Wednesday, November 30, 2005

God as Metaphor

In the past I have flirted with the idea of interpreting the concept of God as a metaphor for existence in totality. The obvious advantage of this is that unlike other concepts of God, this God obviously exists without question.

The problem with it, however, is that it really doesn't explain anything. Everyone knows existence exists, it's impossible to deny. So there is no reason to affirm or to deny it. It just doesn't add any new information

Another disadvantage of it is that this definition of God is not what most people refer to when they refer to God, so it actually confuses things rather than clear things up as a good definition should.

The reason, I think, why some non-believers in traditional religious God will choose to define God as Existence is because it allows them to not define themselves as atheists, which is still a little taboo in the USA. I prefer the term non-theist if I need to identify my metaphysical beliefs, because it asserts that I don't believe in the traditional religious God, but it doesn't have the materialistic connotation as the term atheist has


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, this is what i posted as an answer to your point here
What is to be gained by calling existence God?
Good point, it could be because I honestly think that once one dissects what one essentialy means when saying God it will be extremely close to meaning existence.
And this type of God is as factualy true as existence (being that they are one and the same.
So it may well be that to belabor the issue of God's 'provability' while not willing to delve into the issue of defining God first, is tackling it in the wrong order.

To the primitive man everything pulls to one another by an external spirit, the modern man doesn't add any mystical spirit, he just identifies the force and names it [gravity, in this case] but to lose sight of this force because it was conceptualized in a primitive format is not being intellectualy sound

12:03 AM  
Anonymous smoo said...

There is a Christian Gnostic text that says (paraphrased-) the problem with YKWH(God) is he forgot he was a metaphor!

2:30 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...


sounds interesting. You wouldn't have a source, would you?

3:14 PM  
Anonymous smoo said...

I read this idea in the Power of Myth page 76. Joseph Campbell describes the text as God saying "I am God" and a voice responds "You are mistaken, Sama-el (blind god)" Yet the source is not cited so that's the extent of it for now (I'll try some google searches)

3:11 PM  
Anonymous smoo said...

research yields: "One problem with Yahweh, as they used to say in the old Christian Gnostic texts, is that he forgot he was a metaphor. He thought he was a fact. And when he said, "I am God," a voice was heard to say, "You are mistaken, Samael." "Samael" means "blind god": blind to the infinite Light of which he is a local historical manifestation. This is known as the blasphemy of Jehovah - that he thought he was God."
(Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, p.76, pub. A.D.1988)

The source is quoted below but I don't exactly see how J.C. (Campbell!) expounds this to mean YKWH (God) is a metaphor)....

Hypostasis of The Archons

And the spirit-endowed Woman came to Adam and spoke with him, saying, "Arise, Adam." And when he saw her, he said, "It is you who have given me life; you shall be called "Mother of the living" - for it is she who is my mother. It is she who is the Physician, and the Woman, and She Who Has Given Birth.'...The Female Spiritual Principle came in the Snake, the Instructor, and it taught them, saying, " shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said this to you. Rather, your eyes shall open, and you shall open, and you shall become like gods, recognizing evil and good."...And the arrogant ruler cursed the Woman...[and] ...the Snake.

Both the mother (Wisdom) and her daughter (Life) objected when, in the creator's vain claim to hold an exclusive monopoly on divine power, he became arrogant, saying, "It is I who am God, and there is no other apart from me."...And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, "You are wrong, Samael" [which means, "god of the blind"]. And he said, "If any other thing exists before me, let it appear to me!" And immediately, Sophia (Wisdom) stretched forth her finger, and introduced light into matter, and she followed it down into the region of Chaos...And he again said to his offspring, "It is I who am the God of All." And Life, the daughter of Wisdom, cried out; she said to him, "You are wrong, Saklas!"

The gnostic teacher Justinus describes the Lord's shock, terror, and anxiety "when he discovered that he was not the God of the universe." Gradually his shock gave way to wonder, and finally he came to welcome what Wisdom had taught him. The teacher concludes: "This is the meaning of the saying, ' The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom.'

3:50 PM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>The source is quoted below but I don't exactly see how J.C. (Campbell!) expounds this to mean YKWH (God) is a metaphor)....

I agree with you, smoo. It just sounds like the regular gnostic belief that YHWH is not the real God, but a pretender to the throne.

Thanks for the research

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Allen said...

Why is it so important for anyone to define god at all ? I am challenged to understand what Spinoza's definition really means to me or if it even makes sense to me at all.

In the end, I must say that I do not know what god really is. I beleive god is not an old man who judges us and punishes us leveraging a book that appeared on this planet with no validation from god himself. I beleive Spinoza's arguement (while I may not follow it details in full) that it makes sense for us to do "good". BUT.. why is it so troubling to so many people that we can not ddefine god in simple terms.. He, she, it, afterall is GOD !!! Who are we to claim to know God ?

3:06 PM  

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