There’s been a lot of activity here since I checked, so this will be long. My apologies.
“God is a creator, not a creature.”
Interbane’s point on creature vs creator is really the crux. You are asserting a divine force is present and that we must begin debates with that subject settled. I say, that that is exactly the point in contest.
Either there is a supernatural entity with unlimited, complete power and dominion over everything that ever was or will be. One who made the world for our enjoyment and rewards good people, utilizing his universe-level powers to respond to our demands and improve our individual lives, and punishes the people we can’t get even with in life. For which there is no empirical evidence to be found, all proofs arising from the introspective and anthropomorphized projections of man.
We made it up to feel good about ourselves.
One of these adds layers and layers of complex unknowable opacity, while the other deals with readily studied psychological processes observed on a daily basis throughout the animal kingdom.
If you hadn’t been raised with a notion of God impregnated in your imagination from youth, as an adult, which of these solutions would be the more likely?
If you are subtracting a divine being, which some of your statements lead me to believe, and asserting instead a divine “force for good” or love, then what are we really talking about? Any force for good must have some differentiating component to distinguish good form bad (or it would just be a force) and that makes it a reasoning, or at least discriminating entity, and we are back to a nonsensical man in the sky (or entity god) plagued with the same infinite improbabilities.
If there is simply a creative principle, such as when conditions are right for the formation of a water molecule, the molecule does form, this does not lend itself to anything written in the bible.
Explaining a complex and challenging idea in terms a layman can understand does not necessarily need to invoke magical thinking.
Two ways to simplistically describe a Laser, for instance.
Generate a powerful beam of energy, focus it with mirrors and lenses to a tiny concentrated area.
Elves deep in the earth burn infinitely hot furnaces and poor the heat into bags that pixies deliver to our scientists and dump into a box called a laser. Then, flip a switch and all that magic heat comes out, if it weren’t for the invisible hands of the Kraken holding that energy into a single beam, the energy would go everywhere.
Both give possible explanations for the workings of lasers. One sends the student down a ridiculous goose chase in which all this extra information must be learned about elves, and how long are the Kraken’s arms (or how many angels fit on the head of a pin).
If we don’t know specifically what is involved in creation, it does us no favor to attribute it to magic. Just say we don’t know yet, but we are working on it. In the mean time, here are the theories we are working on. Maybe some of the people you tell will take up where others left off and discover how these things really work instead of trying to find pixies.
“To speak of God as creature implies the creator is man”
“My suggestion that the Christian concept of God can be identified with a real creative principle at work in our universe does not imply God is an entity. Such an implication fails the test of Ockham's Razor, an unnecessary hypothesis which adds needless complexity.”
When you speak of the history of religion, the answer is yes: God (magical entity with limitless power who is obsessed with humanity while he has the entirety of creation to preside over) was created by man.
If you speak of a creative force, then why associate that with the concept of god? You burden yourself with unnecessary supernatural stories. These stories would seem to only apply if you are talking about some version of the Christian god, not a force such as electromagnetism. Otherwise your creative force may well be simply Strong Atomic Force.
“The insurance industry calls natural disasters acts of God, not because they postulate an entity planning all events, but from the same view as Saint Paul in Romans 1 that God is manifest in nature”
Hurricanes are an act of weather patterns. We know why hurricanes form. They require no god. Likewise we know how earthquakes happen, mudslides, lightning strikes, wild fires and lamp poles falling on your car. Any of these might be labeled as an act of god, but they are all events with well understood causes.
Imagining they are the work of a beneficent god bears us no fruit except guilt and hysteria. Would you rather be told, that built up tectonic energy was released and caused the destruction of your home, or that God was pissed at YOU and destroyed your house by having the earth swallow it up? Understanding brings peace of mind, and perhaps the wisdom to not build on a fault line.
“Your argument that the meaning of parables hangs on the historical truth of the gospels was discussed above by me with reference to Aesop and by Johnson with reference to Little Red Riding Hood. These are meaningful fictional parables.”
But not to be understood as historically accurate, or that a talking wolf does indeed dwell in the woods waiting to lure children into bed. Common religious teaching is that the parable delivered in the bible are the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. Based on this, the metaphysical claims of religion are false.
“38"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'[Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[Lev. 19:18] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you,
The point here is that Christianity is primarily based on the New Testament. Texts such as that just quoted indicate a new interpretation of God, a new covenant rejecting the wrathful vengeful God of the Old Testament in favour of a God who is manifest primarily in love and forgiveness.”
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (the Old Testament) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke or a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law (the Old Testament) until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)"
Could this not be viewed as explicit backing of the old testament and all it entails? Does this not just illustrate that the writings are contradictory, and therefore not the product of divine inspiration, and one mind working to build a source of ultimate truth?
You do note that the NT is inconsistent and seem to say we should not throw out the good with the bad. It also seems that you are indicating that things included in the bible are not wholly true, and that it is really a parable. If it is only a parable, and one found to be faulty in many respects, why should it dominate any moral agenda? Why should anyone live their lives by a parable? Parables in themselves, I think you would agree do not merit a real person’s strict adherence. No one should live their lives by the code of the three little pigs, or be confined by the doings of Paul Bunyan. To seize these particular parables you are exposing an underlying desire for them to be correct. Let them stand or fall on their own merit.
I accept the notion that you should “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” which comes from the bible. This is a good point of view and a solid way to live. That does not mean that any other portion of the bible needs to be followed. Just as I accept that I should build a sturdy house lest it be devastated by storms. That does not mean I should lend any credence to the big bad wolf.
“Interbane, you are insisting on trying to bend religious language into an empirical framework.”
Shouldn’t we? Why are exercises of the mind permitted this abstention from analysis which has proven so trustworthy in all of recorded history? Shouldn’t religion, which is often a power base from which to command others, be held to at least this level of accountability?
“This idea is not proposing anything contrary to the laws of physics, but adding a 'law' regarding the relationship between human life and the universe, that life in love is good.
Love works creatively through nature, and does not bend the universe to a supernatural will. However, when people lose their connection to love, they face a high risk of destruction, understood in purely Darwinian adaptive evolutionary terms.
This framework shows how the 'fictional story' helps to understand the universe in a way that is not open to merely empirical science. Love is a force that we have been influenced by, even if we find it hard to quantify.”
Received: 33 in 29 Posts
Love is powerful and what you say about it’s absence is true, but where do you get the concept that love exceeds the confines of the animal kingdom? Do volcanoes love? Do meteors love? Love is an evolutionary construct to ensure survival. Love does a fair job of keeping us all alive without the bible. There is no need to tie an artificial deity to the concept of love for it to work, or to be understood by the masses.
In any case when we look at the bible and read what it says we can see that what is written there is not empirically correct. If we take a point of view like what you express, that the bible is a sort of, I guess “interpretive” way of understanding god then we have already imposed a filter over what is written to try to shoe-horn it into sensibility. If it were right there would be little need to interpret it, or explain away the many contradictions.
If we keep it as just a moral lesson, then we would put it on the same level as tales by the Brothers Grim with not greater hold on the ultimate truths than any other, and it should hold no grip on us other than it’s merit as a story device.