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July 11, 2015

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All religions are basically the same. They just differ in their view of God, man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, origin, meaning, morality and destiny.

- Ravi zacharias

The OP's descriptive that "The Ground of Being" or "Being Itself" was not "enough" in itself, and, in the same way, that a "Person" (God or Gods) also was not "enough" in itself, is insightful.

They are not enough.


The Gods play and the people pay - and - hence - we find the unintelligible and the spooky pressing in on so much of Man's approach to interpreting reality.


And then came a radical claim:


With Christianity a strange instantiation began to actualize and, thereby, the humble, even fearful intellectual posture of reality as somehow unintelligible began to give way to a very different set of intellectual postures concerning reality.


As early Christendom took root, the fundamental shape of reality emerged as constituted of three unavoidable vertices of being and such gave a radical new justification to our own perception, our own logic, our own reason, for, undeniably, we all obtain by experience vis-à-vis perception within the “I / Self” all which we then in turn in and by reference obtain the very perception of the “Other / You” and these two we then in turn in and by reference obtain the perception of the singularity that is reality – the collective whole – the singular “We / Us”. Our entire cerebral and rational and conceptual frame of reference then found, in those same three vertices constituting our entire experience of being, the same all over again as we moved to the arena of The Moral as they simply continued on, factually repeating, as both Being Itself and Person/Relationality confronted reason as the fundamental shape of reality.


How peculiar.


The Necessary began to obtain in the mind of Man vis-à-vis Christianity’s bizarre "Triune God" as that which factually is, as they say, Being Itself, and that which factually is, as they say, Person/Relationality. The ontological landscape of Christianity instantiated into the real world through the Self-Sacrificing God of Love and began to shape the interior milieu of Mankind’s approach to interpreting reality.


Prior to such radical claims on reality much of the world rested in something like this: Reality *is* unintelligible because the gods play and the people pay. Intuition. Gut Feel. The stuff of reality as illusion lingers still today, the stuff of karma lingers still today, the stuff of the capricious lingers still today. Both the Gods and the physical world were lost in an ocean of ultimate unintelligibility, in many cases Man presuming the latter about the physical world because of his belief in the former – his belief that for all we know the Gods played and we paid. Prior to the God of love the very attempt to master and subdue the stuff of Time and the stuff of Physicality was an oxymoron – for none could hope to out-maneuver the gods.


The general mindset of Mankind atop the world stage reveals the radical differences of Man’s interpretation of Reality in various mindsets. It's a kind of Sandwich, beginning ages ago in the murky unintelligibility of illusion, of reality as The Big Con, which then morphs into the Epicenter that is the crisp intellectualism of mastering and subduing the stuff of the physical world, which then, now, of late, at least among some, is fading once again, backwards, into the murky unintelligibility of illusion, of reality as The Big Con.


In the middle of the Sandwich we find the Epicenter of reason and logic within the Christian’s peculiar metaphysics which from the opening pages of Genesis asserts the antithesis of scientism as the Knowledge of Reality itself is, from the very beginning, divided into two distinct paradigms. Those two paradigms are such that, on the one hand, God calls Man to Come In and know God, for it pleases the Father to give to you Himself, and, on the other hand, God commands Man to Go Out and subdue Time and Physicality, for it pleases the Father to give you the world. Such carried the Christian to the crisp intellectual apprehension of truth as he sought to interpret reality through that lens. As such he found reason and logic emerging as his “...primary guide to religious truth....”. The peculiar posture of rigorous dissection to see and learn of God in and by His creation then, naturally, surfaced in all the assumptions of the Christian’s absurd and radical claim that God – Ultimate Reality – factually loves Man. Therein Man pressed in to gather up this divine gift such that we find Man, then in history’s lines, pressing in to extricate what he boldly presumed awaited him vis-à-vis Christ – the genuine knowledge of the Living God and of His Created World in and through what D. Hart describes as “the luminous medium of intentional and unified consciousness, which defies every reduction to purely physiological causes, but which also clearly corresponds to an essential intelligibility in being itself. We…. encounter the world… finally through our conscious and intentional orientation toward the absolute, in pursuit of a final bliss that beckons to us from within those transcendental desires that constitute the very structure of rational thought, and that open all of reality to us precisely by bearing us on toward ends that lie beyond the totality of physical things.”


The epicenter there which shocked the human mind ages ago served to carry us onward and out of the initial murkiness of reality being The Big Con, just as, that same epicenter which shocks the mind serves to propel some (of late) retrograde or backwards again into reality as The Big Con as the epicenter is itself to be avoided at all costs. The epicenter remains unchanging and fuels both trajectories – the former by offering Sight to those who know they are blind, the later by offering that same Sight to those who don't want to see too much. Prior to the God of love the unintelligibility in question raced from the heart of the gods who played while the people paid. Post-Christian attempts now find that same unintelligibility of The Big Con racing from the heart of reality itself as – again – some among us bring their costly sacrifice as they place atop the altar's flames the stuff of that same crisp intellectualism and watch – eyes wide open – as the fumes of annihilation eliminate their costly sacrifice. Indeed such is quite costly yet in their "minds" (whatever they "think" that "is") the alternative is to be avoided at any cost.

What does the word "GOD" actually "MEAN"?


“I have come to the conclusion that, while there has been a great deal of public debate about belief in God in recent years (much of it a little petulant, much of it positively ferocious), the concept of God around which the arguments have run their seemingly interminable courses has remained strangely obscure the whole time. The more scrutiny one accords these debates, moreover, the more evident it becomes that often the contending parties are not even talking about the same thing; and I would go as far as to say that on most occasions none of them is talking about God in any coherent sense at all. It is not obvious to me, therefore, that their differences really amount to a meaningful disagreement, as one cannot really have a disagreement without some prior agreement as to what the basic issue of contention is. Perhaps this is not really all that surprising a situation. The fiercest disputes are often prompted by misapprehensions, and some of the most appalling battles in history have been fought by mistake. But I am enough of a romantic to believe that, if something is worth being rude about, it is worth understanding as well.


“Honestly, though, my chief purpose is not to advise atheists on what I think they should believe; I want merely to make sure that they have a clear concept of what it is they claim not to believe. In that sense, I should hope the more amiable sort of atheist might take this book as a well-intended gift. I am not even centrally concerned with traditional “proofs” of the reality of God, except insofar as they help to explain how the word “God” functions in the intellectual traditions of the developed religions (by which I mean faiths that include sophisticated and self-critical philosophical and contemplative schools).


“God is not only the ultimate reality that the intellect and the will seek but is also the primordial reality with which all of us are always engaged in every moment of existence and consciousness, apart from which we have no experience of anything whatsoever. Or, to borrow the language of Augustine, God is not only superior summo meo — beyond my utmost heights— but also interior intimo meo — more inward to me than my inmost depths. Only when one understands what such a claim means does one know what the word “God” really means, and whether it is reasonable to think that there is a reality to which that word refers and in which we should believe.


“Beliefs regarding God concern the source and ground and end of all reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and of the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all.


“One of the more provocatively counterintuitive ways of expressing the difference between God and every contingent reality is to say that God, as the source of all being, is, properly speaking, not himself a being— or, if one prefer, not a being among other beings.


“God is not “just one item, albeit the supreme one, in a class of beings” but is rather “the source from which their being is derived.” Thus God does not “exist” in the sense that some finite object like a tree, an individual mind, or perhaps a god exists, but is himself the very power of unconditioned being from and in which anything that does exist has its dependent and imparted being. This is not to say, however, that God is somehow the totality of all beings (which would still be a finite, bounded, composite, and contingent reality). It is to say rather that he is the indivisible and always transcendent actuality out of which all things receive their immanent actuality in every possible respect. To quote Radhakrishnan again, this time commenting on the thought of the great Advaita Vedantist Adi Shankara (eighth century), to think of God in our categories of existence “would be to reduce God to the level of the finite, making him simply a unit in the indefinite multiplicity of objects, distinct from them all, even as they are distinct from each other, or merging him in the totality of existence in a pantheism which will be practically indistinguishable from atheism.


“We cannot encounter the world without encountering at the same time the being of the world, which is a mystery that can never be dispelled by any physical explanation of reality, inasmuch as it is a mystery logically prior to and in excess of the physical order. We cannot encounter the world, furthermore, except in the luminous medium of intentional and unified consciousness, which defies every reduction to purely physiological causes, but which also clearly corresponds to an essential intelligibility in being itself. We cannot encounter the world, finally, except through our conscious and intentional orientation toward the absolute, in pursuit of a final bliss that beckons to us from within those transcendental desires that constitute the very structure of rational thought, and that open all of reality to us precisely by bearing us on toward ends that lie beyond the totality of physical things. The whole of nature is something prepared for us, composed for us, given to us, delivered into our care by a “supernatural” dispensation. All this being so, one might plausibly say that God— the infinite wellspring of being, consciousness, and bliss that is the source, order, and end of all reality— is evident everywhere, inescapably present to us, while autonomous “nature” is something that has never, even for a moment, come into view.”


From David Bentley Hart's "The Experience of God ".


(Of course, the errors of Pantheism, Occasionalism, Conservationism, and so on, need not apply)


scbrownlhrm: It is obvious that you see yourself as an intelligent "seeker after the truth" It is obvious to me that you are just a wordy egotist

Richard,

I'm sorry you feel that way. If you'd like to discuss anything I'd be happy to participate.

The above quote that is attributed to Ravi, is actually from the poet Steve Turner which is as follows: “Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Mohammed, and ourselves. We believe he was a good teacher of morals but we believe that his good morals are really bad. We believe that all religions are basically the same, at least the one we read was. They all believe in love and goodness, they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.”

"My premise is that the popular aphorism that “all religions are fundamentally the same and only superficially different” simply is not true. It is more correct to say that all religions are, at best, superficially similar but fundamentally different". (Ravi Zacharias)

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