Is God 'being' itself?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #42

I AM WHO I AM actually means that YHWH (or at least his name) is truly unknowable, hence why God gives such a vague answer when God asks him for his name.

Correct, according to traditional exegesis, YHWH is a sentient being. I reject this notion however.

Because being is the cause of all that is, not identifying being with the God of the Bible leads to polytheism, with more than one creator.

All philosophy says the universe is simple? Note that I don’t believe Plotinus was infallible at all. I just find his conception of God is logically coherent.

The universe and God are two different things, it’s a mistake to say that the qualities of one must be the qualities of another.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #43

I AM is not vague. I AM means that God is the only Self-existing Being. Nothing can be more specific than that. God is unknowable if one depends only on Reason to know God. One needs Reason and Revelation to know Who God is. That is why philosophy is mistaken when it depends only or primarily on Reason.

Humans are sentient beings, they can think, know, and act. How can God be less than humans and be unable to think, know , and act? It seems that philosophy has something backwards.

God is Sovereign. God is not a Simple statue that cannot do anything.

Who says that Being is the cause of all that is? God is the cause of all that is. You suggested at the start of this blog that God is Being itself. God is not Being itself, because YHWH is the Source of the universe. Being as found in Philosophy is more Truth and Understanding of the universe, not the universe itself.

We have more than one kind of Truth: scientific truth, philosophical truth, and spiritual truth. That is why we need the Trinity to include all these aspects of Truth that cannot be really separated or isolated.

Yes, the universe and God are different, but they are related. God created the universe through God’s sovereign power, Logos wisdom, and unlimited love. They are both good. Humans are created in God’s own Image. Jesus, a human being, is the exact Image of God.

YHWH does not have to so anything, but just as YHWH shared His Name with Abram and Sara, YHWH shared in part Who God is with us, YHWH’s people.


(Mitchell W McKain) #44

More things I don’t like about pantheism and the God is being itself idea.

  1. It reduces God to such a simple basic concept that it makes the question of His existence meaningless.
  2. It makes it impossible for God to create others apart from Himself with whom He can have a personal relationship.
  3. It makes the philosophical problem of evil and suffering many times worse.
  4. It changes the meaning of “God is good” considerably. As being itself, God is all good and all evil. And the only meaning for “God is good” is some kind of summation that existence is more good than evil.

(Jay Johnson) #45

If God does not have a mind, then he is a lesser being than my dog. What does an impersonal god have to do with me, an existing person? Such a god has no more relation to my existence than a stone. It is there; it exists. So what? The god is as indifferent to me as I am to it.

I don’t think that “mind” is as a “part” of God any more than “consciousness” is a “part” of human beings. I would call both of them “emergent properties.”

I come at the question from an entirely different angle. If God exists, he is inaccessible and undetectable by physical means, and logic alone cannot discover his true nature. Therefore, if we are to know God, he must communicate himself to us in some manner. For various reasons, I have chosen to trust the vision of God recorded in the Bible and exemplified in Jesus Christ.


(Mitchell W McKain) #46

Yes this is precisely why I objected to the idea of insisting on attributing simplicity versus complexity to God in the other thread – too easy to make God into nothing at all. To say that God is not composite is something entirely different. God has parts like a mind but these are not parts in the sense that God exists because of such parts, rather it is the other way around these parts have their existence from Him. Not the same as our composite physical existence at all.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #47

To begin with, I’m not a pantheist. The universe itself is not being.

  1. Not necessarily. Religion helps us to understand being and reality better.
  2. We can create a meaningful relationship with God by ourselves through gaining knowledge.
  3. How?
  4. God is not good or evil, God’s morality transcends human comprehension. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are his ways higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.

(RiderOnTheClouds) #48

The context of Exodus 3 suggests that YHWH is unwilling to give his true name.

Because everything that is has to be.

I still argue a simple explanation is needed for the universe, to prevent the first cause from having ontological causes in itself


(Marvin Adams) #49

If you try to persuade “the Germans” your problem sounds more racial than theological but I can ensure you there are plenty of Germans that have no problems with the bible. You problem is more that you seem to live in an affluent society and it is old wisdom that your wealth becomes a problem when trying to make your way to heaven.
The problem that those people will have with the God picture presented to them is the logical incoherence commonly presented as a personal God that is supposed to change reality for them by miracles like if he would be big Santa. If you want to convince sceptics about God that come from an intellectual background you better argue for a logical God and probe the coherence of their worldview as well as inviting them to check yours. This way we all win. The only problem is to get “non-believers” to commit a worldview. After all, atheism is a worldview like non stamp collecting is a hobby.


(Marvin Adams) #50

if a first cause is in need of a cause he is by definition not the first cause. The idea that existence is something that is not an eternal function but that can begin to exist is difficult to argue. It is actually logical incoherent as it would postulate that non-existence exists.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #51

Are you agreeing or disagreeing with me?


(Mitchell W McKain) #52

This is indeed a logical consequence of equating God with ‘being’ itself. But this is atheism not theism. And there is nothing wrong with that. Atheism is a rational alternative. But it is not for me.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #53

I don’t see this as atheism, since it upholds a transcendant, necessary cause to the universe. Though I do admit it is a tad bit more similar to neoplatonism than christianity.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #54

That being said, I did give a quote from the Book of Isaiah


(Mitchell W McKain) #55

This does not follow. I don’t know any atheists who believe the universe does not have a cause. And I don’t see that they would necessarily object to calling the cause necessary or transcendent – why not?

What atheists do not believe and what theists do believe is that there is a all powerful, all knowing, sentient being given the name God who created the physical universe and continues to interact with the universe in order to influence the direction of various developments, such as communicating with people like Abraham. Such a God is not being itself because while the universe and the things within it have being they are not God or even part of God. At most they can have a relationship with God. This distinguishes theism from pantheism which identifies God with the universe (all that exists) itself and panentheism which sees the universe as an emanation of God, like a dream which has no independent existence of its own.


(Marvin Adams) #56

I agree with you on that that God is the essence of existence. That does not deny him personhood as if personhood exists it is by definition part of God.
I do not agree with @mitchellmckain that everything in the universe is not part of God as if God is transcendent he must be existing in everything. If we create something we always put a part of us inside our creation, be it physical or emotional energy. From the word of God one would actually consider that he would have sacrificed himself for his creation as he shown us in Jesus.

It becomes more complicated when people confuse a personal God with their magic Genie that can change reality for them if they pray to him. I believe in a personal God that is the essence of all existence who can change my reality by making me do his will, not in one that does my will whatever I would ask, let alone by asking him to do things for me in the name of Jesus. That would be preposterous.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #57

Where is your evidence? Why would YHWH give Moses the personal Name of God if God did not want to?

Also why would YHWH finish this conversation with:
Exodus 3:15 (NIV2011)*
15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD [YHWH], the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is My Name forever, the Name you shall call Me from generation to generation.

Why would YHWH make the third commandment be about God’s sacred personal Name, YHWH, which God often uses throughout the OT.

You reject the “traditional” exegesis that YHWH is a sentient being or a Person, because you prefer the god of the philosophers. How and why do you call yourself a Jew if you reject the God of the Jews?

It seems to me that you are already worshiping the god of philosophy which created the universe. Logically coherent does not mean that something must be true or real.

[quote=“Reggie_O_Donoghue, post:48, topic:40072”]
Because everything that is has to be .

Not true. Pres. Trump did not have to be elected. Sin does not have to be.

YHWH is not a “Cause.” YHWH is the Creator.


(Mitchell W McKain) #58

Why would the infinite creator of the universe have a name? Names are for things and entities which are one among many and God is hardly that. Moses’ question came from a human reality that the gods people worshipped were many and largely the product of their imaginations. Why would God want to be compared with these?

You have a lot of company on that one. Einstein for one. He made it clear that He did not believe in a personal God. His God was effectively science or ultimately the universe. But let’s call this what it is, pantheism. And it is really not very different from atheism.

God certainly provide the energy for what He created. And to be sure there much of God in creation in the same sense as we see the character of an artist in what the artist makes. But the art is not the artist in a literal sense. The artist is a creator because the art has its own separate existence from the creator and can have a history of relationships with other people and times quite apart from the artist.

An artist does not sacrifice himself for his creation only spends his time and energy which he has to spend on something anyway. It only gets close to personal sacrifice when what you are creating is alive as in the case of a parent, who not only has to alter his life to accommodate a new being with a life of its own, but because the new life makes its own choices and things don’t just depend on the choices of the parent alone anymore. At the very least this is a sacrifice of control.

Since I have explained that the proper fear of God derives solely from the fact that He cannot be manipulated, I clearly don’t fit into the “God is a magic Genie” category. In fact, I have often reached a point in discussions where people ask me what is the use of the God I believe in, and I reply that if they are looking for utility then God is the wrong place to look. Any effort to make God into something useful is likely to result in making the word “God” into a tool rhetoric for the manipultion of others.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #59

I call myself a Noachide, not a Jew, since I am not Jewish. Anyway, I don’t reject the God of the Jews, I try to reconcile it with the God of the philosophers

Not what I meant. By be, I meant exist

Why is a cause not a creator?


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #60

There are two definitions of being Jewish. One is ethnically, which means bei9ng born of an ethnically Jewish mother, and the other is religious, which means worshipping the God of the Mosaic Covenant.

My point is that you say that you try to reconcile the God of the OT with the god of the philosophers, but cannot be done. They have nothing in common.

You say you have started out with the God of Noah, but you have ended up with the god of the philosophers, which is no god. God is not God unless God is God. I AM WHO I AM. That is why YHWH is Who God is.

Donald J. Trump exists as President of the USA. Is that necessary or not?
Dinosaurs ruled the earth at one time, but now are extinct. Do they have to exist? Do they exist?

Causes do not create. Causes do not think. Causes so not create ideas. Causes do build houses. Causes so not create something out of nothing. Creators create science, philosophy, and theology.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #61

They needed to be to happen.

I meant a creator is a cause?