God and Reason: A Better World

I arrived a little late for the PTR class because I am still getting used to my watch. It was set on the 2nd time accidently, and not on the first that I had set the night before. They were off by 20 minutes. Sometimes, things can be too complicated. Because of the bronchitis, I tried to sit next to a relatively young seemingly healthy larger person, so no one would be hurt by my coughing. I stopped the doxy today, so from this point on, things will have to improve without doxy. I took a picture of my feet before leaving for the class to document how they looked when the doxy stopped. If they get worse from here on, I will need a different antibiotic.

So, the class…a few different ideas were introduced in the discussion. Gregoria’s description of Moses’ third theophany is that the cleft in the rock experience symbolizes God’s infinite perfection. When God passes close by, one is not to look, but to turn one’s back. So, this experience in a way portrays a relationship of inaccessibility, of not looking or studying God too closely: an idea that we have also found in Genesis with the admonition against eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I have always found this idea present in the old testament to be problematic. I like to think. I like to know. It is the idea that somehow God might feel threatened by our knowledge of God that bugs me. What is clear is that God has given many even nonbelieving humans much agency in this world, much ability to transform, change, and do good. At the same time, I can understand that too much knowledge of God is problematic for most humans. It puts too much pressure and knowledge on the limited human mind, that in turn may threaten with collapse at God’s potency.

Gregoria does not seem to offer the point of view that knowledge/reason is incompatible with faith, arguing instead that reason can enhance the approach to faith, which according to the class in the Gregorian ideal appears to be an asymptote that cannot be attained but may be approached. The idea of Christian perfection found in Wesley’s writings, originally attributed to Macarius of Egypt is arguably derivable from Gregoria’s works.

Clearly, in Jewish culture, studying the Torah is considered to be more sacred than even other mitzvot. It is highly highly valued – hence the development of the Talmud and the many rabbis and teachers who think about God. Reason is not absent in these discussions. Highly intelligent community leaders participate and gently and respectfully discuss what these words mean and how they translate into today’s culture. The rabbis guide the evolution of community values in these discussions and keep the jewish community together, so that values are not lost. What is the Christian posture toward God and reason? I am going to leave that question open for the moment. Origen may have been the first documented theologian to contemplate seriously integrating a Greek philosophical tradition into the Christian tradition (originally seemingly documented in Greek). Gregoria would have been a 2nd strong thinker’s attempt following the early Christian leader’s attempts to establish what is Christian faith. Muhammad in fact represents an interesting synthetic resolution to the Jewish-Christian theological difference.

A question was raised as to whether an individual can prove the existence of God with science. One person did not think so, stating that God is a belief that gives one’s life meaning. Otherwise, one simply lives without purpose. God is a choice. I thought that the distinction between philosophy (logical arguments) and science (experimental arguments) is experience. So, the question of the experience of God may be addressed by science, but God is probably larger than this individual experience, and capable of communicating with each of us (the indian, the jew, the christian, the muslim, the hindu, the buddhist, and even the atheist or the animal) in a way that gets things done. Moses had one experience of God, Jesus had another, and Mohammed had yet a different one. Jesus’ experience of God is often (but not always) described in scripture as that of God being entirely present within Him – no distinction between God and the Son of God. This experience is/was problematic for the Jews because this is considered blasphemy in Jewish culture. Mohammed, with his own experience, resolves a little of this philosophical tension, by giving Jesus a prophet-like transforming experience of God, short of actually being God. The question of both the actual and the perceived object constancy of God then must be raised. One can truly only argue the second question, but within this second argument, assuming the associations of this perceived object are toward the betterment of the world (and what Creator would not want It’s creation protected and valued?), one can strive for a better grasp of this ideal (both experientially and through reason), and the relevent discussions then center around what parts of one’s chosen or experienced faith contribute positively toward the betterment of the world, individual experiences of God being somewhat demoted in importance in this community discussion.

Daily log:
You spent 20 min. talking to your mom on the phone.

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