Monday, November 30, 2009

God as an Object

My post started as a response to Eric’s blog, “[His] Beef With God,” which raises a lot of interesting questions--as you can see. Basically, I tried to think of a way in which God could be an object.

What if God, in some way or another can/could be experienced or quantified? If I can say "tigers exist," without ever seeing one or knowing how to go about seeing one in reality, then I have not really experienced one, and therefore cannot know for sure what a Tiger is or whether it exists all. I also would not know whether or not I have experienced anything like it. But this does not make the existence of the Tiger any less real as an object. There is also still the possibility of finding a way to experience a Tiger, to see one in real life, and for the Tiger to be disclosed in a being.

Just because I have never seen God or experienced him, does not mean that there is no possibility for me to do so. You could say that inherent to the idea of God is infinity, and therefore he could not be experienced or quantified. But also inherent to the idea of God is infinite possibility. Couldn’t God then be made in some way material/quantifiable? From another perspective, when we think of the word perfection, don’t we recognize on some level it’s being? I think we do, and to a further extent than may seem apparent. We have a strong idea of what perfection is, even if it might be wrong. And even if it might be wrong, it also might be right. If our notion of perfection could be right, then why couldn’t our idea of God as some sort of object be right? In this way, God does not seem that different from the example of the Tiger. Both cannot be quantified or determined unequivocally or in themselves. But in one case our idea of something (the Tiger) is in fact correct. Thus, why couldn’t our idea of another thing (God) be correct? This isn’t to say that it is correct, but just that it has the possibility of being correct.

There is always the possibility that we may be right in our perceptions of things, even things that we have yet to come in to contact with or fully know (e.g., the Tiger). This means that God could possible exist as an object in relation to humankind. There does not seem any way to determine the existence of God simply by believing in Him or thinking about Him, but we also do not know a whole lot about exactly what He is. We should check a lot of our assumptions regarding belief and what we know is true or is not true, but also realize the possibility that our assumptions might be right.

I’d appreciate any thoughts on this. I know there are some problematic ideas here.


  1. Hugh, I like your comparison between God and the not having experienced the tiger, but am uneasy to assume you can experience both in the same way. It is easy to get on google and look up pictures of tigers. You may have friends that have seen tigers or you could walk over to the zoo and see them as well. Tigers are accessible to be discovered. The experience you have with them is physical. I am assuming for most an experience with God is spiritual. You may be blessed for things to work out or a medical miracle could occur, but in the process one does not see the physical God. The experience of the tiger and God are completely different. For me, God can not be an object like a tiger, but the it seems that some in viewing God create him into an object.

  2. You have a point. I'm not sure the Tiger and God are really relatable, however, in the scenario I mentioned I trying to imagine a situation in which one had not, for whatever reason, ever seen a Tiger on TV or had really any at present ways of doing so. But I tend to agree with you, although I tried to posit a scenario in which God could be an Object, it seems in all likelihood he can't.

  3. Hugh, I'm going to agree with you for the most part. Let's tell a story in which we ask an individual who has been isolated since birth in northern canada, never had access to anything but his immediate surroundings, and has never had interaction with another human being (this seems ridiculous, but it should help us understand your tiger/God comparison, and perhaps adress Courtney's comment as well). Then, it seems like it would be feasible that this fictitious individual could have no previous experience or idea of a tiger. Further, if we visit this individual and explained to him what a tiger was (a ferocious striped giant cat), he would probably be quite skeptical of the tiger's existence. However, of course the tiger does in fact exist as an object in the world- it is real. Now, let us assume that we boot up a laptop and show our new friend a video of the two of us at the memphis zoo in front of the tiger cage, with a tiger just as we described it running around in the background, chasing a squirrel or something. He would probably be in denial. So, we should him a video of one of us in the cage, playing with the tiger, and the tiger bites one of our fingers off. We show him our missing finger, and claw marks on our hand or something. After some denial, it seems logical that he would then believe us, and his idea of a tiger (that it is a striped cat which exists), would be fairly consistent with the reality of a tiger.

    Now, let me clarify that my earlier post did not in any way deny that God might exist, but rather attempted to (just having re-read it, pretty poorly) claim that we cannot make an assertion one way or the other in terms of proving God's existence. So, keeping our tiger example in mind, I argue that if we can represent God with the tiger in the story, we could not supply the evidence to the skeptical individual to even begin to convince him of God's existence. Instead, we can only supply this evidence for ourselves since a relationship with God (at least in my experience) exists in a very particular manner, i.e. it is singular and certainly not universal (this also vilifies religion for me- it seems ludacris that an entire congregation should force themselves to relate to god all in the same way through the same rituals). In other words, constructing a universal proof for the existence of God (at least as evidenced by experiencing him) is impossible. Thus, attempting to try to impose on someone else's idea of God a certain and absolute reality of what God is seems both illogical and immoral.

    Hope that was edifying and made sense. I'm liking the God convo going down on the blog right now though.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.