Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Kayla
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Kayla »

chaz wyman wrote:I think it is a very rare occurrence that a child brought up with science and secularism grows into a fully fledged religious person who accepts the dogma of the Faith and its myths such as The Creation, or Divine Omnipotence.
this is probably less rare than you think

i know several people from totally secular environment who became religious
Then there is the Realm of easy answers. Religion has them all.
this really depends on how one understands a religion

i believe in god but the idea that god has outlined in detail a precise way of life good for all eternity strikes me as absurd

the bible raises more questions than it answers

if anything the smug atheism of dawkins type offers easy answers and feeling of superiority
Felasco
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Felasco »

Here's a definition that is "unlimited": God is everything that ever has been, is, or will be. I think some branches of the Gnostic faith tradition characterize God this way. If I believe there are things that exist, then by this definition, I would believe in God.
I think Mike is on the right track by directing our attention towards the process of definition.

The function of a definition is to conceptually divide one part of reality from the rest of reality. While this is an extraordinarily useful device, it also introduces a fundamental distortion in to our understanding, for the simple reason that in reality everything is connected to everything else, and the divisions we are creating are purely conceptual, not real.

As example...

That beautiful philosopher Joni Mitchell famously sang that we are stardust. That is, the actual physical substance of our human bodies was created in super nova explosions that happened long ago many light years from Earth. Conceptually we are very different than a star, but in the real world we literally are stardust.

Consider nouns, a building block of language, and a great example of the divisive nature of thought. The noun "tree" attempts to divide one part of reality from another. The definition is useful, but arbitrary, as it depends upon our human senses. If we could see the gas exchanges the tree is continually conducting, we would define tree very differently. Obviously, there is no tree without sun, water, soil etc. In the real world, everything is connected to everything else, and as the saying goes, all is one.

When we philosophers approach the subject of God, we typically use a process, thought, that is fundamentally divisive in nature, to explore a reality that is fundamentally unified in nature.

The vast majority of such discussions suffer from an extreme form of tool bias. That is, we philosophers insist on using the tool of thought, primarily because we love this tool, not because a divisive tool is useful for exploring the core of a unified reality, which is often named "God".

The evidence for the limits of this tool bias is that these conversations go round and round and round for thousands of years, and never accomplish anything. After thousands of years of such debate, the situation remains unchanged, some believe in God and some do not.

Doing the same thing over and over again, and getting the same results, is sometimes defined as "stupidity".
Gee
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Gee »

Mike:

Thank you, but please note that it was not my intention to outline a "Do It Yourself" instruction to create a new religion. Rather I intended to offer an understanding as to why religions become so diverse. Often people will take the diversity in religions as evidence that they are invalid, then go on to state that; therefore, God is invalid. Although this may be the most absurd piece of logic ever proposed, it does not stop people from using it. Basically, what they are saying is, based on this "invalid" information, something that I know nothing about can not possibly exist. That kind of thinking always gives me a chuckle.

When considering God and religion, I think that it is important to separate them and understand them individually. Religion is social and the dogma of a religion is it's interpretation of God, it's history of that knowledge, and it's instruction regarding how to live a good life--so of course, it would be cultural. The people who follow that religion are simply good people trying to be better. Do religions make mistakes? Absolutely. Although based on an interpretation of God, religions are made up of humans, and we are excellent at being humans and making mistakes.

Religion has been taking a lot of hits from science and philosophy lately, so although not religious, I find myself often in defense of it. Sometimes, I think that we forget the good that religions do, and focus instead on the bad. An example of the good would be in the matter of hurricane Katrina. While President Bush and his administration dithered, Katrina devastated Louisiana. Church leaders across the country stepped up and said, "What can we do?", but the administration denied that help was needed, and informed the religious groups that they would only get in the way. Less than 48 hours passed, when it became apparent that one can not get in the way of nothing, so good people, religious people, moved. They brought food and water and medicine and clothing and beds and comfort and safety. They saved everyone that they could, helped bury those who could not be saved, and staunched the flow of misery that was New Orleans. When nothing else could be done there, they found lodging for people all over the country. As far away as Michigan, we took in hundreds of people, into our homes and lives. So although I am not religious, probably because I am not very social, I have a strong and abiding respect for the religious and for the work that they do.

God is another matter. If one wants to understand what God is, the only way is to look to the roots of the various religions to find the commonalities. Doing this, we find that "God" is all knowing, but unknowable; the source of life that has power over life; and He loves us. Most intelligent people will take this to mean that "God" is consciousness, and either accept or deny the "love" and "unknowable" parts as they see fit. This is where we really mess up in our concepts of "God". Consciousness, as we all know, is thought. Isn't it? When a person is no longer conscious, they have no thought (the medical definition); when discussing the unconscious or the subconscious, the person has no awareness of their self awareness, or in other words they have no thought; other species have no ability to convey thought, therefore, they can not be conscious. I don't know what maggot of the brain caused this idiocy, but there is absolutely NO evidence that "God" thinks--He doesn't have to--He knows--"all knowing".

AI is actually more in align with the thinking part of our brains than "God" is, which is probably why many people wonder if AI is conscious--as it has thought. Sorry, but AI has no awareness, no emotion, no feeling--it is not conscious. Thought is really a very small part our minds and a small part of consciousness; it is not the source of life; life is awareness and feeling; but I must say that Freud made a good call when he named the small rational part of the mind, Ego. Good job. :P Most of us understand that "God" does not have a physical body, and therefore He does not have a physical brain. The brain processes memory and thought, so "God" does not actually think; He does not actually remember; He knows. We are talking awareness here.

"God" is not consciousness as we understand it, by our root definitions He is infinite awareness and emotion, and the source of life, and therefore has power over life. I can not see "God" as having a body and persona, because it is impossible and would be too limiting, I envision "God" as water because I believe that water and conscious awareness share similar properties. Actually I have been building a water metaphor for years to try to explain God and consciousness, but that is a little off topic.

If I am correct in my assessment that "God" is more infinite awareness and emotion, than conscious thought, the idea that He is unknowable becomes blatantly clear. First, as I pointed out in a prior post, focus is a problem for us, because on our best most aware day, we could not possibly gain more than a miniscule speck of nothing when contemplating the infinite awareness and knowledge that is "God". But there is the emotion, so we can learn about "God" through emotion. Right? No. There is no memory slot in our conscious/rational brain in which we can store pure emotion. It does not exist. Most people don't believe this, so I invite anyone reading this post to test my statement. I would like you to conjure up any strong emotion, love, hate, envy, tenderness, it does not matter which you choose. Then hold that emotion for one minute on the clock. Did you manage it? Good. Now relate to yourself all of the images, thoughts, and memories that you had to summon in order to obtain and hold that emotion. Our rational minds, the part of the brain that we use to function and for language and communication is designed to hold the memories of our five senses. Emotion can attach to memories and thoughts, and be remembered, but it can not be remembered or stored as pure emotion.

So let us hypothesize; I have had a communication from "God" in the form of pure emotion--as that is what He is--emotion and awareness. How would I know that it happened? If I can have no memory of it and no knowledge of it, how could I have experienced it? In order for my rational conscious mind to even know of the experience, I need something to file in my memory. I think this is where anthropomorphism comes in and theorize that my brain will take the emotion, associate it with whatever is in my mind that seems to fit, and file it under that as a memory. Kind of like a very efficient neurotic secretary, who feels the need to put things away. This makes sense to me and explains why Christians see Jesus or Mary, Jews see the God of Abraham, Vikings see Thor, and near death people see family. Anthropomorphism has been called imagination, but I think that the better explanation is that it is interpretation. And yes, there is some scientific evidence to support this theory. If you go to Wiki and look up "emotional memory" you will find that this kind of memory seems to grow or develop like film dipped into chemicals, it becomes more over time. Standard memory does not do this, so my thought is that the neurotic secretary, sitting in the brain, is trying to add anything that looks like it belongs to and explains that memory. She is helping me to make sense of and rationalize the experience.

The subconscious mind has no problem accepting pure emotion, and most of what is experienced goes there, then comes out in our dreams. Prophesies and psychic predictions often come in the form of dreams, and the symbolism of dreams has been studied for centuries--probably because I am not the first person to consider this.

So it is my thought that "God" is unknowable and many people find this idea unacceptable. "God" is emotion and many people deny emotion. Religions make mistakes and misinterpret the information that they have, and many people find this off putting. These are reasons why people do not believe.

Of course, I could be wrong, but I think that this is where many of the misunderstandings originate.

Gee
Last edited by Gee on Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Felasco
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Felasco »

Great post Gee, thanks. We're on much the same page.
Basically, what they are saying is, based on this "invalid" information, something that I know nothing about can not possibly exist. That kind of thinking always gives me a chuckle.
Yes, agreed. Instead of using "I don't know" as their default, they use "my preferred answer is right" as their default, thus becoming the very thing they are rebelling against. Chuckling is a mature response, one I aspire to. Not quite there yet.
The people who follow that religion are simply good people trying to be better.
To be fair to atheists, religions also include bad people trying to be badder, while calling it gooder. Religions are like nature, they are huge, and contain all things, from the best to the worst.
Religion has been taking a lot of hits from science and philosophy lately, so although not religious, I find myself often in defense of it.
Same here.
Sometimes, I think that we forget the good that religions do, and focus instead on the bad.
Agreed. Although there is much to complain about with the Catholic faith (and I do complain) Catholic Charities is the second leading provider of social services in the U.S. beat only by the federal government. They deserve credit for that accomplishment. It's a shame they don't stick to what they are good at, and are always wandering off in to other arenas.
So although I am not religious, probably because I am not very social, I have a strong and abiding respect for the religious and for the work that they do.
The problem is that we rarely hear from the best religious people, as they are too busy serving to blowhard on the net etc.
God is another matter. If one wants to understand what God is, the only way is to look to the roots of the various religions to find the commonalities.
Hmm... I would suggest an alternative. If we want to understand God, we might go out in to the real world, and listen. The question is, "does God exist in the real world?" So we should look in the real world, instead of in our heads.
Consciousness, as we all know, is thought. Isn't it?
Imho, no. Consciousness is the field in which thought arises. It's entirely possible to be conscious, but not thinking.
Thought is really a very small part our minds and a small part of consciousness; it is not the source of life; life is awareness and feeling;
Ah, we agree after all.
Most of us understand that "God" does not have a physical body, and therefore He does not have a physical brain.
Some feel the natural world is the body of God.
Actually I have been building a water metaphor for years to try to explain God and consciousness, but that is a little off topic.
I love water metaphors, so please share yours. I think I stole mine from somebody, but don't recall who.

Consider waves on the ocean. Each wave is an event, a unique occurrence with it's own moment which comes and then goes. The wave lives, and then it dies. The wave appears separate from the ocean, but of course it never is. The apparent separation is just an illusion.

I think of life and God that way. We think we come and then go, but the reality of who we really are is permanent. This is literally true, as what we are made of, the stardust, only changes form, and is not destroyed when we die.

The problem is we get very caught up in being the wave, because it's so exciting.
So it is my thought that "God" is unknowable and many people find this idea unacceptable.
Yes, because saying "I don't know" spoils the competitive ego games which are usually the real agenda of such conversations.
"God" is emotion and many people deny emotion.
I would put it differently. God is reality.

Our problem is that we usually think about reality, instead of experiencing it directly. Like looking at a photo of a person, instead of looking at the real person. It's a second hand watered down experience, like reading about sex instead of having sex.

The problem for religions is that they attempt to use thought to understand God, when thought is the problem, the obstacle, not the solution. So the more we try to answer the question with thought, the behinder we get.
chaz wyman
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by chaz wyman »

Kayla wrote:
chaz wyman wrote:I think it is a very rare occurrence that a child brought up with science and secularism grows into a fully fledged religious person who accepts the dogma of the Faith and its myths such as The Creation, or Divine Omnipotence.
this is probably less rare than you think

i know several people from totally secular environment who became religious

.

You live in Texas. There is nowhere you know of that is a totally secular environment sweetie. The US is the most religious country in the Western world outside Ireland.
When you grow old and travel the world like so few Americans do, you will realise just how parochial your life has been.
Gee
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Gee »

Felasco wrote:Great post Gee, thanks. We're on much the same page.
You are very welcome, and thank you for saying so. Sorry it took me so long to respond.
Felasco wrote:
Basically, what they are saying is, based on this "invalid" information, something that I know nothing about can not possibly exist. That kind of thinking always gives me a chuckle.
Yes, agreed. Instead of using "I don't know" as their default, they use "my preferred answer is right" as their default, thus becoming the very thing they are rebelling against. Chuckling is a mature response, one I aspire to. Not quite there yet.
Yes. Their "default" answer is really what they believe, and we don't like to change what we believe.
Felasco wrote:
The people who follow that religion are simply good people trying to be better.
To be fair to atheists, religions also include bad people trying to be badder, while calling it gooder. Religions are like nature, they are huge, and contain all things, from the best to the worst.
I don't think that anyone really tries to be "badder", I think they try to be safer, or happier, and think that "badder" will make that happen. But regarding atheists, I am sorry if I implied otherwise, as I believe that atheists can be just as moral as religious people and are often more moral. Maybe because they do not confess and get absolved of their "sins", they hold their ethics and morality more dear.

I used the example of organized religion in my post about Katrina, because religions are organizations; therefore, they have resources, connections, and the structure in place to quickly make things happen.
Felasco wrote:
Sometimes, I think that we forget the good that religions do, and focus instead on the bad.
Agreed. Although there is much to complain about with the Catholic faith (and I do complain) Catholic Charities is the second leading provider of social services in the U.S. beat only by the federal government. They deserve credit for that accomplishment.
I didn't know that, but it is impressive work.
Felasco wrote:
God is another matter. If one wants to understand what God is, the only way is to look to the roots of the various religions to find the commonalities.
Hmm... I would suggest an alternative. If we want to understand God, we might go out in to the real world, and listen. The question is, "does God exist in the real world?" So we should look in the real world, instead of in our heads.
I can't agree. In the first place, I do not want to understand "God", I want to know what "God" is. To know "God", to understand "God" is not possible, but to know what "God" is, may well be possible. I think that "God" is conscious awareness, so I think that "God" is real--not magic.

Are you implying that "our heads" are not in the "real world"? (chuckle)
Felasco wrote:
Most of us understand that "God" does not have a physical body, and therefore He does not have a physical brain.
Some feel the natural world is the body of God.
I have heard that, but do not see the connection or the evidence. The most that I could say regarding that idea, is that studying the natural world can help us to understand how "God" must work.
Felasco wrote:
Actually I have been building a water metaphor for years to try to explain God and consciousness, but that is a little off topic.
I love water metaphors, so please share yours. I think I stole mine from somebody, but don't recall who.

Consider waves on the ocean. Each wave is an event, a unique occurrence with it's own moment which comes and then goes. The wave lives, and then it dies. The wave appears separate from the ocean, but of course it never is. The apparent separation is just an illusion.

I think of life and God that way. We think we come and then go, but the reality of who we really are is permanent. This is literally true, as what we are made of, the stardust, only changes form, and is not destroyed when we die.

The problem is we get very caught up in being the wave, because it's so exciting.
My water metaphor is not nearly so poetic or exciting as yours. I use my water metaphor more as a visual tool to help me to understand conscious awareness, and therefore "God".

When I see waves and tides, I am reminded that the cosmos can effect patterns of repetition--as in astrology.
When I see water drops, I consider that water has the ability to draw itself up into individual drops--as in souls.
When I see that water is self leveling, I remember that conscious awareness is self balancing chaos.
When I think that water is H2O, I remember that consciousness is also made up of two things: awareness and self.
When I consider that water is in all life, I remember that conscious awareness is in all life.
When I consider that water is fluid and moves like it is alive, I think that spirituality is fluid and moves like it is alive.
When I think of the cycles of evaporation and condensation that change the forms of water, I think of reincarnation.
When I think of what a "ghost" must actually be, I think of a water stain--a left-over of something that was, but is no longer.
When I think that water feels wet, but H2O is not wet, I remember that conscious awareness feels like emotion, but is it emotional?
Water gives us life as does conscious awareness.
Water is in all things, the air, the earth, us, even a rock; conscious awareness is in all things.
This is not a complete list of the comparisons, but it gives you an idea. I have studied consciousness from the aspects of religion, the paranormal, science, and philosophy; and I find that there is good reason to believe that the properties of water may not be unique to water. It is possible that consciousness shares at least some of these properties--so like Thales--I think that it may all be water, metaphorically speaking.
Felasco wrote:
So it is my thought that "God" is unknowable and many people find this idea unacceptable.
Yes, because saying "I don't know" spoils the competitive ego games which are usually the real agenda of such conversations.
I think that religions compete like siblings. They are all trying to prove that they are the chosen ones that get to sit in Daddy's lap.
Felasco wrote:
"God" is emotion and many people deny emotion.
I would put it differently. God is reality.
Are you implying that emotion is not real?
Felasco wrote:Our problem is that we usually think about reality, instead of experiencing it directly. Like looking at a photo of a person, instead of looking at the real person. It's a second hand watered down experience, like reading about sex instead of having sex.

The problem for religions is that they attempt to use thought to understand God, when thought is the problem, the obstacle, not the solution. So the more we try to answer the question with thought, the behinder we get.
I understand what you are saying, but can't quite agree. We need to use thought to understand what "God" is, but we need to use our emotion and awareness to connect to "God". IMO

Gee
reasonvemotion
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by reasonvemotion »

If I had a concept of God, believed in it, and was happy because of it, I might want to share it with other people. I might write a book or talk to people. I would want to reach as many as I could. This would entail attempting to characterize the God I believed in, in a way to appeal to a wide audience. It may even involve admitting there are aspects of my God that I don't know about or can't explain.

It has already been written, translated and available to read in English since I think the 16th century. Its title is The Holy Bible and all your answers can be found in the Scriptures.
Felasco
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Felasco »

I don't think that anyone really tries to be "badder", I think they try to be safer, or happier, and think that "badder" will make that happen.


Agreed.
But regarding atheists, I am sorry if I implied otherwise, as I believe that atheists can be just as moral as religious people and are often more moral.
Agreed again.
I can't agree. In the first place, I do not want to understand "God", I want to know what "God" is. To know "God", to understand "God" is not possible, but to know what "God" is, may well be possible. I think that "God" is conscious awareness, so I think that "God" is real--not magic.
Is it helpful to draw a line between experience and knowledge?

As example, we can experience the sun on our face, without having any idea what the sun is. Maybe it's a star, or a god, or magic, or an alien being, or a force, or something beyond our understanding, but the sun on our face still feels good.
Are you implying that "our heads" are not in the "real world"? (chuckle)
Good question. They are of course. I'm using clumsy words to try to discuss symbols, and that which symbols point to. The word "car" is clearly part of the real world, but it is a symbol, not a car.

Imho, psychologically, the difference between symbols and what they point to is a crucial issue.
Some feel the natural world is the body of God.
I have heard that, but do not see the connection or the evidence. The most that I could say regarding that idea, is that studying the natural world can help us to understand how "God" must work.
For what it's worth, the argument (that the natural world is the body of God) goes something like this. In the natural world, everything is connected to everything else. The divisions implied by language are useful inventions of the human mind, not a characteristic of reality itself. Thus, if "all is one", God would be a good name for that One.
My water metaphor is not nearly so poetic or exciting as yours. I use my water metaphor more as a visual tool to help me to understand conscious awareness, and therefore "God".
Ok, thanks.
When I see waves and tides, I am reminded that the cosmos can effect patterns of repetition--as in astrology.
Got it.
When I see water drops, I consider that water has the ability to draw itself up into individual drops--as in souls.
Ok, yes, nice analogy.
When I see that water is self leveling, I remember that conscious awareness is self balancing chaos.
The self leveling is of course a function of gravity. Some people see God as a type of gravity. Effecting everything at all times, but quietly, behind the scenes.
When I think that water is H2O, I remember that consciousness is also made up of two things: awareness and self.
Hmm.... Interesting. Not sure yet.
When I consider that water is in all life, I remember that conscious awareness is in all life.
I like it, but it doesn't quite follow all the way down to the microbial level, the largest form of life on Earth.
When I consider that water is fluid and moves like it is alive, I think that spirituality is fluid and moves like it is alive.
I live in Florida, and have spent a lot of time near the ocean. In rare moments I've not thought water is alive, but felt it. It's very subtle, and easily lost by the next train of thought to come crashing in to town, but sometimes, it's there.
When I think of the cycles of evaporation and condensation that change the forms of water, I think of reincarnation.
Oooh, that's nice.
When I think of what a "ghost" must actually be, I think of a water stain--a left-over of something that was, but is no longer.
Ah...
When I think that water feels wet, but H2O is not wet, I remember that conscious awareness feels like emotion, but is it emotional?
I vote no. Conscious awareness is more like the perfect scientist, observing without agenda.
This is not a complete list of the comparisons, but it gives you an idea.
Yes, very good, love it. I'm glad I asked you to elaborate.
I have studied consciousness from the aspects of religion, the paranormal, science, and philosophy; and I find that there is good reason to believe that the properties of water may not be unique to water.
Interesting observation.
It is possible that consciousness shares at least some of these properties--so like Thales--I think that it may all be water, metaphorically speaking.
I don't have a firm opinion here, but I'm open to a theory that the dividing line between life and water is largely a conceptual invention of the human mind. Our minds are VERY dualistic, demanding black/white type answers all the time, and I believe this primal bias warps our understanding of everything.
I think that religions compete like siblings. They are all trying to prove that they are the chosen ones that get to sit in Daddy's lap.
Ha, ha! So true, great analogy!
Are you implying that emotion is not real?
Because my mind is dualistic too, I'm drawing a line between reality, and what we think and feel about reality. I find this distinction useful for observations of our psychology, but obviously it too is a conceptual division, not a real division.
I understand what you are saying, but can't quite agree. We need to use thought to understand what "God" is, but we need to use our emotion and awareness to connect to "God". IMO
I must disclaim I am a full blown thought addict myself, especially on these kind of topics but...

I've come to believe that the attempt to understand God, as expressed in ideology, is the source of most of what can be so wrong about religion.

As I see it, thought is inherently divisive, that's it's nature. As example, the function of a noun is to conceptually divide one part of reality from the rest.

Anything made of thought, all ideologies, will therefore also be inherently divisive. As evidence, there's never been a religion that hasn't competed with other religions, and/or subdivided within itself.

And of course, what I've just said is itself an ideology, a product of thought, so my theory is also divisive.

I'm very wrapped up in this topic right now, but this post is long enough, so more later perhaps.

I'm glad you're here. I can see we may have many fine conversations together!
thedoc
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by thedoc »

Felasco wrote:
I understand what you are saying, but can't quite agree. We need to use thought to understand what "God" is, but we need to use our emotion and awareness to connect to "God". IMO
I must disclaim I am a full blown thought addict myself, especially on these kind of topics but...

I've come to believe that the attempt to understand God, as expressed in ideology, is the source of most of what can be so wrong about religion.

As I see it, thought is inherently divisive, that's it's nature. As example, the function of a noun is to conceptually divide one part of reality from the rest.

Anything made of thought, all ideologies, will therefore also be inherently divisive. As evidence, there's never been a religion that hasn't competed with other religions, and/or subdivided within itself.

And of course, what I've just said is itself an ideology, a product of thought, so my theory is also divisive.

I'm very wrapped up in this topic right now, but this post is long enough, so more later perhaps.

I'm glad you're here. I can see we may have many fine conversations together!

It seems that the difference is between 'knowing about God' and 'experiencing God'. If you have read any of my other posts you may know that I have been much influenced by Joseph Campbell. For years I would be forming an idea about God and religion, and then I would find one of his books and there was the idea clearly stated for me. One of the points he made is that the church and religion have become a place and set of ideas that protect the believer from having a religious experience. Everything that we are to believe has been spelled out in dogma and ritual and there is no mystery in the experience, even the mystery that is allowed is codified. The real mission of the church should be to allow or lead the believer to have a religious experience, that would be to have a direct contact with God, instead the church has insulated the believer from God, and only allows the believer to know something about God. In Buddhism the Zen Master has assumed the proper role, and is there to lead the student to have his own experience of enlightenment. The Master has experienced this, but it is the Master's experience and not the student's. In western religions I do not believe many of the pastors have actually had a religious experience, but feel that this is the path in life they should take because they have been told it is a good thing to do. In seminary they are taught about God and the Bible but are not lead, intentionally, to have the experience. I have also learned that in seminary they are taught that the Bible is Christian Mythology, but in the pulpit they preach as if it were historical fact. This is in response to what most of the congregation believes, and the pastors are not really preaching God, but are preaching about God.

As far as having a religious experience I believe that each person will have what they need or want. Some will need a full blown, knock down dragout experience, struck senseless with a voice booming out of a cloud. Some are content to know the truth without the drama. Many are content to be a "Christian" without any questions. Many have decided that God is not for them, and in the words of Anne Graham Lotz "God is a Gentleman" and will leave you alone if that is what you want.
Gee
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Location: Michigan, US

Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Gee »

Felasco and Thedoc;

I have enjoyed and been studying both of your responses, but am tired so I will respond tomorrow.

Thank you for your interest,

Gee
Gee
Posts: 373
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:22 am
Location: Michigan, US

Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Gee »

Felasco wrote:Is it helpful to draw a line between experience and knowledge?
As example, we can experience the sun on our face, without having any idea what the sun is. Maybe it's a star, or a god, or magic, or an alien being, or a force, or something beyond our understanding, but the sun on our face still feels good.
Rather than "drawing a line between experience and knowledge", I want to define experience and knowledge. If we do not define each, then we have a tendency to blend them, and I think that this is how ideology starts. We are rational beings that communicate our experiences to other rational beings, and we do this with thought and language. But how does one truly communicate an experience? It is difficult.

This is why the water metaphor is so important to me. I tried to find something that my thoughts could embrace that would reflect the movement and properties of conscious awareness, but not inflict an ideology or symbolism that would corrupt what I was learning. Water seems to work better than anything else that I have tried, and it is neutral with regard to science, philosophy, and religion.

Your example of the experience of sun on our faces is a good one, and although I prefer to use water, I think that I can work with light in the following example to show that experience alone is not knowledge. We are going to use the example of your experience, but to be fair, we are also going to posit that light, like consciousness, is invisible. So in this scenario light, the sun, and shadow can not be seen--all is a misty gray--light can only be felt.

So you have felt this warmth upon your face and it feels good. At this point, I think we can rightly assume that you will want this experience again. But how can you make it happen if you do not know what caused it? (light is invisible) So you talk to your friends. One friend says that his face is warmed when he is angry, but you state that you were not angry. Another friend states that his face warms when he is embarrassed, but you were not embarrassed. But these are emotions, so does emotion cause it? You try to summon the emotion that you felt, but are not successful in duplicating the experience. Eventually you find a stranger and tell your story, but this man becomes agitated and shouts, "No. It is a trick. It is evil. Stay away from the warmth." You ask why, and he explains: "First the warmth feels good right down to your bones, but then it becomes stronger, and makes your skin dry and makes you sweat. Then you hear the crackling and smell smoke and the warmth attacks you. It tries to eat you and the pain is fierce. It will consume you and everything that you love. Stay away from the warmth as it is EVIL. It is better to be cold."

Well this is not good news, and you struggle with your thoughts. It is good or evil? Does it come from us or to us? How can we know? About this time, you meet a wise man, and tell him your story. He states that he knows of this warmth, and that his people have studied it for hundreds of years. He explains that it does indeed come from outside of us, and that it only comes during the waking times. If you feel warmth during the sleeping times, it is the evil one that they call the Devil. This Devil can come during the waking times also, but you can know it by smelling for smoke. This is helpful. Then he goes on to explain that this good warmth is strongest during the growing seasons and weakest during the dieing seasons. They call this warmth the God of Warmth, and he warns that this God, although good, can also burn your flesh and make it blister, so you must be respectful and expose yourself to it for only short periods of time. Then he goes on to explain their rituals, practices, and cycles of life that his people have discovered--and we have the makings of an ideology--religion. But you still do not know what light is and have no knowledge of the sun.

The above example is far from perfect, and employs much imagination, but if you are charitable in reading it, I think that you can see my point that there are problems that arise when we take experience to be knowledge. Of course, light is not a very good metaphor for consciousness, if for no other reason than it has the good manners to move in a straight line--making it much more understandable, even if it were invisible.
Felasco wrote:The word "car" is clearly part of the real world, but it is a symbol, not a car.
Imho, psychologically, the difference between symbols and what they point to is a crucial issue.
I agree. Thought is not part of reality, it is more a representation of reality. But I think that emotion and awareness may well be part of reality.
Felasco wrote:For what it's worth, the argument (that the natural world is the body of God) goes something like this. In the natural world, everything is connected to everything else. The divisions implied by language are useful inventions of the human mind, not a characteristic of reality itself. Thus, if "all is one", God would be a good name for that One.
That sounds good, but I have a problem with it. When people say, "The natural world." they often are already talking about a division. Is there a natural world and an unnatural world? A reality and a non-reality? If "God would be a good name for that One", then obviously God is reality, but then we start considering Plato's reality and we have another division. I am not very dualistic in my thinking and find it fascinating that although I live in the New World, America, I have visited the Old World, Europe, and never once did I have to fly into outer space. One might conclude that they are the same world.
Felasco wrote:
When I see that water is self leveling, I remember that conscious awareness is self balancing chaos.
The self leveling is of course a function of gravity.

Can you prove or disprove that gravity has an effect on conscious awareness? I think that it is premature to assume either, but I do suspect that temperature effects conscious awareness.
Felasco wrote:
When I think that water is H2O, I remember that consciousness is also made up of two things: awareness and self.
Hmm.... Interesting. Not sure yet.
I find it interesting that people assume that conscious awareness is "pure" and has only a single aspect. Why is that? We know that self and awareness are not distributed evenly among life forms. We know that thought, instinct, awareness, and emotion work very differently in our own minds, but all are part of our consciousness. I think that this idea of a "single aspect" "pure" consciousness is more from religion than from science. Since I don't believe in magic, it seems very likely that consciousness is made up of components.
Felasco wrote:
When I consider that water is in all life, I remember that conscious awareness is in all life.
I like it, but it doesn't quite follow all the way down to the microbial level, the largest form of life on Earth.
Are saying that microbes don't need water, or that they are not consciously aware?
Felasco wrote:
When I consider that water is fluid and moves like it is alive, I think that spirituality is fluid and moves like it is alive.
I live in Florida, and have spent a lot of time near the ocean. In rare moments I've not thought water is alive, but felt it. It's very subtle, and easily lost by the next train of thought to come crashing in to town, but sometimes, it's there.
Interesting.
Felasco wrote:
It is possible that consciousness shares at least some of these properties--so like Thales--I think that it may all be water, metaphorically speaking.
I don't have a firm opinion here, but I'm open to a theory that the dividing line between life and water is largely a conceptual invention of the human mind. Our minds are VERY dualistic, demanding black/white type answers all the time, and I believe this primal bias warps our understanding of everything.
My mind is not very dualistic at all, and I have recently been told that I am a "systems" thinker, which generally means that I see the way that things interrelate, better than I see the separate entities. Or, I can't see the trees for the forest--a little backward from most people. I do see a strong connection between water and consciousness, but have not figured out what it is. They share properties--that is true. But sometimes it seems that water works as a conductor for conscious awareness, and other times it seems to be almost an insulator against conscious awareness. It is confusing.
Felasco wrote:I've come to believe that the attempt to understand God, as expressed in ideology, is the source of most of what can be so wrong about religion.
Agreed. This is why I think that knowledge of the subject is important.
Felasco wrote:As I see it, thought is inherently divisive, that's it's nature. As example, the function of a noun is to conceptually divide one part of reality from the rest.
This is true, but unavoidable. I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing because when we define something, call it a noun, we define what it is, but we also define what it isn't. I don't think that people take advantage of this side of the issue often enough. Regarding "God"; we all know that "God" is infinite awareness, but at the same time we wonder what "God" thinks. Why would "God" think? Thinking is a process where we compare, calculate, learn, and process information in order to discover some new information--but "God" already knows everything, so why would He think? He doesn't. If He is truly infinite awareness, then He doesn't think. If He thinks, then He is not infinitely aware. We can't have it both ways. If this information was distributed into the beliefs of religions, I expect that a lot of problems could be resolved between them. But people will insist on worrying about what "God" thinks of them and try to prove themselves worthy.

I very much enjoy reading your thoughts and questions. You make me think and explain my own thinking so that it can be shared. My responses may occasionally be slow, but please know that I have been considering your words.

Gee
chaz wyman
Posts: 5305
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by chaz wyman »

Gee wrote:
Felasco wrote:Is it helpful to draw a line between experience and knowledge?
As example, we can experience the sun on our face, without having any idea what the sun is. Maybe it's a star, or a god, or magic, or an alien being, or a force, or something beyond our understanding, but the sun on our face still feels good.
Rather than "drawing a line between experience and knowledge", I want to define experience and knowledge. If we do not define each, then we have a tendency to blend them, and I think that this is how ideology starts. We are rational beings that communicate our experiences to other rational beings, and we do this with thought and language. But how does one truly communicate an experience? It is difficult.

This is why the water metaphor is so important to me. I tried to find something that my thoughts could embrace that would reflect the movement and properties of conscious awareness, but not inflict an ideology or symbolism that would corrupt what I was learning. Water seems to work better than anything else that I have tried, and it is neutral with regard to science, philosophy, and religion.

Your example of the experience of sun on our faces is a good one, and although I prefer to use water, I think that I can work with light in the following example to show that experience alone is not knowledge. We are going to use the example of your experience, but to be fair, we are also going to posit that light, like consciousness, is invisible. So in this scenario light, the sun, and shadow can not be seen--all is a misty gray--light can only be felt.

So you have felt this warmth upon your face and it feels good. At this point, I think we can rightly assume that you will want this experience again. But how can you make it happen if you do not know what caused it? (light is invisible) So you talk to your friends. One friend says that his face is warmed when he is angry, but you state that you were not angry. Another friend states that his face warms when he is embarrassed, but you were not embarrassed. But these are emotions, so does emotion cause it? You try to summon the emotion that you felt, but are not successful in duplicating the experience. Eventually you find a stranger and tell your story, but this man becomes agitated and shouts, "No. It is a trick. It is evil. Stay away from the warmth." You ask why, and he explains: "First the warmth feels good right down to your bones, but then it becomes stronger, and makes your skin dry and makes you sweat. Then you hear the crackling and smell smoke and the warmth attacks you. It tries to eat you and the pain is fierce. It will consume you and everything that you love. Stay away from the warmth as it is EVIL. It is better to be cold."

Well this is not good news, and you struggle with your thoughts. It is good or evil? Does it come from us or to us? How can we know? About this time, you meet a wise man, and tell him your story. He states that he knows of this warmth, and that his people have studied it for hundreds of years. He explains that it does indeed come from outside of us, and that it only comes during the waking times. If you feel warmth during the sleeping times, it is the evil one that they call the Devil. This Devil can come during the waking times also, but you can know it by smelling for smoke. This is helpful. Then he goes on to explain that this good warmth is strongest during the growing seasons and weakest during the dieing seasons. They call this warmth the God of Warmth, and he warns that this God, although good, can also burn your flesh and make it blister, so you must be respectful and expose yourself to it for only short periods of time. Then he goes on to explain their rituals, practices, and cycles of life that his people have discovered--and we have the makings of an ideology--religion. But you still do not know what light is and have no knowledge of the sun.

The above example is far from perfect, and employs much imagination, but if you are charitable in reading it, I think that you can see my point that there are problems that arise when we take experience to be knowledge. Of course, light is not a very good metaphor for consciousness, if for no other reason than it has the good manners to move in a straight line--making it much more understandable, even if it were invisible.
Felasco wrote:The word "car" is clearly part of the real world, but it is a symbol, not a car.
Imho, psychologically, the difference between symbols and what they point to is a crucial issue.
I agree. Thought is not part of reality, it is more a representation of reality. But I think that emotion and awareness may well be part of reality.
Felasco wrote:For what it's worth, the argument (that the natural world is the body of God) goes something like this. In the natural world, everything is connected to everything else. The divisions implied by language are useful inventions of the human mind, not a characteristic of reality itself. Thus, if "all is one", God would be a good name for that One.
That sounds good, but I have a problem with it. When people say, "The natural world." they often are already talking about a division. Is there a natural world and an unnatural world? A reality and a non-reality? If "God would be a good name for that One", then obviously God is reality, but then we start considering Plato's reality and we have another division. I am not very dualistic in my thinking and find it fascinating that although I live in the New World, America, I have visited the Old World, Europe, and never once did I have to fly into outer space. One might conclude that they are the same world.
Felasco wrote:
When I see that water is self leveling, I remember that conscious awareness is self balancing chaos.
The self leveling is of course a function of gravity.

Can you prove or disprove that gravity has an effect on conscious awareness? I think that it is premature to assume either, but I do suspect that temperature effects conscious awareness.
Felasco wrote:
When I think that water is H2O, I remember that consciousness is also made up of two things: awareness and self.
Hmm.... Interesting. Not sure yet.
I find it interesting that people assume that conscious awareness is "pure" and has only a single aspect. Why is that? We know that self and awareness are not distributed evenly among life forms. We know that thought, instinct, awareness, and emotion work very differently in our own minds, but all are part of our consciousness. I think that this idea of a "single aspect" "pure" consciousness is more from religion than from science. Since I don't believe in magic, it seems very likely that consciousness is made up of components.
Felasco wrote:
When I consider that water is in all life, I remember that conscious awareness is in all life.
I like it, but it doesn't quite follow all the way down to the microbial level, the largest form of life on Earth.
Are saying that microbes don't need water, or that they are not consciously aware?
Felasco wrote:
When I consider that water is fluid and moves like it is alive, I think that spirituality is fluid and moves like it is alive.
I live in Florida, and have spent a lot of time near the ocean. In rare moments I've not thought water is alive, but felt it. It's very subtle, and easily lost by the next train of thought to come crashing in to town, but sometimes, it's there.
Interesting.
Felasco wrote:
It is possible that consciousness shares at least some of these properties--so like Thales--I think that it may all be water, metaphorically speaking.
I don't have a firm opinion here, but I'm open to a theory that the dividing line between life and water is largely a conceptual invention of the human mind. Our minds are VERY dualistic, demanding black/white type answers all the time, and I believe this primal bias warps our understanding of everything.
My mind is not very dualistic at all, and I have recently been told that I am a "systems" thinker, which generally means that I see the way that things interrelate, better than I see the separate entities. Or, I can't see the trees for the forest--a little backward from most people. I do see a strong connection between water and consciousness, but have not figured out what it is. They share properties--that is true. But sometimes it seems that water works as a conductor for conscious awareness, and other times it seems to be almost an insulator against conscious awareness. It is confusing.
Felasco wrote:I've come to believe that the attempt to understand God, as expressed in ideology, is the source of most of what can be so wrong about religion.
Agreed. This is why I think that knowledge of the subject is important.
Felasco wrote:As I see it, thought is inherently divisive, that's it's nature. As example, the function of a noun is to conceptually divide one part of reality from the rest.
This is true, but unavoidable. I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing because when we define something, call it a noun, we define what it is, but we also define what it isn't. I don't think that people take advantage of this side of the issue often enough. Regarding "God"; we all know that "God" is infinite awareness, but at the same time we wonder what "God" thinks. Why would "God" think? Thinking is a process where we compare, calculate, learn, and process information in order to discover some new information--but "God" already knows everything, so why would He think? He doesn't. If He is truly infinite awareness, then He doesn't think. If He thinks, then He is not infinitely aware. We can't have it both ways. If this information was distributed into the beliefs of religions, I expect that a lot of problems could be resolved between them. But people will insist on worrying about what "God" thinks of them and try to prove themselves worthy.

I very much enjoy reading your thoughts and questions. You make me think and explain my own thinking so that it can be shared. My responses may occasionally be slow, but please know that I have been considering your words.

Gee
I do not think that I have ever read something more inflicted with symbolism and ideology.
Quite ironic really.
windy36
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by windy36 »

Some people probably believe in God because they had good experiences in life, so they feel God exists. The people who don't believe in God probably had bad experiences in life. And some of the people who had bad experiences in life do believe in God because they are desperate not because they had good experiences in life. So those people who are desperate go back and forth with believing and not believing. It is all psychological.
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Bill Wiltrack
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Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by Bill Wiltrack »

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chaz wyman
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Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:31 pm

Re: Why do some of us believe in God and others do not

Post by chaz wyman »

windy36 wrote:Some people probably believe in God because they had good experiences in life, so they feel God exists. The people who don't believe in God probably had bad experiences in life. And some of the people who had bad experiences in life do believe in God because they are desperate not because they had good experiences in life. So those people who are desperate go back and forth with believing and not believing. It is all psychological.
You are contradicting yourself saying that people who have a bad time believe and don't believe for that reason.

Do you not think it might have more to do with accident of birth, tradition and more importantly, reason?
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