Learning the truth about God

kaizasosei

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There's a reason people call them belief systems....different world views can be shocking and even threatening to some, sortof like a system crash.

But just because i wish it so, doesn't mean that it's right.

Religion and sprituality is a powerful thing. For good as well as for evil. Without the basic understanding of brotherhood or fairness, religion and sprirituality is nothing more than a form of tyranny. So it is understandable that people will build up different kind of defenses against religious or magical thinking. Nowadays magical thinking is rather limited mostly to simple superstition.

However, actually, the real world simple, complicated and devious as it is, seems more magical to me than even fantasy does. Noone gets lost in fantasies because fantasies are harmless, they get lost in the real world.
Like in swordmanship, the shinkengata or live blade practice is the most dangerous.




j
 
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Ninjamom

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If it won't make you too uncomfortable, would you mind sharing your initial assumptions
What if an all-powerful Creator-God exists. What then?


Other (much more specific) parts of the journey have proceeded along similar lines: for instance, I looked at different views of eschatology (the study of 'last things') and tried to evaluate the logical consequences of each system of belief. Likewise for views of free will, divine sovereignty, and a few others.


If this is the case, shouldn't everyone who is searching for the truth about God come to the same conclusions?
Coming to the 'right' conclusions, even given the exact same data set, requires the willingness to say two things: 1). I don't know, and 2). I was wrong. I find these two admissions often trip many a person (and I'll include myself in that number, with many of the things 'I believe' firmly rooted in nothing more than holding on to something 'traditional'). I do know that, in my own personal journey, paradoxically I seem to gain more ground the more willing I am to admit those two things.


If God wants to be known, wouldn't he get the same message across to everyone who searches? Wouldn't he assure that everyone got the 'right' message? If that were the case it would seem to me that there would only be one religion, and we would all follow it because God would ensure that we all knew the same truth?
If an all-powerful Creator-God exists, then He must be external to what He created (greater than the sum total of all the matter/energy/time that He created). Therefore He is not bounded by the space/time that He created. Therefore He is infinite. It is the nature of being infinite that we can spend a lifetime learning about this Infinite One, all learn different aspects of what is true, and never run out of new things to learn.


Yes, it implies that He would assure everyone who searched got the 'right' message. This to me seems in keeping with Jesuss words that everyone who seeks will find, everyone who asks will receive, and to everyone who knocks, it shall be opened. It also seems in keeping with a passage from the Biblical Old Testament prophets who quote God as saying, For I will be found by you when you search for Me with all your heart. This implies, if an all-powerful Creator-God who desires to be known has assured that we have access to the right message, that we as individuals are responsible for how we respond to the message we have been given. It also implies that He would make available sufficient information about Himself (for whatever purpose or desire he has); it does not imply that He would make available exhaustive or complete knowledge about Himself (although it doesn't rule that out, either ;) ).

Now, comparing our logic train with those two Scripture passages that seem in keeping with it, suppose God made the 'right' message available to everyone in steps, and progressing to the next step of knowledge required some response, attitude, or action on our part. If such a case were true, you would expect to see some basic knowledge about this all-powerful Creator-God consistently repeated throughout all cultures, locations, and times, with more specific knowledge and emphasis varying among cultures, locations, times, and individuals. Such a case is consistent with the observations already made on this thread about the near-universal belief that God is best served by serving others, as well as variations on the golden rule, and the belief in God as an all-powerful creative Being.

For me, the more I learn, the more questions I have.
Here we are in total agreement, and this fills me with a sense of awe and wonder.



(Guys, please don't throw rocks too hard - feel free to disagree with my conclusions and ideas, but I am trying my best to be transparent here about some very personal thoughts and ideas.)
 
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morph4me

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What if an all-powerful Creator-God exists. What then?

Other (much more specific) parts of the journey have proceeded along similar lines: for instance, I looked at different views of eschatology (the study of 'last things') and tried to evaluate the logical consequences of each system of belief. Likewise for views of free will, divine sovereignty, and a few others.


Coming to the 'right' conclusions, even given the exact same data set, requires the willingness to say two things: 1). I don't know, and 2). I was wrong. I find these two admissions often trip many a person (and I'll include myself in that number, with many of the things 'I believe' firmly rooted in nothing more than holding on to something 'traditional'). I do know that, in my own personal journey, paradoxically I seem to gain more ground the more willing I am to admit those two things.

If an all-powerful Creator-God exists, then He must be external to what He created (greater than the sum total of all the matter/energy/time that He created). Therefore He is not bounded by the space/time that He created. Therefore He is infinite. It is the nature of being infinite that we can spend a lifetime learning about this Infinite One, all learn different aspects of what is true, and never run out of new things to learn.

Yes, it implies that He would assure everyone who searched got the 'right' message. This to me seems in keeping with Jesuss words that everyone who seeks will find, everyone who asks will receive, and to everyone who knocks, it shall be opened. It also seems in keeping with a passage from the Biblical Old Testament prophets who quote God as saying, For I will be found by you when you search for Me with all your heart. This implies, if an all-powerful Creator-God who desires to be known has assured that we have access to the right message, that we as individuals are responsible for how we respond to the message we have been given. It also implies that He would make available sufficient information about Himself (for whatever purpose or desire he has); it does not imply that He would make available exhaustive or complete knowledge about Himself (although it doesn't rule that out, either ;) ).

Now, comparing our logic train with those two Scripture passages that seem in keeping with it, suppose God made the 'right' message available to everyone in steps, and progressing to the next step of knowledge required some response, attitude, or action on our part. If such a case were true, you would expect to see some basic knowledge about this all-powerful Creator-God consistently repeated throughout all cultures, locations, and times, with more specific knowledge and emphasis varying among cultures, locations, times, and individuals. Such a case is consistent with the observations already made on this thread about the near-universal belief that God is best served by serving others, as well as variations on the golden rule, and the belief in God as an all-powerful creative Being.

Here we are in total agreement, and this fills me with a sense of awe and wonder.


(Guys, please don't throw rocks too hard - feel free to disagree with my conclusions and ideas, but I am trying my best to be transparent here about some very personal thoughts and ideas.)


Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that you're saying that God is giving all of us the correct information and our interpretation of that information determines our response and if we are actually getting the right message. That seems to be in line with what I said about God being whatever we need whenever we need it.
 

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I don't think you can know the truth about God.

Because truth in my opinion is "alive" and every second that slips away into another second truth of the past is no longer truth of the future. Meaning it is not in a fixed state nor can be firmly grasped.

Example: An uneducated child may think that Santa Claus exist and believes this to be true. As the child ages the truth changes into another truth which is conditioned by the capacity of experience,rationality,etc.
Every truth an opinion because truth can not be firmly grasp it is alway moving and every person can not agree on a single truth because of capacity,rationality and so on.
Because Truth and False are duality counter opposites they cancel each other out resulting in varities of opinion which we base on our experience,capacity,rationality,etc.
This is my opinion at this time.
 

thardey

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If this is the case, shouldn't everyone who is searching for the truth about God come to the same conclusions? If God wants to be known, wouldn't he get the same message across to everyone who searches? Wouldn't he assure that everyone got the 'right' message? If that were the case it would seem to me that there would only be one religion, and we would all follow it because God would ensure that we all knew the same truth? For me, the more I learn, the more questions I have.

I think Ninjamon and I follow a similar process about this stuff, thanks for putting it so clearly!

As for Morph's response -- I think it depends on what we're looking for. If we're talking about an infinite God, then there are a lot of different parts of God to focus on. We would indeed all come to the same conclusions, if we were all interested in the same narrow aspect of God.

I actually do believe that my post at the top of the page is generally true. Most people don't want to know God, they want to know how to manipulate God.

I know people who "study" God, to be able to define "it"-- to determine it's boundaries, abilities, likes, dislikes, and the rules of engagement. Ultimately, they're trying to figure out how get what they want out of God. They study "it" like one would study the process of law, or a chess opponent.

Those people will have a totally different view of God than those who want to know God as a personal being. I don't believe that God really wants us to focus on the "omnipotent, omnipresent, foreknowing, omniscient" part, but to focus on the personal character of who he is.

Even within that, there are different sides to knowing that, depending on where you are coming from. My wife knows my character in a different way than my parents, even though both know me very well. My sister knows me differently yet, as well as my friends. They have each been through different experiences with me, and know me through that, but each one still only knows me from a single perspective. I believe the same about God.

Within that, thouh, I have seen a remarkable similarity in how people of different cultures and religion view the "personality" of God. While the "rules of engagement" are radically different, as far as which buildings God visits on which days, and what he does while visiting those buildings, or cities, or whatever holy sites. The idea of who God is, includes love, justice, relationship, and an element that will never be understood.

1st John 4:8 says: "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

We all have a general idea of what "Love" is, for some it is earned, for some it is unconditional. For some it is a social framework of ethics, for some it is purely emotion. Some are willing to cause violence to protect those they love, some insist that violence itself in unloving.

"Love" is a huge concept -- in fact as big as the question of God's character. But because different poeple practice love in different ways does not mean that love doesn't exist, or that we can never know it. We'll just never know it completely.

But throughout the world, the concept of love is similar. We all have an idea of what it is, and everybody in their right mind wants for of it. Nobody wants to live in a world with less love. We just end up arguing over how to do it.

When we understand love, then we'll understand God, because at the root of it, when you strip away all of the power, the "office" of God, and all the things that come with it (that so easily distract us, who are also after power,) all that remains is: God is love.
 

Ninjamom

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Please correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears that you're saying that God is giving all of us the correct information and our interpretation of that information determines our response and if we are actually getting the right message. That seems to be in line with what I said about God being whatever we need whenever we need it.
Yes and No. Yes, I'm saying God is giving us all the correct information. However (and I'm not trying to split airs with what you've said), I personally think more along the lines that our response determines our 'interpretation'. What I mean is that I am very much in agreement with thardey's statement:

...... Most people don't want to know God, they want to know how to manipulate God.
...and I have met many others who want to understand God as an intellectual exercise, but not as a person, and certainly not with any of that uncomfortable business about possible consequences of His existence (like authority, responsibility, and accountability).

So, in my personal experience, I have found people's response to God (whether they have interest in Him, or resent Him, or desire a relationship, or want to ignore/avoid Him) sets the stage for the interpretation of all further data.

......but ultimately I can rest assured that He will make the information and experiences I need available to me, so I can understand to the level of my capacity and His desire.
I am uncomfortable with this. In light of this discussion about God possibly providing knowledge about Himself in steps, I think I could have (should have) said it better. If receiving steps 4, 5, and 6 is dependent on a willing response to steps 1, 2, 3, perhaps it would have been better to say that God will provide the information and experiences I need, so I can understand to the level of my desire. As a believer, it is scarry to think that I might know as much about God as I want, and not a bit more.
 
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morph4me

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:idea:The fog is lifting :). I see now that one of the differences is the way eacu of us understand the essence of God. To my way of thinking, the essence of God, if God exists, is not a person, butthe personification of an idea, like the grim reaper is a personifcation of death. A person has limitations, the idea of God means there are no limitations. A person has expectations, can be disappointed or suprised. God, being omniscient, already knows what's going to happen so would have no expectations, and can't be. I guess my image of God is more of a creative force. Sometimes in order to create something, you have to destroy something else. Creativity requires a balance, so I don't see God and Satan as separate entities, but two sides of a coin. A yin and yang type entitiy. There is no manipulation possible, there is no petition, there is only cause and effect.
 

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Creativity requires a balance, so I don't see God and Satan as separate entities, but two sides of a coin. A yin and yang type entitiy. There is no manipulation possible, there is no petition, there is only cause and effect.

Interesting. As a Christian, I've considered this myself. God is said to be 'all good' and 'all love' and yet, God is said to have create the universe and everything in it. That means all evil was created by God as well. Now, I've had people tell me that no, God did not create evil, evil was chosen by those given Free Will.

But I have two problems with that. The first is that 'choosing evil' is still a card in the deck, if you will, and God designed the deck. So for it to even be a choice, it had to exist as a possibility. The second is that God is supposed to be all-knowing. So He created the creatures that would choose evil, even knowing that they would do so. Sorry, that's a bank shot in pool. I didn't pocket the the 3 ball, but I hit the cue ball which hit the 4 which sank the 3. A difference without a distinction. And third, the angels are supposed to be different from we humans because we possess Free Will and they don't. So how did Satan wage war on God in heaven?

And from a more philosophical viewpoint, if there was no evil, how could we experience good? Good would be a constant, and with nothing to differentiate it, there would be nothing to choose. If good is the only choice, it's not a choice, it's just what is.

So it seems to me you're right. Good requires evil. There must be an adversary, or there can be no struggle. There must be a choice that can be made between good and evil, or there is no way to 'choose' good. God made Satan because He needed him.

I have also pondered from time to time how a perfect being, God, could create imperfect things, we humans. Or why.

It's all very confusing.

Fortunately, I follow the Red Queen's advice. I practice believing impossible things. "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast"
 

bushidomartialarts

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The human brain is composed of billions of neurons, with the combined whole being capable of far more than billions of times what a single neuron can do. I reckon God is the same synergistic effect applied to souls -- the sum that is greater than all of our parts.

Heaven is what happens when we component souls are moving towards the good and beautiful. Hell is what happens when we slide the wrong way.

Just my own thoughts, no more or less accurate than anybody else's.
 

thardey

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:idea:The fog is lifting :). I see now that one of the differences is the way eacu of us understand the essence of God. To my way of thinking, the essence of God, if God exists, is not a person, butthe personification of an idea, like the grim reaper is a personifcation of death. A person has limitations, the idea of God means there are no limitations. A person has expectations, can be disappointed or suprised. God, being omniscient, already knows what's going to happen so would have no expectations, and can't be. I guess my image of God is more of a creative force. Sometimes in order to create something, you have to destroy something else. Creativity requires a balance, so I don't see God and Satan as separate entities, but two sides of a coin. A yin and yang type entitiy. There is no manipulation possible, there is no petition, there is only cause and effect.

Right, where I see a separation between the "Office" of God, and the "Individual" who fills that office. True, in reality they are inseparable, but that is a way to focus on different aspects. Like we have a President, that has certain powers and responsibilities, often ones that conflict, and we have Obama, who is the President.

"God" or "El" or "Allah" or whatever title you use describes (in my interpretation) the office of God -- the ultimate ruler, the "best of the best." Names for God in the Tanach that include the "El" prefix, like "El-Shaddai" (God Almighty), Elam (Everlasting God) and "El-elyon" (Most High God) highlight that part of God.

That office of God is both loving, and just, it is merciful and vengeful, it is the creator and destroyer, it is both male and female, it is both Yin and Yang. There is no need for Satan to counterbalance God -- both Yin and Yang (as I understand it) are present in the idea of God.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isa 45:7, KJV)

The word "Evil" there also meaning "disaster" or "destruction" among other things. (See Hebrew word "ra-ah")

This is the side of God that really can't be proven, defined, or understood. This the part of God that is so beyond us we don't have anything to compare to, or relate to. It's so far on a whole different plane that the only way we can begin to describe it is in terms of what it's not. (It is limit-less, it is time-less, etc.) This is where we have to be agnostic about God. Even if we could know about it, we couldn't do anything about it.

But there is also the Personal name for God, which is YHWH. (Sometimes transliterated "Jehovah" or "Yahweh." Often it is read as "Hashem" which is Hebrew for "The Name"). In most English Bibles it is written as The LORD. Names that are associated with YHWH include YHWH-Jireh, (The LORD provides), YHWH-Rapheh (The LORD heals), YHWH-Ra-ah (The LORD my Shepherd), YHWH-Shalom (The LORD is our peace).

To me, these emphasise the personal nature of God, the part that Jesus represented on earth. The part that we can "fall in love" with. This is the part that we could conceivably have some sort of relationship with, and this is the part that we were created "after the image of." The only way we could know about the "personality" of God, is for 'him' to come and meet me. I could spent pages describing my wife to you, but it wouldn't be the same as meeting her yourself. The most I could do is to introduce you to her.

In fact, when Jesus claimed to be representing "The Father," this is what he was representing. He wasn't showing the glory, or the power, or the knowledge of God, but how this personal God would react to sinners, children, and proud religious leaders. He laid down his life to demonstrate that. In short, he showed us what Love looks like.

This is the part of God that Ninjamom and I are talking about. (If I may speak for her.)
 
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Carol

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To me, these emphasise the personal nature of God, the part that Jesus represented on earth. The part that we can "fall in love" with. This is the part that we could conceivably have some sort of relationship with, and this is the part that we were created "after the image of."

This is what makes Christianity one of the revealed religions, yes? The nature of God has been revealed to the worshipers. :asian:
 

thardey

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Interesting. As a Christian, I've considered this myself. God is said to be 'all good' and 'all love' and yet, God is said to have create the universe and everything in it. That means all evil was created by God as well. Now, I've had people tell me that no, God did not create evil, evil was chosen by those given Free Will.

But I have two problems with that. The first is that 'choosing evil' is still a card in the deck, if you will, and God designed the deck. So for it to even be a choice, it had to exist as a possibility. The second is that God is supposed to be all-knowing. So He created the creatures that would choose evil, even knowing that they would do so. Sorry, that's a bank shot in pool. I didn't pocket the the 3 ball, but I hit the cue ball which hit the 4 which sank the 3. A difference without a distinction. And third, the angels are supposed to be different from we humans because we possess Free Will and they don't. So how did Satan wage war on God in heaven?

Exactly, but as I quoted above, God does take responsibility for evil. It's just not widely taught. Because

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
Psalms 5:4

That is God does not take pleasure in evil. But sometimes God does things he "hates" in order accomplish what he wants. Like sacrificing his son.

(Now keep in mind that the Hebrew word for "evil" isn't limited to the idea of "ethical" evil, but generally included "destructive" actions.)

I see it like violence. I hate violence. I hate it so much that I will violently oppose it. Some people think I love violence because I practice it. (Martial arts, fencing, guns.) But in reality, I don't want to have to do violent things to people, unless they are trying to do violent things to people I love. Then, my love for my family will overide my hate for violence, and I will do violent things in the name of love.

I don't think that Satan is the "Dark" to God's "Light" simply because I believe God is both Yin and Yang, and is self-contained. Also, Satan's "dark" is not enough to offset God's "Light" so we would still have an imbalance. (Case in point -- Satan lost. If they were equal, they would still be fighting.)

I believe that angels are given a choice, but they simply see a different side of God than we do. We can see the personal side of God, from the perspective of being made in his image, and also from having been offered forgiveness. But we can't understand the glory, power, etc. (See the "Office" of God above.) Angels can see the Office of God, but can't understand the personal side, since they weren't made in his image.

I believe that Satan didn't trust the "personal" side of God to use the power in the best way, and that Satan thought he could stage a coup and take that power for himself. That he would be better qualified to be God. I think he still believes that, to a point. Having not been made in the image of God, he doesn't understand the idea of things like forgiveness, mercy, and love. He simply understands power, and the use of it.

So I do think that Satan serves as a foil to Jesus, with Satan's emphasis on doing, and power, and Jesus' emphasis on Love and relationship. I think you said it well:


And from a more philosophical viewpoint, if there was no evil, how could we experience good? Good would be a constant, and with nothing to differentiate it, there would be nothing to choose. If good is the only choice, it's not a choice, it's just what is.

So it seems to me you're right. Good requires evil. There must be an adversary, or there can be no struggle. There must be a choice that can be made between good and evil, or there is no way to 'choose' good. God made Satan because He needed him.

I have also pondered from time to time how a perfect being, God, could create imperfect things, we humans. Or why.

It's all very confusing.

Fortunately, I follow the Red Queen's advice. I practice believing impossible things. "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast"
 

thardey

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This is what makes Christianity one of the revealed religions, yes? The nature of God has been revealed to the worshipers. :asian:

Yup, but then we get the whole "chicken and egg" argument. Does God reveal himself to those who worship him, or do we worship him because he has revealed himself?

But that's probably a better question for another thread. (I sense a rabbit trail here.)
 

JBrainard

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How do you know you're learning the truth about God now? How do you know it's the truth and how are you going about it?

You don't know. That's why it's called faith. One thing that bothers me is that many feel that they understand the will of God... Being that "God" is omnisceint and omnipotent, how is it that we lesser beings can understand the nature of God, including his intent? And please don't tell me that you understand God because of what is written in the Bible. That text has been translated, retranslated, and changed to fit political agendas that at this point it has very little to no validity as "proof." Thinking that what you believe is any more than faith (rather than truth) just doesn't make any sense to me.
But hey, that's just me.
 

Ninjamom

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1st John 4:8 says: "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."

When we understand love, then we'll understand God, because at the root of it, when you strip away all of the power, the "office" of God, and all the things that come with it (that so easily distract us, who are also after power,) all that remains is: God is love.

Re-reading this thread brought to mind one of my favorite poets. John Greenleaf Whittier was a well-educated, well-spoken man who lived in a time of massive theological debates, yet chose to practice what I would call "a religion of deliberate simplicity".

His words:

Requirement (by J. G. Whittier)

We live by Faith; but Faith is not the slave
Of text and legend. Reason's voice and God's,
Nature's and Duty's, never are at odds.
What asks our Father of his children, save

Justice and mercy and humility,
A reasonable service of good deeds,
Pure living, tenderness to human needs,
Reverence and trust, and prayer for light to see

The Master's footprints in our daily ways?
No knotted scourge nor sacrificial knife,
But the calm beauty of an ordered life
Whose very breathing is unworded praise!--

A life that stands as all true lives have stood,
Firm-rooted in the faith that God is Good.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Requirement"




... And from the Prophet Micah:


With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.


(Micah 7:5-7, New International Version)
 

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