• Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    Part of the problem is whether the idea of God is meant to imply an actual entity or a symbolic picture of whatever exists metaphysically. The one aspect of Dawkins' writing which did impress me was the way in which he translates some of the incongruencies in Einstein's comments about God to be about 'God' as a metaphor. This may correspond with Schopenhauer's idea of will or Hegel's idea of spirit. Of course, I realise that this understanding of God is extremely different from the way most church-goers consider, although I would imagine that they may vary in their ideas.

    Of course, the concept of God is a loaded term and, as @Tom Storm suggests, it may be that the idea of God is so imprecise that it is often better to use another one. Nevertheless, the issue or questions about God don't go away. It is rare for there not to be at least one thread on the front page of this forum for or against God. The concept seems to be central to understanding life and philosophy, including those who argue for and against the existence of God.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    The one aspect of Dawkins' writing which did impress me was the way in which he translates some of the incongruencies in Einstein's comments about God to be about 'God' as a metaphor.Jack Cummins
    I don't recall this exactly (it's been about 15 years since I've read The God Delusion) but this is what Einstein means by "God" – more than "a metaphor" – in his own words :fire:
    I believe in Spinoza's God, Who reveals Himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God Who concerns Himself with the fate and the doings of mankind. — response to Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein'
    I can understand your aversion to the use of the term 'religion' to describe an emotional and psychological attitude which shows itself most clearly in Spinoza... I have not found a better expression than 'religious' for the trust in the rational nature of reality that is, at least to a certain extent, accessible to human reason. — letter to Maurice Solovine
    in contrast to popular or traditional meaning
    The word ‘God’ is for me nothing but the expression and product of human weaknesses; the Bible a collection of venerable but still rather primitive legends. — letter to Eric Gutkind
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/einsteins-famous-god-letter-is-up-for-auction/
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I wonder to what extent those who believe in Spinoza' s God may be considered to be theists or atheists? That is one of the areas where the strict divisions between the two become complex. Dawkins argues that his ,'The God Delusion' is not intended to be about Einstein's understanding of God and that he simply wished 'to get Einsteinian religion out of the way to begin with: it has a proven capacity to confuse.' In spite of this intention, I found his discussion on Einstein, and on atheism and pantheism to be the best part of the book, because it is such a fuzzy area.

    He does not regard Einstein as being a theist, but points to the complexities arising, especially in terms of the ideas of pantheism and deism. Dawkins says the following:
    'In many theistic belief systems, the deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them (or even think of doing them). A desist too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws of the universe. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings.'

    He points to the way in which pantheists adopt 'a metaphorical or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe.' Dawkins also states, 'Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism. ' It seems that this whole area is blurry and this could be a problem with strict use of terms, including theism and atheism. It may be that use of the terms is a way of clarifying ideas, but it is important that it is done in such a way as to elucidate the concepts rather simply putting ideas into boxes because sometimes the boxes themselves are not strong enough to hold the concepts fully.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    I wonder to what extent those who believe in Spinoza' s God may be considered to be theists or atheists?Jack Cummins
    Being a Spinozist, I consider myself an – to coin a phrase – ecstatic naturalist, with a strong affinity for pandeism as mentioned elsewhere . Maimon, Hegel, Deleuze et al, I think correctly, describe Spinoza's position as acosmism (similiar to Advaita Vedanta) in contrast to "pantheism" of which academic fashion always has been overly (simplistically) fond.

    Dawkins also states, 'Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism. '
    How trite and dismissive ...

    'Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings.' [R. Dawkins]
    Again, more superficialities. Pantheism consists in a description of nature itself as supernatural, or divine, where 'creator is not separate from creation' as its active principle (e.g. "process ontology" ~ Whitehead). This is analogous to Spinoza's natura naturans which, no doubt, is why he's so often misinterpreted as a "pantheist". In any case, IMO, Dawkins embarrasses himself with such unnuanced and shallow misreadings of philosophy as well as (biblical) theology, and is not taken very seriously outside of evolutionary biology.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    Yes, I did wonder if Dawkins was reading correctly in his understanding because I have not read that much on pantheism. I do wish to because all these aspects are important in thinking of the question of God's existence. Sometimes, reading interpretations which are misreadings can be problematic, and sifting them out.

    I have started reading Spinoza's writings. Unfortunately, I often start too many at once, which mean that some get pushed aside. There just seems to be so much reading to be done and it does mean that it is likely to be a life long task.
  • Janus
    13k
    every claimNickolasgaspar

    Not trying to prove anything means not making a claim. In which case asking for justification of what is presented is inapt. But by all means continue in your inaptitude...it's amusing.
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    I wonder to what extent those who believe in Spinoza' s God may be considered to be theists or atheists?Jack Cummins
    Somewhere in the middle. Spinoza's God/Nature may be too close to Pantheism for the comfort of Atheists. And it was dismissed by his contemporary Blaise Pascal as the impotent "god of philosophers", lacking an offer of salvation. But, the notion of identifying God & Nature could be acceptable to Deists, who believe in a Supreme Being or First Cause of some kind, but not one who violates natural laws with miracles. :smile:
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    @Jack Cummins
    Somewhere in the middle.Gnomon
    Nope. You shit the bed again, G. :sweat:

    Pay attention! Deists, like theists, believe that "God" is ontologically separate from Nature (i.e. metaphysical transcendence). Spinoza argues that, in effect, there aren't any entities ontologically separate from Nature (i.e. metaphysical immanence) and that only Nature's 'physical laws' are divine (real), which is contrary to both deism and pan/theism.
  • Haglund
    802
    I can see why the new atheists, headed by the great leaders like Dawkins, Harris, Dennet, Hofstadter, Pinker, and more of the spotless minds, don't like "the concept of god(s)" as the rather haughty call it. It's their fear of something that they can't understand to be really there, making them search for rational means to exclude "the concept" by reference to procedures they embrace.
  • Tom Storm
    5.3k
    It's their fear of something that they can't understand to be really there, making them search for rational means to exclude "the concept" by reference to procedures they embrace.Haglund

    That might be true, but can you provide evidence for this claim, or is it just a cheap smear you are using because you resent atheism? Please advise...

    Oh, and while you are about it, do you have proof of God? :wink:
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    :up:

    "Old atheists" conceptually reject god-beliefs whereas "new atheists" rhetorically reject god-literalists – both in response to "religious theists" who, in the main, believe the unbelievable (magic) in defense of the indefensible (theodicy, martyrdom). "New atheists" happen to be media savants seemingly driven to proselytize (mostly) in "developed" societies against manifest (popular) forms of anti-secularism & anti-intellectualism; on balance, I think this one-trick-pony "movement" has been a good thing (so far) in the US.
  • Fooloso4
    3.7k


    Why do you think Spinoza used the term 'God'? It is for theologico-political and ethical reasons? One might think his signet "caute" would warn against it, but it is more than likely that he acted with due care. The term 'infinite' might have avoided the connection with the assumptions and associations connected to 'God' and 'nature', but it is perhaps for this very reason that he deliberately chose them.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Why do you think Spinoza used the term 'God'? It is for theologico-political and ethical reasons?Fooloso4
    I think Spinoza uses "God" in contrast to religious (scriptural) usage in order to de-anthropomorphize reality – the necessarily independent process upon which all facts and things necessarily depend. From the (speculative) perspective of eternity, Spinoza's "God" is the unmanifest, impersonal being of all manifest beings, that is, synonymous with the laws (structure) of nature while not reductively identical to natural things themselves. Deus, sive natura =/= natura deus est. A 'metaphysical conception' that is also deflationary of irrational sectarian (ecclesiastical) dogmas about "the Word of God" and thereby argues for (maximally) opening up, or expanding, secular spaces for rational free inquiry and free expression as the basis of what Spinoza thought of as 'a well-ordered, reasonably stable & secure society' which was a radical critique of prevailing theocratic monarchism still ravaging Europe to Spinoza's day after centuries of religious wars & pogroms. Caute indeed.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I don't know where this stands in relation to deism, but my concept of whatever reality or metaphorical reality of 'God' is that it is imminent in reality, as opposed to separate from it. From what I have read of or about Spinoza so far indicates a kind of imminent reality. However, that would imply, to some extent, more of an underlying reason underlying nature. This may not be entirely abstract, and may even be about the spirit of nature itself, including Gaia, the earth. But, I am sure that this is very different from Spinoza's philosophy, and, of course, he was writing in an entirely different era of history.
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I definitely believe that there is a middle ground between theism and atheism. Spinoza may get into this area, as well as Jung, even though they are coming from a different angle. The middle ground is something which I have been thinking about since Easter last year. It was during a debate about Jung, and it seemed to me that both theism and atheism were true or false to some extent.

    It is all about interpretation and I do wonder if there is a middle ground rather than theism and atheism and I don't mean agnosticism because that is like a waiting area to make a choice. I wonder if both the labels theism and atheism are too limited, because the essential aspects of reality, whether called God or not are way all encompassing. In some ways, what I am saying could be interpreted like some kind of mystical argument about reality and I am not intending to do so. That is because mysticism is inclined to dismiss explanations, whereas philosophy is about trying to find words and explanations. To use the word God may gloss over many gaps in philosophy, but, on the other hand, the theist vs atheist debate may be too neat and tidy from my point of view.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    My last post describes Spinoza's nomological-ontological conception of immanence (i.e. reality aka substance) such that there is not any "underlying reason underlying nature" because nature itself is (its own) reason (re: Ethics, Part 1 "Of God" ~31pp.) :fire:
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    I did realise that you said that Spinoza, spoke of immanence. I may have a read of his writings today. Of course, it is human beings who construct reasons rather than these being existent in nature itself. Even the idea of natural selection is the human grasp of how it works. However, it may be that human consciousness is part of the imminent reality often projected onto God, as Schopenhauer describes as will and the 'thing in itself' described by Kant. The source of the numinous may be part of the realisation of consciousness and awareness itself.
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    It is all about interpretation and I do wonder if there is a middle ground rather than theism and atheism and I don't mean agnosticism because that is like a waiting area to make a choiceJack Cummins
    Yes. Both Atheists and Theists have some good arguments to support their polarized positions : magic vs matter. But they are both Gnostic, in the sense that they feel sure they know the true answer to the God Question. That's why I sometimes describe myself as an Agnostic Deist. Because I have concluded that logically there should be a First & Final Cause of our temporary universe, and a comprehensive holistic Aspect/Entity of our dynamic, many-minded world. But my limited mind can't wrap around an uncaused Cause or an unbounded Mind.

    Therefore, all I know about everything-actual-&-possible is just-a-theory. And, as a mere speck in the cosmic whole -- a fleeting instant in eternity -- I know nothing for sure about such all-encompassing generalities, universals & absolutes. So I can only think in terms of philosophical principles & poetic metaphors & rational speculations. For example, Cosmologists viewing the universe from the inside -- and from a materialist perspective -- construct imaginary models of what it would look like from the outside. Those speculative constructs typically look like either bubbles of unspecified-something, or evolving horns of burgeoning plenty, or in some cases as topological toroid rings. Yet, they are all pictured floating in the black emptiness of the unknown. And, they are all imaginary materialistic metaphors for a mind-boggling mystery.

    As an Agnostic, I am ignorant of the Mind of God. I have no direct revelation from the Source. And yet, I am motivated to know what can be known about my cosmic context. So, I tend to use a variety of symbolic concepts, in a feeble attempt to comprehend the all-encompassing features & functions of the Logical All, of which you and I are minor parts. An alternative way to think of the Cosmos, including Life & Mind, is not as a place in space or time, but as a universal state of consciousness. Like Plato's Forms, which are not “out there”, but everywhere, everywhen, all-at-once.

    However, Atheists might say there's no such thing as Everything, outside space-time. And Theists could object that my skimpy theory has no place for Favored People, or for salvation from imperfect Reality. Also, in my incomplete Agnostic theory of Everything, the world does not revolve around me or my kind. It's just a way to know a little something about the vast unknowable, and to make sense of the "blooming buzzing confusion" of incoming signals. Meanwhile, I'm content to wait for omniscience to set-in, before I place my faith in a mystery, or abandon all hope. :cool:

    PS__There are several ways to interpret the general idea of an intentional universe. For example a> Panpsychism/Pantheism/PanDeism/PanEnDeism ; b> universe as mathematical simulation (a la Matrix) ; c> gestation of a baby god (a la Omega Point) ; and so forth. But I try not to get too specific in my speculations into the dark realm of manifold Possibilities . . . or too fantastic.


    MULTIVERSE : AN UNBOUNDED SPHERE OF MANY SPHERES
    42-46205410.jpg
    PROGRESSION FROM BIG BANG TO BIG RIP
    Big-Bang-to-Big-Rip-Illustration.jpg
    COSMIC DONUT
    960x0.jpg?fit=bounds&format=jpg&width=960
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    You present a good argument for agnosticism and one which counters Jung's argument, 'I don't believe, I know'. Jung's epistemology was based on his idea of knowledge not being possible but gained through intuition, which he derived from Kant. The problem is to what extent can intuitive knowledge be certain, and why in spite of ideas in the mind it hard to know to what extent they are fantasy or correct, making the idea of God an aspect of imagination and speculation. The outer basis of knowledge is evident, but the source is hard to trace, even though some may be try to fill in the gap of unknowing as 'God, because the mind itself can only go so far in the perception of everything...
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    ↪Gnomon
    You present a good argument for agnosticism...
    Jack Cummins
    I missed that one. :sweat:
  • Tom Storm
    5.3k
    Jung's epistemology was based on his idea of knowledge not being possible but gained through intuition, which he derived from Kant.Jack Cummins

    I always understood that he arrived at this through Gnosticism not Kant.

    Personally I always understood intuitive knowledge to be faith dressed up in big boy pants. It is still the case that anyone can justify anything via intuitive knowledge. The last racist I argued with told me that certain people were inferior to white people because in his words - 'I just know.'
  • Jack Cummins
    4.4k

    My understanding is that Jung read Kant as well as Gnosticism. He blends the two together to come up with the emphasis on 'God' as known within the psyche.

    Intuition has some role in life and discovery but can be used in all sorts of erroneous ways in arguments. It is a bit like the idea of countertransference, which is intuition in therapy, in which it is possible to use as a basis for arguments for whatever one chooses to suggest or fabricate.
  • 180 Proof
    10.2k
    Personally I always understood intuitive knowledge to be faith dressed up in big boy pants.
    — Tom Storm

    Intuition has some role in life and discovery but can be used in all sorts of erroneous ways in arguments.
    Jack Cummins
    Ergo evidence-based inquiries (e.g. history, science, applied mathematics, etc) and reflective practices (e.g. political accountability, ecological sustainability, class struggle, etc) are indispensable for adaptive conduct with respect to nature – the immanent realities (domains) – within which "we" (metacognitive agents) as natural species-beings (not just apes, not yet angels) are both enabled and constrained. IMHO, at best, New Agery (i.e. perennially fashionable "transcendent(al)" folk intuitions e.g. Jungian psycho-mythology :sparkle: ) is just "self-help" pseudoscience ... :zip:
  • Gnomon
    2.6k
    You present a good argument for agnosticism and one which counters Jung's argument, 'I don't believe, I know'.Jack Cummins
    I found an article that quoted a TV interview some time before Jung's controversial quote you mentioned. At that time he sounded certain of the existence of a god "who's nature is beyond human comprehension". Apparently, he was censured for making such a bold Gnostic assertion. However, he also acknowledged that what he "knew" was more emotional than intellectual. Yet, my own Agnostic belief is more intellectual than emotional. But, I suppose both of us fit somewhere in the middle of the range from Theism to Atheism.

    So, a more positive label for my semi-belief is Deism, sometimes defined as "rationalistic theology". Intellectually, and based on general evidence from science*1, I believe there must be a First Cause with omni-potential for the full range of outcomes, both good & evil, which are manifested in the imperfect world that we inhabit. Hence, I label my have-it-both-ways non-committal philosophical worldview as BothAnd. That's how I deal with the theological "Problem of Evil" for monotheism, which describes God as goodness personified, yet sneaks in an evil deity through the back door.

    Such a wishy-washy worldview is not sufficient to motivate a religious commitment. But, it's acceptable for philosophical humility, as a wise man once admonished his listeners to keep an open mind, by admitting paradoxically : "I know that I know nothing". :cool:

    *1. e.g. Evidence from science that evolution is progressive & self-organizing (Enformy), instead of self-destructing (Entropy), as you would expect from a random or accidental reality. Hence, the implication of Teleological & Intentional Design. But, the Hegelian method of "progression" is bottom-up heuristic (trial & error) instead of top-down divine fiat. Even human-designed computer programs have adopted the trial & error method of reaching the best possible compromise solution : Evolutionary Programming.

    Jung's need to know :
    All that I have learned has led me step by step to an unshakable conviction of the existence of God. I only believe in what I know. And that eliminates believing. Therefore I do not take his existence on belief – I know that he exists (Sands 1955, p. 6) . . . .
    In Jung’s view, the truth about God is complex because God is a mystery whose nature is beyond human comprehension. . . .
    The God-image is the expression of an underlying experience of something which I cannot attain to by intellectual means…

    https://steve.myers.co/jungs-regret-over-i-dont-need-to-believe-i-know/

    Evolutionary Programming :
    Special computer algorithms inspired by biological Natural Selection. It is similar to Genetic Programming in that it relies on internal competition between random alternative solutions to weed-out inferior results, and to pass-on superior answers to the next generation of algorithms. By means of such optimizing feedback loops, evolution is able to make progress toward the best possible solution – limited only by local restraints – to the original programmer’s goal or purpose. In Enformationism theory the Prime Programmer is portrayed as a creative principle (e.g. Logos), who uses bottom-up mechanisms, rather than top-down miracles, to produce a world with both freedom & determinism, order & meaning.
    BothAnd Blog Glossary
    121917_USC_Machine_Learning_Evolution_Laboratory_evolutionary.large.jpg?1513706353&1513706352
  • Haglund
    802


    A yes. Barking Barugh Baruch AKA as The Howling Dutchman. Unduly launching God to let Him land smoothly in the unchangeable, eternal, omnipotent, and omnipresent laws of Nature, providing Leibniz with the raw divine material for his pre-established harmony to inject his immortal divine soul into. A strong duo-package, liberating mankind from the tightening constraints of God.
1234Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.