Quantum Strangeness Structurally Explained The God of Immanence


The God of Immanence

Part 3 of 4 posts

Since the divinity aspect of structured existence is wide open at this point, I’d like to say a few words concerning God, and then let a dialogue that I wrote a while back say the rest. The dialogue is something I had hoped would happen (no such luck) between Mike (an old schoolyard friend of mine) and I when we were bicycling the Canadian Maritime Provinces. The Affirmative Ideal is what allows people to believe in God; that is, they believe because they can! God certainly exists in affirmation, but God also exists in the flesh, yours, mine, and all the rest of humanity. God exists in all the rest of nature too, but God is made self-aware in self-consciousness. Think about that; the more you do the more the barriers between God and self-consciousness fall away. It’s not an unpleasant experience.

In Every Human Being God Pulses–The Depth And Center Of All There Is

“Okay,” I said, “but what I’m about to say is not exactly user friendly. It’s about a different kind of God, one that, as far as I can tell, nobody is familiar with.”

“Well, does God have foreknowledge or not?” Mike responded.

“He knows everything that is known,” I said. “It’s hard to describe, but He knows it all without foreknowledge.”

“You’ve got my attention now,” Mike replied, “How exactly does He pull that off?”

“It’s in his freedom,” I said. “In nature, life, and culture we find God’s ‘self-expression’, and that–is an affirmation of God and God’s freedom.”

“Oh, this ought to be good,” replied Mike, “what kind of image is that? Is He still the old man on high, divine worker of miracles, dispenser of rewards and punishments, or am I missing something?”

“That image is a bit outdated, wouldn’t you say?” I said.

“Well is He limited by time or not? replied Mike.”

“No,” I said.

“Is He omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient?”

“Yes to all three,” I replied.

“Well, I rest my case. It’s the same-o, same-o,” Mike responded. “We humans are bound by law and limited by death. We don’t like it, so we imagine a God without limits. We get sick, but God does not. We are caught in space and time—not God. We face horrendous hardships and suffering—not God. Both Freud, and Feuerbach before him, had it right; god is a product of our own desires because, as cripples, we need a crutch. We need god, but he remains forever out of reach. Religion was born out of that need. God is our security blanket. In reality God is based in false hopes and promises, and exists only in our dreams.”

“There’s more to the story than that,” I responded. “The theologian, Paul Tillich, had a different idea. In fact, he believed the image of a superhuman God should be replaced by a more internalized ‘depth image.’ Instead of believing in an external God, he chose to believe in a God that was the ground of all that is. God, for him, became ‘infinite center,’ a ‘presence,’ a feeling, a reality, an opening to all sacredness and divinity. That’s kind of what I’m talking about when I talk about God, but I came to that image in my own way. And, by the way, as far as gender is concerned, God doesn’t have any.”

“That sound’s a bit pantheistic to me,” Mike responded. “So who or what is this god?”

“Pantheism is part of it, but there’s more,” I said. “I have always been attracted to those images of deity that identify God with nature. Spinoza, Lao Tsu, Whitman, Black Elk, all those guys believed nature to be sacred. God is nature, but nature is also an expression of God’s freedom, and further, God’s freedom is something ‘other’ than God. It is God when God is ‘not being God’–God’s own non-being. I know that sounds strange, but I can’t help it. That’s the way it is.”

“Sure,” Mike responded, “cut to the chase why don’t you, and we’ll see just how strange that idea really is.”

“I’m getting there,” I said. “All nature is a ‘way’ of non-being. And, this non-being is peculiar in that it is not a singular thing. It is dualistic in character, and takes the form of a double negation. In this double negative we find God as affirmation. We find God as freedom, and we find God as environment. Just as a receptacle is defined by empty space, non-being defines God. God, in the form of the ‘other’, is both God and freedom, and through reasoned analysis we can derive the meaning and significance of God. In fact, both freedom and reason, on some level, are present in all non-being, all nature.”

“That’s the chase,” Mike replied. “That’s it?”

“I told you, my god is not user friendly,” I said. “Freedom exists at every level of nature. It also goes through changes, and these changes represent freedom at more complex levels. After a sufficient level of complexity, freedom becomes less restricted. When it experiences its own double-negatives in the space of higher negation, it becomes alive. In that sense, freedom is always ‘stretching itself’ and ‘reaching out’ for more freedom. At a sufficient level of complexity, inorganic nature becomes organic, and freedom becomes freer. At death, nature’s double negation must be conserved, so higher expressions of freedom dissolve into less free states, and, ultimately, into God because God is affirmed in double negation—in being non-being. This is my religion. This is what I believe. God is not separate from nature, life, and/or culture. That’s how I understand the meaning and significance of God.”

“What has culture to do with anything?” Mike said. “Its just part of life. Hell, social insects have culture!”

“True,” I replied, “but they do not bring self-consciousness to culture; consequently, they are not free to expand that culture into self-determined orders of complexity. Only humans can do that. Humans are free in a way other animals are not.”

“That’s bullshit,” Mike said. “Culture keeps us alive. It’s the same with insects. It’s a matter of degree, not kind, and the same goes for what you call freedom.”

“Suit yourself,” I replied, “but at least hear me out. According to the way I perceive God, human culture is a product of God’s freedom. In culture, God acts out the self-aware expression of freedom. This higher-level experience is two levels removed from God’s least free expression. This freedom brings with it an ‘empty box,’ a box of negation—a box attached to consciousness. Other animals are boxless. Consciousnesses–self-consciousness—uses this box to see what’s not, and ask ‘why?’ With the good comes the bad, however. This box also permits ruthless people to value greed over knowledge, violence over peace, and vengeance over beauty. Without this box, though, agreements for the purpose of securing peace and preserving beauty would not be possible. Judgments would not be possible. Self-expression would not be possible. The history of civilization would not be possible. In fact, the history of civilization is the history of this box, the history that records the struggles for liberty and the freedom to overcome that which prohibits liberty. When we seek the origin of freedom, we end up in religion.”

“You think religion can save the world!” responded Mike. You think if only people believed as you do, they would act differently? How ignorant! How pretentious! Who is shortsighted and stubborn now?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Actually, I try not to think of it in those terms. It’s too scary. After searching all these years, it’s enough for me to have a security blanket that works for me.”

“You deserve an ‘at-a-boy’ for that,” Mike replied. “Everybody’s entitled to their beliefs; that is, as long their beliefs do not deny the beliefs of others. Even if you wanted to change the world, in my opinion, you couldn’t, not with what I just heard. The truth is I don’t understand a thing you just said. But, if it’s any consolation, I did enjoy hearing it. I don’t know why. How about another beer?”

“Sounds like a winner,” I replied, “but indulge me for just a little bit longer. I will be specific.”

“If you must,” Mike replied, “Waitress, two more beers pa’ lease.”

“First, God is the inescapable depth and center of all there is. The immanence of God is what I call freedom and this immanence is present as nature. When freedom achieves self-consciousness it is able to name and create truth and beauty. In fact, it calls us forward into life, love, and wholeness. The biblical Jesus was, most likely, so completely transformed by his awareness of the divine that his thoughts, words, and deeds were recognized as divine. Not surprisingly, the gospel writers saw him as the Son of God, and translated his story into the Passion Play that it was, — it is. My religion has nothing to do with ‘revealed truths,’ and it is not about heavenly rewards or punishments. Rather, it is simply a way to perceive and process the God experience, the experience that pulses in every human being. As far as proselytizing goes, all I want to do is open people’s minds to the idea that ‘terra firma’ is hallowed ground. I mean that both literally and figuratively. In our relationship with others we share that ground, and that ground becomes sacred or profane depending on how it is shared. That is what I believe, and that is really the end. Now I’m finished.”

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