Or maybe I or someone else will make you think about your beliefs.

I basically want to understand, as best I can, why these belief systems that seem completely irrational to me are so obvious to others. It can’t just be because I’m a quack, can it? :slight_smile: Also, I’d like to understand better (if I can, and without years of therapy) why I tend to react so negatively to these ideas, because such reactions prevent me from being able to approach them reasonably and fairly. Perhaps that might come from seeing what some of the rest of you have to say.

El Nuncio,

I would state my simple position, but you did so. But perhaps engage in this thought experiment regarding:

“I basically want to understand, as best I can, why these belief systems that seem completely irrational to me are so obvious to others.”

Take the laws of a country. Now these are clearly man-made things of artificial construction, but despite this, -or perhaps even because of it-, it is possible for people to believe in them. Sometimes to believe in them passionately. In fact, it is the belief in them that gives them their efficacy, perhaps one could even say, their reality. They can have effects, rather strong effects, beyond even the intentions of the law makers. Behind the law floats this completely fictitious thing, that actually has tremendous power, despite its fictitious nature. One of course can work with all one’s energy to dispel this power, to tell everyone that it is nothing but a phantom, and creation of our minds -and at times it is very wise to do so-, but one might ask, is the power behind laws, really as unreal was we would like to make it out to be. In terms of effects it actually is more real than many things. So too it seems with God. One can of course break apart all the mechanisms by which God, the idea, makes its presence felt, but in so doing, does one loose sight of the possibility that the construction of God is actually an expression of elements of our very nature. Falsifying those ideas that are sociological seems to pretend that there are other realities upon which we can rely that are not constructions. This is not something I am sure is true. All constructions are both real and false - real in that they are real expressions of material circumstances, false in that they are not limpid presentations of a static truth. They are participatory connections. Just some thoughts.

Dunamis

Hello El_Nuncio

My guess is that you sense there is truth underneath it all that is being distorted in every conceivable fashion. As Jalal al-Din Rumi once said, “There is counterfeit gold because real gold exists.”

So if I’m surrounded by fools gold, how can I discover real gold? The more the confusion the more frustrating it becomes.

So the question for me becomes how to stop reacting to fools gold and become open to real gold. This is much more difficult then we normally think. It means to really “need” to know and become “open” to accepting as did Socrates, that you know nothing so that you can get out of your own way long enough to begin to understand something.

If you didn’t care in some way, none of this would be as frustrating. The fact that you do seem to care and not be satisfied with the “usual” may mean that you’re looking for the reality behind the usual.

^^true…basically I don’t know what to say…the power is not in me to convince you, or even just to show you who or what or if My creator is. I don’t want to tell you who God is…although you have asked but search inside yourself.

Are you a person because you have a body and consciousness? You’re NOTHING!!! and that’s as basic as it will get…you seek to understand why everything is so wrong with what you hear. then listen to what is right!

Stop looking for a physical God, or a God with boundaries such as thought, emotion, sense, or any other fathomable extreme. As you’ve stated the creator is out of our understanding, and that’s where God will always be until you see that God is you!.. not ‘You’ the ego that you’ve come to understand, but you the being! The ultimate is all that you see and don’t see…Everything you see and don’t see, know and don’t understand, think about yet cannot grasp. God is you, the Almighty is All. Worship nothing, accept everything, live with no expectation, be apart of no group or organization and be a leader to all. Be in the world, but not of the world…Give in to what you’re confused about and you’ll understand the simplicity in the chaos…

ask more if you’re interested in any way…Blessings!

I’m really starting to like you 730 :stuck_out_tongue: Have you read Krishnamurti?

I don’t have a view on god. I don’t concern myself with it either way, and I certainly don’t concern myself with belief of any kind. Belief is just a fabrication, an illusion. Why do I have to believe in anything that I cannot see, touch, sense, and if it is in my objective reality and I can touch it, I can taste it, why would I believe in it? Why not just experience it?

I recently had a discussion with several people that are in the same boat. They react negatively to religion, yet don’t really have any real hate, or rather are still open to the idea of their being a god. What came out of that discussion was a couple of things. It was a negative reaction to a system, such as the catholic church, with its suppressive rules and such. People didn’t like the idea of worshiping something. Worshiping something seperates, and causes conflict. Even if there was a god, why would I have to worship him? Did he really create me to worship him ? If so what an egotistical bastard!! And finally religion is based on myth. Its not based on any fact whatsoever. We have no way of knowning what Jesus actually did say or did do, and yes I am inclined to believe there was a Jesus, but I don’t believe he was the son of god. He was just a prophet. Pythagora’s was a mystic, and had many followers. A mind such as Nietzsche back in such times would have probably brought about some sort of cult following. The buddha was just a prophet. They took a man, and made him a god.

My basic point is there is no need to create seperation between you and the experience or “life” you are having. There is no need to single out something and worship it, its a part of your experience, its a part of you, its not seperate.

Finally Religion makes a person so rigid in a way. They won’t move from the belief, they won’t question it. In fact most religions tell you not to question it. To suspend your logic, and reason. They won’t let go of their beliefs for a single moment to be open to different ideas, to be open to rational, and logical ideas. I personally do get a bit annoyed when I see a perfectly rational intelligent person afflicted with religion. Its a terrible disease.

[Edit] Btw its late I’m tired, so if this post wasn’t as lucid as it could be then forgive me, night!

lol…yeah i read a few paragrphs on the net that he wrote N stuff…It’s all truth everything he says i’m like yeah that’s truth…but I don’t base anything on anybodys previous deductions…it may sound the same and I hope it does…that means the truth is the same…:slight_smile::wink:

Lol yeah some of what you said just reminded me of it, and just because you’ve read it and agreed with it doesn’t mean you are basing anything on anybody’s previous deductions. You could have just came to the same conclusion the same truth. Like you said.

Dunamis,

I agree with what you have said. At times it seems perfectly clear to me why beliefs are what they are. There are countless reasons why the human being, both rational and emotional as he is, and faced with death, might create or join a belief system that provides a sense of purpose, of direction, and above all, protection against the unknown. That’s really no different than what I’m looking for, but for whatever reason, I am unable to be satisfied by a belief system that I am able to poke so many holes in. I’m grounded in hard facts, even though when I put on my expensive philosopher’s hat (not the beanie we all wear most of the time,) I find that things like fact, truth, reality, and knowledge itself are all questionable. I think that empiricism is comforting to me because nature is impartial and unbiased, whereas no human is. This rock will not lie to you about how old it is or where it came from, nor will it try to get you to give it money or to worship it. Darwin may have had a bias but 500,000 year old hominid bones don’t. Of course, I recognize that in observing these things and coming to conclusions about them (such as that they don’t lie,) I am introducing my own bias, and that’s unavoidable. My agenda is to find those truths that hold up under the greatest number of conditions.

When I think about the universe, its mysteries and marvels, and consider that it either has always been there, or was created, I lean toward the latter. Then of course, I must ask myself, was the creator always there, or was it created? Neither proposition seems plausible. And I do believe that it probably is impossible to see the fishbowl for what it is so long as you’re inside it. For that reason, I am very agitated by the arrogance of those who claim with such certainty to know the truth about something that they can’t possibly know about, and whose certainty leads necessarily to great conflict and unrest. Then again, isn’t it arrogant of me to think they don’t know? After all, if I claim that it is impossible to know anything for certain about God, am I not claiming certainty about God? Is that a contradiction? Personally, I do not think so, although countless religious scholars would bristle at the thought. I am actually making a claim about man’s ability to comprehend, not about God.

I think it basically boils down to ideological differences, like most things. I don’t believe that any belief is worth it if it isn’t true. I don’t think it’s ultimately a positive thing, despite the fact that good things may come from false beliefs. Likewise, bad things may come from true beliefs. Conversely, I feel that anyone who holds to a religious belief that involves a God for which they can know anything about, and for which evidence is not required, well they are more concerned with illusions than truth. And as you say, the power that is exerted by these illusions can be immense. Religion, like any other system of beliefs, provides stability, direction, purpose, law, etc. Gravity is a religion, albeit one with more weight to it than most. :slight_smile:

Then again, as you point out, what isn’t an illusion? This most honest of rocks that I have dug out of the ground may not really be there, or it may not be the same rock as it was a second ago… it may exist only in my mind, or my mind may exist only in it. It may have been put there by a dishonest God to mislead me, or I may be seeing it incorrectly through the misdirection of Satan. Perhaps it is not really there until I show it to you, or perhaps it is a rock to me and a banana to you. Perhaps what I perceive of it and what it really is are two different things, or perhaps I see it exactly as it is but am confused by prior conceptions of what a rock is. And perhaps it is a rock, simple and solid, and perfect for hurling through stained glass.

So if I could let go of my need to challenge ideologies that I think undermine the potential of the human species to comprehend itself as best as possible, even if that ultimately turns out to be not at all-- then maybe I would not be so averse to religion. Then again, religion is such a huge part of humanity that it demands comprehension as much as anything else.

El Nuncio,

“So if I could let go of my need to challenge ideologies that I think undermine the potential of the human species to comprehend itself as best as possible”

I think if you get to know this “best as possible” thoroughly, you would get to the source of your frustration. When you get a clear sense of what “best as possible” means to you, how that corresponds to your core values, and then work towards an inclusive understanding on how some achieve that goal, perhaps the beliefs of others would not make your blood boil quite so much. It’s about structuring a meaningful universe. Even a meaningless universe is meaningful.

Dunamis

Indeed. I sense that there must be truth of some kind underneath it all. But the gold may be in Cibola, and it may not. Unlike Coronado, I can’t go there and find out for myself, because it is not on any map. I think that the existence of the universe suggests that some power must have started it all at some point, but I am far from convinced that this power has any vested interest in me or even an awareness of me, much less that my life should be dedicated to its worship.

I think I am sort of trying to do this… but I am somewhat reluctant, because my gut tells me that I do know some things… and remember, Socrates always held fast to one belief-- that the gods existed. So did Descartes, even though he convinced himself that he had dismissed all his assumptions. It isn’t an easy thing to do, to relenquish foundational beliefs. And remember also what happened to Socrates: he was not alone in the world, and for all his openness, he could not rid himself of the idea that his body would react harshly to hemlock.

Indeed it does. However, I cannot extract myself completely from the madness of men, nor can I become unlike myself. Fool’s gold is as good as gold if scales are a heresy.

As I began writing this paragraph, into my mind came a vivid recollection of the experience of eating Franken-Berry cereal. Artificial strawberry flavor, the juxtaposition of squishy marshmallows and crunchy cereal, and the coolness of the milk. If there is a God, what do you suppose he meant by that?

I think see what you are saying. I read the news too much, I surf the Internet too much, and I spend too much time on forums like this; for all the reacting to others, I am left with little time to react to myself. Perhaps I am jealous of the fact that they seem to have found meaning, while I still struggle without. Or perhaps I am simply driven to the edge of rage by the thought that I might not be allowed to find this meaning for myself, because someone else’s idea of meaning is to prevent me from doing so. Even though the Gods of man seem so small to me, it is in reacting to their smallness so fiercly that I expose how small I am myself.

El Nuncio,

" Perhaps I am jealous of the fact that they seem to have found meaning, while I still struggle without."

Could it be as simple as one finds meaning for oneself to the degree that you help others find meaning -rather than attempting/hoping to find it ready-made, buried in the dirt.

Dunamis

Possibly… I definitely need to look inward and find a basis for day-to-day meaning that is more my own… I do sense an emptiness, a lacking that I may be trying to compensate for by investigating everyone else’s claims of meaning. As if I could ever truly know what meaning is for someone else! Frankel thought the true meaning in life was love, and I don’t entirely disagree with that. I sometimes find peace in the thought that there can be nothing known, and that I am completely free to create my own purpose, and to be free of the burden of explaining or understanding anyone else’s. But that feeling never lasts.

Then again, if there is ultimately some higher power behind everything-- if there is a cosmic watchmaker, someone or some thing that made the stuff that made the stuff that makes us, however detached or immediate the presence may be, and however far from understanding it I may be… if it exists, then there has to be a truth to be known, an ultimate truth on that matter that simply is what it is, whether it is found buried in the sand or hiding in a black hole or sleeping in my DNA. If it’s there, I see no reason not to look for it, and that is my meaning. It’s a hunger that can never die, I fear.

El Nuncio,

“I definitely need to look inward and find a basis for day-to-day meaning”

What I am suggesting is that the inward/outward dichotomy is perhaps not the answer -was this Descartes greatest crime-, but rather the significant 3rd, which is the structuring dimension that allows inward and outward to occur. By not turning inward, but to fellow others, by bringing meaning to them, so that they see and experience meaning, you being to address the fabric which connects and you even may stitch upon it. This is closer to the question of what God is, or the role that the idea of God (connectivity) plays in a life. Not interior, not exterior, but the fundamental connection between interiors.

Dunamis

Hi El_Nuncio

Just having the understanding to accept the limitations and inadequacy of your knowledge is really great knowledge. Knowing that you know nothing has to be taken in quotation marks since it is real objective knowledge.

How do we experience objective quality? What are the scales and how can we begin to understand? Actually this is not philosophy as it is currently understood. These are more like questions of the heart.

I’ve experienced this and it seems to me to be the need to experience myself. I never seem to be in the experience. This seems normal for philosophic people that hide behind ideas. Often they cease to exist and all that is left is debate.

I believe you are sensitive to this and the idea is frightening as it is with me. Consider how this is described in the following:

conversations.org/jerry_n.htm

As odd as it seems, we are somehow embarrassed about admitting ourselves so the great questions become blocked in thought. Where true philosophical thought should serve the human heart, it has gradually come to starve it. As the prof. at Harvard said. Prof. Needleman’s questions were not really philosophy. Odd as it seems, philosophy has come to exclude ourselves and its needs in the experience. It is common sense for me to think that the mind and heart should grow to work together but the majority opinion is to keep them separate believing them as necessarily obstructing one another. But this means the admitting of the need to grow as a human being which is not all that flattering for our self esteem if it hides behind imagined self importance.

If there were enough with a serious interest maybe a board could be devoted to discussing the great ideas from the truly esoteric or “inner” perspective where the emphasis is on experiential understanding as opposed to philosophizing. I don’t know? I do know that there are a minority of people that seek to ponder the great ideas for the reason of experiencing their own humanity, their life, their isness, their human “being” to nourish the hunger of the heart.

I understand your reaction to the reply of your philosophy tutor. I was not being facetious when I recently, asked when discussing the ethics of euthanasia, “should God pull the plug on the pope?” for which all I recieved was ostracism. Why?

If after every and all logical proof you have read ranging from Aquinas to Descartes don’t work; if the rantings of Kiekegaard and Berkeley don’t work;

Let us say Pascals Wager. Amen.

The devotion too many books is tedious and injurious to the mind, a personal opinion is worth more than a thousand quotes to the practical philosopher. :unamused: Ask yourselves this simple question: If you were a god would you want to be worshipped?

It depends if you’re referring to a god or a goddess.