Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wee Dogies Uncle Jed, why should I learn about theology?

Ok I need to make the caveat, so here it is. I am aware that this does not fit all atheists. There are many atheists who are very bright. There are many who very accomplished academically. My friend Tiny Thinker, for example, has a Ph.D. he is an anthropologist, he's very bright. He's very well read. He is by no means the only atheist who is like this. I know there are many many atheists who are bright and well read. Nevertheless, it seems there is a large segment of them who are just ************* stupid, and as illiterate as if they could not read. Now I know the first thing you are going to say "well you can't spell." But, spelling has nothing to do with intelligence. I hate to shocks with this news, but it's true, spelling has nothing to do with intelligence. It is not a matter of being smart to memorize the spelling of words. Its' not a matter of being stupid if your brain wont let you see the order of the letters. But to figure that "If an't never heerd O somep'n it must be stuoooo-pid" is stupid!

The second thing you are going to say is "whut about all them there creatoinismists and fundametnalismists?" Yes, there are some pretty stupid religious people, but they never seem to say "If science is something whut I don't do, or I don't know about, it must be dumb." I never hear creationists science is stupid, why I learn science,science isn't worth knowing about. Some of them may say that about evolution but they do not saying it about science. Then of course really dumb people have the idea that "well science gives us stuff." It's worth something because it gives us stuff. Of course theology just gives us a bunch of fairly tales. Of course, they think that because they don't know anything about it. When you suggest they learn about it they go "I don't not'n about that so it must not be worth learning." So in other words, theology is no good, because it's unknown to me, and if I haven't learned about something I can't learn about because it may not be worth learning about. The smart people reading this will see immediately this is not a smart person attitude. Smart people like to learn, this is a stupid person's attitude. Learning is only important if I can get some immediate pay back that I can see in the concrete here and now. This is not the way intelligent people think.

Every day people send me comments (most of them I toss) such as these. They are so ignorant they don't even know that theology is considered part of the intellectual mileu and that it's covered in the major universities of the world. That's becasue these people are the one's who don't know and don't think. They take their ques from the learder man, her furer Dawkins, who is a cretan and very anti-intellectual. But he has the mystique of scinece, so (even though he is not a scistist but only Meuseium curator) his peanut gallery would never dare question him and beileve everything he says; because they themselves are empty headed and don't know. Well her furer Dawkins says theology is no good, and sicne I never heerd o it, It must not be no gooooood."

I think it's pretty clear that a large reason for the influx of atheists now days is that their numbers are being swelled by non thinking people who don't know anything about the world of letters. It should be fairly obvious, liberal theology is where the thinkers are, largely. I'm not saying there are no atheist thinkers, or for that matter I'm not saying there are no Evangelical thinkers. But real think do not think this way. Real thinkers do not say "I don't agree with this so its just a pile of shit and i want to continue mocking it but no learn anything about it." This is a dead give away. When you say things like that we smart people know you are not in our ranks. I also suspect that a lot of people saying that are in seventh grade. New Atheism has more to do with a modern teenage identity crisis then it does with any kind of reasoned rejection of religion.

In this society we have forgotten what civilization is. We no longer have a world of letters that is a thriving growing basis for culture. Now the basis of culture is television. Television seeks the stupid people. TV caters to the lowest common denominator. The educational system has given up on education. In the 80's we were stunned to find that our your people were increasing culturally illiterate. We did not do anything about it. Today those kids are adults, who are basically running the world and doing all sorts of jobs and posting on the internet. They never learned anything about books and thinking and now they take that dirth of education to big questions about life that way over their heads, questions with which they totally ill unprepared to deal. They seek to answer these questions in the same illiterate fashion with which they met challenges in school; "I don't understand that, so it must be stupid." According to Ronald Nash:

The United States Department of Education estimates that functional illiteracy, incompetence in such basic functions as reading, writing, and mathematics, plagues 24 million Americans. Thirteen percent of American seventeen-year-olds are illiterate, according to a recent issue of Time; the estimate for minority youth is an astonishing forty percent.[1] Every year, at least a million of these functional illiterates graduate from America's high schools, the proud owners of meaningless diplomas.

Writing in the monthly Commentary, Chester E. Finn, Jr., a professor at Vanderbilt University, cites the dismal findings of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. "Just five percent of seventeen-year-old high school students can read well enough to understand and use information found in technical materials, literary essays, and historical documents."[2] Imagine then how hopeless it is to get the other 95 percent to read Plato or Dante -- or the Bible. "Barely six percent of them," Finn continues, "can solve multi-step math problems and use basic algebra."[3] We're not talking difficult math here but rather something as elementary as calculating simple interest on a loan.

A good deal of the problem goes back to teachers. Educational systems, such as the one in Texas, require teachers to take lots of education courses, and very little actual core content. So they learn what professional educators think they need to know to teach but don't know anything about the things they are to teach. If this seems doubtful consider the fact that Texas has a competency test for teachers, and every year about 60% of the teachers fail the reading portion. Students do somehow learn functional literacy. They can read things on message boards, but they learn little else.

Cultural illiteracy is the burden of a recent book titled What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? The book, co-authored by Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn, Jr., reports what has been learned from the first nation-wide academic assessment of American seventeen-year-olds. The national average of right answers for the history questions was 54.5 percent; the average for the literature questions was even lower, 51.8 percent. The authors point out that if we approach these percentages from the commonly accepted view that 60 percent is the line between passing and failing, American students are in deep trouble.

A few examples from the Ravitch and Finn book may help underscore how bad things really are. Take the matter of history, for example. An astonishing 31.9 percent of seventeen-year-olds do not know that Columbus discovered the New World before 1750. Almost 75 percent could not place Lincoln's presidency within the correct twenty-year span, and 43 percent did not know that World War I occurred during the first half of the twentieth century.

One third in the Finn books could locate France on a map of Europe and less than half could locate New York on a Map of the United states.

The test also examined seventeen-year-olds' familiarity with important literature. The results were equally depressing. Almost 35 percent did not know that "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." are words from the Declaration of Independence, and more than 40 percent did not know that Dicken's Tale of Two Cities described events occurring during the French Revolution. I suppose there is something fitting and prophetic about the fact that the last item on the literature test indicates that almost 87 percent of American seventeen-year-olds are ignorant of the content of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

I am sure that a large portion of people saying "why should I learn theology, I would rather mock religion than learn about it" are among these groups. They are culturally illiterate, they do not understand what intellectual life is, they don't understand that there is a world of letters, and they don't get that theology is part of that world. Since they don't know anything about theology, they think that it's just about the "buy-bull." Theology is just learning a bunch of Bible verses. But you can't do theology well in the modern world without first understanding liberal arts in general. The ranks of modern theologians include some of the most Brilliant minds who ever lived. Most of them were people who excelled in other areas and found God among their life's calling, so they take those other areas to their theological work. Thus you cannot understand modern liberal theology without a good background in liberal arts, including philosophy, social sciences and language. Perkins School of Theology At Southern Methodist University requires a BA to get in, they wont take you if all you have is Bible training. It's a real graduate school, it's notoriously had to make "A."

Theologians, some of the most Brilliant minds

Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead (b.1861 - d.1947), British mathematician, logician and philosopher best known for his work in mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. In collaboration with Bertrand Russell, he authored the landmark three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910, 1912, 1913) and contributed significantly to twentieth-century logic and metaphysics.

He is the major driving force behind process theology. Even though Process has many antecedents, we could say he is the "inventor" of process thought. Whitehead wanted to be a preist as a young man. He went to Cardinal Newman for advice and became an atheist for a reason no one understands. He did wind up a believer and very critical of atheist thinking.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar (1905-1988)

Has been called one of the most Erudite men of the twentieth century. He's authored a thousand books. He was a best friend of JPII.

Though not invited to be present at the Second Vatican Council, Balthasar was later awarded the prestigious Paul VI Prize for theology, and at the time of his death in 1988 was about to be made a Cardinal by John Paul II.

Through the influence of his ideas not only on the Pope but also on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, with whom he founded the journal Communio, and on the Catechism of the Catholic Church which later consolidated the teaching of the Council and the postconciliar popes, Balthasar — building on the almost equally monumental work of his teacher, Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ (d. 1991) — has without doubt helped to shape the form of Catholicism and the direction of its development well into the new century...

Theology, Balthasar believed, is supposed to be the study of the fire and light that burn at the centre of the world. Theologians had reduced it to the turning of pages in a dessicated catalogue of ideas — a kind of butterfly collection for the mind. The philosopher Maurice Blondel had warned as far back as 1870 (in his groundbreaking thesis L'Action) of the danger in treating God in this way: "As soon as we regard him from without as a mere object of knowledge, or a mere occasion for speculative study, without freshness of heart and the unrest of love, then all is over, and we have in our hands nothing but a phantom and an idol."

Balthasar studied philosophy and German literature at the universities of Zurich, Vienna, and Berlin.

Charles Hartshorne (1897-2003)

Hartshorne's accomplishments go far beyond that of resorting the ontological argument, but he did do that. He also invented S5 modal logic, and thus earned the respect of logicians around the world. Earned his Ph.D. From Harvard in 1923 in philosophy. In addition to the modal argument one of his major contributions to theology was his contribution to process theology. Next to Whitehead he was probably the greatest influence upon process theology. He spent two years studying with both Husserl and Heidegger, both major philosophers of the twentieth century. He taught at the Universities of Chicago and Texas.

Crisis in applied theology

Applied theology is training ministers to deal with the nuts and bolts of running a church. Now there is a crisis in finding people to teach the subject. This is not becasue people don't believe anymore.Academic standards have grown so high to keep pace the rest of theology that they can't find people with the proper background who can also make it through the rest of the seminary.

Then, even as vacancies increased, a second storm surge hit: theological schools gradually began to set higher standards for faculty in the ministry fields. Once seen as merely "applied theology or "helps and hints for church leaders," the practical theological disciplines now involve critical and original thinking about theologically saturated religious practices. Today teaching the arts of ministry requires a different kind of expertise, a different level of academic training and a different set of credentials. At one time, when a theological school needed a professor of church administration, preaching or worship, it searched the ranks of accomplished clergy. Often these seasoned practitioners did a capable job teaching the lore and wisdom of their craft. But they were sometimes less successful in conducting research, introducing innovations into their fields and participating in ongoing scholarly conversation,

Go back to the nineteenth century you have brilliant thinkers like Hegel and Keikegaard among the ranks of the theologians.

Of course this is all wasted on the people who say these things because they are too stupid understand what it takes to learn Greek, they don't know shit about philosophy so they don't see that as an accomplishment even if it is required to do theology. When you talk to scientists they usually don't say "O everything but science is stupid, we in science have the only form of knowledge and its' all you need to know." But these litterateur idiots who follow Dawkins really believe that because they don't shit about science. Of course they want desperately to believe that I have had no experince in graduate school because they have to dismiss my arguments since they fear God and fear hell. They want desperately to believe that the character assassination lies about me are true. Yet they are not true, and I have offered to prove it but they are such cowards they were always afraid to make the phone call to the University department where the secretary knows I was Ph.D. student for several years. In my educational experince I have found many brilliant professors who were inclined to accept that theology is a vital and valuable field. One of them was a philosopher from Tubengine the major university in Germany, he said that Jurgen Motlmann (a modern theologian) is always of interest to the philosophers in Germany and they follow his progress. My Greek Teacher from Harvard said that the found Christians at every level in academia and that he had great respect for the divinity students at his school, Yale. In Doctoral work one of the professors for whom I was teaching assistant, taught history of science, the studied with the great Stephan Toolman, and he had great respect for theologians, he was interested in theology, and we talked about it all the time.

I'm sure none of this will many anything to these eighth graders. Nothing will get through to them becasue they don't have the brains to understand what's what. So form now on, I will not allow their contribution becasue it is a worthless contribution.

new rules

(1) I will no longer post comments by people calling themselves "anonymous." If you can't commit to a screen you don't have any business on my blog. One of my reasons for this is that the original "anonymous" I am constantly confusing with other people calling themselve that. I don't know which is him and which is not sometimes. So Anon, I do want you to contribute, but please pick a screen name.

(2) thou shalt not mock theology.

Perkins school of theology

is a world famous theological seminary. It's the flagship of the united Methodist fleet of seminaries, which includes Emory University that is one of the top Universities in the country. Perkins is known and respected around the world. It had several major world famous theologians; Schuber M. Ogden, Frederick Carney, William Abraham, William S. Babcock, Neil MacFarland, Fred Streung, just to name a few

I will no longer tolerate statements disparaging theology, especially Perkins. If you are so God damn stupid that you can't figure out that if you haven't heard of it, it could be becasue its over your head and your too stupid to know about it, if you can't realize this, then are too stupid to post here. This blog is for intelligent readers who want to learn.

Apparently there is some kind of food service organization of store called "Perkins" and some moron out there thinks its so hilarious to compare the seminary to the truck stop or whatever it is. That brings to a message I have for that person. There is something you can eat...guess what that is?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

God arguments are a take on Reality

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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.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jesus Myth Theory: the final nails


There are two basic reasons we can put this nonsense behind us:

(1) There is no reason why we have to theorize that the original evangelists strooped to copying pagan lore when all the elements of the dying rising messiah were present in Judaism.

(2) We can prove Jesus existed as a man in history.

The Whole thesis that the story of Jesus is shaped out of bits and pieces of the mono myth, archetypes from all cultures that make up the basis of all mythology, is extraneous to the facts. All the elements of the Jesus story come from Judaism, including that of the suffering Messiah whose death has atoning implications for his people. This is nothing new. This fact has been known for more than two decades. It comes from several fragments found at Qumran, suggesting that Messiah would atone for the sins of Israel. In fact, the atonement implications were discussed in his book The Dead Sea Scrolls by John Allegro as ealry as 1962. But fragments from Qumran were discovered in the 80s.

Dead Sea Scrolls Isaiah 9

[John Allegro, The Dead Sea scrolls, Pelican, 1956] Allegro was the only member of the original translation team who was neither Christain nor Jew, but claimed "nutrality." However, he was criticized by other members of the team as being anti-Chrsitian and skeptical]

[the most ancient source--pre Christian]

"In one of their hyms the sect pictures itself as a pregant woman suffering the pangs of parturition as she gives birth to her 'firstborn' who is described in terms reminiscent of the Child of Isaish 9:6, the 'Wonderful Counsellor.' Most scholars agree that the passage retains its biblical Messianic significance, in which case it appears that the Sect believed that out of its suffering of atonement for 'the land' would come the Anointed One or Christ."

DSS Testament of Levi-- 2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I/

2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II

Messianic Hopes in the

Qumran Writings

Florentino Garcia Martinez

Florentino Garcia Martinez is professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he heads the Qumran Institute. This chapter is reprinted from The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Florentino Garcia Martinez and Julio Trebolle Barrera (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995).

Section 1:

"In spite of that, the general lines of the text are clear enough to assure us that in Qumran interpretation, Jacob's blessing of Judah was seen as a promise of the restoration of the davidic monarchy and of the perpetuity of his royal office. And since the future representative of the dynasty is identified not only as the shoot of David, but also explicitly as the "true anointed," there remains no doubt about the "messianic" tone of the text. Unfortunately, the details which the text provides about this "Messiah" are not many."

section 5

"... However, a recently published text enables us to glimpse an independent development of the hope in the coming of the "priestly Messiah" as an agent of salvation at the end of times."

"It is an Aramaic text, one of the copies of the Testament of Levi, recently published by E. Puech,32 which contains interesting parallels to chapter 19 of the Greek Testament of Levi included in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs. From what can be deduced from the remains preserved, the protagonist of the work (probably the patriarch Levi, although it cannot be completely excluded that it is Jacob speaking to Levi) speaks to his descendants in a series of exhortations. He also relates to them some of the visions which have been revealed to him. In one of them, he tells them of the coming of a mysterious person. Although the text is hopelessly fragmentary it is of special interest since it seems to evoke the figure of a "priestly Messiah." This "Messiah" is described with the features of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, as J. Starcky indicated in his first description of the manuscript.33 The two longest and most important fragments of this new text can be translated as follows:

2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I

1 [. . .] the sons of the generation [. . .] 2 [. . .] his wisdom. And he will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of 3 his people. His word is like the word of the heavens, and his teaching, according to the will of God. His eternal sun will shine 4 and his fire will burn in all the ends of the earth; above the darkness his sun will shine. Then, darkness will vanish 5 from the earth, and gloom from the globe. They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of 6 lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him. His generation will change the evil, 7 and [. . .] established in deceit and in violence. The people will go astray in his days and they will be bewildered (DSST, 270).

.... The priestly character of this figure is indicated expressly by his atoning character: "And he will atone for all the children of his generation...."

The agreement of the person thus described with the "Messiah-priest" described in chapter 18 of the Greek Testament of Levi is surprising.34 At least it shows us that the presence of this priestly figure in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs should not simply be ascribed to interpolations or Christian influence. Rather, it is a development which exists already within Judaism. This text also shows us that the portrayal of this "Messiah-priest" with the features of the "Suffering Servant" of Deutero-Isaiah is not an innovation of purely Christian origin either, but the result of previous developments. Our text stresses that although he would be sent "to all the sons of his people," the opposition to this figure, "light of the nations" (Isaiah 42:6) would be great: "They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him" (compare Isaiah 50:6&endash;8; 53:2&endash;10). What is more, according to the editor, it cannot be excluded that the Aramaic text even contained the idea of the violent death of this "Messiah-priest." In other words, this opposition would reach its ultimate outcome as in Isaiah 53. His argument comes from the other fairly extensive fragment of the work, in which possible allusions to a violent death by crucifixion are found. However, to me this interpretation seems problematic. The fragment in question can be translated as follows:

2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II 2 Do not mourn for him [. . .] and do not [. . .] 3 And God will notice the failings [. . .] the uncovered failings [. . .] 4 Examine, ask and know what the dove has asked; do not punish one weakened because of exhaustion and from being uncertain a[ll . . .] 5 do not bring the nail near him. And you will establish for your father a name of joy, and for your brothers you will make a tested foundation rise. 6 You will see it and rejoice in eternal light. And you will not be of the enemy. Blank 7 Blank (DSST, 270).

... Whatever might be the possible allusion to the death of the expected "Messiah-priest," the identification of this figure with the "Servant" of Isaiah seems confirmed by the parallels indicated in fragment 9. In any case, the idea that the eventual death of the "Messiah-priest" could have an atoning role, as Christian tradition attributes to the death of the "Servant," is excluded from our text since the atonement he achieves (frag. 9 II 2) remains in the perspective of the cult.

As far as I know, this is the only text which in the preserved sections deals with the priestly "Messiah" alone. However, many other texts refer to this figure when speaking of a two-fold messianism. This is the two-headed messianism in which we are presented with the "davidic or royal Messiah" and the "levitical or priestly Messiah" together. They are called the "Messiahs of Israel and of Aaron" respectively."

[Martinez urges scholarly caution as the scrolls are very fragmentary, there is no guarontee they do not contiain references to other Messianich figures as well, and the notion of a curcifiction for the presitly Messiah is doubtful for several reasons, pertaining to the nture of the text--but his overall opinion seems to be that the concept of a Preistly Messiah on the order of the suffering servant is vindicated]

Qumran text, 4Q521

Hebrew Scholars Michael Wise and James Tabor wrote an article that appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review (Nov./Dec. 1992) analyzing 4Q521:

"Our Qumran text, 4Q521, is, astonishingly, quite close to this Christian concept of the Messiah. Our text speaks not only of a single Messianic figure.but it also describes him in extremely exalted terms, quite like the Christian view of Jesus as a cosmic agent. That there was, in fact, an expectation of a single Messianic figure at Qumran is really not so surprising. A reexamination of the Qumran literature on this subject leads one to question the two Messiah theory. As a matter of fact, only once in any Dead Sea Scroll text is the idea of two Messiahs stated unambiguously.


"There is no doubt that the Qumran community had faith in the ultimate victory of such a Messiah over all evil. However, a closer reading of these texts reveals an additional theme, equally dominant-that of an initial, though temporary, triumph of wicked over righteousness. That is, there was the belief among the Qumran community that the Messiah would suffer initial defeat, but that he would ultimately triumph in the end of days."

Of course I'm sure that mythers will reach for straws and argue that there was earlier pagan influence upon the Jews from Egypt. At that point we are just not talking about the same things anymore. The bread and whine are found in the passover ceremony which do have roots in arab culture, but thousands of years back. There is just no reason to pushing the pretense at that point. We don't need to reach for the pagan parallels to explain the major elements in the story.

In the words of the great scholar Franz Cumont, often quoted and admired by the Mythers themselves: "resemblances do not necessarily suppose an imitation," (The Mysteries of Mithra, p 194).

In terms of the second point: We can prove Jesus existed in history.

First, there are two important observations to make about the myther's standard of evidence:

(1) They do not use a historical standard. the demand a level of documentation that would only be possible in the modern world with the 6:00 news.

They do not seem to understand that documented sources on scene, form the hour,t he day even same year as the events are extremely rare. They poo poo the use of any historian because historians write years after the event and the level of documentation they exact is up to the minute. But no other figure in history can be documented in this manner prior to the invention of the telegraph. Almost all reports from the ancient world are written years after the fact. Now it's true that most are not written sixty years after, but even a couple of years is rare. This is not impossible but its not the norm either. Arguments made by mythers about trying to compare the solidity of documents proving Caesar existed to those of Jesus, are silly comparisons. Of course Cesar can be documented more easily than Jesus Caesar controlled the known world, he was the most important man in his day from the perspective of the world as such. Jesus was an unknown peasant. Events in the Roman world had importance only in relation to Rome. Jesus did not have much proximity to Rome, Geographically, politically, culturally, economically or otherwise.

Most of the Mythicist arguments turn on an argument from silence that fails to appreciate the true nature of history or documentation in the Roman world. For example, some will argue Philo doesn't mention Jesus, as though he should hear all about some guy in Palestine with no polsitical position, money or military accomplishment. With Messiahs and saviors and prophet figures cropping up every day out in the desert, and Philo in Rome or elsewhere most of the time, why should he hear about Jesus? If he did why should should he take note? Most of these internet sketpics seem obvious to the fact that they did not have the evening news.

(2) the use a totally a historical standard of proof.

Historians used to believe that Pilate didn't exist, because he was not mentioned outside the Bible. Then they found two mentions of him and now they accept his existence. But Jesus mythers want to see birth certificate, driver's license appearance on the 6:00 news and so on. There doesn't have to be that much material to demonstrate Jesus existence. Two good reasonable mentions by historians or sources who were in an authoritative position or in a position to know should do it. There are many more than two references. Let's go with three.

(1) The Gospels Themselves: all 34 of them.

The Mythers just refuse to the accept the Gospels at any price, but that is not the standard used by historians or scholars. The former darling of the atheists, John Dominick Crosson hinsts that Doherty doesn't know much and states explicitly that he acceptes Jesus as historical becasue he is testified to in the Gospels.

John Dominic Crossan


The full review is at:

If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption.

I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.

It was, however, that hypothesis taken not as a settled conclusion, but as a simple question that was behind the first pages of BofC when I mentioned Josephus and Tacitus. I do not think that either of them checked out Jewish or Roman archival materials about Jesus. I think they were expressing the general public knowledge that "everyone" had about this weird group called Christians and their weird founder called Christ. The existence, not just of Christian materials, but of those other non-Christian sources, is enough to convince me that we are dealing with an historical individual. Furthermore, in all the many ways that opponents criticized earliest Christianity, nobody ever suggested that it was all made up. That in general, is quite enough for me.

There was one other point where I think Earl Doherty simply misstated what I did. In BofC, after the initial sections on materials and methods (1-235), I spent about equal time in Galilee (237-406) , or at least to the north, and in Jerusalem with pre-Pauline materials (407-573). I agree that if we had a totally different and irreconcilable vision/program between Paul and Q (just to take an example), it would require some very good explaining. Part of what I was doing, for example, in talking about the Common Meal Tradition was showing how even such utterly distinct eucharistic scenarios as Didache 9-10 and I Cor 11-12 have rather fascinating common elements behind and between them. It is a very different thing, in summary, for Paul to say that he is not interested in the historical Jesus (Jesus in the flesh) than to say that "no Galilee and no historical Jesus lie behind Paul."M


Crosson's Asnwer:I am not certain, Neil, that I have much to add to my previous post. I do not claim "ideological immunity" against the possibility that the historical Jesus never existed. That such a person existed is an historical conclusion for me, and neither a dogmatic postulate nor a theological presupposition. My very general arguments are: (1) that existence is given in Christian, pagan, and Jewish sources; (2) it is never negated by even the most hostile critics of early Christianity (Jesus is a bastard and a fool but never a myth or a fiction!); (3) there are no historical parallels that I know of from that time and period that help me understand such a total creation. There is, however, a fourth point that I touched on in BofC 403-406. It is crucially important for me that Jesus sent out companions and told them to do exactly what he was doing (not in his name, but as part of the Kingdom of God). The most basic continuity that I see between Jesus and those companions was, as I put it, not in mnemonics, but in mimetics. In other words, they were imitating his lifestyle and not just remembering his words. I find that emphasized in the Q Gospel’s indictment of those who talk, but do not do, and in the Didache’s emphasis on the ways (tropoi) of the Lord (not just words/logoi). When, therefore, I look at a phrase such as "blessed are the destitute," and am quite willing to argue that it comes from the historical Jesus, I am always at least as sure that it represents the accurate summary of an attitude as the accurate recall of a saying. For analogy: If Gandhi had developed a large movement after his death of people who are living in non-violent resistance to oppression, and one of them cited an aphorism of Gandhi, namely "if you do not stand on a small bug, why would you stand on a Big Bug," I would be more secure on the continuity in lifestyle than in memory and could work on that as basis.

It doesn't matter that these were not the eye witnesses the Gospels were named after. The whole community was witness to Jesus existence.

It's not just the canonicals. There are 34 Gospels that are known are thought to exist, taking into account, fragments, theories such as Q and so forth. Many of them are dated to the first century. They all depict Jesus as flesh and blood. Not one of the early one's depicts him in any other way. All the lost Gospels take him to be a man in history.

Story by Kay Albright, (785) 864-8858

University Relations, the public relations office for the University of Kansas Lawrence campus. Copyright 1997

LAWRENCE - Fragments of a fourth-century Egyptian manuscript contain a lost gospel dating from the first or second century, according to Paul Mirecki, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Kansas.

Mirecki discovered the manuscript in the vast holdings of Berlin's Egyptian Museums in 1991. The book contains a rare "dialogue gospel" with conversations between Jesus and his disciples, shedding light on the origins of early Judaisms and Christianities.

The lost gospel, whose original title has not survived, has similarities to the Gospel of John and the most famous lost gospel, the gospel of Thomas, which was discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The newly discovered gospel is written in Coptic, the ancient Egyptian language using Greek letters. Mirecki said the gospel was probably the product of a Christian minority group called Gnostics, or "knowers."

Mirecki said the discussion between Jesus and his disciples probably takes place after the resurrection, since the text is in the same literary genre as other post-resurrection dialogues, though the condition of the manuscript makes the time element difficult to determine.

"This lost gospel presents us with more primary evidence that the origins of early Christianity were far more diverse than medieval church historians would tell us," Mirecki said. "Early orthodox histories denigrated and then banished from political memory the existence of these peaceful people and their sacred texts, of which this gospel is one."

Mirecki is editing the manuscript with Charles Hedrick, professor of religious studies at Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield. Both men independently studied the manuscript while working on similar projects in Berlin.

A chance encounter at a professional convention in 1995 in Philadelphia made both men realize that they were working on the same project. They decided to collaborate, and their book will be published this summer by Brill Publishers in the Netherlands.

The calfskin manuscript is damaged, and only 15 pages remain. Mirecki said it was probably the victim of an orthodox book burning in about the fifth century.

The 34 Gospels

Bible Review, June 2002: 20-31; 46-47

Charles W. Hendrick, professor who discovered the lost Gospel of the Savior tells us

Mirecki and I are not the first scholars to find a new ancient gospel. In fact scholars now have copies of 19 gospels (either complete, in fragments or in quotations), written in the first and second centuries A.D— nine of which were discovered in the 20th century. Two more are preserved, in part, in other andent writings, and we know the names of several others, but do not have copies of them. Clearly, Luke was not exaggerating when he wrote in his opening verse: "Many undertook to compile narratives [aboutJesus]" (Luke 1:1). Every one of these gospels was deemed true and sacred by at least some early Christians

These Gospels demonstrate a great diversity among the early chruch, the diminish the claims of an orthodox purity. On the other hand, they tell us more about the historical Jesus as well. One thing they all have in common is to that they show Jesus as a historical figure, working in public and conducting his teachings before people, not as a spirit being devoid of human life.Hendrick says,"Gospels-whether canonical or not- are collections of anecdotes from Jesus' public career."

Many of these lost Gospels pre date the canonical gospels, which puts them prior to AD 60 for Mark:


The Gospel of the Saviour, too. fits this description. Contrary' to popular opinion, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not included m the canon simply because they were the earliest gospels or because they were eyewitness accounts. Some non canonical gospels are dated roughly to the same period, and the canonical gospels and other early Christian accounts appear to rely on earlier reports. Thus, as far as the physical evidence is concerned, the canonical gospels do not take precedence over the noncanonical gospels. The fragments of John, Thomas and theEgerton Gospel share the distinction of being the earliest extant pieces of Christian writing known. And although the existing manuscript evidence for Thomas dates to the mid-second century, the scholars who first published the Greek fragments held open the possibility that it was actually composed in the first century, which would put it around the time John was composed.

Using the science of Textual criticism Koestler demonstrates that the Gospel material was written and circulated in written form as early as mid century, and this includes the story of the empty tomb. Many sources can be shown to per date Mark. The Gospel material was circulating in many forms prior to its final closure in the form of the four that we know as canonical. There was Thomas, Peter, the saying source Paul used, Q, Pre Mark non Q and so on. see my pages on: Gospel Behind the Gospels (2 pages). What all of this means is the figure of Jesus as flesh and blood human was circulating from a verity of sources, not all of them acceptable to Orthodoxy as early as the middle of the first century. As far back as that period Jesus is a flesh and blood man in history.

(2) The Talmud

Talmudic Evidence is hard to sift through.

Jews self censored the Talmud to remove mentions of Jesus, thus modern Jews deny that it is talking about him, while ancient rabbis used examples supposedly speaking of him for centuries. But what cannot be denied is that the Talmud gives evidence of Christians believing in Jesus as a flesh and blood rabbi from the late first century, which contradicts the Jesus myth theory.

There is a history of the Talmud

The Babylonian Talmud

translated by MICHAEL L. RODKINSON
Book 10 (Vols. I and II)
The History of the Talmud

from Vol I chapter II

Thus the study of the Talmud flourished after the destruction of the Temple, although beset with great difficulties and desperate struggles. All his days, R. Johanan b. Zakkai was obliged to dispute with Sadducees and Bathueians and, no doubt, with the Messiahists also; for although these last were Pharisees, they differed in many points from the teaching of the Talmud after their master, Jesus, had broken with the Pharisees

This clearly indicates that Jesus was followed by Christians who understood him as a Rabbi in the late first century, but the Jesus myth theory says that it was only in the second century that began to put a concrete history to Jesus. Note this history indicates that they had a history about him as they said he had been a pharisee.

The index indicates that this statement is from the time covering the late first century.
Index to the wrok

The Talmud is Rabbinical commentaries that begin about the second century but they draw upon even older material. some parts of the Jerusalem Talmud go back to the frist century and even before:

Michael L Rodkinson

"History of Talmud"

"The Talmud is a combination of Mishna and Gemara, the latter is a collection of Mishnayoth, Tosephtas, Mechilta, Siphra, Siphre and Boraithas, all of these, interpreted and discussed by the Amoraim, Saboraim, and also Gaonim at a later period. "The Mishna is the authorized codification of the oral or unwritten law, which on the basis of the written law contained in Pentateuch, developed during the second Temple, and down to the end of the second century of the common era." The author of which was R. Jehuda, the prince named "Rabbi" (flourishing toward the end of the second century), taking the unfinished work of R. Akiba and R. Meir as basis."

It seems pretty obvious that the Talmud is discussing Jesus, at least in some enstances. A summary of what the most liley passages say about theone I take to be Jesus of Nazerath makes this clear:

a Summary of what is said about the charactors who seem go by these names:

*He was born under unusual circumstances, leading some rabbis to address him as ben Pandira and " a bastard of an adulteress."
*mother Mary was Heli's daughter.
*was crucified on the eve of Passover.
* made himself alive by the name of God.
* was a son of a woman. (cf. Galatians 4:4)
* claimed to be God, the son of God, the son of man.
* ascended and claimed that he would return again.
* was near to the kingdom and near to kingship.
* had at least five disciples.
* performed miracles, i.e. practiced "sorcery".
* name has healing power.
* teaching impressed one rabbi.
The Talmud essentially affirms the New Testament teaching on the life and person of Jesus Christ, God's unique Son and Savior of the world.

Before going into that we need to understand what we are looking for. The Talmudic writters don't say "O Jesus of Nazerath is who we are talking about." The counch things in langaue form their world is very different to anything modern Christian would expect to find. they have many nicknames for Jesus, both as derogatory and as part of the self censering. soem of these can be translated as "may his name be blotted out" Others are of doubtful origin, but it is asserted strongly by Rabbis over the centuries that they are Talking about Jesus.Some of htese names include:

*Ben Stada
*Ben Pantira


The pagan detractor of Christianity,Celsus, demonstrates a connection to the material of the Talmud, indicating that that material about Jesus was around in a least the second century. Since Jewish sources would not have been available to Celsus it seems reasonable to assume that this information had been floating around for some time, and easier to obtain. Therefore, we can at least went back to the early second, late first century.

Origin quoting Celsus: Jesus had come from a village in Judea, and was the son of a poor Jewess who gained her living by the work of her own hands. His mother had been turned out of doors by her husband, who was a carpenter by trade, on being convicted of adultery [with a soldier named Panthéra (i.32)]. Being thus driven away by her husband, and wandering about in disgrace, she gave birth to Jesus, a bastard. Jesus, on account of his poverty, was hired out to go to Egypt. While there he acquired certain (magical) powers which Egyptians pride themselves on possessing. He returned home highly elated at possessing these powers, and on the strength of them gave himself out to be a god."

So we estabilsh:

(1) Mary was poor and worked with her hands

(2) husband was a carpenter

(3)Mary committed adultery with Roman soldier named Panthera. (where have we heard this before?)

(4) Jesus as bastard

(5) driven to Egypt where Jesus leanred magic.

All of these points are made in the Talmudic passages. This can be seen both above and on the next page. The use of the name Panthera is a dead give away. Clearly Celsus got this info from the Talmud. Christians never used the name Panthera. He could only have gotten it form the Talmud and these are very charges the Talmudists made.

Here is a Mishna passage, which makes most of the points. Being from the Mishna it would draw upon first century material:

If one writes on his flesh, he is culpable; He who scratches a mark on his flesh. He who scratches a mark on his flesh, [etc.] It was taught, R. Eliezar said to the sages: But did not Ben Stada bring forth witchcraft from Egypt by means of scratches [in the form of charms] upon his flesh? He was a fool, answered they, proof cannot be adduced from fools. [Was he then the son of Stada: surely he was the son of Pandira? - Said R. Hisda: The husband was Stada, the paramour was Pandira. But the husband was Pappos b. Judah? - his mother was Stada. But his mother was Miriam the hairdresser? - It is as we said in Pumbeditha: This is one has been unfaithful to (lit., 'turned away from'- satath da) her husband.]
(Shabbath 104b)

In fact Origin himself almost hints at special knowledge of Jesus "true" origins, what would that knowledge be? Christian knowledge would be positive and not contain many of the points, such as Mary being a spinner or hair dresser. No Christians ever said that. It was suspect for a woman to work. That's an insult to her.

The following quotes are taken from Celsus On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffman, Oxford University Press, 1987:


"Let us imagine what a Jew- let alone a philosopher- might say to Jesus: 'Is it not true, good sir, that you fabricated the story of your birth from a virgin to quiet rumourss about the true and insavoury circumstances of your origins? Is it not the case that far from being born in the royal David's city of bethlehem, you were born in a poor country town, and of a woman who earned her living by spinning? Is it not the case that when her deceit was uncovered, to wit, that she was pregnant by a roman soldier called Panthera she was driven away by her husband- the carpenter- and convicted of adultery?" (57).

why a Jew? or Philospher? Celsus was obviously reading the Jewish sources. This is one of the charges made in the Talmud.

Here he claims to have secret knowledge that Christians don't have:

"I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)." (62).

where is that from? It has to be the Talmud, or sources commonly drawn upon by the Talmud.

But how does this prove it was Jesus? Celsus sure thought it was. Apparently his Jewish contacts told him this is the straight scoop on Jesus' life. We see that everywhere in the Talmud Jesus is talked about as a living person,and connections are made to his family and genealogy.

Shomoun, Ibid:

R. Shimeaon ben 'Azzai said: I found a genealogical roll in Jerusalem wherein was recorded, "Such-an-one is a bastard of an adulteress." McDowell and Wilson state, on the authority of Joseph Klausner, that the phrase such-an-one "is used for Jesus in the Ammoraic period (i.e., fifth century period)." (McDowell & Wilson, p. 69)

According to the Jewish Tractate of Talmud, the Chagigah a certain person had a dream in which he saw the punishment of the damned. In the dream, "He saw Mary the daughter of Heli amongst the shades..." (John Lightfoot, Commentary On the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica [Oxford University Press, 1859; with a second printing from Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1995], vol. 1, p. v; vol. 3, p.55)

Celsus pushes the knowledge back to late second century, but due to the access for Rabbinical writings it must have been around for some time before that. The Jews were very consicous of geneologies and family connections. why wouldthey not pick up on the fact that Jesus had none and no one had ever seen him personaly, if indeed that was the case?

(3) Josephus' "brother" of James passage.

Despite hoards of evidence, skeptics have managed to convence themselves that the Testimonium Flavianum is fabricated (here's proof that it isn't). The way atheists on the net work is, if certain websites say something is the csae, it is the case and to deny it is so stupid one darn attempt the denial. If the IIB said grass is pink and grows down instead of up, there's just another reason to assume Christians are stupid! Therefore, they treat the TF's alleged fabrication as an absolute fact and if one doesn't go along with it one is just denying something so obvious he might as well deny that life is real. In a sort of guilt by association move they have managed to convence themselves that since the TF is fabed then it only follows that the brother passage must be too.But in point of fact there are no scholarly arguments for this, the same kind of evidence for that does not exist. There is no good reason to assume that the brotehr passage is not a frank and authentic historical reference to Jesus' existence:

But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as law-breakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.(Jospheus "brother of James passage")

Lacking any real evidence of fabrication, atheists just assume it by association but I've seen two arguments which, as my old sainted granny would say, "take the cake!" The first one is a frank denial that it's the same guy! This is rich, there was another James with another brother named Jesus who just happened to also be thought of as the Messaih! The other argument is more particle but shows a real ignorance of historical method: "it was written several years after his death." That's the demand for a report from the 6:00 news again. The fact of the matter is, this constitutes a valid and authentic historical reference from outside the new testament. If we treat those 34 lost Gospels as one source, this makes three reference. Its' actually a mot more than that because we 34 lost Gospels, the four canonicals, Talmudic references and Celsus, Jospheus brother passage and we are not even counting Papias and Polycarp who appeal to eye witness testimony.

The hilarious nature of the charge that there's a different James and a different Jesus just staggers the imagination. Think about it. We are supposed to believe that not only was there another guy named Jesus was had a brother named James, who was head of Jerusalem church and was taken to be Messiah, but somehow that Jesus, who apparently was a historical guy, didn't ground the Jesus myth in a concrete history, some how the fictional Jesus and the real Jesus were kept separate until the second century when the fictional Jesus could be given a real background, which included James his bother as head of the church stoned in the same circumstances of which Josephus speaks. Of course the skeptics could say well this Josephus James taken to be the real one and his brother Jesus was confused with the mythological Jesus and so that gave him a concrete history earlier than we thought. But then what's the difference in that a real historical Jesus? Any way you look at it it's stupid! It's all going come down to saying "there was a real guy but we don't know much about him." However, if they say that, the Jesus myth is gone. Its' not a mythology anymore, its' a real guy whose history is kind of shadowy and we have to dig to learn more about him. I predict that will not satisfy the mythers.

Not only do they muliply Jameses and Jesus's but also Peter's and Paul's. Now they deny that Paul was a real guy. So we have a myth spreading the gospel of another myth. Nothing short of absurd. Everything time anything counts against their view they try to same the paradigm by violating Occam's razor and Multiply Jesus and his side kicks beyond necessity.

The obvious simple logical solution is just to admit there was a guy named Jesus who was some kind of Rabbi, probably taken to be Messiah by some set of groupies, and now we can happily blog away arguing about how much we really know about him!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Now for some real fun: Modal Argument

Charles Hartshorne 1897-2000
Modern Champion of the modal argument

What follows is one of the most challenging subjects you will ever hear about. It is the best way to get a head ache, but I think it proves the existence of God. The problem is it requires a very specialized background to understand it. First you have to understand modal logic.

Modal Logic is so called because it turns upon the use of so called "modal operators." It's called "modal" because it is the logic of modes of being. "modes" as in what type of existnce something exits in, weather it is dependent upon other things, weather it can cease or fail to exist and so forth. The modal operators are "necessity," "contingency" "impossibly," "possibility."

Necessity and contingency lie at the base of our modern understanding of cause and effect. They come from scholastic notions of logic, but the distinction between the notion our modern notions of c/e and the shcoalstic ones in the middle ages is not that great. The scholastics had more levels of cause, efficient cause, final cause and several others. But one could everything we have done in modern science using the scholastic ideas of c/e.

Necessity doesn't mean has to exist. It doesn't mean God is necessary to the existence of the world (except in so far as if God exists then of closure God is necessary to the world as creator--without God there would be no world).The modal arguemnt does not begin with the assumption that God has to exist. It begins with the assumption that there is a valid distinction between necessity and contingency, which there must be.It proceeds along the lines of hypothetical consequence that obtain from different scenarios of God's existence. It concludes that is necessary. But by "necessary" it means not contingent, or not dependent upon something else for its' existence.

This is often misconstrued by atheists and taken to mean the argument proceeds from God's existence as an assumed first premise. This is not the case, the first premise is either/or. Either God's existence is necessary or it is impossible. This allows for the possibility that there is no God. So the argument does not begin by "defining God into existence."

Necessity means either non dependent or cannot cease or fail. By "fail" I mean there could not not be a God. That is the conclusion of the argument, not the premise.

Contingent means the opposite: that a thing is dependent upon a prior thing for existence, or that it could cease or fail to exist.

Impossible means logically impossible, something in the structure of the idea contradictions, such as square circles.

one of the sore spots that atheists get stuck on is the idea that God cannot be contingent. They will always leap to the conclusion that this is defining God into existence, because they don't understand the concept of God. God, by the nature of the concept, carriers certain parameters just as the existence of any human assumes humanity, or the existence of any tree assumes that the tree in question is a plant. To have to define that God is not contingent should not even come into it. The idea of God is that of eternal creator of all things. Thus God cannot cease to exits and cannot be dependent upon anything (or he wouldn't be the creator of all things). Atheists usually assume that all knowledge has to be empirical. they will argue this is defining God into existence. maybe God is contingent.

Maybe there is a begin like the one we talk about but he's not eternal or the creator of all things, but that means he's not the God we are talking about.

Hartshorne's version goes like this:

1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
3) By definition God cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore God is either necessary or impossible.
5) God is not impossible (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.

Argument:my version

1) God can be analytically conceived, as eternal necessary being, without contradiction.

2) Therefore God is not impossible,(because no contradiction).

3) By definition God cannot be contingent (becasue God is eteral).

4) Therefore if God exists, God's existence is necessary, if God does not exist, it is because God is impossible.

5) God is not impossible (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.

6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.

A. The logic of the argument:

This argument is analytical, it proceeds from the basis in logic to argue that the concept of God is such that if we understood the meaning of the terms we would have to conclude that God must exist. Naturally that is a very controversial position. Many Christians and other theists reject the ontological argument on the grounds knowledge must be somewhat empirical. Nevertheless the argument has been used for a long time, and despite its many apparent deaths, it keeps returning in one form or another. Perhaps the best book on the subject is The Many Faced Argument by John Hick. Somehow the ontological argument just wont die. I feel that this is not so much because the argument itself is true as a proof, but because it gets at something deeper than proof, something to do with the way to think about God, and it strikes a deep cord in our consciousness, even though as a proof it may fail. For this reason alone it is important to know, if only to know the concept itself.

1) God can be analytically conceived without contradiction.
2) Therefore God is not impossible.
3) By definition God cannot be contingent.
4) Therefore God is either necessary or impossible.
5) God is not impossible (from 2) therefore, God is necessary.
6) Whatever is necessary by the force of Becker's modal theorum must necessarily exist.

(This is actually my re-statement of what Hartshorne is saying).

Hartshorne's actual modal logic looks like this:

The OA: an assessment:

by Ed Stoebenau Hartshorne's ontological argument is based on Anselm's second argument and claims that God's existence is logically necessary. Hartshorne's argument is given here, where "N(A)" means "it is logically necessary that A," "~A" means "it is not the case that A," "-->" is strict implication, "v" means "or," and "g" means "God exists":

g --> N(g)
N(g) v ~N(g)
~N(g) --> N(~N(g))
N(g) v N(~N(g))
N(~N(g)) --> N(~g)
N(g) v N(~g)
N(g) --> g

This argument is valid. Furthermore, given an Anselmian conception of God, premises one and five are sound. Premise two is just the law of the excluded middle, and premise three is a law of the modal logic S5. Premise nine is obviously sound, so this leaves premise seven as the only premise to question. Premise seven says that it is logically possible that God exists.

Yes, those funny lines, "g-->N(g)" are the argument, those are the formal symbols used in modal logic.

B. God's Possibility vs. Impossibility.

The argument turns on the distinction between necessity and contingency, and upon the distinction between mere possibility and the nature of necessary being as not mere possible. In other words, God is either necessary or impossible. If God exists than he is ontologically necessary, because he is logically necessary by definition. But if he does not exist than it is ontologically impossible that he exists, or could come to exist. This is because God cannot be contingent, by definition. A contingency is just not God. So if God is possible, he can't be "merely possible" and thus is not impossible, which means he must be necessary.

God is conceivable in analytic terms without contradiction:
The universe without God is not concievable in analytical terms; it is dependent upon principles which are themselves contingent. Nothing can come from a possibility of total nothingness; the existenceo of singularities and density of matter depend upon empiracal observations and extrapolation form it. By definition these things are not analytical and do depend upon causes higher up the chain than their being (note that the skeptic at this point probably denies the validity of analytic proofs but to reverse the arguement must accept such proof).

Since the concept is coherent nad not contradictory and is derived from analytic terms, to reverse the argument the atheist must show that God is impossible since the burden of proof is now on the one arguing that a contingent state of affirs could produce a universe in which being has to be.

D. Answering Objections:

1) The argument can be reversed

Atheists have tried to reverse the argument merely by saying:

1) either God exists or he doesn't
2) God is either necessary or impossilbe. Necessary if he eixists, impossible if he does not
3) God is impossible
4) Therefore God does not exist.

But of course this is merely stipulation. They assume that what the argument is doing is just stipulating everything that has been said about God, but on the "Modes of Being" page I show that each of these modalities of existence are logical deductions.Either a thing exists or it does not. One can equivocate about the meaning the term "existence," but here I clearly mean concete actual existence in the "real" world. If a thing does not exist it is either that it could, but just doesn't happen to exist, or that it cannot exist because it is a conceptual contradiction, such as square circles, or round triangles and so on. Therefore, if it does exist, it is either that it exists contingently or that it is not contingent but exists necessaryily (that is it could not fail to exist without contradiction). These are the four most basic modes of being and cannot be denied. They could be subdivded, for example fictional contingency, such as Sueprman or Dick Tracy, that which would be contingent if it had real concete actuality, but is merely a fictional concept. But the four modes are the basic logical deductions about the nature of existence.

The idea that the argument can be reversed just by switching the lines and declairing God impossible merely begs the question. Is God really impossible just because we can utter those words? Is God logically necessary just because we can utter those words?. No, but that's not what is being said. God is logically necessary as a concept. That is the nature of the God-concept, that's the idea of God. To deny that would be like saying "how do you know that tables are things to put things on?" Or "how do you know that triagles have three sides?"The question is one of actuality, so if it is possible that God exists than God is ontologically necessary and thus has real concete existence because since God is not contingent it cannot be that God is "merely possible." If it is at all possible that God exists, than it's not impossible. To show that the argument can truely be reversed the atheist must show why God is impossible, and to do that he/she must show that God cannot be understood analytically without contradiction.

Another attempt at reversing the argument, which is always used on message boards when I make this argument: just to put not in front of each line. "It is possible that god does not exist." The premise is they don't have to prove God is ipossible, but just that the possiblity of God's not existing reverses the argment.

The problem is, the premise is false. If god is not analytically impossible (contradictory) then God must exist. Thus it is not ture that it is possible that God does not exist. The logic works like this:

(1) If God is indeep possible, the God cannot be impossible.

(2) to say God is not possible is the same as saying god is impossible.

(3) if something is possible, it can't be impossible.

(4) you must show why God is impossible.

(5) I have showen why God is possible, becasue God is concievable without contradiction.

(6) anticipating answer on eneity and consciousness, consciousness is not a primary quality of God. Other things are conscoiuss, that is not something quiquely estabishes God as God, logical necessity is such a thing.

(7) If God is possible, and can't be impossible, and can't be contingent, then to be possible for God is to be logically necessary. Thus it does not work to say God is not possible because it isn't true, thus it's a false premise.

To make good on any reversal they must show a contraidction in the concept of God. To this they always retort "well you can't prove that God is not contradictory." But I don't have to prove that. One can assume that if there is no contraiction it is not contradictory. They are the one's seeking to make the reversal, so it's their burden of proof. But to prove that God is possible all one need do is concive god analytically without contradiction. what else could one do to prove a possiblity?

2) The assumption that we are merely loading the concept with terms that make it necessary, or that the deftion of God as necessary is arbitrary.

This is really the same arguement one must make to reverse the argument of necessary being. This is what atheists always argue. The first thing they say bout it is that we are just arbitrarily sticking on the term "necessary" and playing word games. Some go so far as to try and demonstrate this by sticking the term necessary on other things, such as "purple cow" or anything they think of, and that's suppossed to show what we are doing. I regard this move as nothing more than a demonstration that they do not understand the concepts The necessity of necessity and why it must be applied to God is demonstrated on the "modes of being" page. Moreover, this move is nothing more than the perfect Island argument. It can't wrok becaus it merely enthrones contingencies. Our reason for saying that God is necessary is much more logical and organic and is much more than a mere word game.

While it is true that God as being itself is a pre-given postulate and is idependent of proof because it is part of the defintion of God, the realization that being has t be means that this must be the case.

3) The assumption that we are lending existence to a fictional being.

This is merely an assumption. The necessary existence of God is implied in the possibility of God's existence and the realization that the the only alternative is impossibility. God is possible and thus necessary. Some have tried to argue that they are breaking up the four categories with a 5th not seen, that of "fictional" but that applies to the category 4 that of non-existing contingency.

4) Equivocating between types of necessity.

The argument says that to say God is necessary as a postulate of defintion is speaking of ontological necessity, than to assert the actuality of it is moving from logical to ontolgocial necessiy.

To say that a thing is logically possible is to say that it might have existed in the past or may exist in the future. But for God to exist he must always have existed; in the past, in the future, or all time. Given logical necessity the logical possibility of God 's non existance is impossible. Therefore, ontoloigcal necessity implies logical necessity. One implies the other and it is a rational move from one to the other.

This argument may seem like merely a trick of words, and modal logic may be conroverial, but it turns on very basic logic, such as modus tolens or modus ponens which is accepted by all logicians. On Argument 1 I document Antony Flew saying that the logoical categories of "Necessary" and "contingent" truth are accepted by all logicians.

Concise intero to the Modal Ontological Arugument for The Existence of God.


‘Modal’ – Pertaining to the modes of existence (de re) or of propositions (de dicto) as necessary or possible. ‘Necessity’ is a mode of being for a thing or proposition as is ‘Possibility’.
‘Ontological’ – from Greek ontoV for being.
‘Argument’ – designed to logically support a proposition (not to be confused with persuasion which is a psycho-social phenomenon, not a philosophical one).
Throughout this description I shall use standard notation and notation used when the font is restricted to a single typeset as in a text only document for HTTP purposes on the Internet.

The modalities are symbolized as follows:
A square or in typeset [] preceding an expression means “It is necessary that…” or “It is necessarily the case that…” or simply “Necessarily…” e.g. as applied to a propositional function.

Ps/[]Ps – “It is necessarily the case that s is P” where s is a constant referring to some individual and P is a predicate.
A Diamond à or in typeset <> preceding an expression means “It is possibly the case that…” or “It is possible that…” or simply “Possibly…”


Possibility is defined as consistency. àPs/<>Ps reads as “Possibly, s is P” and means that there is no contradiction in attributing P to s. Necessity is defined as “not possibly not the case”. If something cannot not be, then it must be.

Psº~à~Ps or []Ps=~<>~Ps

There are many different ways to axiomatize a logic, just as there are different ways to axiomatize geometry. Axioms in some systems will be theorems in others, but since axioms and theorems have the same validity it is only a matter of formal difference. One of the most used systems of modal logic is called S5. There is an interesting theorem in S5 called Brouer’s Theorem.
(PàP)à(àPàP) or (P-->[]P)-->(<>P-->P)
This theorem is derivable in weaker systems as well.
The modal ontological argument for the existence of God is just a substitution instance for this theorem. There are only two propositions needed.

First comes the definition of God as a being who, IF he exists, does so necessarily, i.e. a Necessary Being. This is only the definition of what God would be like IF he existed. The proposition is formalized as
GàG or G-->[]G
“If God exists, then he necessarily exists.”
The other proposition is the assertion that it is possible that God exists.
àG or <>G
“Possibly, God exists.”

The only rule of inference needed is Modus Ponens.
PàQ “If P, then Q”
Therefore Q
Now we are ready to put the argument together.

1. (GàG)à(àGàG)
2. GàG
3. àG
4. àGàG
5. G
(Theorem, sub G for P)
(Def of God)
(1, 2 MP)
(4, 3 MP)

1. (G-->[]G)-->(<>G-->G) (Theorem, sub G for P)
2. G-->[]G (Def of God)
3. <>G (premise)
4. <>G-->G (1, 2 MP)
5. G (4, 3 MP)


It is quite a simple argument which makes it hard to understand its fullness. The simple is packed with meaning. As you can see, there is one and only one premise, that it is possible that God exists. If this be granted, then his necessary existence follows. Since all efforts to show that the concept of God is contradictory have failed heretofore I conclude, somewhat reluctantly, that God exists. Kai Neilson tried to argue this in his debate with J.P. Moreland, but didn’t make much progress.

Now I realize that to the average person, this seems like a trick, but the average person is not particularly accustomed to following logical arguments at all, much less highly specialized forms of logical calculi developed by professional philosophers. Most professors at the University level don’t even know modal logic and many have never studied it and some have never heard of it. What do those who know it, but don’t believe in God say? They say that the concept of God is incoherent. I have not yet seen an even slightly plausible argument to that effect. Until I do, the OA will be cogent to me. I might add that I am a convert on this argument. I argued for years that the ontological argument was flawed until someone showed me the modal version. I have always followed Reason wherever it lead and, as usual, it lead to God.


Adams, Robert M., _The Virtue of Faith_, esp. “The Logical Structure of Anselm’s Arguments,” Oxford University Press: 1987.
Moris, Thomas V, _Anselmian Explorations_, esp. “Necessary Beings,” University of Notre Dame Press: 1987.
Plantinga, Alvin, _The Nature of Necessity_, esp. “God and Necessity,” Oxford University Press: 1974, 1992.
Plantinga, Alvin, _The Ontological Argument_, Anchor Books, 1965.
Swinburne, Richard, _The Coherence of Theism_, Oxford University Press: 1977, 1993.

Oddly enough that quotation is linked to a site by an atheist named Adrian Barnett who is attacking my older version of this argument, but he was gracious enough to put this quotation, which I think works against his argument, by a philospher in the UK.

About Hartshorne

Hartshorne Lived to be 103, at the time of his death in the Fall of 2000, he was known as "the greatest living Metaphysician." Hartshorne was one of the major forces in the "back to God" movment in Philosophy (a term coined by Christianity Today in a 1979 article. His first and greatest calim to fame is as the second most influential voice in process philosophy, along with Alfred North Whtiehead, but he is also credited as the man who brought the Ontologcial argument back from ignorminious defeat by Kant almost two centuries earlier. Hartshorne was also a recognized authority on birdsong, and an authority on bycicles, having never driven a car a single time in his centogenerian lifespan. Hartshorne devoted the last years of life to waging a letter's to the editor campgaign to advocate social issues such as medical care.

losing comments

I don't know why or what to do about it, but I am losing comments. Twice now in just a few minutes apart I approved two comments, one by Mike, and they did not show. I don't know???

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Euthephro and Biological Ethics


I recently saw a lecture on SCTV (not the Canadian comedy show, but an academic chanel on cable) in which a professor proclaimed that "Socrates Kicked the ass of moral philosophy." Of course she was quoting her student, but she clearly agreed with him. Her solution was to replace "Moral philosophy" as religiously based, with biologically based social contract theory. Unfortunately I never did catch the woman's name or what the lecture series was. But please bear with me, as these are commonly held opinions anyway.

First let's consider the idea that "Socrates kicked ass on moral philosophy." How did he do this? He supposedly did it with an argument that atheists sometimes use on message boards called "The Euthephro Dilemma." It goes something like this:

Socrates asks Euthephro (who is of course, an idiot and a priest--thus giving Soc religious people to be his foils) "Is the good good, because the gods say it is? Or is the good good because there's some reason beyond the gods?" Euthephro knows he can't say the good is good just because the Gods say it is, that will never work, the gods might change their minds tomorrow. This would leave morality as totally arbitrary, it wouldn't be really good and it could change daily. Today it's wrong to torture babies for fun, tomorrow it might not be. So Euthephro says there is something that makes it good apart form just the gods word that it is good. Then Socrates says that something is higher than the gods. So this is supposedly the ass kicking for moral philosophy, morality can't be based upon the word of God, because it would either be arbitrary (God says so) or based upon something higher than God.

To answer this problem the professor on TV said that we should ground our understanding of ethics in our own biology. We are geared as biological organisms to help the group, to share the load and to be part of the team. So being part of the team becomes our highest value because we are geared biologically to be part of the team. We will consider this in a minute.

The problem with the Euthephro dilemma as it has been so defined above is twofold:

(1) It seeks to ground morality in contingent gods who are not the basis or ground of being and who could never ground moral axioms to begin with.

(2) In this pre Christian paganism the Greeks did not have love as the background of the moral universe, precisely because they didn't have a single all pervasive God who was the ground of being and whose character defined reality.

The Christian God not only creates all that is, but is also the fountainhead of all potential being as well. Not even the possibility of being can exist apart from the mind of God. That means that no standard could be higher than God. Thus if good is good because the Christian God says so it is, it is both grounded upon the word of God, and based upon a timeless principle that establishes the good; God's character. Augustness tells us that love is the background of the moral universe. Thus all moral axioms that are truly good are grounded in the notion of love, they all relate back to it and seek to fulfill it. That means God's character is the basis of moral axioms. Thus, the standard of the good is not independent of God, but based upon God's very character. The Greek gods were not capable of this, the Christian God can provide this basis in the ground of being.

In any case, what about the biological part? What this professor overlooks is that there is no moral axiom attached to genetics, nor can there be. As Hume said "you cannot derive an ought from an is." Just telling us the facts about our genetic structure can never tell us that we should, or should not accept any particular axiom, no matter how scientifically it may be grounded in our genetic heritage. She is also overlooking the fact that humans are bundles of competing drives and interests. We are genetically predisposed to pull with the group, but we are also genetically predisposed to betray the group and seek our own way when it serves our interest to do so. Who is to say that this is not the true moral stance, after all this is also biologically based. Thus a biological basis for ethics is a pipe dream.

This seems like a really overwhelming objection. The notion of "herd instinct" has been around as an explanation for morality for a long time. But, in the 1970s E.O.Wilson invented the theory of sociobiology, which basically said that our genes determine everything in an attempt to mate, and what seems like our own ideas and concerns are all really a ploy my our gene pool to further itself. Morality, in this context is just an attempt to aid the pack. Even self sacrifice is just an attempt to save some part of the gene pool. IN the 1980s sociobiology became known as "naturalistic psychology" and under the lead of Richard Dawkins became an overwhelming force; thousands of websites exist to support sociobiology, and there is no real adequate Christian response. This seems like such an overwhelming flood time of support that there doesn't seem much hope for the moral argument.

Answer: The genetic argument really doesn't defeat the notion of a universal moral law, but it is problematic. The moral law "written on the heart" (Romans 2:7) could well be genetic at its root. Those Christians who have no trouble understanding that God used evolution as a method of developing life can easily imagine that the moral law in encoded into the evolutionary process and is found from the ground up. The problematic part is that it blunts the thrust of the causality argument. Perhaps there is a basic humanity to humans which recognizes moral motions, but how to use that as a proof of God's creation when it could as easily be the product of evolution? More on this at the end of the argument.

a) sociobiology enshrining values of reductionism and consequentualist ethics.

First Things, May 98, 59

The Social Meaning of Modern Biology: From Social Darwinism to Sociobiology. By Howard L. Kaye. With a new epilogue by the author. Transaction. 208 pp. $19.95 paper.

"Sociobiology is a secularized form of natural theology, Kaye explains: an attempt to "translate[e] our lives and history back into the language of nature so that we might once again find a cosmic guide for the problems of living." But the attempt fails, he argues, because in order to derive moral guidance from things like genes, socio biologists first have to attribute to them various cognitive and moral attributes (e.g., "selfish genes"). In short, the socio biologist first reads his own moral program into nature and then, unsurprisingly, discovers it from nature.

b) Reductionism of Sociobiology negates ability to discuss ethics.

(from First Things )

"Moreover, Kaye argues, these attempts at moral guidance are logically incoherent, given sociobiology's reduction of human beings to "mechanisms," "programmed" by natural selection. What, then, can it mean to talk about choice and values? Evolutionary psychology avoids some of the cruder reductionism of the older sociobiology. But by attempting to unmask all thought and feelings as genetically programmed survival strategies, Kaye warns, it may still "have a corrosive effect on our moral principles, social order, and even our souls."

c) Sacrificial (moral) genes is confusion of members and sets.

Val Dusek, Science As Culture "Sociobiology Sanitized: the Evolutionary Psychology and Enic Selectionism Debates"

this Dusek article is no longer located where I linked to. I will try to find it, its' been years.

"Despite the new name, the general lessening of totally off-the-wall speculation, far-fetched animal analogies to very distantly related species, and the avoidance of grossly sexist remarks, evolutionary psychologists present the same theories as the sociobiologists. Central to the work of most of them is the genic selection theory, claims that genes, not organisms are selected. It is most well known as selfish gene theory in popularizations by Richard Dawkins. This doctrine, genic selectionism, has been criticized by biologists such as Gould and Lewontin, but many journeyman biologists accept the theory, even attributing the details of the theory to Dawkins himself, when he was only popularizing certain trends in genetics and theories of Hamilton and others. The debates concerning evolutionary psychology have revived the debate about genic selectionism. Part of the debate concerns whether genes alone are selected, as Dawkins claims, or whether individual organisms and species (and perhaps also groups) are selected as well...."

"This fits with the theory of kin selection, in which and individual can reproduce some of "its" genes by sacrificing itself for a relative which carries a proportion of the altruist's genes. Lewontin has criticized Dawkin's theory by claiming that it confuses classes with individuals. The genes which are reproduced by the relative are not physically identical with the sacrificed individual's genes, but are simply similar, the same kind of gene. Lewontin counters Dawkins claim that an extraterrestrial, to gauge earthly intelligence would ask "Do you understand the theory of natural selection?" with the Platonic question "Do you understand the difference between a class and its members?"--which, according to Lewontin, Dawkins, in his "caricature of Darwinism" flunks. Sober and Lewontin have put the distinction in more philosophical jargon, distinguishing genotokens from genotypes." (Sober and Lewontin, 1982, p. 171)

d) Other scientific objections and ethical problems.


"Lewontin, Gould, and some other writers have emphasized against selectionism a number of random and non-selective factors in evolution. These include 1) purely random recombination 2) genetic drift, in which random sampling errors in reproduction change the distribution of genes in a population 3) so-called non-Darwinian evolution, which involves the random mutation of the third letter in some DNA code words, in which two or more words are synonyms which code for the same amino acid, and hence the difference in the third letter makes no difference in the resultant organism, and is not selected for (a significant theory Dennett does not even mention) 4) structural constraints, such as basic body plans, which may become far from optimally adaptive, but which are too difficult to change by piecemeal natural selection without making many other features of the organism maladaptive. 5) geological or astronomical catastrophes such as the asteroid collision causing mass extinctions. 6) species selection, in which differing rates of extinction, and, more importantly, speciation (branching) produce more species in some lineages than in others....."

"There is [in Dennett] a discussion of the naturalistic fallacy in ethics, but no further discussion of scientific reduction. Apparently all that Dennett means by "draining the drama" from the problem is to deny that awful ethical consequences directly follow logically from selfish gene theory. But this ignores the more indirect ideological consequences in terms of cosmologies or models of nature that in turn can have ethical effects. An interesting sidelight of this is that Dennett, like Dawkins holds the Dawkinsian vision of all lower organisms. The are robots, but we, in Dawkins words can rebel against our genes. Surprisingly Dennett, the militant denier of dualism and of non-naturalistic mind, draws as strong a line between humans and other animals as does Descartes."

"What Dennett would have to counter is Lewontin and Sober's argument that when selection coefficients of genes are context-dependent and selection acts on gene complexes, the artificially constructed selection coefficients of genes do not play a causal role. (Sober and Lewontin, 1984). It is true that if one claims that what is selected are not genes but replicators as the later Dawkins does, then whole genomes, incorporating all the contextural effects of genes on each other, might be the object of selection. This would preserve the restriction of selection to the genic level, but it would give up the atomization of modular traits with which evolutionary psychologists work. On the other hand Dennett, surprisingly, does not dismiss the "selfish gene" image as a "mere metaphor" as do many scientists (somewhat in bad faith) but claims that if corporations can have interests, then so can genes (neglecting that corporations are made up of individuals who have interests but genes are not) (p. 328). Perhaps Dennett holds a view which "dissolves" the issues concerning reductionism in relation to levels of selection, but he nowhere argues for it of even states it clearly."

"Although Dennett chastises B. F. Skinner and E. O. Wilson for assuming that their opponents must be religious mysterians, Dennett himself accuses Steve Gould of all people of having secret religious motivations, based on the fact that Gould often quotes the Bible as literature the way he does Shakespeare. Ironically, the one "Biblical" passage in Gould that Dennett quotes is in fact not from the Bible but from a familiar African American song. Similarly Dennett grossly misrepresents the anthropologist Jonathan Marks, portraying him as a new Bishop Wilberforce, denying humans ape ancestry. In fact Marks pointed out the worse than shoddy treatment of data by C. G. Sibley and J. E. Ahlquist in their claims concerning hybridization of human and ape DNA. Dennett makes it sound as if Marks criticisms of Sibley and Ahlquists data was roundly condemned by the scientific community, as evidenced by an apology in the American Scientist. What Dennett neglects to note is that there was a lawsuit threatened against the magazine threatened by one of the criticized authors because Marks review suggested excessive massaging of the data. Despite the quality of Sibley and Ahlquists earlier raw data on bird classification based DNA, it is generally agreed that their work on human-ape relationships was worthless, and molecular evolution anthropologist Vincent Sarich has suggested that even the published versions of their bird conclusions is valueless, despite the value of the voluminous but unavailable raw data. Because of Sibley's eminence the human molecular evolution community has been unwilling to criticize the work, for fear of harm to the reputation of the field. This is far from the sort of replay of the Huxley-Wilberforce debate in which Dennett and other evolutionary psychologists wish to portray themselves as involved."

"Interestingly several of the leading sociobiologists and popularizers of evolutionary psychology, such as E. O. Wilson, Randy Thornhill, and Robert Wright hale from Alabama. One can speculate that the religious fundamentalist atmosphere of the American Deep South may have led those who defected to Darwin to find in Darwinism a cosmic world-view answering the same questions that the dominant religious view claimed to answer. Robert Wright (1988) is quite explicit about this."


"The notion that human beings have evolved from other animals and are a part of biological nature is tremendously important. It is unfortunate and misleading that the evolutionary psychologists make it appear that a commitment to evolution and to the importance of natural selection necessitates a commitment to pan-selectionism, genetic selection and the "selfish gene." We have seen how Wilson and now Dennett attempt to identify their opponents with anti-evolutionist. Even Barbara Ehrenreich dubs her opponents the "New Creationists." The split between selfish gene evolutionary psychology and cultural constructionism in anthropology can only prolong the delay in the development of a genuinely evolutionary view of humanity. "Evolutionary psychology" by preempting the field of evolutionary accounts of human nature and potential helps to prevent a non-reductionist biosocial account of humans.

3) The Inhumanity of humanity.

Many skeptics point out the extreme cases of the holucost in which normal law abiding citizens, chruch goers and Christians, did the most horrid things to babbies and old people and suffered no pangs of guilt over it. Moreover, we have seen on the evening news in Bosnia, in Ruwanda, and other places the most inhumane treatment of helpess victims which surely demonstrates that there is no moral law.

Answer: The explanitory power of the moral argument is demonstrated in this argument. The other side of the moral argument equation is that we are not able to live up to the moral law. There are times when we turn it off, when it can be circumvented. Urges and temptations, ideology, socialization, many things can divert the basic motivations of compassion. If it was simply genetic and the instinctive urge to save the gene pool than why are we so bad at keeping it? While certain extreme examples where the moral law is circumvented do not disprove that there is no moral law (because special circumstances intervened) our anguish (ours not that of those whose consciences were cleared but that of those who look in horror at their deeds) demonstrates, along with our feelings of failure at living up to the mark, that there is a moral law. But it if is genetic why are we unable to live up to the standard that we feel passionately should be met?

C. Explanatory Power argues for God.

How can these moral motions demonstrate that God is the origin of such motions when there are also such strong indications that is genetic? Isn't this merely assuming God as an explaination when none is required?

That we feel such moral motions, both for compassion, and outrage over injustice, is better explained by an appeal to the God hypothesis since it demonstrates the depths of human depravity in man's fallen nature.So much of what we term "evil" is "over the top" and pointless, while the noble aspects of humanity cannot be reduced to mere behaviors. Morality is more than mere behavior, it is also deliberation, moral agency,and the ability to understand constitutive frameworks which embody self and our deepest values. This is so much more than just behavior, an attempt to save the gene pool. That is take is merely enshrining the ideology of consequentialist ethics. See also my take on the Fall of Humanity and what this means on the Gospel page. Without the notion of God a merely genetic morality reduces to behavioral urges and becomes relative and discard able. Yet the outrage and feelings of compassion remain. These are reduced to unimportant epiphenomena without God. This means that we are actually explaining away the phenomena. God is crucial as an postulate of practical reason; without metaphysical assumptions we cannot derive an ought from an is (Hume). But if we think of this observation in terms of the explainitory power of the God hypothesis that hypothesis becomes more than just a useful fiction. Since God explains morality and human nature better than any other view, in so far as it is honest about human depravity and nobility, we have a strong indication of the validity of the God hypothesis.

1) Regulative principle of practical reason (Kant)

We have this urge to condemn with outrage human attrocities and to extend compassion and justice. As with the Holocaust, we know it is evil; merely saying that it violates our genetic code isn't enough! But without assuming God as a regulative principle the alternative is that it does reduce to mere behavior and the moral outrage is groundless; yet we never lose it. That does't prove there is a God, but it at least justifies the notion as a regulative principle.

2) Regulative principle has explanatory power.

Both in explaining why we have these moral urges and yet can't live up to them, and in explaining why we need a regulative principle, why we can't just say it's not right or let it go.