Friday, June 30, 2017

Economics of health care and the soul

CBS this morning, Rand Paul discusses the health care bill. He said a lot about the economics of it but the one thing missing from hi equation is the fact that it's about helping people who need medical care. One would think it;s about people buying a car, That's because Republican senators look at money differently than the rest of us. Take one example isolate one aspect of the bill. Let's take the issue of the 22 million who will lose their insurance under ''trump care."[1]

The republican's major  argument is that these guys will drop out because the Obama requirement to have insurance will be lifted.They wont be forced to buy it so they wont buy it.That means they are consumers making a decision not people in need of care who can't afford something. Here we see the fundamental difference in the way Republican senators look at money and the way ordinary people do,For Republican senators money is a tool which enables one to increase personal power, gain security agaisnt the trammels of the world, and procure pleasure for oneself. For working people ad poor people money is more like blood in your body or breath in your lungs. For the Senators one is makimng choices between options, choosing to spend. The issue is about choosing to spend. For the parents with a child who has cancer who owe $200,000 in meds there are no options either they have the money or they do not. That kind of money for most people can only come from insurance, and without a requirement to make the insurance people accept  pre-existing conditions a lot lot of kids will die, It's not a matter of choosing. They are not shoppers they are not medicals consumers.

The Senators heads are in economics text books and business culture that just does not view human need as part of the equation, It assets the spending of money is always a choice made by consumers who can choose between alternatives but for real people whose child will die the alternative is not there there. Two other attitudes of Paul's related to this issue also serve to illustrate the consequences of this kind of thinking. one is his assertion that they are not really cutting back medicaid. The other assertion he makes is that regulation increases cost of medical care and to get cost down and create the alternatives we have to end regulation. The lie that they are not cutting medicaid is because they don't count the medicaid expansion created when Obama care was past as really part of medicaid "proper." But this is just another example of how their thinking lacks real humans in the equation, read people are part of that expansion and they need it. Here they assert the tax incentives will help them to buy new insurance but most poor and working class people can't do anything with a tax incentive, you don't pay tax you have no tax incentive.

The idea that regulation increases cost is the result of that kind of negative thinking that comes from business culture. It's based upon money not made which is counted as lost. I estimated that I should make $40 million on some venture but undertaking it would mean regulation  will reduce my profit to 30 million,I've lost 10 million due to regulation. So i will run the price up to make up for the "loss." The truth is I didn't lose anything because it's not even done yet. The bottom line is real people are not shoppers they need medical care and that means they need issuance like we need blood. If we take away the mandate to buy insurance of course they will choose not to buy it because they need that money for other things. But they are not merely making an economic decision they are doing what they can to survive, often at the risk of dying due to illness. They are gambling with their health because they have no choice. The bill leaves things like pre existing condition up to the states,fora lot of states,such as my beloved lone star disaster, that means less money to cover people. Our governor just refused medicaid money. let them die.

It makes much more sense to fix Obama care and keep it than to scrap it and try to start over and please all the contradictory views, or as the Publicans have opted just leaving real human need out of the equation. They are really using the excuse of eliminating Obama care (a promise no one cares about now) as a cover for making more  tax relief for the rich. When questioned about that option it's really hiding tax relief in health care Senator Paul essentially admitted that's the case,

[1] Removing the mandate is not the only reason, others are given increased premiums

"But the budget office put Republicans in an untenable position. It found that next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law. Premiums and out-of-pocket expenses could shoot skyward for some low-income people and for people nearing retirement, it said.
The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade, the budget office said."


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Austin Cline's Attack on Religious Experience

Image result for william james
William James (1842–1910)

Atheist pundit Austin  Cline can often be found pontificating about religion on He has an article around religious experience as a God argument, [1] his prejudicial dismissal of the argument is tailormade for my new book, The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief, by Joseph Hinman (paperback, soon to be e book available on Amazon) to answer. First I want to clear the way by a knit pick. the phrase "Do we experience God's existence?" is an awkward and odd phrase. It's redundant because the only way we could actually experience God as a reality is if God is real, what we call "existing," thus even though this is a misuse of the term on his part according to Paul Tillich's theology [2] to experience God is to say that God is real and thus the idea that we are experiencing God's existence is just redundant. If we experience God as a reality then God must be real or we are not truly experiencing God's reality. We don't say that we experience the existence of things apart form experiencing those things. I've experienced losing my parents, I don't say 'I have experienced the existence of my parent's deaths.'

Be that as it may Cline opens his argument:

According to the Argument from Religious Experience, people have “religious experiences” — experiences of the supernatural, like heaven or angels or even a god. Because we believe other experiential claims people make — like that they went to the store or own a car — then we should believe these claims as well. It is also argued that when skeptics apply higher standards for claims based on religious experiences than they do for claims based on other experiences, they exhibiting a prejudice against religious claims. This prevents them from understanding and ultimately believing. 
 Here we see a totally inadequate understanding of religious experience. There is no sense here that religious experience is mystical experience or "peak" experience or that it is even a form of consciousnesses. He tries to justify the kind of dismissal tactics atheists use to reduce and mislabel religious experience. He's already demonstrated that he's mislabeling it. The understanding of super nature such that religious experience is "experience of the supernatural" is merely the modern enlightenment misunderstanding of the concept. Super nature is the power of God to raise human nature to a higher level (of consciousness) thus "the supernatural" is mystical experience. See my article "the Empirical Supernatural."[3]

 Cline bases his argument on the work of William James:

William James offers a classic version of this argument in his influential Varieties of Religious Experience. He argues that all normal persons have religious experience and, since experience is the final arbiter of truth, then God — as the object of religious experiences — must be accepted as factually true. James further observes that the religious experiences in question tend to have a profound effect on the lives of people and even whole societies, implying that such effects cannot reasonably be attributed to hallucinations. Instead, it is much more reasonable to believe that a real God is responsible for religious experiences than to attribute the profound effects of those experiences to a mere imaginary being. 
 As profoundly important as James still is in the study of religious experience, and this argument is good in so far as it goes, there are better and more updated versions of the argument. Notice he doesn't  take on William Alston, who is one of the major philosophers of religion of the late twentieth century. Nor does he deal with any of the modern empirical scientific data in favor of religious experience.[4] Cline decides to pick on James as the best example of the argument.

The first problem is in James’ assertion that “all normal people” have “religious experiences.” It is uncertain what exactly he means by this, but it is a much easier assertion to make than to support. If he means experiences of the supernatural — gods, angels, etc. — then he is wrong. If he means something much more vague, like that everyone has experienced awe when contemplating the universe, then he might be right but he isn’t supporting his claim.[5]

 I doubt that James said "normal people" I can't find where he did say it. I notice that Cline doesn't document  it. That could be crucial weather or not he ascribes it to normality. What he actually says is referenced by Wuthnow in his study (this can be seen in my book) where he says there is a continuum in experience that all people (I don't think he says "normal")

As far as the argument itself goes it is perfectly logical. We don't experience things that are not real. We could actually mistake experiences of one thing for another, so that must be answered. We might also have a false experience, that is hallucination or some other trick of the mind. These things are easily disproved in the case of mystical experience. The argument I sustain throughout the Trace of God is designed to answer this argument. The first answer I would give is:

 (1)  that I go to great lengths in my book to show that we habitually use a certain criteria for judging the reality of experience. The studies on religious experience, with the aid of Hood's M scale show us that religious experience of the mystical kind meets this criteria. Thus we must on principle accept it as real and trust it, or doubt our own existences.[6] This argument is made in a simpler way on my lis of God arguments, no. 8 "The Thomas Reid argument," or "Argument from epistemic judgment."[7] The criteria is that we judge experiences real if hey are regular, consistent, shared (inter-subjective) and enable navigation in the world. If other forms of counter causation are eliminated so that we can be fairly certain that we not experiencing falsely logic forces us to conclude that we are experiencing rightly and there is something there to be experienced.

(2) the effects of the experience of are real. I go to great lengths to show (see all of chapter 2) that the outcome of having such experiences is life life transformation, that is a bold dramatic positive long term life changing result. I further argue that long term positive changes consistently are indicative of reality. Pathological states, mental illness and delusion are degenerative, they bring us down and destroy us over time. Nothing false builds us up and is vital too our well being over a long term period. These experiences are transforming over the long term.

(3) At the end of Chapter 7 I present eight tie breakers. The "tie" is conceived of as between brain chemicals as the most likely explanation for the origin of the experience, vs. brain chemistry as merely God's tool for enabling us to experience his presence. That's a stand off it could be either option. The tie breakers tell us it makes much more sense to accept the latter as the most likely possibility.

(4) I also rule out placebo effects in chapter 7. placebo requires that one expect the desired result, but in that chapter I show several ways in which religious experience does not conform to expected norms but often surprises such that it is often unsought, unexpected, a conversion experience, or also it can contradicts cherished doctrines.[8] For some of the studies as much as half the sample received their experiences in childhood. I show that children are not hung up on doctrines so they are not expecting experiences to conform to doctrines. Yet they have these uniform experiences that indicates the experiences are really of  an objective reality.[9]

Cline sticks with his sustained attack against James.In any case his arguments are easy to answer if one knows Jame's  works. My understanding of James is only passing fair. In my book I bring together a much larger body of empirical work which has been done over the last 50 years, armed with this knowledge it is easy to pick off Cline's bromides. Cline refuses to think past cultural influence  and makes the argument that difference in religious traditions disprove the idea of one reality behind them all. Here's he's trying to play the old atheist divide and conquer game:

The second problem is in the variety of religious experiences: if there is just one God, why is there such wide variety in the reports of religious experiences? Indeed, they are mutually incompatible. They can’t all be true, so at least some must be false. How do we differentiate? What reasons can the religious believer give to accept her reports over the reports made by others? 
 I would argue that the studies on Hood's mysticism scale ("M scale") prove that mystical experience around the world is universally experienced in the same way. They are not conditioned by doctrines, even though they are explained by doctrines and culture that makes them seem different. When the explanation is ignored and the experiences themselves are compared they are the same. That means they have a good reason to assume they are experiencing something real, something objectively there (since it's not just a matter of culture of psychology). A more detailed version documented by Hood's M scale studies can be found on The Religious  a priori.[10]

 Cline asserts that there is no criteria that enables us to determine false from true experiences. While I agree that there is no criteria that proves the difference, I have already demonstrated that he's wrong in his assertion:

There are no independent criteria we can use to separate the genuine experiences from false or flawed experiences — not only in the reports of others, but in ourselves. The only criteria which might exist rely upon the validity of some religious system. For example, some argue that a religious experience which does not agree with the Bible is flawed or false — but since this ultimately assumes the truth of what is supposed to be proven, such criteria are unacceptable. 
There is a criteria that we habitually use to assert the reality of experience, we go by that criteria every time: regular, consistent, sheared, navigational. We don't think about it. We don't say to ourselves "I'm going to use that criteria" we just do it. If an experience is anomalous, it's not regular or consistent we assume it's bogus. If we experience things they same way all the time we assume it's normal and its alright. It's only the stuff that stands out as rare or one of a kind that bothers us. If we want confirmation of our view we seek it in others, "is it hot in here to you?" "Did you see that?" If it works we can live by it we assume it's true. Thus we don't stand on the freeway deliberating about Cartesian doubt we get out of the way of oncoming traffic. The studies on religious experience that are discussed in the Trace of God demonstrate that religious experiences fit that criteria thus we should trust them as indicative of reality.[11]

 From there Cline tries to disparage the link between the effects of the experience and an assumption of its truth aptness:

The third problem is in the idea that the profound effects these experiences have is any indicator of the truth. We can grant that people have some sort of experience and we can certainly grant that the experiences have a profound effect; but does this mean we must accept the reported content of these experiences — that they were of a supernatural nature? No. 
 Again he raises the false specter of the hijack version of the supernatural. Real supernatural--the original meaning of the term--referred to mystical experience not to some ookie spookie reality zone that houses all manor of stings that go "bump" in the night. Mystical experience is proved to be real. It is a real phenomena that people have such experiences and those experiences tend to have a certain effect upon the lives of those who have them. The atheists try to turn that phrase "SN" into some kind of badge of dishonor, the fantasy world one dare not believe in. In resorting to that ploy he is dogging the real issue that he himself raised, do these effects of having had such experiences indicate the truth of the object of experience? He says "no" based upon the proviso that it is indicative of the forbidden realm. But if we ask the question in terms of reality and the object of the experience we must say yes.

First of all atheists are inconsistent in that they will argue that the advantage of having an experience is not indicative of truth but then they turn around and affirm this very idea of science. Every time I ask atheists how do you know science is true? They always say "because it works, you are using a computer aren't you? Science produced that computer because it works." All hail science! In any case, so saying the affirm the principle that working is related to being true. This is one of my tie breakers in chapter 7. Then Cline dazzles us with more of his fallacious reasoning: "Real experiences that have a profound impact on a person can have completely natural sources without any divine connections."

That just illustrate the atheist misunderstanding of the true concept of SN and the way they use it as a ploy to ward off belief in God by lumping it into the forbidden zone of belief. They make still absurd dichotomy anything natural must lack God and could be the product of evolution. That is an assumption not in evidence. A Gambler getting 100 royal flushes in a row as random chance would be naturalistic but it would not be natural, it would be the greatest of flukes. God created the natural realm and he works in all the time. The assumption atheists make that if it's naturalistic then God can't be in it is absurd. That's why we need the tie breakers, because the naturalistic element of brain chemistry could go either way. It  could be indicative of a Godless origin or it could be God's tool in giving us a sense of his presence.

Yet Cline goes further he makes a foolish assertion that: "Mystical experiences can be reproduced in anyone, both with chemical substances and mechanical equipment. With this being the case, what reason is there to think that other reports actually stem from a supernatural, rather than a natural, cause?" Well if you really want to know:

(1) buy my book and read the end of chapter 7 for the eight tie breakers and you have eight different reasons to assume the answer to that.

(2) The assertion that religious experiences can be reproduced is not proved. There are tons of claims to that effect, but in the book I point out (ala Philosopher John Hick) that those researchers do not have a standard criteria for control in understanding what constitutes religious experience. They do not use the M scale or any other valid scale to determine this. [12] I analyze the Borg study which is hostile to religion and show that their standard is totally unsuited.[13] Because they do not use such criteria they cannot prove that ever produce religious experience. They merely take the presence of cultural icons of religion as indicative of religious experience but there's no sense of consciousness. As I have said dichotomizing between natural and SN is not a valid means of determining God's handiwork since God can work int he natural as easily as he can in the SN. Rather it is God's power to life us up to a higher state of consciousness that is Super nature. The basic state of such consciousness is a matter of fact, regardless of proof about it's origin.

Cline goes on dictonomizing:

If at least some of the alleged religious experiences are wholly natural, how do we separate them from the “truly” supernatural ones? Even if an experience changes the course of a society, that does not testify that the experiences had supernatural origins. At most, it might point to the persuasiveness of the believers or the appeal of the claims. 
 As I said already we do that by buying my book and reading the end of chapter 7 where I list the tie breakers. Then at the end of the article he takes on Swinebrune's argument:
Some, like Richard Swineburne, argue that the degree to which it seems to a person that something has happened should translate into the probability that something has happened. It is true that when people say that it seems to them that a chair is in a room that, therefore, we tend to accept that a chair is in the room. It is not true, however, that every time someone genuinely and seriously believes something, we also accept that whatever they believe is probably true.
We only accept this when it comes to more mundane things which we all have experiences of. When someone says that it seems to them very strongly that an elf is in the room, we do not accept that there is probably an elf in the room, do we?
 I don't argue Swineburne's argument. I've only read it one time. So I wont try to defined it here except to say that the condition of the argument seems to be the extent to which is seem that the person has actually experienced something. We are talking about warrant. If there is a warrant to believe this then there is no logical reason to discount it on face value. That doesn't mean one can't come up with an argument, it does mean the burden of proof is on the skeptic to show that the warrant is invalid and that there is good reason to doubt. Playing dichotomy game and hinting that "O no this leads to the forbidden zone of he SN" is not going to cut it. That is an ideological assumption that some aspect aspect of reality must be doubted because it is the aspect that it seems to be and and brings too close to God so we must doubt it.

At this point Cline leaves us with the most dubious argument of tall, that failure to obtain mystical experience is a reason to doubt it's validity.
 Even if we accept Swineburne’s argument, we must also accept that when people try to have an experience of a god and fail, that this is good reason to believe that a god probably does not exist. After all, it would be prejudiced to dismiss the experiences of nonbelievers but privilege the experiences of those who already believe.
This argument is open to immediate reversal because then one must accept results as indicative of truth. If this is the case then why don't successes reflect that reality of God? The fact that it works has to be understood as truth indicative. Moreover, if results are indicative the fact that the experience is transformative and that being such it fulfills the basic function religion promises to fill in the first place, offers a rational warrant for belief that it is true. I suspect that Cline based his argument upon the arrangements I make because his contains all the basic elements of mine but he didn't bother study how I defend them. Or that may be my own arrogance and conceit.

Either way the Trace of God, my book,  arms the church with a power body of scientific data that backs up this and all other experience based arguments. This work injects fiber into the content of experience arguments and no Christian ever need fear the atheists jibes about no facts, no God, atheism has science. Atheists have not touched these arguments in five years of battle on CARM. This book serves as a compendium that will enable anyone to defend experience arguments against all comers.


[1] Austin Cline, "Argument from Religious Experience:Do We Experience God's Existence?" no date listed.  accessed 6/27/14

[2] Tillich famously argued that we can' use the term "existence" in relation to God because exist is what contingent things do. God is being itself and thus is above the level of mere "existing." see Shaking of the Foundations, by Paul Tillich.

[3] Metacrock, "The Empirical Supernatural," The Religious a priori, no date given. accessed 6/28/14.

[4] Willam Alston,Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993, no page indicated. see also The Trace of God, the entire book is about this huge body of data that has heretofore been neglected by both atheists and theists.

[5] Cline, ibid.

[6] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God: Rational Warrant for Belief.  Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct Publishing.2014, see the whole of chapter 2.

[7] Metacrock, "8, on list of God arguments: The Thomas Reid Argument,"  Doxa, website,  accessed 6/27/14. 

[8]  Hinman,The Trace of God... op cit., 286-296.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Metacrock, "The M Scale and The Universal Nature of Mystical Experience," The Religious a priori, website, accessed 6/26/14.

 [11] Hinman, The Trace of God, op.cit, 103-127

 [12] Hinman, Ibid.,262-3, 306.

 [13] Ibid., 309

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see my book on religious experience,

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Ground breaking research that boosts religious arguments for God to a much stronger level. It makes experience arguments some of the most formidable.Empirical scientific studies demonstrate belief in God is rational, good for you, not the result of emotional instability. Ready answer for anyone who claims that belief in God is psychologically bad for you. Order from Amazon 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Preparation for my debate with Bowen

My friend Bradley Bowenn (of Secular Outpost) and I are going to debate the existence of God. Just a little fun thing to do,. These are questions he ask in order to better  understand my position.

my first argumemt:
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.

Questions for clarification asked by my opponent Bradley Bowen


What does it mean to say that an "aspect of being is eternal"?


There are only three alternatives for origin of all things given the assumption of cause and effect. They are (1) reality began in a state of nothing and something emerged from nothing, (2) There is an Infinite Causal Regression (ICR) that just happens to always be as a brute fact. (3) Something exists eternally that gives rise to all that is. for various reasons I reject 1 and 2. From the premise that something cannot come from true absolute nothing, something must be eternal and thus able to give rise to all that is not eternal. So at this point we have a distinction between the eternal which I might call "primordial being;" the first form of being, or "ground of being,"  and temporal being or "the beings." McQuarrie makes the distinction between primordial being and the beings.

I speak of it as an aspect of being because I want to avoid the assumption that it is a big man in the . want to use new models for thinking of "God" that don't play off of thinking of God as a magnification of a human king.

What does it mean to say that an "aspect of being is necessary"?

In this case, that of ultimate origin. I see necessary more in terms of causality, whereas Necessary is usually taken to mean x is necessary iff x must exist in the same way in all possible worlds. Another way to say it, if it cannot cease or fail to exist. I think that is also true of God, God is necessary in that way. But in thinking about ultimate origins I think that there is another implication that being eternal God is uncased and thus not the product of any conditions prior to himself. Moreover, being the eternal aspect of  being God is in some sense the necessary condition upon which all contingencies depend. In this case being necessary is an implication of being eternal.

What does the phrase "Ground of Being" mean?

Above I indicated that this is a synonym for Primordial being.  If I said "the original being" that would give the wrong impression, you might  think meant a localized entity. Below I will say more about the phrase ground of being with reference to it's history.


What do you mean by the word "God"?


Transcendental signifies are terms that refer to the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. Concepts that refer to the first principle that sums  and gives meaning to all other principles; the logos, the over soul, the one, God, "object of ultimate concern", the "omega point", the "Atmon." These concepts are hinting at a reality beyond our understanding. The Transcendental signified is that to which these terms refer. In my view that is reality to which the God alludes. It is more than a mere place holder because it can be experienced, (see my book The Trace of God). I conceive of this reality as universal mind, knowing that we don't really understand it well enough to define it and can barely study it. The reality of transcendental signified can be experienced so powerfully that the concept has a reality. But that;s the other argument. (More on the concept of universal mind here). 


What does it mean to say that something "is real"? (particularly when the something in question is not a physical object or a living animal)

That it actually exists, but necessarily tangible or material. It's not just an idea in the mnd.

Each of the three crucial claims in your argument is unclear, at least none of the three claims is clear to me. Given that your three main claims are unclear, at least to me, I am in no position to agree or disagree with any of those claims. They might be true or the might be false. They might be coherent or they might be incoherent. They might be meaningful or they might be words strung together with no actual significance.

which thee?
Please define your key words and phrases and explain the meaning of each of the three main claims. Once you have done so, I will attempt to evaluate the truth of those claims and the logic of your reasoning.


More on the history of the term "ground of being."

Discussing the concept of being itself on my message board and my dialogue partner introduced me to a  blog article written several years ago by an atheist who read this blog and was considering it, I like this guy because he's an atheist but links to my blog, I am the only Christian blogger he linked to at that time. This Guy, "Tocho" is the only  name I can see for him, struggled to thinkof what being itself might mean,
The conceptualization of God as 'Being Itself' was, to my knowledge, first proposed by theologian Paul Tillich in the early 20th Century. It has been brought to my knowledge by a thoughtful blogger, discussant, and professional theologian with the pseudonym Metacrock ( If you can get through his posts (sorry, Meta, your writing style is a bit... difficult), you'll find that they are extremely intelligent in nature and they actually pose even greater challenges to non-believers than the arguments of more well-known Christian apologists. His conception of God is fairly unique and has required substantial thought for me to comprehend it in a manner that enables me to write about it.[1]
 At least We know the guy is very perceptive, ;-) he get's that by my reckoning (that is Tillich's) God is not a being but being itself. He tries to understand what kind of thing being itself might be, Actually the concept goes back to the Platonic Christianity of the orthodox church [2]  Tillich seems to draw part of it from St. Augustine. [3]

He recognizes the serious nature of the problem, that is for a Christian who has a "personal relationship with God to think of God as being itself, which could hardly be a person in the conventional sense of the   wed is a difficulty, "These questions seem to me to be serious problems of this view, especially to professed Christians like Metacrock, who hold onto the idea of a personal God." [4] Yet this article was written in in 2011. I've made some progress in solving the problem since then, But let's follow the guy's reasoning. He resorts to a solution in the distinction between entities and properties. He figures God is not an entity but a perpetuity, the property of being. Now the two are related in that entities have properties but properties need not be entities, "An entity is 'a thing with a distinct and independent existence,' whereas a property is "an attribute, quality, or characteristic of something" [5] I think this is actually a very intelligent solution and what's even more perceptive he sees it as a language problem, he uses a linguistic difference to sort out the problem:
"The sky is blue." Most every English speaking person would understand what is being conveyed by this sentence. What it truly means is that the sky has the property of being blue. But, it could be interpreted incorrectly as "The sky and blue are synonyms." This, of course, is incorrect, and there is a category error involved in the logic behind the statement. "The sky" is an entity, whereas "blue" is a property. They cannot be the same thing.....The distinction between the conceptualization of God as "a being" and God as "Being Itself" is that the former treats God as a specific entity and the latter treats God as a specific property. A being is a type of entity, namely an animate one. The concept of God as "a being" holds that God is an entity with whatever properties the conceptualizer claims God to have. It is worth mentioning that this concept is not limited to the view that God is a "big man in the sky," as God doesn't need to be thought of as a being with a physical body or even a spatial existence. It just requires us to view God as a thing with properties. The concept that God is "Being Itself," however, does just the opposite — requiring us to view God as a essential property of all things as opposed to a thing itself...[6]
 He even works it out where this makes a dandy God argument, one i was once tempted to use:
"Being Itself" is an essential property of all entities. It, to the best of my understanding, can be defined as the property of existing. All entities must exist, by definition, and therefore, all entities have the property of existing. This makes the logical necessity of God seem self-evident, as the following syllogism demonstrates...:
  1. God is the property of existing.
  2. Entities exist.
  3. Therefore, God is.[7]
That would sure come in handy but there's a problem. I am sincere when I say that the solution he attempts is cleaver, intelligent, perceptive, but there is a problem.. Being is not a property. This is is basically the same mistake as the  one Kant, and latter Bertrand Russell, pointed out in arguing against the The ontological argument, in saying "existence is not a predicate."
 Kant, himself a theist, argued that the ontological argument illicitly treats existence as a property that things can either possess or lack. According to Kant, to say that a thing exists is not to attribute existence to that thing, but to say that the concept of that thing is exemplified in the world. The difference, and its significance for the ontological argument, are described below.[8]
Etinne Gilson, the Great Neo Thomist, tells us that being is an act.[9] I f the statement by Holt is right it's the act of exemplifying the concept of something namely being, Gilson tells us being is "the act par excellance." in other words God's act of being is the most significant, the greatest and the original act of being, It;s an eternal act. Now you might thin this makes it worse because how could God be an act? Things act, acts don't just do themselves, Here Tocho offers us a solution without realizing it. In his analysis of the phrase "the sky is blue: he says this could be taken literally the sky is synonymous with the color blue, of course the context rules that out. The sky, which is the unlimited expanse of space above the earth, appears blue from the surface of the earth, 
He is right in saying that entities have properties, properties don't act by themselves, At the same time there is no problem with God being an entity, as long as he is not a localized entity, That's the problem with big man in sky. This also means we have to recognize Tillich's language as metaphor. Saying being itself is a way of separating us from the idea of God as a being, one of many, localized and man-like). Tillich gives us a clue in discussing the fifth-Sixth century mystic pseudo-Dionysius the Aireopagite (around 500AD). Tillich and others filter it through Heidegger, saying God is being itself. In history of Christian thought Tillich interprets Dionysius to say God is the ground of everything, the super essential God beyond everything, inclining Platonic ideas and essences, he says Dionysius thought God is God beyond God (Ibid). That ties the Dionysian concept decisively to Tillich's view. The important thing to note is that these phrases, God beyond God, and ground of everything, are phrases Tillich uses to designate his concept of God. Thus He is clearly identifying Dionysius' idea with his own,He's trying to translate Platonic Christianity into modern existentialist ideas.[10]

If such is the case then it behooves us to understand Dionysius' concept. I have written about it om this blog.[11] The concept is that of universal mind. Translator Edwin Rolt explains:

The basis of their teaching is the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead (ὑπερούσιος θεαρχία). We must, therefore, at the very outset fix the meaning of this term. Now the word “Essence” or “Being” (οὐσία) means almost invariably an individual existence; more especially a person, since such is the highest type that individual existence can in this world assume. And, in fact, like the English word “Being,” it may without qualification be used to mean an angel. Since, then, the highest connotation of the term “Essence” or “Being” is a person, it follows that by “Super-Essence” is intended “Supra-Personality.” And hence the doctrine of the Super-Essential Godhead simply means that God is, in His ultimate Nature, Supra-Personal.
Now an individual person is one who distinguishes himself from the rest of the world. I am a person because I can say: “I am I and I am not you.” Personality thus consists in the faculty of knowing oneself to be one individual among others. And thus, by its very nature, Personality is (on one side of its being, at least) a finite thing. The very essence of my personal state lies in the fact that I am not the whole universe but a member thereof.
God, on the other hand, is Supra-Personal because He is infinite. He is not one Being among others, but in His ultimate nature dwells on a plane where there is nothing whatever beside Himself. The only kind of consciousness we may attribute to Him is what can but be described as an Universal Consciousness. He does not distinguish Himself from us; for were we caught up on to that level we should be wholly transformed into Him. And yet we distinguish between ourselves and Him because from our lower plane of finite Being we look up and see that ultimate level beyond us. The Super-Essential Godhead is, in fact, precisely that which modern philosophy describes as the Absolute. Behind the diversities of this world there must be an Ultimate Unity. And this Ultimate Unity must contain in an undifferentiated condition all the riches of consciousness, life, and existence which are dispersed in broken fragments throughout the world. Yet It is not a particular Consciousness or a particular Existence. It is certainly not Unconscious, Dead or, in the ordinary sense, non-Existent, for all these terms imply something below instead of above the states to which they are opposed.[12]
So the answer is God is universal mind and the act of being in which that participates is the ground of all being. Tillich used the phrases interchangeably but I  think ground of being is more meaningful because less misleading, since it implies an act apart from an actor.


[1] Tocho, Logocal implications of God as being itself. Reasonable Soup

Tuesday, (March 15, 2011) Blog URL:

[2] Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity. New York:Penguin, 1964, 65.
[3] Paul Tillich, Theology of Cultuire , Lomdon, Oxford NewYork Oxford University press, 1959,12-13.
[4] Tocho, op cit
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Tim Holt,  "Existence is not a Predicate," Philosophy of Religion 


[9] Etinne Gilson, God and Philosophy, New Haven,London: Yale Diversity Press, Powell Lectures On Philosophy at Indiana State University Second Edition, 1941. 63-64.
[10] Paul Tillich, A History of Christian thought, New York, NY:TouchStone books. 1967, 92
[11] Joseph Hnman. "The Super Essential Godhead (God is Being Itself),"Metacrock's Blog (TUESDAY, MAY 03, 2016) URL)
access i/10/17

[12] 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,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Obama tried to stop Putin

see my political blog Resistance is not futile: Land Mark article in Washington post Obama tried to stop Putin influencing the elections,

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Schleiermacher and the Feeling of Utter Depedemce

  photo friedrich-schleiermacher--874--t-232x250xffffff-rw.jpg
 Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

 In the Recent past I published a piece called "Phenomenology and Theological Method."  That was about how we can use phenomenological methods to understand various kinds of religious experience as the "co-determinate." That is the signature of God in the world. Like a foot print in the snow, or a fingerprint at a crime scene the co-determinate is the thing that correlates to the evidence. God is the co-determinate of religious experiences. Conversely religious experiences are the co-determinate of God. They are the trace,t he foot print, the track. God is not an empirical issue becuase he's not given in sense data, but we can establish that religious experience is the correlate to the God concept, thus its co-determinate it's trace. The correlate is a matter of  empirical data.

This concept comes from Frederick Schleiermacher, whose concept of the feeling of utter dependence was the first indication of the trace, it is one of those kinds of experiences that forms the co determinate. He first unveiled this notion in On  Religion: Speeches to It's Cultured Despisers. [1]The early version of the feeling was very crude. It went this: I know God must be real because I feel love for him when I pray to him." By the time he wrote the huge tome Glaubenslehre (the Christian faith)[2] He had a much more sophisticated version of it. First I'm going to try to communicate my simplistic understanding of that and then talk about it in a more complex way.

When people hear "feeling" they often make the mistake of thinking that he's saying something like God makes me feel good so there must be a God. I've seen major theologians make the mistake of assuming he meant this kind of feeling. It was the notion of Dr. William S. Babcock (Perkins school of Theology SMU) when I took his history of doctrine class, that he mean something more along the lines an intuitive sense. I have discussed this with Babcock many times through out the years. When hear utter dependence they think it's control or an unhealthy sense of need. What I think he was getting at there is more on the order of contingency.  It's really more like we sense the unity in the world around us. We sense the unity in the world but then we also sense it's dependence upon some higher basis. So the unity is pinned to a higher necessity. In a sense it's like  feeling the realities that the cosmological argument only speculates about, in action. We catch the basis of cosmological necessity as it does it's thing.

The sense of the feeling is found in reflection but is of an intuitive nature.  It's much like Heidegger describes being, as "ready to hand." Like a carpenter who doesn't have to think about using his tools, he uses them as extensions of his hands because he's so use to them they are part of him. So our place in being is so a part of us we don't think about it. "Life world," or Labeinswelt is a term used in German philosophy. It implies the world of one's culturally constructed life, the "world" we 'live in.' Life as we expeirence it on a daily basis. The unity one senses in the life world is intuitive and unites the experiences and aspirations of the individual in a sense of integration and belonging in in the world. As Heidegger says "a being in the world." Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuitive sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher reality, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuitive sense of "radical contingency" (in the sense of the above ontological arguments).

He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesn't depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the per-given per-theoretical per-cognitive realization of what Anselm sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

There is a "co-determinate to the Feeling of Utter dependence.

"It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical inter subjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognative for if the life world praxis is non-cognitive and invalid so is theoretical cognition..S...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned solely by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as S...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic"] or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a correlation with its whence."[3]

Schleiermacher is often called the Father of liberal theology. He moved belief over from an intellectual position buttressed by argument, to a phenomenological realization grounded in experience and one's own existential realization and thus freed belief from the need to prove. This is why liberal theological types usually don't worry much about arguments for God. They don't think arguments are necessary. They weren't for them. In class I said we are freed from the need to prove the existence of God, Babcock stopped me there and said "say it again" this time when I go tot "need to prove" he said "just stop there." We are freed from the need to prove.

Atheists are obsessed with the need to prove. You can't believe anything unless its proven. There are deep ways of knowing and they are afraid of them. They label them "subjective" and try to stay away from them. Although I think if they faced the truth they would have to come to terms with fact that their faith that scinece will one once and for all free us from the big mean angry God is the same subjective sense of seeking a deep assurance that transcends proofs on paper. I don't think they will ever get it. The fact that they reject looking for it says that they will never find it.

It's not exactly mystical experience. It's something one can sense on a quite evening listening to the sounds of traffic from while sitting in the garden. It's a realization of a reality that we sense at some level all the time. It's more akin to an eastern appraoch than a Western. That's not to say that eastern mediation is just wool gathering. The feeling of utter dependence is not something one can apply in a formulaic way as one does meditation. It's just there, we can realize it's presence. One of the primary concerns of Schleiermacher was that religion not be reduced to other aspects such as knowledge. Religion is not jumped ethics or failed primitive knowledge. It's not about knowing more stuff it's about transformative experience. Certain forms of knowledge are an outgrowth or side effect of that. The kind of knowledge it gives us is exitential and phenomenoloigcal.


[1] Frederick Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Dispisers

construction of the doctrine of God.

[2] ___________________. Glaubenslehre (the Christian faith). James Duke Trans. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Google books version

[3]  Robert R. Williams, Schleiermacher the Theologian: Construction of the Doctrine of God. Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press, 1978.  4.

on Amazon

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren shared U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders's photo.

21 hrs
Health care for 23 million Americans is on the line in the next 2 weeks. Join U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and me for this powerfully important discussion.

daily action alert

H.E.L.P. is AWOL.
If both of your Senators are Democrats, today's Daily Action is to call the GOP members of the Senate's Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (or HELP) Committee at (844) 904-7411 and demand that they do their job and commit to holding public hearings on the healthcare bill.
Call them out for the secrecy of this bill-writing process - this secrecy is only possible because they have obeyed Mitch McConnell and refused to do the job they were sent to Washington to do.
Call them out for making Senate history because in the history of the Senate there has never been a committee that has failed to hold a single hearing on legislation of this magnitude when that issue was clearly within their jurisdiction.
Call them out for failing at bipartisanship. Several members of this committee have gone on TV to "talk the talk" on how a bipartisan solution would be ideal -- but the very reason why they are refusing to go through the Committee process is because the Committee is bipartisan.
Call them out for being hypocrites - they went on and on about the immaturity and irresponsibility of the House process and are doing the exact same thing themselves.
And finally, at the END of the call, ask them why we need this Committee in the first place? Because if we can tackle major healthcare legislation without the Committee, it's a frivolous body that should be dissolved.
The Senate Majority Leader earns an Upside-Down Pinocchio for his shifting rhetoric on passing health-care legislation.