Beware of God

I presume that this sign is intentional and not a spelling error:

From This Isn't Happiness, HT Jeff Carter on Facebook

Gods were, and then later a single God was, thought to be capricious and terrifying in ancient times. The divine was thought to be, or later to be expressed through, what we today call forces of nature. Shaking ground, lightning bolts, tornados, all assumed to be expressions of divine wrath. People tried as they might to figure out what they could possibly have done to have incurred such wrath.

Today we know that earthquakes and storms do not single out sinners. They follow “laws” that do not result in entirely predictable occurrences, and so seemed to be like the caprices of persons, before we understood them as we now do.

In view of our modern understanding of the world, getting an attack god to protect one's home is not going to prevent break-ins, unless the would-be thieves are among those who fear God. But since fear of God ought to correlate with not stealing, it seems unlikely that there will be many deterred by the sign.

For some, the move away from anthropomorphizing the forces of nature is a move away from any sort of notion of the divine. But for others, it is a move towards a deeper appreciation of true transcendence, as we understand that the ultimate Reality that encompasses all we have come to see, detect, and comprehend is even greater and more different than us than most of our ancient predecessors envisaged.

 

  • arcseconds

    Hey, this article has 1253089264 Reactions! So approximately 3% of the pages indexed in Google have reacted to this, which is pretty good going given you only posted it a little while ago.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      It must be a glitch, since otherwise I would expect this to be my most visited page with a huge spike in traffic. Which would not be a bad thing… :-)

      • arcseconds

        A glitch? In Patheos or Disqus? No, sir, I won’t believe it!

        All the rest of your pages have similar levels of reactions, so I presume 3% of the web has suddenly started reacting to every post you’ve ever wrote — which may explain why you don’t notice this one as your most visited page :]

  • ngotts

    But for others, it is a move towards a deeper appreciation of true transcendence, as we understand that the ultimate Reality

    What do you mean by “transcendence” and “ultimate Reality”?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      The ultimate which can be named is not the ultimate (to paraphrase the famous line from the Tao Te Ching).

      • ngotts

        So, you don’t mean anything at all – they are just empty words. Why do you keep repeating them?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Are inadequate words therefore also empty words? Have you ever found that your words did not seem adequate for expressing something? Would you have said that those words were “empty”?

          • ngotts

            Inadequate words may or may not be empty. Since you have failed to give yours any content at all, they are empty.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              How can words be empty when they are pointing to the totality of Being? Such words are overflowing with more meaning than they can encompass, rather than empty of meaning.

              • ngotts

                If they had any content, you could tell me what it is, and it’s quite obvious you can’t, other than by repeating the same pretentious, hackneyed phrases, and giving words unnecessary upper-case initial letters. The way we refer to “the totality of Being” in English is “everything”.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  Then talk about everything, if you prefer. I suspect that you would find that there is need on many occasions to distinguish when you really mean everything as opposed to the more limited domains to which we nevertheless apply the term.

                  • ngotts

                    When you talk about the historical Jesus, or the origins of YEC-ism, you are interesting and informative. But unless you have something interesting and informative to say about everything/the ultimate Reality/the totality of Being – which clearly you don’t, or you would have done so by now – there’s no point talking about it. Why not leave it to those who have relevant expertise – which depending on what you mean by the term, would be cosmologists or philosophers (primarily ontologists and philosophers of mathematics)?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I don’t think that you’ll necessarily find the cosmologists and philosophers all line up on your side on this.

                      If you would prefer, simply interact with me about those things which words can do justice to. But saying “You have not pinned down the Ultimate with words” as though that were a criticism seems to me very odd indeed.

                    • ngotts

                      I’m not convinced there is anything “beyond words”, if we include mathematical formalisms. My criticism is that you simultaneously insist that “the Ultimate” is beyond words, and go on and on and on about it.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I don’t perceive myself to be “going on and on” other than when you extend these discussions on the topic. And I doubt that, just because words can be used to talk about love, beauty, and values, that when it comes down to it you really think that these are nothing but words, with nothing that either transcends language or is inadequately expressed by language. When a person gives their life for others, can words do justice to that? Can words do justice to the depths and heights of love?

                    • ngotts

                      It takes (at least) two to extend a discussion! Of course love, beauty and values (as opposed to “love”, “beauty” and “values”) are not words. We can say illuminating things about them, however, and while any finite collection of words will always leave something unexpressed (as is also true in relation to cats, corrosion and corpulence), it’s not clear that there is any aspect of them which cannot in principle be captured in words.


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