Robert C. Priddy

Writings on diverse themes from philosophy, psychology to literature and criticism

  • Robert Priddy

    In this blog I post information and critical views concerning ideologies, belief systems and related scientific materials etc. I am a retired philosophy lecturer and researcher, born 1936.

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Posts Tagged ‘inner path’

Theism and the ‘God Within’ ploy

Posted by robertpriddy on November 6, 2011

Theism involves belief in the existence and influence of a transcendental Creator. Because of the impossibility of providing the slightest unambiguous empirical proof of this imagined Being, those who find this position untenable have tended towards imagining that God resides only within the individual person’s deepest reality… in the human “heart”.  It can be discovered within oneself and experienced, it is found through variously differing ‘methods’ from prayer, to meditation, doing good works to simply having steadfast faith (in the supposed God). These ideas are widespread in Hinduism and the teachings of the mystics of most traditions. Christianity is increasingly turning towards this apparent way out. So-called New Age writers and gurus are among the most active promoters of the “inner path” and the ‘universal super consciousness’ which is equated with God. The location of this is supposedly everywhere and the route to it is via the “human heart”. The appeal to ‘the heart’ as superior to ‘the head’ is a numinous but ultimately vague and confused conception arising from primitive beliefs that the mind resided in the beating heart rather than in the brain. The physical heart is thus considered (most wrongly) to be the seat of human emotions and even of human wisdom and judgement.

To claim, as in some religions, that “all people are divine in essence” or Divinity is like a spark in everyone (and/or in every living being) is not to eliminate the assumption of the existence of God, it is simply to assuage the perplexed by diverting attention from the inability of proving that God has a separate existence – invisible, inscrutable, beyond human intelligence and ‘out there somewhere’. Others insist that God is both ‘within and without’. The inner reality of God is stated in a variety of summary ways – all of them without exception – when looked at closely – vague and ultimately insubstantial. The simplest version is perhaps ‘God is Everything’. Another is ‘All is one Divine Consciousness’. Both imply that we are God. However, to explain to unbelievers how we are not aware of this, God is said to be “within us all”, though our born ignorance, ego desires and much else hide the fact from us. Advaita holds that God is our true nature, that we really are God (sometimes qualified by ‘in essence’). Indian gurus preach advaitic variants like ‘God resides as consciousness in the heart’, ‘God is omnipresent’ and many other such vague and always untestable imagined conditions. The highly misguided doctrine of ‘god within’ is often promoted in mantra-like repetitions. None of it makes any proper sense because it is totally divorced from anything whatever which is observable by anyone anywhere. It rests entirely a a handed-down belief… that God is Almighty Creator and Ruler of All. “The scientific method is rejected in favour of revelation, belief and otherworldly projections and hopes, and one is trained to construct and maintain a view of reality which fits the mould set by the guru.” (Kramer & Alstead, ‘The Guru Papers’). This doctrine – known as advaita – incomplete and full of sheer speculation – is itself what one might call the final outcome of a long process of rejection of God concepts.

Human history presents a desolate mindscape of broken beliefs, especially religious beliefs which have
successively had to be abandoned because they could no longer be upheld in the face of mankind’s increasing discoveries of a majority of the actual causes of every kind of phenomena. Nonetheless, the remnant religious beliefs still rule the lives of billions of earth’s inhabitants… idols, deities, holy incarnations, holy places, holy men and women, saints, avatars. The various theologies of each religion meet with more and more insuperable difficulties in explanation, whereupon they retreat more and more into the abstract and the mystical.

The flat earthers eventually had to bow before Columbus’ discovery, the earth-centered universe before Copernicus, while scientific advance after advance dispelled all manner of false religious ideas concerning the earth’s history, human origins, the causes of all manner of human suffering, and even the origin and development of the entire universe. The flight of religion into the insubstantial bastion of the abstract and the unknown – that there are mysteries we cannot fathom because they are God’s preserve – is the result. Christianity usually asserts the ‘Holy Ghostliness’ of God, advaita the total but entirely unseen permeation of everything and everybody totally with incorporeal God. Theologies which put some limitation on God – like Catholicism, has to invoke Satan as God’s weaker counterpart even today to try to explain ignorance, wrong-doing and all that is fearful and destructive in mankind and nature. The doctrine of there being both eternal heaven and hell most likely go right back to early mankind’s attempt to explain the mysterious fact of the unreachable sky and the fearful outflows of volcanic magma.

I have written a somewhat lengthy analysis which shows the degree of conceptual and general confusion that reigns throughout these sectarian ideas.
God is everything, in everyone – as a spiritual teaching 

also Advaita – historical flight into abstraction and speculation

and The Ultimate Fallacy, which I wrote here some time ago.


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