Saving God: Religion After Idolatry by Mark Johnston

Johnston tries to determine what God would really be, not the God necessarily worshiped by Judaism, Christianity or Islam. He develops the idea of the actual Highest One as “the outpouring of Existence Itself by way of its exemplification in ordinary existents for the sake of the self-disclosure of Existence Itself”. The teleological “for the sake of” is difficult to understand, which Johnston acknowledges, since he is suggesting a completely naturalistic view of existence. His view is panentheistic: God is wholly constituted by the natural realm.

Johnston’s argument leads to an extended discussion of how existence presents itself to us, how we are samplers of Presence, not producers of Presence. He rejects the idea that we perceive the world via representations in our minds. Perception is of the world itself. He concludes by suggesting that we survive death by identifying ourselves with the people who live on after us, an idea that must be discussed at much greater length in his slightly more recent book “Surviving Death”.  (5/7/10)

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