Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The search for God, the search for spiritual community

My friend Peter Turiansky asked me this question:

> Andrew,
>
> You have spent a good part of your adult life seeking a deity and a faith community that meet certain criteria that have been established by, well,
> yourself. Does it not occur to you that any such god would be one of your own making, and not a real one at all?

I answered thusly:

The search for the community is not the same thing as the search for
God. Truly, I search for a community that shares my understanding of
God, rather than a community to tell me that God something different
than I already experience God as being.

The real question that applies to my own search is: how do we know the
"truth"? Do we need to be told by a traditional or dogmatic (etc.)
religious path, or do we need to find out for ourselves? When I
resist/leave a church, it is usually because the dictated
understanding of God does not compute. Rather than creating God, I
feel I am constantly discovering God, and because that has been
happening (for me) at such a personal level,it is increasingly obvious
to me that theologically I cannot be stuffed into a pre-existing box.

The appeal to Episcopalianism was the openness in terms of individual
interpretation. It seems to me that this is the case among Mennonites
as well, though as I said, there is much I do not know.

This actually addresses your previous question about me being a
closeted atheist. I might as well address that here!

I cannot find the article I mentioned..but it differentiated between
different kinds of belief, and I'm probably not being 100% faithful to
what that writer said, but that isn't really important:

1. Absolute certainty that there is a God, and "I" know that God.
--Strong Theism
2. Absolute certainty that there is a God, but I don't know that God.
--Seeker with Theism (not the right term)
3. It's possible that there is a God, but I don't believe there is.
(Atheistic agnosticism)
4. It's possible that there is a God, and I believe there is.
(Theistic agnosticism)
5. I know for certain that there is no God. (Strong Atheism)
6. We cannot know either way, period. (Strong Agnosticism)

Something like that.

I fit number 4. My understanding of God is very non-specific. I
believe there is a God...and that God may be a neutral energetic force
of creation, or a loving energy, or a potentially personal God, or
whatever.

I believe in afterlife, that science is the study of creation and is
therefore true theology, that scriptures are highly questionable but
potentially inspirational.
Some meandering thoughts anyway. I'm sure I'm leaving a lot still
muddled, but this is God we're discussing, after all.

1 comment:

  1. I have a few comments.

    My position does not appear on the list. I would arrange the list thus:

    Strong Theism
    Theistic Seeker
    Theistic Agnosticism
    Strong Agnosticism
    Atheistic Agnosticism
    Moderate Atheism: the totality of evidence provides good reason to believe that there is no God, though the non-existence of God is not known for certain, e.g., it is not established by a priori logical proof
    Strong Atheism

    (The list is not exhaustive.)

    I am a moderate atheist. The truth of moderate atheism is easier to establish tham the truth of strong atheism, so the absence of moderate atheism on the list might leave readers with the impression that the truth of atheism is more difficult to establish than it actually is, when in fact the truth of atheism is rather easy to establish.

    I think Turiansky's question is somewhat coercive. Turiansky asks:

    You have spent a good part of your adult life seeking a deity and a faith community that meet certain criteria that have been established by, well, yourself. Does it not occur to you that any such god would be one of your own making, and not a real one at all?

    I think this is coercive because it discourages rational thought about God. I believe that if God exists and is worthy of worship, then we must be able to make moral sense of Him. That is, He must satisfy whatever criteria we have for a monotheistic deity. Turiansky suggests that your criteria are merely subjective. Well, why grant that assumption? Why shouldn't you believe that your criteria are objective and that any real god not of your own making must satisfy them?

    ReplyDelete

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