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Featured Assigning Human Qualities to God

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by SalixIncendium, Apr 24, 2021.

  1. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    Do you assign human qualities to God? Why?

    Is it not presumptuous to assume God thinks? Does God have a brain? Because last I checked, one needs a brain to think.

    God wants? Why do you assume God has desire?

    God gets angry? Anger is a product of ego. Why do you assume God has an ego?

    I could go on all day about statements I've heard where people assign such human qualities to God.

    Is it not plausible that God has none of these human qualities? Is it not possible that God just is?
     
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  2. Conscious thoughts

    Conscious thoughts Veteran Member

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    In my understanding yes God just is.
    But what God just is, that i can not explain
     
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  3. Gargovic Malkav

    Gargovic Malkav Active Member

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    Anthropomorphizing God can help to explain things that are difficult to describe in words. I myself am a human after all. If we were cats, I might have felinified(not sure that's even a word but you get what I mean right?) God.
     
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  4. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    What sorts of things?
     
  5. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    In fact we Christians think of Jesus as God.
    What He did...what He used to think.
    He used to have human qualities...after all.:)
     
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  6. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    Do you think he carried those human qualities with him past the death of his body and mind? If yes, why?
     
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  7. Gargovic Malkav

    Gargovic Malkav Active Member

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    I guess for me it means what I believe I need to do.
    In such a case I might say: "God wants me to do this."
    Or when I did something I'm convinced is wrong and fear I might get in trouble because of that I might say: "I did something that made God angry".
     
  8. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    @SalixIncendium

    The Christian church fathers interpreted the anthropomorphic language used for God in the Hebrew Bible (i.e. God's emotions like anger, joy, jealousy, regret or anatomical metaphors such as 'the mouth of YHWH', the heavens as the 'work of His fingers' etc.), as examples of 'divine condescension' i.e. that the Old Testament prophets were communicating truths about the immaterial, transcendent God in language that was comprehensible and relatable to humans:


    Origen (c. 185 - c. 254):


    “…When we read either in the Old Testament or in the New of the anger of God, we do not take such expressions literally, but seek in them a spiritual meaning, that we may think of God as He deserves to be thought of. And on these points, when expounding the verse in the second Psalm, ‘Then shall He speak to them in His anger, and trouble them in His fury,’ we showed, to the best of our poor ability, how such an expression ought to be understood…

    But as, in what follows, Celsus, not understanding that the language of Scripture regarding God is adapted to an anthropopathic point of view,
    ridicules those passages which speak of words of anger addressed to the ungodly, and of threatenings directed against sinners, we have to say that, as we ourselves, when talking with very young children, do not aim at exerting our own power of eloquence, but, adapting ourselves to the weakness of our charge, both say and do those things which may appear to us useful for the correction and improvement of the children as children, so the word of God appears to have dealt with the history, making the capacity of the hearers, and the benefit which they were to receive, the standard of the appropriateness of its announcements (regarding Him). And, generally, with regard to such a style of speaking about God, we find in the book of Deuteronomy the following: “The Lord thy God bare with your manners, as a man would bear with the manners of his son.”


    It is, as it were, assuming the manners of a man in order to secure the advantage of men that the Scripture makes use of such expressions; for it would not have been suitable to the condition of the multitude, that what God had to say to them should be spoken by Him in a manner more befitting the majesty of His own person
    .

    And yet he who is anxious to attain a true understanding of holy Scripture, will discover the spiritual truths which are spoken by it to those who are called “spiritual,” by comparing the meaning of what is addressed to those of weaker mind with what is announced to such as are of acuter understanding, both meanings being frequently found in the same passage by him who is capable of comprehending it.
    …”


    There was a very clear patristic consensus concerning the doctrine of 'divine aseity' and allegorical reading of the Old Testament anthropomorphisms.

    As such, we accept the validity of using such language but understand the reality of God in essence as being 'beyond' any of these human-like attributed qualities.

    The idea that God might have emotions - whether anger, joy, sadness, pleasure or whatever - is considered heresy in the mainstream churches, as it would contradict the doctrine of divine aseity and impassibility. Psychological change would undermine God's utter transcendence, immutability and dissimilarity to all created things. He is a timeless, omniscient, transcendent, supramundane being. Such an entity cannot possibly be subject to perturbation or variation or causal dependence upon his creatures, as transition from one transient feeling to another implies.

    Of course, in becoming incarnate as Jesus, we also believe that God has assumed a human nature which has all these things as natural to it but the divine and human natures are considered distinct yet perfectly united in the one person of Christ, unmixed, and so divine aseity still applies to the divine nature of Jesus.
     
    #8 Vouthon, Apr 24, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
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  9. Spiderman

    Spiderman Veteran Member

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    When I speak of God I speak in context of Scripture which is likely false in a lot of places
     
  10. Spiderman

    Spiderman Veteran Member

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    God as I know him is not totally omnipotent and his hands are tied in some areas and he isn't that bad.

    The God of the Bible is terrible with redeeming qualities
     
  11. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    Thank you for this.

    Do you think that the majority of those that believe in God are aware of this, or do you think the majority take the anthropomorphic language used in the Hebrew Bible literally?
     
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  12. Vouthon

    Vouthon Dominus Deus tuus ignis consumens est
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    It's a good question, and I'm not entirely sure of the answer myself.

    I think the majority of believers with a decent grasp of the Bible, are (hopefully) aware of some profound and irreconcilable contradictions in meaning between verses if we fail to see the anthropomorphic descriptions used in some passages as figurative.

    For example, Exodus 3:14 "God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”" (or 'I will be what I will be' or 'I am that is') is revealed in scripture as the pre-eminent divine name, the Tetragrammaton "YHWH" and it presents an understanding of the supreme being as the ground of being Itself, the One who just 'Is' and self-exists by reason of Himself as the active cause of being for everything that has come into existence by and from It/Him.

    This is coupled with statements in the later Nevi'im (prophets) such as: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says YHWH. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:8-9).

    In my opinion, most Jews and Christians down the centuries have intuited that if we are going to accept such unqualified expressions of divine ineffability, transcendence and uniqueness as the scripture invites us to do, then we have to interpret conflicting anthropomorphic language attributing human 'thoughts' and characteristics to YHWH (the God Who 'Is') in a less than literal fashion.

    However, the fact that Origen and the other church fathers had to contest mistaken interpretations of this language that were being used by pagan critics of Christianity, such as the Roman writer Celsus, to undermine its theological claims, perhaps suggests that there may have been Christians back then who did take such language in a literal fashion.
     
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  13. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    No.
     
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  14. Estro Felino

    Estro Felino Believer in free will
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    In my opinion...yes.
    Because He experienced the human condition so He learnt what it feels like.
     
  15. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    I'm not sure what it means to say that a thing "just is." Being, ie existence, is something we can only coherently talk about when applied to things with attributes we can describe. Existence without attributes becomes an essentially meaningless designation.

    What would be the difference, for example, between something that "just is" but has no attributes and something that...just isn't?
     
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  16. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I think this highlights some essential differences between paradigms, and sects. Personally, I do both. At some ultimate level, God just is. However, that can be difficult to relate to. Although I enjoy sitting in front of a Sivalingam (mark of God) and get a spiritual buzz from it, the idea remains rather abstract, and it isn't all that practical with regard to character development. You just sit there in bliss, and feel good. I see His function there as that of an eraser ... erasing 'stuff' from your head. You go with a problem, and walk away not even remembering you had a problem. Such is that Power.

    Nataraja is anthropomorphic ... sort of. He's got a body, a head, 4 arms, holds a drum, can move, etc. but he represents God's movement, his functioning, and not his Quiet, or His Stillness, as in the Lingam. But Nataraja is really different from the humanoid Puranic Shiva, who is married, has kids, gets into fights with his wife, etc. That version of Shiva, I have difficulty relating to, despite it being one of the more common ones.
     
    #16 Vinayaka, Apr 24, 2021
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
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  17. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    God as God-man (Avatar/Christ): Yes in the sense that we can interact with such a figure and experience certain qualities to such a one.

    God in the beyond and beyond the beyond: God just is.
     
  18. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    Being.
     
  19. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    As I see it, all humans are "God-[people]." Most are just ignorant of this.
     
  20. Left Coast

    Left Coast Circular File Complaint Analyst
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    What does that mean?
     
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