What we know about God?
Category: mythologymythology

What we know about God?

1. What we know about God?


• How is God related to the Universe?
• Is He a person like we are, or is He unlike us?
• Can He be a kind of force that has brought
into being everything?
• Can we know Him?
• How is He related to us, human beings?


• The early Hebrews were among the first to
conceive of there being one god and to do
away with all other gods.
• He was introduced through 10
Commandments revealed at Mount Sinai and
was called as “Jehovah”
• All the power and influence in the Universe
had been ascribed to Him


• The Greeks – the head of the community of
their gods was Zeus (super king)
• He was a glorified man with all the
weaknesses of men, but also with many
• All other gods were offspring of Zeus (Apollo,
Hermes, Aphrodite)
• The community was full of jealousies,
squabbling and intrigues.



• Hesiod wrote “Theogony” (book of the gods)
• At the beginning was Chaos
• It beget Gaea (the earth), Eros (love), Erebos
(darkness), Nyx (night).
• Erebos (darkness) and Nyx (night) united and
gave birth to Aethe (light) and Hemera (day).
• The earth begot Pontus (sea) and so on…


• Altars and temples were erected
• A whole class of people devoted to conducting
worship, who claimed to comprehend gods
better than others (laymen), was formed
• They saw themselves entitled to give advices
to the people as to how to win the favor of or
conciliate Gods.


• Most of the early Greek philosophers
accepted gods as the popular mind accepted
• They accounted for the Universe differently
• God was the source of the original stuff and
the power which established the order of the
• Possibly, they attempted to carry their religion
in one basket and their philosophy in another
and sometimes mixed them up in the process
of thinking


• Heraclitus – strong dislike of the religion of the
• “And to these images they pray, just as if one
were to converse with men’s houses, for they
know not what gods and heroes are”


• Xenophanes – 6th century BC – God is one and
unchangeable. He lives in one place and never
moves (though His parts can move). He is a
whole, an eternal unity. He is One and All
• “If oxen or lions had hands, and could paint
and produce works of art as men do, horses
would paint the forms of gods like horses and
oxen like oxen. Each would represent them
with bodies according to the form of each”
• “So the Ethiopians make their gods black and
snub-nosed; the Thracians give’em theirs red
hair and blur eyes”


• Sophists – these practical teachers of young
men made it their business to attack
everything and gods did not get away lightly.
• It became necessary for thinkers to ask
themselves – what is the true conception of


• Socrates – masses misunderstood him and
condemned him to death for his disbelieve in
many gods
• Plato has strewn the popular conceptions of gods
in his works; still, sometimes he speaks about one
God who is the master of the Universe
(Demiurge) who takes already-created ideas and
matter and moulds the Universe as an architect;
he is the source of souls
• Spirit of man is like God; the body is a prison for
our mind - “We ought to fly away from earth as
quickly as we can and to fly away is to become
like God”


• Aristotle – there are 2 causes in the Universe matter and form. Forms are forces realizing
themselves in the world of matter the way the
ideas of the artist realize themselves in
• Matter moves because of form. Everything is
alive, for matter constantly strives (or moves)
to realize the form (the oak tree is the form
and the acorn is the matter). And the atoms of
the acorn were trying to combine into the
acorn because the acorn was carrying in itself
the form of the acorn.


• At the very end of this movement, there is
form without matter – the Unmoved Mover
• God is the center toward which everything
strives; He is the unifying principle of the
Universe. Every form is realized in Him.
• He is pure intelligence and the ideal of every



• Epicureans – they believed in many gods.
Gods were shaped like man, but were more
beautiful, being made of light. They differed in
sex, spoke the Greek and needed food. They
don’t interfere with this world at all, being too
• Some Skeptics – human reason is unable to
know God at all and understand that He is
existent. We cannot be sure about ourselves,
as well.


• Stoics – God is related to the world just like the
soul is related to the human body; He is the Soul
of the Universe; all movement stems from it.
• As all of the flower is contained in its seed, God is
contained in everything in this Universe.
• This God knows the future, punishes the evil and
loves man.
• He lives at the farthest circle of the universe and,
from there, passes through everything just like
our soul, being placed somewhere in our body,
passes through the whole of it.


• Philo/Plotinus – brought the Hebrew tradition
in contact with Greek philosophy thinking that
it was consistent with the best in Greek
• We can’t know what is He like for He is far
above us in everything, but can be certain that
He exists. But we can say what he is not like.
• Anything we think of Him is too pure to be
true of Him
• He is absolutely good, perfect, blessed and, as
such, cannot come into touch with matter.


• He gives off powers which combine in one
power called “the Logos” or divine Wisdom,
which is the intermediary between God and
the world
• For Plotinus, God is like an infinite stream
which flows out but is never exhausted. The
world depends upon God, but God does not
need the world


• Creation is a fall from God. The matter is the
farthest thing from God. God is pure and the
world is impure.


• Gospel of John (100 AD) – speaks about the
• As the Christianity became popular in the
Greek-Roman world, the time was ripe to
bring a harmony between it and the Greek
• Apologists - God is eternal, all good, all wise
and absolute in every way, who creates out of
• He predetermined everything right from the


• Augustine – God is the idealization of everything
considered to be good and worthy. His
predetermination of everything is because of His
virtue to know about everything.
• John Scouts Erigena – God and his creation are
one; God is in the world, the world is God, but
God is more than the world; He is the world plus.
The world is only a slight revelation of God.
• Man can know something about God from
looking at the universe, but this is only a small,
insignificant part of God. He is never known fully


Trinity consists of:
The Father is One or Goodness
The Holy Ghost or World Soul
The Logos or the mind of God


• Roscelin – applied the doctrine of Nominalism
to the Trinity. There is no reality
corresponding to the name “God”. There are
only 3 different substances or persons equal in
In opposition to it, the Church
officials saw that the preservation of
the Trinity rested upon adoption of
the Realism. The Universals are the
only reals; individuals are forms of
the universal.



• If God does nor exist, the idea of God would
not be the idea of the greatest think thinkable.
Man could still think of something greater,
something that did exist. The perfection of
God implies the existence of God, because
there is no perfection without being.


• Mysticism
• God is to be experienced (contemplated), not
to be known
• No amount of reasoning can give this
understanding of God (Richard of St. Victor)
• “The sweet home-coming from the land of
bodies to the region of spirit, the surrender of
the self in and to God”
• All a man can do is to prepare himself through
some exercises for “this plunge into the ocean
of infinite truth”. And then… to wait.


• Thomas Aquinas
• God is pure form; His existence is known from
the facts of His creation.



• John Duns Scotus – God is infinite will which is
so free that He can will or nor will just as He
wants. All this is proven from the experience
which we have of the world around us.


• Meister Eckhart – 13 and 14th centuries
• God is inconceivable, something in which all
things are one.
• God cannot reveal himself but becomes
known only through the Trinity. Constantly the
Tree Persons of the Trinity flow out of God and
back into Him.
• “I am God communicating Himself, I am
immanent in the essence of God, He works
through me, as I return to God in the mystic
experience, I become one with God again”


• During the Renaissance, man undertook to
think themselves free from the prolonged
dominance of the Church and its doctrines.
• They found out some inconsistencies in some
doctrines of the Scholastics but did not
dispose of the idea of God
• Nicolas of Cusa – we have to have an direct
intuition of God like a mystic has. It is beyond
reason where we can grasp the “learned
ignorance” – the supersensible experience of


• Giordano Bruno – God is immanent in the
universe, the principle of activity. He is unity
of all opposites on the world who Himself
does not have any opposites. That’s what we
cannot bring our minds around at all
• Jacob Boehme – through the objects of the
Universe God becomes conscious of Himself.
This sort of craving gives rise to the universe
with all its opposites.


• Theology and science were gradually divided,
each take its own place. Philosopher’s God
seemed to differ from theologian’s God
• Francis Bacon – the natural (provides us with a
proof of His existence and tells nothing more)
and the revealed theology (tells the rest).
• “We must quit this small vessel of human
reason, and put ourselves on board the ship of
the Church, which alone possesses the divine
needle for justly shaping the course”.


• Thomas Hobbes – speaks of God as starting
the universe in motion and of Him as ruling
the world through the human rulers of the
• Descartes – tell us a great deal about God.
• The cause of the idea of God must be as real
as the idea, therefore, He exists.
• Mind and body depend upon Him.



• Blaise Pascal -


• Spinoza – outside God there is no substance.
We know Him through ideas and bodies, but
this does not exhaust Him, He is far more than
this, and we can never ever know Him
• God is neither personality nor conscience. He
has no intelligence, feeling or will, has no
purpose – everything follows from His nature
according to strict law.


• John Lock – we have no innate idea of God. We
should use our abilities properly.
• We can built idea of God out of other ideas about
experience we have (like power, pleasure,
duration). But to do this, we should extend them
to infinity.
• Man studies himself and comes to know that he
must have been fashioned by some being who is
greater than he.
• God established laws and we discover them
through studying the Universe or through
revelation. Gad can enforce these laws either by
punishments or rewards in this and in the next
world even to eternity.


• George Berkeley – God is the Supreme Being
and the source of everything. To say that a
table existed only when he was perceiving it,
did not satisfy him. God perceives it anyway
and it exists as a thought in God’s mind even if
I left the room.
• God is the cause of this world which is
immaterial, mental in its essence.


• David Hume – human reason cannot demonstrate
the nature of God. He held all of the arguments
of the previous philosophers to be faulty.
• Our reason is too weak to construct any proper
conception of God. But we should believe in Him,
for such a belief is the basis of all human hopes,
of morality, and of society.
• Belief in God comes from our desire for
happiness, fear of death and future misery, and
the thirst for revenge. These emotional factors
lead us to believe in God, not our reasoning.


• Leibnitz – monads (self-contained units of the Universe) are
ordered in a series of increasing clearness. As opposite the
dullest monad, there is the most perfect monad, that is, God.
• Monads are shut off from one another, but God has
constructed the world in a way that each monad acts as
though it were influenced and were influencing.
• We can have a glimpse of God when take qualities which we
find in ourselves like goodness, power, knowledge and raising
them to infinity.
• God is unchangeable, He comprehends everything at a glance
and completely.


• Immanuel Kant – God is the Highest Idea
which man can have, the idea of the highest
unity, of the one Absolute Whole including
and encompassing everything. But it is
transcendent to experience.
• It is one of the results of reason which brings
under one head all happenings
• He is necessary for the moral life
• His argument for the existence of God: each
individual can find it inherent in his reason



• To live accordingly to an absolute good will
deserves happiness.
• But many good people are unhappy and many
evil people are happy
• There must be wise, good and powerful God
to join happiness and goodness.
• We can form an idea of the Whole of the
Universe and can personify it.
• God is a necessary unknown brought back by
our reason


• Fichte – God is the universal active reason
which cannot be kept from creating.
• He is a “Universal Life-Process” dominating
conscience of every individual
• Morality demands God; therefore, He exists


• Friedrich Schleiermacher – it is impossible to
ascribe to God the usual attributes of
personality, thought, will, and the like. He is
the source of all life.
• Only through religious feeling man can know
Him, feeling absolute dependence. He is a
“world ground”.


• Hegel – God is Idea, the entire process of
evolution, past, present and future. The
reasoning process of historical unfolding is
contained within God.
• As the world develops through evolution, He
becomes self-conscious more fully. He
develops with the world.


• Auguste Comte (Positivism) – all attempts to
get at the essence of things are symptoms of
immature development of the human mind.
We should give up all endeavors to discover
God and preoccupy ourselves with discovering
the relations existing between things,


• Sir William Hamilton – to know anything
about God is impossible because the human
mind can only know that which is conditioned
by something else.
• Herbert Spencer – all we can know is that
which is finite and limited. But we can relate
things to an Absolute or the Unknowable. He
exists but what He is like no one can know.



• William James – belief in God is necessary for
the satisfaction of man’s nature. We cannot
prove anything about Him, but we have a will
to believe in Him, and we must satisfy this
• God is not divorced from the Universe. He is
man’s great Companion, his helper. He is, as it
were, man-like - conscious, personal, and
good, but much more powerful than man.


• John Dewey would not use the term God without
defining it in such a way that it ceases to have any
real meaning.
• He recognized that men do have some
experiences which they have interpreted in terms
of God.
• He thinks that such interpretation carries with it
too much that cannot be proven and, therefore,
should not be made.
• Man found himself in a universe that is
incomprehensible and that deals out to him
much that is evil in his sight. Attempt of man to
account for the Universe is, in fact, his attempt to
save himself from the evil of the world.


• The religious tradition – more or less personal
God caring for man and who is the creator of
the universe.


• The scientific tradition – is not so sure that there is
anything in the universe which cares for man or
that the creative force of the Universe is anything
like personality. It knows forces, drives, energies
working and creating, and destroying. Man, with
his values and wishes, is coming into being as
these forces operate and is going to pieces as they
continue to operate. Scientists would not dispute
if someone is to give these forces the name “God”,
but they will state that this word must not be
applied with all its traditional connotations.


• The “Absolute” name has been put forward
instead of the “God” name either as the
ground of the universe or of the unity of the
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