Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Does Inequality Make God Improbable?

 photo financial_wealth_pie_chart.png
most problems of inequality are man made

On secular outpost Jeff Lowder makes an F inductive argument using the new problem of increased microcephaly to argue for the improbability of God. It really just boils down to saying that God is less likely because if God was moral and loving he would not distribute gifts unequally. The argument is about probability not proof. Children with microcephaly are examples of a larger problem of inequality of distribution of gits. The augment is made by Moti Mizrahi. Lowder is just amplifying the argument.[1]

Lowder statres:

The key point of Mizrahi’s argument, which he credits to an insight of John Rawls, is this:

… natural endowments are undeserved.Now, if natural endowments are undeserved, then the fact that one person is more innately endowed than another is arbitrary from a moral point of view. In that case, if one person has more natural talents or is more talented than another person, then that is an unequal distribution of natural talents. From a moral point of view, it is not fair that one person is taller, healthier, faster, thinner, more intelligent, more beautiful, more agile, and otherwise more naturally endowed than another person. Both did not deserve their shares of natural talents (or lack of natural talents, for that matter). The talented do not deserve to be talented just as the untalented do not deserve to be untalented. More generally, the haves do not deserve to have just the have-nots do not deserve not to have. (p. 6) [2]
First of all I disagree that this has anything to do with morality. There is no "distribution" there is natural evolutionary disposition,All God is doing is letting it ride. There may be certain people who are given gits because they are give the opportunity to serve God in some great way . Not all people could be the leader of the civil rights movement, Not all people were given the gifts of Martin Luther King., It's not unfair or immoral that God raises up a Martin Luther King, not everyone is willing to make the sacrifices that go with the gifts. Since gifts are part of certain aspect of the Christian tradition there is a theology of gifts. Now if God was willing to let the distribution of gifts ride so to speak, letting nature distribute them why would that be unfair. The recipients would not be receiving them out of any kind of special favor but by accident, except in rare cases where more is demanded of the person being given them.

The argument is based upon probability it's not proof. It's about likelihood. A concept of God that posits a loving God who makes unloving universe is less likely to be the case because of the inconstancy. Yet, the probabilistic nature of the argument does not negate the for sound premises I the distribution of gifts is not a moral failing the argument is not sound. That will soon be demonstrated.

Mizrahi frames the natural inequality version :
Now, since moral arbitrariness in the distribution of natural endowments gives rise to unequal distributions, which are unfair because they are undeserved, as when some (e.g., Albert Einstein) get all the cognitive goods, whereas others (e.g., microcephalics) get nothing, the problem is to say how could God—who is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—allow for this sort of natural inequality. In other words, if God is morally perfect, why is the distribution of natural endowments so unequal? How could an all-good God be so unfair in distributing natural endowments? This is the problem of natural inequality, which is a new evidential (not logical or incompatibility) problem of evil, or so I argue. (pp. 6-7) [3]
I think the issue of microcephalics is is mis-categorized. It's not a matter of gift distribution, Normal endowments are not gits in the conventional sense, it's a matter of impediment acruel. That may seem like splitting hairs but I think it matters. There's a reason why we have to take the risk of nature with everything in life. That is based upon my concept I call soetriological drama. The purpose of creation (according to my theory--speculative only) is so that free moral agents will willingly choose the good. Choosing the good means primarily giving our lives to Christ but it also includes all aspects of being good, This requires a search for truth because of God just announced his presence we would resent it, we only seek to be good when we seek truth and find it ourselves. The most important thing therefore is the viability of the search. If nothing bad every happened to us and we were all equal inabilities we would not seek we would not need to seek truth. We would know God was real and we would resent God's commands. That may seem unrealistic to some but if one just thinks about the attitudes of people how many o us really want to be denied our own way? So the bottom line is we have to play out this search for truth amide a real world which is neutral in terms of God evidence. There are clues but leap of faith is always necessary. Read more about my theory. [4]

He sums up the issue:

But if theism is true, God is neither indifferent nor incapable of distributing natural endowments evenly. God is capable of distributing natural endowments evenly because God is by definition all-powerful. God is interested in the distribution of natural endowments because God is both loving and morally perfect. God’s love for his creatures, as well as his moral perfection, entails that God allows a state of affairs to obtain only if he has a good moral justification for doing so. But, as noted by both Rawls and Mizrahi, natural endowments are not morally justified. For example, there is nothing Michael Phelps did to deserve to be born with the kind of physiology which made his athletic achievements possible, just as there is nothing Nick Vujicic did to deserve to be born with no limbs.

That is not a reason why God should make everyone equal in ability. I can see the problem in abnormality like disease but interments of normal endowments there is no  nature should be Standa clause or why god should equalize all gifts. Natural endowments are a matter of random chance and they have to be to have a neutral world and maintain the search. It's nat a matter of salvation but...

Mizrahi connects it to salvation:
Furthermore, as Mizrahi notes, the lack or minimal presence of natural endowments relating to intellectual ability, such as microcephaly, can prevent people from responding to God appropriately. So the distribution of natural endowments, in some cases, also causes important restrictions on people’s ability to have a relationship with God. Again, blind nature is both indifferent to (and incapable of) taking such factors into account while conducting what Rawls calls the “natural lottery,” but God has no such limitations.[5]

That does not make it a matter of salvation, We do not need to be great theologians to be saved, Anyone can be saved anyone can have a Revelations with God, all relationships do not have to be the same. We are only accountable for the light we are given, We don't have to live up to more than we conceive of. Relationships with God can be extremely simple as long as they are honest, to the best of one's ability. Thinking that salvation is affected by one's intellectual ability makes salvation a meritocracy. Theological no no in Christianity,

God is not rendered less probable because the theory for the argument is wrong,

God wants free moral agents who willingly choose the good to live in amoral universe (one in which they are free to seek the good). Just sticking people in life and directly mandating the search would only result in resentment on the part of the creature. WE have to have free will to truly desire the good (and to love) but having free will means resenting the imposition of other minds.
But the search for good results in internalizing the values of the good then we don't resent God's rules. As Jesus said he who is forgiven much loves much. When we seek the truth and find it ourselves we have no problem with God's laws. But if the world is constructed such that we all know up front God is real then we have no search and we resent the rules.
so we need a neutral world in which one searches for truth


[1] Jeffery Jay Lowder, "An Evidential Argument from Evil: Natural Inequality," Augst 21,2016. Blog URL: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2016/08/21/an-evidential-argument-from-evil-natural-inequality/

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] two articles on religious a priori

Soteriological drama: http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2011/04/answer-to-theodicy-soteriological-drama.html

12 angry Stereotypes  http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2011/04/twelve-angry-sterio-typesanswering-mark.html

[5]the rest of Lowder's argument is as follows:

I find Mizrahi’s paper very convincing, but I think it is also incomplete, since it never actually states the logical form of his evidential argument. But this problem is easily solved. Using the generic structure for F-inductive arguments, this passage (and the paper as a whole) inspire the following F-inductive version of the problem of natural inequality.
Let E = a statement about known facts about natural inequality: the unequal distribution of natural endowments (such as height, health, speed, weight, intelligence, beauty, agility, and so forth).
(1) E is known to be true.
(2) Theism is not much more probable intrinsically than naturalism, i.e., Pr(|T|) is not >! Pr(|N|).
(3) E is much more likely on the assumption that naturalism is true than on the assumption that theism is true, i.e., Pr(E | N) >! Pr(E | T).
So, (4) Other evidence held equal, theism is probably false, i.e., Pr(T | E) < 0.5.
Premise (1) is beyond reasonable doubt.
Premise (2) is eminently plausible, for reasons which I have discussed on this blog many times before. (See the recent guest post by Paul Draper for a primer.)
This leaves premise (3). The justification for (3) may be summed up as follows:
On naturalism, E is just what we would expect. If naturalism is true, all animals are the byproducts of unguided evolution by natural selection, which is both indifferent to the distribution of natural endowments and incapable of distributing them fairly. Everything else held equal, on naturalism, we would expect natural endowments to be distributed randomly (such as in the shape of a bell curve)....

This leaves (4), which is the inference drawn from (1)-(3). 4 follows deductively from (1)-(3) as a natural consequence of Bayes’ Theorem.
I conclude that the problem of natural inequality, especially as manifested in individuals with microcephaly or other severe intellectual disabilities which prevent a relationship with God, is strong, prima facie evidence against God’s existence

Monday, August 22, 2016

Against infinite causal regression


The Infinite causal regress is an important issue in dealing with the cosmological argument, especially the Kalam version, and the argument form final cause. It basically means that any infinitely recurring causality for any event is impossible, since one never actually arrives at a cause. The importance of this argument applies not only to the now largely abandoned notion of an oscillating universe, but to any finite causes of space/time. This is because in light of the impossibility it means that the ultimate cause of the universe must be a final cause, that is to say, the cause behind all other causes, but itself uncaused and eternal. These are two major issues because they indicate why the ultimate cause of the universe has to be God. Since arbitrary necessities are impossible, the ultimate cause cannot be something which is itself contingent, such as an eternal singularity. The ultimate cause, or "final cause" must be God, since God is a logical necessity.

I have been discussing this argument with Eric Sotnac on another thread. It really comes down to  a standoff as he argues there is no formally logical self contradiction in an infinite series of cause since each event in the series is caused it's not something from nothing. I can't really show a formally stated reason why it is a contradiction, or logically impossible, except that it doesn't account for the origin of things. If we trace back the links (say in big bang, big crunch) toward the origin of things, we just go back eternally. We never arrive at an origin so we never have one. That is not satisfying, where did the universe come from that does not do it for me.

Moreover, I get the impression that since we never get to the origin there's no reason to assume ICR. That means It's warranted. Technically it may not be a contradiction but it's warranted as a solution either. There is a good reason not accept it, besides the fact that it doesn't deliverer the goods: It's an arbitrary necessity. By that I mean there is logical reason or even a physics reason for it to be. It's a contingency (naturalistic origin or the cosmos such as big bang) but over as a necessity (eternal necessary series of cause and effects) with not actual origin or reason for being. It's only real function is to avoid a God argument. Eric argues that it's not arbitrary but the arbitrary aspect is that it's a contingency with no real reason and never supplies an origin.

At this point we might look at it in terms of my brute fact tie breaker. We could look at the ICR as a brute fact. It just is, there is no reason for it we can't privilege belief and assume there must be a reason so that's all there is. But it's not satisfying because it doesn't really explain. When we compare this to the notion of being itself and Tillich's idea of being having depth we can contrast arbitrary no reason with purpose and reason. Being Por Soir gives reason (in religious parlance is love) to think there is meaning and purpose. Being has to be necessary and eternal since something can't come from nothing. Eternity might yield necessity in an ontological since because it would need no cause. But in choosing between purpose and brute act I think I would rather choose purpose. Granted, at bottom line that is intuitive.

Then there is an empirical reason not to accept ICR, or to see it as unwarranted. Atheist Philosopher Quentin Smith argues that the universe is both finite (not eternal) and uncaused. He gives good evidence that the universe is not eternal but can't provide good evidence that is uncaused, Thus he winds up sup-lying Good evidence for the Cosmological Argument.[1] He argues for a finite past based upon the amount of radiation and entropy. Each new cycle would the universe getting bigger and longer thus as we go back in time it get's smaller and shorter. “This disallows an infinite regress into the past, for a regress will eventually arrive at a cycle that is infinitely short and a radius that is infinitely small; this cycle, or the beginning of some cycle with values approaching the values of this cycle, will count as the beginning of the oscillating universe.”  [2]The amount of radiation present in the universe Indicates a finite past.Infinite past would mean infinite radiation, but the radiation present in the universe is finite. [3] "The conclusion that the past is finite also follows from facts about entropy; if an infinite number of previous cycles have elapsed, each with increasing entropy, then the present cycle would be in a state of maximum entropy-but in fact it is in a state of relatively low  entropy.” [4]See my article about Smith's article. [5]

There are other theories such M theory, string theory on steroids. That is too complex to go into here. There is no empirical evidence for the theory. It is not certain it would provide an origin story anyway.  There's self causation through quantum tunneling but that is self contradiction at it's core. That is answered by DC's "flashpoint,"  although I prefer "Crisis on Infinite Earths." 

ICR is based upon circular reasoning, or something like it. They need the universe not to be created, they need a naturalistic cause. They need that cause to be eternal since a limited cause would need an explanation. So they loop the process back around. The premise the universe is a never ending series of beginnings and endings, rests upon the conclusion, that the universe is eternal.


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

[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

[5] Joseph Hinman, "Universe is finite but is it uncaused Atheist Philosopher herlps." The Religiojs a priori, online resource, accessed 8/22/16 http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2016/03/universe-is-finite-but-is-it-uncaused.html

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Action Alert: Standing Rock Reservation

The Lakhóta and Sioux people are part of a confederation of seven related Sioux tribes which are indigenous of the Great Plains of North America. And right now, the news isn’t telling you that they are trying to fight a pipeline from being built beneath the Missouri, Mississippi, and Big Sioux rivers. The federal government recently gave their approval to build the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will transport crude oil for almost 1200 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. Hundreds of these native Americans showed up to protest for the sake of protecting our clean water.
In fact, things are pretty volatile. The standoff has led to arrest and intimidation. These people want to protect our natural water supply from being potentially compromised it what would be a risky event. A pipeline beneath one of our country’s main water supplies is more than dangerous to our health, it is unethical. A spill would ruin not only our drinking water, but farmland. So far, the protesters of forced a cease in operations, but that might only last so long as reinforcements are called in.

Please be aware of what's going on right now at Standing Rock Reservation, where the Lakota Souix Tribe along with others are fighting to stop the building of a pipeline that will be built underneath the MISSOURI river which supplies millions of people with water! This is so huge, LAKOTA and SOUIX TRIBES ARE CALLING ON ALL HUMANS TO UNIFY TO PROTECT THE WATER FOR MILLIONS! Without water life does not exist on this planet!!!! Please spread the word! 💓🌍

Read more. Contact ABC, NBC,CBS,NPR demand coverage!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Religious Belief is Warranted: Answering Stephen Law


Stephen law makes a very long argument about the principal of material causation as a means of arguing against irrationality of belief in God. the argument is way too long to include in full here.,I will try to summarize it briefly.

Summary:  Humans generate a lot of appealing ideas about reality, most of these ideas can't be proved empirically but they are beveled based upon personal experiences (x-claims). A high rate of these x-claims--ideas are based upon unseen agents with mysterious powers. The hit rate for disproof of x claims is high, That is to say claims have poor rate of being corroborated. The rates for claims to be proven false is high, on this basis he concludes that belief in God is not warranted. In answering a particular argument he summarizes the argument this way:

My claim is that we are highly prone to false positive X-claim beliefs when they are grounded in just ... [experience or testimony] and this provides us with a rationality defeater for such beliefs. Note, first, that the claim that such beliefs can be explained naturalistically plays no role in my argument. It's not the likely correctness of some naturalistic explanation for our proneness to false positive X-claim beliefs that provides the rationality defeater, but that proneness itself, which various naturalistic mechanisms have been invoked to explain. Indeed, even if it turned out our proneness to false positive X-claim beliefs had some non-natural cause (it turned out, say, that some mischievous demon is causing us mistakenly to suppose our dead ancestors, gods, etc. are revealing themselves), that wouldn't undermine the X-claim argument. Secondly, while diversity of X-claim belief plays some role in supporting the claim that we're systematically prone to error when it comes to X-claim beliefs, it is not - as it is in the argument from religious diversity - diversity alone that is supposed to generate a defeater, but that diversity in combination with considerable evidence for a proneness to false positive beliefsIt's that further evidence that gives the X-claim argument two significant advantages over arguments from diversity: it avoids both the 'proves too much' objection and the problem of self-defeat.

The diversity argument says  that diversity is weakness in belief. All the religions of the world claim to be validated by experience they all offer different solutions and different ideas. I will be dealing with that separately, another time. His defeater philosophy is crucial to the augment, The notion that new information undermines the basis upon which the belief came to be made in the first place negates or undermines the epistemic claims of the belief. Of course the examples he gives are tailored to show his argument is right. They have nothing to do with religion,  In choosing examples like this he may think the principles are shown as valid apart from the subject matter but it also biases the issue. One example is that of a factory worker who thinks they are producing red objects, Then he learns there's a red light that makes objects appear red. The new information negates the workers ability to hold the belief based upon personal observation. But this would matter exactly what the subject matter was,. As will be shown not all negations of testimony are equal.

I have tree objections:

(1) Anomalies can be absorbed into the paradigm:

If one merely examines the overall rate of false claims in a given religious tradition, or in thew of a given believer, it appears there many false claims. Yet belief is not based upon the net result of all of these claims, Most false claims pertain to minutia, they are unimportant. It's only the key ideas upon which faith rests. If we consider Thomas Kuhn's model of paradigm shits, which I think is indicative of how humans learn, it doesn't matter how many anomalies are found in a given paradigm as long as they can be absorbed into the model, then they are dismissedv asmere anaomolies. 
(2) Key beliefs can be substantiated

The epitome of the kind of claim Law called "x-claims" would be mystical experience. This is a particular kind of religious experience based upon feelings about God's presence and the sense of undifferentiated unity, It's not about visions or voices. Visions and voices might always be wrong but that not effect mystical experience. Because it is a personal experience mystical experience should be taken to be the most subjective and thus the epitome of the x-claim, Yet It is empirically validated with 200 studies peer reviewed psychology journals. This is the subject of my book, The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman, These experiences have long term positive effects and have been validated over and over, Their study is empirical and scientific, I wrote a book about it.  [2] See my article [3]

(3) Religion does what it is supposed to do, it works.

Religion is not about spirits and ghosts and unseen forces. It was, but humans have evolved in our understanding  beyond that point, It's about understanding the human problematic, the clusters of problems at the heart of being human that produce the human condition, That is what mystical experience is about, All religions mediate between the human problematic and ultimate transformative experience that resolves the problematic, The studies on mystical experience show that this process works quite well.


[1] Stephen Law, "the X-claim argument against religious belief (pre publication drat),"Stephen Law July 25, 2016, blog URL:
http://stephenlaw.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-x-claim-argument-against-religious.html  (access 8/12/16)

[2] Joseph Hinman, The trace of God: Rational Warrant for belief. Colorado Sprimgs: Rand Viaduct. 2014 availavle on Amazon: URL https://www.amazon.com/Trace-God-Rational-Warrant-Belief/dp/0982408714

[3] ____________. "Mystical Experi9ence: Empirical Knowledge of The Supernatural," Metacrock's blog July 17,2016 URL: http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2016/07/mystical-experience.html (accessed 8/17/16)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Principle Material Causality: Disproving ex apologist anti-God argument

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Someone calling himself "The exapologiost" argues against the truth of religious belief based upon the assumptions of classical materialism, ie there are  no solid objects that are not createdby material causes. This would rule out any traditional misunderstanding of God. In fact he couches his argumeht in terms of an assault on "cl;classical theism," [1]
The Argument
The argument I’ll defend can be expressed as follows:
1. All concrete objects that have an originating or sustaining cause have a material cause of their existence.
2. If classical theismcvc is true, then the universe is a concrete object that has an originating or sustaining cause without a material cause of its existence.
3. Therefore, classical theismcvc is false.

Defines classical theism as (1) God is wholly distinct from the world, (2) God is the ordering and sustaining cause of the world (3) created the world out of nothing (4) "classical view of creation" he doesn't say what that means. He asserts what he calls the principal of material cause (PMC) which states that "concrete objects have a material cause whenever they have an originating or sustaining cause." Of course God is not a material Cause so thiat let's God out. By material cause he means a cause made of the "same stuff from which" the effect is made.

 When we examine the exapologist's appeal it seems his real concern is incredulity regarding exnihilo creation, It's because he can't accept physical material coming from nothing. He does appeal to an empiricists assumption that since our uniform experience of materialist causes is contradicted then we are warranted in assuming that all causes must be materiel. In addition  to this observatory his only real argument seems to be that apart from matter there's no potential or existence because to exist a thing must be made out of something.

My first argument would be that he had no real reason for thinking p1 is the case. It's basically begging the question. We have to be careful here because the skeptic could liken it unto the reverse situation where William Lane Craig argues that we see no contradictions to principle of causality and things dom't seem to ever pop into existence out of nothing,[2] In fact the skeptic who argues the PMC must agree with the observation. But in limiting reality to just material causes she assumes we know all causes. Craig's argument is just about causes period. We can also assume that there is a point at which we must stop the chain and account for all causes or assert ICR which is illogical [3] The two assumptions are not on a par because Craig's is more general and allows for more possibilities.They are alike in that they both assert the weight of empirical observe to unergird an assumption about reality. But Craig's principle is less assumptive. 

Secondly,  there are aspects of reality that could well be non material causes such as libertarian free will.That would mean we live in an open system. The true cause mystical experience, gravity working at action at av distance, antimatter, since it is matter's mirror opposite wouldn't it have to be immaterial? Moreover,this kind of assumption made bye ex apologia, that we can assert from empirical observatory t o all causes might be the fallacy of composition.Just became each individual physical object has a material cause doesn't mean that the whole does.

Thirdly, it's far from certain thiat we know that there are any material causes, The whole issue is clouded by the limitation of human knowledge, The most fundamental limitation in this regard is our inability to really say what material really means, The exapologist defines it as "cause made of the same stuff from which" the effect is made. But the truth of it is we don't know what mater is made of. We assume there's a distinction between matter and spirit because one is solid and concrete and can be seen and the other can't be seen. That doesn't prove by any means that what we regard as solid and material really is solid or material. After we know it's all made out of atoms and atoms are composed of sub atomic particles. We assume because we have labels for these things we know what they are, That doesn't really tell us what they are made of.
We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions.[4]
Do we really know enough about matter and en ergy to say we can rule out all but"material" causes when we don't even know what they are? "But physicists now know that atoms are not solid little balls. It’s better to think of them as tiny electrical, “planetary” systems. They’re typically made up of three main parts: protons, neutrons and electrons. Think of the protons and neutrons as together forming a “sun”, or nucleus, at the centre of the system. The electrons orbit this nucleus, like planets." [5] 

The argument deal with material causes but all matter is energy. Energy is not matter so it's clearly not ture that everything has a material cause. This a technicality since they could just as easily argue "physical cause" and make the same point. Still we don't really know how physical physical things are since we don't really know what they are made of.

He argues against several straw man arguments once is good:

Finally, the theist might resist premise 1 by appeal to agent causal views of the self. Thus, they might argue that there are good reasons to think that (i) humans possess libertarian free will, that (ii) this is best explained on the assumption that the physical realm isn’t causally closed, ... This reply won’t work, however. For even if (i)-(iii) could be adequately supported – contrary to the opinion of the majority of analytic philosophers[8] – the falsity of the causal closure of the physical wouldn’t require positing the creation of concrete objects ex nihilo. Rather, at most, it would require the transferof pre-existing energy from the agent (who acts from “outside” of the natural causal order) to the physical realm.[9] 

Sorry philosophers have as much chance of voting God out of existence as Republicans have of voting in a rational nominee. That's just appeal to authority it is not appeal to expert testimony because philosophers are not experts on free will they are merely questioners.


[1] Ex apologist Philosophy of religion, "Theism and Material Causality,", blog, Dec 4, 2014, blog URL: http://exapologist.blogspot.ca/2014/12/theism-and-material-causality.html (accesssed 8/12/16)
[2] William Lnae Craig, "The Existence of God anmd begiominmg of the universe" Reasonable Faith on line resource URL: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-existence-of-god-and-the-beginning-of-the-universe  (access8/13/16)
[3] ICR illiogical
[4] STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Science and Facilities Council, 2012 URL:http://www.lhc.ac.uk/The%20Particle%20Detectives/Take%205/13686.aspx
this is from the large Hadron colllider--I think they might something about the subject.
[5] Chris Baraniuk, "How do We Know that Things Are Really Made out of Atoms?" Earth, BBC, Nov 2015 on line URL:
(access 8/12/16)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Argument from Ground of Being


1 whatever evokes the sense of the numinous warrants belief in God
2 Contemplating the Depth of Being evokes the sense of the Numinous
3 therefore, depth of being warrants belief in God

Paul Tillich did not like God arguments and he did not try to make them He didn't really need them because, as he put it, if you know being has depth then you know there's a God. Yet several commentators, such as John M. Russell,[1]  and Duane Olson [2] have seen the potential in Tillich's thought for an implied ontological argument i n his notion of the depth of being, I have a problem here because both arguments, and Tilliich's original thinking have a gap where the only link to the reality of God is intuitive, thus will be seen as unclear. Thus I set up my own argument based upon Tillich,

The key to understanding the Tillich ideas is to stop thinking of /God as a big man or even powerful force and think of it as a condition or state of being, I am not suggesting that this is all God is. God is still king of reality as far as I am concerned,. God has his own idea will and volition, But we come to rubber stamp  everything about God with this standardized image of the king on a throne, If God is not "blowing your mind," as we used to say in 60's parlance, you re not thinking of God, If you have God figured out and you can rubber stamped then you are not dealing with God. This is an  exercise in breaking the mold.It might be a helpful exercise to try thinking of God in terms of a zone the God zone) or a state of being. I still expect God to have will and volition and to blow away our convent well understood categories. We are like "flat landers" [3] talking about God's finger as though it's God.  Now examine the argument. Remember it's mot proof it's a warrant (justification) to believe:

The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not[4]
We discussed God and the Depth of Being last time
"The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means." 

Depth = God

"For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him." 

Analogy to truth: Tillich uses this idea to get across the unbounded condition (God is the unbounded condition the prius to subject/object dichotomy). Truth has to exist because if truth was said not to exist it would be true that it didn't exist. Thus truth can't fail to be. Moreover, this works by the ontological principle, we know it;s true if we know the meaning of the term. The link between this point about truth and God is one of the unclear points, How do we know God is truth, Thus I use it as an analogy,

Like truth, knowing that being has depth is knowing God is real. how to link being itself to God?  It's an intuitive sense. That's really the bottom line. The connecting link of how we hook up truth and depth of being to God is merely an intuitive sense, "Tillich's Bonaventurian claim that "God is most truly present to the very soul and immediately knowable...we thus therefore intuit God in himself directly without media..."[5]

There is an indication, there's a co-determinate, or a correlate.   In other words there is a "trace of God" or a correlate that we are able to associate with God like a finger print is associated with a finger or a track in the snow is associated with the creature that made the track, How do we know what is associated with God? The best example would be whatever evokes a sense of God;s presence,

The juxtaposition between finitude and infinitude evoked by the realization of our own finitude against, for example,  the backdrop of the night sky in the  desert can evoke a sense of the numinous. This is special sense of God's presence and unbounded love. Because this sense points to the reality of God it gives us a fit object of religious devotion, 

Like the issue of truth if we know what depth means we know being has depth and that helps us understand the nature of the sense of the infinite which produces religious sense. The difference is the actual experiences the numinous is empirical and not deductive. The analogy in the understanding of what depth means, If you understand what depth means you know being has depth, From that point you can go on to the initiative sense that connects depth to 'god, the sense which nay include the numinous, 


[1] John M. Russell, "Tillich's implied ontological Argument." Sophia Vol. 32, no. 2, 1993, 5.

[2] Duane Olson, "Paul Tilloich and the Ontological Argument,"Quodlibet Journal: Volume 6 Number 3, July - September 2004 ISSN: 1526-6575 URL:

http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/olson-tillich.shtml  (accessed 8/9/16)
[3] flatLand the 20007 film (2007) aticle Wikipidia


[4] Paul Tillich, the Shaking of The Foundations

[5]Russell, op cit, 4

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Being has depth

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Tillich equates knowing that being has depth with knowing that God is real. This will be the basis of the “realization” that is the end goal and object of my work in this regard. The development of an alternative to endless arguments that must be taken on faith before they prove anything is moving toward an understanding of realization as the alternative to argument. We have seen this quotation before but I will use it here again:

The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not.1

Depth roughly correlates with the hard problem in brain/mind studies and with Dasein in Heidegger's thought, "A Being in the world" is how the latter defines it. Heidegger has this phrase, "ready to hand." This is like a carpenter with his tools, He doesn't have to think about how to use them he's used so many times before they are part of him, he uses them without thinking,. That how being is for us,that's how consciousness is for us. That how the hard problem is like Dasein. If one understands the hard problem one probably understands what is meant by being has depth, Both Dasein and hard problem have in common that those aspects such as consciousnesses and being are truncated and are structured by our expectations and our red-to-hand experiences of then, thus we only truly examine the surfaced of being, or of consciousness. Modes of being are an example of depth, infinitude and religious experience of the numinous are examples of depth, things beyond the surface of just existing.

God cannot be understood as standing alongside other beings, as part of creation, not even as the most powerful part. If God is “a being” he is subject to the categories of finitude; especially space and substance.2 Even if we try to call him the “highest” or “most perfect” being, as Tillich said “when applied to God superlatives become diminutives.”3 In saying God is “the most powerful being” we are diminishing God from a status much more lofty than “most powerful being,” that of the ground of all being. “Whenever unconditional power and meaning are attributed to the highest being it has ceased to be a being and has become being itself.”4 He adds explicitly “the power of being is another way of expressing it.” 5 At this point Tillich begins to talk about the power to resist nothingness. This idea that being is the power to resist nothing is mystifying to modern Americans, probably to modern anyone who hasn’t studied phenomenology. One is given the impression that nothingness is pulling us under like water out of a drain and being is hanging on to the drain cock trying to keep from being sucked into oblivion. This is all conditioned by the historical circumstances of the German situation which marked the Philosophy of the early 20s. George Steiner discusses this in the Introduction to his work Martin Heidegger. 6 Tillich says that God is the power of being “in everything and above everything.” This “in everything” is one of those pantheistic sounding phrases but as will be seen, Tillich repudiates this. He asserts that Plato and other thinkers have always known about being itself. “Every since the time of Plato it has been known, although it has often been disregarded—especially by the nominalists and their modern followers—the concept of being as being, or being itself points to the power inherent in everything, the power to resist non being.”7 When theology ignores God as being itself it relapses into monarchal theism, the worship of the “big guy in the sky,” even if the concept is a more refined version such as “universal mind.” If the universal mind is part of the world and reacts in the world as though another aspect of the world then it is nothing more than a refined cover for the big man in the sky.

Even if God is seen as “universal essence” this is as wrong headed as speaking of God as existing or as a big man in the sky, or as the “highest and most powerful being.” That is to say it would leave God subject to being, to space, to time. As the power of the ground in all of these, and in all being, God transcends all of these and all being. One might quibble, “if God transcends all being then he is beyond being, he’s not real, he doesn’t “be.” But of course this is a quibble with Tillich’s stylized form of speaking. God transcends the content of being as an object in the world, and transcends the level of ‘the beings.’ God transcends our understanding, thus language becomes meaningless at a certain point. God transcends the essential and he existential. Being itself does not participate in non being, it is not in a dialectical relationship with non being as are “the beings.” I identified that dialectic as indicative of Tillich’s over all approached and tried to link to being itself, but being itself is not in a dialectic with non being it does not participate in non being. But of course that doesn’t mean Tillich’s overall approach is not dialectical, that’s part of his dialectical theology. God is “prior to” or “higher than” the split that characterizes finite being.8 For this reason, as Tillich tells us, it is just as wrong to identify God as “universal essence” as it is to identify God as “existing.” If God is identified with universal essence, with the form of forms, he is limited to finite potentialities. He argues that pantheism is really identified with the idea of the forms and pours god’s creative power into forms to which god is then bound. Thus the Platonic and the pantheistic are ruled out. This statement that God transcends the essential and the existential and that God is not a universal essence may sound like a contradiction with a phrase Tillich uses, creative ground of essence and existence. This is not really a contradiction. Transcendence implies participation in and movement beyond. So God is the ground of the essential and the existential without being based in them. God is the basis of them without being what they are. Water molecules are not wet. Photons are not bright.
There are two more deep structures that need to be discussed. One has already been discussed and needs further elaboration:

The quotation itself tells us why he says that if we know being has depth we can’t be atheists. He equates depth of being with the source of being, the source of life, and he tells us that the term “God” means depth. Literally the word “God” does not mean “depth.” He’s saying that the concept of God in modern theology and in the Christian tradition has always been that God transcends the level of mere things in creation. Depth of being means that being is not just the fact of things existing, nor is it only a surface understanding of the causes of things around us. The depth of being is the big picture, the idea that being is more than what we observe empirically, it is the spiritual sense, depth in profundity. He actually uses the term “depth” in more than one sense; suffering as in depth of despair, profundity, as in “deep meaning,” and transcendence, beyond the surface level. All of these uses are embodied in his essay.2 According to this statement, when we come to realize that there’s a lot more to being than just surface fact of existence, then we understand that God is real. Thus God and the depth of being are equated. This is because God is not a big man in the sky, but rather, God is the power of being, that to say the ground upon which all is has come to be and in which it coheres and continues. In the last chapter I discussed the possibility that this is the power of mind to perceive or to think the universe. The connection between the possibilities of consciousness as the basis of reality and the philosophical questions raised by this notion, as well as others related to it, form the basis of a good place to start exploring the depth of being.


Truth is the bane of all philosophical existence. It’s the Holy Grail that everyone is searching for. The Post moderns deny its existence or its significance; the moderns reduced it to the fact of things existing. No knows what it is but everyone has an opinion about it and most think they knew it when they see it. Truth is also segmented. There’s big truth and little truth. No one minds much if one finds little truths but it’s the claim that one has the Big Truth that draws skepticism. It’s not so much that the approach here discussed has a means of proving big truth, as it is that the concept of big truth, unknowable thought it may be, is necessary and can’t be denied. Attempts at denying the possibility of big truth end in self contradiction. Most atheists, skeptics (materialists, physicalists, reductonisits) define that which is true as “the way things are.” That is to say truth is merely a recognition of things in existence, or the state of reality. They tend to assume that this can only be recognized empirically. On the other hand, this empirical recognition and assumption about truth also assumes a correspondence between the ability of the subject and the nature of reality. All positions on truth, whatever details they entail, must assume this correspondence norm unless they negate the possibility of being ever being right, even about truth not being possible. To say truth is not possible requires the ability to know the truth. 9

Because we are talking about recognition of truth the question is about the subject’s ability to understand truth or the correspondence between subjects understanding and what is. This is called correspondence norm. It doesn’t matter what the details are in the understanding, the concept of doubt and rejection, or being able to say “X is false” also assumes the possibility that some Y is true. Thus, the only way to get around the concept of truth has to be to just avoid the issue or fane the inability to communicate. This is the basic tactic of Postmodernism.

Duane Olson says:
It is important to note that the argument for a correspondence-norm, or norm of truth, is on a different level than arguments about the specific nature of the correspondence between subject and object. The correspondence itself may be conceived in terms of naïve realism, idealism, or a multitude of positions in between. Every theory about the nature of the correspondence, however, relies on the presupposition of a correspondence-norm that would make it possible to formulate, and affirm, deny, debate, or declare uncertain that theory. Put differently, the theory of the specific nature of the correspondence between subject and object is another field of knowledge that is subject to the ultimate criterion of knowledge, which is what is disclosed in the idea of a correspondence-norm.To claim that the capacity to apply a norm is indubitable is the same thing as saying the subject bears an indubitable awareness of truth. In other words, when one analyzes the major postures toward judgments and shows how a norm of truth is presupposed as something borne by the subject in every posture, one is pointing out an awareness of truth the subject has, though it is something the subject may overlook, especially in doubting or denying particular truths. Through the reductio argument, one focuses attention on the fact that the subject bears a norm of truth, thus raising it to conscious awareness. I speak more below about the character of this awareness, but for now I simply affirm something Tillich presupposes, which is the identity between the affirmation that the subject bears a norm of truth and the subject’s awareness of this norm.As Tillich shows, the awareness of the norm of truth is the awareness of something unconditioned that transcends the distinction between subject and object. It is, as he puts it, “the identity of subject and object,”[xviii] or that which “transcends subject and object,”or “something beyond subjectivity[xix] and objectivity.”[xx] It is a transcending unity in which both subject and object participate and which makes possible all concrete affirmation, denial, doubt, and uncertainty in the knowing process. It is being-itself appearing in the theoretical function as that which is beyond subjectivity and objectivity, but that in which they both participate, and which makes possible the judgments in that process.10
The concept of transcendent truth is a prori. That truth is linked with the unconditioned. This is an indubitable depth of being.

These two, eternity and truth, come together in the next chapter (traditional arguments) to form Olsen’s idea of a Tillich based ontological argument. In that sense they fit my concept of signifiers of depth. At the same time they form the basis of other arguments, so they are really deep structures. Eternity is not some made metaphysical pie in the sky. There has to be, in some sense, something we call “eternal.” It’s absurd to think that all being began out of the big bang and a finite point in time and that’s the first that anything ever was and when it all dies in heat death that will be the last that anything ever was. An atheist who takes refuge in such notions is surely in for cold comfort (excuse the pun). If such a scheme was the case then that brief space of temporal reality (15 Billion years) would still mark a distinction between the temporal and the eternal. Thus the eternal but be even if only in default as the backdrop to the temporal. As seen above the temporal is an indicator of depth of being, because evokes in us the dissonance between temporal and eternal. That dissonance triggers mystical consciousness. 

Truth is a very important category as Augustine equated it with God in the same way that Tillich equated being with God. There is no ultimate contradiction between the two views; being is that which is, and truth is that which is. Being is a fundamental aspect of truth. With the divine we speak of eternal truth. Its this eternal nature of truth that evokes the sense of the numinous. The eternal nature of truth is what evokes the sense because it’s a direct reference to the nature of God.

The organization I impose upon these categories is this:

(1) Deep structures
Metaphysics (reductionisms have competing metaphysics by collapsing the categories: transcendent truth comes under the category of metaphysics
(1) Meaning is an example of metaphysics
(2)Stereological drama
(3) Ethics and Morality

(2) Signifiers of depth

Signifiers of depth can be arguments. They are not arguments to prove the existence of God. Proving the existence is a dubious proposition in the first place because God is too foundational to reality to be an object of empirical research. God is not a thing alongside other things in reality, thus God can’t be given in sense data. This does not negate the reality of God anymore than saying that laws of physics are not things in reality negates the concept of physics. The arguments demonstrate the rational nature of belief by producing a warrant for belief. The warrant is a reason to believe, subjected to logical scrutiny like any other idea, and perhaps even empirical data. It’s not God that the data is empirical in relation to, but the reason for belief in God. The primary example but not the only one would be the religious experience studies that show such experiences convey transformative power. That in itself would be a reason to believe in the reality of the object of those experiences. Another example could be cosmological argument. Tillich has problems with that argument; I will discuss this in the very next chapter (arguments). Assume, however, that these objections can be overcome by understanding the cosmological order not as proof of God’s existence but as an indication of a rational warrant for belief, because it points to depth of being.

To see the importance of the question is to see the depth of being.

1Tillich, Shaking of the foundations 0p cit, (see chapter three) 52.

2 Ibid, 52-53
3 Ibid. 235
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 George Steiner, Martin Heidegger Originally ed. Fran Kermode, for Viking press 1978, New addition Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1987, online gooble books URL http://books.google.com/books?id=BXnOkU ... elf&f=true
Steiner talks about how the political and social situation of Post WWI Germany effected the sitation in philosophy of that era. The country was in collapse, people were starving, the ideal of Gemran high culture was in collapse, the idea of the nation and the culture wasting away to nothingness was evident. Earnst Bolck, Oswald Spangler and Karl Barth to name a few all produced major works at that time, and subsequently Heidegger using the concept “of nothing or becoming nothing, being pulled into nothing” as a philosophical construct.
7 Paul Tillich, ST1, 236.
8 Ibid.
9 Duane Olson, “Paul Tillich and The Ontological Argument.” Quodlibet Journal. Vol 6, no 3, (July 2004). On line URL: http://www.quodlibet.net/articles/olson-tillich.shtml visited last, 22/12/10.
10 Ibid. Olson’s fn xviii is Paul Tillich’s Theology of Culture, 14, xix is Tillich ST1 207, XX Tillich HCT 164.
tse Roman numerals are chapters in tillich Systematic V.I not footnotes.