Jacob Needleman talks about his latest book, What Is God?. In this deeply personal work, religious scholar and philosopher Needleman cuts a clear path through today’s debates over the existence of God, illuminating an entirely new way of approaching the question of how to understand a higher power.
Needleman is the author of Money and the Meaning of Life.
Jacob Needleman is a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University and the author of many books, including The American Soul, The Wisdom of Love, Time and the Soul, The Heart of Philosophy, Lost Christianity, and Money and the Meaning of Life.
In addition to his teaching and writing, he serves as a consultant in the fields of psychology, education, medical ethics, philanthropy, and business, and has been featured on Bill Moyers's acclaimed PBS series "A World of Ideas."
Branch of philosophy that studies key metaphysical and epistemological concepts, principles, and problems of religion. Topics considered include the existence and nature of God, the possibility of knowledge of God, human freedom (the free will problem), immortality, and the problems of moral and natural evil and suffering. Natural theology is the attempt to establish knowledge of God without dependence on revelation. Traditional arguments for the existence of God include the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the argument from design.
Everyone comes to religion with different reason and from different backgrounds. While I don't think there is a true religion that answers all the "big" questions we have, I do think that religions do offer our existence in the world for the meantime, however lacking. I believe that at one point in everyone's life the question of one's existence naturally comes up. Why? Because everyone dies at one point. For some it'll be today, and for others it'll be sometime in the future. It is fear and pain.
The fundamental things we ask ourselves are, then, what is the right thing to do? How should we live? and why? It is human nature to ask these questions. Otherwise, we wouldn't be who we are.
All religions, I want to believe, started as a vehicle to help people seek the truth, but, as most things are, they are tainted and corrupted by people who abuse for political and material gains. The people you cited as screamers and do all sorts of despicable things are those who are being led astray by these people.
I was a devoted christian myself, but I no longer belong to Christianity. After years of searching and studying, I know what is more important than religion. It is that every and each one of us is all capable of being greater than who we really believe ourselves to be. No precepts, dogma, rules, belief and doctrine will help you if you don't believe that all of us are all connected spiritually and that we are spiritual beings with human experience.
I came from a family without religion, married a man who came from a family without religion, raised 2 brilliant, loving, caring children without religion and I have often wondered what caused others to need religion when clearly it is not needed by so many people.
Is it like religious diabetes where some people are born without the ability to cope and others develop an inability to cope later in life? All of the people I have known who developed a need for religion later in life, developed hyper-religious, cultish behaviors like standing on street corners screaming "Whore" at complete strangers. They all went insane, murdered people, tried to murder their children, committed suicide, became drug addicted, committed adultery with church leaders, alienated themselves from family members, became homeless etc. Or they are the ones who "found" religion while in jail and promptly lose it after the parole hearing.
Most of the people I have known who claim a religion never actually attend services of any kind and the ones who do only attend for an hour once a week or only on holidays. They seem to be on an even keel and don't generally exhibit any outrageous behaviors. These people seem to do it out of habit started in childhood.
So what I want to know is there some mental illness that people develop that causes them to seek out religion and because religion is a sacred cow they do not get any treatment because no one dares an intervention?
"It is more powerful than ego (a belief in oneself), democracy (a belief in the people) or in knowledge (a belief in evidence)."
That kind of argument is being used to kill people (God is greater than humans), to replace democracy with Theocracy (God rules, not man) and suppress science (God's word trumps any other form of experience).
As for the "equivalence of God and Man" in Christianity... you will have to show me the particular catechism which contains that particular tenet. As far as I know, pretty much all Christian sects preach that man and God can be separated quite easily... and when they are... men is sent to hell (of one sort or another).
That "moment of access" is a moment of simple pure awareness when the conceptual driven "ego encapsulated self" has temporarily dissolved.
Huston Smith, a well known professor of comparative religion said,
"The polytheist says there are many gods. The monotheist says there is one God. The mystic says, "ONLY GOD!"
I like that comment very much, but ultimately, "nature" and the Cosmos are an integral whole of which we are all part, and at the most fundamental level, as humans, we really are this cosmos become AWAKE.
Adding names and concepts like "god" aren't even necessary. 'God' is just a name we use for this wondrous mystery and natural law by which everything functions.
The ground of our being is the very ground of all being – and we are THAT!!
-- which seems pretty profound to me.
Sagan said, "We are star stuff" and "a way for the cosmos to know itself."
All the atoms on earth and in our bodies came from supernova that blew up over 5 billion years ago.
Aren't we all just walking, talking stardust -- this cosmos become AWAKE and looking back at itself? -- and aren't we intimately connected to it all?
We are this wonder called life become AWAKE
Please enjoy the dance.
And ultimately there's nothing that separates us from others in this grand mystery. Please be kind.
God is the world's most powerful idea.
It is more powerful than ego (a belief in oneself), democracy (a belief in the people) or in knowledge (a belief in evidence).
Classical Greece's idea of man as the center of the world died without the idea of God present in their society. Civilization is here today because of the idea of God which is the essence of Christianity that Man and God are one and the same and therefore cannot be separated.