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Old October 5th, 2014, 09:35 AM   #1
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Mental Images of God

Mental Images of One God

What is God? According to our ancestors, who recorded their beliefs in the Bible, God is an all-powerful and all-knowing entity, living somewhere outside of our world, who created the world and controls what happens in it. My definition of God is slightly different; I tend to think that God is not an entity outside nature, but nature itself, as postulated by a 17th century Jewish theologian, Baruch Spinoza, in Holland.

Our very distant ancestors were polytheists; they invented the idea of multiple gods. Our less distant ancestors replaced this idea with the mental image of a personal--omnipotent and omniscient--ruler. Most people on earth still believe in a personal God, but some try to develop a more recent mental image of the ruler, formulated by Spinoza. All three descriptions refer to the same everlasting entity, no matter how it is called. It is not a sin to think that laws of Nature are equivalent to God's laws, while praying. Do you agree?

An interesting article about Spinoza appeared in The New York Times, written by a professor of philosophy, Steven Nadler:
http://opinionator blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/25/judging-spinoza/
It generated many interesting online comments. A reader, RMC, wrote: "I know many Christians and Jews who practice their religious traditions although their own beliefs are secular. They make no secret of their sentiments. Spinoza was excommunicated during a time of religious orthodoxy and in that respect his experience is much like Galileo's. When the Catholic Church repudiated its treatment of Galileo, it was not merely saying that the earth revolves around the sun. It was saying that punishing the members of its congregation for thinking for themselves, including about church dogma, was parochial and destructive." With regard to independent thinking, several readers emphasized that traditional religious ceremonies, and respect for legends, do help to keep social groups together, even when people know that biblical legends do not represent historical truth.
Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)
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Old October 5th, 2014, 09:52 AM   #2
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what God is cannot be contained within the limited dimensions of a human mind.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 11:25 AM   #3
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what God is cannot be contained within the limited dimensions of a human mind.
That's a cop out. It just gives you an excuse to claim something exists without having to even try to prove it.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 11:27 AM   #4
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That's a cop out. It just gives you an excuse to claim something exists without having to even try to prove it.
proof was not the question.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 11:37 AM   #5
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proof was not the question.
Do you seriously expect me to believe you've missed the point?

Making lofty-sounding (you hope) statements doesn't make you sound esoteric, it just makes you sound like someone who can't entertain the notion that something he doesn't know might actually be knowable. It's just a variation on "The Lord moves in mysterious ways." Like I said, a cop-out.

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Old October 5th, 2014, 11:50 AM   #6
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Do you seriously expect me to believe you've missed the point?

Making lofty-sounding (you hope) statements doesn't make you sound esoteric, it just makes you sound like someone who can't entertain the notion that something he doesn't know might actually be knowable. It's just a variation on "The Lord moves in mysterious ways." Like I said, a cop-out.
I am willing, even anxious to debate the existence of God with those who raise the question. that was not the subject of this thread. If you wish to hijack this thread to that end, proceed if you wish, I will leave it the author of this thread or a moderator to admonish you.

better manners on your part would be to start such a thread of that topic, I will join the discussion as my schedule permits.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 12:18 PM   #7
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kowalskil, the problem with pantheism (Spinoza) is that one must separate cause and effect in order to consider God as a force for morality and pantheism fails to make this separation. This is why pantheism leads to immorality. Instead, I view God as the Natural Law or as the forces of nature/science. And I interpret the Old Testament as a warning that those societies that do not act morally will ultimately suffer the consequences which are an inevitable result of the forces of nature, particular psychology and evolution.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 12:22 PM   #8
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kowalskil, the problem with pantheism (Spinoza) is that one must separate cause and effect in order to consider God as a force for morality and pantheism fails to make this separation. This is why pantheism leads to immorality. Instead, I view God as the Natural Law or as the forces of nature/science. And I interpret the Old Testament as a warning that those societies that do not act morally will ultimately suffer the consequences which are an inevitable result of the forces of nature, particular psychology and evolution.
Einstein agrees with Spinoza and not with you.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 12:37 PM   #9
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cause and effect, yeah, an interesting and perhaps useful distinction in this discussion.

I like that concept of God as cause, first cause. and the natural order as the effect.

cause and effect are natural to us, as is the concept of time. we can't help but think within the context of these two masters. like fish who have never broached the surface of the water we have no concept of a life without it. But we are discussing the very creator of these, who must transcend them.

that is why I say any full description of what God is cannot fit within a human mind.
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Old October 5th, 2014, 12:43 PM   #10
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that is why I say any full description of what God is cannot fit within a human mind.
Is that not because you first decided that god is. And that he has a set of characteristics. And any time evidence contradicts this, rather than questioning your starting point you either change the characteristics or further retreat into some variation of "man can't understand".
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