What do we call God?

Am I a sceptic? My immediate reaction is to deny this – after all it means that I am only too ready to reject the many statements of claimed truth which come to my attention. Or does it? Scepticism has been a central issue of philosophical discussion for over 2000 years – and it continues.

Socrates was a sceptic. But he would describe it as his teaching that we can never be certain about the truth. In fact we never establish the truth but, through debate and examination, we may hope to get closer to it. Flash through a few hundred years to the 18th century and we arrive at David Hume. He taught that all our experiential knowledge is no more than concepts in our brains. If, for instance, I am drinking a glass of wine, my view of it is an impression in my brain; our recognition of colour, tactility or flavour are all aspects of these internal impressions. I have no way of proving that it is an actual, existing object. He denied the connection between cause and effect: we know, for instance how billiard balls act on one another, but we have no way of proving that this is causal. He had no time for morality: we have only observed the outcomes of our decisions: labelling them as moral or immoral simply has no meaning. There is an “is” but there is no “ought”.

I am tempted to put this down to his Jesuit education – which puts much effort into asking questions and requiring demonstrations of evidence. He studied at the Jesuit college of La Flèche in France. Unfortunately René Descartes (17th century) was the great champion of truth and he went to La Flèche too. His starting point, after much thinking, was je pense donc je suis = I think therefore I am – often quoted as cogito ergo sum. On this, his solid brick of truth, he built his philosophy.

Ironically science is essentially sceptical. Its conclusions are always in principle open to new evidence or new procedures. We might, for instance, confidently state that water boils at 100 degrees centigrade – only to discover later that the figure actually changes according to altitude.

Metaphysical truths are a different matter. In this case meta means “beyond”. Since they are beyond the physical we cannot demonstrate them physically. Or for that matter in any other way. The phrase “I know that God exists” is strictly nonsense. We can say that we hold that God exists or that we believe that God exists. We can of course refer to arguments of various kinds which lead us towards belief but our conclusion is a personal decision.

Aquinas approaches it in a different way. He demonstrates that it is necessary to have a first cause and this, he says, is what we call God. So he goes from the natural to the supernatural. Without disagreeing with him, I prefer to approach this differently. I am sure of the existence of love and this, I claim, is what we call God.

About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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30 Responses to What do we call God?

  1. galerimo says:

    Good topic. Truth is worth reflecting on in Holy Week. It is the question that Jesus kept silent on when Pilate put it to Him.

    I have to agree with you here. Your one-minute history of Western philosophy shows that when it comes to God, there really are no experts – only seekers.

    And that is what skeptic really means. Skeptics are the seekers after truth.

    Like any other technique used for uncovering truth, skepticism can be used in ways that lead towards truth or its opposite, hatred. Your description of truth as “God known as love” suggests its opposite is hatred.

    Hebrew thinking is much more dynamic than the Greek categories into which our truth narrative, Jesus of Nazareth, was translated so quickly.

    The Greek “logos/word” and the Hebrew “Dabhar/all realities” so central to our skeptical journey with sacred scriptures, as we search for an understanding of Truth, are miles apart in different, colourful and nuanced ways.

    So as Westerners we are always heavily blinkered as we face of your question.

    Two different world-views, the Greek overlaid on the Hebrew, demonstrate a huge difference between breathing a name and defining. The Dabhar and Logos.

    Unlike knowledge, truth is never something that we have, or possess or own. It is the “whom” we are given in relationship.

    And it was not given to Pilate in the violence of his situation facing Jesus. The Truth, in that moment of sedition was not available. Truth has its hour.

    Life offers only the possibility of being “oriented” towards the truth. It is grace that positions us best to receive such an openness to truth.

    When God shares God’s own life with us we are graced in a way that can bring about trust/faith in God as collaborator in our lives.

    And once that faith takes hold, no matter how slow or how tiny it is, we can then, momentarily, yes just for a moment “receive the Truth”. And the moment, is the moment of our death.

    There can only be one moment when everything disintegrates for us. One free, irrevocable hour for the exercise of truly human, free choice.

    It arrives when we lose our hold on life, no longer able to bodily engage our reality, when we lose our relatedness to everyone including our sense of the conscious self, in that moment, with one final breath we can choose to breathe (dabhar) out the name, not the word, Jesus.

    It is our one moment of truth.

    • FZM says:

      Galerimo,

      So as Westerners we are always heavily blinkered as we face of your question.

      I was wondering, is this really true? What you are writing about seems to be direct personal, or mystical, knowledge of God, and this tradition has always been known about in Greek and Latin Christianity. In the early centuries Greek, Copitc, Syriac and Latin speakers were all in contact with each other and could communicate and translate each other’s writings and ideas.

      And one of its most far reaching later expressions was written by a Greek in his own language, Gregory Palamas’ defence of Hesychast spirituality in the Triads. This is still one of the foundational texts in Orthodox (and Greek Catholic) theology and spirituality.

      • galerimo says:

        True, the beautiful liturgies, hymnody and iconography of Egypt and Asia Minor were magnificent responses to the Churches travelling East from Palestine; to an even greater extent was the theological genius of the Cappadocians in the shaping of its early creedal formulae.

        But not as strong in the West and not at all to the same extent as the Greek mind had on the development of Western scientific thought.

        The impact on the Churches travelling West along the roads of the Roman Empire and into a lesser cultured civilisation was more strongly influenced by Augustine’s theology with its Platonism and Aquinas’ application of Aristotle up to and beyond the time of the Reformation authors.

        Also the brilliant thinking of the Byzantine Palamas in the 14th century coming after the great East West Schism would not have reached far outside the monasteries for a long time, limiting its impact on the broader church community as well.

        I’m really trying to point up how the Semitic experience as a receptor of Divine revelation was quickly drowned out by the sweep and the depth of Greek philosophies. Our modern Biblical studies, Anthropology and Linguistics, I think, have opened up this vast new dimension to the Western mind and given us a much more dynamic and less categorical insight into “what we call God”.

  2. FZM says:

    Metaphysical truths are a different matter. In this case meta means “beyond”. Since they are beyond the physical we cannot demonstrate them physically. Or for that matter in any other way. The phrase “I know that God exists” is strictly nonsense. We can say that we hold that God exists or that we believe that God exists. We can of course refer to arguments of various kinds which lead us towards belief but our conclusion is a personal decision.

    As far as I know in philosophy metaphysics is the subject of being in its most general terms (I think this goes back to Aristotle and the way his various books were organised after his death, though he didn’t use the terminology himself). Metaphysical truths can’t be demonstrated by the investigations of the natural sciences because they are either too general, or the natural sciences presuppose certain things to be metaphysically true in order to get off the ground in the first place. If there are no known metaphysical truths, by extension the natural sciences provide no truth and no knowledge either. But it is true that metaphysical ideas usually can’t be verified as exactly as what is based on, say, mathematical description of empirical observations.

    Is the idea that the phrase ‘I know God exists’ must be nonsense based on logical positivism or some other kind of verificationism? Logical positivism was discovered to be (by its own criteria) nonsense or meaningless.

    There seem to be a range of ways in which it could be possible to have true knowledge of God’s existence; if any of the arguments demonstrating it are valid or if you had direct knowledge of God from personal experience, for example.

    Aquinas approaches it in a different way. He demonstrates that it is necessary to have a first cause and this, he says, is what we call God. So he goes from the natural to the supernatural. Without disagreeing with him, I prefer to approach this differently. I am sure of the existence of love and this, I claim, is what we call God.

    Aquinas, similar to other classical theists, thought it was demonstrable that God was ontologically simple and completely incomposite. All of His attributes he possesses necessarily and, in God, all of the attributes refer to one undifferentiated thing; God’s infinite being is His love, which is His will and intelligence, which is His goodness etc.

  3. Nektarios says:

    It is all very interesting, speculative and historical points made so far, and it is also interesting to note man’s inventiveness when it comes to describing God. One should always hold the maxim before one, the descriptive is never the actual.

    The Fall caused darkness and alienation between God and man. What we have read above for the most part only confirms it. As man plods on in his blindness, darkness and sinfulness, he can perceive nothing of God.

    The only things we know of God is what He has been pleased to reveal to us. He first did by this by revealing to a people eventually called Jews, through Moses and the Prophets.
    Here we find He, God is the Creator of everything. How He did it is a mystery to us.

    When Christ in the fullness of time came into the world, His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray to God. Pray thus, said the Lord Jesus, ‘Our Father who is in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.’
    How deep is that term, Our Father who is in Heaven.

  4. David Smith says:

    Socrates, Aristotle, Hume, Descartes. I can’t go there, any more than I can follow galerimo and FZM through their academic and linguistic scaffolding. I only know that I seem to be a human being, with a dim understanding of my place in existence. Truth, at least for me, does not exist, except as a nebulous and continually shifting collection of everyday goals that helps me navigate and keeps me from bumping into walls, both mental and physical, too often. Words get in the way. What matters is conviction, a sense of center, a core certainty about where I stand and where I must not go. Where I must go is a different thing altogether, one, it seems, that hardly matters.

    I think every human being is a sceptic/skeptic, by nature, of necessity. We must doubt if we want to survive and stay sane. We understand, instinctively, that certainty is a moving target. We get by.

  5. Nektarios says:

    Yes, a skeptic is the right word to use of many who are of the so-called Christian religion today.

    There are many who want to observe Jesus, but few who will believe in Him. The Greeks, just like so many today, only approached Jesus wanting to observe Him. They came with wrong motives and wrong reasons and like contemporary culture, but they do not desire to understand his teaching or follow his example. Like a curious child, they look upon his death with inquisitive eyes and investigative hearts. But, Jesus/ the Son of God can only be known, loved and experienced by direct interaction with his death!

    • David Smith says:

      I hear you, but I don’t know that faith, belief, love are things that can be learned or willed. They come or they don’t. The desire is there or it’s not.

      Especially in these cynical times, the simple fact of religious truth is tied up in a dense undergrowth of words and noise. I think the institutional Church might be well advised to stop trying so hard and so messily to attract anyone who is willing to pin on a “Christian” or “Catholic” badge and to drop money into the collection plate whether or not he believes much of anything specific at all. Back to basics, please. Stop writing so many books and stop the incessant talking. Be quiet. Listen. Make a place where people want to go to be at peace and the belief might follow. And it may not. Stop trying to force it.

  6. Nektarios says:

    David Smith

    I don’t know if you are replying to my last posting above or carrying on the theme with John Nolan?

    If you are answering my posting above, the Lord has His servants everywhere. When people generally go to Church, they come with their own internal noise, troubles and anxieties.

    God has sent His servants out to preach the Gospel. For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
    Yes, let’s get back to basics.

    During times of intolerance and persecution, people went out to hear preachers in the fields, on craggy mountains, in caves.

    To listen, one must first want to listen; to be quiet one must still their restless soul to listen. listen to what? What is going to be worthy of their listening? I suggest the hunger of the soul for spiritual food to nourish and sustain it. This is something God works in us who are truly quiet and truly wanting to listen as well as creating the hunger of the soul for God.

  7. galerimo says:

    Call God unbelievable, mad, foolish, scandalous (stumbling block) and you can be looking either at the Crucifixion or the Resurrection. More likely both, having hardly caught your breath after the first before being faced with the second. None of it was expected, hoped for or believed.

    Our philosophical/theological frameworks are only substitutes or idols of our own making when it comes to grasping the Pasch. Nothing really fits, nothing of our making can ever really accommodate what lies at the heart of the unwanted and undeserved gift of our salvation from God.

    No one could or did even imagine Jesus before he arrived; he certainly did not fit his Messiah job description.

    No one could or did even imagine how serious sin was until we saw the price that was paid for it. It exploded any remedy that could even begin to address it.

    And certainly no one, especially those who were there to see it with their own eyes could believe that he is risen from the dead and is alive.

    What do you call God? Everything under the sun. Mostly it is divisive, manipulative and wrong. Does it really matter? Maybe we should just be still…

  8. galerimo says:

    The Blessings of this Easter to you Quentin and all my fellow bloggers here.

    He is risen, Alleluia, Alleluia.

    • Quentin says:

      I am sure that I speak for all of our contributors in thanking you, Galerimo for your Easter blessings. And we wish these blessing for everyone who visits the site over this holy time.

      Quentin

  9. Nektarios says:

    Can we move a little further forward on what shall we call God?

    There are many names God has revealed to us, the first being, Jehovah Rophi – I am the Lord who heals you. Google up ‘Jehovah Rophi’ and discover what all this wonderful name of God means.

    To the Egyptians, the name of God was the God who strikes.

    But to the Lord’s people the Israelites, He is the God who heals us. Discovering the truth of this, well, read on the Google reference I have given you.
    Our lives are writ large here too and what we often have to go through to truly understand what the name of God, Jehovah Rophi means and how we relate or not to that name.
    Discover something of ourselves in this first of God’s names to us. May it be a journey to a closer walk with Him.

  10. Nektarios says:

    Quentin

    Every blessing this Easter to you and yours, and to all on the blog and readers of the blog.

    CHRIST IS RISEN!

  11. G.D says:

    I agree Quentin, and call God …… ‘God is Love; love is God’. (Not our love; God’s Love).
    Only when we love in unity, do we imitate Christ, in God as Trinity. Unity in diversity.

    Anything that is divisive within me prevents me ‘knowing’ how to let God (know God) live in my created being. (Mae Culpa).

    I agree …… Silence (True Silence! Silencing all we assume we are, know & believe) is the means to eradicating that divisiveness within my being. (Sin; that bite of the apple).
    Silence before God’s Trinity of Union (however that is experienced, and named) enables imitation of that Union within God & God in creation, Jesus. To be one with God, as Jesus, the Christ, Alpha & Omega, always has been. (Not ‘as God’ in our case! One with God).

    That Unity, in diversity – is Love. Is God & creation united. That is the Alpha & Omega of Creation.

    When we love as such, in imitation of Jesus, the Alpha & Omega, we call God forth into our relationships; we let go, & let God be.

    And we become co-partakers (even in the moments of this mortal coil) with the finished creation that God rested from on the ‘seventh day’.

    (?? Jesus, the Christ, rose from the dead, Alleluia …………. Christ always is Risen??).
    Blessed Easter to all.

  12. David Smith says:

    Quentin writes:

    // Ironically science is essentially sceptical. Its conclusions are always in principle open to new evidence or new procedures. We might, for instance, confidently state that water boils at 100 degrees centigrade – only to discover later that the figure actually changes according to altitude. //

    That example points to another irony, which is that reverence for a discipline which is self-limited to the physically measurable should have so thoroughly destroyed throughout the West the ability to revere things which cannot, by definition, be physically measured.

    That this is so suggests, I think, that the pervasive belief in Christianity that obtained in the West prior to the past hundred years or so was dependent on two conditions. The first was a widespread ignorance of the nature of the universe. The second was that Christianity, popularly understood, was founded on a belief that the nature of the physical world was largely and deeply unknowable. Thus, as soon as the universe began to be mapped and measured, it became impossible that Christianity could survive in the West, at least as its primary cultural and moral bulwark. Its supporting props had been knocked out from under it.

    This suggests, I think, that somehow, over the two millennia of Christianity’s existence, it had developed into fundamentally a very large mystery cult. This opens the question of why that happened and what, if anything, is to be done about it. The why may be simply that the custodians of the church found irresistible the temptation to appeal heavily to fear and superstition. The solution to the problem, if any is to be successful, seems to be one of two things. First, the church could double down on fear and superstition. Or, second, it could try to dissociate itself from its past foundation and re-base itself on something equally compelling. The former might work. Fear and superstition loom large in the human conscious and subconscious . The second solution, I’m afraid, might prove undoable. What could possibly compete with fear and superstition?

    At any rate, what we call God seems to be up for grabs. If my experience at yesterday’s Easter Vigil ceremony is a good guide, the church may be in the process of re-forming its definition of God around a Disneyesque amalgam of awe, on the one hand, and, on the other, unmitigated sweetness and niceness.

  13. FZM says:

    David,

    Interesting points.

    That example points to another irony, which is that reverence for a discipline which is self-limited to the physically measurable should have so thoroughly destroyed throughout the West the ability to revere things which cannot, by definition, be physically measured.

    The idea that if a thing exists it must be basically a) measurable physically and b) behave in a basically impersonal and mechanical way, is now very widespread in the West. Anything else is non-existent or unreal so can’t be the object of reverence.

    That this is so suggests, I think, that the pervasive belief in Christianity that obtained in the West prior to the past hundred years or so was dependent on two conditions. The first was a widespread ignorance of the nature of the universe. The second was that Christianity, popularly understood, was founded on a belief that the nature of the physical world was largely and deeply unknowable. Thus, as soon as the universe began to be mapped and measured, it became impossible that Christianity could survive in the West, at least as its primary cultural and moral bulwark. Its supporting props had been knocked out from under it.

    Important scientific discoveries about evolution and the universe must have challenged belief in Christianity, among other things but I don’t think that Christianity was founded on a belief that the physical world was deeply unknowable, just that it was not knowable in the purely impersonal, mechanistic sense which has become the ‘gold-standard’ of knowledge and truth in the popular mind.

    This suggests, I think, that somehow, over the two millennia of Christianity’s existence, it had developed into fundamentally a very large mystery cult. This opens the question of why that happened and what, if anything, is to be done about it. The why may be simply that the custodians of the church found irresistible the temptation to appeal heavily to fear and superstition. The solution to the problem, if any is to be successful, seems to be one of two things. First, the church could double down on fear and superstition. Or, second, it could try to dissociate itself from its past foundation and re-base itself on something equally compelling. The former might work. Fear and superstition loom large in the human conscious and subconscious . The second solution, I’m afraid, might prove undoable. What could possibly compete with fear and superstition?

    The church seems to be in the process of relocating outside the West, in the process some of the political issues and questions which have led to the rejection of Christianity in Western Europe may change or become less relevant because there isn’t the same shared historical experience. It also seems possible to me that the West is in a kind of terminal decline and the culture will somehow implode or end up changing significantly (there seems a serious tension between the scientism and the voluntarist post-modernist highly moralistic identity politics stuff that is becoming prevalent, for example.)

    • David Smith says:

      FZM writes:

      // The church seems to be in the process of relocating outside the West, in the process some of the political issues and questions which have led to the rejection of Christianity in Western Europe may change or become less relevant because there isn’t the same shared historical experience. //

      In today’s cultures of continual rapid change, historical experience is quickly discarded and forgotten – if, indeed, it was ever learned. People are people, everywhere, and every child is a new beginning. Why would a child growing up in South Sudan respond any differently from a child growing up in London or Amsterdam to the seductions of noise and toys and liberation from the moral restraints of Christianity and natural law? With instant personal communications and a single global culture, the sensory and intellectual environment will be materially the same nearly everywhere. As the twig is bent, so will grow the child.

  14. G.D says:

    Thought this might be of interest …. From Daily Meditations of C.A.C. today …
    “You can call this …. the indwelling Holy Spirit, or just evolution toward union in love. God is not in competition with anybody, but only in deep-time cooperation with everybody who loves (Romans 8:28). Whenever we place one caring foot forward, God uses it, sustains it, and blesses it. Our impulse does not need to wear the name of religion.

    Love is the energy that sustains the universe, moving us toward a future of resurrection. We do not even need to call it love or God or resurrection for its work to be done.”

  15. Nektarios says:

    Scripture poses the question to us: ‘Can a man through sitting down and taking thought, find out God?’
    David Smith and G.D seem to be falling into that trap. For obviously the answer is no!
    All mankind, unless regenerated by God are totally dead to God, be they theologians, scientists, philosophers or religious. The pro-God lot to me are as dangerous as those who claim to be against God, like atheists, liberals and humanists and those who are in other religions who claim to know God when clearly they don’t, and their actions prove it.

    There is such a thing as a Godly fear, which means one who is attached to God. Only a regenerated person can be so attached to Him, none others can until they are regenerated.
    Where religion has caused fear, it is not fear of God, but fear of men. Along with such a fear, comes superstitious views and powers of priests and so-called powers.

    The heavens declare God’s glory.
    Yet we are only discovering little things and these scientists, the modern day high priests, tell us God is not there in the heavens. It only goes to show they know not God, or perceive His glory in the heavens. Worse, they would exclude the Creator all together as they cannot stand and outside agency acting on the universe.

    The universe is upheld and sustained by God’s word.
    G.D. Your argument excludes God from the universe He created and which till the end of it, He remains in control of it and sustaining it.

    Your view of the Holy Spirit would also exclude the Holy Spirit, with this liberal view.
    To be union with God and the Holy Spirit with as you wrote; “You can call this …. the indwelling Holy Spirit, or just evolution toward union in love.”
    Do you not know or understand the Scriptures you read?

    The Fallen man does not love God or His ways or rule, but they do love this world, which makes oneself an enemy of God.
    The love of God is very different. For example, this world loves, yes, but what does it love?
    Sin, Pride and Self.
    You need to be more careful G.D. with your words and ideas from whose literature you are imbibing.

    • Martha says:

      “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.”

      • Nektarios says:

        Martha

        And what sheep might they be?
        Jesus speaking to his followers, ‘if I be lifted up. I will draw all men unto Me.’
        He is speaking about the Gentile world, and out of every tribe and nation, He would draw them all into the Kingdom of God.

  16. Nektarios says:

    FZM

    You correctly wrote,” The church seems to be in the process of relocating outside the West, in the process some of the political issues and questions which have led to the rejection of Christianity in Western Europe may change or become less relevant because there isn’t the same shared historical experience. It also seems possible to me that the West is in a kind of terminal decline and the culture will somehow implode or end up changing significantly (there seems a serious tension between the scientism and the voluntarist post-modernist highly moralistic identity politics stuff that is becoming prevalent, for example.)”

    I do not know if you are aware this relocation is not a literal relocation but a joining of two religious groups that the present Pope is engaged in between Christianity and Islam. They may call it ‘Chrislam’ yet?

    What I notice with scientism, voluntarist post-modernist, highly identity politics, is the intolerance towards others who have a different view or understanding especially if one is a Christian. They want their sin and use politicians to get what they want with labels such as homophobic, Islamophobic, or transgender which can go all the way to court and land one in prison and are increasingly successful in shutting down free speech.

    The high moralist ground these virtue signalers and lobbyists take is really strange for it is a moral high ground only in sin. Morals are absent it would seem.

    For me as a Christian, I am exhorted to hold fast to the things that are surely believed among us.
    Thankfully I know what that is, but it is increasingly difficult for so many millions to access, even within so many Christian so-called Churches.
    I see very little hope apart from a mighty outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit in reviving power in revival.

    God is still on the Throne. The work of Salvation is not completed until everyone who is to become a child of God are redeemed and brought into the Kingdom of God. Keep the faith!

  17. Martha says:

    Nektarios, yes I think Our Lord meant mainly gentiles who would come to know Him through the teaching of His disciples and His church, but I hope and pray that He also means those who try to do the best that they know and understand despite not having the opportunity of truly knowing Him. This includes those who have not heard about Him, as well as those who have been given false teaching, or bad example and experiences.

    • Nektarios says:

      Martha
      It is the Lord who saves. He knows who are His. His arm isn’t shortened that it cannot save. If I be lifted up, said our Lord I will draw all men unto me. That is out of every tongue and tribe and Nation.
      We live and are in such days where false teachings abound. Millions have left Churches through bad examples and bad experiences. Yes, I would say they too will come into the Kingdom of God.
      We have a hope, therfore we pray accodingly, evangelise, preach the Gospel, and help others who on the surface have fallen through the net, or whose little faith was blighted by others.
      If many of such are His, woe to those who caused one of His little ones faith to fail or be corrupted, it would be better for them if they had not been born.

  18. John Thomas says:

    I’m sceptical about most things, or rather I question them; mostly, I’m secptical about the ideas and beliefs that govern the mores – contemporary culture, media values, governments/legal establishments’ assumptions – which are mainly governed/determined, not by scepticism, but confident belief in Materialism. Thus, I question materialism (I describe myself as a militant theist), and the notions and shibboleths that rule our world. Scepticism (about these things) and constant questioning of them, leads to Christianity, I hold.

    • Nektarios says:

      John Thomas

      My question on what you have written is: Does it lead to Christianity? If so every Church in the country would be full to overflowing, hmm?

    • David Smith says:

      John Thomas writes:

      // Thus, I question materialism (I describe myself as a militant theist), and the notions and shibboleths that rule our world. Scepticism (about these things) and constant questioning of them, leads to Christianity, I hold. //

      The utilitarian culture we inhabit makes scepticism all but necessary because it debases natural language, putting it solely in the service of someone’s desired end. Lying and dissimulation are thus permitted, even encouraged. Politicians and businessmen are the outstanding culprits, but, of course, the habit of lying and dissimulating bleeds over into the de facto moral code and into the everyday thinking and behavior of the general community.

  19. Nektarios says:

    Acquisition, materialistically for acquisition sake, stems from two sources, one is fear and the other the desire for more.
    It was St. Serafim of Sarov who coined the phrase (I think), acquire the Holy Spirit. Alas, for the materialist, one cannot acquire the Holy Spirit out of fear or the desire for more. He does not operate like that, but in acquiring the Holy Spirit, one is delivered from fear and the desire for more.

    Acquisition of the Holy Spirit changes our whole mindset towards materialism and to things, sets one free from such shackles that many find themselves in.
    Whether rich or poor, the desire to accumulate things, for more and more, remains. With Politicians, businessmen/ women, and dare I say it in religion too, the desire is for more money, bigger houses, with a pool of course, and power not to mention influence.

    So the problem with materialism for the sake of it is desire.
    On account of sin and fallen nature, desire is also fallen. There is nothing wrong with desire, for God created a desire in everyone.
    So it follows, that the way we use desire, is not right, the problem lies in our fallen nature using desire. So, acquire the Holy Spirit and then we will be using desire aright and find the balance in all things temporal and spiritual and in relationships.

  20. John Nolan says:

    I have gained a lot from reading all of the contributions to this thread, including those of Nektarios (believe it or not). I find it easy to believe in the Devil, since evil is manifest all around us. Yet it does not triumph, since God exists. That’s the best I can do, unfortunately.

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