Monday 30 June 2014

A personal God: God who is a person


It seems our great need (here and now) is for a personal God - impersonal deity does not answer to our needs: it just doesn't.

A God who is a person, and who has a personal relationship with us as persons... anything less and we dissolve into meaninglessness.


It is not that it is an error to conceptualize deity in impersonal terms - as bliss, consciousness, physical force, tendencies, cycles, directions... It is not so much an error but a radically partial truth.

It is mostly that if even 100% accepted and assimilated - it doesn't do us any real good: it doesn't do us the good that most needs doing and without which improvements are futile.


To envisage our mortal life on earth as an attempt to dissolve our selves back into deity - to lose person-hood - is to regard life on earth and our selves as some kind of mistake.

Why do we exist as mortal incarnates living on this planet, merely in order to reverse the situation - to dismantle the essence of mortal life? We are conscious only to have the task of destroying consciousness? What for?

No - to aim at obliterating the ego into impersonal deity is an analgesic only - a tranquillizer - a way of numbing the pain of existence: it cannot, intrinsically cannot, provide a purpose for earthly mortality because it denies the basic validity of this state of earthly mortality.


A personal God: a God who is a person... this is a stumbling block for moderns who consider this kind of God to be a naive and childish psychological 'projection' - 'anthropomorphism' - thereby unwittingly accepting a Freudian psychological process which has, of itself, zero validity, to explain-away, dismiss, dissolve the most fundamental and vital basis for motivation.


Motivation is modern man's most lethal deficit: lacking motivation all else follows.

Motivation depends on meaning.

An arbitrary motivation, a contingent motivation, a temporary motivation, a manufactured motivation, a motivation we 'see though - these are not motivations at all across the span of a life - or the scope of a civilization).

Motivation depends on meaning, and meaning depends on personal relations; and personal relations must be underpinned by a personal relation with God else they will destroy motivation rather than sustain it - because we know that we and everybody else will die; and sans God that dissolves everything.


We cannot wriggle off this hook - from where-we-are the choice is stark. We must have a relationship with a God who is a person; or we face nihilism.

This is the situation into which we have been engineered by purposive evil triumphant: we must have a personal God - yet a personal God strikes us as made-up nonsense.

And many people cannot shake-off this sense of made-up-ness: some of them seek refuge in abstract deities of an impersonal type - but such gods do not, indeed cannot, do the job we ask of them - the job that must be done.


So here we are. This is what we must do, or die inside (die inside as individuals and as a society): experience nothingness of motivation, relation, purpose, meaning.

We must believe in, live by, the reality of a God who is a person and with whom we personally can have a relationship.

That's it in a nutshell - no escaping it.



Nicholas Fulford said...

Projection, anthropomorphism, idolatry ... Creating God in the image of man, that is the problem with the personal God.

It leads to as many images of God as there are people, and then there is the problem of attempting to parse out God, (if the personal God exists), from the projected image.

Meister Eckhart - a theologian that even this atheist admires - has this to say:

If I say that “God is good”, this is not true. I am good, but God is not good! In fact, I would rather say that I am better than God, for what is good can become better and what can become better can become the best! Now God is not good, and so he cannot become better. Since he cannot become better, he cannot become the best. These three are far from God: “good”, “better”, “best”, for he is wholly transcendent. If I say again that “God is wise”, then this too is not true. I am wiser than he is! Or if I say that “God exists”, this is also not true. He is being beyond being: he is a nothingness beyond being. Therefore St. Augustine says: “The finest thing that we can say of God is to be silent concerning him from the wisdom of inner riches.” Be silent therefore, and do not chatter about God, for by chattering about him, you tell lies and commit a sin. If you wish to be perfect and without sin, then do not prattle about God. Also you should not wish to understand anything about God, for God is beyond all understanding. A master says: If I had a God that I could understand, I would not regard him as God. If you understand anything about him, then he is not in it, and by understanding something of him, you fall into ignorance.

In silence there is no image to dispel, no argument, no lack of harmony, no idol or delusion. The Quakers sit in a silent circle - waiting expectantly. Sometimes a word is spoken, sometimes nothing.

Because of the perils of projection, it is better to remain silent. Even as an atheist, I find that such silent spaces are where my best and most authentic creative impulses are born. Being open to that, is only nihilistic in the sense of parting the veils of my delusions, to sit and wait patiently for what is genuine.

I try to write, to find my authentic voice. It means I have to sit in silence a lot, to avoid imposing and making my narratives and characters wooden. I have to have enough patience to listen, and then report it as well as I can.

Bruce Charlton said...

@NF - Yes, but that doesn't work - it is demonstrably inadequate for difficult times and situations. If each Man's resources sufficed, then there would be no discussion.

Luqman said...

Anything that isnt a personal God is simply not God. It is more akin to a Godhead than anything else. That doesnt mean that God has to be a person like anyone else. I mean, how could that even be? The motivations, desires, thoughts, the personality of a being of God`s nature cannot possibly be like that of man (though they may share some essence, and I believe they do).

The idea of a personal God is in fact the most basic concept, the children`s concept, of God. So the detractors that claim this is `childish` have some semblance of a point. Except that this is the truest realization of the Lord. The trusted voice in the head, maybe even the imaginary friend. Someone who cares for you and understands you completely. Its childishness is a point in its favour.

This is not God in the image of man, but an awesome being with a personality. A personality that bleeds through in canonical religious texts so often in human history that it can only be either something universal to the human psyche or... truly a personal God.

David said...

@NF- "I try to write, to find my authentic voice. It means I have to sit in silence a lot, to avoid imposing and making my narratives and characters wooden. I have to have enough patience to listen, and then report it as well as I can."

I have often found this as well when i was still an atheist but then i questioned the source of the can you draw water from a well if there is no well and the water only imaginary? How can an atheist use this approach and expect wonderful truths and inspiration to flow from the silent void of emptiness that an atheist must appeal too in this mode of seeking an "authentic inner voice"? It makes little sense if we consider it further does it not? We must presuppose a source of truth (God) or be the source of God (solipsism) to explain the effectiveness of the approach to seek inspiration by this method. I suppose a third outlier explanation might be dharma or some eastern concept as source of truth but then that seems like a free spinning cog lost in infinity, a bit like saying we have a book that gives us the laws of truth, beauty and virtue but deliberately denying there was ever an author to the greatest book ever written.

Just an observation.