Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Question of Being, Brute Fact or Deep Structure?


....The meaning of the controversy is the difference between Paul Tillich's view of God as being itself, and the atheist understanding that "the universe just is." Tillich said that if we know that being has depth that it's not just "surface only" then we can't be atheists (Shaking of the Foundations, chapter seven). The atheist understanding has long been their answer to arguments like the cosmological argument. When theists divide up modes of being into necessary and contingent,the atheist merely says "well what if being just is, it has no meaning or reason for being its' just there?" Of course that's a possibility but it doesn't answer the question, and saying it doesn't make the depth we can see in being go away. What is meant by "depth" of being is that there is more to being than just the surface fact of things existing. That's what the concept of "the universe just is" tries to convey, the idea of no reason. The idea is not just that there is no scientific cause necessarily, although they do sometimes try to say that too. These are two totally diametrically opposed understandings. The atheist view says being just is, no reason, nothing to consider or worry about, it's just there for no reason, absurdity. The theists seems more to the nature of being than meets the eye from the surface level. There has to be more to it than just the fact of things existing.
....The cosmological argument, for example has different versions, but generally all cosmological arguments assert that there must be final cause to account for the existence of the whole of reality. The atheist's often counter this final cause with an infinite series of contingent causes such as the oscillating universe of big bangs and big crunches. This is called an infinite causal regression (ICR). The atheist asserts that the universe just happens to be for no reason and it's made up of a series of little universes that come in and go out of existence. The whole chain, contingent though it may be (some deny validity of the category "contingent") passes on existence to the next version in the form of a big crunch that then expands agian in another big bang. Some argue that the crunch (contraction of gravitational forces) becomes a blog hole and "punches out" the other side as a new big bang. This is not the only mechanism for ICR. They also posit the notion of quantum tunneling and string membranes. The oscillating universe, however, is the most popular form of ICR becuase it's the only one with proven potential, even though the evidence disproves it (scroll down to (2) Cyclical Universe). As ICR for origin of the universe quantum tunneling invovles self causation where the singularity, or some original element or fragment of reality keeps tunneling back to cause itself at another point in time. This would involve being just having no logical origin but causing itself over and over eternally. String membrane in the sense of ICR is more or less the idea of a floating dimension just drifting along, bashing into another floating dimension and causing a third dimension. Since it posits the idea of a dimension just floating for no reason (2 actually) why bother with the mess? Why not say the universe needs no origin?
....There's no absolute proof in any of this. If we want to get technical there's no actual proof that we are even living in a state of "reality." We assume the reality of the world, and thus our ability to study it and formulate hypothesis that "explain it" but if we want to start special pleading about explainations we don't like and just asserting the unproved nature of origins to hedge bets on those we do then we cant' be too picky when the other guy calls our bluff and says "now it's the skeptic's burden of proof." Why? Because presumption is on the side of explainations. Science assumes we need them. No one ever hears a scientist say "we don't need to explain that, let's forget it." The problem is atheists fool themselves. They demand science so much when they need to reach back to philosophy (Kant--the question about brute facts begins with Kant) it's reaching beyond science to philosohpy, which most atheists condemn anyway. There's a loss of credibility there. More importantly, they have already promised explainations then special plead and say "we don't need them in this area." Hey, for religious experiences we need them and they must be naturalistic!
....The idea of "the universe just is," in philosophical terms is called a "brute fact." It means there is no reason it's just there. The problem with brute facts is that philosophers usually avoid them because they are meaningless, and they beg the question, and are not satisfying. As stated, the explainable has been established as the proper procedure for dealing with unknowns, yet in this one reach of the metaphysical nature of being they are willing to just let it go. It's a true case of special pleading. The unsatisfying nature of the brute fact is set off against the basic intuitive sense of being meaning one finds in the question of existence. Meaning is part of the depth of being and we sense the depth of being in even asking the question "where did it all come from?" The issue seems like an arbitrary stand off, either there is a reason or not. Either there is meaning or not. We can't really tell why we should think there is when the only thing that we can be sure of is the blind random existence of what is? The scietnific evidence does suggest blind random accident and evolution.
....The problem is the brute fact in terms of ICR or universal origin is just made up of contingent things. The states of bang and crunch that make up the oscillating universe, for example, consist of Constituent parts such as space-time, gravitational field, and naturalistic things. Naturalistic things are contingent. To posit the whole totality of all universal meaning, eternal truth, the nature of all that is upon a meaningless happenstance that just happens to be, while everything else about existence requires explaining and implies something greater than itself (such as truth) creates a state of dissatisfaction. If we are disatisfied metpahyically we have the right to question that state. ICR and brute facts don't answer the questions we ask. The atheist is content to lose the phenomena and pretend there is no meaning and no answers but in so doing is no better off or no more intellectually justified than the faithful making excuses about "no one knows the mind of God." There is a deciding factor or two and they are a prori part of the basic fabric of the question. There's an aspect to the nature of the contingent happenstance that makes up the brute fact of existence that suggests depth of being in a greater sense.
,,,,The eternal and necessary nature being suggests the distinction between being as a brute fact and being as depth. The very mechanism the atheist seeks to ply against final cause is the disproof of the brutish nature of fact. To explain this I must explain the difference in my cosmological argument (CA) and that of others. For example the Kalam argument is a version of the CA. This says anything that beings to exist needs a cause. That argument, therefore, turns upon the nature cause. Thus arguments about Kalam revolve around efficient cause in nature, and thus ICR (if allowed to stand) is a valid answer. ICR contains cause even though it means an endless series of meaningless cause the whole of which cannot be explained, our own particular universe has its cause then in the previous big crutch and it's blowing back out as a big bang. My version of the CA, however, the Argument from Cosmological Necessity doesn't turn upon causes but upon attributes of God. The argument turns upon demonstrating that the attributes that make up the God concept already exist and are known to us as aspects of reality, thus it's just a matter of understanding their relation to being we can see that they spell out something deep inherent meaning in being that disproves brute fact. After all if being has a deep inherent meaning it can't be a brute fact, that is a prori truth. The deciding factor is the eternal nature of being. There is another version of the argument that turns upon the eternal nature of being.
....The reason it's not a moot stand off between the two concepts is because the ICR itself has to be eternal. the individual aspects of the regression that move from one universe to another are contingent and temporal, but the whole string in so far as it must stretch back eternally is both eternal and infinite. Both states evoke the sense of the numinous. That means it's a fit object of worship because anything that evokes the sense of the numinous is a fit object of worship since that state is the very reason religion exists in the firs place. That's what worship is, its the nature being moved by the sense that there is something profound and special in being. The atheist protest that "the universe just happens to be" is self negating becuase it's eternal and infinite nature suggest the quality of the numinous and are thus more in and of themselves than they perpetual to be. That in itself is depth of being. In seeking to posit the whole they actually must suggest something that triggers religious devotion and thus prove the depth nature of being.
....Atheists logically should have to support the concept the universe moving from a state of absolute nothing. This is because the ICR just moves the problem back eternally but never really confronts the issue of origins anyway. Since the atheists affirm the idea of brute fact, meaningless accident, irrational existence, and so on they should actually just take their lumps in abandoning ratinoal explanations. This is not all there, however, the issue is not a done deal. We can't just leap from eternal being triggers the sense of the numinous to "therefore God is real." We have to deal with the other attitudes. Even though they all actually flow out of the eternal nature of being, necessity is the more independent one of the lot. The attrubites I emphasis are:

ground of being
first cause

I am also challenged by atheists constantly to include "consciousness" or "personal being." There is no necessity in theology to assume God is personal. Even though I do assume so that is not a priamry quality because other things are personal as well. I'm concerned with the qualitaties that make God God and that God can't share with anything else. Whatever is eternal is by definition necessary (at least ontologically so) because it's not dependent and can't cease to exist. Nothing else really is necessary in the sense that God is (totally, no nature as the effect of a prior cause), so these are primary qualities. If there is eternal necessary being then by definition it is the ground of being. That would only be logical to assume that it is the first cause since nothing else is on a par with it ti would be the best candidate to assume that all else has it's origin in that which is eternal and necessary.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Which God is it?


....There's a kind of atheist who thinks that any sort of difficulty they can come up with invalidates all of Christianity. So if you can't quantify which view of salvation by faith is right by the percentage points of it's truth content in comparison to other views then there's no point in being a Christian at all. One favorite gambit of these "difficulty atheists," is to ask "which God is it?" The implication being that if one can't show conclusively that the true God is something they call 'the bible God' then there's no point in belief in God at all becuase it easily be any God and there's no way to know.[1] This is a "pp" argument. The reason is obvious, any red blooded fundamentalist can give a 250 reasons why "The Christian God" is the true God. The problem is, and it's a problem for both camps, the Bible never uses the phrase "Bible God." Neither Jesus, nor Paul nor Moses nor any Biblical figure ever says "believe ye the bible God and no other." Even passages where God himself indicates "i am the Lord and beside me there is no other" he he doesn't say "I am the Bible God." In all actuality there is no such thing as the Christian God, that phrase is not used either, or the Bible God. There is only God, and all people have different ideas about God.
....It's not a matter of which God as though they are all competing for existence, it's a matter of which tradition do we think actually adheres more closely to the reality behind the constructs. That is the content that is hinted at in the phrase "the bible God."  What they are trying to awkwardly to say is that this is the set of God related concepts embodied in the traditions that stem from the Biblical text. That doesn't exclude the idea that other traditions have truth too, or that God is working in other traditions. These atheists usually want to keep putting it in terms of specific figures from various traditions such as Zeus or Odin or whomever. This is treating God as a contingency, as adding a fact to the universe. He's just one more personality. These are just place holders within a tradition, when people speak of God as the creator, the basis of reality, it doesn't make any difference what contingent concept they stick on it. Like Spinoza's argument about the triangle. There is one shape that is a triangle and that one shape is represented in many ways in many places but they all refer back tot he same idea. The red triangle I use to group my billiard balls is referring to the same triangle represented by the green plastic triangular law sprinkler or the white triangle drawn on the black board in math class.
....There is one reality behind all religious traditions. This is not say that all gods are synonymous with the God who whom Jesus prayed in the Garden, but it is to say that all god images and all concepts  of God point to the reality that stands behind them all. We can see this in the Bible. Paul said:

"To those who through persistence seek glory, honor and immortality he will give eternal life.But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the good and follow evil there will be wrath and anger...first for the Jew and then for the gentile; but glory honor and peace for everyone who does good. For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will perish apart form the law and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Indeed when Gentiles who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirement of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences bearing witness and their hearts now accusing, now even defending them..." (Romans 2:7-15). New American Standard and other translations say "their hearts accusing, now excusing them..."
 Most Christians are afraid of this conclusion and they down play this verse. Often Evangelicals will come back and say "he makes it clear in the next passage that no one can really follow the law on their hearts." Well, if they can't, than they can't. But if they can, and do, than God will excuse them. God knows the heart, we do not. The verse clearly opens the door to the possibility of salvation (although by Jesus) through a de facto arrangement in which one is seeking the good without knowing the object one is seeking (Jesus). In other words, it is possible that people in other cultures who follow the moral law written on the heart know Jesus de facto even if they don't know him overtly. Paul backs up this conclusion in Acts 17:22 Paul goes to Athens as is asked by the Athenian philosophers to explain his ideas to them.
....These were pagan followers of another religion. Paul stood up and said to them, "Men of Athens, I see that in every way you are very religious for as I walked around and observed your objects of worship I even found an alter with this inscription 'TO AN UNKOWN GOD' Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you."He basically says that they are worshiping God, they just don't know who he is. That's why he says "I will make it known to you." He doesn't say "you have the wrong idea completely." Most Evangelicals dismiss this as a neat rhetorical trick. But if we assume that Paul would not lie or distort his beliefs for the sake of cheap tricks, we must consider that he did not say "you are all a bunch of pagans and you are going to hell!" He essentially told them, "God is working in your culture, you do know God, but you don't know who God is. You seek him, without knowing the one you seek. He goes on,(v27)"God did this [created humanity and scattered them into different cultures] so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out and find him though he is not far form each one of us." This implies that God not only wants to work in other cultures, but that it is actually his paln to do things in this way. Perhaps through a diversity of insights we might come to know God better. Perhaps it means that through spreading the Gospel people would come to contemplate better the meaning of God's love.
....In any case, it does mean that God is working in other cultures, and that God is in the hearts of all people drawing them to himself. Of their worship of idols, Paul said "in past times God overlooked such ignorance but now he commands all people everywhere to repent" (v30). Now what can this mean? God never overlooks idolatry or paganism, in the OT he's always commanding the Israelite to wipe them out and expressly forbidding idolatry. It means that on an individual basis when God judges the hearts of people, he looks at their desire to seek him, to seek the good. That their status as individuals in a pagan culture does not negate the good they have done, and their ignorance of idolatry does not discount their desire to seek the good or the truth. IT means that they are following Jesus if they live in the moral life, even though they follow him as something unknown to them. IT also means that all of us should come into the truth, we should seek to know God fully, and when we do that we find that it is Jesus all along.
....Of course this doesn't mean that I'm worshiping other gods. It doesn't mean that if I see a representation of Shiva on a Hindu temple I'll pray to it and say it's pointing to Jesus. Why? Because that's not the cultural construct with which I identify and which is most meaningful to me. Neither will I spit on it or call it names or show contempt for it. I respect the traditions of other faiths as a matter of civilized discourse and Christian love. I do recognize it as pointing to God, the God my tradition, in a certain sense. This is another path and the view of those who follow it and the way they understand the reality behind all our paths. I must show it respect, but I don't have to worship it. So it's not a matter of trying to figure out which tradition is right or which one has the right God, if it were I could give you a long string of good arguments that's its mine, there's more to it than that. It's about understanding what a tradition says to us.We find the tradition that really speaks to us as respect the others as colleagues. I still believe that anyone who gives Christianity a fair chance and hears what its saying to us has a good chance of falling in love with Jesus and following him.
....People have always sought to find their place in the cosmos, that's what all the various forms of mythos are about. It's because we recognize that the thing we feel in our inner most begin when we we behold the star filled desert sky is the answer to that quest, "why am I here?" that we seek define who this is that's calling us to journey as Abraham did. It's more than just words on paper or stories in Sunday school abut an actual encounter with a reality that stands behind all reality and transcends all paths and all traditions. The Hebraic author knew when he quoted the prophet that it was more than a set of rules or a list of laws, but a realtinship with reality when Jeremiah wrote:

Heb. 8:10-12 "...I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer will a man say to his neighbor 'know the Lord' for they will all know me from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more."
 This passage promises a "personal relationship with God."The word for "to Know" is the Greek Term Ginosko, which means personal experiential knowledge. To give one's life to Jesus means to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus said (John) "My sheep know my voice..." Personal relationship means that it is more than a set of rules, more than an ideology or a belief system, but a matter of the heart, the emotions, religious affections. IT may not be through dramatic miraculous effects (although I do believe that that is open to all Christians) but it is deeper than mere rule keeping, and does make for a satisfaction nothing else can match.God acts upon the heart. Salvation is a matter of "knowing God" not of mere intellectual assent. What does it mean to know God? It means that being a Christian is a matter of experiencing God's love in the heart and of loving God and others. It is also a matter of being "led" by God through impressions upon the heart, and not merely a set of rules or a list of beliefs that one must check off. IT is the development of "religious affections."The excitement of knowing God is unequaled by anything else in this life.

[1] this can be seen argued by atheist Blogger Christopher Hallquist on is page "7.there are no good God arguments."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Bayes Theorum And Probablity of God: No Dice!

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....It is understandable that naturalistic thinkers are uneasy with the concept of miracles. So should we all be watchful not to believe too quickly because its easy to get caught up in private reasons and ignore reason itself. Thus has more than one intelligent person been taken by both scams and honest mistakes. By the the same token it is equally a  danger that one will remain too long in the skeptical place and become overly committed to doubting everything. From that position the circular reasoning of the naturalist seems so reasonable. There’s never been any proof of miracles before so we can’t accept that there is any now. But that’s only because we keep making the same assumption and thus have always dismissed the evidence that was valid.
            At this point most atheists will interject the ECREE issue (or ECREP—extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, or “proof”). That would justify the notion of remaining skeptical about miracle evidence even when its good. There are many refutations of this phrase, which was popularized by Karl Sagan. One of the major problems with this idea is that atheists rarely get around to defining “extraordinary” either in terms of the claim (why would belief in God be extraordinary? 90% of humanity believe in some form of God) [1] The slogan ECREE is usually said to be based upon the Bayes completeness theorem.  Sagan popularized the slogan ECREE but the mathematical formula that it is often linked to (but not identical to) was invented by the man whose name it bears, working in the  seventeen forties but then he abandoned it, perhaps because mathematicians didn’t like it. It was picked up by the great scientist and atheist Laplace and improved upon.[2] This method affords new atheism the claim of a “scientific/mathematical” procedure that disproves God by demonstrating that God is totally improbable. It is also used to supposedly disprove supernatural effects as well as they are rendered totally improbable.[3]
            It is often assumed that the theorem was developed to back up Hume’s argument against miracles. Bayes was trying to argue against Hume and to find a mathematical way to prove that there must be a first cause to the universe.[4] Mathematicians have disapproved of the theorem for most of its existence. It has been rejected on the grounds that it’s based upon guesswork. It was regarded as a parlor trick until World War II then it was regarded as a useful parlor trick. This explains why it was strangely absent from my younger days and early education as a student of the existence of God. I used to pour through philosophy anthologies with God articles in them and never came across it. It was just part of the discussion on the existence of God until about the year 2000 suddenly it’s all over the net. It’s resurgence is primarily due to it’s use by skeptics in trying to argue that God is improbable. It was not taught in math from the end fo the war to the early 90s.[5]
            Bayes’ theorem was introduced first as an argument against Hume’s argument on miracles, that is to say, a proof of the probability of miracles. The theorem was learned by Richard Price from Bayes papers after the death of the latter, and was first communicated to the Royal society in 1763.[6] The major difference in the version Bayes and Price used and modern (especially skeptical versions) is that Laplace worked out how to introduce differentiation in prior distributions. The original version gave 50-50 probability to the prior distribution.[7] The problem with using principles such as Bayes theorem is that they can’t tell us what we need to know to make the calculations of probability accurate in dealing with issues where our knowledge is fragmentary and sparse. The theorem is good for dealing with concrete things like tests for cancer, developing spam filters, and military applications but not for determining the answer to questions about reality that are philosophical by nature and that would require an understanding of realms beyond, realms of which we know nothing. Bayes conquered the problem of what level of chance or probability to assign the prior estimate by guessing. This worked because the precept was that future information would come in that would tell him if his guesses were in the ball park or not. Then he could correct them and guess again. As new information came in he would narrow the field to the point where eventually he’s not just in the park but rounding the right base so to speak.
            The problem is that doesn’t work as well when no new information comes in, which is what happens when dealing with things beyond human understanding. We don’t have an incoming flood of empirical evidence clarifying the situation with God because God is not the subject of empirical observation. Where we set the prior, which is crucial to the outcome of the whole thing, is always going to be a matter of ideological assumption. For example we could put the prior at 50-50 (either God exists or not) and that would yield a high probability of God.[8] Or the atheist can argue that the odds of God are low because God is not given in the sense data, which is in itself is an ideological assumption. It assumes that the only valid form of knowledge is empirical data. It also ignores several sources of empirical data that can be argued as evidence for God (such as the universal nature of mystical experience).[9] It assumes that God can’t be understood as reality based upon other means of deciding such as personal experience or logic, and it assumes the probability of God is low based upon unbelief because the it could just as easily be assumed as high based upon it’s properly basic nature or some form of elegance (parsimony). In other words this is all a matter of how e chooses to see things. Perspective matters. There is no fortress of facts giving the day to atheism, there is only the prior assumptions one chooses to make and the paradigm under which one chooses to operate; that means the perception one chooses to filter the data through.
            Stephen Unwin tries to produce a simple analysis that would prove the ultimate truth of God using Bayes. The calculations he gives for the priors are as such:
Recognition of goodness (D = 10)
Existence of moral evil (D = 0.5)
Existence of natural evil (D = 0.1)
Intra-natural miracles (e.g., a friend recovers from an illness after you have prayed for him) (D = 2)
Extra-natural miracles (e.g., someone who is dead is brought back to life) (D = 1)
Religious experiences (D = 2)[10]
This is admittedly subjective, and all one need do is examine it to see this. Why give recognition of moral evil 0.5? If you read C.S. Lewis its obvious if you read B.F. Skinner there’s no such thing. That’s not scientific fact but opinon. When NASA does analysis of gas pockets on moons of Jupiter they don’t start out by saying “now let’s discuss the value system that would allow us to posit the existence of gas.” They are dealing with observable things that must be proved regardless of one’s value system. These questions (setting the prior for God) are matters for theology. The existence of moral evil for example this is not a done deal. This is not a proof or disproof of God. It’s a job for a theologian, not a scientist, to decide why God allows moral evil, or in fact if moral evil exists. These issues are all too touchy to just blithely plug in the conclusions in assessing the prior probability of God. That makes the process of obtaining a probability of God fairly presumptive.

[1] find,
[2] Sharon Berstch McGrayne, The Theory that would not Die: How Bayes’ Rule Cracked the Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two Centuries of Controversy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011, 3.
[3] As seen with chapter (? Disprove) by Stenger and Unwin.
[4] McGrayne op cit
[5] ibid, 61-81
[6] Geoffrey Poitras, Richard Price, Miracles and the Origin of Bayesian Decision Theory pdf$$$.pdf
Faculty of Business AdministrationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnaby, BCCANADA V5A 1S6. Geoffrey Poitras is a Professor of Finance in the Faculty of Business Administration at Simon Fraser University. Lisited 12/22/12.
[7] ibid
[8] Joe Carter, “The Probability of God” First Thoughts. Blog of publication of First Things. (August 18, 2010) URL:  visited (1/10/13). Carter points out that when Unwin (an atheist discussed in previous chapter) puts in 50% prior he gets 67% probability for God. When Cater himself does so he get’s 99%.Cater’s caveat: “Let me clarify that this argument is not intended to be used as a proof of God’s existence. The sole intention is to put in quantifiable terms the probabilities that we should form a belief about such a Being’s existence. In other words, this is not an ontological proof but a means of justifying a particular epistemic stance toward the idea of the existence or non-existence of a deity.The argument is that starting from an epistemically neutral point (50 percent/50 percent), we can factor in specific evidence for the existence or non-existence of a deity. After evaluating each line of evidence, we can determine if it is more or less likely that it would entail the existence of God.”
[9] Metacrock, "The Scale and The universal Nature of Mystical Experience," The religious a priroi blog URL: see also the major argument I sue for documentation in that article,  In P, McNamar (Ed.), Where God and science meet, Vol. 3, pp. 119-138. Westport, CT: Praeger. linked in Google preview.
[10] Stephen D. Unwin, The probability of God a Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth. New York New York: Three Rivers Press, Random House. 2003, appendix 238

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What is Spirit?

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Originally Posted by boneso View Post
Really, you said this "(1) he can't actually tell us what that means.", When i have clearly demonstrated that i can! If you can't grasp what i am teaching you then i can't help that. "Spirit" is not something we "know" about, therefore my statement is still true.

yes spirit is something we know about. try to pay attention this time.

....Atheists on CARM are at it again.  This time they assume spirit and soul are things we can't know about. "Bigthinker" (so called) says  "where is the spirit located." The major fortress of facts ploy, if we can't touch it and count it and analyze it with scinece then it cant' exist. The first proof of a thing's tangibility is locating it. So they actually expect to the spirit to be a physical object like a spleen. Spirit is something, in my view, we know exists. We know we have minds, we know mind is a quality associated with certain phenomena we all experience, that is a thing we know about even we don't understand it well. Spirit is essentially mind. In ages past people came to think of spirit as wind or breath,that's one meaning the Greek New Testament word (pneuma) conveys. Becuase of it's association with wind people came to think of the spirit as a ghost-like aspect, such as a ghost-like version of themselves inside their bodies. In the early modern times the Puritans thought of it it as a vapor. In old books on old movies we hear of sick people having "the vapors." That was an aliment related to the spirit. In my view spirit is mind, and mind is consciousness. It's not located anywhere, although it's accessed through brain apparatus. We could say it's "in the brain" but that's too physically oriented and mind is mental phenomenon. How do I know the spirit means mind? That's one meaning the Greek term of hte New Testament (pneuma) is given. The key is the association between break or wind and invisible power. Mind is also an invisible power. Let's explore the and see the connotations.
....The Classical Greek Lexicon, Liddell and Scott, gives various meanings of the word and it's cognates as "wind," breath, "breath of life."[1] Thi

 ....John W. Ritenbaugh The site Bible makes the point that the Hebew word ruach, the Greek pneuma has a common thread running between them.

A common thread runs between English "spirit," Hebrew ruach, and Greek pneuma, even when a spirit-composed being is described. "Spirit" represents something non-physical and normally invisible. We can conclude, except in the one case where "spirit," ruach, or pneuma describes a being that has revealed itself, that spirit is never seen. All that is ever seen is what spirit causes, motivates, inspires, encourages, impels, triggers, stirs, provokes, stimulates, influences, or activates. Why? Because in every other sense, except where spirit clearly means a spirit being who has revealed himself, spirit is seen as a function of the mind, whether it is God's mind, angel's mind, or man's mind. Just as we surely do not see mind, but we do see what mind does, so also we cannot see spirit but only what spirit does. As we understand it, mind is more than spirit, yet "spirit" can figuratively refer to a person's mind.

Read more:

....I turn to a conservative evangelical interdenominational sight to convey the basis of the word in order to convey the fact that even though what I say sounds very radical it's actually not so radical. This source says spirit means different things (Pumena= Greek for spirit)

In any given language, many words have at least two meanings, and some have many more than two. The Greek word pneuma, which in the New Testament is most often translated as “Spirit” or “spirit,” has many meanings. Sometimes this presents challenges to translators as they try to bring the sense into English. The chart below shows uses of pneuma in four different versions of the Bible, and reveals not only different meanings of pneuma, but how translators differ in how they deal with it.

form the same source several uses of the term that imply mind: "Pneuma is used of the individual and his attitudes, emotions, etc.

A. Pneuma is used of the individual self. Matthew 26:41 says, “...The spirit [pneuma] is willing, but the body is weak.” Here Christ was referring to the “spirit” as the individual self, not the gift of holy spirit.

B. Pneuma refers to personal emotion, attitude, thought, desire or will. 2 Corinthians 7:13 says, “...we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit [pneuma] has been refreshed by all of you.” The holy spirit born within a believer does not need refreshment. Thus, “spirit” here refers to his personal and emotional life, or possibly is used by the figure of speech Synecdoche for his entire self. Referring to attitude, Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit [pneuma]...” Obviously, “poor in spirit” does not refer to the amount of holy spirit one has received from God, but rather refers to an attitude of meekness in the mind. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently (literally “in a spirit [pneuma, i.e., attitude] of meekness...). The NIV translators recognized that holy spirit was not being referred to, and used the phrase, “restore him gently,” to refer to a humble attitude of mind.

C. Pneuma can also be used to intensify emotion. Mark 8:12a (KJV) says, “And he sighed deeply in his spirit [pneuma], and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign?” Interestingly, the NIV translators recognized that holy spirit, the gift of God in Jesus, did not sigh, but rather it was an action of the mind, from the heart of Jesus’ emotions, so they translated the verse “He sighed deeply [pneuma] and said....” “Sighed deeply” is exactly what Jesus did, represented in the Greek text as “sighed in his spirit.”

....The word study on the Truth or Tradition (above) website is actually pretty good. They present a fine chart that shows a huge list of words by which pneuma is translated and show how many times each major translation translated it that way. They show that penumbra translated as "mind" 1 in Niv and 2 in NRSV.

Pneuma on crosswalk

Crosswalk is a big Evangelical site, very fundamentalist but has a good reputation (with certain caveats[2]) for their online reference material. For the New Testament thier major lexicon is Strong's.That's the most used and standard Greek Lexicon for New Testament study. In addition to Strong's they are also using Thayer. It's from Thayer that Crosswalk get's the Trinity reference below. Corsswalk gives it's own treatment of the word based that Lexicon. Here's the definition on cross walk:


the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his personality and character (the \\Holy\\ Spirit) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his work and power (the Spirit of \\Truth\\) never referred to as a depersonalised force the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides the soul a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting a life giving spirit a human soul that has left the body a spirit higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel used of demons, or evil spirits, who were conceived as inhabiting the bodies of men the spiritual nature of Christ, higher than the highest angels and equal to God, the divine nature of Christ the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one the efficient source of any power, affection, emotion, desire, etc. a movement of air (a gentle blast) of the wind, hence the wind itself breath of nostrils or mouth Spirit (of God)13, Spirit (of the Lord)5, (My) Spirit3, Spirit (of truth)3, Spirit (of Christ)2, human (spirit)49, (evil) spirit47, spirit (general)26, spirit8, (Jesus' own) spirit6, (Jesus' own) ghost2, miscellaneous21

 From an actual online copy of Srong's,(Strong's number 4151) not some distilled version but the actual Lexicon itself:

wind, breath, things which are commonly perceived as having no material substance; by extension: spirit, heart, mind, the immaterial part of the inner person that can respond to God; spirit being: (evil) spirit, ghost, God the Holy Spirit
wind, air in motion, Jn. 3:8; breath, 2 Thess. 2:8; the substance spirit, Jn. 3:6; a spirit, spiritual being, Jn. 4:24; Acts 23:8, 9; Heb. 1:14; a bodiless spirit, specter, Lk. 24:37; a foul spirit, δαιμόνιον, Mt. 8:16; Lk. 10:20; spirit, as a vital principle, Jn. 6:63; 1 Cor. 15:45; the human spirit, the soul, Mt. 26:41; 27:50; Acts 7:59; 1 Cor. 7:34; Jas. 2:26; the spirit as the seat of thought and feeling, the mind, Mk. 8:12; Acts 19:21; spirit, mental frame, 1 Cor. 4:21; 1 Pet. 3:4; a characteristic spirit, an influential principle, Lk. 9:55; 1 Cor. 2:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; a pervading influence, Rom. 11:8; spirit, frame of mind, as distinguished from outward circumstances and action, Mt. 5:3; spirit as distinguished from outward show and form. Jn. 4:23; spirit, a divinely bestowed spiritual frame, characteristic of true believers, Rom. 8:4; Jude 19; spirit, latent spiritual import, spiritual significance, as distinguished from the mere letter, Rom. 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6, 17; spirit, as a term for a process superior to a merely natural or carnal course of things, by the operation of the Divine Spirit, Rom. 8:4; Gal. 4:29; a spiritual dispensation, or a sealing energy of the Holy Spirit, Heb. 9:14; the Holy Spirit, Mt. 3:16; 12:31; Jn. 1:32, 33; a gift of the Holy Spirit, Jn. 7:39; Acts 19:2; 1 Cor. 14:12; an operation or influence of the Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:3; a spiritual influence, an inspiration, Mt. 22:43; Lk. 2:27; Eph. 1:17; a professedly divine communication, or, a professed possessor of a spiritual communication, 1 Cor. 12:10; 2 Thess. 2:2; 1 Jn. 4:1, 2, 3
 Of course Strong's derives its definitions from it's use in the New Testament. The uses of mind above deal with translations in the New Testament where spirit is used in the sense of an attitude, such "the spirit of the pioneers." It's not a commentary on the actual intention of meaning in the Greek word itself. The literal words means wind. The context is what decides the issue between literal wind that blows in the sky and something beyond the natural such as a ghost or spirit. The problem is doesn't define what is meant by spirit. So if we talk about having such a thing as a spirit we are going to talk about what we think the implications are based upon what the ancients are talking about and how they use it. If we take out undermentioned references to things that can't be proved such as references to "spirit' and "soul" and use the word in relation to what we know exits, all the uses, as seen above, pertain to things regarding the mind, attitude, perceptions. consciousness. If we examine the Hebrew term we find an even stronger connection to mind.
the Heberw term Rauch also spirit, is defined in various ways involving mind, that comes in several lexicons:

Ruach is defined in the following Hebrew lexicons:

Brown-Driver-Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon (pages 924-26):breath; wind (kinds of winds, quarters or directions of heaven); spirit (temper, disposition, vivacity, vigour, courage, impatience, etc.); seat of emotion (desire, sorrow, trouble); the will (=lev, heart); spirit of God (activity in inspiring prophets, the ancient angel of the presence and later Shekina, divine presence).

William Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (pages 334-35): air in motion, blowing; wind, what is empty or transitory, spirit, mind; breath; directions; spirit of man; mind, disposition, temper; spirit of God.

Samuel Tregelles, Gesenius' Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (pages 760-61): spirit, breath, air in motion, breeze, wind; direction or quarter of heaven; life, the vital principle; animus, rational mind, seat of affections; disposition (thinking), will and counsel, intellect; Spirit of God, Holy Spirit, divine Spirit: peculiar endowments of mind.

Alexander Harkavy, Students' Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary of the Old Testament (pages 661-62): air; wind, breeze; vanity; side, quarter (of heavens); breath; vital breath (spirit, life); spirit (versus flesh, invisible power of God, of inspired prophets); mind, purpose; courage.

 ...What we have here is a situation in which the actual intent of the word can't be gotten at because the definition is metaphor. The literal meaning is wind but that's too literal for define spirit, because we are given to understand that spirit is some kind of invisible force that is only metaphorically depicted as wind. Aside from 'wing" the only tangible meaning the word is translated by is mind, or aspects having to do with perceptions or consciousness (which means related to mind). Some expositors relate it to personal awareness or consciousness in relating it to the Holy Spirit, but that is relation to mind. The word is cross referenced with it's use in Hebrew, which also is a metaphor of wind and also relates to mind and other things. The real relationship is that of invisible power. We can think about it in primitive terms and posit a ghost-like entity or we can think in modern practical terms and understand it as mind which we know exists and which need not be proved in taht sense, even though we don't understand that much about it.   

 ....Modern New age types can run wild with this idea, and they have. German idealism made a more intellgent use of this concept. Schweitzer spoke of spirit as mind as a matter of course. Such ideas need not be linked with new age or occult notions.  

[1] Liddell and Scott's Greek-Enlighs Lexicon. Oxford:At the Clarendon Press, abridged, 1983, 566-67.
this is the version Greek students call "baby bare."

[2]  The major problems with Strong's is it's tendency to take the doctrinal gloss along with the translation. Because it derives meaning from translations it doesn't' screen doctrinal spin produced by a doctrinally biased translation. This is especially bad in study  of women and chruch authority. I always back it up with Liddell and Scott to get the secular (classical) understanding which is free from doctrinal bias but it's also sometimes lacking in scriptural understanding.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Difference God Makes: Reverse Design Argument

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On carm just before Christmas an atheist called "1337" argues:

I contend that the theistic version of god doesn't exist. Why do I say this? Because the assertion that there is a personal god seems to be baseless. In fact, it is christian apologists that eroded my faith away. They continue to make qualifications about why it seems that god does nothing, until eventually the view that god exists is no different from the view that he doesn't exist.

People assert that god makes a difference in their lives. My question to you is, what would the world look like if that god didn't exist? What differences would we notice?

(NOTE: If anyone responds by saying "without god the world couldn't exist at all" I'll just ignore it, that's not the point of the discussion)

In the discussion that ensued this turned into a reverse design argument. Its' reversal because he's saying basically that Chrsitians can show anything that would actually be different if there wasn't a God.

I made two criticisms. They have booth gone unanswered.

(1) It's the same mistake the design argument makes, it doesn't have another universe to compare to.

(2) It treats belief in God as though it's just adding a fact to the universe in tread of a whole other universe. Belief in God entails a totally different universe than the one atheists believe in.

The Second issue is the one I will focus upon: the "reverse design argument."

The reverse design argument does exactly what the design argument does, which is probably reason enough to disregard it; it reasons form the apparent state of the world to the probable non existence of God. If it is illogical to reason form the world to God, it is equally illogical to reason from the world to not God. For this reason I swore off design arguments years ago. I have violated that oath twice, but for good reason (I'll get to those in a minute). In any case, there is a great deal wrong with this argument, and in figuring up all the many problems I see it I began to think of two things:

(1) Perhaps it would be instructive to delineate the cases under which one can argue from the state of the world to the existence of God.

(2) In pondering this question, I began to think about perhaps what might be the ultimate God argument.

If you think about it almost all probabilistic arguments are really arguing from the state of the world to the probable existence of God. But somehow this seem less drastic in some cases than others. I know there are those who just turn off at any kind of God argument. But for us Connoisseurs of God arguments, this should be a thorny issue. After all, what's the real difference between arguing form the contingency of the world, and arguing from the design of the world? Well, off hand the real difference is that one can be compared to something, the other can't. That's one of the major problems with this atheist argument, which was advanced at one point by Richard Carrier. We do not have a designed universe to compare ours to, so we don't know what we are observing, design or random development?

The argument says if we were to consider a random universe that came about by accident, you couldn't do better than our own. It really looks accidental. Life is precarious and rare, the universe is very hostile to it. It's vast, far more vast than it has to be. On the one tiny oasis we know of where life took root it blossomed into something as glorious as Richard Carrier's ego, we have no really obvious clue that God exists. If we were to consider what a purposeful logical creator would do we should expect sign posts to his existence everywhere, right? Well, maybe. maybe not. That's the problem the argument is nothing more than begging the question. It assumes we know what God would do, and after constructing a straw man God who behaves the way we want him to, we just assume we know what he would do and than access the tragic fact that it hasn't been done. So by golly, there must not be a God, because this non God doesn't' follow my advice! Of course the model for his straw God is fundamentalism. Atheists are so afraid to take on liberal theology honestly, but it's because they are all secretly fundamentalists. What I mean by that is they are the "tails" to the fundies "heads." Like communist and anti-communists, they are both parts of the same thing.

The difference in this argument and one that actually has something to compare, a base line from which to work, should be obvious. The atheist who argues for Carrier's idea must forge his own base line by setting up a straw man (um, God) and then privileging his assumptions about the nature of religion in such a way that he just nixes the possibly of any other kind of theology. That's not a real comparison. The fine tuning argument can compare fine tuning to lack thereof, compare target levels to the actual mark that is hit. The contingency arguments (quantum and other forms of cosmology) can compare contingency to necessity. Religious experience arguments are drawn from the results of experience, they compare experience to non experience. The two instances in which I do use design arguments are those in which comparisons can be made between the nature of the world and state of existence known to lack that attribute as known non designed reality; the use of the "God Pod" as evoking innate ideas. We can compare reactions to God talk to other kinds of talk and see that our brains only react to God talk in the way that they do. Thus we can compare the innate ideas of God to reactions to other ideas. The other instance is the fine tuning argument,which has already been explained. But the Carrier reverse design argument has nothing to compare except Ricard's idea of what he thinks God should do. With that as the standard for assumptions, we have no basis upon which to draw conclusions about the nature of God from the state of the universe.

This argument does have one other troubling application. It could be a "possible defeater" for proper basically. To be properly basic an idea must be logically apprehended as it is, with no possible alternative explanations, or "defeaters." The argument is a possible defeater only if we understand it to be indicative of the kind of universe God would not make. But we can't make that assumption because we can't pretend to know all the things God would do. Once can find many alternative theological explanations that involve both Evangelical views of God and non Evangelical views. The most obvious non Evangelical view is that of process theology. The atheist can only think of God as a big man upstairs. This is the basic image they rebel against. The will of the father is their Kryptonite. They foresee a big man on a throne who decides and deliberates such a potentate wants to be served, they reason, and thus must make a universe in which he is known commonly to all. So we should expect the universe to be smaller, easier to navigate, easier to understand, filled with sign posts of God. No disease, no problems and everyone automatically given tons of faith so the world would be a paradise. If some serpent spoiled it, it should be put right immediately so that we can go on in our little heavens, where no doubt we get to listen to Richard Dawkins directing the chores of angels.

The God of process theology, on the other hand, is more like the Hegeian dialectic, or like some organizing principle. This is not a God deliberates and decides. this is a God who is potential in one realm, and who micro manages (literally) creation in the other; almost a law of physics, changing with creation, bringing subatomic particles into being and ushering them out of being. This is more of a stage director in the play of the universe (and in other bipolar structure stage director and producer) than a big king on a throne. Such a God would start the process of life and allow it go where it will, then embrace (to whatever extent possible) any beings that evolve sufficiently to come up to its level.

Another version would be my own idea of God as being itself (Tillich's idea--). This version of God is much like the process God, but I fell that God is too sacred a mystery to pin down to bipolar structures or to analyze all of "his" ("her," "its") doings. God is the great wholly (Holy) other. WE cannot know except through mystical union what God is doing. But such a God is the basis upon which being proceeds into concrescence and the basic reality of the Platonic forms. Such a God does not design or make plans, but the whole of creation is a non deliberating plan in the sense of being an expression of God's charter indwell; yet not necessity the result of raciocentination. Thus God starts a principle of life emerging from the nature of being, because that's what being does it spreads the beings, it "let's be" (John Mcquarrie). The evolutionary course that is followed may be assisted in an automatic sort of way, not as a plan, not as a deliberate gesture, but as the result of a nature that has to manifest itself creatively. This being doesn't' say "I will make men, and men will serve me." But men evolve out of the storm and the wastes of the abyss and they naturally come to find God because that's the nature of being, it is there to be found in the sense of the numinous. When humanity reaches a point where it comprehends the numinous, it seeks God and finds God.

Humanity finds God in a million different places. It finds God in flowers and trees, in brooks (and in books), in grass, in each other. It finds God in storms and scary things, and in the night. It finds God in the sky and the stars in the darkness of a vast and endless expanse. It reaches out for what is there because it has been put into it to do so; not because God sat and said "I will make men and men will seek me" but because God provided for the reality of the Imago Dei to evolve and develop in whatever species reached the point where humanity has come to. God did this automatically as an aspect of self expression, as an outgrowth of consciousness. This kind of God would make a universe of the type we see around us. This type of God would also place in that universe hints so that whatever species reaches that level that God's manifestation would be waiting to show them God's solidarity with them. God would plant a thousand clues, not as a matter of deliberation like one plants Easter eggs, but as the result of being what God is--self communicating and creative. Thus we have design arguments and fine tuning arguments, and contingencies and necessities and the lot. We can find the God Pod in our heads that lights up when it hears God ideas. We can do studies and determine that our religious experiences are better for us than unbelief, because the clues are endless because the universe bears the marks of its creator.

Yet these marks are sublet for a reason. This is where the Evangelical view of God can also be a sophisticated view. The Evangelical God can also be the God of Tillich and the God of process, after all, these are all derived from the same tradition and the Evangelicals have as much right to escape anthropomorphism as anyone. The Evangelical God seeks a moral universe. This God wants believers who have internalized the values of the good. We do not internalize that which we are forced to acknowledge. Thus God knows that a search in the heart is better to internalizing values than is a rational formally logical argument, or a scientific proof. Thus we have a soteriological drama in which we can't tell if there is or is not a God just by looking at the nature of nature. That must remain neutral and must enlighten us because it is not given to us to have direct and absolute knowledge of God. Knowledge of God is a privilege. We must seek it through the heart, that's where it is to be found. It's a privilege but faith is a gift.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Moer Exchagne with Adrea

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Chris Andrea Writes again with a much longer post. I promised to answer again. Actually I'm glad because I had no martial for today.
Anonymous said...

1)He says that Christians equate "meaning of life" with belief in God. He wonders why they are so slavish waiting for others to set for them the meaning of life.
That's a silly position to take, it's just name calling basically. If he doesn't understand why we say that God gives us meaning than he can't ridicule it as "slavish." Slavery is involuntary, it's a matter of force. We don't say necessity is enslaving. Are we enslaved by gravity? We could say we are but is the reason we jump off high buildings becuase we are just slaves to gravity? If we decided we hate gravity and we are going to mock and ridicule it would there be a different outcome from jumping off a tall building? God gives meaning because he's the basis of all that is. Everything was created by God. If God has a purpose in creation then obviously that purpose is meaning. The kind of meaning that atheist think they have is relative and fleeting. When you are dead you are dead and whatever meaning your life had it had only for you and when you are gone it has no meaning at all. Chrsitain meaning is eternal it's forever because the creator of all things ordains it.

2)He then says some things I agree, for example dont live your life just to see an aim accomplished but be excited and satisfied by the whole effort no matter the result. Or other things like the fact that pleasure is temporary. But saying that pleasure is temporary I think he tries to water down his previous statement of hailing pleasure: "drink,eat and dont ask why you do it cause you lose the game and you exchange this unique life you have with a nonexistent "promised afterlife".
That's sounds really simple minded. It sounds like he's saying close your eyes stick your fingers in your har deaden your hear tot God and never mind what's true. Maybe he has a more profound idea in mind but that's what it sounds like. Why miss meaning? God is the greatest thing in life. Feeling God's presence (which atheist write off as anything form pretense to lunacy) is proved by a huge body of empirical research to be transformational and healing and the best thing for us. The joy it brings to know God and feel his presence is the greatest gift in all of life. It's the most precious thing there is. It was be utterly stupid to miss that just because of some ideogical BS a bout being independent or seeking your own selfish little way or something.

That's really the bottom line for atheists. I've demonstrated this and it's backed by empirical reserach. Many atheists hate themselves so they hate God and that's the basis or their rejection of God. I'm not that doesn't account for the motivations of all atheists. It does fit a sizable number. What exactly the number I don't know. I think it's a lot becuase if I'm right about that self loathing manifesting itself in bulling of religious people, they there must be a lot of it.

3)Something we forgot! Morality! He makes a subtle argument about it. He says that morality exists apart from God or laws and that if it was coming from God, then He would consider good or bad whatever he wishes. He gives the example of human laws that come after morality exists and are usually based upon morality. That is to say, laws can be moral but they are not the creator of morality. The same as saying God is moral, but He didn't create morality. 
It's silly to suppose that God didn't create morality. If God is real and if the Chrsitain tradition is a valid reflection of God's mind in anyway then we can assume that God did create morality and that it's based upon his character. I think morality is based upon love it' an outgrowth of the human capacity to love and that in itself is the result of being made in God's image. When he talks about morality he's talking about moral laws and ethical codes. Those are man made but they reflect the image of God in which we are created, they stem from man's capacity to order, to love, to feel empathetic. These are all from God. We can't prove this by examining those things themselves but we have valid reasons to believe in God and having such reasons then we have a good justification for assuming so. It's sort of a package deal.

Then that we make on our own our moral choices, no matter if we obey to the command of God, as Abraham did. And finally, I think he considers our personal experience the creator of morality. For example we know what pain is if we have subjectively experienced it, so we want to help others and we dont want others to suffer in the same way we dont want ourselves to suffer. We dont want to do to others what we dont like other doing to us.
I think our empathic ability is part of the image of God in which we are created. There's really no reason in nature why we are conscious. We should actually be robots with no personal will or individual identity yet we have this. I think God is the source of the personal.

Some of my thoughts.
But he says not a word about how a mechanistic unconscious universe would bear consciousness and morality. How a simple or complex unconsciousness can bear consciousness and intelligence, the ability to dinstict from what is good and bad, useful or harmful.
 Ah, yes you see! Great minds think alike! Very good.

For example a house doesnt care if someone brings it down. How and why then an unsconscious "life"(if we accept the lie of abiogenesis) would be conscious and moral? Is morality a property arising from chemicals? Lol.
Yes, yes!

Ok. I hope I wrote interesting things for study. I also want to study your notion of "metaphysical". Just a question on this. Why its not also a literal place we just cant go or see with our current machines?(our bodies who are sensitive to a specific range of frequencies) Do you remember Paul saying he was caught on the 3rd heaven? This seems above the physical heaven. I may say you some details about it another time.

yes you did.

As for me, I believe in the geocentric model although I respect other beliefs, but I dont rush to bown down to atheistic science and marry it with religion.
what? you don't mean sun goes around the earth do you? No, you can't mean that.

Have a good day and thank you very much for your help

Chris Andrea
you too.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Will We Enjoy the After Life?

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A couple of years ago I did a review of an atheist book someone sent me, Answering Baggini's Short Intro to Atheism, (Monday, 17 Nov. 2008) Julian Baggini was the author. Today Chris Andrea sent me a comment to that post asking some questions about my views on it.

 A main question I have(reply here if you wish) is about his statement that the idea of "eternal life" cancels the notion of a purposeful life. He says that this is true for 2 reasons
1)Everything that has a beginning must have an end in order to be meaningful, for example a movie, a book, a football match
2) If life was eternal and not short, we would cancel things for the next day. We wouldnt run to accomplish aims in our lives and maybe it would be boring.

Also something I thought on my own. If everyone was happy, full and satisfied and no wars or fights for spiritual or material goods (that we were missing) were held, would it be boring then? I mean does "fight" for something gives a meaningful life, in contrast with someone who already lives in paradise and possesses whatever it wants? Could life in paradise be boring?

....As an overview on both questions I would say that he is considering the matter as though eternal life means a never ending continence of life as we know it on earth. So he's measuring the idea by the standards we know of temporal existence. Of cousre that would not fit. If eternal life is timeless then it would never get old or seem stale becuase it would be lived out with no reference to time. We would be there as long the first second as a billion years. Those would in fact be meaningless references.
....As to the first of the two statements: Everything that has a beginning must have an end in order to be meaningful, for example a movie, a book, a football match

(1) of course look what he's comparing it to: football, movies, temporal things of this life. If we are going by a life transformed by God in eternity how can it compare? it's judged by earthly life.
(2) It's a kind of arbitrary point. All we have to judge it by is temporal existence and that's where you have beginning and endings. Judged by temporal life.
(3) how can we know that eternal life has a beginning? Paul says we are seated in heavnly place, we are already there. The lamb is already slain from the foundation of the world, we are already chosen. Not that I'm not a Calvinist but there is something to be said for the timeless perceptive of God, which we can't understand.
....The second point he makes: If life was eternal and not short, we would cancel things for the next day. We wouldnt run to accomplish aims in our lives and maybe it would be boring. That's a really goofy one becuase it assuming that life is set up in the after life as it is here. We would have appointments and time  limits in an eternal existence. Why would we need that if we are freed form the bonds of time? Talk of boredom assumes temporal existence. We will be transformed by eternal life, we have resurrection bodies (if indeed they are actual bodies at all). We wont be flesh and blood, we want the same capacity for boredom or the same needs for stimulation. Most importantly of all we will be beholding God directly, that in itself will be enough to keep us busy always.
....The point Chris makes is along the same lines of my thinking. We wont be bored becuase we will be transformed by God and the eternal nature of it all. Boredom is a function of temporal existence. the idea of struggle giving meaning is true of this life, but would we need that to have meaning in the next life when we would have direct communion with the source of all love and goodness and meaning? We would be directly in the presence of meaning itself so to speak. Not that meaning is a platonic form but God is the basis of all meaning. Besides the fact that our struggles would be validated by salvation would be enough to feel complete becuase we would have the pay off.
....I think think there is something wrong with atheists who try make these kinds of arguments and try to judge eternity and God by the what we know of the temporal. Is there some missing dimension form their thinking that makes it hard for the really conceptualize anything different from what they know?
....Speaking of that I will take this opportunity to into my own private fantasy about haven. This is not something I claim to prove, although if I looked I might find a basis for it. I've sort developed a sneaking suspicion that the classic streets of gold and playing harps wont be the thing. Those are metaphors. Although I do hope there will be an eternal praising God session in a literal throne room, that would be like a great charismatic worship service, those are fun. I see it now, "back after never going away, by popular demand, more parsing God!" yea! I think we will be hooked up together telepathically and able to travel across the universe in an instant. We can watch crab nebula form one minutes and speed across the universe to watch a super nova the next. We will drink ambrosia in celestial coffee shops, where angles waitress. Heavenly advertizement: "Could 9 Ambrosia is cloud grown the richest kind."

who knows? who cares. I don't give a damn if i have to scrub the floors, I'm going!

Monday, February 04, 2013

More Rumination on God and Love: is God Syonimous with Love or Is it Part of His Character?

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On my boards poster "miles" quotes me:

mdsimpson92 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:57 pm
Metacrock wrote:At that time, I alluded to the linguistic-conceptual hangups of certain forms of God language. To repeat and enhance that idea, it is better to think of God as water, as a spring forming a stream. It would be better to think in terms of currents within an ocean, but that is too difficult and abstract for non-mariners and non-wayfarers.

This stream is the source and substance of what we think of as reality, a stream of consciousness, if I may adapt that term. This in turn is perceived as matter and energy, but in truth, those are just descriptions of perceptions of something more fundamental that appear to vary in speed or concentration.

he says:
Perhaps, I would prefer the Augustine concept of a vast ocean of conciousness and we are the salt. It does seem to match up well with your belief in God as consciousness. I do have one question, In this case does God equal Love or is that simply an intrinsic part of him? I ask this because I have also heard you claim that God is consciousness and when I think of love I think of it as a part of the mind (not to be confused with brain)
Julia: It's all... a dream...
Spike Spiegel: Yeah... just a dream...

Re: On God and Love

Postby Metacrock on Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:49 am
good Question Miles: is love a constituent part or is it ignominious with the whole?

If the former then that raises questions about God as a construct rather than an eternal reality. if God is made of parts that opens the door to questions like where do the parts come form, were they always together?

If the latter, one wonders if it makes coherent sense. How can a "thing" be synonymous with an emotion?

It just seems like if God has a character that's too much like having a personality. To answer these questions we would have to know more about God, which we can't know presumably. I think when say things like "God's character is love" I'm saying the way he seems to act toward us and the feeling I get from what I think is contact with God feels like to love to me. Thus I describe it as "character." When I say God is synonymous with love, God is love, I'm saying the basis of love is God. No god would mean no love. Love is not just an emotion that's produced by brain chemistry (after all there's no reason why we should even be conscious--love is the will to the good of the other, so it's a value and an act of will, an ideal).

If God is consciousness (the source of consciousness and conscious) that consciousness must will the good of the other. That's part of what we might call character.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Do we Priviledge God in a God argument?

  photo life_wheel_6x4.png

This is a Spin-off from the piece I did on Atheist Watch yesterday, an answer to atheist blogger Christopher Hallquist on his thing "there are no good God arguments." The discussion I'm having about that is with Fleetmouse on my boards.

Here I want to UN-brackett one issue that's mentioned in that piece on AW and that is privileging God in a God argument. The atheist argument says if we as "why is there something rather than noting" there's an implicit understanding that says "because God created it." Or if we say how did the universe get here we  are just assuming "who made the universe?" as the basis of the question. Here is my exchange with Fleetmouse (aka Magaritte).

Magritte wrote:
Metacrock wrote:(4) He asserts that God arguments privilege the Hypothesis.

Metacrock, I'm going to quote the part about "privileging the hypothesis" because it applies strongly to your Pascal's Wager argument -

Privileging the hypothesis

The mistake that’s so common in arguments for the existence of God is what Eliezer Yudkowsky called “Privileging the hypothesis” [6] He explains by way of an example:

[iSuppose that the police of Largeville, a town with a million inhabitants, are investigating a murder in which there are few or no clues—the victim was stabbed to death in an alley, and there are no fingerprints and no witnesses.

Then, one of the detectives says, “Well… we have no idea who did it… no particular evidence singling out any of the million people in this city… but let’s consider the hypothesis that this murder was committed by Mortimer Q. Snodgrass, who lives at 128 Ordinary Ln. It could have been him, after all.”[/i]

we have particular evidence. I give it all the time. it has never answers, most of it has never been read. I have a lot of it I talk about it a lot and 90% of the objections to it are about me not the evidence.

Yudkowsky claims that if the detectives do this, they are not only guilty of bad reasoning, they’re violating Mortimer’s rights. He elaborates a little further:

first of all I think we have right to privilege the God hypothesis. we are 90% of humanity, we have a ton of evidence, and it's a fundamental revitalization. ti's not just a mild dispute about one more item in the universe it's a profoundly person existential view point of life and the meaning of it. It's something of which others can't disprove and have no right to critique.

Mag (siting Halq)
It’s human nature to look for confirmation rather than disconfirmation.

that is as much true in your disbelief especially if one believes that the existence of X entails "I will burn forever." that's a pretty powerful motive to see the evidence in a certain light.

Suppose that three detectives each suggest their hated enemies, as names to be considered; and Mortimer is brown-haired, Frederick is black-haired, and Helen is blonde. Then a witness is found who says that the person leaving the scene was brown-haired. “Aha!” say the police. “We previously had no evidence to distinguish among the possibilities, but now we know that Mortimer did it!”

How does this apply to religion?

it doesn't. it (You) assume all believers are apologists and all they want is to win arguemnts. there is no realization that i was an atheist. I would still be one if had not found dramatic hard hitting undeniable evidence that I could not dispute. this is part of privileging atheism the fact of not making this assumption, refusing to make (the assumption that I have a good reason) is part of privileging atheism.

you and he want to assume all believers are idiots, we have no good reasons to believe we just doing it cause your parents told us to. when you hear the dramatic story your immediate habit to assume 'this can't be true becuase it contradicts what I define as "reality." then "but I'm pillaging my position." that's that the term means. you are doing that.

This is just the same fallacy committed, on a much more blatant scale, by the theist who points out that modern science does not offer an absolutely complete explanation of the entire universe, and takes this as evidence for the existence of Jehovah. Rather than Allah, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or a trillion other gods no less complicated—never mind the space of naturalistic explanations!

I pointed this out in my thing you didn't notice it this answer is given (the one about scinece above) in regard to the atheist fortress of facts, not as a proof of God. the atheist everything is a proof. arguments are built piece by piece.

moreover we find the usual atheist divide and conquer BS. They want to confuse different traditions with having different gods. then to assume since these are different Gods the evidence for one can't support the evidence for the other. yes they can if we talking about the creator, eternal necessary, creating, that's why I said they don't get the triangle arguemnt. See any triangle is a triangle it doesn't matter if it' red or green or blue or yellow or if it's made out play do or one of those triangle pool things or a triangle in a ranch house one rings as a dinner bell, they are all about the same shape. the triangle shape is the same one no matter what form it takes.

To talk about “intelligent design” whenever you point to a purported flaw or open problem in evolutionary theory is, again, privileging the hypothesis—you must have evidence already in hand that points to intelligent design specifically in order to justify raising that particular idea to our attention, rather than a thousand others…

that only applies to one argument (one I dont' use). He has it that if you clear away the clutter by not using bad arguments then somehow you are saying there are no good arguments. that dosent' follow. the existence of bad arguments doesn't invalidate good arguments.

Someone who spends all day thinking about whether the Trinity does or does not exist, rather than Allah or Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is more than halfway to Christianity. If leaving, they’re less than half departed; if arriving, they’re more than halfway there.

I covered that. I don't you read my post Fleet. did you? (if he spends all day thinking about maybe he has a good reason to think it's true. you say that as though ti's a shameful thing that puts him in a position of ridicule "O he spends all his time thinking about silly things" as it were. Then maybe after thnking about them all the time he would know they are not so silly.

We can make an even analogy to the detectives who wrongly focused on Mortimer, Frederick, and Helena when they really needed to pick the culprit out of the million people in Largeville. Imagine someone trying to figure out what the world is like, but completely ignoring countless possibilities, and instead focusing all their attention on Christianity (as expounded by their beloved pastor Mike), atheism (as expounded by Professor McInfidel) and Islam (as expounded by their beloved pastor Mike).

When one proposes open ended ideas about the universe to atheist they mostly scoff and say "O tha's just made up stuff." We want emprical evicdnece, emprical is the only way to know things. Then when the need arises we don't need empirical we can be open ended with it suits atheism. Materialists and science make the same assumptions about the rules being the same everywhere. It is certainly possible to conceive of God in Chrsitains outside the box. That's what I've been about for several years now.

I don’t know that anyone ever explicitly reasons that way, but terrible arguments for the existence of God like O’Reilly’s start to make a bit of sense if people are doing something like this on some level. If Pastor Mike’s account of Islam seems unattractive and Professor McInfidel can’t explain where the moon came from, that’s a win for Christianity According to Mike… if you started off with only those three options.

O'Rilie is an idiot and we should not expect his arguemnts to be good. this is clearly guilt by association. he's trying to taint the use of Hartshonre with this doufous. he wants the reader to say "O O'Riely is not good so I guess this Aquinas guy is no good either."

Or, as I pointed out in chapter 1, disproving philosophical views like naturalism doesn’t prove there are any gods. But if you wrongly consider too few options at the start, disproving naturalism can look like a big win for Christianity According to Mike, since Professor McInfidel is a naturalist.

yes actually it helps to. Its' not proof in itself but it establishes a framework in which God would be a more likely answer than naturalistic answers.

A third big offender of this sort is the argument from design, which claims that we can somehow show that the life on Earth and/or the universe was designed, and from there infers God. The most obvious problem with this argument is that there’s no reason a designer would have to be much like the God of Christianity, Judaism or Islam. But privileging the God hypothesis makes the mistake understandable.

  Halquist doesn't deal with fine tunning. That is important becuase it gives us a way around the typical design argument prboelm. I usually don't use design arguments becuase we don't have a designed universe to compare it to. With the fine tuning argument, however, we have the target levels and all that is not the target level that enables comparison. Moreover, the whole thing is really the same as the scientific assumption that the rules are everywhere the same. Without that assumption they can't theorize about string theory or multiverses. They have no empirical proof of these things.

 So point of all of this being that we are privileging God in a God argument no more so than scinece is privileging an ideology of materialism or than atheists privilege atheism, and maybe we have a right to make some assumptions.