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 Is god "impersonal" ?

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Gnomon
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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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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:20 am

Gnomon wrote:
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.

The funny thing is that I see myself in both of those descriptions.

The other thing that I find funny is that many deists seem to be under the impression that Thomas Paine somehow invented Deism or that he was a "leading deist thinker" of his day, both of which are incorrect.

Sure Paine might be the most influential person in the modern deist movement, but 'Age of Reason' had very little effect on the spread of Deism during it's day. It really served more as an overview of the deist thought that had been developed and circulated across Europe and America for the better part of the previous century and a half, as well as a well formulated attack on Christianity and Islam in general. Paine actually added very little to deist philosophy or thought other then adding a very accessible piece of work to an already well established tradition.

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The Paineful Truth

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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Tue Jan 29, 2008 6:28 pm

Helium wrote:
Quote :
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.

How is that disagreeing? Hitler just gets excreted and flushed down the toilet.

Gnomon, I agree with Aaron, I see myself as both. It's the ones who think a personal relationship is where God talks back that I don't agree with.
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:01 pm

My analogy about "God" and the human body was very rough, I admit. Essentially, I was trying to illustrate my own view of "God" as interpenetrating and penetrating everything that exists. I do, however, subscribe to the Eastern view that there is no evil, strictly speaking. There is only ignorance and delusion. As a result, we are all good and "God-natured" at our most fundamental level. In other words, Hitler and Stalin, weren't evil; they performed "evil" deeds. But that doesn't absolve them from their actions. If there is a hell, I think they're paying. But I don't think that hell is by any means eternal.
I also feel very uncomfortable discussing "God" as God, the Super-Person. Yet, it's difficult to put into words how I perceive He/She/It. Rather than create, my "God" manifests. And, if "God" is not personal, is it a waste of time to worship? In my opinion, Vedanta comes closest to the "Nature of God" in saying "God" is both personal (Saguna Brahma) and impersonal (Nirguna Brahma). The Ineffable can manifest in a "personal" form, that humans can worship, but there is also a major aspect of He/She/It that is completely incomprehensible and unapproachable. I'll quit now, before I forget what the heck I was even talking about.
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: Is god "impersonal" ?   Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:38 pm

Thoreau wrote:
My analogy about "God" and the human body was very rough, I admit.

I catch your drift though and very much agree.

Thoreau wrote:
In my opinion, Vedanta comes closest to the "Nature of God" in saying "God" is both personal (Saguna Brahma) and impersonal (Nirguna Brahma). The Ineffable can manifest in a "personal" form, that humans can worship, but there is also a major aspect of He/She/It that is completely incomprehensible and unapproachable. I'll quit now, before I forget what the heck I was even talking about.

Yes I like Vedanta quite a bit myself but I don't always agree with their interpretation of "the Non-dual". But in all fairness it's a concept that's impossible to describe in language which is necessarily dualistic. In other words it has to be experienced to be known.

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