Thursday, March 31, 2022

Causal Necessity/contingency is a marker for Broadly Logical N/c in the CA

There are different types of necessity and contingency.Truth itself can be either necessary or contingent:Distinction between kinds of truth. Necessary truth is a feature of any statement that it would be contradictory to deny. (Contradictions themselves are necessarily false.) Contingent truths (or falsehoods) happen to be true (or false), but might have been otherwise. Thus, for example: "Squares have four sides." is necessary. "Stop signs are hexagonal." is contingent. "Pentagons are round." is contradictory. This distinction was traditionally associated (before Kant and Kripke) with the distinctions between a priori and a posteriori knowledge and the distinction between analytic and synthetic judgment. Necessity may also be defined de dicto in terms of the formal logical property of tautology. Recommended Reading: Jules Vuillemin, Necessity or Contingency? (C S L I, 1995); Colin McGinn, Logical Properties (Oxford, 2001); Alvin Plantinga, The Nature of Necessity (Clarendon, 1989); and Margaret Dauler Wilson, Leibniz' Doctrine of Necessary Truth (Harvard, 1984).[1]

Notice there is no third kind of modal being. "It is commonly accepted that there are two sorts of existent entities: those that exist but could have failed to exist, and those that could not have failed to exist. Entities of the first sort are contingent beings; entities of the second sort are necessary beings."[2] That in so far as it goes establishes the fact that a thing is either necessarily or contingent there is no middle ground, no third option.

There are many different notions of necessity. There are different kinds of necessity they are not contradictions or different opinions they apply in different ways. For example logical necessity is not the same as metaphysical necessity, metaphysical or broadly logical necessity deals with the nature of existence.

...Something is “necessary” if it could not possibly have failed to exist. The laws of mathematics are often thought to be necessary. It is plausible to say that mathematical truths such as two and two making four hold irrespective of the way that the world is. Even if the world were radically different, it seems, two and two would still make four. God, too, is often thought to be a necessary being, i.e. a being that logically could not have failed to exist.

Something is “contingent” if it is not necessary, i.e. if it could have failed to exist. Most things seem to exist contingently. All of the human artefacts around us might not have existed; for each one of them, whoever made it might have decided not to do so. Their existence, therefore, is contingent. You and I, too, might not have existed; our respective parents might never have met, or might have decided not to have children, or might have decided to have children at a different time. Our existence, therefore, is contingent. Even the world around us seems to be contingent; the universe might have developed in such a way that none of the observable stars and planets existed at all.[3]

This is true in the cosmological argument.

The modal cosmological argument or “argument from contingency” is the argument from the contingency of the world or universe to the existence of God. The argument from contingency is the most prominent form of cosmological argument historically. The classical statements of the cosmological argument in the works of Plato, of Aquinas, and of Leibniz are generally statements of the modal form of the argument.[4]

The Universe itself is contingent and everything produced in nature is as well.

Karl Popper tells us:"Empirical facts are facts which might not have been. Everything that belongs to space time is a contingent truth because it could have been otherwise, it is dependent upon the existence of something else for its' existence going all the way back to the Big Bang, which is itself contingent upon something."[5] Contingent beings are those whose existence is caused or explained, "A contingent being (a being such that if it exists, it could have not-existed or could cease to exist) exists. This contingent being has a cause of or explanation for its existence. ... Therefore, what causes or explains the existence of this contingent being must include a non-contingent (necessary) being".[6]

Necessity/contingency broadly logical and causally related

This seems to create a dichotomy for some atheists in that they try to juxtapose two kinds of contingency against one another; There are Types of necessity and contingency but the distinction between broadly logical or "Metaphysical" necessity and the causal type reflected in my CA is not one of them. These two types were shown by Hartshorne to be united. The causal form of contingency is a marker for the broadly logical or metaphysical. This is my own idea.

Necessity is that which cannot cease or fail to exist; that for which one could contradict to speak of such things. Thus contingency is that which can cease or fail to exist.But it seems that ceasing and failing are bound up with causes and circumstances of existence in the natural world. Thus we can think of causality as an ontological marker spelling out for us the nature of contingency in the natural world. After all anything that depends for its existence upon a prior condition (even an ontologically prior condition that is not temporally prior) is contingent because it could cease or fail to exist, thus its contingency is marked by its causality.

Sources

[1]Garth Kemerling,"Necessary/Contingent," Philosophical Pages. 1997/2011 http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/n.htm#nec (accessed 3/4/19 )

[2]Matthew Davidson,"God and Other Necessary Beings", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2015 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), . (accessed 3/4/19 )

[3] Tim Holt, "Argument from Contingency," Philosophy of Religion, 2008 http://www.philosophyofreligion.info/theistic-proofs/the-cosmological-argument/the-argument-from-contingency/(accessed 3/4/19 )

[4] Ibid

[5] Carol Popper quoted in Antony Flew, Philosophical Dictionary, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979, 242.

[6] Bruce Reichenbach, , "Cosmological Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy(Spring 2019 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = . (accessed 3/4/19 )B Reichenbach originally Jul 13, 2004



Monday, March 28, 2022

My Criticism of Steven DiMattei's "Contradictions in the Bible"

I've discovered an interesting website:"contradictions in the bible '' by Dr.Steven DiMattei.[1] He is a Bible scholar and he's interested in making biblical scholarship better known to the public. He chides both sides, atheists and "Christian apologists:"

Yet ironically, and most unfortunately, Contradictions in the Bible is a topic generally and almost exclusively treated in the public arena by two opposing camps, both of whom are non-experts in the field: Atheists and Christian apologists. While atheists are generally correct in claiming that the Bible does in fact contain numerous contradictions.... they often present these contradictions in a shallow and belittling manner—an empty list devoid of substance with little to no real knowledge of the texts themselves, their authors, audiences, and the historical and literary circumstances that produced them.[2]
DiMattei is "a visiting assistant professor at the University of Houston and has taught at Coronell." [3] He never says what his beliefs are concerning God or the Bible. In thinking of the Bible he only tells us his scholarly views not his beliefs. He places an emphasis upon the Bible as a collection of independent works. It was not drafted to fit together.[4] It is more like a library made up of the favorite books of a set of chruches."

  The kinds of contradictions he discusses are all one's that have been thrown at me on many message boards. He says these are "identified verse by verse and explained using the most up-to-date scholarly information about the Bible, its texts, and the men who wrote them" [5]

He chides the skeptics for shallow list making with nn real attempt to understand contex:

While atheists are generally correct in claiming that the Bible does in fact contain numerous contradictions, from minute differences in narrative details to competing theological and ideological agendas, they often present these contradictions in a shallow and belittling manner--an empty list devoid of substance with little to no real knowledge of the texts themselves, their authors, audiences, and the historical and literary circumstances that produced them. The internet is full of such lists. Although often impressionable, these lists do little to foster a conversation about the Bible’s texts, nor do they help remedy the increasingly systemic problem of biblical illiteracy currently sweeping across our country.[6]
I will only deal with a few contradictions. He may have some good one's but many of those he deals with are piddling or no contradiction at all. A ew examples:

#1. Was earth created from preexistent matter OR nothing? (Gen 1:1-10; Is 45:18 vs Heb 11:3)?

"Hebrews 11:3 is often invoked as a proof text for the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. While some may wish to debate this reading, since the verse can be read as an abstract statement about faith, literally, 'not from that which is visible did the things that are seen come into being,” I shall nevertheless treat it as if it did proclaim this doctrine....'"[7]

This merely says the seen things of creation are created from the unseen. That might mean atoms, It might mean nothing. Creation ex nihilo is a church idea it's not explicit  in the Bible.

Isaiah 45:18  For this is what the Lord says—
he who created the heaens,
    he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
    he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
    but formed it to be inhabited—
he says:
“I am the Lord,
    and there is no other.

That does not say what material the earth was made out of it says it wasn't made to be empty, not the same thing, not a contradiction.

#2. Does God create the skies and the earth, then plants, then animals, and then both male and female in his image OR does Yahweh first form man from the ground, then plants, then animals, and then lastly woman from man’s rib? (Gen 1:1-27 [P] vs Gen 2:4b-23 [J]) #3. Does God create the earth, the skies, and man on the same day OR not? (Gen 2:4b-7 [J] vs Gen 1:1-27 [P])

#4. Is earth initially created as fecund and fertile OR dry and barren? (Gen 1:9-10 [P] vs Gen 2:5 [J])

This could be a contradiction although not an important one. The thing is it comes from two different accounts. It's like taking two opinions; it's a challenge to theology, nothing that will undermine the Gospel..

#5. "Are both man and women created in the image of God OR is man formed from the ground, and women formed from man? (Gen 1:26-27 [P] vs Gen 2:7, 2:21-23 [J]; 1 Cor 11:9; 1 Tim 2:13)"
There are no contradictions here. If man is formed from dust that not what he becomes. God says let us change the dust and put it in our image, no contradiction. Why should we assume that a woman being made from man's I(inner chambers (what it really says) would imply that shoot in the image of God. She is fashioned out of a being made in the image of God. Passages in the New Testament imply both are in God's image. Gal 4 Neither male nor female.

#6. When is all the vegetation created: before the creation of the animals, and man and woman OR after the creation of man and before the creation of the animals and woman? (Gen 1:11-13, 1:29-30 [P] vs Gen 2:9-10 [J])

Here he's reflecting the JEDP or source hypothesis. The idea that four documents are married together or form the modern OT. One uses thye fivine name the J document, J means Y, E is the Eloheim document means that author referred to God by the generic name El like just saying "GOD."[8] I won't go any deeper into that  theory, I've seen fundies who just take this as an open attempt to destory the bbile. That is peranoid, it's not a bad theory, Im not against it. I prefer to use Setz im Leben (literally "setting n life") to determine dating.

#7. Does God declare all vegetation and trees as food for the primordial pair OR does Yahweh command that one of the trees not be eaten from? (Gen 1:29-30 [P] vs Gen 2:17 [J])

The following entry is excerpted from Chapter 1, “Genesis’ Two Creation Accounts,” of  my Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate: Being Honest to the Text, Its Author, and His Beliefs,  pp. 1-63. Ancient and modern readers alike have long recognized the differences between the seven-day creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:3 and the garden of Eden account of Genesis 2:4b-3:24.
Of course the Southern Baptists are good at harmonizing; they see the second account as a more detailed recap of the first. I don't think we need to harmonize contradictions. There can be contradictions, none of them undermine the gospel. The redactors of Genesis were not there at creation. They knew of two accounts they obviously had confidence in both. Who cares if animals came first or plants? both agree God created all.

#2. Did God create the heavens and earth from the formless deep OR did Yahweh create them from the slaying of the primaeval sea monster Leviathan/Rahab? (Gen 1:1-8 vs Ps 74:13-17, 89:11-13;

Job 26:12-13)

The two creation accounts that open the book of Genesis, the Priestly and Yahwist, are not the only creation stories found in the Bible. A much older mythic tale is preserved in passages from the Psalms, the book of Job, and the Prophets. In fact, there are remarkably few references in the Bible to the Priestly creation account (which perhaps attests to its late date of composition), while conversely, there areRead More
Many conflicting creation accounts still reflect agreement upon three things:

(1) God is the ultimate source of all beings.

(2) We can know God will redeem us; God created humanity to be in relationship with him.

(3) God' creation is orderly and purposive; it does not compete with chaos or with a conflicting pantheon.

Jump up to NT

He is making an argument that modern Christians have no idea of the extreme level of commitment Jesus demanded.

Luke is more emphatic in representing this as a complete abandonment through his additions of the word panta (“all,” “everything”) to the textual tradition....They immediately abandoned their nets and followed him (Mk 1:18; Matt 4:20)...He rose up and followed him (Mk 2:14; Matt 9:9)...They abandoned everything and followed him (Lk 5:11).He forsook everything, rose up, and followed him (Lk 5:28).On a larger note, Luke’s emphasis on abandoning everything to follow Jesus goes hand-and-hand with his Jesus’ emphasis on the fact that those on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder—the poor, the hungry, the despised, the socially exploited and outcast, i.e., “the last”—will inherit the kingdom. Indeed, these individuals become “the first '' in the redefined value system that Jesus is advocating, contrary to that of the current socioeconomic worldview. (Discussed in more detail below.)
In any case, these “Follow me!” passages express an immediate urgency. Indeed, several of these “Follow me!” imperatives anticipate objections, that is requests to delay following Jesus in order to fulfill prior or immediate social and/or familial obligations, by relaying the point that this too is not permissible (Matt 8:22; Lk 9:59-62). The message is clear: Following Jesus means to immediately “forsake all” and “leave everything behind.[9]
Of course it's true we moderns don't comprehend the level of commitment they had, Jesus never says you can't be saved if you don't give all your possessions away. He told rich people to do that, He did not tell the poor to do it.I tell people "give your life to Christ." What I mean by that is all purpose and goals make knowing Jesus the top priority and make spreading the Gospel the second top priority. You don't have to give away your house but must be willing to if necessary.

It is not a contradiction that Luke raised the level because Mark and Mattew never said where the bar was set. Matthew gives the great commission "go ye therefore into all the world and preach the Gospel." Matthew 28:19. But the Greek is not in the imperative case so its not a command. It more closely says "where ever you go tell them all."

Is Steven DiMattei an atheist? I don't want to label him because he doesn't tell us I think that would not be fair. Biblical contradictions can lead to complex issues. They do not automatically disprove the Bible. He seems to display greater sympathy for them:

"I too very much appreciate my de-convert readership, many of whom still believe in God in some form or another, but who have also grown aware that the Bible’s texts are not what they were conditioned to think they were. In this respect many of these readers find comfort in unbiased historically sensitive biblical research such as this site attempts to offer."[10]

He does tell the atheists whatI've been trying to get across to them since 1999 learning the context of Bible contradictions. But we see  he clearly gives aid to the God hater club.

Matthew Green says:August 26, 2020 at 5:05 pm S&F," "no! Just a flat-out “no!” Iwll never believe or receive Jesus Christ or anything of the sort. I am forever done with conservative Christianity. If I go to Hell, then fine. I seriously couldn’t care less. In fact, I prefer it rather than spend eternity with ]Jesus'."[11]

With anattiude like that does goving aid matter? Here's what a believer says

Saved And Forgiven says:

August 19, 2020 at 4:10 pm

To those people who read the contradictions you said in your writings and will never come to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord, God and Savior or the power of the Bible as the Word of God because of your writing, then i think you will be accountable as a contributor or an inspiration to their decisions in denying God and His Word. Hope you use your site to bring people to the love of God through Jesus Christ. There is still a chance to change before you meet Jesus Christ and give accountability for every work being done. Believe and receive Jesus Christ. Repent and be saved before its too late. May the Lord have mercy on you and the people you mislead..[12]
"contradictions in the bible" by Dr.Steven DiMattei is a fine site. It seriously discusses many scholarly matters in a thoughtful and highly educated way.It probably does lend comfort to atheists weather intended or not this same act also enligthens believers about allowoing for some contradictions. It is not the fact of contradictions that is harmful. It is what is being contradicted that harms the Godpel or not.I think the more aware we are the stonger our faith will be if we really seek God.

Notes

[1] Steven DiMattei,"about me and the Website," Contradictions in the Bible (2017) https://contradictionsinthebible.com/steven-dimattei/

[2] Ibid.

[3]Steven DiMattei,"about me," Everything Biblical:What is the Bible? Who wrote the Bible and When? How and Why did the Bible come to be?(most recent entry Oct. 2018) http://stevendimattei.com/author/ Amazon says he taught at Cornell https://www.amazon.com/Steven-DiMattei/e/B01E6PJ7PI%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

  I know he's an academic he reminds me so much of the profs I had at Perkins

  [4]____________, "What was the Bible before the Bible was?" Contraictions....op cit https://contradictionsinthebible.com/what-is-the-bible/

[5]Ibid.

  [6]Ibid.

  [7]_________________, "Genesis," Ibid https://contradictionsinthebible.com/category/genesis/

[8]"JEDP Theory." Theopedia, (no date given) https://www.theopedia.com/jedp-theory

[9]DiMattei, "In Defense of Jesus:A Challenge To Those Claiming To 'Follow Jesus' (part I)" Contradictions... Ibid
https://contradictionsinthebible.com/following-jesus-a-defense/

  [10]DiMattei's about me Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.



Saturday, March 26, 2022

my cosmological argument

for fun any passing atheist is welcome to a go round on this argument

1. Something exists.
2. Whatever exists exists either necessarily or contingently.
3. It is impossible that only contingent things exist.
4. Therefore, there exists at least one necessary thing.
5. If there is a necessary thing, that thing is appropriately called 'God.'
6. Therefore God exists.


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The “M” Scale

....Many names loom large in that body of literature; Greeley, Maslow, Wuthnow, Nobel, Lukoff and Lu, all major researchers whose studies form the bulwark of the corpus in the field. But perhaps the major researcher is Ralph Hood Jr., since his Mysticism Scale (or “M scale”) has become the standard control mechanism for determining the genuineness as truly mystical experience for a given subject. There two other scales such as a specific question by Greeley (1974) and the [fn 1-7 not here]State of Consciousness Inventory by Alexander (1982; Alexander, Boyer, & Alexander, 1987) [8] This is a 32 item questionnaire that is scored in a particular way. Hood's M. Scale is designed to test the veracity of the theories of Philosopher W.T Stace, who advanced the “common core” theory of mystical experience[9] That theory argued for the universal nature of such experiences.. In other words, if actual modern mystics around the world experience the things Stace thought they do, in the way Stace thought they experienced them they would answer certain questions in a certain way [10] Hood’s work in the M scale is becoming the standard operating procedure for study of mystical and religious experiences. It hasn’t yet been understood by everyone so we find that people evoking religious experience by manipulating stimulation of the brain don’t use any sort of control, such as the M scale, for establishing a valid mystical experience. Thus they can’t prove they are evoking real mystical experiences.[11] Dale Caird said that “research into mystical experience has been greatly facilitated” [12] by Hood’s M scale. Caird did one of the studies that validated the M scale. Burris (1999) has shown that the M scale is the most commonly used measurement for the study of mysticism. [13]

The M scale enables us to determine the validity of a mystical experience among contemporary people. In other words, did someone have a “real mystical experience” or are they just carried away by the idea of having one? [14] There are two major versions of the M scale, what is called “two factor” solution and a “three factor solution.” The two factors are items assessing an experience of unity (questions such as “have you had an experience of unity?”) and items refereeing to religious and knowledge claims. In other words questions such as “did you experience God’s presence?” Or did you experience God’s love?” In each section there are two positively worded and two negatively worded items. [15] The problem with the two factor analysis is that it tried to be neutral with Language, according to Hood himself. It spoke of “experience of ultimate reality” but with no indication that ultimate reality means reality of God. As Hood puts it, “no language is neutral"[16] One group might want ultimate reality defined as “Christ” while others who are not in a Christian tradition might eschew such a move. In response to this problem Hood and Williamson, around 2000, developed what they termed “the three factor solution.” They made two additional versions of the scale one made reference where appropriate to “God” or “Christ.” They had a “God” version and a “Christ” version and both were given to Christian relevant samples. The scales were “factor analyzed,” they weighed each difference as a factor such as it’s mention of God or mention of Christ. In this factor analysis, where the scale referred to “God,” “Christ” or simply “reality” the “factor structures were identical.” That is the respondents saw “God,” “Christ” and “ultimate reality” as coterminou. That means Christians who have mystical experience understand God, Christ, and Reality as referring to the same things.[17]

All three versions matched Stace’s phenomenologically derived theory. “For all three intervertive, extrovertive and interpirative factors emerged.” [18] Respondents were answering in ways indicative of having both types of mystical experience and deriving interpretive experiences from it, they understood their experiences in light of theological understanding. The only exception was that the introvertive factors contained the emergence of ineffability because there was no content to analyze. Of course where the scale has been validated the same technique was used and tailored to the tradition of the respondent. Buddhists got a version applicable to Buddhists and Muslims got one appropriate to Islam, and so on. The same kinds of factors emerged. This demonstrates that mystical experiences are the same minus the details of the tradition, such as specific references to names. In other words Buddhists recognize Buddha mind as ultimate reality, while Vedantists recognize Brahmin as ultimate reality, Christians recognize Jesus as Ultimate reality, Muslims recognize Allah as ultimate reality, but all say they experience ultimate reality. This is a good indication that the same basic reality stands behind this experience, or to say it another way they are all experiences of the same reality.

Hood wrote a Text book with Bernard Spilka. [19]They point three major assumptions of the common core theory that flow out of Stace’s work:

(1) Mystical experience is universal and identical in phenomenological terms.

(2) Core Categories are not always essential in every experience, there are borderline cases.

(3) Interovertive and extrovertive are distinct forms, the former is an experience of unity devoid of content, the latter is unity in diversity with content.

The M scale reflects these observations and in so doing validates Stace’s findings. Hood and Spilka (et al) then go on to argue that empirical research supports a common core/perennialist conceptualization of mysticism and it’s interpretation.

The three factor solution, stated above, allows a greater range of interpretation of experience, either religious or not religious. This greater range supports Stace’s finding that a single experience may be interpreted in different ways. [20]The three factor solution thus fit Stace’s common core theory. One of the persistent problems of the M scale is the neutrality of language, especially with respect to religious language. For example the scale asks about union with “ultimate reality” not “union with God.” Thus there’s a problem in understanding that ultimate reality really means God, or unify two different descriptions one about God and one about reality. [21] There is really no such thing as “neutral” language. In the attempt to be neutral non neutral people will be offended. On the one had the common core idea will be seen as “new age” on the other identification with a particular tradition will be off putting for secularists and people of other traditions. Measurement scales must sort out the distinctions. Individuals demand interpretation of experiences, so the issue will be forced despite the best attempts to avoid it. In dealing with William James and his interpreters it seems clear that some form of transformation will be reflected in the discussion of experiences. In other words the experiences have to be filtered through cultural constructs and human assumptions of religious and other kinds of thought traditions in order to communicate them to people. Nevertheless experiences may share the same functionality in description. Christians may want the experiences they have that would otherwise be termed “ultimate reality” to be identified with Christ, while Muslims identify with Allah and atheist with “void.” The expressed is important as the “social construction of experience” but differently expressed experiences can have similar structures. Hood and Williamson designed the three factor analysis to avoid these problems of language. [22]This is a passage from my own work, The Trace of God :[23]

In a series of empirical measurement based studies employing the Mysticism scale introvertive mysticism emerges both as a distinct factor in exploratory analytic studies [24] and also as a confirming factor analysis in cultures as diverse as the United States and Iran; not only in exploratory factor analytic studies (Hood & Williamson, 2000) but also in confirmatory factor analyses in such diverse cultures as the United States and Iran (Hood, Ghornbani, Watson, Ghramaleki, Bing, Davison, Morris, & Williamson. (2001).[25] In other words, the form of mysticism that is usually said to be beyond description and beyond images, as opposed to that found in connection with images of the natural world, is seen through reflection of data derived form the M scale and as supporting factors in other relations. Scholars supporting the unity thesis (the mystical sense of undifferentiated unity—everything is “one”) have conducted interviews with mystics in other traditions about the nature of their introvertive mystical experiences. These discussions reveal that differences in expression that might be taken as linguistics culturally constructed are essentially indicative of the same experiences. The mystics recognize their experiences even in the expression of other traditions and other cultures. These parishioners represent different forms of Zen and Yoga.[26] Scholars conducting literature searches independently of other studies, who sought common experience between different traditions, have found commonalities. Brainaid, found commonality between cultures as diverse as Advanita-Vendanta Hinduism, and Madhmika Buddhism, and Nicene Christianity; Brainaid’s work supports conclusions by Loy with respect to the types of Hinduism and Buddhism.[27]

The upshot of this work by Hood is two fold: on the one had it means there is a pragmatic way to control for the understanding of what is a mystical experience and what is not. Using Stace as a guide we find that modern “mystics” around the world are having Stace-like experiences. Thus Stace’s view makes a good indication of what is and what is not a mystical experience. That means we can study the effects of having it. Of course Stace drew conclusions from his own survey vof literature of the great mystics. Now other scales have been attempted and none of them had the kind of verification that the M scale does, but taken together the whole body of work for the last fifty years or so (since Abraham Maslow) shows that religious experience of the “mystical” sort is very good for us. People who have such experiences tend to find positive, dramatic, transformation in terms of outlook, mental health and even physical health.

Over the years numerous claims have been made about the nature of spiritual/mystical and Maslow's “peak experiences”, and about their consequences. Wuthnow (1978) set out to explore findings regarding peak experiences from a systematic random sample of 1000 persons and found that peak experiences are common to a wide cross-section of people, and that one in two has experienced contact with the holy or sacred, more than eight in ten have been moved deeply by the beauty of nature and four in ten have experienced being in harmony with the universe. Of these, more than half in each have had peak experiences which have had deep and lasting effects on their lives. Peakers are more likely also, to say they value working for social change, helping to solve social problems, and helping people in need. Wuthnow stressed the therapeutic value of these experiences and also the need to study the social significance of these experiences in bringing about a world in which problems such as social disintegration, prejudice and poverty can be eradicated. Savage et al., (1995) provided clinical evidence to suggest that peakers produce greater feelings of self-confidence and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Mogar's (1965) research also tended to confirm these findings.[28]

The body of work to which I refer consists of about 200 studies (one could say 300 but let’s be conservative).[29] A huge part of that (about 50) is taken up with the prolific work of Ralph Hood. Not all of these studies use the M scale but it has become standard since the 90s. The body of work here discussed stretches back to the 1960s and the studies of Abraham Maslow. The study of mental health aspects has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple of decades. Since the deployment of the three part solution of the M scale the studies have been more empirical and better controlled. The effects and their transformative qualities could be understood as rational warrant for belief in God, I have so argued in The Trace of God.[30]



sources

part 1

1-7 not here.

[8] Jayne Gackenback, “Pure Cobciousness. Mystical Experiences.” Childhood Transpersonal Childhood Experiences of Higher States of Consciousness: Literature Review and Theoretical Integration, Spirit Watch, online resource, URL:

http://www.sawka.com/spiritwatch/cehsc/ipure.htm accessed 3/32016.

[9] Walter T. Stace, Mysticism and Philosophy, New York: Macmillan,1961,44.

[10] Ibid, 128

. [11] John Hick, The New Frontier Of Religion and Science: Religious Experience, Neuroscience, and The Transcendent. UK: Palgrave: Macmillan, 2006, 66.

He does not mention the M scasle per se but shows that they do not use a standard and some use slip shod criteria for evaluation.

[12] Dale Caird, “The structure of Hood's Mysticism Scale: A factor analytic study.”journal for the Scientific study of religion 1988, 27 (1) 122-126

[13] Burris (1999) quoted in Hood, op, cit., 128

[14] Hood, ibid, 128

[15] bid.

[16] Ibid, 129

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid, 129

[19] Bernard Spilka, Ralph Hood Jr., Bruce Hunsberger, Richard Gorwuch. The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. New York, London: the Guildford Press, 2003.

[20] Ibid, 323

[21] Ibid.

[22] Ibid, Hood in McNamara.

[23] Hinman, Trace ...op. Cit., 168 fn72-75.

[24] Ralph Hood Jr., W.P. Williamson. “An empirical test of the unity thesis: The structure of mystical descriptors in various faith samples.” Journal of Christianity and Psychology, 19, (2000) 222-244.

[25] R.W. Hood, Jr., N.Ghorbani, P.J. Waston, et al “Dimensions of the Mysticism Scale: Confirming the Three Factor Structure in the United States and Iran.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 40 (2001) 691-705.

[26] R.K.C. Forman, Mysticism, Mind, Consciousness. Albany: State University of New York Press, (1999) 20-30.

[27] F.S. Brainard, Reality and Mystical Experience, Unvisited Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. (2000). See also D.Loy, Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy. Amherst, New York: Humanities Press.

[28] Krishna K. Mohan, “Spirituality and Wellbeing: an Overview.” An Article based upon a Presentation made during the Second International Conference on Integral Psychology, held at Pondicherry India 4-7 January 2001, published in hard copy, Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation. Pondicherry: SAICE.On line copy website of the India Psychology Institute. Site visited 9/3/12. URL:http://www.ipi.org.in/texts/ip2/ip2-4.5-.php Accessed 2/7/2016

[29]Bibliogrophies from which I took the studies include Voyle. LL, Mohan, Franks. gackenback

[30] Hinman, Trace...op. Cit., this is the gist of all of chapter 2, 61-135,especially 92-107.



Sunday, March 20, 2022

Daren Brown: Atheist Propaganda and Religious Experience

Perhaps nothing scares atheists like feelings. They are scared to death of religious experience arguments. Nothing raises their hatred like talking about religious experiences. Daren Brown is some sort of British stage magician who at has a new stage act [1] supposedly inducing religious experiences. Atheists waste no time in arguing that this is proof that such experiences are just accidents that mean nothing. He states "I examined the Placebo effect and proved just how powerful fear and faith can be." Of course he assumes that because there is a psychological process that produces faith that then there's no object of faith beyond that process that has any real bearing on life. This is really no different than the one's who claim to stimulate parts of the brain to induce religoius experiences.

In calling it "placebo" he's trying to set up the suggestion that it's unreal, it's unnecessary, God is the great cosmic sugar pill. Then he totally ignores the nature of real placebo. It's only for medicine, there's no evidence that such suggestive keys can manipulate us apart from expectation.Placebo works by expectation. All the things that he does in relation to evoking the psychological process are manipulative means of setting up the association. Yet most religious experience of the sort called "mystical" is not expected. In about half the time it's experienced in childhood; children have no ideological or doctrinal expectations.[2] and much of the time mystical experiences contradict the doctrine of the experincer. If it was a real placebo it should confirm expectations. Placebo works by expectation.[3] They don't work by challenging expectations. Calling it a placebo is wrong and improper and it's probably only done to evoke the concept and prepare the atheist to inoculated against emotion by making her suspicious of religious feelings.

He sets up several incidents before the main show (the phony atheist conversion) that are intended to get across the idea that suggestion works powerfully and most such feelings as one associates with the supernatural are also just manipulation. He makes people feel afraid by putting them in a room alone after reading to them some satanic right supposedly from the eleventh century. People are turned on by a sense of dark, mysterious and ancient.  He gave people a fake drug which is no more than a sugar pill and by getting them to believe in it he got them to make dramatic changes in their lives. Of course he doesn't follow them in their lives or do a longitudinal study to determine if the changes are really transformational (dramatic, positive, and long term). He has no real control and no real way of determining if he's given anyone a real experience. Empirical study has demonstrated that religious experience is real, that's transformational, and that there is a way to determine real experiences from phony ones.[4] No there is no proof direly that it's caused by God but this can be argued successfully by paying attention to what can be proved and using it with logic. It is the M scale that provides us with that means of verification for religious experience and it's been validated by a half dozen studies around the world.[5]

His psychological explanation for the process is typically convoluted and not well throughout. He does an experiment that shows people in private when not watched lie about their mistakes. The idea is to show that there's a presence in the room no one cheats. If people are given an idea of supernatural presence they act more morally. It is asserted that there are evolutionary reasons why we developed the idea of a supernatural presence. Don't want to be outcast from the tribe so we can reproduce. divine presence would ensure the sense of being caught out. God is made up to make us be moral. In other words, like Foucault's take on the Panopticon the prisoners are learning to watch themselves. The problem here is he's convoluted several different reasons in to one

First of all, if we feel a sense of presence that in itself is reason to assume we feel it. It doesn't have to be the result of needing a moral campus and inviting an invisible God. the illustration itself shows caveman ostracize a guy because he lied. So the fact of how people treated each other would be the reason for moral behavior and the fear of being rejected by the tribe and not being allowed to make would be enforcement enough, why make up an internal watch dog to do the job as well? If one has not felt experiences one doesn't know what they are. why invent a psychological process to evoke them then try to explain them. The fact that one has had such experience itself the reason to believe in the reality of such experiences, then the need to explain it comes out of having the need. The idea of ancient caveman trying to produce a sophisticated psychological technique for evoking some experience they haven't had is ridiculous and if they had it, it has its own reality.If they had it prior to producing the process of evoking it then it is real.

 Brown is certain that the experience is explained by psychology. He asserts that these kinds of experiences come from big religious rallies with hyper suggestibility but there's no basis for that assumption. He's not using M scale studies to determine what percentage of religious experience is privately induced and percentage comes out of the big hyper rallies. Here's a clue, with half coming in childhood they are not coming form big rallies (fn2 above).

Then he goes through an elaborate production to produce a fake conversion in an atheist woman. He does this indirectly without mentioning God. He uses several techniques such as tapping his fingers while they talk about her father to make her associate the sound of the tapping with feelings of fatherly love. In several ways he evokes feelings of powerful father figures to bring atheists to believe. Establishes rapport. learns about her father. The woman is unconsciously processing, core religious belief evoked that God has a plan for us and pulls strings to help us. No direct mention of God was made the woman made the connection to God herself through feelings of the father figure (tap tap tap). Brown says things that imply a grand plan, talk about things going wrong for a reason. sense of awe and wonder. Talks about the stars and space, evokes being cherished with awe. The woman describes her experience as "all the love in the world had been thrown at me. I pushed it away by not letting it into my life." Now she sees it's so stupid and she sees through it.

He says "I feel duty bound to make sure you understand that the positive stuff you got through this is not religious belief." This is what he tells her later after they are brought back before the audience. She's already been debriefed. He says explicitly "it certainly didn't come form God." The result of this elaborate dog and pony show is that we are supposed to come away with the grand feeling that religion has been totally exposed and deconstructed and unraveled. We see close up how fake it is; there's no need for it. Of course the Brit media is operating from the assumption that atheism is the standard, the grounding for society, the status quo. The Audience is pre-selected to reflect this idea. So one's going to challenge it.

It is a dog and pony show, he has no longitudinal study, no double blind, no control, he has no scale to measure the nature, depth, or effect of experience. He has no theory of religious experience to play it off of. That is all very crucial without that he's proved nothing. He can't guarantee that what she experienced is even a religious experience. One clue to that question is she says nothing about undifferentiated unity. she didn't say that she felt an all pervasive presence. She felt there's a plan and a purpose and she's cared for but that doesn't prove that it's the same religious experience that W.T. Stace talked about Stace is the philosopher who did the theoetocal ground work describimg mystical expereomce and his worksis the basis for Hood's develp,emt of the M scale:
Stace offers five characteristics that demonstrate the commonalities to mystical experience; these are characteristics that are found universally in all cultures and in all forms of mystical experience:

The contemporary interest in the empirical research of mysticism can be traced to Stace’s (Stace, 1960) demarcation of the phenomenological characteristics of mystical experiences (Hood, 1975). In Stace’s conceptualization, mystical experiences had five characteristics (Hood, 1985, p.176):
                1.      The mystical experience is noetic. The person having the experience perceives it as a valid source of knowledge and not just a subjective experience.
2.      The mystical experience is ineffable, it cannot simply be described in words. 3.      The mystical experience is holy. While this is the religious aspect of the experience it is not necessarily expressed in any particular theological terms.
4.      The mystical experience is profound yet enjoyable and characterized by positive affect. 5.      The mystical experience is paradoxical. It defies logic. Further analysis of reported mystical experiences suggests that the one essential feature of mysticism is an experience of unity (Hood, 1985). The experience of unity involves a process of ego loss and is generally expressed in one of three ways (Hood, 1 976a). The ego is absorbed into that which transcends it, or an inward process by which the ego gains pure awareness of self, or a combination of the two.[6]
The real problem is without a control there's no way to know if he isn't just evoking the we are given by God to be able to find him (the M scale functions as a control). The fact that he's evoking some of them doesn't prove that they are merely a matter of manipulation. There was no guy tapping when I got saved. Any associations that were evoked alone in my living room had to be coincidental or accidental rather than arranged. To say that there's a psychological process that enables one to internalize the value of belief in God is hardly a denunciation of the reality of validity of that process. So there is a psychological process and we can manipulate it. I also had a need for a father figure, and guess what, I had a father. Saying that having a psychosocial need disproves the reality of the solution is just foolish.

That's like saying you have proved that love is just a psychological trick because when you do  things to make them think they are loved they respond emotionally. He's giving all the ques that God would give us to guide into a relationship with him, thus they respond because it's put in them to respond. The only real test of the validity of such feelings is the long term change and production of positive experiences and behaviors resulting from it. Plenty of studies establish that this is the case with mystical experience. It's not been proved that it is the case with phony experience evoked by Brown. He does niot follow them thorugh life to see of they dxhibit chages and trasformative behaviors. Many stuides of rleigiois experience do just that.

Essentially there is a psychological process to conversion. It makes sense that there would be because if God wants us to have  a personal relationship with him then there must be effects which would draw us into a psychological state that is conducive to that relationship. Those affects are not hard to find because we all know  about them, they are the things that motivate us and turn us on. So he merely found them and induced them in cleaver ways.



Notes

[1]Hidden Peril, "Derren Brown - How To Convert An Atheist" YouTube Video, no date given...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51B8MzcxOX0acess March 7, 2022

[2] Joseph Hinman,The Trace of God: A Rational Warrant for Belief Colorado Springs:Grand Viaduct Publishing 2014, 286-296.

In the Trace of God I draw upon the research of Hood to show both that half the cases are in childhood and that Children have no expectations of the experience. I also show that most adult case have no sich expectations either.

[3]Staff Academy 45c,"The Placebo effect: thye power of expectation," Academy 45c, Website. 2021. https://academy4sc.org/video/the-placebo-effect-the-power-of-expectation/#:~:text=The%20placebo%20effect%20occurs%20when,expectation%20of%20the%20treatment's%20effectiveness.acess March 7, 2022

[4] Joseph Hinman, "The M Scale and Universal Nature of Mystical Experience." The Religious a prioriWebsite. article posted 2014. http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-m-sacle-and-universal-nature-of.htmlacess March 7, 2022

[5]Ibid.

[6]Ibid.

Labels: Apologetics, conversion process, Daren Brown, God talk, religious experience Newer PostOlder PostHome Links

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Yes Supernova Kasprzak there is a soul!

Supernova Kasprzak is an atheist and he argues that the soul does not exist. [1] The first thing he says is "if soul exists things should be the case that are not the case." But that doesn't necessarily means thing would look any different. If there is no soul, or  nothing that  lives after the body dies (such as consciousness) then we won't go to heaven or have any kind of life after death. That's a major difference but things would not look any different to us.

Essentially Super's arguments boil down to the fact that we don't have real proof, that is scientific and undeniable, that the soul exists. He talks about how we have no scientific evidence for a tangible thing called soul but never shows what things would be different if there was a soul. Tangibility almost seems to be his only  criteria. He never establishes a justification for that as a standard.

I am quoting from the auido not from printed material so I may be off by a few words. He seems to say, "mind is physical--mind is part of body;" "it's all in  the brain," "everything is a product of the brain." it's all physical when brain dies you die:(see my essay "mind does not reduce to brain [2]) "It's all physical nothing lives after you at least not the physical part." He actually says that literally, "at least not the physical part." Ironic because we are not talking about the physical part, the soul is not physical.

That's really the issue. the materialistic atheists make solid physical existence the issue. That is all one is permitted to believe in. They never establish why that should be the only criterion.All of his arguments are based upon the idea that there's no evidence. The bible does speak of soul as a physical thing that leaves the body when we die. He does point this out but he he never addresses why this should be the only criterion? The obvious reason is one of verification. He does say nothing has been or can be detected as spirit.There is no way to verify it. He thinks all christians wish there was a mark to show if one is saved or not. I never wanted that and I never heard any other Christian express that as a desire. I think he is assuming the universality of an idea that is limited to his background.

He says we can't know Christians by the way they act. He has no documentation for that. It is true that quite often Christians don't act any better than non Christians, but when we find someone who the power of God has touched the difference is quite apparent. Now it is true that this grows old, people let down and laps back. But the rekindling of the fire is only a prayer away. "We have this treasure in jars of clay"(meaning, we are still human--2 Corinthians 4:7-9 NIV). There can also be an intuitive sense of the soul or of something living on.

Actually the soul is a symbol for the overall life of the believer in relation to God. That's why we sometimes speak of people as "souls." As in "he is a lost soul." Or, "my aim is to save souls." That is the soul. Spirit is the life force that lives on after death, I equate this with consciousness. The former is a symbol so that is not a matter of literal existence. It points to something beyond itself. The latter, spirit, we know exists, we know consciousness exists. Here we are only arguing about the state in which we find it, whether living or surviving death.

Kasprzak answers behaviors merely by asserting that he was a Christian and he had belief and behavior so he should not lose the Holy Spirit, therefore, there must not be one. He had the behavior then decided the belief wasn't true and abandoned it.He never deals with behavior as indicative of the Spirit nor does he demonstrate that one can't deny the truth and lose the Spirit. That may disprove certain doctrines such as "eternal security," but it does not disprove the deity of Christ, the existence of God,or even the soul. In my view eternal security begins with death. Apparently we can throw away salvation while we live as we see from Hebrews 6:4-6.*

There are reasons to believe in the soul and spirit. If the soul is indicative of our relationship with God then belief in soul depends upon belief in God. At this point  we just advance God-arguments. If we equate consciousness with spirit we can assert the reality of spirit by asserting arguments for irreducibility of mind to brain.It is a fallacy to think  since brain is physical mind must be physical. Like saying since water is liquid ice must be liquid. Or Since fire is hot smoke must be hot. I urge the reader to examine fn 2 below.

Another reason to take the soul and spirit seriously that is not impinged upon by the kinds of arguments Kasprzak is making; this is simply that Jesus tells us we have a soul (Matt,116:26). If we credit Jesus with being the incarnate logos then would trist what he says. Surely the logos would know.



___________ *Heb 6:4-6 "4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."

Notes

[1] Supernova Kasprzak, "Your Soul Does Not Exist" YouTube (Jan 12, 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j2MWkDOaig&t=36s, accessed 3/15/22.

[2]Joseph Hinman, "Mind is Not Reduceabel to Brain. (part 1)" The Religious a priori, 2011, https://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2019/11/mind-is-not-reduceabel-to-brain-part-1.html,
accessed 3/23/22.

Part 2: https://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2019/11/mind-not-reduceable-to-brain-part-2.html

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Mind is not reduceable to brain (part 1)

This piece was originally posted on my secod wesote, "the religious a proiri." I am trying to increase the exposure of that s9ght. It has a weath fine material


https://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2021/05/welcome-to-religious-priori.html


This topic is of great importance for believers in God because it encompasses almost every facet of the territory upon which the battle over belief is fought. It impinges upon what one believes about the ability to be good or to refuse sin, the freedom of belief vs. the view that belief is just a side effect of bad psychology, the nature of religious experience and its veracity, even the after life. This topic should be of great importance to non believers as well as it impinges upon our ability to understand ourselves as free agents capable of governing ourselves, and as individuals who would seek the meaning of our lives and the expression of self in art. I suspect also that the determinist/reductionist view point encourages atheists in their materialism and rejection of the soul.

Brain/Mind

Ideological and philosophical types of reductionism seek to reduce human consciousness to a level of side effect produced by brain chemistry; to do this reductionsts will lose the phenomena that describe an irreducible consciousness. This is done by employing the standard reductionist tricks of re-labeling, re-describing, and bait and switch. The bait and switch is primarily a replacement of consciousness with brain function. Phenomenoloigcally consciousness might be thought of as the awareness of self, others, nuance, place, time, ambiance, and the feel of perception. In place of this the reductionist places the way the brain functions, and puts it over as consciousness. The reductionst, assumes there is nothing to consciousness that is not produced by the physical apparatus of the brain. This just puts in place the outgrowth of the physical apparatus minus the aspects of consciousness the consciousness supporters talk about then points to those brain function aspects as proof that this is all there is; after all this is consciousness. Whereas in fact all they are doing is removing consciousness and pointing to the aspects they want to support as proof because those are the aspects they can get at through their methods. This is something like a prosecutor at a trial replacing the evidence with his own briefs then saying “well see the evidence is so in line with my briefs that it proves my case.”

The debate about consciousness stacks believers in unique irreducible nature of human consciousness against those who think that consciousness can be reduced to mere brain chemistry. This is not an issue of theism vs atheism; major positions allied against the reductionism are also materialist positions, as well as God-believing positions. On the side of the mind are materialists such as property dualists, Functionalists and supervenience theorists. Property dualists are often mistaken for theists by the term “dualist,” yet they are not true dualists they don’t believe there are two levels of reality but that each property can have dual aspects. Functionalists hold that mental states are functional states but mental properties cannot be identified with mental biological properties. Supervenience says that mental life correlates with physical body.[1]

Perhaps the major source for this kind of reductionism where brain/mind is concerned is the now classic work Consciousness Explained by Daniel Dennett.[2] Dennett is a master of the bait and switch, using a vast amount of data about all sorts phenomena based studies dealing with brain function, all the while asserting that it’s explaining consciousness with which he does not even deal. I urge the reader to see the article by my friend Lantz Miller who wrote it for the academic journal that I once published; Negations: an Interdisciplinary Journal of social Criticism.[3] Dennett seems to say “we are all zombies, no one is conscious.”[4] Kevin B. Korb seems to think this is just Dennett’s attempt to motivate the reading, sort of a shock effect by taking an extreme position.[5] Be that as it may Dennett represents the functionalists position. Functionalism, introduced by J.J.C. Smart and U.T. Place, is the thesis that mental states are identical to some particular brain states.[6] If the goal of Dennett is the old positivist’s dream of clearing away the clutter so science can get on with its work, the clutter he seeks to clear away is twofold, two positions stemming from the brain/mind questions as dealt with by philosophy: (1) mental states cannot be shared since the physical make up of our brains cannot be shared (Korb uses the term “goo”). (2) the dualistic homuncular theories which had been advocated by many dualists. That idea suggested something like this, there is a part inside us that has the true brain function and that part really understands our motivations, even though we don’t. This gives way to an infinite regress as there has to be a homuncular thinker inside to give the powers to the first homunculus and so on.[7] This latter view can work out to be one of the tricks of reductionism, redescribing an otherwise valid position in terms of “homuncularism.” Atheists on the internet tend to call anything that involves internal states “homuncular.”

Even though dualistic options are no longer defended, hold over ideas remain and obscure the valuable reductions. Korb sums up: Dennett shows that the homuncular concept retains a powerful grip on the imaginations of many, perhaps most, cognitive scientists. While explicit dualism and homuncularism are (no doubt properly) `endangered' theses, a great many theories and judgments advanced by cognitive scientists rely at some point upon there being a magical place in the head where everything comes together---in what Dennett calls the Cartesian Theater. This concept is pernicious in a variety of ways. For one thing, it leads to lazy analysis: if we can rely upon some arbitrarily complex central process to clean up our functional loose ends, we needn't be very careful about specifying whatever functional processes we do provide. But worse, this Cartesian Materialism (functionalism with the Theater at the center) again leads to infinite regress: if there is a theater where consciousness is `projected', then there must be an observer viewing the projection (else why bother with the theater?). As before, we will find it difficult to understand this observer: if the theater and its audience are needed to understand conscious processes then an `inner' theater and `inner' audience will be needed to understand the observer, and so on. But if the theater and its observer are not needed to understand conscious processes, then why introduce them in the first place? As Dennett notes, the best place to stop an infinite regress is usually at the beginning.[8]

The opposition of the functionalists to the Cartesian theater is the opposition to a center of internal control where the subject makes a conscious decision or carries away an awareness of his own internal states. As an alternative to the ‘center’ (the Cartesian theater) Dennett proposes the idea of “multiple drafts.” This idea says that the version of what is perceived is contrastingly re-written. The drafts are edited and reedited endlessly and passed along through endless processes.[9] So there is no one key center perception. While this is highly reductionist, it takes out the conscious control of the subject. It loses phenomena of consciousness as our own experience tells us that we do take part in editing some of the drafts. It’s also problematic because it’s a reprise of the homuncular concept. Who is writing the drafts, a little reductionist inside the brain? The true position of Dennett is ambiguous, although no doubt he does believe that consciousness reduces to brain chemistry.

We know this from 150 years of neurology where you damage areas of the brain, and faculties are lost… You can cease to recognize faces, you can cease to know the names of animals but you still know the names of tools…What we’re being asked to consider is that you damage one part of the brain, and something about the mind and subjectivity is lost, you damage another and yet more is lost, [but] you damage the whole thing at death, we can rise off the brain with all our faculties in tact, recognizing grandma and speaking English![10] Atheists on the popular level use this argument quite a bit. From that premise, that brain damage means destruction of consciousness, they conclude that consciousness is reducible to brain chemistry and imagine a complete factual basis for the supposition. They have created a bogus science of neurology which they imagine has already answered all questions and proved conclusively that consciousness is reducible to brain function. This is far from a done deal. Science is just getting started on understanding the brain, despite what popular atheism wants to believe. This fact is stated bluntly by one of its expert teachers, Vitzthum in his lecture to the Atheist club: “Since how the brain actually works is today one of the least-understood and most hotly-debated subjects in science, I'd like to explain briefly the most promising of these theories and in the process finish my discussion of philosophical materialism.”[11]

The position that mind is reducible to brain and that it is proved by neurology is far form a proven position. Moreover, the brain damage argument is a weak argument. There are better arguments to be made by documenting brain function through neurological evidence, even though that is not proof. The brain damage argument is almost separate from any scientific evidence as we can observe the connection between damage and loss of consciousness without any scientific equipment. Either way the bran damage argument proves only that brain is essential to accessing consciousness, not that consciousness is reducible to brain function. The access argument can be illustrated with the following analogies. We can destroy computer hardware such as the monitor and that eliminates or blocks our access to soft ware but it doesn’t’ mean that soft ware is hardware or that software is erased by the damage of hardware. The logic of the brain damage argument can be applied to prove that television programs are not broadcast through the air waves but originate in the tv box. After all if we damage the box, take out parts or what have you, we don’t get the picture or the sound or the program. By the logic of the brain damage argument proves that he signal originates in the box.


Mind irreducible to brain function


By way of explanation of the two sides, I will take property dualism as representative of the pro-mind side, on the proviso that it’s not the only position. Panpsychism can be thought of as a subset (one of four types) of property dualism.[12] I will compare them with John Searle’s article “why I’m Not a Property Dualist.”[13]

Searle summarizes the property dualist position:

(1) Empirical reality exits in two categories, physical and mental.

(2) Because mental states are not reducible to physical states they are something over and above the physical. The irreducibility in and of itself is enough to demonstrate that there is more than just the neurobiological.

(3) Mental phenomena do not constitute separate objects of substances but rather are features of properties of a composite, such as human or animal. Thus humans or animals have two types of features or properties, mental and physical.[14]

Searle takes issue with this in that he ascribes the categories to just one world. There are not two sets of characteristics. We have one world, everything is physical, but we can describe it in a number of ways. Searle may be thought of as part of the pro-mind side, but he is not a property dualist. He explains why in terms of the problem of the mental and the causal. If the mental is removed from physical then it can’t play a causal role. Ultimately he’s going to argue that the conventional terms are the problem because they invite us to discuss the issue in dualistic ways. So Searle accepts the premise of the reductionists that everything is physical and material but he can’t be called a reducationist because he also recognizes the importance of ontology. He says in terms of neurobiology there is one world and consciousness is a product of the causal process. On the other hand, since descriptively our mental states are not reducible or accessible by others there is an ontological dimension that can’t be reduced. He seems to take the ontological as a descriptive dimension. As argument against the ramifications of Property dualism he lays out a dilemma. If consciousness is closed from the physical realm its not part of the causal mechanism and that means our behavior has nothing to do with consciousness. The alternative is that if the conscious is part of the causal it creates a dualistic causality in which case each action has two explanations, the mental and physical.[15] It seems rather coherent to me to appeal to the mental as motivation for movement and to the physical as the actual mechanics of carrying out the “enabling legislation” so to speak.

I agree with Searle that a large part of the problem is the dualistic nature of language. We are forced into categories of dualism by the way we are led to speak about the distinction between physical and mental. I can accept Searle’s position, even as a Christian, with the proviso that we can’t understand God and God is obviously an exception to what we know and could contradict all of it. The qualities in humanity that make us “eternal sprits” and put us above the realm of the mere physical can be described in functional terms rather than taken as “essentialist.” That is to say, we can see “spirit” as mind, and mind as mental phenomena without positing a discrete entity or ghost in the machine. On the other hand I hold back from commitment to Searle’s position due to one question that he doesn’t seem to answer. When we say “consciousness” do we mean the actual awareness, or even the texture of mental awareness that comes with mental states, or do we mean the apparatus that makes that texture possible? That seems crucial because if we mean the apparatus then I would agree with his position in so far as we stipulate for biological life only; for biological life consciousness is rooted in the neurobiological. We need not confine our understanding of the texture of awareness or the function of awareness to biological life. If the texture is what we mean by “consciousness,” then it could be much more vast and irreducible to the neurobiological. This is an explanation of the term “source of consciousness.” That term I apply to God.

I think Searle is wrong in assuming that two dimensions of human being (mental and physical) make for two causes in every action. One cause beginning with the motivation (mental) and working itself out as a cause over two dimensions of our being. That argument is not proof that mental can be reduced to the physical, nor does the threat of being dualistic disprove the reality of dualism. David Chalmers has an argument, or several arguments, for the irreducealbity of consciousness.[16] Chalmers observes that consciousness escapes the reductive net and is not easily reduced to the physical by the assumptions reductionists make. It’s natural to assume that everything reduces to the physical that consciousness supervenes upon the physical. No physical explanation can wholly account for the nature of consciousness. The argument is in what I call the “texture” or the “conscious nature” of consciousness itself.[17] Chalmers argues that consciousness does not logically supervene upon the physical. The reductionists pull a biat and switch by demonstrating the reduction of brain function to the physical, obviously, then speaking as though they have demonstrated that consciousness is the same as brain function when in fact they have no such demonstration. The very nature of consciousness resists such a demonstration, yet the reductionist is often blind to this fact because they can’t stop identifying consciousness with brain function.

Chalmers full argument entails the theory of the supervenient but he also makes arguments without it. He says one can do it either way. I will avoid the complex and highly specialized issue in order to keep it simple; otherwise I am apt to become confused. He sets up the arguments so that they can be made and make sense without the supervenient analysis.[18] The basic argument is grounded in the nature of consciousness which is seen in the so called “hard problem,” the inability to explain the nature of consciousness without losing the phenomena of consciousness. To illustrate the hard problem Chalmers constructs the notion of the philolophical zombie. Philosophical zombies differ from Hollywood zombies in that they are not mindless automatons who can’t think wondering about doing someone’s bidding. They are identical to us in every way so they cannot be identified as such externally. The only difference is they don’t have mental states or the “texture” of consciousness. They can think they can react logically and reason but they don’t have the mental experience going on inside. The zombie can’t feel the good morning but she can say “good morning” and in a way that implies that she means it. It doesn’t matter weather such zombies are actually possible or not. This is not a possible worlds argument its really more of an analogy that illustrates the distinction between consciousness and brain function.[19] The upshot of the zombie thing is that one could have all the brain function to memic everything humans do, but still lack consciousness and that illustrates that consciousness is not explained by brain function. If the organism with all the brain we have lacks the texture of consciousness then the two don’t share the same properties one is not dependent upon the other. Of course the opponent will argue that we are making more of consciousness than we should and that in imagining a world of such zombies we are inherently putting in the mental states just in ascribing to them our behaviors. The burden of proof is on them to prove that there is nothing more to the texture of consciousness than behavior.[20]

The epistemic asymmetry of consciousness affords Chalmers a powerful argument. Conscious experience is a complete surprise given the relationship between mathematics and the rest of reality. That is to say, if not for our actual experience of consciousness we could never theorize or guess as to its’ existence just based upon scientific knowledge about brain function or the physical world. A world of philosophical zombies in which there was no experience of consciousness with all the scientific understanding we have could never come to realization that consciousness must exist for some beings somewhere.

From all the low-level facts about physical conīŦgurations and causation, we can in principle derive all sorts of high-level facts about macroscopic systems, their organization, and the causation among them. One could determine all the facts about biological function, and about human behavior and the brain mechanisms by which it is caused. But nothing in this vast causal story would lead one who had not experienced it directly to believe that there should be any consciousness. The very idea would be unreasonable; almost mystical, perhaps. It is true that the physical facts about the world might provide some indirect evidence for the existence of consciousness. For example, from these facts one could ascertain that there were a lot of organism’s that claimed to be conscious, and said they had mysterious subjective experiences. Still, this evidence would be quite inconclusive, and it might be most natural to draw an eliminative conclusion—that there was in fact no experience present in these creatures, just a lot of talk.[21]

If consciousness was dependent upon the physical entirely as a shared property of the physical it would be deducible immediately by its relation to the physical. We should be able to deduce anything that is physical by understanding its physical break down. We can’t even get at a definition of consciousness that doesn’t exclude the mental qualia and reduce to brain function. That is not an explanation (though its taken for one by reductionists) it’s nothing more than losing the phenomena and re-labeling. What Chalmers calls the most vivid argument against the logical supervienence of consciousness upon the physical is ‘the knowledge argument’ put forth by Jackson (1982) and Nagel (1974). The example he uses is that of a woman he dubs “Mary” who is the world expert on neurophysiology of color vision. She lives in an advanced time when science has all knowledge of the physical realm. Mary has been raised in a black and while room where she has never seen color. She understands everything there is to know about the physical processes of producing color but she does not know what red looks like. No amount of reasoning from the physical facts can tell her how red appears.

It follows that the facts about the subjective experience of color vision are not entailed by the physical facts. If they were, Mary could in principle come to know what it is like to see red on the basis of her knowledge of the physical facts. But she cannot. Perhaps Mary could come to know what it is like to see red by some indirect method, such as by manipulating her brain in the appropriate way. The point, however, is that the knowledge does not follow from the physical knowledge alone. Knowledge of all the physical facts will in principle allow Mary to derive all the facts about a system’s reactions, and its various abilities and cognitive capacities; but she will still be entirely in the dark about its experience of red.[22]

He reinforces this idea by reference to Thomas Negal’s famous article of the 70’s “What is It Like to be a Bat?”[23] All the physical knowledge about bats can’t tell us what it’s like to be one. That’s just multiplying examples at that point. We can’t know what it feels like to be a bat because we don’t have the consciousness of a bat. The texture of the experience is a point in consciousness. The reductionists sometimes substitute brain function for the actual nature of the experience of consciousness. Until they get at that they can’t get at the hard problem. They argue, as does Dennett in Consciousness Explained, discussing the theory of multiple drafts proposes that consciousness is just an epiphenomenal illusion that results from the process of editing perception by the brain. It’s like a number of still photos shown in rapid succession that becomes a moving picture. So it is with the multiple drafts and the continuous flowing sense of consciousness. "You seem to be referring to a private, ineffable something or other in your mind's eye, a private shade of homogenous pink, but this is just how it seems to you, not how it is."[24] There’s a lot that could be said to this point, for example see Latnz Miller’s devastating critique of Dennett’s book in Negations. [25]Yet the most to the point criticism that can be made is that it’s not about consciousness. This is about the function of the brain. That doesn’t do anything to get at the nature of consciousness itself. Tending to brain function in this way does not prove that consciousness arises out of brain function and has no larger reference as a basic property of nature. The only thing it does prove is that conscious awareness is accessed through brain function.

The issue of access is not the issue of causality. To say just exactly what is access and what is causing what, is hard to tell. It would be necessary to know that to resolve the argument either way. If there is a larger framework for consciousness than just being a side effect of chemicals in the head, such as a basic property or a principle of physical law or some such, then there must be some way in which what seems like an emergent property is actually connected to a larger principle. The fact that consciousness is communicated through brain chemistry is not a disproof. It may be the case that the evidence for irreducibility doesn’t prove it either. It would seem that irreducibility is a good reason to think that consciousness might be a basic property of nature. While at the same time the link between access and brain chemistry is not proof that mind reduces to brain or that consciousness is wholly a side effect of brain chemistry. The organizing effect of mind also adds another valid reason to suspect that consciousness could be a basic property.



Notes


[1] Richard C.Vitzchum, “Philosophical Mateirlism.” The Secular Web, On-line resource, URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_vitzthum/materialism.html#F9 visited 4/12/2012 from lecture given to atheist students association, University of Maryland, College Park, Nov 14, 1996.

[2] Daniel Dennett, Consciousness Explained. Back Bay Books, second edition, 1992

[3] Lantz Miller. “The Hard Sell of Human Consciousness part 1. (no 3, Winter 1998) _______________________________________________part II, (no 4, Spring 2002) this is only going to be found on line. go to this URL: http://negations.icaap.org/ see the menu on left side bar, click on winter of 1998, and scroll to the title "Hard Sell of Human Consciousness" by Lantz Miller, part one, then for part Two go to the 2002 issue and just scroll down until you see the title then sroll further to page number. It's well worth reading. If you really care about the top you must read this article.

[4] Dennett, ibid, 406

[5] Kevin B. Korb. “Stage Effects in the Cartesian theater: A Review of Dennette’s Consciousness Explained.” Pdf file published online, URL: http://www.theassc.org/files/assc/2271.pdf visited 4/16/2012. Korb is at School of Computer Science and Software Engineering Monash University Clayton, Victoria 3168 Australia.

[6] Ibid, section 1.1

[7] ibid, section 1.3

[8] ibid section 1.5

[9] ibid, section 1.6

[10] Sam Harris quoted by Luke Muehlhauser, “Sam Harris, Argument Agaisnt the Afterlife,” blog, Common Sense Atheism, March 15, 2011 URL: http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=14919 the original quote is from a “You tube video” URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48xmvFgtKmc&feature=player_detailpage#t=92s

[11] Vitzthum, ibid.

[12] “Consciousness,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Archives pages. Website URL: http://www.science.uva.nl/~seop/archives/sum2004/entries/consciousness/#8.1 visited 1/22/11. Robert Van Gulick ed. and Copyright. (2004)

[13] John Searle “Why I am not a Property Dualist” originally from online document: URL: http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~jsearle/PropertydualismFNL.doc. from the Google Html version, propertydualismFNL.doc. November17, 2002 visited 12/6/10. URL: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Y4Fr7m7rItQJ:socrates.berkeley.edu/~jsearle/PropertydualismFNL.doc+consciousness+is+not+reducible+to+brain+chemistry+but+is+a+basic+property+of+nature&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

[14] ibid.

[15] ibid.

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

[17] Ibid, supervenient specialized philosophical term that refers to the necessary sharing of peripheries between two existents when one is a subset of the other.

[18] Ibid. 84 [19] ibid.84-85

[20] ibid. 90

[21] ibid,

[22] ibid

[23] in Chalmers, 90, originally in Philosophical Review, pp. 435-50

[24] Daniel C. Dennett, op cit, 329

[25] Lantz Miller, “the Hard Sell of Human Consciousness, and the recovery of consciousness in the nature of new language. part 1.” Negations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Social Criticism. Issue 3, Winter 1998. On line copy: URL: http://negations.icaap.org/ (scroll down). For part 2 of Miller’s argument see the 2002 issue on the same site.
Posted by Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) at 6:40 AM

Labels: apologetics, brain/mind, Cartesian theater, consciousness studies, David Chalmers, John Searle, Philosophical Zombies, Reductionism

Friday, March 04, 2022

The Truth of Christ does not depend upon the flood (2)

We can regard Jesus' references to "the days of Noah" as metaphorical statements. I have at times referred to the middle ages as "the days of Robin Hood." I did not mean by that that I think Robin Hood is a historical figure. Jesus knew the people of his day were not ready to learn modern science. Rather than explain the truth about the flood he spoke metaphorically and spoke within the story.Let's examine the passage which seems to indicate Jesus believed in the flood. One thing to remember the real point is not the impossibility of a flood but the absurdity of Noah's ark.

There are only about four major passages and Henry Morris advances all four to prove that Jesus believed in a historical flood.[1] Morris was a major force behind the Institute for Creation Research. As an undergraduate I used his evidence to argue with my professer in geomorphology class. He shot Marris down in flames. That for me was one of the defining moments that showed fundamentalism is not the answer.

The passage in Matthew:

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:38-39)Morris says:

The Lord Jesus Christ not only believed in the special, recent creation of all things by God (note Mark 10:6-8), but also in the worldwide Flood of Noah's day, including the special preservation of life on the Ark. The Flood in which He believed was obviously not a "local flood," for He compared it to the worldwide future impact of His Second Coming...This is what Jesus said, and what He believed, and therefore, those who are truly His disciples must also believe this. The destructive effects of the Flood can still be seen today, not only in the biblical record, but also in the abundant evidence of cataclysmic destruction in the rocks and fossil graveyards all over the world. To refuse this evidence, as do many modern intellectuals, can only be because they "willingly are ignorant," as Peter said in referring to this testimony (2 Peter 3:5).[2]
He makes several assertions not backed by scripture. Nowhere in the passage does the Lord say that creation was recent, nor does he  say the flood was worldwide. The comparison between the second coming and the flood is the surprise effect not the world wide effects.

There is only one major passage, Matthew. Luke is derived from it. Luke copied Matthew and mark. The passage in Mark doesn't mention the flood. the Passage in Mark says nothing about the flood:" 6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’[a] 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,[b] 8 and the two will become one flesh.’[c] So they are no longer two, but "one flesh." It is not a second statement by Jesus backing belief in a literal flood but does not mention the flood. Luke was not an eye witness but copied Matthew.As for Morris's assertion of physical evidence of the world wide flood, real science laughs at the so-called evidence. That is YEC propaganda.

It is possible that Jesus took Genesis flood account as metaphorical and that he spoke assuming the metaphor. There are physical reasons to assume Jesus knew the flood was not historical. I assume here Jesus really knew the truth of Modern science even though he did not teach it.

For example, the Genesis account seems to be based upon much older pagan accounts,Mark Rlliot quoting Robert R. Cargill:

The worldwide flood described in Genesis 6-9 is not historical, but rather a combination of at least two flood stories, both of which descended from earlier Mesopotamian flood narratives. Note that this does not mean all of the claims made in the Bible are false (or true for that matter); I am dealing here only with the biblical stories of the flood. (Also understand that the "slippery slope" claim of "all of the Bible is true or none of it is true" is simply an unnecessary rhetorical device designed to keep readers from doing precisely what scholars do every day: analyze each claim in the Bible on a case-by-case basis. It is not necessary to accept an "all or none" stance towards the Bible.) Most biblical and ancient Near Eastern scholars argue that the flood is a mythical story adopted from earlier Mesopotamian flood accounts. These earlier accounts include the 17th century BCE Sumerian flood myth Eridu Genesis,(5)(his fn within the quote) the 18th century BCE Akkadian Atra-Hasis Epic,(6) and the Epic of Gilgamesh,(7) which are some of the earliest known examples of a literary style of writing.[3]
There are numerous geomorphological reasons to doubt that there was a world wiode flood.

Phil Senter wrote fine scholarly article following blow by blow the evolution and the rise and fall of flood geology, that is acceptance of the flood among some geologists s He concludes with the seeming demise of the discipline due to the lack of sedimentation denoting a world wode flood:
Unfortunately for the proponents of that view, the hypothesis that a Precambrian Flood occurred and left no sedimentary strata is less scientific than the hypothesis that most or much of the Phanerozoic sedimentary column was Flood-deposited. This is because the latter hypothesis is testable and falsifiable—and has been tested and falsified by the Flood geologists themselves—whereas any hypothesis that a phenomenon occurred but left no evidence for its occurrence is an untestable, unfalsifiable hypothesis. Some may argue that the igneous Hadean and Archean deposits are evidence of the geological catastrophe that caused or accompanied the onset of the Flood, but the equation catastrophe = Flood is fallacious. No recorded geological catastrophe has caused worldwide flooding[5]


He akso quotes Max Hunter:

(2009:88), “It is somewhat ironic…that, almost a half century after publication of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris in 1961, the geologic record attributed to the Genesis Flood is currently being assailed on all sides by diluvialists…[and] there remains not one square kilometer of rock at the earth’s surface that is indisputably Flood deposited.”

There are numerous logical reasons why the ark is impossible. For example,  How did they get the animals from the Western hemisphere and Australia? They would need another Ark as big as the first one to haul food and water for all the animals. They  would spend all their t,e shoveling excrement.

I believe that Jesus was omniscient; he knew there had been no world wide flood. We can know that he must have known this since there was no flood. We need not interpret his statements as being literal indications  of belief in worldwide flooding.


Notes

[1]Henry Morris, "Jesus and the flood," Glen Iris Baptist Church website *(2020) https://www.gleniris.net/blog/post/jesus-and-the-flood
Accessed feb 27. 2020

[2]Ibid.

[3]Robert Raymond Cargill quoted in Mark Elliott,"Forget about Noah's Ark; There Was No Worldwide Flood," The Bible And Interpritation, web page, University of Ariozona, (2022) URL:

https://bibleinterp.arizona.edu/articles/flood357903
Accessed feb 27. 2020

Mark Elliott received his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in Near Eastern Studies. He is also the editor of Bible and Interpretation at www.bibleinterp.com.

Dr. Robert Raymond Cargill is Associate Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at The University of Iowa. He is a biblical studies scholar, classicist.

[4] Robert Schadewald,"Six flood argumemts creationists can't answer," Creation/Evolution JournalVolume 3, No. 3, NCSE:National Center for Science Education, web site, (Summer 1982)URL: https://ncse.ngo/six-flood-arguments-creationists-cant-answer
Accessed feb 27. 2020


[5]Phil Senter,"The Defeat of Flood Geology by Flood Geology:The ironic demonstration that there is no trace of the Genesis Flood in the geologic record," Reports of The Nationsl center for science education.  (May–June 2011). Printed electronically by California State University, Northridge. Retrieved 7 June 2014; Hunter M. Ophiolites: Oceanic lithosphere mixed with continental lithosphere during the Genesis Flood. Journal of Creation 23(3)(2009):84–89 http://www.csun.edu/~vcgeo005/Flood%20geology.pdf
Accessed feb 27. 2020

Phil Senter is a vertebrate paleontologist. He teaches biology courses at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. SENTER is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Fayetteville State University,NC.