Now, I tend to agree with Armstrong on almost all of her points. Aquinas’ proofs are nothing of the sort and it’s fallacious to think so. But they are ways of thinking of God reasonably…
Karen Armstrong’s discussion of Aquinas
Few thinkers have made such a lasting contribution to Western Christianity as Thomas Aquinas (1225–74), who attempted a synthesis of Augustine and the Greek philosophy which had recently been made available in the West.
The God I believe in is hard to describe, at once inscrutable but very close to us on a personal and intimate level. The Jesuits “define” God thus:
God–Various titles or names are given to the Mystery underlying all that exists–e.g., the Divine, Supreme Being, the Absolute, the Transcendent, the All Holy-but all of these are only “pointers” to a Reality beyond human naming and beyond our limited human comprehension. Still, some conceptions are taken to be less inadequate than others within a given tradition grounded in revelation.
Jesuit spirituality encourages us to be aware of the images of God we have in our heads and to jettison childish, destructive, hurtful images, e.g. an accountant of good and evil waiting to damn or redeem based on your account balance, while cultivating adult images that help us to love God more deeply (and consequently humanity). So these are the images that inform how I apprehend God. Let me be clear, these images are not God.
No image fully captures who God is. We naturally try to put our experience of God into words, but all words will be inadequate because we are dealing with God, who is Ultimate Mystery. We must be careful not to turn our images of God into idols. Instead, we let God reveal Godself to us, gently and naturally.
Ground of Being – God doesn’t exist within a set of dimensions. Existence and essence have their root, so to speak, in God. (Thanks to Tillich for this.)
Love – God is not loving. God IS love.
Mind – The God of physicists, e.g. Einstein, and mathematicians who see the way our universe works under the precise laws of physics, who cannot help but see how they point to a Mind that constructed them.
Person – Being brought up in a western tradition, I relate to God personally. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best on how God relates to us personally in our deepest (and sometimes darkest) moments.
Trinity – I must admit I was very hostile to this doctrine back in the day. Learning the sordid history behind the Arian Controversy, I judged it (unfairly) by the at times ugly process that led to its authorship. But as I learned more about mysticism and theologies that teach that paradox can be powerful for disciplining against our idol making tendencies, I saw the beauty it holds. Three Persons in One God is indeed non-rational, even nonsensical (especially to those who worship rationality) but apt since we Christians experience God as all three.
Good/Hope – Eschatologically speaking, God is my hope that on the cosmic scale, the Good prevails, despite the horror of the present.
Truth – God for me is True in every sense including the objective.
Jesus – The Master and example of what a human being looks like who is in intimate communion with God. So much so that we Christians make the audacious claim that he is God.
Justice/Blackness – As a black man, God is intimately connected with both justice and my racial identity. Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the God of Abraham. Well, God for me is also the God of the Negro spiritual, of singing instructions to runaway enslaved people for the Underground Railroad under the nose of the Overseer, the God of enslaved people who read Exodus under pain of death while “Pharaoh” preached St. Paul’s slave theology, a God who “makes a way out of no-way,” a God who is “good all the time and all the time God is good,” who “may not come when you want Him but is always right on time,” the God who inspired King to exclaim on the night before he was murdered, “I’ve been to the mountain top!” and “I just want to do God’s will!” This by far is the most powerful image because it has been and continues to be lived by necessity. The relentless onslaught this world has made on us for centuries make it so.
So there is my list. That’s the God I believe in so to speak.
Ask any of us monotheists if we believe God is a god of volcanoes and the discussion will be cut short by weird looks and lots of laughter.
Right now atheists seem to be all abuzz about Yahweh, a.k.a The Volcano God, in some weird attempt to discredit The One we Christians, Jews and Muslims worship today. Ask any of us monotheists if we believe God is a god of volcanoes and the discussion will be cut short by weird looks and lots of laughter.
‘What Shall I Say to You?’ | Commonweal magazine: “What did that Latin quotation say to me that afternoon nearly half a century ago? It began, surely, in the notion that God was no mere Big Someone or Something outside of me, the anonymous Ground of Being. Rather, in the words of the great Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, God was a fathomless, transcendent ‘Thou’ with whom, even in my moment of wavering, I was still wrestling. But what of it? What, really, did I hear, in the chanted Latin running through my mind that afternoon, to reverse the bleak intuition of the utter emptiness of myself and the mysterious absence of God?”
Recently, I was taken to task about the morality of homosexuality and how the Bible “clearly” teaches it’s practice is a sin. Frankly, I never believed that and having other priorities chose not to bother examining the issue other than cataloguing some verses. Other things are important to me in my faith journey. But given all the proud bigotry surrounding so-called “gay marriage” and the civili rights of LGBT persons I’m seeing, I decided to give it a look see.
UPDATE: The post has been updated for clarity and to reflect an evolving understanding of my LBGT brothers and sisters.
Recently, I was taken to task about the morality of homosexuality gay individuals having intimate relations with their beloved and how the Bible “clearly” teaches such is a sin. Frankly, I never really believed that and having other priorities chose not to bother examining the issue other than cataloguing some verses. Other things are were important to me in my faith journey. But given all the proud bigotry I’m seeing, surrounding so-called “gay marriage” and the civil rights of LGBT persons, I decided to give it a look see.
Finished The Case for God by Karen Armstrong. Brilliant book. Though the title is an unfortunate victim of marketing-speak. It’s not an apologetic to convince you of anything except that being convinced means your are doing the God thing wrong. As usual the history she breaks down for the reader is immensely illuminating.
At the end of the day to quest for that Reality some of us call God is quintessentially human with all the attendant good and evil. Faith is more like marriage than some intellectual exercise (or surrender). Religion is work. Some are good at it and some aren’t.
Recently one of my more devout friends got into a mini-debate about so-called Creation Science and the veracity of the Bible as a scientifically true book. His pièce-de-résistance was the article below. It’s not my purpose here to refute Creation Science itself, but to refute calling it true science. It is, like phrenology, a pseudo-science.
Recently one of my more devout friends got into a mini-debate about so-called Creation Science and the veracity of the Bible as a scientifically true book. His pièce-de-résistance was the article quoted below. It’s not my purpose here to refute Creation Science itself, but to refute calling it true science. It is, like phrenology, a pseudo-science. Continue reading “Theoretical Creative Destruction”
I have a good friend who is a staunch materialist and enjoy a little back and forth with him about God. We don’t debate since that’s of little value. But in the course of our discussions I’m struck by how religious the arguments for atheism are and how absolute their proponents’ faith is in only what can see, hear, and touch.
I say faith because that is by definition belief in something impossible to prove. You simply can’t prove a negative without, dare I say it, the infinite knowledge of God. (Props to Professor Michael Eric Dyson for challenging me on my fideistic acceptance of materialism.) But that’s not the only reason why I call it faith.
The sheer arrogance of the likes of Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins is reminiscent of the Magesterium in times past and, to my regret, not so distant past. We know The Truth while the rest of the world is either deluded, stupid, or both. It’s implicit in the ideology. Even well meaning folks can’t seem to avoid it. One of the coolest people on this planet I know asked me “Why do you believe in God, Rob, you’re so intelligent?” out of genuine curiosity. Except for his atheism, he is the opposite of Dick Dawkins. (Yes, I mean the pun). At Bible study/Church school, we are going through adult catechism over the next year. It’s amazing how the ethos is identical insofar as the tendency of all too many to look down on the beliefs of others.
I love Truth and work hard at finding it but I’m not so prideful to claim it as my own. I have to be, like a good scientist would be, willing to accept that tomorrow’s discovery will turn my world upside down else I have no faith, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
And on that note:
I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.