Why think there’s a God? (1): Something from Nothing

Let us start with the universe, the whole thing, the big picture. Why is there a universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? And how did all come about? These are big questions. Philosophers discuss these questions when looking at what is known as “the cosmological argument”.
There are many different ways of approaching the cosmological argument and many ways of stating it, but here is one common formulation:

1. Everything that has a beginning has a cause
2. The universe had a beginning
3. Therefore the universe had a cause

This is a deductive argument so if the premises (1 and 2) are true then the conclusion (3) is true. Intuitively, I think most people would accept the first premise and nowadays almost all philosophers and scientists accept the second premise, so it seems probable that the conclusion is true.

English: WMAP observes the first light of the ...

WMAP observes the first light of the universe- the afterglow of the Big Bang. This light emerged 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Patterns imprinted on this light encode the events that happened only a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. In turn, the patterns are the seeds of the development of the structures of galaxies we now see billions of years after the Big Bang. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A good way to think about this is to try to imagine the alternatives. If the universe did not have a cause then either it didn’t have a beginning or popped into existence from nothing. But the universe did have a beginning. Around 14 billion years ago the universe began with the Big Bang. But the other alternative doesn’t seem particularly likely either. If you can get something from nothing, why do scientists spend so much time an effort looking for causes and explanations? If universes can just pop into existence uncaused then what is there to stop a brand new universe popping into existence in my shoe, say, or in my tea. If you find it just a little bit too unbelievable that the universe just winked into existence without rhyme or reason, then it must have had a cause.

The obvious follow-up question is what sort of cause are we looking for? The universe is space and time; what came into existence at the Big Bang was space and time. So whatever caused the universe to exist, whatever caused space and time to exist, must not exist in space (non-spatial) and must not exist in time (non-temporal) but – and this is the important bit – must also have cause power sufficient to kick off the Big Bang. And if you think about it, there aren’t that many options. If you are the sort of person who believes in abstract objects (i.e. that things like the number 3 aren’t just concepts but have independent existence) then you might identify abstract objects as potential candidates. After all, they are non-spatial and non-temporal. Unfortunately abstract objects don’t have causal power (the number 3 can’t cause anything). The only other available alternative seems to be an eternal and immaterial mind, and that sounds a lot like God.

“Aha!”, the atheist cries, “if the universe requires a cause surely God requires a cause too”. But this would be to misunderstand the argument. The universe requires a cause because it had a beginning (i.e. it is not eternal). But, God does not have a beginning (he is eternal) and so does not require a cause.

So if you can’t get something from nothing (and you can’t) and if the universe had a beginning (and it did) then it seems you need (some kind of) God.

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To be continued

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Additional literature

  1. Where did God come from?
  2. Attributes to God
  3. No good thing will he withhold
  4. Onsterfelijkheid – Immortaliteit
  5. Cosmos creator and human destiny
  6. Why is the age of the universe so different to the age of the Earth?
  7. Bible and Science (2): In the Beginning
  8. Bible and Science (3): Something From Nothing
  9. Bible and Science (4): How Did the Beginning Begin?
  10. Why did God take 6 days to create the universe? Why not do it in 1?
  11. Creator and Blogger God 3 Lesson and solution
  12. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #1 Creator and His Prophets

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From other denominations:

  • The First Cause (christianreasons.com)
    The Cosmological Argument takes the reality of the cosmos to entail the existence of a something that created it.
  • Why the Kalam Cosmological Argument fails, and why it doesn’t matter anyway (freethinkingjew.com)
    There’s no way this amazing world could have come into existence by itself.  There must have been some sort of “uncaused cause” that created the universe.Philosophers have been aware of these sorts of arguments for many centuries, and yet philosophers have, by and large, rejected these arguments.  It’s easy to see why, when even just an average freethinker like me can see where these arguments fall short.
  • The 7 Most Intriguing Philosophical Arguments for the Existence of God (io9.com)
    Nietzsche is famous for saying that God is dead, but news of The Almighty’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Here are some of the most fascinating and provocative philosophical arguments for the existence of God.
  • Allan Gotthelf on Ayn Rand on the Existence of God (maverickphilosopher.typepad.com)
    According to the axiom of existence, “Existence exists.”  Gotthelf takes this to mean that Something exists. (37)  If that is what it means, then it is indeed a self-evident truth.  For example, it is self-evident (to me) that I exist, which of course entails that something exists.  But it is equally self-evident (to me) that I am conscious.  For if I were not conscious then I would not be able to know that I exist and that something exists.  “That one exists possessing consciousness is the axiom of consciousness, the second philosophic axiom.” (38)The first axiom is logically prior to the second.  This is called the primacy of existence and it too is axiomatic though not a separate axiom. “The thesis that existence comes first — that things exist independent of consciousness and that consciousness is a faculty not for the creation of its objects but for the discovery of them — Ayn Rand call the primacy of existence.” (39)
  • The Cosmological Argument: Arguments Put Forward By Copleston In His Radio Debate With Russell (olaleyedesola.wordpress.com)
    The radio debate between Copleston and Russell occurred in 1948. Copleston was arguing as a Jesuit priest with the firm belief that the cosmological argument is a logical proposition that God must exist. Bertrand Russell, on the other hand, was arguing as an agnostic with the belief that not everything has a cause because the whole concept of causes derived from man’s observation of particular things. Therefore, according to Russell, to say that God is the cause of the universe is rather illogical. The debate as a whole was split into two parts: the arguments from contingency and the moral argument.
  • The Cosmological Argument Defined (herose4grace.wordpress.com)
    The cosmological argument is in disguise.  In its premise, it calls on experience to prove the existence of God but in its untainted bounds, it is an argument of reason.  The main point of this argument is the simple premise that something can not come from nothing. It is our experience that dictates this absolute.St. Aquinas proposes the cosmological argument which begins by recognizing certain facts of experience and acknowledges the existence of God to explain these facts.  This argument, therefore claims to be a posteriori, i.e., based on observation and experience as opposed to a priori which is based on reason.
  • Essential Doctrines (Part 1): The Doctrine of God’s Existence (pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com)
    The doctrine of God that needs to hold true for the Christian faith is that of theism. Norman Geisler explains theism as, …the worldview that an infinite, personal God created the universe and miraculously intervenes in it from time to time (see Miracle). God is both transcendent over the universe and immanent in it” (Geisler BECA 1999, 722). Geisler mentions that theism holds that God is both transcendent and immanent. These elements of belief in God are essential to the Christian doctrine. One could prove God’s existence without proving Christianity, but one cannot prove Christianity without proving the existence of a theistic God. Transcendence means that God exists as a separate entity from the universe. In contrast to pantheistic religions, God exists apart from the universe. Therefore, the universe is a creation of God. Immanence describes God’s working within the universe. Deists, like Thomas Jefferson, believe in God’s existence, but do not hold that God works within creation. Creation is like a wound-up clock and is ticking apart from God on its’ own. However, theists understand that God works in creation. God reveals God’s self to human beings (e.g. revelation).
  • William Lane Craig lectures on naturalistic alternatives to the Big Bang (winteryknight.wordpress.com)
    This lecture might be a little advanced for beginners, but if you stretch your mind first, you shouldn’t tear anything.
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    The Big Bang cosmology that Dr. Craig presents is the standard model for how the universe came into being. It is a theory based on six lines of experimental evidence.
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    here’s a re-cap of the three main evidences for the Big Bang cosmology from Caltech.
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    The whole text of the article is posted online here.
  • Storkersen: God and The Big Bang Theory (iegrapevine.com)
    The man who theorized the big bang theory, George Lemaître, was an astronomer and professor of physics at a university in Belgium in the 1920s. In addition, he was a Catholic priest.
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    The fact is that while Lemaître attributed the cause of the big bang to God, it has been distorted over time and the cause has been attributed to matter or nothingness.There are various reasons why these two ideas coincide.
  • Does God Exist?: Trying to See Both Sides of the Question (adamstask.wordpress.com)
    Suppose:1) There exist things that are caused.
    2) Nothing can be the cause of itself.
    3) There cannot be an actual infinite regress of causes.
    4) There exists an uncaused first cause.
    5) The word God means uncaused first cause.
    6) Therefore, God exists.
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    the reason we ascribe to scientific facts some sort of objective and, in a sense, absolute nature is that they are validated by real-world experience; science begins in theoretical postulation, but if it is to be validated it must end in prediction of observations. And in the case of many multi-verse theories or other such theories one is left with only theoretical postulations that are less parsimonious and sensible than God.
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    the properties of God have intrinsic maximums. For instance, one could define perfect knowledge this way: for any proposition, an omniscient being knows whether is is true or false. An omnipotent being can do anything that is logically possible. An omnibenevolent being will always do what is right in terms of maximizing the good.
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    One of the ways in which Swinburne creates a more interesting argument for the case of theism is by rejecting deductive arguments, in the spirit of Cleanthes, for inductive arguments. Swinburne’s overall argument is placed within the setting of confirmation theory. He distinguishes between P-inductive statements, where the premises make the conclusion probable, from C-inductive statements, where the premises confirm the probability of the conclusion or make it more probable than it otherwise would be. 
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Philosophy hand in hand with spirituality

Experiences and Interest in philosophy and spirituality

I think it is wrong to think philosophy can not go together with spirituality. I also think it is wrong to assume that when a person is interested in philosophy, he would not be interested in the spiritual or the religious.

Expérience

Expérience (Photo credit: Saturne)

The world itself presents itself in a succession of pure experiences which we should see. We can either ignore what is going on in the world or look at it question the what and why’s and how’s. Often the human beings can not qualify these experiences in a way by which all would agree with.

Should we not recognise that those things which come along our way are always felt and undergone by our own self, which was constructed by previous experiences and learnings. In a way this may give us always the way of the subjective choice and subjective sense or experience. Each is simply a pure impression that is made upon us at some point in our life, where we do have a certain education or development which shall obey the laws of our state at the moment.

Experiences and Impressions

Reality appears to us first as an unqualified multitude of original impressions that cannot be compared or ordered in anyway without our previous learnings. Is our experience not mere juxtaposition in space and succession in time; an aggregate of utterly disconnected particulars?
Living in this world we can not do without seeing what is happening around us. We can not merely observe the things, and not bring them into thought-relationships.

The things which happen in our lives shall give us our experiences. Those experiences will create senses and shall be our best teacher, experience being the mother of wisdom. To take on any qualities or relationships whatsoever thought or reason must act upon them. It is the process of thought that attributes qualities to pure experiences and relates some experiences to others to build an understanding of the world.

Conscious or unconscious direction with second nature

Our way of thinking or the process of thought should proceed through certain ways be it our conscious or unconscious direction. Our brain should go on working, considering what happened and analysing everything. Probably it shall order everything, classify it. This using some organic laws of interconnection. These laws are part of the world of thought itself and not completely within our control. Pure experience presents itself in a spontaneously emerging stream and thoughts grow out of that experience making it distinguishable to us and situating it in relationship to the rest of experience.

Some do consider the process of thinking not a human activity. We may say that thoughts emerge out of pure earlier experiences and are dependent on our upbringing or rearing and the language we learned, both becoming a second nature.

Out of body experience

Out of body experience (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our religious thinking and being should also become such a second nature. From the Bible we can learn that the ‘soul‘ is not an external element in our being. Many Christians and Muslims imagine there are a good and a bad angel sitting on our shoulders and talking to a soul which can go out of our body when we die. For them this human soul is to be a phantom-like inner being that contains our conscience and moral fibre. It is the element which can let us do good or let us do bad, under influence of other spirits called either angels, for the good ones, and devils, like Satan and Lucifer, for the bad ones.

Breath given by Creator

Those people forget that it was God Who blew his breath in the nostrils of the first man and woman, to bring them to life. The Pneuma or spirit in those first human beings was not something separate from them. It was their breathing, their being itself.

The soul is not a specific element as such but the transcription of the inner being and the thinking which happens by ‘electronic actions’ in our brain and by breathing. Without breathing we shall not be able to give oxygen to our brains by which they will not be able to work, and with a non-working brain we are as good as dead.

You could say that the soul is our “background of our being”. This ‘being’ has to be fed to stay alive. And because it is not a material element it has to find its food in the immaterial. therefore we as human beings should also give food to the immaterial elements of our being, our “body and soul”.

God gave breath to all creation, but the difference between man and the other living organisms is that god has given more power to man. He has received the power to think, to make choices, to make decisions, to give names and to handle like he wishes to do. But all his actions will create experiences, be it nice or bad ones. He shall have the choice to learn from them or to continue his life without learning more from those things that overcame him.

Material and immaterial being and understanding

Like the soul in an immaterial thing, our thinking its coming to understand something is an abstract element. Understanding is “an abstraction which the human mind forms by reflecting on its own thoughts and forms of thinking.” This knowing is a natural product of the process of mind and it is bound up in, and limited by, language. {Coleridge}

Coleridge asserted that it is a process that requires no “self” to enact. It is a natural process of the lawful interaction of mental elements, a simple unfolding of the characteristics of the mind in nature. But I do think we do have a responsibility and we do have the choice and power to have the self to come to understanding.

I believe when we do open our mind to different thoughts we can enable ourselves to learn more. I also believe this is one of the tasks God has given His creation in the Garden of Eden. We can only give the plants and animals name and classify them in groups when we do have the knowledge and skill to do so. This would not require that we all have the same certificate of proficiency or that we may excuse ourselves when it is not in our domain.

Given brains and reason

An illustration of the Cartesian theater, wher...

An illustration of the Cartesian theater, where a homonculus sits in a person’s head seeing and hearing everything that he experiences. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because God has given us brains to use, we should use them. So we should think about matters and question things. This questioning things may fall under philosophy. Today many may say “Reason is a direct product of the reasoning faculty.”, but that is not taking the Creator in mind. He had a reason to place human beings on this earth having a brain to reason. Reason is a direct product of the power of creation, Who Himself is Spirit. God is not a man of flesh and blood, but a Spirit without a beginning and without an end. His breath gave us spirit, making us capable to reason, to become reasonable figures in that Created World.

It is not an “accident” that reason comes to us. Reason is breathed into us by the Creator. Though many may think it is just something what happens accidentally, it is something which is in-breath in our human constitution. It may appear spontaneously without warning or precursor, but it is grounded or part of a growing seed, which can only come into existence when the person is willing to use his brain. It is from all the previous experiences, the teachings a person got, that he or she shall be able to think. Though this would not be possible without the Power of the Most High, the Spirit God. Without Him we are nothing. It is the Holy Spirit Who can give us ‘spirit’ to think about matters and to come to reason. God has implanted ethic thoughts in us. He has created us all in His image, so we all do have certain elements of the Supreme High Being. We do not all have the same elements, but somehow we all received enough elements to become full human being who can think properly and who should be able to find God. The Reason as such becomes Spontaneous Knowing. We all have received the power to get to Knowing. Some may think it is not an understanding that is constructed through any thought process, but they should remember the Creator who build in His creations the possibility to think and to come to conclusions. In our inner being we do have the key to come to understanding. It is the direct and self-authenticating recognition of truth.

Different ways to go giving different opinions

From the beginning of the world mankind questioned the Spirit God and for that reason Jehovah God gave man the possibility to work it out himself. Woman would bear children in pain and would find they all could be different, going their own way or helping each other. All had to make their own decisions and could think their own way. God allowed it to be so.

Because we all went different ways on the paths which lay in front of man, different opinions came into the world, and people could choose between many theses or postulates.

The direct knowing of truth is build in by the Creator and could happen spontaneously and also compulsively. The reasoning faculty is ‘knowing’ itself. It is not a process that leads to knowing. This implies that there is some part of us that simply knows the truth and cannot help but know it. But we are stubborn beings, though we do not want to admit it. We have direct sense impressions – smells, tastes, sensations, sounds and sights – which simply appear in awareness. We don’t call them into being and we cannot alter or avoid the way they present themselves. Ideas and intuitions also – upon their initial appearance – share the same unalterable immediacy of presence.

With this awareness of things, matters and background knowledge, we can hear others and see what others do or create. Seeing what happens in the world we can not ignore the inner language of thought. We can only deny our interpretation of experience, not the fact of having it.

Trying to perceive more knowledge

So we may experience a lot of things in our life, encounter lots of publications and thoughts. By tackling our taste to get more knowledge,we are not going against God His wishes. The opposite I would say. We should learn and we should try to get more knowledge.

With philosophy we may come into the domain of the seekers who search to get more wisdom, knowledge and understanding about reality. Did or do not many philosophers try to get to answers about life and about why and how things are? They do like to offer an explanation of the way things are where spirituality is a description of a position that we as a human being should take in relationship to the way things are.

Trying to become one with self and environment

Experience

Experience (Photo credit: Kaptain Kobold)

In the action of Spirituality a person tries to become One. Bring mind, soul, thinking in unison with his being, material body. By the spiritual action we do want to go to the source from which everything else originates, whilst by the philosophy we want to come to an understanding why and how human being went away from its source and how it can come back to this source again.

While Philosophy is generally in the mental state of consciousness, the mind taking efforts to know, the spiritual would love to come to that Source of knowledge, believing that there exist something more than the material being its consciousness that exist above the mental ranges.

Trying to transcend domain of rationale and intellect

Moral philosophy

Both the philosopher and the spiritualist may be willing to come to knowledge which transcends domain of rationale and intellect. The philosopher not so much concerned by the own individu or individual, person, character, his identity, but preferring to give objective pictures of reality without telling us explicitly (although often they do implicitly) how we should be in relationship to that picture. Even in moral philosophy generally what we get is an explanation of why certain things are right and others wrong. What we don’t get is someone telling us that we should do the right thing. What we do with morality is left in our own hands.

Spirituality resides in higher regions and has much more to do with the own subjective personality. From the subjective point of view the spiritualist tries to go deeper into himself, looking for the realm of truth there and not as such by others. He knows that the soul is in each of us and is inseparable joined together with flesh and blood. In that casing of human flesh there is our way of breathing and thinking, spirit and moral judgment.

Trying to Relate things

We may be interested to see how we can relate to things, and therefore we can look what philosophers do have to say about that. Spirituality wants to go a step further than just knowing how things are related with each other. It tells us how we should be in relationship to the way things are. It can show us how we should react and by knowing what actions we do have to take we also shall be able to choose if we are willing to use such a knowledge to take on an attitude and to build up a religious field. Spiritualities always include philosophical explanations of the world, but those philosophical aspects are the backdrop for the main event which is direct instruction about how to live.

Door to transcendence

Understanding, intellect and the mind is one door to transcendence. From philosophers we can learn a lot, and we should take the opportunity to learn from their writings. But they will never be able to give the full answer. They mostly do not look for The Divine Source. In our normal consciousness people are so caught up with their emotions, sensations and thoughts and their own mind, they get full of themselves in the emptiness of the world. They become so active that there is no room for the Divine. There the spiritual person wants to go against. He wants to have his wondering not taking him to put Him in the chains of life.

No reason to be afraid of philosophy

To see clear
Man thinking on a train journey.

Man thinking on a train journey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Christians should not be afraid that the philosophy would carry people away from the Divine. When this would happen it is because the person is not prepared to sincerely look for the Divine. Often the person going away from religion is because he does not see clear the difference between philosophy, religion, religiousness and spirituality.

The philosopher may have the love and intellectual search for wisdom. The spiritual minded person knows or believes there is something extra in our life than just the knowledge of the material world. The spiritual person does want to find knowledge to come to wisdom, but understands that wisdom is more that putting all facts together. To come to spirituality there must be more than the willingness to come to understand the own being. Besides the willingness to come to get to know the inner-self there is the love and opening of their hearts for the wisdom and the willingness to have it taking part in the relationship with others.

Sister and brother

We should understand that the religious person may like to look into philosophy and at the same time may look into spirituality. The two approaches can marvelously be like sister (heart) and brother (brain) in the process of coming to the point of Being part of the One on one side and then Becoming part of the big thing on the other side – in being active in life.

Relationship of unity and Oneness

So, I would say, do not mind letting philosophy going hand in hand with spirituality and making a person to become religious in the good sense of the word, finding and loving the Only One Who is One and wants us to be one and worshiping the Right One in a relationship of unity and Oneness.

The only thing a Christian should be careful for is that he does not get carried away with human thinking, but keeps himself concentrated on the sacral and spiritual matters, looking for the Most Important Being making our self being possible to be a being, the Only One God, the Adonai Elohim Hashem Jehovah.

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Preceding articles:

Looking for True Spirituality 1 Intro

Looking for True Spirituality 2 Not restricted to an elite

Looking for True Spirituality 3 Mind of Christ

Looking for True Spirituality 4 Getting to Know the Mind of Christ

Looking for True Spirituality 5 Fruitage of the Spirit

Looking for True Spirituality 6 Spirituality and Prayer

Looking for True Spirituality 7 Preaching of the Good News

Looking for True Spirituality 8 Measuring Up

Fruits of the spirit will prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful

How long to wait before bringing religiousness and spirituality in practice

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Additional reading:

  1. A concrete picture of what is to come in the future
  2. Migrants to the West #7 Religions
  3. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  4. Women, conservative evangelicals and their counter-offensive
  5. Lying in the senses in matters of love
  6. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  7. Separation from God in death, the antithesis of life
  8. Fragments from the Book of Job #7 Epilogue
  9. Exceeding Great and Precious Promise
  10. Wondering
  11. Believing to understand
  12. Light within
  13. Let tomorrow be sufficient
  14. Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience
  15. Don’t let anyone move you off the foundation of your faith
  16. Know Who goes with us and don’t try to control life
  17. Know by trying
  18. Knowing where to go to
  19. Think hard before you act today
  20. Disappointed expectations
  21. I Only hope we find GOD again before it is too late !
  22. Put on the whole armor of God
  23. Weapons of our warfare
  24. A call easy to understand
  25. Getting of at the fence
  26. Hope as long as you live
  27. A goal is a dream with a plan
  28. Lying in the senses in matters of love
  29. Be humble like Christ
  30. The way God sees us
  31. Two forms of Freedom
  32. Altar everything in life
  33. Duty of encouragement
  34. Establish Priorities
  35. Luck
  36. Joy: Foundation for a Positive Life
  37. Nothing noble in the flesh left to itself
  38. Determined To Stick With Truth.
  39. Created to live in relation with God
  40. God’s promises
  41. Sow and harvests in the garden of your heart
  42. A love not exempting us from trials
  43. Call unto God so that He can answer you
  44. Life in gratitude opens glory of God
  45. Do not be so busy adding up your troubles
  46. Preexistence in the Divine purpose and Trinity
  47. Immortality, eternality – onsterfelijkheid, eeuwigheid
  48. Dying or not
  49. What happens when we die?
  50. Dead and after
  51. Sheol or the grave
  52. Satan the evil within
  53. Soul
  54. Destination of righteous
  55. Destination of the earth
  56. God’s design in the creation of the world
  57. God His reward
  58. Is there an Immortal soul
  59. The Soul not a ghost
  60. The Soul confronted with Death
  61. The soul has no rainbow if the eyes have no tears
  62. Trust God to shelter, safety and security
  63. God wants to be gracious to you
  64. Invitation to all who believe

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Being Religious and Spiritual 6 Romantici, utopists and transcendentalists

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the previous chapter we have seen that already in the time of the apostles there where teachers who took the focus on Christ Jesus, the Messiah his offering and our personal relationship to our own person, the people around us, Jesus and the Father of Jesus, the Only One God, away. By concentrating more on the institute of the church and putting dogmatic teachings as the obligatory string for the community, the self-development and the role of free choice became a minor point to the acceptance and following of the church doctrines and ceremonials.

By the years there were many influences of several theologians who at their turn looked at different philosophers. More interested in the retrieving of power, the real spiritual matters were often put aside or forgotten. Though in that world of many fraternities there were also people who were greatly respected and widely sought after masters who went out into the hills to escape the hustle and bustle of society. some took refuge in a shed in the countryside, others took up residence in a cave, far away from the clergy their institutions.

Several devout people wanted to escape the authoritarian church and did find Christ had liberated us instead of bringing new chains in to the world.

There are many spiritual traditions, each of which has its own unique language and concepts concerning the nature of the ultimate, the path that must be followed to experience the ultimate, how spiritual realizations are confirmed, the nature of spiritual enlightenment, and the implications of spiritual understanding for ordinary human life.

Lots of people spend their whole lives trying to become an idealized version of themselves that they want to be or of that what their church pictures them that they should become. Not having a found foundation, this causes many to  rebel against their natural chaotic states. Not finding enough background or trustworthy teaching they put endless amounts of energy into maintaining stability, and trying to mold their lives into an ordered state that they themselves find pleasing. In short, what we’re fighting against isn’t poverty, starvation, instability, unhappiness.  Mostly they are fighting against entropy; the tendency for ordered systems to degrade into a chaotic state. They may have lots of energy but can not centralise it, not able to pattern it or organise it they seem to be lost in their own world of chaotic thinking. They may receive lots of information from their church, magazines, but do not manage to channel it in accordance with what they can find in the Bible or other sacred books.

Most people are taking their life, their very essence, for granted as though it’s some permanent guarantee and all others have to fit to their life. Having to adapt to others seem too awkward.

It are always the others who cause pain and make our experiences so difficult.

do think many who are confronted with the feelings of inadequacy, loss of perspective.
They also consider others talking to them as a nuisance. Many do find it an infringement on the privacy when other question their sayings or their actions. Certainly today lots of people consider it their right to say whatever awful words or to insult others who dare to come too close to their own personality. Not many do want to hear the voices of others, and the least of institutions or of those who seem to represent institutions or organisations. Luckily there might be others who are hearing the voices of the people who question their actions, but some might loose than the essence of what it is they are trying to do.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Español: Ralph Waldo Emers...

Ralph Waldo Emerson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wondering what the self is doing demands the question what it would like to do and why it wants to do what. Whilst our society loves ego tripping the spiritual minded person just wants to strip himself or herself from his/her ego. Trying to get into the deeper self it should not be done from some sort of self passion or love for the ego, because then the person would turn round in circles staying in the dark. Like the American essayist, lecturer, and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wanted to find himself outside the traditional religion that had coursed throughout his family for generations, many today are also looking for the self and a place of the self out of the classical or traditional church. This at a time were other just want to strengthen the feeling of being part of a church which wants to hold to tradition and to the old values they remember from their grand grand parents. They forget that perhaps their ancestors just reacted against the corrupted society and its institutions — particularly organized religion and political parties. Strangely enough are there people like Sarah Paling crying we should return to the values of the Pilgrims and the founders of the United States of America.  As a trinitarian either she overlooks or she does not want to see that it were just those people who fled the European ties of corrupted and false religion. Those who came to settle in the United States tried to find new grounds to start all over again, afresh and liberated from all religious chains, but grounded on the teachings of the book they read regularly. Today there are not many people who really take every day time to read some chapters from the Bible. Some politicians do want to restrict other people and get them to believe the same as they believe. Often they already think that everybody believes in the same god and the same values as they do. Several people want to have their religion to become the state religion — ultimately corrupting the purity of the individual, and that is want the peoeple who fled Europe had felt and would be afraid of finding such a repeating system. The ones who fled Europe had faith that people are at their best when truly “self-reliant” and independent. Today, again as in the time of the gnostics and the church of the 4th and 5th century those who do not want to comply with their believes are considered not to be Christians. Those conservative Christians posing their idea of Christianity onto others are also against the spiritual individu, because that person could be a danger for the group.

But the real spiritual person just wants to become closer to the self and wants to liberate himself or herself from the mass or group. The person looking for spirituality often wants to liberate himself from the person looking for a religion. The spiritual person believes to become at his best when he can be truly “self-reliant” and independent. For them it is also clear that it is only from such real individuals that true community could be formed.

Sensations and perception not necessarily are the basic and most important form of true cognition. The ones who came into the New World had learned to struggle, to battle against all sorts of weather conditions, and got to walk on their own feet, working with their own hands but they also wanted now to speak their own minds.

“A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” {1837 speech “The American Scholar}

Again there was a reaction against the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature. Again people wanted, like some would love to see it again today as well, a form of live where the emotions are again of value in a liberated and radicalised environment. A real spiritual person would love to encounter the inner emotions, because they can be considered as an authentic source of aesthetic experience. In romanticism there was placed such new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe and now with transcendentalism liberal thinkers, “agreeing in nothing but their liberality” {Gura, Philip F. American Transcendentalism: A History. New York: Hill and Wang, 2007: 5. ISBN 0-8090-3477-8} could find unity of willing persons to exchange ideas without having to give up their freedom to think differently than the majority, but recognising where in the differences there were/are also like-minded men and women.

Along with Andrews Norton, William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842) was the foremost Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century

Rooted in English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder and Schleiermacher, and the scepticism of Hume, and the transcendental philosophy of Immanuel Kant (and of German Idealism more generally), the transcedentalists movement, intimately familiar with the English Romantics, might have been an American outgrowth of Romanticism. From Unitarianism the transcendentalists took a concern for self-culture, a sense of moral seriousness, a neo-Platonic concept of piety, a tendency toward individualism, a belief in the importance of literature, and an interest in moral reform. They looked to certain Unitarians as mentors, especially the great Boston preacher William Ellery Channing. Theology was in crisis during Channing’s prime. Almost from the beginning there were two warring parties in New England. The Calvinists believed in a jealous God, the depravity of mankind, and the absence of free will. The anti-Calvinists believed in a merciful God, the potential redemption of all mankind, and the existence of free will. As the 19th century proceeded, the fight between the parties sharpened. Channing, after much deliberation, sided with the anti-Calvinists. Channing’s religion and thought were among the chief influences on the New England Transcendentalists, though he never countenanced their views, which he saw as extreme. Transcendentalists came to reject key aspects of the Unitarian worldview, starting with their rational, historical Christian apologetic. Many prominent ministers, reformers, and writers of the 19th century were associated with it, including Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) who was considered the most thought-provoking American cultural leader of the mid-19th century. In Concord he met a prickly young Harvard graduate who became his disciple, friend, and occasional adversary, Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). Among his close friends were Bronson Alcott (1799–1888), George Ripley, and Theodore Parker (1810–1860).  Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) and Orestes Brownson (1803–1876) also associated with him.

Emerson spoke out against materialism (the belief that material or physical things—not spiritual—are the most important), formal religion, and slavery. Emerson spoke of slavery in the context of the Fugitive Slave Law (1850), saying, in one of his rare bursts of obscenity (foul language), “I will not obey it, by God.”
He believed in a reality and a knowledge that rose above the everyday reality to which Americans were accustomed. He believed in the honesty of the person. He believed in a spiritual universe ruled by a spiritual Oversoul (the basis of all spiritual existence), with which each individual soul should try to connect.

A spiritual person should look for those values, trying to be honest to himself in the first place, choosing for those thing he really believes in because he does understands them; and not choosing for dogma’s because others accept them and by not accepting them he would not be able to be part of that group or community. Going to search in one self the person should also try to come over or to deal with human losses and failings. In such essays as “Compensation” and “Experience,” Emmerson tried to suggest how to deal with human losses and failings and in such pieces as “Self-reliance,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Nature,” “The Poet,” and “The Over-soul,” he explained the inborn goodness of man, the joys of nature and their spiritual significance, and a universal god (a god that exists everywhere and belongs to all).

English: A collage of photographs from K Stree...

A collage of photographs from K Street and Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary Schools in Fresno, CA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Various organizations and periodicals gave the Unitarian and transcendental movement shape. The earliest was the so-called “Transcendental Club” (1836–1840), an informal group that met to discuss intellectual and religious topics; also important was the “Saturday Club,” organized much later (1854). Many transcendentalists participated in the utopian communities of Brook Farm (1841–1848; located in West Roxbury, Massachusetts), founded by George Ripley (1802–1880) and his wife, Sophia Dana Ripley (1803–1861), and the short-lived Fruitlands (1843–1844; located in Harvard, Massachusetts), founded by Alcott. A number of transcendentalist ministers established experimental churches to give their religious ideas institutional form. The most important of these churches were three in Boston: Orestes Brownson’s Society for Christian Union and Progress (1836–1841); the Church of the Disciples (founded 1841), pastored by James Freeman Clarke (1810–1888); and Theodore Parker’s Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society (founded 1845–1846). The most famous transcendentalist magazine was the Dial (1840–1844), edited by Fuller and then by Emerson; other major periodicals associated with the movement included the Boston Quarterly Review (1838–1842), edited by Brownson, and the Massachusetts Quarterly Review (1847–1850), edited by Parker. {Dictionary of American History, 2003}

But also in Europe in the 21st century we still can see such a romantic movement going on, or should we perhaps say more an utopist movement like the one political or social reformer, visionary preacher and idealist Marcus Ampe is still dreaming of. He may not be influenced by Asian religions, but the thoughts and ideas he would love to realise are similar as in many of those and older traditions and religions, but very founded on the Torah, the Old and the New Testament, which he considers the most complete guide for the community. For him it is clear that without going into the inner-self, not being in the clear with the self, a person can not come into the clear with God. Those who have (moral)qualms or who did not yet have come to terms with themselves, loving themselves, shall not be able to love others and shall have it difficult to come in front of Christ, loving him and loving his Father, the only One God. Those who have not seen the light in themselves often want to find light in elements of nature and by doing so will create different gods. This can be clearly seen in the writings on many blogs about God and religion. To come to Biblical Truth, people should study the Bible, look at it from the way of thinking in the periods it was written and in the manner of speaking it was written.

The transcendentalists varied in their interpretations of the practical aims of will. Some among the group linked it with utopian social change; Brownson connected it with early socialism, while others considered it an exclusively individualist and idealist project. Emerson believed the latter. In his 1842 lecture “The Transcendentalist“, Emerson suggested that the goal of a purely transcendental outlook on life was impossible to attain in practice:

You will see by this sketch that there is no such thing as a transcendental party; that there is no pure transcendentalist; that we know of no one but prophets and heralds of such a philosophy; that all who by strong bias of nature have leaned to the spiritual side in doctrine, have stopped short of their goal. We have had many harbingers and forerunners; but of a purely spiritual life, history has afforded no example. I mean, we have yet no man who has leaned entirely on his character, and eaten angels’ food; who, trusting to his sentiments, found life made of miracles; who, working for universal aims, found himself fed, he knew not how; clothed, sheltered, and weaponed, he knew not how, and yet it was done by his own hands. …Shall we say, then, that transcendentalism is the Saturnalia or excess of Faith; the presentiment of a faith proper to man in his integrity, excessive only when his imperfect obedience hinders the satisfaction of his wish.

Many churches do not like to have their members to go to deep in their self and questioning the church or community, because this would be seen as a doubting the community and the church as institution. Many churches  or religions impede on the individual coming to individual spiritual development. Any form of religious dogma should be abolished and church should be able to trust on the choice God makes, because it is Him Who calls. The traditional church got afraid that ordinary people could get a simple belief in human moral, in godly and brotherly love and according to the clergy and theologians the common person would not be able to understand the Bible, but that would mean they say God did not make His Words clear for everybody, so He would have not have given everybody the same chance to be saved. God, Who is a God of order and clarity made His Word clear enough for those who are willing to read it and to think about it. In each individual is enough potential and intuitive capacity for discovering spiritual truth. Divinity or having a Godlike character or the state of being divine, lays in man, who is created in the image of God, and nature, and so true religion means seeking the divine in oneself and one’s surroundings. Inward experience was seen as the ultimate path to spiritual satisfaction, and thus the Transcendentalists cultivated a lifestyle that encouraged contemplation, communing with nature, continuing education, and creative expression. Many kept regular journals, which they considered invaluable tools in the process of self-examination.

The spiritual minded person should seek to cultivate the capacity to do good in themselves and others.

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Preceding articles:

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life

Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual

Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people

Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences

Next: Being Religious and Spiritual 7 Transcendence to become one

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Please do read also:

  1. Only One God
  2. God of gods
  3. God is One
  4. Jesus spitting image of his father
  5. Jesus begotten Son of God #8 Found Divinely Created not Incarnated
  6. Jesus begotten Son of God #9 Two millennia ago conceived or begotten
  7. Jesus begotten Son of God #18 Believing in inhuman or human person
  8. Yeshua a man with a special personality
  9. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  10. Not bounded by labels but liberated in Christ
  11. It is a free will choice
  12. A Living Faith #2 State of your faith
  13. Hellenistic influences
  14. The early days of Christianity: Politics and power first priority #1
  15. Politics and power first priority #2
  16. Foundation to go the distance
  17. Re-Creating Community
  18. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures
  19. The imaginational war against Christmas
  20. Nativity scene of the birth of the Bill of Rights
  21. More-Letter-Words
  22. God doesn’t call the qualified
  23. Can we not do what Jesus did?

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Also interesting to read:

  1. The Hermit
  2. Post 4: Entropy pt. 1
  3. Post 5: Sacrifice
  4. Why I chose Emerson

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English: Ralph_Waldo_Emerson_1940_Issue-3c.jpg...

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1940 ssue-3c.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Rewriting History – The History of America Mega-Conference: Part Three, “Religious Liberalism” And Those Magnificent Mathers (homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com)
    Eidsmoe spoke warmly of early Americans who celebrated Christianity. The Constitutional Convention, he claimed, had mostly Christians in attendance and involved God in their work. He dismissed the deist Founding Fathers in attendance as “outliers”. He discussed the message of 18th century preacher George Whitfield, who did much to unite Americans under a common faith, he claimed.Eidsmoe also smiled upon Benjamin Franklin for praising Christian preaching and social endeavors, suggesting that the Founding Father appreciated Christianity. However, I found his portrait of Franklin to lack nuance. While Franklin did celebrate the Puritan virtues of his upbringing and respect preachers such as George Whitefield, he also referred to himself as a Deist in his 1771 autobiography, embraced Enlightenment ideas, endorsed religious pluralism, and spent time at a London Unitarian congregation.
  • Transcendentalism (womenshistory.answers.com)
    Transcendentalists made a distinction between true reason and a merely analytic understanding. They believed that subjective intuition was at least as reliable a source of truth as empirical investigation. They wanted to base their religion and philosophy on principles that were not related to the physical senses. Transcendentalists were familiar with the ideas of the English Romantics. The movement is sometimes described as a slightly later, American version of Romanticism.
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    What is transcendentalism?
  • “Unitarian Universalism” and “Unity” Churches – similarities and differences (ironicschmoozer.wordpress.com)
    Unitarian Universalism (UUism) has been more of an institution-based movement from the beginning, while Unity has been more of a message-based movement, with an extensive publishing outreach that touches people beyond its churches.  Of note is Unity’s “Daily Word” devotional booklet.
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    Both UUism and Unity affirm goodness in everyone and divine love for all.  Both have a diversity of concepts of the divine in their literature and in their congregations.  However, there are very few UUs who like terms like Father or Lord, and Unity is often comfortable with it.
    UUs include many self-describe Religious Humanists–who are atheists or agnostics and don’t respond to God language.  Most UUs, especially Humanists, disagree with the idea that there is a soul separate from the body.
  • 140/365: When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough (makethreesixtyfive.wordpress.com)
    I had chosen not to be confirmed as a junior high student, and my relationship with the church was tentative, though it provided me with such a network of safety, joy, and service.
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    Lillian explain what I have always known: that faith might be personal, but the community of faith is the most important, valuable part of the church. She writes, “Church is a school for sinners, not a club for saints.” In the end, my sin has always been in my faith, in my disbelief. With all things that you are supposed to “just know”, I have struggled: love, faith, life choices. But Lillian says, “I pitch my tent in the field of mystery, and have yet to nail it down,” which I think is a perfect analogy for the journey I’m on now, in all parts of my life, but particularly with spirituality.
  • Spiritual Fathers (krclynn.org)
    calling earthly men “spiritual fathers”.  I hear these words from the mouths of so many carelessly and I always flinch at the sound of it.  Are we to have mentors and people that we look up to in the church to point us to Christ?  Absolutely!  Do we need men and women of God to give us words of direction and minister to us when we face problems in different areas of our life?  Absolutely!  The problem is that the term “spiritual father” is not found in scripture nor is it supported.
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    Did we forget that Jesus is the head of the church and the chief apostle?  Did we forget that God qualified Jesus as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him – Hebrews 5:9.  Although there are more mature Christians than us and have more knowledge of scripture than we do, No Person has no more holiness than the average Christian and is not entitled to be called “these exaggerated names.”
  • Pop culture and spirituality without religion (christiantoday.com)
    Pop artists are fond of provocative religious imagery, but Ted Turnau says that should not be surprising for Christians and rather than getting offended, they should be looking for ways to come alongside today’s secularised pop stars to help them use such religious imagery appropriately.
  • Want to Argue About Creeds? I Don’t (theresauuco.wordpress.com)
    Unitarian Universalists are fond of saying that we believe in “deeds not creeds.”  Almost every Sunday I start the worship service by welcoming visitors telling them that we value diversity of all types. Our congregations include people who self-identify as Christians, Pagans,  Humanists, Agnostics, Jews, Atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Spiritualists, and pretty much everything else.  I say that what matters most is how we treat other people and how we care for this planet of ours.  That is another way of saying “deeds not creeds.” Our faith tradition has a long history of respect for the individual right of conscience.  Believe whatever makes sense to you about God and what happens after we die, but let’s see if we can get together and try to make our own lives and this world a better place.  We can discuss differing theological beliefs. I love hearing what others believe about the big issues, and I like to talk about my own, always evolving, sense of the universe and what this life of ours is all about.  Arguing is pointless, however, and generally serves to increase the distance between people rather than bring them closer together.
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    Unitarian Universalism is changing and we will keep changing; change is in our DNA.  We were formed from the merger of two Christian denominations, both of which date back to the 1700′s in this country.  That history is still part of us, but I don’t think many of our religious ancestors would necessarily recognize us today.  We brought in science and humanism, incorporated wisdom from other  world religions and from the earth centered traditions.  The Transcendentalist also had a huge impact. For those of us who believe in God, revelation is definitely not sealed.  For those of us who believe in the human spirit, change is simply part of life.
  • Is Yoga New Agey? (elephantjournal.com)

    Emerson, one of the foremost minds of 19th century America, was himself heavily influenced by Vedanta, the spiritual teachings of Hinduism, which originated in India. With regard to the concept of karma, for example, he wrote, “You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong.”

    Ralph Waldo was a transcendentalist who read the Bhagavad Gita and considered himself a yogi. (Albeit his lineage was more jnana than hatha; more about knowledge and wisdom than breath and movement.)

    The “new” doesn’t refer to time but rather new as opposed to established Western societal beliefs. The “age” refers to the Aquarian Age (as in, ‘this is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.’)

  • Can You Be Spiritual and Not Religious? (drcindysimpson.com)
    “I’m spiritual but not religious.”  I hear and read this many times.  What does this phrase mean? For people who do research in the area of religion and spirituality, however, separating the two is very difficult, if not impossible.  For millennia the word religious had about the same meaning as the word spiritual.Today religion is popularly labeled as the doctrine and beliefs of a group.  Spirituality, on the other hand, is individualized and only concerns itself with the relationship of that person to the sacred or transcendent (Koenig, 2005, pp. 44-45). Yet current research finds that at least 74% of people do not make a distinction between religion and spirituality.  How then can we best define the relationship between the two?
  • Transcendentalism vs. Puritanism: The Enduring Relevance of Competing Ideologies in Modern American Society (theiridescentbubble.com)
    Transcendentalism and Puritanism share an enduring relativity embedded in modern American individualism. Transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau espoused the tenants of a quasi-religion governed by individuality and nature while Puritans like Jonathan Edwards, though influenced by the academics of free thinking, knelt at the altar of altruism governed by an angry God. While we indeed have deep roots within Puritanism as a nation, we are equally influenced by the individualism that is Transcendentalism. In reflecting upon the condition of modern American society, it seems clear that the divisions that separate these two distinct ideologies, their seeds planted during the time of our foundation, still frame the divisions we face as a collective people today.
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    the exploration of the core tenants of Transcendentalism sheds the greatest light on that which differentiates it from its Puritan opposition.  It is a form of philosophical idealism that calls upon the individual to rise above the animalistic impulses in life, as well as the cultural restrictions imposed upon the individual.  In Transcendentalism, God is a life force found in everything which negates the necessity of churches or holy places.  God is found in both nature and human nature; he is a “light” in everyone.  As a rule, one must ruminate over and nourish the inner light to keep it alive and healthy.  Everyone is in possession of intuition or an inherent understanding of right and wrong but culture and society tend to corrupt the intuition.  To actualize the authority of our intuition, we must learn, think, and reflect.  Further, neither our past nor our future should limit the present.  We must live close to nature because it is our greatest teacher and our connection to God.  Individualism is that the very heart of Transcendentalism and self-empowerment is borne of the defiance of social conventions – even God is not the ultimate authority.  To the Transcendentalist, evil is not the opposite of good, it is simply the absence of good, but good is thought to be more powerful.  Finally, all things are encompassed and contained by the Oversoul, which has spiritual power.

Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences

Diagram of a Religious experience

Diagram of a Religious experience (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The religious and the spiritual person may be looking for certain experiences which can occur at several levels: physical, emotional, cognitive, pertaining to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgement, and reasoning, as contrasted with emotional and volitional processes, and transcendent. For the religious person there is the groups-feeling which shall be important to give him or her the appropriate feelings. The belonging to a community or parish shall fuse the personal feeling and the feeling of being part of something more than the self. The individual is not as such concerned about his individuality in the universe but more about his unit or union with others in the world. “Belonging to” is the feeding ground for the religious person.

The spiritual person is not so much connected to a reason to belong to a group or being part of a community or parish. The Self and especially the inner-self are the motives underlying his quest and behaviour. His or her search to the inner-self are the grounds for a quality that can infuse experience in a wide variety of settings. Spiritual experience can be both transcendent and immanent: it can be both an experience of transcending worldly concerns and an intense present-moment perception that the ground of all being permeates all things. for the individual it is not a groups matter but a personal and an intense aliveness and deep sense of understanding that one intuitively comprehends as having come from a direct, internal link with that mysterious principle which connects all aspects of the universe. In Christianity and Ecclesiastical Terms the immanence came to be the relation to the pantheistic conception of God, as being present throughout the universe. A person could come to a state where he or she could make himself or herself free from the limitations inherent in matter, becoming Theol (of God) having continuous existence outside the created world in a well-built relationship with the Most High Creator God or with a godly being.

In the 19th century several people became convinced that society and its institutions — particularly organized religion and political parties — ultimately corrupted the purity of the individual.

Among others New England congregationalists, rejected predestination, and they emphasized the unity instead of the trinity of God. The many people who had seen how in Europe the church had corrupted the real Truth of the Bible, the infallible Word of God, were also convinced the dogmatic teaching of a Tri-Une God, three persons coexisting consubstantially as one being or homoousia (consubstantialis), had brought man away form the commandments of God not to worship pictures or sculptures of any heavenly being nor of Him, the God of all things. The Gnostics were the first theologians to use the word “homoousios”, while before the Gnostics there is no trace at all of its existence. Jesus, who was placed by God on this earth, was well aware of his position, being lower than the heavenly beings (the angels) and his Father, without Him he could do nothing and who is the Most High of all.

“You* heard how that I said to you*, I go away and I am coming to you*. If you* loved* me, you* would have rejoiced, because I said, I am going to the Father: because the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28 MLV)

“But Jesus answered them, My Father works until now and I work. (18)  Because of this, then the Jews sought even more to kill him, because he did not only break the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
(19)  Therefore Jesus answered and said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you*, The Son can do nothing from himself, unless he sees what the Father is doing: for* whatever things he does, the Son is also doing these things similarly. (20)  For* the Father loves the Son and shows him all things that himself does and greater works than these he will show him, that* you* may marvel. (21)  For* just-as the Father raises the dead and gives-life to them, even so the Son also gives-life to whom he wills. (22)  For* the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son; (23)  that* all may honor the Son, just-as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent him. ” (John 5:17-23 MLV)

Already soon after the rabbi Jesus his death, his disciples were confronted with teachers who twisted Jesus his words and his teachings and mixed them with the Greek-Roman culture of that time. Lots of theories of the Greek philosophers did find their way in the faith of many early Christians, though the apostles kept warning for such false teachings. (See the Acts of the apostles and the many letters to the different communities.) Jesus of Nazareth never required his followers, many ordinary craftsman or fisherman, to follow theologian studies. But those who brought in all those studies of philosophers wanted their followers to learn them thoroughly. Therefore they created special institutions where this mix of teachings could be learned. by the years more time was spent on the teachings of the philosophers than on the Words of God. The early church theologians were probably made aware of the Gnostic concept, and thus of the doctrine of emanation, by them. {Aloys Grillmeier, Christ in Christian Tradition, vol. 1, From the Apostolic Age to Chalcedon (451) (London: Mowbrays, 1975), p. 109.}

It was what so many spiritual people kept busy, finding substance between generating and generated, getting to the identity of substance between things generated of the same substance that brought several people away from the Biblical Truth, finding the early Gnostic religious teacher Basilides in Alexandria, Egypt who taught from 117–138 CE.
Basilides believed faith was merely

“an assent of the soul to any of the things which do not excite sensation, because they are not present”.

He also believed faith was a matter of “nature,” not of responsible choice, so that men would

“discover doctrines without demonstration by an intellective apprehension”. {St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata Book ii. Chapter iii.}

Image of a fiery purgatory in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry

Because Basilides believed faith was a matter of nature, doubtlessly he pushed election so far as to sever a portion of mankind from the rest, as alone entitled by Divine decree to receive a higher enlightenment. In this sense it must have been that he called “the election a stranger to the world, as being by nature supermundane”. {St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata Book iv. Chapter xxvi.} It was also this teacher who brought in that Jesus his death was not enough to get liberated of sin. According to such a teaching it denies the value of the sacrifice of Christ by who’s death we can be adopted as a child of God and be reconciled, having paid for our sins by our death. The idea was created that people only could receive ‘reconciliation’ when they belonged to the Roman Catholic Church and had received a sacrament in which repentant sinners are absolved and gained reconciliation with God and the Church. Basilides deprived men of a salutary fear by teaching that transmigrations are the only punishments after death. In later years many churches used purgatory and hell-fire to frighten the people and to get them in their system as angst-ridden followers. Many denomination used it as the big stick to keep people in their flock, also telling them they only could be saved and could come in heaven by being a member of their church. Today we still notice such a preventative measure against going astray or leaving that church still works. The fear of loosing their heavenly life makes that many people do not dare to question those theologian doom teachings. Because Basilides held to a fatalistic view of metempsychosis, he believed the Christian martyrs were being punished not for being Christians, but for sins they had committed in the past. This made that people became afraid to loose their life when they would keep on to the teachings of the apostles and early followers of Jesus, who took him as the son of God and not as god the son. Taking on the symbols and worship methods of the Greece-Roman culture made them one of them and would give them less reasons to be killed.

Lots of religious people took the sign of the god of evil Tamuz, the cross, as the sign of the death of their god. The Only One God can not die and never did have an end to His life which is eternal, meaning ‘with no beginning and no end’. Jesus had a beginning, his birth and an end, his death. The ones from the New World had seen how the European churches not only brought in false doctrines like the trinity, but resisted also many other Christian doctrines which had become considered conventional for the Christian Faith. Searchers for the truth like Joseph Priestley, one of the founders of the Unitarian movement, defined Unitarianism as the belief of primitive Christianity before later corruptions set in. Among these corruptions, lots of people had taken on several pagan rituals and had made them custom actions in their religious life.

Soho House in Handsworth, Birmingham, a regular venue for meetings of the Lunar Society

At Daventry, Priestley was sufficiently grounded in Latin and Greek to hold his own in subsequent disputes with university-trained scholars. He was more generally introduced to a range of subjects in natural philosophy, but more significantly, he was there formally instructed in logic and metaphysics. In Birmingham he became preacher at New Meeting House, one of the most liberal congregations in England, and was soon associated with the Lunar Society, an informal collection of provincial intellectuals, scientists, and industrialists. Taking the Bible as the main guide for his study about God to compare with the historical writings about Jesus and his followers, he became the chief propagandist and protagonist for Unitarian beliefs in England, writing annual defences against attack, and developing in various historical and polemical works (for example, An History of the Corruptions of Christianity [1782] and An History of Early Opinions concerning Jesus Christ [1786]) a rationalist theology that suggests, in some measure, the ideas of textual and “higher criticism” of the New Testament. In the eyes of the church establishment, he came to represent the intolerable encroachments of dissent, and on him was focused their theological and political animus. {Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008} when he had to escape from conservative England he emigrated to the United States in 1794 where president John Adams and George Washington were welcoming his teachings and made him to feel at home.

Those people looking to save their life found in the religion preached by those theologians of the Old World could feel ways to feel at ease with the many traditional movements done by the people around them. Instead of abstaining them form those worldly actions they now could take part without hesitation and fear, being part of the world. For many it was quite easy now to be religious, because according to the teaching of the apostles and the non-trinitarians or unitarians, people themselves were responsible and had to make choices themselves to make sure they would be worthy salvation. In the gnostic and Roman Catholic Church and later in several protestant churches they could blame their faults to a devil, called Satan or Lucifer, and always could find penitence even when they kept doing the same bad things. In many cases churches were willing to accept money for pardoning.

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Preceding articles:

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life

Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual

Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people

Next: Being Religious and Spiritual 6 Romantici, utopists and transcendentalists

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Read also:

  1. Idolatry or idol worship
  2. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  3. God of gods
  4. Some one or something to fear #6 Faith in the Most High
  5. יהוה , YHWH and Love: Four-letter words
  6. Praise the most High Jehovah God above all
  7. Praise and give thanks to God the Most Highest
  8. Christ Versus the Trinity
  9. Altered to fit a Trinity
  10. Reasons that Jesus was not God
  11. Jesus begotten Son of God #13 Pre-existence excluding virginal birth of the Only One Transposed
  12. Through Christ’s death you can be adopted as a child of God
  13. Sharing thoughts and philosophical writings
  14. Morality, values and Developing right choices
  15. Science and God’s existence
  16. Seeing the world through the lens of his own experience
  17. Leaving the Old World to find better pastures
  18. Emotional pain and emotional deadness
  19. What happens when we die?
  20. Fear and protection
  21. Heavenly creatures do they exist
  22. Satan or the devil
  23. Satan the evil within

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Additional reading:

  1. Paradise, the First Sin, the Fiery Sword, and the Path to Rectification
  2. Fear
  3. All trust, no fear
  4. Trinity And Pagan Influence
  5. Trinity: A False Doctrine of a False Church
  6. Part 2) God is not a Trinity
  7. The Trinity: paganism or Christianity?
  8. Unitarianism and the Bible of the Holy Trinity

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  • A New Gnosticism (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)
    Well, after several months of thought, and being a bit dense, I figured out that Christian Scientism was a new Gnosticism. I suppose other people have known this, but I have beenin discussion with a friend who is a Christian Scientist and it finally dawned on me. She thinks that all reason is empiricism, so that is a confusion immediately seen.To the Catholic, reason and faith are two pillars of our spiritual life.

    For the Gnostic, the material world is evil. God is not part of the material. What the CS does with Genesis, in which we read that God created the world and everything in it and saw that it was good.

    For the Catholic, creation was created good by a good God. For the Catholic, Christ was Incarnated, became Man, became material. The CS does not accept this. To them, God is a principle not a person.

  • Embracing the Body as a Spiritual Path. (elephantjournal.com)
    The belief from many traditions is that we suffer precisely because we identify with our bodies, and that freedom is (somehow) somewhere beyond that mistake. But what I found over the years is that in fact the opposite might be true: we suffer when we do not embrace our bodies, and in fact it is our suffering in the first place that makes us reject, disconnect from and seek to be somewhere other than our bodies.chakrasHealing lies in coming home to the body. Whether it is recovery from trauma, abuse or addiction, learning to manage stress and be present with feelings, or releasing shame and media-conditioning to embrace our bodies as they are.
  • Um, Since When Does Jesus Have Skeletons in His Closet?: A Research Paper on Christianity (Part 1) (kosmosys.wordpress.com)
    Gnosticism is known to have correlations with Christianity based on its status of heresy with the Roman Catholic Church. Without going into specifics just yet, one can assume that “correlations”,”similarities” mean concepts, persons, principles, histories, what have you. Another interesting (or troubling?) thing about Gnosticism is that it actually Predates Christianity, meaning that it was in existence Long before Christianity. The understanding of the term “heresy” (and we will officially define it later) is that it is a corruption or perversion of scripture already in existence. How can Gnosticism corrupt or pervert Christianity IF Gnosticism was already in existence? So, if we are supposed to believe that Christianity is “self-existent” (meaning that the events in the Bible Actually happened and the people in the Bible were Real) how is it possible for it to be influenced by a School of Thought older than it? How can Jesus’ teachings exist Before He was supposedly born?
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    Um, Since When Does Jesus Have Bones in His Closet?: A Research Paper on Christianity (Part 2)
    What doctrine was the Church trying to silence? So by using Gnosticism, we can then get a new perspective on Christianity. We can look at its behavior, if you will, and understand exactly what, if anything, it is hiding in its closet.
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    According to NewAdvent.org, certain aspects of Gnosticism was in existence before that of Christianity, although at the time it was not called Gnosticism, as you can imagine, because Gnosticism itself was/is a spin off of older doctrines. One of the parent faiths of Gnosticism was the Babylonian Mandean faith, which I won’t even get into here. It is also pretty obvious that Gnosticism was not called such until it reached Greece seeing as the root of Gnosticism is “gnosis” meaning knowledge and is a greek word. So, according to this particular source, NewAdvent.org, “it is beyond doubt that Gnosticism existed independent of and anterior to Christianity.” Which means that there is no way that Gnosticism could come as a perversion of Christianity because it was here first.
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    As Christians have we not been trained to not think? What about the questions wehave been asked thathave been answered with a “don’t test God” or “God’s mysterious ways.” How many times hasCreflo dollar told us “don’t think! Sow!” How many times have we wondered where all our tithes and offerings are going? Who is spending it and on what?It is clear what the Church thinks about people with knowledge, people who think. Was Jesus not the reason for the slaughter of dozens of innocent men, women, and children during the Salem Witch Trials? How many of you knew the TRUE meaning of the terms listed above?
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    All I’m saying is that we need to open our eyes more. Ask questions. Understand things. Obviously there is more to be see than just meets the eye. There is more that needs to be learned. Otherwise, why would the Church cause so much bloodshed to silence the knowledge?
  • My Experience In The Word Of Faith Pt. 7-Watchman Nee,Mrs. Jessie Penn-Lewis (christianreasons.com)
    Pay careful attention to the reference regarding a deeper spiritual life. That will become important when we discuss the Keswick movement. The main thing I want to demonstrate is the link to Roman Catholic mysticism.Although the “Cross” is emphasized with the Higher Life advocates, the Sanctifying effects of union with Christ is stressed almost to the exclusion of the Justifying effects and the forgiveness of sins. I have a real problem with that. It is also common among Classic Wesleyans and Pentecostals to over-emphasize the more subjective aspects of Sanctification than the objective work of Christ in Justification.
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    The focus on the intuition as the real means of grasping truth, rather than through the specifics (including the wording) of Scripture is a definite type of Gnosticism, complete with its arrogance and exclusivity (regardless of intentions to the contrary). His claims that the conscience is based on one’s intuition opens wide the door for being directed by a supposed inner voice from God rather than taking God’s written Word as the true basis of conscience training. The conscience is only as accurate as the training upon which it is based. development of a rather complicated system, with its own specific terminology, which means that the uninitiated cannot really grasp the “deep teachings” of God. The focus on the intuition as the real means of grasping truth, rather than through the specifics (including the wording) of Scripture is a definite type of Gnosticism, complete with its arrogance and exclusivity (regardless of intentions to the contrary).
    +My Experience In The Word Of Faith Movement Pt. 6-Watchman Nee, Miss Margaret E. Barber, Roman Catholic Mystics
    + Pt.1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3, Pt. 4, Pt. 5.
    It has been in my exposure to the Reformers that I learned the broken ladders that the little theologians of glory in us love to use to get to God.
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    In The Normal Christian Life, (probably one of his more popular titles), Nee writes: “Righteousness, the forgiveness of our sins, and peace with God are all ours by faith, and without faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ none can possess them.” His whole exposition on the Blood of Christ in this book is very orthodox, and insightful. As far as it goes, it’s theologically sound.
  • Is It O.k. for Christians to Do Martial Arts? (prayers4reparation.wordpress.com)
    Many of the martial arts popular in the West have origins in parts of the world where Buddhist and other forms of religious philosophy are (or were) prevalent. Such philosophy is not essential to discipline and exercise, and indeed we can bring a Christian approach to bear, especially since we strive to focus not only on our own well-being but on selfless charity to others.
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    If it is simply a question of breathing exercises or seeking peace and harmony of soul, without the imposition of Pagan beliefs, then we can take part, though in our own practice we can bring to bear our Christian faith in which Christ is our peace, and the values of self-discipline and care of our physical health are seen in the context of a spiritual life in accord with the teaching of the Gospel.

Being Religious and Spiritual 4 Philosophical, religious and spiritual people

My Philosophy Bookshelf(bottom)

A Philosophy Bookshelf(bottom) (Photo credit: jddunn)

As a human being we are constantly confronted with many thoughts. Some tried to mould these thoughts in a shape which they could make understandable for others. Humans also tried to understand the ultimate foundations of spiritual intuitions, questioning if such spiritual intuitions could ultimately be grounded in the nature of fundamental reality, and not wholly be reflective of socio-cultural conventions or neuro-biological mechanisms.  Investigation of this open issue is important because of the implications, whichever way the answer turns out, for social and political policy, and personal and social health and welfare. Many of the questions posed by man should come to be answered to  succeed in the quest to understand and adhere to one’s spiritual intuitions. The main question al people carry in their heart is the reason of our existence. How many of us do not wonder if life has a positive purpose? Many also would like to see that the life, their are going through, would be fair and compassionate.  This is distinct from religiousness, which designates one’s adherence to the tenets of an institution regarded as having authority concerning how one should live and what is ultimately true.

Beyond the personal struggle for survival and security we can not repudiate that there lies a universal human quest to find answers to such perennial spiritual questions:  What is the meaning of life?  Does existence have a purpose?  How should we live?  What has real value?  Does anything matter?

Handbook of Religion and Health

Handbook of Religion and Health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Therefore according to many “spirituality” is indeed typically defined in terms of a “personal quest for understanding answers to ultimate questions about life, about meaning, and about relationship to the sacred or transcendent” {Koenig HG, McCullough ME, Larson DB. Handbook of Religion and Health. New York  N.Y.: Oxford University Press 2001}. In the previous chapters we saw already that  spirituality in this sense is distinct from “religion”, which is typically defined as “an organized system of beliefs, practices, rituals, and symbols designed

(a) to facilitate closeness to the sacred or transcendent (God, higher power, or ultimate truth/reality) and

(b) to foster an understanding of one’s relationship and responsibility to others in living together in a community”. {Koenig HG, McCullough ME, Larson DB. Handbook of Religion and Health. New York  N.Y.: Oxford University Press 2001}

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509, showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several philosophers tried to explain the way things are, looking for concrete measurable answers (sometimes). They want to give the people around them explanation how everything could have come into existence and to which order could stay into existence. Often the philosophers love to think they could bring an objective picture of reality without telling us explicitly (although often they do implicitly) how we should be in relationship to that picture. All through the years thousands of philosophers gave their opinion of the way everything could be placed in order. Lots of them thought they could give an answer or convince people of the answer of the good and the bad of humankind.

For the philosophers ‘Philosophy‘ is in the thinking, searching mind. By going deep in ourself we even could come to an illumining mind. this going into the self could bring us further into the sacral. Both the philosopher and the spiritual minded do perhaps have the same goals, wanting to find the origin and reason and the height of life. Though the lover of the higher existence, the “what is behind life’ wants to reach a point of connection with that ‘Higher Point’, which can be the Void or a or the Supreme Being, a or The Spirit or Nature Phenomenal. The religious person may ad the dimension of conscious or unconscious response to the beckoning ‘Light‘ and responding to beliefs in the lofty experiences of predecessors and organisations, temples or churches, wanting to see the depth of life. In contrast the man of spirituality wants to go much further and does not want to be restricted by any sort of dogmatic teaching imposed on him by other humans. In his quest and meditation he wants to come to see the reality of life and the reality in life.

For the philosopher there is no reason at all to come into a relationship with somebody else when it is about the being of himself. Some may consider that the philosopher is only using everyday language, which is locally normed and cultural defined, to explain the things which can be clearly seen or which we clearly understand to be present in the universe. The philosophy as such is by some seen merely as an ideology supporting accepted wisdom of the moment, like economy, mathematics, physiology, archaeology, natural science and the rest of the humanities. The anthropologist may study all others in relationship with each other and the environment, leaving himself excluded.

The Spiritual person on the other hand wants to come into relationship with something more than the ‘I’ or ‘Self‘. As a person the spiritual minded person also would love to see a relationship with everything what is around him or her. For the spiritual minded person the spirituality is a description of a position that he or she as a human being should take in relationship to the way things are.

Festival of Spirituality and Peace, Edinburgh 2009

Festival of Spirituality and Peace, Edinburgh 2009 (Photo credit: Student Christian Movement)

Philosophy of Spirituality is concerned with understanding the ultimate foundations of spiritual intuitions.  Although the nature of this grounding is unresolved, there are some philosophical and empirical reasons for thinking that.

A lover of philosophy may talk about human’ existence, man’s  and God’s Vision, even without mentioning The Creator God. But the Divine God Creator has created human being in His image with a purpose, to live in the universe, to give animals and plants names and to take care of the whole earth as good as he can. The God loving person may find in this Divine Creator the reason for him being here and could find it necessary to take part in actions which would give a sign of his recognising the Lord of lords to be the Most High to be worshipped.  In such instance, recognising the Divine Power of the Creator, the lover of religion shall also talks about God’s Power. The person recognising God His Power to be the Most High, but also the extreme highest position a being can have, not out of selfishness or wanting to get in the place of the Supreme High Being, but wanting to come as close as possible near to that Supreme Highest Spirit, shall try is utmost best to come into the knowledge of That Being  and to transform himself into a better being than he is at that moment. The one believing in God, loving to become close to Him shall know that it will be necessary for him to get to know the Rules of This God and to apply those rules, guidelines, instructions or commandments. He shall also know how important it is for accepting that he shall have to give an opening to allow the Glory of God appearing in our character. The Spiritual person shall do his utmost best to get over all his material indispositions and get his spiritual being more in the forefront. We should know that the spiritual side of the human being should be more important than the material side of it. A lover of spirituality shall come to know that God is a God of Compassion, willing to accept the deficiencies of our human state. For the spiritually minded it might not be so important as for the lover of philosophy to see God’s Face. The spiritual minded person may also get himself involved in philosophy and also may become religious, trying to get to know the Beginner or Maker of all things and to come to face Him or It and to come to see straight in That God’s Eye.

English: Russian ancient book, «Spiritual Rule...

Russian ancient book, «Spiritual Rules», 1721 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The religious person may be more concerned in the involvement of his person in the honouring or worshipping whilst the lover of spirituality shall be more interested in the real relationship with that Supreme Being and be concentrating on his way to grow into God’s all compassionate Heart.

In this materialistic world a man of philosophy may be considered a dreamer, a man of religion of foolishness, being carried away by dreams while he wants to be an observer. Next to them there is the man of spirituality who is a divine lover, knowing that

A divine dreamer, a divine observer and a divine lover are good friends.

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Preceding articles:

Being Religious and Spiritual 1 Immateriality and Spiritual experience

Being Religious and Spiritual 2 Religiosity and spiritual life

Being Religious and Spiritual 3 Philosophers, Avicennism and the spiritual

Next: Being Religious and Spiritual 5 Gnostic influences

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Please do find to read:

  1. The business of this life
  2. Meaning of life
  3. Live …
  4. A philosophical error which rejects the body as part of the human person
  5. Thirst for happiness and meaning
  6. To mean, to think, outing your opinion, conviction, belief – Menen, mening, overtuiging, opinie, geloof
  7. Religion and spirituality
  8. Self-development, self-control, meditation, beliefs and spirituality
  9. A Living Faith #10: Our manner of Life #2
  10. Glory of God appearing in our character
  11. We all are changed into the same image from glory to glory
  12. Created to live in relation with God
  13. Without God no purpose, no goal, no hope
  14. Our relationship with God, Jesus and each other
  15. From pain to purpose
  16. Chief means by which men are built up
  17. A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses
  18. It is a free will choice
  19. Your life the sum total of all your choices
  20. What part of the Body am I?
  21. Golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters obedience
  22. Growth in character
  23. Greatest single cause of atheism
  24. Golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters obedience
  25. We have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace
  26. How we think shows through in how we act
  27. Raise a standard to which the wise and honest can repair
  28. Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience
  29. Followers with deepening
  30. Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods
  31. Sharing thoughts and philosophical writings
  32. Wisdom lies deep
  33. Science and Religion Harmonized (Once and For All…)

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Additional reading:

  1. What is the difference between Philosophy and Spirituality
  2. Philosophy is a Dead Language – RIP
  3. The Problem Is That (You Think) You Think Too Much
  4. Philosophers, those bloated parasites…
  5. Word of the Week: ‘Philosophy’
  6. Why Take Philosophy A Level?
  7. Religion Vs. Spiritual
  8. Mapping the Possible Relations between “Religious,” “Spiritual,” “Humanistic” and “Secular” Sensibilities
  9. What Wishes to Come to Being through You?
  10. Is There Still a Place for Religion?
  11. Who is religious?
  12. Spirituality is the world around us
  13. Consumerism vs Spirituality

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  • Where are the thinkers? (thehindu.com)
    Much of the freedom movement was explicitly inspired by a sense of pride in the achievements of ancient Indian philosophies and traditions. Influential public thinkers like Coomaraswamy argued the case of the unity of Indian philosophy and aesthetics. And few countries can boast of having an eminent philosopher as President — India had S. Radhakrishnan.
    However, at a concrete level, the status of philosophy as a serious academic discipline is nowhere near what might be suggested by its role in the freedom movement. In the years since Independence, it has disappeared from the public and cultural imagination and this has, in turn, led to it become something of a backwater even in academia. It no more captures the imagination of political figures, or new generations of students.

Illustration: Satwik Gade

  • The Forever All: A Philosophical and Spiritual Guide (thepeacefulpantheist.wordpress.com)
    ”In my viewthe-forever-all-cover-art-01-300dpi, the entire universe is the Supreme Being, an infinite, purposeful system of positive and negative forces which has always existed and always will, and each of us is that eternal being of light and darkness.
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    How I Became a Pantheist by Guyus Seralius
    Even now, when I search the term pantheism on the Internet, it seems to be a very untapped subject in comparison to atheism, deism, Buddhism, and so on.
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    The church gave them a sense of community and provided them with a social network. This of course predates all the online social networks now so available on the Internet. Sociologist have claimed for years, based on studies, that social networking is one of the main reasons most people do attend church or why they join a religion—it allows them to feel a sense of belonging.
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    Anyone of us can say “I am the universe or I am the All.” Philosophers and Spiritualists have been saying something along these lines for centuries. Hippies were definitely known for saying such things during the late 60s and early 70s, but most of us never gave it much attention or took it too seriously. It was usually just something a hippie often said to sound philosophically deep or spiritual. The truth is though, I don’t think most hippies even truly knew just how accurate they were.
  • Postmodernism, Wisdom & Rebuke (rethinkerblog.wordpress.com)
    Postmodernity has found its way into our architecture, our entertainment, our technologies and certainly our philosophies and religious systems. In a philosophical nutshell, postmodernism is the belief that there is no one universal belief: that your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth. But more than that, it is skepticism toward Any system of belief. In his seminal work: The Postmodern Condition, French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard, Lyotard describes postmodernism as an “incredulity towards metanarratives.” Individually, postmodernism affords us our own adoptable moral criteria, unchallenged by others. But holistically, it keeps us all in a state of mistrust.
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    How can you tell someone what he or she is doing is right or wrong if his or her personally adopted belief system may claim the exact opposite?
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    Historically as a culture, when we distanced ourselves from God and his dogmatic mandates, we distanced ourselves from wisdom. And when we brushed off God’s holistic intent of prosperity and protection, we invited in its postfall antithesis: disease, decay and destruction.
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    Becoming People of “True Faith”
    The secular world might concede a slight bit more, accepting that perhaps these people of faith did at some point in their lives experience something “spiritual” or, according to science, “unexplainable.” That unexplainable spiritual (or more likely psychological) phenomenon is then called “God.” Just as another’s unexplainable phenomena might be personally claimed as an encounter with Buddha, or the Great Other, or Nature or some other metaphysical expression.
    Unfortunately, much of the American Christian church has not only surrendered itself to this secularized label of “faith,” but it also has offered little objective evidence of anything to the contrary.

    But for those having experienced true eternal life conversion, the secularized faith label is not merely annulled; it is completely transformed, and, as I soon will show, to the betterment of society as a whole.
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    a true Christian’s faith no longer is relegated to merely the hope that God does in fact really exist and that the Christian’s belief system is a valid one. The evidence of that initial faith is crystallized with the first actual experience of His presence and His voice. Not a metaphysical force or an idea – but a real and tangible encounter with a true and very real God.

    A true person of faith no longer clings to the shallow hope that his or her God might exist while still never having experienced a modicum of His presence or nature. Like Columbus’ crewmates, proven faith transcends hope. For a true Christian, faith is transformed. It is not based on the reality of a now proven God, but in the assurance that the words this very real God has spoken – are possible in our lives.

  • Mapping the Possible Relations between “Religious,” “Spiritual,” “Humanistic” and “Secular” Sensibilities (villasophiasalon.wordpress.com)
    The Dialectically Related  Mutual Approach takes the position that words like religious, spiritual, humanistic, and secular need not necessarily be construded as either absolutely exclusive, tolerantly inclusive, or impossibly ambiguous. Instead, they are words that suggest different psychological temperaments and casts of mind, as well as fluxuating moods within a single individual across a period of time. Our relationship to these words may be more aesthetic and metaphorical than scientistic and metaphysical. By way of analogy we may resonate with and enjoy many different kinds of music…in historical era, compositional genre, emotional mood, and artistic style.
  • Bertrand Russell on the science v religion debate | Clare Carlisle (theguardian.com)
    Bertrand Russell did not consider himself an expert on ethics and religion, and it is true that his writing on these subjects lacks the originality and sophistication of his philosophical work on mathematics. His criticisms of religion are often similar – in essence if not in tone – to opinions voiced by contemporary atheists: he argued that religious beliefs cause wars and persecution, are moralistic and oppressive, and foster fear. However, it is precisely for this reason that it is worth looking again at Russell’s rejection of Christianity. Anyone concerned with defending religion against its typical modern detractors must recognise Russell as a worthy opponent, for he was an intelligent, principled and humane man of the world who undoubtedly led a meaningful life.
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    Is religion based on fear?
    The most powerful aspect of Bertrand Russell’s critique of religious belief is his claim that religion is based on fear, and that fear breeds cruelty. His philosophical arguments against the existence of God may not touch the lives of many ordinary people, but his more psychological point about fear has to be taken seriously by all of us. In his 1927 lecture “Why I am not a Christian” – delivered to the south London branch of the National Secular Society – Russell expressed his point with characteristic clarity: “Religion is based primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing – fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things.” No doubt he was preaching to the converted on this occasion.

    There are actually two elements to Russell’s diagnosis of religion here. The first is that religious belief is a symptom of fear: aware that our lives are precarious and vulnerable, we seek the protection of a powerful deity, to comfort ourselves with an illusion of safety. The second is that fear is a symptom of religion: in particular, doctrines of punishment in both this life and the next cause ignorant believers to live in fear unnecessarily. There is little doubt that this analysis has some truth on both points; perhaps it explains quite accurately the causes and effects of religious belief in a significant number of cases. But do such cases represent religion itself, or are they a distortion of it?

  • Spirituality (dustindemille.wordpress.com)
    I believe in Goodness, Peace, Love, Faith, Truth, Compassion, Honesty, Character, Integrity, Strength, Courage, and Wisdom.  I enjoy reading and writing about spiritual, religious, and philosophical subjects.
  • Patterns of manipulation and how to Spot Them (aquarianagethings.wordpress.com)
    The only answer is to get True Freedom. One of the most important is Spiritual Freedom and that includes freedom from religion.
    +
    the answer lies inside of you and that these is no need for religion per say because you are inextricably part of that Source already. I call it Source for lack of a better term.
    +
    Most want to keep you docile and looking for something outside that can never be reached or found. The Sages, Yogis and Wise men of the East have known this for a long time, but they have failed miserably at letting others know.
  • A Misconception of Spirituality (suskiwen.wordpress.com)
    The misconception of spirituality is that once we turn to it, we should be positive and then we will be healed. We have taken the wrong approach because struggles cannot be sublimed, they can only be confronted and experienced in spirit. Spirituality is not a means to an end (healed).
    When we surrender from the practical world and turn to seek the spirit for guidance, we are entering a commitment that requires our part to do the act of seeking. Each time we ask, we allow ourselves to be fully conscious and present in momentary experience so we are able to see what is true; and whether good or bad, the spirit will find itself there, and where it leads you is where you need to be. It is the “there” where spirit feels and spirit heals.
  • A Misconception of Spirituality (wilddose.wordpress.com)
    Spirituality is a commitment. It is the commitment of the body, the mind and the spirit to co-exist into one entity to deal with the experience assigned to you. It is not a destination, it is not an accident that at random, decides to splash the hues of life into your dullest hour, it is the commitment to a life of continuous practice to act as a vessel to patience, joy and balance in any situation or circumstance.
  • Why Science Doesn’t Trump Spirituality (speakablepath.wordpress.com)
    It is often thought that life can be understood either scientifically or spiritually. Strict adherents to science believe that, since the universe can be explained scientifically, there is no need for spirituality or mysticism. They think that scientifically proving and explaining the physical causes for phenomena eliminates the necessity for spirituality. What is the point of having faith in something non-physical when there is perfectly credible, physical proof? Surely in this advanced technological age humanity has outgrown the need for a higher power.

Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods

In which way has philosophy blended the theoretical and the practical many may wonder. In the early times there may have been the reflection and the proper moral action people wanted to take, but they were always bounded to their own limited thinking and their understanding of the world at that time.

‘Yesteryear’ as today we can find enough people who would love to think about what is going on in the world and how we can find solutions for our living better than today. There are many who would love to see more mutual understanding, love and wisdom.

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For many philosophers to reason, reflect, imagine, conjecture, was part of what it meant to act faithfully in accordance with being in the image of God. Where the world went wrong is that many started not only to consider themselves to be in the image of God, but that many started looking at themselves as being part of God or even worse being God themselves. Though having God in you does not mean yet that you become God, though many take Jesus to be God because he had God in him. They forget that we also should try to receive God in us, to be like Christ Jesus, and to show others how we have God in us. But that does not make us God, like it did not with Christ, who was first lower than the angels, but than was made higher by his Father and was taken at His right hand to become a mediator between God and us.

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God has given the world His instructions, but He has given the humans the liberty to accept and follow them or to ignore them and to go their own way. The majority of the world has chosen to go their own way and to ignore God. So they have to bear the consequences of their choice.

There are not enough people who would like to take the time to look at them selves, how they are doing it in this universe, and contemplating which role they have to play in this universe. Lots of people are busy with thinking about themselves in a egocentric way but not in the relation of themselves with the others around them. Many might try to get wisdom, but often it is only to enrich themselves and not others. It seems that they do not come to see that wisdom is an understanding of the final cause. Like the writer of the article says “Sadly, this has all but been lost in science and philosophy today.”

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Preceding articles:

Where is the edge

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

Science and the Bible—Do They Really Contradict Each Other?

Sharing thoughts and philosophical writings

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Additional reading:

  1. The business of this life
  2. Created to live in relation with God
  3. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #5 To meditate and Transform
  4. Trusting, Faith, Calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #4 Transitoriness #3 Rejoicing in the insistence
  5. Missional hermeneutics 2/5
  6. Golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters obedience
  7. Truth never plays false roles of any kind, which is why people are so surprised when meeting it
  8. Wisdom lies deep
  9. Growth in character
  10. Preparedness to change
  11. Statutes given unto us
  12. Thirst for happiness and meaning
  13. A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses
  14. It is a free will choice
  15. Your life the sum total of all your choices
  16. Leaving behind the lives we have touched.
  17. Words in the world
  18. Trust God to shelter, safety and security
  19. God is my refuge and my fortress in Him I will trust
  20. Gaining Christ, trusting Jehovah + Gain Christ, trusting Jehovah
  21. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us
  22. Fragments from the Book of Job #1: chapters 1-12
  23. Fragments from the Book of Job #3: chapters 21-26
  24. Fragments from the Book of Job #4: chapters 27-31
  25. Fragments from the Book of Job #6: chapters 38-42
  26. Happy who’s delight is only in the law of Jehovah
  27. Being one in Jesus, Jesus in us and God in Jesus
  28. Morality, values and Developing right choices

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  • God + World ≠ 2 (afkimel.wordpress.com)
    “God” permeates our conversation. Each year hundreds of books are published about God.
    +
    if one engages in theological conversation long enough, whether with Christians or with non-Christians, one begins to wonder whether everyone means the same thing by the word.
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    The unity of divinity and the all other beings is most clearly presented in popular pagan religion. The gods of Olympian religion clearly belong to the world. They represent the necessities and natural forces that we confront in our daily lives and which we ignore only at great risk.
    +
    With the emergence of Greek philosophy the gods came to be seen as projection of worldly necessities. “The necessities,” Sokolowski explains, “became simply the way things were born to be; they became that which is ‘by nature,’ as opposed to that which is because of human making or because of human choice” (p. 15). The philosophers did not deny the divine, but it was now relegated “to those forms of being that were taken to be the independent, ruling substances in the world. The divine was part, the best and governing part, of nature, but its direct involvement with human affairs was no longer acknowledged nor was it feared” (p. 15). In Aristotle divinity is located in the highest and first substances: it functions as the cause of motion and development of beings in the world. In Plato divinity becomes the “motive and the object of the exercise of reason” (p. 17). Unlike Aristotle it does not function as the prime mover but reaches beyond substance; yet even still “it is taken as ‘part’ of what is: it is the One by being a one over, for, and in many, never by being One only alone by itself” (p. 18). Divinity in Greek philosophy is monistic—it cannot be conceived apart from the non-divine beings in the world.
  • Does Morality Inhibit Freedom? (Aquinas vs. Ockham) (insightscoop.typepad.com)
    Some people seem to think that expressing a clearly defined morality is locking them up in some kind of invisible prison that is constricting their freedom. They may equate moral standards with self-righteous hypocrisy. They don’t want to be “moral machines” following a “hard cold legalism.”
  • 5 Ways To Logically Prove The Existence of God (delightfuloak.wordpress.com)
    Everything that exists is contingent upon something that existed before it did. For example, a child is contingent upon the mother and father for it’s existence. Since things exists, it is impossible for a world where nothing exists because we would still have nothing. Since we have things, then there must be an original thing that exists by its own power and does not rely on other things to exist.
    +
    There is something that is more being than all the rest of us. “Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.”-Thomas Aquinas
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    There must be a creator with a plan for the unintelligent things. “Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.” -Thomas Aquinas
  • Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 20:27-40 (stjoeofoblog.wordpress.com)
    There were two heresies among the Jews, one of the Pharisees, who boasted in the righteousness of their traditions, and hence they were called by the people, “separated;” the other of the Sadducees, whose name signified “righteous,” claiming to themselves that which they were not. When the former went away, the latter came to tempt Him.
  • Unified Truth: Faith and Reason (str.typepad.com)
    Aquinas felt comfortable undertaking such incorporation because, as he said, “All truth is one.” He argued that what we learn from the natural world through science and philosophy, provided it is unquestionably true, can never contradict that which we learn from revelation, that is, directly from God. He compared Scripture and reason to two books, “the book of revelation” and “the book of nature,” which were both “written” by God and consequently compatible.
  • Leo Strauss’s Objections to Thomism (sancrucensis.wordpress.com)
    Leo Strauss’s critique of modernity was very penetrating, and there is much to be learned from it. But what are we to think of his idea that modernity was (at least in part) a reaction against St. Thomas Aquinas’s distortion of Aristotelian philosophy, and that thus a true return to the ancients much dis-engage them from their Thomistic mis-reading?
  • Existential-Phenomenology (philosophicalhealing.com)
    Existential-Phenomenological Theory has been an important model in the field of counseling and therapy for quite some time, and it continues to increase in popularity with new counselors entering the field. The practice of Existential-Phenomenology is a blending of centuries-old wisdom applied to modern day problems.
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    The goal of an Existential-Phenomenological counselor is to help clients make-meaning of their lives, and so it is reasonable to assume that counselors using this theory must also do the same work.
  • Philosophy is a Dead Language – RIP (brainmoleculermarketing.com)
    Fundamentally, philo is merely another example of magical thinking.  The core claim of magical thinking is “Mind over matter.”  Philo, like econ, etc, falsely promises that word/language-behavior (thinking, talking, etc) can both accurately describe the “matter” of human physiology and actions — or effect it.  Clearly a lie.  But before brain science, the best we could do.  Now, obsolete.
  • Summa Economica: The morality of economic action (catholicpopcultureblog.wordpress.com) > Summa Parsimonia: The morality of economic action
    like the Summa Theologica, the Summa Parsimonia will take its influence from Aristotle and the teachings of Church Fathers such as St. Augustine, in addition to present Catholic Social Teaching and economists such as Adam Smith and so forth. It will critique the given sources if need be
  • Thomas Aquinas’s Works and Philosophies  As an Italian philosopher and (bestessaycheap.wordpress.com)
    Like Aristotle, Aquinas believed that aroundthing could be learned from all author, so he also looked towards the beginners of Neo-Platonism, such as: Augustine Boethius, Psuedo- Dionysuis, and Proclus. opposite ideas came from Muslim scholars; such as, Avveroes and Avvcenna. In addition to the Jewish thinkers: Maimonides, and Solomn ben Yehua ibn Gabril. His eclecticist ragbag was later called Thomistic philosophy because it cannot be significantly characterized by anything shared with earlier writers and thinkers. Because of critics of the time, it is said that not a oneness work of Aquinass reveals his entire philosophies (Bartleby).
  • Thomas Aquinas vs The New Atheists
    [T]he new atheists hold that God is some being in the world, the maximum instance, if you want, of the category of “being.” But this is precisely what Aquinas and serious thinkers in all of the great theistic traditions hold that God is not. Thomas explicitly states that God is not in any genus, including that most generic genus of all, namely being. He is not one thing or individual — however supreme — among many. Rather, God is, in Aquinas’s pithy Latin phrase, esse ipsum subsistens, the sheer act of being itself.

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Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom

by Robert M. Woods

St. Thomas AquinasOn occasion, but it should be with great frequency, within the context of a class discussion or even a lesson at Church, the topic of wisdom is discussed. Frequently, but it should be on occasion, the definition is put forth as practical or applied learning. It is at times like these I desired that Thomas Aquinas’s definition of wisdom had won the day in Western civilization. In truth, the Liberal Arts would have done much better through the ages if his definition had been the one people lived by and taught.

For Thomas, and most Philosophers until the modern world, Philosophy was essentially the “love of wisdom.” To engage in the the practice of philosophy was the faithful pursuit of wisdom wherever it might be found. The primary understanding of truth was saying of a thing what was and not saying of…

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Sharing thoughts and philosophical writings

Exercising restraint for sharing

It seems very difficult to get Christian people to share a place with others on the same platform. The idea of bringing religious news from different view-points could be really interesting for both parties, the readers as well as the writers.

No one wants to write blog posts and have them sink into the bottomless pit of the internet. We as Christians are no different. We want people to read what we want to tell. Many like Facebook and spend lots of time posting notes in that system, but they do forget they only reach a few already connected people of a circle which can grow, but always shall have to find readers from their own circles and ‘friends of friends’.

Why do so many keep unresponsive to come to gather with other believers? What is it that held back people to join hands and make something new to happen? We should not be deterred by a few small setbacks. Many people may scrambler back as soon as they are asked to join forces and to come out in the wide world.

Freedom to join and to make fertile

Personalizando WordPress 1.5

Personalizando WordPress 1.5 (Photo credit: juanpol)

Having the opportunity to come on a more open system with WordPress, having the liberty to start an own website or blog or making an effort to join ranks and bring writers together on one place to talk about certain specific fields. The best way to attract readers is to read and comment on others’ blogs, allowing them to find your main blog, under your own name. But why not put in an extra dimension, not only to let yourself be found on your own blog, but giving hands with others to try to make a website which can be interesting for many, trying to find different subjects put together?

Those studying the Bible could find it interesting to find religious news at one place they could visit regularly or subscribe to. It would be lovely to see “Stepping toes” growing to become such a place where several writers could bring different ideas about ethical, philosophical and religious matters.

Backgrounds to choose

English: The Bible Students' Convention in Ski...

The Bible Students’ Convention in Skien, Norway, 1923 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who are free Bible Students have the advantage that they are a lay-based community where people can act independently. That independence can be good but it may not be that small units are formed, which excludes themselves from others, or do not want to know at all of other groups or denominations. It also would be wrong to say as a religious layman that we do not need theological seminaries or people who pursue studies in the humanities and add minors or majors in philosophy or ancient history, or even major in Biblical studies.

Some serious Bible Students even may think a study of philosophy, derived from Greek roots that mean “love of wisdom”, could interfere with the study of the Bible and could bring the faith in God in danger. We do believe such fear is unfunded. It is not because philosophy is not built on acceptance of belief in God that a person interested in reading philosophical works would not be interested in supernatural powers, gods or the God of gods.

Brains to use

God has given men brains to use. He provided them with a system to think and to allow to order their mind. Every human being should question the things. The Creator God has given us life and wanted us to do something with it. Therefore we do have to reason and wonder why we live, why certain events occur. God allowed people to bring their ideas together in a field of science about the thinking of man. That field tries to give people a unified view of the universe and endeavours to make them critical thinkers. According to some it employs chiefly speculative means rather than observation in a search for truth. We should have some philosophers to go deeper into that matter of reason to think and why we should question so many questions. But there is a lot to ask and a lot to say.

Limitation of man

But when we look at that field of ‘wisdom‘ we always should remember that it only comes from people. They may have been atheists, deists or theists, believers in something or some one, but always they got their capabilities to think and write from the Creator who gave them those abilities. Though no human person is been made perfect, so everyone of us has his or her limitations. As such when we read each others work we should keep that in mind. Never may we put ourself above somebody else nor may we put somebody else above the Creator God.

The Bible informs us:

“It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

History testifies that trying to ignore that limitation has not produced good results. Humans by nature have limitations. Additionally, their experience in life is relatively brief and is usually confined to ones culture or one environment. The knowledge they possess is thus restricted, and everything is interconnected to such an extent that they constantly find aspects that they had not adequately considered. Any philosophy that they originate will reflect these limitations.

We all are connected with the time and culture in which we live. We all ere dependent on the upbringing we got and on the experiences and lessons we wanted to take out of life. There exists a way that is upright before a man, but we get blinded by the things around us, and whatever we try to do we shall all have to encounter the ways of death which  are the end of it afterwards (Proverbs 14:12)

Learning from others

Having the knowledge that we are only just small elements in that big universe, we should be humble enough to recognise that we can and should learn a lot from others around us. The willingness of sharing ideas is a matter of brotherly love. Being prepared to offer your ideas and those of others, to other people around you, even to those you might not know, shows your interest in other human beings. By searching for good ideas, by which you can learn but also others could learn, and the preparedness to share them with others, you can show your love to your neighbour and your willingness to show respect for the Creation of the Most High, where we should try to help each other to become better humans.

We can help each other by giving information and by sharing our knowledge. It is true that the wisdom of the wise men may perish, and we shall also see that the intelligence of the intellectual men will be shoved aside. (1 Corinthians 1:19-25) Many books full of human ideas have disappeared in oblivion. The writers are already long gone, but there are still some few ideas hoovering around. Many wise man, interesting scribes and good debater of this world (the system of things) are already long forgotten, some of those writings having taken with several people to set them thinking. We should know they can give us some ideas, they may set us off to start a debate. Because the Creator has gifted many people they will have told also reasonable things which could help us to grow. We can make use of them. We can listen and meditate about those writings. though we may never forget to put them in the light of the most important writings the world has received.

The book of books to be placed first

Philosophical Studies

Philosophical Studies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we look at the evolution of science, read some old ‘wisdom books’ we can notice that lots of those creative writings in the end did not pull the right string, and many of them had ideas which are already long time ago surpassed. Many of those older writings, wisdom of the old times has become foolish in the world of today. We all should be aware that what we consider to be so today might be not so any more in a few years time. (Look for example at the smallest element of an object which is not any more the molecule or the atom.)

When it is about the universe, its creation and Who is behind everything the world through its wisdom did not get to know the Divine Creator God. God saw good through the foolishness [as it appears to the world] of what is preached to save those believing. The Most High Creator has given The Writings which can bring enough wisdom to have a good life and to find the way to even a better life than we do have hear at the moment, on earth. In those Words given by god we should go and look for the most accurate teaching we can have. In the Bible we can find all the answers we do need to make the best of our life. The Book of books gives us in many writing styles in different ways of telling over and over the same message, so that we can not have any excuse that after reading them we could not understand.

Many people might find those old Writings ‘passé’ and laugh at the wording. They do not understand that a foolish thing of God [as the world views it] is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God [as the world may see it] is stronger than men

“19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:19-25 NIV)

Wisdom on its head

In the passing of time, the history of humankind, we see that God turned conventional wisdom on its head. The Creator of allthings, showed by the works of Creation how many times man was wrong with his ideas how to handle the world. So-called experts became exposed as crackpots. when we do write we also should consider that. We should know that we can not have all wisdom in us, and we may be utterly wrong in certain facts. Also the other person may be right in many facts but may also have it at the wrong end in other facts. Therefore we should be humble and patient when we look at writings from others. We should be aware there can be lots of good in it but also lots of bad. When there is something we do not agree with, that should not mean that it is bad. That what is contrary to our opinion can be wiser than our ideas.  Also the opposite may be true, things which others consider wrong about our way of thinking can be right at the end. We should always look at the wise spectrum which we receive in front of us and be thankful that we can read such a diversity of opinions. This diversity can be more richness than many people think. We should use it more than the critics of this world.

Knowing that not all wisdom can be found it the worldly human writings, we should be content to find find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age. Knowing that God has exposed it all as pretentious nonsense what many have written in the past, we should always turn to His Book of Wisdom, the book of books, the Holy Scriptures which we call in short: the Bible.

Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—[preaching], of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

Going right on preaching

While atheists laugh at the ideas of a supernatural being, Jews clamour for miraculous demonstrations and doubters or those who do find themselves contemporary thinkers, go in for philosophical wisdom, we should go right on proclaiming Christ,’ the Crucified’ and let the world know that it was a man of God who died at the wooden post to look a fool. We know the sign of having this man taken out of death is a sign for what can happen to us. Jews treat this like an [anti]-miracle — and many civics pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God Himself, Christ Jesus, the son of man and son of God, is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one.

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United St...

The Gutenberg Bible displayed by the United States Library of Congress, demonstrating printed pages as a storage medium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.” God has provided in the Bible, the most widely circulated book in the world, a clear statement of his purpose. He has sent his witnesses to discuss it with all who will listen. How foolish for any creature to think that he has wisdom greater than that of God! What a sad mistake it would be to choose such deceptive human philosophy in preference to acquiring true wisdom as a disciple of Jesus Christ, the second-greatest person in the universe, next to God himself!

Danger of unrestrained approach to Biblical interpretation

In an attempt to reconcile the Bible with philosophy many, like the third-century theologian Origen, relied heavily upon the allegorical method of interpreting the Scriptures. More theologians assumed that Scripture always had a spiritual meaning but not necessarily a literal one. As one scholar noted, this allowed Origen “the means of reading into the Bible whatever non-biblical ideas were congenial to his own theological system, while professing (and no doubt sincerely imagining himself) to be a particularly enthusiastic and faithful interpreter of the thought of the Bible.”

This unrestrained approach to Biblical interpretation blurred the lines between Christian doctrine and Greek philosophy. For example, in his book entitled On First Principles, Origen described Jesus as ‘the only-begotten Son, who was born, but without any beginning.’ And he added:

‘His generation is eternal and everlasting. It was not by receiving the breath of life that he is made a Son, by any outward act, but by God’s own nature.’

Origen like many after him violated the basic Scriptural principle: “Do not go beyond the things that are written.” — 1 Corinthians 4:6.

We should be careful not to mix human writings, be it philosophical or theological with Biblical writing.

Disciples of Christ gathering

Those who call themselves Christians, should be followers of Christ. As such they should be eager to get to know the teachings of their Master teacher Christ Jesus, the Nazarene Jew Jeshua of the tribe of King David. His words are written down in the New testament which is complementary to the Old Testament or Hebrew Writings.

Coming together, looking at others, going out to preach, we should always remember that it should not be our aim to prejudge others based on their religious convictions. Among our fellow worshippers are many who at one time sincerely embraced false religious beliefs.

In the New Testament we have the example of the apostle Paul who had established common ground but knew that his listeners were educated in Greek philosophy and unfamiliar with the Scriptures. He adapted his approach in several ways. First, he presented Biblical teachings without directly quoting from the Scriptures. Second, he identified himself with his listeners, at times using the words “us” and “we.” Third, he quoted from Greek literature to show that certain things he was teaching were expressed in their own writings.

The Dawn Office in East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Dawn Office in East Rutherford, New Jersey

We should remember those first followers of Christ and see that they also where willing to listen to others and did dare to use their sayings to let them see how they thought and where they went wrong. Today we also can use those worldly sayings, the many writings of people who are respected by the world. We can and may present the many thoughts which circle the world, be confronted by them, loo at them, think about them, criticise them whenever needy, use them for our advantage, and continue our path on or continuous learning process.

So, some may not find it appropriate to find different denominations their ideas placed together on one platform, we do believe we can learn from each other, as well do show interest in each other and know what is happening in this world.
It is not because we are serious Bible Students and active Christians that we should not look at others their writings, ignore the many ideas which are uttered in this world. It is also not that we should not be allowed to meet with others who do not think exactly the same as us. No, by coming together and by willing to share thoughts, we all can feed each other, and be helpful to develop as human beings.

Not trivial

Andrew Perry notes the problems of confessional bias and liberal unbelief that can subvert the unwary student, then concludes:

“It might therefore seem surprising that we advocate degree level Biblical Studies as a university choice.

“There is much of lasting value in such a choice; a value for life. First, there is the grounding in Hebrew and Greek which is of obvious benefit. Second, there is a vast amount of historically pertinent information to be had about the Bible—information that does not call into question beliefs about the Bible.

“Accordingly, any challenges to faith can be met head-on and handled. Here a study of Philosophy is valuable for the analytical skills it imparts; these skills help a student pick apart the challenges to faith. Furthermore, for every critical viewpoint on a matter, there is always a conservative counterpoint. So, while there are dangers, there are also paths to follow.”

If even one in fifty Christadelphian university students took a minor in philosophy, ancient history or ancient languages, and used that knowledge to the service of our faith, the flow-on effects would not be trivial.

Welcome to all

May we welcome you, and let us do hope we can share many thoughts, being little cogwheels of this world system in which we all together would like to look for a better world for every one, be it a believer, non-believer or other believer.

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Find also to read:

  1. Words to push and pull & Words to bring message
  2. Wisdom lies deep
  3. Many Books, yet One
  4. Unsure about relevance Bible
  5. The Bible: God’s Word or pious myth?
  6. Scripture alone Sola Scriptora
  7. The importance of Reading the Scriptures
  8. Why believing the Bible
  9. Appointed to be read
  10. Do Christians need to read the Old Testament
  11. Getting to know the Truth
  12. Bible for you and for life
  13. The Bible is a today book
  14. Possibility to live
  15. Bible like puddle of water
  16. Loving the Word
  17. The radiance of God’s glory and the counsellor
  18. Science and God’s existence
  19. Creator and Blogger God 3 Lesson and solution
  20. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #5 To meditate and Transform
  21. Trusting, Faith, calling and Ascribing to Jehovah #3 Voice of God #6 Words to feed and communicate
  22. History of Christianity
  23. Seeing the world through the lens of his own experience
  24. Thirst for happiness and meaning
  25. Change
  26. Morality, values and Developing right choices
  27. Power in the life of certain
  28. Be like a tree planted by streams of water
  29. Proclaiming shalom, bringing good news of good things, announcing salvation
  30. Chief means by which men are built up
  31. Golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters obedience
  32. Bringing Good News into the world
  33. Feed Your Faith Daily

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  • October Series of the Month: Kant’s Questions (routledge.com)
    “Have the courage to use your own understanding! – that is the motto of enlightenment.” – Immanuel Kant
    The Enlightenment is one of the most important and contested periods in the history of philosophy. The problems it addressed, such as the proper extent of individual freedom and the challenging
  • The Problem Is That (You Think) You Think Too Much (coriwong.com)
    Hardly anyone has heard of philosophical counseling, but now that I’ve started my own philosophical counseling and consulting business, I’ve had loads of opportunities to describe the “how’s” and “why’s” of this form of philosophical practice. I start by emphasizing that, at the heart of the matter, philosophical counseling entails thinking about our lives and experiences in ways that help us become better people who think, live, and feel better along the way. Even though I think that’s a pretty compelling description of what’s at stake, it’s been met with a variety of responses.
  • Philosophers, those bloated parasites… (naughtthought.wordpress.com)
    Philosophy…the very world bears a halo so tarnished with the fingernail scratches of a desperate hold that its meaning is as dim as it is persistent.Philosophy begins in wonder, in disappointment, with anything except instantaneous experience (according to Laruelle). So say the philosophers. Though few comments have seemed as honest as Lyotard’s – that philosophy is at best graffiti on the ruins of the world.
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    There is also too much to be said about the conceptual engineer figure of philosophy according to Deleuze – the false modesty of ‘just being a brick layer’ but Deleuze does not think he is just a brick layer. He thinks the philosopher can fold the unknown outside into thought. That’s a power beyond brick handling.
  • “For Nietzsche a philosopher’s ideas were less important than the quality of his striving” (kingslandrogue.wordpress.com)
    For Nietzsche a philosopher’s ideas were less important than the quality of his striving towards existence on a philosophical or supra-historical plane.
  • Sartre and some faux intellectuals – An obnoxious view on obnoxious people (semifeminist.wordpress.com)
    I guess coming from a science background, I’d rather hear things about what people do.  If there’s a contradiction between what a person says and what a person does, then the essence of what they say is lost on me.  Show me your faith by your actions… :D :D :D (pssst it’s a reference to James)
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    Ok it’s cool you made some great observations about society and humans. But what have you done about it? Have you presented any model that could change an aspect of society?
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    Walk the talk. Do the deed. Say what you will. It’s that simplicity we need.
  • Word of the Week: ‘Philosophy’ (therelateblog.wordpress.com)
    Philosophy is made up of a range of different branches each discussing different topics which makes it a tricky word to define! For example, metaphysics looks at questions about realty whereas aesthetics considers beauty.
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    There are many other famous philosophers such as Kant, Descartes, Aristotle, Hick, Spinoza and Nietzche. How many can you name?
  • Why Take Philosophy A Level? (scribblingsofasimpleton.wordpress.com)
    Philosophy is not, I repeat not, what you would call a “doss” subject. People often assume that Philosophy is a subject you can take because it’s easy. Anyone that says or believes that couldn’t be more wrong. To be brutally honest, Philosophy is hard. And I mean really hard. Universities look at it at the same academic level as Physics or Maths.
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    Philosophy requires an inordinate amount of brain-power and a Philosophy student will need to question everything-including their own existence. It is not a subject for the faint-hearted.
  • Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence? (theguardian.com)
    David Birnbaum

    David Birnbaum: ‘There must be an answer. How is it possible that so many brilliant people, over thousands of years, have missed it?’ Photograph: Brian Finke for the Guardian

    In the summer of 2012, a number of philosophers at British and American universities received a bulky, unmarked package in the post. It contained a 560-page book, written in English but with the Latin title Summa Metaphysica, by an amateur whose name they didn’t recognise: David Birnbaum. It isn’t unusual for philosophy departments to get mail from cranks, convinced they have solved the riddle of existence, but they usually send stapled print-outs, or handwritten letters; Summa Metaphysica stood out “for its size and its glossiness”, says Tim Crane, a professor of philosophy at Cambridge. The book was professionally typeset. It even included endorsements from Claude Lévi-Strauss, the legendary French anthropologist, who described it as “remarkable and profound”, and from the Princeton physicist John Wheeler, who once collaborated with Einstein. It would later transpire that 40,000 copies were in circulation, a print run any academic philosopher might kill for.

  • Essential Readings on Universalism (afkimel.wordpress.com)
    I thought it might be helpful to others to share the essential stuff that I have read and consider worthy of consideration:
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    As a Catholic theologian, Balthasar could not and would  go beyond the hope that God would save all, but that we must hope and pray for universal salvation, he fervently believed.
  • On being an attractive woman and being taken seriously in philosophy (leiterreports.typepad.com)
    I also use twitter to connect with philosophers around the world, and find it a generally supportive and stimulating space to communicate with like-minded people. But I received a troubling tweet in response to a (non-sexual) photo I posted recently. The tweet was by a male philosopher. He said that philosophers are not supposed to be pretty.These experiences have made me wonder whether being perceived as pretty, to some, will also mean that I will be taken less seriously in philosophy. Clearly, the tweeter’s comment was not well thought out. It was a tweet. But  do we still have distorted understandings about what philosophers are “supposed to be” or “supposed to look like”?