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Reflection Essay

#1 Albert Einstein wrote: I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings. Please discuss.

We as a human species, curious about the natural world, have always been fascinated with the unknown. God, Dyeus, Zeus, Allah, Vishnu, Vhigur, Raam, Apollo, Elohay, Brahma are all products of this fascination, these are rationalistic explanation for the unexplainable in life. A millennium before a volcano erupted wiping a whole village; the event became a myth and was explained away in a story where the Gods were so angry they wiped the village that brought out the anger. This is a perfect example where God meddles with the activities and life of humans. Humanity is the self-important creature that designed the concept of God to explain
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and rationalize its mistakes, actions, natural phenomena, suffering, hope and joy and by doing that made this God (a supposedly sentient, unreachable and greater than anything force in our world) responsible for humanity. In other words God is a concept designed by humans which states that God is the unreachable, incomprehensible sovereign and at the same time saying that He cares about the fates of humans. Spinozas version of God is the natural order of things in the world, this natural order while encompassing humans does not directly influence fates and actions of humans (Ives). Spinozas God encompasses everything: physical and mental, but He does not directly interfere/respond or influence humans. Albert Einstein, a German physicist once said: I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings. The fact was that up to 1656 most versions of God in the world concerned themselves with humans, mostly because they were described and formed by humans from the beginning, that was how religion was build. Spinoza, a Jewish philosopher, begun a new enlightened age where reason and science dominate, he advocated that God was nature and that Gods Laws are the laws of nature and humans play a role in this as all the other creatures: by simple existence and interaction with nature. David Ives wrote a play titled New Jerusalem, this was the interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah congregation in Amsterdam on July 27, 1656. Spinoza in the play and in reality was questioned about his views on God and was excommunicated for his evil opinions from Amsterdam and Jewish community. Spinozas evil opinions were that God is one with nature; He is not separated from our world and reality but is the world and our reality. As Ives said All objects and creatures and thoughts and ideas in the universe must be modifications of this single substance conceived under two attributes, the physical and the mental (pg-54). The
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substance that makes up the universe, objects, and ideas is God to Spinoza. Gods laws are the laws of nature, the laws of light heat and gravity. Comparing Laws of Nature to opposing religions like the Ten Commandments, and Jewish articles of Faith made Spinozas idea a threat to the existing religions. So Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish community and Amsterdam but his ideas lived on and formed the basis for the coming age of Enlightenment: reason dominated by science. To the modern human Spinozas God is more acceptable, if one would go to watch David Ives New Jerusalem it is Spinozas rational thinking and passion for philosophy that convinces the audience to side with Spinoza rather than the Talmud Torah Congregation. The Congregation in these modern times was portrayed as close-minded, callous society of fanatics. In reality the Talmud Torah Congregation during the late sixteen hundreds was a fairly open-minded, forgiving, and fair congregation but increased anti-Jewish sentiment across most of Europe by the Catholics and other religious groups after the Muslims were conquered made it a dangerous age to be a Jew (Lavender). Spinozas heretic views were tried to be used to further restrict or even break the Jewish Congregations agreement with Amsterdam to safely practice Judaism and was dangerous for the Jews because not many places tolerated them in Europe in those days. Spain and Portugal after the Christian Inquisition either exiled or converted their Jews, and Spinozas relatives were some of the ones that were exiled from Spain and Portugal (Lavender). So the Torah Congregation had two choices: 1) excommunicate Spinoza and save their strained agreement with Amsterdam or 2) spare Spinoza and be exiled or converted by Amsterdam. The rational and popular choice for the Torah Congregation was then to excommunicate Spinoza because the Jews did not want to leave Amsterdam for someone whose ideas they did not share.

Spinozas God is revealed, after the stifling curtain of Judaism and Christianity, to be a breath of rationality and understanding. Humans are asking for centuries, dealing with the grief and loss, why God continues the worlds injustices; why a close friend and relative has to die in a horrifying and undeserved way; why disease wipes out a whole family that obsessively worshiped God but a killer battling the same disease got to live; why an 8.0 earthquake strikes in Idaho, an area with no serious earthquake history or preparation- the answer to this using the normal religious belief was always because it is Gods way, and we the mere speck in his world cannot possibly comprehend Him but Spinozas God made these injustices to be part of our world because Nature/Gods Laws do not cover justice fairness and karma, these are human concepts and cannot be applied to this world. Justice fairness and karma are not Natures Laws, these are human interpretation of what the world should be and like the human interpretation of God it is false. I believe in Spinozas God like Einstein. It is an elegant, simple, reasonable belief that can explain everything: this is a truly rational concept of God. However rationality is also a human invention the universe, nature/God does not reason with itself, so there stands a problem of using rationality (a human invention) to rationalize God (something beyond us and in us and everything that we are or think). Then there is a problem that in order to believe in this theory people would have to give up the God that participates in their life and fate for a God that doesnt care about these people; people would have to give up hope of a miracle. Miracle and hope is something that applies to the God that directly presides over peoples prayers and wishes. Hope is something that people need and so they are reluctant to believe in Spinozas God who doesnt give preference to human wishes over the wishes of other living things. Humanity will never truly know if this concept of God is right or wrong, it will forever be one of those
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unanswered questions like the movie that has humans build a supercomputer that tries to find God and the supercomputer never can, eventually the story becomes a myth and humans forgot about the question that was never answered or who tried to answer it. Persons version of God becomes something the person can live with, weather reasonable or not. In Ives play Mortera could not accept Spinozas God because he could not give up his ancestors history, hope of miracles, and faith in his own God for a God that leaves Mortera to himself without a heavenly support system. But this is Morteras God so what is yours?

Citations
P: Ives, David. New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza At Talmud Torah Congregation, Amsterdam July 27, 1656. Dramatists Play Service: New York, 2012. P: Professor Lavender. History of Baruch De Spinoza. Florida International University Honors College: IDH class 1001.Oct 23, 2012. P: Play performed by Honors college on Oct. 24, 2012. Ives, David. New Jerusalem: The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza At Talmud Torah Congregation, Amsterdam July 27, 1656. Dramatists Play Service: New York, 2012.