Saturday, March 31, 2018

Resurrection: "Historical?" or "History Making?"

Image result for theologian Jurgen Moltmann
Jurgen Moltman (at 91)

I always forget to do Resurrection article for Easter, so this year I got the Jump on it, Almost.

I affirm the literal resurrection of Christ, as I affirm the Nicene creed. Unfortunately, affirming it and proving it are two different things. Many apologists try to use the Resurrection as proof in itself that Jesus was the Son of God. The problem is, the event itself has to be proven, and is of equal dispute to the claims of Christ's deity. Thus, I doubt that it makes a great tool for verifying the claims of the faith, since it is itself such a claim. On the other hand, let us ask ourselves, "was the true purpose of the resurrection as a proof of Jesus validity?" I think not. I think the true purpose was not to offer modern scientific "courtroom evidence" of the event, but to confirm in a religious way, for insiders, by provision of an important symbol. Tillich says that a symbol participates in the thing it symbolizes. Thus a bull fighter dying young is a symbol of darning courage going awry, but an abstract figure like the American flag is not a symbol but an embalm. Thus the resurrection of Christ can be a theological symbol and still be a real event! Thus the true importance of the event is its theological significance and not its market place value as an apologetic tool. 

Some have argued, that a view like that of the resurrection of Christ can't be understood as a historical event, thus can't be proved by historical evidence because history is intrinsically naturalistic. Historians must make naturalistic assumptions thus miracle can't play role in history. The first thing to notice about this argument is that far from contradicting what I've said, it supports my position in that I argue that atheist's only have ideological objections to the resurrection. There's no historically based disproof. If untrained non-historian apologists mistakenly argue "this is historical" the atheists objections are not based upon disproving the historically based evidence they are only based upon ideological assumptions. Evoking the rules of history is also ideological assumption.

Secondly, I don't say "O I'm going to prove the resurrection historically." In the heat of argument I may have said words to that effect, but my actual position is not "yes we definitely prove the resurrection." There is no way to prove something that happened 2000 years ago, at least not to the point of making it indubitable. The only way to do that would be to go back in time and watch it happen. It's as unfair a requirement that it be "historical" as it is to say we are going to prove it historically. Either way is an unfair requirement because it's not something that can be proved. The prohibition on supernatural evidence in history not withstanding it's unrealistic, and therefore, unfair, to expect it to be proved. Be that as it may all is not lost for the historically minded apologist. There is still a good argument to be made for the resurrection and it involves historically-based evidence.

The better decision-making paradigm is not "proof," that is unrealistic, but "warrant." If we don't claim we proving historical events but rather that understanding an event in a certain way (as true) is warranted by the evidence, then we are not imposing the unrealistic burden of proof nor are we evoking the category of "history" to explain it thus we are not transgressing historical protocols. Rather we are finding that the placing of confidence in a hypothesis for private belief is warranted by the evidence. Toward this end we need to see text as an artifact. So rather than say "this is true because so and so says it,"we are saying "this is what the early community of faith believed as evidence by their texts. To the extent that we can trust their testimony we can place confidence in the hypothesis that this belief may communicate a truth. Thus private belief that this is the case is warranted. Thus the resurrection, not put in the category of "historical fact" is nevertheless understood as both a religious symbol and a likely event.

Religious Symbol and Historical Likelihood.

Be that as it may, the event of Christ's resurrection offers more to the unbeliever and the cause of Christian apologetics than one might think given what I wrote. Rather than give up on it as an argument, we need to put it into a different context: we need to abandon the "court room" model of proof in apologetics, and take up a historian's perspective. The point is not that we can prove the resurrection "really happened." The importance of historical evidence surrounding resurrection is its possibility as a history making event. By that I mean, it's not as important to prove "conclusively" that it happened, as it is to show that the perimeters shaped by the evidence still leave open the validity of the possibility that such an event occurred, once one clears away the ideological clutter of naturalism. The evidence need only point to the fact that the belief tenet is still "in the running" as a possibility, not that it actually happened, although we believe, as Christians, that it did happen. The event described cannot included as a historical event, because history as a modern social science is constructed upon naturalistic assumptions; but it can be understood as a history making event, one that shaped the nature of our society and culture.

Away with the Court Room Model

So much past apologetics has been based upon the model of a court room debate, then declared to "prove history." We see this most especially in McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict (the classic case). We also see it in the works of a vast array of apologists who say things like, "the man who invented rules for court room evidence Simon Greenleaf (1783-1953 ) [1] argued for the Resurrection, and he was a smart lawyer, so he must be right." But historians do not "prove" historical 'arguments' by holding courtroom debates! If we are going to make historical claims for the resurrection, we have to think like historians, and not like lawyers. We have to hold the evidence to the perimeters of historical evidence, not to those of jurisprudence.

History is probability. It's not mathematical probably, but it is probabilistic. One cannot go back in time and verify the assumptions of historians, all we can do is argue from extrapolated data as to the most likely conclusion based upon the "facts." But how are these "facts" ascertained? They are not derived from debate, they are not derived from physical artifacts, and they are certainly not given in any kind of absolute certainty. Many skeptics place the level of confirmation they seek on a par with a TV camera recording an event it happens. History is documents! History is not a documentary featuring live footage, although such material is no doubt going to be included in future historical records. But history is the impression we find most likely as a probabilistic guess based upon the data we find available in written documents of the past. Historians do debate documents, but they do not say things like, "would this be accepted in a courts of law?" Historians don't a flying spit wad about what is accepted in a court of law (but one hears that phrase in apologetics quite a bit). Thus, in accessing the prospects for the validity of the resurrection, one cannot worry about courtrooms, or about exact proof as though we could take a TV camera to the tomb and watch the angel move the stone. The best we can ever do is to access the possibility and its place int he likelihood of events, given our world view assumptions vis a vie, supernatural events.

The History Making Concept.

In his great ground breaking work, Theology of Hope [2] Jurgen Moltmann did something radical. It suited Moltmann to be radical because he was one of the major influences upon radical theology of the 60s, including liberation theology. Being German Moltmann took the structures of historical scholarship very seriously. He knew that historiography of the nineteenth century had ruled out any but naturalistic assumptions in the category of "historical." Moltmann argues, the rules of history exclude the miraculous. This is because historians, as heirs to the enlightenment, automatically exclude the supernatural. For this reason the resurrection cannot be seen as historical, a priori, for the rules of making history are set by an ideology of metaphysical assumptions which dogmatically exclude anything miraculous. History must be predicated upon the assumption of a coherent natural world, therefore, the supernatural cannot be part of history (176). Yet he felt it was important to make a place for the resurrection in modern thought. So he argued for changing the rules. Rather than calling the resurrection "historical" he calls it "history making." The belief itself has shaped the outline of historical event. This is apart from the question of its truth content, the fact of belief in it made history what it is. This introduces the concept of understanding the belief as history making thus the evidence that supports the belief is also history making. His solution: change the rules. We wont call it "historical" but "history making."
"The resurrection of Christ does not mean a possibility within the world and its history, but a new possibility altogether for the world, for existence, and for history. Only when the world can be understood as contingent creation out of the freedom of God...does the rising of Christ become intelligible as nova create [new creation]. is necessary to expose the profound irrationality of the rational cosmos of the tech scientific world." (179)

"The resurrection of Christ is without prattle in the history known to us. But it can be for that very reason regarded as a 'history making event' in the light of which all other history is illumined, called into question and transformed." (180)

Skeptics are too quick to argue that the resurrection is not historical fact. Before they jump into this fray, they should first ask themselves about the nature of historical facts. Most historical "facts" are not proven. "History" (whatever that is) says that Davy Crockett died at the Alamo, yet evidence indicates he did not.* History, like science is a social construct, and is determined by those with the clout to write history. In modernity we have gained an anti-supernatural bias, and so the believer is forced to ask rhetorical questions like "did Jesus raise form the dead?" and then to answer them rhetorically. The German Theologian Jurgen Moltmann changes the rules. Rather than ask if the resurrection is "historical" he merely argues that it doesn't have to be, it is history making. We change the rules of the debate because predicated upon the preaching of the resurrection is one of the most profound developments of world history; the growth of the Christian faith which has shaped the entire Western tradition. We view the Resurrection of Christ as history making because the belief in it did change history, the doctrine of it has made history, and belief today shapes the basis of all Christian doctrine. We put aside the hypocritical skepticism of naturalistic circular arguments and allow ourselves to accept the verdict of a history that has been made by faith in the event, in light of the fact that there is enough there to base faith upon. (see Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God,

The doctrine furnishes the basis for hope, when grasped in faith, that offers a much more profound answer to any of questions about life and death than any form of skepticism or pride in confusion ever could. Rather than merely declare a rules change, I will argue that this rules change is warranted based upon the evidence. In other words, not that the resurrection can be "proven" in the same sense that any other aspect of historical research can be proven, but that the resurrection evidence is credible enough that one can feel confident in asserting its truth as a tenet of faith. The actual case can never be proven, or disproved, but the evidence allows one to believe with impunity.

Historical Verdict Reversed

William Lane Craig sums up liberal theological support for the resurrection:
The real case for skepticism of the resurrection of Christ was actually developed by 19th century liberal theology, and though they don't know it, the objections of most Internet skeptics today are echoes of those arguments. But in the postwar era even major liberal theologians began to defend the resurrection. Ernst Kasemann, student of Bultmann, at Marburg in 1953 argued that Bultmann's skepticism toward the historical Jesus was biased and Kasemann re-opened a new Quest for the historical Jesus. The great modern liberal theologian Wolfheart Paennberg argued for the resurrection of Jesus. Hans Grass argued that the resurrection cannot be dismissed as mere myth, and Hans Freiherr von Campenhausen defended the historical credibility of Jesus empty tomb...Equally startling is the declaration of one of the world's leading Jewish theologians Pinchas Lapid, that he is convinced on the basis of the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead. Lapide twits New Testament critics like Bultmann and Marxsen for their unjustified skepticism and concludes that he believes on the basis of the evidence that the God of Israel raised Jesus from the dead...According to Jakob Kremer, "By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb" and he furnishes a list, to which his own name may be added, of twenty-eight prominent scholars in support. I can think of at least sixteen more names that he failed to mention. Thus, it is today widely recognized that the empty tomb of Jesus is a simple historical fact. As D. H. van Daalen has pointed out, "It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds; those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions." But assumptions may simply have to be changed in light of historical facts.:"[4]

Before the apologist can even posit the truth of the resurrection, his truth is refuted by the very nature of historical "facts" as modern thought construes them; supernatural events cannot be part of history. But Moltmann turns this around on the nature of modern thought by arguing that before modern thought can posit a naturalistic history, the content of history is already shaped by supernatural claims.
In response to the issue that history must make naturalistic assumptions, thus miracles must be excluded.Yes but that's just a simple matter of you not understanding my argument. I"m not saying "this is true because they say it is." I'm saying:

(1) Gospels are historical artifact that ques us in to a historically validated set of readigns that can be understood as even older artifacts.

(2) these artifacts testify to the early nature of the empty tomb as a belief of the community.

(3) community contained eye witnesses. so this fact would have been screened out if it as false.

(4) It was spread about from an early time thus we can infer form it that the eye witnesses to the situation approved.

(5)not proof but it is a good reason to assume it's valid as a belief.It has historical verisimilitude.

The standard I set my arguments:The Resurrection was a history making event. Whatever truly happened, the actual events which are make by the claims of witnesses and faith in the veracity of those witnesses, the upshot of it all is that the historical probabilities suggest the likelihood of an event, and that event shaped the nature of history itself. The faith claims cannot be historical claims, but they don't have to be. The faith itself is justified, it cannot be ruled out by history, but instead lies at the base of modern history in some form. We can suggest throughout the strength of the evidence that those actual events were the very events attested to in the Gospels. We cannot prove this claim with absolute certainty, but the warrant provided by the evidence itself is strong enough to make the historical nature of the religious hope valid. Some religious hopes are just ruled out by the facts. For example, the idea that the Native Americans are part of the 10 lost tribes of Israel; this can be dispelled by genetics as well as dentistry. The Resurrection, on the other hand, can be accepted as likely Given the suspension of ideological objections of Naturalism.

The history making aspects work as an apologetic tool without arguing for historical proof. The fact that the doctrine made history indicates that the faith is transforming.

*Crockett died at the Alamo the evidence clearly indicates that (I would have to assert it anyway,I am rom Texas). The point is it's not something we can prove. We call it "fact" but it's only assumption based upomn perponderence of the evidence.


[1] Simon Greenleaf , "Testimony of the Evangelists," Trial of Jesus homepage, edit Douglas Linder, o date given.
(accessed 3/31/18)

[2] Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope:On The Ground and Implications of Christian Eschatology.
New York: Harper Collins publishers 1965
on amazon
(accessed 3/31/18)

[3] Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God:The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. Mineapolis Mn: Fortress Press,, trans. R.A. Wilson, Fortress Press edition1993. Originally shipbuilder 1968.

[4] William Lane Craig.  "Contemporary Scholarship and The Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ," Truth,A Journal of Modern Thought 1 (1985): 89-95.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Easter Faith and Progress in History

Image result for Arnold J. Toynbee

Toynbee, looked kind of like FDR

I wrote this little essay in 2010, see last paragraph for historical dating,

Arnold J. Toynbee, the major force in History of Ideas, wrote an essay on Jesus Christ and history in which he argued that Christianity was responsible for the idea of progress in history.[1] Pagan mythology had the eternal return. The eternal return mirrored the cycles of the four seasons and featured the gods always doing the same things over and over in cycles. We see Baldar killed by Loki stays dead half the year and this marks the coming of winter. The old style of pagan myth explication which understood myth as explanations for nature (pre Joseph Campbell) understood this explanation of the cycles of winter and spring. There is a Greek cycle too with Prosepheny (daughter of Demeiter) eating the seeds and having to stay in the under world half the years. Both of these clearly mirror the seasons. In fact Procephanie's mother was Demeiter, her Roman name was Series). She was the goddess of wheat and the harvest. So this is all tied in with the spring/winter cycles.

The Joseph Campbell way of looking at myth (circa 1940s) brought in with it the understanding that myth is the circular telling of stories that relate to one's journey in life (see The Hero With a Thousand Faces).[2] It's the journey of the hero. The hero goes out into he world and searches for something and does heroic deeds, then comes back home and settles down and goes about the business of re creating the warrior so the the cycle can be repeated again. In the older school of interpretation (I think of it as connected to Bullfinch) the point is to explain the cycles. In Campbell's method it's not an explanation but a road map or a guide for the individual to understand his/her own growth in life as an individual.
In either case the point is the recurrence of the cycle. In the method where the individual is being guided in life it's the recurrence of the same things for each new generation. In the case of the older method its the repetition of seasons, but in either case the world does the same things over and over again and history is going nowhere.

The concept of re creating the worrier implies a commitment to a fix set of life experiences, although the experiences themselves may be very different, the pattern is fixed. Not only so but they are committed to a fixed pattern as an ideal they believed in, since the warrior understood that his job as a warrior was to reproduce himself. Toynbee points out that with Jesus we have a breaking of the cycle. Jesus atonement is once and for all, it is not a repetitive thing. In Pauline theology the atonement puts an end to the repetition. It ends the cycle of yearly sacrifice in the temple where the scape goat was sacrificed for the sins of the people. Though foretold by the prophet of old, the hope of the resurrection guaranteeing the end to cycle, since no new sacrifices will be needed becuase the resurrection changes the rules. The sacrifice gets up and lives again, and those who recon themselves dead in the death of the sacrifice also share in the hope of a future provided by the new life of the risen savior (Romans 6).

This is true eschatology disruption. Eschatology doesn't just mean end times scenarios it means it means "the last things." Death and resurrection, death and after life, going to heaven these are actually as much a part of formal eschatology as are the anti-Christ and the rapture. So this new eschatology gives the individual believer a share in the future and the hope the resurrection life of Christ, where as the old goat sacrifice only gave the tribe collectively a pardon for one year until the cycle repeated again. The Hebrews had their own mythological eternal return, and the sacrificial system and the temple system reiterated it. The tribe moved toward the promised land, and their journeying was doubled due to their own sins. They could have continued to journey forever, repeating the pattern always. But the disruption of eschatology was built into the system with the concept of arriving the promised land. Then the journey become temporal not spatial. But it is still goal oriented. The temporal aspect is the land days, the end times, the teolos of history, and the goal is the coming of the Messiah. Now they journey is done through time not through he desert. Each believer has his own end goal of the journey. These observations are the work of Jurgen Moltmann in his Theology of Hope.[3]

The pattern makes the individual more important than the tribe. As Jeremiah said in chapter 31 of his book "No longer will a man say to his neighbor 'knew the Lord' for you shall all know me, from the least to the greatest." The New covenant would be written on the heart of the individual, so that changes things from a collective relationship with the tribe as a whole to each and every believer on a one on one basis with God. This means a disrupting of the pattern. Something new can happen. The salvation of the individual is based upon the end of the cycle and the beginning of a new once and for all order, so history can proceed into the future and find new patterns. The old mythological way was about building the tribe. Individuals were not important in themselves, they were members of the tribe, and functioned as building blocks that made the tribe. That's why the same pattern had to be repeated year after year, the tribe must continue at the expense of the individual. The new child must become his father, or the girl her mother, because the tribe had to go on as it was. But the way of Christ was the individual with God and the chruch rather than the tribe, which is a collection of the individuals not a tribe to sacrifice the individual for its own good.

Alfred North Whitehead said that Christianity contributed to the development of modern science because it gave us the notion that God created the world as a reasonable system that worked by rules, and gave us minds which mirror divine reason and thus we can study the rules of nature and understand them as an ordered system. Since Whitehead said this historians have found many ways in which Christianity developed modern science,or at least contributed in a positive way to it's development. This was especially so in the English enlightenment.[4] See Margaret Jacob The Newtonian's [5] for a sense of how the latitudinarians (English churchmen and minsters) spread Newtonian physics as a political balm at a time when Newton was unknown and ignored. The notion of progress in history was a major aspect of enlightenment thinking and it started in the English influence upon French thought which came largely from the latitudinarians and their group. The idea of this disruption of the cycles of eternal return made the concept of progress in history possible.

In the Post Modern era the notion of progression history has been eschewed.  It is certainly the case that progress was taken for granted by moderns as any change especially scientifically backed change. So global warming is the fruit of what was once thought of as "progress in history." Progress in history was identified by moderns as a secular goal. Certainly fundamentalist see it as the antithesis to the end times which is the teleology of their historical goal. But I see a dialectic. We have ruined the planet with false pretense of "progress" which really meant wealth and power for the elites of secular society, but there is also a green movement, if it's not too little too late, and greater attention to human rights, racism has been identified as total evil, for the firs time in human history women are at least on the radar as candidates for a level playing field (we have a female speaker of the house, a female made a made a major attempt at winning the nomination of the democratic party and lost to the guy who became the first black President). I think we can see notions of progress in all areas our society would think of as humanistic in a positive sense and progressive. I can show that Christian values stand behind each one of these ideas. Christians stocked the civil rights movement and ran it, and they were very major force in the woman's suffrage movement that led to the feminist movement a century latter.

6 comments: The Original comment section, I wish I had followed up on soeof these they had potential.

Loren said...
Metacrock, that's nonsense. The idea of progress is a modern idea, a side effect of being hit on the head with glaring examples of it.

Belief in a Good Old Days has been VERY common over humanity's history, and there have been plenty of Christian versions, like various idealizations of the early church.

As to the Latitudinarians, they were considered deplorably lax by the more orthodox sort of Christian. Talk about terrible taste in heroes.
Metacrock said...
That's about as complex and insightful a take on progress in history as Moe Howard considering architecture. It's clear you've spent maybe 30 seconds thinking about it.

I studied history of ideas, post modernism and that's the sort we studied. That's the sort of questions postmodernists like to talk about.

So I did Ph.d. work on progress in history you thought about it for about 30 seconds.

I also did Ph.D. work on the Latitudinarians. you know absolutely nothing about them. I write a dissertation on them. they were not considered lax and you now zero, nada, zip about them!
Metacrock said...
here's a little thumb nail summary I did for the blog on my late great
ill fated dissertation.
Anonymous said...

the idea of "progress" as moving forward and "improving" with time is VERY (Judeo-)Christian. In fact, this is an important contribution of Christianity to modernity. There is good historical work to this, if you would bother to read it. And please, please, to read it and learn a little bit about history before making such remarks.
Metacrock said...
the idea of "progress" as moving forward and "improving" with time is VERY (Judeo-)Christian. In fact, this is an important contribution of Christianity to modernity. There is good historical work to this, if you would bother to read it. And please, please, to read it and learn a little bit about history before making such remarks.

God bless you my son!
Jeremy said...
I would say there is a difference in Christian view of progress and the enlightenment idea of "unlimited progress". The enlightenment thought they could shape their reality and future through reason/education. That thought has resulted in the many failed utopias of the last 300 years, culminating in the disastrous 20th century.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mind and Physicalism

Image result for Metacrock's blog

Physicalism is the ideology taking the place of naturalism,materialism, and other such assumptions. It is a metaphysical assumption but skeptics and atheists are treating it like the gospel.In this blog piece I will examine a couple of arguments I make about the contradictory nature of physicalism. I will point to some of the most accepted arguments against it but I will focus upon my own ideas. This is mainly because I have not yet read the books I'm going to suggest you read.

Daniel Stoljar,  defines physicalism:

Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on the physical. The thesis is usually intended as a metaphysical thesis, parallel to the thesis attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Thales, that everything is water, or the idealism of the 18th Century philosopher Berkeley, that everything is mental. The general idea is that the nature of the actual world (i.e. the universe and everything in it) conforms to a certain condition, the condition of being physical. Of course, physicalists don't deny that the world might contain many items that at first glance don't seem physical — items of a biological, or psychological, or moral, or social nature. But they insist nevertheless that at the end of the day such items are either physical or supervene on the physical.[1]

Professor Eric Sotnak says: "I'm open to the possibility that non-physical realities of some sort might exist. But physicalism has been really successful as a methodological assumption in the sciences."[2] True, bit we be careful not to confuse the methodology with the underlying metaphysical assumptions. Most of what science has achieved in modernity was not achieved by people who assumed that "everything is phyiscal." Many of those discoveries were made by people like Newton, Boyle, Priestly, Maxwell, Faraday, who assumed that God is pure spirit and the basis upon which all physical reality exists. 

People assume the metaphysical assumption is part of the whole, thus part of the success of science. But really what else could science do? Science is only capable of dealing with empirical data, it can only find physical things. It can't deal with anything else so saying that the assumption of physicalism shares in the success of science is like saying we can safely rule out the existence of on non-metallic objects underground because metal detectors are so successful at finding metal objects.

When we examine the concept of saying that reality is limited to just physical things we find confusion and contradiction. Take the definition of physical,. What does it mean to say a thing is physical? Let's consult Websters:

Definition of physical
: of or relating to natural scienceb (1) : of or relating to physics (2) : characterized or produced by the forces and operations of physics2a : having material existence : perceptible especially through the senses and subject to the laws of nature
everything physical is measurable by weight, motion, and resistance —Thomas De Quincey: of or relating to material things3a : of or relating to the body 
physical abuseb (1) : concerned or preoccupied with the body and its needs : carnal physical appetites(2) : sexual a physical love affairphysical attractionc : characterized by especially rugged and forceful physical activity : rough [3]

We can rule out b because it doesn't apply. Much in "a" is recursive. For example "of or relating to natural science b (1) : of or relating to physics " The physical is what we study in physics, and physics is abouit the physical. Very helpful. The most sensible thing we take from this definition is the line "having material existence. " Now we may be getting some place but there is a problem with material existence. We can't really say what it is. For example the dictionary expands upon material existence by saying "perceptible especially through the senses and subject to the laws of nature." Sub atomic particles are not perceptible through the senses and they don't seem to be subject to the laws of nature since they pop in and out of existence. Moreover if I could see a spirit and it obeyed certain natural laws would that make it material even though it would be a spirit?

Just as the term physical is ambiguous and can be tautological so the same can be said for the term "exists." mathematics, we can meaningfully say that the complex numbers exist, but their properties are not physical properties. Thus, the statement "to exist is to have physical properties" is certainly not true in a mathematical context.Let us then refine the statement to read as follows: "to physically exist is to have physical properties." If we define physical properties to mean the properties of entities that physically exist, then the statement appears to be a tautology, and there is no sense in which it is not true.However, whether or not something physically exists or has certain physical properties depends on the context. For example, we can meaningfully say that intrinsic angular momentum of the electron (i.e., its spin) is a physical property of an electron in the context of quantum field theory. But no such property is But no such property is well-defined in the context of classical mechanics. [4]

It seems that if we examine the nature of these cases we almost have to invent a special category for non material existence. Complex numbers are one example, subatomic particles are another, Virtual particles don't have a real existence, the are not concrete or tangible and seem to "exist: only in so far as the perimeters of quantum theory makes them plausible.[5][6] It's not enough to criticize concepts of the physical. physicalists couch their support for the doctrine in terms of a default status,since as they allege they can't find a good reason to accept non physical existence, "Physicalism is a view generally adopted by default. Few people go through the arguments for and against the view. As it turns out, the arguments in favor of physicalism are not very persuasive."[7] As Sotnak puts it, "Show me compelling evidence for non-physical realities and give me a compelling account of how they should be integrated into the rest of science and I'm willing to listen.."[8]

I find the arguments that mind is not reducible to brain to be compelling enough to suspect that there might be some form of non physical reality. I have traced those arguments at length in a two part series posted last week on this blog. [9] I wont go over all of that again sine it was posted so recently, That in itself is a good reason but there is more to it than that. The physicalists are dealing with mind in the from of "mental states," at least Sotnak is at any rate: "So to return to the original claim of your two posts (that there can be brainless minds): I have yet to see any compelling reasons for me to think that there are any mental states that have no physical basis at all."[Ibid]. 

I do not argue that our own mental states have no physical basis at all. I have no problem handling the supervenience of mind upon the physical even granting my religions faith because supervenience is not synonymous with reduction of mind to brain. I don't know of anyone else who argues that human mental states have no psychical basis at all. The problem is we are not merely dealing with our own mental states. At the back of his topic,indeed what set off the discussion in the first place,is the notion of God as the basis of mind. God is not just possessed of mental states, but is the basis of mind itself. Of course as creator of all Go transcends any laws of nature.

The position  that God is the basis of mind can be arrived at in a couple of ways, since God created all that is, God is the basis of everything and mind would be included. As the basis of reality, the ground of being  God is universal mind. This is a matter of logic given the basic attributes and God's super-essential nature.  Clearance Edwin Rolt explains the meaning
God, on the other hand, is Supra-Personal because He is infinite. He is not one Being among others, but in His ultimate nature dwells on a plane where there is nothing whatever beside Himself. The only kind of consciousness we may attribute to Him is what can but be described as an Universal Consciousness. He does not distinguish Himself from us; for were we caught up on to that level we should be wholly transformed into Him. And yet we distinguish between ourselves and Him because from our lower plane of finite Being we look up and see that ultimate level beyond us. The Super-Essential Godhead is, in fact, precisely that which modern philosophy describes as the Absolute. Behind the diversities of this world there must be an Ultimate Unity. And this Ultimate Unity must contain in an undifferentiated condition all the riches of consciousness, life, and existence which are dispersed in broken fragments throughout the world. Yet It is not a particular Consciousness or a particular Existence. It is certainly not Unconscious, Dead or, in the ordinary sense, non-Existent, for all these terms imply something below instead of above the states to which they are opposed.[10]
One can derive belief in God as super personal or universal mind through a logical extension of the doctrines of God. This is illustrated by what I just said in the doctrine of God's creatorhood, which leads to an understanding of  God's super essential nature. To that extend then any argument for God's existence backs the notion and necessitates mind as transcendent of the physical realm. Indeed God is the author of the physical realm. So human minds, because they are biologically based, supervene  upon the physical. But the physical supervene's upon God's mind. Really since God is the basis of mind we should say not that God has a mind but that God is mind itself. On the Cadre blog this week I preset two of my God arguments that  by their naturally God is personal.In addition to this kind of reason one can extrapolate from the irreduceability of consciousness to brain chemistry to God as transcendent mind. 

One can also deduce from  empirical experience of the religious kind, or mystical experience, the personal nature of God. So we have the implication of doctrine, arguments for God's existence, empirical experience of God's love, and extrapolation from the irreducible nature of consciousness. We might also make a proper basically argument that might spin-off of the acceptance of doctrine.

Be sure and read the two God arguments on Cadre


[1]Daniel Stoljar,"Physicalism",The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) ... hysicalism

(accessed 3/22/2018)

[2] Eric Sotnak, Comment, "Brailess Mimd part 2" Comment Section, Metacrock's Blog (March 15,2018)
(accessed 3/22/2018)

[3] "Physical," Webseters online Dictionary, no date,
(accessed 3/22/2018)

Tom McFarlane, "To Exist is to have Physical Properties," Quora, () ... t-NOT-true (accessed 3/22/2018) 

[5] VPs

[6] "What Exact;y is a Photon," Physics Stack Exchange (April 2017) ... s-a-photon
(accessed 3/22/2018)

Bruce P. Blackshaw, "The Case Against Physicalism: What is Physicalism?" The Philosophical Apologist, Website, (June, 2016) ... ysicalism/
(accessed 3/22/2018)

[8] Sotnak Op Cit 

[9] Joseph Hinman, "Mind is not reducible to brain, pat 1. Metacrock's Blog
part 2 posted March 20, 2018

[10] Clearance Edwin Rolt,  "Translator's Introduction," Dionysius the Areopagite: on Divine names and the Mystical Theology, trans. Clearance Edwin Rolt , New YorkNew York: Cosmio 2007, from original 1920 publication.  see also online versionChristian Classics Ethereal Library, on line version, The Author and his Influence, trans by, 1920  website URL:  by
visited May 13,

Rolt died at thirty-seven and this was his only book, but he had been hailed as one of the finest scholars ever produced by Queens College. I've done a blog post on super-essential Godead: