Welcome back, Warren!

You mention the importance of thinking. Does any person who is a serious thinker deny the mystery of life? That what we call nature, or reality, is filled with, and animated by, a unified mystery called life, soul or spirit?

We know it has a connection with all the elements--including those in water--but especially with to the element, oxygen, which is in the wind and the very air we breathe--the breath of life. Every few seconds we must breathe, in and out, in and out, or there is no life. I know and affirm the reality of this life, this air, this spirit with every breath I take.

Want to teach children how important this idea of the breath of life is? Tell them to take a deep breath and see how long they can live without taking in the next one. As a child, this object lesson--the relating of breath, life and spirit--was a profound one. Since then, I think of every breath as what I call a meta-prayer--bringing the beyond within.

The Greek for air, wind and breath is pneuma. From it we get pneumatic, pneumonia and pneumatology. The Hebrew is ruach, the Arabic is ruh, and the Latin is spirito--and all include the god-idea. It is from the Latin we get the English word, spirit. If you don't like the word 'God', Spirit will do.

It is not by accident that sophisticated ancient philosophers, like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, had a similar view of life and spirit. They related it to the powerful idea behind all life--which, to avoid making an idol with my mind, I like to call GOD (an acronym, not a noun).

For me, this gets rid of the baggage connected with words like god, gods and God. Jewish writers write 'G-d' for the same reason. Because in ancient HEBREW all letters were capitals, ancient writers used the plural, ELOHIM (all the power there is), to make this special point.
YHWH --referring to GOD as spiritual power and consciousness within us--was so sacred that they refused to say it out loud. Modern Orthodox Jews carry on this tradition to this day.

Of course, ancient thinkers denied the existence of gods who lived on mountains, in idols, planets and stars--the kind of gods believed in by those who were non-thinkers and who were superstitious. Keep in mind that one of the reasons Socrates was executed was because he was accused of being an atheist.


GOD AND THE PHILOSOPHERS
http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer/athenians.html


Here is a quote from the above:

"According to Plato, the phenomenal world strives to become ideal, perfect, complete. Ideals are, in that sense, a motivating force. In fact, he identifies the ideal with God and perfect goodness.

"God creates the world out of "materia" (raw material, matter) and shapes it according to his “plan” or “blueprint” -- ideas or the ideal. If the world is not perfect, it is not because of God or the ideals, but because the raw materials were not perfect."
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I think you can see why the early Christian church made Plato an honorary Christian, even though he died three and a half centuries before Christ!


Plato's thinking applies the same dichotomy to human beings: There’s the body, which is material, mortal, and “moved”--a victim of causation. Then there’s the soul, which is ideal, immortal, and “unmoved”--enjoying freedom of the will.


"The soul includes reason, of course, as well as self-awareness and moral sense. Plato says the soul will always choose to do good, if it recognizes what is good."
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This is a similar conception of good and bad as the Buddhists have: Rather than bad being sin, it is considered a matter of ignorance. So, someone who does something bad requires education, not punishment.

I TRY TO AVOID BEING RIGID IN MATTERS OF THE SPIRIT
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Eastern religions--most of which are non-theistic--teach that the soul is drawn to the good, the ideal--what I call GOD--all that is good, orderly and desirable. And I have no opposition to believing that it is possible that we gradually move closer and closer to GOD through reincarnation, as well as in our individual lives.

Our ethical goal in life is resemblance to that which is GOD-like--good, orderly and desirable--that which is the pure world of ideas and ideals. The more this happens, the more we liberate ourselves from matter, time, and space, and become real in this deeper sense of the word. Our goal is, in other words, what some call self-realization.

Are your interested in being a good, moral and loving person but not comfortable with god-talk? Call it Reality, Nature, or make up your own word, or words--one for every day of the year. Have fun with matters of the Spirit--ultimate freedom.


Edited by Revlgking (04/08/10 05:37 AM)
Edit Reason: Always helps to clarify things
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G~O~D--Now & ForeverIS:Nature, Nurture & PNEUMA-ture, Thanks to Warren Farr&ME AT www.unitheist.org