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God in the imperfect

 
Magda
 
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Magda
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26 March 2017 03:04
 

Magda - 25 March 2017 06:35 PM

Hi Jan, I see so much evidence of God (a god) in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect actually (working with people who are at the end of their life, the sharp end, will do that).

Hi Magda. I’m genuinely curious to know why you think the imperfections of the world are more likely to be evidence for an all-loving and all-powerful God, rather than evidence for a purely naturalistic universe. 

My comment was reflecting Jan’s words of course and the use of the word evidence here is no doubt going to cause problems straight away.  I know atheists (I was one) like hard ‘evidence’.  I have no ‘evidence’ that you would likely recognise or, I suspect, respect as that.  My ‘evidence’ is purely personal and experiential. 

To be clear, Ron, the question I am going to address is: Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

To answer this question we’ll need to drift off into poetry etc and I’ve a feeling that’s not going to cut it with you, but we can try.


The well of grief by David Whyte

Those who will not slip beneath
the still surface on the well of grief
turning down to its black water
to the place that we cannot breathe
will never know the source from which we drink
the secret water cold and clear
nor find in the darkness
the small gold coins
thrown by those who wished for something else

Self Portrait by David Whyte

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
abandoned.
If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with its harsh need
to change you.
If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand.
I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing.
I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have been told, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

“Might the authority of those who suffer bring the diverse cultural and social worlds together?”
—Johann Baptist Metz

I believe this profound question about suffering, from a modern German theologian, succinctly and precisely expresses the religious breakthrough that Christ has offered humanity. It is also foundational to understanding the unique Franciscan view of the world. True gospel authority, the authority to heal and renew things and people, is not finally found in a hierarchical office, a theological argument, a perfect law, or a rational explanation. The Crucified revealed to the world that the real power that changes people and the world is an inner authority that comes from people who have lost, let go, and are re-found on a new level.
Such an ability to really change and heal people is often the fruit of suffering, and various forms of poverty, since the false self does not surrender without a fight to its death. If suffering is “whenever we are not in control” (which is my definition), then you see why some form of suffering is absolutely necessary to teach us how to live beyond the illusion of control and to give that control back to God.
They voluntarily leapt into the very fire from which most of us are trying to escape, with total trust that Jesus’ way of the cross could not, and would not, be wrong. They (Francis and Clare) trusted that his way was the way of solidarity and communion with the larger world, which is indeed passing away and dying. By God’s grace, they could trust the eventual passing of all things, and where it was passing to. They did not wait for liberation later—after death—but grasped it here and now.
Richard Rohr

Mostly all of the above I have found to be true by way of experience. I don’t think that this way of viewing suffering as transformative is found exclusively in the Christian religion at all, but is at the heart of many religions and philosophies.

I realise that I haven’t addressed the practical implications of my statement.  I may come back to that, along with some examples, later.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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26 March 2017 03:28
 

Thanks, Magda.  For those of us who base faith on personal experience, your post made sense. Hard evidence leads to knowledge, not faith.  Experience leads to other worlds.  I’ll be interested to read the responses.

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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26 March 2017 06:08
 
Magda - 26 March 2017 03:04 AM

To be clear, Ron, the question I am going to address is: Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

 

If I had to pick one issue that impacts all of these discussions, it would be the question
What is evidence?

Perhaps stated differently, “what does each individual accept as evidence?”

 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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26 March 2017 07:43
 
EN - 26 March 2017 03:28 AM

Thanks, Magda.  For those of us who base faith on personal experience, your post made sense. Hard evidence leads to knowledge, not faith.  Experience leads to other worlds.  I’ll be interested to read the responses.

Faith based on personal experience is OK with me as long as it is kept personal and out of public policy.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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26 March 2017 08:04
 
Magda - 26 March 2017 03:04 AM

Magda - 25 March 2017 06:35 PM

Hi Jan, I see so much evidence of God (a god) in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect actually (working with people who are at the end of their life, the sharp end, will do that).

Hi Magda. I’m genuinely curious to know why you think the imperfections of the world are more likely to be evidence for an all-loving and all-powerful God, rather than evidence for a purely naturalistic universe. 

My comment was reflecting Jan’s words of course and the use of the word evidence here is no doubt going to cause problems straight away.  I know atheists (I was one) like hard ‘evidence’.  I have no ‘evidence’ that you would likely recognise or, I suspect, respect as that.  My ‘evidence’ is purely personal and experiential. 

To be clear, Ron, the question I am going to address is: Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

To answer this question we’ll need to drift off into poetry etc and I’ve a feeling that’s not going to cut it with you, but we can try.

To clarify my beliefs, the statement being reflected (from another post) was:
I don’t know how to participate in discussions about the intricacies of the universe, and I don’t know if science will ever be able to answer all of these questions.  However, it is my personal ‘belief’ that this does not indicate divine creation.  I see no evidence of a god in this beautiful and imperfect world we live in.  I have many reasons for this, but these have all been discussed at length by others; I have nothing original that can be added.

Magda, you say that “working with people who are at the end of their life, the sharp end ...” has led you to “see so much evidence of God (a god) ...”.  I think I understand (at least a little), that a belief in God can bring comfort and hope in such intense and emotional situations.  I appreciate your compassion for the people in your care.  I also have been present at the end of life, with those I love, and cannot see or believe that there could be a god who would permit such suffering of people who were truly good.  (To be clear, I stopped believing in God before this time, not because of it.)  However, the intense and profound love between people at the end of life cannot be easily described.  I think, maybe, it could be described as almost spiritual.

 

 
 
jdrnd
 
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26 March 2017 08:15
 
Jan_CAN - 26 March 2017 08:04 AM

...a belief in God can bring comfort and hope in such intense and emotional situations.

Yes, it does.

there is a “but”, to this statement.

 
Brother Mario
 
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Brother Mario
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26 March 2017 08:19
 

If I had to pick one issue, I would pick:

Is there only faith in God, or is there also knowledge of God?

Since evidence is so important around here, let’s look at some.

Does the evidence show that Jesus was a fictional character who the New Testament writers were writing a novel about, including themselves in this novel?

Does the evidence show that Jesus was a prayerful person of great faith in God, or a powerful person with great knowledge of God?

Does the evidence show that Jesus failed at being the Messiah for humanity, or that he was completely successful?

Does the evidence show that Paul, the Apostle, never saw Jesus but only had faith he did?

Does the evidence show that all the testimonies of people throughout history who claimed real and true experiences of God (i.e., knowledge of God), and who followed up these experiences with world-changing actions, were simply mistaken?

Does the evidence show that there is a psychological movement of faith every time God is said to have revealed himself?

...

After Jesus died, most of his apostles were persecuted until they were martyred. Those in power at the time kept telling them that their faith in Jesus was nothing more than faith, so they should shut up about it and not make trouble. The same thing is happening today, on this very forum, in fact.

Here’s how they responded:

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than God. For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

...

This is how I see the issue.

And any honest searching through the evidence would lead any true skeptic to the real question that even Trump knew how to ask—

“What the hell is going on?”

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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26 March 2017 08:57
 

The catch is in determining what one is willing to take as “evidence.” A good distinction to consider is between evidence and instance. The former is something that can be seen as counting either for or against a belief or assertion, the latter is something taken as an illustration of a belief or an assertion. (There is a chapter in the Castenada book Journey to Ixtlan where this is dealt with in terms of “omens” and “agreements.” In general Castenada is a great fraud, but he gets this one right and in a clever way.)

And just for the hell of it, we could consider the ontological argument and the reason that it fails:

God as all perfection must exist,
No aspect of perfection can be missed.
But that which is not
Cannot call the shot
And that my dearest friends, is the gist.

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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26 March 2017 09:18
 
burt - 26 March 2017 08:57 AM

A good distinction to consider is between evidence and instance. The former is something that can be seen as counting either for or against a belief or assertion, the latter is something taken as an illustration of a belief or an assertion.

Thank you.
This is helpful.

 
jdrnd
 
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26 March 2017 09:20
 
burt - 26 March 2017 08:57 AM

There is a chapter in the Castenada book Journey to Ixtlan where this is dealt with in terms of “omens” and “agreements.” In general Castenada is a great fraud…

I read Castaneda’s first three books in college.  I believed them.

 
Magda
 
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Magda
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26 March 2017 09:33
 
jdrnd - 26 March 2017 06:08 AM
Magda - 26 March 2017 03:04 AM

To be clear, Ron, the question I am going to address is: Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

 

If I had to pick one issue that impacts all of these discussions, it would be the question
What is evidence?

Perhaps stated differently, “what does each individual accept as evidence?”

Thanks for putting the question in pink.

I’m thinking along the lines that everyone in this context (not anything scientific which can checked by hard evidence - let’s call it soft evidence) is individual and unique in what they will accept. What would you accept Jeff?  As an atheist I would have accepted nothing less than Jesus himself walking in the room and sitting down in front of me or something of that magnitude.  In my local church Jesus himself could walk in and sit down in front of them and they wouldn’t recognise him, but that’s just my gripe. For some here it would need all the animals in the zoo, Disney style, singing the Hallelujah chorus.

For me: Shared experience would be one kind of soft evidence.  Not shared delusion or mass hysteria, but like the poems I posted above where if one has had that experience – of loss, of falling to the bottom of a dark well or stared into the abyss and then, quite unexpectedly, found something very beautiful and profound. Sacred art and music where one understands, on a deeper level, what is going on. In that moment you know someone has travelled there before you, you recognise that place.  There is much literature, especially early Christian writings, which are richly illuminated with experiences of God that seem familiar. That kind of thing.

For me: Any reflections, decisions, inspirations etc that come from a place of Love. I’ve learnt to recognise that place and so often something will come from there that would not be my normal reaction in the past. Again, this is very individual as only I know how I would have reacted before so I can’t prove it.

 

 
 
MrRon
 
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26 March 2017 09:47
 
Magda - 26 March 2017 03:04 AM

Magda - 25 March 2017 06:35 PM

Hi Jan, I see so much evidence of God (a god) in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect actually (working with people who are at the end of their life, the sharp end, will do that).

Hi Magda. I’m genuinely curious to know why you think the imperfections of the world are more likely to be evidence for an all-loving and all-powerful God, rather than evidence for a purely naturalistic universe. 

My comment was reflecting Jan’s words of course and the use of the word evidence here is no doubt going to cause problems straight away.  I know atheists (I was one) like hard ‘evidence’.  I have no ‘evidence’ that you would likely recognise or, I suspect, respect as that.  My ‘evidence’ is purely personal and experiential.

Thanks so much for putting your thoughts down, Magda. Question… if YOUR evidence is “purely personal and experiential”, is it possible that somebody else can have equally convincing (to them) purely personal and experiential evidence that conflicts with yours?

To be clear, Ron, the question I am going to address is: Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

I would have preferred if you would address my original question, which differs from this.

To answer this question we’ll need to drift off into poetry etc and I’ve a feeling that’s not going to cut it with you, but we can try.

Thanks. But yes, I’d rather not drift off into poetry land. grin

Mostly all of the above I have found to be true by way of experience. I don’t think that this way of viewing suffering as transformative is found exclusively in the Christian religion at all, but is at the heart of many religions and philosophies.

I realise that I haven’t addressed the practical implications of my statement.  I may come back to that, along with some examples, later.

If YOU were God, would gratuitous suffering be built in to your universe? Would natural disasters burn/crush/drown innocent babies, children, kittens, and puppies? I’m not sure if you’re a parent, but if you had a child that was suffering immensely, and you could very easily alleviate that suffering, would you do it? Why or why not?

Regards,
Ron

[ Edited: 26 March 2017 10:02 by MrRon]
 
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26 March 2017 09:55
 
EN - 26 March 2017 03:28 AM

Thanks, Magda.  For those of us who base faith on personal experience, your post made sense. Hard evidence leads to knowledge, not faith.  Experience leads to other worlds.  I’ll be interested to read the responses.

Hi EN. As I asked Magda, if you base faith on personal experience, does that mean that faith can lead someone to one conclusion and someone else to an opposite conclusion (depending on their own experiences)?

Thanks,
Ron

 
jdrnd
 
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26 March 2017 10:09
 
Magda - 26 March 2017 09:33 AM
jdrnd - 26 March 2017 06:08 AM
Magda - 26 March 2017 03:04 AM

To be clear, Ron, the question I am going to address is: Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

 

If I had to pick one issue that impacts all of these discussions, it would be the question
What is evidence?

Perhaps stated differently, “what does each individual accept as evidence?”

Thanks for putting the question in pink.

I’m thinking along the lines that everyone in this context (not anything scientific which can checked by hard evidence - let’s call it soft evidence) is individual and unique in what they will accept. What would you accept Jeff?  As an atheist I would have accepted nothing less than Jesus himself walking in the room and sitting down in front of me or something of that magnitude.  In my local church Jesus himself could walk in and sit down in front of them and they wouldn’t recognise him, but that’s just my gripe. For some here it would need all the animals in the zoo, Disney style, singing the Hallelujah chorus.

For me: Shared experience would be one kind of soft evidence.  Not shared delusion or mass hysteria, but like the poems I posted above where if one has had that experience – of loss, of falling to the bottom of a dark well or stared into the abyss and then, quite unexpectedly, found something very beautiful and profound. Sacred art and music where one understands, on a deeper level, what is going on. In that moment you know someone has travelled there before you, you recognise that place.  There is much literature, especially early Christian writings, which are richly illuminated with experiences of God that seem familiar. That kind of thing.

For me: Any reflections, decisions, inspirations etc that come from a place of Love. I’ve learnt to recognise that place and so often something will come from there that would not be my normal reaction in the past. Again, this is very individual as only I know how I would have reacted before so I can’t prove it.

If God exists, he would know what would convince me of his existence (remember he is all knowing and he created me).
What’s with the games. 
I do the right thing because its the right thing to do, and not to seek favor with God. (i.e. I don’t need the existence of said being to demonstrate ethical behavior)
If it matters whether I believe in him or not, just let him show me he exists. 
There is no reason to make it a game of bluff.

So as an experiment.

Right now.


GOD,
I’m here.
If you’re there just do something.

minutes pass.


No answer.


Why?


He/she/it doesn’t care?
I’m not worthy?
He/she/it is busy?
or there is no God.

 

oh, and by the way, its Magenta.

 

 

 
jdrnd
 
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jdrnd
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26 March 2017 10:14
 
jdrnd - 26 March 2017 10:09 AM

No answer.


Why?


He/she/it doesn’t care?
I’m not worthy?
He/she/it is busy?
or there is no God.

 

 

 

or as En and Mario would counter,

He did prove his existence (sent me a sign) but I didn’t realize, see, or understand, what he did to prove him/her/itself.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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26 March 2017 10:37
 

Why do you see so much evidence of God in this beautiful and imperfect world, particularly in the imperfect.

The answer is because you have to. The imperfect is in your face and your magic can’t deny it so you say that’s the way it is suppose to be i.e. delusion and denial.

 
 
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