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 Is god "impersonal" ?

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:33 am

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"The God of IE is the ultimate impersonal principle of all philosophers and sages of all cultures of all times, but not the tribal god of any specific culture or religion. God is the eternal I AM; the infinite TAO; the formless Brahma. All human attempts to define God—Monotheism, Atheism, Pantheism, Deism—are partly true and partly false, but totally inadequate. "

Gnomon posted this quote in another thread. The thing that struck me about it is that god is described as "the ultimate impersonal principle of all philosophers and sages". What are your thoughts on that? Do you believe that god is impersonal or is there another description that might work better?

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The Paineful Truth

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 02, 2007 1:02 pm

I think impersonal is a word Christians came up with that fits in with their clockmaker analogy. According to them God should be personal, therefore He is.

God adhering to His own Prime Directive communicates the reason God does not interfere, but not that He cares. The shortest phrase I've ever been able to come up with about my theory of the nature of God is, "If God exists, He must be non-interfering in order to preserve our free will but intensely interested in what we, His reason for Creation, do". Just another reason for people not to think and to invent a personal God that thinks likes themselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 02, 2007 7:37 pm

My take on it, is thus. There could well be a personal God that is rooting for us.

As you know Aaron, I've talked about there being a law which governs moral behaviour between sentient beings, in the same way as the laws that define physical interaction (not a theory that you espouse).
But in my view the law governing moral behaviou would, like its physical cousin, be quite impersonal.

Also if there was a personal God and the impersonal law, I would further hypothesize that the two would be inextricabaly linked.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:41 pm

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Do you believe that god is impersonal or is there another description that might work better?

I used the term "impersonal" not to limit the deity in any way, but to emphasize that God, by my definition, cannot be "personal" in any anthro-morphic sense. God may be watching and rooting for us, but I have no way of knowing about that. I don't imagine the Creator as a humanoid person, but as a disembodied mind (try describing that image ). Wink

Here's some more of the God-definition from one of my essays:

GOD
The generic name for the origin and ground of all being. The First Cause of all physical existence. The Prime Mover who started the cause & effect process of evolution. The Creator of the universe. ~God is super-natural, in the sense that nature is a sub-category of God. God is the whole of which the universe is a part. God can only be imagined in terms of analogies with features of the physical world.[like a king or a sculptor] ~In the IE hypothesis God is assumed to be an infinite and eternal entity with no human characteristics except Reason. God communicates with human minds only in the physical relationships (laws of physics, ratios, constants) of the created world. God cannot be known by the 5 senses, but only by the 6th sense of reason. ~IE portrays the all-encompassing Deity as a Mind without a physical body. Metaphorically, the substance of the deity’s meta¬physical “body” is information, formerly known as “spirit”.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:16 am

Sounds pretty good to me. Smile

I would personally describe god as transpersonal however.

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:53 pm

The Paineful Truth wrote:
"If God exists, He must be non-interfering in order to preserve our free will but intensely interested in what we, His reason for Creation, do".
Who are "we" in this context?
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:41 pm

I would assert that not only is God (whatever that may be) impersonal, but that there is no such thing as free will. Human beings are robots, just like all organisms.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:08 pm

Uriah wrote:
...there is no such thing as free will. Human beings are robots, just like all organisms.

Just a note the word "will" is synonymous with desire and intent not action. So "free-will" pertains to free-desire and free-intent not free-action as it's normally understood.

IMO humans have limited free-will combined with instinctual-will.

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:29 pm

Aaron wrote:
Uriah wrote:
...there is no such thing as free will. Human beings are robots, just like all organisms.

Just a note the word "will" is synonymous with desire and intent not action. So "free-will" pertains to free-desire and free-intent not free-action as it's normally understood.

IMO humans have limited free-will combined with instinctual-will.

That's a good point.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 2:04 am

The way I see it is that minds either have private one on one relationships with other minds or public one on many relationships with other minds. I believe that with God it's kinda both. He is concerned with the lives of individuals and with life as a whole.

Also relationships are based on both parties. So, if you relate to God in a personal way then you have a personal relationship with him.

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 10:52 am

Schizophretard wrote:
Also relationships are based on both parties. So, if you relate to God in a personal way then you have a personal relationship with him.
In this personal relationship, how do you distinguish God from a projection of your own mind?

Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying it's just your imagination, because I obviously have no way to know. I'm just curious how you determined it wasn't.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 11:56 am

Just a general question for the board here related to the personal/impersonal division: I see a pretty significant split in Deism between those who believe in a personal or at least interested and actively involved deity or divine providence and those who see no evidence and rule out involvement or divine personal relationships altogether (I'm that kind, in case it matters).

For example, there was a new Yahoo group started for "Spiritual Deism" which I see as more a generic anthropocentric theism because they believe in an involved and personally active God. At first, I was thinking that they are only Deist wannabes, closet theists (and in turn I've been called a closet atheist by that sullivan county deism site guy Smile )... But then I realized that as long as their reasoning got them to that place, they could technically be Deists. Of course, Muslims tell me that their reasoning got them there too, but I bring that up only to be a smartass.

Are there appropriate names for the two very different branches of Deism? Yeah, I know labels are divisive, but they help me understand where others get their perspective.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:44 pm

Wandered Off wrote:
I've been called a closet atheist by that sullivan county deism site guy Smile )...

Join the club. I think he thinks he's the only "real" deist in existence.

Wandered Off wrote:
Are there appropriate names for the two very different branches of Deism? Yeah, I know labels are divisive, but they help me understand where others get their perspective.

Not that I'm aware of although sometimes classical deist and modern deist is used but that's not all that accurate IMO.

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 12:55 pm

Wandered Off wrote:
Schizophretard wrote:
Also relationships are based on both parties. So, if you relate to God in a personal way then you have a personal relationship with him.
In this personal relationship, how do you distinguish God from a projection of your own mind?

Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying it's just your imagination, because I obviously have no way to know. I'm just curious how you determined it wasn't.

I'm not saying that I have a personal relationship with God in the same way that a theist does. I don't talk to him and think he answers me or anything like that. Just when I'm trying to figure out God I'm using my God giving gift of reason. So, since I'm using the gift he gave me in relationship to him in a way I have a personal relationship with him. It's like God is talking to me through my reasoning and the better reasoning skills I have the better I comprehend what he is saying. Understand?
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:04 pm

Schizophretard wrote:
It's like God is talking to me through my reasoning and the better reasoning skills I have the better I comprehend what he is saying. Understand?
Ah, kind of like seeing a painting and feeling sort of a connection to the painter... I feel much better now! Thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Oct 23, 2007 1:19 pm

Wandered Off wrote:
Schizophretard wrote:
It's like God is talking to me through my reasoning and the better reasoning skills I have the better I comprehend what he is saying. Understand?
Ah, kind of like seeing a painting and feeling sort of a connection to the painter... I feel much better now! Thanks!

Exactly! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:33 am

Well, that new "Spiritual Deism" board has a thread now for a guy whose daughter is hospitalized. This is truly a sad and tragic time for him. He posted a request for moral support.

Where it started getting weird is when the board founder immediately responded with starting a "prayer chain". A Deist prayer chain? Suspect

Oh, there I go again. I guess they're still Deists if they "reason" that God listens to prayer, right? I really should stop reading that board before I say something insensitive. Am I the only one who gets grumpy about stuff like this?
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Oct 26, 2007 11:46 am

I guess it can't hurt right?

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:18 pm

Oh, I guess not, unless it builds up some kind of false expectations or false hope. It's like the belief that Santa will leave you presents every Christmas isn't all that bad... Maybe thinking that the creator of the universe thinks you're important enough to alter the future on your behalf is good for self esteem. cheers

It's not the prayer chain itself that I have any trouble with, but associating supplicative prayer with Deism. I know it's a personal problem of mine though.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:20 pm

In my opinion, any time we discuss God being impersonal/personal, we are to a large extent still anthropomorphizing He/She/It/Whatever. Granted, it's hard not to - considering the image of "God" most of us probably grew up with.
I wrestle constantly with my idea of "God", and I have to admit that the idea is mostly intuitive - meaning it's nearly impossible to put into words. But, here goes: I subscribe to the view that all is One and all is foundationally interconnected.
It's an extremely rough analogy, but I compare "God" to a human body. Human beings and everything else in the universe are individual cells within that body. We are that body, yet separate. Of course, human beings are different from a rock, in that we're sentient. Perhaps, sentient beings are like higher forms of cells, such as brain cells. In fact, we are "God" in that we are cells intricate to the body, but not "God" in that we aren't the entire body. And "God" is us, but not just us. He/She/It/Whatever is in fact self-aware and conscious of every movement and action of every cell and autonomic function of the body. That's how "God" could be omniscient - not because He/She/It sees everything, but because He/She/It is everthing.
I've heard it said before that we are the Earth's nervous system. Maybe that's kind of what we are in relation to "God". We're manifestations of "God's" attempt to explore His/Her/Itself.

I don't know how well I've explained my views. If I fell short, I apologize.

One more thing, though, regarding free will. I always liked a quote by Dag Hammerskjold (Sp?): "We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny, but what we put into it is ours."
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:44 pm

Your beliefs are remarkably similar to mine. Now just work Truth into your model....which ain't too hard.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:57 am

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I compare "God" to a human body. Human beings and everything else in the universe are individual cells within that body.

Well, I don't agree with you and Paine.

I'm of more a Libertarian point of view where all the cells aren't equal and all the cells aren't as good. IN fact quite of a few of the cells are cancerous, such as Hitler, and some of the cells are quite good like Ghandi and Martin Luther.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:26 am

Helium wrote:


I'm of more a Libertarian point of view where all the cells aren't equal and all the cells aren't as good. IN fact quite of a few of the cells are cancerous, such as Hitler, and some of the cells are quite good like Ghandi and Martin Luther.

Let's not forget that Hitler is responsible for the best highway system in Europe - one that the US Interstate Highway system was modeled after. No one is all-bad or all-good.

But, anyway....



Aaron, I think prayer CAN hurt, when one puts one's trust in prayer instead of taking reasonable action to resolve a problem on one's own.

Praying never made sense to me. Christians believe that God has a plan for each of us and that God is infallible, which means God cannot make a mistake. We're also told to believe that whatever happens to you is a part of God’s plan, which we are not wise enough to understand. We, being hapless victims, must accept what God has wrought because “God knows best”.
And yet… when you are unhappy with what God has given you, you pray to God to change his mind!
So, if he grants your wish, does that mean that He was wrong? Why is He willing to be dissuaded from following His infallible plan just because you asked nicely - even though you didn’t understand why He did what He did in the first place? Who are YOU, to tell God what He should do?

And why is He listening to you?

Could it be that God’s plan has always been to allow you to choose your own path in this life? Whenever you are not happy with the results you have gotten so far, He gave you the ability to change the outcome.
While our children are young we try to teach them how to make decisions on their own, so that they will be able to direct their own lives when they become adults. Would God do any less for us? Pity the child whose parents keep him dependent for his entire life. You are the creator of your own life.

That is God’s plan!
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:52 am

I share a similar view of God as Thoreau does but I believe all that exists is God's thoughts.

Sticking to the subject I believe God has no more and no less a personal relationship with us than we do to the imaginary characters in our minds.

To the Hitler and Ghandi thing I believe God has nightmares as well as dreams.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:01 pm

Wandered Off wrote:
Just a general question for the board here related to the personal/impersonal division: I see a pretty significant split in Deism between those who believe in a personal or at least interested and actively involved deity or divine providence and those who see no evidence and rule out involvement or divine personal relationships altogether (I'm that kind, in case it matters).

Since I came to Deism by way of the Universist Movement, with its ecumenical, big-umbrella approach to non-mainstream religious beliefs (including Atheism and Agnosticism), I am reluctant to judge other people's path to "spirituality". However, since I enjoy learning about the variety of religious experiences, I can't help but analyze and categorize for my own understanding.

The main "split" that I see within the Deism "community", is between the Paineites and the New Agers. Those who view the Deity as a symbolic abstraction like "Reason" or "Truth", or "Word" are the intellectual descendants of Thomas Paine and western philosophy. But those who view the Deity as a more literal spirit or force (chi, prana, etheric body, etc.) within all of us are probably more influenced by Eastern religious philosophies.

On the other hand, I see another---more sinister---dichotomy, which is the same wedge that divided the Universists. And that is the difference between those who "need" Religion, and those who are content with Philosophy. One faction of Universists was satisfied to share the "intellectual sentiment" of why-can't-we-all-just-get-along?" In other words, we can humbly agree to disagree, since nobody has the whole Truth. The other group consisted mostly of those who felt a need for more personalized social and psychological services, such as funerals or prayers, and worship or group meditation. The latter seem to require a more sympathetic deity.

Historically, the main problem with cohesive in-group religions has been the necessity for unanimity of belief. Which in turn, requires some kind of rules and regulations and enforcement. But it's usually those peripheral matters, rather than the beliefs themselves, that cause the most grief among members. So while most Deists are OK with the idea of personal spirituality, some balk at the philosophical compromises of group spirituality.

Personal integrity versus group integrity is an ancient conundrum, which usually requires some kind of lateral thinking. Likewise, a rule-making Deity, versus a rule-bending G*D?; once-upon-a-time Creation, versus as-needed providence; "let-go and let-God", versus do-it-yourself salvation? The answers to such questions can become labels of bonding, or of distinction.

Now, what was the question again? . . . . . confused
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