Differing Views of God

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Siege, Dec 19, 2003.

  1. Siege

    Siege New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was originally going to call this "Who Do You Say I Am?", but it occurred to me that could be misinterpreted. ;)

    I've spent quite a bit of time arguing religion on-line over the past few years, which means I've been exposed to people who espouse the same religion I do, at least in name (I'm a Christian, Anglican/Episcopalian, to be specific), yet whose views of God are radically different. This summer, I lost my temper with a Fundamentalist who accused me of leading people to hell, yet it finally occurred to me last night that, when I accused her of driving people away from Christ, I was accusing her of a crime she sees as just as serious.

    I've read that people's visions of God tend to reflect their relationship with their fathers. I reject that -- I maintain my vision of God contains the unconditional love I couldn't get feel from Dad as a child -- yet I can see where it would come from in a bunch of cases. Liberal Christian that I am, the God I worship is one who promises acceptance and love, no matter how different, how weird, or how wrong one is. It's a vision which fits my psychological needs and one which makes life bearable as well as more pleasant at times. I was praying while I was driving home from the final rehearsal for Handel's Messiah last night, with the music still ringin in my ears and full of the love of the wonderful in the choir (I've only been going to this church for a couple of months). I swear, in answer to my prayers, I heard a deep chuckle and a Voice saying, "Of course I want you to be happy, child."

    On the other hand, I've encountered people whose vision of God is much harsher than mine is. The picture they present is of a God much more focussed on judgement than joy. There is Right and there is Wrong and there is little mercy for those who are Wrong. Since these people, as a rule, place themselves firmly in the Right camp, I gather their vision of God is one who affirms their righteousness in a sinful world. If I say, "No matter how much else is wrong in my life, no matter how cruel people are, God loves me", I see them as saying, "No matter how much else is wrong in my life, no matter how cruel people are, God says I am Right." I am obligated to assume that their vision of God is one which is right, makes sense, and suits their needs every bit as much as my vision suits me.

    I was wondering about what visions or interpretations of God you've encountered as well as what your own experiences of Him are. I admit that religion is like the old story about 6 blind men and an elephant, but I'm curious about what parts of the elephant other people have hold of.

    Looking forward to reading your posts,
    CJ
     
  2. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    Get the best of religions.

    About the elephant, some God-believers prefer to dwell on the posterior apertures of the creature. Don't go for those parts. However you can do a good ministry acting as 'charge de potty' for the elephant.

    Seriously, in my own case I call myself a postgraduate Catholic, retaining all the best and reasonable beliefs and observances of Catholicism, including its arts, music, literature, architecture, monuments. I go for church wedding and religious burials. And my God is broader and higher, much much more transcendent than the biblical God of Christians and Muslims and of course Jews.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  3. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    3,623
    Likes Received:
    112
    I too have been experiencing many peoples' belief in God on the internet.

    As a Baha'i we believe God is not knowable to man directly...being His creations we're rather limited in what we can personally gather about the Supreme... The attributes of God however are possible to gather and are more perfectly reflected we Baha'is believe in a Manifestation of God, so in turning to a Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Bab or Baha'u'llah we're more likely we Baha'is believe to ascertain what God is like than relying just on our own persoanl devices.

    And I've grown very accepting of other peoples' beliefs in God and encourage them to search further as they are inclined to do. I'm tolerant of atheists as well because they are I think "honest" about their perceptions and are only reporting what they observe... We may differ though on how far their search for God can proceed but in most discussions I've had with them I've come to respect their views.

    The parable of the blind men and the elephant is very apt...

    One of things I've learned as a volunteer visiting people in hospital who have many varied views and philosophies is to be considerate of them and encourage them in some way or other depending on their situation, also, as they are ill I never argue with them or try to put them down in any way...this is probably a good principle in general too.

    I try to see that people who want to celebrate eucharist receive that rite and if they're atheist respect their right to disbelieve...in this way I think we as human beings are all in the same journey...We all will eventually have to give up our physical bodies and leave our wealth and worldly power to others. The existential reality of our lives ending is in front of all of us whatever our situation may be.... so every moment of life is I think a precious opportunity to care for others and reach a moment where we can say what is most in our hearts...the essence of our being and existence can reveal itself.

    - Art
     
  4. veritasamat

    veritasamat New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    The view of God in Islam is much as arthra said: One cannot comprehend God completely, but can know of him through his creation, and through messages sent by prophets. Also, there is a revelation of God that is in every human's conscience from birth.

    Beyond that, I do believe that people are psychologically drawn to a particular manifestation of religion. I know both muslims and christians whose primary motivation is fear, and to whom God is harsh and demanding. I also know muslims and christians who are focused on God's love and mercy. They can both find scriptural backing for their view. Either way, how a person relates to God will greatly affect how they relate to each other. I think that most strict and judgmental people are also deeply fearful. I also think that a person's relation with God is often dictated by their relation with their earthly parents, but not always, as people do grow in self-knowledge and understanding of the divine.

    For myself, my idea of God has changed and expanded greatly, yet of course I know very little. I still believe that God exists as a definite person, this being confirmed by me experience. But I also have some ideas that border on pantheism, although that doesn't fit into the realm of orthodox Islam and so I keep that to myself and I'm not sure where to go with it. I believe that God is the love that every human longs for, the ultimate reality, and he is much better than most religious people have given him credit for. I think that religion is given only as a means to an end, not an end to itself, and there is a danger of loving one's religion more than God, if that makes sense. I more I learn the less I know...:) but I am satisfied to leave the rest of God to mystery, because I am sure that whatever he is it's good, and hopefully I will unwrap the mystery when I die.
     
  5. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    Mistaking cuisine for nutrition

    Like mistaking the cuisine for the food, the hairdo for the hair.

    It takes a good deal of intelligence training to bring out that fact to most people attached to their religion. A tragedy.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  6. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,906
    Likes Received:
    5
    I opine that it is impossible for the finite (us) to conceive of fully, or even partly that which is infinite. And even if by some fluke or specific design we are able to conceive of the infinite in its entirety, we are not yet ready to. However, that small detail should by no means cause us to give up trying.

    In my line of work, while I must remain focused on the goal ahead, it is imperetive that I keep aware of my surroundings along the way. Else I might miss subtle signs that could warn me or help me concerning what is around the next bend in the road.

    We all think/feel/hope/wonder, that there is something greater for us (that this is not all there is). And those who are most satisfied (most enlightened), keep their eyes, ears, minds open while walking the path of life. To not do so, would be like struggling over a mountain cursing all the way and finally making it to the other side exhausted and angry at the hardship of it all...only to discover that there was a tunnel boring straight through that mountain, but we missed the sign telling us this.

    Is there something greater than me? I believe yes. Do I matter to this "entity"? Again, I believe yes. Why then would this entity allow such a divergence in peoples' beliefs or non beliefs?

    The answer could be as simple as this, yet as profound -

    "Allah, in His infinite Wisdom, loves wonderous variety" (The Moorish warrior to the Engish child, in the movie Robin Hood.

    My two cents.
     
  7. JJM

    JJM New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0
    Idea that God is to advanced and important for us to understand I think is a good one. Even though I continue to believe that anything is possible through God. So it is impossible without some serious divine intervention. This thought reminds me of a quote from The Mothman Prophecies.


    "You're more advanced than a cockroach. Did you ever try explaining yourself to one?"

    I think that this is very much a way of explaining why we don't understand God. If you had a farm of cockroaches and you found a way to communicate with them you could talk for years and have them not understand you. We are God's cockroaches if that is an expectable analogy. This difference is that he love us so much that no matter if we don't understand he still tries to explain himself to us. He has been trying for hundreds of years all over the world. that is the extent of Gods love that he would explain himself to a bunch of cockroaches.
    As for my interpretation of God I could see why many people would view him like their fathers. I understand not because it is some psychological thing but rather because if you had a perfect father he would be a lot like God. God is perfect at it and humans have some short comings but some fathers could come close. Always teaching and guiding, all merciful, and all loving regardless of what a person does. A God that while he may punish only does it to protect other people or teach never out of anger and never if their is another solution that would get the same results. I guess I see this as the After Christ version of God where rather than do what he asks so that he favors or does not punish you but rather because you want to return to him the love in which he shows you. In my opinion the other version of God as an all Smiting punisher is very prechrist. I think that God was and in some ways still is purposely portrayed that way in order to convince people to live a just life. However I think one of the main reasons of Christ was to point out all the signs in the Holy writings of the time of God’s everlasting mercy which they had not heard of.
     
  8. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,906
    Likes Received:
    5
    An adept never realizes his adeptness

    I accept your second part of thought whole heartedly, but I reject your first thought completely.

    I am not, nor ever will be equal to an Earth insect. I am totally different, my life is different, my job is different, and God gave me a brain to know the difference. I am a MAN, superior in thought, superior in concept. Imortal in spirit. Cockroaches are food.

    Now, if I meet a sentient being from not of this world who looks like a cockroach, I'll show it one and ask what it thinks. Chances are it might show me a primate from its world and ask what I think. But until then, I as a Man reign supreme.

    ooh, to be compared to animals is fine. But to be compared to a cockroach?

    We are made in GOD's IMAGE and LIKENESS, according to certain scriptures. That means we do not have an exoskeleton, multiple eyes, or a sliver of neurons for a brain.

    I'm sorry. I HATE COCKROACHES. If they were not a food group I would erradicate them all.

    As far as God/Man advancement, we are not far from Eden. The "veil" prohibits us from entering. We a still right next to the garden's wall...I don't think we ever left.

    Like a "DOG", we know our loving master, and we try to stay close to where He is.

    I gotta stop here. That cockroach thing just set me off. I am sorry.
     
  9. Siege

    Siege New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0
    Easy, Quahom1. I hate cockroaches at least as much as the next person (I lived in Hawaii, where the things fly and apparently think bug spray is the cockroach equivalent of high-grade marijuana), but I can see the validity of the metaphor. Heck, I had trouble explaining to a young dog why she couldn't pull my arm off the other day.

    I'm going to take this quote and run with it a bit:
    If I said, "I am not, nor ever will be equal to God. I am totally different, my life is different, my job is different, and God gave me a brain to know the difference," replacing "earth insect" with "God", I suspect you wouldn't have a problem with that. Me, I have no problem with the notion that God is as far above us as we are above cockroaches; in fact, I'd be amazed to find we're that close in one sense. On the other hand, unlike cockroaches, I at least hope I have a redeeming characteristic or two. ;)

    CJ
     
  10. JJM

    JJM New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0
    Quahom1


    Sorry to upset you. I never meant to say we where a cockroach. Of course you’re different from a cockroach. I just meant to say that we are lesser beings than god yet he still loves us enough to explain himself. I also wanted to state that that is why we don’t always understand his message. If you like the dog analogy better use it unfortunately I have never seen the quote:


    “You are more advanced than a dog. Would you try explaining yourself to a dog?”

    I guess that would actually fit better because you could understand wanting to explain your self to a dog even though he is limited to what he understands. Sorry I never meant to say that you where in fact a cockroach. I just meant it in retrospect to God’s greatness in Intelligence we could have the brains of cockroaches. Just because we don’t look like them, doesn’t mean that God isn’t that much smarter than us. Besides what so bad about being a cockroach my head fell off I’d like to be able to reattach it.;)
     
  11. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    43
    Namaste Q,

    welcome to the forum.

    you are also food. go to the jungle and wander about for a bit.. you'll note, without doubt, that the other predators don't have any regard for your 'human' status.

    moreover, when you die, depending on the type of burial you have, you will be food for the worms. it's all cyclic.. matter is not destroyed.
     
  12. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,906
    Likes Received:
    5
    Greeting go with you as well Vaj,

    Well yes...but at least I have a better than 50/50 chance of sitting down to dinner that night, instead of being dinner:D

    And after I'm dead, the "house" is up for grabs to all bidders...except cockroaches (I'm makin' certain that is in my will).

    Seriously, I just don't think we are that low on the scale in comparison to God, and here is why. Scripture describes man as being a little lower than Angels, and angels (like the former Archangel Lucifer) were described as being second only to God. Finally, it seems, that God has invested alot of time and effort into this troublesome, rebellious creation called man. But for some reason, God appears to think we are worth it.

    That I am a flawed creature, a sinner, that on their own merit my greatest accomplishment are the equivelent of filthy rags to be burnt to cinders...I can accept that. I just can't consider myself lower than what I am, a human being.

    JJM, I understand what you were saying, and appreciate your view. The cockroach thing just set off an irrational emotion. The picture in my mind was disgusting and loathesome to me. I truly hate cockroaches:rolleyes:

    Siege, I do love dogs, but I wouldn't want to be one;)
     
  13. JJM

    JJM New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0
    Quahom1

    I understand your Idea and know that you don’t feel that there is that big a gap. I respect that and also feel that it is probably not that large even though I’m not sure how smart a cockroach actually is. This is about you saying that we are one step lower than angels. And angels are second to God. While this is true I don’t think you realize that there are different levels of angels. 9 is the excepted number so if you make God #1 then we would be #11. I don’t know how far down you would put cockroaches obviously not 11 so I understand your sort of discuss. I also agree that God did put a lot of work into us but he did with everything and he seems to think it is all worth it.

    If you’re confused on the level of angels thing try this web sight The Celestial Hierarchy.

    I haven’t put a link in one of these posts before so if it doesn’t work this is the address.
    http://www.suscopticdiocese.org/stmaryatlanta/youth/pdf/TheCelestialHierarchy.pdf
     
  14. JJM

    JJM New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0
    oops!

    I know I spelt disgust wrong! can't spell to save my life didn't notice till it was to late.:eek:
     
  15. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,906
    Likes Received:
    5
    Ok, and thanks JJM for the links. I knew there were levels of Angel hiearchy, I just didn't know how many.

    v/r

    Q
     
  16. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    All things great and small

    Namaste all.


    All together now:
    __________________________________

    All things bright and beautiful,
    All creatures great and small,
    All things wise and wonderful,

    The Lord God made them all.

    Something like that, forgive me for the misquotes.

    ________________________________


    About cockroaches, I feel sorry for them; for they are slated for extinction even though they can survive radiation from nuclear holocausts.

    Because people from Dow and other chemicals manufacturers have produced a cock bait that can really kill them all in due time.

    It works this way, according to the instruction in one sachet:

    Unless they develop an antidote within their system -- which takes millions of years; what a loss, as they have survived millions of years antecedently to us.

    And please don't denigrate the cockroach as inferior to us. It is as evolved as necessary for it to survive all these millions of years to be even immune to radiation ravages; but to be extinguished by the most wickedly destructive of creatures, man.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  17. JJM

    JJM New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2003
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    0
    I only meant to say that cockroaches where inferior mentally, and if they can't figure out that they are dieing from eating their dead comrades before their entire species is destroyed then they are. I've already stated their superior survival skills.
     
  18. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2003
    Messages:
    3,786
    Likes Received:
    43
    Namaste Quahom,

    thank you for the post.

    perhaps you have that chance.. though it's really hard to say. if the animals were quite hungry and you were just wandering around, i suspect that you would be dinner that night :) eh... but this is, of course, just a thought and a perspective.

    it's not that we are lower than other creatures or above them. rather, that all creatures want to be happy and not to suffer and in that respect, we are all equal. despite what some folks would assert, animals do feel pain and aniexity and know, to a relative degree, what is going on around them.

    well... i'll presume that this opinion is held due to your religions teachings. i would certainly not veiw it in that manner :) eh... but whatever works for you is what i'm in favor of!

    my tradition has a completely different view of all beings, not just humans :) in any event... if it works for you and and causes you to progress along the spiritual path, then i will support you 100%.

    viva la difference!
     
  19. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2003
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks Vaj, for the paragraph below; it's been my spiritual reading for the day, very edifying.

    ______________________________________

    it's not that we are lower than other creatures or above them. rather, that all creatures want to be happy and not to suffer and in that respect, we are all equal. despite what some folks would assert, animals do feel pain and aniexity and know, to a relative degree, what is going on around them.

    _________________________________________

    That's one of the saddest things I find in Christianity and in Islam and in Judaism, they don't have a place for animals, unlike Buddhism. Correct me if I am wrong.

    If you keep a dog at home, and they are man's best friends, you will realize that they can smell fear, worry, anger, sex, whatever in you. Have you noticed that the neighborhood dogs howl when there is death in the vicinity, and they don't have to see it -- they can smell the dying process.

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  20. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2003
    Messages:
    3,623
    Likes Received:
    112
    My good friend Susma Rio Sep wrote:

    "That's one of the saddest things I find in Christianity and in Islam and in Judaism, they don't have a place for animals, unlike Buddhism. Correct me if I am wrong."

    My reply:

    I don't think that's entirely the case though I will concede there is a very strong emphasis in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism on not disturbing animal life...

    But consider:

    In Numbers 22:23-30 you have the charming story of Balaam's ass and Exodus 23:4-5: "If you come on your enemy's ox or donkey going astray, you must lead it back to him. If you see the donkey of a man who hates you fallen under his load, instead of keeping out of his way, go to him to help him."

    Even though there was a sacrificial system developed using animals in the Temple consider Psalm 50:13:

    "If I were hungry, I should not tell you,
    since the world and all it holds is mine.
    Do I eat the flesh of bulls,
    or drink goat's blood?"

    And in the Gospels, Jesus says:

    "And yet not one (sparrow) falls to the ground without your Father knowing." - Matthew 10:29

    I've speculated that that when Jesus drove out the money changers and traders of animals from the Temple He was was also by His actions attacking the system of animal sacrifices. See Matthew 21:12-13.

    In the Qur'an is the story of the She-Camel:

    "Now hath come unto you a clear (Sign) from your Lord! This she-camel of Allah is a sign unto you: so leave her to graze in Allah's earth and let her come to no harm, or ye shall be seized with a grievous punishment....

    Then they hamstrung the she-camel and insolently defied the order of their Lord..."

    - Surih 7:73-77

    In the Baha'i Faith, Kindness to Animals is a principle:

    "Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel."

    -Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978), 159-60.

    Hunting for sport is also forbidden for Baha'is.

    - Art
     

Share This Page