You’re not the first to ask that but it isn’t quite right. I wouldn’t say:
I would say God is a discovery men make, rather than an invention. It is nothing any man ever fabricated for any nefarious purpose. But it is something anyone can realize and then the question becomes where does this other who knows, comforts and encourages me come from and why can I not know Him directly and completely as He seems to me? All the answers proposed - the heavens, the supernatural, the mystery- are all as far fetched as my own: that God is a co-product of consciousness, right along side the one I think of as myself.
I’m not suggesting that is all that God is but that is all I can hope to know. It is entirely possible that God had some roll to play in the creation of the rest of life as well as the inanimate cosmos. Who knows? But the portion that actually matters in our lives is that which He turns to us.
Well I try to steer clear of nothing-buttery so I wouldn’t go so far as to say “consciousness is nothing but God”. Reductionism has the effect of denuding the lived world too much. For the same reason I avoid making claims about what makes us tick. I prefer to offer what I think in a way that doesn’t persuade or dissuade anyone else from their own point of view. Whatever their own hunch may be is always the best place to start. I think we do more violence to our own understanding and that of others if we treat ontology as something simple and obvious. Our experience is always more complex than any list of summary statements we may come up with. Complete clarity and finality aren’t a realistic goals. One difference which separates us is that I do not look on the Bible as authoritative. If any find it helpful -as I believe they do- it is because its stories and symbols have provided a fertile ground for imagination, insight and intuition to represent a deeper understanding than we will ever arrive at by way of rationality and deduction. While those Chistian stories and metaphors are not not as central for me they are in there too as they are present in my native culture.
I can’t tell you what God is but I can and do speculate about what it is which gives rise to God belief. I think it is a mistake to over specify what God is or what His attributes may be.
Analogously, then you were mistaken and overspecified what your biological father was and what his attributes were. True, in some ways God reveals himself to us differently than our earthly fathers do, but in others ways comparably or even better.
If the God who is did not want to be discovered or discoverable, he wouldn’t be – all we would have is our own conjectures. He has given us more than that, though (including lotteries won, not just a book).
I don’t find anyone or anything I think is authoritative to the degree that I don’t still have to decide how I feel about whatever is at issue. So that would include Jesus though from the stories attributed to him I’d expect to find agreement. The ground I think we don’t have in common has less to do with results than with procedure. It seems you think you can farm out your moral decisions to something or someone authoritative while I expect to always remain involved, and ultimately responsible.
I’ve been through this line of questioning before in relation to feeling appreciative for life, health, nature, beauty and more. Can I ask if you agree that it is possible to feel appreciation without having someOne to address it to?
But in regard to who it is I am responsible to, it is that which calls on me and inspires me to act. Frankly I doubt very much that it is experientially very different for us. But I don’t precisely know how it works. Perhaps it is a master watchmaker sitting in an adjacent dimension which is how the Christian answer appears to me. But my hunch is that it is something within each one of us but I don’t think you can pinpoint exactly where. In the past people would have said the heart. My guess is that it arises entirely naturally the same way our sense of self does, as products of consciousness. But I admit I don’t know nor do I care overly much. Still, I am disposed to prefer a hypothetical location that is natural to one that is supernatural. Of course reality is not obliged to make sense to me so I won’t waste lot of ink defending my hypothetical answer. I could certainly be wrong about how this greater Other calls to me but I don’t think I am wrong that it does so.
Nor do I think you are wrong for thinking of it as the Bible would have you do. Religious faith is compatible with my hypothesis. The only question is: does your conceptualization placate your reason and facilitate your relationship with that which is greater? Obviously your hypothesis has a track record in its favor, though I’m sometimes inclined to nitpick that it seems to work much better for the educated than for the those who follow without understanding. People rationalize that it helps people endure lives that would be way to hard otherwise. That may be so but I find way to little to settle for.
I agree that it is possible to have “appreciative feelings” as a result from evolutionary mechanisms. Nonetheless, by the same mechanisms we get also “selfish Darwinian tendencies”. Boosted by our mental capabilities, these tendencies can transform into those highly destructive urges we all experience within us from time to time.
So my question to you:
How do you achieve to master such destructive urges?
It is obvious that we all carry highly destructive tendencies in us (will to power, hatred, envy, lustfulness). This is confirmed (if confirmation were needed) by characters like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Bin Laden, current sexual predators, the genocides along history. Such threats to humanity are real, and claiming “I do not care overly much” does not seem to be a wise attitude to meet them.
“Appreciative feelings” are not sufficient to master such tendencies as you will easily inhibit such feelings when the urges arouse in you. Something more robust is needed. And this is the belief that we are responsible to some “High God”. This belief is the “mechanism” that allowed and allows people to live together in “cramped conditions” (settlements, cities) without killing each other. It is the key to explain why Homo sapiens flourished and prevailed over all animal species.
So the question arises:
Does humankind survive because this belief is naturally engraved on our hearts and the collective subconscious of humanity?
Or does this belief emerge, because humankind is naturally ordered to survive and prevail over all animals?
In either case it seems you can’t help invoking someone underpinning these natural processes. The sound answer is invoking a personal God, since (as you rightly state) “none of us creates our own identity and interests, nor do we decide what will fulfill us. All of that is a given which must be discovered.” If our “personal identity” and “what will fulfill us” is “a given”, there must be “a giver”, who is not bound to time.
If you do not invoke a personal God, then you will end by assuming that you are responsible to none other than you yourself, what amounts to constitute your feelings in the standard of “good and evil”. Somehow it looks like you have in mind the latter, when you claim that “it arises entirely naturally the same way our sense of self does, as products of consciousness.” Thanks for clarifying.
Could you please explain what do you mean by “a natural location” and “a supernatural location”?
It is a matter of coherence:
To hold a sound discourse you have to declare what you are taking as axiom , that is, the ground you consider unquestionable .
My axiom is this:
Humankind has a dignity and value that animals and machines don’t have, and for this reason each human being is accountable for the life of another human being, but we are allowed to kill animals for food.
I consider this axiom is engraved in the heart of each human being, and is transmitted from generation to generation. This way, the axiom becomes a corporate content of humanity, a moral archetype in the collective subconscious of humankind. The main aim of family life is that the parents teach this axiom to the children, and thereby these realize what God has written in our hearts.
“I don’t think it is a matter of complete indifference to ‘God’ what we do with these lives we live.” (your claim).
I think here you are precisely “rationalizing” something that helps us to endure lives that would be way too hard otherwise, because we realize and hope it will eternally fulfill us: God’s love!
‘Farming out’ the moral standards, external ‘rules’, to be applied is in no way absolving oneself of personal involvement and ‘ultimate responsibility’ for moral decisions and especially behaviors. Shall we use traffic laws as a nonthreatening case in point.
I would never and did not say such a thing. I do not see human interactions or cultures as being mechanistic. To be clear, I do not see it as mechanistic either as a result of deterministic forces nor from the actions of a cosmic watchmaker.
I don’t find I’m beset with destructive tendencies so dire that I must remain ever wary. I’m not saying evil does not exist or that it is always the result of natural causes, but I definitely don’t think there is demigod devoted to spreading it as wide as possible.
Yes we are all subject to a wide range of emotions but I would suggest just how highly destructive they become may actually increased by the effort to deny them. That doesn’t mean we should give them free sway, but whether they are addressed as murderous demonic urges or unruly children can have an effect on our behavior.
Very little in life is responsive to mechanisms based on what propositions we do or do not assent to. I don’t think that is how we work and it doesn’t reflect what we are.
I don’t think our intellectual appraisals are determinative in our moral behavior so I don’t like to use “belief” this way. But you could substitute “disposition” in place of “belief” and keep the question more relevant, I think. Though even with that adjustment there is no reason to look for a favorable disposition to be hard-wired into us either by natural selection or by divine decree. After all, if it were, wouldn’t we see a different world than we do? But humanity has a quicker level of evolutionary adaption in culture and that is where we see religion come onto the scene.
“The sound answer?” Conventional at least. But why immediately assume it is a God? Is that what you assume gives rise to your enduring sense of having/being a self? If anyone will allow that life can give rise to the latter, I cannot see why the former seems so farfetched to consider. As I said before, I think even if it is natural/cultural in origins I do think religion remains relevant but I 'm not convinced it would be the only way.
When the alternative is something you cannot produce or demonstrate and must be spoken of as ‘supernatural’, I think we’re both living in glass houses. I have faith in my assessment as you have in yours. You give the credit for that faith to that which you cannot prove, I give the credit to that which I cannot prove. However you know in atheist circles -not me- God is frequently refered to as your secret friend, suggesting essentially that you are really just making it up just as you imply in regard to what I believe.
I doubt if I’m the only one here who thinks “mind”, “self” and morality fits within an entirely natural world. Whether or not there is a God, we can and those of us outside of organized religion do, place these things in our everyday world without appeal to anything outside of it. If you believe that everything in the physical world is as it is only by divine fiat then the natural world begins to seem much less substantial. I would find that unfortunate and prone to cognitively expensive to hold.
FWIW, I have no intention to engage you @Dale on any of your posts in this thread. It isn’t anything you have written many times before.
You yourself claim: “None of us creates our own identity and interests, nor do we decide what will fulfill us. All of that is a given which must be discovered.”
I am someone called to be someone forever, because there is someone who loves me, and calls me to love him: It is this reciprocal love what will fulfill me. Only love can fulfill us, so if we want to reach everlasting fulfillment we have to discover the One, who loves us everlastingly!
What do you mean by “life”? An evolutionary mechanism?
If not, then you can’t help acknowledging that “life” means someone who is “the life”, the “living one”, the giver, who gives me life and being.
In whichever way you look at it: Religion is an undeniable fact, and as such you have to include it in the evolutionary explanation (as for instance Robin Dunbar does).
You can consider “religion” a relevant part of the evolutionary adaption of Homo sapiens. But this amounts to claim that evolution aims to bring about humankind as a community of people called to live respecting each other! And so the question arises, where this aim come from?
My answer is the axiom I have enunciated in the previous post:
You claim that you are not convinced this “would be the only way”.
All right. But could you please propose an alternative way? This would be helpful for the discussion.
Another way is to recognize there is something more within which knows me better than I do myself and sees more clearly than I can into what really matters. It is separate from what I call myself and it exists in what, from my POV, is a kind of blind spot. I can only know of it what it chooses to grant me. It isn’t something a person just makes up though it is very easy to fool ourselves about this. It is the source of insight and inspiration, gifts that are easily overlooked if we are constantly focused on our own deductions, ruminations and brain storms. But it is there all the same and if we can keep our questions in mind and our minds humbly open long enough, insight can sometimes find a way.
For me the only sound definition is “what matters for the everlasting happiness of humanity and each human being”.
If “what really matters” is not defined by yourself but by this “something within” which knows you better than you do yourself, then this “something within” has all the attributes of someone who exists beyond space and time!
By opening both eyes you can easily see what exists in each eye’s “blind spot”!
Again here, at the end of the day, you are acknowledging that “this something within you that knows you better than you yourself”, is someone who loves you so much to underpin your existence, and call you to everlasting happiness by sharing with him and all human beings a relationship of love. In fact, you are acknowledging that everything in your live is a gift of this someone’s love.
Frankly, I do not understand why you seem to find pleasure in sentencing yourself to remain alone!
Denying God amounts to deny humanity.
And indeed, rather than moving towards a post-Christian age, we are moving to a post-Human one!