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How do you define "God" without religion?

Discussion in 'Religion and Lighthearted Discussion' started by TBradyOwnsYou, Oct 5, 2012.

  1. TBradyOwnsYou

    TBradyOwnsYou Rookie

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    I recently had a discussion with a friend who has studied multiple religions, HATES organized religion, yet claims to KNOW that God exists. He can't define what that God is, or why he knows it (and he admits it sounds silly) so I figured I'd throw that out and see if there is anyone else with similar views who could help him describe it.

    I personally think that it's just his leftover indoctrination from his upbringing in organized religion and when he cast it off, he kept this small nugget with him to give him comfort. I believe his inability to define or explain it is a psychological defense mechanism to prevent his logical mind from removing that last hook of comfortable delusion that would cast him away into the chasm of the unknown which he was raised to be fearful of.

    What say you?
  2. RI Patriots fan

    RI Patriots fan Rookie

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    Like most people who claim to be "spiritual" but don't follow an organized religion, they create a God in their own image who requires nothing of them outside of following their own feelings and desires.
  3. PatsFanLisa

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    I don't believe people who are spiritual create any image, or at least some of them don't.

    But just out of curiosity, what image is there of god? Wouldn't that just be an image that YOU created, much like what you are saying people without religion create an image of themselves

    BTW, you needn't put air quotes around spiritual. There is something that is actually called spirituality that doesn't necessarily need religion attached to it.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  4. Rossmci90

    Rossmci90 Rookie

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    There are a number of people who are outside of organised religion who believe in a "non-personal God". A sort of entity who does not effect the daily lives of people, but created the Universe.
  5. RI Patriots fan

    RI Patriots fan Rookie

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    Yup, I understand that....there are lots of belief systems out there.

    But the question is, why do they believe what they believe?
  6. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    I think you changed the argument of the other poster who said many people don't believe in a personalized god which you stressed.

    Answering why do people chose a different religion is very personal and complexed. All Catholics aren't Catholics for the same reason.

    To the original poster yes your theory is possible as to why he feels this way but it's also possible he just feels a connection to the universe on a more scientific scale.

    Religious views of Albert Einstein - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Baruch Spinoza - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  7. RI Patriots fan

    RI Patriots fan Rookie

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    Please explain to me how someone feels a connection to the universe on a scientific scale?? What exactly does that mean?

    Yes, Catholics choose to be Catholics for many different reasons. But if those reasons don't facilitate a true faith initiated by grace, then I dont see the value of such a belief system.
  8. TBradyOwnsYou

    TBradyOwnsYou Rookie

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    I asked if he meant a creator, to which he replied "I don't know."

    The more I asked for specifics about this god, he would say no or I don't know to them all, yet still said he KNEW God existed.

    I guess it's likely just the semantics that trip me up as everything he says makes him sound like a flavor of agnostic, yet he is steadfast about "knowing" that God exists which I can't understand without a definition of some sort.

    He also has extreme trouble viewing atheism as anything but a belief system (which it is exactly not) which again leads me to believe it's a leftover from his prior religiosity.
  9. PatsFanLisa

    PatsFanLisa Rookie

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    So, in other words, if Catholics don't follow the Golden Rules that you follow, then they're really not good Catholics?

    Just because someone doesn't believe or follow strictly in the same way that, say, you might does not make them any less of a Catholic. Just because YOU don't see the value of their belief system does not make them any less of a Catholic.

    And just so we're clear here, what you don't value as a good enough belief system really doesn't matter. Right? What matters is how that person interprets, adheres to, and believes for his own faith in his Catholicism.
  10. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    It means they feel that everything in the universe is connected and many people feel quantum physics and string theory justify this.

    You want keep changing the topic. You asked why people chose those paths and I think that's very individual in choice and thus the reasoning is very diversified. I don't think a choice has to be initiated by Grace. That's a very dogmatic way of thinking at least in my interpretation.
  11. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    Because of life experiences it's possible to believe in some sort of afterlife and higher intelligence but also believe that man is incapable of understand what it is and that all the man made religions are BS.
  12. RI Patriots fan

    RI Patriots fan Rookie

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    How specifically is everything in the universe connected and how exactly does that affect me?

    I think I answered your question from a Catholic perspective. The Catholic church clearly teachs that our choices that bring us to God are initiated by grace and ultimately our salvation is absolutely and completely reliant on grace. If I'm a Catholic and I deny grace then I'm denying my faith. So ultimately there is only one way to come to true Catholicism and that is by grace.

    Dogmatic??? Of course....the Catholic church is a dogmatic institution.
  13. Wolfpack

    Wolfpack Banned

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    Despite what John Kerry says, the Catholic Church is not a cafeteria. There are certains tenets so fundamental to Catholicism that yes, I gladly will say someone is not a good Catholic if they don't share those beliefs.

    If someone says "I'm Catholic, but I don't believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God" then sorry, but I'm going to say that person isn't really a good Catholic. (Don't get me wrong; they quite likely will still be a good person, just not a good Catholic.)
  14. Mrs.PatsFanInVa

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    #24 Jersey

    But the original question was about God's existance in general - not about what the Catholic Church thinks or how to arrive at true Catholicism.

    Many people believe in God - they are certainly not all Catholics. Nor are their beliefs to be dismissed.
  15. RI Patriots fan

    RI Patriots fan Rookie

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    Yes, I understand what the original question was in this thread. I was answering another poster who was relating it to Catholicism.
  16. PatsFanInVa

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    First of all, if you can define God, you're shooting too low. If you believe, when you talk about God, you're talking about a definite construct that he must by definition exceed. Let's be scientific, and talk about what's not in dispute, the physical universe. We can describe its immense total size numerically. We can even believe that the model we hold in our minds approximates the truth of that vastness. Similarly we can talk about all the empty space in an atom, and make up metaphors about a ball bearing in Los Angeles and a basketball in Wembley stadium, or whatevah, but we can't truly grok the truth that we scientifically know -- that a block of lead is well more than 99% empty space.

    How many stars are there? You can say a number - really an abstraction of the numbers you can name, that is, a number to the power of another number. You can say what you know of the classifications of stars. How do you get a star? You can talk about enough hydrogen gathering together that the gravity crushes it down raising its temperature and pressure until nuclear fusion happens.

    Have you ever seen, can you ever actually imagine, gas in such a volume that it's exerting gravity at all, in any noticeable way?

    No, but you'd notice its absence. I'm digressing, not setting up a proof or a metaphor. That's not the point.

    The point is more that we have only one language to really talk about these scales, and that's mathematics. Even at that, we're only describing, we're not talking about the thing itself, but an abstraction of the thing. There would not be enough room in your head to know the detail of every partical, not enough neural pathways to know them. We know the model. The map is not the land.

    We'd get into theist/agnostic or atheist disagreement were I to posit that the sum of the Universe does not contain the sum of divinity. In fact, were I to so posit, I'm not certain I'd understand what I was saying.

    However, even taking the sum of all that is as God, and imbuing it with organization, even including the law that dictates entropy, were I to say "I will now define God," I would be lying. Similarly, were I even to try the mundane task of defining the universe, I would be lying, strictly speaking. I would be describing the current state of knowledge about a model. in fact, at the quantuum scale, one rule is you can't know.

    For him to try to convince you with a "definition" would be bullcrap. But for you to try to ridicule him for the lack of one is similarly ridiculous. For the believer, you don't define God. You don't have the processing power to do it. For the unbeliever, you can snicker for the lack of a definition, all the while accepting a simplistic model for all you do claim to know.

    I've been described hereabouts as a "heritage Jew," meaning I grew up in Judaism but I'm not observant. They're right, so far as their definition goes. However, the most central confessional formula of my faith (as pronounced) is shema yisroel, adonai Elohanu, adonai ehud. "Hear, O Israel, the lord our God, the lord is One."

    My little model is this: If the lord is One, nothing's outside him but by process of purposeful separation, that is, creation. I agree with the Kabbalists though that the separation is never absolute (their metaphor is that there's a spark of the divine everywhere.) I suspect though that the entirety is too anthrocentric, and that the separation is, in fact illusion. I've fallen into a bit of a pantheistic heresy I'm afraid, with a conscious (for want of a better word) and living (for want of a better word) cosmos.

    We've decided we have a universe that came into being somewhere just south of fourteen billion years ago. Then we get to a couple of those mysteries you can only get your head around if you're a math geek, to wit:

    1) strictly speaking there was nothing before the big bang, because time was created by the big bang, along with space, stuff, and energy. Don't get it. Supposed to be true. Your brain's not designed to understand that time started -- time's not supposed to be an actual thing, it's the order of things. But that's what the Discovery Channel says.

    2) Ya get something for nothing. Or to be more precise, you get everything for nothing. But it's okay, because it's balanced by a bunch of negative energy or somesuch generated simultaneously.

    But then you can posit that universes, plural, pop in and out of existence all the time, which makes the "uni" part sound a bit silly.

    So, I need a word for "the whole shootin' match" - a conscious, living, shootin' match that we stand in relation to as a miniscule cell to an enormous -- astronomically enormous -- body.

    So I don't think about a being outside of the natural order with a consciousness approximating human consciousness. I think more of a mindful and connected universe. I have no real understanding of "the big thought," but I feel we're not its object, but parts of it.

    This stuff is just the primitive model, the lie I tell because it's the closest lie to the truth, and it's challenging to me to try to explain it. I can tell you about the "moving parts" or give you if/then statements, I can tell you whatever you like. I'll get it wrong. It will be clunky and partial, and it will be words about things neither of us "get."

    You can answer with other words, and you can explain that a model can be built without such a mindful universe (or multiverse if we have to put it that way, though I believe in a uniGod.)

    In the end, however, you'll ask for proof, and I will be happy to say go fish. I could play that silly game, but it would come down to "I like my models built that way." The same would be true for you. You would explain to me that a scientific understanding of nature demands an objective analysis that does not posit subjective unprovable beings (or properties of known forces and particles.) But I'd ask you: how do you objectively describe the subjective?

    And in the final analysis, that is all that such an understanding of God posits: that the subjective does, in fact, exist. You could disprove the subjectivity of the various individuals typing in this forum by the same means as disproving the subjective life of all that is. However, you still posit those subjective other minds.

    You can list the proofs of other subjective consciousnesses, but they are pretty weak and could easily be supplied by fooling the senses (the old brain-in-a-jar thing, lately updated to the Matrix and all that.)

    Similarly, you can say there's no real benefit to believing any higher orders of consciousness. The same applies. This is what's evident to me, but I cannot make it evident to you.

    PFnV
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2012
  17. PatsFanInVa

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    By the way, you are correct: Atheism's not a belief system. He's being a jerk. :)

    PFnV
  18. Leave No Doubt

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    Well said.
  19. Leave No Doubt

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    I say (given your "diagnosis" I assume you're a psychologist/psychiatrist/counselor qualified to draw these conclusions):

    I find it interesting that his belief in God signifies some sort of mental malfunction to you. Nothing a few years on a couch wouldn't cure no doubt ;).

    Conversely,choosing NOT to believe in God has been construed by some to signify a fear of someday having to face your own demons; thought-provoking concept, I wonder if there's any truth to it.

    Interesting thread, thanks! I don't usually read this forum much, but lately God/religion/spirituality has become mainstream conversation, I find a lot of people are talking about God vs religion lately which I think is cool. Real deep stuff, if they can stay away from being reactionary that is.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012
  20. everlong

    everlong Rookie

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    #12 Jersey

    That's what I was getting at. You're approaching this from a dogmatic and in this case Catholic perspective. I was raised Catholic so I understand the perspective but my point it not everybody is inclined to that way of thinking.

    If everything in the universe is connected everything affects you. Just like the many flavors of Christianity there's equally numerous theories. Some believe everything has a soul. Not just you and I but a single blade of grass and that we are all connected in the energy of the universe. Others believe this is one of many existences for our souls and for every choice there's a different version of us living a life that teaches our souls lessons. This isn't a Catholic version where answers are simple and black and white. I'm not saying that in a better or worse way, just different.

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