Thursday

MULTIPLE PROBLEMS WITH ATHEISM: Part 4 Ignorance Of Contemporary Concepts Of God

Unlike atheism with it's single slogan and mantra "There is no God / gods", contemporary theology and contemporary philosophy of religion are extremely complex. Describing God to an atheist is like describing colour to a blind man.

One can indirectly describe God as theologians and philosophers of religion do regularly. They both use metaphor. The vast majority of contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion define God as non-empirical.

Atheism relies on extremely outdated definitions from the 19th century and earlier and erroneously assumes an empirical God for which there must be empirical evidence. The Christian trinity of Father God, the Christ of Faith and the Holy Spirit are all non-empirical. ( The historical Jesus of Nazareth is empirical.) The Jewish God Hashem and the Muslim God Al-Lah are also both non-empirical.

I use the metaphor "Ground of All Being" used by Christian philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich (as well as mentioned in the Hindu Vedas as a metaphor for Brahman). A non-theistic God does not exist but is the Ground of All Being - that which makes existence possible. It does not have the characteristic of that which it creates - existence.

All that atheists can say against such a non-theistic non-existent God who is the Ground of All Being God is that it is somehow "redefining" God and "moving the goalposts" as though both theology and the philosophy of religions must remain stuck in the 19th century or earlier so that atheists have a straw man to joust against. It is hardly "redefining" or "moving the goal posts" when that same God is mentioned as Brahman in the Vedas 3000 years ago as well as being mentioned more recently by Paul Tillich, John Shelby Spong and Karen Armstrong to name a few.

Theist Grandmother's God and Atheist Uncle's God is not a non-theistic God. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_ZML17tRx0

Atheism is the disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods. A non-theistic God who is the Ground of All Being does not exist. God's existence belongs to theism and not non-theism. Atheism is thus totally irrelevant to those who follow this non-theistic God. An atheist argument against theism is of no interest or concern to non-theists.

Atheists apparently do not know that which they are against against - "A-theism." It is like being an "a-blahist" and not knowing what "blah" means. For a movement supposedly built upon reason there is much unreasonableness, irrationality and illogical thinking involved.

I quote from Karen Armstrong "A History Of God"(Vintage: 1999):

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Throughout history people have discarded a conception of God when it no longer works for them. p. 408.

[Carl] Jung .... whether he believed in God ... replied emphatically: 'I do not have to believe. I kniow!'Jung's continued faith suggests that a subjective God, mysteriously identified with the ground of being in the depths of the self, can survive psychoanalytic science in a way that a more personal, anthropomorphic deity who can encourage perpetual immaturity may not. p. 410

It is impossible for us to meet God in any anthropomorphic way. God is the Ground of all being, so bound up with our own existence that we cannot possibly talk to him, as though he were simply another person like ourselves. There are no words or ideas that describe God. p. 426

Paul Tillich (1868-1965) ... A God who kept tinkering with the universe was absurd; a God who interfered with human freedom and creativity was a tyrant. If God is seen as a self in a world of his own, an ego that relates to a thou, a cause separate from its effect, 'he' becomes a being, not Being itself. An omnipotent, all-knowing tyrant is not so different from earthly dictators who made everything and everybody mere cogs in the machine which they controlled. An atheism that rejects such a God is amply justified. Instead we should seek to find a 'God' above this personal God. ..... a God who, as Being itself, was nearer to the I than our own ego. Tillich preferred the definition of God as the Ground of being. Participation in such a God above 'God' does not alienate us from the world but immerses us in reality. It returns us to ourselves. Human beings have to use symbols when they talk about Being-itself: to speak literally or realistically about it is inaccurate and untrue. ... pp. 438-439

The mystics have long insisted that God is not an-Other Being; they have claimed that he does not really exist and that it is better to call him Nothing. This God is in tune
with the atheistic mood of our secular society with its distrust of inadequate images of the absolute. Instead of seeing God as an objective Fact, which can be demonstrated by means of scientific proof, mystics have claimed that he is a subjective experience, mysteriously experienced in the ground of being. This God is to be approached through the imagination and can be seen as a kind of art form, akin to the other great artistic symbols that have expressed the ineffable mystery, beauty and value of life. Mystics have used music, dancing, poetry, fiction, stories, painting, sculpture and architecture to express this Reality that goes beyond concepts. Like all art, however, mysticism requires intelligence, discipline and self-criticism as a safeguard against indulgent emotionalism and projection. ... The God of the mystics does not arrive ready-made and prepackaged. ... God does not exist in any simplistic sense, for example, or that the very word 'God' is only a symbol of a reality that ineffably transcends it. ... pp. 454 -455

Ever since the prophets of Israel started to ascribe their own feelings and experiences to God, monotheists have in some sense created a God for themselves. God has rarely been seen as a self-evident fact that can be encountered like any other objective existent. p.456

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nontheist (ˌnɒnˈθiːɪst)

Definitions
noun

(religion)
1. a person who believes the existence or non-existence of God is irrelevant; a person who rejects as unimportant both theism and atheism
2. a person who rejects theism (belief in a personal God or gods), whether as an atheist or agnostic

From http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/nontheist

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The following should also be noted as the "Atheist Mantra" of demanding empirical evidence for a non-empirical God is a category error. Few theists believe in an empirical God. The "Atheist Mantra" of demanding empirical evidence for a non-empirical God is thus a Straw Man argument.

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a. Incorporeality

Incorporeality. God has no body (from Latin, incorporale), or is non-physical. This is a central tenet of monotheistic religions, which insist that any references to God’s eyes, ears, mind, and the like are anthropomorphic. ...

While some regard God’s incorporeality as true analytically (that is, true by the very definition of the word “God”), others derive it from one or more other attributes. Accordingly, God cannot be corporeal because that would preclude his being eternal, immutable, and simple, for example. Furthermore, if God were corporeal and omnipresent, it would seem that all physical things would be part of God. Others derive divine incorporeality from an apparent incorporeal element of human nature, termed the soul or spirit.

From http://www.iep.utm.edu/god-west/

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