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A Personal God

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Local Rebel
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0 posted 12-29-2002 09:12 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

It seems lately there is a surge in interest around here in God related topics.  Two things are certain in such conversations -- someone is always going to mention that Einstein believed in God -- and when the conversation goes south someone is going to be compared to Hitler.

The following however, is a quote directly from old uncle Albert:
quote:
I cannot conceive of a personal God who would directly influence the actions of individuals, or would directly sit in judgment on creatures of his own creation. I cannot do this in spite of the fact that mechanistic causality has, to a certain extent, been placed in doubt by modern science. My religiosity consists in a humble admiration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance-but for us, not for God.




more reading at http://condor.stcloudstate.edu/~lesikar/einstein/personal.html http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/einstein_religion.html http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/einsci.htm http://hector3000.future.easyspace.com/einstein.htm http://condor.stcloudstate.edu/~lesikar/einstein/

I don't have a particular direction for this thread -- I just find the topic relative to much of the current discussion across many topics.

One question though -- Morality is of the highest importance-but for us, not for God -- agree or disagree?

hush
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1 posted 12-29-2002 09:15 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

By a personal god, do you mean a god that a person is capable of developing a relationship with- feeling for- conversing with- that sort of thing? Or do you mean the relativistic "I have my god, you have yours?"

I haven't checked out your links yet, so forgive if my question is answered by those.
Local Rebel
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2 posted 12-29-2002 09:19 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

My personal emphasis would be on the former -- but I would think the latter would be applipicable if someone holds a belief in an anthropomorphic God.

I'd refer you back to the posted quote from Albert to discern what he means by 'personal God'
serenity blaze
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3 posted 12-29-2002 11:56 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I can't believe I have audacity, but then, I'm prolly the only one surprised.

smile.

"A Personal God?"

oh my.

If you believe in the existance of God, how could there be anything less?
Local Rebel
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4 posted 12-30-2002 12:09 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I'll let Al speak for himself... excerpt from "The World as I See It":

quote:

The social feelings are another source of the crystallization of religion. Fathers and mothers and the leaders of larger human communities are mortal and fallible. The desire for guidance, love, and support prompts men to form the social or moral conception of God. This is the God of Providence who protects, disposes, rewards, and punishes, the God who, according to the width of the believer's outlook, loves and cherishes the life of the tribe or of the human race, or even life as such, the comforter in sorrow and unsatisfied longing, who preserves the souls of the dead. This is the social or moral conception of God.

The Jewish scriptures admirably illustrate the development from the religion of fear to moral religion, which is continued in the New Testament. The religions of all civilized peoples, especially the peoples of the Orient, are primarily moral religions. The development from a religion of fear to moral religion is a great step in a nation's life. That primitive religions are based entirely on fear and the religions of civilized peoples purely on morality is a prejudice against which we must be on our guard. The truth is that they are all intermediate types, with this reservation, that on the higher levels of social life the religion of morality predominates.

Common to all these types is the anthropomorphic character of their conception of God. Only individuals of exceptional endowments and exceptionally high-minded communities, as a general rule, get in any real sense beyond this level. But there is a third state of religious experience which belongs to all of them, even though it is rarely found in a pure form, and which I will call cosmic religious feeling. It is very difficult to explain this feeling to anyone who is entirely without it, especially as there is no anthropomorphic conception of God corresponding to it.

The individual feels the nothingness of human desires and aims and the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves both in nature and in the world of thought. He looks upon individual existence as a sort of prison and wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole. The beginnings of cosmic religious feeling already appear in earlier stages of development—e.g., in many of the Psalms of David and in some of the Prophets. Buddhism, as we have learnt from the wonderful writings of Schopenhauer especially, contains a much stronger element of it.

The religious geniuses of all ages have been distinguished by this kind of religious feeling, which knows no dogma and no God conceived in man's image; so that there can be no Church whose central teachings are based on it. Hence it is precisely among the heretics of every age that we find men who were filled with the highest kind of religious feeling and were in many cases regarded by their contemporaries as Atheists, sometimes also as saints. Looked at in this light, men like Democritus, Francis of Assisi, and Spinoza are closely akin to one another.

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (12-30-2002 12:11 AM).]

Ron
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5 posted 12-30-2002 12:16 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
"I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos."

Albert Einstein,  1954


When it came to two plus two, Albert knew his stuff.

His track record with God, however, wasn't nearly so impressive. Or, to paraphrase Stephen Hawking, "God not only plays dice, but sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen."

Personally, though, I think Bohr said it best when he asked, "Who are you to tell God what to do?"
Stephanos
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6 posted 12-30-2002 02:15 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Einstein seemed to say two definite things about his religious beliefs ... 1) He believed in the necessity of a God both intelligent and creative, and 2) He could not believe that God was personal.


But how can it really be both ways?  If God has intelligence and demonstrates creative genius, how can he be impersonal?  This is especially difficult seeing that we ourselves are personal beings ... how did individual and personal identities arise from an impersonal force?  I guess it could always be said that this force is natural, as in evolutionary theory.  But if this is the case, then we are at the door of naturalism again, and not really speaking of God at all.  And no matter how anyone admires the apparent creativity displayed in the universe or speaks with awe about apparent intelligence, if God is only a euphemistic term for natural forces, then all such talk means nothing... Unless one wants to say that the universe itself is God, reverting to pantheism.  But everytime I revisit the claims of pantheism, I find it is after all, a spiritualized naturalism with the same inherent problems, and cannot, like it's materialist cousin, give any account for intelligible life.


My opinion about Einstein is that he was caught between thoroughgoing naturalism and believing in an intelligent Creator.  Seeing the necessity for design and an infinite intelligence in the universe, he tried to synthesize these two ideas.  But this brilliant scientist did nothing philosophically to solve the dialectical tension between these two worldviews that he was so wont to marry.   That is why I am sure, whenever I have perused the web, I have found him to be the unwilling poster-boy for theists and atheists alike.  These quote-grabbers each take their respective portions of what Einstein said.  The Atheists like the parts about God being impersonal.  The Theists like the parts about the necessity of intelligence.  Whatever we may feel, he certainly was in the middle.


Interestingly enough, it seems Einstein struggled with the same philosophical question on another thread right now ... about Freewill and omniscience.   Here is a quote by Einstein that I found concerning this...


"If this being is omnipotent then every occurrence, including every human action, every human thought, and every human feeling and aspiration is also His work; how is it possible to think of holding men responsible for their deeds and thoughts before such an almighty Being? In giving out punishment and rewards He would to a certain extent be passing judgment on Himself. How can this be combined with the goodness and righteousness ascribed to Him?"


I see no reason why this is such a dilemma however, if God can actually create beings with free will.  If this is the case, and God is righteous, then it would be almost unthinkable for him not to judge the actions of men and affairs in the world.

Anyway This is a very interesting thread.  Perhaps we could also discuss some of the potential problems of combining such concepts as intelligence and impersonality, when talking about God.  

Stephen.


  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (12-30-2002 02:30 AM).]

Local Rebel
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7 posted 01-01-2003 11:23 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Well Ron -- conventional wisdom always had it he couldn't add up his own dinner check.. but -- I suppose whether or not he got God wrong or right is as nebulous to prove as his general theory -- ie -- nothing can travel faster than speed of light stuff -- although quantum mechanics has come a long way.

And yep -- big fan of Hawkings  -- but -- if Hawkings is right -- doesn't that mean Heisenberg is too ?  and doesn't the HUP give you the heebie jeebies as I recall?
And haven't you used that same quote from Al to talk down uncertainty?  My memory is uncertain.

Stephan -- I think the reason people co-opt Einstein is because any time two or more people look at the same set of data and arrive at different conclusions they tend to wonder about the intelligence of the other parties and may even cast aspersions upon them -- hence -- people get defensive and try to associate themselves with THE icon of genius -- ie-- if Albert said it I must be in good company -- only problem is -- Albert is sort of all over the place if you take him out of context -- much like reading scripture.

I don't have a problem with pantheism except that it creates the same singularity as monotheism in the Judeo/Christian flavor -- that is -- if the universe is God then how did it get here?  did it create itself?  Monotheism says the created cannot be the creator -- but then begs the question -- then whence came the creator?
Stephanos
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8 posted 01-02-2003 12:47 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Local Rebel,


Yeah, Pantheism calls the universe "God", and lands us right back into the tenets of naturalism.  Everything is nature still, a part of the age-old interlocking chain of events, it's just a nature we are now going to grant the title of "Deity" to.  This however runs into the same problem naturalism has, of not being able to ascribe any purpose to nature at all.  Is nature, or "god" if you will, good or evil?  In Pantheism, since the universe is God, and exhibits both good and evil qualities, grows both apples and anuerisms, who can say if it is good or evil in purpose?  If this point were to be argued,  wouldn't the very brains and vocal cords of those arguing be both parts of the divine?  What standard would there be to give one thing any precedence over another?  If someone answers "will to Power", I am not surprised, as Pantheism leads us right back to the blind materialism that drove Nietzsche to his conclusions.  Why seek to cure Cancer, as it is just as much part of "god" as humans are, according to Pantheism.
     At least the Judeo-Christian worldview offers an explanation of evil, while asserting that God is good and has given purpose to the universe.  It does so through the assertion that the creation is derived from the Creator, not the same as, and by introducing the concepts of the fall, and sin, to explain evil.  As you say, the Judeo-Christian worldview offers no attempted explanation of God being created.  In fact, it unembarrasingly declares him to be uncreated and so opaque (the most real and wholly underived being) that no explanation is needed or given.  

As I have mentioned before, both naturalism and Christianity involve presuppositions.  One presupposes God, the other a locked nature.  This is the question, so when it comes to question begging, no one can escape it.  The thing I see that the Christian worldview has going for it, is that it is the presupposition which actually provides a base for human knowledge, logic, existence, science, and inductive reasoning.  All of these things in the context of naturalism, end up subjected to and philosophically destroyed by Hume's skepticism (He was absolutely right if only nature exists).  That's why the most honest and logically consistent naturalists were also nihilists.  When one presupposition explains all knowledge and provides a framework, and the alternative presupposition destroys it, and thus itself, to me the choice is clear.  Of course the choice is yours to make, and everyone's.  But question begging is part and parcel of having a worldview at all.  Though IMHO certain worldviews have quite a hard time justifying even having the question to beg.


Stephen.          

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (01-02-2003 12:55 AM).]

Ron
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9 posted 01-02-2003 08:07 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
And yep -- big fan of Hawkings  -- but -- if Hawkings is right -- doesn't that mean Heisenberg is too ?  and doesn't the HUP give you the heebie jeebies as I recall? And haven't you used that same quote from Al to talk down uncertainty?  My memory is uncertain.

You're misremembering, LR. The Uncertainty Principle is so well established it would be hard for anyone to convincingly talk it down. What you may be recalling is me saying the consequences of the UP were decidingly non-intuitive and therefore uncomfortable. A particle can move from point A to C without ever passing through B?

But that's no less non-intuitive or uncomfortable than Einstein's Special theory (not the General, which was something else). The faster I move the more mass I have? (Does that explain why the hectic pace of the holidays always adds a few pounds?)
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