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Old 01-09-2009, 12:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by BethSLP View Post
Also, I disagree that the reason this is the fastest growing religion is because its so highly attractive to people once they meet the teachings. In reality, the population is exploding (intentionally) in Muslim countries. Just as the Catholics have brochures say "Go forth and create disciples," many muslims are advised to have a lot of children. Its the reason the Catholics and Muslims have shut down any attempt by the WHO to talk about the problem of population control worldwide. They want no talks of birth control and prefer to grow their ranks. I very much believe this. Esp. in places like Palestine and the Turkish immigrants that are living in Europe now. Like a PP poster said, they don't intergrate because they want to preserve their culture. Having a ton of kids is another way to do so.
I disagree with your reasoning here. Islam the fastest growing religion because people are *converting* from mainly Christianity, and as I recall, the birth rate in most modern muslim countries is actually declining due to BC. While it may be true Catholics push reproduction, you'll find FREE BC in most muslim countries, because the gov't realizes more children = higher poverty.

Do a little more research, visit a mosque, ignore the hate mongering information for just a minute...you just might see it's a pretty awesome way to live.

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Old 01-09-2009, 02:31 AM
 
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Thao: Out of interest, is this the official Buddhist position? I disagree with your reasoning, but as you say it is OT, so I'll just point out that while it is logically necessary to posit a 'wavicle', it is not logically necessary to posit a triune-unary God (although it may be necessary for your worldview). I would be very interested to see such an attempt, but that can be for another thread and another time.
No, most definitely not an official Buddhist position, since Buddhism is basically an agnostic religion that doesn't talk about god at all and belief in god is not required.

Understand that I am not arguing from my own religious perspective here, rather from what I assume the OP's religious perspective to be. I do not agree that a person who believes in God and also believes that there are multiple religious paths to that God is necessarily being illogical.
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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Saying light acts as both a wave and a particle is perfectly logical, as is saying it may be something other than but encompassing the properties of both waves and particles. That doesn't change the fact that by the laws of logic, it cannot be both a particle (A) and a wave (by definition, non-A) at the same time and in the same sense; in other words, it cannot break the law of non-contradiction. Logical laws take precedence over scientific data; if the one contradicts the other, it is the latter (or our interpretation of the latter) which is at fault, since logic is necessarily basic.

So if anyone wants to posit a reasonable theory by which God can be A (unary) and not-A (a trinity) at the same time and in the same sense, they must either do away with the law of non-contradiction, which is impossible, or engage in some reasoning I'd very much like to see! Claiming that God transcends logic is absurd, as a) that would mean he transcends logic and doesn't transcend logic at the same time and in the same sense, otherwise the law of non-contradiction would apply, and b) if God did transcend logic, the concept of such a God would be completely incoherent to us and thus unarguable. Plus a few other problems.
All of the major religions recognize that God transcends logic. The particular sort of theology which deals with this is called negative theology. So when thelogians take this approach, they would say things like, God is greater than love, or compassion, or unity, or whatever. These words are like signs that point us to God and help us understand him as much as we can, but he is not bound by them. It's an approach which is expressed well in the Book of Job.

There are some really helpful things in this approach, the most important of which is the idea that we cannot confine God to our ideas about what he should be, which is always a strong temptation. As Job finds out, God's justice is rather more than what Job can understand.

It can also be useful in approaching questions like "How can a God who is a perfect unity have both perfect justice and perfect mercy? If God is a unity that would mean those two qualities must also be a unity. Some people would say this is evidence that the idea of non-contradiction shows us that God is impossible. By taking the approach of negative theology we can say, well, real mercy and real justice must be somehow more than we can express - those words express some quality in God which is more than we imagine. It can provide an excellent starting point for further thought.

One reasons theologians feel that negative theology reflects our situation with regard to understanding God is that logic is a way of thinking that to some extent, depends upon time and space. This and this leads to this, and a series of causes leads to an effect. Partly because God is outside time and space, a discursive way of thinking is not alone always adequate to describe him.

What is rather interesting is the idea that we can know that God is beyond what we know. So in a sense, by giving negative theology its due, we have gone beyond human knowing.

There are also limitations to negative theology. The main one is that alone, it sure doesn't say much. (There have been philosophers that have taken this approach.) And clearly we cannot attribute just anything to God, as it would be absurd. Most theologians say that we can make some statements about God, because he has revealed something about himself to us, in his creation if nothing else. So we can make statements about God's nature based on what we see revealed in the world he created and in our own souls.

If we think God made special revelations, then we can also make statements based on those. But they are still limited, because even though they are what God has said about himself, i has been put in human terms.

But it is always a good idea to try to hold those two types of theology together, so I might say, God is perfect justice, but always keeping in mind that I cannot hold Him to my limited understanding of what that means.

Typically the Hindduism makes more use of negative theology than the 3 Western religions, though they have a strong tradition of it. I suppose you could say in a way that Buddhists use it too. Since they think that the world is an illusion, there is no basis to say anything about God, so they don't.(That is my own reasoning, so it may have nothing to do with what Buddhist philosophers think.)

This post is way long, so I'll shut my yap now, or squash my typing finger!

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Old 01-09-2009, 04:15 PM
 
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Oh jeez. It always comes back to this. And now for the first time, I see relevance in comparing Islam to Buddhism. If this is the case, why have the Tibetan people not taken to suicide bombing?

There have been many successful non-violent struggles on behalf of "desperate, marginalized" people.

My Palestinian friend is an emotional wreck over what is happening in Gaza right now and concerned about family etc. My heart goes out to him. He and I have talked numerous times and he's taken me to art exhibits etc. done by Palenstinians in the U.S. and they all have the same theme. Which is that Israel has bombs, all we have is rocks. Therefore, "terrorism" is our only way of fighting back. I'll say right now I'm not pleased with what i consider to be an excessive use of force, our unequivocal support of Israel without question, and an imbalance of media that we see. I know the story from the mouth of a Palestinian and the reports from his family (so I'm not totally misled by the one-sided media). HOWEVER, I CANNOT understand why the "little guy" would fire rockets into a cease fire zone knowing full well that Israel is likely to do EXACTLY what they are doing now. Its hard to garner world wide sympathy when doing these acts of violence. And even if I had no concern for the people of Israel at all, well, it just doesnt make ANY sense for the well being of the people.

Tibet is only once example. Gandhi and his non-violent movement is another. There are many. And there's a common thread to both of the ones I just mentioned. the people were students of a peaceful religion that did not reward violence in heaven. Honestly, I fail to see how given the quotes I've posted here and the way suicide bombings are happening (with these reasons being explicitly stated as their reason) that we are supposed to think it has zero connection to the Koran itself.

Although, I will agree I would have a tendency to be more open to the idea of suicide bombing myself if my life was completely awful on earth and virgins awaited in heaven.

XOXO
B
Alas, I suspect that once the Dali LLama dies Tibet is going to blow up. Which will be great for the Chinese government, then they will have a good reason to restore"order."

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:29 PM
 
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I kinda figured you'd bring up that people were married at 12 and 13 regularly in the Bible. However, 6 is HALF of the age of 12. 9 is still quite a bit younger than 12. Regardless, to my knowledge the bride AND groom were that age. I am seriously creeped out by an adult man choosing a 6 yr old bride and then sleeping with her at age 9. That sounds like pedophilia regardless of era.

B
I think it is important to remember that peoples ideas of both adulthood and marriage were quite different.

Adolescence is a pretty recent thing as far as a developmental idea. In the past, as soon as a person was what we considered an adolescent, they were an adult. Adulthood, however, did not mean complete autonomy, you were still responsible to your parents.

As for marriage, it had very different connotations. It was a social and economic arrangement which related to family life. Our idea of it being primarily a romantic, emotional and sexual relationship would have been very alien. So a person could be promised to marry a person he or she hadn't seen, who was a child, or who wasn't even born. That in no way implied that they had sexual designs on the person they hadn't seen, the child, or the unborn person. In fact I know that sometimes a man had to work himself up to have sexual relations with someone he wasn't attracted to. Love was not a pre-requisite to marriage, it was an action you undertook because you were married.

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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Oh jeez. It always comes back to this. And now for the first time, I see relevance in comparing Islam to Buddhism. If this is the case, why have the Tibetan people not taken to suicide bombing?
OK... I'm way behind in this thread, and only have about 45 seconds before my kids revolt against me... (no peaceful protests in our house when it's snack time... but I do want to address suicide bombers.

They are an extremely recent phenomenon... and did not originate with Islam. First known instance in Islam was in Beirut.. 1982. So.. we're talking 1300 or more years of Islam with no suicide bombers period.

In modern times, it's linked to the Tamil Tigers (Sri Lanka)... originating about 1975 or 76... but some people also link this to the Kamikazee pilots of WWII. Tamil Tigers are responsible for over 168 suicide bombings.

Still... not, in any way, a tenant of Islam.

I'll try and come back later to post more... but Beth, if you want, you can always PM me if I don't make it back.


Oh... and re: Aisha and pedophelia. Two things... there is a debate on her age when married/consummated. Muslim and Bukhari said they were married at 9, not 6. It was not uncommon for people to have marriages arranged at young ages in the 7th century. Heck, even in later times, people were often bethrothed at birth... especially in the Upper classes.

Secondly, Muhammad was believed to be the Prophet of God, right? His people would have done anything for him. So, if he was a pedophile, one would think that all or a majority of his wives would be young girls. Aisha, daughter of a trusted friend, was the only one who remotely fits this.

His first wife, Khadija, was 20 years his senior (a fact I remind my younger (3 years) husband). She was his only wife until her death... roughly 20 years later.

The majority of his other wives were widows...aka not even virgins. (Only one other was a virgin)

Common sense tells us that if he was a pedophile... and believed to be God's Prophet... then surely, there would have been more than one pre-teen wife. More than two virgin wife.

Name of Bride Bride’s age at marriage Comments
Khadija bint khawilad 40 Twice widowed before
Sauda Bint Zama 50 Widow
Aisha bint Abu Bakr 9 Started living with the prophet at the age of 9.
Hafsa Bint Umar bin Khattab 22 Widow
Zainab bint Khuzaima 30
Umm-I-Salma bint Abu Umayia 26 Widow
Zainab Bint Jahash 38 Widow
Juwaeria Bint Harith 20 Widow
Umm-I-Habiba bint Abu Sufyan 36 Widow
Marya Qibtiya bint shamun 17 Virgin, Egyptian
Safia bint Hayi bin Akhtab 17 Widow
Raihana bint umru bin hanafa Not available
Maimuna bint harith 36 Widow

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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Old 01-09-2009, 04:47 PM
 
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I think it is important to remember that peoples ideas of both adulthood and marriage were quite different.

Adolescence is a pretty recent thing as far as a developmental idea. In the past, as soon as a person was what we considered an adolescent, they were an adult.
A 6 yr old, or a 9 yr old, for that matter, is not an adolescent.

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As for marriage, it had very different connotations. It was a social and economic arrangement which related to family life. Our idea of it being primarily a romantic, emotional and sexual relationship would have been very alien. So a person could be promised to marry a person he or she hadn't seen, who was a child, or who wasn't even born. That in no way implied that they had sexual designs on the person they hadn't seen, the child, or the unborn person.
However, Mohammed had sex with a 9 yr old. So clearly, he could be sexually attracted to a 9 yr old, no? And he was 54 yrs old when he married her, putting him at 57 yrs old when he had sex with her.

Also, a previous poster stated that she must have been menstruating when they consumated their relationship (which is part of the rules of Islam). However, I researched this in the past couple of days, and have learned that this was apparently NOT the case according to the hadiths.

Apparently, playing with dolls is forbidden to mature women and only children who have not yet had puberty played with dolls:

Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151
Narrated 'Aisha:
I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah's Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for 'Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)


Sahih Muslim Book 008, Number 3311
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old.

According to what I have since read, it was considered a "special priviledge" accorded to Mohammed by Allah to marry a child. It was NOT the norm (as some PPs posters have suggested), and it was not just the status quo of the day.


Also, it was explained in a previous post that the relationship between Mohammed and Aisha was one of maturity and respect. Maturity? From a 9 yr old? And a relationship where a child is playing with dolls and a 57 yr old man is having sex with her? Sorry, I'm having a hard time with this...esp. as a mom with a daughter.

Regardless, the concern I have is that the Islamic view is that Mohammed's life is an excellent example of how to live and should be emulated. Regardless of anything else or how special and different you may believe Mohammed's relationship with Aisha to be, do you think its a good example for others to emulate? I think this is probably the main point of all our discussions. From my experience, reading, etc., I understand that Muslims are supposed to strive to emulate Mohammed in every way. So I guess, I'd feel better of there was some clause in there that says "do as I say, not as I do" or something to that effect. Make sense?

XOXO
B

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:21 PM
 
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Common sense tells us that if he was a pedophile... and believed to be God's Prophet... then surely, there would have been more than one pre-teen wife. More than two virgin wife.
interesting point. I'd feel better if he married her, and slept with her when she was not a child. 57 years old and able to have sex with a 9 yr old? No dice. I can't accept that.

on a totally unrelated note, I know that many of you think I'm totally closeminded. Despite the fact that I'm still convinced of my overall view of things after all this talk, you should know that your arguements have certainly educated me a lot. Esp. from umsami, Muslimmama, TurkishKate, and a few others I can't think of off the top of my head. Just as one example, its easy for me to have a bad opinion of Turkish muslims based on mine (and my friend's experiences in Europe). Your explanation on how things are in Turkey was very insightful for me. I've heard similar things from my close friend, but to be honest we really avoid these conversations all together. He is too close to me, and an emotional person. It would be deeply hurtful to him if he knew all I felt about this situation and it would likely damage our friendship. Our conversation on here has been one of the first dialogues I've had with muslims who know their stuff and can go back and forth with me in a constructive way. With him, I get bits and pieces, but we leave it pretty short because it feels heated quickly. Does that make sense?

Also, I've since read some of your other threads. I can tell you are all compassionate caring mamas here. I laughed so hard imagining that little boy mistaking the woman in the niqab for a Jedi! All your ideas and suggestions were so nice on how to explain what that is, and one of you even said you would light saber the kid

I'd be lying if I didn't sometimes fall into the trap of thinking of women dressed in Islamic dress as "kept women" or thinking of them as serious etc. None of my muslim friends head cover. Reading posts from you guys has reminded me that underneath one of those niqabs somewhere might just be a humor-filled mama who would be glad to light saber with my kid

So I guess I just have to say that:
1. I'm amazed we made this thread 4 pages long now and haven't managed to get it shut down for review or removed.
2. I'm amazed that despite the sensitive topics discussed, we've managed to keep it mostly respectful (heated of course, but mostly respectful).
3. You guys have been incredible in taking some pretty harsh criticisms of your religion without totally freaking out on me
4. I mean it when I say my intentions are not to hurt people's feelings or insult their religion. I stand by all I've said, but I do with an attempt to educate/inform others of some things they may not know. And I think you are doing the same with your rebuttals.

So you might think I've heard nothing....but I promise I have.

And I wish you all the best of everything.
XOXO
B

mama to Milena Anjali (4/26/06) and Vincent Asher (4/13/09) ~ married to the love of my life since 2002.
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Old 01-09-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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So I guess I just have to say that:
1. I'm amazed we made this thread 4 pages long now and haven't managed to get it shut down for review or removed.
2. I'm amazed that despite the sensitive topics discussed, we've managed to keep it mostly respectful (heated of course, but mostly respectful).
3. You guys have been incredible in taking some pretty harsh criticisms of your religion without totally freaking out on me
4. I mean it when I say my intentions are not to hurt people's feelings or insult their religion. I stand by all I've said, but I do with an attempt to educate/inform others of some things they may not know. And I think you are doing the same with your rebuttals.
Though I have to say, you and I see things from VERY different perspectives, I appreciate that you have voiced your concerns, and while maybe not agreeing, have been willing to listen. Experiences mold people and shape ideas- we all come from different backgrounds and have met different people and experienced many different things. It is my hope, God willing, that this conversation will help us all to be more sensitive to the root of where many of our disputes stem from. It has been insightful for me to see such harsh criticism of Islam, and while making my conviction in it stronger, has helped me to see points where some might take issue and to be better prepared to address these concerns.

At some point, we will just have to agree to disagree- for example, the fact that Muhammad married Aisha at 9 is just not an issue to me. I am comfortable with the fact that it was culturally acceptable at the time and that Aisha was mature (had reached the age of menstruation) at the age of 9. I maintain that, yes, even at 9 years old their relationship was one of love, maturity and respect, which is evident in many hadith describing their interaction. We can argue this till we are blue in the face, and I respect that you are uncomfortable with it, but I simply am not. What more is there to say?

I just want to make sure that I have addressed all of your concerns- though you may not like or agree with my answers- I think it is important that as a Muslim I address any questions you have. So please let me know if there is anything else I can help to clarify.

I did look into the story of Marwan, and I do want to respond to that, but right now I am breastfeeding my little one, and that response will require that I have more than one hand to type

I also wanted to make sure to give you the stories that show the compassionate and kind character of the prophet so I will also post those soon

I pray that one day Allah gives you an understanding of the religion so many love so much, and God willing, guides you to Islam!

Faiza

Faiza married and with , mama to DS (09.23.08) and with #2 (due in June 2010).
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Old 01-09-2009, 06:06 PM
 
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I couldn't disagree more that God transcends logic; I believe that logic stems from God and is a part of His nature. Saying that God is trans-love or trans-wisdom or trans-powerful is the same as saying He is other than, ie not love or wisdom or power; and the Bible clearly states that He is those things. It wouldn't have been hard for God to have added a biblical 'But I am really beyond all those things, and only describe myself as such because of your limited human understanding' - we could understand that concept easily enough, given that you and I are discussing it. If the Bible is God's way of communicating with Creation, one can expect it will reveal actual knowledge about Him - and 'God is not a man that he should lie' by telling us things that aren't true (ie that He is loving, just, holy etc). Where things are too complicated (or forbidden) for humans to know God spells that out, but He never makes a peep in that regard on the subject of attributes.

You're confusing temporal and logical priority also. Eternity doesn't impact upon causation; we speak of cause following effect, which I admit sounds like a time-based system, but it isn't.

Also, I'm a big fan of the book of Job, but how is it illustrating what you claim? Job does ultimately recognise and accept God's justice.

The unity problem you mentioned can be solved by a God who is both one and many, I think; but this isn't an area of theology I've studied deeply, so I'd have to see a formulation of the actual argument. At first blush I can't see why having attributes would violate God's unity, but how exactly are you defining unity? (Remembering that I'm a Christian who views God as a trinity).

I agree with "I might say, God is perfect justice, but always keeping in mind that I cannot hold Him to my limited understanding of what that means", if you mean that humans often judge God by what they perceive to be just (ie. it would be unjust of me to kill an innocent man, therefore it is unjust of God to do the same. Apart from the obvious theological problem of 'an innocent man', such an attitude ignores the fact that God has sovereign rights over His creation, that He is not bound by the civil laws He applied to men, and so forth). So I agree that saying 'God is love' or 'God is wrath' is not the same as saying 'Mary is love' or 'John is wrath'; but to extend that and say that God is trans-love or trans-wrath is quite a different matter. The human mind can comprehend, to a functional degree at least, the difference between the nature of God's love and the nature of man's. We're OK with words having different definitions under different circumstances ('Mary loves chocolate'). But 'something that transcends love' is not love. If it is 'beyond' love, it is not love; and God says He is love. (Rinse and repeat for other attributes). If anything, as we are created in the image of God and not vice versa, it would make sense to speak of the human versions of God's attributes as 'sub-love' or 'sub-wrath'.

But the 'trans-logic' thing particularly worries me. If God, who among other things is a creator, is trans, which is say not -logical, then we can say nothing about Him, including the fact that He is trans-logical, because He might be both trans-logical and not trans-logical at the same time and in the same sense. We would also have to cease to expect uniformity in nature, distrust the reliability of our minds and so forth, ending up in chaos... it ain't pretty.

If decomposition persists please see your necromancer.

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Old 01-09-2009, 08:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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...To the OP, I'd recommend reading Karen Hughes' The History of God. She shows how pretty much all of the world religions have gone through stages moving away from tribalism towards universalism. Because of this, all of them contain some factions that believe they are the One True Religion and other factions that believe there are multiple paths to God. So you could probably find a spiritual home in any of them, you would just need to find the right faction.
Thanks, Thao, for that recommendation. I am pretty sure you meant to say Karen Armstrong. I should read that title. Reza Aslan in his "No god But God" calls Armstrong's book, "Muhammad""beautiful".
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Old 01-09-2009, 08:47 PM
 
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Thanks, Thao, for that recommendation. I am pretty sure you meant to say Karen Armstrong. I should read that title. Reza Aslan in his "No god But God" calls Armstrong's book, "Muhammad""beautiful".
Yikes, you are right, I knew I should have confirmed her name online before I typed it.

Anyway that's the book I mean. It was a little bit of a slow read but I found the overall thesis to be very interesting .
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Old 01-09-2009, 11:43 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Smokering;12952799]I couldn't disagree more that God transcends logic; I believe that logic stems from God and is a part of His nature. Saying that God is trans-love or trans-wisdom or trans-powerful is the same as saying He is other than, ie not love or wisdom or power;

No, I don't think it is the same, in fact I would say it is the opposite. It is closer to the difference between being, not-being, and beyond being. I don't disagree that logic comes from God, I think the logos underlies all of creation. But I would be very careful in saying that God needs to conform to logic as we understand it.



and the Bible clearly states that He is those things. It wouldn't have been hard for God to have added a biblical 'But I am really beyond all those things, and only describe myself as such because of your limited human understanding' - we could understand that concept easily enough, given that you and I are discussing it.

I think the Bible does say that, in several places. I already mentioned Job, but there is also the place where Paul say us that we see "through a glass darkly" or describes God as "dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see" Also all the cases where God appeared to people, they were never able to really get hold of what he was, they could only see his "hind parts." Or when he names himself to Moses.

If the Bible is God's way of communicating with Creation, one can expect it will reveal actual knowledge about Him - and 'God is not a man that he should lie' by telling us things that aren't true (ie that He is loving, just, holy etc). Where things are too complicated (or forbidden) for humans to know God spells that out, but He never makes a peep in that regard on the subject of attributes.

I do think that as Christians we have actual knowledge of God. I think that negative theology is useful, but clearly we do have scripture, and Christ, who told us true things about the nature of God. I think those are the things we need to think about, most of the time.


You're confusing temporal and logical priority also. Eternity doesn't impact upon causation; we speak of cause following effect, which I admit sounds like a time-based system, but it isn't.


I don't think I am, though I suspect that it is because I expressed myself poorly that you thought so. I do understand the difference between logical causation and temporal causation. I was thinking more of how we process the idea of causation, intellectually. But I will have to think more about how to say what I mean about this, I am having no luck at the moment.


Also, I'm a big fan of the book of Job, but how is it illustrating what you claim? Job does ultimately recognize and accept God's justice.

But I would say that he doesn't really understand it, although he understands that God is indeed just. But that God's justice is far beyond what he comprehends as justice, so much so that it seems almost alien to poor Job. God asks him if he can "Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook or tie down his tongue with a rope? Can you put a cord through his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? ...Can you fill his hide with harpoons or his head with fishing spears?" For Job to presume to comprehend God's justice is similarly impossible.

The unity problem you mentioned can be solved by a God who is both one and many, I think; but this isn't an area of theology I've studied deeply, so I'd have to see a formulation of the actual argument. At first blush I can't see why having attributes would violate God's unity, but how exactly are you defining unity? (Remembering that I'm a Christian who views God as a trinity).


Yes, I guess I've been unclear, because that isn't what I meant at all. I don't think that God having attributes violates his unity or simplicity. I think we do have to realize that all of those attributes are not separate, in God, but are themselves a unity. That would mean that love and mercy, in their highest reality, are also a perfect unity. I don't think anyone considers that a problem and it seems to work well when we consider attributes like love and mercy that seem to fit well together. Perfect love = perfect mercy seems right.

Where some people run into difficulty is when we talk about God having attributes that seem to contradict each other. They feel that if God, who is perfectly simple, has two mutually exclusive attributes, he is violating the law of non-contradiction. Some examples that people have historically had trouble with are justice and mercy, or being passionless and compassionate, omnipotent and unable to change, among others.

Many of these problems disapear when we think about what the words mean from God's point of view, instead of our own.

I agree with "I might say, God is perfect justice, but always keeping in mind that I cannot hold Him to my limited understanding of what that means", if you mean that humans often judge God by what they perceive to be just (ie. it would be unjust of me to kill an innocent man, therefore it is unjust of God to do the same. Apart from the obvious theological problem of 'an innocent man', such an attitude ignores the fact that God has sovereign rights over His creation, that He is not bound by the civil laws He applied to men, and so forth).

That is an interesting example, I wouldn't have thought of the solution you have here. I would have said killing an innocent man was a moral rather than civil crime, and I think moral 'law' is another form of the law of non contradiction. So, if that were true, I would imagine that you would say that God would be bound by moral law?

So I agree that saying 'God is love' or 'God is wrath' is not the same as saying 'Mary is love' or 'John is wrath'; but to extend that and say that God is trans-love or trans-wrath is quite a different matter. The human mind can comprehend, to a functional degree at least, the difference between the nature of God's love and the nature of man's. We're OK with words having different definitions under different circumstances ('Mary loves chocolate'). But 'something that transcends love' is not love. If it is 'beyond' love, it is not love; and God says He is love. (Rinse and repeat for other attributes). If anything, as we are created in the image of God and not vice versa, it would make sense to speak of the human versions of God's attributes as 'sub-love' or 'sub-wrath'.

I agree with your conclusion, but not necessarily your argument. But I suspect it is partly a language issue, because you are reading the word trans as "not", whereas I don't. But yes, I think it would be much more accurate to call our understanding of love sub-love, since it is a kind of shadow of the real thing, that God has. But I suppose that we are working from our own experience, and then extrapolating to the real love that is God's, ad which we only know imperfectly or in part. So we name the thing we know. Not to mention the difficulty in conversation if we had to add sub to everything



But the 'trans-logic' thing particularly worries me. If God, who among other things is a creator, is trans, which is say not -logical, then we can say nothing about Him, including the fact that He is trans-logical, because He might be both trans-logical and not trans-logical at the same time and in the same sense. We would also have to cease to expect uniformity in nature, distrust the reliability of our minds and so forth, ending up in chaos... it ain't pretty.


Yes, if you wanted to take it that far. Which as Christians (or Muslims, Jews, or Hindus) I would say we shouldn't, because we can see God's creation and we believe it reflects him. So I think the orderly nature of creation tells us something about God. (I would even say that if it weren't orderly, we couldn't know there is a God.) But, I think we have to be so careful when we try to take our understanding of logic and expect God to conform to that. Rather, I would say we should not be surprised when sometimes he seems falls outside of that. But that reflects our limitations, not God's.

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Old 01-10-2009, 02:40 AM
 
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think the Bible does say that, in several places. I already mentioned Job, but there is also the place where Paul say us that we see "through a glass darkly" or describes God as "dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see" Also all the cases where God appeared to people, they were never able to really get hold of what he was, they could only see his "hind parts." Or when he names himself to Moses.
Here's another one, in Isaiah 55:

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

That's one of my favorite verses .
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:46 AM
 
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Thao: Yes, but God doesn't say His system of thought is higher than our system of thought. Logic is necessarily basic.

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No, I don't think it is the same, in fact I would say it is the opposite. It is closer to the difference between being, not-being, and beyond being. I don't disagree that logic comes from God, I think the logos underlies all of creation. But I would be very careful in saying that God needs to conform to logic as we understand it.
I'm not sure what you mean by 'beyond being'. Either something is or it isn't; what leads you to conclude that something can be beyond being? It doesn't make sense.

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I think the Bible does say that, in several places. I already mentioned Job, but there is also the place where Paul say us that we see "through a glass darkly" or describes God as "dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see" Also all the cases where God appeared to people, they were never able to really get hold of what he was, they could only see his "hind parts." Or when he names himself to Moses.
I'd call that an epistemic issue rather than an ontological one. I definitely concur that humans cannot, and possibly will never, comprehend the extent of Gods' attributes or how they interact; but I would argue that the extent is of those attributes, not beyond them.

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Where some people run into difficulty is when we talk about God having attributes that seem to contradict each other. They feel that if God, who is perfectly simple, has two mutually exclusive attributes, he is violating the law of non-contradiction. Some examples that people have historically had trouble with are justice and mercy, or being passionless and compassionate, omnipotent and unable to change, among others.
Ah, OK, I get what you're saying.

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I would have said killing an innocent man was a moral rather than civil crime, and I think moral 'law' is another form of the law of non contradiction. So, if that were true, I would imagine that you would say that God would be bound by moral law?
Can you describe what you mean by the bolded? Not sure I'm getting you. I wouldn't say God is bound by the moral or civil laws He gives to humans, but that He is bound by His own character (ie, He cannot be what He is not), which of course includes moral attributes. So because God is Truth, He cannot lie (He doesn't have libertarian free will, to put it another way - His decisions are based on His nature). Is that what you mean?

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I agree with your conclusion, but not necessarily your argument. But I suspect it is partly a language issue, because you are reading the word trans as "not", whereas I don't.
I'm not sure how else it can be defined. 'Trans' means 'beyond'. Beyond the horizon isn't the horizon; beyond the grave isn't the grave; beyond love isn't love. If by 'trans-love' you mean 'superlative, perfected love beyond human comprehension', I agree wholeheartedly, but I think 'trans-love' would be a misleading definition in that case.

Because I believe logic stems from God, I don't think the formal rules of logic are 'the human understanding of logic'. God's logic and man's logic is the same, albeit that the latter is very often misapplied or not used at all. (Just as I'd say God's mathematics and man's mathematics are the same - 7 is 7 is 7.) So while we need to be careful about applying human moral codes to God or using logic badly ('it's a sin to kill people, God kills people, therefore God is sinful'), I believe God has given us two objective tools - Scripture and logic - by which we can know, not just guess, things about Him.

I'm enjoying this discussion, BTW.

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Old 01-11-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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Thao: Yes, but God doesn't say His system of thought is higher than our system of thought. Logic is necessarily basic.


I'm not sure what you mean by 'beyond being'. Either something is or it isn't; what leads you to conclude that something can be beyond being? It doesn't make sense.


I'd call that an epistemic issue rather than an ontological one. I definitely concur that humans cannot, and possibly will never, comprehend the extent of Gods' attributes or how they interact; but I would argue that the extent is of those attributes, not beyond them.


Ah, OK, I get what you're saying.


Can you describe what you mean by the bolded? Not sure I'm getting you. I wouldn't say God is bound by the moral or civil laws He gives to humans, but that He is bound by His own character (ie, He cannot be what He is not), which of course includes moral attributes. So because God is Truth, He cannot lie (He doesn't have libertarian free will, to put it another way - His decisions are based on His nature). Is that what you mean?


I'm not sure how else it can be defined. 'Trans' means 'beyond'. Beyond the horizon isn't the horizon; beyond the grave isn't the grave; beyond love isn't love. If by 'trans-love' you mean 'superlative, perfected love beyond human comprehension', I agree wholeheartedly, but I think 'trans-love' would be a misleading definition in that case.

Because I believe logic stems from God, I don't think the formal rules of logic are 'the human understanding of logic'. God's logic and man's logic is the same, albeit that the latter is very often misapplied or not used at all. (Just as I'd say God's mathematics and man's mathematics are the same - 7 is 7 is 7.) So while we need to be careful about applying human moral codes to God or using logic badly ('it's a sin to kill people, God kills people, therefore God is sinful'), I believe God has given us two objective tools - Scripture and logic - by which we can know, not just guess, things about Him.

I'm enjoying this discussion, BTW.
Ok, as far as the idea of trans-whatever; Iin the tradition that uses that kind of language, God is said to be beyond being in the same way that he is beyond time or space. Creation is described as Being, but what produces or underlies being cannot itself be being, hence the idea of beyond being. And if God is beyond being, his attributes must be as well.

I think it would probably be useful to point out that within Christianity at least, you see this way of thinking is very much part of the mystical tradition, and it is used more sparingly by other sorts of theologians.

If you find yourself interested, Pseudo-Dionysus is the most important Christian who uses negative theology. Plotinus was probably the most well known philosopher, who was very influential on many early Christian thinkers, though he was a pagan.

Yes, I did mean that God is bound by his character. I would say moral laws come directly from his character. I suppose things like dietary laws must be somehow connected, but how I don't know.

As far as logic goes, I am not sure that we really disagree. Would you say that the trinity is logical?

I thiink it's a very fun discussion too I guess maybe we are nerds?

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:20 PM
 
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Ok, as far as the idea of trans-whatever; Iin the tradition that uses that kind of language, God is said to be beyond being in the same way that he is beyond time or space. Creation is described as Being, but what produces or underlies being cannot itself be being, hence the idea of beyond being. And if God is beyond being, his attributes must be as well.
Hmm, OK. I would describe anything that exists as being (in technical terms, if it is, it do be!) - obviously that would include God. Even if you do define God as beyond being, though, I think that viewpoint would run into some biggish epistemological issues if you believe in inerrancy, based on how God describes Himself. I'll ask DH if he knows anything about negative theology, he's more up on various interesting philosophical ideas than I am.
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Yes, I did mean that God is bound by his character. I would say moral laws come directly from his character. I suppose things like dietary laws must be somehow connected, but how I don't know.
I think we agree on this. Re dietary laws, I think the 'civil, moral and Levitical laws' dinstinction we often use to neatly categorise OT laws can be misleading. A dietary law, coming from God (an objective source), is no more random or arbitrary than the command not to murder, for those to whom it is directed. In other words an Israelites would have been morally sinning by breaking a dietary rule, not just 'sort of technically sinning' or 'only breaking a ceremonial law', KWIM? And while some moral laws apply far more widely ("Do not murder" comes to mind), they are still context-specific. It would have been sin for Abraham not to have killed Isaac when commanded, if the command hadn't been rescinded (leaving aside the technical murder definition for the sake of argument). So while I think moral laws do stem from God's character (because that's just another way of saying they stem from God, and where else would they stem from?), I do still think they're context-specific rather than absolutes in their own right.

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As far as logic goes, I am not sure that we really disagree. Would you say that the trinity is logical?
I'm still studying the trinity. Right now I'd say it's a paradox; as in, it has the appearance of formal contradiction but with warrant to believe that the contradiction is not actual. I've read some convincing analogies (James Anderson presents one in Paradoxes of Christian Theology), which leads me to believe it's an epistemic issue rather than an ontological one; which is actually quite similar to what Thao was saying a few pages back, except that I have seen the justification actually posited. Anyway it's an issue I'm trying to get my head around right now, which is hard because I'm not very good at heavily philosophical stuff... my eyes tend to glaze. Fortunately DH thrives on it, so I can get him to translate to some extent.
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I think it's a very fun discussion too I guess maybe we are nerds?
There is that distinct possibility...

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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By the way, I love your photoalbum! Subhanallah, the one where your husband is leaning over your DS, who's laying on your chest is BEAUTIFUL- I almost teared up!

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Old 01-11-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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Thanks, Thao, for that recommendation. I am pretty sure you meant to say Karen Armstrong. I should read that title. Reza Aslan in his "No god But God" calls Armstrong's book, "Muhammad""beautiful".
Karen Armstrong is amazing. I don't think I'm smart enough to participate in the majority of the discussion in RS, but I'm reading and following and learning a lot here....and I just had to give a shout out when I saw you recommended her book. She's fantastic.

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Old 01-11-2009, 10:37 PM
 
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By the way, I love your photoalbum! Subhanallah, the one where your husband is leaning over your DS, who's laying on your chest is BEAUTIFUL- I almost teared up!
aww!! thanks!!! I am so addicted to shutterfly!! lol

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Old 01-12-2009, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Karen Armstrong is amazing. I don't think I'm smart enough to participate in the majority of the discussion in RS, but I'm reading and following and learning a lot here....and I just had to give a shout out when I saw you recommended her book. She's fantastic.
Heehee. Yeah, Hopefulfaith, that's how I feel sometimes too. I don't think it means one person is necessarily "more smart" than another, though; some people have developed an ability and an interest in debate and, perhaps, a more analytical approach to religions. I prefer to vibrate and absorb.
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Old 01-13-2009, 11:39 PM
 
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Can we leave Judaism out of this? Judaism doesn't believe in ultimate truth, except for an ultimate truth for Jews. Judaism is more akin to Hinduism, in believing that "the righteous of all nations will have a place in the kingdom."

Just so we can stay on topic. I'm really enjoying this discussion. :

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