A Theism of Transcendence

I’m not really a theist in a sense most people would recognise. I think the universe’s existence and origin is well explained by natural science. I think human moral reasoning has the potential to be morally better than the dictates of any religion, and so on.

A conversation with a friend got onto these topics, and he made the point that a God can be dispensed of entirely with those views. Probably true, but my reply was as follows:

To me, God is there to be the transcendent, much more than to be a surrogate parent or president. A name for that which is beyond us… and perhaps a big part of the 21st century mallaise is that so few of us recognise that there is anything beyond us.

– me in a FB DM conversation

My friend is a pastor, and noted that this sounds like Paul Tillich, and I suspect it probably does: there’s nothing new under the sun. I haven’t read Tillich, though, this is just what I’ve arrived at for myself.

Maybe applying the name ‘God’ to this doesn’t work well: for so long it has been used as a claimed supernatural guarantor for ‘you should be like me and do what I say’. Perhaps using a different wording like ‘The Nameless’ or something works better.

But I think there’s some remaining value in the concept. Your mileage may vary.

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