Monday, December 29, 2008

Causality in Miracle Hunting

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In the discussions of miracles several atheists have made some big misconceptions.

(1) mistaken assumptions about my knowledge of correlation and cause.

some assume that since they are clever enough to know the very basic information, the difference in correlation and causality, that I must not know that because I'm a Christian and Christians are stupid, and they are so very clever to know some basic fact that all high school kids should get, correlation is not causality.

But what they don't get is that just i argue inductively that correlation is indicative of a cause if certain conditions obtain, that doesn't mean I don't know the difference.

(2) What these very clever atheist don't get is that correlation is indicative of cause.
part of the problem is that certain people don't seem know what indicative means. Be that as it may, there is an epistemological gap in our knowledge it a problem at the most fundamental philosophical level. We can only establish causality in one way, buy making very correlations and eliminating alternate causes. This is the only way there is, and that's what Hume really proved with the billiard balls.

science can't prove causes. We can only prove correlations. When I assume causes on miracles, it's the only way we ever establish cause. Hans says "only if we eliminate the alternate causes." Yes, that's true, but it also leads to recursion of the original problem. Because if we can't observe causality and it must be inferred from correlation, then you can't say "I have eliminated an alternate cause by showing causality and eliminating it." That's just a repeat of the same problem. The alternate causes are only possibilities, they are not proven either. What is boils down to is in the final analysis a really tight correlation is the only way to determine cause. Although it is important to eliminate the alternative possible causes, essential in fact. What this means is I am right to assume causes from correlations, given that I can eliminate alternatives, and I usually can.

All of this means that medical evidence showing the disease went away, when examined by scientific medicos is good evidence for miracles. It's not absolute, there is no absolute. There will always be a gap in our epistemology. We will always have to make epistemic judgment.

(2) Don't need to show hit rate

The argument is made we must show the percentage of those healed vs not healed.

That's ridiculous. The reason is because we do not know the reason when someone is not healed. We cannot assume "O not bein healed means there's no ;god, because some are healed." Knowing the hit rate is important in many cases. such as prophesy, "so and so is a true prophet he predicted x," but how many predictions did the make that did not come true?

Knowing the hist rate is not true in terms of empirical evidence of healing because:

......(a) We don't know if the not healing is the result of no god, or God just didn't want to heal. Because a will is on the other end of the prayer we cannot treat it like a natural process and expect it to behave like a drug in a field trial.

......(b) Miracles are supposed to be impossible. they violate natural law. that's the whole theory of naturalism in a nut shell; nothing happens apart form natural law.

Thus if one miracle happens that proves miracles and all it takes is one. proving that x% are not healed doesn't prove anything. miracles are supposed to be impossible and can't happen, if one of them happens, or we can assume it happened, then that proves they do happen. We don't know the rate because God is not a drug. Divine healing is a matter of God's will.

(3) God's action in healing is not indicative of God's feelings about those healed or not healed.

This is the whole fallacy of the God hates amputees thing. You might as well say God hates breakfast because not once in my Christian walk has God ever made me scrambled eggs in the morning.

St. Augustine proved that there is no correlation between worldly prosperity or success and God's love. Rome was sacked by the vandals and everyone was saying "this disproves Christianity." but Augie said "no it doesn't, divine favor is not based worldly success. Stuff happens to Christians too, God causes it rain on the just and unjust."

(4) No double blind

Lourdes evidence does not need to be double blind First of all these are not "studies." They are not set up as a longitudinal study to see if healing works. These are real people and their journey to Lourdes is part of their journey in life in a search to be healed, they are not white lab mice plotting world conquest.

Secondly, double blind is used as a means of control so we know data is not contaminated by the subjects knowledge of the test. People suffering from an incurable disease cannot cure themselves. So it doesn't matter if they know. If the data shows the condition went away immediately and it can be documented that all traces are gone, the of course can assume healing, provided there is no counter cause such as he took a wonder drug before he left for Lourdes; they do certainly screen for that.

Of course there are still epistemological problems. There will always be such problems. That's why you can't prove you exist. But just as the answer to that problem is "Make epistemic judgment based upon regularity and inconsistency of data," so it goes with miracles, proving smoking causes cancer or anything else.

Thomas Reid got it right, we are justified in assuming empirical evidence provided it's strong evidence.

One more problem. When I say "correlation" this invites the question "how can you find a correlation if you don't know the hit rate? A correlation implies X and Y are seen together a lot, not just in one instance. But we can't go around giving people cancer and praying for them over and over to see if they ar always healed. We have to let multiple cases stand for correlation. But since we can't say why healing didn't take place we have to use empirical means to assert on a case by case basis.

come discuss this with me:

at Sense of the Numinous

seeing the light

here's an article by an atheist who has come to see that what Africa needs is Christianity:


Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Moment of Silence for the Dallas Cowboys

thank God their season is over. It's almost a mercy killing just get them into the off season.

Maybe next year they can play the Detroit lions everytime, then they get the wild card.

ATheist Watch is back!

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Atheist Watch Is my new Blog where I will chart the progress of the New Atheism in critical terms. Part of the mission of Atheist Watch is to keep track of the New Atheism as it transits from a lose collection of angry misfits to an actual hate group. I will also present arguments about major atheist ideas and others things pertaining to events connected with the atheist movement. I will use this blog for positive things. Here is where I will put God arguments and analyze ideas and constructs. But Atheist Watch will be used much as old Blog Fundie Watch was used. I hope Atheist Watch gets more traffic. Almost no one ever looked at Fundie Watch. I'm not sure why. but both groups need to be keep kept in view. Both New Atheism and fundies are a threat to society.

Hopefully this new incarnation of the site will be a more serious analysis of developments in the atheist community.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

and to all a good night

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Atheist Incredulity: Historical Accuracy and Eyewitnesses


Loren the skeptic makes comments on the previous post (below) and they have gotten me thinking. The comments revolve around the skeptical ideas about the Gospels as exercises in realistic fiction in the first century, and the refusal to atheists to deal honestly with evidence. To the statment Kristen makes that C.S. Lewis points that one can tell if an eye witness account is realistic or not, Loren asks:

How did CS Lewis figure that out? It does not seem very apparent to me.
That comes with the experience of reading. One clue to look for is the unreliability of the witnesses. Eye Witnesses also contradict in little ways; one says the bandit wore a green shirt, the other says he wore a black shirt. If all of witnesses say exactly the same thing one must suspect collusion. If witnesses are quoted they talk like real people. I am sure that doubting Thomas profession of faith: "my Lord and my God," is poetic license. A real guy would probably say "O wow man, I guess you are real." But then the use of poetic license doesn't mean the incident didn't happen or he didn't say anything. But the fact of it is did not have the kind of litterary mentality that would allow them to write a realistic novel for the purpose of spreading some cultish ideas that didn't really happen. The idea that would think "I'll write soemthing that rvery realistic and seems to be froma roving camera persective and includes of historically accuate material" would never occur to them. that assumes the persective of a documentary on film, it assumes travel and it assumes knowledge of maps, and the ability to understand a wide veriety of local custums all of which were unavaible to anyone in late antiqutiy.

Loren has heard the argument that they did not have modern novels in that day and in response she says:

Furthermore, some people had written more-or-less realistic novels in the Greco-Roman world -- consider Chariton of Aphrodisias's novel Chaereas and Callirhoe and Apuleius's The Golden Ass.
The problem here is these are not novels in the modern sense and their sense of "realism" is not comprable to modern realism. But the assumptions skeptics make about this sort of realism as reflected in the Gospels (by that they mean the use of historical places and historical people) is based upon assumptions that come from being modern readers and would not occur to anceint people. For example there's more to realism than just not having miracles, or having things happen in the way they usually happen in life. The idea of realism as a modern writing style in novles came about in the ninteeth century it was very much related to scientfici view ponits. It was a reflection science and scientifci understanindg. It includes a lot more than just not having miracles or more than having real place names. It's a world view, it's a way of looking at the world. In it's latter developments it inculdes psychological insights such as stream of conscousness.

Arguments have been made such that Stephen Neil observes that all the details of Acts are accurate right down to the titles of local office holders. He remarks that this is something that is extremely hard to get right. The first thing people get wrong is the local title of an office holder. The fact that Luke always gets them right shows that he was there. He did travel in that area. No one in late Antiquity would think to go traveling in the area and absorbing local color just to get the titles right in a story. No one did that, no one would do it. No one would think to question it because most people did not travel boradly, they did not have modern conveience and theyd di not have reference books to look it up in, and you can see this in mideval paintings where all the basic facts about middle east are wrong; people often wear mideval hair stles and colothing in such paintings even though they are suppossed to be in the middle east in the first century, becasue they didn't have any way to know how far off they were.

They did not have a scientific undestading of nature, so they did have a realistic wrting style that reflected pscychological insight or any real eason to reflect realistically the way nauturalistic process work. The assumptions the atheists are making are partly wrapped up in assuing that the realism is to make the miracle believeable. But no one would think that way at the time. No one one question miracles on the gorunds that they didn't happen, or that they were improbable. They did actualy qustion miracles. The idea I'v seen atheists state that ancient people were stupid and supersticious and would never question miracles, is not only false but a contradiction to the previous assumption about reailsm. But it is not true that they never questioned miracles. They did concern themselves with "did this really happen? Is it a trick." Many wonder workers were expossed. Tacistus has a hobby of exposing false resurrections. But they diud not doubt themon scientific grounds or upon the grounds that "we never see this happen." They were just sharp enough to know that there are tricks and to wondef "is it real."

On the other hand they did not have a cocnept of modern scietnfic proof. The basic question "are miracles possible becaues they are unscientific" would never occur to them. Thus there is no point in writting reailstically for that reason. It's not an attempt to make miracles seem plausible because they didn't frame the qeution of miracles in that way. They did not have a concept of modern scientific proof. Now Largen makes a statement that tells me this her way of thinking, that she equates realism with naturalism (which is a modern tendency and they would not think of it in the firrst century):

I will, however, concede some less-than-realistic features of the latter one. In it, the central character gets turned into a donkey after meddling with some sorcery, and after several misadventures, he has a vision of Isis who reveals to him how to become human again. But is that any more unrealistic than all those miracles that Jesus Christ had allegedly worked?

She's talking about the "novel" the Godlen Ass. This tells me she is equating natuarlism wiht realism because he calls miracles "unrealistic" so she is thinking that things that violate scientific probablity are less realistic than the norm of our perceptions that such things don't happen. That was not the norm of perception for the ancinet world, they did not think in terms of mathemtical probablity. They woudl not reule out miracles on the grounds that "this doesn't happen enough." so they would not equate miracles as unrealistic nor realistic writting with a lack of miracles.

In making this assumption about naturlism = realism, miracles = unrealistic, they are missing the point of miracles. The atheists want to deal with them in a framework of modern scientific thinking,a and they project that back onto the atittude of the ancients. But this would not occur to the ancients. They would think of miracles in terms of the meaning of the event. Its' an omen, a sign, a portent. It has it's own meaning, it's as though nature itself is a book and we read it in a literrary sense. So Jesus heals the sick, they would not ask "do we ever diseases remitting naturalistically?" They would say "he did this to show us that God can heal our problem, so he can heal sin too." They would not say "this is unrealistic because it doesn't happen enough." so the bita bout the swin run over the cliff and die, they would say "this is a sign that thsoe who reject the law of God will come to a bad end of their own blindness and her instrict of sin." Something like that. They would realte the meaning of the event itself to some grand desing of meaning in a larger sense and in a litterary sense (because the use of symoblism in literature is a hold over form that kind of thinking). They would not think about it in terms of naturlism.

She closes her comments by stating:

And as to Q, it was a collection of sayings, and such a collection need not imply a single originator. I've seen similar sort of skepticism about Aesop, the supposed teller of Aesop's Fables.
As far as that point is related to incredultiy concerning Jesus' statements it's basically coming from Dourghty and the Jesus mythers. When all you have is incredulity you don't think ctirically. Now there is a huge difference in Aesop (and Homer and all such cases) and the Q source as sayings of Jesus. The difference is that Aesop's fables reverberated around the ancient world for some time. Homer was about a thousand years old even in Christ's time. I'm sure there were many Homers becuase the Illiad travaled through many countires over many centuries, and it reflected two sides, the Hitite's who backed Troy and the Greeks, who destoryed Troy. The Q source circulated for a brief time, about twenty years by the time it was written and began to be incorportated into the early versions of the Gospel writtings. This is not enouh time for multiple authors. The assertion is based upon Jesus myther assumptions anyway which are totally destoryed in my critique of Doherty's Evolution of Jesus. One of the major assumptions is that the alledged stoic nature of these sayings marks them as Greek origin and ties them to an older history. But as several scholars point out (again in the same prevously linked essay) there is nothing particularly stoic per se about them. These sayings could be stoic they could be said by almost anyone.

Atheists have no real ability to confront the evidence. They contradict themselves on eye witnesses, first taunting that the Gospels are not eye witness testimony, then when one proves that they are, stating that eye witnesses get it wrong and don't matter. They can't confront the fact of historical accuracy in the Gospels, trying to dismiss eye witness testimony with modern assumptions about ancient writers. Historical accuracy and eye witness testimony is not absoulte proof. You can call it "weak" but it has to be taken as part of a cumuliative case. But when all you have is arguemnt form incredulity (I refuse to believe no matter what) then proof and evidence don't matter. We should stop caring about the taunts of evidence and eye witnesses because atheists don't really care about them anyway. They will always fail to undestand the evidence becuase one cannot think critically when one has nothing but blanket incredulity. But the Christian whose faith is floundering needs to grow past the need for "absolute" proof and seek God on the existential level. The real issues of faith are not about proof, we are not as a species capable of real objectivity. We really need to understand the direct phenomenological (first hand experince) of God's relaity, not merely theoretical evidence.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Atheists, Incredulity and Evidence.

eye witness testimony in Gospels

I responded to atheist taunts on a message board, taunts saying "there's no eye witness evdience in the Gospels." So I said there is an proceeded to show how we know that. This elicited two general sort of response. The first is a philosophical denial of the possibility of miracles, plus an assortment of other incredulous statements. All but one responded in this manner. That one, who i call "mr. knowledge" (his real screen name is "Grog") ties the "factual" approach. I place this in scare quotes he's a Jesus myther so what is fact to Jesus mythers? It's as though they leave the knitting gritty to one guy who likes it, and the other just assert their philosophical position is Superior in and of itself without evidence or argument.

I think it's pretty clear that they expect their ideology alone to banish evidence. To make the claim "there's no evdience one would expect that evdience would be important. But time and time again they refuse to argue evdience falling back instead upon their ideological statements.

Here are the arguments I made which are just a summary of things on my website.

summary of evidence for eye witness content in Gospels.

I've given this stuff many many many many times, no one has ever disprove it to any degree.

scholarly cautions:

*I can grant that there are embellishments,

*that we don't know much,

*that we need to know more to have a real historical picture.

But the assert that they are just made up bs and we don't know anything is foolish.

(1) Not written 40 years or more latter: written 18 years latter.

This is arrived at through textaul criticism, but it's a fact. its' a known fact.

there are several sourcesthat predate the Gospels in their current form.

(a) Q
(b) G.Thomas
(c) G. Peter
(d) L
(e) M
(f) PMR (pre Mark readaction)
(g) Passion narrative of the PMR
(h) Paul's saying source
(i) Egerton 2
(j) Gospel of the savior
(k) may others (we have 54 lost Gospels in all)

the point here is that they the material was circulating in written form as early as mid century when lots of eye witnesses were still alive to challenge any major mistakes or lies.

(2) Extra Biblical Eye witness claims

(a) Papias says he learned the story from Aristion and the Elder John and others who knew the Apostles.

(b) Polycap claimed to have learned from the Apostle John

even if he was wrong and he meant the Elder John, he was an eye witness (according to Papias) and probably the last redactor of the Gospel of John and author of the Epistles. at least second and third John. The writing style i think is different between 1st J and 2/3 J.

(3) eye witness claims in the Bible

(a) 1st John claims to have been a eye witness

(b) 1 Peter calims to have been an eye witness.

(4) Gospel of John clearly contains eye witness materiel

John identifies Lazarus as the BD because he calls "the beloved disciple." The fact that only in John do we see intimate portraits of Jesus' life, his emotions, his private circle of freinds who don't pop up anywhere else, this indicates that they had not only eye witnesses but people who knew him closely.

(5) dates pushed back

(a) Mark

Version used by Luke is not the same as that used by Matt. So the fact that there were multiple versions (and the idea of the UR Mracus as been around for over 100 years) lead some scholars to see Marks evolving out of a process that began as eralry as the late 30s.

(b) Matt has been found quoted in the Talmud from a section historically understood to be first century. Thus this pushes back the date of mark (given the assumptions made about copying) to before AD 70.

(6) Probability favors eye witness input given community authorship

(a) oral tradition guaranteed accurate passage of info

Now the assumption that the early story were just wild rumors is totally wrong. The Jews had an oral culture, they had oral traditions. They were supposedly passing down the material in the Talmud since the time of Moses.

In an oral culture they understood how to keep factual knowledge straight and they had good memories because they understood memory techniques and could memorize huge amounts of stuff. Even today we still see in Turkey where bards can memorize the whole Iliad and spit it back word for word. The Jews did this. they memorized the words of their teacher.

(b) Gospels were not written by individuals. but by communities.

this is the consensus now in scholarly circles. See Luke Timothy Johnson

(c) Acts shows us the early church living together in communal situation and it says they studied the scriptures every day. They were looking for verses about Jesus int he : find prophesy and connect it all up to what happened.

(d) Thus they were passing on the story in the community and telling them under controlled conditions and each community probalby had it's own eye witnesses.

that's why John focuses just on MM and Matt has Mary the mother and a whole set of about four women because the John community got MM (which is according to church legend) and the other communities probably had the other women.

There are a couple who actaully do try to aruge with the conept of eye witnesses.

Originally Posted by Iceage View Post
I have to ask where are the eye witness accounts of disinterested parties? It would be like showing up at a crime scene and only have eye witness accounts from one biased side.

you are confused about the nature of writing in late antiquity. they did not have a concept of "first person objective testimony." they did not have a concept of modern courts, science, or proof.

what we have proves that Jesus existed, that the taught that was Messiah and that he was at least believed to have worked miracles and risen from the dead. that's all we need becasue the rest is supplied in our own lives as individuals.

Why no letters home from Roman soldiers talking about the mysterious events. There are original letters from Roman soldiers from the same time period telling mom thanks for the socks. (which is interesting in itself that we have original letters from soldiers but not the Gospels).

most Roman soldiers were illiterate. Cumont proved that Roman solider were impressed enough with Christianity to take it back and make it part of their mithric cult. But any writing form a roman solider is very rare.


Or some "eye witness" accounts from the enemy camp such as a Jewish Pharisee documenting the strange account of resurrection of the Saints.

Jewish writing from the first century that surface in the talmud prove that Jesus existed, and that it was claimed that he worked magic

Quote:Ice age:
Second why would God go though all the trouble of being resurrected and appear only to those of the inside group? Why not appear to Pilate and have a "You want the truth" moment, or Caesar, or the Greeks or the Chinese who could have and would have documented such a strange appearance.

Again I did not bring it up. It was their argument to begin wtih "no eye witnesses."
my answer:

Meta:you are confused about the nature of God. you are thinking as a big man in the sky. That's not it. that's not the nature of God.

My theory of soterological drama accounts for Why God doesn't just hold a press conference.
Quote: Ice Age:
Third "eye witness" of religious events are notoriously unreliable. Consider the "eye witness" account of the Golden Plates of the Mormon affair? Or the 'eye witness" accounts of the appearances of Mother Mary in Europe? Or the accounts of Roman rulers such a Vespasian healing people at the same time period.

Meta:Joe Smith was one guy. the Gospel communities were hundreds or thousands of people. Whole communities putting their testimony in.

Again he's not arguing against the evidence for eye witnesses. He's challenging the idea of thier value a priori once having made the assertion that we don't have any. I should have also pointed out that non religous modern day witnesses are unreliable.

The standard ideologcial argument says miracles don't happen enough. They avoid a strict circular argument by leaving it open ended in a technical sesne (becasue it is a probablity arguent) but in reality that they just assume odds are so totally overwhealming that no miracle will actually happen even though they don't say they can't.

This exchange is from a friend called "Emuse" and he is a freind. He's posted on CARM for a long time:

Quote:Metacrock before
you tell me. you guys are always saying we don't have it. so here it is now you tell me what it proves. what does it prove if we don't have it?

Non Christians present many arguments to counter or challenge the claims of Christianity. Some of those arguments are stronger than others for obvious reasons.With respect to documentation, I don't think that such arguments are very strong. Proximity to events does not seems to validate or negate the claim of a document.
Meta: Not so much in and of itself. But it's a necessary first step if you follow a certain train of argument. You are also overlooking the eye witness factor. The living eye witnesses; more of them the closer to the event.

The main issue is with respect to claims of the miraculous ... and I have covered this before. I have pointed this out before in relation to passages such as this ...
Meta: But that's just an ideological decision. Is' a philosophical objection, not an evidential one. The claim I'm addressing is the one that says "no evidence." you make that claim why get involved?

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

16Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Matthew 16:13-16
Even whilst Jesus was alive it was being claimed by others that he was a previously deceased prophet returned from death. Some even claimed that he was John the Baptist who had only recently been killed. The latter claim was popular enough for the disciples to be aware of it and Mark even suggests that it was popular enough for Herod to become aware of ... and embrace!!

14King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, "John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him."
15Others said, "He is Elijah."
And still others claimed, "He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago."

16But when Herod heard this, he said, "John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!"

Mark 6:14-16
In a culture where people had a propensity for inventing miraculous claims, we must proceed with caution, especially when those individuals didn't have the benefits of modern knowledge.

I take the same stance to the apostles claims as I do to the claims of Joseph Smith et al. I assume that a miracle didn't actually take place unless there is good evidence (and it has to be very good) to think otherwise because miracles are statistically unlikely events by definition.

Meta:but to you "bad evdience" is evidence for miracles. period. any evdience for miracles is a priori bad evdience because there can't be miracles. So it's just circular reasoning driven by ideology. That's all you've got!

Quote:Meta (before)
sorry that is circular reasoning. that is not a counter to eye witness evdience. you are assuming that miracles can't happen

False. I said no such thing.
Meta:o come on, you did too! you say it ever time.

I have never said that miracles are impossible .. I have merely said that they are statistically unlikely events so that even where a miracle is claimed it is still more likely that it isn't an actual miracle.
Meta:that's just a ruse. It is a meaningless come back. for any time anyone says anything about miracle out it comes. defacto that is exactly what you are saying. so improbable they will never happen, just to cover yourself you don't say they can't just happen just that hey wont ever.

but there is no evidence you would ever get that you would admit is good. The Xray of the guy's lungs, didn't you say that it's no good unless I actually have the xrays with me?

you don't want to believer, don't worry you never have to

Quote:Meta (before)
accounts of miracles are proof that the account is wrong. But that assume incorrectly. miracles happen. so you are wrong. so you assumption wrong.

Did you miss the part where I said that a miracle was a statistically unlikely event as opposed to an impossibility?

Meta:nothing more than a meaningless way out of the circular reasoning argument. Youuse the probability to dismiss all miracles a priori on the grounds that they are so improbable that this can't be one, but then it's not circular because you left this technicality to get out of it.

But you will never accept even the theoretical possibility of a miracle claim

the proff is your attitude toward evidence above.

Its' just that and nothing more, an ideological assumption!

Which is something we all possess.
Meta:yes but we don't all use it to legitimate circular reasoning.

you can't use that to rule out miracles from an account such as the Gospels. Because the claim prmia faice is that it's an account of the divine so we should expect miracles.

Most, if not all miracle claims have a divine element.

Meta:so? what's the problem?

so what if they are? I'm not mistaken about how fixed up my life.I am not mistaken about how god put me back together after I lost everything. no way I can ever deny the experinces of God that I have had. I can't deny, forget or be mistaken about that.

When I was a Christian I had what I would call some very strong spiritual experiences that resulted in changes to my personality. Those changes (such as the fact that I stopped using vulgar language overnight) were at a deep level and convinced me of my faith for some time. Neither did I force those changes because I felt I had to ... it didn't come out of any sense of obligation.

Meta:I bet nothing invalidated it either. Perhaps that was a degree of change. But I don't know your life or your story. But I"m willing to bet your reasons for chucking it have to do with discovering the Provencal nature of the kind of faith you had and not really having an alternative becasue you were either warned against or didn't know about liberal theology.

am I warm?

In the end I had to face up to the obvious. Those events didn't appear to relate to anything going on outside of my mind and the fact that they had a positive impact did not in and of itself entail that they were real. Telling children that Santa exists has very positive effects on their behaviour and makes the whole experience of Christmas so much more exciting ... but he still doesn't exist!

Meta:that's a totally ridiculous assertion! First of all a positive impact is an indication that it's real and I think its absurd not to see that. In any other case you would say it is. it's the whole theory of trouble shooting.

you never hear "o it works it must be a lie." But the fact is that's exactly what religion is suppossed to do for you (only a milder version). So the fundie element really misled you in that they did not fully expalin what it was all aou were getting the goods.

Secondly, that is exactly what I said. you realized the Provencal nature of it and you just didn't know how to go forward.

nothing more than rationalizing doubt. you are merely gainsaying the evidence for ideological reasons and rationalizing your doubt.

In the same way that we rationalize those things that we believe as well. Are you saying that it is wrong to rationalize things?

Meta:I think you can figure out what's wrong with rationalization. I think you are sharp enough to have heard that term used in that way.

In the end it all just boils down to incredulity. They make the taunts and demand certain kinds of evidence and in the end they can't defend, don't really care, have other reasons for rejecting it and it just doesn't matter.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Why Atheists Have No ears

Apologetics is not for unbelievers. It's not exactly for convincing oneself either. But it is definitely not for atheists. Its' pointless trying to convince someone of something that is contrary to their paradigm. Paradigms control all. People cannot and are not capable of seeing into a different world. They live in the world they are in, the world of the paradigm. Paradigm shifts only when there are too many anomalies to be absorbed by the old paradigm. Until that happens there's no convincing someone his paradigm is wrong. Now you might think this means that means we should go about the task of trying pile up anomalies. The problem with that is atheists are able to absorb vast amounts of anomalies into their paradigm and they employ a verity of methods to do so. Kuhn says this is what happens, the ruling paradigm can adsorb a certain degree of anomalies and until you get so many that can't deal with them any more and the paradigm starts to shift, they are just all absorbed and don't' seem to matter.

Now i think little by little the paradigm is shifting, it will eventually turn over. It will probably never be non materialists or "spiritualist." But it is clear that the old paradigm has given way in several areas and ideas that would once have been considered totally loony are not part of the new paradigm. The problem is the new paradigm is packaged as a continuation of the old; in other words, the old materialist paradigm has now given way to the new physicalist. The difference being that under the old paradigm (materialist)only materiel things were possible. Reality was thought of as the "material" realm. Then it was realized that energy is another form of matter, so it's not mater itself and thus more than just mater is possible.So the new paradigm (phsyicalist) says that only what is physical is possible. Spirit still ruled out (except it can come in the back door in the form of energy) but it is recognized that there are two media for existence, rather than just the material there is also energy (which is another form of matter).

Meanwhile, there are many areas through which the evil idealism has seeped into the new paradigm: healing in medicine, the idea of mind over matter, realms beyond that of nature (which is what string membranes are) but they have to be packed as "physical." As long as it all part of "the physical" (which is idealist enough as it goes, then it can have a place. So ideas which never have been considered fifty years ago are now front and center. But the only proviso is we can't acknowledge it. We have to keep up the charade that idealism/spiritualism is beaten and materialism (in the form of physicalism which allows for energy) prevails. But in prevailing it makes room for other realms beyond that of nature (space/time) mind over matter, healing in medicine, archetypes, here's a complete list:

(1) Quantum Theory (no need for cause/effect)

(2) Big bang Cosmology (realm beyond the natrual)

(3) Medicine (healing)

(4) Consciousness (invites concept of dualism)

(6) Maslow's Archetypes (universal ideas)

(7) Miracles (empirical evidence)

(8) Near Death Experiences (scientific evidence)

(9) Esp Research (the fact that they do it)

(10) Validity of religious experince (Shrinks no longer assume pathology)

(11) Mind over matter (pleacebo effect).

For this reason I am willing to think that the paradigm will eventually shift. It probably wont ever allow for "supernatural," but it will contain supernatural like ideas masquerading as materialist/physicialist. We already see it now in the mind over matter of the placebo effect.

Nevertheless, despite this movement, the materialist/physicalist paradigm can absorb an almost infinite amount anomalous of behavior simply because "energy" covers a multitude of idealist propositions. Anything not material can always be sold as "energy." Pure idea can be sold as brain chemistry because it has to be transmitted that way. Thus Dawkins insists there cant' be a mind without a brain. But what's really being said there is that any form of ideal or idea or "mind" or anything not material can always be coopted as "energy" and thus it can never be anomalous under a physicalist paradigm. But there's another reason as well why it will take a long time for a big paradigm shift. There is no end of atheist incredulity. The physicalist paradigm lends itself to incredulity because we know it works. We don't know the range of its limitations because we can't produce evidence under the same paradigm of things beyond the paradigm, so of course we can exclude any hit of actual anomaly. Of course we can't expect evidence under the paradigm that would legitimate anomalies of that same paradigm, then they wouldn't be anomalies. The incredulity factor always allows one to put it in the magic pressure cooker and (whish wish) it's gone!

Here's an example of what I mean. Here's an example of a Saint making miracle from my miracles page. It's no longer found on the URL it once was, so the link doesn't work. But it was there:

Society for the Little Flower (Website) FAQ (visited 6/3/01)
St. Theresse of Lisieux

"Regarding St. Therese, in 1923 the Church approved of two spontaneous cures unexplained by medical treatment. Sister Louise of St. Germain was cured of the stomach ulcers she had between 1913 and 1916. The second cure involved Charles Anne, a 23 year old seminarian who was dying from advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. The night he thought he was dying, Charles prayed to Therese. Afterward, the examining doctor testified, "The destroyed and ravaged lungs had been replaced by new lungs, carrying out their normal functions and about to revive the entire organism. A slight emaciation persists, which will disappear within a few days under a regularly assimilated diet." These two miracles resulted in Therese becoming beatified."

The atheists on carm treated this with total incredulity. It has to be a lie. First they said I made it up. then I lined to the site and they could see it was their and howled with laughter. How stupid could I be? It's a religious site dedicated to that saint to of course it's a lie! I gave all the evidence on miracles pages about the rules of miracles in RCC and showed that they use medical evdience, there xrays of the lungs and so on. But they insisted this is not good because its not in a medical journal. So I emailed a member of the committee, a medical expert who does research for the medical committee, and he vouched for its authenticity. That's no good, he' on that committee so he's lying. I brought up the xrays, well I don't have the xrays so its' still lie. I would have to have the xrays in my hot little hand before it could actually be accepted. If i actually get the xrays from the Vatican, which were taken in the early part of the 20th century, (like that's a fair requirement that I some little guy in Texas, a prot, with no official connections could get these xrays), if I did have them don't you think they would still say its a lie? Xrays can be fabricated. So it's an anomaly and it will always be an anomaly because one may always doubt.

I recently had a discussion on my message boards about my mystical experince arguments (The Trace of God). I was as clear as anyone could be, and i worked several times to meet the evidential burden required by the atheist dialogue "partner." But this guy just played dense. He refused to get it. But I think a Chrsitain poster named
"Wordgazer" really summed it up best:

FWIW, I didn't have any trouble following or understanding Metacrock's reasoning, and I do think he addressed each of Marxiavelli's concerns.

What it looked like to me was that Marxiavelli was looking at things through his scientific materialist worldview, and was either unable or unwilling to shift to a different perspective. For example, he seemed to think Metacrock was using the religious experience argument to prove one particular set of religious beliefs, and because they didn't do this, Marxiavelli appeared to think that this trumped all rational warrant for a belief in anything non-material at all. But Metacrock was not arguing for Christianity; he was arguing for the interaction between humans and something Divine that was undefined.

What I was seeing was something that I myself have experienced-- the challenge by an atheist to prove theism, but only within the atheism box. Invitations to climb out of the box and look further, were apparently misunderstood as not answering the questions.

There were a few times that Metacrock got frustrated, but I really don't think he was being "extremely and unnecessarily agressive."

We live in different worlds. The world of the atheist is not the world of the theist and they don't want to see into my world. They want to reassure themselves that it's ok to deny my world is valid and to secure their own world. One can hide a lot of anomalies that way. As Wordgazer said it's really just a matter of who wants to see what. Of course they would impune my motives for wanting to see the validity of my world, but pat themselves on the back and rationalize their biases as "hard nosed critical thinking." Hard nosed critical thinking that does not want to see.

This is why the realizing God (existential phenomenological who ha) is really the only tenable approach. Until one is willing make a realization, or until one does make such a realization, the anomalies will always be absorbed into he paradigm. "Realizing God" is nothing more than a change in the ground, a shift in consciousness, a paradigm shift. The materialist paradigm is front end loaded with built-in incredulity as a defense mechanism against shifts.

But all of this really biols down to is good old fashioned sin. "5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:5). No amount of evdience will ever shit them and no amount of logic will ever read them.

Now this doesn't mean that I wont continue the friendships I've made. I have made freinds with some atheists, and some who are good people who I really like. I will continue those friendships and we can discuss anything. But I wont discuss God with them or God arguments. There's no point. The literal reading of the "great commission" (the Bible doesn't call it that) says "where ever you happen to be going, tell them the truth." I did tell them. They didn't want to get it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Existential Ontology part 2: Realizing

Paul Tillich

My approach deals with "realizing" the reality of God. This concept that we can just realize God is real implies two things: (1) that we can experince God's reality; (2) that we can understand God a priori. The atheist assert that I'm saying we don't need a reason to believe. Far from saying that, I am saying our reasons do not have to be derived from empirical data. They can be "realized" existentially and phenomenologically, that is experienced in the reality of God's presence and power. They can also be understood logically as a priori reasoning, as with the ontological argument.

Paul Tillich opposed arguing for the existence of God, he especially opposed the cosmological argument because This is because for him these arguments treated God like a thing that can be part of creation. But Tillich gives us an implied argument, an ontological argument in a statement he makes in a sermon called "The Shaking of the Foundations."

The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him. You cannot then call yourself an atheist or unbeliever. For you cannot think or say: Life has no depth! Life itself is shallow. Being itself is surface only. If you could say this in complete seriousness, you would be an atheist; but otherwise you are not."

--Paul Tillich, The Shaking of The Foundations

This is an implied ontological argument because it indicates that God is being itself and that this reality of God as being itself is given to us in the realization that being has depth. All we have to do is figure out what the hell he's talking about and we can know how to realize God's reality. There are two terms we need to know: (1) What does "being itself" mean? (2) what does it mean to say that "being has depth?"

There are three possibilities that I can find for the meaning of the phrase "being itself." This idea also goes hand in hand with the phrase "ground of being." Tillich alternated between the two, they are suppossed to mean the same things. Here are the three possible meanings:

(1) There is no "God" per se, that is just a metaphor for the idea that the fact of our being is special thing, and when realize how special it is to be we feel good and we think of that with the kind of gratitude we feel toward God, we look to being as a religiously minded person looks toward blessings of God.

(2) God is not one of many; there are no other things like God, thus God exists, or is, or has being at the level of being itself. God exists at the level of being itself, God is unique and thus can't be thought of an individual being because individual beings are singled as particular examples of herds.
From website no longer on file
visited 6/20/01.

"Existence - Existence refers to what is finite and fallen and cut of from its true being. Within the finite realm issues of conflict between, for example, autonomy (Greek: 'autos' - self, 'nomos' - law) and heteronomy (Greek: 'heteros' - other, 'nomos' - law) abound (there are also conflicts between the formal/emotional and static/dynamic). Resolution of these conflicts lies in the essential realm (the Ground of Meaning/the Ground of Being) which humans are cut off from yet also dependent upon ('In existence man is that finite being who is aware both of his belonging to and separation from the infinite' (Newport p.67f)). Therefore existence is estrangement."

"Although this looks like Tillich was an atheist such misunderstanding only arises due to a simplistic understanding of his use of the word existence. What Tillich is seeking to lead us to is an understanding of the 'God above God'. We have already seen earlier that the Ground of Being (God) must be separate from the finite realm (which is a mixture of being and non-being) and that God cannot be a being. God must be beyond the finite realm. Anything brought from essence into existence is always going to be corrupted by ambiguity and our own finitude. Thus statements about God must always be symbolic (except the statement 'God is the Ground of Being'). Although we may claim to know God (the Infinite) we cannot. The moment God is brought from essence into existence God is corrupted by finitude and our limited understanding. In this realm we can never fully grasp (or speak about) who God really is. The infinite cannot remain infinite in the finite realm. That this rings true can be seen when we realize there are a multitude of different understandings of God within the Christian faith alone. They cannot all be completely true so there must exist a 'pure' understanding of God (essence) that each of these are speaking about (or glimpsing aspects of)...."

"... However in many cases his theology has been misunderstood and misapplied and this most notably with his statement that God is beyond existence (mistakenly taken to mean that God does not exist). Tillich presents a radically transcendent view of God which in fairness he attempts to balance with an immanent understanding of God as the Ground of Being (and the Ground of Meaning) but fails to do so. In the end, as we cannot speak of the God above God we cannot know if any of our religious language has any meaning and whether ultimately the God above God really exists. Certainly, according to his 'system', we cannot test Tillich's 'God hypothesis'. However an interesting dialogue may be had between Christian humanists who posit that God is bound within language and does not exist beyond it (e.g. Don Cupitt) and Tillich who posits that our understanding of God is bound within language yet presumes (but cannot verify) that God exists beyond it."(Grenz/Olson p.124)

(3) God is the ground; that is the basis, the origin, the creator,the fountain head of all being (of all that is). Thus to be is to be a creature of God. The putative state of all being is to be God himself. Thus God is being in the sense of the orgin the basis and the eternalness of all being.

I rule out the first sense, but at times it does seem that Tilich is saying that. However, there are otehr statements he makes that leads me to think it's not what he meant. I think what we can take away form that idea is that God is not the conventional notion of a big man on a throne up in the sky. The basic reality of God is that God blows away our conventional understandings. God blows away all the pre conceived categories we can have about "him." God is mystery and is transcendent of our understanding.

As for the second and third statements these flow out of the basic understanding of the concept of divine, the creator of all things, eternal, not created, necessary and not contingent. But that doesn't tell us that God is real. We are still asserting a concept. But the statement Tillich makes directly implies that there is a way to know this concept is real by some fundamental realization about the nature of Being. I stated realizing God is really a realization about our own being. When we realize the reality of God we are realizing that we are creatures of God. That means that part of what realizing that being has depth entails is realizing our creatureliness and our dependence upon something that in some way way can be thought of as "God."

What does it mean to say that being has depth? It's all right there in the quote itself:

The name of infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of our being is God. That depth is what the word God means. And if that word has not much meaning for you, translate it, and speak of the depths of your life, of the source of your being, of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. Perhaps, in order to do so, you must forget everything traditional that you have learned about God, perhaps even that word itself. For if you know that God means depth, you know much about Him.

The name of God is Infinite and inexhaustible ground of our being. That's the first thing he says. Then he says translate the word God and speak of the depths of your life. So depth is related to God and to our own lives. Then he reinforces that by saying "of the source of our being." So what we have so far is that God means infinite and inexhaustible ground of our being, and that is connected to the source of our being. Thus we can infer that depth of being is this inexhaustible ground, and when we get his this we realize that God it is God. But there's something more, after he says its connected to the depths of life (being has depth and it's the depth of life) he says of your ultimate concern, of what you take seriously without any reservation. What's he talking about?

He's talking about his concept of the ultimate concern. This is the key to Tillich's apologetic. God is the source of our ultimate concern. The thing we absolutely bottom line most care about; the fact that we die. We will die and that's certain. The alternative to this is the source of life. So we have juxtaposed the infinite inexhaustible ground and source of being (ground = source) and so the depth that being has is this infinite and inexhaustible ability to ground individual beings and constantly foment more being. This, the source of our being,is our ultimate concern because we want to live. The contrast between our on finitude and God's depth in inexhaustible eternalness creates the basis of the sense of the numinous. When we comprehend the this we sense the ultimate concerns we sense the numinous this is the basis of religious experince and the basis of religion itself.

We can gain this understanding through a phenomenological apprehension of our own being. Because it evokes the numinous it is a valid object of our worship; we have religion a priori. Thus to make this realization of the connection between the infinity of being and the sense of the numinous is to realize the reality of God in the object of our ultimate concerns.

This may not sound very orthodox, but it is extremely orthodox.God is not just a big man on a throne, he is not the Zeu Patter(Jupiter,"Sky Father") of Pagan mythology. The great theologians of Christian faith, the Orthodox Church, and theologians such as Paul Tillich and John Mcquarrie, believe, as Timothy Ware (The Orthodox Church , New York: Pelican, 1963) quoting St. John of Damascus says, "God does not belong to the class of 'existing' things; not that he has no existence but that he is above existing things, even above existence itself..." The Jewish Virtual Library tells us, "The name of god, which in Hebrew is spelled YHWH, is difficult to explain. Scholars generally believe that it derives from the Semitic word, "to be," and so means something like, 'he causes to be.'"

Here is the argument as I make it on my God argument list:


(1)Nothingness as PSA is marked by its own contradiction,

A.True absolute nothingness and PSA are contradictions because nothingness means nothing at all, and PSA is something.

B.True nothingness would lack any essential potential for change; no time, no ptoentiality, noting at all; therefore, no change, no becoming.

Therefore: (2)Being, in some form, as the alterntive to nothingness must obtain to a state of aseity.

(3)Aseity implies eternal and the infinite.

(4)Human being is contrasted by finitude.

(5)The awareness of our finitude in contrast to Aseity of Being creates a sense of the unbounded condition; which evokes our sense of the numinous.

(6) The sense of the numious creates religious devotion, thus we have an object of religious devotion and theological discourse in Being itself.

(7) An object of religious devotion and theological discourse is a ratinal warrent for belief.

If you find this hard to take or understand, here's a simpler version:

(1) Sense of the Numinous evokes religious devotion

(2) The sense of the numinous is the sense of the special nature of being

(3) Thus being itself, the ground of being, is the object of religious devotion

(4) whatever is the fit object of religious devotion (the thing that evokes it at the core in the first place) is defined as "God."

(5) since we know this special sense of being existing then QED God exists.


this is not an attempt at modal logic. It's a desscription of the basic phenomenolgoical apprehension of depth in Being and how it unfolds into the object of religious devotion.

People confuses what God is with the most sticking or most frequently used images. That doesn't mean God is those images, it just means the images is used to point to the reality beyond the image. One example, God is not a big father-king in the sky. But the image of the father king was important to people in the ancient world, they understand certain things about that image,s o they used it a lot. So we today have inherited the notion that God has to be a big father-kind in the sky. No that is not the case.

God is not a big man, God is reality, God is the basis of how we understand and feel about what it means to be. God is the foundation of our take on the spacial nature of not failing to exist.

The nature of religion, the reason it exists in the first place, the core origin of what religion is about is prompted by these kinds of feelings, the sense of the numinous. The result of this this feeling is the evocation of religious devotion. That means the object of these feelings, the thing that evokes them is God! I mean by that not that I think God is evoking these feelings, and then you can go on imagining a big guy in the sky evoking them. I mean the thing that reallky evokes them, whatever it is, is actually God. that is the nature of our religious instincts.

It's the fulfillment of our religious impulse. It means the thing that evokes the sense of the numinous must be the object of our religious devotion, the term we use to describe that is "God."

Now we can speculate about the nature of that thing that evokes this sense. It could be connected to the origin of the Bible and the object of Biblical revelation or not. It could be object of Hindu revelation, or both, or neither. that's for the individual believer to decide.

1)Nothingness as PSA is marked by its own contradiction,

A.True absolute nothingness and PSA are contradictions because nothingness means nothing at all, and PSA is something.
B.True nothingness would lack any essential potential for change; no time, no ptoentiality, noting at all; therefore, no change, no becoming.


(2)Being, in some form, as the alternative to nothingness must obtain to a state of aseity.

Some form of being must always be. I use the term "being" rather than "existence" because "existence" refers to the particular fact of existence of a contingent object.Being in abstract terms (which is not to say that is a mere abstraction) is not contingent, cannot be contingent upon anything, because if it was that thing upon which it is contingent would have to be outside of the nature of being.

so here I'm not considering being as some kind of platonic form, but as whatever example of being happens to exist. If all that exists in all reality is a toco shell, then being itself is a taco shell. But whatever that x is, it is must have a reality and an aseity beyond that of any particular contingent thing, as this requires the eternal nature of some form of being apart from any events which might condition it.

This is not as mystical as it sounds, but it is beyond our knowledge. It doesn't matter if this is the universe or a singularity or whatever. It is still logically the case that Being in some form must always be. It is this eternal nature of being that contrasts with our own finite creaurliness and creates the sense of the numinous.

(3)Aseity implies eternal and the infinite.

The self sufficient nature of being requires that being always be, which contrasts with our finitude and gives us a sense of the unbounded condition.

(4)Human being is contrasted by finitude.

We know we will die, we know all things die. We are stuck by the contrast and can sense the greater unity in the life world of all things upon some larger scheme. That gives us a sense of the Holy. We have thus come into contact with a sense of the nature of the numinous. This creates our sense of ultimate concerns, we become aware of the greater questions like why am I here? And How should I live?

(5)The awareness of our infinitude in contrast to Aseity of Being creates a sense of the unbounded condition; which evokes our sense of the numinous.

Unbounded condition is the sense of the open nature of reality, the limitless infinite expanse of whatever that great unkown is. It's like the thing all art works seem to be getting at, but no one can say.

(6) The sense of the numinous creates religious devotion, thus we have an object of religious devotion and theological discourse in Being itself.

It doesn't have to be "the God of the Bible." It doesn't have to be a big daddy man in the sky who will tell you what to do (which I think all agthesits are afraid of). But any object of religious devotion which is connected that sense of the unbounded condition is a proper object of religious devotion; it evokes our ultimate concerns.

Since we have a proper object of religious devotion, we can religious beliefs. Connection with the ultimate concerns creates transformation and resolves the human problematic. This is what religion is all about, this is the core of the nature of religion itself. since it is an object of theological discourse, we can talk about it, we can talk about talking about it, we can start a tradition, we can have religion. This is a ratinonal thing to do since it relates to our ultimate concerns.

(7) An object of religious devotion and theological discourse is a rational warrant for belief.

ie "God." This means that once we discover the depth in being, this process of uncovering the unbounded condition, we have a rational reason to believe in God. We can sense the relation of the reality of God to our own lives, our existential nature, and our understanding of what our being in the world.

This does not have to be "the God of the Bible," but it can be and it really is. It is because we are told that it is. In two places or more the Bible identifies God with this unlimited and aseic notion of Being itself; Exodus 3:18 "I am that I am" (translation from LXX might read "I am being itself") Acts 17 "in him we live and move and have our being."

This could be the God of the Bible. Of course I would suggest that those who say that and those who fear it don't know what the God of the bible is. They are confusing the God of the Bible with the father image which is portrayed in the Bible, but they also exclude the many mother images, and the other stamens that clearly disassociate God from being like a man ("our God is a consuming fire"--no one knows the mind of God"--"my ways are not your ways" that sort of thing). I suggest that the God of the bible ties us into something much deeper that is much more universal to all human apprehensions of the divine and of the numinous; the atmon, the zeit guest, the over soul, transcendental signifier, it's all there in the Bible if you just know where to look and what to look for.

Being itself: just an abstraction in the mind?

Of course atheists will say "this is just an idea in the mind. It's no different than 'yellowness' which does not exist. this is just an abstraction of being so it doesn't exist."

This is a totally wrong headed notion.Clearly what I'm talking about exists, because it is nothing more than the actuality of being of that which must exist eternally since we cannot start from nothingness. .It isn't the being of any particular being, it is not contingent being, but is being in itself and for itself as it is manifested eternally apart from nothingness.It has to exist or we do not exist, because it is present and manifest in us!

Take one example given against this argument already, on message boards, "yellowness." Yewllowness doesn't exist, it is only an abstraction based upon the color we see when we look at yellow colored things. We can abstract this color by itself, so the "ness" part is just in our minds (so to speak). But while that is true, it is also true that there is a color we call yellow upon which we base this abstraction.

The essence of this argument does not depend upon "God" being a big man on a throne. It doesn't depend upon God being an entity or even "personal." We know yellow because we see it. We don't know this X, this unknown form of Being which must exist eternally (and could be many things, they could all be naturalistic) but it has to be; since we cannot start from nothingness, something must always have been.

Whatever that something is, it's aseity as something which has to be conditions our religious sensibilities and kickes off, so to speak, our sense of the numinous. Now I don't believe that its a quantum particle or that it isn't consciousness or something of that nature. Of course I do believe that, and that can be understood in that way through other arguments connected to it. But whether it is or not, it is at least the ground of our understanding of meaning, reality, reality, devotion, transformative experiences which resolve the human problematic, and that gives us the object of ultimate concerns and religious devotion; it makes religion a viable option because it does what it sets out to do, it resolves the human problematic.

It doesn't have to be an argument. All it has to be be is a real actual realization and you live. That is exactly what it can be. Not not big a mystery, just pray and go sit under the stars.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Other Atheists

I have again allowed my sense of hurt to overcome better judgment. I allowed the wounds inflicted by know nothings to cause me to gernalize against all atheists. I want to talk about the "other atheists," the one's who represent the rational end of their community.

There is a guy named Fleetmouse, he's very bright I've known him on CARM for years. I once Googled "Metacock" just to see what was out there. I found him on Meatfilter taking on a dozen other atheists in defending my cosmological argument as 'pretty good and better than most." He continued to argue agisnt my God arguments, but in a way I have no problem with: giving them the respect they deserve as serous well thought out argumets with which he disagrees. Fleet a fine person, he's very thoughtful and intellegent.

"you Wish" who posts on Doxa (my forums) as "Quantum Troll." At first I thought he was one of those Dawkamentalist creeps who knew nothing and just wanted to ridicule. Somehow he got over on my boards and in that atmosphere where trolls are not tolerated and we do not have pissing contests, he turned out to be one of the most intelligent people I know, and a totally nice guy. He's from Sweden, and he has a strong background in science, and he's willing to consider my arguments without mockery.

La Canuck posts on Doxa but I met him on CARM. He is like a dog with a bone. He wont let go of an argument. At first I found his tenassity infuriating because I thought he was just being picky. Then I began to realize he is tenacious and willing to discuss an argument all the way. I realized that's what I wanted from message board debate. He also turned out to be a very nice person and not a mocker, not filled with animocity.

Mike Welsh. He's one of the nicest people I know. I know the post I did yesterday wounded him. I know he feels bad because of my sweeping generalizations. I feel bad about it too. He's a great friend, he called me on election night to tell me his state went for Obama. He has been a claiming influence and has gotten me to aim above the pettiness of it all. I wish I had thought about him before I made that post.

This is the nature of the kind of game the Dawkamentalists are playing. When you trade in mockery and ridicule there's no end of hurt you cause all kinds of people. I should be more wise.I should be more moderate with my balcklash. But they need to try consider what they are doing. They are not doing good for anyone.

A Dawkie on a message board told me "I don't give any religious person any kind of respect." So you get no respect from me. Once you start that ball rolling it's not gonna stop. That's what happened to the middle east. It's a very foolish game.I'm not going to play it any more. I am just not going to even try to dialogue with anyone who is not amiable.

I am truly for that I offended some good freinds with that post.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Atheists on CARM show their cowardice

Someone has warned me that a group of carm atheist are plotting to band together tomorrow and imitate what they, in their little pea brains, this is my style of argument. These "people" are inhuman little bests, coward who cannot face thought and have no concept of rule of law or decency. they live to hurt Christians, they thrive on feeling superior my mocking others. they are cowards cannot face arguemnt directly. They are not capable of thinking. They have undertaken to shame and humiliate people who believe things they do not understand. They mock everything good and decent and are not capable of understanding what is good. Their hearts are evil and they seek their own little sense of supiriority by hurting others.

who in the hell can't see the bankruptcy of atheism?

they are so outraged by things above them that can't understand or touch. They are nothing more than the Vandals who sacked Rome and the destoryed the art works to see if the ducks set in mosaic were real.

Here's a cople of examples of how stupid they are. There's one named Zharevic. he's probably the stupidest person I've ever met. He's so stupid that the thought laws of physics are totally prescriptive and when I suggested they were not (no one really thinks they are anymore) he said I was "scum."

He argued that empirical knowledge is the only kind of knowledge. Someone asked him where's the empirical data proving that empirical knowledge is the only valid knowledge. He said well logic justifies empiricism but nothing else. After that all knowledge is empirical.

The problem is the little cowards were too fucking stupid to see that this is special pleading. If anything is special pleading--saying "this rule normally works but not in the case of my argument--then its it. that's just what it is. they are too stupid and too unfair to even admit that. Then when I say God is not controlled by the laws of physics they say that's special pleading. I say no it' not is' a different category. God is not in the same category as things in nature. So they don't recognize special pleading when it pertains to suspending a rule to justify your point of view. But they try to apply to all cases of uncrossing categories.

Obviously what it comes down to is: "Christian bad, atheist gooooooooood. christian evil Christ bad me hate Christians." Vermin. little stinking piece of shit vermin.

Another example of how stupid this Zharevic is. He says that Nothing can exist unless its empirical. When confronted with ideas atheists want to exist, like the multiverse, yet are unobservable he says "if we could observe them we would see that they are empirical, therefore, they are empirical." O that's brilliant. How that for special pleading? He's going to suspend his rigid rules when hey step on the toes of atheist arguments. Brilliant.

These are the guys who are going mock my style of argument. I figure for those who moments when hey do that they will at least be closer to using logic then they usually are.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Making Progress On my New Apporach: Existential Ontology


I am testing these ideas. I'm developing this approach as I go along, thinking out loud.I don't expect anyone take it as a full blown system. It's being born before your eyes. I have made some progress in finding a name. I think "realizing God" is misleading. The name I have found is something atheists will jump all over because they really hate big words. Using big words make them feel inferior becasue they can't look them up. I have to admit I think a lot of theological jargon is off putting. The original version of this approach was "REalizing Godfollowed logically enough by More on realizing GodFollowed by the most recent On My Realizing God Approach

John MacQuarrie refers to Tillich's God as being itself thing as "existential Ontology or existential phenomenological Ontology. That's a mouth full.It sounds too Ponderous, sure to be off putting. What it means: existential refers to the non systematic dealing with one's own existence or some fact of the nature of existence from a first person perspective. Phenomenology int is case basically means a description of the characteristics one finds first hand, but probably since Tillich is involved some sort Heideggerian version of phenomenology might be implied. Ontology is the study of being. It's a discipline in philosophy. Thus we are dealing with a first hand account of the nature of being as we experince it in our own lives. Since I don't want such a gummed up name, I think I'll call it:

An existential approach to the existence of God. Or perhaps "existential ontology."

The purpose of taking a new approach is because I've come to realize the inadequacy of God arguments. Not that they don't demonstrate a rational basis for belief, and so much because atheists don't understand and don't listen to them (although that is certainly true) but: (1) they really reflect the true reasons for belief;(2) they usually turn on a paradigm that will eventually shift leaving the argument unless (perhaps the paradigm shift that will come to big bang cosmology will deal a crushing blow to versions of the cos argument that are too dependent upon BB cosmology. When first of unveiled my approach on carm a few weeks ago it was met with unbelievable hostility. I figure it must have sacred the hell out of them because they certainly reacted to it as a major threat. Yet one of the few thoughtful ones on the board said "he's found a way to side step the usual question begging and unprovable dogmatic assertions that usually go with arguing about God."

Both reactions tell me it's worth to keep trying. Both becasue the animosity level was at a fevered pitch, they were clearly afraid of the potential. The statement one of the more thoughtful thoughtful made clearly indicates that it side steps a lot of the unnecessary banter. But then it's also been greeted with a lot of doubt and an overall sense that it has it's just a lot of confusion. The major reason is because people treat it as though I've said "we don't need reasons to believe things, just beileve it for the goodness of belief itself." Of course I said nothing even slightly resembling that. The original point was to just deliver a death blow, one elegant death blow to the taunting pissing contest that is awaiting Christians when atheists on the boards use the little taunting statement "there's no proof for your God." I want to be able to just say: there is no need to prove. I can say that, Schleiermacher gives us that. But I want the full weight of Western thought to come crashing down upon them, not they they will what hit them.

Let's start with one piece at a time. The basic overview of the existential ontology is that there is no direct scientific proof of God of the sort atheists demand (ie direct empirical scientific data, or forensic evidence, fingerprints, mug shots ect) simply because God is transcendent of sense data and transcendent of human understanding. Thus it is not an important matter that there is no empirical evidence. There need not be. In fact Tillich believed that proofs for the existence of God were an affront to the glory and dignity of God. O but this is just blasphemy int he atheist anti-church. Its' heresy! the atheist demands that we believe that the only only valid form of knowledge is empirical scientific data, thus any attempt to side step this is just the same as saying that one believes in the supernatural! we can have that! Why if we go saying things like that atheists wont listen to us. They might even be a bit testy on message boards.

Of course they interpret this to mean "we can just beileve things because we like them and we don't need reasons." It would never occur to them that personal enlightenment could be a valid reason. That is a good analogy because it's exactly what i'm saying. I am saying this:

Belief in God is much like the enlightenment that Buddhists talk about in that it is a private and personal revelatory sense of the reality and truth content of God. It's literally realizing that god is real!

How does one offer this as proof? One does not. it need not be offered as proof. why would one need proof if one knew for a fact? Well of course there's always the idea of convincing others, but since the are closed to enlightenment themselves and refuse to seek God there's not much point in offering a proof they only intend to argue with and never take seriously. Now one criticism might be that I'm just writing atheists off. Just the ones who don't want truth. The more difficult question is how does one go about having this sort of "realization?" There's the problem haven't the slightest idea. I don't even know how I had it. I know Go didn't it for me, it's something I'm sure God allowed or worked about in my life. But I don't know how. I know the experinces I had ut I have no idea how to tell others to have them. Yet I don't feel this is a real draw back. Because I think the process of search is self validating. To seek is to find. If somone is interested enough to actually listen then one is half way there already. Of coruse there are things one can do to bring mystical experince. Go smoke some mushrooms and paly classical music. I don't recomend that. But it will more than liley bring on a mystical experince. If not the police and if not psychologicla problems (it is very possible to have a "bad experince" on psilocybin).

There are devotional and meditational techniques one can use. But none of this is the point. I don't say just go have a mystical experince and then you are saved. Knowing is a relationship that has to be cultivated over time and it requries a committment. You can't just expect a quick fix (no pun) from some momentary experince, although the studies show that those who have such experinces are very likely to have transformed lives (as high as 80% for some studies). But I"m really not trying to seel experinces. The main brunt of my appraoch is to expalin certain ideas and conepts that focus one's attention on the reasons why one might believe and in so doing to promote a realization of the God reality. I don't mean here a full blown "mystical" experince, but just a small realization that God is real.

This is what I have called "focal points." Focal points are what used to be "God arguments" in my old scheme only now they are not intended to prove anything they are just a way to get oriented, the get the ball rolling so that thorugh seeking one might have a realization of the reality of God. There can be as many of these as there are people to have them, certainly as many as there ae God arguments. But certain one's strike me as more outstanding then others. These are:

Tillich's Ground of Being

Transcendental signifier

The Religious a priori Which could be the whole approach in itself

I'll go over a couple of these and other points of interest in the weeks to come.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Atheism Vanishes

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Merriam-Websetr's Online dictionary

Main Entry:
athe·ism Listen to the pronunciation of atheism
Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god

1archaic : ungodliness , wickedness2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity

Atheists sure insist upon the notion that atheism is just a natural lack of belief in something, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Almost every dictionary definition before the 1990s said that Atheism was the rejection of belief in God.

Now most include two things (1) rejection (2) mere lack. Why? Because with he advent of the Internet age atheism got a new lease on life and was given this organizing tool, it began crowding out agnosticism. Agnosticism began to appear in the guise of "weak atheism." Then atheism became a mere lack of belief that sees itself as a natural default position. Atheists love to think that all people are born natural atheists, which is obviously disprove by the recent studies about brain structure and innate ideas of God.

Atheism has never been merely a lack of belief. If you were honest about what you really think, your behavior and tendencies, it always accompanies certain assumptions about the nature of the world, about naturalism and about physical laws.Atheism is clearly more than just the lack of a belief, which really should be called "agnosticism."

Among the many assumptions that go into atheist position is the one about a default assumption. Atheists like to tell themselves that since atheism is merely a lack of belief, babies are born with no belief, thus babies are born atheists. They like to say that because they are so overwhelmed by the general population that's the only way they can feel good about their numbers. Seriously, that's a joke, but really it is indicative of the notion of a "default" assumption. They think that since atheism is merely lack of belief then there must be a default, a position one falls back upon in the abases of proof, and that position is, of course, atheism since lack of proof should logically yield lack of belief--i.e. "atheism" in their view.

Of course the default assumption is undermined by the evidence on "God Pod" and other evidence which makes it clear that there is a religious instinct.

I've always thought the atheist default position was pretentious and presumptive, and designed by someone who just lionized atheism. But there should be a religious default position to the extent that there's no particular reason to assume naturalism over any other position. The world doesn't come to us wrapped in philosophical labels. We have to go to school and teach them, and most of the time they play on our prejudices. There's no reason to validate one over another form the outset.

But my religious a prior argument would argue that religion is not derivative from other disciplines but is a valid thing in itself own right. As such we can assume the properly basic nature of religious belief as a 'default" position

1) The notion of something from nothing violates basic assumptions of materialism

a. Materialism based upon cause and effect

Dictionary of Philosophy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism"

"...The belief that everything that exists is ether 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) Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?

"...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 offense to this basic assumption. Thus some philosophers of science have opposed the very idea of the Big Bang as irrational and intestable."

b) Something from nothing contradicts materialism

Science and The Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead
NY: free Press, 1925, (1953) p. 76

"We are content with superficial orderings form diverse arbitrary starting points ... science which is employed in their development [modern thought] is based upon a philosophy which asserts that physical cessation is supreme, and which disjoints the physical cause from the final end. It is not popular to dwell upon the absolute contradiction here involved."[Whitehead was an atheist]

c) Causality was the basis upon which God was expelled from Modern Science

It was LaPlase's famous line "I have no need of that Hypothesis" [meaning God] Which turned the scientific world form believing (along with Newton and assuming that order in nature proved design) to unbelief on the principle that we don't' need God to explain the universe because we have independent naturalistic cause and effete. [Numbers, God and Nature]

2) Materialism Undermines Itself

a) Big Bang contradicts causality (see quotation above)

b) QM theory seems to contradict cause/effect relationship.

c) Rejection of final cause

3) Probabilistic Justification for assumption of Cause

We still have a huge justification for assuming causes inductively, since nothing in our experience is ever uncased. The mere fact that we can't see or find a cause isn't a proof that there isn't one.

4) Therefore, we have probabilistic justification for assuming Final cause

Thus, the basis upon which God was dismissed from scientific thought has been abandoned; the door to consideration of God is open again. The reliance upon naturalistic cause and effect in consideration of ultimate origins is shattered, but this does not make it rational to just assume that the universe pooped into existence with no cause. Since we have vast precedent for assuming cause and effect, we should continue to do so. But since naturalistic cause and effect seems unnecessary at the cosmic level, we should consider the probability of an ultimate necessary final cause.

I've been attacked by atheists saying that this position betrays modern science. But it is modern atheism that betrays modern science, because this position flows right out of a historically conscious take on materialism. The problem is atheist ear OT historically conscious. They have already abandoned the basic philosophical premises which took them into the modern world and which seemed to give them an edge over Christianity and religious thought, and most of them don't seem to care. Like my argument on "Materialism vanishes" I think modern atheism vanishes.
We don't have atheists anymore. What we relay have is a bunch of people with a default assumption for not having a belief.