Is Evil Necessary in God’s World? (Richard Swinburne) (Part 1 of 2)

Richard Swinburne is the Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, University of Oxford. He is one of the leading analytic philosophers of religion and his contributions to Christian philosophy has been enormous. His first three books focused on the existence of God: The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason. Other books dealt with issues in philosophical theology, including The Christian God, The Problem of Evil, and The Evolution of the Soul.

Here is how Richard describes the traditional view of what God is like in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is also the kind of God to which his arguments lead. He states: “God is clearly supposed to be a personal being in the sense of someone with whom we interact. And the person is someone with powers. I’m a person because I can do certain things. God can do certain things but His powers are infinite. So He’s omnipotent, He can do anything. Being a person means that I have certain beliefs about the world. God has beliefs about the world but He has all true beliefs. So He knows everything. He’s omniscient. I can make choices between alternatives. That’s part of what makes me a person. So in that sense, I have a certain amount of freedom but of course, I’m influenced by irrational desires of various kinds and my freedom is limited. He has perfect freedom. He is not influenced by irrational desires or anything outside himself.

So He is a personal being who is omnipotent, omniscient and perfectly free. Anything lasts for a certain amount of time. I last for a certain amount of time. God lasts for an infinite amount of time and I prefer to construe that in saying He’s everlasting, He exists at all moments of past time, exists now and will exist at all moments of future time.

Though there is another way of construing that in a traditional saying that He exists outside of time. But however you construe this, let’s say He’s eternal. From these characteristics of God, omnipotent, omniscience and perfect freedom and eternity, there follow all the other traditional attributes of God.

For example, God is supposed to be perfectly good. Now given that He is omniscient, He will know what things are good and what things are bad and given that He is perfectly free, He will be not influenced to do anything except what He believes to be good and since He’s omniscient, He will have true beliefs about what is good. Recognizing something is good gives you a reason for doing it, and unless you are deterred by irrational desires, you will do it. So God will be perfectly good because He’s not influenced by irrational desires. He sees what is good and He will do it. God is omnipresent, He is present everywhere. And what that means is He is present by his power’s knowledge.

That’s to say, He’s aware of everything that’s happening everywhere and He can make a difference to everything that’s happening everywhere and it follows from His omnipotence that He has the ability to act at places not indirectly by sending a radio signal there, but directly. And it follows from His omniscience that He knows what’s going on everywhere. So He’s omnipresent. If there is a universe, it follows because He is omnipotent that it only exists because He allows it to exist. He is the creator of any universe there is.”

As to the atheistic charge that postulating an ethereal God just moves the problem up one level. Who created God? Richard answers: ” We do move the problem up. We ask why are there all these tables and chairs and so on? And the answer is because they are made of atoms and molecules. And they are the ultimate constituents. We go behind the visible thing to see what are the invisible things which are the ultimate constituents. And we go back in time to find the causes of things.

So looking for causes and constituencies is what science is all about. And it’s no objection to the existence of God. Even if it were the case that he needed explanation and we couldn’t explain him, it wouldn’t be any objection to postulating him. Because all that time, we are postulating causes when we cannot explain those causes. So who created God? The answer is, of course, given the traditional view of God, is that no one created God. If God has the traditional properties, those include God being omnipotent, that He is able to do everything, if there were something which created God, then something would have happened which God was not responsible for.

But if a being is omnipotent, then everything that happens either he allows it to happen or he brings it about. But if something created him, then something would have happened which he didn’t allow or didn’t bring about. So clearly, if there is a God, that’s the end of the explanatory ladder. If there is a God, then that explains everything. Nothing created God. That is the final terminus of the explanation of the universe. People can ask impossible questions but there is no further explanation.


Is Evil Necessary in God’s World? (Richard Swinburne) (Part 2 of 2)

How Is God The Creator? (1 of 2) (William Lane Craig)

Robert Lawrence Kuhn (host of “Closer to Truth”) asks William Lane Craig on the nature of God as creator of creation. Question(s) explored: What is creation witih respect to God? How does God’s providence work into creation? What is the difference between efficient and material causes? What is God’s conservation of the world? If something is created does it need to be sustained? What is meant by God’s creation and God’s annihilation of an object?

How Is God The Creator? (2 of 2) (William Lane Craig)

Robert Lawrence Kuhn (host of “Closer to Truth”) asks William Lane Craig on the nature of God as creator of creation. Question(s) explored: What’s God’s providence with respect to the created world? What is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary providence? What are miracles? Are miracles violation of natural laws? Does God do miracles today? Do we see them? If God intervenes in nature does that mean there was an imperfection in nature?What is the purpose of miracles?

Confucius, the Analects: The Path of the Sage–Selections Annotated & Explained ~ Rodney L. Taylor, PhD

Twenty-six centuries after their origination, the principles laid down in the Analects of Confucius still act as the foundation of Chinese philosophy, ethics, society and government, and play a formative role in the development of many Eastern philosophies. Confucius is revered as China’s greatest teacher and sage, and interest in his monumental teachings continues today.

In this intriguing look at the ethical and spiritual meaning of the Analects, Rodney L. Taylor, the foremost American researcher of Confucius as a religious and spiritual figure, explains why the Analects hold enduring and universal wisdom for our time. He shows how Confucius advocates learning and self-cultivation to follow “the path of the sage” or “way of Heaven”–a path that promises to promote reason, peace and understanding. Along with an updated version of the classic translation by sinologist James Legge, Taylor provides informative and accessible commentary that:
* Illuminates the meaning behind selected passages from the Analects as they relate to Chinese philosophy, ethical thought and religion/spirituality
* Explains common interpretations of the text and how they contribute to our current understanding of Chinese and Eastern philosophy, ethics and morality
* … and much more
Click Here To Browse Inside

Rodney L. Taylor, PhD, the foremost American researcher of Confucius as a religious and spiritual figure, is author of The Religious Dimensions of Confucianism and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism, among other books. He is professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he also served as director of Asian studies and chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

His books include: The Religious Dimensions of Confucianism; The Way of Heaven; The Confucian Way of Contemplation; The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism; Confucianism (high school text); The Cultivation of Sagehood as a Religious Goal in Neo-Confucianism; They Shall Not Hurt: Human Suffering and Human Caring (with Dr. Jean Watson); The Holy Book in Comparative Perspective (with Dr. Frederick Denny) and his most recent volume, Confucius, the Analects: The Path of the Sage from Skylight Paths.

The Self vs. Spiritual Growth ~ Margaret Placentra Johnston

Margaret Placentra Johnston

Growth to spiritual maturity can be defined as an ever-enlarging circle of concern. The first growth step, which typically happens in a healthy childhood, is to move from being concerned only with oneself (egocentric) to including people in one’s own group: one’s family, community, religion and nation (ethnocentric). The next step, typical in adolescence or early adulthood, prompts the person to include increasingly more — and eventually all — people in their circle of concern (worldcentric.) At the same time they may begin to care about and include animals, the environment and eventually the entire universe. At this point the person shuns anything that would divide him from others; unity is of prime importance. We say that person’s worldview is universal.

So what is it that causes this expansion, this spiritual growth? One factor is meditation. Meditators report a type of self-transcendence where their sense of self merges into the All, and they feel connection with all of the Universe. This results in an awareness that “we all are One.” During this state, the person does not experience himself as a separate self, but as part of everything that is. To perhaps overstate the case, this experience takes him out of feeling separate, and connects him to something larger than himself.

Researchers have found many other benefits to self-transcendence — that it is inversely related to neuroticism, and that it leads to a decreasing reliance on externals for definition of the self. It is also associated with a greater sense of connectedness with past and future generations.

The correlation between meditation and spiritual growth is so strong that some insist meditation is the sole, or at least major, means of growing spiritually. But other people without a meditation practice have also reached spiritual maturity and a universal worldview. So while meditation is certainly one factor, there must be other avenues of growth.

If growth means moving beyond the self, then anything that takes us away from concern with ourselves, anything that lets us connect with something larger, can lead to growth.

In considering experiences that can take us out of ourselves we might look at the example of a new mother. Once interested in herself and in getting attention from others, when she becomes responsible for another being all concern for herself may fall by the wayside. Her baby’s welfare takes priority over her own. Another example might include a person who throws him or herself so fully into community or charity work that their personal concerns fall into second place. Hobbies, sports, even sex can coax a person out of their self-centered shell, and toward a view of themselves as part of something greater. Rewarding professional activities are probably one of the most likely candidates for fostering a self-transcending state. And of course, we cannot ignore the benefits of certain types of prayer or participating in certain types of religious activities.

There are similarities between the type of self-transcendence meditators report and another, far more common human experience. In 1990, psychologist Mihali Csíkszentmihályi wrote a book called “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.” This book described a state of concentration he called flow, where the activity in question demands a perfect balance between the level of challenge posed by the task at hand and the person’s skill level.

In a flow activity, the person’s whole being is involved and their skills are being used to the utmost. The rules and goals of the activity must be clearly stated, and immediate feedback must be provided. The activity must demand a high level of skill and must present challenge to the doer, but the end goal must be achievable. The task must encourage concentration to the point of full absorption. It must disallow distractions to the point that awareness of extraneous factors — time, hunger and concern with self — drop away.

Spending a lot of time overcoming manageable challenges with maximum skill can spur a person to acquire new proficiencies and to accept further challenges. Flow activities also take us outside of ourselves, like meditation does, though probably to a less dramatic level. The flow state tends to expand our consciousness, and leads to growth. In this sense, purely relaxing leisure activities are not as fulfilling as those that take us out of our awareness of ourselves as separate individuals.

Finding activities that lead us into flow states can foster growth and increase our sense of fulfillment. As a bottom line, if we want to lead a richer, more connected life, and spur our own spiritual growth, we should seek out activities that promote self-transcendence and the flow state. Meditation is one such activity, but it may not appeal to everyone. The good news is, plenty of other choices exist, and they may be found in our profession, community service, our favorite hobby and sport.

Click Here To View Her latest book and video clip.

Cesar Millan with Eckhart Tolle 1 – 3 [updated Nov 13, 2012]

The Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan with Eckhart Tolle Part 1 of 3

The Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan with Eckhart Tolle Part 1 of 3-
The power of now

Cesar Millan with Eckhart Tolle Part 2 of 3

Cesar Millan with Eckhart Tolle Part 3 of 3

The Light Behind Consciousness By John Wheeler

Radical Self-Knowledge and The End of Seeking

John Wheeler’s strength lies in live communication with people who are sincerely interested in understanding their true nature and the Q&A sections give a sense of typical themes and questions in the contemporary spiritual scene.

John does not view the philosophical or intellectual underpinnings of the message as particularly important. His main concern lies in exposing the false assumptions and unseen beliefs that prevent the questioners from recognising clearly their real identity or true self. No one needs a philosophical framework in order to be who they are. All such frameworks can do is to offer pointers to reality. The pointers are only a means to this end, nothing more, and are discarded when the truth is realised.

The extended essays and short pointers that form the rest of the book contents were not written in a vacuum, but arose naturally out of communications on the essential themes of self-knowledge and the overcoming of seeking, suffering and doubt.

What is unique about this book is that John probes more deeply into the ultimate nature of who we are at the most fundamental level. For the discerning reader familiar with non-dual presentations such as Advaita Vedanta, Dzogchen, Mahamudra, Kashmir Shaivism, and Zen, many of the core themes in this book will find a strong resonance. However, no specialised background or preparation is needed to appreciate the book. John presents these timeless themes in the simplest and most direct terms, avoiding needless specialised jargon and cultural trappings. As has been the case for many readers of John’s previous books, you may discover that the clear and direct experience of “who you are” emerges through deeply considering the message presented in this book.

View Here in PDF format

John Wheeler
In 2003, John heard the good news from “Sailor” Bob Adamson (who in turn heard the good news from Nisargadatta Maharaj in 1976). Bob clarified the key point that “you are already that which you have been seeking.” With this heart-to-heart sharing, the spiritual search resolved itself. John enjoys sharing the pointers with those who are interested in self-knowledge and the resolution of seeking, suffering and doubt. John lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he works as a technical writer in Silicon Valley.

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