Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Christians Wake Up!

Washington's Farewell

I have not read this book.[1] I just saw the author, John Avlon,  on Late Night, with Stephen Colbert. If the guy writes like he talks he should be engaging. The point is Washington saw a coming evil that threatens us today and he warned against it in his fair well speech. That evil in partisanship or tribalism, a greater loyalty to the party than to the nation. Washington never joined a political party he feared that as people gave to their allegiance to parties a demagogic would rise up and claim power the allegiance to a party name. Truth, honor, and ideals would all be superseded by party loyalty. Now I have not read the book so I will depart from the book but that is my premise, I see this happening in the modern age,

Roy Moore has been exposed as a child molester, yet the Evangelical Christians of Alabama support him all the more. [2] It wasn't that long ago that just the accusation would take him out of the race. Since they've already accept the principle of men with no principles being men of God, with Trump, why make an exception now? The upporters reiect the allogatiospartly because they are ecgionedinlieralnewssources, Partly because the just refuse to accept them[3]

Now we fund that education has no power to communicate truth, That;right we find now education just mean sophisticated excuses,

A new study shows that the more education conservatives gain the more omitted they are to denying climate change. Directly contradicting Trump administration propaganda on climate "13 federal agencies an exhaustive scientific report in Friday that says human are the dominate cause of global temperature rise that ha created the warmest period in the history of civilization. [4] This is the Climate Science Special Report [5]

Rather than changing republican' minds,however, this knowledge only serves to make them more committed  to denial. [6]
But there is little reason to think that yet another scientific report will fundamentally shift attitudes on global warming — either among policymakers or the public at large. Researchers have found again and again that attitudes about climate change are shaped far more profoundly by political ideology or by comfort with proposed solutions to global warmingthan they are by the science itself. The latest climate report, written by scientists in 13 federal agencies as part of a congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, says little that hasn’t been said in countless reports over the past decade. Its major conclusions are virtually identical to those of a federal assessment published in 2014: Global warming is real, caused by humans and its impacts are being felt across the United States, from increased heat waves to greater flooding risks along the coasts.[7]

Wahington 's theory needs tweaking. Party allegiance is declining. [8]People are replacing party with ideology. Core Trump supporters were willing to destroy the party for the spreader of the ideology. But the party faithful have associated the party with God for so long they just support it at all cost even going down with the ship. "Ultimately, since the 1960s, American conservatism has increasingly exhibited the traits of religious fundamentalism. When politics is treated as a type of religion, and then combined with the rituals of worship and scripture in the form of evangelical Christianity, a type of hallucinatory ideology is created. This has become a form of political cultism; its power and hold over those caught in its ecstasy and passion cannot be easily broken."[8]

Remember the lost? the guys we were supposed to seek and save? They became the enemy then they became those we we hate and seek to kill. To the world the evangelical movement just makes the cross and the Gospel look like a hypocritical fantasy that was doomed to failure. We live in an age in which people dig into ideological positions and truth be damned.


[1] John Avlon, Washington's Farewell The Founding Father's Warning to Future Generations.New York: Simon Schuster, 2017, no page mdicated.
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[2] News Desk, "Roy Moore's Supporters Stand by Their Candidate." The New Yorker, (Nov 9, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[3] Johna Goldberg,"Roy  Moore's Supporter Don't Want the Allegations to Be True So They Don't Beleive Them," The Los Angels Times, (Nov 13,2017).
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[4] Lisa Friedman and  Glen Thrush, "U.S. Report Says Humans Cause Climate Change,Contradictin Top Trump Contradicting Top Trump Officials" (Nov 3,2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[5] Climate Science Special: Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA 4) vol. I
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[6] Kevin Quealy, The More Education Republicans Have The Less then tend To Believe in Climate Change, (Nov 14, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

[7] Brad Plumer, "A Climate Science Report That Change Minds? Do 't Bet on It" The New York Times, (No 4,2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)
[8] Chauncy Devega, "The Toxic Ideology at the heart of Evangelical's Alliance With Republican Party" Alternete (August 10, 2017)
(accesssed 11/10/17)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Atheists Hide in the Gaps

Image result for Metacrock's blog leap of faith

This was written in 2010 when I was still posting on CARM, Many of the reference are to CARM posters of the day,

I started this thread on CARM. (remember CARM therads are backwards so go to the last page to see the beginning). The atheist responses have been predictable if not furious and angry, but the  funny thing is not a one of them has actually addressed the issue. The concept is simple, there's always a gap in knowledge, there's always a need for a leap of faith. The only question is how wide is the gap, can we narrow it with conventional forms of knowledge (logic, science, reason, yada yada yada)? The punch line is the atheists assume as long as there is a gap there's a reason not to believe. Yet, there is always a gap, so they are hiding in the gap because they not only have o intention of bridging it, but they actually against the attempt.

I always use the concept of a diving board for the leap of faith. Its' an amusing metaphor based upon real life childhood experiences of going up the high dive ladder with good intentions and brave heart, and coming back down the high dive ladder having decided that more manly aspect of leaping is not leaping. This always came after a long period of deliberation about the nature of faith and the lack of necessity of leaping, conducted at the end of the high dive board, shivering and shaking from fear with a long line of agitated older kids behind me going "come on and jump!" That's when I became an existentialist, that moment. I decided it was much more important to understand and deal with the angst of being a kid stuck on a high dive than to jump! I use this metaphor to represent my arguments. No argument will eliminate the need to make the leap but perhaps some can get us out there further on so we narrow the gap. Or lower the board.

There's always a gap where one must make a leap of faith. You can reduce the gap or it can grow wide, but there is always a gap. Even in what atheists take to be rock solid proved scientific facts there is a gap. If you look in the right place, usually do some epistemology, every source of knowledge and every rock solid fact has a gap where we don't know and we have we must bridge the gap with a leap of faith.

We solve most gaps with a make-piece system of accepting what works and moving on. That's part of Heidegger notion of "ready to hand" in the discussion of the nature of being. What that means is bridging the gap with what works and making the leap of faith are so much a part of what we take for granted about life we don't even know we do it.

Atheists use the gap as an excuse to shun belief in God. We see this being done now in the thread about certainty. The atheist wont to pretend his world view is based upon "fact" and faith is some stupid thing only fools resort to. When we use answers that work, which fit the common criteria by which we judge reality, the atheist balks and demands absolute proof a standard even scinece doesn't pretend to.

you are hiding in the gap. you are using the fact of a gap to pretend that faith is somehow sub standard and that doubt is some kind of answer to truth.

The early responses just asserted the all sufficiency of scientific outlook to tell us what's what, really this amounts to gap denial.  From "Big Thinker" (contrasting his name to that of my friend Tiny Thinker, Tiny is one of the most Brilliant people I know, and their names are the inverse of their abilities).

Typically, the atheist's position is based on fact, its based on what is known. This contrasts with the believer's position that is founded on faith. The believer's position is based on possibility and speculation. The believer's gap is HUGE, their conclusion are unfounded and (ironically) unwavering. The atheist who's position is based on known facts is not emotionally committed to any particular idea but rather to an honest and critical assessment of the existing facts.

This is the same guy who said my 200 studies can't be any good because no academic would ever make a study showing that religious experience was good for you because it clearly isn't. when I pointed out that these were published in academic journals and done by real academics, not theologians and not religious publications he asserted that none of them were double blind. When I put down a link to a textbook written by the major researcher, Ralph Hood Jr. Of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the definitive article on the "M" scale which is the control mechanism for knowing if religious experience is valid, this stalwart defender of scinece refused to read the article, he would not click on a link and asserted that it wasn't scientific. He has no knowledge of the body of work, he has not read one word about what the field says of Hood or his M scale (I've talked to enough shrinks of religion to know that they regard him highly). When push comes to shove this guy has no regard for scinece, and no faith in scinece at all, no understanding what is and what is not scinece. All he's doing is working on prejudices and stereotypes.

In fact what he's doing is a perfect example of hiding in the gap. Almost all atheist arguments are argument from incredulity "I refuse to ever believe no matter what the evidence, therefore, it can't be true because if it was true I would believe." It's a form of circular reasoning.  In asserting this sort of sceitnism he's actually illustrating hiding in the gaps.  He's really saying "if there's a gap it's an excuse not to make the leap becuase there's a gap and I'm opposed to leaps of faith of any kind." Of course, his alternative is a selective pretense that only regards that which backs his view as "real scinece."

Super Genyus says (see link above):

There's no such thing as a "rock solid proved scientific fact." All scientific knowledge is tentative and conditional. Why you would need faith to say, "There is strong and copious amounts of evidence to suggest X being an accurate representation of reality," is beyond me.

Of cousre there's not "rock solid proof" that's my whole point. There is always a gap and always a leap of faith no matter what the issue. Even scientific hypothesis requires some leap of faith, however small it may be. Why we need faith to say something is reality is precisely because of what he said, all hypothesis are tenuous. What he's doing is to say first there is no such thing as solid proof, secondly, we can take evidence as solid proof if it's strong enough. That's fine, but what's strong evidence. It's apparently evidence that supports their view and not mine. If it supports mine it's not scientific and suddenly bad evidence. Look at the hypocrisy of this answer in relation to the next two issues that come up. The issue is no rock solid proof in scinece but we can accept strong evidence in place of proof (which is exactly what I say in m rational warrant argument--God is not proved but belief in God is rationally warranted).

the very next statement he makes:

This is generally not the case. We, generally speaking in terms of your most common arguments, just don't see how an explanation "working" to improve one's well-being relates to "working" as an explanation of reality. They are two separate criteria.

He's talking about 200 empirical studies that all basically say religious experience is real good for you and will transform you life (change dramatically for the better).  Not only do they not have one study but they refused to look at the text book chapter explaining all about the studies. In two years of putting that link up time after after time (well over a hundred) one of them has actually claimed to look at at it and I'm certain he did not read the whole chapter because he still doesn't know what the M scale is. He asserts just being good for you isn't evidence but why wouldn't it be? The claim is that God wants to save you, to renovate your life and make your life better. We find that experiencing God's presence actually does that. That seems pretty much like validation for the number one claim religion makes to be true, so why would that not be a rational warrant for belief? Strong evidence is warrant when ti backs atheism. Not when it backs God belief?

Is 200 studies strong evdience? Air Bags were deemed proven by four studies. Naturally the quality of the studies matter but 200 is a heck of a lot of studies, and none of them have managed in two years to dig up a valid methodological problem. This is proof of what I say that the atheist admiration for science is totally selective and ideologically driven. Also note the contradiction, one says the atheist position is "fact" (even though they can't find a single "fact" that disproves the existence of God) the other one says there are no rock solid proofs in scinece, it's all tentative. Yet, despite this contradiction they both take the very same position with regard to counter evidence that challenges their world view. They are both hiding in the gap. When the gap is in terms of their view it's trivial and can be traversed easily or it's just not there at all, when it's in terms of belief in God then it's a huge chasm that can never be bridged.

The poster Crockoduck (that's his screen name) get's into it:

So miracles actually remove the need for faith. True? In the Bible, God went around demonstrating his power all the time even when it wasn't necessary. Like when God took pot shots at the defeated and fleeing Amorite army:
Joshua 10:10 The LORD threw them into confusion before Israel, who defeated them in a great victory at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the LORD hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky, and more of them died from the hailstones than were killed by the swords of the Israelites. [emphasis his]
So why can't he do some miracles today?

I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove. It's begging the question on miracles, assuming there are none without consulting the evidence. It looks more like a gratuitous opportunity to throw rocks at the Bible. A lot of atheists have been conditioned by fundamentalism to think that if there's anything wrong with the Bible then God id disproved. I think most atheists see through that but not all. Still it introduced the issue of miracles into the thread which became a huge argument and joke. Joke because the poster "Paradoxical" (that's his screen name, I guess "Metacrock"Is not one to make fun of screen names) continued to assert the same untruths against the shrine at Lourdes as though extraneous issues disprove miracles. I talk about Lourdes, that it has strict rules and doctors on the committee. Paradoxical talks about people spend their life savings to go to Lourdes, how cruel of God to lure people to that one place, take their life savings, then not heal but a tiny handful. I document with sources such as the Marion Newsletter that this is simply not the case. No one has ever claimed that God will only heal at Lourdes, that is not the deal. If one can't make it to Lourdes the water can be brought to them.

Then of course he cuts lose on the committee. They are all lackeys who work for the Vatican. The RCC has taken lots of measures to assure the autonomy of the committee. They are not paid, that is not their job. It's true that many of them loyal Catholics but they also use skeptics on the committee. He continually asserts these things over and over again as though I said nothing, and I'm quoting sources. Of course he also asserts other prayer studies have proved inconclusive so in his mind that is a complete disproof of God or miracles. That is an incredibly illogical conclusion. All that can really prove is that the study itself was inconclusive or that the double blind type of study is bad for prayer because outside prayer can't be controlled for. For example no one was healed in the experimental group above natural cure rate (even with the control group). Does that mean there's no God, or that God didn't want to heal anyone that time? How do we know no one outside the study prayed and that's why they weren't healed. So that's still an issue of control group. We can't control for outside prayer. I used to argue for those studies there 14 of them which are good and show results, but this one was suppossed to be the best.

Yet the Lourdes evidence is quite different. That is empirical evidence. the Xray shows the lung grew back over night. That is not remission, nothing grows back over night, lungs never grow back. Lungs that far gone (in the case of Charles Ann was not really a  Lourde's case but a saint making miracle) do not remit. That statistically never happens. That it did happen make it automatically a candidate for miraclehood. That's totally different than the controlled double blind study which just relays upon statistical averages. Yet Pradoxical seems to think these externalizes issues about how the shrine is run and allegiance of the doctors are germane to the evidence, and he doesn't even consider the xrays. Such concern with scientific fact!

What's really going on is he's hiding in the gaps too in a way. They are all saying "there's some kind of  gap in knowledge of the God element and as long as there is belief is totally unreliable. Yet their view, which they contrast as "factual" also has gaps but those gaps they write off as trivial, based upon selective evidence that just excludes anything that disproves their views. That's what I call "hiding in the gap!"

There's also an interesting epistemological problem with miracle hunting but I'll consider that net time.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Has Trump Saved the Economy? No!

On CBS this Morning (this morning--Nov. 10,3017) a focus group with Trump supporters revealed that every one of them redirected the propaganda  line that Trump has saved the economy. They really believe that Trump's deregulation and his confidence has created the upturn in the stock market and that created the upsurge in employment, this is manifest bunk, Back in 2012 I read prediction that two million jobs would be added to the economy over the next few years, Jobs are indicative of a growing healthy economy,Let's look at some of those predictions:

See my Resistance blog, Resistance is not futile

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Tie breaker: God cannot be a brute fact

Image result for metacrock' blog God

This is called Tie-breaker because it moves us past the log jam that results in saying God is uncased and timeless always has been always will be with cause, vs. the atheist argument that this is no better than  just saying the universe happens to be here for no reason. My friend Eric Sotnak, who has a great gift for sarcasm that is not lost on me, set's it up as a matter of brute facts. There is a huge literature on brute facts but I wont go into it because I don't have time and I'm no expert. A brute fact is a thing that exists for no higher purpose, it has no reason for being it just is. [1] Now some will argue that brute facts can have physical causes or not. Since we have no examples of anything in nature that has no cause that just leaves and the universe as a whole. So the comparison between atheism and theism is between  God who has no cause vs a universe that has no reason for being weather it has a physical cause o not Having no reason means it could as easily not be. Sotnak turns this into an argument agaisnt the existence of God, but couches it in terms of God as a brute fact:

Traditionally, theists have felt extremely uncomfortable with the idea of a “brute fact” – that something could have just happened without explanation. Instead, they have committed to variations on the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR).I think the main reason for this is that they know quite well that without PSR, they will have no way to rule out the hypothesis that maybe the universe is just a brute fact (no God required).But I think theists could comfort themselves a bit by shedding their anxiety about this. Imagine a conversation like this between a theist (T) and an atheist (A):

A: I think the universe is a brute fact.T: Not I. I think it was made by God.A: But then where did God come from?T: God is an eternal brute fact.A: How does that make you better off than me, then?T: Well, while no logical proof of God’s existence is possible, I have subjective or existential reasons for being a theist. It seems to me that I can feel the presence of God in the laughter of my children, for instance. For me, theism helps me to make sense of the world and comforts me with the hope that death isn’t final.A: But if God is a brute fact, that means he could, logically speaking, have failed to exist.T: Yup. So I feel extra lucky that he does.
Since God cannot fail to exist (definition of  necessary),that is an intrinsic part of the definition of God; then to say God is a BF in this sense is to say there is no God. One might believe in a demoted god who is not the God but a sort of very power strange being we don't know about. Zeus or something. This is why we need a tie breaker because there is a supposed tie between God as BF and the Universe as BF. God cam't be abrute fact and still be God in the Christian sense. Yet there is this seeming tie between un-caused God and uncaused universe. We have to do this in such a way that the universe can't be withouut a cause and God who has no cause cannot be a brute fact.

To break the tie we just need to distinguish between the two kinds of un-caused nature. The argument is going to turn-on the concept of a BF. The nature of God's un-caused state is not the same as the nature of BF. To be a BF a thing must have no connection to a higher purpose. God can't have a purpose higher than himself but he can have a purpose higher than mere brute facticity. Semantically the two are different, Brute facts have higher purpose, God has asaiety not brute facticity. That it is part of the definition of what God is that he eternal and necessary. It's not part of the definition of the universe that it exists. That's existence as a predicate. On that basis Bertrand Russell ruled out the ontological argument. Existence is not a quality to be defined as part of the object, "I have one of those brick houses it;s the kind that exists." That goes beyond the semantic aspect and it can be understood in terms of the nature of being.

God is being itself of the ground of being.[2] The universe is not the ground of being. Even if it has no cause and has always existed the universe cannot be called the ground of being without attaching to it some higher sense of special nature such that we can think of it ass "holy being." But before we do deifying the universe there is no reason to assume that the universe is eternal or uncased. If it was, if we could call it God there would be a God and atheists would be wrong , even if Christians were wrong too. We can eliminate that possibility.  We know the universe is not eternal [3] and It did not pop out of nothing.[4] The rea contest is between a meaningless accident that somehow came to be for no reason with no higher purpose ,which we call "the universe" vs.  the ground of being or holy being which eternal, necessary (could not have failed to exist) and eternal cohere's within the infinite folds of a core purpose upon which the all existence coheres. That is not  purpose higher than itself but is it;'s own purpose (that the universe doesn't have). 

Now I hear the question "so what is God's big purpose?" God is not just being itself but as such is being por soir. Jean-Paul Sartre's term meaning being for itself. The alternative is being in itself. (en soir). In itself is inanimate (universe) and for itself is conscious and purpose; the purpose is set by God's nature which is love. Love is the will to the good of the other. Being for itself means it has will, volition and purpose. That purpose is to love to create more being and to provide for the good of such being. That is going to open a lot questions about the nature of life and theodicy, that has to wait for another time, This breaks the tie because it gives God a  purpose, self authorized, which the BF doesn't have.

a couple of notes on Eric's dialogue:

A: I think the universe is a brute fact.T: Not I. I think it was made by God.A: But then where did God come from?T: God is an eternal brute fact.

No that is the wrong answer. He misidentifies aseity as brute fact which it is not. God has a purpose and is self perpetuated, the universe has no purpose and is not perpetuating itself. It has nothing to do with its own existence. Now we come to Eric's real gift of sarcasm:

T: Well, while no logical proof of God’s existence is possible, I have subjective or existential reasons for being a theist. It seems to me that I can feel the presence of God in the laughter of my children, for instance. For me, theism helps me to make sense of the world and comforts me with the hope that death isn’t final.
That's mockery of mystical experience, Yes God ks beyond our understanding, All the things we say about god are either very limited or metaphorical. The fact is the life transformation chances are proven fact established by 200 or more empirical scientific studies in peer reviewed journals. For more on this see my book The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman, on amazon.[5]

A: But if God is a brute fact, that means he could, logically speaking, have failed to exist.T: Yup. So I feel extra lucky that he does.

That would be a conceptual contradiction at the heart of the God concept, thus no God. Such is not the case.

[1] There's a problem with the definition of a brute fact. Different philosophers have different definitions. Atheist from is at work. the definition is changed from the way I learned it (no reason for being) to a definition that has to include god (something we can't explain)I disagree, I don't that as a BF. God being beyond understanding and explainable for that reason is totally different than saying "X just just happens to be for no reason." The chief difference is for the one the could be a reason we just don't understand it,for the other there is none, The fact of a purpose involved with God as being i think breaks the tie

[2] Ground of being is a concept made famous by Paul Tillich and other theologians, I've written about it vociferously. It basically amounts to saying God is the basis of reality. My A"Introduction to Paul Tillich's Existential Ontology" Metacrock's Blog

[3] Quentin Smith, “The Uncased Beginning of the Universe.” The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science, (1988, Vol., 55, no. 1), 39-57.

[4] Joseph Hinman, "Quantum Particles Do not prove universe from Nothing," The religious a priori, website URL:
accessed 7/23/16

[5] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God:Rational Warrant for Belief. Colorado Springs:Grand Vidaduct, 2014.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Divine Simplicity: How Do We Know God is Simple?

Image result for Metacrock's blog, God is simple

In the last couple of posts I refereed to Dawkis as using the wrong concept of simplicity. complexity in arguing that God has to be complex, Our resident loyal opponent, "Skeptical," took exception, Apparently it's insulting atheists to disagree with them. In the pursuance of this discussion "Skepie" asked a question that suggested a dandy topic, "how do we know God is simple?" The reason this is so great as a topic is because it fits right in with my scheme of illustrating the explanatory power of the God concept. Understanding why God why we should think of God as simple is more than just an answer to Dawkins it also illustrates the justification for my rational warrant idea. I don't prove the existence of God I show that belief is rationally warranted.

Dawkins is working against what he takes to be the most popular pro God arguments (one of the weakest) the monkey’s-writing-Shakespeare-by-accident argument. He couches it in terms of assembling a a 747 from a scrap yard by means of a hurricane.  The creationist, whose argument is revises, couches his argument in terms of finding some living creature who is too improbable to be assumable by accident. Improbability means complexity. The more complex something is the less likely it is to be assembled by accident. The creationist equates improbability with design. Dawkins points out that it’s not the Darwinians who are trying to get “something for nothing,” so to speak, in assuming that complexity could come about undersigned, but the creationists are seeking the “free lunch,” simply because they don’t recognize that “however statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by evoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the ultimate Boeing 747.”[1] Dawkins takes this assumption through the entire book. The view of God that he’s attacking is obviously that of a big man. It may be couched as “big mind” or even “universal mind” but it’s still an entity, a thing, something that has to consciously calculate or deliberate about what it’s doing. Never does he stop to consider that he might have the wrong idea of God. He spends long pages droning on and on about consciousness raising and implying that creationists are stupid and feminists are smarter, never does it occur to him that he just might be dealing with the wrong concept of God.

Dawkins uses the wrong concept of simplicity because he is assuming that God would be subject to physical law. Of course that is a laughable notion since God created physical law, he would be no more subject to it than we are to our day dreams. But the concept he's using is something like the universe has an immense abundance of detail in it so God has to have a huge amount of dendrites in his brain to keep up with it, This is something like Skeptical thinks about it, because he says "- Complex brains enable complex thinking. God is simple because God doesn't have a brain."[2] That assumes God is a big man, Just because biological organisms must have a brain to have complex mental states doesn't mean God is in the sane boat. God is not a biological organism, The point is the true concept of God's simplicity defeats this notion but it does so by employing a different concept, God is not simple because he has fewer parts or because he doesn't need a brain but because he's qualitative different than any physical object.

According to the classical theism of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and their adherents, God is radically unlike creatures in that he is devoid of any complexity or composition, whether physical or metaphysical. Besides lacking spatial and temporal parts, God is free of matter-form composition, potency-act composition, and existence-essence composition. There is also no real distinction between God as subject of his attributes and his attributes. God is thus in a sense requiring clarification identical to each of his attributes, which implies that each attribute is identical to every other one. God is omniscient, then, not in virtue of instantiating or exemplifying omniscience — which would imply a real distinction between God and the property of omniscience — but by being omniscience. And the same holds for each of the divine omni-attributes: God is what he has as Augustine puts it in The City of God, XI, 10. As identical to each of his attributes, God is identical to his nature. And since his nature or essence is identical to his existence, God is identical to his existence. This is the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS). It is represented not only in classical Christian theology, but also in Jewish, Greek, and Islamic thought. It is to be understood as an affirmation of God's absolute transcendence of creatures. God is not only radically non-anthropomorphic, but radically non-creaturomorphic, not only in respect of the properties he possesses, but in his manner of possessing them. The simple God, we could say, differs in his very ontology from any and all created beings.[3]
Probably the first thing the skeptic will issue against this idea is incredulity  because how could God be some quality like omni-presence? It also just invites a repeat of the question how do we know this I am coming to that. But first we need to answer the incredulity issue, because they wont get past this otherwise. If we could go back to the first moment, God has yet to create anything other than time and whatever basic structure or frame work had to be in place for a universe to come to be there would be no other example of any of these qualities than God, That's why when Vallicella says "God is omniscient, then, not in virtue of instantiating or exemplifying omniscience — which would imply a real distinction between God and the property of omniscience — but by being    omniscience," (see fn 3 above) he is giving us a clue to both answers.  Before God creates anything that mirrors these qualities he is the only example of them. , He doesn't have them because he's a instance of them, they are not bestowed upon him since he is the only thing that could bestow. He is the thing itself by virtue of the fact that it starts with him and cones out of him, that is out out of his creative power, Yes I do distinguish in a real way between God and creation; God is not his creation,creation is not literally part of him in a pantheistic sense.[4]

God is simple because he does not have constitute parts, he is not a constitute entity and because just the one simple idea packs into it all the qualities and attributes necessary, that is being itself, It's not just a matter of having fewer parts but of being on a completely different level of being such that having parts is not an issue. As it said above, "devoid of any complexity or composition, whether physical or metaphysical. Besides lacking spatial and temporal parts, God is free of matter-form composition, potency-act composition, and existence-essence composition." 
One can also arrive at the simplicity doctrine via the divine necessity. As maximally perfect, as that than which no greater can be conceived, God must be a metaphysically necessary being, one that cannot not exist. A necessary being is one whose possibility entails its existence, and whose nonexistence entails its impossibility. But what could be the ground of this necessity of existence if not the identity in God of essence and existence, possibility and actuality? ....A divine being cannot possess contingent modal status: if God exists, then he is necessary, and if he does not exist, then he is impossible. So if God exists, then there is a very tight connection between the divine nature and the divine existence. The simplicity doctrine in its traditional and strongest form assays this ‘tightness’ as identity. The divine simplicity grounds the divine necessity. God is necessary because he is simple. It is easy to see that the divine simplicity also grounds God's possession of essential properties. God has his attributes essentially because he is identical to his attributes. Nothing is more essential to a thing than something to which it is identical.[5]

So how do we know God is simple? Because the kind of simplicity we are talking about is entailed in the concept of the kind of God Christians believe in, If God doesn't have to be complex then why think he is? If Being complex makes him more importable then he must to be complex, Remember Dawkin's argumemt only works if God is a giant biological organism which is ridiculous on it's  face. Take for example my discussion of  Philipse's God in the Age of Science.[6]

Philipse uses the issue of  explanatory power to justify using Bayes to establish the illusion of technique for deciding the matter.[7]Of course his explanatory power is a scientific explanation but he never bothers to justify it. A scientific explanation would have to be limited to the workings of the physical world and modern theology doesn't claim to answer that. Swinburne found the existence of God as the prior to be probable,[8] using simplicity as the criterion to set the prior. Philipse can’t or doesn’t dispute this: he objects to simplicity as the criterion, rather than trying to argue that God is complex, as Dawkins does (see above). He argues against simplicity as the criterion on the basis of lack of empirical evidence. He then takes up the issue of final cause. Theists sometimes use final cause as an “ultimate explanation.” “God forms a more natural stopping place [for theists] than, say, the existence of the universe. [9] The existence of the universe is what is in question, so of course that in itself can't prove its origin. But Philipse calls into question the satisfying nature of final cause, apparently assuming that infinite causal regress (or “ICR”: a series of effects and causes going back and back, with no beginning) is not unsatisfying. He asserts that defense of God as an explanation can't be “full” and “final,” because it doesn't answer the kinds of questions science answers. He couches this in terms of introducing “questionable metaphysical assumptions.” [10] I see that answer as ideologically driven.


[1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion , New York: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (January 16, 2008)138

[2] Metacrock's Blog, Comment Section, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 01, 2017

[3]  William F. Vallicella, "Divine Simplicity", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>  (accessed 11/5/17)

[4] Tillich beimg itselfosmot pantheitism

[5] William F. Vallicella, "Divine Simplicity", op. cit.

[6] Herman Philipse, God In The Age of Science, Oxford, London: Oxford University Press, 2012, 3

[7] Ibid, 91

[8] Ibid., 192

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Best Evidence, Occam and Fine Tuning (part 2 from monday)

An example of how “best explanation” should be considered:

This example is based upon the multiverse argument. The idea of the multiverse is taken seriously in science, even though it is the stuff of comic books and science fiction. The notion is what it sounds like: reality is divided into an infinite array of parallel universes. The argument is used to answer the fine tuning argument for God. The fine tuning argument says that the attributes of the universe that make life possible are so unlikely the game must be fixed. That's a good reason to believe in a planing intelligence as a creator. Our atheist friends say “not so fast.” There are infinite universes, thus infinite chances for life bearing. With infinite chances the odds of hitting life bearing are not so remote so there is not such a good reason to assert the need of a God. There are good answers to this, the argument is defensible. I wont defend it here because its not relevant. I am not asserting fine tuning to save the TS. My purpose in raising it is to make a point about how to consider best explanation.
The multiverse argument illustrates how the assumptions we make change the kind of explanation we seek. Is the multiverse necessary? It's a matter of empirical investigation and there may be empirical evidence to support it. Claims have been made of hard data proving Multivese, but when investigated they evaporate. Here's a physicist who opposed string theory and multiverse. He argues that his evaluation of the papers finds irresolvable problems.

In recent years there have been many claims made for “evidence” of a multiverse, supposedly found in the CMB data... Such claims often came with the remark that the Planck CMB data would convincingly decide the matter. When the Planck data was released two months ago, I looked through the press coverage and through the Planck papers for any sign of news about what the new data said about these multiverse evidence claims. There was very little there; possibly the Planck scientists found these claims to be so outlandish that it wasn’t worth the time to look into what the new data had to say about them. One exception was this paper, where Planck looked for evidence of “dark flow.”xiv

If hard evidence turns up for it then we have to deal with that on it's own terms. Until that time Multiverse should be shaved with Occam's razor. We don't need it to explain reality, it's only advanced to keep from having to turn to God. It's naturalistic so it's an arbitrary necessity at best. Arbitrary necessitates are logical impossibilities, contingent things jumped up to the level of necessity to answer a God argument. It's not that we are going to disprove the unnecessary entity (multiverse) but we are going to refrain from advancing it's existence as an assumption until such a time that real evidence makes it empirically undeniable. We can make that kind of ruling about the multiverse because its an empirical matter, even though it may be undetectable; God is not an empirical matter because God is both transcendent and transcendental. Therefore, Multiverse should be taken out of the issues of God arguments, yet we can't make that ruling about God. That's an example of what I meant when I said we can fill in the doughnut around the hole. If we find empirical evidence of multiverse we may have to re-think a couple of God arguments, In the mean time God might be the best explanation for the uniqueness of our world.
In any case parsimony is perhaps the best point of inference for abduction. 
Most philosophers believe that, other things being equal, simpler theories are better. But what exactly does theoretical simplicity amount to? Syntactic simplicity, or elegance, measures the number and conciseness of the theory's basic principles. Ontological simplicity, or parsimony, measures the number of kinds of entities postulated by the theory. One issue concerns how these two forms of simplicity relate to one another. There is also an issue concerning the justification of principles, such as Occam's Razor, which favor simple theories. The history of philosophy has seen many approaches to defending Occam's Razor, from the theological justifications of the Early Modern period, to contemporary justifications employing results from probability theory and statistics,xv
Again we have to distinguish between conceptual simplicity as opposed to mere ignorance of the case, or simple structure. In other words Dawkins treats God as a big man who must have more parts than the universe he creates (see above). That is simplicity in terms of structure, the physical structure of God. That is a case we just don't know about. We can't judge that. We can think of God as the simpler concept in terms of the economy of relations. First we can think of God as mind, not brain. We do not know that minds are complex. Brains are complex but we know nothing about mind. On the other hand we might posit that mind is simpler than brain because it's not a set of biological parts, but at least theoretically might be akin to the spirit. In any case God's relation to the whole is simple: one mind which thinks the universe. One mind that in the act of perceiving sets all meaning, creates all that is, and judges all moral value. That is simpeler in terms of economical relations between all parts than a multiverse. A multiverse would multiply the problems of fine tuning and something from nothing by every universe. Philosophy makes simplicity complicated.
To spell out the criteria by which we might judge a “best” explanation, not just simplicity alone but conceptual simplicity, we must be able to make comparisons between hypotheses. We can't compare hypotheses if they don't compete for the same results. Belief in God is not a scientific hypothesis, thus it does not compete with science. Thus belief cannot be reduced to the simplicity of “the best science.” For this reason we can call the kind of parsimony of the abductive version as parsimony of elegance. In other words not just take the simplest idea, but take the truly elegant hypothesis. By “elegant” is included conceptually simple in terms of relation to the whole theory, as well as consistent, competitive, and complete (accounts for most data, and most crucial data). Above I quote Baker as saying elegance is number and conciseness of the theories basic principles. Ontological simplicity is the number of kinds of entities. By that measure God would be both eligant and ontologically simple: one kind and its concise. To that I add the notion of bang for the buck; not just fewer kinds and more concise but accomplishes more for less.

Criteria for choosing the best explanation:

I. Simple (elegant and ontologically simple).
Focus is on God's relationship to all aspects of the universe and reality. It's not about issues like what is God made of or does he have parts. The relation itself of the God concept to the universe is what is at issue. One concept that props up every thing is simpler than trying to account for everything through loose ends. That's why they want a grand unified theory. More concise and bang for the buck.
II. Competitive:
Does the explanation compete with other explanations? In a sense no, the other explanations are not scientific. Science and religion have different domains they are meant to do different things. God and science don't compete. Yet the question is not one of science vs. God but of world views. While science makes up a large part of the world view of scientists and skeptics (and believers too at times) if we think of atheism as a world view there's more to it than just science. Atheism consists of actively cutting out the kinds of existential and phenomenological explanations that are part of the believer's world view. So belief in God answers the questions about life at a more philosophical level, to my way of thinking a more profound level. Science tells us how the physical world works. God tells us why there is a physical world. Of course there are limits to how much we are told. That's the job of Theology to figure out what God tells us and what God does not tell us. Belief in God competes with other philosophical level questions.
Religions are often thought of as competing with each other for believers, even though they all point to the TS as a generic object of faith. This is not to say they are all the same or that it doesn't matter,
but for the sake of the TS argument I'm going to bracket that for now. Atheism and belief in God Compete directly because the farmer seeks to explain the world by removing the explanation of the latter. While most atheists turn to science for explanatory power they often embrace an ideological version of science that is tuned to screen out religious explanations.xvi God transcends our understanding and our observations. Thus God belief can't compete with science's answers of how the universe works; nor does it need to. It does answer the why, the best atheism can do is to assert that there is no why. To the extent that both world views seek to account for ultimate origins one could assert overlap but atheists merely seek to explain in the how in the absnese of why and religion seeks a why.
So the issue is not one of science vs. belief in God, but belief vs. atheism. In other words given equal embrace of science which world view best explains the world? Some will claim that science rules out God because there's no necessary place for God in a world of modern science. That just depends upon what kind of explanation we seek. The believer must not allow the skeptic to pull a bait-and-switch whereby the workings of the physical world are put over as the best explanation just because they are the most certain.

III. Logically consistent with self and world:
No internal contradictions in theory, and if it does contradict what we think we know it has to re-explain it in a way so as to account for the apparent contradiction.
IV. Complete:
Explains more of the data than other hypotheses, and coordinates the answer to all other areas or more other areas than do other hypotheses. Example. God not only explains something from nothing but also accounts for ethics and meaning. The totality of data is all aspects of existence. It can't be limited to just empirical data but all aspects of human being and the nature of existing.
In order to cover all data the answer must include the philosophical in that it considers the phenomena on a higher level than just the physical workings of the universe. We have to be careful, however, not to set up the criteria in such a way that God is the only valid answer because nothing else applies. God must be the best explanation because other alternatives are eliminated. To demonstrate that I have not just set things up to favor my argument, I will, when the time comes to eliminate other alternatives, show alternatives that also fit the criteria.

V. Philosophical

Why a philosophical answer? Why not just content ourselves with the physical universe and how it works? That approach would rule God out before one got started thinking about that question. That answer must proceed from a transcendental perspective, analyzing the system of thought itself. The answer must be on a transcendental or metaphysical level but need not involve God. Must we manufacture a reason for things? No but there is a fine line. The answer can't content itself with pure physics and no more, but it can't demand a purposive reason as the only option. The explanation (sans God) on the metaphysical level might involve just dealing with the consequences of a purposeless world. We have to face the possibility that there is no purpose, but by the same token the skeptic must respect a subjective sense as the justification for seeking purpose. It's true that this criterion asks one to accept positions that perhaps can't be proven, but we don't have to prove the actual reality of God to produce a rational warrant for belief. Even a subjective sense can be analyzed and subjected to forms of verification (see my first book, The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief, available on Amazon).
To rule out all but the physical and to insist that we not go beyond this point is truncating reality. That is to say, it cuts us off from an understanding of being, not only the meaning of life but the nature of being. Why should we think about this? Because we don’t find it satisfying to ignore this question. This is why we want origin theories. We don't see scientists saying “we don't need to consider the origin of the universe it's not important.” They all have theories. In fact here is the point I made in chapter one about the desire of western philosophy to find a TS. We want a TS because we want to sum up the meaning and we want to understand what it means to be. We have the problem of metaphysics as elaborated by Heidegger and others. xvii Being hides itself from us as we are too close to it. We wind up imposing preconceived notions upon it which is what we do when we just assume that an understanding of the mere fact of existence is all we need.
Being is too close to us, it's like the atmosphere of the planet, we are breathing it and it gives us life but on a moment to moment basis we don't even know its there.xviii We don't understand that we are living in being as part of being thus we try to abstract and impose preconceived notions of what it means to be. We attempt to understand being by the imposition of preconceived ideas shaped by abstraction, this is metaphysics. It subjugates reality to ideology rather than revealing the nature of being.xix Science is engages in this mistake. Even though scientific thinkers like to separate themselves from metaphysics they still participate in its errors. They think they escape it because they are not proposing hierarchies of angels, but they are still making metaphysical assumptions in assuming there is nothing beyond the physical.

These five qualities taken together are what I call “the best explanation.” The conclusion of the argument posits a TS which can logically be understood as a generic God Concept. That conclusion has to meet the criteria. I will defend the premises as a true statement based upon best educated judgment then show how the proposed conclusion meets the criteria as best explanation for the phenomena sited.

xiv Peter Woit, “Hard Evidence for Multiverse Found, But String Theory limits Space Brain Threat,” Not Even Wrong,(May 22, 2013 ) online resourse:
accessed 8/26/15.
xv Alan Baker, "Simplicity", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . Accessed 8/6/15
xviJoseph Hinman,God, Science and Ideology, chapter on Dawkis
xviiMartain Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, op cit, 2.
xviiiHubert L. Dryefus, Being in the world: A Comenmtary on Heidegger's Being and Time, Division 1. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: MIT Press, 1991, 1-3.

xix Pete Wolfendale, “Metaphysics After Heidegger,” Deontologistics, August 18, 2009, On line URL:
Peter Wolfemdale post doctoral research fellow in Philosophy at University of Johannesburg South Africa. Ci-edited Pli: The Warwick Jouurnal of Philsophy.