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Thread: The God Concept

  1. #1
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    The God Concept

    I'd like to discuss how folks conveive of God. When I was a Christian, I had a rather vague concept of God. My brother in law, a professor of the Philosophy of Science and Religion, would often challenge me to articulate what I meant by God. At the time, I complained that God could not be "put in a box" of human reason, and that I had a direct intuitive sense of the reality of God. But that "direct intuition" has since faded, and the philosophical problems of defining what we mean by the word "God" have risen to prominence.

    There are many different aspects to why I reject the theism of traditional Christianity. For example, the strange philosophical assertion that God is Absolutely Omniscient seems to imply that God has no freedom whatsoever because his future was predetermined by his knowledge. He never had any opportunity to make any "choices." But this contradicts the Biblical teaching that God "chose us." And it conradicts the teaching that God is like a "person" who can make choices. So it seems to me that the Biblical concpet of God is logically incoherent.

    Now in response, a wise person would note that logic can never completely capture any reality because it is based on words, and words are only approximations to reality. For the math geeks, a good example is the difference between rational and irrational numbers. A rational number can be expressed as the ratio of two whole numbers, like 2/3 or 17/32 or whatever. But are all real numbers rational? Nope! Consider the square root of 2. It is irrational and so cannot be expressed as the ratio of two integers. In this analogy, words are like rational numbers, and most of reality is like real numbers that can only be approximated by ratios.

    Well, I've gone into a little more detail than needed for this introductory post, but I hope folks get the idea of what I'm looking for. I want to know if traditional Christianity presents a picture of God sufficiently coherent for a rational person to even know what he's supposed to believe in.

    Of course, no need to get lost in philosophy - I am hoping folks will try to express whatever it is that they really think and believe about the God they think they believe in.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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    Come on folks! Doesn't anyone have any idea about how to conceive of God?

    Everyone talks about God doing this and God doing that ... but what are you really thinking when you say "God?" Abstract concepts like "Creator" don't mean anything because we can't think of God before He created space and time. There's no image. So what does the word refer to?

    I'd really like to know. I'm guessing most folks think of a "bright light" with an "awesome personality" or something like that. Others focus entirely on Jesus because he was a human we could relate to. But in as much as he was human, he was not God. I want to know what people imagine when they say the "God" word. What images come to mind? How would you describe God to someone like me who can't imagine God?
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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  3. #3
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    Well Richard, I missed this thread some how But would say that God the Almighty has me lacking the words to define him. Since he is Omniscient and Omnipresent and at the same time it seems that he at times don't know the future or else seems not to chose to know. As I remember of Abraham asking God would he save the city if preadverture that there where fifty righteous there. It seems in that way of dealing God didn't know.

    That said, I agree that God is to ever man what he thinks of him. Whether a good thing happens or an evil thing happens it all get put of God. So I would say our concepts of God is in error. Then that goes back to your question of our concept of God. Well taken that scripture said he is Spirit. Hmmm
    Beck

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beck View Post
    Well Richard, I missed this thread some how But would say that God the Almighty has me lacking the words to define him. Since he is Omniscient and Omnipresent and at the same time it seems that he at times don't know the future or else seems not to chose to know. As I remember of Abraham asking God would he save the city if preadverture that there where fifty righteous there. It seems in that way of dealing God didn't know.

    That said, I agree that God is to ever man what he thinks of him. Whether a good thing happens or an evil thing happens it all get put of God. So I would say our concepts of God is in error. Then that goes back to your question of our concept of God. Well taken that scripture said he is Spirit. Hmmm
    Hey there Beck,

    My question was not so much "How do you define God?" as "How do you think of God when you use that word in a sentence?" The words "omiscient and omipresent" flow from your keyboard as if they helped somehow, but they do not. Have you considered the impications of "omniscience?" If God has always known everything, then he never had an opportunity to make a choice about anything. He didn't "choose" you or me or anyone. He didn't choose to do anything despite the testimony of the Bible to the contrary because he always knew what he would do. So what determined what he is? He had no choice in anything! A God with absolutely omniscience has no freedom at all! He is like an inaminate rock - which ironically happens to be one of the favorite Biblical metaphors for God.

    This exposes the fundamentaly inconsistency of the Christian concept of God. It is based on the anthropomorphic OT vision of Yahweh where he is neither omniscient nor omnipresent. He walked in the Garden with Adam, and didn't know where Adam was when he hid himself. He had to test Abraham before he could know if he would obey and he had to "come down" to see what was happening at the Tower of Babel. The God of the OT is presented as neither omniscient nor omnipresent in many circumstances.

    This is why I started this thread. If folks take 30 seconds to think about their concept of the "God of Christianity" they immediately recognize that there conceptions don't make any sense - and I'm trying to make sense of Christianity and the "God concept."

    So the real question is not if you can "define" God so much as "can you make sense of what you are saying when you speak of God?" The problem is that the Christiain concept of God is a mix between an archaic anthropomorphic concept combined with exceedinlgy abstract philosophical concepts like "omniscient, omnipotent, eternal, etc."

    Now I readily admit that there are some funamental aspects of reality that defy definition. For example, "consciousness" seems to be a primitive concept that can not be defined in terms of anything else. But everyone experiences it directly so there's no question of it's reality. We can't say that about the God concept. And if it can neither be defined nor experienced, how do we know anything about it?

    Obviously, the "God concept" is based primarily on ideas we have inherited from our ancestors. We need to think about it to see if we can make any sense of it at all. This is why I talked about the "vague" conception that most - if not all - believers have when they think of God. He fills a slot in their mind defined primarily by the "king/parent" role amplified infinitely. So then it begins to look like a simple psychological projection of a parent figure to molify and/or rule over fearful and ignorant people.

    I can see why folks don't want to touch this topic. If you look too closely at the God concept, it seems to quickly evaporate.

    But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there is a viable God concept that someone will share in this thread.

    Great chatting!

    Richard
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Come on folks! Doesn't anyone have any idea about how to conceive of God?

    Everyone talks about God doing this and God doing that ... but what are you really thinking when you say "God?" Abstract concepts like "Creator" don't mean anything because we can't think of God before He created space and time. There's no image. So what does the word refer to?

    I'd really like to know. I'm guessing most folks think of a "bright light" with an "awesome personality" or something like that. Others focus entirely on Jesus because he was a human we could relate to. But in as much as he was human, he was not God. I want to know what people imagine when they say the "God" word. What images come to mind? How would you describe God to someone like me who can't imagine God?
    God is Unmanifest and manifests in stages or levels of existence.

    We cannot understand God as the Unmanifest but he reflects Himself into and interpenetrates this/His creation which is/are these levels of manifestation.
    The Qabala is the study of the tree of life glyph which is an attempt to sort this out.
    But another way of looking at it might be an onion. It is formed of layers, yet juice permeates it and the smell not only permeates it but extends far beyond it.
    The Bible wheel is like an onion with four rings.
    The outer ring is the most abstract being the letters or principles of creation.
    How God works.
    The innermost ring is New Testament when God is showing Himself in manifestations (Miracles,signs and wonders etc,) by both Jesus and Saints and Revelation.
    Yet He interpenetrates all of the books.



    We can only understand God within whatever stage or level we are operating from. But God reveals Himself on each stage of operation. Because He interpenetrates it all. Like the juice of an onion.

    Ps 68:33 To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.

    The bible relates these levels of existence or manifestation. Heaven of heavens, Third heaven, the Earth and the lowest parts of the Earth, Sheol, etc.

    Ps 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
    Ps 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

    We cannot understand or experience God except through some level of His manifestation/Creation.

    I have been seeing the idea of Reality as being a reflection of what we believe in our hearts. Self reflective. We get out of it what we put into it.
    I'll quote myself here what we were talking about this morning on the speaking in tongues thread.


    God and existence is pure consciousness. Far beyond our ability to percieve.
    He created of himself because there was nothing else to create with.
    The Spirit moved across the face (surface) of the waters. (reflection)
    He created man after His own image (a reflection),..also necessarily creators of sorts. gods.
    He created the herbs and trees to produce after their own kind. (again, a reflection)
    Ok you get the idea.

    Now if we are living in this reality of pure Consciousness, Mind or Spirit, it must also be self reflective. Even if we are unaware of this. So what we think or believe determines what we have reflected back at us. (Our reality)
    So, if you are fortunate or unfortunate enough to become aware of this sea of pure Spirit, self reflection and constant synchronicities without some doctrine or philosophy to guide you, your confusion becomes a thousand fold harder to bear.
    This is the story of the flood. The Ark is Christ. The surface of the water is the reflective nature of Reality. Without the ark you drown. With it you are lifted up to come to rest on a mountain. A higher state of conscious awareness than you previously had experienced.

    Along with this reflective nature of reality comes responsibility of getting what you think you want.
    A person who believes they are under the law is correct. They are.
    A person who believes they are under grace is correct. They are.
    "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
    Ge 21:4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
    Ge 21:5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
    Ge 21:6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear (circumcision of the heart) will laugh with me.

    And from the Tabernacle of David thread.

    So we have EVE who is the mother of us all.
    Mary who is the mother of us all. Because she gave birth to the "seed of Abraham" which is Christ.
    And Sarah who is the mother of our faith (being that Abraham is the Father of faith.) and who also is "Jerusalem which is above" and the "Mother of us all."
    The idea of a mother being the ground that we plant in also carries the idea of a self reflective Universe or Reality. So we reap what we sow. Our reality is dependant upon the seed we sow. It grows up after it's own kind. This is our "doctrine" or belief system. Our idea of "what's going on."

    This ocean of Consciousness (Manifestation on all it's levels) can be very confusing when we begin to touch on a level we are not accustomed to.
    But a loving Father interpenetrates it all. As shown by Jesus, the very image of the Father.
    Jesus walked on water and even the sea obeyed him. This is the Firmament.

    Just some thoughts,

    Bob
    Last edited by Bob May; 11-08-2011 at 09:47 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob May View Post
    God is Unmanifest and manifests in stages or levels of existence.

    We cannot understand God as the Unmanifest but he reflects Himself into and interpenetrates this/His creation which is/are these levels of manifestation.
    The Qabala is the study of the tree of life glyph which is an attempt to sort this out.
    But another way of looking at it might be an onion. It is formed of layers, yet juice permeates it and the smell not only permeates it but extends far beyond it.
    The Bible wheel is like an onion with four rings.
    The outer ring is the most abstract being the letters or principles of creation.
    How God works.
    The innermost ring is New Testament when God is showing Himself in manifestations (Miracles,signs and wonders etc,) by both Jesus and Saints and Revelation.
    Yet He interpenetrates all of the books.



    We can only understand God within whatever stage or level we are operating from. But God reveals Himself on each stage of operation. Because He interpenetrates it all. Like the juice of an onion.

    Ps 68:33 To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.

    The bible relates these levels of existence or manifestation. Heaven of heavens, Third heaven, the Earth and the lowest parts of the Earth, Sheol, etc.

    Ps 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
    Ps 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

    We cannot understand or experience God except through some level of His manifestation/Creation.

    I have been seeing the idea of Reality as being a reflection of what we believe in our hearts. Self reflective. We get out of it what we put into it.
    I'll quote myself here what we were talking about this morning on the speaking in tongues thread.
    Hey there Bob!

    That's a great explanation. I really like it, and think it has much potential, especially since it frees the mind from dogmas like "hell for unbelievers" and "salvation for believers." Indeed, it is a grand intellectual construct that can be used to unify all the religions in the world. It does not depend on a traditional "theistic" view of God at all. It could represent "Cosmic Consciousness" or the Vedic Self of Perennial Philosophy. Unfortunately, I think these are the very reasons that most Christians would reject the Qabbalah and the Tree of Life.

    I would be very interested to know what other Christians on this forum think about the Qabbalah and the Tree of Life. Rick? Charisma? Beck? Henry? Joe? Joel? Edward? CWH? Brother Les, ETDeut32? ... what do ya'll think of this?


    Quote Originally Posted by Bob May View Post
    The idea of a mother being the ground that we plant in also carries the idea of a self reflective Universe or Reality. So we reap what we sow. Our reality is dependant upon the seed we sow. It grows up after it's own kind. This is our "doctrine" or belief system. Our idea of "what's going on."
    I can roll with that!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob May View Post
    This ocean of Consciousness (Manifestation on all it's levels) can be very confusing when we begin to touch on a level we are not accustomed to.
    But a loving Father interpenetrates it all. As shown by Jesus, the very image of the Father.
    Jesus walked on water and even the sea obeyed him. This is the Firmament.
    Why such a male oriented view of God? Father/Son/Spirit are all male in the traditional Christian conception. But I've always seen the Holy Spirit as the "Feminine Face of God." And the "Father" should be understood in the sense of "Source" not "male figure." So we end up with a Trinity of Source (Father/Thesis), Reflection (Son/Antithesis) and Unity (Spirit/Synthesis).
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RAM View Post
    Hey there Bob!


    Why such a male oriented view of God? Father/Son/Spirit are all male in the traditional Christian conception. But I've always seen the Holy Spirit as the "Feminine Face of God." And the "Father" should be understood in the sense of "Source" not "male figure." So we end up with a Trinity of Source (Father/Thesis), Reflection (Son/Antithesis) and Unity (Spirit/Synthesis).
    Not getting that deep here. But, yes the Holy Spirit would be the Female Principle. A container.
    A loving Father is the idea I was getting at.

    Father, Active, Wisdom, inspiration.

    Mother, Understanding, The reflecting aspect of God or the All. Passive, Enfolding of those inspirations. The "big picture" made from seeds from the Father being gathered and put together into a whole.

    Son, outcome or Reflection itself. The outcome of the ideas from above and having fit together as a whole view of Reality. Doctrine. Our world view or view of reality.

    2co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    2co 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
    2co 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

    The Father (Principle) is light shining , the Mother (Principle) our hearts and the Earthen vessels at a lower level.
    The power being of God and not of us is Jesus' Doctrine in a nutshell.

    In my old church we were taught the Square of Creation.
    Imagination, Desire, Fulfillment and Thanksgiving.
    Father, Mother, Son and then acknowledging where it came from.
    Thanksgiving is closing the square and realizing it is not from us.
    This symbol appears as a border on Greek menus and such and forms a continuous line.

    This is the Old Testament Geneologies.
    A man comes into a woman and gives birth to a son. Thoughts and Desires give birth to new ideas. This leads to new/other ways of seeing reality. Some good and true and some not so much.
    Brothers are forks in the road and decisions to make as to what we believe to be true. Isaac and Ishmael and Jacob and Esau are the most obvious examples.

    Bob
    Last edited by Bob May; 11-08-2011 at 11:13 AM.

  8. #8
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    Wonderful posts and topic! I agree Richard...it's great to see this from a non-biased perspective.
    The study of typology in the bible does the same thing. Wherever you find the doctrines of hell, inferiority of women etc. you'll also find a very shaky foundation in the understanding of typology.
    For example, the tabernacle/temple is feminine. The High Priest "enters" her once a year, on the day of Atonement.
    The reason women were not allowed in, was not because they were inferior, but because it symbolizes the Consummation, the ultimate act of Love. To have a woman enter would be against the Law, because it would violate a Law of nature and would produce no Life.
    All of creation (including the laws of nature) are given as a valid witness to the character and purposes of God.
    The soul in scripture is represented also by the woman...the spirit, the masculine. The heart/spirit/High Priest (masculine) is to be "circumcised" before "he" can "enter" and consummate with the virgin (subconcious mind) or Holy of Holies. (etc) Both man and woman have a masculine heart, feminine soul.
    Unfortunately, we have projected our moral prejudices on all of this throughout the centuries, without understanding the Spirit in which it was written.
    Last edited by kathryn; 11-08-2011 at 12:00 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathryn View Post
    Wonderful posts and topic! I agree Richard...it's great to see this from a non-biased perspective.
    The study of typology in the bible does the same thing. Wherever you find the doctrines of hell, inferiority of women etc. you'll also find a very shaky foundation in the understanding of typology.
    For example, the tabernacle/temple is feminine. The High Priest "enters" her once a year, on the day of Atonement.
    The reason women were not allowed in, was not because they were inferior, but because it symbolizes the Consummation, the ultimate act of Love. To have a woman enter would be against the Law, because it would violate a natural Law of nature and would produce no Life.
    All of creation (including the laws of nature) are given as a valid witness to the character and purposes of God.
    The soul in scripture is represented also by the woman...the spirit, the masculine. The heart/spirit/High Priest (masculine) is to be "circumcised" before "he" can "enter" and consummate with the virgin (subconcious mind) or Holy of Holies. (etc) Both man and woman have a masculine heart, feminine soul.
    Unfortunately, we have projected our moral prejudices on all of this throughout the centuries, without understanding the Spirit in which it was written.
    Hey there Kathryn,

    I'm starting to get a few "tingles" that indicate we are moving in a positive direction in these discussions. It feels like we are off-track when we get lost in debates about "truth" or "God" or the "Bible as the Word of God." In reality, we are all just trying to make sense of our lives and the world we find ourselves in. And this is what intrigues me. I think I felt a need to shed my old skin and now that I'm free of those constricting ideas, I am invigorated to explore the open territory that lies about me.
    • Skepticism is the antiseptic of the mind.
    • Remember why we debate. We have nothing to lose but the errors we hold. Who but a stubborn fool would hold to errors once they have been exposed?

    Check out my blog site

  10. #10
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    Yes...me too Richard!

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