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Eternal questions - God (Read 10450 times)
Gerrit-Jan Linker
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Eternal questions - God
05.06.09 at 19:23:23
Eternal questions
Some questions that each thoughtful person must come to grips with:

  • Questions about God.

    • Does God exist?  
      • Christian religious experiences: the Holy Spirit, miracles, glossolalia (speaking in tongues).
      • The individual must take action and in that action find his own God [ref Bonhoeffer].
      • Each person has a God in himself, a deamon, a good spirit or conscience. [Socrates in Plato's Phaedo]
      • The Kingdom of God Is within You. Jesus was not God. Everyone has a God within himself. [Tolstoy] [Bhagavad Gita]  
      • Newton saw God as the masterful creator who set all particles in the universe precisely so that gravitation does not cause a total collapse.
      • [Descartes]Proof of the existance of God by reasoning alone:
        God is a perfect being. What are the necessary properties of a perfect being?
        - it must be infinitely wise (otherwise it is not a perfect being)
        - it must be infinitely good ((otherwise it is not a perfect being)
        - it must exist (otherwise it is not a perfect being). If a perfect being would not exist it would not be perfect!
        [Note: Blaise Pascal found an argument for the existance of God. Approximately he reasoned as follows: If the existance God can be proven by reasoning alone in the way Descartes did, how can it be explained that our live is characterised by love-hate, self-loving-self-loathing, kindness-brutality, etc. For that we need the providence of God and God itself.]

    • Do more than one gods exist (polytheism)?
      • Mythology is a means of expressing a higher truth.
      • Hindu
      • Islam: Muhammad believed that Christians tried to modify the simple message of Jesus to create three gods. To Muhammad, Christians were polytheists.

    • What is the nature of the divine?  
      • Christianity:  
        The trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
      • The Koran resembles Jesus in that the Koran itself is the revelation of God. Its words are absolutely sacred.
      • Koran: God is great, powerful, all-compassionate, all-knowing, and all-seeing. He has created the universe and demands righteous behavior from everyone and calls upon everyone to accept this message.
      • God is all good: nature, providence (a manifestation of God's foresightful care for his creatures), Zeus.[Marcus Aurelius]
      • God’s presence is everywhere throughout all things in the universe.
        God is all, God is eternal and everlasting, and God pervades the entire universe.
        All of nature can be a manifestation of the devine.[Bhagavad Gita]
      • Soul
        • The soul endures, is eternal, and is divine. The task of mankind is to purify the soul and gain wisdom and truth so that the soul can gain ultimate liberation.[Bhagavad Gita]
        • Immortality of the soul is the basis for everything and it is attested by the existence of absolutes, such as absolute truth, justice, good, and beauty. [Socrates in Plato's Phaedo]  
        • In the Old Testament, the immortality of the soul is of no consequence; life on earth is what matters.

    • Does God or do the gods care about humans and their actions?

      • Following the Ten Commandments would lead to salvation and freedom; breaking them would lead to destruction and enslavement.[Exodus]
      • After death, the conscience accompanies the body the the underworld. There his soul will be judged by God. [Socrates in Plato's Phaedo]


See also:
Universal values
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« Last Edit: 04.03.11 at 15:08:39 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

Gerrit-Jan Linker
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Eternal questions - Fate
Reply #1 - 12.06.09 at 19:45:42
Eternal questions - Fate

  • Fate
    • What is fate?  
      • Everything happens the way it is supposed to happen and all things and events are predetermined.
      • Fate is what the gods decree for us.[ref Homer Iliad]
      • Everything that happens to us is destined by God.[Koran]
      • The inevitable fate of all humans is death.

    • Are events predetermined by the divine
      Is God pulling the strings (First and second causation)
    • Are events happen by chance and randomly?  
      Do events happen randomly or by design. Intelligent design variety of creationism: If the probability of the event occurring randomly is so small, then it must have been the product of design. Or are natural processes the alternative, neither designed nor by chance.
    • Do humans have free will?  
    • Do you determine your life, or is it predetermined?  
    • Are you free to choose?
      All you can control is your mind, your thoughts you take with your mind and the actions based on those thoughts. Your mind is a fortress in which you can retreat. [Marcus Aurelius]

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« Last Edit: 13.07.09 at 22:44:18 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Eternal questions - Good and evil
Reply #2 - 23.06.09 at 07:19:36
Eternal questions - Good and evil

  • Good and evil.  
    • What do we mean by good and evil?  
      Mortals lack vision to understand what is good and what is evil until it is too late.
      Moral blindness is the absense of a moral vision. [ref Homer Iliad]
    • Islam: The world is divided into good and evil. Muhammad taught that absolute good and absolute evil exist and that absolute good is at war with absolute evil.
    • Are Hitler and Stalin embodiments of absolute evil?
    • Churchill believed in absolute evil in a struggle with absolute good. For Churchill, Hitler was absolute evil.
    • Communism rests on the belief that because there is no God, there is no absolute right and wrong.
    • Evil is a reality [Book of Job]
    • Are there consequences for our actions?  
      People make conscious decisions about good and evil, and these decisions give meaning to their lives. [ref Homer Iliad]
    • Are standards by which to judge our actions?  
    • Who or what determines those standards?  

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« Last Edit: 14.07.09 at 23:04:14 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Eternal questions - How should we live
Reply #3 - 25.06.09 at 07:34:25
Eternal questions - How should we live

  • How should we live?
    • The meaning of life
      • Does life have a meaning, or do we just go through life without asking?
      • Christianity: life ultimately has the happy ending of salvation.
        • All of life is preparation for death.[Dante]
        • “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.” [John 3:16:]
        • Dietrich Buxtehude 1637-1707: "Ich habe lust abzuscheiden" ... "und bei Jesu zu sein":

    • Truth
      • Be true to yourself, do what you know to be right, and never give up.  [Gandhi]
      • The highest calling is to be true to your conscience, to your true moral nature, which is good.[Confucius]
      • [Descartes]Sceptisicm / Criteron of Truth:
        How do you know when something is true?
        Something is true when it meets the criteria set for something to be true.
        How do you know that the criterion of truth is true?
        We need a criterion of a criterion of truth, of which you can ask the question again whether it is true. A problem of infinite regress.
    • Duty and responsibility

      • Duty to following the higher calling of good, or to just follow orders.
      • Honor, duty, and responsibility are central to the way we live our lives if we wish to live them as thoughtful individuals.
      • We can define honor, duty, and responsibility, but defining how people can live these values is hard.
      • For Shakespeare, honor is but a device that men use, and duty and responsibility are slogans that cloak the eternal lust for power and ambition.
      • Ethical life: “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” [Confucius]

    • Law, government, and social justice
      • The Book of Exodus is a book of social justice. It elaborates the Ten Commandments and sets up a social system, balancing the need for justice with compassion.
      • In the West, what is right legally, not necessarily what is just, is what matters.
      • The ideal republic rests on absolute values: absolute truth and absolute right and wrong. Absolute wisdom and absolute  
        ignorance exist, as do absolute justice and injustice, absolute courage and cowardice, absolute moderation and intemperance.[Plato]
      • Although words have the power to cause harm, state regulation can create far more serious problems. Regulation cannot be based on what a community believes to be appropriate or inappropriate. Examples: Socrates and Jesus were put to death because they outraged public opinion. Although Socrates and Jesus went against public opinion, their beliefs did not harm people. [Mill]
      • Dichotomy: whether the individual exists to serve the state or whether the state exists to serve the individual.  
      • Liberty is the reign of conscience. True freedom would exist in the world when every individual was free to exercise his or her conscience. [Lord Acton]

    • Love, jealousy, and hate

      • Love is the motivating force of human action. [Shakespeare - Othello]
      • Love, along with religion, may be the deepest wellspring of human feeling and the inspiration of its noblest literature and art.  
      • The force of love brought the world into being. [Early Greek thinkers]
      • Love moves the universe. [Dante - The Divine Comedy]

    • Power, honor, and ambition

      • False ambitions of the world: Power, Honour, Ambition. Ambitions that lead people astray.[Marcus Aurelius, Meditations]
        Each person must live as best he or she can and leave behind a reputation for greatness.[Gilgamesh]  
      • Power is the ability to inflict pain and humiliation. [George Orwell - 1984]
      • Power is what people want and that people will do anything to obtain it.[Machiavelli]
      • In the real world, an individual must live by the clear rules of power.[Machiavelli]
      • All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Very few great men are good men. [Acton]
      • People exist to serve the state and the leader. [Machiavelli]
      • The main goal of the leader should not be to help people but to maintain his power. In maintaining power, the leader would give the people reasonably prosperous lives. [Machiavelli]  
      • Honor is at the heart of justice, because it rests on integrity and courage. [Cicero] [Gandhi] [Churchill]
      • The concept of honor cannot exist in a society that lacks the duel.

    • Beauty and nature
      • Absolute beauty and the beauty of nature.  Ultimately our soul must commune with the beauty of nature [quote from: Henry David Thoreau]. God is imminent in all of nature.  A natural scientist may be as close to god than a theologian.  
      • Do absolute standards for beauty exist? In heaven, there exists perfection of beauty and that everything on earth is a reflection of it. [Socrates]
      • Nature is the great source of renewal for the thoughtful individual. [Thoreau]

    • History and the past
    • Education
      True education is the development of the individual’s conscience. [Confucius]
    • Governmental involvement in education presented a great danger to a free society. The only purpose of compulsory education by the state was to train citizens to do the bidding of the state: State education will not develop a conscience in its citizens and will remove conscience and values imparted by parents.

    Learning from the examples of the past was the greatest way to shape one’s conscience. [Acton]
    Doing the work of someone else is slavery, but doing the work of God is true liberation. [Bhagavad Gita]
    Our lives are never over and we are never failures as long as we strive in a good cause. Take time for yourself and renew your spiritual being. You have a destiny. Find it. Evil is real and you must resist it where you find it. But ultimately, be optimistic, for the world is becoming better and freedom will one day triumph.[Churchill]
    At every stage of life, the individual must be willing to try something new. [Churchill]
    The ultimate lesson is to never give in. [Gandhi] [Cicero] [Churchill]
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« Last Edit: 04.03.11 at 14:59:17 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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Eternal questions - Miscellany
Reply #4 - 13.07.09 at 22:46:32
Cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. Thought cannot be separated from me, therefore, I exist  (Descartes)
The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could percieve. And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental diety; Til a system was formed, which took advantage of & enslav'd the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental dieties from their objects: thus began Priesthood. Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales. And at length they pronounc'd that the Gods had order'd such things. Thus men forgot that All dieties reside within the human breast. [William Blake]
We see through the eye, not with it.
Men are admitted into Heaven not because they have curbed and governed their passions or have no passions, but because they have cultivated their understandings. The treasures of Heaven are not negations of passion, but realities of intellect, from which all the passions emanate uncurbed in their eternal glory. The fool shall not enter into Heaven let him be ever so holy. [William Blake]
Man's perceptions are not bound by organs of perception; he perceives more than sense (tho' ever so acute) can discover [William Blake]
Rome collapsed because of its involvement in the Middle East and its failure to solve the problems there. [Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire]
Many thinkers of the Enlightenment believed that God had made the world, but men and women made their own destinies.
Enlightenment sought to control nature, romanticism celebrated nature as uncontrollable and saw it as a source of eternal renewal for humanity.
Is nature a source of wonder and revitalization for the soul, or is nature the servant of humans to be conquered and exploited? Are we one with nature or above it?  [Thoreau - Walden]
We increase our wisdom only by suffering. Moderation in pursuing your values. Nothing in excess and know yourself.[ref Homer Iliad]  
Meditation and contemplation, rather than books, lead to understanding. [Marcus Aurelius, Meditations]  
It is only in Western society we separate the world of the divine and sacred from the world of the secular; we separate church and state.  
A prophet is someone who speaks the truth.  
Nothing is more terrible than simple unrelenting pain, and nothing is more devastating to the spirit than humiliation. [Aeschylus - Prometheus Bound]  
Are modern society and the modern state so powerful that they destroy any concept of conscience?  
freedom of the press has become a form of government by terror. In the name of freedom of press, journalists can destroy the reputations of people just for the goal of higher newspaper sales.  
Capitalism can become all-destroying. Spiritual concerns have been replaced by the desire to make more money and spend it on useless things.  
Liberty is the belief that every individual should be free to live his life untrammeled by other constraints, as long as he does not harm anyone else. The state has a right to interfere with an individual’s life only when that individual is doing concrete harm to someone else. [John Stuart Mill - On Liberty]
The individual is above the state and that the state exists to serve the individual. [John Stuart Mill - On Liberty]
Absolute freedom should rest on absolute freedom of thought and discussion. There must be complete freedom of the press, along with complete and unrestricted freedom of speech.[Mill]
Mill was opposed to Machiavelli and Plato: The right of the individual is to live exactly as he chooses.  
Bonhoeffer - Letters and papers from prison  
Homer - Iliad  
Marcus Aurelius - Meditations  
Bhagavad Gita (the “Song of God)  
Book of Job  
Plato - Phaedo  
Dante - The Divine Comedy  
Shakespeare - Othello  
George Orwell - 1984  
Aeschylus - Prometheus Bound  
The Pilgrim's Progress's_Progress
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« Last Edit: 04.03.11 at 14:48:53 by Gerrit-Jan Linker »  

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