The Infinite Qualitative Difference

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Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 08:42 am
"God and man are two qualities between which there is an infinite qualitative difference. Every doctrine which overlooks this difference is, humanly speaking, crazy; understood in a godly sense, it is blasphemy." -Anti-Climacus, 1849

In contrast to the prevailing natural theology of Kierkegaard's time, including Hegelian Christianity, Kierkegaard stressed what he dubbed the infinite qualitative difference. Kierkegaard argued that Christian theologies which posit a God that is worldly is merely paganism in disguise:

"If God had taken the form, for example, of a rare, enormously large green bird, with a red beak, that perched in a tree on the embankment and perhaps even whistled in an unprecedented manner - then our partygoing man would surely have had his eyes opened... All paganism consists in this, that God is related directly to a human being, as the remarkably striking to the amazed."

For Kierkegaard, natural theologies have betrayed one of the fundamental messages of the Christian Bible, which Karl Barth once summed up: "God is in heaven, and thou art on earth". Since the Christian Churches of his day believed in natural theology, it led Kierkegaard to believe, among other reasons, that they are most insidious tools against Christianity.

As opposed to natural theology, Kierkegaard suggests a Christianity which offers a narrative about how to live and to appropriate the narrative accordingly into one's life. The divinity of Jesus' God-incarnate status or the Christian ethic to "Love Thy Neighbour", for example, are something to be believed in or taken offense to, as opposed to natural theologians who attempt to "prove" that Christianity is objectively true.

By doing this, Kierkegaard wants us to make the most of one's life and "live like an individual":

Do you live in such a way that this consciousness is able to secure the time and quiet and liberty of action to penetrate every relation of your life? This does not demand that you withdraw from life, from an honorable calling, from a happy domestic life. On the contrary, it is precisely that consciousness which will sustain and clarify and illuminate what you are to do in the relations of life. You should not withdraw and sit brooding over your eternal accounting. To do this is to deserve something further to account for. You will more and more readily find time to perform your duty and your task, while concern over your eternal responsibility will hinder you from being "busy" and busily having a hand in everything possible -- an activity that can best be called: time-wasting.

In other words, stop worrying about an afterlife ("the eternal accounting") and live your current life to the fullest. A worldly God is a distraction and "a hinderance" on your precious time on Earth.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 10:40 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;173370 wrote:

In other words, stop worrying about an afterlife ("the eternal accounting") and live your current life to the fullest. A worldly God is a distraction and "a hinderance" on your precious time on Earth.


I completely agree with this.

---------- Post added 06-05-2010 at 11:46 AM ----------

Victor Eremita;173370 wrote:

For Kierkegaard, natural theologies have betrayed one of the fundamental messages of the Christian Bible, which Karl Barth once summed up: "God is in heaven, and thou art on earth". Since the Christian Churches of his day believed in natural theology, it led Kierkegaard to believe, among other reasons, that they are most insidious tools against Christianity.

Where is Heaven in this case? I think of Heaven as symbolic of the state of bliss man is capable of on Earth when his heart is full of love. "The kingdom of Heaven is within you."

The danger of putting God too far away lies in idolatry, in my opinion. If God is just a concept, a duty, then he is no longer "worshiped in Spirit and in Truth." For me, the essence of religion is a feeling that transcends concepts, beliefs, etc. One must be in love with existence.Smile
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sat 5 Jun, 2010 06:18 pm
@Reconstructo,
Quote:

Where is Heaven in this case? I think of Heaven as symbolic of the state of bliss man is capable of on Earth when his heart is full of love. "The kingdom of Heaven is within you."

The danger of putting God too far away lies in idolatry, in my opinion. If God is just a concept, a duty, then he is no longer "worshiped in Spirit and in Truth." For me, the essence of religion is a feeling that transcends concepts, beliefs, etc. One must be in love with existence.Smile


Kierkegaard couldn't believe the gall with which man attempts to understand the Christian God. That an infinite being can be entirely comprehended by finite beings is a contradiction in terms.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 6 Jun, 2010 01:38 am
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita;173599 wrote:
Kierkegaard couldn't believe the gall with which man attempts to understand the Christian God. That an infinite being can be entirely comprehended by finite beings is a contradiction in terms.


I can understand that. I have wrestled with this a little. Let's assume there is an infinite God. To what degree can a finite mind understand this God? Would not the finite mind be forced to cut God down to size? One might suggest that God could lift this finite mind up.

I strongly value the Christian tradition. I just look at it from a perspective much like Blake's.

I'm also quite fascinated by the question of the infinite as it concerns mathematics. I don't think man can conceive of the actual infinite but only the potential infinite. This is just my opinion. Others might claim to intuit the actual infinite. From my perspective, sensation and emotion are infinite until we sqeeze them into finite concepts. So for me, religion involves the senses and the emotions, especially beauty, pleasure, and love. I suspect this is quite different from K's view. I have read a little but not much. In any case, I wish you well, even if we have different opinions on these matters. I'm grateful to talk to anyone who thinks about such matters. Smile
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Wed 9 Jun, 2010 11:18 pm
@Reconstructo,
"Others might claim to intuit the actual infinite."

Yup, that's pretty much Kierkegaard's argument with the Danish Hegelians like Heiberg and Martensen on their interpretation of Hegel's rational Christianity.
 
de Silentio
 
Reply Mon 21 Jun, 2010 06:41 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Victor Eremita wrote:

Kierkegaard couldn't believe the gall with which man attempts to understand the Christian God. That an infinite being can be entirely comprehended by finite beings is a contradiction in terms.


The Absolute Paradox (Philosophical Fragments) points to the fact that God imparts knowledge of Himself on man.

It may be that we cannot fathom the infinite, but we can fathom God. In fact, it is by the leap that we come to know God. Just as Isaac was given back to Abraham by faith, man knows God by faith. (but... what kind of knowing am I talking about?!?)
 
jack phil
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 09:25 pm
There is no such thing as the infinite.
 
north
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 10:03 pm
@jack phil,
jack phil wrote:

There is no such thing as the infinite.


there is actually

something and energy are infinite
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Tue 22 Jun, 2010 11:27 pm
The problem with understanding the general concept of infinity in relation to a God is transferring the simplified rule for making infinity onto a being. A simplified rule for infinity would be +1. We tend to see infinity as a a series if individual integers, or things that can be counted. How are we supposed to apply this concept onto a singular entity? or infinite power, power is at least nebulous but is seen as at least a mass radiating from somewhere, it is also metaphorically seen in size which is also measurable. How are we supposed to apply this model to a being?
 
 

 
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