Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The supernatural and transcendent

Increasingly I wonder if the above categories are even meaningful and coherent

For my followers etc

One of my regulars followers who espouses pandeism would like to get in touch. Friend, you already know me from just message.

I have it suggested to me that some pandeists believe that the divinity created the world, then ceased to exist as a conscious entity, having become the world and presumably operating through unconscious laws and forces of nature, to eventually at the end of time re-coalesce as the universe.

This seems plausible, but if the deity was unconscious and uninvolved and something happened to the sentient creatures in that universe e.g. a supernova, collision with an asteroid, such that life is wiped out, then surely this would upset progress toward the 'omega point' where presumably God 're-animates' to consider all that has come to pass? Surely such a deity, unable to intervene but depending on creation for his purposes would be a hostage to cosmic fortune. Unless you perhaps are also claiming the deity so designed the arrangement of the universe that we are safe from some cosmic catastrophe....we are though getting into the territory here of multiplying entities.

Indeed if God 'reconstitutes' at the end of time in pandeism, can we conclude that this deity so re-constituted then goes on to create another universe, and thereby an endless cycle? 

Features of pandeism are informative, but its apparent strengths are encompassed by a pan-en-deism, properly understood. Because if you really think about it, the schema my pandeist friends has suggested in his comments below, really postulates as deity that has both a transcendent aspect or state of being (at  least temporally as the 'before' and the 'after' the universe) and an entirely immanent aspect or state of being as some kind of unconscious logos spirit within nature.

Pandeism's deity as described by my follower friend, does at least satisfy the rational quest of the ancient Greeks to idenitify the 'arche' first cause, the 'logos' of nature, and it seems the final 'telos' of the universe.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Permission to use theistic notions..

My default naturalism does not change my awareness that the notion of God is in some manner 'meaningful'. To my mind when people refer to God I 'translate' this as a reference to the sense of the infinite, of a 'ground of being', of the 'eternal' and a 'unity' behind creation. I don't use the term 'God' because of the 'baggage' that the idea carries but God as 'Being' rather than as 'a Being' in the sense that the theologian Paul Tillich taught, makes some sense to me. This God is not a providential deity who 'creates' by design and divine fiat. For me God is not a 'personal self' though if a universe that contains selves clearly has a 'conscious dimension' and God is another word for 'ultimate reality' then there is clearly 'person-ness' as an aspect of deity-universe. The person of deity is infact met  in 'the other' - the other person, particularly the other sentient creature.  Also in this sense God is love. Not that God loves, because God is not an individual who loves, but God is love itself. Whereever there is love in the world it seems to me this is 'the presence of God', but there is no God person outside the world who would have to explain why his loving cannot prevent evil befalling the beloved. Thus God for me is a 'transtheistic' notion - the term 'God' is meaningful, but mythical notions of God as a 'person' presiding over the world are rejected by me. Yet God is not 'mere' physical existence, which some forms of pantheism seem to suggest. The conscious may depend on the physical, but the consciousness cannot be 'reduced' to the physical conceptually.

Hello follower

Hi, if you have commented on my blog, please me aware that I am having some difficulty manipulating the software. I was hoping to reply to your comments but for reasons unclear to me, I don't seem to be able to do so. I can post but not it seems reply to your comments directly. If any of you tech heads have a solution to this please let me know next time you comment!

At least one of my followers has defended pandeism by arguing that God became the world in order it seems to experience first hand the conditions of finite existence. I have real difficulty with this concept. Unless God remains distinct from creation how can this God 'experience'. Doesn't experience imply one who has the experience, a subjective sense of self, an observer? Where is God's subjectivity located in the physical cosmos? If the pandeist God creates simply to experience then are you not implying the notion here of a cosmic or world 'soul' or 'mind' albeit one co-extensive with the cosmos? In pandeism God has become the world with no remainder, surley there can be no 'subjective' aspect of God that survives this transition. God as  personal  including as an observer and experiencer has ceased to exist.  Subjectivity seems to be limited to individual brains. I cannot have your experience, you cannot have mine, so the notion of a cosmic experiencer without its own independent mind makes no sense to me.

Even if a pandeist can overcome this hurdle and explain how God continues to experience post creation, I still see little that is emotionally attractive in pandeism. It seems only to allow one to be a pantheist while also believing in an intelligent designer. I think pandeists should seriously consider whether what they really want is in fact pan-en-deism, the term coined by Larry Copling a few years ago. If you take on board process philosophy, you can have a bi-polar deity who's absolute nature could be pure awareness (a kind of cosmic all-seeing eye) while his consequent nature is the cosmos itself. Then it makes sense to say that God is experiencing the world and that it was to have this experience that justified creation.  Pan-en-deism or its close sibling pan-en-theism does not I am sure, actually require in fact that God is 'outside' the cosmos, only distinct from its pure physical aspects.This is not a difficult concept to imagine. My mind appears to be 'inside' my body, not floating above it, so God's mind, the experiencing part of God, can be 'in' creation, interior to it.

I have also found the notion of a cosmic mind attractive in the past, but I still find the problem of evil overwhelmingly prevents me finding any satisfaction is such cold, aloof philosophical deities. A God who could only passively observe but never help or hinder seems hardly worthy of worship and devotion.