Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Power Over Her Own Head (part 2)

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Analyzing each verse one at a time...

(7)For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image R424 and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.(8)For man R425 does F116 not originate from woman, but woman from man; (9)for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman R426 for the man's sake.

This passage could easily be taken for an endorsement of subjection. "Man was not made for woman, but woman for man." On the other hand, woman was made for man, but not to be subject to him. In the section of Genesis we showed that the term "helper" ezer does not mean a subordinate but an equal, a source of strength. Here Paul is addressing those influenced by (or potentially so) the Gnostic faction. He is alluding to the creation of male and female in the garden. The point being to reaffirm marriage as a commitment, a mutuality, guided by agope and the original view of creation. This is why the woman should not run around dressed like an adulteress or "hooker," because God's plan calls for a marital union in love and good faith. The wife is a source of strength or even a kind of protection (Emotional) for the husband. At the same time Paul is taking a slap at the Gnostic view that woman was created first, and that the Gnostic initiate is freed from gender.

(v10)Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

This is one of the most obscure passages in the Bible. No one has a clear idea of what it means, so I will deal with the angels after dealing with the first part of he verse. a symbol of authority on her head. That certainly sounds like a command to subordination. The problem is, its translated wrongly! Not only is the translation bad, but it has been (purposely?) batched so as to indicate the exact opposite of what it says. It should read for these reasons, the woman should have power over her own head. Or, "she should be able to decide for herself whether or not to cover her head." This is not a radical proposal, it's something that most Greek scholars know well, and have known so for a long time. Sir William Ramsay, the great archaeologist who, at the turn of the last century, proved so much accuracy for the book of Acts, and established Luke as a valid historian, openly mocked the traditional rendering! He called it "a preposterous idea which a Greek scholar would laugh at anywhere (except in the New Testament, where they seem to think Greek words can mean anything commentators choose." (see Ramsay, Cities of ST. Paul (Londong: holder) 1907, 203).

The word exousian (exousian) means "liberty," "privilege," "authority" but of a kind that is one's own. The Centurian told Christ, "I am a man under authority. I say to one 'go' and he goes and 'come' and he comes." He describes himself as one who must be obeyed, but says he is "under authority," why? Because that is the word exousian. the Centurion's authority was delegated by Rome, but it was his own authority to wield as he saw his duty. It was his privilege to command as he saw fit. The word means one's own power, it does not mean "to be under subjection." It is the woman's own power to veil or not, as she sees fit. Ramsay himself proved this in the Cities of St.Paul. On one of his digs he found a statue of a woman, the inscription of what clamed that she had "three powers on her head." This was Ramsey's rendering, and it was the same word. This meant, she was the wife, daughter and mother of kings.

Intermediate Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon (Oxford, 1983) defines the word: I."Power or authority to do a thing. Magestry, the body of mageistrtes, authirities, powers." II. "Means, resources."

It certianly looks to me as though that word is entirely concerned with the ability of the bearer to work by his/her own peragative, and not subjection to teh authority of another. The Barclay Newman Greek Dictionary defines it as "liberty, power, authority, to be in subjection or to wear a viel." I showed that to my Greek teacher (a Classicist from Yale) who laughed himself silly saying "the Greeks never had a word like that!" This just shows the bias of Christian publications on this topic.

dia touto ofeilei h gunh exousian ecein epi ths kefalhs dia tous aggelous

dia touto, because of all this, because of this, ofeileishould, h gunh the woman exousian ecein epi ths kefalhs have power over her own head.

William P. Welty, ISV foundation,"Rethinking the Veil:Another Approach to I Corinthians 11:2-16" agrees and presents other examples where exousia illustrates the authority of the bearer. He argues that every time exousia is used in the NT his bears this meaning.Examples he provides

Luke 9:1 believers given it over demons
Rev 2:26 given to those who overcome
5Rev 6:8 destroying angel to slaughter 1/4 of the world
Rev 13:7 anti-Christ given to beat up the saints

(William Welty is the Executive Director of The ISV Foundation of Yorba Linda, California. The ISV Foundation produces the Holy Bible:International Standard Version.

Here's a problem. The connecting phrase is "dia" meaning "for this reason." So for what reason? What came before is that the woman should cover her head because woman is made for man. How does this make sense? The woman should have her own authority to decide about veiling because she was made for man? The phrase dia touto means "because of this, for this reason," so he's saying because of this whole idea I've been developing; the Christian concept of marriage, the whole purpose of God in creation of genders, to be one flesh and to help each other. The woman should have her own right to decide, not because she was created to be a salve and serve man, but because she is created in God's image like the man, and is equal with him in the economy of God. All of this Paul is driving at and leading up to. The second reason he gives backs this up:

And because of the angels. No one has given a satisfactory account of this verse except Kate Bushnell. Tertullian ascribed it to lust; women's faces cause angel to lust (which I think tells us more about Tertullian than it does about angels). Some have said these are human messengers (angeloi) who will see the woman looking like hookers and get the wrong idea. That is possible but it would be a pretty kryptic remark. Bushnell has the most fitting and logical answer:

When the disciples asked the Lord which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus set a child in their midst, and informed them that until they humbled themselves as such they could not even enter that kingdom. From the child He transferred the lesson to "one of these little ones that believe on Me," i.e., to the believer humblest in rank among them, saying, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father who is in heaven," Matthew18:10. The words in verse 10 bear the translation, "because of her angels," the definite article in Greek often having the force of a possessive pronoun, and thus the verse should have been rendered. Paul taught that "angels" were inferior in rank to redeemed man, 1 Corinthians 6:3. They are ministering spirits to us, Hebrew 1:14. Yet the most despised women's angels stand before God, with no intervening veil, and behold His face. Shall not woman be permitted to do as much as her "ministering spirits" are allowed to do? Man unveils because Christ, his Head, is unveiled before God. Woman "ought to have the right" to unveil because not only is Christ, her spiritual Head, unveiled before God, but man, her matrimonial head, also; and, if this were not enough, then her ministering spirits "do always behold the face" of God. This is the Apostle's argument. Shall man attempt to require that woman veil out of respect for his authority (?) over her? Not when God does not require man to veil out of respect for God's authority over man.

The women's guardian angels behold the face of God unveiled, why shouldn't the women?

Bushnell (GWTW)
244. A little historical evidence at this point ought to go a long way. If the Apostle, as is so often assumed, was accustomed to forbid women unveiling, how did it come to pass that women "sat unveiled in the assemblies in a separate place, by the presbyters," and were "ordained by the laying on of hands," until the eleventh canon of the Church Council of Laodicea forbade it, in 363 A.D.? I give the account in the words of Dean Alford in his comments on 1 Timothy 5:9; the same admission is made by Conybeare and Howson in their Life of St Paul, and stands undisputed in church history.

(11)However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent F117 of man, nor is man independent F117 of woman.

Paul is saying, the woman should have the right to decide for her self, but she should choose to viel. The rights of the individual should not be taken away, but no one person outweighs the importance of spreading the Gospel. Women should be able to decide such matters on their own, but they should choose rightly. We are not islands, we are interconnected. This not only puts the responsiblity upon the woman to choose rightly, it also frees her from the spectre of a metaphysical hieararchy. Here he goes on to deconstruct the seeming hieararchy he appeared to be constructing:

(v12)For as the woman originates F118 from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all R427 things originate F119 from R428 God.

If there is any authority in man being made first, it is disrupted by the fact that all things go back to God, and both genders are created in the divine image.

Now comes a torturous bit of logic in which Paul seems to strain credibility.

(13)Judge R429 for F120 yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
(14)Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him,

Well frankly, for those of us who grew up in the 1960s, in the Bible belt, this was an over used verse between about 1965-1970. Frankly, no one under 20 could see the logic in it then, and I'm still trying. How could nature tell us that, how could it tell Paul that? The Nazerites, Sampson, John the Baptist, nothing we know of in Hebrew culture would have led St. Paul to believe that it was a shame for a man to have long hair. Certainly nature doesn't tell us that, where the lion has the long hair, the horse, many other animals.

As Bushnell said "it is the Barber who tells us that."

She goes on to Point out:

14) "Nor[3] doth even the nature itself [of hair] teach you," etc. Our idiomatic English would say, to express the same idea, "There is nothing in the nature of hair itself to teach you,"¾a simple statement that appeals to everybody's common sense, while, as a question, this is an absurdity. The entire Chinese nation of men disproves the statement of theologians that Nature gives women long hair and men short hair. No artist would dare paint a portrait of Jesus Christ with short hair. Is His hair "a shame" to Him?

Bushnell changes the reading to the more logical "nor doth even nature..." there is in fact no reason to make it interogative. Welty agrees and follows Bushnell;it is proper for a woman to pray without head covering, nature in no way teaches, on the one hand, that if a man has (long) hair it puts him to shame nor does it teach on the other, that a woman's hair is her glory. this is true because hair is given as a substitute or man made coverings.

anti= substitute, Hooker agrees with Welty (6).

Welty courageously translates the passage in the only way that it makes sense (in the ISV).

How can it be that a woman is dishonoring her head if she goes without a viel, but hair is given her for a covering? That implies that going bear headed (but with hair) would be the same as dishonoring her husband, that's the original offense! Paul says if she doesn't cover her head she appears as the women who shave their heads. That would indicate that she's just without a hat or a scarf on her head. But how can hair be both what is given her to replace a covering, and the original offense for which she must make amaense by covering it up?

Welty noticed these problems too, his translation for the ISV reflects the logical solution:

(13)It is proper for a woman t pray to God Without head covering. (14)Nature in no way teaches, on the one hand, that if a man has hair it puts him to shame. (15) nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory. all of this is true because hair is given as a substitute for man made coverings (16) but if anyone seems to be disturbed by all this niether we nor the chuches of God have any such custom.

Welty's explaination for this approach is to essentially remove the interogative and transforms the rhetorical questions into posative statments.

First, the term "long" is not in the text. The term is usually inserted into English by the translator to complete the thought.

The construction on the one hand...on the other hand is justified by the presence of the linking partaciples "men..de:" (in red) "nature in no way teaches that on the one hand if a man has [long?] hair...nor does it teach on the other hand that a woman's hair is her glory." That men-de construction for on the one hand, on the other hand is just basic first year Greek, which I actually happen to remmber. "all of this is true by the causal principle "'oti."

"hair is given as a subsitute for a manmade covering" Welty jutifies by the presence of "anti." He points out that anti as meaning substitution is so well known doesn't need documentation, but he points to Hooker to back him up. The term "man made" he supplies himself, just as the former translator supplied "long." But that is called for by the sense of the passage. The removal of an interrogative is justfied by the logical fit of he meaning, as well as the fact that the interogative ear marks could just as well be negations; oude means "neither, not."

Here is my own interliniar:

13)It is proper for a woman t pray to God Without head covering. (13) en umin autois krinate prepon estin gunaika akatakalupton tw qew proseucesqai
(14)Nature in no way teaches, on the one hand, that if a man has hair it puts him to shame. (14) oude h fusis auth didaskei umas oti anhr men ean koma atimia autw estin
(15) nor does it teach on the other that a woman's hair is her glory. all of this is true because hair is given as a substitute for man made coverings (15) gunh de ean koma doxa auth estin oti h komh anti peribolaiou dedotai auth [auth]
(16) but if anyone seems to be disturbed by all this niether we nor the chuches of God have any such custom.
(16) ei de tis dokei filoneikos einai hmeis toiauthn sunhqeian ouk ecomen oude ai ekklhsiai tou qeou

Paul gives women the power to decide for themselves about veling, even though he has an opinion as to what the proper choice would be. Because he gives this power to women, and he wants men to unviel (as it indicates condemnation) he is not calling from female subjugation, but quite the oppossite. He re-affirms equality and the right to women to serve God as they feel called, while at the same time re-affirming the value of marriage and the original plan of unity between the sexes in God's original design of creation; that desing is re-invigorated through the Chruch, women helped to spread that massage in Paul's day just as they do in our own.

Power Over Her own Head

I am moving this week. I wanted to write three new peices for the blog, but I just dont' have time. I figure tiem for a golden olide, besides, it's also time I get back to my crusade to make the egalitarian arguemnts more familiar to people. So here, without further adue, is my coverage of 1 Cor 11:3-16, commonly translated 'she should have a symbol of subjection on her head' but really should be read "she sould should have power over her own head."

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1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (3)But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every
man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
(4)Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying
disgraces his head.
(5)But every woman who has her head uncovered while
praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the
woman whose head is shaved.
(6)For if a woman does not cover her head, let
her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her
hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
(7)For a man ought
not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the
woman is the glory of man.
(8)For man does not originate from woman, but
woman from man; (9)for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but
woman for the man's sake.
(10)Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of
authority on her head, because of the angels.
(11)However, in the Lord,
neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.
(12)For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth
through the woman; and all things originate from God.
(13)Judge for
yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
(14)Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is
a dishonor to him,
(15)but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?
For her hair is given to her for a covering.
(16)But if one is inclined to
be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

Before examining the passage we need to understand the situation in Corinth. The reputation of Corinth is such that when we think of that church, we usually think of wild parties, people getting drunk in church, sexual escapades and the like. It is, therefore, easy to overlook the fact that a very powerful "Judaizing" faction was also present. This is clear, there can be no doubt of it from reading 2 Corinthians. That is where, in chapters 11-12 Paul is goaded into boasting of his Hebrew heritage and the trials he has endured for the Lord. There are hints of this faction and it's mendacity toward Paul in 1 Corinthians, where he speaks about "Apollos" and the "super apostles." The faction may not have chimed in and entered the debate until they received the first letter. It is logical to assume that Paul's statements about women speaking, his rebuke of those silencing women, may have stirred them up, but there is no reason to assume that they came in between the two letter. For this reason was should assume that Paul walked a tight rope in addressing the Corinthians. On the one hand, he had to watch himself in relation to those easily swayed by this anti-Pauline faction. On the other hand, there were also the gnostics.

There were Gnostics at Corinth and they were making things difficult, probably feeding the licentious reputation of the Corinthians. Fred Layman, of Northwestern Nazarene University tells us:

Wesley Center Online
"Male Headship in Paul's Thought"
april 2004
Wesley Center for Applied Theology
Northwest Nazerine University

Historical studies have increasingly shown the pervasive presence of Gnosticism
in the background of several New Testament books, especially those which are
important for this discussion-1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians,
and the Pastorals. At this stage Gnosticism was not so much a defined religious
philosophy as it was a radical pneumatic disposition which was diffused
throughout many religions including Judaism and Christianity.


12Constance F. Parvey, "The Theology and Leadership of Women
in the New Testament," in Reuther, Religion and Sexism, p. 121.13Ibid., pp.
121f.14Walter Schmithals, Gnosticism in Corinth (New York: Abingdon, 1971), pp.
160f.15Ernst Kasemann, New Testament Questions of Today (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1971), p. 71.

Among the doctrines of the Corinthian gnostics were the ideas that the initiate was no longer gendered, and that the initate was above the dictates of morality, especially sexaul morality:

One other belief among the Gnostics is important for our consideration, the idea of androgyny. The pneumatic who has attained perfection and who belongs to the transcendent world is no longer a man or a woman. Those orders belong to this world. Spirit endowment obliterates such distinctions. That which appeared to be men and women was in actuality perfected spirits who were asexual.17 By this doctrine, Gnosticism was one more of several religions which served as vehicles for the emancipation of females and, as a result, attracted large numbers of women.18(Ibid).

16Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion (Boston: Beacon Press, 1953), pp. 270-77; E. M. Yamauchi, Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), pp. 24-34. 17The view of some gnostic circles was that women ceased to exist as women and were transformed into men, cf. Parvey, "Theology and Leadership of Women," p.134. For the Greek background of the androgynous concept and later uses of it in Judaism and Christianity, see Paul K. Jewett, Man as Male and Female (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975), pp. 24-28.18Schmithals, Gnosticism in Corinth, p. 245.19Ibid., p. 179.20G. B. Caird, "Paul and Women's Liberty," Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 54 (1971/72):272f.

(v3)But I want you to understand that Christ F112* is the head R418 of every man, and the R419 man is the head of a woman, and God is the head R420 of Christ.

It sounds as though Paul is setting up a Metaphysical hierarchy. This cannot be the case, however, as he deconstructs it in the next few verses:(11)However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent F117 of man, nor is man independent F117 of woman.
(12)For as the woman originates F118 from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all R427 things originate F119 from R428 God."
Why would Paul set up a metaphysical hierarchy only to knock it down again? Why would he mandate what was already considered natural? The only gender relations that were known in Paul's world were those dominated by men. It is easy to read the Peagles book, or to hear the propagandizing of radical feminism and assume that the Gnostics, because their groups attracted women and because they talked about goddess "Sophia," that they were radically liberating women, and thus Paul's purpose might be seen as one of reinforcing the hierarchy. On the other hand, these Gnostic groups were not necessarily liberating to women. They attracted women in great numbers for their sexual liberation and because they offered a "quick fix" to knowledge of the divine and to salvation, in an otherwise dismal social situation. That does not mean, however, that they taught the superiority of women. As documented above, some Gnostic groups taught that women were "spiritually men." Even the one gender concept leaves the male as dominate. For a more sobering view of these goddess worship religions see the book by Yale Sumeriologist Tikva Fryemere-Kenski: In the Wake of the Goddesses. (1991).

Paul is reaffirming a hierarchy of sorts, but not one in which the husband rules over the wife. He's affirming a hierarchy in which Christ rules over both males and females, and in which marriage is sanctified by God; a rebirth of the originally intended role of partnership between the genders in creation. He disrupts the flow of the hierarchy in social terms and in terms of rank, by first pointing out the reversal in origins, and then by bringing it all back to God as the source of all. But from this context, because he does speak of who comes from whom, it seems clear that kephale carries the connotation of "origin" or "source." He brings up origins to say "in the garden of Eden man and woman were meant to work together." This is what egalitarians call "non-heirarchical complamentarianism." Egalitarians are sometimes complamentarians, male and female complament one another, but not in a hierarchical way. Not the only expression of that mutual labor among equals, but the primary expression of it, is marriage. Marriage is good, it is made by God, and genders are good, they are both equal and both made by God. This is what Paul says to the Gnostic faction when the speaks of "heads," the "sources."

If Paul set up a metaphysical hierarchy with God as the "boss" of Christ, he would be a non Trinitarian. Of course the doctrine of the Trinity didn't exist at that time, but we Trinitarians like to think its elements are found in the New Testament and that Paul would have been one if he knew about it. To say that God is the "boss" of Christ is opposed to stated church dogma regarding the equality of persona in the Godhead! Complamentarians often try to soften the blow of this connotation of "boss," by reducing it to "leader," but then is God just the "leader?" It would seem that God's headship is stronger than just Leadership. Is God Christ's "leader?" It seems the most logical approach is to understand the word as "source."

How is Christ the source of "a man?" It's a metaphorical usage! It doesn't have to have a hard and fast connotation that is the same in every enstance. Man is the source of woman in creation (according to Genesis) and woman is the source of man in birth. These both relate to becoming, but they are not exactly the same. God created everything, but God did not take everything out of a rib, nor did God give birth to the universe out of a womb. So these usages don't have to stack up in exactly the same way. Christ is the "source" of life in a spiritual sense. The life of a person is one of the meanings given kephale in Liddell and Scott. In this case spiritual life. Now, Christ is also the source of spiritual life for a woman, but, Paul is setting an analogy because he has a dual purpose. So he's not talking about that aspect for the women here, but he does say man is "a head of a woman." Man is not the only head of the woman, but "a head." So Christ is the head of a man in the sense of spiritual life, man is the source of woman in the garden, but also culturally man was in the dominant role in a marriage. Paul is not necessarily affirming that as a timeless gesture, but he is reaffirming marriage itself. Let's bracket that aspect, however, until the discussion on Ephesians 5:22.

Paul's dual purpose is (1)To get men not to cover their heads in worship; (2) to get women to cover their heads in worship

(4)Every man who has something on his head while praying or
prophesying R421 disgraces his head.

Now why would this be the case? In general there is an ancient custom in mostWestern cultures, and perhaps the world over, of uncovering the head as a sign of respect. When men wore hats, they were expected to take them off in front f the flag or in the presence of the King, and so froth. But this may not be Paul's meaning. Expositors often assume that Paul would accept the Jewish notion of praying with a head covering, because he was Jewish. Those who take this tact often ascribe the head covering here to some kind of effeminate hair do. But it is probably that Paul was undoing the Jewish custom, because it was a sing of condemnation for sin. In the new creation, humanity stands before God redeemed and forgiven, not condemned. To continue to cover the head would be to deny the redeeming power of Christ. that would be why this practice disgraces "his head" (Christ--his source of spiritual life). On this point then Paul works against the "Judaizers."

To the women Paul's concern is probably gnosticism. While the Gnostics at Corinth were not the full blown version we find in the fourth century at Nag Hammadi, it is well documented that some form of proto Gnostic ideas were making their way into the Corinthian church, as documented above. These were lascivious, sexual, transvestite, and opposed to the basic moral schema of society; anti-marriage. It is entirely possible that these Gnostic sects included women who went unveiled. We don't know enough about the customs of veiling first century Corinth. We have good evidence that these gnosticizing groups appealed to women; the reason might be partly because of their sexually liberating tone, which probably included abandoning any head coverings.

Paul writes:

(5)But every woman R422 who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying
disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose F113 head is
shaved. R423

The term "veil" is no where in the text. The often translated "bearheaded" or "uncovered" is akatakaluptos or akatakaluptos which really means "loose hair" or "lossened hair" (see William Welty,Executive director ISV Foundaton, "Re-Thinking The Veil: Another Approch to 1 Corthians 11."). Why is an uncovered woman (Or a woman whose hair is worne loosely) like one whose head is shaved? Some have speculated that this was the fashion of tempel prostitutes, but not enough is known about tempel culture in acneint Greace to say this. What is known, however, is that the Jews used shaving the head an a penulty for adultory. In the Gospels we see that a woman was about to be stoned for adultory, but this penalty was replaced with shaving the head (Welty,3-4).

Bushnell Writes:

243. (Verse 6) "For if the woman be not covered, let her be shorn." Paul refers
to the Oral Law of the Jews. Says Lightfoot: He "does not here speak in his own
sense but cites something usual among the Jews." It admits of proof that such
was the Oral Law. A woman "sinner" is described in the Talmud as "she who
transgresseth the law of Moses and the Jewish law." The gloss explains: "’The
Jewish law, that is, what the daughters of Israel follow though it be not
written" (i.e. the oral Law). The question was asked: "How does she transgress
the Jewish law? Answer: "If she appear abroad with her head uncovered if she
spin in the streets," etc., etc., through a long list. For the offenses here
enumerated, one of which is uncovering the head, it is prescribed that the wife
should be divorced "with the loss of her marriage portion." (Kethuboth, fol. 7,
col. 1). Furthermore, in that section of the Talmud called "Sotah," which treats
of unchaste women, under the sub-head, Of the duty of Repudiation of a Wife for
adultery, we learn that this DUTY rested upon a Jew whose wife was seen abroad
with her hair "not done up,” i.e., not covered. Thus we learn that a Jew, even
if favorably disposed towards his wife’s profession of Christianity, and toward
the practice of unveiling in worship, might be compelled by his relatives or the
synagogue authorities, much to his regret, to divorce his wife, if she unveiled.
The rest of the story, as to what would be done with the woman who unveiled, and
thus furnished sufficient proof of "adultery" to compel her husband to repudiate
her, we learn from Dr. Edersheim's Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 155: "It
was the custom in case of a woman accused of adultery to have her hair shorn or
shaven," at the same time using this formula: "Because thou hast departed from
the manner of the daughters of Israel, who go with their heads covered . . .
therefore that hath befallen thee which thou hast chosen." An unveiled Jewish
wife might, then, be tried for adultery; and when so tried, be "shorn or
shaven." Paul here cites this obstruction to commanding women to unveil, but he
permits it (verse 10).

If the woman prayed (in chruch presumably) with her head uncovered, or her hair worn down loose, it would be the same as a confession of adultory, that's why it would dishonor her head (husband); it's just a way of saying it dishonors the marriage and looks like an endorsement of liscienceious living. How much more could the church ill aford to have prophetesses running around prohesying iin chruch looking like they lived in adultory? The motive for asking the woman to cover the head is not to symbolize her subjection to her husband, but propriety!

(part 2 coming in a couple of days)

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What is The Supernatural?

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Supernature: God's transforming Power in our lives and over the natural works of nature.

Nature:life from life

Natural:The sphere of influence necessary for support of phsyical life, the "natural world."

Supernatural:pertianing to the workings of Supernature either in the human heart or in the natural world.

Supernatural effects:Miracles; the alternation of nature in attraction toward its end in Suerpanture.

Ground and end:Ontolgoical structure of the relation between Supernature and the natural. Foundation and telos toward which nature moves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Overview: SN and Rise of Science

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

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

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

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

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

Suernatural and the Rise of Science in The Middle Ages.

My Own Peronsal View

Since I believe that this physical reality is a thought in the mind of God, I understand reality as one unified whole; God's "mind" is the framework that generates and holds together all reality. Thus, Supernature is God's nature, will, and imagination. Reailty is all one thing, and that one thing is created and sustained by God (that one thing is thought). Thus "nature" is just a subset of "supernature" as a product and creation of God's thought; a sub reutine, a subset of laws that funciton in harmony with the larger frame. But the two are mixed in toegether. The Supernatural is found in the natural. Supernature is not a realm where magical beings live, but is the vivifying aspect of reality. The epitome of "the natural" is human nature, and human nature strives toward it's end in vivification through Supenature.

The "Supernatural" is the "ground and end" of the natural.

meaning: Supernature is the basic framework holding reality which generates this reality, and human nature seeks its teolos in unification with Supernature (ie God). We have a foundation for relaity and a telos toward which the natural bends. Any supernatural effects (miracles) are the result of that telos.

Examples of SN
Conversion experince
Personal transformation following conversion
Miracles: "supernatural effects"
the "stary sky at night" feeling
The feeling of Utter dependence

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Is Necessity Necessary?

Being is an act in which the beings (that is existing things) participate. There are only two basic aspects of this act. Either a thing exists or it does not (meaning it is just a concept in the mind). If something does not exist in actuality, there are only two options as to why: either the right circumstances just didn't happen to come together to produce them, or, the concept itself is contradictory. The latter case one can think of square circles, or in the former, pinks unicorns. A Pink unicorn could exist if there just happened to be such things, the concept itself is not too contradictory (aside from dependending upon a fictional mythos which contradicts the laws of physics--that is also within the same category because the laws of physics could have been different). If a thing does exist it is either necessary or contingent, meaning either it cannot fail to exist without contradiction, or, its existence depends upon some higher cause, and thus it could fail to exist but just doesn't. So the two basic categories are Necessity and contingency

Now they can be subdivided but if we consider them in their most basic form there are only two categories into which they can fall (and no I'm not arguing that this proves God, but it is a good way to start thinking about him). Those two being: 1) Necessity; 2) contingency. And of each of these there are also two subdivisions. For necessity there is either arbitrary or impossibility. An arbitrary necessity has no logical reason for being, an impossibility is logically incoherent and cannot exist and cannot come to exist. Examples: Arbitrary necessity as I said in my post a 1962 Rambler as the ultimate origin of the universe. Impossibility, square circles. In the contingency category there is exiting contingency and non-existing. the former; everything we see in the world; the latter; purple dolphins, pink unicorns. Some of these categories could be subdivided; but these four represent the basic options. These are the primary categories in thinking about being and any others flow out of subdividing these.These are the four basic options. You can try to think up more of them, but there aren't any more basic, and their validity is just a matter of logic. Think about it.

Necessary Contentgent
Impossible Non existent (contingent)

This is all very logical, and anyone who tries to cliam that it is arbitrary is merely lashing out to deny anything that they fear might prove the existence of God. But these modes of being, in and of themselves, do not prove the existence for God. For that we need the arguments, but before we can turn to them there is one more crucial concept which must be dealt with:

Arbitrary Necessity:

An "arbitrary necessity is a contingency that has been placed in the position of a necessity, merely to furnish an answer to a problem. This is an impossibility, since contingencies cannot be necessities. Arbitrary necessities are logical impossibilities just as square circles are impossibilities. Many skeptics argue that we can't know if certain things are the case or not, this requires empirical knowledge. It may require empirical knowledge to be totally sure, but we can be fairly certain since we know that logical contradictions are truly contradictory and thus, impossible.

An example of an arbitrary necessity is the notion of the Quantum vacuum beyond time creating an endless stream of space/time "bubbles." There may be such an endless stream, but if so, it is not mere that it "just happens to be there." There must be some source, origin, or reason for its existence, since space/time bubbles are contingent (they have beginings) and thus they cannot be placed in the position of necessities.

Arbitrary necessities are no more logical than saying that the universe was caused by a 1958 Studebaker Golden Hawk, that just happened to always be beyond time. This would be a totally arbitrary solution, and while we do not have absolute proof without empirical knowledge, why should we believe it? All of these arguments about the assumptions that we should make. We should make the most logical assumptions that we know how to make. Arbitrary necessities are not logical.

Is Necessity necessary?

Skeptics often argue two things against this view: 1) that it is assuming God in the premise of the argument; 2) that the notion of necessity and contingency is invalid and thus only empirical knowledge serves to offer "proof" as to the nature of the universe. Both of these arguments are illogical and both are based upon misconceptions. The first is ill-conceived because the skeptic misunderstands what is being said. Most skeptics assume one is saying that the nature of the world indicates that it is necessary that there be a God. This is not what is being said. Or they assume it means that a necessary being is one that must exist because the world could not exist without it. The concept has nothing to do with the nature of the world. Rather, it is saying that the concept of God is that of necessary being, because the concept of God is such that God cannot cease to exist or fail to exist without contradiction. In other words, God is eternal and is not created by anything else.

At this point many atheists will says "How can you know that?" But it is not a matter of empirical knowledge, but of the concept itself. The concept of God is that of an eternal non-created being, whether God really exists or not. To that extent than, God cannot be contingent and must be necessary (logically necessary). That is the premise of the argument and it does not require any empirical knowledge. This is also the answer to the second argument, that the arguments don't assume that God already exists before the argument begins, but that the concept is that of necessary being. The point, than is to prove that such being is the nature of the case. We don't start with the asumption that God exists, but that if God exists, God must be necessary. With that premis as a given,which is a logical assumption given the nature of the concept, we go to reason from that point to the existence of such "a being." This means that God is, if God exists, necessary and cannot be contingent. Even if that distinction doesn't lend itself to direct proof of God, it is a very important distinction, because it is useful for understanding the nature of God and helps with many different arguments.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Metacrock's Famous Gardener Parable

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Garden of the Gods

The point is to show the decision making process and what goes into belief or disbelief. Gardener parables are a tradition in philosophy of religion. I always think those like Flew's and Wisdom's are loaded against the believer.

The basic parabel, although in many versions, goes like this: two men see a garden. The state of the garden makes one suspect there is a gardener, the other suspects there is none. In some versions they steakout the palce, keep watch all night. They see no gardern and the believer decides he's invisable and the other decides he's non existenant. In Felw's version they put up electirc wires, search lights, dogs, all kinds of things. No sign of a gardener. The believer decideds he's oderless, colorless,invisable,intangeable and doesnt' do much. The sketic asks what's the difference in that and no gardener at all. Flew gives the moral: "the death fo a fine brash hypothesis comes through a million qualifications." Of course the real imiport of it all is that there is' no God no reason to think there's a God, and all the ratioanlizations believers go through to expalin away the lack of evidence are really just setting us up to ask "what's the difference in this God and no God at all?"

Antony Flew, in an exchange called “Theology and Falsification” (on reserve in the WVC library),

“Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, ‘Some gardener must tend this plot.’ The other disagrees, ‘There is no gardener.’ So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. ‘But perhaps he is an invisible gardener.’ So they set up a barbed-wire fenced. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. (For they remember how H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man could be both smelt and touched though he could not be seen.) But no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry. Yet still the believer is not convinced. ‘But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensitive to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves.’ At last the Sceptic despairs, ‘but what remains of your original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?’”

Flew's point is about the verification principle. My argument has always been, and remains that he doesn't give the believer enough of a reason to believe. Real reasons that real people really have for believing are much stronger than that, even if they rare more personal.

Among the major gardener parables we find them by Hare, one by Wisdom, and maybe by Flew. I always thought that Hare's was more fair to the believer. IT does afford some reason why they would think there was a Gardener. But Wisdom's doesn't. So If it is loaded against the believer. In fact it makes his garden to all practical purposes seem unkempt which means it's irrational for them to even suppose there is a gardener.

My parable I wrote in 1999, while invovled on my original message board in protracted discussions with a skeptic named "Mutaleto." Now here's my parable:

Two men (or two women whatever) walking along see a garden out in the middle of nowhere. One finds a Tabaco pouch and observes that the garden is weeded and planted in rows. The other observes that the rows are not very stairght so it's really hard to tell, and that in many sections the weeds are overgrown. Observer A says "maybe someone planted this." B says "there's no data!

They scour the countryside and find no gardener. They camp out and wait and find no gardener. They examine all the plants carefully and find no trace of a gardener.

"B" goes home. "A" sits around and suddenly a man comes up, tells him he is the gardener and they talk about flowers for a long time. The man wont explain why the garden is so untended in sections and he wont explain why the rows are so uneven, but he assures "A" that he is the gardener and he does seem a prince of a fellow and knows all about flowers.

The next day "A" goes to B and says "there is a Gardener I met him." B says "three's no proof of that. IF there is a Gardener why didn't he explain his methods?" A says "I assume he has his reasons" B says "O, that old saw, all the gardener believers say that!"

The thing is A couldn't prove that he saw the gardener. The Gardener's presence wasn't detectable, he didn't alter the garden in any way that B could detect. He didn't' give An autographed picture, and let's also say that he didn't tell him where he lived and mysteriously vanished when A wasn't looking. But An is totally convinced that he did in fact see him. And the knowledge of gardening that was imparted to A did make him a superb gardener.

Now, is there really no reason for B to decide that no Gardner was seen? There is no logical proof that he was seen, but An is totally sincere Abu having seen him. Is it really so illogical to assume that A merely presupposed it? He cod have made it up or dreamed it, but is it really so illogical to think that he did actually see the gardener?

Now I think that, apart form believability of the witness, kicks it back into the realm of believability of the concepts and the sense that they make as concepts. The sense they make of the world. In other words, it offers one an opening into the inner logic in a way that wasn't there otherwise, but it doesn't demonstrate the truth claims in a logical argument.

Unless you are willing to believe that inner logic a parer can't have correspondence to the truth; but then what about the inner logic of your metaphysical assumptions? They have no inner logic, they are objective and proven right? But I think Kahn would suggest that even though scientific data is, but in as much as data must be interpreted and data does not give us metaphysical assumptions but is interpreted by them to the extent that science is culturally constructed, there is an inner logic to your metaphysical assumptions.

BE that as it may, the inner logic of belief can have openings across laminal space, into the shared world of unbeleif.Perhaps not the kind that force assent, but the kind that allow access. After that point the struggle becomes one of explaining the concepts and demonstrating the inner consistency.

That's what I wrote in 1999. Looking back at it I find some interesting aspects I didn't notice back then. Example: I did notice that the skeptic's prattles are always loaded against the believer, the believer never has a real reason to think there's a gardener. That's why I had the believer find a Tabasco pouch, and see some evidence of straight rows and weeded garden, although that was supposed to be debatable. But then I had the believer actually meet the gardener because I felt that this is more in keeping with my religious experience; If feel that I did meet God in sense, rather I experience God's presence. Of course my experience was nowhere near as direct as "A's" experience of the Gardener. I left it as a subjective difference in the experiences of the two dialogue partners because that's they the way I think things really are.

What I now realize is that both men were trying to see the existence of a gardener through the state of the garden. This is really like the argument from design. The atheist is actually committing the same fallacy as the apologist who makes the design argument; noting having an undesigned universe to compare it to. In terms of the parable I should have the believer meet the gardener first, that should be what starts off the discussion. B would say "your friend says this is his garden, but look how messy it is, no one tends this ground."

In terms of Flew's moral that the fine hypothesis is killed by a thousand qualifications, that's a nice pithy quote. I don't think it applies to God arguments. While one does find that arguing the God arguments often causes one to sharpen one's persecutive on the divine, the situation is hardly analogous.

The atheist's constant drum beat, the demand for proof, for verification, for something object that stacks up to scinece, is making the same kind of mistake about drawing conclusions from the world without a desinged world to compare to, that the apolgist is in using the design argument. Empirisicism is nothing more than an analysis of and conclusion from the state of the world. Beelief is more private than that. Believers make claims that impenged upon the real world, but our reasons for holding them are often private affaris that don't translate well into empiricial data. On the other hand, they are far stronger than Flew's neutoric believer who apparently is obssesed and has no decerable reason for belief.

But the best point I think that comes out of this mess is that the skeptic still looks to the shape of the world to que about his lack of belief. Sure, and the theodicy problem is nothing more than arraying against the existence of God based upon the state of the world, but rather than discussing design it discusses the state of pain and suffering in the world. So what these parables tell us is that the fine hypothesis God belief is always subjective and debatable, but the believer has his reasons.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Never apologize, never explain yourself

You hear that? Your friends dont' need it, your enemies wont accept it? I see movies all the time where a good explanation would fix tinges but the hero wont give one. I sit threes saying "explain, explain" but they don't, and if they did it would preempt the plot, so they can't. The plot turns on a sting silent type who wont explain. Doubting my John Wayne like qualities I've deiced that I should explain things. My friends aren't that good, they need explanations all the time. (I'm teasing I have a lot of really great friends).

While following "came from" pages on my log I found a message OT the summer temporary boards (DOXA Forum) by a guy named seismic whom I don't even remember, accusing me of laying about my credentials:

Yeah it's all about credibility isn't it mega? You can't even keep your lies straight.
I can't wait to tell the gang back at apologetics. Oh and by the way mega, don't bother to pull your little Bo about your Ph.D. candidacy. I've already copy/pasted it to Word. I'm going to post it for all to see.

I can only assume he means the apologetic board at CRAM. I wonder if the distinction between candidacy and having a Ph.D. would even be meaningful to him. The disintcition is nebulous really. Being a candidate doesn't' mean you just enrolled in the program and you have seven more years to go. It means you've finished everything and you are on the door step, the only things left to go are formalities. Turning in the written dissertation and dog oral exams are formalities. Almost no one ever flounces orals. If you don't have together by that stage it's pretty much hopeless.

Now I doubt that I said "Yes, I have a Ph.D. because I've graduated from graduate school and am now officially Dr. Joe and I never have to take any courses again in my life because I officially have the sheep skin with letters after my name."

But this is basically true, but in an unofficial way. I have only to Finnish writing the dissertation and take oral examinations and that's it. Now I tell people I'm a professional academic, that's what I said. I am. I have worked as a teaching assistant and been paid for giving students grades; more importantly I published an academic journal (peer reviewed and indexed--which puts it on the map as official) and published, present papers at conferences, and most important; that's my chosen profession and I'm doing all I can at the moment to proceed with making it a reality.

My Bio says: "Ph.D. course work and dissertation completed," the one tiny untruth about that is, yes, I am actually a couple of chapters short. I have finished 90% of the dissertation and have to Finnish a couple of chapters. The bit about courses is absolutely true. I finished all the course work years ago, and I've finished geberak qualifying exams as well. I am in the stage known as "ABD" (all but dissertation). One is allowed to apply for jobs as a professor in that stage.

If that's not good enough to be thought of as smart or having some expertise then I suggest those who question my expertise my critics are lacking to begin with. I mean if people can't see that I'm conversant with major subjects and the metals that make up those issues, then what's the point of having letters after your name anyway.

I'm sure this guy was bested in an argument and he has to get even. he can't just go read some and learn more or look up the things I said to see that I'm right. He has to quibble over my worthiness. Do I have letter after my name, why no I must because I disagreed with him?

This really makes me angry because people are so narrow and petty. But more importantly because he's not willing to learn anything. His lack of knowledge that puts him beneither me in some way (if I have the papers, in his mind) is to him not a matter of his learning more, it's a matter of me lying or being somehow untruthful about my station. Why can't he just go the damn library and start studying?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tiny Thinker Does it Again!

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My friend Tiny is at it again. On my message board he made a post attacking my argument on God as being itself. One thing he said which was especially gulling but also especially stimulating to thought is this:

I think you would do well to let the implications of the nature of the ground of Being govern your view of God rather than having your views of God govern your thinking about the ground of Being.

Consider, for example, that there is no static "ground" of Being, but rather that the "ground" or "foundation" is a perpetually occurring process by which the totality gives rise to the particular, which dissolves back into the totality, and so on, simulataneously.

This is a challenging statement because it immediately causes me to evaluate my beliefs to see if it might be true that I'm forcing the terminology on to preconceived theology rather than writing the theology as a result of the realizations of the phenomena. Of course it would be easy to say I am, I'm doing it all right, just follow me. But I suspect the truth is more of a mixed bag. I'm probably doing a bit of both,

I also have questions about Tine's understanding of the term "God." He's a pretty sophisticated fellow and he's read enough of my stuff that he knows better than to just equate the term "God" with big guy on throne, at least where my theology is concerned. Tine's own view point is somewhere between atheism and Buddhism. He was at one time a Christian fundamentalist so it's hard to say how he reacts to the term "God." But even though he knows my theology is far beyond that of the big guy in sky, he also knows my psyche may not be. So what is the nature of this truth?

One thing is certain, I do feel a dilemma because moving away from a presented model of God loses (1) divine command morality; (2) warm fuzzy of parental love. I dig that warm fuzzy parental love jazz, so that is one aspect I don't wish to lose. But on the other hand, that sense of being loved by God is certainly part and parcel of my religious experience. That was the major selling point in giving up atheism, not only was God real but he loved me. It's hard to think of some Helena dialectic or something on that order as being loving.

On the other hand, Tiny should understand with his Buddhist background, because it is the Buddhists themselves which say that the atom is neither a mind nor a non mind. So he should understand the paradox. I remind myself God is beyond understanding in words or images, and thus one can't rule out the parental thing either, even though one can't cast God exclusively that role. God is more than a big guy in the say, this doesn't' mean that God can't love. Love may be more ha we understand it to be. In modern America we tend to think that love is anything form sex to ice cream. We use the term "love" so easily and it usually means "desire" in some way or other. Love is more than just sentimental feeling, and it is more than just a reaction of brain chemicals. Wrapped up in the concept of Agope, Christian love, God's kind of love, is the Anton of according the other dignity he/she deserves as human, and the will the will to the good of the other.

To imagine that God has a will to the good of the others, is to set in motion a train of thought that classifies God among personages to begin with. Yet we need not understand "love" in a totally Provencal way. To will the good of the other, means that God has a will. I do not believe God is a mindless force like magnetism. I've never believed that. Is that "shoe horning" pre conceived theology? Of course it is, but it's also part of the basic reality of my conversion. It was not a magnetic force or a mindless essence of nothing that I encountered that night when I creed out for help when my broth was freaking out. It was the assumption I made inescapably that it had to have some form of will to even answer a plea. The sense of God's presence that I have always felt goes back to the core of the sensation of a presence. Presence meaning a will, not a mingles thing. I don't feel the presence of the wind, although linguistically we could say wind is present; we reserve the term "present" for people or for entities with awareness and volition. Yet love need not be sticky, drippy, sentimental, culturally bound or corny.Agope is basically giving. See my essay on "Love: the basis of everything." Love is the giving out of that which is essential for the basis of the good of the other. So there is a connection between being and love. I have developed a jargon about that. To think of God as the ground of being is a prior to think of God as having something to do with love.

This is not a mere shoehorning, although I admit I didn't think it all through like this until years later, but if love hadn't been at the core of those experiences I would have just dismissed them as stomach cakes or mental hastier. The fact that the presence I sensed had a sense of love is what made me think it had to be God, because no where else had I ever experienced such pure totally clean sense of absolute love. I knew love, my parents were very loving, but even they did have their desires and motivations; they were human. But this was different. this was amazing sense of absolute love. Whatever theological filter I've used to understand it, I was put along the path of choosing that filter by the sensation itself.

Now let's consider the other part of Tine's estaminet:

Consider, for example, that there is no static "ground" of Being, but rather that the "ground" or "foundation" is a perpetually occurring process by which the totality gives rise to the particular, which dissolves back into the totality, and so on, simulataneously

That of course is process theology, so Tiny chooses a theologically shoehorned answer to challenge my theological shoe horning. Why he thinks my concept of the ground of being is "static" I don't know. These are all process theology terms. "Static" is what process theologians really hate and want to avoid, and "process" defines God in their view. I like the process idea of God as dipolar. God is not static but neither is God merely constantly in flux. There is a potential pole that is always already there and always already potential. It never changes but it always affords the instance of change and the ability to change because it is potential. The unaccrued block is always unaccrued, but it could also always been carved and be the thing we carve it into. The other Pole, the consequent Pole, God is changing with the world, in flux but keeping pace with the connately changes of natural processes. Process theologians pride themselves in moving away from the Greek whom they see as static. They blame the Thomists and the medieval philosophers for imposing a static Greek View. But without knowing anything of process theology Underhill (Mysticism) said that the God of the mystics is active, and not static, and that mysticism itself is not the belief in a static God.

Process theology take its que from Heraclitus (talk about shorehoring--so even Tiny's process idea is static in that it comes to us from an already ancient tradition). He's the guy who said everything is totally in flux. He said you never put your foot in the same river twice. yet Heraclitus was also dipolar like a modern process theologian. He didn't see the static pole as potentiality necessarily, although I suppose one could, but he saw it as the permanence that comes form constant flux. So the flux was just one pole and it forms a constant because its constantly doing what it does. He thus saw a larger framework around the flux of this world which wrapped constraint change in eternal statuses and permanence. I kind of agree with Hericlitus more than with the process theologians of today (Hartshorne, Whitehead, Pittinger, Ogden) in that I don't see God's static pole as merely potentiality. I see it as more like the Platonic forms. There is a permanence that is always feeding into flux, the core of that permanence is the constituent giving out of love, or being, of will to the good, which forms the basis of a Heraclitian process theology.

Of course all of this is very much stringed through a filter of seminarian whoa. But I'm sure Tiny wants to just cut lose and experience the purse zenlike chan of not thinking anything Abu it. Perhaps I should take up zen. I can't think of that withoput wanting to do Chan, the Chinese forerunner of Zen. I want to do Chan because that's the basic philosophy behind Shaolin, and i want to learn Shaolin King fu and kick ass. Certain bloggers in Australia I need to visit when I learn Kung Fu.

In any case my question is since Zen and chan have such a history and are so wrapped up their traditions are they any less filtered than my thing? In the final analysis all we can do is have our mytiscal experiences and try to encode them into cultural constructs. A religious tradition is like a language in that it offers a vocabulary for this task of encoding such experiences. So this is what I'm doing

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Religious a priori:The Trace of God in the World

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In my dealings with atheist in debate and dialogue I find that they are often very committed to an empiricist view point. Over and over again I hear the refrain "you can't show one single unequivocal demonstration of scientific data that proves a God exists." This is not a criticism. It's perfectly understandable; science has become the umpire of reality. It is to scientific demonstration that we appear for a large swath of questions concerning the nature of reality. The problem is that the reliance upon empiricism has led to forgetfulness about the basis of other types of questions. We have forgotten that essentially science is metaphysics, as such it is just one of many approach that can be derived from analytical reasoning, empiricism, rationalism, phenomonology and other approaches.

God is not given directly in sense data, God transcends the threshold of human understanding, and thus is not given amenable to empirical proof. As I have commented in previous essays (bloodspots) religion is not a scientific question. There are other methodologies that must be used to understand religion, since the topic is essentially inter-subjective (and science thrives upon objective data). We can study religious behavior through empirical means and we can compare all sorts of statistical realizations through comparisons of differing religious experiences, behaviors, and options. But we cannot produce a trace of God in the universe through "objective" scientific means. Here I use the term "trace" in the Derision sense, the "track," "footprint" the thing to follow to put us on the scent. As I have stated in previous essays, what we must do is find the "co-detemrinate," the thing that is left by God like footprints in the snow. The trace of God can be found in God's affects upon the human heart, and that shows up objectively, or inter-subjectvely in changed behavior, changed attitudes, life transformations. This is the basis of the mystical argument that I use, and in a sense it also have a bearing upon my religious instruct argument. But here I wish to present anther view of the trace of God. This could be seen as a co-detmiernate perhaps, more importantly, it frees religion from the structures of having to measure up to a scientific standard of proof: the religious a prori.

Definition of the a priori.

"This notion [Religious a priori] is used by philosophers of religion to express the view that the sense of the Divine is due to a special form of awareness which exists along side the cognitive, moral, and aesthetic forms of awareness and is not explicable by reference to them. The concept of religion as concerned with the awareness of and response to the divine is accordingly a simple notion which cannot be defined by reference other than itself." --David Pailin "Religious a pariori" Westminster Dictionary of Chrisian Theology (498)

The religious a priroi deals with the speicial nature of religion as non-derivative of any other discipline, and especially it's speicial reiigious faculty of understanding which transcends ordinary means of understanding. Since the enlightenment atheist have sought to explain away religion by placing it in relative and discardable terms. The major tactic for accomplishing this strategy was use of the sociological theory of structural functionalism. By this assumption religion was chalked up to some relative and passing social function, such as promoting loyalty to the tribe, or teaching morality for the sake of social cohesion. This way religion was explained naturalistically and it was also set in relative terms because these functions in society, while still viable (since religion is still around) could always pass away. But this viewpoint assumes that religion is derivative of some other discipline; it's primitive failed science, concocted to explain what thunder is for example. Religion is an emotional solace to get people through hard times and make sense of death and destruction (it's a ll sin, fallen world et). But the a priori does away with all that. The a priori says religion is its own thing, it is not failed primitive sincere, nor is it merely a crutch for surviving or making sense of the world (although it can be that) it is also its own discipline; the major impetus for religion is the sense of the numinous, not the need for explanations of the natural world. Anthropologists are coming more and more to discord that nineteenth century approach anyway.

Thomas A Indianopolus
prof of Religion at of Miami U. of Ohio

Cross currents

"It is the experience of the transcendent, including the human response to that experience, that creates faith, or more precisely the life of faith. [Huston] Smith seems to regard human beings as having a propensity for faith, so that one speaks of their faith as "innate." In his analysis, faith and transcendence are more accurate descriptions of the lives of religious human beings than conventional uses of the word, religion. The reason for this has to do with the distinction between participant and observer. This is a fundamental distinction for Smith, separating religious people (the participants) from the detached, so-called objective students of religious people (the observers). Smith's argument is that religious persons do not ordinarily have "a religion." The word, religion, comes into usage not as the participant's word but as the observer's word, one that focuses on observable doctrines, institutions, ceremonies, and other practices. By contrast, faith is about the nonobservable, life-shaping vision of transcendence held by a participant..."

The Skeptic might argue "if religion as this unique form of consciousness that sets it apart form other forms of understanding, why does it have to be taught?" Obviously religious belief is taught through culture, and there is a good reason for that, because religion is a cultural construct. But that does not diminish the reality of God. Culture teaches religion but God is known to people in the heart. This comes through a variety of ways; through direct experience, through miraculous signs, through intuitive sense, or through a sense of the numinous. The Westminster's Dictionary of Christian Theology ..defines Numinous as "the sense of awe in attracting and repelling people to the Holy." Of course the background assumption I make is, as I have said many times, that God is apprehended by us mystically--beyond word, thought, or image--we must encode that understanding by filtering it through our cultural constrcts, which creates religious differences, and religious problems.

The Culturally constructed nature of religion does not negate the a priori. "Even though the forms by Which religion is expressed are culturally conditioned, religion itself is sui generis .. essentially irreducible to and undeceivable from the non-religious." (Paladin). Nor can the a priori be reduced to some other form of endeavor. It cannot be summed up by the use of ethics or any other field, it cannot be reduced to explanation of the world or to other fields, or physiological counter causality. To propose such scientific analysis, except in terms of measuring or documenting effects upon behavior, would yield fruitless results. Such results might be taken as proof of no validity, but this would be a mistake. No scientific control can ever be established, because any study would only be studying the culturally constructed bits (by definition since language and social sciences are cultural constructs as well) so all the social sciences will wind up doing is merely reifying the phenomena and reducing the experience. In other words, This idea can never be studied in a social sciences sense, all that the social sciences can do is redefine the phenomena until they are no longer discussing the actual experiences of the religious believer, but merely the ideology of the social scientist (see my essay on Thomas S. Kuhn.

The attempt of skeptics to apply counter causality, that is, to show that the a priori phenomena is the result of naturalistic forces and not miraculous or divine, not only misses the boat in its assumptions about the nature of the argument, but it also loses the phenomena by reduction to some other phenomena. It misses the boat because it assumes that the reason for the phenomena is the claim of miraculous origin, “I feel the presence of God because God is miraculously giving me this sense of his presence.” While some may say that, it need not be the believers argument. The real argument is simply that the co-determinates are signs of the trace of God in the universe, not because we cant understand them being produced naturalistically, but because they evoke the sense of numinous and draw us to God. The numinous implies something beyond the natural, but it need not be “a miracle.” The sense of the numinous is actually a natural thing, it is part of our apprehension of the world, but it points to the sublime, which in turn points to transcendence. In other words, the attribution of counter causality does not, in and of itself, destroy the argument, while it is the life transformation through the experience that is truly the argument, not the phenomena itself. Its the affects upon the believer of the sense of Gods presence and not the sense of Gods presence that truly indicates the trance of God.

Moreover, the attempts to reduce the causality to something less than the miraculous also lose the phenomena in reification.William James, The Verieties of Religious Experience (The Gilford Lectures):

"Medical materialism seems indeed a good appellation for the too simple-minded system of thought which we are considering. Medical materialism finishes up Saint Paul by calling his vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an epileptic. It snuffs out Saint Teresa as an hysteric, Saint Francis of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox's discontent with the shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a symptom of a disordered colon. Carlyle's organ-tones of misery it accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh. All such mental over-tensions, it says, are, when you come to the bottom of the matter, mere affairs of diathesis (auto-intoxications most probably), due to the perverted action of various glands which physiology will yet discover. And medical materialism then thinks that the spiritual authority of all such personages is successfully undermined."

This does not mean that the mere claim of religious experience of God consciousness is proof in and of itself, but it means that it must be taken on its own terms. It clearly answers the question about why God doesn't reveal himself to everyone; He has, or rather, He has made it clear to everyone that he exists, and He has provided everyone with a means of knowing Him. He doesn't get any more explicit because faith is a major requirement for belief. Faith is not an arbitrary requirement, but the rational and logical result of a world made up of moral choices. God reveals himself, but on his own terms. We must seek God on those terms, in the human heart and the basic sense of the numinous and in the nature of religious encounter. There are many aspects and versions of this sense, it is not standardized and can be describes in many ways:

Forms of the A priori.

Schleiermacher's "Feeling of Utter Dependence.

Frederick Schleiermacher, (1768-1834) in On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Disposers, and The Christian Faith, sets forth the view that religion is not reducible to knowledge or ethical systems. It is primarily a phenomenological apprehension of God consciousness through means of religious affections. Affections is a term not used much anymore, and it is easily confused with mere emotion. Sometimes Schleiermacher is understood as saying that "I become emotional when I pay and thus there must be an object of my emotional feelings." Though he does vintner close to this position in one form of the argument, this is not exactly what he's saying.

Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuitive sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher reality, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuitive sense of "radical contingency" (int he sense of the above ontological arugments).He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesn't' depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the pre-given pre-theorectical pre-cognative realization of what Anslem sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

Rudolph Otto's Sense of the Holy (1868-1937)

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The sense of power in the numinous which people find when confronted by the sacred. The special sense of presence or of Holiness which is intuitive and observed in all religious experience around the world.

Payul Tillich's Object of Ultimate Concern.

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We are going to die. We cannot avoid this. This is our ultimate concern and sooner or latter we have to confront it. When we do we realize a sense of transformation that gives us a special realization existentially that life is more than material.

see also My article on Toilet's notion of God as the Ground of Being.

Tillich's concept made into God argument.

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

There is a "co-determinate to the Feeling of Utter dependence.

"It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical intersubjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognative for if the life world praxis is non-cognative and invalid so is theoretical cognition..S...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned soley by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as S...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic"] or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a corrolation with its whence." , Schleiermacher the Theologian, p 4.

The believer is justified in assuming that his/her experinces are experiences of a reality, that is to say, that God is real.

Freedom from the Need to prove.

Schleiermacher came up with his notion of the feeling when wrestling with Kantian Dualism. Kant had said that the world is divided into two aspects of relaity the numenous and the pheneomenal. The numenous is not experienced through sense data, and sense God is not experineced through sense data, God belongs only to the numenous. The problem is that this robbs us of an object of theological discourse. We can't talk about God because we can't experience God in sense data. Schleiermacher found a way to run an 'end round' and get around the sense data. Experience of God is given directly in the "feeling" apart form sense data.

This frees us form the need to prove the existence of God to others, because we know that God exists in a deep way that cannot be estreated by mere cultural constructs or reductionist data or deified phenomena. This restores the object of theological discourse. Once having regained its object, theological discourse can proceed to make the logical deduction that there must be a CO-determinate to the feeling, and that CO-determinate is God. In that sense Schleiermacher is saying "if I have affections about God must exist as an object of my affections"--not merely because anything there must be an object of all affections, but because of the logic of the co-determinate--there is a sense of radical contengency, there must be an object upon which we are radically contingent.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Discussion with Maslow Jr.

This is a post left in the comment section in repines to the Schweitzer article. It's by analymous, calling himself "Mslow"., in the signature and "anonymous in the title.

Anonymous said...

This is one very well worded and sizeable philosophers whine. Alas, the glories of Rome are past!

Meta: This sort of approach was dealt with in the Tiny Thinker article below. It's just an index to your mentality. I mean I begin by telling you its my best article so you dismissing by calling it a "long whine." That tells the discerning reader more about you than it does about me.

Anon:I couldn't disagree more with the foundational presuppositions in this work,

meta: So its a good whine all around right?

clearly it is written by someone who's never worked in or understood the corporate environment, specialization, risk-reward, and the benefits to society. The failures of civilization are errantly blamed on society's lack of appreciation for, and the lower status of philosophical thought in the hierarchy. It whines about the lack of freedom to think because we are dependent upon the need to produce. Yet, production, progress, specialization, is the very means that ultimately frees us to Think by producing enough prosperity that the basic needs of society are met ultimately freeing men from their labors. The failures to do so are moral failures not structural ones. Oh, and some people actually find meaning and satisfaction in their specialization, even on a machine shop floor.

Meta: So in other words, you want to privilage your experinces and position to the extet that no one else lives in socieity or has a right to critqiue it. Unless you've been in the fray, blah blah. Well, that's just sure unless you have sweated in the sun picking cotton,you just don't know what life is all about.

As to the argument that production frees us from drugery, yes, that is very. I think addressed taht (one might try clsoe reading of the text). It's not that production is the bugbier in and of itself. We are cut off from a relationship with the overall process of production. We fit into the equasion as overhead if we are wrokers, and comodity if we are management. We are given a jaundiced sense of life because we befcome the comodity sold to manufacturers. Like a tv audience. You may think tv works by selling air time, it really works by selling audience to those who buy air time.

So I dont' want to spend my days gelaning wheat or building a sod house without power or transforport either. But there should be some middle range of life experience other than either being stuck in the horse and buggy days and responsible for the total process of production, form killing the cow to tanning the hide to showing the boots, or being a commodity on a supermarket shelf and being unable to use my free time for anything but tv viewing.

I deny that the hazy sentiment for the "good old days" is on that article like you think it is. I don't think you carfully.

Anon:Yes, the philosopher is dependent upon the producers and no, Utopia and the Second Coming haven't happened yet.

Maslow, jr.

5:33 AM

Meta: Are you even a believer?

why respond so negativley to an article that tries to put the reader on to the forgotten works of a great mind, and which seeks to reaise questions about ethics and modern community? Why is that such a threat to you. It striking a nerve?

BTW Maslow said we can't consider our higher needs until we provide our lower ones. He didn't say we hsould never consider our higher needs,.

the real disspointment is that no one seesm to have gotetn the upshot of hte article which was it's affect upon Christianity. We have cut off society for the itnellectual heritage of the chruch so that's why atheists are asking things like "what cuased God?" Because the education of a vast body of Christain thought has been lost to our society due to this one-dimensionalization.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Suma Contra ICR

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

But lately skeptics have sought to deny these principles. They have actually been denying that infinite causal regress is impossible. This causes me to suspect that they don' really understand the concept. For no one truly understanding the notion of an eternally repeating cause could seriously consider that an infinite causal regress can actual exist. But this denial takes two-forms. First, they just deny it outright. They dot' believe me. And secondly, they sometimes try to provide examples such as the number line, that's a favorite. And of course the ever popular claim that God is also an infinite Regress. That is three arguments to deal with:

1) Out right denial that ICR is impossible

2) The argument that one can find examples in Mathematics

3) The idea that God is also an ICR

Before dealing with the numberline I will just make a little argument on the impossibility of an actual infinite causal regress (that is that one could actually exist in real life).

1)A beginingless series of events is impossible.

A actual infinite is defined as A begingless series of events This is not to say that nothing actual could be eternal, but that a series of events with no begining cannot exist in reality. A thing is said to be actully infinite if part of it is equal to the whole. For example, mathematicians show that the number of fractions is equal to the number of whole numbers, even though fractions can devide whole nubers infintessimally, because its all infinity and infinity is without number. Now here I'm distinguishing between existenced in actuality, the "real world," as oppossed to existence in mathematics.

A linear Causal infinite regress is thought to be possible by Auqinas and Farther Copeleston, but only if it has a prior heirarchical cause. In other words, the causality can be not just linear but also heirarchical. A heirachical infinite regress is also impossible for the same reason, it never really has a cause since it has no begining. A liniar regress of causal nature is impossible without a hierachical cause.

The great mathematician David Hilbert argues for the notion that a beginingless series of events with no higher cause is impossible. ["On the Infinite" in Philosophy and Mathematics (Englewood Cliffs New Jersey: Prentice Hall), 1964, 139, 141.)

(2) ICR is Circular Reasoning

William Row Quoted on website below

Rowe's version of the standard answer goes as follows: Suppose we are wondering why A exists. Suppose further that A was linearly caused to exist by B and that B was linearly caused to exist by C, etc. Here is a causal series, Rowe says, which might well extend infinitely back in time. This is because we need do nothing other than point out B in order to explain why A exists; although B was itself caused to exist by C, we still need refer no further back than B to explain the existence of A. But, Ro we says, suppose we are trying to explain not why A exists but rather why a certain sort of causal activity - the activity of causing A presently to exist - is going on. Here we cannot as before merely point to B. because presumably B is itself being caus ed to engage in the causal activity of causing A presently to exist (and is thus only a kind of intermediary). Accordingly, we have to talk about C's causal activity the causal activity of causing B to cause A presently to exist. This, then, is a series t hat cannot be extended infinitely; this series must have a first member. For if there were no first member, we would never succeed in arriving at an explanation of the existence of the causal activity of causing A presently to exist. We would never be abl e to explain why this activity is going on.11

(But this author supports Aquains' and Copleston in saying that liniear cuasal regress is possible but not a hierarchical one. Easy to see why he says this, because he believed the universe to be inifinite in time, but he still asserts that there must be a higher eternal generation)

Just extend Rowe's argument a little further to see that ICR is circular reasoning. The need for a cause is granted bye ICR advocate; and that need will be supplied, so they say, by the cause of the previous event (for example in an ocillating universe, the previous Big Bang supplies the need for the casue of this universe). But, when it comes to explaining the causual relation to the whole series they will say that is uncessary, because they have that previous link in the chain and it's covered by the infinte serious of previous links, but nothing ever expalins how the previous link could be there, except a previous link.

This is just circular reasoning because no matter how far back you go you have a cause that allows for any particualr link to exist. Take this example:

a => b, b => c, => d => e, e => f

Now if we say "how can f exist without a cause? They say well it has a cause in e. But e doesn't have a cause except in a equally unexplained d, and go back as far as you will, there is never an explaination for how this could be. Yet they agree that the causal principal is necessary because they keep sticking in intermeidate causes. If the causal principal is necessary, then there must be a final cause taht expalins how it could begin. Causality is linear and if they are going to argue for cyclical universe they have cover a linear concept of casu and effect.

If a series of events go back in time forever it is a beginingless series of events. IF the universe existed forever, for example, this would constittue an actual infinite. This is because the series of events that led to the current universe would be infinite. This is to distinguish it form a "potential infinite" which might be achieved by adding one event to another in a series and going on infinitely. But a series of events that has already transpired infinitely is an actual infinite.

Or let's look at the notion of finnishing an infinite series. If a man claims to have been counting for infinity and is at last about to reach zero, he says -3, -2, -1, he's finally finnished. Yet, he should have finnished eons before, an infinity of time passed enons ago, or centuries, or decades, so he should have finnished by now. Another strange paradox is that if we could check this man's counting in the past we would never find him counting. For he would have finnished an infinity ago so we could never find him counting at any time that we ever checked his counting. Yet if he never counted he could never finnish. Now may skeptics are going to say that it is impossible to count infinitley and so forth, yes, obviously. But these are the kinds of examples used in transfinite mathematics to illustrate this point.

"This illustrates once more that the series of past events could not be wihtout a begining for if you could not count numbers from eternity, neither could you have events form eternity. These examples underline the absurdity of a beginingless series of events in time, because such a sereies is an actual infinte and an atual infinite cannot exist. This means that the universe began to exist, which is what we set out to porve" (William Lane Criag in his early work, The Existence of God and The begining of the Universe Here's Life Publishers 1979 p.4 [and don't forget the empirical scientific data which also proves this same pint with the Big Bang).

3) An Actual Infinite Cannot Be Achieved by Adding one event to the series, thus the series of events in time can never be actually infinite.

This can also be understood in the fallacy to trying to count to infinity. This should be pretty obvious, because no matter how many events we add we can always add one more and continue to add events forever. One can never count to infinity. Most people understand this pretty well.So one could never add one event to another and reach infinity, it's the same thing. This is also called The impossibility of traversing the infinite.

Thus an actual infinite could come to exist only if all the memebers came to exist at the same time. As Craig points out "if an infinite number of Days existed before today, today would never come because one can never traverse the infinite." (50).

Philosopher John Hospers states:

"If an infinite series has preceeded the present moment, how did we get to the present moment? How could we get to the present moment--where we obviously are Now--if the present moment was preceeded by an infinite series of events?" [An Indtorduction to Philosophical Analysis, 2nd ed. (London: Rutledge and Kegan Paul, 1967) 434)

This First argument, the impossibility of a beginingless series of events with no higher cause was repeatedly defended and always successfully by G.J.Withrow, Professor of Mathematics at University of London's Imperial College of Science and Technology. see "The Age of the Universe,"British Journal for Philosphy of Science (1954-55) PP215-225. Natual Philosphy of Time (London: Thomas Nelson, 1961) See also Philsopher William Rowe The Cosmological Argument Princeton University press 1975

Now What if someone argues that the infinite series would be beyond time? In that case the skpetic loses the argument that there is no causality before time. IF there is no motion, causality, or change beyond time than there cannot be a series of events leading form one cause to another beyond time.

Now let's examine the three arguments.

1) Out right deniel that ICR is impossible.

Well, if they don't believe the logic, they are pretty hopeless. And if they dont' accept the word of the mathematicians that are quoted, there isn't much you can do about it. But it seems pretty obvious that if you have an ifinite series of causes leading back infinitely you would never have an actual cause, and the thing to be caused would not exist, just as you cannot count to infinity, or just as the counter claiming to have arrived at zero from infinity would never have actually counted.

2) That the number line is an exmaple from Mathematics that proves the actual infinite, or Infinite causal regress.

David Hilbert has prove, as quoted above, that transfinite mathematics cannot exist in life. The number line is not an actual series of events, it is ony hypothetical. Moeover numbers do not cause each other. It is not a causal regress.

3) That God is an ICR

This is merely to confusse an infinite with an infinite regress The ICR is an infinite series of events. God is not a series of events. God is not an event, God is not a recurrsion of causes, he is one final cause. God is not in time, he is eternal. So the two are not analogous at all. God is not an ICR.

The ICR is an impossibility, it cannot exist in actuality. This means the universe cannot be eternal, for the universe is an infinite series of causes, each one leading to the next. It certainly means the old oscillating universe notion of etnerally recurring big bangs and cruches is right out! Therefore, there must be a fainal cause which is eternal and is not a series of events but one fianl cause that transcends the chain of cause and effect. It causes the universe but it is not in turn an effect of any other cause.

Aristotle and Bertrand Russell agree

Robert Koons, University of Texas


Lecutre 5 Phil 356 Theism Spring 98

Another example is mentioned by al-Ghazali. Suppose that the sun and moon have each been revolving around the earth throughout an infinite past. There are 12 revolutions of the moon for every revolution of the sun. As we go back in time, the gap between the number of months and years grows ever wider, yet, taken as a whole, there are an equal number of elapsed months and years (both infinite). Cantorian set theory agrees with this paradoxical result: the cardinal number of months and years is exactly the same.

Bertrand Russell discusses a similar paradox, which he called the Tristam Shandy paradox. Tristam is writing is own autobiography. He takes a whole year to write down the events of a single day. In an infinite amount of time, Shandy can complete the task. Here's a time-reversed version of the paradox: suppose that Tristam is clairvoyent -- he writes about his own future. Last year he wrote about today's events; in the year before last, he wrote about yesterday's events. Today, he has just completed an infinite autobiography, cover all the events of his infinite past, despite the fact that, as we go farther in the past, Shandy is every further behind in the task -- i.e., 1000 years ago, he was still writing about the events of only the last three days.

Final note: The paradox of Time.

Some thinkers believe that time is an infinite series. I do not agree with this notion, I accept t=0, time begins in the Big Bang. But this is a valid viewpoint, I just dont' happen to agree. But that does not prove that a beginingless series of events with no higher cause can exist. Time can still have a higher cause, God perhaps, in heierarchical fashion.