"Is God real? Does God exist?", you ask. "Is money real? Do numbers exist?", I respond. What makes you think material things are the only real things---the only things that matter? Money governs our lives, it can make you starve to death, and yet it cannot be measured, seen, touched or felt. What if whatever God is was like that? Not a man in the sky, but a pattern of patterns, the information underlying all information, the incomprehensible from which all understanding flows, the abstraction that underlies everything concrete, indeed, the abstraction that makes everything concrete.
The whole "man in the sky" concept is a ridiculous militant atheist slur designed to caricaturize believers as daft, simplistic, gullible folk who don't think. The only people I've heard of in real life who conceptualize God this way are Mormons and some Jehovah's Witnesses. I don't think any other religion, denomination, spiritual system, culture etc conceptualizes God as a material resident of some portion of the universe. Everything I've read suggests most people, at the very least, conceptualize God in either idealist or pantheistic terms. God is wholly "other" or "the whole". For most human beings. This "man in the sky" Santa Clause figure exists only in the imaginations of militant atheists. 🙂
This “man in the sky” Santa Clause figure exists only in the imaginations of militant atheists.
I find this to be a very clever inversion, nice. 😉
But I think what most atheist mean to object to when they say "man in the sky" is not to a God with a literal, corporeal form and a white beard. It's to the idea of a "personal God" generally speaking: to one that can hear your prayers, one that has a concern for whether or not you get the job you want, whether or not your child gets cured of cancer, etc. The "father please watch over Robert, and his son who's going through a rough time right now" type of God. And this is not a minority view among those who believe in God, as far as I can tell.
And the objections raised by atheist about it seem warranted, since it requires a lot more variables to justify a personal God's existence; one that favors homo sapiens on planet earth. That takes many more assumptions than a deistic sort of entity that is an animated "whole" or a meta-pattern as @faeruss eloquently put it. I quite like those versions of God better.
How would you define God @faerie ?
Here is an evocation, an incantation by Jung in his Liber Novus:
"But the supreme meaning is the path, the way and the bridge to what is to come. That is the God yet to come. It is not the coming God himself but his image which appears in the supreme meaning. God is an image, and those who worship him must worship him in the images of the supreme meaning.
The supreme meaning is not a meaning and not an absurdity, it is image and force in one, magnificence and force together.
The supreme meaning is the beginning and the end. It is the bridge of going across and fulfillment.
The other Gods died of heir temporality, yet the supreme meaning never dies, it turns into meaning and then into absurdity, and out of the fire and blood of their collision the supreme meaning rises up rejuvenated anew.
The image of God has a shadow. The supreme meaning is real and casts a shadow. For what can be actual and corporeal and have no shadow?
The shadow is nonsense. It lacks force and has no continued existence through itself. But nonsense is the inseparable and undying brother of the supreme meaning.
Like plants, so men also grow, some in the light, others in the shadows. There are many who need the shadows and not the light.
The image of God throws a shadow that is just as great as itself.
The supreme meaning is great and small, it is as wide as the space of the starry Heaven and as narrow as the cell of the living body."
It’s to the idea of a “personal God” generally speaking: to one that can hear your prayers, one that has a concern for whether or not you get the job you want, whether or not your child gets cured of cancer, etc. The “father please watch over Robert, and his son who’s going through a rough time right now” type of God. And this is not a minority view among those who believe in God, as far as I can tell.
Yes, it's the majority view, but why is it a problem? It's fine if someone doesn't prefer this conception, but if you're gonna go further and mock something like militant atheists do, you'd better do it on the basis of reason, not preference. I like vanilla better than strawberry doesn't justify mocking strawberry. There's no logical reason I can find to insist that God must be impersonal. An infinite mind with an absolute freedom, why exactly can't it be interested in whether I have lice in my hair or not? It created the lice, the hair, and me, after all, and is utterly aware of all three at every instance of their existence.
Preclude: I kind of strung this together; mostly from thought I was already having, while throwing in some of the concepts shared in this thread.
Just started mature my thinking of deism and perhaps theism. I'm starting off with the "personal god" and I may or may not move on to a "whole god". Seeing as the human brain must have physiological processing limitations, which even genius have at some extent. I think I am starting to realize that there is a natural consequence for when man is the possessor of himself; as well a natural consequence for when man let an "idea" possess himself. If both are decently understood one of these consequences maybe more preferred over the other. If a consciousness is the possessor of its own projected (thoughts) self-concept it will easily overload its processing resources (thought capacity) as it's feedback-loops(feelings) overwhelming backfires into the self possessed consciousness. If a consciousness allows its projections to own its self-concept, the possessor projection might maximize processing resources and purity feedback-loop backfire; leading to a sensation of effortlessness within any and all circumstances including imminent death of said original yet non-self-possessed consciousness.
PS: This does make me wonder about Einstein's deism.
Yes, it’s the majority view, but why is it a problem? It’s fine if someone doesn’t prefer this conception, but if you’re gonna go further and mock something like militant atheists do, you’d better do it on the basis of reason, not preference. I like vanilla better than strawberry doesn’t justify mocking strawberry. There’s no logical reason I can find to insist that God must be impersonal. An infinite mind with an absolute freedom, why exactly can’t it be interested in whether I have lice in my hair or not? It created the lice, the hair, and me, after all, and is utterly aware of all three at every instance of their existence.
@fae Preclude: 1.This might be an Se vs Te struggle, which case we could devil's advocate for each other. 2. This might be a Pe's undesired rediscoverings into timeless discussion, which case we could make distinctions based on what we know now.
This seems like a lot of appeal to reason. Yet there seem to be little to no appeal to application. From my years of life till today it seem like reason is better off serving application. Where as application would serve truth and meaning. Should you accept these thoughts and find them impactful I'd wonder how you would rephrase this quote. Now that I really think about it... I am extremely curious.
If any wishes: https://cognitivetype.com/forums/topic/reason-application-meaning-truth/
Faeruss, I like this topic. Toward the end of my Christian journey, I allowed myself to conceive God that way. It was a departure from perceiving those eternal patterns as emanating from Him. It was never clear to me if they were His creation, His essence (moving toward more Eastern thinking), or both.
That conception of God is still the best, IMO. However I'm still personally wrestling against the, I don't know, fatalism of it all. I mean, the Universe can be deterministic, but that doesn't mean I have to bow. I still have a journey ahead of me, working through this.
I don't know if God exists or not. So, this post will be about what I think about the theories/beliefs mentioned here and about other theories that might be true. This is a pretty long post, so I will try to organize it a bit. 🙂
1. About a personal God
I think there are some points against this theory to be considered.They are not really arguments, because in this particular case there will always be the counter argument - but we are humans, we can't understand God's will.
But, anyway, there are some issues that make me doubt the existence of a personal God:
- there is a lot of suffering in the world;
- suffering is not equally or fairly distributed (unless you believe in reincarnation - that would make suffering fairly distributed, based on everyone's deeds in their past lives... but most people who believe in a personal God don't also believe in reincarnation, which is a pity, because it would support their belief in God's fairness);
- there is a huge part of the Universe completely empty, unoccupied by any beings. (I think this is what Auburn also says and it is a problem indeed but I will get back at it).
Of course a human could not understand God's mind but these points suggest that if there is a God, he is not personal. If he was personal and cared about everyone's lives, there would be no unjust suffering (for example a child dying or an animal being eaten by another animal).
As I said before, this only applies if you don't believe in karma & reincarnation. Or in any other theory that would somehow solve this issue. But I really can't see any logical alternative to this one. Heaven and hell or Judgement Day theories don't solve the huge issue that animals and plants are suffering horribly without being guilty of anything. Karma does, but it has other weak points, I guess.
Also, if there was a personal God who created the Universe and got involved in our lives, I don't understand why he would keep such a huge part of the Universe without any inhabitants. Of course, the abiotic could have some purpose but it's so much of it... :)) It just doesn't look like something a personal God who follows our lives and focuses on everyone's deeds and moral development would do. Well...he could have side projects of course :p but...the Universe really doesn't look like something an ethically inclined being would create. I fully admit this is not an argument cause I could find at least 5 reasons to make lots and lots of empty planets but it is an issue worth mentioning.
2. God is the Pattern of Patterns (as faeruss said)
@faeruss - you say that what we call God is the pattern of patterns. But I want to ask you something - are these patterns similar to Plato's Ideas or are they similar to spiritual rules, like karma ? Or are they actually the physical rules by which the Universe works ? How do you see them? Can you give an example of a sub-pattern ?
3. The Universe = God
This was mentioned by you guys and it is one of the theories I prefer.
So, the theory is that the Universe is God and that there is some intelligence and some volition in matter, in the world itself.
Everything is in this case a huge Being containing interconnected energy points (people, animals, plants, even stones/water/fire etc) - and this Being is just growing, expanding and experiencing all there is to experience. This Being does not have to follow what every energy point is doing and punish some or reward others because they are just parts of it, like our cells. There is suffering because the Being's growth is taking place based on some general rules and is subject to limits. Not because this Being judges and punishes us for our evil deeds.
Also, in this case the unoccupied space is just an...abiotic part of It, like a huge shell (I think shells are not abiotic, this is just a comparison to something I can think of 🙂 If God was the Universe, it could make sense for him to contain unoccupied space...because this could just be the way he developed. Oh, also this reminds me of the patterns idea, cause a snail has this part that is alive, biotic, whatever, and its shell, that is not really a living thing but still is part of the snail and it also grows according to a pattern, you know? So these two theories could be combined, I think.
4. All is One but it doesn't look like it
This one is different from the one in which God = the Universe. That one is pretty much Pantheism, right? And this one is closer to New Age ideas.
So...in the beginning we were one (one ball of fire having one perspective). At some point there was a Fall and somehow this ball of fire got split and all spirits got separated...and remained separated until now.The split/Fall took place for the purpose of experiencing Everything that could be.
At some point, we will all be One again and then split again and the experiences we have are somehow accessible to everyone or will be accessible when we are all One again.
This could be mixed with Theory number 3 or it could be...I think the Fall could just be the loss of the feeling of everything being interconnected. They could both be true. 2, 3 and 4 could actually all be true if the patterns were like God's...DNA? 🙂 and God was the Universe itself and the Fall just meant a state of mind in which you believe you are separate from everything else and becoming One again was the realization that actually everything is God.
Oh, dear, so much woo rambling. :))
Anyway, I think my potential beliefs (cause I just see them as possibly true) are pretty much what an Se lead would be likely to think about it all (God can't really judge you for your sins, this doesn't make any sense :)) ; He just wants to experience everything through you :)) 😉 ).
You say that what we call God is the pattern of patterns. But I want to ask you something – are these patterns similar to Plato’s Ideas or are they similar to spiritual rules, like karma ? Or are they actually the physical rules by which the Universe works ? How do you see them? Can you give an example of a sub-pattern ?
@Bera Both Plato's Ideas and such spiritual rules would fall under the very broad idea of pattern I have in mind. The same goes for physical rules, which have often been conceived of as "cosmic habits" - cosmic patterns or regularities. I see patterns in a rather technical way, I suppose. As a mathematician, I think mathematics is the precise science of patterns. Giving a general definition of pattern seems elusive, however. But examples might help, and indeed you ask of an example of a sub-pattern. Here's something that comes to mind: you count collections of objects and you notice a pattern: some of them have the same number of objects and some don't. The idea of quantity emerges as this pattern over collections of objects. Then you start looking at these quantities and notice a pattern: some of them can be thought of as smaller than others, and you can make a general observation that the quantity A is smaller than the quantity B if the underlying objects of A can be thought of a properly smaller subcollection to those of B. You start developing a theory of quantity, patterns to the pattern of quantity. Let me know if that's clear.
And this is where a notion such as Jung's and mine coincide, if we posit that meaning arises from ever-increasingly complex patterns of patterns. Jung's God-as-supreme-meaning becomes Faeruss' God-as-pattern-of-patterns
For whatever it's worth I just want to throw out the idea that God both exists AND nonexists.
Here's my issue with the entire question of God's existence or nonexistence: it seems to assume that whatever the ultimate nature of reality is, it is something that can be neatly & logically nailed down within the construct of human language. Denotative language is rather flat & abstract--it cannot even convey the qualitative experience of existing as a human in the world...to the extent that language conveys direct experience, it relies on metaphor & evocation to do so (i.e. on appealing to the audience's direct experience as an analog). So it seems very far-fetched to think that precise, linguistic constructs could definitively confirm or deny an evanescent attribute of reality, beyond the pale of all visible-apparent existence.
Anytime I make definitive statements about God--say, "God exists, is personal and is omniscient"--I'm at some level bounding God within my own linguistic box, making God into something less than ultimate by tying it to particular attributes. The very idea of asserting that God exists seems to imply that God is a thing, with a way of being that's analogous to, say, a chair or a tree or a person. That it's something I could pick out and define as a cohesive thing that's separate than everything else.
It even seems like a lot of monotheistic belief systems recognize this pitfall and try to get around it through statements like "God is unknowable," "no man cometh to the Father except through Me," etc. But they spend a lot of time circling around God's unknowable-ness, trying to shoehorn God into their particular belief systems without being blatant about it.
Now, I'm not a materialist at all, and I find personally find many brands of atheism to be insipid, dogmatic, uninspiring, and once again, built from an overabundance of faith in the power of human language to encompass & dissect the whole of reality. For me, the point of trying to come to terms with a contradiction like "God exists AND doesn't exist" is that it gets me away from the fallacy of trying to make sense of something that I wouldn't expect to necessarily make perfect rational sense. It feels like it grounds me more in whatever perceptions of ultimate realities are implied through my immediate, impressionistic, day-to-day experience.
The religion I grew up in had one scripture where it referred to God as "the most manifest of the manifest, and the most hidden of the hidden." To the extent that there is God, I feel their existence must be obvious and apparent, at some level--not requiring validation through complex intellectual exercises. Obvious & apparent, yet evanescent & fleeting--something that always seems to be there but can never quite be nailed down.
As far as I am aware, everything can be translated into binary without loss. There are more pieces of evidence than that, but once that piece became clear to me, it became inordinately difficult to argue against the idea that "we" are living in some form of simulation. What exactly are the ramifications of that? I haven't the foggiest, nor does it overly concern me. If my fate is to be a part of this specific simulation that is acceptable, I will live my life to the fullest, perfectly capable of imagining an infinitely worse simulation I could have been placed into.
As well when we consider, OK, patterns themselves do appear to be the dominant feature of our universe and the proper way to understand the larger picture, and yet "we" are always tied to a precise time and location, with clear boundaries and conditions for existence (starvation, dehydration, trauma) through our very being. Do these not appear to be the fundamental conditions of the simulated?
C'est la vie.
As far as I am aware, everything can be translated into binary without loss. There are more pieces of evidence than that, but once that piece became clear to me, it became inordinately difficult to argue against the idea that “we” are living in some form of simulation. What exactly are the ramifications of that? I haven’t the foggiest, nor does it overly concern me. If my fate is to be a part of this specific simulation that is acceptable, I will live my life to the fullest, perfectly capable of imagining an infinitely worse simulation I could have been placed into.
@rondo So do you actually feel as if you're living as part of a simulation? Along these lines, do you relate to auburn's characterization of NT Alphas as 'ephemeral,' in the sense he described here?:
But Ne’s allocentric perception and Ti’s beside-itself reasoning (third-person) makes it so they can feel like they’re simulating their own experience, real as it may be. I’ve heard Alpha NT’s describe it as them controlling their body like a puppet.
Or, on the other hand, does reality feel real to you but you've decided intellectually that you could be living a simulation?
At a basic level, the issue I have with the idea that we're living in a simulation is, does this necessarily make reality somehow unreal? Whatever reality is, it seems real, and as Wallace Stevens said, "Let be be finale of seem." This is the only reality I know. How can I say some other reality that I've never experienced is more real than my own?
As well when we consider, OK, patterns themselves do appear to be the dominant feature of our universe and the proper way to understand the larger picture, and yet “we” are always tied to a precise time and location, with clear boundaries and conditions for existence (starvation, dehydration, trauma) through our very being. Do these not appear to be the fundamental conditions of the simulated?
C’est la vie.
As far as being tied to a specific time & place, one thing I'd say is that human consciousness arises through collective interaction far more than what (highly individualistic) western cultures tend to conceptualize. So much of human experience is shaped by culture, which is constructed through the interaction of many people, as well as through human interaction with the animals, plants, weather, landscapes, etc., in their environments. Of course, perhaps it's true that humans as a species are still tied broadly to "a precise time and location [...]."
However, my sense is that the subjective experience of "being" actually has analogs all around us in the natural world. If I'm in a boat on the ocean and storm kicks up, I would likely begin to feel as if the sea were angry. This seems like a perfectly natural reaction; who am I to say that the sea is not actually angry? In a lot of Indigenous cultures, the weather is seen as having a sort of sentience. I studied the Yup'ik language for a bit, and I remember one word, ella (pronounced with a silent e and a voiceless ll), which can alternatively translate as awareness, outside, weather or world, if I'm remembering right. I never got to understand the full cultural/linguistic context of the word, but I believe it relates to the idea of a common thread between the weather and our experience as humans. (The Yup'ik term for God is derived partly from this word as well).
You know, over the years I've had a couple particular experiences with lucid dreams where I was able to pay mindful attention to all the colors and textures in the dreamworlds, and they began to feel so vivid & lifelike that all I wanted to do was look around and explore them (of course, I had to take care not to become too mindful, because that would make me wake up). I've also noticed how certain dreams are set within worlds and narratives that seem to have continuity over long periods of time--weeks or months or whatever. It's always too vague and subconscious for me to map it out, but I feel like I definitely have dreams that are continuations of other, often-forgotten dreams I've had much longer ago. Anyway, over the years I've started to believe that in some sense or other, dreams actually have their own reality...even if their reality is usually fleeting or limited in scope.
There is one way that I can actually somewhat relate to the reality-as-simulation idea, and I've sort of been wondering if it might be an inverted, high-Si version of the Ne ethereality trait. About eight or nine years ago, I had one experience where I was out in the mountains for about ten days or so, and my partner on that particular trip had brought a bunch of weed along and we were smoking it together, which gave everything a slightly-surreal kind of quality (OK, maybe I'm not exactly helping my own credibility with this idea). When I got back to the road, I began to feel as if I had walked into a bad sci fi movie. All the infrastructure around me seemed all boxlike and artificial. When I got back to town and went to the grocery store, I felt like there was a fakeness to all the boxed-up food that had traveled thousands of miles from all corners of the globe to sit on those shelves in such a perfectly geometric way.
Anyway, this general feeling has been a recurring experience that's generally grown stronger as I've gotten older--modern infrastructure can have a kind of phantom, unreal quality to it. Not that it's literally unreal, but that there's something so bizarre and artificial about it that it might as well be. Smooth plastic surfaces, square rooms, surveillance cameras, endless fields of asphalt--etc., etc.--none of that even remotely resembles anything that humans have experienced during like 99.99% of our existence as homo sapiens or for the untold millions of years in the lives of all our evolutionary ancestors.
There's also the fact that it takes such constant, intensive inputs of energy & resources to sculpt & maintain the perfect, smooth, geometric forms of roads, skyscrapers, monoculture crops, etc. ... without a massive, centralized, tightly-coordinated social-political system constantly funneling resources toward this purpose, everything would quickly implode into catastrophic, natural (dis)order. Alan Wiseman got at this in his 2007 book The World Without Us....a thought experiment exploring what would happen if humans suddenly disappeared off the face of the Earth. I should say, I'm not a misanthrope at all; I just feel like there's something fantastic about the form human civilization has taken these past few centuries, and I'm deeply skeptical that it can last forever.
In that way, I would say that the reality we humans have sculpted--the one that most of us depend on for our sustenance--is a dream....one from which there's bound to be a very painful awakening.
I dunno exactly where to start here so I'll just begin: consciousness is necessary for humans to function with any real degree of efficacy, but not the universe as I understand it; it would go on just fine without consciousness (sorry Deepak Chopra).
However, there is a rather curious fact that a state that can be officially characterized as sleep affects even the simplest of creatures. And as we humans are well aware, sleep has its undeniable relationship to consciousness.
And since you mention the puppeteering, I did have an experience on a moderate dose of edibles while trail-running that qualifies; I was pushing my body to its limits, and I was able to bring my consciousness to a spot that felt like it was right above my head, and from there I could control my mind and body just as though it was a puppet, with very high performance and levels of control,
though this state did not last for very long. Iirc there is mention of the state in some of the core Hindu texts (I believe I got this from The Science of Yoga [good book]), anyway it is a level of consciousness they have explored. So perhaps that particular state of consciousness might come easier to me as an Ne-Ti whereas a different form of consciousness might come easier to another type, but I don't find it too helpful to speculate here.
I will also say that I showed my girlfriend what I had written about living in a simulation and she said she understood, but that it sounded like schizophrenic thinking, or that that sentiment would come from someone deranged and possibly violent.
While I can certainly understand this (having both successfully and unsuccessfully coaxed schizophrenics through these very states myself), the difference is that for me this... acknowledgment that I am most likely living in a simulation
doesn't come with emotional dampening or any possession of thought that would pull me towards some pole pathologically, but rather that the simulation paradigm is the best I currently have for understanding the universe.
At some point weeks or months earlier my girlfriend had also said to me, "Sometimes if I think of you as a robot I can understand you better." I find this same approach can work with human beings (and most mammals as well), but it is important to use two approaches:
the person is a robot [think mechanistic determinism] the same way you are, and the person is a soul that feels pain for other souls the same way you do (with some neurological exceptions; mainly thinking of psychopaths here;
they have all the human machinery, but their empathy switch was never set to "ON", and it never will be [likely due to a mutation].) If I divorce myself from either perspective (robot/soul) I obtain a grossly distorted view/ experience of humanity.
This is the crudest way I could break this down while getting at the core meaning, though obviously it leaves a ton of important dimensions out and lacks a lot of clarity.
And since we're talking about consciousness and reality and all this totally radical stuff dude, here's something I wrote after just having re-read Synchronicity: An Acausal Cowabunga:
Jung; Synchronicity (The I Ching is an instrument of the perception oscillation; the text provides the judgment, literally.)
Upon rereading Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle --
I will quote Jung, now speaking of the I Ching, "For obvious reasons, a cognitive operation of this kind is impossible to the unaided intellect. Judgment must therefore rely much more on the irrational functions of consciousness, that is on sensation and intuition... [the I Ching is one of the] oldest known methods for grasping a situation as a whole and thus placing the details against a cosmic background--the interplay of Yin and Yang."
Think of Two-Face from the Batman Rogues' Gallery. In the most psychologically evocative portrayals of Two-Face I have seen,
the flipping of the coin is an unavoidable compulsion that comes from needing total, personal absolution from judgment (his own personal judgment having led directly to his beloved's death).
By adopting the fatalism of "Nothing matters, flip a coin," Two-Face absolves himself from responsibility for judgment [truly this is only partial absolution; the psyche knows the true nature of judgment and the self's role in it].
We cannot navigate the world without judgment, we can only abdicate our own responsibility for it. Batman is the ultimate superhero in his universe of psychological portraitism because his superpower is willpower; he never allows himself to abdicate responsibility.
To give a little further insight into my thinking, the Book of Ecclesiastes [I bought a reproduction of the original 1611 KJB mostly for this book and Genesis] is my favorite "spiritual" book (doesn't hurt that it's only 4 and a half pages). That being said, there were several attempts over the centuries to have Ecclesiastes removed from the Biblical canon (undoubtedly it bordered on heresy for some clergymen), and it is a favorite of atheists (un-ironically). The book is filled with such a condensation of wisdom and beautiful, poetic language whose ultimate message is: There is nothing new under the sun, life is full of travails, and knowledge will increase your suffering; however, if you but toil honestly and simply you can find some enjoyment in life, ending with, "For God shal bring euery worke into judgement, with euer secret thing, whether it it bee good, or whether it bee euill." I suspect this last sentence, while beautiful, is used in conjunction with the epilogue to give the piece the cloth of orthodoxy, while the main body of the text is concerned with enumerating some really profound, skeptical, and unashamed poetic expressions of the viewpoint that the world is inherently unjust and full of inevitable sufferings.