Monday, August 08, 2022

God, Science, and Ideology

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0982408765 Joseph Hinman's new book is God, Science and Ideology. Hinman argues that atheists and skeptics who use science as a barrier to belief in God are not basing doubt on science itself but upon an ideology that adherer's to science in certain instances. This ideology, "scientism," assumes that science is the only valid form of knowledge and rules out religious belief. Hinman argues that science is neutral with respect to belief in God … In this book Hinman with atheist positions on topics such as consciousness and the nature of knowledge, puts to rest to arguments of Lawrence M. Krauss, Victor J. Stenger, and Richard Dawkins, and delimits the areas for potential God arguments.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Evolutionary Development of The God Concept




An Atheist on Cadre blog linked to a Wiki article (an article flagged as needing work be that as it may) saying:

Barbara King argues that while non-human primates are not religious, they do exhibit some traits that would have been necessary for the evolution of religion. These traits include high intelligence, a capacity for symbolic communication, a sense of social norms, realization of "self" and a concept of continuity.[1][2] There is inconclusive evidence that Homo neanderthalensis may have buried their dead which is evidence of the use of ritual. The use of burial rituals is thought to be evidence of religious activity, and there is no other evidence that religion existed in human culture before humans reached behavioral modernity.

That is supposed to prove that religion is made up entirely by humans with no God involved. I suggest that evolutionary nature of religion in and of itself is not enough to rule out God,After all of God users evolution in creation then we should expect God to allow evolutionary nature of religion to shape human development. Here is my article (part 1) showing how the evolutionary nature of religious development is not contrary to God.

All experiences of the divine must be filtered through cultural constructs, or symbols. God is beyond our understanding, thus beyond language. If we are talk about our experiences, however badly, we must filter them through culture.

RELIGION, although inherent in man, borrows its expressions from the setting or milieu in which man appears. The forms through which man expresses the supernatural are all drawn from the cultural heritage and the environment known to him, and are structured according to his dominant patterns of experience.In a hunting culture this means that the main target of observation, the animal, is the ferment of suggestive influence on representations of the supernatural. This must not be interpreted as meaning that all ideas of the supernatural necessarily take animal form. First of all, spirits do appear also as human beings, although generally less frequently; the high-god, for instance, if he exists, is often thought of as a being of human appearance. Second, although spirits may manifest themselves as animals they may evince a human character and often also human modes of action.[1]

Narrative is psychologically important to humans because it enables us to put things in perspective, to put ourselves into the story and to understand. Anything can be narrative. Even when events are taken as historical and the consciousness of myth falls away, the narrative is no less naratival. The resurrection of Christ, the existence of Jesus and his claims to be Messiah, all I take to be history and truth. Yet these are also part of the meta-narrative of Christianity. The meat-narrative is not closed or not an ideology or truth regime as long as it can be open to outside voices and to adult itself to them. For that reason the narrative hast to be fluid. The reason for this is that it has to explain the word in a new way to each new generation. To the extent that it can keep doing this it continues to be relevant and survives. This is equivalent to Kuhn’s paradigm absorbing the anomalies. Even when a certain set of fact is held out as historical and more that, but “the truth” such as Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, there is still an interpretation, a spin an understanding of just exactly how to put it, that varies from time to time and culture to culture. The facts of the event don’t change, the historical significance of it doesn’t change, but the way of relating it to each generation anew does change. This is not say that ideology doesn’t change, but the change is much slower and less obvious and less fluid. Even when the meta-narrative of a given religious tradition features factual material it’s not closed in the sense that ideology is closed and it’s still fluid.

This is not to say that religious traditions don’t get infected with ideology. When traditions take on ideology they usually form something more than Orthodoxy, something like “fundamentalism.” Orthodoxy is just the recognition of stable boundaries that ground the fluid nature of the narrative in expression of continuity. While ideology seeks to create a black hole, like the eternal conflict between communism and anti-communism, that absorbs all light and allows nothing to escape; the attempt to suck everything in one eternal understanding. Ideology in religious tradition probably is most often he result of literalizing the metaphors. When we forget that the metaphor bridges the gap between what we know and we don’t know—through comparison--and that it contains a “like” and a “not-like” dimension, we begin to associate the metaphor with truth in literal way then we begin to formulate ideology. Critics of religious thinking might be apt to confuse dogma with ideology. Religious ideas are not automatically ideological, dogma is not automatically ideological. It’s the literalistic elements in some religious thinking (not all of course) that closes off the realm of discourse and crates a closed truth regime. The danger of form ideology may be acute in a religious setting since it is easy to confuse the metaphor with literal truth by casting over it the aura of the sacred. We often associate the things pertaining to belief in God with God, and in so doing forger a literalism that closes off discourse. Yet religious belief as a whole is too fluid to be fully ideological. Ideology is self protecting and self perpetuating. Thomas Kuhn’s talk about damage control in paradigm defense is a good example of the self defending nature of ideology. While meta-narrative often reflects concepts of divine truth, it’s too changeable to be ideological. Even though theology resists change and novelty is a bad thing in theological parlance, meta-narrative changes in spite of it all. The fact of changed is noted in the many examples of different versions of the same myth. One such change turns upon a burning question that must be raised at this point, why did religious thinking move from numatic realization to a theocentric nature?

Why “God?” The same can be asked of the female form? Why a pseudo-parental, suzerain figure who creates the world and is in charge of the cosmos? Why not, since this model is obviously a metaphor comparing the unknown with some aspect of reality we know well, why that aspect and not another? What did people worship before they worshipped gods? Anthropology tells us that the shamanistic style of animism is older than the concept of a creator god.[2] This form of belief dates back to the stone age. Native American tribe “Shosoni, like other hunting people in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America, have an idea of a “master of the animals,” or an “owner,” a supernatural being who is in charge of the animals:

Hunting peoples in Africa, Europe, Asia and America have developed the idea of a supernatural owner of the animal species, or of all animals, who protects them, commands them, and at request from hunters delivers them to be slayed and eaten. The concept is not infrequent in North America. The master of animals is a spirit, generally figured as an animal. The Shoshoni have possibly in very remote times known the coyote, or rather the mythical Coyote, as a master of animals. With the impact of Plains Indian culture the buffalo and the eagle have halfway achieved the position as master of animals and master of birds, respectively. In all fairness it should be pointed out, however, that this type of concept is very little noticeable among the Shoshoni.[3]

We must be cautious but since “shamanism” is connected to animism this owner of the animals might imply a transition between animistic thinking and beliefs in gods. We can’t say that all religions evolved in the same way in every location, but it does seem that in general it was an evolution from nameless “spirits” to specific pantheon of gods. The development of the concept of God was probably influenced by thoughts of parents, of tribal chiefs, or the leader, long before they became complex enough to fit a suzerain model. Yet it does seem that the concept of God evolved out of an understanding of nature oriented religion and evolved slowly over time based upon comparison with the authority figures we know best in life.

In his work The Evolution of God,[4] Robert Wright distills the work of anthropology over the last two centuries and demonstrates an evolutionary development, form early superstition that personified nature (pre-historic people talking to the wind)[5], through a polytheistic origin in pre-Hebrew Israelite culture,[6] to monotheistic innovation with the God of the Bible.[7] Wright is distilling a huge body of work that stretches back to the ninetieth century, the work of countless archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists. Another such successful distiller of scholarship in recent years is Karen Armstrong. In her work A History of God: The 4000 year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, [8] she presents a similar evolutionary story, focusing specifically upon the Biblical religions. She sees the pre-historical religious scene through the eyes of wonderment at the world around us. The cave paintings she understands as an attempt to record participation in the all pervasive aspect of the enchanted world.[9] The general agreement between scholarship, social sciences, and the work of anthropologists is that the concept of God is a product of the evolution of human thought.[10] At one time the concept was not, then it began and it has developed over time. Of course the great body of this work is coming out of naturalistic assumptions, especially in the ninetieth century. In the anthropological study of the evolution of religion those assumptions centered around the concept of projection in human thinking. People are projecting the relationship with the father or the king. This assumption can be traced to the work of Ludwig Feuerbach, social critic and precursor to Marxian analysis (God is the mask of money). He understood the concept of projection in terms of Hegel’s philosophy of spirit.[11] In The Essence of Christianity Feuerbach argues that superhuman deities are involuntary projections based upon the attributes of human nature.[12] How this thesis came to be the basis of modern anthropological understanding of religious evolution is not hard to seek. As Harvey puts it “It became the Bible to a group of revolutionary thinkers including, Arnold Ruge, the Bauers, Karl Marx, Richard Wagner, Frederic Engles.[13] This circle became a major part of the basis of modern social thought. While modern anthropology has not necessarily played out Feuerbach’s actual inversion of Hegel it has taken its que from him by making assumptions about theoroes of prodjection of one kind or another. Hegel did not think of God as some projection of human imagination. Feuerbach inverted Hegel’s concept to produce the idea. Hegel understood stages of human culture as “moments in the unfolding of absolute spirit.”[14] Thus, as Harvey points out, the various stages in religious development can be seen as stages in the self manifestation of Spirit.[15] In other words, from the cave paintings, to the shamans and the wind talkers to the highest aspirations of Judo-Christian ethics, Spirit (God), is making himself aware of himself by moving through progressive revelation to humanity. “In other words, the history of religion culminating in Christianity was a progressive revelation of the truth that the absolute is not merely an impersonal substance but a subject.”[16] Feuerbach inverts this principal by asserting that finite spirit is becoming aware of itself through externalizing its own attributes and then projecting them into magnified from.[17] On Feuerbach’s part this was the result of a long struggle with idealism. Be that as it may, and for both sides, it’s clearly the roots of ideology. It sowed the seeds of ideology in terms of the social sciences naturalistic assumptions. Now we find those same kinds of assumptions being made with regard to the laws of physics. Paul Davies has been quoted to say that the traditional view of the laws of physics are just seventeenth century monotheism without God, “Then God got killed off and the laws just free-floated in a conceptual vacuum but retained their theological properties,”[18] The assumption of modernity is always that belief in God is dying out, religion is of the past, these are the things that are dying. Armstrong sounds the death knell and starts singing the dirge in first book. She observes that “one of the reasons why religion seems irrelevant today is that many of us no longer have the sense that we are surrounded by the unseen.”[19] It’s so irrelevant she’s writing books about it.As Thomas Borges, the Sandinista leader said, "that God refuses to die."20

sources

[1] Ake Hultkrantz, “Attitudes Toward Animals in Shashoni Indian Religion,” Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 4, No. 2. (Spring, 1970) © World Wisdom, Inc. no page listed,online archive, URL: http://www.studiesincomparativereligion.com/Public/articles/browse_g.aspx?ID=131, accessed 3/21/13

[2] Weston La Barre, “Shamanic Origins of Religion and Medicine,” Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, vol 11, (1-2) Jan. June 1979 no page listed, PDF, URL: http://www.cnsproductions.com/pdf/LaBarre.pdf accessed 3/22/13.

[3] Hultkrantz, op. cit. the author also cites other works by himself on the matter: Cf. Hultkrantz, The Owner of the Animals in the Religion of the North American Indians (in Hultkrantz, ed., The Supernatural Owners of Nature, Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 1, 1961). Hultkrantz, The Masters of the Animals among the Wind River Shoshoni (Ethnos, Vol. 26:4, 1961).

[4] Robert Wright, The Evolution of God, New York: Back Bay Books, reprint edition, 2010. The book was Originally published in 2009. The company “Back Bay books:" is an imprint of Hachette Books, through Little Brown and company. Wright studied sociobiology at Princeton and taught at Princeton and University of Pennsyania. He edits New Republic and does journalistic writing of science, especially sociobiology.

[5] Wright, ibid, 9 [6] ibid. 10 [7] ibid, 11 [8] Karen Armstrong, A History of God: The 4000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994. [9] Ibid, 4-6 [10] T. M. Manickam,, Dharma According Manu and Moses, Bangalore : Dharmaram Publications, 1977,6. [11] Van A. Harvey, Feuerbach and The Interpretation of Religion, Carmbridge: Press Syndicate for the University of Cambridge, Cambridge Studies in Religion and Critical Thought, 1995/1997, 4. Harvey is professor emeritus, taught religious studies at Stanford Univesity. His Ph.D. from Yale in 1957. His thesis supervisor was H.Richard Neibhur.

[12] Cited by Harvey, ibid., 25.

[13] ibid, 26

. [14] ibid.

[15] ibid.

[16] ibid.

[17] ibid, 27

[18] Dennis Overbye, quoting email message from Paul Davies, “Laws of Nature, Source Unknown,” “Science” New York Times. December 19, 2007. on line edition URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/18/science/18law.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1& accessed, 3/25/13.

[19] Armstrong, op.cit. 4.

[20]Redding, What Difference does a revolution make? I no longer have the book and can't find a reference to it. He quoted the famous leader of the Sandinistas, the founder of their party. Borge wrote to other revolutionaries with the proposal of a united front. He was a Christian even though he was a communist revolutionary.He wrote ro Father Ernesto Cardinal and told him "I tried to kill a God I thought oppressed the poor but God would not die." He tried to be a communist atheist but God kept coming back in his heart. Instead God led him to reach out to mainstream reformers.

Monday, August 01, 2022

The God Who Lurks Behind Modern Science


Last week an interesting question emerged from the comments revolving around  discussion of Lawrence Krauss's A Universe from Nothing. [1] Our Friendly atheist critic "Anonymous" ["Pixie"] said..."But we can easily imagine universes without God. It's not so easy to imagine a universe without any laws of physics." My response: "Modern science formulated the notion of laws of physics from taking out the personality of God and leaving the calculation of mind with power,you talk like science arrived at it;s viewpoint in one afternoon with no knowledge of religion. In reality it slowly evolved out of religious faith with help of thinkers who regarded both as truth." In paraphrasing the general discussion my basic position might be typified by one phrase I uttered: "physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that when physicists find the theory he and his colleagues are looking for - a so-called 'theory of everything' - then they will have seen into "the mind of God". At this point Skeptical chimes in with his usual  vibrato:
- Joe, that is religionist propaganda. It was a metaphor - not to be taken literally. I will grant you that numerous religionists have misinterpreted what Hawking said. But Hawking WAS an atheist. Let me tell you what Hawking later said about his statement on knowing the mind of God (NOT seeing into the mind of God): Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation,” he said. “What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”[2]
    I know he's an atheist. I never said he believed in God. I said his idea borrowed from the general concept of God. Throughout that discussion  Pixie kept saying that the concept of God is not used in science now. I am not sure what he thinks he's getting out of that realization, but it's essentially true  but also misleading. While God is not an operative concept in science today the God concept lurks behind the history of science and modern sciences are shaped by various attempts to take God out of the picture while capitalizing upon the effects of God.  In other words the laws of physics are shaped by taking the personality of God away and leaving the power and law  giving in place.The concept of God is covertly operative in modern science in that way and also in that modern science clearly seeks a  transcendental signified to ground it;s law making upon.

Physicist Paul Davies tells us modern science has tended to avoid questions about the origins of physical law. They've left the question unanswered,  "Traditionally, scientists have treated the laws of physics as simply "given", elegant mathematical relationships that were somehow imprinted on the universe at its birth, and fixed thereafter. Inquiry into the origin and nature of the laws was not regarded as a proper part of science." [3]\
This shared failing is no surprise, because the very notion of physical law has its origins in theology. The idea of absolute, universal, perfect, immutable laws comes straight out of monotheism, which was the dominant influence in Europe at the time science as we know it was being formulated by Isaac Newton and his contemporaries. Just as classical Christianity presents God as upholding the natural order from beyond the universe, so physicists envisage their laws as inhabiting an abstract transcendent realm of perfect mathematical relationships. Furthermore, Christians believe the world depends utterly on God for its existence, while the converse is not the case. Correspondingly, physicists declare that the universe is governed by eternal laws, but the laws remain impervious to events in the universe.[4]
He reminds us: "Dumping the problem in the lap of a pre-existing designer is no explanation at all, as it merely begs the question of who designed the designer. But appealing to a host of unseen universes and a set of unexplained meta-laws is scarcely any better."[5] I don't think he takes seriously the anti-theological Jibber jabber about designing the designer,I think that;s just his way of saying how can we know with final certainty which it is?

That craving for certainty is the impetus behind grand unified theory of everything. Why add “of everything?” That clearly points to the transcendental signified.
In his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time", physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that when physicists find the theory he and his colleagues are looking for - a so-called "theory of everything" - then they will have seen into "the mind of God". Hawking is by no means the only scientist who has associated God with the laws of physics. Nobel laureate Leon Lederman, for example, has made a link between God and a subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Lederman has suggested that when physicists find this particle in their accelerators it will be like looking into the face of God. But what kind of God are these physicists talking about? Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg suggests that in fact this is not much of a God at all. Weinberg notes that traditionally the word "God" has meant "an interested personality". But that is not what Hawking and Lederman mean. Their "god", he says, is really just "an abstract principle of order and harmony", a set of mathematical equations. Weinberg questions then why they use the word "god" at all. He makes the rather profound point that "if language is to be of any use to us, then we ought to try and preserve the meaning of words, and 'god' historically has not meant the laws of nature." The question of just what is "God" has taxed theologians for thousands of years; what Weinberg reminds us is to be wary of glib definitions.[6]
Weinberg tells us the theory of everything will unite all aspects of physical reality in a single elegant explanation.[7] Exactly as does the TS! It's really describing a prescriptive set of laws, so it seems. If their theory can only give descriptions of how the universe behaves how is it going to explain everything? It seems explanatory power only comes with certainty about how things work. That is weaker with probable tendencies than with actual laws. Why are they looking for a single theory to sum it all up if they don't accept some degree of hierarchical causality?[8]

They still use the model of physical law, but they deny its law-like aspects, yet they want it to be unalterable and to sum everything up in one principle. Don't look now but what she is describing is Transcendental Signified, which is the basic job description of God.

Clearly God lurks behind science. First in its development going back to the practices  then if nothing else the preoccupation of modern physicists to escape God leads to modeling the universe after God;s work. They may not name God in the laws of physics but they are definitely conscious of working arouind him. The furthermost back I can go in finding thinkers who tried to formulate laws about the workings of the physical world is Heraclitus 335 BC. Even he had a theological view that was interspersed with his physical understanding.[9] "...He is deeply concerned with the moral implications of physical theory.....Heraclitus recognizes a divine unity behind the cosmos, one that is difficult to identify and perhaps impossible to separate from the processes of the cosmos,"[10]

In modern times the link between the making of laws of physics under Newton and God as law giver via Newton's Christianity is well documented. First his central role as the modern notion of physical law is well developed. [11]Some may be tempted to write off Newton's Christianity with "everyone  was a Christian back then," no one who has studied Newton would say that. His Christianity was not only sincere but advanced:
His polished writings on theology were not the musings of a dilettante but were the products of a committed, brilliant and courageous analyst. If he had published his ideas in the late seventeenth century, he would have had to leave the university, and would almost certainly have retired to what he would have seen as the freedom of his manor in Lincolnshire. He would never have enjoyed the senior political and administrative positions he was awarded in the early eighteenth century and indeed, would never have written the Principia or Opticks. With his appointment at the Mint, and the fame he garnered as a result of his work in the exact sciences, he shed the identity of a retired Cambridge don, and became an eminent metropolitan public figure. He was promoted to Master of the Mint on Boxing Day 1699, and in 1703 he was made President of the Royal Society, being knighted for his services to the state two years later.[12]
We see science began as far back as we can go  and in its early modern phases as an expression of God's creative working. In the old days scientists tried to understand God by understanding nature, now they try to play God by understanding nature.

NOTES


[1] J.L.Hinman, "Review and Debunking of Lawrence Krauss's A Universe From Nothing." comments, Metacrock;s Bloog, (MARCH 06, 2019) http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2019/03/review-and-debnucking-of-lawrence.html [accessed 3/15/19]

[2] Skeptoical quoted Ibid,

[3] Paul Davies, "Yes the Universe looks like a fix: But That Doesn't Mean a God Fixed it." The Guardian, (June 25, 2007) 19.7 EDT https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/jun/26/spaceexploration.comment [accessed 3/15/19]

[4] Ibid

[5] Ibid

[6]Counter balance foundation, “Stephen Hawking's God,” quoted on PBS website Faith and Reason. No date listed. Online resource, URL http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/intro/cosmohaw-frame.html the URL for the website itself: http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/stdweb/info.html accessed 8/26/2015.

counterbalance foundation offers this self identification: “Counterbalance is a non-profit educational organization working to promote the public understanding of science, and how the sciences relate to wider society.  It is our hope that individuals, the academic community, and society as a whole will benefit from a struggle toward integrated and counterbalanced responses to complex questions.” see URL above. The faith and reason foundation helped fund the PBS show. I first found the piece “Stephen Hawking's God'' early in the century, maybe 2004, certainly before 2006. It was on a site called Metalist on science and religion. That site is gone.

[7] Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. 1994, 3, also 211.

[8] Counterbalance op cit

[9]Daniel W. Graham, Heraclitus (fl. c. 500 BCE) Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, no date. https://www.iep.utm.edu/heraclit/#H6  [accessed 3/15/19]

Graham is at Brigham Young University

[10]Ibid

[11] Joshua Filmer, "Sir Isaac Newton: Father of Modern Science," F Futurism The Byte (December 25th 2013) https://futurism.com/sir-isaac-newton-father-of-modern-science-2 [accessed 3/15/19]

[12]Robert Iliffe, "Newton's Religious life and Work," The Newton Project (2013) http://www.newtonproject.ox.ac.uk/view/contexts/CNTX00001 [accessed 3/15/19]

buy my book
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0982408765

Joseph Hinman's new book is God, Science and Ideology. Hinman argues that atheists and skeptics who use science as a barrier to belief in God are not basing doubt on science itself but upon an ideology that adherer's to science in certain instances. This ideology, "scientism," assumes that science is the only valid form of knowledge and rules out religious belief. Hinman argues that science is neutral with respect to belief in God … In this book Hinman with atheist positions on topics such as consciousness and the nature of knowledge, puts to rest to arguments of Lawrence M. Krauss, Victor J. Stenger, and Richard Dawkins, and delimits the areas for potential God arguments.