God, salvation, and philosophers

March 25, 2012

I missed my chance to comment on the piece in the NYTimes, “Does It Matter Whether God Exists?”, by Gary Gutting.

The first place I felt I had a significant point of disagreement was the notion of salvation.  It seems to be thought of as the antithesis of “final annihilation when we die” and akin to being “happy eternally in our life after death.”  I think whatever annihilation there ever is is really just a reunion with God in which the boundaries of self dissolve, so I see no antithesis.

Then comes a discussion of whether God would help us achieve salvation, as if God chooses this or not.  I think we are God, in a sense, and in that sense (that we contain divinity within us), that part of us will unite with others parts of God — the parts of God come together, and this process does not involve a choice by one part or another of God consenting or refusing to unite — it just happens, once the impediments to that union are dissolved.

On the issue of “evil,” I don’t think it exists in the abstract, and as for why painful damaging acts occur in our world, we can also ask why beautiful pleasant things occur, too — we live in a reality of dualisms, and we have the pleasure of beauty and the difficulty of pain.  I suspect that to avoid the painful stuff we need to forgo the pleasurable stuff, too — not through sheer force of will, but by living in a different construct of what is real, in another version of consensus reality in which dualism is transcended.

As to the issue of possible deception, raised toward the end of the piece, I think the aspect of faith that is missing in the analysis there, and would resolve the concern, is love.  If one heart at its deepest level connects with the highest level in the universe, there is no room for doubt — instead there is an assurance that is quite definite but at a level we don’t participate in very much of the time we are living our lives in this world — that sense of definite knowing happens in a moment, but we can remember that we experienced it, and build on that knowing with confidence, through continued connection at somewhat less extreme levels.

Well, that’s what I think, anyway.  It works for me.  It allows me to navigate a life full of challenges without being completely swamped.  I suspect that people with fewer challenges may not feel as impelled to learn how to swim in the deep water, how even to merge with it and to grow gills, so to speak, when that’s necessary.  So, for them, the universe and God and salvation and all this stuff may look quite different, because they are looking at it from a different vantage point.  Maybe they are dealing with life’s events using a different set of reference points, reference points that are adequate for the types of things in their lives.  If a person has thick hair, they need barrettes that will hold a lot of hair; people with thin hair need barrettes that will not slip out because the hair doesn’t fill them up sufficiently.  No one’s hair thickness is “wrong,” and the different barrettes are just what is apt for the situation.  If our hair situation changes, we may find ourselves looking for new barrettes.  And if we’ve never had a certain kind of hair, we may not know what it’s like to have it, and what kind of styling equipment works if one does.

3 Responses to “God, salvation, and philosophers”

  1. irene koronas Says:

    i did not read the article and almost never read a newspaper but in reading your paragraphs i get the sense of what had been said about whether God exists or the need for God to exist, when in fact gods do exist. your answer and your barrette metaphor keeps my God hairs in place. for me, there is no question that there is a definitive need for God in my life. my own will gets me into places and situations that need getting out of and so the principles set forth by my God help me to extricate myself from unGodly messes.

    it is about free will and those who chose to believe and those who debate the existence and those who believe they need politics or potato chips or shoes or drugs to fill the gaping whole. i prefer to put dirt in the hole and then plant flowers. but. it is all beyond my comprehension so i call on a power greater than myself and that is the God of my choice.

    i see and feel the need everywhere and if it wasn’t so then most people would not be so easily enticed to buy buy buy, drink drink drink.

    • Diana Moses Says:

      I find the philosophy and theology talk so arid and so at odds with my experience — it just seems like sophistry of a sort, words and reasonings but not animated by actual spiritual meanderings — not that the people writing the stuff couldn’t follow their spirits on a journey, but they don’t seem to have. It sometimes reminds me of sewing on a sewing machine without the bobbin thread — it’s unanchored in some way, is the way it comes across to me, it’s just words, not experience.

  2. Diana Moses Says:

    “i prefer to put dirt in the hole and then plant flowers.” — irene

    Me, too, and put in terms that resonate with me.

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