A new way of thinking about God

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by dfnj2019, Apr 27, 2019.

  1. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    God is just a word. The word God represents something. What the word God represents is always a matter of subjective interpretation. However, if one steps back and looks at the definitions of God there are some interesting possibilities. One of the best definitions of the word God can be found in Apophatic theology:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apophatic_theology

    "Apophatic theology, also known as negative theology,[1] is a form of theological thinking and religious practice which attempts to approach God, the Divine, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God."

    "Dionysius describes the kataphatic or affirmative way to the divine as the "way of speech": that we can come to some understanding of the Transcendent by attributing all the perfections of the created order to God as its source. In this sense, we can say "God is Love", "God is Beauty", "God is Good". The apophatic or negative way stresses God's absolute transcendence and unknowability in such a way that we cannot say anything about the divine essence because God is so totally beyond being. The dual concept of the immanence and transcendence of God can help us to understand the simultaneous truth of both "ways" to God: at the same time as God is immanent, God is also transcendent. At the same time as God is knowable, God is also unknowable. God cannot be thought of as one or the other only."

    But rather than take this limited approach to thinking about God of a single space-time Universe, I would like to expand the idea of how to define God or what God represents taking into account two ideas in modern physics.

    The way I am proposing what the word God represents is based on ideas from American physicist Hugh Everett III, who proposed the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics in his doctoral thesis at Princeton University in 1957. I am a proud Everettian! Here is a good article critiquing Everettian thought, however, with the same data points I have an opposite subjective judgment to the author that is pro-Everettian. The author's arguments make me support Everettian thought even more:

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-...quantum-mechanics-has-many-problems-20181018/

    "This picture gets really extravagant when you appreciate what a measurement is. In one view, any interaction between one quantum entity and another — a photon of light bouncing off an atom — can produce alternative outcomes, and so demands parallel universes. As DeWitt put it, “Every quantum transition taking place on every star, in every galaxy, in every remote corner of the universe is splitting our local world on earth into myriads of copies.” In this “multiverse,” says the physicist and many-worlds proponent Max Tegmark, “all possible states exist at every instant” — meaning, at least in the popular view, that everything that is physically possible is (or will be) realized in one of the parallel universes."

    So then combine Everettian thought with the multiverse hypothesis and the idea black holes create white holes:

    https://phys.org/news/2015-10-white-holes.html

    The idea our Big Bang was the result of a star collapsing to a black hole in a previously existing space-time dimension creates a slightly bigger idea of what Time is in the multiverse. In the multiverse combined with the many-worlds interpretation reality and time is vastly or astronomically much bigger than anything we could possibly imagine. This larger idea beckons to use the word God to represent it!

    God is the only word big enough to represent such a huge idea for time and space. So with these two idea, the multiverse and Everettian thought, what does the word God represent? The word God then represents the realization of every possibility that can happen will happen over the entire many-worlds multiverse. Anywhere there is probability, every possibility of a probability is realized. In one alternate Universe you marry Susan. And in another alternate Universe you marry Kim. In one space-time dimension you are a mass murderer and in another you are a version of Mother Teresa. So our Universe of space-time represents one possible set of choices realized in order for God to realized God's omnipotence.

    God then becomes this idea of wholeness and completeness of every possibility realized. God is neither good nor evil because God represents both qualities in equal proportions. And the same is true for each of us. There are an equal number of space-time dimensions where we are both just a good and just as evil as anyone can be.

    This then is the limit of imagination. Having a way to realize every possible possibility over the many-worlds multiverse is the limit of every possible thought and experience consciousness can possibly have in existence.
     
  2. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    My concept of God is that the definition of God falls into only two possibilities...

    Is God personal?
    or
    Is God impersonal?

    aka

    Is God an entity?
    or
    Is God a Non-entity?
     
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Impersonal entity which doesn't exist and is always personal
     
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  4. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    The boss may be absent but the blank letterhead stationary is owned by the Boss.
     
  5. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    Within the Shi'a School of Thought there is something called Sifat ul-Salbiyya (The Negative Qualities or Attributes) which indicates that which Allah is not.

    Here are some of the main ones:

    1) Allahu la Jism - "Allah is not a body"
    2) Allahu la Tarkeeb - "Allah is not composed of constituents, parts or sections"
    3) Allahu la Makaan - "Allah is without place or location (spaceless)"
    4) Allahu la Hulool - "Allah is not contained within anything and nothing is contained within Him"
    5) Allahu la Ittihaad - "Allah is not a unity of things - Does not coalesce, merge, mix or unify with anything"
    6) Allahu la Ru'ya - "Allah is not seen - cannot be seen"
    7) Allahu la Qubool lil Hawaadith - "Allah is not susceptible to change or alteration"
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2019
  6. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Interesting. Is there a rememberance practice based on these?
     
  7. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Reminds me of a thread I started about divine names and attributes, in the comparative studies section.
     
  8. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    Maybe

    I've never come across any Dhikr practices using The Negative Qualities, but they are used in Tafakkur (Meditation, Reflection) upon Allah, which often follows the Remembrance.
     
  9. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    most people look on God as a noun.

    If you look at God as a verb, it changes things.
     
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  10. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Now for something completely esoterical:

    Of the the 9 ways of devotional Service [bhakti yoga],
    the first three are the essence.
    The first three are:

    1. HEARING (sravanam)
    2. CHANTING (kirtanam)
    <think: Gospel Choral call and response; or simply "readings">
    3. REMEMBERING (smaranam)
     
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  11. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    Is the remembering type of devotion similar to the various forms of mindfulness?
     
  12. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    I'm not a big fan of the idea God is like a person. That would imply God has physical boundaries. I think God is unknowable because God's being is infinite without boundaries. I prefer to think of the word God as a representation of the idea of every possible thought and experience that has ever happened or will ever happen. The meaning of the word God has several connotative meanings. I prefer or like the idea that God is not only a representation for experience, but also a particular type of experience. The idea God is a type of experience seems more real to me. Essentially, when we have very profound peak experiences with being or performance I would qualify certain experiences as divine experiences because they give us a feeling of being connected to the absolute perfection, completeness, and unity that is God. Our goal is to aspire to be the best we can be by having these type of divine experiences or by have a strong sense of presence so just being becomes a profound type of experience. I think we are at our best when we trying to experience a sense of unity with God's perfection.
     
  13. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    See my previous post.
     
  14. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    "boss" is such a horrible word. For me, I have very negative connotations with the word "boss". I would prefer or would choose to refer to God as our "steward". We live in an age were authoritarianism is religion. I think at some point we have to come back to an the idea of an omnipotent God of unconditional love needs nothing from us and desires nothing from us. God is complete and whole without any missing pieces. It seems to me a God who is whole, complete, and one of unconditional love would be slightly more egalitarian as opposed to authoritarian. I would imagine such a "steward" type God would be more interested in serving His followings rather than having His followers serve him. As a father of my children I feel I exist to serve them as their protector and steward. I do not require my children to serve my needs. I do not require my children to worship me in order to get my favor.

    We live in the age where people are slaves to or exist to serve the system. I prefer the ideal the system exists to serve the people but that is no longer the case. It would be nice if politics were kept out of religion. But the Bible is promoting monarchy as the only divine form of government and slavery is morally okay.

    “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18)

    The idea slavery is morally okay is huge problem for me. I'm am quite stunned that the so called "divinely inspired" word of God could be so wrong. This makes me think the essential message of the Bible is, "morality is important." But given that the Bible got slavery so wrong makes me think the Bible needs to be read as metaphor not to be taken out of the historical context in which it was written.
     
  15. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    If you work with the common understanding, yes. It's worth remembering, especially if you're looking at apophatics, etc., that the writers are philosophers, and using terms from a philosophical perspective.

    So their definition of person is "an individual substance of a rational nature" as declared by Boethius long, long ago.

    I could quibble ...

    You're getting more and more conditional now ... ?

    Does it, or are you a priori projecting God as the exemplar of experience, and then any experience that is 'exemplary' is therefore divine?

    This comes across to me as an attempt to quantify the ineffable ...

    Or are we creating God in our own image?

    This is not a refutation, nor an accusation, just throwing something to think about into the mix.
     
  16. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Subjective opinion. I have had two bosses I hold in the highest regard. The others weren't worthy of the title, and some were complete wankers.

    Well it was. What other models were there? You're rather holding the past to an impossible standard.

    Well a whole raft of two-thousand year old moral values are questionable and unacceptable from where we are today, and to be sure if in the unlikely event we manage to stay around for another two thousand years then future generations will look back on the moral horror of this one ...

    St Paul asked that slaves be released from their state, but he was not unique nor alone in that, but the point is that slavery was accepted as a norm. Our contemporary notion of 'freedom' and 'civil rights' would be utter fantasy in those days, and totally illogical, irrational, etc. Nevertheless the freeing of slaves was seen as virtuous. It took a long time to get from there to where we are today, and it's a long and bloody road.

    And, for the West, it's (for some) an uncomfortable fact that the contemporary idea of the 'person' is the fruit of Christian theology, particularly the debates over Incarnation and the nature of Christ. A curio, not the intention, but there it is...

    Slavery exists today, just under different names and in different guises. Consumerism, for one. It's just a bit more sophisticated. Trouble is, both Capitalism and Communism, support and to some degree depend on systems of slavery ... discreetly, it's OK, as long as we don't call it that ...
     
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  17. dfnj2019

    dfnj2019 Member

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    Anything else would not have any meaning. At some point, the word God has to mean something.
     
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  18. Cino

    Cino Big Love

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    So meaning is only derived from other meaningful things?

    I don't think you're wrong, but I do think that wrapped within this surface web of interwoven meaning lies a core that cannot be reached by moving from one node to the next in the mesh of words, and that this core may not be meaningful in that sense but powerful ... and able to stir plenty of waves on the surface.
     
  19. Bhaktajan II

    Bhaktajan II Active Member

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    Transcendental means outside the boundaries.

    Like fish cannot live outside their boundaries.

    The boundaries of the Sun cannot be approached.

    If God is a Cube or Cloud or Force-Field ---that is an "Impersonal" descriptor.
    If God is his own persona ---that is an "personal" descriptor.

    The details are for the seekers.
     
  20. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Oh indeed.

    The thrust of apophatic theology is to avoid anthropomorphism and thus not seeing God as a kind of best-version projection of humanity.

    The idea of 'person' is a pointer — when we use it, we think of someone, a bloke, whatever — when the theologian uses it, s/he thinks of a metaphysical category, s/he thinks in terms of 'substance', 'rationality', 'nature', not in terms of people at all.

    For Christianity, this has led to a situation where, because Christ was incarnate as a man, to stand 'in persona Christi' a priest must necessarily be a man, which is to miss the point, really, of the incarnation. God comes to us in our form, the gender is really immaterial.

    Buddhism suffers the same, of the 32 marks to identify a Buddha, many are accidents of physicality (long ear lobes) and gender (male genitalia). To compensate for the atheist doctrine, we have the Amida Buddha and the Bodhisattvas which are regarded as de facto deities. People can't help it, the via negative is not strictly natural to the way we are wired.

    It all really depends on where you're coming from.

    The image of God as an old man with a long white beard seated on a throne, etc., etc. Is a viable metaphor for the God of the pseudoDionysius. It works and it's acceptable to God. As is the term 'Father' or 'Abba' as a form of address.

    The intellectual concept of the Absolute, which for so long was the foundation of my every theological thought, is no more or less precise, correct or valid as that of the old man ... they are both forms of idolatry if we start to invest the 'common' concept with divine qualities, rather than see that the common term is an analogy, it's like what it's trying to describe, it's not what its object is ... language is incapable of precise definition because we are, because as soon as we think, as we turn our minds to something, we're engaging in an activity that's bounded in space and time, as we are, even though it possesses, in some inexplicable way, the capacity, or at least the potentiality, not to be.

    So yes and no ... I don't knock anyone's idea of God if the heart is in the right place, just tryin' to shed a little light ...
     
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