Concept of God arising in multiple, different cultures

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by rodereve, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    That's not why.
    You need to speak in more detail.

    You address those that are somehow important for you. Now do tell why are they important for you.

    If you've practiced Buddhist meditation, this level of discerning one's own intentions shouldn't be a problem.

    I'm sure there are foods that you like, or weather that you like, and other things and people that you like.

    Perhaps you find the idea that God, if God exists, merely puts up with humans; so whatever things that exist (which God made to exist) and which humans take pleasure in, are there not because God wanted to please humans?
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  3. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I think I have a pretty good idea what you are on about.

    I don't think you fully appreciate the role metonmy plays in empiricism however.

    I went to great pains to explain it to James R here and also here and here.

    I'm pretty sure we both live in a universe where the power of science is dictated purely through tacit mechanisms
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  5. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Let me see if I can present my query more clearly:

    First of all, due to the forum search dysfunction, I can't find the original discussion in which this has come up, so I have to go by memory. Anyway, that original discussion is not necessary, as the topic can be stated again:

    James R proposed that epistemology is not something that would apply on the level of the individual. That seems to mean that an individual cannot meaningfully ask "How do I know I know?" but that the only meaningful question is "How do we know we know?"

    As if knowledge would not be something that - also - takes place on the level of the individual or resides in the individual. As if we are to say "We think, therefore, we are," but as if "I think, therefore, I am" does not apply, has no referent.

    That this is an important issue becomes evident when people disagree with eachother, when there is conflict; which are situations that are generally quite important for people, as they are unpleasant or even dangerous.

    Some people tend to understand disagreement or conflict situations as primarily a matter of one person being right, and the other being wrong (in delusion, defective or lying). This brings social tension and one-upmanship in relationships. (I assume that this is not desirable.)

    "A God" is like "an Elvis Presely" or "a Marilyn Monroe" - ie., it's merely an impersonation, a character, a caricature, but not "the real thing."
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  7. Balerion Banned Banned

    Are you kidding me? I've never said his argument was nonsense. I have said that I didn't think his proposed scenario was as possible as the one I subscribe to, but I allowed that it's an opinion and not being presented as fact. What I said was nonsense was his statement that the concept of god was the same as the ability to conceptualize god. That's all. There's nothing nonsensical about the idea of the god concept having a single source. I said I didn't think it was very plausible, but I never said it was nonsense.

    If you're going to weigh in like this, please try to be accurate in your assessment of the arguments provided. Otherwise, stay the hell out. Nobody asked you to chime in, nobody needs you to chime in.
  8. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Example or I'll dismiss it.

    I have stated my introspection and definition of the god I am working with. But apparently my particular brand of metaphysics is not valid and you dismiss it out of hand, so.....?

    Yes, my definition of God as equivalent to the definition of Potential or "A latent excellence which may become reality".
    Hierarchically cosmological potential stems from pure zero point energy (Bohm's "insight intelligence"). This fundamental state allows for infinite causal potential (equivalent to the concept of god, to implicate (the deterministic process), to explicate (manifest) reality. A natural progression in four related steps.

    Obviously, as the earliest extrapolations occurred in the earliest hominids.
    Apparently you seem to have problems with that. Can't be related to monkeys now can we? How could apes possibly know about creation, no?

    Right, that is the function of the mirror neural network and when you cannot identify it, this extrapolation often becomes speculation and often wrong (as in optical illusions).

    No, no, you don't get to dismiss an entire scientific theory like that. Apparently you are not sufficiently acquainted with David Bohm. IMO, that is to your detriment.

    From wiki,

    The subject is the appearance of a concept of a supernatural being in diverse environments, no? Are you telling me now this concept can be precisely stated?
    I have stated three times that the concept of a supernatural god has been part of the hominid experience since the dawn of hominid intelligence. This fact can be observed today in primate behavior in the wild, which is in effect a glimpse back into history before our genetic mutation seperated us from our common ancestor.

    That's four assuptions on your part, you are either a brilliant psychologist or a troll.

    I see, and you have done your homework on this?

    And your position is founded on evidential truths?

    I was prepared to be impressed.

    On adherence to scientific principles of discovery.
  9. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    And disease and starvation and extinction and a host of things I do not like. Rid yourself of the notion that somehow man is important to the universe.

    Hmmmmmm, and here I thought God created man to please God, by worship, sacrifice, offerings, encantations and in general a submission to the messengers of God who bring us the revealed word of God so that we may worship HIM!!!!!

    Man is no more important to the Cosmological Wholeness than a virus.
  10. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Metonymy works by the contiguity (association) between two concepts, whereas metaphor works by the similarity between them. When people use metonymy, they do not typically wish to transfer qualities from one referent to another as they do with metaphor.

    So which is it?
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Well, again, it seems to go back to philosophy or any knowledge-related disciplines (like the natural sciences) being group or community endeavors ("us"), rather than an enterprise of "mine". Even Kant, after holding that there is a priori knowledge producing "his" appearances of the empirical world and cognition of its objects (really a system of faculties), had to be aware that he was "addressing" an audience and needed the latter, so that the "intuitions" and "concepts" underlying how all the experienced items hang together were not just applicable to him but universal to similar thinking, moral beings.

    In a sense, this is not unlike what a monism preaches (or in the kind treating all phenomena as independent of sensibility and understanding), where the seemed pluralism of multiple entities (in the beginning) must be subsumed under the same principle or substance or general laws for interaction or causal relations to be possible between them ("Wow, we seem to not only be able be talk to each other, but to be able to talk about the same world." [Or so it has been claimed by certain authorities]). In Kant's philosophy, however, the regulating principles are just internalized rather than externalized: The forms of appearances (space and time) which represent things as co-existing and the forms of cognition (quantity, quality, relation, modality) that apprehend and co-ordinate them further in reflective thought. But this same "plan" is globally "distributed" and "installed" to "things" that are rational beings. Their operating system is "Reason" rather than Windows.

    Kant did allow that some perceptual qualities may vary from person to person (in less drastic manners than clinical conditions like color-blindness, mental illness, etc). There's a suggestion of that emerging in science research now, depending on how much stock could be placed in the inferences of these two characters:

    Setting aside what might be explained as different ideologies and methods having different standards and presuppositions... This may or may not be where various continental philosophers, postmodernists, and neopragmatists -- in resting upon and either splintering away from or trying to refine further what Kant hath wrought with his great earthquake, could chime in. But my impression is that even most of those adhere to anyone's "interpretation" belonging to or arising in some cultural bloc (a lesser degree of universal), rather than each of us being a full-fledged loner sporting her/his own utterly unique world.
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    This is a discussion forum. I will "chime in" when and where I want to. I do not require your permission to post. You do not "own" any threads here.

    Back in your box.
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I find that philosophy or any knowledge-related disciplines are necessarily both community endeavors, as well as individual endeavors.

    One strain of discussion in this thread has been about empiricism. The empiricists are taking the individual entirely out of the picture. How can they do that? How can they, they themselves being individuals, do that? How do they come to the point of seeing themselves as an oracle, and that everyone else should see them as an oracle?

    Even though they are individuals, they propose to be speaking from a position of authority that transcends the individual. How could they, as individuals, with all the flaws and biases that are inherent to individuals, nevertheless recognize who or what is the authority on "how things really are"? And how could they,
    as individuals, with all the flaws and biases that are inherent to individuals, nevertheless conclude that they themselves are to be taken as speakers of this truth about "how things really are," while other individuals need to submit to them, seeing themselves as flawed, defective or dishonest?

    On the other hand, theists who claim to know the truth about "how things really are" and that as such, everyone else should submit to them, are doing the same thing. Those theists, too, dismiss their individuality, presuming they have transcended it, and that now, every word that comes out of their mouth is The Truth.

    How does any individual come to the point of assuming themselves to be neutral, objective, not an individual anymore?

    How does an individual come to the point of not having a perspective anymore? Or to the assumption that they have transcended the limitations of perspective?

    People in some primitive tribes are said to have no concept of perspective; that in their speech, they don't use phrases like "I think that ..." or "She thinks that ..." nor "In my opinion ..." Instead, they speak in declarative sentences in the third person - "This is so, that is that way; this is good, that is bad; this is right, that is wrong."
    Note that people in the modern world tend to speak like that too, presenting their statements as if they would be the objective truth, and not their personal opinion.

    Sure. At the same time, it was he, Immanuel Kant, that was speaking. He, Immanuel Kant, with all his personal intentions, desires, biases etc.

    There seems to be the idea that people are like different faucets, but from which flows the same water. Ie. even though people may seem different, when they open their mouth, the same thing comes out.

    But this was still a person, an individual, saying that. It didn't say itself. It was Immanuel Kant who said it.
    This is the problem with monisms: they don't speak for themselves, it's always an individual person who speaks for them.

    The fact is that there is disagreement and conflict between people, and this is a big issue for many people, and they want it resolved.
    If we are to posit that all people are essentially the same, then how do we explain the existence of disagreement and conflict, and how do we approach resolving it?

    Like I said in the beginning, I find that philosophy or any knowledge-related disciplines are necessarily both community endeavors, as well as individual endeavors.
    Even as the individual is part of a social group, it is the individual who has knowledge, it is the individual who speaks, not the group. Even if the individual is chanting along in a choir, or if he utters sentences in the first person plural. Individuality doesn't stop with membership in a group.

    Desires and intentions apply on the level of the individual. Nobody can breathe, eat, sleep, work, nor think or speak for another person. Each of us does this for themselves, there is no other way, even as we try to delegate our tasks or have others try to impose them on themselves.
  14. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    It seems you are able or willing to consider only two options: hero or zero. Either man is most important to the Universe or God; or man is completely irrelevant to the Universe or God.

    Such a dichotomy may be the consequence of believing that the body is essentially all there is to a human, and that when the body dies, the person dies.
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    You made a couple of posts earlier that I haven't responded to. I appreciate the time and effort you put into them. With apologies in advance for repeating the same point several times, I will try to respond to each point as you made them.

    Isn't it obvious? Different religions worship different gods. Some have one god, some have many. Some don't have gods, as such, but ancestor spirits or animistic spirits. In other words, the various specific truth claims they make are different, and in many cases contradictory. Either there is one god or many. Either god lives on that mountain or god lives in the sky. etc.

    To claim compatibility, you would have to resort to much more general statements, such as "religions believe there are supernatural entities (one or more)". But concentrating on one or two general common features ignores the vast features that various religions do not have in common.

    Scientific ideas of authority are somewhat different from religious ones. To explore that particular issue properly would require much more time and effort than I have available. The question is an important one in the philosophy of science, so at this point I can only urge you to read an introductory text on that topic.

    But there is demonstrably more to the daughter than just the foot. Whereas with God, you seem to be simply assuming that there's more to the universe than what we can see via empiricism.

    It sounds like you're saying that God is only knowable through direct personal experience. Is that right?

    As for your point about empiricism, I would say that science is about model-building. There are many things posited by scientific theories that we cannot directly observe, including electrons, quarks and black holes. The question of whether an electron is "real", let alone part of a "larger reality" is somewhat beside the point. Electrons are a useful device for helping us to understand our world.

    Now, it could be that you're arguing that God is similarly a useful device to help explain our world, but I don't think that's what you're arguing at all. You seem to be claiming that God is real, but we can't prove it. So, it comes down to a statement that you personally feel like God is real. And that's the most you can say.

    I still don't understand what these "explicit terms" of your actually are. For example, you use the example of a cup of flour. Is a cup of flour an explicit term? It sounds like you think it is. But I'll get to that in a moment.

    I am not convinced that we have any experience of a cup of flour, let along of God, that cannot be confirmed by empirical means, at least in principle. It is true that my individual experience of the smell of a rose cannot yet be fully quantified or reproduced, but that is only because we don't yet know enough about how my brain works and how sensory perceptions interact with the psychological experience. I see no reason to conclude that a rose, or a cup of flour, has any mysterious essence that science cannot capture, at least in principle.

    When it comes to God, many people claim to have personal experiences of God. Probably you're one of them. But I am not convinced that your categorisation of such experiences as direct perception of the "explicit" is correct. I think that such experiences are essentially explainable in the same way that the smell of the rose is explainable.

    Every description or recording of an experience leaves something out. And that includes memory, by the way. It's partly a matter of the space required to store the information. Thus a written description of a rose is probably not as complete a description as a photograph of a rose, which is not as complete as a video recording, which is not as complete as a smell-o-vision recording, etc. But this is a technological issue, not a fundamental failure of our potential capacity to capture an experience.

    Your piano example is interesting. Obviously, people are taught all the time (or learn otherwise) to play the piano. Again, I am not convinced that knowledge of the "explicitness" of playing the piano is necessary to learn how to play the piano. I'm not convinced there is any more to playing the piano than what is empirically accessible, at least in principle.

    Sorry to harp on the same point, but I don't see any way in which associating a red dress with a loved person is in any way inaccessible to empirical investigation. In fact, studies have been done on the way that people tend to regard objects as being "special" because they have an association with a person. For example, many people, when told that a particular jacket was once worn by Adolf Hitler, will refuse to wear it. It's a bit like a superstition.

    There are obvious reasons why the death of a loved child is more significant to a person than the loss of the services of a particular mechanic. I don't think you need to invoke the "explicit" to explain that.

    I think that once you reduce a cup to its individual molecules or atoms, you're looking at it on a different level that largely obviates its "cupness". I don't believe there is an "essence of cup of flour" beyond what we see, touch, taste, smell and so on.

    But it seems to me that you're referring to an end to the process of possible simplification of the cup of flour. The flour is made of molecules of this and that. The molecules are made of atoms. The atoms are made of electrons and protons and neutrons. The protons are made of quarks. The quarks are... what?

    I think you imagine that we can continue this process forever, breaking the quarks into smaller and smaller pieces, and we'll never get to the bottom. Therefore, you conclude, there's an "explicit" substance that reductionism can't find. I have two problems with that. One is that I don't think that matter is a bottomless heirarchy; in fact I suspect we're about one step from the bottom at our current state of knowledge. The other problem is that I don't see any evidence for the kind of tacit/explicit discontinuity that you assert exists in all things. I don't believe that a cup of flour is anything more than the sum of its constituent parts, whatever they are. There's simply no reason to believe that there's anything more to it, as far as I can see. Moreover, and this is important, I don't think there's any way for a person such as yourself to have direct access to the "explicit" cup of flour you say exists.

    When it comes to God, I suppose you would say that it is God who puts the "explicitness" into that cup of flour. And it seems that the only access we have to God, according to you, is through this same kind of unprovable direct perception.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Sorry. I think I understand what you're saying better now.

    It was a mental slip, as is obvious from what follows later in the same post.

    Obviously, I should have written that God is explicit there, not that he isn't.

    I think I get it. See my post immediately above this one.

    I have many demands on my time. Sometimes I can't get back to a complex post for some time. Sometimes things slip through the cracks and I end up not responding at all. Please don't take it personally.

    Yes. Ok. What I'm saying is that there's no good reason to believe that God exists. Even the assumption that there are "explicit" things in your sense is just that - an assumption. As far as I can see...

    I'm not sure. For my own part, I'm not convinced that any explicit terms exist.

    Yes. I understand the point.

    You're probably right.

    Our disagreement here is not scientific, but philosophical.

    Probably this is one reason why religious people such as yourself often find yourself talking at cross-purposes with science types. You're actually both talking about different things. There's no point in talking about evidence for God unless the participants can agree that evidence is obtainable, at least in principle.

    That would be true if explicit terms actually exist. But as far as I can tell, there's no reason to think they do.

    That's your argument. Obviously, somebody who doesn't believe in explicit terms has no reason to think empiricism is not a valid tool.
  17. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    One definition of tacid (among others) is the "implicate" . But the property of Implication (in physical/energetic expression) is the very definition of Potential.
    Because we are restricted from seeing everything at all times. We have to fix a moment in spacetime to make a tiny and limited human experience of reality (observation) Explicate.
    The present "cup of flour" implies a future probability of a "cake". To say there is a god implied in the universe is no different than saying that a cake is implied in a cup of flour.
    IMO, humans are sentient entities unto themselves, just like any sentient organism. We just attach an abstract meaning to sentience. Why are we here?
    I know the answer, we are here for God's pleasure.
    Correction, I know it just has to be the inherent Potential of this universe..
  18. Balerion Banned Banned

    Fair enough. My post went a step too far; I should have left it at the correction of your assessment. My apologies.
  19. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    No, it's not obvious why religions would be incompatible. It's especially not clear why they should be compatible.

    You are apparently going with your mind where you didn't go with your feet. -

    I think a big problem with understanding religious variety (or any variety for that matter) is that people are trying to find compatibility in an entirely virtual, abstract context that has no referent in the real world. Like trying to solve a virtual problem, virtually, and then finding that the solution seems to have no real-world application.

    Real people who live in situations of religious diversity experience the situation quite differently, and we would have to look at it on a case-by-case basis.
    As an example, take a neighborhood in an Indian town where one half is Muslim and the other is Hindu, and there is strife and conflict among the two, with occasional outbursts of aggression. How to reduce the strife? How to understand the conflict?
    I think that trying to answer which religion of the two, if any, is the right one, or trying to find compatibility between the two, is not a viable solution. What seems to work best is for each side to mind their own business.

    Actually, there is a lot more to empiricism than empiricists are willing to acknowledge.

    How do you know that this

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    is an image of an apple?

    It's more like there are different levels of knowing things, people.

    I can know a picture of you, or your name, or your shoe size. But that is not the same as knowing you.

    When you're hungry, you need real food, ie. you need the explicit term, the actual meal.
    Trying to still your hunger by looking at a photograph of food or by listening to names of dishes (ie. the implicit terms) won't do.

    Actually learning to play the piano is the explicit thing.
    Talking about learning to play the piano is an implicit thing.

    Of course there is. You can take it into your hands, you can bake with it, etc. You can't do that with a photograph of a cup of flour, or with the words "cup of flour."

    One way to understand explicit terms:

    You are explicit.
    A photograph of you is not explicitly you, it is only metonymically you.

    Touching a photograph of you is not the same as touching you. By touching a photograph of you, one does not touch you.

    Empiricism is like touching photographs of things, while assuming one is actually touching the photographed things themselves.
  20. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I think that sentence would have made more sense if you had used the word "possible" or "hypothetical", rather than "explicit". ("Possible" would take account of the fact that we likely don't know everything that there is to know about any object of consideration. There's probably always going to be more left to discover.) But, if these additional "explicit" properties of yours "evade empirical investigation", then how do human beings ever come to learn about them? In what sense are you labeling them "explicit"?

    I guess that I might agree that some objects of discussion, even fictional ones like 'Sherlock Holmes' and (so I'd argue) 'God', have what we might call 'narrative properties'. Properties that people say the objects have, not through any direct inspection of the object itself (which might be impossible in principle if the object doesn't exist), but rather through hearing other people tell stories that feature the object. Sherlock Holmes was certifiably brilliant, albeit arrogant and quite peculiar. Despite his never actually existing.

    Those sound like Greek philosophical ideas ('summum bonum' seems to derive from the Platonism's highest 'form of the Good') that were gradually identified with the older and highly personalized Hebrew idea of Yahweh, as Judeo-Christian philosophical theology emerged in the early Christian centuries. (Philo, Clement, Origen and their many successors.)

    That's probably a good example of what I just called 'narrative properties'. We supposedly know that whatever supernatural being the word 'God' is supposed to refer to possesses all these 'omni-' properties... because people have long said that he does, and those descriptions have entered into and became a fundamental part of Christian (and subsequently Islamic) tradition.

    One question is how human beings could possibly have learned about the the kind of supernatural properties that this "standard definition of God" bestows on its 'God' character. Another question is why people who aren't already believing adherents of a narrative tradition that says such things should accept what the tradition says as being true or accurate about anything that exists beyond the words of the story.
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Right. The fact that human beings don't already know everything about everything isn't an argument for theism. At best, it's just an acknowledgement that the unknown is still out there. That doesn't authorize us to say anything concrete about what the unknown contains. It's actually the recognition of our agnosticism about the transcendental stuff.

    The challenge for the theists is to provide some plausible account of how their doctrines have supposedly been moved from the blankness of the unknown into the light of the known. Why are their particular choices of definitions and stories about this 'God' character something more than just another repetition of some historical tradition? There needs to be some convincing reason why people outside the tradition who don't already believe in its truth should join in thinking that the 'God' word does possess an existing reference and and that what the theists tell us about 'God' is both true and informative.
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    If you're not a Palestinian, don't live in Palestine or anywhere near, nor have any family, business or other ties in Palestine, should you try to solve the problems in Palestine?


    IOW, I think this is where some non-theists have it most wrong: In that they put themselves into a passive position, and accept as theirs a problem simply because someone else is saying it is theirs or that it is a problem.

    The burden of understanding is on the one who wants to understand, not on the one who claims to understand or wants others to understand.

    I myself am not a theist, nor am I defending theism. I'm coming from an introspective, somewhat Buddhist oriented position.
    There is a million problems one could think about and attempt to solve, a million things that one could request that others would explain. But if those problems are not one's own, in trying to solve them, one would be merely a busybody with too much time on their hands, wasting that time, and not solving them anyway.
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Indeed, why should you accept that?

    I mean, put yourself in the mode of Buddhist introspective meditation, reflect on your intentions and desires, and then ask yourself "Why should I accept what the theists are telling me?"

    and then "How come this question has been on my mind so much?"

    What intentions and desires come up in your mind?

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