belief in a personal god

through my twitter connection @UUsoul i came across a post on the topic of a personal god at celestial lands. i figured that rather than replying, i’ll comment in a post here.

david from celestial lands says

i believe that there is no division in god, that every moment of every day we are intimately involved with god; in a flight of birds, in a breath of wind, in a cab driver who cuts us off, in a moment on the zen cushions… all one, all god. we are a part of god, and nothing can be more intimate than this. god is a holy spirit that is intimately involved in all things, and we are intimately involved in the part of god we can touch and sense.

however, god does not, in any personal way, know that we exist as individuals. i wonder whether god is even capable of “knowing” in any human sense. more, my faith in god does not require god’s knowing of me. i am “known” simply in my being, along with all of being, and together we are becoming… and becoming… and becoming. to me, nothing could be more intimate than this.

my reply:

very interesting!

if i may spin this a little further, in a bit of a free-association way …

i can have a personal relationship with (a) god, believing on an intellectual level that god mostly IS, as you describe it, yet allowing myself to imagine some sort of intelligent god, which makes the interaction easier. (an analogy: i know that the number 1,000,000,000,000,000 exists but i am not capable of imagining more than 7 discrete things at a time) (wow – i’ve never written it down like that before. talk about the limitations of being a human animal!)

if my guiding principle is that god simply IS and add to that the belief that god is infinite, then i can invite all sorts of imaginary, emotional and intellectual helpmates. for example, i can be open to and play with the possibility of god having some sort of intelligence, consciousness, or even power of intervention.

is this related to the idea of “i believe THAT god” rather than “i believe IN god”?


  1. so god must be evolution or electro-dynamics or fractals. but i guess god is not the final cause of all just present in all!! Amusing in a way!

    Did I see that you recognized National Cleavage Day?

  2. aah, what a free-sassociation reply to my free-association reply 🙂

    i don’ t know that god “must” be anything but i sure see god in the things you mentioned, easier than, say, in vanity fair magazine, mcdonalds or insurance companies 🙂

    is god the final cause? honestly, that’s a question that has never interested me much. again, maybe, a case of me being more interested in that “that” of god than in the “how”.

    cleavage? what? where? how?

  3. The important part of the personal god I think is that this brings the possibility of compassion – always a response to an individual.

    I’m not sure a god who lacks (even the possibility of) compassion is worth the name.

    PS. National cleavage day?

  4. why is compassion only a response to an individual? i feel/understand/know/experience compassion as something which breaks down all individual barriers and so to be compassionate to one is to be compassionate to all…

    which nation? which cleavage?!

  5. I challenge your ‘only’ Sarah. Also the ‘all’ (in one sense). I know there are big discussions involved. For me individuality is precious.

    If I understand what you are saying compassion breaks barriers between you and others. I think this is what compassion does.

    For me compassion means relating to this individual before me. I do think being compassionate to all means being compassionate to this one. Tossing back the one starfish or giving my time to this person. I trust this makes sense.

    My guess is that we don’t disagree about meeting individuals. We may disagree about metaphysics and how we express our experience (or maybe not).

  6. Hi Evan – sorry for changing your ‘always’ to ‘only’!

    I expressed myself badly last night I think, you wrote

    “The important part of the personal god I think is that this brings the possibility of compassion – always a response to an individual.”

    and my point is really that you do not need a personal god to bring the possibility of compassion – although you are probably right in that you do need an individual. Through compassion for that individual you discover that the individual is all and all are in the individual and so compassion goes beyond division – which is where, I imagine, we might meet ‘god’.

    Individuality is precious to me too, and I am sure we agree on the practical level. I don’t know what you mean with the starfish – but it sounds like a good idea 🙂

  7. The ‘starfish’ was the story of the man who sees a beach full of starfish and another man throwing back into the sea one starfish at a time. The man (seeing the beach full of starfish) says, “you’re not making any difference to all these starfish”. The reply being, “It makes a difference to this one”.

    I think we meet god in and through the specific individual. We go beyond individuality to meet (another) individual I think. It seems to me that differences can have positive value. Division means good sex and novel discovery as well as indifference and cruelty. This is a big discussion I think – but an important one.

    Evan’s last blog post..Pagan and Christian

  8. Difference is totally positive to me, as is individuality – I suppose I am talking about levels – a human level and a spiritual one, which is a truth that kind of co-exists – on this level we are all one, but it’s an intricate kind of vastness – not that we are all ‘the same’… don’t think I am making much sense, this stuff is hard to talk about 😉

    like the starfish!

  9. so, god as process maybe…? god as the act, the happening rather than the before or after.

    uncountable but not outside the realms of that which we count. the path and not the place, and even then only present as your foot hits the ground…

    something like the insoluble presence that binds the knower and the known…?

    too many thoughts for such a little box here 🙂

    Catatonic Kid’s last blog post..Half full or empty, it?s still a daft question.

  10. Everyone sees God in a personal manner depending upon its culture, origins, intelligence, feelings, emotions and knowledge. So God is regarded differently by everyone. This is my opinion.

    Bogdan’s last blog post..Despre adevar?

  11. There is only one true God, but He might have as many faces/natures as there are persons contemplating Him!

    You can’t influence my perception of God, because it is based on personal experience, not theory or discussion; so I can’t attempt to influence yours.

    Anyone for sharing?

    Rhys’s last blog post..How to Preach

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