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July 5, 2006

God Loves You?

Can belief in a god be logical? There are a number of ways of approaching this question. Some having to do with the importance of "flaws" (if you're perfect you can't overcome and therefore you aren't perfect) and the contradictions inherent in the various omnis -- potent, present, etc. -- which we've already touched on a bit.Paul_Simon.jpg

Here's another approach: Paul Simon, in his new album (which I seem to be more or less alone in more or less really liking) raises the question: "Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?" And then seems to answer: "God will, like he waters the flowers on your window sill."

My question: What exactly might this mean? Does God still find the wrinkled hot? Does He find all six billion of us humans (not to mention all the animals and flowers) special? Is this heavenly love just another way of saying that we all are, presumably, unique and of value -- a nice, humanistic notion? How does God get to know all of us? Is it something like the chess master who can beat a room full of people, each playing a different board? Doesn't it then have to depend on omnipresence and various kinds of omnipotence? Does God take to us from birth, or does He have to hang out with us for a while first? Does he go for looks or brains? Or is it all about goodness or saying prayers or believing in the Koran? Does playing hard to get help? Or is He above all that? If He loves us so much, why doesn't He help us out a bit more (the old problem of evil)? Any chance God just doesn't care for short guys from Queens who break up with their long-time, sweet-voiced, curly-haired partners? Sometimes, after all, the flowers on the window sill die.

Doesn't the issue become what we mean by "love"? And is it possible that God, as he often seems to, drops out of the equation?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at July 5, 2006 4:16 PM


So many of these poets/pop musicians like to think they have a spiritual connection with God, I think it is the natural/cultural feeling of most who get so much special attention. The only way they can deserve it is if it was meant to be.

But we're gona get that wolf!

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 5, 2006 5:12 PM

God IS love...it is not a matter of what you are, do or have that prompts God to love you...

He loves out from the source of who he is, what he does and what he has...

That makes it unconditional. You do not even have to know Him to be loved by him. : )

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 5, 2006 5:35 PM

And your source for this absolute knowledge is?

Nothing is unconditional nomatter what the condition your condition is in.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 5, 2006 7:13 PM

The same source as yours Jay Saul...FAITH!!!

Understand, every human being does utilize a measure of faith without respect to belief in a deity or not.

BTW, God is the Ultimate Humanist!

Are you old enough to remember The First Edition? The song, What Condition my Condition is In comes to mind from your post, though I find Simon and Garfunkel to be much more gifted lyricists.

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 5, 2006 7:32 PM

Faith, God, Love--BIG words, so big they mean anything or nothing. I am old enough to know better--but that still doesn't stop me.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 5, 2006 8:31 PM

Any word that has human in it is a guarenteed one word lie. We are not the center of anything but our own individual imaginations. If there is a humanistic god out there, he is a George Bush league god that builds star systems but cannot end human suffering. Faith is necessary to respond to our senses. God is not and the idea of God only makes it harder to interpret the universe.

It is easier and feels safer to be comforted by the security of knowing but far more satisfying to be awestruck by the power of the unknowable.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 5, 2006 11:46 PM

Oh Jay Saul, what a little box you put God in...he fits right in there with the rice at the Chinese carry out restaurant.

I would NOT even think to say George Bush and humanism in the same breath, let alone George Bush and God...

I do not follow part A of this sentence you wrote:
"God is not and the idea of God only makes it harder to interpret the universe."
God is NOT what?

You are awestruck by God, Jay Saul? You would count Him unknowable?

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 6, 2006 12:02 AM

Not necessary. God IS the little box.
Explain humanism to a whale.

But you WOULD put "he" and God in the same breath.
One a place holder for a human male and the other the creator of all things. No, I think God and George Bush go very well together, they both got us in this pickle. Not that it wasn't our fault and the humanitic way of things. We invented them both.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 6, 2006 12:22 AM

So you believe there is a God, you are only angry at Him for 'getting us in this pickle.'

That is not the typical admission of atheism. I have learned that to discount anyone's unbelief as masked anger is no different than to discount anyone's belief as naivete. And it is to be guilty of a fallacy. But there are no doubt a fair share that have deconverted from grave disappointments and unresolved questions put to God in prayer or in just the seeking of him. I have edged up to that place more than once.

I should not have said that God and George Bush would not be said in the same breath, but did to make a point that God is not politically aligned with religion. Not sponsoring a theocracy.

As to invention, I count the words of Existentialist Viktor Frankl as appropos..."The meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected."

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 6, 2006 12:45 AM

One detects meaning just the way one detects god. Imagination. You want to believe I believe in god, why?

Define god, and do not say god is love. Did god exist before the universe? How can you contemplate anything outside of space and time?
What is your reference, your experience? Why do you feel the need to imagine such a unimaginable and indefinable concept and make your way through life on that self "detected" (oh yes, invented) gloss of emotional imagination?

There is no such thing as a typical atheist. I have never been mad at god, only at the people who use that imaginary concept to torture me, et al. Hint, Hint.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 6, 2006 10:19 AM

y Saul, in all fairness, did you not write this that follows?

"One a place holder for a human male and the other the creator of all things. No, I think God and George Bush go very well together, they both got us in this pickle."

So I was led to believe that you were not writing to give so much preeminence to that which you claim does NOT exist.

Perhaps it is your Self that does torture you with the concept?

As for me, I find your hint as subtle as an elephant doing ballet. Consider it taken. : )

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 6, 2006 10:51 AM

I tremble to enter this particular thread, given the exchange thus far. But (she said, plunging in) yeah, I think it's about defining 'love', not God, that's relevant to the way Paul Simon (not having heard any of the new record) articulates this.

My mom, for example, loves me unconditionally, no matter what I look like, do or say, god love her. I didn't realize I needed that kind of love, and maybe I don't--can't say since I've had it for most of my life. Thus I can't really say whether my 'unneed' for a god has been linked to that experience. When mom is gone, maybe my need for some universal abstraction will increase, but I'm thinking not...

Is this a 'need' we all have as humans, though: a sense of unconditional love, which for some people is satisfied by a god, for others by marriage, or kids, or a 'cause' to which one is devoted to the point of death...? maybe it's this idea of 'unconditionality' that allows us to not care what condition our condition is in (man, i have that on a 45, too)

Posted by: JM at July 6, 2006 12:55 PM

The idea of god is alive and well, not the existance. You torture my words to extract the meaning you like. You leave out the sentence after your quote of me, "We invented them both."

As my daughteer would say when I preached to her, "whatever".

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 6, 2006 12:56 PM

The meanings we are using for words differ--semantics is the easy explanation.

Unconditional love is conditioned on several things; the first being that you are who you are. If you started treating your mother like you hate her and acted totally against your present personality, how long do you think that unconditional love would last? If you cannot think of anything that would make her stop loving you, I'll bet she could if she really tried. This is not just murdering someone; that can be rationalized and blame can be diluted because you are still you, I am talking a brain-cloud change in personality--something not all that unusual. What we lump into alcoholism is a good example where unconditional love evaporates like the pledge of eternal love at the beginning of most marriages.

All I am saying (is give peace a chance) is that nothing can exist in consciousness without conditions. So every "thing", is constructed using conditions of that construction.

Words. We keep expecting them to convey meaning.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 6, 2006 1:38 PM


I do believe that every soul longs to know that 'unconditionality '...and that is more found in the love of a parent to a child then perhaps any other relationship. Even though there are friends who would vow the same, lovers committed in a marriage bond, and as you said, even a cause can know that same, for better or worse love. Though in some instances, I think what wears as unconditional love for a cause is nothing more than turning a blind eye to the 'worse'. So many saying the Pledge of Allegiance without ever flinching at the present evils disseminated to our world through a perverse manifest destiny that mocks liberty and justice for all.

Still, it is a funny thing that because you have known unconditional love from a parent, you do not feel a need to know it from a god. And yet there are a good many who will say that they cannot even want to seek such love from a god who is called Father, because their biological father was deplorable in his role.

Note to Jay Saul: I did not mean to torture your words...I only find it a strange preoccupation. To be so arduous in your fight against that which you do not believe. It reminds me of the "goody two shoed" Fundy Christians who are adamant to preach against Santa Claus...the CLAUStrophobic among us.

Such dedication to an anti-belief seems not so much a lack of faith as an ample fear.

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 6, 2006 1:42 PM

Appreciate the interesting responses. I'm thinkin' Mitch should contemplate writing a sequel called 'without words'... ;)

Maybe the longing/need for 'unconditionality' -- i.e., as JayS suggests, using different words -- is really desire for the metaphysical, however it manifests itself, however we name it, and however 'illogical' it is, finally. I think he's probably right, that nothing exists in consciousness w/out conditions. But I guess I also agree w/ BK that we seem to desire this 'x' anyway. The trick is realizing that desire can have no object, and thus is never satisfied/fulfilled/achieved (a point articulated very cleverly by Jacques Lacan) -- thus we always posit an object (god, etc.) and are always, inevitably, frustrated...

Posted by: JM at July 6, 2006 6:10 PM

Can the love of God compare to the firm handshake of a good friend or the warm embrace of a loved one? Not even close.

The cold love of God is of superficial or no comfort.

Posted by: Boelf at July 6, 2006 7:24 PM

...or is His love that which is found in the warm embrace of love

and the hands entwined in friendship, Boelf?

Just asking...

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 6, 2006 11:38 PM

Bonnie, why would I posit an invisible agent between my friends and loved ones? After all I earned the friendship and worked on the relationship.

In your world view do I get credit for anything?

Posted by: Boelf at July 7, 2006 2:56 PM

Yes, you do Boelf...hear me out, I would say I always believed in God but then 'committed' my life to Him as a Christian when I was 28...my initial MO as a Christian was shaped by the church and was very legalistic. Enough things happened in my own life, and enough questions that my own mind formulated have taken me outside the church and those things that are rote and ritual. Last year I opened myself up to the questions, the doubts, and admittedly the silence of God.
I began to slowly embrace the atheist thought in more than one instance, and still do...
but even as some questions still remain, I have found that faith is yet present too...
I am not going to TRY to deconvert. I am simply going to keep on questioning, keep on loving life, keep on wondering at the intricacies of the universe...
One thing that a dear atheist friend told me only about a coupla weeks ago is that he does not believe he has a soul. I never heard of that before!
But I guess what I wrote above is to appeal to your soul, since I believe everyone has one...
The Bible says God is love. So to me it is the touchstone of commonality between the believers and disbelievers. We can use the word God or the word love...
But if you are a vessel bringing love to your fellow man, then you are bringing God to your fellow man.
Columbus did seem to get nearly all the credit, didn't he? But we all do know the names of his three boats too!
And so as history was changed by the voyage of the Pinta, Nina and Santa Maria, so this journey of life is made the more wonderful for those who travel in your company...
Especially as you bring love to others, whether you recognize it as originating in your humaness or count it divine.
Just like this Boelf...I am thirsty, I go to the faucet and get some cold water...It is of no consequence to me what the source of that water is, it satisfied me and sustains my life.
You, Boelf, by any worldview you ascribe to, have it within yourself to be that refreshment and assistance to others.

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 7, 2006 5:05 PM

guess I still don't understand what kind of love this is that Mr. or Ms. God might exude. Don't mean no lack of respect to moms (especially JM's) but wouldn't unconditional=unearned, and thereby lose some value? And what would it mean for God to unconditionally love you? Wouldn't it just be like saying over and over to yourself: "I'm ok. I'm cool." Would belief in God once again devolve into a general optimism and trust in the universe. Note, too, that the various Gods of the various holy books seem to love awfully conditionally (and occasionally kill indiscriminately).

Posted by: mitch at July 7, 2006 11:45 PM

Yep, unconditional=unearned, no disrespect taken to my mom(s). Metaphysical to the core, no? Loses *lots* of value in my book. So, what then? do we still long for this, and call it "x" ? is this the motivation for Paul Simon's lyrics (and a whole lotta...) again i would suggest that it doesn't matter who/what we put into that 'x' role - it's the longing precisely for the metaphysical 'something' >> which may in fact be the 'nothing' (i.e., what's in that 'holy of holies', oh yeah) that leads to twisted optimisms of many kinds and practices. Keep pushing that limit, Mitch.

Posted by: JM at July 8, 2006 12:00 AM

Does God love? I find the idea sort of silly, and very revealing of how naíve most religious people are in their beliefs.

Love is a human emotion (though similar emotions can probably be found in some of the other species on earth). Humans are one of many millions of species on this planet. This planet is one of billions of planets in the Universe. And this God have HUMAN emotions? Human wishes, human desires. Thinks and acts quite like a human, except he's omnipotent and very GOOD, of course. Why doesn't he think and feel like a dog? Like a bumble bee? Like a salmon? God just happens to think and feel like the species who invented him does? That's a little too much of a coincidence, I think...

Posted by: Kristian Z at July 12, 2006 8:34 PM

Be that as it may Kristian Z...
OR, could it possibly be that man was created in God's image???

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 13, 2006 9:31 AM

OR could it be you are shooting in the dark with your possible realities, pretending you have answers to unanswerable questions.

"created in God's image" means no more than I was born a Sagittarius. If God is more than everything, please paint me a picture of that.

Image smimage, you are way out in fairyland.

The discussion here revolves around how to explain and chronicle those who DO NOT believe in such improbable possibilities.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 13, 2006 12:55 PM

Yes, that is true Jay Saul...and I did not mean to make you testy...sorry. I did not come here to be objectionable.

As much as there is a history of unbelief that is being recorded, so there are in the posts here, ongoing points that challenge both unbelief and faith...

The fact is that those who do not believe go by the title Atheist. A- being a prefix to understand the not, the negative...

So by that very title, you in a very real way, build your philosophical identity by what you do NOT believe. So I was just offering the belief stated that is NOT believed. You can pick it apart all you want, to prove that you still squarely identify by the prefix a-...

Whether with faith or without, I am not an enemy to your good life though for simply weighing in from time to time with a perspective that is different than your own.

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 13, 2006 9:33 PM

Not to let Paul Simon off the hook too much, but sometimes we water our own flowers...

Posted by: Dayv at July 15, 2006 5:00 PM

"OR, could it possibly be that man was created in God's image???"

The similarities between the psychology of the Christian God and the psychology of humans clearly imply that one was created by the other. But which one created which? Well, we KNOW humans exist, we don't know that God exists. Use Occam's razor to complete the argument.

Posted by: Kristian Z at July 20, 2006 7:06 PM

Often the flowers die, whose fault is that?
I guess it was meant to be.

If I was god I would rather look like a flower than Charlton Heston.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 20, 2006 7:39 PM

Me too, Jay Saul...

Posted by: Bonnie Kim at July 23, 2006 5:36 PM

even dead flowers...

Posted by: JM at July 23, 2006 9:11 PM

If I was god I'd kill myself and blame it on Shakespear.

Posted by: Jay Saul at July 23, 2006 11:09 PM

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