Friday, 26 April 2013

The finite God of David, Isaiah and Jesus versus His rival the absolute God.


First of all I must parenthetically ask you to distinguish the notion of the absolute carefully from that of another object with which it is liable to become heedlessly entangled.

That other object is the 'God' of common people in their religion, and the creator-God of orthodox christian theology.

Only thoroughgoing monists or pantheists believe in the absolute. The God of our popular Christianity is but one member of a pluralistic system.

He and we stand outside of each other, just as the devil, the saints, and the angels stand outside of both of us.

I can hardly conceive of anything more different from the absolute than the God, say, of David or of Isaiah.

That God is an essentially finite being in the cosmos, not with the cosmos in him, and indeed he has a very local habitation there, and very one-sided local and personal attachments.

If it  should prove probable that the absolute does not exist, it will not follow in the slightest degree that a God like that of David, Isaiah, or Jesus may not exist, or may not be the most important existence in the universe for us to acknowledge...

I hold to the finite God... but I hold that his rival and competitor--I feel almost tempted to say his enemy--the absolute, is not only not forced on us by logic, but that it is an improbable hypothesis.

From William James - A Pluralistic Universe