Saturday, December 15, 2007

What we KNow: part II, Prima Facie Case for God Arguments

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A poster on the comment section of the CADRE blog arrogantly proclaimed:



I understand that some Christians have a mental issue accepting that some people have knowledge that the Christian god does not exist. It is a very scary thought (needing debunking) that someone claims to know what your belief is wrong. It is especially scary when it come from an atheist, not from a "misguided" muslim.


12/10/2007 03:02:00 PM





when challenged to present the argument he just said:



No, I don't have a proof that dodos are extinct, Socrates lived, Allah does not exist or that Model-T Fords are not manufactured any more, but once one investigates an issue sufficiently the usage of the word "know" is generally excepted. Many religious people seem to "know" that their particular deity exists. I don't think you call all of them naive and ignorant?


12/11/07



I had challenged him to show the proof. If you really "know" there's no God then show us how so we can stop the nonsense and get on with our lives as atheists. Of course he had no evidence nor argument either, all he had was the typical "I don't see any God so there must not be one," couched in terms above "no proof of passenger pigeons, can't prove Bigfoot or UFO so therefore, no God. In others what you don't see is what you don't get metaphysically. The strange twist is he then implies that the term "knowing" is valid when used of any sort of knowledge derived from study. This means the concept of actual certain knowledge is really just a synonym for "educated faith" which would make even more puzzling how he could hold this out as some sort of superior position for atheism. If we take that seriously it really means we have much reason to believe in God as not. Unless of course he wants to content that atheist study harder and I would gladly take that challenge. If the volume of study or matter read was really the same as proof of one's position I know my position would win hands down. Rather than speaking in terms of knowledge we are actually speaking of warrants for belief. When a person says "I know X is the case" in the sense of conviction one is saying "the confidence I place in this hypothesis is warranted." This is not absolute knowledge as to a state of affairs that might be demonstrated to the extent that all opposition must become silent. But it is a statement of the veracity of one's warrant. I will argue that Christian warrant for belief is more rational in the sense that it has more positive evidence in its favor than do atheistic warrants.

We have no empirical demonstrative proof that God exists, but we come closer to having that than atheists do to having proof of no God. Basically, we know three things:

I. We are fit to be Religious

II. We have empirical proof of the "God correlate." (aka CO-determinate).

III. Religious belief works as a way of life.

These three facts are enough to demonstrate the rationality of belief and the irrationality of atheism. Yes, these are facts. They are not merely opinions or speculations they are amply demonstrated through a ton of data.


I. Fit to be religious:


The argument actually says that the fact of a religious species is far too coincidental to be merely the product of random chance. Why would it be that we are fit to be religious, that it is our instinct and our way of life? That would indicate that an object of religious devotion designed religiosity into humans. In summation the following factors indicate that religiosity is part of human nature:

a) Historical Tendency:

The vast Majority of Humans have been religious as far back as we have evidence of humanity (50,000 years) [see above A. 3]

b) Believers have always been vast numerical majority

That is not appeal to popularity, it's an argument about behavior which indicates an innate condition. Almost 90% currently of world population are rleigious believers in some sense.

c) Transcultural

When anthropologists see a behavior that transcends culture they assume it is innate. There has never been a culture tha was atheistic. Every culture we have ever seen or found traces of on earth going back as far as we can has been religious in some way.

d) Even in cultures such as China where the government attempted irradiation of religious belief there are still 51% religious and many more undecided but not "anti-"religious

e) Physical fitness for religion

Our bodies work better when we are religious, it is the major factor in health and far more of a motivator than any other trigger of the Placebo effect [see above C.3]

f) Archetypes Universal

Archetypes are natural part of the human psyche (see the next argument). Also see Jesus Christ and Mythology page II. Archetypes are psychological symbols which point to transcendent ideal beyond the material realm. Studies show that they are natural to all people and emerge under a broad verity of psychological techniques.Maslow says that they are found among all people using ever technique of psychoanalysis. [above B.3]

g) Psychologically fit for religion

Psychological factors, religious believers have far less depression and incidence of mental illness so the human mind works best when religious. [above C]

h) Trans formative power

IF the appeal of the argument were merely popularity, it would not turn on things other than popularity. Obviously these reasons I'm giving here are not popularity. But, the trans formative power of religious experience is another aspect of the argument which proves that it' not merely an appeal to popularity. Religious expernce transforms lives, it gives people life affirming experiences which makes them better as people and makes life worth living. Not all psychological factors are capable of doing that. We are so constituted as a species that we respond to these experiences in such a way that they do transform our lives. That proves that we are fit to be religious, and that is not an appeal to popularity.[see also point C above on psychological normality and self actualization]

i) brain wave patterns

Brain wave patterns are changed by religious experience. We go from Alpha waves to Beta and to other levels of Brain wave patterns when we have these experinces.

j) "God pod" (God module in the brain)

Scientists have identified a cluster of neurons in the brain which, when stimulated, produce feelings of extacy and thoughts about God and the transcendent. This is too great a coincidence that nature would just produce this by random chance, especially when taken together with all the other ways in which we are fit to be religious. It's an evidence of design, we are made to be a religious species.

k) Sense of the Numinous universal


When we see aspect of human evolution endemic to the species as a whole we assume that it is the product of evolution. We assume religious belief is a product of evolution but how foolish it is to assume that nature would, unaided by any sort of higher reality, make man religious for no reason. We can can't chalk it up to survive because we don't find the same hard wring and other aspects in ideas of social unity and cohesion or ethics and morality. Only in religion do we find all of these aspects including he hard wired brain.


II. empirical proof of God correlate.

Atheists want to attribute the origin of religion to the need to explain nature. But anthropologists and psychologists no longer find this credible. Now they attribute religious belief to the sense of the numinous. Because we find some aspect of reality to be different from the mundane, we sense a sublime, a transcendent, a terror, a sense of dread, the existential sense of meaning, we conclude that there is a reality higher than just the material daily world. Since this is endemic to us, and it is part of our inborn religious nature, we can assume it is an indication of something higher. This forms the basis of all religion.

In the previous post I deal with the issue "how do we know these effects of Religious Experience are actually a co-determinate?"

The atheists will argue that this is supposition. Of course it is. Of course the fact that ti's empirically documented as to the effects and that it is the most logical and educated supposition will be meaningless to them. This is their ultimately excuse to ignore the truth and so they will ignore it. But I don't see how anything could be more obvious.

(1) the content of the experience is about the divine.

(2) the effect of the experience is to create faith where there was none and to turn people on to God

(3) the effects are real, lives are transformed.

(4) I really fail to see why it is not logical and rationally warranted to accept this as reason enough if one is so included.

Of course it's not proof. but it means any reasonable understanding of a prmia facie burden. The atheists thev the burden of proof to show us why a ratioanl warrant is not good enough. We have met our prima facie burden.




The effects are proven thorough a voluminous body of material, empirical studies which show the long term positive effects of religious belief upon the believer.

III. works as a way of life.



In other words, even though many find religion abusive or stiffening, for the majority religion is a source of strength. the empirical data demonstrates that for the great majority religion is a major factor in wellness. The normative nature of religious belief is a good indication of truth content.



Shrinks assume religious experience Normative.
Dr. Jorge W.F. Amaro, Ph.D., Head psychology dept. Sao Paulo

[ http://www.psywww.com/psyrelig/amaro.html]

a) Unbeliever is the Sick Soul

"A non spiritualized person is a sick person, even if she doesn't show any symptom described by traditional medicine. The supernatural and the sacredness result from an elaboration on the function of omnipotence by the mind and can be found both in atheist and religious people. It is an existential function in humankind and the uses each one makes of it will be the measure for one's understanding."



b. psychotherapeutic discipline re-evaluates Freud's criticism of religion

Quote:

Amaro--

"Nowadays there are many who do not agree with the notion that religious behavior a priori implies a neurotic state to be decoded and eliminated by analysis (exorcism). That reductionism based on the first works by Freud is currently under review. The psychotherapist should be limited to observing the uses their clients make of the representations of the image of God in their subjective world, that is, the uses of the function of omnipotence. Among the several authors that subscribe to this position are Odilon de Mello Franco (12), .... W. R. Bion (2), one of the most notable contemporary psychoanalysts, ..."



[sources sited by Amaro BION, W. R. Aten��o e interpreta��o (Attention and interpretation). Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1973.

MELLO FRANCO, O. de. Religious experience and psychoanalysis: from man-as-god to man-with-god. Int. J. of Psychoanalysis (1998) 79,]



c) This relationship is so strong it led to the creation of a whole discipline in psychology; transactionalism

Neilson on Maslow

Quote:

"One outgrowth of Maslow's work is what has become known as Transpersonal Psychology, in which the focus is on the spiritual well-being of individuals, and values are advocated steadfastly. Transpersonal psychologists seek to blend Eastern religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) or Western (Christian, Jewish or Moslem) mysticism with a form of modern psychology. Frequently, the transpersonal psychologist rejects psychology's adoption of various scientific methods used in the natural sciences."
"The influence of the transpersonal movement remains small, but there is evidence that it is growing. I suspect that most psychologists would agree with Maslow that much of psychology -- including the psychology of religion -- needs an improved theoretical foundation."





3) Religion is positive factor in physical health.

"Doctrors find Power of faith hard to ignore
By Usha Lee McFarling
Knight Ridder News Service
(Dec. 23, 1998)
Http://www.tennessean.com/health/stories/98/trends1223.htm

Quote:

"Some suspect that the benefits of faith and churchgoing largely boil down to having social support � a factor that, by itself, has been shown to improve health. But the health effects of religion can't wholly be explained by social support. If, for example, you compare people who aren't religious with people who gather regularly for more secular reasons, the religious group is healthier. In Israel, studies comparing religious with secular kibbutzim showed the religious communes were healthier."Is this all a social effect you could get from going to the bridge club? It doesn't seem that way," said Koenig, who directs Duke's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health .Another popular explanation for the link between religion and health is sin avoidance."

"The religious might be healthier because they are less likely to smoke, drink and engage in risky sex and more likely to wear seat belts.But when studies control for those factors, say by comparing religious nonsmokers with nonreligious nonsmokers, the religious factors still stand out. Compare smokers who are religious with those who are not and the churchgoing smokers have blood pressure as low as nonsmokers. "If you're a smoker, make sure you get your butt in church," said Larson, who conducted the smoking study."



see also: he Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993 For data on a many studies which support this conclusion.

4) Religion is the most powerful Factor in well being.

Poloma and Pendelton The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., Natiional Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3290.

Quote:

"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predictor of existential well being. The degree to which an individual felt close to God was the most important factor in terms of existential well-being. While frequency of prayer contributed to general life satisfaction and personal happiness. As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combination of religious items, including prayer, relationship with God, and other measures of religious experince to begin to adequately clearly the associations of religious commitment with general well-being."


(5) 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.

Nielsen, M. E. (1998). An assessment of religious conflicts and their resolutions. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 181-190.


of course atheists are going to argue that just because it works that is no proof of truth content. I think it is. Its' foolish to think that something which is so endemic to humanity, hard wired in our brains, evolved socially over time, and makes our lives work the they way they are supposed to work, would be just a mistake or an accident. More importantly it doesn't have to be proof. Its' shallow and hypocritical to argue "well sure it woks, but I just can't believe something that's not true." Atheists don't know what's true. They know they don't know how the universe got here or what caused the big bang. That doesn't bother them. They don't know and they don't know and it doesn't bother them a bit. It only bothers them when they have to subjugate the will to a higher power. That's the real issue, that's the whole crux of the matter. Here are valid well documented major rational reasons to believe something, they have no clue as to the ultimate origin of things, but they would rather keep their heads in a black box than to take a risk and make a leap of faith, even though the evidence favors it.


The bottom line is this, this is what we truly know with certainly, we have met our prima facie burden that's all we need to meet.











2 comments:

Ben Elijah said...

“We have no empirical demonstrative proof that God exists, but we come closer to having that than atheists do to having proof of no God. Basically, we know three things:

I. We are fit to be Religious

II. We have empirical proof of the "God correlate." (aka CO-determinate).

III. Religious belief works as a way of life.

These three facts are enough to demonstrate the rationality of belief and the irrationality of atheism. Yes, these are facts. They are not merely opinions or speculations they are amply demonstrated through a ton of data.

It would be silly to deny that most human cultures have religion of some sort of course but that is a form of argumentum ad populum. Basically, simply because most people believe, or are inclined to believe in something, does not constitute evidence of its existence. It begs the question of why so many believe it. Your argument is an evidence of circular reasoning then; we are fit to be religious which is evidence of our fitness to be religious. It's an interesting tautology. We could happily go into such things as the evolutionary/memetic history of religion or issues of developmental psychology. One could say that we have evolved the capacity for religion, just like we have evolved the capacity for rape, murder, paedophilia and self-destruction. It makes more sense not to live our lives by what we are biologically / psychologically capable of, but by the courage of our convictions and reasoning.

“Atheists want to attribute the origin of religion to the need to explain nature. But anthropologists and psychologists no longer find this credible. Now they attribute religious belief to the sense of the numinous. Because we find some aspect of reality to be different from the mundane, we sense a sublime, a transcendent, a terror, a sense of dread, the existential sense of meaning, we conclude that there is a reality higher than just the material daily world. Since this is endemic to us, and it is part of our inborn religious nature, we can assume it is an indication of something higher.”

Why? Since it is endemic to us and part of our inborn religious nature (I shall take that as read, you assume it to be true but I am aware of much scientific research into whether that is so... personally I like the memetic idea but I digress), it begs the question of how that inclination came to be.

If I understand your argument, I can present the metaphor of a jigsaw puzzle as an analogy:

i)You have a complete jigsaw where you know each piece must fit into another to form a complete, coherent picture that cannot deviate.
ii)You have a piece from that jigsaw puzzle
iii)Ergo, your piece will fit into the bigger picture.

In other words, our capacity for transcendental experience must mirror, or be “tuned” to the experience which it is “designed” to receive. That represents point i) of my analogy. The problem is that there are so many different realities that have been proposed throughout human history.... Vedic religions and Zoroastrianism, Aboriginal beliefs, paleolithic “shamanistic” cultures, the Greek pantheon, mezo-American beliefs, the Celtic Pantheon, the Levantine pantheon which evolved into monotheistic Judaism by the time of King Hezekiah. The list goes on. We have an enormously varied bunch of philosophies and concepts that all represent a different reality. The jigsaw puzzle is not one “reality” but thousands. There's the flying spaghetti monster!

Your answer to this will probably be that each religion has something in common – most have creation myths, one or more deities that either personify certain concepts (you will note that Judeo-Christian religions are a deviation from that trend) deal with civilisation vs. barbarity, have a moral code, etc etc. My answer is that each differing religion mirrors exactly the anthropological history of the people that believe it. For example, Judaism is suited to the history of the people who first came to believe in it, similarly Celtic religions are suited to their environment and lifestyle. The contrast between the early Vedic ideas and Zoroastrianism is fascinating because where the latter evolved, hill peoples fought with settled farmers. We have a dualism that informed the gnostic idea of Good and Evil that is unique to the Abrahamic religions.

I could go on, but the crux of my argument is that you will find more of an explanation for the religious experience of certain people by looking at their history and the evolution of their beliefs over time, than from the flawed assumption that because they all have some sort of superstition, there must be a higher reality.


“The atheists will argue that this is supposition. Of course it is. Of course the fact that ti's empirically documented as to the effects and that it is the most logical and educated supposition will be meaningless to them. This is their ultimately excuse to ignore the truth and so they will ignore it. But I don't see how anything could be more obvious.”

With all due respect I think this is just FUD. It may be obvious that the Earth is flat or that, judging by its motion, the sun goes round the Earth. This is obvious, but an unsatisfactory explanation out of which no further information can come.

“Of course it's not proof. but it means any reasonable understanding of a prmia facie burden. The atheists thev the burden of proof to show us why a ratioanl warrant is not good enough. We have met our prima facie burden.”

You may need to explain this as it makes no sense to me after a few readings. Most atheists I know will use the burden of proof to say that since theists make a positive proposition, i.e., “there definitely is a God”, the burden of proof is on them to assert this. The default position is one in which there is no God because prior to the theists (logically speaking, not historically), there is no God. The atheist can then go to town on the theist arguments as to why there is a God. This often catches out a lot of theists because they've grown up in a society which is religious to varying degrees. Religious life is the de-facto standard in the West and it takes a bit of thought to realise that this is not the case once we get into logic.

“III. works as a way of life.

In other words, even though many find religion abusive or stiffening, for the majority religion is a source of strength. the empirical data demonstrates that for the great majority religion is a major factor in wellness. The normative nature of religious belief is a good indication of truth content.”

Whoa!! Too much too fast there! Religion works as a way of life for a lot of people, yes. I'm not going to argue with that. To my, atheism is just an intellectual chess game. I live my life by principles which I think are right... to say that there is no god is just a philosophical statement which I happen to agree with. I would never force it on people who derive pleasure from their faith and would only debate it with them if we agree to do so within the context of a debate, not a preaching session.

Now, I could argue that any benevolent holistic belief or moral system is going to work as a way of life. I am a humanist, as are many of my friends and while we don't believe in God, we're all happy, successful, well adjusted people with no deep-seated psychological issues or traumas. Is that evidence of it's truth by itself? What if I believed in the moral powers of the pimple on the nose of the giant pixie, and this gave joy, happiness and well being to millions of people. Does that make it more true? Of course not! Truth is a matter for a posteriori experimentation and scientific method to uncover – not a straw poll of who is more happy!

I could accept that there is a utilitarian argument for religion, using your logic, but with the qualification that it's negative aspects such as child abuse, indoctrination, homophobia, suppression of women and moral absolutism is removed first.


“a) Unbeliever is the Sick Soul”

Forgive me but I simply can't take that seriously. If atheists may tend to be unhappy, it is likely because of the rejection they have endured from family/friends who are religious. I'd say that's more of a problem in the US than it is here in the UK where atheism is accepted, uncontroversial and won't cause World War Three in even most religious families. Am I a “sick soul”?

I've read the rest of your post a few times, I think that what I have said here covers your other points which can be summed up as “religion is popular, well established and beneficial and therefore true”. I believe my objections adequately refute that assertion.

J.L. Hinman said...

These are good comments. I appreciate your thoughtful response. In fact I really enjoy this because I can sink my teeth into this. Not because it's easy to answer, but because its' reasonable and well thought out. I think it deserves a major answer. so I will put it in the major blogspot as a regular post and answer it at length. Give me a couple of days to get that on tap.