I have really dropped the ball on blogging lately. I love to write and I have missed it, but we have been so stressed lately and I have just felt like such a downer that I didn’t really want to write another thing talking about how difficult life can be. Instead, I thought it would be interesting to ask my husband to write something. He tends to have really deep and thought-provoking insights to many things. Honestly, though, I expected him to write some little fluff piece just to help me through my bummer phase. I got way more than I bargained for (in the best way possible). So without further ado, here is a post written by my (BA in philosophy) husband, Joshua. Take it away, honey!
My goal is not to prove outright the existence of God, that would be quite the ambitious (and impossible) project and therefore one that has found home in entry-level philosophy classes. My goal here is to try to understand the foundation upon which my belief in God rests, namely, what is God. I know what you may be thinking right about now and this won’t be that, I promise. There will be no scriptures, no stories of when the Spirit touched me, no testimonies of others. This project will be different, because frankly, I’m different. I find enjoyment in thinking critically and questioning my closest held truths, such as knowing that Tova, my cat, actually exists. But, what does it mean to exist? And if I exist, how can I be justified in knowing that what I see is actually what I see? Is it worth knowing how things are outside of my perceiving them? This project was inspired by Descartes (the “I think, therefore I am” guy) and his desire to eradicate all doubt and find some grain of truth that he could then build his beliefs upon. In his Meditations on First Philosophy he said “I realized that it was necessary, once in the course of my life, to demolish everything completely and start again right from the foundations if I wanted to establish anything at all in the sciences that was stable and likely to last.” This same thing I hope to accomplish with my belief in God; however, I’m no Descartes, so it won’t be as complex. Still, I think it’s important every once in awhile to ask yourself what you believe in and think critically about why you hold that belief (I would hope this process takes more than 20 minutes; I’ve been thinking about this for about a month now), for if you hold some belief as true then you are responsible for placing that belief under a lifetime of scrutiny.
Anyway, let’s get to it.
My first inclination was to define God as the highest order of Being. But, I quickly realized that this definition cannot be true because to be a Being is to be flawed and finite, and God, by its very nature, is infinite. Even if God were to be the highest order of Being, that Being would just be a relation between what that Being is now and what that Being will be in the unfolding of life’s temporal realm of possibilities. This means that to be of the highest order, the being of all beings, is simply to be something that is completely (emphasis on completely) aware of its own potential. With enough determination and practice anyone can do that. However, this Being could not be completely aware of anything else, because its awareness can only expand as far as its senses. And when its sensory organs die, it dies. Thus the Being of this realm cannot reach further than its temporal existence. Having this order of Being means life is always in some amount of question as that Being continually determines which path its life will take. God cannot be like this. God is eternal and spans into infinity, thus making it necessary to exist in a separate and distinct realm – a realm in which we, as finite Beings, cannot inhabit or fully comprehend. I feel like it would be awesome to go further into understanding why I believe that we are part spiritual entities and some how have the ability to go from being finite Beings to Gods of the infinite, but that’s not the aim of this project. So, I’ll save it for another time. Anyway, this is a good start, I think. God cannot be a Being, in that God cannot be something similar to us as we find ourselves now, God is infinite, and God is eternal.
I bet right about now some may be asking: “What do you mean you don’t know what God is? God is the Father.” Although I do agree that God is our spiritual father, we must remember that we have been conditioned our whole lives to think of God in a certain way. For thousands of years humans have personified and made this infinite entity/force/whatever into some finite-like being with crazy-awesome powers. This way of thinking removes God from its rightly assigned pedestal and places it just a notch above us. We then impose labels on God in order to better understand it. But, if the title Father is stripped away from God then it is still God. We traditionally think of God as male, if we strip away that assignment then God is still God. If we strip away some common attributes such as loving and angry then God is still God. God still has dominion over every entity contained within the cosmos (and maybe further, who knows…). God still exists. There has to be something that if we remove it from God then God will stop being God. That thing is infinity, but unfortunately defining God as just infinite doesn’t help anyone understand it any better than describing a ball simply as round. I feel like being infinite is definitely necessary for something to be God, but there has to be something else that goes with it.
So, this is where it gets tricky (and probably impossible), because God is not a Being as I defined it earlier, and God is fundamentally not a man like we think of our father. God is something else, something more. We know God must be infinite, but of course God cannot be physically infinite, that would just be nonsensical and awkward. Even in some higher realm, being physically infinite just doesn’t make sense. It would mean, as far as my little brain understands it, that God would be the only thing that exists. There would be no room for anything else. (Also, physical as in immaterial…? This is really hard to wrap your head around). Anyway, God could potentially be emotionally infinite, in that God’s emotional attributes expand forever and touch all things, but this builds off of an understanding of God’s essence, its core nature; I’m still working towards that. Obviously I know about God (I’ve been talking about it this whole time), it would make sense, assuming God is the creator, or catalyst, of the cosmos, that God would be aware of said cosmos. If God is aware of the cosmos that was created by God, then God must be aware of every aspect of that thing. That means God must have some sort of awareness, both of itself, the cosmos, this world, me, and you. It is aware of all things, thus God has an infinite awareness of material and immaterial entities. So God is an infinite awareness? That doesn’t really make sense. To be aware, in my opinion, is to be an observer to something else. If I’m aware that Tova is a cat then that simply means that I know Tova is a cat, and I can’t do anything about it. If I’m aware that boiling water is hot, then that doesn’t give me the power to instantly make it cold. I have to go through steps to cool the water. I have to be cognizant of my existence in relation to the existence of the water. I have to have some sort of consciousness. If I’m a conscious being then that means I have mental states, or moods and thoughts, and I can understand and react to the world that exists outside of me. Maybe this is God! What if God is the complete, determined consciousness of the cosmos. God is the truest reality that knows and sustains the laws of the universe. If God is the complete, determined consciousness of all material and immaterial entities, then that means God is the underlying connection of all things. God is in things, moves through things, and thus knows all things.
This is so cool because it explains so much stuff. If I’m a conscious being, and God is the consciousness of the cosmos, then God knows me, my thoughts, my feelings. And, maybe there’s some consciousness web, of which God is located at the center, and maybe the Holy Spirit is the messenger along this consciousness web. When I pray God hears me. God can do all things by means of this power. We’re all connected; we’re all members of this cosmic community. The visions seen throughout scriptures could be God altering our conscious state such that we view within our minds eye the future as God understands it through its infinite awareness. Of course this is all speculation (I love speculation. It’s good stuff), and it probably sounds like I’ve been consuming some rare jungle plant, but please lets try and take a step back from our beliefs. Criticize what you hold to be true. If you want to be the most interesting person at a party then argue something that everyone else strongly believes in. Argue that they’re all wrong, but of course make sure you have reason to hold your position on the matter. This idea of God being the complete, determined consciousness of the cosmos sounds crazy and out there, but it’s completely compatible with modern Christianity. And, if you really think about it, it’s honestly nothing new. I would hope that you, yes you, will try this with some belief of yours, and thus awaken the faculties of your mind to the reality of the world around you. I would hope that you will start thinking for yourself and not what other people throughout your life have told you to think.
Of course there is a ton of stuff in here that I would love to expand on and clarify, but I just don’t have the space to do so. But, I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on anything said in this post, so please comment if you have something to say!