Monday, April 29, 2013

Does a New Study Find Religous Beleif Leads to Emotional Problems?

 photo Holy_Grail_God_small_0.gif

....I fully expect to find atheists saying this of the study discussed in The Huffington Post 04/24/2013, "Religion and Mental Health, New Study Links in 'Punative God' to emotional problems," to say this. The story is done by By .
....They Study was Published in the Journal of Religion and Health.[1] It shows that people who believe in an angry vengeful God are likely to suffer form mental health issues such as anxiety, paranoia and obsessive thinking. Sample included 1,426 Americans and the methodology consisted of  poll. They divided the people into three groups; angry God people, loving God people, indifferent God people (deist). Of course they found that the most problems were in the angry God group. Naturally there is no comparison to no God people, the study in Huff was complete with the obligatory admission "it's only a coloration, no attempt was made to look at cause.
....It actually  sounds pretty hallow. No comparison to those who don't believe in God, while other studies find people who experience God in a meaningful way* have much less depression and mental illness than those who don't, including atheists. Other studies find that Atheists suffer greater sense of low self esteem.[2] [3]The finding people who believe in a vengeful God are paranoid and obsessed sounds more like a value judgement on the part of the researchers. The researchers say not only that it's just a  correlation but also they can't really tell which way the causality flows: “We don't know whether it was the poorer mental health (anxiety, paranoia) that caused subjects to perceive God as punitive, or whether it was the view of God as punitive that caused the poor mental health.” [4]

The study Abstract Springer:

This study examines the association between beliefs about God and psychiatric symptoms in the context of Evolutionary Threat Assessment System Theory, using data from the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey of US Adults (N = 1,426). Three beliefs about God were tested separately in ordinary least squares regression models to predict five classes of psychiatric symptoms: general anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. Belief in a punitive God was positively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, while belief in a benevolent God was negatively associated with four psychiatric symptoms, controlling for demographic characteristics, religiousness, and strength of belief in God. Belief in a deistic God and one’s overall belief in God were not significantly related to any psychiatric symptoms.[5]
....This is hardly groundbreaking research. It's a good contribution to a huge body of research. The findings have already been done. Many times in other studies. They have been linked to atheists as well. Francis established the positive correlation between belief in God and good self esteem.[6] There's a much larger body of work that discusses the issues of self esteem and God image. Ralph Peidmont wrote about that body of work in his book Research into the Social Scientific Study of Religion volume 16.[7] He also discusses Francis's work. In that study (Francis) Peidmont quotes a positive correlation is established between good self esteem and a positive God image, that is a loving accepting God. Peidmont also quotes Bentson and Spilka persons with high levels of self esteem may fin it hard to get across to those with low self esteem that God is loving.

Persons with high levels of self esteem may find it difficult to share the same religious belief. A theology predicated upon a loving accepting God is cognitively compatible with high self esteem, but it could be a source of discomfort for a believer low in self esteem. It does not make good cognitive sense to be loved when one is unlovable. Consequently the latter person can march to a different theology, one that is more consistent with his self image. (Benson and Spilka 209-210).[8]

I've often wondered why atheists seem so much more hostile to those carrying a message a positive loving God than they do toward the old fire and brimstone fundies. Why don't they say "O good this is what I've been wanting?" Some actually sort of intimate this but this really explains the reaction of most of them. Ralph Hood invented the M Scale is one of the major sources I draw upon in my arguments about religious experience. Spilka was his co-Author in their book on the study of religious experience and empirical methods.[9]
....Studies show that increased religious commitment, not just experience of God's presence, but chruch attendance as a measure of commitment result in greater health beneifits including mental health.


"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."[10]

Peidmont shows that the literature on self esteem and God image is very complex and voluminous. There are trails that lead nowhere in that body of work. There are correlations between belief in God and low self esteem. When they correct for negative God image vs. positive they find the correlation is strong. This research is nothing new. Nor is it a negation of the positions I've argue for. I never said that any sort of belief in God is always positive. We should understand the nature of God as loving. The sever austere angry God that wants to fry everyone is going to produce negative results because it's not the truth about  God. Now we need to be rational beings and balance our egos. The ego is supposed to balance between the superego and id. So we can't be into a God who is so loving and kind that he has nothing to say and always gives us what we want and never get's upset no matter what we do. That's a mommy God, our servant. We don't want a God who is always demanding the rent. We the true and living God, God of Jesus whose love is never separated from us but who wants us to be good ground to grow fruit of the spirit in.
...I think atheists fear that emotions are a link to mental illness becuase they don't understand emotions. They think bottling them up and pretending they don't exist and pretending all their decisions are rational and logical is the key to mental health. Emotions are not mental illness. Venting them is probably better for mental health then keeping them bottled up. Emotions are not proof either. Emotions are the side effect. My religious experience arguments are not based upon feeling tingly. The tingly feeling is a side effect of sensing God's presence. The proof is the long term effects on things like mental health. How are we supposed to know that we have experienced God's presence if we don't mark it in some way? If it doesn't' stand out form other daily waking hours how are we supposed to take note of it's effects? So the side effect of emotion is important an healthy it helps us understand something important has been discovered and experienced. A huge body of studies shows us that religious expedience is not linked to mental illness.

1).Effects indicate that Mystical expereince cannot be reduced to Mental Illness.

Mental illness is usually either treatable or progressive (gets worse), but it is not positive over a long term. Mentally ill people do not gian long lasting postive effects from thier illness that gives them a heightend sense of well being and lasts for long term. Mental illness does not improve the sense of self-actualization or make one a "whole" person. Religious experience does this and mystical expereince or "peak experience" so so all the more. Evidence to document this point is found above under argument III, but more studies can also be sited.[see above, Larson, The Faith Factor, Study search]

2) No relationship Mysticism and Mental Illness.

[Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.]

Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration (unpublished paper 1992)
Jayne Gackenback

"Scientific interest in the mystical experience was broadened with the research on psychoactive drugs. The popular belief was that such drugs mimicked either mystical states and/or schizophrenic ones (reviewed in Lukoff, Zanger & Lu, 1990). Although there is likely some physiological similarity as well as phenomenological recent work has shown clear differences. For instance, Oxman, Rosenberg, Schnurr, Tucker and Gala (1988) analyzed 66 autobiographical accounts of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug experiences, and mystical ecstasy as well as 28 control accounts of important personal experiences. They concluded that the: "subjective experiences of schizophrenia, hallucinogenic drug-induced states, and mystical ecstasy are more different from one another than alike" (p. 401).

(Ibid) "Relatedly, Caird (1987) found no relationship between reported mystical experience and neuroticism, psychoticism and lying while Spanos and Moretti (1988) found no relationship between a measure of mystical experience and psychopathology."

a. Trend toward positive view among psychologists.

Spiriutal Emergency


"Offsetting the clinical literature that views mystical experiences as pathological, many theorists (Bucke, 1961; Hood, 1974, 1976; James, 1961; Jung, 1973; Laski, 1968; Maslow, 1962, 1971; Stace, 1960; Underhill, 1955) have viewed mystical experiences as a sign of health and a powerful agent of transformation."

b. Most clinicians and clinical studies see postive.
"Results of a recent survey (Allman, et al,. 1992) suggest that most clinicians do not view mystical experiences as pathological. Also, studies by several researchers have found that people reporting mystical experiences scored lower on psychopathology scales and higher on measures of psychological well-being than controls (Caird, 1987; Hood, 1976, 1977, 1979; Spanos and Moretti, 1988)".

c. Incidence rate suggests no pathology.

"Numerous studies assessing the incidence of mystical experience (Back and Bourque, 1970; Greeley, 1974, 1987; Hay and Morisy, 1978; Hood, 1974, 1975, 1977; Thomas and Cooper, 1980) all support the conclusion that 30-40% of the population do have such experiences, suggesting that they are normal rather than pathological phenomena. In addition, a recent survey (Allman et al., 1992) has demonstrated that the number of patients who bring mystical experiences into treatment is not insignificant. Psychologists in full-time practice were asked to estimate the percentage of their clients over the past 12 months who had reported a mystical experience. The 285 respondents indicated that of the 20,670 clients seen during the past year, the incidence of mystical experience was 4.5%. This clearly challenges the GAP report on Mysticism, which claims that "mystical experiences are rarely observed in psychotherapeutic practice" (Group for Advancement of Psychiatry, 1976, p. 799).

2) Not the restult of deprivation or fantasy; mystics tend to be successful people.

Council on Spiritual Practices

State of Unitive Consciousness
"Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. "

3) Mystisicm offers therapeutic insights.

"...Within the Western model we recognize and define psychosis as a suboptimal state of consciousness that views reality in a distorted way and does not recognize that distortion. It is therefore important to note that from the mystical perspective our usual state fits all the criteria of psychosis, being suboptimal, having a distorted view of reality, yet not recognizing that distortion. Indeed from the ultimate mystical perspective, psychosis can be defined as being trapped in, or attached to, any one state of consciousness, each of which by itself is necessarily limited and only relatively real.'' [-- page 665 ) [Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

See Also: Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184. Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.

[1] Nava Silton, Kevin J. Flannelly, Kathleen Galak, Christepher G. Ellison. "Beliefs About God and Mental Health Among American Adults." Journal of Religion and Health.
[2] Study By Francis discussed in this Blog "Rejection of Christianity and Self Esteem, a Review of a Study by Leslie Francis," Atheistwatch, monday 25,2010.
[3] Leslie Francis, God images and Self Esteem,
Online copy:

[4] The researcher quoted in Macrina Cooper-White "Religion and Mental Health,  'Punative God' to emotional problems," the Huffington Post, 4/24/2013.
[5] Spinger Link:
[6] Francis Ibid.
[7] Ralph Peidmont wrote about that body of work in his book Research into the Social Scientific Study of Religion volume 16, Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2005,105.
Ralph L. Piedmont is Psychologist at the Department of Pastoral Counseling, Loyola College in Maryland, Columbia, USA. One of his publications is The Revised NEO Personality Inventory: Clinical and Research Applications (Plenum Press, 1998).
[8] Peidmont quoting Benston and Spilka
[9] Bernard Spilka and Ralph Hood, Jr. et al. Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach, fourth Edition. New York: Gilford Press, 2009.
[10] 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., National Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3090. 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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Wild Strawberries: Review of Film by Ingmar Bergman

Borg with three students

Derek Malcolm, writing for the Guardian UK (Thursday 10 June 1999 19.36 BST )
It is said, with some truth, that there are three major film-makers who empty cinemas these days: Bergman, Godard and Chaplin. In Bergman's case, it is almost certainly because the 'gloomy Swede' tag has taken root. There's just enough truth in the travesty to allow one to sympathise. After all, didn't he envisage God as a spider in Through A Glass Darkly? But he also made one of the most subtle of Mozartian romantic comedies in Smiles Of A Summer Night, and Fanny and Alexander, his last major film, could hardly be called depressing.
The film I constantly go back to, however, is Wild Strawberries (1957), which, while scarcely a bag of laughs, has a compassionate view of life that best illustrates the more optimistic side of Bergman's puzzled humanity.

That's a real shame that these there great geniuses of film are so brilliant the brunt of the audience can't take their films. That's is a truly disturbing  commentary, not upon those filmmakers but upon our society. I do agree with Malcolm about "Wild strawberries." (Smultronstalliet)I go back to it again and again. In fact I give the very top spot as my favorite film of all times bar none, to two films equally loved, both by Bergman, "The Seventh Seal," and this one. It is not a bag of laughs but it does have a side of humor and though its about an old man at the end of his life it has a hopeful tone that looks to the future. It's not a heavy theologically oriented film but it even has it's God-conscious side. Bergman, though an atheist, could not let go of the idea of God, it has too many cogent connections to art and thought and life.


  (Cast overview, first billed only)
Victor Sjöström... Dr. Isak Borg
Bibi Andersson... Sara
Ingrid Thulin... Marianne Borg
Gunnar Björnstrand... Dr. Evald Borg
Jullan Kindahl... Agda
Folke Sundquist... Anders
Björn Bjelfvenstam... Viktor
Naima Wifstrand... Mrs. Borg, Isak's Mother
Gunnel Broström... Mrs. Alman
Gertrud Fridh... Karin Borg, Isak's wife
Sif Ruud... Aunt Olga
Gunnar Sjöberg... Sten Alman / The Examiner
Max von Sydow... Henrik Åkerman
Åke Fridell... Karin's lover
Yngve Nordwall... Uncle Aron
See more »

Realesed in 1957 This was one of Bergman's earliest successes, just on the heels of his original break out film, "Smiles of a Summer Night." The film centers around an old man,
Victor Sjöström ... Dr. Isak Borg who is at the end of his life, he's a great immanent medical researcher, still admired and loved by the populace he once tended as a country doctor, about to receive an honorary degree form a major university to crown his life time achievements. He is a crotchety old man who hides guilt, anger and aggression behind a vernier of old world charm. He has a old married couple sort of relationship with his manipulative managing house keeper, who wheedles and flatters him as she dotes on his greatness and practically worships him, but treats him like a child to do what's best for him. He has a bad relationship with his son,(Gunar Björnstrand) Dr. Evald Borg dividing over a loan he gave his son years ago and has never been paid back, the father doesn't have the grace to forgive the debt, spouting all sorts of pious nonsense about responsibility and morality. the son is middle ages, the father is almost 80 and the debt still divides them. It was Bjornstrand who stared in "Winter Light."

The old Doctor decides to drive to the University, to the alarm of his Housekeeper. But his doubter in law (Marriane Borg), played by Ingrid Thulin, just happens to be staying with him. She's left her husband but asks for a ride with him to the university, where she lived with her husband. So this film is a road trip with an old man and his daughter-in-law. An American film would pit Steve Martin and Jeniffer Lopez and they would talk about nothing and wind up destroying buildings having car chases. In this film, however, these two literally do nothing more than talk about what I'm sure appears to be "nothing" to most Americans, but actually invovles the most important things in life. The old man has had a disturbing dream, but the young woman doesn't want to hear it. She frankly tells him she doesn't like him because he hides cruelty behind his mask of old world charm, yet the two remain good natured. The dream was about the man walking down empty streets of a small European village. A hearse driven by horses dumps a coffin and a hand falls out of the ajar lid. The man goes near, the hand grabs him and pulls him close, the face peers out from the coffin, it's him! The man is dead and in his coffin and pulling himself toward the coffin.

The two stop to examine a house on a lake where the old man spent many a happy summer as a child. The house is deserted and not owned by the family anymore, but the two wander about for a while looking. Sitting by himself the old man suddenly sees the house as it was and his brothers and sisters, children in old fashioned turn of the century clothes, run out of the house pursuing all manner of summer activities. He watches a scene between his cousin Sara and his brother, who we learn latter married and were still living but old in this current time 0f 1957. Dr. Borg wanders into the house and stands observing scenes of family life but the characters don't see him. We learn from this that that he was afraid to act on his feelings, he loved Sara but let her marry his brother (presumably they were third cousins) because he was stand offish.

At this point they meet three young people who are hitch hiking to the University. The three are a hilarious trio, a theology student, a secular student of some kind who of course has it in for religion in the faddish way that students of the 60s hated everything established, and a girl who the two fight over the whole trip. They have a few little runs at discussing God. The Marxist student is shallow and con only think in Marxist cliches he doesn't see that the Doctor is trying to hint that God is too important and too grand a concept to dismiss outright. One of my favorite scenes in the film. he two students come to blows. They go off to fight in the woods. Their fighting looks like two beached whales trying to push off each other to get unbeached. They get back in the car, one has a black eye. The girl sits in the middle she turns to the theology student and says "so, does God exist?"

That kind of reminds me of my partcipation on message baords. Along their way after they meet the kids they almost have a wreck with a small VW bug. The married couple in the bug are friendly at first and happy to be saved and given a ride, willing to admit the almost wreck was their fault (their car winds up upside down but the Doctor's old car is fine). But the two can't stop fighting. Subtle at first then ridiculous. They wind up being put out of the car when the woman begins slapping the husband and has to be restrained by the kids because she can't stop hitting him.

While the fight was ensuing the old man and his daughter-in-law have had a very important discussion sitting in the car and he went to sleep and has the seminal dream of the film. The discussion revealed that the woman left the doctor's son because he's just like his father, cruel, demanding, cold, unfeeling. The woman is pregnant and wants the child the father categorically does not want children and refuses to continue the marriage if they have them. At a time when abortion was unthinkable in America these guys argue about that option as though they were discussing painting the din, because they are in Sweden. But the woman wants the child, she wants to have a family is going back to make one last hopeless stab and reconciling.

The dream that Dr. Borg has while asleep in the car has him ushered into the family summer house they had previously been to, but this time it was empty, dark and foreboding. The Doctor is ushered into the house by the husband who was put out of the car. In this dream, however, he's a proctor giving the old man a test as though he was again at university. Inside the family home is a long dark corridor that was not there before it leads to a very old fashioned looking lecture room in which the old man is given an examination as one might receive at University at the turn of the century. He has to look in a microscope and identify the specimen. He claims something is wrong with the microscope because all he can see looking in is his own eye. The Proctor says there's nothing wrong with it. Then he is to examine a  young woman and say what's wrong with her. He finds that the woman is dead, but she suddenly bursts into laughter. The Proctor tells him he's been found incompetent. He his then told that he has been charged with being guilty.  Grim looking students in the gallery watch and don't crack a smile despite the old man's attempts at humor. Finally he is lead to another room and when they go through the door they are outside.

He stands on the edge of a glad in which his wife (now long dead) and another man play little kissy games and make love. The wife talks about how she will tell him about her day, he will pretend not that he's angry and she's done wrong, but that she's to be pitied, she sick and made a mistake. She hates him totally and utterly for this high and mighty  attitude and his refusal to become angry even though she sleeps with other men. The Proctor observes that with most men who are gazing upon an image of their long dead wives, they have a fading image of a saintly woman, but this guy remembers vividly this this scene of adultery.

Despite this seeming nightmare the film ends on a hopeful note as the old man seems to have learned. As he tells Marianne "it's as though my mind is trying to tell me things I can't  face when I'm awake" The end of the film is hopeful and exudes a compassion toward the old man, human frailty in general and the young. The three students wind up as friends cheering him on and as they say good by they makes statements about how proud they are to know him. They keep popping up around corners even the ceremony for the award begins. "Wild Strawberries" is about a man facing himself, like the emblematic image of his own eye looking back at him in the microscope. He's forced to realize that he's allowed himself to be cut off from people and feelings to languish in guilt and for this reason does not forgive the debts of others. In the end the plunges into dream land where he is again in the summer house of his childhood surrounded by those he loved. In the first nostalgic sequence he could no find his parents, in this one he is reunited with them and though he's an old man  they see him this time and they do not see anything strange that he's old, he fits right in as he should.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is the Nature of Religion?

 Persian version of Mithra

While doing my usual message board thing this weekend I notice a lot of atheists making arguments like God is a big man in the sky, and what about all those other faiths and so on. I got in a dispute with atheist about the nature and purpose of religion. There's the old perennial divide and conquer strategy that they are so fond of. "What about all those other religions how do you know yours is right? There's a amalgam of issues I'm trying to get at here I think the way to do it is this one central concept. We must look pat the specifics of individual traditions and look at the abstract nature of what religion is about and what it's meant to do. This is all coming from my old notes at Perkins in Dr. McFarland's class on religion in a global perspective.

Before getting into this some might be confused into thinking that I'm not a Christian, or that I DON"T believe in the unique role of Jesus in salvation. I am a Christian and I do believe that Jesus plays a unique role in salvation (ie no other other name given under heaven by which we can be saved). I'll deal with how I see the role of Jesus and the atonement in this on Wednesday.

All religions seek to do three things:
a) to identify the human problematic,
b) to identify an ultimate transformative experience (UTE) which resolves the problematic, and
c) to mediate between the two.
But not all religions are equal. All are relative to the truth but not all are equal. Some mediate the UTE better than others, or in a more accessible way than others. Given the foregoing, my criteria are that:
1) a religious tradition reflect a human problematic which is meaningful in terms of the what we find in the world.

2) the UTE be found to really resolve the problematic

3) it mediates the UTE in such a way as to be effective and accessible.

4) its putative and crucial historical claims be historically probable given the ontological and epistemological assumptions that are required within the inner logic of that belief system.

5) it be consistent with itself and with the external world in a way that touches these factors.
These mean that I am not interested in piddling Biblical contradictions such as how many women went to the tomb, ect. but in terms of the major claims of the faith as they touch the human problematic and its resolution.

How Does the Bible fulfill these criteria? First, what is the Bible? Is it a rule book? Is it a manual of discipline? Is it a science textbook? A history book? No it is none of these. The Bible, the Canon, the NT in particular, is a means of bestowing Grace. What does that mean? It means first, it is not an epistemology! It is not a method of knowing how we know, nor is it a history book. It is a means of coming into contact with the UTE mentioned above. This means that the primary thing it has to do to demonstrate its veracity is not be accurate historically, although it is that in the main; but rather, its task is to connect one to the depository of truth in the teachings of Jesus such that one is made open to the ultimate transformative experience. Thus the main thing the Bible has to do to fulfill these criteria is to communicate this transformation. This can only be judged phenomenologically. It is not a matter of proving that the events are true, although there are ensconces where that becomes important.

Thus the main problem is not the existence of these piddling so-called contradictions (and my experience is 90% of them stem from not knowing how to read a text), but rather the extent to which the world and life stack up to the picture presented as a fallen world, engaged in the human problematic and transformed by the light of Christ. Now that means that the extent to which the problematic is adequately reflected, that being sin, separation from God, meaninglessness, the wages of sin, the dregs of life, and so forth, vs. the saving power of God's grace to transform life and change the direction in which one lives to face God and to hope and future. This is something that cannot be decided by the historical aspects or by any objective account. It is merely the individual's problem to understand and to experience. That is the nature of what religion does and the extent to which Christianity does it more accessibly and more efficaciously is the extent to which it should be seen as valid.

The efficacy is not an objective issue either, but the fact that only a couple of religions in the world share the concept of Grace should be a clue. No other religion (save Pure Land Buddhism) have this notion. For all the others there is a problem of one's own efforts. The Grace mediates and administrates through Scriptures is experienced in the life of the believer, and can be found also in prayer, in the sacraments and so forth.

Where the historical questions should enter into it are where the mediation of the UTE hedges upon these historical aspects. Obviously the existence of Jesus of Nazareth would be one, his death on the cross another. The Resurrection of course, doctrinally is also crucial, but since that cannot be established in an empirical sense, seeing as no historical question can be, we must use historical probability. That is not blunted by the minor discrepancies in the number of women at the tomb or who got there first. That sort of thinking is to think in terms of a video documentary. We expect the NT to have the sort of accuracy we find in a court room because we are moderns and we watch too much television. The number of women and when they got to the tomb etc. does not have a bearing on whether the tomb actually existed, was guarded and was found empty. Nor does it really change the fact that people claimed to have seen Jesus after his death alive and well and ascending into heaven. We can view the different strands of NT witness as separate sources, since they were not written as one book, but by different authors at different times and brought together later.

The historicity of the NT is a logical assumption given the nature of the works. We can expect that the Gospels will be polemical. We do not need to assume, however, that they will be fabricated from whole cloth. They are the product of the communities that redacted them. That is viewed as a fatal weakness in fundamentalist circles, tantamount to saying that they are lies. But that is silly. In reality there is no particular reason why the community cannot be a witness. The differences in the accounts are produced by either the ordering of periscopes to underscore various theological points or the use of witnesses who fanned out through the various communities and whose individual view points make up the variety of the text. This is not to be confused with contradiction simply because it reflects differences in individual's view points and distracts us from the more important points of agreement; the tomb was empty, the Lord was seen risen, there were people who put there hands in his nail prints, etc.

The overall question about Biblical contradiction goes back to the basic nature of the text. What sort of text is it? Is it a Sunday school book? A science text book? A history book? And how does inspiration work? The question about the nature of inspiration is the most crucial. This is because the basic notion of the fundamentalists is that of verbal plenary inspiration. If we assume that this is the only sort of inspiration than we have a problem. One mistake and verbal plenary inspiration is out the window. The assumption that every verse is inspired and every word is true comes not from the Church fathers or from the Christian tradition. It actually starts with Humanists in the Renaissance and finds its final development in the 19th century with people like J. N. Drably and Warfield. (see, Avery Dulles Models of Revelation).

One of my major reasons for rejecting this model of revelation is because it is not true to the nature of transformation. Verbal plenary inspiration assumes that God uses authors like we use pencils or like businessmen use secretaries, to take dictation (that is). But why should we assume that this is the only form of inspiration? Only because we have been conditioned by American Christianity to assume that this must be the case. This comes from the Reformation's tendency to see the Bible as epistemology rather than as a means of bestowing grace (see William Abraham, Canon and Criterion). Why should be approach the text with this kind of baggage? We should approach it, not assuming that Moses et al. were fundamentalist preachers, but that they experienced God in their lives through the transformative power of the Spirit and that their writings and redactions are a reflection of this experience. That is more in keeping with the nature of religion as we find it around the world. That being the case, we should have no problem with finding that mythology of Babylonian and Suzerain cultures are used in Genesis, with the view toward standing them on their heads, or that some passages are idealized history that reflect a nationalistic agenda. But the experiences of God come through in the text in spite of these problems because the text itself, when viewed in dialectical relation between reader and text (Barth/Dulles) does bestow grace and does enable transformation.

After all the Biblical texts were not written as "The Bible" but were complied from a huge voluminous body of works which were accepted as scripture or as "holy books" for quite some time before they were collected and put in a single list and even longer before they were printed as one book: the Bible. Therefore, that this book may contradict itself on some points is of no consequence. Rather than reflecting dictation, or literal writing as though the author was merely a pencil in the hands of God, what they really reflect is the record of people's experiences of God in their lives and the way in which those experiences suggested their choice of material/redaction. In short, inspiration of scripture is a product of the transformation afore mentioned. It is the verbalization of inner-experience which mediates grace, and in turn it mediates grace itself.

The Bible is not the Perfect Revelation of God to humanity. Jesus is that perfect revelation. The Gospels are merely the record of Jesus' teachings, deposited with the communities and encoded for safe keeping in the list chosen through Apostolic backing to assure Christian identity. For that matter the Bible as a whole is a reflection of the experience of transformation and as such, since it was the product of human agents we can expect it to have human flaws. The extent to which those flaws are negligible can be judge the ability of that deposit of truth to adequately promote transformation. Christ authorizes the Apostles, the Apostles authorize the community, the community authorizes the tradition, and the tradition authorizes the canon.

The A priori

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

Definition of the a priori.

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

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

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

Cross currents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forms of the A priori.

Schleiermacher's "Feeling of Utter Dependence.

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

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

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

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

Paul Tillich's Object of Ultimate Concern.

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

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

Tillich's concept made into God argument.

As Robert R. Williams puts it:

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

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

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

there are certain things I wan to point out here and I want to know if you agree, or disagree, undersatnd or find it interesting.

(1) The major thing it's saying is that religious belief is based upon knowing truth through a phenomenological encounter with truth and not upon reification (meaning, scientific reductionism).

(2) Doing this is a matter of consciousness.

(3) If raising consciousness boardens one's understanding of the world and has the desirable effect one expects to get out of a religious belief system (ie for the Buddhist enlightenment) then why is not not a warrant for belief?

(4) if one understands the nature of religious belief to be the point of religious engagement with a tradition then is being result oriented not the proper mythodology for discussing validation of a religious tradition?

(5) If in some sense hard data is sought, and hard data is obtained in relation to the outcome or the 'payoff' in terms of a transformation that resolves the problematic then why is that not satisfactory for one's demand for empirical data?

(6) empirical data proving that one had transformation effects. if that's the point of region why would that not be the proper sort of empirical data to watch for?

Freedom from the Need to prove.

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

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

Necessary Being is not Impossible

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It seems to me that the accurate position of the Christian (or any other theist) is that it is necessary that God possess some contingent property or other, but there is no particular contingent property that God possesses necessarily. Am I going in the right path, or am I missing some important aspect of your argument? Thank you for taking the time to read this. (letter to William Lane Craig)[1]

....I'm always running into atheists who try to argue that necessary being is impossible. The other day I saw an atheist on a message board who was wondering "why do Christians mess around with this absurd idea of God as necessary? Why don't they just say God is contingent, it's so much more logical since God in the Bible is contingent?" In trying to clarify this mystery for him he plunged deeper into the unknown and asserted that a necessary God can't exist becuase being necessary would mean he can't create or do anything. Intrigued by this bit of whimsy I had to find out why. The logic is pretty straight forward: If God creates something he becomes creator. If he becomes creator then his status as creator is contingent upon his having done it. That makes God contingent: The argument might look like this:
....The problem is this is totally wrong, in fact he's wrong on both counts: it would be absurd to posit that God is contingent, then he wouldn't be God anymore, and it would be it is false to say that God become contingent if he does an act. Psalm 90:2 declares: "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." God is eternal. While Colossians 1:16 says: "For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."
....In other words, God is eternal and creator of all that is. That means all that is is contingent upon God who has always been, thus having never been created and not being dependent upon other things God is not contingent but necessary. God's necessary status is not only based upon being NON-contingent but upon being necessary to all that is as the lynch pen and origin of it's existence. This has been the basic Christian concept since before Christianity: the Hebrew faith had it first (Genesis 1:1 for example). The one major thing that sets God of the Bible apart from all other concepts of God is the fact that it is based upon God as necessary and all things as contingent upon God. Zeus and Thor and Ishtar and all the gods of mythology are contingent, they are all produced by parents or the abyss or some such thing that preceded their existence and brought them into being. Not so with the God of the Bible he is the one and only God-figure who is necessary creator, non contingent himself but maker of all that is. It would be a super idiotic move to bail out of the whole tradition and render God on a par with all the godages of mythology who have only recently found new fan clubs.
....It's also wrong to assert that action makes God contingent. In all the message board fracases of which I've been apart I've gathered three basic concepts of contingent: that which can fail or cease to exist; that which is dependent upon something else (ontologically higher up the ladder of hierarchy) for its existence, or that which is not contradictory if the term is substituted for another. This last one is the counterpoint to logical necessity: All husbands are married men is a logically necessary sentence. If you change the terms; all Texans are married men, it becomes a matter of empirical nature. Perhaps only married men do live in Texas, we have to go check. But the concept of "married man" is descried as "husband" thus all husbands are married men and we know that just by knowing the meaning of the word. Yet this last version of contingency can be ruled out because we are not discussing the ontological argument thus I have not argued that God's existence can be understood from the nature of the terms. The other two versions can be collapsed into one thing: that which can cease or fail to exist, does so because the conditions that make it so could have changed or could change in future. So really contingency is basically about dependence for existence upon something else.
....Once we understand this we can see that God can't be contingent. If he was that would make him a creature then he would not be form everlasting to everlasting nor would he be the creator of all things. He would be mere demiurge. The creator of God would be God and there would still be a God so the atheist's purpose in argument would still be frustrated. Moreover, the doing of actions such as creation does not render God contingent. This argument really depends upon treating treating contingency like a virus. If God is contingent in one respect, such as his title as creator, then he becomes wholly contingent. That's only a title. God's actions do not make him what he is. His actions are an extension of who he is they dont' determine who he is. Contingency is not like a disease that spreads to the whole being. God's actions are contingent, they are contingent upon God's essence as necessary being.
....The atheist letter writer addressing William Lane Craig, speaks of contingent "proprieties" of God (at the top). I don't think contingency is a property. Its' a mode of being. It corresponds to the modal operators, such a necessity and contingency. In this case it's not the mode of being for God himself, not his essence, that thing that makes him what he is, his divine nature, but the mode of being for his title as creator, for example. So God can be contingent in title as creator but so what? Had God not created he would still be. The things he created would not be but he would still be. Therefore, God does not become contingent being if he becomes does contingent acts.
.... The standard concept for which I argue is always that God is being itself not merely "a being." This concept would help us here too. To the letter writer, Craig could have said (if using this concept) that since he acknowledges that some form of being must be that basic acknowledges God since God is the term we take to the concept of being itself or the ground of being. That is what is being expressed "Bede Rundle's position that it is necessary that something or other exist (namely, some physical Universe or other), but nothing in particular exists necessarily." That does not exclude God if God is being itself. IF God is a particular localized being, one of many then it might exclude him but how could it exclude the ground of being?

[1] Letter to William Lane Craig, "Must Some Contingent Being or Other exist?" Q and A Reasonable Faith website URL:
The issues with Craig's letter are much more complex then the one's I present here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Perspective we Take to the Question of God, (part 2)

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Of course in the nature of scientific realism we see ideology at work on both sides. They are not arguing about the empirical data suggesting how the workings of the physical world proceed. They are not arguing about a big pile of facts that are totally factual and do not require any sort philosophical component. These things are part of the discussion but the frame work of the discussion for both sides is clearly philosophical and thus ideological as well. Scientific realism in many of its versions distinguishes between ontological and epistemological views. In the world of Roy Bhaskar’s realism there commonalities with the Frankfurt school, that is with neo-Marxist social and political criticism.[1] It’s no less so for anti-realists who are working from a postmodern reading of constructivism. Whichever school prevails, science has to make the assumption that our observations really tell us what’s there, if they want rule out God and religion and other “primitive” things as “unscientific.” It wouldn’t really work to assume that the objects of scientific understanding are just “constructs” and then try to use them to rule out the reality of other ideas such as God. They have to make an assumption of a realist nature at some point. They can augment that assumption as a theoretical one, thus allowing a constructivist to remain a constructivist and still assume the reality of objects of scientific scrutiny. Otherwise we can’t assume string theory or mutliverse, or that there’s solidity at the basis of matter. To dismiss belief on the basis that we are just imposing patterns is also to dismiss the ability of science to predict the workings of natural world.
            We can go all the way on assuming Humean view (description only) if we are prepared to be solipsists in the end. We can go to the other extreme and assume law like regularity if we are prepared to impose our own ideas. The only logical way out is to be consistent and follow what works, but that might just mean having to refrain form ruling out some version of SN. What works is the assumption that our perceptions are real. We don’t play on the freeway on the assumption that our perception of patterns is just imposed and all that oncoming traffic is not real. Solders on the battle don’t stand in the line of fire on the premise that bullets are just theoretical constructs. We go with what works and what works is to assume that when our perceptions of regular, consistent, and shared (Inter-subjective) they are worth heading. One of the areas in which we should make such assumptions is in the assumption that order and regularity is inductive of prescriptive laws of nature, and in turn prescriptive laws are indicative of the will and ordering of mind.
            Order bespeaks mind in that mind is the only example we know of purposive ordering. As Vera Kistiakowsky stated, “The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine….I am satisfied with the existence of an unknowable source of divine order and purpose.” [2] This quotation shows us that it was not that long ago that it was understood in science to view order as indicative of prescriptive laws at least in the sense of being a creation of mind. I use the word “purposive” and that’s a key because it is the hint of purpose that makes us think of mind. Why assume there’s a purpose? The whole atheist concept of answering final cause and design arguments is to divorce the universe form purpose. “Things are just here” they tell us, “there’s no ultimate reason, there’s only the descriptions of physics.” The problem is the description describes perfect order and absolute regularity. These aspects fit the need to produce a life bearing universe. That hints at purpose. Purpose hints at mind. The fact that it’s bankable, it’s always there, it’s relentless order makes it seem prescriptive. The concept of Cause and effect seems a prescriptive concept.
            Systems analysis approach to the question of laws raises  the possibility of mind:

Other aspects of the systems approach have made philosophers wary. (See, especially, Armstrong 1983, 66–73; van Fraassen 1989, 40–64; Carroll 1990, 197–206.) Some argue that this approach will have the untoward consequence that laws are inappropriately mind-dependent in virtue of the account's appeal to the concepts of simplicity, strength and best balance, concepts whose instantiation seems to depend on cognitive abilities, interests, and purposes. The appeal to simplicity raises further questions stemming from the apparent need for a regimented language to permit reasonable comparisons of the systems. (See Lewis 1983, 367.)[3]

            Cause and effect might be taken as an example of prescriptive laws. In spite of the descriptive nature of physical law in modern scientific outlook, cause and effect is not made removed but still bears a crucial place in human thought. Some argue that cause and effect is outmoded due to quantum theory. Quantum theory (QM) posits acausal happenings such as the appearance of quantum particles. That has been discussed in chapter (?, In connection with Krauss’s book). QM doesn’t replace cause and effect in all of science. It’s only under very specialized conditions that it can be assumed to be acausal and it’s only in connection with a certain theoretical outlook. Of course the question of laws is very complex now. We are not sure we know what laws are. The idea that the universe contains a law of of some sort in an some heavenly realm and natural process obey that law is ninetieth century, no one really thinks that way now.[4] We can speak of general principles or “universals” of some sort. There certainly do seem to be principles that are generally active and keep the universe running along certain lines. We can these are “organizing principles.” Calling them laws is sort of one sided because it conjures up images of a celestial legislator. The term too directly links to the watch maker, law implies Law giver. Organizing principle could imply any sort of origin source, personal or impersonal, purposive or not. One such principle is cause and effect.
            Descriptive physical laws do not undermine the notion of causality. As James Franklin puts it:

The notion of Cause remains crucial to science, even though the most general physical laws do not mention causes. No physical laws or interpretations of those laws call into question such facts as that some diseases are caused by viruses...every technological application of science requires the notion of an intervention that will effect change...That physical laws are descriptive does not undermine the notion of causality. The motion of billiard balls in interaction is described and predicted by purely descriptive of conservation of momentum and energy, for example. That does not in any way supersede our understanding that one ball hit another and caused it to go flying off." The laws just describe the course of the causal interaction." It's a description complete in one way but partial in another, in the same way as a complete description of a person's actions without reference to their motivations...[5]

Nor is causality equal to determinism. Determinism is often confused with cause and effect but conceptually they are not the same and one does not necessitate the other. The fact that they can get mixed up with each other raises an important issue: the nature of cosmological issues as inherently philosophical. None of the issue addressed so far can be resolved by just observing facts; they all require philological investigation, and that means that ideology can’t be far behind. Not that philosophical thinking is inherently ideological, but it’s constantly opening the door. Ideology is like a leach that seeks to attach itself to philosophical thinking every chance it gets. The relative nature of prior probability of God based upon one’s personal search, the nature of laws, the nature of purpose and order, the problem of descriptions and how they very according to empirical observation, the acceptance of strange phenomena (miracles), all the things we have touched  upon so far require philosophical thinking, thus run the risk of ideological connotation.
            This raises major conceptual problems for atheism. First because atheists tend to be determinists to a large extent, but also because the naturalistic reading of the universe (that’s just the way it happened) usually entails the implication that this is the only way it could happen. “This is just the way things happen,” it’s not amazing nor does it suggest purposes because they had to happen this way due to cause and effect. The implication is they really couldn’t happen in other ways, but such is not the case. Nature is all about contingency and naturalistic being is contingent being. Even Karl Popper tells us so; "Empirical facts are facts which might not have been. Everything that belongs to space time is a contingent truth because it could have been otherwise, it is dependent upon the existence of something else for its' existence going all the way back to the Big Bang, which is itself contingent upon something."[6] Paul Davies tells us:

Some scientists have tried to argue that if only we knew enough about the laws of physics, if we were to discover a final theory that united all the fundamental forces and particles of nature into a single mathematical scheme, then we would find that this superlaw, or theory of everything, would describe the only logically consistent world. In other words, the nature of the physical world would be entirely a consequence of logical and mathematical necessity. There would be no choice about it. I think this is demonstrably wrong. There is not a shred of evidence that the universe is logically necessary. Indeed, as a theoretical physicist I find it rather easy to imagine alternative universes that are logically consistent, and therefore equal contenders for reality.[7]

If true this would mean the universe is contingent. That is to say it is dependent upon some ontologically prior condition that makes it as it is. That condition would have to entail some form of organizing principle that makes for order and precision. The best thing we know for organizing is mind. Davies begins to wax eloquent about efficiency and sufficiency of the laws of physics, affirming their reality and then links to God:

Now you may think I have written God entirely out of the picture. Who needs a God when the laws of physics can do such a splendid job? But we are bound to return to that burning question: Where do the laws of physics come from? And why those laws rather than some other set? Most especially: Why a set of laws that drives the searing, featureless gases coughed out of the big bang, towards life and consciousness and intelligence and cultural activities such as religion, art, mathematics and science?...You might be tempted to suppose that any old rag-bag of laws would produce a complex universe of some sort, with attendant inhabitants convinced of their own specialness. Not so. It turns out that randomly selected laws lead almost inevitably either to unrelieved chaos or boring and uneventful simplicity. Our own universe is poised exquisitely between these unpalatable alternatives, offering a potent mix of freedom and discipline, a sort of restrained creativity. The laws do not tie down physical systems so rigidly that they can accomplish little, but neither are they a recipe for cosmic anarchy. Instead, they encourage matter and energy to develop along pathways of evolution that lead to novel variety-what Freeman Dyson has called the principle of maximum diversity: that in some sense we live in the most interesting possible universe [8]

This does leave the atheist in a pickle. I hesitate to evoke this argument because it’s a double bind and I don’t like double binds, I think they are often phony. Yet this one is problematic either way. If the universe just has to be this way then it’s bound to be prescriptive with respect to physical law. Thus it’s a contradiction to say laws are only descriptions. Thus a descriptive universe must also be a contingent universe. That much is true, but we can’t push it and say “either way it has to be God” that would mean either prescriptive or descriptive is an implication of God, that’s a double bind. It seems more honest to just say that what is described is order, and that even though “laws” or organizing principles may be compelling they don’t make a necessary universe, but they are aspects of a contingent universe that is none the less ordered and prescribed by some higher principle. Then of course the argument centers around weather or not that principle is mind. In any case the contingent nature of the universe lends itself to several God arguments hat involve the ordered nature of the universe.
            The first such example of a God argument is that of “fine tuning.” Fine tuning is a subset of the anthropic principle, the idea that the universe is somehow biased in favor of life bearing. Fine tuning says that there are target levels that have to be hit exactly right in order for life to develop in a universe and hitting each one of them is so vastly improbable that the odds indicate some selection, some principle that is capable of selecting for life and controlling events in such a way as to make things happen rightly for the furtherance of life. This is evidence of mind behind the scenes. This is a design argument but it avoids the usual pitfalls of design. That is most design arguments are problematic because they don’t have a known designed universe to compare this one too. Conversely they don’t have a universe that we know is not designed to compare to. That makes it tough to say what actually design is. Yet we know what must be design if we can attach probability to the development of life. All that is not the target level is random and what hits the target must be assumed as design because it’s so unlikely. As I have said I won’t go into great depth on this argument, but just to give cursory explanation. The argument has many critics and a lot of arguments against it, but it is also very defensible if one does one’s homework. The major proponents of the argument are probably Paul Davies and Robin Collins (Messiah College in Grantham Pennsylvania). [9] Davies argues that there is a consensus among physicists and cosmologists that the universe is for the building blocks of life. That is to say the environments required for life are fine tuned.[10]
            For examples of fine turning we can turn to Andrei Linde who gives several. He refers to these as “puzzles” that forced physicists to look more closely at the standard theory.[11]

A second trouble spot is the flatness of space. General relativity suggests that space may be very curved, with a typical radius on the order of the Planck length, or 10^-33 centimeter. We see however, that our universe is just about flat on a scale of 10^28 centimeters, the radius of the observable part of the universe. This result of our observation differs from theoretical expectations by more than 60 orders of magnitude….

A similar discrepancy between theory and observations concerns the size of the universe. Cosmological examinations show that our part of the universe contains at least IO^88 elementary particles. But why is the universe so big? If one takes a universe of a typical initial size given by the Planck length and a typical initial density equal to the Planck density, then, using the standard big bang theory, one can calculate how many elementary particles such a universe might encompass. The answer is rather unexpected: the entire universe should only be large enough to accommodate just one elementary particle or at most 10 of them. it would be unable to house even a single reader of Scientiftc American, who consists of about 10^29 elementary particles. Obviously something is wrong with this theory.

The fourth problem deals with the timing of the expansion. In its standard form, the big bang theory assumes that all parts of the universe began expanding simultaneously. But how could all the different parts of the universe synchromize the beginning of their expansion? Who gave the command

Fifth, there is the question about the distribution of matter in the universe. on the very large scale, matter has spread out with remarkable uniformity. Across more than 10 billion light-years, its distribution departs from perfect homogeneity by less than one part in 10,000..... One of the cornerstones of the standard cosmology was the 'cosmological principle," which asserts that the universe must be homogeneous. This assumption. however, does not help much, because the universe incorporates important deviations from homogeneity, namely. stars, galaxies and other agglomerations of matter. Tence, we must explain why the universe is so uniform on large scales and at the same time suggest some mechanism that produces galaxies.

Finally, there is what I call the uniqueness problem. AIbert Einstein captured its essence when he said: "What really interests ine is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." Indeed, slight changes in the physical constants of nature could have made the universe unfold in a completeIy, different manner. ..... In some theories, compactilication can occur in billions of different ways. A few years ago it would have seemed rather meaningless to ask why space-time has four dimensions, why the gravitational constant is so small or why the proton is almost 2,000 times heavier than the electron. New developments in elementary particle physics make answering these questions crucial to understanding the construction of our world.[12]

The reason the list begins with the second example is because the first example is the big bang itself, that’s not really fine tuning per se. It is interesting that mentions it because he states that the question of laws is still the major problem for physicists. This was back in 97 but that’s still true. The final paragraph is crucial he says these puzzles could have turned out differently and had that been the case the universe would have been totally different. He even points out that aspects of it could have worked out in billions of different ways. He doesn’t say it but that would suggest that meeting the target levels in just the right way for life to flourish (at least on one planet) is remarkable. There several standard examples used by those who make the fine tuning argument.
            Taking post shots at fine turning is immensely popular. Almost everyone admits the universe seems to be fine turned and that if these specifications were not met life would not abound. Yet there are a number of scholarly articles that purport to take the teeth out of the argument. Bradly Monton in an argument for British Journal for the Philosophy of Science states:

The fundamental constants that are involved in the laws of physics which describe our universe are finely tuned for life, in the sense that if some of the constants had slightly different values life could not exist. Some people hold that this provides evidence for the existence of God. I will present a probabilistic version of this fine-tuning argument which is stronger than all other versions in the literature. Nevertheless, I will show that one can have reasonable opinions such that the fine-tuning argument doesn't lead to an increase in one's probability for the existence of God.[13]

Matthew Kotzen makes a minimalist defense of the argument based upon the “likelihood principle” which seems somewhat in the vain of Bayes’ Theorem.

The idea behind LP, then, is that if one hypothesis makes E objectively more likely than another hypothesis, then the fact that E actually does occur is some evidence for the first hypothesis over the second. While there are certainly some philosophers who have raised doubts about the core idea behind LP,2 that core idea has been extremely influential and is accepted in some form by nearly all so-called ‘Likelihoodists’ and ‘Bayesians’.[14]

He overcomes the anthropic bias argument that says when all the evidence is taken into account we realize that fine tuning is just focusing on something which should be expected as a unremarkable part of the cosmic layout. He points out that critics mean different things by “take all evidence into account” and the likelihood principle establishes the validity of the argument. Of course the problem is this evokes the kind of selective bias discussed above in connection with Bayes. Yet it may be the bias can be over come but there wont new information on the divine reality as it is beyond our understanding. The argument can’t make God more probable. It can, however, point up the value in the warrant for belief bestowed by the evidence of fine tuning. It can’t be proof of God’s existence, or lack thereof. Again, we are confronted by the reality that one’s perspective plays a huge role in how one sees God arguments.
            The major argument against fine tuning is the multi-verse, or “many worlds theory,” (MWT). The idea is that if you only one space/time universe then the entire fine tuning coincidences are so amazingly against the odds, but if you have a billon such worlds, or even an unlimited supply, the odds against hitting the target just go way down. It’s not remarkable to think that out of a billion planets we just happen to be in one that hit it big for life. After all had we not been in that kind of planet we wouldn’t know about it. That idea comes from Kant’s attack on the cosmological argument. Of course there is no empirical proof to support the idea of a multi-verse. There are mathematical models that seem to support the idea. There is no real empirical proof of one, and probably never will be. It’s really an act of faith to throw away the possibly of God merely because there might be this other possibility that one clings to merely because it answers a possibility we don’t wish to accept. Moreover, even with a multi-verse the furthering of intelligent life and consciousness requires such precision that the multi-verse mechanism would have to also be fine tuned to produce a world with conscious agents in it. [15] Just knowing that other words are possible or even that they exist is not enough. We would have to know the hit rate, that is, what percentage of them bear life? That’s important because just producing one intelligent life bearing planet (not enough just to get any kind of life, but “higher order” life) would still be amazingly amazing. So we need to know what percentage because only if it’s a major percentage (maybe 15%) could we say it’s not amazing that there is a such a world.
            The multiverse is also the reverse gambler’s fallacy.

Some people think that if you roll the dice repeatedly and don't get double sixes, then you are more likely to get double sixes on the next roll. They are victims of the notorious gambler's fallacy. In a 1987 article in Mind, the philosopher Ian Hacking sees a kindred bit of illogic behind the Many Universes Hypothesis. Suppose you enter a room and see a guy roll a pair of dice. They come up double sixes. You think, "Aha, that is very unlikely on a single roll, so he must have rolled the dice many times before I walked into the room." You have committed what Hacking labels the inverse gambler's fallacy.[16]

            Another objection to the theory of fine tuning would be to propose a higher principle of organization that is responsible for the fine tuning, thus passing the problem along to a higher level. An example of this is the inflationary model of expansion. The article cited above by Linde contains his own attempt to do this by trying to answer the issues or “puzzles” he raises by use of scalar fields as part of the inflationary model.[17] That’s really just putting the problem off a level, and the mechanism itself would have to be fine tuned. "The inflationary model can succeed only by fine-tuning its parameters, and even then, relative to some natural measures on initial conditions, it may also have to fine-tune its initial conditions for inflation to work."[18] The notion that there might be higher mechanisms and deeper structures making for life bearing and life flourishing universes could in itself be understood as part of the order, and that might be seen as product of mind; it is still a matter of perspective.
            Yet my purpose in discussing it is not to add an independent argument but to use it as a further support for my point that there is real distinction behind the differences in perceive and descriptive laws of physics, the reality being described is prescriptive in the sense that it is made up of a deeply structured order that appears to be wrought for the purpose of producing intelligent life and thus, we can understand that order as an organizing principle that is the product of mind. This is apt to be understood as argument from design and I really don’t want that. If it is a grand design then so be it, perhaps I’ve found a way to make a design argument work, but I think it’s more than that. I think the real argument has more to do with the need to understand mind as the necessary basis or organizing principle. It has never made much sense to me to think of some disembodied set of order just standing around making things happen, yet there’s no reason for it. While design argument might cast God in the anthropomorphic role of great building contractor in the sky, the realization of a mind-based organizing principle upon which the order and complexity of the universe depends might transcend that anthropomorphic image. Certainly the need for such a principle to “fix the game” of the universe and set the target levels is one more aspect that points to mind.
            Another aspect of the problem, the question of God and how it arises in relation to our observations of the universe is already seen in our look at Krauss’s book (A Universe from Nothing) in chapter (?). In that review we presented the problem with the book’s claim that scientific research proved the universe came from nothing: the term “nothing” proved to be problematic, and rather than true nothing it turns out there are prior conditions that seems to produce the most fundamental aspects that we can trace back by way of universal origins. In fact it seems absurd to claim the universe could have come from true absolute nothing. There are two reasons why true absolute nothing is an absurd candidate for universal origin—in point of fact I don’t know of scientist who actually proposes this—as we have seen, Krauss doesn’t really propose that.
            First, true nothing offers no potential from which something might emerge. One might also argue the force of presumption in empirical observation. No example we have of anything gives us an idea that something can come from nothing. Everything we observe has a cause. As we saw with Krauss, the assertion that the actual nature of quantum particles is not an assertion of something form true nothing because there are prior conditions form which the particles are emerging.[19] Second, a state of true absolute nothing would be a state of timeless void, there would be no becoming in a timeless void. The consensus of science is that there is no change in a timeless void. As Hawking put it, “the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe.”[20] One theory from back in the 1980s that might help us understand the problem is that of SUSY GUTS (grand unified theory). Dr. Sten Odenwald wrote an article that describes this theory:

Theories like those of SUSY GUTS (Supersymetry Grand Unified Theory) and Superstrings seem to suggest that just a few moments after Creation, the laws of physics and the content of the world were in a highly symmetric state; one superforce and perhaps one kind of superparticle. The only thing breaking the perfect symmetry of this era was the definite direction and character of the dimension called Time. Before Creation, the primordial symmetry may have been so perfect that, as Vilenkin proposed, the dimensionality of space was itself undefined. To describe this state is a daunting challenge in semantics and mathematics because the mathematical act of specifying its dimensionality would have implied the selection of one possibility from all others and thereby breaking the perfect symmetry of this state. There were, presumably, no particles of matter or even photons of light then, because these particles were born from the vacuum fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime that attended the creation of the universe. In such a world, nothing happens because all 'happenings' take place within the reference frame of time and space. The presence of a single particle in this nothingness would have instantaneously broken the perfect symmetry of this era because there would then have been a favored point in space different from all others; the point occupied by the particle. This nothingness didn't evolve either, because evolution is a time-ordered process. The introduction of time as a favored coordinate would have broken the symmetry too. It would seem that the 'Trans-Creation' state is beyond conventional description because any words we may choose to describe it are inherently laced with the conceptual baggage of time and space. Heinz Pagels reflects on this 'earliest' stage by saying, "The nothingness 'before' the creation of the universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity..."[21]

When physicists speak of disturbing the summitry they are not saying nothing can violate it, they are not saying these are laws of nature that prevent anything form happening. They are saying if anything did violate it, that event would mean the transitions form nothing to something. The problem is, what would be there to violate it? What would cause it to happen? Of course we don’t know but given what we do observe it seems there no good candidates. First of all there would be no vacuum flux because that’s a product of “creation” anyway. That would be logically and ontologically antecedent to whatever would cause the emergence of something.
            It would seem that mind is still the best candidate for agent of change or organizing principle. We are talking about moving from a position of order and profound regularity to a emerging of some new aspect of reality that breaks the regularity, a regularity we observe and assume to be unbreakable. Then regularity has to go back because we don’t find that kind of emergence (nothing to something) all the time. What could do that? It’s true something we don’t understand might do it automatically with no thought involved, but it seems a mind that writes the rules, and can re-write them at will, would explain it more efficiently and with greater certainty. Of course it could be the case that any number of things we don’t know about might produce the emergence of energy and matter. Mind is the best candidate because the rules would have to apply again as though they weren’t broken.  That would imply turning them on and off. Davies documents the priority of physical law in our thinking about the origins of the universe:

It seems that almost all physicists who work on fundamental problems accept that the laws of physics have some kind of independent reality. With that view, it is possible to argue that the laws of physics are logically prior to the universe they describe. That is, the laws of physics stand at the base of a rational explanatory chain, in the same way that the axioms of Euclid stand at the base of the logical scheme we call geometry. Of course one cannot prove that the laws of physics have to be the starting point of an explanatory scheme, but any attempt to explain the world rationally has to have some starting point, and for most scientists the laws of physics seem a very satisfactory one. In the same way, one need not accept Euclid's axioms as the starting point of geometry; a set of theorems like Pythagoras's would do equally well. But the purpose of science (and mathematics) is to explain the world in as simple and economical a fashion as possible, and Euclid's axioms and the laws of physics are attempts to do just that.[22]

We have no concept of a law that would allow something to emerge from true nothing. The agency that would allow that has to be eternal (that is timeless existence). The reason is because a contingent answer would have to be account for by yet more logically or ontologically prior conditions. So this is kicking the answer down the road, it’s not really an answer unless we posit a timeless agent. The timeless agent has to be able to control the rules.
            This leads to the recognition of an even larger principle, that of necessity and contingency. There are different kinds of necessity but in essence necessity is the quality of not being dependent upon something else for existence. In some arguments it is also reflected as the quality of not ceasing for failing to exist. These two aspects of being meet and are actually the same, as the sense of “not failing to exist” assumes independence from circumstances that would limits existence. The definition of the second type of necessity is built into the first. The corollary to necessary is ‘contingent.’ These are logical categories, they can be observed logically not empirically. Just as we don’t see causality we don’t see necessity or contingency. That doesn’t mean they are not valid categories to think with. Since the definition of contingent involves necessity, contingent things are dependent upon those things which are relatively necessity to them; contingencies require necessities because that’s the idea. Contingent things are those that require dependence upon logically or ontologically prior conditions. Thus there cannot be a contingency without a necessity. Since naturalistic things are contingency their very nature, as effects of causes, (at least in as far as we have observed—we have no counter examples) then necessity is necessary to the existence of contingency. Thus if we find that the world of our physical being is contingent then we must assume there is a necessary agent that is responsible I some way for its existence. “Natural law” in itself is not a satisfactory explanation because the idea of “law” can’t really be explained through the notion of uncaused disembodied set of laws floating about. Of course the skeptic would say “these are not real laws, they are passed by legislators they are just descriptions.” As discussed already, what they described is an order and regularity as binding that is more binding than legislature. Calling it a description doesn’t really explain it. That the regularity would have to be suspended and re-imposed to allow for the emergency of something form nothing; unless we assume an eternal agency, then we are making an assumption that contradicts our observations.
            If the assumption is that of an eternal necessary aspect of being then we are basically positing God. That is the basis of the definition of Christian God according to the philosophers, as seen in the cosmological arguement.

The cosmological argument is less a particular argument than an argument type. It uses a general pattern of argumentation (logos) that makes an inference from certain alleged facts about the world (cosmos) to the existence of a unique being, generally identified with or referred to as God. Among these initial facts are that certain beings or events in the world are causally dependent or contingent, that the universe (as the totality of contingent things) is contingent in that it could have been other than it is, that the Big Conjunctive Contingent Fact possibly has an explanation, or that the universe came into being. From these facts philosophers infer deductively, inductively, or abductively by inference to the best explanation that a first or sustaining cause, a necessary being, an unmoved mover, or a personal being (God) exists that caused and/or sustains the universe. The cosmological argument is part of classical natural theology, whose goal has been to provide evidence for the claim that God exists.[23]
The skeptic might argue that the agency can’t really be called God if it is minus personal sense of consciousness and mind. We’ve already discussed by the assumption of mind is best. Not only to turn on and off the rules but for the fine tuning, to say nothing of a means of explaining the structure that can produce consciousness in us, after there is no real reason why we should even be conscious.[24]  These are good reasons to assume that God is real. They are not absolute proof, but they will always present a valid reason for belief and it’s not likely they will be disproved or overturned. The necessity/contingency dichotomy is absolute. It may not be to the liking of empiricists but it is logical and it won’t be disproved as any physical evidence of how the universe came to be atomically counts as description of potentially contingent circumstances that require the assumption of an eternal necessity. Let’s assume they did find something popping up out of nothing that might still be taken as the product of a necessity that we don’t see. The “nothing” isn’t photographed and identified as nothing; it can always be understood as the place holder for a necessity that is beyond our understanding. That means the issue can’t really be decided by either science or philosophical argument. We are actually not doing science at this point, we are fully ensconced in philosophy and theology, but these do not offer certainty. The only kind of certainty we can get in terms of belief in God is the personal kind that comes from entering the inner logic of belief and finding that it works to further our lives and our sense of satisfaction with life. It’s that kind of inner assurance that the skeptic refuses to seek. The skeptic wants to be conquered by the facts, but confronted with facts that indicate her world view is wrong, she raises the bar again and again so that the facts no longer warrant belief. Then she refuses belief on the basis that it’s not certainty. That’s why skeptics seek science and believers seek experience.
            Even though it’s not “proof” and even though it’s not certainty in a factual sense, we can still make arguments based upon assumptions and argue for warranted belief. That is to say we can argue that belief in God is not proved but is warranted rationally by the evidence. How much value there is in this approach may be a matter of debate, but it’s probably necessary given the skeptic’s penchant for reductionism. People can be cheated out of faith. People deceive themselves and can be deceived into believing that the epistemic gaps warrant disbelief while the warrant for belief is not enough to combat doubt because it’s not certainty. Certainty in this sense is an irrational demand. Yet people can be led down the path and indoctrinated to demand it. For this reason it’s important to understand the validity of rational warrant. I base my view of “rational warrant” on Stephen Toulmin’s idea of “warrant” in his argumentation model. For Toulmin persuasion is primarily accomplished by grounding claims in data and logic and then establishing warrant that is linking the data and logic of the ground to the conclusion. So the warrant is the link that explains why the data and logic necessitate the desired conclusion.[25] It answers the question “why does the data show your argument to be true?” Of course skeptics will invariably argue “that’s not good enough because it’s not certain.” It can’t be certain. We can’t have certainty in an area where the object of our knowledge is beyond or our understanding. At least we can’t have the kind of certainty they demand. That’s not a good reason for ignoring the warrant. If private personal certainty is all we can have then we should seek it, especially when it brings much better results than scientific factual certainty.

[1] Bhaskar, R.A., Philosophy and the Idea of Freedom, London: Blackwell. 1990
[2] Margenau, H and R.A. Varghese, ed. 1992. Cosmos, Bios, and Theos:Scientists Reflect upon Science, God and the Origins of the Universe…  La Salle, IL, Open Court, p. 52. qjoting Vera Kistiakawsky: bor in 1928, Professor of physics at MIT, she served as president of the Association for Women in Science in 1980-1981.”She had been a staff member of major research installations and had combined teaching with basic research in nuclear physics both at Columbia and Brandeis Universities before joining the faculty at MIT in 1963, and rising in 1972 to the rank of Professor of Physics.  She is now professor emerita there.” From her webapte at Mt Holyoak college (she went to school there—class of 48): URL:  visited 2/8/13
[3], John W Carroll, "Laws of Nature", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . Carrroll cites D. Lewis, , “New Work for a Theory of Universals”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, (1983) 61:367
[4]Santo D'Agostino, op cit.
[5] James Franklin, What Science Knows and How it Knows it. Jackson Tennessee:Encounter books 2009, 64-65. Franklin teaches at University of New South Wales, he’s a mathematician who publishes on History of Ideas.
[6] Karl Popper quoted in Antony Flew, Philosophical Dictionary, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979, 242.
[7] Paul Davies, “Physics and the Mind of God, The Templeton Prize Address,” First Things. (1995). Davies was born in 1946, he is recipient of the Templeton prize, the largest monitory aware for scientific achievement, In the past he has taught at University of Cambridge and is currently director of “BEYOND” center for fundamental concepts in Science.

[8] Ibid.
[9] Collins attended Washington State University. He has a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Notre Dame where he studied under Alvin Plantinga, and did two years in a Ph.D. program in Physics at U.T. Austin. Robin Collins' Curriculum Vita. Accessed Feb 22, 2013. URL: 
[10] Paul Davies (2003). "How bio-friendly is the universe". Op cit
[11] Andrei Linde, “Self Reproducing Inflationary Universe.” originally published Scientific American oct 1997.  now archived as pdf: URL:
Linde is Russian, went to Mascow University, he was one of the originators of inflationary theory. He has been professor of physics at Standford.
[12] ibid
[13] Bradely Monton, “God, Fine Tuning and the Problem of Old Evidence.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Oxford Journals. ·  Volume 57, Issue 2 (2006)
[14] Matthew Kotzen, “Selection biases in Likelihood arguments.” British Journal for The Philosophy of Science. ·  Volume 63, Issue 4 , (2012) 825-839
[15] Martin Rees, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe, NewYork: Basic Books, 2000.
[16] Jim Holt, "War of the Worlds: Do you believe in God? Or in multiple universes?" Lingua Franca, December 2000/January 2001
[17] Andre Linde, op cit.
[18] Earman, John. Bangs, Crunches, Wimpers, and Shrieks: Singularities and Acausalities in Relativistic Spacetimes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995., p. 156
[19] See Albert’s review of Krauss’s book, find in “disprove” chapter,
[20] Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, New York: Bantam, 1988, p. 8
[21] Sten Odenwald, “Stellar Fronteirs, to the Big Bang and Beyond,” Astronomy Magazine, Kalmback Publishing, (May 1987) 90.
[22] Paul Davies, “When Time Began,” New Scientist, (October 9, 2004) 4.
[23] Bruce Reichenbach,  "Cosmological Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = .
[24] David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, op cit, 84-90.
[25] Stephen Toulmin, “Part III The Layout of Arguments: The Pattern of an argument: Data and Warrant,” and “Backing Our Warrants,” The Uses of Argument. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003, (originally 1958)  89-100.