Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Do God's Omniscience and Onipotance Contradict?


Atheists think it is. I've seen many a knock down drag-out fight, multiple threads, lasing for days, accomplishing nothing. I wrote that dilemma off years ago before I was an internet apologist, so long ago I don't remember when. I wrote it off because at an early date I read Boethius who, in his great work The Consolation of Philosophy (circa 524), puts to rest the issue by proving that foreknowledge is not determinism. In this essay I will demonstrate not only that this is true but the atheist error about omniscience and omnipotence contradicting are actually hold overs from the pagan framework which Boethius disproved.

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
 Aurthor The Consolation
 of Philosophy

For years my debates on the matter were marked by silly repetition. I would constantly argue that just knowing that someone does something is not controlling it. But atheists were always cock sure that it was. I used the follow analogy: I know how the Alamo turned out. Travis and the men stepped over the line and chose to stay and die. I know they did that, does my knowledge of it mean that I made them do it? Of course the atheist say "O of course not, but you are not in the past, you are knowing this by a look back in history to see what they already did." Of course, but God doesn't know about events before they have happened in time, he knows about them because he's beyond time and he sees everything in time as a accomplished fact. From our perspective in time God's knowledge is "foreknowledge" becasue it is for us. But it's not foreknowledge for God, he doesn't know before it happens, he knows about events because form an eternal perspective its a done deal. Just as my knowing what the men at the Alamo already did does not give me control over their choices, so God's knowledge of facts we have already accomplish does not give God control over our choices.

Of course, predictably, the atheists dismiss this idea as "nonsense" and go right on asserting that to know of an action is to control, but they can't tell me why. They can tell me a  theoretical reason but they can't tell me why if my knowing about the Alamo ex post facto does not control those actions why would God's knowledge of a past even already done control the past event? Why are these not analogous if God is outside time and sees all things in time as accomplished facts? They can't tell me but they are certain the idea is nonsense. The reason they give initially is this. Say that God knows today that I will go to the store tomorrow. That means that i can't tomorrow morning decide "I don't want to go tot he store, I hate the walk." I can't decide that and follow it because God already knows I went so I have to go. But the problem is they are not following a modern concept of God knowing becuase he's outside of time. They are still stuck in the pre Christian framework which has clung to modern Western Philosophy lo these many centuries. That frame work can be clearly seen in Boethius because that's what he was arguing against. The fame work is the Greek Gods were controlled by the fates, but they also had foreknowledge, so they were trumping the fates, to whom they were really subject. That creates an issue. Moreover, foreknowledge was about things that had not yet taken place, thus that is a contradiction; it hasn't taken place, how can it be known what one will do, to know it is to set in stone and thus not free will. But that only holds in the case of god in time not outside of time. It doesn't apply to the idea of God transcendent of time and thus that's why they can't answer me, but because they know the philosophers they read still assert the old Greek idea they must cling to it.

We can see the exact kind of thinking the atheists use in the Consolation and it is the framework against which Boethius toils. This quotation is form a summary in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The summary is by John Marenbon.

The first point which needs to be settled is what, precisely, is the problem which Boethius the character proposes? The reasoning behind (7) seems to be of the following form:
  1. God knows every event, including all future ones.
  2. When someone knows that an event will happen, then the event will happen.
  3. (10) is true as a matter of necessity, because it is impossible to know that which is not the case.
  4. If someone knows an event will happen, it will happen necessarily.(10, 11)
  5. Every event, including future ones, happens necessarily. (9, 12)
The pattern behind (8) will be similar, but in reverse: from a negation of (13), the negation of (9) will be seen to follow. But, as it is easy to observe, (9–13) is a fallacious argument: (10) and (11) imply, not (12), but
  1. Necessarily, if someone knows an event will happen, it will happen.
 (emphasis mine)
 The summary of the problem he's working against indicates exactly the problem I frame it, that the atheist (following the Greeks) is not assuming transcendence of time but is working on the assumption that God's knowledge is prior to the completed nature of the action. This was framework in which Boethius found the problem in his own contemporary scene which came from the pre-christian Hellenistic world. Even when the philosopher writing the article sums it up he still speaks form the same perspective:

The fallacy, therefore, concerns the scope of the necessity operator. Boethius has mistakenly inferred the (narrow-scope) necessity of the consequent (‘the event will happen’), when he is entitled only to infer the (wide-scope) necessity of the whole conditional (‘if someone knows an event will happen, it will happen’). Boethius the character is clearly taken in by this fallacious argument, and there is no good reason to think that Boethius the author ever became aware of the fallacy (despite a passage later on which some modern commentators have interpreted in this sense). None the less, the discussion which follows does not, as the danger seems to be, address itself to a non-problem. Intuitively, Boethius sees that the threat which divine prescience poses to the contingency of future events arises not just from the claim that God's beliefs about the future constitute knowledge, but also from the fact that they are beliefs about the future. There is a real problem here, because if God knows now what I shall do tomorrow, then it seems that either what I shall do is already determined, or else that I shall have the power tomorrow to convert God's knowledge today into a false belief. Although his logical formulation does not capture this problem, the solution Boethius gives to Philosophy is clearly designed to tackle it.
He's speaking form the perspective of future events which have not yet happened, being known before they happen. But that leaves out the assumption that's God's is not actuality foreknowledge so much as translucence eternal knowledge that sees the events as an accomplished fact because it sees the the end result from a perspective after the event is accomplished. That's the wider perspective. Transcendent eternal knowledge is the knowledge of all time as the "eternal now" not "foreknowledge" in the sense of known only prior to the doing of the event. Then there is also an issue about the nature of the knower. This is a point Boethius may be making but it's hard to say. God knows form the standpoint of eternity but he speaks within times arrow to us so it appears to be foreknowledge, knowledge of that which has not yet transpired. Thus the illusion of determinism is created. But the fact of it is the knowledge comes from viewing all events as accomplished facts. It's in the perspective of timeless transience which only God can have.

This latter issue of the nature of the knowledge is marked by the summary and by the text itself as "modes of cognition." The Constolation of Philosphy is the old fashioned Philosophical dialogue which no one writes anymore, the kind Berkelely write (out of date in his day--early 1700's).

Erronious: "hi fallacious how's it going?"
Fallacious: "great, I'm now considering a new idea"
Erronious: "prey tell good sir what idea might that be?"

And they go on to discuss and provide endless house of fun writing Monty Python style paradiges of themselves. Then burst into a course of "Rene Descartes was a Druken fart, 'I drink therefore I am.'

But before they do that they discuss issues and the philosopher places his arguemnts in the mouth of the character. In the Consolution the Charactor Boethius is agonizing over philosphy when Philosophy personfie as a beautiful woman comes to him and gives him the answers. That's the context in which this reviewer states the following:

Her view, as she develops it (in V.5 and V.6), is based on what might be called the Principle of Modes of Cognition: the idea that knowledge is always relativized to different levels of knowers, who have different sorts of objects of knowledge. Although she initially develops this scheme in a complex way, in relation to the different levels of the soul (intelligence, reason, imagination and the senses) and their different objects (pure Form, abstract universals, images, particular bodily things), for most of her discussion Philosophy concentrates on a rather simpler aspect of it. God's way of being and knowing, she argues, is eternal, and divine eternity, she says, is not the same as just lacking a beginning and end, but it is rather (V.6) ‘the whole, simultaneous and perfect possession of unbounded life.’

Boethius did not have the knowledge of modern cosmology, the big bang, quantum theory or any of the other scientific data that we have so he did not possess the concepts of being outside of time. He did however have an understanding of eternity that came form his own spirituality, and it seems to coincide remarkably with the modern notion. What's he's saying is that God an eternal perspective. He can see the events of what to us are the future but to him is an eternal now. So he's not knowing something that hasn't happened yet, he knows something that to him has happened, but to us has not yet happened. Without the big bang Boeithius still has the concept of God being outside of time and he saw that as the basis of non-deterministic events in time which known to God as completed events due to God's unqiue persective.

A being who is eternal in this way, Philosophy argues, knows all things—past, present and future—in the same way as we, who live in time and not eternity, know what is present. She then goes on to show why, so long as God knows future events by their being present to him, this knowledge is compatible with the events’ not being determined.

Through the mouth of philosophy Boethius speculates that there two kinds of necessity. The first is:

Simple necessities are what would now be called physical or nomic necessities: that the sun rises, or that a man will sometime die. By contrast, it is conditionally necessary that, for instance, I am walking, when I am walking (or when someone sees that I am walking); but from this conditional necessity it does not follow that it is simply necessary that I am walking.

Although some philosophers disagree,  she is not noting the scope fallacy above but is actually using Aristotelian modality to argue about the eternal perspective. All things are known to God as though they were in the present. Future events for God are necessary in just the way that present events are necessary for us. What I'm doing writ now I am necessarily doing because I'm really doing it. But because it's my choice to do it and I'm doing it now (as opposed something I already did five years ago) my will to do it is not negated. I can stop doing it and so something else. But I can't go back five seconds ago and stop doing it in the past. All moments are known to God from this perspective.

Now so far so good. But there are two problems:

(1) Most philosophers today do not accept this reading of the issues.

It is important to add, however, that most contemporary interpreters do not read the argument of V.3–6 in quite this way. They hold that Philosophy is arguing that God is a-temporal, so eliminating the problems about determinism, which arise when God's knowing future contingents is seen an event in the past, and therefore, fixed.
That's going to be a problem for me becasue it means that timeless state of "beyond time" would mean God is "frozen" unable to act and thus can only act in time and thus the temporal problem. Rather, God sees as past and while may not control past is also not free to act in the past becuase it is a done deal.

(2) Philosophy seems to swing to a predestination view at the end.

She make God the determiner of events. There are also interpreters who see the Consolation as a satire that should be called "the insufficiency of philosophy." The only problem for me is that atheists will read this part of hte article and say "O see Metacorck is stupid because he didn't read the whole article." Marenbon argues that Boethius purpose is complex it can't be summarized as either "philosophy is insufficient" or "the whole issue is decided." what he's really saying is that philosophy is an ongoing concern. The true consolation of philosophy is not that such issue can be put to rest and summed up easily in nice little easy to understand phrases that only take a few syllables but we can have partial solutions and we can continue to work on problems and continue to seek answers and the act of so doing is a consolation even if we never find clear and easy answers. The interpretation of the Consolation is a literary problem, not a theological one. I will, therefore, bracket that until such as a time as I work on literary criticism.

The first problem is of much greater concern but I have an answer. I think I've analyzed Boethius' claims in the section where philosophy answers the issues of foreknowledge,I think I have that right and it works. It doesn't seem to work when we extract it form the framework of his day and place it in the world of modern cosmology, but it works again when we extract it from the framework of modern cosmology and place it in the framework of my theology (the Berkeley-Gaswami argument). My theological frame work differs from the modern cosmological in this way: I do not see God as a big man in the sky existing beyond the big bang which is a timeless void. I see God as the mind that thinks the universe, and the universe is therefore, analogous to a thought in a mind. I say "analogous" becuase it's a metaphor. If it was literal it might be more deterministic than any other view because it would mean that all events are thoughts in the mind of God in a litteral sense. I do not think that. The Gaswami part comes in where I take a page form the book of physicist Amit Gaswami (a Hindu vedantist who teaches physics at University of Oregon. Like Gaswami I see mind as the fundametnal stuff of the universe rather than energy or mater. I don't mean that in the sense of the universe being a mind, but that is related to mind in the way that a thought is related to a mind. I take that as a metaphor because like
Bishop George Berkeley I accept the premise "to be is to be perceived." God is the observer that collapses the wave function and causes the universe to be by beholding it. God is observing a thought that he has set up to run on it own. He's not making it happen or thinking every event at a microscopic level.

Two analogies that will clarify the difference. In the standard view God's relation to the world is like that of a man standing in a big room holding a world globe. The room is the timeless void beyond our space/time. The man is God, of course, and the globe is our space time. That puts God as a thing in "creation" or at least a timeless void, it makes God subject to the laws of physics and the problem of time. It makes God out to be a big man in the sky, although really far up in the sky. My view we have the room and the globe, no man. The room is the mind of God. the globe and the empty void of "timeless" are both thoughts in the mind of God. What this means is God is not subject to either time or the problem of non time. Both are pseudo problems for God because they are just ideas he thought up to create a framework for our world, which is a further thought of that preliminary thought in his mind. God is no more subject to the problems of time or even non time than we are to our day dreams and momentary fleeting fantasies that cross our minds.

This has many implications that have to be weighed. For one thing we just forget about the issues surrounding the omnis,, let them go completely. Not that God is not all knowing or all powerful, but the concepts "all knowing" and "all powerful" are hazy shadowy concepts that do more to confuse us than to help us. These are Aristotelian ideas and they hold overs from Greek philosophy. These things enter Western philosophy from Greek thought and they preserved by the prejudices of Western European philosophers. Modern philosophers still think the Greeks were the summit of human civilization, even the Church adopted ht language of Greek philosophy to discuss doctrine so we should look to the Greeks. The Hebrews were corn pones and the early Christians were Greeks themselves so Greek ideas hang on in philosophy. Thus the older meaning of "foreknowledge" and it's problems adhere to all modern discussions. The chruch began to use the language of Aristotle after the Apostolic age so we continue to speak of "omnipresent." "Omnipotent" even though the Bible doesn't so speak. We should scrap the language of "all knowing" " all powerful" because it communicates badly. Rather than these we should say, not that God is the "most powerful" that's a mistake too (from a Tillichian perspective) but that God can do whatever is logically doable. God knows whatever is logically knowable.

The problem is ni speaking of God as "doing" and "knowing' we give the importation of God as a big man and God's knowledge as the kind of knowledge city zoning board use to plan things. All of this anthropomorphic language is bring God down to the level of a thing in creation. It's not preserving the transcendent nature of God's knowledge which so different form ours we can't even know what it's like. What we can be sure of is that God has left us free will and he's not violating it. God knows whatever is logically knowable. It may not be logically knowable for God to know how it feels to be not God. But at the same time, he does know empathy, he knows the heart he knows the mind, he can take a much better intuitive feel of what that might be like than even we can ourselves. He doesn't know first hand what it's like to be human.

God does not have to make rocks he can't lift. That is a childish trap set for eighty grade apologetic hobbyists in Sunday school classes. I know because I'm still smarting from falling for it in eighth grade.God can't smell next Tuesday because days don't have smells. The eager beaver atheist can say "there's something God can't do." I say "so?" God cannot do nonsense, ok so what? We need to redefine the omnis and come up with a new term  ( I don't like "maximal greatness" too easy to confuse with "most power being"). The import this has for this issue is that there is no contradiction between omniscience and omnipotence because those are not helpful words and they don't really mean that much so they don't really describe God's attributes well. Since God is beyond the problems of either time or non-time he is not in the big room of timeless void so he's not frozen. Thus God's knowledge can come form all perspectives, from the eternal now and from time's arrow.

Might there actually be aspects of time God chooses not to see? The problem with that question is it assumes God is a rubber-necking tourist roving the expanse of all  existing matter and observing it as one would observe the country side of France from a  train window. Because God is not a big man in the sky, not anthropomorphic we can come up with other metaphors to compare God to, and that indicate that God's relationship to time is one we can't understand. Compare God to the strong force, to the unified field, to the laws of physics, the Hegelian dialectic. The Zeitgeist. I don't believe that God is impersonal but I do think it's a good exercise to think of him that way at times just to break the habit of thinking of God as a big man in the sky.

Such a God cannot waste his time worrying about conflicts between one badly worded phrase that doesn't really describe him and another badly worded phrase that doesn't describe him. Thus the problem is now reduced to a pseudo problem. It' an antiquated problem because it's rooted in the pre-Christian Greek understanding of God and time and the world, and it's also rooted in thinking of God as a big man in the sky rather than the transcendent and immanent ground of all being that God is.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Love, Moral Prefection, and the Free Will Defense.

  photo life_wheel_6x4.png

A poster on CARM "HillyBilly" (aka SillyBilly) is trying to bring in standard atheist contradiction argument against moral perfection. His argument:

My reasoning is direct and simple enough that even a child could understand it.

1) If something is morally perfect, then it has free will. [from YOU]
2) God is morally perfect. [from YOU]
3) There exists at least one thing which is morally perfect. [existential instantiation]
4) Said thing has free will. [modus ponens 1, 3)
5) There exists at least one thing which is morally perfect and has free will. [conjunction 3, 4]
6) If something is the case, then it is possible that it is the case. [theorem of modal logic]
7) Beings with moral perfection and free will are possible. [modus ponens 5, 6]
8) If something is possible, God can create it. [from YOU]
9) Therefore, God can create morally perfect beings with free will. [modus ponens 7,8]

See? It's a deductive consequence of nothing but premises from you and from the rules of logic. If you deny it, you are contradicting yourself.

 In other words the point of it all is that since moral perfection and free will don't contradict then we could side step sin and just have moral perfection and free will but without sin and all the bad implications of it. My answer to this is that free is necessary in order to have a moral universe. Moral universe is based upon love, therefore, since love requires growth through experience then moral perfection takes time. Being a mature state of agape (love) moral perfection the development of moral perfection requires experience and pain. It's not something we can be "zapped" into. Yes, I believe that God is limited to logical necessity, he can't make square circles because square circles are a contradiction in terms. So is the idea of moral perfection without love and experience is a contradiction in terms. Thus being morally perfect, if we are granted it at all, takes time and experience in life.

I don't believe that we are meant to match God's moral perfection. Jesus says "be ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). The problem is that "perfect" is a bad translation. The word in that passage is telos from tello meaning ""to set out for a definite point or goal." The word telos itself is defined as defined by Strong's:

5056 t̩los (a neuter noun) Рproperly, consummation (the end-goal, purpose), such as closure with all its results.
[This root (tel-) means "reaching the end (aim)." It is well-illustrated with the old pirate's telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).][1]
So the end goal or purpose to which something is meant to move is the concept. Thus he's not saying "I command you to have the very save level of moral excellence that God has," but rather "be all that you are meant to be." Being all we are meant to be, in terms of moral perfection, would mean love. Love requires sacrifice, giving, compassion, forgiving, bearing with the pain of others. You can't do that in a vacuum without living among other people. Just to have the experience of that put into our heads without actually going through it and learning from it would defeat the process of learning and it would not be real love. Love requries that we actually love. To love because you are programed to love is not love.

It's much like the philosophical zombie argument. Without actually growing through the process of dealing with others in real life one would be a philosophical zombie; one would seem outwardly exactly like the end product and one might even have false memories of it but it wouldn't be real love. It wouldn't be real free will because then the agent would not have chosen to love but would just be carrying out the commands of a program. So the idea that God will just zap us into perfection is a pipe dream and would not work. That means to have a moral universe we just live in the real world and be put in situations to make real choices.

Thus it is necessary for a moral universe, that is a universe in which free will agents make moral decisions and willingly choose the good, one must risk the possibility of choosing wrongly. Free will is essential to love and moral perfection.

Then in the issue of perfection we are not required to be god-like. We are not going to be put on a level with God. We have our own telos that is the human telos; the goal or end point that we are meant to grow into, the level of love that is humanly possible.

The Christian free will defense says that God has to risk all the bad by giving us free will because love and moral decision making require free will. the atheist says we can side step the unpleasant choice of actually choosing wrongly just by God zapping us into perfection and we can still have free will. I say that is making philosophical zobmies who have not actually learned to love but merely carrying out programing.

There's a lot we can learn from this thinking even without the free will/Theodicy busienss. We can learn the difficulty of love and how hard it is to actually go through the process of learning to be what God meant us to be. In so dong we must learn that it's impossible without God's grace. That's part of the lesson, learning to rely on God.

[1] Bible Hub, published by Biblos, from Strong's concordance, online resource:
 accessed 11/23/13.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Darkness at Noone In Dallas: My Memories of the Assasination

 photo 090113_jfk_inaug_zps52e17497.jpg
JFK Inaugural speech "the Torch has
been passed."

Fifty years ago today, a fine autumn day, my brother and I were let out to play for recess. We were in second grade, John Neille Bryon elementary school, the Oak Cliff area of Dallas Texas. Everyone who is old enough says they remember where they were when they first heard the President had been murdered. That's where I was, on the play ground at school. Flash Gorden was just about to take on the Bee creatures from the cartoon panel strip in Boy's Life Magazine.That epic battle was never to take place. Before it got underway the teacher called us all to the black top. As we were going out the Principle had come on the intercom and told everyone the Presideent had been shot. We were given a sort to use the bath room and stretch our legs. Then we were to go back to the class room and our parents would pick us up.

My first reaction was one of anger and shock. I was outraged how could anyone do this? I liked Kennedy. All little kids like the President, whichever one is in office in their childhood. I remembered Eisenhower vegly. I think all I knew of him was form Kennedy's inauguration. I barely remember that on tv. Eisenhower was an old man and Kennedy was young and vigorous. I remember that specifically; thinking, "the other President was an old man he couldn't do anything but this guy is sharp and strong. I took it personally and my immediate reaction was this is an outrage, we can't let this be, I began imagining that I  was a Texas Ranger who was about to bring the assassin to justice. I got so carried away with it that I said out loud "I've got to bring the killer to justice!" The older boys laughed and began mocking, "he's going to bring the guy who shot Kennedy to justice!" My brother pulled me out of the bathroom physically and back to the play ground before things got out of hand.

Mom did come and as we drove home she dispelled romars we heard while waiting. The wildest one was that Kennedy was found hanging dead out of a window in a building down town. At this point we didn't know if he was sill alive or not. We kept saying "maybe he's not hurt that bad." When we got home this was immediately dashed. We turned on tv and Cronkite made the announcement then. We watched as every station was noting but assassination stuff. We were stunned. All we could do was just feel crushed, angered, lost, alone. Helpless. We felt we were living in a nightmare. How could this happen? The world of order and goodness we knew just didn't explode like this. Yet here it was and there was no place to hide from it.

Our next door neighbor Millie Hollinger came over. Her mother had been honorary sheriff of Dallas around 1910, when her father died in office. She had lived there in Oak Cliff in that spot since way before the war. They moved there when it was woods and wilderness. Her husband Gilbert was from San Sabba  Texas. As a young man he was a real actual Texas cowboy in the 19th century. In World War I he had the rare occasion to climb on top of a train and hit the engineer with his pistol to capture the train. So he told me. WWI was basically trench warfare so now I have to look at that with a grain of salt. Millie came in crying. She sobbed openly, tears ran down her cheeks. She usually brought carrot cake, the best I have ever tasted. She would come in the back door without knocking and shout "I'm here!" that's the way it was in that little community of Oak Cliff in the late 50s and early 60's. That way of life was soon to be completely destroyed by white flight. The assassination was like a harbinger or an omen of doom coming for the little life we loved. This time she knocked.

I was stunned by the talk on tv. The pundits trying to figure out who done it. The talk of right wing haters of Kennedy. I had no idea what a backwater I lived in. I didn't know anything about red necks and KKK and any of that. It was all around us. The guy across the alley had been with Bonnie and Clyde.  I put out a little American Flag I just happen to make (paint on white cloth) a few days before for play. I actually stood on the corner writing down the license plate numbers of passing cars becasue I thought that it just might be that they will give a license number of the murderer and it would hep to know he passed this way. Latter I would look at those numbers numbers and feel silly, and helpless.

Kennedy meant a lot to me for two reasons. There was the Cuban Missle crisis. Our parents kept it from us they thought we were too young to fear being blown up. They just didn't know that that fear was the birth right of the times. We found out what was going on by watching the news. They thought we were too young to understand but we did. We both thought, my brother and I, that he "Kennedy is cool." He didn't back down but he didn't get the world blown up. Kennedy saved us. He's great! There was the civil rights movement. Being from Texas I was raised in a racist culture. People in my own family were racist. some of them. Although my parents supported the civil rights movement. My mother was crying when the dogs and fire hoses were being used against the marchers in Selma, and Birmingham. I asked why she was crying. She said "the black people have had to go through so much." I never realized before that time what was being done to them. She expalined it all to me and I was outraged. It's like I had not been alive before. Where had I been living? I started noticing.

It was also mainly knowing black people that got me out of being racist. The Edmund family lived behind us. We played with their kids. That was common in the south, black and white would pay together as kids, they outgrew it and play former play mates as children would hate each other as adults, or be indifferent. A lady named Vivian Douglass moved next door to us. At first I hated her becuase she was new. It meant change. Then she turned out to be a neat person. Former school teacher she helped me with reading, and having dyslexia that meant a lot at that time. So I leaned to respect black people and see them as people because of her. I admired Kennedy all the more for his stand on Civil rights.

As more information came in my Dad began to formulate the early rudiments of a conspiracy buff obsession. I remember the first thing that got him going was he noticed they said the rifle was a Mouser and then said it was something else (Cargano). It was the death of Dorothy Kilgallen that convinced him it was a conspiracy. He was otherwise rational and normal. He was cool. He was slow to anger, strong and able to defend himself, but slow fuse. He never got up set, he took on emergencies and problems with rational focus. In fact my sister-in-law had a joke about him; she would say "Here is A.D. in an earthquake" then she calmly and methodically pretended to turn the pages of a book. But on the assassination topic he was ranting and raving. Boy would he give it to the Warren commission. After years and years I finally realized it was a from of mourning. What else could one do? Either keep in inside and ignore it or vent the rage in some pseudo constructive way. The manufacture of some conspirators and the attempt to bring them to justice was probably the best way given the limitations.

Do I think it was a conspiracy? Yes I do. I'm not going to spend a bunch of time on that because I think it overshadows the loss. For some it's a way to mourn but I think it would be more healthy to acknowledge the grief and honor Kennedy for his life. Of course justice matters, bringing the killers to justice, but I think we are a bit late for that. E. Howard hunt of Watergate fame, long identified as one of the four bums arrested by the triple over pass but never booked by the Dallas Police, confessed on his death bed to taking part int he conspiracy. No one seems to care.

I've known several people who were there at the sight when it happened. One didn't know what had happened even while it was going on and didn't bother to find out until she got home. Then said "O that's what that noise was? That's all those people were running about." I knew a woman who took pictures just moments before the shot, they were so close and clear you could see the shade of lipstick Jackie was wearing. I don't know what became of the pictures but I bet they were wroth a lot of money. I saw them. They were actual photographs, unpublished. I knew a woman who said she felt the bullet  from the grassy knoll grazed her cheek. She felt the heat as it brushed by. She heard the shot form the knoll and saw smoke form that direction. I don't believe the second gun-man because of her story, however, I already believed it before I met her. Moreover, she didn't strike me as very credible. She was written about by several conspiracy book authors. She had known my sister in high school I think the three of us lunched together after chruch one Sunday. My father was two blocks away when it happened. He didn't see anything but he did think Kennedy looked right at him as they passed.

Let's don't forget it's also the anniversary of J.D. Tippit's death. The brave officer, truly  Dallas finest I say that sincerely, who gave his life murdered by Oswald before he went into the Texas theater. I went to school with his son in 1967-68. A small private Christian school in Oak Cliff. He was a nice guy, the son. Apparently the mother married another cop. We used to go that theater. I saw Lawrence of Arabia there. In latter years it deteriorated into a porno house. That whole part of town deteriorated. That theater was in Oak Cliff. There's another connection to my life, the apartment Oswald lived in was right down the street from our doctor where we would go for check ups. My life has been inextricably linked with the Kennedy assassination.

For years after the assassination we would hear stories of people traveling abroad who would say "I'm from Dallas" and the people of the land would go "bang bang" give the gun sign and walk away. I was outraged. I would think "I loved Kennedy! It's so unfair! I didn't shoot him." I took it personally. People I knew would travel abroad and they would say they were from Ft. Worth.

Kennedy left a powerful legacy. His Presidency wasn't that effective. He got several small things done, test ban treaty (granted had huge consequences but was just one small step) and dealt with the steel strike. He put us deeper in to Vietnam, but nothing like Johnson did. His two major achievements may have been supporting the civil rights movement and the promise to land on the moon by the end of decade. The civil rights stand was less than perfect. He had  friction with the leaders of the movement and held back on total support. Just the fact that the U.S. President was seen to be allied with the movement was a huge step for the movement. That was a risk for him to take because it sawed off the whole southern wing of his party. That was  true Profile in Courage. Going to the Moon was a crucial step at the time. It not only assumed us economic stimulation that gave us full employment (which was offset by Vietnam--Under LBJ) and it gave us technological innovation that pulled up out of the mechanical age and gave us wherewithall to face problems we were making for ousreles in polition and energy shortage.

Unfortunately JFK's greatest legacy will always be his death. In getting killed he succeeded becuase he became a martyr and made it possible for LBJ to pass the civil rights legislation. But the main thing is it leave su with a negated promise. We must always wonder how would it have been? If Camelot had gone on eight full years what would have been. That unanswered promise will always beckon us on to the ideal. Of cousre it would not have been idea. He would probalby not have gotten that much done. Yet the potential of what he could have done will hand over the record and lead us on to try more and continue the struggle. He was strong, he was cool, he was a true leader. He was great, and he was taken from us.

 photo 00Izse-33773084_zpsa14d78d1.jpg

 form Inaugural speech:
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
  We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
  Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

hear the Promise: Kennedy Inauguration Speech (full)
the greatest speech in American history

Dion Singing Abraham, Martin and John on the Smothers Brothers

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Love is The Basis of Everything


On Friday don't miss my reminiscence of the Kennedy Assassination: I was a child in Dallas at the time and Have known many people who were there that day and saw it. One of them had real experience that might back the argument for gunman at the grassy knoll.  The real point of the piece is a tribute to Kennedy and to mark the momentous anniversary and mourning.

I don't feel very loving right now, but I don't have to feel any way to talk about love, because love is not merely a feeling. A lot of people think that love is just the special way of feeling about a person, or the warm fuzzy that comes from being with a certain person. Love is much more than just a special way of feeling. It is also a value, a commitment, a sense of orientation toward others, a philosophy, a way of being in the world (an existential engagement).

There are degrees of love and kinds of love. The Greeks called sexual and romantic love Eros From which we get our word "erotic." The kind of love friends feel they called Phileo or "brotherly love" (as in "Philadelphia"). The highest form of love they called Agape. That is usually the kind of love the Bible speaks of when it speaks of God's love for us. 1 John tells us "He who loves knows God for God is love."

Agape Means: the will to value the other, or the will to the good of the other; the desire for the other to have the best. It entails the idea of according the other all rights and human dignity. It is not personal, it's a commitment to all people. Agape is sometimes translated Charity (as in kJ trains 1 Corinthians 13 "if I speak with the tongue of men and of angles and have not charity") but this is more condescending and patronizing than the actual meaning of the term. Charity can be paternalistic in the negative sense, controlling, colonizing, derogatory. Agape is a totally positive thing; one must actually seek the good of the other whatever that may be, even against one's own interest.

Now I will start saying "crazy stuff," these are things that I have theorized about and I guess they make up the radical edge of my own philosophy because they have been scoffed at plenty of times on these boards. But I don't care I'm saying it anyway.

Basis of everything: connection with Being

When I say love is the basis of everything, I mean it really is. I believe that when the Bible says "God is love" it means it literally. In other words, we should put an "itself" there. God is "love itself,": the thing that love is actually the essence of what God is. Now you may ask how can God be both being itself and love itself? Because these two are inextricably bound up together.

Love is giving, the idea of seeking the good of the other, according the other full human dignity equal to one's own, these are ideas that entail give over, supplying the other with something. It's a positivity in the sense that it supplies an actual thing to someone. Being also shares these qualifies. Being is giving in the sense that it bettors itself upon the beings and they have their existence. It is positive in the sense that it is something and not taking something away, it's not a void as nothingness is, but moves in the direction of filling a void; nothingness becomes being, the existence of things.

So love and being are really the same impulse and they both unite in the spirit of God. God is the basis of all being, of all reality. God's character is love; that is God seeks the good of the other and bestows upon us the ultimate human dignity of being a child of God.

Motivating force behind creation

Love is the basic motivating force behind creation. God's motive urge to create was not out of a need due to looniness, but out of a desire to create as an artist, and desire is fueled by love. Art is love, artists love art, as revolutionaries love. Revolutionaries are in love and their revolutions are often expressions of love, what He Guava called "a strange kind of love, not to see more shiny factories but for people." So God creates as a need to bestow love, which entails the bestowing of being.

Now let's not have a bunch of lectures about "perfection" based upon not knowing what perfection is. Let's not have a buck of Aristotle thrown in as though it were the Bible. There is no base line for comparison from which one can really make the judgment that need is imperfection; especially the sort of need one feels to be creative or to bestow love; that is a different sort of need than the need for food or shelter.

Basis of morality

Love is the basis of morality. Love is the background of the moral universe, as Joseph Fletcher said. Austin said it too. That means all moral decisions are made with ultimate reference to God's love which is the driving force behind morality. Many people think Christian morality is about stopping impurity. These people regard sex as the greatest offense and think that basically sin = sex. But nothing is further from the truth. Sin is not sex, sin is an unloosing nature, or a selfish desire to act in an unloosing manner.

Love requires selfless giving over OT the other for the good of the other. That means all moral actions must ultimately evaluated with reference to their motivational properties. That's why Jesus spoke as he did in the sermon on the mount: if you hate you are a murderer. Because the motivation itself is the true essence of the sin, the rejecting of love and acceptance of self as the orbit creates the motive that eventually leads to the act. He is not saying that the act sin OT sinful of course, but that the sin begins with the motive not just with the act. In that sense morality is somewhat teleological, although I normally eschew teleological ethics. I am not saying that the morality of a given act is based upon outcome, but that the end toward which moral motions are given is the goal of doing love.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Are Athesits their Borther's Keeprs?

 Mother T photo Mother20Teresa-1.jpg

A Study supposedly shows that atheists are more motivated by compassion than are religious people. Atheists have used this in various ways to show that atheist can be moral, that relgion doesn't produce compassion and so on. The study is done by entitled "My Brother's Kepper: Compassion Predicts Generocity More Among Less Religious Individuals."[1] First published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, 00 (0) April (2012) 1-8. The Authors were Laura R. Saslow and Bob Willer, et al. It was published on line before print and can found in a pdf:

Past research argues that religious commitments shape individuals’ prosocial sentiments, including their generosity and solidarity. But what drives the prosociality of less religious people? Three studies tested the hypothesis that, with fewer religious expec-
tations of prosociality, less religious individuals’ levels of compassion will play a larger role in their prosocial tendencies. In Study 1, religiosity moderated the relationship between trait compassion and prosocial behavior such that compassion was more critical to
the generosity of less religious people. In Study 2, a compassion induction increased generosity among less religious individuals but not among more religious individuals. In Study 3, state feelings of compassion predicted increased generosity across a variety of
economic tasks for less religious individuals but not among more religious individuals. These results suggest that the prosociality of less religious individuals is driven to a greater extent by levels of compassion than is the prosociality of the more religious.[2]

 They want to know if religion makes people more pro-social does it make them more compassionate? If not then can non reiloigious people be more compassionate. They use giving money to charity as the benchmark and thus decide that non religious are more compassinate not because they give more money but becuase tehy have fewer motivations to do in addition to compassion. So they see non religous motivation as stripped away compassion is what's left but religous people more more than one motivation. Let's look at the methodology and results.


Across three studies, we compared the influence of compassion
on prosocial tendencies among more and less religious
individuals. In Study 1, we examined whether religiosity would
moderate the relationship of trait compassion on prosocial
behavior. We hypothesized that trait compassion would be
more critical to the generosity of the less religious than the
more religious. In Study 2, we tested whether a compassion
induction (vs. a neutral video) would increase generosity
among less religious individuals, but not among more religious
individuals. In Study 3, we assessed if momentary feelings of
compassion would predict increased generosity across a variety
of economic tasks for less religious individuals but not more
religious individuals. By measuring and manipulating compas-
sion, and measuring various forms of generous tendencies and
behavior, across three studies we test our hypothesis that
compassion is more integral to the generosity of the less
religious versus the more religious[3]

 They used a scale: Items include,
"I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me,When I see someone beingtaken advantage of, I feel kind of protective towards them, andOther people’s misfortunes do not usually disturb me a greatdeal" (reverse-scored). that' how they measure compassion.


Study 1 yielded evidence in s
upport of our main hypothesis:
Religiosity moderated the relationship between compassion
and prosocial behavior such that the compassion-to-
prosociality link was stronger for less religious individuals than
it was for more religious individuals. Further, these results held
while controlling for gender, political orientation, and educa-
tional attainment—variables that might otherwise account for
our findings. In sum, these findings indicate that although com-
passion is associated with prosociality among both less reli-
gious and more religious individuals, this relationship
is particularlyrobust for less religious individ.[4]
That's the result for study 1 the others are similar.

Obviously there are definitional issues that need to be addressed. There is a methodological problem involving the nature of their definition of religion. how do they define religious? they say more religious are more conservative are they just saing religion = conservative thus not counting liberals as motivated?

Participants indicated the strength of their
religious identity. The scale was recoded so that higher values
represent greater religiosity: 1 (no religion), 2 (not very strong religious identity), 3 (somewhat strongreligious identity), and 4(strong religious identity),M¼2.99,SD¼1.03. Single-item
measures of religiosity have been found to have sufficient
reliability and predictive validity in other work (Gorsuch &McFarland, 1972[5]

That's pretty shallow understanding of religious faith. That's going to be a problem for them. It's not just a matter of either you religious or you are not. There are levels of commitment. It's not too absurd or hard to to prove to assert that those are are more deeply convicted and who have had spiritual encounters would take the teachings more seriously and be willing to live by them. This has major import in two ways. First of all because it means that there's more involved than just feeling compassion and giving. Their major study says that non religious people have compassion as a motivator more so than religious people. That doesn't prove that religious people are less compassionate. It means that religious people might have three or four motives for giving and compassion might not be the main one (like doctrine or teaching might be more important). Non religious people will have mainly just that, compasion. This is the way the study has been understood by critics. "That doesn't mean highly religious people don't give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people's charitable feelings less than it other groups."[6] One of the study co-author's says:

"Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns."[7]
In other words it's not that the religious people are less compassionate but that they may not use compassion as the top of lexically ordered value system they go by.

The other reason knowing the depth of commitment matters is because "religious" covers a lot of ground. It includes people who don't feel the love and those who do. If you don't examine them in separate groups the averages will probably be dragged down by the less committed group. Like having bad students brings down the class average. There is a lot of evidence that those who experience the real spiritual side of their faiths are more giving and have more social consciousness than those who don't. Andrew Newberg says the kind of faith is what make the difference in terms of the result of faith upon the subject.
h+: In your new book, How God Changes Your Brain, you argue that religious fundamentalism can actually be good for you. How do you figure?
AN: It really depends on the nature of the belief. Fundamentalism, per se, isn’t bad or good. It all depends on the nature of one’s beliefs. We’ve found that if one’s beliefs are positive and loving and compassionate that can have a very profound effect on one’s health and happiness. But the opposite is true. If you believe in a punishing god, or if that fundamentalism preaches hate and anger — then the effects are going to be bad. Anxiety levels will go up, a stress response can occur, and like any stressor, if that continues for long enough, it’s going to impact health outcomes in a negative way. The real point is that what we believe has a very direct effect on the quality of our lives and we need to remember that.[8]
Two major studies of mystical experience found that those experienced the form of spirituality known as "mystical" or "peak" experience tended to have increased sense of social consciousness and became more giving. These studies are by Greely and Wuthnow.
Other positive consequences of religious experience include being less authoritarian and racist, less materialistic and status conscious, and showing more social concern and more self-assurance (Greeley 1975, Wuthnow 1978). In fact, it is in large part because of such consequences that scholars continue to acknowledge the importance of the experiential dimension of religion, even if not many study it.[9]
There are some studies that show religious people either have a high level of pro social behavior and/or generosity and compassion.John Lieff reports higher moral development among mystics.[10]
It's important to understand that just doing the two hours a week in chruch and hearing that we should love and be good to people is not enough to change one into a Mother Teresa. Those who have had actual spiritual encounter with the divine have been changed. They will always be the minority and so the average is drug down. There studies form scholarly sources that show not only giving and compassoin assocaited with religious belief but pro social behavior in general. Society for the Scientific Study of Religion finds:

An important discrepancy seems to exist between self-reports and laboratory studies regarding prosociality among religious people. Some have even suggested that this involves moral hypocrisy on the part of religious people. However, the assumption of the four studies reported here is that the impact of religiousness on prosociality is limited but exists, and does not reflect self-delusion. In Study 1 (N= 106), religious young adults tended not to use indirect aggression in dealing with hypothetical daily hassles. In Study 2 (N= 105), female students' religiosity was associated with willingness to help close targets in hypothetical situations but the effect was not extended to unknown targets. In Studies 3 (N= 315, 105 triads) and 4 (N= 274, 109 targets), religious targets not only reported high altruistic behavior and empathy, but were also perceived as such by peers (friends, siblings, or colleagues) in three out of four cases. Other results from the studies suggested that the prosociality of religious people is not an artifact of gender, social desirability bias, security in attachment, empathy, or honesty.[11]

One critique against the kind of study Saslow conduction with laboratory conditions is a study of  Israeli Jewish women Published by McGill University that seems to indicate the short comings of laboratory conditions. The study indicates that religious prompts have to be backed by real world ques that reinforce the religious training.

We may conclude based on the results that reports show higher charity and volunteering among the religious not because they are more altruistic, but rather because these individuals live in an environment that more often pressures them to give, in accordance with popular moral codes. As explained previously, worship rituals and holidays often contain cues to give money and time (Shapiro 1971; Bird 1982; Cascio 2003). Without exposure to customs designed in part to solicit donations, it is possible that the non-religious inclination to give often lies dormant.[12]

  Those findings might seem to be anti-religion as a force for giving, it must be pointed out the atheists would have the very same motive to exaggerate giving. They have social ques and a social movement (many tend to be politically liberal) that endorses compassion and giving. In those studies that involve self reporting there would be a motive to exaggerate one's on giving.

a study by Einlof in Sociology of Religion Quarterly consisting of life narrative interview from midlife in the United States "examine how religious values, ideas, and language motivate prosocial behaviors." This including giving and self Scarface and living up the teachings of Christ.

Using ratings from independent coders, statistically significant relationships were found between most of the themes and prosocial behaviors, particularly for respondents who engaged in multiple helping behaviors. In addition to documenting the relationship between religious ideas and values and helping behaviors, the study demonstrates how language mediates the relationship between the social and personal aspects of religion.[13]

Reader of this blog, Yonose, had a cogent criticism:

I saw the Brothers Keepers' study from the link. It is interesting nonetheless. If there's a positive correlation between compassion, empathy and prosocial behaviour, this would actually imply that, somehow, less religious people need to be fed of compassion more consecutively, to do any good deed with our human brethren, by applying constant sense data by stimuli and induction. All of the above seems to be correct. I don't see anything weird about that by now.As a consequence,This would also mean that less religious people are easier to be lied to with political propaganda e.g. like SOME extremist environmental alarmists.Where I believe the study is somehow flawed in context, is the linking of a positive correlation between prosocial behaviour and the making of good deeds per se as universal, because many people who love to be vocal about their lack of religiousness, just like to do good deeds in a preferential way: most probably they will help non-religious people only. Such behaviours have been demonstrated by themselves over and over.It is just overly simplistic to have a positive correlation with compassion, by induction, lack of religiosity, and then conflating such, with the actual making of good deeds to people. There is not a single trace in that study that confirms which types of people they had helped, whether religious or not.

This would also imply that the idea of correlating actual charity with lack of religiousness is not a universal statement, and that it is completely falsifiable, and in consequence, it is not possible to make a proof that "Atheists have more compassion than religious people".That's where I agree that there's a double standard with these types of Atheists.This is just reduced to a mere political game. Have these types of Atheists forgot about their intellectual roots??

These high integration states were also correlated with peak experiences including inner calm, maximum wakefulness, alertness, lack of fear, effortlessness, a sense of perfection, and a sense of being “high.” In an unusual finding these people also had higher moral development, better self-image, better sleep and a better reputation. - See more at:
These high integration states were also correlated with peak experiences including inner calm, maximum wakefulness, alertness, lack of fear, effortlessness, a sense of perfection, and a sense of being “high.” In an unusual finding these people also had higher moral development, better self-image, better sleep and a better reputation. - See more at:
I agree.
These high integration states were also correlated with peak experiences including inner calm, maximum wakefulness, alertness, lack of fear, effortlessness, a sense of perfection, and a sense of being “high.” In an unusual finding these people also had higher moral development, better self-image, better sleep and a better reputation. - See more at:
These high integration states were also correlated with peak experiences including inner calm, maximum wakefulness, alertness, lack of fear, effortlessness, a sense of perfection, and a sense of being “high.” In an unusual finding these people also had higher moral development, better self-image, better sleep and a better reputation. - See more at:
These high integration states were also correlated with peak experiences including inner calm, maximum wakefulness, alertness, lack of fear, effortlessness, a sense of perfection, and a sense of being “high.” In an unusual finding these people also had higher moral development, better self-image, better sleep and a better reputation. - See more at:

[1] Laura R. Saslow, Robb Willer, Mathrew Feinberg, Paul K Piff, Katharine Clark, Cacher Kelntner, and Srina R. Saturn."My Brother's Kepper: Compassion Predicts Generocity More Among Less Religious Individuals."Social Psychological and Personality Science 1948550612444137
accessed 11/12/13

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Staff Writer, "Atheists More Motivated by Compassion Than the Faithful," Live Science. (May 1, 2012) online ressource
accessed 11/12/13

[7] Ibid.

[8] Andrew Newberg quoted by Steve Kotler, "the Neurology of Spiritual Experience" h* sept. 2009
accessed 11/12/13

[9] Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, William H. Swatos, Jr. editor
accessed 11/12/13

[10] John Lieff, Searching for the Mind,Online resource.
accessed 11/12/13.

[11] Vassilis Saroglou, Isabelle Pichon, et al. "Prosocial Behavior and Religion: New Evidence Based on Projective Measures and Peer Ratings" Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Volume 44, Issue 3, , (September 2005), 323–348.
 Article first published online: 25 AUG 2005,DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-5906.2005.00289.x

[12] Salomon Israel and Maoz Brown, "Faith, Fellowship, and Philanthropy: Giving Rates as a Function of Religiosity among Israeli Jewish Women," McGill Sociological Review, Volume 3, February 2013, pp. 36-54.
On line versoin posted by McGill University:
accessed 11/13/13.

[13]  Christopher J. Einolf. "The Link Between Religion and Helping Others: the Role of Values, Ideals, and Language." Sociology of Religion Quarterly Review  doi: 10.1093/socrel/srr017
first published online April 6, 2011. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Albert Schweitzer, Bruno Bauer, and the Early Jesus Myth Movement

 photo 220px-Bruno_Bauer_zps3264bce5.jpg
Bruno Bauer (1809-1882)

A poster called "Anonymous" left a question on my blog the other day, I find the question repeated, presumably by the same person on CADRE blog and Triblog. I suppose this person really wants an answer.

Anonymous said...
metacrock, this does not pertain to the article that i am commenting on but it relates to the christ myth. First a statement from wikipedia:
"In The Quest, Schweitzer reviewed all former work on the "historical Jesus" back to the late 18th century. He showed that the image of Jesus had changed with the times and outlooks of the various authors, and gave his own synopsis and interpretation of the previous century's findings. He maintained that the life of Jesus must be interpreted in the light of Jesus' own convictions, which reflected late Jewish eschatology. Schweitzer, however, writes: "The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the kingdom of God, who founded the kingdom of heaven upon earth and died to give his work its final consecration never existed."" next, a statement found on a blog about the religion of Georg Freidrich Hegel: "Albert Schweitzer praised (Bruno) Bauer's scholarship as world class." Would you comment on these two pieces of information in a blog post and say if they are truthful or not.

Bruno Bauer was born in 1809 (AT EISENBERG, in the Dutchy OF Sachsen-Altenburg) died in 1882. He was a brilliant man, although a radical in many of his views and not taken seroiusly by the main stream. Schweitzer did admire his brilliance not in the sense of looking to him for answers.[1] He was not in agreement with Bauer's conclusions. Bauer was a student of Hegel, a rationalist in philosophy, leader of the left Hegalians or "republicans" or "young Hegelians.[2] Bauer was in line with the demands thninkers such as Marx and Feuerbach in rejecting religion.[3]  Bauer was also a friend of Marx and Engels for a time. He had writings about all of these issues, Hegelian philosophy, economics, history, politics, Marxism, and Biblical criticism.[4] I will focus on one narrow aspect of his thought, but only with the understanding that it is only a narrow aspect, that is his Jesus myth ideas.

There are two major ideas that I deal with but even they don't sum up the whole of his thinking on even this narrow aspect. The first is The Gospel of Mark, he saw as fiction and the date of which he got totally wrong (putting it up in 135 or so). The second is his idea that Jesus was a composite character created out of Stoicism and the Jewish religion. One of the major probelms that the Jesus myther types who try to use Bauer today enouncter is that they don't understand how prmitive his time was. They knew so litte about Biblical criticism. All he really did was raise quetions many of which have now been answered. The skeptics who champion him today place themselves in his time and act as though we know nothing.

Gospel of Mark

David Strauss, in his Life of Jesus, had accounted for the Gospel narratives as half-conscious products of the mythic instinct in the early Christian communities. Bauer ridiculed Strauss's notion that a community could produce a connected narrative. Rather, only a single writer could be responsible for the first Gospel. His own contention, embodying a theory of Christian Gottlob Wilke (Der Urevangelist, 1838), was that the original narrative was the Gospel of Mark.[5]

In concluding that the Gospel of Mark was a fictional work by one man (rather than a community) he also asserted it was the creation of the Jesus myth.[6] In that assertion we see the basis of modern atheist argument. How many times Have I observed that the atheists on message boards assume Mark was the creation of the story of Jesus? That whole assumption comes from Bauer but we see it used again and again. The same can be said of his take on Jesus as stoic philosophy which we find in Doherty (latter for that). Bauer's views on Mark are much more elaborate than just this one idea, that a community could not have produced it. I think I refute that notion pretty well in my essay "community as author."  It's the orderly possibility of the oral tradition that makes it possible for a community to produce a coherent narrative of this nature. See my blog piece on "trend toward early dates for the Gospels." There has been a massive shift toward seeing Mark written in the late 30s and the final version we know in the 60s and Matthew from 60-70 and Luke and John in 80s. In fact, this whole basis of Bauer's view point is the epitome of the out-modded form of thinking that guides atheist anti-apologetic.I've always said that atheists seem to be dredging up things from the ninteeth century. Here they are. I remember a myther posting on CARM who used to quote Bauer. They think this is big stuff and it's been out of date for over a century. The whole concept Mark is the first time the story of Jesus was ever written down is totally disproved. Read Hulmutt Koester's Ancient Christian Gospels and you can't hep but realize how badly out of date the view is.[7] He shows that there was a sinlge source that was circulating in writing as early as 50 or there about, and it became the passion narrative of all four Gospels. This was a pre Mark redaction of the passion narrative, and material before and after, up to the empty tomb. It's not just the dating of Mark that's out of fashion it's the whole concept that Mark is the original point of the story of Jesus and the first writing of it that's totally outmoded.(see my pages on "Gospel Behind the Gospels." ).

We know that Bauer's dating Mark is wrong. We know it by the basic Rosetta stone of all Gsopel dating the date of the John Ryland's Fragment. John Rylands found in 1920. Scholarly consensus places its writing at 135 so that rules out Mark having an origin in 135.[8]  Even though John is very different from Mark, it nevertheless does make use of Mark. Thus Mark had to exist first, thus it has to pre date 135. Bauer accepted the notion of the ur Mark and dated around the time of wars between Jews and Romans (60-70). Modern scholars date it in the 40's the original theory placed in the late 30s. In Bauer's day scholars tended to give the Gospels latter dates. Part of the reason for that was that they didn't have the John Ryland's fragment. Now days the UR Mark is placed late 30s-early 40s and teh finished product in 70. Modern scholar John A. Robinson (not death of God guy) dates the Ur Mark in 45 and the final version in 50 or so? [9] Scholars such as E.P. Sanders and John P. Meier have shown that these apects that Bauer took to be so Greek are actually very Hebrew. The Wikipedia article points out in contrast that Baultmann agreed with Bauer in that he saw Greek elements in the Gospels. 

The problem with that is that Baultmann was born in 1884 and died in 1976. Meier was born 1942 and still alive. E.P. Sandards was born in 37 and still alive. Bultmann did most of his work before the Dead Scrolls were discovered, the other two were born just a few years before the discovery. Bultmann was basically retired by the time the fermet of the DSS began to be understood. One of the major results of that find was to change the understanding of what was Heberw and what Greek in the NT. Meier and Sanders are going to win this fight because they have had time to absorb discoveries and ferment form them that came in after Bultmann was dead. Today most scholars understand that the Hebrews of Jesus day were much more Greek than was realized in Bultmann's day. Most of them spoke Greek and did business in Greek. Much of what was seen as Greek in the Gospels, especially John, are now understood to be Greek based Hebrew conventions. That's just a matter of how they expressed themselves, not of writing fiction.

Yet Bauer's reasons for dating Mark as he does are the Greek literary influences he thought he saw here, and that major thrust led him to think of Jesus himself as a fictional character. The reason the extent to which he seems to embody Greek Stoicism. Of course as just said, back then they thought there was a rigid line between Greek culture and Hebrew culture, they didn't realize that even "non Hellenized Jews" were fairly Hellenized. We see that same use of the stoics in Earl Doherty's "Evolution of Jesus."

We know this Hellenistic aspect of Hebrew life in palestine not only from Josephus but also from the widespread nature of the Roman empire. Greek became the standard language of commerce. The Galilee srounded by the cities of Decapolis would certainly have been Greek speaking. A huge range of inscription form Palestine also bears the marks of a Greek speaking culture."There is also a range of incriptional evidence (e.g., Jewish funerary inscriptions), numerous Greek papyri, and significant literary evidence, including Jewish books being written in or translated into Greek in Palestine. From this range of evidence, the logical conclusion can be drawn that in fact a sizeable number of Jews in Palestine used Greek." [10]

The Greek literary influences Bauer thought he saw seemed to be Stoic. He then assumed that Jesus was a fiction produced form the heavy influence of Stoic philosophy. That's a self defeating observation, however, becuase it means that the Jews had to have a heavy Greek influence which means the presence of Greek literary styles in the their writing is not a sign that that they are just quoting Greek philosophy and not discussing the actual history of the movement in terms of expression that were familiar to them. Stanly Stowers argued that the author of Matthew was not a Stoic but used Stoic elements in creating a picture of Jesus as an ethical teacher.[11] This is not because he's writing fiction. It's becuase Stoic philosophy was known to the Jews and it connects Jesus to the lofty philosophical tradition of the Greeks and shows that he was a major figure. Since the Lingua Franka of the Jews included elements of Greek culture it's presence in the Gospels do not signify the work of fiction necessary. Predestination is a considered by  many scholars to be a source of Stoic thinking, or a derivative of it. The Stoics believed in a form of determinism. Stoics believed in eventual cosmic conflagration which is seen in New Testament Eschatology. All of these points have their analogues in pre Hellinistic Hebrew thought and their use by Jews of Jesus day who were Hellinized. So the presence of similar concept is not proof of Stoic influence per se. There's no law that says Jesus could not have voiced similar ideas.[12]

Schweitzer and Bauer

Schweitzer did admire Bauer as a brilliant thinker but he rejects his view. Schweitzer's basic take on all previous understanding of Jesus was that they all shaped him into their own image. It's easy to use that against the chruch but few stop to think that Schweizter also used it against Bauer and the liberals. The liberals were molding Jesus into an eighteenth century enlightenment rational man. Bauer being an Marxist and an atheist logically molds Jesus into a fictional character. He thought there was no God so Jesus was a fiction. That's still just molding the image he wanted to see rather than seeking the historical figure. Schweitzer admired him but at the same time saw that his radicalism made is work unusable. He writes a whole chapter on Bauer in the Quest.Here is what I think is the seminal statement Schweizer makes about Bauer:

But the time is past for pronouncing judgment upon Lives of Christ on the ground of the solutions which they offer. For us the great men are not those who solved the problems, but those who discovered them. Bauer's "Criticism of the Gospel History" is worth a good dozen Lives of Jesus, because his work, as we are only now coming to recognise, after half a century, is the ablest and most complete collection of the difficulties of the Life of Jesus which is anywhere to be found.
Unfortunately, by the independent, the too loftily independent way in which he developed his ideas, he destroyed the possibility of their influencing contemporary theology. The shaft which he had driven into the mountain broke down behind him, so that it needed the work of a whole generation to lay bare once more the veins of ore which he had struck. His contemporaries could not suspect that the abnormality of his solutions was due to the intensity with which he grasped the problems as problems, and that he had become blind to history by examining it too microscopically. Thus for his contemporaries he was a mere eccentric.[13]

He asked great questions but didn't really want answers. These radical thinkers who tried to tear the Bible apart have all been given the gate by scholarship of the second half of the twentieth century. Emulating them is the reason why new atheism is so ignorant in terms of Biblical scholarship and why they always seem to be dreading up outmoded nineteenth century ideas.

 Post Script on Schweitzer:

Schweitzer is one of my all times favorite intellectual heros. He was brillian four times over (As philospher, Theologian, Bible Scholar and Musicologist/concert virtuoso and Organ builder. I can't even get one brilliant career going Schweitzer walked away form four brilliant careers he had going simultaneously in order to nurse the poor of Africa medically. He had to become a doctor to do it. He also did some of his most brilliant work in Biblical criticism in a fox hole on training exercises in the French Army.


[1] Albert Schweitzher, chapter 11 "Bruno Bauer," Question of the Historical Jesus, London:A&C Black Ltd. trans w. Montgomery, First English Edition 1910.First German Edition "Von Reimarus zu Wrede," 1906.159 On line copy on Early Christian Writings, Peter Kirby,
accessed 11/12/13
Table of contents for Online copy:

 [2] David James and Douglas Moggach, Bruno Bauer, Biblical Narrative, Freedom and Anxiety."

[3] Ibid.

[4] Neil Godfrey,  "Bruno Bauer and Today, (is this not the Carpenter?-- chapter 2)"Vidar, On line publication:
accessed 11/14/13

[5] Wikepeida, "Views on Bibilcal Origins," section of the article "Bruno Bauer," on line: 
accessed 11/14/13.

from Wikepeida, "Bruno Bauer,"  accessed 11/12/13

[6] Ibid. quoting Otto Pfleiderer.

[7] Helmutt Koester, Ancient Christian Gospels: Their History and Development. London, England: T&T Clark, first edition, 1992. 125, 218
The readers should read the whole book beasue this is an integral point thoughout the book and he gives us a wealth of knowledge supporting it. The pages 125, and 218 and around them are focal points.

[8] Wikepedia, "Rylands Papyrus P52." 11/14/13.

[9] John A. Robinson, Dating the New Testament. whif Paperback 2000.

[10] Stanley E. Porter, The Criteria for Authenticity in Historical-Jesus Research: Previous Discussion and New Proposals, London: T & T Clark, 2000, 134-5, 140-141.

[11] Stanly Stowers, "Jesus the Teacher and Stoic Ethics in the Gospel of Matthew," pdf
accessed 11/14/13

[12] Shandon L. Gutherie, "The Philosophy of the New Testament and the Question of Influence."

[13] Schweitzer, op.cit.