Friday, June 23, 2006

Reflecition upon Methodology: Scinece vs Religion?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How do you get saved?

Ferrett made some flase statments:

Luke 10
25. On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
26. "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
27. He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind' ; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
28. "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live." (NIV)

There is no mention of trinity, no mention of blood atonement, no needed confession that Jesus is Lord nor a belief that he is the son of God. Not even a confession or belief that Jesus died for his sins is necessary.

this is false because I have said nothing about my views on how one is saved, and certainly nothing abou Trinity being necessary to salvation.

Threre is a further problem with using this as a proof text to understand salvation. It was said before Jesus died on the cross. He could hardly have todl the guy, "just hand around a couple of years and then join the chruch after I raise from the dead." He's speaking of salvtion under the old covenant. I'm sure the same principles apply, but it would be meaningless to the audience to suddenly start talking about his death on the cross. They would go "you died on the cross? How could you be here now?" another one woudl say "he got better." (Monthy Phython humor)

The thing is there is no real standard descrition of a soterolgoical formula in the NT. There are many such passages where one might use them as a modle for how to officiate at someone's salvation getting, but there is no real verse that says "here's the excat thing to say and do."

Jesus himself said baptize everyone (into the names of the trinity)

Paul says confess Lordship of Jesus and believe in resurrection

other places he says other things (follow moral law on heart,) there is no real set formula listed out. IN Galantions he says one thing in Romans another they all kind revovle around the same concepts.

It is clear that the teachings handed the chruch form the Apsotles thorugh the Bishops reflected upon the aotnement and resurrection.This was how the early community understood its own salvation in realtion to the events of Jesus life and death and resurrection. It was a resurrection oriented faith. It was about something that happened, and that something was clearly incorporated into the criteria for joining.

Simply submission to God and righteousness, with the best of your ability. Did the Biblical Jesus lie to this man? Did he deceive him and lead him into hellfire? If yes, then how can this possibly be just? This man, wanting to know the truth about salvation, asked an honest question and received a false and deceiving answer which will lead him into hell. The man will not believe in trinity, will not confess Jesus is Lord, will not believe he is the Son of God, and most importantly will not believe that Jesus died for his sins. According to missionaries, one who does not do these things simply will not obtain eternal life. There are two solutions:

Jesus gave him the answer that was true for thta moment. for that day.

the point is, based upon what Paul says in Galations, what he says in Romans 2 and Romans 10 it's clear that the exaclty little formula doesnt' matter, it's not the precise doctrine that saves you, it's what your heart is doing in relationship to God. But the expression of that faith has to be oriented around Jesus statment of solidarity becuase it is a statment of solidarity and it is our way of returning solidarity with God.

Paul says when we are bpatized we are put into Christ's death. We share with christ his death so we also share with him his future. his resurrection hope. that' solidarity. iF we don't understand the formula are we not in solidarity with God? Well that's not really what solidarity means, understnadng a cerimony or a formula. But is the fac that not understanding it is excuseable really a rason to forget it?

Salvation clearly revovles around what Jesus did on the corss. Otherwise he would not have done it. that doesnt' mean we have to have exacty the officla understanding of it or that we have to all agree upon our understanding.

But it does mean what Jesus did matters. It has to be at the center of any faith experience.

simple clear points for simple clear people:

(1) There is no officially sanctioned formula

(2) right doctrine is not a prequissete for salvation; but that is not an excuse to have wrong doctirne.

(3) Doctrine exists to help us, not to trip us up with problmes of understanding.

(4) The modus oporandi of salvtion is the corss. That doesnt' necessarly mean that it is our understanding of the modus opporandi that saves us.

(5) What saves us is trust in Jesus' and in the saving powre of God's grace.

(6) salvation is relationship of solidarity: God offers us solidarity by identifying with us to such an extent that in the form of Christ he dies on the cross fo our sins. We express our soldiairty with God by placing ourselves into Christs death and accepting all that means for the way we live and the hope of the future thorugh his resurreciton (I get all that out of Romans 6).

(7) doesn't matter how tight you shut your eyes. or if you pray a "sinner's prayer' or get baptized or whatever ceremony yo do, it's what you do in your heart that counts, but our heart has to be reaching out a relationship of solidarity with God.

(8) Jesus is the banner, the focuss and the MO of that whole move of God in our lives.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

God Arguments and Reality

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPhotobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Once again I am driven to examine my hobby of making God arguments. No atheist will ever admit that they prove anything. Actually that's not quite true. There have been a couple of people on message boards, although they may not have called themselves "atheists" who came to admit that my argument proved to them that there must be a God. While these two are rare, if they were willing to do that, there must be more who are toying with the idea. The problem is, God arguments really don't prove God's existence in the way that full blooded empiricists would like to have proven. We will prove the existence of bigfoot before we prove God that way. That's because God is not a "thing" in creation. God is not another item alongside light posts and swizzel sticks; God is the framework of reality, god is off scale for any sort of measurement. This would be like trying to prove the universal constant with a speedometer from a car.

God arguments are a take on reality

God arguments do something else entirely, something other than "proving" the existence of God in an absolute and undeniable way. In fact it really contradicts my theology to try and prove God in that sense. I proposed the soteriolgocial drama theory, which says that God wants us to have to make a leap of faith. Thus it would be self defeating if the kind of proof existed whereby God could be proven in such a way that it would be undeniable. God arguments offer rational warrant to believe. That means only that it is not irrational to believe in God. While this can be parled into a strong sense indicating a good probability, it is not the kind of undeniable proof the atheists are seeking. Atheists really want to be forced. They want to be dragged kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God in such a way that they are overwhelmed and forced to give up and admit God is real. Of course this will never happen because it's not what God wants.

God doesn't refuse this level of proof to be mean, or to test people, or to play games. it's a simple necessity. If that level of credulity was met and atheists were forced to admit there msut be a God, even though I don't like it, they would not like it. They would resent it. God wants free moral agetns who willingly choose the good. That means they cant' dragged into it agaisnt the their will. The only way to get that is to search. Only those who have searched out the truth in their hearts, wrestled with dobut and come to make the leap of faith, can internaltize the values and seek the good because they want the good.

Belief in God is much more than just a factual question about the existence of a particular item in the universe. Belief in God is more than just a proposition to be weighed according to evidence. Belief in God is a value, an orientation toward Being. Religion is the identification of the human problematic, and the resolution of that problematic through the mediation of an ultimate transformative experience. God is that aspect of Being which forces us to face the problematic of being human and to seek ultimate transformative experience. God is that ultimate transformative power. God is the object of our ultimate concerns which we sense in our apprehension of the numinous. Thus God arguments can't possibly provide the kind of empirical evidence most skeptics seek but neither is it fair of them to expect it. That's why God arguments are ways of forcing us to evaluate and come to understand the nature of Being and our relation to the ultimate.

The only real proofs of God are those we each find in our hearts when we seek out the nature of our lives in relation to their goals and ends, and their ultimate ends. Those are not the kinds of ideas that can be subjected to objective sorts of proof. They are phenomenological apprehensions. They are existential. God arguments are existential clearifiers. They enable us to understand our own relation to the ultimate. When we make a God argument we are saying something about the rational nature of being, the meaning of what it is to be. We are making judgments about reality as a whole when we talk about reasons to believe in God. Thus, it's not a matter of proving some argument per se, it' snot a matter of demonstrating some fact, the impossibility of naturalistic cosmology, or the need for targets in anthropic fine tuning, but an understanding of reality that superceeds any particular fact or demonstrable bit of information.

I've written many times in this blog about the nature of God arguments and the need for a phenomenologicla approach. This view point must be maintanied by a stark realism about the lmiiations of empiricial science and the socially constructed nature of a materialist outlook.If beilef in God is the expression of a value about the meaningful nature of rationality in being, then the expression of lack of God belief, and it's justification thorugh empirical science must be a cyncial statement about the limiations of our ability to come to terms rationally with our own being.

God is not subject to Empirical Proof

Atheists demand proof of God as though God were some fact in nature. God is not a thing along side other things in creation. It is not strange that we can't prove God with some emprical fact because God is not given to empirical study. As I said in another post:

"There are somethings we can say about God that make sense realtive to our understanding of things. God is the foundation of all that is, so we know that God can't be compared to anything else. God is off scale for all atributes because God is the scale. Trying to measure and compare God to anything would be like trying to compare our single sun to the big bang. Even that is not apt because the BB was finite."

Traces of God

People don't come to belief in God because of arguments, and we shouldn't expect them to.
Humanity finds God in a million different places. It finds God in flowers and trees, in brooks (and in books), in grass, in each other. It finds God in storms and scary things, and in the night. It finds God in the sky and the stars in the darkness of a vast and endless expanse. It reaches out for what is there because it has been put into it to do so; not because God sat and said "I will make men and men will seek me" but because God provided for the reality of the Imago Dei to evolve and develop in whatever species reached the point where humanity has come to. God did this automatically as an aspect of self expression, as an outgrowth of consciousness. This kind of God would make a universe of the type we see around us. This type of God would also place in that universe hints so that whatever species reaches that level that God's manifestation would be waiting to show them God's solidarity with them. God would plant a thousand clues, not as a matter of deliberation like one plants Easter eggs, but as the result of being what God is--self communicating and creative. Thus we have design arguments and fine tuning arguments, and contingencies and necessities and the lot. We can find the God Pod in our heads that lights up when it hears God ideas. We can do studies and determine that our religious experiences are better for us than unbelief, because the clues are endless because the universe bears the marks of its creator.

Yet these marks are sublet for a reason. This is where the Evangelical view of God can also be a sophisticated view. The Evangelical God can also be the God of Tallish and the God of process, after all, these are all derived from the same tradition and the Evangelicals have as much right to escape anthropomorphism as anyone. The Evangelical God seeks a moral universe. This God wants believers who have internalized the values of the good. We do not internalize that which we are forced to acknowledge. Thus God knows that a search in the heart is better to internalizing values than is a rational formally logical argument, or a scientific proof. Thus we have a soteriological drama in which we can't tell if there is or is not a God just by looking at the nature of nature. That must remain neutral and must illud us because it is not given to us to have direct and absolute knowledge of God. Knowledge of God is a privilege. We must seek it through the heart, that's where it isthmian to be found. It's a privilege but faith is a gift.

Thus we should be speaking of the technology by which we can find God. Here I use the term "thecnology" in the Faucaultian sense, not as a machine or hardware, but as the manipulation of a technique. My God argument work as a God finding technology, but one must know how to apply them. You can't expect an empirical demonstration. We must find the co-detemrinate and demonstate the correlation between co-detemrinate and divine. How do we know when we find it? The Co-detemriniate will that thing which leads us to God.

God is accessable to all. We can each find God at an any time. What guarontee do we have that we have found God? Our lives will change. Atheist will baulck because it's not emprical proof. and it is not. But it is close enough that it leaves us into a transofmation. The proof is in the pudding. We know we have found it when we find it, becasue we turn on to it, our lives change, God becomes a reality to us. The that makes God a reality to us is the co-determinate. All questions about "how do you know that's really what it is" don't amount to anything, they are not negations of the expeince of transformtion.

God finder Technology: Co Deterinate

Co-determinate: The co-determinate is like the Derridian trace, or like a fingerprint. It's the accompanying sign that is always found with the thing itself. In other words, like trailing the invisable man in the snow. You can't see the invisable man, but you can see his footprints, and wherever he is in the snow his prints will always follow.

We cannot produce direct observation of God, but we can find the "trace" or the co-determinate, the effects of God in the wrold.

The only question at that ponit is "How do we know this is the effect, or the accompanying sign of the divine? But that should be answere in the argument below. Here let us set out some general peramitors:

(1) The trace produced content with speicificually religious affects

(2)The affects led one to a renewed sense of divine relaity, are transformative of life goals and self actualization

(3) Cannot be accounted for by alteante cuasality or other means

(1)There are real affects from Mytical experince.

(2)These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.

(3)Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explaintions we should assume that they are genuine.

(4)Since mystical experince is usually experince of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater trasncendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, or that the affects are the result of some real higher reailty.

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-dterminate is the transfomrative power of the affects.

so rather than arguing about "Proofs" we should be discussing how to seek God in your heart.