Sunday, November 30, 2008

On my Realizing God Appraoch

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And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not.

Soren Kierkegaard, “The Sickness Unto Death”

The atheists have been totally incensed on this. Christians have expressed that it is a very good post that really says a lot of things they have felt they wanted to say but could not put it into words, atheist have gone ape shit over it. It's made them seethingly angry. Now in the hell can anyone be angry and misunderstand the simple idea that "I find something about the nature of existence that makes it more than just mundane, but meaningful and special." Why is that such a threat? They also have formulated many misconceptions about what I was saying:


(1) That belief makes you feel good so it's justified in and of itself.

(2) God is proven becasue I believe in him

(3) That I'm saying that we can believe things for no reason.

There are many more but this is all the gist of it, its quite stupid. I wanted a way to shut them up form their little juvenile game of saying "there's no proof for your God" so they can goad Christians into making God arguments. Then of course they will laugh and deride all those arguments. They wont listen to the evidence, they wont understand what's being said.

Mostly I was just attacked by illiterate vermin who can't think and whose only response to thought is lynch mob mentality.

Even though some Christians seem to think this post said something, I have expressed similar things before, maybe this was one of them:

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.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Problem with Atheists Demanding Proof of God

The problem with atheists demanding "evidence" for God is that in assuming that evidence could prove something about God one is making the wrong assumption. That is one assumes that God is an empirical fact (if God exists God exits in the sense that objects in creation exists). So one is assuming we can just add a fact to the universe if God exist. The fact being being added is that in addition to all other existants there is also a thing called "God" which also exists.

This is a problem because God is not given in sense Data. God is the foundation of reality not just another thing in reality. God is not an object in creation along side mustard Jars and swizzel sticks, but is the basis upon which all things exist and cohere and can be known at all. God s not an empirical fact (since the divine is not an object of sense data). thus god si also beyond our understanding. This renders the chances of being ablet o muster evidence of God's existence pretty slim.

When we believe in God, when we come to believe, we are not merely adding a fact to the universe. we are actually discovering something new about our own being. So God is not just anther thing in the world but is actually the discovery of the truth about nautre our own being, and of all being.

God is being itself. This is meant in three different ways:

(1) The nature of being in its most abstract since apart from anything else in particular

(2) the foundation of all that is.

(3) not an individual thing or a being but a class of existence by itself that cannot be compared to anything and has no actual "thinghood."

What this means is that coming to believe in God is not merely adding a fact to the universe, it is a paradigm shift. It's a whole sea change, the ground upon which we understand reality shifts and we are in a whole uiverse. The theist an th atheist occupy totally differnt worlds.

coming to belief in God is coming to a realization about the nature of being; that there is a holy and eternal aspect of being that is worthy of our most serious devotion. More akin to eastern enlightenment than to just coming to hold a philosophical position.

All of this renders mere evidence pretty irrelevant. The idea that there is no evidence for God becomes very unimportant and is really what we should expect given the qualitatively different orientation of belief.

Belief in God is an existential and ontological paradigm shift that requires a phenomenological apprehension, not merely the accumulation of empirical facts and data.

what does this mean for rationality?

The atheist claims about the rationality of belief are irrelevant because that is based upon the assumption that there is only one kind of knowledge and that is empirical knowledge. believing a proposition with no empirical knowledge may or may not be irrational, but when the "proposition" is actually a phenomenological apprehension that is connected with a shifting of the ground upon which one understands the nature of being, it can hardly be held to the same evidential standards as empirical data.

There are different forms of knowledge. Not all knowledge is emprical and there are valid aspects of knowledge which are not empirical.

We don't have to comb the universe looking for squre circle before we decide there aren't any. We can know a priori that there are no squire circles. Thus deductive knowledge is knowledge and it can tell us something.

What can one do about this?

That leads to the problem what can tell atheists if one can't just show the data?

(1) Tell them why we can't show data and why it's irrelevant

(2) focal points

There are aspects of phenomenological apprehension that can be discussed and listed. We can apply the prima facie standards to a case for a rationally warranted belief. We cant' prove the existence of God but we can point to ways that one migh come to realize the reality of God.

Belief is an existential phenomenological matter. It's not something to be proven objectively in the firsrt place.

We can discuss these standards and forms of knowledge. Then I will talk about ways of realizing and the nature of paradigm shifts. that will be in other threads.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paul was not a Gnostic Part 2

Part 2
(from Wikipedia for ease since I am running out of time):

Alexandrian followers said that Valentinus was a follower of Theudas and that Theudas in turn was a follower of St. Paul of Tarsus. Valentinus said that Theudas imparted to him the secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to his inner circle, which Paul publicly referred to in connection with his visionary encounter with the risen Christ (Romans 16:251 Corinthians 2:7 2 Corinthians 12:2-4[[/SIZE]Acts 9:9-10)when he received the secret teaching from him. Such esoteric teachings were becoming downplayed in Rome after the mid-2nd century.

they imitated apostolic ascendancy by making their own bogus truth tree. prove they really did pass along a chain of testimony like this?

where's your documentation? you never document your assertions.

So it is ironic that now orthodox Christians like Metacrock (and he is orthodox!) want to make you believe that there is no connection between Paul and gnosticism.

that's some kind of dirty word for you isn't it? that's just a synamym for "fundie" right? shows you know very little about any of this.

what's wrong "Orthodox?" what does it mean anyway?

But it isn’t out of character for the orthodox to do so: In fact, the challenge of Marcion is what propelled the Church to create Luke/Acts in which the apostleship of Paul is downplayed (in Acts, Paul cannot be called an apostle due to the definition of an apostle:

that is absolutely ludicrous. totally without grounds, and way too late. It's well established that Luke is authored both Luke and Acts. that's just more faldirol of the new ageie thinking.

you haven not basis in fact of any kind, it's based entirely upon your need to service the ideology!

one had to witness the resurrection). Our Gospel of Luke is a rewrite of Marcion’s Gospel of the Lord (Marcion has priority here, but for space and time I won’t go into the arguments).

that is totally ridiculous. No schoalrs believe that its' empricially not true. It's cleary based upno Matth. You can't look at a Gospel paraell and say this. It's nuts!

moreover, where do you have a copy of Marcion's gospel? Marcion is not known to have written a gospel, he compiled a list of books, a canon. He did not write a gospel and if he did we don't have it. I think you are confusing the calling of his canon as "the gosel" which means the four fold gospel because it was the combined four canonical.

Also, it is from this time period that the Pastorals which explicitly depict Paul as anti-gnostic first appear (first reference Irenaeus around 190). The anti-gnostic Paul tracts are all a response to the gnosticism of Paul in his authentic letters.

you have no evidence that is. I doubt that you have any idea when the timothy books would have been written. But you made this up because there is' no evidence at all except that you don't like what it says.

Originally Posted by grog225 View Post
In case there is anybody who might be fooled by you, I will provide a single clear demonstration of how your arguments are really dishonest. Here you quote Ephesians, but when we look at Ephesians, we find it says this:

Eph 6:12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

"the powers of this dark world" are the evil elemental spirits, as I've already documented:

it doesn't' make a hill of beans worth of difference. what could possess you to think that if he means demons he's a gnostic? If he means demons in roman soldiers he not a gostic? that's a crazy dichotomy.

I don't care if he does mean demons in and of themselves that doesn't make him a gnostic.

why do you think Jesus casts out demons int he Gosepls? does that make him a gnostic? Jews believed in demons. that does not make them gnostics. do you get that? You are so incredibly dishonest.


that is nothing short of crazy. there's about that that makes it gnostic any moer tahn it would be anything else. What you miss and you pretend wasn't said is that the kind of gnosticism that existed at Nag Hammadi where they named powers to get by them in death, was not in the first century. ge it?

that comes from the introduction to the NH liberary prublished by the uN. understand that now?

Also, Metacrock wants to think that Paul is referring to the Romans as "the powers of this dark world" but, as I've pointed out, that view is irreconciliable with his view in Romans 13:

why is it so hard for you to understand thing? I said it is a reference to demns possessing the Romans. do you understand now? It's spiritual forces but as they pertain to the earthly forces to. see now?

I got that by reading Whiteley you got the Whitely book and you take it up with him. he was the top Pauline schoalr so you go argue with him ok? you think know moer than the top scholars so you go argue with them.

Romans 13:1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.

Now, in my reading of Paul, I could easily consider Romans 13 a later interpolation. But that's neither here nor there. For metacrock to consider this as anything other than Paul's view on the 'governing authorities', clearly the Romans would be special pleading. He's stuck with it and an irrconciliable position: that Paul, on the one hand considers the Romans to be the "dark world powers" and on the other hand "established by God."

You don't have the slightest idea what you are talking about. I really didn't reailze how hard it is for you to understand things. Obviusly Paul did consider the Romans that way becaue he was a Jew. But he also was a Roamn. so he has conplex view. sure they took over the homeland of his people, but thsoe who know what they are doing can become citizens the laws can work for them. But the ultiamte point he makes is that the Chrsitains need to obey the law so they will be left alone. That's a good indication that it's before Nero that this is written.It would nto possible to say this after Nero or after the fall of temple.

Paul understands that the whole world is in the power of God, but there are rebel forces that set themselves up against God. man rebels against god and sides with the rebel angels and worships creation rather than the creator.

When he talks about the principalities and powers he's not just talking Romans by themselves, he's not just talking about demons by themselves he's talking a whole rebel hierarchy that extends to all aspects of earthy government but at the top (or the bottom) is spiritual forces that move beyond their own understanding..

Now go read Whitely so you can see how real scholars do it.

Now on Sophia: Metacrock is wrong that Sophia was unambiguously the good guy. I documented that, as well. He just makes a bald assertion that I am wrong. Here, read this and decide for yourself:

Sophia communicates wisdom and revelation to men (Wis. passim). The parallel in the Gnostic sources is obvious in the fact that it is Sophia who is responsible for the element of light that is in man 6). One might further compare Sophia's bringing light into creation to the statement of Wis. vii 26-27 about Wisdom as the ToCXlayocapi p9cTroo .a.ou ... x oaC aroa y oVa 4ts X a L66C ptaaocPavoucra. One must bear in mind that Sophia is an ambivalent figure in Gnosticism: through her fall she is blamed for the existence of evil matter, but because she belongs to the world of light as an Aeon of the Father and is sometimes in the myth reinstated to it, she is credited with the presence of the divine or of revelation in man.

I document from Koester who says John's prologue is an anti-Sophia biography of the logos. It is saying Sophia can't have a biography because she is just an abstraction, but the logos can have a biograhy because it became felsh and blood. In setting that up he saying that the sophia was the Gnostic version of the logos, the goddess.

go read Ancient Christian Gospels.

Quote:Me quoting Koester
Creation and revelation are moral opposites for the Gnostic, the one a tragedy, the other the saving gesture. Only in an ambiva- lent or split personality can they be regarded as the work of a single agent 1). The ambivalence of Sophia-and consequently the ambi- valent attitude of Gnostics toward Judaism-may be seen clearly in her role as revealer in the system described by Irenaeus, Adv. haer. I. 30. Here Sophia acts in opposition to Ialdabaoth and his powers by speaking through the prophets about the world above. One should compare the very common motif in which it is the voice of Sophia or Zoe which rebukes the arrogant Demiurge for his boast "I am God and there is no other."

I'll show you anther one beside Koester.

The Genesis Factor by Stephan A. Hoeller

The following article was published in Quest, September 1997. It is presented here with permission of the author.

Nowhere is Eve's superiority and numinous power more evident than in her role as Adam's awakener. Adam is in a deep sleep, from which Eve's liberating call arouses him. While the orthodox version has Eve physically emerge from Adam's body, the Gnostic rendering has the spiritual principle known as Eve emerging from the unconscious depths of the somnolent Adam. Before she thus emerges into liberating consciousness, Eve calls forth to the sleeping Adam in the following manner, as stated by the Gnostic Apocryphon of John:

I entered into the midst of the dungeon which is the prison of the body. And I spoke thus: "He who hears, let him arise from the deep sleep." And then he (Adam) wept and shed tears. After he wiped away his bitter tears he spoke, asking: "Who is it that calls my name, and whence has this hope come unto me, while I am in the chains of this prison?" And I spoke thus: "I am the Pronoia of the pure light; I am the thought of the undefiled spirit. . . . Arise and remember . . . and follow your root, which is I . . . and beware of the deep sleep."


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Paul was not a gnostic part 1


Here I have another fun exchange with my Jesus myther friend "Grog" who remains one of the best dialogue partners on carm. .

Originally Posted by grog225 View Post
Paul the Gnostic

So now we are ready to consider Paul’s thoughts. First, let’s consider the main elements of Jewish Gnosticism and how it relates to wisdom or “Sophia.” Gnosticism held that the world was created by a demiurge, the malformed offspring of Sophia (wisdom). The Demiurge is the ruler of this material world often with Sophia enthroned alongside him. Depending on the version, Sophia created the demiurge in an attempt to be as the Supreme Aeon. So we have this dualistic world: the demiurge and the Supreme Aeon. Within this world, Sophia plays a dual, ambivalent role: she is on the one hand responsible for the evil material world and on the other hand the source of wisdom from the Supreme Aeon (see McRae, Novum Testamentum, 1971).

Earlier, I posted 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 and proclaimed it to be the bedrock of Paul’s thinking. Metacrock countered saying that Paul specifically rejected wisdom in 1 Cor 2:6:

1 Cor 2:6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

Metacrock’s error here was failing to recognize the ambivalent nature of Sophia, both as agent of the material world and as agent of the Supreme God. In 1 Cor 2:6, Paul explicitly references that:”We do, however, speak of Sophia among the mature” (or in some translations, ‘perfected’). Then “Not of Sophia of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” This exactly and precisely reflects Jewish Gnostic thought of the times. Note that the ‘rulers of this age’ are the evil elemental spirits, agents of the Demiurge:

No Sophia was the good guy among the gnostic, she was their goddess.

Actually I have no idea where you get the idea that this statement is the bedrock of Paul's thought? It's only the time ever talked this way.Most scholars are convinced that he adopts this kind of language for no other reason than to humor the Corinthian proto gnostic so he can lead them down the garden path to his own view. You are merely willing to read into it at ever opportunity the slightest nuance that puts a myther spin on it. Of course your motive for doing that its merely to fit the Doherty time table on grounding Jesus in history by the next century, and then making it appear that Paul supported some sort of gnostic or mystery cult myth making in the first century, so that you can subvert the history of Christianity and make it appear that it came out of mystery cult sources.

see Koester, in his chapter on John, he takes the prologue to be an anti-gnostic counter to the Sophia cult. Ancient Christian Gospels.

Koester tells us "Paul not only alludes to the sayings where were evidently of crucial importance to his opponents, he also adopts their schema of revelation which speaks of the things that were formerly hidden, but have now been revealed. This scheme is characteristic of the Q sayings...though it is not really typical of the Synoptic Saying Source as a whole. IN the genuine Pauline letters, it is used only in 1 Cor 2:6-16, while it occurs frequently in the deutero-Pauline letters and also appears in the secondary ending of Romans" (16:25-26).(Koster p.59)

"For the Corinthian wisdom theology this revelation schema, of central importance for their understanding of salvation, it related to the sayings tradition by another element, namely, the recourse to the authority of certain persons: Paul, Appeals, Cephas, possibly Christ "(1 Cor 1:12, 3:4-5, 22).(Koester p 62)

“However, it appears to us that these names have been indiscriminately used by Paul to designate the cosmic powers. Besides them there are also "OS0L 7oXXoi" and "xupmo ToXXoA" (I Cor. viii 5), "aocv 6votoca votaocC6irvoq" (Eph. i 21), and "erzoupavoc" and "MysWoc" and "xoraXocovLc" (Phil. ii Io). Finally, some of their names with cosmic bearings are "xootpoxp'Tops; TOU C7XOTOU TOToou" (Eph. vi 12), "a'roloa" (Gal. iv 3, 9; Col. ii 8, 20), and "'dpXovTzo zo ax6O0ou TOUTou" (I Cor. ii 6-8). These designations seemingly correspond to the Johannine title for the supreme demonic being…”(Lee, Novum Testamentum, 1971)[emphasis added]

That is all third century. We have no writing's from the gnostics from the first century, except those mentioned nit he NEw testament, and couple of lost gospels such as Egerton 2 or the Gospel of the Savior, but they do not include these kinds of characters found at Nag Hammadi. Everything from Nag Hammodi is third century.

When Paul says "we struggle not against flesh and blood" (totally anti-gnostic statement because they did struggle against flesh) "but against principalities and powers" he's talking about the demonic force in the Roman empire not just the powers that the gnostic dreaded running into after death. That whole business about the powers keeping the spirit from the plaroma is latter. We don't have an example of it ni the first century. It looks like it evolved.

so you are trying to impose the third century style of gnosis upon the first century before it even existed. And there's no evdience for the type of gnostic Doherty reads back into the era before Chrsit. either.

“All this suggests that St. Paul did not think about earthly kings and authorities, but rather about spiritual entities located somewhere in space, the ambivalent spiritual powers behind the earthly authorities.” (Quispel, Vigiliae Christianae, 1965)

So what if he did? Jews believed in demonic powers. But he's probably talking about demonic powers as they pertained to the Roman administration. There is nothing uniquely gnostic about that.

Now it is probable that Paul did use this phrase of demonic powers. But he believed that demonic powers played a hand in the running of the world, the affairs of state, that they controlled governments. They were able to motivate the crucifixion for this very reason. That still means however that the crucifixion was in history. It is the demonic powers influence over human affairs of which he speaks, not some ethereal events in some realm removed form history (Whiteley, Theology of St.Paul Fortress:1965, 229).

2:7 "No we speak of God's secret Wisdom. A wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rules of this age understood it for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. "(8)

Quispel adds “behind the earthly authorities” but I think that presumes too much that the crucifixion is an actual event


you are begging the question. there is no reason to assume otherwise, you are treating the gap in knowledge a proven fact.

In fact, in Romans 13 Paul refers to the governing authorities as agents of the Supreme God, not the Demiurge (I have argued this elsewhere and for the sake of space, I won’t do so here). So I agree with Quispel up to “spiritual powers” period.
supreme God in comparison with pagan gods. The God who really exists vs teh "gods" who are really the demons. given what he says in Rom 1 that makes such perfect sense and is clearly what he means!

That's imposing the reading upon the text. There's no connection between the idea that civil authoities are agents of God so therefore that must be a reference to the "true God" above the dimurge. That's certainly a warpped way to look at it.

(1) Clearly he's talking about human governments, for he would hardly advize us to pray that God would bless the authorities and keep them peaceful so we wont be persecuted and the talking about demonic powers.

(2) The phrase "principalities and powers" probably does refer to demons but as they work their evil through human governments. You are using that to connected to what you take to be a gnostic dichotomy but there no reason at all to connect it in that way. It makes just as much sense with Christian, who would also be talking bout demonic powers.

So having set aside Metacrock’s objection, let’s look at the rest of 1 Cor 2:6-10:
1 Cor 2:6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9However, as it is written:
I sense a twister coming on. He uses the same pharse who ti must be same idea for the same group.

this is still just more of your refusal to understand the uniqueness of this kind of talk in Pauline usage means he had a special reason for speaking to these guys this way. This was not Paul's usual way of speaking, which indicates something different is going on and we can't take it to be indicative of his real beliefs. In other words he's trying to reason with them no their own terms!

here's the sort of ink blot job you are doing on the language:

Barit means covenant in Hebrew

ish means man in Hebrew

therefore barit-ish means "man of the covenant"

therefore the British are the 10 lost tribes!

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.

Again in 2:8, ‘none of the rulers of this age’ refers to the evil elemental spirits as I documented above with the Quispel and Lee quotes. (A sidenote on Quispel: he believes Gnosticism is a late development and a Christian heresy. If this analysis of Paul is correct, that would be decisive against Quispel.)

again you continue along the same lines of errors. Still using Corinthians which is not normal language for Paul. You also seem to assume that Orthodox Christians didn't have the idea of revelation by the spirit, which is just foolish as hell.

Note that in 1 Cor 2:10 the source of the revelation is the Spirit, not an earthly ministry of Jesus. Who is this Spirit? The Spirit is most often in Gnosticism associated with Sophia. So it is Sophia who has revealed the gospel to Paul, the “secret wisdom” of the Supreme God, hidden through the ages, and now revealed through Sophia.

It's totally ridiculous to try and kidnap the Holy Spirit and term him into a side kick of Sophia. There's absolutely no reason to think the Orthodox could not have the Holyk Spirit as a miracle working aspect of God's power. Clearly they did. It's all over Acts, the Jews had it to. Its' in the OT: Joel 2 "in the last days I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams."

(1) you assume fallaciously that he would have to chalk the source up to Jesus ministry

(2) you are apparently ignorant of the role of the spirit of God in Jewish beilef--it had one

(3) in several places Paul refers to "the spirit of Christ."

this is all the very very Jewish concept of Memra. The presence of God revealed on earth--which is equivalent to the logos. When John said "logos" in John 1:1 he was saying "memra" the phrase used in the targemum to say "the presence of God revealed downward from heaven to earth."

very very Jewish has nothing at all to do with Gnosticism and that's the link he's making to Sprit.

Note also the similar passage in the Gospel of Thomas:

“I will give you what eye has not seen, and what ear has not heard, what has not been touched, and what has not arisen in the heart of man.”

Thomas is not gnostic. the core first century sayings of Thomas are not gnostic, they are q source and related to Q source. The gnostic bits are just a framework in which the core was placed in the second or third century.

(Albeit the source of this saying is Isaiah 64:4, however, it clearly resonated with Christian Gnostics.)

why is that clear? prove that it resonated anymore with them than with any other Jews or Jewish Christians? There are no writings of Christian gnostic in this period. They don't show up until the middle of the second century. We don't kow exactly who he was dealing with in Corinth or exactly what they were thinking; but there were ony "proto gnostics" among the Christians at this time.

It is hard to imagine a more thoroughly Gnostic passage than 1 Cor 2:6-10.

there's basically noting Gnostic about it. The kind of gnosticism you try to read into it you can't prove existed at that time.

If you read Paul from this perspective, you find that his thinking is grounded in Gnosticism. Another parallel to Gnosticism (parallel? it is Gnosticism!) is Paul’s reference to different levels of understanding his Gospel (don’t confuse Paul’s gospel with THE Gospels, they are separate things!). Paul, like the Gnostics, referred to different levels of understanding God’s revealed secret mystery:
if you stare at my shrink's ink blots long enough you get the same effect

again, he never spoke this way again. It's totally unique for Paul and that implies that he was trying to reason with a proto gnsotic faction on their terms. OF course one can read in all sorts of things when dealing with what we take to be someone's understanding. So the ideas of "levels" is all the fruitful imagination of the mythers require to go off to the races.

1 Cor 2:14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:

Jews believed in the Holy Spirit. it was the Sprint of God. they talked about they believed in it. that's clearly and obviously what he 's talking about.

the Gnostic did not talk about "the spirit." you are trying to equate that with Sophia but Paul never links the spirit to wisdom except in an ordinary way and never attaches female sense to it. I've never seen any references by the gnostics to "the spirit" in this way, or any charismatic seeming passages about the giftrs either. I don't call any such thing in Nag Hammadi or in the Gnsotic elements in Thomas.

Obvious you are just reading in what you want to be there.

16"For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?"But we have the mind of Christ.

show me what ordinary Jew could not say that?

Koester and Fred Layman based research (my words largely but from Koester)

Paul Does seem to know a wisdom saying source for Jesus' sayings but it is one that is also reflected in the canonical Mark. The believers in Corinth seem to have a different take on the Gospel than many others. In the first couple of chapters of 1 Cor. Paul uses a different terminology than he uses anywhere else. Mainly this consists of words like "wise" and "wisdom." He uses these 10 times in the first chapter, but only four times in all the rest of his corpus. Therse terms bring up a set of sayings from Mark that are noted as distinctly different from Jesus' other other sayings. Mark: 11:25,27, 13:16-17--Luke 10:21-24. The contrast between terms "wise" and "clever" found there are used nowhere else in Jesus' sayings. These refer to Isaiah 29:14:"I will destroy the wisdom f the wise and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart." Paul refers to this saying. Other contrasts include hidden and revealed. All of these concepts pertain to Gnostic ideas of the secret knowledge and those who possess it vs. those who possess it not. In 1 Cor. 4:5 "the Lord who will illumine the hidden things of darkness and reveal the councils of the heart." This is parallel by Mark 4:22 and also has a parallel in the Gospel of Thomas.

“Man without the spirit” is reference to the lowest level of understanding the hylic or Psychic. Those with the Spirit are the Pnuematic they are the “spiritual man”, The Spirit has blown the pneuma (revelation) into them.

not talking about people who don't have spirits he's talking about people who don't use the Holy Spirit. To the myther this is so inviting to see it as the secret Gnostic the man without the spirit would be the ordinary fleshly man who si not gnostic. But that's just the spin that gnostic put on it a century latter. That's not the implication that need be attached to the actually thinking of Paul which is charismatic in nature. He's saying those who don't live by the spirit. It's the myther's misfortune not to know about that.

Paul’s Followers

It is interesting to note that early Christian Gnostics cited Paul as the founder and sage of their movement.

that's hardly surprising. They could hardly claim a James church origin since Paul was the one with the mission to the Gentiles. Paul was not the only origin they claimed either.

Today’s orthodoxy maintains that Paul was not a Gnostic, Metacrock scoffs at the idea, but to the gnostic Marcion, Paul was the one true apostle.

because he took the missions to the gentiles. Marcion was not a Gnostic.

In fact, Paul’s letters probably survive today because of Marcion.

foolish. he's clearly a badge of honor for both Clement and Igantias. and Ploycarp. That's why!

Marcion was the first to collect together writings and call them a Gospel, the Gospel of the Lord or the Evangelicon. This was in the early second century and it is the first attempt to create a cannon. Marcion’s cannon included a version of the Gospel of Luke and the letters of Paul. Valentinius, the great gnostic sage of the mid-second century also traced his philosophy to Paul:

you are confusing uses of the term "gospel." Just because the term came into coinage then, and originally it mean the four fold gospel because the four canonical were accepted everywhere, that does not mean Marcion's was the original source. he truncated the previous Gospel he didn't make them.

Marcion had the demiurge, but that doesn't mean you can lump him in with the Nag Hammadi Sophia types. See you are just melding the "Gnosticism" into a single monolithic body. But the term is one coined by the Orthdox to brand who are not Orthodox. It's really a collection of a whole bunch of different groups that are not related.

you also need to ask yourself why Paul became the centerpiece of the Orthodox? If he was a Gnostic and if the Orthodox were those who took the church away form the original gnostic state why did they take Paul for the major NT writer?

Paul adopts "wisdom" Schema to deal with faction

Koester tells us "Paul not only alludes to the sayings where were evidently of crucial importance to his opponents, he also adopts their schema of revelation which speaks of the things that were formerly hidden, but have now been revealed. This scheme is characteristic of the Q sayings...though it is not really typical of the Synoptic Saying Source as a whole. IN the genuine Pauline letters, it is used only in 1 Cor 2:6-16, while it occurs frequently in the deutero-Pauline letters and also appears in the secondary ending of Romans" (16:25-26).(Koster p.59)

"For the Corinthian wisdom theology this revelation schema, of central importance for their understanding of salvation, it related to the sayings tradition by another element, namely, the recourse to the authority of certain persons: Paul, Appeals, Cephas, possibly Christ "(1 Cor 1:12, 3:4-5, 22).(Koester p 62)

There are three elements which together call for an answer: (1) the Corinthians knew saying which they took to be a hidden wisdom saying source. (2) Paul rejects that his calling had anything to do with Baptism (1 Cor. 1:15-17) the claim of belonging to a specific person may have entered into this. (3) Several other sources indicate that Apostolic Authority and the name of a specific Apostle played a role in transmission of sayings for both Orthodox and Gnostic. These sources include: Gospel of Thomas, The Apocrypha of James and Ptolemy's Letter of Flora.

Koester concludes form all of this that at Corinth Paul faced a Gnosticizing faction which believed that they had been initiated into secret knowledge through baptism. "They understood particular Apostles as their Mystagogues from whom they received sayings from which they received life giving wisdom...Paul's arguments against this understanding of Salvation become quite clearer if they are understood against this background." (Koster, p.62).

2) Paul never adopts this vocabulary again

As pointed out already, he only uses these terms of Wisdom and wise four other times in his whole corpus. Koester says that with this background in mind the way he speaks of the cross as hidden wisdom before the ages becomes understandable, because he is dealing with this Gnosticizing faction in their own terms. It is also important to note that the Cross was "hidden" to human understanding. The only verses about it in the OT are "hidden" and require interpretation, which even the Jewish people don't' accept today (Is 53, Ps 22, Zach.10:11).

3) never speaks of the Cross this way again.

Moreover, as Koster states: "Nowhere else does Paul speak about the Cross of Christ in such terms." (p.62). Doherty is merely confused and reversing Paul's meaning to place him in a position the opposite of which he was taking.

4) Paul is arguing against the Corinthian position!

It does not require much persuading to get most knowledgeable Bible readers to agree that Paul was not pleased with the Corinthians, that only when he was flattering them to coax them into submission was he saying positive things about their behavior. In the opening chapter he is clearly arguing against everything they think. He denies the importance of attaching one's self to a famous Apostle but one should only follow Christ. He denies that his mission was baptism precisely because they thought baptism by an Apostle or noteworthy was initiation into the secret mysteries. That's why he says "I thank God I did not baptize any of you." The rest of the time he is telling them they are not wise. They do not have the full truth, they are immature.

Note: There probably wasn't a blow blown Gnosticism at Corinth since this doesn't show up tied to Christian Doctrine until the second century. The Corinthians probably didn't deny that Christ was a flesh and blood being, but just believed that they had "secret wisdom" that other churches didn't have. That is why Paul doesn't just come out and say explicitly "this is wrong, Christ was in history..."
C. No Grounds for the Charge of non-historical crucifixion

Paul's repudiation of the Gnostic faction at Corinth can be seen as a repudiation of all Gnostic positions, especially any position that would detach Jesus Christ form Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of flesh and blood and history. Paul clearly rejected the hidden wisdom schema, why than assume that he rejects the rest of the Gnostic schema? Moreover, Doherty sites this Gnostic vocabulary as grounds for the assumption that Paul is working in the Mythos of a mystery cult. Yet Paul repudiates the mystery cult diatribe. Let's look further at some of the verses Doherty sites.
1) The Charge that Paul does not
Place crucifixion in Spiritual Realm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More on Realizing God


On CARM this guy "sofa King" one of the major trolls makes the bold assertion that
if God existed he would know it.

That's a good question. To make the statement "if God existed I would know it" requires several assumptions not in evidence:

(1) That God can't be be hidden

(2) that belief in God is only adding a fact to the universe

(3) That you don't know it and aren't just refusing to accept what you know.
(atheists really hate that one)

(4) That god is given in sense data

All of these assertions are wrong headed. You can know and you would know if you would allow yourself to realize God's reality; but you can't know by proofs or by empriical observational of sense data.

Since the latter is the only kind of evidence you accept then you can't know and you will never know.

It's not a matter of proof but realization. This is because God is not given in sense data, God is not another fact about the universe. God is not just another thing in the universe.

God is the basis of all reality. I used to make an analogy that was whimsical and meant to be; a fish scientist is hired to find water. He spends all his time looking at the ocean floor and never finds it because it never occurs to him he's looking through it. God is the medium in which we live. God sit he basis of reality and what we call reality is a thought God entertains. Thus you can't find God by examining empirical data.

you can only find god by ascertaining the nature of being and your place in being (ie a contingent creature). You can't prove God, you can't discover God you have to realize God and you do that by realizing the nature of being and your place in it.

God wants to be hidden because the point of life is the search; the search is a mechanism whereby we can internalize the values be gain by doing the search.

God arguments serves as focal points that enable to us lack on to coordinates so we aren't just saying 'all kinds of junk and stuff proves God." You have to have a place to start making realizations, but the place to end up is in the heart. the heart is the field where all actions takes place God-wise.

The idea that "I would know if there is a God" I suggest you do know, but you have yet to realize what you know, and the reason is becasue you don't want to face what it means to realize your place in being.

For example, the transcendental signifier argument (or "focal point"). There has to be a thing at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy that lends meaning to all the lesser meanings which we use to mark the world.

We cannot think coherently or communicate with out this. We may think of it as "reason," or "maths" or "laws of physics" but there is a top to the metaphysical hierarchy, even if you say "I don't believe in Metaphysics, that's bull" you are making a metaphysical statement and assumption by saying that. You cannot escape Metaphysics, you have to engage in it even to reject it, and thus you must subjective to an organizing principle because that's what Metaphysics is, grouping and organizing the world under some single organizing principle (Here I"m speaking of Heideggerian metaphysics).

Even the most Dawkamentalistic atheist has an er zots version of God.

This is just a part of the overall realization that the basis of reality is "holy" and special and has everything to do with the meaning of our place in the world.

That's the bottom line of belief in God, the object of ultimate concerns. Realizing that there is an object of our ultimate concerns is realizing God.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Answering Baggini's Short Intro to Atheism

Julian Baggini

There's a website called Arguing with Atheism. I know who does the sit but for some reason he doesn't include his name so I don't know if he wants the public to know. I'll honor what I imagine to be his wish for anonymity and just refer to the site itself. The point of the site is to carefully examine the very best sources of atheist thinking and to investigate the "better side" of atheism. The site takes this "better side" of atheism (the non hate group side, the real thinking core of the atheist community) and seeks to really understand their point of view; in so doing to test one's own belief.

The first project toward this end is a review and summary of a book by Julian Baggini called

Julian Baggini (editor of The Philospher Magazine)

Author Atheism a very short introduction.
Atheism a Very Short Introduction. Baggini is the editor of The Philosopher Magazine.

Baggini talks about his personal background, his childhood, his road to his current outlook. While he agrees with the usual self definitions of most atheists, the lack of belief in God, Baggini holds out for more than just the negation of a set of beliefs. This is will be important because Christianity is not just a set of beliefs, its not just adding information to the universe. But this phrase is used by the website to describe what Baggini tags onto the conventional definition of atheism:

But atheism is not merely or even principally a series of negations or denials; rather, it is a positive view of what the world consists of and the nature of human beings. At the core of atheism lies a commitment to naturalism, broadly construed as the assertion that “only the objects of the physical sciences-physics, chemistry and biology-exist.” (4) Atheists, however, are not necessarily committed to strong forms of physicalism such as eliminative materialism. The upshot of this description is that the evidence for atheism, according to Baggini, is not primarily counterevidence to the existence of God, but rather consists of the positive evidence for naturalism, broadly construed. This is an important move because it enables him to sidestep the interminable debates in philosophy of religion over the problem of evil, etc. and instead focus on the evidence for naturalism provided primarily by the sciences.

My first reaction to this novel approach is to wonder why reductionists, which Baggini clearly is, make such a big thing out of the little nub of being that's left after they go through tearing away everything in life that is worth living for, then declare the wonder and joy of this nub of a universe that's left. It's a ridiculous outlook. They lose the phenomena of all view points that don't cow tow to their ideology of reduction and then declare their view is the only one of substance because it's the only one standing after they get through stripping away the evdience for any other view. Their approach to hiding the evidence of other views is varied but basically boils down to circular reasoning. Baggini is no exception. The circular reasoning runs like this:

There can't be any evidence for the supernatural because evidence for the supernatural would contradict the ideology and the ideology must be right because science depends upon it. Science is the only form of knowledge, therefore, it has to be protected. Thus any evidence for the supernatural is automatically invalidated and thus must be dismissed.

Now there is no evdience for the supernatural(because any evdience for is automatically wrong since there can't be a supernatural) and that's why the supernatural must be false, therefore, the claims of the supernatural are a priori false. Thus we know there is no supernatural because all the claims for it keep getting dismissed, therefore, there is no evidence for the supernatural.

In Chapter 2 Baggini outlines the positive case for atheism he has in mind. He begins by outlining the components of a persuasive case for any particular point of view: evidence, arguments and rhetoric. The latter, however, can only make the case more persuasive, whether it is reasonable or not, so Baggini focuses on the first two.

Baggini demonstrates this tendency in the very first description of his argument. He sets out criteria whereby one can judge good evdience from bad. The first principle he lays out (this is according the Arguing with Atheism Website)is that anecdotal evdience is not good, evidence but be replicable and public. That is more people who see it the better. The more times it can be repeated the better. That's all find and good, but then it starts getting a little biased. He sets out the example of ice freezing. Of course this is something we all see so its' common, it' also trivial and doesn't have any bearing the question of God. But the image of rock solid science is offered to the reader's mind. What is religious believe contrasted with? The spontaneous combustion of dogs. Yes, dogs, burning up spontaneously.

So evidence that ice freezes at zero degrees centigrade, for example, is strong evidence because it is publicly and universally accessible, whereas the evidence for the spontaneous combustion of dogs is weak because it is anecdotal, that is “it relies upon the testimony of a single person relating one incident.”(13)

Obviously that is pretty anecdotal. So we have this daily event of making ice vs something the vast majority of people live their whole lives and never see. Now for those whose concept of religious experince is the parting of the read sea this may seem like a fair comparison. But there really is a lot more ordinary and available stuff going on God-wise than incendiary K nines.

He could contrast that with mystical experinces, because they are so common some researcher estimate they are had by one in four people. But then he would not be able to set up the premise that supernatural evidence is all anecdotal because mystical experince is demonstrated by 350 or more empirical studies over a four decade period. If you start factoring in studies on religious belief and participation and the effects on health you could have about 2000 studies, and most of them are very good scientific studies. But he would not be able to put up the image that atheists thrive on that "o there's no evidence for the supernatural" not one little bitty piece. Of course if you define the supernatural not as it is in the theology but as atheists want to see, as that which cannot happen because it contradicts reality, then of course there's no evidence for it.

Based on this criterion, Baggini’s contention is that “all the strong evidence tells in favor of atheism, and only weak evidence tells against it.” This is so because, as we saw earlier, in Baggini’s view the evidence for atheism is not merely or even primarily counter-evidence to the existence of God, but rather consists of the evidence for naturalism, broadly construed: “This is only evidence against God’s existence in a negative sense: that is to say, evidence for God’s existence will be found to be lacking and so we will be left with no reason to suppose he exists.” (16)

This move does not strike me as a particularly fair way to evaluate the claims of religious belief.First of all,it is slanted to deny the opportunity for the believer to present best evdience. It practically lays down a guideline if evdience for religious belief doesn't' such it doesn't count as real evdience. This clearly an exercise in begging the question. I will be very interested to see what he trying to analyze as "best evidence." I am so far not impressed because I see no mention of anything that really exists as evidence believers actually use. I suspect that the subtext to his guides are really the idea that science is the only form of knowledge and anything that doesn't count as empirical scientific view point is not admissible as evidence. Clearly this is a move aimed at disposing of the best evidence the believer has before the debate can begin because it compares two things that cannot be compared. God is not given in sense data so the nature of the physical world and sciences ability to discover the workings of the physical world can never be taken as proof against the existence of God. Those are also part of the believer's belief system, I don't know any believers who don't believe in the physical world. Thus he's just crossing categories. He's ruling out the best evdience before the debate starts.

I would term this move as a "trick," and this trick is grossly unfair becasue it's just trying to turn scientists only success (the production of scientific data) into a monopoly for atheist thought and deny the believer any recourse to scientific thought, thus creating the stigma that belief is unscientific. In reality the idea of comparing factual accounts of belief or unbelief to scientific rigor is a huge mistake. Not only do people research according to their biases but science is not a pristine march from ignorance to totally knowledge over the mountains of data. It's a cultural construct. It turns upon paradigm shifts. when the paradigm shifts the whole world turns over all the good little facts from the farmer paradigm become embarrassing old anatomies in the new one. This is why secular minded scientists and atheists have to be skeptical of supernatural effects because their paradigm rules out the supernatural a prori. In other words. it's not the result factual investigation but of ideology.Baggini is hip enough to have read Thomas Kuhn.

He knows that he's just skating over this stuff without even acknowledging it.Because the "cultural constructivist school" has said that science is a social or cultural construct (really the same thing) this has been understood to mean that "science is wrong," or "science doesn't work." He is not saying that Science doesn't work, but he is saying that science is not cumulative progress. The old image of the scientist faithfully stacking one fact upon another, facts patiently gathered from totally objective and therefore totally true observations, is old hat and has to be replaced. Sorry to break the news to the reductionists, but the concept of "progress" is, itself, a cultural construct. There is nothing in nature called "progress." That is a Western notion that comes to us through philosophy and is not strictly speaking, a scientific term. Scientists don't record in their experimental observations "I found the progress in my subject matter." Progress is social and cultural, and it is a relative notion. When we decide we are making progress it is always at the expense of someone elses notion of progress. Due to the nature of paradigm shifts, science does not stack up facts one upon another until x amount of progress is achieved. Science regularly wipes the slate clean and starts over on new paradigms and each new bust of "progress" has to be judged relative to many factors, such as it's social effects.

What then is the positive evidence for naturalism? Baggini uses the example of the nature of persons: the verdict of science is that human beings are mortal animals composed of biological bodies. This is what the atheist’s naturalism would lead her to expect. Any evidence to the contrary, i.e. that points to the existence of a disembodied immortal soul, is weak and anecdotal.

But you see by the nature of this statement, even this is the paraphrase of the guy with the website, the circular reasoning I've already described. He assumes from the outside without presenting any evidence that the believers evidence will be weak and anecdotal. He's also arguing against a straw man version of religious belief as the notion of an Immortal soul in the sense of the ghost in the machine is not indicative of modern Christian theology. This is not what modern Christian thinkers believe, it's an old fashioned verse designed to bring shame to believers. The assertion that the evidence for believe must be wrong and outmoded without knowing what it is is hilarious and I did predict it. The soul is not a Casper the friendly Ghost living inside you. Nor does the Bible tell us that it is. The Bible says that the soul is the life of the believer from the standpoint of the relationship with God. So we do not have souls, we are souls. what might live on after death, if anything, is consciousness, or mind. This is analogous to "spirit" in the Bible. Spirit = mind.

The notion that consciousness is reducible to brain chemistry and nothing that survives exists is totally un-demonstrated and flies in the face of a ton of good scientific evidence. A ton of data supports mind over body. There are basically three arguments:

(1) the hard problem

(2) Top down causality

(3) Veto Power.

There is a movement in property dualism led by David Chalmers, such scientific heavy weights as Penrose are on his side. There is no victory for the brain/mind functionalists yet, far from it. In fact this dichotomy hints at a much larger conceptual frame work that threatens to break open into a total paradigm shift. The handwriting is on the wall for materialism. Major scientific thinkers have already began to see consciousness as other than just some individualistic qualities in each individual person's head caused by brain chemistry and have begun to think of it as something broader, a basic property of nature that we share in, that we exhibit rather than just a side effect of the wiring in our heads.

this is a statement by Peter Russell who was a Cambridge physicists and student of Hawking. I've quoted it on this blog quite recently.

The 'Hard Problem' of Consciousness

The really hard problem-as David Chalmers, professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona, has said-is consciousness itself. Why should the complex processing of information in the brain lead to an inner experience? Why doesn't it all go on in the dark, without any subjective aspect? Why do we have any inner life at all?

This paradox-namely, the absolutely undeniable existence of human consciousness set against the complete absence of any satisfactory scientific account for it-suggests to me that something is seriously amiss with the contemporary scientific worldview. For a long time I could not put my finger on exactly what it was. Then suddenly, about four years ago on a flight back to San Francisco, I saw where the error lay.

If consciousness is not some emergent property of life, as Western science supposes, but is instead a primary quality of the cosmos-as fundamental as space, time, and matter, perhaps even more fundamental-then we arrive at a very different picture of reality. As far as our understanding of the material world goes, nothing much changes; but when it comes to our understanding of mind, we are led to a very different worldview indeed. I realized that the hard problem of consciousness was not a problem to be solved so much as the trigger that would, in time, push Western science into what the American philosopher Thomas Kuhn called a "paradigm shift."

The continued failure of science to make any appreciable headway into this fundamental problem suggests that, to date, all approaches may be on the wrong track. They are all based on the assumption that consciousness emerges from, or is dependent upon, the physical world of space, time, and matter. In one way or another they are trying to accommodate the anomaly of consciousness within a worldview that is intrinsically materialist. As happened with the medieval astronomers, who kept adding more and more epicycles to explain the anomalous motions of the planets, the underlying assumptions are seldom, if ever, questioned.

I now believe that rather than trying to explain consciousness in terms of the material world, we should be developing a new worldview in which consciousness is a fundamental component of reality. The key ingredients for this new paradigm-a "superparadigm"-are already in place. We need not wait for any new discoveries. All we need do is put various pieces of our existing knowledge together, and consider the new picture of reality that emerges.

Consciousness and Reality

Because the word "consciousness" can be used in so many different ways, confusion often arises around statements about its nature. The way I use the word is not in reference to a particular state of consciousness, or particular way of thinking, but to the faculty of consciousness itself-the capacity for inner experience, whatever the nature or degree of the experience.

A useful analogy is the image from a video projector. The projector shines light onto a screen, modifying the light so as to produce any one of an infinity of images. These images are like the perceptions, sensations, dreams, memories, thoughts, and feelings that we experience-what I call the "contents of consciousness." The light itself, without which no images would be possible, corresponds to the faculty of consciousness.

We know all the images on the screen are composed of this light, but we are not usually aware of the light itself; our attention is caught up in the images that appear and the stories they tell. In much the same way, we know we are conscious, but we are usually aware only of the many different experiences, thoughts, and feelings that appear in the mind. We are seldom aware of consciousness itself. Yet without this faculty there would be no experience of any kind.

The faculty of consciousness is one thing we all share, but what goes on in our consciousness, the content of our consciousness, varies widely. This is our personal reality, the reality we each know and experience. Most of the time, however, we forget that this is just our personal reality and think we are experiencing physical reality directly. We see the ground beneath our feet; we can pick up a rock, and throw it through the air; we feel the heat from a fire, and smell its burning wood. It feels as if we are in direct contact with the world "out there." But this is not so. The colors, textures, smells, and sounds we experience are not really "out there"; they are all images of reality constructed in the mind.

It was this aspect of perception that most caught my attention during my studies of experimental psychology (and amplified by my readings of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant). At that time, scientists were beginning to discover the ways in which the brain pieces together its perception of the world, and I was fascinated by the implications of these discoveries for the way we construct our picture of reality. It was clear that what we perceive and what is actually out there are two different things.

This, I know, runs counter to common sense. Right now you are aware of the pages in front of you, various objects around you, sensations in your own body, and sounds in the air. Even though you may understand that all of this is just your reconstruction of reality, it still seems as if you are having a direct perception of the physical world. And I am not suggesting you should try to see it otherwise. What is important for now is the understanding that all our experience is an image of reality constructed in the mind.

Rosenberg's 'liberal naturalism' [CS:JCS:3.1.77]:

"The question of scientific objectivity becomes more compelling when one considers that doubts about the reductive paradigm are by no means new. William James (1890), Charles Sherrington (1951), Erwin Schrodinger (1944, 1958), Karl Popper and John Eccles (1977)--among others--have insisted that the reductive view is inadequate to describe reality. This is not a fringe group. They are among the most thoughtful and highly honored philosophers and scientists of the past century. How is it that their deeply held and vividly expressed views have been so widely ignored? Is it not that we need to see the world as better organized than the evidence suggests?

"Appropriately, the most ambitious chapter of this section is the final one by Willis Harman. Is the conceptual framework of science sufficiently broad to encompass the phenomenon of consciousness, he asks, or must it be somehow enlarged to fit the facts of mental reality? Attempting an answer, he considers the degree to which science can claim to be objective and to what extent it is influenced by the culture in which it is immersed. Those who disagree might pause to consider the religious perspective from which modern science has emerged.

"There is reason to suppose that the roots of our bias toward determinism lie deeper in our cultural history than many are accustomed to suppose. Indeed, it is possible that this bias may even predate modern scientific methods. In his analysis of thirteenth-century European philosophy, Henry Adams (1904) archly observed: "Saint Thomas did not allow the Deity the right to contradict himself, which is one of Man's chief pleasures." One wonders to what extent reductive science has merely replaced Thomas's God with the theory of everything."

The brave atheist physicalist wishes to pretend that his side has total absolute triumph and the silly little religious view point is going "gluge gluge gluge" as it sinks into the sun lite waters of the ocean, but the truth of it is the paradigm shift is already underway. Materialism has vanished. I call my essay "Materialism Vanishes" but it is already gone. Atheists put a happy face on it and call it "phsyicalism" and say it's gotten better, but the truth of it is materialism is gone and it left behind a form of physicalism which incorporates all sorts of idea that just one hundred years ago would have been seen as magical thinking and nonsense. That essay I link to itself offers a wealth of first rate evdience for the supernatural.

Back to the review of Baggini we find more comparisons of non evidence to irrelevant psychical processes of nature that we all agree exist.

Mediums, for example, who claim to be able to communicate with the dead “are unreliable…no medium has ever been able to tell us something that proves beyond reasonable doubt that they are party to information from the ’spirit world’.” (19) Baggini rejects the burden of having to examine each and every possible case of evidence for life after death, because these cases can plausibly be explained by human gullibility and the emotional need to believe in an afterlife. Retreating to the claim that life after death has not been conclusively disproven is not a desirable move either, because many other beliefs which we think are patently absurd are also unfalsifiable.

That just beats the hell out of Christianity. I know so many theolgoians who base their world views on mediums. But notice he refuses to investigate on a case by case basis. I don't care about mediums but this also means that he wont investigate on a case by case basis when it comes to real sure enough God-miracles. That means he's just chucking best evdience without even examining it as I predicted he would. It's just part of that scientific double talk that amounts to circular reasoning; all the cases of claims for supernatural must be wrong because there can't be a supernatural since there's no evidence, we know there's no evdience because we can rule it out without examining it. He says the cases can be explain by human gullibility, but then he's just dumping the while class of evidence without examining it, begging the question that it's all gullibility. How does he know that? Because it violates his ideology so he can just assume so.

The existence (or lack thereof) of life after death contributes to an inductive case for atheistic naturalism: “The evidence of experience is that we live in a world governed by natural laws, that everything that happens in it is explained by natural phenomena.”

What is his assertion based upon? Upon mediums? Mediums can be swept aside without examining their claims, therefore, there's no life after death? This guy is a scientist? How does he know there is no life after death? Of course we are not dealing with his arguments directly, but the website is in capable hands and the one who does the site is very fair minded and I'm sure he's giving Baggini the best possible hearing.

Baggini also offers an argument to the best explanation, contrasting atheism as a worldview with other worldviews. Among the advantages of an atheistic worldview: 1) “It is simple in that it requires us to posit only the existence of the natural world,” whereas “alternatives also require us to posit the existence of an unobserved supernatural world”

I think it would come as a huge shock to most atheists I encounter that atheism is a world view. Most of them relish the arguemnt that its' merely the absence of belief thus freeing it from any responsibility to really explain the world.

2) “the naturalistic worldview…is also more coherent, because it has everything in the universe fitting into one scheme of being. Those who posit a supernatural realm have to explain how this realm and the natural one interact and coexist” 3) “Atheism has great explanatory power when it comes to the existence of divergent religious beliefs”, and so on.

This is an extremely troubling statement because as a world view based upon naturalism and nothing more he's leaving out all sorts of things that even other atheists had the sense to include, but he can't include them unless he's willing to admit that science is not the only form of knowledge. If he does admit that then he has to admit the best evdience of belief, which is philosophical,deductive, and/or phenomenological in nature. What he's leaving out is demonstrably among that which makes life wroth living and yet is naturalistic but inter-subjective and thus opens the door to other form of knowledge that are not naturalistic. I speak of things like Music, art, literature, philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology.

So we can summarize Baggini’s case for atheistic naturalism as follows: naturalism is inductively supported by the (strong) evidence we have for the regularity of the natural world and the fact that many if not all phenomena we observe have natural explanations, and is the best explanation for a variety of phenomena which are puzzling to the theist.

That there is a physical world and it can be studied scientifically is not in question. Therefore, any attempt to compare this to religious belief is mere a chimera. It has nothing to do with a religious view point.

There is a great deal of empriical evidence supporting the supernatural. But of course it depends upon the Peroper Understanding of the Sueprnatural because the atheist's notion of the supernatural as an unseen realm filled with ghosts and demons, angels and major power is the degraded false watered down version that is left in the wake of enlightenment reductionism and Reformation equicicalism. The great psychologist and social scientist Abraham Maslow equated the supernatural with ordinary psychology and he said:

Now that may be taken as a frank admission of a naturalistic psychological origin, except that it invovles a universal symbology which is not explicable through merely naturalistic means. How is it that all humans come to hold these same archetypical symbols? (For more on archetypes see Jesus Chrsit and Mythology page II) The "prematives" viewed and understood a sense of transformation which gave them an integration into the universe. This is crucial for human development. They sensed a power in the numenous, that is the origin of religion."

"In Appendix I and elsewhere in this essay, I have spoken of unitive perception, i.e., fusion of the B-realm with the D-realm, fusion of the eternal with the temporal, the sacred with the profane, etc. Someone has called this "the measureless gap between the poetic perception of reality and prosaic, unreal commonsense." Anyone who cannot perceive the sacred, the eternal, the symbolic, is simply blind to an aspect of reality, as I think I have amply demonstrated elsewhere (54), and in Appendix I, fromPeak Experience

--Abrham Maslow

He was not far wrong. Religious experince is an empirical example of the supernatural. It is exactly what the supernatural was suppossed to be according to Mathias Joheph Scheeben (Natural and Grace, 1865) the nature of God elevating human nature to the higher level.This is studied empirically and is demonstrated in 350 empirical studies. Some of the distillation of those studies can be seen on Doxa. There is fine scientific empriical evdience for Miracles at Lourdes but one must go on a case by case basis. This is what's so phony about Baggini's approach, becasue in denying case by case basis he's merely ruling out best evidence. The miracles committee uses strict rules,the committees seat the finest medical experts in Europe and even have skeptics on the committee. Best medical evidence is required and rules are designed to screen out remission.

But there's no point to any of this because the best evdience for belief is not empirical evdience at all but the realization of what what it means to be. For that one must face life holistically. The problem with Baggini's approach, and to the extent that he represents a form of atheism, the problem with atheism itself is that it resists a holistic approach to life. It's a reductionist approach. you can't holistically. This is the problem with the empiricist view, it ultimately destroys all forms of knowledge and reduces life to a dull set of facts that aren't worth knowing. The minute one begins thinking about what life means and what its for, the minute one begins thinking there must be something more than just this dull bombardment of atoms in the void,(I don't mean thinking of God I just mean thinking about art or music or what life exists, or why be alive or what is there to live for) one is transgressing, moving over the life of good scientific evdience into the dreaded no man's land of the horrible "subjective."

Belief in God is a realization of what it means to be. Denial of belief is a rejection of everything life is about and everything worth while about living. The reductionist view is an anti-life view.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Meta Ethical theory

Meta ethics is the term used to discuss what makes something good or bad, right or wrong.It's the superstructure of ethical theory.

The problem is both sides are screwed up in their muddled misconceptions about what morality is and how God affects it.

In a latter post I'll give my attempt to unscrew the muddle. but for now i'm just going to talk about why both sides are screwed up.

The Evangelical problem.

Before I go into this I want to point out that I studied with two fine ethicist in gradate school. one of them world famous. They both thought I was a good student of ethics. I have tried to be very through in my understanding of the subject. My views on this come from a thinker who was one of the most intellectual Evangelicals ever; ironically she was a woman; Dorothy Emmet.

pre Reagan, not a fundie but Evangelical and highly respected by all camps. If you can you should find her book The Moral prism, eye opening weather you are a Christian or an atheist.

I point this out because it will schock some Christians to hear that her finding was that moraltiy is realitive and contestable.

Yes, she is saying is a Christian not an atheist not as some secular person this is her Christian analysis of the field of morality as a whole.

moral axioms have to be grounded in values.Values are arbitrary meaning there is no "objective" sense in which it can be proven one should hold one value or another. All the talk that goes on about "objective morality" is just wrong headed. Absolute values also is a misnomer and a problem.

Morality is not objective and its' not "absolute." What it is in place of this is either grounded or not grounded. It should be grounded because otherwise it's meaningless. The problem is in what do you ground it?

there is no verse in the Bible that says morality is absolute or objective. In fact the terms "objective" and "subjective" never appear in the bible. Thtas' because they only arise out of Kantian perspective where the mind is made the object around which the sense data orbits rather then another part of the sense data itself.

The whole subject object dichotomy only arises with Descartes to Kant.

I really wish you guys would stop talking about these formulations that are not connected to historical Christianity: I'm talking to the Christians here now!

One example of historical Christianity:


We love the eternal we use the temporal. The eternal nature of certain values grounds them in reality in way that other values are not grounded. Love for example is an eternal value. Eternal values are those that are based upon God's charter, the basis of which is love.

Just being long lasting (eternal) one might think is an advantage because it will last longer, but the real reason why it's a grounding is becasue it's based upon God and who and what God is.

temporal values are less grounded and not enduring because they are grounded in relative things that vannish and have no permenan and no importance beyond matters of taste.

this means people are eternal becasue we are souls, we have eternal life. So this means each and every person is an end in himself, we are not means to ends. We have treat each person equally with dignity and love and seek the good of that person as an end in himself not a means to archive our own ends.

Now you might think that's why we talk about objective and relative, or universe and relative. I admit "universal" is a good term for moral values more so than "objective." The fact is this is not just about relative vs. absolute. The problems with terms like objective and absolute is that they are not based upon the divine character, they are not based upon Biblical values or eternal values.

(1) There is no objectivity. There are only degrees of subjectivity. so there's no point in tyring to force objectivity as a phony value.

(2) these things belie the nature of contextualize that is crucial to understand In other words, there's no flexibility. Because meaning arises from context, you can't ignore context and just demand a universal standard that can never be understood in any other light. That's what Emmit was getting at.

The true nature of morality is based upon either deonotogy (duty and obligation, sometimes expressed as rule keeping) or teleology based upon the end or the goal. This is what will determine what's true or good or right vs false, evil, or wrong. Not objectivity not absolutes, but duty and obligation vs goals or the end result.

The Atheist Problem of Morlatiy

atheist morality is bankrupt. This is because they have no grounding, or the seek to deny the necessity of grounding. All atheist morality boils down to matter of taste. then to cover up the weakness of having no grounding they pretend that it's not important you don't need it it's all just my little feelings and what I feel like now is what makes something good.

there are three basic sources of atheist grounding, all inadequate:

(1) teleological

(2) personal feelings

(3) based upon the community or social contract.

*teleological ethics has been totally discredited in meta ethical circles. no one really claims to be a utilitarian or consquentialist anymore.

* No grounding in personal feelings at all. Your feelings can be selfish they can change and how do you deal with the feelings of others?

* relative to the community. what if your community is Nazi?

this is sort of what I was trying to get at when I was talking about overlapping communities. Because there is a way to build a consensus among communities and make assumptions about values and their grounding that would stack up to a universe moraltiy without appealin to religion: except for the fact that with most communities the values are embedded in religious past.

You can't take religion out of the mix. It's inherent and normative. In other words. the value we hold we hold because they came to us from religious traditions and that's why they are special and why they are wroth using to ground axioms. So you have to include that in the mix, although it is possible to construct a serviceable morality that can guide a secular society with impossing religion, but you can't ignore it as though its not a source of knowledge to draw upon for the values.

Both sides contribute big problems:

(1) The theistic, or especially Abrahamic religions: rigidity and lack the flexibility to understand contexts and situations.

(2) Atheist: destroy the basis for grounding all morality in anything stable in an attempt to deny the need for stability in axioms.

this last assertion I argue only in terms of those who try to down play or deny the need for grouding of axioms. That process,the process of down playing, merely says "we don't need moral thinking."

Now an atheist might argue as did Asimov on CARM:

You started adequately, and then you bombed here. Your parachute didn't deploy either so your a sodding mess all over the ground.

Originally Posted by Metacrock View Post
atheist morality is bankrupt. This is because they have no grounding, or the seek to deny the necessity of grounding. All atheist morality boils down to matter of taste. then to cover up the weakness of having no grounding they pretend that it's not important you don't need it it's all just my little feelings and what I feel like now is what makes something good.

I shake my head at you. Ignorant tripe is all this is.

there are three basic sources of atheist grounding, all inadequate:

(1) teleological

(2) personal feelings

(3) based upon the community or social contract.
Retarded nonsense. Your world famous ethicist must have been a moron, too.

Social contract is grounded upon the recognizance of the fact that a society is a population of individual moral agents striving for survival at the basic level and the flourishing of life at the higher level.

A social contract applies to all citizens equally, and define the right to action of all citizens, equally. A Nazi social contract wouldn't be reasonable or equal, so your point is moot.

Social contract is the only true basis for a moral compact, that is rules to run a society by. But ti doesn't tell us why something something is good or evil, right or wrong. It's not adequate grounding. Granted its' better than divine right of Kings, which it emerged in the enlightenment to opposes, it's better than brute force or mob ruel but it's not adequate.

so I started out adequately becasue I was criticizing Christians. But when I criticize atheists he cant' take it and folds up in anger. hysterical thugs.