Saturday, September 16, 2023
A. Universe Displays purposive order Max Planck (1858-1947), Nobel Prize winner and founder of modern physics. 5 "According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails--one independent of the human mind . . . this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient."
......(1)laws have simplicity and elegance.
"The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance, and beauty. That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws and responsible for the universe, " said astrophysicist Paul Davies in his book Superforce (1984). The famous Russian physicist, Alexander Polyakov put it this way in Fortune magazine (October, 1986) ......(2) Universe is fine tuned for life Sir Fred Hoyle, the famous British astronomer and agnostic, in The Intelligent Universe ..commented on the cosmological coincidences discussed by Mackie, "Such properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a thread of happy coincidences. But there are so many odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them." Paul Davies, Author of God and The New Physics, and The Mind of God, skeptic turned believer due to the new evidence on design. From First Things, Tempelton Award address:
"All the richness and diversity of matter and energy we observe today has emerged since the beginning in a long and complicated sequence of self- organizing physical processes. The laws of physics not only permit a universe to originate spontaneously, but they encourage it to organize and complexify itself to the point where conscious beings emerge who can look back on the great cosmic drama and reflect on what it all means."
...The laws that characterize our actual universe, as opposed to an infinite number of alternative possible universes, seem almost contrived-fine-tuned, some commentators have claimed-so that life and consciousness may emerge. To quote Dyson again: it is almost as if "the universe knew we were coming." I cannot prove to you that this is design, but whatever it is it is certainly very clever."Paul Davies, Tempelton Award Address,in First Things "Humanity is Cosmically spoecial,: The Washington post: Howard A. Smith is a lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy and a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/humanity-is-cosmically-special-heres-how-we-know/2016/11/25/cd327520-b0cc-11e6-8616-52b15787add0_story.html?utm_term=.0378288d2447 The first result — the anthropic principle — has been accepted by physicists for 43 years. The universe, far from being a collection of random accidents, appears to be stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life. The strengths of the four forces that operate in the universe — gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions (the latter two dominate only at the level of atoms) — for example, have values critically suited for life, and were they even a few percent different, we would not be here. The most extreme example is the big bang creation: Even an infinitesimal change to its explosive expansion value would preclude life. The frequent response from physicists offers a speculative solution: an infinite number of universes — we are just living in the one with the right value. But modern philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and pioneering quantum physicists such as John Wheeler have argued instead that intelligent beings must somehow be the directed goal of such a curiously fine-tuned cosmos. B. Atheist naturalism can't account for the laws of physics. Paul Davies "Now you may think I have written God entirely out of the picture. Who needs a God when the laws of physics can do such a splendid job? But we are bound to return to that burning question: Where do the laws of physics come from? And why those laws rather than some other set? Most especially: Why a set of laws that drives the searing, featureless gases coughed out of the big bang toward life and consciousness and intelligence and cultural activities such as religion, art, mathematics, and science?" C. Scientists admit fine tuning is a problem for a naturalistic view
One of the three co-authors of inflationary theory, Andrei Linde, sketches out the problem of fine tuning that he takes very seriously. Inflationary theory was concocted to get around fine tuning.
Andrei Linde,Scientific American. Oct 97
......(1) flatness of Universe
"...flatness of space. General relativity suggests that space may be very curved, with a typical radius on the order of the Planck length, or 10^-33 centimeter. We see however, that our universe is just about flat on a scale of 10^28 centimeters, the radius of the observable part of the universe. This result of our observation differs from theoretical expectations by more than 60 orders of magnitude."
......(2) Size of Universe--Plank Density
"A similar discrepancy between theory and observations concerns the size of the universe. Cosmological examinations show that our part of the universe contains at least IO^88 elementary particles. But why is the universe so big? If one takes a universe of a typical initial size given by the Planck length and a typical initial density equal to the Planck density, then, using the standard big bang theory, one can calculate how many elementary particles such a universe might encompass. The answer is rather unexpected: the entire universe should only be large enough to accommodate just one elementary particle or at most 10 of them. it would be unable to house even a single reader of Scientiftc American, who consists of about 10^29 elementary particles. Obviously something is wrong with this theory." ......(3) Timing of expansion
"The fourth problem deals with the timing of the expansion. In its standard form, the big bang theory assumes that all parts of the universe began expanding simultaneously. But how could all the different parts of the universe synchromize the beginning of their expansion? Who gave the command? ......(4) Distribution of matter in the universe
"....there is the question about the distribution of matter in the universe. on the very large scale, matter has spread out with remarkable uniformity. Across more than 10 billion light-years, its distribution departs from perfect homogeneity by less than one part in 10,000..... One of the cornerstones of the standard cosmology was the 'cosmological principle," which asserts that the universe must be homogeneous. This assumption. however, does not help much, because the universe incorporates important deviations from homogeneity, namely. stars, galaxies and other agglomerations of matter. Tence, we must explain why the universe is so uniform on large scales and at the same time suggest some mechanism that produces galaxies." ......(5) The "Uniqueness Problem"
"Finally, there is what I call the uniqueness problem. AIbert Einstein captured its essence when he said: "What really interests ine is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." Indeed, slight changes in the physical constants of nature could have made the universe unfold in a completeIy, different manner. ..... In some theories, compactilication can occur in billions of different ways. A few years ago it would have seemed rather meaningless to ask why space-time has four dimensions, why the gravitational constant is so small or why the proton is almost 2,000 times heavier than the electron. New developments in elementary particle physics make answering these questions crucial to understanding the construction of our world."
D, Scientists confirm fine tuing while trying to eliminate it.
Now Linde is confident that the new inflationary theories will explain all of this, and indeed states that their purpose is to resolve the ambiguity wth which cosmologists are forced to cope. His co-author in inflationary theory. Physicist Paul Steinhardt, had doubts about it as early as his first paper on the subject (1982). He admits that the point of the theory was to eliminate fine tuning (a major God argument), but the theory only works if one fine tunes the constants that control the inflationary period.
John Horgan, “Physicist slams Cosmic Theory he Helped Conceive,” Scientific American Blogs, December 1, 2014. on line, URL http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/physicist-slams-cosmic-theory-he-helped-conceive/ accessed 10/5/15. Horgan interviews Steinhardt.
“The whole point of inflation was to get rid of fine-tuning – to explain features of the original big bang model that must be fine-tuned to match observations. The fact that we had to introduce one fine-tuning to remove another was worrisome. This problem has never been resolved."
see page 2 answers on multiverse
part 3: Earth like planets
Sunday, September 10, 2023
In the previous post I commented on Sean Carroll, astro-physicist and atheist soldier who wave the banner of scientism. He writes an article:"Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists" Actually, he offers no data on the views of cosmologists. I offered reasons in the previous post as to why I think the title here is hyperballe. Good data shows that the majority of scientists believe in God  While it may not be true of cosmologists I have no reason to believe it is not. But this is not the real issue. he real issue is that Carroll's arguments are merely ideological/ all he's doing is imposing a naturalistic ideology upon epistemology and then insisting that he has the mystique of science to back it up. In other word it's just propaganda.
Let's start with his conclusion:
The question we have addressed is, ”Thinking as good scientists and observing the world in which we live, is it more reasonable to conclude that a materialist or theist picture is most likely to ultimately provide a comprehensive description of the universe?” Although I don’t imagine I have changed many people’s minds, I do hope that my reasoning has been clear. We are looking for a complete, coherent, and simple understanding of reality.That seems ok so far but here's where he wants to wind up:
Given what we know about the universe, there seems to be no reason to invoke God as part of this description. In the various ways in which God might have been judged to be a helpful hypothesis — such as explaining the initial conditions for the universe, or the particular set of fields and couplings discovered by particle physics — there are alternative explanations which do not require anything outside a completely formal, materialist description. I am therefore led to conclude that adding God would just make things more complicated, and this hypothesis should be rejected by scientific standards. It’s a venerable conclusion, brought up to date by modern cosmology; but the dialogue between people who feel differently will undoubtedly last a good while longer.
The problem is "what we know" means what we know by the methods that I choose, those methods are chosen because they yield the results I want; other forms of knowledge I do not have to regard. He argues for a self contained paradigm and true to Thomas Kun's theory he absorbs anomalies into the paradigm so as not to admit that they are contradictions and he defends the paradigm like a political regime. My overall argument is that his rejection of theism is ideological not scientific.
In his abstract to the article he makes his purpose clear, that purpose I to rule out belief in God by moving it of the map as an issue. The way to do that is to assert science's role as the only form of knowlege:
AbstractWhy would we be led to be led to a meticulously materialist view just because we believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between fundamental views? It sounds like he is saying that science can determine the truth between differing views. He actually says ifwe believe that it can He's aware that it can't. He knows all he's really doing is just advocating an ideological view point that blinds itself to other possibilities.
Science and religion both make claims about the fundamental workings of the universe. Although these claims are not a priori incompatible (we could imagine being brought to religious belief through scientific investigation), I will argue that in practice they diverge. If we believe that the methods of science can be used to discriminate between fundamental pictures of reality,we are led to a strictly materialist conception of the universe. While the details of modern cosmology are not a necessary part of this argument, they provide interesting clues as to how an ultimate picture may be constructed. [emphasis mine] 
As further evidence of his commitment as a solider of atheism he opposes any sort of peaceful coexistence between science and religion:
One increasingly hears rumors of a reconciliation between science and religion. In major news magazines as well as at academic conferences, the claim is made that that belief in the success of science in describing the workings of the world is no longer thought to be in conflict with faith in God. I would like to argue against this trend, in favor of a more old-fashioned point of view that is still more characteristic of most scientists, who tend to disbelieve in any religious component to the workings of the universe.
He disavows any claim to statistical accuracy in the title saying, "The title ''Why cosmologists are atheists'' was chosen ...simply to bring attention to the fact that I am presenting a common and venerable point of view, not advancing a new and insightful line of reasoning."  That's a new one, I can make false claims about support because I don't mean them and somehow the fact that I'm advocating traditional views guarantees it's veracity. Talk about propaganda! This "common and venerable view" is outmoded and has been left behind by many in scientific circles. Stpehen J, Guild with his non overlapping magisteria found peace with religion by recognizing that religion and science have different purposes. The National Science Teachers Association echos the same concept that science and religion cover differing domains of knowledge. “Explanations involving non-naturalistic or supernatural events, whether or not explicit reference is made to a supernatural being, are outside the realm of science and not part of a valid scientific curriculum.” 
"Essentially I will be defending a position that has come down to us from the Enlightenment, and which has been sharpened along the way by various advances in scientific understanding. In particular, " No scientific understanding has ruled out God. He's appealing to tradition and the emotional investment he's made in enlightenment thinking. "Since very early on, religion has provided a certain way of making sense of the world -- a reason why things are the way they are." I suspect that what he means by that is that religion offered an explanation of the workings of the physical world, such as the river floods because God is mad at us. I have a hard time thinking that Carroll really has a conception of what religion is about. part of what I base that upon is the the things he thinks beat it out:
In modern times, scientific explorations have provided their own pictures of how the world works, ones which rarely confirm the pre-existing religious pictures. Roughly speaking, science has worked to apparently undermine religious belief by calling into question the crucial explanatory aspects of that belief; it follows that other aspects (moral, spiritual, cultural) lose the warrants for their validity. I will argue that this disagreement is not a priori necessary, but nevertheless does arise as a consequence of the scientific method,
Of course before one can say "X has overcome Y" she/he must know what Y is about. Since science doesn't talk about existential or phenomenological matters one cam only conclude that he must think religion is about explaining where the sun came from and why it rains. This especially so since view he is juxtaposing is cosmology. So he must think that understanding the nature of reality is jus a matter of understanding the cosmic layout, planets and stars.
The essence of materialism is to model the world as a formal system, which is both unambiguous and complete as a description of reality. A materialist model may be said to consist of four elements. First, we model the world as some formal (mathematical) structure. (General relativity describes the world as a curved manifold with a Lorentzian metric, while quantum mechanics describes the world as a state in some Hilbert space.Complete as a description of reality? That assumes of course that your methods are up to the task of probing all of reality. He speaks of a complete description and yet look at all that he leaves out/, First I refer the reader to my recent essay "can science prove the basis of modern physics?"  How can he claim a complete description when it can't tell us what the basic building blocks are made out of? Materialism has to rule out miracles. It will rule them out as a matter of course. That is an ideological imperative. Then in a move of pure circular reasoning it will appeal to it's own authority in declaring miracles to be scientifically disproved. All that really means is that they conflict with the ideological scheme of things. Miracles are a part of my reality. They are paert of other people's observations and have been documented scientifically. Any description of the universe that rules them out without genuinely disproving them is incomplete. Then of course there are issues of phenomenological and existential import.
 Sean M. Carroll, "Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists;" On line resource, Prepared for God and Physical Cosmology: Russian-Anglo American Conference on Cosmology and Theology, Notre Dame, January/February 2003. Published in Faith and Philosophy 22, 622 (2005). See also the pdf version. URL:http://preposterousuniverse.com/writings/nd-paper/ accessed Feb 12, 2016.
Carroll is at the California Institute of Technology.
 Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, “How Religious Are America's College and University Professors.” SSRC, (published feb. 2007), PDF URL, accessed 9/4/15 The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of thehttp://religion.ssrc.org/reforum/Gross_Simmons.pdf Association for the Sociology of Religion.
They present a bar graph that show about 35% professor's ar elite research universities believe in God with no doubt. About 27% believe but sometimes have doubts. About 38% are atheists. That actually means that 60% are not atheists. True that's not cosmologists but there is good reason to think the majority of cosmologists are not atheists. The most atheistic groups in the study were psychologists (61%), biologists (about 61%), and mechanical engineers (50%), not physicists (among whose ranks cosmologists number). “Contrary to popular Opinion, atheists and agnostics do not comprise a majority of professors..."
 Carroll, op. cit.
 Ibid. "Introduction."
 Ibid. all further quotes by Carroll are from this article.
 Stephen Jay Gould. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. New York: Ballantine Books. ,2002,
 Statement on Teaching Evolution, National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). Adopted by the NABT Board of Directors on March 15, 1995. no page given, in Three Statememts in Support of Teaching Evolution From Science and Science Education Organizations, A National Science Teachers Association Position Statement (see fn 4) online URL http://www.nap.edu/read/5787/chapter/11#127 (accesed 1/26/2016)
 Joe Hinman, Can Science prove the basis of modern Physics?" Metacrock's blog,Feb. 1, 2016, URL:http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2016/02/can-science-really-prove-basis-of.html accessed 2/14/16.
 Bernard Francis et al, “The Lourdes Medical Cures Re-visited,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (10.1093/jhmas/jrs041) 2012 pdf downloaded SMU page 1-28 all the page numbers given are from pdf
Bernard Francis is former professor Emeritus of medicine, Unversite Claude Bernard Lyon. Elisabeth Sternberg taught at National Institute of Mental Health and The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Elisabeth Fee was at National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
 Jacalyn Duffin, Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints and Healing: Medical Miracles in the Modern World. Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 21, 2008
from Bio on Amazon.com
Jacalyn Duffin, M.D. (Toronto 1974), FRCP(C) (1979), Ph.D. (Sorbonne 1985), is Professor in the Hannah Chair of the History of Medicine at Queen's University in Kingston where she has taught in medicine, philosophy, history, and law for more than twenty years. A practicing hematologist, a historian, a mother and grandmother, she has served as President of both the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. She holds a number of awards and honours for research, writing, service, and teaching. She is the author of five books, editor of two anthologies, and has published many research articles. Her most recent book is an analysis of the medical aspects of canonization, Medical Miracles; Doctors, Saints, and Healing in the Modern World, Oxford University Press, 2009. It was awarded the Hannah Medal of the Royal Society of Canada...
See also Doxa. miracles pages
Sunday, September 03, 2023
This pertains to the Dawkamentaist, the extreme atehsit who just wants to mock and ridicule, I wrote this years ago for Atheistwatch,
In All Fairness the research shows that fundamentalists can also have low self esteem.
I have for a long time now contended that most atheists had low self esteem. I found several sources that asserted it but with no empirical proof. The reason I thought it must be true is because they are always mocking and ridiculing religion and religious people. It struck me that they were doing that to bolster their own egos. I have now found empirical evidence of this notion. There are several studies that claim to demonstrate that atheists have low self esteem. This is still not proof. There is a long way to go to prove the argument, and I'm sure that its not true of all atheists anyway. These studies are limited in many ways. but there are several of them and they do cover more than one culture. It's a good start on exploring a hypothesis. The main study I am examining here, however, is called "rejection of Christianity and Self Esteem." I will refer to this study as RCSE.
All the studies are done by the same group Emyr Williams, Leslie J Francis, Mandy Robbins
University of Wales, Bangor, UK the major study uses A sample of 279 13- to 16-year-old secondary school pupils in Wales completed the Rejection of Christianity Scale and the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory. After controlling for sex differences a small but significant correlation was found between the two variables, indicating that low self-esteem is associated with the rejection of Christianity. Leslie J. Francis did three of the IQ studies that show no correlation between religious belief, lack thereof, and intelligence. The last such study he did was in 1996, but he has done three such studies on IQ and religious belief.
The rejection of Christianity scale was constructed by Francis, but not just for this study. The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventor is standard has been used for a while.The study was done as a smaller piece of a larger picture that consists of several more studies and seeks to understand the relationship between self esteem and religoius belief. The larger picture is an argument that acceptance of Christianity is based upon good self esteem.
Much of the work that measures religiosity uses items that are specifically designed to determine positive valency. For example, the Francis Scale of Attitude toward Christianity (Francis, 1978; Francis & Stubbs, 1987) assesses how positively people feel about God, Jesus, the Bible, prayer and church. Using this instrument, a number of studies have demonstrated a positive association between a positive attitude toward Christianity and a range of positive psychological categories, such as happiness (Francis, Jones, & Wilcox, 2000), general psychological health (Francis, Robbins, Lewis, Quigley, & Wheeler, 2004) and life satisfaction (Lewis, 1998). In particular, several studies have now confirmed the link between a positive attitude toward Christianity and better self-esteem (Jones & Francis, 1996).In other words a fairly large body of work already exists documenting the relationship between acceptance of Christianity and good self esteem. Measurements of things like happiness and self esteem are standard and have long been demonstrated by well validated measurement instruments.
The rejection of Christianity scale:
By way of contrast, the Rejection of Christianity Scale proposed by Greer and Francis (1992) was designed to assess negative valency. The authors of the measure presented 32 negatively phrased questions to a sample of 875 fourth- and fifth-year secondary school pupils attending ten Catholic and ten Protestant schools in Northern Ireland. The questions that received the lowest item-rest-of-test correlations were rejected, leaving a scale of 20 items generating alpha coefficients of 0.94 for the Protestant sample and 0.90 for the Catholic sample. This scale has been shown to have internal consistency reliability among Northern Irish undergraduate students (Lewis, Maltby, & Hersey, 1999) and Welsh undergraduate students (Robbins, Francis, & Bradford, 2003).
Little research has been done to relationships between this measure and self-esteem. Since previous research has shown that there is a positive correlation between self-esteem and indices of religiosity designed with a positive valency (Jones & Francis, 1996), it is hypothesised that a negative relationship will be found between self-esteem and this measure of religiosity designed with negative valency.
A total of 279 secondary school pupils in Wales from years 9, 10 and 11 completed the 20-item Rejection of Christianity Scale (Greer & Francis, 1992) and the 25-item Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1981). One quarter (25%) were aged 13, one third (32%) were aged 14; 30% were aged 15, and 13% were aged 16. Males comprised 56% of the sample and females 44% of the sample.
The Rejection of Christianity Scale (Greer & Francis, 1992) is a 20-item Likert-type instrument, employing a five-point response scale ranging from ‘agree strongly’, through ‘agree’, ‘not certain’, and ‘disagree’, to ‘disagree strongly’. The scale measures negative valency toward Christianity. This scale is designed so that higher scores indicate a higher tendency to reject Christianity.
The Coopersmith Short-Form Self-Esteem Inventory (Coopersmith, 1981) is a 25-item instrument, employing a dichotomous response scale of ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The possible range of scores for this form of the Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory is 0-25, with higher scores indicating higher self-esteem.
Both measures achieved satisfactory Cronbach alpha coefficients (Rejection of Christianity Scale, .88; Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory, .80). After controlling for sex differences by means of partial correlations, the data demonstrated a small, but significant, correlation (r= -0.14, p <.05) between self-esteem (M = 15.3, SD = 4.9) and rejection of Christianity (M = 62.7, SD = 13.2) indicating that as teenagers’ endorsement of negative statements concerning Christianity increases, their scores of negative self-esteem also tend to increase.
The present study has explored the relationship between rejection of Christianity and self-esteem among adolescents in Wales. After controlling for sex differences a small but significant negative(References used by RCSE can be seen in link above).
correlation is found between high-self esteem and rejection of Christianity, as hypothesised. This finding strengthens the conclusions drawn from studies like that of Jones and Francis (1996), which demonstrated a positive correlation between high self-esteem and a positive attitude toward Christianity by demonstrating that the association is not a function of the valency of the measure of religiosity. Evidence of this nature appears to be suggesting that the Christian tradition is supportive of the development of self-esteem among young people rather than detrimental to it.
The major criticism is that this study is not representative. It's only a small sample of Welsh children.
The rejection of Christianity scale has been validated.
This scale has been shown to have internal consistency reliability among Northern Irish undergraduate students (Lewis, Maltby, & Hersey, 1999) and Welsh undergraduate students (Robbins, Francis, & Bradford, 2003).
That is to say these are not the same as above, where those were done on secondary students these are done on college (Undergraduate). Although Wales and Ireland are basically the same general culture. The work on self esteem and rejection of Christianity is just getting started. The other pieces of the puzzle in this equation have all been put in place. The rejection of Christianity scale has been validated cross culturally in several studies. The link between postie self esteem and acceptance of Christianity has been validated cross culturally and the attitude toward Christianity scale has been validated cross culturally. Francis scale of attitude toward Christianity has been cross validated in Hong Kong and Belgium.
A second argument used by atheists is that kinds are being given negative self images by religion, they are blamed for being gay and other things churches call 'sin' thus they are given their negative self esteem in return they reject religion because it has rejected them. On the face of it that looks a pretty likely senerio. Through what mechanism does this happen? Is it inherent in all religion or is there way to avoid it? Ralph Peidmont wrote a book that is part of a mulch-volume set called Research into the Social Scientific Study of Religion volume 16.He discusses a study by Francis (p105) that establishes a positive correlation between a positive God image and high self esteem. In other words if you teach children that God is good and loves them they will will tend to have higher self esteem than if you teach them a negative, that is critical, fault finding, legalistic, blame oriented view of God.
The Fracis study in Peidmont's book used
...a 735 secondary pupils between 11-18 competed the Coopersmith Self-Esteem inventory and Revised Junior Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and a semantic differential index of God images in order to examine the relationship between God images and self-esteem while controlling for personality factors. The data demonstrates a significant corroboration between positive God images and positive self esteem, after controlling for individual differences in personality. (105)
Peidmont traces the currents of social science research on the top through seven different "strands" of thought which include everything form "religions causes negative self-esteem" to "religion causes postiive self esteem" and all the machinations one can think of based upon variations of those two poles. The problem is none of that research was based upon the kind scientific instruments and controls that Francis uses. Peidmont discusses the work of Spilka and Benson who start from the other end of the spectrum and investigate the assumption that self-esteem shapes he acceptability of God images. Francis in Peidmont quotes Benson and Spilka in 1973:
Persons with high levels of self esteem may find it difficult to share the same religious belief. A theology predicated upon a loving accepting God is cognitively compatible with high self esteem, but it could be a source of discomfort for a believer low in self esteem. It does not make good cognitive sense to be loved when one is unlovable. Consequently the latter person can march to a different theology, one that is more consistent with his self image. (Benson and Spilka 209-210).
The implications are intriguing becuase it not only means that people who present a mean legalistic view of God have low self-esteem, not only that atheist's rejection of God is due to their low self esteem but that for those atheists who really rail against God as evil, mean, and vicious, they are really railings against themselves. Whereas it doesn't necessarily follow that we can correct it by teaching people that God is loving. Would they just reject the notion of a loving God because it doesn't fit their sense of self?
Benson and Spilka* did two studies in (73) and (75). the latter done by Spilka, Addison and Rosenshon. Both studies determined self esteem by a modified Coopersmith. They assessed God images by means of semantic differential grid which generated two scales defined as measuring a loving God image and a controlling God image.Self-esteem was negatively related to a wrathful God image. Among female students self esteem was negatively related to a wrathful God image. Although Peidmont shows other studies that didn't find a correlation, Cartier and Goehner (1976) related measures of self-esteem with God images (Peidmont 109).
The significance of this is two fold. If it is true that theological teaching is to blame for self image, or to laud for good self image, it behooves the chruch to seek to teach healing images of God. This may be a huge short coming for which a great deal of theological education deserves blame. It may also be the case that being an atheist, at least for some, has less to do with reason and logic as the atheist tyr to argue it does, and more to do with hidden psychological motives.
Monday, August 28, 2023
Paul Tillich 1886-1965
In this essay, which is a chapter from the new book I'm now working on, I'm moving toward defining what I think Tillich means exactly by being itself. It's a long journey but an important one.What does Tillich actually mean by “being itself?” Does he mean the same things as other theologians who use the phrase? It’s a mysterious sounding phrase and Tillich never actually comes out and says what he means by it. As I will show there is a reason for this, and I will show what I think that reason in is. In the mean time the task of this chapter is to deduce exactly what Tillich actually means by this phrase. There are three basic possibilities:
Three alternatives as to meaning
(1) The basic fact that things exist is all that the concept of “God” amounts to.
(2) There is a special quality to being, an impersonal aspect” ground of being” or “being itself” and that quality constitutes ‘the divine.’ This possibility excludes God as “king of the universe.”
(3) God is beyond our understanding, we can’t explain God but God is on a higher metaphysical level, and is not a thing to be classed with other things in creation; God is foundational to creation and to all things; God is “on the order of being itself; this might include but is not limited to a consciousness, or something like a Platonic form.
The first alternative can be ruled out immediately. If this were the case it would make Tillich an out and out atheist, with no belief in “God” to any real extent, and a very cynical atheist (more so than most) because he would be an atheist who can’t openly own up to his atheism. This is not really realistic possibility and this becomes clear as one reads Tillich. He’s clearly talking about something that is real and that is distinguished form just the mere fact that things exist. In fact he ruled this out himself in speaking of being “having depth” and excluding the possibility of atheism on the grounds that “being has depth” and that if one is aware of this one cannot be an atheist.
The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not.
This one quote is very important because it gives us several clues as to the meaning of the phrase as well as how to understand the reality of God as the Ground of Being. We will come back to this phrase. For the moment the important point to realize is that since he distinguishes between being as having depth, and “surface level of things” presumably the mere fact of existence, it seems clear he’s saying God is more than just the fact that things exist. This still doesn’t let him off the hook, however, in the eyes of some theological groups because it does not allay the Evangelical fears that what he really means is still un impersonal source of life rather than a God with a will and plan for your life. I will argue eventually that he does mean a God with will and a plan for your life, although the “plan” may not be as overt as we would like, the will may be harder to discern than we would like.
The second alternative, a special aspect of being, is no doubt part of what he means. I set up the second alternative to raise the issue raised by one of my former professors from Perkins school of Theology (SMU) that Tillich is merely reducing God below the level of the cognitive will to avoid coping with the moral aspects of God’s commands.  The issue of consciousness and personhood of God will be discussed in a subsequent chapter, and must be bracketed for the moment. On the other hand, to the extent that third alternative implies a stronger connection to the personal or the conscious than does the first I must tip my hand already and say that I will argue for the third alternative. Tillich does say that God is not “a person” (because he’s not a thing among other things in creation—not a contingency) but is “the personal itself.” This implies that God does contain an aspect of the conscious in some sense, specifically the structure that gives rise to consciousness as a whole. He speaks of being’s self affirmation. This might lead us to think that he really did hold out of a “personal God,” and yet what is the “personal itself?” We are back at square one wondering what this “itself” thing is about. If the third alternative is not what Tillich had in mind, which I argue it is, it is what I have in mind anyway. Nevertheless, one clue we have is the distinction between possibility 2 and possibility 3, and what Tillich is doing with the concept of God in speaking this way. There is a more important distinction between option 2 and 3 than just the personal dimension; that of the distinction between God as just an aspect of being alongside other aspects, vs God as the basis of all reality, which the term “ground of being” might imply. The issue here is independent of the personal dimension, but no less important. The major point that Tillich is trying to make in speaking of God as “being itself” rather than “as aspect of being” is that God is not just another part of being; God is the basis of all being. The way of approaching the topic and the way speaking about God is Tillich’s attempt to guard the mystery of God without trying to explain things that are beyond our understanding, while communicating enough to tease one into seeking deeper realization.
We can see this method at work in the way Tillich writes about other great Christian theologians. One such example is his take on Luther. Luther was one of his heroes, he was Lutheran, so it’s only natural that he would seek to spot one of his pet issues in Luther’s work. I am sure that he’s reading it in, or rather, I am prepared to find that he’s reading it in. If one were to argue “he’s only reading his own hobby horse into Luther,” I would be content to go along with that take. On the other hand, there must be element of this view in Luther that allow him to read it in (if that’s what he’s doing) and more importantly, it does show us what Tillich believed, whether or not it shows us what Luther thought. Tillich believed that Luther had one of the most profound conceptions of God in human history.  Tillich quotes Luther:
Luther Denies everything which could make God finite, or a being beside others. ‘Nothing is so small, God is even smaller. Nothing is so Large God is even larger.’ ‘He is an unspeakable being, above and outside everything we can name and think. Who knows what this is, which is called-- God?’ ‘It is beyond body, beyond spirit, beyond everything we can see, hear and think.’ He makes the great statement that God is nearer to all creatures then they are to themselves. Tillich quotes Luther:
‘God has found a way that his own divine essence can be completely in all creatures, and in everyone especially, deeper, more internally, more present than the creature is to itself an at the same time and at the same time no where and can’t be comprehended by anyone so that he embraces all things and is within them. God is at the same time in every piece of sand totally, and nevertheless in all above all and out of all creatures.’Tillich continues:
In these formulae the only conflict between theistic and pantheistic tendencies is solved; they show the greatness of God, the inescapability of his presence, and at the same time his absolute transcendence. I would say very dogmatically that any doctrine of God that leaves out one of these elements does not really speak of God but of something less than God. (emphasis mine).
This is a very important concept and the key to the whole issue of understanding the notion of God as being itself; that is this idea that God is not a being alongside other beings in the universe, or in creation. God is the basis of all being. In fact Tillich does not speak of God as “a being” he leaves out the “a” but simply says that God is “being itself” not “a being itself.”
Leaving out the “a” is essential to understanding the concept. This is essential because the whole concept turns upon the idea that God is above the level things, above contingency, in a category by itself. True to the mystical concept Tillich understands that God is beyond our comprehension. God blows away all of our easy preconceived categories that we have taken for granted since we first learned to talk. Yet though God is beyond everything we name, think, or understand, he is beyond these things in a metaphysical sense; yet “God does not sit beside the world looking at it from outside but he is acting in everything in every moment.” Tillich understands omnipotence not as talk about what God can and cannot do but as “creative power.” It’s this sense of God as a dynamic reality working actively in concert with the natural world that endears him to the process theologians. 
Of course none of this will satisfy the “new atheist” fundamentalists. The atheist fundies want only hard facts. This is all a phantasmagoria of made up crap. But, to get to the point where we can talk about the “facts” we have to be certain of what we are talking about. It’s very important to understand the concepts clearly. Some of the atheists with whom I have tried to discuss these things for years, still do not get the “not a being” aspect of it. Because they don’t understand this their arguments never apply. They are constantly arguing “there can be no such thing as a necessary being.” But their argument applies to a big man in the sky, a localized individual being who is like others, one of many, and who functions in a very similar way to biological humanity. They can’t for the life of them seem to understand the concept that eternal necessary being doesn’t mean “an eternal necessary being” but “being itself” the thing that being is, the begin ness of being so to speak, rather an individual being. Dawkins argument that God is improbable (The God Delusion) is based upon these same assumptions. Thus the argument he makes would not apply to any Christians view because it assumes God is a big biological organism, but it applies even less to Tillich’s view because it assumed on top of that that God is an individual manifestation of being and thus subject to being. Anything using the indefinite article assumes one of many. A penny assumes there is more than one penny, and this particular penny is an example of the many pennies that there are. A being is one of many, it is an example of one of the many beings that there are. But God is not a single individual being. That doesn’t mean there’s more than one God, it means that God transcends the easily understood category that we take for granted. In New Testament God is “The God” (‘0 Theos). This is a way of speaking of the quality of divinity itself. Literally John 1: 1 says “The God.” “The word was with the God.” One could translate the word was with deity, or as “the word was divine.”
This is the sort of reason for which Tillich loses the “a” in “being.” God is not one of many but is on a higher level and belongs to a higher class. God is not a product of being. God is not subject to being, conversely God cannot cease being. This is part of what Tillich means by “depth.” If we know being has depth we can’t be atheists. Why would that be? Because the situation in regard to being is not what it seems on the surface? The easily taken for granted situation that appears on the surface is not what is, and what is, is not what seems to be. We look at the surface we assume things exist, all that exists must be tangible and must be one of the many things in the world, the huge list of ships and strings and sealing wax, cabbages and kings; yet God does not belong on the list. God is not one of these things but is the basis of these things.
God is the foundation of their existence, the basis upon which they are allowed to cohere; the ground of their being. Thus God is above the list. The divine cannot be represented with the indefinite article because there can only be one ground of being. There can’t be a pantheon, they would all cancel each other out; which one is the ground of the other’s being? If there is one being in all of existence, then that one being is the ground of all being. If there is not one they all cancel each other out because they are all the ground of being then there is no ground of being. One could argue “its existence by a committee” but what’s the ground of the committee? If each member of the committee is “a being” then how can the committee itself be “the ground of being?”
Atheists pondering that will probably think in terms of a committee of very powerful beings could so make all the objects in the universe and thus be the creators of the universe. Sure they could but that’s not really the point. That would just be moving problem back one stage because you have to ask “what is the ground of being for this committee. It’s an eternal committee of individual’s beings that are not the ground of being but as a committee they are the ground of being? The problematic nature here is obvious. It’s much more elegant to propose a single ground of all being that is eternal, necessary, self sustaining and that transcends any particular list of articles in the universe by virtue of the fact that it is the maker of list. This is an example of what Tillich means by this enigmatic phrase “if you know being has depth you can’t be an atheist.” But of course to move to the point where it’s more than just a concept we need to say more. What does Tillich really mean by the phrase “ground of being,” what does that tell us about the nature of God? Tillich is fond of saying that God is the power of being.
God – power of being
Tillich speaks of God as the “Power of being,” and in his Systematic Theology (vol. II) He groups this phrase with ground of being and being itself as epithets of the divine. In volume II he explains what he means by the power of being and he does so in the context of answering an argument leveled at this concept by the nominalists. This is an example of what has been said above about Tillich’s concern for the philosophical controversies of the middle ages; the period was still living in Tillich’s mind. Yet this is not merely an example of a musty out of date thinker raking up ideas form the past no one understands or holds to, or reliving battles of the past long forgotten. When we read the term “nominalistis” in his writings we should read “modern scientific reductionists” as well as from Tillich’s time “postivisits.” The analogy is perfect and it was very real for Tillich. The same criticism made by the nominalists is made by modern reductionsits and scientism buffs. This very argument that Tillich answers in his Systematic Theology volume II has been made against my discussion of God as being itself by modern reductionistic atheists on the internet. This is a very long passage but it is well worth reading because it speaks volumes. Note in this passage the link between ground of being and power of being:
When a doctrine of God is initiated by defining God as being itself, the philosophical concept of being is introduced into systematic theology. This was so in the earliest period of Christian theology and has been so in the whole history of Christian thought. It appears in the present system [meaning in his systematic theology] in three places, in the doctrine of God where God is called being as being or the ground and the power of being; in the doctrine of man…and in the doctrine of Christ where he is called manifestation of New Being…In spite of the fact that classical theology has always used the concept of “being” the term has been criticized from the standpoint of nominalistic philosophy and that of personalistic theology. Considering the prominent role which the concept plays in the system it is necessary to reply to the criticisms and at the same time to clarify the way in which the term is used in its different applications.
The criticism of the nominalists and their positivistic decedents to the present day is based upon the assumption that the concept of being represents the highest possible abstraction. It is understood as the gneus to which all other genera are subordinated with respect to universality and with respect to the degree of abstraction. If this were the way in which the concept of being is reached, nominalism could interpret it as it interprets all universals, namely, as communicative notions which point to particulars but have no reality of their own. Only the completely particular, the thing here and now, has reality. Universals are means of communication without any power of being. Being, as such, therefore, does not designate anything real. God, if he exists, exists as a particular and could be called the most individual of all beings.
The answer to this argument is that the concept of being does not have the character that nominalism attributed to it. It is not the highest abstraction, although it demands the ability of radical abstraction. It is the expression of the experience of being over against non-being. Therefore, it can be described as the power of being which resists non being. For this reason the medieval philosophers called being the basic transcendetntale, beyond the universal and the particular. In this sense was understood alike by such people as Parmenides in Greece and Shankara in India. In this sense its significance has been rediscovered by contemporary existentialists such as Heidegger and Marcle. The idea of being lies beyond the conflict of nominalism and realism. The same word, the emptiest of all concepts when taken as an abstraction, becomes the most meaningful of all concepts when it is understood as the power of being in everything that has being.
Tillich tells us that the notion of God as being itself is old; it can be taken back to the pre-Socratics. It has been used throughout the history of the church. The two major criticisms are the idea that it is nothing but an empty abstraction and that is means an impersonal view of God. As will be seen both criticisms are false. The criticism that it is an empty abstraction is basically a reductionist criticism, going all the way back to the nominalists. In its modern incarnation it is a reductionist criticism. In refuting this argument Tillich implicitly denies that his concept of God is anything like an atheistic concept. He denies that his view is that the fact of existing things is God, or God is nothing more than the sheer fact of existence. The alternative to mere abstraction that Tillich offers is the “power of being.” By that he means being as an active force that resist nothingness. He almost makes it sound like nothingness is an active force, or like gravity, pulls us to the center of mass, or like water draining out of a sink. We are being sucked down the drain to the sewer of nothingness except the drain stopper of being prevents this. The transcendental transcends both universal and particular according to Tillich. In Platonic analogy that would give being itself the role of “the one” as the form of the forms. That’s probably somehow analogous to the role the idea played in Tillich’s understanding. What he says about the same word can be either the emptiest or the most meaningful of terms depending upon one’s assumptions, is actually a good fleshing out of what he means by being having depth. Not only is he saying that things are not as they seem on the surface, but one way in which they are not the same is that there’s a power to being that resists nothingness. Being is “on,” by that I mean it’s a positive force; it is the most basic thing aside from nothingness.
The quotation given above continues:
No philosophy can suppress the notion of being in this latter sense. It be hidden under presuppositions and reductive formulas, but it nevertheless underlies the basic concepts of philosophizing. For “being” remains the content, the mystery and the eternal aporia of thinking. No theology can suppress the notion of being as the power of being. One cannot separate them. In the moment in which one says that God is or that he has being, the question arises as to how his relation to being is understood. The only possible answer seems to be that God is being itself, the sense of the power of being, or of the power to conquer non being.
At this point the terminology gets sloppy and hazy. Is God the power of being? Is being itself the power of being? Is being the power of being? If being is the “power of being.” This is a redundant phrase. What does “being is the power of being” tell us about what being is? Of course we can always sort it out in our own way and hope we are on the same page with Tillich. God is the power of being, but that would mean that God is also something other than being which furnishes being its power. Unless we want to say that Being is power. What is being? Power. What is power, being? What in the heck are we saying? The answer is that Tillich says himself this phase “God is being itself” is a metaphorical way of speaking. It’s a symbol, it’s not meant to be a literal and precise formation tracing the essence of the divine. We might also note that John MacQuarrie makes a distinction between Being and “the beings.” Contingent beings are “the beings” and they cohere in reality because they participate in Being as creatures of the Being itself. Being is the power to resist nothingness, the power to be. Thus we can say God is the basis upon which all that is coheres and has its being. God is the basis upon which “the beings” (all existing things) have their being. The power of being is its nature to generate becoming. Just as existentialism presupposes an essential to play off of, so becoming presupposes state of Being to develop from. Yet, these statements must be taken as metaphors, as Tillich himself says. We cannot understand these terms as scientific style terms which accurately tell us the physical make up and dimensions of a given object. These are not ways to promote a scientific understanding of God, or could hey be nor should they be.
 Paul Tillich, The Shaking of the Foundations. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1948.
 This was raised in a private discussion when one of my former professors was told I was working on this project.
 Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be. London and Glasgow: Collins, the Fontana Library, 1952-74.175
 Tillich, History, 247
 Ibid.  Ibid
 That is according to my friend Scott Gross who studied process theology at Claremont with Hartshorne, D.Z. Phillips.
 Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology volume II, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957, 10-11.
 John MacQuarrie, Principles of Christian Theology, op cit (find where he says being and the beings)
Sunday, August 27, 2023
Sunday, August 20, 2023
Two things are wrong with Stenger’s approach. First, he doesn’t use Lourdes or any other empirical record of miracles. He’s going entirely by double blind studies which can’t control for prayer from outside the control group; that makes such studies virtually worthless. So in effect Stenger is taking the work of people who try to empirically measure what is beyond the empirical, then when it doesn’t work he says “see, there’s nothing beyond the empirical.” That proves nothing more than the fact that we can’t measure that which is beyond measuring. Secondly, he doesn’t deal with the real religious experience studies or the M scale. That means he’s not really dealing with the empirical effects of supernature. I’ve just demonstrated good reason to think that supernature Is working in nature. It’s not an alien realm outside the natural, it’s not a miracle it’s not something that sets its self apart form the daily regular workings of the world. Supernature is of God but nature is of God. God made nature and he works in nature. We can tell the two apart by the results. Now I am going to deal with the other two issues, are there realms beyond the natural? Are there evidences of a form of supernatural in the world that stand apart from the natural such that we can call them “miracles?”
Are there realms beyond the natural? Of course there can be no direct evidence, even a direct look at them would stand apart from our received version of reality and thus be suspect. The plaintive cry of the materialists that “there is no evidence for the supernatural” is fallacious to the core. How can there be evidence when any evidence that might be would automatically be suspect? Moreover, science itself gives us reason to think there might be. Quantum physics is about unseen realms, but they are the world of the extremely tiny. This is the fundamental basis of reality, what’s beneath or behind everything. They talk about “particles” but in reality they are not particles. They are not bits of stuff. They are not solid matter. Treating particles as points is also problematic. This is where string theory comes in.
This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants: 10 spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.
So where are they then? One idea is that they are right under our noses, but compacted to the quantum scale so that they are imperceptible. "Hang on a minute", you might think,"How can you ever prove the existence of something that, by definition, is impossible to perceive?" It's a fair point, and there are scientists who criticize string theory for its weak predictive power and testability. Leaving that to one side, how can you conceptualize extra dimensions?
There is no direct evidence of these unseen realms and they may be unprovable. Why are they assumed with such confidence and yet reductionsts make the opposite assumption about spiritual realms? It’s not because the quantum universe realms are tangible or solid or material they are not. Scientists can’t really describe what they are, except that they are mathematical. In fact why can’t they be the same realms?
Then there’s the concept of the multiverse. This is not subatomic in size but beyond our space/time continuum. These would be other universes perhaps like our own, certainly the size of our own, but beyond our realm of space/time. Some scientists accept the idea that the same rules would apply in all of these universes, but some don’t.
Beyond it [our cosmic visual horizon—42 billion light years] could be many—even infinitely many—domains much like the one we see. Each has a different initial distribution of matter, but the same laws of physics operate in all. Nearly all cosmologists today (including me) accept this type of multiverse, which Max Tegmark calls “level 1.” Yet some go further. They suggest completely different kinds of universes, with different physics, different histories, maybe different numbers of spatial dimensions. Most will be sterile, although some will be teeming with life. A chief proponent of this “level 2” multiverse is Alexander Vilenkin, who paints a dramatic picture of an infinite set of universes with an infinite number of galaxies, an infinite number of planets and an infinite number of people with your name who are reading this article.
Well there are two important things to note here. First, that neither string theory nor multiverse may ever be proved empirically. There’s a professor at Columbia named Peter Woit who writes the blog “Not Even Wrong” dedicated to showing that string theory can’t be proved. There is no proof for it or against it. It can’t be disproved so it can’t be proved either. That means the idea will be around for a long time because without disproving it they can’t get rid of it. Yet without any means of disproving it, it can’t be deemed a scientific fact. Remember it’s not about proving things it’s about disproving them. Yet science is willing to consider their possibility and takes them quite seriously. There is no empirical evidence of these things. They posit the dimensions purely as a mathematical solution so the equations work not because they have any real evidence.
We could make the argument that we have several possibilities for other worlds and those possibilities suggest more: we have the idea of being “outside time.” There’s no proof that this is place one can actually go to, but the idea of it suggests the possibility, there’s the world of anti-matter, there are worlds in string membranes, and there are other dimensions tucked away and folded into our own. In terms of the multiverse scientists might argue that they conceive of these as “naturalistic.” They would be like our world with physical laws and hard material substances and physical things. As we have seen there are those who go further and postulate the “rules change” idea. We probably should assume the rules work the same way because its all we know. We do assume this in making God arguments such as the cosmological argument. Yet the possibility exists that there could be other realms that are not physical and not “natural” as we know that concept. The probability of that increases when we realize that these realms are beyond our space/time thus they are beyond the domain of our cause and effect, and we know as “natural.” It really all goes back to the philosophical and ideological assumption about rules. There is no way to prove it either way. Ruling out the possibility of a spiritual realm based upon the fact that we don’t live in it would be stupid. The idea that “we never see any proof of it” is basically the same thing as saying “we don’t live it so it must not exist.” Of course this field is going to be suspect, and who can blame the critics? Anyone with a penchant for the unknown can set up shop and speculate about what might be “out there.” Yet science itself offers the possibility in the form of modern physics, the only rationale for closing that off is the distaste for religion.
All that is solid melts into air
This line by Marx deals with society, social and political institutions, but in thinking about the topic of SN it suggests a very different issue. The reductionst/materialists and phsyicalists assume and often argue that there is no proof of anything not material and not ‘physical” (energy is a form of matter). The hard tangible nature of the physical is taken as the standard for reality while the notion of something beyond our ability to dietetic is seen in a skeptical way, even though the major developments in physics are based upon it. Is the physical world as tangible and solid as we think? Science talks about “particles” and constructs models of atoms made of wooden tubes and little balls this gives us the psychological impression that the world of the very tiny is based upon little solid balls. In reality subatomic particles are not made out of little balls, nor are these ‘particles” tangible or solid. In fact we could make a strong argument that no one even knows what they are made of.
We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions. This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants:  spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.9 Particles are not solid; they are not very tiny chunks of solid stuff. They have no volume nor do they have the kind of stable existence we do. They “pop” in and out of existence! This is not proof for the supernatural. It might imply that the seeming solidity of “reality” is illusory. There are two kinds of subatomic particles, elementary and composite. Composite are made are made out of smaller particles. Now we hear it said that elementary particles are not made out of other particles. It’s substructure is unknown. They may or may not be made of smaller particles. That means we really don’t know what subatomic particles are made of. That means scientists are willing to believe in things they don’t understand.10 While it is not definite enough to prove anything except that we don’t know the basis of reality, it does prove that and also the possibilities for the ultimate truth of this are still wide open. To rule out “the supernatural” (by the wrong concept) on the assumption that we have no scientific proof of it is utterly arrogance and bombast. For all we know what we take to be solid unshakable reality might be nothing more than God’s day dream. Granted, there is end to the spinning of moon beams and we can talk all day about what ‘might be,’ so we need evidence and arguments to warrant the placing of confidence in propositions. We have confidence placing evidence; it doesn’t have to be scientific although some of it is. That will come in the next chapter. The point here is that there is no basis for the snide dismissal of concepts such as supernatural and supernature.
1 Victor Stenger, God and The Folly of Faith: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion. Amherst: New York: Prometheus Books, 2012. 225.
2 Stenger, ibid, quoting National Academy of Sciences, Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington DC: National Academies Press, 1998, 58.
3 STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Science and Facilities Council, 2012 URL: http://www.lhc.ac.uk/The%20Particle%20Detectives/Take%205/13686.aspx
5 George F.R. Ellis. “Does the Miltiverse Really Exist [preview]” Scientific American (July 19, 2011) On line version URL: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=does-the-multiverse-really-exist George F.R. Ellis is Professor Emeritus in Mathematics at University of Cape Town. He’s been professor of Cosmic Physics at SISSA (Trieste)
6 Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong, Posted on September 18, 2012 by woi blog, URL: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/
7 ibid, “Welcome to the Multiverse,” Posted on May 21, 2012 by woit URL: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=4715
8 Mohsen Kermanshahi. Universal Theory. “String Theory.” Website URL:http://www.universaltheory.org/html/others/stringtheory5.htm
9 STFC ibid, op cit.
10 Giorgio Giacomelli; Maurizio Spurio Particles and Fundamental Interactions: An Introduction to Particle Physics (2nd ed.). Italy: Springer-Verlag, science and Business media, 2009, pp. 1–3.
Saturday, August 12, 2023
1) Myth is not a dirty word, not a lie. Myth is a very healthy thing. 2) The point of the myth is the point the story is making--not the literal historical events of the story. So the point of mythologizing creation is not to transmit historical events but to make a point. We will look more closely at these two points. 3) I don't assume mythology in the Bible out of any tendency to doubt miracles or the supernatural, I believe in them. I base this purely on the way the text is written.
The purpose of myth is often assumed to be the attempt of unscientific or superstitious people to explain scientific facts of nature in an unscientific way. That is not the purpose of myth. A whole new discipline has developed over the past 60 years called "history of religions." Its two major figures are C.G. Jung and Marcea Eliade. In addition to these two, another great scholarly figure arises in Carl Kerenyi. In addition to these three, the scholarly popularizer Joseph Champbell is important. Champell is best known for his work The Hero with A Thousand Faces. This is a great book and I urge everyone to read it. Champbell, and Elliade both disliked Christianity intensely, but their views can be pressed into service for an understanding of the nature of myth. Myth is, according to Champbell a cultural transmission of symbols for the purpose of providing the members of the tribe with a sense of guidance through life. They are psychological, not explanatory of the physical world. This is easily seen in their elaborate natures. Why develop a whole story with so many elements when it will suffice as an explanation to say "we have fire because Prometheus stole it form the gods?" For example, Champell demonstrates in The Hero that heroic myths chart the journey of the individual through life. They are not explanatory, but clinical and healing. They prepare the individual for the journey of life; that's why in so many cultures we meet the same hero over and over again; because people have much the same experiences as they journey though life, gaining adulthood, talking their place in the group, marriage, children, old age and death. The hero goes out, he experiences adventures, he proves himself, he returns, and he prepares the next hero for his journey. We meet this over and over in mythology.
In Kerenyi's essays on a Science of Mythology we find the two figures of the maiden and the Krone. These are standard figures repeated throughout myths of every culture. They serve different functions, but are symbolic of the same woman at different times in her life. The Krone is the enlightener, the guide, the old wise woman who guides the younger into maidenhood. In Genesis we find something different. Here the Pagan myths follow the same outline and contain many of the same characters (Adam and Adapa—see, Cornfeld Archaeology of the Bible 1976). But in Genesis we find something different. The chaotic creation story of Babylon is ordered and the source of creation is different. Rather than being emerging out of Tiamot (chaos) we find "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Order is imposed. We have a logical and orderly progression (as opposed to the Pagan primordial chaos). The seven days of creation represent perfection and it is another aspect of order, seven periods, the seventh being rest. Moreover, the point of the story changes. In the Babylonian myth the primordial chaos is the ages of creation, and there is no moral overtone, the story revolves around other things. This is a common element in mythology, a world in which the myths happen, mythological time and place. All of these elements taken together are called Myths, and every mythos has a cosmogony, an explanation of creation and being (I didn't say there were no explanations in myth.). We find these elements in the Genesis story, Cosmogony included. But, the point of the story becomes moral: it becomes a story about man rebelling against God, the entrance of sin into the world. So the Genesis account is a literary rendering of pagan myth, but it stands that myth on its head. It is saying God is the true source of creation and the true point is that life is about knowing God.
The mythological elements are more common in the early books of the Bible. The material becomes more historical as we go along. How do we know? Because the mythical elements of the first account immediately drop away. Elements such as the talking serpent, the timeless time ("in the beginning"), the firmament and other aspects of the myth all drop away. The firmament was the ancient world's notion of the world itself. It was a flat earth set upon angular pillars, with a dome over it. On the inside of the dome stars were stuck on, and it contained doors in the dome through which snow and rain could be forced through by the gods (that's why Genesis says "he divided the waters above the firmament from the waters below”). We are clearly in a mythological world in Genesis. The Great flood is mythology as well, as all nations have their flood myths. But as we move through the Bible things become more historical.
The NT is not mythological at all. The Resurrection of Christ is an historical event and can be argued as such (see Resurrection page). Christ is a flesh and blood historical person who can be validated as having existed. The resurrection is set in an historical setting, names, dates, places are all historically verifiable and many have been validated. So the major point I'm making is that God uses myth to communicate to humanity. The mythical elements create the sort of psychological healing and force of literary strength and guidance that any mythos conjures up. God is novelist, he inspires myth. That is to say, the inner experience model led the redactors to remake ancient myth with a divine message. But the Bible is not all mythology; in fact most of it is an historical record and has been largely validated as such.
The upshot of all of this is that there is no need to argue evolution or the great flood. Evolution is just a scientific understanding of the development of life. It doesn't contradict the true account because we don't have a "true" scientific account. In Genesis, God was not trying to write a science text book. We are not told how life developed after creation. That is a point of concern for science not theology.
How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? Not because it contains big amazing miracle prophecy fulfillments, not because it reveals scientific information which no one could know at the time of writing, but for the simplest of reasons. Because it does what religious literature should do, it transfors people's lives.
 Carl Jung, Britaica,2023,https://www.britannica.com/biography/Carl-Jung
 Mircea Elide, Ibid. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Mircea-Eliade
 Karoky Kerenyi, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A1roly_Ker%C3%A9nyi
 Joseph Campbell, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell