Re: virus: Faith (consolidation)

John \ (
Fri, 30 May 1997 18:04:37 -0400

Reed Konsler enters the fray:
>1) A being with greater power than humans.
>2) A being with non-trivial influence over nature.
>3) A being that influences human activity through his/her actions.
>4) A being who has either personally, or through his or her lineage,
>created the universe or imposed order upon it.

>Please be more precise in criteria 1) , do you mean:
> A being with greater power than...
> ...the average human.
> ...any existing human.
> ...any thing concievable as "human" past, present or future.
> ...the sum of all human power and understanding.
> ...the sum of all human power and understanding and
> anything and everything that might arise from it in
> the future.
> ...the sum of everything all humans will ever imagine.

I think that many religions would choose a different one of each of these.
Fundamentalists of practically any monotheistic religion would say "the sum
of all human power and understanding and anything and everything that might
arise from it in the future." Some heretical variations of Christianity
suggests that humans may achieve Godhood eventually, so the "greater power
than humans" status for Diety would be temporary.

I would be inclined to choose "the sum of all human power and
understanding," since again, that leaves it open to the greater majority of
religions; again, recognizing that some humans occasionally demonstrated
themselves to be more powerful than deity in Greek/Roman mythology -- and
possibly others. The power relationship between human and Diety is one of
the major fracture points in religion, so it's the most difficult to pin

>How does one define God as seperate from "the Universe", which
>I believe meets all the critera (regardless of the details of 1).
>I think you must be implying that this entity has intentionallity
>or will (hence you refer to it as a "being")

I think the Intentionality issue is a fair seperator. There is also the
question of Diety's relationship to the Universe; to wit, is it a natural
part of the universe (Whitehead), *the* Universe (Animism, Hinduism, many
Native American myths), or the creator of, and therefore seperate from, the

Personally, I lean a little more to Whitehead, with shades of Animism. But
I've tried to keep the definition general enough that it encompases most
other concepts of God in religions I'm aware of.

>You might also want to think about what you mean when you use the
> words "power" and "influence", since all 4 criteria seem to have
> this aspect in common.

Power is ability; "influence" is a particular kind ability. I'm thinking
here of the difference between direct coersion and gentle persuasion.


John Williams
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