Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What is Liberal Theology? p2: Albrecht Ritschl

akg-images -

Albrecht Ritschl 1822-1889

Schleiermacher is called the "father" of liberal theology, but the other foundational figure which spured the development of liberal theology in the 19th century was Albrecht Ritschl (1822-1889).German Protestant, taught theology at Bonn (1851-64) and Gottengin (1864-89). His major work translates into English as The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Reconciliation (Vol. I and III, 1872 and 1900).(Columbria Encyclopedia, Barelby.com

Further works byRitschl:Instruction in the Christian Religion, (1875); Theology and Metaphysics,(1881).

Ritschl was in line with Schleiermacher's thinking, he believed religion was primary a matter of revelation and personal experince. He worked agaisnt Hegel and his ilk in ridding theology of speculative metaphysics and philosophical frameworks. This puts him in line with Schleiermacher since Hegel hated Schleiermacher (the two had been class makes in college) and Schleiermacher's feeling of utter dependence worked direct against Hegel's notions of philosophical speculation. Ritschl sees theology as practical and not speculative. He grounds his inquiry in historical criticism and history, and in the revelation of God through Jesus Christ.

With Ritschl we see three lines of theological development shaping up. The first being Schleiermacher and Ritschl with religious experince and historical criticism. The second is an indirect line running thorugh several seeming contradictory figures: Hegel,theolgoian A.E. Beidermann (1819-85), New Testament scholar F.C. Bauer (1792-1860)--Bauer taguht Ritschl but was rejected by him, Philosphers Ludwig Fuererbach (1804-72) Karl Marx (1818-83) Soren Keirkegaard (1813-55).

The third line demonstrates the way the first two began to come together toward the end of the century to produce a distinctive liberal climate for theology. This line is dominated by Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), but just began his carrer at the even end of the century. Johannes Weiss (1863-1814). William Werde (1859-1906), Martin Kahler (1835-1913) Ernst Troeltsch (1865-1923) (Troelstch would turn out to be the teacher of Paul Tillich). By the end of the century a vast aray of skeptical style theology had been produced, with theolgoians and Bible scholars more skeptical of the validity of the Bible than any atheists every thought about being.Most of what we see on the net, with skeptical boards like the Secular Web are rehashes of arguments raised by ministers and Bible scholars from this era. The emphasis was upon de-mythologizeing the Bible. Chrstainity was seen primarly as an ethical pltform, or a social organization deciated to helping society make a better world.

Liberal Theology in the 20th Century

Until the end of World War I liberal theology proceeded as it had done in the previous century. The first world war changed everything. Liberal theology had become an ivory tower pursuit with nothing to say tot he common man. Suddenly Europe found itself in a crushing war, thousands dying everyday, a whole generation slaughtered on the battle. Massive dissolutionment set in as no one found liberal theology comforting. Karl Barth arose with a new take on theology which came to be called "Neo-Orthodox." Barth was a liberal Calvinist, he understood the Bible not as the word of God but containing the word of God. He under revelation through a dialectic between the reader and the text. Thus theology was infused with divine comfort in the face of over whelming tragedy. Liberal theology responded after the war by seeking out the existential roots in Christian thought. Theology in that century, before the second world war, was dominated by two major camps, Bartian neo-Orthodoxy, and Bualtmannian existentialism (led by Rudolph Bultmann). Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr (as well as his verbose brother H. Richard) would be major champions in the existential camp. This basic division held throughout the rest of the century, but in the 1960s it began to change tremendously.

Theology in the sixties was very exciting. This was the era when liberal theology came into its own. The major event that put liberal theology front and center was the conference called "Vatican II" held in the early 60s. The Church reformed many aspects of its liturgy modernizing itself both in cosmetic appeal and theology. It adopted a position of ecumenism allowing for the salvation of those outside the catholic or even Christian camps. It took most of the Latin out of its Mass, allowed the use of native instruments such as guitar, nuns began wearing civilian clothes and so on. In the field (Latin America) even more radical steps were taken. Priests began joining revolutions and fighting for social change. Some Priests even took up arms and joined liberation forces in the mountains. The first priest to do so was Father Camillio Tores in Columbia. Out of this period a whole movement evolved known as "liberation theology." It swept through Latin America, it was a major force in the U.S. anti-war movement (the Barigan brothers, both priests went to jail for pouring blood on draft records). Martin Luther King Jr. was a liberal theologian. His doctoral dissertation was on Paul Tillich's concept of God as Being itself. The whole civil rights movement was infused with Christian participation and leadership (such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and this fed into the anti-war movement and contributed to the popularity of liberation theology.

Soon Feminist theology followed, just as Feminism grew out of the civil rights and anti-war movements. New calls for all kinds of theologies were going out all the time. It was a very exciting period of fement. Theology was a battle ground. The popular musical Godspell was written by a theology student at that time and was basically a musical "Gospel according to the hippies" (Godspel = Gospel). The most radical movement of all was the God is dead movement. The major leader was Frederick J.J. Altizer. He argued that God poured himself out in Hegelian dialectic, just as Christ gave up his life on the cross, the God himself poured is very life into his creation giving it (man) the ability to make his own way. The phrase "God is dead" began with Nietzsche who meant by that that modern Western culture had killed the spirit of true reverence for the good by codifying it in a hypocritical institution like the church. Altizer just turned that around into a positive act by God on man's behalf. The movement fragmented, it's core idea was never really understood, the mainstream church reacted very harshly. The net outcome was the liberal church turned its focus to the world. An armay liberal Christian social workers and sociologists went forth to serve the good of humanity, to fight in revolutions, to lead political activism, to fee the hungry and protest war and so forth. Marxism was its chief tool for social analysis.

Rather than death of God theology, the new army of socially minded Christian liberals took up process theology. This allowed them to regard God as a depersonalized ideal of Goodness and yet still be motivated by a sense of divine truth. Process theology became the spiritual force of liberal theology in the last quarter of the twentieth century, thus united it with its late nineteenth century forbearer.Process theology and Marxist analysis drove liberal theology pretty much form the 60s to the 90s. After the fall of communism, in the early 90's liberal theology turned to identity politics and postmodernism. After the Jesus seminar and 911 and the war in Irak liberal theology has moved off center stage. The decline in popularity of postmodernism and lumping in identity politics with the "pc crowd" has pushed liberal theology into the background. It has no real social focus now. Some sort of ferment is taking place, a synthesis of the emergent church idea, identity politics, posternmodernism. Some segements may have gone more into a neo conservative phase.

Sources for StudyThe best source for study would be to obtain The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology. This is the authority on modern theology. It is expensive, it comes in to major volumes. One volume is about doctrines, the other is about people. You can look up ideas by the name of the theologian that made them famous, or get a run down on the basic thoughts of the major theologians of the last few centuries, in the theologian volume. Or look up ideas such as "God" or "Bible" in the doctrine volume. This would be crucial for anyone seeking to really understand theology. Another very important book would the History of Christian Thought by Paul Tillich. These are lectures Tillich delivered somewhere and they give an excellent run down on all of Chrsitian theology form the first century to Tillich's own views.

on line resources:

Religion online.org has a very through list of topics linked on their site. Here's a source I love:
Boston Collaborative Encyclopedia of Western Theology, a fine collection of short essay each dedicated to a different major modern theologain:they have them all!Wisdoms Children an intelligent blog, very literate, featuring major theolgoical and liberal arts thinkers. God Web, with an excellent article on Tillich and other liberal theological issues.

Last, and very probably lest, but in the interest of getting people to stop attributing to me ideas I do not espouse, my own theological credo on Doxa.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

What is Liberal Theology? p1

Hegelian News & Reviews: Schleiermacher and the polemic against ...

Frederich Schliermacher,(1768-1834)

Most Christians have a jaundiced view of liberal theology; for most Evangelicals, the term "liberal theology" conjures up images of the Jesus Seminar, Bishop Sprong assaulting the truth of Holly Scripture, questions about Jesus' existence, and the fomentation of doubt and unbelief. Liberal theology has had a long tradition that very much pre-dates the Jesus seminar. The liberal tradition in Christianity is actually called "the liberal visionary tradition" and it stretches back to a certain brand of Orthodoxy that was far more the majority than was the Evangelical movement just after the enlightenment. In this series I will breiefly examine the history of liberal theology, and overview a few of my favorite "liberal" theologians.

A fine definition, perhaps the best I've seen, is given my my friend who calls him "Urbild" (the late Scott Gross, see my tribute FN 1) [1] (Logos in German) on my Doxa Message board. Urblid is a doctoral student in Theology at a major liberal seminary, and this was in the "Theology/Bible" section;Posted 03/06/2005 08:27:34 (03/06/2005 03:27:34 PM)

The difference between conservatives and liberals is rooted in two fundamentally different methods of doing theology. The conservative tradition is authoritarian in method. The liberal theological tradition, by contrast, adopts a method in which truth claims are subjected to experience and reason.

Conservative theology begins with the assumption of some divine revelation. This revelation is held to be immune from rational critique, vouchsafed by the testimony of miracles, understood as supernatural intervention. If there is any kind of evaluation of religious beliefs, the evaluation will be governed under norms derived from the tradition. "X is true because the Bible or the church says so."

The liberal theological tradition assumes that Christian stories and belief systems can claim no exemption by virtue of unique origin. No truth claim is immune to criticism. The liberal theologian is not merely responsible to an internal criterion of a particular religious tradition, but is also responsible to the same kind of criteria and debate that guides other fields of knowledge. In other words, theological statements must conform to publicly defensible and revisable canons of investigation and validation. The liberal will humbly concede that this method is fallible, while acknowledging that only God can claim the realization of total knowledge.

Liberal theology is often mistakenly defined as simply a challenge to orthodox belief. On the contrary, liberal theology seeks continuity with the dogmatic tradition. A theologically liberal Christian will attempt to develop all of the possibilities that a particular doctrine has to offer, while recognizing that any doctrine may finally be exhausted. The church's doctrines are respected for what they can teach us, but they are not treated as a set of immutable truths. As in the conservative theological tradition, doctrines will receive a great diversity of interpretation. But this diversity is welcomed, not shunned, as the liberal understands that the cohesiveness of a religious community is not based on agreement, but on the mutual enrichment acquired from encountering differing points of view

We could add to this definition that in the modern era, especially since Baultmann, the impetus of liberal theology is not so much to subject the Bible to reason, as to translate the Gospel into terms meaningful to contemporary society. Be that as it may, I'll get back to that shortly.Liberal theology is most often thought of as a counter to "orthodoxy," but for most of its history the liberal view was more in line with Orthodoxy and the Evangelicals and their forerunners were on the lunatic fringe. Three major movements that preceded the Evangelical; the Pruitans (sixteenth century England), the Pietists (seventeenth century Germany) and the Evangelicals (nineteenth century England and America), all were kept at bay by the mainline orthodoxy which controlled the major denominations, and all three were radical movements that sought to restore a bogus ancient flavor to Christianity while moving away from the liberals who had come to control the Orthodox centers.

The dichotomy between reason and faith in religion goes very far back in Christian origins. In Early modern times it emerges as rationalism vs. voluntarism, but it can be found in the middle ages between Scholastic and nomenalists. We should not be at all surprised to find the Enlightenment as a major source of liberal theology, and so it was. Nevertheless, there are other sources that even preceded the enlightenment. Since a major motivational force for liberal theology has been rationalisms, many antecedents from the Reformation and skeptical crisis in Europe can be found, thus pre dating the enlightenment. The same antecedents which pushed the Enlightenment also forged the impetus for liberal theology.

But I'm going to skip up 19th century, because my historical wring is long,boring, and ponderous,and because real liberal theology begins in the 19th century. See comment section for my development the antecedents renaissance and reformation.


It was out of this Kantian quagmire that liberal theology proper really gets going. Libeal theology begins with the attempt of a faithful follower of Kant, Frederich Schliermacher,(1768-1834) to restore God as the object of theological discourse. As a Kantian Schleiermacher knew that God is not given in sense data. Also as a Kantian he knew that God had to be on a par with the necessary categories but that we had to have to some form of interaction with experince. It was out of this problemt that he realized that one could go around the sense data and find interaction of the mind with God in the form of our basic consciousness of the concept of God itself. From this notion Scholeiermacher emerged with his famous dictum, the "feeling of utter dependence." Though this concept God was once again placed as the object of theological disourse and the basic method of liberal theology was born. Schleiermacher is known as "the father of liberal theology" for this reason.

Schleiermacher was important to three theological traditions; he is called "father of liberal theology," meaning liberal protestant theology, during hte nineeth century he was important in circles of German piety and popular among the Evangelicals, and he is also traced as one of the prgeniters of the Unitarian Universalism tradition (Brockie). He's largley forgotten by all three today, although still studied in liberal seminaries. Other figures became important to nineteenth century liberal theology:

Schleiermacher, in On Religion: Speeches to it's Cultured Dispisers, and The Christian Faith.sets forth the view that religion is not reduceable to knowledge or ethical systems. It is primarily a phenomenological apprehension of God consciusness through means of religious affections. Affections is a term not used much anymore, and it is easily confussed with mere emotion. Sometimes Schleiermacher is understood as saying that "I become emotional when I pay and thus there must be an object of my emotional feelings." Though he does vinture close to this position in one form of the argument, this is not exactly what he's saying. In the earlier form of his argument he was saying that affections were indicative of a sense of God, but in the Christian Faith he argues that there is a greater sense of unity in the life world and a sense of the dependence of all things in the life world upon something higher.What is this feeling of utter depenedence? It is the sense of the unity in the life world and it's greater reliance upon a higher reality. It is not to be confused with the stary sky at night in the desert feeling, but is akin to it. I like to think about the feeling of being in my backyard late on a summer night, listening to the sounds of the freeway dying out and realizing a certain harmony in the lfie world and the sense that all of this exists because it stems form a higher thing. There is more to it than that but I don't have time to go into it. That's just a short hand for those of us to whom this is a new concept to get some sort of handle on it. Nor does"feeling" here mean "emotion" but it is connected to the religious affections. In the early version S. thought it was a correlate between the religious affections and God; God must be there because I can feel love for him when I pray to him. But that's not what it's saying in the better version.

The basic assumptions Schleiermacher is making are Plaontic. He believes that the feeling of utter dependence is the backdrop, the pre-given, pre-cognitive notion behind the ontological argument. IN other words, what Anselm tried to capture in his logical argument is felt by everyone, if they were honest, in a pre-cognitive way. In other words, before one thinks about it, it is this "feeling" of utter dependence. After one thinks it out and makes it into a logical arguemnt it is the ontological argument."Life world," or Labeinswelt is a term used in German philosophy. It implies the world of one's culturally constructed life, the "world" we 'live in.' Life as we expeirence it on a daily basis. The unity one senses in the life world is intuative and unites the experiences and aspirations of the individual in a sense of integration and belonging in in the world. As Heidegger says "a being in the world." Schleiermacher is saying that there is a special intuative sense that everyone can grasp of this whole, this unity, being bound up with a higher relatiy, being dependent upon a higher unity. In other words, the "feeling" can be understood as an intuative sense of "radical contingency" (int he sense of the above ontological arguments).He goes on to say that the feeling is based upon the ontological principle as its theoretical background, but doesn't' depend on the argument because it proceeds the argument as the pre-given pre-theoretical pre-cognitive regularization of what Anselm sat down and thought about and turned into a rational argument: why has the fools said in his heart 'there is no God?' Why a fool? Because in the heart we know God. To deny this is to deny the most basic realization about reality.

[1] "Urbie" (Scott Grosss) as we friends on Doxa Forums affectionately knew him, was brilliant, cleaver, hilarious, and true intellectual. He actually knew Schubert M,Ogden world famous theologian  who I studied with briefly at Perkins. Scott was assigned to drive him about while lectured at Clairmont in California. Scott was studding on his doctorate there with Charles Hartshorne. Scott was an expert i process theology andalso knew panpsyhism and he was the person who convinced me to write my book, Trace of God. He was a great guy he contributed a lot to my life I mourn his passing.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The new Proof for the existence of God:The Transcendental Signifier Argument

Galaxy - Wikipedia

The Argument:

1. Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose organizing principles (Ops)
2. The TS sums up all Ops
3. Modern Thought either rejects TS outright or takes out all aspects of mind.
4. Therefore, Modern thought fails to provide a rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe.
5. minds organize and communicate meaning

6. Therefore universal mind, offers the best understanding of TS

7Concept of God unites TS with universal mind therefore offers best explanation
for a view that is Rational, Coherent, and Meaningful (RCM).


(1) Any rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe must of necessity presuppose organizing principles (Ops)
OP 's make sense of the universe and explain hierarchies of conceptualization: effects need causes, conclusions are mandated by premises, meaning in language is organized by rules of grammar. (RCM (rational, coherent, and meaningful) = Hierarchical order).This premise is rooted directly in observation, a coherent view of the universe requires OPs, and observation. That a rational and coherent view requires a principle that organizes reality according to some aspect of logic or math should be obvious. That's really no different than saying to really understand things we need a logical coherent view. At this point the skeptic might assume that the argument is a design argument or that it is saying that “laws imply a law giver.” Jerome E. Bickenbach and Jackqueline M. Davis tell us that the argument “laws require a law giver” is the fallacy of equivocation.[1] Right they are, since scientists don't mean the term “laws” in the sense that early modern scientists such as Newton and Boyle meant it. They really meant a divine command that the universe must behave in a certain way. The term “law” is a hold-over from a former age. “The laws of physics, and other scientifically discovered laws of nature are principles formulated by scientists (not prescribed by lawmakers) in order to describe regularities and patterns observed in the natural world...while there may be a God this is not shown by taking the existence of laws of nature as evidence.”[2] Whether or not physical laws are evidence of God remains to be seen, but this argument is neither design nor laws imply a law-giver. First, it's not a design argument to the extent that the inference is not drawn from design per se. Design works through either fitness, function, or the resemblance to things we know are designed. Since it does turn upon order there is overlap with design, especially the latter kind (resemblance to known design). Yet the point of inference is not taken from resemblance to known design but to the all pervasive nature of necessary to contingent order 
Secondly, the argument is not based upon the assumption laws imply a law giver. That idea assumes that physical laws are a simple list of rules mandated by a God. That concept of God is based upon the Suzerain model. The argument does not assume a set of rules but a more organic relation. The point of inference does not turn upon a set but upon one central, simple, and elegant idea that frames and grounds the metaphysical hierarchy in a single all-encumpasing first principle. Since I don't assume that scientists speak of “laws of physics” in the same way we speak of “laws of traffic” or The U.S, Code Annotated, or Black's Law Dictionary, then there is no fallacy of equivocation. How I connect physical “law” to a prescriptive sense without reducing description to prescription will be dealt with in chapter four. 
Above I point to grammar as an example of a TS. The skeptic might argue that grammar is just cultural, that would be wrong. First of all it doesn't have to be innate to be an example. If language is just cultural constructs ideas might still be formed in their function from logical necessity (not the actual signifiers themselves but the concepts to which they point). An example would be the logical rule A cannot be non A. That is not arbitrary, but self evident. A thing cannot be other than itself. Thus the logical law marks the fact as a road map marks geography, but like a map the two might not always line up. In that case, if grammar is a purely cultural construct, its still an example of hierarchical conceptualization. Secondly, there is a lot of good evidence that generative grammar is genetic. Children of one month old can distinguish between different phonemes in a language, such as “b” and “p.” Researchers know this by reaction of the infant to the sound. A phoneme is a unit of sound in a word. Two such studies are one by Kuhl and one by Scott, et al.[3] More on this in a subsequent chapter. 
Western thought has always assumed Organizing principles that are summed up in a single first principle (an ἀρχή) which grounds any sort of meaning: the logos or the transcendental signifie(TS). When I have made this argument skeptics have argued that there is nothing in science called an “organizing principle.” One opponent in particular who was a physicist was particularly exercised about my use of this term. While there is no formal term such that scientists speak of the “organizing principles” along side laws of physics or Newtonian laws, they speak of organizing principles all the time. A google search resulted in 320,000,000 results.[4] On every page of this search we see articles by cell biologists, cancer researchers, environmental biologists. Mathematicians, physicists, and so on. Yes there are also articles by crack pots, new age mystics, people with all kinds of ideas. There is even a book by a physicist who argues that the scientific thinking of the poet and dramatist Johann Wolfgang Goethe is valid in modern terms of quantum theory. He talked about organizing principles.[5] An Article in Nature entitled “Organizing principles” discusses a famous experiment in developmental biology: in 1924 carried out by Hilde Mangold, a Ph.D. student in the laboratory of Hans Spemann in Freiburg. “It provided the first unambiguous evidence that cell and tissue fate can be determined by signals received from other cells…This experiment therefore demonstrated the existence of an organizer that instructs both neuralization and dorsalization, and showed that cells can adopt their developmental fate according to their position when instructed by other cells.”[6]vi 
M.J. Bissell et. al. Discuss malignancy in breast cancer. “A considerable body of evidence now shows that cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions are essential organizing principles that help define the nature of the tissue context, and play a crucial role in regulating homeostasis and tissue specificity.”[7] All objects in nature are connected to other objects. This can be demonstrated easily enough, as William Graham makes clear in discussing “Natures Organizing Principles.”[8]  He turns to ecosystems as an example. Fish in a school work by individually possessed set of common principles such that they act in unison without a leader. These are not evidences of God they are not a design argument. They merely serve to bring home the point there are organizing principles about. I know this general informal use of the term does not mean that the Ops I want to talk about exist. But it is clear there are plenty of structures that organize and guide the way things turn out we do not have an understanding of what organizes the OP. Yet modern science still seeks a logos or a TS that would bind them all together and unite them in one over arching principle. 
A skeptic could argue that there are self organizing structures in nature. The self organizing structure supposedly doesn't require an outside source to exist, that would defeat the principle of the necessity of organizing principles. Self organizing systems do exist, although they may not be truly self organizing. A self organizing system is one in which the organization is decentralized or distributed throughout the system. Examples include crystallization (snow flakes), swarms of bees or birds, or neural networks. There are two problems with trying to use self organizing against OP's. First, there are contradictions within the concept. self organizing is part of dynamic structures, but dynamic laws operate locally. They can't produce large structures (like a universe).[9] Moreover,

Extending the familiar notion of algorithmic complexity into the context of dynamical systems, we obtain a notion of “dynamical complexity”. A simple theorem then shows that only objects of very low dynamical complexity can self organize, so that living organisms must be of low dynamical complexity. On the other hand, symmetry considerations suggest that living organisms are highly complex, relative to the dynamical laws, due to their large size and high degree of irregularity.[10] 
Secondly, the term itself (“self organizing”) is a misnomer. Systems are not organizing themselves, they are being organized by physical laws and properties. As the Johns article points out self organizing systems are limited by “dynamical laws,” thus the prior conditions under which the system emerged (physical laws) is a limit on the system. An example of physical laws limiting self organizing is entropy.[11]   The Gershen and Heylighen article shows that according to the second law of thermodynamics entropy in an isolated system can only decrease, thus, “[self organizing] systems cannot be isolated: they require a constant input of matter or energy with low entropy, getting rid of the internally generated entropy through the output of heat('dissipation')..”[12]   John Collier finds that, “Self-organization requires an entropy gradient that is external. But this need contain no further organization...”[13]   He goes on to say that new “selves” can emerge within the system but as stated above it does depend upon external forces. The article deals with self organizing systems and questions of identity. He defines self organizing as “a process by which larger scale (macro) order is formed in a system through the promotion of fluctuations at a smaller (micro) scale via processes inherent in the system dynamics, modulated by interactions between the system and its surroundings..”[14]  Apparently even his definition of the process defeats the argument that self organizing is indicative of some kind of emergence from true nothingness. Some of the questions he explores include:

1) What is the self that organizes ? 2) Why is it a self ? 3) What is it for a process to be inherent to the system dynamics ? 4) What does it mean for interactions with the surroundings to modulate rather than determine or control ? Maturana holds that there are no satisfactory answers to the first two of these questions, if for no other reason than that the self that supposedly organizes does not exist at the onset of organization. Self-organization appears to require a sort of lifting oneself by the bootstraps without having even boots at the beginning. Self-organization thus appears to be an oxymoron, or at least a misnomer. Autopoiesis is a self-producing process that presupposes an organized self (Maturana and Varela, 1992 : 43ff).[15]  
Collier finds that Maturana and Varele are wrong, Autopoiesis does not explain the process of self organizing. The “new self” that emerges is changed enough to deserve the name self organizing, but it is not a process whereby a self creates itself apart from external forces. Of course we need not think of God interacting with new entities as each new process comes up. Clearly there is a law-like regularity that must be set up in advance of the effects it produces. We explore that law-like regularity in chapter four (are laws of physics descriptive or prescriptive?). Suffice to say self organizing systems do not negate the necessity of a TS 
skeptic who is a physicist pointed out to me that science doesn't recognize anything called an “organizing principle.” Yes it does, they just don't call it that. Sometimes they are called “laws of physics,” or “natural laws.” But the concept is not limited to laws. There is an organizing principle grounding and influencing anything organized. Alphabetical listings, political ideas against or for which the group needs to be organized, necessity and contingency, any principle which forms the basis for organizing something, but science recognizes this too. They are also called “causes.”

 (2) OPs summed up in TS

Op's can be categorized and understood in relation to a few key principles that describe their relation to each other, such as mathematics, language, thought, culminating in one overarching first principle or ἀρχή (are-kay) that makes sense of it all. Just reason might be said to make sense of thought. TS's are first principes and they vie for status each one as the first principle (TSED). 
I've already discussed the logos of the Greeks and the use made of that concept in various ways. Kant's categories and abstract principles that regulate our understanding of everything, which corresponds to Ops to some extent or perhaps transcendental signifiers. I spoke of Paul Davies and his assertion that laws of physics have replaced God in the works of modern physicists, and in his own ideal along those lines as well. There's another aspects in which modern physics sees a TS. In principle this concept of a single elegant idea that explains everything is what science has been working toward for years. John Horgan says of Steven Weinberg, “In his 1993 book Dreams of a Final Theory, he extolled particle physics as the culmination of 'the ancient search for those principles that cannot be explained in terms of deeper principles.' He predicted that 'the convergence of explanations down to simpler and simpler principles will eventually come to an end in a final theory.'[17]  A skeptic might question the scientific veracity or the idea of a single principle that reveals explanations built into the logical structure of nature. Yet in Dreams of a Final Theory, Weinberg tells us, “this is what our science is about: the discovery of explanations built into the logical structure of nature.”[18] David Deutsch a quantum physicist at Oxford produced a constructor theory that is a framework that unites all physical theories and eliminates the impossible in hopes of finding the basic principle that explains it all.[19] The concept of uniting theories and the meta law are organizing principles. The meta-law is a transcendental signifier, so where is the TS? That's the reality in the real world that these theories point to. The physicists are talking about things like gravity. The ideas in their minds that point to the TS are impersonal forces of nature; that single structure might well point to God and the physicists would have no way of knowing it or ruling it out. We have a couple of ways. One of them is to follow the logic of the argument. Clearly the premises are not ruled out by physics. 
I have used TS and OP in a seemingly interchangeable way and this may lead one to ask “which is it?” TS is a form of OP. I usually use OP in speaking of ideas that are known to be either naturalistic, or if constructed, the notion of something no one disputes. The latter might be bigotry (most people agree it exists), or that of freedom. The former might be a more easily demonstrated idea such as cause and effect. TS is more theoretical and might be metaphysical such as justice, or the absolute soul, God, or the Buddha mind. TS is an organizing principle but I tend to use the term of more theoretical ideas, or ideas not as easily demonstrated to which some may or may not give ascent. If there is an actual TS, it organizes the organizers, the OP's. The TS tends to be the next wrung up in the metaphysical hierarchy; yet since TS organizes it is an OP. 
The TS is necessary and cannot be abandoned. Even attempts to abandon it result in the adoption of new Transcendental signifiers that refer to to the perennial concept of the ultimate first principle. One example of this replacement theory is that of Derrida trying to break down ethics, the attempt leads to the establishment of a new TS for ethical paradigm, i.e., “differance.”[20] The goal of difference as the answer to hierarchy and becomes the new principle around which the ethical paradigm is structured. An example of imposing a new OP in science would be the paradigm shift. An example of imposing a new TS is the atheist abolishing God talk from her vocabulary and putting science in its place. Or Marx with the same motivation makes ideology his version of God or the TSED, the top of the metaphysical hierarchy.
Finally, TS as a term stands for the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. The actual thing at the top itself is the TSED, the object of belief to which all TS's point. In other words as transcendental signifiers point to one reality at the top, the transcendental signified. so any given transcendental signifier might be wrong, but there has to be a Transcendental Signified. The words that describe the reality may very but there is a reality there. That which is all pervasive and mutually exclusive is not necessarily part of the definition but it flows out of the nature of being the top of the metaphysical hierarchy. It is clear that for some examples of the TS it is exclusive, such as “God.”
We can understand this tendency of all OP's to be summed up in and explained by the TS as hierarchical ordering, This is what I call “metaphysical hierarchy,” the TS functions as the top of the Metaphysical hierarchy. This forms a major part of the argument because the TS is the best explanation for the hierarchy.

(3) Modern Thought rejects TSED
It would be more technically correct to say postmodern thought rejects TS. But modern thought may keep TS's such as reason but doesn't allow them to be connected to mind. I use the term “modern” here to mean contemporary, no reference to the academic schools. I've already described this process. They reject God but leave in place an organizing principle in terms of laws of physics as a mindless principle that can take the place of a creator. It is impossible to do without OPs, all attempts to do so have ended in establishment of a new organizing principles: such as the Derrida and ethics. We cannot organize without a principle of organizing. 
Modern thought either reduces the TS to laws of physics or rejects it out right but in either case fails to unite the grounding function of the TS in such a way as to explain a coherent hierarchical ordering in the universe with an understanding of what it means to be. I don't know who invented the term “transcendental signifier,” but Derrida took it over in a sense and made it famous. It actually refers to any universal concept in human understanding. There are so many TS's because it's not limited to one notion, but also because it refers to or includes the ultimate first principle. That means it's basically about the areas of reality of which we know so little, thus there are many different ideas about it. Yet the hierarchical nature implies a single first principle. There are many different ideas, God, the life force, the over soul, the Buddha mind, being itself, but they all point to a single first principle at the top, The discussion is always about which one: reason, logic, math, God.
Randal Rauser's Interview of me On this argument new
[1] Jerome E. Bickenbach and Jackqueline M. Davis, Good Reasons for Better Arguments: An Introduction To The Sills and  Values of Critical Thinking. Calgary: Broadview Press, 1996, 189. 
[3]Patricia Kuhl, “Early Language Acquisition: Cacking the Speech Code.” Nature reviews Neuroscience 5, (Nov. 2004) 831-843, doi:10.1038/nrn1533.
Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences and the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA.
Email: pkkuhl@u.washington.edu
See also: Sophie K Scott et al, “Categorical speech representation in human superior temporal gyrus. Is Categorical perception a fundamental property of speech perception?" Nature Neuroscience,(2010). 13: 1428-1432. 
[4]Google search, organizing principles in nature,https://www.google.com/#q=organizing+principles+in+nature accessed 5/3/16 
[5]Henri Bortoft, Wholeness of Nature of The Universe: Goethe’s Way Toward a Science of Conscious Participation in natureHerdon VA:Lindisfarne Books originally published by Steiner Books,1971, 1985, re worked version 1992, 69.
Henri Bortoft, (1938 – 29 December 2012) received undergraduate degree at university of Hull then did Postgraduate research at Beirbeck college. He studiedQuantum Physics with David Bohm. 
[6]Barbara Marte, “Milstone 1: Organizing Principles,” Nature.Org (july 1,2004) doi:10.1038/nrn1449   
Marte is senior editor Nature. 
[7]viiM.J. Bissell, D.C Radisky, and A. Rizki, “The Organizing Principle:Microenvironmental Influences In The Normal amd Malignant Breast.” Pub Med, NCB, Dec;70(9-10): 2002, 537-46. on line resource URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12492495 accessed 6:3/16 
[8]viiiWilliam Graham, “Natures Organization Principles,” Nature’s Tangled Web: The Art, Soul, and Science of a Connected Nature. Oct. 30, 2012, Online resource.http://www.freshvista.com/2012/natures-organizing-principles/ accessed 6/3/16. 
[9]ixRichard Johns, “”Self Organizations in Dynamical Systems,” Synthese, Volume 181, issue 2,( July, 2011) 255-275 
Johns is in the Dpartment of Philosophy, University British Columbia. 
[11]xiIbid., 258.
[12]xii Carlos Gershen and Francis Heylighen, “When Can We Call A System Self Organizing?” Advances in Artificial Life, Berlin Heidelberg: Springer, Volume 2801 of the series Lecture Notes in Computer Science 2003,
Gershen is from Mexico, he earned his Ph.D. from University of Burssels in interdisciplinary studies. He studies self organizing systems. 
[13]John Collier, “Self Organization, Individuation, and Identity,” Revue Internationale De Philosophie, 2004/2 (n 228) 151-172, 172.
John Collier is a philosopher at University of Natal. The University of Natalis in Durbin South Africa, it has now become The University of Kwazulu-Natal. Collier is from Canada, he has taught at MIT and published extensively on self organizing systems. 
[14]Ibid., 151.
[15]xv Huberto R. Maturana and Francisco J. Varele, The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of HumanUnderstanding. Boston: Sambhala,, 43ff. 
[16]xviCollier, “Self Organization...” op. cit. 
[17]xviiJohn Horgan, “Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg Still dreams of a final Theory,” Scientific American, (May 1, 2015) Graham isa marine biologist.
John Horgan was staff writter, A teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, Horgan is the author of four books, including The End of Science, 1996, re-published with new preface 2015; and The End of War, 2012, paperback published 2014. 
[18]xviiiSteven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: Scientists Search For the Ultimate Laws of Nature. New York: Vintage, reprint edition, 1994, 10. 
[19]xixZeeya Merali, ”A Meta-law to rule them all: Physicists Devise a Theory of Everything.” Scientific American, (May 26, 2014) online rfesource URL http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-meta-law-to-rule-them-all-physicists-devise-a-theory-of-everything/ accessed 9/20/15. 
[20]Derrida misspells “difference” for special reasons dealing with his theory “deconstruction.” Se chapter three on “the Derridian Background of the Argument