Does Being Exist?

If the title of this post seems odd, I agree. But it helpfully shows why adherents to panentheism, Sufi Islam, some branches of Buddhism, process theology, existentialist theology, linguistic theology and pantheism (and perhaps others such as “mystical atheists“) find themselves frustrated by repeated questions such as “What sophisticated arguments can you offer for the existence of supernatural beings?”

Paul Tillich, one of the great and extremely influential theologians of the 20th century, spoke of God as Being itself rather than “a being”. In other words, the discussion is not about a certain type of being (immoral, invisible, omniscient and omnipotent and presumably omnivorous as well) that exists in the universe, whether he be called Yahweh or Zeus or Ba’al Shamayim. The discussion is about the nature of Existence itself. Is reality deep? Does it have transcendence as one of its characteristics? Of course, we cannot answer that definitively from our perspective. Could the mitochondria in our bodies be expected to perceive the nature of the existence of the bodies of which they are a part? We have only metaphors and a perception that we are part of something greater than ourselves, which transcends us and embraces us. The language we use is symbolic of mystery and is not intended to be an explanation.

This concept is not a new one, although it is obvious that it is unfamiliar to fundamentalists and to those non-religious individuals who have only heard about religion from fundamentalists. The Sufi mystics of Islam have long interpreted the shahada, the Islamic statement of faith that “There is no God but God”, to mean that “nothing but God exists”. Everything exists within God – i.e. panentheism. This doesn’t mean that God is thought of in “supernatural” terms in the sense that the soul was thought of in this way in Greek, Hindu and classic Western Enlightenment thought. What was referred to as “the soul” in these traditions is now viewed by many as an emergent phenomenon rather than a separate spiritual substance. In the same way God may be viewed not as a separate spiritual substance that permeates the universe, but as a higher level of organization of that which exists.

No one suggests that science isn’t science because it doesn’t hold the same conclusions that science did a few hundred years ago. But Christians are berated by atheists as not really being Christians because they don’t hold precisely the beliefs Christians did almost two millenia ago. Am I the only one who can see the irony in this?

Theologians have been exploring understandings of God other than those of classic theism and contemporary fundamentalism for centuries. Yet those who are unfamiliar with this intellectual and spiritual enterprise continue to ask questions that are the theological equivalent of “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

So if you are looking for evidence that ancient deities and angels exist, with or without wings, residing on Mt. Olympus or just beyond the moon, I don’t believe that such entities exist. They were ancient explanations for what we today recognize as natural phenomena. But if you are asking about language that can give symbolic expression to the sense of awe many people feel about the “miracle” that anything exists at all, much less that we exist and can ponder the nature of our existence and wonder about these mysteries, then theology has a lot to offer. Not logical arguments for the existence of invisible persons, but metaphors that allow us to give voice to our limited and inadequate perception of life’s inexpressable mystery, then theology has a lot to offer. That doesn’t mean that amateurs can’t do theology, or write poetry, or make music, or even make scientific discoveries. But in every field, there is a body of knowledge and wisdom that has accumulated that allows one to not repeat all the mistakes and positive groundwork done in the past and build on what has gone before, rather than reinventing the wheel. If one wishes to discuss theology at that sort of level of academic sophistication, it involves significant reading and research to inform oneself, and not simply a handful of conversations with fundamentalists.

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew

    Issue is experience of God. This is differently construed than belief in leprechauns or how Greeks envisaged the reality of Zeus. Perhaps moksha and peace with prayer tap into the same reality. I don’t know for sure. But the socio-historical construction of Christianity is what works for me and to expect a believer in one tradition to hold to the equality of all traditions and experience them all alike is simply not plausible. I understand the tentativeness of my traditional moorings and that ought to be good enough even if I do have certain convictions that they are quite possibly true.So I like to reflect this question back to the atheist: Why is naturalism the mode of operation that is most satisfying to you? Can you justify that belief on the same grounds that you would ask me to justify belief in God? Or are we all delusional because we practice certain ideations that are not empirically provable to order our existence?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08694840174170043470 Tyro

    [...]spoke of God as Being itself rather than “a being”[...]The discussion is about the nature of Existence itself. I don’t understand this way of talking where abstract nouns are capitalized, and this change in spelling is somehow taken as sufficient motivation for saying that an abstract noun is now concrete. If “existence” or “being” are as defined in a dictionary, then these sentences are meaningless blather which convey nothing but confusion. If you mean something else (as your capitalization and italics imply), then you must be either intentionally trying to confuse us, or perhaps you don’t even understand yourself what you’re saying. Either way, it does nothing for me.But Christians are berated by atheists as not really being Christians because they don’t hold precisely the beliefs Christians did almost two millenia ago. Am I the only one who can see the irony in this?Words have meaning. If you chose to call yourself a Christian, then that says something about your beliefs. This has nothing to do with me being an atheist, it’s simply a factor of being an English speaker.I don’t really care if you follow all of the early Christian beliefs, but if you call yourself a Christian, I interpret this as saying you hold beliefs about Jesus which distinguish Christians from the rest of the world.Why don’t you come out and tell us what specific beliefs you have which you think mark you as a Christian? Did Jesus die and was he resurrected?Not logical arguments for the existence of invisible persons, but metaphors that allow us to give voice to our limited and inadequate perception of life’s inexpressable mystery, then theology has a lot to offer.This sounds like an overt admission that you consider theology to be, at best, a system of philosophies or literature with no external validity. Like poetry, it requires a knowledge of literature, yet no amount of learning will ever uncover any evidence for the existence of God. It sounds like “sophisticated theology”, according to you, is intentionally removed from reality, evidence, verifiability and falsification.It strikes me that Meyer’s Courtier’s Reply is still the best response. A sophisticated theologian knows all of the best stitchwork for the Emperor’s Clothes yet all this learning only serves to obscure the reality that theology has no clothes.Sorry if this sounds like a rant. I think you’re earnest in your desire to understand why you’re having trouble reaching people. I read what you’re saying and it all looks like a smoke screen. No useful information or understanding is being conveyed and your words appear designed to increase confusion, not reduce it. It sounds like this style is not unique to you, but stems from other theologians.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15978997781556741350 Mike L.

    Wonderful post! When people ask me if I “believe in God”, I always say…”it depends on what you mean by the word ‘God’ and more importantly what you mean by the word ‘exist’”.Does existence mean that something has human intelligence? If so, then plants and animals don’t exist. Does existence mean something is physical. If so, then emotions, thoughts, ideas, and language doesn’t exist. It would also mean that God has to be a physical bit of matter in a physical location.The question should never be “does God exist?”. It should be “what is the nature of God’s existence – physical, mental, emotional, or something else?”. And that question must always go back to the question of what it means to “be”.

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew

    “It sounds like “sophisticated theology”, according to you, is intentionally removed from reality, evidence, verifiability and falsification.”And notion of reality grounded in propositions that require the scientific process that you are alluding to here is not intentionally removed from this, by its nature it must be. The evidence for its existence must be through other means and I have argued for the rationality of those means. It’s not an existence versus non-existence issue. It is a possible/rational versus impossible/irrational argument. IOW we can argue the rationality of this or that belief and that is about all we can do since no proposition of God’s actual existence is falsifiable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10828225180668865911 Mystical Seeker

    Taht was really well stated, James. I really like what you wrote.Also, great points about the evolution of faith and the way that fundamentalists and atheists so often seem to think the same way about religious faith.Your comment about it being “unfamiliar to fundamentalists and to those non-religious individuals who have only heard about religion from fundamentalists” hits the nail right on the head. Religion, especially non-fundamentalist religion, is necessarily about poetry, metaphor, inspiration, awe, and symbols. It is a human attempt at making sense of an indefinable mystery. This process no doubt makes little sense to fundamentalists, literalists, dogmatists, and hard-core atheists. But that is not really surprising, I think.You get comments from some who might object that don’t understand you, or that the language you use does nothing for them. The problem is, of course, that the response to this lack of comprehension is basically to attack that which is not understood, and by inference you and your beliefs. The problem is that some are trying to define religion on the same terms as science, and then refute it on those terms. For example, I think the comment in response to you about how religion is “removed from reality, evidence, verifiability and falsification” is interesting, because this illustrates this attempt at making religion into something that is the same as science. But in fact religion is not science, and does not pretend to be–or, at least, non-fundamentalist religion doesn’t. The roles of science and religion are different, they address different aspects of human understanding and existence, and it is a huge category mistake to judge one by the other. Fundamentalist Christianity often tries to intrude into science, where their faith doesn’t belong, of course, which is one way that it goes so badly wrong. The flip side of this is listening to militant atheists complain that the faithful can provide no empirical evidence for the existence of God just wants me to say, “Well duh.” I would argue that if God were empirically verifiable, God would would not be God. It’s built into the very definition of God. Science is about observing the observable, while religion is about penetrating to the depths of awe and mystery and supplying meaning to one’s life that lie beyond and behind the observable. Either you get this or you don’t. The constant attacks against faith by some militant atheists who don’t get it says more about their own dogmatism than it does about religion. I also think this insistence Christianity must conform to some limited definition, supplied ironically by fundamentalists, illustrates the problem. You wonderfully refuted this with your analogy about evolution:Yet those who are unfamiliar with this intellectual and spiritual enterprise continue to ask questions that are the theological equivalent of “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”Another analogy that comes to mind comes from another faith, namely Buddhism. I can imagine someone who is unfamiliar with the varieties of Buddhism, in the same way that many militant atheists are with the varieties of Christianity, going up to a Jodo Shinsu Buddhist and saying, “How can you be a Buddhist when you don’t even practice meditation or believe that meditation is necessary for Enlightenmen? Words have meaning! Blah blah blah!” But in fact Jodo Shinsu Buddhism is the largest Buddhist denomination in Japan–so there you have it. Buddhism, like Christianity, has proven over history to be an evolving religion.There is a vast body of literature by Christian theologians who view Christianity quite differently from what some atheists, who learn their ideas about Christianity from fundamentalists, comprehend. These theological ideas are being discussed in churches all around the US and elsewhere. DVD-based seminar programs such as “Living the Questions” or “Saving Jesus”, which feature progressive theologians like Borg, Spong, Crossan, and others, are conducted in churches all around the US. Christianity is evolving, as it always had. Evolution is always part of the history of faith. Fundamentalists think that religious Truth falls from the sky and remain fixed forever; that is their mistake, but it is also the mistake of some atheists in accepting that this is what people of faith must necessarily believe. Faith traditions evolve. People share the world with monkeys. Such is the way of the world.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08694840174170043470 Tyro

    Mike,I can tell I haven’t been around here long enough because I can’t tell if you’re a parody or being serious. If I were intentionally setting out to mock James’s position, I couldn’t do a better job.But on the off-chance that you’re serious and interested in a discussion:Does existence mean something is physical. If so, then emotions, thoughts, ideas, and language doesn’t exist.Talk about your pyrrhic victory. All atheists I know agree that the idea of God exists and if the best you’ve got is to say that the ideas of God exists, you might as well give up the argument.It seems to do considerable abuse to the term “theist” or “Christian” if the best you can do is say that God exists in the same way that thoughts exist.The question should never be “does God exist?”. It should be “what is the nature of God’s existence – physical, mental, emotional, or something else?”.No. That again is again abusing language. “God” has a meaning, and it is a legitimate question to ask if it exists. If your answer is “no, but if I can twist the meaning of ‘God’ and ‘exists’ so hard they mean something completely different, then ‘God’ ‘exists’,” then I think you should be more upfront. And don’t forget the scary quotes since you are writing your own language as you go.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03126711689901268060 Quixie

    I’m a big fan of Paul Tillich – and of the mystics too, eastern and western.And I can relate to them at that “deep” level, that place where McG finds “transcendence” possible.The language is not alien to me as metaphor. But as such, it runs the risk of seeming obscurantist to some who may not be as informed about the theological work of the last century or so (actually, the philosophia perennis goes back thousands of years, never mind Tillich or Cuppitt :). In a way these difficult (and thoughtful :) commentors are still reacting to the god of Calvin, the god of Jonathan Edwards, the god of Joseph Smith, et al.But they do raise a good question now and then. What are the qualities that allow one to call oneself “Christian”? What does that really mean? What does that entail in thought and deed? It’s a fair question. A denial of “incarnation” and/or “resurrection” in the empirical sense which simultaneously affirms it in a poetic metaphorical sense might work for those of us who have read the moderns and post-moderns. But to those who do not recognize Christianity in these new theological paradigms, it all seems like obsfucation and evasiveness.But again. . . it’s a fair question.I stand with Paul Tillich’s conception and yet don’t think of myself as either a theist or an atheist. For I think that it is the inevitable conclusion of Tillich’s thought that such categories are ultimately meaningless in this new paradigm. I could no more call myself Christian than I could call myself a Sufi if I don’t “believe” certain things, no matter how much “light” I might glean from each respective tradition. It works for these informed later generations, but it does sound at times like the very sort of things which were denounced as heresy in the first few centuries. No? As long as we cling to the patristics (and most people who confess to being Christian even today do) as the vouchsafers of an “apostolic” and inveterate, inflexible tradition, there will be those who will consider you (and even within your own fellowship!! – just ask Spong and Cuppitt) “atheist Christians”. I agree with you that Tillich’s insights free us from such constraints but the weight of two-thousand years worth of “obedience” training is difficult to shrug off in a populace – it’s a step that even Bultmann couldn’t bring himself to take in his own work.Anyway . . . just some thoughts on “why it’s so hard to discuss” it.peaceÓ

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never seen such verbal acrobatics in my life. I can’t help but see these “believers” (if believe is the issue here, I’m probably wrong as I am not a student of progressive theology) as the sterotypical devotee of modern art or the avant garde intelluctual- If you don’t “get it” or appreciate or accept it, then you never will and there’s no use in trying to explain using such primitive concepts as “plain english” and “reality.” These ideas are too lofty for the scientific rabble.It still boils down to this:People believing in beings (whoops- I mean concepts/ideas/proto-pseudo-anachro-prefixo-buzz word here)for which there is no evidence of their existence (whoops- I mean…well, my poor mind can’t comprehend such notions).

  • Anonymous

    Well done James. I think you have said it as well as anything I can imagine. I believe any misunderstanding that remains must be due to people speaking a ‘different language’ and perhaps having had different experiences in their past.

  • Anonymous

    Hmmmm. It has been interesting reading this post and the comments following. I think it is a mistake to try to understand religion as a set of propositional beliefs. It is much more a set of lived practices: a way of life. When one lives out certain practices — regular time for reflection/meditation/prayer; living constructively within a community of people, many of whom are very different politically and demographically; giving one’s time and money and resources to move things in a better direction — this seems to me to be much more related to most believers’ lives than hammering out evidentialist implications of, say, the Nicene creed. I also think that religious experience plays a major role: religious experiences give people the sense that there is something more going on with reality, that there is some kind of meaning present. These experiences feel deeply real, and I look at books like the Bible as records of such experiences through history.

  • http://www.myspace.com/vegantrav VeganTrav

    awesome post, James: thoughtful and very witty – my favorite part, though, is what I presume to be a typo: “the discussion is not about a certain type of being (immoral, invisible, omniscient and omnipotent and presumably omnivorous as well)” – the traditional supernatural being posited by most believers usually does behave in such a fashion as to render correct the judgment that his nature is “immoral”

  • http://anxiousmofo.wordpress.com/ Anxious Mo-Fo

    You write,’Paul Tillich, one of the great and extremely influential theologians of the 20th century, spoke of God as Being itself rather than “a being”. In other words, the discussion is not about a certain type of being (immoral, invisible, omniscient and omnipotent and presumably omnivorous as well) that exists in the universe, whether he be called Yahweh or Zeus or Ba’al Shamayim. The discussion is about the nature of Existence itself. Is reality deep? Does it have transcendence as one of its characteristics?’And’In the same way God may be viewed not as a separate spiritual substance that permeates the universe, but as a higher level of organization of that which exists.’I don’t mean this question as a criticism, but I’m curious about what distinguishes your position from that of an atheist like me. Is the difference an attitude of reverence? What you are describing is a lot like my position was when I was practicing Buddhism: I did not believe that there was some sort of entity separate from the physical world that was nirvana or Buddha or the dharmakaya; those were terms which described the world when viewed or approached or interacted with in a particular way. Eventually it seemed odd to describe physical reality with spiritual words, and so I stopped.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Thank you all for these comments so far! Tyro, words have meaning, and the way I’m using terminology is much more in keeping with historic usage than modern fundamentalism’s. There’s an excellent book by Gary Eberle, an English professor, on this subject. Faith, for instance, was a synonym for trust, and did not have the connotation it does in English today of believing dubious or evidently untrue propositions based on insufficient evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary. Your assumption is that the only things worth talking about are things that we can prove exist. I deny the validity of that assumption. I cannot prove that free will exists, but whether it is my spouse or Daniel Dennett’s who is asking for a choice of color to paint the wall, I submit to you that neither husband will offer as a reply an affirmation of determinism. We live as though choice is real, even if the worldview of some leaves little room for it. Is love real? Is beauty? If we cannot prove their objective reality, should we therefore not act and live in accordance to our perception of them? It is your assumption that what fundamentalists mean by “God” is the meaning, that talk of God is about proving or disproving the existence of invisible persons, that is the problem. Apart from its fundamental (if you’ll excuse the pun) dishonesty, the second main reason I am opposed to fundamentalism is that it is a radical departure from and perversion of religion in response to modernity and the Enlightenment).I must say that many of the critics of this approach who’ve commented here sound to me a lot like the critics of evolution, who have heard a popularized argument against a misunderstanding of evolution, and when someone suggests to these creationists that their most basic understanding of the issues and the ways they are framing the questions are wrong, they refuse to take the time to inform themselves, but simply repeat the arguments they’ve heard because they know in advance that their questions and their answers are the right ones.And so, to one of the anonymouses, I’d say that whether it is modern music (I know more about it than other modern art), biology, cosmology, theology, psychology, spirituality, Star Wars fandom or role playing games, it is absolutely easy for someone with no familiarity to look from the outside and immediately feel disdain. In most or all cases, taking the time to become familiar will allow one to appreciate even if one doesn’t enjoy. I used to find Shostakovich’s 4th Symphony too dissonant, but now I enjoy it. For the most part avant-garde atonal music remains in the “appreciate” rather than “listening for pleasure” category. But I think learning to appreciate has itself been worthwhile.Anxious, I suppose the only difference I’d want to say there is between the language I’m using and the language you used is the tradition it is drawn from. And perhaps the only real difference between our perspectives is that I find that the language of spirituality does reflect something that is indeed part of the material world. This material universe has all sorts of emergent properties, for which the language of one level will not adequately do justice to aspects of another. H2O is wet. Neither hydrogen nor oxygen is. People can be spiritual, while I have no reason to think that individual cells can. I’ve been willing to consider tossing out religious language. But I always find that doing so involves discarding the only language I have to explore certain aspects of my experience. As for whether I am right in my perception of transcendence, I humbly admit that I cannot stand outside the universe and observe it. But I thus feel justified in using organic and even personal language as metaphors for the ultimate reality that surrounds and encompasses me, and do not think that the language of a ‘multiverse’ is any less metaphorical or any more self-explanatory.As for the word “immoral”, I did indeed mean to type “immortal”. But having made the slip, that could lead us into a whole other subject that is potentially interesting…and so perhaps I should just leave it as it is and see what discussion it generates! :)Let me conclude by pointing to a “guest post” by an atheist (it is actually a compilation of lengthy comments) who seems to understand what I mean by the language I use and why I find it helpful to use it. Perhaps he’ll do a better job of translating for me! :)

  • http://notes-from-offcenter.com Drew

    Anonymous. Perhaps you can produce such evidence for human rights? The reference here is to a reality-grounding structure of meaning and existence. For Tillich religion is what constitutes one’s ultimate concern along these lines. Thus, rational liberalism can be a religion as much as the Westboro Baptist Church, communist socialism, or the principles of a federalist republic.So give some evidence that any of these structures of reality exist and are independently falsifiable through empirical means and you might have a point. Otherwise crawl back into your hole of anonymity and re-build your strawman with better materials.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08694840174170043470 Tyro

    James,I had sought to explain why your writing is not met with a warm reception by people like Larry and myself. In short, you present any reason to think a god exists and you are prone to use words with unclear meanings (or no meaning at all). You continually cite authorities and accuse others of ignorance yet you don’t offer any reason to think these sources have anything which could address any fundamental concerns. Ultimately, you are concerned with the finery of the Emperor’s Clothes while dancing around the question of his nakedness.Since you haven’t addressed any of these points, I’ll assume that you understand or accept them but find them unimportant or irrelevant. That’s fine and you can live your life as you see fit, but don’t be surprised at others’ reaction.Tyro, words have meaning, and the way I’m using terminology is much more in keeping with historic usage than modern fundamentalism’s. There’s an excellent book by Gary Eberle, an English professor, on this subject. Faith, for instance, was a synonym for trust, and did not have the connotation it does in English today of believing dubious or evidently untrue propositions based on insufficient evidence or in spite of evidence to the contrary.I didn’t say I had a problem with the use of the word “faith”, so this seems like a red herring. It is also irrelevant since I don’t see a problem in faith/trust, just in faith/unwarranted belief. Whether you trust has no bearing on whether you also have unwarranted beliefs, “blind faith”.Your assumption is that the only things worth talking about are things that we can prove exist.Not exactly, but if we are talking about things which we can’t prove exist or have good reason to think do not exist, then we should be clear and upfront about it. If you choose to believe in something for which there is no evidence then you are using blind faith and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise.Come out and say “I’ve got no evidence or rational argument to support my beliefs, but I think…”At the very least, don’t act surprised when others do not share your blind faith.It is your assumption that what fundamentalists mean by “God” is the meaning, that talk of God is about proving or disproving the existence of invisible persons, that is the problem. Hardly just fundamentalists. The world over has recognized definitions for what a god is. I defy you to find a dictionary anywhere which agrees with you. I’m not trying to force any interpretation on you, and you’re free to believe what you wish, but you should understand what your words mean and what you are communicating. If this “God” of yours is so different, then use a different word like “spirit”, “force” or something. If you don’t believe that Jesus lived and was resurrected, then don’t call yourself a Christian, say you like Christ’s philosophy.I must say that many of the critics of this approach who’ve commented here sound to me a lot like the critics of evolution, who have heard a popularized argument against a misunderstanding of evolution, and when someone suggests to these creationists that their most basic understanding of the issues and the ways they are framing the questions are wrong, they refuse to take the time to inform themselves, but simply repeat the arguments they’ve heard because they know in advance that their questions and their answers are the right ones.Right. Don’t flatter yourself. You are hardly in the position of a learned scholar, armed with mountains of evidence from paleontology, biology, chemistry, geology, genetics and botany standing up against people taking a dogmatic stance for faith and unreason. You’ve got no evidence at all for your position, none. At best, you’re squaring up against people calling your Emperor naked and who stubbornly refuse to read your scholarly books on his stitchwork. You’re arguing the colour of a fairy’s wings and upset that we keep asking for evidence of their existence. I don’t really care about these subtleties of yours – the Emperor is naked, gods do not exist.Only after you crest that hurdle am I interested in talking about God’s waist size.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13599662252662686373 BSM

    Drew writes: “So I like to reflect this question back to the atheist: Why is naturalism the mode of operation that is most satisfying to you? Can you justify that belief on the same grounds that you would ask me to justify belief in God? Or are we all delusional because we practice certain ideations that are not empirically provable to order our existence?”I consider myself a naturalistic atheist with agnostic tendencies. :-)It also took me a few years to realize I have much better things to do than argue with fundamentalists from either camp (atheist or religious). Given that Dr. McGrath’s blog is pretty tolerant (as our most of his posters) I’ll weigh in:Rather than attack your position I’ll try to explain mine: Based on the science of the day, as well as what I know about all the competing religions and their varying definitions of “God”, I feel that naturalism best fits the evidence. From a scientific perspective the supernatural has yet to be verified to anything remotely approaching certainty. Psychology and science all offer alternate explanations that better fit the event for me. True we both practice ideations but some of mine are close to what I’d call provable. Even though no one has seen a black hole per se we can make certain observations, predictions, etc about how the black hole affects things around it. Now I’ll admit that quantum physics gets pretty dicey. But do we through our hands up in the air and say: God! Or do we wait until science catches up? I choose the latter because all throughout history you see the effect that science has had on supernaturally religious beliefs. Science usually catches up more often than not.This leads us to competing religions with competing and conflicting truths. I think it was Hume who said that they essentially all rule each other out and can’t all be right. We can take that further by just looking at Christianity: You have a range of views from the same religion on a whole host of topics that are not compatible (abortion, women having authority in church, euthanasia, snake handling, etc.) The point being is that the traditional version of god did not do such a good job of getting his followers on the same page IMO. Now Christians like McGrath will cite Tillich and a version of god that’s far from “traditional”. What I’ve seen these folks do is cite a god that all the religions are somehow pointing to, whether they realize it our not. First, someone needs to clue these religions in on that little tidbit so they can change about 2,000 year’s worth of dogma. ;-)Second, the notion is interesting to ponder but what I want to know is assuming “being itself” exists, does it concern itself with me? If not, it remains an interesting and complex idea for me but that’s about it. And before I get flamed I’m not one of those atheists who wants to do away with religions. I think it is an important way to look at the world. However, it is just one way and one model. Yes, certain religions can lead to violence, etc. But I really think that’s the human factor at work as much as it is religious practices. Heck, we could say the same of certain political regimes or forms of nationalism. All led to wars and death, yet when they are tempered with a little reason politics and national pride are not necessarily bad. ~BCP

  • Jeff Chamberlain

    Is this perhaps semantic? McGrath seems to use the word “god” to mean something different from what Moran uses that same word to mean. McGrath says there are things which are important and which are not empirical. (We can argue about that some other time.) He finds these awesome and uses the word “god” for them (in the aggregate) and “religion” for his reaction to them. Moran does not deny that there are such things, but doesn’t use words like “god” or “religion” to refer to them. McGrath seems to see theology as poetry. Moran seems to see theology as talk about “supernatural” stuff — “classical theology” in McGrath’s phrase. Is there more going on here than this?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10828225180668865911 Mystical Seeker

    I think the problem is that that James’s definition of God doesn’t fit into what are frankly some rather limited preconceptions of what the word “God” means. The reason James brings up theologians like Tillich, who is one of more famous and significant theologians of the twentieth century, is to show how Moran’s and Tyro’s definitions of God are in fact limited. James isn’t pulling this stuff out of thin air. He is not just inventing his own contrarian definition of God in defiance of universally accepted concepts. On the contrary, “God” is a varied term, and there are a lot of God-concepts. Wading through Karen Armstrong’s somewhat tedious “A History of God” is one way to get a pretty clear understanding of this point. When Moran and Tyro want to insist that God only means what they decide it means, irrespective of what considered theological opinion has to say on the subject, then they are basically just trumpeting their own ignorance. It’s an argument that says “I don’t have to know what theologians say about what the word ‘God’ means, and I don’t need to be informed on a subject that I make all sort of proclamations about, because I just know already what I know.”One can object all one wants to the bringing up of these various theologians that James cites, but what is happening here is, I think, the following. In one breath one insists that one already knows what “God” means; and then, in the next breath, when presented with theologians who defy one’s preconceptions about the concept and thus who serve as evidence that one perhaps one’s own understanding of the concept is limited or incomplete, one just shuts ones ears and continues to repeat the mantra that James is just making up his own definition of God. Well, no, actually he isn’t, and that is why he brings up these theologians. And we aren’t even talking obscure people that he is referring to–Tillich is in fact quite known, at least among those who are interested in theology.To be unaware of the theological literature that discusses this broad diversity of God concepts is fine and dandy; there are a lot of subjects in life that don’t interest me enough to inform myself on. But I don’t then turn around and make pompous pronouncements about those subject either. To proclaim that “God doesn’t exist”, you first have to define what it is you are saying doesn’t exist. That gets back to the comment by theologian and scholar Marcus Borg that I cited elsewhere, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in, and I probably don’t believe in that God either.” Similar problems come up with the definition of the word “Christian.” The fact is that there is a vast body of Christianity out there that doesn’t conform to what fundamentalist Christianity defines it to be. Just because the fundamentalists are vocal and loud and think they get to define what the legitimate definition of “Christian” is, the fact is that large numbers of churchgoers read and study, both individually and within church-sponsored study groups, the ideas of Marcus Borg, Dominic Crossan, John Shelby Spong, and others, all of whom present ideas that defy the limited and narrow definition of “Christian” that some people insist on imposing on the rest of the world.I cited in an earlier comment the example of Buddhism and meditation. I would bet most people in North America who are not particularly informed about Buddhism would assume that meditation is an essential aspect of the Buddhist faith. In fact, some Tibetan or other forms of Buddhists themselves talk about “Buddhism” and “meditation” in pretty much the same breath and thus make that same false assumption. And yet you have an entire movement, the largest Buddhist group in Japan, for which meditation is not even a part of the faith. How can this be? They must not be Buddhists! Well, actually they are. This is just an example of where limited knowledge of what it means to be a Buddhist can lead one to exclude the Jodo Shinsu sect from the definition of the faith.Similarly, the fact that someone might have a limited definition of Christianity, partly thanks to dogmatic fundamentalists who vocally claim to have the right to decide who is and isn’t a Christian, leads to the false impression that there are not Christians who don’t believe that Jesus was resuscitate from the dead. In fact, as in Buddhism, Christianity is actually a family of related belief systems, and like Buddhism its various streams of faith traditions have evolved and crossed over and influenced one another.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08694840174170043470 Tyro

    Mystical Seeker,I think the problem is that that James’s definition of God doesn’t fit into what are frankly some rather limited preconceptions of what the word “God” means. The reason James brings up theologians like Tillich, who is one of more famous and significant theologians of the twentieth century, is to show how Moran’s and Tyro’s definitions of God are in fact limited.The only limitations I’m using are those imposed by English. These “limitations” as you so sneeringly refer to them are what enable us to communicate with one another. If we go around making up new definitions for common words (especially if we refuse to tell others what those meanings are), then we aren’t communicating. Saying that Tillich or someone else started it doesn’t make it any better.Wading through Karen Armstrong’s somewhat tedious “A History of God” is one way to get a pretty clear understanding of this point. When Moran and Tyro want to insist that God only means what they decide it means, irrespective of what considered theological opinion has to say on the subject, then they are basically just trumpeting their own ignorance.I’ve read “A History of God,” I’ll have you know. I may be ignorant of some theological matters, but unless you can show that this ignorance can affect anything, I think you’re just throwing up more smoke and distractions.Again, if McGrath (or any other theologian) can explain clearly what they mean by “God” and give some reason to think it exists, I’ll listen. Right now, they use these meaningless phrases like “Being not a being” and other twaddle then attack anyone who points out how ridiculous it all is. Have the courage to come out and say what you mean. Muddied speech is a symptom of a muddied mind.That gets back to the comment by theologian and scholar Marcus Borg that I cited elsewhere, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in, and I probably don’t believe in that God either.”That sounds like the best description of the sort of blather that comes out of this post-modern wing of theology. Apart from this sort of abuse of language, what differentiates these people from atheists?Similarly, the fact that someone might have a limited definition of Christianity, partly thanks to dogmatic fundamentalists who vocally claim to have the right to decide who is and isn’t a Christian, leads to the false impression that there are not Christians who don’t believe that Jesus was resuscitate from the dead.Hardly dogmatic fundamentalists, this is a corner stone of Christianity of all stripes. You happily cited “A History of God” – tell me which Christians in there did not believe that Jesus was resurrected? It seems to me that this is again a question of definitions, that you want to strip these words of all meaning. If you take away all characteristics, you may as well call my cat a Christian. And to what end? So that some “scholars” can stand up and talk about all the good that Christians do, failing to mention that they tautologically define “Christian” as “one that does good”?So tell me: if you don’t need to accept Jesus’s resurrection, what does distinguish a Christian from other people or other faiths?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08694840174170043470 Tyro

    Incidentally, since these extremo-metaphorical versions of Christianity and theism are so wildly different from anything the world recognizes as Christian or theism, why adopt these labels? You tar yourself with all of the baggage of the “unsophisticated” believers, and your “apologetics” just provide cover for the fundamentalists you so happily deride since you use the same words and only some small clique knows that your words (“Christian”, “theology”, “God”, etc.) actually mean something very different than what others think.Why not cut yourself off, create your own words and make it clear that you don’t accept the ignorant, superstitious Christian beliefs (like Jesus actually rising from the dead or God actually answering prayers)? At the very least, why don’t you come out and make it very clear that you don’t accept these things?It seems to me that you share a good portion of blame for the rise of fundamentalism by making faith more palatable.

  • Anonymous

    Tyro, when it comes to Christianity, you are fond of the ‘no true Scotsman’ argument. Fwiw, I think of a Christian as someone who attempts to follow the example of Christ, who considers the Christian story to be a meaningful way to orient one’s own life, and who is involved in a Christian community. But I am certainly open to those who call themselves Christian, and disagree with my definition, to tell me why they think of themselves as Christians. I think of Christianity as a way of life that is practiced rather than a set of propositions. Christians disagree on theological issues like the historicity and meaning of the resurrection. They disagree on moral issues like abortion, war and the death penalty. They disagree on whether to serve wine or grape juice. They disagree on how much to rely on external authorities (clergy, doctrinal teachings) versus internal authority (“conscience” or the “Holy Spirit”). So why, when Christians disagree on literally everything that one might identify as Christian, do they still call themselves Christians?It makes a lot more sense to think of religions as analogous to political groups. I can be a Democrat and support Barack Obama; I can be a Democrat and support Hillary Clinton; or I can be a Democrat and support John Edwards; or I can say that all of the candidates suck but I’d vote for any of them over a Republican. You will never find 100% of Democrats agreeing on even a single policy point in a Democratic platform; and yet they are all somehow Democrats. What gives them the right to call themselves Democrats? You don’t have to approve of religion or faith; many people don’t. But I truly do not understand your urge to declare yourself umpire for a game you personally refuse to play. You are not the first atheist who has felt the need to scold believers on theological grounds, and I’m sure you’re far from the last. But I always think it’s entertaining when someone who says he does not believe in or practice something, tells those of us who do, that they are doing it all wrong. ;-) — Anna K.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    I may join in again to say more myself, but for the moment I just want to draw attention to Qalmlea’s post at Sporadic Maunderings that is part of this conversation even though not posted as a comment here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    And here’s a different perspective, but again part of this conversation, from Carlo on his blog.

  • Art

    Reading the back-and-forth between Larry Moran and James McGrath, I can’t help but think that the two (individuals and sides) are talking past each other. Both see a large body of thought and logic on one side, and a curious inability of the other to acknowledge the collective wisdom of the respective groups. An entry at Sporadic Maunderings brings to mind a possible metaphor to help to explain this (but not, alas, to point the way to a resolution).I’ll admit it – I like The Who. I hear the opening bars of Amazing Journey, and I pause or stop what I’m doing (unless I’m driving, in which case the crescendo of the song pushes the speedometer needle off the scale), and just bask in some ethereal pleasure. OTOH, I can’t stand hip-hop. I don’t know why, really. I have no scientific or empirical explanation for why some music strikes a chord, and some doesn’t. That’s just the way things are.This contrast might be viewed somewhat akin to that between, say, a Baptist and a Buddhist (don’t ask me who is who). But at least the two would both admit that there is something there (music, or to apply the metaphor to the subject of debate between Larry and James, “Being”) to enjoy. In contrast, all of this – musical appreciation and/or taste – would be pretty indecipherable to a person who either detests all music, has never heard music, or is deaf (tone or otherwise). Worse, there really is no empirical way, no scientific approach, to relate music and taste to the musical equivalent of what would be an atheist. Worser still, I suspect that a discussion about the subject would go pretty much the way that the one between Larry and James goes – appreciation and enjoyment of music is deeply ingrained, inescapable, and most definitely tangible, but it is also irrational, inexplicable, even pointless to the hard-core empiricist and materialist. And there would seem to be no way to even get the two sides to understand what the other is saying.If you think about it, musical taste is every bit as irrational and inexplicable (and tangible and meaningful) as religious belief or theology. I can come up with 21 reasons for why the concept of heaven and hell causes me to shout I’m free, but in all reality I can’t explain. And the musical atheist would almost assuredly conclude that I’m out of my brain on the train, and he’d assert that nothing is planned by the sea and the sand, that there is no substitute for his/her rationality.(Quit before this gets too corny, hit submit, dial up Quadrophenia on the iPod …)

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 benjdm

    The language we use is symbolic of mystery and is not intended to be an explanation.Ah. Then, by my understanding, you’re an atheist. By most modern Christians’ understanding, you’re an atheist. You just want to label yourself something else – which you are free to do, of course.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10828225180668865911 Mystical Seeker

    I wonder how one can come to a conclusion about what most Christians understand as to whether any given person is a believer and or an atheist. Are polls taken on these questions? (“Excuse me, Madame, can I have a moment of your time? Can you tell me if James McGrath is a Christian?”) And when one asks a question of Christians as to who is a believer and who isn’t, does one include among the respondents the people who the Christians decide are not Christians? If not, then how do you know which Christians can be asked who is a Christian unless you first ask the question of who is a Christian so you will know that it will only be the Christians who you will be asking as to who is a Christian and who is not?Once we’ve sorted your way through the circular reasoning involved in that enterprise, I am also curious as to what percentage of negative responses are necessary in order for someone to be disqualified from being considered a believer. 51%? 67%? 75%? If we’re going to go around excluding people from Christianity and putting them in the atheist category, we should at least settle on the percent threshold necessary for formal excommunication from the faith.Also while we are at it, maybe we can also settle on the question of who is a Buddhist and who is not. I was listening to an NPR program the radio the other night, and a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism was talking about Buddhism and meditation in the same breath, as if they were both the same thing. It never even seemed to occur to him that you can be a Buddhist and not practice meditation. (The term “elite Buddhists” is sometimes used to describe Westerners who are attracted to Buddhism solely out of an interest in meditation. Yet the largest Buddhist group in Japan is the Jodo Shinsu variety of Buddhism, which does not practice meditation.)Trying to shoehorn religious people into our preconceived categories isn’t always easy, and sometimes the problem lies with the boundaries we create and the criteria we assign to those boundaries. If someone engages in cultic or ritual practices, if they pray, if they have a sense of the sacred or a sacramental outlook, if they use the terminology of a faith, if they engage themselves with an ultimate concern that they call God, if they involve themselves in the traditions of a faith, and if they identify themselves with that faith, I am inclined to believe them when they say they are part of that faith. Faith traditions are fluid, always evolving, and diverse, and frequently defy limited and exclusionary kinds of categorization.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    So who wants to be the one to set up the poll? If we do an internet poll on whether or not I’m a Christian, I’m sure we can settle this matter once and for all to everyone’s satisfaction.[NOTE: I tried to enclose the above in the HTML code < sarcasm > < /sarcasm > but apparently that isn't accepted in HTML. No wonder there's so much misunderstanding in online communication...]

  • http://nekouken.livejournal.com/ nekouken

    I’m largely indifferent to the content of your post — I was linked here by someone suggesting this would be an interesting discussion on whether belief or acceptance of naturalism can be justified (I feel misled) — but this bit stuck out as a drastic misrepresentation of both religion and science:No one suggests that science isn’t science because it doesn’t hold the same conclusions that science did a few hundred years ago. But Christians are berated by atheists as not really being Christians because they don’t hold precisely the beliefs Christians did almost two millenia ago. Am I the only one who can see the irony in this?I certainly hope that you are, because there is none. You are comparing apples and oranges here; scientific knowledge and Christian belief are two very different things. Science is a learning process, and its methodology virtually guarantees that mistakes will be made — because it’s performed by imperfect beings — and later corrected. The tenets of Christian belief, on the other hand, are static. Any Christian will tell you that the word of God is perfect and timeless. Even those who believe the Bible contains some poetry and the artistry in addition to revelation of incontrovertable facts about the nature of existence will tell you that. There’s not really any growth or change to be had, and the mistakes to be corrected tend not to be; even Christians who acknowledge that the world is a sphere and pi is not 3 don’t seem to be rushing to correct King James’s translators. You might believe those aren’t mistakes, but examples of poetry. Fine. But if the Bible is the perfect word of God, then those things always must have been poetry, and it’s clear that those who first lived by those words didn’t see it that way. What makes modern Christians so much smarter than early Christians, so much more able to discern literal truth from literary truth?Oh, right; I forgot: science.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10828225180668865911 Mystical Seeker

    The tenets of Christian belief, on the other hand, are static. Any Christian will tell you that the word of God is perfect and timeless.I am sorry that you have this impression, but that is just not true. “Any Christian” will tell you this? I think you are talking to the wrong Christians.It is true that there are many Christians do believe this; this is pretty much how fundamentalist Christianity views things. Many other Christians reject this viewpoint, which I would argue is fundamentally untenable anyway (any serious look at the early history of Christianity, not to mention the religion of the Old Testament, shows a continuing evolution of ideas of faith.)I think this illustrates the continuing problem, which is a lot of non-Christians get their impression about “Christianity” from the loud proclamations of fundamentalists, who claim the right for themselves to define the faith.The same goes with the comment that “if the Bible is the perfect word of God.” There is a lot of disagreement about the nature of the Bible, and lots of Christians certainly do not subscribe to the view that the Bible is the “perfect” word of God.

  • http://nekouken.livejournal.com/ nekouken

    Who are you talking about? Every Christian I’ve ever discussed this issue with has said some version of exactly that, from my fundamentalist evangelical cousin to my liberal Christian lab manager at work. How can you believe the Bible is the revealed word of God, the source of morality and all the other wonderful things that Christians claim it is without believing that it’s the perfect word of God?My lab manager scoffs at Christians who get uppity at the idea that pi doesn’t equal three, even though the Bible says it. His response to that is unsurprising, of course, because he’s worked in the field of metrology for almost twenty years and readily acknowledges that if you were to measure the circumference of a circle with the equipment they had back then, you’d get approximately three. He still says that the Bible is the best source of morality because it is God’s perfect word.What Christians are you talking about who don’t make that claim?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10828225180668865911 Mystical Seeker

    Every Christian I’ve ever discussed this issue with has said some version of exactly that,Then you are talking to the wrong Christians. Seriously. What Christians are you talking about who don’t make that claim?Christians at churches. Christians I meet at work. Christians on the internet. Not to mention all the Christians who I haven’t met but whose books I’ve read.I’m sorry that the only Christians you’ve met are fundamentalists who think that the Bible is without error, but they are not representative of all Christians by a long shot.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Let’s try anyone who is a Christian, isn’t a fundamentalist or conservative Evangelical, and is a Biblical scholar. Maybe Marcus Borg would be an accessible example to start with, but he is simply giving voice to the scholarly consensus.I suppose the problem is that many liberal Christians might be willing to use language such as “the Word of God” in connection with the Bible, but they don’t mean what a fundamentalist means, namely that God literally spoke audibly, dictated the Bible’s words, or controlled the words the Biblical authors wrote. Once again, we’re dealing with a metaphor, the meaning of which in plain language is that Christians experience themselves being addressed and challenged by God through these human writings. That experience may be the same, both for those who acknowledge the humanness of the writings and for those who deny it.

  • http://nekouken.livejournal.com/ nekouken

    Well, James has a much clearer grasp of what I’m saying and, it seems, what the Christians to whom I speak say. However, I have to disagree with both of you.I grew up in the United Church of Christ. Very liberal, arguably watered-down, decidedly not fundamentalist, and they still held the Bible up as “The Word of God.” It was perfectly fine to believe things that contradicted the Bible, but the Bible remains the perfect Word of God. Don’t ask me to explain how it makes sense that something can be perfect or of a perfect being when it has mistakes; that’s the position these people take — and, as I said, that’s fundamentalists all the way to the liberal moderate Christians who believe that, or at least use that language.So again I ask: How can you believe the Bible is the revealed word of God, the source of morality and all the other wonderful things that Christians claim it is without believing that it’s the perfect word of God? I may disagree with fundamentalists to the very core of my being, but they at least possess some manner of logical consistency — or at least they try to. How does a liberal Christian reconcile the Bible’s basis of authority (that it’s the product of a perfect God’s influence) with the errors, inconsistencies and championing of immoral behaviors held within? I’ve heard the “artistic license” argument, and I find it unsatisfying; “poetry” doesn’t really explain away the moral command that rape is only a crime if the rapist doesn’t marry his victim afterwards. “Artistic license” doesn’t really explain why it’s OK for Christian bankers to charge interest. “Primitive understanding of science” is inadequate explanation for the claim that rabbits chew cud. Even if they did, though, how does one tell what’s intended to be literal and what isn’t? The garden of Eden? The flood? Paint altering the genetic makeup of cows? If any of these are fables or tall tales, how can you trust that the important stuff isn’t?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10828225180668865911 Mystical Seeker

    I grew up in the United Church of Christ. Very liberal, arguably watered-down, decidedly not fundamentalist, and they still held the Bible up as “The Word of God.”I can’t comment on the church you grew up in since I know nothing about it. However, having attended a UCC church myself for a while in the last few years, I can tell you that, at least at the church I attended, the Bible was certainly not considered inerrant. The Bible was respected and honored, but it was recognized to be imperfect.As for the answers to your other questions, that is a whole other can of worms. Whether or not you agree with the progressive perspective is a different issue from whether there are large numbers of Christians who don’t take the Bible to be inerrant. Your comment about logical consistency is a viewpoint I used to have, but then I was brought up as a fundamentalist. At some point, I realized that there is a binary thinking that insists that the Bible must be either entirely inerrant and perfect or else it is worthless as a document and cannot be honored. But there is a middle ground that many Christians take. You don’t have to agree with it, but this point of view exists and many Christians, to varying degrees, are quite open to disagreeing with parts of the Bible.James recommended Marcus Borg to you; I would concur with that suggestion. His book “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time” provides a good introduction to a progressive interpretation of the Bible that is definitely not inerrant.

  • http://nekouken.livejournal.com/ nekouken

    I’m well aware that many Christians disagree with the Bible in one way or another — in practice, anyway; an increasing majority of them appear not to have read it, because they appear to have no idea that they do — but that’s not exactly my point. Like I said, the Bible wasn’t considered inerrant. It was, however, considered to possess authority on the basis of its perfect author. You’ve pointed me to an author you feel has an answer for that question, so I’ll look into it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Here’s a link to one of three articles on the United Church of Christ web page that relate to the Bible. I think you’ll find that the author is fairly clear that when he refers to the Bible as “the Word of God” (and in fact I think the phrase he uses is more nuanced, about “looking to the Word of God in Scripture”, rather than actually saying it is the Word of God), he is not claiming that God is the author, but that when one reads the Bible reverently, liturgically, and spiritually, its words “come alive” and challenge one. It is a case of “hearing God’s voice” through the Bible, not that the Bible is something other than human words written by human authors.For a well-informed liberal or progressive Christian, reading the Bible in this way is not at all about figuring out which parts of the Bible are authoritative and which are not (Borg is really helpful on this particular subject). It is about engaging the Bible in dialogue. Just as the authors of the New Testament engage the Jewish Bible but also come up with something new, the church down the ages has done the same (sometimes admitting the fact, other times trying to conceal it). The Bible’s authority cannot be based on it having a “divine author”. Its authority relates to it being our collection of the earliest Christian literature, closest to the person of Jesus in time and space, and its historic place in the church. But none of that means for progressive Christians that what we do today is based simply on what the Bible says. Indeed, down the ages most Christian denominations have developed their theology and practice through a dialogue between Scripture, reason and experience.Perhaps what it boils down to is the fact that ministers and theologians who continue to use the metaphor of “the Word of God”, even when they carefully articulate what they mean by it, are being misunderstood by at least some who hear them. And if so, perhaps that is something we ought to talk about here!

  • http://nekouken.livejournal.com/ nekouken

    Frankly, sir, you need to expand your influence. I don’t agree with you but I find your position eminently reasonable, and the facts of which I spoke earlier demonstrate to me that even Christians who feel the way you do about their faith have had their own perceptions distorted regarding the tenets of that faith by the overwhelming presence of fundamentalism in the mainstream. These are otherwise decent and reasonable people who are ashamed or perhaps afraid to approach their faith with that same decency and reason, and they need people like you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08068656771505900150 Nicolas

    What if god were just synonymous with being.orWhat if God were just synonymous with Being.

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