“God” is the energy of LIFE

1

“No one has ever seen ‘God’ …” This line from the gospel and the first letter of John contains a multitude of clarifications.  It says, to begin with, that “John” did not think of “God” anthropomorphically as you would expect from someone whose primary reference was the Hebrew scriptures.  For the Bible speaks very clearly about many people having seen “God” or at least met him and heard him speak.  John seems to have believed that the descriptions of those encounters used imagery that was not literal and did not reveal “God.”  His use of the phrase suggests instead that he was a bi-cultural diaspora Jew whose primary categories were Greek; for the Greeks believed that “God” was not knowable.

Then, because that line is a lead-in to the next: “the man Jesus has made him (“God”) visible,” John appears to be claiming a new beginning.  He is not talking about a revelation that simply added to or refined earlier Hebrew revelations — one of a sequence that places Jesus in the line of a tradition of “knowing God” — it is a revelation like no other.  We never really knew “God” before this, he says, now we do.

It also disregards the Hebrew injunction that any image said to represent “God” would be “idolatry.”   It’s no wonder that Jews saw early Christianity as foreign to their tradition; for writers like John were relating to what had gone on before only to say that it was totally superseded.  They were speaking as if things were starting from scratch, that what our fathers thought they saw was not “God” at all — that in Jesus we have seen “God” for the very first time.  John’s use of one word that evoked Yahweh’s “tenting” among the Hebrews wandering in the desert acknowledged continuity with Jewish tradition; but it was poetic allusion.  The direct religious imagery and nomenclature had changed.  The John who wrote the gospel called him Logos and proclaimed he was the beginning of all things, and his appearance was like a new creation.  In the letter that bears his name he called him LIFE, and source, but not Yahweh or even “God.”

Three hundred years later, when the bishops at Nicaea tried to clarify what Christians meant when they prayed to Jesus and referred to him as “God,” they said he was the very same all high “God” who had spoken throughout Jewish history.  They referred to that traditional Jewish “God” as “Father” and Jesus (John’s Logos) as his “Son” and that they were both Yahweh.  The Council declared John’s Logos, homoousios — “the same substance” — as the Father.  That was intended to explain what they thought John was saying: the Logos revealed the Father as never before because he and the Father, though presenting distinct personalities to the world, were — in “essence” — one and the same “God.”

The bishops had already decided that Jesus’ “father” and John’s “LIFE” were the same “God” and they assumed that’s what John meant too — that the Logos was Yahweh.  But John had said Jesus was Logos and LIFE, and source, and beginning, and revealed “God” for the first time.  It was a form of expression that could admit a different interpretation: that the “God” that Jesus revealed was not what the Jews thought it was.  What John’s Jesus revealed was new because no one had ever looked at “God” this way before.  In Jesus we could see for the first time what “God” was really like, for before this “no one had ever seen ‘God’.”

At Nicaea, by simply assimilating Jesus to his “father,” the bishops failed to respect Jesus’ own very clear statements about what “son of God” meant to Jews like him, and second, they did not leave room for what John might have been trying to say … they simply assumed that John’s LIFE was meant to refer to the Jewish Yahweh.  In the first case, if they had really listened to Jesus they would have heard him saying he was not “Yahweh,” and therefore homoousios was inappropriately (and, for a Jew, blasphemously) applied to him, and in the second, they failed to perceive how far from Jewish categories John had ranged to find an apt expression for his understanding of Jesus’ transcendent significance.  What John actually said was that he, the man Jesus, was “God,” but the definition of “God” was different.  It was cosmological, not personal.  It was Greek, not Hebrew.

2

People like John and Paul were thoroughly imbued with Greek cultural assumptions.  They had a concept of “God” that one of their number, the philosopher Philo (“the Jew”) had begun to elaborate.  Philo was a diaspora Jew like they were.  He lived in Alexandria which had come to supersede Athens as the primary center of learning in the ancient Mediterranean world.  Philo was well-educated in Greek philosophy; he had also immersed himself in the Septuagint, the Greek-version of the Hebrew scriptures, and spent his life correlating his Greek knowledge with the words and imagery found in that Bible.

Philo believed that “God” in the Septuagint was the same “God” that the Greeks said was the real reality behind the stories of the gods of the Mediterranean pantheon.  By the sixth century b.c.e. Greek philosophers like Heraclitus had come to the conclusion that their many gods were fictions of the imagination — the remnants of an ancient folk religion that related separately to the various forces of nature.  The gods were primitive attempts to worship what was really a single life-force that underlay all of reality.  The Egyptians had a similar insight 700 years earlier.  The gods were symbols of the living energies of nature — the earth, the sea, the sun and the sky, fertility of the soil, art, music and poetry, love, war, power, and the dark forces of the underworld — but the real source of nature was really “one divine principle” which the Egyptians called Aten and  the Greeks called ho theos — “God.”  There was only one divine energy that was responsible for it all — only one “God.”

This was mind-blowing for a Jew like Philo who had been trained to shun the goyim because they blasphemously asserted there were many gods, in violation of the first commandment.  But here the Greeks were acknowledging there was only one “God.”  Philo was ecstatic about this concurrence; he was convinced they both must be talking about the same thing because, as a Jew, he knew there was only one “God.”  He spent his life trying to convince others of this agreement.  But the two concepts were very different.  The Hebrew “God” was a warrior-king of the Jewish People; he was a “person” who told Jews what he wanted them to do, expected them to comply, and would reward them if they did; the Greek “God,” in contrast, was the principle of LIFE — a universal guiding energy — whom no one has ever seen.

Philo tended to take the Greek categories as literal “science” and the Jewish scriptures as metaphoric equivalencies — “stories” designed for the edification of people who were not philosophers. That was the methodology he used to elucidate the concurrence between them.

The general sense of “God” as the one source of nature’s energies persisted in Greek thinking even after Plato came along 150 years after Heraclitus and tried to introduce “reason” into it.  Plato said  that once you realize what the human mind can do, you have to acknowledge that it is totally different from everything else in the visible universe.  Therefore our minds must be made of something other than the material flesh we share with animals.  He called it “spirit.”  “Spirit” and “matter,” he concluded, are complete opposites.  “Spirit” goes beyond the capacities of “matter,” therefore it is a separate “thing.”  Like oil and water they do not mix.  Plato’s worldview is called “dualism” because it claims the universe is divided between two separate and distinct kinds of reality.

“God” for Plato was the ultimate paradigm for this spirit-matter opposition.  “God” was “Pure Spirit” with no admixture of matter whatsoever, and therefore “pure Mind.”  That “absolute purity” meant that nothing contaminated with matter could ever know “God.” “God” was utterly inaccessible; it required a special mediator — a “Craftsman” — to bridge the gap between the spiritual blueprints in the “Mind” of “God” and the material construction of the physical universe.  Philo identified Plato’s Craftsman with the personified “Wisdom” mentioned in Proverbs 8.  Philo called it Logos.

Philo came well after Plato.  He took his idea of what “God” wanted from the stories in the Bible, but his theoretical definitions of “God” were dominated by the Greek philosophical categories that formed the mindset of his age.  Philo added Plato’s ideas about “Pure Spirit” to the older thinking that saw “God” as the one source of the natural forces represented by the gods.  It was Philo’s triple syncretism — a Biblical “Yahweh” and the “One” of Plato grafted onto ho theos as the life-force of the universe — that his fellow diaspora Jews like Paul and John embraced as their own.  The fundamental and guiding imagery of the life-force was never lost.  For Philo and his fellow diaspora Jews, “God” was always the “energy” that created, sustained and enlivened the natural world.

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That means that when John and Paul talked about Jesus’ cosmological significance as “divine” it was his embodiment of the LIFE-force that they had in mind.  They took Jesus’ human behavior, relational charism and spiritual attitudes and explained them in terms of that divinity.  (And they explained “God’s” divinity in terms of Jesus’ attitudes and behavior).  They said Jesus made “God” visible because his words, deeds, death and “resurrection” was the mirror image, the human expression of that LIFE-force.  Jesus, they said, was “God,” but it was Philo’s “God” they meant.  That’s why they used the names that they did: LIFE, Logos, source, beginning.  They were all Philo’s.  Later generations with an essentialist worldview converted their dynamic mysticism into a static metaphysics.  Instead of being a “God-energy,” Jesus became a “God-entity,” from being LIFE he became “God.”

John and Paul were not essentialists.  Notice they did not say that “man was God,” but that this particular man, Jesus, was “God.”  Similarly, It was not Jesus’ “humanity” that was “divine” but rather his human life: i.e., how he lived, what he said, the way he said it, what he did, how he defended his message and accepted death, that revealed the “God” that no one knew.  They were not speaking of Jesus being “God” apart from these things … as if he would still be “God” if he had never done any of them.  No.  He was “God” precisely because of what he said and did, the way he lived and died … and his “resurrection” authenticated for Greeks the divinity made visible by the trajectory of his life; for only “God” was immortal.

For John and Paul “God” was a living presence, an energy on display in LIFE … in nature and in the moral / spiritual life of men and women as the manifestation of “God.” “God” was not an entity distinct from Jesus’ human actions and personality.  And Jesus was “God” precisely because his life and actions were the perfect expression of the LIFE-force.  In Philippians, Paul dismisses the relevance of “prior” divinity and emphatically specifies it was Jesus’ human moral achievements that earned him a “name above every name.”  And for the same reason John never suggests “we are in the light” without immediately adding “because we love one another.”  The “divinity” is in the living process — which by reflecting its source also conjures its presence — for there is no difference between what a thing is and what it does; that is the very nature of energy.   Energy is not a “thing” that exists apart from what it does.  “God” is not an entity that exists apart from its energizing action.  “God,” Plato’s “Pure Spirit,” for diaspora Jews like John and Paul, was the energy of LIFE.

Reflecting the LIFE-force in lived human attitudes and behavior meant that this particular man embodied “God;” he personified “God” in material form; he was … “God-made-flesh.”  But that does not preclude the possibility that others may also engage so thoroughly with the LIFE-force that they too become “God-with-us.”  “You can be sure,” John says, “that every one that does right is born of ‘God’.”

There is no pantheism here, because pantheism has to do with entities, things.   It is an essentialist label.  It is an equation of identity; it says “these things are God.”  Process Pan-en-theism is different because it is not talking about “things” it is talking about shared energy.  Energy is not an entity.  By its very nature it “exists” only in its effects and only when it is having an effect, and so it is always a completely shared phenomenon.  It belongs equally and simultaneously to cause and effect, and the effect is energized IN the energy of its cause.  There is no energy off by itself somewhere doing nothing.  The effect energized in turn becomes a display of the energy conveyed to it.  It is LIFE.  Process Pan-en-theism speaks to the sharing of LIFE between source and recipient.  The sharing means both have the same LIFE at the same time — even though one gives and the other receives.  Each becomes present — becomes visible — in the exchange.  In order to be Creator “God” needs to be creat-ing.  Genesis said that on the seventh day “God” rested.  That is literally impossible; or “God” would stop being “God.”

All this implies that the “God-factor” in our lives is not a “thing,” an entity that exists outside of active human relational valences.   And the first witnesses said the “God-factor” in Jesus was the power and precision of his human energy, discharging itself in infallibly effective work.  They  told us that what they had seen and heard — the transparency of Jesus’ unfeigned esteem for others, the incisiveness  of his perceptions, the balance and compassion of his judgments, the accuracy and appropriateness of his counsels, the confident authority with which he spoke and the courageous fidelity of his commitments — activated the autonomous humanness of the people he touched.  He energized them.  For people who found in him support for their own efforts to be human, and for people whose lives had been dehumanized by the exploitive system managed by Rome, this generated a universal enthusiasm.  They became “followers.”  But for those who benefitted from the Roman system, Jesus’ human energies spelled mortal danger because they threatened to elicit — among exploiters and exploited alike — a preference for LIFE and a refusal to participate in that system.  The Roman occupiers and their local collaborators clearly saw him as a threat to order, and to protect their way of life they killed him in an attempt to kill that liberating energy.  They failed.  He may have died but his energy — his “spirit” — lives and multiplies.  John called it LIFE.

The key notion in all this is that “God” is energy.  Embarrassingly for traditionalists, it recapitulates Thomas Aquinas’ “definition” of “God” as ESSE IN SE SUBSISTENS  — which in Aristotelian terms means nothing less than “PURE ACT.”  “Pure act” is conceptually analogous to pure energy.  It corresponds to a reality that is not an entity.  ESSE is not a “thing.”  It is “act,” an energy that is not really there until it activates a potential, i.e., has an existential effect in the real worldThat is esse.  That is “God” for Aquinas.  It is not a “thing,” but an energy that makes things to be.

Four hundred years before Aquinas, Irish mystical theologian John Scotus Eriúgena described this interactive existential relationship between “God” and creatures in very explicit terms:

Eriúgena conceives of the act of creation as a kind of self-manifestation wherein the hidden transcendent God creates himself by manifesting himself in divine outpourings or theophanies (Periphyseon, I.446d). He moves from darkness into the light, from self-ignorance into self-knowledge. …  In cosmological terms, however, God and the creature are one and the same:

It follows that we ought not to understand God and the creature as two things distinct from one another, but as one and the same. For both the creature, by subsisting, is in God; and God, by manifesting himself, in a marvelous and ineffable manner creates himself in the creature … (Eriúgena, Periphyseon, III.678c).[1]

Eriúgena called the material universe “the Mask of God.”  I contend that John and Paul had similar imagery.  Following Philo, they saw “God” as that in which we live and move and have our being — LIFE — which from the beginning has been the source of LIFE for all its living extrusions.  We are the emanations of the superabundant living energies that are not mechanical necessities but rather the products of an infinite sharing and self-emptying.

That’s the interpretation that our traditional metaphors place on the evolving universe.  And we have those metaphors largely because people like John used Jesus’ life and message to clarify exactly what the LIFE-force was.  In traditional terminology it is love.  When we embrace those metaphors as our own, it means we make a choice.  We choose to interpret the energies of LIFE as consistent with a generous self-emptying love as taught by Jesus.  We are encouraged in that choice because we have touched and been touched by it — LIFE — embodied in the living energies of the realities around us, primarily human persons.  That’s how John was certain that what he saw and heard and touched was LIFE.

It may be logically circular, but it is not irrational.  There is more than enough out there to warrant such a choice even though no one is constrained.  The appropriation of LIFE is not coerced; it is a rational option, appropriated by those who recognize that it resonates with their own moral and relational aspirations — their sense of the sacred and the synderesis that grounds their sense of truth and justice.   At the end of the day it is our spontaneous recognition of LIFE — our sense of the sacred — that confirms our acknowledgement of Jesus as LIFE.  WE know him because we know ourselves.

There is no possible one-to-one correspondence between any entity and “God” because as energy “God” energizes absolutely everything and transcends any particularity of whatever kindAs the energy that energizes each and every entity, it is indistinguishable from all of them while being exclusively identified with none.  That excludes pantheism as well as traditional Christian exclusivist theism.  Jesus was never a “God-entity,” neither before his birth nor during his life nor after his “resurrection,” because there is no such thing.  LIFE is not an entity.  But Jesus’ personal energy was the perfect moral analog — the re-presentation in human terms — of the generating energy of the LIFE source.  He was the receptor whose energy faithfully re-produced the energy of his source, not unlike the way a child receives the cells of its parents and begins to live in those very same cells, but now as its own.  But the reality transferred is not one entity from another — a “son” from a “father” — but a shared LIFE, an energy provided and accepted, faithfully reproduced, as fully alive and generative in the receiver as in the source.

To be LIFE as Jesus was LIFE is not exclusive to him.  It is open to anyone.  And in other traditions around the world others have played the foundational role that Jesus played in ours.  There is nothing to prevent any other human being from matching or even surpassing Jesus in the faithful reproduction of LIFE, i.e., being a human being.  John reported that Jesus himself said so explicitly:  those that come after him will do even greater things than he has done.  How could that be possible if John thought there were some sharp line of demarcation separating us from Jesus … as if Jesus were “God” and we were not?  And how would John have even known that what he saw was the source of LIFE unless he knew what he was looking at?  Where did that come from, if John were not already in some sense what Jesus was?  We are all radically capable of recognizing LIFE when we see it and making it visible as Jesus made it visible; thus we can all be the source of LIFE for others.  This is also a solid part of our treasury of Christian metaphors: to follow Jesus is to become increasingly “divinized.”  How could that be possible if divinity were exhausted in a particular entity / person?  But “God” is not an entity; and Jesus is not “God” in that sense. “God” is energy, an energy that can be shared endlessly and is not diminished in the sharing.  The LIFE that enlivened the man Jesus, enlivens us all.  This is what John was saying.

What John said suggests that the community formed by those who consciously join Jesus in this adventure will make LIFE generative in a way that is intensified exponentially: LIFE feeding LIFE.  There are no divine entities.  In this view of things there’s no way a “church” whose leaders live immoral lives, its ritual practices designed intentionally to create dependency and generate profit, and its political alliances complicit in systemic exploitation, could ever be “divine.”  The reformers were right.  A church can only be divine the way Jesus was divine, not by being a sacred “thing” but by activating a profound and available humanness — the mirror-echo of the LIFE in which we live and move and have our being.

[1] Moran, Dermot, “John Scottus Eriugena”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2008/entries/scottus-eriugena/ .

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11 comments on ““God” is the energy of LIFE

  1. Harry G MacVeigh says:

    In this article you have expressed in words ‘thinkings’ that have been swurling around in my mind for many years. Through reading your explanations of Life Energy I am moving ever closer to understanding God as the life force, the Energy that gives life to me and to all things that exist, not separate from me, not outside of existence, but all One. Thank you.

    Harry MacVeigh

  2. mj7blackwell says:

    Thank you. A wonderful theology and history to dig into, and beautifully, movingly said also.

  3. Brian Coyne says:

    Thanks, Tony. Just yesterday on the Catholica forum I wrote the following which gels in part with some of what you wrote but your commentary also potentially takes me deeper in my own exploration. My invitation for responses to my thinking at the end of the following hasn’t drawn any responses as yet but I live in hope.

    ——Original post of the following is titled “Is this whole religious belief business simply a huge myth or fairy tale?” and can be found at http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=170714 —–

    Much of my journey over the last 25 or 30 years has been trying to come to terms with whether this entire Jesus’ story was some giant myth or fairy tale; or was there some core, or root, truth in it? I no longer believe in the Jesus who was skyrocketed into heaven at the Assumption. I even doubt the Resurrection as some kind of physical Resuscitation. Funnily enough though, and I have thought about this seriously over these decades, neither am I tempted to some kind of atheism. Even my agnosticism is restrained and bridled. I don’t believe any longer in what I see as largely myth this belief that God dictated to any “special people” the Divine vision as in some picture of some “kindly old man in the sky who created everything” sharing his secrets with some “chosen elite” amongst the human population. That is ‘myth’ in the same sense that Santa Claus is a ‘myth’.

    The increasing sense I have come to is that this entire Christian-God-Jesus story is a concoction — albeit an important one and one that should not be dismissed lightly or simply as “myth” — of human minds reflecting on “observed reality” and trying to project onto this imagined “Perfect, Omniscient, Infinitely-powerful, Infinitely-wise, Infinitely-Merciful, Infinitely-Compassionate, Infinitely-Loving Creator God” how we think such a Being must think (and act). The story does keep getting screwed up because we see suffering and ‘natural disasters’ in the world, babies born with severe deformities, and we wonder how such a “Perfect and Loving God” could allow such things to happen?

    Increasingly I see the entire Jesus’ story as a huge paradigmatic or archetypal story of our own journey of life. It was something which we humans have projected onto one particular individual who lived a couple of thousand years ago but, at its heart, Jesus’ story is Our story — the story of each one of us. It might be likened to the relationship that a road map has to an actual journey through the landscape that we might take; or the relationship of the blueprints an architect or engineer might draw up to the actual building, ship, bridge, spaceship or whatever, that might be built based on the blueprints.

    The importance of Jesus, as I increasingly see it, is NOT “rooted back” in some belief that he might have “died for my sins”; or he now resides somewhere in this place called “heaven” where he intervenes and causes miracles to happen in our lives just so long as we learn the correct incantations and prayers. Rather, I increasingly see the importance of Jesus as this deeply intuited insight coming collectively from humankind (rather than from some God-in-the-sky, or some “chosen ones” elite) that shows us how to successfully navigate the trials, tribulations, triumphs and joys of this life. I sense that is AN IMPORTANT STORY — and none of us should dismiss it lightly simply as some kind of fairy tale equivalent to the fairy tales that we teach our children about Santa, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

    How do you relate to that, Tom? Do you express it a different way? In your upcoming series on the Sacraments perhaps you might relate what their meaning is: are they something “given to us by none other than God himself”; or are they better understood as some “sign” trying to concretize or articulate our relationship to this Great Mystery we label as “God”, “the Divine”, “the Spiritual”, or simply “the Spirit” or “the Numinous”?

    How many of the rest of you can relate to what I write here? Or do you believe it is all baloney and I’m severely misguided, or turning into some kind of heretic or apostate?

    • Harry G MacVeigh says:

      Brian,

      You are on a journey seeking Truth. Keep questioning authority. While none of us will finish our path leading to ultimate Truth , the end of our journey of seeking will lead us closer to attaining it than when we first began our journey. Along the way, cast off the false teachings taught to us by false teachers.

      Harry MacVeigh

  4. tonyequale says:

    Brian,

    Fundamentally we are moving in the same direction. There’s a collective and ancient wisdom embedded in religion somewhere that we can’t afford to lose; but there is also a lot of just plain bovine doo-doo. The “devil” (a metaphor of course) is in the details, and separating the baby from the bathwater remains a perennial chore and challenge … a continuous and endless reformation,

    Tony

  5. Paul Knitter says:

    Tony, among the many of your reflections that I find so intellectually satisfying and spiritually inspiring, this one is on the top of the list. It represents for me a thoroughly coherent non-dual theology and an engaging sacramental Christology. Sorry for the jargon, but when jargon takes on life, it can be powerful.

  6. saluman73 says:

    Tony, Harry, Brian, Paul, and all followers of Equalitism. (Sorry, Tony, but you are looking for a better word than “panentheism”.” Equalitarianism” was already taken, just as humanism was already taken for “Umanaism.”
    I have been pondering “God is the energy of life.” Again with my superlatives, it is the best summary of the God problem I have ever read. But it is so rich and so profound that I divided it into two parts and here give my summary of the first part.
    Tony has gone from the (hierarchical) Church as usurping divinity to itself to what G/d really might be in Itself. I will not call it the “Sacred Other” but the “Sacred Self Itself” of the universe. Something like what Jung calls “Self” with a capital “S”. What I like most is Tony’s emphasis on Jesus: Paul and John emphasizing that in Jesus we have seen G/d for the first time. This was the real break with the G/d of the Hebrews,
    John called Jesus LIFE, and source, but not Yahweh or even “God.” Tony points out very clearly where Nicea went wrong. John’s gospel and letters had rejected Jesus as the “Son” of the Hewbrew God. Now 300 years later, the Bishops of Nicea referred to Jesus as God, consubstantial with the Father (except Arius, of course, and his followers, who had been practically skinned alive by Athanasius’s thugs.) (No wonder it has taken us another 1700 years to deny the divinity of Christ ?!?) As Tony writes, Athanasius and his crowd proclaimed Jesus, John’s “logos”, as Son of the All High God, and that they were both Yaweh.
    What I like most is Tony’s explanation that God’s divinity could be explained in terms of Jesus’ attitudes and behvior. ‘The “divinity” of Jesus is in the living process- which by reflecting its source also conjures it’s presence- for THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE between what a thing is and what it does: that is the very nature of energy.’ I can’t imagine how profound this statement is.
    Energy is not a ‘thing’ that exists apart from what it does. “God” is not an entity that exists apart from its energizing action. “God”, Plato’s “Pure Spirit”, for diaspora Jews like John and Paul, was the ENERGY OF LIFE !!!
    Have I made it even more obscure ! But next I will go on to the second part of “God is the energy of life.
    Sal Umana

  7. Ian Fraser says:

    Agreeing with several of your earlier commentators, I find this a most interesting post, and inspiring for many who struggle with the concept, God – what does it really mean?. In response, I will focus on Part 3, because I believe Parts 1 and 2, informative though they are, primarily serve to introduce your main argument, elaborated in the final part, that “God” is the energy of life.

    Having long recognised life as a form of energy, I find it significant that you describe God as the Energy of Life and Life-Force rather than simply as Life. Do I read you correctly – that you differentiate life from (a form of) energy, and that you differentiate God from Life?

    • theotheri says:

      Tony – I, too, am most interested in hearing your response to this question from Ian. Looking forward to it. Terry

    • tonyequale says:

      Ian, Terry,

      Thanks for your interest.

      This post and the one that will follow it are trying to correlate the poetry of the first letter of John in the NT with the cosmic facts as we now describe them. “John” spoke of LIFE and LIGHT, obviously referring to “God” and said that Jesus message and manner of life elucidated that — made visible what no one had ever seen before — and clarified for us what “God” was. He identified human moral and relational energies with his conception of the creative and benevolent core of the cosmos.

      “LIFE-force,” on the other hand, is a neo-logism of mine that tries to use a catch-all label for the various manifestations of energy in the universe without distinguishing the “living” energies like the conatus from the “non-living” energies like chemical valences and electromagnetic force. It is another equivalence for matter’s energy. By assimilating these two words, LIFE and LIFE-force to one another, I am trying to suggest that it is not unreasonable to take a personal stance toward them as being one and the same thing, or at least that the “Mask of God” (the LIFE-force) is so skin-tight that the distinction between them is one without a difference.

      • theotheri says:

        Thank you, Tony. I have often thought in recent years that the pagans understood more of the essence of Life-Force as you are defining it than post-Nicean Christianity. I’m with the pagans on that score myself.

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