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God is Not a Person

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posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 12:25 PM
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Recently I have been participating in a thread here regarding the nature of God, Jesus (presuming he existed), the idea of the Trinity, and various interpretations of such over the ages.

A member stated to me "God is a person", after I had said: "God is not a person".

So, I thought to myself I will google "God is not a person" and see what comes up.

I found this very interesting essay regarding the struggles of modern society to reconcile the idea of "GOD" (a universal force and the cause of everything, IMO) with what we now know and are increasingly discovering about the universe. We must assume the universe is perfect as it is, and that it works, in ways we are not entirely aware of (and perhaps may never be).

First, I looked up Thomas Paine's brilliant American-Revolution-Era essay The Age of Reason (wiki entry). The text is available in full online, and I urge everyone who enjoys this forum to READ IT. This man wrote at the time of the Founding of the USA.
The ideas he presented were shared by many, and even then were not "new". His message is particularly applicable to our times, and in presenting them I hope to open some honest dialogue into the history of this country's "religiosity", the faiths of antiquity, and science AS A RELIGION.

Paine's book followed in the tradition of early eighteenth-century British deism. These deists, while maintaining individual positions, still shared several sets of assumptions and arguments that Paine articulated in The Age of Reason.

The most important position that united the early deists was their call for "free rational inquiry" into all subjects, especially religion. Saying that early Christianity was founded on freedom of conscience, they demanded religious toleration and an end to religious persecution.

They also demanded that debate rest on reason and rationality. Deists embraced a Newtonian worldview, and they believed all things in the universe, even God, must obey the laws of nature. Without a concept of natural law, the deists argued, explanations of the workings of nature would descend into irrationality. This belief in natural law drove their skepticism of miracles.

Because miracles had to be observed to be validated, deists rejected the accounts laid out in the Bible of God's miracles and argued that such evidence was neither sufficient nor necessary to prove the existence of God. Along these lines, deistic writings insisted that God, as the first cause or prime mover, had created and designed the universe with natural laws as part of his plan.

They hold that God does not repeatedly alter his plan by suspending natural laws to (miraculously) intervene in human affairs. Deists also rejected the claim that there was only one revealed religious Truth or "one true faith"; religion could only be "simple, apparent, ordinary, and universal" if it was to be the logical product of a benevolent God. They therefore distinguished between "revealed religions" (which they rejected), such as Christianity, and "natural religion", a set of universal beliefs derived from the natural world that demonstrated God's existence (they were, thus, not atheists).[1]


It is sad to me that nowadays every college student is not compelled to take courses in Western Civ, or indeed in ANY philosophy or history, but are more fast-tracked into technical schools. Humanity is losing a lot by ignoring the Humanities (the classics of literature) as necessary subjects of higher education.

Paine asserts that

It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite. The Creation speaketh an universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they be. It is an ever existing original, which every man can read.

It cannot be forged;
it cannot be counterfeited;
it cannot be lost;
it cannot be altered;
it cannot be suppressed.

It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.

I hold this to be self-evident.

Now, to continue with the next online source I found:
God is Reality Personified, Not a Person

God is not a person; God is a mythic personification of reality. If we miss this we miss everything.

ALL images and concepts of God are more or less meaningful interpretations and personifications. And it didn't take a genius to figure out that if you trust, or have faith, in what is ultimately inescapable, your life works better than if you judge or resist what is real. This is not theological rocket science.

Religion Is About Right Relationship to Reality, Not the Supernatural

All religions offer maps of what's real and what's important. So contends philosopher-of-religion Loyal Rue in his 2006 book, Religion Is Not About God (Youtube clip here). Religions offer practices, too, that help adherents live in right relationship with each other, their society, and with reality as a whole—regardless of how that "reality" is mythically personified.

Darwin didn't kill God. To the contrary, he and Alfred Russel Wallace offered the first glimpse of the real Creator behind and beyond the world's myriad mythic portrayals of reality.


The author (and this one is current, not 200+years old) makes a good analogy between mankind's ideas about "GOD", and the movie Castaway:

...scholars of comparative religion and/or evolutionary psychology and neurobiology remind us that we cannot understand religion and religious differences if we don't understand how the human mind instinctually relationalizes, or personifies, reality. (Shermer refers to this deep-seated tendency as "agenticity".)

Think of the movie "Castaway" with Tom Hanks. The personified volleyball, Wilson, was the only thing that kept Hank's character sane (sort of).

[color=prange]Evidence from a wide range of disciplines, from cognitive neuroscience to anthropology to cross-cultural studies of the world's myths and religions, all support the claim that God is (and always has been) an interpretation, a personification. Furthermore, there is no counter-evidence supporting the claim that God is a person! This fact alone makes sense of the hundreds of competing stories around the world as to what God supposedly said or did.


ATS, as we head into the secular holiday season, perhaps thoughts are turning to the meaning of the winter holidays, to be succeeded by the spring holidays. It is well established these holidays were attached to pagan festivals in order to make the pagans more comfortable.

Unfortunately, too many nowadays take the Bible as a literal history and fact book. Those of you on ATS with strong faith should find no "offense" in this thread; those of you with agnostic or atheist beliefs/leanings should find some reason and sanity in them.

I wish for everyone here a pleasant season, replete with all its greetings and well wishes.
In the spirit of the site's motto: Let us deny ignorance. I extend to you my hand and heart, in good faith.

~wildtimes
edit on 30-11-2012 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 12:40 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


Deism seems to list a series of parameters by which to identify the precise nature of divinity, but not divinity in and of itself. This poses complications in that such descriptions allow room for misinterpretation and the eventual coercion of viewpoints and philosophies by twisting the definitions and lack of meticulous phrasing to suit the purposes of those forming the philosophies.

But deism seems to be my kind of thing, because at least it kind of rules out everything mankind would be trying to glean from it, in terms of pride and subservience and finding a reason to look down on everyone else and all these old fashioned superstitious rules and beliefs and whatnot.
edit on 30-11-2012 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 12:56 PM
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Here's a vid by Karen Armstrong, one of our leading religious historians and writers (and philosophers):

She explains what is necessary now, given that we are, LIKE IT OR NOT, a global community. There is so much well-intentioned rhetoric and speaking nowadays.

She has written several books regarding the history of religions, but now, hopefully, even those not given to "non-fiction, philosophical reading" can access the ideas....the VERY IDEAS.....that can promote and offer hope for the idea of world peace.

Peace



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:02 PM
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Wildtimes, you're such a heathen!


How dare you tell me that my personification of god based on a book is not real. How dare you tell me all the personality traits I've imagined, and ascribed are not representative of reality. And how dare you rip the rug of divinity out from under the feet of the person of god...

Well done. S&F.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 


But deism seems to be my kind of thing, because at least it kind of rules out everything mankind would be trying to glean from it, in terms of pride and subservience and finding a reason to look down on everyone else and all these old fashioned superstitious rules and beliefs and whatnot.

It's my kind of thing, too. I was born in the late 1950's, and by the age of 12 or so had determined (internally) that I believed in Reincarnation (with no prior exposure to it); that the soul is on an endless journey, and we are here TO LEARN what "GOD" is.....

Not "who HE is", but "WHAT" is going on with us, we sentient creatures that KNOW we will die.
By that young preteen age I had already figured out that the stories told in church were not "real", anymore than Hansel and Gretel were real, or Santa Claus.

The times of religious BICKERING should be over by now.
Thanks for your contribution, AfterI, so far I see no way that any rational person can astutely deny that "Deism" is the future. (It was also "the past", but didn't "stick the landing.")



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:04 PM
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reply to post by Klassified
 


I know! Right?

Glad you found the thread, now I don't need to pm you to join in!
HAPPY SEASONAL CHAOS!!!!



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:11 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


I was going to "alert" for sheer awesomeness, but decided it was probably a bad idea. I'll just settle for s&f. Oh, and this pretty little thumb.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:30 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

There are reasons why the Biblical God can't be described as "impersonal".
For one thing, the Biblical God communicates- the act of communications is one of the running themes of the Bible.
In his communications, he gives information about his decisions and actions, and making decisions implies having a will.
Having a conscious will and being able to communicate suggests something analogous to what we humans call "being a person".

The "impersonal God" concept belongs to a different kind of religion.

I offered my own definition of God at this location;
Defining God



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:32 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 

Thanks, I bet some are thinking to "alert" it for sheer divisiveness and "destruction of faith". I hope not, though. (Hope springs eternal!) Instead, I hope to see members joining in, with civil discussion......about different points of view.

The subject matter is one I contemplate daily.....
isn't it time we "married" science to religion??
They really are NOT mutually exclusive.

Thanks for chiming in. For now, I need to log off for my "outdoors-pondering-communion" with the Universe and the Divine.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:36 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


In his communications, he gives information about his decisions and actions, and making decisions implies having a will.

God "willed" the universe into existence (I'm giving you that one); but, at its inception, it was already "done!"

What God would serve us a meal that is raw, poisonous, and promotes insanity?
THE UNIVERSE is the INFORMATION we received from the Creator; it was perfect to begin with. Humanity on Earth was provided everything necessary. We have made extraordinary progress in the "course work";

there were no mistakes made in the Creation of the Universe. It is what it is. Our job is to figure out how it works, and how perfect it is.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:37 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 




There are reasons why the Biblical God can't be described as "impersonal".
For one thing, the Biblical God communicates- the act of communications is one of the running themes of the Bible.
In his communications, he gives information about his decisions and actions, and making decisions implies having a will.
Having a conscious will and being able to communicate suggests something analogous to what we humans call "being a person".

The "impersonal God" concept belongs to a different kind of religion.


Well, clearly, this thread was not promoting the Christian or Abrahamic religions in any sense. So obviously, the "impersonal God" concept wouldn't belong to it.

Also, there's one little problem with your post: the premise of this thread doesn't accept the Bible as an authority, precisely because the "Biblical God" doesn't communicate very well, and when he does, it's either "b e happy or be dead."

So yeah. Sticking with deism on this one.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:38 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


Good thread my friend... S&F

Truly God is not a person.

That seems to be the notion of the Abrahamic religions though... I find it a little absurd to believe God is anything close to a "person"...

I might suggest you read The Apocryphon of John... since i know you enjoy Gnostic texts...

www.abovetopsecret.com...

I think the best discription i've found of God is as follows...

God is the indescribable, uncreated, self existent, eternal all knowing source of all reality and being...

reluctant-messenger.com...

edit on 30-11-2012 by Akragon because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:40 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
God "willed" the universe into existence (I'm giving you that one); but, at its inception, it was already "done!"

The communications quoted in the Bible describe decisions and actions post-Creation.
Of course you can disbelieve them if you want to. My point is simply that the "impersonal God" viewpoint and the Biblical viewpoint can't be reconciled. They are two different kinds of religion.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:41 PM
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reply to post by Akragon
 


God is the indescribable, uncreated, self existent, eternal all knowing source of all reality and being...

Totally agree!!


It "passeth understanding". That part I remember VERY clearly from church. Why can't we just agree that it STILL "passeth understanding", and continue to work on "understanding"?

Yay Science. Yay Creation. Yay creativity and insight and science.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:45 PM
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Originally posted by AfterInfinity
Also, there's one little problem with your post: the premise of this thread doesn't accept the Bible as an authority,

Fair enough.
A statement using the name "God" can be a little ambiguous, so, without pushing the Biblical viewpoint, I just wanted to clarify that the God described in the OP wasn't the Biblical version.
If that's understood on all sides, I can drop out.

edit on 30-11-2012 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:46 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


My point is simply that the "impersonal God" viewpoint and the Biblical viewpoint can't be reconciled. They are two different kinds of religion.

And of these two different kinds of religion, which one makes more sense? The Biblical viewpoint has been studied (almost) to death. The frontiers of discovery about the UNIVERSE have only recently cut their milk teeth.

I appreciate your acknowledgment that the Bible and the "impersonal GOD" can't be reconciled. In my view, that is the problem. Time to retire the Bible into the annals of history and philosophy, along with Socrates, Plato, Homer, Ovid, Chaucer, etc.

Myth is myth. Reality is what we meet every moment of the day, and there is no "highest boss" writing people up or firing them or promoting them. It's a "tool" of humanity as we inch forward toward understanding.

Thanks, though, DISRAELI, stars for participation.

Do you have a suggestion of how to reconcile the two?

Some people don't consider Buddhism a "religion", but...it is. It really is.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:47 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I just wanted to clarify that the God described in the OP wasn't the Biblical version.
If that's understood on all sides, I can drop out.

Why do you want to drop out?


What do you think "God" is? And why?



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:52 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
Do you have a suggestion of how to reconcile the two?

I don't think they really can be.
Either God does communicate, in which case the more "personal" view must be valid, or he doesn't, in which case the "personal" view doesn't have a leg to stand on.
Either way, one of them has to be wrong.
But I've been reminded that this thread is really about expressing the Deistic view, and I promised to drop out.



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:58 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 



Either God does communicate, in which case the more "personal" view must be valid, or he doesn't, in which case the "personal" view doesn't have a leg to stand on.


Gotta disagree with that. Just because a divine force may communicate, doesn't mean we clearly understand what it's saying. And on the other side, maybe we want to communicate so badly that we mistake any random notion for a divine communication, and we are so desperate that we berate others until they are too frightened or exhausted to argue.

Such possibilities are frighteningly likely with such a hardheaded species as ourselves.


But I've been reminded that this thread is really about expressing the Deistic view, and I promised to drop out.


You don't really need to. You're more than welcome to compare your ideas with the ones displayed here to see if some common ground can be found, and perhaps to prove one or more concepts initially presented here to be invalid. That's why I visit Christian threads, to do battle with their ideas and see which ones come out on top. Unfortunately, they don't always play by the rules.
edit on 30-11-2012 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 30 2012 @ 01:58 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
Why do you want to drop out?


What do you think "God" is? And why?

I thought someone was suggesting that dragging in the biblical viewpoint was "off-topic".
As I get obstreporous when people go off-topic on my own threads (see "Waiting for God"), I thought it more courteous to drop out.

Can I answer the second question by referring you to the extended definition I linked to in my first post?






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