Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Concept of the Supernatural

The problem in all these discussions about the supernatural is that we are dealing with a degraded concept. The notion of "Supernatural" is a misgnomer to begin with, because modern people construe the idea as another place, an actual location that you can go to. It's the unseen invisible world that is filled with ghosnts and magic and so forth. It's in the realm where God can heaven are, we supposse. But what they dont' realize is that this is the watered down, dilapidated concept. It's not even understood well by Christians because it was destroyed in the reformation.

The term "supernatural" comes from the term "supernauturalator" or "Supernature." Dyonisus the Areogopite (around 500ad) began talking of God as the supernaturalator, meaning that God's higher nature was the telos toward which our "lower" natures were drawn. St.Augustine has spoken of Divine nature as "Supernature" or the higher form of nature, but that is speaking of nature in you, like human nature and divine nature.

In the begining the issue was not a place, "the realm of the supernatural" but the issue was the nature inside a man. Human nature, vs. divine nature. The Sueprnatural was divine nature that drew the human up to to itself and vivified it with the power (dunimos) to live a holy life. This is the sort of thing Paul was talking about when he said "when I am weak I am strong." Or "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." The weak human nature which can't resist sin is transformed by the power of the Godly nature, through the spirit and becames strong enought to reisist sin, to be self sacraficing, to die for others ect ect.

This was the "supernatural" prior to the reoformation. It was tied in wiht the sacraments and the mass. That's partly why the Protestants would rebell agianst it. Austine (late 300s early 400s) spoke of Chrstians not hating rocks and trees, in answer to the assertion that Christians didn't like nauture. But the extention of the natural world as "nature" didn't come unitl latter. The idea of "the natural" was at first bsed upon the idea of human nature, of biological life, life form life, that's what the Latin natura is about.

Prior to the reformation Christian theologians did not see the supernatural as a seperate reality, an invisible realm, or a place where God dwells that we can't see. After the rformation reality was biphercated. Now there came to be two realms, and they juxtoppossed to each other. The realm of Supernature, is correllated to that of Grace, and is holy and sacred, but the early realm is "natural" and bad it's myered in sin and naural urges.

But all of that represents a degraded form of thinking after goign throught he mill of the Protestant Catholic split. The basic split is charactorized by riationalism vs feideism. The Catholics are rationalists, because they believe God is motivated by divine puropose and wisdom, the Protestants were fiedeists, meaning that faith alone apart form reason because God is motived by will and sheer acceptation, the desire to prove soverignty above all else.

The rationalistic view offered a single harmony, a harmonous reality, governed by God's reasoned nature and orchastrated in a multiferious ways. This single reality continaed a two sided nature, or a mutli-facets, but it was one harmonious reality in wich human nature was regeuvinated thorugh divine nature. But the Protestant view left Christian theology with two waring reality, that which is removed from our empirical knowledge and that in which we live.

The true Christian view of the Sueprnatural doesn't see the two realms as juxtoppossed but as one reality in which the natural moves toward its' ground and end in divien nature. It is this tendency to move toward the ground and end, that produces miracles. A miracle is merely nature bending toward the higher aspect of Supernature.

but with the Protestant divinsion between divine sogerignty, acceptation and will motivating the universe, we mistake univocity and equivocity for nature and supernature. We think nature and supernature are not alike they are at war, so difference marks the relationship of the two. But to make the Suepernatural more avaible they stress some aspect of nature and put it over against the rest of nature and pretend that makes it sueprnatuarl, this is univocity, it's the same. So will and acceptation, soverigty, God has to prove that he is in charge, these are all aspects of univocity.

It's the natural extension of this biphercation that sets up two realms and sees nature as "everything that exits." or "all of mateiral reality" that sets up the atheist idea that supernatural is unnecessary and doesn't exist.

The medieval Christian doctrine of the supernatural has long been misconstrued as a dualistic denigration of nature, opposed to scientific thinking. The concept of supernature, however, is not a dualism in the sense of dinigrading nature or of pitting against each other the "alien" relams of spirit and matter. The Christian ontology of the supernatural bound together the realm of nature and the realm of Grace, immanent and transcendent, in a unity of creative wisdom and purpose, which gave theological significance to the natural world. While the doctrine of supernature was at times understood in a dualistic fashion, ultimately, the unity it offered played a positive role in the development of scientific thinking, because it made nature meaningful to the medieval mind. Its dissolution came, not because supernatural thinking opposed scientific thinking, but because culture came to value nature in a different manner, and the old valuation no longer served the purpose of scientific thinking. An understanding of the notion of supernature is essential to an understanding of the attitudes in Western culture toward nature, and to an understanding of the cultural transition to science as an epistemic authority.

The ontology of supernature assumes that the natural participates in the supernatural in an ordered relation of means and immediate ends, with reference to their ultimate ends. The supernatural is the ground and end of the natural; the realm of nature and the realm of Grace are bound up in a harmonious relation. The Ptolemaic system explained the physical lay-out of the universe, supernature explained its theological relation to God. The great chain of being separated the ranking of creatures in relation to creator. The supernatural ontology is, therefore, sperate from but related to cosmologies. This ontology stands behind most forms of pre-reformation theology, and it implies an exaltation of nature, rather than denigration. This talk of two realms seems to imply a dualism, yet, it is not a metaphysical dualism, not a dualism of opposition, but as Fairweather points out, "the essential structure of the Christian faith has a real two-sidedness about it, which may at first lead the unwary into dualism, and then to resolve ... an exclusive emphasis on one or the other severed elements of a complete Christianity...such a dissolution is inevitable once we lose our awareness of that ordered relation of the human and the divine, the immanent and the transcendent, which the Gospel assumes." Yet, it is this "two-sidedness" which leads unwary historians of into dualism.

In his famous 1967 article, "The Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Lynn White argued that the Christian belief of the Imago Dei created "a dualism of man and nature;" "man shares in God's transcendence of nature." This notion replaced pagan animism, it removed the "sacred" from the natural world, and with it, inhibitions against exploiting nature. Moreover, by the 12th century, nature became a source of revelation through natural theology. In the Latin West, where action prevailed over contemplation, natural theology ceased to be the decoding of natural symbols of the divine and became instead an attempt to understand God through decerning the operation of creation. Western technology flourished, surpassing even that of Islamic culture (although they still led in theoretical pursuits). Thus, White argues, medieval theology did allow science to grow, but at the ultimate expense of the environment.

The insights of feminist scholarship, however, suggest an even more subtle argument for the denigration of nature. Feminist theologian, Rosemary Radford Ruther, argued that there is an identification between the female and nature, the male and transcendence. Women have been disvalued historically through the association between female sexuality and the "baseness" of nature. Londa Schiebinger, calls attention to the fact that the Judeo-Christian cosmology placed women in a subordinate position. Gender was more fundamental than biological sex, and it was a cosmological principle, "...Men and women were carefully placed in the great chain of being--their positions were defined relative to plants, animals, and God." The subordination of women was predicated upon their position in nature. "Male" and "Female represented dualistic cosmological principles penetrating all of nature, principles of which sexual organs were only one aspect. One might suspect that the place of women on the great chain of being is indicative of the true status of nature itself in Christian ontology; an overt denigration of women indicates a covert denigration of nature.

read the following paper i wrote for Grade school on Science and the Sueprnatural. Only 12 pages.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Hello in the Faroe Islands!

I've been tracking my readerhip and I have some readers from some very interesting places. Here's the total for this period. I'm sure what period is covered but here they are:

70 United States
20 United Kingdom
2 Australia
1 Thailand
1 Faroe Islands
1 France
1 Switzerland

I would like to hear from all who aren't in the USA, and even some who are. I'm especially curious about the one from Thailand, Austrailia and the Faroe islands. Until right now when I did a browser search, I had no idea where the Faroe Islands were nor had I heard of them. I love Frace, hope to live in Nice some day. I took as Frency as doctroal language. I probably know the Aussie whose reading the blog, but how did Thilander and a Faroe Islander find my blog? Come to that I wonder how many people in the Faroe's have copmuters.

Let me hear from you guys and/or gals. It would be interesting.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Big Picture on Biblical Morality

Atheists are always getting us to lose slight of the big pictue. They put so many little knit picking aruments like "in Passage X God cammands themt o kill so and so,and so and so didn't do anything that wrong."

They will present a massive profussion of such passages, most of which (thinking of the OT now) are based upon the fact that people over 2000 years ago looked at things very differently and had different standards of what constituted morality, truth, compassion and brutatlity. So natuarlly a great deal ancient world morality will seem very brutal to us.

But the atheists always distract us form the big picture. Everytime I try to demonstate one or two major princples that oversweep the whole field and tie up all the problems into one neat little point that can esaisly resolved, they just go "Yea? well abotu here, where x got stoned for blowing his nose?" "what about about where God tells them to wipe out the Pedestriakites and kill even the bateria on their dinner plates?!! that's bad, God is BAD BAD BAD!!!"

But never will they just face the central point and take it like real thinkers. They want this massive profussion of problematic verses to stand in the way of rally understanding or thinging about Biblical moralty; and often much what passes for their problematic verses is misunderstood.

DD prestens a lit of what's wrong with Jesus' morality, here's what he does:

(a) doubles up on synoptic passages so he can present them like four different enstances, instant multiplicty of examles. Now Jesus dint' say "pluck out your eye" once, but four times! four times as bad!

(b) mostly misunderstood because no attempt is made to watch for figurative language so he sees "i come to bring not peace but a sword" as a litteral statment that Jesus likes war! I can't even begin to comment.

But in this thread I want to ask each and everyone of you speicail, pease do not quote an massive profussion of texts in a vien attempt to show "how bad the bible is." Let's stick to the two central poinkts that I want to get at.Please?

Point 1: OT morality is progressive.

that's right. It doesn't seem so because it is brutal and unfair in many places. But:

(a) still better than sourrounding committies that had infant sacrafice and no ruels for freeing of slaves in jubalee year, no prohabitions agaisnt raping slave women, or civil recompense for rape or anything of the kind.

(b) Points to advancements in moral thinking over and above what the others had in terms of; written code, basic rights for slaves, expectation of humane treatment, laws to help the poor, ect.

The point; God told Israel they would be a light to the gentiels, they were. Their example led to better morality on a progressive scale; but it took time of course. Yet the standards did change.

Now of course atheists will argue that this is not indicative of a divine plan. On the other hand it meshes perfectly with my view of inspritation. It's not a memo from God but a collection of writtings that are inspired by divine/human encoutner.

Moreover, remeber the principle of shadow to substance!

the Moseic law was impossed to show how bad bad could be. It was a measuring stick to demonstrate and clearly define sin. It was not the solution to sin. So it shows how hard it is to live perfectly and how difficutl it is to keep a benchmark of righteousness, it's suppossed to be hard and unreasonable; because trying to live a holy life under our own effecists is hard and unreasonable.

But in the NT we find God entering history as a man, and we have a direct example of what to do, just follow Jesus' charater. which leads to point 2.

Point 2: Jesus anticipated the Categorical imprative.

that gives us a logical modern framework in which to play out Christian morality in a deontolgoical fashion.

The imprative of Kant anticipated (and tha's where Kant got it) in the golden rules do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The "as you would hagve them do unto you" cluase is what makes it clever, because it is both objective and flexible at the same time.

These two points explain the basis of Biblcial morlaity and they make up for all the little picky verses where God appears to be a rotter, because they explain why the context of OT morality is so culturally bound, and demarkate a sense in which OT morality is progressive. It also explians NT as modern, advanced, loigcal and Kantian.


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Up Against The Wall Red Neck School Administrators

I posted this on CADRE by mistake, but I hope they like it. But I want it here too.

People who run the educational system in America, UK, and probably all major English speaking countries (excluding New Zealand) out to be shot. They should just be put up against the wall and shot. I don't mean the teachers (not my sister)! but those who run the wretched excuse for an educational system (of cousre I don't really mean that, I'm JUST JOKNIG!). When I used to substitute "teach" (baby sit) I would sit at lunch in the teacher's lounge and every single conversation I had with teachers was about the failure of the system, and every single teacher admitted it is a dismal failure and that they don't do any real teaching.

In considering the ignorance of atheists I encounter on the net, I have long believed that their true ignorance is a failure of the educational system in America. Most of them just don't know the intellectual background of western culture, or the extent to which our culture is predicated upon Christian concepts. I think those of us who are historically aware have even forgotten a great deal of this. Almost every idea we have in modernity come to us as a left over form Christian doctrine.

The rise of the Christian religion obliterated a great deal of the pagan influence of Greco-Roman world. There are many surviving folkways in Greece, there are a lot of texts and various ideas that come to us from Greece, mostly via the church. For the most part there is no real remembrance of what the ancient world was or what their thinking was pre-Christianity.

By the same token, moderns have done a similar number on Christianity. The contemporary student is so cut off from the historical facts of the culture that we are constantly finding them on message boards lost, confused, wondering without a clue, and the only direction they have grasped and cling to with white knuckles is their ever deepening hatred of Christianity.

some of this ignorance is so shocking I can't believe it. Tonight on CARM one of the designs of the apologetics board argued that Trinitiarn doctrinal terminology "rapes the English language." This is so because the Trinitarian concept of "person" totally distorts the concept of "person" that we have in English. Of cooers never mind that Trinitarian doctrine was settled by the fourth century, when English didn't even exits (I'm sure if they even spoke old English in the British isles that early). Of course our modern concept of person evolves out of the notion of persona (Hypostasis) that was used from the Greek (the word for substance) in making the doctrine. So this atheist has the whole thing backwards, English rapes Greek to come up with modern concept of personated, but the origin of the concept is the Trinitarian doctrine!

How many times have I confronted atheists whose idea of a Bible contradiction was just not knowing how to read a text? My favorite example; song of songs, the voice of the turtle is heard in the land. Well, heck, turtles dot' have voices! Couldn't stupid Bible people see that? Or hear it? or not hear it? Excuse me, it's "Turtle dove." Its' a bird. Or, how could Christ be a door when over there he says he's a gate, what a contradiction! Many atheists seem to ink Shakespeare just wrote in cliches, he's just much adieu about nothing.

I think a lot of the hostility is based upon cultural divide and we need to start educating the church. The problem is the church! Christians don't appreciate this stuff. How many average church pew sitters would the allusion to much due about nothing? We need to begin by making the church aware of its own intellectual heritage. Then we need to start trying to put stuff back in the schools, not creationism, let that one go! Let's worry about just getting the reality of western letters into the schools.

(you know I could get to like this spell check thing--this may be the begining of a beautiful frienship)

I posted this on C

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Beauty of Deism or Arrogance of "Man?"

this was put up originally by blackmagic on my boards. I thought it desreves is own Blog. I will try to get to write an essay for the Blog which this article suggests to me. that will be coming soon.

by Robert L. Johnson

(posted by Magiknoir on EZB Sense of the numinous)

A positive approach to life is always more rewarding and motivating than a negative outlook. People all have an individual choice to embrace either the positive or the negative, regardless of their situation. By choosing and dwelling on the negative, people often paralyze themselves. It seems one depressing and negative thought spawns two or three more. It soon becomes an endless and apparently overwhelming negative cycle. I believe the Christian mind-set that is so eager to accept guilt and original sin, as well as the additional unnatural idea of redemption by proxy, is much to blame for the suffering of millions of people who allow themselves to be victims of negativity.

>>>Athiests have a hard time understand the psychology of anyone who is capable of accepting his own sins and take responisiblity for his own actions. One of the major reasons that a person is an atheist is to escape such responsiblity (not true of all by any means). But study after study, going back to James and to Mininger (Karl, of the clinic fame) have proven that Christian notions of confession, grace, forgiveness lead to a much more healthy minded state than unbeilef. Christians speicifically, and religious people in general have a lot less clicincal depression or mental illness than unbelievers.

The insane and unreasonable ideas which abound in Christianity and Judaism are effectively neutralized and eliminated by the reason-friendly openness which permeates Deism.

>>>Have you ever heard the term "loaded statment?" Holy begging the question Batman!

In place of Christianity's vacillating god of the Old and New Testaments, Deism offers an idea of a Creator as unchangeable as the laws of Nature. A Creator incapable of such misery producing acts as the extermination of men, women, children and even of unborn babies by drowning. Deism happily rejects the Passover horror story which depicts God killing the first-born of all the Egyptians, and even the first born of their animals, because Pharaoh did not do what the Bible god allegedly (according to Exodus 11:10) made impossible for him to do (releasing the Jews).

>>>Christians are not obligated to accept the story of passover as litteral history.


In contrast to the ideas of God endorsed and promoted by the various revealed religions, ranging anywhere from killing babies in the Old Testament to suggesting the practice of "turning the other cheek" in the New Testament, Deism offers a very simple non-dogmatic concept of God: an eternal entity whose power is equal to his/her will.

>>>But an entity who has no concern for its creatures, who takes no responsiblity and who is totally removed form the daily lives of those it creates. The god of diesm is just the power of god with the "personality" removed. Deistic God flings the world off into the void and has nothing more to do with it. That is the classic definfition.

With the quality of being eternal, the entity of God obviously would have no beginning or end. Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity predicted places in the universe void of time, so the idea of eternalness is not unreasonable. As humanity learns more about science and the universe, our concepts of the Creator will correspondingly grow. This is the only way we can learn more about God: through the honest study of the Creator's creation, not through contradictory books written by men but claiming inspiration and revelation from God.

>>>It appears your ignorance of modern Christian thoelogy is abismal. First, classical theism and historical Christainity have always asserted that God is eternal and has no begining. That is hardly an advance upon any sort of thinking about God.

you probalby have been led astay for fundamentalists to think that Christians think of God as a big guy int he sky. Christian theolgoians, those worth their grades in seminary, do NOT think of God in this way. In fact Judeo-Christian tradition has not thought of God in this way since the translators of the LXX translated God's word to Moses as "I am eing itself." (Exodus 3:19). Modern Christian theology embrasses several general directions in thinking about the nature of God, none of them invovle big guy on throne; process theology, Tillich's notion of "Being itself," to name two examples.

The antiquated practice of forming an idea of God based on purely past material experience, such as referring to God as "King", is also rejected by Deism. The extremely limited picture of God as the jealous and paranoid king of kings sitting on his throne upset that his subjects were going to reach "heaven" by building a brick tower is due to the limited vision which the Bible writers had of both the Creator and of the universe. This fear the Bible god had of the Tower of Babel is based on fear of humanities acquisition of knowledge. The Creator the Deist venerates invites all of us to learn as much as possible about absolutely everything, for this is the best way to learn about God.

>>>Just as I thought. Your understanding of Christain theology is worefully inadquate. You seem to confusse the most vocal segemnts of society with the thing itself. The state of the art in Christian thought is found in Washington Squre, not the blue ridge moutins.

Another problem with the idea of God as promoted by the revealed religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam is its depiction of God as a man. By limiting God to the status of a man, women are consciously and subconsciously relegated to a lesser standing in society. After all, if God is characterized as a man, then men are closer to God then women. Perhaps this accounts for the multiple instances of women bashing found throughout the various "holy books." By limiting the advancement of women through their subjugation to men, revealed religion has limited the advancement and progress of all of society. And a very sad element of this anti-progress mind-set, advanced by revealed religion, is that it claims God as its author.

>>>The Judeo-Christian tradition never understood God as a man! this is a total mistake that just comes of not reading enough real theology! The father image, the guy on the throne in the bible, these are metaphorical images. they are also counter balanced by God as a mother bera, an egal, a hen, a flame of fire a while wind, a burning bush all kinds of images only a few of them involve guys on thrones. In fact one major image of God is the female brest! (Adonai = translated as "Lord" in OT--means "God of the brest." .

In fact the Bible tells us not to think of God as a man. Several verses say this: "God is spirit, those who worhsip him must do so in spirit and truth" (John) "he is not worhsiped with hands as though he neded anything" "My ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts" ect ect. These are metaphorical images because religious lanauge is analogical.


All religions claim they reject violence. History, of course, proves them wrong. From the grotesque horror stories of slaughter and rape at the alleged command of God found throughout the Old Testament, to the claimed words of Jesus regarding bringing not peace but a sword, to the blood soaked Inquisition through religiously approved contemporary wars, revealed religion goes happily hand in hand with violence and war.

>>>Christianity rejects violence. There has always been a non violent and pascifistic element in the chruch. But if you think that all diesm is pascifistic you are totally wrong! There was no pascifistic deistic movement in the enlightenment.

Deism's rejection of divine revelation excludes it from falling into the same violence promoting business that the revealed religions are in. There are no written words from the Almighty that can be twisted to sanctify one human being killing another. This makes Deism less useful to the ambitions of the power-elites. Could this be why very few people are aware of Deism and of the Deistic influence of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution?

>>>There are no such records in Christianity. There are only people like George W. Bush would interprit a gum wrapper to justify his war. It is not the absnese of revelation that will keep us out of war, but understanding of human power sturctures and the capitalist motivations that require defense of private property at all costs!

Nuclear realities have made the waging of war an unacceptable proposition. War was never justifiable, it only exposed man's mental limitations at being able to formulate a workable solution to a problem. However, in the nuclear age humanities ignorance can lead to the extermination of civilization and life itself on our planet. The shallow chauvinism of the various revealed religions take us all one step closer to that irreversible catastrophe. Deism, by its reliance on reason and rejection of violence, serves as a block to the apocalyptic nightmare that is so central to the major revealed religions.

>>>Nothing in the nature of revealed religion that makes people go to war. It's just as easy to interprit all of it as promoting peace.


One of the best roads to happiness is to greatly appreciate the positive things in life. In spite of many obstacles that everyone has in their lives that need to be overcome, the fact remains there is much to be thankful for.

>>>Life beauty! yech! you like that sutff? Forget it man, Diesim not for me!!!

To quote Thomas Paine:

"But if objects for gratitude and admiration are our desire, do they not present themselves every hour to our eyes? Do we not see a fair creation prepared to receive us the instant we are born - a world furnished to our hands, that cost us nothing? Is it we that light up the sun, that pour down the rain, and fill the earth with abundance? Whether we sleep or wake, the vast machinery of the universe still goes on."

>>>Yet oddly enough you express no gratitude at the grace of atonement though which Christ died for your sins.

From personal experience I know if my problems seem overwhelming, all I need to do is force myself to only think of the positive things in life and my spirits are soon picked up and fortified. I not only feel better, but my mind is cleared and solutions to the problems flow much smoother. And the more often I use this method the easier it becomes.

>>>O that doesn't work for Christians! We only get off on thinking about bad stuff. Paul said "whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are good, think on these things."

Many people express anger at God for disease, natural disasters and war. Yet it is within humanities power to eliminate and/or neutralize all of these. By studying the principles of Nature we have already eradicated many diseases and protected ourselves from much of Nature's fury. If we didn't let our egos, selfishness and fear get in the way, just think of how far we could be by now. Every invention and discovery we have today, could have been in effect 2,000 to 5,000 years ago. For the fact is, the principles those inventions and discoveries are based on were in effect from before the evolution of mankind. We could be enjoying a virtually disease free, peaceful progressive society extending well beyond our planet Earth. It still isn't too late. As we generate a peaceful worldwide religious revolution through Deism and the World Union of Deists we will bring about the emancipation of the individual's mind and spirit. The soul of society will then be lifted to a new level, never before thought possible. A level of progress and international cooperation that will make warfare just an archaic oddity of the dark, superstitious past.

>>>If you are trying to say that Christianity held back science your ignorance of the history of science is as bad as your ignorance of theology. It was Christian thinkers who created the interest in modern science, who saved Newtonianism from the fate of being an overlooked and forgotten theory of the 17th century. But the reason society is not a paradise on earth is not because we have religion and Christainity to hold us back, it's because we have human nature to hold us back!

Reinhold Neibuhr proved that more education is not the answer to societies ills, but finding a way to stop self interest of the group froms subsuming the moral impartives of he indiviudal.


Being a Deist demands that we truly believe, to the depths of our souls, that the spiritual philosophy of Deism will definitely make our own lives better and that it will make the world a better place. Once we realize this, it becomes obvious that the old outdated religious views of revealed religion must be overcome by peaceful means.

>>>I don't see how that can be since the orginaized deistic movement is fledgeling and there is no manifesto and no credio to which one must adhere to be a diest. In essence there is no deist tadition.

This entails a lot of work, sacrifice and giving on the individual's part. The revealed religions are so entrenched in society it will take a prolonged herculean effort on our part to pry their fingers from the throat and pockets of society. Once we do this by educating their rank and file, as well as by bringing in the millions of people who believe in God but don't endorse any particular religion, the power the revealed religions now yield will wither and society will get stronger. This requires each and everyone of us to make special efforts and sacrifices in both time and money. It's only logical that we must do and give more than those on the side of revealed religion are doing and giving to their cause. ...

>>>You really need to come up to speed in understanding the nature of modern christian theology. You are just making a knee jerk reaction to the jerks you see in the media. There's a whole other world of Christian thoelogians you appreantly know nothing of. Reihold Neibuhr would be a good one to start with.

I recomend his books Moral Man and Immoral Society and the Nature and Destiny of Man vol I to strat out.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Summary of Dissertation topc: turn to nature in 17th century England.

This isn't really even the topic.It's relaly just the background. It's only the introduction, and not even all of it. I paln to put the whole synopsis on my site smoeday, with footnotes and everything. In the mean time, I hope someone gets something out of this (sorry about the fn's not time to make them, but I might put up the bib soon).

The latitudinarians have been underrated as significant shapers of modern thought. Thanks to historians such as Margaret Jacobs and Steven Shapin, the latitudinarians are appreciated as political support in the rise of Newtonian science. Thinkers such as John Patrick and Edward Stillingfleet championed and won the cause of Newtonian science, assuring its place in modern thought by giving it a currency in the general English public that could not be ignored (Jacobs, 15). Accepting Robert Boyle’s social project, they believed that Newtonian science offered a method of acuity and, at the same time, would settle disputes and create social stability with their version of Anglicanism at the political center. The latitudinarians used Newtonian science as a tool for their own social hegemony (Jacobs, 16; Shapin, 2). Church historians such as William Spellman view them primarily as failed theologians whose contributions to the history of theology were scant at best (1). What seems to be missed by both secular and church historians alike is the significant contribution of the latitudinarians in conditioning the educated public for future developments of the enlightenment and transforming the Western tradition in thought from an ontological to an epistemological enterprise. The latitudinarian mission did not begin as a desire to create a new epistemic authority, but in seeking to clear a political space for their reading of Newtonianism they created an epistemological vacuum that could only be filled by empirical science. This was an unavoidable direction, one to which the latitudinarians were irrevocably committed once they embraced Robert Boyle’s project, because it committed them to an epistemic solution to the problem of social authority. In fact, my argument is that the latitudinarians’ major contribution, overlooked as it is, came in achieving the opposite of their stated goals; although they wanted a science-driven Christianity bolstering social order, their work led to a Christianity largely driven out of science.

The shift from biblical revelation to nature in the seventeenth century comes as the culmination of a long development of intellectual history. I use the phrase “the turn to nature” to mark this shift. The turn itself was a long process, beginning in the twelfth century, and culminating in the rise of enlightenment autonomy and modern science. Along the way the turn to nature included aspects of reformation fideism, the skeptical crisis of the sixteenth century, and the quest for certain knowledge (in the works of thinkers like Descartes). I will not dwell on these developments but will include an overview of the historical background in the first chapter. My analysis will begin in detail with the social situation of the restoration period and Boyle’s social project, and will focus on the following two areas: (1) The seventeenth-century shift from revelation to nature, (2) and the separation of human nature from its relation to grace and its inclusion in nature as a purely naturalistic fact.

Historical Background

In the twelfth century, Christian philosophy achieved its major social hegemony through almost universal acceptance of a vast theological system, a tradition that embodied both ontology and epistemology, and also motivated social hegemony in the form of dual power, church and state. This system began to unravel after the twelfth century with the late scholastic rise of scientific naturalism and the sixteenth-century reformations. In the mystical ontology of the church, nature was an extension of grace. “Man” was at the center of this system, and human nature united the realms of both nature and grace. As Eugene Fairweather points out, elemental nature (that is excluding human nature) was a symbol of divine truth (St. Augustine) rather than a means of knowledge. (237).. According to William Abraham, Luther and Calvin changed the nature of scripture from primarily a means of bestowing grace to primarily a source of epistemic authority (12). Prior to that time epistemic authority was grounded not in scripture alone, but in all of church tradition, which started with scripture but also church authority and natural theology (logic and reason about the natural world). Luther’s emphasis upon sola scriptura combined with the priesthood of the believer multiplied the problem he tried to solve: that there was no single clear-cut authority to which a Christian might turn in epistemic matters (Stout, 45). Many natural philosophers, such as Descartes, were trying to overcome this situation through the quest for certain knowledge.

The turn to “the book of nature,” first as a supplement, then as a replacement, for biblical revelation and church authority came largely in answer to the political and social conflicts of the religious wars. The disputants could not agree upon biblical readings; thus, it was hoped that science would provide indisputable answers (this was the essence of Boyle’s social project).
Latitudinarianism began after the English civil war, with the nonjuror controversy at Cambridge concerning confession of Protestant faith. As a movement, it fell into two time periods, demarcated by the so-called “glorious revolution” of 1688. The first phase does not pertain to this project. In the second phase, the latitudinarians became Newtonians and embraced Boyle’s social project, which was to use Newtonian science to establish the truth of religious doctrine and thus assure peace in society by means of an objective criterion for truth. Through their sermons, pamphlets, and private discussions they spread the word about Newton and his seeming connection to the divine mind. As a group they tended to be Whigs (although some were Tories) and churchmen, a few were scientists, most were members of the Royal Society. In so doing, however, they set up a situation in which deism later triumphed in England and much of the scientific world was conditioned to hear LaPlace’s statement “I have no need of that hypothesis” (God) and to divorce science from religion in modernity (Hahn, 256).

Monday, April 04, 2005

Ebla Froums: Can't treach old dog new tricks

You really can't. that froum turned out to be nothing more than the same old baised crap, where atheists can anything they want to belittle christians, and if Christians fight bck they are terrible and breaking the rules.

That little junta of cranks who think they are scholars and try to mutuilate the NT all the time are infesting both sec web and Ebla. They think that holding outlandish opinions and fill epistemic gaps with wishful think makes them shcolars.

why is there this tendency to think that gaps in knowledge can be filled with whatever we want to be there? At that rate the best evidence for something being in the Bible is that it's not in the Bible!

Doherty is a perfect case in point. He tries to force the fit between fourth century neo-platonism and porot Gnostic mystery cult that never exist,and along the way has to drag in all kinds of anacrinisms like the teacher at Qumran being some sort of pre-Jesus prototype. And the NT mutilation Junta probably don't even know that in the 1950s that move was attempted by several cranks, in cluding John Allegro, aka "the mushroom man."

One thing that divides a real scholar from these cranks is not the number books one has read but attitude; scholarly causation is at a premium.

Doherty's BS is irrelivant

Early Doherty reads a lot. He pulls out a lot of obscrue texts in an attempt to bolster his fictional and highly imaginative wish list of anti-christian hatred. But the fact of it is, doesn't matter how many strange Alexandrian cults he knows or, or how many peusedpgiraphal texts he can pretend refur to cosmoic crucifiction, the simple fact is Jesus was understood as a flesh and blood person as early as 50AD. That is to say, we can prove that Jesus was noised about as a felsh and blood man, the one form Nazrerath at this period, meaning he was so understood in the previous two decades.

I will start with two examples, but I can find a lot more:

(1) Helmutt Koester's work in Ancient Christian Gosples

Koester traces the textal reading in the Diatresseron back to pre Mrkan redaction. Both he and Crosson place this writting, the Passaion narrative and empty tomb as ealry as AD 50. this includes of course, the idea of an earlthy crucification and flesh blood Jesus and the very same events that are found in the four canonical Gospels.

What this means is that he's going by the actual reading itself, and deducing form it, form the way it's written, in the mannar of textual criticism, the fact of its' early writting. So even though the Diatesseron is late (170) the readings it contains are earlier than the canonical readings, because they were copied form copies of the ealiest ms.

Of course Doherty groupies, I guess we can call them Dohertyiers, sort of like Treckers, love to talk about Paul, their highly imaginative attempts to read into Paul their ideological wish list; but that's unimportnat becasue the simple fact of he matter is, Doherty is just palin wrong, and he can be proven to be wrong by an examamination of the texts in the pre markan redaction!

(2) The Gospel of Tom

Now it's not generally noised about, and of cousre the little posse of NT mutilators at the Internet Defilers wont see it, but Thomas is a core from a very early saying source, stuck inside a very late gnostic frame.

we know this becasue the sayings themselves are not laden with much Gnostic goup, nor are they very ensconced in the Gnostic ideology,but really are rather in agreement with Q to a large extent.

But the non sayings material, the peusdo narratival framework in which these sayings are placed, is laden with the late Gnsotic ponchont for spekaing of the "powers" and so forth.

It is in this sayings core that we find the stament "in flesh I took my stand in the midst of them." So here Jesus says he's flesh. Now we know this is an early saying, because it too anti-Gnsotic. it mentions a Jesus come in the flesh. That also debucnks Doherty, because most schoalrs place the sayings core of thomas with Q in terms of date, and many feel that it pre dates the canonicals. That means Jesus was understood to be flesh and blood from a period prior to the destruction of the temple.

(3) We have at least 23 Gospels and all of them portray Jesus as flesh and bood.

Many of these have been dated to first century, some thought to pre date canonicals. None of them protray Jesus as a cosmic and ehterial. they all see him as a flesh and blood man living on earth.

(4) No other versions

the upshot of this argument is that it can't prove that the eventical are historical. But it does prove that they were thought to be historical from a very ealry period. Probably the most likely reason they are tought to be so is becaus they were historical.

(5) The prhaseology in Heberws.

Jesus is cleary stated to have been flesh and boold and to have had an earthly life. Doherty's answer, at least on the website, is in part to say that Heberws was written by Apollos and thus is Alexandrian so they couldn't have meant the obvious.

this is all off the top of my head, I don't have time to look for sources but I will. But see the book Pricilla Papers by Ruth Hoppin. She argues that Priscilla is a much better candidate for authorship than Apollos. Apollos wasn't even in the inner circle, he wasn't even alley of Paul's.

(6) canonical gospels themselves

consensus of the field to place them all within the first century. So clealry the tendency to pretend they dont' exist is just wishful thinking. They put the flesh and blood Christ in the first century.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Further thinking on "no other versions argument"

The major questoin for this argument is, how can it be verified if we can't distinguish between stories with one verison which are fictional and those which are factual. After all, some stories, such as Little Red Riddinghood, and Robin Hood, have basically one verion, but are none the less either obviously fictional, are largely fictional.

I never said there's a one to one corrospendence between one version and truth. It can be that ficitonal stories only have one version. We can dichotomize between clealry fictional, such as LRRH, and somewhat factual, such as Robin Hood, and historical. But this raises the probelm, brought to me by Peter Kirby in email, if there has to be some basis in historicity to begin with, doesnt' this destory the idea of the argument as a useable paradigm. Becasue at that rate the single viersion is not telling us of the historicity of the narrative, but vice versa.

However, It think the importance of the paradigm is more subtle than just a cold "thumbs up, or down" on truth content. I think the real difference comes in at the point of understanding what was believed, not necessarily what is historical. The fact of one version only tells us that the events were set in stone form an early period. Now we have to ask, why were they set in stone? This would espeicially be improtant for a story like the Jesus narrative. One would think that miracles and amazing happenings would lead over active theological imaginations to invent new versions of the story.

The paradigm is toward an understanding of beilef. The fact of one story tells us that people at least believed the story in that version from an early period. It doesnt' tell us that this is indeed what happened, but it may tell us that this is what people believed happened from early on in the life of the narrative. That doesn't gaurontee truth, but it does mean that the community of faith was shaped by this particualr understanding of its history, and that this understanding forms the inception of the communtiy.

This gives us a history-likeness to the narrative. The importance of history-likeness cannot be over estimated. It means that this is what the community understands as it's history. We have to be prepared to adapt to new understandings as fact warrant, but this is the nature of the community to which we belong and the nature of our faith.

It means the Jesus story as related in the Gosples is still "in the running" as a histoircal event, until proven otherwise. Until the testimony of the community is demonstrated to be inadquate it has to stand as the bench mark of faith. These are the "history making" events that shape our faith.