Rational Arguments for God?

Somehow I don't think you will get much of an argument against that here. Who was it who said "I can't believe in a god who requires me to worship him"? I can't believe in that kind of god either.
I'll argue against it. :)

It comes off almost as juvenile to paint the broad term "worship" as a negative.

While I do not have a coherent picture of God nor am I religious, I really have no difficulty envisioning a "God" that I would worship in my own way. I agree with the anthropomorphic objection as well. To the degree that I imagine a God, I do not imagine an Old Man in the Sky. I also could quite easily see a meta view with in which "God" has created us as independent beings with free will.

The analogy of a child being taught a lesson by his/her parents comes to mind. The child's views on the parent's method can often times be negative. They see the parents as demanding compliance, limiting freedom, not "understanding", etc. Yet, through the course of time, the child often comes to see that the parents were purely benevolent in their efforts. Efforts that were in the child's ultimate best interests and full of love and learning.

How is a strict rebellion against the notion of worship truly different? Sure, I get the unpleasantness of the dogmatic approach to worship put forth by many of the major religions. But if you look beyond that a bit, again, would it be so difficult to see God as a teacher? A loving one at that?
 
How is a strict rebellion against the notion of worship truly different? Sure, I get the unpleasantness of the dogmatic approach to worship put forth by many of the major religions. But if you look beyond that a bit, again, would it be so difficult to see God as a teacher? A loving one at that?
Yes, that would be a stretch. Perhaps because I still see that view as anthropomorphic. Also, I'm guessing you imagine God to be some creator personality who stands apart from his creation and intervenes in whatever loving way "he" sees fit. What purpose does worship serve? Do you imagine God has an ego? That he appreciates adulation, respect and absolute fidelity? If I believed God to be a man in the sky, I might ascribe all those human traits to him. But I don't. As I said, I see that as a simplistic view. A creator God responsible for the whole universe as well as any dimensions beyond but is so limited as to be subject to human needs and - as Typoz points out - requires worship? I really don't think so.

I don't think of God as separate from me in any way because I am God stuff. Or mind stuff - seeing as I think that mind is the only stuff that exists therefore we all exist in the mind of God. Therefore I am not "his" subject because don't exist apart. Yes, I have the illusion of independence because that is necessary as I explained earlier in this thread.

As for the teacher, we have had many. Perhaps they are advanced beings with a message and lessons which we have interpreted in our limited human manner. I have no problem with the religious following the teachings of Jesus or Krishna or the Buddha. I do have many problems with the way those teachings have been interpreted and manipulated over the centuries, Chotki and his claim to authority and truth not withstanding.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

Seems like there's a Demiurge concept of God - the petty, jealous tyrant - which the Gnostics criticized (and in some cases seemed to despise) and the concept of God as a kind of Benevolence.

It does seem hard to square the Benevolence with Omnipotence though...
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

With regard to the OP, some possibly worthwhile IEP links:

Divine Simplicity

Divine simplicity is central to the classical Western concept of God. Simplicity denies any physical or metaphysical composition in the divine being. This means God is the divine nature itself and has no accidents (properties that are not necessary) accruing to his nature. There are no real divisions or distinctions in this nature. Thus, the entirety of God is whatever is attributed to him. Divine simplicity is the hallmark of God’s utter transcendence of all else, ensuring the divine nature to be beyond the reach of ordinary categories and distinctions, or at least their ordinary application. Simplicity in this way confers a unique ontological status that many philosophers find highly peculiar.
http://www.iep.utm.edu/aq-ph-th/#SH2a
The Greek emphasis on a simple first principle figures prominently in the revival of classical Hellenistic philosophy at the close of the ancient world. Christianity is in its infancy when the Jewish theologian Philo of Alexandria (c. 30 B.C.E.– 50 C.E.) observes that it is already commonly accepted to think of God as Being itself and utterly simple. Philo is drawing on philosophical accounts of a supreme unity in describing God as uncomposite and eternal. He identifies this simple first being of the philosophers with the personal God of the Hebrew Scriptures who consciously creates things modeled after the divine ideas. Neoplatonist philosophers Plotinus (205–70) and later Proclus (410–85) will also posit a simple first principle. Plotinus’s Enneads speak of a One that exceeds all of the categories applicable to other things. Consequently it is unknowable and inexpressible (1962, V.3.13, VI.9.3). Plotinus voices an argument for the One’s simplicity that will emerge as a standard line of argument in later thinkers:

Even in calling it The First we mean no more than to express that it is the most absolutely simplex: it is Self-Sufficing only in the sense that it is not of that compound nature which would make it dependent upon any constituent [emphasis added]; it is the Self-Contained because everything contained in something alien must also exist by that alien. (1962, II.9.1)


For the One to have any metaphysical components is for them to account for the existence and character of the composite. Plotinus is working from the idea of a being that is utterly self-explanatory and thus is uncaused. A similar view of the first cause as lacking any internal or external causes will motivate Scholastic accounts of simplicity. Proclus’s Elements of Theology opens its analysis of the first principle by emphasizing its simplicity. (The work actually defends polytheism against the emerging Christianity.) This prioritizing of simplicity in the Elements is imitated in the anonymous Book of Causes and Dionysius’s On the Divine Names, two works that circulate to great effect in the medieval schools.

A Sample Demonstration: The Argument from Efficient Causality


An illustration may help clarify the sort of argument Aquinas wishes to present. The proper growth of, say, plant life depends on the presence of sunlight and water. The presence of sunlight and water depends on ideal atmospheric activities. And those atmospheric activities are themselves governed by more fundamental causes, and so forth. In this example, the events described proceed not sequentially, but concurrently. Even so, they constitute an arrangement in which each event depends for its occurrence on causally prior events or phenomena. According to Copleston, illustrations of this sort capture the kind of causal ordering that interests Aquinas. For “when Aquinas talks about an ‘order’ of efficient causes he is not talking of a series stretching back into the past, but of a hierarchy of causes, in which a subordinate member is here and now dependent on the causal activity of a higher member” (Copleston, 1955: 122). Thus we might explain the sort of ordering that interests Aquinas as a metaphysical (as opposed to a temporal) ordering of causes. And it is this sort of order that requires a first member, that is, “a cause which does not depend on the causal activity of a higher cause” (Ibid., 123). For, as we have already seen, the absence of a first cause would imply the absence of subsequent causes and effects. Unless we invoke a cause that itself transcends the ordering of dependent causes, we would find it difficult to account for the causal activities we presently observe. Aquinas therefore states there must be “a first efficient, and completely non-dependent cause,” whereby “the word ‘first’ does not mean first in the temporal order but supreme or first in the ontological order”

Second, it may appear that Aquinas is unjustified in describing the first efficient cause as God, as least if by “God” one has in mind a person possessing the characteristics Christian theologians and philosophers attribute to him (for example, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, love, goodness, and so forth.). Yet Aquinas does not attempt to show through the previous argument that the demonstrated cause has any of the qualities traditionally predicated of the divine essence. He says: “When the existence of a cause is demonstrated from an effect, this effect takes the place of the definition of the cause in proof of the cause's existence” (ST Ia 2.2 ad 2). In other words, the term God—at least as it appears in ST Ia 2.2—refers only to that which produces the observed effect. In the case of the second way, God is synonymous with the first efficient cause; it does not denote anything of theological substance. We might think of the term “God” as a purely nominal concept Aquinas intends to investigate further (Te Velde, 2006: 44; Wippel, 2006: 46). For the study of what God is must be subsequent to demonstrating that he is. A complete account of the divine nature requires a more extensive examination, which he undertakes in the subsequent articles of ST.
 
Seems like there's a Demiurge concept of God - the petty, jealous tyrant - which the Gnostics criticized (and in some cases seemed to despise) and the concept of God as a kind of Benevolence.

It does seem hard to square the Benevolence with Omnipotence though...
Seems to make sense to me that however - and for whatever reason - we, as humans, were created, we must surely have the freedom to make our mistakes and learn from them. If we are to take reincarnation seriously (and I do), then surely the point of all those lifetimes is to experience all manner of challenges, successes, tragedies and joys in order to learn from them? Again that is the illusion of independence that I keep mentioning - the experiences my lifetimes feed back into the greater gestalt of consciousness. I'm running out of terminology here, Sciborg, and wishing I had your command of philosophical jargon.
 

Brian_the_bard

Lost Pilgrim
Member
Who was it who said "I can't believe in a god who requires me to worship him"? I can't believe in that kind of god either.
Interestingly, when Jesus was asked what the most important commandments were, he didn't use the word "worship" but replied "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength" and "Love your neighbour as yourself" and declared that the whole of the Law and the prophets hangs upon these two commandments. That's not so bad is it? It would be interesting to learn a little ancient Hebrew to have a better understanding of the OT and what "worship" actually implied in Israel and Judea at the time of Moses.
 
Seems to make sense to me that however - and for whatever reason - we, as humans, were created, we must surely have the freedom to make our mistakes and learn from them. If we are to take reincarnation seriously (and I do), then surely the point of all those lifetimes is to experience all manner of challenges, successes, tragedies and joys in order to learn from them? Again that is the illusion of independence that I keep mentioning - the experiences my lifetimes feed back into the greater gestalt of consciousness. I'm running out of terminology here, Sciborg, and wishing I had your command of philosophical jargon.

This whole notion of reincarnation as evolution through multiple lifetimes is a particularly Western New Age take on reincarnation, gleaned through past life regression, channeling, mediumship etc. It is in stark contrast with Eastern religions, specifically Buddhism and Hinduism, which see it in a wholly negative light, most notably their view on suffering. Entering moksha or nirvana requires ceasing to identify with the things of this world, cultivating a strict ethical code and conduct. It is more a matter of getting rid of than of acquiring.
 
This whole notion of reincarnation as evolution through multiple lifetimes is a particularly Western New Age take on reincarnation, gleaned through past life regression, channeling, mediumship etc. It is in stark contrast with Eastern religions, specifically Buddhism and Hinduism, which see it in a wholly negative light, most notably their view on suffering. Entering moksha or nirvana requires ceasing to identify with the things of this world, cultivating a strict ethical code and conduct. It is more a matter of getting rid of than of acquiring.
I am sorry but this is incorrect.

The view of evolution through life times is not New Age. It can be found in Rumi:
“I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was human,
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die human,
To soar with angels blessed above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
As a human, I will die once more,
Reborn, I will with the angels soar.
And when I let my angel body go,
I shall be more than mortal mind can know.”

Similar views on reincarnation can be found in Kabbalistic Judaism.

Buddhism and Hinduism are major world religions as such they contain many sects and perspectives. You can find orthodox dogma on liberation from cyclic existence, but you can find other views as well.

In some Buddhist views there is the progression through multiple lifetimes to Buddha-hood.

Milarepa says samsara and nirvana are two sides of the same coin.

Dzogchen has no place for the wholly negative nor for evolution for that matter.
 
I am sorry but this is incorrect.

The view of evolution through life times is not New Age. It can be found in Rumi:
“I died as mineral and became a plant,
I died as plant and rose to animal,
I died as animal and I was human,
Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?
Yet once more I shall die human,
To soar with angels blessed above.
And when I sacrifice my angel soul
I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
As a human, I will die once more,
Reborn, I will with the angels soar.
And when I let my angel body go,
I shall be more than mortal mind can know.”

Similar views on reincarnation can be found in Kabbalistic Judaism.

Buddhism and Hinduism are major world religions as such they contain many sects and perspectives. You can find orthodox dogma on liberation from cyclic existence, but you can find other views as well.

In some Buddhist views there is the progression through multiple lifetimes to Buddha-hood.

Milarepa says samsara and nirvana are two sides of the same coin.

Dzogchen has no place for the wholly negative nor for evolution for that matter.

I was reffering more specifically to the idea of Earth being a school for soul evolution, where the soul needs to learn lessons in order to advance and become enlightened. Western New Age philosophy is more aligned towards the Atman concept of Hinduism and consider illumination as a move towards Wholeness. Buddhists have the three concepts of no-self, impermanence and emptiness. Here, there is nothing to gather or acquire, just to realize the Buddha mind within. But I agree with you in general, to be capable of such an extraordinary feat, in the light of reincarnation, several lifetimes of dedicated spiritual practice would be necessary.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

A criticism of God as Pure Actuality from the Beginning Theistic Sciences blog:

If someone told you that being G was 'pure actuality', then you would think that it would be devoid of potentiality, capacity, power, and (hence) causal powers.

However, Feser claims about God that "it is precisely because He is pure actuality that He is the source of all causal (or actualizing) power." This is to repeat Aquinas' argument.

But I do not understand the inference here. There must be much more to God than 'pure actuality'. That does not seem to be a good characterization of his essence. What is missing? Can it be given a philosophical characterization (rather than by a theological accretion of attributes)?

I still have a problem, however, with the meaning of 'pure' in 'pure actuality'. (And how it is thereby supposed to refer to something essential about God.)

Normally, a 'pure A' means 'devoid of not-A'. Purely red means devoid of not red. Purely intellectual means devoid of not intellectual.

However, here, 'pure actuality' refers to something with no potentiality for changing itself, but still lots of power for changing other things. This does not seem to be a good sense of words. I am surprised that Aquinas uses it!

I agree that powers (whatever they may be) must be grounded in what exists. And that they cannot be grounded in 'pure potentiality'. From many examples, that is clearly ridiculous. I also agree that 'actuality' is practically synonymous what 'what exists'.

But then, how does the term 'pure actuality' get us close to identifying God? A god who is devoid of some potentialities (those for himself), but who is positively enthusiastic about other potentialities (those for others). Do you see the problem?

By 'potentiality' I refer to any capacity or power in onself to make a change, whether in the agent, or in another (patient).

I agree that god does not change himself. But, if he is defined as 'pure act' after Aquinas, is it possible for him to have in himself any powers to change others?
  • It cannot be because 'actual' means 'exist', since ordinary existing things are not sources of powers.
  • It cannot be since god = pure actuality and god is the source, since i am asking an ontological question not a theological one.
  • It cannot be because every coming-to-be requires an actual thing to do that, because that has nothing to do with where the powers originate.
  • It cannot be because the original actual being can have no potentiality, since that directly blocks answering the question.
I agree that a purely actual being will be devoid of all passive potencies. The question is, is it not, for the same reason, devoid of all active potencies as well?

I think of myself as a classic theist. I just think that Aquinas at various points was let done by the poor development of Aristotle's ontology (physics and metaphysics).

It you look at http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1025.htm for example, at the first section discussing whether there is power in god (my subject above!), all the crucial steps are based on ideas of 'perfection' and 'fittingly', etc. Aquinas does not have the philosophical machinery to give a robust answer, so he wings it, in order to get to the right answer. (Most of his final answers are quite good: it is the logic in the middle that is poor).

A 'normal ontology' need not badly constrain God, if the ideas in it came from God in the first place. Since much religion is to get us to listen to God, we should not be afraid to use the ideas we get. (At least, then, they would be consistent)

Now I propose a resolution of this problem, by means of

Actual powers:

How about this resolution of problem?
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

Wikipedia Entry touching on the Active Intellect

The active intellect (Latin: intellectus agens; also translated as agent intellect, active intelligence, active reason, or productive intellect) is a concept in classical and medieval philosophy. The term refers to the formal (morphe) aspect of the intellect (nous), in accordance with the theory of hylomorphism.

The nature of the active intellect was the subject of intense discussion in medieval philosophy, as various Muslim, Jewish and Christian thinkers sought to reconcile their commitment to Aristotle's account of the body and soul to their own theological commitments. At stake in particular was in what way Aristotle's account of an incorporeal soul might contribute to understanding of the nature of eternal life.
I'll have more to say, ordered Burnyeat's Aristotle's Divine Intellect...
 
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