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Monday, February 1, 2010

What Is A "Holy Spirit"?

This article ties directly to my essay below, and it was sparked by a response in the "comments" section.

The really big deal in Christianity is this thing called the "Holy Spirit". The assumption is that you must be "born again", and in order to be "born again", you must also join a legitimate, approved religion, and then follow their teachings. Yeah, right.

It is a natural tendency of people, when seeking truth, to try and find a truth that is collective. We seek "birds of a feather". Christianity has evolved this collective sense to make us believe that we cannot have any "legitimacy" before God unless we accept the officially authorized versions.

Actually, we can blow the "christian" definitions of "Holy Spirit" right out of the water simply by looking at the New testament itself.

The big verse that Christians point us to is in John chapter three. In verse 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God".

If we look at that term "born again' we see a difference from other passages, where the Greek "annagennao" is used, which literally means again born. Here we see reference to the greek word "anothen", which means "from above".

So, unless one is born "from above" one cannot see the kingdom of God.

Apparently Nicodemus had real trouble with that idea, and yet Jesus never went to great lengths to explain what he meant. He insinuated that Nicodemus should be familiar with the idea already if he were a rabbi of Israel.

Whatever "born again" did mean, it apparently had nothing to do with "fleshy" birth, as Jesus pointed out in verse six.

But this creates a very big problem. If the fleshy mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God, as Romans 8:7 tells us, and if, as Godel's theorem tells us, there simply is no way we can capture all truth into one neural net, one system of thought, how exactly do we go about determining what the "Holy Spirit" is?

Well, you can't "see" unless you are born of the spirit. And that tells us absolutely nothing at all.
There simply is no manual, no algorithm, no process by which we can logically deduct by our natural mind, what the "Holy Spirit" actually is, and the only way we can understand it is to be "born from above".

We would be forced to conclude, therefore, that if the christian religions are right, and if they actually do represent "Christ", then there would never be a logical, rational method of knowing if they ARE right or wrong. Such a choice to follow them would have to be a process of blind faith.

Yet Jesus himself, in Matthew 24, warned us to "take heed that no man deceive you...."

There must be some logical process to know what is right and what is not, but even by Jesus' admission, that process is simply not subject to our natural processes of thought. If we can rationally, logically decide on that process, there would be no need for many religions, yet Jesus warned his followers that "many will come in my name, and will deceive many".

That very statement by Jesus, in itself, indicates that there simply is no logical process by which we can reduce truth to one package. If we could, we already would have, which leaves us with one, and only one, logical choice to make: Follow no one, which is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 24:23.

Okay, let's say there was no Jesus. Well, that would mean it is not necessary to follow any man who comes in the name of Christ. Therefore, Jesus or no Jesus, the passage in Matthew 24;23 tells us the truth, any way you look at it!

To say that the "Holy Spirit" is simply a form of "crowd control", therefore, is to assume that the "christian" religions are correct, even thought they directly contradict not only simple logic, but the direct statement attributed to Jesus himself.

In fact, that is what Jesus indicated in John 3: 8: "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound therof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit."

There is no organizational capacity, no decision procedure to define the "Holy Spirit" and that in itself puts all so-called christian religions out of business.

Yet that is exactly what Paul told us in Romans 8:7, 8:29-30, and 9:16-22, not to mention such scripture as Ephesians 2:8-10.

You can't get "there" from "here".

But again, let's assume you can do so. If there is such a decision procedure that represents the Holy Spirit, then that procedure can be translated to algorithms, which can then be programmed, so that there will be no difference between a computer 'son of God' who is programmed with an identical process known as the Holy Spirit.

This reduces it to a "Turing Test" of truth. Alan Turing proposed such a test when he devised his "Universal Turing Machine', which was his mental creation of the first computer. Turing proposed that if you placed a computer of sufficient programming behind a wall, and had another person sitting beside the computer, a questioner on the other side of the wall, feeding both computer and person handwritten questions, should not be able to tell the difference between "man" and "machine".

But that is exactly what religions attempt to do when they insist that their religion, which is based on mechanical ideas about God, subject to the same laws of physics and limits of Godel's theorem, can somehow collectively represent God, when one person simply has no way of knowing! The simple realization is this: if collective religions can accurately represent God, then so can a computer, since computers are based on the same principles of mechanical rules of thought as religions!

If there is a "Holy Spirit", it cannot be subject to the limitations of rational, finite, logical processes of human thought, and that is exactly what both Jesus and Paul told us! It cannot be achieved by any "fleshy" process. No religion can possibly truthfully represent God, nor can any human individual do so!

So what is this "Holy Spirit" from a biblical perspective? Actually, Paul does describe it very well, but in doing so, he cancels the possible authority of ALL human organizations.

Jesus said there were two births, one of flesh, and one of spirit. The birth of spirit was 'from above'. But we have no evidence of anything 'from above', so we have no process of choice as to how we can achieve whatever it is.

Paul begins to define these two births in Romans 9:6, last part, "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.
"Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, 'In Isaac shall thy seed be called'.
"That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the PROMISE are counted for the seed.
"For this is the word of promise, 'At this time will I come, and Sarah shall have a son'. "

Israel, the physical descendants of Abraham, were "created" as a covenant nation at Sinai, yet the promise made to Abraham, said Paul, came four hundred thirty years before that covenant with Israel.

The conclusion is simple enough: anyone who was a "child of God" was to be born in just the same fashion, under just the same circumstances, as Isaac. They were born of that very promise, foreknown(as Isaac was) predestined(as Isaac was), called(as Isaac was) glorified(as Isaac was).

Paul further states in Galatians 4:28 that "Now we brethren, as Isaac was, are children of the promise".

Just as Isaac was, in the very same conditions stated in Romans 8:29-30. Either you're born of it, or you are not, and there is no way to tell otherwise.

It is both brilliant and simple. It is not dependent on human thought or human organization, or human decision procedures. The best that people can do is try to organize in the name of God, but they will always tend toward speciation and splintering. The "purpose" of all this is quite evidently NOT one of organizing people, but forcing them to confront the impotence of all such efforts. HWA did you all a favor, because he scammed you and allowed you to be free of all this crap.

But in fact, there never was any authority of men to establish God's kingdom by their own effort. It simply cannot be done.
Galatians 3:29 : "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise".

So what if there's no God? Then you can't ever truthfully organize in God's name. What if there is a God and Paul was correct? You STILL can't organize in God's name!

In either case, there is only one correct conclusion: you are free to make your own moral decisions, and you are to be left alone by others unless you harm another, after which you must be accused truthfully by others. That is the basis of the law and of grace.


Cosmopot said...

Interesting article, Ralph.

If I am understanding correctly, the "Holy Spirit" seems to go contrary against any kind of organization, according to the biblical passages you've pointed out. Agreed.

But then, what about the "church", and the descriptions of it given in the bible.

Looks an awful lot like an organization "in God's name" to me.

Not trying to be argumentative.

Just trying to point out (what looks to me as) one of the many contradictions that the bible seems to be full of, and why the bible seems to lend itself so easily to be used as a tool to decieve, confuse, and defraud people.

Purple Hymnal said...

Are you seriously advocating for the born-againer nonsense, Ralph?

You're making even less sense than Ted Johnston.....Which is saying a lot.

I had high hopes for this post, Ralph; I was expecting you to touch on the Torah and the Pharisaic Law, and the idea that "the Holy Spirit" died when the last of the OT prophets did, as far as the Jews are concerned. You didn't even bring up the Johannine Comma!

I think what you really need to do, Ralph, is research the real origins of "the bible" that you are quoting so eagerly from. "Paul" wasn't even Paul, you know! Robert Price says Paul was Simon Magus. Write an article on that, it would attract my attention. For that matter, I would urge you to read an article or two by Robert Price; Robert Price and Tom Harpur and Charles Templeton and...there is whole wealth of resources available to us with our (as you point out) free will.

Why limit yourself to the one "book" that has brought the most harm, to so many lives?

Sorry, Ralph, and James. I'll swing by when Alan steps up to bat, maybe. I have little use for the Christian canon in my life, and thus have no desire to argue hair-splitting points of an entirely disjointed, disparate, and three-millennia-spanning set of narratives that are ultimately little more than expansions upon the ancient Egyptian creation-myths.

Ralph said...

Let's explore the various comments above. The issue from "Purple Hymnal" is the authorship of "Paul's" writings. Let's say it wasn't Paul, let's say it was Simon Magus, or as we used to say in the marines, "Joe shit, the rag man".

Let's assume that I say to you "Joe shit over there says two plus two is four". This would be easily verifiable. You simply hold up two fingers, then another two fingers, and count them.

Let's look at the writings attributed to Paul in regard to truth. First, we go with the statement that the natural mind is enmity against God and cannot be subject to God. To test that hypothesis, we merely have to look at the logical results of such a statement. All we would have to do to prove Paul wrong is to show just ONE organization or church that fulfills the requirements such that there is no doctrinal confusion.

We already know that can't be done, and if it could, there wouldn't be 38,000 versions of christianity and growing.

By looking at the results, just as we see the results from holding up four fingers, we see truth by correspondence.

This would lead us to the next obvious and quite logical conclusion: there are no decision procedures to get us from "here' to "there". If there was, we could demonstrate it. What does "Paul" say about it? Simply read Romans 9:16-22. It cannot be done. There is no method to get there. All you have to do to prove me wrong, "Purple", is to show me just ONE organization that can show the completeness and consistency of its truth. I'll give you a hint on your outcome: take a look at Godel's theorem, which says that in any consistent axiomatic formulation of number theory(or any formal theory of sufficient complexity) there exists undecidable propositions. And the second part of that theorem says no such formal system can demonstrate its own consistency from within itself.

I can confidently say that you will not be able to show me such a system, which is exactly what Paul told us. Can't be done. But if it could, that same knowledge becomes programmable, so that a computer can not only become a copy of the Holy Spirit, it will BE, by every possible human definition, the Holy Spirit!

And what does Jesus tell us? Matthew 24. He tells his followers that there will be confusion and deception. Why? Well, for the obvious reasons stated in Godel's theorem. Truth cannot be reduced to a mechanical, finite, rational process of thought.

Therefore, your arguments are crushed, since it does not matter who "Paul" was, since he told us the truth in that regard.

And what about Jesus in Matthew 24? Well, if there is no way for the human mind to separate truth from deception, there can ONLY BE ONE correct choice: do not chose any religious concept of man. And that is precisely what Jesus said in Matthew 24:23.

Therefore, any statement that Jesus or Paul made about being "born again" would have to be consistent with those facts, and, as I have shown above, they are.

Do I believe in this? It doesn't matter. Either it is true, or it isn't and in either case, I can't change it. Either there are children, as Paul says, who are born of the promise to Abraham, as Isaac was, which would mean I am free from any proclaimed organization that calls itself a church, and if there is no God and no promise, I am still free. In either case, the result is the same, so Paul tells truth as far as it can be proven, but the result, in either case, is that you are free from all human organizations.

So, as far as any human mind can demonstrate thus far, Paul and Jesus, whoever they were, told us the truth.

Okay, let's say it wasn't Jesus. Is it true? Yes it is.

If a statement is true, the authorship is irrelevant, just as your argument above is irrelevant. Truth is truth, even if the author is Satan.

Purple, you'll have to do better than that.

Dr Zoidberg said...

Wow Ralph, you've been a busy boy!

If God in omnipresent, and God is One, then all that exists (in our universe) had to unfold or emerge from that oneness.

Nothing that emerges from that oneness is separate from its source - the oneness that is God. Christians clearly believe this when they say "God upholds the creation".

If there is a spirit in Mankind, that spirit must also be from that oneness. There can't be a human spirit vs a "Holy Spirit" the two have to be one in the same.

Because free-will has been granted, and humans do have localized identities (personalities) along with local processing of sensory information and because Heisenberg's uncertainty principle guarantees that each human will have a slightly different view of things than another we all have different experiences and views on what we call reality. But at the core of what animates us and gives intelligence there is no separation of humans from the source.

Humans do have a choice though, they can let the light of God shine through them, or they can shut out the light and live in their localized identities and harm other humans. Many humans are quite content to remain as dark singularities under the bushel basket of the illusion of separateness. But some do see the bigger picture and see the light of God in all mankind - even those who it doesn't shine brightly through yet - and do amazing and wonderful things in their lives.

Ralph said...

Dr Zoidberg, yes, good arguments, and yes, IF there exists a God such that "he" is creator of all that is, then there is no separation.

However, one can also posit that "truth" is such that we cannot be separate from it, a mnanifestation of that truth. The problem is, there is no way to access that truth in one complete package and organize it according to human limited understanding, The harder we try, the more tendency toward splintering and speciation of religious ideas.

Of course in Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, we can measure one aspect of reality, but the more accurately we measure that aspect, the less we are able to measure its complement, as in the position/velocity of an electron.

The "Copenhagen Interpretation" of this put forth by Heisenberg and Bohr is that the electron didn't actually "exist" until we measured that spect of its existence. If it existed in "space"(position), it didn't exist in "time"(velocity).

This would suggest that we aren't measuring reality in a 3 dimensional form as we see in the more "classical" physics, but that we are assigning properties to a measurement.

But that is precisely what Bohr said was so amazing. The very idea that something is brought into recognized existence simply by measurement! Mind blowing!

In the beginnng was the word(logos)....