Friday, July 28, 2023

Argument for Biblical Veracity

The truth content of the Bible has come to be thought of as a scientific or historical question. Did God part the red sea? Did God flood the earth and save one family on a boat with all the animals. At that point the real validity of it get's lost in ideology. The validity of the Bible as a transmitter of God's word is not seen in big miracles but small ones.

What I mean is that through reading the Bible our lives are transformed on a personal level through God's grace and the lessons imparted in the text. I had a great theologian as a prof at Perkins,the late William "Billy" Abraham. He used to say we know the Bible is the word of God because it bestorus grace upon the reader. HU? I think what he meant was we are in touch with the power of God through the text when we read it in faith, Not because we believe the big miracles but because we take into our hearts what it teaches about a relationship with God.

Here are three examples of truths we can learn from the Bible that will change our lives.

*Christ gives us peace that pases all understandng "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philipians 4:7

*feeling of God's presence in a palpable way:

"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you." Psalm 139.
Sensing the presence of God in a real way is about the most precious experience we can have. It makes life worth living. It changes your life for the better.

*God is with us always even unto the end of the age Matthew 28:20

*He gives us power over spiritual forces: "behold I give you power even over all the power of the enemy." Luke 10:19

There is no geological evidence of Noah's flood. The logistics of the ark demonstrate the clearly mythical nature of the story. The facts of the fossil record demonstrate the absurdity of litteral imterproiation of Gensis. But the truth of God is demonstrated these small ways which are universal to religion.The Bible is an excellent guide to such a spiritual way of life.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The M Scale and Universal Nature of Mystical Experience (1)



Ralph Hood Jr. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga,

Dr, James Tour an Israeli scietists speaks about his born again experiece and how he felt the presence of God as palapable and present right in fromt of him. The things he says about that are exactly what I experienced when I speak about the presemnce of God. For Tour's commemts see the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qeuW2UPa1Lw

This expeerience and the scientific evidence is what my first book was about.(The Trace of God) Such experieinces are common yet in general people fear them because we fear feelings. If one read the scientific work I don't see how one could keep form belivimg.

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.Ralph 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.

Over the years numerous claims have been made about the nature of spiritual/mystical and Maslow's “peak experiences”, and about their consequences. Wuthnow (1978) set out to explore findings regarding peak experiences from a systematic random sample of 1000 persons and found that peak experiences are common to a wide cross-section of people, and that one in two has experienced contact with the holy or sacred, more than eight in ten have been moved deeply by the beauty of nature and four in ten have experienced being in harmony with the universe. Of these, more than half in each have had peak experiences which have had deep and lasting effects on their lives. Peakers are more likely also, to say they value working for social change, helping to solve social problems, and helping people in need. Wuthnow stressed the therapeutic value of these experiences and also the need to study the social significance of these experiences in bringing about a world in which problems such as social disintegration, prejudice and poverty can be eradicated. Savage et al., (1995) provided clinical evidence to suggest that peakers produce greater feelings of self-confidence and a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Mogar's (1965) research also tended to confirm these findings.[28]
There is much more to this essay, for the rest click on link: http://religiousapriori.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-m-sacle-and-universal-nature-of.html


Notes

[1] Joseph Hinman, Trace of God:Rational warrant for Belief. Colorado Springsmm,2014.
[2] 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] 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.
[28] Krishna K. Mohan, “Spirituality and Wellbeing: an Overview.” An Article based upon a Presentation made during the Second International Conference on Integral Psychology, held at Pondicherry India 4-7 January 2001, published in hard copy, Cornelissen, Matthijs (Ed.) (2001) Consciousness and Its Transformation. Pondicherry: SAICE.On line copy URL: http://www.ipi.org.in/texts/ip2/ip2-4.5-.php website of the India Psychology Institute. Site visited 9/3/12.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Reduction of Knowledge to Science

The Scientistic movement cuts across many boundaries. It includes, but is not limited to, atheism. One major facet of its ideology which has been especially important to atheism is the transformation of knowledge to technique. I refer to Barrett’s concept of the illusion of technique, of which I spoke in chapter one. The first move is a reduction of knowledge from a multiplicity of forms to one thing only, scientific knowledge. Then scientific knowledge lends itself to the working of technique in shaping our understanding by manipulating reality and thus truth. This reduction of knowledge to scientific data, is reflected on the popular internet site answers.com. One such question asked: “is science the supreme form of knowledge?” The answer it gives us is, “Science is the only form of knowledge. There is no way to know something without it being scientific in some way.”[1] It goes to ask “what is science knowledge the answer is “science knowledge is the understanding of everything around us how they process or work. To have Science knowledge it will allow you to have good explanations of many things…”[2] It reads like it’s written by a third grader. Science knowledge is everything, nothing escapes it, and it gives good explanations of many things, not all things? It gives a little testimonial just incase the definition doesn’t sound quite right. That its good for explaining things.

In popular terms, the site “debate.org” has a debate on the question “is science the only source of true knowledge.” That should at least reflect the fact that people are asking the question. Their straw poll, which is of course not scientific and not representative, shows 44% of people who visited the sight, says yes science is the only form of true knowledge.” 56% say “no.” It’s true that even with a specialized computer going audience the ‘no’s’ have it, yet 44% is a large percentage.[3] They quote Hume:

“If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”[4] English Commedian Ricky Gervias is featured in a piece for Wall Street Journal, “why I am an Atheist.” He says:

People who believe in God don’t need proof of his existence, and they certainly don’t want evidence to the contrary. They are happy with their belief. They even say things like “it’s true to me” and “it’s faith.” I still give my logical answer because I feel that not being honest would be patronizing and impolite. It is ironic therefore that “I don’t believe in God because there is absolutely no scientific evidence for his existence and from what I’ve heard the very definition is a logical impossibility in this known universe,” comes across as both patronizing and impolite.[5] That’s an example of how deeply this kind of thinking as been absorbed by the popular level.

Austin Cline is a blogger and an expositor of atheist opinion. He writes about the nature of scientific knowledge defending the statement “God does not exist,” as a scientific statement. If we examine his view it turns out that the reason he says it is because he’s reduced the nature of knowledge to his understanding of science. He says that objecting to the statement on the grounds that God is beyond scientific proof is a misunderstanding of what the statement means. The statement, “God does not exist” (as a scientific statement) means that it can’t be proved by scientific means. If it can’t be proved then it doesn’t exist. That’s the same as saying “my view is all there is.”

When a scientist says "God does not exist," they mean something similar to when they say "aether does not exist," "psychic powers do not exist," or "life does not exist on the moon." All such statements are casual short-hand for a more elaborate and technical statement: "this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful." [6]

I’ve never actually seen a scientist who says that, except for the professional atheists such as Dawkins. Even Dawkins doesn’t actually say that he’s making a scientific statement. One might think that the comparison to aether is not valid, seeing the Michaelson/Moraelly experiments as disproof of the possibility of aehter. Technically all they really did was fail to find any evidence in favor of aether and the modern scientific understanding of the universe failed to produce a place for it.[7] That’s really the point Cline makes, science doesn’t have to disprove God, just not finding a place for God means God doesn’t exist (for scientism) because scientism only accepts that for which science makes a place. In other words, by this method, knowledge is reduced all other forms to science alone, or least to their reading of science alone. Cline himself rejects an absolutist position (of disproof) on the part of science. “What should be most obvious about the technically accurate statement is that it is not absolute. It does not deny for all time any possible existence of the entity or force in question.”[8] Of course it doesn’t have to. Since it has mandated a methodology that excludes God sense it only allows that which is found in sense data, then God will never meet the requirement unless he wants to submit to scientific scrutiny. God seems to have his own ideas about being in charge, so this is not likely. The effect is only things that compare to scientific methods can be considered knowledge. That is only a good argument if one only accepts religious belief as a scientific hypothesis. The assumption is clearly that science is the only from of knowledge and if it’s not scientific then it’s not worthy to be known. The point is that for scientism (and New atheism) science is the only valid form of knolwedge.

Jerry A. Coyne argues that science is the only valid form of knowledge and he doesn’t mind castigating the arts in doing it. On his blog[9] he takes to task Patrick MacNamara, the professor in Neurology at Boston University who edits the series of books on Where God and Science Meet.[10] In the course the discussion Coyne begins to argue that science is the only from of knowledge, only scientific knowledge can be validated. He says:

First, music, literature and poetry don’t produce any truths about the universe that don’t require independent verification by empirical and rational investigation: that is, through science (broadly interpreted). These fine arts don’t convey to us anything factual about the world unless those facts can be replicated by reason, observation or experiment. All of the other “truths” from the arts fall into the class of “emotional realizations.” I may, for example, feel a oneness with humanity from reading Tolstoy, or a feeling that I need to “seize the day” from watching Never Let Me Go. While one might consider these things worthwhile knowledge, with “knowledge” defined broadly, they are not what we atheists—and many of the faithful—mean by “truths.”[11]

His reasoning is pretty convoluted. Literature and poetry don’t produce truths because they don’t require independent verification. That’s a statement not in evidence. Just because they don’t require his kind of verification doesn’t mean they don’t require any. That may be what personal experience is for. Or that may be what other literature is for. Moreover, who says that knowledge has to be verified to be knowledge? That’s only the case if you already accept up front that scientific knowledge is the only kind. I think that writers like Coyne are merely demonstrating the failure of our educational system to instill within the students in its charge a love of learning or a sense of the humanities. At the very least his position is begging the question. He doesn’t understand the nature of literature or what it does for you, and he takes it very literally and tries to approach it like science. We can see this in his statement:

when you read a novel like Anna Karenina, you know it’s fiction: if from the endeavor you realize things about yourself, or about human emotions, you are not required to sign onto the genuine physical existence of Count Vronsky or Karenin. In contrast, emotional realizations that derive from faith require absolute belief in a number of ridiculous, incorrect, or unverifiable propositions.[12]

. He does understand that fiction is fiction but then why can’t he extrapolate from that to the nature of religion? He thinks religious belief has to be literal. It can’t refer to emotions or internal states. That feeling stuff is not truth that’s just stories. He issues his own challenge to believers: “tell me exactly what ‘knowledge’ religion has provided that is not derivable from secular reason. Like Hitchens, I still have not received an answer.” [13]He sure will. I’ll send him a copy of this book. Why would anyone think that reality one discovers in God is not knowledge or that it’s not “real?” Why shouldn’t it be verifiable? But why must it be verifiable in scientific terms? Spiritual knowledge is real; Knowledge of God is real knowledge. Noetic knowledge from mystical experience is real. Historical knowledge is real knowledge that can pertain to religious teaching. It’s absurdly silly to say that science is the only true knowledge. I’ll go into greater elaboration on this in the chapter on supernatural. This will all be discussed in the chapters on supernatural (chapter nine) and perspective (chapter 10).

Peter Atkins writes, in “Science as Truth,” that “…there can be no denying that science is the best procedure yet discovered for exposing fundamental truths about the world…This claim of universe competence may seem arrogant, but it appears to be justified.”[14] He points to science’s experimentation guided by elaboration and improvement of theory as the basis of scientific acuity. He points to the function, the success, the “science works” aspect to demonstrate the truth of science. “No other mode of discovery has proved to be so effective or to contribute so much toward the achievement or aspirations of humanity.”[15] Like Atkins those who defend Scientism and who seek to reduce all human knowledge to one form of knowledge, scientific, usually claim to do so in the name of humanity. Yet in so doing they threaten to destroy not only some of the most cherished aspects of human knowledge but humanity itself. This is no ideal threat. There are four major harms impending as a result of this movement:

(1) Loss of the arts as a valid understanding of human being

(2) Loss of human freedom as a value in society,

(3) Loss of humanity itself in the face of technological augmentation

(4) Separation from God.

The process of reducing knowledge to just scientific knowledge alone was at work eroding the value of the arts through most of the twentieth century. George Richmond Walker wrote a fine article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, way back in 1964. In that article, “Art, Science, and Reality,” he demonstrated that civilization has always assumed that knowledge spread over a wide variety of subject matters and disciplines. Knowledge belongs to all the endeavors of humanity, they were all worthy of being called by that name, especially the arts. As sited in the first chapter, Dewy and the positivists were skeptical that the arts provide knowledge, yet, “in times past there have been many thinkers who asserted or assumed that art as well as science reveals something of the true nature of the actual world.”[16] He cites Plato and Aristotle who say that art is a form of knowledge. I would not expect Plato and Aristotle to cut much ice in this day and age. He adds, “religion was understood and is still generally believed to be concerned with reality of some kind.”[17] He quotes the philosopher Bosanquet “the spirit of art is faith in ‘life and divinity with which the external world is inspired so that the idealizations that are characteristic of art are not so much imaginations that depart from reality as they are revelations of the life and divinity that is alone ultimate reality.’”[18] Richmond argues that modern science is giving us an exacting knowledge of the external world but through quantum theory we know that the essential substance of the world is mathematical not physical and external. Thus he grounds true knowledge in experience of the world, which is reflected through the arts as well as science. He sites Whitehead in saying that neither physical nature nor life can be understood without understanding the interconnections that can only be understood through experience. He bases this view in a monism that speaks of the interconnections of all things, thus to screen off just one aspect such as the objective quantifiable aspects that science provides and ignore the experiential that the artistic provides is merely to miss the whole. We are not missing just one aspect but the whole.[19] All knowledge is generated by experience and the only thing we know of that brings experience to the table is humanity. He makes the point that we don’t know what we are approaching as a species or what we are unleashing but we do know we can’t escape being human. We are finally confined to our humanity and art is our unique expression as humans that reflect our experience in ways that allows us to bridge the known.

Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic, gave the commencement address at Brandeis University in 2013. Peter Lawler wrote an article for The Standard based upon that speech.[20] He pointed out the threat to the arts and thus to freedom from scientism and technologism. He points to Neuroscientists who seek to displace theology, philosophy, poetry. This is the idea that there is a ready genetic explanation for all we do and that understanding brain function is to understand all that there is to know. We can see that through Cyone’s literalistic approach to literature. The technologism of which he speaks is a good example of what I talk about in chapter one under the heading of “illusion of technique.” the idea that we can do anything, we can manipulate the world to match our desires, thus we control meaning and truth. Yet this only applies to one form of knowledge, science, and all other forms will all but wither away. This is because science feeds technology, the basis of manipulation and control.

Reduction of knowledge to science will only result in a loss of freedom; free speech, freedom of action, political freedom. Back in the 1970s B.F. Skinner achieved fame and notoriety with his work Beyond Freedom and Dignity[21], in which he argued that freedom and dignity were concepts holding us back from saving the planet. He pointed to pollution and world hunger and agued that we were not doing the things needed to be done because ideas of human freedom stood in the way. We are not willing make the impositions on the individual that need to be made to illicit the proper human behavior. He advocated using operant conditioning. Skinnerism found a wide audience for a time but then I think society began to take a real look at what he was talking about and decided human freedom and dignity were worth keeping. Skinner’s school of thought made an impact in clinical psychology, the giving tokens for rewards in exchange for behavior, this school was called “behaviorism.” We began to figure out that freedom and dignity are two of the things that make life worth living. Losing them is losing some of the thing for which we want the world made safe and preserved so that we might enjoy them. Saving the world at the expense of those is like destroying the village to save it. Wieseltier points to Marxism as an example of what the scientistic mentality does to freedom.[22]

Determinism is the outcome of scientism: because we know it all we can study and understand what causes everything, thus we have proved that there is No free will. Because there’s no free will there is no problem taking away political freedom. All we need to do is tell the sheep they won’t miss it because they only think they want it anyway. There is no greater threat to freedom then the philosophical twaddle that rationalizes it’s loss with a lot of nonsense about how veg the concept of freedom is. Daniel Dennett tries to answer by showing that he believes in freedom politically and lives free in a deterministic world because determinism cuts down on randomness. Randomness is what destroys freedom because you can’t predict the future in reliable way,[23] while determinism doesn’t mean inevitability.[24] To pull this off Dennett uses some slick tricks. To prove determinism is not inevitable but allows freedom he does two things; first, he uses the analogy of a bullet, its trajectory is inevitable if unblocked, but we have a bullet proof vest the striking is not inevitable. Of course the problem is that it assumes we can think freely to act. If our thoughts and desires are also controlled, then we can’t act freely to wear the vest. With Harris’s ideas of determinism, for example, all causes are the same as determinism and for him free will is just a illusion.[25] Thus we can’t think freely to wear the vest. The second thing Dennett does is to compare scientific determinism to belief in God. He refers to aspects of belief a lot. He refers to the Deus ex Machina[26] (don’t look now, not a Biblical concept). The reason is because he expects us to accept that by comparison scientific determinism is less inevitable and controlling than the concept of fate, which he links to God or the divine. A large portion of the book is aimed at disproving notions of free will, which means he’s just doing the reductionist trick (see chapter “reductionism,” chapter 5) reducing reality to the bit he can control then claims that’s all there is. Loss of free will isn’t a problem because free will is not very expansive anyway. Based upon this lackluster performance of its defense we can assume it is in grave danger. One can only imagine how this tactic would be applied by the real purveyors of power in a world ran by the dictates of scientism.



Sources


[1] Answers.com “Is Science the Supreme form of knowledge?” Internet resource: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Is_science_the_supreme_form_of_knowledge (accessed 12/27/13). Answers.com is owned by the Answers corporation began in Israel. The name domain name was purchansed by Bill Gose and Hendrick Jones. The domain name sold to guru net based in Israel.
[2] Ibid, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_science_knowledge (accessed 12/27/13).
[3] Debate.Org, “Is Science the Only True Source of Knowledge?” owned by Juggle, LLC online resource: http://www.debate.org/opinions/is-science-the-only-source-of-true-knowledge accessed 12/31/13.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ricky Gervais, “Ricky Gervais: Why I am An Atheist.” Wall Street Journal: Arts and Entertainment. (Dec. 19, 2010). Online copy: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/ accessed 12/31/13.
[6] Austin Cline, “Scientifically God Does Not Exist: Science allows us to say God Does not Exist, there is role for God in science, no explanation that God can provide.” About.com, Agnosticism/Atehism. Online publication:

http://atheism.about.com/od/argumentsagainstgod/a/GodScience.htm accessed 12/27/13. [7] Richard Staley, (2009), "Albert Michelson, the Velocity of Light, and the Ether Drift", Einstein's generation. The origins of the relativity revolution, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-77057-5
[8] Ibid.
[9] Jerry A. Coyne, “Once Again, Does Religion Produce Knowledge,” Why Evolution is True, blog, Mya 4, 20/11. URL: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/once-again-does-religion-produce-knowledge/ accessed 12/27/13. Coyne Ph.D. , is professor of Ecology and Evolution at University of Chicago. From his blog: “Coyne has written over 110 refereed scientific papers and 80 other articles, book reviews, and columns, as well as a scholarly book about his field (Speciation, co-authored with H. Allen Orr). He is a frequent contributor to The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, and other popular periodicals..”

[10] Patrick McNamara ed., Where God and Science Mee:How Brain and Evolutionary Experiences Alter Our Understanding of Religion, volumes I-III. Westport CT:Praeger Publishers, 2006. [11] Coyne, Op. Cit.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Peter Atkins, “Science as Truth,” History of the Human Sciences, Volume 8, no 2 (1995) 97-102

Attkins is former professor of Chemistry at Oxford, author of many books, scholarly and popular. He’s well known as an atheist and speaks and writes on behalf of atheism. [15] Ibid.
[16] George Richmond Walker, Op. cit. 9.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[20] Peter Augustine Lawler, “Defending the Humanities,” The Weekly Standard, Jun 17, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 38, 2013. from the Online copy Jan 1, 2014 http://www.weeklystandard.com/keyword/Scientism accessed 1/1/14.

[21] B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971. 1.
[22] Quoted in Lawler, Op. Cit.
[23] Daniel C. Dennett, Freedom Evolves, New York: Penguin Books, 2004, 13, 309. [24] Ibid, 56.
[25] Sam Harris, Free Will, New York: Free Press, 2012.,10.
[26] Dennett, Freedom Evolves, Op cit. 47.
Posted by Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) at 3:29 AM 1 comment:
Labels: apologetics, atheist reduction of knowledge to science, Austin Cline, Jerry A. Coyne, Leon Wieseltier, loss of civilization, Peter Atkins, philosophy

Sunday, July 02, 2023

Ask God to prove himself

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2012 ask God to prove himself to me. Photobucket the atheist concept of Revelation On CARM (atheist message board) Vladimir posts:
Could I request something from any believers here, who have a good relationship with God and who regularly pray to God for guidance and direction and who hear God's voice (no matter how subtle)? Next time that you pray, could you ask God to tell any of the non-believers here something profound? A message from God himself for the non-believers here would be appreciated.
He adds:I'm being serious. Not joking. I'm sure this sounds perfectly reasonable to many atheists. It's like a scientific test, what better way to prove that no one is "up there answering prayers?" There are some problems with approach. The irony is I remember an atheist on CARM who had as a signature some quote about "if God revealed himself to me I would not believe my senses." So he's saying even if God revealed himself I wouldn't believe is. So why ask? I know all atheists aren't saying that, but at least for that one guy it's a real pretense to ask questions like this. The major problem is it's a means of circumventing the search in the heart that God has designed belief to be. The search is real imporant becuase it enables us to interlace the values of the good. If God did force his presence upon the world in such a way that no one could doubt many would resent it. the more lib service they felt forced to give the more deeply they would resent it. But those who seek for the truth and find in a leap of faith have a personal commitment of love. It's that existential aspect that people most fear, and this is most necessary to the search; the point whereon realizes the nature of ones own being is that of content upon God. That's the moment of truth, the only choices are get "real" with God in your heart (repent and change) or reject the whole thing and live in pretense telling yourself "i'm a smart tough cool skeptic." Meta: the evidence is he communicated with us. your evidence that he doesn't is just that you haven't open enough to receive it. that is not a disproof. your narrow mindedness is not a disproof of God.
Originally Posted by A Hermit View Post Then you have no reason to expect anyone else to believe, do you?
I never said I EXPECT anyone to believe me. I expect people to listen and think about my reasons but so atheist ever do. Atheist:
Those are a rather different order of belief though; I have a mother and brothers and went to school too; on the other hand you're telling me that the almighty, all loving creator of the universe chooses to talk to you, but not to me; or on the other hand that I'm too stupid/ignorant/selfish/small minded/evil/not fully human enough to measure up to your standards when it comes to appreciating the depth and beauty of life because I don't choose to embrace you language for it.
"talk" here is metaphor right? I didn't say God wont communicate with you. You are decided to ignore and pretend it's unreal the communication that he did do and to close off the possibly of future communication. that's your deal.
atheist Yes you do or you wouldn't work so hard at convincing me and others, or react so strongly to something as innocuous as my last comment...
You don't really understand why it's insulting. I'm not out to destroy or damn anyone or anything; just to suggest an alternative point of view. Why does that make you so angry? Originally Posted by Electric Skeptic View Post God is (supposedly) omnipotent. If he tried to communicate to anyone, he would do so. Claims that he tries but fails mean that he is not omnipotent.
If you believe God to be not omnipotent, fine. If you do not, you are contradicting yourself. No, you do not prove God at all.
You are makimg a wrong assumption about the natire of omnipotance.I never said I'm provimg God. I said wants you to dearch in your heart. You wantto be overweamed. you don't want to have to think about it.

Meta:

I have discussed in the past the problem with the concept of omnipotence and how it's an anti quested concept. that's become your excuse. the one thing God requires you to do is the one thing you refuse to do.

becuase you refuse to do it your big excuse is "it's God's fault I rejected him because he didn't make it so overwhelming enough I couldn't deny it."

that's an excuse. that's not searching.

"you don't prove God at all!" can't you see what an excuse that is? I say over and over again. Its' not about proof, can't prove it because God is beyond understanding. the battle is in the heart. you have to search in your heart and when God reveals himself that's where he iwll do it."

your answer to all that is "but he didn't do it MY WAY so I'm absolved of all responsibility!"

as long as you refuse to repent and seek God in the heart! there ant gonna be no revelation.

why should the king existence surrender to your terms? YOU surrender! you take his terms! Posted by Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) at 8:54 AM 12 comments: Labels: apologetics, existential search, values of the goohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifd, why doesn't God just reveal himself? THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2012