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I USED TO GET MAD AT SPINOZA FOR USING THE WORD, ‘GOD.’

June 5th, 2012 | Posted by Dick in Papers - Things Of Reason | Papers - Things of Understanding | Philosophy

I owe a debt of gratitude to someone who emailed me recently about this blog. I wrote back with the following:
 I used to get mad at Spinoza for using the word, ‘GOD.’ I felt much the same way about Bill Wilson of AA . I would put a penciled X over the word and write’ energy’ or ‘symmetry,’ above it. But both Bill and Baruch were stress damaged individuals like me. Ultimately, both men redefined the word, ‘God,’ rather than throw it in the trash.  Wilson called God,  ‘higher power,’ and Spinoza called God, ‘nature.’
 Spinoza said because we are finite in an infinite universe, we would never know anything if things in the universe didn’t tell us what they are. The chief thing that tells us what we are, Spinoza said, is the higher power, using Wilson’s word. Because we experience things in the universe, we know there is a higher power that makes sense of them or that “I am part of the whole of Nature whose order I follow.” (Spinoza).
 However, Spinoza says the higher power is not a part of time or duration but eternal or present in each moment we experience. We observe nature to see how things fit into the whole. I describe what I have observed as: ‘The meaning of life: energy (nature) recycles.’ I don’t fully know what this means as trees have spring buds that turn into leaves in the summer, then drop to the ground in the fall, to be composted by nature and recycled, so is our life.
 Spinoza says the mind, which is the process by which the brain connects to things, is eternal. Or as science says with the First Law of Thermodynamics, ‘energy is conserved.’
 I could go on but I won’t. When you read Spinoza, either get Samuel Shirley’s or Edwin Curley’s translations. Begin with the first part of The Emendation of the Intellect. To emend is to cure. About halfway through, this book gets quite obscure so quit till later.
 The most important book to read and reread is: God, Man And His Well Being.  This is Spinoza’s theory of knowledge. He wrote it only for his friends. It contains ideas that would have gotten him burned at the stake as he says there is no creation and that God and Nature are the same thing, and so forth.
 Then go to Part 5 of The Ethics where he expresses,”…The power of reason or way leading to freedom.” The first half explains how to get freedom while the second part discusses the blessedness of our freedom in GOD or the higher power.
 Don’t expect to understand Spinoza in one reading. I’ve been reading and meditating on his words for over 10 years and every day there is a fresh insight. 
 We will never understand why the thing we call, ‘higher power,’ exists.  Spinoza knew, as scientists do, that this involves the ‘halting problem,’ or infinite regress. Spinoza said he had been able to find only a few things about what the higher power is, i.e. it exists in nature and thinking and its essence is eternity, energy and demonstration in everything that exists.
 But we can know how the higher power works and  gives us work, because it is demonstrated in our lives everyday if we have eyes to see and the intellect to comprehend, i.e. to understand. An intellect, cured of the entropy that accompanies energy (inadequate thinking for humans and exhaust for cars and so forth).
 I had to let go of the anger that my job as a guard gave me, along with the guilt and regret caused by my son’s death. I had to turn them over to a higher power that works in me as it does in all things that evolve out of its symmetry.
 I do this even though I do not know why it does this, only that it has given me work to do.
 I imagine that you have gathered that I don’t believe the higher power is human, i.e. a superhuman in the heavens. Since the beginning of humanity, we have called upon a higher power to make sense of our lives.  First humans imagined things in nature or God, i.e. trees, turtles, or what have you.
 Then in the middle east they came upon the idea that God was a human like us only more powerful. We need to grow beyond this anthropomorphism which is very laughable if you really consider it.

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