Monday, July 27, 2020

Mystical Experience, more than "getting happy."


A major philospher and friend of Brut Russell, Loren, makes these comments on the comment section in response to "Meaning and Truth."

Shouting "It's not a hallucination! It's not a hallucination! It's not a hallucination!" is a very bad argument, as is your waving away the serious epistemological problem that Bertrand Russell, Mark Vuletic, and I have tried to consider.

And becoming happy by believing something in no way indicates its truth. You could become very happy by believing that none of your miseries are any of your fault, blaming many of them on various conspiracies, but would your happiness indicate your faultlessness?

This is a hackney tactic of trying to hide the phenomena by re describing in ways the obscure what's important about it. I say RE results in "life transformation" she purposely reduces this to "getting happy" becasue the atheist can't face the facts or the truth that hundreds of studies demonstrate the superior nature of religious life. What I'm talking about is mystical experience, not getting happy. You can get happy when you have a bowl of soup and good sandwich. I'm talking about something that totally changes your live, removes your fear of death, increases your socio us consciousness, makes you into a totally giving person, can cure you of heroin and other drugs (14%) gives your life meaning so that you feel its totally worthwhile to live. I know many atheists wallow in despair you know I'm right. not all of them, course not. But many do. studies prove that religous people have less mental illness, less depression, better sense of self actualization.

she wants to reduce this "getting happy" because it's the only thing she can say. She does not have one single counter study. not one single study shows different.

Religious experience indicative of good mental health

The “new atheists” put forth the notion that all of religion itself is a form of mental illness. This is the impression many love to cultivate. There is no basis for it in the data whatsoever. The effects are varied but over the entire range of research they spell out a healthy well-adjusted whole person. The qualities mentioned in the research over and over again include: less dogmatic, less authoritarian, more socially conscious, are about people, happy, healthy, successful, self aware, self assured, find life meaningful, enjoy their work, strong ego, strong sense of self, more self actualized. All the studies mentioned to this point back this up. Mathes, Maslow, Wuthnow, Greely, Luckoff and Lue, Noble, Hood and all others mentioned. I will include a list at the end of this chapter, and a select bibliography in the indices cataloguing the studies that find mystical experience to have long-term positive effects. These are the characteristics of self-actualization.
Religious People are More Self Actualized

This is the finding of a vast body of work. Some studies show that “Peakers” (those who experience “mystical experiences” what I’m calling “RE” in this essay) are more self actualized than those who do not have these experiences. But there are also studies that show that any inkling of religious experience carried some degree of the same advantages. Four hundred studies show that participation (as well as the nominal experiences) produces many benefits, among them less depression and better mental health.

Dr. Michael Nielson, Ph.D.

"What makes someone psychologically healthy? This was the question that guided Maslow's work. He saw too much emphasis in psychology on negative behavior and thought, and wanted to supplant it with a psychology of mental health. To this end, he developed a hierarchy of needs, ranging from lower level physiological needs, through love and belonging, to self- actualization. Self-actualized people are those who have reached their potential for self-development. Maslow claimed that mystics are more likely to be self-actualized than are other people. Mystics also are more likely to have had "peak experiences," experiences in which the person feels a sense of ecstasy and oneness with the universe. Although his hierarchy of needs sounds appealing, researchers have had difficulty finding support for his theory."

We turn once again to Jayne Gackenback

In terms of psychological correlates, well-being and happiness has been associated with mystical experiences,(Mathes, Zevon, Roter, Joerger, 1982; Hay & Morisy, 1978; Greeley, 1975; Alexander, Boyer, & Alexander, 1987) as well as self-actualization (Hood, 1977; Alexander, 1992). Regarding the latter, the developer of self-actualization believed that even one spontaneous peak or transcendental experience could promote self-actualization. Correlational research has supported this relationship. In a recent statistical meta-analysis of causal designs with Transcendental Meditation (TM) controlling for length of treatment and strength of study design, it was found that: TM enhances self-actualization on standard inventories significantly more than recent clinically devised relaxation/meditation procedures not explicitly directed toward transcendence [mystical experience] (p. 1; Alexander, 1992)
Believers: less depression, mental illness, Divorce rate, ect.

The study by Gartner and Allen indicates that religious belief is associated with good mental health, less depression and so on:
"The Reviews identified 10 areas of clinical status in which research has demonstrated benefits of religious commitment: (1) Depression, (2) Suicide, (3) Delinquency, (4) Mortality, (5) Alcohol use (6) Drug use, (7) Well-being, (8) Divorce and marital satisfaction, (9) Physical Health Status, and (10) Mental health outcome studies...The authors underscored the need for additional longitudinal studies featuring health outcomes. Although there were few, such studies tended to show mental health benefit. Similarly, in the case of the few longevity or mortality outcome studies, the benefit was in favor of those who attended least 70% of the time, increased religious commitment was associated with improved coping and protection from problems."

This was based upon a review of social science studies. These were regular projects by social scientists published in the scholarly literature. All the researchers did was to read the literature and report the finds of these studies. In the past psychiatry has tended to assume what Freud assumed, that religion is pathology. This is no longer the case. The basic assumption in the mental health field today is that religion is positive, healthy, and a sign of functionality.
Long-Term Positive Effects of Mystical Experience

Research Summary

From Council on Spiritual Practices Website

"States of Univtive Consciousness"

Also called Transcendent Experiences, Ego-Transcendence, Intense Religious Experience, Peak Experiences, Mystical Experiences, Cosmic Consciousness. Sources:

Wuthnow, Robert (1978). "Peak Experiences: Some Empirical Tests." Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 18 (3), 59-75.

Noble, Kathleen D. (1987). ``Psychological Health and the Experience of Transcendence.'' The Counseling Psychologist, 15 (4), 601-614.
Lukoff, David & Francis G. Lu (1988). ``Transpersonal psychology research review: Topic: Mystical experiences.'' Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 20 (2), 161-184.

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Furthermore, Greeley found no evidence to support the orthodox belief that frequent mystic experiences or psychic experiences stem from deprivation or psychopathology. His ''mystics'' were generally better educated, more successful economically, and less racist, and they were rated substantially happier on measures of psychological well-being. (Charles T. Tart, Psi: Scientific Studies of the Psychic Realm, p. 19.)

Long-Term Positive Effects

*Say their lives are more meaningful,
*think about meaning and purpose
*Know what purpose of life is
Meditate more
*Score higher on self-rated personal talents and capabilities
*Less likely to value material possessions, high pay, job security, fame, and having lots of friends
*Greater value on work for social change, solving social problems, helping needy
*Reflective, inner-directed, self-aware, self-confident life style


*Experience more productive of psychological health than illness
*Less authoritarian and dogmatic
*More assertive, imaginative, self-sufficient
*intelligent, relaxed
*High ego strength,
*relationships, symbolization, values,
*integration, allocentrism,
*psychological maturity,
*self-acceptance, self-worth,
*autonomy, authenticity, need for solitude,
*increased love and compassion

Short-Term Effects (usually people who did not previously know of these experiences)

*Experience temporarily disorienting, alarming, disruptive
*Likely changes in self and the world,
*space and time, emotional attitudes, cognitive styles, personalities, doubt sanity and reluctance to communicate, feel ordinary language is inadequate

*Some individuals report psychic capacities and visionary experience destabilizing relationships with family and friends Withdrawal, isolation, confusion, insecurity, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, panic, restlessness, grandiose religious delusions

Links to Maslow's Needs, Mental Health, and Peak Experiences When introducing entheogens to people, I find it's helpful to link them to other ideas people are familiar with. Here are three useful quotations. 1) Maslow - Beyond Self Actualization is Self Transcendence ``I should say that I consider Humanistic, Third Force Psychology to be transitional, a preparation for a still `higher' Fourth Psychology, transhuman, centered in the cosmos rather than in human needs and interest, going beyond humanness, identity, selfactualization and the like.''

Abraham Maslow (1968). Toward a Psychology of Being, Second edition, -- pages iii-iv.

Studies dealing with mystical experience (Peak experience or “RE”) itself also find that this kind of experience is also a major factor in well-being. Greely in 74, Hay and Morisy (1978) “people who reported having intense religious experiences were significantly more likely to report a high level of psychological well being than those who did not experience transcendence. Greely’s ‘mystics’ were also more likely to be optimistic than were his “non mystics” and less likely to be authoritarian or racist.” “Transcendent experience may well lead toward a permanent transformation of the psyche in the direction of wholeness and health, Maslow (1970) Owens (1972) Wapnick (1972).

2) States of consciousness and mystical experiences
The ego has problems:
the ego is a problem.
``Within the Western model we recognize and define psychosis as a suboptimal state of consciousness that views reality in a distorted way and does not recognize that distortion. It is therefore important to note that from the mystical perspective our usual state fits all the criteria of psychosis, being suboptimal, having a distorted view of reality, yet not recognizing that distortion. Indeed from the ultimate mystical perspective, psychosis can be defined as being trapped in, or attached to, any one state of consciousness, each of which by itself is necessarily limited and only relatively real.'' -- page 665

Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

3) Therapeutic effects of peak experiences
``It is assumed that if, as is often said, one traumatic event can shape a life, one therapeutic event can reshape it. Psychedelic therapy has an analogue in Abraham Maslow's idea of the peak experience. The drug taker feels somehow allied to or merged with a higher power; he becomes convinced the self is part of a much larger pattern, and the sense of cleansing, release, and joy makes old woes seem trivial.'' -- page 132

Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Books.

Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration. Unpublished paper by Jayne Gackenback, (1992)

"These states of being also result in behavioral and health changes. Ludwig (1985) found that 14% of people claiming spontaneous remission from alcoholism was due to mystical experiences while Richards (1978) found with cancer patients treated in a hallucinogenic drug-assisted therapy who reported mystical experiences improved significantly more on a measure of self-actualization than those who also had the drug but did not have a mystical experience. In terms of the Vedic Psychology group they report a wide range of positive behavioral results from the practice of meditation and as outlined above go to great pains to show that it is the transcendence aspect of that practice that is primarily responsible for the changes. Thus improved performance in many areas of society have been reported including education and business as well as personal health states (reviewed and summarized in Alexander et al., 1990). Specifically, the Vedic Psychology group found that mystical experiences were associated with "refined sensory threshold and enhanced mind-body coordination (p. 115; Alexander et al., 1987)."

Studies have shown that religious satisfaction was the most powerful predictor of general happiness and acceptance of life. Prayer was also an important contributing factor. “As a result of their study the authors concluded that it would be important to look at a combination of religious items, including prayer, relationship with God, and other measures of religious experience to begin to adequately clarify the associations of religious commitment with general well-being."

Studies on religious participation

Psychiatrists assume religious experience Normative.
Dr. Jorge W.F. Amaro, Ph.D., Head psychology dept. Sao Paulo says that the unbeliever is the Sick Soul:

"A non spiritualized person is a sick person, even if she doesn't show any symptom described by traditional medicine. The supernatural and the sacredness result from an elaboration on the function of omnipotence by the mind and can be found both in atheist and religious people. It is an existential function in humankind and the uses each one makes of it will be the measure for one's understanding…." "Nowadays there are many who do not agree with the notion that religious behavior a priori implies a neurotic state to be decoded and eliminated by analysis (exorcism). That reductionism based on the first works by Freud is currently under review. The psychotherapist should be limited to observing the uses their clients make of the representations of the image of God in their subjective world, that is, the uses of the function of omnipotence. Among the several authors that subscribe to this position are Odilon de Mello Franco (12).... W. R. Bion (2), one of the most notable contemporary psychoanalysts,"

This relationship is so strong it led to the creation of a whole discipline in psychology; transactional psychology. The Transactional school is based upon the work of Abraham Maslow, who was the first modern researcher (since William James at the turn of the ninetieth into the twentieth century) to subject the outcomes of religious experience to modern social sciences research methods (late 60s to early 80s). Professor Neilson again:

"One outgrowth of Maslow's work is what has become known as Transpersonal Psychology, in which the focus is on the spiritual well-being of individuals, and values are advocated steadfastly. Transpersonal psychologists seek to blend Eastern religion (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc.) or Western (Christian, Jewish or Moslem) mysticism with a form of modern psychology. Frequently, the transpersonal psychologist rejects psychology's adoption of various scientific methods used in the natural sciences."

"The influence of the transpersonal movement remains small, but there is evidence that it is growing. I suspect that most psychologists would agree with Maslow that much of psychology -- including the psychology of religion -- needs an improved theoretical foundation."

There is a vast array of studies on other areas besides RE, studies that demonstrate the validity and advantage of participation in a religious tradition, or religious belief. This is not best evidence for the arguments because its not so much the trace of the divine as it effects and affects human life, but is a demonstration of the advantages of a belief. Nevertheless, because there is a link between belief, participation, and experience, especially if Maslow et al are right that we all experience God to some degree, we can assume that participation is a response to some degree of experience. So these studies are important for the religious a priori argument, and they serve as secondary back up for the co-determinate and Thomas Reid arguments.

Religion is positive factor in physical health.

Many studies confirm that religion is a powerful force in physical health. This is important because it seems that we are constructed as organisms to be religious. Religion seems good for us on many levels. I resist the urge to make a design argument, tempting though it is. Yet, the point is that religious experience is as trust worth as other forms of experience, in a general sense. One indication of that trustworthy nature is its healthy effect upon our bodies. Much has been said in the popular mainstream press, such as this Knight Ridder news release of 1998.

"Some suspect that the benefits of faith and churchgoing largely boil down to having social support � a factor that, by itself, has been shown to improve health. But the health effects of religion can't wholly be explained by social support. If, for example, you compare people who aren't religious with people who gather regularly for more secular reasons, the religious group is healthier. In Israel, studies comparing religious with secular kibbutzim showed the religious communes were healthier."Is this all a social effect you could get from going to the bridge club? It doesn't seem that way," said Koenig, who directs Duke's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health.Another popular explanation for the link between religion and health is sin avoidance."

"The religious might be healthier because they are less likely to smoke, drink and engage in risky sex and more likely to wear seat belts. But when studies control for those factors, say by comparing religious nonsmokers with nonreligious nonsmokers, the religious factors still stand out. Compare smokers who are religious with those who are not and the churchgoing smokers have blood pressure as low as nonsmokers. "If you're a smoker, make sure you get your butt in church," said Larson, who conducted the smoking study."

Even when we control for smoking religious belief still comes out ahead.
The most important factor in well-being
Argyle and Hill were studying religious experience. Researchers, who have a large database, deal with a lot of people, tend to use simple one-factor measures to measure happiness. Those with small samples, few people, tend to use multiple measurements. The findings indicate that those who are involved in religion report greater levels of happiness than do those who are not. Neilson sites a study of over 16,000 people in Europe, 85% of weekly churchgoers were “very satisfied” with life, only 77% among those who never went to church. This does not even measure belief among non-churchgoers. Neilson sites studies by Argyle and Hills, Inglehart (1990, just mentioned) and he also sites his own study.

Atheists cannot make this go away by pretending it's just a matter of "getting happy." they can't pretend the facts aren't as they are. the research is there, it's proven. We can argue about the conclusions to be drawn, but to deny the facts is merely sticking your head in the sand. shame shame shame on you "free thinkers!" you can't face the facts.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Is love Possible without God?

God's Love for Everyone |

 This argument is a probabilistic basis for assuming that belief in God offers a much more stable grounding for ethical axioms than does secular moral realism, or any other such assumption made by secular thought. It's not deductive and it's not a brash dogmatic assumption, but a probabilistic assumption based upon a couple of things that offer reason to think that we would not have the full expansion of the concept of agape without God. I defined agape as the will to the good of the other, or the desire to  seek the best for the other. That is a good reason to assume that love is a standard based upon divine character and given us by God as the basis of the moral. This assumes the imago die, it assumes the moral law is internalized within us as part of the image of God, via Romans 2:6-14.

No meta-ethical system makes more sense than Augustine-Fletcher love as the background of the moral universe. We are talking about agape, "God's love" or as Tillich puts it "the will to the good of the other." The materialist assertion that love is a feeling caused by brain chemistry is not even based upon the right concept of love. We are not talking about feelings but about a philosophy. That brain chemistry is involved in feelings connected to the concept is not proof that that is all there is to the matter.

Agape functions as grounding for moral axioms. The dictates of a moral system can be seen as pragmatic playing out of the ideal of agape. There are five major reasons why centering meta ethical grounding in agape is the best form of grounding for moral axioms:

The systems secularists and skeptics turn to can't ground moral axioms in anything better than social contract or fine feelings. Those systems usually based ethics, in either social contract, a nebulous utilitarian "good of the whole" that reduces moral thinking to a ledger sheet, or personal feelings, social sanction or genetics. All of these are inadequate because they don't actually ground the "ought." They don't really tell us why an action is moral, they stipulate that it's part of a value system or not. Why we should value the values is another matter.

(1) If assume that agape is God's character and that God but it in place as the basis of moral grounding for that reason, we have a moral system that is written into reality at the metaphsyical level.

(2) It does not require turning "is" into "ought," so do secular views, since the purpose of creation in spelled out by the creator.Rather I should say It offers a basis to understand how "is" can be "ought."

(3) grounding axioms in love/being/God provides the same kind of transcendent basis for truth that "spirit of the law" provides over the letter of the law. That establishes grace rather than rule keeping (and this is analogous somewhat to duty and obligation as meta-ethical basis rather than rule keeping). In other words it's not just a list of rules to keep but embodies an actual personal understanding of duty and obligation.

(4) this makes much more sense becasue it means the basis of right and wrong are written into the fabric of being by the mind that created the beings, and it means good is motivated by purpose (the purpose being love: which is the will to the well being of the other) rather than grounding it in social contract or fine feelings, and are relative and discordable.

(5) Humans are ends in themselves. Humans are the objects of God's love, thus we are to express God's love toward all people. We just see the individual as an end in herself rather than a mere means to an end.

 I am not arguing dogmatically that we just couldn't have evolved to be conscious, endowed with free will, and capable of love. I think perhaps we could. Yet it is not very likely for several reasons. It's just a reason to believe we might not be so, not a dogmatic instance or a claim to proof. Given all of that let's explore a couple of reasons to assume that God is the source of love and that agape might not be possible for us if we were merely accidents in a Godless universe with no purpose other immediate survival.

Why are we conscious? There is an explanatory gap in the nature of what is called "the Hard problem." There is no necessary reason why humans are conscious, not one immediately discernible.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: a peer reviewed Academic Resource

The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious.  It is the problem of explaining why there is “something it is like” for a subject in conscious experience, why conscious mental states “light up” and directly appear to the subject.  The usual methods of science involve explanation of functional, dynamical, and structural properties—explanation of what a thing does, how it changes over time, and how it is put together.  But even after we have explained the functional, dynamical, and structural properties of the conscious mind, we can still meaningfully ask the question, Why is it conscious? This suggests that an explanation of consciousness will have to go beyond the usual methods of science.  Consciousness therefore presents a hard problem for science, or perhaps it marks the limits of what science can explain.  Explaining why consciousness occurs at all can be contrasted with so-called “easy problems” of consciousness:  the problems of explaining the function, dynamics, and structure of consciousness.  These features can be explained using the usual methods of science.  But that leaves the question of why there is something it is like for the subject when these functions, dynamics, and structures are present.  This is the hard problem.
why aren't we like ants? Since nature is not progressive and there is no telos in evolution, the end sought is merely perpetuation of gene frequency not graduated or sublated success moving toward any promised goal, then there's no reason why we should not just be big ants. The ant option would be so much more efficient. Why should we bother expending energy on argument over what's true and how the world works? We could keep the species going and multiply our genes much better by just being drones and doing our jobs and not thinking. Why do we even have a moral sense?

If the point was just to say that God might be necessary for humans to have consciousness and a full blown capacity for the sort of love that grounds moral axioms, then  one could plug in the fine tuning argument. Since we are working against the odds, there's no reason to assume humans had to have consciousness, given its inefficiency it's really improbable. That could be added to the improbabilities of the fine tuning argument. If a life bearing universe is so very improbable, as the argument charges, then a life bearing universe that results in conscious beings who philosophize about love is even less probable.

 If we don't want to do that the argument by itself might work as a God argument. It would work in conjunction with the classic moral argument. The moral argument as I make it on argument list:


(1) Humans are possessed of moral motions which we find to be real and important. We cannot deny the senes of moral outrage over "evil" or the sense that one "ought" to do that which we find "good."

(2) Such moral motions can be understood as grounded in terms of behavior in our genetic endowment, but no explanation can tell us why we find them moral or how to justify them as "ought's."

(3) Genetic explanations only provide an understanding of behavior, they do not offer the basis of a moral dimension.

(4) Stoical contract theory offers only relativism that can be changed or ignored in the shifting sands of social necessity and politics.

(5) matters of feeling are merely matters of taste and should be ignored as subjective (the atheist dread of the subjective).

(6) God is the only source of grounding which works as a regulative concept for our moral axioms and at the same time actually explains the deep seated nature of moral motions.

We might put some more fiber into this argument by adding that our moral sense stems from a moral universe the background of which is this agapic sort of love, with a philosophical basis in the good of the other that can ground specific axioms. God is the better way of explaining the regulative concept, that's even enhanced by the agape aspect. It just so happens that the enhancement is better understood as rooted in God since the consciousness necessary to produce it is not necessary to our existence as humans.

Like the Philosophical zombie argument humans could be exactly as they appear now but without the conscious ability to think about these things, without a concept of love beyond just the butterflys and other feelings that tell us we like something. So the aspect that make sense of the feelings of moral outrage and motions that we doub "moral" are themselves best expalined as inheritance of God's creation and image. Thus it makes more sense to think that these moral motions are of divine origin and that they point to reality of the divine.

Of cousre the physicalist will charge that we are just assuming the value of the system from the outset and looking at the process backwards. Nature and evolution resulted in the kind of thinking we demonstrate as matter of course, survival of the fittest, random chance, and becuase it's our kind of thinking we establish special sense to it. That is, of cousre, a plausible way to see it, and I'm not trying to be dogmatic about the way it "has to be." Nevertheless, my system explains why we find moral outrage outrageous, why we value good over evil, what that means, why we love, and love is more than just butterfly and good feelings but might actually mean sacrificing ourselves for those we don't know or don't even like.If we are just imposing meaning then scinece must imposing order. While by way of looking at it may be out of fashion it's only one that really makes ethics work.

My Version of the Fine Tuning Argument.

Complete account of my version of classic
moral argument

Monday, July 20, 2020

about the Soul

Are souls real? What is a soul? - Quora

Bill Lauritzen, in  “Can a Machine Have a Soul,”[1] argues against the existence of the soul.It is my contention that  he has a simplistic and wrong notion of soul. He tells us what he means by the term: ”I am not talking about souls in a metaphorical sense, as the 'essence' of a person, I am talking about 'the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal .'"
 It is my contention that he has it backwards. The notion he does not deal with as the essence of a human is the right notion and the idea of an immortal aspect is not the preponderance of uses in the Bible.

There is, however, a  Caveat. The  Hebrew term used in OT for soul is  nephesh or Nefesh it has a multiplicity of meanings. One can find passages where it is interchangeable with spirit and where it is an mortal aspect  separate from the body. But as I say that's not the preponderance of meanings.

I have changed my view on this. I had gone in for the modernist view that soul is only metaphorical. I think it's proven the Bible teaches and it is clear from other sources that the ancient Hebrews believed in an immortal soul separate from the body. Richard C. Steiner, has written a whole book about it.[2]

Modern scholarshp has abolished this view. For example see James Tabor:
, , access date: December 14, 2013. "The ancient Hebrews had no idea of an immortal soul living a full and vital life beyond death, nor of any resurrection or return from deathHuman beings, like the beasts of the field, are made of "dust of the earth," and at death they return to that dust (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). The Hebrew word nephesh, traditionally translated "living soul" but more properly understood as "living creature," is the same word used for all breathing creatures and refers to nothing immortal."The textual evidence indicates a multiplicity of perspectives on these issues including probable changes during the centuries in which the biblical corpus developed." ;[3]
According to Steiner that is not true. I think he proves that the ancient Hebrews had a notion  of soul as an immaterial, immortal part of us, desperate from he body, Yet, the real issue is so what if ancients had that idea is that really the important thing about the soul according to the Bible?  In seeking an answer looks look at several ways the word is translated:
soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
  1. that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
  1. living being
  1. living being (with life in the blood)
  1. the man himself, self, person or individual
  1. seat of the appetites
  1. seat of emotions and passions
  1. activity of mind
  1. dubious
  1. activity of the will
  1. dubious
  1. activity of the character
  1. dubious[4]
We can see most of these uses in he Bible.There is a metaphorical meaning for soul as the  overall life of the person in relation to God.Genesis 2:7, KJV: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." .. You don't have a soul you are a soul. In that sense the term is used for the overall life of the individual in relation to God. Jeff Bennner tells us:
I had always assumed that only humans had a soul, but it was during a study of the word "soul" many years ago that I discovered that translations often influence how we interpret Biblical concepts. In Genesis 2:7 we find that man is a "living soul" and in Genesis 1:21 we find that animals are "living creatures". When I first started using a concordance to look up the original Hebrew words I was amazed to find out that these two English phrases were the translations of the same Hebrew phrase - nephesh hhayah. Why would the translators translate nephesh hhayahas "living soul" in one place and "living creatures" in another? It was this discovery that prompted me to learn the Hebrew language....
The soul is the whole of the person, the unity of the body, organs and breath. It is not some immaterial spiritual entity, it is you, all of you, your whole being or self.[5]

 Given that Steiner is right Benner is wrong in that last line ("It is not some immaterial spiritual entity,") but that still leaves room for both views to have their aspects of truth. The ancient Hebrews did see soul as   "some immaterial spiritual entity, and he word also functions as the whole person or the overall life in relation to God. Speaking of the life in relation to God this is why we speak of lost souls or saving your soul.

Let's say Lauritzen is right and the soul as immaterial aspect of man is primitive and based upon ignorance of nature, there is still this other use that is not touched by his criticism. Here is some Biblical support for that view.

2Pete 2:14 "They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed.  Accursed children!" Souls fallinging to sin are usteady thawould imploy the relation toGod is part of the natureo the soul. James 1:2121 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Saved soul or lost soul implies soul is something in relation to God. Lev. 17:11 "11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

[1] Bill Lauritzen, Abstract, “Can a Machine Have a Soul,” Journal of Personal Cyberconscienceness. Vol. 8, Iss 1 (2013) 30-39, 30-31.

[2]  Richard C. Steiner,  Disembodied Souls: The Nefesh in Israel and Kindred Spirits in the Ancient Near East, with an Appendix on the Katumuwa Inscription. Atlanta: SBL Press. 2015, 23 and 124,

SBL press is Society of Biblical Literature. Meaning he's a real scholar.

[3]  James Tabor, "What the Bible says about Death, Afterlife, and the Future." the Jewish Roman World of Jesus, originally published 1989,


Monday, July 13, 2020

Can Science really Prove The Basis of Modern Physics?

 photo European-lab-Close-to-finding-God-particle-NAN19NH-x-large.jpg

Realms Beyond

I've demonstrated in other posts,  that transcendent realms were not the original concept of supernatural. That is, however, the modern Western concept. Thus, we might as well ask, are there realms beyond our knowing, is this possible? If so, is there any possibility of our investigating them? Scientists have usually tended to assume that metaphysical assumptions about realms beyond are just out of the domain of science and can’t be investigated so they don’t bother to comment. Victor Stenger, however, wants to be able to assert that he’s disproved them so he argues that the magisteria do overlap. “There exists a widespread notion, promulgated at the higher levels of the scientific community itself, that science has nothing to say about God or the supernatural…”[1]
He sights the national academy of sciences and their position that these are non overlapping magisteria, “science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Weather God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.”2 Stenger disagrees. He argues that they can study the effects of prayer so that means they can eliminate the supernatural.

Two things are wrong with Stenger’s approach. First, he doesn’t use Lourdes or any other empirical record of miracles. He’s going entirely by double blind studies which can’t control for prayer from outside the control group; that makes such studies virtually worthless. So in effect Stenger is taking the work of people who try to empirically measure what is beyond the empirical, then when it doesn’t work he says “see, there’s nothing beyond the empirical.” That proves nothing more than the fact that we can’t measure that which is beyond measuring. Secondly, he doesn’t deal with the real religious experience studies or the M scale. That means he’s not really dealing with the empirical effects of supernature. I’ve just demonstrated good reason to think that supernature Is working in nature. It’s not an alien realm outside the natural, it’s not a miracle it’s not something that sets its self apart form the daily regular workings of the world. Supernature is of God but nature is of God. God made nature and he works in nature. We can tell the two apart by the results. Now I am going to deal with the other two issues, are there realms beyond the natural? Are there evidences of a form of supernatural in the world that stand apart from the natural such that we can call them “miracles?”

Are there realms beyond the natural? Of course there can be no direct evidence, even a direct look at them would stand apart from our received version of reality and thus be suspect. The plaintive cry of the materialists that “there is no evidence for the supernatural” is fallacious to the core. How can there be evidence when any evidence that might be would automatically be suspect? Moreover, science itself gives us reason to think there might be. Quantum physics is about unseen realms, but they are the world of the extremely tiny. This is the fundamental basis of reality, what’s beneath or behind everything. They talk about “particles” but in reality they are not particles. They are not bits of stuff. They are not solid matter.3 Treating particles as points is also problematic. This is where string theory comes in.
This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants: 10 spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.
So where are they then? One idea is that they are right under our noses, but compacted to the quantum scale so that they are imperceptible. "Hang on a minute", you might think,"How can you ever prove the existence of something that, by definition, is impossible to perceive?" It's a fair point, and there are scientists who criticize string theory for its weak predictive power and testability. Leaving that to one side, how can you conceptualize extra dimensions?4
There is no direct evidence of these unseen realms and they may be unprovable. Why are they assumed with such confidence and yet reductionsts make the opposite assumption about spiritual realms? It’s not because the quantum universe realms are tangible or solid or material they are not. Scientists can’t really describe what they are, except that they are mathematical. In fact why can’t they be the same realms?

Then there’s the concept of the multiverse. This is not subatomic in size but beyond our space/time continuum. These would be other universes perhaps like our own, certainly the size of our own, but beyond our realm of space/time. Some scientists accept the idea that the same rules would apply in all of these universes, but some don’t.

Beyond it [our cosmic visual horizon—42 billion light years] could be many—even infinitely many—domains much like the one we see. Each has a different initial distribution of matter, but the same laws of physics operate in all. Nearly all cosmologists today (including me) accept this type of multiverse, which Max Tegmark calls “level 1.” Yet some go further. They suggest completely different kinds of universes, with different physics, different histories, maybe different numbers of spatial dimensions. Most will be sterile, although some will be teeming with life. A chief proponent of this “level 2” multiverse is Alexander Vilenkin, who paints a dramatic picture of an infinite set of universes with an infinite number of galaxies, an infinite number of planets and an infinite number of people with your name who are reading this article.5

Well there are two important things to note here. First, that neither string theory nor multiverse may ever be proved empirically. There’s a professor at Columbia named Peter Woit who writes the blog “Not Even Wrong” dedicated to showing that string theory can’t be proved.6 There is no proof for it or against it. It can’t be disproved so it can’t be proved either.7 That means the idea will be around for a long time because without disproving it they can’t get rid of it. Yet without any means of disproving it, it can’t be deemed a scientific fact. Remember it’s not about proving things it’s about disproving them. Yet science is willing to consider their possibility and takes them quite seriously. There is no empirical evidence of these things. They posit the dimensions purely as a mathematical solution so the equations work not because they have any real evidence.8

We could make the argument that we have several possibilities for other worlds and those possibilities suggest more: we have the idea of being “outside time.” There’s no proof that this is place one can actually go to, but the idea of it suggests the possibility, there’s the world of anti-matter, there are worlds in string membranes, and there are other dimensions tucked away and folded into our own. In terms of the multiverse scientists might argue that they conceive of these as “naturalistic.” They would be like our world with physical laws and hard material substances and physical things. As we have seen there are those who go further and postulate the “rules change” idea. We probably should assume the rules work the same way because its all we know. We do assume this in making God arguments such as the cosmological argument. Yet the possibility exists that there could be other realms that are not physical and not “natural” as we know that concept. The probability of that increases when we realize that these realms are beyond our space/time thus they are beyond the domain of our cause and effect, and we know as “natural.” It really all goes back to the philosophical and ideological assumption about rules. There is no way to prove it either way. Ruling out the possibility of a spiritual realm based upon the fact that we don’t live in it would be stupid. The idea that “we never see any proof of it” is basically the same thing as saying “we don’t live it so it must not exist.” Of course this field is going to be suspect, and who can blame the critics? Anyone with a penchant for the unknown can set up shop and speculate about what might be “out there.” Yet science itself offers the possibility in the form of modern physics, the only rationale for closing that off is the distaste for religion.

All that is solid melts into air

This line by Marx deals with society, social and political institutions, but in thinking about the topic of SN it suggests a very different issue. The reductionst/materialists and phsyicalists assume and often argue that there is no proof of anything not material and not ‘physical” (energy is a form of matter).  The hard tangible nature of the physical is taken as the standard for reality while the notion of something beyond our ability to dietetic is seen in a skeptical way, even though the major developments in physics are based upon it. Is the physical world as tangible and solid as we think? Science talks about “particles” and constructs models of atoms made of wooden tubes and little balls this gives us the psychological impression that the world of the very tiny is based upon little solid balls. 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.

We keep talking about "particles", but this word doesn't adequately sum up the type of matter that particle physicists deal with. In physics, particles aren't usually tiny bits of stuff. When you start talking about fundamental particles like quarks that have a volume of zero, or virtual particles that have no volume and pop in and out of existence just like that, it is stretching the everyday meaning of the word "particle" a bit far. Thinking about particles as points sooner or later leads the equations up a blind alley. Understanding what is happening at the smallest scale of matter needs a new vocabulary, new maths, and very possibly new dimensions.
This is where string theory comes in. In string theory fundamental particles aren't treated as zero-dimensional points. Instead they are one-dimensional vibrating strings or loops. The maths is hair-raising, and the direct evidence non-existent, but it does provide a way out of the current theoretical cul-de-sac. It even provides a route to unifying gravity with the other three fundamental forces - a problem which has baffled the best brains for decades. The problem is, you need to invoke extra dimensions to make the equations work in string-theory and its variants: 10 spacetime dimensions to be precise. Or 11 (M-theory). Or maybe 26. In any case, loads more dimensions than 4.9
Particles are not solid; they are not very tiny chunks of solid stuff. They have no volume nor do they have the kind of stable existence we do. They “pop” in and out of existence! This is not proof for the supernatural. It might imply that the seeming solidity of “reality” is illusory. There are two kinds of subatomic particles, elementary and composite. Composite are made are made out of smaller particles. Now we hear it said that elementary particles are not made out of other particles. It’s substructure is unknown. They may or may not be made of smaller particles. That means we really don’t know what subatomic particles are made of. That means scientists are willing to believe in things they don’t understand.10 While it is not definite enough to prove anything except that we don’t know the basis of reality, it does prove that and also the possibilities for the ultimate truth of this are still wide open. To rule out “the supernatural” (by the wrong concept) on the assumption that we have no scientific proof of it is utterly arrogance and bombast. For all we know what we take to be solid unshakable reality might be nothing more than God’s day dream. Granted, there is end to the spinning of moon beams and we can talk all day about what ‘might be,’ so we need evidence and arguments to warrant the placing of confidence in propositions. We have confidence placing evidence; it doesn’t have to be scientific although some of it is. That will come in the next chapter. The point here is that there is no basis for the snide dismissal of concepts such as supernatural and supernature.

1 Victor Stenger, God and The Folly of FaithThe Incompatibility of Science and Religion. Amherst: New
York: Prometheus Books, 2012. 225.

Stenger, ibid, quoting National Academy of Sciences, Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science. Washington DC: National Academies Press, 1998, 58.

3STFC “are there other dimensions,” Large Hadron Collider. Website. Science and Facilities Council, 2012 URL:


George F.R. Ellis. “Does the Miltiverse Really Exist [preview]” Scientific American (July 19, 2011) On line version URL:
George F.R. Ellis is Professor Emeritus in Mathematics at University of Cape Town. He’s been professor of Cosmic Physics at SISSA (Trieste)

Peter Woit, Not Even Wrong, Posted on September 18, 2012 by woi blog, URL:

ibid, “Welcome to the Multiverse,” Posted on May 21, 2012 by woit

Mohsen Kermanshahi. Universal Theory. “String Theory.” Website URL:

9 STFC ibid, op cit.

10  Giorgio Giacomelli; Maurizio Spurio Particles and Fundamental Interactions: An Introduction to Particle Physics (2nd ed.). Italy: Springer-Verlag, science and Business media, 2009, pp. 1–3.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

A Thought in The Mind of God part 2

Image result for nebula in space

In this post I will deal mainly with two questions: (1) Is it possible that transcendent God could be "personal?" (2) How can God be Immanent and transcendent? (subtext: is this just trying to have it both ways?).I will not concern myself with proving God exists. I believe in God so I will assume God and then concern myself with understanding what I believe. There is no way to have certain knowledge in terms of the transcendent so we have to content ourselves with metaphor, everything points to meaning that we never really have.

What do I mean by "personal?" I use the phrase "concision" because because persona implies different things (see my last post on Monday). I do not necessarily mean ratiocination. Go does not need to think about things in the conventional sense yet can have personal awareness; will, volition,and understanding. I think of God as being the basis of consciousness  the source of the conscious. I don't say God has a mind I said God is mind. As such God's awareness is on a higher plane than our own. We can't understand the level of conscious  awareness at which God dwells.

There are many reasons to believe that God is "personal." I have three or four major arguments, I will name them I wont bother to discuss them at length just enough to make clear my idea:

(1) The origin of the universe requires decision making ability including indeterminacy (exhibited in fine tuning)

In other words the ability of the "creator" or whatever originating agent is responsible for reality to alter that reality as the need arises, even if that  agency is quantum interminably or is responsible or the indeterminacy.

(2) consciousness not reducible to brain chemistry.

The irreconcilability of consciousness is not proof of a transcendent consciousness it's a good reason to think there might be one.

(3) sense of the numenous--mystical experience.

The most important:
(4) Argument from temporal beginning.

This argumemt assumes that infinite causal regress is illogical [1]For this reason we must assume without God as eternal reality we start from a position of absolute nothing, not vacuum flux but real nothing since even vacuum flux must be explained, so we start with a real lack of anything. But since nothing is beyond time  there is no time, thus there could be no change, There could be no becoming since that would require something from nothing. This is a problem for atheists as well because they cannot explain how anything could come to be.[2]

In the quantum world...the world that the universe inhabited when it was less than a second old...many things work very differently. One of these is that time itself does not mean quite the same thing as it does to us in the world- at-large. Although we have no complete theory of the relevant physics, there are many indications from the mathematics that yield sound experimental results, that time itself may have ceased to have much meaning near the Big Bang event. This means that there was no 'time' as we know this concept 'before' the Big Bang. That being the case, the question of what happened before the Big Bang is now a question without any possible physical answer. The evolution of the universe has always been a process of transformation from one state to the next as the universe has expanded. At some point in this process, looking back at the Big Bang, we enter a state so removed from any that we now know, than even the laws that govern it become totally obscure to science itself. In the quantum world, we see things 'appearing' out of nothing all the time. The universe may have done the same thing. What this means to us may never be fully understood.[3]
Hawking tells us, "As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. ... he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe."[4]

The most reasonable answer is that universal mind can alter the rules at will. That is the only answer that makes sense given the rules we know and the assumptions we must make. Since I have argued that God is being itself, we can understand that if God is mind then mind and not energy/matter is the
basis of reality, This is what physicistAmit Goswami (U, Oregan) argues:
Amit Goswami: 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. [5]
The assumption is nothing can happen in a timeless void but that assumes physics, If we assume the core of reality is ran not by laws of physics but by a mind  that thinks up laws of physics then it is the imagination of mind not physics that runs things.

As to the swede question how could God possibly be in both worlds. We assume God creates time then obviously God is beyond time, But why assume that God can't stick his finger into the temporal setting? I also want to point out as Hawking documented this stuff goes back to St Augustine, I did not make it up.

It is not a matter of having it both ways it;s a matter of realizing what it would mean for God to be being itself, for mind to be the basis of reality. There are a couple of caveats: (1) Pantheism, (2)  determinism. Evangelicals are paranoid of pantheism. Any suggestion of God being in physical things is abhorrent to them. I don't know how they keep from  panic over of Eph, 4:10 "He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe,'" This is is not a pantheism. It's merely the realization that if God is the page upon which the line of time is drawn he is bigger than time and fills all physical reality in a couple of ways. That does not mean there's nay confusion between creature and creator. One thing it could mean is that Go is the strong force holding all reality together, that would not mean a blurred diction between creature and creator.

The deterministic question assumes that God as mind would have to be thinking about every move we make and thus predetermining what we do,that is not my concept. There are several alternatives to that idea within the range of God as mind that produces the universe out of thought, without assuming God must plan out all our thoughts or actions,  For one thing God could imagine the concept of autonomous world ran by automatic laws and humanity that evolves out of these laws then allow it to happen without having to  imagine it all. It's a matter of God thinking of the concept of autonomy. Since God doesn't need to think in terns of a series of steps or to contemplate a mental dialectic within himself.

 The bottom line on all of this is God;s transcendence, It's all beyond our understanding and all we say about is metaphor, but all we say is metaphor anyway.


[1] Joseph Hinman, "Against Inanimate Casual Regression," The Religious a priori, stationary website Christian apologetic, no date given
(accessed 3/7/18)

[2] Joseph Hinman, "Argument from Temporal Beginning" Doxa:Christia Thoughtin The 21st Century, List of God Arguments. Stationary website, no date given, no page number given,
(accessed 3/7/18)

[3] Sten Odenwald quoted in Hinman, Ibid. original Sten Odewald, "Before The Big Bang," The Astronomy Cafe, stationary website by Odenwald, (July 2017).
(accessed 3/7/18)

An even stronger quote by Odenwald speakimgof theeworld beyond the Big bang:

There were, presumably, no particles of matter or even photons of light then, because these particles were born from the vacuum fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime that attended the creation of the universe. In such a world, nothing happens because all 'happenings' take place within the reference frame of time and space. The presence of a single particle in this nothingness would have instantaneously broken the perfect symmetry of this era because there would then have been a favored point in space different from all others; the point occupied by the particle. This nothingness didn't evolve either, because evolution is a time-ordered process. The introduction of time as a favored coordinate would have broken the symmetry too. It would seem that the 'Trans-Creation' state is beyond conventional description because any words we may choose to describe it are inherently laced with the conceptual baggage of time and space. Heinz Pagels reflects on this 'earliest' stage by saying, "The nothingness 'before' the creation of the universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity..."

[4]Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988,8.

[5] Amit Goswami, "An Interview With Amit Goswami." TWM from Craig Hamilton What is Enlightenment.
(accessed 3/7/18)

notice that Goswami probably is pantheistic I am not endorsing his views,I think his initial setting up idea the basis of reality is mind as the basis is valid and I embrace that,I don't draw the same concussions from it he does.