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what makes a god a god

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Topic: what makes a god a god
Posted By: gcle2003
Subject: what makes a god a god
Date Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 15:44
(Or a goddess assuming political correctness hasn't caught up wth theology.)
 
This spins off from another thread (Who was Jesus, Prophet?) where Akolouthos suggested, perhaps a tad optimistically, that all that was needed to discuss the theme was agreement on what consituted a god, if there was one.
 
It isn't easy, is it? It seems to me that three necessary conditions are that it, he or she be conscious, wilful[1], and possessed of extraordinary powers. But those are surely not sufficient, and offhand I can't think of any characteristics that would seem to be sufficient.
 
[1] In the original sense of willing their actions.


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Replies:
Posted By: es_bih
Date Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 18:28
Interesting topic.

Must agree with you - supernatural powers cannot be the only requirement.

In the sense of my own perception and some of the Founding Fathers, and other deists - I would say that God (the Geat Architect) should fall in line with what we understand of the Universe. One thing being the Big Bang - God may not have created people 5, 000 years ago, but more likely is the spark that provided the Big Bang to us.

From an Islamic point of view, too, the Big Bang and physics are in line with God - and understanding God.



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Posted By: Parnell
Date Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 19:26
A God is anything which is capable of explaining the inexplainable.

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"Neither apathy nor antipathy can ever bring out the truth of history" Eoin Mac Neill.


Posted By: Flipper
Date Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 19:57
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

A God is anything which is capable of explaining the inexplainable.


Amazing quote Parnell! Clap

Let me add... In some cases anything that gives hope, to the hopeless.


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Så nu tar jag fram (k)niven va!


Posted By: Akolouthos
Date Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 22:32
Who's an optimist? Wink

I will state that I believe, given the context of that particular thread and the post I was responding to, my remark had something to it. After all, we had enough of a common understanding to discuss the question. Still, you are quite right to point out that what passes for a common understanding of divinity is often superficial.

I suppose the best way to go about it would be to examine different conceptions of God. You and I have discussed the Christian apophatic application to God of seemingly irreconcilable characteristics, which has always been done by theologians who were fully conscious of the limitations -- indeed, the inadequacy -- of human language. In this sense, we have all the "omnis" (omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc.). I believe the Muslims have a similar understanding, although I think they generally shy away from applying characteristics to God a bit more than we do. I'm sure Omar or es_bih could clarify. I should have more on this topic later, but I'm interested to see how the conversation develops. Great topic idea, graham. Thumbs UpClap

-Akolouthos


Posted By: eaglecap
Date Posted: 04-Jun-2009 at 22:57
This all probably depends on the theology your were brought up under and if you still believe it or not. People have the right to believe in a god, goddess or an it or nothing at all. I once saw a situation comedy were the black actor got into some weird cult and shaved his head and worshipped a head of cabbage, so just remember when you eat the next head of cabbage- it could be god.
I believe in a creator of some type but not defined, although, I am influenced by my Lutheran, Greek Orthodox upbringing along with the Baptist grade school I went to. In some new age beliefs you are really god and do not know it.

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Well then, brothers and fellow citizens and soldiers, remember this in order that your memorial, your fame and freedom will be eternal.


Posted By: Northman
Date Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 01:58
"What makes a God a God?" is the question.
In my opinion, the answer is more simple than we might think.
 
My ancestors, or some of them, made Odin and Thor and a number of other guys their Gods - The Greeks and the Romans had their own two sets of parallel Gods -  Jews made Jahve their God - some people called the Christians added Jesus to the equation and the Muslims were told his name was Allah some 600 years later 
It's all about people at different times and places. So the answer is, that it is people that makes a God - a God.
 
I know that was not the premise for the question - but to answer that - this, the first part, is necessary.
God(s) and religion was defined by the people in top of society, the clerics, the rulers, any authority, to acheive control over common people. Either by the promise of certain rewards, such as an afterlife, even in a green garden if they behaved - or if they dared to stray away from the narrow path, the promise of eternal condemnation in hot places.
 
To make people believe this, the most powerful Gods were naturally defined to be equipped with mighty supernatural powers, all seeing, all knowing, creating everything, deciding who goes up and who goes down and so on.
 
The definition of who/what God is has changed through the eras to adapt into the general increased knowledge of commoners and development of societies.
Ie. less than 100 years ago, everyone saw God as a (mostly) gentle, white bearded man, sitting somewhere in heaven. People won't buy that today - so now he has changed to be exclusively spiritual.
 
So - the answer I produced above is still valid - people have always defined "What makes a God - a God" - but the standard definition of "a God" is constantly changing.
 
~ Northman
 
 
 
 
 
  
 


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Posted By: es_bih
Date Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 05:08
Not necessarily Northman. When you look at the underlying dynamics of Divinity in World religions they are for the most part the same. The concept of a Divinity, or "God" is very much alike. In some systems Divinity is spread out to different "gods," but really those are characteristics of a "creator." Sometimes you have to separate the folklore from the theology. Especially in early religions, where popular thought shaped mainstream wings of a belief system. A lot of systems have a set of core characteristics, or better yet a blueprint that is shared in concept with other systems through out the worlds. So the name necessarily does not matter - the underlying blueprint is what needs to be deciphered to understand the concept of "God."

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Posted By: Blacksun
Date Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 16:17

what makes a god a god is us.


"we" , people, human being...

Every individual has their own definition for God. For ages people needed to believe  in a higher being-whether that be God,  Allah, Zeus, RA, Buddah, etc.

Why do we people need to believe in a superior power? There are plenty of reasons of course but I believe that the main reason is to bring security to our very insecure lives. We have our own fears..even the most privileged  people, in the most privileged  places... And none of us like to admit or accept the fact that there’s nothing we can do to eliminate some dangers and truths which we can never control like death. Therefore , having a god will allow us to believe that we have  control over circumstances in our lives that we wouldn’t  have otherwise.

Actually this issue is very deep and discussable and can be extended by many questions such as :

What is the history of God? (which I would really like to learn )


To make it short, imho " What makes a god a god is our needs to believe in a higher power which will protect and reward us and punish the people who deserve."




Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 02:36
Not to be the iconoclast here, but God is the name of a singular creating entity.
Everything else is not a god. That's rather the point.

There are concepts of God across all religions and peoples, but certainly not all individuals. When people create deities, or replace God by a Deity, they don't have a different concept of God - they just don't have any concept of God.
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

A God is anything which is capable of explaining the inexplainable.

You mean a teacher??
Originally posted by Ako Ako wrote:

I believe the Muslims have a similar understanding, although I think they generally shy away from applying characteristics to God a bit more than we do. I'm sure Omar or es_bih could clarify.

Exactly right.
Muslims are discouraged from asking pointless theoretical questions that no human can possibly answer. You run the risk of telling a lie against God, and the only benefit is the intellectual satisfaction.
Not that this discouragement has stopped alot of people. Its really only stopped the pious and the fundamentalists. Actually, the Persians/Iraqis were famous for asking such questions (or rather, having sects that asked such sections) in the Abbasid period.
Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

God(s) and religion was defined by the people in top of society, the clerics, the rulers, any authority, to acheive control over common people. Either by the promise of certain rewards, such as an afterlife, even in a green garden if they behaved - or if they dared to stray away from the narrow path, the promise of eternal condemnation in hot places.

In Danish history, that's probably a fairly good description (it is as far as I know at least), but in a global sense, that's not true at all. So much so that I don't even think I need to provide you with a counter example.
Quote The definition of who/what God is has changed through the eras to adapt into the general increased knowledge of commoners and development of societies.
Ie. less than 100 years ago, everyone saw God as a (mostly) gentle, white bearded man, sitting somewhere in heaven. People won't buy that today - so now he has changed to be exclusively spiritual.

Neither is that true. I'll admit that I haven't read many medieval religous texts but the modern and the ancient are certainly well in tune.
The former definition you described I'd describe as a deity rather than a concept of God (its merely superhuman), and its one that many people choose to believe in, but it is niether old or new, its adherents come from all ages and generations.
Originally posted by Blacksun Blacksun wrote:

Why do we people need to believe in a superior power? There are plenty of reasons of course but I believe that the main reason is to bring security to our very insecure lives. We have our own fears..even the most privileged  people, in the most privileged  places... And none of us like to admit or accept the fact that there’s nothing we can do to eliminate some dangers and truths which we can never control like death. Therefore , having a god will allow us to believe that we have  control over circumstances in our lives that we wouldn’t  have otherwise.

Although commonly said, I don't think that is true. It implies that insecure people are more likely to believe in God.

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"O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give the pledge to this Prophet"
~ Heraclius, Roman Emperor


Posted By: Parnell
Date Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 09:11
Quote You mean a teacher??


LOL! No. What I mean by that is an agent who can explain profound and/or complex and/or essentially irrational things with his mere grace. ie, The grace of God.

Such as in the Christian tradition. Evil and good being the ultimate themes. What drives men to be evil? God can answer that. Its certainly more satisfying than hearing it from a criminal psychologist.


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"Neither apathy nor antipathy can ever bring out the truth of history" Eoin Mac Neill.


Posted By: es_bih
Date Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 20:10
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Quote You mean a teacher??


LOL! No. What I mean by that is an agent who can explain profound and/or complex and/or essentially irrational things with his mere grace. ie, The grace of God.

Such as in the Christian tradition. Evil and good being the ultimate themes. What drives men to be evil? God can answer that. Its certainly more satisfying than hearing it from a criminal psychologist.


What drives you to associate the Christian tradition of original sin to all others?, or better yet that an answer to such a trivial answer would create conditions for "God?"


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Posted By: Parnell
Date Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 21:04
Originally posted by es_bih es_bih wrote:

Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Quote You mean a teacher??


LOL! No. What I mean by that is an agent who can explain profound and/or complex and/or essentially irrational things with his mere grace. ie, The grace of God.

Such as in the Christian tradition. Evil and good being the ultimate themes. What drives men to be evil? God can answer that. Its certainly more satisfying than hearing it from a criminal psychologist.


What drives you to associate the Christian tradition of original sin to all others?, or better yet that an answer to such a trivial answer would create conditions for "God?"


I'm not sure what angle your coming from here Es Bih. It was an example of how a divine being can provide answers to uncomfertable or irrational questions. Answers much more simplistic than the findings of scientists. And before there was an entirely 'rational' explanation for these things God filled the gap. Hence God explained the inexplainable.


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"Neither apathy nor antipathy can ever bring out the truth of history" Eoin Mac Neill.


Posted By: es_bih
Date Posted: 06-Jun-2009 at 21:56
That has nothing to do with what makes God, God however. That is the angle I am coming from.




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Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 07-Jun-2009 at 13:55
I'm still digesting all this.
 
However I did deliberately write 'what makes a god a god?' not 'what makes God God?' The latter question is a very different one, largely because it immediately implies monotheism. A monotheist God is by definition unique: there is only one and there has always only been one[1] and it never had to have been made. So I'm not even sure that it is a properly formed grammatical question.
 
Yet monotheists comfortably enough use the term 'god' to refer to members of various pantheons, and various people, like Aristotle, manage to believe both in gods and God, or at least to write and act as though they do.
 
In that sense the monotheist God, while unique in assumed reality, is also a member of a conceptual class, and it's determining membership in that class that interests me here.
 
I accept what someone said, that it is people who 'make' gods by believing in them and classifying them, but that rather dodges the rather deeper question of what makes them do that.
 
Like I said, I'm still digesting.
 
[1] Allowing respectfully for the Christian position.
 


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: Northman
Date Posted: 07-Jun-2009 at 13:57

Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

God(s) and religion was defined by the people in top of society, the clerics, the rulers, any authority, to acheive control over common people. Either by the promise of certain rewards, such as an afterlife, even in a green garden if they behaved - or if they dared to stray away from the narrow path, the promise of eternal condemnation in hot places.
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

In Danish history, that's probably a fairly good description (it is as far as I know at least), but in a global sense, that's not true at all. So much so that I don't even think I need to provide you with a counter example.

No Omar - it's not only valid in Danish history - all Abrahamic religions have the concept of "heaven or hell" - including your own religion of course.
In an answer to EB in the sister thread, you said:

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Lets analyse the risk.
If you believe in God, and are wrong
You die, nothing happens.
If you don't believe in God, and are wrong
You die, get judged, and don't have a resume as good as it could've been. You risk eternal damnation.

In terms of a cost-benefit analysis it makes sense therefore to believe in God, and follow the rules of whichever religion you think is most likely. If you are wrong and there is no God you've lost nothing, if you are right you might just increase your chances of a better afterlife.


So we agree on the promises - the good and the bad.
So what is it that isn't true? - is it where I say it was/is used for controlling common people?
Most common people couldn't read, so they had no chance to examine the scriptures themselves to make an opinion, nor did they have the intellect to do so. They had to follow the doctrine, given by the rulers/clerics - or face eternal damnation.
In fact - I see no reason to use past tense - it is still like this.

Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

The definition of who/what God is has changed through the eras to adapt into the general increased knowledge of commoners and development of societies.
Ie. less than 100 years ago, everyone saw God as a (mostly) gentle, white bearded man, sitting somewhere in heaven. People won't buy that today - so now he has changed to be exclusively spiritual.
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

Neither is that true. I'll admit that I haven't read many medieval religous texts but the modern and the ancient are certainly well in tune.
The former definition you described I'd describe as a deity rather than a concept of God (its merely superhuman), and its one that many people choose to believe in, but it is niether old or new, its adherents come from all ages and generations.

With your intellect, I'm sure you can read and defend the texts in a way where you can explain that God is only spiritual - but that has not been the concept from anyone (commoners OR clerics) through the last few millenia - but only since science made it improbable with a physical God.
Most commoners have not differentiated between a deity and a God - to them a God was a God - or God IS God.
Mind you - people like simple concepts and always did, heaven vs. hell, good vs. bad, God vs. Satan, us vs. them.
That is why they are so easily controlled and always were.
If you are born and raised into a certain doctrine - you are controlled by that doctrine by default. 
We all are a result of the environment where we incidently was born, no matter whether we believe in God or not.

My little story about auntie was only to demonstrate there can be some good reasons to believe in God - and simple concepts.



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Posted By: Northman
Date Posted: 07-Jun-2009 at 14:54
Originally posted by es_bih es_bih wrote:

Not necessarily Northman. When you look at the underlying dynamics of Divinity in World religions they are for the most part the same. The concept of a Divinity, or "God" is very much alike. In some systems Divinity is spread out to different "gods," but really those are characteristics of a "creator." Sometimes you have to separate the folklore from the theology. Especially in early religions, where popular thought shaped mainstream wings of a belief system. A lot of systems have a set of core characteristics, or better yet a blueprint that is shared in concept with other systems through out the worlds. So the name necessarily does not matter - the underlying blueprint is what needs to be deciphered to understand the concept of "God."
 
I totally agree es_bih - and I think you confirmed my claim, that various people in various cultures shaped the idea of what God is - and shaped the rules for common people to follow.
The blueprint of Abrahamic religions originated with the Jews - or even before them.
In the old testament, we can read more than 600 strict laws they had/have to follow (Torah) - not only in respect to God and religion, but also laws pertaining every day life (control).
Some of these laws were good and meant to guide people off dangers of that time (don't eat pork ie.) Others were meant to keep people in place.
To my best knowledge, these laws are seen as an authentic revelation from God in both Christianity and Islam as well.
However, in Islam they are considered corrupted by people who changed them (more control) - and I'm not sure if that's Christian view as well.
 
 


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Posted By: Akolouthos
Date Posted: 07-Jun-2009 at 19:26
Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

Originally posted by es_bih es_bih wrote:

Not necessarily Northman. When you look at the underlying dynamics of Divinity in World religions they are for the most part the same. The concept of a Divinity, or "God" is very much alike. In some systems Divinity is spread out to different "gods," but really those are characteristics of a "creator." Sometimes you have to separate the folklore from the theology. Especially in early religions, where popular thought shaped mainstream wings of a belief system. A lot of systems have a set of core characteristics, or better yet a blueprint that is shared in concept with other systems through out the worlds. So the name necessarily does not matter - the underlying blueprint is what needs to be deciphered to understand the concept of "God."
 
I totally agree es_bih - and I think you confirmed my claim, that various people in various cultures shaped the idea of what God is - and shaped the rules for common people to follow.
The blueprint of Abrahamic religions originated with the Jews - or even before them.
In the old testament, we can read more than 600 strict laws they had/have to follow (Torah) - not only in respect to God and religion, but also laws pertaining every day life (control).
Some of these laws were good and meant to guide people off dangers of that time (don't eat pork ie.) Others were meant to keep people in place.
To my best knowledge, these laws are seen as an authentic revelation from God in both Christianity and Islam as well.
However, in Islam they are considered corrupted by people who changed them (more control) - and I'm not sure if that's Christian view as well.
 


The Christian view (for everyone up to the time of Jerome, and for the majority until the Reformation) is that the revelation, as preserved in the Septuagint translation, is authentic; that there may have been alterations to the Hebrew text by the School of Jamnia, among other early rabbinical and proto-rabbinical circles, to refute Christian claims; and that the Law -- composed of all the laws -- served either a) as a tutor to led the Jews, and eventually the Gentiles, toward Christ through foreshadowing his Incarnation, or b) as a means of preserving the chosen people of God as a repository of Divine revelation and an incubator for the pre-Incarnational Church.

Hope that helps. Since the Reformation, and especially since the advent of historical/textual criticism in the 19th century, there have been a variety of theories proposed, but what is written above represents to consensus patrum.

-Akolouthos


Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 00:52
Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

So what is it that isn't true? - is it where I say it was/is used for controlling common people?
Most common people couldn't read, so they had no chance to examine the scriptures themselves to make an opinion, nor did they have the intellect to do so. They had to follow the doctrine, given by the rulers/clerics - or face eternal damnation.
In fact - I see no reason to use past tense - it is still like this.

Oops sorry North, I wasn't clear there.
I meant the first sentence ("
God(s) and religion was defined by the people in top of society, the clerics, the rulers, any authority, to acheive control over common people."
) wasn't true generally.
For example, all the religious thinkers in the early Islamic world were from the common people, and usually were in conflicts with the people at the top of society. Though it should be fairly clear that most religions have experienced as much pain from authorities as benefit.
There are many examples of course where what you say is true, but there are many counter-examples as well, and many of both examples failed.
Quote With your intellect, I'm sure you can read and defend the texts in a way where you can explain that God is only spiritual - but that has not been the concept from anyone (commoners OR clerics) through the last few millenia - but only since science made it improbable with a physical God.

North, the Abbasids once tried to control the common people by use of a now extinct religious sect*, they once used this sect to fight against another sect. While the first sect were disliked by the common people, the second sect were considered heretics by the common people. The second sect were anthropomorphics.
For the last 1430 years, seeing God as a (mostly) gentle, white bearded man, sitting somewhere in heaven, has always been considered heresy in Islam. Christianity has had a more difficult role in refuting anthropomorphism it is true, but the-not-Jesus-part-of-God is not (or should not be) anthropomorphic either.


*the Abbasids failed to define religion for the common people in this case

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"O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give the pledge to this Prophet"
~ Heraclius, Roman Emperor


Posted By: Northman
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 11:34
@Omar...
 
You can do any aftermath you like Omar, but it's evident that common people were/are controlled by religion, maybe even more so today.
The difference is that today, various beliefs pick and chose amongst the +600 laws (plus some extra doctrines) only adhering to what they find "suitable" - or fitting for the occasion.
 
To me it is equal evident that the Qur'an and the Bible both assign physical features to Allah/God and to believe that common people only see/saw God as a spirit is nonsense.
Both the Qur'an and the Bible are using words as He, Lord, King, Father, Thou ie. to address God - if that isn't assigning a physical (human) image, I don't know what is.
That He also could take a spiritual form was never questioned.
 
It would take a hard study of the books to change that perception - something that even the clerics never did - untill recently - like I said.
 
Another issue I think is totally missing in this discussion is this:
If one belive in God and what is said in the Qur'an or the Bible, then one naturally also accept the exsistance of good and evil angels, spirits and ghosts as described in the holy books.
 
But we never hear or see any reference to them from mainstream religious groups - why is that?  
 


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Posted By: Akolouthos
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 11:47
Hey North and Omar,

Sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to address a couple of things...

Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:


To me it is equal evident that the Qur'an and the Bible both assign physical features to Allah/God and to believe that common people only see/saw God as a spirit is nonsense.
Both the Qur'an and the Bible are using words as He, Lord, King, Father, Thou ie. to address God - if that isn't assigning a physical (human) image, I don't know what is.
That He also could take a spiritual form was never questioned.
 
It would take a hard study of the books to change that perception - something that even the clerics never did - untill recently - like I said.


I'm not sure about Islam, but the fathers always identified human characteristics applied to God in the Scriptures as being applied by way of analogy. God is spoken of "as if" he repented, or "as if" he had a nose to smell a sacrifice. The linguistic economy is adopted to our understanding.

Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:


Another issue I think is totally missing in this discussion is this:
If one belive in God and what is said in the Qur'an or the Bible, then one naturally also accept the exsistance of good and evil angels, spirits and ghosts as described in the holy books.
 
But we never hear or see any reference to them from mainstream religious groups - why is that? 


You hear them all the time in the Orthodox liturgical services, as well as in our prayers. We constantly pray to be delivered from the demons darts and from the devil. It is odd that many Christian denominations have sought to take emphasis off the parts of the faith that deal with the dark side of the spiritual world, but it has not  historically been the case, nor is it the case within Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. I'll let Omar deal with the Islamic perspective, as I don't know nearly enough about it.

Once again, sorry to interrupt. Smile

-Akolouthos


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 12:04
Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

No Omar - it's not only valid in Danish history - all Abrahamic religions have the concept of "heaven or hell" - including your own religion of course.

They do now, but they didn't always. The idea comes fairly late into Judaism, probably after the exile. And of course it didn't originate with Judaism.

 


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 12:10
Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

If one belive in God and what is said in the Qur'an or the Bible, then one naturally also accept the exsistance of good and evil angels, spirits and ghosts as described in the holy books.
 
But we never hear or see any reference to them from mainstream religious groups - why is that?  
 
Well actually you hear references to them all the time, especially among Protestants in the US (angels in particular) and among Catholics of all denominations (saints in particular, but also angels).
 
What you probably don't hear so much (and this is maybe what you meant) is references to them by intellectuals debating.


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: Northman
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 16:08

You are not interrupting anything Ako - it's a pleasure to have you with us.
Thank you for your elaboration on the laws on the previous page - a very good read.

Originally posted by Akolouthos Akolouthos wrote:


I'm not sure about Islam, but the fathers always identified human characteristics applied to God in the Scriptures as being applied by way of analogy. God is spoken of "as if" he repented, or "as if" he had a nose to smell a sacrifice. The linguistic economy is adopted to our understanding.

How do we know it was an analogy they used - what makes you say that - did they say it directly?
I think that also the old clerics saw God as a human character, how could they not? According to the Bible we are created "in His Image".
As far as I know, that was always translated to mean that he created us like himself - until recently.


@Akolouthos and gcle
Sorry, like you said gcle,  I should have been more specific talking about angles, spirits and ghosts.
I'm well aware of how it's used in services (Christian) - but yes, if we look back on previous discussion here or actually anywhere religion is discussed, their absense is striking.
The only thing we hear occasionally (and with a lot of controversy) is when a priest performs an exorcism to rid someone of an evil demon or similar.
The church accepts the existence of these beings - they are an important element of religious beliefs, yet we hear so little of them, and I was asking why?



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Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 09-Jun-2009 at 20:35

Northman, I assume you don't follow US opinion polls?

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1842179,00.html - http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1842179,00.html


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 10-Jun-2009 at 04:11
Originally posted by North North wrote:

You can do any aftermath you like Omar, but it's evident that common people were/are controlled by religion, maybe even more so today.
The difference is that today, various beliefs pick and chose amongst the +600 laws (plus some extra doctrines) only adhering to what they find "suitable" - or fitting for the occasion.

Yep, because religion is to blame for taking away freedom, and no-one today is ever controlled by trusted figures

Geeze, if we'd just gone back in time to our great-great-grandfathers and liberated them from their oppressive religious rule they would've fallen over to thank us. They wouldn't, say, have grumbled to their kids about impious government and foriegn interference or anything, prompting those kids to try to re-establish religion in government.

I mean that kind of situation would be unparalleled. Imagine common people trying to control the state through religion. We'd have to be living in a dream world to see a popular revolution to overthrow a freedom-loving secular government and replace it with an evil-oppressive religious one.
Quote To me it is equal evident that the Qur'an and the Bible both assign physical features to Allah/God and to believe that common people only see/saw God as a spirit is nonsense.
Both the Qur'an and the Bible are using words as He, Lord, King, Father, Thou ie. to address God - if that isn't assigning a physical (human) image, I don't know what is.
That He also could take a spiritual form was never questioned.
 
It would take a hard study of the books to change that perception - something that even the clerics never did - untill recently - like I said.

Yep, because I'm going to believe your opinion on historical anthropomorphism in Islam over 8th century religious writers who've spent their whole life studying Islam. No offence North, there are muslims who refuse to use a plastic toothbrush because the prophet used a siwak (a soft wooden toothbrush). People who spend their life accusing things of being latter innovations without any suggestion of common sense, and these people do not believe in an anthropomorphic God.
Anthropomorphic heresies have arisen and dissappeared, extremist anti-Anthropomorphic heresies have arisen and dissappeared, people have been killed over the usage of the word "created" vs "word", whole libraries have been written on the subject.

But, its perfectly evident that everyone is simply mistaken, and all this literature magically came into existance in 1900.

I don't mean to be sarcastic North but you are leaving me with little other choice. I mean can't you see the cunning plot by none other than our arch rival Napoleon to take over all of Europe by means of the EU? Its perfectly evident, once you account for being tricked by historians re-interpreting history as if Napoleon wasn't behind it all.

Your argument is simplistic when applied to Christianity - where there is some truth in what you say about common beliefs. When applied to Islam its just... there almost no point replying.
Originally posted by North North wrote:

Another issue I think is totally missing in this discussion is this:
If one belive in God and what is said in the Qur'an or the Bible, then one naturally also accept the exsistance of good and evil angels, spirits and ghosts as described in the holy books.
 
But we never hear or see any reference to them from mainstream religious groups - why is that? 

We've had several discussions about Jinn on AE. Red Clay even swore he met one.


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"O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give the pledge to this Prophet"
~ Heraclius, Roman Emperor


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 10-Jun-2009 at 11:26
Must have been quite a tonic for him.

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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.


Posted By: Northman
Date Posted: 10-Jun-2009 at 13:04
Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

But, its perfectly evident that everyone is simply mistaken, and all this literature magically came into existance in 1900...........
Your argument is simplistic when applied to Christianity - where there is some truth in what you say about common beliefs. When applied to Islam its just... there almost no point replying.
No - everyone is not mistaken, but your mistake is that you assign the knowledge of people who have studied theology in depths, to equate the beliefs of commoners.
You cannot assign your knowledge of Islam or Ako's knowledge of Christianity to common people - and certainly not commoners a century or more ago. 
I don't know why it's so hard to accept that the fundamental texts were written more than two millenia ago, the Qur'an more than one millenium ago, and our view and understanding of the world has changed a bit since then - leaving some of those texts somewhat outdated.
Is it because the old texts you believe in have to be right down to the last word? 
Is that also why we cannot apply any new views to Islam? 
 
Yes - my arguments are simple, I'm a simple man - religion has never been, and shouldn't be, rocket science for crate chickens.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  


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Posted By: Akolouthos
Date Posted: 10-Jun-2009 at 22:34
Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

Originally posted by Omar Omar wrote:

But, its perfectly evident that everyone is simply mistaken, and all this literature magically came into existance in 1900...........
Your argument is simplistic when applied to Christianity - where there is some truth in what you say about common beliefs. When applied to Islam its just... there almost no point replying.
No - everyone is not mistaken, but your mistake is that you assign the knowledge of people who have studied theology in depths, to equate the beliefs of commoners.
You cannot assign your knowledge of Islam or Ako's knowledge of Christianity to common people - and certainly not commoners a century or more ago. 
I don't know why it's so hard to accept that the fundamental texts were written more than two millenia ago, the Qur'an more than one millenium ago, and our view and understanding of the world has changed a bit since then - leaving some of those texts somewhat outdated.
Is it because the old texts you believe in have to be right down to the last word? 
Is that also why we cannot apply any new views to Islam?
  


I cut that last line off for the purposes of my reply; I hope you don't mind.

Part of what entrances me so much about Christianity -- and I'm sure it's a reason for Omar's love of Islam -- is how little the core doctrines have changed over the millenia. The applications change, to be sure, precisely because the culture changes; the fundamental teachings and standards that are being applied do not.

The biggest change has been in the modern popular approach to religion, wherein individuals who have no theological training presume a right to argue theology with those who have devoted their lives to the study of such things. As with everything else, a "commoner", to borrow your phrasing, is certainly entitled to his own beliefs, but I would posit that to inform them he must consult those who have a certain level of expertise in the field. I wouldn't trust a layman who happens to enjoy reading things like the Da Vinci Code, The God Delusion, or even the Church Fathers to promulgate canon law any more than I would trust a churchman to who happens to enjoy cooking his own dinner to head up a major restaurant.

The problem is that because religion happens to be intensely personal, people recoil from the idea of submitting their opinions to the examination of people who might disagree with their fundamental presuppositions. It's rather like -- to adopt and adapt an analogy from one of graham's posts a year or so ago -- expecting to arrive at a proper political position every time one takes a random poll.

-Akolouthos


Posted By: Scorpius
Date Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 02:22
The God is The God. There is no making.

What makes you recognize The God is another story.
It is your heart, it is your intelligence, it is your wisdom, it is your judgment, it is a lot of things
I cannot comprehend.

Here is a little story that always makes me smile : )

One day a group of eminent scientists got together and decided that Man had come a long way and no longer needed GOD. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to GOD and said,"GOD,we've decided that we no longer need You. We are to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things,so why don't you just retire??"

GOD listened very patiently to the man and then said,"Very well, but first, how about this, let's have a Man Making Contest."

To which the scientist replied,"Okay, Great!"

But GOD added,"Now we are going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam"
The Scientist said,"Sure, No problem" and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

GOD just looked at him and said,"No,no no--- You go get your own dirt!"





Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 07:53

Hey Scorpius! Its great to see you again.

Originally posted by Northman Northman wrote:

No - everyone is not mistaken, but your mistake is that you assign the knowledge of people who have studied theology in depths, to equate the beliefs of commoners.
You cannot assign your knowledge of Islam or Ako's knowledge of Christianity to common people - and certainly not commoners a century or more ago.

But when we are specifically talking about beliefs of the common people in the early Islamic period we have them recorded in great detail. Imam Malik, the founder of the Maliki school of law, used the example of the people of Madinah as a source of deriving law.
Not only that, but you were specifically talking about anthropomorphism, which was a great subject of religious argument in the Abbasid period, and which we have vast amounts of recorded knowledge about.

Now if you say, do I know what Mr X from village Y in valley Z believed in 1807 then of course I have no idea. But I do know that the definition of God that is being taught now, and the definition of God being taught in the 8th century is the same. In fact, muslims have always been very strict in teaching the same definition since revelation.

Furthermore I don't see any real distinction between common people and theologians in a religion that has no clergy. The 'theologians' came from the common people, they would sit in public mosques and give public lectures, in fact the most notable early period theologians are notable now, because they were famous in their own time with the common people.

Quote I don't know why it's so hard to accept that the fundamental texts were written more than two millenia ago, the Qur'an more than one millenium ago, and our view and understanding of the world has changed a bit since then - leaving some of those texts somewhat outdated.
Is it because the old texts you believe in have to be right down to the last word?
Is that also why we cannot apply any new views to Islam?

We believe that Islam was created to re-teach mankind the message of Jesus and eariler prophets. Correcting what was forgotten and reaffirming that which wasn't.
If humans went and changed the religion to suit ourselves we would be defeating the point. We would not be teaching or practicing the message as revealed.
That is why we do not allow new views to be applied to Islam. Islam is, by definition, God's message preserved, and we believe that one, and exactly one "old text" is right down to the last word - the Quran.

If you wish to talk about Shariah law, then the majority of the methodology and rulings were derivied by men, such as Imam Malik. It is presently a matter of hot debate about how much law is outdated, and how much some legal implementations are actually adhering to revelation.



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"O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give the pledge to this Prophet"
~ Heraclius, Roman Emperor


Posted By: Balaam
Date Posted: 11-Jun-2009 at 09:51
I'd like to quote the character Itsuki Tachibana from Initial D

"Do you know what a god is? A god is actually human. But he can do what other humans can't."

I like to think of that as what makes a god. Smile


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