Knowledge of God in Islam

Discuss either theological doctrines, ideas about God, or Biblical criticism. I don't want any debates about creation vs evolution.

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Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby sgttomas on Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:11 pm

In the Name of God, the Most Merciful the Most Gracious:

The study of the subject of God requires us to define a number of other subjects, terms, and devise a way to classify our knowledge of God in order to avoid ambiguity and lazy thought. We begin by classifying what we may know about God, or knowledge in general. This classification follows along contemporary western traditions, rather than the traditional Islamic classification (revealed knowledge, rational knowledge, experiential knowledge). These terms will not be exhaustively defined here, but the meanings are assumed to have the normal meaning within the contemporary vocabulary.

The first category of knowledge will be called the Ontological, and it contains the following concepts (and for each category their antonyms will be assumed, if not listed):

Ontological: necessary, sufficient, complete, and essentially incomplete (which is distinct from “incomplete” in that it is not possible to be complete, whereas another set of attributes might simply be unfinished, but may indeed be completed).

The next category will be called the Epistemological, and it pertains to what can be known about objects within an ontological domain.

Epistemological: possible, existent, axiomatic.

Next is the Existential category, which situates our knowledge in time and whether or not it pertains to something we experience as occurring from within or outside of our bodies. The only context in which something is known to occur outside of our bodies is in the current awareness of self and other. This self-referential distinction is taken as the reference point, without any inquiry into whether we are “just a brain in a jar” or other seeming paradoxes of reality. What is plainly apparent is the only relevant context in which we need to discuss our knowledge. Other than that, things that occurred in the past are now only recalled and are distinct from the events themselves (they are recreations) and things that are future oriented are only currently things imagined.

Existential: imagined, occurring (to us), recalled.

The last category is the broadest category and it contains every element of knowledge that requires a judgment of its hierarchy of importance to us. As such, we can include the previous three categories of knowledge within the domain of this knowledge, because the Ontological category may not be perceived as warranted, or desirable, or preferred, or as a probable way to approach the subject of God. Hence, the last category is called the Subjective.

Subjective: meaningful, probable, warranted, desirable, preferred.

Each category of knowledge will have a role to play in defining the concept of “God”. Each category of knowledge is necessary for a sufficient description of what will be axiomatically defined shortly. This is not the only possible definition for God, but it is one that I believe is warranted and desirable, because it is structured in the contemporary thinking of subjectivity, scientism, and skepticism. It is my preferred definition because it avoids many traditional pitfalls and paradoxes when it assumes the notion of a “proof” of God’s existence.

We should not assume any attachment to the word God, and any prior meanings need to be suspended because it is necessary to axiomatically define the subject. After the axioms are presented, we will discuss the set of objects, or the object, that is represented by the domain of knowledge it encompasses. Language is not an objective structure, but objective structures are meaningless. Only subjective and self-referential judgments can acquire meaning. This is the reason why, I believe, the language of God must always be updated to the contemporary mode of thinking, culture, and natural language. However, language is not totally unconstrained. It acquires an intersubjective meaning between persons and also within the relations to other terms. If this were not the case, then a dictionary would not be possible, however, if language were something objective then dictionaries would never have to be updated and language wouldn’t have a history.
All language of God must be consistent with the following axioms. These are not rationally derived claims about reality, rather they are arbitrarily defined statements that other statements must be consistent with. No claim about the existence of such an object, or the meaningfulness of such a subject is claimed or implied apriori.

1) The initiator and sustainer of all existence. Everything else is dependent upon for action, life, knowledge, awareness, feelings, thoughts, experiences of anything that exists.
2) Essentially unique (only one class of objects can be defined by these axioms, so all other statements must be structured consistently with this one, and that class of objects has only one element in its set).
3) Created Things undergo differentiation of states, while the Creator does not.
4) The classes of knowledge about God that are Existential and Subjective comprise a set that is a finite subset of the set of “God”. As such, this subset is not sufficient to completely define God and is therefore not equivalent to the identity of God in any way, but neither is it outside of domain of “God’s knowledge”. We can no more say that having a subset of a class of sets in common with God makes us “like God” any more than we can say that rocks have emotions. We just aren’t of the same class of existence. We have no way to relate in that capacity.
5) A rationally warranted theorem is consistent with these axioms #1 - #4 and is justified by a person’s own subjective and existential knowledge.

Corollary 1:
Infinitely many attributes that are necessarily defined by these axioms (comprises an infinite set within the unique set of the class of objects declared in #2)

Corollary 2:
Essentially incomplete as a formal object defined by sets

Let’s discuss the significance of constructing such a set, from both a structural and meaningful perspective. God is infinitely and arbitrarily unique. The use of self-referential structures, such Set Theory, to objectively and arbitrarily establish certain criteria together with reflexive language, we have a consistent and thorough methodology to both allow private experience to be valid within its own domain and still provide an inter-subjective discipline to compare, contrast, and judge other’s beliefs. In the set of criteria #1 - #6, a procedure is possible to define an infinite set of properties for God that are necessarily unique. All that we need to inspect then is whether it is also interesting.

God cannot be exhaustively defined in the manner described above. It is not possible to say about God in a self-consistent manner, through the structures of Set Theory along, everything about God that is valid. Sometimes language itself is even inadequate. Set Theory is a meaningless structuring of arbitrarily defined statements that characterize a class of objects. However, there is a personal and unique, and essentially private language of one’s own attachment to God. From anyone else’s perspective it is desire that validates your attachment. But this also at the core of human experience. Validating human experience requires that judgment calls need to be made to resolve a meaning for the subjects we relate to our objects. The structure of the axioms is simply a very intriguing and unique set of definitions and corollaries that describes a unique object. The axioms themselves are arbitrary and in fact are defined by our intellect, which settles upon rationally warranted axioms, and cannot avoid doing so through validating something about our experience of reality. This is a valid form of reflexivity in language and self-reference in our formal definitions. One cannot leave the other half out of our formal inspection of a subject/object relationship, such as the one between us and the explanation for why there is something, rather than nothing.

This is ultimately the purpose that I imbue into this procedure. It allows a practical approach to discussing the reason for existence and also the facts about existence. We have therefore the following proposition:

Proposition 1:
Either one attributes the facts of existence to something other than everything that undergoes differentiations of states, or else there is only the fact of the differentiation of states.

When God is called The Truly Real (Al-Haqq) what we acribe to God simply defines what is validated as being the Reason for Reality. However, this is an arbitrary choice. Evidentiary persuation is only possible within one of the two paradigms. All one can do is make a choice to commit to one concept of reality, or the other. The selection of those axioms are logically arbitrary, but the characteristics of how we relate to things is existentially significantly different as a result, and in a venn diagram sense, there is no overlap of the two categories.

The God-alternative is that reality is always and only differentiation. There is no a-differential state that can be formally defined because it is by definition a null-set in this proposed alternative. Instead there is an infinite set of differentiated states and our own unique perspective of reality composes a part of that set. The structure of meaning is completely defined within our own frame of reference and if two people agree on what is The Most Important Thing in the Universe between one another, it is entirely accidental from a “structural” perspective, but it retains rich structure in the interpersonal domain of subjective and existential experience. It is “what these people agree to keep between themselves”.

It is also important to emphasize that God cannot be completely defined because each unique attribute is given meaningful expression within the private language and experience realm. Some self-consistent statements about God (an infinitely many) are knowable only within the language of private experience. There is no external validation necessary because it is only subject to these criteria: imagined, occurring (to us), recalled. What is distinguished in the God-belief is that a proper, unique non-null set of statements can share criteria between one another in a necessary and sufficient formal way. It isn’t just what we “agree to keep between ourselves”, but “what we are compelled to incorporate in order to agree on the framework of how our experiences will be mediated”. An entirely different ontology composed of: necessary, sufficient, complete, and essentially incomplete, will emanate from the God-perspective. However, this is not sufficient to be a culturally-bound, historically-bound, linguistically-bound, perspective on God’s Religion.

This is how most people relate to God, but it is inextricably bound up in subjectivity because of the priority in the epistemology: possible, existent, axiomatic, that reverses the significance of the possible and the existent when it cannot discuss God first in an objective framework upon which we dress our personal attachments to the words. To first insist upon someone else completely understanding our inner vocabulary and compromising to something to “keep between ourselves” undermines God. People of God must insist on the proper hierarchy of knowledge or else the subjective domain of: meaningful, probable, warranted, desirable, preferred, cannot be resolved without someone submitting to the will of someone else. It is not a problem to relate to people in this way, but when it is the ONLY way to relate in the meaningful aspects of our lives, we reject God.

Our experience of God is not God. However, we must refer to God in our private language because we are always tied to our experiences to shape our knowledge of Reality, and God’s Knowledge is part of that Reality. This language therefore refers to God’s Knowledge which encompasses our knowledge, but cannot be exhaustively defined by it, even if an infinite number of humans, or superhuman, were to be conceived.

Corollary 1: (re-stated)
God has infinitely many attributes that properly meet the criteria defined by the axioms of this definition.


Corollary 2: (re-stated)
The set of all statements about the God-set domain are essentially incomplete because it is formally inexhaustible when self-consistent in the axiomatic ontology proposed here.

Corollary 3:
God is physically inexhaustible and is both independent of physical differentiation and also necessary for physical differentiation

“The Zeroth Axiom”:
God is so unique that it exclusively refers to an identity that is necessarily unique

Nothing except what is consistent within the semantic structure of God can be consistent with any of the other categories of knowledge of God. God does not undergo differentiation therefore all language pertaining to an order or sequence of events (i.e. Creation, Revelation, etc.) is a consequence of our own differentiation and is simply a metaphorical allegiance, though it may have tight correlations with our experiences (i.e. God’s Favour, God’s Wrath, God’s Provisioning, God’s Expanding, God’s Hearing, God’s Seeing, …or else the “heavens expanding”, and “creation rejoices”, etc.). The same is true of language that indicates upon a spatial dimension to God (i.e. God’s Throne, God’s Hand, etc.). Differentiation is a characterization of all things that occupy time and space. God is not in need of time and space to be a self-consistent statement about the Creator and creation. It is a superfluous element for God but obviously something very meaningful to us. This is our clue as to how to structure our hierarchy of knowledge if we want to be people of God.

God is that which instantiates and permits all things in Creation. We distinguish between God having the knowledge of our experiences from participating in them in the manner that our intention participates in the action. This is free will. Predestination (God knowing, instantiating, and permitting all things to occur and not being limited in time and space) is not inconsistent with free will. We should not doubt our free will as the ability to intentionally relate to others. This is completely consistent with our experience. What we say is that God is capable of knowing every possible thing about Reality and is powerful over all things, and everything is dependent upon God in every conceivable way of being. It is God that decides which intentions are enacted and which realities transpire, but our intention is independent of this differentiation of time and space. Our intention occupies only the current moment. We have tremendous difficulty saying really much more in terms of meaningful, intersubjective, reflexive language than that simple statement about free will. Yet much is realized about our intentional state of being that escapes linguistic categories of being. Reality is rich with meaning, though we cannot say much about it, by comparison.

The reality of predestination and free will is that every possible choice and every possible permutation of actions is knowable by God and is only permitted and only possible by God. Even our awareness and knowledge qualifies in this way. Our choice is real, but it has only been permitted to occur because God has decreed it. It simply happens to be the case that God chose that moment and that outcome to match with when your intention occurred. It is clearly not the case that everything you intend will occur. We do not have freedom of actions, not even our self-awareness, nor our knowledge. Any state of knowledge, awareness, or experience is a result of God’s decree and instantiation and sustaining. It is also “by His Favour and Mercy”. God may decree for a person to achieve their intention – or not – and that the resultant state is not due to our free will.

Our will is real, not an illusion. It isn’t a meaningful claim in this ontology with God to say that our will is an illusion – it just isn’t a semantically valid statement because the subject is subjectively defined by the experience of our will and it occupies a necessary space in the existential definitions that characterize the axioms. Our will is – by definition – that experience of intending something in the moment, projected to a past, or future/imagined state. This is necessarily a private state of existence. We do not have a shared existence with other presumed “selves”, so we can never actually know just by our experience alone that other people have the same intentional state of current awareness – or whatever private, subjective words you would prefer to use to simply say that “I exist” isn’t an absurd basis to certain kinds of knowledge. But we can have a rationally warranted belief that other people “exist”. This isn’t absurd, either, and it’s certainly a possibility, so nothing logically prohibits it and there is no other way to resolve the matter anyway.

Another matter that is rationally warranted, not absurd, certainly possible, and not logically prohibited is that God can share in meaningful communication with us by some means. The only issue at stake here is the trouble with defining a set of criteria to distinguish divine messages from profane ones. This is entirely a matter of persuasion. There is no objective criteria that we can use here to project the same criteria to others. This distinction hinges too much on the subjective, inner-states. However, we might agree on some things all the same. This is something that we will share between ourselves! This is religion.

A rationally warranted notion is that God can communicate with us, so we may ask ourselves, who speaks in the Name of God? Who, or what is God’s Messenger? The truth is that we can never fully encompass or fathom what the relationship is like between God’s Messenger and God Almighty. We are not actually capable of questioning this, only receiving information if we trust in the Message and believe that the Messenger is authentic. We can form this belief for our own reasons. This is between us and God. We can testify and unify on this principle, but each of us has to come to our own terms with the Message AND with God’s Messenger, may God Peace and Blessings be upon him and upon his family.

The Quran is consistent with everything stated here. It is rational to believe that God is revealing knowledge to us through the Quran of matters that are possible and not in contradiction with our statements about God that we have established here.

This belief that The Quran is a Message from God Almighty requires us to consent and explore based on our own criteria for evidence. However, we cannot inductively prove that the Quran is conveying knowledge from – and evidence for – God. It is not possible to completely define a list of criteria that necessarily excludes any other possibility. In this domain of knowledge alone any possible explanation has a sufficient warrant for belief based on subjective observations, but we can never agree on what is sufficient since our subjectivity is not a pathway to resolve a hierarchy. The order of things is knowledge from God. In this regard it is necessarily a matter of persuasion not compulsion or accidental outcome from an equation.

If we accept the Book because we accept the Message then rationally we can also be persuaded that the Messenger who was the vessel through which the knowledge was revealed is also telling the truth about being ordained by God and called to deliver a message, of faith in One God, and of doing good and prohibiting evil, and service; and that we are here to be in harmony with God, and that we will face a day of reckoning with those who are in harmony receiving rewards beyond imagining, and those who are not in harmony facing a terrible punishment.

It is a warranted belief that the Messenger – a slave to God, like all of us – would be a pinnacle of human harmony with God and their character would persuade us that their message of truth and their mission to lead and inspire us towards God, is an example for us and a path for us to struggle upon and strive for. And it is God’s Favour and Mercy that He draws us near, not a merit of our actions. God selects his Messengers and He provides for his Messengers to deliver the Message and lead us on the path to harmony with God. For this we say that God has protected His Messengers from deviating in the message and in the delivery of the message.

And if we believe in and accept all of this, then we have accepted the meaning of the testimony of faith in Islam, “there is no deity but God, and Muhammad is God’s Messenger” – God willing.

-sgttomas

This post continued on from a discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1734
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby QuantumTroll on Tue Aug 12, 2014 5:09 am

Your "categories" seem to be more of "categorisations", i.e. different ways of categorising rather than categories in a single framework. I would have called them something else, because one expects different categories not to overlap so completely and to be comparable to one another. Just a quibble only :)

I'm with you until you come to the first 5 axioms, then I need some clarification. If I understand you correctly, for language to be about God, they must be consistent with these axioms. If I say something that contradicts one or more of these axioms, I'm not talking about God. In a sense, these axioms are a tool to keep us on topic with the essentials.

If I'm correct in my understanding, then perhaps you will anticipate that some people will quibble about them. Take #4, for instance, I think some people would disagree when you say that we are not "like God" any more than a rock has emotions. "Made in God's image" and so forth. Anyway, I'm prepared to accept your set of axioms to talk about your God, even if it's not everyone's God.

I understand and agree with you that it's impossible to keep writing axioms until you're done describing God. One can only say "these things are not God, because God is like so".

I don't follow the discussion behind the statement "This is ultimately the purpose that I imbue into this procedure." Unfortunately, I don't understand what the purpose is, or what exactly you refer to with "this procedure". Please help!

Your distinction between (what I see as) free will and the free exercise of will is very cool. It sounds like it resolves the double-think common in the mainstream Christian school of thought, where God is omnipotent and wants you to go to Heaven but lets you go to Hell, but I think I need to mull it over before I buy it completely. In any case, your version rhymes more harmoniously with my emergist/physicalist view.

"The only issue at stake here is the trouble with defining a set of criteria to distinguish divine messages from profane ones." Heh, the only issue. Such a tiny little issue. Teensy. ;)

A nice and honest ending. If your subjective experience is that God is telling you something, and it feels consistent and right, then go ahead and believe it. That's a good message. Taken as a whole, this post is unusual in the way it starts off so esoteric and cold and ends on such a human note, still general but bordering on a personal confession of faith.
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby Metacrock on Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:49 am

begining of a great discussion. unfortunately I'm in the process of moving and time is short. I don't know if I have time for it. I'll try to make as much as I can. that first post is really long and so full of stuff (good stuff) it deserves and needs a lot of thinking about it.

I will take some time to answer. I do agree that our thinking about God is limited by our experiences. I also think that we experience God at a subconscious level so we don't often know we have done so. the experiences creep into conscious thought by filtration through cultural constructs and probably by analogy and reminder by the constructs.

our thinking about God is always limited to culture but our experience of God is not.
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby sgttomas on Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:41 pm

QuantumTroll wrote:Your "categories" seem to be more of "categorisations", i.e. different ways of categorising rather than categories in a single framework. I would have called them something else, because one expects different categories not to overlap so completely and to be comparable to one another. Just a quibble only :)


Yeah! That's a great suggestion! Thanks :)

I'm with you until you come to the first 5 axioms, then I need some clarification. If I understand you correctly, for language to be about God, they must be consistent with these axioms. If I say something that contradicts one or more of these axioms, I'm not talking about God. In a sense, these axioms are a tool to keep us on topic with the essentials.

If I'm correct in my understanding, then perhaps you will anticipate that some people will quibble about them. Take #4, for instance, I think some people would disagree when you say that we are not "like God" any more than a rock has emotions. "Made in God's image" and so forth. Anyway, I'm prepared to accept your set of axioms to talk about your God, even if it's not everyone's God.


Yup!!! My God. And the only "god" that will fit the definition of The Creator of the Universe. If I have defined an object that is necessarily unique, and it has the property of being the Creator, then no other "gods" can be the Creator. And when there is a competing claim being made, we should explore the semantic structure of that god and see where it has gone wrong!

:)

I understand and agree with you that it's impossible to keep writing axioms until you're done describing God. One can only say "these things are not God, because God is like so".


*phew* That's a relief. ...when people don't "get it" this is a rather cumbersome thing to explain, but I hoped that you would understand what I was alluding to. This is indeed what I was alluding to.

I don't follow the discussion behind the statement "This is ultimately the purpose that I imbue into this procedure." Unfortunately, I don't understand what the purpose is, or what exactly you refer to with "this procedure". Please help!


Ah...okay I'll have to re-work this section. Thank you! :)

........more or less, I mean the experience that you found when you said the following: "Taken as a whole, this post is unusual in the way it starts off so esoteric and cold and ends on such a human note, still general but bordering on a personal confession of faith."

And 'this procedure' means the internal consistency of that experience. The purpose is to allow that kind of meaning to be expressed and shared with people who don't believe in God and who don't even have the conceptual framework to properly address the subject. I think somewhere I told you that I was going to try and write a secular account of God, or something like that. This is a secular account of God that I think a believer and a non-believer can approach and use as a framework for discussion with intellectual vigor and personal validation.

Your distinction between (what I see as) free will and the free exercise of will is very cool. It sounds like it resolves the double-think common in the mainstream Christian school of thought, where God is omnipotent and wants you to go to Heaven but lets you go to Hell, but I think I need to mull it over before I buy it completely. In any case, your version rhymes more harmoniously with my emergist/physicalist view.


Cool! :)

This is something that I personally worked through, to ensure its consistency, and I believe it is actually what is real. It also happens to be the orthodox position in Islamic intellectual thinking, and its full articulation has been around for over a thousand years. If you have more questions, hopefully I can grasp something of an answer.

"The only issue at stake here is the trouble with defining a set of criteria to distinguish divine messages from profane ones." Heh, the only issue. Such a tiny little issue. Teensy. ;)


lol ;)

Remember, this is your own private criteria. I think it is compelling to consider that both the God and not-God option are arbitrary choices. It is *either* this or that, but you just have to pick one and then see how it works out for you. Live a day or two inside the God world, maybe it brings something to mind regarding who you think should be bringing you a message from Him. It's literally impossible to figure this out without that framework of God in place. Even just as an intellectual exercise, you need to live within that world with those possibilities, and accept that those possibilities are completely valid within that world, or nothing at all can be distinguished when it comes to God's Messengers. You can't just port over your value set from the non-God world. It runs on a different operating system :P

My experience of the transition from a non-God world to a God belief (and others have said the same) is that we have all attested to this "after the fact" justification of a choice that we simply decided we had to make, to accept the premise and see where it led us. What I like about the structure of the argument I presented here is that it shows this to be a completely normal process. It isn't a "leap of faith", it's just flipping the switch of that arbitrary choice. It's completely rationally warranted and there is absolutely no subjective criteria that *necessitates* the switch.

A nice and honest ending. If your subjective experience is that God is telling you something, and it feels consistent and right, then go ahead and believe it. That's a good message.


Just as I can unpack some misconceptions that "unbelievers" have about the God proposition, so too can this argument unpack misconceptions that believers have about their own faith! This allows me to appreciate a talk like this: http://www.ted.com/talks/lesley_hazleto ... =ios-share

....where other people have fundamental problems with what she is saying. While I don't agree with everything specifically, the gist of her talk is completely inline with my essay.

I think this is very important.

Thanks so much for reading through the essay and sharing your thoughts! Ultimately I did this for myself, but I truly wanted to complete this work and share it with you too. And if you have any more thoughts, criticisms, suggestions, etc, I am most grateful.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby sgttomas on Tue Aug 12, 2014 7:42 pm

Metacrock wrote:begining of a great discussion. unfortunately I'm in the process of moving and time is short. I don't know if I have time for it. I'll try to make as much as I can. that first post is really long and so full of stuff (good stuff) it deserves and needs a lot of thinking about it.


Thanks Metacrock! I look forward to your answer - God willing.

-sgtt
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby QuantumTroll on Wed Aug 13, 2014 2:31 am

sgttomas wrote:
QuantumTroll wrote:Your "categories" seem to be more of "categorisations", i.e. different ways of categorising rather than categories in a single framework. I would have called them something else, because one expects different categories not to overlap so completely and to be comparable to one another. Just a quibble only :)


Yeah! That's a great suggestion! Thanks :)

I'm with you until you come to the first 5 axioms, then I need some clarification. If I understand you correctly, for language to be about God, they must be consistent with these axioms. If I say something that contradicts one or more of these axioms, I'm not talking about God. In a sense, these axioms are a tool to keep us on topic with the essentials.

If I'm correct in my understanding, then perhaps you will anticipate that some people will quibble about them. Take #4, for instance, I think some people would disagree when you say that we are not "like God" any more than a rock has emotions. "Made in God's image" and so forth. Anyway, I'm prepared to accept your set of axioms to talk about your God, even if it's not everyone's God.


Yup!!! My God. And the only "god" that will fit the definition of The Creator of the Universe. If I have defined an object that is necessarily unique, and it has the property of being the Creator, then no other "gods" can be the Creator. And when there is a competing claim being made, we should explore the semantic structure of that god and see where it has gone wrong!


Ok, now I see my reservation more clearly. I think you should go through the axioms and clean them up. Strip any and all added-on thoughts and conclusions from the axioms and let them stand clear and alone. Axioms should be independent from one another and axioms are atomic assertions with as few symbols as possible. In #4, for instance, you've added interpretation that should go elsewhere, because if someone disagrees with your interpretation (which introduces a load of new concepts and language) then they disagree with your axioms and suddenly you no longer think they worship the unique Creator. Careful with that. Similarly, #3 can be condensed into "The Creator is static/stateless/does not undergo differentiation of states" (it may be worth it having a short discussion about your choice of wording). If it is important that Creation does undergo "differentiation of states", then in my opinion that should be a new axiom. Etc etc.

To be clear, I agree with the gist of what you're saying.

SNIP

Well well well, it looks like we've had a fruitful exchange of ideas. I get what you're saying, and you get that I get what you're saying. What more is there to say? Lots more, that's what. But I'll leave that for another time, while I let these things settle. I've got some little hooks, niggling wiggling bits that are telling me something, but they're not quite bubbling up to my consciousness yet. They will, though, sooner or later they always do.
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby sgttomas on Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:25 am

QuantumTroll wrote:Ok, now I see my reservation more clearly. I think you should go through the axioms and clean them up. Strip any and all added-on thoughts and conclusions from the axioms and let them stand clear and alone. Axioms should be independent from one another and axioms are atomic assertions with as few symbols as possible. In #4, for instance, you've added interpretation that should go elsewhere, because if someone disagrees with your interpretation (which introduces a load of new concepts and language) then they disagree with your axioms and suddenly you no longer think they worship the unique Creator. Careful with that. Similarly, #3 can be condensed into "The Creator is static/stateless/does not undergo differentiation of states" (it may be worth it having a short discussion about your choice of wording). If it is important that Creation does undergo "differentiation of states", then in my opinion that should be a new axiom. Etc etc.


This is very helpful. Thank you.

Well well well, it looks like we've had a fruitful exchange of ideas. I get what you're saying, and you get that I get what you're saying. What more is there to say? Lots more, that's what. But I'll leave that for another time, while I let these things settle. I've got some little hooks, niggling wiggling bits that are telling me something, but they're not quite bubbling up to my consciousness yet. They will, though, sooner or later they always do.


Time for a nature walk.... ;)

-sgtt
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby sgttomas on Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:37 am

Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby QuantumTroll on Tue Aug 26, 2014 4:16 am

I've got a couple of things for you. One is a short story, written but in need of revision, which I hope to release next week (edit: here!). It's fantasy, set in a different universe than ours, but it deals with universal (omniversal?) questions of faith, doubt, meaning, and loss.

The other thing is, unfortunately, the age-old protest of atheists: what makes your faith special? You've touched upon this in the claim that the Quran describes God in a way that is consistent with your axioms.

I would charge that it is your interpretation of the Quran that is consistent with your axioms. Other people's interpretations are not necessarily consistent with those axioms. Moreover, I claim that there are interpretations of the Bible and other religious and secular (!) texts and schools of thought that are consistent with your axioms. Therefore, I would say that the Quran isn't special in itself. Other traditions are equally special to other people. In my opinion, in order to maintain intellectual honesty, your discussion must include (and preferably conclude with) this reality.

((Another way to look at this is to turn things around. It is immediately obvious that people all around the world have experiences of God and faiths that are (to them) meaningful and (sufficiently) self-consistent. If the axioms you've listed are to be meaningful, then it must be possible to map this variety of God conceptions to those axioms. Assuming that this is the case (i.e. assuming both you haven't made the axioms too restrictive and that we can construct this mapping), then we can turn things back around and see that your axioms actually lead in all kinds of directions, not only Islam.

Hmm, in writing the previous paragraph I realized that it resembles circular reasoning, but I'll leave it, albeit inside these apologetic double parentheses.))
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Re: Knowledge of God in Islam

Postby sgttomas on Sat Aug 30, 2014 7:31 am

lol....I had this habit of always doing Ctrl+C before hitting "Preview" or "Submit" on my posts....but it's been so long since I've posted here regularly that I forgot why, and I got lazy recently. Now I remember! If you take too long to reply and you time out, then you lose everything that you wrote!!

AWESOME!!!!

:evil:

QuantumTroll wrote:I've got a couple of things for you. One is a short story, written but in need of revision, which I hope to release next week (edit: here!). It's fantasy, set in a different universe than ours, but it deals with universal (omniversal?) questions of faith, doubt, meaning, and loss.


I really liked this story. I found it an open and honest assessment of our experience of things. I can relate directly to the characters involved, and I think that this inner experience is a defining characteristic of humanity.

There is also some delicious irony in a fiction story that is literally about the interplay of narrative and theology. :)

Her is where things really peaked for me:

“Is it meaningful?” he began, “This searching for literary devices? Aren’t we just picking out patterns in meaningless chaos? Confirming only the things that fit the pattern we seek, ignoring or denying all the things that don’t? How do you know that the Scribe is real?”

“Does a mathematician ascribe geometric forms to the natural world merely according to how she sees, or does the natural world actually follow those forms? Or is it something in between?”

And you introduced another great theme here:

“I see what you’re thinking, but it doesn’t work that way. For one, you can’t break character. For another, there’s always a story. I think abandoning Iria would be your undoing, and only make her death more certain.”

....which addresses the conundrum of God's foreknowledge and the reality of fate.

And what would we do without a resounding sense of metaphysical dread about fate and God in light of suffering in the world:

As for myself, I knew that I would lie sleepless that night and question why an all-powerful creator would prioritize a riveting story above the life of a little girl and her father’s love.

This definitely leaves me curious about The Scribe and how this narrative structure became established into a religion! :) What you should do to really challenge yourself is to write one of the characters as a true believer, and try to explore this in equally open and honest way. Is it all just pattern recognition? You left this question open, though the character we see from the first-person perspective doesn't really know how to answer it. How do you see the character evolving?

Quantum Troll wrote:The other thing is, unfortunately, the age-old protest of atheists: what makes your faith special? You've touched upon this in the claim that the Quran describes God in a way that is consistent with your axioms.


Well, I told you about that though. It's that "little matter" I spoke about ("The only issue at stake here is the trouble with defining a set of criteria to distinguish divine messages from profane ones.")

My interpretation may or may not be interesting to you. I didn't really explain myself here, and for a reason. While my desire to convey the beauty of Islam and invite people to it is a central driver in my life, what I see in our contemporary culture is a complete lack of language that properly articulates what I mean by "God" in this essay. So many ways and places we see "God" used. ....have people asked for an inspected one another's definition for this term?

It isn't just God. We have real trouble in giving an account of knowledge and reality in a self-consistent manner. If we can't do that, well then why are we rushing ahead to explore the religions that are supposed to be based on knowledge and reality???

Quantum Troll wrote:I would charge that it is your interpretation of the Quran that is consistent with your axioms. Other people's interpretations are not necessarily consistent with those axioms. Moreover, I claim that there are interpretations of the Bible and other religious and secular (!) texts and schools of thought that are consistent with your axioms. Therefore, I would say that the Quran isn't special in itself. Other traditions are equally special to other people. In my opinion, in order to maintain intellectual honesty, your discussion must include (and preferably conclude with) this reality.

((Another way to look at this is to turn things around. It is immediately obvious that people all around the world have experiences of God and faiths that are (to them) meaningful and (sufficiently) self-consistent. If the axioms you've listed are to be meaningful, then it must be possible to map this variety of God conceptions to those axioms. Assuming that this is the case (i.e. assuming both you haven't made the axioms too restrictive and that we can construct this mapping), then we can turn things back around and see that your axioms actually lead in all kinds of directions, not only Islam.

Hmm, in writing the previous paragraph I realized that it resembles circular reasoning, but I'll leave it, albeit inside these apologetic double parentheses.))


Well, I'd like you to unpack this circularity a bit more. If you look back at our original essay, the words "circular reasoning" and "recursive knowledge" came up there too. The appearance of some kind of circularity is not something I try to avoid - in other words, the recursion of knowledge is something I specifically structured. Our awareness informs our selection of axioms and this in turn informs our awareness. It's a rather awkward state of affairs, but when dealt with properly, it opens up very productive avenues of thought.

One thing I will say, however, is that the particular attribute of "The God" that I lay out in this essay do impose some exclusive domains. By analogy, we would say that defining a circle precludes it from being a square, so too can I rightfully say that "The God" excludes other deities from consideration. This isn't an exclusion by preference but by necessity. I agree that one does not have to adopt this definition for "The Creator", but I believe I am justified in saying that any competing claims to Creation need to be help up to mine for comparison. If "The Creator" is a justified attribute of "The God" that I lay out here, then it is a necessary attribute of that which exclusively accounts for existence and everything in it. Hence the expression "there is no god but Allah". It isn't a claim of hubris, it's an expression of the comprehensiveness of "The God" in comparison to other powers and beings that stake claim to existence and independence.

Having said that, I am not closing off as many avenues of inquiry as it may seem at first. The non-God world is a distinct, valid option in my essay. A lot can be accomplished there.

....tons more I hope we can get into, but I have to cut this off here for now.

Peace,
-sgttomas
Prophet Muhammad (God send peace and blessings upon him) is reported to have said, "God says 'I am as My servant thinks I am' " ~ Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol 9 #502 (Chapter 93, "Oneness of God")
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