Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Properly Basic Belief and Extraordinary Claims

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Dec 28, CARM, Christian apologist Occam:


It still seems to me, after discussing the subject with atheists for a little while, that there are significant counter-examples to the claim that every belief must be supported by sufficient evidence:

(1) The past exists.
(2) The external world exists.
(3) People other than myself have minds.

Now, maybe I'm wrong in thinking that we hold these beliefs without sufficient evidence, but for the purposes of this thread, let's assume I'm right. What follows from that?

For one thing, it follows that the statement, "there is not enough evidence for the existence of God," is insufficient as an explanation of one's atheism. After all, if there are counter-examples to the claim that every belief must be supported by sufficient evidence, then the fact that there is not sufficient evidence for a belief does not, in and of itself, explain why one does not hold that belief.

So, if I'm right that there are counter-examples to the claim that every belief must be supported by sufficient evidence, I think that atheists should explain their atheism in terms of properly basic belief rather than in terms of evidence.

How might they do this? Well, they might say that their atheism is a properly basic response to the suffering and other evils that they see in the world. The atheist might say that he can just look at, say, an infant born with severe deformities, and know that there is no God. This might be stronger than the traditional argument from evil, which, being an argument, allows the theist to divert the discussion away from the sheer horror of evil, and turn it into an abstract discussion of the argument's formal validity.

This illicits Response by Atheist "Ben The Biased"
see ibid pot no. 3

Or we could just use your standard for evaluating beliefs...

Quote
Originally Posted by Occam View Post
I wouldn't put Sagan's dragon in the same category as God, because it's crazy. There are obviously some things that can be known in the properly basic way, and some that can't.


I could just as easily say that I wouldn't put God in the same category as the past, the external world, and other minds because it's crazy.
my response to both:

Meta:

I don't think the problem is with the concept that everything needs sufficient evidence. That's basically what a rational warrant is. The term essentially means just that (0r "good reason to believe it").

Even Plantinga's idea of properly basic is not saying there's no reason to believe something you just believe it anyway. It's saying that one need not have to prove what one finds valid as a warrant for belief.

Now atheists have always assumed they have that in the form of an absence of convincing evidence. Really I am not included to dispute that. It seems reasonable to me to say "I don't find X conciliating as a reason to believe Y so, therefore,I don't believe Y." That also means that if one say "well, I do believe Y becuase I do find X convincing" then they really can't back on it.

I think what all of this points to is a sense of tolerance and let believers believe and unbelievers not believe.
Now enter the "extraordinary claims" (ECREE) bit:
Atheist poster Captian Obvious (post 5):

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not less or no evidence.
So, for the notion that "people other than myself have minds" to be analogous to the notion of god, you have to suggest that they have approximately the same probability.

Even if, (which I don't accept) I believe that people have minds without sufficient evidence to do so, that does not compel me to accept every claim for which there is insufficient evidence. It certainly doesn't compel me to accept claims that would actually run counter to existing measurable evidence (depending on how god is defined).
I have posted several blog spots on this concept (ECREE) over the years. the last three are basically the same one form 2008 and that's probably the best answer I have given it. The most recent was in 20011.

My Answer to him:
Meta:

Originally Posted by CaptainObvious View Post
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, not less or no evidence.

Meta:
no they don't. I have never been able to find a logical reason from anyone why that should be true and not the dictum "adequate means of proof are adequate." That's matter of definition. If something is "adequate" then by definition it's enough.


the whole issue is going to revolve around what's what, that is, what really constitutes "extraordinary" and "adequate?"


CA:
So, for the notion that "people other than myself have minds" to be analogous to the notion of god, you have to suggest that they have approximately the same probability.
Meta:

No you don't. you have no way to attach probability to God. the whole concept is silly. That's like saying "what's the probalby that something is real rather than all reality being illusion?" How can make a basis for measurement? If all of reality is an illusion then obviously the idea that it's not illusory is part of the illusion.

Even if, (which I don't accept) I believe that people have minds without sufficient evidence to do so, that does not compel me to accept every claim for which there is insufficient evidence. It certainly doesn't compel me to accept claims that would actually run counter to existing measurable evidence (depending on how god is defined).
there are some levels of knowing that are illusive and must be based upon a judgment rather than proof.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What Difference God Makes: Reverse Design Argument

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On carm just before Christmas an atheist called "1337" argues:


I contend that the theistic version of god doesn't exist. Why do I say this? Because the assertion that there is a personal god seems to be baseless. In fact, it is christian apologists that eroded my faith away. They continue to make qualifications about why it seems that god does nothing, until eventually the view that god exists is no different from the view that he doesn't exist.

People assert that god makes a difference in their lives. My question to you is, what would the world look like if that god didn't exist? What differences would we notice?

(NOTE: If anyone responds by saying "without god the world couldn't exist at all" I'll just ignore it, that's not the point of the discussion)

In the discussion that ensued this turned into a reverse design argument. Its' reversal because he's saying basically that Chrsitians can show anything that would actually be different if there wasn't a God.

I made two criticisms. They have booth gone unanswered.

(1) It's the same mistake the design argument makes, it doesn't have another universe to compare to.

(2) It treats belief in God as though it's just adding a fact to the universe in tread of a whole other universe. Belief in God entails a totally different universe than the one atheists believe in.

The second one evolved into an answer that we can say without God the world wouldn't be. This is because God is the ground of being, without God there would be no being.

Part of the exchange with 1337:
Originally Posted by 1337 View Post
I'm going to take this a lot slower so that you can understand the argument.

1337
To start off, I'm going to assume that god exists as most christians say he does. He answers prayers, he heals the sick, he gives us salvation, he holds the universe together, he can affect nature.

Meta:

that doesn't mean we see his universe holding activity. the strong force holds the universe but we don't see the strong force. do you understand can you think about that?

1337
That's it, that's the beginning of my argument. I didn't assume there was no god, I assumed that there is a god as Christians claim (contrary to your point #1 above). I am not assuming that god is a thing of this world, I am assuming he has an effect on this world (contrary to your point #2 listed above).


Meta
you assume it's a visible effect and the reason you do is becasue you place God in the world as a thing alone side other things.

1337
Up to this point have I committed any fallacies? Is assuming Christians are right a fallacy?

Meta:

you are making assumptions that you are not aware of. you are assuming the effect has to be viable. you are assuming it would make the world look different. It's a very different world but it wouldn't necessarily look any different.

I've already given differences. I'm answered the argument the way you wanted and you still wont think about it.



Atheists have an argument that seeks to reverse the design argument. It does exactly what the design argument does, which is probably reason enough to disregard it; it reasons form the apparent state of the world to the probable non existence of God. If it is illogical to reason form the world to God, it is equally illogical to reason from the world to not God. For this reason I swore off design arguments years ago. I have violated that oath twice, but for good reason (I'll get to those in a minute). In any case, there is a great deal wrong with this argument, and in figuring up all the many problems I see it I began to think of two things:

(1) Perhaps it would be instructive to delineate the cases under which one can argue from the state of the world to the existence of God.

(2) In pondering this question, I began to think about perhaps what might be the ultimate God argument.


The problem is that really if you think about it almost all probabilistic arguments are really arguing from the state of the world to the probable existence of God. But somehow this seem less drastic in some cases than others. I know there are those who just turn off at any kind of God argument. But for us Connoisseurs of God arguments, this should be a thorny issue. After all, what's the real difference between arguing form the contingency of the world, and arguing from the design of the world? Well, off hand the real difference is that one can be compared to something, the other can't. That's one of the major problems with this atheist argument, which was advanced at one point by Richard Carrier at one time. We do not have a designed universe to compare outs to, so we don't know what we are observing, design or random development?

The argument says if we were to consider a random universe that came about by accident, you couldn't do better than our own. It really looks accidental. Life is precarious and rare, the universe is very hostile to it. It's vast, far more vast than it has to be. On the one tiny oasis we know of where life took root it blossomed into something as glorious as Richard Carrier's ego, we have no really obvious clue that God exists. If we were to consider what a purposeful logical creator would do we should expect sign posts to his existence everywhere, right? Well, maybe. maybe not. That's the problem the argument is nothing more than begging the question. It assumes we know what God would do, and after constructing a straw man God who behaves the way we want him to, we just assume we know what he would do and than access the tragic fact that it hasn't been done. So by golly, there must not be a God, because this non God doesn't' follow my advice! Of course the model for his straw God is fundamentalism. Athens are so afraid to take on liberal theology honestly, but it's because they are all secretly fundamentalists. What I mean by hat is they are the "tails" to the fundies "heads." Like communist and anti-communists, they are both parts of the same thing.

The difference in this argument and one that actually has something to compare, a base line from which to work, should be obvious. The atheist who argues for Carrier's idea must forge his own base line by setting up a straw man (um, God) and then privileging his assumptions about the nature of religion in such a way that he just nixes the possibly of any other kind of theology. That's not a real comparison. The fine tuning argument can compare fine tuning to lack thereof, compare target levels to the actual hitting of same. The contingency arguments (quantum and other forms of cosmology) can compare contingency to necessity. Religious experience arguments are drawn from the results of experience, they compare experience to non experience. The two instances in which I do use design arguments are those in which comparisons can be made between the nature of the world and state of existence known to lack that attribute as known non designed reality; the use of the "God Pod" as evoking innate ideas. We can compare reactions to God talk to other kinds of talk and see that our brains only react to God talk in the way that they do. Thus we can compare the innate ideas of God to reactions to other ideas. The other instance is the fine tuning argument,which has already been explained. But the Carrier reverse design argument has nothing to compare except Richard's ego. With that as the standard for assumptions, we have no basis upon which to draw conclusions about the nature of God from the state of the universe.

This argument does have one other troubling application. It could be a "possible defeater" for proper basically. To be properly basic an idea must be logically apprehended as it is, with no possible alternative explanations, or "defeaters." The argument is a possible defeater only if we understand it to be indicative the kind of universe God would not make. But we can't make that assumption because we can't pretend to know all the things God would do. Once can find many alternative theological explanations that involve both Evangelical views of God and non Evangelical views. The most obvious non Evangelical view is that of process theology. The atheist can only think of God as a big man upstairs. This is the basic image they rebel against. The will of the father is their Kryptonite. They foresee a big man on a throne who decides and deliberates such a potentate wants to be served, they reason, and thus must make a universe in which he is known commonly to all. So we should expect the universe to be smaller, easier to navigate, easier to understand, filled with sign posts of God. No disease, no problems and everyone automatically given tons of faith so the world would be a paradise. If some serpent spoiled it, it should be put right immediately so that we can go on in our little heavens, where no doubt we get to listen to Richard Dawkins directing the chores of angels.

The God of process theology, on the other hand, is more like the Helena dialectic, or like some organizing principle. This is not a God deliberates and decides. this is a God who is potential in one realm, and who micro manages (literally) creation in the other; almost a law of physics, changing with creation, bringing subatomic particles into being and ushering them out of being. This is more of a stage director in the play of the universe (and in other bipolar structure stage director and producer) than a big king on a throne. Such a God would start the process of life and allow it go where it will, then embrace (to whatever extent possible) any beings that evolve sufficiently to come up to its level.

Another version would be my own idea of God as being itself (Tillich's idea--). This version of God is much like the process God, but I fell that God is too sacred a mystery to pin down to bipolar structures or to analyze all of "his" ("her," "its") doings. God is the great wholly (Holy) other. WE cannot know except through mystical union what God is doing. But such a God is the basis upon which being proceeds into concrescence and the basic reality of the Platonic forms. Such a God does not design or make plans, but the whole of creation is a non deliberating plan in the sense of being an expression of God's charter indwell; yet not necessity the result of raciocentination. Thus God starts a principle of life emerging from the nature of being, because that's what being does it spreads the beings, it "let's be" (John Mcquarrie). The evolutionary course that is followed may be assisted in an automatic sort of way, not as a plan, not as a deliberate gesture, but as the result of a nature that has to manifest itself creatively. This being doesn't' say "I will make men, and men will serve me." But men evolve out of the storm and the wastes of the abyss and they naturally come to find God because that's the nature of being, it is there to be found in the sense of the numinous. When humanity reaches a point where it comprehends the numinous, it seeks God and finds God.

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 Tillich 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 is to be found. It's a privilege but faith is a gift.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crucified God, Moltmann, part 2

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Moltmann has no mockish sentiments comparing bogus stories about kings sacrificing their sons, nor does he communicate the meaning of cross by multiplying examples of the physical torment a crucifixion victim undergoes. Those are all third rate apologetic and they have no place in Moltmann's thinking. Moltmann talks about the eschatological meaning of the cross. He had already laid down the most sophisticated eschatology in his first groundbreaking work Theology of Hope. He goes on to talk about the meaning of the cross in terms of the solidarity statement.

The participation of Christ in the life of humanity creates the basis for God's solidarity. Other martyr figures died for their noble causes but Jesus did not die for a noble cause. No one understood that he was making a statement of God's solidarity. He was tagged as a blasphemer by the religious authorities and he was being crucified as a criminal with criminals. It was understood that his cause was political power and he was labeled as such. Thus he was not sen as atoning for the sins of the world but as another misguided terrorist who tried to take power and didn't make it. He was crucified among thieves which to the masses "this guy is no better than a thief."

Atheists on message boards sometimes go through gyrations trying to deny that the atonement meant anything. They will say "that was no sweat for God. He was invulnerable like superman and so he didn't feel a thing." Motlmann doesn't mention atheists but that kind of response, which carries all the subtly and sensitivity of a lynch mob, is totally inapplicable. Even though Moltmann doesn't talk about the physical torturer of the cross he illustrates the devastating nature of its meaning in the abandonment by God. This is not an attempt to say "see Jesus really suffered after all." The God haters who long to think of God as suffering will have to be disappointed. The issue of solidarity is not an issue of "did he really suffer?" Instead it's an issue abandonment.

Jesus was abandoned by God. Moltmann makes that point in showing that only one evangelist records that cry "my God, my God why have you forsaken me?" The others all soften it up (Luke, Matt, John). They change it to "into thy hands I commend my spirit," or "it is finished." Mark records the original abandonment cry and Jesus life ends there. Jesus dies abandoned by God. He has no noble cause to die for, he's labeled and classed at the lowest level of society, and dies misunderstood and alone. Moltmann is not wallowing in how much he suffered because the abandonment plays a much more important role in the drama of salvation. It's not that it gives Jesus "street cred" as suffering. It links him to humanity. It establishes the solidarity because he died as a man at the lowest level of humanity, tragically and alone, as we die. He was a man and he died as men die. He felt abandoned by God as we all feel and as some of us feel in extreme measure.

Of cousre that sets up the hope of the resurrection.
As Paul says:

...all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were Baptized into his death.? We were therefore buried with him in baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection.For we know that the old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.Now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him, for we know that since Christ was raised from the dead he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him; the death he died to sin he died once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Chrsit Jesus.(Romans 6:1-5)




As I express it on my website doxa:

Jurgen Moltmann's notion of Solidarity (see The Crucified God) is based upon the notion of Political solidarity. Christ died in Solidarity with victims. He took upon himself a political death by purposely angering the powers of the day. Thus in his death he identifies with victims of oppression. But we are all vitims of oppression. Sin has a social dimension, the injustice we experience as the hands of society and social and governmental institutions is primarily and at a very basic level the result of the social aspects of sin. Power, and political machinations begin in the sinful heart, the ego, the desire for power, and they manifest themselves through institutions built by the will to power over the other. But in a more fundamental sense we are all victims of our own sinful natures. We scheme against others on some level to build ourselve up and secure our conditions in life. IN this sense we cannot help but do injustice to others. In return injustice is done to us.Jesus died in solidarity with us, he underwent the ultimate consequences of living in a sinful world, in order to demonstrate the depths of God's love and God's desire to save us. Take an analogy from political organizing. IN Central America governments often send "death squads" to murder labor unionists and political dissenter. IN Guatemala there were some American organizations which organized for college students to go to Guatemala and escourt the leaders of dissenting groups so that they would not be murdered.

The logic was that the death squads wouldn't hurt an American Student because it would bring bad press and shut off U.S. government funds to their military. As disturbing as these political implications are, let's stay focused on the Gospel. Jesus is like those students, and like some of them, he was actually killed. But unlike them he went out of his way to be killed, to be victimized by the the rage of the sinful and power seeking so that he could illustrate to us the desire of God; that God is on our side, God is on the side of the poor, the victimized, the marginalized, and the lost. Jesus said "a physician is not sent to the well but to the sick."The key to salvation is to accept God's statement of solidarity, to express our solidarity with God by placing ourselves into the death of Christ (by identification with it, by trust in it's efficacy for our salvation).
When we put ourselves into Christ's death and reckon ourselves dead with him then we are in solidarity with God and that puts in the stream of the hope of resurrection which is real and truly had through Christ's actual resurrection. That is the real meaning of Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann: a Christmas refelction (part 1)

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Jurgen Moltmann


Every Christmas I used to read this book, The Crucified God (Jurgan Motlmann*). I haven't read it in a few years because in 2007 we had an apartment foold and I haven't seen my copy since. Last a mentioned this and a good friend sent me a new copy! I'm reading it again now. It's one of the best books to read for Christmas because it sets the atonement in context with the incarnation and orients it in Hegelian fashion toward the resurrection as a synthesis of incarnation by the father and rejection by the father.. This book has it all, moving passages that reflect for of and for Christ, and abstruse theological and philosophical points that only a seminarian could love, and a German cultural bias. Hot dog (Wienerschnitzel) it's just made for Christmas.

Christmas is about the baby Jesus and celebrating his birth. Yet lurking behind this innocent facade is the brunt of Christian Trinitarian theology. The whole point of baby Jesus is the cross and the empty tomb. Why did he manifest in hsitory as a man (beginning as baby) but to die on the cross for the sin of the world and raise from the dead. Why do that anyway? what's it all about. That's the true point of Christmas. The holiday is the hopeful side of it all because it starts with unffulled potential of the baby Jesus and looks forward to what he will do in the future when he grows up. The resurrection is positive but not hopeful because it's the fruition of the thing. It' not hoping in something its obtaining it. The Christmas story is hope becuase it looks to the future.

I am going to do at least two if not more summaries of Moltmann's book and I hope the reader will get hold of a copy. There is an online copy on Google books the reader can use now. It's not complete and I hope the reader will buy a copy or at least go to the library and get a copy.

The time I was leaving Perkins (school of theology SMU--1990) Moltmann was being called "the greatest living Protestant theologian." I don't know who get's that title today, as far as I know Moltmann is still alive. He was born in Hamberg in 1926. His family was secular. He grew up interested in German Idealism and philosophy. He was drafted at 18 in 1944 and taken prisoner at the end of the war. Those experienced started him on a theological search. He studied at Göttingen University under Barthian influenced teachers. Something of a rarity he is a Calvinist not a Lutheran. The kind of Calvinist he is I have only encountered in seminary. I would call thm "liberal." Predestination is not important to them. I guess they are neo-orthodox that's what Barth was. He was not a Calvinist.

Moltmann first gained recognition in the mid 60s with his ground breaking work Theology of Hope.(on line text). The Crucified God came out in 68 it coincided with the times. 1968 was a seminal year for the coutner culture and the political movements from Parish (May 68) to Mexico (the massacre of the students at the university in Mexico City), the the riots at Columbia (in New York). Not to mention the police riot at the Dem's convention in Chicago. The Crucified God served as a justification theologically for taking part in the protests. It served as a lunching pad for the liberation theology and the struggles of Latin America. Moltmann was no sooner hailed as a liberation theologian than he was denounced by those wishing to lead such movements and feeling their third world origins deprived them of leadership. They disparaged his contribution. Moltmann was undaunted because he didn't care about leading he cared about the struggle.

The reason the book serves in this way was a liberation is becuase of the new light it sheds on the atonement. Motlmann changes the focus on the meaning of atonement from the efficacy of the act itself to the meaning of the act and it's wider implications due to that meaning. This is not a spoiler.It is the crux of the book. You get this concept here you know what the book says it's still well worth reading in my opinion. This is no more a spoiler than revealing that the allies win in the movie The Longest Day. It's a concept I have called participatory atonement. I've talked about it on this blog I have a page about on Doxa, it's my view of the atonement.

The basic idea is that the atonement is not a commercial transaction or a work of magic. It's not because Jesus shed blood that it atones but because the act itself is a statement of solidarity. It is in creating a mutual solidarity between us and God that the ground for forgiveness is created. That means if we are in solidarity, we signify this by acceptance of God's statement of solidarity, that is by placing faith in Jesus act of atonement, we are in solidarity with God and we can't be held in condemnation.

To get to this point Moltmann begins by talking about Christian identity. He asks where should we find a Christian on Sunday morning? Should we find one in the pew doing the religoius thing? Or should we find one on the barricades fighting the government? He concludes we should find a Christian on the barricades (very 60s you see). This is more than just a sense of identification "I am a Christian and I feel good about it." But the question of "what makes one a Christian?" Doctrine alone doesn't do it, he finds. Of course we know just taking part in ceremony and being present in chruch doesn't' do it. Just touting a doctrine is not personal it doesn't engage one's life. Moltmann finds that living God's love engages our lives in the sense of identity. We live that by taking God's act of solidarity into the world. So having solidarity with the poor ourselves is an expression of God's act of solidarity for all humanity.

There's a lot more going on here than just "live out your faith by being a protester." In this coming I'll try to unpack it. I hope as the reader reads all of this that he/she will think about it in relation to Christmas as the celebration of all of Christ's work not just his birth. WE embrace the hope of the infant in the manger becasue we know how the story wound up.










____________
*there's an umlout over the u in Jurgen but I don't have an umlout key.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Phenomenology and Method

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Many Atheists are hung up on empirical knowledge. Thats why so many of them (not all by many) insist that we have no info about God, you can't verfy God and so forth.Many posts on CARM lattely have criticized "religious subjectivity." Even many christians have fallen into the trap of dicotomizing between subect and object, such that they think: subjectivity = bad, objectivity = good.
But God cannot be the subject of empirical data becasue is not given in sense data. That's becasue God is not just another object along side objects in creation. God is not just another thing, God is the basis of reality. That's like a fish scientist saying "they assinged me to study this thing called 'water' but I can't find any water." he says that because it never dawns on him that its' all around him, the medium in which he lives and he's always looking through it. he can't see the water because he's looking through it.

That's sort of the case with God because God is the basis of reality, the ground of Being. "in him we live and move and have our being." When we try to look at God and see him directly we look through him because in a sense he's the medium in which we live.

The only answer to this is to search for something else. We don't look for empirical evdience of God, we look for a "co-detemrinate." That is, we look for the signatrue of God, or to use a Derridian term the "trace of God." Like the arua of a neutrino. We can't photogrpah neutrinos directly but we have photographed their auruas that are the reaction of Nuetrinos with other particals. When you see that aurua you know you have one.

But the trace of God has to be the result of a subjective or intersubjective understanding. So rather than subject it to empirical means, we need allow the sense data to determine the categories under which we organize our thinking about God.

Schleiermacher was the originater of this kind of thinking (prior to Brintono who is attributed to be the inventer of Phenomenology). Here is Schleiermacher's take on God consciousness. We don't search for God in objective terms we search for "God consciousness."

Phenomenology


Phenomenology is very important because it is the altenative way of htinking to either empirical science and hangs ups on iductive data, or deudtive reasoing and hang ups on the a prori. When I say "allow the sense data to determine the categories," what do I mean? (this is very crucial to understanding every point I make on message boards):

What that means is, you have a bit of qualia, an impression of the say sense data strikes us,the way something appears to us. Let's say the desk my computer sits upon. Our tendency is to tuck it away into a neat category based upon our preconcieved notions of desks. This is a bit of wodden furniture, it's funciton is proving a surface for writting and bit of storage for what we write. We plug in the label "made in Hong Kong" and we say "it's a cheap desk." Now we have a sub category. all that is pre set in our minds based upon our understanding of the universe vis a vie writting surfaces. But if we appraoch the desk phenomenologically, we don't say "o a cheap peice of furniture for holding my computer--manufactured in formerly British colony, the home of Jackie Chan, thus a Kung fu capitalist cheap desk. but we just say "there is this object that appears in my sense data, and it seems to provide uses x,y,z. So it may not be a desk at all in terms of its functionality, perhaps it would work better as a door stop. Or perhaps this door put across two saw horses would make a better desk. That's not part of my preconcieved notion because it's not made to be a desk, but it might work better."


Ok that's a trivial example, so much for my understanding of desks and their place in the univrese. But, when we consider other thins, things of more gravity such as empirical science and reilgion, or religious belief and expeirnce, the nautre of myth and religious texts, you can see how the outcome might might be a lot more significant if we do it one way as oppossed to another.

The way the atheists want to to it is to demand certian things, and those things require sense data and that sense data is preconcieved to belong in certain categories and to rule out other sense data. Thus they wind up asking for probability of miracles when in fact by defition a miracle cannot be probable. So they rule out any kind of miracle based upon the pre convieved category of "things that do no happen because we don't observe them so they are too impoprobable." Whereas in reality, since miracles are things taht are impossible, but happen anyway because some higher law overrides that of probablity, they are just arbitrarly crossing out the category of the possible and arbitraily arranging their understanding of the universe to exclude the SN, then demanding that, well there's no evidence for it (because we have filed all the evidence under the preconvcieved category of "that which does not happen.").


Religion not Reduceable to Knowledge


Frederick Schleiermacher, (1768-1834) in On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Dispisers, and The Chrisitian Faith (Glogenschleurer) (I know my German spell has to worse than my English spelling),sets forth the view that religion is not reduceable to kowledge or ethical systems. It is primarily a phenomenoloigcal apprehension of God consciusness through means of religious affections. Affections is a term not used much anymore, and it is easily confussed with mere emotion. Sometimes Schleiermacher is udnerstood as saying that "I become emotional when I pay and thus there must be an object of my emotional feelings." Though he does vinture close to this position in one form of the arugment, this is not exactly what he's saying.

In the earlier form of his argument he was saying that affections were indicative of a sense of God, but in the Christian Faith he argues that there is a greater sense of unity in the life world and a snese of the dependance of all things in the life world upon something higher.

What is this feeling of utter depenedence? It is the sense of the unity in the life world and it's greater reliance upon a higher reality. It is not to be confussed with the stary sky at night in the desert feeling, but is akin to it. I like to think about the feeling of being in my backyard late on a summer night, listening to the sounds of the freeway dying out andrealizing a certain harmony in the lfie world and the sense that all of this exists because it stemms form a higher thing. There is more to it than thatbut I don't have time to go into it. That's just a short hand for those of us to whom this is a new concept to get some sort of handle on it. Nor does"feeling" here mean "emotion" but it is connected to the religiousaffections. In the early version S. thought it was a corrolate between thereligious affections and God; God must be there because I can feel love for him when I pray to him. But that's not what it's saying in the better version.




The basic assumptions Schleiermacher is making are Plaontic. He believes that the feeling of utter dependence is the backdrop, the pre-given, pre-cognative notion behind the ontological argument. IN other words, what Anselm tried to capture in his logical argument is felt by everyone, if they were honest, in a pre-cognative way. In other words, before one thinks about it, it is this "feeling" of utter dependence. After one thinks it out and makes it into a logical arguemnt it is the ontological arguement.


Unity in the Life world.

"Life world," or Labeinswelt is a term used in German philosophy. It implies the world of one's culturally contructed life, the "world" we 'live in.' Life as we expeirence it on a daily basis. The unity one senses in the life world is intuative and unites the experiences and aspirations of the individual in a sense of integration and belonging in in the world. As Heidegger says "a being in the world." Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuative sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher relatiy, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuative sense of "radical constingency" (int he sense of the above ontolgoical arugments).

He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesnt' depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the pre-given pre-theorectical pre-cognative relaitzation of what Anslem sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Becasue in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.


All religions seek to do three things:


a) to identify the human problematic, b) to identify an ultimate transformative experience (UTE) which resolves the problematic, and c) to mediate between the two.

But not all religions are equal. All are relative to the truth but not all are equal. Some mediate the UTE better than others, or in a more accessible way than others. Given the foregoing, my criteria are that:

1) a religious tradition reflect a human problematic which is meaningful in terms of the what we find in the world.

2) the UTE be found to really resolve the problematic.

3) it mediates the UTE in such a way as to be effective and accessible. 4) its putative and crucial historical claims be historically probable given the ontological and epistemological assumptions that are required within the inner logic of that belief system.

5) it be consistent with itself and with the external world in a way that touches these factors.

These mean that I am not interested in piddling Biblical contradictions such as how many women went to the tomb, ect. but in terms of the major claims of the faith as they touch the human problematic and its resolution.


A religious tradition is like a language, and theology is a converation. Since God is mystyical reality, beyond words, to speak of our experiences of God one must encode those experinces into cutlural constructs, that makes for the differences in different religons. Traditions are like languages in that they furnish a vocabulary for dealing with such experinces based upon past experiences in an inter-subjective fashion. The point of the discussion is to mediate transformation. One moves into mediation through the conversation of theology. One is then able to come terms with mediation on a personal and experiential level as is still able to relate intersubjectively with others who have similar expeirnces.

The question then,is not which religion is "true," but which one best mediates transformation. For the individual who answers that question, and comes to identify with a tradition, that is the conversation to take up; join that traidion. For me its Christianity. As part of the conversation one can set up cirteria for understanding the conversation, criteria such as those listed above.

How Does the Bible fulfill these criteria? First, what is the Bible? Is it a rule book? Is it a manual of discipline? Is it a science textbook? A history book? No it is none of these. The Bible, the Canon, the NT in particular, is a means of bestowing Grace. What does that mean? It means first, it is not an epistemology! It is not a method of knowing how we know, nor is it a history book. It is a means of coming into contact with the UTE mentioned above. This means that the primary thing it has to do to demonstrate its veracity is not be accurate historically, although it is that in the main; but rather, its task is to connect one to the depository of truth in the teachings of Jesus such that one is made open to the ultimate transformative experience. Thus the main thing the Bible has to do to fulfill these criteria is to communicate this transformation. This can only be judged phenomenologically. It is not a matter of proving that the events are true, although there are ensconces where that becomes important.

Thus the main problem is not the existence of these piddling so-called contradictions (and my experience is 90% of them stem from not knowing how to read a text), but rather the extent to which the world and life stack up to the picture presented as a fallen world, engaged in the human problematic and transformed by the light of Christ. Now that means that the extent to which the problematic is adequately reflected, that being sin, separation from God, meaninglessness, the wages of sin, the dregs of life, and so forth, vs. the saving power of God's grace to transform life and change the direction in which one lives to face God and to hope and future. This is something that cannot be decided by the historical aspects or by any objective account. It is merely the individual's problem to understand and to experience. That is the nature of what religion does and the extent to which Christianity does it more accessibly and more efficaciously is the extent to which it should be seen as valid.

The efficacy is not an objective issue either, but the fact that only a couple of religions in the world share the concept of Grace should be a clue. No other religion (save Pure Land Buddhism) have this notion. For all the others there is a problem of one's own efforts. The Grace mediates and administrates through *****ures is experienced in the life of the believer, and can be found also in prayer, in the sacraments and so forth.

Where the historical questions should enter into it are where the mediation of the UTE hedges upon these historical aspects. Obviously the existence of Jesus of Nazareth would be one, his death on the cross another. The Resurrection of course, doctrinally is also crucial, but since that cannot be established in an empirical sense, seeing as no historical question can be, we must use historical probability. That is not blunted by the minor discrepancies in the number of women at the tomb or who got there first. That sort of thinking is to think in terms of a video documentary. We expect the NT to have the sort of accuracy we find in a court room because we are moderns and we watch too much television. The number of women and when they got to the tomb etc. does not have a bearing on whether the tomb actually existed, was guarded and was found empty. Nor does it really change the fact that people claimed to have seen Jesus after his death alive and well and ascending into heaven. We can view the different strands of NT witness as separate sources, since they were not written as one book, but by different authors at different times and brought together later.

The historicity of the NT is a logical assumption given the nature of the works. We can expect that the Gospels will be polemical. We do not need to assume, however, that they will be fabricated from whole cloth. They are the product of the communities that redacted them. That is viewed as a fatal weakness in fundamentalist circles, tantamount to saying that they are lies. But that is silly. In reality there is no particular reason why the community cannot be a witness. The differences in the accounts are produced by either the ordering of periscopes to underscore various theological points or the use of witnesses who fanned out through the various communities and whose individual view points make up the variety of the text. This is not to be confused with contradiction simply because it reflects differences in individual's view points and distracts us from the more important points of agreement; the tomb was empty, the Lord was seen risen, there were people who put there hands in his nail prints, etc.

The overall question about Biblical contradiction goes back to the basic nature of the text. What sort of text is it? Is it a Sunday school book? A science text book? A history book? And how does inspiration work? The question about the nature of inspiration is the most crucial. This is because the basic notion of the fundamentalists is that of verbal plenary inspiration. If we assume that this is the only sort of inspiration than we have a problem. One mistake and verbal plenary inspiration is out the window. The assumption that every verse is inspired and every word is true comes not from the Church fathers or from the Christian tradition. It actually starts with Humanists in the Renaissance and finds its final development in the 19th century with people like J. N. Drably and Warfield. (see, Avery Dulles Models of Revelation).

One of my major reasons for rejecting this model of revelation is because it is not true to the nature of transformation. Verbal plenary inspiration assumes that God uses authors like we use pencils or like businessmen use secretaries, to take dictation (that is). But why should we assume that this is the only form of inspiration? Only because we have been conditioned by American Christianity to assume that this must be the case. This comes from the Reformation's tendency to see the Bible as epistemology rather than as a means of bestowing grace (see William Abraham, Canon and Criterion). Why should be approach the text with this kind of baggage? We should approach it, not assuming that Moses et al. were fundamentalist preachers, but that they experienced God in their lives through the transformative power of the Spirit and that their writings and redactions are a reflection of this experience. That is more in keeping with the nature of religion as we find it around the world. That being the case, we should have no problem with finding that mythology of Babylonian and Suzerain cultures are used in Genesis, with the view toward standing them on their heads, or that some passages are idealized history that reflect a nationalistic agenda. But the experiences of God come through in the text in spite of these problems because the text itself, when viewed in dialectical relation between reader and text (Barth/Dulles) does bestow grace and does enable transformation.

After all the Biblical texts were not written as "The Bible" but were complied from a huge voluminous body of works which were accepted as "holy books" for quite some time before they were collected and put in a single list and even longer before they were printed as one book: the Bible. Therefore, that this book may contradict itself on some points is of no consequence. Rather than reflecting dictation, or literal writing as though the author was merely a pencil in the hands of God, what they really reflect is the record of people's experiences of God in their lives and the way in which those experiences suggested their choice of material/redaction. In short, inspiration of text is a product of the transformation afore mentioned. It is the verbalization of inner-experience which mediates grace, and in turn it mediates grace itself.

The Bible is not the Perfect Revelation of God to humanity. Jesus is that perfect revelation. The Gospels are merely the record of Jesus' teachings, deposited with the communities and encoded for safe keeping in the list chosen through Apostolic backing to assure Christian identity. For that matter the Bible as a whole is a reflection of the experience of transformation and as such, since it was the product of human agents we can expect it to have human flaws. The extent to which those flaws are negligible can be judge the ability of that deposit of truth to adequately promote transformation. Christ authorizes the Apostles, the Apostles authorize the community, the community authorizes the tradition, and the tradition authorizes the canon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Faith is not beliving things without proof

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Originally Posted by aussiedave View Post
Faith is a belief and does not require any intellectual basis. An "intellectual belief" is still a belief.
Neither have any facts to substantiate them.

One finds atheists saying things like this all the time. Atheists tend to define faith as "belief of soemthing without any evidence or a valid reason." for support they sometimes turn to Webster's on-line Dicitonary

Definition of FAITH

1
a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2
a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3
: something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs faith>


Of course it usually doesn't dawn on them that this is three different definitions and not a collective one. The third one can't be taken as indicative of all religious faith. There's another reason not to let them use Wesbter's, not at all. That's because it's only indicative of popular use and not theological teaching. Because they don't use a technological dictionary atheists make a straw man argument. They are not dealing with the way the teaching authority of Christian theology uses the term "faith." They are only reflecting the general conception, or misconception of faith, apart from Christian teaching. The whole idea of their argument is that Christian teaching accepts faith as belief with no evidence, when in reality there is no such dictum in any Christian teaching.

The theological authoritative dictionary for Christian Theology is called Westminster's Dictionary of Christian Theology (ed Alan Richardson and John Bowden SCM pres ltd 1983) (on Amazon). That is to the theology what the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary is to the English language. It's what Black's Law Dictionary is to the Lawyer. Really all Chrsitians should own a copy. There are two volumes one is about theologians the other about doctrines. I will concern myself today only with the latter.



The Westminster dictionary of Christian Theology
has a long article on faith starting on page 207. Believers often use the term faith as a short hand term for those living according to apostolic teaching (207). The Dictionary points out that the only actual Biblical definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11.1 (evidence of things not seen) and that it "does not encapsulate all that the Bible says on the subject."(ibid). Westminster translates Hebrews 11.1 as "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." This changes certain nuances but reinforces other. I have always liked to point that that faith is a kind of evidence in its own right. That's becuase something has to prompt faith. It's insane to assert that faith is ever held for no reaosn at all. Of cousre the atheist wants to assert that the reason is stupid but that's his burden of proof. What is the stimulus that prompts the response of faith?

Westminster's Dictionary understands faith in many contexts and constructs a complex picture of the term.Faith "...is an obedient confident trust in the reality love of God known through his acts, and awaiting their future consummation." (ibid). The dictionary brings out a variety of nuances from scripture. In OT faith is comparatively rare. When it is used it indicates faithfulness or loyalty rather than passive reliance. Yet dependence upon God and not human powers is important for Issiah (7:9, 30:15). Faith is concieved as Obedient action. (Dud 6:1) Faith as trust is also echoed in the psalms. In the NT belief and trust in Jesus' salvation is referred to as faith.(Mark 2:5, 5:34). Unbelief is hardness of heart, so the opposite of faith, unbelief, involves a refusal of the heart. Again making faith more a matter of some deep relationship than just a passive acceptance of an affirmation. (Mark 6:1).

There's no particular reason to understand this notion of faithfulness as bestowed for no reason. There is no statement about "faithfulness with no proof for no reason." Indeed the whole concept of faith in being about a condition of the heart is removed a step from this idea of accepting an intellectual proposition for no reason. In the Johonine epistles we see doctrinally oriented faith in a credal formula. In that community faith took on doctrinal proportions. Christ came in the flesh, Jesus is he son of God, (20:31, 1 J. 5:1). There is no indication that this is a matter of belief for no reason. NO reason is given but it's obvious the reason is bound up with the faith of the community as a community. One sees the community itself as the witness. The community as a whole testifies "we saw this, we heard this."

In Pauline Theology faith is utter reliance upon God's grace. The person of faith is the one who knows that grace cannot be obtained by works, that justification is only through union with Christ and reliance upon God's grace rather than works or by the law. Faith is not merely assent to an intellectual proposition but a relationship of trust culminating in the acceptance of God's Grace. Grace through faith means reliance upon God's ability to make us holy, nothing of our own effort.

The article points out several tensions that emerge from the centrality of faith to Christian doctrine. This is the kind of subtle theological idea that makes theology interesting and maddening to atheist who can't think subtly. Tension is mistaken for contradiction by skeptics but it's not contradiction. It's a good thing in theology to have tension. As one of my professors at Perkins (school of ethology SMU) put it "if you have no tension on your kite string your kite is not in the air."

One such tension is between weather faith is the response of trust in God or the acceptance of doctrinal propositions.The issues clearly transcend the notion of faith as rule keeping or merely an acceptance of intellectual propositions.

The article winds up with a discussion of Kierkegaard's notion of the leap of faith. This mind tend to make one think that faith means the irrational acceptance of of a proposition with no evidence.SK says faith is irrational and that it's achieved by an irrational leap. Yet one must note that the leap itself is an epistemological ploy, it's an attempt to get over the final chasm which can't be bridged by evidence or logic. The road up to the final gap can be paved with argument and reason. One can make a find philosophical diving board to prepare for the leap. The point at which one makes the leap can be narrowed. The leap is always there. Even in the world view there are epistemic blind alleys from which there are no returns. So in the final analysis there is no basis to the atheist straw man definition of faith as "believing things without evidence."

Friday, December 09, 2011

I am sick

sorry I missed posting this week. I was too sick. I am still under the weather although better. I have cold. Should be back on Monday.

feel free to talk among yourselves.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The King's new Clothes, he's not nake he's just into the lack of clothes

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Atheists want to use the story of the Emperor's new Clothes to say that theologians are such ideas they have nothing there but convince everyone that they do. If theolgoians are like he king parading around in invisible clothes, meaning he's really just naked and no one has the tuts to say it, the atheists are like the guys selling him the clothes. They have a movement based upon neither believing nor kn0wing anything. They turn the lack of understanding into a positive by calling it "the lack of a belief." That's what they really sell, the lack of a belief; which amounts to nothing. The try to pawn that off as wisdom and smarts and acuity and so so forth. In reality they merely anti-intellectual which is proved by their mockery of intellectual theology which they refuse to learn bout but still claim to understand.

Atheists are always coming up with little gimmicks. Anytime you trump them with real knowledge they get up set and find a gimmick. The Jesus myth theory was such a gimmick. Jesus was such a compelling figure and there is some decent evidence he rose from the dead, so to counter that they just pretend he never existed, and give it a little name and make up some pseudo intelligent sounding crap pertaining to it. The "default" and the "extraordinary evidence credo" these are all gimmicks atheists made up and they are passed off as pseudo official sounding quasi logical tactics that in actuality mean nothing.



The latest is the Courtier's reply. This is it:




I recently referred to the "Courtier's Reply", a term invented by PZ Myers to rebut the claims of believers who insist that their superstitious beliefs are ever so much more sophisticated than the simple version that Dawkins attacks.


PZ's response deserves much more publicity because it goes to the heart of the debate between rationalism and supersition. I'm going to post his original Courtier's Reply below (without permission, but I'm sure he'll understand) but before doing so I need to remind everyone about the original fairy tale [The Emperor's New Clothes].
This is a statement by a reductionist scientism king Larry Moran is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. He's on a blog called Sand Walk.

So what this couriter's reply is saying is that if the sketpic says stupid things about theology and demonstrates that he knows nothin gabout it and the theist says "O your criticism is invalid because you don't understand what you are criticizing" then al lthe atheist has to do is say "that's the courtiers reply" and the theist is supposed to go "O my God, I've violated a law of logic!" and give up and stop believing in God. But in realty it's nto a log of logic, I never heard it in a logic class.It's not in a lgoic text book, and the menaing of it is silly. I'ts just saying 'You can't point out my ignorance of theology because I will not allow theology to have any kind of validity or importance and religous people may not not any sort of human dignity." That's all it's saying. It's nothing more than anti-intellectual stupidity.


Here is Myers statement about it:


The Courtier's Reply
by PZ Myers



I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.


Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.


Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.


Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor's taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.



In other words, knowledge of theological subjects is just plain bull shit and it doesn't matter if Dawkins doesn't understand it because it's not worth understanding. So it's not valid criticism of him to say that. Except the problem is, if he understood theology he would see that his criticisms are wrong. The criticisms he makes are almost always about fundamentalists views. Since he refuses to accept that there are other non fundamentalist types of theology, when you point it out he just says O that's ridiculous because all theology is crap so it doesn't matter--but if he knew that he might not make the criticisms becasue they don't apply. But it's not worthing knowing that. he's just reasoning in a cirlce.

Here's his logic:

Him: religion is evil superstiion because fundies believe X

Liberal: we don't beileve x

him: that doesn't matter becasue religion is all crap no matter what. so even if you don't believe the thing I say is crap you still your own crap that must be stupid because you are religious. I know it's stupid because religion is stupid. Of course that's based on the stuff that you don't believe but that doesn't matter.

Narrow minded anti-intellectual brinkman ship in a most unsophisticated manner.

A very emotionally immature atheist tried this on me recently. Here's how it went.

Brent: All religious people believe in big man in the sky.

Me: process theology doesn't believe in big man in the sky

Brent: that's nonsesne all religous people do so they mustt.

Me; you clearly don't know enoguh about theology to say that

Brent: Courteiers reply! Courtiers' replay!

Like some magic king'x X that's suppossed to mean something. Clearly it's stupid because they are only trying to dodge the fact that their criticisms are based upon things they don't understand and that don't apply. Its' an attempt to hide their ignorance. They are committing an informal fallacy with the use of this gimmick. It's called "ipsie dixit." It means "truth by stipulation." They are saying in effect "I simply stipulate that I will not allow you to have knowledge. AT this point on your knowledge is now void becasue I declare to be so, since it's religion and religion is stupid."

Again their reasoning is quite circular since the reasons they would give for reducing religion to superstition don't' apply to modern sophisticated theology, but the fact that it can be labeled "theology" and they don't even know what that means, they stipulate that it must be stupid. So even though their reasons don't apply they just demand that they must do so any way.

Again they are merely stipulating truth and insisting they are right without any just reasons. It's idiotic to try and criticize a whole field you know nothing about. To make up for appalling ignorance they imply a third rate gimmick that is actually made up of two informal fallacies: ipsie dixit and circular reasoning.