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Idealism and God

  1. Jul 28, 2004 #1
    I grew up in a Catholic family. The first thing that I remember reading was the Catechism.

    Q: Who made me?
    A: God made me.
    Q: Why did God make me?
    A: God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him in the next.

    I was six years old and already knew the important questions and answers of life. Today, many years later, I find that these answers are not satisfying.

    I read books that inform me that most American citizens are philosophical Idealists. An Idealist is one who is conscious of a dual reality. There is matter and there is spirit. Thought, especially theoretical thought, is a characteristic activity of spirit. Consciousness is a property of spirit. Consciousness can be detached from the concrete human subject. Matter is not and cannot be considered as the ultimate reality.

    When I plead skepticism to the assumption that most American citizens are Idealist I am informed that the vast majority of US citizens, when polled, indicate that they are religious or, if not religious, are “spiritual”.

    Why are most Americans (I restrict this to Americans because I am not informed as to how others believe but I am convinced that this is a human reality) philosophical Idealists? We are Idealist because we are afraid of the dark. We want a hand to hold and do not trust that hand to be our fellows because we know our fellows are mostly a bunch of fools. We are Idealists because we seek security and we find security embedded in some form of intellectual constancy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2004 #2
    Church attendance, I have heard, is decreasing in number every year, but that doesn't determine the fact that the world is becoming less religious -- some people may prefer to worship in private rather than in a gathering. However, it has become apparant that people are making their own "religions" and becoming more idealistic rather than subject themselves to follow the guidelines of pre-made religions. Pre-made in the sense that all the rules of worship etc have already been written and predefined, as in Christianity (not saying that's a bad thing!).

    I looked up the definition of Idealism - Belief that only mental entities are real, so that physical things exist only in the sense that they are perceived.

    These days, people are looking for more than just a God to believe in, look up to and worship. It's just how the world has developed and changed. Things are not as simple or as black/and/white as they used to be. When things were black and white, there was just wrong or right. There wasn't really justice or fairness. It was either win or lose, thus meaning it was either you believed in God or you didn't. (I'm just neglecting other religions for now, this is mainly concerning the reason why people are less willing to submit to Christianity).

    This morning I read a Jehovah's Witness booklet that was put in our letterbox, and I swear it was the biggest bunch of bullsh*t I have ever read in my life. And then I realised why so many people at school refuse to even bow their heads in respect when the revered makes us pray in chapel at school. I'm not Christian, but I bow my head in respect anyway since there's no harm in doing so. But, basically the booklet said that only God's people have the right to live and thrive on this Earth, because God a.k.a. Jehovah created Earth for these people. And those who do not worship God must worship the Devil and they'll all be damned to death when the world reaches Armageddon. How does that make non-Christians feel? I realise that most people would probably react indifferently to that statement, but that doesn't rule out the fact that the statement itself is just... wrong, shallow, hypocritical.

    People now resort to calling themselves "spiritual" because of things like that. How do you expect people to accept that if they don't comply with every single one of God's Commandments or rules of the Bible -- they're going to be damned. Labelling themselves as "spiritual" gives them a lot of room, and doesn't define them or restrict people to a certain religion or belief. Labelling oneself as "spiritual" also lets others to withstand from labelling YOU because of your religion. Being "spiritual" or "idealistic" merely means that you're not Athiest or Agnostic, and you believe in something, nevermind what that something is. It gives people more freedom, and free will. Who could refuse the call of free will?

    Also -- I'm Australian, not American -- so I'm not sure what I've said really relates to America, but I hope it answers some questions anyway. I came onto this forum thinking I'd get some help with my Grade 11 Physics Prac, I didn't think I'd end up discussing philosophy, which is my secret passion. Heehee.
  4. Jul 28, 2004 #3

    Keep up the good work. I admire and thank goodness for you teachers who are on the front lines. I wish our society recognized better the effort in which you all are engaged.
  5. Jul 28, 2004 #4
    as another 'fallen' catholic, i can only say that the answers to my questions were not satisfying. the 'accept our answer on faith' and 'don't look for answers yourself' only pushed me to more questions.

    after 40+years of seeking different answers, i have come to the conclusion that we each have our own individual answer at any given time.

    i believe that being an idealist is one of the highest attributes we can have. i mean, striving toward my ideal. this, for me, includes the spiritual. i can understand and accept atheism or any other belief.

    i do enjoy discussing beliefs with people that follow an organized religion. usually, they have not thought for themselves. they accepted the teachings of yore and usually believe that this is the way to heaven or avoiding hell or whatever.

    i firmly believe that there is no heaven or hell. they defy logic. being in any one setting for eternity when there is an infinite universe, just does not make sense. reincarnation makes more sense and without time, we are living all lives at once. there is inter-play between each through our spiritual self.

    we are an energy being enjoying the universe as a playground. being too serious is as damaging to our purpose as being disrespectful.

    so, let's respectfully play our game and live up to our ideals. life can be fun.

    olde drunk
  6. Jul 28, 2004 #5

    Tom Mattson

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    Most American citizens can't spell "philosophical idealist". If you try to tell Joe Schmoe that nothing he sees exists apart from his perception of it, and that he can't really know that the moon is still there when it's on the other side of the Earth , he'll probably just automatically think you're a looney and laugh about it when he's at happy hour slurping Budweisers with his friends. Americans place an extraordinarily high priority on material life.

    Isn't that dualism? I thought that idealism was a monist philosophy. If you mean this dualist philosophy when you say, "philosophical idealism" then yes, most Americans hold to the both "here and now" and the "hereafter". But by far, most everyone I know places a greater emphasis on the former. I get the impression that they don't really believe the latter too strongly (unless they're counting on god's grace at a deathbed confession).
  7. Jul 28, 2004 #6
    Olde Drunk

    Amen Brother/Sister I am with you
  8. Jul 28, 2004 #7

    When I used the words dual reality I meant that Idealist believe that there is a reality of matter and that there is a totally seperate one of spirit. My understanding of Idealism is that they believe exactly that same thing.
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