Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Gospel According To Metacrock


A skeptic on the comment section of this blog wants to imitate a dialogue and asked me to answer a certain question,He's not not being as flippant as the inquisition seem to imply but here it is:

It's actually about the fact that I have devoted way enough time on this thing already. Why should I care? I don't find anything convincing and I feel like I just hear the same things over and over again. It doesn't mean that it's false, but it does not compel me.
Why one should care about the truth of God is so that we can know God. Knowing God is important because it's the purpose of creation so it gives us meaning and makes us happy in a deeply satisfying way nothing else can.match. That's what you expect to hear but what else could I say?That really is the bottom line,everything else is just explication. I think to flesh this out more fully I have to put it in context in relation to other faiths.

I am assuming the next question will be why Christianity and not some other religion? You probably expect me to give a big thing a out how True Christianity is and how false other religions are. I don't think in those terms anymore,Yes I do believe Jesus is the incarnate logos he died on the cross for our sins but I don;t think in terms of one true religion and all others are false and deceived. I think in terms of knowing God and Jesus is the direct route. God is working in all cultures. Religion in general is a cultural expression through which people filter their subliminal experience of  God and encode it with cultural constructs so it;s meaningful to them.I think people can follow Jesus without knowing it;s Jesus. That;s how I read Romans 2:6-14, and Acts 17:16-29.

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  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.
All religions seek to resolve and define the problematic. Some define it in terms of imbalance with nature,or the problem of re-birth. Christianity defines it in terms of separation from God due to sin and the remedy is reunion with God through redemption. The consequences of non belief are that one fails to be transformed, and does not know God which is the greatest joy in life. I don't believe hell as eternal concision torment but I see it as a symbol of spiritual death, the realty is cessation of existence at the end of life. Salvation is a process that begins in his life through the transfomraitve power and culminates in eternal life with God.

The efficacy of God;'s transformation power and the validity of my ecumenical view view can be proved empirically. To really understand this one needs to read my book, The following observations spell this out:The power of god is real and it can be experienced in real terms, This happens in born again experience, in Baptism of the Spirit and in mystical experience, Mystical experience is the direct efficacy of God's transforming power as it draws all people toward Christ. The reality of it is extremely well documented,I have 200 studies in the corpus that my books deals with The point is there is measurable impact in the lives of those who have such experiences, I've written a great deal about this too much to put here.[1]

Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being.[2]

(2)Long-Term Effects


*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style[3]


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion[4]

(3) Trend toward positive view among psychologists. Spiriutal Emergency MYSTICAL OR UNITIVE EXPERIENCE "Offsetting the clinical literature that views mystical experiences as pathological, many theorists (Bucke, 1961; Hood, 1974, 1976; James, 1961; Jung, 1973; Laski, 1968; Maslow, 1962, 1971; Stace, 1960; Underhill, 1955) have viewed mystical experiences as a sign of health and a powerful agent of transformation." (4) Most clinicians and clinical studies see postive. (Ibid) "Results of a recent survey (Allman, et al,. 1992) suggest that most clinicians do not view mystical experiences as pathological. Also, studies by several researchers have found that people reporting mystical experiences scored lower on psychopathology scales and higher on measures of psychological well-being than controls (Caird, 1987; Hood, 1976, 1977, 1979; Spanos and Moretti, 1988)". 

Why be a Christian and not a mystic or a universalist? Because I know the reality of Jesus in my as well as in history, Jesus rounds the relativity of God in a history that we don't have with Buddhism or Hinduism,even though I'm sure the Upanishads and the Mahabharata are based upon some kind of historical reality we don't have a flesh bold connection to the divine as we do in Jesus,now that would be just a rationalization if it was only a historical connection but that same connection is real in my own life, I have to admit it's just my end of things,I was raised in Christianity so even though I was an  atheist it was Jesus I called upon when I was desperate and the fact that I got an answer means I have to accept that it was Jesus who answered. When I reached out in baptism of the Holy spirit was a dramatic events that knocked me standing up out of my chair with a jolt of actual power that was like electricity but didn't hurt. Read about these things on my old website.[5]

I can't claim that everyone who turns to Christ will have these kinds of experiences,unfortunately I can't tell anyone how to have them, but even the day today normal sense of belief provides a great degree of meaning and purpose and a sense of God's presence, I think we are experiencing God's presence all the time we just allow things to distract and drawn it out. Robert Wuthnow, one of the major researchers on mystical experience, discusses the theory that mystical experience is on a continuum and everyone feels it to some degree.[6] 

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 Scriptures 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, doctrinal 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 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.

In summation the basic thing that all religions seek to do is to explaimn the human problematic and to resolve it through transformation experience. The Christian tradition does this in a way that both grounds it's  truth claims in history and transcends the historical scene,In so doing it offers a way of life that works  to transform the lives of of adherents with divine encounter.

[1] Joseph Hinman, The trace of God:Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Sprimgs Col.: Grand Viaduct Publishing, 2014

on amazom

[2]  Greely in Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.

[3] Robert Wuthnow,  (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

This summary was actually complied on the counsel on spiritual practices website I researched that study form my book it establishes a 20% increase accords the board in self actualizing categories for the first year of the experience as compared with non experiencers and it is renewable.

[4]  Kathleen D.Noble, (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
The same situation also ob tins with this summary as that for Wuthnow,

[5] Joseph Hinman,  "How I got Saved and  Became Metacrock," Doxa: Christian
Thought in the 21st Cemetery,
on line resource URL

http://www.doxa.ws/Theology/Testamony.html  (accessed 5/24/17)

[6] Wuthnow Op cit

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Jean-Paul Sartre Harbinger of the Defense of Reason

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)

The other day I was struck by an affront to my love of continental philosophy so grievous it must be avenged. Where else but that bastion of analytical philosophy would this occur but among my friends at Secular Outpost? This is no mere sectarian squabble among arcane academics, it has profound implications for theology and apologetic, The real real issue here is the mystification of knowledge through the illusion of technique, which analytical philosophy is bad about lending itself to, vs. a discursive understanding of issues that is accessible to people of all walks of intellectual life. Ryan M was making a point with which I basically agree. Certain figures such as Nietzsche and Sartre are no longer regarded as major voices of atheism in the atheist community or in American philosophy a (so say the Analytical types). Nevertheless, The stature of these thinkers must nevertheless be understood and respected, They still post challenges and offer valuable insights in spite of their lack of technical proficiency in analytical philosophy, This is not to deny the value of analytical philosophy which I do admire, or to cast aspersions upon Ryan or any of the crowd at SOP whom I also admire. I do think discursive reason is discounted and there is too much mystification of knowledge in the perpetuation of technical proficiency and it shows in the lack of attention to the concerns voiced by these overlooked figures.

This blog piece will focus on Sartre. It's not that I am so in awe of Sartre that I must defend him.I don't want to defend him, ultimately I disagree with his entire project. He was an atheist and I am a Christian. I do see his many flaws, Ryan M. is basically right when he says Sartre doesn't make good arguments, it's just that I'm not sure that makimng good arguments is the only point of philosophy. Nor am I sure that the inability to make good arguments means the guy's thought is not worth considering. This will not be the kind of thing I want to write. I want to show from his writings that good arguments can be drawn out even though he's wrong in his final conclusion. I don't have my books here where I am and I  can't reach them. If I had them I could find all the marked passages easily. I will instead just make a couple of quick observations.

The offending statement came in an article about mistakes theists and atheists often make in arguing about philosophy of reliogion:
Mistake 6 - [Falsely believing particular individuals are representative of the PoR at its best]- Atheists on this blog have probably encountered theists who will quote Nietzsche, Sarte, Camus, and others as representatives of the best arguments against theism. It is difficult to say Nietzsche, Sarte and Camus offered arguments at all, let alone arguments against theism. These people are not representative of modern atheism, nor any form of analytic atheism. More representative would be Graham Oppy, John Schellenberg, Jordan Howard Sobel, and other contemporary era philosophers. Likewise, Dinesh D' Souza, Josh McDowell, and Lee Strobel are not representative of the best arguments for theism. More representative would be Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Alexander Pruss, Robin Collins, and other contemporary era philosophy.[1]
Even though Sartre is not taken seriously by new atheism or by analytical philosophers that is not to say that he has no fans. Sartre is still regarded as "arguably the best known philosopher of the twentieth century. His indefatigable pursuit of philosophical reflection, literary creativity and, in the second half of his life, active political commitment gained him worldwide renown, if not admiration...whose writings set the tone for intellectual life in the decade immediately following the Second World War."[2] He was dismissed by Foucault as "nineteenth century." This was for his commitment to enlightenment ideals of humanism, his Marxism,  and the individual which postmoderns came to identity with outmoded modernism.[3]
It is common practice for teachers in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition to be scathing about Sartre’s philosophy, dismissing it as woolly, jargon-laden, derivative, wrong-headed and so on – in Bryan Magee’s recent TV series ‘The Great Philosophers’, for instance, Sartre’s philosophy was declared to be only of passing interest. But even where Sartre’s philosophy is obviously flawed, as it certainly is in Existentialism and Humanism, it can fire the imagination and offer genuine insight into the human condition.[4]
I think part for the reason that atheists rejected him is because he had a conversion at they end of his life, he became the poster boy for Christian apologists seeking to show that their conception of atheist casual approach to morality didn't work. It's only Christian apologists who don't argue with atheists in person who think Sartre is still a "big gun" for atheists.

Nevertheless I still find reasons to admire him and to value his work. He did dedicates the second half of his life to working to improve the lot of the poor and marginalized. Even though he was a Marxist he stood up to Soviet Marxism and American imperialism equally. In an age where people want to be robots and can't understand the value of individualism he is one last light drawing thinkers to value the individual. He's the last bastion of enlightenment humanism, in an age gone wild for determinism and selling to anti-humanism. Sartre is one of  the last defenders manning the ramparts against the tide of what Robert Bloom calls "The war on Reason." Social psychologists in numerious studies pint to hundreds of unseen factors that control our behavior while those idolizing psychopathology chalk everything up to chemical determinism.[5] There's really no room left for the individual as a responsible agent in society.

I think it's basically true that Sartre doesn't argue. That seems to be more of a cultural thing, They were all trying to be Nietzsche who used his superior sensibilities as the ultimate proof of  veracity. Even though Sartre had German relatives (Albert Schweitzer was his cousin) he was after all French. Rather than argue vociferously Sartre cultivated a subtle approach based upon elaborate nuanced development of his themes and a literary style.  
Sartre's gifts of psychological description and analysis are widely recognized. What made him so successful a novelist and playwright contributed to the vivacity and force of his phenomenological “arguments” as well. His early studies of emotive and imaging consciousness in the late 1930s press the Husserlian principle of intentionality farther than their author seemed willing to go. For example, in The Psychology of Imagination (1940), Sartre argues that Husserl remains captive to the idealist principle of immanence (the object of consciousness lies within consciousness), despite his stated goal of combating idealism, when he seems to consider images as miniatures of the perceptual object reproduced or retained in the mind. On the contrary, Sartre argues, if one insists that all consciousness is intentional in nature, one must conclude that even so-called “images” are not objects “in the mind” but are ways of relating to items “in the world” in a properly imaginative manner, namely, by what he calls “derealizing” them or rendering them “present-absent.”[6]
One subtle as aspect of his thought is in his dictum from a work largely taken as a  manifesto (even though he declined that) "being proceeds essence." [7] 'Benjamin Studebaker follows up by arguing that Sartre's dictum must be wrong,  essence has to proceed being for there to be anything to be. Studebaker rightly points out that the phrase has to be taken somewhat metaphorically, Even so, as he also points out there are still problems. Essence: for Sartre doesn't mean God;s creative power, he was an atheist,It meant genetics and environmental influences. [8] Even so those factors must still be present even morose for a 21st century naturalist, with nothing other than those two factors to fall back on. Post humans have no spiritual essence that transcends the chemicals.

It is ironic many atheists encountering Sartre's ideas in connection with apologetic will say disagree with Sartre on the assumption that he says there is a universal meaning They will juxtapose their idea of private personal meaning against it, That's actually in agreement with Sartre. He is not saying there in some transcendent cosmic meaning he's saying life is meaningless and absurd but we make our own meaning. That really demonstrates the problem with Sartre, there has to be a kind of essence for us to be, but once we are then we make our own meaning and become more than we are. So really he should say being and essence are a dialectic that goes essence-- being-- synthesis (private manufactured essence). He is really saying we become more than the naturalistic essence are born with and are shaped when we learn to exert our self making freedom. 

Freedom is another issue that puts him  at odds with 21st century atheists. Most of the new atheists I've seen either on message boards or in print are  chemical deterministic and opposes free will. I've seen atheists   claim science disproves free will (it does not). For Sartre we are radically free, almost too free. So his notion of essence is really verging on the kind of first cause that is almost independent of nature.  I think he had an inkling of God  that finally came to fruition at the end of his life. Flynn comments on the value he still finds in Sartre's work:
Next, the recent revival of the understanding of philosophy as a “way of life” as distinct from an academic discipline focused on epistemology or more recently on the philosophy of language, while renewing an interest in Hellenistic ethics as well as in various forms of “spirituality,” can find in Sartrean existentialism forms of “care of the self” that invite fruitful conversation with contemporary ethics, aesthetics and politics without devolving into moralism, aestheticism or fanaticism. From a philosopher suspicious of moral recipes and focused on concrete, lived experience, this is perhaps as much as one could expect or desire.[9]
The profound consequences for Theology is that since most theology is written in the vain of continental philosophy and most is not written as analytical philosophy (not Christians who are analytical philosophers as doing theology ). Paul Tillich is a good example of someone who is very continental in way he wrote, he was of course German. It's just discursive reasoning, it uses logic no less than analytical philosophy for formal deductive argument. They are still reasoning even though they don't package it is the same. It;s more accessible.Even though theology has it;s own mystification of knowledge, still analytical philosophy while it is a great help in clarifying and making critical distinctions can also become a straight jacket and feed into the illusion of technique.


[2] Thomas,  Flynn,"Jean-Paul Sartre", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2013/entries/sartre/

[3] Ibid

[4] Nigel Warburton, "A student’s guide to Jean-Paul Sartre’s Existentialism and Humanism,"
Philosophy Now: A Magazine of Ideas, (Dec 2016, Jan, 2017), online jouirnal

[5] Robert Bostrom, website, “Is there a God the Evidence For and Agaismt,”On-limn resource, URL: http://www.anthropic-principle.com/preprints/god/god.html (accssed 9/21/16)
Yale University (Philosophy)

[6] Flynn Op Cit

[7] Jean-Paul Sartre,"Existentialism is a Humanism." PDF
Written: Lecture given in 1946
Source: Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. Walter Kaufman, Meridian Publishing Company, 1989;
First Published: World Publishing Company in 1956;
Translator: Philip Mairet;
Copyright: reproduced under the “Fair Use” provisions;
HTML Markup: by Andy Blunden 1998; proofed and corrected February 2005.

[8] Benjamin Studebaker, "A Critique of Existentialism," Benjamin Studebaker: about Politics, Economics, International Relations, ect... (Sept 5, 2012)

[9] Flynn, op cit

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Let's play 20 questions only it;s 25 by Jeff Lowder

Knight plays chess with Death, from Ingmar 
Bergman's great film The Seventh Seal 

Jeff Lowder at the Secular Outpost has 25 questions for theists They are not intended to be tricks or rhetorical but to drive home his point about his probability argument,

Lowder says of his questions:
Many people incorrectly assumed that the list was supposed to function as a list of “gotcha!” questions. Even our own Keith Parsons commented, “Any Bible-believing Christian could easily answer these.” Sure enough, many did. It’s easy to invent “just-so,” ad hoc explanations for why, if God exists, God allowed some fact F to obtain. But that is of very little philosophical interest. (More on that in a moment.) But even more important, it misses the point....
Each question is a specific instance of a more generic ‘meta-question’: “Which explanatory hypothesis, naturalism or theism, is the best explanation?” For details, see “Basic Structure of My Evidential Arguments.” That page lays out the schema for all of my evidential arguments.
Lowder's major point is a huge probability argument in  which he shows over and over again in a variety of ways that reality is more easily explained by naturalism and thus it is more probable as an explanation.I contend that the argumemt, like the questions primarily reflect what Tillich calls the "surface level" being thus of course they reflect naturalism because he's not examining areas where supernature is an issue, Hopefully this will be seen in the answers I give. I will only do half the questions this time.

1. The question “Why is there something rather than nothing” presupposes “nothing” as being  the normal state of affairs. Why believe that? Why can’t we flip the question on its head? In other words, why can’t it be the case that the normal state of affairs is for things to actually exist and nothingness itself would be weird?  (HT: Thy Kingdom Come (Undone))

No it does not, the question does not assume nothing is normal it assumes it's the only alternative to being. I do not mean to offend you,I respect you as a thinker but that strikes me as suggesting you need to read Heidegger. Thet question was made famous by him it has a huge palemcest that is firmly rooted in Heideggerian fermentation. It is not intended to evoke God, Heidegger was an atheist. In fact he says Christians can't answer it because they have a ready jade answer, so the question is really like an ink blot,it just spurs thinking. Tillich moves on from Heidegger and expropriates the questions as a starting point but only in light of the Heiderrian history of the question. Modern apologists know nothing of these things most of the time,l thin k They should.

2. Given that the universe has a finite age, why did the universe begin with time rather than in time.

Time is based upon the rate of change in physical conditions,any physical condition constitutes a universe so you can't have time running prior to having something to change, thus a universe. I don't think that contradicts reactivity,I know matter warps space and creates time but that still makes time a function of space, or the universe. Thus time and matter must begin together. In relativity the four coordinates, time and three physical dimensions are all one thing they can't be separated thus space/time. Nothing in that formulation makes God less probable.

3. Why is so much of our universe intelligible without any appeal to supernatural agency? Why does the history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones?

This is really two separate question. Because you are only looking at the bits that are on the surface, that's the natural it's empirical. This is what Tillich means when he links atheism with "surface level of being." You are only thinking of what you can see. If you want to deal with morality or meaning or anything below the surface then you do need SN. Don't forget my understanding of that term is different from yours. It has nothing to do with magic and does not necessarily involve miracles. It is synonymous with God consciousness.
4. Why is the physical universe so unimaginably large?

That's explained by FT argument. Evolution needs space. That question requires only knowledge of the surface so it's not necessarily a theist's question. Evolution includes the stars,m the universe as a whole, thus it needs lots of room.
5. If you believe that visual beauty is evidence of God, why isn’t the universe saturated with auditory, tactile, or other non-visual types of sensory beauty?

I don't know that I do believe that. But it is saturated with auditory and other kinds of beauty but you don't notice it unless you are blind. If you want to know the valid logical best version of the aesthetic argument read Has Urs Von Balthasar.
6. If you believe the universe is fine-tuned for intelligent life, why isn’t our universe teeming with life, including life much more impressive than human life?

Who says it's not? we have insufficient data for that assumption.

7. Why would God use biological evolution as a method for creation? Do you have any answer that is independent of the scientific evidence for evolution?

You are making an anthropomorphic assumption  that God is so much like us that has to rationcentenate the decisions to create in such a way that we would appreciate it. How about he just chose evolution because it's the default from naturalistic creation. You are assuming God doesn't work like a principle but has to say "I am God I shall create stuff." Canadian theologian John Macquarrie has a phrase "being let's be" to describe God's creative process that more of a manager for creative principles. I think God actively engages with consciousness but since he's working on a higher level of consciousness we would not understand it.
We might theorize a reason we can understand. It would deal with my view my theory I call "soeteriological drama." God wants a neutral world where his existence is not a dead giveaway so we have to seek truth and thus internalize the values of the good, Read more.

8Why would God desire to create embodied moral agents, as opposed to unembodied minds (such as souls, spirits, or ghosts)? Why is the human mind dependent on the physical brain?

That is also answered by the link above to bacteriological drama, If we were pure spirit  beings (pure mind) we would have no doubt of God and we woudl not seek truth and thus internalize the values of the good. 
The answers are hiding in plain sight, We can find them but we have to look,We have to want them, That may sound like a game of cat and mouse but I don't it ism, i think it's necessary to internalize values of the good.
This question makes me think of one of my favorite Twilight Zone's. The most philosophical of the show. A solider, a clown ,some others are trapped in a room with no doors or windows, They have no memory of being who they are. Turns out they are toys in a toy box at Christmas. We find ourselves here in this life we have no idea why we are here they answer could be so radically different we can't know it, in that metaphor the answer is  determinism,
9. Did Australopithecus have a soul? What about homo habilis? Homo erectus? Neanderthals? Why or why not? (HT: Keith Parsons)

Yes. "The only Hebrew word traditionally translated "soul" (nephesh) in English language Bibles refers to a living, breathing conscious body, rather than to an immortal soul." Soul is not necessary  the thing that lives on but a symbol for life, by extension the relationship of the living being to God Thus saved souls or lost souls. The thing that survives death is spirit,although in translation these can be synonymous.

Soul in the Bible - Wikipedia


10. How do souls interact with physical matter? Do you have any answer that is not tantamount to “I don’t know?” (HT: Keith Parsons)

The term soul is most often used of the physical life of the person so it;s interaction is obvious. Now you will ask about spirit the same question plug in spirit. Spirit = mind. How do minds interact with physical matter? By perceiving and interpreting it.

11. If you believe humans have free will, why would humans have free will if God exists? Why are we able to exercise free will in some situations but not others?

Question is backward. If God did not exist we should expect biological organisms to be deterministic. It's only with humans made in God's image we should expect reason and free will.

12. Why are pain and pleasure so connected to the biological goals of survival and reproduction, but morally random? Is there some greater good that logically requires (or logically requires risking) that suffering be used to motivate animals to pursue the biological goal of self-preservation? Does some moral end make it desirable for suffering to continue even when it serves no biological purpose? For example, why do sentient beings, including animals which are not moral agents, experience pain or pleasure that we do not know to be biologically useful?

You are only thinking in terms of physical pleasure that is a function physical existence. You can't explaimn having a physical body and yetalso finding higher forms of  pleasure especially when it requires higher forms of  consciousness.

13. Why do only a fraction of living things, including the majority of sentient beings, thrive? In other words, why do very few living things have an adequate supply of food and water, are able to reproduce, avoid predators, and remain healthy? Why would God create a world in which all sentient beings savagely compete with one another for survival? Why do an even smaller fraction of organisms thrive for most of their lives? Why do almost no organisms thrive for all of their lives? 

We do have physical existence, that's not doubted by any. Most organisms are not made in Gods image and wont share in eternal life so they are just accouterments of  physical existence. Their well being is tied entirely to the physical realm. The higher up the scale of mental activity we go the closer we come to spirit, So we might find animals like dogs with spiritual qualities, since they have emotions they might find some pleasure in spiritual basics like emotion.
You can talk about the physical workings of the empirical end of the universe forever and not mention God because it's created to run on it's own. Then of course you can play the games of reductionist designed to keep God hidden.

 That doesn't mean you can leave God out if you want to go beyond the surface. Science doesn't go beyond the surface (not it's job) so of course science appears not to need God. The universe is made to look neutral.

I'll do the rest next week

Monday, May 15, 2017

God is not a Plausible Explaination for the Universe: God is Truth


Atheists have often argued that God is not a plausible explanation for the universe. What they mean by that is that we don't know enough about God to judge the value of the explanation, and that issues such as the complexity problem prevent a clear understanding. The plausible explanation thing is not a very good standard by which to judge the efficacy of belief. The reason for religions is not a scientific motivation to explain the workings of the physical world. The reason religion exists is becuase we have an empirical sense of the numinous, a sense referred to as "the religious a priori." Religion is not intended as an explanation in the sense that scinece is. It's not meant to be a means of explaining the workings of the physical world. That kind of thinking went out with the nineteenth century.

The concept of God is that of the foundation of reality. There is no basis for a standard of plausibility in dealing with foundations of reality since we have no other examples of foundational reality to compare to. This observation in a nutshell beats all of their arguments about plausibility, because it says that plausibility is the wrong standard by which to judge the efficacy of belief. This observation leads to a realization that actually destroys most of the arguments made about God an probability and standard of scinece.

Science has to have two things: predictive power and falsifiability. That's in addition to replicator and representative sample and double all the together things all of those are made impossible if you don't have these two. Science can't prove it can only disprove. if there is no disproof it's not assumed proven it's assumed a match with theory then theory is assumed to be verisimilitude. Science is not the acquisition of truth its' verisimilitude.

Since God is synonymous with truth (according to the primordial assertion of belief--that's the foundational assumption made in belief--the religious a prori) God is not subject to falsification. God is not subject to predictability God is not a matter of empiricism becuase God is not a thing in creation. This idea that God is synonymous with turth is met with consternation by atheists, and one can understand why. One might think this is becuase since the atheist is dedicated to rejecting believe he/she can't very well accept a religious a priori that puts God in at the foundational level. Yet, there's a more basic reason than that why this idea is upsetting them. It's because it is predicated upon a different notion of truth than any that they understand or have been taught to think about. The typical atheist notion of truth is pretty much one of verisimilitude. It's surface level, it excludes any sort of depth of being. Things are not any more than they seem. There's no underlying issue with being it's just a surface matter of does X exist or not?

The notion of truth with which St. Augustine understood God's synonymy is a kin to the concept dreaded by Postmoderns, the "meta narrative." We are talking about Truth with a capital "T." In bold letters yet. This notion of truth is the overarching explanation for all of reality, depth and all, not just the surface explanation of the existence of a given X. This kind of truth is apt to be rejected by atheists because it hints at not only God but notions such as sin and judgment and virtue and the whole metaphysical nine yards. This is not only installing God at the epistemological and metaphysical level, without a fight so to speak, but it also excludes the replacement religion atheism turns to for substitution in the face of losing the advantages of God belief. In other words, one can't work the doings of science upon the epistemic foundation of reality becuase it's at a higher epistemological level than anything in science: it's not a matter of inductive abstraction.

Belief in God can be warranted or unwarranted, not proved or disproved.
Augustine never made an argument for the existence of God because for him God was known with certainty and immediacy. God is immediately discerned in the apprehension of truth, thus need not be “proved.” God is the basis of all truth, and therefore, cannot be the object of questioning about truth, since God is he medium through which other truths can be known.[1] Tillich said:
Augustine, after he had experienced all the implications of ancient skepticism, gave a classical answer to the problem of the two absolutes: they coincide in the nature of truth. Veritas is presupposed in ever philosophical argument; and veritas is God. You cannot deny truth as such because you could do it only in the name of truth, thus establishing truth. And if you establish truth you affirm God. “Where I have found the truth there I have found my God, the truth itself,” Augustine says. The question of the two Ultimates is solved in such a way that the religious Ultimate is presupposed in every philosophical question, including the question of God. God is the presupposition of the question of God. This is the ontological solution of the problem of the philosophy of religion. God can never be reached if he is the object of a question and not its basis.[2]

Augustine says God is truth. He doesn’t so much say God is being as he says God is truth. But to say this in this way is actually in line with the general theme we have been discussing, the one I call “super-essential Godhead,” or Tillich’s existential ontology. Augustine puts the emphasis upon God’s name as love, not being. Since he was a neo Platonist he thought of true reality as beyond being and thus he thought of God as “beyond being.”[3] This makes no sense in a modern setting since for us “to be” is reality, and to not be part of being would meaning being unreal. But in the platonic context, true reality was beyond this level of reality and what we think of as “our reality” or “our world” is only a plane reflection of the true reality. We are creatures of a refection in a mud puddle and the thing reflected that is totally removed from our being is the true reality. It was this distinction Tillich tried to preserve by distinguishing between being and existence.
Augustine looked to the same passage in Exodus that Gilson quotes in connection with Aquinas. Augustine’s conclusions are much the same about that phrase “I am that I am.” This is one of his key reasons for his identification between God and truth. He saw the nature of God’s timeless being as a key also to identifying God with truth. The link between God and truth is the Platonic “one.” Augustine puts the forms in the mind of God, so God becomes the forms really. The basis of this identification is based partly upon God’s eternal nature. From that point on it’s all an easy identification between eternal verities, such as truth, eternal being, beauty, the one, and God. The other half of the equation is God’s revelation of himself as eternal and necessary through the phrase, for very similar reasons to those listed already by Gilson, between I am that I am and being itself (or in Augustine’s case the transcended of being). “He answers, disclosing himself to creature as Creator, as God to man, as Immortal to mortal, eternal to a thing of time he answers ‘I am who I am.’”[4]

That means in accepting belief in god one is not merely adding a fact to the universe or accepting a proposition about the existence of another thing in the world, but accepting a concept of truth as opposed to other concepts of truth.

[1] Donald Keef, Thomism and the Ontological Theology: A Comparison of Systems. Leiden, Netherlands: E.J. Brill, 1971, 140.
The “two Ultimates” discussed are philosophy and Religion.
[2] Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, 12-13

[3] The quotation above from the Levenson and Westphal book says Augistine believe God was being itself, Marion seems to say that Augustine put God beyond being. I think it’s debatable as to which he did because he didn’t say directly which it was. I’m assuming Marion is probably right just because of the time in which he lived and because he was a Platonic thinker.
[4] Carl Levenson and Johnathan Westphal, ed, Reality:Hackett readings Philosophy. " New York: Hackett Publishing. translated by Edmond Hill, 54 see the link