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Logical and Spiritual REFLECTIONS

Book 5. Zen Judaism

Chapter 1. God and Creation

The idea of God

The idea of Creation

Two acts of faith

The idea of God. The existence of God is suggested by the existence of the individual soul each of us intuits within his or her cognitions and volitions, as well as by various intellectual arguments[1]. The idea of God is philosophically reasonable, as an extrapolation from and explanation of the intuited fact of soul – for just as the scattered instances of mind and matter logically require some monistic unification, so do the scattered instances of soul; and indeed, these several unifications need in turn to eventually be unified together.

The important insight to have, here, is that the personal soul, with powers of consciousness, will and valuation, cannot be explained by reference to an impersonal spiritual Ground of Being, devoid of similar and greater powers of consciousness, will and valuation, which is the Buddhist atheistic thesis, and even less to an exclusively materialist postulate.

The idea of a living, personal God, with presumably extreme degrees of these same powers (i.e. omniscience, omnipotence and moral perfection), would seem a logical inference from our own finite existences. It is more than a mere extrapolation – it is an explanation, without which the introspectively evident fact of a personal soul remains surprising and unexplained.[2]

The idea of God seems perfectly reasonable and inevitable to whoever clearly reflects on the miracles of existence, of variety and change, of consciousness, and of causation and volition, in this world. Without such fascination, i.e. if one dimwittedly takes all that for granted and is not surprised by all of it, one is intellectually bound to some sort of atheism. Theism (i.e. monotheism, belief in God) is a product of metaphysical amazement.

If one asks enough questions and looks for credible answers, one is likely to believe in God. Disbelief depends on keeping one’s mind somewhat closed to the issue, i.e. on a sort of enforced dumbness.

The idea of Creation. Justifying the idea of God does not by itself justify the idea of Creation as such, and much less a particular view (like that of Genesis) of the sequence of events involved in creation. Philosophically, Creation is a separate issue, requiring we advance additional evidence and arguments. In this context, we would first of all argue that, just as we humans have cognitive and volitional power over matter, so by analogy or extrapolation does the presumed greater soul that is God have such powers and that to a much higher degree.

This is an argument in favor of the concept of Divine creation, i.e. of the conceivability of God having such power over matter. But it is not of course alone logically sufficient to establish the fact of Divine creation. On the other hand, the insufficiency of this argument to prove creation does not disprove it, either.

Moreover, the analogy is imperfect, because whereas we can only rearrange existing matter in various ways, we presume God to have created matter ex nihilo (or at least from non-matter). However, the said imperfection in analogy may be explained away by suggesting that individual souls are too small and weak to produce matter, though they are capable of mental creations (imagination), whereas the universal soul of God is grand and powerful enough to produce matter as well as mind. In causal logic terms: a complete cause may cause effects that a partial cause cannot.

We could also argue that in every little act of human (or animal) volition, some degree of creation is involved. That is, the act of willing may be conceived as the human spirit moving matter by injecting new energy into it. Such energy input may be regarded as equivalent to creation, since ultimately energy and matter are one. In this perspective, the great creation of the material world by God may be conceived by analogy from the little creative acts involved in our everyday will.[3]

A further argument we might propose to buttress the idea of creation would be Monism. This philosophy is based on the logical need for an ultimate unity between the substances or domains constituting the world of our experience, namely matter, mind and soul. Granting such basic unity, the ontological distance between God (as the common ground of all souls) and perceived matter and mind is considerably reduced, making creation more acceptable to reason.

We can furthermore adduce the observed fact of impermanence of material and mental phenomena in support of the hypothesis of creation. How so? Impermanence does not of course logically imply creation, but it suggests it somewhat if we admit that underlying phenomenal impermanence is the permanence of the spiritual realm. This refers to the permanence of the spiritual substance our individual souls are made of, i.e. it refers to God, the great root Soul, rather than to us humans as individuated spirits.

If impermanent things emerge from the Permanent, the latter might be said to be the ground or cause of the former. This causal relation may be postulated as one of creation, if we consider that the eternal universal Soul has (like us and more so) a personality, with powers of cognition, volition and valuation, as earlier argued.

Two acts of faith. Howbeit, both the successive ideas of God and Creation still depend on faith. The preceding arguments in their favor, and any other similar reasons we might propose, only constitute inductive building blocks; they are not enough to be declared incontrovertible proof. Such absolute proof seems inconceivable for limited intellects like ours – only God could conceivably know for sure that He exists and He created the rest of the world.

This can and should be freely admitted by all advocates of these monotheistic ideas, to preempt any impression their opponents might give that lack of full proof is disproof. For advocates of atheism often use this fallacy to trick the gullible, suggesting that since monotheism cannot be definitively proved, the opposite thesis must be true. Such argument ignores or discards the fact that atheism is equally impossible to definitively prove!

As for the in-between posture of agnosticism, it is not unrespectable, since both monotheism and atheism are based on some measure of faith. But suspension of judgment is not the only posture reason can recommend, for then almost everything we claim as knowledge would be relegated to a similar intellectual limbo. Human beings are required by their natural condition to make choices and take action; if they truly avoided doing so, they would simply die out. Thus, agnosticism does not actually occur in practice – people who theoretically go for it must still daily go one way or the other (in the way of believers or that of atheists), whether they admit they do or not.

[1] Described and discussed in previous works of mine. See: Judaic Logic, chapter 14 and addenda 10 & 11. Buddhist Illogic, chapters 10 & 11. Phenomenology, chapter 9. Volition and Allied Causal concepts, chapters 2.4 & 15.2. Meditations, chapters 5, 6 & 8.

[2] Note the similarity and difference between this argument for God, and the one Descartes proposed.

[3] For a detailed analysis of the nature and mechanics of will, see my work Volition and Allied Causal Concepts.

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