Matt wrote:Please don't discount Barth's points. If God is "wholly other," how can finite people possibly begin to know Him unless He chooses to make himself known?
Having owned a horse, I disagree. My horse knew me on a level meaningful to him. He recognized me and responded to me in a way that he didn't with other people.JustJim wrote:
That's the point of my "God is not a horse" signature line. God is so "wholly other" that there's no way we can know God without being God ourselves, any more than a horse can "know" us without becoming human. And neither of those things is possible.
Matt wrote:Okay, I understand the horse tag now, thanks for that.
I think the Deist god is impossible to know in the way you describe. First, there is the assumption that the world is as it ought to be. This is a huge assumption. Take the Holocaust, for example. What does this teach us about God? Or entropy--what does that teach us about God? Is there an appropriate method for discerning what our observations teach us about God? I might look at a flower and say, "God is a god of beauty." Someone else might look at cancer and say, 'God is a god of destruction." How do we discern what nature teaches us about God?
I think your form of Deism would reduce you to Manichaeism or Gnosticism. There would have to be both an evil and good god, a beautiful and ugly god, a true and false god, etc. Either that, or you would have to pick and choose what you want to believe about God, arbitrarily judging this to be "of God" and that to be "not of God." Essentially, you would be creating God in your own image, like you said.
Christians have a tool for discerning God from creation--the Incarnation. God is not a horse, but He is Jesus. Christians also believe that the world is not as it ought to be. Thus cancer doesn't teach us what God is, it teaches us about creation in rebellion to its Creator.
Mr. Sluagh wrote:You could come up with any number of internally consistent speculations by drawing on any number of sources. If it's possible to interpret the universe in the way that you do, and especially if that interpretation made some sense, then it would just as possible for someone to invent it whole cloth as for them to come up with Manichaeism or Gnosticism (or polytheism or pantheism or misotheism or Scientology or what have you). Thus, since divinity is entirely in the realm of speculation, the concept is broad to the point of uselessness. It means so many things that it means nothing.
Matt wrote:Mr. Sluagh wrote:You could come up with any number of internally consistent speculations by drawing on any number of sources. If it's possible to interpret the universe in the way that you do, and especially if that interpretation made some sense, then it would just as possible for someone to invent it whole cloth as for them to come up with Manichaeism or Gnosticism (or polytheism or pantheism or misotheism or Scientology or what have you). Thus, since divinity is entirely in the realm of speculation, the concept is broad to the point of uselessness. It means so many things that it means nothing.
Spot on, Mr. Sluagh.
This is why the litmus test for the "truth" of any religion is not internal consistency, but coherence to reality.
People can and do invent religions. There are thousands to choose from, and many of them are consistent. How do we know which one (if any) are right?
Like you said, in order for a religion to be meaningful, that religion's god has to at least occasionally intervene in history. Otherwise the religion is speculative and meaningless. The religions' deities are validated or invalidated as their gods act or fail to act in history. The extent to which a religion coheres to reality is the extent to which that religion is "true." This is what was going on when the ancients set their deities up in competition to each other. (Think Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Whichever god could bring down fire was the "true" god.) Marduk, the god of Babylon swore to protect Babylon. When the Persians conquered Babylon and wiped the Babylonians off of the map, it pretty much proved that Marduk is not the "true" god--He wasn't able to live up to his claims.
When it comes to Christianity, how do we know whether or not YHWH is the true God? We know by whether or not He is able to do what He says He can do in history. He made a good case for himself by raising Jesus from the dead, but it will not be until He brings history to consummation that we will know for sure that YHWH is God.
(This is the case for God presented by Wolfhart Pannenberg in Systematic Theology. I highly recommend it.)
Mr. Sluagh wrote:Are you referring to any "history" outside of the Bible? Because some would make similar arguments about divine providence in history using the explosive early expansion and prosperity of the Muslim caliphate, which is much better documented than any of the Bible stories you mentioned.
Mr. Sluagh wrote:(See also: "Manifest Destiny".)
Mr. Sluagh wrote:The problem with this reasoning is that you have to determine what God wants before you go looking for His hand in history because the criteria "the hand of God in history" is essentially "an inexplicable event that conforms to God's will". And even if you could find significant historical validity in the miracles you mentioned (which I don't think you can, but that's a slightly different argument), you'd still have to determine that God was telling the truth.
Matt wrote:What if YHVH is simply an ambitious tribal deity who subdued and conquered the other gods, rallying his mortal troops by succeeding where his enemies failed?
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