Search Results for theism
Moses and Monotheism is the last work written by Sigmund Freud in 1939, prior to his doctor-assisted death by morphine.
The book fancifully reconstructs the Biblical story of Moses, according to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory.
Freud claims that Moses was an Egyptian who introduced the Jewish people to the Egyptian monotheism of Akhenaton. This eventually caused unrest among the Jews who, according to Freud, murdered Moses.¹
The resultant collective guilt necessitated a religion of atonement for slaying what Freud calls the ‘primal father’.
The book is variously regarded as a ludicrous view of history to a groundbreaking exercise in postmodern reconstruction.
The main critique of Freud’s view, however, is that Akhenaton’s monotheism advanced Aten, a solar diety, while Yahweh is far greater than the universe he creates, as made evident throughout the Bible (e.g. Isaiah 55: 8-9).
While it is easy to fault Freud for applying his own theories to the Bible, not a few New Age thinkers and contemporary religious zealots also offer facile reconstructions of the past to support their views, and far less cleverly than Freud did. Now called pseudohistory, a good example can be found in the idea that UFO‘s instead of real human work gangs built the Egyptian pyramids. Although there is plenty of hard archeological evidence that human beings built the pyramids, some pseudohistorians, for whatever reasons, simply overlook this fact.
Another example can be found among Christian fundamentalists who zealously proclaim that ‘the end is near’ whenever anything bad happens. Extremist Christians have been doing this for centuries. Nero, The Black Death, Napoleon, Hitler, the atom bomb, Y2K, 911… all have been taken as signs that the end of time was imminent. While we can perhaps understand why his might have happened earlier on in history, there’s really no excuse for it now.
¹ Some scholars suggest that Freud borrowed this idea from Ernst Sellin, deduced from Hosea 12:13-14.
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Monotheism is the belief in only one God as opposed to many gods. Just what this term means, however, varies from religion to religion.
Sikhism is also monotheistic and most Hindus say their religion is monotheistic (the many Hindu gods and goddesses are believed to be partial manifestations of the supreme One, Brahman).
Meanwhile, some question whether the Christian Trinity is rightly regarded as monotheistic, and other important variations to the idea of monotheism are found. As this quotation points out,
Monotheism can involve a variety of Conceptions of God:
- Deism posits the existence of a single god, the Designer of the designs in Nature. Some Deists believe in an impersonal god that does not intervene in the world, while other Deists believe in intervention through Providence.
- Monism is the type of monotheism found in Hinduism, encompassing pantheism and panentheism, and at the same time the concept of a personal god.
- Pantheism holds that the universe itself is God. The existence of a transcendent being extraneous to nature is denied.
- Panentheism is a form of monistic monotheism which holds that God is all of existence, containing, but not identical to, the Universe. The one God is omnipotent and all-pervading, the universe is part of God, and God is both immanent and transcendent.
- Substance monotheism, found in some indigenous African religions, holds that the many gods are different forms of a single underlying substance.
- Trinitarian monotheism is the Christian doctrine of belief in one God who is three distinct persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.¹
The more we study world religions (and not just from books), the more we find that sometimes a particular believer leans toward one definition of monotheism, while other times a believer of that very same religion leans toward another definition of monotheism. An example of this might be found in Catholicism, where St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun seems to include elements of, but is not limited to, pantheism.
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Panentheism is a term cointed in 1828 by the German philosopher Karl Christian Friedrich Krause (1781–1832) to denote the belief that an eternal God exists within but is somehow grander than creation–i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
However, equating these various explanatory systems is a simplification, and important differences continue to be glossed over by educators, religious authors and New Age marketers, alike.
Pantheism (Greek: pan [all] + theos [God] = All is God) is the belief that God and creation are one. This is also known as naturalistic pantheism, meaning that nature and the cosmos are identified with God.
This cosmology finds expression in some New Age theories that proclaim “We-are-the-Universe.”
The term panentheism refers to God as existing within but somehow grander than creation (i.e. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts). This view is often said to be found in Taoism and Hinduism, as well as the works of Spinoza and Hegel.
But important differences among these perspectives are often glossed over.
The scholar of religion R. C. Zaehner suggests another term, panenhenism, for the belief that the universe is a unified whole without reference to any kind of ‘God.’ Zaehner’s term prefigures semiotic and postmodern concerns to ‘deconstruct’ words like ‘God’ and what they connote for various individuals and groups—e.g. women, visible, invisible as well as outspoken and silent minorities.
To critique the idea of pantheism gets complicated because terms like “the universe” or “nature” may mean different things to different people. For some they’re limiting concepts because they don’t include heaven and hell, as well as all the spiritual powers and beings often believed to reside in these places. Others, however, claim that the words “universe” or “nature” “simply mean “all that is,” which would include heaven, hell and everything else.
The term ‘Theism’ was coined by the Cambridge Platonist scholar, Ralph Cudworth (1617-88), in 1678.
Theism is the belief in a wholly-other creator God, ruling over creation and intervening with Divine presence, power and grace.
Theism is often contrasted with Deism, the belief in a wholly-other creator God who does not intervene after the initial creation of the universe.
» Akhenaton, Atheism, Neo-Paganism, Pagan, Pantheism
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If one were to say that they are “of the opinion” that God does not exist, then they more correctly would be called an agnostic.
Famous atheists include the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and, some say, the philosopher David Hume.
While Hume was denied a professorship for his beliefs, some maintain that he was not an atheist but only misinterpreted as one.
The Physicist Russell Targ, best known for his advocacy of ‘remote viewing,’ believes that atheism is an unscientific position, favoring instead agnosticism. » Deism, Theism
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Polytheism » God
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George Berkeley (1685-1753) was the Anglican Dean of Derry (1724), bishop of Cloyne (1734) and an important philosopher belonging to the school of idealism. Born in Ireland, Berkeley moved to Oxford in 1752 and became one of the so-called British empiricists.
Berkeley believed that the material world exists as an idea created in our minds, ultimately by God. In his New theory of Vision (1709), he argued that our sense of distance isn’t directly perceived but inferred from the repeated association of visual and tactile cues. All of existence, itself, is a group of interacting minds, connecting with archetypes, which themselves derive from God.
He uttered the famous line, perhaps adapted from Shakespeare,
To be is to be perceived or a perceiver.
This means that existence is either a mind or stimuli in a mind.
One way that Berkeley tried to support his view was to note that the idea of heat – what the philosopher John Locke called a “secondary quality” – is somewhat relative. If one of our hands is cold and the other hot, and we place them into warm water, the one hand feels hot and the other cold. Anyone can do this little experiment and see that it’s true. However, Berkeley added that Locke’s so-called “primary qualities” (e.g. shape, quantity) were also dependent on a perceiving mind. Berkeley, in fact, challenged the entire distinction between primary and secondary qualities, as elaborated upon at Wikipedia:
Berkeley maintains that the ideas created by sensations are all that people can know for sure. As a result, what is perceived as real consists only of ideas in the mind. The crux of his argument is that once an object is stripped of all its secondary qualities, it becomes very problematic to assign any acceptable meaning to the idea that there is some object. Not that we can’t picture to ourselves (in our minds) that some object exists apart from any perceiver—we clearly think we can do this—but rather, can we give any content to this idea in any particular case?¹
A slightly different take on the belief that the material world doesn’t exist independent of the mind has been popularized in many books reporting recent discoveries in sub-atomic physics, such as Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters and Fritzoff Capra’s The Turning Point.
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Confirmation is the Christian rite in which the Holy Spirit is conferred or renewed to those already baptized. Confirmation began as a unique rite around the 4th century, involving the laying on of hands or anointing with oil.
Today’s Catholic Church usually confirms believers just after the age of seven. But adults who are converting to Catholicism and have successfully completed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults are baptized and confirmed during the Easter Vigil by either a bishop or a priest.
If the converting adult has already been baptized through a recognized Christian denomination, they’re confirmed without having to be baptized again. For Catholics it’s not possible to be baptized twice because, as Deacon Ed puts it, baptism imparts and “indelible mark on the soul.”¹
Lutheran, Anglican and other Protestant confirmations are similar, usually not allowing a person to receive Holy Communion until after their confirmation. Within all Churches the confirmed become full members of their Church.
There is also a Jewish understanding of Confirmation. Details for the peculiarities among Christian denominations and the Jewish faith can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation.
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From his considerable study of world myth and religion, Jung came to the conclusion that this collective data is cross-cultural. In fact, he didn’t just see the collective unconscious in myth and religion. He saw universally recognizable motifs among dreams, myth, religion, the arts and architecture. One leading example he provides is the mandala. For Jung, the circular shape of the mandala represents the potentially limitless self.
Jung calls these hypothesized patterns of human existence archetypes.¹ Existing in a larger time frame than most people’s daily awareness, the archetypes of the collective unconscious apparently connect the past, present and future.
Jung speaks to the arbitrary nature of the term collective unconscious. Towards the end of his career he writes that he rendered essentially spiritual ideas in scientific-sounding language for the sake of professional and societal legitimacy. So this, in a sense, makes him something of a postmodern thinker way before the term became popular.
Because he was, in part, doing a sell job, his insistence on the bio-genetic base of the collective unconscious seems confusing to some, especially when he says:
The unconscious has no time. There is no trouble about time in the unconscious. Part of our psyche is not in time and not in space. They are only an illusion, time and space, and so in a certain part of our psyche, time does not exist at all.²
Could a timeless psyche be entirely biological? Perhaps Jung was saying that, although grounded in the body, the archetypes exhibit or resonate with a spiritual component. That is, a bio-genetic ground is necessary for the interplay of body and spirit.
What About Sigmund Freud and the Unconscious?
Freud and Jung’s views about the unconscious differ, but not so much as many believe. Some pop psychologists and New Age gurus quickly dismiss Freud’s ideas, unaware that his model of the unconscious also contains collective elements.
As we’ve seen in the above, Jung describes the archetype as a component of mankind’s psychological substratum—the collective unconscious. Freud similarly spoke of phylogenetic “schemata” and “prototypes.” And borrowing from ancient Greek and Jewish literature, Freud also devised the “Oedipus complex,” a “primal father” and likened the shadowy contents of the unconscious to archaeological ruins.
In addition, late in his career Freud revised his libido theory to include the general ideas of eros (life instinct) and thanatos (death instinct). Because Freud maintained that the fundamental aspects of the unconscious are universal, aspects of his model of the self, like Jung’s, point to a collective unconscious.³ And not only that. Freud, himself, said that Jung introduced nothing new with the idea of the collective unconscious. He wrote that the “content of the unconscious is collective anyhow.”4
¹ Jung’s notion of the archetypes borrows from ideas previously found in anthropology, sociology, philosophy, religion and theology. The term archetype is traceable to St. Augustine, 354-430 CE.
² C. G. Jung Collected Works vol. 18, para. 684, cited in “Time and Space” at http://www.fundacion-jung.com.ar/ingles/citas.htm.
³ Michael V. Adams illustrates this point in The Cambridge Companion to Jung, (ed.) Polly Young-Eisendrath and Terence Dawson, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 101.
4 Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism, p. 209, cited in R. J. Lifton with Eric Olson (eds.), Explorations in Psychohistory: The Wellfleet Papers, New York: Simon and Shuster, 1974 p. 90.
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