Saturday, January 31, 2009

Logic of Co-determinate and Atheist Deniel

The "co-determinate" is a term used in connection with Schleiermacher's notion of the feeling of utter dependence. Roy Williams in his great book Schleiermacher The Theologian, uses this term, which I think is an antiquated term for "correlate." The concept here being that we can't demonstrate God's existence directly because God is not given in sense data. We can point to and discuss the feeling of utter dependence (which is actually a form of mystical experince) of which Schleiermacher spoke. In in this context Williams states that God is the co-determinate of the feeling. What he is saying is that God correlates with the feeling of utter dependence, which in content is actually a feeling of ontologically contingency, or dependence upon God ontologically speaking. This is really a simple concept. It is not wonder, then, that atheists have had a great deal of trouble understanding it. I say that because they always try to approach it as some big hairy radical deal that's a fallacy in an do of itself. I expect the skeptic to question the argument, but to actually question it in a way that implies that there's some big logical problem with correlations is quite amazing. That they try to twist the argument totally out of proportion is just, as Dylan said, "sleepy time down south."

Before going into specifics let me draw a couple of analogies. First the idea of smoking as a cause of cancer. In 1963 (or so) the Surgeon General made the ruling that smoking might be the cause of cancer and thus a warning was printed in cigarette packs. That ruling was made not because they had direct scientific proof. In fact when the tobacco companies responded that science could not find a mechanism in tobacco smoke that causes cancer, they were right about that. They remained right about it until this century. For almost a quarter of a century the whole campaign and war against smoking rested totally upon statistical correlation. I used this fact to indicate that science takes correlational proof seriously as proof. It's not illogical to assume that if a correlation is tight enough causality is a logical inference. The atheist response has been "but the link has been proved." Now that is true, but only within this decade, and quite recently. That is typical. The fact that the link was proved and a mechanism found over 25 years latter doesn't in the least blunt the fact that for a quarter of a century science was willing to assume that is a fact based upon statistical correlation. This is all common knowledge. I remember when the Surgeon General made the announcement, even though I was a small child. I remember when cigarette adds were banned. A multi million dollar industry, probably a billion dollar industry was destroyed and taken down all on the basis of statistical correlation.

Anyone with half a brain should be able to conclude that science respects a good correlation; we may treat correlations as causality if (and only if) the correlation is tight enough. Another analogy, is that of the neutrino. Before I go into that let me point out that I am not arguing from analogy. I understand that the similarity to cases in these analogies is not proof of the existence of God. I am not saying that. The function of an analogy is to illustrate an idea, that exactly what I'm about here, nothing more. My argument does not proceed from arguing from analogy. But the fact is atheists treat the correlation of God to religious experinces as though there is no implication of God's reality in the experiences because, they think, there is no proof of causality in a correlation. But I am here illustrating the fact that their beloved priesthood of knowledge, the scientist, is willing to assume a strong correlation as rational warrant for a causal relationship.

The second example is that of the neutrino.

DONUT homeFermi National Acceleration Laboratory*:


Neutrinos didn't emerge onto the particle physics scene until 1930, when Wolfgang Pauli invented the neutrino to "save" conservation of energy, which was under threat from observations of beta decay in radioactive materials. Scientists such as Henri Bequerel and Marie and Pierre Curie performed the first studies into radiation starting in 1898. In the years that followed radiation was classified into 3 categories: alpha, beta and gamma. In studying beta radiation, scientists discovered a disturbing phenomenon. It seemed that when a nucleus underwent beta decay, which consisted of the emission by a neutron of an electron to create a proton, conservation of energy was violated. There was a missing amount of energy that could not be accounted for by their measurements or calculations. In 1930 Pauli made his hypothesis....

It was not until 1933 that Pauli admitted the possibility of a zero mass neutrino (the discovery of the neutron in 1932 by James Chadwick forced him to change the hypothesized particle's name to neutrino). Today we know that neutrinos have some unknown mass and that they move close to the speed of light. The first detection of neutrinos occurred in 1956 by Clyde Cowan and Fredrick Reines who found a convenient source of neutrinos--nuclear power plants. Power is created in nuclear plants when atoms undergo nuclear fission, a process of which the neutrino is a byproduct. Cowan and Reines employed a 400-L tank of cadmium chloride as their target. The neutrinos struck a proton inside the target, producing a positron and a neutron. That positron encountered an electron; the two annihilated each other, producing two gamma rays (or photons). The neutron was absorbed by a cadmium chloride atom, producing a photon at a 15-microsecond delay from the emission from the positron. Using this knowledge of the photon emission, Cowan and Reines were able to detect the electron neutrino.

Leon Lederman, Mel Schwartz, and Jack Steinberger followed with the detection of the muon neutrino in 1962. They fired a GeV beam of protons through a target creating pions, which decayed into muons and muon neutrinos. Thick shielding halted the muons but the neutrinos continued until they entered a detector where they produced muons, decaying into electrons and a photon that were observed in the spark chambers.

Pauli descibes his reasoning in asserting an unproven hypotheis (the nutrino)

I have hit upon a desperate remedy to save the "exchange theorem" of statistics and the law of conservation of energy. Namely, the possibility that there could exist in the nuclei electrically neutral particles, that I wish to call neutrons, which have spin 1/2 and obey the exclusion principle and which further differ from light quanta in that they do not travel with the velocity of light. The mass of the neutrons should be of the same order of magnitude as the electron mass and in any event not larger than 0.01 proton masses. The continuous beta spectrum would then become understandable by the assumption that in beta decay a neutron is emitted in addition to the electron such that the sum of the energies of the neutron and the electron is constant...

Now I'm sure atheists are saying "that's just the way science works. State a hypothesis and test it." Of course it is, and that's fine. But the problem is that's pretty much what has been done in regard to mystical experince. Religious believers have been a mot more definite about their hypothesis than Pauli was about his, but it's the same thing really, and with very similar results. The only real difference is the scientist can eventually get "absolute" proof (in a scientific sense) when the question is a an empirical one, but we can't get this kind of certainty of God. Nevertheless, we can be as certain, thanks to the M scale, as physicists were of Neutrinos at the time that Mel Schwartz, and Jack Steinberger did their works. Of course I'm not advocating understanding religious belief as scientific hypothesis, but the basic logic of the co-determinate is the same. One can clearly see that the logic of the co-determinate of which is speak is not a fallacy, formal or informal, it si not the same saying "I believe it so that proves it." It is not a radical move that I invented. It's the normal way correlations have been used to assume causality since modern science began. It's the use of the term "co-determinate" that gives atheist the idea that this is some new brand of logic I invented. If I called it "the correlate" they would probably not say that, and that's all it is. In that case they would turn around and say "correlations are not proof of causality." No, they are not, but on the hand I did not claim to prove it. I only claimed that it's reasonable to draw a conclusion from the assocaition!

Here's an even more interesting twist: Since the work in 1962 science assumed that Nutrinos were proved, but they didn't have direct proof until much latter:

Fermi lab: Phyiscs at Fermilab

Discoveries at Femrilab: The Tau nutrition

An international collaboration of scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced on July 21, 2000 the first direct evidence for the subatomic particle called the tau neutrino, the third kind of neutrino known to particle physicists. They reported four instances of a neutrino interacting with an atomic nucleus to produce a charged particle called a tau lepton, the signature of a tau neutrino.

The "detection" of muon was in 1962 and yet it says the first direct evdience of the subatomic particles called tau neutrinos wasn't until 2000. I know these are different particles that are coming out of a different stage in the process. But the fact remains,t he original hypothesis was merely an attempt to explain the actions of certain particles in a certain context, theory was manufactured to fit the apparent case. The theory was latter born out with empirical proof.

Much the same thing has happened with respect to the scientific study of religious experience. First people has such experinces for thousands of years. They developed an explanation for them (God, the divine, the supernatural). With that explication there evolved a complicated economics of metaphor that emerged as a means of understanding that which is beyond understanding. Then after all that fuss the hypothesis is partially corroborated with empirical scientific techniques (such as the M scale). What has been corroborated is that the process works as we would expect it to in living up the exceptions derived form our teachings on the divine. Real experinces that are truly effecting the brain, produce real measurable concrete change in life and a valuable way of life that revolutionizes the lives of those having these experinces, and dramatic and positive way. Thus the scientific findings corroborate that the experiences conform to what the divine is suppossed to do. But we should be surprised since that understanding is derived from the experinces themselves, but now that process is proved valid through science.

While atheists reading this are trowing things at the screen and shouting "It doesn't prove the origin of it!" Remember, I never claimed "proof!" But why is it not reasonable to assume that the origin is the divine, since it conforms to our ideas of what it suppossed to be? After all that is literally exactly what the supernatural actually was in its original conception. Thus it is a reasonable construel. I never said it was "proof" (except in the practical sense, close enough to proof to place confidence in the hypothesis). In response to this some atheists have lunched an old familiar tactic from message boards, ridicule of a hypothesis by use of reduction to absurdity. So they will say there's a high correlation between global warming and pirates, therefore, global warming causes piracy. This is suppossed to prove the fallacy and stupidity of asserting a "co-determinate." Reductio Ad Absurdum is not necessarily the the best advised course for an argument. It is totally fallacious to think that just becasue one can construct a false assocaition based upon absurdities doesn't mean a logically valid assocaition is illogical. The logic of the argument within the argument is what must determine weather or not an association is logical. This relates back to the soundness of an argument. All they are saying at this point is "that's not sound," but their only reason for thinking so is that they don't like the conclusion I'm drawing. They cannot tell me why the argument is unsound without jacking my claims to the level of proof. But I don't claim proof.

Here's how the exchange recently went on my message boards, discussin the argument with several atheist friend's whose imput I value highly: Qunatum Troll, Fleet Mouse and La Canuck, this is La Canuck.

Re: argument from sign

Post by Metacrock on Wed Jan 28, 2009 7:21 pm

LACanuck wrote:

Metacrock wrote:that feeling and its association is the reason why we have religion, that's the basis for belief that's been around for 65,000 years. Its' always been taken so, it's the basis of what we talk about religion at all. it's the underlying bottom reason for belief.

there's absolutely not reason to construe it as God given its history and associations.

La Canuck:Do you have a citation for the 65,000 year claim? More out of interest than anything nefarious. :)

Metacrock:yes, several. but i have to get into my book file to see it. QT could probably get up faster. He has copies my ms.**

(note: here I will give some sources below)**

La CanuckBut having a sense of something bigger than we are causing us to feel warm and fuzzy can be explained using evolutionary arguments.

Metacrock: no so far

La Canuck: And the conversion of 'something bigger' to religion and god is not a challenging path to walk either. So making a claim that the 'something bigger' has no other reasonable explanation that the existance of god does not stand up to detailed examination.

Metacrock: No that's fares. All you are doing is applying standard reductionism to lose the phenomena. O this is important to me, so I'll just pretend it's not there and then make the argument based upon reducing what really happens to soemthing I want to deal with. That's the basis of the strategy you are using.

that's one of the things that makes me so angry. the dishonest nature of atheism, you can't accept that other people have their own experiences. you are trying to control what other people feel and to expalin it away so that what is important to them becomes just bull shit only what's important to you can remain as "fact."

I get more and more angry ever time I think about it.

Metacrock wrote:It has always been sufficient since long before the bible. it's the basis of why religion exists. its' is the supernatural. this is litterateur what the supernatural originally was.

the correlation is 350 studies. it's as strong as smoking and cancer.

La Canuck: How many of the 350 studies consider the possibility that a high concentration of seratonin receptors is strongly correlated to a high score on the M-scale? I've asked this question in the past and haven't seen an answer. Unless the studies do account for this, the conclusions of the studies are put into question.

Metacrock: serotonin argument is crap. I know you are proud because it's your baby, but I have disprove it several times. you did not answer any of the 5 tie breakers I argued. you totally sloughed the very concept without answering any of them.

Griphiths who did the study you first first sited, is a friend of Hood's. He accept mystical experince, he is not one of these reductionists who reduces everything to chemicals. Hood reacts to that argument with a yawn. No offense.

On the one hand I do admire your brightness for spotting that. It may not be a bad argument it may be something to follow up. But it hardly some big deal breaker. no not in any way. you have to at least comment on the tie breakers before I will even consider it has having deal breaking potential.

La Canuck: So no, the correlation is not nearly as strong as smoking and cancer.

Metacrock:you don't know what a correlation is then. Because that has nothing to do with disproving the causality. The correlation is as tight because it's there. you want to interject an unproved counter causality that's nothing unique and is taken out by my previous responses other arguments about chemical determinism.

(addendum:I also want to point out--this was not part of that post--why does it have to be as strong as cancer and smoking to be a valid hypothesis in which to place confidence? The correlation of smoking and cancer is extremely tight).

but no! you have the magic bean. you have the big deal atheist excuse not to believe just like with all God argument, any possibility however remote and ridiculous becomes an iron clad disproof because it is remotely possible!

The cigarettes in the rat studies had cork in the tabaco, so I could make the American Spirit argument and say the corrolation on smoking and cancer is gone. Because it' could be that natural tabaco doesn't cause cancer.

Metacrock continues:It' the notion that we cant' make a logical construable whereas you make them all the time. the discussion you had on evolution the other day, here in the other thread, thats' all you did was construe. but when you guys do it it's science and that's ok.

when we do it its some little made up fallacy like "reason for belief" "fallacy of believing in something."

La Canuck:Actually, the problem I've always had is that you move from one correlation (thinking of god = warm and fuzzy) to another (thinking of god = god exists) as if they were one and the same. As I said, there are other explanations for the first correlation besides the conclusion that you draw.

Metacrock: this is another thing that makes me angry. you are a smart guy, but in God argument you just throw that away and say a lot things that are just not smart. like this. I have never said. I said it's a rational construe. get it?

rational construe that means it's rational to construe that way. I did not say it proves it i said it's rational to construe that way. now may times/

The source used on the fermilab website:
*An international collaboration of scientists at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced on July 21, 2000 the first direct evidence for the subatomic particle called the tau neutrino, the third kind of neutrino known to particle physicists. They reported four instances of a neutrino interacting with an atomic nucleus to* produce a charged particle called a tau lepton, the signature of a tau neutrino.

**sources on religious experience among neanderthals scroll toward bottom of that page. More and better sources will be in my book.

fifty years with the cult site at Rosaring

British Archaeology: When Burial begins. The issue with burial is that sites such as that of Shandadar show early burial with medicinal herbs and mushrooms. Where there are mushrooms among ancient man (or prehistorical pre homo spieans) we can be sure there was mystical experience. The healing powers of mushroom are not that obvious. they have always been used for the effects of the sylosycibin. These are gestures toward the afterlife, and belief in afterlife marks religious experince.

Gods of pre historic man

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Wages of One Dimensinoalism


This is another piece not original, not by me, but in this case posted on my boards by Tiny Thinker, and quoting a columnists from a Catholic magazine. I think it's really good and the article is worth reading.

by tinythinker on Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:44 pm
Excerpt from "Beads, bells and belief" by columnist Jamie L. Manson of the New Catholic Reporter.I think it speaks to Christianity as a whole even though it is directed toward Roman Catholicism...

Jamie L. Manson
Column title:
Young Voices
Publication date:
January 15, 2009

The church faces a particular challenge with young adults. Many of us are unchurched, because our parents chose not to raise us in the church of their childhood. But for those of us who were raised in the tradition, we grew up in a church that did not have the formative power that it has had throughout history. We were not forced, through fear and guilt, into believing that beads, statues, prayers and rituals held the power to decide the states of our souls and our fates in the afterlife. Yet, this lack of formation also presents a real opportunity for the church. My generation would be the first to willing choose church, to choose to live in an intentional Christian community out of a genuine desire.

What church authorities still refuse to recognize is that they cannot rely on the medieval tactics of spiritual coercion and shame to bring us into the pews. Instead, young adults have to be met where they are, to be engaged in a dialogue about the larger questions of their lives. We have to be addressed as mature, thinking adults, because we simply do not feel compelled to go to church in the way that previous generations do.

The symbols of the church do not speak to my generation the way it speaks to the generations that preceded us. Rosaries, statues of Mary and images of the saints, are subject to much ridicule, and crosses have become more recognizable as a fashion statement than as a reminder of the living, bleeding God who was killed in an effort in reach out to us. But perhaps this is more a result of church's unwillingness to risk breathing new, creative life into these sacramentals. What really is the difference between grasping at rosaries versus Buddhist prayer beads? Aren't both of these actions, at their heart, the movements of vulnerable human beings seeking some sense of peace, some discipline of prayer, some tangible feeling of comfort amid so much of life's chaos, sadness and uncertainty?

The Christian mystical tradition and the Catholic notion of sacrament could offer so much to quell the longings of young adults. But, sadly, the only identification that they make with Christianity today is with biblical fundamentalism and a strange caricature of Jesus. They identify Catholicism with moralistic repression, and a group of disconnected men who are uninterested in listening to the experiences or questions of the laity, most especially its female, LGBT, and divorced members...

The people in my generation have been abandoned during a time unprecedented spiritual hunger, having grown up in a period when the rate of divorce skyrocketed, the effects of technology separated us from family and neighbors, and a frenetic busyness took control of our day to day activities. The young people who seek out spiritual materials like those sold at East West are already participating in sacramental life and are not even aware of it. They are reaching out to the tangible things of nature in a poignant struggle to find grace. How much fuller would our experience be if the church ceased to focus strictly on the ways in which we ought to order our existence, and instead guided us in finding the innumerable ways in which God breaks through to us in our ordinary lives.

I agree, basically, with this statement from Mason's article. The problem is it's only from a Catholic perspective. I say "only" meaning it doesn't take into account the role Protestant fundamentalism and Evangelicalism has played in this process. Perhaps this Catholic author feels that it would not serve the interests of Christianity to lay the blame on the Protestants, but I think a good portion of it lies there. A long time ago I came to the realization that there was a reality which the Reagan era should have taught us, but so few were interested. That reality is this: trying to turn back the clock speeds it up. Reagan tired to turn back the clock in returning us to a former time of more simple minded conservationism, a fictional golden age that never really existed. While the Reaganites were trying to force everyone back into the right wing mold, the problems of modernity ran on head and those who had no connection with the past just ignored it.

In a broader track of time the nation has been separated from its heritage in Western thought. This was always true, there never was a time in America when people were taught to understand the Western tradition or see themselves as part of it. Americans were taught only to think in practical terms. We don't care why some want to build the bridge, we think only about how to build it. We have always spawned a level of literacy (I don't mean dysfunctional readers, but lack of any real connection with the world of books).

The New atheism and the hatred of God and of church that we see in young people, especially on the internet, is merely the result of this one-dimensional nature of American life. Life in this country has always been reduced to consuming and producing. Now we are reaping the consequences. Europe has been made cynical by the two world wars fought on its soil, and we have the cultural connections to continue the tradition; thus the tradition of Western thought is over. We are in the end game of civilization, playing nursery school to the new age of barbarism.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Society Needs God

What follows is an article that is no longer on the net except at my site where I copied it. The former address is listed below. The original was up in 2001. This is a summary of several studies that show the essential nature of religion to social well being.

Cities on a Hill News Letter Spring 1999

This pubication may no longer be found on that URL. References to it can still be found Here

(adobie Acrobat Reader)

Social Scientists Agree: Religious Belief Reduces Crime Summary of the First Panel DiscussionPanelists for this important discussion included social scientists Dr. John DiIulio, professor of politics and urban affairs at Princeton University; David Larson, M.D., President of the National Institute for Healthcare Research; Dr. Byron Johnson, Director of the Center for Crime and Justice Policy at Vanderbilt University; and Gary Walker, President of Public/Private Ventures.* The panel focused on new research, confirming the positive effects that religiosity has on turning around the lives of youth at risk. From left to right: Midge Decter, John DiIulio, David Larson, Byron Johnson and Gary Walker.

Dr. Larson laid the foundation for the discussion by summarizing the findings of 400 studies on juvenile delinquency, conducted during the past two decades.* He believes that although more research is needed, we can say without a doubt that religion makes a positive contribution.* His conclusion: “The better we study religion, the more we find it makes a difference.”Previewing his own impressive research, Dr. Johnson agreed.* He has concluded that church attendance reduces delinquency among boys even when controlling for a number of other factors including age, family structure, family size, and welfare status.* His findings held equally valid for young men of all races and ethnicities. Gary Walker has spent 25 years designing, developing and evaluating many of the nation’s largest public and philanthropic initiatives for at-risk youth.* His experience tells him that faith-based programs are vitally important for two reasons.* First, government programs seldom have any lasting positive effect.* While the government might be able to design programs that occupy time, these programs, in the long-term, rarely succeed in bringing about the behaviorial changes needed to turn kids away from crime.Second, faith-based programs are rooted in building strong adult-youth relationships; and less concerned with training, schooling, and providing services, which don’t have the same direct impact on individual behavior.* Successful mentoring, Walker added, requires a real commitment from the adults involved – and a willingess to be blunt.* The message of effective mentors is simple.* “You need to change your life, I’m here to help you do it, or you need to be put away, away from the community.”* Government, and even secular philanthropic programs, can’t impart this kind of straight talk.Walker is working on a pilot project with Dr. DiIulio and Rev. Eugene Rivers to implement a faith-based mentoring system in 10 cities around the country.* But the project faces some daunting challenges, as Mr. Walker sees it.* Can faith-based mentoring, which usually works on a small-scale, informal basis, be successfully bureaucratized, even by private organizations?* And can faith-based mentoring overcome resistance from government and philanthropic funders in order to grow and thrive?

People smart in different ways


Attending services is the most significant factor in predicting charitable giving. Robert Wunthnow, Acts of Compassion, Princeton University Press, 1991.
[] Attending services is the most significant factor in predicting volunteer activity. Ibid.

* [] Sixth through twelfth graders who attend religious services once a month or more are half as likely to engage in at-risk behaviors such as substance abuse, sexual excess, truancy, vandalism, drunk driving and other trouble with police. Search Institute, "The Faith Factor," Source, Vol. 3, Feb. 1992, p.1.

* [] Churchgoers are more likely to aid their neighbors in need than are non-attendees. George Barna, What Americans Believe, Regal Books, 1991, p. 226.

* [] Three out of four Americans say that religious practice has strengthened family relationships. George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century," The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.

* [] Church attendance lessens the probabilities of homicide and incarceration. Nadia M. Parson and James K. Mikawa: "Incarceration of African-American Men Raised in Black Christian Churches." The Journal of Psychology, Vol. 125, 1990, pp.163-173.

* [] Religious practice lowers the rate of suicide. Joubert, Charles E., "Religious Nonaffiliation in Relation to Suicide, Murder, Rape and Illegitimacy," Psychological Reports 75:1 part 1 (1994): 10 Jon W. Hoelter: "Religiosity, Fear of Death and Suicide Acceptibility." Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, Vol. 9, 1979, pp.163-172.

*The presence of active churches, synagogues, or mosques reduces violent crime in neighborhoods. John J. Dilulio, Jr., "Building Spiritual Capital: How Religious Congregations Cut Crime and Enhance Community Well-Being," RIAL Update, Spring 1996.

* [] People with religious faith are less likely to be school drop-outs, single parents, divorced, drug or alcohol abusers. Ronald J. Sider and Heidi Roland, "Correcting the Welfare Tragedy," The Center for Public Justice, 1994.

* [] Church involvement is the single most important factor in enabling inner-city black males to escape the destructive cycle of the ghetto. Richard B. Freeman and Harry J. Holzer, eds., The Black Youth Employment Crisis, University of Chicago Press, 1986, p.354.

* [] Attending services at a church or other house of worship once a month or more makes a person more than twice as likely to stay married than a person who attends once a year or less. David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, "Is Divorce Hazardous to Your Health?" Physician, June 1990. Improving Personal Well-Being

[] Most happy people are also religious people.

96% of people who say they are generally happy agree that "My religious faith is the most important influence in my life." George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century?", The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.

[] Most people who find their work exciting and fulfilling are religious people.

<65% of people who say their occupation is exciting and fulfilling say that they find "comfort and support from my religious beliefs." Ibid.

[] Most people who are excited about the future are religious people.

>80% of those who say they are "excited about the future" agree that they find "comfort and support from my religious beliefs." Ibid.

[] Most people who feel close to their families are religious people.

94% of people who "feel very close" to their families agree that "my religious faith is the most important influence in my life." Ibid.

[] Eight in ten Americans say religious beliefs help them respect themselves. Ibid.

[] More than eight in ten say that their religious beliefs lead them to respect people of other religions. Ibid.

*Improving Health

[] Regular church attendance lessens the possibility of cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, emphysema and arteriosclerosis. George W. Comstock amd Kay B. Patridge:* "Church attendance and health."* Journal of Chronic Disease, Vol. 25, 1972, pp. 665-672.

*[] Regular church attendance significantly reduces the probablility of high blood pressure.* David B. Larson, H. G. Koenig, B. H. Kaplan, R. S. Greenberg, E. Logue and H. A. Tyroler:* " The Impact of religion on men's blood pressure."* Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 28, 1989, pp.265-278.* W.T. Maramot:* "Diet, Hypertension and Stroke." in* M. R. Turner (ed.) Nutrition and Health, Alan R. Liss, New York, 1982, p. 243.

*[] People who attend services at least once a week are much less likely to have high blood levels of interlukin-6, an immune system protein associated with many age-related diseases.* Harold Koenig and Harvey Cohen, The International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, October 1997.

*[] Regular practice of religion lessens depression and enhances self esteem. *Peter L. Bensen and Barnard P. Spilka:* "God-Image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control" in H. N. Maloney (ed.) Current Perspectives in the Psychology of Religion, Eedermans, Grand Rapids, 1977, pp. 209-224.* Carl Jung: "Psychotherapies on the Clergy" in Collected Works Vol. 2, 1969, pp.327-347.

*[] About half of religious people "have a lot of stress" in their lives, but only half of these "often get depressed." George Gallup, Jr. "Religion in America: Will the Vitality of Churches Be the Surprise of the Next Century?" The Public Perspective, The Roper Center, Oct./Nov. 1995.

*[] Church attendance is a primary factor in preventing substance abuse and repairing damage caused by substance abuse.* Edward M. Adalf and Reginald G. Smart:* "Drug Use and Religious Affiliation, Feelings and Behavior." * British Journal of Addiction, Vol. 80, 1985, pp.163-171.* Jerald G. Bachman, Lloyd D. Johnson, and Patrick M. O'Malley:* "Explaining* the Recent Decline in Cocaine Use Among Young Adults:* Further Evidence That Perceived Risks and Disapproval Lead to Reduced Drug Use."* Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 31,* 1990, pp. 173-184.* Deborah Hasin, Jean Endicott, * and Collins Lewis:* "Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Patients With Affective Syndromes."* Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 26, 1985, pp. 283-295. * The findings of this NIMH-supported study were repilcated in the Bachmen et. al. study above.

* This data is reprinted from RIAL Update which is edited by Robert B. Lennick and published twice a year by Religion In American Life.* Reprinting of any material in this copyright publication requires written permission from the editor.

W.K. Kay and L.J. Francis Drift from the Churches: attitudes towards Christianity during childhood and adolescence, Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1996, pp x + 266Key words: attitudes - Christianity - children - adolescents - empiricalMedium: authored bookSummary:

How and why do some young people become religious?* Are religious people happier than others?* Do church schools help pupils to develop a positive attitude toward Christianity?* What part does personal religious experience play in shaping religious attitudes?*

Twenty-five years of empirical psychological and sociological research on young people in relation to Christianity is presented here in a set of interrelated studies which show how attitude toward Christianity in young people is linked with schooling, cognitive development, masculinity and femininity, church attendance, religious experience, science, well-being, mental health and the Eysenckian model of personality.

Friday, January 23, 2009

On Atheistwatch:Zuckerman 4

It's pretty obvious that Zuckerman argues that the society absent of religion is a better society (more progressive, better educated, more socially conscious concerning its needy) than are societies in which people are religious. We can knit pick over weather he used the phrase "atheist nation" or not, but the fact of the matter is the subtitle of his books is "what the least religious states tell us about contentment." (see his new book Society Without God: What the least religous states can tell us about contentment. That makes it pretty what he is arguing. But my argument, my major argument is basically that this is clearly wrong since none of the states he talks about God the way they are by being without God. Most of them had and still have strong religious populations, the European states emerge out of a context of Christianized society. Many people feel that Sweden is the least religious state. This is actually false, the part of the German republic that was the East German side has the most hard core atheists. That is according to the study on Religious Demand that I link to in part 2. Nevertheless,Sweden is a good test case. Let us examine the situation with Sweden.

Atheist Watch The new installment of my Zuckerman critique.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

See Atheistwatch for my answer to Lee Randolph's lattest

Randolph is part of that DC crowd. he's the one who recently had that gimmickie approach to the Bible apply computer data business approaches to understanding a 4000 year old texst. He came back against an Evangelical so I've answered that article on Atheistwatch

part 3 of Zuckerman on Atheist Watch: Religion in Japan

On Atheistwatch I have put up part 3 of the criticisms of Zuckerman: He argues that Japan is an "atheist" nation. I demonstrate the folly of his idea.

To complement that post I present a discussion I had an atheist at one point, as a compliment to the post on the other blog


Andy Wright makes comments in response to "More on Extraordinary claims," I will answer his comments here because they are typical of certain atheist misconceptions that I have been trying to correct since I started on internet apologetics boards. The average atheist on the net seems to believe that religion is for feeble minded dullards who can't think, that's its effects are clearly proven to be very bad for both the individual and society, and that belief is receding into he mists of history. Not only are these ideas totally wrong, but they are the exact opposite of truth. Not only so, but that these things are totally false is clearly demonstrably provable with the best scientific evidence. Religion is actually very good for you, religious people are much better adjusted, by and large, than most atheists. Religious people are happier, they are less likely to commit crimes, if you except fundamentalists their marriages are better.

Wright was reacting to my statement that religion is normative for human experince, and the point of saying that was to show that belief is not an extraordinary claim. So let us keep that in mind, because most of Wrights arguments lose sight of this poin.

Andy Wright:

you say "religious belief is normative for human behavior. It is not merely "normal" but "normative" meaning it sets the standard. Belief is basic to human psyche, to our understanding of the good, of meaning in life, the ultimate limits of reality, the grounding of nature and being itself,"
this is not true. there have been and continue to be successful human societies where religion is not part of the society, where simply not knowing was acceptable.

This is clearly disproved by history. There has never been a single non religious society anyone where on earth. There have only been a handful of attempts to make societies that were non religious, and in not only did those cases fail, but they were the imposition of an ideology by an elite who imposed its will upon the masses.There has never been a single organic culture where the masses were just naturally not religious. Even in the Soviet union and china, where the only attempts to destroy the faith of the masses was imposed, it failed miserably. At the height of the cultural revolution in China when the government was the most anti-religious, the people were still 51% religious and Christianity made up a huge portion.

Wright again:

you seem to define religion as belief in a single higher power, yet among the societies that have religion, there have been as many societies that beleived in multiple spirits in a range from every single thing having a spirit to there being many extra powerful beings that you would call gods.

This is my true definition of religion, I've given it hundreds of times on message board all over the net and it is on my website in my credo where I clearly go over the all the beliefs I hold. I got this definition from Dr. Neil McFarlane in his lecture notes in his class on "religion in a Global perspective" at Perkins School of Theology (SMU). I think it was influenced by Dr Fredrick Strung ("string").

My definition of religion:

In my view Religion is an attept to identify a human problemic, that is the basic problematic nature at the heart of being human. Having identified it, reilgious traditions seek to resolve the problematic nature of human life by offering a transformative experince which allows one to transcend the difficulty and to be fulfilled or feel more human or be "saved." Religious traditions also usually seek to mediate this transformation through cerimony or some sort of theological orientation. These three things make up the nature of religion:

(a) identification of the problematic

(b) Transformative power to overcome the nature of the problematic

(c) a means of mediating this transformative power.

All religions offer these things, weather the problematic be seen as separation from nature, or imbalance with cosmic forces, re-birth through desire which leads to suffering, or moral sin in rebellion against God.

Transformations come in all sorts of packages too, they can be the big experince of born again Christianity (mediated through the "sinners prayer") or they can be the mystical experince, mediated through the mass, or enlightenment, mediated through mediation, mandala, mantra and other mediation aids, or what have you.

The reason for identifying with a particular religious tradition is because one feels that this particular tradition identifies the problematic better than others, and offers mediation in a more sure or certain or compelte way. One must go with the tradition with which one feels the strongest connection.

For me that is the Christian Tradition, primarily because I feel that the historical connection to Jesus of Nazareth, and the unique concept of Grace mark the Christian tradition as the best mediation of the Ultimate Transformative Experience. But more on that latter.

So your statement is quite false. I do not limit by view of religion to belief in a single "powerful being." In fact that view of what I believe is so far off, you clearly know nothing about my views. Obviously you are merely reacting to the label "Christian" and have not bothered to find out that Christianity is very diverse. I do not believe that God is a single powerful being! I do not believe that God is "A being." I believe that God is "being itself." That means God is the basis of what being is, the foundation of all being, not a being, but the basic ground of all being. I further believe that differing religions and concepts of God and gods are merely sign posts that point to this foundation of being. The are metaphors and analogies that point to something beyond themselves, something beyond our ability to understand. I have written many pages on this on my website. The major such pages can be found here: The Ground of Being

Wright goes on:

the range and differences among them are so great as to make lumping them all under 'religion' is almost ridiculous.

That is indicative misunderstanding the nature of religion is. Religion is so much bigger, better, and more important than you are willing to accept, or even than you suspect.

there have been many societies around the world where a human was thought of as the current incarnation of god. this differs so much from Christianity as to again, be almost impossible to be considered the same thing.

That's a misconception. It doesn't really matter, it's a meaningless point anyway, because I'm sure I know much more about world religion than you do. Remember the class I mention, above, "religion in a global perspective?" Neil McFarland who taught that class lived in Japan for 30 years. He was the leading expert on the New Religions of Japan (his book was Rush House of the Gods--I love that title!). He was very sympathetic to Eastern religions and he studied them with major Shinto and Buddhists priests in Japan. That class focussed on religions of Asia, especially Japan. There are not other societies or religions which have exactly the same understanding of deity as Christianity. There are none where a human being was thought of as God in the way that Christian theology came to regard Christ after the second century or so. But to say that these religions can't be regarded as the same thing is just poppy cock. They all fit with the definition given above and they all fit with the concept of mystical union which I have clearly espoused for years.


and in all of those societies, there were a wide range of level of belief in the locally accepted 'religion'. some were vigorous hyper believers and most belived some of it but had doubts about a little of it and some believed very little or none at all of it. societies varied a great deal in how much they tolerated the non-beleivers, from none at all to total tolerance, and still, even when there was no tolerance, there were non-beleivers who kept silent about it. your claim that religion is 'normative' lacks anthropological basis for societies and is lacking even more when applied to individuals.

Notice that you don't give a single example. Prior to the eighteenth century true atheists who really believed there was no God at all of any kind were very rare, and mostly they were uneducated. They had no scientific basis for their claims, merely anger toward religious people and institutions.No actually your misconceptions lack anthropological backing. I am quoting anthropologists. I'm quoting major social scientists such as Abraham Maslow who did studies on the nature of religious experience and found that its one of the greatest things or people. Maslow's book was Peak Experience and there is a copy online. A vast body of social sciences data shows that religion is far better for you than unbelief.


Atheists today have all that stuff you claim belief is basic to and they have it without . . . guess what . . . belief in any god or religion. you might not want to admit there are well adjusted atheists making positive contributions to the world, and i am not sure why you are so intolerant of atheism or why it threatens you so, but you claim about belief being essential to a person or a society is . . . bogus.

Saying that religion is normative is not at all the same as saying that there are no well adjusted atheists. That's not the issue at all. In fact the data does show that believers are much better "adjusted" and less mental illness and less depression than unbelievers.

again from my website:

Religioius belief indicative of good mental health

a)Religous Pepole are More Self Actualized

Dr. Michale Nielson,Ph.D. Psychology and religion.


"What makes someone psychologically healthy? This was the question that guided Maslow's work. He saw too much emphasis in psychology on negative behavior and thought, and wanted to supplant it with a psychology of mental health. To this end, he developed a hierarchy of needs, ranging from lower level physiological needs, through love and belonging, to self- actualization. Self-actualized people are those who have reached their potential for self-development. Maslow claimed that mystics are more likely to be self-actualized than are other people. Mystics also are more likely to have had "peak experiences," experiences in which the person feels a sense of ecstasy and oneness with the universe. Although his hierarchy of needs sounds appealing, researchers have had difficulty finding support for his theory."



In terms of psychological correlates, well-being and happiness has been associated with mystical experiences,(Mathes, Zevon, Roter, Joerger, 1982; Hay & Morisy, 1978; Greeley, 1975; Alexander, Boyer, & Alexander, 1987) as well as self-actualization (Hood, 1977; Alexander, 1992). Regarding the latter, the developer of self-actualization believed that even one spontaneous peak or transcendental experience could promote self-actualization. Correlational research has supported this relationship. In a recent statistical meta-analysis of causal designs with Transcendental Meditation (TM) controlling for length of treatment and strength of study design, it was found that: TM enhances self-actualization on standard inventories significantly more than recent clinically devised relaxation/meditation procedures not explicitly directed toward transcendence [mystical experience] (p. 1; Alexander, 1992)

b) Christian Repentence Promotes Healthy Mindedness

william James
Gilford lectures


"Within the Christian body, for which repentance of sins has from the beginning been the critical religious act, healthy-mindedness has always come forward with its milder interpretation. Repentance according to such healthy-minded Christians means getting away from the sin, not groaning and writhing over its commission. The Catholic practice of confession and absolution is in one of its aspects little more than a systematic method of keeping healthy-mindedness on top. By it a man's accounts with evil are periodically squared and audited, so that he may start the clean page with no old debts inscribed. Any Catholicwill tell us how clean and fresh and free he feels after the purging operation. Martin Luther by no means belonged to the healthy-minded type in the radical sense in which we have discussed it, and be repudiated priestly absolution for sin. Yet in this matter of repentance he had some very healthy-minded ideas, due in the main to the largeness of his conception of God. -..."

e. Recent Empirical Studies Prove Religious Believers have less depression, mental illness lower Divorce rate, ect.

J. Gartner, D.B. Allen, 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. 3090


"The Reviews identified 10 areas of clinical staus in whihc research has demonstrated benefits of religious commitment: (1) Depression, (2) Suicide, (3) Delinquency, (4) Mortality, (5) Alchohol use (6) Drug use, (7) Well-being, (8) Divorce and martital satisfaction, (9) Physical Health Status, and (10) Mental health outcome studies....The authors underscored the need for additional longitudinal studies featuring health outcomes. Although there were few, such studies tended to show mental health benefit. Similarly, in the case of teh few longevity or mortality outcome studies, the benefit was in favor of those who attended least 70% of the time, increased religious commitment was associated with improved coping and protection from problems."

[The authors conducted a literature search of over 2000 publications to glean the current state of empirical study data in areas of Spirituality and health]

This part is very important becasue it speaks diretly to what you said about atheists being well adjusted.

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


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."

I know you are going to get angry about that because people usually do. but this is a scientific fact. It comes from many studies that compare those who have reilgious experiences to those who do not. They find constantly that those who are are better ad musted, less depression and mental illness. It's not just anyone says "I am a Christian" but those who have religious experinces.

b. psychotherapeutic discipline re-evalutes Frued's criticism of religion



"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. Atenção e interpretação (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


"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)


"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.


"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predicter 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 combindation of religious items, including prayer, religionship with God, and other measures of religious experince to begin to adequately clearlify the associations of religious committment 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.

Nielsen again:

In the days before research boards reviewed research proposals before the studies were conducted, Pahnke devised an experiment to induce people to have a religious experience. On a Good Friday, when they were to meditate in a chapel for 2.5 hours, twenty theology students were given either psilocybin or a placebo. The students who were given the psilocybin reported intense religious experiences, as you might imagine. Their levels of happiness also were significantly greater than the control group reported. But what is especially interesting is that these effects remained 6 months after the experiment, as the psilocybin group reported more "persistent and positive changes" in their attitudes to life than did the placebo group.

Pahnke, W. H. (1966). Drugs and mysticism. International Journal of Parapsychology, 8, 295-314.

Now finally let's not forget the context of the original issue. I was showing that belief in God cannot be an "extraordinary claim" because it's normative for human experince. That means it sets the standard. I have proven that it does. This has nothing to do with proving that it's true, it is merely a matter of proving that it is standard for human experince. The vast majority of all humans who have ever lived have believed in some form of God, we are fit to be religious, it's better for our minds and our bodies. We were religious 65,000 years ago, our distant ancestors, our cousins the Neanderthals, were religious. Humanity has been religious longer than it has been human! Obviously then it is normative. IT doesn't matter that there are few exceptions, that's not the point. It doesn't make you a bad person, to not be religious. Nor does it make you abnormal or somehow lacking. But is the standard human experience to be religious. that is simply a fact.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Part 2 of critique on Zuckerman is on Atheistwatch

tomorrow part 3. this second part is a lot better than part one. Part 2 has a study that demonstrates Northern Europe is not as "atheist" and people think. Part 3 shows that Japan is a very religious nation and not an atheist nation.

see Atheistwatch

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Assertoins about Joesphu's TF and some facts about the Text

Major arguments against accepting the TF.

A.The Link to Eusebius.

Eusebius was the earlist commentator to quote the TF. That introduces the Skeptic to many problems with Eusebius. These problems include the allegation (although false) that Eusebius said that pious fraud is acceptable, and that he invented much of his historical evidence such as the Bishop's lists. This in itself is proof enough for most skeptics who reject the TF that Eusebius made it up.Since the eariliest quotation of it comes from Eusebius, some skeptics make an argument from sign and contend that this is proof enough that he invented the TF.

B.The Christian Phrasing.

The passage is peppered with statments and phrases that are obviously Christian. The use of the phrase "on the third day" to describe the resurrection is practically a signature that says "by a christian." The Phrases such as "if it be lawful to call him a man, for the he was the Messiah," are clear evidence of Christian tampering.This phrasing seems to have some similarity with Luke, thus leading to a major argument that the forger barrowed his phrasology from the Gospel of Luke.

See bottom of page one for proof that this paraell with Luke is actually strong evidence against forgery, not for it.

C.The suppossedly awkward position of passage.

Critics claim that the passage seems to be a digression into the life of Christ and doesn't flow from the larger context of the work.


A.On Eusebuis' Credibility.

1)Other MS testify to credibility.

It is crucial to note that we have other readings that have the same core information about Jesus but lack the same emminadations, because this proves that Eusbius didn't make up the core information about Jesus. It also proves that previous readings existed which lacked the emmindations but which did not lack the mention of Jesus. That builds the probability that Jospehus really did mention Jesus. That probality is very high.

In other words, since we know of other Ms with different emmendations, we know that there is no real reason to pretend that Eusebius made up the passage. The passage was known in Eusebius' form:
J.B. Lightfoot, Eusebius of Caesarea, (article. pp.308-348), Dictionary of Christian Biography: Literature, Sects and Doctrines, ed. by William Smith and Henry Wace, Volume II (EABA-HERMOCRATES). This excerpt pp.324-5.

This treatment may be regarded as too great a sacrifice to edification. It may discredit his conception of history; but it leaves no imputation on his honesty. Nor again can the special charges against his honour as a narrator be sustained. There is no ground whatever for the surmise that Eusebius forged or interpolated the passage from Josephus relating to our Lord quoted in H. E. i 11, though Heinichen (iii. p. 623 sq., Melet. ii.) is disposed to entertain the charge. Inasmuch as this passage is contained in all our extant MSS, and there is sufficient evidence that other interpolations (though not this) were introduced into the text of Josephus long before his time (see Orig. c. Cels. i. 47, Delarue’s note), no suspicion can justly. attach to Eusebius himself. Another interpolation in the Jewish historian, which he quotes elsewhere (ii. 23), was certainly known to Origen (l. c.). Doubtless also the omission of the owl in the account of Herod Agrippa’s death (H. E. ii. 10) was already in some texts of Josephus (Ant. xix. 8, 2).

Lightfoot was, of course, one of the true greats of chruch historiography and Biblical scholarship.

Steve Mason discusses the two references to Jesus in Josephus' writings in his book "Josephus and the New Testament":

alternate versions (Agapius, Pseudo-Hegesipus, Michael the Syrian):

"Finally, the existence of alternative versions of the testimonium has encouraged many scholars to think that Josephus must have written something close to what we find in them, which was later edited by Christian hands. if the laudatory version in Eusebius and our text of Josephus were the free creation of Christian scribes, who then created the more restrained versions found in Jerome, Agapius, and Michael?" (page 172)


"Nevertheless, since most of those who know the evidence agree that he said something about Jesus, one is probably entitled to cite him as independent evidence that Jesus actually lived, if such evidence were needed. (page 174 ff).

Prof. Louis Feldmann, in his book Josephus and Modern Scholarship, noted that between 1937 to 1980, of 52 scholars reviewing the subject, 39 found portions of the Testimonium Flavianum to be authentic - 10 scholars regarded the Testimonium Flavianum as entirely or mostly genuine, 20 accept it with some interpolations, 9 with several interpolations, and 13 regard it as being totally an interpolation. (See Christopher Price, A Thorough Review of the Testimonium Flavianum; Peter Kirby, Testimonium Flavianum)

So, according Feldman, the vast majority of scholars (75 %) favor partial authenticity of the Testimonium. Some scholars who accepts that Josephus wrote something about Jesus: Lane Fox, Michael Grant, Crossan, Borg, Meier, Tabor, Thiessen, Frederiksen, Flusser, Charlesworth, Paul Winter, Feldman, Mason...

Finally, many commentators who regards TF as entirely interpolation, do accept smaller passage (eg. Per Bilde, Hans Colzelmann).

(Mason, Feldman, Colzelmann quotes contributed by researcher Nehemias CADRE blog 8/18/2008 02:16:00 PM)

a) Jerome's Reading.

St. Jerome quoted from the TF as saying "he was believed to bethe Messiah," rather than "he was the Messiah." This has led many scholars to believe that Jerome knew of another, perhaps older version of the TF that read differently and lacked the "tweeked" parts of the passage.

b)The Arabic Text.

A Jewish scholar named Sholmo Poines foudn an Arabic Text that reads differently then does the recieved version of the TF.

Josephus'Testimony to Jesus

James D. Tabor

(Testimonium Flavianum) Josephus, Antiquities 18. 63-64

Tabor: "Professor Shlomo Pines found a different version of Josephus testimony in an Arabic version of the tenth century. It has obviously not been interpolated in the same way as the Christian version circulating in the West:"

"At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders."

c) Syriac text.

Alice Whealy, Berkely Cal.

The TF controversy from antiquity to present

In the second major twentieth century controversy over the authenticity of the
Testimonium Flavianum, the erudite Near Eastern studies scholar, Shlomo Pines, tried to argue
that the paraphrase of the Testimonium that appears in a Christian Arabic chronicle dating from
the tenth century might be more authentic than the textus receptus Testimonium.
Reaction to
Pines' thesis was mixed, but the most important piece of evidence that Pines' scholarship on
Christian Semitic sources brought to light was not the Arabic paraphrase of the Testimonium
that he proposed was more authentic than the textus receptus, but the literal Syriac translation of
the Testimonium that is quoted in a twelfth century chronicle compiled by the Syrian Patriarch of
Antioch (1166-1199).
It is this version of the Testimonium, not the Arabic paraphrase of it,
that has the greatest likelihood of being, at least in some ways, more authentic than the textus
receptus Testimonium because, as noted earlier, this version of the text agrees with Jerome's
Latin version of the text in the same crucial regard. The medieval Syriac Testimonium that Pines
uncovered is very strong evidence for what many scholars had argued since birth of the
controversy over the text in the Renaissance, namely that Jerome did not alter the Testimonium
Flavianum to read "he was believed to be the Christ" but rather that he in fact knew the original
version of the Testimonium, which he probably found in Eusebius'
Historia Ecclesiastica
which read "he was believed to be the Christ" rather than "he was the Christ."

(2) No Textaul evidence

No textual evidence supports the charge that Origin or Eusbius made up the passage.

a) All copies we have contain the quote.

If it had been forged we should have some copies that don't contian it.

New Advent Encyplopidia:
"all codices or manuscripts of Josephus's work contain the text in question; to maintain the spuriousness of the text, we must suppose that all the copies of Josephus were in the hands of Christians, and were changed in the same way."

b) Passage known prior to Eusebius

Nor is it ture that our first indication of the existence of the Passage begins with Eusebuis:

Again, the same conclusion follows from the fact that Origen knew a Josephan text about Jesus, but was not acquainted with our present reading; for, according to the great Alexandrian doctor, Josephus did not believe that Jesus was the Messias ("In Matth.", xiii, 55; "Contra Cels.", I, 47).

c)Silence of Early writters is explianed

Second, it is true that neither Tertullian nor St. Justin makes use of Josephus's passage concerning Jesus; but this silence is probably due to the contempt with which the contemporary Jews regarded Josephus, and to the relatively little authority he had among the Roman readers. Writers of the age of Tertullian and Justin could appeal to living witnesses of the Apostolic tradition. (Ibid)

3)Eusebius careful with sources.

Lightfoot, again:

The manner in which Eusebius deals with his very numerous quotations elsewhere, where we can test his honesty, is a sufficient vindication against this unjust charge.1Moreover, Eusebius is generally careful not only to collect the best evidence accessible, but also to distinguish between different kinds of evidence. “Almost every page witnesses to the zeal with which he collected testimonies from writers who lived at the time of the events which he describes. For the sixth and seventh books he evidently rejoices to be able to use for the foundation of his narrative the contemporary letters of Dionysius; ‘Dionysius, our great bishop of Alexandria,’ he writes, ‘will again help me by his own words in the composition of my seventh book of the history, since he relates in order the events of his own time in the letters which he has left’ (vii. praef.) . . . In accordance with this instinctive desire for original testimony, Eusebius scrupulously distinguishes facts which rest on documentary from those which rest on oral evidence. Some things he relates on the authority of a ‘general’ (iii. 11, 36) or ‘old report’ (iii. 19, 20) or from tradition (i. 7, . 9, vi. 2, &c.).

3)Admits when he can't fill in gaps

Lightfoot agin:

"In the lists of successions he is careful to notice where written records failed him. ‘I could not,’ he says, ‘ by any means find the chronology of the bishops of Jerusalem preserved in writing; thus much only I received from written sources, that there were fifteen bishops in succession up to the date of the siege under Hadrian, &c.’ (iv. 5).” [W.] “There is nothing like hearing the actual words” of the writer, he says again and again (i. 23, iii. 32, vii. 23; comp. iv. 23), when introducing a quotation."(Lightfoot,Ibid.)

If Eusebius really believed that pious fruad was acceptable, why did he bother to admit when he couldn't fill in a gap? Why didn't he just make up the information? If he made up Bishop lists on other occasions, why not this time?

4)Pious Fraud Quotation Itself a fraud

Roger Pearse, an experienced amature scholar demonstarates that this rumor about Eusebius goes back to a quotation by Gibbon, and Eusebuis never said anything like it:

"Some very odd statements are in circulation about Eusebius Pampilus the Historian. Recently someone quoted one of them at me, as a put-down. I had the opportunity to check the statements fairly easily, and the results are interesting, if discouraging for those looking for data on the internet. Since then I have come across other variants, and added these also.

Note that the Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

*'I have repeated whatever may rebound to the glory, and suppressed all that could tend to the disgrace of our religion'

*'It will sometimes be necessary to use falsehood for the benefit of those who need such a mode of treatment.'"

Roger goes on in a long page to disect and disprove this whole thesis, and to show that it was the 18th century historian Gibbon who said this about Eusebius, and not Eusebius himself.

Next: Page 3 THIS Argument; Josephus 3

Next argument: III.B. Tacitus

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Annoucement: see the new series beginign on Athesit watch

Part 1 is already up on Atheistwatch

Phip Zuckerman

This will be a multiple part theme, and the Zuckerman connection I'll devide into at least two posts. Over the last few years many amateur sociologists from the atheist camp have tried to produce would be social science studies to demonstrate their ideological contention that atheism is the product of rational thought and religion is the product of superstition and stupidity.

One of the major contributors is a sociologist named Zuckerman. The "study" he contributes is badly done and makes a lost of bad assumptions,it is not well thought of in the academy, but atheists on the net cling to it as though it proves all.

I've seen over half a dozen attempts to do sociological studies that supposedly prove that religion is bad for society. The two major one's are Zuckerman and Paul. These two studies are linked as Zuckerman acknowledges Paul's "study" as foundational for his own.

The edge foundation describes Zuckerman's study this way:

A sociologist at Pitzer, Phil Zuckerman is the author of Invitation to the Sociology of Religion, Du Bois on Religion, Sex and Religion, and Society Without God. His Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006) verifies the inability of popular religiosity to thrive in modern, egalitarian democracies.
But this is nothing more than a like and Zuckerman's superficial data confrims nothing of the sort.

Zukerman is a Skeptical Enquirer article that someone has tired to use against me and my religious experience studies, but it didn't apply. This trend is making me very angry because it has spawned many of the lies and half truths that are fueling the new Atheism. I see these links to these articles popping up all the time. They make me especially angry because


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Take the Paul-Skeptic Challenge


There is a skeptic who wirtes an entire blog aimed at destroying Paul as an evidental source for the NT. At least I think that's his aim, its certanly the obvious implied effect. The Blog is Paul, an apostle? really? That's not a loaded title is it? As if that's not enough he also issues a big brave challenge:

"doubts on Paul, a challenge to harmonize Paul with Paul
by Paul Sceptic

By the time someone issues a big brave challenge to the "other side" to prove something they usually don't care care what those meeting the challenge have to say.He has to be so convinced that he's right to be confident enough to issue a challenge, so he's not going to be open to listening to the answers. Be that as it may, what I intend to do is to first point out why the whole thing is wrong headed from the get go, then I'll throw out some answers to the specifics of the challenge just so the lurkers will see these things are not cut and dried.

Before getting started I point to my page on Biblical inspiration Because I think the error here comes from an inadequate understanding of inspiration itself. This so called "Paul Skeptic" is concentrated that there's discrepancy in the time line and that's suppossed to invalidate Paul as an authoritative source. But what is the founding assumption in back of that? It has to be the Assumption that if the document is wrong on one point then he whole thing is wrong. This can only because of one of two things: either he assumes that if Paul was there he would know, therefore, Acts must be wrong because its not written by an eye witness; or the must assume that to be wrong it has not be inspired and therefore has no value as a religious text. Both assumptions are false.

Eye witnesses can forget time spans. We all distort time in our minds. The skeptic assumption is that we can't trust if there's is a mistake. The assumption here is there's only one model of revelation and that has to be verbatim, verbal plenary inspiration with inerrency of the text.The assumption is "O we can't trust anything they say if we they are wrong on one little knit picky point. If God is there and wants us to be saved he has to make it real clear with no problems at all..." This s all very foolish, as though if he can't remember a gap in a three week period then he can't remember if Jesus is the son of God or if adultery is wrong! He's out to lunch on this because he's simply assuming the fundamentalist view that it all has to be perfect. The reason he assumes that is because the accepts the fundie model of revelation that the Bible is a memo from the boss, handed down verbatim to be taken literally word for word. But this is not the only model of revelation we can use. There are many more models.See Avery Dulles' book Models of Revelation. The view that I support is called "dialectical retrieval" in which a variety of methods are found in a plurality of textual types. A dialectical relationship between the text and the reader allows the reader to retrieval aspects of truth communicated trough inspiration but not in historically accurate or specially literal methods. In other words, it doesn't matter if there are mistakes.

Another point that must be understood is that Luke was not present during all of the events in Acts.He was not there for Paul's conversion. So we don't know how he pieced together word of the events. He may have heard Paul speak of it directly. He may have consulted the four daughters of Philip who he speaks of in Acts, since they were known as the first keepers of the archives and functions as early historians for the Church. He may have heard the story from older companions of Paul. So we can assume there may be discrepancies, we should never allow atheists to translate discrepancies into reasons for doubting the truth of the Gospel.

On the other hand, I think it's important to realize that so many of these kinds amateur attempts at scholarship are just exaggerations based upon speculation. We should give the text more of a benefit of a doubt. Or rather, the benefit of faith. To illustrate how we might minimize what some take as devastating, let's look at the claims.

Here is an example of the kind of thing he's talking about:

Here's a challenge for everyone, whoever can meet it, and I really kinda hope someone can. Can you harmonize Galatians 1-2 with the book of Acts, and settle all my doubts on Paul's apostleship that relate to other passages? That's the challenge. I look forward to the responses but not the "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against Paul?" type of responses. All you Calvinists can save those for your own childish blogs.

Now when I say harmonize Galatians 1-2 with the book of Acts, I mean where Paul says he did not confer with flesh and blood after his conversion (Ananias? [Acts 9:17]) and that he didn't go to Jerusalem for three whole years (Acts says he headed straight for Jerusalem after being kicked out of Damascus "several days" later by the Jews) and how he only went to meet Peter and was unknown by face to the churches of Judea who merely heard about him and rejoiced in God over his conversion (whereas Acts has him go to Jerusalem to try and join the churches of Judea, who know him by face and reject him! and then Barnabas buys his story and brings him to the apostles for verification, and they apparently accept him and give him access to the churches of Judea, and he goes in and out among the churches of Judea! then he gets in trouble with the Jews again [this time Hellenistic Jews] and is shipped off to Tarsus by way of Caesarea [Acts 9:30]). Can that all be harmonized?

(1) not confer with flesh and blood

Gals? (not) vs Acts (9:17) says he did

Gal 1:12: "I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ."


Acts 9:17-Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord-Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here-has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Act 9:18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,

Act 9:19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.

Answer: The statement that he makes in Galatians is a general statement. It is not tied down to a time line when he says "not form any man." The account in Acts does not say that the Christians who ministered to him gave him a theology or any elaborate teaching. He's obviously talking his overall approach, his general understanding, what theolgoians would call "systematic theology." He doesn't say he didn't see or speak to a single person. He never says anything like that. This is just atheists making a mountain out of a mole hill. It seems PaulSkeptic is fooled by the wording of a particular translation "I did not confer with flesh and blood" which he takes to meany "I didn't speak to anyone at all" but that's not what it says.

(2) Time frame on going to Jerusalem after conversion

Gals says not for 3 years/ Acts says went straight after Damascus

But when God, who set me apart from birth [fn] and called me by his grace, was pleased

Gal 1:16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man,

Gal 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.

Gal 1:18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter [fn] and stayed with him fifteen days.


(preceded events described around his baptism and beginning to preach in Damascus).

Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. [fn]

Act 9:23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him,

Act 9:24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him.

Act 9:25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.

(Right here we have the gap between leaving Damascus and going to Jerusalem--this gap is three years according to Paul in Galations but appears to be very short in Acts).

Act 9:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
Answer: Nothing in the text tells us how long this gap is. The way it's written in acts makes it seem immediate. That is not proof that Luke thought it was immediate. He may not have know how long it was. I think atheists assume that revelation works by God speaking to people "write this word for word." But it doesn't. So we have to assume Luke is remembering this in his natural mind as people told him the story. They may never have told him that detail. He may not have known how long the gap was. But note: the "contradiction" is only implied, it is' surmised because there is no clear actual statment that it was any shorter a time span than three years.PaulSketpic says: "Acts says he headed straight for Jerusalem after being kicked out of Damascus "several days" it does not say he headed 'straight, it does not use that word. Luke could have known that it was three years and may not meant to imply any less, but just thought it wasn't important to spell out how long it was. Luke did not have Galatians to read and go by.

This is my whole point is answering this stuff. I don't care if Luke did get it wrong. That doesn't' bother my theology one iota. But I'm sick atheists assuming that any little supposition they can read in to a blank space in the text is an absolute fact and mandates the burning the Bible. None of these so called problems are anything more than ambiguities and the suppositions that atheists can use to blow them out of proportion.

Then also in Acts, he never preaches to one single solitary Gentile until after Peter converts the house of Cornelius, after which event Barnabas goes down to Tarsus "for to seek Saul" [Acts 11:25] and take him with him to Antioch to preach to the Gentiles there, Barnabas having been sent by the twelve to preach to the Gentiles in Antioch!Then, after some Judaizers have come to Antioch to cause trouble and Paul and Barnabas (with various unnamed others) are sent by the church at Antioch to the apostles in Jerusalem to hear what they have to say on the matter, we find that at the Jerusalem in Acts 15:7 Peter makes the statement "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should [first] hear the word of the gospel and believe." He says that with Paul present! Yet Paul claims in Galatians 2:7-8 that he Paul is THE apostle to the Gentiles and Peter is THE apostle to the Jews! Again the claim is made by Paul in Rom 11:13 "I am the apostle of the Gentiles." But Peter(!) claims that title for himself in Acts 15:7. And would not Peter's coming to Antioch (Gal 2:11) indicate that Peter had an interest in Gentiles? Such polarization of an apostle for Jews only and one for Gentiles only is clearly not found in Acts, where Paul is often seen as preaching to the Jews first.

Of course he's talking about two different time periods. The events in Acts happened before the events in Galatians. So it could be that Peter was the Apostle to the gentiles at that time, and latter Paul took over. This, in fact, is how most of us understanding. It just makes sense that Peter would have to start the ball rolling on the gentiles. Had Paul tired to launch that mission himself it would be been rejected. With Peter doing it he had to be accepted. But Paul was clearly better suited so he took it over. Paul was better suited because he was from Asia minor. Peter was a hick, he was from the backwater of Galilee. Paul, being of Asia minor, was like most Jews of that region, urbane, sophisticated, well educated, very litter ate in Greek (Paul wrote excellent Greek). Peter had to be shown by revelation that the Gentiles were worthy. Paul grew as part of a urban assimilated society, where he was a citizen of Rome and part of the gentile as well as the Hebrew culture.

The idea that Peter and Paul were struggling against each other is from a Nineteenth century theologian called Wellhausen. He was a Hegelian, and since the dialectic was suppossed to govern all history, he imposed the Hegelian scheme upon the history of the church: Peter was the thesis, Paul was the anti-thesis, the orthodox church was the synthesis. It's just an arbitrary imposition that is the result of ideology.Atheists and skeptics have continued to use it because a major Bible schoalr gave his stamp of approval on it. There probably was some degree of conflict between Paul and Peter because they were so very different. But, this is overblown and over done.

One particularly interesting example is in Acts 13:46 "Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles." Note how this is totally counter to what most people believe is Pauline theology, i.e. that we are born worthless and always will be worthless and thus salvation can't have anything to do with us at all but must be all of God and totally monergistic (i.e. Calvinism). Paul's complaint about the Jews here is not that they have too much pride to admit their worthlessness and accept Christ (as most modern Protestants would have it) but that they consider themselves too worthless(!) and hence they reject eternal life because of a sense of worthlessness! not pride! Put that in your Calvinist pipe and smoke it.

I asked Paul-skeptic where hes' coming from on this issue. He is not a Messianich Jew or a Jew of any kind. His reaction to Paul, according to him, is from the basis of a standard Christian view. He doesn't wan to defame the Apostles trained by Jesus but in my view he's thinking in all or nothing terms. You either accept Paul completely and totally toss out the Apostles, or vice versa. In my view this is a reactionary move one need to make. The Orthodox church was able to accept both James, the Apostles and Paul with on trouble. It's a matter of perspective, we need balance.