God is a What?! Part Two

Stephen Marsh Mormon 63 Comments

When you think of God, do you envision?

  • a proper English gentleman
  • a modernized Biblical patriarch
  • an erudite English professor at a Ivy league university
  • a tame Lion (returning to the C. S. Lewis reference)?

Do you recreate God in your own idealized image?

There is a constant assumption in much of what I read that God shares the sensibilities, values and perspectives of the person writing.  That to the extent that God does not, then God is wrong or those who see God that way are wrong.

Now duality teaches us that it may well be that God is both the way we see him and the way that others see him — not that there is a superior view of God, but that God is possibly many different things at once.

But at some times, as Jacob 2:8-9 reflects, God is things or messages or approaches that do not necessarily fit what we want and think we need right now.

Comments

comments

Comments 63

  1. In my Sun School class yesterday, someone brought up how the “God of the OT” is so different from the Jesus we see in the NT.

    I mentioned something similiar to what you’re saying in this post — that the “God” you see in the writings of someone else will often reflect the person more so than our Father.

    My point in Sun School was that what we read as the “God of the OT” is more about the Israelites at that time than it is about Jesus or Father. The fact that the OT and NT God seems to different is a function of who was writing the books, not a God that took anger management courses.

  2. When I was young, I imagined a gentle, fatherly figure with white hair in white robes.

    I now have no clue. I have no idea what immortal bodies are really like. It all seems too abstract to imagine. Instead, the closest thing I have to picturing God is seeing attributes of God and God-potential in the people around me. I see God in the mountains and the sky and the birds that come by each morning to eat.

    I suppose someday I’ll know what God is like, but for now it’s all really just conjecture.

  3. I’m pretty sure His face will be an unexpectedly pleasing combination of Jerry Garcia and Colonel Sanders, with a body similar to that of Jason Varitek.

  4. God is an ageless, humble astronomy professor at a not-especially-prestigious school, with a joy of life and a fine (if slightly pun-infected) sense of humor.

  5. Mike S., We actually have some pretty good reports of what Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and various resurrected beings look like. The description of Moroni in JS-H 1:31-32 comes to my mind immediately. I can’t say that I entirely understand Him, but I do know that He loves us both collectively and individually. He is a person and He is real. I humbly hope to enter back into His presence someday and gain eternal life.

    I love Dan’s quotation from Isaiah 53 that describes the Savior during mortality.

  6. “a proper gentlemen”
    Partial description.

    “a modernized Biblical patriarch”
    In his infancy perhaps.

    “an erudite English professor at a Ivy league university”
    A stuffy, elitist pushing secularism rather that faith; sounds more like
    Lucifer than God.

    “a tame Lion (returning to the C. S. Lewis reference)?”
    No

  7. #7 TomD

    I know we have those references, and that is what my image of God was like at one point. But, they are all representations of a white, Western looking man with a beard – likely because all of the paintings we generally use in the Church are by white, Western artists. And JS was a Westerner.

    What about blacks and Asians and other races? Do they all look like Caucasians in the next life? Other cultures represent deity very differently. Why don’t we have any images of resurrected women? Why are beards forbidden at BYU if all the images of God and Christ we have include one? Do we just wear a robe as the description of Moroni you mention seems that there are no garments or anything else on? Do we eat? Do we sleep? I don’t know that any of these questions have any true answers, but to be honest, I don’t know that any of these questions are important to me in mortality. I have therefore cared less and less about them and figure I’ll find out the answer soon enough.

    For me, having a vague image of someone in heaven that I can’t see doesn’t help me as much as what I stated before: seeing the image of God in everyone on earth, realizing our vast interconnectedness, and realizing that every action I do has a very real effect on literally everyone else (some more than others, but everyone to an extent – much like a wave equation). This outlook has lead me to have even more charity to my fellowman than worrying about doing something because I may someday be judged in a process involving justice and mercy that I don’t really understand.

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    Brethren, it does not yet appear what we shall become — 1 John 2:28-3:3

    http://net.bible.org/bible.php?book=1Jo&chapter=3 and other translations are kind of useful in that:

    NET ©

    Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be 1 has not yet been revealed. We 2 know that 3 whenever 4 it 5 is revealed 6 we will be like him, because 7 we will see him just as he is. 8
    NIV ©

    biblegateway 1Jo 3:2

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
    NASB ©

    biblegateway 1Jo 3:2

    Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
    NLT ©

    biblegateway 1Jo 3:2

    Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.
    MSG ©

    biblegateway 1Jo 3:2

    But friends, that’s exactly who we are: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we’ll end up! What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him–and in seeing him, become like him.
    BBE ©

    SABDAweb 1Jo 3:2

    My loved ones, now we are children of God, and at present it is not clear what we are to be. We are certain that at his revelation we will be like him; for we will see him as he is.
    NRSV ©

    bibleoremus1Jo 3:2

    Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
    NKJV ©

    biblegateway 1Jo 3:2

    Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

    I think that is really what we have.

  9. In the way of character, I very much like the portrail made by Morgan Freeman in Bruce and Evan Almighty. Soft spoken, humourous, wise, but stands up to anything and anyone.

    As far as ‘looks’, I saw something I thought very interesting a while ago in the Sydney Morning Herald. Some group took photos of 160,000 people and composited them to create the ‘face of Sydney’. This took in caucasians, asians, aboriginals, etc. Since we are all a part of Heavenly Father (ie like we are a part of our parents, grandparents, etc) I rather much think that doing something like this as a representative of the world would come close. If you have a closer look, the pictures from around different areas of Sydney which have a predominance for a certain race, the pictures are still comparable. The site is here http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/development/localactionplans/faceofsydney.asp

  10. Sorry, the 160,000 people are the ones who live in the inner suburbs of Sydney. It does not give the number of people that participated in the actual conglomerate picture.

  11. There is the idea of an “average face” — it was originally used to try to predict the “look” of a criminal. The researches found that “average” faces got more and more attractive.

    Here is a site that lets you make your own — http://www.faceresearch.org/demos/average

    It might be a good method to determining the face of resurrected persons. Also, concerning the “whiteness” of God — our skin, if all coloring agents like melatonin and blood are removed — it would be a creamy white.

  12. Stephen @11

    Thanks for the quotes, not for the insight, but as a reminder of how easily one can butcher the Bible. Holy cow, no wonder why there are so many religions.

  13. #1 – Justin, at the risk of being accused of a threadjack, I take serious issue with this pollyana-ish statement. Do you honestly believe that if a NT author had written an honest account of god’s dealings with the Midianites, it would have come off as a more “honest” description amounting to an OT version of the Sermon on the Mount?

    With respect to the OP (so as not to commit a TOTAL threadjack) I don’t think this question is really aimed at me, so I will refrain.

  14. When I think of God, I think of Jesus, who is a manifestation of the Father. Before He was crucified, Jesus told his disciples, “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him )John 14: 7). Jesus showed us in everything He said and did what the Father is like. We make the Father and His appearance more complicated than we need to, for Jesus, with his pure love and unfathomable kindness, is the Father and, although He has no apparent beauty, is the magnificent image of His Father.

  15. Let me answer this question with a few questions?

    What do the contents of an empty box look like?

    What does the inside of a black hole look like?

  16. While I’m fairly certain I’m not right, I’ve always pictured God looking a lot like my grandfather. It’s seemed easier to put him in the role of the distant, but loving father that way. It also encouraged me to really open up and talk during prayers, and my prayers are a lot more meaningful that way.

    The other image I often picture of God is simply that of a blue sky, sometimes cloudy, sometimes starry. No doubt related to the constant referral that heaven is up and skyward. This has resulted with me often praying outside, looking upwards and just pouring out my soul.

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    Nicely said Dan.

    brjones — but that is part of it, how much of what we are doing is remaking God in our own image (which the British were accused of doing, leading to the statement “God is not a proper English gentleman” — a quote I’d hoped others would catch. All of the examples I gave were examples of God as things he is not, down to the C.S. Lewis riff “God is not a tame lion” or the more modern “God is not a gumball machine.” I don’t see your comment as a threadjack at all.

    SLK in SF — that was a nice memory to share. Thanks.

  18. The question led me to ask a follow-up question to myself, “How well am I representing God as I’ve been created in His image?”

  19. #17: Do you honestly believe that if a NT author had written an honest account of god’s dealings with the Midianites, it would have come off as a more “honest” description amounting to an OT version of the Sermon on the Mount?

    I do not think that if someone else wrote the account of what the Israelites did to the Midianites that it would sound more like the Sermon on the Mount. I don’t think there is a way to “honestly account” for that event because it seems incongruent with the character of God. I am saying that the understanding of God that is found in the OT is a product of the writers and the culture of that time — not so much directly from God. I likewise feel that much of the NT “God” is a product of the minds of its authors. Neither provides an accurate picture of what God is — only fragments remain.

    There are many things in the NT that I feel like Jesus — in all probability — didn’t do as a matter of historical fact. I think that things like that are written into the NT b/c the authors felt such things did, however, accurately reflect their understanding of God — a faith promoting story as it were.

    I see the OT “God” like that as well. He is a reflection of what ancient Israelites that He should be — not an autobiographical sketch of how He really is.

    That’s what this post causes me to reflect on: how have I made God in my own image (like the OT or NT authors did) versus how can I better reflect the fact that I am made in His?

  20. What I assume God looks like:

    – Assuming we retain any of our physical characteristics in the next life (ie. we look like we do now and not completely different)
    – Assuming God and Christ are nearly indistinguishable, which prophets have suggested
    – Assuming Christ looked Semitic in mortality, as he was born into that bloodline and that region of the world

    – I therefore assume God looks like an elderly Jewish man

  21. 21 – Dan, I’m sure you probably understood Dexter’s analogy of an empty box, and considering the number of unique opinions of god, not just from responders on this blog, but for the rest of the world, his analogy is far more probable than your defending statement. i.e. A delusion, is the best explanation of what god is.

  22. 22 – Thanks, Stephen. I now wish to add that my comment wasn’t intended to be as flippant as it may, in retrospect, appear: that smile-inducing Hirschfeld drawing provided me hours of childhood meditation on the nature of God and of his role as creator — not to mention on how we model him in our own creativity. 🙂

  23. JTJ,

    Yes, I understood. Yet I stand by that God is not an empty box nor a black hole.

    1. We actually know what is in an empty box.

    2. We actually have no clue what is in a black hole.

    3. We have several accounts that describe God, though the rest is left to our imagination.

  24. Dan,
    1) Doesn’t sound like you understood the point. The box is empty, nothing there (at least on a classical Newtonian scale, which I assume was intended), just like god in all probability is non-existant.
    2) Actually, there are a lot of clues, and good ideas based on that evidence. I didn’t play on Dexter’s use of it as an analogy because he’s just wrong about it. You are too. It’s no great devastation to be wrong, most of us are most of the time. However, perhaps you should give wikipedia a try next time.
    3) We have thousands of contradictory, poorly evidenced accounts, and NO uniform, reliable evidence. There are also thousands of contradictory, poorly evidenced accounts of a flying spaghetti monster. I think the default position in the absence of ANY good evidence is, neither exist.

  25. well JTJ, I fundamentally disagree with anybody who says God does not exist.

    There are also thousands of contradictory, poorly evidenced accounts of a flying spaghetti monster.

    Prove it.

  26. Dan,
    You should be asking yourself why you fundamentally disagree with the non-existence of god. You don’t believe in Zeus, and you have reasons for it. There’s no reason you shouldn’t apply that same level of inquiry to your own beliefs.

    The flying spaghetti monster is a nice modern day example of Bertrand Russell’s teapot analogy, (another thing for you to wikipedia) and can be found here
    http://www.venganza.org/category/sightings/
    QED

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  28. Thomas,
    Nice ad-hominem, notwithstanding, the argument remains, everyone has their own version of god (Joseph had at least 4), therefore the most probable answer to “God is what” is therefore “a delusion”. If you think that a naive “village” conclusion, come hang out and explain the more probable conclusion with accompanying evidence with Richard Dawkins on October 6th at Caltech at 8PM. I’ve got an extra ticket, and I’d like to see where my argument differs, how, and why, than the “upper-division” atheist, if there be such a thing.

  29. Dawkins is a decent enough biologist, but he is definitely a village atheist. He is as conceited, self-promoting, and overrated as Erwin Chemerinsky, and that’s saying as much as I can ever imagine saying. There hasn’t been a halfway decent atheist mind since Diderot.

    Dawkins and Harris are the type who rip the logical crap out of some Bible-thumping Baptist’s Sunday School conception of God, and declare they’ve disproved the existence of a being who is presumed to exist beyond the reach of ordinary physical observation. QE not precisely D.

  30. My internet and cable tv went down last night. I get a service call tomorrow. I will be somewhat unable to participate until then, by which time I expect this theme to be no longer current. My apologies if someone comments and is missed, but access via an almost smart phone is not something that I can do readily. Steve.

  31. Thomas, I always like what you have to say. I’ve got to say though, the pomposity of #38 is a bit over the top.

    As Homer Simpson once told Bart, “No matter how good you are, there’s always about a million people better than you.”

  32. Thomas, you failed again to answer, or even address, the argument. Perhaps you should have listened to Harris, Hitch, and Dawkins a little closer so you can at least be familiar enough with their arguments to formulate a reasoned and evidenced response. Until you can do so, your rantings will be in vain.

  33. Don’t Mormon teachings indicate that an exhaulted being has the appearance of a human in his/her prime? Therefore, viewing God as elderly would not be logical, amirite?

  34. Holden, sometimes one pompous ass deserves another. Dawkins’ snark quotient thoroughly spoils him for me, no matter how occasionally plausible his actual arguments may get. Fools mock.

    To borrow one of Dawkins’ lines, just as I don’t have to study leprechaunology to disbelieve in leprechauns, I don’t have to read every line Dawkins ever wrote to spot the fallacies that underlie his basic premises.

    Where Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens (the best of the three) and the rest come closest to laying a glove on God, is with the argument that the diversity of religious conceptions is good evidence against the existence of a sectarian God — a God whose attributes and will, purportedly revealed in toto to some one or other of the thousands of competing prophets, are accurately described by just one religious faction, while all the others are wrong.

    I’m inclined to agree with this. If applying the same process (which often comes down to “just believe and stop asking questions”) could just as easily make a man a Catholic, a Hindu, a Mormon, or a Muslim, depending on what path his temperament and life circumstances sent him down, then it’s statistically unreasonable for any one man to believe he’s got the one true faith.

    But that does not eliminate the possibility that all of these competing sects (together with more universalist traditions) may be pointed, however imperfectly and inconsistently, towards the true God, who is hypothesized to exist beyond the reach of ordinary rational processes. Dawkins’ declaration that God’s existence is “improbable,” clothed with the appearance of science, is simply unscientific. It’s a binary question — yes or no — with, by definition, no scientific way of calculating the probabilities.

  35. Thomas, you appear to be a pretty intelligent guy. But you hurt your credibility with your arrogant and pompous comments. You said, “There hasn’t been a halfway decent atheist mind since Diderot,” among other ridiculous things. I suppose you think you are smarter than Bertrand Russell and HUNDREDS of other atheists who have accomplished much more than you in both the discussion on the existence of god AND many other fields. Give me a break.

  36. I just think, that if humans were created in the image of God (male & female, remember!), it says at least two things:

    God can look much different than any of us imagine, but still be recognizable to us as the model of our creation (even if it was “evolution” that brought about the end result).

    Either Elohim really is a plural (at least two Gods instead of just one), or we have a hermaphrodite God, who just happened to fancy seeing itself as a man.

    Particularly the first one strikes me as wiping the board up to Aslan — no, I don’t feel it’s him!

  37. No more pompous and arrogant than the whole Flying Spaghetti Monster mockery. You want respect from theists, show some, ya froggin’ heathen.

    Re: Diderot, grow a funny bone and learn to recognize hyperbolic license. So Bertrand Russell is smarter than me. Well, G.K. Chesterton and Immanuel Kant are smarter than you. And neither Russell nor Chesterton, were Russell or Chesterton when they started out. You would have us sit in the shadows of previous giants, never daring to make a bold point — because what more can we say than to us hath been said, by our betters?

    I still say that the present round of atheists — Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, with maybe my old neighbor Bill Lobdell thrown into the mix — are far inferior to their intellectual forebears, from Diderot to Russell. And that’s a pity, because good honest atheists are something believers definitely need, to keep them honest. I doubt religion would have risen to the intellectual heights to which its best aspects have, without the goad of a sophisticated and serious opposition shining light on the injustices, pettiness, and absurdities religion tends to fall prey to.

    I keep coming back to “Fools mock, but they shall mourn.” Satire is devastatingly effective, in its proper place, but when the line is crossed into simple mockery — which carefully ignores engaging its target on its strongest points, and thereby presents its audience with a deliberately and dishonestly incomplete statement of the issue — it stops being serious, and loses its claim to my respect.

  38. Thomas, my argument was and remains. “everyone has their own version of god, therefore the most probable answer to “God is what” is therefore “a delusion”.

    You later responded

    “Where Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens (the best of the three) and the rest come closest to laying a glove on God, is with the argument that the diversity of religious conceptions is good evidence against the existence of a sectarian God — a God whose attributes and will, purportedly revealed in toto to some one or other of the thousands of competing prophets, are accurately described by just one religious faction, while all the others are wrong.

    I’m inclined to agree with this.”

    I was inclined to be satisfied with your agreement, but then you just keep on with the Ad hominem’s and fail to raise a good argument in return. You can rail against these men as demons or saints, but the measure of a man is not evidence for or against a god. Brilliant people have been wrong about all sorts of things. Newton practiced alchemy, but that crazy idea didn’t get in the way of the validity of calculus. A teapot, a spaghetti monster, unicorns, zeus, the tooth fairy, elohim, and my personal favorite (being Thursday and all) the might THOR, in theaters soon, should all be scrutinized under the same level of evidence. So IF you agree that others beliefs may just be a delusion, are you willing to consider you may be wrong as well?

  39. You see, JTJ, I wouldn’t call someone’s belief in Zeus (the word, of course, from which all the Latin languages derive the word for “God”) a “delusion.” Or at least all a delusion. Their conception of the true God may be a few meters off target — God may actually be more into truth and beauty and less into transforming into a bull and seducing comely young Greeks — but I believe the overall religious impulse is almost always aimed at the true God. I have reasons for concluding that an ethical monotheistic God (call him Deus, Dios, Allah, or whatever) is more reasonable to believe in than one of the capricious deities in the pagan pantheons (if a god is capricious, then by definition you don’t have much hope of figuring out how to get him on your side or avoid cheesing him off, so why bother?), but I don’t for a moment pretend that my conception of God is completely error- or “delusion”-free.

    “You can rail against these men as demons or saints, but the measure of a man is not evidence for or against a god.”

    Maybe I didn’t make myself clear. No, a person’s character says little if anything relevant about the quality of his argument. Even if Gloria Allred or another despicable person is the one who says 2+2=4, it’s still true. What I am saying, with “fools mock,” is that when a person resorts to mockery, and avoids dealing with his opponent’s strongest points, it’s reasonable to conclude that he lacks more substantial support for his position.

    And anyway, I just read back over the post you’re commenting on. That’s “railing”? It’s “ad hominem” to find a guy’s tone overly sarcastic? You must’ve gone to junior high in a much nicer neighborhood than I did.

  40. Thomas, in reverse…
    “argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.” ~ Wikipedia. It doesn’t have to be vile or offensive to be an example of ad hominem, and I’m pleased you did raise a cogent argument in response. Well done, I’ll reply below.

    With respect to “fools mocking” I would modify it to be, if you’re beating your head against the evidence, it doesn’t matter what you say, you’ll look like a fool. I’m not one to approve of being vile, but mocking bad ideas is OK in my book. It’s also OK in most civilized nations. Even England’s libel laws are becoming more reasonable (see Simon Singh’s recent victory over the Chiropractic Industry). I like Sam Harris’ point he makes here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZsobWW1pQQ

    In your opening paragraph, you bring a valid argument to the table in that everyone else’s version of god is just a variation of what god really is. I can agree to that as a possibility, however I think you would find serious objections from believers of those other faiths (insert JS’s lecture #4 on faith here as well, in that if you don’t know the true correct nature of god, you can’t exercise faith in him). Additionally, and this is not a challenge, seeing as you have acknowledged that your interpretation may be incorrect, but I would also be very interested into how you (or anyone else) would have obtained that unique knowledge to understand that everyone else’s incomplete idea, or impulse, of god is true.

  41. Thomas, you continually criticize atheists for mocking theists, as you do nothing but mock atheists. You’re such a hypocrite.

  42. If I may be forgiven just one more bit of assholerly in response, two things: (1) Inconsistency is not a synonym for “hypocrisy,” as vast numbers of clever people seem to think; and (2) If there is ever a proper context for mockery, it’s in mocking mockery.

    Once the transparently silly flying spaghetti monster is deployed, I know I’m not dealing with a serious person.

    Short version: You don’t bother hypothesizing an invisible flying spaghetti monster, because even if one exists, it’s irrelevant to you. Even if the FSM is something you could conceivably win over to your side, and get it to do good things for you, you have no possible way at guessing what you would have to do to accomplish this. So why bother?

    (This, by the way, is why the FSM argument *may* work against old-school Baal-worship, or performing more or less random rituals in the hope of pleasing a god. Who knows whether your god likes roasted meat, or whether his tastes run more to sacrificed virgins, or rain dances But the FSMites don’t limit themselves to that — they think they’ve disproved the existence of God altogether. Again, not a particularly scientific approach.)

    What kind of a God *would* be worth hypothesizing? (1) A God that can’t be influenced by human action or thinking can be dispensed with — that kind of being, by definition, will do what he’ll do, so no point bothering with him. Likewise, a God who *might* conceivably interact with humanity, and have those interactions shaped by how humans dealt with him — but whose conditions for allowing those dealings to have an effect, are arbitrary — is also not worth bothering with. We can’t guess what the conditions are, so again, no point bothering.

    But what about a God who blesses humanity, because it is his inherent nature to be for humanity? (The existence of human suffering doesn’t rule this out, if you take the long view.) In that case, there are two possibilities: He does so unconditionally (see #1, above — we can just lie back and wait), or he does so conditionally. If God’s nature is to bless humanity, but conditionally, the only condition we can reasonably deduce from the nature of the God we’ve hypothesized, is that we align ourselves on God’s side as being for humanity.

    So that’s the “slight conjecture” which natural religion takes for its starting point. Obviously, you can take it or leave it. Some people find that even making this first step, and following where it leads, is too much effort for what they calculate (on I don’t know what considerations) to be long odds against the wager paying off. My experience has been different. I don’t think faith has been, overall, a waste of time and effort. And more to the point, silly talk about flying spaghetti monsters is not remotely close to proof that it has been.

  43. #53: Line 3. Although yeah, it would have been clearer if I’d written “flying spaghetti monster (hereafter ‘FSM’).”

    Will — Thanks. It works for me.

  44. Thomas, certainly the FSM is a transparent spoof, and in your mind, so would be Icelanders belief in fairies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_people), Zoroastrianism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism), or the mother of all frauds, Scientology, except in each of these beliefs, the followers have the same sincerity, and formulate the same rhetorical explanations just as you do for your belief. You just need to go one god further in you rejection of bad ideas, although its unlikely you will get there anytime soon. And since you persisted down the slippery slope in defining what god worth be hypothesizing over, I actually would like to challenge you to explain to the bloggernacle how you came to this unique knowledge of the limits and bounds of what that god is. Then we’ll have the opportunity to compare that to the testimony of a pastafarian and see whose is more ridiculous.

  45. JTJ, I actually served my mission in Iceland. Interesting place. For the most part, the “belief” in the huldafolk is with a wink and a nod; it’s basically part of the national folklore.

    I just offered what I think is a fair-enough basis for narrowing down the choices of what kind of higher power is worth hypothesizing and seeking. Two questions: (1) Where does the logic break down? (2) Have you honestly heard a fairy-believer make a similarly logical argument for the existence of fairies?

    As for explanation of how I came to my belief, I’ve given it on this board probably more times than anyone really cares to read. I’ll see if I can find one of the detailed tellings on one of the earlier threads.

  46. Thomas, aside from challenging your already/to be presented revelatory explanation of god (which, let’s face it, if half convincing, you could make billions off of), let me dispense of your narrowing down challenge. 1) You don’t need to start with a god to begin with. To borrow an argument from Feynman, nature is how she presents herself, she’s going to come out the way she is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfjWa6yW2mk&NR=1 if you don’t like it, go to a different universe, or bring better evidence than what we have to explain it. You can’t start with the conclusion and try to work backwards, and to add, the Judeao-christian history and understanding of the universe (i.e. god) has been thoroughly debunked. The same goes for fairies, zeus, FSM, the parthenogenic jesus and sathia sai baba (both surprisingly had mothers whose birth canal only went one way). 2) Yes, and I dispense with the foolish idea just as I do yours. Why do you not see the same for your own beliefs?

  47. I am no longer able to moderate my own threads, but I woukd encourage a little more civility at times, though everyone seems to be coming around.

    I might suggest a study of the cult of Zeus, the worship of Zeus rather than the public stories. A god much different appears. Inner cult secrets of a number of mystery religions might inform the current debate.

    Regards,

    Stephrn

  48. “Thomas, aside from challenging your already/to be presented revelatory explanation of god”

    Who said anything about “revelatory”? My argument, above, is to establish a rational basis for entertaining a general theistic hypothesis, and demonstrating that the modish atheists fail to address that argument (as opposed to the argument for a sectarian God, which is what they’ve actually focused on).

    “You don’t need to start with a god to begin with.”

    No. But neither do I need to not posit a God. And there may be reasons why I might want to.

    After all, we do and think all kinds of things, which, strictly speaking, we are not compelled to do or think. I don’t need Swedish Fish, but they give me great pleasure.

  49. I am curious about this, could you please post the link to part 1? I don’t think I had ever quite realized until just now but in my own imaginings I have never given God a face. I’m talking about Heavenly Father. To me he is a person but is embodied by the most deep, indescribable, forgiving love for his children that that is what I mentally see, or rather, feel. He is that wonderful, peace-giving hug that wraps you body and soul and loves you no matter what you have done.

  50. Hi Stephen.

    I like this question.  I think that in as much as we work with the Holy Ghost and not really with the Father, that it is easy to think of God as “faceless”.  After all, the Holy Ghost does not take Glory to Himself and really does not testify of Himself per se.  Nor does He “show” Himself to us as a man speaks to a man “face to face”.  It is even possible that He does not work with us directly all the time but through intermediary agencies — who are even less known to us.

    I sometimes visualize God the Father and when I do, I suppose “patriarch” is the closest thing out of your list that applies.  But really, more often, when I pray, my sense of it is a lot more like talking on my phone without skype.  I speak and I listen but I do not see the other party. 

  51. Hi Stephen.

    I like this question.  I think that in as much as we work with the Holy Ghost and not really with the Father, that it is easy to think of God as “faceless”.  After all, the Holy Ghost does not take Glory to Himself and really does not testify of Himself per se.  Nor does He “show” Himself to us as a man speaks to a man “face to face”.  It is even possible that He does not work with us directly all the time but through intermediary agencies — who are even less known to us.

    I sometimes visualize God the Father and when I do, I suppose “patriarch” is the closest thing out of your list that applies.  But really, more often, when I pray, my sense of it is a lot more like talking on my phone without skype.  I speak and I listen but I do not see the other party. 

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