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The idea of a personal God

Vrp92
Posts: 6
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6/18/2014 10:26:26 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
If your on this forum your probably familiar with the idea of the personal God that Christians, Muslims and the Jewish faith worship. This God watches you from birth, is always present in your life, listens to your prayers and wants the best for you. He also expects for you to worship him as payment for his holy supervision. Now my question: is this a good thing? Does this make people self absorbed? Does this make people feel overly special by having personal relationship with a divine being? Is it bad that people expect help from someone they can't prove exists? Is being told at a young age that there is a place infinitely better than planet earth make people not only disregard the magnificence of this planet, but disregard the safety of this planet?

Chinese philosophy, most eloquently put by Buddhism,encourages the annihilation of the ego. They encourage belief that every human is part of a system and that focusing on the self leads to a mindless cycle of craving that cannot be quenched. This mindless craving also damages the community. In terms of Chinese philosophy, do western Gods possibly lead to more suffering?

This is my first post. I was raised Catholic, now Agnostic but with interests in Chinese philosophy (Confucianism, Daoism(Taoism), Buddhism). I'm just looking for some feedback and opinions on these questions.

Personally, I believe that this personal God promoted by western religions can be dangerous. I think it alienates people from other humans because everyone is on their own quest for salvation. I think it can also be dangerous in convincing people they know the answers to things unanswerable. I also think it can lead to people doing stupid things in the name of God (or more aligned with current events: Allah).
Examples: the inquisition, crusades, burning witches, suicide bombers, etc. I don't rule out the fact that western religion can be a good thing and it provides comfort, but I think the cons outweigh the pros.

Any feedback on this topic is much appreciated!
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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6/18/2014 10:41:45 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/18/2014 10:26:26 PM, Vrp92 wrote:

If your point is to highlight the individualistic culture we live in, then that's worth highlighting. I've never heard the term "personal God" before, but perhaps it's a rhetorical device that is necessary to show that our beliefs are continuing to revolve around each person as his or her own center of the universe. Pride is the idea that you are superior to others, and I could definitely see how pride could lead one to some of the problems you outlined. Don't forget, however, that Jesus denounced pride.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Vrp92
Posts: 6
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6/18/2014 11:14:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/18/2014 10:41:45 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 6/18/2014 10:26:26 PM, Vrp92 wrote:

If your point is to highlight the individualistic culture we live in, then that's worth highlighting. I've never heard the term "personal God" before, but perhaps it's a rhetorical device that is necessary to show that our beliefs are continuing to revolve around each person as his or her own center of the universe. Pride is the idea that you are superior to others, and I could definitely see how pride could lead one to some of the problems you outlined. Don't forget, however, that Jesus denounced pride.

I am realizing that i was biased in my terming of God as a personal God. At the same time as he attends to the individual, he is supposed to attend to every individual; so in that sense he is a communal God. My main question (i admit my post was a little unorganized) is whether or not this God leads to this individualistic/materialistic culture. An opposing question could be: does our materialistic/individualistic culture lead to the misunderstanding of God?
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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6/19/2014 1:26:16 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/18/2014 11:14:07 PM, Vrp92 wrote:
At 6/18/2014 10:41:45 PM, R0b1Billion wrote:
At 6/18/2014 10:26:26 PM, Vrp92 wrote:

If your point is to highlight the individualistic culture we live in, then that's worth highlighting. I've never heard the term "personal God" before, but perhaps it's a rhetorical device that is necessary to show that our beliefs are continuing to revolve around each person as his or her own center of the universe. Pride is the idea that you are superior to others, and I could definitely see how pride could lead one to some of the problems you outlined. Don't forget, however, that Jesus denounced pride.

I am realizing that i was biased in my terming of God as a personal God. At the same time as he attends to the individual, he is supposed to attend to every individual; so in that sense he is a communal God.

God is a communist? JK!!

My main question (i admit my post was a little unorganized) is whether or not this God leads to this individualistic/materialistic culture. An opposing question could be: does our materialistic/individualistic culture lead to the misunderstanding of God?

Certainly the latter, not the former. Technology drives our culture of materialism and individualism. Ironically, we can do less for ourselves now than ever (almost nobody can physically provide for themselves without another person handling absolutely every step in the process - i.e., growing, cooking, building, maintaining, disposing, etc.) yet we feel more empowered over the universe than we ever have. There's no need for spirituality, science has it covered. There's no need to worry about my impacts on the environment, some guy will come up with a way to fix it. There's no reason to think my consumption comes at the expense of others, because they just need to produce more.

Jesus' message was not complex. He warned that focusing on wealth and valuing ourselves over others would cause us to lose the ability to know what God is. And that is exactly what is happening.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Vrp92
Posts: 6
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6/19/2014 3:16:53 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/19/2014 1:26:16 AM, R0b1Billion

Certainly the latter, not the former. Technology drives our culture of materialism and individualism. Ironically, we can do less for ourselves now than ever (almost nobody can physically provide for themselves without another person handling absolutely every step in the process - i.e., growing, cooking, building, maintaining, disposing, etc.) yet we feel more empowered over the universe than we ever have. There's no need for spirituality, science has it covered. There's no need to worry about my impacts on the environment, some guy will come up with a way to fix it. There's no reason to think my consumption comes at the expense of others, because they just need to produce more.

Jesus' message was not complex. He warned that focusing on wealth and valuing ourselves over others would cause us to lose the ability to know what God is. And that is exactly what is happening.

Empowered over the universe? I feel like the more we know, the more i know anyway, the more distant and powerless I feel. What about the Aztecs who thought they could control the universe (or their God(s)) through blood sacrifice? They lacked any scientific knowledge, yet concluded a blood sacrifice was a viable option towards positively
affecting their lives. I mean if you look at the statistics for star distance currently available, and then realize this is only one galaxy in an ever expanding space, how could you not feel powerless? Jesus' message was admirable, but that doesn't address the fact the christian religion based upon God and his son relies upon a book that is ambiguous in the sense that it can be so easily misunderstood by average-minded people (slaveowners, kony) , and so easily discarded by brilliant people (einstein, hawking,etc). Wouldn't this God provide a healthier medium to understand him? ..... Im straying off topic but to round up my point - This ambiguity presents problems. The religious pray to their God, but because of the nature of their book, most follow inadequately . Non-believers, citing the metaphysical faults of God or the inconsistencies of the bible don't have this advantage. In the eyes of the religious, non-believers are inferior and they are special. Score one for their ego. Also, athiests mostly believe they are more intelligent then the religious. Score one for their ego. So, the idea of this God stimulates the ego for the believer and for the non-believer. Bigger ego's usually need more material to satisfy themselves

if my thoughts sound random and incoherent, don't hold back on any form of critique
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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6/19/2014 7:09:02 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/19/2014 3:16:53 AM, Vrp92 wrote:
At 6/19/2014 1:26:16 AM, R0b1Billion

Certainly the latter, not the former. Technology drives our culture of materialism and individualism. Ironically, we can do less for ourselves now than ever (almost nobody can physically provide for themselves without another person handling absolutely every step in the process - i.e., growing, cooking, building, maintaining, disposing, etc.) yet we feel more empowered over the universe than we ever have. There's no need for spirituality, science has it covered. There's no need to worry about my impacts on the environment, some guy will come up with a way to fix it. There's no reason to think my consumption comes at the expense of others, because they just need to produce more.

Jesus' message was not complex. He warned that focusing on wealth and valuing ourselves over others would cause us to lose the ability to know what God is. And that is exactly what is happening.

Empowered over the universe? I feel like the more we know, the more i know anyway, the more distant and powerless I feel. What about the Aztecs who thought they could control the universe (or their God(s)) through blood sacrifice? They lacked any scientific knowledge, yet concluded a blood sacrifice was a viable option towards positively
affecting their lives. I mean if you look at the statistics for star distance currently available, and then realize this is only one galaxy in an ever expanding space, how could you not feel powerless?

Most people don't know as much about astronomy as you do nor do they recognize the limitations of modern science - they simply enjoy the creations of technology and increasingly ignore the limitations thereof. Besides, it's just a matter of time before somebody invents the solution to any problem they might have...

Jesus' message was admirable, but that doesn't address the fact the christian religion based upon God and his son relies upon a book that is ambiguous in the sense that it can be so easily misunderstood by average-minded people (slaveowners, kony) ,

First of all, the ancient parts of the Bible (Old Testament) are more important for Judaism than they are for Christianity. Christianity is about Christ, which is the New Testament. The only parts of the New Testament that deal intimately with Christ are Matt, Mark, Luke, & John. These four books largely repeat themselves, and the beginnings and endings have little moral value (they just provide a backdrop and talk about miracles). So one need only take one book, say Matthew, and take the middle 15 pages or so. That contains the vast majority of the points Jesus has to make: the lessons and principles he establishes. Nobody ever argues Jesus's lessons, it's always simply an attack on the Bible as a whole - giving free reign to take any part of it to refute as the whole... as if it were a scientific text, which it certainly is not. Others focus on the story of Jesus, never getting beyond trying to take seriously a book that portrays a man doing physically-impossible things. But nobody takes on Jesus's lessons head-on. Is it because they are too formidable? Not really, I'd say it's because they just don't read them. Anybody who does isn't going to be stupid enough to argue against them -_-

and so easily discarded by brilliant people (einstein, hawking,etc).

My friend, when I was in my twenties I admired such men as gods. Then I realized they simply occupy a niche. If the theory of relativity or the uncertainty principle is the subject then I will be far outstripped by these men. But if the subject is not theoretical physics, they will have no better ability than I to tackle it. In fact I have found that such people who are dedicated to only one thing for so much of their existence really fail to take the entire picture into account. They are experts in their fields, but amateurs in the other 99%.

Wouldn't this God provide a healthier medium to understand him?

Well if you're going to ask that question, you might as well just ask why he doesn't make everything perfect. I don't disagree with you; I don't particularly care for the popular Christian belief in God myself (i.e., personification). To me, God is simply the idea that there is something more to this life (this universe) than we are seeing. The laws of physics are arrows, and each one of them points to a similar idea: that this universe is a fake. There are many different, unrelated physical phenomena which seem to support Jesus's main point - we should not concern ourselves with maximizing our creature comforts here, because there is a more important place that we should be worried about.

..... Im straying off topic but to round up my point - This ambiguity presents problems. The religious pray to their God, but because of the nature of their book, most follow inadequately . Non-believers, citing the metaphysical faults of God or the inconsistencies of the bible don't have this advantage. In the eyes of the religious, non-believers are inferior and they are special. Score one for their ego. Also, athiests mostly believe they are more intelligent then the religious. Score one for their ego. So, the idea of this God stimulates the ego for the believer and for the non-believer. Bigger ego's usually need more material to satisfy themselves

You're employing a moral analysis here which is good - the next step is to realize, like I had to, that not all Christians and atheists employ these ego-based arguments. You can't lump them all together. But there is no club to join to be on the "right" side, you have to reach enlightenment alone. Once you're there, the labels don't mean so much. I couldn't say with 100% certainty that I'm not a Christian, not an atheist, or not an agnostic. I'm all of them and none of them. The problem is not with the beliefs of each, it is with the DISTINCTIONS of each.

if my thoughts sound random and incoherent, don't hold back on any form of critique

That will be the day that someone needs to say this on DDO!
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
matt.mcguire88
Posts: 1,137
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6/20/2014 1:32:31 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/18/2014 10:26:26 PM, Vrp92 wrote:
If your on this forum your probably familiar with the idea of the personal God that Christians, Muslims and the Jewish faith worship. This God watches you from birth, is always present in your life, listens to your prayers and wants the best for you. He also expects for you to worship him as payment for his holy supervision. Now my question: is this a good thing? Does this make people self absorbed? Does this make people feel overly special by having personal relationship with a divine being? Is it bad that people expect help from someone they can't prove exists? Is being told at a young age that there is a place infinitely better than planet earth make people not only disregard the magnificence of this planet, but disregard the safety of this planet?

Chinese philosophy, most eloquently put by Buddhism,encourages the annihilation of the ego. They encourage belief that every human is part of a system and that focusing on the self leads to a mindless cycle of craving that cannot be quenched. This mindless craving also damages the community. In terms of Chinese philosophy, do western Gods possibly lead to more suffering?

This is my first post. I was raised Catholic, now Agnostic but with interests in Chinese philosophy (Confucianism, Daoism(Taoism), Buddhism). I'm just looking for some feedback and opinions on these questions.

Personally, I believe that this personal God promoted by western religions can be dangerous. I think it alienates people from other humans because everyone is on their own quest for salvation. I think it can also be dangerous in convincing people they know the answers to things unanswerable. I also think it can lead to people doing stupid things in the name of God (or more aligned with current events: Allah).
Examples: the inquisition, crusades, burning witches, suicide bombers, etc. I don't rule out the fact that western religion can be a good thing and it provides comfort, but I think the cons outweigh the pros.

Any feedback on this topic is much appreciated!

Holy Heavens lol, have you read the scriptures? particularly the NT? It has absolutely nothing to do with pleasing ones self, how did you ever get that idea?
Actually one of a few things that the Buddhist religion shares in common with Christianity... is "annihilation of flesh" or "ego". Here is a link to a forum topic I posted with some direct scriptures relating to ourselves and our relation to others.
http://www.debate.org...
Let me know what you think of the passages I provided.

Also, worship is a misconstrued idea. The first thing people think about when someone mentions worship is some mean scary ogre who demands you bow down before Him lol.
Worship-
The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. Honor, praise, thanksgiving.

These are things that come naturally for a Christian, it's not forced.

Check out Galatians 5
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

And Romans 8
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Vrp92
Posts: 6
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6/30/2014 3:21:33 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Hey, thanks for your replies. It took me a while to get back to this page as I've been busy.

Rob - Your points were really enlightening, and they were really helpful in pointing out some of the faults in my train of thought. I feel that I have unfairly placed the burden of bad Christian faith on the entirety of Christianity.

Matt- You are correct that I completely ignored scripture in my original hypothesis. It's been a couple years since I cracked open the bible and read the new testament. However, I was more or less pointing to the idea of having God as a "helper," in the sense that you can always pray to him in hopes of improving your own personal life. Maybe my educators misinformed me on the meaning of prayer growing up, or maybe I have misconstrued the entire idea of it on my own; but it seems that is what everyone uses it for these days. The passages you provided me with and the article you linked me too were really helpful in re-educating me in some of the more impressive philosophies of the NT (I like Galatians 5:17 in particular).

Thanks for providing me with your thoughts guys, and sorry I don't have a handle on the HTML quoting yet.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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6/30/2014 11:18:11 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
As long as you stay open-minded (like you appear to be now) you will find the answers you are looking for.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.
Vrp92
Posts: 6
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6/30/2014 8:23:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/30/2014 11:18:11 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
As long as you stay open-minded (like you appear to be now) you will find the answers you are looking for.

Sometimes its hard. I consider myself only slightly above average in intellect and dealing with the monotony of daily life in which seperating oneself from feeling like a cog in a machine makes it hard not to be an extremist in either spectrum of ideology. What you said about not being 100% christian, or athiest or not being either really made me think, however. I could partially employ pascal's wager, by following the moral teachings of Jesus without fully recognizing the existence of God While still remaining weary of the inadequacies and fallacies of organized religion. At the same time , i can remain a skeptic and look at the world from the viewpoint that it does not have a creator from time to time. Easier said than done, but the Jesuits at my university would most likely approve. Haha, maybe i should of posted this in the "religion" section.
R0b1Billion
Posts: 3,732
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6/30/2014 9:57:10 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/30/2014 8:23:28 PM, Vrp92 wrote:
At 6/30/2014 11:18:11 AM, R0b1Billion wrote:
As long as you stay open-minded (like you appear to be now) you will find the answers you are looking for.

Sometimes its hard. I consider myself only slightly above average in intellect and dealing with the monotony of daily life in which seperating oneself from feeling like a cog in a machine makes it hard not to be an extremist in either spectrum of ideology. What you said about not being 100% christian, or athiest or not being either really made me think, however. I could partially employ pascal's wager, by following the moral teachings of Jesus without fully recognizing the existence of God While still remaining weary of the inadequacies and fallacies of organized religion. At the same time , i can remain a skeptic and look at the world from the viewpoint that it does not have a creator from time to time. Easier said than done, but the Jesuits at my university would most likely approve. Haha, maybe i should of posted this in the "religion" section.

When it comes to the metaphysics, I don't think anybody really has it right. If we were to suddenly be told what the exact nature of the universe was, I would bet that just about every religion (or lack thereof) would take that answer and fit it into their scheme somehow. I mean, I seriously doubt that we would find that a) there's some being who created the universe and looks after it or b) there's absolutely nothing other than some chemically-derived beings who exist by happenstance and then cease to exist for eternity. Both situations are sort of ridiculous, and if you really think about it, these two opposite answers aren't so much what Christians and atheists believe, they are what Christians and atheists claim the OTHER believes. Religion is intertwined with politics these days, and the rhetoric gets out of control. Suffice to say, I take care not to identify with any political party or any organized religion, because I'll lose good people as allies no matter what choice I make.

If I had to guess what is really out there, responsible for our creation and ready for us after we die, I would say that it doesn't make any sense that we simply live this life once and then cease to exist (YOLO). Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, neither can energy, and everything that has a beginning has an end - and everything that has an end has another beginning. There's no sense in an eternity before and after we die of nothingness, and our spirit must be recycled somehow. Whatever pool of "stuff" our spirit comes from is probably what one would call "God" and we no doubt go there after we die. Since we don't know the nature of this "stuff" we cannot speculate on it, but Pascal's Wager would seem to apply here and to assume that we can be as vicious as we want without worrying about it once we die is pretty risky.
Beliefs in a nutshell:
- The Ends never justify the Means.
- Objectivity is secondary to subjectivity.
- The War on Drugs is the worst policy in the U.S.
- Most people worship technology as a religion.
- Computers will never become sentient.