Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year! What does 2007 hold?

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What does the New Year Hold for Metacorck's blog?

peaking into the crusal ball we can see a series on Doherty's Evolution of Jesus

a series on Dennett's Breaking the Spell

More fun in argument!

all cooming soon to a blog near you.

Happy New year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Subject/object dichotomy and Christian Faith

Recently on a Message board I defended Keirkegaard's idea of fiath as subjective. A fellow Christian said to me:

I think you have fallen into the trap of letting the
>atheists set the agenda fort the meaning of the word
>"subjective."
>
>I answered:
>
That's so very irnonic. Becasue by embracing the subject Object dichotomy you are doing nothing more than affirming the atheist world view. There is no way to be a Christian and affirm the subject/object dichotomy in the strict "good/bad" framework, with subject = bad, object = good that atheists impose.

That is empirically and Biblically the case. When God speaks thorugh Jerimaiah and describe the new covenant (ch 31) he says "the new covmenat will not be like the old one, for the broke the old one. NO longer will a man say to his neighbor "know the lord" for they will alll know me from the least to the greatest."

Now laws are objective. Rules are objective. He's saying they broke the objective covenant the one based upon rule keeping. They new one will be subjective (they will all know me--knowing is a jubjective matter because it depends upon the indivuaul's percetions).

so he's saying the objective coveneant will be overturned in favor of the subjective covmenat, the one based upon personal experince.

You have fallen into the trap of not being up to date on Heidegger and not being well versed int he thierkers of the tradition, such as Kierkegaard.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Waiting for Godot on the Silentest Night of the Year

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Nativity.....Beckett's charactors Didi and Gogo waiting for Godot.


(George Jones)

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth "

Arguming with atheists on message boards this Christmas eve I find that they are scandalized by the cross. Of course that is as it shoulbe.Yet at the same time that they complain that the incarnation is irrational and that the atonement is silly and primitive and barbaric they also mock my views of God because they don't tell us enough about God as an entity. They are not science and they fall into silence. They are struck by the silence of God. They are always saying why is God hiding why is God silent. That reminds me of what Beckett said about divine aphasia (the inability to recall words) and divine athombia, which is visual language. I love that quote, it's in one of my favorite plays, Waiting for Godot:


LUCKY:

Quote:Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation wastes and pines wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell fades away I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per head since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per head approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold on sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull fading fading fading and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labors abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard (mêlée, final vociferations)





This appeals to me, I think, because in a whimzical way it mocks the basis of many philosophical concepts about God and in its final degeneration into nonsensical sports talk we are seeing Beckett's usual technique for making the point that in the face of the ultimate truth we can do no more than fall silent..It begins as though describing some empirical scientific study ("according to the work of Puncher and Watmann"), rattles off a number cleches such as "for reasons unknown" every time it mentions a divine purpose, in the end degerates into nonsense and falls silent, as we must all do when confronted with the fact that God is beyond our understanding. But this hints at the concept of God that I struggle with. Struggle? Yes, I struggle with it because I can't just chuck the fatherly love of God; yet I don't see God as a big guy int he sky. Ok well I do but I know that that is a projection of the super ego and God transcends it. Yet I have nothing to replace it with. I see God as the Hegelian dialectic or some repository for the laws of physics, or some rule why which things work out, like the Tao. YEt in addition to all of this I have to see also a God of love who cares. Yet how can the Hegel dailectic care?

The problem is I'm trying to understand something that is essentially beyond our understanding. Now the problem with saying this is as soon as we say "God is beyond our understanding" someone says "I don't understand, how can that be?" So we always being asked to define that which we cannot define and to understand that which we of necessity believe is beyond our understanding. By "we" I don't mean to suddenly start using the royal we, but anyone who realizes the natrue of God as a mythical reality beyond word, thought, or image, is pretty much part of that "we."

God's reach downward from the rarified air of "mystery" to the warm fuzzy of Christmas is accomplished through the incornation. That's what Christmas is about. Jesus is the bridge whereby God becomes human and understands and loves humans. Bridges work both ways. So through that we can understand only dimly and fleetingly the idea that God transcends any sort of human understanding.


Hbr 1:1 ¶ God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,


Hbr 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;


Hbr 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;




We can see this means God's grasp on questions such as pain and torment in the world cannot be judged by human standards. This would like trying to estimate the difference between the understanding of virus and what clear grasp of the human condition a virus actually has, vs. an understanding that would be far beyond that of the most brilliant thinks of the human race.

Trying to judge God by the standards through which we judge each other would be idiotic. We could say God can't understand human pain and is only dimly aware of it. But the fact that he tried and that he reached out and bridged the gap through Christ indicates that he does understand. That makes the failure to deal with it in the here and now all the more mysterious, but it doesn't mean that God doesn't have a handel on the problem; it means ony that we don't understand that.

Now atheists hate the repair to mystery, they see it as a cop out. Ordinarily I have to agree with them. As a former atheist that is one thing that drove me up the wall when I would argue with Christians, every time you get them in a corner they try to get out by repairing to mystery; no one knows the mind of God. I don't think what I'm saying here is that, because I'm not saying we can use this mystery to close down any sort of questioning about theodicy. I'm just saying that the true reasons for it are not something we can ever really know in words; although perhaps we can know it in mystical union with God.

Incornation had one goal in mind: atonement. Christ was born to die, and to rise. Is that barbaric? Of course it is! atheists are right to be put off by it. It would be pointless to offer an image of suer and spice and everything nice when the whole point of it is to show God's willingnes to enter our pain and to identify with us. Now atheists are always saying "O that was nothing for God, he can do anything, so it didn't rally hurt. Besides crucifiction is not the most painful daith I can imagine." I can show you a guy on a message board right now saying this very thing. I could link to the very post, but I've seen it so many times what's the piont? Yet he's right, and yet wrong. It would be pointless of God to hold a contest of pain. God could suffer more than all of humanity put together and still not be challenged or dinted. That's nto the point. The point is God's demonstration to us that he is in solidarity with us. Who cares that some have suffered more than Jesus, if that is possible, its not a context but a symbol. We have open the power of the symbol and take it as God's promise.

Through the relationship of solidarity, of identification with us, we enter into Christ's death and express our solidarity for him. This is basically what Paul says in Romans six about how we aer baptized into Christ's death. Through that identification we have relationship with God and that creates the grounds upon which sin is forgiven! This is God's speechifying to us. This is how the silent God, gripped by divine apasia speaks to us and shows us through his divine athombia the truth of his love; he becomes one of us, dies at the lowest social level, as a criminal, a "loser." He is raised from the dead to a new hope and a future. Through this solidarity with us, this identification, we are raised to a new hope and a future in Christ!

It's prefectly Hegelian: the Fahter is the thesis, the son the anti-thesis, and the resurrection in the Spirit the synthesis. I told you I saw God as the Hegelian dialectic. So God speaks through is actions in Christ as the incornate solidarity with humanity. He shows us visually that he is identified with us. But we must enter into that solidarity and step out in faith to walk in newness of life.

The whole point of the play Waiting for Godot is not that they are waiting for God, but that they are waiting for the big human payoff; meaning, or social utopia, or to get rich, or find God, or whatever. But God is a good metaphor for thi concept. They are waitng for this big thing that suppossed to be coming but never quite does. Not to say say that Beckett was a christian, although I could argue that we can't say he wasn't. He hated Catholics but liked protestants and was interested in Christian philosphy all his life. It is not implaussable to thin that one sees Christian symbols in Beckett. The two tramps in Waiting for Godot, Didi and Gogo, wait by a little tree, withered and small. This is symbolic of the world tree. But one might take the world tree as an archetype of the corss, especiallyt his one in the paly. They are waiting by the cross, they can never quite committ they neve quire undersand; Godot has already come!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Take the Koester Challenge

A poster singing himself "LO" has criticized my understanding of Koester's ideas on pre Markan redaction. This is serious because I rely heavily upon Koester's concept, my understanding of which is under fire, that the pre Markan redaction was circulating in written form as early as AD 50. I've been waiting to find my copy of Koeter's book to answer. I've now gone through all the boxes and must conclude the book is well and truely lost. Nevertheless, I will still answer these arguments.



LO:You keep repeating this bit:

"Well, we can show that the basic story that makes up the Pre Markan redaction was used by all four Gospels, and that it was circulating as early as AD 50, that's just 18 years after the original events."

You rely on a single book by a single scholar (Helmut Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels) to establish the existence of a hypothetical document.



He says scornfully that I rely on a source by just one scholar. The fact of the matter is this point is from the ravings of just one guy (although that guy is the major textual critic in the world). Koester himself says that John Domnic Crosson also agrees with him on the point, and he includes as an apendix to his book an article by Diateseron scholar Jurgen Denker who also agree. Moreover, there is a general trend toward dating the dating the Gospels at a point ealier than the traditional AD 70 for Mark and latter for others. John A.T. Robinson, in his work Dating the New Testmaent places the "proto Mark" as AD45. While evidence from the Talmud indicates that Matthew had to have been circulating as early as AD 70, meaning that in as much as Matt used Mark, Mark must have been written much earlier than 70. We know that something was circulating before Paul began to write, which was about AD 50, becuase Paul quotes or alludes to Jesus teachings and sayings so consistently that Koester assumes he possessed one of the sayings documents. See my chart on Pauline allusion (scroll to bottom of page). Lo goes on,however, and continues his challenge:



The two problems here are, first, that Koester's views are of course contestable, and are contested by a number of scholars, and second, that you inject a large amount of your own interpretation into what Koester (and Petersen) actually say in the book. You really need to take another look at this claim and stop simply repeating it.


Too bad we have no specifics here. He does not produce a single scholar who disagrees with Koester, nor does he indicate what he's talking about when he says I interject too much of my own opinion. Now I am aware that I interject, of course I do because I'm using many sources to build a case for a certain view point. This is an art form through which one uses documentation to mold an original idea. It's deriving originality out of set works that are not one's own. Typically this is called "argumentation." But it is Lo's own burden of proof to show that I inject too much of my own ideas suppported. So far he has not even been specific about what he means.





This is the kind of thing I meant when I said you should take another look at this claim and stop simply repeating it. First, as I said earlier, Crossan says “the 50’s” not “by 50.” Koester describes Crossan’s position as dating the Cross Gospel to “the middle of the 1st century CE.” You interpret this “middle” to mean by 50 precisely, but “middle” means a range of possible dates in the middle, not the exact middle.



That may be a fair criticism, however, I think Koester does say exactly "AD 50." I am sure remember seeing that but I can't find the book. Since I can't prove my point at the moment let's assume our friend LO is right. Now if Corsson says "in the middle fo the century" I agree that a range is implied not a specific year. Narrowing the date to one year in particular seems a bit of a leap, I always assumed that the statement, even if Koester literally says it ("AD 50") Is meant as a rounding off not a hard and fast date. But I think what Lo forgets is that a range means that it could as earlier refer to 45 60 50 as 50-55. It could even mean AD 40-50 as easily as 50-60. So at that rate saying "50" seems reasonable. But I never meant that it must have come out that very year. Now supposed it did come out and begin to circulate in 55? That's still 23 years after events, still eye witnesses around, still a little less than half the distance from the original events that most skeptics assume or that the traditional dates assume. So I really think this point is too damaging to my argument. I think it hardly touches the argument.



Second, Koester is describing Crossan’s position, not his own. You say Koester never says otherwise. Even if this were the case, it would not mean that he endorses Crossan’s position or that he actually says he dates the Passion Narrative source to 50. But in fact, Koester disagrees with Crossan, and on a lot more than the epiphany stories. After describing Crossan’s theory in the paragraph on pp. 218-219, Koester criticizes it, saying, “There are three major problems regarding this hypothesis.” The second of these major criticisms has to do with Crossan’s early dating of a “major literary composition,” by which Koester means Crossan’s Cross Gospel.



Yea I remember that if you read far enough you see that he grounds down the problems to a point where he is not preserving any essential disagreement with Corsson. He's basically knocking out the problems. While he does disagree with Crosson on many fine points he certainly does not disagree with the idea that a pre Mark redaction served as the basis for all four canonical Gospels, that this contained the passion narrative and ended with the story of the empty. He further agrees that this was circulating "in the middle of the century." He certainly does not disagree and if you look you will see that the time period of circulation is not one of the three problems that he puts up. Again, this does nothing to my argument. you are merely knit picking. You are desperate to show that I can't do scholarship and I'm stupid and I'm not good and you are smarter and your just piicking on trivia and bull shit and you don't do anything to touch the basis of my arguments.

There is no way you could read that book and think that Koester disagrees on that key point; the pre Markan redaction circulated sometime in the middle fo the century, before the traditional date of Mark and that it was uses by the four gospels. The whole structure of the book supports that view. There would be no point at all in speaking of Diatesseron if that was not his point, that's the whole idea of talking about readings in the Diatesseron. It would absurd to present an article on the subject by another scholar at the end fo the book if that was not his major point. This is not just some small thing that he happens to agree on, it's a major point to what he has to say about the evolution of Gospels as a whole. It's the whole point of showing that the Gospel of Thomas is independent of the canonicals and it's the whole point of showing that Egerton 2 is not dependent upon John. He quotes about 10 verses, I use four of them on Doxa, showing the differences in the readings for Mark and for Egerton 2. That would be totally useless if his point was not that the Egerton 2 readings are ealier and more primative than the Mark readings. He's not arguing that they are more Jewish to be Politcially correct on ethnicity, he's arguing that they are older, they were circulating first, the represent readings that existed before those in Mark. The whole point of that is to show that here is an original soruce from whch the canoncials are taken. Naturally it has to be an older source.



You also jump ahead to p. 131 to cite two sentences about the PN source, where Koester is no longer discussing Crossan’s position. Yes, Koester believes that all the gospels depend on one PN source and that it ends with the empty tomb story. However, he does not say that this PN source was written by 50.



Yea I think he does. But what if he doesn't? He doesn't disagee with Corsson that it was circulating by "the middle fo the century." Thats' the ssence of my argument. The exact year, as I've already mentioned is not the point.In saying as much as you just said you basically demonstrate that my argument is true.


You pull that from the earlier paragraph describing Crossan’ theory on pp. 218-219, though, as I’ve said you misinterpret “middle of the 1st century” to mean specifically the year 50. Crossan’s study is not one of the studies Koester is referring to on p. 131. Crossan’s hypothetical source, the Cross Gospel, did not contain the empty tomb story. Crossan thinks that story was composed later by the author of Mark.


If he thinks that how could he disagree on the part about the epiphanies coming from more than one source? Koester thinks they came from many sources, in so far as he disagreew with Crosson on that point apparently Crossen doesn't so it's illogical to think he would say that.

So you are ignoring what Crossan actually says about when he dates his Cross Gospel, you are forcing an overly specific interpretation on Koester’s description of Crossan’s “middle of the 1st century”, and you mistakenly take Koester to be agreeing with Crossan on all but the epiphany stories.


No I don't think I"m doing any of that. I think you are so intent on showing what a bastard I am that you missing what I'm saying. The regifity to your mind to assuem that I mean litterally has to be AD 50, not 51, but 50 itelf! thta's jsut stupid. Only someone would take that way who is activley seeking to interprit the things I say in the worst possible light.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jesus Mythers Can't Cut It By Their Own Criteria

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I have been arguing with an assortment of sceptics on a message board, many of whom can be described as "Jesus mythers." The pure Jesus myther is one who believes that Jesus did not exist as a man in history, but was made up as a fictional character. Who made him up and why can get very complex. The other major requirement for being a myther is the belief that in some sense Jesus is patterned after the dying/rising savior gods of the ancient world such as the Hours from Egypt and the Turkish Attis, and Persian/Roman cult Maitra (Mithras). The problem is, it is hard to find a pure "Myther." Most scpetics will begin to argue about Jesus and our knowledge of him, but when push comes to shove will admit that "I think he probably existed, but we don't know much about him." What I find is that most people can't keep stairght what the argument is about. They confuse arguments for Jesus as a man in history with Jesus as the son of God and both of those issues with the idea that the New Testament has no authority historically, but is a pack of lies. I find that most sceptics are very confused and have no clear understanding of these issues, but their agenda is such that they embrace anything that assists in destroying Christianity.

The mythers and quasi mythers both have little sense of history. Most of them have no idea what historians do or why they arrive at the conclusions that they do. In place of a true understanding of historiogrophy they have placed the evening News. Their basic argument is just that, where is Jesus on the 6:00 news? There is no tarnscript of the ancient world from the local news that speaks of Jesus in an up-to-the-minute way, so there must not have been a Jesus. "There is no contemporary record of his existence." Well, we can show that the basic sotry that makes up the Pre Markan redaction was used by all four Gospels, and that it was circulating as early as AD 50, that's just 18 years after the original events. That closes the gap between the Gospels as we know them in their final form and the original events in an amazing way. The mythers, however, are not impressed. They demand evidence from during Jesus life time and from the every same time as the events were "breaking." This is the evening news syndrome. They seem blissfully unaware of how remote everything was back then and how slow the news would have spread..

There are many reasons why we don't have a lot of contemporary records of Jesus' doings. He wasn't important to anyone elite enough to write until years latter after his followers became numerous enough to start going to Rome. Rome was the center of everything, Jerusalem was a backwater for which the Romans could not have cared less.. Jesus was not important enough in a worldly way, to the elites and the powerful people, to be the subject of contemporary writing.The writers whose works were important enough to survive that era were mostly in Rome, or a few other places like Alexandria, but not Jerusalem and certainly not Galilee. Yet the mythers and their confussed coheart of skeptics trnslate this lack of evening news immediacy into what they think is an iron clad argument that Jesus didn't exist. Had existed, they reason, he would have been on the evening news. Most of Jesus' followers were illiterate and poor, but this doesn't even phase the mythers. With no sense f history all they know is, everything that is important is on the evening news.


The news argument goes hand in hand with the general argument "there's just no proof Jesus existed." The problem here is that to achieve a "proof free zone" around the topic they to get rid of the major artifact that proves Jesus existed, the New Testament. They accomplish this setting up phony criteria, criteria that real historians think is silly, and then using that to just totally ignore the NT completely. Any attempt to bring the NT into the argument is met with "that's by biased people who had visions and believed in supernatural so it has to be wrong." I brought all of this up to the historian from whom I was TA, a few years ago when I first began doing apologetics on the net. This man has a big name reputation and he is a well respected historian, Cambridge educated.He said to me "why spend your time arguing with idiots?" This guy was not a Christian, he was an atheist. He thinks the Jesus myther thing is stupid, and so do most real academic historians, and he explained why: Because the same criteria they use to dismiss the NT could be used to dismiss 90% of what we know about the ancinet world. Historians do not see a mythological source and say "O that' can't have any truth in it because it's mytholgoical." No, this histoiran told me of reports of battles in which gods fight with men and it is said that so many people were in the battle that it was more people than lived on earth at that time. But historians do not decide that the battle didn't happen! they do not rule out sources just because they are infected with mythology. Most ancient world sources were biased, had visions and were polemical and religious, which is all the major criteria through which the mythers write out the New Testament. The supreme irony is that the very sources the mythers use to argue for the pattern of dying/rising savior god, which suppossedly undergirds the Jesus story, comes from these same kinds of soruces, people who had visions and were believers in supernatural and myth, polemical and religious.


Michael Grant
In his book Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels, Atheist historian Michael Grant completely rejected the idea that Jesus never existed.

This sceptical way of thinking reached its culmination in the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth.... But above all, if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned. Certainly, there are all those discrepancies between one Gospel and another. But we do not deny that an event ever took place just because some pagan historians such as, for example, Livy and Polybius, happen to have described it in differing terms.... To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.' In recent years, 'no serous scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.




Speaking of their being no proof, there is cerainly no proof for the Jesus myth hypoethesis. There is no tone single soruce anywhere before the ninteeth century who ever suggested that Jesus didn't exist. He's proven to have existed alright, many times over, no one ever denied it! There is no a shread of proof for any of the Jesus myth world view because it requies one supposition after another all of which are unfounded, such as a quasi Christian type group going before Jesus time whcih would have the motive to make up such a figure.The author of this theory of Jesus fiction is Earl Doherty, no formal crednetials in Biblical studies, who has championed the cause of Jesus mythism. Doherty quotes Helmutt Koster as an authoirty, but Koster says outright "do not conclude that there was a cyncial or stoic hellinism in Galilee, and that's exactly what Doherty bases his view upon. So he can't follow the adivce of his own sources. The theory also requires that myth run backwards, it must move from an abstraction based upon idealized types and an etherial nature, to a concrete history made up latter to cover for the etheral backdrop. This is totally contrary to any example of mythology. So the mythers have absoltuely no basis for their views, no evidence to back it up, the whoel things is based upon argument from silence and doubious connections and bait and switch to ignore the major Christian evidence. But what's a little hypocracy for a skeptic?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

God is the Mind that Thinks the Universe

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Ultimately I'm a Platonist, but I've been influenced by Berkeley. I think he was one of the most brilliant minds to ever exist on this planet. He argued that to be is to be perceived. God is the universal perceiver that makes it all possible.

I argue that God is mind, reality is mental and is manufactured by mind. Mind is spirit. Spirit is the center of consciousness that makes existence possible. When one speaks of "Spirit" in the bible one is really speaking of the center of consciousness. Spirit is breath or wind. In both Hebrew and Greek the words for spirit are also the words for breath or wind. So when Jesus said "the wind blows wher it will" he was making a sort of pun. But in the ancient world intellect and consciousness were not the brain they were located in the breath int he chest, in the living and breathing organs.

My Platonic assumptions leads me to understand that the reality that seems so solid to us in the physical world is not solid at all. That is born out by science; it's 90% nothing, it's made up of tiny electrical charges that are made up of fruther tiney elements we don't even understand.

This view is apt to be mistaken for Pantheism. I am not saying we are God or that we are part of God. In a technical sense everything is part of God if realty is an idea in the mind of God. But that doesn't make us deity. There is a distinction between the recognition of deity in God and the basic stuff of the universe.

The upshot of all this is many fold. there are several arguments for the existence of God that I spin off of this outlook, and it solves the problems of temporal begining and of ideas about God thinking.


The view that I mentioned in the ther thread on "God is the mind that thinks the universe" is compatible wth process theology. Process theology says that God is dipolor. One pole is concerecent, that is the pole in which God changes with the universe and participates in crete existence at the most basic level. The other is the "potential" pole in which God is universal and unchaning, but that's in potentiality.

This is compatible with the "Berkeleian view" that I've hatched out, because it is the potenial pole in which the framework of Mind forms the basis of reality; in the concrete pole God is actively engaged in thought about the universe and its nature, and through perceiving his own thoughts about it interacts with the process of becoming in the universe.

The real difference is that in my view God is not really changing, the concrete pole is just a thought in god's mind about himself and his relation to the world, which is also a thought in his mind.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Stout Hearted Women (and men?)

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Father Mouser, of whom I wrote in the article "When is a doctrine a Frudiean Slip?" (the genius who thinks God is having sex with everyone, has struck again. I have a friend who really knows music. She's mostly in chruch mustic, but she knows music like Bach's sons knew the Bach scale. Mouser decides to attack her because she just wants some equality in speech of hymns. My friends Blog is thePsltery. She takes to task the hymn "rise up o men of God"


Rise Up, O Men of God
Text: William P. Merrill, 1867-1954
Generally sung to FESTAL SONG (SM)
Composed by William H. Walter, 1825-1893

For full text, follow this link.

First of all, this hymn reeks of "this text doesn't apply to me" to the female half of the congregation. Maybe once upon a time it didn't, but an inescapable fact of the English language is that it is changing. Women no longer consider themselves part of "men." And the fact is, especially considering the full context of the hymn text, this hymn never really means to address women. So do we really need to use a hymn that excludes (over) half the congregation?



Of course this is going to turn Mouser's world upside down. Like all good little peranoids, he dare not allow anyone to voice any opinion contrary to his own.He has risen up as a "man of God" to combat this
lattest assault upon civilization:


The complaints lodged by the blogger above provide a fascinating study in the doctrinal myopia of modern egalitarians and the foolishness this condition inflicts upon its victims.

Her criticisms (yup, this blogger’s a woman), are three. Let’s examine them in turn.

First of all, this hymn reeks of “this text doesn’t apply to me” when sung by the female half of the congregation. Why? “… an unescapable [sic] fact of the English language is that it is changing. Women no longer consider themselves part of ‘men.’ ”


Again we see the total insensitivity of the fundy. The women feel excluded by the lanague but they should not becasue they should just know better. He goes into a sopng and dance about "traditionally inclusive language." In other words, women are part of "men" or "Mankind."


First of all, this hymn reeks of “this text doesn’t apply to me” when sung by the female half of the congregation. Why? “… an unescapable [sic] fact of the English language is that it is changing. Women no longer consider themselves part of ‘men.’ ”

This kind of challenge sounded revolutionary and daring back in the Seventies (!), but now it just sounds whiney. The use of the masculine in English to comprehend both male and female is as common as ever, except (perhaps) in some highly rarified departments of English, sociology, and women’s studies in the intolerant corridors of academe.



What really sounds whiney is having to re-visit this issue, which should have been settaled in the 70's (he right about that, unfortuantley he's one of those who didn't get the drift). What's really whiney is carping about how women should just shut up and accept being part of "man."

But the Psaltery answered this argument already by saying that women no longe see themselves this way. They feel excluded by lanaguge that is not overtly inclusive in the modern sesne. But of course threatening this wonderful traditoinal hymn is just the greatest threat to the chruch since the the idea of women pastors. Why is it so much trouble just to realize that if people feel a certain way, that a certain kind of speech excludes them, maybe we shouldn't use that kind of speech so much? I've seen some real abuses and people feeling offended when they are clearly going out of their way to feel so, but his song clelary excludes women and it would it really be such a civilization toppeling move just to write something about women in the lyrics? The irony of it all is we know darn well women are not included. Mouser wont them let them rise up as part of the men who are called to rise up because he believes it's not their place to lead in any way or do anything great. So he really is condmening them to silence and wont even mention them. By "including" in the masses who are only mentoned as "men" he's actually excluding them by burrying them in silence. He says directly:


But, hymns do not need to address everyone. Many of them address only God. Others, like Merril’s, address subsets of the Church, in this case men. As a hymn, this one fits well within the mouths of all Christian women, who by this hymn call on men, whose allegiance is to God, to … well, to rise up and to accomplish a variety of tasks that belong to them to do.


In other words he's basically just admitting to the criticism. He's saying "Yea shut up and stay in your place and hope God riases up stong men to save you."


Moreover, there are other criticisms of the theology that Mouser ignores or doesn't grasp.



Secondly, the theology is simply terrible. Follow the link and pay particular attention to verses 2 and 3. "[The Church's] strength unequal to her task/rise up and make her great" simply isn't true. The Holy Spirit's power makes the imperfect Church equal to whatever task God calls us to do. It is not the strength of the male half of the church that will make the church great, it is the strength of the Lord Jesus himself.

Third, this hymn reinforces the church's historical error of thinking that men can more fully conform to the image of Christ than women can. Verse 4 is particularly bad about this. Women obviously cannot be "brothers of the Son of Man." And just as we need to not forget that there are men in the body of Christ, we must not forget that there are women in the body, as well. This hymn doesn't forget it, it ignores it.

"Rise Up, O Men of God" is not fit for either full congregational or for men's group singing. I suppose verse 1 is acceptable for the latter, if groups will stop with verse 1. But there are better hymns that express the need for all of us, including all the men, to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. It's not especially difficult to find and use them instead.

(EDIT: Thank you to the gender hierarchalist critic who made much of the fact that I typed a "u" instead of an "i" in the word "inescapable." What a terrible, horrible, unforgivable gaffe on my part! My typing error was by far the most supportable of your objections to this blog entry. By the way, I'm going to consider it a typo that you missed one of the "l"s in "Merrill" at several points in your rant against my blog entry. Your toss shattered a wall in your glass house, brother William.



Mouser responds to her:


What lies beneath this complaint is nothing other than vexation at the incarnation of the eternal Son of God as a human male. Because of that fact of our faith, it is inescapable that men have a capacity to resemble Christ in ways that women do not. Christ is the Bridegroom, never the bride. He is our brother, never our sister. He is our King, never our queen. He is the Son of God, never the daughter of God. God is Christ’s Father, never Christ’s mother.


In other words its a fair crticism that these guys (Mouser is part of a Patriarchal cult called the CCC, Chrsitian Complementarian Coalition) worship their own maleness. Of course they have not tumblaed to the connection between female personified wisdom in proverbs and logos, meaning that Christ is tied to any one gender. But of course since they set up their own gender as an idol they think he is. Essentially Mouser has has just admitted to Psaltery's criticism.



When the egalitarian protests that the Church errs by thinking in these terms, we learn from this that it is the egalitarian who knows neither the Scripture, nor the power of God – a power which stamps the human race with a shape, actually two shapes (male and female) which in their relationship to one another mimic the most fundamental relationships of all, that between God and His creation, between Christ and His Church.



Of course he says this because they have riased patriarchy to the level of divine command and worhsip it along side God. They think the male sex is enthroned as God's true form. Of course he says two shapes are stamped, but one exists to serve the other.




And, this is why the Bible, and the Church, and William P. Merril sing “Rise up, O Men of God!” The entire hymn is rooted in the Bible’s ancient sexual polarity, which itself springs from God’s very good design at the beginning of all things, and which moves to the glory of the wedding of the Lamb and His bride at the end of all things.



Exactly! In other words, men represent God and are called to do great things, and women aer called to keep their mouths shut and hope that strong men save them.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Theodicy Debate

I recieved an email from someone who wishes to simpley be known as "Alex." Alex takes to task my view on theodocy in which I develop mysoeterilogical drama






Hello,

I came across doxa, and your site looks cool. After reading your theodicy
about "soteriological drama," I wanted to ask you: don't you think such a
theodicy renders Christianity completely unfalsifiable - and if it does,
does it bother you at all?


Not really, because I think it's a meaningless question. The problem with it is that Christianity is a world view. No world view is falsifiable in some neat little package that sums up everything thing a person can think or every way someone can look at the world. Falsification doesn't work that way. That's like saying is science falisifiable? Well if any particular scientific theory turns out wrong then it's just being tested as a theory, so science itself can never be falisfied. Thus, that illustrates what I mean about a world view not being falsifiable. Aspects of world views might be falsifiable. Instead of looking for one magic bullet that will kill all of Christianity at once it seems more rational to look to chop up the sections and kill them one at a time (if you can).



If I understand it, the idea is that God's
existence simply must be in doubt in order for us to most efficiently
internalize moral virtues/rules. As such, your concept of soteriological
drama can be invoked to provide a sort of glib response to ANY
philosophical/scientific/theological objection to Christianity!



why Glib? What makes it glib? God's existence must be in doubt to internalize. Well that's reducing it to simplicity. It's not that God must be in doubt to internalize the good, if that were true not being falsifiable would be very helpful because it would mean could really internalize a lot. But the point is that to internalize the good we have to make moral choices. To make moral choices we have to have free will, to to have free will the choice can't be obvious.



The Bible
is full of contradictions? No problem, God put them there because if there
were no contradictions in it, it would be too easy to know that the
Christian God is real, and hence internalization of values would be
hindered.


Of course I never said that. That would be an absurd idea, so he's just putting words in my mouth making assuptions of which he has no knowledge.Of course I deal with Biblical contradictions by appealing tomodels of revleation other than verbal plenary (aka "Inerrnecy").




Evil exists? Of course it does, God needs us to doubt so we can
internalize values.



He's still arguing from logical absurdity by reducing my argument to simplicity. So let's look at what I really say rather than leaving up to "Alex's" inacurate understanding.



There are three basic assumptions that are hidden, or perhaps not so obivioius, but nevertheless must be dealt with here.

(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.


The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impitus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.

(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance or complainance that would be the result of intimindation.

That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will a lot more to achieve a goal they truely beileve in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.

(3)the the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.

The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultaimte meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internatlized.

The argument would look like this:


(1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.

(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).

(3) Allowence of free chioces requires the risk that the chooser will make evil chioces

(4)The possiblity of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpsoe of creation would be thwarted.



This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entials. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclinded to sin.

This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it.
Argument on Soteriological Drama:


(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tention exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultiamte goals, ends and puroses for which we are on this earth.

(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us

(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probalby all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from teh heart.

(8) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internatilized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; intetrsubective, internal, not amienable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.



Merely attributing internalization to doubt is clearly not part of my view. I connect one to the other at the point of making free will choices.


Argument from Non-Belief?; this doesn't pose a problem:
the fact that so many people don't believe in the Christian God gives us the
doubt that is required to efficiently internalize values. Et cetera.



What is "et cetera?" I wonder. But the problem of unbelief doesn't post any kind of problem anyway. That would just come under heading "the fallacy of appeal to populairty." Who cares if people doubt? who care if people believe? Neither one proves anything in and of itself.




Your
concept of soteriological drama is similar to other christian responses,
like "God is mysterious," and "God needs us to have faith, faith is the
vestibule through which God chooses to deliver salvation:" these responses
work as responses to any sort of objection, and render Christianity
completely unfalsifiable. And if your soteriological drama concept sort of
innoculates Christianity from intellectual attack, is the intellectual
defense of Christianity disingenuous?



Here he resots to the informal fallacy of black is white slide. This works through finding two aspects of ideas that are totally different and asserting that they are the same because they bot invovles some of the same concepts. To accomplish this he pulls a bait and switch. Did you catch it? Here it is:

where he first assert that Sd is like other Christian ideas and then argues that those other ideas do x,y,and z. Without trying to prove it, he then asserts or leaves the impression made that SD must do that too since the ideas that it is like also do x,y, and z. the problem is Soteriological Drama is really not much like other ideas and he must show that it is like them in such a way that it produces the same effects!

He identfies ideas like "no one knowst he mind of God" and "God requires faith" with Soteriological Drama, when it fact it's not like that at all; because those catch phrases are designed to deflect an attempt at really answering questions. Soteriological Drama is itself a pori an answer to questions about why God does things!

If we cleverly innoculate
Christianity such that it's unfalsifible, and any sort of problem in it is
explained (away) through soteriological drama, are we being fair when
debating with atheists? I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Alex


The problem is that your use of falsifiablity is indescriminate. You seem to have hold a scientific sounding toy and can't wait to put into action. But it has to play some relation to the overall cocnept. One canonot just go around saying "that's unfalsifiable." You must show:

(1) What is to be falsified
(2) why do we want to faisify it?
(3) how does one falisfy
(4) is science falsifiable?
(5) is materialism?

Now let's don't get confussed here. Scientific theories are falsifiable, but not science itself. Why should christinaity itself be falsifiable? That would be like saying a world view as a whole would be falsifiable. But if we break down indivudal questions about Christainity and Christian belief many such questions will be.

The most important point is why should an existenial experitially oriented Philosphy have to measure up to a philosophical concept desinged for perscise empirical observations?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Anonymous Defends Atheist Incredulity

That Anonynmous sure gets around. What an amazing volume of work tha guy(gal?) has posted over the years?He/she has a comment in response to my article of May 2006 "why doesn't God heal Stupidity:"

Anonymous said...
Atheists are very scientifically minded. They came to their beliefs through careful thought and lack of scientific evidence in a God. If you are going to have any luck convincing an atheist, you will need to back up one of your cases with visual and scientific proof meaning x-rays, pictures and doctors notes. You have anecdotes on your site but I personally did not notice any pictures or x-rays where you can physically see a visual change from unhealthy to healthy. I think the spontaneous regeneration of a lung would be very good evidence for something supernatural, do you have x-rays of this? Do you think an atheist is going to believe you if you have no visual scientific evidence and doctors notes to back up your claim?

4:30 AM


I was an atheist. I know how they think. My webstie is loaded with such evdidence, and I've posted articles on this blog featruing many of them, especiallythe Lordes evdience Atheists are not scientific thinkers, they will escew science so fast it will make your head spin. They are only "scientific" in so far as scientific evdience backs their opinions. The minute thier opinions are challeged by scientific evidence they have had enough of science.


Ironically the two peices before that one were about atheism and science. here's one that I think might be apt:


I don't think atheists care about evidence. Evidence just means that one has something to reason from. What atheists demand is absolute proof, and at a level that can't be given for anything. I would bet that if for some reason atheists didn't like science, no amount of scientific "proof" wood suffice to prove to them that science works; because they would demand absolute proof, which can't be gotten.

In thinking about the two other threads I initiative over the last few days, and the atheist take on my arguments and their 'dicing' of my thought processes, and their refusal to acknowledge standard resiances that I give all the time, I find the following state of affairs to be a good description of the current state of dialectic between atheists and theists on the boards:

(1) Theists have a vast array of knowledge and argumentation built up over 2000 years, which basically amounts to a ton evidence for the existence of God. It's not absolute proof, because true, sure enough, actual absolute proof is just damn hard to come by on anything--even most scientific things; which is why they invented inductive reasoning. Science accepts correlation's as signs of caudal relationships, it doesn't ever actually observe causality at work. But that kind of indicative relationship is not good for atheists when a God argument is involved. Then it must be absolute demonstration and direct observation.

(2) This double standard always works in favor of the atheist and never in favor of the theist. I suspect that's because Theists are trying to persuade atheists that a certain state of affairs is the case, and at the same time we are apt to be less critical of our own reasons for believing that. Atheists make a habit of denial and pride themselves on it.

Why is it a double standard? Because when it works to establish a unified system of naturalistic observation the atheist is only too happy to appeal to "we never see" "we always see" and "there is a strong correlation." We never see a man raised from the dead. We never see a severed limb restored. The correlation's between naturalistic cause and effect are rock solid and always work, so science gives us truth, and religion doesn't. But when those same kinds of correlation's are used to support a God argument, they are just no darn good. to wit: we never see anything pop out of absolute noting, we never even see absolute nothing, even QM particles seem to emerge from prior conditions such as Vacuum flux, so they are not really proof of something form nothing. But O tisg tosh, that doesn't prove anything and certainly QM proves that the universe could just pop up out of nothing!

(3) "laws of physics" are not real laws, they are only descriptions, aggregates of our observations. So they can't be used to argue for God in any way. But, when it comes to miraculous claims, the observations of such must always be discounted because they violate our standard norm for observation, and we must always assume they are wrong no matter how well documented or how inexplicable. We must always assume that only naturalistic events can happen, even though the whole concept of a naturalism can only be nothing more than an aggregate of our observations about the world; and surely they are anything but exhaustive. Thus one wood think that since our observations are not enough to establish immutable laws of the universe, they would not be enough to establish a metaphysics which says that only material realms exist and only materially caused events can happen! But guess again...!

(4) The Theistic panoply of argumentation is a going concern. Quentin Smith, the top atheist philosopher says that 80% of philosophers today are theists. But when one uses philosophy in a God argument, it's just some left over junk from the middle ages; even though my God arguments are based upon S 5 modal logic which didn't exist even before the 1960s and most of the major God arguers are still living.

(5) They pooh pooh philosophy because it doesn't' produce objective concrete results. But they can't produce any scientific evidence to answer the most basic philosophical questions, and the more adept atheists will admit that it isn't the job of science to answer those questions anyway. Scientific evidence cannot give us answers on the most basic philosophical questions, rather than seeing this as a failing in science (or better yet, evidence of differing magister) they rather just chalice it up to the failing of the question! The question is no good because our methods dot' answer it!

(6) What it appears to me is the case is this; some methods are better tailed for philosophy. Those methods are more likely to yield a God argument and even a rational warrant for belief, because God is a philosophical question and not a scientific one. God is a matter of faint, after all, and in matters of faith a rational warrant is the best one should even hope for. But that's not good enough for atheists, they disparage the whole idea of a philosophical question (at least the scientistic ones do--that's not all of them, but some) yet they want an open ended universe with no hard and fast truth and no hard and fast morality!

(7)So it seems that if one accepts certain methods one can prove God within the nature of that language game. now of course one can reject those language games and choose others that are not quite as cozy with the divine and that's OK too. Niether approach is indicative of one's intelligence or one's morality. But, it does mean that since it may be just as rational given the choice of axioms and methodologies, then what that taps out to is belief in God is rationally warrented--it may not be only rational conclusion but it is one ratinal conclusion Now i know all these guys like Barron and HRG will say "hey I'm fine with that." But then when push comes to shove they will be back again insisting that the lack of absolute proof leaves the method that yields God arguments in doubt, rather than the other way around. I don't see why either should be privileged. Why can't we just say that one method is better suited for one kind of question, the other for the other?

and if one of them says 'why should I ask those questions?' I say 'why shouldn't we leave the choice of questions to the questioner?

Friday, November 24, 2006

CARM Plays a new Dumb Little Game

Up to this point the bans have always been limited, banned until some further time. Now it says "ban lifted: never." The descritipon says this is for continuing to insult other posters. When have I had the chance to do that? I have no been back on the CARM boards since late octobre. But I did recieve an eail form someone, one of the fundies, dregning up all the stuff from the summer. I saw no purpose in continuing the argument and told them. I gues this is what they consture as "continuing to insult." That and mentioning one of them on AARM. Of course they feel they can police other boards.

Well I will continue to insult them forever,I will never stop and it suits me that that moron Mat Slick wants to ban me "forever." He's banned forever, In fact I prounce anathatema him, he is dmaned and bound for hell. Good riddencence.

curse of the lambed wolfnik be upon. booga booga.

Pope Slick. he is totally unprofessional, not bright, silly, unable to run a message board like an adult.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Campbells are Coming!

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Certain arguments evoke from atheits a misguided use of a fallacy called "no true Scottsman." In their arrogant and misguided bill they are so sure this fallacy really proves something that they Here's what I've said about it before:


You Take the high road,
and I'll take the low road,
and I'll win the Argument,
before ye...

Me and Critical thinking,
will never meet again...


There is a ploy practiced by many atheist of the type who inhabit places such as the Secular Web and Infidel guy. It's been so institutionalized it's almost a mortar. In fact I've seen this kind of things so many times now, when the Christian apologists get together they can stamp it out, but no soon will they rid the net of one institutionalized atheist fallacy, than another will rear its ugly head.

The fallacy to which I reefer here is the "No true Scotsman," fallacy (NSF). I dot' know the etymology exactly, but the general idea is that in the heat of argument one is likely to say something like "no true American would ever (do whatever)" The way it's used is this:

Atheist claims something like "Hitler was a Christian." The Christian makes the mistake of saying "O but he wasn't a true Christian because bah, so the atheist says 'that's the NTSF So without even thinking about it, they just dogmatically declare anyone was ever a Christian of any kind to have always been one. Once a Christian always a Christian (unless you become an atheist a post on the secular we) and then anything you do that's negative pertains to Christianity as the upshot of being a chrisiatn. So Mao was a Christian because he heard a Bible verse once, therefore, Christianity makes you become the Chairman of the Chinese communist party and write little red books.

This has become such a mantra that it cancels any kind of critical thought. Anytime any apologist comes near any sort of questioning as to one's Christian credentials the atheist says something like "I hear bag pipes playing." We need to make up a Name for the fallacy of calling everything the no true Scotsman fallacy. What really amusing is that they are using the fallacy in the wrong way, as though they don't really know what it means! The true fallacy is aimed at people who try to use patriotism to win arguments. No true American would call for pulling out of Irak (or Vietnam or whatever hopeless mess we've gotten ourselves into this decade). But that is not the same as saying that any time one says "so and so Is not a Christian" it's the fallacy. That fallacy has nothing to do with the commitment level of a particular individual. It has to do with the way in which I construct another person's commitment level. If the commitment level of an individual can be demonstrated toward some affiliation then obviously that person can be said to be or not to be "a true so and so" (whatever it is). The only requisite criteria would be that there must be clear guidelines as to what a true so and so is about. That's why the no true Scotsman thing is a fallacy, because there is no way to know what a true Scotsman would say about any given issue, since being a Scotsman (or an American) is rarely a voluntary affiliation. Of course there are cases in which we CAN say no true Scotsman would do X and it not be fallacious. Fore example; no true Scotsman is born in China of Chinese patrents who have no relation of any kind to Scotland and who have never been to Scotland. Such a person hardly had any claim to being a Scotsman, but even in such a case the idea of being a Scotsman is still rather veg. Perhaps one could be a true Scotsman if one pinched pennies, played golf, kept sheep, ate fried Mars bars, and wore plad, even if one had never been to Scotland and was not of Celtic origin.

The idea of being a Christian is a bit more voluntary than being a Scotsman, thus it is a bit less difficult to pin down. This is true, moreover, because Jesus did says something about what his followers would do and would not do. We can say "no true Christian would be anti-Semitic" since Christ was Semitic. Since worshiping Jesus of Nazareth as the son of God is part of being a true Christian, and this is stated in the manifesto (the Bible) then we just might conclude that one who doesn't' do that is not a Christian. Moreover, the church itself laid down guidelines for being member of the Christian community (the church invented the word "Christian" not Jesus). Those guidelines are embodied in the creeds. So in fact yes we can exactly say with no fear of contradiction or of fallacy that no true Christian would ever say anything contrary to the creeds. Because to say that is to be an untrue Christian. Paul said no one by can say by the power of the Spirit "Jesus be cursed" (1 OCR). He was not committing the no true Scotsman fallacy. He was laying down a statement of spiritual fact. So we can say based upon this fact, "no true Christian prophet can say by the power of God that Jesus is cursed." This is a factual statement, given the assumptions of Christian belief. and not the NSF.

It would not be smart to concentrate too hard on stamping out this silly fallacy of the atheists. They will only replace it with another. In the mean time, we know to deal with it, we can always use it to our advantage. If it is a fallacy to argue that so and so wasn't' a Christian, because Christianity is very diverse and we can't say who is and who is not and the attempt to try is always a fallacy, then it must also be the same fallacy to say "all Christians do x." The idea that Christianity causes all these social harms and leads people to be right winners is also the same fallacy.


the thing is atheists always make known this fallacy with great fan fare. They are so sure they really have something that they will say "do you hear bag Pipes playing?" I have seen references to Scottish things on several boards in this connection. But he other day I was arguing with an atheist who said "Christians have murdered millions of people."

Of course I say "these are not good Christians, they are not following true Christian teaching." Of course he says "the Cambells are coming, do you hear bag pipes, for a tha' and tha', the best laid plans of Mice and Men, flow gently sweet Aften" or whatever scottish stuff reminds one that the good old No true Scotsman fallacy is being trotted out.

I said atheists have murdered millions of people. Stalin and Mao murdered 79million between them.

to which he atheist says "they weren't real atheists, they were just communists and that doesn't count. Communists aren't eral atheists."

Do you hear Bag pipes playing? coud you loan me four bob I have to post a letter?

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Atheist Abhorence of Logic

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Again on a message board I find an atheist who abhors logic.He can't answer my cosmological argument, so he just pronounces that it's nothing more than defining God into existence" and a "bunch of Philosophical gobaldy goup." OF course this is nothing more than running from the obvious. He could stand firm and argument that my arguments are not logical, but chooses to just dismiss it all. This is because atheists seem to have predilection for the empirical and genuine dread of formal logic.

Even though he doesn't say so I'm sure he's reacting to the categories of necessity and contingency (N/c). He thinks these are arbitrary definitions that can just be discarded. The supreme irony is that without them you can't have cause and effect. without c/e you can't have empiricism or naturalism. Let me try to demonstrate all this:


(1) Categories are necessary:


The most basic category we can make is being and nothingness. This is the basis of al metaphysical reflection. Either X exists concetely in the space/time world or it does not. If X exists then it muts exist either of necessity, meaning it cannot fail to exist, or it's existence is dependent upon some prior condition, thus it could fail to exist. In other words, for example, there did not ever have to be a flying red horse on the Magnolia building in Dallas Texas of the 1930s. That symbol of what latter became Mobil oil could have been anything else if the designer of the logo has chosen it. So the current location of the red horse, which is still on a building in Dallas, although now hidden by much taller buildings, did not have to resemble Pegesus, the flying horse of Greek myth, and it did not have to be red. These are contingencies. So are the two basic modes of being apart form en spoir and por soir. Since both en soir and por soir (in itself and for itself--categories Heidegger and Sartre make important in phenomenology and existentialism) are both contingent fomrs of being, this distinction and these categories are even more crucial and basic than sentience or inanimation. Being for itself (por Soir) is sentient conscious being. Being in itself (en soir) is not sentient or conscious. But both are contignent.

There is no logical way to get around these categories. Even if one cannot find an example of a necessary existant, one can find that all causes are certainly necessary to their effects, unless we want to view everything as merely probabalistic. Without the categories of necessety and contingency it is meaningless to talk about cause and effect in times arrow; because there is ability to speak of a contingency which depends for its existence upon a prior cause. One could just change the terms. But using cause and effect rather than contingency and necessity really would not cut it. contingency and necessity are more general, they include cause and effect but are not limited to them. Thus describe the range of conditions not directly related to causes, such as the nature of a prior conditions or set of conditions and it's relation to the existence of an effect. The example I always give is that of a fish and its relation to dependence upon water. Water does not cause fish but without it fish do not survive. Thus water is a necessary condition to fish without being their direct cause, they are a prior condition to the survival of fish. The upshot of this in terms of the cosmological argument is that Quantum particals seem not to be directly caused, but they certainly seem to require some prior conditons (never observed apart form time and seem dependent upon time, phsyical law, vacuum flux).


(2) Cause and effect is necessary to empiricism.


The great Irony is that the very alternative that most atheists use to save them from the logic of God argments would not be possible if in fact the logic of God arguments was nothing more than "defining God into existence." It is only if we have cause and effect, which in turn is dependent upon the categories of contingency and nescessity, can we have the very empiricism that atheists would use as an alternative! This is obvious since without cause and effect there is corrolation, or rather without the ability to assume some form of caual connection, there's point in making empirical observations.

Here the idea of categoeis of N/c are even more crucial because without having resort to a proven empirical basis for c/e one can use N/c and and draw probalistic correlations while avoiding direct cause and effect.


(3) Naturalism linked to Cause and effect.




1) The notion of something from nothing voilates basic assumptions of materialism


a. Materailism based upon cause and effect


Dictonary of Philosphy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism"

"...the belief that everything that exists is ethier matter or entirely dependent upon matter for its existence." Center For Theology and the Natural Sciences Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999) http://www.ctns.org/Information/information.html Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?(this source is already linked above)

"...Beyond the Christian community there was even greater unease. One of the fundamental assumptions of modern science is that every physical event can be sufficiently explained solely in terms of preceding physical causes. Quite apart from its possible status as the moment of creation, the Big Bang singularity is an offence to this basic assumption. Thus some philosophers of science have opposed the very idea of the Big Bang as irrational and untestable."



b) Something from nothing contraidicts materialism


Science and The Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead.
NY: free Press, 1925, (1953) p.76

"We are content with superficial orderings form diverse arbitrary starting points. ... sciene which is employed in their deveopment [modern thought] is based upon a philosophy which asserts that physical casation is supreme, and which disjoins the physical cause from the final end. It is not popular to dwell upon the absolute contradiction here involved."[Whitehead was an atheist]



c) Causality was the basis upon which God was expelled from Modern Science

It was La Plase's famous line "I have no need of that Hypothosis" [meaning God] Which turned the scientific world form beliving (along with Newton and assuming that order in nature proved design) to unbelief on the principle that we dont' need God to explain the univrese because we have independent naturalistic cause and effet. [Numbers, God and Nature]


2) Materilism Undermines Itself


a) Big Bang contradicts causality (see quotation above)


b) QM theory seems to contradict cause/effect relationship.


c) Rejection of final cause


3) Probabalistic Justification for assumption of Cause

We still have a huge justification for assuming causes inductively, since nothing in our experince is ever uncaused. The mere fact that we can't see or find a cause isn't a proof that there isn't one.


4) Therefore, we have probabalistic justification for assuming Final cause

Thus, the basis upon which God was dismissed from scientific thought has been abandoned;the door to consideration of God is open again. The reliance upon naturalistic cause and effect in consideration of ultimate origins is shattered, but this does not make it rational to just assume that the universe opoped into existence with no cause. Since we have vast precident for assuming cause and effect, we should continue to do so. But since naturalistic cause and effect seems unnecessary at the cosmic level, we should consider the probablity of an ultimate necessary final cause.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Answering atheists on Divine Command Theory

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Skeptics often attack Christian morality by arguing the old Euthaphore dilemma from Plato: is morality good becasue the gods like it, or do the gods like it because it's good? If the former than it is an arbitrary whim, and if the latter than here is something that is higher than God.

The point for the atheist is to put God in a Bind and to show that God can't be the greatest concieveable being. If God has to keep to morality because it is a higher independent standard than God is not the greatest, but if morality is good just becasue God likes it than it is merely a whim or a matter of taste. Let's ignore the fact that if God is real his tatste and whims might just be more important than ours.


Critique of "Can the Bible (or Any) God Support an Absolute Morality?"


by Tim Gorski, M. D.

The world is in moral decay, say the theists, because of "moral relativism." Only a divine power makes possible an absolute standard of right and wrong, they say. And yet, entirely aside from the evil that men (and women) do, there is much that is terrible and unjust in the world, so that if there be a God, we realize, He can not be both all-good and all-powerful. Because if He were, He would put an end to such things.


Gorski tries to sneak in the Theodicy bit but it doens't wash because he fails to account for the necessity of free will in maintaining a moral universe. Moral universe has to be predicated upon free will, which means moral choices must allow for possibility of wrong choices. This is because a "moral universe" doesn't merely mean a universe in which everyone is moral, but one in which there is possiblity of being moral. Since morality invovles chioces, this necessitates free will, otherwise there is no true moral choice. Morlaity is about diliberating over and choosing the Good.

Gorski goes on:



But I'm afraid the situation is much, much worse even than that. Four hundred years before Jesus Christ is supposed to have been born, Socrates asked "whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods." Socrates also observed that the gods--plural-- argued and disagreed about right and wrong as much as human beings. He got around this by supposing that that which all the gods approved was the good, and that which they all objected to was the evil, and that all else was neither good nor evil. He might just as well have considered the problem of a single god-- like that of the Christian Bible--who's inconsistent about what is beloved. But, as we know only too well, there simply is no honest way out of contradictions like that.


So let's just consider a strictly theoretical situation. Just for the sake of argument, let's suppose there's a God, and that He, She, or It is the absolute standard of morality. Is right and wrong then simply no more than this God's say-so? Or is what is right loved by this God and what is wrong hated by this God because of what right and wrong are in themselves?



God himself Is the standard of the Good. He is synonimous with the good which exists in the mind of God. So it's not a matter of this false dilemma, is God idependent of the standards or does he have to follow the standards himself. He is the standards himself!

Gorski drives home his point:

In the first instance, if good and evil are no more than the product of the will of a divine power, and if that will is truly free, then such a God could, with a thought, cause what we consider to be the most repugnant and heinous criminal act to become the highest virtue. Now the further question would arise, of course, as to whether if this happened we would know it. Why? Because of "the moral law within us," as the philosopher Immanuel Kant put it, or "the work of the law written in our hearts," as "Saint Paul" acknowledged ( Romans 2: 15). If morality is the say-so of a God, then presumably, like the gravitational effects of a massive body, any change in His (or Her or Its) will would cause our own consciences to be instantaneously altered.



But here we have a real problem, because Kant thought that the moral standards have a logical force all there own, and Paul would probably agree with me that God is synonimous with them. So that's just atheistic "cut and paste" logic that doesn't apply. And in fact the whole question is based upon misconstruing the nature of God vis a vi moral standards. God = the good!

Gorski demonstreates the limited view point mandated by his assumptions:

I've never heard of this happening, though.
At any rate, if there is a God, and if this God's will determines what is right and wrong, then this supposed God's being all-good is no more than His (or Her or Its) being all-powerful. Is that an absolute morality? I don't think so. Rather, it's a morality that's completely relative to His (or Her or Its) desire. In a word--well, three actually--it's *might makes right*. It's another version of the law of the jungle. How's that for an admirable system of morality?


But notice the slippery slope argument whereby he slides from a question about God's relation to morality to one of a mere case of "Might makes right." This is accomplished by making the will the the basic fulcrum upon which moral leverage is gained and then sliding things away from the notion of standards altogether. But of course if Standards are based upon God's character it is not merely a matter of tastes, God is not merely commanding "do X, don't do Y" just because God likes X and not Y in the same way that one likes potato chips and not pretzles. But divie command is actually based upon the way "God is," and that is the same as saying "upon the way reailty is." This is because God is necessary being, the ground of being, and all that exists flows out of that. Even the potential of being comes out of the mind of God. so "the way God is" is in essence the nature of reality. God is love, and thus love is the background of the moral universe. This is not something God just up and decided one day, it is the result of the nature of God. It could not be otherwise because it is predicated upon more than will but upon the nature of God.

At this point Gorski dilivers the punch line:

The only uncertainty remaining is whether it's more or less pathetic than the alternative situation of a God who is Himself (or Herself or Itself) subject to a logically anterior or prior standard of morality. That would be the case in the second instance of things that are good being beloved by God because they're good, because, of course, that puts God on the same level with human beings. It makes Him (or Her or It) irrelevant.
Well, we know He--or She or It--is irrelevant. That's why we're revolted by such Biblical stories as that of Yahweh asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering--as if an all-good God could be pleased by a criminal act. Did Abraham really think he was flattering Yahweh to agree to do such a thing? It's curious that this same God is also supposed to have issued orders of mass extermination, orders that "The Good Book" tells us were actually carried out with less hesitation than Abraham had in preparing to kill his own son.



This is just the other horn of the bull that supports the two horns of this dilemma. First, if it were true, it wouldn not make God irrelivant because God would still be our best bet for knowing what the standards are. But secondly, the crucial point, There is no standard of ethics idependent of God to which God must be subject. But the Good is based upon the character, not the?will alone, of God.

Gorski quipts:

Well, so much for theistic "absolute morality." It's anything but.





Of course he hasn't said anyhting about absolute morality. He hasn't touched the need for it, nor the notion that without it all meaning of moral motions are reduced to nothing more than matters of taste. But he certainly hasn't indicated why it should be impossible. IF God were subject to it there might still be a situation by which God is subject to a standard, say one predicated upon logical extensions from ultiamte values, and thereby certainly not be irrelivant since we still must know what they are. God having created us would put that standard into us as a natural part of us, but we have many conflucting notions and still need help. But the fact of the matter is the whole dilemma is false and silly, because God is neither subject to an idependent standard, nor guilty of einforcing pure matters of taste. But is synonmous with that standard as the center of consciosuenss which judges ethical axioms. Moral standards imply judgement, since unlike physical laws they can't simpley "be right" without some mind to understand and apply them. God is that mind. Since God is necessary being, and all else is predicated upon God's creative act, the essence of moral standards is predicated upon God's own character and perfection. Now that that point The aurthor has failed to provide any reason for us to think that such standards can't exist, or to explain why God is not crucial in our knowing what they are, and enforcing them!






Divine Command Theory according to Internet Encyclopidia of Philosphyis the view that moral actions are those which conform to God's will. Charity, for example, is morally proper because God endorses it, and murder is wrong because God condemns it. There are both normative and metaethical versions of this theory. The normative version proposes a test for determining whether any action is right or wrong: if it conforms to God's will, it is morally permissible, if it does not, then it is impermissible. As a normative theory, the divine command theory is difficult to maintain given the epistemological problems of accessing the will of God. The metaethical version simply makes the factual claim that God's will is the foundation of morality. Here, the content of God's will does not have to be explored.


So again, we have the same basic assertions of the false dilemma. Some atheists seems to think that repetition is the key to truth. This notion that Divine command theory lacks any factual knowlege is of course silly. We don't need some Divine fact finding committe to deduce 'facts' for us. It is merely logical; God is necessary all else is contingent upon God, therefore, morality is contingent upon God as well. But in chalcking it all up to God's will the straw man is created. It is not merely a matter of will but of God's nature itself which writes morality into the universe. This is logical given the nature of metaphysical heirarchies. God is the transcendental signified giving meaning to all else.




As a metaethical theory, there are three ways that the divine command theory can be understood. The weakest version claims only that, within certain religious communities, the meaning of the statement, "charity is good," is that God wills us to be charitable. This version has only limited implications. Although it may represent the views of a particular religious group, it has no bearing on what those outside that group mean by the statement "charity is good." A stronger version of the divine command theory concedes that charity is morally good in and of itself, but that God's will provides us with the motivation to be charitable. On this view, only the religious believer has the motivation to be moral. Theoretically, unbelievers could also act morally, but it would only be by accident since unbelievers would lack the motivation for consistent moral behavior. The strongest version of the divine command theory states that morality is a creation of God's will. According to this view, charity is good because God has willed that charity is good. The claim here is not about what particular communities mean by the word "good" or what motivations people have to be good. Instead, the claim is that moral conduct is identical to the conduct which God commands of us. This final version of the divine command theory is the most controversial, and has been criticized from several angles.(Internet Encyclopedia)


Again,this is not coming to terms with he distinction between will and nature.


GENERAL CRITICISMS.

During the Enlightenment, the divine command theory fell under attack from two distinct camps. One group argued that moral standards, like mathematical truths, are eternal and fixed in the nature of universe. Philosophers such as Samuel Clarke argued that moral values can be intuitively perceived and, again, like mathematical truths, can be understood by any rational being. Since God is a rational being, then God, too, endorses these eternal standards of morality. However, God's mere acceptance of moral standards in no way creates them, and in that sense is no different than a human's acceptance of moral standards. A second group argued that moral standards are fundamentally human-based, and are neither fixed in the nature of the universe, nor in the will of God. For example, Thomas Hobbes argued that moral standards are necessary human conventions which keep us out of a perpetual state of war. Others, such as Hume and Mill, argued that they are based on human instinct. In either case, God's will is irrelevant to ethical standards.(Ibid)


And of course he's left out most of the major ethicists of the englightenement and pre-enlightement (England). For example Shaftisburry who thought that the good is natural and part of nature, thus it is in man to be good, if only we can "hook up with nature." And John Locke who agreed to an extent but also argued for Divine command theory as a deontological basis for a social contract (see The Two Treatesies ON Govement). And Joeph Buttler, who argued that God as the author of nature is also the author of moral valaues. And of course all of this side steps the real issue, the Augustinian position of "re-valuing the values" of the empire. The forms are in the Mind of God" thus the moral standards are in the mind of God. They are not independent but proceed from the nature of God's character.


In more recent times, the divine command theory has been attacked on two principle grounds. First, if morality is a dictate of God's will, then it is conceivable that God could choose to reverse the present state of morality and thus make evil actions moral. That is, God could make murder or stealing morally permissible if he chose. The theologian's reply to this possibility is that God would not reverse the moral standards he has created since God himself is infinitely good, and God would not will anything which is contrary to his own good nature. This reply, however, leads to the second problem with the divine command theory. If moral goodness is merely a creation of God's will, then the phrase "God is good" becomes meaningless. For, by definition, "God is good" would simply mean that God's nature is in accord with what he wills. Since there are no pre-existing moral restrictions to what God can will, then even if God was malicious, he would be good. Clearly, this makes nonsense of the notion of goodness.(Ibid)


The argument is putting the cart before the horse. It makes will the prime mover and nature of God the recipient of the move. But if we reverse it, and say that morality is an extension of what God is, God's character, and the standards of morality are merely applications of this, than the problem is solved. It is no longer meaningless to say that God is good, but rather we should say that God is The GOOD. To say "there are no pre-existing moral restrictions to what God can will," is the essence of his argument. But of course there are, since God can't will to violate his own nature! So what could have been a cogent attack just becomes the same old same ol'e because he can't get the drift on the forms being in the mind of God! The very potential for goodness comes out of what God is, since all that comes to be is contingent upon God, including the potential for what comes to be. Thus it cannot be said that the evil could be made good through an act of God's will because the contemplation of such an act is meaningless.


QUINN'S DEFENSE.

There has recently been a revived interest in divine command theory, particularly defending it against criticisms which have accumulated over the decades. In his essay, "The primacy of God's Will in Christian Ethics," Philip Quinn goes on the offensive and presents three arguments for why the divine command theory should be accepted by traditional theistic. Quinn concedes that his arguments will not carry weight for those outside the theistic traditions. Nevertheless, his arguments show the reasons which might incline a theist to adopt the divine command theory. Quinn's first argument is derived from what has been called the "immoralities of the patriarchs." In the Hebrew Bible, several of the Hebrew patriarchs are presented as committing seemingly immoral acts at God's command. Following the lead of medieval theologians, Quinn argues that these stories illustrate that moral standards are indeed creations of God. In these cases, God is temporarily revoking previously established moral standards for special purposes.(Ibid.)



Of course here the argument against Quinn, made by the Encycolpeida article, assumes that Christian ethics is predicated upon the historicity of the Biblical text.

the articel moves on to Quinn's second arguement:


Quinn's second argument is distinctly Christian and draws from Jesus' command that we should love everyone. For Quinn, this is not merely an endorsement of a pre-existing standard of morality, since it is contrary to human nature to love everyone. It is in fact a new standard which was created by God's pronouncement.(Ibid)



AGain, bad "fundie!" BAD "Fundie!" IT's not a "new standard!" God is love. The nature of what love is is syonimous with God's nature. "Not a new command I write to you..." (1 JOhn) Love is the background of the moral universe because God is the background of the moral universe and it can't be any other way! It is a necessary state of affirs, as much as God being the ultiamte final cause (if God exists all necessary caveats) couldn't be any other way!



Quinn's third argument derives from the notion of divine sovereignty.




Traditional theism holds that God is sovereign and in complete control of the universe. If this is so, then it seems that God is in control of moral standards, and, thus, the creator of moral standards. A problem occurs, though, when determining how far God's control extends. Michael Loux, for example, argues that God is absolutely sovereign and that if God happened to believe unconditionally that 2+2=3, then that would make 2+2=3.



You mean it doens't?

the article states:

Quinn argues that this interpretation leads to absurd conclusions, and is therefore unacceptable. Nevertheless, the theist should accept as strong a version of sovereignty as possible (barring absurdity).



Of course it doesnt' say why we should do that. That's a theolgoical diecison which is being rammed in as one person's interpritation, and a Calvinist one, of what Christiantiy is about. This can't be used to set the agenda for all moral defense nor can it be uased as I fear it is here, as a straw man to force debate alone certain lines and ignore "out of the box" directions.

But never fear, the major theologican (nameless) who wrote that artcile will define define soverignty for us:


A more narrow and more acceptable version of sovereignty is one where God is in control over moral standards, but not over math or logic. This bypasses the absurdities of absolute sovereignty. On this more narrow view, if God unconditionally believes specific moral standards, then this makes them so. Given that there is a connection between what God believes and what God wills, then this narrow version of sovereignty entails that moral standards are creations of God's will.


So all he's managed to do is drag out a conservative view that plays into his hands by arguing just what he says they should argue. It's just a straw man that forces us into a narrow corner defending a narrow version of Christianity. All the while everyone in the debate has refussed to think about the true nature of moral standards, as dirived from God's nature, rather than his will.



NIELSEN'S CRITICISMS.

Kai Nielsen arues that morality is not founded upon the commands of God.

Nielsen begins by presenting the classic dilemma of theological morality, as appears in Plato's dialog, The Euthyphro. Plato argues that there are two ways to see the relation between God and morality: (1) God creates the standards of morality, or (2) God himself is subject to standards of morality which are independent of him. Traditionally, each of these options are seen to have unfavorable consequences. If God creates morality, then God could make murder or stealing morally permissible if he chose. If, on the other hand, God is subject to external standards of morality, then he loses some of his greatness. Nielsen presents six arguments which show that the second of these two options is by far the most preferable.(Ibid)



This is just a rehash, and probably the original source or much of the atheist clamour. For an answer to the whole problem of both Euthephro and divine command theory, we turn to Augustine, who re-valued the values of the Roman empire. He re-made them based upon Chrsitian values. The first step was to put the froms in the mind of God. So What was merely pantheon of non-creating gods for Socrates (or at best a "prime mover" for Arosotle) Becomes the God of the Chrsitian faith, necessary being, the ground of being, in whom we live and move and have our being, and in whom the forms are merely a product of mind. This makes all the difference, because it means that there is no dilemma of a seperate standard of morality to which God must be subject or that the good is merely an act of God's wil or a matter of his personal tastes. The standards are in God' mind and they are a product of what God is! Neilsen is merely reitorating the same old tired dilemma which is jundiced anyway becaue it never was based on a being analogous to the Christian God!