Afterthoughts on Recent God Post

Posted by cksawyer 4 years, 5 months ago to Philosophy
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The recent discussion around religion, God, spirituality and Rational Philosophy was extraordinarily thought-provoking for me. Thank you to all who participated.

I have given much thought over the last 25 years to reconciling the meaningful and practical spiritality I choose to make of central importance in my life with my deep grounding in Objectivism and related thought.

Inspired by the recent discussion I have made and attempt to streamline and essentialize the framework I have come to (as of today...ever-evolving).

I want to share it here, and humbly request response, feedback, support and challenge. I believe it contains some good quality thinking. You tell me:

GOD

At any rate, how to streamline and essentialize this...? Ok, I define God as capital R Reality, as a whole in it largest all-inclusive sense. All-that-is. Not each part, process and subset thereof, but EVERY part, process and subset thereof, taken as the single fundamental greatest Unity.

In my spiritual practices (everything I do to build, maintain and grow my relationship with God = my spirituality), I consider 2 aspects of God.

One is what I call Presence, which is the very quality of Beingness which pervades and is shared by Everything That Exists. Through meditation and prayer (not in the traditional sense of that word) and other spiritual practices, I can feel and connect to that infinite reservoir of power and energy to recharge and turbo charge myself to rise above and perform beyond my own finite store of power and energy.

The second aspect is Grace or Spirit or Flow, as you will. This is the intricate field of interlocking beginningless and endless causual connections - The Way of Things. This is where I seek guidance, data and direction beyond my finite store of knowledge and understanding and my limited capacity for wisdom, insight, forsight, intuition and creativity. It is the realm of everything that I don't know that I don't know. It is where what I need to know - when I need to know it, to live at my peak performance and direct
my actions and my life optimally - unfolds as I need to know it in every next Emerging Reality. (My job is to pay attention [LOVE that phrase!], let go of the best-guess snapshot in my head of how reality should be, and continually integrate that data into my ever evolving strategies and next steps.


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  • Posted by $ CBJ 4 years, 5 months ago
    "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" -Occam's Razor

    Everything you are attempting to achieve in your "spiritual practices" can be accomplished without any reference to "God". To add this term is unnecessary and likely to confuse your listeners, most of whom are likely to define "God" conventionally as a supreme being existing outside of (and controlling) normal matter, time and space.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      You are right. Occam's razor is what I was referring to when I said "logically unnecessary."

      And clearly, even though I clear start out stating that I am going to operate from non-conventional definitions and then give them, only a few people have been able, around such an emotion-laiden subject, to put aside the conventional ones as a thought exercise and consider the alternatives I provide.

      As I said, my purpose in trying to work with these words had been more of a kind with poetry, in selecting words to use that bring a desired psychological impact, knowing that the use is strictly figurative and metaphorical.
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      • Posted by $ CBJ 4 years, 5 months ago
        Fine, but don't be surprised if the words God, beingness and prayer evoke somewhat different metaphors and psychological impacts here than the ones you are attempting to achieve. In many cases these are words we actively avoid when presenting our philosophy to others.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
          I got it. Used to be that way.

          Hoping in AS, formerly IoS (as opposed to ARI), to find some open-minded dialogue vs argumentative debate (nothing wrong with that, but get that all day long from non-Objectivists. I hold us to a higher standard).
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          • Posted by GramofAncapisce 4 years, 4 months ago
            Hoping in AS, formerly IoS (as opposed to ARI), to find some open-minded dialogue vs argumentative debate (nothing wrong with that, but get that all day long from non-Objectivists. I hold us to a higher standard).

            Somehow, "open-minded dialogue" is somehow of more use or perhaps better in some other quality than debate?
            I would agree that debates that become heated and inflammatory are certainly less productive discussions. However, debate format where someone puts forth a claim, and others challenge that claim, exposes ideas to a much more rigorous process of refinement than vague sharing of information without clear definitions of terms or natural inclination to avoid criticism.

            Poetry is surely an enjoyable aim, but artists/writers are most worth reading when their words are used to convey meaning in a deeper/funnier/insightful way. Forgive me if I come on strong, but I had a hard time relating to your initial post because the meaning of your words are unclear. For example: "I can feel and connect to that infinite reservoir of power and energy to recharge and turbo charge myself to rise above and perform beyond my own finite store of power and energy."

            I'm a chemist by trade and understand words like "energy" differently than you. How can anyone "turbo charge myself to rise above and perform beyond my own finite store of power and energy"? What is this energy store? How can it charge you above your capacity?

            Can you expand upon the second aspect you mentioned?
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      • Posted by conscious1978 4 years, 5 months ago
        CBJ makes some excellent points. It seems you are trying to force square pegs into hexagonal holes.

        Repackaging existing concepts (like Existence) into poetically palatable words doesn't create clarity. In contrast to the existing words you've set aside, you've taken words with deep history of mysticism and tried to apply them to their philosophical opposites. Why? What clarity is achieved...even poetically?

        The psychological impact is confusion...amid emotionally charged words.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
          The psychological impact on me is immensely helpful - much like the use of certain words or phrases in poetry or stretches of the imagination in Scifi/fantasy fiction. I may enjoy the experience of them, but give them cognitive or intellectual or decision-making weight.
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  • Posted by $ puzzlelady 4 years, 5 months ago
    Ayn Rand defined God as a word or concept to simply mean "the highest good". Humans' more complex minds with their abstract thought systems that go from a premise (I call it the singularity or origin point) to an open-ended continuum to infinity, and the ability to improvise invented explanations for the unknown, led to inserting a wild card into trying to understand existence itself.

    Seeing our own creativity and intelligence in designing anything we use in our lives crossed over into positing a super brain in creating everything around us in the Cosmos. At the hypothetical infinity terminus it is thus conceptualized as infinite (omni-present), everlasting (immortal), all-powerful (omnipotent), all-knowing (omniscient)--all the things we limited mortals aren't but aspire to be. And that allows us to say "God only knows" where we fall short, and ascribe to God anything we don't understand.

    Once having personified the unknown into a character endowed with consciousness and will--an extension of our own living attributes--we also endowed it with the best and worst personality traits, like fatherly love but also anger, vindictiveness, jealousy and a demand for total obedience. We romanticized it as the creator of everything that demands our worship. And for thousands of years this notion clothed in powerlust has enslaved mankind's mind and heart (intellect and emotions) in endless conflict and misery and wars over whose God is the real one. From an abstract metaphor we have made it into a belief in an actual entity.

    Our conceptual faculty, that works so brilliantly in every other area of living and building and producing and advancing and understanding and creating, on this one point hangs from a skyhook the idea of a mysterious, invisible creator that somehow exists outside of our known space and time and must have pre-existed the beginning of the Universe and of existence itself.

    The energy that pervades the Cosmos, the reality that encompasses all that exists, the natural causes that our science has identified, are all ascribed to and encapsulated in that one notion, God. What a concept! And our own built-in striving for self-preservation and continuity thus posits a survival after death, an immortality in some other realm, an ascent to “heaven” and return to the creator.

    But wait for it. So if God is the highest good, there must also be its antithesis, the greatest evil, personified by Satan or Lucifer or the devil, who likewise contends for the hearts and minds of these humans—two cosmic forces evenly matched and locked in an eternal contest.

    These, then, are the symbols of what is relevant only to living things: values--that which supports life or endangers it. The knowledge of good and evil is possible only to a conceptual being, namely mankind’s highly evolved and still evolving brain. It has turned a fantasy tale into a belief that can operate only by disconnecting the critical faculty and substituting “faith”. Yet faith is the mind-killer, the voluntary abdication of rational thought.

    It’s like the microbe that infests an ant’s brain and makes it climb to the top of a blade of grass in order to be eaten by a cow in whose stomach the microbe fulfills its own life replication cycle. It is fascinating to contemplate how the God virus (see the book of that title by Darrel W. Ray) and the God delusion (see the book of that tiitle by Richard Dawkins) have infected humanity, and not in our best interest. Faith shuts down inquiry and makes questioning itself a sin or, in extreme cases, heresy punishable by death.

    Yet our evolving minds have found answers to many of the Universe’s previously unknown aspects, from the laws of physics to life’s dynamics, and will continue to gain understandings about both the outer Universe and the inner workings of our brains. If we find someday that we are actually carriers of some cosmic power, little relay stations of some universal intelligence, we will then at least know and understand it as fact, not just believe and fantasize in a fear-induced haze.

    At some level of enlightenment we may yet reach the point where ideas (memes) will not manipulate us into mutually destructive behaviors; where individually and cooperatively we can reason our way to a life-enhancing modus vivendi and our evolution itself may reach the stars. Then we shall become like the gods we once imagined. Let us not impede that path with skyhook fables.
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    • Posted by GramofAncapisce 4 years, 4 months ago
      Your post has been contemplated for the last 30 minutes and has helped me integrate some enlightening recent study on epistemology. I particularly enjoyed your connection between God's characteristics and man's unattainability of such.

      Man wears happily his blindfold to reality since Plato's cave.. and will remain until some large-scale evolutionary selective pressure backs homo sapiens to a corner, where only those who accept that A=A will survive and allow man to reach his full potential.
      Here here! to tearing down skyhook fables.
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    • Posted by $ Dobrien 4 years, 4 months ago
      +1 Kate the puzzle lady. Very articulate , it is one reason to love this site, reading well constructed view points from intelligent contributors. I really liked your explanation "from an abstract metaphor we have made it into a belief in an actual entity"
      Just an exceptional example of an enlightened participant.
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    • Posted by $ Maritimus 4 years, 5 months ago
      Dear Puzzlelady,
      Thank you so much for this. I find it simply awesome. You wrote the most articulate, succinct and clear summary on this subject that I have ever found. Perhaps I am not a good searcher. So be it. What you described so beautifully is what I have been convinced of being the truth for decades. If only I had the ability to articulate it so well. I do not envy you. I admire you. Thank you! THANK YOU!!
      Most sincerely,
      Maritimus (a.k.a. - to family - silly deda)
      P.S. In my mother's tongue, deda means grandpa)
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      • Posted by $ puzzlelady 4 years, 5 months ago
        Wow, Maritimus, thank you for this best compliment ever. It touches me deeply. I did write it to be read and understood by a mind like yours. It is the clearest, briefest and simplest that I have ever been able to pull it all together. Feel free to use it as you need. Just spell my name right in the credits: Kate Jones (aka puzzlelady).

        So, what is your mother tongue? Mine is Hungarian.
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        • Posted by $ Maritimus 4 years, 5 months ago
          You are very much welcome.
          Last few generations of my mother's family lived in Belgrade. They were all Serbs. My father's family are Serbs from Dubrovnik.
          I will certainly always give you credit. Goes without saying.
          Best wishes.
          Sincerely,
          Maritimus
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  • Posted by ProfChuck 4 years, 5 months ago
    Every scientific advance reveals that reality is not only complex it is vastly more complex than our ability to model even its behavior much less the underlying mechanisms. What we do see, with increasing clarity, a fundamental process where simple systems combine to form more complex ones. Given the resources available in time, space, raw materials and energy it suggests that non only anything can happen but that everything must happen. In this sense the cosmos appears to be a vast self organizing system. Now whether this can be considered a form of intelligence is more of a metaphysical question than a scientific one. In any case it opens the opportunity to consider that the behavior of reality follows a set of rules and that these rules lead to increasingly complex structures and systems. A.C. Clark observed "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It may also be the case that "Any phenomena that is indistinguishable from intelligence IS intelligence." It's kind of a variation on the Turing test. It is a big leap to consider that the cosmos its self is intelligence because among other considerations we would need to revisit the definition of intelligence. Regardless, it should be a subject of study and understanding rather than veneration and worship.
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  • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 5 months ago
    The response can only be one of two: Either you don't get Objectivism or just GobbelyGook.

    This continual effort by many to marry religious belief with fact and reason based Objectivism, regardless of how flowery the language, is simply emotionally caused fear of reliance on self. Self doubt indoctrination.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      That's not a challenge; that's simply name calling.

      So what part of connecting deeply and totally with Reality on all levels and striving passionately, intellectually and intuitively to align every aspect of my self and my life with it occurs to you as irrational?

      What is irrational (and highly ineffective) is reliance on self without regard to as full an integration with the widest context Reality as is possible to me.

      That endeavor, perhaps the most important one we undertake as going human concerns, is not to be taken for granted or approached lightly. It is a discipline - and takes work, practice and a highly-developed set of skills.
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        Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 5 months ago
        ck: In your post you state " and humbly request response, feedback, support and challenge." I simply gave you a response as you humbly requested, though that quite obviously was not what you meant or hoped for. Whether you consider it a challenge or not is far from the point. The point is that you reference your spirituality = God, and do so after you express a "deep grounding in Objectivism and related thought". Objectivism deals with reality that can be sensed or inferred through the five senses of any and all human men, and with reason can be integrated as knowledge based on reality (that which exists whether you do or not).

        Your discussion of your spirituality necessarily means that you consider your self not only as a corporeal entity, but also connected to a spirit, (whatever that is). You or any other human that has ever existed or currently does so can not point to, illustrate, nor show the repeatable measurement of anything that is a spirit, regardless of your convolution and conflation of words and thoughts, what you term as "some good quality thinking". Objectivism begins with the principle that Existence exists and A=A. Nothing in that principle accepts or allows for something termed as spirit.

        If you fear or doubt your abilities as a human and feel that you must " feel and connect to that infinite reservoir of power and energy to recharge and turbo charge myself to rise above and perform beyond my own finite store of power and energy.", quite obviously you have not understood the principles or anything else of Objectivism.

        God, spirituality, infinite reservoir of power and energy can not be married with nor adjusted to fit within the philosophy of Objectivism. There are no contradictions in Objectivism, only those that have self doubt and a fear of Individualism.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
          Thanks, Zen, but I am not sure why you are responding from what seems to be a hostile and emotionally charged place. I am operating from the belief that this is a collaborative, friendly and constructive exploration of ideas and conversations among folks with common intersests.

          And yes I agree with most of what you wrote, which why I proposed some alternate definitions from the ones you are using in what you wrote.

          It seems a waste of time to change someone's stated operating definitions and then proceed to argue eloquently (if not heatedly) against things they are not actually saying or implying or agreeing with in the least.

          I offered redefinitions in order to rescue some concepts from traditional religion. I believe that there are valid and useful meanings to them that can serve a well-lived life.

          But you just took my writing and changed every definition I gave for the words God, spirituality etc back to the irrational definitions that they have been given by mystics and supernaturalists.

          Then you presented all the reasons that I have that have required me to redefine them in order to develop a rational secular spirituality (much like Rand redefined "sacred" to reclaim a meaning that she frequently like to use).

          I know it is hard to do, but if you don't grant common premises such as spirituality and mysticism are inherently connected or God must be a supernatural being or spirituality is only the domain of religion, then you can begin to look at some of these things differently than "they" would have see them. This is very like what has been do to concepts like rights and capitalism in the social/political sciences.

          So again, if you start from and stay with the definitions I propose as you read through what I wrote, you can avoid imputing to my statements, and then working to disprove, meanings that they only have if you use go back to the definitions that I take issue with in the 1st place.

          I think we are more in alignment than you are allowing yourself to see here.

          Cheers
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          • Posted by Lucky 4 years, 5 months ago
            ' we are more in alignment than you are allowing yourself to see here. '

            Include me out.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
              I wish you well. Truly.

              And I hope you can learn to open your mind a bit longer to explore for clearer understanding an idea which prima facae appears disagreeable to you before dismissing it out of hand. You have nothing to loose and can still disagree in the end.

              I have greatly accelerated my learning and growth as I have practiced that approach.
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          • Posted by Zenphamy 4 years, 5 months ago
            ck; I admit to a certain antipathy to your ideas and your attempts to 'redefine' words, terms, and the concepts behind them. I think AR said it best: "Definitions are the guardians of rationality, the first line of defense against the chaos of mental disintegration." “Art and Cognition,” The Romantic Manifesto, 77 That statement of her's adequately describes and informs my reaction to your post and your stated intent.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
              I get that totally Zen. And if we are talking about words that rationally defined real entities, then I wouldn't touch them.

              But much like the current commonly accepted irrational mis-definitions of concepts such as rights, capitalism, logic, selfishness, etc., some words need to be resucued from such abuse and reasonably reattached to real things. That is why I feel justified reworking definitions of God, spirituality, etc.
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        • -1
          Posted by Wanderer 4 years, 5 months ago
          Does most of this discussion deal with things found in "The New Intellectual?" I started it but, lost interest and gave it up. I think I find Objectivism too obvious to be interesting.

          I find Rand's fiction much more compelling than her philosophical writings. I think that's how we're wired. It may have to do with mirror neurons; when we see something dramatized, we put ourselves in the place of the character we're watching. Thus, the image of grieving mothers at Newtown is much more powerful than the actual statistics which show gun ownership reduces violent crime rates.

          I haven't studied it but, I suspect dogs have mirror neurons and cats don't. Your dog reads your moods and understands you. Your cat doesn't care.
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          • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
            Thanks for your reply. I agree about the power of fiction and stories, but I am not sure how your reply relates to the topic. Have I missed something?
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            • Posted by Wanderer 4 years, 5 months ago
              I was asking for your Rand source for the topic. Are her thoughts on god published in "The New Intellectual" or in another one of her books? I have a copy but, lost interest before I finished.
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              • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
                I don't have a Rand source I can quote, but Rand does an eloquent job of refuting the concepts of God that have been offered historically - namely mystical and supernatural beings. But she seems to have lumped all concepts of spirituality into those ideas of God as a package deal and just left the subject there.
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                • Posted by $ allosaur 4 years, 5 months ago
                  I was a "Doubting Thomas" about spirituality until four young men and I entered a nice looking abandoned house reputed to be haunted one night in Sarasota, Florida, way back in the late 60s.
                  No, we had not been drinking and none used drugs.
                  The house had a second floor where we all began to hear voices that came and went (most sounding like it came from downstairs) and I and one other saw the same something looking back at us from a doorway upstairs.
                  No, it wasn't some prankster in a sheet. I saw the human-looking outline of a head and shoulders that cocked its head as if inspecting us. Then it faded.
                  There were only the five of us in that house. We left within an hour due to most losing their nerve.
                  I was more scared going in. When I saw what I saw, a rather pleasant thrill ran through me. Can't explain that or why I had then lost my fear.
                  But would I have stayed in that house by myself?
                  No, no, no, no! Not me. I had not lost that much fear.
                  This is my one and only ghost experience ever.
                  I must admit to a regret of never having seen a UFO.
                  I do have a brother who thinks he saw a UFO that was also in the news at the time
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                  • Posted by $ Suzanne43 4 years, 5 months ago
                    Interesting to say the least. Did you ever do any research to find out who had lived in the house?
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                    • Posted by $ allosaur 4 years, 5 months ago
                      After reading your reply, I made my first attempt ever to research that house. Remember this happened back in the 60s when there were no PCs and for me what happened just became an anecdote should someone want to talk about ghosts or strange places.
                      I spent one whole semester at the Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota before I decided I'd rather go to Troy State in Alabama.
                      I recall four dorm friends and I (and now I'm thinking there may have been one other guy) walked south along a four-lane by the school and turned onto a street where a houses faced a slim body of water with houses on the other side.
                      According to Google Maps, that would have to be Sylvan Drive with houses that faced Whitaker Bayou.
                      I don't think that house is there anymore. It had a Spanish-looking reddish tile roof that looked like that (I think) on Al Capone's mansion in Miami.
                      It was very sturdy with concrete floors and brick walls and wide open with doors and window frames all gone.
                      What spot? Can't remember. Another house may be there and I'm not sure if I can see a shadowy clearing between trees.

                      https://www.google.com/maps/@27.35421...
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                      • Posted by $ Suzanne43 4 years, 5 months ago
                        Not knowing anything about the house, the map was interesting but not helpful. There must be records of the house and who lived there someplace in Sarasota. You know, you might try your local DAR or SAR chapter. They might be able to give you a starting point.
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                        • Posted by $ allosaur 4 years, 5 months ago
                          I took a nap but instead of really sleeping I kept running the location of that house around in my mind. We did not have to walk very far down Sylvan Drive to reach the house in question.
                          So when I sat up from my very light snooze I was certain that house used to be in that green area.
                          It had to have been completely torn down with all the rubble removed and greenery has had plenty of time to cover up the bare spot.
                          I also remember that the second floor we were on was kinda different. Instead of a hall there was a wide open space with maybe three rooms lined along its east side. The guys and I sat in a circle in the open area facing outward so as a group we could see in every direction at once.
                          A guy named Irving and I had an eye on that door where we both saw the described movement at the same time.
                          As for learning the history of that house, which I'm pretty sure is long gone, old dino just doesn't feel enthused. Sorry. That sounds like a lot of bother with no perceivable reward.
                          May be retired but I have other interests I do not want to be distracted from.
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                          • Posted by $ Suzanne43 4 years, 4 months ago
                            Ah, no ghost busting for you. Can't say that I blame you for wanting to spend your retirement doing more interesting things, like maybe taking naps.
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                            • Posted by $ allosaur 4 years, 4 months ago
                              Just woke up from a nap. My son and I ate at a Chinese buffet due to the power being out all morning. Came back sleepy.
                              As you can see below, I did do enough research of old aerial photos to see there used to be houses along the bayou that are no longer there.
                              But check this photo out. In 1948 there was nothing there. The most recent and only color photo shows new houses or at least buildings of the 1957 photo completely gone, including my "haunted house." That strikes me as far more unusual than that sailboat marina or whatever it was going out of business on the opposite shore.

                              http://www.pbase.com/pzo/image/146777....
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                              • Posted by $ Suzanne43 4 years, 4 months ago
                                I wonder if ghosts relocate.
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                                • Posted by $ allosaur 4 years, 4 months ago
                                  Maybe they relocate to get on those ghost hunter and paranormal activity reality TV shows.
                                  At the end you'll see them meet and talk of voices caught on recordings and of stuff mysteriously moved from one spot to another..
                                  So do you see any news stories that scream of a spirit world being scientifically proven?
                                  Not unless it's on the front of those grocery store rags near the checkout counter.
                                  Even the bulk of straight news reporters are not paid much. I know that for having been one for 7 years.
                                  Ghost hunting does not pay unless you are a comic movie star.
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                                  • Suzanne43 replied 4 years, 4 months ago
  • Posted by bassboat 4 years, 5 months ago
    It takes faith to believe in God, without faith one will continue to have an emptiness that never fulfills one's quest for peace. There is an answer.
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    • Posted by jconne 4 years, 5 months ago
      As one contemporary of mine says. Faith is like an ice pick to the brain. How's that for direct and dramatic?

      Objectivism is a philosophy that provides much more useful tools for thinking and is much more respectful of people's rights and responsibilities as a sovereign individual.
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  • Posted by jconne 4 years, 5 months ago
    @cksawyer - I appreciate your intention but question your accepting the theist's term GOD.

    Rand reclaimed "selfishness" because it captures something we have no other good word for and it exposes the corruption of conventional use of that term - deserving a formal challenge.
    Most people can get the idea of selfish meaning respecting yourself and respecting the same responsibility by all others. And that yield trust and freedom with a proper government securing our rights.

    I see no such argument for the term GOD unless we use it to describe man. After all, god is a concept formed from human capacity for creation of things, knowledge, power and presence, but invalidated by putting the word "all" in front of those valuable attributes.

    I find it easiest to explain to people by asking them what they would think if I answered a question about how tall I am with, "I'm all tall." If they can see the nonsense and contradiction in terms of that, we can then talk about the same flaw in the terms: all powerful, all knowing and all present - omnipotent, omniscient & omnipresence. It's just nonsense dressed up as profound.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      I agree, "all powerful, all knowing and all present - omnipotent, omniscient & omnipresence are all nonsensical terms,(although omnipresence does apply to Existence/Reality).

      They are all based on anthropomophizations of God.

      And yes, the word God as a synonym for Reality is not logically necessary; but as with poetry, I find it useful in my spiritual practices to use it figuratively or metaphorically - remaining aware that I am referring to Existence or the Universe as a whole.
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  • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 5 months ago
    Perhaps Gaia is what you seek. What you describe has little to do with reality and nothing to do with Objectivism. God and Objectivism are entirely incompatible.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      Based on using the definitions of God I reject, you are absolutely correct, and I agree 100%.

      If you actually start with my proposed definition: God is Beingness.

      Beingness is that attribute of Reality shared by everthing that exists and all that exists.

      I refer to Reality considered in its essential characteristic of Totality (the One broadest abstraction, Unity, Allness), putting aside consideration of particulars as per method of definition in Objectivist Epistemology.
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      • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 5 months ago
        Your fabricated terms are gobbledygook. OA describes the method of definition as generalization from particulars to form concepts. I defy you to come up with any particulars from which to generalize. What the hell is "beingness" supposed to.mean. I'm afraid that any additional attempt to converse is useless as we don't speak the same language. You might as well be speaking Urdu or Swahili.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
          Ever stopped to ponder the source of your hostility in dialogues like this? I choose to converse with those who can bring a calm, unemotion-charged respectful form of communication to the discussion. Are you open to doing that?
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          • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 5 months ago
            Oh, yes, I am definitely hostile to anti-concepts such as you propose. Language should be used to clarify and elucidate, not obfuscate and confuse.
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            • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
              Thanks for your comments. I have been there in years past.

              I can't speak for you, but after 40 years of committed and active involvement in Objectivism, when I find myself negatively emotionally overreacting to otherwise calm dialogue and exchange of ideas, it is a clear indicator for me to look within myself to the source of the emotion that is so out of proportion to the stimulus and out of sync with the good will in which the ideas are being offered.

              Great opportunity to grow and strengthen my inner make-up and my ability to manage my emotions and their expression with skill, finesse and grace.

              Food for thought...
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              • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 5 months ago
                I noticed elsewhere that there is interest in Nathaniel Branden's lecture on god. While the audio series appears to be out of print, Branden published the lectures in, "The Vision of Ayn Rand". The lecture on god is Chapter 4. The book is available on Amazon, among other locations. I have the Kindle edition as well as an autographed copy.
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                • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 5 months ago
                  Branden also published a CD containing the chapter called "The Concept of God" via Audio-Forum. This was likely from the original tapes published in the 60s. I got mine through his website several years ago. With his passing, I'm not clear on its continuing availability.

                  I just checked and the CD is not available on either Audio-Forum's site or Branden's site.
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              • Posted by IndianaGary 4 years, 5 months ago
                My reaction to your thread is neither emotional nor "overreacting". I simply find your little rationality invested in your post. It doesn't appear that you have learned much about Objectivism in the last 40 years. If you had you would recognize the specious nature of your "arguments". I might as well be talking to my wall as engaging further.
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                • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
                  Let it go. You are repeating yourself. I have said everything I think bore saying.

                  I do notice that you are getting calmer and more respectful in your communication with every exchange. I appreciate that. Thanks
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                  • Posted by GramofAncapisce 4 years, 4 months ago
                    Ever meet that guy who plays piano but only knows a few songs? He has this ONE favorite song, because, well, he mostly likes the sound of this one particular chord. And so he plays it over and over and over again. However, he could be using that time to practice other things for the sake of broadening his horizons and deepening his mastery in piano.

                    I'm afraid, your favorite chord is "You're hostile and abrasive". I wouldn't mention anything about it, but when i see someone use the same argument as an almost form response to every critical reply, we can see that your favorite chord is getting in the way of you actually listening to the ideas being presented.
                    In debate terms, you constantly focus on the ad hominem and irrelevancies, but your efforts would be better focused on the content those replies.

                    Do you not see that it is intellectually dishonest to use the terms you do, knowing that their interpretation by others will only misconstrue their meaning?

                    Three people so far have told you that your language is difficult to follow. Wouldn't the humble thing be to internalize those critiques instead of defaulting to a defense mechanism? (No offense intended, only challenging ideas.)
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                    • Posted by 4 years, 4 months ago
                      Thanks for your observations and opinions; I can tell you mean well by them.

                      However, if you read all the way back through, you will see that I have acknowledged and appreciated almost all of those and similar criticisms in each instance and have no problem hearing specific responses to specific things I have proposed, when offered with reasons and suggestions. I have remained open minded, even-handed and collaborative in all my responses - even toward those who have not been so with me.

                      I have used the label hostile toward only 2 people - both warranted, if you look - and only when the comments devolve to name-calling toward myself or my ideas or heated sweeping generalities and condemnations or judgements either of me, my ideas or my assumed motives.

                      Debate is one thing. Ranting, label-tossing and disrespectful communication - something else altogether. I enjoy the first and will not accept the latter.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 4 years, 4 months ago
    The question you really need to ask yourself is not what, but why. Why have civilizations throughout humanity's existence derived for themselves the notion of a god?

    Answer: for purpose and value judgment. They seek to answer the age-old question each of us must confront: What is my relationship to everything and everyone else in the Universe. What is my purpose? If I accept that I am self-directed, I accept that my future is mine to control, so what options are open to me and in what timespan? Look at every religion's definition of "god" and it will be tied up in how they see themselves in relation to the rest of the universe.
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  • Posted by rbroberg 4 years, 4 months ago
    I distrust any attempt to define God.

    What is reality? Existence. The sum of existents. Therefore, your definition becomes god is the sum of existents. The sum of existents is finite. Therefore, according to your definition, god is finite.

    Even considering the possibility of an apt characterization, one can still misunderstand that characterization. Allowing for the possibility of erroneous characterizations, one can commit a factual error about god. Since man is neither omniscient nor infallible, does this hold true for his knowledge of god as well?

    The writings above form an idealistic, Platonic understanding of metaphysics, quite unlike the Aristotelian metaphysical model. The last sentence sounds more like the mechanisms of a process control system than an integrated understanding. This is not meant as a slight.
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  • Posted by jconne 4 years, 5 months ago
    I spoke on this thread about ARI and currently running OCON-2016. At 1pm today Greg Salmieri, a brilliant, delightful newer philosopher will be speaking on "Being Objective about Objectivism". Here's the blurb:

    Philosophy is a demanding discipline that requires intellectual rigor and scrupulous honesty, and Objectivism is an especially demanding philosophy. It takes years of disciplined thought to understand and evaluate its principles and to incorporate them into one’s life. And the work continues across a lifetime as one uses the philosophy to keep integrated an ever growing body of knowledge (checking one’s premises as necessary). Join Gregory Salmieri as he discusses how to be objective about Objectivism, including the need to be mindful of which philosophical principles you know to be true, how you know this, and what questions remain for you to answer. He pays special attention to common mistakes enthusiastic students make when approaching the philosophy, and he emphasizes the need for the members of an Objectivist group or movement to respect one another’s cognitive needs and context of knowledge.

    You can get it via Lifestream along with all the other general sessions - 9 in all. They are available live as well as on demand until the end of July.
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  • Posted by Hot_Black_Desiato 4 years, 5 months ago
    I read this a while ago. Cannot remember who said it. But this much is an indisuptable fact regarding God and No God.

    "In the end, when all is said and done, and we all die. One of us will be proven right, the other totally dissappointed. To the Atheist though, it won;t make any difference."

    Edited for typo.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      Cute. But actually, the question of God can stand entirely separately from the question of afterlife.
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      • Posted by Hot_Black_Desiato 4 years, 4 months ago
        Therein is the irony.

        If no god, and you die, who cares, what you leave behin. It is totally irelevant, and from a rational self-interest point of view who cares you recieve no value, your dead with nothing but worm bait and decomposition.

        If there is a god then the concept of post death life or something after death becomes totally relevant.
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  • Posted by coaldigger 4 years, 5 months ago
    I was puzzled, at a very young age, as to what God was and why we needed one. I could never wrap my mind around the subject. The more I thought about it, the less I cared. I am in awe of how humans have evolved and their potential for accomplishment. I am not shocked at their failures and animalistic natures. In the big picture, the trend is towards a creature that is more what we call human but this realization may be realized many millennia in the future. It is a good sign that we can contemplate such and as we replace mysticism with rationality, it will come to be. It is our responsibility, as the most evolved creature to "be God" and the frightening reality of such makes us want to grant it to some supernatural being. It is man that must make mankind and his dealings more harmonious with other men and his environment better, as scary as that may seem.
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    • Posted by GramofAncapisce 4 years, 4 months ago
      "It is man that must make mankind and his dealings more harmonious with other men and his environment better, as scary as that may seem."

      Man has no obligation to making his dealings with others more harmonious... but most of us consider it helpful and pleasant to do so. It's often worth the effort.

      I can't find it scary to think that we as humans have the only potential to make reality work to our advantage. It's an empowering thought, that improvement, advancements and self-betterment are in our hands instead of being placed on the back of a metaphysical scapegoat. Accomplishment by the individual gives life deeper meaning. In this you can relish and lead a fulfilling life.
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    • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 4 years, 4 months ago
      God I will not address all have differeing opinions but as for religion? It's for people who are afraid of the dark - and their shadow. Secular or otherwise. As for iyou leftists. Yoda is not God
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  • Posted by jconne 4 years, 5 months ago
    Related to this whole discussion of philosophical issues and what Rand and Objectivism have to contribute....

    I just watched the Livestream of the first two 10am general sessions from OCON - Sat & Sun.

    I highly recommend them for significant insight.

    They cost $195 for the whole conference worth of general sessions - running through Thursday.

    The first addresses the Objectivist Movement 2.0.
    This is NOT Objectivism 2.0 as they emphasized. But rather its about increasing awareness and appreciation for Rand and her philosophy as an effective movement on a ever growing scale to have significant influence.

    The second addresses issues of "sanctioning" and interacting with other groups to advance the movement in our culture.

    The first defines the terms and gives insight into the goals, strategies, tactics and open issues.

    The second discusses the history of conflicts and the reasoning behind some of them - more openly that in the past. All private conversations are not revealed, as is appropriate, but many issues are clarified.

    The next four: Mon-Thurs. should provide equally informative and enlightening. It demonstrates an approach to the issues - not just conclusions. It demonstrated thinking principles in action.
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  • Posted by starznbarz 4 years, 5 months ago
    "...But it does me no injury
    for my neighbor to say
    there are twenty gods, or no God.
    It neither picks my pocket
    nor breaks my leg." It occurs to me that God is whatever you wish, or want him to be - its a basic personal choice, as long as hes not whispering to you to kill people.
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    • Posted by GramofAncapisce 4 years, 4 months ago
      "...But it does me no injury
      for my neighbor to say
      there are twenty gods, or no God.
      It neither picks my pocket
      nor breaks my leg."

      Faith in something that is not tangible has inestimably impacted humanity in horrible, awful, terrible ways. Whether belief in a God, in a girlfriend who is something she's not, in an authority such as the state... all beliefs in things: not real will, at best, waste time and energy in fruitless efforts, and at worst, promote genocide.

      Just because incorrect thought doesn't itself rob you or break your leg... it plays its role in the mind of the thief and thug.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 4 years, 5 months ago
    my own personal integration of "spirituality" with my
    love of reality is really quite similar. . the only question
    which I Must Answer is "what do I do next?" . that
    requires my complete attention as reality appears
    to me, and my understanding -- as best I can -- of
    cause-and-effect, the natural laws of reality and of
    humankind within it, and an appreciation of the
    harmonies which are possible consequences.
    I stand in rapt attention as reality unfolds, pleasing
    and amazing me with its complexity, beauty, its
    enticing inviting character. . God is the known, the
    unknown, the all. -- j
    .
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      Thank you John. Every word you wrote, without cotradicting any fact of Reality, resonates within and speaks to me spiritually - much like the experience of art (hmmm, very interesting line of thought; I will return to it another time).

      And exactly the right questions...

      I would like to to speak with you more live. You open to planning a phone or Zoom call?

      Let's go to email with this. Kimsawyer@thewealthsource.com

      What say you?
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  • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
    That you all for all your comments, thoughts and counter-arguments. I am having a blast, and learning and sharpening with you participation - all of you.

    I will reread and continue to consider and ponder many of your responses.

    I am definitely getting what I sought in this post.

    I LOVE this stuff!! Onward and Upward.....
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  • Posted by Herb7734 4 years, 5 months ago
    Since I posted the God Question, the contributions seemed like they would never end. Because of your post, I can't help but quote Godfather 3; "Just when I think I'm out, they pull me back in."

    I can see you have given this much thought. The only thing I might suggest from an Objectivist standpoint is that you are trying to reconcile reason with mysticism. Can't be done. However, there is still much in the universe that remains unexplained. In an attempt to do so multiple theories have been put forth by various scientists most revolving around ways to express observations in mathematical form. Just like Einstein created a breakthrough which led to an entirely new aspect of physics, so might there be another such happening either among some of the theories already put forth or perhaps a theory yet to be presented. Much of Quantum Physics is so contrary to what is generally accepted by human senses that mystical qualities are often attached to them.
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      Again, I am not trying to reconcile anything with mysticism, which I patently reject. There is nothing in what I have written that is mystical or implies mysticism - unless you hold to their definitions of words related to spirituality.

      The effort I am try to make is really to salvage some things from these concepts that are of practical value psychologically in the project of living well - by extracting or defining the mystical elements out.
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  • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 4 years, 5 months ago
    I'm perfectly happy and content with the Constitutional approach. No State Religion. Each free to ....in the manner of.... he or she may prefer or not prefer without beint g questioned on the subject. As long as they do not quote it in the context of political debate. It will of course fit in and under the Third Law of Objectivism but that too is mine and mine alone to determine and apply.

    Granted the tenets, beliefs, dogma, ethics, values, and morals of one's background and subsequent education will be brought forth and serve as guidelines if politics is involved. But I will not countenance those beliefs being enquired as part of politics. Gender is obvious, One does not assume otherwise unless volunteered, Race and cultural background the same. Except to determine has the individual put the oath to the Constitution ahead of all else or if not then like a Quaker announced the issue and sought a balance.

    Beyond that I see much greater issues in the balance and one is slection of Supreme Court Jurists.

    But my oath is to the Constitution and those who view otherwise may take their business elsewhere.
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  • Posted by Animal 4 years, 5 months ago
    Sounds like you're aiming at the concept Robert Heinlein summarized with the phrase "Thou art God." (See Stranger in a Strange Land.)
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    • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
      Love that author (not his best work, though). Thanks. I will go back and look at it again.

      In the days when I last read it, whenever I saw the word God or related words, I became so irrationally belligerent and close minded, that I ignored them at best and pulled out intellectual WMDs at worst.
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      • Posted by Animal 4 years, 5 months ago
        If you're no longer overly sensitive about religion, I recommend Heinlein's Job - A Comedy of Justice. It's probably his best piece of commentary on religion in general.
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        • Posted by 4 years, 5 months ago
          Thanks. I have striven not to be overly sensitive to any idea or person - first to observe and consider for fuller understanding before judging and deciding.
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