TFBW's Forum

Discuss
It is currently Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:02 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:38 pm 
Rom 1:19-20: paul makes the claim that what can be known about god can be understood thru creation.

Quote:
because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.
http://net.bible.org/bible.php?search=r ... &chapter=1

I'm trying to make sense of that. A psalm seems to help:

Quote:
Ps 8:3-4.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?



I relate to this. I have stood on a clear night and marveled at the beauty and immensity of the stars. I have stood on a high mountain and seen miles of beautiful scenery. It gives me a sense of awe. It is humbling. Many people i know have experienced the same thing.

Awe is humbling. I find that to be my experience.

Perhaps the meaning of Rom 1:19-20 is that the beauty, size, and longevity of nature itself humbles us. Perhaps nature insists that we admit that there is a greater other. nature is greater than us. If we accept that idea, and keep it with us, perhaps we live our lives in gratitude for it, with a sense of wanting to to belong to this greater other, to find our proper place in this world, and do our part, rather than asserting our own greatness. And if we do so, perhaps we are without fault. And if we forget that lesson, and go back to thinking we are important in the absolute, maybe we sin.

I'm not sure exactly what to make of the specific attributes of god referred to in Rom 1:19-20: "his eternal power and divine nature." Did paul mean to highlight these two things specifically? Or was he just using them as examples to refer to gods nature in general. I will note that eternity, powerfulness, and divinity are consistent with the awe i have felt observing nature. Perhaps not exactly the same thing, tho.

What do you think?


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 3:03 am 
Offline
Your Host

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:57 am
Posts: 204
Location: Sydney, Australia
I think that the primary thrust of Romans 1:20 is that we humans are not in a position to plead ignorance with regard to our wrongdoings. Or, to put it another way, that atheism is an unreasonable, unjustifiable belief. We can easily lose sight of this in our day and age, where Evolution has granted atheism the intellectual high ground. The splendour of God's creation is now invariably portrayed as the wonder of evolutionary progress. The invisible attributes of God which were clearly seen in times past have been clouded by a godless interpretation of the same facts. Thus, Romans 1:21:
Quote:
Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.

This speaks of deliberate denial:a calculated embrace of unreason to avoid unwanted consequences. Even so, as you say, most people can not help but be awed when they see the stars or other spectacular elements of creation. That awe is humbling, but it's also frightening. The reason for the fear and the denial can be found in Romans 1:18:
Quote:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness...

Our problem is that we, by our actions, have made an enemy of God. God is awesome, and he's the good guy. We find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of deserving his wrath. Denial is one possible reaction to this predicament: we can hope that God ignores us and lets us live our squalid little lives and die quietly. An alternative to this is repentance, and the subsequent chapters of the book of Romans detail how God is able to extend his grace and forgiveness to those who repent, without compromising his perfect justice.

_________________
The Famous Brett Watson -- brett.watson@gmail.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:41 pm 
This just came up in my pre-scheduled quiet time, today. I was surprised at its direct relevance to our discussion:

Quote:
John 3:19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has
come into the world and people loved the darkness rather
than the light, because their deeds were evil.


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:40 pm 
TFBW wrote:
I think that the primary thrust of Romans 1:20 is that we humans are not in a position to plead ignorance with regard to our wrongdoings. Or, to put it another way, that atheism is an unreasonable, unjustifiable belief. We can easily lose sight of this in our day and age, where Evolution has granted atheism the intellectual high ground. The splendour of God's creation is now invariably portrayed as the wonder of evolutionary progress. The invisible attributes of God which were clearly seen in times past have been clouded by a godless interpretation of the same facts. Thus, Romans 1:21:
Quote:
Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.

This speaks of deliberate denial:a calculated embrace of unreason to avoid unwanted consequences. Even so, as you say, most people can not help but be awed when they see the stars or other spectacular elements of creation. That awe is humbling, but it's also frightening.


i think i might agree, but i think your opening 2 sentences are several leaps from the actual text.

In my way of thinking, the "wonder of evolutionary progress" is still wonder. It is still, in a sense, losing oneself into something greater, something beautiful.

I wish some honest atheists would read this, because when i look at the awe of, say, the intricate complexities of the human body, and marvel at how they create art, and beauty, and love, and heroism, if i try then to say "it's nothing but electrical impulses in the human brain" (or years of evolution, or such explanations), i feel...insulting. I feel the same way i would feel if i was viewing some one's art, and i knew they had poured themselves into their art (which is beautiful in and of itself), and i'm patronizing it. It does feel like such statements put me above the awed object. As if i'm saying, "this might be overwhelming awe, something i have to let affect me, but i if i can reduce it to something i can completely explain, completely understand, then i have conquered it." Something like that.

So, i guess, what i'm asking (and i guess i'm asking it of atheists) is when you feel the awe, does it affect you or do you rise above it?

wish i had more time to explore...


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:36 pm 
Offline
Your Host

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:57 am
Posts: 204
Location: Sydney, Australia
Some atheists are hardcore reductionists who like to describe X as "nothing but Y" (for certain values of X and Y). There are others who allow themselves a little more mysticism, while not giving it any greater status than an intellectual curiosity. These are inclined to look at the stars in awe, or wonder at the beauty of a fractal, or marvel at the complexity of an organism. They describe this sense of awe as a numinous feeling, but they do not allow the feeling to give rise to belief in deities. Rather, they treat it as a pleasant intellectual curiosity: a nice sensation to have, but lacking any real consequence.

I think that Romans 1:20 makes it pretty clear that God's invisible attributes are made clear in nature, so much that we can not reasonably claim "we don't know whether God exists," or, "we don't know what he's like". This seems little more than a paraphrase of the verse, so if you think my interpretation is off, you'll have to explain why in more detail.

_________________
The Famous Brett Watson -- brett.watson@gmail.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:07 pm 
while you and i are very close on this subject, there may remain one subtle, but important, difference.

we may agree on the verse's interpretation, and we may both agree that it is in fact true.

we may agree that, if this verse is true, then someone who has never read any bible should be able to come to the same conclusion. W/o ever having heard of the jewish or christian faiths, the verse says a person should be able to know god exists, has eternal power and a divine nature, and that, furthermore, that convicts them of wrongdoing.

I think where we may differ is that you seem quick to ascribe to atheists (as a representative group of all who deny the conclusions of rom 1:19-20) something that they would not ascribe to themselves.

But Rom 1:19-20 suggests that there is something in here that atheists would would willing admit to. There's some personal knowledge on their part of the truth of god and the rejection of that truth. Something that atheist would self-report. So, if it's possible to construct a re-statement of rom 1:19-20 that atheists would sign up for, then i feel we've got a closer understanding of this verse.

Altho i must take into account 1:21 which says, in part, "their senseless hearts were darkened." So it may be that once someone rejects god, they lose the mental faculty to see the truth of where they have once been.

But i think we can account for that, too, w/ the right choice of words.

your word choice in your statement gave me some ideas:

tfbw wrote:
They describe this sense of awe as a numinous feeling, but they do not allow the feeling to give rise to belief in deities. Rather, they treat it as a pleasant intellectual curiosity: a nice sensation to have, but lacking any real consequence. (emphasis mine)

Not sure you gave those words as much attn when you wrote them as i'm giving them now. But they are action words, words expressing choice.

your words imply that there is some natural tendency for the numinous feeling to give rise to deities. That the sensation of awe naturally feels consequential.

Note it would be a very different thing to say "the sense of awe does not give rise to belief in deities" than to say "they dont allow the sense of awe give rise to belief in deities". The first phrasing does not support rom 1:19-20. The second does.

And i find it is consistent with what i see. the sense of awe appears to be a window to some greater other. One can recognize a pull from the other side of that window. Just as easily (or even more easily) one can dismiss the pull of that window, and rather re-interpret the window as no more than a picture, a representation of something that doesnt really exist.

With this we may be getting closer to something that atheists, even w/ their darkened hearts, might agree with.

So here's my take on a statement that atheists would willing sign their names to, and would yet support Rom 1:19-20:

Quote:
The experience of numinous awe in the human mind seems to draw one into the great beyond, but i reject that.


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:23 am 
Offline
Your Host

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:57 am
Posts: 204
Location: Sydney, Australia
anon again wrote:
your words imply that there is some natural tendency for the numinous feeling to give rise to deities. That the sensation of awe naturally feels consequential.

That's pretty much what a numinous feeling is: a "religious experience" of sorts. Under such conditions, the existence of God can seem very real. The feeling can, of course, be dismissed as "just a feeling", and practice at this dismissal can darken the heart, so to speak. A similar effect is achieved by repeatedly ignoring one's conscience: feelings of guilt can be suppressed to the point that one can behave monstrously without the slightest sensation of being evil.

_________________
The Famous Brett Watson -- brett.watson@gmail.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 10:17 pm 
Offline
Your Host

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 6:57 am
Posts: 204
Location: Sydney, Australia
anon again wrote:
TFBW wrote:
they do not allow the feeling to give rise to belief in deities
Not sure you gave those words as much attn when you wrote them as i'm giving them now. But they are action words, words expressing choice.

Actually, that's another point I'd like to emphasise. We make decisions based on experience, but experiences don't make decisions for us. Although we are rational beings, we are not simple rational machines like computers. Computers take input data, process it, and produce output data; humans have experiences and make judgements. Those judgements are matters of choice. Our deliberations can inform our judgements, but we also choose to adopt certain attitudes through our experiences. For example, when we experience pain and loss, we can adopt an attitude of resentment to God for allowing these events to take place, or we can choose to believe that there is a purpose behind it, and express our pain to God without bitterness and accusation. Neither of these choices is particularly more "rational" than the other, given the incomplete knowledge we have of the situation.

_________________
The Famous Brett Watson -- brett.watson@gmail.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 7:42 pm 
these are good points and insights. And i agree with them.

but i dont feel you've yet joined me in my goal of somehow expressing this in a way that atheists would agree to. Maybe you meant to imply that.

That we've come around in both of your replies to choices people make based on experiences, say awe and guilt, it think we're getting close to what i was trying to think about here.

I'm glad to hear that you also feel like the experience of numinous awe is a "religious experience." that helps my point. Ie i bet a bunch of atheists would agree too--and that common ground here between atheists (eg) and christians is i think what paul had in mind when he wrote rom 1:19-20. This common ground is my goal here. And i also bet that atheists would agree that they do, in fact, actively dismiss such religious experiences.

And your distinction between experience and judgments is a good one, too. Again, to my goal here, i believe that atheists would agree.

Obviously, i think atheists would argue that their dismissal and judgments are the right ones, but that is a different question. Us all admitting that we're making judgments about experiences, some of which appear to include within themselves a pointer to the supernatural--i think that's enuf to confirm that what paul said in rom 1:19-20a appears to be true on its face among atheists and theists alike.

i plan on asking this question on http://www.atheists.org/nogodblog/index ... sts_hooray and seeing what i get. I think i'll not mention the romans connection at first, because i think i'll get more unbiased answers, rather than answers that are meant to debunk. I think "what the atheist does with awe" is a pretty interesting question on its face anyway.

Thanks so much for this unique forum!


Top
  
 
 Post subject: Re: what can be known about God is plain
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:34 am 
Offline
Established Expositor

Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:01 pm
Posts: 14
I don't know how i would call myself, atheist or agnostic, but i think that i can speak for any of them in this sense.

I don't think that my heart is dark because i don't acknowledge god, and i don't take any ofense when you say that to me, even tough i understand what you feel when some atheists say that our behaviour is basically controlled by electrical impulses (and i might add instinct/genes wich might determine our behaviour in general). We are much more complex than that, and there are a great number of other factors that influence our behaviour, wich i belive you to might be familiar.

When you study animals and nature, you get used to think that we all act on instinct and impulses, because we too are animals, and when you think like that, its not hard to go from being a believer to an atheist, since nature becomes the center of everything, and men only a mere part of.

But you can't deny that we are very much unlike any other animal.

The thing is, i don't agree with any of the models of God ofered by religion. I don't think that He is fair and just, and i don't think that He could be a real possibility in any of the already determined models of God that exist, i think that they contradict themselves all the time.

There are some positive aspects in religion, but there are also a lot of negatives one. There are a lot of stories in the bible that estimulate blind and unquestionable faith, and altough there always might be room for interpretation, a lot of people get it wrong.

Still, i can see the beauty of the world and awe in it, and i don't find it any less beautiful because there's an explanation for it, i think the fact that we may pursue explanations for everything only adds to the fun of it.
I don't think there's anything to lose by not atributing this feeling of astonishment with the marvels of the world, with the presence of some deity.
And since we non-belivers, can also take part in that what you call religious experiences, without ever acknowledging it to be some deity, then the non-religious man, is no less complete and happy than the religious one.

It just doesn't make any difference how you call it, and how i call it, since we all can take part in it. I might be more agnostic than atheist after all.

I can only hope then that you do not take ofense in my views, and we can talk about it, and so we can understand each other more.

And that you do not mind my spelling, since i am not natural to this language.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group