Alan Watts on the difference between Belief and Faith

Does concept imply that humans came up with the idea? I understand the need to conceptualize the unknown, to break it down, and understand it in our terms. God is a fairly unknown being. For the most part only directly experienced by a few and it is only their word, and faulty comprehension, we have to go by.

As pointed out, studying the physical is only going to get us so far. The physical is not God, but only a creation of God. The fact that God is outside of and created the whole physical universe is enough to bring awe and admiration. Then we get bogged down in reality.

I think every concept is a human concept given that we’re the only ones on the planet communicating with them. Definitely humans all over the globe have been coming up with a concept of God for a very long time. So I think there is something in our experience that leads to that. I just think it is wholly within our experience by way of our form of consciousness. But I think it is distinct from our conscious minds and like them, God too is a form of consciousness. (I don’t expect that will be convincing, just my opinion.)

Agreed but I think lots of people perceive confirmation of His involvement in their thoughts or prayers.

That would be true if the hypothesis that God is out there as the eternal creator of everything is correct. But if my hypothesis is correct then we all have potentially as much access to what has given rise to belief in God as anyone has ever had. Which ever hypothesis we choose the world of our experience can confirm it, though those who start with your hypothesis will find they have much more company.

Well given your hypothesis, yes. Given mine I get bogged down in other ways.

If you propose that God is only a concept because God communicated that to you, you are out of the originating process just the same as if God was the sole originator of thought.

My proposal does not deny equal access. It allows the freedom of choice. Even to the point they can create their own God.

I was questioning what viewing God as a concept entails.

If God is just a concept made up by each individual there is no choice. The action is the only choice they have, even if the choice is no God at all. Sure one individual can imagine an infinite amount of gods to choose from, but the source is still the singular person doing the imagining. The result is still the singular choice not a freedom to choose outside of one’s own thoughts.

Even if God is only outside of our thoughts, those thoughts do not originate in each individual. They are “placed” there by a separate source. That there are only two choices is still freedom from doing the action alone. Even if you forgo your own and adopt another’s god, you have removed your choice, and the potential is still only two. God and the next choice. You can do that for an infinite amount of times and you are still allowed to reject God, but there is freedom to do so. If you remove God from the equation as you agree there is still the freedom of choice between you and an infinite amount of human concepts of God. However you have lost your singular choice, and God as a choice, and you are stiil trapped in a single choice even if that choice is infinite in number.

Choosing God is still singular in practice, but you are putting Faith and trust in a being not conceived of by other humans. Since we are assuming that all humans are equal minus their ability to have a finite amount of infinite gods, you are still in the same singular finite choice of infinite possibilities. But only one of those is going to be your choice. Your freedom of choice is still limited to the human origination of one. With a being outside of the human reality you have one more choice. Now one more may only free you from the human part of the equation, but it is more freedom that only having the human equation. You cannot place God as equal to the human concepts, you can only use God as another choice. The infinite emount of human possibility is limited by the finite amount of humans, so there is only a false freedom of choice. A freedom that hits the limit fast, when you can still only choose one from the nature of the choice itself.

Definitely not what I have in mind. God is certainly not just a deliberate fabrication made up by us. But we do form a concept of God, don’t we? And for some people nonexistent is synonymous for their concept of God, but that isn’t mine.

Another concept we form is that of “self” or “personal identity”. I think most of us believe there is a range of behaviors and values which are authentically ours while others would be out of character for us. I certainly don’t think we just make that up either, we discover what it is over our lifetimes. Where does it come from? I think of it as something produced by consciousness which, yes, I do believe is a product of our minds. But it isn’t subservient to our conscious minds.

How exactly consciousness gives rise to our experience of being being someone in particular is a little mysterious at least to me. But I think God is another product of consciousness and accounts for our perception that there is something more. So basically I put God and who I am on the same plane, both are products of consciousness, but not of our own making.

Maybe it is already clear that I don’t think we determine who God is anymore than we determine who we are. In both cases, we recognize when we have it right and when we are going wrong. No doubt who we are and who God is is culturally determined but I don’t think that falsifies anything.

Freedom isn’t really my issue, I don’t want it. I want to and do accept the self I am given and I want to and do accept the God that meets me. God is the internal Thou to my I, but I get the impression He knows me far better than I do Him. My own rumination about all this leads to my concept of God which admittedly does not map perfectly to the traditional Christian God.

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Thanks for the clarification. I hazard a guess the reason why you do not think your concept matches up with traditional Christianity is because every human acts as a filter. I think that we are saying the same thing that internally in our consciousness we have “whatever term is best” not of our own making but comes from outside of us. There seems to be a long list of sources. I have no problem with one holding to their own filtered results as a basis for their belief system and concepts they present to the rest of humanity. Unless we were actual computers it may be hard to recall each and every source of our thoughts. Do you acknowledge God as one source? Not just the Bible or what other’s claim to be the Word of God revealed to them, but from God? And why or why not? If Jesus claimed to call all the rightous, those who are self righteous; that would cover every one who has not been told about God in person, would not that be an example of a source given freely to all humankind?

Not trying to be too prying or preachy. I think that most of humanity is willing to let others be in authority over them. As social creatures, only a few are given the urge to be in control. So the reason we do get large institutions, goverments, and religions is that most are willing to follow the lead of others and form hierarchical structures. Thus forgoing there own beliefs and conforming to the group they were either born into or seek out when they feel the group they are in no longer is of service to them.

As for every one forming a concept of God, I agree with. Else how would we know about God since specific and direct revelation does not happen that often. I don’t think I have an answer though how we can even reliably rule out what comes from God and what does not, although I think that is the role of The Holy Spirit.

Personally I no longer see God as the ANE did. How we corralate that with the point that God does not change may be harder to reconcile. But “beyond comprehension”, may mean that we can compehend more, the more we understand the universe and how it relates to God. I think if we use history as an excuse to rule God out of our lives, we are only doing a diservice to ourselves. Also if we use God as a means to justify bad behavior that is totally wrong as well.

That is an interesting point. Whatever God may be is “outside” that portion produced by consciousness which I call myself, the part over which I exercise some degree of free will - but still “inside” consciousness, not ‘out there’ in the cosmos. However we may disagree about that. I know some conceive of consciousness as extending beyond the individual and perhaps connecting us in some way but I don’t. Consciousness certainly does seem to depend on minds which depend on brains which come one to a customer with no obvious interconnectivity.

I believe in an internal, autonomous otherness worth knowing. I’m not much interested in the bible.

I don’t think of it as wanting to be in control. It just seems too important to leave it up to guessing who to follow. But I’ve read Sapiens and yes cooperation has been a hallmark of our species.

That is why I see all the talk of omni-everything, eternity and creator of everything as a mishmash of older traditions and hyperbole. I think this internal otherness completes us. Buying into a set of traditions might suffice. But I’m not convinced it is necessary. I believe this life is the whole thing and that it is finite.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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