Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Conversations with a Fundamentalist Christian - Four

This is the response from my Committed Christian who takes what can only be called a fundamentalist approach to God:

You have written quite a bit…..I will not have time to respond to all of it, but here’s a quick summary.

1. God not being made of matter has nothing to do with omnipotence. There is no correlation.

Well yes it must. If God is omnipotent then God has unlimited power - there are no limits - ergo, God must be all things including Matter. There is a distinct correlation.

2. God not being made of matter is not a distinctively Christian teaching; it is held by many religions and is logical philosophically.

That makes it neither sensible nor correct. Religions hold some decidedly irrational if not silly views and the attitude in all religions to women has to be a classic case of bigotry, prejudice and stupidity. More to the point not all versions of Christianity hold this belief.

3. God is indeed not all things…..that’s the whole point. He cannot be all things, for then he would be contradictions. This was the point I was making, which you did not answer, but merely re-asserted your original position.

Beyond the yearnings of our innate spiritual nature the basic premise of a God is as explanation for this world and the concept is that of an all-powerful God as the creative source and force of all that is. That means in this cosmos then God must be all things - there can be no separation - no 'this bit is God' and 'this bit isn't God' because if there are bits which aren't God then the whole concept of God as we know it comes crashing down.

If God is not all things then God is not omnipotent and there is something Other than God which means God is not all powerful and there is some other force which is more powerful because if God were the most powerful then there would be no other force - in other words, for something to exist which is not God then God's power is limited. God to be God must be all things and it is for us to work out the how and the why of the contradictions. Which is certainly possible if one takes a less literal view of religion and God.

We are all connected - everything in this world is connected at the molecular level and if that is the nature of this world and of human beings as a part of this world and if we are 'created in God's image' as the Bible says, then that is the nature of God. Even if you take it literally, as you prefer to do, 'if we are made in God's image' then what we are is what God is. If you take it metaphorically then 'if we are made in God's image' then whatever God is, we are and whatever we are, God is.

4. Further, God cannot be all things in the sense of being absurdities, such as a square circle. He cannot be holy and unholy at the same time.

Why not? But if God is not all things then God is not all powerful and there are other equally powerful forces at work so God, is not really God - as in all that is as the Bible states. A square and a circle and holy and unholy are just different expressions of the same basic material - consciousness - and that is what I call God. If Matter can be both wave and particle, spiritual and material, then why can't God be different expressions of the same thing?

5. That matter can be changed to energy is not relevant to God not being all things.

I did not say that. What I said was, energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed. In other words, all that is has always been and always will be, it just, like matter being particle or wave when observed, becomes one thing or another as part of God's creative process - and I would add, as part of our creative process.

6. God is not made of matter, but that does not mean he is incapable of interacting with the material world, again like a painter to a painting. Just because God acts in the world does not mean he is made of matter, just as a painter can interact with the painting without being in it.

But God is not a mere painter. A painter creates in and with the material - God supposedly creates all things for all eternity.  God is the painter the painting, the brush, the paint, the easel, the room, the floor - the lot.

And if God is all that is and all that is contains matter or is expressed as matter then God may not be specifically 'made' of matter but God is also matter and that is the only reason why God can interact with us. If God were not 'of this world' then God could not effect this world.

7. How he interacts is something I cannot explain, since I am limited. I can’t explain electricity, either, but that does not mean it is not true.

And that limitation means all you can do is theorise and since you do not know absolutely, and neither do I, then we both have as good a chance as each other of being right. Neither of us may understand how electricity works but I see clearly how God works or is demonstrated in this world and so do you - we just see different things. Perhaps I look for a metaphorical 'wave' and you look for a 'particle.' Both constitute the same thing but manifest differently. And electricity may express itself as a force or source in a multitude of ways just as God is expressed in a multitude of ways - all made of the same thing, all sourced in the same thing, but dramatically different in terms of manifestation.

8. You have understood correctly; God is spirit. Man has a spirit, but also has a material body. Man’s spirit and God’s spirit are not the same.

Then God is not 'all that is' as the Bible says because we and God are different things so God is limited because God is not everything. Either it's all God or it's not and if it's not then it isn't God.

9. God does not love us like a parent, based on our behaviour. He loves us like a God, which is a different kind of love. But God is also just, and would be unjust if he merely allowed evil without dealing with it fairly. If God were to ignore human evil, he would be evil himself, or at best worse than the average human. God is loving, but is also a righteous judge who always deals fairly….he does not wink at evil.
If God is Love and we are made in the 'image of God' then our Love has to be God's Love! Your language and your religion, presents a God as parent who judges us on behaviour otherwise there would not be rules about how to get to Heaven. Neither would someone who has never heard of your version of Christianity or your God, or someone who does not have the mental ability to comprehend what you seek to teach, be condemned. If you want a stark case of evil then a God who treats helpless and innocent people like this is most definitely capable of evil.  And if God is loving then God is not a righteous judge or any kind of judge because Love in its absolute truth is unconditional!

If it is a different kind of Love then God is not all that is - God is limited. As to dealing with what you call evil, what you call evil is a set of laws which your religion believes and seeks to impose on others. No God would be so unjust. What you call evil is just a difference of opinion and luckily S/HE does have a great sense of humour and spends quite a bit of time no doubt, not only winking but laughing at the silliness of human beings including a rule which says those who don't believe a particular set of religious dogma get punished for eternity.

10. God respects our free will, so that he would not force us into his heaven against our will. Many people cannot stand to go to church for an hour a week…..what kind of God would force people to go there for all eternity? God allows us to spend eternity away from him if we want. But since God is good, we end up being away from good, away from light.

That applies to your religion and your religion alone. The great majority of people in the world, thankfully, do not believe in your God and so what you believe about your God may be right for you but it doesn't make it right in any absolute sense, despite the fact that I know you think it does.

And there are many people who would consider being in church, your sort of church, for all eternity to be Hell! Apart from which it would be incredibly boring being surrounded by everyone who thinks the same sorts of things - judgemental, unforgiving, intolerant and quite simply, unkind. 

11. Your statement about interpretation of metaphors cannot hold up in any normal sense of language communication. We simply cannot communicate if we insist on pouring our own meaning into the words. For example, the people who write the books about metaphorical interpretation expect us to take their books literally. You expect me to understand your words in a common way, otherwise I could say that all this time you’re explaining how to do gardening.

It is very true that we speak a different ‘language’ and I am reminded of the saying ‘ divided by a common language’ which is a salutary reminder that even if we are speaking the same language, i.e. English, there are cultural differences in meaning and interpretation and never more so than when the topic is religion.
We always pour our own meaning into words even if you do not accept this as either possibility or reality and no book is ever taken exactly as the writer intended. And if my words stand as a metaphor for garden as well as God well then that is absolutely fine and in fact one of the most apt and beautiful metaphors for God.

I have some understanding of your God because that is the God most of us start out with, but
 I can see you have little or no understanding of mine and that really is okay. What matters is not that you understand my interpretation of God but that I do.

And for me anyway, the real truth is that not only do I understand what I am saying but God understands what I am saying because God understands what everyone is saying (and why they are saying it) so really, it is all absolutely fine if we do not understand each other.
Beyond God, what matters is we tried. One can do no more than that. Take care.

While I find no use for religion I am not against religion per se: just religion which is extreme and unkind and which posits a vengeful and judgemental God.  There is a richness, depth and substance to Christianity which is lost in the fundamentalist and literal approach.

And as someone has pointed out to me, your version of Christianity is just one version and one which is orthodox in approach, if not fundamentalist. There are other versions of Christianity which are more akin to my thinking and my beliefs have, in part, been drawn upon writers sourced in such a Christianity.

Perspective is all and those wishing to explore Christianity, or any religion, are wise to explore all versions of it if they wish to gain a balanced perspective. In terms of Christianity which embraces or is open to that which I espouse, there are sites like this:

Which says:
Since the scientific revolution of the fifteenth century, there has been an increasing tendency in Christianity to see God as separate from Creation. To the commmon view, it's no longer God sending the sun across the sky each day, but the Earth's rotation, and no longer God raining down blessings on our fields, but water precipitation. Of course, we might pray for God to step in and cause some precipitation, but prevalent thinking has him obsessed with "spiritual" concerns, and uninvolved with the universe. In my opinion, this is nothing but the utter negligence of the modern Christian mind to seek God where he may be found! This has led to a wholly unnecessary gulf between science and religion, and results in a tragic compartmentalization of our "spiritual life" as being somehow separate from our daily lives.

According to this thought, God is fundamentally uninvolved. The universe is like a wind-up toy, left to go on its own, while God attends to—whatever. Once formed, natural laws work without any continued intelligence or consciousness, the true mindless governors of an inert and dumb universe.
But the truth is that science itself is shedding that view. Furthermore, through its genius for questioning how? science invites believers of all faiths to question who?, what?, and why? at a deeper level.

And this site offers thoughts to provoke a more balanced picture of what Christianity might be:

So to each their own on this spiritual path with the understanding that there are many ways to walk it.

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