Wednesday, August 31, 2016

12 - Theists

God is dead.  - Nietzsche  Nietzsche is dead.  - God
In this post:

There are many different types of theism.

Of the many different types of "god concept"
that of the scriptural God is probably
the most common.

It's time to re-evaluate the scriptural God.
is one whose belief system is logically irrational. I believe that all fundamentalism falls into this class. An example of an irrational theist is the individual who posits that the solar system was created less than 6,000 years ago in only six days, despite the fact that scientists have discovered rocks billions of years old. The hallmark of the irrational theist is the belief that his/her religion contains all truth and any input contradicting it is, de facto, false.

A non-rational theist is one who feels that the hypothesis “God exists” is neither provable nor falsifiable and hence is a matter of faith, rather than science. (In order for the scientific method to be applied in a meaningful way, the hypothesis being tested must be provable and falsifiable. If this is not the case, the hypothesis is not a matter of science.) Comment 1 in Post #6 is an example of a theist who thinks this way. That commenter recognizes that science and belief exist as two occasionally overlapping realities. This is an excellent way to cope with the overlap, or to deal with information that is doubtful, but it removes theism from the realm of rational discussion, which is not something I intend to do.

As we have seen above, we can have a wide variety of gods, but when most theists or, for that matter, most atheists, refer to God, they usually have in mind one of two types of god.

The scriptural God is the God most often referred to, since this is the God that most people grew up with. I call this concept the “pre-third millennial God.” This is also the God of the monotheistic religions. Although the image of this God varies somewhat between religions, particularly between Eastern and Western religions, its main characteristics are that God is good, powerful, personal, all-knowing and involved in the affairs of mankind.

The universal god (what I call yotzer) is the god that created the entire Universe. This is the god that the scientific theist identifies as the agent that created the Universe and the physical laws that govern it.

The scriptural God has been invented many times over by human beings. It is a concept that has allowed our species to progress by providing divine authority for standards of behaviour and rules for working with one another. However, it is quite possible that we no longer need this concept. Does anyone still believe that an individual who is secular or atheist is automatically less moral or contributes less to the wellbeing of the community? Does anyone really believe that if we pray hard enough and sincerely enough, we get what we pray for? Does anyone really believe that evil people get punished by a divine judge? There are too many flaws in the original concept of the relationship between humans and God. The third millennium provides us with an opportunity to grow our god concept from the scriptural God of the planet earth to the universal god yotzer. The only thing missing is the collaboration of science and religion.


  1. Interesting summary. I suggest, as further reading, this:
    Art, why don't you give us a personal essay on the difference between belief and religion? I.e., your very personal take on it. It could be interesting.

  2. Your analysis of the various categories of Theism is interesting & quite thorough. I happen to read with interest your definitions. I believe that there is a total division between Science or the choice of Faith. As you stated that Science relies on provability which so far is beyond anything but conjecture & while interesting it is still not proven ( I have a few thoughts on this (i.e. other dimensions beyond our three & infinity as we know it. A topic for another day!). Possibly they(Scientists) could be in a pursuit of the creation of the Universe but does not prove the existence/non existence of God. Perhaps this a challenge by God which intentionally will never be proven by humankind. Maybe this is a challenge by God to test our Faith in whatever our beliefs on what Scripture, writings or traditions are. Further, regardless of one's beliefs, God has given humankind a choice to believe or not to believe, the words of the above,the choice between good & evil, rewards(in forgiveness) or the choice of rejection.
    What I question is why is there such cynicism & the quest for proof whether it be religion or science of who is right or wrong. I suppose it comes down to individual choice but I believe in my Faith & practicing to the best of my ability while acknowledging others which may have their own their viewpoints.



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