Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Greatness has Left the Planet (Ingmar Bergmann dies)

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From Bermann's greatest work The Seventh Seal

In my view the greatest film maker ever was Ingmar Bergmann. Today, July 30th greatness left the world as Bergmann himself finally danced off over the horizon with Death, just as his knight hero Antonius Bach does in The Seventh Seal, Bergmann's greatest film, a film any critics have doubted "the greatest film ever made."

Bergmann was an atheist, the son of a minister and Chaplin to the King of Sweden. He produced a huge body of works in the 50's and 60's and set the tone for films in that decade and beyond. In such films as Hour of the Wolf, The seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Virgin Spring, crys and whispers, Bergmann wrestled with the oceanic topics of life, aunxt, meaning, the existence of God, the anxiety of being human.

The one criticism I would make is that his films were very like stage plays. They were packed with references to the theater where Bergmann has his start. This doesn't dampen the greatness of his work. Rather it brings a missing element.

watching those films makes up some of the happiest memories of my youth. For me he will always be symbol of the greatness of art and the discovery of life and the search for ultimate meaning.

My two favorite films of all time are Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. I only other director I place on the same level is Kurosawa.

One of my favorite scenes from Wild strawberries deals with two young men competing of the attention of a young woman. The travel with a old professor who is on his way to accept the greatest honor of his life, an academic achievement award. The two men, a seminarian and an atheist are constantly fighting about the existence of God. But of course their true motivation for conflict is competition for the girl. They finally come to blows. They are forced back in the car by the old professor. As they each take seats on either side of the girl, bloodied from the encounter and with black eyes, she turns to one of them and says "so, does God exist?"

Bergmann is one of the finest examples of the style of atheism into which I fitted when I was young. Searching, pondering the great questions, an existentialist who is never satisfied with conventional answers.

foundChivalry Now

The Seventh Seal

The knight playing chess with Death.
This movie, from 1957, is Ingar Bergman's greatest film, and considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time.
The story is about a knight returning home from the crusades. He finds the land ravaged by plague and religious fanatics. On his journey, he is visited by Death, who agrees to let the knight live if he can beat him at a game of chess.
The following is taken from the script where the knight mistakenly thinks he is confessing to a priest, but it is Death who is listening. It expresses the existential struggle of this knight searching for truth.

ANTONIUS: I want to confess, as best I can, but my heart is void. The void is a mirror. I see my face, and feel loathing and horror. My indifference to men has shut me out. I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner in my dreams.

DEATH: Yet you do not want to die.


DEATH: What are you waiting for?

ANTONIUS: Knowledge.

DEATH: You want a guarantee?

ANTONIUS: Call it what you will. Is it so hard to conceive of God with one's senses? Why must He hide in a mist of vague promises and invisible miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don't believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe, but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me? Why does He go on living in a painful, humiliating way? I want to tear Him out of my heart. But He remains a mocking reality which I cannot get rid of. I want knowledge. Not belief. Not surmise. But knowledge. I want God to put out His hand, show His face, speak to me. But He is silent. I cry to Him in the dark, but there seems to be no one there.

DEATH: Perhaps there is no one there.

ANTONIUS: Then life is a senseless terror. No man can live with Death and know that everything is [for] nothing.

DEATH: Most people think neither of Death nor nothingness.

ANTONIUS: Until they stand on the edge of life, and see the Darkness.


A knight tries to pray along the seaside, but is unable to. He is troubled by the requirements of faith. Although he has gone to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusade for God, all he saw there was death and injustice, and men of twisted faith. He asks himself, "where is God? What is the meaning of existence without Him? Where can I find any sense to life?" He is an idealist who is troubled. He is no longer set in the ideals given to him, but questions everything to find a greater truth. What troubled him most is that there seems to be no idealized truth to grasp onto, and this leaves him searching in despair.
The squire is more down to earth, the disenchanted intellectual who demands that everyone else see the world from his disenchantment. He has not only lost his ideals (if he ever had them), but lost the desire to find something greater than what he sees. He is the existentialist. Basically he resents his station, that of serving the more idealistic knight.
Death accepts the challenge of playing the game of chess, giving the knight a chance to continue search for God, and dedicate his life to doing one good act. One wonders if we are not all playing chess with Death, postponing the inevitable, which might be waiting for us around the next corner.
The married couple, the actors, represent a healthy relationship, despite their obvious hardships. They love each other, and their son. The father tells his wife that their son will be a great acrobat, that he will accomplish the incredible (keeping the ball suspended in mid-air). He then explains that the trick would be impossible for him or his wife, but not necessarily for Mikael. In this statement, he expresses hope for the future, and disavows limitations on the next generation. There is a simple idealism expressed in this. We live and then we die, allowing evolution to produce something better. We should facilitate this process. That the actor sees visions suggests that he is in tune with his own mystical experiences, which transcends the rituals of religion.
The squire has great disrespect for priests, whom he sees as taking advantage of common people, using fear as a tool. He degrades those religious idealists who created the idea of a Holy Crusade. The thought of religious fanatics beating themselves out of repentance frightens him.
The man who steals from the dead was previously a student of theology who proselytized going to the Crusade. He is now a thief, and attempts to rape the woman who discovers his treachery. The squire believes that this is the natural progression of religious leaders. The man belittles and threatens the actor, hating him for his simple authenticity. He later dies of the plague.
The burning of the witch demonstrates how our belief in God and angels and the devil are ultimately based on nothing we can see or touch. There is life, and there is death. The witch who believes in the devil is obviously insane. Are the priests who condemn her, and the soldiers who kill her much different? The knight experiences anguish at her death, as the squire points out that only emptiness awaits her.
The actor who has the affair with the blacksmith's wife feigns his own death. Before stabbing himself with the fake knife, he states that he will leave the unreality of his life, and take on the reality of a corpse. This is a powerful statement of existential thought. The living person is not static; he is always creating himself, with every choice and direction that he takes. This is likened to "unreality." The dead corpse is, in comparison, a fixed object, without conscious potential. It's reality does not change. It is dead, not alive.
The knight distracts Death long enough for the married couple to escape. This is his good deed, and the answer to what he was looking for. Our purpose is to preserve life for the future. Other than that, we cannot be sure of anything. Even Death seems pleased by the knight's pleasure. The knight asks Death for what he knows about the mysteries of life. Death can tell him nothing. It appears that Death is more of a reality than God.
The ending is very interesting. Everyone dies, except for the couple and their baby, who have escaped. The knight begs his unseen God for mercy, while the squire complains that he is wasting his breath. They both die, but who is the one who contributed the most to life? It is the discouraged idealist who seeks for truth. His life had more meaning in that he saved the lives of others.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Argument from God-corrolate


Decison Maknig Paraidgm."


Co-determinate: The co-determinate is like the Derridian trace, or like a fingerprint. It's the accompanying sign that is always found with the thing itself. In other words, like trailing the invisible man in the snow. You can't see the invisable man, but you can see his footprints, and wherever he is in the snow his prints will always follow.

We cannot produce direct observation of God, but we can find the "trace" or the co-determinate, the effects of God in the world.

The only question at that point is "How do we know this is the effect, or the accompanying sign of the divine? But that should be answerer in the argument below. Here let us set out some general perambulators:

(1) The trace produced content with speicificually religious affects

(2)The affects led one to a renewed sense of divine reality, are trans formative of life goals and self actualization

(3) Cannot be accounted for by alteante cuasality or other means.

(1)There are real affects from Mytical experince.

(2)These affects cannot be reduced to naturalistic cause and affect, bogus mental states or epiphenomena.

(3)Since the affects of Mystical consciousness are independent of other explaintions we should assume that they are genuine.

(4)Since mystical experience is usually experience of something, the Holy, the sacred some sort of greater transcendent reality we should assume that the object is real since the affects or real, or that the affects are the result of some real higher reality.

(5)The true measure of the reality of the co-determinate is the transformational power of the affects.


Real Affects of Mystical Experience Imply Co-determinate

A. Study and Nature of Mystical Experiences

Mystical experience is only one aspect of religious experience, but I will focuses on it in this argument. Most other kinds of religious experience are difficult to study since they are more subjective and have less dramatic results. But mystical experience can actually be measured empirically in terms of its affects, and can be compared favorably to other forms of conscious states.

1) Primarily Religious

Trans personal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration (unpublished paper 1992 by Jayne Gackenback



"The experience of pure consciousness is typically called "mystical". The essence of the mystical experience has been debated for years (Horne, 1982). It is often held that "mysticism is a manifestation of something which is at the root of all religions (p. 16; Happold, 1963)." The empirical assessment of the mystical experience in psychology has occurred to a limited extent."

2) Defining characteristics.


"In a recent review of the mystical experience Lukoff and Lu (1988) acknowledged that the "definition of a mystical experience ranges greatly (p. 163)." Maslow (1969) offered 35 definitions of "transcendence", a term often associated with mystical experiences and used by Alexander et al. to refer to the process of accessing PC."

Lukoff (1985) identified five common characteristics of mystical experiences which could be operationalized for assessment purposes. They are:

1. Ecstatic mood, which he identified as the most common feature;
2. Sense of newly gained knowledge, which includes a belief that the mysteries of life have been revealed;
3. Perceptual alterations, which range from "heightened sensations to auditory and visual hallucinations (p. 167)";
4. Delusions (if present) have themes related to mythology, which includes an incredible range diversity and range;
5. No conceptual disorganization, unlike psychotic persons those with mystical experiences do NOT suffer from disturbances in language and speech.
It can be seen from the explanation of PC earlier that this list of qualities overlaps in part those delineated by Alexander et al.

3)Studies use Empirical Instruments.

Many skeptics have argued that one cannot study mystical experince scientifically. But it has been done many times, in fact there are a lot of studies and even empirical scales for measurement.



"Three empirical instruments have been developed to date. They are the Mysticism Scale by Hood (1975), a specific question by Greeley (1974) and the State of Consciousness Inventory by Alexander (1982; Alexander, Boyer, & Alexander, 1987). Hood's (1975) scale was developed from conceptual categories identified by Stace (1960). Two primary factors emerged from the factor analysis of the 32 core statements. First is a general mysticism factor, which is defined as an experience of unity, temporal and spatial changes, inner subjectivity and ineffability. A second factor seems to be a measure of peoples tendency to view intense experiences within a religious framework. A much simpler definition was developed by Greeley (1974), "Have you ever felt as though you were very close to a powerful, spiritual force that seemed to lift you out of yourself?" This was used by him in several national opinion surveys. In a systematic study of Greeley's question Thomas and Cooper (1980) concluded that responses to that question elicited experiences whose nature varied considerably. Using Stace's (1960) work they developed five criteria, including awesome emotions; feeling of oneness with God, nature or the universe; and a sense of the ineffable. They found that only 1% of their yes responses to Greeley's question were genuine mystical experiences. Thus Hood's scale seems to be the more widely used of these two broad measures of mysticism. It has received cross cultural validation" (Holm, 1982; Caird, 1988).

4) Incidence.



"Several studies have looked at the incidence of mystical experiences. Greeley (1974) found 35% agreement to his question while Back and Bourque (1970) reported increases in frequency of these sorts of experiences from about 20% in 1962 to about 41% in 1967 to the question "Would you say that you have ever had a 'religious or mystical experience' that is, a moment of sudden religious awakening or insight?" Greeley (1987) reported a similar figure for 1973".

"The most researched inventory is the State of Consciousness Inventory (SCI; reviewed in Alexander, Boyer, and Alexander, 1987). The authors say "the SCI was designed for quantitative assessment of frequency of experiences of higher states of consciousness as defined in Vedic Psychology (p. 100)."

"In this case items were constructed from first person statements of practitioners of that meditative tradition, but items were also drawn from other authority literatures. Additional subscales were added to differentiate these experiences from normal waking experience, neurotic experience, and schizophrenic experience. Finally, a misleading item scale was added. These authors conceptualize the "mystical" experience as one which can momentarily occur in the process of the development of higher states of consciousness. For them the core state of consciousness is pure consciousness and from it develops these higher states of consciousness.

Whereas most researchers on mystical experiences study them as isolated or infrequent experiences with little if any theoretical "goal" for them, this group contextualizes them in a general model of development (Alexander et al., 1990) with their permanent establishment in an individual as a sign of the first higher state of consciousness. They point out that "during any developmental period, when awareness momentarily settles down to its least excited state, pure consciousness [mystical states] can be experienced (p. 310). " In terms of incidence they quote Maslow who felt that in the population at large less than one in 1,000 have frequent "peak" experiences so that the "full stabilization of a higher stage of consciousness appears to an event of all but historic significance (p. 310)."

"Virtually all of researchers using the SCI are very careful to distinguish the practice of meditation from the experience of pure consciousness, explaining that the former merely facilitates the latter. They also go to great pains to show that their multiple correlation's of health and well-being are strongest to the transcendent experience than to the entire practice of meditation (for psychophysiological review see Wallace, 1987; for individual difference review see Alexander et al., 1987;

B. Long-Term Positive Effects of Mystical Experience

Research Summary

From Council on Spiritual Practices Website

"States of Univtive Consciousness"

Also called Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence, Intense Religious Experience, Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic Consciousness. Sources:

Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)

Long-Term Effects


*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously know of these experiences)

*Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming, disruptive
*Likely changes in self and the world,
*space and time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles, personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate

*Some individuals report psychic capacities and visionary experience destabilizing relationships with family and friends Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic, restlessness, grandiose religious delusions

Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are three useful quotations. 1) Maslow - Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence ``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, selfactualization and the like.''

Abraham Maslow (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, Second edition, -- pages iii-iv.

2) States of consciousness and mystical experiences
The ego has problems:
the ego is a problem.

``Within the Western model we recognize and define psychosis as a suboptimal state of consciousness that views reality in a distorted way and does not recognize that distortion. It is therefore important to note that from the mystical perspective our usual state fits all the criteria of psychosis, being suboptimal, having a distorted view of reality, yet not recognizing that distortion. Indeed from the ultimate mystical perspective, psychosis can be defined as being trapped in, or attached to, any one state of consciousness, each of which by itself is necessarily limited and only relatively real.'' -- page 665

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

3) Therapeutic effects of peak experiences

``It is assumed that if, as is often said, one traumatic event can shape a life, one therapeutic event can reshape it. Psychedelic therapy has an analogue in Abraham Maslow's idea of the peak experience. The drug taker feels somehow allied to or merged with a higher power; he becomes convinced the self is part of a much larger pattern, and the sense of cleansing, release, and joy makes old woes seem trivial.'' -- page 132

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration. Unpublished paper by Jayne Gackenback, (1992)

"These states of being also result in behavioral and health changes. Ludwig (1985) found that 14% of people claiming spontaneous remission from alcoholism was due to mystical experiences while Richards (1978) found with cancer patients treated in a hallucinogenic drug-assisted therapy who reported mystical experiences improved significantly more on a measure of self-actualization than those who also had the drug but did not have a mystical experience. In terms of the Vedic Psychology group they report a wide range of positive behavioral results from the practice of meditation and as outlined above go to great pains to show that it is the transcendence aspect of that practice that is primarily responsible for the changes. Thus improved performance in many areas of society have been reported including education and business as well as personal health states (reviewed and summarized in Alexander et al., 1990). Specifically, the Vedic Psychology group have found that mystical experiences were associated with "refined sensory threshold and enhanced mind-body coordination (p. 115; Alexander et al., 1987)."

(4) Greater happiness

Religion and Happiness

by Michael E. Nielsen, PhD

Many people expect religion to bring them happiness. Does this actually seem to be the case? Are religious people happier than nonreligious people? And if so, why might this be?

Researchers have been intrigued by such questions. Most studies have simply asked people how happy they are, although studies also may use scales that try to measure happiness more subtly than that. In general, researchers who have a large sample of people in their study tend to limit their measurement of happiness to just one or two questions, and researchers who have fewer numbers of people use several items or scales to measure happiness.

What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness

Argyle, M., and Hills, P. (2000). Religious experiences and their relations with happiness and personality. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 10, 157-172.

Inglehart, R. (1990). Culture shift in advanced industrial society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Gospels as Artifact

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a poster named Hinch leaves this message as a comment to my last article, the one below, "The Historical Validity of the Gospels."

However, i do challenge your comment that "we do know who wrote the gospels". Although mainstream scholarly opinion may point to community authorship, this does not tell us anything concrete about the authors; we may be able to label a community as Johannine, yet that does not tell us if the community were eyewitnesses to the events they describe, or whether they sought to accurately record those events; indeed, it tells us almost nothing about the methods or motivations of the community for writing the gospels.

I disagree. Certainly we can tell some things about the author of a document by reading the document. IF we cannot assume that this can be done we might as well disband all history departments, fire all English teachers and stop trying to teach liberal arts. If this is the case human communication and understanding between people is not possible and we can knowing about the past. The whole basis of modern history as an academic discipline is riding on this assumptions. This is what historians do, they learn about the past by approaching documents as artifacts. The Archaeologist has his artifact (the clay pot) we have ours, (documents).

It is true that we cannot know all things. We still have many questions, we will always have many questions. The spouses and children of academics thank God that we will always have questions, for it is their bread and butter. But that does not mean we can't answer some of them. No, we cannot know what specific individuals were in what community, but we can make some educated guesses. I say that's better than a shot in the dark, and it is better than writing off the Gospels as non existent or as lies which is what most atheists have tended to do. We can make better guesses about what the communities wanted than we can about what specific individuals were in them. There has always been a tendency on the part of skeptics to almost assume that if we don't know the particular people involved we cannot know anything, this does not follow.

Can we know who was in the communities?

It's more important to know what the communities wanted than it is to know the particular people in them. Unknown people can witness things. Now it is true that it helps more to know who they were exactly, but it is not the case that without this knowledge the documents tell us nothing about the events. We do not know, for example, who were the specific individuals who inhabited Troy 7A. Just because we can't say "this was Paris, this was Helen, this was Priam," doesn't mean we can't say, "they had a war, it was about trade, it lasted a long time," and things of that nature.

We can also make some good guesses about who was in which community. For example, it makes sense to me that the reason John centers on Mary as the only woman but still has her say "we don't know where they laid him," Because Mary Magdeline was the one woman of that group at the tomb who stayed with the John community. That fits the evidence of church tradition, that Mary stayed with John. The other women probably went into the other communities, and if we notice those accounts are less focussed on Mary Magdeline and more on the other women. OF course this is by no means certain. I am not sure it's even important. It explains some things about the writing of the account but does not being sure about it really mess up our understanding of the Gospels? It's an interesting little theory but it doesn't prove anything. Not being sure about it doesn't disprove anything.

Was Matthew in the Matthew community? We can't know that either but we have a clue that he had something to do with the writing of the Gospel even though he may or may not have lived in the community. Papias says he wrote a document called "the Logia."

Papias "Matthew composed the sayings (Logica) in Hebrew and each translated them as best he could." (Eusebius, Eccl. Histories 3.39.16).

Irenaeus: "Now Matthew Published among the Hebrews in their own tounge a witten Gospel, while Peter and Paul were preaching in Rome...." (Eccl hist).

Does that mean the Gospel of Matthew? All Christian apologists assume it does. Of course there is no way to guarantee that. Even if we believe that Papias is 100% accurate (a "big if" as we used to say) that doesn't prove that the Logia was G.Mat. On the other hand, there's a good probability that the two are connected. We have no other fragments or even mentions of other Gospel's or epistles or documents connected with Matthew.Of course he might not have written anything. Papias might have been a total liar and an idiot to boot. why should we assume so? Because he's a Christian? I think most atheists see through that kind of shallow knee jerk skepticism. I hope they can. I would like to think that most people are not raging bigots who don't think.

Papias tells us that Matthew's document was translated by many as best they could translate it, although composed in Hebrew. while there is much debate as to the fabled "Hebrew original behind G.Mat" (and no actual proof) there are a few Heberwisms. My theory is that Matthew wrote a saying source. We know the saying source was the genre prior to the narrate gospel. This saying source was probably translated into Greek and then used to flesh out a latter narrative by someone in the community. A redactor combined the saying source with the many stories that were told and ordered to make a chronological account.

Ancient Christian Gosples

Unless one wants to assume that Papias is totally wrong on all counts,...Papias statement is better understood as a reference to an altogether different writing. The writing he describes would have been a collection of sayings composed in Hebrew and translated into Greek Several times. This characterization fits the Synoptic Saying Source quite well: it was probably composed originally in Greek but some of its part may have been translated from Aramaic into Greek more than once..." (Ancient Christian Gospels.317)

Here Koester is saying that the ur Mat is "Q." But we need not understand it as Q to understand it as the basis for the saying source in Matt. Of we can sort out this Q problem latter. The same process might be said about Mark. Koester and others have observed the Galilean nature of Mark.I will do more on Mark and the names sakes latter in another essay.

Can we Know that the communities were eye witnesses?

First, the concept of "the eye witness" is problematic. That phrase enters the vocabulary of Christian apologetics in the Nineteenth century when major jurists set themselves the task of proving the resurrection. The concept of providing scientific documentation was foreign to the authors of the Gospels, as was the idea of the "eye witness." They did not have the concept of the court room "eye witness" in first century AD. They did have the notion of "witnessing against your neighbor" but they didn't have it developed along the lines of a modern court room model.
so its problematic to even use the phrase. I think it's fair to say the real question is does the knowledge of the events and teachings we are given stack up as authentic representations of what the actual historical Jesus said and did? While we cannot be 100% certain we can be more certain about that than we can about what specific individuals were in the group.

Historians do no assume that without explicit definite proof we can make no assumptions. They do not assume that the Gospel communities were not eye witness just because they don't have a statement by a contemporary Roman historian saying that they were. We can get a glimpse into the assumptions that scholars do make by looking at what they say:

Koester says (above)

Ancient Christian Gosples

Unless one wants to assume that Papias information is totally wrong on all counts,...

This is a good example of the principle that the artifact does tell us something about the author. Another statement by a major scholars revealing his assumptions on this score:


seminar on x talk

My very general arguments are: (1) that existence is given in Christian, pagan, and Jewish sources; (2) it is never negated by even the most hostile critics of early Christianity (Jesus is a bastard and a fool but never a myth or a fiction!); (3) there are no historical parallels that I know of from that time and period that help me understand such a total creation. There is, however, a fourth point that I touched on in BofC 403-406. It is crucially important for me that Jesus sent out companions and told them to do exactly what he was doing (not in his name, but as part of the Kingdom of God). The most basic continuity that I see between Jesus and those companions was, as I put it, not in mnemonics, but in mimetics. In other words, they were imitating his lifestyle and not just remembering his words. I find that emphasized in the Q Gospel’s indictment of those who talk, but do not do, and in the Didache’s emphasis on the ways (tropoi) of the Lord (not just words/logoi). When, therefore, I look at a phrase such as "blessed are the destitute," and am quite willing to argue that it comes from the historical Jesus, I am always at least as sure that it represents the accurate summary of an attitude as the accurate recall of a saying.

What he's saying is that he's less certain of the exact wording of a teaching, but he assumes in general that the Gospels are artifacts revealing Jesus general lifestyle and indicative of that lifestyle. It is the lifestyle being emulated, not the letter of the letter of the law in his wording. He could not draw this conclusion if he was not willing to assume that there is a witness involved. He is not willing to just doubt Jesus existence and everything else merely because he doesn't have total absolute proof of it. He is not willing to assume that every single thing the Gospel authors say has to be lie because we don't know who they were. In other words we can assume this stuff is an artifact and it does tell us something.One thing it tells us is that the people who produced it must have had some contact with Jesus because they understood and emulated his way of life.

When we plug in Luke's testimony in Acts we have good reason to understand that this is the early formation of the community. While Luke was not thinking in terms of modern historical documentation, he clearly is making a claim to the teaching authority of the Pauline circle, and that authority is based upon the connection to the early community and it includes the witness of that community. The network we see tied together through Peter and the other Apostles we see these guys all knew each other. Half them were Jesus' cousins (Cleopus and his brood) or knew them.* I've seen internet skeptics try to deny that the Peter Paul Met was the Peter Clement of Rome spoke of or the one in the Gospels. That is based upon absolutely nothing more than the assumption that if something isn't totally proven without question we have to doubt it. Real scholars do not make this kind of assumption. We are going to do this stuff, and do it in a way that pretends to be educated, we should follow the lead of the professional, those who do it for a living and those who teach the classes we wish we could take. In some quarters atheists have forged their own er zots academy but there is no substitute for the real academy. You do not go to a a guy who reads a lot to remove your appendix. You go to a real doctor. NASA doesn't consult technically minded nerds to make launch decisions about the state of the O-rings. They get real engineers. Engineers do O-rings, historians do history.

Can we know what the community wanted?

While this might tend to color our understanding of what the story forms produced by the communities were about, it might also give us an insight into their motivations. What I mean is they were not trying to document things to prove to future generations that "Jesus existed because I saw him." That was the furtherest things from their minds. But it does give us a clue as to their motivations to understand that their use of these stories was to answer theological problems faced by the community. The pericopes had a sermonic function. They were little sermons.

We can assume that their purpose was not multilevel marketing or to hold a better flea markets. We can assume that they had a religious purpose. While they were hyped up on some form of eschatologcial expectation in the beginning, the absence of militaristic rhetoric and the attention to spiritual matters would indicate that thes e people had given up the conventional Messianic expectations of other Jews of the era. They clearly had some special understanding of the Messianic mission of Jesus that set him apart from the run of the mill Messianic claimant ("I should know a false messiah when I see one, I've followed enough of them in my time--" Life of Brian). Clearly at least the John community, if not all four communities were looking for an answer in the next life and that answer was connected to Jesus in some fundamental way.

I think these are pretty rock solid assumptions. Given that much we are armed with what we need to study the Gospels and to approach them as artifacts that give us insight in to Jesus, his teachings and his way of life. Of of this of course is a matter of probability. But history is probability. No historian claims that history is an exact science. the concept of Historical probability guides all historical study.

Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus, San Francisco: Harper, 1996,p.121

"...Non narrative New Testament wittings datable with some degree of probability before the year 70 year 70 testify to traditions circulating within the Christian movement concerning Jesus that correspond to important points within the Gospel narratives. Such traditions do not, by themselves, demonstrate historicity. But they demonstrate that memories about Jesus were in fairly wide circulation. This makes it less likely that the corresponding points within the Gospels were the invention of a single author. If that were the case than such invention would have to be early enough and authoritative enough to have been distributed and unchallenged across the diverse communities with which Paul delt. Such an hypothesis of course would work against the premise that Paul's form of Christianity had little to do with those shaping the memory of Jesus." "As I have tried to show, the character of the Gospel narratives does not allow a fully satisfying reconstruction of Jesus ministry. Nevertheless certain fundamental points when taken together with confirming lines of convergence from outside testimony and non-narrative New Testament evidence, can be regarded as historical with a high degree of probability.Even the most critical historian can confidently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was executed by crucification under the prefect Pontius Pilate, and continued to have followers after his death. These assertions are not mathematically or metaphysically certain, for certainty is not within the reach of history. But they enjoy a very high level of probability."

*PBS special "From Jesus To Christ," Jesus family tree from gospels on PBS website visited today. I've seen other accounts, not as authoritative which include a couple of Apostles as cousins and Salome who accompanied Mary tomb as his sister.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Historical Valdity of the Gosples

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In response to the comments on the huge post by Brain2 that was removed, "anonymous" makes the comment:

Because Jesus didn’t write the bible. From his alleged words (of which no one could’ve possibly scribed in wax, ink, or stone as quickly as he would’ve spoken) to the Bible you have in your hands is at LEAST 5 generations of hearsay, interpretation, and the good old game of “telephone”. I was being generous. It’s probably more like 10th- or 12th- hand accounts, what you are reading. That is, unless you’ve read the original tablets, scribes, and scrolls… which would themselves be at least 3rd- or 4th- hand themselves."

This is a pretty standard view point for most atheists on the boards. It's not that we have not refuted it many times. We have, however, as apologists been slacking off a bit. We have allowed atheists to remove the bible from the debate. We have allowed them to speak of it as garbage so many times that they just think of it as almost non existent. For the practical purposes of documenting Jesus life and teachings we might as well be using Lady's Home Journal.

In the interest of rectifying this situation I propose the following approach by way of answering this comment. I suggest we re-double our efforts and began propagandizing immediately.

Because Jesus didn’t write the bible. From his alleged words (of which no one could’ve possibly scribed in wax, ink, or stone as quickly as he would’ve spoken) to the Bible you have in your hands is at LEAST 5 generations of hearsay

This is a ludicrous comment. First because it assumes that if Jesus didn't write the gospels then they can't be first hand or eye witness material. Of course that is absurd but the reasoning is well they couldn't recored his words as fast as he spoke them.Of course that assumes that we have to have a verbatim account or it's totally worthless. If that is the case then no account in history is of any value. Eye witnesses to Cesar's life could not produce a verbatim account and thus their views are worthless. So we know nothing about anytone in the ancient world. From this humble premise the author comes to the sweeping conclusion that it was five generations. Of course that a late date for the authorship and so forth.

There are three general points I would like to make in defending the historical validity of the Gospels.

(1) We do know who wrote the Gospels

(2) Oral traditions is not wild rumor.

(3) The gap between event and writing is not that great.

To deal with the first point first, authorship of the Gospels. The argument foten made by atheists that "we don't know who wrote them" is totally misguided and wrong headed. They are still thinking in terms of an individual author. Scholars no longer see the Gospels as the product of one individual author. They view them as the products of communities. The redaction process involved a whole community of people, the community is now seen as the author. The Gospels are understood as having been produced by communities to which we give the names of the gospels; the Matthew community, the John (Johannine) community, the Mark community. These were communal schools. Much has been written of documentary interest on this point. Unlike many of my friends in the CADRE, I am content to accept the idea that the Namesakes did not write the Gospels. That does not mean they were not produced by eye witnesses, they were produced by whole communities full of eye witnesses. The community was the author.

We can see the early aspects of the communal structure in Acts:

Acts 2:42-47

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers. 43 Then fear came over everyone, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. 44 Now all the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 So they sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. 46 And every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added those being saved to them.

In response to this argument atheists usually counter that the oral tradition is just a process of wild rumors. Even if there were eye witnesses to something, we have no idea what they saw because it's all been exaggerated. They assume no attempt would have been made to control the flow information This is a totally false assumption.

Jewish culture was an oral culture. Several other oral cultures can be seen around the world. We can still observe a few aspects of the bardic tradition in Ireland and in Turkey. In both cases bards memorize works of thousands of words, huge volumes such as Homer's Iliad, and they can recite them perfectly from start to finish at the drop of a hat. Now of course no one is suggesting that the Apostles memorized Jesus words verbatim as he spoke them. But the in the communal process the re telling of the events of Jesus ministry over and over again would surely have been a topic of conversation. They lived in a culture where people did memorize the words of their teachers, and this is a proven fact. They moved in to communal living to study the bible and develop their understanding of what happened and what it all meant. It's just absurd to think the dinner conversation would have been about sports or fishing or string beans.

The early community was filled witnesses who had seen Jesus and heard him speak. It was led by those whom Jesus trained extensively and they were with him every minute for three years. Why would they not make some attempt to organize the story and tell and it and re tell it until everyone knew it by heart? Of course the witnesses would have ironed out any exaggerated rumors or falsehoods.

Handbook of Biblical Social Values (2000), Jerome Neyrey says,

The people in the bilbical world are dyadic. This means that individuals basically depend on others for thier sense of identity, for their understanding of their role and status in society, for clues to the duties and rights they have, and for indications of what is honorable and shameful behavior. Such people live in a world which is clearly and extensively ordered, a system which is well known to members of the group. Individuals quickly internalize this system and depend on it for needed clues to the way their world works. . . The tradition handed down by former members of the group is presumed valid and normative. . . Group orientation is clearly expressed in the importance given to authority. (p.94-7)

see also
- Bruce Malina & Richard Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Synoptics, and Social-Science Commentary on the Gospel on John.
- See also John Pilch, Jerome Neyrey, and David deSilva. The Context Group publications are listed here.

"And the stories about Jesus were nothing if not important. Even the Jesus Seminar admits that Jesus was an itinerant wonder-worker. Very well. Supposing a woman in a village is suddenly healed after a lengthy illness. Even today, even in a non-oral culture, the story of such an event would quickly spread among friends, neighbors and relatives, acquiring a fixed form within the first two or three retellings and retaining it, other things being equal, thereafter. In a culture where storytelling was and is an art-form, a memorable event such as this, especially if it were also seen as a sign that Israel's God was now at last at work to do what he had always promised, would be told at once in specific ways, told so as to be not just a celebration of a healing but also a celebration of the Kingdom of God. Events and stories of this order are community-forming, and the stories which form communities do not get freely or loosely adapted. One does not disturb the foundations of the house in which one is living."[B.D. Chilton and C.A. Evans (eds.), Authenticating the Activities of Jesus (NTTS, 28.2; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1998) p. 113-115.]

This brings us to the final point that the gap between event and writing is not that great. Now atheists are especially bad at this. In the nineteenth century a lot of skeptics assumed that the Gospels were written in the second century. Some skeptics still make this argument even though it has been totally disproved by textual and manuscript evidence. What is even more important to note is that the Ms as we know them today were written between AD 70 and AD 95 or so. But this does not mean that this is when the material originated. Even though conventional wisdom says that Mark wrote first, that in no way means that Mark was the original author of the material.

The Material of the Gospels, all canonical Gospels and the Gospel of Peter draw upon a single narrative that existed at mid century. This proven by textual critics and scholars such as Helmutt Koester and John Dominick Crosson. Atheist poo poo the science of textual criticism but they are quick enough to embrace its validity when the Jesus seminar uses it to disprove and slander the New Testament. Textual criticism is a science and the findings are well proven. The argument is based upon the readings found in latter texts. When the readings in texts such as the Diatesseron (AD 172) prove to be earlier than the canonical Gospels then we know that there were earlier versions that had once circulated.

The unknown Gospel of Egerton 2 was discovered in Egypt in 1935 exiting in two different manuscripts. The original editors found that the handwriting was that of a type from the late first early second century. In 1946 Goro Mayeda published a dissertation which argues for the independence of the readings from the canonical tradition. This has been debated since then and continues to be debated. Recently John B. Daniels in his Clairmont Dissertation argued for the independence of the readings from canonical sources. (John B. Daniels, The Egerton Gospel: It's place in Early Christianity, Dissertation Clairmont: CA 1990). Daniels states "Egerton's Account of Jesus healing the leaper Plausibly represents a separate tradition which did not undergo Markan redaction...Compositional choices suggest that...[the author] did not make use of the Gospel of John in canonical form." (Daniels, abstract). The unknown Gospel of Egerton 2 is remarkable still further in that it mixes Johannie language with Synoptic contexts and vice versa. which, "permits the conjecture that the author knew all and everyone of the canonical Gospels." (Joachim Jeremias, Unknown Sayings, "An Unknown Gospel with Johannine Elements" in Hennecke-Schneemelcher-Wilson, NT Apocrypha 1.96). The Unknown Gospel preserves a tradition of Jesus healing the leper in Mark 1:40-44. (Note: The independent tradition in the Diatessaran was also of the healing of the leper). There is also a version of the statement about rendering unto Caesar. Space does not permit a detailed examination of the passages to really prove Koster's point here. But just to get a taste of the differences we are talking about:

Egerton 2: "And behold a leper came to him and said "Master Jesus, wandering with lepers and eating with them in the inn, I therefore became a leper. If you will I shall be clean. Accordingly the Lord said to him "I will, be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.

Mark 1:40: And the leper came to him and beseeching him said '[master?] if you will you can make me clean. And he stretched out his hands and touched him and said "I will be clean" and immediately the leprosy left him.

Egerton 2: "tell us is it permitted to give to Kings what pertains to their rule? Tell us, should we give it? But Jesus knowing their intentions got angry and said "why do you call me teacher with your mouth and do not what I say"?

Mark 12:13-15: Is it permitted to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or not? But knowing their hypocrisy he said to them "why do you put me to the test, show me the coin?"


"There are two solutions that are equally improbable. It is unlikely that the pericope in Egerton 2 is an independent older tradition. It is equally hard to imagine that anyone would have deliberately composed this apophthegma by selecting sentences from three different Gospel writings. There are no analogies to this kind of Gospel composition because this pericope is neither a harmony of parallels from different Gospels, nor is it a florogelium. If one wants to uphold the hypothesis of dependence upon written Gospels one would have to assume that the pericope was written form memory....What is decisive is that there is nothing in the pericope that reveals redactional features of any of the Gospels that parallels appear. The author of Papyrus Egerton 2 uses independent building blocks of sayings for the composition of this dialogue none of the blocks have been formed by the literary activity of any previous Gospel writer. If Papyrus Egerton 2 is not dependent upon the Fourth Gospel it is an important witness to an earlier stage of development of the dialogues of the fourth Gospel....(Koester , 3.2 p.215)

(In Koester p.218) Koester writes, "John Dominic Crosson has gone further [than Denker]...he argues that this activity results in the composition of a literary document at a very early date i.e. in the middle of the First century CE" (Ibid). Said another way, the interpretation of Scripture as the formation of the passion narrative became an independent document, a ur-Gospel, as early as the middle of the first century!


"A third problem regarding Crossan's hypotheses is related specifically to the formation of reports about Jesus' trial, suffering death, burial, and resurrection. The account of the passion of Jesus must have developed quite eary because it is one and the same account that was used by Mark (and subsequently Matthew and Luke) and John and as will be argued below by the Gospel of Peter. However except for the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection in the various gospels cannot derive from a single source, they are independent of one another. Each of the authors of the extant gospels and of their secondary endings drew these epiphany stories from their own particular tradition, not form a common source." (Koester, p. 220)

"Studies of the passion narrative have shown that all gospels were dependent upon one and the same basic account of the suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. But this account ended with the discovery of the empty tomb. With respect to the stories of Jesus' appearances, each of the extant gospels of the canon used different traditions of epiphany stories which they appended to the one canon passion account. This also applies to the Gospel of Peter. There is no reason to assume that any of the epiphany stories at the end of the gospel derive from the same source on which the account of the passion is based."(Ibid)

This means the events were circulating in writing about eighteen years or so after the events. The written testimony begins at a time when many eye witnesses would still be alive. It was the copying down of the oral tradition that killed that tradition. The original ms ceased to circulate when the material was incorporated into the standard Gospel format. This Explains why we do find fragments of Q or of the pre Markan passion narrative, or the Pre Markan redaction.

Of course we are not getting a word for word transcript of Jesus words. But I don't know why we need one. We have the assurance of the early community and the chain of Apostolic succession that these teachings reflect the recollections of Jesus teachings and his deeds to the best of the witnesses abilities. They are not merely testified by two people (Mark and Luke were never said to be eye witnesses), but by whole communities.

for my complete essay on the authorship of the community see Community as Author on Doxa.

For my complete essay on written sources of the Pre Markan redaction see my essay The Gospel Behind the Gospels

Friday, July 13, 2007

Self Criticism?

Here is a comment sent in my someone named "Hello." I was asked to reading and comment. So I shall.

Meta, you really need some self-criticism.

I thiink I am very self critical.

I've watched you on at least three of these forums, and I see things a little differently. You make strong statements, people start taking them apart (as they should), if they criticize an area you're not prepared for (such as your axioms instead of your logic), you throw a fit.

We sould have to go though specific posts to see what you are talking about.I am pretty sure what you are not getting is that they are saying really stupid things. Major stupid things like "why does God have to be necessary, you are just defining God into existence." anyone who really the issues involved in that would know they they are just saying things to save face because they have nothing to say. that is not a critical analytical challenge to my view it's on a par with asking why red is a color.

Also, if people question your "300 studies" or point out the flaws in those studies, you get angry.

They don't have arguments about the studies. That's why I get angry because they claim they are attacking the studies when all they are really doing is asking questions. They are not even questions related to a methodological argument. On CARM the last time this come up the question was asked 'do you have statistical tables for the studies." well no of course not, where would I get them. So the assertion was made, you can't defend the studies. But no attack was made, it was just a question.

the next time they brought it up they said' "where those studies refuted and proven to be untrue?" NOoooo they asked a questions that's all. But from then on they kep saying "your studies have disproved they were no good."

That's the kid of silly, Slip shod truth by mob rule that atheists are into.

Sometimes you use personal cases to prove a point, and people (rightfully so) request proof other than "I met a guy who..."

on occasion but only in conjunction with published data. Its' idiotic and hypocritical of you to say that because I will present tons of data. I have 300 studies. I'll post a whole buffer full of quotes and they will go "you don't have any support" and the only thing they can remember is "you told a story about someone you knew" yes, along with the 300 studies I posted published material about.

I have rarely if ever called anyone stupid. I call their ideas stupid I never say "You are stupid." I say "that's a stupid thing to say." maybe that's too close to calling the poster stupid, but I used to be very careful to never say anything like that. For years I said "you have a lack of knowledge' not "you don't have the ability to think." Of course these distinctions are just lost on people.

All one has to do is look through the archives of this blog to see posts on what the atheist get up to, the bitter personal attackers they have used to mock, deride and ridicule me. They have tried to destroy my self esteem and to destroy my very ego and sense of who I am. Atheism is a hate group. Trying to argue with them that they should not do this is like a black arguing with the KKK.

Sometimes you argue, but you rarely admit you're wrong.

I am not wrong that often. I have been so,but not that much. you know if you look at tomb of Christ exchange I admitted I was wrong. That's how accurate your theory is. I just got through saying that but you didn't because you don't care what's true do you?

It's as if you don't believe that you could make a mistake or that you're arguments are foolproof. You are intelligent and make good points, please don't get me wrong. My point is that you're not right as often as you think, and you are not open to your errors.

Yes I am. Because I know I'm wrong sometimes.

I hope you don't get upset and start screaming back here. These comments are not made with emotion, and they are meant to help not hurt. This is why I went to your blog rather than one of those forums. In fact, you can delete the comment.

O yea sure. you have my best interest at heart. That's whh it's so unbiased.

Ok well thanks for helping.

By Hello, at 10:32 AM

Everything Needs a Reason--try out for new God argument

I would like to hear from people on this one. It's not finnished,there will be more a part 2. But don't let that stop you. I would like criticism.

A freind atheist is always saying that believe everything has to have a reason. I decided to turn what for him is a criticism into a God argument. As always this is a justification of belief argument.

There are two kinds of reason one could go with here: there's the "higher purpose" sort of reason and the basic explanation sort of reason. The difference is the former would propose that some power or authority figure, God or some other sort of creator agent has a higher purpose. Of course that would be begging the question. That is certainly not an assumption I make in God arguments. But the idea of an explanation for everything in terms of a cause or prior conditions is something that science prides itself upon.

Dictonary of Philosphy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism"

"...the belief that everything that exists is ethier matter or entirely dependent upon matter for its existence."

Center For Theology and the Natural Sciences Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999) http://www.ctns.org/Information/information.html Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?(this source is already linked above)

"...Beyond the Christian community there was even greater unease. One of the fundamental assumptions of modern science is that every physical event can be sufficiently explained solely in terms of preceding physical causes. Quite apart from its possible status as the moment of creation, the Big Bang singularity is an offence to this basic assumption. Thus some philosophers of science have opposed the very idea of the Big Bang as irrational and un testable."
We can see from these quotes that explanation is very important to science. Not just to science, but it's the ability to explain everything through natural cause and effect that really gives the atheist hope and a sense of security that God really saves him from angry God and is sufficient to answer all Questions.

Yet when it comes to explaining the whole of the universe, or why there is something rather than nothing, science falls silent. Atheists are so alarmed over this failing they have actually turned not having answers into a virtue. Hans actually derides anyone who claims one needs to answer such questions.

For examples:

(1) if there are string membrains (which can't proven) there is no attempt on the part of science to say where they come from because they know they can't.

(2) All assumptions of ICR or other theories of origin assume the eternal (non temporal and forever always) existence of contingent thing things. This is a logical contradiction in itself but it illustrates the inability of materialism to cope with the logic of eternal necessity.

In both cases there is no explanation and the materialists must fall back on "well it's just that way" rather an a real understanding of why or how it could be so.

God doesn't give us the same kind of explanation as does a scientific hypothesis. But appeal to God does at least answer the metaphysical questions that science and it also has the added advantage of offering at least veri similitude in terms of understanding why this or that physical phenomena exists.

I saw an atheist on a message board, tonight, trying to argue that science is better than belief in the supernatural because science can answer s,y,z (for science read "sociobiology" which he called "evolutionary psychology") and he names several issues pertaining to the physical world; men are usually larger than women, men usually get aroused by pornography more so than women (I know several women would pronounce that one "BS.") But it makes no sense this argument, because why would we expect Super nature to tell us bout nature? It's just an arbitrary digging up of scientific or pseudo scientific trivia in order to embarrassed the believer. "you can't explain this" with no really statement as to why we should expect belief in the supernatural to explain the natural better than the arm of knowledge that is devoted to study of the natural?

Science cannot explain metaphysical assumptions, even it is based upon them. It can't answer questions such as "why is there something rather than nothing?" Obviously science can answer microscopic questions about the workings of the psychical world better than belief in God does, because that's what its geared to studying and belief in God does not contain tha purpose. We do not believe in God because we wish to explain the physical world. This is an old and very outmoded way of thinking that atheists have indulged themselves in for too long.

Science and even asterism itself are predicated upon the assumption that there are reasons for everything, but when it comes to cosmology, origins, and metaphysics, it can't give us any. Religious belief may not be a perfect source of knowledge but it s fit for its purpose and it offers an overall understanding about the universe and ilfe itself. It offers personal wisdom about why we are here and what life is all about.

It seems totally illogical to me that materialistic processes yeild such great explainitory results until they are applied to the over all processes at the metaphysical and cosmological levels. Suddenly we don't to explain anything anymore,it's also a virture that we can't and a vice that other systems seem to offer such explianations.

Explanatory power fails for materialism and does not fail for belief in God.

The Way Some People Think--or Don't

I am dealing with the following argument:

Spring heeled Jack (SHJ) to be fictional because he is so outlandish

Jesus Miracles are as outlandish as SHJ Therefore

Jesus miracles are fictional too.

Of course the person making this argument didn't brake it down this way. The real point of it seems to be that if we doubt one amazing absurdly ridiculous story then we must doubt all amazing ridiculous stories. SHJ was a character in London in the 1830's 60 1890's who was said to look grotesquely ugly, to vomit blue flame and to be able to leap huge distances, 9-21 feet in the air. He was said to scratch women up with long fingernails and tear off their clothes. He terrorized London in that era was was said to be absoutely real.

I pointed out that this is an argument from analogy the atheist making it said "I think you really beileve in SHJ." I said it seems logical to me that it was probably based upon some incident and his qualities were exaggerated. Like maybe a wino who looked ugly climbed up a wall and was said to have leaped over it. Maybe he leaped it like Jackie Chan can leap huge heights, in stages, launching off part of the wall on to another part. Or not whatever. The atheist says "good luck getting an intelligent answer out of Metacrock."

Try as I might I cannot get the to see the illogic of argument from analogy.IF we find this one case absurd that has to mean the New Testament is false because it is absur too. But of course it's just his opinion as to what is absurd and what's believeable ans what is not. Of cousrse that is not a logical argument. the idea that if we find one case so we msut find another case so is toally illogiacal because i'ts arguing from analogy which is false awlays. its' an informal fallcy. So because I don't think in informaal fallacies that means I"m stupid?

why do people think like this? this is what amazes me so, about people on message boards why are there so many stupid ones?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why the Myther Thing Makes Me Angry

The Jesus myth thing makes me angry for this reason. Today I found a source on the net called "famous people at a glance." it's supposed to show the basic dates and stuff on various famous people. So I put in Eusebius to refresh my memory. It said Eusebius was St. Jerome. St. J's real name was Eusebius but he was not the famous Eusebius father of church hisotry.This site did not even have Eusebius father of church history (E of Cesaria). But when I put in "Origin" it brought up fifteen articles on "did Jesus exist in history" and nothing about Oregin. Only one of those articles even mentioned him.

So the idea that Jesus didn't exist is just being accepted as fact based upon nothing. Whole individuals are being written out of history because they don't serve the propaganda purposes of the people making the serach engine and whole other people are being merged with those missing because, who knows why. Because people are stpuid and they know that most people will accept hte easy answer rather than dig.

All of that makes me very angry because it's just saying we can mutilate the truth and make it into anything we want and all that matters is wishing. Here' some more bread and circuses. now bend over and let me send you to war. That's what I see happening. We are just giving up our brains and becoming sheep who can't do anything but just sit around and wish things were as we want them to be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lost my Readership: Blog to close

only one person looked at it today. It's never been that low, not for one single day. After thy stuck with me through all the days when the computer was down and when I moved and everything. Why do they abandon me now? I guess it's the result of that asshole who had to make a big thing about the chruch Holy seplechur problem. I guess that's what killed interest.

I wil close this blog because it's pointless to post to such a small audience. Whoever that one person is I hope you are not offended.

I just want to mop up some last unfinnished business before I close it up.

I'll do this over the next few days.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Argument from Temporal Begining

Argument from Temporal Begining.

A. loigc of the argument.

1) Time has a begining.

2) There is no causality or sequential order beyond time.

3) Therefore, no change beyond time is possible.

4) The putative state of affiars beyond time is one of timlessness.
5) Therefore, time should never have come to be.

6) We know that time did come to be, therefore, it must have been created by something capable of writing and circumventing the rules.

7) Only God would be capable of writting and circumventing the rules of time and eternity, therefore, God must exit.

B Version of argument

We need a B version because begining of time is assumed with singularity models of Big Bang, and those are out of fashion now (at least with atheitss on Message boards): Advanced physics theory posits "beyond time" in which super symetry theory is applied to grand unified theory, but "beyond" still posits a timeless state of nothingness in which nothing can happen and no change can take place.

B. Analysis.

God must exist in order to rewrite the rules or to circumvent the rules of temporality. Now some argue that from a timeless perspective the space/time bubble in which our universe exists would also be. That may be true, and the beginning and the end of our universe would always be as well. Causality, or source may be hierarchical as well as linear

C. Objections:

1) Time is an illusion.

Some atheists have tried to answer this by using Relativity theory to argue that time is an illusion, its relative, get it? But Relativity doesn't say there is no time. It merely says that the observation of time is relative.

2) Some other freaky theory of time.

Answer: Some have tried to argue that t=0 (time has a begining) is wrong. It could be t=>0. This is similar to xeno's paradox, in that it segments time into infetessemals so that it gives the illusion of no time, no motion, or perhaps infinite time. But that "infinity" of time could be hidding in a Plank interval, so and that would not do anything to the basic hypothesis. From the Cosmological argument (no.II) I quote physicists saying that t=0 is still the best way to think about it. Three major sources document this. Freasure in Time the Familaure Stranger (one of the major authorities on Time research), Paul Davies in God and The New Physics and in the Book Time's Arrow All agree that beyond time there is no motion, causality, or change. More documentation time begins with Big Bang:

Sten Olenwald
NASA Scientist



No time "before" BB.

In the quantum world...the world that the universe inhabited when it was less than a second old...many things work very differently. One of these is that time itself does not mean quite the same thing as it does to us in the world- at-large. Although we have no complete theory of the relevant physics, there are many indications from the mathematics that yield sound experimental results, that time itself may have ceased to have much meaning near the Big Bang event. This means that there was no 'time' as we know this concept 'before' the Big Bang. That being the case, the question of what happened before the Big Bang is now a question without any possible physical answer. The evolution of the universe has always been a process of transformation from one state to the next as the universe has expanded. At some point in this process, looking back at the Big Bang, we enter a state so removed from any that we now know, than even the laws that govern it become totally obscure to science itself. In the quantum world, we see things 'appearing' out of nothing all the time. The universe may have done the same thing. What this means to us may never be fully understood.

"As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe. [Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 8]

astronmy cafe

Odenwald, 2004

Was there really no time at all before the Big Bang?

As I have mentioned in a previous question, we do not know what the state of the universe was like at the Big Bang and beyond.

Our best guess at this time suggest that time and space as we know these concepts will become rather meaningless as the universe enters a purely quantum mechanical state of indeterminacy. Cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking suggest that the dimension of time is transformed via quantum fluctuations in the so-called "signature of the spacetime metric", into a space-like coordinate so that instead of 3-space and 1-time dimension, space-time becomes a 4-dimensional space devoid of any time-like features. What this state is imagined to be is anyone's guess because as humans trained to think in terms of processes evolving in time, our next question would then be, What came before the Hawking space-like state? There is no possible answer to this question because there is no time in which the concept of 'before' can be said to have a meaning. The question itself becomes the wrong question to ask.

Phyical law opporates in time

Cambridge Relativity and Quantum Gravity

1996, University of Cambridge The physical laws that govern the universe prescribe how an initial state evolves with time. In classical physics, if the initial state of a system is specified exactly then the subsequent motion will be completely predictable.

Even assuming no begining of Time, Susy Gut theory still postulates a "beyond time" as a putative state of affairs. This description confirms my argument since it describes a state in which no change can ever come to be. That leaves the scientific solution still seeking some higher set of coordinates upon which the universe must be contingent:

Sten OdenwaldBeyond the Big Bang.

Copyright (C) 1987, Kalmbach Publishing

"Theories like those of SUSY GUTS (Supersymetry Grand Unified Theory) and Superstrings seem to suggest that just a few moments after Creation, the laws of physics and the content of the world were in a highly symmetric state; one superforce and perhaps one kind of superparticle. The only thing breaking the perfect symmetry of this era was the definite direction and character of the dimension called Time. Before Creation, the primordial symmetry may have been so perfect that, as Vilenkin proposed, the dimensionality of space was itself undefined. To describe this state is a daunting challenge in semantics and mathematics because the mathematical act of specifying its dimensionality would have implied the selection of one possibility from all others and thereby breaking the perfect symmetry of this state. There were, presumably, no particles of matter or even photons of light then, because these particles were born from the vacuum fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime that attended the creation of the universe. In such a world, nothing happens because all 'happenings' take place within the reference frame of time and space. The presence of a single particle in this nothingness would have instantaneously broken the perfect symmetry of this era because there would then have been a favored point in space different from all others; the point occupied by the particle. This nothingness didn't evolve either, because evolution is a time-ordered process. The introduction of time as a favored coordinate would have broken the symmetry too. It would seem that the 'Trans-Creation' state is beyond conventional description because any words we may choose to describe it are inherently laced with the conceptual baggage of time and space. Heinz Pagels reflects on this 'earliest' stage by saying, "The nothingness 'before' the creation of the universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity..."

3)How could God create beyond time?

Answer(s) William Lane Craig's answer is that God creates everything in one thorw, so time is created at exactly the same time that God desires to create. That might be worked out as an asnwer, but it strikes me as still requiring a seqeuntial order. My own personal answer is that I accept Bishop Berkely's notion that we are thoughts in the mind of God. Thus, while the naturalistic assumption is that there is a "beyond time" and this is concieved as a giant room filled with non-time (and the space/time bubble like a beach ball floating around in that room--or say a beach ball in the ocean of non-time) that is purely a naturalitstic assumption. We have no idea what is beyond the BB. Thus, I posit the notion that physical reality is in the mind of God. God is like the Platonic forms in that he is in an abstract reality which has no physical locus, and thus is "everywhere and nowhere." So in that case there is no "beyond time" there is only the mind of God. That is a world of the mind, thus it does contain causality, but no temproal progress, it is controlled by the "thoughts" of God. Thus the problem of causality beyond time is solved, but this only works if one believes in God.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The way Atheists deal with evidence

I was an atheist. I know the games atheists play with their own minds. You keep yourselves stoked up in white hot hatred or fear or rejection of evidence for God by constantly repeating the mantra 'there is no evidence for God.' what's really interesting is how you convene yourselves of this while flying in the face of the fact that some of the world most brilliant thinkers (a truck load of them) have found tons of evidence for God.

The major game you play is a three step method:

step (1) There's still room for doubt

whatever evidence is found is not absolute because God is beyond our understanding, is not given in sense data and wants us to seeking the heart rather than have absolute proof, so there is always room for doubt.

(2) Then assume that room for doubt cancels all evidence

Unless you are absolutely compelled in a manner that you absolutely cannot reject you refuse to believe.

The final corollary is to say well since I am not compelled to believe, there is no absolute proof, therefore there is no evidence. then you rant and rave about how much more intelligent atheism is because there is no proof for God. but really all you have does is refuse to bridge the gap that in any question or any world view or any position, including your own, the gap between demonstration and assumption which must always be bridges with some form of a leap of faith.

You insist upon making what might be a short hop between proof and credulity into a huge chasm stimulated by the fear of the subjective!

(3) explain the evidence away

Naturalistic explanations offered against God arguments are not valid explanations but merely attempts to loose the phenomena. I just refuse to believe what the 300 studies show about religious experience, its' just chemicals in your head, none of the observed phenomena are really there, it's just pretending. ect ect. these kinds of excuses just lead you to ignore the evidence and then pretend there isn't any. You aren't really explaining anything you are explaining it away!

You are just playing a game a game in your minds. You are not open you are not seeking, then you want to vent about how about stupid Christians are for believing. There is an element of self congratulation that stokes the fires of dubt.

It would make a lot more sense to be open and evaluate the evidence fairly. But you keep the game "there's no evidence" except that mountain of qualia that 90% of the human races finds compelling, but I don't have to believe so I wont so there's no proof.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Presence of God

My friend, Pastor Dorcas, (of ECA) has ask those of us on that list to discussion our sense of feeling the presence of God.The reader can find her refelctions on this topic on the link on the right side bar to the blog "the Owl's song."

Just to tackle it from a phenomenologial persective, that is, to record the sensations and sense of it without commentary or attempt to categorize or expalin.

I have many different experiences which I associate with the presence of God. It's hard to describe and sometimes easy to confusse the thing itself withe certain affects. For example if I say "I have a great sense of peace," that doesn't really speak to the sense of God's presence but the affect of God's presence; yet sometimes that's all that can be said.

My frist such experince,when I really said "hey there's some reality here beyond anything I've known," was the night I got born again. At that time I a sensation of being looked at from some great height. I had a sense of being cleaned, especially inside. I felt a sense of all pervacive peace and cleaness and as it washed over me I felt I was being cleaned. I felt loved. I felt that someone was looking at me with great love.

When I got baptism of the Holy Spirit I sensed something like elecricity. another way I've descbied it is "liquid love." I don't know why I say "liquid" becasue even though the sensation was akin to wetness, I remained dry. I also felt a tingling all over lik electricity. Physical affects included palms of my hands burning and tingling, a force like a magnet pulling my arms up and I could actually feel waves of it washing over me and I could feel a gentle pull guiding my arms upward as I began to speak some lanague I dind't know. My mouth was heavey like it was a chore to speak (I was saying "prise god" and stuff) and so I began to speak the way my mouth wanted to go, and it sounde like some language I'd never heard before. I did say two word I found latter in national geographic as Myian place names.

Also a phenomenon of dizziness. I would feel dizzy and like passing out after praying for some time, and that would be accompanied by a feeling of great exceptional peace, but also like I wash rag that jut got wrung out, no stength left. I would feel like I was flaoting, sometimes like floating over the world.

But all of these things are basically affets on me. I still find it impossible to describe what exactly the thing is that I call "the presence of God." I can say it's a sense of cleaness, like everything around has been scrubed. Sometimes a sense of urgency, or a sense of importance, as though some great and imporatnt visitor is coming. I have a sense of shrinking in signficance and standing before the infinite, before the sublime. That's like when you stand in the desert at night under the stary sky, only even moreso.

Sometimes a sense of "utter dependence." That is the feeling that everying is connected and the whole that is connected is depepndent upon some greater thing that pervades the universe.

I used to get that feeling in my patio at night. I'd sit out under the stars late on a summer night and listen to the traffic on the freeway just a few blocks off, and get a sense of the connection between me, and my garden, my house, my neighborhood, the freeway, the cars, the factors that made the cars, the world as a whole the stary sky, it's all one thing and all created by some higher all pervasive form of being which creates and holds things together.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Religoius A Priori

The A priori

God is not given directly in sense data, God transcends the threshold of human understanding, and thus is not given amenable to empirical proof. As I have commented in previous essays (bloodspots) religion is not a scientific question. There are other methodologies that must be used to understand religion, since the topic is essentially inter-subjective (and science thrives upon objective data). We can study religious behavior through empirical means and we can compare all sorts of statistical realizations through comparisons of differing religious experiences, behaviors, and options. But we cannot produce a trace of God in the universe through "objective" scientific means. Here I use the term "trace" in the Derision sense, the "track," "footprint" the thing to follow to put us on the scent. As I have stated in previous essays, what we must do is find the "co-detemrinate," the thing that is left by God like footprints in the snow. The trace of God can be found in God's affects upon the human heart, and that shows up objectively, or inter-subjectvely in changed behavior, changed attitudes, life transformations. This is the basis of the mystical argument that I use, and in a sense it also have a bearing upon my religious instruct argument. But here I wish to present anther view of the trace of God. This could be seen as a co-detmiernate perhaps, more importantly, it frees religion from the structures of having to measure up to a scientific standard of proof: the religious a prori.

Definition of the a priori.

"This notion [Religious a priori] is used by philosophers of religion to express the view that the sense of the Divine is due to a special form of awareness which exists along side the cognitive, moral, and aesthetic forms of awareness and is not explicable by reference to them. The concept of religion as concerned with the awareness of and response to the divine is accordingly a simple notion which cannot be defined by reference other than itself." --David Pailin "Religious a pariori" Westminster Dictionary of Chrisian Theology (498)

The religious a priroi deals with the speicial nature of religion as non-derivative of any other discipline, and especially it's speicial reiigious faculty of understanding which transcends ordinary means of understanding. Since the enlightenment atheist have sought to explain away religion by placing it in relative and discardable terms. The major tactic for accomplishing this strategy was use of the sociological theory of structural functionalism. By this assumption religion was chalked up to some relative and passing social function, such as promoting loyalty to the tribe, or teaching morality for the sake of social cohesion. This way religion was explained naturalistically and it was also set in relative terms because these functions in society, while still viable (since religion is still around) could always pass away. But this viewpoint assumes that religion is derivative of some other discipline; it's primitive failed science, concocted to explain what thunder is for example. Religion is an emotional solace to get people through hard times and make sense of death and destruction (it's a ll sin, fallen world et). But the a priori does away with all that. The a priori says religion is its own thing, it is not failed primitive sincere, nor is it merely a crutch for surviving or making sense of the world (although it can be that) it is also its own discipline; the major impetus for religion is the sense of the numinous, not the need for explanations of the natural world. Anthropologists are coming more and more to discord that nineteenth century approach anyway.

Thomas A Indianopolus
prof of Religion at of Miami U. of Ohio

Cross currents

"It is the experience of the transcendent, including the human response to that experience, that creates faith, or more precisely the life of faith. [Huston] Smith seems to regard human beings as having a propensity for faith, so that one speaks of their faith as "innate." In his analysis, faith and transcendence are more accurate descriptions of the lives of religious human beings than conventional uses of the word, religion. The reason for this has to do with the distinction between participant and observer. This is a fundamental distinction for Smith, separating religious people (the participants) from the detached, so-called objective students of religious people (the observers). Smith's argument is that religious persons do not ordinarily have "a religion." The word, religion, comes into usage not as the participant's word but as the observer's word, one that focuses on observable doctrines, institutions, ceremonies, and other practices. By contrast, faith is about the nonobservable, life-shaping vision of transcendence held by a participant..."

The Skeptic might argue "if religion as this unique form of consciousness that sets it apart form other forms of understanding, why does it have to be taught?" Obviously religious belief is taught through culture, and there is a good reason for that, because religion is a cultural construct. But that does not diminish the reality of God. Culture teaches religion but God is known to people in the heart. This comes through a variety of ways; through direct experience, through miraculous signs, through intuitive sense, or through a sense of the numinous. The Westminster's Dictionary of Christian Theology ..defines Numinous as "the sense of awe in attracting and repelling people to the Holy." Of course the background assumption I make is, as I have said many times, that God is apprehended by us mystically--beyond word, thought, or image--we must encode that understanding by filtering it through our cultural constrcts, which creates religious differences, and religious problems.

The Culturally constructed nature of religion does not negate the a priori. "Even though the forms by Which religion is expressed are culturally conditioned, religion itself is sui generis .. essentially irreducible to and undeceivable from the non-religious." (Paladin). Nor can the a priori be reduced to some other form of endeavor. It cannot be summed up by the use of ethics or any other field, it cannot be reduced to explanation of the world or to other fields, or physiological counter causality. To propose such scientific analysis, except in terms of measuring or documenting effects upon behavior, would yield fruitless results. Such results might be taken as proof of no validity, but this would be a mistake. No scientific control can ever be established, because any study would only be studying the culturally constructed bits (by definition since language and social sciences are cultural constructs as well) so all the social sciences will wind up doing is merely reifying the phenomena and reducing the experience. In other words, This idea can never be studied in a social sciences sense, all that the social sciences can do is redefine the phenomena until they are no longer discussing the actual experiences of the religious believer, but merely the ideology of the social scientist (see my essay on Thomas S. Kuhn.

The attempt of skeptics to apply counter causality, that is, to show that the a priori phenomena is the result of naturalistic forces and not miraculous or divine, not only misses the boat in its assumptions about the nature of the argument, but it also loses the phenomena by reduction to some other phenomena. It misses the boat because it assumes that the reason for the phenomena is the claim of miraculous origin, “I feel the presence of God because God is miraculously giving me this sense of his presence.” While some may say that, it need not be the believers argument. The real argument is simply that the co-determinates are signs of the trace of God in the universe, not because we cant understand them being produced naturalistically, but because they evoke the sense of numinous and draw us to God. The numinous implies something beyond the natural, but it need not be “a miracle.” The sense of the numinous is actually a natural thing, it is part of our apprehension of the world, but it points to the sublime, which in turn points to transcendence. In other words, the attribution of counter causality does not, in and of itself, destroy the argument, while it is the life transformation through the experience that is truly the argument, not the phenomena itself. Its the affects upon the believer of the sense of Gods presence and not the sense of Gods presence that truly indicates the trance of God.

Moreover, the attempts to reduce the causality to something less than the miraculous also lose the phenomena in reification.William James, The Verieties of Religious Experience (The Gilford Lectures):

"Medical materialism seems indeed a good appellation for the too simple-minded system of thought which we are considering. Medical materialism finishes up Saint Paul by calling his vision on the road to Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an epileptic. It snuffs out Saint Teresa as an hysteric, Saint Francis of Assisi as an hereditary degenerate. George Fox's discontent with the shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a symptom of a disordered colon. Carlyle's organ-tones of misery it accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh. All such mental over-tensions, it says, are, when you come to the bottom of the matter, mere affairs of diathesis (auto-intoxications most probably), due to the perverted action of various glands which physiology will yet discover. And medical materialism then thinks that the spiritual authority of all such personages is successfully undermined."

This does not mean that the mere claim of religious experience of God consciousness is proof in and of itself, but it means that it must be taken on its own terms. It clearly answers the question about why God doesn't reveal himself to everyone; He has, or rather, He has made it clear to everyone that he exists, and He has provided everyone with a means of knowing Him. He doesn't get any more explicit because faith is a major requirement for belief. Faith is not an arbitrary requirement, but the rational and logical result of a world made up of moral choices. God reveals himself, but on his own terms. We must seek God on those terms, in the human heart and the basic sense of the numinous and in the nature of religious encounter. There are many aspects and versions of this sense, it is not standardized and can be describes in many ways:

Forms of the A priori.

Schleiermacher's "Feeling of Utter Dependence.

Frederick Schleiermacher, (1768-1834) in On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Disposers, and The Christian Faith, sets forth the view that religion is not reducible to knowledge or ethical systems. It is primarily a phenomenological apprehension of God consciousness through means of religious affections. Affections is a term not used much anymore, and it is easily confused with mere emotion. Sometimes Schleiermacher is understood as saying that "I become emotional when I pay and thus there must be an object of my emotional feelings." Though he does vintner close to this position in one form of the argument, this is not exactly what he's saying.

Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuitive sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher reality, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuitive sense of "radical contingency" (int he sense of the above ontological arugments).He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesn't' depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the pre-given pre-theorectical pre-cognative realization of what Anslem sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

Rudolph Otto's Sense of the Holy (1868-1937)

The sense of power in the numinous which people find when confronted by the sacred. The special sense of presence or of Holiness which is intuitive and observed in all religious experience around the world.

Paul Tillich's Object of Ultimate Concern.

We are going to die. We cannot avoid this. This is our ultimate concern and sooner or latter we have to confront it. When we do we realize a sense of transformation that gives us a special realization existentially that life is more than material.

see also My article on Toilet's notion of God as the Ground of Being.

Tillich's concept made into God argument.

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

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

"It is the original pre-theoretical consciousness...Schleiermacher believes that theoretical cognition is founded upon pre-theoretical intersubjective cognition and its life world. The latter cannot be dismissed as non-cognative for if the life world praxis is non-cognative and invalid so is theoretical cognition..S...contends that belief in God is pre-theoretical, it is not the result of proofs and demonstration, but is conditioned soley by the modification of feeling of utter dependence. Belief in God is not acquired through intellectual acts of which the traditional proofs are examples, but rather from the thing itself, the object of religious experience..If as S...says God is given to feeling in an original way this means that the feeling of utter dependence is in some sense an apparition of divine being and reality. This is not meant as an appeal to revelation but rather as a naturalistic eidetic"] or a priori. The feeling of utter dependence is structured by a corrolation with its whence." , Schleiermacher the Theologian, p 4.

The believer is justified in assuming that his/her experinces are experiences of a reality, that is to say, that God is real.

Freedom from the Need to prove.

Schleiermacher came up with his notion of the feeling when wrestling with Kantian Dualism. Kant had said that the world is divided into two aspects of relaity the numenous and the pheneomenal. The numenous is not experienced through sense data, and sense God is not experineced through sense data, God belongs only to the numenous. The problem is that this robbs us of an object of theological discourse. We can't talk about God because we can't experience God in sense data. Schleiermacher found a way to run an 'end round' and get around the sense data. Experience of God is given directly in the "feeling" apart form sense data.

This frees us form the need to prove the existence of God to others, because we know that God exists in a deep way that cannot be estreated by mere cultural constructs or reductionist data or deified phenomena. This restores the object of theological discourse. Once having regained its object, theological discourse can proceed to make the logical deduction that there must be a CO-determinate to the feeling, and that CO-determinate is God. In that sense Schleiermacher is saying "if I have affections about God must exist as an object of my affections"--not merely because anything there must be an object of all affections, but because of the logic of the co-determinate--there is a sense of radical contengency, there must be an object upon which we are radically contingent.