Friday, December 21, 2012

Hark the Herald


Merry Christmas

I am taking a break. Back after New Years

This is my favorite Christmas song. The Trintarian doctrine is so well expressed this song could be used as a Creed. Charles Wesley's greatest work!

hear the music

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas and The Crucified God


This is my annual Christmas article. I will post on Friday but not Monday. I'll probably take off next Wednesday too. So I wish every a Mary Christmas!

The Christian part of Christmas, that's the nativity scene with no trees or elves. That's the part you go to chruch to talk about. Show some mangers and some wise men and play the drummer boy song (eeeeee can't stand that son, p-rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum...enough already!) and you've done your bit for Christmas. I actually love Christmas, I like the manger and the baby and all that. Yet that is not what it's about. The entrance of Christ into the world in a lowly birth, worshiped by wise mean and heralded by angles and a star, those are nice folk tale elements. That masks what it's all about in guise of cute fluffy heart warming imagery. Christmas is about the birth of Christ, God come in the flesh, and that signals to us the death of Christ; its meaning, it's end, it's un-final end and new beginner. The birth heralds more of the positive side of Jesus time in the flesh, his career, his mission, the promise and the possibilities. After all they angels said "peace on earth, good will toward men." How does that connect to a kid born in a manger?
,,,,,,,Even with the positive possibilities of peace the birth hearlds the death and since we are compelled to think of both they both remind us of the meaning of Christ's mission and the reason for his coming. I used to read a book every Christmas, the same book. It was one of my all time favorite books; The Crucified God, by Jurgen Moltmann. The subtitle is very important: The Cross of Christ as the foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. That book seemed to most adequately sum up what the incarnation is about. I haven't read it in many years, lost in the moving, the many moves I've had to make.
.......Motlmann was from the 60's to the 90's and maybe even up to the present was the greatest living Protestant theologian. He was best known for this book and his Theology of Hope. both of which served to dramatize and legitimize the theology of liberation and the struggles of Latin America. Moltmann's book is actually an argument for placing Paxis on the front burner of theology and leaving the dray musty doctrinal stuff on the back burner. Praxis is the idea of reflection upon material need, how to apply the lessons of theology in a practical way to people's needs.
.......To get to the core of the book and it's relation to Christmas, the argument goes like this: So what if Jesus was crucified? what's the big deal? There are much worse ways to suffer. Crucifixion is bad but it is far from the worst thing that can happen to you. So why was it a sacrifice, I mean after all he is God, what would it matter to him if he dies? And he got to come back."
.......First, most Christians try to answer this out of a need for piety. They do not give a theological answer, they give a pious one. The pious answer can't be undestood by modern people, they lack pious feelings, so it just makes it worse. The pious answer of course is to try and mount up the pain and make it seem so very much worse. O. Jesus suffered in hell and he suffers every minute and he's still suffering and he felt all the agony in the world. Of course it doesn't' really say that anywhere in the Bible. While I think this is true, and while my pious side feels the proper sense of devotion and gratitude to our savior for his work, we can't use this to answer the question because modern impiety can't understand the answer. They just hear us reiterating their hidden primes.
.......The other Christian answers are Propitiatory atonement, Substitutionary, or Moral government. These are the tree major ways of looking at the atonement. Propitiation means to turn away anger. This answer is also incomprehensible to moderns. God is so very angry with us that he can't stand the sight of us, he has to stick Jesus between himself and us so he will see Jesus and turn away his anger. This just makes God seem like a red faced historical parent who couldn't comprehend the consequences of his creation when he decided to make it. Substitutionary atonement says that Jesus took our place, he received the penalty our sins deserved. This comes in two verities. One is financial transaction, Jesus paid the debt. the other is closer to moral government, Jesus was executed because he stepped in and took the place of the guilty party. Both of these are also problematic, because they really allow the guilty to get off Scott free and persecute an innocent person. Again modern people can't understand this kind of thinking; you could not go down to the jail and talk them into letting you take another prisoners place. We can harp on how this is a grace so fine we can't undersigned it in the natural mind, and relapse into piety again singing the praises to God for doing this wonderful act, but it wont answer the atheists questions.
.......I realize that the view I hold to is a little known minority view. I know I'm bucking the mainstream. But I think it makes a lot more sense and  actually explains why there was an atonement. Before getting into it, however, I want to comment upon the atheist hidden premise. The explicit premise of the atheist argument is that atonement works by Jesus suffering a whole lot. If Jesus suffers enough then restitution is made. But wait, restitution for what? For our sins? Then why should Jesus suffer more than we do or more than our victims do? Why do atheists seem to think,  that Jesus must suffer more than anyone ever has for the atonement to work? It's because the hidden premise is that God is guilty and the atonement is the time God pays for his own mistakes. Jesus has to suffer more than anyone to make up for what God has done, inconveniencing us by creating us. The sickness of the modern mind can scarcely comprehend Christian theology now. I wonder if it isn't too late and we are just past the day when people in the West can really be saved?
.......I mean consider the idea that usually acompanies this argument: well he is God after all, a little torutre death cant' hurt him. In the old days, when we had a culture that ran on Christian memories, people said how great that God would do this for us when he didn't have to! Now the argument is "Of course he had to, it's the least he can do, after all I didn't asked to be born, so I'm entitled to whatever goodies can get in compensation." That's why I think the hidden premise is to blame God; its as though they are saying God has to suffer more than anyone to make up for the suffering he caused as creator. This sort of attitude marks the disease of the modern mind.

In any case, my view is the Participatory atonement. It was embraced by several church fathers and modern theologians supporting it are mentioned below:

I.The Atonement: God's Solidarity With Humanity.

........A. The inadquacy of Financial Transactions

Many ministers, and therefore, many Christians speak of and think of Jesus' death on the cross as analogous to a financial transaction. Usually this idea goes something like this: we are in hock to the devil because we sinned. God pays the debt we owe by sending Jesus to die for us, and that pays off the devil. The problem with this view is the Bible never says we owe the devil anything. We owe God. The financial transaction model is inadequate. Matters of the soul are much more important than any monetary arrangement and business transactions and banking do not do justice to the import of the issue. Moreover, there is a more sophisticated model; that of the sacrament for sin. In this model Jesus is like a sacrificial lamb who is murdered in our place. This model is also inadequate because it is based on a primitive notion of sacrifice. The one making the sacrifice pays over something valuable to him to appease an angry God. In this case God is paying himself. This view is also called the "propitiation view" becuase it is based upon propitiation, which means to turn away wrath. The more meaningful notion is that of Solidarity. The Solidarity or "participatory" view says that Jesus entered human history to participate in our lot as finiate humans, and he dide as a means of identifying with us. We are under the law of sin and death, we are under curse of the law (we sin, we die, we are not capable in our own human strength of being good enough to merit salvation). IN taking on the penalty of sin (while remaining sinless) Jesus died in our stead; not in the manner of a premature animal sacrafice (that is just a metaphor) but as one of us, so that through identification with us, we might identify with him and therefore, partake of his newness of life.

.......B. Christ the Perfect Revelation of God to Humanity

In the book of Hebrews it says "in former times God spoke in many and various ways through the prophets, but in these latter times he has spoken more perfectly through his son." Jesus is the perfect revelation of God to humanity. The prophets were speaking for God, but their words were limited in how much they could tell us about God. Jesus was God in the flesh and as such, we can see clearly by his character, his actions, and his teachings what God wants of us and how much God cares about us. God is for humanity, God is on our side! The greatest sign of God's support of our cause as needy humans is Jesus death on the cross, a death in solidarity with us as victims of our own sinful hearts and societies. Thus we can see the lengths God is will to go to to point us toward himself. There are many verses in the Bible that seem to contradict this view. These are the verses which seem to say that Atonement is propitiatory.

.......C. Death in Solidarity with Victims..............1) Support from Modern Theologians

.......Three Major Modern Theologians support the solidarity notion of atonement: Jurgen Moltmann (The Crucified God), Matthew L. Lamb (Solidarity With Victims), and D.E.H. Whiteley (The Theology of St. Paul).In the 1980s Moltmann (German Calvinist) was called the greatest living protestant theologian, and made his name in laying the groundwork for what became liberation theology. Lamb (Catholic Priest) was big name in political theology, and Whiteley (scholar at Oxford) was a major Pauline scholar in the 1960s.In his work The Crucified God Moltmann interprits the cry of Jesus on the cross, "my God my God why have you forsaken me" as a statement of solidarity, placing him in identification with all who feel abandoned by God.Whiteley: "If St. Paul can be said to hold a theory of the modus operandi [of the atonement] it is best described as one of salvation through participation [the 'solidarity' view]: Christ shared all of our experience, sin alone excepted, including death in order that we, by virtue of our solidarity with him, might share his life...Paul does not hold a theory of substitution..." (The Theology of St. Paul, 130)An example of one of the great classical theologians of the early chruch who held to a similar view is St. Irenaeus (according to Whiteley, 133).

..............2) Scrtiptural

...all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were Baptized into his death.? We were therefore burried 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 certanly 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)

.......In Short, if we have united ourselves to Christ, entered his death and been raised to life, we participate in his death and resurrection through our act of solidarity, united with Christ in his death, than it stands tto reason that his death is an act of solidarity with us, that he expresses his solidarity with humanity in his death.
.......This is why Jesus cries out on the cross "why have you forsaken me?" According to Moltmann this is an expression of Solidarity with all who feel abandoned by God.Jesus death in solidarity creates the grounds for forgiveness, since it is through his death that we express our solidarity, and through that, share in his life in union with Christ. Many verses seem to suggest a propitiatory view. But these are actually speaking of the affects of the solidarity. "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if when we were considered God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! What appears to be saying that the shedding of blood is what creates forgiveness is actually saying that the death in solidarity creates the grounds for reconciliation. IT says we were enemies then we were reconciled to him through the death, his expression of solidarity changes the ground, when we express our solidarity and enter into the death we are giving up to God, we move from enemy to friend, and in that sense the shedding of blood, the death in solidarity, creates the conditions through which we can be and are forgiven. He goes on to talk about sharing in his life, which is participation, solidarity, unity.

.......D. Meaning of Solidarity and Salvation.

.......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 victims 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 ourselves 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 escort 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).

.......E. Atonement is a Primitive Concept?

.......This charge is made quite often by internet-skeptics, especially Jewish anti-missionaries who confuse the concept with the notion of Human sacrifice. But the charge rests on the idea that sacrifice itself is a prematurity notion. If one commits a crime, someone else should not pay for it. This attack can be put forward in many forms but the basic notion revolves around the idea that one person dying for the sins of another, taking the penalty or sacrificing to remove the guilt of another is a premature concept. None of this applies with the Participatory view of the atonement (solidarity) since the workings of Christ's death, the manner in which it secures salvation, is neither through turning away of wrath nor taking upon himself others sins, but the creation of the grounds through which one declares one's own solidarity with God and the grounds through which God accepts that solidarity and extends his own; the identification of God himself with the needs and cry of his own creation.

The Blogging Parson
Moltmann's theodicy is the great strength of this work, in that it directly engages the protest atheism of the mid twentieth century without negating the powerful emotional impact of its claims. We are returned to the cross as the heart of the Christian message repeatedly - it is no accident that Luther features so strongly and so positively in these pages. Further, the rigour of his penetrating search for the implications of the cross for God himself has led him rightly to the trinity, and stands as a rebuke to the western tradition for neglecting this understanding of God for so long. The atonement is necessarily a trinitarian event/process. The sense of God identifying with human beings in Christ is also very strong. Moltmann develops a theology of the atonement with a cosmic scope, and does not fall into the trap of individualising the work of the cross.

Moltmann's work turns out to develop a "Trinitarian history of God." This works through a dialectic through which God rejects the Son, then accepts the son, then raises the son to a hope and a future in which we can participate. This also raises a dialectical relation between God and man because the son becomes part of humanity then humanity becomes part of the son through adoption to sonship and participation in the future. Christ particpates in our life and We in his. That's quite a philosophical turn on for a German.

Blogging Parson again:
We might complain that Moltmann's doctrine of God suffers from an overdose of Hegelianism, by presenting the history of the world as God's history, the process by which he realizes himself. By rejecting impassiblity and divine aseity, does he allow a compromise of God's freedom? This having been said, is God still as impersonal as he ever was under the scholastics? Further, the God presented here seems almost dependent on, or at least intrinsically tied to, the world. His is a vulnerable God. Moltmann's trinitarian reflection leaves him open to the charge of tritheism - however, he more than responds to such a charge in The Trinity and the Kingdom of God; and he is recapturing a biblical emphasis, after all.
While the cosmic vision of Moltmann's theologia crucis is admirable, it says almost nothing about individual salvation - in fact, it almost non-soteriological. He describes God's judgement in the terms of the "giving up" of human beings to their godlessness, as in Rom 1 (p.242). The atonement is achieved not by any substitutionary work of Christ but by his identifying with human beings in their lostness, by solidarity with them. In the end, his panentheism leads him to a universalist model; and the preaching of the cross becomes a following of God's example in identifying with the lost and godforsaken.
This last criticism I think is valid on the surface. Mostlamann doesn't spend a lot of time focusing on individual piety I think the implications for the individual are obvious and it's up to the individual to step into a relationship with God. For me I find Chrsitman can be a great way to do what but only if you overlook the commercial crap and read a book like the Crucified God..

Online copy of Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why Does God Allow It?


......After the recent tragedy I was, like everyone, moved to tears and sick of hearing about it, sick of being outraged.  I think everyone is asking "why does God allow this." I realize that answers are not satisfying in the sense that they don't stop the tragedy. I still insight that the best time to think about such things and to ask "why does God allow this" is not right after the tragedy sticks but when one is safe and happy and there's no tragedy on the horizon. That way we can think in a raitonal and detached manner about it.
.....During the tragedy when we are grieving and outraged, this school shooting was a total outrage, is not the time to ask the question and expect an intellectual answer. During such a time we have to blame God becuase we have to blame reality. Reality is what it is and we can't change it. When those things strike that we can't stand all we can do is blame the basis of reality for ordering things in such a manner. This answer is basically not for now but it may make more sense latter.
.....The basic question why doesn't  God intervene to stop such things? That's something we can't know. We can say some things are so bad God should just stop them regardless of why he doesn't stop other things. Surely gunning down a first grade class counts as one of those things that must be stopped, yet it wasn't stopped. We can't know the perimeters for God's intervention. We faith is part of it but surely those children had faith, the faith of children. Yet we can theorize as to why God doesn't intervene. We may not undrstand why he does at times and not most of the time, but we can theorize about why he does not as a general rule. That's because if he did there intervene every time there would be no need to search for truth.
.....To set the stage, my take on the whole question of theodicy is the free will defense, but I have augmented that with my view about the need for internalizing the values of the good, to me this is the bottom line. It goes like this: God wants us to have free will so we will have a moral universe. Moral universe doesn't necessarily mean one in which nothing immoral ever happens, but one in which free moral agents willing choose the good. Now that is important because without that you don't really have a moral universe, you have to allow free will, meaning allow the risk of evil choices, in order to have a moral universe. So ironically to have a moral universe you have to risk a screwed up universe in which immoral things happen. This is because "moral universe" means " universe where moral decision making is part of the deal.
,,,,,,The reason it's important to allow moral decision making is because it's part of growth. God could make a world of robots who never disobey but that would not be a moral universe, because they would not be free moral agents, there would be no moral decision making. Through moral decisions we internalize the values of the good. To make moral decisions we must seek truth and answers to major questions all of which requires more internalizing of values. So the real bottom line of what God seems to want in creation is a universe in which free moral agents grow in their heart's choices of good over evil and in which they come to be wise, progressive, adult, mature citizens of the kingdom. The price God pays for that is the world has to be screwed up:

(1) The possibility of evil choices must be constant

(2) God can't end all threats of pain and suffering all the time or there would be no search. No search for what one already knows. If every time we almost hurt ourselves some magic force prevented it we would not to search for truth because we would know obviously what the truth is; vis God's existence at any rate. We would figure it all out.

(3) Pain and suffering must exist in such a world Because for God to act to stop them all the time would be a dead give away.

(4) It's no good saying but God could lessen the degree because perhaps he has. We don't have a really horrible planet to compare it to so we don't know what we've been spared.

The Typical Atheist answer to all of this is to multiply examples. They seem to think if they find the most heart rending ironic seeming form of pain then they have proved that God can't really be good. But that doesn't work because it doesn't answer the exact point about internalizing and the need for search. With that understood the point of allowing a world of suffering is always outweighed by negation of the greater harm of being robots. The problem of not having free will would always be a greater evil and you can't multiple enough examples to stack up to outweighing that.

There are a couple of other points to be made:

I1) Only God can calculate the pay off.

There are too many variables and we don't have the complexity (much less the location outside time) to understand the future and what the facts that must be weighed really are. Only God could figure out if loss of free will would outweigh the evils.

(2) We can trust God to make the best decision

We have no choice for one thing, but for another, God is proved worthy of out trust in the atonement and the things he's done in our lives (for those who are willing to corporate long enough to build trust). So we can trust that God is the only true and fair judge who could weight the balance sheet between harms and goods and choose if creation is worth it.

(3) Counter balancing pleasures.

You have the problem of pain you also have the problem of pleasure. Why are we able to indulge in a seemingly unlimited capacity for small and simple pleasures? We we can appreciate them seeming to a greater extent than other animals. we can philosophize about them and develop them, we can even enjoy their deprivation or delayed gratification. There are a veritable unlimited range of good things in life. This is not a night mare planet. Yet nightmarish things happen, but so do you wonderful things. Only God can judge the balance sheet.

......Of cousre none of this is satisfying right now. I'm as clueless as anyone.

Friday, December 14, 2012

On poverty and being poor, what does the bible say?



this I cam across this gem of a peice by accident the other day. This is form one of the longest running blogs on the net, WHATEVER, going since 1998. Scalzi is a professional writer.  Because he is a professional writer he knows poverty first hand. If he doesn't then I can can tell you from my own first hand that he guessed right. I couldn't find a way to contact him so you will hve to link to his site to read the whole thing. there are a lot of comments that are wroth reading too. Please go there and read it. its' good. 

Being Poor

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Possilbe World Arguments Agaisnt the Existence of God


........I will not attempt to evaluate all that is goign on in modal logic these days vis a vi "possible worlds." It's a vast field and it's becoming a booming industry for philosophy majors. I will argue that for those who advocate a Tillich-Balthasar from of theology--God as being itself, super essential Godhead--there can be no possible worlds without God.  The point of possible worlds was initially to illustrate the notions of necessity and contingency. the concept of the possible world was used as far back as Libenitz (1646-1716) but their major use now seems to be in connection with necessity and contingency in modal logic.

The first is an Aristotelian approach that says a non-actual event is possible is to say that some actual substances could have initiated a causal chain that could lead up to the event in question.  However, it can be shown that some plausible global possibility claims can be made true on this account only if there is a necessarily existent first cause (or aggregate of first causes) capable of initiating very different universes.  On the other hand, Leibniz made possible worlds be ideas in the mind of an omniscient necessarily existent deity.  Leibniz fails to explain what it is that makes these possible worlds possible, but if we were willing to combine his story with the conclusion drawn from the Aristotelian one, we could get the following story: Possible worlds are ideas in the mind of an omniscient deity and what makes them possible is that this deity has the Aristotelian capability of initiating causal chains that can lead to them being actualized.[1]

.......I am only interested in them in so far as they are used by atheists to argue against the existence of God. The main way this works is to find some bogus reason to stipulate that God could not exist in such and such a world if certain conditions prevailed. Then they assert that if this is the case in a possible world than it must be the case in our world, because God would have to be in all possible worlds. If there is a possible world where there would be no God then there can't be one here. They can't assert that just imagining a world with no God proves no God in this world. Such an approach is merely cheating becuase it just begs the question outright. Yet I have seen many of them take this approach. One of the major things they do is to  assert based upon their unbelief in this world that they can imagine a possible world with no God. So since they can do that that must be a possible world, since they can imagine it being possible. That's clearly begging the question since they are just asserting that this really a world with no God. It's not good just saying "I can imagine such a world" that does not make it such a world. The point of the exorcize is to illustrate necessity and contingency not to dictate reality by imagination.
 ......Here is an argument by Darth Pringle (on CARM) that I think illustrates perfectly the problem with these atheist arguments, (yes he manged to be wrong perfectly).

P1. If something is God then its non-existence entails a contradiction.
P2. The non-existence of a first cause of this universe does not entail a contradiction.
C. Therefore, a first cause of this universe isn't God.
Yes it does actually, that is the non-existence of a first cause does entail a contradiction. The problem is he's confusing his assertions about the nature of the world with a possible world. He asserts that because he can imagine the world with no first cause then it doesn't need one. If a first cause exists then by definition it is necessary that it exists becuase the whole concept of a first cause is a necessity upon which the existence of the universe id penned. Notice that he's just trying to make God contingent upon the universe. God's existence being determined by  its relation to the universe. This comes out even more so in the support he offers for the premise:

P1. If the non-existence of something is logically possible then it could have not existed at some point in the past and it could fail to exist at some point in the future. Because an eternal being cannot have failed to have existed at any point in the past and could not fail to exist at any point in the future by definition, it's existence (if it exists) must be logically necessary, otherwise it is logically impossible.
P2. The non-existence of this universe does not entail a contradiction. If this universe didn't exist then a first cause of this universe wouldn't exist obviously. Consequently, that something is the first cause of this universe is logically contingent upon the existence of this universe (even if the universe is ontologically contingent upon its cause). If we use possible world semantics to make this point we can say that there is a possible world in which this universe doesn't exist and so there is a possible world in which a first cause of this universe does not exist (even if this universe needs one). This makes the non-existence of a first cause of this universe logically possible (even if one exists or existed).
C. Follows validly from P1 & P2 if they are both true via modus tollens.[2]
P2 is definitely trying to make God contingent upon the universe. I've argued this before on CARM but I think it eludes their understanding: the existence of creation is necessary for God to hold the title "creator." So in that sense God's status as creator is contingent upon the world. That is not the same as saying that the divine essence is contingent upon the world. The title of God as creator is just the way we think about God it has nothing to do with weather or not there actually is a reality to God.
......Now observe the rule of possible worlds in this argument. There is a possible world in which the cause of the universe does not exist. That's the same thing as saying there's a possible world in which the essence that created the world doesn't exist. It's only saying there is a world in which there in no first cause because there's no world there to create. That doesn't mean the thing that created it is not there. so that can't be an argument against the existence of God. The only thing is could possibly prove is that there is a circumstance under which God could exist without being the creator, that is there was no creation. If first causes exist at all they are necessary to existence of contingencies, so the only case in which there would be no first cause is if there is no world to cause. That does not rule out  God.
.......Edward Feser has a couple of helpful observations: It's common among people doing modal logic or using possible worlds argument about God to try and dictate the existence of God based upon the essence of thing as ascertain by the properties existent in a possible world.
A common procedure is to characterize the essence of a thing as the set of properties it has in every possible world, a necessary truth as one that is true in every possible world, and so forth. For A-T, this gets things backwards. It is the essence of a thing that determines what will be true of it in every possible world, not what is true of it in every world that determines its essence. In general, it is incoherent to define modal notions like necessity and possibility in terms of possible worlds, since the notion of a “possible” world itself presupposes modality.[3]
Properties do not determine essence, and they may vary from world to world without determining the existence or being of an essence. Feser points out the misleading nature of possible world arguments:

It is also often said that for God to be a necessary being is for Him to exist in every possible world. This too is at least very misleading. It leaves the impression that there are these things called “possible worlds” that have some kind of reality apart from God, and it turns out – what do you know! – that God happens to exist in every one of them, right alongside numbers, universals, and other necessarily existing abstract objects. To be sure, since possible worlds other than the actual one are themselves mere abstractions (unless you are David Lewis), they would not exist as concrete entities that God has not created. But the “possible worlds” account of God’s necessity nevertheless insinuates that that necessity is grounded in something other than God Himself – that what is possible or necessary in general is to be determined independently of God, with God’s own necessity in turn defined by reference to these independent criteria. For A-T, this is completely muddled. The reason God is necessary is that He is Pure Act or Subsistent Being Itself, not because He “exists in every possible world.” And since God just is Being Itself – rather than “a being” among other beings, existing in one possible world or in all – all possibilities and necessities whatsoever are themselves grounded in the divine nature, rather than in anything in any way independent of God.
They leave the impression that possible worlds are competing for existence and that God is deepnednet upon them. It creates the impression that possible worlds are possible apart fom God.
......This the raises what I think is the background misconception that all such atheist arguments make, that because they assume they are observing a possible world in which there is no God when they observe this one (which is also an actual world) then it is the case that there must be other possible worlds with no God. They are just borrowing doubt from this world to construct an argument which is question begging.  Another problem is the seem to think that possible worlds are any world they can imagine. So if they imagine a world with square circles that's a  possible world even though they don't actually imagine the square circles per se. But possible have to be logically possible. That's the whole point of calling it "possible" in the first place, it has to actually be possible. So if the God argument they seek to answer is the idea that God is not separable from being, since God is being itself, they can't claim a possible world in which there is being itself merely becuase they imagine they can do without the idea.
......I argue that since being has to be and God is being itself, all being is indicative of God. If a possible world contains any sort of being, even if it's just one subatomic particle there's a reason to assume God. This is so because being itself is the basis of what being is apart from any particular given instance of it. We can't assert contingencies without necessities and we can't assert a universe without a first cause if there is a first cause at all. We can't assert being without a ground of being since the beings are just contingencies that are hung upon eternal necessary being.


 [1] Alexander Robert Pruss, POSSIBLE WORLDS:WHAT THEY ARE GOOD FOR AND WHAT THEY ARE Ph.D. dissertation online copy URL:
[2] Darth Pringle on carm

[3] Edward Feser, "God and Possible Worlds," Edward Feser (a blog) url:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Like the Old days Posativism Reveals Itself as a Force Behind Atheism

 A.J. Ayer

I haven't seen positivism rear it's head (ugly? depends) in decades. I've seen one on the net argue directly for being a positivist or put it forth as a guide to be met like a set of criteria. While it's influences are still everywhere, especially in the scientism that motivates most atheist thinking, few actually fly the banner of positivism directly. Positivism is a school of philosophy that became famous in the early 20th century, it dominates from the 30s to the 60s. It's major proponent was A.J. Ayer.(1910-1989) Oxford professor, major work was Language, Truth, and Logic. (on line copy--see below).* It's basic tenets say that metaphysics and ontology and other aspects of philosophy are just the wild imaginations of people who don't have their sentences straight. Philosophy should pair itself down to just dealing with language and try to clear away the linguistic clutter for scinece to do it's thing. What they really meant by that was to challenge the meaning of all words that are not directly related to science. Of course this is a thumbnail sketch becuase positivism is extremely complex and developed into many schools. One major move that Ayer made was to set out to reduce knowledge to science the way atheists do, and in so doing developed "the strong sense" and the "weak sense" of verification (aka "the verification principle). The strong sense is voiced below in the quote by the atheist on carm, don't accept as knowledge anything that its verified by a prori reasonnig or empirical data.

 Positivism was my project, not to support, but to combat. I began starveling against it way back in 1974 when I first learned what it was. Back then we (my brother and best friend) saw it taking over and its tentacles reaching into everything. We were determined to fight it. Positivism was my first windmill. I understood it as the contrary to existentialism. I was an existentialist in my youth so of course I road out to slay the windmill. Mind you, I was not a Christian at that time. Even as an atheist I opposed positivism. My philosopher of atheism was Jean-Paul Sartre not A.J. Ayer.  Imagine my surprize when a llittle more than decade latter (74 to 88) I was a student at Perkins School of Theology and found a professor (William Abraham) who I really admired, who is dedicated to Christian belief and to personal faith in Jesus, who studied positivism at Oxford and called himself a positivist! The evil windmill turned out to be just a windmill and like any tool it can be used for many things. Abraham used it in the service of God, by compartmentalizing the functions and not taking the positivist disdain for metaphysics as absolute.

It's not for nothing that A.J. and his boys have been decapitated and kicked aside the world of philosophy. Perhaps he's made a come back since scientist has filled the vacuum left by postmodernism. We abaonend that furitless line of reasoning knows as "Postiviism" in the late 20th century and we did with good reason.


Michael Polanyi  is credited with slaying the positivist dragon by showing that positivism can't be substantiated by its own princples. Thus it has to be reduced to "the weak sense" which is nothing more than informing us of one's habits.proved positivism corrupts and destroys keyring, including liberal arts and including scinece. Here's a longer essay his place in the history of science and his ststruggle with positivism.

 Now I find it popping up in use by atheists on the net. I see by a quick Google search that it may be a coming fad for atheists to cling to it. Why not they have gone whole hog on scientism. Here's a quote for the post on carm.. This may seem kryptic but he's referring to al ist of criteria which I give and critique below:
 Readytofightforpeace said:

 I'm sad to say that not many theists can really come up with an argument that meets all those points to a tee (excluding the non-existence of god) this is just the sum answer of all the evidence. if there is a valid argument id be more than willing to dig deeper into the subject but its going to be hard. i hope one of u out there can do it.
This argument, in my view, can be understood as follows.


1. Knowledge must be either demonstratively certain or probable.
that was one of the major assertions disproved by Polanyi. this is nothing but reduction of knowledge to one ideologically sanctioned area becuase it can be ideologically controlled.

no knowledge need not be either of these things. It must be global. so all knowledge matters. Even trivial knowledge matters.


2. Only a priori tautologies are demonstratively certain.
that's a reductionist assertion that is BS and can't be demonstrated. it leas to a lot of fun things like trying to make positivists prove their BS by their own standards. so show me a tautology that proves this is the only certainty?
actually it's a manifestation of the strong sense of the verification principle.


3. Only empirical propositions which make verifiable predictions are probable.
show me some empirical evidence that proves this is the only valid way. You have to establish all of this with lgoic. let's see you prove it with data without logic.

Positivism can't be proved by it's own methods. There's no empirical data thta proves that empirical data is the only form of  knowledge and  (although he didn't put it in these terms Karl Popper proved this and I talk about it in my essay on Fortress of facts part 2).


4. Therefore, only a priori tautologies and empirical propositions which make verifiable predictions are knowledge.

this proves exactly what I've been saying bout how atheists are trying to reduce knowledge to jut ideologically sanctioned understanding of scinece. don't look now guys but is is ideology pure and simple. this is what ideology is at core.

this version of so called "knowledge" can't be mandated by the definitions of the term. I've demonstrated this before:

Webster's on line:

Definition of KNOWLEDGE

obsolete : cognizance
a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique
b (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2) : the range of one's information or understanding
c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning : cognition
d : the fact or condition of having information or of being learned
archaic : sexual intercourse
a : the sum of what is known : the body of truth, information, and principles acquired by humankind
b archaic : a branch of learning
See knowledge defined for English-language learners »
See knowledge defined for kids »
Examples of KNOWLEDGE

She has little knowledge of fashion.
He has devoted himself to the pursuit of knowledge.
She gained a thorough knowledge of local customs.
Did you have any knowledge of her intentions?
At that time the word science had not been narrowed down to one kind of knowledge; it meant whatever was known, and men of learning were still able to possess most of it. —Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000

Middle English knowlege, from knowlechen to acknowledge, irregular from knowen
First Known Use: 14th century
Related to KNOWLEDGE
Synonyms: lore, science, wisdom
Antonyms: ignorance, illiteracy, illiterateness

of cousre, Duh this is the reason for all of this. They have actually reduced it all down to this so they can say what they just said. that's what make it ideology. They have reduced knowledge to the one thing they can control and then use that to eleminate their opponent's world view so that their world view is all there is.
The proposition "God exists" is neither an a priori tautology nor an empirical prostitution which makes verifiable predictions.
 "God exists" is not even valid theologically as a statement if Paul Tillich is to be believed. Again the whole atheistic edifice comes down if one goes by Tillich's theology. The basis for the statement is the reduction of all knowledge to the positivist ideology which is at the core of scientism. It is disproved by the reduction of the strong sense of verification to the weak sense. We can rationally warrant belief in God by a variety of means from dedituvie reasoning to empirical data to personal experience. The statement is just groundless ideological banter.

belief can be rationally warranted even by the use of data.

Therefore, we do not know that God exists

well of course we can't because existence is for contingent things. So God does not exist, he is the ground of being. Not existing is not the same as not being real. God doesn't exist as a thing in creation that's not say there is no God. The reality of God can be warranted as a proposition by a variety of means.

It's like old times again. I look up it, if this marks a return of positivism, as a fun. I get to bash positivism directly again. I cut my philosophical teeth on arguments with positivism.

I found an online copy of Language, Truth, and Logic.  It has very small print. to make the pages turn just click on them.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Why doesn't God make it all more obvious?


 .......My friend Mike left a comment on the comment section for the last piece. He raised the issue "why don't God make it all more obvious?" That's a good point. If God so desired we could have a totally different sort of world, one in which there as no question of God's existence. God could have created a world where he held press conferences every day and everyone always knew he was real from birth to death. Often times skeptics will even go so far as to impose the idea "why can't God just cancel sin let me do whatever I want?" He's not supposed to have other ideas. We can't let God be God, we should be God, he should do our bidding!
........Obviously, then, God has a reason for making a world in which we have to seek truth. This is usually just assumed to be due to the fall. After all he used walk with man in the garden in the cool of the evening and it was the sin of the fall that separated us. Well since I view the story as a myth, (myth doesn't mean lie or foolishness--but psychological communication) it's a story about how we are separated from God in coming of age. This means that there is a natural barrier that breaks communication something more embed in the human condition than can be  accounted for in the simple story of the fall, but something that nonetheless the story of the fall is communicating to us.
........The concept of the Fall that St. Augustine developed that Reinhold Niebuhr modernized (see Nature and Destiny of Man Vol I). The fall is not the genetic result of a choice Adam and Eve made one summer afternoon in picking fruit the fruit picking is a metaphor for what happens in all of us as we come of age and develop the understanding of right and wrong. That is we can understand the future by calculating or projecting, extrapolating, based upon experience of the past. This creates anxiety, which is already building becuase we have discovered the concept of right and wrong, which you recall was one of the major effects of Eve's fruit picking. In the attempt to resolve the anxiety about the future we choose to feather our own nests at the expense of others. Since we now understand right form wrong, we do wrong. We are now blameworthy. That creates more anxiety and causes us to seek the good. That creates more guilt so sets the cycle going again. 
........The problem with just letting it go is that God's own character is the prototype of the good so he can't allow that. We have to good but we have to secure ourselves in ways that require that we put ourseves fist. This means we are going to resent being told what to do. We are going to resent to rpocess of being held accountable and feeling guilt. You don't bleieve that? Just look at an atheist. they have no shortage of resentment toward God for just such things. So the point is that God wants us to search. The search means we seek truth, when we find it we are committed to it, we don't resent it. Jesus said "he who is forgivenven much loves much."

This is all contained within my free will defense on the theodicy problem which I call "Soteriological Drama." Here are the assumptions and the basic argument:  

Basic assumptions

There are three basic assumptions that are hidden, or perhaps not so obvious, but nevertheless must be dealt with here.

(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.

The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impetus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.

(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance or complaisance that would be the result of intimidation.

That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will a lot more to achieve a goal they truly believe in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.

(3)the the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.

The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultimate meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internalized.

The argument would look like this:

(1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.

(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).

(3) Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices

(4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free outweighs all other considerations, since without there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.

This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.

This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama:

(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultiamte goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.

(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us

(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart.

(8) therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.

In a sense it's a bit a socialization process. We could say this God's way of socializing us into the seeking of the good. He wants us to conduct our own search for truth. He's given us the means to find it, its' there but we have to make a leap of faith to be assured that we have found it. Once we do that we are fine, but we have to do it to receive the pay off. Then because we did search and find we love and we are not resentful and continue to seek God more.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Why no Scientific Proof of God and Why it Doesn't Matter


This quote was on Theology Web recently, it's obvously an atheist. But I can't find the url or the thread at all. nevertheless I think the quite is general enough it doesn't matter who said it. This encapsulates the basic atheist desire for scientific proof of God. I kind of like the way I answer this:

Atheists are often known to ask:

Scientific evidence is not faith. Science is not faith based. Why doesn't God show Himself or give scientific evidence for His existence?


The questions that science poses and the questions that religious belief pose are totally different sorts of questions. There are points of overlap. Most of these stem form the ages before science really had an systematic to it, the ancient world, pre historic world. These are the days when the most sophisticated scientific knowledge was smelting and sword making, and even that was not understood in a way that we would call "scientific." In that setting it was natural (meaning logical and practical) to use religion as the explanation for the natural world. From this era when people looked to religion to make it answer questions it can't answer, we have hold over ideas (such as Genesis creation myth--which we need to learn how to read as a myth--and that means we need to learn the value in myth) that we have these conflicts.

Understanding the workings of the natural world does not require faith, it requires skills we posess, thinking skills to make systemic use of what we learn, the five senses to gather empirical data, and that means we are limited in that domain to knowledge which can be gleaned empirically.

How are we going to understand the nature of begin empirically when we can't get outside of being to study it? We can understand it from the standpoint of beings in being, but that's subjective. We can't get outside of being to understand what being is. Just supposes for the sake of argument that we believe that God is imagining the world. Our physical existence is similar to that of the "matrix" (I hate that movie) or the Holodeck on Star Treck TNG, (better) in that God is imagining the world. We are figments of God's imagination. Let's just say that for now.

How are we going to know that? We can't get outside of God's imagination because that is the part and parcel of our whole existence. We can't exist outside of that because that's what we are. How can we step outside of what we are to see what that means?

Suppose you had a big room with lots of objects and one pair of scales. Your task is to weigh every object in the room. You have only one pair of scales. how can you weigh the scales themselves?

All you can do is to find an object that feels as heavy as the scales and weigh it. That could be off by a lot, but it's the only way other than just guessing that you are going to get a true reading. Let's also assume that there are materials in the room to build another pair of scales.

That's why my post is about. It's a means of taking some kind of soundings of something that is beyond our ability to sound out. Now you assert that faith is nothing more than belief without any sort of reason just some wild leap in the darkness for no reason. That is a misunderstanding of faith. That is not what faith is. [i][b]Faith is the ability to place confidence in a partially proved hypothesis.[/b][/i]

This means there is evidence upon which faith is based. It's the evidence that amounts to the reasons why we believe. We do not believe because we are idiots or because our parents told us to or any of the other stupid ideas that atheists come up with to convince themselves that they are superior. We believe for highly personal reasons, we believe for subjective reasons.

At this point we raise one more concept that atheists can't handle. Atheist are scared to death of subjectivity. This why atheist cling to empiricism and to scientist ideologies. Because they are scared to death of the subjective. But guess what? there is no objectivity. Humans are not objective. The subject object dichotomy is a sham. There are only varying degrees of subjectivity there is real objectivity.

All scientific knowledge requires an ideological reading at some point. If you read thew works of Thomas Kuhn (No he was not a Christan he was not a creationist such ideas are stupidly idiotic but atheists have concluded that we was because I use him in arguments) if you read his works you will see that scinece turns on ideology. The paradigm is basically a just like a political ideology. When the paradigm shifts, which makes science work, the paradigm becomes like a political machine and is defended exactly like a political regime under attack. So the atheist pretense that faith vs atheism is really faith vs science is nothing more than their ideological reading. Science is not atheism an dit is no a tool of atheism any more than it is a tool of religion. Science is systematic gleaning of human knowledge about the workings of the physical world. There is nothing in that proposition that is anti-religious.

The ideology of scientific empiricism reduces knowledge and thought to a point where all counter phenomena are lost. So spiritual experience becomes a misfire of some chemical in your head. Before you know it you are not even talking about spiritual experience anymore, you've lost the phenomena. Then the reductionist pretends it never existed.

Because reductionism and empiricism are factually oriented they reduce all knowledge to facts about the world. So it is predictable that they understand belief in God adding a fact to the world. This is why they go through this stuff about "faith is not based on any evidence." Because they only accept as evidence that which supports their ideology.

God is not just anther thing in the universe. God is the basis of all that is. God is not on the list with existing things, not because there is no God but because God is transcendent of "thingness." God is not just another thing alongside "stuff" in creation. God is the basis upon which "stuff" exists.

This means God requires a different kind of evidence and different level of knowing than do scientific facts. You have to talk differently you have to read a different set of books, you have to hold a different set of epistemic priorities. Given all that God belief is backed up by a wealth of knowledge, but you have to understand that new way of understanding. Its' not reductionism. It's holistic. It's not [b][i]empiricism[/i][/b] it is [b][i]phenomenology[/i][/b]

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Answering Atheists Attacks on The Religious a prori


The Original argument to which this refers (the religoius a prori) was the argument discussed on friday last. It reminded me of this older discussion I had about the same arguemnt with atheists on CARM.

HRG (poster on CARM) sort of walked into it. This is a look at a response that MkeWC gave. Mike is a pretty bright guy. In 13 years of arguing with atheists on the net he's the first one I've met who really understands Derrida.

It's interesting that you say religion is derived phenomenologically, therefore it has a kind of epistemic autonomy, that it carries its own terms of justification within it.

The problem is that phenomenology has been critiqued into the dust. It can't do without something that synthesizes the manifold of phenomena, and no one has ever offered a coherent account of how that could be. It always ends up in metaphysical speculation: Husserl, Heidegger, Jean-Luc Marion, they all end up finding a substrata of presence that finally cannot be supported.
Of course that's a pretty exaggerated claim. Any popular school of thought has been "critiqued ad nausium." Or "into the dust." That is not to say that he has any real criticisms of the way I used Tillich's Heideggerian based phenomenology in understanding the religious a prori. Although his initial description of the a prori, it has a kind of epistemic autonomy, that it carries its own terms of justification within it, is a good description of what that means. The claim that phenomenology has never offered a coherent account of the manifold nature of phenomena is a question begging and ironic claim. The thrust of Heidegger's phenomenology is to impressing sense data into preconceived categories and allow the data to suggest it's own category. A good example of what I mean is seen in a recent 'discussion' (p'ing contest) with an atheist on CARM who keeps habitually refereeing t religoius experience as "funny feelings." This atheist will not alter that term no matter how I have explained that it's purposely derisive, doesn't describe anything that corresponds to RE and is not ever used in any of the studies. The typical atheist fear of the subjective and hatred of experience is used as a preconceived category in which this atheist heard any kind of data that would contradict the usual atheist ideology.

Since the point of Heideggerian phenomenology is to allow the data to suggest the categories themselves, in the above example this would be done by perhaps description RE the way those who experience it describe it, then the claim that it has never found a coherent explication of the manifold nature of experience is just saying "gee these guys don't want preconceived categories don't have any preconceived categories." How about that? That like criticizing the army as "too military." That's like criticizing the courts system as "too bound by legal conventions."

Mike goes on:
Besides that, phenomenology was developed as a philosophical tool. That contradicts your statement that religion is not derived from other disciplines.
I didn't say religion is derived from phenomenology. I said we should use a phenomenological approach to understand it.

Induction is not a cheat. In your example about balls dropping from a tower, we know they will fall at the same rate because physics tells us they will. You're right we only ever see particular balls, but that doesn't matter to physics.
That's really circular reasoning, by way of being question begging. He doesn't understand that this example is right out of Karl Popper's major work. Without extrapolating by way of inductive logic we would have to watch every case of the dropping of balls to make sure that it always worked the same say. Yet in using inductive we automatically consign a lot of things to falling between the cracks. Of course Popper's point was that you can't derive regular law like statements from general principles. The nature of empiricism demands empirical observation. If this is not to be endless it must be extrapolated inductively. His statement assumes there's a rule book of physics already written and waiting to be consulted even in the very early days before Newtonian physics. If laws of physics are derived entirely descriptively when how can we have a preconceived rule that "physics tells us they will." That's really cheating empiricism. It's quite ironic because it means he's evoking the preconceived category that phenomenology seeks to avoid.

Causal induction is an entirely valid principle. However, this does not disprove miracles.
I didn't say that induction is not valid. I said it has problems it runs afoul of impossing a preconceived rule upon experience, and in the need to extrapolate things fall through the cracks. What I meant by that was miracles. Just because 99.9% of cases work a certain way, dead men don't rise and walk, doesn't mean 100% of cases work that way. Since miracles are supposed to be impossibilities where's the sense in evoking standard expectation?

You're right that science cannot finally chase away the possibility of miracles, defined as an event caused by a supernatural force. But that just establishes a negative knowledge: "we don't know if miracles are possible or not." Note that this is different from saying "we know miracles are, in principle, possible."
All epistemic gaps must be crossed with the assumption of positive side rules. We do this in everything. Otherwise we would have to sit down, stay silent and starve to death because we can never bee 100% sure of anything. In all of our major epistemic gap crossings we assert the positive side. The cogito, "I think, therefore, I am" taken by foundationalists to be absolute proof of the most indubitable premise, is a positive affirmation of the lack of knowledge that the "I am isn't a different I than the I that says "I am." Any principle that says "I have no reason to make that assumption" is mere turning the negative aspect of knowledge in the face of a gap in knowledge into a possessive assertion.

But you cheat and say that science's inability to discern miracles produces that positive knowledge. Hence, you just say there have been 100 resurrections in the past, without feeling the need to provide any details.
That's not true at all. I did actually document a couple of sources. I was speiifically reffering the book by Duffin (recently reviewed here) Medical Miracles about her research i the Vatican Archives. I don't have space to reproduce her whole book in a text box. That's a cheap attack because no one does on a message board have that kind of space. No one expects that. Giving a printed source is fine for official intercollegiate debate it should be fine for a message board. There's a gap on the message board where one guys "I don't have time to look it up but I doubt it" the one says "It's true I read it" but he doesn't give it. What can you do it's not a official event? you just let it go. One can go look it up if one cares, and rarely anyone does.

You can't get from that negative knowledge (we don't know if supernatural caused events are possible) to positive knowledge (we know they are possible) without first providing a rigorous concept of what that force is. Which means you have to prove God exists before you can claim miracles exist.

That's horse manure. What he's saying is we have to know all about God with absolute certainty before we can assume God. That's not fair. physicists don't play that way. When atheist use the multivariate as an example to the fine tuning argument they are using an argument that has absolutley no empirical backing. We have no evidence other than hypothetical mathematics that such a thing exits. Notice Mike is also diong a "hide the ball" maneuver in asserting that my only basis for argument is negative side assertions, we can't disprove miracles. He's ignoring the fact that I've given a pile of miracle evidence in Lourdes miracles and in Casdroph and Catholic saint making miracles and Vatican archival research.

Without proof that God exists, the hypothesis that a supernatural force caused a particular event will only ever be that, a hypothesis. And one that is entirely untestable. It can never be wrong; it can only be accepted as right on the basis of faith.
That is a totally ludicrous statement. The miracle appeals are a ratioanl warrant for beleif in God. He's saying you have to prove God before you an argue for proof of God.If that were the case you could never make the argument. If we did physics that way before we do any research on dark matter we must already prove it exists. If we take that dictum down a peg to providing some form of verisimilitude then have that in spades with the 200 studies on religious experience. The Lourdes evidence supplys that concern a prori.

The other thing is, miracle stories always come with caveats that limit investigation. They always happen in the distant past, or in distant countries, or they are on the order of "God healed my sore back."
That is obviously not true. My father was dead then came to life. That event coincided with my dream that the Pope brought him to me and said "he will be ok." That was not long ago or in a foreign country, not the time it happened it was right then. The Lourdes miracles are immediate they are not long ago and far away.

With the exception of the resurrection of Jesus and the creation act itself, these events are never used as explanations of anything in the historical record. They never seem to have much effect on history at all. Maybe they happened, maybe then didn't.

That's because of the way modern historiography is construed. The ground rules for history as a modern social scinece rule out any but a naturalistic account. Jurgen Moltmann's rules change argument, the "history making" aspect, allows miracles to be brought in the back door. Moreover, the HRG (yes the guy on CARM) peremise that laws of physics an nature are totally descriptive open the door to further descriptions. There is no law-like statement in the universe that say "thou shalt not have violation of naturalism." Violations are just further observation of the behavior of the universe.

The whole post of Monday's post was that HRG steped in the trap by arguing in a circular fashion that physical laws are nothing but descriptions yet we have to rule out any miraculous idea on its face because we don't have such descriptions. Yet we do have them so there is no basis upon which to rule them out.