Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Answering J.L Schellenberg

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The Knight (Max Von Sydow) plays chess with death
Igmar Berman's The Seventh Seal (greatest
film evervmade).


published on religiou a priori https://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2017/02/answering-jl-schellenberg.html


J.L. Schellenberg argues that the presence of non-resisting unbelievers disproves God.The basic concept is that if there are such non-resisting non-believers surly God would reveal himself to them because if God is all loving God would want a relationship with them. That they don't find God shows God is probably not there to show them.

So where can we go from there? Well, an argument can be developed for supposing that nonresistant nonbelief would not exist if there were a God. Let me set out the argument as clearly as possible, and then we can discuss its nature and its force.
  1. If there is a perfectly loving God, all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God are in a position to participate in such relationships--i.e., able to do so just by trying to.
  2. No one can be in a position to participate in such relationships without believing that God exists.
  3. If there is a perfectly loving God, all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God believe that God exists (from 1 and 2).
  4. It is not the case that all creatures capable of explicit and positively meaningful relationship with God who have not freely shut themselves off from God believe that God exists: there is nonresistant nonbelief; God is hidden.
  5. It is not the case that there is a perfectly loving God (from 3 and 4).
  6. If God exists, God is perfectly loving.
  7. It is not the case that God exists (from 5 and 6).[1]

He draws analogy to human relationships. After all what other means do we have to understand love but our relationships with those we love?
I am suggesting is that there is something remarkably odd about the idea that, supposing there really is a God whose love is unsurpassed perfect, such creatures should ever be unable to exercise their capacity for relationship with God--at least so long as they have not got themselves into that position through resisting the divine in the manner earlier indicated. What sense can we make of the idea that capable creatures should be open to relationship with a perfectly loving God, not resisting it at all, perhaps even longing for it, and yet not in a place where they can have such a relationship, if there really is a perfectly loving God? I suggest that if we look carefully at the matter, we will not be able to make any sense of that at all. A perfectly loving God--if those words mean anything--would, like the best human lover, ensure that meaningful contact with herself was always possible for those she loved.
Notice how our everyday use of the language of love pushes us in this direction. The perfectly loving mother or husband or brother or friend will see to it that nothing he or she does ever puts relationship out of reach for the loved one.

I have three basic arguments, but first I am going to grant that there are non resisting unbelievers. I don't really believe there are and I don't believe it can be proved. He has no crystal ball we cannot look upon the heart as God does. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Rationalizing what we do and our own nobility is one of the things Humans do best. Making such an argument is perhaps an act of resisting in and of itself. Yet I will grant for the sake of argument and take on the argument on it's own terms. Toward that end grant for argument sake there are non resisting unbelievers, I still have three responses:

(1) Human relationships are only analogy

Through our own experience  loving and being loved we have a notion of what love is. Yet we do not have a perfect notion, we have no example of perfect love save that of Christ dying on the cross. Humans do not love each other perfectly. Some times human love is standoffish we don't always act on our feelings for others. In that sense we might conclude  that God doesn't care, but that's only because we are comparing God's love to imperfect human love. The comparison of God's love to human love is only a metaphor anyway. There is no 1x1 correspondence to the effect that's God's agape should be perfectly analogous to human philos.

Human relationships are only analogous to God's love, all analogy has a"not-like" was well as a "like" dimension. Jesus himself provides the perfect role model for God's love. Using Jesus as the model God.s love is not always self explanatory. I'll deal with the issue of God's hidden presence in point three. But for now suffice to say God's love is not always obvious, that doesn't mean it is occulted or absent.


(2) Either the non resisting phase, or the non believing phase, may be temporary. 

Assuming that there are unresistant unbelievers, that does't mean they stay that way There can be times in a person's life when they are non resisting and open to God but don't find the signs stacking up in such a way that that they would find God.There will come a point at which they will either find God or begin to resist. Which to say they found God but for some reason don't want to find God. The factors in tracing that out would be enormously complex, they would different from case to case. Trying to pin down an exact profile of belief would be like profiling snowflakes. Because this argument does involve soteriological issues it takes us into point 3. But before going there I have to deal with one other issue.

The temporal answer is only a stopgap solution. The skeptic can still raise the point why doesn't God make his move, so to speak, in that short time when the unbeliever is open and not resisting? To say that the non believer begins resisting at that point is really a problem because that would indicate that he wasn't open after all. But to answer that we should have to know the complex variables that make for decision making in this area, we can't really know that. Given that caveat I think Jesus gave us a hint in the parable of the sower (Mark 4: 1-19).

The seed is the world and the type of soil or other problems that prevent the seed taking root represent things that can happen that might separate one from belief. Those include symbols for riches and cares of they world for example. None of these people are throwing away the seeds,so in that sense they are non resisters.  The seeds are taken by weeds, thrones, birds. The seeds are spread and fall where they may, then they are intercepted or negated in some way, now of course question arises why does God not prevent this? Surely if Love of God means anything he should get through to those who are not resisting him, even if the message is negated. I think he does, that is a theological issue and thus leads us to point three.

(3) God's love is not hidden but it is prehended

This point breaks down into three major issues all three of them theological. These are prhension,  salvation and theodicy, It's a theological issue because it draws upon core of theology proper, faith seeking understanding (in the classical model). The prehension issue deals with the nature of our understanding of God and it answers P2 in Shallenberg's argumemt: No one can be in a position to participate in such relationships without believing that God exists. That depends upon what relationship we are talking about. No one is going to be a great lion of God and not know it, One will not be Kierkegaard's knight of faith and not know it. One might be saved and not know it,one is being communicated to by 'God and most people don't  know it,. God is communicating through prehension: 

a. prehension


Through Whitehead's category of prehension, the nonsensory sympathetic perception of antecedent experiences, we are able to reduce several apparently very different types of relations to one fundamental type of relation. [It] explains not only memory and perception, . . . but also temporality, space, causality, enduring individuality (or substance), the mind-body relation, the subject-object relation in general, and the God-world relation. [2]
But this is at an unconscious level. However, in some people, this direct prehension of the "Holy" rises to the level of conscious experience. We generally call theses people "mystics". Now, the reason why a few people are conscious of God is not the result of God violating causal principle; some people are just able to conform to God's initial datum in greater degree than other people can. I don't kno why God seems to chose to make his presence known to some and not others But I accept that the basis of mystical experience is real,discernible, noetic and from God. I do think God is putting this out to everyone and some have a greater capacity for receiving it than others, In place of resisting God I find a lot of people want their own way, they want God to do it their way, to that extent they are not content with God's choices for them.That amounts to resisting while not resisting per se.
The experience of no one single witness is final the "the proof" but the fact that there are millions of witnesses who, in differing levels from the generally intuitive to the mystical, experience must the same thing in terms of general religious belief the argument is simply that God interacts on a human heart level, and the experiences of those who witness such interaction is strong evidence for that conclusion.

b. Salvation

If God is always speaking to us all why are we not all Christians? Because we are getting it at an instinctive or subliminal level and to understand it we have to formulate ideas based upon the impressions. Ideas have to be formed in language and thus they must be filtered through cultural constructs. That's why faiths appear so different. That's why they  reflect their cultures. Jesus was not a cultural construct he was a real guy with a history so he was the person he was and he was adapted to the culture of his day.

Christians believe that Jesus is necessary to salvation,I believe this. But it is not necessarily the case that one must know this to be saved. If one is saved it is Jesus who does the saving. it is not necessarily the case that only people who know this are saved. Since this is a theological issue we turn to the theology of St. Paul for an answer. On Mars Hill he told the Greek philosophers they knew God. He told them he came to proclaim to them what they already knew.
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[3]
Of course we laugh at the primitive naivete of this statement.There is a deeper meaning under there, that God is interacting with people of all cultures and that different cultures are not boundaries for belief but that God is Interconnecting with each one. God is near to us all he's drawing us all. Are all saved? Paul indicates that all have the moral law written upon the heart and if we are true to that moral law we may be saved:

God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a]To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile;10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.[4]
This is not an argument that one can cease seeking or that we don't need Jesus. Jesus is truth we should keep the whole truth, We don't need to feel that those not in the Christian club are necessarily going to t to hell. The good news is we can turn to Jesus and know God this is not negated by the bad news that 60% of the world is going to hell.[5]


c. theodisy 

But then why does the truth of God seem so not obvious? It's not hidden but it's  not conspicuous.If God wished to get everyone signed up he could hold a press conference the UN building and tell the world. Obviousness there is meant to be a level of seeking.


Let's assume that God's purpose in creation is to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good. Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated). Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices.  The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of free will outweighs all other considerations, since without it there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama: No one would seek in the heart. If God was obvious in this way we would all give lip service to it and resent it. Only through searching that one internalizes the values of the search and thus loves having found. Jesus said "he who has been forgiven much loves much."


Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultimate goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us. We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart. Therefore, God wants a heart felt response which is internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.

This explains why God is not obvious even though he's not exactly hidden. No one who is seeking and not resisting is turned out or condemned even if they don't wind up in the Christian club.


Schallenberg makes a big thing out of hidden evidence. But why would God hide evidence? He did not! It's there for anyone who is willing to experience it. Speaking of that my books shows you the extend of religious experience and how it changes your life, it;s obvious that the experience is there waiting to be experienced for those who seek,

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Ground breaking research that boosts religious arguemnts for God to a much stronger level. It makes experience arguments some of the most formidable.Empirical scientific studies demonstrate belief in God is rational, good for you, not the result of emotional instability. Ready answer for anyone who claims that belief in God is psychologically bad for you. Order from Amazon 



Sources

[1] J.L. Schellenberg, "What Divine Hiddenness Reveals, or How Weak Theistic Evidence is Strong Atheistic Proof," The Secular Web  (2008) on line resource, URL:
http://infidels.org/library/modern/john_schellenberg/hidden.html  acessed 6/20/16

[2] David Ray Griffin, "Charles Hartshorne," in David Ray Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr., Marcus P. Ford, Pete A. Y. Gunter, and Peter Ochs, Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy: Peirce, James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Hartshorne (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), p. 209. Griffin's writing in this book is quoted extensively in"Charles Hartshorne's Psychicalism".


Quohttp://ppquimby.com/alan/prehen.htm


[3] New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 byBiblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Read my essay "Why I don't beleive in Hell"
http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2013/08/does-bible-really-teach-that-hell-is.html




Sunday, May 29, 2022

Popper's Improbability Criterion

I made a post where I discussed my idea that I call the atheist fortress of facts.That means internet atheists

Me: Not Facts but Verisimilitude: in other words I am saying science does not give us a big pile of facts but an approximation of facts which functions as models of reality. That is what verisimilitude means. I guess Skepie doesn/t know that word. then he says:

- 'Science doesn't give us facts. It gives us models of reality. Those models are based on observed facts.'

I say: Unfortunately for our purposes we will only be able to skim the surface of Popper’s thoughts on the most crucial aspect of this theory of science, that science is not about proving things but about falsifying them.

Skepie says:

- Who ever told you that science was supposed to provide proof? [I didn't say it did i was criicizing atheists for thinking it does] Skep: "You didn't get that from Popper or Dawkins, or anyone who understands science. It's a misunderstanding on the part of people who expect certainty. Could that be religionists?"

That is a cute little tactic turnimgit around,Gotdy ehere does heget the stupid idea thatreigiom gve us certainty? "we walk by faith not by sight." Secondly, why would Bible believers seek certainty in science? Clearly we do not do the scientific fortress of fats. Of course he uses his highly insulting term for religious believers, equivalent of the n word. Just like a Dawkamentalist.

Skep

- I've talked to countless theists who don't share your understanding of God. But when I argue with you, the argument is about what you believe, not about the "old man with a white beard".

Of course I'm going to defend my views and not someone else's. Why is that no reasonable?

skep: There are plenty of atheists who have a scientific understanding. There are plenty of atheists who are scientists. And you're arguing against them. So why don't you gear your argument to what they believe?

so I should ignore the countless atheists who do the fortress of facts because there are some who don't? I don't see Skep making any effect to even know there are Christian thinkers who are serious intellectuals. He makes no effort to acknowledge that. If he encounters a major thinker such as Paul Tillich he must be ignorant he's a "religionist."

Skepie acts like no atheists does the FF but anytime proof for God comes up he takes the FF Line we have the pile of facts "religionists" have none.

Now out of the blue he asserts this Popper theory about probability in choosing theories, Here is a valid article that states the theory:

John C. Harsanyi [Popper's]"...methodological rule that out of several alternative hypotheses equally consistent with the empirical data, we should always accept the one possessing the lowest a priori probability (he uses the term logical probability),"[1]

Skep refers to  the article I just quoted  from:

 "... it is as Pix suggested. What he's talking about is the theory that makes the most precise predictions (which is equated with information content) - NOT the theory that is most likely to be true by some measure of probability that could be assigned by theists to their God arguments."

That's what I was wating for. He really had that in mind all along, that this is a disproof of God arguments. Even though Popper says explicitly  it's about choosing scientific theories, belief in God is NOT a scientific theory. Popper says it's among many theories where the data is equally strong.Of course he thinks Christians have no data (fortress of facts) so clearly does not apply to religious ideas.

He's so clever he turned the tables on himself. Hey I admit his views are more probable than mine, Now that means you should choose my view. read the theory.

In fact, if I didn't know better, I'd venture to guess that this article is your source of information about Popper. The wording is remarkably similar. But I think you miss the real point of what he's saying. There is one crucial thing Popper said that you left out of your discussion: "Thus, the statements which are of special interest to science are those with a high informative content and (consequentially) a low probability, which nevertheless come close to the truth. That last phrase says that the theory must survive scientific testing and verification. As the article goes on to say: "the severity of the test to which a theory can be subjected, and by means of which it is falsified or corroborated, is of fundamental importance."
I just got through pointing out it's about theories with equally strong data, which is the same as high information content. Of course his ego is always on the line so he has to denigrate my education. The only way he can feel good about himself is to put down others.Even if that article was the only thing I ever read about Popper he is still ignoring what it says. It says he;s using the theory wrongly.

I have to laugh because I quoted that article time and time again for several posts trying to get him to understand what's wrong with his use of the theory so he says I talk like the article so that's all I've read.

Here is the kicker. I begin Fortress part 2 (I will poston blog next week) thus:
Above we see that Dawkins, Stenger and company place their faith in the probability engineered by scientific facts. The problem is probability is not the basis upon which one chooses one theory over another, at least according to Popper. This insight forms the basis of this notion that science can give us verisimilitude not “facts.”
That shows me using the theory that Pix and Skep are touting,I wrote that about ten years ago I already read it and used and knew and forgot it. He didn't even understand what I said, He quoted it and used it to say I know nothing about Popper.



[1]John C. Harsanyi,"Popper's Improbability Criterion for the Choice of Scientific Hypotheses," Philosophy,Cambridge University Press, Vol. 35, No. 135 (Oct., 1960), pp. 332-340 (9 pages)' also available on Jstor with preview: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3748472

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Debunking the Atheist Fortress of Facts Part 2



Karl Popper

Originally posted on relkgious a priori

http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2009/04/debuncking-athist-fortress-of-facts.html

footnote numbers taken over from part 1.

Not Facts but Verisimilitude:

Karl Popper (1902-1994) is one of the most renewed and highly respected figures in the philosophy of science. Popper was from Vienna, of Jewish origin, maintained a youthful flirtation with Marxism, and left his native land due to the rise of Nazism in the late thirties. He is considered to be among the ranks of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Popper is highly respected by scientists in a way that most philosophers of science are not.[15]

He was also a social and political philosopher of considerable stature, a self-professed ‘critical-rationalist’, a dedicated opponent of all forms of scepticism, conventionalism, and relativism in science and in human affairs generally, a committed advocate and staunch defender of the ‘Open Society’, and an implacable critic of totalitarianism in all of its forms. One of the many remarkable features of Popper's thought is the scope of his intellectual influence. In the modern technological and highly-specialised world scientists are rarely aware of the work of philosophers; it is virtually unprecedented to find them queuing up, as they have done in Popper's case, to testify to the enormously practical beneficial impact which that philosophical work has had upon their own. But notwithstanding the fact that he wrote on even the most technical matters with consummate clarity, the scope of Popper's work is such that it is commonplace by now to find that commentators tend to deal with the epistemological, scientific and social elements of his thought as if they were quite disparate and unconnected, and thus the fundamental unity of his philosophical vision and method has to a large degree been dissipated.[16]

Unfortunately for our purposes we will only be able to skim the surface of Popper’s thoughts on the most crucial aspect of this theory of science, that science is not about proving things but about falsifying them.

Above we see that Dawkins, Stenger and company place their faith in the probability engineered by scientific facts. The problem is probability is not the basis upon which one chooses one theory over another, at least according to Popper. This insight forms the basis of this notion that science can give us verisimilitude not “facts.” Popper never uses the phrase “fortress of facts,” we could add that, science is not a fortress of facts. Science is not giving us “truth,” its’ giving something in place of truth, “verisimilitude.” The term verisimilar means “having the appearance of truth, or probable.” Or it can also mean “depicting realism” as in art or literature.”[17] According to Popper in choosing between two theories one more probable than the other, if one is interested I the informative content of the theory, one should choose the less probable. This is paradoxical but the reason is that probability and informative content very inversely. The higher informative content of a theory is more predictive since the more information contained in a statement the greater the number of ways the statement will turn out to fail or be proved wrong. At that rate mystical experience should be the most scientific view point. If this dictum were applied to a choice between Stenger’s atheism and belief in God mystical God belief would be more predictive and have less likelihood of being wrong because it’s based upon not speaking much about what one experiences as truth. We will see latter that this is actually the case in terms of certain kinds of religious experiences. I am not really suggesting that the two can be compared. They are two different kinds of knowledge. Even though mystical experience per se can be falsified (which will be seen in subsequent chapters) belief in God over all can’t be. The real point is that arguing that God is less probable is not a scientifically valid approach.

Thus the statements which are of special interest to the scientist are those with a high informative content and (consequentially) a low probability, which nevertheless come close to the truth. Informative content, which is in inverse proportion to probability, is in direct proportion to testability. Consequently the severity of the test to which a theory can be subjected, and by means of which it is falsified or corroborated, is all-important.[18]

Scientific criticism of theories must be piecemeal. We can’t question every aspect of a theory at once. For this reason one must accept a certain amount of background knowledge. We can’t have absolute certainty. Science is not about absolute certainty, thus rather than speak of “truth” we speak of “verisimilitude.” No single observation can be taken to falsify a theory. There is always the possibility that the observation is mistaken, or that the assumed background knowledge is faulty.[19] Uneasy with speaking of “true” theories or ideas, or that a corroborated theory is “true,” Popper asserted that a falsified theory is known to be false. He was impressed by Tarski’s 1963 reformulation of the corresponded theory of truth. That is when Popper reformulated his way of speaking to frame the concept of “truth-likeness” or “verisimilitude,” according to Thronton.[20] I wont go into all the ramifications of verisimilitude, but Popper has an extensive theory to cover the notion. Popper’s notions of verisimilitude were critixized by thinkers in the 70’s such as Miller, Tichy’(grave over the y) and Grunbaum (umlaut over the first u) brought out problems with the concept. In an attempt to repair the theory Popper backed off claims to being able to access the numerical levels of verisimilitude between two theories.[21] The resolution of this problem has not diminished the admiration for Popper or his acceptance in the world of philosophy of science. Nor is the solution settled in the direction of acceptance for the fortress of facts. Science is not closer to the fact making business just because there are problems with verisimilitude.

Science doesn’t prove but Falsifies

The aspect of Popper’s theory for which he is best known is probably the idea of falsification. In 1959 He published the Logic of Scientific Discovery in which he rigorously and painstakingly demonstrated why science can’t prove but can only disprove, or falsify. Popper begins by observing that science uses inductive methods and thus is thought to be marked and defined by this approach. By the use of the inductive approach science moves from “particular statements,” such as the result of an experiment, to universal statements such as an hypothesis or theories. Yet, Popper observes, the fallacy of this kind of reasoning has always been known. Regardless of how many times we observe white swans “this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.”[22] He points out this is the problem of universal statements, which can’t be grounded in experience because experience is not universal, at least not human experience. One might observe this is also a problem of empirical observation. Some argue that we can know universal statements to be true by experience; this is only true if the experiences are universal as well. Such experience can only be a singular statement. This puts it in the same category with the original problem so it can’t do any better.[23] The only way to resolve the problem of induction, Popper argues, is to establish a principle of induction. Such a principle would be a statement by which we could put inductive inferences into logically acceptable form. He tells us that upholders of the need for such a principle would say that without science can’t provide truth or falsehood of its theories.[24]

The principle can’t be a purely logical statement such as tautology or a prori reasoning, if it could there would be no problem of induction. This means it must be a synthetic statement, empirically derived. Then he asked “how can we justify statement on rational grounds?” [25] After all he’s just demonstrated that an empirical statement can’t be the basis of a universal principle. Then to conclude that there must be a universal principle of logic that justifies induction knowing that it ahs to be an empirical statement, just opens up the problem again. He points out that Reichenbach[26] would point that such the principle of induction is accepted by all of science.[27] Against Reinchenback he sties Hume.[28] Popper glosses over Kant’s attempt at a prori justification of syetnic a priori statements.[29] In the end Popper disparages finding a solution and determines that induction is not the hallmark of science. Popper argues that truth alludes science since it’s only real ability is to produce probability. Probability and not truth is what science can produce. “…but scientific statements can only attain continuous degrees of probability whose unattainable upper and lower limits are truth and falsity’.”[30] He goes on to argue against probability as a measure of inductive logic.[31]Then he’s going to argue for an approach he calls “deductive method of testing.. In this case he argues that an hypothesis can only be empirically tested and only after it has been advanced.[32] What has been established so far is enough to destroy the fortress of facts of idea. The defeat of a principle of induction as a means of understanding truth is primary defeat for the idea that science is going about establishing a big pile of facts. What all of this is driving at of course is the idea that science is not so much the process of fact discovery as it is the process of elimination of bad idea taken as fact. Science doesn’t prove facts it disproves hypotheses.. Falsifying theories is the real business of science. It’s the comparison to theory in terms of what is left after falsification has been done that makes for a seeming ‘truth-likeness,’ or verisimilitude. Falsification is a branch of what Popper calls “Demarcation.” This issue refers to the domain or the territory of the scientists work. Induction does not mark out the proper demarcation. The criticism he is answering in discussing demarcation is that removing induction removes for science it’s most important distinction from metaphysical speculation. He states that this is precisely his reason for rejecting induction because “it does not provide a suitable distinguishing mark of the empirical non metaphysical character of a theoretical system,”[33] this is what he calls “demarcation.”

[34] Popper writes with reference to positivistic philosophers as the sort of umpires of scientific mythology. He was a philosopher and the project of the positivists was to “clear away the clutter” (in the words of A.J. Ayer) for science so it could get on with it’s work. Positivistic philosophers were the janitors of science. Positivists had developed the credo that “meaningful statements” (statements of empirical science) must be statements that are “fully decided.” That is to say, they had to be both falsifiable and verifiable. The requirement for verifiable is really a requirement similar to the notion of proving facts, or truth. Verifiability is not the same thing as facticiy or proof it’s easy to see how psychologically it reinforces th sense that science is about proving things. He quotes several positivists in reinforcing this idea: Thus Schlick says: “. . . a genuine statement must be capable of conclusive verification” Waismann says, “If there is no possible way to determine whether a statement is true then that statement has no meaning whatsoever. For the meaning of a statement is the method of its verification.” [34] Yet Popper disagrees with them. He writes that there is no such thing as induction. He discusses particular statements which are verified by experience just opens up the same issues he launched in the beginning one cannot derive universal statements from experience. Therefore, theories are never theories are never empirically verifiable. He argues that the only way to deal with the demarcation problem is to admit statements that are not empirically verified."[35]

But I shall certainly admit a system as empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience. These considerations suggest that not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation. In other words: I shall not require of a Scientific system that it shall be capable of being singled out, once and for all, in a positive sense; but I shall require that its logical form shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience.
[36]

What this means in relation to the “fortress of facts” idea is that it transgresses upon the domain of science. Compiling a fortress of facts is beyond the scope of science and also denudes science of it’s domain.

He deals with the objection that science is supposed to give us positive knowledge and to reduce it to a system of falsification only negates its major purpose. He deals with this by saying this criticism carries little weight since the amount of positive information is greater the more likely it is to clash. The reason being laws of nature get more done the more they act as a limit on possibility, in other words, he puts it, “not for nothing do we call the laws of nature laws. They more they prohibit the more they say.”[37]


see also my note on Popper's Improbability Criterion

sources

[15] Steven Thornton, “Karl Popper,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2011 edition Edward N. Zalta Editor, URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/popper/ vested 2/6/2012

[16] ibid

[17] Miriam-Webster. M-W.com On line version of Webster’s dictionary. URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/verisimilar?show=0&t=1328626983 visited 2/7/2012

[18] Thornton, ibid.

[19] ibid

[20] ibid

[21] ibid

[22] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London, New York:Routledge Classics, original English publication 1959 by Hutchison and co. by Routldege 1992. On line copy URL: http://www.cosmopolitanuniversity.ac/library/LogicofScientificDiscoveryPopper1959.pdf digital copy by Cosmo oedu visited 2/6/2012, p4

[23] ibid

[24] ibid

[25] ibid, 5

[26] Hans Reinchenbach (1891-1953) German philosopher, attended Einstein’s lectures and contributed to work on Quantum Mechanics. He fled Germany to escape Hitler wound up teaching at UCLA.

[27] Popper, ibid, referece to , H. Reichenbach, Erkenntnis 1, 1930, p. 186 (cf. also pp. 64 f.). Cf. the penultimate paragraph of Russell’s chapter xii, on Hume, in his History of Western Philosophy, 1946,

p. 699.

[28] ibid, Popper, 5

[29] ibid, 6

[30] ibid 6

[31] ibid, 7

[32] ibid

[33] ibid 11

[34] ibid, 17, references to Schlick, Naturwissenschaften 19, 1931, p. 150. and Waismann, Erkenntnis 1, 1903, p. 229.

[35] Ibid 18

[36] ibid

[37] ibid, 19 the quotation about laws is found on p 19 but the over all argument is developed over sections 31-46 spanning pages 95-133.

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Monday, May 23, 2022

Atheist Fortress of Facts is Cultural Construct

I speak of the atheist fortress of facts in dealimg with their attitudes that we have this pile of fact and religion has none. No facts disprove God. This whole tenedency is the upshot of an ideology.

Not Facts but Verisimilitude:

Karl Popper (1902-1994) is one of the most renewed and highly respected figures in the philosophy of science. Popper was from Vienna, of Jewish origin, maintained a youthful flirtation with Marxism, and left his native land due to the rise of Nazism in the late thirties. He is considered to be among the ranks of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. Popper is highly respected by scientists in a way that most philosophers of science are not.[1]

He was also a social and political philosopher of considerable stature, a self-professed ‘critical-rationalist’, a dedicated opponent of all forms of scepticism, conventionalism, and relativism in science and in human affairs generally, a committed advocate and staunch defender of the ‘Open Society’, and an implacable critic of totalitarianism in all of its forms. One of the many remarkable features of Popper's thought is the scope of his intellectual influence. In the modern technological and highly-specialised world scientists are rarely aware of the work of philosophers; it is virtually unprecedented to find them queuing up, as they have done in Popper's case, to testify to the enormously practical beneficial impact which that philosophical work has had upon their own. But notwithstanding the fact that he wrote on even the most technical matters with consummate clarity, the scope of Popper's work is such that it is commonplace by now to find that commentators tend to deal with the epistemological, scientific and social elements of his thought as if they were quite disparate and unconnected, and thus the fundamental unity of his philosophical vision and method has to a large degree been dissipated.[2]

Unfortunately for our purposes we will only be able to skim the surface of Popper’s thoughts on the most crucial aspect of this theory of science, that science is not about proving things but about falsifying them.

Above we see that Dawkins, Stenger and company place their faith in the probability engineered by scientific facts. The problem is probability is not the basis upon which one chooses one theory over another, at least according to Popper. This insight forms the basis of this notion that science can give us verisimilitude not “facts.” Popper never uses the phrase “fortress of facts,” we could add that, science is not a fortress of facts. Science is not giving us “truth,” its’ giving something in place of truth, “verisimilitude.” The term verisimilar means “having the appearance of truth, or probable.” Or it can also mean “depicting realism” as in art or literature.”[3] According to Popper in choosing between two theories one more probable than the other, if one is interested I the informative content of the theory, one should choose the less probable. This is paradoxical but the reason is that probability and informative content very inversely. The higher informative content of a theory is more predictive since the more information contained in a statement the greater the number of ways the statement will turn out to fail or be proved wrong. At that rate mystical experience should be the most scientific view point. If this dictum were applied to a choice between Stenger’s atheism and belief in God mystical God belief would be more predictive and have less likelihood of being wrong because it’s based upon not speaking much about what one experiences as truth. We will see latter that this is actually the case in terms of certain kinds of religious experiences. I am not really suggesting that the two can be compared. They are two different kinds of knowledge. Even though mystical experience per se can be falsified (which will be seen in subsequent chapters) belief in God over all can’t be. The real point is that arguing that God is less probable is not a scientifically valid approach.

Thus the statements which are of special interest to the scientist are those with a high informative content and (consequentially) a low probability, which nevertheless come close to the truth. Informative content, which is in inverse proportion to probability, is in direct proportion to testability. Consequently the severity of the test to which a theory can be subjected, and by means of which it is falsified or corroborated, is all-important.[4]

Scientific criticism of theories must be piecemeal. We can’t question every aspect of a theory at once. For this reason one must accept a certain amount of background knowledge. We can’t have absolute certainty. Science is not about absolute certainty, thus rather than speak of “truth” we speak of “verisimilitude.” No single observation can be taken to falsify a theory. There is always the possibility that the observation is mistaken, or that the assumed background knowledge is faulty.[5] Uneasy with speaking of “true” theories or ideas, or that a corroborated theory is “true,” Popper asserted that a falsified theory is known to be false. He was impressed by Tarski’s 1963 reformulation of the corresponded theory of truth. That is when Popper reformulated his way of speaking to frame the concept of “truth-likeness” or “verisimilitude,” according to Thronton.[6] I wont go into all the ramifications of verisimilitude, but Popper has an extensive theory to cover the notion. Popper’s notions of verisimilitude were critixized by thinkers in the 70’s such as Miller, Tichy’(grave over the y) and Grunbaum (umlaut over the first u) brought out problems with the concept. In an attempt to repair the theory Popper backed off claims to being able to access the numerical levels of verisimilitude between two theories.[7] The resolution of this problem has not diminished the admiration for Popper or his acceptance in the world of philosophy of science. Nor is the solution settled in the direction of acceptance for the fortress of facts. Science is not closer to the fact making business just because there are problems with verisimilitude.

Science doesn’t prove but Falsifies

The aspect of Popper’s theory for which he is best known is probably the idea of falsification. In 1959 He published the Logic of Scientific Discovery in which he rigorously and painstakingly demonstrated why science can’t prove but can only disprove, or falsify. Popper begins by observing that science uses inductive methods and thus is thought to be marked and defined by this approach. By the use of the inductive approach science moves from “particular statements,” such as the result of an experiment, to universal statements such as an hypothesis or theories. Yet, Popper observes, the fallacy of this kind of reasoning has always been known. Regardless of how many times we observe white swans “this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.”[8] He points out this is the problem of universal statements, which can’t be grounded in experience because experience is not universal, at least not human experience. One might observe this is also a problem of empirical observation. Some argue that we can know universal statements to be true by experience; this is only true if the experiences are universal as well. Such experience can only be a singular statement. This puts it in the same category with the original problem so it can’t do any better.[9] The only way to resolve the problem of induction, Popper argues, is to establish a principle of induction. Such a principle would be a statement by which we could put inductive inferences into logically acceptable form. He tells us that upholders of the need for such a principle would say that without science can’t provide truth or falsehood of its theories.[10]

The principle can’t be a purely logical statement such as tautology or a prori reasoning, if it could there would be no problem of induction. This means it must be a synthetic statement, empirically derived. Then he asked “how can we justify statement on rational grounds?” [11] After all he’s just demonstrated that an empirical statement can’t be the basis of a universal principle. Then to conclude that there must be a universal principle of logic that justifies induction knowing that it ahs to be an empirical statement, just opens up the problem again. He points out that Reichenbach[12] would point that such the principle of induction is accepted by all of science.[13] Against Reinchenback he sties Hume.[14] Popper glosses over Kant’s attempt at a prori justification of syetnic a priori statements.[15] In the end Popper disparages finding a solution and determines that induction is not the hallmark of science. Popper argues that truth alludes science since it’s only real ability is to produce probability. Probability and not truth is what science can produce. “…but scientific statements can only attain continuous degrees of probability whose unattainable upper and lower limits are truth and falsity’.”[16] He goes on to argue against probability as a measure of inductive logic.[17] Then he’s going to argue for an approach he calls “deductive method of testing.. In this case he argues that an hypothesis can only be empirically tested and only after it has been advanced. [18]

What has been established so far is enough to destroy the fortress of facts of idea. The defeat of a principle of induction as a means of understanding truth is primary defeat for the idea that science is going about establishing a big pile of facts. What all of this is driving at of course is the idea that science is not so much the process of fact discovery as it is the process of elimination of bad idea taken as fact. Science doesn’t prove facts it disproves hypotheses.. Falsifying theories is the real business of science. It’s the comparison to theory in terms of what is left after falsification has been done that makes for a seeming ‘truth-likeness,’ or verisimilitude. Falsification is a branch of what Popper calls “Demarcation.” This issue refers to the domain or the territory of the scientists work. Induction does not mark out the proper demarcation. The criticism he is answering in discussing demarcation is that removing induction removes for science it’s most important distinction from metaphysical speculation. He states that this is precisely his reason for rejecting induction because “it does not provide a suitable distinguishing mark of the empirical non metaphysical character of a theoretical system,”[19] this is what he calls “demarcation.”

Popper writes with reference to positivistic philosophers as the sort of umpires of scientific mythology. He was a philosopher and the project of the positivists was to “clear away the clutter” (in the words of A.J. Ayer) for science so it could get on with it’s work. Positivistic philosophers were the janitors of science. Positivists had developed the credo that “meaningful statements” (statements of empirical science) must be statements that are “fully decided.” That is to say, they had to be both falsifiable and verifiable. The requirement for verifiable is really a requirement similar to the notion of proving facts, or truth. Verifiability is not the same thing as facticiy or proof it’s easy to see how psychologically it reinforces th sense that science is about proving things. He quotes several positivists in reinforcing this idea: Thus Schlick says: “. . . a genuine statement must be capable of conclusive verification” Waismann says, “If there is no possible way to determine whether a statement is true then that statement has no meaning whatsoever. For the meaning of a statement is the method of its verification.”[20] Yet Popper disagrees with them. He writes that there is no such thing as induction. He discusses particular statements which are verified by experience just opens up the same issues he launched in the beginning one cannot derive universal statements from experience. “Therefore, theories are never theories are never empirically verifiable. He argues that the only way to deal with the demarcation problem is to admit statements that are not empirically verified.[21]

But I shall certainly admit a system as empirical or scientific only if it is capable of being tested by experience. These considerations suggest that not the verifiability but the falsifiability of a system is to be taken as a criterion of demarcation. In other words: I shall not require of a Scientific system that it shall be capable of being singled out, once and for all, in a positive sense; but I shall require that its logical form shall be such that it can be singled out, by means of empirical tests, in a negative sense: it must be possible for an empirical scientific system to be refuted by experience.[22]

What this means in relation to the “fortress of facts” idea is that it transgresses upon the domain of science. Compiling a fortress of facts is beyond the scope of science and also denudes science of it’s domain.

He deals with the objection that science is supposed to give us positive knowledge and to reduce it to a system of falsification only negates its major purpose. He deals with this by saying this criticism carries little weight since the amount of positive information is greater the more likely it is to clash. The reason being laws of nature get more done the more they act as a limit on possibility, in other words, he puts it, “not for nothing do we call the laws of nature laws. They more they prohibit the more they say.”[22]



sources

[1] Steven Thornton, “Karl Popper,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2011 edition Edward N. Zalta Editor, URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/popper/ vested 2/6/2012

[2] ibid

[3] Miriam-Webster. M-W.com On line version of Webster’s dictionary. URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/verisimilar?show=0&t=1328626983 visited 2/7/2012

[4] Thornton, ibid.

[5] ibid

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery. London, New York:Routledge Classics, original English publication 1959 by Hutchison and co. by Routldege 1992. On line copy URL: http://www.cosmopolitanuniversity.ac/library/LogicofScientificDiscoveryPopper1959.pdf digital copy by Cosmo oedu visited 2/6/2012, p4

[9] ibid

[10] ibid

[11] ibid, 5

[12] Hans Reinchenbach (1891-1953) German philosopher, attended Einstein’s lectures and contributed to work on Quantum Mechanics. He fled Germany to escape Hitler wound up teaching at UCLA.

[13] Popper, ibid, referece to , H. Reichenbach, Erkenntnis 1, 1930, p. 186 (cf. also pp. 64 f.). Cf. the penultimate paragraph of Russell’s chapter xii, on Hume, in his History of Western Philosophy, 1946,

p. 699.

[14] ibid, Popper, 5

[15] ibid, 6

[16] ibid 6

[17] ibid, 7

[18] ibid

[19] ibid 11

[20] ibid, 17, references to Schlick, Naturwissenschaften 19, 1931, p. 150. and Waismann, Erkenntnis 1, 1903, p. 229.

[21] Ibid 18

[22] ibid

[23] ibid, 19 the quotation about laws is found on p 19 but the over all argument is developed over sections 31-46 spanning pages 95-133.



Thursday, May 19, 2022

The M Scale and Universal Nature of Mystical Experience



Ralph Hood Jr. The University
of Tennessee at Chattanooga

The M scale is very important in my book The Trace of God by Joseph Hinman

please click here, go to my book trailer and watch it so it will move higher up the ladder on You tube, so it will be seen by more people.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tGmDnyI7Aw

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Why should we assume that such experiences are experiences of the divine? The first reason is because the content of the experience is largely that of the divine. Even when the experience is interpreted by the receiver not be about God the receiver has been known to act in way consistently with belief in God, and the experience described is the same experience as those described by those who say ‘this was God.’ Ergo it’s just a matter of interpretation. The vast majority of those who have these experiences do believe they are about God.[1] Secondly, there is a voluminous and ancient tradition of writing about experiences by people from all over the world, and the brunt of this tradition is that it’s an experience of the divine. Literary and philosophical works such as Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill,[2] The works of W.T. Stace[3] and many other such writings which catalogue the writings of these experiences, and many more works of the experiences of individual mystics by the mystics themselves. Thirdly, grounded in empirical evidence, the universal nature of such experiences implies the experience of a source external to the human mind encountered by all who have such experiences. When I say “external” I mean it originates externally but is experienced internally. This includes human brain structure and brain chemistry as a conduit not that it circumvents natural processes.

The works of W.T. Stace are very influential. He shows that, as Ralph Hood Jr. put it, “within and eventually outside of the great faith traditions mysticism has flourished.”[4] 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.[5]

In speaking of “mystical experience” we are not talking about visions or voices. We are not talking about miracles or God speaking to people. We are talking about “the sense of the numinous,” a sense of presence, a sense of undifferentiated unity of all things. The claim is often made that this is an unmediated experience of reality. The veil is taken back on the thing behind the fa├žade and reality is experienced directly. The notion of an unmediated experience is debatable and not essential to an understanding of the experience. A couple of examples might be helpful. It’s helpful to understand that mystical experiences come in two forms, introvertive and extrovertive. Intorovertive experiences are without time and space; they are not keyed to any external landmark or visual que. They seem to be beyond word, thought, or image. Extrovertive experiences are often keyed to a land mark and seem like projecting a sense onto the image of nature. For example the sense that God is pervading the physical space in nature around which one views a scene in nature. Or a sense that all the natural landscape around forms some sort of whole that’s meaningful and indicative as an understanding of all reality.

Common Core Vs. Perennial Philosophy

Hood takes these kinds of statements as phenomenological and descriptive of a personal experience. The true nature of that experience as unmediated is not important. The issue is that its universality, since it should be culturally constructed is indicative of more than just a trick of brain chemistry or cultural constructs. Ralph Hood Jr. argues for what is called “the common core hypothesis.” This is not a perennial philosophy one often finds discussed as part of mystical experience. The distinction is hat perennial almost construct a separate religion out of mystical experience and puts it over against faith traditions. The common core hypothesis merely recognizes that there is a common core experience that is universal to mystical experience, and thus it can be argued that it’s an experience of some reality external to just human brain structure. Yet it doesn’t try to collapse faith traditions into a particular theological formulation. Moreover, the common core hypothesis just takes the common core as a phenomenological reality not a theological or ontological demand about reality. Yet mystical experience “promotes a special type of human experience that is at once unitive and nondiscursive, at once self fulfilling and self-effacing.”[6] Introvertive mystical has been identified as “pure consciousness.” This kind of experience lacks content and can’t be tied to a cultural construct or personal influence.[7] While it is the case that these kinds of experiences are interpreted in various ways, and it is the case that various theological explanations tailored to a given tradition are advanced for these, as many as there are mystics to have the, the real diversity comes not from the experience but from the explanations attached to the experiences.[8] Much of the discussion about common core is tied to the texts of a given literature. There various bodies of mystical literature, the important once for our purposes is the empirical. This is a measurement based empirical scientific literature such as the work of Hood.[9]

Many names loom large in that body of literature; Greeley, Maslow, Wuthnow, Nobel, Lukoff and Lu, none more prolific or significant than Hood. Hood entered the field in the early 70s when he was a young man. Since that time he has done a huge a mount of research and is best known for developing what is called ‘the Mysticism scale,” or “M scale.” This is a 32 item questionnaire that is scored in a particular way and is calculated to test the veracity of Stace’s theories. 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 (see the five point list above) 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 the M scale for research and thus 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 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 Langue, 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 langue 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 “Chrsit” version and both were given to Christian relevant samples. The scales were “factor analyzed” that just means 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.” This means the respondents saw “God,” “Christ” and “ultimate reality” as coterminous, or as the same things. That means Christians who have mystical experience understand God, Christ, and Reality as reffering to the same things.[17]

For all three versions matched Stace’s phenomenologically derived theory. “For all three intervertive, extrovertive and interpirative factors emerged.”[18] That means 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 appreciate 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, Christian 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] Hood and Spilka 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 experince, 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 validate Stace’s findings. Hood and Spilka (et al) then go on to argue that empirical research supports a common core/perinnialist 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 term “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 experiences 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. 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.


NOTES
[1] find, Trace of God
[22] Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism: A study on the Nature and Development of Man’s Spiritual consciousness. New York: Dutton, 1911.
[3] W.T. Stace, Teachings of the Mystics: Selections from the Greatest Mystics and Mystical Writers of the World. New American Library 1960. A good General overview of Stace’s understanding of mysticism is Mystical Experience Registry: Mysticism Defined by W.T. Stace. found onine at URL:
http://www.bodysoulandspirit.net/mystical_experiences/learn/experts_define/stace.shtml
[4] Ralph Hood Jr. “The Common Core Thesis in the Study of Mysticism.” In Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Patrick Mcnamara ed. West Port CT: Prager Publications, 2006, 119-235. Google books on line version: URL http://books.google.com.cu/books?id=0bzj3RtT3zIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=true visited 8/20/2012
[5] Robert J. Voyle, “The Impact of Mystical Experiences Upon Christian Maturity.” originally published in pdf format: http://www.voyle.com/impact.pdf. google html version here: http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:avred7zleAEJ Voyle is quoting Hood in 1985, Hood in return is speaking Stace. :www.voyle.com/impact.pdf+Hood+scale+and+religious+experience&hl=en&gl =us&ct=clnk&cd=2&ie=UTF-8
[6] Matilal (1992) in Hood, ibid, 127.
[7] Hood, ibid.
[8] ibid.
[9] ibid.
[10] find JL Hinman, the Trace of God, Studies chapter, also Hood ibid, 128.
[11] Find, John Hick
[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, ibid, 128
[14] Hood, ibid, 128
[15] ibid.
[16] ibid, 129
[17] ibid
[18] ibid
[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] Find trace of God J.L. Hinman, fn 47-50 are original fn in that source
[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.


Sunday, May 15, 2022

Answer to Theodicy: Soteriological Drama

People all the time use the problem of pain as an occasion to blame God. Others have serious questions. Why does God allow the mess to go on? We have all asked this. These the answers I've found.

The Free Will Defense is offered by Christian apologists as an answer to any sort of atheist argument such as the problem of pain or the problem of evil. The argument runs something like: God values free will because "he" ("she"?) doesn't want robots. The problem with this approach is that it often stops short in analysis as to why free will would be a higher value than anything else. This leaves the atheist in a position of arguing any number of pains and evil deeds and then crying that God had to know these things would happen, thus God must be cruel for creating anything at all knowing the total absolute pain (which usually includes hell in most atheist arguments) would result from creation.

The apologists answers usually fail to satisfy the atheist, because in their minds nothing can outweigh the actual inflicting of pain. Sometimes atheists evoke omnipotence and play it off against the value of free will, making the assumption that an "all powerful God" could do anything, thus God should be able to cancel any sort of moral debt, make sin beyond our natures, create a pain free universe, and surely if God were all loving, God would have done so.

The better twist on the free will defense would be to start from a different position. We should start with the basis for creation, in so far as we can understand it, and then to show how the logical and non self contradictory requirements of the logic of creation require free will. What is usually missing or not pointed out is the necessity of free will in the making of moral choices. This is the step that atheists and Christian apologists alike sometimes overlook; that it is absolutely essential in a non-self contradictory way, that humanity have free will. Thus, free will must out weight any other value. At that point, since it is a matter of self contradiction, omnipotence cannot be played off against free will, because God's omnipotence does not allow God to dispense with Free will!

Before moving to the argument I want to make it clear that I deal with two separate issues: the problem of pain (not a moral issue--tornadoes and diseases and the like) becasue it doesn't involve human choice. Pain, inflicted by accident and nature is not a moral issue, because it involves no choices. Thus I will not deal with that here. I am only concerned in this argument with the the problem of evil that is, the problem of moral choice. The free will defense cannot apply to examples where the will does not apply.

Basic assumptions

There are three basic assumptions that are hidden, or perhaps not so obvious, but nevertheless must be dealt with here.

(1) The assumption that God wants a "moral universe" and that this value outweighs all others.

The idea that God wants a moral universe I take from my basic view of God and morality. Following in the footsteps of Joseph Fletcher (Situation Ethics) I assume that love is the background of the moral universe (this is also an Augustinian view). I also assume that there is a deeply ontological connection between love and Being. Axiomatically, in my view point, love is the basic impetus of Being itself. Thus, it seems reasonable to me that, if morality is an upshot of love, or if love motivates moral behavior, then the creation of a moral universe is essential.

(2) that internal "seeking" leads to greater internalization of values than forced compliance that would be the result of intimidation.

That's a pretty fair assumption. We all know that people will do a lot more to achieve a goal they truly believe in than one they merely feel forced or obligated to follow but couldn't care less about.

(3)the drama or the big mystery is the only way to accomplish that end.

The pursuit of the value system becomes a search of the heart for ultimate meaning,that ensures that people continue to seek it until it has been fully internalized.

The argument would look like this:

(1)God's purpose in creation: to create a Moral Universe, that is one in which free moral agents willingly choose the Good.

(2) Moral choice requires absolutely that choice be free (thus free will is necessitated).

(3) Allowance of free choices requires the risk that the chooser will make evil choices

(4)The possibility of evil choices is a risk God must run, thus the value of freedom outweighs all other considerations, since without that there would be no moral universe and the purpose of creation would be thwarted.

This leaves the atheist in the position of demanding to know why God doesn't just tell everyone that he's there, and that he requires moral behavior, and what that entails. Thus there would be no mystery and people would be much less inclined to sin.

This is the point where Soteriological Drama figures into it. Argument on Soteriological Drama:

(5) Life is a "Drama" not for the sake of entertainment, but in the sense that a dramatic tension exists between our ordinary observations of life on a daily basis, and the ultimate goals, ends and purposes for which we are on this earth.

(6) Clearly God wants us to seek on a level other than the obvious, daily, demonstrative level or he would have made the situation more plain to us

(7) We can assume that the reason for the "big mystery" is the internalization of choices. If God appeared to the world in an open objective fashion and laid down the rules, we would probably all try to follow them, but we would not want to follow them. Thus our obedience would be lip service and not from the heart.

(8) Therefore, God wants a heartfelt response which is an internationalized value system that comes through the search for existential answers; that search is phenomenological; introspective, internal, not amenable to ordinary demonstrative evidence.

In other words, we are part of a great drama and our actions and our dilemmas and our choices are all part of the way we respond to the situation as characters in a drama.

This theory also explains why God doesn't often regenerate limbs in healing the sick. That would be a dead giveaway. God creates criteria under which healing takes place, that criteria can't negate the overall plan of a search.

Objection:

One might object that this couldn't outweigh babies dying or the horrors of war or the all the countless injustices and outrages that must be allowed and that permeate human history. It may seem at first glance that free will is petty compared to human suffering. But I am not advocating free will for the sake of any sort of pleasure or imagined moral victory that accrues from having free will, it's a totally pragmatic issue; that internalizing the value of the good requires that one choose to do so, and free will is essential if choice is required. Thus it is not a capricious or selfish defense of free will, not a matter of choosing our advantage or our pleasure over that of dying babies, but of choosing the key to saving the babies in the long run,and to understanding why we want to save them, and to care about saving them, and to actually choosing their saving over our own good.

In deciding what values outweigh other values we have to be clear about our decision making paradigm. From a utilitarian standpoint the determinant of lexically ordered values would be utility, what is the greatest good for the greatest number? This would be determined by means of outcome, what is the final tally sheet in terms of pleasure over pain to the greatest aggregate? But why is that to be the value system we decide by? It's just one value system and much has been written about the bankruptcy of consequentialist ethics. If one uses a deontological standard it might be a different thing to consider the lexically ordered values. Free will predominates because it allows internalization of the good. The good is the key to any moral value system. This could be justified on both deontological and teleological premises.

My own moral decision making paradigm is deontological, because I believe that teleological ethics reduces morality to the decision making of a ledger sheet and forces the individual to do immoral things in the name of "the greatest good for the greatest number." I find most atheists are utilitarians so this will make no sense to them. They can't help but think of the greatest good/greatest number as the ultimate adage, and deontology as empty duty with no logic to it. But that is not the case. Deontology is not just rule keeping, it is also duty oriented ethics. The duty that we must internalize is that ultimate duty that love demands of any action. Robots don't love. One must freely choose to give up self and make a selfless act in order to act from Love. Thus we cannot have a love oriented ethics, or we cannot have love as the background of the moral universe without free will, because love involves the will.

The choice of free will at the expense of countless lives and untold suffering cannot be an easy thing, but it is essential and can be justified from either deontological or teleological perspective. Although I think the deontological makes more sense. From the teleological standpoint, free will ultimately leads to the greatest good for the greatest number because in the long run it assures us that one is willing to die for the other, or sacrifice for the other, or live for the other. That is essential to promoting a good beyond ourselves. The individual sacrifices for the good of the whole, very utilitarian. It is also deontologically justifiable since duty would tell us that we must give of ourselves for the good of the other.

Thus anyway you slice it free will outweighs all other concerns because it makes available the values of the good and of love. Free will is the key to ultimately saving the babies, and saving them because we care about them, a triumph of the heart, not just action from wrote. It's internalization of a value system without which other and greater injustices could be foisted upon an unsuspecting humanity that has not been taught to choose to lay down one's own life for the other.