Sunday, September 27, 2015

Atheist fear of Gardening


Recently I was posting on a message board and I made the remark that the search for God is in the heart. An atheist responded by saying "I don't make decisions based upon emotionalism." That response made me angry becasue it's so pretensions. The very same guy, Mr. Rational thought will turn right around and wail in the most emotional tirade about how deeply he hates the Bible and hates God for telling him what to do. The Audacity of this God person! Atheism has a strong tendency to reduce everything deep, complex, and richly textured to the most banal they can get. They constantly reduce "life transformation," the upshot my religious experience arguments to "gett'n happy." Once when going on about the empirical scientific studies from academic peer reviewed journals an atheist said this was ministers emailing their people and asking them to report on how they are "gett'n happy." This reminds me of how everything the atheists have going, their entire project is nothing more than an attempt to hide the phenomena and reduce everything to such a truncated view of reality that all one has left to turn to is their shallow and simplistic view.

They do this by mocking and ridiculing the concepts of depth, being, and faith that are required to believe. They do it by arguing that the only form of knowledge is science, the only valid scinece is empirical evidence, the only valid form of empirical evidence that which agree with their views (the religious experience studies are empiric and scientific but they mock and ridicule them as "ministers emailing their flock." It makes sense that they would think of "the heart" as "emotionalism." That's becuase their greatest fear is "the subjective." That is, feelings. they are terribly afraid of feelings. That's becuase if they allow themselves to feel they will be convicted of their sin. I've seen atheists actually deny the concept of "the heart." They have ridiculed it as "the heart pumps blood." So the whole idea of an inner life is abhorant to them. That's probably because if they dealt with the inner life they would have no choice but to be convicted and believe. It is entirely essential that the believer cultivate the inner life. Inner is what faith in God is all about. There is no real point in belief in God without the inner life. Before discussing the nature of inner life let me remove the charge of emotionalism.

First the concept of the heart is not ridiculous, not based upon magic, not difficult to prove. The idea of the "heart" is merely based upon the Greek term "cardia." The Greeks did not see the brain as the seat of the intellect they saw the chest as the place of the intellect. This is because when one feels emotions deeply one can feel a palpable constriction in the chest, the pulse races, the blood pumps faster and that gives the link between the blood pump in the chest, the Greek term "cardia" which we adopted to refer to the pump but the Greeks used to refer to the "inner being" as the seat of feelings and emotions. The Biblical term heart, which atheists confuse with spirit or soul and thus react to indignantly (as they react to everything) is just the will, the desire, the sense of conviction in deep seated ideas we care about. Secondly, this is not "emotionalism." There's a lot ore to "the inner life" than just being emotional. What most people mean when they say "emotionalism" is not an organized philosphy that says based decisions upon feelings. The term is a pejorative destined to mock and ridicule anyone whose decision making process is other than the atheist ideology. There is much more to the "inner life" than just emotion. Existentialism and the concepts of self authentication are included in "inner life." The intellect is part of the inner life. Going about the business of the intellectual life style, reading, thinking, mediating, this is all part of inner life.

No one actually bases decisions upon raw feelings, as an example of inner life. Immature people make rash decisions based upon raw feelings, but that's not the aim of Christian life. When we speak of "the heart" in connection with decision making, such as faith based decisions, we are talking about conviction. Conviction can be borne of deep intellectual analysis, logic, and deliberation as much as it can "feelings." Feelings per se are not necessarily 'emotionalism' either. One doesn't make decisions based upon "I hate X therefore I will not do X." Actually feelings can play different roles in decision making and belief but they must always be grounded in reason. The most important feeling in relation to faith is a sense of conviction that is beyond a mere physical sensation or emotion. Conviction is reducible to just emotion. Conviction stems from the deep seated assurance that a course is correct, that comes from reasoning it out as well as determining actual "feelings."

Atheists will try to mock and ridicule the notion of the inner life. This is because they mock and ridicule anything that doesn't stack up to their ideology about truncated reality. They must collapse reality to eliminate possibles, so one doesn't seek God.the way they do this is to prescribe only one aspect aspect of reality as real, that which is empirically derived from scientific observation. Now a good deal of empirical scientific data disproves atheism but of they can't allow that. Evidence which does not support their conclusions they reduce to their canon of prescribed reality by indicting it's scientific nature in all manner of bogus ways. They have to create the idea that only that which supports the ideology is valid. To do this they cling to the surface of reality. Things are only what can be gleaned form surface level facts of existence of physical objects and nothing else. There is no depth of being, they must create confusion about the very concept of being. They will call it abstraction and say it's pretend and so forth. Just as they label faith as "pretending" and what have you. Everything feeds back into the central thesis; reality is surface level only. That is the level of reality for them because that's what their knowledge controls. Anything deep requires thought, and thought is liberating. If one begins to think about reality and what depth means one begins to unravel the mythology that says only transcribe scientifically derived things can be in existence. To unravel that is to step onto the road to belief and they must avoid that at all costs.

For the believer the situation is just the opposite. Not that the believer needs to pretend, quite the contrary. Pretense in belief is deception. Faith is not about pretending it's about seeking truth. If we are not seeking the TRUTH with a capitals we are not living in faith. We are not cultivating the inner life if we ware not seeking truth. Even if that means digging up some deeply rooted and cherished misconceptions we still have to do it. That statement is not some radical prescription I got form Paul Tillich, it's a statement I got from very conservative A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. The situation is the opposite of that described as "atheist tactics" above because it means expecting that there is more to reality than meets the eye and that finding it will entails a search based upon global knowledge, not just one method. My "global" in don't mean the occult I mean both science and philosophy as well as a phenomenological approach and mystical experience. The mystical is not someone one can control so that should come under the heading "phenomenology." A phenomenological approach would work best with mystical experience; allow the phenomena to suggest it's own categories.

The inner life requires cultivation. We can't just expect to stop with belief, nor can we imagine that constant argument and constant apologetic is spiritual nourishment. The ability to do a sustained apologetically debate requires a strong inner life, it not a source of inner life. That's not say that doing apologetic on a regular basis doesn't' help build the inner life. Yet it can't all be oriented around arguing about God's existence. The primary aspect of innerl ife that is the water for the roots of the plant of faith is prayer. I'm going to start mixing metaphors here but prayer is the nourishment of relationship with God and relationship with God is the foundation upon winch one is able to conduct a successful apologetically approach. We have to draw a line in the sand and ignore the atheists, forget the arguments, move away from that and go into your own space and deal with God. We have to do this every day. You don't have to get down on your knees and shut our eyes real tight. You don't have to speak in a stilted King James fashion, you don't have to even do discursive inner monologue, just focus on God.

I find that the thing that works best is the old fashioned prayer and praise. That may sound incongruous with all my high and mighty liberal theology, but the hold over from my old charismatic days is that prayer and praise works best to bring in the sense of God's presence and open one up to the possibilities of God. There's no formula, once might experiment and find what really excites one on an individual level. For me it's praise thing. It's very repetitious but singing works. The older hymns are more meaningful, they have more concepts in them. Repetition is good too though because it's like a mantra, enables focus. Meditating upon the presence of God is important. When you feel a sense of presence however slight, dwell on it, think about it, cultivate the contact with it. Study the Bible ever day and pray every day. Prayer is not a list of wants. There's a time in prayer for presenting petitions. First get into the spirit, praise God and mediate on God until you feel close to the divine and then present wants when you feel led to. We should all pray at lest two hours a day as a minimal effort. Do I do that? NO! Sometimes I do. It goes in phases. I went through a phase a couple of times when I prayed four hours in row every day. That's not even accomplishment there are people who pray much more than that.

It's a discipline, the firsrt time you try it will be hard to make five minutes. Do it at a regular time every day and increase by a few minutes every day. There are endless schemes for Bible study. Don't just look up answers to atheist attacks that's as bad as doing the atheist thing and only reading it to find problems. Read what speaks to you and dweel on it. Meditate on the ideas the thoughts. There are endless books on all manner of meditation. Meditation doesn't always mean eastern style with mantra. Discursive reasoning can be meditation. Cartesian style meditation is through development of ideas. Mark out a passage, look up every word, read a long way around before and after to get the context. Ask basic questions about context, what's the point of this? Why was it written? Who is it speaking to? There are tons of study guide things on the bible one can find. For internet message board people who are arguing with atheists one of the major hang up is going to be overcoming the doubt tape atheists have constantly tried to imprint on your brain. You are going to have to learn to respect the word of God all over again. I recommend that book Models of Revelation by Avery Dulles. That's not a sprituiaized study guide has nothing to do with bible study. It's on the nature of academic work about the nature of Biblical revelation. It's important because it will sharpen one's sense understanding about the nature of the Bible and enable one to endure the problems encounter in the Bible. One of the major helps it bestows is in understanding that it doesn't matter if there are problems in the Bible. Problems is not a reason to trash the Bible the way the atheist have attempted. The intellectual and philosophical approach si part of the inner life.

For the average person the spiritual aspects are going to be more accessible than the intellectual. One can educate oneself academically but there is no substitute for learning in a university environment. People guy reference books for bible study, works like Strong's Concorde. That stuff has gotten so popular it's much more available online than in hard copy. There's no substitute for taking Greek. Those references books are biased by doctrine and they are all written by conservatives and biased by their doctrines. Take some Greek classes and use the secular Greek Lexicon of Classical Greek (Lidell and Scott) along with Strong's. It's hard to give yourself a college education. It's a good idea to take of seminary classes if you are lucky enough to be in a town with a seminary. I really don't understand why atheists refuse to study. They would be more effective as atheists. That makes me think their real purpose is just emotional (ironically sense they are afraid of being emotional) they are just looking for a place to vent.

The perennial danger is always deception. The potential of making a mistake probably scares a lot of people off from spiritual life. One must stay grounded. Get grounded then stay grounded. We do that in three ways: fellowship, Bible study, prayer, in reverse order. "Fellowship" has huge drawbacks. Churches are rough. We are social creatures and social support is necessary. Just a small group can be a big help. Look for a place where they are not condmening or legalistic and where they treat people right and seeking God is their top priority. Don't fear mistakes so terribly because Grace covers a multitude of sins.

Don't let atheist destroy your faith. Don't allow mocking and ridiucle to discourse you from seeking God. There are intellectual answers to every intellectual issue. The real issues that kill faith are daily living issues for that we need to be strong in a daily living sort of way. That's what prayer strengthens us in. The intellectual life takes care of itself if you cultivate it, and the inner life includes the intellectual life. The spirit and the intellectual are not contradictions. The two can be integrated and working on the integration is a great project for the inner life. It's something we work on every day and it's a major focus of our lives. It gives us meaning and fulfillment. I am reminded of the phrase at the end Voltaire's Candide. He says several times, "we must tend our garden." The context is speaking of a literal garden where several aging and starving castaways have wound up living together and pulling for mutual survival after a life of carnage and hardship. The phrase is usually taken as a metaphor, mainly it's the last thing said in the book and repeated. The metaphor implies the cultivation of an inner life, or a life of the mind just as one tends and cultivates a garden. It must be tended and cultivated every day, this is what keeps up alive, as the physical garden kept Candide and his friends alive at the end. Don't let atheists stop you from tending your garden.

Friday, September 25, 2015

my new blog the silver age of film

It's a place to put all my film reviews but a friend, James B. from my boards will being putting up his own reviews and Ill be doing new one's. The Silver Age of Film

Thursday, September 24, 2015

If The Shoes of the Fisherman Fit...


This is an old review I did way back in 07, I'mdoing it now as a tribute to the Pope's visit. I would have done I tomarrow (film fest Friday) but the Pope will be gone by then.

Sunday Night I could not sleep. I decided to go into the tv room after tossing and turning. My brother was just going to bed, it was the wee small hours. There, just coming on, "In the Shoes of the Fisherman" a film which had been critically acclaimed in its day(1968). I couldn't stop watching. My parents took my brother and I to see it when it was just out, and it was consider a very important movie with some of the great actors of the time.Anthony Quinnplayed Kiril Lakota who becomes Kiril I, the first non Italian Pope in 400 years. I recall our teacher in fifth grade talking about it in school. It made a big impact because it dealt with the premier fear of the time, the threat of nuclear war.

Oskar Werner played David Telemond, a young radical priest patterned after Tielhard de Chardin.Werner won an Oscar for the part, he always reminded me of a young William Buckley, William Buckley Jr. jr. In fact Buckley was pretty young back then so he was more like his kid brother than his son. In supporting roles were Lawrence Oliver, one of the greatest actors of all time, Directed by Michael Anderson. It was a fine film, perhaps a great one, and totally forgotten. Greatness is always forgotten. The film strangely foreshadowed real life as the first non Italian pope in 400 years was chosen from a communist country. He had been a political prisoner for twenty years. Chosen because he was a Russian, would be willing to stand up to them, and thus acceptable to the West, but had experience dealing with the Soviets and understood their thinking. At the time he is chosen a crisis is percipient between The Soviet Union and China. In real life at the time these two communist comrade states were having boarder disputes, shots were fired people were killed. In the film, China is in a deep famine and three provinces are starving. The Soviets are saying they will be at war in a two months. They appeal to the pope to act as go between with the West and try to procure food to stave off the famine. China has a huge list of demands for both the USSR and the West. They are not willing to take aid because they don't want to come under the thumb of Western imperialism again, and they suspect that the West will make heavy demands. The Pope steps in and agrees to empty the Vatican coffers to buy the grain for China. This will leave the Vatican broke. The Church hierarchy opposes it but the new pope stands his ground. He announces the move at his coronation in St. Peter's Square, which is filled with a half million people. He says something like "we will do as Christ would do and empty our wealth to feed the starving people." The Crowd goes wild cheering and gives him a great ovation. The Film ends as a slight smile comes across Quinn's face while the people of the world calibrate, the Church is finally doing what it should have done in the middle ages.

The subplot that develops with Telemond, the Oskar Werner character, involves a hearing to determine the soundness of his teaching, and eventually he is silenced.That means he can't publish his works. He could quite and publish them without the blessing of the church but if he wants the blessing of the Church he can't have it. The hearing is brought on by the new Pope who wants Telemond as a private top adviser. He knows the young man is one of the most brilliant theologians of the Church and wants to bring him into the inner circle. But he has a reputation as a radical and his views are suspect, the Pope wants him cleared as soon as possible. But the young priest can't do enough to screw up his own cause. Every time he clears up a seeming unorthodoxy clarifying his position, he then makes more confusing statements that sound even more radical. At one point Leo McKern(Rumpole of the Baily). Cardinal Leone, asks "do you believe that Christ is the son of God?" "certainly I do" he says, "Christ is the center like the hub of a wheel where the spokes meet, he is a microcosm of the whole universe." They all look puzzled and ask "do you believe that Christ is the savior." "certainly I do, but if I did not, I would still believe in the world.. I have a vision of the world that I can't give up. If I did not believe in God I would believe in the world." He goes on to say something to the effect that "Christ is the world." Needless to say they silence him. It's amazing to see Hollywood try to sound like radical theology without doing violence to the ideas of de Chardin.Telemond makes it easy on them and dies of a brain tumor shortly after that. Tielhard de Chardin also died soon after he was silenced and never had the chance to prove himself.

I love this film because it's the very heart and soul of the 60s, it shows the period when theology was the most exciting and really meant something in the world. There will never be a movie like this again. It was a product of a kind of Hollywood that doesn't' exist anymore.It was made at the very tail end of the old Hollywood withthe star machine sysetm, the Hollywood built by Meyer and MGM, just before the "new breed" of films such "Easy Rider" began to emerge. This was the same year "Bonnie and Clyde" came out, that marks the beginning of the new film making. This was A Hollywood that felt duty bound to be somewhat reverential of the Catholic church. It was a Hollywood that made films of great pageantry enacted the world stage. A Hollywood that made socially important pictures about big ideas. It addressed the spirit of the times, fear of nuclear war, the sense that we lived in a very troubled era, and great crises were unfolding every day. I think the world is now so jaded, and so used to that feeling that it doesn't phase us. it's like going to the moon. the first time we did it was amazing and epoch making, the second time it was not so exciting after that the whole idea was rather ho hum. We still live in dangerous times, and great crises are always unfolding, but somehow we've gotten used to it. The Church is still important but it doesn't seem so. We have been brainwashed into thinking of the world as so totally secularized we don't think of the Pope as a major actor on the world stage.

Another amazing thing about this movie is that at this time liberal theology was known to the public. Most people probably did not know any thing that Tielhard de Chardin said, but they knew there were radical liberal theologians who said things like "God is dead" and for so forth. Teilhard was not a God is dead movement theologian but that was the general sense of "crazy radical priests." Liberal theology was known to the public and the basis of the religious establishment was not the moral majority. The fundamentalists changed all of that and their message came to so totally dominate that most people have no ideology that there is liberal theology. The Church doesn't seem to be a major player anymore either.

It's a fine film, I highly recommend it. Two thumbs up.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Greatest Film Ever: Bergman's Seventh Seal

knight (Max Von Sydow) playing chess with death

foundChivalry Now

The Seventh Seal

The knight playing chess with Death.
This movie, from 1957, is Ingar Bergman's greatest film, and considered by many to be one of the greatest films of all time.
The story is about a knight returning home from the crusades. He finds the land ravaged by plague and religious fanatics. On his journey, he is visited by Death, who agrees to let the knight live if he can beat him at a game of chess.
The following is taken from the script where the knight mistakenly thinks he is confessing to a priest, but it is Death who is listening. It expresses the existential struggle of this knight searching for truth.

Both the dialogue and the synopsis below are from the link I link to below "Chivalry Now"


A knight tries to pray along the seaside, but is unable to. He is troubled by the requirements of faith. Although he has gone to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusade for God, all he saw there was death and injustice, and men of twisted faith. He asks himself, "where is God? What is the meaning of existence without Him? Where can I find any sense to life?" He is an idealist who is troubled. He is no longer set in the ideals given to him, but questions everything to find a greater truth. What troubled him most is that there seems to be no idealized truth to grasp onto, and this leaves him searching in despair.
The squire is more down to earth, the disenchanted intellectual who demands that everyone else see the world from his disenchantment. He has not only lost his ideals (if he ever had them), but lost the desire to find something greater than what he sees. He is the existentialist. Basically he resents his station, that of serving the more idealistic knight.

Death accepts the challenge of playing the game of chess, giving the knight a chance to continue search for God, and dedicate his life to doing one good act. One wonders if we are not all playing chess with Death, postponing the inevitable, which might be waiting for us around the next corner.

The married couple, the actors, represent a healthy relationship, despite their obvious hardships. They love each other, and their son. The father tells his wife that their son will be a great acrobat, that he will accomplish the incredible (keeping the ball suspended in mid-air). He then explains that the trick would be impossible for him or his wife, but not necessarily for Mikael. In this statement, he expresses hope for the future, and disavows limitations on the next generation. There is a simple idealism expressed in this. We live and then we die, allowing evolution to produce something better. We should facilitate this process. That the actor sees visions suggests that he is in tune with his own mystical experiences, which transcends the rituals of religion.

The squire has great disrespect for priests, whom he sees as taking advantage of common people, using fear as a tool. He degrades those religious idealists who created the idea of a Holy Crusade. The thought of religious fanatics beating themselves out of repentance frightens him.

The man who steals from the dead was previously a student of theology who proselytized going to the Crusade. He is now a thief, and attempts to rape the woman who discovers his treachery. The squire believes that this is the natural progression of religious leaders. The man belittles and threatens the actor, hating him for his simple authenticity. He later dies of the plague.

The burning of the witch demonstrates how our belief in God and angels and the devil are ultimately based on nothing we can see or touch. There is life, and there is death. The witch who believes in the devil is obviously insane. Are the priests who condemn her, and the soldiers who kill her much different? The knight experiences anguish at her death, as the squire points out that only emptiness awaits her.
The actor who has the affair with the blacksmith's wife feigns his own death. Before stabbing himself with the fake knife, he states that he will leave the unreality of his life, and take on the reality of a corpse. This is a powerful statement of existential thought. The living person is not static; he is always creating himself, with every choice and direction that he takes. This is likened to "unreality." The dead corpse is, in comparison, a fixed object, without conscious potential. It's reality does not change. It is dead, not alive.

The knight distracts Death long enough for the married couple to escape. This is his good deed, and the answer to what he was looking for. Our purpose is to preserve life for the future. Other than that, we cannot be sure of anything. Even Death seems pleased by the knight's pleasure. The knight asks Death for what he knows about the mysteries of life. Death can tell him nothing. It appears that Death is more of a reality than God.

The ending is very interesting. Everyone dies, except for the couple and their baby, who have escaped. The knight begs his unseen God for mercy, while the squire complains that he is wasting his breath. They both die, but who is the one who contributed the most to life? It is the discouraged idealist who seeks for truth. His life had more meaning in that he saved the lives of others

Bergmann was an atheist, the son of a minister and Chaplin to the King of Sweden. He produced a huge body of works in the 50's and 60's and set the tone for films in that decade and beyond. In such films as "Hour of the Wolf," "The seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries," "Virgin Spring," "Crys and whispers," Bergmann wrestled with the oceanic topics of life, aunxt, meaning, the existence of God, the anxiety of being human.

watching those films makes up some of the happiest memories of my youth. For me he will always be the symbol of the greatness of art, the discovery of life, and the search for ultimate meaning.My two favorite films of all time are Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. The only other director I place on the same level is Kurosawa.

Bergman is one of the finest examples of the style of atheism into which I fitted when I was young. Searching, pondering the great questions, an existentialist who is never satisfied with conventional answers. The thing about Bergman as an atheist is that he's the diametrical opposite of Dawkins. He wasn't arrogant about his unbelief, although he was a rebel of theater and film making, originally known as "one of the angry young men" of early 50s. He knew he was great and was very arrogant in the arts, but in terms of eternity and the transcendent, he deals with religion with great respect. Even when he mocks religion he's not mocking the people for believing it, and he never makes a mockery of the search.He's still searching himself. He's like someone saying "If you find anything I would still like to know, but I don't think you are going to." He doesn't handle religion with kid gloves, its obvious he thought most of it was nonsense, but he never degrades the sense of wonder at the holy or the luminosity or realization of our need to seek the ultimate.

"The Seventh Seal" has all of these features. Nothing is more of a slap in the face to blind obedience and unthinking conformity of the religious history of the West than Bergman's scenes such as, burning the girl at the steak, and the girl who has faith Satan will save her suddenly realizes "there's no body there to save me and I'm going to die now." The superstition of the guy smearing the blood and bile of a black dog on the walls to keep the plague away. These are stinging rebuttals to traditional organized religion. The Circus performers, especially the husband, child-like and innocent, happy, only concerned with the happiness of his family and his art, represent those for whom faith is real. The husband sees the Virgin Mary everywhere and at times we see her tripping by in the background while no one else notices.

The sincere seeker is never berated by Bergman, but human frailty is never masked. The old actor is always seeking other men's wives to court, the young woodman's wife is never faithful, the three are always seeking to do each other harm. Yet at the same time this mockery, it's a fares.

The Knight is a seeker but he's also afraid. He seeks certainty. He's not seeking the infinite or the divine necessarily but certainty as to what's true. He confesses this to one whom he takes for a priest but it's really death in disguise. This is how death learns the combination of knight and bishop he's been uses and then beats him. The confession made to death is about his need for certainty and his fear of not finding it. So death is saying in a sense, "I'm the only certainty, and you only find it after you come with me."

Here's an excerpt of the confession to death, on Chivalry Now.

ANTONIUS: I want to confess, as best I can, but my heart is void. The void is a mirror. I see my face, and feel loathing and horror. My indifference to men has shut me out. I live now in a world of ghosts, a prisoner in my dreams.

DEATH: Yet you do not want to die.


DEATH: What are you waiting for?

ANTONIUS: Knowledge.

DEATH: You want a guarantee?

ANTONIUS: Call it what you will. Is it so hard to conceive of God with one's senses? Why must He hide in a mist of vague promises and invisible miracles? How are we to believe the believers when we don't believe ourselves? What will become of us who want to believe, but cannot? And what of those who neither will nor can believe? Why can I not kill God within me? Why does He go on living in a painful, humiliating way? I want to tear Him out of my heart. But He remains a mocking reality which I cannot get rid of. I want knowledge. Not belief. Not surmise. But knowledge. I want God to put out His hand, show His face, speak to me. But He is silent. I cry to Him in the dark, but there seems to be no one there.

DEATH: Perhaps there is no one there.

ANTONIUS: Then life is a senseless terror. No man can live with Death and know that everything is [for] nothing.

DEATH: Most people think neither of Death nor nothingness.

ANTONIUS: Until they stand on the edge of life, and see the Darkness.

Bergman is an odd mixture, he was cutting edge sixties rebel in the arts, worldly, sophisticated, atheist, intellectual. Yet he was sensitive to the search for God and the desire to find truth. His films are paradoxical as well. The film is a combination of Mel Brooks camp humor, with high school play where the drama teacher has made the production very stagy and it's all shot on home movie. There are times when the production seems so rough you can swear it is a home movie. Then you go to the coffee shop after and talk about the existence of God for three hours because you realize you have seen a great film and it has transported you into the search. His films are also paradoxical as he was, they convey this greatness. To appear so cheap and amateur to leave one with the sense of having seen a truly great work of art it has to be truly great.

The major Characters dance over the hill with death, they all die of the plague but all we see is that they meet death, then they all dance away with him. They are spied by the only survives of the traveling companions, the hippie-like performers and their young son, who watch them dance over the horizon into eternity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Answering Dan Lawler's Review of My Book (The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman

 photo frontcover-v3a_zps9ebf811c.jpg
Order from Amazon

Lawler's cutsie ultra cleaver review is given brilliant title:"Listen To What The Flower People Say"

By Dan Lawler May 20, 2015

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

This is not a review it's the typical mindless knee jerk atheist mocking that so obviously forms the signature move of their movement. to wit:

he quotes a few statements I made about love and mystical experience

"Mystical experience is like love; it is love, in a very real sense." Location 5649.

"Mystical experience is not going to tell us what God is made of; it will tell us God is love. Love is a matter of experience and we can experience that. We need not make doctrines about love, we need only love. " Loc. 5774.

"God is love, and love is the foundation of everything." Loc. 6156.

Than his incisive commentary:
That's right folks, all you need is love, love; love is all you need. If you missed the 1960s or haven't otherwise had a mystical experience of love (or "God," as God is love), then a dose of psilocybin combined with a Good Friday church service might be just what the love doctor ordered for that life changing encounter with the Absolute.

Out of an almost 500 page book he isolates three comments about love then characterizes the whole work by that. Forget over 100 (maybe more like300) empirical scientific studies, the ground breaking M scale that gives us a basis of comparison between experiences so that we not just guessing about subjective states, water off a Duck's back for Lawler.

Pardon the sarcasm, but even the author himself concedes the lollipops-and-rainbows content of his peace and love message. After telling us for the umpteenth time that mystical experience provides a sense that God is love and "the sense of God's love enables one to cope and to love others" (Loc. 6131), he states: "I admit this interpretation does sound a bit 'New Age-like' or pie in the sky; one might go so far as to say 'sunshine and candy lambs.'" One might indeed.

Pardon it? without the sarcasm there's nothing there. In this quote he tries to insist that the "message of the book" is summed up in these three statements, not "umpteen" but three, despite two whole chapters on study findings and study methodology. The message of the is stated explicitly in more than three places (like the subtitle and the back cover)is that good scientific research provides a rational warrant for belief. He knows that:
Mystical experiences that God is love provide the "trace of God" from the book's title, and pragmatism provides the "rational warrant for belief" of the subtitle. People are justified in believing that God is love if they have a mystical experience to that effect and the experience allows them to better cope with life. This rational warrant is said to justify a belief in God without the need of otherwise proving his/her/its existence. The author desires to "free the believer from the need to prove." (Loc. 125.) In the process, however, he also frees them from truth and reality.

Notice that he's still trying to confuse the real message with mocking point (his fear of love is symptomatic of Dawkamentalism. In this statement Lawler reveals his inability to follow a simple argument. Love is a universal or ner universal aspect of the experie3nce, it is not warrant for belief. The warrant is the transformative effects that tells religious belief does what it says it will (changes your life), thus acts as a measure of veracity. That may be over his head. It's Understandable why love is s8uch a red flag for him. Dawkamentalists hate love and thus fear it.
The pragmatic test 'Does it work?' is the author's substitute for truth. "Working equals truth in the epistemic field of our assumptions." (Loc. 5295.) Mystical experiences "work" because they allow one to better cope with the "human problematic" of life being nasty, brutish and short. Magic mushrooms work even better.

Are we dealing with Donald Trump here? If working is not an empirical test what is? Science? You mean like the 50 years of scientific studies with no negative findings? In the book I actually made a big deal out of the atheist refusal to acknowledge this point. If you ask them how they know science is true they will say, it works! they make little pithy comments like "you can ask that and you are using a computer?" The connection between working and truth is foundational to atheist thinking. It's the core of empiricism. That's the basis of prediction and explanatory power. Apparently Lawler doesn't understand the distinction between epistemic matters and propaganda. Insisting upon "truth" while ignoring the means to find it is mere propaganda.

then he wants to throw the good Friday study at me.

In 1962, two groups of Harvard divinity students were sent to church on Good Friday; members of one group were given a placebo and the others a hit of psilocybin. All the members of the drugged group reported experiencing profound, positive mystical experiences (save for the one guy who "totally freaked out"). (Locs. 2553, 5105.) Subsequent experiments in the late 80s and early 2000s had psilocybin takers similarly reporting mystical experiences that increased their personal well-being and life satisfaction (though "about a third of the subjects reported significant fear, with some reporting transient feelings of paranoia"). Loc. 5089.

The psilocybin trips were, for some, an effective coping mechanism for the human problematic. They "worked" according to this author's pragmatic standards. The author steadfastly denies that the administered hallucinogens caused the reported experiences, and says the cause of the experience is beside the point anyway. If the subject reports an experience that adds to his well-being, the experience is deemed "real" because it has "real" effects. (Loc. 1092.) This is where the author's pragmatism cuts its ties to reality. If a drug induced hallucination helps you to cope with life's problems, you can say you've experienced God and that is all the rational warrant you need for living in fantasy land.

First of all I acknowledged the link between transformative experience and the drug. he just doesn't talk about my answer. I wonder if he read the whole chapter. Secondly he relates an answer I did not give. He says, "The author steadfastly denies that the administered hallucinogens caused the reported experiences, and says the cause of the experience is beside the point anyway.." I said no such thing. He mistakes my challenge to the study to supply proof of cause but makes it sound like I am denying something the study supplied. Moreover, I prove that the good Friday data is contaminated so it can't tell us anything. totally ignores it. He also misses the fact that I pointed to that the subjects of the original Panke study (Good Friday) all had mystical experiences before the study, some in childhood. That opens the door to the prospect that the drugs opens receptors that allow the memory of the experience. That's why the data is contaminated.

Another misimpression he creates is that two subsequent studies back up good Friday. The study in the 80s was a follow-up to good Friday, same people same bad data. The study in the first decade of the century was Johns Hoppkins (the researcher's name is Griffiths), that was a new study. Lawler ignores my point that the author of the study buys the receptor argument (above) and says it doesn't rule out God. I quoted his statement in a news paper and also communicated with him in emails.

The final part of that quote: "If a drug induced hallucination helps you to cope with life's problems, you can say you've experienced God and that is all the rational warrant you need for living in fantasy land," this is a ridiculous exaggeration. That kind of data is not existent in the Griffiths study, They did not follow the subjects for years to determine if they experienced transformation, many studies on mystical experience have done so. The findings in Griffiths show high score on the M scale and the subjects themselves reported experiences, There is no data on transformation. The receptor argument explains the M scale scores but since there is no data on transformation there's no proof the drug produces that. The critics still can't explain how the mystical experience without the drug does that, Lawler can't explain how all those people who did not take the drug, in other studies, did have the transformation.

Whatever the Bible might say about God, truth and reality is of little account to the pragmatist, so don't go looking there for guidance.

He didn't read the last chapter where I show how an experiential apologetics is Biblically based.

He exhibits another little technique that atheists use on message boards, labeling. They think if they label your position then they beat your argument. This excessively stupid because atheists are usually pragmatists. I am not a pragmatist at all, it's stupid to use that label just because I use social science data.

Pragmatism rejects representation and correspondence, that is, language does not truly represent an objective reality and our concepts do not truly correspond to an objective reality.
that's ludicrous and shows massive ignorance about pragmatism. Lawler is on the verge of making a beginner's mistake in argumentation. Let's watch:
Consequently, language cannot convey true knowledge of reality. Religious language in particular is "basically guaranteed to be wrong" insofar as it purports to correspond to reality. (Loc. 5035.) Language, like religion, is merely a culturally constructed coping mechanism. To the extent it allows one to better survive in the world it "works," and for pragmatists that's as good as it gets vis-à-vis truth and reality.

That is not the result of pragmatism but of mystical theology. Nor does it apply to all language, speaking directly about talk of the transcendent.

Because words are mere cultural constructs that do not accurately represent reality, religious doctrine is not all that important. In fact, doctrine exacerbates the human problematic as it "creates religious differences and religious problems." (Loc. 3092.) The world's mystics all experience the same ground of being, its only the words they use to describe the experience that differ: "Jesus," "Jehovah," "The Void," "Vishnu," "Allah," "Krishna," "Christ." (Locs. 2771, 5880.) The words are insignificant. The experience is what counts. Why bother with those troublesome words and religious doctrines when one can just mystically experience love?

That's an exaggeration of what I said and I never said anything like Jesus = Vishnu. I did not lump Christ in with Krishna. or any other god in a theological sense..To not understand the link between J (OT God) and Allah is totally ignorant. Even so that doesn't bar one side being wrong.

I never said words are unimportant I did made caveats against ignoring it. In fact I made a big deal out of the point that I would not base doctrine upon mystical experiences I use doctrine to make sense of it. My point is we can know love apart from language.

Altogether now:

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind's true liberation
Aquarius! Aquarius!

I have a counter quote from an old 60s song, one I always liked better: "a man only sees what he wants to see, and dis-regards the rest, lie lie lie lie lie lie lie --The Boxer, by Paul Simon.
here'a the link order the book
Order from Amazon
ExactSeek: Relevant Web Search

Sunday, September 13, 2015

TS Abductive version 3 of 3

The argument offers the best explanation

The argument seeks to explain why organizing principals are necessary and all pervasive. It also seeks to explain how such principles can be. Where are they located? How can disembobied principals be “out there?” The transcendental signifier fits the criteria offered as “best explanation.


There are two aspects, elegance (number and concisenss of the theories basic principles.) and ontological simplicity (number of entities proposed). The TSED and God are not two entities but one and the same. That's one “entity” the TSED has ontological simplicity. I don't know if Christian theology could be said to be concise but it can't be as complex as the mathematics for the multiverse. Religious answers are not scientific. They can't be judged by the same standards. Yet, concepts can be concise and clearity often makes for simplicity. God is a concept, as is the TSED. The concept iclear and concise: God is the mind that thinks the world.

Theologically God has always been considered simple: God is not a body, not composed of form or matter, He's not a product of nature.1


Science and religion are not competitors. Belief and atheism do compete. They both seek to explain ultimate origins. The best atheism can do is use science to assert that Gravity is the ultimate. Since we don't really understand gravity well enough to say it's self creating and self sufficient that's not much of an answer. In positing a “why” they are stuck with denying that there is a why. Science does not compete with God, except as used by the new atheist. It is there use of science that speak to as a rival hypothesis.


There are no contradictions in the concept of God per se. There may be contradictions in some ideas of God but not in all of them. Of course atheists might point out that the problem of theodicy (why does God allow pain and evil?) creates a contradiction between the world as we know it and the idea of a loving God who cares for each one of us. There are various theological answers, however that mitigate the contradiction. One of them might be that God must allow the possibility of evil choices and their consequences to have moral universe. A moral universe is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the good. If its a real choice we have to be free to make the wrong choice.

That opens the door to the issue of hidden reasons in God's plan. Why, for example, is free will so important? Without free will there is no actual love. So if all if this nonsense in life is all about love why doesn't God just tell us what it's all for? So there's a level beyond which we just don't know. That does not constitute a contradiction in the concept of God, or even in that of a loving God. That kind of answer must be given carefully, however, or we charges of double standard.


Here the previous answer of hidden knowledge might be seen as a violation of this criterion. It calls for an answer to reveal more answers about the data than do its rival hypotheses. Yet now we are asking allowances for hidden answers. On the other hand, none of the other hypotheses offer complete answers with disclosure of all potential data. We don't understand everything about gravity for example, as stated above. The God hypothesis answers issues on many levels that science can't offer. This is not to say that science is no good, God and science are in different domains and they answer different kinds of questions. Belief in God enables us to posit a final cause that sits behind the chain of cause and effect as a whole. It also not only offers answers at a philosophical level but allows connections between the causal postulate of the universe and other areas of reality that impinge upon existential issues and ethics. Why are we here? Does life have a meaning? How shall I deal with others? These are questions for science has no answers. The believer is then free to use science to answer questions about the workings of the physical world. Science is not competing but in considering “competing hypotheses” I use science as a rival only to the extent that atheists turn to it as though it were a rival to religion.


Why interject extraneous matters into the issue of origins when they are not directly concerned with origins? Because they are not extraneous, they are philosophical, this is why the answer to the question of origins has to be on a philosophical level. After all not all of the data for which the argument seeks to account is data from the physical sciences. There is also the data about generative grammar, and the logic of arguments, all the myriad organizing principles that make up the metaphysical hierarchy. What's the point of caring about how the universe works if we don't have in the back of our questions issues of higher magnitude about why we are here and how we should live? Heidegger insisted that the most fundamental question of metaphysical thinking is, “why is there something rather than nothing at all.” Now he says Christians can't answer it because they have a ready made answer. He point of the question is to think, not to apply ready made answers.ii.2

To my mind that truly captures the distinction between philosophy and theology. Philosophy is asking questions which one does not expect an answer, while theology is accepting answers without knowing how they were obtained. Seriously, the insistence upon asking the question points up the fact that we want to ask such questions and real thinkers are not satisfied with ignoring them. Whether we content our selves with answers that speak to us deeply, or use the question to stimulate thought we are not satisfied with ignoring such things. I would venture to assert that most of us want answers to such questions. Scientists continue asserting answers to the ultimate origin they don't just give and stop looking. But science can't really engage the question at the metaphysical level; it can't deal with “why?” As I said before the best they can do is say there is no why. That is not satisfying.

Does belief in God offer an ultimate why? As I said above there are truths in God we are not given to know. Yet I think we can go further to answering these things than the skeptic would have us believe. We can't really know why God created or why God allows conflicts between good and evil. We can know that the answer will be bound up with the nature of being and the love of God. Here I speak from a Christian perspective. Perhaps other traditions would give other answers but I can only speak from my own tradition. From the Christian tradition there is an association between “The Ground of Being,” or “being itself,” (God) and love.

We find this association in the works of Hans Urs Von Balthasar. Von Balthasar was a major Catholic theologian who unfortunatley is not so well know to Protestant theology students. Balthasar is one of the most interesting and brilliant figures of the twentieth century, yet hardly anyone has heard of him outside the confines of academic theology. Even most theological students in the Protestant world are not very familiar with his works. He was a friend of John Paul II, called “the most cultured man of our time by Henri de Lubac. His achievements are called ‘breathtaking’ my one of the major catholic theologians of the century, Carl Rahner. He wrote over a thousand books and articles. He was born in Lucerne Switzerland, 1905, and Grew up a Catholic, son of a pious mother. He took his doctorate from the Liberal Protestant University of Zurich, having grown up educated by Benedictines and Jesuits. He became a Jesuit priest. He worked as a student Chaplin in the 30s. He became good friends with Protestant theologian Karl Barth, one of the greats of the century..3

The common human tendency is to think God created because he needed something. Balthasar is hinting, I think, that God creates because its his nature as being to foment more being, in other words, its creative and God is Creative. It is not for God’s need that he creates but for what will become our need once we are created. In other words, God created us so that we can enjoy being, not because he needed us because once a part of being we would need and would be fulfilled in the need by love.

No Philosophy could give a satisfactory response to that question [why did infinte create finite?] St Paul would say to philosophers that God created man so that he would seek the Divine, try to obtain the Divine. That is why all pre Christian philosophy is theological at its summit. But, in fact, the true response to philosophy could only be given by Being himself, revealing himself from himself. Will man be capable of understanding this revelation? The affirmative response will be given only by the God of the Bible. On the one hand this God, creator of the world and of man, knows his creature. “I who have created the eye do not see? I who have created the ear do not hear?” And we add I who have created language, could not speak and make myself heard?” This posits a counterpart: to be able to hear and understand the auto-revelation of God man must in himself be a search for God, a question posed to him. Thus there is Biblical theology without a religious philosophy. Human reason must be open to the infinite.

Balthasar sees the understanding of the revelation of “being himself” (my phrase based upon his) to humanity as rooted in the most fundamental human relationship. He says, “the infant is brought to consciousness of “himself” only by love, by the smile of his mother. In that encounter the horizon of all unlimited opens unto him.” .5 What he means by that is it is only through being por soir, for itself, in other words, consciousness, that we are able to comprehend the infinite and that only in contrast to the finite. Before we can do that, however, we have to become aware of ourselves so we can know we are finite. I think he’s making an implication that love is a link to being itself, and that through our encounter with love, the mother, we encounter the father, so to speak—by way of encountering love. We can see this in four truths that Balthasar finds rooted in this encounter: (1) realizing that he Is other to the mother, the only way the child realizes he loves the mother; (2) love is good, therefore, being is good; (3) love is true, therefore, being is true; (4) love evokes joy therefore being is beautiful. Notice the link between being and love. He is one of the rare theologians to point out this curial link.

The one, the true, the good, the Beautiful, these are what we call the transcendental attributes of being, because they surpass all the limits of essence, and are coextensive with Being. If there is an insurmountable distance between God and his creature, but if there is also an analogy between them which cannot be resolved in any form of identity, there must also exist an analogy between the transcendentals—between those of the creature and those in God.

Of course though the special revelation in the Bible the Christian tradition has always recognized that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). “Love is poured into our hearts though the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:1 NIV). There is also empirical evidence based upon universal aspects of religious experience that are found in all faiths and all cultures. The same experiences are described but they explained through different traditions. When researchers take the names out the answers are the same compared to those of other faiths and cultures. In other words instead of Jesus or Vishnu they said “higher power.” Th.7 ey experiences described have basically two dimensions: (1) an undifferentiated sense of the unity of all things, and (2) deep abiding universal love. This seems to reflect the two fundamental aspects of reality Undifferentiated unity mirrors being itself, love mirror's God's motivations. These ideas plus the data on experiences suggest ajn answer, a reason for creation. That reason is love. God's purposes are about love. God created humanity as an expression of his love, and to be in a love relationship with us.

Some philosophers, even Christian one's have called God an “ultimate brute fact.” A b.8 rute fact is the existence of something for which there is no purpose. It is something that just happens to be. While it is true that God is not the product of a purpose of a higher will, God can never be a brute fact. God is the final stopping point of all causal chains. God is eternal and has no beginning but this not proof that God has no purpose. God is not something that just happens to be and might as well have not been. God is the ground of being God has to be, and God posses purpose; to foment more being in love. God inaugurates the purpose of God. Just as God is self sustaining God is self purposing. It's not a gratuitous decision but the result of the nature of what it means to be being itself; being and love are linked at a fundamental level. Being gives out to the beings, the ground of being foments more being.9 Love is giving, love is the will to the good of the other. Being is of tye nature that it seeks the good.


1. Thomas Aquinas, Op. Cit.

2. Heidegger, Martin, 1959, Introduction to Metaphysics, Trans. Manheim. New Haven: Yale University Press. –––, 1962, Being and Time, trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson, New York: Harper & Row.
3. Joel Graver, “a Short Biography,” Online resource, Hans Urs Von Balthesar, An Internet Archive, URL: (visited 12/3/10).

4. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, “A Resume of my Thought,” in David L. Schindler, Hans Urs Von Balthasar: His Life and Work. San Francisco:Ignatious Press, 1991, on like version p1-2


6. Ibid.

7. Ralph Hood Jr., “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235.

8. Swinburne calls God ultimate brute fact. He means by that there is no higher purpose than God, not that God has no purpose. Balthasar argues that God's purpose is love and that is self justifying self determining. my phrase, see Balthasar above. op cit.

9. John MacQuarry, Principles of Christian theology, (1965). His concept being let's be. Balthasar makes it more active, being creates beings.

Friday, September 11, 2015

your turn

make comments let me know what you think of my TS arguments. shall I do part 3 of 3?

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Whose Afraid of Citizen Trump?


ABC News Dante Chinni Topics 2016 Election, First Read First Published Sep 6 2015, 10:25 am ET
As businessman Donald Trump has climbed to the top of the Republican primary polls, political junkies have gone scrambling to explain or describe the coalition of people supporting him. But the candidate has offered his own analysis — he says he is giving voice to the long-dormant "silent majority."
I offered my analysis, Trump is rich so exempt from criticism thus he can say all the hateful things his supporters wish they could say, dog whistle: "He speaks his mind." The media has created a band wagon for citizen Trump, they rarely mention the negatives. Thesevare very recent polls: Ibid.
Currently, Mr. Trump sits somewhere between 25 percent and 30 percent in polls measuring support for the GOP nomination. That means even among Republicans, those who don't currently support Mr. Trump far outnumber those who do support him. In head-to-head general election match ups, Mr. Trump does better, garnering somewhere around 40 percent of the vote against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. But that's likely because the Republican alternative for president (which Mr. Trump is assumed to be in those polls) is almost always going to garner 40 percent in the polls....There were a few groups in the poll that gave Mr. Trump higher positive than negative ratings: self-described Republicans (43 percent positive and 34 percent negative) and conservatives (41 percent and 36 percent negative). And a majority of solid "core Republicans" (59 percent) had positive feelings about him. But those groups were clear exceptions....
The Same Souirce The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll form late-July
found that 56 percent of those surveyed overall had negative feelings toward Mr. Trump, while only 26 percent had positive feelings. In fact, across a wide array of demographic segments - men, women, whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, 18- to 34-year-olds, 65-and over, those without a c AP
 Next Story The Presidential Announcement Speech Guide ollege degree and those that have done post-grad work - more than 50 percent of those surveyed had negative feelings about Mr. Trump.

The media has created Trump's band wagon. Two weeks ag they began saying :his numbers are sky rocketing, when they were only up 3%. One week ago they began saying he's becoming "a more suitable candidate" when in reality he wasn't shooting off his mouth as much. Then the numbers went up more. Really the strongest numbers is among Republicans in a couple of primary state. The media has created the band wagon. Yet the desire to climb on a bandwagon has to be there.

Is Trump now a suitable candidate? Why should we think he's changed just because he keeps his mouth shut a bit more? He proves he knows nothing about the situation in the middle east. He says "I will by the time I take office." Do you really think the Presidency will wait for him to catch up? Do you think foreign leaders like those who lead Isis will say, "Ok let's wait for Trump to read the books we suggested before we bring out our next diabolical plan?"

Do we really want to let this guy have access to the nuclear button? w What if he thinks he can call back the missiles? Reagan thought that (came out in the debate with Mondale). His attitude is that if we destroy the world I'm so rich I'll just buy a new one.

None of this matters to people, why? Because they feel desperate. The arch conservatives and right winger's always feel surrounded. Even when they win they think they lost. Out of desperation they idolized Reagan even though he often thought things like we can call the missiles back. Trump makes Reagan look smart.

Maybe Trump is intelligent, but just boorish, either he is stupid or pernicious. He used fear and bigotry to signal to fearful bigots and work up hysteria about foreigners. Either way I don't want a guy like citizen Trump to be in charge of the nucs.

Watch the actual movie Citizen Kaneif you don't get the allusion.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Abductive version TS argument (2 of 3)

Argument from Trancendental Signifiers.

antenna galaxy

Defending the premises of the argument:

(1) Organizing principles are necessary to development of complexity and systems.

With this premise there's an unspoken assumption that organization is crucial to existence. That's reasonable given the all-pervasive nature of organization. We speak of “laws” of physics. Modern science doesn't regard them as laws but as descriptions. Yet what are they describing but law-like regularity? The thing about the hold-over of antiquated language, such as calling descriptions “laws,” their law-like nature is reinforced by the notion that causes necessitate their effects. Premises necessitate their conclusions, generative grammar necessitates the structure of language. In every area where reality coheres to form complexity, systems, and mechanism organization is involved. What is a principle of organizing? When a singular phenomenon forms the basis for development that leads to complexity and systems we can think of that original point as a principle of organizing. An example would be the way Hawking attributed the existence and development of the universe to gravity. Gravity is an organizing principle.1 OP's are not limited just to the workings of the physical world. They also include language and other aspects of rule-making. There are philosophers who dispute that causes always necessitate their effects (Richard Sorobji) but still others who object to this (Armstrong and Davidson). Halper shows that the difficulty is in the way we describe laws rather than an actual lack of causal efficacy. We are willing to call some things causal events that do not necessitate effects..2 He finds that the difference is not one of principle but of how many conditions can be attached to the law. There's a problematic of describing laws and conditions. He sites Davidson who states that laws can be designated even when they can't be specified. “...[T]he difficulty we have in specifying a cause concerns its description rather than the causal event. Causal events do ...[Davidson] thinks, necessitate their effects; and events are governed by causal laws.”3go further into this line in the next chapter. For now suffice to say it is reasonable to assume that causes necessitate their effects.

If causes necessitate their effects, and if those effects involve the result of greater complexity, and if that is crucial to the development of the universe, then the original cause can be thought of as an organizing principle. This would seem to reflect what science tells us about evolution and the origin of the universe. The universe emerges from expansion from a single point, of gravitational field expands and sub atomic particles form atoms, atoms form molecules, molecules form elements and so on. All of this is driven by the engine of gravity. Of course the debate about God revolves around the issue of what makes gravity and what initiated the expansion (see FN 16)..The argument narrows down the number OP's to one original first OP at the top of the metaphysical hierarchy.

(2) understanding of organization is necessary for explanatory power If causes lead to greater complexity as a result of their effects, and that certainly seems essential, given what was said so far, then it seems that without an understanding of organization we would have no real explanatory power.

This seems self evident.To posses explanatory power an hypothesis must be able to account for the relationships leading to complexity. It's probably not possible to account for all such relationships but the more that an hypothesis can illuminate the more parsimonious it would seem. This aspect, the all pervasive nature of OP's, fits the criteria in the sense of being a complete explanation. But we must wait to see how the explanation of the TS fits this point.

(3) Organizing principles are all-pervasive

In every aspect of organized activity there is a principle of organizing; principle of organizing usually leads from simple to complex. This is found in all causal phenomena, in science, in language, in math. The complexity is hierarchical, it can be understood to proceed from single principle, as with gravity, with evolutionary development, generative grammar, in argumenation and logic.

Of course each of these areas is extremely complex. For example there are competing theories of generative grammar. That does not change the fact that in each area a basic hierarchical principal organizes complexity. Gravity is one aspect of physical “law” that leads to ever increasing complex development and makes a universe. Evolutionary development, part of the outgrowth in complexity for the single principle of attraction to the center of mass. Generative grammar is a theory of language that views grammar as a system made up of rules that generate words forming grammatical sentences..4iv In argument and logic premises warrant conclusions. That is hierarchical because it places the premise “above” the conclusion in being its necessity.

(4) no property of physicality is known or theoretically plausible to explain either the necessity or all pervasive nature of these transcendental aspects.

This point will be hotly contested. Some schools, such as the physical realists try to explain organizing through properties in the phenomena..5 For example, gravity forms the basis for a complete explanatory system. The property of attraction builds complexity as natural accumulation. Certain molecular structures are formed that create elements and because of their nature elements create further complexity..6 But that doesn't account for the attraction of gravity in the first place. Most people don't realize that Newton explained gravitational attraction (“action at a distance”) as the work of God's mind..7 Newton explained action at a distance by saying that the world was the “sensorium of God.” In other words, the world is in God's mind and he's using it to feel and know. Newton Wrote [God]... "is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures forever, and is everywhere present; and by existing always and everywhere, he constitutes duration and space.... He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure.".8 We might well ask how God could be everywhere yet not be solid and be void of body? How could he constitute space and not have a body? Wouldn't the world be his body, or part of it? Newton doesn't spell it out but that is possible if the world is a thought in a mind (God being the mind). This point is extraneous to the argument. The point is that, first, Newton proposed God as best explanation for action at a distance. Secondly, in so doing he offers a single simple concept as the lynch pin of a whole system.

The force of attraction, Newton continued, is mutual between bodies. It is a function of the masses of the two bodies and the square of the distances between them. From this, Newton was able to derive the elliptical orbits of the planets and Kepler's law of their motion from observations. He generalized his results to the orbit of the earth's moon and those of Jupiter and Saturn. He also applied his results about mutual attraction to explain the tides in terms of the attraction of the sea by the sun and moon. The end product was a comprehensive "system of the world," based on a single explanatory principle—a monumental achievement..9

Mattey calls it an “explanatory principle” I call it an “organizing principle.” An organizing principle (gravity) pinned upon a transcendental signifier (G-o-d).

Newton's specific ideas are no longer taken seriously as a system of overarching explanations of the cosmos. No one thinks that God has to wind up the cosmos by use of comets. Yet Newton's methods are still the basis of modern physics and science still doesn't understand gravity completely. We understand the basic physical workings. We know that gravity is accounted for by special relativity.

Albert Einstein explained how gravity is more than just a force: it is a curvature in the space-time continuum. That sounds like something straight out of science fiction, but simply put, the mass of an object causes the space around it to essentially bend and curve. This is often portrayed as a heavy ball sitting on a rubber sheet, and other smaller balls fall in towards the heavier object because the rubber sheet is warped from the heavy ball’s weight. In reality, we can’t see curvature of space directly, but we can detect it in the motions of objects. Any object ‘caught’ in another celestial body’s gravity is affected because the space it is moving through is curved toward that object.

While the theory of special relativity is consistent with all findings and no study contradicts it, that is not the same as proof that it does explain gravity. It is a large body of mathematical and empirical observation that is consistent with the theory. That is saying a great deal, but it is not saying enough to rule out God. That is not proof that the law of gravity could create itself. Science is not about fact making but hypothesis destroying. According to Popper science does not prove truth it offers verisimilitude by testing hypotheses. The Last hypothesis standing is assumed to be right..12 There are inconsistencies, not in special relativity, but in the assertions of what the theory means in terms of belief in God. Despite the wealth of knowledge that science provides us a complete understanding of gravity still eludes us. The warping of space-time creates the attraction of gravity this is illustrated by example's such as balls on a sheet that is stretched out and the weight of the balls warps space as the balls weigh indentations in the sheet. Those indentations create the attraction of a smaller body into the groove caused by the larger one. But that's a metaphor. It is based upon the assumption of gravity already working to illustrate the point. The fact is we really don't know.

In a deep way, we actually don't know why there are gravitational fields in the universe and how matter and energy generate them. It seems to be just a part of the way the universe and the physical world exist. There are many of these kind of ultimate questions that have no answers at least right now. All we can do is describe how the forces act, and their relationships to one another. That's quite a lot to do just by itself!
13 “So, what is gravity and where does it come from? To be honest, we’re not entirely sure.”14

What is gravity? We don't really know. We can define what it is as a field of influence, because we know how it operates in the universe. And some scientists think that it is made up of particles called gravitons which travel at the speed of light. However, if we are to be honest, we do not know what gravity "is" in any fundamental way - we only know how it behaves.15

We do know that gravity is a force of attraction between two objects of mass. We know it is connected to warping of space-time. But as the source above says we don't have a fundamental explanation. Newton's ideas of action at a distance, the modern version of a thought in the mind of God comes closer to offering a fundamental explanation. That's the point of the criterion for philosophical and transcendental answer. It offers a more fundamental answer. The physical description that gravity is connected to warped space-time but that is not the best explanation. The best explanation will tell us the why and will deal with reality as a whole.

(5) Therefore, no one organizing principle explains the whole as does TS

Hawking says gravity created the universe out of nothing (see above, fn16). Yet this is inadequate as I have just shown. I will have more to say about that in subsequent chapters. It's the atheists burden of proof to show a competing hypothesis because gravity is the best candidate they have for explaining reality without God. I will offer others. Higgs Bozon, mathematics, evolution, They will all come back to gravity eventually. Higgs might be offered as an explanation for gravity, but more latter. Another candidate is the multiverse, M theory.

(6) Given the all pervasive and necessary nature of the TS, the fact of a real TSEd best explains the situation.(in chapter one I establish the link from Tsed to God).


1 Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, New York: Bantum Books, 2010, 180.

see also chapter six, 121-147.

2 Edward C. Halper, Form and Metapysics: Essays in Metapysics. New York: SUNY Press, 1993, 156.

Edward C. Halper:  Distinguished Research Professor and Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, (Ph.D. University of Toronto) is interested in the classical problems of metaphysics.

4 Ibid.

3“what is Linguistics?” Online source by Princeton University, URL: accessed 8/11/15. no author listed.

Alan Chalmers, “Making sense of laws of physics,” Causation and Laws Of Nature, Dordrecht, Netherlands : Kluwer Academic Publishers, (Howard Sankey, ed.), 1999, 3-4.
also see preface xii-xiii.
6 G. J. Mattey, Philosophy 22 Lecture notes, UC Davis, 1995-2001, online resource URL: accessed 8/17/15.

Mattey says this of newton's view of gravity. The same general sense also fits Hawking's view of gravity as the basic explanatory principle of the universe, Hawking, grand design, op.cit.

7 Alexander Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968, originally 1957, 235-275.

8 Issac Newton, quoted in, Gideon Freudenthal, Atom And Individual in the Age of Newton: on the Genisis of the Mechinistic World View, Frankfurt am Main: D. Reidel Publishing Company, Translated from the German by Peter MacLaughlin, Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science Vol. 88, 1986.

9 Mattey, op. cit.

10 Sten Odenwald, “Gravity Basics,” Astronomy Cafe, Online resource, URL accessed 8/17/15.

11 Nancy Atkinson, “Where does gravity come from? Universe Today, Dec 5, resouirce, URL accessed 8/18/15.

Universe Today is an educational non profit that seeks to build education about space and interest in space exploration among the “lay People.” Nancy Atkinson is a science writing jouirnalist.

12 Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London, New York:Routledge Classics, original English publication 1959 by Hutchison and co. by Routldege 1992. On line copy URL: digital copy

13 Sten Odenwald, “why do bodies produce gravitational fields?” Astronomy Cafe,op,cit. accessed 8/17/15

14 Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today, op.cit.

15 Laura A. Whitlock and Starchild Team. The StarChild site is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/ GSFC.

Online resource URL: 8/18/15.
Star child is NASA public relations, they have access to all the scholarly sources they need.StarChild Authors: The StarChild Team StarChild Graphics & Music: Acknowledgments
StarChild Project Leader: Dr. Laura A. Whitlock
Curator: J.D. Myers
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman

I know It sounds absurdly new age but it is NASA.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Review of Murder mystery: Bollywood Storm

Review of Bollywood Storm, by N.K. Johel

I don't read mu8rder mysteries as a rule but this one was good.

Bollywood Storm is a murder mystery, not my favorite genre. Yet I enjoyed reading this one. This is the first of a two book set. There are prior mysteries and a possible murder to be solved before the main event. The main case is about a famous Bollywood director who was in Robust health but died in his sleep. The central figure, detective Elanna Forsythe George has a bit more to go on than just that.

George is actually a very interesting detective. She only takes long cold cases. That's not so interesting, I'm sure all murder mystery detectives are given challenges. George is a private detective, that makes her meddeling a bit more plausible. At least she doesn't have to put up with stupid questions like “why is a priest invested a murder?” or, “why is an old woman concerned about about a murder? But that's not so interesting, Perry Mason and inspecter Lewis and lots of others have good excuses to investigate. George is also an academic and has a career as a professor. That's not so interesting (although it endears me to her). The interesting thing about Elanna Forsythe George is that she breaks the mold of the rational dispassionate detective calmly adding up the clues, but George actually becomes the murderer, the victim, and others. Becoming the victim was a like spiritism or pneumatic possession. She is seemingly possessed by the spirit of the victim, with surprising results. This as far as I know like no other mystery story detective. I'm sure that Jhoel is making a point about the value of subjectivity in knowledge.

The book is chock full of tropes and symbols, and overt images and incidents pertaining to India, its culture, and Bollywood movies. Some of these are explained, but they don't get in the way. The clues are laid out well and well thought out. They seem natural to the story. Jhoel's writing style is engaging. The book flows well. It's enjoying to read. The book is interesting and fun to read.