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The Forum - Debate Religion > Does God know the future EXACTLY?

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message 1: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle I've been looking into this for a while now. Lets see what you all think:

I've been told my whole life that God knows the ENTIRE future. Hmmmmm?

I'm not so sure. But not in a heretical way - i'm just trying to be very honest with the words of scripture. Many throw out certain futuristic terms and make loud meaningful pronouncements based on their assumed understandings. ME - I need proof from scripture.

Does God know the end? In many many ways obviously YES! He directs it, plans it, has angels working on it, puts everything into place, even sends visions of it. Know the beginning and the end: yes indeed.

But I'm not so sure He's been there. There are many verses that discuss this issue - but as i've been reading them it appears they may be have been abused. (like those people who read the charismatic verses in the New Testament and assume this is a stamp of approval on all things emotionally silly. Read those verses again...)


message 2: by Rod (last edited Apr 29, 2015 08:44PM) (new)

Rod Horncastle Revelation 1:8
"I am the Alpha and the Omega--the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come--the Almighty One."

Great verse - doesn't say God has been to the end. Indeed He WILL be the beginning and the end of all creation.

And some things humans do still seem to surprise God.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 30, 2015 11:16AM) (new)

Answering this question requires understanding eternity, a medium in which the exact status of time is unknown to us.

Though I'm sure we wouldn't feel right about presuming God lacks any imaginable power, we don't know for sure if God can know the end of all 'things' without predetermining it. As with all the major existential or 'superexistential' questions that go outside the parameter of linear time, we are stuck for an adequate answer.

I like to speculate that we created beings, arising as we do from the substance of God (via the medium of energy, inclusive of matter) and not having any other possible origin, are delegated to some extent to co-create the creation. If you ask 'why are we here?' that is the answer. Co-creation only really becomes a responsibility when we have the free will that can stimulate or not stimulate any given outcome. Still, God's fingers of creation extend numbly through us as we apply our own disposition to what comes out. My feeling about this - which feels to me like one of those gifts of knowledge - is that we have our little bit of freedom to weave within the cat's-cradle of eternity - any mistakes we make in terms of love (sins, that is) are not directly motivated by God's agency keeping us all in strict bondage to the plotlines of his overall celestial novel.

It's a great honour for us. We should strive to acquit ourselves well.

In the end, we'll see where all paradoxes of eternity find enough dimensions to cohere amongst each other in God's realm.


message 4: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle Thanks Mark.

I was curious if people had some Bible verses or accounts that push this in a specific direction.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

The verse for my side-step of your question is "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

How much of this darkened vision we can perfect by angling scripture verses towards the light, I don't know.

Fun to see, though.


message 6: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle It is fun Mark.
Apparently only you and I are giving it any thought. We'll see who else pipes in.


message 7: by Jake (new)

Jake Yaniak | 151 comments The short answer (which is all I have time for at the moment, unfortunately) in my view is that time is something we only see when we are looking through a glass, darkly. It has no meaning to God. He IS the God of Abraham - and he is not the God of the dead.

Memory is a present perception, and the substance of the future is expectation (also present). Together these things give rise to the idea of time. But that is just what it is - an Idea. To God, whose knowledge is not limited to a body, I think maybe it is all one and the same.


message 8: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments Hundreds of prohecies suggest the answer is yes. It would never occur to me to believe otherwise. I venture that Peter would agree.


message 9: by Jana (new)

Jana Light It seems to me that, as Mark suggested, this is an issue of determinism - how much of our actions are already set, or could we predict if we had perfect knowledge (which God is presumed to have)? Relatedly, how do we define what it means to be "free" if God already knows everything that we are going to do? Admittedly, at the moment I am looking at this issue from a philosophical rather than Biblical view, so I'm not much help in offering Bible verses. I personally don't know how I feel about committing to either point of view, because each comes at the relative cost of something else vital - God's perfect knowledge of the future -> free will is compromised; our free will to create an unknown future -> God's knowledge is diminished. Unless, of course, we say that future things are not yet real and thus cannot be known, then God's perfect knowledge would not be tarnished by Him not knowing the future perfectly. But this just opens us up to the discussion of how God exists in time, and now I've opened another can of worms and the worms are everywhere.


message 10: by Ned (last edited May 01, 2015 06:07PM) (new)

Ned | 206 comments I disagree that the issue is one of determinism. Foreknowledge does not equal foreordination or, more simply, to see something happen is not equivalent to making something happen. I have no doubt that God knows the next winning powerball number. That doesn't mean he makes it happen. We make choices. God knows what those choices will be. I don't see a conflict.

On the other hand, a purely materialistic universe demands determinism as the only logical outcome.


message 11: by Jana (new)

Jana Light I agree that foreknowledge does not equal foreordination, that "to know" is not "to cause." I'm looking at it from the side of "what is there to know?" If there is something to know - aka, if the future is already set/determined - then God surely knows it. If the future is not determined, then God does not know it because there is nothing to know.

I actually argue that a "purely materialistic universe" does not demand determinism. Quantum mechanics outlines a truly chaotic system.


message 12: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments Well, that is an interesting argument, but it does nothing more than limit God's existence or abilties. God created time and he is its master. The future may not "exist" from our perspective, but scripture makes it abundantly clear that God knows it.

The quantum physics argument is not very convincing, and amounts to question begging. That is, "Physical causes (in a materialistic universe) are unpredictable because we are unable to predict the outcome of physical causes" or somesuch thing.

It’s also debatable whether virtual particles and atomic decay are examples of “uncaused events.” Some interpretations of quantum physics describe events without causes, but others, such as the interpretation offered by the late David Bohm, include no uncaused events. Under Bohm’s view, (or the de Broglie-Bohm interpretation) the way particles behave or act is completely determined by the physical events that happened earlier in time. The eminent quantum physicist John Bell has praised this interpretation and laments the difficulty quantum researchers have in developing models that include truly free or random observers. He writes, “It is a merit of the de Broglie–Bohm version to bring this [non-locality] out so explicitly that it cannot be ignored.”

The fact of the matter is that there is no consensus on which physical interpretation of the equations in quantum physics is correct and, more importantly, our inability to find a cause for quantum events no more justifies the conclusion that there are no causes any more than our inability to detect alien life justifies the conclusion there is no alien life in the universe.


Moreover, determinism is hardly the only problem with philosophic materialism, as it calls into question the very existence of mind, rationality, or personhood. But I fear we are now straying far from the original topic.


message 13: by Jana (new)

Jana Light This is a topic with lots of very fun potential rabbit holes. :-) The way you present 'time' is interesting. There is far more there to dissect, but I don't want to get us even more off-topic!

Quantum Mechanics is inherently chaotic (mathematically proven that there are no deterministic variables just "waiting" to be discovered), but the effect that this chaos has on the predictability of macro events and forces seems to be nil. We obviously can predict with near-certainty certain events in the world around us (all that goes into the sun "rising" and "setting," for instance). However, the premise that a materialistic world demands predictability or determinism is false.


message 14: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments If I grant that you are correct that a materialistic universe does not necessarily entail determinism (for the sake of argument,) it certainly does entail lack of what could be considered "free will." Sometimes I use the term determinism as a proxy for pure physical causation, which technically is incorrect. We are still left with a merely reactionary collection of elements. Doesn't leave much room for meaning, or anything else important, IMO.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

If Jesus (as "God") knows the future EXACTLY, it makes certain prayers to Jesus quite pointless really.

If Jesus had planned for me to die of bowel cancer, for example (and has angels working on it) and he knew that this would happen, but some of you very kindly prayed to Jesus on my behalf to change his mind, and he did: have we thereby changed the future that Jesus knew? Because if (for some surprising reason) none of you did pray for me, the excruciating death Jesus had planned for me would come to pass exactly as Jesus knew it would.

Or would Jesus have known in advance that you would pray for me, and the bowel cancer he had already started in me wasn't going to be fatal - because of the miracle of prayer - and he knew in advance that he would take the bowel cancer away. And leave me to wonder WTF he was playing at - it's not like this miserable sinner of an Atheist is Job or anything.

But Christians say that Jesus answers prayer. That means the future is flexible - and depends on whose prayers Jesus prefers. Religions have long imagined their God concepts to be capricious, emotional and arbitrary. The Jewish/Christian religions are no different in that respect to the earlier religions on which their present God concepts are based.

Or maybe prayer is pointless, because Jesus IS actually real and is up in Heaven(wherever that may be these days) with everything already pre-planned, and he's just monitoring the thoughts of every human on the planet (even though he knew them in advance anyway) and assembling the armies of angels in readiness for his genocidal Second Coming (watch out Hindus and homosexuals) and you're wasting your time trying to have things changed to how YOU would prefer them to be.

Or are certain people simply playing games of convoluted make-believe by mingling talk of quantum mechanics and philosophic materialism and the "superexistential" (you can even make up your own words in this game) in with the talking serpents and global floods and virgin-born god-men of Bronze and Iron Age folklore and mythology?


message 16: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments I already addressed your objection Stuart. But carry on.


message 17: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle Thanks guys, this gets the ball rolling.

Ned comment:
" The future may not "exist" from our perspective, but scripture makes it abundantly clear that God knows it."

Actually NO. I really need verses here Ned. Many people confuse KNOWING the future with perfectly DIRECTING it. There's two reason I question this:

Exodus 4:
Moses Leaves for Egypt
…24Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. 25Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and threw it at Moses' feet, and she said, "You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me." 26So He let him alone.

2 Corinthians 12:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.


These two accounts tell us some interesting things: God alters His plans at times, and visions of the future are often VISIONS and not transported to the future.


message 18: by Ned (last edited May 02, 2015 07:55AM) (new)

Ned | 206 comments Rod,

What do you think the difference is between a "vision" and "transportation.?" Both entail knowledge. One entails actual physical presence. But that is from a human perspective.

What I am getting at is this. God is not corporeal. Many theologians conceive of God as pure mind or actuality. I think this is just right, and consistent with scripture. Pure mind. Considering the foregoing, what is the difference between God "being" somewhere and "knowing" something? None, I aver.

If you are looking for a flat statement in scripture, I don't think you'll find one. We are left with probabilities. Is it more probable that Jesus informed Peter that he would deny him three times in the near future, and that he would die by crucifixion, then directed those things to happen thereby depriving Peter of free will? Or is it more probable that he simply declared that which he knew was going to happen given facts and circumstances, leaving Peter's free will intact? I think it is the latter. The former makes God a puppeteer, a doctrine that I do not believe is consistent with God's character, and is certainly not required by scripture.


message 19: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle AWESOME Ned! That is exactly what i was after:

Peter's denial being prophesied perfectly.

I'm surprised I never thought of this. Now I have something to work with. Let's see what we have exactly:

Matthew 26:34
Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

So what are our options? Either Jesus clearly KNEW the future? (Very good possibility)...
Angels, Demons, Surrounding events and forces (Holy Spirit?) steered Peter into this prophesied actuality?

Hmmm? The plot thickens.


message 20: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle Did I mention i'm happy either way? I do not see this as an issue that belittles the God of the Bible: directing the future is just as impressive as knowing it physically.

So in one sense we are puppets to time (which has already happened) - and in another God has set up guides to make all of His Claims actual. Which one makes better use of Angels and Demons - as well as the Holy Spirit empowering what people do and say?

Judges 14:19
Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle.


message 21: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments Rod,

I am not happy either way, because scripture, in many, many places assumes free will on the part of human beings. I do not believe that God would give us an "illusion" of free will, while denying the fact. We have the power of choice. Therefore, God's foreknowledge is far more consistent with the bible.

"...CHOOSE this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15

Romans 12:1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I URGE YOU to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.

Romans 12:11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord.

Mathew 23:

1Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves ARE NOT WILLING to lift a finger to move them.

37“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and YOU WERE NOT WILLING. 38Look, your house is left to you desolate.


message 22: by Jana (new)

Jana Light Stuart wrote: "If Jesus (as "God") knows the future EXACTLY, it makes certain prayers to Jesus quite pointless really.

If Jesus had planned for me to die of bowel cancer, for example (and has angels working on i..."


Stuart, I highly recommend C.S. Lewis's "On Petitionary Prayer: A Problem Without an Answer" from his book of essays, _The Seeing Eye_. He addresses the same conundrum you're talking about. It's quite excellent.


message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited May 02, 2015 11:27AM) (new)

I used to work with a lovely substance called P32 - it was a radioactive isotope of phosphorus that was plugged into some old style DNA techniques so that you could photograph where the DNA travelled to under the influence of an electric current. Radioactive decay is random, but that randomness has a perfectly predictable overall result - a defined half-life. That meant we had to get new P32 shipped in on a regular basis, because the old stuff didn't do it for us any more.

I find that deliberations about free will tend to overlook the intermediate state between it (in concept, assuming it exists) and the unchosen but predictable random, as seen in P32. That intermediate is the state of uncopiable opportunistic arbitrariness we see in phenomena like the evolution of species, and whether or not Stuart gets bowel cancer starting in any particular cell in his intestinal wall. People who oppose the idea of evolution - and I'm not one of them - often remark that as a theory, it allows remarkably little prediction. This is certainly true. If one eliminated any spate of life forms, their replacements in the analogous basic habitat niches would never be the same.

I suggest that there is even, in this world, an unconscious analogue of free will in arbitrary chance within systems that can meaningfully be said to address opportunities. No action by God is needed to determine if Stuart's bowel gets cancer or not; in fact, God isn't even the deliberate designer of cancer per se, or any other disease - or of any particular organism, or even of Homo sapiens. As the creator of a system that could include the back-looping of causal phenomena in a way that allowed self-referring subsystems like life to emerge, he is the benevolent overseer of a chance-rich system in which his direct instantaneous intervention is limited to the miraculous - direct actions, the holy spirit, answers to prayers and inspiration of scripture.

A campus pastor once remarked to me that he thought the future of theology, after process-theology had had its day, lay in its reconciliation with biology. One of the reasons I encourage acceptance of evolution, as friendly as I am disposed to be to literalists among us, is that I think theodicy becomes plausible under this understanding of creative, caring, day-to-day non-determinism.

I'm not by any means subscribing to one of those labels for people who say God got the ball rolling and then retired. For one thing, I've been the witness of some acutely eloquently answered prayers. But I don't think that God made every cancer that came along, either. No angel choirs are needed for a mutation, or even the molecular carrier of a mutation.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Ned wrote: "I already addressed your objection Stuart. But carry on."

There was more than one objection in there.

Perhaps have a look at mingling quantum mechanics with Bronze Age creation and flood mythologies.

Or just what it is Rod's (or Jesus') angels are working on.

Or maybe the objective criteria you personally use to determine that Scripture is genuinely the Word of God.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Jana L. wrote: "Stuart wrote: "If Jesus (as "God") knows the future EXACTLY, it makes certain prayers to Jesus quite pointless really.

If Jesus had planned for me to die of bowel cancer, for example (and has ange..."


No it's not.

It ducks and dodges and blows up smokescreens and offers not a shred of evidence for any of the magical, miracles believers believe in.

But I do very, very often find that people who refer me to excellent writings are doing so to dodge the issues I raise, and get rid of me for a while on a wild goose chase.

And I challenge them to copy and paste a single on-topic sentence from the excellent writing that gives me evidence I can independently verify.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Mark wrote: "I used to work with a lovely substance called P32 - it was a radioactive isotope of phosphorus that was plugged into some old style DNA techniques so that you could photograph where the DNA travell..."

Ah, so your version of "God" did not design Homo sapiens.

What happened with the mud-man and the rib-woman in the Word of God ...?

And I think I remember you stating you didn't accept that Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost flooded the entire biblical dome some time around the beginning of the Sixth Egyptian Dynasty.

I suggest that you're not a good Christian, Mark, you're simply an unfulfilled atheist.


message 27: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments "There was more than one objection in there."

Yes, I know. your typical shotgun blast approach, consisting of whatever pellets come in handy to cram in the shell at once. An approach that is hardly conducive to rational discussion. To be frank, I question the sincerity of your objections, and believe that the real obstacle to your faith lies elsewhere. As soon as I begin to answer one objection, you'll only raise another ten, (not very good ones but enough to keep the discussion derailed,) that much is plain. I prefer to spend my time more productively.


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Ned wrote: ""There was more than one objection in there."

Yes, I know. your typical shotgun blast approach, consisting of whatever pellets come in handy to cram in the shell at once. An approach that is hardl..."


I'm the one who does stay specifically on topic.

It's others who use all sorts of ploys to avoid directly tackling the larger of the points I raise.

Like this ploy you've used here.


message 29: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments But of course you do, Stuart. That's why you raise the worldwide flood, mythology and folklore, divine inspiration of the bible, the efficacy of prayer, angels, talking serpents, genocide, homosexuality, the virgin birth, etc. in a thread about divine foreknowledge. Way to stay on topic.


message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Ned wrote: "But of course you do, Stuart. That's why you raise the worldwide flood, mythology and folklore, divine inspiration of the bible, the efficacy of prayer, angels, talking serpents, genocide, homosexu..."

And if we are dealing with the mythology and folklore of worldwide floods and angels and talking serpents and sired-by-the-local-deity-on-a-human-virgin god-men, then the writings of the Jewish culture are not divinely inspired and there is no divine foreknowledge ... and prayer has no efficacy.

And the homophobia and the Islamic State-style racist genocide in the Bibles are reflections of the homophobia, racism (and misogyny and more)of the Jewish writers, and nothing to do with the imaginary Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost version of "God" - because this/these version/s are as mythological as those of every other culture under the biblical dome of Heaven.

And "God" as Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost cannot know the future EXACTLY because they are imaginary - just like all the other gods biblicists declare to be false gods.

Just ask Mark - he doesn't even believe Adam used to be a mud-cake.


message 31: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments I rest my case. Just save the above post so you can repost it in all future threads, will you? It will save a lot of time.


message 32: by Ned (last edited May 02, 2015 01:27PM) (new)

Ned | 206 comments And "God" as Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost cannot know the future EXACTLY because they are imaginary - just like all the other gods biblicists declare to be false gods.

And just so you know that I pay attention, you have repeatedly and emphatically asserted in this group that you do not claim that there is no God and denied the plain dictionary definition of atheism. Looks like you just tipped that hand.


message 33: by Jana (new)

Jana Light Wow, Stuart, I merely suggested the essay as one that I thought might interest you since you brought up the subject, not to deflect from the discussion at hand or avoid your argument. I think I'll bow out of this thread until civility in responses is the norm. I appreciate everyone's input - I find this question fascinating!


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Ned wrote: "And "God" as Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost cannot know the future EXACTLY because they are imaginary - just like all the other gods biblicists declare to be false gods.

And just so you know that I pay a..."


Try:

http://atheism.about.com/od/definitio...

The Jewish deity Yahweh from the Bibles is not God - or "God", as I often write.

The idea of "God" was around for thousands - and maybe hundreds of thousands - of years before Jewish priests imagined their imaginary super-being.

Yahweh is a mythological, lowercase god: just like everyone else's.

I never say "God" does not exist, but I do say the biblical Yahweh is not "God" - he's just a mythological Canaanite god.

If you claim that Yahweh is "God" with a capital G. it's your responsibility to back the claim up with more that the Bronze and Iron Age writings of Yahweh's human followers.

No one ever does.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Jana L. wrote: "Wow, Stuart, I merely suggested the essay as one that I thought might interest you since you brought up the subject, not to deflect from the discussion at hand or avoid your argument. I think I'll..."

And often people will avoid admitting they no evidence by claiming offence ... when there is none.


message 36: by Ned (last edited May 03, 2015 05:26AM) (new)

Ned | 206 comments You're just playing semantic games. You just claimed that the true "God" plus all gods considered false by Christians are imaginary. That includes the whole universe of gods.


message 37: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments ...I do say the biblical Yahweh is not "God" - he's just a mythological Canaanite god.

You base this on what?


message 38: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle Stuart now it seems you are just here to annoy us and distract from our discussions. By post 25 you derailed this topic to deal with your atheism... yet AGAIN!

A mature person would notice that this discussion has NOTHING to do with whether God exists or not. So please keep to the topic at hand. (or start your own threads about your specific concerns.) Or maybe it's time to just get rid of you.


message 39: by Robert (new)

Robert Core | 1864 comments From an astrophysics standpoint the universe will implode from a simple lack of sufficient energy to maintain it. Does God know this date? It was thought not long ago that a supernatural power pumped Hydrogen ions into the system to "grease the wheels" - this theory has since been discarded, but illustrates a point. If God knows the precise end times date, He either knows when man will sow the seeds of his own destruction with his increasingly powerful killing devices, or He has preplanned which natural disaster will eliminate us. Neither of these scenarios takes Revelation into account. Reading that carefully indicates a slow, painful journey to oblivion where most are given time and warning to make peace with their Creator.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

Ned wrote: "...I do say the biblical Yahweh is not "God" - he's just a mythological Canaanite god.

You base this on what?"


http://apxaioc.com/article/were-ancie...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canaan

http://oaks.nvg.org/hebrews.html

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/explorin...

And so on.

The mythological Yahweh may have evolved from the mythological Yam - or he may have evolved from Edomite sources, or numerous other possibilities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canaanit...

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/YHWH

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/jewish...

Believing Yahweh is God with a capital G - based on nothing more than the writings of the followers of Yahweh - does not make Yahweh "God".

Mythological deities do not know the future EXACTLY.


message 41: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments I am going to read these. Just out of curiosity, have you independently verified the evidence for each claim? Are these theories or facts? Have you seen and interpreted the ancient documents? Are those documents reliable? Or are you merely embracing the claims of others? Do these people have some kind of agenda?


message 42: by [deleted user] (last edited May 03, 2015 03:37PM) (new)

I suggest that you're not a good Christian, Mark, you're simply an unfulfilled atheist.

I'm an ex-atheist who prays to the living God and who welcomes his Son Jesus Christ to his heart. Perhaps I'm a fulfilled atheist :)

Sorting instructive parables out from history in the Bible doesn't make a person the slightest iota less religious.

I've taken the trouble to write a book that explains my viewpoints reasonably holistically. I'd recommend you to read it if I thought you would. I think most atheists would find it frightening, though, in that whereas 16th century Catholicism as a straw man is easy to attack - reference your 'mud-cake'scenario - mysticism is not made of such easily targeted clay pigeons.

I never say "God" does not exist, but I do say the biblical Yahweh is not "God" - he's just a mythological Canaanite god.

Ancient near eastern gods differ from yhwh in having been reduced gods, who could be represented by idols. They were representatives of the phenomenon called that I call 'adherent-in-reduction' in my book - the explanation of that is too long to transfer here, but it's there if you're interested. A distinct feature of yhwh lies in 'his' irreduceability and thus 'his' insusceptibility to any depiction (painting, statue) that commands worship. Unless the 'God' that you state may not not-exist is in some way a limited god, then yhwh, however conceived, and attended by whatever stories, is an adherence to that God.

The polytheistic gods are part of a series of limited investitures of the sacred, first in kami or elemental spirits, then in totem spirits like Fox and Beaver, and then, with increasing abstraction of thinking, in astronomical, geological and temporal (e.g., 'fate') archetypes. To say any of these concepts is inimical to God in its recognition of the sacred is incorrect; what is inimical is the splitting-up of God into archetypes. The problem of idolatry lies in investing the sacred in limited forms -- which is not the same as intimating the sacred with discrete symbols (such as carrying a cross on a neck chain). To some extent, then, all the situation-specific gods and spirits of the world are defective attempts to attain to the One creator God who made all. When you attain to the One, is no insult to call that god by a Canaanite name, or any other name, as long as it doesn't create misunderstanding.

And for every Ummah (a community or a nation), there is a Messenger; when their Messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged. (Qur'ân 10:47)

(Romans 2) For if the Nations who have not The Written Law would perform those things of The Written Law by their nature, while they have not The Written Law, they would be The Written Law to themselves. And they show the work of The Written Law written on their heart and their conscience testifies to them, while their reasoning rebukes or defends each one, In the day when God judges the secrets of the children of men according to my Gospel, by Yeshua The Messiah.

God stands above the fracturings of worship. Idolatry is downgraded not because of imposture per se, but because people harm themselves in not recognizing the integrity of the wholeness of the sacred.

Now, about the topic we were on prior to the Stuart intervention.

""Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

I suppose Jeremiah 1:5 is the ultimate predestinarian statemement. Does it then completely obstruct concepts like free will, discretionary response to prayer and, as mentioned in a post above, appeal of God's decisions? Here we get very deeply into the game of speculating about eternity - and to what extent can we know if God can lay out something along the lines of what physicists call a multiverse, with spates of possible timelines sometimes being collapsed to singular trajectories by miraculous purpose, and other times being left to play out as they play, with the foreknowledge of God including the course of every possible trajectory?

Every world view we can come up with has something unfathomable about it. Even the basic 'Big Bang and before or beyond that, who knows?' atheism has to deal with the quandaries posed by the 'who knows?' part of the equation, the mysterious concept of a beginning of time. (Consider other dimensions; is there a universal beginning of 'length' conceivable?).

None of us, religious or not, is especially well situated to speculate well about such matters. Even those of us who do mathematical physics have our limits.


message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Ned wrote: "I am going to read these. Just out of curiosity, have you independently verified the evidence for each claim? Are these theories or facts? Have you seen and interpreted the ancient documents? Are t..."

I'm always careful about embracing anyone's claims. Hence I use terms like "numerous possibilities".

Some of these people have Christian agendas. Some have Jewish agendas. Some have atheist agendas. Agendas are irrelevant when you are indifferently trying to separate fact from faith and form theories.

You and I both know I will not have personally seen and interpreted ancient documents and archaeological evidence and linguistic studies and so forth - the inferences here are petty. Propositions made by those who study them are critically examined on individual merit - and if we have more than one source: all the better.

By the same token, it would be instructive for you to try and find a scintilla of evidence outside the Jewish writings for the claims you embrace regarding Yahweh/Jesus/Holy Ghost, and then to examine the possible agendas of the Jewish folks who wrote them, when you discover there are no facts for the supernatural upon which to develop theories, and you can only develop faith-based religion.


message 44: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments I figured a hard core, "indifferent" empericist like yourself must have vetted these extraordinarily well. I just wanted to double check.


message 45: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle Thanks Mark for bringing up Jeremiah 1:5

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

I'm still on the fence about God planning the future - and having experienced it. (Freewill is not really a concern for me - i'd be happy to have God over-ride my senses for His Glory.)


message 46: by Ned (new)

Ned | 206 comments Freewill is not really a concern for me - i'd be happy to have God over-ride my senses for His Glory.

If He does, it will not be against your will but in accordance with it. All Christians hope for complete sanctification.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8

Suggests God's transcendence over time.


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

Mark wrote: "I suggest that you're not a good Christian, Mark, you're simply an unfulfilled atheist.

I'm an ex-atheist who prays to the living God and who welcomes his Son Jesus Christ to his heart. Perhaps ..."


You're right - I'm probably not going to read your book. (But I think I would have got along well with your Dad - sounds a sensible sort of chap.)

You pray to the Living God with the son Jesus - that would make "God" for you the mythological Jewish deity Yahweh. Other versions of "God" have other sons ... who were also kings (or would-be kings).

Then you say - " To some extent, then, all the situation-specific gods and spirits of the world are defective attempts to attain to the One creator God who made all. When you attain to the One, is no insult to call that god by a Canaanite name, or any other name, as long as it doesn't create misunderstanding."

Which is sort of partly what I'm saying. The human mind has imagined for more millennia than we can tell, the notion of the supernatural, the divine, "God", call it what you will. You are simply declaring that all concepts of the Divine - other than yours - are defective. Which is what rather too many belief systems declare.

And no belief system ever offers a squeak of evidence beyond the human writings of the followers.

And I sort of agree with your: "irreduceability and thus 'his' insusceptibility to any depiction (painting, statue) that commands worship". I offer up for consideration the hypothesis that the reforming priests of Yahweh intended Yahweh to be an abstract concept.

But the idea has never really caught on very well, because the human imagination in its "spirituality" loves colour and art and spectacle. When Christianity was granted the monopoly on religion in the Roman Empire, the early Christian attempts to smash (as ISIS are doing now) the sacred art of traditional concepts of "God" did not last, and the melange we have today developed.

Cromwell and his crew of puritanical Protestant Christian iconoclastic thugs did the same in England (with lots of ISIS-style throat-cutting and smashing of sacred property) - but still the artistic depictions of the Divine snuk back in.

And take a look at the multi-million dollar, mega-church Jesus-business enterprises in the USA, and consider your words: "The problem of idolatry lies in investing the sacred in limited forms -- which is not the same as intimating the sacred with discrete symbols (such as carrying a cross on a neck chain)." And I seem to agree with you a bit there too.

As for Yahweh being the "One True Creator God who created all" - that's patently wrong. The Yahweh-come-lately of the Bibles was beaten to that title, long, long before there ever was a Hebrew language or an Israelite people.

And as for Yahweh's "insusceptibility to any depiction (painting, statue) that commands worship." This hasn't stopped devout Christians from giving it a good shot. Yahweh - and his bare arse (who does that?) - are all over the Sistine Chapel

http://willisdomingo.com/willisdoming...

And if this wasn't meant as homoerotic titillation for their Holy Eminences, I suspect they gave it a bit of something close to worship anyway.


message 48: by [deleted user] (last edited May 04, 2015 12:46PM) (new)

Wasn't Michaelangelo just a wunderkind.

Stuart, in classical Hinduism, they say that there are several approaches to the spiritual. One of them is bhakta, worship. In Hinduism, this means things like setting out treats for Ganesha, appreciating the Mahabharata, and so on. Another path is jñāna (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jnana_yoga), apprehending spirituality through wisdom and learning. This path is considered much more difficult than bhakta because a person can easily just get tied up in the ego trip of having learned a lot, and cease the real spiritual exploration that will lead them to enlightenment. (If you read up on the sattvas guna, the thread of 'wisdom' in the network of maya/epistemic deception, you'll see more about this. There are also parallel Christian scriptures about the dangers of wisdom as an end in itself - cf. Paul debating with the Athenians.)

Bhakta, wherever you find it, is very colourful, full of decorative items and songs and rituals and customs. It's a good meditation for many people but it isn't for everyone. Maybe you are more a person of jñāna. Perhaps the bhakta of Christianity frustrates you because the clutter of tale and ritual seems to obscure the heart of pure wisdom God should be, if there was a God who could identify morally with sentient beings. In that case, maybe you already know -- if you purify, out of the Jewish and Christian scriptures that you've read, anything that you truly consider to be wise (perhaps temporarily spinning the uncertain cases in a positive direction in order to be certain you've sucked the wisdom out to the marrow), then you may find it satisfying to dwell for awhile on those wise and benevolent items that you would find worthy to recommend to a would-be loving God. It's as in that scripture, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Note the preface of "whatever is true." There's nothing wrong with insisting on truth.

My dad was a good man. I didn't know him to do much reading, but he had a relationship of some kind with wisdom. He was a typical mildly homophobic military guy (reserve forces) when I was growing up (gays were unthinkable as a matter of course, but one didn't make a fuss about it or be rude to the rare unlucky hairdressers who were that way), but after I became independent and came out, he turned it around and accepted me and, soon enough, my gay brother. He was an accountant by day (military by evening) and at his funeral, we were staggered by how many widows came out of the woodwork and said he'd been doing their tax accounting for free. I expect that if he were ever to be judged by Romans 2, he would do OK. After all, many of the men of his generation got shocked off religion by the war and the Holocaust -- the free rein of evil seemed to imply that no one was running the shop (cf. my comments about non-determinism, above). I wonder to what extent the Lord would hold this spiritual PTSD against anyone reporting in as an atheist. In any case, I can think of several occasions where my dad made a conspicuous leap of jñāna - one time, for example, he said he'd read a magazine article that said you shouldn't be afraid to hug your kids, so there at the ungainly age of 24, I found myself, the openly gay son, being hugged by this guy who probably hadn't done such a thing since I was, I don't know, 5 years old.

Smashing bhakta is certainly possible; one can approach the bible like a Fox News reporter reporting on an Obama-lovers' convention. Ultimately, though, even the practitioners of bhakta hope for the fruits of jñāna, a sort of unarguable saintliness, not bound to a specific doctrine. Perhaps there is that in the bible which can illuminate the path of agnostic saintliness - and if at some point in finding it, it led you to unexpected places, you would be assured from your own lights that you were doing the right thing.

Hug of peace to you.


message 49: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Woodward | 556 comments "What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I had not done in it?
When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?"

Isaiah 5:4 God speaking of Israel.


message 50: by Rod (new)

Rod Horncastle Tricky verse Joshua. It might say more about mankind than God. But very important!


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