Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Does Voting Belong to Ceasar?

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New York Times, 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.
The court divided along ideological lines, and the two sides drew sharply different lessons from the history of the civil rights movement and the nation’s progress in rooting out racial discrimination in voting. At the core of the disagreement was whether racial minorities continued to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination.
“Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”
The decision will have immediate practical consequences. Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval. Changes in voting procedures in the places that had been covered by the law, including ones concerning restrictions on early voting, will now be subject only to after-the-fact litigation. 

 So the question is, is this just more political hot air, or is this a time to take a stand? To answer that question I ask "what is the relationship between this questoin and the Gospel?" Is doing away with the voting rights act a matter of not living up to the truth of the Gospel? What Jesus say about politics? His statement "render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar's, and unto God that which is God's" (Mark 12:17, Mat 22:15-22) should be a clue. Funny thing about that, he didn't seem to be ready to start a tax revolt. He seemed to think they the Romans do some stuff for us, (ever see the Life of Brion?) so springing for some Taxes to pay for it shouldn't be that big a deal. Yet, what belongs to God? Human life belongs to God, so things that destroy life, or that make it impossible to preach the Gospel or keep it from being heard, one would think do not belong to Cesar. But surely the voting rights act has nothing to do with that stuff, it's just a little voting. We might think voting belongs to Caesar because it's politics, and Cesar is king of politics, politics is of the world. Is that the answer right wing fundamentalists use when they field armies for the Republicans? Caesar is not a democratic figure. He's a symbol of power, becuase the real Cesar was a dictator. Cesar is a symbol of the power elite, the temporal realm. We have to decide weather or not democracy is more than just a silly little game of politically minded pundits, or is it a sacred right and duty to allow people the dignity that goes with being made in God's image?

Paul tells us there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:28). We might infer from this that class divisions and race divisions are wrong. Discrimination is wrong. We might infer that "love your neighbor as yourself" means don't take away her civil rights? We have forgotten the horrible price that was paid, the struggle, how long it took, it bitter and divisive it was for whites who watched it on tv, and for blacks and the few whites who dared who lived it and died for it in real life. The dogs the fire hoses all things of the past no one thinks about that the young of tv of today never new. I actually watched live as cops in Alabama sicked dogs on defenseless women and sprayed them with fire hoses to keep them from sharing the same rights that white men enjoy.

Of course the court denies that we will have to do this again. The court's logic is based upon a sham argument about how we have changed:

 “Our country has changed,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.”(see NYT Link above)
 The redistricting plan that Texas is putting into effect means that the Replicans will never be out of office in Texas. It will change the balance of power in congress. Texas is notorious for Gerrymandering (we call it "Perrymandering."--that's really how Rick Perry got in office). They re-draw the distinctions every time the Democrats do better in an election.

As for the argument that the country has changed, I have a black friend who was denied a hair cut in barbershop in Farmer's Branch Texas in 1992. That is the same community that tried to start it's own immigration service to kick out Spanish speakers and tried to make English the official language. How long before decisions regarding those things get reversed? This is a right wing coup d'etat. The same kind of mentality I talked about before, perhaps a bit more rational. But the same refusal to admit the people want the other guys. We don't care what the people, we are the country not the people. We the rulers, the elite, "the good Chrsitains," the right wing, we are the real people, the poor don't count.

It's going to take a long time to build up to the point where we can have another civil rights movement. We had a election stolen from us in 2000. They did everything they could to stop blacks form voting in Floria so they could steal the election and put Bush in. 

Independent investigations in that state revealed serious irregularities directed mostly against ethnic minorities and low-income residents who usually voted heavily Democratic. Some 36,000 newly registered voters were turned away because their names had never been added to the voter rolls by Florida’s secretary of state Kathleen Harris. By virtue of the office she held, Harris presided over the state’s election process while herself being an active member of the Bush Jr. state-wide campaign committee. Other voters were turned away because they were declared--almost always incorrectly--“convicted felons.” In several Democratic precincts, state officials closed the polls early, leaving lines of would-be voters stranded.
Under orders from Governor Jeb Bush (Bush Jr.’s brother), state troopers near polling sites delayed people for hours while searching their cars. Some precincts required two photo IDs which many citizens do not have. The requirement under Florida law was only one photo ID. Passed just before the election, this law itself posed a special difficulty for low-income or elderly voters who did not have drivers licenses or other photo IDs. Uncounted ballot boxes went missing or were found in unexplained places or were never collected from certain African-American precincts. During the recount, GOP agitators shipped in from Washington D.C. by the Republican national leadership stormed the Dale County Canvassing Board, punched and kicked one of the officials, shouted and banged on their office doors, and generally created a climate of intimidation that caused the board to abandon its recount and accept the dubious pro-Bush tally.[1]

In the next election, 2004, there were irregularities that help up blacks form voting in states like Ohio and  Missouri. But as injustice mounts it will take time to prove it, time to prove the extent of it, time for the next court to conclude "ma bye things aren't that different after all." In the mean time a lot of "eschatology" is going hit the fan.

As Phil Ochs said "let it never be again." Now it will be.

 [1] For these various irregularities, see New York Times, 30 November 2000 and 15 July 2001; Boston Globe, 30 November 2000 and 10 March 2001. A relevant documentary is Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election, L.A. Independent Media Center Film, 2004. (the author's fn form his site).

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Day Evangelical Christianity Stood Still

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 the original film The Day the Earth Stood Still,
1951, 20th century fox, Directed Robert wise.

Some foolishness is being perpetrated upon the world of Christianity that is so nutso that I genuinely think the people doing it are insane. I first learned about it while a friend was taking me to eat for my birthday. She began telling me about a startling video done by a group of fundamentalists who claim that the true dirty secret behind the Catholic chruch is a flying saucer cult that secretly worships a space alien anti-Christ who will soon emerge on the scene as the world dictator and thus fulfill the prophesies in the book of revelation, sort of. At first I couldn't get what she was saying, then it dawned upon me. She actually thinks that the Catholic chruch is a secret flying saucer cult that believes in a messiah alien. As I began to express a certain amount of incredulity (certain extracts from the Aqualine digestive process were referenced). She assured me that had to be true becasue "they are Christian men." Who are they "they are Christian men." What do they know about the Catholic church. "They must be right they are Christian mean." I wrote this off as the kookie machinations of a woman who once answered a question about which ocean a certain town in Costa Richa was situated upon by saying "I don't know what all those oceans are doing." Then I find out from a firend that his borhter is into this stuff and it's getting big.

I feel so betrayed. After all these years of defending the gospel form atheists and trying to get people to look at the most rational side of Christianity they pull this! I feel like a parent who has taken his kid to Harvard to try and get him in, while convincing the dean that the kid is worthy to go there behind my back the kid is intimating a chimp and doing three stooges sounds. But first things first, what is this about? A blog called Before it's News, ran a stroy on March 2, 2013, "The Vatican's secret Plan for the Arrival of an Alien God."

Thomas Horn is an internationally recognized lecturer, radio host and bestselling author of several books including his newest books, Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here. He returns to Red Ice to discuss the recent abdication of Pope Benedict the 16th and the prophecy of the final pope, “Peter the Roman,” whose reign would end in the destruction of Rome. The pope of lists from St. Malachy’s heralds the beginning of “great apostasy” followed by “great tribulation” sets the stage for the imminent unfolding of apocalyptic events. According to this prophecy, the next pope will be a false prophet who leads the world’s religious communities into embracing a political leader known as Antichrist.

Of cousre it's possible that this Tom Horn is a Christian man, in which he must be right. But at this point it could still just be a group of crack pots with a wild theory (you think?). Yet there are others sounding the alarm. 

An anguished tortured website called "Now the End Begins" bellows the warning "the also shall roar out of Zion." "For Generations the Bible has warned of the coming end of are living in that time."
The Pope Welcomes Space Aliens. "Highly evolved extra terrestrial life forms may be living in space and would be welcomed into the (Catholic) church - "no matter how many tentacles" Senior Vatican scientist, Brother Guy Consolmagno, speaking to the British Science Festival, said....

According to an article by Erik Van Datiken in the "Weekly World News," two dozen Roman Catholic Priests took a top secret program to train them to be ready to be missionaries in outer space, intensive training in approaches and techniques to be used in spreading the gospel in space. The article further stated that they are ready to go at a moment's notice when ordered by Pope Benedict XV1. However, the article did not address how they would get to the other worlds to spread the gospel. The "Weekly World News" first broke the story in 2004 that the priests were going to Mars and beyond and that the Vatican University's Alfonse Academy contained a secret Unidentified Flying Objects section. "This is a truly staggering development, because for the first time the Church is recognizing that human beings are not the only intelligent creatures in the universe," theology professor Dr. Rudolph Koller told reporters in Salzburg, Austria."
April 23, 2013
The Vatican's secret plan
for the arrival of an alien god
900-year-old Catholic prophesy 

Pope Benedict XVI has resigned as pope, just as the authors predicted he would in their 2012 bestseller “Petrus Romanus: The Final Pope Is Here.” Now Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam break the greatest story of our time and expose the elitists and intellectuals who are planning to assimilate mankind under a coming 'savior,' one whom the prophet Daniel foresaw as "an alien god."

Needless to say there's a youtube video.

This may require a keen detective's mind, does it seem soemthing might be amiss here? I mean first of all, the quote doesn't actually say "we are ally looking for the alien messiah to come," It says life forms may be living in space and would be welcomed in the catholic chruch. What are the Catholics really saying? Are there any examples of Catholics trying to proselytize for the alien messiah? Probably this is all based upon a conference in which some Catholic Bishops discussed hypothetically how they would respond to alien life it were discovered. Catholic News Service issued a report about a "Vatican Sponsored Meeting Discusses Chances of Extra Terrestrial life,." by Carol Glatz, this was way back in 2009.

 It seems obvious the reality is that the Catholic chruch has some elements that are more forward thinking than a lot protestants and some fundamentalists are threatened by this. They are just discussing possibilities and hypothetical, dangle that in front of rabidly anti-catholic protestants and it speaks to them of something paranoid and ugly. They are threatened by the unknown. I'm threatened too. This stuff does make me feel like the native Americans must have felt the first time they heard reports of strange men in big wooden things floating in the ocean. That hardly equates to the book of Revelation. I'm not threatened to the point of concocting insane theories. On the other hand it's more important to ask why are there these segments of the chruch that are so alarmed by things that they fly off the handle this way? My friend remarked about his brother that for him Christianity has just become the rapture, nothing more. His politics are extremely right wing, he's upset about the elections.

I have been observing for several years now that evangelicals were forgetting the gospel. They have spend so long battling the accouterments of modern world and reflecting politics of by gone centuries so far back it echos faint traces of waving the bloody shirt (a controversy from right after the civil war). The xenophobic reaction to immigration, nostalgia for the old days (pre civil war south) spawned red scares and anti-communism. Fear of evolution and Darwin led to doctrines of inerrancy of the Bible, and back reading into history of position that where never there (no Church father ever talked about the five doctrines of evangelicalism). In  latter times this all gave way to republican politics, support for Reagan, the vilification of Democratic candidates. Losing the last election was so traumatic for them because they came to be tried to republican politics they were so sure that after a first term Obama would never be accepted.

The Gospel just becomes the escape clause. I'm getting out of this made house of a world. All the signs of the times point to my escape. Sings of the time never go anywhere. Everyone in every age sees them. By the way, the thing about priests going to do evangelism on another planet was literally out of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," which is laden with Christian themes and symbols. (IMDb on Close Encoutners). In that film there's a scene where a long line of government people are ready to go take their place on the alien ship as hostage exchange, and a religoius figure, minister or priest lectures them on God being "out there." That's stragnely similar to the claim above that Priests have already been assigned to travel to other planets.It all just sinks into the most mundane conflict, redemption becomes escape, loving the enemy becomes hatred or pity but issues forth in demonizing the enemy. What does it mean psychologically to say our enemies have began to worship beings that aren't human. Of cousre some of those source term them "lizard aliens." So they lizard men. This strikes me as a deep demonizing tendency. They have come to see Catholics and liberals and those whom they blame for not getting their way as so inhuman that they are alien lizard men worshipers. Things are so far gone at that point that I don't know how they can be brought back, except that God specializes in the impossible.

I grew up with that kind of fear and hatred of Catholics. They were evil, their chruch was the secret empire of satan. Maybe it was a hold over from the Reformation when Protestants and Catholics were killing each other. Maybe it was living the south where everyone was an enemy if they weren't from around our neck of the woods. Maybe southern racism played a role too becuase those dark swarthy "Italians" and other such brown type people were Catholics. We had documents in our home that purported to be secret archives liberated from the Vatican and allege most preposterous BS about Catholicism. That kind of sectarian paranoia was and is going away. There was a time when Presbyterians and Baptists would have nothing to do with each other and Methodists and Calvinists were pronouncing each other to be evil. The chruch has come a long way since those days. The little group of Church of Christ half way house people with whom I worshiped when I first got saved wound up letting a Spanish methodist chruch share their building for free. That Spanish group keeps them supplied with the best Mexican cooking north of the Rio Grande. The Charismatic movement brought down all such walls. Catholics and protestants and even Orthodox marched together in the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and charismatic movement. It was right wing politics that coopted all of that with Regan. Right wing is always the paranoid wing.

My friend kept pressing me to take an interest in the video I told her that's not what I understand Christianity to be about. What did Jesus say about how people know we are his followers. I began to sing a little song the charismatics used to sing "they know we are Christians by our love." My sister is super sentimental about the old Charismatic movement. I sensed she was just about to star singing and I said "they know we are Christians because we condemn the bad guys without UFO videos?" I'm not sure if she really gets it but she quit pestering me about the video.

  photo the-day-the-earth-stood-still-special-edition-20081204031734253-000_zpsd230edd4.jpg
 Klatoo Nicto Barta
would you buy a used space ship from this Messiah?

IMBd The Day the Earth Stood Still
Michael Rennie, Patricia Neil

Thursday, June 20, 2013

My Answer to Austin Cline: Kind God Makes You Kind

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 Dancing over the hill with death from Bergman's Seventh Seal

On the CADRE blog to today BK argues with atheist pundit Austin Cline who says that cruel people choose a cruel God. He's quoting Bertrand Russell. BK says:

If I understand this argument (which isn’t really so much an argument as an assertion), Cline believes that non-belief in God allows the Atheist to be kind. Yet, his paragraph on kindness does not really support this idea. He apparently agrees with Bertrand Russell’s statement (which I believe to be nonsense) that, “Men tend to have the beliefs that suit their passions. Cruel men believe in a cruel god and use their belief to excuse cruelty. Only kindly men believe in a kindly god, and they would be kindly in any case.”(CADRE comments, "Does Atheism Promote Kindness?" June 19th, 2013).

I basically agree with you BK but there are a couple of things I want to add.

The statement by Russell was not original.When I was at Agape Force in the East Texas Branch (their golden age: Keith Green and Second chapter of Acts lived next door) they had us read an old 19th book by some evangelist, can't remember the name, called "Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation." He argued the very same thing. He was saying that pagan religions do this. That's why violent people like the Thugees had Kali goddess of evil as their goddess. That's really a misunderstanding of Kali and of Indian culture.

In any case I don't think that atheism frees one to be kind, but makes it "cool" to be cruel. Look at the rationalizations for using mockery and ridicule--we have to stop stupid ideas so it's ok to hurt people because its so important they emulate our brilliant ideas. Atheist guru Keith Parsons say:

I am. I ain’t a Christian. I don’t turn the other cheek or love my enemies or pray for those that say mean things about atheists.

What justifies ridicule? The ridiculous deserves to be ridiculed. Well, we should spare the innocent ridiculousness of those who cannot help it–the genuinely, pathetically dimwitted or uneducated. But pernicious, aggressive ridiculousness by smart, educated people who are attempting to foist their ridiculousness on the rest of us–that richly deserves ridicule. Those who attempt to use the power of the state to cram their fatuous, hateful ideology down the throats of everyone else–by having creationism taught in the public schools, say–are contemptible and fully deserving of contemptuous laughter. I heard Lewis Black do a terrific rant on creationism. Priceless.
Ah, yes the soul of kindness.

We need to use empirical study to compare populations. Cline's statement, no surprise, is anecdotal. The empirical facts show that religious people are much less likely to depressed or mentally ill. Of those religious people who are depressed or mentally ill or have low self esteem it's more likely to be those with a  negative God image.

It is true that Christians can have a negative view of God. A huge body of empirical study shows that those who do have low self esteem. That is not limited to atheists but is true of atheists as well.

I notice that atheists are quite likely to mock the idea of "happiness" when they attack the religious experience studies. As though happiness is just nothing at all we don't even need it. Then we find Cline using it as an inducement to become an atheist. You will be happier, of course if Christianity makes you happier then happiness is something we don't need. The empirical facts are that studies show religion makes one happier, like it or not.

Kind God Makes you Kind

Those have religious experiences, especially those labeled "mystical" tend to be more socially conscious and kinder than those who don't have such experiences.

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. "
A major aspect of mystical experience is an overwhelming all pervasive sense of love and being loved. We should take this as the sense of God's love, thus loving God makes you kind.

Religion and Happiness

by Michael E. Nielsen, PhD

Many people expect religion to bring them happiness. Does this actually seem to be the case? Are religious people happier than nonreligious people? And if so, why might this be?

Researchers have been intrigued by such questions. Most studies have simply asked people how happy they are, although studies also may use scales that try to measure happiness more subtly than that. In general, researchers who have a large sample of people in their study tend to limit their measurement of happiness to just one or two questions, and researchers who have fewer numbers of people use several items or scales to measure happiness.

What do they find? In a nutshell, they find that people who are involved in religion also report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not religious. For example, one study involved over 160,000 people in Europe. Among weekly churchgoers, 85% reported being "very satisfied" with life, but this number reduced to 77% among those who never went to church (Inglehart, 1990). This kind of pattern is typical -- religious involvement is associated with modest increases in happiness

Religion is the most powerful Factor in well being.

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


"The authors found that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predictor of existential well being. The degree to which an individual felt close to God was the most important factor in terms of existential well-being. While frequency of prayer contributed to general life satisfaction and personal happiness. As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combination of religious items, including prayer, relationship with God, and other measures of religious experience to begin to adequately clarify the associations of religious commitment with general well-being."
Recent Empirical Studies Prove Religious Believers have less depression, mental illness lower Divorce rate, ect.

J. Gartner, D.B. Allen, The Faith Factor: An Annotated Bibliography of Systematic Reviews And Clinical Research on Spiritual Subjects Vol. II, David B. Larson M.D., National Institute for Health Research Dec. 1993, p. 3090


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

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

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


a) Unbeliever is the Sick Soul

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

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



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

[sources sited by Amaro BION, W. R. Atenção e interpretação (Attention and interpretation). Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1973.

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

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

Neilson on Maslow


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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Courage to be vs the Cowardly Mind


Paul Tillich wrote a little paper back called The Courage To BE in which he set forth one of his most important concepts, the "God beyond God." That phrase refers to the truth of God beyond the cultural constructs and religious doctrines which are constructed out of cultural constructs. Of course Tillich didn't write in all this post structuralist jargon. The idea behind the title is that belief requires courage. A lot of people think he was saying that the existentialists have the real courage, but he was not only lauding the existentialist but any person of faith who is willing to seek God beyond traditionalism. The phrase "cowardly mind" I take from Joseph Campbell in his Hero With A Thousand Faces. There he says that cynicism appears as insight to the cowardly mind.

This is phrase is very apt for atheists on CARM and fora  huge segment of atheists in general, especially the "new atheists." What the phrase means is this, you have cynics who dogmatically take the negative, believe the worst, area always ready to tear down anything that isn't in their comfort zone. New thoughts and ideas are always a negative proposition for such people. Everything is bad you can be sure everything will turn out wrong. We see these people in Atheist circles and on Atheist message boards to a extreme degree. They think cynicism is insight because they are afraid to risk being wrong. These are the people who mock and ridicule faith because "belief without evidence is stupid." Usually they don't face belief without evidence they face a barrage of evidence which they ignore, they dogmatically sweep aside without truly examining it. We can see this in their responses to God arguments where they always take the option that is least likely. No matter how unlikely it is they will take over the risk of belief in God which may turn out to be wrong.

For example in my version of the cosmological argument (cosmological necessity) I can work it down to a choice between the unsupported possibility of a rules change beyond our space/time or some other unknown, like string membranes or something we have no support for, vs the probability which is on our side, that every we see requires a cause. They are always willing to assume that the unsupported is more likely becuase it supports their unbelief, and to assume that God is least likely because why? they don't want God. They are afraid to move beyond the template of their ideological socialization because that might be a risk and risks are always bad. That's a cynical move but they embrace it as insight. That's the point, the cowardly mind looks at the world and sees the constant critic who never says anything positive or supportive but constantly ridicules and they take this as "insight" because it supports not taking risks. Atheists are always lauding "skepticism" that's to be expected, they are skeptics of course. A certain amount of skepticism is good. But I find so many atheists expressing real contempt for the basic concept of belief itself especially if it invovles the unseen. They hate the concept of the unseen. To them that's a red flag to a bull. I think that is becasue the unseen threatens to take them out of their comfort zone where they have come to rest in the trumped up concept of science as all knowing; thus they place scinece in the place of God and expect it to save them from the angry God they  hope doesn't exist.

I can't blame anyone for rejecting the concept of hell on its face due to the absurdly revenge oriented nature of it. I can't blame anyone for dumping the concept of the big angry sky father as a instigator of the abruptly vengeful concept of hell. But this sort of thing gets to the point where they distort the meaning of faith itself, creating a straw man argument to the extent that "faith is believe any kind of evidence" to such an extent that the true meaning of faith, trust, is forgotten and seems  a foreign concept, than I just suspect this is the cowardly mind at work. They want their comfort zone which is built upon the assertion that only science matter, because scinece "proves" (supposedly) that religion is stupid so therefore they are not in danger. This I see as the cowardly mind because they are afraid to move beyond the safe confines of that which can be proved empirically and that which the white lab coat god will approve.

Recent run-ins on CARM have borne this out for me. One atheist self styled "Big Thinker" (yea, can you bleieve it?) was saying that God is imaginary. "Prove it" I say. His proof: God doesn't' exist. God is imaginary because he's only the mind. Astounding proof! The proof that he doesn't exist? He's not real. further prodding revealed his line of reasoning: imaginary things can't be seen, can't be detected with the senses, have no impact upon the world, and God is like this too. God can't be seen or detected with the senses and has no impact upon the world (that we can prove to his satisfaction)  therefore God must be imaginary. In other words, if you think it quakes like a duck, if you hallucinate that it walks like a duck, it it's in your fantasies that it looks like a duck, you might be having a delusion that you see a duck.

I try the old reliable ploy of bringing up thing in scince that fit the same criteria, we can detect them with the sense and they don't have a perceptible impact upon the world:

the singularity
the big bang
string membranes
dark matter
other subatomic particles.

The scoffed at the concept of dark matter, he must think it's a Christian doctrine. But when all was said and done what it came down to was, that stuff is ok, it doesn't matter that it meets the criteria of imaginary things because scinece guys say its ok, ("its part of a theoretical heuristic--he didn't know that word--that is demonstrated by a theoretical data matrix blah blah yada yada). My stuff that can't be seen is imaginary because it's not part of this er zots god thing he worships which protects from the angry god. In other words, if it's part of the ideological template it's ok. It's his stuff so it doesn't matter that that it meets the same criteria. It's only stuff not sanctioned by the ideological template that is indicative of delusion.

This tendency to abhor anything not part of the ideological temple is an aspect of the cowardly mind. Just ilke the guys who were afraid to look through the telescope and see mountains on the moon because they feared it would be a trick, they are refusing to think about things hey have not thought about before because they have their little world all worked out where its comfy and they don't have to think too hard and it is not scary because it keeps big mean god away. If they move out into the cold cruel world where we don't know everything then they might have to re think the big mean god thing and get scared again. It's this fear that kept people from sailing off the end of the world. Of course the real joke is that these cowardly minded people call themselves "free thinkers!"

Part of the myth that supports their comfort zone is the pretense that science is the only form of knowledge. That's how they know there's nothing to fear, becasue there's nothing beyond what science tells us is there. Science will never tell them the big mean god si there so they don't have to worry, but only so long as scinece is the only form of knowledge. If there are other forms of knowledge then they have to fear becasue one of those forms might tell them that there is something to think about in the unseen that will bring on fears of the big mean god. For this reason when his stuff meets the criteria of imaginary that's ok because it's sanctioned by the ideology, when it doesn't then we have to disparage it and go on message boards and mock and ridicule people who believe in it. In the old days we had an expression for that, it was called "special pleading."

Now it is true that these phenomena such as dark matter have some aspects that are supportive of their existence. We can't see them or detect them with our senses and we have no devices that will pick them up as radar detects a storm moving in, but there are ways of doing it:

John Polkinghorne (major physicist)

To respond to (2) first: since no-one knows what Dark Matter is, almost anything is possible.  But Dark Matter is subject to gravity – that’s how we deduce that it is there.  Therefore any abnormal increase in the density of Dark Matter (such as would be associated with a putative DarkHomoSapiens) would presumably have measurable gravitational effects.  This rules out many obvious ways in which there might be a DarkHomoSapiens. And the whole area is so speculative that it is scientifically impossible to address meaningfully.

Polkinghorne himself did not write that but his assistant did, and we are told the man himself reads all and approves the answers. But thing is I've laboriously discussed in the past how we can detect the Trace of God, I just wrote a book about it. That book may be coming out in a few months (hint hint). Same your pennies. We have these 200 studies, yes peer reviewed, yes published in academic journals, and they show religious expression can be discernment scientifically and distinguished from fantasy and folly. Like the guys who refused to look through Galileo's telescope the atheists on CARM steadfastly refuse to look at a single study. I have put out the link to a chapter in the text book by Ralph Hood the major researcher on the M scale (inventor of the M scale) the leading researcher in the field. The chapter talks about the studies on mystical experience and explains the M scale in detail. They refuse to click on the link. I put it right in front of them and they wont look. All the while the insightful cynics steadfastly that the studies are no good, they are not in peer reviewed journals, they can't be trusted, yet none of them has ever bothered to get one!

That is the cowardly mind at work (not to mention laziness). They are so anxious to have the universe sealed off from God that mock and ridicule metaphysics but they are doing metaphysics all the time. It is metaphysics to say "there is no such things as the unseen." To say "there is no metaphysics" is a highly metaphysical statement. They are so anxious to have their comfort zones totally proved and supported 100% and declared the only form of truth that they are closing off possibilities and losing phenomena and special pleading all over the place. In fact most of what exists is unknown to us.

Polikinghorne again:

However since it is known that only 4% of the matter and energy in the  Universe is made of what we understand as matter, and most of the  universe seems, on current understandings, to be “dark matter” and “dark  energy” about which we know nearly nothing, and no-one knows how to  reconcile Quantum Mechanics with General Relativity (the much-hyped  String Theory looks increasingly like a dead-end) it is unwise to assume  that current understandings of cosmology represent the last word.

I would suggest that this 4% is really more like 0.000000000000000000000000000x? When we take into account the whole of reality. The cowardly mind forms itself into a constant critic which must ridicule everything that crosses its path because it has to maintain the inviolability of the ideology at all costs. That means it's bound for a paradigm shift, it can't help but become top heavy with anomalies eventually.

One thing about Jesus, he's a good paradigm shifter.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Is God simple or Complex?

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I have dealt with the issue before, "Is God complex?" about a year ago. I'm not satisfied with my answer because I got off on a tangent. The idea that God is complex and that somehow that disproves God or makes it harder to believe in God, is all over the place, ever atheist message board, on thousands of pages it a standard myth of their propaganda. Having dealt with it again recently I feel like it's time to give it a good bash.

Take the view point of Richard Dawkins in his most celebrated work The God Delusion. [1]

The argument from improbability is the big one. In the traditional guise of the argument from design, it is easily today’s most popular argument offered in favor of the existence of God, and it is  seen, by an amazingly large number of theists, as completely and utterly convincing. It is indeed a very strong, and, I suspect, unanswerable argument—but in precisely the opposite direction form the theist’s intension. The argument from improbability, properly deployed, comes close to proving that God does not exist…[2]

This quotation tells us several very important things about the manner in which the major leader of the new atheist movement thinks. The first thing this quotation tells us is that Dawkins’ views evolution as an atheist territory, he doesn’t think of evolution as a theistic possibility, he can only conceive of belief in God being the domain of people who can’t understand evolution. He thinks of God belief as strictly creationist territory. He basically says as much in following up this quotation above he talks about the analogy of a 747 being assembled by random chance from a junk yard. “This in a nutshell is the creationist favorite argument.”[3] He doesn’t say there are other theological views and he doesn’t deal with them, as though they don’t exist. One might forgive this tendency if he thinks liberal theology is just out of the main stream and thus beyond the focus of the popular audience. Nevertheless he goes even further, “It turns out to be the God hypothesis that tries to get the free lunch…however statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by evoking a designer, the designer himself has got to be at least as improbable. God is the ultimate 747.”[4]
            He is doing more than just reversing the design argument he’s trying to apply the logic of the design argument to a critique of belief in God. This led to the often repeated refrain on message boards and blogs, “who designed the designer?” That’s not exactly what he’s saying either. He is establishing the idea that God has to meet the same requirements of probability that nature has to meet as an alternative to God. The point here, however, is that he is enabled to make this argument by the badly misconstrued nature of theology in the evangelical camp. That misconstrual allows for an application of the same principle to God that we take to examining nature. He is treating God like a big man in the sky. Is God subject to the laws of probability? It is the fundamentalist tendency to think of God as a big man in the sky rather than the foundation of all that is, that conditions the atheist appraoch. When we think of God as “creator” and “designer” rather than “ground of being” we put God in the category to be analyzed by the laws of probability. There is no logical reason why the ground of being could be analyzed as though it is just another thing in creation alongside flush toilets and swizzle sticks. In reality, God is not probable at all. The word “complex” is meaningless when used of the basis of all that is. “Complex” is a relative term. A jigsaw puzzle is complex compared to a baby’s building blocks. It may be child’s play compared to a printed circuit or higher mathematics.  This is like trying to apply up and down, north, south, east, and west in outer space. Which way is up when there’s no down? Which way is west when there’s no horizon? The creationists really put the misconception in motion by thinking of God a “designer.” It would have been better to peserve the truth of God that the church fathers taught us, that God is beyond our understanding. In their haste to produce an argument that would impress modern science the apologists (William Paley before him Newton and Boyle) tried to ground proof in empirical data and succeeded only in creating the impression, perhaps even against their own beliefs, that God can be thought of analogously to a big man in the sky. Dawkins is not going to work very hard at correcting the impression. Through the ground of being concept we can realize God’s reality without having to rely upon data or empirical scientific observations to know that God is real.

Official Christian doctrine says God is simple:

  • Catholic Teaching:

  • God is not composed or divisible by any physical or metaphysical means. Simplicity of God refers to the fact that he has no parts. The simplicity teaching extends to the entire nature of God. His substance, nature, and very being is that of utter simplicity. The properties usually attributed to God such as omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence do not contradict the teaching of simplicity because each property is a different way of looking at the infinite active being of God from a limited perspective. One consequence of this teaching is the fact that since God is simple, he must be a pure spirit.
    • Definition of the Dogma:

    The dogma of simplicity follows from the teachings of the 4th Lateran Council and the first Vatican Council which stated that God is an absolutely simple substance or nature. The basis of this De Fide dogma can be found within the gospel of John, "God is a spirit" (John 4:24).
    • Heresies which reject or confuse this teaching:

    Anthropomorphism (the heresy of believing God has a body) violates the dogma of simplicity. Anthropomorphism, latent in Mormonism, paganism and polytheism fails to consider the fact that God exists in complete and total actuality. Since God has not unrealized potentiality in the metaphysical sense, he cannot possibly have parts or a body.
    Additionally, pantheism, New Age religions and some of the more naiveté Christian sects tend to view God as a diffuse metaphysical being that permeates nature and gives nature a certain metaphysical share in divinity. Such a doctrinal stance violates the teaching of God’s simplicity by assuming that nature has a metaphysical share in God’s nature. The creations of God can play no part in his metaphysical being without violating his simplicity.[5]
    Atheists are now arguing that if God is mind and God imagines the world then that would make God complex, becuase it's a complex mind that has a lot of stuff in it. But that's assuming the kind of mind that is supported by a physical brain and that needs dendrites to house memory. There is no proof that  a purely mental reality would would be complex. Minds can have an infinite number of things in them and not take up any room.

    Even if we wanted to accept that God is complex why would it have the same consequences that Dawkins argues for it? When Dawkins says that complexity is less likely than simplicity he's assuming an evolutionary process. God is not the product of an evolutionary process. Because Dawkins assumes an evolutionary process he also assumes a flesh and blood organism, and God is not that either. There is no evidence for a mental being to be complex it would produce any kind result that would impare God's existence.


    [1] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion. New York: First Marionor books, Houton Mifflin Company, 2008 first published in Great Britain by Bantam, 2006. On line version  Google Books URL:
    [2]  Ibid. online page number 138 all quotations from this source are from the Google books online version.
    [3] Ibid.
    [4] Ibid.
    [5]S.M. Miranda, "Good is Simple,"Catholic

    Friday, June 14, 2013

    My Review of "Woman in the Dunes "


    Hiroshi Teshigahara's  greatest work, Woman in the Dunes, circa 1964, is a brilliant film. I have seen it only one time, this summer just a few weeks ago was my first time and yet I include it among my very favorite films, maybe no 12 of my all-time list. It's themes are universal and existential, which usually makes for a great film. It's well shot, beautiful cinematography, well acted and though it seems like it would be tedious is compelling and I could not stop watching. It's filmed in Black and White and this one of those times when the b/w make for a powerful image rather than bland lack of color.

    One of the dominate camera angles of the entire film
    is the very tiny

    Kôbô Abe (novel)
    Kôbô Abe (screenplay)


      (Credited cast)
    Eiji Okada... Entomologist Niki Jumpei
    Kyôko Kishida... Woman
    Hiroko Ito... Entomologist's wife (in flashbacks)
    Kôji Mitsui

    Sen Yano

    Ginzô Sekiguchi

    rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Kiyohiko Ichiha

    Hideo Kanze

    Hiroyuki Nishimoto

    Tamotsu Tamura

    See more »

    Hiroshi Teshigahara (January 28, 1927 – April 14, 2001)

    This film is often said to be the product of Toykyo cafe society existentialism as found on the Ginza  of the early 60s. I don't think we can pin it down that directly, but it definitely reflects what was in the air in that decade. By 1964 the Japanese society has srong ties to America and Europe. Even Kurosawa was well versed in Western art and thought before the war. Woman in the Dunes is about a man, despite the title,Entomologist Niki Jumpei, who goes to a desert region to find a rare insect he calls "the tiger beetle." Locals offer him a place to stay for the night as it is getting late. He gratefully accepts they take him to an area which pits and quick sand and its hard to walk. They take down into a pit where a small ramshackle house sits in the pit. The house is owned by a woman who has some mysterious job she doesn't explain that has to do with moving sand out of the pit. She shovels it and other draw it up in buckets on ropes, unseen men who are somewhere beyond outside the pit.

    The next morning Niki gets ready to leave, thanks the woman, goes out and sees the rope ladder isn't there. He calls for the ladder but finds they will not lower it or even answer. After some time finally gets the drift, he is to stay there the rest of his life and help the woman shovel sand! Of cousre he's outraged and we go through a spell of his anger and refusal. But he falls back upon his own view of himself; he's a teacher, he's a rational man, he knows more than most people, it's an intellectual challenge but a bunch of rubes such as these can't keep him closed up in a pit! He is actaully arrogant and even to the point of telling the woman her own experiences, which he knows better than she herself. He knows everything and corrects her on everything. He prays out of her the reason why she is shoveling sand. Her logic is convoluted and silly. Her reasoning really is circular and pointless, but it's still the landscape that defines the new reality. She is shoveling sand because if she doesn't shovel it the pit will cave in an bury the house. In fact her husband and child died in that way a year before. Why does she not leave? Because the village is her home, he's part of it, she belongs to it. Why not the whole village leave? No place to go. Most have already gone anyway, the village is dying and in an attempt to keep it going they have kidnapped many people. She tells him of others who have been there ten, fifteen, twenty years. Why not just let it die out, others left why don't they? It's their village, they have to save their village it's their home. The woman also voices her own concerns that in the pit she is the homeowner and she has a valid place, in Tokyo (if she went back with him) she's a homeless stranger with no place to go dependent upon him. It is in this conversation that Niki is prompted to utter a phrase which signifies the film's existential theme: he says "are you shoveling sand t live, or living to shovel sand?" He goes on strike and refuses to shovel and even stop her form it. The pit almost caves in she tells him you have to do it every day or it will bury you. So he does give in and they work hard to catch up and keep shoveling. Thus is winds up shoveling to live and living to shovel.

    Teshigahara employ's several cinematic techniques to communicate the profound nature of the subject matter. He begins from the credits with a disorienting establishing shot that shows sand particles on microscopic level so that they actually appear to be a landscape in a desert. Then he pulls away so that we can see they are small particles of sand in a land scape of a desert. He also focuses on the woman face and neck so close that the sand stuck her skin looks like rolling hills. Again the pulling away so that gradually we see where we are. He also focuses upon a drop of water in the same way, and in another shot to emphasize how much water means in such a place he fades from the scene to a splash of water in such a double exposure that it seems as though the drop is wetting the entire world around it. Thus there is this interspersion of the very tiny and the grandiose. We lose perspective. The tiny becomes the world, a world unto itself, the world around becomes a collection of the very tiny. This gives us teh feeling going into ourselves. This sense of the shrinking into the inner world, and the undifferentiated unity of all things, the tiny in the grandiose and the grandiose in the tiny will be very important in the over all film by the end.

    Niki makes a successful escape. We see him saving little tools and bits of rope and al manner of things he needs to get out of the pit. But he is not able to calculated or provide for what happens outside. He escapes by making a crude grappling hook. From the roof of the house he pulls himself up the cliff wall having stuck the hook on something outside the pit. He then runs and he stays at large until dark. He accident runs around a corner in the hill side of some area he has never been to before (he has no real sense of there the village lies) he runs right into a woman. He is chased and is getting away but finds himself in quick sand. He's sinking up to his chest and has to call help or die. The peruses run out wearing sand shoes, like snow shoes only made from wooden plans lashed to their feet with rope or whatever. They pull him out and take him back. Over the course of the next few months Niki and the woman (never know her name). The two fall deeply in love. The make love a lot and (no porno scenes). The woman is pregnant but it turns out she has a problem. She is sick and a doctor comes and says that she may die the baby may die they both may die. They take her out.

    After they take her off, and Niki just watches, they leave the rope ladder down. He stares at it for some time. They left it down. Do they actually want him to leave? Or were they just focused on the woman and forgot the ladder? He climbs to the top, and looks around. He walks a ways. He could leave. It's his chance, but he watches a bird fly and makes some observation about the bird is free form the ground but trapped in the sky or some such. He has his tiger beetle collection to maintain. He's got ties now and he also doesn't need to leave. He goes back into the pit. The last thing he thinks is "I'll escape some time." The view might think Teshigahara is saying something about giving up or developing ties that bind us into a way of life, but it's not really that. The guy has evolved not only through his love for the woman but also in coming to understand that he's free in himself. His observation about the bird he is in the pit but he's also in watching the bird he's in the sky it's all the same. He can appreciate the world as a whole but he can also appreciate the gran of sand in the pit and little beetle at his feet. It's all the same. Freedom is captivity and captivity is freedom. He's found enlightenment. He doesn't need escape, just being is an escape. That relates to the world of the tiny and it's similarity to the world of the large landscape, the realization that the tiny is a landscape of its' own. The focus from large to tiny brings us into disorientation then the realization that all is unified it's all one thing. It draws us into the inner world, the world of the mind which related to going tiny, going in.

    The shoveling of sand  is often compared by reviewers to the Myth of the Sisyphus, the legendary Greek who was condemned by the gods to push a rock up a hill forever, when he gets to the top the rock falls down again. He's trapped in a meaningless endeavor forever. That myth has been expropriated by existentialists as their signature myth (ala Camus). The sand shoveling is likened unto the pushing of the rock, are you shoveling sand to live, or living to shovel sand? But there are differences. Unlike the myth of Sisyphus the sand shoveling relates to real life necessity not to some meaningless drudgery. Even though shoveling he sand is drudgery, it's meaningless relative to leaving, it's necessary if one is to live in the pit. The border implication puts it on a level of a commentary upon society. The useless nature of staying to resuscitate a dying village, kidnapping people to make them save a village it's own people are abandoning, raises a lot of questions about modern society and in that era of the 60s nothing was more cogent and timely. It's still not out of date, it's a universal theme which the individual must re visit again and again.

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    Occam's Razor Shaves Multiverse

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    Multiverse is the idea that our space/time is merely one "universe" in a huge limitless number of parallel worlds. Atheists often use this concept to argue against the fine tuning argument by saying with all those universe out there the odds of hitting one that can bare life is not so great. Our life bearing universe is not as improbable as the FTA would have us believe because when we consider that it's just one of a limitless expanse of other worlds then it's not so improbable that one would have life. We just happen to be it, if we weren't we wouldn't know about it. We would not be here. Sometimes they also argue that against the cosmological argument on the grounds that the universe is eternal and infinite and parallel words have been popping up forever. Then there's no way to say "here's the moment of creation."

    Atheists have another favorite tactic and that is to argue that Occam's razor rules out God because God is not the simpler idea. There they are confusing it with Parsimony. Occam was priest and he believed in God he didn't think the razor got rid of God. For that reason I've always been somewhat peeved by their use of this argument. Moreover, what the razor really says is no not multiply entities beyond necessity.[1] The thing is you see, atheists assume that since they don't believe in God then is not necessary so God is multiply beyond necessity. That's the argument made by those who at least know the real version of the argument but they don't know what it means. Let's try to understand it first by understanding Occam's nominalism. four senses of nominalism:

    (1) Denial of metaphsyical universals: applies to Occam.

    (2) reduce one's ontology to bare minimum, streamline categories: applies to Occam.

    (3) Nix abstract entities, depending upon what one means here Occam may or may not have been a nominalist in this sense. he did not believe in mathematical entities but he did believe in abstraction such as whiteness, or humanity.

    Ockham removes all need for entities in seven of the traditional Aristotelian ten categories; all that remain are entities in the categories of substance and quality, and a few entities in the category of relation, which Ockham thinks are required for theological reasons pertaining to the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Eucharist, even though our natural cognitive powers would see no reason for them at all. As is to be expected, the ultimate success of Ockham's program is a matter of considerable dispute.[2]
     He was not getting rid of God. Occam's razor never allows us to deny what spade calls "putative entities" which would definitely include God. It merely bids us referain from positing them without good reason. Of course the many choruses of atheist propagadna slgoanizing would have it that this does include God,[3] but with my 52 arguments we know better, don't we?[4] In fact for Occam humans can't really know what is necessary, "For Ockham, the only truly necessary entity is God; everything else, the whole of creation, is radically contingent through and through. In short, Ockham does not accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason.."[5] Wait a minute, not a contradiction because all the reasor says is refrain form multiplying entities without good reason, not rub them out of existence. Note that he includes God as the only truly necesasry entity. Thus atheist are violating Occam's razor in trying to use it on God.

    Yet this raises the question of the Multiverse. Is the multiverse necessary? It's a matter of empirical question and there is empirical evidence to support it. Claims have been made of hard data proving Multivese, but when investigated they evaporate. Here's a physicist who opposed string theory and multiverse he argues that his evaluation of the papers finds irresolvable problems.

     In recent years there have been many claims made for “evidence” of a multiverse, supposedly found in the CMB data (see for example here). Such claims often came with the remark that the Planck CMB data would convincingly decide the matter. When the Planck data was released two months ago, I looked through the press coverage and through the Planck papers for any sign of news about what the new data said about these multiverse evidence claims. There was very little there; possibly the Planck scientists found these claims to be so outlandish that it wasn’t worth the time to look into what the new data had to say about them. One exception was this paper, where Planck looked for evidence of “dark flow”.[6]
     If hard evidence turns up for it then we have to deal with that on it's own terms. Until that time Multiverse should be shaved with Occam's razor. We don't need it to explain reality, it's only advanced to keep from having to turn to God. It's naturalistic so it's an arbitrary necessity at best. Arbitrary necessitates are logical impossibilities, contingent things jumped up to the level of necessity to answer a God argument. It's not we are going to disprove the unnecessary entity but we are going refrain from advancing it's existence as an assumption until such a time that real empirical evidence makes it necessary. Therefore, Multiverse should be taken out of the issues of God arguments.


    [1]C.K. Brampton, "Nominalism and the Law of Parsimony." The Modern School Men, Volume 41, Issue 3, (March 1964), 273-281.
    the sentiment of that slogan "don't multiply entities beyond necessity" is in line with Occam's thinking although he didn't actually say that.
    [2]Spade, Paul Vincent and Panaccio, Claude, "William of Ockham", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = . Fall 2011 (substantive content change) [new author(s): Spade, Paul Vincent; Panaccio, Claude]
    [3] Spade, et al, Ibid.
    [4] 42 God arguments on Doxa, and 10 more on Religious A prori.
    [5]Spade, Ibid.

    [6] Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong,
     Woit, Ph.D. particle theory form Princeton, Post doctorte in phsyics and math from Berkeley, tught at Columbia since 1989.

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    All That is Solid Melts Into Air

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    ....I have a radical theory that I have not put up a lot of stuff about. I hope some day to wrote a book on it. It's a long term project and so I'm just taking my time to work out all the bugs. I think it will be of tremendous help to the chruch when I get it done.It's based upon Issac Newton's private answer to the problem of gravity as action at a distance. His answer was the universe is the sensorium of God. In other words the universe is a thought in the mind of God and that's how he does action at a distance, gravity is God's thought holding it all together. While this idea raises a lot of problems it solves more problems: the problem of temporal beginning[1] problem of God's creative action in a timeless state,[2] the problem of all the practical stuff like "what is God made of, where is God," and so forth. The first step to understanding the solution is to understand the transitory nature of material existence. This also answers questions about "are there transcendent realms?" "Do we have any evidence of anything beyond our own realm?" This theory is played out more in my God argument about Berkeley and Gaswami.
    ////The hard tangible nature of the physical is taken as the standard for reality while the notion of something beyond our ability to detect is seen in a skeptical way, even though the major developments in physics are based upon it. Is the physical world as tangible and solid as we think? Science talks about “particles” and constructs models of atoms made of wooden tubes and little balls this gives us the psychological impression that the world of the very tiny is based upon little solid balls. In reality subatomic particles are not made out of little balls, nor are these ‘particles” tangible or solid. In fact we could make a strong argument that no one even knows what they are made of.
    ////We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions.
    ....This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants: 10 spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.[3]

    Particles are not solid; they are not very tiny chuncks of solid stuff. They have no volume nor do they have the kind of stable existence we do. They “pop” in and out of existence! This is not proof for the supernatural. It might imply that the seeming solidity of “reality” is illusory. While it is not definite enough to prove anything except that we don’t know the basis of reality, it does prove that and also the possibilities for the ultimate truth of this are still wide open. To rule out “the supernatural” (by the wrong concept) on the assumption that we have no scientific proof of it is utterly arrogance and bombast. For all we know what we take to be solid unshakable reality might be nothing more than God’s day dream. Granted, there is an end to the spinning of moon beams and we can talk all day about what ‘might be,’ so we need evidence and arguments to warrant the placing of confidence in propositions. We have confidence placing evidence, it doesn’t have to be scientific although some of it is. I found some to back up this idea in a video about the unsolidity of quantum particles. This is form a site called Beginning theistic scinece. It is sort linked with "Christian science" kind of ideas. Yet the site is done by a physicist so I think we can take his scientific knowledge as documentation. We have to take his theological framework with the proper caution. I do not mean that as a slight to any Christian scinece or Swedenborgians. There is a Swedenborgian connection to the video.

    "levels of Causation."

     June 2, 12013

    Begining theistic science.

    The second is a blog post by George Gantz

    He wrote "Causation – another highly disputed concept in physics".  After discussion of previously-suggested possible ways to describe top-down causation, he finds them unsatisfactory, and in the last three paragraphs describes the ideas I am advocating.
    Causation in this sense is similar to top-down causation, but puts the disposition (a higher level structure) as the primary cause and the circumstances and form of the underlying system as secondary. In the language of dispositional essentialism, there is a generative process of causation flowing from dispositions and a selective process resulting from the underlying circumstances of the object or system. In many cases, the result of the top-level disposition is to create or change dispositions at the next level, in a cascade of causation operating across multiple levels.
    Thompson provides a series of examples of causation flowing though multiple generative levels in physics and psychology and reviews the work of a number of other experts in these fields. “Summarizing the quantum mechanical case, we see that here again, the principle causes act forwards down a set of multiple generative levels whose range of actions at any time is selected from all those presently possible, as constrained by past events.” P.67 When applied to psychology, the model places the role of intention (disposition) as central to the process of causation. Thompson also applies the model to the question of the highest generative level – the dispositions of God.
    While this new model of causation working top-down in generative levels may seem more complex that the reductionist model we started with, it does a far better job at explaining the way the world works. It resolves all the criticisms of reductionism.[4]
    (The page number refers my book "Starting Science From God" indicated on the right)

    Both these presentations give suggestions for how God can be related to the universe in the way theism expects to happen. This is, in a rational manner we may yet understand, that God both sustains and enlivens all physical, mental and spiritual processes continually.[5]
    These mentions of Swedenborg [6] should not be taken as an endorsement on my part of his ideas.

    The link is that the immaterial unsolid nature of matter that can be used as an argument for the notion of the universe as a thought in the mind of God. It's a natural set up for the idea of final cause, that the eternally infinitesimal nature of sub atomic world is as untenable as eternal causal regression.

    [1] Temporal beginning, there is no change in a timeless void, yet beyond the big bang is a timeless void. that means big bang expansion had to begin an state of timelessness which means theoretically it should have been impossible. This is expalined in greater detail in my God argument, Argument from Temporal Beginning.
    [2] The problem that no change in a timeless state so God would be frozen in eternity and would be unable to think, unable to act. Of course that assumes that God is subject to the laws of nature. God created the laws of nature, they are thought in his mind, nature is in his mind, thus they have no hold hold on him than a day dream does to us.
    [3] STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Scinece and Facilities Council, 2012 URL:
    [4] George Gantz quoted by Beginning theistic science blog.George Gantz is a graduate of Stanford University with a B.S. in Mathematics and Honors Humanities, 1973. He lives in Wayland, Massachusetts with his wife Wenda Junge Gantz, and currently serves as President of the Boston Society of the General Church. Mr. Gantz has been employed for the past twenty three years by Unitil Corporation, a utility holding company headquartered in Hampton, New Hampshire, where he holds the position of Senior Vice-President, Customer Services and Communications. He also serves on a number of nonprofit boards and associations.
    [5] Brain David, author of the video on beginning theistic scinece site.

    [6] Emmanuel Swedenborg (1688-1672) a mystic, scientist, philosopher, theologian. Best known for his work on after lie Heaven And Hell. He had dreams and visions that he was commissioned by God to reform Christianity. He clearly saw himself as a Christian. He actually is best known for spiritualism but he actually warns about the dangers of it. It's that connection with spiritism that leads me to give a sharp caution and disassociate myself with support for him. The Wiki article on him lists among his ideas: "New Church Doctrine rejects the concept of salvation through faith alone, since he considered both faith and charity necessary for salvation, not one without the other, whereas the Reformers taught that faith alone procured justification, although it must be a faith which resulted in obedience. " That's another view that I find heretical and can't sign on with. He was honored by Sadu Sundor Sing whom I admire, and also among the ranks of his followers was Helen Keller.

    Note: about the title. Its form Marx but he meant in a social sense, social structures melting away.