Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gunnar Björnstrand

I have reviewed several Bergman films on this blog, starting with my review of his death two years ago ("Greatness has Left the Planet: Ingmar Bergman Dies"). Since getting Netflix last Summer I've been watching what I consider to be the greatest films from the the greatest age of art films. From the late 40s, beginning with Italian Neo-Realism, which followed the lead of Viscanti, to the mid 50s in French "new Cinema" and on to the end of the 60s film make reach it's peak in terms of artistic direction. A host of great filmmakers cranked out sublime creations, the greatest among them was Sweden's Ingmar Bergman. Bergman has a special sensitivity to religion. He was an atheist, he did not pull punches about his feelings of angst at the lack of a God (in his world view) but he was not one of these message board Dawkies. He approaches it with a sensitivity that preserves the dignity and intelligence of the believer.

My favorite example of that sensitivity is from my second favorite film, "Wild Strawberries," and there is a scene I love in that film where two young men are competing for the effectiveness of a young lady. Their contest takes the place of an intellectual debate which grows more angry in every scene. Finally they break into a fist fight and both have black eyes. They are angrily corralled by their  companions and put in the back seat with the girl between them. She casually turns to the young seminarian and says "so, does God exist?" Bergman shows sensitivity in a scene where all the travels are together at a table the old doctor quotes poetry about religious belief, the atheist doesn't get it the seminary guy does. So even though he's an atheist he still acknowledges that Belief has its reasons and those reasons appeal to the heart, that doesn't make them stupid. Bergman's father the Chaplin to the Queen of Sweden, but privately he was abusive to the young Ingmar as he grew up. Bergman thus had a sympathy for the religious life but also a revulsion and an acute awareness of the personal struggles that go on in the psyche of believers and seeking unbelievers.

Björnstrand and Thulin in
Winter Light

"Winter Light" is the second in Bergman's Trilogy: "Through the Glass Darkly," "Winter Light," and "The Silence." I have reviewed Thought he Glass Darkly on this bog, and also another Bergman film "The virgin Spring." One of his greats. The review of his death included a review of his greatest work, "The Seventh Seal." That is my favorite film of all time bar none. I am almost having a mystical experince just thinking about that film.

Winter light is like setting out for a wonderful vacation in a great setting such as the south of France, and suddenly finding yourself in a dentist chair for four hours screaming in pain. It has all the slow agonizing tedious build up to nothing of a root canal. Well, one might ask, "what's so great about that, it sounds like a crap movie." The first time you watch it, it is. But it grows on you. If you think about it latter you come to realize you did see a fine film. I would not put it in the ranks of the Seventh Seal, or the the Seven Samurai for that matter, but it is a great film. That intense tedium that goes nowhere is intentional. Bergman wants you to feel that. That's the Katharsis. He also wants the film to look dismal, soul crunching, cold, barren, stark, bleak and it does. The setting is a small Island off the coast of Sweden. It has modern convinces but everything is shabby and gritty and the people are isolated and the region is a backwater.It's the kind of place that one begins a practice in (say in medicine) because there's no where to go from there but up.

The first scene is in a church as the Sunday service begins. In fact, the whole film takes place on that Sunday between the noon service and the evening service which is only bout three and half hours. The building is interesting, the service is dismal. The building is old and crumbling with vaulted sealing and very Norse looking statues of Christ on the cross. There are only seven people in the whole church and they are spread out around the sanctuary. The only people who sit together are one couple, the others all lonely individuals who have no one to sit with even in spite of their being a small enough group to have an intimate service. The service is anything but intimate. It's mechanical, and legalistic, formal and by the book. The people in the service, with the exceptions of an old woman and a a hunchback who seem moved by it all.

The opening of the film and the slow unfolding of conflict imply a real slap in the face to Christian belief. The minister, played by Bergman's best friend Gunnar Björnstrand, mutters under his breath "what a ridiculous image" as he gases at the cross.Everything is old and falling apart, ony two out of seven parishioners who bother to show up really get anything out of it, the rest is all perfunctory. The minister (Thomas) stays to talk to the one couple who sat together. The man is a fisherman played by Max Von Sydow (the Father in Virgin Spring, also the exorcist himself in that fim). The fisherman's problem is that he's depressed, to the point of suicide, because he's fretting about the bomb. This is a very periodized anxiety of that era. In that day it would have spoken to the audience. But the minister is totally inept at dealing with the man's problems. He gets him to agree to come back latter and talk to him in private session without his wife. The couple leaves and the minister's girl friend (Marta--Ingrid Thulin) comes in. She is clinging and mothering and hovering and suffocating. She gets him to read a letter which he reads before the return of the fisherman. The content of the letter is a sketch of all the problems in their relationship. The intensity builds as the text of the letter is acted by Thulin. The scene is a masterpiece as Bergman does not allow the camera to stray from a close up of her face as she speaks the text which the minister is reading. This is a violation of all the rules of film making. The close up grows in intensity as the problems of the couple are revealed. The viewer wants to move on but can't. The intensity of the letter is drilled into the face of the audience.

Thomas is sick, he has fever but he's pushing himself. In real life Bergman got the doctor to prescribe ineffective medicine for Björnstrand's bronchitis so he would really appear sick. While we might give Thomas some points for sticking to his duty we have to subtract them from Thomas again because his counciling technique was totally inept. He did not talk about the man's problems at all. Instead he told the fisherman about his own problems. He confessed his lack of belief and all but said things are pretty hopeless. He talked about is ideas of God but not in a way that shed theological light but in an intensely private way that could only be described as self indulgent.The man leaves clearly more distraught than when he came. Surprise, he goes right out and shoots himself.

There is a great scene, the only real outdoor scene where Thomas goes to issue last rights and help with the body. The Fisherman has shot himself in front of a stream which is moving very swiftly. There are mountains around, but none of it is beautiful. Of cousre it's black and white but even so nature can be beautiful in black and white, the great open outdoor forested scenes of Virgin Spring are wonderfully beautiful, this is not. The stream looks cold and bleak and like one might drawn. The mountains look gritty, everything looks gritty, snowy stark and bleak. This is of course, the way Bergman wants it to look. The American Title is "Winter Light" so named because the quality of light in the film is muted. this is the light of the winter in Sweden, dark, somber not happy sunshine but cloudy and stark. The scene focuses on a body being put in a body bag. Thomas doesn't seem shaken as much as bored. He's so self absorbed even this guy's doesn't make him re think what he's doing.It's clear he has no calling. He's just a guy doing a job. He could be a plumber. One can't help but wonder  if this wasn't Bergman's feeling about his father's ministry.

The arch of conflict come after this scene where Thomas and Marta have a showdown int he school where Marta teaches and lives in the back. Thomas basically lets her have it. He doesn't like her. he tells her so. He is humiliated her, she's clinging and so forth. She has a habit of calling "poor little Thomas" and hanging to his back. But it's clear if we read between the lines that her main sin is she is not his dead wife. He was really in love with his wife, he says, he will never get over her. He speaks of her "mockery of my dead wife." Marta looks helpless and breaks off her sobbing to say "I didn't know her." To me that means he does see a similarity between the two, but resents it. Marta does have some qualities that his wife had, but she's not the right woman.

Before the evening service Marta sits in the pew and talks to one of the seven, now six members of the church, a little hunchback guy who plays the organ. The hunchback, payed by Johan Allan Edwall, tells her that Thomas and his wife had the same problems that she and Thomas have. Thomas has exaggerated his love for her becasue she's gone and though guilt built her into a saint while she was actually clinging and smothering. He also observes that Thomas's talk of searching, is there a God and so forth is just a way of keeping at bay the realizations about his own character flaws. His search for certainty is a false search because he's using God as a scape goat and search for certainty of himself not God. The real Swedish title of the film is a word meaning "the communicants." That has a double meaning because it applies to the parishioners of the church doing communion but also to the communication between the characters: in both cases it's an ironic title because their doing of communion is hollow and without feeling and their communication is non existent. The only real communicating done in the film is he little hunchback's analysis of Thomas and his revelation to Marta that Thomas and his wife also had the same kind of relationship. The Hunchback is also the only real religious character in the movie. He's the only one (other than perhaps the old woman who is only in it for one fleeting close up at the beginning) for whom faith is really a way of life and really moving.

The film ends with the beginning of the evening service. There are only three people there for the service, the hunchback, the minister and the former girlfriend. But Thomas goes on anyway. He begins "Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God almighty..." as though those meaning anything to him. Another formalistic service by wrote, never mind that the audience is only one person (the other guy plays the music). As long as one person is there the service must go on. We can take this in two ways, either "the show must go on" a dig at Christianity becasue they are so pathetic that even with just three people they still can't depart from the script. Or we can see it as hope because even if only one person receives it the word of God is not lost.

The devastating critique of Christianity and its' position in Swedish culture in this film are obvious. What can be seen if one looks closer are the points of Bergman's sensitivity to religious belief. The only really "together" character was the only religious character who sums it all up in a knowing way and does only actual communicating in the film. The hopeful aspect of the end, even though a bleak winter kind of hope, that even if only one person hears God is still there, the word is not spoken in vein. Of course Bergman didn't believe God was there, but what he actually did believe is unclear, what is clear is that he actually did have a sense of admiration and sympathy for the true believer and the true seeker.

This film reminds me of the life of great theologian Carl Barth. Barth came out of seminary typical nineteenth century liberal. The triumphalism of post millennial was shattered by WWI and he had nothing to say to an audience. He was put in charge of a parish where only three old women came tot he service. But he didn't go by wrote, he formed an intimate little service and discussed what to do about it. He learned from these women what they needed to hear why they believed, why the modern church had nothing to day to people. From there he launched his revolution in neo-Orthodoxy whic brought people back to the churches.

Winter light is a great film, even though I wont put it on a level with Bergman's greatest, ironic since he wanted it to be part of the great Trilogy, like all great films it leads one to think about great ideas.

That was how I ended this review the first time. I think Bergman actually makes a couple of observations that are really insightful about spiritual life. One is that the people getting something out to the chruch service are the only one's willing to really put something into it, the one's transcend the formal obligatory ritual and actually try to see what it's all about. The other insight is that those spiritual one, the organist is allowing the faith to speak to him rather than imposing his own problems over it as a means of using God as something to blame.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A Thought In The Mind of God

A poster, 7th Stooge on the comment section of this blog says: "Maybe you could do a post on this Berkeleyan idea that everything's an idea in the mind o' God (if you haven't already). Having trouble wrapping my head around it."[1] The idea I've talked about is not  limited to Berkeley it has champions in Issac Newton [2] and Josiah Royce [3] as well. These versions are all a bit different but they are similar enough to share the same category, which is Ontological Idealism. There is also an epistemic idealism. They both hold that  "., they think of idealism as a position which is characterized by the claim that the universe (Moore) or whatever exists or whatever can be known to exist (Russell) is spiritual (Moore) or in some sense mental (Russell)."[4] Berkeley's version of that is his famous "to be is to be perceived," Newton's was the idea that the universe is "the sensorium of God." Mine is that reality is a thought in the mind of God.

Two major figures led the attack Agassi idealism general and this form of it in particular, Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) and G.E. Moore (1873–1958). They led the British attack and the American front was brought up by a squadron of New young pragmatists which included the father of history of ideas A.O. Lovejoy. We must not forget one of Royce's sparring partners William James who motivated a major attack. [5] 

Even though any kind of idealism is considered outmoded and disprove Russell and Moore nor nay of their cohorts ever assumed they had disproved it.

Although their attack was so influential that even more than 100 years later, any acknowledgment of idealistic tendencies is viewed in the English-speaking world with reservation, it is by no means obvious that they actually thought they had disproved idealism. On the contrary, neither Moore nor Russell claimed to have demonstrated that the universe or what exists or can be known to exist is not spiritual or mental. All that they take themselves to have shown is that there are no good philosophical (in contradistinction to, e.g., theological or psychological) arguments available to support such a claim. Moore especially is very explicit about this point. He devotes the first five pages of his famous piece from 1903, “The Refutation of Idealism,” to assuring the reader over and over that “I do not suppose that anything I shall say has the smallest tendency to prove that reality is not spiritual. … Reality may be spiritual, for all I know; and I devoutly hope it is. … It is, therefore, only with idealistic arguments that I am concerned; … I shall have proved that Idealists have no reason whatever for their conclusion” (Philosophical Studies, pp. 2 f.). And Russell in his The Problems of Philosophy (1912), in a similar vein, warns the reader, after emphasizing the strangeness of an idealistic position from a common sense point of view: “[I]f there were good reasons to regard them [viz. physical objects] as mental, we could not legitimately reject this opinion merely because it strikes us as strange” (p. 38). [6]
Ironically or James Jeans (11 September 1877 – 16 September 1946[2] supported such idealism even after it was sweped aside, which is probably why his work has been forgotten. I say ironic because he wasan atheiwst,ma scieitnisthewas amajortheit pitch mam the Dawkins of his day. Sir James Jeans wrote; "The stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter... we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter."[7]
"What remains is in any case very different from the full-blooded matter and the forbidding materialism of the Victorian scientist. His objective and material universe is proved to consist of little more than constructs of our own minds. To this extent, then, modern physics has moved in the direction of philosophic idealism. Mind and matter, if not proved to be of similar nature, are at least found to be ingredients of one single system. There is no longer room for the kind of dualism which has haunted philosophy since the days of Descartes." [8]
Contemporary thinkers have begun to realize this anti-idealist assumption is nothing but a Western scientific prejudice. The two major arguments that Moore and Russell used were assumptions that one chose one of Berkey's central ideas." The first concerns Berkeley’s idealistic principle that being consists in being perceived, the second the converse claim, attributed to Bradley, that thought entails being." [9] But Neither Newton nor the modern  idealists really rely on Berkeley. Newton looked to the notion that God used the physical world as a theater of thought to explain action at a distance (Gravity--that's the truth behind newton;s theory of gravity).[10] While certain physicists who are going native so to speak use mind to explain the nature of quantum theory.

"Eugene Wigner and others have suggested that it is mind acting on matter that accounts for quantum phenomena."[11] Bernard d'Espagnat, a French theoretical physicist best known for his work on the nature of reality, wrote a paper titled The Quantum Theory and Reality. According to the paper:
"The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment."[12]
a "growing body of renegade scientists ... in recent years have ventured into the domain of the spiritual in an attempt both to interpret the seemingly inexplicable findings of their experiments and to validate their intuitions about the existence of a spiritual dimension of life. "[13] One of the major figures in this group is Amit Goswami (Author of Self Aware Universe),[14] Physicist at the University of Oregon (he;s also a member of its Institute of Theoretical Science).Goswami lays out the basic theory of this ontological idealism:
The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents—building blocks—of matter. And cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief—all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call "upward causation." So in this view, ...our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon ....\Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness.That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes "downward causation." In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency—... It is the spiritual teaching. It is not just parallel. The idea that consciousness is the ground of being is the basis of all spiritual traditions, [15]
The major argumet for this view is collapsing the wave function. There must be some universal mind to collapse the wave function for the universe. Naturally I don't expect atheists to go for this and I don't know enough about quantum theory to defend it. I am not going to argue for it or try to protein, I hold it as a theoretical answer only. I am, however, going to indicate a plausibility for the argument, After all the argument was nevrer disproved,

Two basic ideas point to plausibility. (1) lack of understanding of the alternative, (2) the necessity of mind in creation. We know atoms are not little balls on sticks, but what they actually are we really don;t know, In reality subatomic particles are not made out of little balls, nor are these ‘particles” tangible or solid. In fact we could make a strong argument that no one even knows what they are made of. Do  subatomic particles really exist? In answer to this question one physics says

The short answer is we do not know. We have theories but are they right? It also comes down to word meaning. If something behaves like a particle, is it a particle? Think about this - if it isn’t, how can it behave like one? (The point is, what you are denying is what you define it as having its behaviour. A sort of circular denial.)
Your description is consistent with quantum field theory, but it is still far from clear that is true. What is an excitation? Why does the excitation not decay?
I prefer to say, we have our models, and we shall see where they take us but ultimately, we don’t know

Right after this one there's another answer that's even more tellimg. 

Quantum Field theory (QFT) describes ‘particles’ as not being particles existent on their own, but rather as being excitations in various fields; an up quark is just some energy in the up quark field that behaves like a particle, while an electron is just an excitation in the election field that behaves as a different particle. In QFT, these particles don’t really exist as particles, but as bits of energy in fields. This also accounts for wave-particle duality as you describe, as the ‘wave’ of a ‘particle’ is just an oscillation in the field.So yes, according to Quantum Field theory, you are completely correct[17]
This does not prove anything but it gives us a dandy hint. First, what is being described is a system where theoretical constructs are accepted due to their working and definiteness into theoretical structure regardless of their empirical demonstrability. One would think that should make mocking ideas foreign to the system a little incredulous since "that is stupid because it doesn't fit my theoretical construel is a bit terse,Secondly, we also see the employment of mind understanding the workings of the system it requires a good deal of mental agility. One cant help but think there should be some employment of mind in the construct of reality not merely in the construct theory about reality. 

There are many reasons to think so. Arguments such as fine tuning and wave function can be pressed into service. I have written an argent of my own even before I had this idea that points up the necessity of mind in the working out of big bang cosmology. Years ago I made an argumnet i called Argument from Temporal Bering. This argument does depend upon big bang cosmology but it is still the standard model. 

1) Time has a begining.
2) There is no causality or sequential order beyond time.
3) Therefore, no change beyond time is possible.
4) The putative state of affairs beyond time is one of timlessness.

5) Therefore, time should never have come to be.
6) We know that time did come to be, therefore, it must have been created by something capable of writing and circumventing the rules.

7) Only mind would be capable of writing and circumventing the rules of time and eternity, therefore, eternal necessary must be the author of physical reality.[18]

This idea solves a good many theological problems such a the problem of temporal beginning. Like all God arguments it will be met with mocking and ridicule but why is vacuum flux popping into existence out of nothing for no reason any more reasonable? Mind makes a good stopping place ro final cause since it can generate matter infinitely if matter is idea, In a world governed by mind God would only be constrained by his own imagination,


[1] 7th Stooge, comment section ,"The Realization of God and Meaning in the Universe," Metacrock's Blog, (Aug 29,2017) http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-realization-of-god-and-meaning-in.html
(accessed 9/5/17)

[2]Alexander Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore, Maryland Johns Hopkins press, 1957. 159-161.
Newton's physics, or, it would be better to say, Newton's natural philosophy, stands or falls with the concepts of absolute time and absolute space, the selfsame concepts for which Henry More fought his long-drawn-out and relentless battle against Descartes. Curiously enough, the Cartesian conception of the only relative, or relational, character of these and connected notions is branded by Newton as being "vulgar" and as based upon "prejudices."
Thus in the famous scholium which follows the Definitions that are placed at the very beginning of the Principia, Newton writes:9
Hitherto I have laid down the definitions of such words as are less known, and explain the sense in which I would have them to be understood in the following discourse. I do not define time, space, place, and motion as being well known to all. Only I must observe that the vulgar conceive those quantities under no other notions but from the relations they bear to sensible objects. And thence arise certain prejudices, for the removing of which, it will be convenient to distinguish them into absolute and relative, true and apparent, mathematical and common.
 Absolute, true and mathematical time and space—for Newton these qualifications are equivalent and determine
As a covaeot to my view we aware of the counter view of Patrick J. Connolly "Newton's claim just means that space is the venue in which God carries out his divine will." Intellectual History Review, 2014, vol 24, no 2 1985,180.

[3] Guyer, Paul and Horstmann, Rolf-Peter, "Idealism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2015/entries/idealism/>.
(accessed 9/5/17)

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid.

[7] Sir James Jeans, The mysterious universe, Cambridge, New york Cambridge university press. 137.

[8] Sir James Jeans addressing the British Association in 1934. in Franklin Le Van Baumer (ed.) Main Currents of Western Thought: Readings in Western European Intellectual History. Hew Haven,London: Yale University press, 1978, 703.

(accessed 9/5/17)

[9] Paul Guyer,  and Horstmann, Rolf-Peter,op cit.
sd Dscsartes anLkib eiz 

[10] G. J. Mattey,"Philosophy 22 notes Issac Newton," UC Davis Philosophy 22 Seventeenth Century Philosophy, 2001
(accessed 9/5/17)

[11] Robert J. Russell, "Quantum Physics," Counter Balance, Website, no date goven
(accessed 9/5/17)

[12] Bernard d'Espagnat,, "The Quantum Theory and Reality," Scientific Amercan,1979, no month given 158-181 pdf
(accessed 9/5/17)

[13]Craig Hamilton. "The self Aware Universe An Interview with Amit Gaswami, " TWM no date given.

14 Amit Goswami. Self Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates The Material World. New York: Peinguin Putnam inc,1993. no page indicated.

[15] Hamilton, op cit

[16]Ian Miller, "Do Sub Atomic Particles really Exist?" Quora. website (may 19 no year given)

[17] Lars Cain, Ibid.

[18] My temporal beginning argument,

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Republicans are Desperate to Silence Muller probe

Image result for Republicans Move to impeach Rosenstein

Trump threatens to revoke Obama era security clearances, this is a brazen attempt to silence criticism and prevent   testimony for Muller's investigation of Russian collusion.."The main thing these former Obama administration officials have in common is a desire to tell the truth. What does Trump not want us to know about?"[1] these Include: "former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor; former FBI Director James B. Comey; former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden; former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice; former Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr.; and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe."[2] No illegality or misconduct has been alleged.

And although some conservatives, including Sen. Rand Paul, claim these public servants are somehow “monetizing” their clearances, there is no evidence to suggest that any of them are hawking classified data in return for cash payments. In fact, if the president had any reason to suspect that these outspoken critics were disclosing national secrets, he would likely have them in handcuffs before their next television appearance.[3]
Frank Figliuzzi was assistant director of  FBI counter intelligence . He explains why they extend security clearances beyond the administration of one's time in office:
When I retired from that position, I maintained my clearance for a year. This wasn’t because I enjoyed filling out thick, mind-numbing documents that ask for the Vehicle Identification Numbers on my cars, the addresses of temporary, corporate apartments I lived in seven years ago, or because I relished the prospect of being hooked up to a polygraph machine and asked if I socialized with foreign intelligence officers (yes, many allied officers). The FBI asked me to do this for the sake of continuity, transition and maintenance of institutional knowledge. I agreed.This is just common sense. If the FBI or other intelligence agency had a question about some investigative decision, strategy discussion, or policy issue, they wanted the ability to reach out, brief me on the issue and seamlessly move forward in securing our nation from threats. When that transition period ended, the FBI allowed my clearance to lapse. For someone who was the director of an agency, the period can last much longer. If my clearances were still in place today, perhaps I too would be subject to Trump’s call to revoke clearances of people who he doesn’t like.[4]
It is not a threat to current security that they do this. Paul's criticism, is ignorant as is Trump's. The idea that they make  money off of the clearances is wrong.

Those kinds of security clearances are not particularly lucrative for people who have had the top jobs. That is not why they maintain them, but Trump probably has no idea that that is the case. Rather, he apparently thinks that he can punish his enemies by going after their wallets, not realizing that Michael Hayden’s speaking fees and book advances will go up if the White House manages to pull his code-word tickets. He does not understand the value assigned by the insiders to their predecessors’ experience or the mentality of people who want to continue to serve their country even in semiretirement. Quiet patriotism—as opposed to the flag-waving, wall-building, ally-bashing, threat-tweeting brand of nationalism that Trump has ridden to the presidency—is beyond him.[5]
The reason they want to pull security clearances from these people is because they acknowledged that Russia conducted cyber attacks upon the U.S. electoral process and they have been critical of Trump's refusal to defend American  security agaisnt Putin.

On another front Republican desperation can be seen in a new attempt at shutting down the the Muller probe. Eleven house republicans have put up articles of impeachment against Rod Rosestein who is Muller's boss in DOJ. With Rosenstein out a Trump-biased new boss would pt more pressure on Muller or even shut his investigation down directly, [6]

The five articles charge Rosenstein of "high crimes and misdemeanors" for failing to produce information to the committees, even though the department has already provided lawmakers with more than 800,000 documents, and of signing off on what some Republicans say was improper surveillance of a Trump adviser.The resolution also goes directly after Rosenstein for his role in the ongoing Mueller investigation, criticizing him for refusing to produce a memo that outlines the scope of that investigation and questioning whether the investigation was started on legitimate grounds. Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether Trump's campaign was in any way involved.[7]
The move is not backed by all republicans, it is not clear that it has the votes to succeed, Speaker Ryan is said to be Against  the move. [8] The problem is, aside from the fact that it could succeed, is the fact that  a faction loyal to the alleged President Russian intervention investigated. That is pretty serious, If this as 9/11 what would be the reaction at Republican congressmen saying this is a witch hunt we should not investigate this attack on the world trade center? What if Obama was saying we don't need to investigate attacks by Russia upon our elections especially because they benefited me and got me elected? We the Republicans would never let Obama get away with that. This transcends politics we can't afford to allow the Republicans to  silence Muller.

Call Your congressman: 202-224-3121

Demand that Muller be allowed to conduct his investigation and that Rosenstein not be impeached,


[1]Frank Figliuzzi , "Trump's treat To Revoke Obama Era Security Clearances Is a Brazen Attempt to Silence Critics..."  Think , published by NBC News (
(accessed 7/26/18)

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] , "Pulling Security Clearances Is Just the Start, " The Atlantic (JUL 25, 2018)
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/07/trumps-threat-to-pull-clearances-is-ignorantand-scary/566024/ (accessed 7/26/18)

[6] Mary Clare Jalonick, "GOP Leaders Move to Impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein," Chicago Tribune, associated press, (July 26,2018)
(accessed 7/26/18)

[7] Ibid

[8] EMILY BIRNBAUM - "Paul Ryan Pushes Back on Conservatives..."{ The Hill (
http://thehill.com/homenews/house/398998-paul-ryan-says-he-does-not-support-impeaching-rosenstein (accessed 7/26/18)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

God, Intelligent Design, and The Illusion of Technique

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On Secular Outpost , Eric Sotnak [1] opens debate against Intelligent Design (ID) by approaching it politically, DeVos ls ID and  she will be imposing it upon the schools, so here's why it's wrong.... Eric is approaching it through the notion of defending evolution, I have no intention of attacking evolution so I am approaching it through an understanding of belief in God. The issues transcend both politics and evolution, ID is just fancy packaging to dress up creationism in a more respectable garb, but the basic concept  that the universe is  the product of mind I support; it is that issue that I  approach as a form of belief in God. 

If you really want to fight what's about to happen to the educational system then you need to join the political struggle and back the resistance, Major part of the resistances is Christians. You don't see my feed on facebook but most of the anti-Trump stuff I see on FB is from Christians. Atheists ate still about 3% Christians are about 80% so it just stands to reason most anti-Trump feeling will be Christians,We resistance Christians are pretty pissed about what the Republicans have done (fundies included) to the faith. Eric is above making little wise cracks about Christians but not all of the posters of SOP are, this topic no less draws some of those comments.

There are three major issues I will deal with here, Two are used by Eric and one is my own. First there is Probability of naturalistic origin as opposed to Supernatural one,,
Secomdoy, the mechanism for creation , and thirdly the illusion of technique, This is the concept I barrow from William Barrett and his Book of that title.
 [2] I will be making use of this concept in a major way kn  my upcoming book God,Science, and Ideology. The point being that the way the  issues are discussed in the conventional argument between ID and evolution feeds into the ideology that motivates scientism, not to accuse Eric of being scientistic.

Eric argues that Irreduceable Complexity (IC), a major argument in favor of ID,  is more probably a product of naturalistic forces rather than supernatural."But it is at least less improbable that it should have come about by supernatural means (intelligent agency).IC is about various organisms that are complete in themselves such as microbes that are like little motors,any part missing would mean the whole organism would fail to function, I have seen the same kind of argument made about the eye, So evolution could not have produced such an organism because it would have to start out whole, Sotnak argues that the probability is with a naturalistic outlook at the product of IC.  But he can't make good on that claim because there is no way to subject God to probability. Especially not with Bayes because (1) any setting of a prior is strictly biased, on either side. (2) No new info coming in about God because God is not given in sense data, If God is not given in sense data then God can't be subjected to probability, Consider the limitations of trying to use probability such as Bayes theorem for any kind of question about religious faith,m not merely the likelihood of God creating IC.

 Bayes’ theorem was introduced first as an argument against Hume’s argument on miracles, that is to say, a proof of the probability of miracles. The theorem was learned by Richard Price from Bayes papers after the death of the latter, and was first communicated to the Royal society in 1763.[3] The major difference in the version Bayes and Price used and modern (especially skeptical versions) is that Laplace worked out how to introduce differentiation in prior distributions. The original version gave 50-50 probability to the prior distributions. The original version gave 50-50 probability to the prior distribution.[4] The problem with using principles such as Bayes theorem is that they can’t tell us what we need to know to make the calculations of probability accurate in dealing with issues where our knowledge is fragmentary and sparse. The theorem is good for dealing with concrete things like tests for cancer, developing spam filters, and military applications but not for determining the answer to questions about reality that are philosophical by nature and that would require an understanding of realms beyond, realms of which we know nothing. Bayes conquered the problem of what level of chance or probability to assign the prior estimate by guessing. This worked because the precept was that future information would come in that would tell him if his guesses were in the ball park or not. Then he could correct them and guess again. As new information came in he would narrow the field to the point where eventually he’s not just in the park but rounding the right base so to speak.

The problem is that doesn’t work as well when no new information comes in, which is what happens when dealing with things beyond human understanding. We don’t have an incoming flood of empirical evidence clarifying the situation with God because God is not the subject of empirical observation. Where we set the prior, which is crucial to the outcome of the whole thing, is always going to be a matter of ideological assumption. For example we could put the prior at 50-50 (either God exists or not) and that would yield a high probability of God.[5] Or the atheist can argue that the odds of God are low because God is not given in the sense data, which is in itself is an ideological assumption. It assumes that the only valid form of knowledge is empirical data. It also ignores several sources of empirical data that can be argued as evidence for God (such as the universal nature of mystical experience).[6] It assumes that God can’t be understood as reality based upon other means of deciding such as personal experience or logic, and it assumes the probability of God is low based upon unbelief because the it could just as easily be assumed as high based upon it’s properly basic nature or some form of elegance (parsimony). In other words this is all a matter of how e chooses to see things. Perspective matters. There is no fortress of facts giving the day to atheism, there is only the prior assumptions one chooses to make and the paradigm under which one chooses to operate; that means the perception one chooses to filter the data through.

Perhaps he's not thinking in terms of Bayes but just asserting that we only have empirical evidence of naturalistic things. First of  all He's right about the issue of  biological development of organisms, there is no way to something like that to a direct SN origin. But as long as we are not fighting evolution we can't expect that standard of empirical evidence to rule out God as the ultimate origin of all things. After all we have direct empirical evidence of physical laws or mutliverse or string membranes but some scientists want to assume these things. Remember I do not argue for proof that God exists but rather for a "rational warrant fro belief, " the subtitle of my book. In that book I argue for warrant for belief based upon empirical evidence oft the co-determinate, That is the concept of Schleiemacher very much like the idea of foot prints in the snow, We don't have direct empirical evidence of God but we do have empirical evidence of the co-determinate,k the effects of God or as I have it The Trace of God. Of course the draw back there is that you have to know wast effects God would leave so we know them when we see them, That is an issue for another time. Read the book.[7]

Eric also makes a second point about the mechanism through whichGod creates, "The claim is usually made using the term “design.” But this avoids the question of how, exactly, the design is implemented. That is, if the bacterial flagellum begins as a design in the mind of an intelligent designer, how does the designer get the flagella into the world."[8] The problem here is that the mechanism I could advance is also a mystery to us, The saving feature is we know it exits, in fact all knowledge comes to us through this mechanism: mind, If we assume consciousness is a basic property of nature an assumption well argued for B y David Chalmers for example, [9] this gives us a justification for understanding mind as the basis of reality and then we can see God as the mind that is the basis of reality. Issac Newton had a concept that the universe is the "sensorium of God" which I take to mean the universe was God's interface with tangability,[10] There as a great deal of opposition on this point from Libnetz and it does indicate that Newton tendking to think in very physical and mechanical terms even ab out God. Libeniz claimed Newton understood space as an organ God needed to see, of course that;'s an exaggeration. [11] Be that as it may the are more modern examples such as that of University of Oregon Physicist Amit Gaswami, who sees thought as the basis of reality rather than energy.
The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents—building blocks—of matter. And cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief—all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call "upward causation." So in this view, what human beings—you and I—think of as our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon or secondary phenomenon, secondary to the causal power of matter. And any causal power that we seem to be able to exert on matter is just an illusion. This is the current paradigm[12]

My overall point is mind can be the mechanism and the world is a thought in the mind of God.

Not Bill Gates: "Therefore it is more likely that DNA was magically popped into existence by a supernatural agent than that it came about through natural processes."

Sure but the natural process, all natural processes wre kicked of by the SN power, the miomd tha thinks the universewhy not? All reality was so popped. Look, your question how could God go from idea in mind to real world? I don't think that's a fair question because it's eh kind thing of which we can't gain knowledge empirically; if we can't gain knowledge we can't assert it can't be done.Moreover,I have a theory of it, That is to take seriously Newton;s idea that the universe is the sensorium of God, I take that to mean analogous to thought in a mind,So God is thinking the world, Look you are assuming an evolutionary process is more: realistic than a mind thinking of things but it's no moreso, that's relative, we are startling from nothing. God would be all there is,so any thought God has is reality.You are assuming some kind of pre given set of physical laws governing a process of nature, that's really just God without the personality.

That brings up the third problem, the illusion of technique, The false notion that we can know it all because we can manipulate nature to a certain degree, We don';t know why we are here  or what started the big bang expansion or where the energy that makes the universe cane from,We pretend that we have it all under control because we only accept that which we can manage and manipulate the rest we pretend is not important, that means we have many mechanisms we do not understand.


[1] Eric Sotnak, "Intelligent Design: Get Ready for Another Round,l" Secular Outpost, (Feb. 17,2017) blog, URL:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2017/02/17/intelligent-design-get-ready-another-round/#disqus_thread  (accessed: 2/18/17) 
Eric Sotnak teaching Philosophy at  University Of Akron.

[2] William Barrett, The Illusion of Technique: The Search for Meaning in a Technological Civilization, New York:Anchor, 1979, no page indicated.

[3]Geoffrey Poitras, Richard Price, Miracles and the Origin of Bayesian Decision Theory pdf http://www.sfu.ca/~poitras/Price_EJHET_$$$.pdf
Faculty of Business AdministrationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnaby, BCCANADA V5A 1S6. Geoffrey Poitras is a Professor of Finance in the Faculty of Business Administration at Simon FraserUniversity. Lisited 12/22/12.
[4] ibid
[5] Joe Carter, “The Probability of God” First Thoughts. Blog of publication of First Things. (August 18, 2010) URL: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/18/the-probability-of-god/  visited (1/10/13). Carter points out that when Unwin (an atheist discussed in previous chapter) puts in 50% prior he gets 67% probability for God. When Cater himself does so he get’s 99%.Cater’s caveat: “Let me clarify that this argument is not intended to be used as a proof of God’s existence. The sole intention is to put in quantifiable terms the probabilities that we should form a belief about such a Being’s existence. In other words, this is not an ontological proof but a means of justifying a particular epistemic stance toward the idea of the existence or non-existence of a deity.The argument is that starting from an epistemically neutral point (50 percent/50 percent), we can factor in specific evidence for the existence or non-existence of a deity. After evaluating each line of evidence, we can determine if it is more or less likely that it would entail the existence of God.”
[6] Metacrock, "The Scale and The universal Nature of Mystical Experience," The religious a priroi blog URL: http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-m-sacle-and-universal-nature-of.html see also the major argument I sue for documentation in that article,  In P, McNamar (Ed.), Where God and science meet, Vol. 3, pp. 119-138. Westport, CT: Praeger. linked in Google preview.

[7] Joseph Hinman, The Trace of God:Rational Warrant For Belief. Colorado Springs: Grand Viaduct, 2014

[8] Satnak op oct. all quotes by Sotnak from this article

David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a theory. England, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 3-5.on line version: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16574382/David-Chalmers-The-Conscious-Mind-Philosophy Scribd, David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Theory of Conscious Experience, webstie Department of Philosophy, University of California at Santa Cruz, July 22 1995, visited 3/1/11 on line page numbers apply.

[10] Alexander Koyré, From the Closed World to the Infinite Universe, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press,  1957, 235-239

[11] Ibid 239

[12] Gaswami