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What is Theism Reducible to?

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Fooloso4 » December 10th, 2018, 4:56 pm

Alias:
Certainly, the author of Job did ascribe a purpose [reason] to the protagonist's tribulations. The way I recall that story, God put him through all that hell and killed off a bunch of innocent bystanders, just to show the devil how faithful Job was... to win a bet. That's a reason, and there is certainly a designer behind it.
There are some problems with this. First, it was Satan who inflicted evil on Job. One problem with this is it is not clear who or what Satan is and what Satan’s relationship to God is. Who’s adversary is he? At one point (2:10) Job attributes both good and evil as coming from God. The Adversary asks whether God has put a hedge around Job and his household (1:10) When at 2:3 God says the Adversary has moved God against Job, it is not clear in what way he moved against him. Had God put a hedge around Job protecting him from evil or was it just good fortune that he had not until then suffered? What happened to Job and his household were the results of natural and manmade events - lightening, wind, being attacked. Second, what happened to Job was not the result of anything he did. He was without blame. Job’s friends thought there must have been a reason why this had happened to him, some wrong doing on his part, but we know there was not. Third, when Job confronts God’s injustice, God’s answer is, you would not understand. If there was a reason for what happened to him, it was not reasonable, it was not a reason he could comprehend. The wager points to the arbitrariness of it. What reason could God have for entering into the wager?
Not all religions are theistic.
What I had in mind was the “weak theology” of John Caputo. He is within the Christian tradition, but on the outside. His concern is not onto-theological, that is, he leaves aside questions of the being and existence of God. It is for him a matter of call and response. Tillich also rejects the notion of a designer, calling God the ground of being.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Alias » December 10th, 2018, 5:55 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:
December 10th, 2018, 4:56 pm
....Third, when Job confronts God’s injustice, God’s answer is, you would not understand.
Plus, "Because I can."
If there was a reason for what happened to him, it was not reasonable, it was not a reason he could comprehend.
Exactly! Designer **** happens for unknowable reasons. Whether it's one supernatural entity doing it or another; whether they're allies or adversaries, they're causing things beyond human control or comprehension.
What reason could God have for entering into the wager?
My guess: ego, or to make the point that it's futile for Satan to covet God's manikins. Doesn't matter: it's still purposeful [by design] on the part of the gods and unfathomable to the mortals below.
Thanks. It's interesting to hear how apologists have danced around this issue.
Not all religions are theistic.
What I had in mind was the “weak theology” of John Caputo. He is within the Christian tradition, but on the outside. His concern is not onto-theological, that is, he leaves aside questions of the being and existence of God. It is for him a matter of call and response. Tillich also rejects the notion of a designer, calling God the ground of being.
So, theists hedging their bets, widening their nets - anything but admit ignorance. Cool.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Alias » December 10th, 2018, 6:24 pm

Okay, I went and read the book.
Fooloso4 wrote:
December 10th, 2018, 4:56 pm
First, it was Satan who inflicted evil on Job.
Authorized by God.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.
Do whatever you want short of killing him.
One problem with this is it is not clear who or what Satan is and what Satan’s relationship to God is.
No, that's quite clear :
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
I suppose this book was written before the revolution. Jesus hasn't been intended yet; Satan is still head boy; he's not identified with the Serpent.
Who’s adversary is he?
Nobody's - yet. He's just skeptical, maybe a bit contrary - playing devil's advocate.
... What happened to Job and his household were the results of natural and manmade events - lightening, wind, being attacked.
That's the way the events were reported to Job; he can't know that it's really Satan manipulating them.
.. what happened to Job was not the result of anything he did. He was without blame.
Of course. God was bragging on the loyalty of this favourite, and Satan retorts:
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
It's only because you protect him and give him everything.
Job’s friends thought there must have been a reason why this had happened to him, some wrong doing on his part,
Because they had been told that their god was just. They had no authority for imagining such arbitrariness. Yet they seem to have no problem with the slaughter of sons and daughters and servants as a result of something the father may have done.

I suspect this version of Jehovah is a holdover from the Sumerian pantheon. They were more capricious.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Fooloso4 » December 10th, 2018, 6:52 pm

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Plus, "Because I can."
Yes, the gap between what God can do and what man is capable of comprehending plays a large part. But even a secularist, and I am a secularist, can appreciate the limits of human understanding. The mythology of God meeting with his sons is not to be taken literally. Here you are showing your own limits of understanding ways of thinking and writing which are not literal. Aristotle said that poetics is more philosophical than history.
Exactly! Designer **** happens for unknowable reasons.
Your assumption is that happens is not designed to happen. In Genesis even God did not know what man would do. With the exception of man, each acts according to its kind. If you are eaten by a lion it is not because that is part of God’s design.
Whether it's one supernatural entity doing it or another; whether they're allies or adversaries, they're causing things beyond human control or comprehension.
Except natural and manmade causes - lightning, wind, and war are not caused by supernatural entities. You are either assuming that this is how the storyteller thinks of such things or you have not sufficiently attended to the story. Christianity has come to see Satan as a supernatural entity but in the Hebrew Bible, a satan means any adversary, anyone or anything that stands in opposition.
Thanks. It's interesting to hear how apologists have danced around this issue.
I am not an apologist. I am an atheist. I simply find the story interesting and try to understand it on its own terms. It is part of our intellectual, spiritual, and cultural history. If you have any interest in the problem of interpreting texts, then I suggest that you be on guard against creating your own dance partners based on assumptions you bring to the text. The author(s) may be much deeper thinkers than you give them credit for.
So, theists hedging their bets, widening their nets - anything but admit ignorance. Cool.
I do not know what your philosophical interests are but if they have anything to do with Continental philosophy or hermeneutics then you would not so readily dismiss Caputo. I do not share his religious beliefs but anyone interested in contemporary thought who has not dismissed continental thought out of hand should be aware that thinkers like Derrida, Caputo, and others have effectively challenged the unexamined biases and categories by which you conceptually divide the world.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Fooloso4 » December 10th, 2018, 11:11 pm

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One problem with this is it is not clear who or what Satan is and what Satan’s relationship to God is.
No, that's quite clear
It is not at all clear, and your assumption that it is indicates that you have not understood the questions the story raises.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
I suppose this book was written before the revolution. Jesus hasn't been intended yet; Satan is still head boy; he's not identified with the Serpent.
Yes, the book was written before Jesus’ time. Just how old it is has not been determined. Who are the sons of God? The term is used in different ways in the Hebrew Bible. One way in which it is used is to indicate human beings who are in God’s favor. Another is for those human beings who are leaders, those who hold power or authority.

It may be that Satan is a mytho-poetic personification of evil. This should not be confused with the reification of evil, personified as a being called Satan or the devil. Such reification is foreign to the Hebrew Bible.

Does Satan coming with them mean that he too was a son or just that he came along with them? There is no indication that he is the “head boy”. Right, he is not identified with the serpent, although the serpent too is an adversary.
Nobody's - yet. He's just skeptical, maybe a bit contrary - playing devil's advocate.
The text tells us:
The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” (1:7, 2:2)
Evil was not absent from the world. Given what transpires it does not seems likely that all he has done is play devil’s advocate.
That's the way the events were reported to Job; he can't know that it's really Satan manipulating them.
And neither can you. This is a mythological tale. How the author understood natural events is not clear. See chapters 38 through 40, about what we would call the natural world and its inhabitants. There is no indication that God is behind these things, they act in according with nothing other than what they are, that is, in accord with their kind. (See Genesis 1 about things acting according to their kind.)
It's only because you protect him and give him everything.
This is a question that Satan asks or asserts as an accusation. In Psalms there is a prayer for protection against evil, but the author(s) of Job does not provide an answer one way or the other. The adversary who walks back and forth across the face of the earth may or may not have eventually encountered Job at some point. All we know is that God does not stand in his way. One might give a shallow reason why he doesn’t, but it may be that the author is pointing to a possibility that is more troubling to certain believers - God does not protect you from evil. Why he suffers is not adequately answered. By extension why any of us suffer and others do not suffer is not something we have an answer to.
Because they had been told that their god was just.
As Job learns at the end, neither he nor them have an adequate understanding of God’s justice. At the end of the story Job makes the distinction between what he has heard (which proves to be untrustworthy) and what he has seen for himself. This too may be troubling for believers in a revealed religion, a religion based on what the prophets have said.
They had no authority for imagining such arbitrariness.
But this is exactly what we humans do. We attempt to make sense of things and invent answers. We often believe that we are somehow to blame for our misfortune.
I suspect this version of Jehovah is a holdover from the Sumerian pantheon.
Authors, including authors of philosophical texts , often frame their stories in terms of those stories they want to supplant. This is a well known rhetorical device. Rather than accepting prevailing beliefs they use familiar ideas and terminology to introduce change. To decide whether this is a holdover requires a detailed side by side comparison.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Alias » December 11th, 2018, 11:49 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
December 10th, 2018, 6:52 pm

[Exactly! Designer **** happens for unknowable reasons.]

Your assumption is that happens is not designed to happen.
I don't quite know what that means. I made no assumption that I think sounded like that.
And, no, my assessment is that, in religious dogma whatever kind of **** happens, there is an intelligence, i.e. grand designer, behind it, who can control it, make it stop or whatever.
In Genesis even God did not know what man would do. With the exception of man, each acts according to its kind. If you are eaten by a lion it is not because that is part of God’s design.
You make it, you own it. If a god designs lions to be predators, that god is responsible for every single one its victims.
[they're causing things beyond human control or comprehension.]
Except natural and manmade causes - lightning, wind, and war are not caused by supernatural entities.
You can have evolution, where natural **** happens. Or you can have ID, where god is responsible for the whole shebang.
I am not an apologist.
You referred to several.
The author(s) may be much deeper thinkers than you give them credit for.
They get plenty enough credit; don't need mine.

Geez! Guy asked me to reduce theism, that's all. I reduced it.
That was a pithy exit-line, not a philosophical treatise.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Belindi » December 11th, 2018, 12:14 pm

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-theism/

The lowest common denominator for God concepts is possibility.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Fooloso4 » December 11th, 2018, 2:35 pm

Alias:
Your assumption is that happens is not designed to happen.
I don't quite know what that means.
Sorry, I meant that your assumption is that what happens is designed to happen.
And, no, my assessment is that, in religious dogma whatever kind of **** happens, there is an intelligence, i.e. grand designer, behind it, who can control it, make it stop or whatever.
Call it what you will, the question is whether the text conforms to it or if you are imposing it on the text. The Hebrew Bible is not monolithic, it is a compilation developed and edited over a long period of time, but if you look carefully at the two stories of the beginning, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, there is no mention of an intelligence, a grand designer, or a controller of creation. In fact, as the story moves forward it becomes clear that God is not in control of what happens and does not foresee what will happen. Genesis 1 is about bringing order to primordial chaos through acts of separation. All things are fluid and indistinct. Genesis 2 begins with the opposite problem, everything is dry, unmoving and unchanging, until God causes it to rain. Motion and stasis, the changing and unchanging, the same duality the Greeks addressed.
If a god designs lions to be predators, that god is responsible for every single one its victims.
The claim that God is responsible for making lions and that God designs the particulars of what happens, that God designs it so that you will be eaten by a lion, are two different things.
You can have evolution, where natural **** happens. Or you can have ID, where god is responsible for the whole shebang.
Right, and you are imposing the concept of intelligent design on a story that has nothing to do with intelligent design. The God of the Hebrew Bible is not characterized by intelligence but by will. The idea of an intelligence or mind that creates an intelligible world is an idea from the Greek philosophers.
They get plenty enough credit; don't need mine.
You can dismiss it because you do not understand it or you can attempt to understand it. Whatever you decide to do is up to you but there are others here who might be interested in coming to a better understanding of an influential text that continues to draw the attention of many thoughtful people whether they are theists of some sort or not.
Guy asked me to reduce theism, that's all.
This is a philosophy forum. It is not simply about soliciting opinions but about examining and informing them. To say that theism is reducible to the need to control simply does not hold up in the face of what is being discussed by some contemporary philosophers and theists. Again, this may be of no interest to you but it may be of interest to others who would be misled by hearing it is about control.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Alias » December 11th, 2018, 3:43 pm

I examined the proposition and reduced the topic to its basic common concept.

Job is not the Bible: it's a story of doubtful etiology included by the editors for its message ["Shut up and take it!"]. I do not consider it a profound work of philosophy or spiritual guidance or enlightenment.
The Bible does not contain all of the Judeo-Christo-Islamic tradition, which, in turn, does not encompass all the variants of theism. If that whole big ball of wibbly-wobbly, magicky-mysticky stuff has a common basis, it originates considerably farther back in time than the Job story, or the Jehovah character, and most decidedly does not include the post-Christian maybe-God-isn't-a-person-after-all school of theology.
If all of it can be reduced to a single, simple idea, my candidate is that craving for control over external events through a human-styled supernatural entity; a fixer/guardian who listens and cares.
Hence my distinction between the naturally occurring manure of the real world and the custom-fashioned effluent of wishful thinking.
If that's not profound enough, I guess I'm no philosopher.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Spiral Out » December 11th, 2018, 9:03 pm

Spectrum wrote:
March 13th, 2018, 12:16 am
Now almost 90% of humans are theists believing in the common ideology of theism in manifesting is various forms of theism and theistic religions. Seemingly the theistic impulse is more critical and override even the sex and food impulses.

So what is theism and its forms are reducible to at the fundamental level?
Primarily fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the consequences of social non-conformity (historically), etc.
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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Dark Matter » December 12th, 2018, 3:12 am

Spectrum wrote:
March 13th, 2018, 12:16 am

So what is theism and its forms are reducible to at the fundamental level?
Quite an assumption, there.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Belindi » December 12th, 2018, 8:31 am

Fooloso4 wrote:
Job is not the Bible: it's a story of doubtful etiology included by the editors for its message ["Shut up and take it!"]. I do not consider it a profound work of philosophy or spiritual guidance or enlightenment.
I read an explanation of the 'whirlwind' from which God spoke, and this explanation helped me to appreciate a truth which I got from the story of Job. The explanation of the 'whirlwind' was that where Job lived there were dust devils aka whirlwinds made visible by the whirling in the wind of dried up rootless bushes.

There is therefor no reason to be found for Job's sufferings. The story of Job is either deterministic or fatalistic. God's role is that of the pragmatic wisdom to accept what has no explanation. John Keats knew that sort of wisdom, naming it as " negative capability".

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Papus79 » December 12th, 2018, 8:36 am

A couple things on Job. AFAIK it's considered one of the oldest books in the bible in terms of when it was written (could be 1500 - 2000 BC). Also the message seems to revolve around the idea of conveying that there are other reasons than sin for bad things happening, an issue that seems like it's probably plagued us since animism in tribes and people still ask regularly 'why do bad things happen to good people'.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Belindi » December 12th, 2018, 12:50 pm

Papus79 wrote:
December 12th, 2018, 8:36 am
A couple things on Job. AFAIK it's considered one of the oldest books in the bible in terms of when it was written (could be 1500 - 2000 BC). Also the message seems to revolve around the idea of conveying that there are other reasons than sin for bad things happening, an issue that seems like it's probably plagued us since animism in tribes and people still ask regularly 'why do bad things happen to good people'.
Yes. However might we rather say "causes for things happening", as 'reasons for things happening' implies conscious intent.

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Re: What is Theism Reducible to?

Post by Fooloso4 » December 12th, 2018, 1:13 pm

Belindi:
The story of Job is either deterministic or fatalistic.
I don’t see it that way. The Hebrew Bible in general portrays a view of the world as wild. Man must subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). As Adam and Eve came to know (Genesis 3:7), we are naked, that is, exposed and vulnerable. Unless God has made a hedge around you (Job 1:10), you are not immune to evil. That evil will befall you is always a possibility. As I see it, it is a matter of chance and accident, not determinism or fatalism.

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