The Personalist Project

Comments (11)

Jules van Schaijik

#1, Jan 10, 2012 7:17pm

I agree that we matter.

But 1) not in the sense of creating the existence of God in this world. God, it seems to me, would not be God if His existence depended on us.

And 2) while God has granted us an important role in making Him visible and effective in the world, it is simultaneously true, and equally important to keep in mind, that He in no way needs us. Even if we keep quiet, "the stones will cry out."

TorahJew

#2, Jan 10, 2012 7:59pm

Though your perspective is certainly dominant in the Jewish tradition, I disagree. IMHO, the world has no purpose except for mankind to make choices - and ideally, that we choose G-d.

Allow me to bring another source:

In Genesis, Jacob blesses Joseph with the peculiar preamble: "the G-d before whom my fathers walked".

Think of it as criers before a king who is walking through the streets. The criers create the reality - in shouted word - of the king's majesty. If the king were to walk through the streets without a crier, the king might go unnoticed, except by the most discerning of observers. As indeed G-d was unnoticed by the masses before Abraham and Isaac became his criers. There is a phrase: there is no king without people – people who presumably recognize the fact of the king.

We create the reality of G-d's majesty in the eyes of the world, and do it with the spoken word (the basic tool of creation that G-d used to make the world).

Why do we exist? So G-d's greatness can be known. Through us.

TorahJew

#3, Jan 10, 2012 8:05pm

Jules van Schaijik, Jan. 10 at 7:17pm

God, it seems to me, would not be God if His existence depended on us.

If people do not recognize G-d, then in their eyes (in their reality), He does not exist.  If everyone felt the same way, then G-d would, in reality, not be part of our world because nobody would recognize him!

G-d wants to be known. Consider the Exodus as a gigantic "coming out" party to introduce G-d to the world.

That is why we are so powerful. We create things just as G-d created the world - we create them by stating their reality. Think, for example, of the statement "the court is called to order." This statement is not a description of fact. These are the words that create the reality of a court in session.

And we do it all with the power that G-d has given us - the part of Him that is inside us, that forms our souls.

Jules van Schaijik

#4, Jan 10, 2012 9:59pm

I am definitely out of my depth when it comes to the theological and scriptural dimension of the issue.  But perhaps part of our disagreement is just semantic. There is certainly a sense in which proclaiming God is to make Him real in the world. But I would not use terms like "creating" or "bringing into existence" to describe that proclamation because God's existence is prior to it.

I also agree that we can create things through words and actions.  A promise, for instance, creates an obligation and a claim, and a coronation creates a king.  But also here it is important to distinguish. It is one thing to crown and thereby "make" a king, and another to announce his coming.  With regard to God, we can only do the latter. 

TorahJew

#5, Jan 10, 2012 11:21pm

I think we agree. The distinction is between:

a: The "real" reality - in which G-d has always existed

b: The reality for an individual, which is determined by his own perception

I believe it is obvious that G-d desires the latter - indeed, that it is a purpose for which the world was created. The rest of our purposes revolve around the choices we make once we accept G-d's existence.

Teresa Manidis

#6, Jan 12, 2012 5:08pm

Jules van Schaijik, Jan. 10 at 7:17pm

I agree that we matter.

But 1) not in the sense of creating the existence of God in this world. God, it seems to me, would not be God if His existence depended on us.

And 2) while God has granted us an important role in making Him visible and effective in the world, it is simultaneously true, and equally important to keep in mind, that He in no way needs us. Even if we keep quiet, "the stones will cry out."

While finding this unfamiliar world view interesting, I would have to agree with Jules' point that God, as God, exists. Period.  We may talk about Him, or to Him, or make Him more 'incarnate' in this world by our charity or 'godliness' towards others, but I don't 'make' God.  He exists completely independent of me (strike that, I mean, He could exist completely independent of me; I hope He and I have some real connection between us).  

Teresa Manidis

#7, Jan 12, 2012 5:15pm

And I find the statement, 'If people do not recognize G-d, then in their eyes (in their reality), He does not exist,' particularly problematic.  Taken to its logical conclusion, if the majority believes/recognizes God, then He exists; if 50% believe in Him, He kind of exists; if the minority - or no one, any longer, anywhere - believes in Him, poof!  He's gone.

I have a problem with this.

Even if we were the most ungrateful children, completely turning our back on our Creator; if we stopped praying, and stopped teaching our children about Him, banning all books or references to Him; if we, in our atheistic delerium, spun away from Him to the point of destroying ourselves and our planet completely (an 'advance' in science we - unfortunately - are actually capable of), Our Beloved would still exist.

Everything else we can destroy - but we cannot destroy God.

This I hold to be true.

Thoughts?

TorahJew

#8, Jan 12, 2012 8:19pm

Teresa Manidis, Jan. 12 at 5:08pm

While finding this unfamiliar world view interesting, I would have to agree with Jules' point that God, as God, exists. Period. 

Please bear with me. When I learn Torah, I try very hard NOT to treat it as a drunkard uses a lamppost: for support and not illumination.

When G-d is asked by Moses, who He is, his answer is very easily and straightforwardly translated as "I will be what I will be."

This is an answer from G-d to Moses - a person in a world with where the power of deities is measured by the position of their followers. So being the G-d of the Hebrews meant being weak, indeed.

G-d was clearly saying: You will see what I will become. This means that PERCEPTION really does matter - not just to Moses, but also to G-d. All of the Exodus is a "coming out" party to show that G-d is indeed the master of the world.Why does this matter? Because we matter to G-d! Our mere perceptions help create reality - because G-d made us in His image!

TorahJew

#9, Jan 12, 2012 8:22pm

Teresa Manidis, Jan. 12 at 5:15pm

And I find the statement, 'If people do not recognize G-d, then in their eyes (in their reality), He does not exist,' particularly problematic.  Taken to its logical conclusion, if the majority believes/recognizes God, then He exists; if 50% believe in Him, He kind of exists; if the minority - or no one, any longer, anywhere - believes in Him, poof!  He's gone.

Oh, no! Numbers have nothing to do with it! Since each of us has a divine spark, then G-d exists in this world as long as a single person says that he does!

Religion is not democratic. I worship and serve G-d as I understand him. This is, like a marriage, an intensely personal and unique relationship. And so others have different marriages, and different relationships.

TorahJew

#10, Jan 12, 2012 8:27pm

Teresa Manidis, Jan. 12 at 5:15pm

Even if we were the most ungrateful children, completely turning our back on our Creator; ....  Our Beloved would still exist.

Everything else we can destroy - but we cannot destroy God.

G-d is not in nature: He is in our souls. And we are the only things in the world we can perceive that can have a relationship with G-d.  

So if we do not recognize Him, then as measured by human perception he does not exist in this world. I see this as almost tautologically obvious.

On the other hand, we exist for a reason. And if we all made the wrong choices, then we would cease to have a purpose: G-d would of course continue - but our world would blink out of existence.

Katie van Schaijik

#11, Jan 13, 2012 9:33am

Before the world was created, did God exist?

And did He exist after the world was created, but before Adam and Eve were created?

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