Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Loving God?

Gagdad Bob quotes and agrees with someone named Spengler who writes:
"The empty and arbitrary world of atheism is far closer to the Muslim universe than the Biblical world, in which God orders the world out of love for humankind, so that we may in freedom return the love that our creator bears for us. Atheism is an alternative to Islam closer to Muslim habits of mind than the love-centered world of Judaism and Christianity."

Yet, I seriously wonder how any thoughtful person can see the Christian God as loving or the Christian world as "love-centered." For why would a perfect God create anything at all, since his perfection would have him needing nothing in order to be perfectly fulfilled? And why would a loving God create a universe or, at least, a world filled with so much inescapable human and animal suffering? What's more, if human souls are immortal and capable of suffering everlasting torment in hell, how could one even begin to believe that a God who designed the universe with this possibility could in any way be considered anything other than monstrously cruel and hateful?

The Spengler quote, like conventional Christianity itself, paints God as the supreme and supremely sadistic egotist: "I give you life so that you may love me, even though I don't even deign to prove to you that I exist, but if you don't love me, I let you be tortured for eternity in a dungeon set aside just for the likes of you, and I let you and countless other people and creatures suffer unspeakable injustice in this life as well."

What kind of "loving" God is that? About as "loving" as the Reverend Fred Phelps.

As for God giving us the "freedom" to "return the love that our creator bears for us," this would be laughable if not so pathetic! How are we "free" to love a God that most of us don't even know exists and have outstanding reason to believe doesn't exist? And of those who believe that God does exist and that they will go to heaven for embracing him and to hell for rejecting him, do they have even as much "freedom" to reject him as does someone confronted by an armed robber who says, "Give me all your money or I'll blow your brains out"?

Finally, when one looks at the vast majority of self-professed Christians, does one see them as "love-centered"? Even if they don't spew the twisted hatred of Fred Phelps, they seem no more loving than most other people of other religions or no religion.

It continues to amaze me how human beings can use their intelligence to rationalize belief in a "loving God" that is neither loving nor the least bit plausible.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with Nagarjuna. There is a lot of hulballoo about a study published in the UK that religious believers belong predominantly to the group of lower intelligence. It confirms my personal experience, and personally I find the idea of a god that sends its son to be tortured to death not only absurd but sick. Speaking of a "loving god."

shirley said...

Finally, when one looks at the vast majority of self-professed Christians, does one see them as "love-centered"?

Are you including Reverand Wright in this group? Do you see him as love centered?

shirley said...

Does it give you some sort of comfort to believe that you have no control over the decisions you make in your life? That you can do things and take no personal responsibility for them because you couldn't help yourself? And does it concern you that that you preclude the only power in the universe capable of changing you into the person who resides in the deep recesses of your possibility.
You've obviously never experienced the life saving results of grace and with the attitude contained in your post, possibly never will, unless you are reduced through circumstance in your life to absolutely nothing and have only One choice to make. You will at that point, as always, have the free will to choose wrongly.

shirley said...

No naked reflections on any of the questions I posted?

Nagarjuna said...

I don't claim to have "no control" over the decisions I make. I make decisions all the time, and some of them are even good ones. I have simply questioned the ultimate cause of those decisions and have tentatively concluded that this cause is something far greater than my conventional self. And, yes, I suppose I DO take some comfort in believing after I've made a bad decision that I couldn't have done otherwise at the time. But that doesn't mean that I don't still want to make a better decision the next time around and that I don't endeavor to do so.

As for allowing myself to be changed by "the only power in the universe" capable of changing me into the best person I can be, I don't believe that my "attitude" toward the Christian idea of God precludes my openness to a more plausible idea and experience of God that is potentially transformative.

shirley said...

Perhaps your idea of a Christian idea of God is wrong?
Perhaps the only conception you have is the one you've constructed in your head?
Perhaps if you had experienced the saving nature of Grace you would understand what others speak of?
Your conception would then be real rather than an intellectual construct brought about by your judgement of bad experiences or "bad others" which constantly seeks information to reinforce itself.
Perhaps then you would experience the real Christ?

Perhaps not.

You said;

"I don't believe that my "attitude" toward the Christian idea of God precludes my openness to a more plausible idea and experience of God that is potentially transformative."

But what if it is?

shirley said...

And you never answered my question about whether you see Reverend Wright as love centered. You do know that Obama had his formative instruction on Christianity in the church of that man. Is he one of the haters also? Or is he just confused and acting out prior programming?

Nagarjuna said...

If my idea of the Christian idea of God is wrong, could you explain how it's wrong?

If I had experienced "the saving nature of Grace," how would I know that it comes from the Christian God and not from something else?

What is the "real Christ"? One allegedly very special person who lived two thousand years ago, or something else?

Yes, my understanding of Christianity and my attitude toward that understanding MAY prejudice me against seeing Christianity's potential truth, just as a Christian's understanding of Christianity and her attitude toward THAT understanding may prejudice her against seeing Christianty's possible falsehoods.

Do I see Rev. Wright as love-centered? No more or less than I see most Christian ministers or priests or Christians in general as being.

I don't see Wright or Obama as "hate-centered." Do you? If so, why?

shirley said...

Did bob call you an idiot blogger today?

shirley said...

I don't see Wright or Obama as "hate-centered." Do you? If so, why?

Yes. Why? It's self evident.
Watch the videos the Trinity United was hawking of Wright and know that Obama sat there and listened to it for 20 years and didn;t get up and leave.
But I'm sure you seen nothing wrong as reality again stares you squarely in the face but doesn't conform to what you think it should be.

shirley said...

And you'd better be nice to me as I seem to be the only one left here. ;*)

Nagarjuna said...

ํำYes, it would seem that Bob DID call me that. Spoken like a "man of God," wouldn't you say? :-)

As for Reverend Wright, I have seen some of his videos. I also saw his interview with Bill Moyers, and I saw him give a speech a while back. Again, I don't consider him to be particularly "hate-centered." Ethnocentric? Yes. Angry at times toward what he perceives as injustice? Yes? But "hate-centered"? No. If you want to see someone who's hate-centered, check out Fred Phelps. Even Gagdad seems to have more hate in him than Rev. Wright. If you disagree, could you tell me what Wright has said that you find "hateful"? As for Obama, I don't see him as being "hate-centered" either. Do you?

shirley said...

Why does a "man of God" in your estimation have to go around being a P.C. wimp? Bob has given you more spiritual help and advice than was ever warranted. If you are ever able to move beyond your current understanding of truth, you may be able to see that it's indeed true.

And I already answered your question about Obama and Wright. It is self evident to an objective observer who has no fantasy hopes and sees the world for what it is.

shirley said...

Why don't you have the balls to uncloak when you comment over at Bob's site and have the courage to defend your position instead of using the anonymous option? You'd be amazed at what it will do to your spiritual life when you are held accountable for what you say. Your posts such as the one today are as transparent as a crystal blue sky.
You could at least put your old B.S. namaste closure at the end.

Nagarjuna said...

What's true? That the only options for someone who aspires to holiness are "politically correct" wimpiness and insulting derisiveness toward those with whom he disagrees? That I'm an "idiot"? That the Christian God is loving or that Christians are "love-centered"?

With all due respect, saying you answered my question about Rev. Wright doesn't make it so. I asked what Wright said in those videos that establishes that he's any more "hate-centered" than, say, Gagdad Bob. Replying that it's "self-evident" isn't a substantive answer. It's an evasion. What has Wright said or done that demonstrates that he is more about hate than he is about love?

Nagarjuna said...

I haven't posted any comments on Bob's site for a long time.

shirley said...

What do you think of Jesse Jackson's comments?
Do you think it was a set up by Fox or do you think maybe Obama put him up to it to garner support from those opposed to Jackson.
His career is basically over so a little green from Obama might be just what he needs.

Nagarjuna said...

I don't care about Jesse Jackson's comment. Do you? If so, why? If not, why do you ask what I think about it?

Returning to an earlier line of discussion, what SOUND "spiritual help and advice" do you think Gagdad has given me, and why do you think he's justified, as one who aspires to holiness, to refer to me as an "idiot blogger"?

shirley said...

Does it bother you that he calls you that? I don't think he used the term as an off the cuff comment without actually meaning it. I don't recall saying I considered it justified or that he ever said that he aspires to holiness. I believe that he is content to follow truth wherever it leads.
Perhaps you could ask him directly why he referenced you in that way.
I do believe that through the years he has given you some sound spiritual advise and if you were honest with yourself, I think you would have to agree.
You were quite taken with him in the beginning.

shirley said...

And BTW, I'm not a Christian woman as you alluded to earlier, I'm a Wiccan who "gets" and actually digs Jesus.

Nagarjuna said...

Does it bother me that Gagdad calls me an "idiot blogger"? No. But the issue here is not how I feel about it emotionally, but whether you believe that in calling me this, he's following "the truth wherever it leads" and that this is invariably a good thing. In other words, do you agree with him that I'm an "idiot"? Second, do you believe that a clinical psychologist who aspires to holiness, as Gagdad has often stated in various ways that he does, should make comments of that kind, even if they were true or even if, true or not, he believed them, or is basic human decency, not to mention the committed pursuit of a spiritual path, incompatible with this sort of thing?

You say you believe that Gagdad has given me some "sound spiritual advice." Could you cite any examples, particularly of any such advice that I've belittled or rejected?

Finally, as a "Wiccan who 'gets' and actually digs Jesus," would you care to share with me what you 'get' and 'dig' about him? In other words, do you believe that Jesus was and is who and what Christians believe he was and is? If so, why aren't you Christian rather than Wiccan? And if not, WHAT do you "get" and "dig" about Jesus? And to return to the gist of my original post, how is the Christian God, of which Jesus was and is an alleged manifestation, a "God of love"? I don't see it, and I was hoping that someone could it explain it to me. Can YOU?

shirley said...

In other words, do you agree with him that I'm an "idiot"?

At times, yes.

shirley said...

Second, do you believe that a clinical psychologist who aspires to holiness, as Gagdad has often stated in various ways....

I believe that you are assigning your own aspirations to Bob.

shirley said...

....should make comments of that kind, even if they were true or even if, true or not, he believed them, or is basic human decency, not to mention the committed pursuit of a spiritual path, incompatible with this sort of thing?

If he honestly believes them to be true and has no malice in expressing them then have at it. As they say, the truth hurts. He works from a more logical non-emotional principle than you and is therefore able to cleave the illusion and get to the seed of truth.
Your emotions rule your life and you are a slave to them in trying to keep up appearances that you are a good person. Same thing with fairhope.
And I'm not buying the notion that it doesn't just bother the hell out of you that he said that.

shirley said...

"...would you care to share with me what you 'get' and 'dig' about him?"

Jesus is just all right with me.
Now, pass me that Doobie. :*)

shirley said...

"You say you believe that Gagdad has given me some "sound spiritual advice." Could you cite any examples, particularly of any such advice that I've belittled or rejected?"

You're going to tell me that you've taken nothing from what Bob has offered? Do you own soul searching spiritual homework, get over your stubbornness and tell ME what he has given you.

Nagarjuna said...

Are you saying that Gagdad does NOT aspire to holiness--i.e., harmonization of one's life and being with God? And whether you do or not, do you believe that Bob's disparaging comments are compatible with holiness?

"The truth hurts"? What "truth" is that?

Do you think I'm trying merely to "keep up appearances" that I'm a good person, or that I'm actually trying to be one? And if you think I'm doing something wrong, what do you think I should be doing instead?

How do my emotions rule my life?

You are the one who said he's given me "sound spiritual advice." Again, can you cite any examples?

Finally, can you tell me what you "get" and "dig" about Jesus?

shirley said...

Every question you pose has been answered by someone visiting your blog at one time or another but you refuse to listen. The bullets of truth continue to ricochet off your head because you wish to conform reality to what you believe it to be rather than conforming yourself to it.
You will have to find a way to open yourself to ideas that, at this point, you are completely opposed to and see where they lead if you wish to have any growth beyond where you are now. What you have been doing obviously hasn't been working.
This is the reason why I believe Bob has called you an idiot blogger. You continually criticize him for his lack of compassion, etc. but he is probably one of the most compassionate people you have ever encountered. Particularly in regards to you.
I'm afraid that you are one of the lost who will never find the way because of your fantastically huge ego which you feel doesn't exist. The only entity which can show it to you and save you from it is the Christian God which will intervene in your affairs if you only earnestly ask. You, by your ignorance and misunderstanding, have effectively precluded yourself from that option.
There is really nothing any mortal person can say in this instance. People can talk until they are blue in the face to you and all you do is focus a penlight on the issue that you yourself don't like.
You are not at this time willing to be completely transformed into the person that you highlighted today from Bob's blog.
You're are unwilling to give up the small man that your ego defends with everything in its power, to gain the larger person that you and everyone else is capable of being. Your image of who you need to be won't let that happen.
And now, I'll take my leave, but before I do, here is one last hint, WATCH your negative reaction to what I just said. Sit with it and WATCH it. That, will be a start.

Nagarjuna said...

I don't know that anyone HAS answered the questions I posed. For instance, WHERE is the answer to my question of how anyone can reasonably say that the God of the Christian Bible is loving? Yet, you suggest that I can and should somehow simply abandon these unanswered questions and embrace faith in the Christian God even though you yourself, as a self-professed Wiccan, apparently have not.

You may be inclined to see this as a "negative reaction" to your comment." But what do you mean by a "negative reaction"? One which disagrees with what you say or simply questions it?

I appreciate the time you've spent here and the effort you've made to communicate with me. I think part of your motivation has been to help me grow in wisdom and happiness. But perhaps you need to grow more in your own wisdom and happiness and spend more time observing your own reactions and getting out of your own egoic way before you can be very helpful to me or anyone else.

ned said...

Hi Nagarjuna,

You might want to check out Sri Aurobindo's solution to the problem of evil. Anti-Matters, a journal run by Ulrich Mohrhoff from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, published a series of articles on this:

(Look for the articles starting from "Is God good?")

Jacob Boehme, a Christian mystic, also has similar ideas, and so does the Sufi mystic Ibn al-Arabi.

And what a foolish interpretation of Islam Gagdad has. I grew up in a Muslim country as a Muslim, even though I now follow Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I have had my issues with Islam, but certainly every single organized religion, including Judaism and Christianity, has its fair share of foolishness and has committed atrocities in the past. Islam is a younger religion and just happens to be at the forefront right now (and the timing is really bad, because now we have the Internet and mass media, so every fool gets to weigh in with their prejudices and paranoia). Again: I don't like exoteric Islam, but I don't like any exoteric religion, for that matter.

Please don't let a pretentious intellectual like Gagdad Bob (and Co.) turn you off legitimate theistic philosophies. They are worth looking into even if you prefer a non-theistic path.

ned said...

Also, let me just drop a few links to Christian friends who I think are swell folks and would be really happy to dialogue with you:

The Search for Integrity

Anamchara: The Website of Unknowing

Blog of the Grateful Bear

Nagarjuna said...

Thank you for the comments, the links, and the encouragement. I'm very interested in reading more about monotheistic, pantheistic, and panentheistic efforts to address "the problem of evil." I've always found it enormously difficult to reconcile the notion of any kind of divine goodness with the ubiquitous presence of evil and suffering.

ned said...

Hi again,

If you'd like, we can totally talk about this via e-mail. :-)

I actually had a spiritual awakening while dealing with sexual abuse, so I've grappled with the question of good vs. evil a lot. But I'm speaking from an Aurobindoan perspective which I hope won't be too esoteric for you (well my gf is an atheist, so I assume if she can tolerate my metaphysics, you should be able to manage too ;-) ).

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Like Dr. Carl Sagan I am both a scientist and an agnostic. There is no proof either way to support the existence or non-existence of a God. I am allways amazed at the vitriol that is expended by atheists at those of faith. Why bother? It will not effect a true believer and when taken to the extreme I am reminded of the religious fanatics we all despise.
It has absolutely no effect other than to entrench the fanatics on both sides which invariably leads to violence. This is utter stupidity.
Why are atheists so frightened or disgusted by those who choose to follow a religion? The vast majority are productive members of society who cause no harm to others(my wife is Wiccan hence the use of the term) and carry on with their lives. Many of them perform charitable (in other words they donate their own money...not relying on the taxpayers to do it for them... or their time) deeds on a weekly basis(something the atheist community does not I might add) and the rest at least on a yearly basis. Why in the world would any group choose to vent their spleen on someone like that? Go after the murderers, or the animal abusers, or the child abusers, or anyone who is doing harm.....but no they instead choose to waste their time and many tax dollars in court going after someone who chooses to believe in a God. What the heck for?

As an aside I allways like comparing the currently held scientific theory(or belief if you prefer) on the creation of the universe by the leading cosmologist in the world.

Briefly cosmologists theorise that the universe started from a singularity about the size of a Neutron(one half of the size of a Hydrogen Atom nucleus) and in a massive explosion between 12 an 20 billion years ago all the matter in the universe expanded from that singularity and spread out in a flat universe billions of light years across. The Christian theory(or belief if you prefer) starts...

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
One version is that which I am most familiar with, the other was written thousands of years ago by a primitive non-scientific people and yet...they sound pretty similar to my ear.


Anonymous said...

Atheists don't have any problem with people practicing their religion so long as it does not infringe on their own rights.

Look at the Christian Conservatives. They want to return prayer to schools and they get mad that non-Christians don't want to say "under God" in the Pledge. Most people don't even understand what the Pledge is. Why should I pledge allegiance to a god I don't believe in? Doesn't that completely go against the purpose of pledging? That is like a Muslim swearing on a Bible in court.

People that want religion in government miss the "good old days". Thats back when blacks got lynched and women were only good at ironing and pumping out babies.

Shirley (and I'm guessing her husband), this is why we don't like religion. Well its not really even that we don't like it, we just don't want it forced upon us. This country was NOT "founded on christianity" as so many people like to say. Most of the founding fathers were deists, not devout Christians. Perhaps if a group were to force all Christians to follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster they would understand how atheists feel. I know that religion makes more sense than most.

Thanks, Nagarjuna, for your comments on gagbad, that guy is an incoherent lunatic that inspires his cult following by stringing together lots of big words into vague messages.