Friday, July 28, 2006

A description of God


He is infinite - in regards to time, space and strength.
He is eternal, He is everywhere and He does everything.
He has no physical form and His nature is entirely beyond our comprehension.
[The essence of idolatry is the belief that God has some physical form or nature that can be understood by us.]

What He does:
He creates everything.
He controls everything.
He knows everything.

What He does not do:
He does not make mistakes.
He does not have conflicting emotions.
He does not cause pain unjustly.

In summary: He is the Perfect Giving Being.

Man's task: to emulate in a miniature way this Perfect Giving Being. "Coming closer to God", "cleaving to God" etc. means imitating God in our small way.

30 comments:

Avi said...

Man's task: to emulate in a miniature way this Perfect Giving Being. "Coming closer to God", "cleaving to God" etc. means imitating God in our small way.

Good move. Now tell me how we emulate God. By putting leather straps on? By lighting candles? By not eating certain food? How does that emulate God?

Baal Habos said...

> In summary: He is the Perfect Giving Being.

JP, a gutte Voch

That is basically what the Ramchal says in Derech Hashem. But analyze it. God is perfect, right?

If so:

A) Why does he need us. Because he wants to do good (to be Maitiv). So God has a want? Perfect means no want, no lack. No need for anything.

B) Why doesn't God just give us Good, like a parent does to a YOUNG Child; so you're gonna say Nahama Dechesufa.

But thats because God created us that way. He could have created us without a concern of bread of shame, right?

Also, we might not do merit and get punished. How is this good?

Especially considering that it would seem, by the definition of Chareidim, most Jews will not merit.

And what about the Goyim? They get no Olam Haba, so billions of sols were created destined to have hardships in life.

Avi said...

Baal Habos. Obviously mr non philosopher is not much of a philosopher. But he has a perfect answer for anything that troubles your thoughts. God did it.

jewish philosopher said...

Avi, tefillin remind us to subject our heart and mind to God. Not kosher food damages the soul. Shabbos candles make the Friday night meal more pleasant, the Shabbos being a holiday reminding us of Creation.

Baal habos: I think that we can understand someone's motives only if our intellect is on a level similar to his. For example, my wife knows why I go to work every day. My 4 year old daughter doesn't really. My next door neighbor understands why I cut the grass every few weeks; the ants that live in the grass don't understand. Therefore it is ultimately pointless to "Why" regarding God. We must simply trust him in the way that my 4 month old daughter trusts her mother, even though she has no understanding of all her mother's motives.

sam said...

Avi, what's your beef? You seem to have a problem.

Baal Habos said...

> Therefore it is ultimately pointless to "Why" regarding God

JP, tell that to the Ramchal and all other's who try to explain God.

Furthermore, I don't know first hand God said; so in reality you're asking me to trust the OJ heritage. And that's where my problem is. I can and id trust it as long as there's no contradictory evidence. But there is plenty of evidence that negates it; so why should I trust OJ.

Your 4 year old trusts you, sure because she has no reason not to.

Do you think an abused 4 year old, Rachmana Nitslan, trusts their parents?

jewish philosopher said...

Hi Baal habos. Thanks for writing.

Presumably the Ramchal and others were attempting to explain God’s motives according the limits of human understanding, which are very small. We would only be able to fully understand God if our intellects were comparable to His, which is of course not the case.

You should trust Orthodox Judaism because in the judgment of any fair-minded person the proof against it is unconvincing. Read my blog for more details; for example Atheism: a critique.

We have not been abused. Quite the contrary, we have abused God by continually sinning and rebelling against Him in spite of His infinite kindness. Let’s repent and merit seeing soon the coming of the messianic era.

Avi said...

sam said...
Avi, what's your beef? You seem to have a problem.

Monday, July 31, 2006 3:12:35 PM

I have many problems Sam. If you are a competent psychiatrist we can discuss it. If not why do you ask?

Avi said...

And what about the Goyim? They get no Olam Haba, so billions of sols were created destined to have hardships in life.

Tzadekai oomos haolom yesh lohem chelek lolom haboh. The righteous people of all the nations of the world have a share in the world to come.

Cameron said...

I had to break this to you, but that is a picture of a spiral arm galaxy, not a supreme being.

I noticed a few other discrepancies I was hoping you could clear up for me;

- If God 'controls everything' then we clearly don't have free will. Free will implies the ability to choose from different options, but if God is 'in control' then we don't have any options, or choices, just God's unbendable will.

- She doesn't cause pain 'unjustly'? But if She is in control of everything then She is responsible for ALL PAIN. If even some pain is 'evil' (i.e. childhood leukemia) then God must therefore be evil. Nicely done. You've just proved God is a complete bitch.

- She has 'no physical form' - that doesn't dovetail with 'in control of everything' does it? Afterall, we live in the physical universe, if God is to 'control' it, he must therefore be physical. Please describe how an intangible 'unreal' object interacts with the physical world.

Note: if you referrence Cartesian metaphysics I will simply laugh at you.

- If your God is 'beyond comprehension' then you have wasted an awful lot of time writing about something you admittedly don't and indeed can't, comprehend. But I guess thats the virtue of theology, eh? It doesn't matter what crackpot claims you make you can always retreat to 'He is ineffable'. Not unlike your arguments.

- Lastly, She is the 'Perfect Giving Being'. Sigh. If She is a 'being' then She isn't 'non-physical'. Another contradiction (they just pile up around here). Nor can something non-physical be 'perfect' (Perfection is a quality only human beings assign to things).

That all said, you admit in the first paragraph that you don't have any comprehension of the divine, so I guess I could have stopped my critique right there.

However, since you ignored your own ignorance, I thought it only fair to point it out to you.

Cheers,
Cameron

Avi said...

Cameron. Thats the beauty of being a philosopher. They can philosophize about anything whether they understand it or not. As my friend the non philosopher always says " God did it" What did God do? Not important. How did he do it? Not important. All you gotta do is believe that God did it. Hey in a way maybe he is right. If you can believe that God did it all then we can stop trying to figure it out. We can all stop thinking.

jewish philosopher said...

Cameron, thanks for your comments.

God has given us freedom of choice, however not freedom of action. He remains completely in control of whether or not our actions will come to fruition. You can choose to kill someone for example, however if it’s not yet his time, you will not succeed.

The suffering of children is not unjust. A child may possess the reincarnated soul of a sinner.

I don’t understand why the non-physical cannot control the physical. Our universe is essentially merely a thought in God’s mind.

Men are beyond the comprehension of insects, however insects do have an awareness of us. Likewise, we are aware of God.

“Being” simply means anything which exists and God does exist. “Perfect” means not possessing any weakness or making any errors.

Avi, God does do everything. What’s the problem with that?

Cameron said...

Cameron, thanks for your comments.

- You are welcome

God has given us freedom of choice, however not freedom of action. He remains completely in control of whether or not our actions will come to fruition. You can choose to kill someone for example, however if it’s not yet his time, you will not succeed.

- So lets take your above statement to its logical conclusion, if I were to decide to kill someone, and I am sucessful, that means God allowed it, right? Afterall, we don't have freedom of action, so if my actions are succesfull they must therefore be blessed by God.

The suffering of children is not unjust. A child may possess the reincarnated soul of a sinner.

- Children are children, not reincarnated criminals who deserve to suffer and die from leukemia.

I don’t understand why the non-physical cannot control the physical. Our universe is essentially merely a thought in God’s mind.

- It's a simple question, how does something non-physical affect the physical world? What is mechanism of interaction between a physical particle (like an atom of carbon) and your non-physical entity?

As for your contention that 'our universe is merely a thought in God's mind', you make a classic mistake attributing 'God' human attributes; 'thoughts' are chemical processes of the brain (this seems to me to be indisputable based on the evidence), If 'God' is to have 'thoughts' he must therefore have a 'brain' - which is a physical thing (and in the context we are discussing, it is an essentially 'human' thing as we are discussing it). So either God is a physical anthropomorphic being (i.e. he's an actual 'person') or he can't have 'thoughts'.

Men are beyond the comprehension of insects, however insects do have an awareness of us. Likewise, we are aware of God.

- Insects are aware of us because they can experience us directly in the physical world. Your analogy doesn't hold water unless you wish to contend that God is a 'physical' thing - which you've already clearly stated he isn't.

“Being” simply means anything which exists and God does exist. “Perfect” means not possessing any weakness or making any errors.

- I don't have any problem with either definition, except that neither make any sense when used to describe God. A 'Being' is a physical entity in the universe - something contradictory to your God conception. 'Perfection' (being without weakness or errors) is as I mentioned previously, a human conception and not something found in the universe (it is a judgement about things, not a quality of things).

Which reminds me, I also have an issue with the word 'eternal' - afterall, if the universe isn't eternal (and it isn't, it will eventually expand to a point where it suffers from heat death), then how is it that we concieve of God as 'eternal'? Again, it's a human notion not found anywhere in nature.

Cameron

jewish philosopher said...

Hi Cameron. Welcome again.

"if my actions are succesfull they must therefore be blessed by God."
No. If God has told us you cannot do what you did, then you will be punished for doing it. Had you listened to Him and not done it, God would have found another way to cause that event.

"Children are children, not reincarnated criminals who deserve to suffer and die from leukemia." How do you know that?

And you seem very convinced that if God is not physical we cannot know anything about Him. Perhaps. But we certainly can know what He does and we can know what He isn't.

Goatboy said...

"Children are children, not reincarnated criminals who deserve to suffer and die from leukemia." How do you know that?

Jewish Philosopher, how do you know that they are?

jewish philosopher said...

I don’t. Cameron is trying to prove God’s injustice. I am merely pointing out that a kid with cancer proves nothing.

leppy said...

I know all of this was written long ago, but I support your statements jewish philosopher. I am not jew. But I have heard these aetheist arguments before.

Anonymous said...

How come this god allows the innocent to suffer so?

jewish philosopher said...

For example, who?

Anonymous said...

People who are killed en mass in natural disasters or epidemics or have congenital diseases. My own mother had a terrible time for two years before she died, she was not perfect but she certainly did not "deserve" what happened to her. You cannot explain these things away.

jewish philosopher said...

Suffering may cleanse a person spiritually from sin. This is to his benefit, not detriment, in the afterlife.

Anonymous said...

From the way you talk, the God you forward sounds more like Kali.

But if everything is possible for God, why should he not be able to take human form, give himself up to be killed and rise from the dead, or become really present under the form of bread and wine?

And would not this incarnate God have all the attributes of God, in human form?

jewish philosopher said...

Henry, the fact is that this blog is really aimed at fellow Jews and I'm not at all trying to influence gentiles. However, if you really want to know my opinion, I'll tell you.

I think it's obvious that the more extraordinary a claim is, the more extraordinary the evidence must be to make it plausible.

The claim that a particular person is God is probably the most extraordinary claim that anyone can make. How much evidence would be required for me to convince you that I am God? Probably quite a lot. Likewise, the central claim of Christianity, that Jesus of Nazareth was God, requires extraordinary evidence. If he would have caused the sun to stand still for a day and that sign would have been witnessed and recorded by all mankind and he would have then miraculously blasted off into heaven in front of a million eye witnesses, that might start impressing me. However actually nothing at all like that happened, even according to Christian writers. Therefore, I assume that Jesus was merely a charlatan, who claimed divinity as have many others.

Anonymous said...

On the safety principle you referred to in another post, the assumption that Jesus was a charlatan could be risky. What if he was not?

I take it then that it is your view that millions of people have been fooled over a period of two millenia.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, the way I look at it is that let's say Judaism seems to have an 80% chance of being true and other religions are 1% or less. Which should I practice?

You must also agree that millions of people have been fooled for millennia. How would you describe Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists?

Anonymous said...

If that is how the figures look to you, then of course you should follow your convictions. Islam is the odd one out amongst world religions, though it has close similarities with other fundamentalisms. As for Hindus and Buddhists, I welcome the insights that those faiths can bring, I would hope to look for the truth wherever it is to be found, regardless of the label attached to it. As a Catholic, I do not nevertheless believe we have the whole truth about everything - I welcome the insights which are to be found by exploring the teachings of other religions.

I do not think it becomes anyone who claims to be a man of God to regard other people's beliefs as of no worth - the criticism needs to be measured and the discourse conducted in civil terms.

Since you are claiming to be directing your blog at returning Jews, there is no need at all to be pejorative about other people's religions.

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Some of the comments posted here are very human, western responses to God. Many people are essentially placing limits on the Divine.

God is perfect. Our imperfect understanding of the Almighty does not change His perfection. Although we were created to ask these questions - to wrestle with the Almighty, to find and search for Him - we will never find these answers because we were not meant to. Instead, we ask these questions to strengthen our relationship with Him.

Humans were not created, Baal Habos, because God needed us. You are right, perfection means (in part) not lacking anything but perfection can produce perfection. Humans were created, whether you like it or not, because God IS love. God does not have love, does not feel love, but IS love. Love, by definition, includes sharing with others.

King David said,

"When I look up at the heavens, and I see the work of Your fingers, I think of man. And I say: ‘What is man, that You remember him? What is all humanity that You take notice of it?’ And yet, You made him just a bit less than God Himself."

I am in a relationship with God, despite my questions, struggles, and lack of perfection. We are born with a fire in our bellies to seek the transcendental; whether that is in the form of alcohol, money, vacations, experiences, or self worship we all kneel at a shrine.

I kneel at a shrine that is the the source and fundamental order of the cosmos: The Logos, The Creator, The Divine, The Almighty, The Holy One, The Sovereign.

Anonymous said...

I am an atheist looking into other beliefs, sell me the idea of a God.

jewish philosopher said...

Just read this blog. Also, on the right hand margin, are links to other excellent sites.

Anonymous said...

He doesn't. People allow themselves to suffer. How could we know what was truly good if everything in life was always good? Life is full of lessons, lessons for our eternal soul not for our limited time physical body. Think outside the box, outside of this world...just because you are physical you may think that is all there is, because that is what you percieve. Perception is everything. Meditate. Blessings.