Hi.  This is Layman Pascal.  I was just tinkering with my Christmas Wiki entry on the Modern God and realized that it might be interesting content for general post-metaphysical discussion.  Although it deals only with religion at the level of modern ("orange") consciousness it can still clarify a lot about the overall situation of religious awareness at post-mythic stages of development.  Enjoy...

The Modern God:

Any concepts or intuitions of Deity which is appropriate to the Modern/Rational cultural operating system.

The Modern God is primarily characterized by (a) natural order (b) absence.  

A normal response to the Modern Deity embraces all humanity (all individuals) within a sacred attempt to rationally improve inner and outer world-conditions while periodically submitting to Cosmic Wonder.  Any form of religion exhibiting these elements should be considered as Modern.  And anyone embracing these must be considered as an active participant in modern-level religion. 

It is common (but also quite superficial and premature) to view the Spirit of Modernity in opposition to the notion of God.  This is most likely the historical result of an  over-attachment to the concept of the Mythological God which persist within the struggle to free ourselves from ethnocentric dogmatism.  It is also has roots in the failure of many Modernists to acknowledge their particular style of religious and to produce many conscious "priests" or "consecrators" responsible for specifying that God must meet Modern Rational standards.  

The Problem of Post-Mythic Religion

A developmental model of history and psychology observes several stages of adaptation beyond mythic-membership consciousness -- which is common to traditionalist, dogmatic & believer-patriotism society.  More complex cultural operating systems are typically referred to as Rational (modern), Pluralistic, Wholistic & Transpersonal.  And while it is not unusual to encounter people whose values and cognitive capacity are rational, pluralistic or higher, the general impression of Religion still remains locked into its mythic definition.  

One notable element of this problem is the widespread difficulty in the "developed world" of engaging in profoundly sane and transformative relationship with Ultimate Reality in the 2nd Person (i.e. as a Divine Other).  This continues to strike many modernists as an inherently dangerous relic of mythic nationalism.  Even many spiritual practitioners feel that this has no place in higher forms of consciousness.  

A general (but obviously not total) developmental arrest of the Concept of Religion & the Relationship-to-God confronts us.  Religion remains largely stuck, in the popular consciousness, among groups of mythological claimants and seems unable to make a widespread transition into the good conscience of the modern world.  Although this is changing.  Such changes require a basic shift in our sense of God and Religion such that they can be understand as viable elements of Modernity and not merely the inheritance of mythic orthodoxy.

The 4 Limbs of Modernist Religion 

We may say that there are four main Modernist "religious perspectives".  These are: Deism, Atheism, Agnosticism & Aprolepticism. Once we have understood that these are forms of Religion (i.e. that none of them, regardless of their attitude toward mythic religiosity, constitutes an anti-religious stance) then we are empowered to inspect the basic religious characteristics of Modernity.

This general platform of religion became common in the 19th century but is not unique to the world formed by print literacy & international industry.  In fact rational religious agents were central players in the history of faith from the Axial Age onward.  There are many ways of describing and intuiting the rational, natural and absence-like power of the Chief Deity.  Buddhists frequently discussed An-Atman (the non-present Great Spirit).  Egyptian priests spoke of Osiris being vacant from his throne -- wandering unseen in the underworld.  And Christianity has long been characterized by the motif of "God's Death" and the rolling away of the stone to reveal that Christ's tomb is mysteriously empty.

Such images feed into and describe a general layer of religion. It can be seen occurring almost interchangeably within the following common forms: 

Deism

Deity is the Unseen Source of Rational Natural Order.  The Name of God is -- the Universe.  Both Pantheism (God IS Nature) and Divine Reason may be placed here.  Hegel & certain Ancient Greeks proposed that the "Nous" (Rational Spirit) is the God who progressively orders human History and brings patterns to light.  It is a science-friendly, progressive & Wonder-ful Spirit.

Atheism

There is Natural Order but Deity appears non-existent.  The Name of God is "No God" or "Chance & Progress". 

Agnosticism

God is an Unknown Fact -- an uncertainty. The Name of God is "I don't Know" which leaves us facing the apparent Natural Order with a wonder-like embrace.

Aprolepticism

God is not the kind of thing which can be rationally asked about.  The Name of God is: "It makes no sense to ask".  The observed natural order of the universe and the rational mind is such that propositions about God, positive or negative, invoke that which cannot appear.

To clarify the modernity-appropriate forms and concept of Religion we must clarify and emotionally affirm the common elements of all these "modern, rational, individual" attitudes.

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Hi, Layman, I appreciate the way you've approached this.  One other modern approach, suggested by Bultmann, is that the word "God" points to Reality experienced as that which exceeds us, limits us, compels us, calls us, confounds us, destroys us -- as the "unavoidable power" with which we must contend in our daily living.  He says we might also call this power, fate, the enigma, or even the devil, since it is often experienced in/through frustration and limitation.  But he says calling this power "God," relating to reality personally, instead, is how we have learned to inspire a relationship of faith and reliance (akin to Morin's re-ligion as re-liance) with the mysterious, powerful reality which 'rounds' our lives.  This is perhaps a variant of Deism, or a cousin to it, but it avoids equating God with "nature" and also doesn't shy away from personal language or personalized relations (Thou-Religion) the way many deist or pantheist approaches often do.  And it doesn't

Here's an essay summarizing the approach.  (Right click it and select "rotate clockwise" to view it correctly).

 

Layman is powerless when it comes to his addiction to Facebook!

FWIW- all 4 limbs are good in my book:) And for the record, I am not hostile to religion per se; just hostile to what is false and divisive.

Two other categories to consider:

Panentheism

God is in everything (like pantheism), but everything does not hold the totality of God, there is More. God is eternally becoming as part of the universe in process. As held by Whitehead, Hartshorne, and Matthew Fox.

Finite Godism

A being of great, but limited power, as J.S. Mill put it. Related to panentheism, but without the dipolar aspect of process philosophy. View held also by Bergson, James, and Wieman. I don't think they ever used the title "Finite Godism," this is a tag put on them by a couple of evangelical theologians, as far as I can tell (Geisler and Watkins).

Hey David,

I think Panentheism is more characteristic of higher-order / second tier religiosity -- it is not typical of the modern/rationalist phase since it is involves an intimate splicing and apparent paradox.  

Finite Godism is characteristic, in general, of pre-modern religion.  All the so-called pagan deities, including most of the presentations of Amber religion, view their chief deity as a Vast Daemon of some kind.  However the sort of presentation of this theme which appears in Phillip K Dick's VALIS presents a postmodern variant.  Still, the non-appearance of the Great Being in finite form coupled with the awakening to the concept of the Infinite are held to be characteristics of the emergent rational enlightenment.  



DavidM58 said:

Two other categories to consider:

Panentheism

God is in everything (like pantheism), but everything does not hold the totality of God, there is More. God is eternally becoming as part of the universe in process. As held by Whitehead, Hartshorne, and Matthew Fox.

Finite Godism

A being of great, but limited power, as J.S. Mill put it. Related to panentheism, but without the dipolar aspect of process philosophy. View held also by Bergson, James, and Wieman. I don't think they ever used the title "Finite Godism," this is a tag put on them by a couple of evangelical theologians, as far as I can tell (Geisler and Watkins).

Hi Layman - I like this plurality of possible meanings in talking about a modern god. I begin to locate myself across, among and within these descriptions.

I surf with a man who teaches at loyola marymount university as a dr of theology. When he has asked me how I see things or what I believe or if I am an atheist, I came up with, accompanied by a wry smile, "I am a 'quasitheist'." Almost a theist, in the neighborhood of a theist. Your and Bruce's about Marshall's re Bultmann all probably allow myself to speak in the future more understandably.

Btw, how/where do you come up with "aprolepticism" to name what you are saying in this regard?

Hi Bruce - I liked this article. It is as close to any christian writing, maybe writing at all to support how I locate myself in relation to the word God and Christianity. It seems that I get quite sketchy at the faith trust part, but some integrations are almost certainly underway that begin to allow me to accept the felt-unacceptable.

I thought of my common efforts to live in this "reality" that in a sense is All, and a recent creativish piece I wrote on ILC. Without the faith and trust it certainly feels more difficult for me to accept and include somethings, than it might feel to Marshall or Christians who have the God/faith/trust superglue, yet this feels like a mildly distant kinship with the view mentioned in your article. I hope you can see the connection in my idiosyncratic story.

"The Life And Death Of Sam

Sam was feeling old as he limped out of bed and across the small hardwood floor to the bathroom in the wee hours.

Sam was wondering if he would go and paddle out this dawn, a day before the first procedure.

His mind lately had been more of a wild mix of creative activity, worry, insight, and half-hearted attempts at acceptance of the seemingly unacceptable. His deeper strategy of response, which may not have been a strategy but simply following the capricious path, was to continue to bang, plow, and incise through intrusions of the unacceptable.

The unacceptable was that he was going to die. In a recurring and undulating strata of self he mostly knew that to die is not optional, it has nothing to do with acceptance, it happens.

Sam was not a tidy philosopher, nor was he a person who was buoyed by a glow of spiritual benevolence, yet he sort of knew some things. Knowing some things did not help much with the visits to disheartenment. Not surfing much lately because of pain and fear of further damage detoured him from his usual and primary source of uplift and homeostases. He had been diverted from deep swallows of joy-juice. Maybe, it seemed, from ordinary human hope. His hope and faith must be thin indeed.

With the procedures that were to begin tomorrow Sam expected that he could and would be back in the water more regularly. After two months of healing and tissue regrowth he would again feel the splashy envelopment of ocean water, the dynamics of cold and fresh meets core temp and insulation, the push, glide, and ride of wave-power.

Increasingly lately, Sam thought of inevitable loss, dying, and death and the reverberations of those through his emotional and existentially orienting bodies. So much taken away from a brittle grip, so much letting go strobed undeniably on the horizon. His varied thoughts sometimes scared the bejesus out of him. Not that there appeared to be much bejesus or bebuddha or begoddedness speaking to him from within or without.

So, he mused, this seems to be part of my story that snakes and surges errantly through me. And, I'm gonna die.

Sam also had an almost invisible, almost unacknowledgable curiosity about what lay ahead in ultimately leaving this life and in how his ongoing livingness would counteract his dyingness that he knew was greatly exaggerated by his styles of personality. Well, he also sometimes realized he didn’t actually know “his styles” of personality, because in the thrum and mix of these intrusions into everyday order and free-float, these autumn leaves of style were in the wind.

Sam could be maudlin, dreadfully interior, and almost Edgar Allen Poeish.

He did his inner sheesh, and his inner hah, surfaced, sat briefly within his decompression-chamber, bent over his keyboard and wrote the letter:

 

Hi Marc - I hope and trust you are well.

You said you would like to hear follow-up on my left hip so I share the results of my consult and MRI.

I went to Health Link Medical Center in Oceanside CA for a consult with Dr Cohen who used an ultrasound imager during the visit. He then sent me to get an MRI. Below I paste in his bio. I chose to go to this clinic because they are a licensee and affiliate of Regenexx that has developed and uses in practice Prolo therapy, stem cell, and platelet therapies to heal damaged tissue structures. I am a candidate for those for my hip. I'm electing to have the treatment. The assessment you did and that we explored was confirmed as being consistent with my pain deep in the hip joint as well as by hard palpation at the hip flexion point where gluteus medius and minimus attach.

On ultrasound he noticed at that attachment point a chronic inflamation, and possibly a tear in the labrum. These were confirmed by MRI. There was no Avascular Necrosis as had been suggested as a possibility by Xrays. There was moderate cartilage loss superiorly and anteriosuperiorly and extensive degenerative tearing of the superior and anterosuperior labrum.

In a nutshell, his treatment will address this damage as well as the chronic tendonous inflamation of gluteals. Also one site of chronic inflamation was discovered by MRI on the hamstring origin at ischial tuberosity - this matched up with symptoms I have had there. There will be three treatments done over a week, then two weeks without weight-bearing and two months without hard physical challenges. I will check with them about recommendations for post-physical therapy, and my guess is that there will be benefit to resuming my treatments with new but related goals. I will let you know and see if that would be convenient for you.

Check out the regenexx.com web site from Colorado if you are further interested in seeing testimonials and having more information. For the oceanside clinic you can click on healthlinkcenter.com .

Again, I appreciate the sensitive information gathering and assessment, and the care you and your clinic showed me. Warm regards, s

Ronald S. Cohen, M.D., is a board certified specialist in Sports Medicine. For the past 11 years, Dr. Cohen has been contracted by the Department of Defense to manage and direct the sports medicine program for all of the Marine Corps recruits in the western United States as well as serve as a special consultant for the Navy SEALs. He has had extensive experience and training in managing difficult injuries and chronic conditions and is excited to be able to provide the Advanced Regenexx Procedures to patients at our center. Dr. Cohen has had a distinguished career in medicine and has been recognized by his peers as an outstanding clinician winning several distinguished awards, including the prestigious Master Clinician award and an associate clinical professor at UCSD.  Dr. Cohen is a dedicated physician and passionate family man who is also an avid golfer, fisherman and triathlete."



Balder said:

Hi, Layman, I appreciate the way you've approached this.  One other modern approach, suggested by Bultmann, is that the word "God" points to Reality experienced as that which exceeds us, limits us, compels us, calls us, confounds us, destroys us -- as the "unavoidable power" with which we must contend in our daily living.  He says we might also call this power, fate, the enigma, or even the devil, since it is often experienced in/through frustration and limitation.  But he says calling this power "God," relating to reality personally, instead, is how we have learned to inspire a relationship of faith and reliance (akin to Morin's re-ligion as re-liance) with the mysterious, powerful reality which 'rounds' our lives.  This is perhaps a variant of Deism, or a cousin to it, but it avoids equating God with "nature" and also doesn't shy away from personal language or personalized relations (Thou-Religion) the way many deist or pantheist approaches often do.  And it doesn't

Here's an essay summarizing the approach.  (Right click it and select "rotate clockwise" to view it correctly).

 

Hi Ambo,

Aprolepticism in the Christmas Wiki.

As a 'quasitheist" you sound closer to my (still in progress) definition of the Postmodern God.  The form of deity in which almost and "as if" are implicit to Divinity. 

Well, daah - check in the christmas wiki, not webster.

Yes, post-modern probably fits well. yet I feel plenty of charge and some ambivalent attachments to each of your modern possibilities. Maybe the ambivalences are signing a postmodern inclusion.

You can't be (at least) postmodern without enfolding modernity!  Otherwise it is bogus.  But at "modern" the ambivalence seems like a challenge or alternative to faith.  At postmodern it progressively seems like the ambivalence is... essential.

It depends on what's transcended and replaced or included. Even the Lingam knows that.

Transcend & Replace -- great title for a book of affirmative critiques of standard versions of integral metatheory.

I like that - yeah.

Layman Pascal said:

You can't be (at least) postmodern without enfolding modernity!  Otherwise it is bogus.  But at "modern" the ambivalence seems like a challenge or alternative to faith.  At postmodern it progressively seems like the ambivalence is... essential.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

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