Sunday, August 02, 2015

Transcendental Signifier Argument 4 of 5.

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Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa*


I. Metaphysics is about magic, supernatural are “made up stuff,”

That was disproved in the things said above. In Heidegger's version of metaphysics science.

II. we can't test or verify anything about metaphysics

Modal logic is a limit on any metaphysical construct. Other kinds of logic as well, also assist. We don't need empirical investigation to know that there are no square circles. We can rule them out with logic. so logic can tell us things. Obviously we are not going to build a rocket with just logic. We can use logic to screen metaphysical ideas.

III. That metaphysics is about magic and psychic powers.

Nope it's not, not at all. As I said in Heidegger's view science is metaphysics.

IV. That Christians have to support metaphysical thinking.

This is false. Especially if one is a Heideggerian Christian because in Heidegger's terms metaphysics is a bad thing. For Heidegger metaphysics is herding or grouping sense data into pre conceived categories. That's actually what reductionism is doing. Reductionism and naturalism are both metaphysics. He called metaphysical anv system that grouped sense data and distilled our understanding of being into preconceived categories and led us to ignore the true nature of being.

There are two major thinker's whose views of metaphysics I go by. One is Heidegger the other is Bruce Wiltshire.He is a professes emeritus at Ruttger's University. He wrote a book called Metaphysics: An Introduction to Philosophy .15 He defines metaphysics as talk about talk about the world. That's tricky because one might think it's just "talk about the world." It's not talking about the world, it's talking about how to talk about the world. so metaphysics for him is a methodological procedure. What both of these views have in common is that they are about how to organize knowledge about the world. For me that's my idea of metaphysics how to organize knowledge, organizing it in a way that it's all put into preconceived categories. So the same reasons that make me dislike reductionism also make me dislike metaphysics (or that version of it). For me as with Heidegger the alternative is phenomenology, which means allowing the sense data to suggest their own categories. When one says "Metaphysics is no good it's just making things up," or "there's no God" or "science is the only form of knowledge" one is doing metaphysics.

An example of metaphysics would be Tillich's ideas about the depth of being. Tillich's theological method, is a good example of metaphysical work that's almost scientific and offers more than just speculation. Depth of being is an example of metaphysics. 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:

"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.".16

This is not a literal one-to-one correspondence. When one concludes that being has depth one has not proved the existence of God in the sense that the ontological argument is supposed to do. This is not a priori truth. It is more than just a “rhetorical” statement. The statement is hermeneutical and ontological although not literal. 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 is 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. He Also uses it in terms of the “ground” in depth psychology.]All of these uses are embodied in his essay..17 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 because at that point its futile resist the natural pull of God through religious experience. 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 is to say the ground upon which all that is has come to be and in which it coheres and continues. In the last book 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.

In the previous book I discussed the hard problem of human consciousness.. 18 In the opening chapter I discussed philosophical questions at the epistemic level that science cannot answer. The fact that these questions cannot be answered by empirical research or observation is a good indication that there is a depth of being beyond the surface of things existing. This in and of itself proves that being has depth. The fact that we have these questions to ask, they mean something to most people, and we can answer them through science, which is to say, through empirical observation of the surface fact of existence or thing-hood, indicates that there is a depth there that can be probed through reason. I refur in large paet to religious experience, but also to arguents The point is that in understanding the depth of being one is forced to confront the realization of the reality of God. Since my overall point is to produce a theology of the realization toward a new apologetic, these “focal points,” are like stepping stones that lead us down the path to realization.

In his essay The Shaking of the Foundations, Tillich discusses depth of being. At this point, however, I will depart from Tillich’s organizational scheme but not from his basic thought and intent. There are what I like to call “deep structures” in reality that can be observed, or teased out. These deep structures can be organized into ideas that might serve to illustrate the point of depth of being, or might even serve the function of arguments either for the reality of God or for the rational nature of belief. This is what I call the “focal points,” or a term of my invention I also like, “signifiers of depth.” The signifiers of depth highlight the deep structures. These consist of Tillich’s ontological categories. These categories are empirically derived forms of speaking. Because they are ontological, considered with the nature of being, they are in everything, not limited to religion. We (humans in general) make our world out of the categories, which determines the content. That is to say the world of our constructs, the world in our minds that consists of what we understand and how we understand it (Lebenswelt—life world. The cause of the big bang is not part of this world because we don’t understand it or observe it. The attitudes we perceive in others may be mysterious or they may be understood wrongly or rightly but what we perceive about them is part of the world of our constructs because we perceive and it registers upon our understanding in some way. It is out of this amalgam of understood constructs that the categories are forged. This is all empirically deduced by . 19 The categories do not include the unconditioned (God) because it transcends our understanding. But we have ideas about God that are derived from experiences and teachings and these are part of the categories, but they are not the unconditioned, they are not the reality of God they are perception of God.

The categories are:

Being and non being,..20

The forms of finitude:

*time: central to finitude because it limits being

*space: to be special is to be limited by the possibility of non being

*causality: determinate of being enables symbol and logical interpretation

*substance: the nature or mode of being

When Tillich gets even more specific forms of finitude include at some point self and the world. Much was said about self and the world in chapter 3.. 21 Tillich teases out problems of insecurity relating to each category:

*temporal (finitude) = we die.

*spatial = limitation of space (another form of finitude) remind us that we are limited in duration and in reach.

*causality = remind us of being and non being

*substance = we limited to accidents of being;

Some of these categories produce anxiety at the prospect of non being (death). This is where Tillich plugs in the object of ultimate concern. The fact that we have an ultimate concern and that we can be bothered by the prospect of our finitude and cessation of being points to the deep structures of reality; it shows us that there’s more there than just the fact of existence, there’s the fact of cessation of existence and that it bothers us. Some may try to deny that they have an ultimate concern or that they care about death. Even if one doesn’t feel the ultimate concern it’s logically there, and all one need do is to read the literature of the world to know that for most of humanity death is the ultimate concern. Some might be inclined to say this is all just speculation and can’t be proved. Actually there is no reason to doubt any of this so far. We can deduce all of this; Tillich says it’s empirical, from the universally expressed observations and aspirations of humanity. These idea is, there is time, there is space, there is ultimate concern, time and space are forms of finitude and they remind us we are going to die, this is hardly arcane metaphysics or the ravings of a mad man. These are things most great writers throughout human history have said in one way or anther (from the book of Job to farewell to arms, or Sarte's Roads to Freedom Trilogy).. The relationship of duration to finitude is deductive and hardly brain surgery. From these categories, that are more or less universally understood, we derive equally basic epistemological questions. These basic epistemological questions are indicative of the meaning and nature of being; they are born out of the way our insecurities about our own being strike us. We are caused to reflect upon what we know and how we know it. The fact that we are caused to reflect upon such basic aspects is indicative of deep structures in being; since being is more than just a surface inventory of things that exist, but must be understood in relation to how we know what we know, there is reason enough to consider that being has depth. These questions may sound silly to the uninitiated in philosophy, but they have a serious

in being asked. This has already been presented in my previous work. Questions such as “why is there something rather than nothing?” “Why am I here?” “What is life about?” The very fact of these questions, are important, and that they are asked seriously and at times with great longing indicates to us the depth of being and our ultimate concern..

these numbers follow the chapter in book I'm writing,that's why this set starts with 15.

15 Bruce Wiltshire, Metaphysics: an Introduction. Indianapolis, Indiana:Bobbs-Merrill Co (June 1969), introduction.

16 Paul Tillich, Shaking of the foundations: Op cit,(2015) (chapter three) 52.

17 Tillich, IbId., 52-53.

18 my own unpublished source. You have not missed it, it's not published. This article is from a source in que. But read my blog enoufh and you will get the idea:

limits of science in the search for god, part 1.
part 2
Notes 19Paul Tillich. Systematic Theology, Vol.I.: University Of Chicago Press ( 1973), 197

20 Ibid., Tillich actually lays out these categories in systematic I., 197-200

21 Ibid.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Two pod caste interviews on my book from last summer

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You longing for me to come back and dispense the lo down on the universe? (I wish someone was). I have a couple of interviews I did on various pod casts. The first one has much better sound, it's easier to understand what I'm saying. I can't believe I sound like a southern friend chicken. If you want to hear how silly my voice sounds and get more on my book, tune into one or both of these.

they are both preceded by long talking by the interviewers about other matters, if you sit through that I think you will enjoy the interviews themselves.I think I'm more witty in the second one, but the first one is easier to listen to and might have more weight. No offense to either interviewer. I enjoyed talking to both of them. first is Chris Date, second is Nick Peters. These are both friends of J.P. Holding.

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Buy MY BOOK! photo frontcover-v3a_zps9ebf811c.jpg

Order from Amazon
Ground breaking research that boosts religious arguemnts for God to a much stronger level. It makes experience arguments some of the most formidable.Empirical scientific studies demonstrate belief in God is rational, good for you, not the result of emotional instability. Ready answer for anyone who claims that belief in God is psychologically bad for you. Order from Amazon

two interviews of me on pod cast

Postby Metacrock on Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:36 pm
talking about my book of course.
I'll get back to the TS argument this coming week
I can't believe I sound like that.

apparently this site moved:
these are interviews aobut my book the Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief, by Joseph Hinman avaible on Amazon.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Transcendental argument for part 3 of 5

The actual argument

1) The TS's function is mutually exclusive, no other principle can superceed that of the TS since it alone grounds all principles and bestows meaning through organization of concepts.

(2) We have no choice but to assume the reality of some form o Tsed since we cannot funjction coherently without a TS.

(3) therefore, we have no choice but to assume the reality of some form of Tsed since the universe does seem to fall into line with the meaning we bestow upon it.

(4) Thus it is logical to assume that there is a Tsed that creates and organizes the universe.

(5) The signifier “G-o-d” is one version of the TS. That is, God functions in the divine economy as the TS functions in the metaphysical economy.

(6) Since God is a version of the TS, and since the TS and the God concept share a unique function that is mutually exclusive, the logical conclusion is that God and Tsed share identity; God is the Tsed.

(7) since the Tsed must be assumed to be actual (real) and God shares identity with it, then God musy be actual.

The first premise ((1) The TS's function is mutually exclusive, no other principle can supersede that of the TS since it alone grounds all principles and bestows meaning through organization of concepts), is rooted directly in observation (1), coherent view of the universe requires OP, and observation (2) Ops are summed up in a single over arching principle. These two observations are grounded in the nature of contingency and organizing. If there is a top to metaphysical hierarchy, and this top is necessary to Ops (which in turn are necessary to the world) then it follows that the overarching principle is necessary and unique. Its function is necessary and that makes it unique. No Other OP could handle the job without being the top of the metaphysical hierarchy.

Premise 2 ((2) We have no choice but to assume the reality of some form of Tsed since we cannot function coherently without a TS), is grounded directly in observation (1). That we can't function coherently without a TS has not been demonstrated here so far. This will be demonstrated in latter chapters. At this point I will simply point out that it can be established empirically. First by showing that the OP is all pervasive and secondly by showing that attempts to eliminate OP's only result in replacing them with more ops (observations (1) and (3)). Out of this material premise ((3) therefore, we have no choice but to assume the reality of some form of Tsed since the universe does seem to fall into line with the meaning we bestow upon it) is a logical conclusion. Note that premise (4) is a logical extension of all the premises, especially (3) grounded in the first three observations. At this point in argument TS is justified but not the deduction that the TSed is God; that will come, in the next premise.

Premise (4) is the first link to God from Tsed. In other words we know the God concept is a form of the TS (transcendental signifier). That is the idea of God, apart from God's actual reality, is one kind of TS (represented by the word “G-o-d—the transcendental signifier). The actual thing to which the word refers (the Tsed—Transcendental signified) is only theoretical, but this premise draws the logical conclusion from what has already been said that the Tsed is God. This follows logically because the all pervasive nature of the concept and its necessary to the overall hierarchy implies creation. In other words to be so all pervasive and (ontologically) necessary the Tsed would have to be creator. At this point we have basically described a generic God concept that would fit the basic concept of many world religions. Thus the premise: (4) Thus it is logical to assume that there is a Tsed that creates and organizes the universe.

What I just said about the TS and Tsed, is enshrined in the next premise: (5) The signifier “G-o-d” is one version of the TS. That is, God functions in the divine economy as the TS functions in the metaphysical economy. The premise also adds something, derived from the observations but not yet discussed; the link from God to TS based upon synonymous job descriptions.

The sixth premise: ((6) Since God is a version of the TS, and since the TS and the God concept share a unique function that is mutually exclusive, the logical conclusion is that God and Tsed share identity; God is the Tsed). Share unique function that is mutually exclusive means any thing that does X is God. Only God can do X. both A and B do X. If the premise is true than A and B must be one and the same. Say that only Superman survived krypton. Actually in the comics they had so many survivors of Krypton one begins to feel like only his parents did not survive. Say Superman is the only survivor, and it could be proved that Clark Kent is from Krypton, then he must be superman.

They function shared by God and the TS is the place each holds in the divine economy and the metaphysical economy respectively. The reality of the TS is found in premises 1-4, and the shared job description in 5. One could make the objection that I did state that TS is not necessarily God. That's true but TS is theoretical. I just argued that the TS that fits the reality, the Tsed, is synonymous with God. In other words, the TS's that work are those that fit God because that's what it takes to be the top of the metapysical hierarchy.

(7) since the Tsed must be assumed to be actual (real) and God shares identity with it, then God must be actual.

What is Metaphysical Hierarchy?

[either answer objection here or make a chapter: asserting ideas of MH that make the argument work]

A major objection that one might be raised here is that a lot people have misconceptions about the term. Most of the time they seem to think it means some special way or argument for God, or that's synonymous with their screwed up understanding of "supernatural" (which is not the right definition of that term either but that's another story). standard misconception that Metaphysics is about "things beyond the physical" that's not true. AT least not necessarily. For example the question of free will is a metaphysical question and the will is a real thing it's not a concrete thing in the physical. The question about mental vs physical is a metaphysical question. Some might say that these concepts can't be proven, are just made up and that I making up a concept that helps my argument. Metaphysics however need not include any of these things. In fact we can rationally include science as metaphysical. The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy tells us in its article "Metaphysics:"

It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change.” It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way, and for two reasons. First, a philosopher who denied the existence of those things that had once been seen as constituting the subject-matter of metaphysics—first causes or unchanging things—would now be considered to be making thereby a metaphysical assertion. Secondly, there are many philosophical problems that are now considered to be metaphysical problems (or at least partly metaphysical problems) that are in no way related to first causes or unchanging things; the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical. 14

Conversely the idea that metaphysics is just making things up is also obviously false since the will and the mental and the physical are not made up.

van Inwagen, Peter and Sullivan, Meghan, "Metaphysics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . god

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Trancendental Signifier Argument (2 of 5)


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I got the cart before the horse. Let me sort out definitions before moving on.


(1) God

We tend to think of God as a big man with a beard, or some sort of powerful "person" like a human being, although one who can do amazing things. This is just the childish version, it is conditioned in our thinking by a pedestrian approach to religion.

There are religions that don't have a "God" per se, such as Buddhism. Essentially, there is no reason to think of God as a person, certainly not one with a corporeal body. That image, which is hinted at in the Bible, is merely metaphor. Depending upon the religious tradition, however, one can have very abstract views of God which have nothing to do with a father figure or a mother figure.

There is a more abstract way to think about God: that is Transcendental Signifier, the notion of a metaphysical first principle that organizes everything into a metaphysical hierarchy. This is the more sophisticated view of God, and most of the works of the great Christian philosophers hint at notions of God in these abstract terms.

Anselm defined God as "that which nothing greater than can be conceived." He ended all of his arguments by saying "this thing we call God," as a means of keeping the exact nature of God open-ended. This is because God is beyond our understanding, as the Bible says, but we can leave a "place marker" for the concept of God by understanding that the ultimate logical function of the God concept is that of the transcendental signifier. I tend to think about God in terms of Paul Tillich's ground of being. For the purposes of God argument I use a list of attributes to keep it simple, but all are implied in this statement:The eternal and necessary foundational aspect of all being which creates all things and chooses to do so is compatible with the definition of "God" found in any major world religion, and therefore, can be regarded as God.

Divine attributes

necessary (ontologically)
ground of being1 I say God is not a person, that doesn't mean God has no consciousness. Personhood is a cultural construct and requires a psychology and that means hang ups God has no hang ups and God consciousness is as far above ours as we are above a single cell organism.

(2) Transcendental signifier (TS)

A theoretical construct, the signification mark (word) that refuers to the top of the metaphysical hierarchy; the organizing principle that makes sense of all sense data and groups it into a meaningful and coherent whole, through which meaning can be understood. The thing to which the TS refers is the transcendental signified, (or Tsed). The concept of the TS is not limited to just God but includes ideas such as “the life foece” reason, or mathematics. Though it is theoretical the argument asserts that the TS is real as deduced by organizing principles.

(3) Signifier

The term used in semiotic, of written words, and in the linguistic theories known as “structuralism,” such as the work of Ferenand Sassure. A signifier is a mark (that is to say—writing) designating a concept forming a word, that which points to an object as the thing it is and no other. For example “t-r-e-e” is the written word pointi9ng to the hunk of biomass made of wood. The word is the signifier, and the thing it points to is the signified. Thus “G-o-d” is the signifier, the actual creator of the universe is the signified.

(4) Organizing principle (OP)

The immediate top of the metaphysical hierarchy that determine the rest of the operation or meaning of a system. Examples include the laws of physics determine the workings of the physical universe, laws of linguistics determine the nature of grammar. The problem come in distinguishing that from the TS. The difference is that organizing principles are more or less excepted as facts while the TS is theoretical. The TS is bigger than the organizing principle. Laws of physics are the OP TS might be mathematics since mathematics is more basic than and determine the laws of physics and everything else.

(5) Metapysics

[forth coming]

Preliminary observations:

(1) Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose an organizing principle which makes sense of the universe and explains hierarchies of conceptualization.

(2) Organizing principles are summed up in a single first principle which grounds any sort of metaphysical hierarchy, the transcendental signifier (TS).

(3) It is impossible to do without an organizing principle, all attempts to do so have ended in establishment of a new TS or organizing principle. Example: Derrida sought to overturn hierarchy and wound up establishing difference as the principle. We cannot organize without a principle of organizing.

(4) Ts functions uniquely as the top of the metaphysical hierarchy, its function is all pervasive and mutually exclusive.


(1) The TS's function is mutually exclusive, no other principle can superceed that of the TS since it alone grounds all principles and bestows meaning through organization of concepts.

(2) We have no choice but to assume the reality of some form of Tsed since we cannot funjction coherently without a TS.

(3) therefore, we have no choice but to assume the reality of some form of Tsed since the universe does seem to fall into line with the meaning we bestow upon it.

(4) Thus it is logical to assume that there is a Tsed that creates and organizes the universe.

(5) The signifier “G-o-d” is one version of the TS. That is, God functions in the divine economy as the TS functions in the metaphysical economy.

(6) Since God is a version of the TS, and since the TS and the God concept share a unique function that is mutually exclusive, the logical conclusion is that God and Tsed share identity; God is the Tsed.

(7) since the Tsed must be assumed to be actual (real) and God shares identity with it, then God must be actual.

The object is to show rational reason to believe not to prove that God actually exists. God is too big and too basic to reality, too far removed from our epistemic space to be obvious, except when made obvious by the divine itself. I once wrote a little analogy to illustrate the point. My basic assumption in writing this parable is that of Paul Tillich, that God is being itself.8

A fish scientist was hired by the high council of Tuna to find the strange substance humans believe in called “water.” The fish had never seen any water so they wanted to know what it is. The fish scientist was told that water collected in depressions in the ground, so he examined every hole and depression he could find but found no water. He eventually concluded that humans are deluded about water because he could find no examples of it. It never occurred to him it was the medium in which he lived, through which he gazed, and from which he took every breath. As a fish empiricist our scale clad investigator was certain that what he was looking for had to be an object that he could see, he forgot to look at the substance he was always looking through. So it is with being, we write it off as “just what is” and go on looking for this “God” who can’t be found because we don’t understand he’s nearer than our inmost being. Such is the pitfall of scientific empiricism.

The point of course is that God is too basic to our being, too much a part of the existence we share that we don't see any indications of presence. We take for granted the aspects of being that indicate God's reality. Some of the indications might be physical or cosmological, such as fine tuning or modal necessity. Others are experiential. The atheists pointed out that water is physical and can be detected. It's only an analogy and all analogies break down at some point. Analogies are not proofs anyway. I don't offer this as proof but as a clarification of a concept. In so clarifying we find a link to being; the connection between God and Being itself.

Heidegger approaches being in its ready-to-hand aspect. In other words like a carpenter using tools we find being as so inherently part of our experience, so ready-to-hand that we don't notice it. This is the point of the parable; we are too close to being, it's fundamental to what we are to realize that our place in it is to be contingencies based upon the reality of God. God is also "detectable" but of cousre, not in the sense that water is. Given certain assumptions we can understand the correlation between experience of presence and the nature of eternal necessary being. When we experience the reality of God through the presence of holiness we experince the nature of being as eternal and necesary. All we need to do is realize the necessary aspect of being to realize the reality of God. This is why Tillich says:

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."9

"Depth of being" and being itself are synonymous. Depth just means that there's more to being than appears on the surface. The surface is the most obvious aspect, that things exist. The existence of any given thing is the surface level. If we go deeper to probe the nature of being that entails the realization of the eternal necessary aspect of being and thus being has depth. Then we realize our own contingent nature and thus, we are at one and the same time realizing the reality of God (that is after all the basis of the cosmological argument and the ontological argument as well)

This is why God appears to be hidden. It's not that he's hidden. It's not that God is hiding himself. According to Hartshorne, "only God can be so universally important that no subject can ever wholly fail or ever have failed to be aware of him (in however dim or unreflective fashion)."10 Now the issue of why God doesn't hold a "press conference" has do do with the fact that God does not communicate by violating normal causal principles. In process terms, the "communication" of God must be understood as the prehension of God by human beings. A "prehension" is the response of an occasion to the entire past world (both the contiguous past and the remote past.) As God is in every occasion's past actual world, every occasion must "prehend" or take account of God.

It should be noted that "prehension" is a generic mode of perception that does not necessarily entail consciousness or sensory experience. There a two modes of pure perception --"perception in the mode of causal efficacy" and "perception in the mode of presentational immediacy." If God is present to us, then it is in the presensory perceptual mode of causal efficacy as opposed to the sensory and conscious perceptual mode of presentational immediacy.11 That is why God is "invisible", i.e. invisible to sense perception. The foundation for experience of God lies in the nonsesnory non conscious mode of prehension. So now, there is the further question: Why is there variability in our experience of God?. Or, why are some of us atheists, pantheists, theists, etc.? Every prehension has an initial datum derived from God, yet there are a multiplicity of ways in which this datum is prehended from diverse perspectives.

I agreed with Hume that sense perception tells us nothing about efficient causation (or final causation for that matter). Hume was actually presupposing causal efficacy in his attempt to deny it (i.e., in his relating sense impressions to awareness).12 Causation could be described as an element of experience, but as Whitehead explains, this experience is not sensory experience. From Hume's own analysis Whitehead derives at least two forms of non-sensory perception: the perception of our own body and the non-sensory perception of one's past. But this is at an unconscious level. However, in some people, this direct prehension of the "Holy" rises to the level of conscious experience. We generally call theses people "mystics". Now, the reason why a few people are conscious of God is not the result of God violating causal principle; some people are just able to conform to God's initial datum in greater degree than other people can. I don't think that God chooses to make himself consciously known to some and not to others. That would make God an elitist. Now, the question as to why I am a theist as opposed to an atheist does not have to do with me experiencing some exceptional religious or mystical experience. Rather, I believe that these extraordinary experiences of the great religious leaders are genuine and that they do conform to the ultimate nature of things. It's not necessarily a "blind leap" of faith, as my religious beliefs are accepted, in part, on the basis of whether or not they illuminate my experience of reality.

The experience of no one single witness is the "the final proof," but the fact that there are millions of witnesses who, in differing levels from the generally intuitive to the mystical, experience must the same thing in terms of general religious belief, the argument is simply that God interacts on a human heart level, and the experiences of those who witness such interaction is strong evidence for that conclusion. This does not, however, remove the usefulness of deductive argument. The argument could be made as an inductive argument based upon religious experiences, yet with greater uncertainty. While deductive veracity is assurance of the truth of a statement, that assumes the premises are true, that's hard to establish with no basis in the empirical. that's hard tov If one finds it hard to believe that deduction can prove God we don't need to argue that. It can establish a rational warrant. For example we can't prove by observation weather the moon was a fragment of Earth or a captured meteorite, Until we invent time travel we can't know empirically but we deduce deduce a theory that makes sense. We might never know with certainty but we can have an indication that makes sense. So with deductive argument and God belief. Deductive argument can give us rational warrant for belief. The difference in warrant and proof is the difference in really knowing how the moon came to be and reaching a rational conclusion based upon deductive reasoning. One might ask “where does warrant get us in terms of belief in God?” It doesn't prove but may clear away the clutter so that we can come to terms with God on an existential level.

The four preliminary observations

Then let us examine the logic of the deductive version of the argument. I begin with four observations: (1) Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose an organizing principle which makes sense of the universe and explains hierarchies of conceptualization.

(2) Organizing principles are summed up in a single first principle which grounds any sort of metaphysical hierarchy, the transcendental signifier (TS).

(3) It is impossible to do without an organizing principle, all attempts to do so have ended in establishment of a new TS or organizing principle. Example: Derrida sought to overturn hierarchy and wound up establishing difference as the principle. We cannot organize without a principle of organizing.

(4) TS functions uniquely as the top of the metaphysical hierarchy, its function is all pervasive and mutually exclusive.

This first observation has been challenged by atheists in online dialogue. One atheist who is a physicist argued that science recognizes no organizing principles. That is not true. They don't call them by that label but clearly they have them. They are called “laws of physics.” Or another version is evolution. As for number two, the TS is not accepted by all, its theoretical. Yet it can be seen that the all pervading nature of organizing principles, implies a single TS to organize the organizing principles. This going to be the major issue in debating the TS argument. If it cannot be established, there is no argument. Thus I will devote an entire chapter to answering the argument. It might also be said that this observation (indeed all four) assume the existence of the TS. No, they speak of the concept of the TS theoretically. This is like saying “if it does exist, here is how it will be.”

The third observation (it is impossible to do without an organizing principle or a TS) uses the two phrases TS and OP and this may lead one to ask “which is it?” Due to the factual nature of the OP there might be a lesser tendency to impose new ones. Yet there are examples. The example I give of Derrida trying to break down ethics leading to the establishment of a new OP for ethical paradigm, i.e., “differance”13 The goal of difference as the answer to hierarchy becomes the new principle around which the ethical paradigm is structured. An example of imposing a new OP in science would be the paradigm shift. An example of imposing a new TS is the atheist abolishing God talk from her vocabulary and putting science in its place. Or Marx with the same motivation makes ideology his version of God, or TS, the top of the metaphysical hierarchy.

The fourth observation (TS is the top of the metaphysical hierarchy) is rooted in the definition of the word. That is the concept of the term. It may be something of a tautology. It's also true and since there is new information the observation itself is not a tautology. That it is all pervasive and mutually exclusive is not necessarily part of the definition but it flows out of the nature of being the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. It is clear that for some examples of the TS it is exclusive, such as God, but not all are necessarily so. Math and reason could both be example and can both exist without mutual exclusion, Out of these four observations the argument itself is grounded.


8 Paul Tillich. The Shaking of the Foundations. Eugene Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012, 57. also ______________Systematic Theology, Vol.I.: University Of Chicago Press ( 1973), 197

9 Ibid., Shaking...

10 Charles Harthorne, The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God, New Haven: Yale University press, 1982, 70. >br>
11 Jon Mills. “Harthorne's Unjconscious Ontology,” oneline,URL: accessed,7/3/15. Jon Mills is mental health care professional with an interest in philosophy.

12 This is common knowledge of Hume's take on causality that we don't see causes at work. This is the pojnt of the billiard balls. t

Monday, July 06, 2015

The Trancendental Signifier Argument for God (1 of 5)

I am going to do several pages on my TS argument.
This argument is not to be confused with the “TAG” (transcendental argument for God) of Cornelius Van Til (1895-1987) and Greg Bahnsen.1 Though both arguments share in common use of the term “transcendental,” and it is basically used in the same way, they are different arguments. The difference being that TAG proceeds from presuppositional apologetics, while my argument is evidentually based. Both assume that God is at the basis of all knowledge and meaning. This is what is meant by “transcendental,” it refers to the basis of the system of thought. My argument uses the TS as an evidental basis for belief while the presupositional argument merely assumes the truth of the argument then rejects the presuppostions of other views. TAG says nothing about signifiers. To understand the insufficiency of TAG (thus they need for a new argument) we must examine TAG more closely. Van Til summarizes his argument:

Since the non-theist is so heartily convinced that univocal reasoning is the only possible kind of reasoning, we must ask him to reason univocally for us in order that we may see the consequences. In other words, we believe it to be in harmony with and a part of the process of reasoning analogically with a non-theist that we ask him to show us first what he can do. We may, to be sure, offer to him at once a positive statement of our position. But this he will at once reject as quite out of the question. So we may ask him to give us something better. The reason he gives for rejecting our position is, in the last analysis, that it involves self-contradiction. We see again as an illustration of this charge the rejection of the theistic conception that God is absolute and that he has nevertheless created this world for his glory. This, the non-theist says, is self-contradictory. And it no doubt is, from a non-theistic point of view. But the final question is not whether a statement appears to be contradictory. The final question is in which framework or on which view of reality—the Christian or the non-Christian—the law of contradiction can have application to any fact. The non-Christian rejects the Christian view out of hand as being contradictory. Then when he is asked to furnish a foundation for the law of contradiction, he can offer nothing but the idea of contingency. What we shall have to do then is to try to reduce our opponent's position to an absurdity. Nothing less will do. Without God, man is completely lost in every respect, epistemologically as well as morally and religiously. But exactly what do we mean by reducing our opponent's position to an absurdity? He thinks he has already reduced our position to an absurdity by the simple expedient just spoken of. But we must point out to him that upon a theistic basis our position is not reduced to an absurdity by indicating the "logical difficulties" involved in the conception of creation. Upon the theistic basis it must be contended that the human categories are but analogical of God's categories, so that it is to be expected that human thought will not be able to comprehend how God shall be absolute and at the same time create the universe for his glory. If taken on the same level of existence, it is no doubt a self-contradiction to say that a thing is full and at the same time is being filled. But it is exactly this point that is in question—whether God is to be thought of as on the same level with man. What the antitheist should have done is to show that even upon a theistic basis our conception of creation involves self-contradiction.

We must therefore give our opponents better treatment than they give us. We must point out to them that univocal reasoning itself leads to self-contradiction, not only from a theistic point of view, but from a non-theistic point of view as well. It is this that we ought to mean when we say that we must meet our enemy on their own ground. It is this that we ought to mean when we say that we reason from the impossibility of the contrary. The contrary is impossible only if it is self-contradictory when operating on the basis of its own assumptions. It is this too that we should mean when we say that we are arguing ad hominem. We do not really argue ad hominem unless we show that someone's position involves self-contradiction, and there is no self-contradiction unless one's reasoning is shown to be directly contradictory of or to lead to conclusions which are contradictory of one's own assumption.2

This might seem odd as a summary of an argument because it's more like what not to do. Notice that the only thing he offers in the way of proof is the failure of other approaches. Yet this same quotation was offered by Butler as the positive and major summary of the argument. 3Moreover, the arguments he makes about the failure of other views is not convincing. He says “Then when he is asked to furnish a foundation for the law of contradiction, he can offer nothing but the idea of contingency.” Yet he does not illustrate. I know several atheists who could furnish a basis for the law of non contradiction. For example I know many of them would quote “A is not non A, same place/time.” This point is rather self explanatory and self evident. The atheist can extend the argument and say their basis for law of contradiction is truth. Van Til gives us to understand that God is truth. As a Christian I agree, but the point is to give the atheist a reason to believe it, this he does not do. Why is contingency not a good basis for the law of contradiction? Contingency implies necessity, which turns on determinates and that means the contrary is contradiction. When he says: “The contrary is impossible only if it is self-contradictory when operating on the basis of its own assumptions,” he's only half right. The problem here is that a system
can't be self consistent and yet violate the law of contradiction in deductively self evident ways and still lay claim to truth. If not so then the atheist can just make the same kind of claims to privet truth and self consistency and slough all Van Til's talk about their own failings. While it is true that a system must be self consistent to be non- contradictory it must also occupy a beach head in reality and that means it must be recognizable to those not initiated into the mysteries. Otherwise it's just another cult.

This quality of recognizing universal consistency with reality we call “objectivity.” Bhansen dots Van Til's “i's” and crosses his “T's.” If Van Til was Joseph Smith, Bhansen would be Brigam Young, if I may be forgiven for that analogy. Bhansen sloughs off the concept by bait and switch; he exchanges it for “assumed neutrality,” which he castigates as inconsistency. Rather than offering proof of the veracity of his own ideas he establishes it by contrast with other views which he merely asserts are wrong. In Pushing the Antithesis he entitles the first chapter “the myth of neutrality.4 What unbelievers really demand is logical objectivity. Bhansen turns this into a demand that one be neutral toward all belief. He does not this is their true demand, although he tries to, neither do I believe it is their demand. “Should you be neutral regarding your Christian commitment while arguing for the existence of God to an unbeliever?”5 His argument is that Christians often take this tact. That doesn't prove that it is a real atheist demand. Of course I'm there are those who say it, but we should set our sights higher than a message board. In making the bait and switch his logic has become convoluted. Not only does he confuse neutrality of belief with objectivity but he confuses the culturally bound approach of the ancient world with some kind of divine logic. “Christians must be committed to biblically warranted procedures for defending the faith.”6 Apparently the Bible doesn't warrant explaining things.

Bhansen gives a few examples of the neutrality demanded but they his thinking than about the atheists: David Hume: “nothing can be more unphilosophical than to be positive or dogmatic on any subject.” William Hazlitt: “the great difficulty in philosophy is to come to every question with a mind fresh and un shackled by former theories.” C.C. Colton: “doubt is the vestibule which all must pass before they can enter into the temple of wisdom.” William H. Seward: the circumstances of the world are so variable that an irrevocable purpose or opinion is almost synonymous with a foolish one.”7

Each of these statements is problematic. I have encountered many atheists in my battles over belief, who are skeptical of belief and who don't seem to be aware that their beliefs are beliefs. Still none of these statements say that one must not have beliefs. They all seem to suggest that one should not be closed minded, but that is not the same as no belief. Hume refers to being dogmatic. Hazlitt uses the term “theory” not belief. Is he including deep convictions or is he only speaking of theoretical ideas? Colton doesn't say one must always doubt. His metaphor implies that doubt is a stage one passes through. No doubt all of these thinkers held religion as a disaprobation. What does that matter? We have dueling fundamentalists. Atheist dogmatism does not free us from the need to prove anyway. We need a better argument, the TS fills the bill . The presuppers look to the Bible as an apologetics handbook, it clearly is not. God is too wise to pin us to a method that was obsolete with the fall of the Roman empire. Christian witness must of necessity be rooted in time and culture. There is no Biblical method for conviencing unbelievers. The early church did not intelectualize their faith. They witnessed about what God had done in their lives. I see no reason why we should not do both. The argument I make here is not an attempt to prove the existence of God, but to offer rational warrant for belief.

1 Michael R. Butler.“The Tanscendental Argument for God's Existence,” online resourse, URL:, viewed 7/3/15.
Mike is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Faculty at Christ College, Lynchburg, Virginia. 2 CorneliGreg L. Bhansen. Pushing the Antithesis, Powder Springs, Georgia: American Vision Inc. 2007), Van Til. A Survey of Christian Epistemology, Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed, (1969), 204-5
3 Butler, ibid.
4 Greg L. Bhansen. Pushing the Antithesis, Powder Springs, Georgia: American Vision Inc. 2007), 5.
5 Ibid.,6-7
6 Ibid.
7 Ibid.,7

Monday, June 29, 2015

Can Being itself be the Christain God?

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Magritte wrote:
Joe, your God is not simply necessary being - your God is an amalgam of attributes and qualities, over and above necessary being.
For example, you insist that your God is, following Tillich, "not less than personal". But this quality of being not less than personal does not follow from just necessary being. There is nothing about necessary being that requires us to consider it as something more than completely impersonal. And the same follows for all the other attributes of God - that God is loving, and caring, and is capable of having a relationship with man - that God intercedes in history in various ways, that God is just and merciful and so on..

.Meta: you are confused about the implications of necessity. in the sense in whi9ch I use it it means not contingent, it is not a limit on the nature of God.

through his energies (E Orthodox concept) God is immaent and can do contingent things. for example, God did not have to create the world. sure the divine would have a consciousness but he can manifest i9t to us in such a way that we feel we are communicating, whereas if we saw Gods consciousness truly we would not have a clue about it.

there are thinkers and scientists such as Gaswamy who see the basis of reality as mind. there is a connection between love and being. Balthasar says love = being.

that's enough to establish any attribute I see in God

Magritte: Now you may of course say that necessary being is an essential property of God, and I'd agree, given my understanding of your conception of God. But while necessary being may be necessary to your conception of God, it is not sufficient to establish your God, unless you can specify how all the other myriad attributes, qualities and facets of your God follow from necessary being

(1) certainly is. the TS argument and the modal are based upon the concept.

(2) that's a different matter it does not support your original thesis. you said my God is made up of contingencies, now this says can't prove God. two different ideas.

I've written more than enough on this blog to see the folly in this argument.

God as being itself part I

part II

Tillich has been so criticized as "liberal," and clearly he did not believe in theism. Yet there is a very conservative Catholic thinker, friend of JPII, who pushed the being itself i9dea and there is no way Von Balthasar can be said to be non-theist. read my article
Hans Urs Von Balthasar and Being itselfly

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Answering Austin Cline's Arguments against Religious Experience as God Argument

pray_stgw photo religion2.jpg



  This article is a followup to Cline's argument against religious experience as a God argument. He attacks the concept of mystical experience: "Argument from Mysticism: Can Mystics and Mystical Experiences Prove God's Existence?"By

Cline Begins by establishing the idea of a professional mystic.

An important form of the Argument from Religious Experience focuses on the issue of mysticism - it might be called the Argument from Professional Religious Experience. What is claimed is that, throughout time, in various cultures and places, there have existed particular individuals who have somehow had direct, personal experiences with God.
Like the general Argument from Religious Experiences, it is claimed that these experiences should be given the same credence as other experiential claims and should not be rejected out of hand. But unlike the general argument, it is observed that mystics spend a lot of time working on understanding and reaching God - they are professionals, in a sense, and their observations and conclusions should be treated like those of other professionals.[1]

 This is one of the reasons why I think he's been reading my arguments. I don't know of any other argument where it could be said that mystical experience should be given the same credence as ordinary perception, except in a misquote of my Thomas Reid argument. That would be a misunderstanding I don't know of any other arguments that makes such a misunderstanding possible. No one says mystics are professionals. The argument is made that all people have a level of mystical experience, but in various degrees and some very slight. I discuss this in the Trace of God. I carefully distinguish between the kind of navigation enabled and point out that I'm not talking about the kind of five senses perception we have of the world walking down the street, but our emotional ability to cope with the vicissitudes of life. [2]

Cline begins his attack with the false assertion that religoius experiences are all different and incompatible: "How should we respond to this argument? The first thing to note is that, as with general religious experiences reported by others, there is a tremendous amount of variety in the reports by religious mystics over the millennia. Not only are the reports from different religions mutually incompatible, but not even all the reports in a single religious tradition are compatible." That is repeated endlessly but no proof is ever given. In my book the Trace of God I show that Ralph Hood's work with the M scale dispells this myth. The differences are in the names of deity and in the explainations of meaning assigned the experiences. The experiences themselves, when these differences are adjusted for, are remarkably the same.[3] The point is made much better by the man who did the original research, Ralph Hood Jr.[4]

Cline makes the standard assumption that most atheists make, "If they can't all be true, how do we differentiate the incorrect reports from the correct reports?" There are numerous ways with which this has been dealt in modern theology. One of them is Paul Knitter's approach,, which is to say we don't need to differentiate, we know up front that religious experience is relative to truth. It's not false, it's not all true, but it's relative.[5] My own approach is similar. we have an aversion to relativism so I would just say one reality stands behind all the traditions. The differences are the result of cultural constructs, which must be used to filter the experiences since all we have to community through is culture. It's the cultural aspects that make religions different, not the thing behind belief.

Cline then presumes to uncover the origin of religious experiences. He is willing to take the mystic's word for it far enough to use that against them, and he draws conclusions form their own words, assuming their methods are similar even though he argues that their experiences are not. What is the explanation? "The usual recipe for these experiences is some sort of deprivation - going without food, water, and often sleep, sitting in the heat of a desert or sweat lodge, isolation from human contact, the repetition of chants or prayer, and even the use of drugs." Several studies contradict this view, the Council of Spiritual Practices states, in speaking of Greely's study, "Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being."[6]

Mystics in the old days tended to belong to ascetic movements and lived in monastic settings in which deprivation was a way of life. That is argument from sign, just becuase some people in these settings have mystical experience does not mean that is the standard cause of mystical experience. Modern studies show this tends not to be the case. Gackenback summarizing several studies shows that  mystical experience can't be compared to mental illness or pathology.

Scientific interest in the mystical experience was broadened with the research on psychoactive drugs. The popular belief was that such drugs mimicked either mystical states and/or schizophrenic ones (reviewed in Lukoff, Zanger & Lu, 1990). Although there is likely some physiological similarity as well as phenomenological recent work has shown clear differences. For instance, Oxman, Rosenberg, Schnurr, Tucker and Gala (1988) analyzed 66 autobiographical accounts of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug experiences, and mystical ecstasy as well as 28 control accounts of important personal experiences. They concluded that the: "subjective experiences of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug-induced states, and mystical ecstasy are more different from one another than alike" (p. 401).

(Ibid) "Relatedly, Caird (1987) found no relationship between reported mystical experience and neuroticism, psychoticism and lying while Spanos and Moretti (1988) found no relationship between a measure of mystical experience and psychopathology.[7]
Cline asserts the validity of claims such as those made by Michael Presinger who claims to have produced genuine mystical experience by stimulating brain cells.

Dr. Michael Persinger in Canada can produce mystical visions in people with a mechanical device and what people see is heavily influenced even just by the sort of things he has in his office. When he plays music with an Eastern theme, people tend to have Buddhist-type visions. When he hangs crucifixes in the room and plays Christian chants, people have Christian-type visions.
Such claims are exploded by Philosopher John Hick who points out that such researchers use no control to establish the basis of a mystical experience. Thus they are just assuming that anything to do with God is a  real mystical experience. I draw upon the research of Hick and discuss this more fully in chapter six (6) of the Trace of God. [8] Cline asserts that "because there are possible physical and natural explanations for these mystical experiences, and because they can actually be produced at will in very natural ways, it becomes incumbent upon the supporter of mysticism to help us differentiate between the naturally induced experiences and those which allegedly have a supernatural origin." It is possible that the chain of causation stops with the brain chemistry, but it's not likely. That's what the tie breakers are for in chapter seven (7). They show why it's not reasonable to just assume that brain chemistry is the final cause of the experience. It could just as easily be part of God's delivery system that  created into humanity so we can find the Trace of his presence. The tie bakers show why it's more reasonable to think that this is the case. One hint, why is teh experience always positive? How did nature arrange to have a life transforming accident that has no long term debilitating draw backs?

Part 2 of Cline's argument

One curious issue with the claim that mystics' experiences of God provide good reasons to believe that God really exists is the question of just how a person can claim to recognize God. What arguments or evidence, without resorting to question begging, can a person use to claim that whatever they experienced is necessarily that of the god they believe in?
Perceptual recognition is something which can merit skepticism even in mundane matters we encounter in everyday life. Consider how easy it can be to make an error in recognition when it comes to the voices or faces or writing styles of people we know very well - but how would we "know" the voice or face or speaking style of "god"?
Michael Martin offers the example of someone claiming to have spoken on the phone with a person who seemed to be the strongest man of County Cork. How on earth could such an identification be made merely on the basis of a voice? Perhaps if the person was an expert on Irish accents at least a small part of the claim could be justified - but only a very small part.
These same problems occur with the claims made that someone has spoken with God or even just "experienced" God. This claim cannot be taken at face value: we need to know what part of this experience justifies the conclusion that it involved "God" - with all of the qualities and attributes alleged for this god, like omniscience, omnipotence, omnibenevolence, etc. - and not an experience of something else, even if it is another supernatural being.
 This could be a good argued if used by someone who understands the concept of mystical experience. In making the argument Cline demonstrates his ignorance. Again he's thinking of it like metting a person, he's reducing God to the level of a thing in creation.  First of as said before, mystical experience is a step up to a higher level of consciousness, it is not like meeting a stranger at a bus stop. It's the big light bulb where you suddenly understand what it's all about. It is beyound words, thoughts or images. It's not "someone has spoken with God;" it's not like speaking with another person. It's like suddenly understanding the meaning of everything.

Here is an example of a mystical experience described by a blogger (Wordgazer) in her review of my book. It's much like an experince described in the book:

I was standing in our tiny back yard behind the kitchen door, under a sky filled with stars. I think it was about 10 or 11 pm.  I was alone. For some reason more stars were showing than usual; maybe some of the street lights were out.  It was very quiet.
I looked up into the stars and thought of God.
And then. . .  
Something indescribable fell away from my ordinary sense of things.  Perhaps it was the careful, reasoned categories I was accustomed to use to frame my thoughts.  I had a sensation of being lifted up and up, though I also knew I was still standing solidly in the night-sweet grass.  Over the horizon the moon swept up; it was a gibbous moon, about two-thirds full.  And I saw. 
Saw that all things were part of a serene and purposeful whole.  Saw that I myself was a valued and necessary part of that whole, as were the trees, the grass, the stars, the moon, and the minuscule flying creatures that brushed my face.  Felt a tender, loving purpose guiding it all towards some unknowable but beautiful end.    
"All is well. All is one.  I am here."
It wasn't a message spoken in words, but an indescribable knowing that was frankly impossible to doubt or question.  I didn't question it.  I breathed quickly, flutteringly-- completely astonished yet completely at ease, completely accepted and accepting. 
Slowly, slowly the feeling faded, drained away.  I was left there in the dark grass again, myself again, and I turned and drifted back through the door and into bed and sleep.
But I have never forgotten, and I have never been the same.  The memory of joy-- joy present in part now and expectant of fullness in time to come, has ever since held in peace the foundations of my soul. [9]

The answer to the overall issue is "we know it's an experience of God because it does what belief in God claims to do., it's like transforming."  Why is that of God? Because that's what religion promises to do in the first place. The reason we have religion at all is because there is a sense of the numinous that gives us a notion of the holy. The historical association between these two ideas, the sense of the holy (which is part of the real experience is the thing experienced) and God, this is the relationship of co-determinant. I discuss this in length for most of chapter two (2) in the book.

A traditional question based upon this dilemma is, "Are you so sure that you can't be fooled and it wasn't Satan who spoke to you?" You don't have to be a believer in God or Satan to recognize the importance of such a question. The point is, no one has offered a sound basis for differentiating between an experience of "god" and of something else entirely.

 I find this argument totally disingenuous. An athiest talking head activley seeking to destoryt he faith of others, totally unfarid to align himself with not only unbleif but mocking and riducule of belief itself, yet he expects someone to seriously disregard life transfomration when it's proved by peer reviewed studies, just becuase he can ask a fearling question that we know he doesn't take seriously himself. There is no way to go back in time and prove that prehistoric man had mystical experience, but we do have reasons to assume they did. Anthropologists dont' just wander about the world thunderstruck and refusing to speculate for fear of getting it wrong. Many anthropological theories that give a reasonable probability to the association bewteen the sense of he numinous and religious bleief and the creation of religion. It's possible these associations go back to the stone age, the at least go back to the early days of human writing. I discuss all of this at length and make the argument fully in chapter two (2). I show there are native rituals that indicate the ancient hunter gatherer people did have such experiences.[10]

The Trace of God provides the chruch with a valuable resource that puts real teeth in argument form experience.

[1] Austin Cline. "Argument from Mysticism:Can Mystics and Mystical Experiences Prove God's Existence?" Online material, no date indicated.
Accessed 7/3/14.

 [2] Joseph Hinman, the Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct Publishing, 99.

 [3] Ralph Hood Jr. “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion.  Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235.

[5]Paul Knitter, No Other Name? A Critical Survey of Christian Attitudes Towards the World Religions. London: SCM Press, 1985.see introduction.

[6] Council on Spiritual Practices, "States of Unitive Consciousness." website,
accessed 7/3/14.
CSP statement about their own nature and mission:
The Council on Spiritual Practices is a collaboration among spiritual guides, experts in the behavioral and biomedical sciences, and scholars of religion, dedicated to making direct experience of the sacred more available to more people. There is evidence that such encounters can have profound benefits for those who experience them, for their neighbors, and for the world.
CSP has a twofold mission: to identify and develop approaches to primary religious experience that can be used safely and effectively, and to help individuals and spiritual communities bring the insights, grace, and joy that arise from direct perception of the divine into their daily lives.
[7] Jayne Gackenback. Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration (this paper was published on her own website, spirit watch, 1992)
accessed 7/2/14

[8] John Hick quoted by Hinman in The Trace of God...op cit, 363-264.

[9] Wordgazer, "Book Recomendation: The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman," Wordgazer's Words blog,May 31, 2014.
accessed 8/7/14

[10] Hinman, The Trace...op cit., 67-81.