Sunday, November 19, 2017

Review of Herman Philipse's: God in the Age of Science. (Part 1 of 2)

Image result for Metacrock's blog review God in the age of Science

About the graphic: obviously the cover of the book. It's a cool cover. Try to enlarge because this is one of the best paintings of a great moment in science. Robert Boyle used the air pump to prove air was good to breath. Put a rat in the chamber and pumped the air out, it died. Therefore, air is good. The thing the guy is pointing to is the dead rat in the glass chamber.The man on left facing us is Boyle, with shawl, The look on his face is priceless it says "O my God I've proved something!" The two little girls look devastated, it was probably their pet rat. What they thought before that when people suffocated I do not know. Boyle and the air pump where the center of my dissertation. It's very important in the history of science, not so much for his discovery but for the protocols of experimentation that he invented around the air pump. Also his conflict over it with Thomas Hobbes. See a book Leviathan and the Air Pump. By Shapen and Shaffer. 

Philipse makes three major moves indicative of the scientistic ideology. Rather than deal with his entire book I will isolate those points and show how they exhibit the ideology. Those three points are:

I. God, as an explanation of the world and any meaning in life, must be derived by scientific methods and must constitute a scientific explanation. Only scientific answers are real proof and can be checked by others, This is reduction of all knowledge to the only valid kind of knowledge: science.:

II. He uses that position to leverage the battle on to his own turf, The proofs of God must be scientific proofs, therefore he totally discounts revelation.:

III. Having moved the battle to his own turf he argues against Swinburne's use of Bayes so that he can use it as the scientific evidence. Having established that only scientific evidence will do then he's the only one in the debate with scientific evidence.:

The way he accomplishes move I is by dispensing with revelation and personal experience. His first chapter argues for the priority of natural theology. [1] The establishment of that point is really based upon the supposed weakness of revelatory knowledge.[2]Essentially he asserts that only natural theology can be checked by others, revelation and personal experience are unreliable and subjective. He constructs four dilemmas for the believer designed to leverage her into fighting the battle on his own turf. The first such dilemma is between what he calls “cognitive and non-cognitive.” By non cognitive he may include experiences, but he's speaking more directly of liberal theology, that tends to be metaphorical vs. a factual account. He says, “according to...cognitive interpretations a believer who says 'God exists' is making a factual claim which is either true or false, whereas according to non-cognitive interpretation such sayings have a very different function. Evaluation of these statements in terms of truth or falsity is inappropriate.[3]His examples of non-cognitive are Wittgenstein and Karen Armstrong. The non-cognitive makes belief immune to criticism but also leaves it cut off from non-believers as unprovable.

For the “cognitive believer” there's a second dilemma. Either belief must be backed by evidence or it's not needed.[4] An example of the latter is the work of Alvin Plantinga and his idea of “properly basic beliefs.” In that view belief is rationally warranted though not proven to others. Philipse answers Plantinga, “I shall argue that religious beliefs, and indeed most religious believers, not be called justified or reasonable or warranted unless the latter...can support their beliefs by abducinng good positive reasons to the effect that these beliefs are true.”[5]Here's where he starts leveraging the believer off the ground that makes strong faith (experience) and onto his turf where he controls the landscape (that of scientific knowledge). He says, “...these reasons [the believer's justification for belief] shall not derive from, or not derive merely from, a revelation or from faith. In other words rational or natural theology is indispensable to modern religious believers, if at least they want to be called 'reasonable,'” [6] Either bring religion into compliance with the priesthood of knowledge (science) or the gate keepers will slam the door in your face and you will be obsolete. Either way religion loses.

He brings out the next dilemma, either the methods used to defend belief will be scientific or not scientific. He says “both horns imply great peril for the believer.”[7]In debate we avoided that position by exposing the false premises upon which the dilemma was based. Most dilemmas are like a long horn steer, a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between.[8] First of all abductive reasoning means inference from the best explanation. That does not require proof and it may not involve establishing facts. He's going to have to prove that the best explanations are always and only the scientific ones. To assert that only the scientific answers count means that he reduces all knowledge to science. Secondly he's done a bait and switch in that he's demanded science but clearly substitutes the fortress of facts. Moreover, there is a distinction between warrant for the belief of the believer and warrant for an argument that will persuade others. The former is what Plantinga speaks to, the latter is Philipse's demand. Obviously revelatory proofs will mean more to the one who had the revelation. We can't let others in on it. So personal experience could be valid and warrant belief even if it does not function as proof for others. Personal experience, however, can function as warrant even for others, we do have scientific evidence, I will get to that in a bit.

Let's look at his three dilemmas. The first is factual and non factual. In the non factual camp he really includes liberalism and non literal views of theology. That's important because he has to get the believer on his turf, the fortress of facts. Apparently that's what he means by “science,” the fact producing machine. It is possible to employ metaphor in a belief system without reducing belief in God as a stark choice of either fact or metaphor. The second dilemma is for the so called “cognitive side” (for that I read “literalistic,”) it must be backed up or not. I say it only needs backing up if one needs to prove to others. Otherwise we all have reasons for believing, and if faith is sincere those reasons can only be life transforming. There's nothing irrational about that. If something is so overpowering it can't be denied and if it changes your life dramatically for the better it would be irrational to refuse it merely because it's not part of the truth regime. The third I just discussed, the demand for scientific evidence.

A major problem here is that he has these neat segmented little compartments, where reason and faith are kept apart; where natural theology and reformed theology are kept apart. Real faith and real religious thought is not like that. People have both faith and reason, revelation and objective proofs. It is perfectly possible to mix the two sides and most of us do to some extent (with a thousand variations of degree). We really need to take to heart the distinction between personal faith and the desire to convey one's reasons to others. No one believes for no reason. Belief is an existential/phenomenological matter. It's not a test for a driver's license. The scrutiny I have to care about is my own and that of those I love. When Philipse says things like, “...for modern believers faith is not an epistemic virtue but a vice, unless there are convincing arguments for the truth of its contents,”[9] there is no reason to credit that statement. Convincing to whom? The only person I have to convince is me. I do have reasons I find powerful and if others would not find them so more is the pity for them.

He says modern believers are in a methodological dilemma. “Do They have at their disposal reliable and validated methods of religious research? If so it seems that the content of their faith can be refuted...”[10] If it can be validated it can be refuted. That goes for all positions. I was a college debater I can refute anything. Actually that's not a dilemma it's a double bind. He's saying if it's validated that's bad, then he blames it because it's not validated. “...If not, [validated] how can a religious creed be credible at all in our scientific era?”[11] That depends upon who is doing the validating and upon what basis.. The philosopher kings have been in the ivory tower too long. That statement in and of itself screams ideology. Why should religion not be credible merely because we are in an age of science? We all believe for a reason, modern people have modern reasons.

Of course Philipse, brilliant and rigorous though he is, seems blissfully unaware of the fact that there is good scientific evidence backing up many aspects of religious faith. In the chapter on supernatural I will discuss the vast body of empirical work backing the veracity of religious experience; the skeptic really has no justification for dismissing experience as evidence, they way Philipse does. The “M scale” gives us a scientific means of control for understanding what is a valid experience and what is not (see chapter on supernatural). By the same token the same chapter also documents unexplained events well documented and factual form the basis for modern miracle claims. These both experiences and miracles are controlled for and validated by double blind experiments and medical diagnostics. Even so its only if one intends to persuade the skeptic that one needs to meet the demand for evidence. Then evidence need not be scientific. Yet we do have the validated scientific methods, I wrote a book about them.[12]
(to understand the studies proving scientific methods for a God Argument see the summary of my book on my blog "The Trace of God).
He continues more of the water tight compartmentalizing by stating that there are so many contradictions in the “traditional concept of God.”[13] Then the most troubling part, “without introducing analogy or metaphor...” Why should we want to avoid analogy and metaphor? That's rather irrational since we can't talk without them. It's not the literalistic aspect that makes language work as communication but the space afforded understanding in the use of analogical speech. Not only is all religious language analogical but all language is to some extent.[14]That is a major method in theology, use what we know in analogy to communicate in the face of the unknown. Yes, it can be inaccurate, but how accurate does it have to be? Why doesn't the fact that we have no empirical proof of string theory or multiverse stop scientists from talking about those things? Personal belief is a phenomenological matter. The short cut to defining that term: metaphysics imposes pre set categories upon sense data, phenomenology is allowing the sense data to suggest its own categories. In equating metaphor with untruth he is imposing many preset categories (ideology) upon the sense data.

Philipse associates literal language (no analogy or metaphor) with being reasonable defined as “objective diachronical rationality”). [15]I disagree that “objective” opposes metaphor. One can be objective about the use of metaphor. I certainly object to the implication that metaphor is irrational. To use metaphor properly one must reason about meaning and implication. Since belief is a phenomenological pursuit it requires an individual understanding. It's not science nor can it be. We just have to accept that science is not the only avenue for reason. One can be rational and reason in the continental style of philosophy, using phenomenology for example. The compartmentalizing is a hindrance. That seems to be the ideology of scientism. That's an upshot of the reduction of all knowledge to science.

He equates belief in God with a scientific hypothesis and demands of it the kind of explanatory power one finds in science. Rather he asks (rhetorically) “...whether theism can be an explanatory theory or hypothesis at all.” [16]That rather depends upon what one means by “explanatory.” What kind of explanation are we seeking? Why should it be a scientific hypothesis? It's not meant to be one. One does not dedicate one's life to a mere hypothesis. Hypotheses are meant to be tested. We can't test God. Take the Lord out for a test prayer! Science works by testing ideas and culling bad one's until the last one not culled is assumed true. It's not proved its just assumed (see chapter 3, Popper). To that extent Paul Tillich's notion of theology is scientific.[17]Tillich's “method of correlation” in which he “attempts to correlate the various analyses of the human predicament produced in modern culture with the answers provided by the symbols used in the Christian message.”[18] This a sort of hypothesis testing where one is comparing empirical experience to “theory” (doctrine). This is not to say, however, that doctrine is at all like an hypothesis. Nor is it intended to be. Philipse's demand is an example of the reduction of all knowledge to science. Yet Philipse demands that an understanding history be included to be rational (“diachronical”). Tillich said that the sources for doing theology are not only the Bible but history and culture as well. Moreover, he spoke of theology as explaining the meaning in the human condition.[19] That is a kind of explanatory power science does not have.

In order to counter the realization that all language is analogical he quotes Swinburne saying “...if theists cannot articulate their religious view except by using the key terms in an irreducibly analogical manner theism cannot be a theory of hypothesis.” [20] Well its not. He still has not bothered to say why it should be. In fact this line of argument seems to be a smokescreen. It's irrelevant what Swinburne makes of analogy because that doesn't answer the point that all language is analogical. The issue there revolves around the term “irreducible.” Philipse acknowledges that all language is somewhat analogical but not irreducibly so. If the term means that there is meaning present to the signifier then he's wrong, all language is irreducibly analogical. There is a literal meaning to all utterance but that doesn't mean that meaning is ever totally present in any signifier. In speaking of God we can say “God is the basis of all that is.” That is a literally true statement and yet it's fraught with ambiguity. God is beyond our understanding, we don't need words to feel love, or to know that love is real. Belief is personal and doesn't stop when you leave the lab. It's given a deep hidden personal slant multiplied times all believers, Naturally, it's not going to have the kind of precision a scientific hypothesis will have. Nor will it have the kind of explanatory power.

He does point out metaphor is used in science. He gives several examples. The mechanical model, seeing universe as a machine (eighteenth century) gives way to the organic model. These “models” are really analogies. He argues that science has clearly defined limits for such ideas but God is transcendent of our understanding so all our speech about God is completely analogy.xxi [21] The upshot is religion is not science, so religion is false because science is all that is. He argues that some people think they experience God's presence but of curse they don't. It's true that God is not given in sense data. A thing need not be amenable to our sense data in order to be real.:

Although some believers claim to have perceived God, the speakers of the language cannot be perceptually aware of God in the same unambiguous public manner in which human beings, cities, dogs, or mountains can be perceived. Hence no intersubjective referential use of 'God' can be established by such deictic methods. As a consequence one is only able to provide the proper name 'God' with a possible referent by giving a description of what the name is supposed to refer to. If no literal description is possible of an entity to which the word God allegedly refers...since that entity can only be hinted at by irreducible metaphors...we could never succeed in providing the word God with a referent.[22]
First of all, speaking a language does not in and of itself assure us a signified (referent) for our signification. It's irrelevant what the speakers perceive qua speakers. Secondly of course God is not going to be as well perceived as a tangible object, at that point he's merely saying God is not tangible, that cannot be equated with “there is no God.” Moreover, not to be pedantic but proper name is not God. That's his job description.

It is basically true that we can't communicate what God is in words because its beyond our understanding. That's why there are mystics. Lots of other things are known to exist but can't be communicated in words. Some examples include love, the colors, the feelings (try describing a feeling without referring to other feelings). Some philosophers try to deny the existence of feelings, those of us who don't need therapy know they exist. Now if it be objected that these things are not physical objects and God must be a physical object, that is an ideological assumption. There is no proof that there can't be real objects that are not physical. The disproof of Philipse's point, however, is the scientific data to which I refer in the chapter on supernatural, in connection with the M scale and Ralph Hood Jr.[23] The data proves that mystics around the world in all faiths are having the same kinds of experiences. These can be separated from physical causes of brain chemistry, drugs, perceptual problems and the like. Not only do they have an intersubjetive basis for referent but that basis furnishes good evidence of a reality external to their own minds which they all experience. The differences in those experiences are the doctrines used to explain them, that acts as a cultural filter, not the experiences themselves.

part two monday


1 Herman Philipse, God In The Age of Science, Oxford, London: Oxford University Press, 2012, 3

2 Ibid 23

3 Ibid., xiv

4 Ibid-xv

5-8 Ibid

9 Way back in the Trojan war, when I was in high school debate the Dallas Jesuit debators used that saying, that's where I got it.1973-74. Jesuit was the top school having won NFL district championship 3 years in a row (1972, 73, 74).

10 Ibid xvi

11 Ibid

12 Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God: a Rational Warrant doe Belief, Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct, 2014. no page indicated. This book is only available on It covers a host of methodologies in over 200 studies on religious experience forming a huge body of work going back to the 19960s. Of these the chief study instrument is the “M Scale.”

13 Philipse xvi

14 Phiipse acknowledges this, 95

15 Ibid., 95

16 Ibid.

17 Guyton B Hamond, “An Examination of Tillich's Method of Correlation,” Journal of Bible and Religion, 1964,Vol. 32, No. 3 (Jul., 1964), pp. 248-251, 24

18 Ibid.

19 Philipse, 96

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid., 97

22 Find chapter and fn on Hood article.

23, Ibid,91

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christians Wake Up!

Washington's Farewell

I have not read this book.[1] I just saw the author, John Avlon,  on Late Night, with Stephen Colbert. If the guy writes like he talks he should be engaging. The point is Washington saw a coming evil that threatens us today and he warned against it in his fair well speech. That evil in partisanship or tribalism, a greater loyalty to the party than to the nation. Washington never joined a political party he feared that as people gave to their allegiance to parties a demagogic would rise up and claim power the allegiance to a party name. Truth, honor, and ideals would all be superseded by party loyalty. Now I have not read the book so I will depart from the book but that is my premise, I see this happening in the modern age,

Roy Moore has been exposed as a child molester, yet the Evangelical Christians of Alabama support him all the more. [2] It wasn't that long ago that just the accusation would take him out of the race. Since they've already accept the principle of men with no principles being men of God, with Trump, why make an exception now? The upporters reiect the allogatiospartly because they are ecgionedinlieralnewssources, Partly because the just refuse to accept them[3]

Now we fund that education has no power to communicate truth, That;right we find now education just mean sophisticated excuses,

A new study shows that the more education conservatives gain the more omitted they are to denying climate change. Directly contradicting Trump administration propaganda on climate "13 federal agencies an exhaustive scientific report in Friday that says human are the dominate cause of global temperature rise that ha created the warmest period in the history of civilization. [4] This is the Climate Science Special Report [5]

Rather than changing republican' minds,however, this knowledge only serves to make them more committed  to denial. [6]
But there is little reason to think that yet another scientific report will fundamentally shift attitudes on global warming — either among policymakers or the public at large. Researchers have found again and again that attitudes about climate change are shaped far more profoundly by political ideology or by comfort with proposed solutions to global warmingthan they are by the science itself. The latest climate report, written by scientists in 13 federal agencies as part of a congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, says little that hasn’t been said in countless reports over the past decade. Its major conclusions are virtually identical to those of a federal assessment published in 2014: Global warming is real, caused by humans and its impacts are being felt across the United States, from increased heat waves to greater flooding risks along the coasts.[7]

Wahington 's theory needs tweaking. Party allegiance is declining. [8]People are replacing party with ideology. Core Trump supporters were willing to destroy the party for the spreader of the ideology. But the party faithful have associated the party with God for so long they just support it at all cost even going down with the ship. "Ultimately, since the 1960s, American conservatism has increasingly exhibited the traits of religious fundamentalism. When politics is treated as a type of religion, and then combined with the rituals of worship and scripture in the form of evangelical Christianity, a type of hallucinatory ideology is created. This has become a form of political cultism; its power and hold over those caught in its ecstasy and passion cannot be easily broken."[8]

Remember the lost? the guys we were supposed to seek and save? They became the enemy then they became those we we hate and seek to kill. To the world the evangelical movement just makes the cross and the Gospel look like a hypocritical fantasy that was doomed to failure. We live in an age in which people dig into ideological positions and truth be damned.


[1] John Avlon, Washington's Farewell The Founding Father's Warning to Future Generations.New York: Simon Schuster, 2017, no page mdicated.
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[2] News Desk, "Roy Moore's Supporters Stand by Their Candidate." The New Yorker, (Nov 9, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[3] Johna Goldberg,"Roy  Moore's Supporter Don't Want the Allegations to Be True So They Don't Beleive Them," The Los Angels Times, (Nov 13,2017).
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[4] Lisa Friedman and  Glen Thrush, "U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change,Contradictin Top Trump Contradicting Top Trump Officials" (Nov 3,2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[5] Climate Science Special: Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA 4) vol. I
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[6] Kevin Quealy, The More Education Republicans Have The Less then tend To Believe in Climate Change, (Nov 14, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[7] Brad Plumer, "A Climate Science Report That Change Minds? Do 't Bet on It" The New York Times, (No 4,2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)
[8] Chauncy Devega, "The Toxic Ideology at the heart of Evangelical's Alliance With Republican Party" Alternete (August 10, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Atheists Hide in the Gaps

Image result for Metacrock's blog leap of faith

This was written in 2010 when I was still posting on CARM, Many of the reference are to CARM posters of the day,

I started this thread on CARM. (remember CARM therads are backwards so go to the last page to see the beginning). The atheist responses have been predictable if not furious and angry, but the  funny thing is not a one of them has actually addressed the issue. The concept is simple, there's always a gap in knowledge, there's always a need for a leap of faith. The only question is how wide is the gap, can we narrow it with conventional forms of knowledge (logic, science, reason, yada yada yada)? The punch line is the atheists assume as long as there is a gap there's a reason not to believe. Yet, there is always a gap, so they are hiding in the gap because they not only have o intention of bridging it, but they actually against the attempt.

I always use the concept of a diving board for the leap of faith. Its' an amusing metaphor based upon real life childhood experiences of going up the high dive ladder with good intentions and brave heart, and coming back down the high dive ladder having decided that more manly aspect of leaping is not leaping. This always came after a long period of deliberation about the nature of faith and the lack of necessity of leaping, conducted at the end of the high dive board, shivering and shaking from fear with a long line of agitated older kids behind me going "come on and jump!" That's when I became an existentialist, that moment. I decided it was much more important to understand and deal with the angst of being a kid stuck on a high dive than to jump! I use this metaphor to represent my arguments. No argument will eliminate the need to make the leap but perhaps some can get us out there further on so we narrow the gap. Or lower the board.

There's always a gap where one must make a leap of faith. You can reduce the gap or it can grow wide, but there is always a gap. Even in what atheists take to be rock solid proved scientific facts there is a gap. If you look in the right place, usually do some epistemology, every source of knowledge and every rock solid fact has a gap where we don't know and we have we must bridge the gap with a leap of faith.

We solve most gaps with a make-piece system of accepting what works and moving on. That's part of Heidegger notion of "ready to hand" in the discussion of the nature of being. What that means is bridging the gap with what works and making the leap of faith are so much a part of what we take for granted about life we don't even know we do it.

Atheists use the gap as an excuse to shun belief in God. We see this being done now in the thread about certainty. The atheist wont to pretend his world view is based upon "fact" and faith is some stupid thing only fools resort to. When we use answers that work, which fit the common criteria by which we judge reality, the atheist balks and demands absolute proof a standard even scinece doesn't pretend to.

you are hiding in the gap. you are using the fact of a gap to pretend that faith is somehow sub standard and that doubt is some kind of answer to truth.

The early responses just asserted the all sufficiency of scientific outlook to tell us what's what, really this amounts to gap denial.  From "Big Thinker" (contrasting his name to that of my friend Tiny Thinker, Tiny is one of the most Brilliant people I know, and their names are the inverse of their abilities).

Typically, the atheist's position is based on fact, its based on what is known. This contrasts with the believer's position that is founded on faith. The believer's position is based on possibility and speculation. The believer's gap is HUGE, their conclusion are unfounded and (ironically) unwavering. The atheist who's position is based on known facts is not emotionally committed to any particular idea but rather to an honest and critical assessment of the existing facts.

This is the same guy who said my 200 studies can't be any good because no academic would ever make a study showing that religious experience was good for you because it clearly isn't. when I pointed out that these were published in academic journals and done by real academics, not theologians and not religious publications he asserted that none of them were double blind. When I put down a link to a textbook written by the major researcher, Ralph Hood Jr. Of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the definitive article on the "M" scale which is the control mechanism for knowing if religious experience is valid, this stalwart defender of scinece refused to read the article, he would not click on a link and asserted that it wasn't scientific. He has no knowledge of the body of work, he has not read one word about what the field says of Hood or his M scale (I've talked to enough shrinks of religion to know that they regard him highly). When push comes to shove this guy has no regard for scinece, and no faith in scinece at all, no understanding what is and what is not scinece. All he's doing is working on prejudices and stereotypes.

In fact what he's doing is a perfect example of hiding in the gap. Almost all atheist arguments are argument from incredulity "I refuse to ever believe no matter what the evidence, therefore, it can't be true because if it was true I would believe." It's a form of circular reasoning.  In asserting this sort of sceitnism he's actually illustrating hiding in the gaps.  He's really saying "if there's a gap it's an excuse not to make the leap becuase there's a gap and I'm opposed to leaps of faith of any kind." Of course, his alternative is a selective pretense that only regards that which backs his view as "real scinece."

Super Genyus says (see link above):

There's no such thing as a "rock solid proved scientific fact." All scientific knowledge is tentative and conditional. Why you would need faith to say, "There is strong and copious amounts of evidence to suggest X being an accurate representation of reality," is beyond me.

Of cousre there's not "rock solid proof" that's my whole point. There is always a gap and always a leap of faith no matter what the issue. Even scientific hypothesis requires some leap of faith, however small it may be. Why we need faith to say something is reality is precisely because of what he said, all hypothesis are tenuous. What he's doing is to say first there is no such thing as solid proof, secondly, we can take evidence as solid proof if it's strong enough. That's fine, but what's strong evidence. It's apparently evidence that supports their view and not mine. If it supports mine it's not scientific and suddenly bad evidence. Look at the hypocrisy of this answer in relation to the next two issues that come up. The issue is no rock solid proof in scinece but we can accept strong evidence in place of proof (which is exactly what I say in m rational warrant argument--God is not proved but belief in God is rationally warranted).

the very next statement he makes:

This is generally not the case. We, generally speaking in terms of your most common arguments, just don't see how an explanation "working" to improve one's well-being relates to "working" as an explanation of reality. They are two separate criteria.

He's talking about 200 empirical studies that all basically say religious experience is real good for you and will transform you life (change dramatically for the better).  Not only do they not have one study but they refused to look at the text book chapter explaining all about the studies. In two years of putting that link up time after after time (well over a hundred) one of them has actually claimed to look at at it and I'm certain he did not read the whole chapter because he still doesn't know what the M scale is. He asserts just being good for you isn't evidence but why wouldn't it be? The claim is that God wants to save you, to renovate your life and make your life better. We find that experiencing God's presence actually does that. That seems pretty much like validation for the number one claim religion makes to be true, so why would that not be a rational warrant for belief? Strong evidence is warrant when ti backs atheism. Not when it backs God belief?

Is 200 studies strong evdience? Air Bags were deemed proven by four studies. Naturally the quality of the studies matter but 200 is a heck of a lot of studies, and none of them have managed in two years to dig up a valid methodological problem. This is proof of what I say that the atheist admiration for science is totally selective and ideologically driven. Also note the contradiction, one says the atheist position is "fact" (even though they can't find a single "fact" that disproves the existence of God) the other one says there are no rock solid proofs in scinece, it's all tentative. Yet, despite this contradiction they both take the very same position with regard to counter evidence that challenges their world view. They are both hiding in the gap. When the gap is in terms of their view it's trivial and can be traversed easily or it's just not there at all, when it's in terms of belief in God then it's a huge chasm that can never be bridged.

The poster Crockoduck (that's his screen name) get's into it:

So miracles actually remove the need for faith. True? In the Bible, God went around demonstrating his power all the time even when it wasn't necessary. Like when God took pot shots at the defeated and fleeing Amorite army:
Joshua 10:10 The LORD threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. [emphasis his]
So why can't he do some miracles today?

I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove. It's begging the question on miracles, assuming there are none without consulting the evidence. It looks more like a gratuitous opportunity to throw rocks at the Bible. A lot of atheists have been conditioned by fundamentalism to think that if there's anything wrong with the Bible then God id disproved. I think most atheists see through that but not all. Still it introduced the issue of miracles into the thread which became a huge argument and joke. Joke because the poster "Paradoxical" (that's his screen name, I guess "Metacrock"Is not one to make fun of screen names) continued to assert the same untruths against the shrine at Lourdes as though extraneous issues disprove miracles. I talk about Lourdes, that it has strict rules and doctors on the committee. Paradoxical talks about people spend their life savings to go to Lourdes, how cruel of God to lure people to that one place, take their life savings, then not heal but a tiny handful. I document with sources such as the Marion Newsletter that this is simply not the case. No one has ever claimed that God will only heal at Lourdes, that is not the deal. If one can't make it to Lourdes the water can be brought to them.

Then of course he cuts lose on the committee. They are all lackeys who work for the Vatican. The RCC has taken lots of measures to assure the autonomy of the committee. They are not paid, that is not their job. It's true that many of them loyal Catholics but they also use skeptics on the committee. He continually asserts these things over and over again as though I said nothing, and I'm quoting sources. Of course he also asserts other prayer studies have proved inconclusive so in his mind that is a complete disproof of God or miracles. That is an incredibly illogical conclusion. All that can really prove is that the study itself was inconclusive or that the double blind type of study is bad for prayer because outside prayer can't be controlled for. For example no one was healed in the experimental group above natural cure rate (even with the control group). Does that mean there's no God, or that God didn't want to heal anyone that time? How do we know no one outside the study prayed and that's why they weren't healed. So that's still an issue of control group. We can't control for outside prayer. I used to argue for those studies there 14 of them which are good and show results, but this one was suppossed to be the best.

Yet the Lourdes evidence is quite different. That is empirical evidence. the Xray shows the lung grew back over night. That is not remission, nothing grows back over night, lungs never grow back. Lungs that far gone (in the case of Charles Ann was not really a  Lourde's case but a saint making miracle) do not remit. That statistically never happens. That it did happen make it automatically a candidate for miraclehood. That's totally different than the controlled double blind study which just relays upon statistical averages. Yet Pradoxical seems to think these externalizes issues about how the shrine is run and allegiance of the doctors are germane to the evidence, and he doesn't even consider the xrays. Such concern with scientific fact!

What's really going on is he's hiding in the gaps too in a way. They are all saying "there's some kind of  gap in knowledge of the God element and as long as there is belief is totally unreliable. Yet their view, which they contrast as "factual" also has gaps but those gaps they write off as trivial, based upon selective evidence that just excludes anything that disproves their views. That's what I call "hiding in the gap!"

There's also an interesting epistemological problem with miracle hunting but I'll consider that net time.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Has Trump Saved the Economy? No!

On CBS this Morning (this morning--Nov. 10,3017) a focus group with Trump supporters revealed that every one of them redirected the propaganda  line that Trump has saved the economy. They really believe that Trump's deregulation and his confidence has created the upturn in the stock market and that created the upsurge in employment, this is manifest bunk, Back in 2012 I read prediction that two million jobs would be added to the economy over the next few years, Jobs are indicative of a growing healthy economy,Let's look at some of those predictions:

See my Resistance blog, Resistance is not futile

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tie breaker: God cannot be a brute fact

Image result for metacrock' blog God

This is called Tie-breaker because it moves us past the log jam that results in saying God is uncased and timeless always has been always will be with cause, vs. the atheist argument that this is no better than  just saying the universe happens to be here for no reason. My friend Eric Sotnak, who has a great gift for sarcasm that is not lost on me, set's it up as a matter of brute facts. There is a huge literature on brute facts but I wont go into it because I don't have time and I'm no expert. A brute fact is a thing that exists for no higher purpose, it has no reason for being it just is. [1] Now some will argue that brute facts can have physical causes or not. Since we have no examples of anything in nature that has no cause that just leaves and the universe as a whole. So the comparison between atheism and theism is between  God who has no cause vs a universe that has no reason for being weather it has a physical cause o not Having no reason means it could as easily not be. Sotnak turns this into an argument agaisnt the existence of God, but couches it in terms of God as a brute fact:

Traditionally, theists have felt extremely uncomfortable with the idea of a “brute fact” – that something could have just happened without explanation. Instead, they have committed to variations on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).I think the main reason for this is that they know quite well that without PSR, they will have no way to rule out the hypothesis that maybe the universe is just a brute fact (no God required).But I think theists could comfort themselves a bit by shedding their anxiety about this. Imagine a conversation like this between a theist (T) and an atheist (A):

A: I think the universe is a brute fact.T: Not I. I think it was made by God.A: But then where did God come from?T: God is an eternal brute fact.A: How does that make you better off than me, then?T: Well, while no logical proof of God’s existence is possible, I have subjective or existential reasons for being a theist. It seems to me that I can feel the presence of God in the laughter of my children, for instance. For me, theism helps me to make sense of the world and comforts me with the hope that death isn’t final.A: But if God is a brute fact, that means he could, logically speaking, have failed to exist.T: Yup. So I feel extra lucky that he does.
Since God cannot fail to exist (definition of  necessary),that is an intrinsic part of the definition of God; then to say God is a BF in this sense is to say there is no God. One might believe in a demoted god who is not the God but a sort of very power strange being we don't know about. Zeus or something. This is why we need a tie breaker because there is a supposed tie between God as BF and the Universe as BF. God cam't be abrute fact and still be God in the Christian sense. Yet there is this seeming tie between un-caused God and uncaused universe. We have to do this in such a way that the universe can't be withouut a cause and God who has no cause cannot be a brute fact.

To break the tie we just need to distinguish between the two kinds of un-caused nature. The argument is going to turn-on the concept of a BF. The nature of God's un-caused state is not the same as the nature of BF. To be a BF a thing must have no connection to a higher purpose. God can't have a purpose higher than himself but he can have a purpose higher than mere brute facticity. Semantically the two are different, Brute facts have higher purpose, God has asaiety not brute facticity. That it is part of the definition of what God is that he eternal and necessary. It's not part of the definition of the universe that it exists. That's existence as a predicate. On that basis Bertrand Russell ruled out the ontological argument. Existence is not a quality to be defined as part of the object, "I have one of those brick houses it;s the kind that exists." That goes beyond the semantic aspect and it can be understood in terms of the nature of being.

God is being itself of the ground of being.[2] The universe is not the ground of being. Even if it has no cause and has always existed the universe cannot be called the ground of being without attaching to it some higher sense of special nature such that we can think of it ass "holy being." But before we do deifying the universe there is no reason to assume that the universe is eternal or uncased. If it was, if we could call it God there would be a God and atheists would be wrong , even if Christians were wrong too. We can eliminate that possibility.  We know the universe is not eternal [3] and It did not pop out of nothing.[4] The rea contest is between a meaningless accident that somehow came to be for no reason with no higher purpose ,which we call "the universe" vs.  the ground of being or holy being which eternal, necessary (could not have failed to exist) and eternal cohere's within the infinite folds of a core purpose upon which the all existence coheres. That is not  purpose higher than itself but is it;'s own purpose (that the universe doesn't have). 

Now I hear the question "so what is God's big purpose?" God is not just being itself but as such is being por soir. Jean-Paul Sartre's term meaning being for itself. The alternative is being in itself. (en soir). In itself is inanimate (universe) and for itself is conscious and purpose; the purpose is set by God's nature which is love. Love is the will to the good of the other. Being for itself means it has will, volition and purpose. That purpose is to love to create more being and to provide for the good of such being. That is going to open a lot questions about the nature of life and theodicy, that has to wait for another time, This breaks the tie because it gives God a  purpose, self authorized, which the BF doesn't have.

a couple of notes on Eric's dialogue:

A: I think the universe is a brute fact.T: Not I. I think it was made by God.A: But then where did God come from?T: God is an eternal brute fact.

No that is the wrong answer. He misidentifies aseity as brute fact which it is not. God has a purpose and is self perpetuated, the universe has no purpose and is not perpetuating itself. It has nothing to do with its own existence. Now we come to Eric's real gift of sarcasm:

T: Well, while no logical proof of God’s existence is possible, I have subjective or existential reasons for being a theist. It seems to me that I can feel the presence of God in the laughter of my children, for instance. For me, theism helps me to make sense of the world and comforts me with the hope that death isn’t final.
That's mockery of mystical experience, Yes God ks beyond our understanding, All the things we say about god are either very limited or metaphorical. The fact is the life transformation chances are proven fact established by 200 or more empirical scientific studies in peer reviewed journals. For more on this see my book The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman, on amazon.[5]

A: But if God is a brute fact, that means he could, logically speaking, have failed to exist.T: Yup. So I feel extra lucky that he does.

That would be a conceptual contradiction at the heart of the God concept, thus no God. Such is not the case.

[1] There's a problem with the definition of a brute fact. Different philosophers have different definitions. Atheist from is at work. the definition is changed from the way I learned it (no reason for being) to a definition that has to include god (something we can't explain)I disagree, I don't that as a BF. God being beyond understanding and explainable for that reason is totally different than saying "X just just happens to be for no reason." The chief difference is for the one the could be a reason we just don't understand it,for the other there is none, The fact of a purpose involved with God as being i think breaks the tie

[2] Ground of being is a concept made famous by Paul Tillich and other theologians, I've written about it vociferously. It basically amounts to saying God is the basis of reality. My A"Introduction to Paul Tillich's Existential Ontology" Metacrock's Blog

[3] Quentin Smith, “The Uncased Beginning of the Universe.” The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, (1988, Vol., 55, no. 1), 39-57.

[4] Joseph Hinman, "Quantum Particles Do not prove universe from Nothing," The religious a priori, website URL:
accessed 7/23/16

[5] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God:Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs:Grand Vidaduct, 2014.