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Featured Did God determine his own nature?

Discussion in 'Christian Philosophy & Ethics' started by Everybodyknows, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. Yes

  2. No

  3. Something else

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  1. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    I see all of your stipulations and can work within them, but I think that if we are seeking truth, the question of whether or not God has a mind - whether the universe is pantheist- meaning that God is the natural law that causes everything to be as it is, or is theist - meaning God has a mind and wills the universe into being - is the first great division on the answer to your question.

    The Pan-theos IS nature - it IS law, but it has no specific consciousness. So through the evolutionary process Pan-theos literally is self-creating, but without an intentional will. Einstein's and Spinoza's God really is God, but really isn't something you can talk to. Gravity, electromagnetism, strong force, weak force, time, entropy, space - these things ARE, and they are omnipresent, omnipotent and eternal (back to the Big Bang, when they may have autonomously sprung into being as a probability bubble in the quantum foam). They ARE God, but they are not a God that it does you any good to pray to, because it cannot hear and does not know anything. The intelligence of humans (and, if there is extraterrestrial life, that life also) may be God evolving TOWARDS intelligence such that EVENTUALLY there will be a Theos out of the Pan-Theos, but the only deity that can be presently seen by the eyes of a Spinoza or an Einstein was the immutable behavior of physical objects. That behavior is driven by a law, and that law is the pantheist's God. And It probably doesn't have a mind (other than ours, so we're the first beginnings of that future aspect of God as we evolve, driven by the Natural Law). This actually does answer your question, but with a different God from the one you speak of.

    Now, Einstein and Spinoza never witnessed, experienced (or believed in) a supernatural, law-breaking miracle, so they dd not have that in their fact set. Their God was immutable principle. Those who HAVE experienced miracles, or contact with the divine, know that there is more to the universe than just mindless laws - that those laws are subject to a conscious mind that can interact with people. THAT is the God you want to talk about. If I were an Einstein or a Spinoza, I would say that at this point we are spinning off into the speculative, unproven and unprovable - that there is no evidence of that God, so we may as well speak of unicorns.

    But I am fortunate enough to have experienced some miracles myself, so I have a bigger data set than Einstein or Spinoza had to work with. Therefore, I am pleased to go on talking about the Theist God, as you have asked, since He is real, and therefore is worth accepting the limitation on the use of the word.

    I would say truthfully that Pan-Theos is an ASPECT of Theos that gets disregarded in Western theological and philosophical discussion, because of a rather indefensible belief among Westerners that mind is superior to and of another nature from matter (and therefore Nature and material have nothing to say about it). I would observe that the Natural Law really IS God - an omnipotent aspect of God, but the most visible and immutable demonstration of what and who God is. The alpha aspect of God, if you will.

    I say this because the mind of God loves, but that love does not cause God to override his natural will. The mudslide still drowns the kids in the orphanage. Gods kindness comes primarily in the world of spirit after the inevitable death, and it is God - through his nature (Natural Law IS God's nature) - who kills us all each individually: the way we die, MUST die from this and that, is the direct working of his stubborn will when it comes to the material. Miracles are when he reaches in and changes an otherwise inevitable result, because it pleased him to do so, for his own reasons that we cannot usually fathom. Normally, he lets the kids drown, the volcanic ash bury the school, the hurricane drown the fishermen. And it isn't just that he LETS nature do that - Nature IS his nature, his law, and he can override it but doesn't - so in truth, God directly kills everybody. The agony that Jesus experienced on the cross and the giving out of his body, that too was God's direct work: he didn't waive his will (which is the Natural Law) and he didn't spare Jesus anything - he provided no miracle, and his inevitable will worked its inevitable, slow process of death.

    This is why I can agree to leave Pan-theos out of a further discussion, but why I think by doing so I am departing from the real true answer to your question, or part of it. The Laws of Nature ARE God, and they ARE God's Nature - the most important part of it, in fact, for they give us existence and administer death upon us. To separate out the thinking, loving part of God - the Theos - from the Pan-Theos is, I think, like separating the man from his brain and economic power.

    I won't be able to do that completely, to be honest, because if we leave the Pan-Theos, the Natural Law out, we are leaving the primary manifestion of God - the VISIBLE daily manifestation of God in the universe, out of the equation and talking about things on the margins.

    But I don't have to dwell on that either. I can pack all of that down into the atomic substructure of the discussion. To discuss God's nature, I have to refer back to the Four Fundamental Forces, Entropy, Space and Time, because that is how and why we know God exists at all: we're quite brutally subject to an irresistible and overwhelming force that both gives us existence and takes it away (unless there is a spirit that goes on).

    There is a spirit that goes on, and that is where Theos comes into our discussion. It's important. But even the most die-hard Greek matter/mind dualists (with mind much superior), if they are Christians, will insist that what you do during physical life is what matters, that after you're dead you cannot repent. There's no logical reason WHY you can't repent after death, if you're still a mind and moving along experiencing and reasoning, but the physical existence - life - is so impressive a thing to the mind/body , spirit/body dualists that they nevertheless have whole theologies that supremely privilege only what one does in life - when the spirit is enmeshed in the physical. That state is primary, the spirit alone can do nothing more, they say.

    But I'm not trying to fight a rearguard action here for Pan-Theism. I'm merely explaining that physical Nature - the physics - is our primary source for knowing the nature of Theos, because he has a mind, and THAT is specifically what his mind has created and enforces - brutally - on all. When we speak of the mercy of God, we are effectively asking God to spare us the full brunt of he being himself.

    Gravity and lightning are God's nature. So is thinking and loving. But the love in never enough to stop God's primary laws from tearing our bodies to pieces. Even those blessed by a saving miracle by Theos are eventually killed by Pan-Theos in another time place and manner. And Pan-Theos and Theos are the same person. The promise of the love comes after the matter has been scattered. Even Jesus died from oxygen deprivation to the brain.

    Leaving off the Natural Law means that we can't understand God's nature. So I can't do that. But I don't have to speak of it speculatively. When I speak of God - Theos - I will limit myself to the thinking God, that God you want to talk about. But I will speak of him as he is, and the overwhelming power of the Laws of Nature are the primary manifestation of what he is. The universe, visible and invisible, exists because Theos is ALSO Pan-Theos - Pan-Theos - Nature - IS God's nature, it's not simply an external thing like a toy. The universe is the physical manifestation of the nature of God - God's body as he wills it to be. And it's a deadly place for our physical bodies to come into being, because entropy - the tendency towards disorder - is one of the fundamental aspects of the will of God. God created Satan too, after all. Satan is the expression, in the world of spirit and mind, of entropy in the world of material and energy.

    Nature is the primary place in which we directly see God's nature. So it's tough for me to just leave that off. It's a bit like talking about a cow by cutting off all of the cow except for a horn, and then talking about the cow as the horn.

    But Thales could build up a whole universal thesis from a drop of water, so we can do this too. Still, I wanted to at least groan at length about being confined to the procrustean bed of Western mind-matter duality in this discussion, because I think that if we leave out matter as the primary expression of the mind of God, we leave off the physical proof of the postulates, and our discussion of God becomes unrooted from reality.

    I'll stop doing it verbally, but it is axiomatic to me that the Nature Law IS God, and that Nature is the expression of God's nature. They are not different things. God is the MIND of Nature, so the only place you can learn about God, really, is by looking at nature. Sure, you can look at miracles and much more clearly see the mind of God. But you may just be seeing the mind of men, who lie. I know that miracles exist, because I have experienced them. But Einstein and Spinoza never did, so they never could admit them as proof of anything more than Pan-Theos as really existing. Theos is, but Theos and Pan-Theos are the same God.

    With those stipulations, I'll accept your axioms and proceed as best as I can.
     
  2. brinny

    brinny everlovin' shiner of light in dark places Supporter

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    Did God determine his own nature?
    What factor outside of Himself might that be, exactly?
     
  3. ToBeLoved

    ToBeLoved Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Why would God have to exist within Himself if nothing else exists?

    I find that statement very confusing
     
  4. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know to whom Aquinas is referring - haven't read him.

    For the Orthodox it is easy enough: God the Father is the Father of Jesus, and he is Jesus' God (the Bible says both those things). And the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. So, the Father is Jesus' and the Holy Spirit's God (if the word "God" is properly used). All three of them together, in unity - the Tri-unity ("Trinity") is also "God". (This is why Muslims and Jews do not consider Christians to be monotheists.)

    For lay Catholics it can be confusing, because Catholics say that the Spirit also proceeds "from the Son". In their formal conversations with the Orthodox seeking reunion, the Catholic high theologians explain that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father THROUGH the Son, so they in truth have the same ultimate position as the Orthodox (more or less - there's a nuance, but it falls beyond the scope of the question.

    Protestants are all over the place on these things, so I cannot characterize them as a unity, as they are not. One strong branch would hold Father, Son and Holy Spirit as co-equal, all in all, with no beginning even before time. This renders the begetting of the Son a logical nullity, but those who believe this prefer to call it a "mystery". You'd have to argue with them about it.

    To me it is perfectly obvious that the Scripture says that the Father begat the son before the beginning of time, and they both breath out Holy Spirit.

    (To return to the pantheistic them of earlier, "spirit" which is also "wind" and "breath" - one word - is THE crossover point between the physical and the non-physical. But this is a separate discussion.)

    When speaking of God Most High, we -you and I - are really speaking of the Father, the emperor and original fountainhead of the Christian Trinity. Some Christians will debate that until the world ends, but I'm not them so you'll have to argue their muddle with them.

    You say that Aquinas speaks of "necessity". There is no necessity with God Most High. If there were, then whatever source of necessity there were above that god would be a higher god.

    A very good understanding of why God's will is not impinged upon by necessity can be found just by looking at ourselves. We each have opinions and things that we like. I'm not going to name any, because you and I are unique people, and our opinions and desires concerning things vary.

    Those opinions and desires concerning some things are quite strong - strong enough that we will stride forward and grasp what we want, or reject what we do not want. I don't think there's anybody who wants to pay taxes, at least not as high as they are. But we do anyway, because our wills are not unbridled. There are always layers of powers above us that we must properly feart(such as the IRS) or cannot defy (such as God's gravity). That, then, shapes who we are. We adjust what we want to what is realistic, to what we can reasonably have, or else we go mad, or kill ourselves defying gravity and the like.

    But with God, there's no limit in any direction. So the makeup and structure of things - the physics, for example - are what a creative being unlimited by anything but his own opinion, does. God loves the way that he loves.

    Only by introducing other wills into the equation - by creating them - does God every encounter anything that, at least temporarily, opposes him. He could, of course, make that not so. The fact that he doesn't simply means that he likes it that way, at least for the moment.

    He's not bound like we are.

    So therefore, in a sense he is bound - he's bound by his own personality, by his aesthetic tastes. He chooses based on what it pleases him to choose. He can change his mind - a miracle is a local override of his general opinion regarding the physics, for example - but he doesn't do it often, because the physics are what they are because he likes them that way.

    How many times do you simply change your opinion on something on a whim? That's not what we do. He doesn't either. And yet, while we may believe in stern punishments, we may take mercy on someone we love and not allow the crushing consequences to destroy that person. God's opinion about everything is consequential, but he does sometimes alter an inevitable outcome. We can ascribe that to his love, or to something else. If God really is El Elyon - God Most High - we can't ascribe it to something that is imposing on God from beyond God's reach, because if that happens, then whatever is doing that imposing is God's God, and God isn't El Elyon.

    I think that's a good basic answer to your question. It's not Aquinas' answer, because I've not read Aquinas to be able to give it to you. I'd assume that Aquinas, being a Catholic saint and doctor of theology and all, would have to make sure to round a great number or barrels and punch a great many more wickets than I have had to, in order to produce an opinion on things that held together logically (which I hear he does) and yet didn't cross the lines of any of the myriad established doctrines.

    Seems like a lot of work.
     
  5. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    Yes. It's contingent on his opinion.

    Before he made other living things with wills, it was easy to create whatever he liked as he liked it. But having created other wills that are not simply automata of his own, he has added the drama of other minds, who don't completely agree, to the equation, and who either cooperate, or submit, or fight.

    That, then, presents him with a set of problems that unpopulated, will free material doesn't present. To what extent does the expression of opposition annoy, enrage, amuse? It depends on God's opinions and emotions. What do THOSE depend on?

    Well, the outcome - what he does - depends on his decisions - but the emotions themselves? They're limited by how far God chooses to express them.

    WE certainly like to ascribe all sorts of emotions to God - but everybody differs on what they are, including those who assert that God is impassive. Others will reply with the Bible (or Koran, or Bhagavad Gita, or any number of things). Truth is, we don't know.
     
  6. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    "Christian" is not synonymous with seeking truth primarily in the Bible. That's Protestantism, and it's about 15% of Christianity. The other 85% of Christians don't look primarily to the Bible for truth, but elsewhere.

    This is not meant in a spirit of contention: it's simply true. Bible-derived Christianity is only about a sixth of the religion.
     
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  7. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    No. God's nature IS the Natural Law. Nature is the physical emanation of God's creative presence, which is expressed as his will, which is Law to us and to stuff. But it's not law to him. It's opinion. He likes his own opinions, like all of us. Unlike us, there isn't anything to put pressure on him to modify his opinions, other than his own emotions.
     
  8. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    Timeless is fine, and it saves Trinitarianism from an impossible conundrum (that being Jesus always existing and yet being begotten). Time as a created property solves it. Before all ages, before time, God begat the Son, God from God, and they breathed out the spirit and created.

    The pictographic sentence spelled out by the ancient Paleo-Hebrew hieroglyphic pictographs of the first word of the Bible actually depict the begetting of the Son by the Father, first, before everything that follows. But that gets into some esoteric things that help confirm and inform and bring into sharper detail what is actually intended to be conveyed in the text, but that don't actually reveal a different truth (to those who think that truth is found there - those who don't believe that don't generally waste their time reading it.
     
  9. Marvin Knox

    Marvin Knox Senior Veteran

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    I know that. You are absolutely right.

    "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:14

    "Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth." John 17:17

    "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24
     
  10. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    So, that's what you think. Well, I don't want to fight, so good luck.
     
  11. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows The good guys lost

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    I'm saying it in response to the suggestion that perhaps I'm viewing God as a being within the universe. What I'm trying to say is that God is not contained within any realm/universe/space/time. If he was he would be subject to the laws of that realm.
     
  12. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

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    How have you come to believe that God is His natural laws? If I create a game with rules/laws, I am not those rules/laws, they are simply an extension of my creativity. One might learn about me a little from the laws I chose to create, but that is quite different from those laws being me.

    I'm also unsure of how you reconcile that the final enemy is death with your view that it is God Who does all the killing. Is He an enemy with Himself?
     
  13. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    I can answer you short, or long.

    I'm going to start with short, and only go long if we need more.

    Let me start with the second first. Death is OUR final enemy. Death isn't God's final enemy. Death is just the breakdown of the biological processes. Chemistry stops. The final breath departs. That's death. The Bible is not written to God, or rocks. It's written by men, to men, about what perturbs men. Death is the greatest thing that perturbs men - the final enemy. Jesus tells us to not be afraid, and comes back from the dead, and promises the same for us if we follow him. That's God's gift to man concerning the greatest thing that man fears and hates. To God, death is merely the moment that he takes breath back and the body begins to crumble back to elements. Death isn't God's enemy. It's merely a phenomenon that results from God's actions. But this is a God's eye perspective. From OUR perspective it is an awesome and terrible and sinister force. And we must remember that Jesus, who taught us what we know about the afterlife, was himself a man in fear of the pains of death. He didn't want to die. He went through it, and demonstrated that it ultimately had no sting, because God is above all of it and does as he will, including bringing back the dead intact.

    To start to understand what God is - which is really what this thread is about - we have to set aside our obsessions. God knows we're obsessed with death, because it is the unknown, the feared, the apparent end. So he provides a remedy to that. But death is no enemy of God. It's an effect of a cause, and a tool, which he invented.

    As to the first, God is. What does "God" MEAN? In English, it's a word sui generis. In Hebrew, it means "Power". What is the highest power in nature? That which directs it. God. There is no reason to chop up the unseen into a train, in which God is a head, somewhere, but the power that the train manifests is something else. This is fighting too hard to make distinctions about invisible things, all in order to preserve a Greek belief about ideal versus real (with ideal being much superior), and the duality of spirit and material (with material being an inferior thing).

    There isn't a hint of that philosophy in God's revelation. It's an import from the pagan philosophers, and it isn't true.

    When God speaks of things happening in the world, he speaks of HIM causing this and causing that. So I remove the black box as if it were not there (because I see no reason to believe it is) and simply say what he says: God does these things. God is the Powers.

    This is very much in keeping what what God says regarding the wind. Wind, spirit and breath are all the same word in Hebrew. Again, the Greek real/ideal wants to separate wind from spirit. But the Hebrew, inspired by God, does the opposite.

    Instead of working so hard to detach God from the world, take the words exactly as written: wind IS spirit - the physical world isn't some thing far from God - the wind you breathe IS the spirit - spirit is the wind. Why is the blood "the life"? We separate blood and life and go down the hill into the valley of material versus spiritual.

    No. That's adding a whole Greek philosophic apparatus where God didn't state one, and where none is necessary. Why is the blood the life? Because blood carries the wind to the inside of the body, to each cell. That's why. Breath is spirit, spirit is what animates life, and the blood literally, physically moves a literal physical spirit: the breath/wind, through the body. Take the breath/wind out of the nostrils and the body falls apart...and the person departs with the breath/wind.

    There is no need to separate spirit from breath and wind and air. The Greeks felt compelled to do it because they thought of matter, material things, the physical world, as inferior, dirty, a corrupt representation of the ideal. And that is exactly the way that virtually everybody thinks of it.

    I don't. I remove that apparatus, which God never put there, not once, and just read the words directly. Wind and breath and spirit are all the same thing - not figuratively, LITERALLY in the Hebrew. This is not because God is really a Greek just trying to show something to bedouins so he does it simplistically and mechanically. It's because God was just revealing how it is to the bedouins, but other cultures - like the Greeks - didn't like the material and so erected a whole philosophical apparatus that separated the ideal from the real - and then called the real inferior.

    That's a nice prejudice, and most people believe that, but it never came out of the mind of God. It was in Aristotle's mind, and people who read Aristotle and Plato, et al, those pagan Greeks, were all "educated". It's just that the thing they were educated in was itself the fantasy. The whole physical/spiritual, ideal/real dichotomy is a fantasy. God revealed powder, water, light and wind. And wind is his breath that animates dirt to make men and animals, and when he takes back the breath, they die. That's what is actually IN the Hebrew.

    I see no reason to add all of the Greek speculation, because it makes what is concrete and really straightforward mysterious, vague, much harder to understand...and not true.

    What God revealed directly about creation in Genesis I take as being directly so. So I don't look for a black box to translate it into Greco-Western thought. I just discard the Greco-Western thought and take the Hebrew exactly as written.

    And that gives me wind/spirit/breath.

    And THAT seems to drive some people absolutely MAD. In their haste to "prove" I'm wrong they never take the time to actually think about it, and that's where the conversation usually ends, in anger, because I know the Greek thought, and I don't believe a word of it.
     
  14. Vicomte13

    Vicomte13 Well-Known Member

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    This is a separate question. I already wrote a lot to you, so maybe we can return to this later, if you really want to know how it is I got to thinking this. I will tell you that it comes from years and years and years of thinking scientifically, and from three primary miracles. But that's really talking about ME, and I'm not very interested in me.
     
  15. YouAreAwesome

    YouAreAwesome ☝✌

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    How do you think about the Holy Spirit? How can one be baptised in "breath" or "oxygen in the blood" (if these things are "spirit"? And also how do you think about where Jesus says "God is Spirit" because then He says we must worship Him in spirit and truth? How do we worship "breath" or "wind" in "spirit"?
     
  16. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows The good guys lost

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    Interesting. So God has two types of attributes, contingent and non-contingent. @RC1970 had the same thought. Are the non-contingent ones necessary?

     
  17. RC1970

    RC1970 post tenebras lux

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    Most of God's attributes are necessary, some are not necessary, but none are contingent.
     
  18. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows The good guys lost

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    These are exactly the qualities I want to discuss, those immutable attributes that he is bound by. Do they have a source? I'm entirely unconcerned with what he chooses based on these attributes. I wish to discuss his attributes apart from his acts.

    Is his opinion contingent on anything?
     
  19. Everybodyknows

    Everybodyknows The good guys lost

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    What exactly do you mean by necessary?
     
  20. RC1970

    RC1970 post tenebras lux

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    I thought the word "necessary" would be easier to understand than the word "essential" or "of the essence",but maybe not.

    These would be the attributes of God that must/needs be. Or, you wouldn't be thinking of God.
     
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