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Alchopwn

Defining God/s.

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Alchopwn
Posted (edited)

The fact is that around the world there are a great many religions, and many of them include a belief in vague, but allegedly powerful and beneficial supernatural entities that are often rendered in English by the term "god" or "goddess".  Many people claim that these entities have a superficially human appearance in mant cases, but had more animal appearances in the past when humanity was closer to the natural world.  Gods are supposed to exercise power over the natural world and humanity's various fortunes, and according to the High Priest Anebo of Ancient Egypt, we also call them "divinities" because their oracles are most accurate at predicting the future, i.e. divination.  I would also point out that Anebo also talked about Daimons, which have powers similar to deities, but lacked their oracular ability, and some of whom were moral and some were dangerous to humans.  Of course this has nothing to do with contemporary religions. Or does it?

Now it has also been said that you cannot define God as it is impossible to speak of something infinite, and yet mathematicians have a very interesting and abstruse philosophy around infinity LINK and other philosopher have also grappled with the issue reasonably effectively LINK.  So, however limited words may be, humanity remains resilient in their use on such topics, and we should persevere in that spirit, should the matter arise.

So, beyond the preamble, I put the question to any interested party, when we talk about a god or many gods, what exactly are we talking about? 

I would ask atheists to refrain from merely restating their skepticism ad nauseum, as it will not be conducive to coming to any sort of understanding of what believers are experiencing.  This is conducted in a spirit of inquiry, to gain an understanding of this phenomenon that is so central in so many people's lives, and how it is experienced by them.

Edited by Alchopwn
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XenoFish

God is an idea. So god is whatever people wish it to be.

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Podo

Gods are the psychological manifestations of human insecurity. We don't like taking responsibility for our actions, we don't like being alone, and we're afraid of dying. Gods are the blankets we cover those fears with.

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Habitat
1 hour ago, Podo said:

Gods are the psychological manifestations of human insecurity. We don't like taking responsibility for our actions, we don't like being alone, and we're afraid of dying. Gods are the blankets we cover those fears with.

The rejection of the God "idea" is largely a matter of ego, people who think that nothing could possibly be  beyond their potential ken, so why hand over ownership to some unknown God. The irony of it all, is that they are right, but not in the way they think, it is not in ego exaltation this expansion can occur, but in ego abasement. 

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XenoFish
2 minutes ago, Habitat said:

The rejection of the God "idea" is largely a matter of ego, people who think that nothing could possibly be  beyond their potential ken, so why hand over ownership to some unknown God. The irony of it all, is that they are right, but not in the way they think, it is not in ego exaltation this expansion can occur, but in ego abasement. 

Not unknown. It depends on the god a person creates or accepts. God being a mental construct, an idea. 

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Habitat
16 minutes ago, XenoFish said:

God being a mental construct, an idea

A mental construct that cannot make any sense in rational terms, so people who are obsessively and fixedly "rational", naturally see no sense in such ideas. But that does not mean the idea is void, at all. This is an issue of one-sidedness in the psyche, where that which is rationally inaccessible, is deemed automatically non-existent. 

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XenoFish
13 minutes ago, Habitat said:

A mental construct that cannot make any sense in rational terms, so people who are obsessively and fixedly "rational", naturally see no sense in such ideas. But that does not mean the idea is void, at all. This is an issue of one-sidedness in the psyche, where that which is rationally inaccessible, is deemed automatically non-existent. 

Maybe this non-rational aspect is solely your problem. God is a mental construct that people create, which is pretty easy to understand. Writers create gods all the time. There's nothing difficult nor special about that. The only irrational part is what some people do due to their belief in their idealized god. 

Let's face it. You demonize people because they don't agree with your beliefs, which is irrational. 

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Stubbly_Dooright
15 hours ago, Alchopwn said:

So, beyond the preamble, I put the question to any interested party, when we talk about a god or many gods, what exactly are we talking about? 

Are you hoping for the many different believers to answer with their version of what that is? I'm not being snarky or anything close to that. I find this thread very interesting. Maybe it's because, I'm not orthodox, but have a personal unique belief for me and me only. 

I see my belief with something within it. I feel, it cannot necessarily be labeled, even to a point it might not be an entity but something natural. Well, anyways, I feel it's on a deep personal spiritual existence, and that we can understand it in are own personal sense. If some more so than others, great. If not at all, I think that is just as great. :yes:  

Identifying it, well.............................. that has me reflecting on it, and wondering if it can be. I don't know, maybe it can. 

As someone who grew up secular, no going to anything religious, or reading it or being taught it growing up, I tend to not know of the many orthodox beliefs, so I couldn't label or identify it to how others who grew up in it, or have converted to it have. In coming to my own belief, I have come to know many different ones, even if it's a brush of it at the time. The orthodox ones, the New Age kinds, and so on. So, I think, there is going to be many different answers and labels to them. I think not only have the Christian, Muslim, Jewish one's, but of Wicca, the varying nations's, and the Egyptian and Roman and Viking beliefs of gods and goddesses. Gee, there seems to be many to really think one can hold more over others. And my little dinky 'higher power' would be one of many, I guess. 

Are we defining it on an objective outlook or a subjective one? And are we defining God, Goddess, gods, and goddesses for a purpose? For storytelling, yes, I think so. For proselytizing (which I know isn't what is the thought for this thread), I don't think so. For the 'victim' of the proselytizer, will always have something already defined for them and will not be won over................ well in my opinion of that, anyways. ;)  

For me personally, I can't seem to define mine, for it's way too subjective, personal, and purposeful undefinable. :)  

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onlookerofmayhem
Posted (edited)

Although I don't personally think any type of god exists, I would summarize it as basically a concious being that has the ability to manipulate reality and the physical world. 

"God always is an always was."

A phrase I never cared for. A cop out into the mystery of origin. 

If a being is real I would suppose it had to evolve from something. Look at how long the tree of lifegoes back to get to us. Was there no evolution to become god?

In my opinion, human beings are the closest thing to a god that actually exits. 

I am a firm believer in the concept that man created gods in his image.

It is simply taking all of our faults of existence as we conceive them and removing them. 

It boils down to, "Whose god would win in a fight?"

Well, with polytheism there can actually be a debate. In monotheism you just claim that your god knows, sees and can do anything imaginable. End of debate.

Edited by onlookerofmayhem
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Will Due
11 minutes ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

In my opinion, human beings are the closest thing to a god that actually exits. 

 

The Worship of Man

 

 

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Habitat
55 minutes ago, XenoFish said:

Let's face it. You demonize people because they don't agree with your beliefs, which is irrational. 

Calling people part of a team, isn't demonizing. It is merely pointing out the prevalence of a particular mindset that is very common around here, and curiously so, given the name of the website.

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Habitat
17 minutes ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

If a being is real I would suppose it had to evolve from something.

You imagine it has to be something you can understand, by normal processes of thinking, or not be real. That is an assumption, not a verifiable fact.

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onlookerofmayhem
59 minutes ago, Habitat said:

You imagine it has to be something you can understand, by normal processes of thinking, or not be real. That is an assumption, not a verifiable fact.

That's what the inclusion of the word "supposed" was meant to convey. 

Why you insist on anything being beyond comprehension is baffling.

The human imagination is arguably infinite. 

That doesn't make our forays into the possible make such things plausible.

I am quite capable of thinking in hypothetical terms. But I find there is a large division between entertaining plausible ideas and ones that have no basis in reality as I can ascertain. 

 

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Habitat
1 minute ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

Why you insist on anything being beyond comprehension is baffling.

The "riddle of existence" is giving a very good impression of being something beyond rational apprehension, no one has ever came up with even a lie to answer it, in a way that does not immediately attract a humbling rebuttal.

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Guyver
17 hours ago, Alchopwn said:

The fact is that around the world there are a great many religions, and many of them include a belief in vague, but allegedly powerful and beneficial supernatural entities that are often rendered in English by the term "god" or "goddess".  Many people claim that these entities have a superficially human appearance in mant cases, but had more animal appearances in the past when humanity was closer to the natural world.  Gods are supposed to exercise power over the natural world and humanity's various fortunes, and according to the High Priest Anebo of Ancient Egypt, we also call them "divinities" because their oracles are most accurate at predicting the future, i.e. divination.  I would also point out that Anebo also talked about Daimons, which have powers similar to deities, but lacked their oracular ability, and some of whom were moral and some were dangerous to humans.  Of course this has nothing to do with contemporary religions. Or does it?

Now it has also been said that you cannot define God as it is impossible to speak of something infinite, and yet mathematicians have a very interesting and abstruse philosophy around infinity LINK and other philosopher have also grappled with the issue reasonably effectively LINK.  So, however limited words may be, humanity remains resilient in their use on such topics, and we should persevere in that spirit, should the matter arise.

So, beyond the preamble, I put the question to any interested party, when we talk about a god or many gods, what exactly are we talking about? 

I would ask atheists to refrain from merely restating their skepticism ad nauseum, as it will not be conducive to coming to any sort of understanding of what believers are experiencing.  This is conducted in a spirit of inquiry, to gain an understanding of this phenomenon that is so central in so many people's lives, and how it is experienced by them.

Well said.  

I don’t think we know what we’re talking about, because we are limited by our limitations, but we do what we can.  Enough of us have had experiences that seem very much to us that they are more than the mind, and certainly more than we understand.  Some of us have used religion as a way to try and understand it and it hasn’t worked,  so, we keep looking and experiencing and trying to make sense out of it.

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Guyver

There’s something out there, more than physical in my experience, but those intense events are so rare....mostly life is just normal...you know with good times and bad times, but sometimes for me there’s an underlying thing I don’t really understand that seems to have purpose and intention.  In my experience, FWIW.

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Guyver

In any event, no.  I couldn’t hope to define it at this time.

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Habitat

To define something, is to delimit it, who would one be, to be able to place limits on God. It's an absurdity.

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Alchopwn
19 hours ago, XenoFish said:

God is an idea. So god is whatever people wish it to be.

I am not necessarily only talking about the "God of the monotheists" here.  Furthermore, this amounts to a dismissal of some pretty profound, if subjective, human experiences.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be prepared to be tortured to death for the sake of some rando concept I heard about, and for which I had no evidence.  Clearly there is more going on, and this sort of reductionism isn't going to help anyone understand it.  Perhaps these notions of divinity are entirely subjective?  That isn't what is important for the sake of the exercise.  I want to know about that experience, subjective or not.

6 hours ago, Podo said:

Gods are the psychological manifestations of human insecurity. We don't like taking responsibility for our actions, we don't like being alone, and we're afraid of dying. Gods are the blankets we cover those fears with.

People are prepared to get tortured to death over their belief in a god or gods.  Does that sound like people not taking responsibility for their actions?  Does that sound like fear of dying?  While, (to paraphrase the famous saying) you can fool some of the people all of the time, clearly there are also people who have had a very profound and personal experience of a pretty uncommon and life changing nature revolving around the focus of what they identify as a deity?  This is what I am interested in.

4 hours ago, Stubbly_Dooright said:

Are you hoping for the many different believers to answer with their version of what that is?

I am hoping to find people who have had experiences of what they consider to be divinity in some form.  Obviously I am also very happy if they also want to philosophise about the topic.  I am worried that there has been a lot of shutting down discussion about life changing spiritual experiences, and that we might all be a bit poorer for our ignorance of what people have gone thru.  I am also interested to try and get a sense of whether there are similarities between experiences of the divine and other supernatural experiences.  I am a lot less interested in dogma and orthodoxy than I am about the spiritual experiences, however trivial, that inform people's beliefs.  I am an atheist solely because I have never had any experience that I could seriously point to and say "yeah, that had to be a god getting involved in my life", but I have had a few supernatural experiences (or at least inexplicable experiences), and I am hoping to come to some sort of understanding of what people base their faith on, as I just don't understand it at present, and I am happy to admit my ignorance on the matter.  To paraphrase Nietzsche, a philosopher should live dangerously, and I want to give my present belief system a bit of a work out so I don't get stale.  Now in the process I am hoping to stimulate some debate on the matter and read some anecdotes of other people's experiences and attitudes.  As always S.D., I appreciate your questions and enthusiasm.

4 hours ago, Habitat said:

A mental construct that cannot make any sense in rational terms, so people who are obsessively and fixedly "rational", naturally see no sense in such ideas. But that does not mean the idea is void, at all. This is an issue of one-sidedness in the psyche, where that which is rationally inaccessible, is deemed automatically non-existent. 

OK Habitat, this is an idea I hope you will develop.  I am not going to presuppose that any god is a mental construct for this exercise.  You seem to suggest that the experience of god is transrational, or perhaps mystical, and I can understand why that would be important to anyone who experienced it.  Of course it is subjective, but the quality of the experience and how the experiencer knows it is divinity they are experiencing is the primary matter of interest to me here.

2 hours ago, Guyver said:

Well said.  

I don’t think we know what we’re talking about, because we are limited by our limitations, but we do what we can.  Enough of us have had experiences that seem very much to us that they are more than the mind, and certainly more than we understand.  Some of us have used religion as a way to try and understand it and it hasn’t worked,  so, we keep looking and experiencing and trying to make sense out of it.

You have summarised a lot of my thoughts quite well Guyver, and I appreciate it.  I suppose I am working a bit blind here, as I cannot point to a personal experience of what I might call "the divine", but that is not the same as not being interested.  Curiosity is at least one defining trait of my personality.  I suppose I am trying to get a sense of where religious doctrine meshes with spiritual experience, without presupposing that the former pollutes the latter, as is often the accusation.

1 hour ago, Habitat said:

To define something, is to delimit it, who would one be, to be able to place limits on God. It's an absurdity.

Well, it may be an apparently Sisyphean task Habitat, but as I wrote in the intro paragraph, there is a great deal of philosophy devoted to understanding various notions of infinity, and I have heard some people claim that the concepts involved can be quite inspiring and spiritually engrossing to contemplate.  The danger of not trying to define something is to make the topic a matter of ignorance, and who wants a religion based on the deification of ignorance?  Of course hard definitions may be as impractical as trying to hold water in one's clenched fist, so a more encompassing approach is probably wisest.  I mean, the moment we describe a deity as almighty, omniscient, perfect, and omnibenevolent, haven't we gone a long way towards defining that deity already?  On the other hand, what interests me is how a spiritual experiencing such an entity plays out, and how one can identify divinity as opposed to the merely supernatural (i.e. inexplicable).

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Habitat
1 minute ago, Alchopwn said:

  Of course it is subjective, but the quality of the experience and how the experiencer knows it is divinity they are experiencing is the primary matter of interest to me here.

it is probably the last thing a dilettante can hope to apprehend. 

2 minutes ago, Alchopwn said:

I mean, the moment we describe a deity as almighty, omniscient, perfect, and omnibenevolent, haven't we gone a long way towards defining that deity already? 

I certainly wouldn't apply those appellations.

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Alchopwn
1 hour ago, Habitat said:

it is probably the last thing a dilettante can hope to apprehend. 

Well that's arrogant.  If you won't even try to describe it, it becomes impossible for anyone to apprehend anything, and does nothing to support your claims and much to dismiss them.

1 hour ago, Habitat said:

I certainly wouldn't apply those appellations.

Well they are the ones used in the Bible... If you wouldn't use them, what would you use?

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Habitat
26 minutes ago, Alchopwn said:

Well they are the ones used in the Bible... If you wouldn't use them, what would you use?

Nothing really can be said, without putting some definition in play, and immediately that is us putting a limitation on God. How can we do that with something that is beyond rational apprehension ? 

 

29 minutes ago, Alchopwn said:

Well that's arrogant. 

Not intended to be, I think it must be as useless as the sighted man telling the congenitally blind, what the faculty of vision is, experientially. The mystic's vision, is mediated by a latent faculty of the mind almost completely in the shadow of the dominant faculties we use in practical living. It only comes to life, when the dominant gives way to it. That requires an unusual concurrence of factors. 

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XenoFish

God being an idea isn't dismissive of anything. People put what they expect into their gods. If fasting for X amount of days in devotion to their deity for Y reason leads to Z results. So if you fasted 20 days in order to commune with God and "did so". Those 20 days were spent building up an expectation that your subconscious had to fulfill. Much the same way taking a 112 day vow would do. Thus creating a very subjective experience of the god idea regardless of doubt due to the discipline of intention. 

I'm sure this will go over some people's heads unless they have done it. 

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XenoFish

The brain treats beliefs as facts. If a belief is strengthened and cultivated and becomes a strong part of one's mindset, yeah, people will live and die for such beliefs. That whole "Alann Snackbarr (boom!)" Kinda belief. 

People will argue tooth and nail over beliefs as well. I mean this forum shows that. And my 'god idea' might be reducing it to the least moving parts, but you've got to start somewhere. 

People can and do tack on vague concept to their gods. Omnipotent, infinite, unknowable, etc. All additional concepts, even cultural superiority as in "we are the chosen", "one true god".

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Habitat
38 minutes ago, XenoFish said:

So if you fasted 20 days in order to commune with God and "did so".

Did you ?

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