Saturday, October 15, 2011

One Conclusion from Two Versions

One of the criticisms frequently leveled at Atheists is that we simply don't understand who/what God is. I say this assessment is bullshit for two reasons. I would argue that atheists in general have spent far more time and effort analyzing the God concept than the average theist. I also have observed that even those theists who have come to realize there are two main versions of the God concept tend to mix them together without realizing they are doing so. Two recent articles on Huffington Post seem to have had this unacknowledged amalgamation at their center. Both "Killing the Church by Denigrating the Immediacy of God" and "'God Is': From Biblical Literalism To A Mystical Understanding of God" seem to imply that one of the biggest problems in religion today is that not enough people think in terms of an abstract version of God.

Personally, I would love to see theists move in that direction. It would put people one step closer to giving up the absurd concept entirely. When you exam the more abstract version it becomes clear that it is just as contradictory and is even more irrelevant to our lives. Once you move away from the personal/scripture based God the question should arise; what are you worshiping and why? It can no longer be a who. The most common construct of this abstract God is easier to define in terms of what it is not rather than what it is. For that reason the simplified definition is the most useful. If God is accepted as Perfection and the Eternal you immediately run into all manner of difficulty with virtually every other religiously based concepts. If God is an abstraction it can not be a Being. All entities have a mind. Since all minds are generated by a physical brain it is not an abstraction. In this way God can not consciously do anything. God can not have intentions and did not actively or knowing create anything. It is also impossible to see rationally how an abstract can physically intervene in our reality.

Critics who insist they are following a more sophisticated abstract God are really mixing different versions. They refuse to reevaluate the possible roles/functions of God in light of what a purely abstract concept entails.
It is clear that they are doing so since most of these "modern" theologians still endorse the standard rites and rituals of their chosen religion. Why? Even if you assumed God has a mind, as an abstract that is highly unlikely, God being perfection itself leaves no room such notions as free will. Everything is exactly as it has to be or else perfection is a myth. No mistakes or corrections/alterations can be tolerated. It is also, for argument sake, not likely that religious practices have any bearing on anything. How could they? Such practices can not have an impact on anything since everything is exactly as it has to be. Also, assuming God has a mind and is perfect and all powerful God would have to be aware of precisely what an individual's thoughts, feelings, and intentions are which makes such actions redundant at best.

Critics of atheists have always projected their own misunderstandings on us. This is nothing new. It is to some degree amusing that when they talk about our lack of insight that they then get angry (another accusation falsely projected on us) when we challenge them to demonstrate their own insights. They have a tendency to quickly shift definitions and rationalize the inevitable inconsistencies and contradictions. The truth is that the level of thought involved in analyzing the God concept among theists has never gone beyond the superficial. I have yet to encounter any philosopher or theologian among theists willing to follow the God concept in either of its two main versions to its logical conclusion: a construct that ultimately has no relevance to reality.

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