Sunday, May 28, 2017

Proposed debate with Bradley Bowen: Existence of God


Paul Tillich

My friend Bradley Bowen and I are discussion debating the existence of God, We had a fine debate last Year on the Historical Jesus, this this should be more fun. It will be a friendly debate. These comments were made om face book regarding expectations and what ground work to lay, Jeremy Scully also took part in that discussion. This could be the opening or it could be merely a proposal. I put it u for Bradley to get an idea of what I want to argue.

Jeremy Scully:
Please define what you mean by "God". It's such an overloaded word. Are we talking Theism?

I use a generalized version of Paul Tillich's notion of The ground of being," Tillich spoke of the God Beyond the God of theism.[1]There's a lot of confusion about this concept but I take it  to mean essentially that God is not a localized entity that could  be described as "a being" but is the fundamental aspect of being upon which all individual being are continent,[2] I link Tillich's notion with that of Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite, which places it the historic Christian tradition butting a unconventional aspect of that tradition. In answering the question of God's personal nature  Dionysus' notion of God has been called "universal mind." [3]

Bradley Bowen:

You know how I understand the phrase "God exists": There is exactly one being who created the universe, and who is the only eternally omnipotent, eternally omniscient, and eternally perfectly morally good being. ...Can you try to avoid the problems Geisler ran into by providing a definition or clarification of what you think the phrase "God exists" means?
This is a critical issue for one who follow's Tillich's theology. Tillich believed that the term "exist" pertains to contingent things. This in a technical sense God does not "exist," Although this should be construed as saying "there is no God." He equates God with being itself (in the Heideggerian sense). Thus he specifically refrains from referring to God as"a being." This is Langley a metaphorical stance,and thus Hartshorne got him to admit that on could say "God exits" in a metaphorical sense.[4] I generally avoid this discussion and use it that way because to technical to burden most people with, But not philosophers so i brig it up here.

The Tillich prohibition on saying God does not exist does not mean there is no God, God is real, God is the basis of reality the ground of being. God cannot be any less real and be the basis of reality; God is not an individual mind cut off off from other beings and localized as  humans or as biological organisms are. Now this may defy our understanding but I see now reason why we should understand the basis of reality.I also reject, as did Tillich, the suggestion this seems to some to raise that it is a from of pantheism. Tillich devotes a lot of  Time to the discussion of why this is not pantheism, he classifies it as panENtheism (emphasis mine). Pantheism is either a sum total of everything or a diafication of nature but in either case "God" would  be a thing in being. In This from of peanentheism God is the basis of being or equated with being, being itself. By the way,I prefer calling it ground of being,(GOB) that's the term I'll be using.

Mystical Experience

This concept is crucial to my argument, it is wrapped up with the being itself or ground of being notion.[5] The term does not imply visions or voices, it's not about miracles. it's not a trance. it's a from of higher consciousness similar to the effects of meditation, it can be achieved thorough meditation,or it can be spontaneous and is triggered by various forms of stimulation such as classical music or beauty, the sublime, and of course prayer. Many theologians, some anthropologists and psychologists think mystical experience is the basis of all religion.[6] It's the connecting link between the ground of being and a religious interpretation of reality, or deity,God ,the Holy, the mysterium tremendum .[7] This form of consciousness is designated by two aspects: (1) a sense of undifferentiated unity of all that is. (2) the sense off the numinous or (SON). That is to say, an all pervasive sense of total love and of presence. This will also be accompanied  by noetic effects the sense that postoperative information has been imparted.Not specific information but general such as:God is real,God loves you,: I am aware of the danger that this can be used as a magical king's X, I am determined not to use it in that way but to be responsible in meeting  burdens of argument.

For more information read my book[8] Article,
I wrote for an academic conference , summarizing the book [9]

Rational Warrant, not proof

I am not going to make any fancy definition for "warrant." It;s pretty obvious, take the phrase "that assertion is not warranted." What does warrant mean there? It means reason's permission to believe a thing either thorough logic or factual evidence, When an assertion is warranted there's a good reason to believe it. Rather than proving the existence of God I argue for the goal of providing a warrant for belief. A popular saying is often heard on the net: proof is for mathematics and whisky,

GOB = Ground of Being

SON - Semse of numinous

RCSN = Regular,Constant,Shared Navigation

Argument I: from Eternal Necessary aspect of being

1.All naturalistic phenomena is contingent and temporal

2. Some aspect of being must be eternal and necessary unless we are willing to accept existence ex nihilo

3. In contrast to Human infinitude the GOB evokes sense of the numinous

4. whatever evokes the SON is a valid object of worship, thus we are warranted in equating  Gob with God

5, Belief is warranted from 2 and 4.

Argument: II: From Epistemic Judgement

(1) we trust perceptions that work for us in navigating the world

(2) we judge by criteria: RCSN

(3) RE fits this criteria

(4 )enables navigation

(5) :. we are warranted to trust RE as indicative of reality since it meets the criteria ofepistemic judgement

Regular meaning it's not a fluke the same phenomena are always associated with the experience. consistent, meaning the same out come is obtained, Shared meaning inter-subjective, Navigation  meaning one can navigate in life by the experiences,


[1]  Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be, Yale University Press; 2 Sub edition., 2000, 186-90.

[2] __________,  
Systematic Theology, Vol 1, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957 

see also my article "What is Being Itself? )(This Time I've got it_)" Metacrock's blog

[3] Edwin Rolt in Joseph Hinman, "Super Essential Godhead" Metacrock's blog (May 3, 2016)

Original source for Rolt: 
Dionysius the Areopagite: on Divine names and the Mystical Theology, trans. Clearance Edwin Rolt , New YorkNew York: Cosmio 2007, from original 1920 publication.  see also online versionChristian Classics Ethereal Library, on line version, The Author and his Influence, trans by, 1920  website URL:  by
visited May 13,

[4] John M. Russell, "Tillich's Implicit Ontological argument," Sophia, Vol 32, No 2 (1993) 1-16.

[5] Tillich, Paul. A History of Christian thought, New York, NY:TouchStonme books. 1967

[6] Ralph Hood Jr. “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235., 127.
see also 
Walter T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, New York: Macmillan,1961,44.

Several other thinkers agree, 
Rudoph Otto (see below) and Huston Smith

[7] Stuart Sarbacker, "Rudolph Otto and The concept of the numinous," 

Christianity, Mysticism and Spirituality, Theology and Philosophy of Religion, Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology of Religion, Religion:  Oxford Research Encyclopedias, 
Online Publication Date:
Aug 2016  (accessed 5/28/17) 

[8] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of god,Rational Warramt For Belief, Colorado Spromgs: Gramd Viaduct. no page indicated.

available on Amazon"

[9] Hinman, "The Empirical Study of Mystical Experience," The Religious A proiri website (accessed 5/28/17) URL:
part 1:

Part 2:


Bradley Bowen said...

Before critically examining your first argument, I need to understand it better. I have attempted to restate that argument, but need further feedback and clarification from you about the meaning and structure of this argument. Here is my first post responding to your arguments supporting the view that God is real.

Bradley Bowen said...

Sorry, here is the URL for my initial response:

Joe Hinman said...