Revisit a section from God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher through the dramatic adaptation, and dive into the dynamic discussion between philosophers over the 'big picture.' Does philosophical tradition get the big picture and ultimate reality wrong?
Better understand God's message in the book by exploring the self behind the self, the God beyond God, and the Atman, or soul of God. Jerry explains which God spoke to him, the reincarnations of God, and the paradox of same and different.
The discussion looks at pain, God's loneliness, God's knowledge of the plan or telos, and the actualization of God within this world. Learn about the creative force of God and the disruption that the rest of reality creates, beginning with the Big Bang or God's birth.
Join host Scott Langdon as he connects Dr. Richard Oxenberg and Dr. Jerry L. Martin in this discussion for the series: Where Two Philosophers Wrestle with God, Dialogue Five- The Big Picture.
Dr. Oxenberg has written: On the Meaning of Human Being: Heidegger and the Bible in Dialogue.
Read God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher.
Begin the dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher
Related Episodes: [Two Philosophers Wrestle With God] The Big Picture [Part 1] [Part 2]; The Nature Of Divine Reality [Part 1] [Part 2]; Purpose [Part 1] [Part 2]; Revelation [Part 1] [Part 2]; [Dramatic Adaptation] God Explains Polytheism In A Way I Understand
Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is GOD: an Autobiography, the Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: an Autobiography, as Told to a Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him.
Scott Langdon [00:00:59] Episode 74. Hello and welcome to Episode 74 of GOD: an Autobiography, the Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon, your host. With Episode 74, we return to our series where two philosophers wrestle with God and give you part one of dialogue number give between doctors Jerry L. Martin and Richard Oxenberg. In this episode, Richard asks about what God and Jerry called (in their conversations about this topic) the 'big picture.' What's it all about? What is the point of it all? They also begin to explore what was revealed to Jerry to be the Atman of God, or, as Jerry writes about it in the book, the God beyond God. Here's a clip from episode sixteen of our podcast, which is the dramatic adaptation of this section of the book referenced by Richard. In this clip, Jerry, as he does throughout the entire audio adaptation in episodes one through forty-four, speaks the voice of God.
Jerry L. Martin as God [00:02:18] Before Creation, I am pure spirit sufficient unto Myself. I felt I was lacking something, grounding, facticity, the blunt materiality, the hard edge to push oneself against the resistance and friction that physical objects have. So out of My Being, a world spun.
Scott Langdon [00:02:57] That was a clip from episode 16 of our podcast. Remember, you can hear the complete audio adaptation of the book any time by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through episode 44. Here now is part one of dialogue number five. We begin this dialog with Jerry speaking first. I hope you enjoy the episode.
Jerry L. Martin [00:03:26] Richard Oxenberg, good to see you again. What is our topic for today?
Richard Oxenberg [00:03:31] I thought in the last couple of sessions--
Jerry L. Martin [00:03:34] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:03:35] We basically talked about your experiences with the voice and with the revelation and what that was from your standpoint.
Jerry L. Martin [00:03:44] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:03:45] What I thought would be helpful, would be to kind of get the overall metaphysical picture.
Jerry L. Martin [00:03:52] The big picture.
Richard Oxenberg [00:03:54] The big, big picture. And one of the reasons for that is because I am looking at this and thinking about it and trying to understand the implications of it, one of the things that I realized is that when you look at it within the context of the whole picture, things come together in a way that they don't necessarily come together when you look at different things piecemeal. There is both a familiarity and an unfamiliarity in the sense that God is spoken of in often many-- very often, in a sense that is reminiscent, let's say, of the Biblical God--
Jerry L. Martin [00:04:34] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:04:34] And the God who speaks to you professes to be the God of the Bible as well as other things. And yet, at the same time, the picture we get of what the universe is and what God is is really quite different from the standard Western conception of the Almighty God, who is in control of everything.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:00] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:05:00] You also have the implications of those differences, are (I think) are very significant in terms of what we get out of this book.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:08] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:05:08] And I think we may get to those implications a little bit more clearly by looking at, once again, the big picture.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:16] Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:05:17] So, I've kind of put an outline in my head of what we might talk about in terms of what constitutes the big picture.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:24] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:05:25] We can go step by step, but just to sort of lay it out right at the start, the outline would be to discuss, first of all, what in the book is called The God beyond God, which I take to be the Ultimate Reality. Right? That out of which everything else comes.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:44] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:05:45] Then to speak about what I've come to think of, as the emergent God, the God that emerges out of the God beyond God who is the principal speaker to you in the book.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:56] That's right. The God of our world is--
Richard Oxenberg [00:05:58] Right? The God of our world- right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:05:59] The God of our world is the emergent God, as you call it.
Richard Oxenberg [00:06:02] Yeah. And then we might talk about the general teleological picture, which again, is both interestingly familiar and interestingly unfamiliar.
Jerry L. Martin [00:06:17] There is the question of what is the point of it all?
Richard Oxenberg [00:06:19] Where is the point of it all? Exactly.
Jerry L. Martin [00:06:21] Yeah, what is the point. What's the purpose?
Richard Oxenberg [00:06:22] Right. What is the point of it all, and also, what is the message that we should take from it?
Jerry L. Martin [00:06:29] Take away.
Richard Oxenberg [00:06:29] Right. What do we get? What is the take away. Right. Exactly.
Jerry L. Martin [00:06:35] Yes. Yes
Richard Oxenberg [00:06:35] So that's kind of the general schema that I had in my mind for this. And so, let's begin with the God beyond God. The God beyond God actually only shows up as an idea. I think it's already into page 73 in the book before we hear about this. Well, there's a quote here that we're going to read, and the context is that God is speaking of God's own emergence. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:07:06] Okay. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:07:07] And so prior to that emergence. Right?
Richard Oxenberg [00:07:23] What we read is- and this is on page 73. "There was a Self, timeless, without reflection, still and at peace--"
Jerry L. Martin [00:07:23] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:07:23] "...like calm waters, lucid, not nothing, but not something either."
Jerry L. Martin [00:07:29] Yes. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:07:29] Right? And that, I take it, as one of the descriptions we get of what is later in the book called The God beyond God.
Jerry L. Martin [00:07:39] Yes, yes. That's a very good reading. Yes. To pick that up as the earliest thing. But-- because I was puzzled, because, you know, the story of God, in a way, starts with Creation--
Richard Oxenberg [00:07:50] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:07:52] But there is the question of, well, what before creation? That's always a kind of puzzlement. What was God doing then? And there's an account, as you read, that God was not a nothing, was kind of at peace, calm, but not yet quite a something either.
Richard Oxenberg [00:08:09] Right. Right. I think that- and I've always thought it might bear a relationship to the distinction my direct heart makes, for instance, between God and the Godhead. Right? And I see, I think we find that distinction in a number of different religions. There's Brahman Saguna and Brahman Nirguna. Right? The brahman with qualities and brahman without qualities.
Jerry L. Martin [00:08:39] Right. Right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:08:40] So this is the ultimate reality, and I guess that to me is the important point here. This is that out of which everything arises.
Jerry L. Martin [00:08:49] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:08:51] I just wanted to talk about, I mean, and let you talk about, what some of the characteristics are of the God beyond God.
Jerry L. Martin [00:09:01] Well, there are some contexts you really have to put this discussion within, I believe. One is the multiple worlds that I found very disturbing, as you know. When it turned out there were like infinite number, I don't know exactly enumerated, but just endless worlds and-- I just found that I'd been told so many weird things in my mind that this was one too many. Just one, too many. Many worlds, therefore, in some sense, many, you know, a God in each world seemed to be the implication--
Richard Oxenberg [00:09:46] So each world- If I could just add this to it. So in this quote, it speaks-- So, the God beyond God is timeless. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:09:54] Yes. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:09:56] And once again, this is in boldface, so this must be the God of this world speaking, describing the God beyond God. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:03] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:03] But the gods of each of these worlds are not timeless, right? They are temporary.
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:11] Right, within the world, it's temporal.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:12] Right. They are temporal. Right? And so what we have now is a picture of an ultimate, timeless reality out of which innumerable temporal realities emerge. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:28] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:29] And as a matter of fact, I'm thinking one of the things that this is reminding me of, is at the very beginning of your revelational experience--
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:38] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:38] You experienced a fountain, right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:40] Yes. A rising, sparkling, multicolored fountain--
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:41] Like a big fountain- right? Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:41] A kind of vision, but like a hologram.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:46] Yeah.
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:47] Of a fountain.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:47] It's almost as if the God beyond God is the fountain out of which all of this--
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:52] (Laughing).That's right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:52] All of this great creativity emerges.
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:55] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:10:56] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:10:56] Yes, that's right. But, the other context, in addition to infinite worlds, Richard, is reincarnation, which I don't believe we've talked about. Have we?
Richard Oxenberg [00:11:08] Can we hold off on that? See, I've got this-- I've got a plan here. We'll get to the reincarnation.
Jerry L. Martin [00:11:13] Oh? Oh you've got a plan? Well, let's then follow your plan.
Richard Oxenberg [00:11:16] You know, it's just that I-- What I'd like to do is see if we can get clearer, or as clear as possible, on the God beyond God, and then talk about the way that God emerges, then talk about the project of the emergent God, which is where reincarnation, it seems to me, begins to come in. Because there is a reincarnational quality both to the God beyond God, in that it keeps reincarnating as these different-- Rather, there's a kind of parallel if I remember.
Jerry L. Martin [00:11:48] Yeah, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:11:48] Between--
Jerry L. Martin [00:11:48] Yeah, there's a parallel. So it's important to remember--
Richard Oxenberg [00:11:52] No go ahead, go ahead, go ahead.
Jerry L. Martin [00:11:53] It's important to know--
Richard Oxenberg [00:11:55] Okay.
Jerry L. Martin [00:11:55] That these are not two different gods.
Richard Oxenberg [00:11:57] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:11:58] It can easily sound as if there's the God of our world and then another, bigger God or something--
Richard Oxenberg [00:12:03] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:12:03] Standing behind It, doing a bigger magic show. But no, it's-- And we can set reincarnation aside. It's a bit like the difference between my self and personality in this world and what you might call my soul, or sometimes called the self behind the self.
Richard Oxenberg [00:12:25] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:12:25] So they're not two different selves, but one is myself, you know, navigating the world, and the other is a more kind of, you might think of it as a more divine side or something. A little more distant.
Richard Oxenberg [00:12:37] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:12:38] Watching my progress in this world and doing--
Richard Oxenberg [00:12:42] Right. But not only not only is the God beyond God not different, or ultimately different from the God of this world and all the other worlds, but the God of this world and all the other worlds are not ultimately different from us. Right? It's all-- In an ultimate sense, it's all one. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:01] There's that complication, too. That I'm constantly told we are both other and same--
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:07] Right, right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:07] As God. And both aspects are essential. That--
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:11] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:11] You know, God infuses us, God is part of us, we are part of God. At the same time, we're sufficiently different that we can encounter one another, love one another, and so forth, and have a drama together.
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:26] Right. So the question next emerges, in my mind, I just--
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:30] Yes, this is fine.
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:30] Just to try and follow this out in a sort of logical way...
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:34] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:34] Why is this God who is calm and--
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:38] Serene. (Laughing)
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:39] Still and... Why does It created anything at all?
Jerry L. Martin [00:13:45] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:13:45] Right? And I think you address- that gets addressed. Now, I'm looking way at another portion of the book on page 184. It says, "You might say that the idea or potential for all things resides in the God beyond God "beforehand" or in another dimension."
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:05] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:06] And then a little further down, it says, "Reality wants to be embodied..."
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:11] Yes. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:12] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:12] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:13] In this respect, philosophical tradition, that derive from Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus get it wrong. The material object does not "fall beneath" the "perfect" form; it actualizes it."
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:24] Yes, exactly.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:26] But there is, within the God beyond God--
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:28] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:29] Despite its being a peace-- (Laughing)
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:31] (Laughing). Right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:31] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:33] Peace as having a lot of potentialities.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:36] Yeah. Or maybe this is part of its peace? Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:39] Yeah part of its peace. It's not actual. (Laughing)
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:42] It wants to--
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:44] It's not actual components.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:44] It wants to produce. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:14:46] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:14:46] In other words, it exists as a tremendous potentiality for the incredible diversity of worlds, and within our world that we see in this world, and the God beyond God has what might be thought of as impelled in some sense to produce all of these worlds.
Jerry L. Martin [00:15:10] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:15:10] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:15:11] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:15:12] And even though on some level, and in spite of all the difficulties of these worlds, which we might talk of--
Jerry L. Martin [00:15:21] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:15:21] At some point. It remains in some sense at peace.
Jerry L. Martin [00:15:25] Yes. Yes. In a kind of ideal mode.
Richard Oxenberg [00:15:30] Right. So on the one hand, we've got this notion of an ultimate reality.
Jerry L. Martin [00:15:36] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:15:39] That is timeless that, I guess we would say eternal, right? And out of this ultimate reality emerges the temporal in an infinite variety of possibilities, one of which is our world and the God of this world, which is just one of the many emergent gods of the infinite world that go on and on. And that's sort of the big, big, mega picture.
Jerry L. Martin [00:16:09] That's the biggest picture.
Richard Oxenberg [00:16:11] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:16:11] Yeah. And I'm always uncomfortable with that picture, and I was happy when this chapter came to an end and we got back to our world and our God. But--
Richard Oxenberg [00:16:21] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:16:21] That is the big picture, infinite worlds, infinite gods or embodiments or emergences of the God beyond God actualizing- infinite number of actualizations of the divine in each world.
Richard Oxenberg [00:16:40] So there's one other dimension to the God beyond God that I wanted to mention before we started talking about the emergent God.
Jerry L. Martin [00:16:49] Yes. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:16:50] And it's on page 318 of the book, and at this point, we're speaking of the God beyond God as what you have then come to call the Atman of God.
Jerry L. Martin [00:17:06] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:17:06] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:17:08] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:17:08] And so I guess by analogy with the Atman of a human being. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:17:13] Yeah. You might-- There, I'm borrowing and somewhat changing, though I didn't quite realize it, the Hindu concept of the Atman, which is what I was a moment ago, calling something like the self behind the self or the soul.
Richard Oxenberg [00:17:29] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:17:31] In the Hindu doctrine, it's that soul that is identical with the Brahman of the ultimate reality- fully identical. But here, it's a little different. It's individual, your soul always remains individual, and so there's the Atman of Richard, and the Atman of Jerry, and so on. And, but anyway, that conception is the analogy to God, the God of this world, it's Atman, its soul, you might say, is the God beyond God.
Richard Oxenberg [00:18:08] Yeah. And and in this little passage, there's a little dialogue you're having with God, the God of this world.
Jerry L. Martin [00:18:20] The God of this world.
Richard Oxenberg [00:18:21] And the God of this world tells you to try and feel into what the God beyond God is like.
Jerry L. Martin [00:18:26] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:18:26] And you describe it in this way, "I get the feeling of benign shelter, as if the thrashing about of the world and of the God of this world needs a container to hold it together, and everything is safely enveloped by the Atman of God." Right? And, so, you know, I thought that was just a kind of beautiful picture.
Jerry L. Martin [00:18:54] It's amazing isn't it?
Richard Oxenberg [00:18:56] Right? That in spite of all of the whips and scorns of time...
Jerry L. Martin [00:19:01] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:19:02] Right? That is prevalent in all these many worlds and that emerge out of the God beyond God. Nevertheless, at some ultimate level, there is a kind of ultimate peace. Right? A benign shelter. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:19:21] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:19:21] A safety. Right? So that this God beyond God is the ultimate safety net.
Jerry L. Martin [00:19:29] (Laughing). Right?
Richard Oxenberg [00:19:29] And however horrible things might get, out here in this messy world, right, there is a sense in which there is a benign shelter underlying all of it that is eternal, and that is not subject to decay and that we are ultimately rooted in.
Jerry L. Martin [00:19:54] Yes. Yes. And I assume just as we are both same and different from the God of this world, we would be both same and different from the Atman of God, the God behind God, which is, of course, just the other side, you might say, of the God of this world.
Richard Oxenberg [00:20:14] And that would be then an important thing, it seems to me, to be aware of from a spiritual point of view.
Jerry L. Martin [00:20:20] Yes. Yes. Good point, Richard. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:20:23] Right? That, you know, that in some sense, one of the things that spirituality is supposed to do for us is to put us into touch with, or experience with, something that transcends the hardships and difficulties of this world. So then, we can be at peace even in the midst of all the many troubles of the world.
Jerry L. Martin [00:20:53] It's a good way to put it because it's not like an escape hatch, as though one could run off to the God beyond God. That's not what happens. But one can be at peace just to the way that God beyond God is at peace. And we are also, in part, identical with the God beyond God, and so we have that peace in our soul, as you might say, right in the midst of the hurly-burly of our difficult world.
Richard Oxenberg [00:21:24] Right. I always think in that context of the image of Jesus sleeping on the boat during the storm.
Jerry L. Martin [00:21:31] Yes. Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:21:33] Right? And all of his disciples are freaking out over the storm, and Jesus is just peacefully sleeping. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:21:41] Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:21:41] You wake him up and say, Master, master! We're about to go under! And--
Jerry L. Martin [00:21:44] (Laughing)
Richard Oxenberg [00:21:44] Oh ye, have little faith.
Richard Oxenberg [00:22:18] Well, it's interesting, of course, and one of the problems, I think, with religion- that religion has--
Jerry L. Martin [00:22:25] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:22:27] Is in reconciling this notion of an ultimate benignity, an ultimate goodness, an ultimate peace with all the hardships and troubles of the world.
Jerry L. Martin [00:22:41] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:22:41] And I thought that as I was thinking about this, specifically for this discussion--
Jerry L. Martin [00:22:49] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:22:49] It occurred to me that there was something in your work, or in this book that spoke to that, I thought, in what might be a profound way.
Jerry L. Martin [00:23:00] Well. It's interesting. This is why I love having a serious reader like you of the book, because I had never made that connection. You know, I variously talked with God, the God of this world, about the problem of suffering and so forth, and I never get-- and God never tries to in those discussions, explain suffering away.
Richard Oxenberg [00:23:24] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:23:24] Like some apologists of the religions try to do. It said suffering is really, really bad. You know, God tells me. But- and I get a little perspective sometimes on it that, you might say, alleviates the awfulness slightly, but it had never occurred to me. the point you're now making that there is another viewpoint and another ontological locus, another locus in reality that is peaceful amidst all of this.
Richard Oxenberg [00:23:56] Right. And not only that, but, you know, so, I mean, it took me a while to make this connection.
Jerry L. Martin [00:24:02] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:24:03] After reading your book. But it was the connection that-- because at first-- let's talk about, for a moment, because then I can explain what seemed weird and incongruous, and finally, I was able to put it together for myself.
Jerry L. Martin [00:24:16] Okay, good.
Richard Oxenberg [00:24:16] And this had to do with the way in which God emerges, the God of this world emerges.
Jerry L. Martin [00:24:23] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:24:23] And if we could look at a passage. All right. So this is the God of this world?
Jerry L. Martin [00:24:31] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:24:31] Right? Describing Its emergence out of the God beyond God. Now, when we first read the book, we don't quite get that that's what It is. Right? And that's where, you know, I had to put these two pieces together before it began to make real sense to me.
Jerry L. Martin [00:24:50] Is this from the quote from the Creation chapter or is it later?
Richard Oxenberg [00:24:53] Yeah. Yeah. From the Creation chapter.
Jerry L. Martin [00:24:56] Yeah, at that point, I didn't know what was going on.
Richard Oxenberg [00:24:59] On page, page 71.
Jerry L. Martin [00:25:00] Okay.
Richard Oxenberg [00:25:01] And I'll read it to you.
Jerry L. Martin [00:25:03] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:25:03] Right? This is God, the emergent God speaking, right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:25:08] Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:25:09] "I am in the midst of Nothing. I don't know who or what I am- I am like a baby in a womb. I hear nothing, see nothing- because there is nothing. I feel alone, very alone, except that I don't know what alone means."
Jerry L. Martin [00:25:30] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:25:31] "I feel growing strength, and Myself being drawn toward the light, just a glimmer at the "edge." I am in a kind of "pain," like stretching, aching muscles." And this sounds almost exactly like a birth, doesn't it?
Jerry L. Martin [00:25:46] Yes, it does. It does.
Richard Oxenberg [00:25:48] Almost like coming out of a womb, right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:25:48] Yes, yes. (Laughing).
Richard Oxenberg [00:25:51] Right? As a matter of fact, it even get more that way, a little further down. "Suddenly, it is as if I punch my arms and legs through the sides of a bag I'm in. It is like an explosion. In a split second, fragments are zooming out in all directions," and so forth, okay.
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:08] And that's, what in physics we call the Big Bang. You know?
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:11] Right, right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:13] A description very much like those first seconds. Everything explodes into the universe from who-knows-what to the universe as we have it.
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:25] You know, when I first read this I, you know, it was hard to know- how did this God get in the midst of nothing? And what is this Nothingness that God's in the midst of?
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:36] (Laughing) Right. Right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:36] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:37] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:37] Now, and let me just propose this thought to you...
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:41] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:42] With the, with the picture of the God beyond God, which really only get developed later on in the book--
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:47] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:48] You-- these two together, or at least I have.
Jerry L. Martin [00:26:51] Sure.
Richard Oxenberg [00:26:52] And the way that it has come together for me is with the idea that something happens within the God beyond God. Right? There is a creative process that takes place within the God beyond God. Involves what I've come to think of as a contraction and an individuation of some part of the God beyond God. So that (right) we can almost, once again, think of it like a fetus in a womb. At some point, at one point, It's just continuous with the mother's body, and at some point, It becomes a consciousness unto Itself.
Jerry L. Martin [00:27:39] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:27:39] Right? At some point, this God, this emergent God, becomes a consciousness, an awareness unto itself. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:27:49] Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:27:50] Separate from the God beyond. And that the point that seems to me to be that's being described here.
Jerry L. Martin [00:27:56] Yes, it does.
Richard Oxenberg [00:27:56] Right? When It becomes conscious of Itself, It is aware of Itself as surrounded by a nothingness. Right? Something It doesn't know, It doesn't understand.
Jerry L. Martin [00:28:06] Right. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:28:07] And It's all alone. So this idea of aloneness seems to, or the very notion that one can feel alone seem to presuppose the privation of an experience of togetherness. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:28:25] Yes. That's why, no, He wasn't alone.
Richard Oxenberg [00:28:28] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:28:28] But, in retrospect, He was alone.
Richard Oxenberg [00:28:32] Right, He was alone, but not only was He alone, but that aloneness was a kind of pain.
Jerry L. Martin [00:28:38] Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:28:39] Right? It wasn't a kind of, it wasn't- I'm alone. I'm perfectly content with that. It was sense of--
Jerry L. Martin [00:28:43] Yeah. It's a privation, even though he can't yet quite articulate it fully.
Richard Oxenberg [00:28:48] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:28:48] Not--
Richard Oxenberg [00:28:49] And this is where I'm saying that when I, you know, as I think about this- because this actually ends up interestingly coinciding with some thought that I had myself and my own philosophical thinking.
Jerry L. Martin [00:29:04] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:29:04] About the nature of God. And which had to do with the question of where does pain come from?
Jerry L. Martin [00:29:13] Ahuh.
Richard Oxenberg [00:29:13] If you start out with a God that is pure bliss,
Jerry L. Martin [00:29:16] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:29:16] Or pure peace.
Jerry L. Martin [00:29:17] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:29:20] Where does pain, and suffering, and loneliness come from?
Jerry L. Martin [00:29:28] Yeah. Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:29:30] And it seems to me that one way of thinking about it is that it is a function of the separation that takes place between different elements of the ultimate reality, and they become separated from one another.
Jerry L. Martin [00:29:50] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:29:53] They ceased. They become finite as opposed to infinite. Right? And in their finitude, they experience a sense of vulnerability, and aloneness, and which somehow that need to be worked out.
Jerry L. Martin [00:30:08] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:30:09] And so this God beyond this emergent God, emerges out of the God beyond God with a project. Which is to work out the terms of Its loneliness, but also, I guess, of Its aspirations, which It is only beginning to understand.
Jerry L. Martin [00:30:28] Well, from the very beginning, even in that earliest step, where the emerging God doesn't quite know what's going on, and who am I, and what is my function? But that emergent God kind of discovers- oh, it seems that I sort of put order. Ha ha! On this, you know, it's flying apart like an explosion and the pieces going in all directions, meanwhile, God is realizing- oh, I can kind of organize this, and my job is somehow (that's yet vague because God's kind of working this out) to move it in a certain direction. And your language is very apt for what we're told later, kind of in the direction of integration, you know, these parts are just flying in every direction.
Richard Oxenberg [00:31:17] Right.
Jerry L. Martin [00:31:18] He brought into some kind of concert with one another, and that includes God's parts as well, needed to be harmonized and brought into a kind of functional integrity.
Richard Oxenberg [00:31:35] And what always intrigued me about this, is this notion of God's loneliness.
Jerry L. Martin [00:31:43] Yes?
Richard Oxenberg [00:31:43] That God, you know, I mean, that's so different in the way we--
Jerry L. Martin [00:31:47] That's right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:31:47] That's so different from the way we tend to think of an image of God as a self-sufficient entity. Right? So, this God-- And yet, and interestingly, the notion of God as perfectly self-sufficient calls into question, you know, why God is so involved with human being.
Jerry L. Martin [00:32:15] Right? (Laughing).
Richard Oxenberg [00:32:15] Right? I mean, why--
Jerry L. Martin [00:32:16] Exactly, exactly.
Richard Oxenberg [00:32:16] You know? But there's a way in which this God is trying to work something out. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:32:24] Yes, yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:32:24] There is a plan, I think at one point it even said there is a plan. Not sure I unders-- God says- now if there's a plan, I'm not exactly sure I know or understand what the plan is, but know that there's a plan I'm supposed to follow. Right? And so this emergent God emerges, and It is acting out of impulses that It only vaguely understands Itself. Is that correct?
Jerry L. Martin [00:32:51] Yes. Yes. It's discovering them as It goes along. It. I'm calling It, in the book, It's usually He because the voice speaks to me in a masculine tone normally. But, yeah, that this emergent God is discovering Its role, trying to keep an eye, an orientation toward the telos that is itself a somewhat emerging vision or increasingly (perhaps) definite goal. And that's quite right. So God is discovering God's self and including God's role, and learns a lot of it as we get human beings come on the picture by interacting with us.
Richard Oxenberg [00:33:38] Yeah. And now, you know, that then raises this other interesting dimension of the book, and of the nature of this God.
Jerry L. Martin [00:33:51] Ahuh.
Richard Oxenberg [00:33:51] Who is not the ultimate God. Right? But is almost in a weird way, I don't know if agent is the right word? But an arm of this ultimate God. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:34:08] It's like an incarnation of the ultimate God. It's the ultimate God's--
Richard Oxenberg [00:34:11] An incarnation of the ultimate God.
Jerry L. Martin [00:34:14] For the one world.
Richard Oxenberg [00:34:15] But the ultimate God remains there, still. It's not as if the God has become completely absorbed in this incarnation. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:34:24] Yeah. That's correct. The --
Richard Oxenberg [00:34:25] And there are other incarnations going on at the same time, right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:34:29] Yes. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:34:29] And it's all, you know, it's much, much bigger than just the world that we live in. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:34:34] It's often analogized to an actor. You can imagine the actors in several plays simultaneously. And meanwhile, there's the actor going from one part, you know, one role. Maybe he's in the same play in two different venues, but playing a different character, you know, and so on in all these worlds. And yet the kind of placid, rather unchanging God is still back there but the not fully real God, because not actualized in a world God. It's never that the God in this world is less real than the God beyond God. It's more real in the sense. It's actualized in a world. It's like the difference in an architect, and somebody builds a building. You know? And then you've got something when you've got a building. The architect has a design but not a building. So when God enters the world, in part, become actual.
Richard Oxenberg [00:35:36] Well, that's another interesting, interesting point that we might make about the God beyond God. Right? The God beyond God in one sense, (and there's all this constant paradox going on here) we're doing the same and other, and also between sufficiency and insufficiency. Right? That the God beyond God is in one sense perfectly sufficient in Itself.
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:03] Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:36:04] And in another sense, in need of, the creative. That if you cut it off from Its creative activity, it would no longer be sufficient in itself.
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:18] That's right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:36:19] It is sufficient in Itself only a creative force. Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:27] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:36:27] I mean, that makes a certain amount of sense.
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:29] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:36:30] Unlike Aristotle's (right) unmoved mover, that is just sort of sufficient in itself, and everything is attracted to it, but it has no, ( at least the way Aristotle seemed to present it) it has no interest in everything being drawn to it.
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:47] Right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:36:47] Where as this God beyond God does have an interest in everything that's going on.
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:53] Yes, that's right.
Richard Oxenberg [00:36:55] Right?
Jerry L. Martin [00:36:56] That's Right. So I'm not sure I would use the sufficiency, insufficiency dichotomies because the God beyond God- I mean, there are a number of analogies given, you know, like the composer writes a score. Why do you actually need an orchestra to play it? The composer, in fact, has the ideal score, the ideal Fifth Symphony in mind. No orchestra is going to quite live up to the ideal. It's going to have a particular player's particular conductor, etc.. But why is it important that we don't just have, instead of actual played music, a library of scores? You know, musical scores by the composers, it's something like that. The score, in one sense, is self-sufficient. It does everything a score needs to do, but we also yearn for the embodiment of the score in one.
Richard Oxenberg [00:37:53] That's an interesting, an interesting point. And I'm thinking, you know, I wonder if we can even apply that to the idea of a peace. In other words, that even peace, even the peacefulness of the God beyond God, is not complete until a being who is capable of not being at peace experiences it.
Jerry L. Martin [00:38:21] Yes. Yes. I think that's a good way. It's a very inert peacefulness.
Richard Oxenberg [00:38:27] Right. Right. In other words, you can only really appreciate it as peacefulness in the context of the, you know, the disruption that the rest of reality creates.
Jerry L. Martin [00:38:39] Yeah.
Richard Oxenberg [00:38:40] But It has a place to play within the whole.
Jerry L. Martin [00:38:43] Yes. Yes.
Richard Oxenberg [00:38:44] That can't severed from the whole, and thought of as a thing unto Itself.
Jerry L. Martin [00:38:48] Right. Right.
Scott Langdon [00:38:56] Thank you for listening. To GOD: an Autobiography, the Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts, and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: an Autobiography, as Told to a Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: an Autobiography, as Told to a Philosopher. Available now at Amazon.com, and always at Godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.