Sunday, July 25, 2021

Review of: The Trace of God, by Joseph Hinman

I came accross a splended review of my book [1] ----------------------------------------The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief

Joseph Hinman

Reiew by Don McIntosh

Dallas: Grand Viaduct, 2014

418 pages

---------------------------------------- In The Trace of God, author Joe Hinman has presented a sophisticated argument for rationally warranted belief in God on the basis of religious and mystical experience. As an avid reader of all things theological, apologetic and scientific, I found The Trace of God both illuminating and compelling. It quickly became evident to me, as it should to any reader, that Hinman has done his homework (and then some) in order to lay out a fresh and powerful presentation of the old argument from religious experience to the existence of God for a twenty-first century readership.

Hinman constructs his case like a high rise, meticulously laying his foundation and building on it layer by layer. He thus begins with a very useful and interesting explanation of “Preliminary Concepts and Definitions,” introducing readers to technical concepts (the “religious a priori,” religious experience and mystical experience), found throughout the book but not likely to be encountered often outside the fields of theology, psychology or sociology. This is followed by a discussion of his “Decision Making Paradigm,” one tailored for the subject at hand: Given that God is (by definition) not an object of empirical knowledge, we must decide whether belief in God (as opposed to empirical confirmation of God) is rational. Hinman proposes that in principle the evidence of religious experience is sufficient to meet a prima facie burden of proof – that is, on the strength of these experiences belief in God should be deemed rationally warranted until and unless someone presents reasons or evidence to overcome the warrant. In the process he offers a keen analysis of Thomas Kuhn’s depiction of scientific revolutions and an insightful critique of the logic behind a concept often used (and abused) by science-minded naturalists: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

From there specific arguments are presented, of two distinct types: “the argument from co-determinate,” and “the argument from epistemic judgment.” The argument from co-determinate is roughly analogous to an inference from footprints in the snow to people having been present recently. Evidence of God’s activity in the form of very basic and culture spanning religious experiences leaves a psychological imprint upon the human psyche, leaving recipients of the experience in turn understandably, and quite rationally, inclined to believe in God as a result. This, essentially, is the trace of God. Experience of the numinous – of the holy, transcendent, awe- and fear-inspiring presence of God – has been recorded at all times and cultures, and therefore constitutes empirical grounds for belief. Moreover, these experiences confer universally beneficial effects upon those who have them: an enhanced psychological outlook, physiological health, and hence overall well-being. The related argument from epistemic judgment concerns the reliability and validity of the experiences reported. These experiences are consistent in character, regular in occurrence, and shared by a majority of people. And again the effects upon the persons who have them are demonstrably and overwhelmingly positive.

Having presented the arguments, Hinman bolsters those arguments by revisiting the studies used to derive the data for human religious experiences. Here the book takes a decidedly technical turn, examining the criteria for identifying religious and mystical experience, then the methodology chosen to elicit and record human responses to those experiences, for a large and wide-ranging number of studies. This for me was the least interesting portion of the book, but for the serious-minded atheists Hinman intends to challenge it may be the most important. By carefully describing the empirically focused instruments and methods used to collect the data, Hinman preempts any objection to the effect that the argument from religious experience can be reduced to so much unscientific, subjective tale-swapping. Along the way various other objections are considered and rebutted, e.g., that emotions are unreliable indicators, or that religious experience is "mental illness."

The way I see it, the remainder of the book consists of mopping-up operations in the form of rebuttals to actual or potential objections and counterarguments. This includes a review and defense of the idea of “religious a priori” as a rational default position for believers to take. With direct experiences of God at hand believers have “no need to prove” – that is, no burden to justify – their faith, either to themselves or to others. Also in this part of the book is a critique of Wayne Proudfoot’s skeptical arguments against the religious experience inference to theism, which proceed from a faulty assumption that the experiences are purely subjective and ineffable. This is followed by consideration of various other forms of “alternate causality” other than the presence of God: brain chemistry, as postulated by researchers like Michael Presinger (this recalled a fascinating online debate I had many years ago now involving what we called the “God module” part of the brain); the effects of drugs; evolutionary mishaps; and the like.

Reading The Trace of God was for me decidedly positive. This is not to say that the book will be a page-turner for everyone. The sheer richness of the material is difficult to digest in places, if well-researched and erudite, and the presentation almost unfailingly methodical. Those accustomed to popular-level inspirational writing, theology or apologetics will need to buckle down and concentrate to take in the information and appreciate the arguments. And whereas in the interest of disclosure I should mention that Hinman is a friend of mine, I should also mention that I do not agree with everything he has to say in this book – particularly his take on New Testament atonement and soteriology. Still, he comes close to my own view with this: “…(T)he universal nature of mystical experience does not invalidate either religious truth in general or the Christian tradition. God is working in all cultures, and what he’s doing in all the cultures of the earth is moving people toward Christ” (p. 365). Amen.

All in all, this book has more than earned its place on my shelf. Much like the life-transforming religious experiences it describes with such meticulous care, The Trace of God left me with not only better informed, but with a strong desire to seek God in my experience and to share the good news of that experience of God with others. For this believ
er that makes The Trace of God a worthwhile spiritual and intellectual investment.

[1] Don McIntosh,"Review of: The Trace of God, by Joseph Hinman"Gerizim publishing, (2018)

Monday, July 19, 2021

scientific doubt vs religious faith: revisiting and old dispute

I came across an old blog post of mine from 2009. The post itself was not what I was drawn to but one of the comments. The comments by an anonymous atheist were of a nature easily answered. I think my answers were good as far as they went. Yet I negated their effectiveness with anger and insults. The heat of rhetorical battle and the abuse of atheists took their toll on my psyche. Here is what I wish I had said. I don't think it's wasted because this is a philosophical issue that cuts to the heart of the conflict with atheistic doubt.

Anonymous Atheist said... Wow, you sure write a lot, but don’t say much. There is truth, and that truth lies in the material world, and science is the only way to find that truth. All the philosophical notions in all the minds of all the philosophers mean nothing unless they are grounded in material reality, all else is just the endless gibberish of the human mind talking to itself, or a collection of human minds talking to each other. All of our supposed understanding exists only within human minds. This includes the supposed laws of the universe, i.e. gravity, atomic force, the behavior of light etc. The universe simply behaves as it does because … it does. We are just building models in our heads so we can think we are making sense of it.

This is not profound. Everything we know and perceive is filtered through human consciousness. Holy cogito Batman, we've known this since Descartres. That fact cannot be used to disprove the reality of God because the atheist is bound to accept the notion that there is a reality external to the human mind and we can know something of that reality. Otherwise the atheist must give up science and resort to mysticism or solipsism.

AA:All of our ideas about gods and spirituality exist only in the human mind as well. Regardless of your claims that there is any actual proof for god, it doesn’t exist.

All our ideas about matter and energy only in the human mind as well.By the logic of his argument,therefore,regardless of science's claims that there is any actual proof for energy and matter, it doesn’t exist.

AA:The concept of gods exists only within our heads. You can’t offer any more substantial evidence for your particular idea of gods than any other’s evidence of theirs.

yes of course we can because some ideas are more logical than others. Being in the mind desn't mean an idea is indefensible. Moreover . He can't prove a reason to see materialism as the external reality and not an idea involving one of spirit and matter.The proof for a materialistic external reality must come through human perception and is, therefore, not validated or proovable by the logic of his argument

AA:All of the output of all apologists is just so much detailed, convoluted rambling trying to explain the details of something that doesn’t exist. If all humans were to suddenly die off, the gods would die with them, as would the laws of the universe. The universe, however, would not be affected in the least.

Ditto science. notice he affrms there is an extrenal universe and yet how can he prove it apart from human perception?

AA:Man seems to have some inherent need to create supernatural causes for natural occurrences. Lot’s of ink has been spilled as to why this is, but just because so many are affected by the phenomenon, doesn’t make it true.

Need doesn'tmake it false either, so it must be irreluant

As has been pointed out by a philosopher who is grounded in reality, Daniel Dennet, we believe in belief.

Except atheists who seem to believe in not believing. In the modern world we have identified virtually all of the causes of things that occur around us, which should have freed us from our primitive superstitions.

sorry that is highly fallacious! We have barely scratched the surface of understanding our world. There is much more to go. Here are 10 major concepts atheists take as gospel which we can't prove or don't understand.

(1)Dark matter not proven

(2)Gravity, no definitive proof as to what causes the attraction of mass over distance.

(3)the existence of the multiverse

(4)Cause of the unified field

(5)the nature and definition or consciousness

(6) Can't prove string membranes exist

(7)why we sleep and dream

(8) the hard problem of conscioisness

(9) the cause of mystical experience

(10) case of the image on the shroud of Turin

Science is not about proving things, it's about disproving things(that is to say testing hypothesis).There is no science that disproves God.

This[modernity freed us from our primitive superstitions] has not happened, in a large part, because the purveyors of religious and spiritualistic beliefs maintain the structure of those superstitions.

He's already disproved his argument because it comes to us from the human mind. He has no more extra human proof of no God than i have for God.

In many cultures, such as ours, we are awash in these superstitions from birth. The idea of gods is pushed as the default truth, when the real default should be no gods, since there is no evidence for any.

Of course there's evidence for God. Remember above his argument is that evidence for God is only in the mind. Bit his knowledge of science is also in the mind.That's moot.He has no logical basis for the claim that there is no reason to believe in God. Of course he does not know my reasons for belief.see my eidence [2]

Most people in our culture have been exposed to the notion that God is watching you, and if you sin you will burn in hell, or at least that sinning, whatever that is, will make God mad.

That is a pathetically childish notion of religion.Reducing religion to superstition is just an ideological ploy. Science has its ideological side. Religion has its logical and complex side

I find it difficult to believe that you were really the atheist you claim to have been, although saying you’re an atheist does mean you actually believe in a rational world. I know that since I have cast of the blinders of belief and faith, the world is a much more understandable place and I cannot see any reason to ever change my mind.Red Mann

He finds it hard to believe that one can have experience that leads one to think other than he does. Welcome to the adult world.No aspect of logical or scientific thought is denied me by my faith and my faith offers a dimension he doesn;t understand.

[1] Joseph Hiinman, "Answerto Aisti Cline," Metacrock's blog(feb 5,2009)

[2] My warrant for belief page on Religious A prioi

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Politics and the Distortion of Christian Values.

Politics distorts the values that motivate it. Eventually solidarity with the group and revenge dominate the ideals that motivated political action. The ideals recede into the background. Evangelicalism is a product of the south. It's notions of justice were forged in light of the slave trade and it's notions of love were rationaliztions for its raw poloticcal instincts. Let us note the way Christ's commands to love, especially love of enemies, have become distorted.
The results from a recent poll published by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life ( reveal what social scientists have known for a long time: White Evangelical Christians are the group least likely to support politicians or policies that reflect the actual teachings of Jesus. It is perhaps one of the strangest, most dumb-founding ironies in contemporary American culture. Evangelical Christians, who most fiercely proclaim to have a personal relationship with Christ, who most confidently declare their belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, who go to church on a regular basis, pray daily, listen to Christian music, and place God and His Only Begotten Son at the center of their lives, are simultaneously the very people most likely to reject his teachings and despise his radical message.[1]
He points to militarism, draconian criminal justice, hatrod of the poor and lionizing the rich.
Jesus was very clear that the pursuit of wealth was inimical to the Kingdom of God, that the rich are to be condemned, and that to be a follower of Him means to give one’s money to the poor. And yet Evangelicals are the most supportive of corporate greed and capitalistic excess, and they are the most opposed to institutional help for the nation’s poor — especially poor children. They hate anything that smacks of “socialism,” even though that is essentially what their Savior preached. They despise food stamp programs, subsidies for schools, hospitals, job training — anything that might dare to help out those in need. Even though helping out those in need was exactly what Jesus urged humans to do.[2]
Examples of co opted values, according to Sean Mcelwee,  include:

The verse: "When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." - Leviticus 19:33-34.[3]
Yet, as he points out the evangelicals oppose the imigration bill, rampage against the poor who desperately leave their homes to seek life sustaining employment, and they rationalize keeping kids in cages.[4]


"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." - Matthew 19:24.

Mcelwee points out:
Because the only thing fundamentalists dislike more than immigrants is poor people. Seriously. Just this year, Tea Party congressman Stephen Fincher explained why he thought the government should cut food stamps entirely, “The role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take care of each other, but not for Washington to steal from those in the country and give to others in the country.” Michelle Bachmann has also made a similar statement. The entire Tea Party movement is based on the idea that a huge portion of Americans are “takers” who suck the lifeblood out of the economy.[5]
as John Gehring points  out:
Too many white Christians sacrifice the gospel’s radical solidarity with the poor and oppressed with comfortable, self-serving ideologies. Prosperity gospel preachers affirm the cult of consumerism and individualism. Evangelicals rally behind political leaders who make a holy trinity out of tax cuts for the wealthy, attacks on social safety nets and anti-government propaganda.[6]
We can see the upshot in the way conservatuvee Christians blame the poor themselves for their poverty rather than the system or their circumstances. In  a 2016 study by the Public Religion Research Institute we find:
Christians, the study found, are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on individual failings than Americans who are atheist or have no specific religious affiliation. White evangelical Christians, who voted overwhelmingly for President Trump and continue to be some of his most steadfast supporters, are especially wedded to this worldview. Half of white Catholics also cited lack of effort — read: laziness — rather than difficult circumstances as the primary reason why people are poor. Less than a third of African-American Christians agree.[7]
What is the solution? It seems that politics dreches one in muck and distorts our view of the world, obscuring Christ's clear teachings. Shall we declare politics  too worldly for Christians? That would also be to ignore human suffering. Ignoring people's pain is to ignore Jesus' teaching. I think the only remedy is the litmus test "is your political stand based upon your own wordly comfort?" Only if we are willing to give and to get out of the comfort zone can we obey the gospel.


[1] Phil Zuckerman and Dan Cady, "Why Evangelcals Hate Jesus,"Huffpost, (03/03/2011 10:11 am ET Updated May 25, 2011)

[2] Ibid.

[3]Sean Mcelwee, "5 ways Fundamentalsts Mistreat the Bile ," Salon, (AUGUST 6, 2013)

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6]John Gehring, "What is Wrpg woth White Chrstians?" Religion News Service, (August 10, 2017).

[7] Ibid

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Hartshorne's Modal Argument

What follows is one of the most challenging subjects you will ever hear about. It is the best way to get a head ache, but I think it proves the existence of God. The problem is it requires a very specialized background to understand it. First you have to understand modal logic.

Modal Logic is so called because it turns upon the use of so called "modal operators." It's called "modal" because it is the logic of modes of being. "modes" as in what type of existence something exits in, whether it is dependent upon other things, whether it can cease or fail to exist and so forth. The modal operators are "necessity," "contingency" "impossibly," "possibility."

Necessity and contingency lie at the base of our modern understanding of cause and effect. They come from scholastic notions of logic, but the distinction between the notion our modern notions of c/e and the scholastic ones in the middle ages is not that great. The scholastic had more levels of cause, efficient cause, final cause and several others. But one could everything we have done in modern science using the scholastic ideas of c/e.

Necessity doesn't mean has to exist. It doesn't mean God is necessary to the existence of the world (except in so far as if God exists then of closure God is necessary to the world as creator--without God there would be no world).The modal argument does not begin with the assumption that God has to exist. It begins with the assumption that there is a valid distinction between necessity and contingency, which there must be. It proceeds along the lines of hypothetical consequence that obtain from different scenarios of God's existence. It concludes that is necessary. But by "necessary" it means not contingent, or not dependent upon something else for its' existence.

This is often misconstrued by atheists and taken to mean the argument proceeds from God's existence as an assumed first premise. This is not the case, the first premise is either/or. Either God's existence is necessary or it is impossible. This allows for the possibility that there is no God. So the argument does not begin by "defining God into existence."

Necessity essentially not contingent, it also conveys the idea of he can't cease or fail to exist, stemming from his eternal nature.

Contingent means the opposite: that a thing is dependent upon a prior thing for existence, or that it could cease or fail to exist.

Impossible means logically impossible, something in the structure of the idea contradictions, such as square circles.

One of the sore spots that atheists get stuck on is the idea that God cannot be contingent. They will always leap to the conclusion that this is defining God into existence, because they don't understand the concept of God. God, by the nature of the concept, carries certain parameters just as the existence of any human assumes humanity, or the existence of any tree assumes that the tree in question is a plant. To have to define that God is not contingent should not even come into it. The idea of God is that of eternal creator of all things. Thus God cannot cease to exist and cannot be dependent upon anything (or he wouldn't be the creator of all things). Atheists usually assume that all knowledge has to be empirical. they will argue this is defining God into existence. maybe God is contingent.


Close to Hartshorne's version

1. God is either necessary or impossible.
2. God can be conceived without contradiction.
3. Whatever can be conceived without contradiction is not impossible.
4. God is not impossible.
5. God's existence is a necessity (from 1-4, not contingent or impossible means necessary)
6. If God is necessary, then God exists.
7. Belief in God's existence is warranted

About Hartshorne

Hartshorne Lived to be 103, at the time of his death in the Fall of 2000, he was known as "the greatest living Metaphysician." Hartshorne was one of the major forces in the "back to God" movement in Philosophy (a term coined by Christianity Today in a 1979 article. His first and greatest calim to fame is as the second most influential voice in process philosophy, along with Alfred North Whtiehead, but he is also credited as the man who brought the Ontological argument back from ignominious defeat by Kant almost two centuries earlier. Hartshorne was also a recognized authority on birdsong, and an authority on bycicles, having never driven a car a single time in his centogenerian lifespan. Hartshorne devoted the last years of life to waging a letter's to the editor campaign to advocate social issues such as medical care.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Answering 'I m Skeptical's" comments on the fine turning argument

FT only takes fitedness as a basic assumption but it does not stop there. It says we have numbers that show a life bearing universe is extremely improbable.

IAS:Two problems with the probability-based fine-tuning argument:

1 - There isn't a scientist, astrophysicist, or anyone else on this planet who actually has the information needed to make a realistic probability estimate. It's nothing more than a wild guess.

that is Bull shit, you are playing off of arguments that say there's empirical proof. That is far far cry from saying it's a wild guess. Lots of atheists scientists take the argument seriously
extended answer: Yewimply iorsthedomnettioI presentedi te ai peoce: Howard A. Smith is a lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy and a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

The first result — the anthropic principle — has been accepted by physicists for 43 years. The universe, far from being a collection of random accidents, appears to be stupendously perfect and fine-tuned for life. The strengths of the four forces that operate in the universe — gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions (the latter two dominate only at the level of atoms) — for example, have values critically suited for life, and were they even a few percent different, we would not be here. The most extreme example is the big bang creation: Even an infinitesimal change to its explosive expansion value would preclude life. The frequent response from physicists offers a speculative solution: an infinite number of universes — we are just living in the one with the right value. But modern philosophers such as Thomas Nagel and pioneering quantum physicists such as John Wheeler have argued instead that intelligent beings must somehow be the directed goal of such a curiously fine-tuned cosmos.
C. Scientists admit fine tuning is a problem for a naturalistic view

One of the three co-authors of inflationary theory, Andrei Linde, sketches out the problem of fine tuning that he takes very seriously. Inflationary theory was concocted to get around fine tuning.

Andrei Linde,Scientific American. Oct 97

......(1) flatness of Universe

"...flatness of space. General relativity suggests that space may be very curved, with a typical radius on the order of the Planck length, or 10^-33 centimeter. We see however, that our universe is just about flat on a scale of 10^28 centimeters, the radius of the observable part of the universe. This result of our observation differs from theoretical expectations by more than 60 orders of magnitude."

......(2) Size of Universe--Plank Density

"A similar discrepancy between theory and observations concerns the size of the universe. Cosmological examinations show that our part of the universe contains at least IO^88 elementary particles. But why is the universe so big? If one takes a universe of a typical initial size given by the Planck length and a typical initial density equal to the Planck density, then, using the standard big bang theory, one can calculate how many elementary particles such a universe might encompass. The answer is rather unexpected: the entire universe should only be large enough to accommodate just one elementary particle or at most 10 of them. it would be unable to house even a single reader of Scientiftc American, who consists of about 10^29 elementary particles. Obviously something is wrong with this theory."

......(3) Timing of expansion

"The fourth problem deals with the timing of the expansion. In its standard form, the big bang theory assumes that all parts of the universe began expanding simultaneously. But how could all the different parts of the universe synchromize the beginning of their expansion? Who gave the command?

......(4) Distribution of matter in the universe

"....there is the question about the distribution of matter in the universe. on the very large scale, matter has spread out with remarkable uniformity. Across more than 10 billion light-years, its distribution departs from perfect homogeneity by less than one part in 10,000..... One of the cornerstones of the standard cosmology was the 'cosmological principle," which asserts that the universe must be homogeneous. This assumption. however, does not help much, because the universe incorporates important deviations from homogeneity, namely. stars, galaxies and other agglomerations of matter. Tence, we must explain why the universe is

so uniform on large scales and at the same time suggest some mechanism that produces galaxies." ......(5) The "Uniqueness Problem"

"Finally, there is what I call the uniqueness problem. AIbert Einstein captured its essence when he said: "What really interests ine is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." Indeed, slight changes in the physical constants of nature could have made the universe unfold in a completeIy, different manner. ..... In some theories, compactilication can occur in billions of different ways. A few years ago it would have seemed rather meaningless to ask why space-time has four dimensions, why the gravitational constant is so small or why the proton is almost 2,000 times heavier than the electron. New developments in elementary particle physics make answering these questions crucial to understanding the construction of our world."
\\ D, Scientists confirm fine tuing while trying to eliminate it.

Now Linde is confident that the new inflationary theires will explain all of this, and indeed states that their purpose is to revolve the ambiguity with which cosmologists are forced to cope. His co-author in inflationary theory. Physicist Paul Steinhardt, had doubts about it as early as his first paper on the subject (1982). He admits that the point of the theory was to eliminate fine tuning (a major God argument), but the theory only works if one fine tunes the constants that control the inflationary period.

John Horgan, “Physicist slams Cosmic Theory he Helped Conceive,” Scientific American Blogs, December 1, 2014. on line, URL accessed 10/5/15. Horgan interviews Steinhardt. “The whole point of inflation was to get rid of fine-tuning – to explain features of the original big bang model that must be fine-tuned to match observations. The fact that we had to introduce one fine-tuning to remove another was worrisome. This problem has never been resolved."

IAS:2 - The actual probability doesn't matter, anyway. All it takes is one. One planet in all the universe that happens to be suitable to produce life as we see it - and here we are.

That is total bs and shows you don't understand the argument. One proves nothing we need to know the hit rate. The fewer examples the less probable, you are begging the question Extension

(1) If we assert that one example will do it then this unierse might as well be that example. But that is begging the question since it assumse the position he defends as a proof of itself.

(2) He assserts we have no eprocal [rppf bit he hasnomefor odeas as baocto his iew as evolution.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Interview by Randal Rauser: Hinman's Deridian argument

Rauser interviwed me and posted on his blog January 18, 2019.

Home of progressively evangelical, generously orthodox, rigorously analytic, revolutionary Christian thinking (that's what I'm aiming for anyway)

Title of interiew: "God in a Transcendental Signifier: A Conversation with Joseph Hinman" January 18, 2019.

RR: A few months ago, I published an article on “The Top Five Problems with Contemporary Christian Apologetics.” Number 5 was “Lack of Imagination”: in short, among contemporary apologists there is an inordinate focus on a small number of arguments (e.g. the Kalaam; the argument from cosmic fine-tuning) at the expense of countless underutilized arguments to say nothing of still other arguments yet to be imagined.

That’s one reason I appreciate the work of Joseph Hinman. Mr. Hinman has an MTS from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and has studied at the doctoral level at the University of Texas at Dallas. And he quite deliberately seeks to explore underexplored and wholly new avenues of argument. Consider, for example, our recent conversation on his argument for God from mystical experience.

In this article, we take up a second argument for God that Mr. Hinman has been developing, one that proceeds from what he calls transcendental signifiers.

RR: Joe, thanks for joining us for another discussion in the philosophy of religion. This time out we’re going to discuss your argument for God from transcendental signifiers. I suspect a good place to begin is with your concept of a transcendental signifier. When I first read that term I thought of C. Stephen Evans’ argument in his book Natural Signs and Knowledge of God. Evans argues that arguments for God’s existence are based on so-called “natural signs” which are non-coercive pointers to the reality of God. As such, these signs provide the intuitive appeal for various arguments for God’s existence. Is that what you mean when you refer to transcendental signifiers? Or is your concept different?

JH: You would think so, since he’s just down the road in Waco, I’m up here in Dallas. There is some commonality, in the sense that both views deal with natural theology. It may be a case of great minds thinking alike because I see many aspects that our views hold in common but my idea has nothing to do with him. I started working on my argument back in 2002 when I had just discovered internet apologetics and began arguing on message boards and blogs, and I created the Christian CADRE apologetic group. I was adapting things I had been thinking about at UTD when I was studying Derrida, This argument is rooted in my study of Derrida; I don’t think Evans deals with Derrida. At first it was just a fun way to flabbergast atheists on message boards, A couple of years ago I decided it was time to dig it out of mothballs and turn it into a real argument.

I like Evans idea of signs pointers, that is similar to my notion of what I call “deep structures of being.” Speaking only of my own argument, because I’m not sure his idea and mine are really the same, I have not read his book. My argument is based in Derridean ideas but it seeks to reverse Derrida. I ask what if Derrida is wrong and there is a transcendental signified? Then that on itself is a good reason to believe in God. Derrida’s whole program was a reaction against belief in God; the desire to tear down hierarchies because he rejected the ultimate hierarchical principle. If as he supposed reason and rationality stem from an overarching principle that forms the basis of all meaning and thus sets up the ultimate hierarchy the will of God, the reality of that hierarchy ought to mean we accept or assume the reality of God. So the ultimate reason I can give for doing so is that without it we have only the dissolution of meaning. The TS is the only way to have a rational, coherent, and meaningful view of the universe, of life, of nature.

Before going on I need to remind the reader that all of my God arguments are about rationally warranting belief not proving the existence of God.

RR: Okay, can you say more about the specifically Derridean ideas you’re engaging with and then how you seek to reverse them to, as you put it, “flabbergast atheists”? JH: Derrida’s overall project is to explicate the end of metaphysics, but not to merely explicate he also wanted to help hasten it. His major issue was the myth of presence,which begins with the Platonic theory of knowledge and sees this theme echoed throughout Western thought up into modern times. Scientific hegemony of thought is a hint of this, latest version of the myth of presence. The myth says that meaning is present in the signifiers. There is meaning in an overarching final sense and it is immediateness present to us. That was the case with belief in God or the Platonic realm, now only hinted at with science which makes all truth available through its own ruination; or with formal logic.

Western thought has always assumed a logos, a first principle that gives meaning to all ambiguity and grounds all knowledge and norms (reason, logic, mathematics, truth, God, whatever). This concept has been embodied in many different ideas; collectively Jacques Derrida calls them “transcendental signifiers” (TS). These differing notions all point to a single idea, the one thing that is necessary and universal that orders and gives meaning to all signs and signification. That is the thing signified by the words used to mark it, the transcendental signified (TS). The term G-O-D is the Transcendental signifier and the actual reality the word points to is the transcendental signified.

Humanity has been unable to find any matching candidate for this post in modern thought primarily because we gave up the idea of a logos. Gave up on a universal ordering principle. Modern science has a sort of truncated logos in the idea that empirical observations will eliminate all false hypotheses until just the truth, scientific truth. That will never happen because it cannot; science can’t render first principles in areas like ethics and morality and it can’t delve into the spiritual, the phenomenological, the existential or anything not immediately verifiable empirically. Postmodern thought has given up on the whole project. They reject the concept of truth itself and seek not to understand anything beyond their self referential language game. Yet in rejecting the concept of truth, and tearing down hierarchies, they create their transcendental signifier differance, (with an a)i. Only the concept of God fits the parameters for the TS. God offers the best explanation for hierarchical ordering, thus offers the most likely correlate for TS. Or to put it another way, mind is the missing dimension that enables the TS to unite human experience of being with understanding. That in itself should warrant belief in God.

My argument says Derrida didn’t believe in the reality of a TS and he assumed such terms just refer to empty promises. Thus the consequence of such hierarchies as are mandated by the veracious notions of a TS are oppressive and totaling, so says the upshot of Derridean thinking. Thus he seeks to tear down hierarchies.I say more power to him Those hierarchies in so far as they are oppressive should be torn down. The problem is true to his own deconstruction, Derrida contradicts himself by also stating that we can’t avoid metaphysical hierarchies and that some hierarchy is inevitable.

At that point I make my argument. Rather than tear down all hierarchy (only to have it replaced by others) let’s seek the true TS that mandates the right hierarchy (God’s Love). I argue that the missing element is mind. of course specifically the mind of God. Thus most of the arguments are oriented issues like mind and cosmos. It’s not a design argument or the CA but does reference both ideas. I have a deductive version and an abductive version.

There is much more use the link below and scroll down 11 paragraphs:

Rauser says: "That’s one reason I appreciate the work of Joseph Hinman. Mr. Hinman has an MTS from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University and has studied at the doctoral level at the University of Texas at Dallas. And he quite deliberately seeks to explore underexplored and wholly new avenues of argument. Consider, for example, our recent conversation on his argument for God from mystical experience."

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Republicans/Evangelicals say goodbye to reality

from an ad by Sojourners

Can white evangelicals be deprogrammed from Trumpism? Amid a rise in conspiracy theories, pastors are finding themselves on the front lines of the misinformation battle. Referring to Democrats, liberals, and socialists as “evil” is now considered acceptable in certain Christian churches. Fears that “they” are trying to close our churches and take our guns has become a rallying cry for Christians who claim that America is “God’s chosen country.” Sojourners examines this troubling trend in “When Conspiracy Theories Come to Church.” Subscribe to Sojourners now to read this in-depth feature article in the June issue.[1]

This is just scratching the surface. Republicans passionately believe all manner of scathing claims against Democrats. The mildest issue is that the 2020 election was stolen,

Jen Kirby tells us, "Trump’s own officials say 2020 was America’s most secure election in history.Homeland Security put out a statement with state and local officials that countered the president’s fraud claims....The 2020 US election was the most secure in American history, according to US elections officials"

The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result,” the coordinating bodies on election infrastructure and security said in a joint statement issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

The statement directly contradicts President Donald Trump, who has made unfounded allegations of widespread voting irregularities and fraud. The president is using these claims to challenge the vote counts in several key states that delivered President-elect Joe Biden his apparent Electoral College victory.

Trump’s rhetoric undermines faith in the democratic process, but it also obscures the hard work done by election officials, ballot counters, and poll workers across the country in 2020. Beyond the logistical hurdles of Covid-19, the threat of foreign interference loomed over this election. So did fears of potential voter intimidation and violence at the polls. But with the exception of a few isolated incidents, the elections were largely safe and peaceful.[2]

According to the Associated Press:

It’s hard to put it any more bluntly: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised.

Rejecting President Donald Trump’s persistent claims and complaints, a broad coalition of top government and industry officials is declaring that the Nov. 3 voting and the following count unfolded smoothly with no more than the usual minor hiccups.It was, they declare, resorting to Trump’s sort of dramatic language, “the most secure in American history.”The statement late Thursday by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency amounted to the most direct repudiation to date of Trump’s efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest, and echoed repeated assertions by election experts and state officials.

In Addition the Brennan Center for Justice finds:

"These government officials, judges, and elected leaders, overwhelmingly Republican, have publicly acknowledged confidence in the November election."

Election officials and election security experts have long been clear: voter fraud is extraordinarily rare and our system has strong checks in place to protect the integrity of our voting process. These are the facts. But the facts have not stopped bad actors from trotting out baseless claims of “systemic voter fraud” to suppress votes and undermine trust in our democracy for political gain.

By all measures, the 2020 general election was one of the most secure elections in our history. Voters turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots by mail and in person, and the votes were counted in a timely manner. This success, however, did not dissuade President Trump and his enablers from loudly claiming fraud when the race did not go his way. In a brazen attempt to overturn the results, he unleashed an onslaught of outlandish claims about widespread fraud in the election, shamelessly targeting the votes of Black and Latino citizens in several cities. The severity of the allegations by the president and his allies, however false, has elicited a resounding rebuke of the myth of widespread voter fraud from officials at every level of government. And today, the Supreme Court all but ended the legal fight to overturn the election when it rejected Texas’s lawsuit to throw out the presidential election results in four battleground states that President Trump lost.[4]
and Politifact:

"Two cybersecurity committees within the federal Department of Homeland Security released a statement that called the Nov. 3 presidential election “the most secure in American history.” 

The statement notably debunks claims from President Donald Trump and others that have alleged massive fraud."[5]

No evidence of voter fraud

According to:Reuter's

Fact check: Courts have dismissed multiple lawsuits of alleged electoral fraud presented by Trump campaign

Following President Joe Biden’s swearing in on Jan. 20, a Facebook post shared over 6,140 times has said: “Not one court has looked at the evidence and said that Biden legally won. Not one”. This is a false statement and federal judges dismissed more than 50 lawsuits presented by then President Donald Trump and his allies challenging the election or its outcome.[6]
while Savannah Behrmann writes in USA Today:
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and his legal team have insisted they have proof of widespread voter fraud and they would be successful in court, but those claims have been shot down at the state level and by the highest court in the land.On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court refused to stop Pennsylvania from finalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the state, despite allegations from allies of Trump that the expansion of mail-in voting was illegal

The action by the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority and includes three justices named by Trump, came as states across the country are locking in the results that will lead to next week's Electoral College vote. Chief Justice Robert Brutinel agreed, saying Ward's challenge had failed to "present any evidence of 'misconduct,' 'illegal votes' or that the Biden Electors 'did not in fact receive the highest number of votes for office,'" he wrote — "let alone establish any degree of fraud or a sufficient error rate that would undermine the certainty of the election results."[7]

States examined in the articel: Arazona, Nevada, Michigan, Pynslvania, and Wisconsin.

Despite this deluge of facts (and we have not yet scratched the surface) most republicans still believe the election was stolen.

More Than Half Of Republicans Believe Voter Fraud Claims, Alison Durkee,Forbes:
A majority of Republicans still believe the baseless claim that the presidential election was “stolen” from President Donald Trump and approximately half believe his spin on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found, showing Trump’s continued influence on the party and how the ex-president’s falsehoods about the election and its aftermath have taken hold among his supporters.[8]
Yet these are nothing copared to the idiotic fantasies to which some will sink.Witness the Qanon nonsese:

The QAnon conspiracy theory is vast, complicated and ever changing, and its adherents are constantly folding new events and personalities into its master narrative. But the gist of it is that national Democrats, aided by Hollywood and a group of “global elites”, are running a massive ring devoted to the abduction, trafficking, torture, sexual abuse and cannibalization of children, all with the purpose of fulfilling the rituals of their Satanic faith. Donald Trump, according to this fantasy, is the only person willing and able to mount an attack against them.[9]

Notice: not enogh the Dems shoud assault the children they have to eat them too. I as you who is the suck one?

Republicans are still spreading baseless rumors about leftists pulling off the capital riot to make Trump look bad.

"Three months after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to try to overturn his November election loss, about half of Republicans believe the siege was largely a non-violent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad,” a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found."[10]

Of course the golden oldie that the Democrats are all socialists; they put extra spin on that one to make it sound more urgent than usual:

"A viewer watching the Republican National Convention on Monday night could be forgiven for thinking that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were not the Democratic Party's presidential and vice presidential nominees but were leading a different ticket altogether."[11]

Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, asserted that Biden would be taking orders from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and the four congresswomen known as the "Squad."

"Their vision for America is socialism," Haley said. "And we know that socialism has failed everywhere."

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said, "Democrats have chosen to go down the road to socialism."[Ibid]

Of course we all know unless there is a structural change in ownership of the means of production there is no socialsm.No Democratic candidate advocates workers owning the means of production, Just taxing the rich is not socialism it;s liberalism in a capitalist framework.The allegations of child molestation are so absurd as to be self refuting. How could anyone with a brain self identify politically with such nonsense?


[1] From an ad sent to my personal emial [2]Jen Kirby, "Trump’s own officials say 2020 was America’s most secure election in history,"Vox," (Nov 13, 2020), [3] Eric Tucker and Frank Bajak, "Repudiating Trump, officials say election ‘most secure’" Assocoated Press, (November 13, 2020) [4]Staff writer,"It’s Official: The Election Was Secure," Brennan Center for Jutice, (December 11, 2020) [5]Madeline Heim,"Security declared Nov. 3 election most secure in American history,"Politifact,(November 17,2020)

See the sources for this fact-check

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Top Republican says an investigation of Wisconsin's election is unlikely to take away Biden's win in the state," Nov. 12, 2020

WISN-TV, "UPFRONT recap: Sen. Tammy Baldwin says lack of transition hurts country," Nov. 15, 2020

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, "Joint statement from Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council & The Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees," Nov. 12, 2020

Axios, "Department of Homeland Security calls election ‘the most secure in American history,’" Nov. 12, 2020

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Trump campaign would have to pay nearly $8 million for Wisconsin recount," Nov. 16, 2020

[6]Reuter's Staff,"Fact check: Courts have dismissed multiple lawsuits of alleged electoral fraud presented by Trump campaign." Reuter's,(FEBRUARY 15, 20219:41 AM)

[7]Savannah Behrmann, "A look at what several state supreme courts said about rejecting attempts to overturn Biden's election win,"USA TODAY, (Dec 11,2020),

[8]Alison Durkee,"More Than Half Of Republicans Believe Voter Fraud Claims And Most Still Support Trump, Poll Finds," Forbes, (Apr 5, 2021,) Firbes

[9]Moira Donegan,"QAnon conspiracists believe in a vast pedophile ring. The truth is sadder," The Guardian, (Sep 2020)

[10]James Oliphant, Chris Kahn,"Half of Republicans believe false accounts of deadly U.S. Capitol riot-Reuters/Ipsos poll," Reuters, (april 6,2021),

[11]Brian Naylor, "Republicans Blast Democrats As Socialists. Here's What Socialism Is," NPR, (August 25, 2020)

Monday, May 24, 2021

Fine Tuning the puddle Argument

A poster on YouTube calling himself "Genetically Modified Skeptic''(GMS) defends the "Puddle argument." [1] This is an atheist refutation of design arguments and just says we mistakenly think the world is designed for us because we fit into it's scheme so well. Why "puddle?" The oringal version says an orgnaism crawls out of a puddle and sees how well it fits into the world.

Christian apologist Frank Turek argues the fine tunning arguent (FT) He is  making a basic mistake with the argument. GMS reduces the argent to one issue, perspective. Huge mistake because that is not it.FT does not take the same perspective as a regular design argument. GMS wants you to think it does; he even says this "just the old Palley argument." The difference is profound. The old argument did not have target levels that quantify the probability of each target being met. FT only takes fitedness as a basic assumption but it does not stop there.  It says we have numbers that  show a life bearing universe  is extremely improbable. It is backed up empirically. It may assume some of the old perspective but having empirically set target levels makes it totally differnt.By target levels we mean things like how thin plank density might be or how many earth sized planets we have before we strike life.[2]

The first thing that should be said about the so-called "puddle argument" is that it is not an argument. It's nothing more than window  dressing (its really just a little story to set up the argument). The actual argument is really just the skeptics retort to design arguments, "here we are, why did we need a creator"? They assert there is no evidence. Of course they are begging the question since the FT data is the evidence. Then GMS asserts that he does not have to prove his assumption but we do have to prove ours. He asserts the universe came before the observer. That means the observer is a product of the universe. The universe was not made for the observer. Of course the real issue is not the observer but what produced the universe? With FT we can assume we are a product of the universe but the universe was made to bear life. We just happen to be some of that life. We do not have to prove the existence of God. His assertion is crazy, why should we prove something to justify suspecting it? No one needs to suspect what he has already proven. We need only demonstrate a good reasonto bieve; FT is dandy reason.

So we have a stalemate and each side has a seemingly valid reason for seeing the universe as they do. That would be an excellent tie to consider FT as it was meant to be,as a tiebreaker. Although GMS just leaves out major portions of the opponent's view. For example he doesn't really deal very deeply with target levels. He wants to spend most of his time reducing Turek's argument to basic simplicity so he can deal with it in classically atheistic ways.He takes up Turek's idea that the universe is made up of information and this is being produced by a mind, and he tries to argue that we don't need a sender to have a message; the message is in the mind of the receiver alone.

What eludes him is the fact that a message with no sender is not a message. We could see this in his examples; GMS himself uses them; he just doen't think deeply about his own evidence. For example he takes the image on mars  thought to be a face and shows NASSA discovered it was not a face but a pareidolia with rocks[3] My major in undergraduate school was communication theory.[4] Communication theory does not accept any model of communication with just a receiver, we have to have a sender or no message.  GMS is merely overlooking the fact that what  Webster calls "random pattern" is thought to be a message but is not one. GMMS  may have a point about the way Turek argues it, Truek himself may reduce FT to complexity alone.But the FTA itself more than just interpirating complexity. The target levels are so precise they spell out the virtual impossibility of an impersonal random  universe. The major aspect behind messages that GMS overlooks is meaning. WE can see thecomningcounicatedin theaaing level of improablity of a random universe.
FT is a valid reason to infer a creator. We see the meaning in the message. An impersonal source cannot attend a message with real meaning. We don't make up our own meaning we can clearly see the meaning; the main way is through personal experience.GMC trashes personal experience, even though his arguments are totally based on his experience of decohversion. It is essential that he disconnect the believer from personal experience because it validates the message we get through nature or God's creaton. In my  book The Trace of God [5] while I do not dscus FT,  one could combine the two for a fine argument.mystical ex[eroece validates the meaning of reality and makes clear God's work.A huge body of scienc studies deomstartes the validity of the experince, below is just a sample.

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.

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 Effects
*Say their lives are more meaningful,*think about meaning and purpose*Know what purpose of life isMeditate 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.''[6]
Gms is making the same kind of fallicies he's charging Ture with. He argues that individual processes proven to be naturalistic, thus we can ase the entire cosmos is naturaitic, That id the fallacy of composition. It does not follow that the whole is naturalistic.

[1]Genetically modifed Skeptic, "Atheists Can;t Answer this Question," You Tibe, vedio.(Jun 21, 2019)

[2]Joseph Hinman, "Fine Tuning Argument part 1." The Reloiiois a prooiroiJuly 2019

[3]WEbster's online Dictiomaryl "Pareidolia" the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness. Think of the Rorschach inkblot test. — Pamela Ferdinand — compare apophenia,inkblot%20test.%20%E2%80%94%20Pamela%20Ferdinand%20%E2%80%94%20compare%20apophenia

[4] long time readers may have seen me say it was sociology i had double major.

[5]Joseph Hinman, "More Alternate Causalilty Placebo, drugs, and other issues 285The Trace of God, Colorado Sp;rimgs Cparadp: 2014

[6]Council on Spiritual Practices,"Research Summary:States of Univtive Consciousness"From Council on Spiritual Practices Website the websitei now defuncked but this all documented in my book. 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 study
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. GreelyLester Grinspoon and James Bakalar (1983). ``Psychedelic Drugs in Psychiatry'' in Psychedelic Drugs Reconsidered, New York: Basic Roger Walsh (1980). The consciousness disciplines and the behavioral sciences: Questions of comparison and assessment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 137(6), 663-673.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

I have more to say

I am goimg to strt saying it real soon.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Metacrock lives

Sorry I jut dropped off the face of the earth, I was sick and in hospital and in quarantine. I did not have covid but they put you in isolation after hospotal to make sure. I am sick of blogging don't know if I will come back.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Biden is popular

Biden gets 62% approval in CNBC economic survey, topping first ratings of the last four presidents Trump never gpt above 45%.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Countering Scentism

Scientism is the understanding that science is the only valid form of knowledge . It's an ideology and permeates real scientific circles. When thinkers whose understanding is colored by this ideology their defense of science against valid ordinary critique is ideological and programmed, We can always spot this kind of thinking immediately because they inevitably see any valid criticism as an attack upon the very notion of science, This tendency to think of science as some fragile sacred truth that dare not be questioned is emblematic of ideological reverence,  An example bof this attitude is found in the essay by Marcel Kuntz is at the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale, CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier/CEA/INRA in Grenoble, The essay entitled "The Postmodern assault on Science"[1]

Kuntz tells us "Postmodernist thought is being used to attack the scientific worldview and undermine scientific truths; a disturbing trend that has gone unnoticed by a majority of scientists.[2] Postmodernism undermines all truth. Kuntz wants to privilege his view as THE TRUTH! You Know I believe in truth but I don't believe science is the one and only truth,

The scientific method has been the guiding principle for investigating natural phenomena, but postmodernist thought is starting to threaten the foundations of the scientific approach. The rational, scientific view of the world has been painstakingly built over millennia to guarantee that research can have access to objective reality: the world, for science, contains real objects and is governed by physical laws that existed before our knowledge of these objects and laws. Science attempts to describe the world independently of belief by seeking universal truths, on the basis of observation, measurement and experimentation. [3] I agree with several aspects of this view point, I think science is the chief means of understanding the naturalistic workings of the world and that it does supply a less subjective means of understanding the regularities of the law-like framework of the universe's behavior. Yet when we frame it as "objective," even though it can be called that in a relative way, we set up the validity of the Postmodern critique, it is this very swaggering claim to the one and only truth that postmodernists are reacting against. The claim that science gives us access to "objective reality" is a metaphysical claim that is guaranteed to open up not objectivity but philosophical critique, The statement about universal truth is a dead giveaway. God's love is a universal truth, There might be a realm of the forms where Universal truths are housed for all we know. This clam impinges upon all metaphysical claims and thus is itself a metaphysical assumption. That makes it fair game for philosophy.

The postmodernist school of thought arose to question these assumptions, postulating that claims about the existence of a real world—the knowledge of which is attainable as an objective truth—have only been relevant in Western civilization since the Enlightenment. In recent decades, the movement has begun to question the validity of claims of scientific truth, whether on the basis of their belonging to larger cultural frames or through heavy criticism of the scientific method. [4] Postmodernism did not arise solely to question the assumptions of science and objective evidence, That's an unfair generalization. That's the hallmark of his whole attack because it fails to distinguish between levels of postmodern thought, it lumps all philosophical critique of science into the same pile as the most extreme Postmoderns. 

When he gets specific the first one he goes after is Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn is probably the most famous and the most legitimately accepted and admired thinker to be labeled "Postmodern." If we must label him for my money I would label him Postmodern light,

Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922–1996) is one of the most influential philosophers of science of the twentieth century, perhaps the most influential. His 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is one of the most cited academic books of all time. Kuhn's contribution to the philosophy of science marked not only a break with several key positivist doctrines, but also inaugurated a new style of philosophy of science that brought it closer to the history of science. His account of the development of science held that science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions. To this thesis, Kuhn added the controversial ‘incommensurability thesis’, that theories from differing periods suffer from certain deep kinds of failure of comparability.[5] "The concept of paradigm shift proposed by Thomas Kuhn in his famous book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962;),[6] has also given weight to the critics of science and of its pretension to understand reality. If science is not a gradual process of accumulation of knowledge, but rather subject to sudden “revolutions” that overwhelm outdated theories, they argue, how can one trust scientific knowledge?" (from Kuntz, Op cit)

Who are they? Who are these faceless critics of science who are out to steal reality? He imagines this rival group of knowledge preachers with their own metanarrative to sell. That Is ideology pure and simple. It's saying my metanarrative is true not yours. 

I don't believe he has read Kuhn, Here are a couple of red flags. First, Kuhn does not say there's a sudden change, Revolutions don't have to be sudden. The metaphor there is political not temporal. In fact Kuhn's theory states that the shift happens when the paradigm can no longer absorb anomalies that can can a long time for the anomalies to pileup. He says that for an individual researcher it can come as a sudden realization but it's not coming overnight in terms of what's going in the field as a whole. When Kuhn says it's not a gradual accumulation of knowledge, he doesn't mean these questions haven't been floating around for a long time, but that scientific knowledge is not cumulative. It's not a long slow piling up of facts until we find truth. Scientific knowledge can come in an instant; he's talking about regular scientific knowledge. Another red flag his rhetorical question how can one trust scientific knowledge? That is his take on Kuhn. Kuhn himself does not say that. Kuhn never goes after science. He is not a science baser. He's not trying to foster doubt about science.

"If, as according to Kuhn, scientific revolutions are also political upheavals in scientific policy, it is easy to understand why Kuhn's theory has attracted so much attention in a period that calls into question the established political order in the Western world." [7] So here wants to make postmodernism some kind of communist-like threat to peace and civilized order, That strikes me as red Baiting, Is that a bad thing? Questioning the political order?

I find that extremely simplistic, lacking in any specificity that makes it applicable to Kuhn, Kuhn is very specific about how defense of a paradigm is like a topological battle. That is why he calls it the scientific revolutions because defense of the old paradigm is like a political regime defending against a revolution,

Then he starts talking about the strong programme as tough Kuhn is in that movement, He was not. The strong programme is the extreme end of postmodernism that does seek to overturn all truth and all science and fits the stereotype, It was largely based in Edinburgh with thinkers like David Bloor. [8] Then he slides into talking about the ‘strong programme' in such as way as to convey the impression that it; related to Kuhn, He also milables and thus castigates other thinkers such as Ian Hacking,

Several deconstructionist thinkers, such as Bruno Latour and Ian Hacking, have rejected the idea that the concepts of science can be derived from a direct interaction with natural phenomena independently of the social environment in which we think about them. The central goal of science, defining what is true and what is false, becomes meaningless they argue, as its objectivity is reduced to ‘claims' that are simply the expression of one culture—one community—among many. Thus, all systems of thought are different “constructs” of reality and all additionally have political connotations and agendas.[9]

He starts out here Identified Hacking as a deconstructionist. Hacking is certainly not a decon. Hacking says he's a Cambridge analytic philosopher. [10] He has been lauded for his scholarship. I am a big fan of his. He is clearly a major historian of sicced.[11] If he can be labeled in the postmodern vein it would be as a Faulcaultian not a Derridan, That's very different, [12] Faucult had no ax to grind against science.

The generalizations in implacable and them vs us mentality against what should be considered a valid academic quest for knowledge is indicative of the ideological basis of geneticist thinking, That gives credence to the postmodern critic of the meta narrative,


all sources acceded 5/2/17

[1] Marcel Kuntz,"The Postmodern assault on Science" EMBO Rep v.13(10); (Oct)2012URL

Kuntz is at the Laboratoire de Physiologie Cellulaire Végétale, CNRS/Université Joseph Fourier/CEA/INRA in Grenoble,

[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

[5] Alexander Bird,, "Thomas Kuhn", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), First published Fri Aug 13, 2004; substantive revision Thu Aug 11, 2011 URL = .

[6] Thomas Kuhn,

[7] Kuntz op cit

[8] David Bloor, "The strengths of the strong programme." Scientific rationality: The sociological turn (Springer Netherlands, 1984) pp. 75-94.

[9]Kuntz, Op cit

[10] Ian Hacking quoted in "Who Are you? The Biosocial Being Ian Hacking Ioan Davies memorioal lecture, (4/14/17) held at university of Troomnto, URL:

[11]Karen Grandy, "Ian Hacking". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2016-06-10.

[12]Thomas P. Kasulis, Robert C. Neville, John Edwin Smith The Recovery of Philosophy in America: Essays in Honor of John Edwin Smith

Monday, February 08, 2021

Was Gospel John Written by Gentiles?

Hugh Fogelman levels a charge, often heard from atheists, that the Gospel of John is ati-semetic.
Theological Anti-Semitism is rampant in the Fourth gospel; in other words the gospel of John is anti-Semitic.  No other New Testament writing has as great an anti-Jewish agenda as found in John. Its attack against the individual Jew, “the Jews” and the Jewish observance of Hebrew laws, all reflect the early church’s extreme anti-Semitic stance. When confronted with the question of John’s anti-Semitism Christians do not answer, but respond with a question; “How can the gospel of John be called anti-Semitic when Jesus and his disciples were all Jews?”[1]
He echoes some very standard assertions in support of this view:
The Christian pulpit deliberately fails to inform their flocks of one important fact; No one knows who wrote any of the Gospels, nor when they were written. The gospel names were simply picked/chosen/assigned by the early church. Also, no one knows the religion of any New Testament writer.  Therefore, the Christian rebuttal question ― that Jesus’ disciples were all Jews and the gospel writers were all Jews ― is merely wishful speculation which can not be proven by any stretch of the imagination.[2]
So he asserts that the author of John may have been gentile. In the next breath he moves from Could be to definitely was:"Also, when Christians make the false claim that the gospel writers were Jewish, seem to forget their own study bibles and clergy say that Luke was a Gentile, not Jewish. Oops, so much for the Christian 'question defense' to the rampant anti-Semitism in John." He seems to think that all the gospel writers were gentile. But I will show strong probability that (1) the author of John was Jewish, (2) there is no anti semitism in John.

One of the most powerful arguments Fogelman makes is John's use of the phrase "the Jews" in order to distinguish the author from Jews. In all the synoptic gospels the phrase is used 16 times but in John it's used 70 some odd time. Moreover, the Jews are characterized un John as  those whose native language is the lie (8:44). He also makes the additional argument that John is written so long after the original event, it indicates it's a gentile fabrication. Why would an eye witness wait so long? I will deal with this as well.

Lets start with the first issue:the Jewish nature of the Gospel and it's author.

The author was Jewish. 

James McGrath asks:Q. Is the Gospel of John a Jewish mystical work?He answers:
A. It is appropriate to note that there are scholars who would deny that the Gospel of John is Jewish and/or that it is mystical. My own view, however, is that there is good reason to answer the question in the affirmative. The fourth Gospel has not only the Jewish Scriptures but Jewish traditions of interpretation woven into its very fabric. And the Christians by and for whom it was written had previously been expelled from their local synagogue by other Jews who disagreed with their views. The prologue (John 1:1-18) presents the lens through which the Gospel author wishes Jesus to be viewed, and it shares key concepts with the Jewish mystical philosopher Philo of Alexandria. The Gospel speaks of visions (John 1:51), which were an important part of mysticism, and emphasizes union with Jesus and ultimately with God through the spirit. It is possible that Jesus himself is viewed as a mystic, one who speaks with the divine voice because the divine Word/Spirit dwells in him. For all these reasons and more, the Gospel of John seems aptly described as a “Jewish mystical work.”[3]
There are Rabbis who say John is the most Jewish of the Gospels: "Why is John the most Jewish Gospel?It is often said that John is the Gospel to the world (Matthew to the Jew, Mark to the Roman, Luke to the Greek). However, in 1924 Israel Abrahams said, 'To us Jews, the Fourth Gospel is the most Jewish of the four!' How is that so? If it so, why do so many people tell new converts to begin reading this Gospel?[4]"  
...John who is Jewish is showing that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah and that they need not worry or fear that they are abandoning God because this is God {Elohim} in the flesh, which he proclaims in verse 14; “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” When we look back at the name “Elohim” it means the strong One Who manifests Himself by His own Word (Towns, 124). Now the Jewish people know that if they believe in the Word of Elohim, then they will live by the provisions of God, just as the children of Israel did in the wilderness with manna, Christ is the living Manna of God or as stated in John 6:35(NKJV) by Christ; “I am the bread of life.”[5]
Since the author was Jewish his problem with "the Jews" is not likely to be based upon their ethnicity since they shared that ethnicity; they were also semetic.  The community that produced John was largely Jewish itself. They would have had problems with the religious establishment of the Jews because they had been put out of the synagogue. But there is another group which was also a part of the Johannine community, a group that had special problems with "the Jews" as a people. That would account for the designation of the "the Jews" by their ethnicity. That group was the Samaritans.

The Samaritans lived in the Northern kingdom of Israel they were racially mixed with Jewish and pagan ancestry but they worshiped the God of the Bible.[6] The Major religious difference between jew and Samaritans was that the Jews worshipped in Jerusalem and the Samaritans worshipped in Northern Israel on Mount Gerizim. There is a connection between John and Samaritans apart from the Gospel. In  Acts 8:14-17 when the Sameritas are converted to Christ Peter and John were dispatched to impart to them the Holy Spirit. So there may have been a special connection between the Samaritans and John. We also see Samaritan influences in the Gospel of John itself.  The most obvious Samaritan influence in John is the story of the woman at the well (John 4:1-41).That is significant because it shows Jesus accepting a woman and an ethnic group hatred by the Jews. Edwin Freed argues a coupe of other influences in John. He points to the work of John Bowman who pointed out that the Johannine author is attempting to build a bridge between Jews and Samaritans.[7] He turns to the influence of Ezekiel on the story of the good shepherd of John 1-. Ezeiel wanted to reunite Judda and Israel that would involve the Samaritans of Northern Israel.[8] Freed argues that some place names in John are places in Sameria:Aenon, Jn 3:23, Salim, 3:23, Sychar, 4:5,Ephraim, 11:54.
There is a historical reaon to disregard the theroy of anti-semetism in John: There was no big anti-semetic feeling Among gentiles in the first century. That came in the middle ages. So it makes a lot more sense to see these references to "The Jews" and the negativity they engender as influences of the Samaritan Christians upon Jewish Cristians who had become alienated from their Jewish roots. They are not anti-semtic because the Christians of that community were semetic themselves.

This view need not necessitate authorship by the apostle John. Samaritan influences could have linked the document with the apostle regardless of authorship. Even more so if the author was the Elder John, thus confusion over the name.


[1]Hugh Fogelman, "John was Jewish? not!," Christianity 2003-2011.

[2] Ibid
[3]James F. McGrath,
Ask a Scholar," Bible Odyssey,2019
[4]"Why is John The Most Jewih Gospel?" Religion Bible 3 liberty univercity
[6]Catholic Anwers, Who were the Sameritians and why were they important?1995
[7]Edwin D. Freed, "SAMARITAN INFLUENCE IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN," The Catholic Biblical QuarterlyVol. 30, No. 4 (OCTOBER 1968),580.. 580-587
[8] Ibid.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Myther's Jesus Challenge

Ben Goren in a guest on Why Evolution is True, presents what he takes to be a big challenge to Jesus' historicity.
Somewhere along the line, I started challenging apologists to offer a coherent apologia, a theory of Jesus that was both self-consistent and supported by evidence. In all the years since then, I cannot recall even one single person, Christian, atheist, or other, who argues for an historical Jesus who has ever taken me up on this challenge, despite repeatedly offering it and even begging people to take a whack at it.[1]
It is ludicrous to say there is no theory of Jesus that is self consistent and supported by evidence. Nothing better to do right now so I'll play. Goren
Start with a clear, concise, unambiguous definition of who Jesus was. Do the Gospels offer a good biography of him? Was he some random schmuck of a crazy street preacher whom nobody would even thought to have noticed? Was he a rebel commando, as I’ve even heard some argue?

Jesus of Nazareth (4BC-30AD) was a first century religious teacher and prophet in the Hebrew faith. His followers developed an understanding of him that vastly increased their view of him and he became the founder of one of the great world religions: Christiaity. Unfortunately we don't have much information about his private life. We know well his teachings and the major events surrounding his crucifiction. I am making a historical statement not discussing my personal faith about him.

Here we see one of the fallacies of Jesus mythers nonsense. They think if you don't have absolute knowledge of someone then you have no historicity. That is nonsense. We don't have to know all about someone to know that they existed. Historians accept historicity of someone who is mentioned by separate sources that are themselves historical or if a public attestation is made.Pilot was thought to be fictional until historians found a couple of mentions of his name.[2]     
UNTIL 1961, there was no concrete archaeological evidence that Pontius Pilate, the fifth governor of Judaea, ever existed. There were accounts of him, of course, not least the accounts in the Gospels. But the records of his administration had disappeared completely: no papyri, no rolls, no tablets, no (authentic) letters to Rome. The Roman ruins that remained in Israel seemed to have nothing to do with him. Even his aqueduct - a project that got him into plenty of trouble at the time - appeared to have crumbled away. In the summer of 1961, however, Italian archaeologists found a piece of limestone, 82cm wide by 68cm high, in the ruins of a sports stadium in Caesarea, beside the sea. The stadium had not been there in Pilate's time; he had yelled at his gladiators in another place. But the stone bore his name, and much else besides.[3]

    Despite his biblical fame, little is known about Pilate. Only a small number of historical accounts and artifacts that date close to his lifetime survive today.[4] "He appears to have belonged to the well-attested Pontii family of Samnite origin, but nothing is known for certain about his life before he became governor of Judaea, nor of the circumstances that led to his appointment to the governorship."[5] Yet historians do not doubt his existence. My only point is we do not have to have that much to know someone was historical.    Goren
Offer positive evidence reliably dated to within a century or so of whenever you think Jesus lived that directly supports your position. Don’t merely cite evidence that doesn’t contradict it; if, for example, you were to claim that Jesus was a rebel commando, you’d have to find a source that explicitly says so.

    Papias  Papias was Bishop of Hierapolis (in Phrygia, sort mid southwestern Turkey). We don't know his exact dates, some have him being born as early as AD 70 (the fall of the temple) and dying as late 155.[1] His writings  mostly date to around 130.[2] He died in Smyrna (mid way down Western coast of Turkey).    
I shall not hesitate to set down for you along with my interpretations all things which I learned from the elders with care and recorded with care, being well assured of their truth. For unlike most men, I took pleasure not in those that have much to say but in those that preach the truth, not in those that record strange precepts but in those who record such precepts as were given to the faith by the Lord and are derived from truth itself. Besides if ever any man came who had been a follower of the elders, I would inquire about the sayings of the elders; what Andrew said, or Peter or Philip or Thomas, or James, or John or Matthew, or any other of the Lord's disciples; and what Aristion says, and John the Elder, who are disciples of the Lord. For I did not consider that i got so much from the content of books as from the utterances of living and abiding voices[6]

    According to Iranaeus Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (Martyred in AD 155?) knew the Apostle John. This doesn't seem likely and has been denounced by the great Church historian B.H. Streeter  and others. The date of Ploycarp's Martyrdom is fixed by W.A. Waddington. The tradition recorded in the Martyrdom of Polycarp says that he was 86 years old when he went to his glory as a martyr. This would place his birth in the year 69 AD.      
I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse-his going out, too, and his coming in-his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eyewitnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures.[7]

this puts the chain of historicity: we have the writings of Irenaeus, Irenaus knew Polycarp,who knew John, who knew Jesus. The same with Papius. Irenaeas Knew Papas who knew John who knew Jesus,

Two more more witnesses come to us by way of the Talmud:

   (1) The passage in Avodah zavah 16a [8]

    (2) Jesus is clearly discussed in the Talmud and is taken to be a flesh and blood man in history. The Talmud was also self censored The Babylonian Talmud, as the distinguished author of the Talmudic history, Michael L. Rodkinson tells us:

Thus the study of the Talmud flourished after the destruction of the Temple, although beset with great difficulties and desperate struggles. All his days, R. Johanan b. Zakkai was obliged to dispute with Sadducees and Bathueians and, no doubt, with the Messiahists also; for although these last were Pharisees, they differed in many points from the teaching of the Talmud after their master, Jesus, had broken with the Pharisees...[9]
    That is from a modern source but it is documenting a first century source,.

    There are archaeological evidence of Jesus' life that does not fit the pre cocieved grid Goren asked us to work on."Italian excavators working in Capernaum may have actually uncovered the remnants of the humble house of Peter that Jesus called home while in Capernaum. (This house of Peter was one of the first Biblical archaeology discoveries reported in BAR more than 25 years ago.)" [10]  

Goren"Ancient sources being what they are, there’s an overwhelming chance that the evidence you choose to support your theory will also contain significant elements that do not support it. Take a moment to reconcile this fact in a plausible manner."

    He is jst begging the question.    Goren 
What criteria do you use to pick and choose?
There will be lots of other significant pieces of evidence that contradict your hypothetical Jesus. Even literalist Christians have the Apocrypha to contend with, and most everybody else is comfortable observing widespread self-contradiction merely within the New Testament itself. Offer a reasonable standard by which evidence that contradicts your own position may be dismissed, and apply it to an example or two.
}    There are few contradictions. There are some since human effort is involved. They are not major they don't impinge upon belief.

Take at least a moment to explain how Jesus could have gone completely unnoticed by all contemporary writers (especially those of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Pliny the Elder, and the various Roman Satirists) yet is described in the New Testament as an otherworldly larger-than-life divine figure who was spectacularly publicly active throughout the region.
That is both obvious and clear: he  never went to Rome. Rome was the center of the world. Palestine was of no intellectual interest.  Jesus lived in hicksville, no one cared what went on there. That would be like asking how it is that no one has heard of a poet in West Texas. Gee how is it no one has heard of this guy he lives in Amarillo Texas!

Last, as validation, demonstrate your methods reliable by applying them to other well-known examples from history. For example, compare and contrast another historical figure with an ahistorical figure using your standards.
    I did that above with Pilot. The Jesus mythers have invented their own qasi historical criteria they then pretend these  are important to  historians while they are not.

Sources and notes

     [1]Ben Goren, "On the historicity of Jesus.The Jesus Challenge" why Evolition is True, blog, (September 5, 2014) [accssed jan 24,2021] 

   [2]Ann Wroe, "Historical Notes:Pontius Pilate a name set in stone," Independent. 23 Oct 2011[accessed jan 24,2021]

      [3]Owan Jarus, "Who Was Pontias Pilate?" Live Science, (March 25, 2019)[accessed jan 24,2021]

     [4]"Pontias Pilate" Wikipedia"[accessed jan 24,2021]

   [5]Daniel R.Schwartz, "Pontius Pilate". In Freedman, David Noel; Herion, Gary A.; Graf, David F.; Pleins, John David; Beck, Astrid B. (eds.). The Anchor Bible Dictionary. 5. New York: Doubleday.1992 pp. 395–401.

   [6]Henry Bettonson,ed Documents of the Christian Church,  Oxford:Oxford University press 1963, 27

   [7]J.L. Hinman,ed, Polhcar on connectionm, Religious A priroi website (2007)

l    On Christian Classic Ethereal Library, ANFO 1 Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr. Fragements form the lost writings of Irenaeus.

  [8]Joseph Hinman, "Bowen Himan debqte: Jesus in the Talmud," The Religios a proiproi [accessed jan 24,2021]

  [9] Michael L. Rodkinson, History of The Talmud , Vols. I and II.1918 Vol I Book 10, Chapter II, 8

  [10]Gailia Cornfleld, Archaeoloy of the Bible book by book. New York:,Harper/Collins, 1976 288

  Biblical Archaeology Society Staff, "How the remnants of the humble dwelling of Jesus in Capernaum illuminate how Christianity began,: Bible History Daily, (feb 2020)Biblical Archeaology society