What is God? – By Rosaliene Bacchus

Three Worlds One Vision

Seated statue of El
Seated statue of El from Megiddo (1400-1200 BCE)
Photo Credit: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago

The final post of my three-part series covers “Part Three: What is God?” of Reza Aslan’s book, God: A Human History. The author traces the evolution of the nature of God from God is one, to God is three, and later to God is all.

The ancient Israelites worshiped the Canaanite god El as their chief god presiding over a pantheon of lesser gods. The very word Israel means “El perseveres.” The god who became known as Yahweh first appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush. Around 1050 BCE when they established the Kingdom of Israel, Yahweh became their patron God. In the capital, Jerusalem, they built a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant, Moses’s covenant with Yahweh: the highest and strongest god over all other gods.

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  • Cedric Thompson  On 12/31/2017 at 1:47 pm



  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 01/02/2018 at 12:05 pm

    “Allah’s unique essence [ ‘singular & indivisible’] presented a paradox for a small group of Muslim theologians. If God is indivisible and God is Creator, how could a divide exist between Creator and creation? Are they not one and the same? Their radical conclusion led to a new branch of Islamic mysticism called Sufism.
    To accept the unity of the Creator is to accept the unity of all creation. In other words, if God is one, then God must be all. This conception of the divine is known today as pantheism.”

    I commented on the second part of Ms. Bacchus’ series – The Humanized God, as follows:
    “It never fails to dismay me and thus confirm the pernicious bias of Eurocentric/some Western and Abrahamic (EWA) commentators when they continue, despite all the contrary educational tracts out there, to ascribe the birth of world civilization to Western Asia (starting from Iran/Persia), the Middle East and Greece, To them, east of Iran is just a dull box of people who are late comers owing their enlightenment to the EWA group.
    They never notice that Iran is adjacent/contiguous to India (ignoring the 1947 breakaway of the separatist Islamic state, Pakistan –‘Land of the Pure’). Somehow they believe there is a high wall at the artificial border with smart people on the West side and dull ignoramuses on the East side.”

    Now, we have the term “pantheism” seemingly originating “today” with Islam’s Sufism (Reza Aslan’s new found belief system) from the assertion “This conception of the divine is known today as pantheism.”

    So, let’s explore this “pantheism” derivation. Is it unique to Sufism? Or, did Sufism make it popular? I’ll use Wikipedia as it is eclectic.

    “Pantheism is the belief that all reality is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheists do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god and hold a broad range of doctrines differing with regards to the forms of and relationships between divinity and reality.
    Pantheism was popularized in Western culture as a theology and philosophy based on the work of the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza,[5]:p.7 particularly his book Ethics, published in 1677.[6] The term “pantheism” was coined by Mathematician Joseph Raphson in 1697[7][8] and has since been used to describe the beliefs of a variety of people and organizations.
    Pantheistic concepts date back thousands of years, and pantheistic elements have been identified in branches of Eastern religions such as Hinduism.

    Well, well, so the people ‘behind the wall’, the Hindus, were already deemed pantheists, but the article makes no mention of them.

    Furthermore, Wikipedia continues:
    “Comparison with non-Christian religions
    Some 19th-century theologians thought that various pre-Christian religions and philosophies were pantheistic.
    They thought Pantheism was similar to the ancient Hindu philosophy of Advaita (non-dualism) to the extent that the 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker remarked that Spinoza’s thought was “… a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus.”
    So, Spinoza is thought to have “borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus” !!!

    Next, we have these Luminaries of Pantheism:
    “In 2015, notable Los Angeles muralist Levi Ponce was commissioned to paint “Luminaries of Pantheism” for an area in Venice, California that receives over a million onlookers per year. The organization that commissioned the work, The Paradise Project, is “dedicated to celebrating and spreading awareness about pantheism.”[61] The mural painting depicts Albert Einstein, Alan Watts, Baruch Spinoza, Terence McKenna, Carl Jung, Carl Sagan, Emily Dickinson, Nikola Tesla, Friedrich Nietzsche, Ralph Waldo Emerson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry David Thoreau, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Rumi, Adi Shankara, and Laozi”

    Several of the luminaries, such as Prof. Alan Watts, Carl Sagan, Neitzsche, Emerson, Thoreau and Adi Shankara have spoken highly of Hinduism. Quoting just Henry Thoreau, he wrote: “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta.” Another notable, Adi Shankara, is considered the foremost exponent of Advaita (non-duality) Vedanta –
    “Adi Shankara … was an early 8th century Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. He is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.
    His works in Sanskrit discuss the unity of the ātman and Nirguna Brahman “brahman without attributes” He wrote copious commentaries on the Vedic canon (Brahma Sutras, Principal Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita) in support of his thesis.”

    So, way back in the 8th C. long before Sufism emerged (and many scholars argue its mysticism is borrowed from India), Adi Shankara was spreading the pantheistic doctrines, but nowhere does the flim-flam scholar, Reza Aslan, give him or the Hindu pantheism any recognition. So, borrowing a Trumpism, his scholarship is “fake” – Typical Eurocentric/ Western and Abrahamic religious (EWA) biased scholarship, out strip India and Hinduism of their world affirming contributions and relegate them to the uncivilized, unintellectual, also ran bin.

    Veda Nath Mohabir

    • Ali  On 01/02/2018 at 2:04 pm

      Your story is predictable and repetitive. You’re trying to convince yourself that Hinduism is the only religion that matters. You use fancy terms that fly over the head of most. The Editor prefers you keep it brief. But you keep beating the same old monotonous drum time and time again. While beating that drum you fail to recognize that Hinduism is fairytale. You keep quoting ‘notable scholars’ to drive home your fairytales —- but everyone knows that bs is still bs.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On 01/04/2018 at 12:15 pm

    Reza Aslan further revises some parts of Islamic history to sanitize them.

    Regarding the age of Muhammad’s youngest wife, he claimed on CNN couple years ago that Aisha was not 6 but 16 at marriage. Furthermore he claimed the 72 virgins martyrs will get in Paradise are really ‘raisins’, due to faulty translation. Imagine blowing up oneself and innocent people (infidels) for 72 raisins!

    Taking the age issue, here Ayaan Hirsi Ali (former Somali Muslim, now a critic who needs a bodyguard) says: “They say the Prophet Mohammed took Aisha when she was 6 and had sex when she was 9. That is Sharia law.”
    Furthermore, to validate this she refers to the Ayatollah of Iran reducing the age of marriage for women to 9:
    ‘..it is possible to see what Islamic law looks like for women. In Saudi Arabia, for example, women are not allowed to drive, and are “subjected to every humiliation you can think of.” The same was true in Iran, under Ayatollah Khomeini, who reduced the age of marriage to 9, Hirsi Ali noted.’

    Last time I looked, this was also the age in a number of Muslim countries. So Aslan should explain why do they hang on to this low age!

  • Tata  On 01/07/2018 at 9:24 pm

    When there is UNITY in God’s creation I’ll believe in A GOD.

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