We were unable to load Disqus. If you are a moderator please see our troubleshooting guide.

kraut2 • 7 months ago

I wonder - if god is not a person, and jesus=god, and jesus came to earth as a person and an individual...how can god not be a person, at least in the aspect of him being jesus? After all, the trinity is indivisibly one in three and three in one and we are all together...

Robert Templeton • 7 months ago

But I get to be the Walrus this time, okay?

kraut2 • 7 months ago

There, there, of course. I am the pornographic priestess then...g' goo goo g' joob

Paul Julian Gould • 6 months ago

Only if I can be the elementary penguin singing Hare Krsna...

Cozmo the Magician • 6 months ago

Coo coo a choo!

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

God is not a person. H;s the personal itself, he;s not a being but being itself,

Keith Parsons • 7 months ago

Joe,

When I hear things like "God is being itself" or "God is the personal itself" I am afraid that it brings out the Kai Nielsen in me. Nielsen presented theists with a dilemma (or alleged dilemma): Your definitions of "God" seem to fall in two categories: (1) The intelligible but obviously mythological, or (2) the unintelligible.

It is indeed possible to make the notion of God intelligible, but to do so you have to describe him as a sort of super-person. A being with the same sorts of attributes as humans, only more so. Thus, God hears our prayers, forgives our transgressions, grants us grace, and communicates with us via the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He is active in history, performing miracles on occasion to fulfill his aims for the world and authenticate his revelations. He is the designer and creator and sustainer of all things visible and invisible. According to Scripture, he is sometimes angry, but is mollified by genuine repentance. And so forth.

The problem with such accounts is that they conceive of God not too differently from the way that Zeus and Odin were conceived. If these latter accounts are rejected as mythological, then why not the all-too-similar accounts about Yahweh?

If the other horn of the dilemma is grasped, then what are we to make of locutions like "God is being itself?" What is "being?" As Aristotle observed long ago, "being" is predicated in many different senses, that is, there are many different senses in which things are said to be. However, as Sidney Hook brilliantly argued in his essay "The Quest for Being" there is no discernible univocal meaning of "being" that all things that are have in common. There is no identifiable essence or property that all things share just in virtue of existing. Therefore, there is no "being itself." Thomists speak of "the act of being," but this is no better. Things act in many different ways, but to speak of "pure act" is unintelligible. It is like noting that projects get completed in many different ways and then saying that what they have in common when finished is "completeness itself." No common essence of action can be identified any more than an essence of completeness.

How do you negotiate between mythology and meaninglessness?

Bradley Bowen • 7 months ago

Well stated. I agree that this is a key problem for theism. Also, I believe that this dilemma traces back at least to David Hume.

Keith Parsons • 7 months ago

Bradley,

As luck would have it we are reading Hume's Dialogues in one of my classes. Philo, Hume's skeptic plays the other two characters off against each other. When Cleanthes leans too far towards anthropomorphism, Philo notes the problems with conceiving of God as a big guy in the sky. When Demea goes too far in the opposite direction, asserting the incomprehensibility of God's nature, then Philo notes that Demea is really an agnostic. If God's nature is incomprehensible, then WHAT are you saying exists???

Bradley Bowen • 7 months ago

Joe thinks that my concept of God is too anthropomorphic, too much of a big guy in the sky.
But my concept of God, which is largely derived from Swinburne, is, in my view, actually too mystical, too transcendent.

Take the idea of a person who is omnipotent and omniscient. I believe this concept is understandable, and some, like Joe, would view the very intelligibility of this concept as evidence that it is too anthropomorphic: if you can understand or comprehend the concept, then it must not be an accurate concept of God!

But though we can comprehend this concept, what I think we comprehend is a transcendent being who is so far removed from human life and human experience that God has NO APPEAL to human beings. I'm sorry, but I cannot devote my life to gravity, nor can I love and obey electromagnatism, nor can most other sane human beings. I can have a concept of gravity, and a concept of electromagnetism, and I can understand these forces to a degree, but gravity and electromagnetism, as "awesome" as they might be, are completely INHUMAN and could never be my "Lord" or "Savior" no matter how hard I might try to view them as such.

Joe thinks that Swinburne's concept of God is too much of a big guy in the sky, but I think that is wrong. Swinburne's God is the God of the Christian faith (more or less), and that God is so far removed from being human, that no sane person could love and obey such a being, once they have a clear understanding of that concept. Swinburne's God is NOT too anthropomorphic, it is too transcendent and thus utterly beyond being loved and obeyed by sane human beings.

Joe's pantheistic or mystical concept of God is, of course, even more of a strange creature. It is so strange and OTHER that we are not supposed to use any words to describe it. But if God cannot be described or characterized by human language, then Joe ought to just shut his mouth and drop the subject.

Kevin K • 6 months ago

If god cannot be described or characterized by human language, then how in the world do we know what it wants?

And how do we know that "our" religion is the "right" religion? Seems to me that incomprehensibility component opens up the door as widely as possible to accept every religion as being "true". Every credal and non-credal Christian sect/denomination is exactly as equivalently "true" (in scare quotes) as Islam, Hinduism, paganism, the ancient Egyptian and Bablyonian religions, and on and on, ad infinitum.

By invoking mystery, you cannot claim certainty for any aspect of the god concept.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

I admire Swinburne tremendously,I think he;s one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. But i have yet to read of any position he takes that I don't disagree with in some way. That might say more negatively about me than him.

--"Joe's pantheistic or mystical concept of God is, of course, even more of a strange creature. It is so strange and OTHER that we are not supposed to use any words to describe it. But if God cannot be described or characterized by human language, then Joe ought to just shut his mouth and drop the subject."

That is true we should shut our mouths but we don't have to drop the subject we have to experience the reality of God through mystical experience. But being social creatures by nature and not telepathic we are possessed of a deep need to talk about our experiences. Thus we create metaphor as a bridge between what we know and what we don;t know,

It is the metaphorical aspect of language that makes communication possible not the literal.I recommend two works:Andrew Newberg Why God wont go away, he's the one who put me onto the necessity of metaphor in epistemology. My book Trace of God, the final chapter, I devote the whole chapter to this issue.

https://www.amazon.com/Trac...

Cozmo the Magician • 6 months ago

Can you go even 10 posts without plugging your book or blog? FFS I'm a professional entertainer and even I don't self promote myself as much as you do. And BTW, you ever gonna post your alleged academic credentials other than the 'I have a Ph.D in this and that, and a masters in something else?' I could post my dissertation on Temporal Quantum Dynamics that got me my Ph.D. from Starfleet, but its been classified under the most recent treaty with the Romulans.

Ficino • 7 months ago

Joe, do you see metaphor as another form of analogical predication or as a different kind of predication? I'm thinking of how Aquinas uses metaphor a lot but distinguishes it from analogy. I realize you're not a Thomist, so maybe this is just a difference of terminology between two systems.

A problem I have with Thomism is that they claim to demonstrate certain truths about God, but the terms in their arguments for God's existence or attributes are not predicated univocally. So as far as I can see, their arguments fail to be demonstrations, since they have undistributed middle terms. I am not sure whether the same results from metaphor, since metaphor normally can be reduced to literal senses.

But what I'm saying I find a problem with analogical predication may not be a problem in your project - or maybe I'm wrong to think that even the Thomists fail to achieve demonstration!

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

I think there are many kinds of metaphors and they can be used indifferent ways, Analogical languages a kind of metaphor, the interesting thing about Aquinas is that after a life time of brilliance he had a revelation which he indited demonstrated the weakness of all his philosophizing then died before he could talk about it. I still study him even though I'm not a Thomist he;s definable wroth reading.

a few years ago i wrote a MS I have not been in a position to publish yet, a book about Tillich's idea of Ground of being. I did a part on Maratian and his attack on Tillich.

Ficino • 7 months ago

I started reading some Maritain in college but that's a long time ago.

As I said before, people may just be using terminology differently. As far as I understand Aristotle and Aquinas, analogical predication is not a kind of metaphor; both are species of non-literal predication. Their differentia is that metaphor is understood because it can be reduced to literal signification. When Jesus prays, "let this cup pass me by," the reader understands "cup" as a metaphor for "trial" or the like. The reader already understands what a cup is and what a trial is. That's a condition for recognizing metaphor when you see/hear one. But when Jesus says that God is the only one who is good, the Thomist will insist that we do not know the sense in which "good" applies to God because God is utterly transcendent; we can only understand how this or that perceptible or intelligible thing is good. So I think the "slippage" of reference is much more slippery than in metaphor.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

yes but I thinning it;s splitting hairs but I see it as a kiddo metaphor, that's basically what metaphor is, language. In analogy one thing stands for another, moreover all language s metaphorical.

Ficino • 7 months ago

I assume that you're getting at how language as a map of reality is only the map and is not the reality, or something like that? OK, but to say that all language is metaphorical annihilates metaphor by making metaphor coextensive with all utterances, or something like that. But anyway, I'll stop digressing.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

Yes on map. Good point on the second point,I meant to say :to some extent," The metaphorical aspect of course is not absolute since we can speak literally but it is not the literal that enable communication, literalists think accuracy is the key really wiggle room is the key,

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

My cure for Hume is Berkeley. you may realize Hume was very positive toward Berkeley and admire his reasoning, I also think Kant could have taken him in a debate, or maybe Reid.Maybe not Reid.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

It's only a problem for those who want an anthropomorphic God.

Cozmo the Magician • 6 months ago

God has every aspect that people do. He is vengeful, deceitful, ego driven, judgemental, and a whole host of words I can come up with. Sounds just like some of my neighbors, but I sure as hell aint gonna worship them either.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

Howdy Keith,

I know who Nielsen was. His dilemma like most dilemmas is phony. Mythology is merely a term for metaphor, meaning it's usually something not well understood and badly remembered but waiting to be re discovered, The claim of incomprehensibility is usually dispelled with exploitation, and sometimes means I'm too lazy to listen.

The assertion made in your dilemma's first horn is truth by stipulation it assumes only a anthropomorphism can be intelligible,I think you see the fallacy there.

"The problem with such accounts is that they conceive of God not too differently from the way that Zeus and Odin were conceived. If these latter accounts are rejected as mythological, then why not the all-too-similar accounts about Yahweh?"

Strawman because you just said the only way to make
God intelligible is to cast him in that role then you fault the role, It makes more sense to think the human-like quality is the metaphor.

As to the second horn the being itself idea is based uon the super essential Godhead of Platonic Christianity so it;s at odds either Thomistic idea anyway, Theologians I would point to to transcend that dichotomy are Whithead and Pannenberg, 'AnywayI am not a Thonmist,

That phraseology has a particular meaning if we understand why it's used it makes sense, Basically it is to avoid the connotation of a big man imn the sky, rather than rendering the concept of God unintelligible it renders the human likeness metaphorical.

Keith Parsons • 7 months ago

Joe,

I don't think that the anthropomorphism pole is simply stipulated. Theists describe God as good, wise, just, loving, merciful, etc. In order for such predicates to be understandable they must bear some considerable similarity to the meanings of those terms when applied in human contexts. If God is "good" but his "goodness" is nothing like human goodness, then saying "God is good" is vacuous. So the challenge (if not a dilemma) is to speak with the right degree of anthropomorphism.

The Greeks went too far. Zeus, as depicted by Homer, is just the patriarch of a large, dysfunctional family. He is clearly just like a human patriarch, only bigger. The Yahweh of the OT is clearly much the same, though Jewish religion rejected visual depictions. Still, Yahweh pitched tantrums, changed his mind, issued commands, punished and rewarded, held grudges, was jealous, loved some and despised others, and so forth. Mentally, if not physically, he was created in the image of man (a male in particular). So, there is no reason to read the OT any differently than we read the Iliad. Great stories. You learn a lot. However, you don't take Yahweh smiting Pharaoh with the plagues of Egypt any more literally than you take Zeus smiting the Titans with his thunderbolt.

Of course, as you note, theologians from Origen to Pannenberg have not taken those stories literally, but offer much more sophisticated and non-anthropomorphic accounts. Yet, inevitably, the problem of intelligibility nags these. Suppose that we go platonic and say that God is not a good being, but it Goodness Itself. However, as Aristotle said in criticism of Plato, "good" is predicated in as many different senses as "being." Suppose we clarify by saying that God is Moral Goodness itself. The disadvantage here is that it identifies a supposed person with an abstract quality. Even if we assume that there is some essence of moral goodness, and we then say that God is identical with that essential quality, then it is difficult to conceive of God as acting, which is an essential capacity of a person. One may act mercifully, but mercy itself cannot act. It is a quality of actions, not the action or the actor. So, unintelligibility does seem to threaten.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

If God is "good" but his "goodness" is nothing like human goodness, then saying "God is good" is vacuous. So the challenge (if not a dilemma) is to speak with the right degree of anthropomorphism.

That doesn't rule out a connection. There is a Rosetta stone that is Christ,The connection in Jesus words an d what we experience of the reality of God in our own lives, when those two line up we can assume we have some understanding, I think there are degrees of love and some people love more than others.

Your view of OT I wont take time to clash over that,It;s essentially true I am not an inerrantist

Keith Parsons • 7 months ago

Joe,

Thanks. First, let me say that it is great to be able to correspond with a Christian who is not an inerrantist and who really knows the theology.

I think your point is much the same as the one made by a good friend of mine who is the senior pastor at a United Church of Christ congregation. Your starting point is a transformative experience through a personal encounter, the grasp of "ultimate concern" and the emergence of "the new being" in Tillich's terms. For you and my friend, such experience is the deepest thing in your lives and you cannot deny its absolute significance.

My response as an atheist is to recognize the value of such transformative experiences, and to see your commitment as a rational response. I would probably be a believer if I had undergone such an experience. However, my deepest experiences are of a different nature. I would call them pantheistic rather than theistic. That is, for me the numinous lies in the "sacred depths of nature," as biologist Ursula Goodenough calls it. So, while I genuinely respect your experience, I do not accept that it has any ontological implications.

phantomreader42 • 6 months ago

That is unintelligible nonsense. Not surprising, since "theology" is just a subset of "unintelligible nonsense"

Michael • 7 months ago

What does that mean? And how does it not conflict with what kraut said? Was Jesus "not a person"?

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

Jesus is the man who God entered history as but he was not God in a man costume, he was a real man. So
God did not come out of heaven and become Jesus, There's a different kind of relationship thee, The second person of the Trinity incarnated as a man with two wills and two natures, that does;'t change the nature of God.

Again I see no one dealing with my concept that "person" must be defined, none of you have sought to define the term.

Cozmo the Magician • 6 months ago

Babble babble babble Jesus babble babble. And you say you DON'T like trump?

Bradley Bowen • 7 months ago

You did not answer Michael's question.
Jesus IS a person, at least according to traditional and widespread Christian belief.

If you wish to deny that Jesus is a person; you are free to do so, but then you will have departed from traditional Christian belief.

I suppose as a theological liberal, you don't care much about whether you depart from traditional Christian belief, but I care, because I have no interest in debating about some new and novel concept of "God" that you or Paul Tillich have dreamed up that is contrary to traditional and widespread Christian belief.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

still not defining person,

Michael • 7 months ago

Well, you said God is not a being, but being itself. How can being itself become a specific being?

I'll define a person as an entity capable of reason. How being itself is capable of reason I don't know, but surely God would have to be?

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

what makes you think you know what being itself would be?If being is mental or based upon mind then bag itself would be universal mind. It's not a particular being. It;s not one of many it;s the basis of what being is,

Michael • 7 months ago

I don't know what it is-I've said that. So what is "being itself" according to you? If it isn't a particular being, then that just seems to contradict the Trinity and Incarnation.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

the term use for person imn Trinity is not Enoish :peson but Greek hamousios also mans substance or essence, the "The Greek term for mask is persona and was a significant element in the worship of Dionysus at Athens, likely used in ceremonial rites and celebrations."

https://greektheatre.wordpr...

this term is also used in connection with Trinity, that marks identity,three identities imn one essence,

Michael • 7 months ago

Okay, but how is God as a whole not a person?

Bradley Bowen • 7 months ago

If God is NOT a being, then God is NOT a person. Right? A person is a type of being.

So, you have confirmed that your view is that God is NOT a person.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

I said that, that;s what I started out saying, I also said
god could be called personal in some sense but not a person.

Cozmo the Magician • 6 months ago

I say that you could be called a real idiot, but not be an idiot in some sense. Does that make any sense to you? Or are you going to say I'm calling you names?

Jim Jones • 7 months ago

> Joe Hinman wants to debate the existence of God with me.

Joe Hinman can't define 'God'.

Bradley Bowen • 7 months ago

Joe can probably provide a stipulative definition of the word "God", I'm just not sure that the sort of being that he believes in has anything to do with the Christian faith, or with the God of western religions. Joe seems to be a pantheist, rathter than a theist. At any rate, I'm going to push back on his view that God is NOT a person, and see if he can defend his view without obviously straying from the Christian faith.

Jim Jones • 7 months ago

OK. I've yet to see any good definition of the word except the funny ones.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

How about th one in Westminster dictionary of Christian theology? what's wrong with that one?

Bob Jase • 7 months ago

How about Hebrew theology? Greco-Roman theology? Sumerian theology? Nordic theology? Scientological theology?

I mean, its all supposed to be ONE god according to you.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

how about it? where is their theological dictionary? Of course the Hebrew is consulted in the Christian. you have to go with the path that speaks to you, Christianity is the one that speaks to me.

I can respect their wisdom traditions but i find Norse seems to be big man in the sky thinking, Not to say tey don't have their own experience of God that is worthy of respect.

Bob Jase • 7 months ago

Oh, so having someone write up a web page somehow makes the subject of that page real?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/...

Cozmo the Magician • 6 months ago

Only if my invisible imaginary pet dragon reads it first.

Joe Hinman • 7 months ago

I don't know what you think you are proving by using wikipidioa I actually took Greek for three years,

Bob Jase • 7 months ago

Greek is real, that doesn't mean everything written in Greek is real or you would believe in Zeus.