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Author Topic:   Spinoza Pantheism Defined
anglagard
Member (Idle past 327 days)
Posts: 2339
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 1 of 96 (378389)
01-20-2007 2:36 PM


There has been a lot of misinformation concerning Pantheism on the forum lately, particularly in regard to attempts to conflate Spinoza Pantheism with various New Age belief systems. Although the primary perpetrator of this misinformation has retracted, I believe it is important to state exactly what Spinoza Pantheism means.
For this reason, I am going to define Spinoza Pantheism as best I understand it and ask other members of this forum if they agree with such a definition. This definition will include what Spinoza Pantheism is, and what it is not. Spinoza is notoriously difficult to quote from in any more than one sentence to convey a complex idea, so I will rely on some commentary as necessary.
First, I would like to define what is meant by God under Spinoza Pantheism, which is more complex than commonly thought, and is a difficult task at best.
God is the essential nature/essence that underlies all of reality observed and unobserved. Therefore God is within all of reality and all reality is a part, albeit a minute part, of God. This is what is meant by the term substance as used by Spinoza. Substance is not merely matter, as commonly understood according to our most popular definition but rather means the underlying essence in this sense of the word.
From Wikipedia at Baruch Spinoza - Wikipedia
quote:
He contended that everything that exists in Nature/Universe is one Reality (substance)and there is only one set of rules governing the whole of the reality which surrounds us and of which we are part. Spinoza argued that God and Nature were two names for the same reality, namely the single substance (meaning "to stand beneath" rather than "matter") that underlies the universe and of which all lesser "entities" are actually modes or modifications, that all things are determined by Nature to exist and cause effects, and that the complex chain of cause and effect are only understood in part. That humans presume themselves to have free will, he argues, is a result of their awareness of appetites while being unable to understand the reasons why they want and act as they do.
To elaborate further, from page 409 of Constantine’s Sword by James Carroll:
quote:
“Nothing exists save the one substance - the self-contained, self-sustaining, and self-explanatory system which constitutes the world.” This is Roger Scruton’s summary of Spinoza”s metaphysics. “This system may be understood in many ways: as God or Nature; as mind or matter; as creator or created; as eternal or temporal. It can be known adequately and clearly through its attributes, partially and confusedly through its modes . All things that exist, exist necessarily, in throroughgoing interdependence.” This is a philosophy of “both-and,” not “either-or” and it has tremendous implications for religion and politics. If God lives in all that is, then a human being may have no great need of the mediating institutions of church or synagogue to be in contact with the divine.
This definition does not mean that everyone is God, or that God is simply the sum of all observable parts of the universe. It also is not equivalent to Deism, which as best I understand implies a God that is separate from creation and which initially creates the universe and then does not personally interfere with its workings.
There are several implications to any religion that considers an impersonal God the underlying essence or ”substance’ of the universe.
Such a belief does not allow for an anthropomorphic image of an all-powerful male God with white skin and flowing beard such as in Michelangelo’s paintings or the concept of Santa Claus. Concepts such as gender, race, even emotion, do not apply to a supreme being that is obviously far greater than a mere projection of the believer. Often, pantheists are accused of atheism because the definition of religion, among both the majority of believers and atheists, demands an anthropomorphic deity. This is a clear misrepresentation of not only Pantheism, but also Taoism and Buddhism.
God is impersonal and therefore not the source of good and evil as is commonly understood in Western religion. Good and evil are subjective terms that are real only in relation to the observer. Therefore there is no such thing as an absolute morality. To illustrate this Spinoza states:
quote:
“Music is good to the melancholy, bad to those who mourn, and neither good nor bad to the deaf”
Spinoza Pantheism is deterministic, which means that even God did not have free will in creating the universe, rather the creation is a necessary action of God by definition. It also means the individual does not have free will but only the illusion of choice.
The business of free-will vs. determinism is one of the few areas where I am not in complete agreement with Spinoza. However, Spinoza was obviously unaware of quantum mechanics and while he may have been wrong in this particular case under each and every scenario, I do believe that most of what we call free-will is an illusion.
Because all people are in essence, a part of God, all people are equal. As mentioned before, such a belief has political significance.
From page 102 of the Courtier and the Heretic by Matthew Stewart
quote:
Spinoza’s advocacy of democracy on the basis of individual rights was extraordinarily bold for its time, and it qualifies him as the first modern political philosopher. He was indisputably the forerunner of the theorists who would later underwrite the Constitution of the United States, the French Revolution, and the rest of the secular, liberal, and democratic order of the day,
Spinoza was the first person to my knowledge to criticize the common interpretation of the Bible and actually die of something other than at a burning stake. He insisted that one must think when reading the Bible and not simply act as a fundamentalist dullard who shuts off their mind to all but the authority of temporal rulers.
From Chapter VII of the Theological-Political Treatise by Spinoza himself:
quote:
When people declare, as all are ready, to do, that the Bible is the Word of God teaching man true blessedness and the way of salvation, they evidently do not mean what they say; for the masses take no pains at all to live according to Scripture, and we see most people endeavouring to hawk about their own commentaries as the word of God, and giving their best efforts, under the guise of religion, to compelling others to think as they do: we generally see, I say, theologians anxious to learn how to wring their inventions and sayings out of the sacred text, and to fortify, them with Divine authority. Such persons never display less scruple or more zeal than when they are interpreting Scripture or the mind of the Holy Ghost; if we ever see them perturbed, it is not that they fear to attribute some error to the Holy Spirit, and to stray from the right path, but that they are afraid to be convicted of error by others, and thus to overthrow and bring into contempt their own authority. But if men really believed what they verbally testify of Scripture, they would adopt quite a different plan of life: their minds would not be agitated by so many contentions, nor so many hatreds, and they would cease to be excited by such a blind and rash passion for interpreting the sacred writings, and excogitating novelties in religion. On the contrary, they would not dare to adopt, as the teaching of Scripture, anything which they could not plainly deduce therefrom: lastly, those sacrilegious persons who have dared, in several passages, to interpolate the Bible, would have shrunk from so great a crime, and would have stayed their sacrilegious hands.
And further on:
quote:
The history of a Scriptural statement comprises -
I. The nature and properties of the language in which the books of the Bible were written, and in which their authors were accustomed to speak. We shall thus be able to investigate every expression by comparison with common conversational usages.
Now all the writers both of the Old Testament and the New were Hebrews: therefore, a knowledge of the Hebrew language is before all things necessary, not only for the comprehension of the Old Testament, which was written in that tongue, but also of the New: for although the latter was published in other languages, yet its characteristics are Hebrew.
II. An analysis of each book and arrangement of its contents under heads; so that we may have at hand the various texts which treat of a given subject. Lastly, a note of all the passages which are ambiguous or obscure, or which seem mutually contradictory.
I call passages clear or obscure according as their meaning is inferred easily or with difficulty in relation to the context, not according as their truth is perceived easily or the reverse by reason. We are at work not on the truth of passages, but solely on their meaning. We must take especial care, when we are in search of the meaning of a text, not to be led away by our reason in so far as it is founded on principles of natural knowledge (to say nothing of prejudices): in order not to confound the meaning of a passage with its truth, we must examine it solely by means of the signification of the words, or by a reason acknowledging no foundation but Scripture.
I will illustrate my meaning by an example. The words of Moses, "God is a fire" and "God is jealous," are perfectly clear so long as we regard merely the signification of the words, and I therefore reckon them among the clear passages, though in relation to reason and truth they are most obscure: still, although the literal meaning is repugnant to the natural light of reason, nevertheless, if it cannot be clearly overruled on grounds and principles derived from its Scriptural "history," it, that is, the literal meaning, must be the one retained: and contrariwise if these passages literally interpreted are found to clash with principles derived from Scripture, though such literal interpretation were in absolute harmony with reason, they must be interpreted in a different manner, i.e. metaphorically.
How many self described Christians refuse to understand the above 350 years later.
While Spinoza strove to understand the Bible, his conclusions concerning religion are not normally associated with Christianity. He held God is worshiped best by using one’s intelligence to understand God, which is basically equivalent to understanding nature. Therefore, of all religions, Spinoza Pantheism holds science in the greatest respect because the act of doing science is holy. To put it simply God is best revealed through the study of the works of God (nature) rather than the words of men (Bible, Quran, etc.).
Spinoza also holds that there is no personal immortality but rather only the impersonal immortality of the truth. The more truth on holds, the more knowledge of nature, the more parts of that person are immortal.
To learn more about Spinoza Pantheism (and there is much, much more), I find one of the best concise sources is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy at Baruch Spinoza (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) .
Here is a quote from that source to help whet your appetite:
quote:
What, in the end, replaces the passionate love for ephemeral "goods" is an intellectual love for an eternal, immutable good that we can fully and stably possess, God. The third kind of knowledge generates a love for its object, and in this love consists not joy, a passion, but blessedness itself. Taking his cue from Maimonides's view of human eudaimonia, Spinoza argues that the mind's intellectual love of God is our understanding of the universe, our virtue, our happiness, our well-being and our "salvation". It is also our freedom and autonomy, as we approach the condition wherein what happens to us follows from our nature (as a determinate and determined mode of one of God's attributes) alone and not as a result of the ways external things affect us. Spinoza's "free person" is one who bears the gifts and losses of fortune with equanimity, does only those things that he believes to be "the most important in life", takes care for the well-being of others (doing what he can to insure that they, too, achieve some relief from the disturbances of the passions through understanding), and is not anxious about death. The free person neither hopes for any eternal, otherworldly rewards nor fears any eternal punishments. He knows that the soul is not immortal in any personal sense, but is endowed only with a certain kind of eternity. The more the mind consists of true and adequate ideas (which are eternal), the more of it remains ” within God's attribute of Thought ” after the death of the body and the disappearance of that part of the mind that corresponds to the body's duration. This understanding of his place in the natural scheme of things brings to the free individual true peace of mind.
Of course all of Spinoza’s works are directly available full text online so one can learn what he was talking about from the source if one so chooses.
I find it interesting that Spinoza through intense study of the Bible and Judaism independently came to similar conclusions concerning the nature of God and reality as Lao Tse and Taoism did some 2000 years earlier.
To emphasize why Spinoza is relevant today, please allow me to provide some fulfilled prophecy from his pen.
From The Courtier and the Heretic, page 181:
quote:
Because he rose so high above history in some sense, too, Spinoza foresaw its general direction with an often uncanny prescience. He described a secular, liberal, democratic order a full century before the world provided any durable examples of the same. Two centuries before Darwin proposed a theory to explain how the grand design of nature evolves through natural processes, without need of a designer, he effectively announced that such an explanation was inevitable. In an age where the brain was generally thought to be about as complex as a bowl of custard, he anticipated insights from the neurosciences that would be three centuries in coming. The world he describes is in many ways the modern one within which we live.
It is for these reasons I consider Spinoza the true prophet of God in a similar manner in which one considers Mohammed the true prophet of God in Islam. Therefore I consider my belief a religion.
What I seek to debate includes the question is the above a reasonable definition of Spinoza Pantheism and if so, do these beliefs qualify as a religion as opposed to a clever form of atheism?
Faith and Belief I would think.

Replies to this message:
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 Message 33 by anastasia, posted 01-23-2007 8:36 PM anglagard has replied
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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 96 (378390)
01-20-2007 2:41 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5339 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 3 of 96 (378506)
01-20-2007 11:56 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by anglagard
01-20-2007 2:36 PM


'either'-or vs 'both-and'
This is a philosophy of “both-and,” not “either-or” and it has tremendous implications for religion and politics. If God lives in all that is, then a human being may have no great need of the mediating institutions of church or synagogue to be in contact with the divine.
Hi anglagard. I want to thank you for accurately beggining the post by stating the confusion that resulted by my ignorance in another thread. And for stating that I did retract and specify the differences as I became aware of them.
I don't have a problem with your definition of Spinoza pantheism. It is prttey much a product of the same system (as I understand it) found in the East (Hinduism).
What I wanted to address is the both-and argument. This is the inclusive element that does have a connection to the points I was making in the other thread minus the egotheism.
I would like to share a debate between Ravi Zacharius and an unnamed American professor of Hinduism. It makes the point as well as I could make in my own words.
It is a paraphrase from memory. I have almost memorized it entirely and is found on A CD Lecture called, 'Secularism and the illusion of nuetrality'. It is available at the following link:
http://shop2.gospelcom.net/.../Display
Ravi relates the story:
'This is the best illustration I can give. Because the truth of the matter is, it has lingered with me for years, and makes the case in the strongest possible terms.
When you're talking about absolutes, you must realize that an absolute is that unchanging point of reference; particualrly in the moral realm, by which we must govern ourselves. And we see that so clearly affirmed.
I remember years a ago, speaking in California. And at the end of one of my talks, a professor came to me and he said, 'Now tell me again, you're from India?'
I said, 'Yes.'
He said, 'You are a Christian?'
"Yes."
"What was your ancestry?"
"Orthodox Hindu, from the highest Caste of the Hindu priesthood. We were 'Nambuderies' (note: I have no Idea how that is properly spelled) in southern India"
"And you are a Christian? That astounds me. I am an American, I was raised here. But I have converted to pantheism."
"You have?"
"Yes." Said the proffesor. 'I want to place a challenge before you. One of these nights here, if you speak on why you are not a pantheist in the stripe inwhich you were born in that culture, I will bring my whole class in philosophy to hear you. And we will tear you apart when you are finished."
"Is that supposed to be an invitation to which I say Wow?"
"Yes, because I am astounded. I cannot believe you actually began to believe all this stuff."
'Look we can discuss this, but I'm not sure that is the way to do it.'
He said, "I dare you! I'll bring my whole class, and we'll just tear you to shreds."
"Look sir, I'll make a deal. In India we always bargain. I will speak on why I am a Christian and you can bring your whole class in philosophy, and I'll be ready game. They can stand there with predatorial glee. I will be happy to answer their questions."
The professor said, "I don't like it, but that's halfway. Alright!"
"So while I was speaking on why I am a Christian, i was dealing with the laws of logic. Because in the pantheistic worldview, the problem is that popular pantheism is contradictory at it's core; contradictory at it's core... It's systemic! The system in popular pantheism is contradictory."
"And I gave illustration after illustration. I dealt with the issue of the law of non-contradiction. And at the end of it, this proffessor came to me and he said, 'You know what? You have made the biggest mess of logic that I have ever heard any man making. I cannot believe the things you've said.'"
"You want to challenge it?"
"Yes!"
"I'll make another deal with you. This is not the place to slug it out. Let's go to lunch. You pay... and I'll pray, and we'll discuss it."
"Can I bring the proffesor of psychology?"
"to this day I don't know why he wanted that. If he wanted us to be studied or what?' I said, 'No problem supposing it is me and you. I'm not there to impress him."
He said, "No, I want him there as a witness.'
I said, "alright! So we met for lunch. This man used up all of the placemats at our table, giving me an introductory lesson in logic. His opening line was this, 'There are two kinds of logic'. that in itself was worng. but why stop him so soon."
He said, "One is the law of non-contradiction... The 'either-or' set of propositions; either this, or that."
(The illustration I often give is, if my wife and i were walking and you say, 'Hi Margie, I here you're expecting a baby?' And if she says 'yes', and I say 'no', what are you going to do? You will never say thank you for the answer. You will be puzzeled. If you don't believe that the law of non-contradiction applies to reality, try talking to an immigration officer while coming into the country...
"Where were you born?"
"Canada, I mean India, I mean America!"
)
So the professor said to me, 'It is the either or set of propositions.' And He said, 'Mr. Zacharius, when you are using this 'either-or' kind of logic, you are thinking as a westerner thinks. Your problem when you studied pantheism, is that you studied it as a westerner.'
I said, 'But I was in India'.
He said, 'That's all right! Somehow your mind was clouded out by this Western way of thinking.'
I said, 'No... it's not Western.'
He said, "Yes it is!'
I said, 'All right, next point.' (I knew where he was going).
He said, 'There is a second kind of logic called the 'both-and' kind of logic. It is not 'either this' or 'that', it is 'both' this 'and' that. You see? When you were studying these pantheistic worldviews, everytime you came across a contradiction, you were thinking as a westerner so you rejected it. You should have thought of it like an Easterner. If you thought of it as an Easterner there is no problem with contradiction."
'That is an Eastern way of thining', He said.
I said, 'No it is not.'
He said, "Yes it is!'
I said, "Alright!"
He said, 'What i'm telling you my friend, is that when you studied these worldviews, your starting point is flawed. You should not be studying it as a Westerner with the 'either-or' way of thinking. You should be studying it as an Easterner with the 'both-and' way of thinking, and then it's ok'
I said, "Allright! I have one question...
...Are you telling me... that when I study these worldviews of the East... I either use the 'both-and' kind of logic or nothing else?... Is that right?"
Ladies and gentleman, it was one of those moments I wish I had a camera. He looked at me with his knife and fork half raised... put them down... and this is what he said, 'the 'either-or' does seem to emerge doesn't it?'
I said, "Not only does it emerge, but let me give you some shocking news... even in India, we look both ways before crossing the street. It is either the bus, or me. Not both of us!"
The proffessor of psychology looked at him and said, "I think this discussion is over."
You know, he was half right. Popular pantheism is willing to live with contradiction. But he was half wrong... the premere thinkers of pantheism like Shankara and Gotama Buddha, believed in the law of no-contradiction. Shankara debated his oponents. Gotama Buddha debated his opponents, and he told his followers to test the truth claims of anyone laying claim to truth.
Now do you see what is happening here? When pluralism says that no worldview is dominant, there is a loss of reason, and our thinking becomes nonsensical.
The law of non-contradiction is not Western or Eastern. it is that which reflects reality.'
Edited by Rob, : additional quotes from lecture.
Edited by Admin, : Shorten link.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by anglagard, posted 01-20-2007 2:36 PM anglagard has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by anglagard, posted 01-21-2007 3:57 PM Rob has replied
 Message 59 by RAZD, posted 01-25-2007 8:42 PM Rob has replied

  
anglagard
Member (Idle past 327 days)
Posts: 2339
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 4 of 96 (378724)
01-21-2007 3:57 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Rob
01-20-2007 11:56 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
What I wanted to address is the both-and argument. This is the inclusive element that does have a connection to the points I was making in the other thread minus the egotheism.
I am unclear about what you mean by the argument of either-or vs. both-and.
For example, it is clear in modern psychology that the mind-body dichotomy is false. The mind requires the body and the body requires the mind in order for both to exist. One could say that the mind and the body are different attributes of the same being. Therefore the individual is both-and body and mind rather than either-or body or mind.
How does: "Not only does it emerge, but let me give you some shocking news... even in India, we look both ways before crossing the street. It is either the bus, or me. Not both of us!" refute the concept of body-mind interdependence?
For that matter how does the parable of the bus refute all examples of the concept of interdependence?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Rob, posted 01-20-2007 11:56 PM Rob has replied

Replies to this message:
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Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5339 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 5 of 96 (378734)
01-21-2007 4:15 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by anglagard
01-21-2007 3:57 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
I don't know Anglagard... prabably because there is a third element.
We're not just body and soul (mind/emotions). We are also Spirit. We are triune like our creator. We were created in His image.
The three components balance each other. I have to go...

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anastasia
Member (Idle past 5443 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 6 of 96 (378742)
01-21-2007 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by anglagard
01-21-2007 3:57 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
anglagard writes:
For example, it is clear in modern psychology that the mind-body dichotomy is false. The mind requires the body and the body requires the mind in order for both to exist. One could say that the mind and the body are different attributes of the same being. Therefore the individual is both-and body and mind rather than either-or body or mind.
This is not a preaching mission, but that is pretty close to how I have come to understand the Trinity. Add in the third element of actions flowing from the body and mind, and you have the Holy Spirit.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by anglagard, posted 01-21-2007 3:57 PM anglagard has replied

Replies to this message:
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anglagard
Member (Idle past 327 days)
Posts: 2339
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 7 of 96 (378745)
01-21-2007 4:35 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by anastasia
01-21-2007 4:29 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
Anastasia writes:
This is not a preaching mission, but that is pretty close to how I have come to understand the Trinity. Add in the third element of actions flowing from the body and mind, and you have the Holy Spirit.
Evidently, when one considers the Trinity, Christianity has it's own element of both-and as opposed to either-or.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by anastasia, posted 01-21-2007 4:29 PM anastasia has replied

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anastasia
Member (Idle past 5443 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 8 of 96 (378762)
01-21-2007 5:39 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by anglagard
01-21-2007 4:35 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
anglagard writes:
Evidently, when one considers the Trinity, Christianity has it's own element of both-and as opposed to either-or.
Yes, in the case of the Trinity, either-or = heresy.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by anglagard, posted 01-21-2007 4:35 PM anglagard has not replied

  
Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3088 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 9 of 96 (378772)
01-21-2007 6:02 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by anglagard
01-21-2007 4:35 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
Religious teaching relies on both-and no matter where one looks. Paradox is its native language.
Logic says either-or. It doesn't recognize paradox. It sees contradictions. But what do we encounter in great religions?
Motion yet stillness. Stillness yet movement. I am in you. You are in me. God yet human. Human yet god. Three yet one. One yet three. Eternal yet mortal. Mortal yet eternal. Happiness when grieving. Wealth in poverty. Wisdom in ignorance. Strength in weakness. Action in non-action.
Both-and recognizes something characteristic about how we describe the indescribable. We employ symbols more than logic. Symbols are both-and.
___

Archer
All species are transitional.

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anastasia
Member (Idle past 5443 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 10 of 96 (378773)
01-21-2007 6:12 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Archer Opteryx
01-21-2007 6:02 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
Archer Opterix writes:
Symbols are both-and.
Just like the majority of the stories in the Bible. They are both literal event (changing water to wine) and symbolic meaning (replacing new law for old).

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Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5339 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 11 of 96 (379125)
01-23-2007 12:29 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by anglagard
01-21-2007 4:35 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
Evidently, when one considers the Trinity, Christianity has it's own element of both-and as opposed to either-or.
In a sense you are correct. That's why pantheism is so close, and such a good copy. But it's not the same thing...
I mean maybe Christianity is false and pantheism is true, but they both cannot be right. Somebody has to let go... And that's an important point. And that's what Jesus said, 'He who tries to keep his life will lose it. He that loses his life for my sake will find it.' Basic and fundamental coherent logic.
The major distinction is that pantheism is full of contradictions, and the Trinity is harmonious intellectually. The contradictions in panthesim occur in trying to deal with the problem of evil. The moral dilemmas become so difficult that in Buddhism for example, we are told there is no essential 'you'... 'you' don't exist. Therefore your sin does not exist. It is only an illusion. But saying I don't exist is itself unaffirmable and illogical (a contradiction). Things that don't exist don't say anything...
And there is another difference between Monistic pantheism and the Trinity (not sure if spinoza was a monist...). Monism says that all is God. One reality!
In the trinity there is an I and a You. There is distinction, but with harmony in the godhead. The counterpart of evil is a work of a created being attempting to surpass God without the wisdom to find the way.
So Christianity does not try to keep us down. It Jesus says, "I will give you everything... just let me lead you on the tour. Be patient, you have all eternity to learn about everything. Trust me."
It's very difficult conceptually to pin down the difference between pantheism and theism for most people. I really have to concentrate to distinguish between the two myself. It is astonishing theology! Let me try to expound on it...
God is good. There is community and harmony within the trinity. Both unity and diversity. Not both good and evil, because there is nothing inherently evil about knowledge. Just like there is nothing inherently evil about sexuality. You should read the sizzling and erotic song of Solomon! Sex was meant to be heavenly and sacred. It is only when knowledge is used incorrectly that it becomes wrong. There are some doors we don't want to open. Even homosexuals today draw the line somewhere. But the point is, we are not qualified to draw that line. Not even for ourselves. That would be an imposition! And we were not created for 'ourselves', but for community. (sorry for the tangent)
Evil enters the picture not so much as knowledge, but potential knowledge that is not harmonious to community. It is the result of a created being, attemting to question what is already known to be good and experiment for himself... play God.
And in a sense, it would seem like maybe there is another way. It does appear restrictive to say we can't go there. Why not?
My kids are learning the hard way. How can they know the stove is hot when they have not experienced hot. But I have experienced hot. If they get hot enough, they'll perish, so I have to protect them. If I didn't, I'd be a wretched father. And they don't always like it trust me. I think we're just the same but with a major difference... We know from experience what is good and bad, but God knows because He can see it all in his own mind.
You see, God is omniscient. So although He posesse the knowledge of good and evil, He has never violated His own goodness. He was able to think it all through from His position. And do so instantly, because He is also omnipotent. In a sense he had all of eternity to figure it out, but I don't think that eternity takes anytime at all. it's a wholly different nature. I reccomend reading C.S. Lewis on the concepts of time. Even if you are not a Christian, it is mind food. Any real thinker loves the headtrip of time.
So He can forsee the consequences to the material universe if a road is allowed to fork off the wrong course without having gone there. So it is only out of goodness, that he does not allow us to live forever in our present state of ignorance. Imagine a world where Hitler was allowed to eat of the tree of life and live forever!
The whole point of Christianity, is that if we will lay down our insistance on figuring it all out ourselves, God will simply give us all knowledge and eternal life for free! But we will get the pleasure of learning it one layer at a time without end! Kind of makes me glad I'm not God. I think I would be bored, though I don't think it's true for Him. It's no wonder he created us. He needed to share the glory of Himself and His reality not because He needed us, but because He is good, and it is good to share. It is just His nature to do good things.
The only cost is complete surrender. Jesus asked, 'What will you give in exchange for your soul?'
It's seems sick to some, but the Bible says we are bought and paid for, we only have to agree. Paid for with blood.
That's the good news! It's not about belief, it's about actually meeting God.
It's about selling your soul to God and Him possesing you spiritually. Yep, like selling your soul to the devil with one big difference... the devil already owns us. And that is hard for so many to accept. But that's the Matrix...
If my failures and utter 'Robness' are any indication, there is still an I and a you. I am not a puppet on a string. It's like having a Father again. I'm in training. Learning things I never imagined were possible to know. And I see that most still don't believe it is possible to know.
It is like your subconscious becomes conscious. You can see with your whole brain for the first time. I probably should have stopped a paragraph ago, but I would endure almost anything if I could find a way to get the message through.
It's not a religion, it is the reality you seek! It is the truth. It is standing outside the matrix. But you have to give up the juicy red steak and admit it is an illusion. You weren't created for steak. You were created for much more...
Don't just believe me. I'm not asking for that... just think about sometime if you haven't already.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by anglagard, posted 01-21-2007 4:35 PM anglagard has not replied

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5339 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 12 of 96 (379127)
01-23-2007 12:34 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Archer Opteryx
01-21-2007 6:02 PM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
Religious teaching relies on both-and no matter where one looks. Paradox is its native language.
Logic says either-or. It doesn't recognize paradox. It sees contradictions. But what do we encounter in great religions?
A contradiction is not a paradox... non sequitor
Websters-
Contradiction 1: to assert the contrary of (eg. 'There is no truth')
Paradox 1: a statement that seems contrary to comon sense, and yet is perhaps true (eg. God is three persons in one harmonius being, just as Archer is three persons in one being that are in conflict with himself)
Theology 2: a theory or system of theology
Pantheism is a contradiction. It breaks down as a system.
Christianity is a paradox. Logic (Websters 2: sound reasoning) can accomodate a appearent paradox, it's called t-h-e-o-l-o-g-y.
Have you never once in your life read Lewis. It's not even hard...
Edited by Rob, : No reason given.
Edited by Rob, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Archer Opteryx, posted 01-21-2007 6:02 PM Archer Opteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by kuresu, posted 01-23-2007 12:47 AM Rob has replied
 Message 15 by Archer Opteryx, posted 01-23-2007 1:26 AM Rob has replied

  
kuresu
Member (Idle past 2003 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 13 of 96 (379128)
01-23-2007 12:47 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Rob
01-23-2007 12:34 AM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
oh, you mean that thing that these religious scholars debate and decide upon, so they can justify bigotry and contradictions?
face it, the trinity is contradictory. He's the Father, the Son, and the dead dude all at the same time? And you want to tell me that that is intellectually harmonious? com'on. My Dad is not me, and I am not him. Really simple logic. To declare that I am my dad and he is me is to be irrational. illogical.
Jesus being both human and divine is contradictory. as they say, you can't have it both ways. you try to, you lose it.
religion depends on contradictions.
(oh, and just because you don't find other answers to morality convincing does not make them wrong. ever read a map? there are many ways, sometimes infinite ways to get from A to B.)

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This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Rob, posted 01-23-2007 12:34 AM Rob has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Rob, posted 01-23-2007 1:18 AM kuresu has replied

  
Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 5339 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 14 of 96 (379134)
01-23-2007 1:18 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by kuresu
01-23-2007 12:47 AM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
face it, the trinity is contradictory. He's the Father, the Son, and the dead dude all at the same time? And you want to tell me that that is intellectually harmonious? com'on. My Dad is not me, and I am not him. Really simple logic. To declare that I am my dad and he is me is to be irrational. illogical.
uh... yeah... ok.... duh... you got me... i'm so stupid...
It's more like a cube... punk!
It has three dimensions, but is one unit.
It's like you... Psychologists call it an ego, the unconscious mind. But you also have a conscious mind.
In Christianity we find something different. Body, soul, and spirit.
Think of it like this... you're arguing with yourself internally. Weighing a decision. You got the angel on one side with cute little wings, and a little red devil with a pitch fork on the other like in the cartoons you watch when your not getting high and strumming a few bent chords on your gourd.
Which one is you? The angel, the devil, or the guy in the middle?
They're all you! And you are opposed to yourself...
That is why you can make absolute statements (saying that absolutes do not exist), in clear (seeing /visual) violation of the definition of contradiction as given to Archer two posts ago from Websters. And you don't even realize it because...
never mind...
The point is my little friend... God is Whole. He can think with his whole brain. All three branches of the tree are coming from the same root. He does not oppose Himself. He is in harmony. He is consistent. He is unchanging. He is absolute. He is eternal. And He invites you to be holy (whole) also.
It's free (sorta)!
Edited by Rob, : No reason given.
Edited by Rob, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by kuresu, posted 01-23-2007 12:47 AM kuresu has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by kuresu, posted 01-23-2007 10:46 AM Rob has replied

  
Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3088 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 15 of 96 (379137)
01-23-2007 1:26 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Rob
01-23-2007 12:34 AM


Re: 'either'-or vs 'both-and'
Rob:
Websters-
Contradiction 1: to assert the contrary of (eg. 'There is no truth')
Paradox 1: a statement that seems contrary to comon sense, and yet is perhaps true
Thank you for illustrating my point.
What appears as contradiction to reason ('common sense') can still be true, as you acknowledge.
It is in this fertile ground, beyond the playing field of strict logic, where paradox and other symbolic forms of communication convey truth by other means.
Have you never once in your life read Lewis
I'm well acquainted with Clive Staples. A cultured scholar. An avid reader of world literature that excelled his own literary output. A student of metaphorical as well as logical modes of thought. A devout Anglican, baptized as an infant. A solid supporter of science, including evolutionary theory. A caring provider for divorcée Joy Davidman and her children. A bereaved lover who was honest and raw in his grief.
A good man. You do well to admire him.
___
Edited by Archer Opterix, : HTML.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : typo.

Archer
All species are transitional.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Rob, posted 01-23-2007 12:34 AM Rob has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Rob, posted 01-23-2007 1:52 AM Archer Opteryx has replied
 Message 22 by Rob, posted 01-23-2007 10:09 AM Archer Opteryx has not replied

  
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