Sunday, July 21, 2019

Case For God Stronger than Case for Doubt


 (this was originality posted August 14, 2008)

a poster on Carm said:
If god does not exists, then N years of university an M doctorates from prestigious universities on theology are not worth anything, with regards to supernatural statements.

The fact is that the case for the existence of any gods is very weak, and until that has been remedied by the ones claiming such entities exist, musings on the true nature of the gods is just meaningless noise, hence the invisible pink unicorn.

Trying to impune my motives, as though I have some cognitive dissonance about going to seminary and to convince myself the money wasn't a waste I have to convince my self God really exists after all. This is quite an uninformed opinion. The case for God's existence has never looked stronger. I wonder why this person would think I have some sort insecurity about belief? But the truth of it is, even if I came believe somehow that God does not exist, that would not mean that my seminary training was a waste. This makes me think the only thing this guy knows about seminaries, if anything at all, is through some of kind of little bible college fundie gig. I can see why a washout from the fundie ranks, who knows nothing about theology anyway would be confused. There are two major reasons why going to Perkins would be good even if one did not believe in God:

(1) It's a fantastic education. 

One can always treat the material as sociological artifacts. To graduate with a Masters degree from Perkins, especially in the academic side of it (not a professional degree which is for ministers but like mine, the academic side) one must become well versed in many areas in addition to theology: Philosophy, social sciences, literature, history, world religions. Yes, I studied world religions at a United Methodist seminary. The course was taught by a methodist minister but he lived in Japan and studies Japanese religion for about 30 years. He was a leading expert on what is called "the new religions" of Japan. That course alone made the education itself worth while.

(2) Theology would still be of value without God

AT Perkins I learned about phenomenology, my understanding of existentialism shot up from the level of an undergraduate to almost that of an expert, and I was exposed to a deep understanding of oriental religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto. There is quite a bit of theology to be done without God.

Of course there is no need for that becasue the case for God has never looked better. This guy's statement is quite false. The case for God is almost a certainty. first, before going into that, I will present a brief look at the problems at the heart of atheism. Lack of belief in God is fraught with problems. Essentially it's an illogical ideology.

Limitations of Naturalistic Reductionism

I.Closing off other valid forms of knowledge
and losing the phenomena.

The upshot of this entire argument is that scientific reductionism reduces the full scope of human experience and reduces reality from its full frame to preset conclusions than are already labeled "science" and "objectivity" and which screen out any other possibility. One of those possibilities is the phenomenological apprehension of God's presence through religious experience.

In the conclusion to his famous Gilford lectures, Psychologist William James, whose Varieties of Religious Experience, is still a classic in the filed of psychology of religion, concluded that reductionism shuts off other valid avenues of reality.

"The world interpreted religiously is not the materialistic world over again, with an altered expression; it must have, over and above the altered expression, a natural constitution different at some point from that which a materialistic world would have. It must be such that different events can be expected in it, different conduct must be required.This thoroughly 'pragmatic' view of religion has usually been taken as a matter of course by common men. They have interpolated divine miracles into the field of nature, they have built a heaven out beyond the grave. It is only transcendentalist metaphysicians who think that, without adding any concrete details to Nature, or subtracting any, but by simply calling it the expression of absolute spirit,you make it more divine just as it stands. I believe the pragmatic way of taking religion to be the deeper way. It gives it body as well as soul, it makes it claim, as everything real must claim, some characteristic realm of fact as its very own. What the more characteristically divine facts are, apart from the actual inflow of energy in the faith-state and the prayer-state, I know not."

"But the over-belief on which I am ready to make my personal venture is that they exist. The whole drift of my education goes to persuade me that the world of our present consciousness is only one out of many worlds of consciousness that exist, and that those other worlds must contain experiences which have a meaning for our life also; and that although in the main their experiences and those of this world keep discrete, yet the two become continuous at certain points, and higher energies filter in. By being faithful in my poor measure to this over-belief, I seem to myself to keep more sane and true. I can, of course, put myself into the sectarian scientist's attitude, and imagine vividly that the world of sensations and of scientific laws and objects may be all. But whenever I do this, I hear that inward monitor of which W. K. Clifford once wrote, whispering the word 'bosh!' Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name, and the total expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond the narrow scientific bounds. Assuredly, the real world is of a different temperament,- more intricately built than physical science allows. So my objective and my subjective conscience both hold me to the over-belief which I express. Who knows whether the faithfulness of individuals here below to their own poor over-beliefs may not actually help God in turn to be more effectively faithful to his own greater tasks?"

II.Philosohpical naturalism based upon
Circular Reasoning and Contradictions

A. Cause and effect.

In fact this way of arguing is wrong on two counts. First, it is based upon circular reasoning. The reasoning behind this notion goes back to the Philosopher David Hume who argued that miracles cannot happen because we do not have enough examples of them happening."A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, form the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can be imagined." (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Open Court 1958, 126-27) We see this same sort of thinking used over and over again. Scientists sometimes resort to it. Nobel prize winning geneticist A.J. Carlson, "by supernatural we understand...beliefs...claiming origins other than verifiable experiences...or events contrary to known processes in and miracles are incompatible." (Science Magazine Feb. 27, 1937, 5.)

The great Theologian Rudolf Bultmann, "modern science does not believe that the course of nature can be interrupted or, so to speak, perforated by supernatural powers"(Jesus Christ and Mythology, New York: Schribner and Sons, 1958, 15). The context of Bultmann's comment was in proclaiming the events of the New Testament mythological because they "contradict" scientific principles.B. Hume's Argument against Miracles.The nature of this circular reasoning is pointed out by C.S. Lewis, who wrote: "Now of course we must agree with Hume that if there is absolutely uniform experience, if in other words they have never happened, why then they never have. Unfortunately we know the experience against them to be uniform only if we know that all reports of them have been false. And we can know all the reports of them to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred. In fact, we are arguing in a circle." (Miracles: a Preliminary Study. New York: MacMillian, 1947, 105).

The circular nature of the reasoning insists that there can be noting beyond the material realm. Any claims of supernatural effects must be ruled out because they cannot be. And how do we know that they cannot be? Because only that which conforms to the rules of naturalism can be admitted as "fact." Therefore, miracles can never be "fact." While this is understandable as a scientific procedure, to go beyond the confines of explaining natural processes and proclaim that God does not exist and miracles cannot happen far exceeds the boundaries of scientific investigation. Only within a particular situation, the investigation of a particular case can scientists make such claims.C. Philosophical Naturalism based upon Metaphysical assumptionsPhilosophical naturalists go beyond the claims of scientific methodology to take up a metaphysical position. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy which seeks answers beyond the confines of the physical realm. Philosophical materialists claim to know that there is no God, or at least to be convinced of it. They rule out miracles from a philosophical basis rather than an empirical one. This is in fact a metaphysical position. But philosophical materialists also claim to debunk metaphysics. Since metaphysics holds to knowledge of things beyond the material realm philosophical materialists must count themselves its enemies. But to say that there is no God is to make a metaphysical statement. To claim to know that there is no God is claim to have knowledge of things beyond the material realm. Philosophical materialists are, in fact, taking up a position contradictory to their stated philosophy.What I am saying should not be construed as an argument against scientific investigation of miracle claims. Science should investigate with all the scientific techniques and assumptions fit for the task of valid investigation, but to the extent that such claims are ruled out science should not make blanket assumptions that God does not work miracles, but must pronounce only on those particular cases.

III. Reflections on Method:
Science vs. Philosophy

This post is partly aimed at RG for his instance that atheists demand "evidence." I don't think atheists care about evidence. Evidence just means that one has something to reason from. What atheists demand is absolute proof, and at a level that can't be given for anything. I would bet that if for some reason atheists didn't like science, no amount of scientific "proof" wood suffice to prove to them that science works; because they would demand absolute proof, which can't be gotten.

In thinking about the two other threads I initiative over the last few days, and the atheist take on my arguments and their 'dicing' of my thought processes, and their refusal to acknowledge standard resiances that I give all the time, I find the following state of affairs to be a good description of the current state of dialectic between atheists and theists on the boards:

(1) Theists have a vast array of knowledge and argumentation built up over 2000 years, which basically amounts to a ton evidence for the existence of God. It's not absolute proof, because true, sure enough, actual absolute proof is just damn hard to come by on anything--even most scientific things; which is why they invented inductive reasoning. Science accepts correlation's as signs of caudal relationships, it doesn't ever actually observe causality at work. But that kind of indicative relationship is not good for atheists when a God argument is involved. Then it must be absolute demonstration and direct observation.

(2) This double standard always works in favor of the atheist and never in favor of the theist. I suspect that's because Theists are trying to persuade atheists that a certain state of affairs is the case, and at the same time we are apt to be less critical of our own reasons for believing that. Atheists make a habit of denial and pride themselves on it.

Why is it a double standard? Because when it works to establish a unified system of naturalistic observation the atheist is only too happy to appeal to "we never see" "we always see" and "there is a strong correlation." We never see a man raised from the dead. We never see a severed limb restored. The correlation's between naturalistic cause and effect are rock solid and always work, so science gives us truth, and religion doesn't. But when those same kinds of correlation's are used to support a God argument, they are just no darn good. to wit: we never see anything pop out of absolute noting, we never even see absolute nothing, even QM particles seem to emerge from prior conditions such as Vacuum flux, so they are not really proof of something form nothing. But O tisg tosh, that doesn't prove anything and certainly QM proves that the universe could just pop up out of nothing!

(3) "laws of physics" are not real laws, they are only descriptions, aggregates of our observations. So they can't be used to argue for God in any way. But, when it comes to miraculous claims, the observations of such must always be discounted because they violate our standard norm for observation, and we must always assume they are wrong no matter how well documented or how inexplicable. We must always assume that only naturalistic events can happen, even though the whole concept of a naturalism can only be nothing more than an aggregate of our observations about the world; and surely they are anything but exhaustive. Thus one wood think that since our observations are not enough to establish immutable laws of the universe, they would not be enough to establish a metaphysics which says that only material realms exist and only materially caused events can happen! But guess again...!

(4) The Theistic panoply of argumentation is a going concern. Quentin Smith, the top atheist philosopher says that 80% of philosophers today are theists. But when one uses philosophy in a God argument, it's just some left over junk from the middle ages; even though my God arguments are based upon S 5 modal logic which didn't exist even before the 1960s and most of the major God arguers are still living.

(5) They pooh pooh philosophy because it doesn't' produce objective concrete results. But they can't produce any scientific evidence to answer the most basic philosophical questions, and the more adept atheists will admit that it isn't the job of science to answer those questions anyway. Scientific evidence cannot give us answers on the most basic philosophical questions, rather than seeing this as a failing in science (or better yet, evidence of differing magister) they rather just chalice it up to the failing of the question! The question is no good because our methods dot' answer it!

(6) What it appears to me is the case is this; some methods are better tailed for philosophy. Those methods are more likely to yield a God argument and even a rational warrant for belief, because God is a philosophical question and not a scientific one. God is a matter of faint, after all, and in matters of faith a rational warrant is the best one should even hope for. But that's not good enough for atheists, they disparage the whole idea of a philosophical question (at least the scientistic ones do--that's not all of them, but some) yet they want an open ended universe with no hard and fast truth and no hard and fast morality!

(7)So it seems that if one accepts certain methods one can prove God within the nature of that language game. now of course one can reject those language games and choose others that are not quite as cozy with the divine and that's OK too. Niether approach is indicative of one's intelligence or one's morality. But, it does mean that since it may be just as rational given the choice of axioms and methodologies, then what that taps out to is belief in God is rationally warrented--it may not be only rational conclusion but it is one ratinal conclusion Now i know all these guys like Barron and HRG will say "hey I'm fine with that." But then when push comes to shove they will be back again insisting that the lack of absolute proof leaves the method that yields God arguments in doubt, rather than the other way around. I don't see why either should be privileged. Why can't we just say that one method is better suited for one kind of question, the other for the other?

and if one of them says 'why should I ask those questions?' I say 'why shouldn't we leave the choice of questions to the questioner?

The Case For belief

The standard for which I argue is not absolute proof. What I just said above should indicate why I think absolute proof is nonsense. But the standard I advocate is rational warrant. Belief in God is rationally warranted, and being so, it is rational and not irrational.

See my 42 Arguments for the existence of god.

I can defend each of these arguments just I will just present one here.

Argumnet: Cosmological Necessity

(1) The Universe is contingent upon "prior" conditions (conditions that existed "prior" to our understanding of space/time:

(a) Prior condition being space/time, or gravitational field.

Matter, energy, all physical phenomena stem from 'gravitational field' the prior condition of which is he big bang, the prior condition of which is the singularity, the prior condition of which is...we do not know.

(b)All naturalistic phenomena are empirically derived, thus they are contingent by their very nature.

As Karl Popper said, empirical facts are facts which might not have been. Everything that belongs to space time is a contingent truth because it could have been otherwise, it is dependent upon the existence of something else for its' existence going all the way back to the Big Bang, which is itself contingent upon something.(Antony Flew, Philosophical Dictionary New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979, 242.)

(2) By definition the "ultimate" origin cannot be contingent, since it would reuqire the explaination of still prior conditions (a string of infinite contingencies with no necessity is logical nonsense;the existence of contingent conditions requires the existence of necessary conditions).

(3) Therefore, the universe must have emerged from some prior condition which always existed, is self sufficient, and not dependent upon anything "higher."

(4) Naturalistic assumptions of determinism, and the arbitrary nature of naturalistic cosmology creates an arbitrary necessity; if the UEO has to produce existents automatically and/or deterministically due to naturalistic forces, the congtingencies function as necessities

(5) Therefore, since arbitrary necessities are impossible by nature of their absurdity, thus we should attribute creation to an act of the will; the eternal existent must be possessed of some ability to create at will; and thus must possess will.


(6) An eternal existent which creates all things and chooses to do so is compatible with the definition of "God" found in any major world religion, and therefore, can be regarded as God. Thus God must exist QED!


The state of understanding most Christian apologists use for the cosmological argument is very bad. Most of us are still back in the enlightenment, or even earlier. In fact if one reads the Boyle Lectures (that's 1690's) one sees all the issues of a modern apologetics message board, with very little real advance by the Christian apologists.

The problem revolves around the notion of causality. Causality requires linear direction and time. A causes B, it follows that a precedes B in a sequential effect. No Time means no sequential order, thus no cause. Time begins sequentially simultaneously with the Big Bang. So there is no way to speak of "before" the big bang because there can't be a "before time." Since time is the beginning of sequences there can be no scenic before the beginning of sequences; without sequences there is no begging and no "before." So the problem is that it is meaningless to say things like "everything that begins requires a cause." This is meaningless because we can't really speak of "the beginning" of the universe since the begging of the universe is also the beginning of time, and causality requires time. Thus there is no cause before the beginning of causes. Thus the whole idea of a final cause beginning the sequence that eventually leads to sequences is a lame idea. Yet most Christian Apologists use the Kalam argument (made so poplar by William Lane Craig) which begins "everything that begins requires a cause." The statement itself is self contradictory.

Of course the atheists muck things up even worse with their notions of Quantum theory (AKA "QM"). It seems that everything that begins doesn't require a cause. QM particles pop into exist seemingly out of nothing with no prior casual agent that can be decreed and thus, it seems something could come from nothing. Now it gets tricky at this point, because this not really what's happening, but the best that can come out of this observation is a big muddle.

It seems that we really don't find QM particles "popping" out of "nothing." They emerge from something called "vacuum flux." This is just a fancy name for more QM particles, that doesn't' matter, because it really is not actual nothingness. The problem is that physicists speak of VC as "nothing." So while one finds physicist speaking of QM being something from nothing, they know quite well its not. Now the tricky part is, the Christian apologist suspects, but we cannot prove, that there is a cause in there somewhere. But the skeptic can always elude the obvious implication of a cause since we don't have a direct observational proof of the need for a final cause. Our assumptions about final causes are pinned upon logic and not upon empirical observation (and this is of necessity, since we can't observe final cause since we can't observe "before" the begging of sequential ordering in time).

It seems that the skeptic has a built-in fail-safe to create a stalemate without he CA (cosmological argument) because our thinking as Christian apologists is often rooted in the thinking of the Robert Boil and the 1690's. We still think in terms of cause and effect, things begging, things needing causes and beginnings and logic proving this rather than empirical observation; although a large part of this argument is merely psychological, since in all fairness the skeptic can't prove anything either and we know darn well there has to be a cause back there somewhere.

I have developed an approach which I feel resolves this dilemma and lends a positive presumptive appeal to the CA. I feel that my approach changes the burden of proof in the debate because lends the apologist presumption, by meeting the prima facie burden of proof. This approach works in two phases:

(1) Sets up a "comfort zone" for the argument, or in other words, establishes criteria through which the bar is lowered for the standard of proof and the lower standard can be met; lower standard meaning "rational warrant for belief" rather than "proof."

We are not out to prove the existence of God. We are out to prove only that it is rational to construe the universe as the creation of God.

The outcome of a prima facie argument is that the burden of proof is reversed. Now it becomes the other side's burden to show that the PF case has not been made. What is it in my version of the CA that swings this point over from burden of proof to PF case? It's the way I deal with the notion need for causality.

The standard Christian apologetics approach is usually to say "everything we observe needs a cause, so the universe must need a cause." This leaves the skeptics cold and they just keep harping on their QM stuff. My approach is to move away from the need causes. I no longer call my argument "first cause." I use the term "cosmological" but not "first cause" or "final cause." I don't speak of causes and I never claim "everything that begins to exist recks a cause." Most skeptics will be expecting this, usually they are thrown into a state of total confusion when they learn that I don't bother with this.

My approach is to use the scholastic model of necessity and contingency rather than cause and effect. Now one might think this is so old fashioned and pre modern that it would be untenable. But no, it's the basis of model logic. One can easily argue, what with the return to the impotence of the model aspects from Hartshorne and Platinga, and with Godell's OA being based firmly upon necessity/contingency, that category is alive and well. Now skeptics will remain incredulous of course, but the category can be defended easily with Spinoza's chart of modalities. The categories are there in logic and cannot be denied.

Moreover, move on from that point to speak of "prior conditions," rather than causes. The idea of prior conditions is tricky, since we all there is a cause lurking somewhere behind it. But the skeptic is lambasting us for speaking of causes, and with this approach we need not speak of them. That way the obvious need for one is enthemimatic; that is the skeptic will pick it out himself, but he can't really say anything about it we aren't claiming it as part of the argument. If the skeptic brings it up, well it's a straw man argument, even though it's really there in the background.

Prior conditions is a tricky category and I have the following analogy. In QM theory we face the concept of the VC and the particle emerge from it. We know from observation that this slows way down the closer one gets to the singularity, and we know that we have no observations whatsoever from timeless state (how could we)? Three conditions obtain in which Amp's emerge: (1) the emerge amid physical law. Even though they seem to contradict our previous understanding of law, they are not opposed to it and QM theory is the business of showing how we can assume their harmonious existence with physical law; (2) They emerge in time; since we have no counter observation we must assume so; (3) They emerge from VF. Skeptics have howled and said "that must means more particles." But so what? that's still something. It means they aren't coming form real nothingness. As long as something exits prior to the "first" existent, that existent is not first and what prior to it must be accounted for. IF we don't wish to end up in an infinite causal regress, then we have to assume that there is some prior conditions which is the basic condition of all existence.


It's like fish. Fish are not caused by water. You can't say "water = fish." But, fish are always found in or near bodies of water. You dot' find fish living in the sand in the desert. There are fish which are native to the North American desert, but they live in water deep in caverns and have actually lost eyes because they live in total darkness. But again, the one prior condition we have for fish is water. Now someone will say "but there is causal relationship there." Yes, but my argument doesn't require that there be no causal relation, but I don't have to push the causal relation to win the argument; all I have to do is demonstrate that there must be some eternal prior condition that is necessary for all contingent conditions to be; and of course we construe this "eternally prior condition" as God.

Another important aspect of this argument is to get away form time. We must get over the simplistic idea that BB is the moment of creation and "before" that (which there is no "before") is God in eternity. That treats time like a place that one could go, where God is. Time may be running eternally, it has a "reassert" with the Big Bang but it doesn't' have to be a "place" one could go to visit. Thus it may not be that we can think of the timeless void as a realm beyond the natural realm.

In this argument I set up the contingency of the universe as the predication of an ultimate prior condition. Anything naturalistic is automatically contingent (this can be backed up by Carol Popper and many others). Thus the ontological necessity which predicates these contingencies is a priori some from of prior condition which must be understood as eternal and boundless, otherwise the idea of a contingent universe filled with individual contingencies makes no sense.

From there the argument that this eternal prior condition is equivalent to or can be construed as an object of religious devotion is easy. Of course atheists will fight tooth and nail to keep from accepting the notion that the universe is contingent. They will charge that this is the fallacy of composition. Don't let them! The fallacy of composition only works when the parts are different. In other words, if a brick wall is made up of all bricks then it is not a fallacy of composition to say "this is a wall of bricks." Thus, one case say "this is a universe of contingencies, thus, it is a contingent universe." Moreover, Dr. Kooks (Univ. Texas--our fine main branch in our Glorious UT system) uses mermeology (a funky kind of math stuff) to argue that wholly contingent parts make for a wholly contingent situation. In other words, a universe made up of all contingent parts is a contingent universe. Establishing this point will be the hardest part of the debate, but the skeptic will be scratching his head and asking "what's mermology?"

From there one directs them to Dr. Koons' Website.

I think this approach offers some unique features that get us way from the 1690s and put Christian apologetics in the 21st century.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

the real difference in belief and unbelief,

Image result for God is love

this is an old one first published 2007. Original title: "to know God is to love God"

I just finished this page yesterday.Why I don't believe in hell. It's too long for the blog (4 pages). So I put it up on Doxa. I really should have done it years ago, it's such a basic issue. I write this in response to a commenter on the comments section who was posting in response to the piece "no Will Greater than My Own."
9:14 PM
Goliath said...

Ah, at last, you've begun to realize that even if your god exists, not everyone would want to follow him.

Not that I believe that either exists, but I would MUCH rather follow Satan than the xian god. In fact, I would rather die and spend eternity in hell than follow the xian god.

9:36 PM

My response that's your prerogative and your problem. I will just say that you don't know God. you don't know what God is like. Maybe I dont' either but a i have a general idea. you can't go by the OT. you have to go by Jesus. So far all the atheist attempts to show that Jesus was no good have been less than impressive, for me.

I'll look you up in a million an and see what you think then. I jsut warn you of one thing:

I do happen to know, a little known secret of the universe, a large part of hell of his having to hear the replay of "Down Town" Petula Clark over and over again forever. think about it.

8:03 AM
Goliath said...

I know everything I need to know about the xian god, and I know everything that I need to know about your vile faith.

I hate Jesus, I hate the xian god, and I would destroy both of them if I could.

"I do happen to know, a little known secret of the universe, a large part of hell of his having to hear the replay of 'Down Town' Petula Clark over and over again forever. think about it."

ROFL! Is that the best you can do to scare me into groveling before your god? You're pathetic.

12:50 PM
J.L. Hinman said...

I am not interested into scaring you into anything. You are only hurting yourself.

6:38 PM
Goliath said...

Then why try to intimidate me by telling me what hell might be like?

Again: I would rather burn in hell than follow your god. Deal with it.

6:57 PM
J.L. Hinman said...

that is nuts. to really think that is a serious attempt to scare anyone? I can think of a lot more scary fates than having to listen to "Downtown."

this is something called "humor." Are you so demented you don't even know what "funny" means?

If you bothered to learn more about my ideas you would know that I do not believe in hell as a place of eternal conscious torment. So you are just hurting yourself because you are missing the very essence of what love is by rejecting God because God is love.

scary hu?

If you are just looking for fight you wont get one. I have better thins to do. Go troll someone else. If you really care bout ideas I am wiling to talk but you have to shed the bad boy image thing and grow up and really think.

I am not trying to humiliate this guy or to ridicule him for thinking my joke was a serious threat, although I think it should be obvious it was not. Three things occurred to me as a result of this exchange:

(1) again we see the real issue underneath it all is power. Notice his idea of accepting the existence of God is "groveling." For one reason or another its a power issue. I don't know anything about this guy by my imagination is working overtime playing on images of overly zealous religious people trying to manipulate people into doing their will. Ultimately I don't believe that all the hurt feelings and bitter hatred of hate group atheism is all the fault of religious people. But I certainly don't think we've handled things right.

(2) atheist assumptions about religious people are stereotypes that cause them to cast the issues in certain preset terms.

(3) Perhaps we condition people to think they know what God would be like, or what the Christian idea of God would be like by dealing with Christians. How else could it be? That they think they know what God "is" or would be like is purely a function of two things:

(a) how Christians have treated them

(b) the why they have been conditioned by Christians to read the Bible.

This is why I think it is important up front to get out the message about hell. I urge you all to read those pages because I feel I make a pretty good case for the idea that the Bible does not even teach that hell is eternal conscious torment. It's important for people to understand this because the atheist agenda is wrapped up in propagandizing about Christianity as a punitive and operant notion of religious experience.

two paradigms: operant vs existentialist

The choice of paradigms on the nature of religion lies between two poles, a punitive-operantreligion vs an existential religion. Punitive I think we all get drift, hell is thought to be punishment for disbelief, sin and generally doing bad. It is also seen as a means so scaring people into compliance as our friend above thinks.Operant (like B.F. Skinner's positive and negative reinforcement) because through the promise of heaven and the threat of hell one is manipulated into changing behavior on a punishment/reward basis. Existentialist means it is not about punishments or manipulation but a response to one's existential experince of life in the world--based upon personal experiences and aimed at understanding individualistic goals and ends of a person's life rather than fitting into a preset mold of behavior.

While we can't do that much about the way other Christians react to people, we can try to check our own reactions (I do know I still have a long way to go in that area) and we can try to clarify problems with the atheist reading of our belief system. Toward that end I would explain that since I don't believe that hell is eternal conscious torment, I can't really try to scare compliance out of people. There have been instances on message boards where I have told atheists about my view son hell and always some group of them will say "then how can you scare people into being good?" I can only think that they approach the problem from this angle because they feel people have tried to scare them into being good and that's the only way they can see to do it.

The existential paradigm of religion is so much more effective because scaring compliance. Scaring people into obedience defeats the purpose of knowing God and it's really ineffective in the long run. It's much more effective if people internalize the values of the good. This is why God sets up the world in the way it is, why we have to seek truth instead of being issued briefings in press conferences when we are born. Because the search leads to internalizing values and values give us committment for a life time. Belief in hell is a waste. It's childish and it is wasted because no one learns in hell. You cant' come back and try it again, by the time you know you were wrong its' too late to change. Punishment may be just and there should be consequences for evil, but I think ceasing to exist is consequence enough, and humane. Please read the link at the top about Why I don't believe in hell. So I don't believe God's aim is to scare but to enthrall and to bring us to a point of internalizing God's values. We do that by knowing God.

Atheists will no doubt see it as a game and a pretense, but, it is a relationship. One cannot "know enough about the Christian God." you can't get the idea from words on paper or sermons on Sunday. It's not a fair test to go by how Christians treat you because Christians are at all different stages in their walk with God, some don't even have any idea they can know God in a personal way. That being said that is no excuse to treat people badly. We as Christians have to understand how we come across and respond in love, not manipulation. I know I am the worst at responding in love. I have some real idiotic mistakes in lashing out in anger to abuse of atheists. But this doesn't give any clear picture of God, even though they will draw conclusions about God based upon the way we act.

That is no better than trying to know a person by what others tell you. You ever had a friend who had another friend he was always talking about. This guy is the greatest ever, and when you meet that person, nothing like the description. You have to know someone before you can really see how great that person is. You have to actually know God. This brings up the invisible friend effect.

Invisible friend

Atheists use this as derision, its' like a child with an imaginary friend. Well is it? In some ways it is. Imaginary friends are said to be positive things by child psychologists.Through the assumption of God's active presence in our lives we can model holy living just as through imaginary friends children are modeling real friendships latter for life. It really depends upon the extent to which people take it. I've never been comfortable with "Jesus is here invisibly" idea. I am not comfortable with the way of relating to God that assumes God is saving me a parking place. Some Christians sort of assume they are experiencing God and then letting God step into such occasions. That's actually not all bad really. The sense of God's presence, or what we call "God's presence" is documented over and over again in empirical studies as a valid life transforming experince and something that really changes people's lives for the better in dramatic ways. Some studies show that the mystical type experience is the most mature form of Christianity. The study by Robert Voyle shows this, and it links Christian experience to mystical experience.

That being the case we have no choice but to assume that the experience is the sensation of a reality that is actually present to us at the time.

The atheist can't evaluate this by just hearing about or reading about. I thought people who had such experiences were insane until I had one my self. It's as simple as this, you have to experience it. Its' a say of life, it is not not just one more hypothesis in a life of hypothesis testing. It's a relationship and develops over time. Not all Christians think they hear God, or even believe in that sort of interactive interpersonal relationship with God. There are many kinds of spirituality and many ways of relating to God. I went through my Charismatic phase in the 80s. I still believe some of what I picked up in that era, the "gifts" for example, miracles and healing. But I have not tried to interact in that way, that God is my invisable friend, in some time. That is, in my opinion, a phase. Its' the lower level of stages along the road to mystical union. Mystical union is the highest level of relationship with God and most Christians don't even know about it and will never get there. I will never get there in this life. But it is something, I beileve, we will all experience in after life.

Mystical union is not in the Bible as such. There are verses that pertain to it, but its' not stated explicitly as such. It's part of the voluminous literature of Christian mysticism.

Diverse Expressions of Spirituality

There are as many different views of spirituality and styles of relating to God as there are people to do the relating. Christians are very different. G.K. Chesterton was as different from Billy Graham as was Adli Stevenson from Barry Goldwater. Which is to say as different as Clinton from Bush. Even within the closed ranks of Christian mystics is very diverse. You don't have to relate to God like a big guy in the sky.You can relate to God like a principle or an idea. We can internalize the values and just learn to discern the will of God without having to "hear" or sense works or ideas. Atheists can't understand this because they have to assume it's all made up and so they can only go by words on paper. But they don't even bother to read anything except the bible and that they read for loopholes rather than understanding.

Atheists often confuse popular piety with Christian doctrine and spiritual experience. Popular piety is neither, it is not doctrine nor is it spirituality, at least not in a deep sense. The real depth in spirituality is the mystics; St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, and mystical writers not saints, such as blessed John Riseborke, Madame Guyon, Baron Von Huggle. There are hundreds, or thousands. They are all different. They are a different form each other as Plato from Thomas Kuhn. Reading them will only give us a clue. You can't know God until you open your heart to ho him and begin a relationship with him. Until then it's only stuff you hear about and assumptions not in evidence. The first step is open your heart to God's love. Let God love you. If you think love is control and manipulation then you are just missing the boat on what life is all about.

Being a Christian is about knowing God in a personal way. This means experiencing God's presence, but it means a lot more than that too. It's a personalized relationship which fits the individual's own style; it's a love relationship:

1Jo 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
1Jo 4:8

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is something that has to be experienced to be understood. Once it is experienced it is known. The atheist claims to "just know" there's no God don't stack up to that because they are by their very definition the absence of a relationship. One cannot experince the fact of a thing not existing. We can experience the lack of food, clothes, shelter, taxes, peace, whatever, but that doesn't prove these things don't exist, merely experiencing a want and a lack is not proof of anything.Experiencing the presence is proof of something. Atheists may assume or speculate as "what that really is experience of" but that is not the same as experiencing it. To have this kind of relationship with God is to know God. To know God is to love God because God is love. It is also knowing that God loves us. No one can understand this fom outside the relationship and no one can judge God. People who think they are rejecting God are really just rejecting love.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Trump's Theology is to religion as Trump's job performance is to the Presidency

Image result for Israeli Medal Trump and Cyrus

Israeli Medal Linking Trump with Cyrus

There is a link between Trump's political fascism and theological heresy coming out of his administration. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Fascism doesn't stop at the boarder between world and spirit. It will eventually usurp the place of spirit and this is  what is probably meant about the mark of the beast. Follow the fascism course far enough you will crowd out all devotion to other authority even God. There is a fine article by Fin O'Toole in the Irish times,[1] It really highlights Trump as part of an international fascist movement. O'Toole argues that people have to be brought into fascism gradually and desensitized to cruelty,[2]

Babies in cages "were no mistake by Trump but Test marketing for Barbarism."[3] O'Toole tells us "to grasp what is going on in the world right now, we need to reflect on two things. One is that we are in a phase of trial runs. The other is that what is being tried is fascism – a word that should be used carefully but not shirked when it is so clearly on the horizon. Forget 'post-fascist' – what we are living with is pre-fascism." [4]

Trump is an idiot but he understands Test marketing. According to O'Toole  Fascism needs trial runs. People must get used to giving up freedom.
Fascism does not need a majority – it typically comes to power with about 40 per cent support and then uses control and intimidation to consolidate that power. So it doesn’t matter if most people hate you, as long as your 40 per cent is fanatically committed. That’s been tested out too. And fascism of course needs a propaganda machine so effective that it creates for its followers a universe of “alternative facts” impervious to unwanted realities. [5]

But when you’ve done all this, there is a crucial next step, usually the trickiest of all. You have to undermine moral boundaries,inure people to the acceptance of acts of extreme cruelty. Like hounds, people have to be blooded. They have to be given the taste for savagery. Fascism does this by building up the sense of threat from a despised out-group. This allows the members of that group to be dehumanised. Once that has been achieved, you can gradually up the ante, working through the stages from breaking windows to extermination.[6] He gives examples of international fascism other than America's rigged elections, also the French President  and  he sees Brexit as such an example. Then people must be desensitize to cruelty as with babies in cages.

O'Toole has some important things to say about the international nature of the new fascist movement, But here I am going to depart from his article to make my point about spiritual truth I will follow up on O'Toole another time. At this point I observe the arbitrary nature of Fascist  power. It not only subsumes all logic and authority but it subsumes all other forms of authority because  it has to  be absolute and thus the only real authority. That can't help but lead to the corrosion of the sacred.

Observe the arbitrary nature of Trump's standard of free speech: See, I don’t think that the mainstream media is free speech either because it’s so crooked. It’s so dishonest. So to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me, that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”[7] This is a very confused pronouncement. He actually gets the person wrong in the perspective from which he is speaking. Based upon what I think he means I would re-write it like this: "I shall deem as permissible speech which does not make me angry, speech that is not crooked and that takes my side in all matters." At this point Mazzza's Huffpost article turns to some twitterers to use as docs:

from the Twitter feed:
Today, I am directing my Administration to explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect the free speech rights of ALL AMERICANS. We hope to see more transparency, more accountability, and more FREEDOM! 
More accountability meaning revenge on those who don]t support him? More Tweets:

Replying to @jjmacnab
The creepiest comment came when Trump said that any mainstream media that he thinks are biased against him are not protected by free speech.


This is why a poll found nearly 50% of Trumpers would support Trump if he closed down media outlets for being unfair to Trump: Trump Says It's Not Free Speech to 'Write Bad' About 'Something Good': That's 'Dangerous Speech' [8]
Trumps blurts incoherent answers: 'artcle 2 gives me all these rights at a level no one has seen before. they ruled no collusion no obstruction. they ruled?" [9] They ruled? Who ruled? There has been no ruling of any kind saying there was no obstruction.  Muller said he found 10 possible instances of obstruction.

In order to garner the kind of support that level of total power needs the forces of fascism must control all notions of authority,We can see how this has eroded basic values by looking at the theological heresy that Trump and his co hearts indulge in. Keep in mind that  no major evangelical watchdog has dared to call them on it in a public way. Start with Trumps spoilsport adviser Paula White. A prosperity teacher she asks people to send her their First month's salary for the year.[10]
That could be a pretty significant loss of income for a lot of people. Of course it assumes the jaundiced prosperity teaching which I think misappropriates the covenant relationship that God had with Israel and imposes it upon the religion of the individual and God.
White, who has no seminary degree or formal religious training, became a millionaire through her Florida church and successful televangelism of the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which claims that material wealth is an indication of God’s favor and that the faithful will also prosper financially so long as they give all their money to church leaders. As recently as last year, according to The Guardian, White was openly telling families they could reliably incur God’s good will if they sent their first month’s salary to her ministry. White has also famously defended Trump’s policy of separating migrant children from their families by suggesting that all people who break the law are inherently “sinful.”[11]
White has declared that the white house is holy ground. The reason? Because Paula White has been their and wherever she walks is Holy ground.“I HAVE EVERY RIGHT AND AUTHORITY TO DECLARE THE WHITE HOUSE AS HOLY GROUND BECAUSE I WAS STANDING THERE AND WHERE I STAND IS HOLY”[12] 
So why doesn't the presence of any Christian make a place holy ground? If that's the case than Obama made the white house holy ground already. In that blurs the distinction between sacred and profane.

Perhaps the most egregious example is that Miram Adelson, wife of major Trump contributor Sheldon Adelson wants to add a book of Trump to the Bible.

“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?” Adelson asked, Adelson called President Trump’s unpopularity among American Jews “an oddity that will long be pondered by historians.” According to Adelson, Trump has benefited Jews by moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, by “purging” the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, and by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which was opposed by many in the Jewish community.[13]
I am prepared to accept that this is levity, If not it means this woman has no regard for the Bible as sacred. But it brings up a hilarious aspect, The Israelis have given Trump a medal linking Trump with King Cyrus in the Bible. Cyrus is a hero  of the Jews because he led the Persians to destroy Babylon and thus freed Jews to return to Palestine. But they are quite aware that Cyrus has no idea he was doing God's will, Thus Trump being said to be a modern day Cyrus is their way of politely saying he is a useful  idiot who is easily played.


[1] Fin O'Toole, "Trial Runs for Fascism are in full flow." The Irish Times, (Jn 26, 2018)  (accessed July 14,2019)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Trump quoted by Ed Mazza, "Trump: Mainstream Media Is Not Free Speech, People Who ‘Write Bad are Dangerous’" HuffPost, (July 12, 2019)
(accessed July 14,2019)

[8] from Thye Mazza article in Huffpost, doesn't say what polls.

[9] TYT Nation,  "Delusions ofPower,"  video, You Tube, (Premiered Jul 12, 2019)
(accessed July 14,2019)

[10] Alex Kasprak, "Did Trump's Spiritual Adviser Ask People to Send Her Their January salaries?"Search Snopes Media Group Inc.
 (Feb 1,2019) (accessed July 14,2019)

[11]Staff, "Trump Spiritual Adviser Paula White Announces Ambitious Plans to Expand Religious Empire," Women in the World, (May 11,2019 ).  (accessed July 14,2019)

[12]   "Paula White Says Whitehouse HolyGround" World Religion news (Jyl 10,2019)
(accessed July 14,2019)

[13] Benjamen Gladstomne, "Book of Joshua, Book of  Ester,  Book of Trump..." Fast Froward, (July 11, 2019)  (accessed July 14,2019)

[14] Tara Isaellea Burton, "The Biblical Story The Christian Right uses To Defend Trump" Vox (March 5, 2018)  (accessed July 14,2019)