Uncommon Sense

August 2, 2021

The Man Behind THE MAN

Filed under: Philosophy,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:18 am
Tags: , ,

Question: Who did the most to shape the concept of the Christian god? You are probably thinking of Paul or even Jesus, but they are not even close . . . it was Plato.

Plato’s philosophy revolved around the idea of “Forms.” Forms were the perfect example behind every real example. So, if we were to draw a triangle, say, on a piece of paper with a straight edge and a sharp pencil, we could only draw an imperfect representation of a perfect triangle. Perfect triangles are beyond our grasp. For Plato, all things had a Form, a perfect state which, of course could not, be found as they exist in an abstract state but independent of minds in their own realm. He could have said, beyond space and time, but I don’t think he did.

Since men were “things” there had to be a perfect Form for humanity, of course, and guess who that was. Plato’s supreme god is unlike the fickle, jealous, quarrelsome gods of the Greek pantheon, his god is distanced from compassion for human tragedy, because compassion is a passion or emotion. For Plato, the character of the true deity is not merely goodness, but also oneness and while he didn’t make the connection himself, it also represents perfection. Being perfect, the supreme god is without passions, since passions involve change from one mood to another, and it is in the nature of perfection that it cannot change. This passionless perfection contrasts with the passion, compassion, and constant intervention of Israel’s God.

It is hard to imagine how Plato’s god could create the sort of changeable, imperfect, messy world in which we live or even have any meaningful contact with it. While the Hebrews had a god who walked around with them, tenting as it were, Plato’s god wouldn’t be caught dead doing such things.

Plato’s philosophy was, of course, bankrupt, but it did frame out a god piece for humanity. Plato took the idea of an absolute, that doesn’t exist because there is no incremental path or set of corrections from being imperfect to being perfect. An absolute might be an imaginary goal that gets us to stretch ever closer to something near perfect, but one has to realize that the absolute of anything is an imaginary thing. Plato not only stated that all absolutes were real, but had a residence where they could receive mail. But Plato’s realm of forms would have to be static as if all things are perfect nothing could change.

I don’t know if Plato worked backward from a concept of a god as a perfect form of man to which we could never measure up and then applied that scheme to everything else or whether the idea grew from the idea of imagined absolutes and just found a natural connection between man and the concept of a god.

If the god of Plato is God, then there could only be one (I heard that from a guy who called himself The Highlander) as anything different had to be less than perfect. And, like the other Forms, this god couldn’t live amongst the hoi polloi, now could he? He had to live “an abstract state but independent of minds in (his) own realm.” But as a special thing, you could go join Plato’s god in his realm when you die, presumable as the perfect form of yourself. Of course, this Form of you would go on forever, because it is static with nothing changing, not your shape, position, behavior, nothing. Maybe this is why there are so few descriptions of what the heaven waiting for us are actually is. (Welcome to Static City, the City That Won’t Change on You!)


1 Comment »

  1. The Christian god as we know him today is mostly a 19th Century creation. While Garibaldi was gaining ground and the Pope was locked up he issued more decrees than ever in the history of the Vatican. Restrictions, canonizations, orders, it was a festival of manipulation.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by The Pink Agendist — August 3, 2021 @ 5:30 pm | Reply

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