OrthodoxChristianity.net
July 23, 2014, 04:24:12 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: God's Nature  (Read 517 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
HandmaidenofGod
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (Ecumenical Patriarch)
Posts: 3,378


O Holy St. Demetrius pray to God for us!


« on: July 29, 2010, 04:35:01 PM »

An atheist friend and I were discussing the idea of God, what God is, what God is not, etc., and my friend asked me the following questions?

How do we know God is perfect? Why should we believe God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all powerful? Where is the proof of this? If God is omnipresent, then that means He is present in evil. Why did God create evil? If not God, who?

I thought they were excellent questions, and I honestly didn't have the answers to them.

Your thoughts are appreciated.
Logged

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
Papist
Patriarch of Pontification
Toumarches
************
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Byzantine
Posts: 12,129


Truth, Justice, and the American way!


« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 04:48:21 PM »

Proof for these doctrines come as a result of proof that God is the first cause. There are many proofs of these matters along Thomistic lines, but I don't know how Eastern Orthodox Christians will feel about using Thomas in Christian apologetics. If I were you I woul check out the following website:
www.peterkreeft.com

Not only are there great article on proofs for the existence of God but audio lectures as well.

And also, I would look into the Summa Theologica. It provides poof for God's existence as well as the philosophical proofs for the attributes that you described above. Its a tough read so you might want to start by reading Peter Kreeft's Book, Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
Finally, I would also read the book, Knowing the Love of Christ, Found on amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-Love-Christ-Introduction-Theology/dp/0268033021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280436288&sr=8-1

Here also is an interesting article: http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/godtalk.html

Though I know that Thomas is not necessarily held in high regards in the EO Church anymore, I know at least one ex-atheist who was converted as a result of Thomas' arguments.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 04:50:37 PM by Papist » Logged

Note Papist's influence from the tyrannical monarchism of traditional papism .
Fabio Leite
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Posts: 2,814



WWW
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 05:46:11 PM »

The first thing, and that is what worked for me, is that if "something" exists than it can be perceived somehow, directly or indirectly. "Ideas" about it can only be cultivated after this direct or indirect perception.

The trouble with "God" is that if it is what is usually understood by the word, it can't be an object like the others.

It is not something that exists, but something that makes existence real. So it would be, in logical terms, anterior to existance and being themselves. Truly, in all senses that we use in everyday life, God does not exist if it is to be what we understand by God: the very source of existence.

If God is this kind of "thing", than, of course, our usual ways of examining "things" do not apply. Even the tomistic ways of Aquinas above. At the very most, as many philosophers have done and was sugested by Papist, one could go back and back in this causation process to the ultimate cause, but that would be inconclusive in terms of this "god" is really anything but the "cause" of everything. It could be Christ, Alah or the singularity - and, by that method, the singularity is by far the best choice.

Our research has to be not in our ideas, but in our very existence.

Here comes then two insights, one of C.S. Lewis and one that is mine.

My insight was that atheists and theists agree in one thing: we and the world around us are made of pretty much the same stuff and follow the same rules.

Atheists look at the dead, consciousless matter and think that we are that. Theists look at themselves, see consciousness, values, reason and will and then say that the world is probably like that from inside too.

C.S. Lewis once said that of the natural phenomena, the "I" is the only one we can see from inside. And this "I", is precisely the subjective "I". All the other natural phenomena, we just see "from outside".

Now, if nature is all that there is, if our existence is not a miracle, if our existence is not an exception in nature, our existence is under the same "norms" of all existence. So we are either "subjectivitiless" like we see the other things, or "subjective" like we see ourselves, for we are no exception in the universe. Well, if the only phenomenon we see from inside, is, indeed, bearing subjectivity, we either concede that all the others do, like us, possess some kind of subjectivity *or* that we *are* an exception in the universe.

At that point, we could stop and we would have pantheism. The collective inner "subjectiviy" of the universe would be the only "god".

But then we do have the very convincing and strong arguments of scientists that matter is a "dead" thing, no consciousness, just inert in terms of having any kind of subjectivity.

And the we have us, subjective beings, yes, very much attached to a carbonic robot, but yet we can "see" that the "I" and the robot don't perfectly match. They are like symbionts.

So, this "subjectivity" is a "weakness" in the strictly materialistc point of view. At what point would absolutely inert sub-particles become self-aware? What property of matter would that be?

This provides for the *possibility* of God only and that is as far as rationality can go. But there is a catch.

*If* God is, being beyond everything we know did exist, the only way would be trying to communicate with it.

Truth is that the vast majority of "rituals" in most religions are well-understood psychological processes of self-convincing and even self-brainwashing. To engage in one of them is to risk to brainwash yourself to see what the ritual is meant to make you see.

Again we find a deadend. There is no safe or rational way for us to cross from here to "where" that "god" would be.

But if that communication was not from here to there, but from there to here? Could this "god", if he existed, communicate with us?

The first thing here, then, is to keep it clear that this communication would not be different from any other, that is, a dog communicates as a dog does, the same with a bird, with Jack or Phil. So the claim that God should communicate as we would like him to is *necessarily* to ask to be deceived. It is like saying that unless you prove to me that subparticles exist without mathematics I wouldn't believe they do. At least for now, even the weird images we get from subparticles can only be understood with high maths.

If God exists, "any way" of communication will not do. He probably would communicate in a very specific way, typical of him. But we don't know anything about him, so how would we know it is him?

There is only one way: asking. That's what I did. "Hey God, if you really exist, help me believe it." Now, of course, if he is truly God, he would know if we mean it or if we are just, like Pilates, making a rethorical question and turning our backs.

The consistent response of millions of people around the globe about this experiment is that God *does* reply, specially in that existencial level I mentioned above.

Tell your friend to try it, if he is really into empiricism. I know he is up to a great surprise. Smiley


« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 06:07:15 PM by Fabio Leite » Logged

Many Energies, Three Persons, Two Natures, One God.
Papist
Patriarch of Pontification
Toumarches
************
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Byzantine
Posts: 12,129


Truth, Justice, and the American way!


« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 06:46:54 PM »

Fabio, not to defend this position, but I just would like to clarify, that Thomas does go on to prove that God is infinite, unchanging, perfect, personal, wise, good, etc. So its not just any cause that he is proving. Furhter, Thomas doesn't see God as a thing. In fact, he states that the define substance is too immense to know. Rather, we know what it is not (apophaticism). Anyway, I just wanted to clarify so that you can have a fruitful discussion. I DON"T want to defend the Thomistic approach here as this is the FAITH ISSUES subforum and that would be inappropriate and against forum rules. I just wanted to provide the OP with a possible tool that might be useful to her. Since I do not want to derail this thread I am out. Though if anyone is interested in discussing the Thomistic approach to proving the characteristics of God discussed in the OP, I would be happy to do so in the Orthodox-Catholic Subforum.
Logged

Note Papist's influence from the tyrannical monarchism of traditional papism .
deusveritasest
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Faith: None
Jurisdiction: None
Posts: 7,528



WWW
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2010, 06:50:31 PM »

How do we know God is perfect?

Essentially, He has to be. Either God is perfect or there is no God, at least not in the sense that we think of it. If there was a being that was not perfect, I don't think we would recognize it as God.

Why should we believe God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and all powerful?

Same answer as before.

If God is omnipresent, then that means He is present in evil.

No. Evil is not a thing to be present in in the first place.

Why did God create evil?

He didn't, though He certainly did create the beings who created evil.

If not God, who?

I suppose we could say that it was the devil who created evil. After all, the Lord Christ calls him "the father of lies".
Logged

I stopped posting here in August 2011 because of stark disagreement with the policies of the administration and moderating team of the forums. If you desire, feel free to PM me, message me on Facebook (link in profile), or email me: cddombrowski@gmail.com
PeterTheAleut
The Right Blowhard Peter the Furtive of Yetts O'Muckhart
Section Moderator
Protospatharios
*****
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox Christian
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 31,435


EXTERMINATE!


« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2010, 07:03:56 PM »

Proof for these doctrines come as a result of proof that God is the first cause. There are many proofs of these matters along Thomistic lines, but I don't know how Eastern Orthodox Christians will feel about using Thomas in Christian apologetics. If I were you I woul check out the following website:
www.peterkreeft.com

Not only are there great article on proofs for the existence of God but audio lectures as well.

And also, I would look into the Summa Theologica. It provides poof for God's existence as well as the philosophical proofs for the attributes that you described above. Its a tough read so you might want to start by reading Peter Kreeft's Book, Handbook of Christian Apologetics.
Finally, I would also read the book, Knowing the Love of Christ, Found on amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Knowing-Love-Christ-Introduction-Theology/dp/0268033021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280436288&sr=8-1

Here also is an interesting article: http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/godtalk.html

Though I know that Thomas is not necessarily held in high regards in the EO Church anymore, I know at least one ex-atheist who was converted as a result of Thomas' arguments.
Papist,

Seeing that this thread was started on the Faith Issues board, a place for discussion of issues and inquiries related to the Orthodox Christian faith, I think it safe to assume that the OP wants a specifically Orthodox response to her questions.  I also see in your reply words implying that you knew you were posting it on the Faith board.  So I'm left wondering why you feel it's okay to recommend to this discussion the work of Thomas Aquinas and Peter Kreeft, two men known for their Roman Catholic apologetics.  You've been warned a number of times already that the only justifiable reason for you to post here on Faith Issues is to correct our misconceptions of your church, and what you just posted goes far beyond that.

Therefore, I need to ask that you stop posting on this thread and reevaluate how much care you put into your participation in Faith Issues discussions in general.  This problem has come up a number of times already, so if I have to keep addressing this with you, formal warnings and post moderations will be tools that I use to drive home the purpose of the Faith Issues board.  If you have any questions or concerns about this directive, please feel free to send them to me or Fr. George in a PM.


-PeterTheAleut
Faith Issues Section Moderator
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 07:08:47 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
HandmaidenofGod
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (Ecumenical Patriarch)
Posts: 3,378


O Holy St. Demetrius pray to God for us!


« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2010, 11:31:51 AM »

I don't feel that because millions of people believe in God, that proves his existence. I'm not sure any of the answer provided will answer my friend, I'll look through the links Papist provided to see what they have to say.

This is what my priest wrote in response to my questions:

Quote
God is perfect because everything else in nature is imperfect!   We are of the world and God is not of the world!  Prove that God is not perfect.  You can't.  God is unreachable and untouchable.  We know by "faith" - not empirical testing.  When someone comes up with the test, and they never will, I'll accept their understanding.  Until that time, God Is Perfect!  The Universe has much imperfection based on our own understanding.  God is beyond the understanding of and so the dwelling place of God is perfection and all good.
 
Should we believe all the attributes of God?  Only if you want to.  God gave us free will, we can believe whatever we want!  God doesn't demand we believe anything, so we are all in the free world to believe what we want.  I choose to believe God Is All omnipotent, All powerful, and Omnipresent!  Its my choice.  So if I believe it, than God IS!  You can believe what you want or what you think.
 
God is the fullness of all things and by so being He is present in everything.  The very nature of God is all good.  If a being is evil it is because of the absence of God.  Wrap your brain around this!  While God is present everything is good!  Once evil starts to manifest itself, God's presence leaves - since God chooses not to be a part of evil!  In the presence of God, all things are GOOD!   God is everywhere, but chooses not to be where evil exists.  Just because God is Omnipresent, doesn't mean God approves of evil.  Evil in and of itself is the absence of  good, i.e., the absence of God.  Since God created everything, God created the opportunity for evil to exist.  It is the choice of those that want to manifest evil, so when evil begins to proliferate - God is no longer present.


I believe in God, but I'm not sure any of these answers will satisfy my friend.

Any other thoughts?

Perhaps some of our beloved clergy could chime in? (hint, hint) Wink
Logged

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
Fabio Leite
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Posts: 2,814



WWW
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 11:59:58 AM »

I don't feel that because millions of people believe in God, that proves his existence. I'm not sure any of the answer provided will answer my friend, I'll look through the links Papist provided to see what they have to say.

This is what my priest wrote in response to my questions:

Quote
God is perfect because everything else in nature is imperfect!   We are of the world and God is not of the world!  Prove that God is not perfect.  You can't.  God is unreachable and untouchable.  We know by "faith" - not empirical testing.  When someone comes up with the test, and they never will, I'll accept their understanding.  Until that time, God Is Perfect!  The Universe has much imperfection based on our own understanding.  God is beyond the understanding of and so the dwelling place of God is perfection and all good.
 
Should we believe all the attributes of God?  Only if you want to.  God gave us free will, we can believe whatever we want!  God doesn't demand we believe anything, so we are all in the free world to believe what we want.  I choose to believe God Is All omnipotent, All powerful, and Omnipresent!  Its my choice.  So if I believe it, than God IS!  You can believe what you want or what you think.
 
God is the fullness of all things and by so being He is present in everything.  The very nature of God is all good.  If a being is evil it is because of the absence of God.  Wrap your brain around this!  While God is present everything is good!  Once evil starts to manifest itself, God's presence leaves - since God chooses not to be a part of evil!  In the presence of God, all things are GOOD!   God is everywhere, but chooses not to be where evil exists.  Just because God is Omnipresent, doesn't mean God approves of evil.  Evil in and of itself is the absence of  good, i.e., the absence of God.  Since God created everything, God created the opportunity for evil to exist.  It is the choice of those that want to manifest evil, so when evil begins to proliferate - God is no longer present.


I believe in God, but I'm not sure any of these answers will satisfy my friend.

Any other thoughts?

Perhaps some of our beloved clergy could chime in? (hint, hint) Wink

It's not because millions of people believe...  Embarrassed
Logged

Many Energies, Three Persons, Two Natures, One God.
Fr. George
formerly "Cleveland"
Administrator
Stratopedarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox (Catholic) Christian
Jurisdiction: GOA - Metropolis of Pittsburgh
Posts: 19,903


May the Lord bless you and keep you always!


« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2010, 12:07:27 PM »

This is one of the tougher discussions to have with someone, because ultimately God is experienced and not intellectually captured.  I'll start with the easier one:

If God is omnipresent, then that means He is present in evil. Why did God create evil? If not God, who?

Evil isn't an entity or existence, evil is an action and tendency, and thus it does not have an independent being.  You can't say, "God created evil," or "X created evil," since evil doesn't have a being.  There are beings who do nothing but evil acts, but they are not evil in their being - they were good at their creation.  It would be more accurate to say that God is present where there is suffering, injustice, and evil actions taking place; yes, He Is.  God loves us, and wants us to love Him (and our fellow creatures); but in order for it to be Love, it must be free, so He permits Free Will and action in order for people to experience and share Love.  In order for Free Will to exist, there must be at least two options; thus, from the beginning there have been two options: to follow God, and to not follow God.  Those who choose not to follow God commit evil acts, and those who choose to follow God commit good acts; most of us want to do the latter, and yet fall into doing the former, and then attempt to reconcile and repent in order to do the latter.  If the choices were taken away from us (if God ended Free Will), then there would be no such thing as voluntary Love outside of God.

How do we know God is perfect?

We only can know about God through our experience, and through the experiences of others.  This is the foundation of the scripture and tradition - that God has allowed us to experience Him in a special way in our lives, and we have shared that experience with others.  When we look to scripture, fathers, tradition, etc. for answers to questions like, "How do we know God is perfect," we are drawing on the personal experiences of others that have demonstrated God's perfection.

I'm a bit tired, so I'll hopefully try and form a more coherent argument later.  I hope this is useful.
Logged

"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the one who can't read them." Mark Twain
---------------------
Ordained on 17 & 18-Oct 2009. Please forgive me if earlier posts are poorly worded or incorrect in any way.
HandmaidenofGod
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA (Ecumenical Patriarch)
Posts: 3,378


O Holy St. Demetrius pray to God for us!


« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2010, 03:25:50 PM »

Thank you Father, I look forward to hearing other responses as well.
Logged

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
visitor
Member
***
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Let's just leave it at a Canonical one, okay?
Posts: 110


« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2010, 04:11:24 PM »

Hi.

This is a tough topic. Fabio Leite is onto something, though, I think.

I will try to address this as briefly as I can. Fabio takes us away from the Aristotelian "first cause" referred to by the ever vigilant Papist and turns our attention more toward ontology (that's the study of existence, or the study of Being as such)... Both of the aforementioned approaches represent very, very (very, very, very...) complicated philosophical discourses. So complicated are those discourses in fact that those who have written about them have had to be about as creative with words as poets might be. And I would certainly refer to actual poetry before referring you to a tome!

So there's the disclaimer.  Roll Eyes

It's so hard to get into "proving" that anything at all exists, actually. But the atheist still has a god, regardless of what he or she asserts. Atheism is a hypothetical position that is usually deployed for social or psychological reasons.

The atheist still finds him-/her- self answering to a higher power such as economics, history, the laws of physics, news, his/her own desires, etc. This pseudo-god, whatever it is, "functions" for the atheist in the same way as the real thing might. And when that pseudo-god is "messed with," attacked, or the atheist is deprived of its apparent presence, he or she will, quite simply freak out. Look at how obsessed atheists are with what version of history appears in schoolbooks! History is, existentially, imaginary! But they literally behave religiously about it, even in their daily lives.

Moving on. Without something to connect him/her to what he/she believes to be infinitely powerful and the source of all meaning and content, the atheist begins to feel him-/her- self disintegrating. Why? Because that source of all meaning is what the atheist has posited as Being, and when Being is lost, then guess what? Nothing but nothing exists. And that opinion, friends, is a delusion.

Have you ever looked closely at Orthodox icons of Christ? Inside the nexus or halo around His head is the pattern of a cross upon which the Greek "O WV" appears. (That's omicron, omega nu). This phrase in Greek means The Being, or He that Is/Exists. In Orthodoxy God is the ontological ground of all that appears before us waking or sleeping. We are not pantheists, we do not see God in objects, but we see God working through things (and people!) in time.

Myself, I never met an atheist who could be parted from his god for a moment. And I never wondered why he didn't believe in it either.

Hope this helps.
Logged
Tags:
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.101 seconds with 38 queries.