Is God an entity, or something else?

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  • This topic has 8 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 2 weeks ago by Bera.
  • safsom
    Participant
    • Type: NiTe
    • Development: ll-l
    • F Attitude: Unseelie

    This question (the question of the ontological status of God), to me, seems impossible to answer. Here is a possible logical argument that I can see arising to support a line of reasoning of “god” as an entity (where I will define an entity in the body of the argument itself). The ontology behind this argument does not really have any external philosophical basis and is largely of my own basis, and it’s based on what I view as an entity. My definition of an entity is rather simple. To put things in the simplest words possible, an entity is simply that which has properties (which in turn, can be considered entities themselves). We do not know what the smallest entity is because the degree to which we can reduce entities is contingent on the capabilities of our empirical observation (which is limited), so we have that.

    The definition of God that I hold is that God is not a singularity but a multiplicity, the binding forces that hold together every state in the entire universe as a cohesive whole. It appears that this sort of universal governing, binding force (that defines the universe itself) is what the God of most religions is alluding to. So the question that comes up is, using what we defined as an entity above, is God an entity? The multiplicity and convergence of all entities would be an entity itself, but the entity would also have to contain itself in order to be considered a God (as God is all entities). It seems impossible for a God to exist under these criteria. I think here we see the limits of categorical reasoning, as is apparent in Russell’s paradox.

    Thoughts?

    bella
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • F Attitude: Directive

    Well since you are defining God as an entity (that which has properties) of course you could call the binding forces that hold together every state in the entire universe as a cohesive whole “God”.  This is similar to the simplistic understanding of Spinoza (pantheism).

    In Jewish culture for example, God is not defined as an entity (i.e. having properties).  God is ‘defined’ as what transcends time and space and all limited human paradigms and categorizations, and in that way God transcends definition altogether.   In that sense we are left with no property that can be given.  However, properties are still used to refer to God with the understanding that it is instrumental to humans as we are all confined to what our minds can perceive and then frame through language games.  So Jews can say ‘God is merciful’ for example — as long as they don’t take themselves too seriously, or treat God as “conscious” as a way of expressing the experience of aspiring towards infinity/’the God ideal’ as something ‘alive’ and ‘willful’ rather than as a ‘dead’ concept (the God of Aristotelian philosophers).

    But yeah I hear ya.. I’ve had a lifelong existential awareness of the absurdity of wanting to grasp what is beyond limited human capacities to do so.  The metaphor I use is of a person who was born blind and seeks to understand colors.  No matter how sophisticated the language one will use to help him grasp ‘red’ or  ‘blue’, he will remind unable to — because in this case, it is not a concept expressed through language but a sensory experience that is intrinsically out of his reach.

    fayest42
    Participant
    • Type: FiNe
    • Development: ll--
    • F Attitude: Unseelie

    @bella I think the Tao is similar in Taoism. They say that the Tao cannot be described or defined in words. You can, however, know and experience the Tao. And you can use language to help point people in the right direction of the Tao as long as they understand that what you’re saying is not actually true because the Tao is not describable with language.

    bella
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • F Attitude: Directive

    @fayest42 from what I understand there are several different ways in which the Tao is understood. If its understood as the underlying order of the universe or the like.. I think its closer to Spinoza. While Jewish culture seeks to understand the underlying order of the universe, it does not refer to that as ‘God’. But if the Tao understood more as pre-existence.. its comes closer to the Jewish view, although I’m not of an expert enough to say if this is the case.

    In ancient times when human consciousness was still deeply entangled with the unconscious, humans would worship anthropomorphized entities as they could not separate between ‘the thing in itself’ and its manifestations. But the Jewish view is that God is so to speak the ‘noumenan’ to all of human phenomena (which includes our very sense of existing in itself), and is thus not given inherent attributes.

    One interesting distinction that I see however is that the Tao is not given a name, whereas in Jewish culture God has many names, which do not signify God himself, but are terms used to express different divine ideals and the paths or gates through which they may manifest in reality. The name that is given by the text itself to Moses when he asks for God’s name is “Eheye Asher Eheye”- “I will be as I will be” (usually its mistranslated as “I am that I am’ – but the verse actually uses future tense). This is understood to be an expression of the ongoing spiral towards the future, rather than temporal static ‘name’ (i.e. static human understanding) that would get old with the flux of time. There is therefore also no worship of an entity, but a service to divine ideals that are sought to be manifested as the world progresses forwards (justice, truth, perfection of systems and living things through knowledge, art, science etc). In this sense perhaps it may be similar to the understanding of the Tao as “the path/the way”?

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 3 days ago by bella.
    Alerith
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: ll-l
    • F Attitude: Adaptive

    I think ‘God’ is one of those things like ‘love’ or ‘good’ or ‘evil’, a general symbolic concept derived from a complex human experience. In other words God is an archetype. But as all archetypes, the manifestation of it in human thought points roughly to something we’re sensing about reality. I believe that something to be the collective unconscious. We sense that we were ‘created by something greater than ourselves’ – well we were. The entire causality of life from its beginning and all the wisdom of that journey is what has resulted in each of our existence. And it’s often said that God is benevolent, I think this notion comes from the fact that overall humanity is benevolent towards its own existence, else we wouldn’t exist. Often God is conceptualized as being ‘infinite’ or ‘beyond description’ and indeed, we cannot describe what is utterly unconscious to us and as Jung said, the depths of the unconscious are formless. In the psyche, logos is what defines, but when you get to the visceral underpinnings of experience then logos cannot properly contain this raw reality. Hence why we describe our intermingled depths as ‘gods’.

    I love Jung’s Seven Sermons to the Dead. He describes the psychological reality of unconscious and conscious as Pleroma and Creatura. Pleroma is all and nothing, it is the formlessness from which all form (Creatura) proliferates. Pleroma has no characteristics, because to characterize is to separate, for the whole to become dual. And so here he portrays the narrative of creation, which is really identical to the process of individuation: the Self arising as a particular expression out of the Collective.

    As for Taoism, I think what Lao Tsu was referring to isn’t identical with the archetype of God. I’d describe it more as ‘the Order of Things’ or the ‘flow of the world’. Tao is reality as it is, the direction it is becoming, and also acceptance of that reality and the ability to flow with it. It’s similar to witchcraft in a way, as practicing the craft entails becoming in-touch with present causality and working with it to turn it towards the most favored outcome.

    safsom
    Participant
    • Type: NiTe
    • Development: ll-l
    • F Attitude: Unseelie

    And it’s often said that God is benevolent, I think this notion comes from the fact that overall humanity is benevolent towards its own existence, else we wouldn’t exist. Often God is conceptualized as being ‘infinite’ or ‘beyond description’ and indeed, we cannot describe what is utterly unconscious to us and as Jung said, the depths of the unconscious are formless. In the psyche, logos is what defines, but when you get to the visceral underpinnings of experience then logos cannot properly contain this raw reality. Hence why we describe our intermingled depths as ‘gods’.

    I guess the real question that emerges from this is one of the lifetime of God – Nietzsche considered God ‘dead’ when he put volition and the God archetype you are referring to (the archetype of human benevolence, human knowledge of the universe and human power) in the hands of the common man, rendering the need for a divine multiplicity redundant. Now, in Jung’s time, it was true that the depths of the unconscious were formless, they were beyond any reasonable formulation, beyond any rationality. But many who are interested in the nature of the mind seem to ignore one driving force; and that is technology. Before understanding the importance of technology to understanding the mind, it is first necessary to understand the reason that thinkers like Jung considered there to be a cap to reason in the first place.

    Technology essentially accentuates human perception. As each generation goes by, technological advancements accentuate human perceptual faculties and allow us to see and categorize more than we have ever seen before. It is essential to expanding the categories of our mind, because if the sights allowed by technology are never seen, we will miss aspects of nature and even ourselves that are blatantly evident otherwise. An example of such an innovation (though antiquated) would be the microscope. Without the microscope, it would be impossible to look at our structure, the cells in our bodies; any perceptions regarding those would be speculative and simply not as powerful for prediction. Modern medicine would not exist, it would be primitive guesswork.

    Slowly but surely, current computer technology is accentuating for the mind what the microscope accentuated for the body. The perceptions of our brain architecture are become more and more holistic, broader, more and more encompassing. Through imitation, it should be possible to infer the depths of the mind, the depths of the unconscious, because we will not be the agents of deduction, the structure of the brain would simply reveal itself. The interactions between these structures would reveal the mind. Conscious and unconscious aspects and their origin all within our grip, a state of supreme understanding of ourselves. My question is, would this state of understanding make a God redundant?

    Imagine having all of these archetypes laid bare and naked before your face. Within your grasp. The unknown, the majesty of what is undiscovered, all revealed in front of you. Such an event has the potential to destroy any Gods because it would simply destroy the unconscious. Those archetypes would be rendered redundant.

    bella
    Participant
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • F Attitude: Directive

    @safsom

    I completely agree that as the world advances through technology and attains higher knowledge the archetypes of the unconscious become progressively more conscious. I think (and it appears you alluded to it) that this ongoing revelation of the unconscious would not be a deductive process, but rather revelatory, simply because, this is how the unconscious works.

    Jung had a student by the name Erich Neumann, who explains that in primitive people, the lack of conscious ego-stability (i.e. the ability to remain conscious while accessing the unconscious) created an “animated” dream-like world of mythology that could not differentiate fact from fiction.

    What characterizes unconscious archetypal images is their strong libido effect on and how they compel with a sense of a ‘soulful significance’ to act upon them.  In a sate in which humanity was largely drowned in its unconscious with no differentiating power the archetypes have and still largely do play out as dangerous figures. It was only through a preservation of conscious awareness and its power of differentiation, while engaging the content of the unconscious, which would give way to clearer visions/understandings that are relatively clean of imaginations.

    But I think that what would characterize future human consciousness might be the ability to bring these archetypes progressively into consciousness, giving them a new placement, while retaining their libido affect. The unconscious by its very nature is grasping, seizing, but its symbols may get devoured as consciousness attempts to break them down in order to assimilate them, making lose them their compulsive affect.

    The latter point is significant if we understand that while the power of conscious thought is vigorously analytical, abstract and rational, it also de-emotionalizes and weakens the libido effect which is largely what gives homo sapiens their sense of connection to the whole, meaning, passion, drive and many other aspects essential for human progress.  It would take a synthesis of these two parts of the human psyche in order to gain higher understanding and knowledge while retaining the ‘lustful’ and ‘erotic’ elements responsible for human progress.

    What would happen to God? If we speak of the belief in an anthropomorphize entity, it would crash. If we speak of God as the ultimate archetype, as the God Ideal – a potentially infinite future of understanding for which to strive for, it would remain as long as unconscious archetypes/unknowns and imperfections remain, which, as far as we know is infinite. The process of humanity gaining more and more consciousness is, as far we know, limitless. There will always be more to reveal, to uncover, to learn, through a process of revelation of unconscious archetypes followed by conscious cleansing, constructing and integration of those archetypes. In this sense, the God Ideal would be eternal. (I think Jung may have referred to the archetypes as “eternal images” to connote their eternal significance).

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by bella.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 1 day ago by bella.
    safsom
    Participant
    • Type: NiTe
    • Development: ll-l
    • F Attitude: Unseelie

    It would take a synthesis of these two parts of the human psyche in order to gain higher understanding and knowledge while retaining the ‘lustful’ and ‘erotic’ elements responsible for human progress.

    I don’t think I agree with this premise because the ‘lustful’ and ‘erotic’ elements (the unconscious libido, as you have mentioned in your analysis) only seem necessary for the maintenance of biological propagation and the biological transference of these archetypes. The work of Sigmund Freud on the influence of the libido on the main psyche, will being quite enlightening, is also contingent on the human mind being subordinate to bodily desires – to the natural hormonal fluctuations that occur within. I think that it is important when talking about archetypes to regard their origin – and parts of those origins are definitely rooted in what we can perceive now to be human biology.

    I’d like to use a hypothetical scenario to illustrate this – imagine I had no testosterone. Every ounce of the hormone sucked out from my body, removed to oblivion. Not my archetypal libido (because that possibly has different origins), but my physical and sexual libido and drive would completely dissipate. As a result of that, not only would my sexual initiative decrease (that is, the proclivity towards the pursuit of an adequate partner) – but so would my biological instinctual drive towards the continuation of life (that is because it seems to rooted in reproduction / sexual transmission for most). The point is that the absence of this fundamental biological property (that is, hormones) disintegrates some of the archetypes within me. Not only are they not brought into consciousness, but they cease to exist as entities ontologically too.

    While I identify with the sentiment that you espouse in your response (especially that the potential archetypes for humanity are infinite and without limits), I have troubles discerning the truth-value of that statement to be affirmative – specifically because the nature of current technology is not only tapping in to cognitive limits (as I mentioned in my previous paragraph), but it is also tapping in to human biological limits. Bodies that are indestructible, impermeable may not even have the need to use hormones as a means to maintenance. Considering so many of our archetypes have their origins in our bodies, in their absence, what will happen to them? I’m inclined to think that what will follow is a unique form of ego death.

    The gain of consciousness through advancement comes at the price of a loss of what was considered conventionally ‘human’ in the past. While there are consistences we can see when graphing out the development of ‘humanity’ as a collective, it appears that the process of evolution (both natural and artificial selection) has done a fine job at killing (not in the literal sense, in a more metaphorical sense) the identities and the egos of certain species. They re-collectivize, re-establish their identities through new biological means and emerge anew – with entirely new sets of archetypes. Technology. Does its mechanical limit impose a cap on the emerge of archetypes? I’m inclined to think it does. Constancy seems to be typical of mechanical systems.

    Bera
    Moderator
    • Type: SeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • F Attitude: Seelie

    An entity…I am not sure, Safsom. I will tell you what I think, with the disclaimer that my beliefs are still in formation.

    I think there are some higher principles we don’t yet fully understand. Pretty much like physical laws. One of them becomes perceivable to us through synchronicity. But IT is NOT synchronicity. Synchronicity is just an outer manifestation we can perceive. In my opinion, it is a sign that everything that exists is of a mental nature. So, the Universe is mental/made of/by thoughts.

    I noticed every time I say this to someone, I encounter opposition. And the opposition comes from the widely spread idea of “mirroring“, which can be pretty much summed up as “there is an outer world. There is an inner world. The outer world mirrors the inner world. This explains synchronicity.

    Pondering about this mirroring, I came to the conclusion that there are 2 possibilities  :

    1) everything is thought/One Mind (so there are no “inanimate objects” that mirror my mind, as everything is a manifestation of One Mind, patterns that we see are simply thought patterns within that Mind. We can as well say everything is thought and matter at the same time. But for clarity, I’ll keep calling it One Mind because, if I called it One World, the main point could be missed. I didn’t manage to determine if Unus Mundus is exactly this…? Maybe someone can explain it better.

    2) I project my psyche on the outer world, making it look as if it was One Mind, when in fact it is not. This can include projection of the collective unconscious. And it can also be a group project –  a projection of everyone’s psyche on the world.

    In case 1God is this One Mind. You can call him an entity but I am not sure it…says much about him. 🙂

    In case 2God does not exist. Still there is a way to develop ourselves and to experience magnificence, vastness; we can still become wiser and live meaningful lives. And there still is an Inner God.

    Now, about the Inner God…

    It looks like there are forces in our unconscious that we can put together, so that they become an Inner God, which IS an entity and which… is growing, like a plant, sprouting and emerging out of the darkness, while a big part of him still remains rooted in the unconscious.

    I’m not sure what role the Inner God plays in both of the cases I mentioned here. I guess :

    1)Everything is One Mind – the Inner God is a blossoming of that Mind. A concentrated point of energy and awareness that blooms. I can’t say it blooms out, because there is no in and out in this theory. 🙂

    2)The psyche is being projected on the World – the Inner God is an emergence of unconscious material growing to attain consciousness, in an organic and highly creative way… and we will see the Inner God mirrored in the outer world. We can consider this to be a miracle or a completely explainable psychological occurrence.

    I gotta say, Safsom, the consequences are the same in any of these cases. So, practically, someone who sprouts :p his Inner God (that is a SEED ! :p ) will slowly become wiser, more joyous, kind, aware, truthful. I needed to say this, because I used to think inner work only matters if God exists. But I was wrong and this has lead to a lot of unnecessary mental and emotional struggles.

    Now regarding this :

    Imagine having all of these archetypes laid bare and naked before your face. Within your grasp. The unknown, the majesty of what is undiscovered, all revealed in front of you. Such an event has the potential to destroy any Gods because it would simply destroy the unconscious. Those archetypes would be rendered redundant.

    I’m not sure this can happen. I mean, I don’t think they can be completely taken out to the light. Because the archetypes themselves aren’t actually the images we see when we go into the deeper layers of our minds. The archetypes are just the “models” that shape these images.

    So, one archetype can lead to the formation of many different images and many inner scenarios. We can uncover part of that content, but there will always be more. Also this content is in continuous growth and transformation. If you start digging, there will always be more and the main sources can’t be truly taken out.

    But I feel what you mean is slightly different from what I tried to explain. I think the problem lies in the world “revelation“. So…can scientific inquiry reveal the mystery or not? They seem to be different domains, so you need different tools to operate within each of them. But they are deeply interconnected.

    In any case, it might be helpful to properly define what we mean by revelation. Because we know a lot about the structure of the brain and still a brain surgeon is not necessarily at the same time an enlightened being. And of course, of course, an enlightened person could not necessarily also do the best brain surgery. As everything he’d understand is different from EVERYTHING, as in all information that exists about the brain and about how it works. It’s very tricky. 🙂

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Bera.
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