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Who%20or%20What%20is%20God?

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Application in Cobb's 'Emptiness and God' ... Religious Problem with Emptiness ... 'Emptiness' is not an idea which can accommodate this judgmental or ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Who%20or%20What%20is%20God?


1
Who or What is God?
2
Vishnu
Buddha
Contemplating God
Jesus Christ
He (Allah) Knows Everything
3
Primitive Mother
Parvati young lover
Virgin Mary
Kali wrathful goddess
4
The Limits of Imagry
Nanak, First Sikh Guru (15th 16th Century C.E.)
On a visit to Mecca, Nanak was waked from sleep
by his Muslim hosts and admonished not to lie
down with his feet toward God. He responded, Try
to point my feet where God is not, as God is
everywhere.
5
Traditional and Philosophical Notions of God
6
God Beyond Images
  • Personal or Impersonal?
  • Separate from, or part of, reality?
  • With, or without, limits?
  • Like, or unlike, we humans?
  • Comprehensible or incomprehensible?

7
Our Knowledge of God
  • Revealed Theology
  • Natural Theology
  • Passively received
  • Prophetic utterances
  • Sacred literature
  • Actively constructed
  • Experience and observation
  • Rational inferences
  • In principle, doctrines are absolute
  • By rules of logic, conclusions are probable

8
Avicenna Necessary Being
  • Essential elements of the main argument are
    pretty straight-forward

Main Premise All beings cannot be contingent
they cant all be caused and conditioned.
Conclusion a necessary being must exist this
is what we call God.
Reconciling this conclusion with more traditional
conceptions of Gods essential properties is more
difficult!
9
God as Emptiness
Cobb introduces a new consideration
God is often considered a being without limits
the literal meaning of infinite
Every property is a limit, in (at least) the
sense that the predication of a property entails
the negation of any other incompatible
properties.
His conclusion that God has no positive
properties, or is more accurately characterized
as Emptiness that reality which, because it
has no nature or properties itself, allows all
other beings to be.
10
Glossary - AVicenna
Essential Concepts and Their Use in the Readings
11
  • Contingent and Necessary Being

Contingent having the property of being caused
by another of existing only under specific
conditions Necessary having the property of
being uncaused of having to exist by virtue of a
beings nature

Application in Avicennas The Nature of God

The necessary being is derived from the
contingent beings of the universe, as the place
where the causal chain of creation must have
started. By definition, contingent beings did not
at one time exist a previously existing being or
power is the condition of a contingent beings
existence. Without a necessary being which by
definition does not depend on a previously
existing being or power for its existence there
would be no beginning of the causal events which
ultimately created the universe as we know it.

12
Essential and Accidental Properties
Property a quality or trait belonging to a
being. Often said to be predicated of a being,
by virtue of the subject-predicate
relation. Example Greatness can be predicated
of God God is great
Essential Property a quality or trait which
makes a being the kind of being that it is a
quality or set of qualities that define a
category of beings Example Mammals give birth
to their offspring.
Accidental Property a quality or trait which is
possessed by a being, but is not essential to
that being a potentially mutable quality of a
being Example A college education can take 5
years to complete.
13
Essential and Accidental Properties - Applications
  • Avicenna is concerned with showing two things
  • that God a necessary being cannot have
    accidental properties, and
  • that God cannot change God is perfect and
    complete

1. All the properties of a necessary being are
one with its very nature (including its
existence, Avicenna argues). That is, all its
properties are essential properties, and these
are all completely unified. Therefore, they
cannot be either acquired or lost. But accidental
properties can be acquired and lost. Such
properties, therefore, cannot be predicated of a
necessary being.
2. Obviously, if no properties of a being can
change, that being will be what it is, as it is,
for the entire span of its existence. In the
case of a necessary being, existence is eternal
if a being is necessary. This line of thinking
adds the observation that existence cannot be an
accidental property, as all accidental
properties can change.
14
Quiddity and Reality
Quiddity the essence or whatness of a being
the sum total of the properties that make a being
what it is
Reality the existence or actual being of a
being its ontological actuality or factuality
Application in Avicennas The Nature of God
To have reality, contingent beings depend on
other beings or powers. Thus, what they are
their quiddity - can be distinguished in fact as
well as in principle from their reality, or their
actual existence. Example the nature of a table
exists in the carpenters mind before it
actually exists in reality (after s/he has made
the table)
According to Avicenna, a being that is necessary
has a nature or quiddity, but if this being is
uncaused (if it is not dependent on a prior
existing being for its reality), then there was
not a time in which it did not exist. Its nature
cant be distinguished from its reality.
15
The Four Kinds of Causes
Active Cause that power or activity which
actually brings something into existence. Examples
the physical labor of the carpenter as s/he
creates the table the physical processes
governing the development of the fetus into a
human being.
Material Cause the stuff out of which a being
is made. Examples the oak from which the table
was made the protein-based materials out of
which a human being is made
Formal Cause the kind of thing which is being
made or caused to exist. Examples a table,
rather than a house or a sculpture a human
being, rather than a dolphin or a cat (note the
material cause can accommodate many different
formal causes)
Final Cause the function a thing performs in its
environment the purpose for which a thing was
created Examples to have a place for eating,
working on papers, etc ?, deciding the purpose
of human existence would involve us in the
meaning of life, which is certainly up for debate.
16
The Four Kinds of Causes - Application
With respect to contingent beings, the various
causes can really exist independently of each
other (with the possible exception of the formal
and final causes). Example the carpenter thinks
about the table without having either the
materials or the tools to bring the table into
existence.
Avicenna claims that in whatever way we think of
how God could be (i.e., no matter which kind of
cause we consider), we cannot think of any of the
various causes existing without the
others. Consider If all the properties of God
are necessary, none can be either created or
destroyed. If these properties define Gods
nature, then His nature can be neither created
nor destroyed. This means that the set of
properties, and therefore the being described by
these properties, can be neither created nor
destroyed.
17
Glossary - Cobb
Essential Concepts and Their Use in the Readings
18
Metaphysical Dualism
Metaphysics the theory of reality the area of
philosophy which attempts to distinguish the real
from appearance, or from the illusory
Dualism from dual, or two, the view that
there are two distinct substances out of which
the entire universe is created. Typically, the
two are characterized as matter and spirit.
Application in Cobbs Emptiness and God
Metaphysical dualism creates an unacceptable and
unhelpful conceptual tension in the concept of
God, which suggests that a different metaphysics
is worth considering.
If God is purely spiritual, God cannot be a
father, king or any other person whose role is
modeled on the secular world and whose role is
therefore incompatible with other roles (mother,
servant).
If God is purely physical, God is not worthy of
worship
19
Emptiness
In a dualistic ontology
  • being and non-being are incompatible states of
    reality.
  • Example there is sound, or there is silence (the
    absence of sound) one has goodness, or one
    doesnt and so forth.
  • non-being cannot be described, experienced or
    coherently discussed.

In a Buddhist ontology
  • Non-being is as real as being both are aspects
    of ultimate reality.
  • Example without silence (for example pauses
    between sounds in spoken communication, empty
    spaces between physical marks in written
    communication), there would be no comprehended
    speech.
  • Ultimate reality can therefore have no
    properties
  • Rationale the possession of any property
    logically excludes the possession of a
    conflicting property. If ultimate reality is the
    source of all beings (thus, all properties),
    ultimate reality must have no nature itself.

20
Religious Problem with Emptiness
If God, as ultimate reality, is in fact the
ground of all other beings, then God has no
defined properties, including those which
traditionally define God as good, or just, or
even all knowing.
This would suggest that God is himself beyond
not just all properties, but also all dualisms
good and bad, just and unjust, etc.
This God is not a god of either worship or moral
guidance.
But religions have also long promoted the idea
that there is a right way for us to act and in
fact for the universe to be. Emptiness is not
an idea which can accommodate this judgmental or
discriminating approach to reality.
21
The Ultimate of Rightness
  • According to Cobb, Christianity understands and
    prioritizes this rightness

This priority tends to anthropomorphize our
concept of God. Doing so is unacceptable, because
God cant just be one more being among other
beings.
However, this priority also tends to engage our
intuitions that there are things that are more
rather than less important more rather than less
desirable right rather than wrong.
Cobb concludes that there is another ultimate
besides that of the ineffable, indescribable
Emptiness of Being This is the ultimate of
rightness, through which we experience a
trans-human domain of goodness and of development
from the worse toward the better.
22
A New Concept of God
  • Cobb is thus trying to integrate two distinct but
    venerable traditions in world religions

1. Mysticism God is the ultimate ineffable
reality Metaphysics God, to be the ground of
all beings, cannot have properties of his own
2. Morality God desires and acts to achieve
goodness in the universe.
Cobb does not achieve this goal of integration.
He does, however, ask us to consider thinking of
the ultimate in non-personal ways, and in ways
that will incorporate as much of world religions
as is reasonable.
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