Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Zuckerman Part 2

Zuckerman and Paul both trade on the idea of "atheist countries." they use countries in which chruch affiliation is weak and define those as "atheist." There is no such ting as an "atheist country." The only atheist countries that ever existed were the USSR adn its satellites and Communist China. China is moving toward religious freedom. USSR no longer exits, and the new Russian and it's neighbors are now countries in which freedom of religion is practiced.

Europe and Japan are not nearly as weak on belief in God as they are on affiliation with Christian churches. They are not atheist countries.

A study or literary search by Greely and Jagodzinski demonstrate this ponit:

The Demand for Religion:

Hard Core Atheism and "Supply Side" Theory

Wolfgang Jagodzinski

University of Cologne

Andrew Greeley

University of Chicago

University of Arizona

The title "dmeand for religion" does not refur to the idea that religion is in big demand in those coutnires but it's an analysis of the "supply side" theory of religious origins that has become poular among anthropologists.

Nevertheless in the process of critique the authors prove that there is much more demand in most countries than Zuckerman would have us believe.

In this essay we mainly address ourselves to those variants of Secularization theories which predict a general decline in the demand for religion or at least in the demand for large transcendental systems. If this demand does not decline in the more advanced societies and if it correlates neither with age nor education nor time the core assumptions of Secularization theories are dis-confirmed. Since Communism may have accelerated this process of secularization we will pay particular attention to the development in former socialist countries. If the demand for religion should be high in all these societies this clearly would support the new economic approach.

Opponents (Blau, Land, and Redding 1992, Breault 1989; Bruce 1992; Demerath 1996; Land and Blau 1991) of the economic model of religion have been quick to respond. They have taken issue with some of the individual studies the "supply siders" have reported and also (Demerath 1996) have ridiculed the notion that religion can be the subject of "rational choice." The basic thrust of the criticism, however, implicit it might be, is doubt that there is no relatively consistent demand for religious "compensation..."

In this essay we address ourselves first to the question of that group in which a demand for religious services must be presumed to be non-existent – "hard core" atheists, those who are convinced both that God does not exist and that there is no possibility of life after death. If the proportion of populations in different countries which fall into this category are relatively small and if they correlate neither with age nor education nor time, then the "Supply Side" theory cannot be rejected: the proportion of the population which might have a latent demand for religion may still be substantial, even in supposedly secularized countries.

Then we turn to Norway, one of the allegedly "secularized" countries to determine whether it might be a religious market place that has been neglected by a "lazy monopoly." Next we consider data from Ireland to determine whether the open religious marketplace of Northern Ireland has produced a more "zealous" manifestation of Catholicism than that which can be found in the South where Catholicism has a de facto if not de jure monopoly; finally we ask whether Socialism in East Germany has been able to reduce the demand for religion, something which the supply side theory would implicitly think unlikely.

The authors used a questioniare asking respondents about thier beleifs to assertain weather they were "hard core, soft core" atheists, believers, involved in reilgion.

Their measure of "hard" and "soft" core atheisms includes:

Hard = convenced there is no God

soft type 1 = probably not a God but may be aferlife and spiruitality

soft type 2 = Agnostics; may or may not be a God, don't know.

Northern Europe not hard core atheist.

1. The proportion of Hard Core atheists is relatively small in all the countries except East Germany (42.7%)

2. The proportion is above 10% only in former socialist countries (12.4% in Russia, 13.9% in Slovenia, and 11.3% in Hungary) and in the Netherlands (11.4%) and in Israel (12.1%).

3. In the other eleven countries, the highest rates of Hard Core atheism are in Norway (6.7%) and Britain (6.3%). Thus if latent demand for religion is excluded only from the Hard Core atheists, there is still the possibility of a large clientele for those firms which might venture into the religious market place in such supposedly "secularized" countries as Norway and Britain.

4. There are not all that many Hard Core atheists in the countries studied, nor indeed all that many soft core atheists either.

5. The "Softest Core" Atheists are less than a third of the population in every country except East Germany. They are more than a fifth of the population only in four former Socialist countries – East German Russia, Hungary and Slovenia. With the exception than of East Germany more than two thirds of the population of the countries studied are willing to admit the existence in some fashion of God and the likelihood of life after death. Devout many of them may not be but on the two central issues they are more religious than not. They then may be considered as part of the religious market place if not always enthusiastic consumers.

Furthermore in the sample as a whole, Hard Core atheism correlates only with gender (women less likely to be atheists) and not with education or age (those favorite measures of the more naïve of the "secularization theorists.") 83% of the Hard Core Atheists say they never believed in God, 61% say they never attended church services when they were eleven or twelve years old and 9% more say they only rarely attended. The choice of Hard Core atheism as a philosophy of life was apparently made at a very young age in life and is sustained through the life course.

Age correlates significantly with Hard Core atheism only in Britain (r=-.08), East Germany (r=-.18), the Netherlands (r=-.05) and Israel (r=+.08), Hungary (-.14). Education correlates significantly with Hard Core Atheism only in Hungary (r=.11), Slovenia (r=.18), and Norway (r=.10) West Germany (r=.08), Israel (r=.10). In these countries as in the whole sample, there is an inverted U curve in the relationship between age and atheism, the very young and the very old being somewhat less likely to be atheists. In the middle years of life, however, the line representing atheism is flat. Only in Slovenia and Hungary is education still a significant correlate of Hard Core Atheism in a regression equation which includes age and gender.

Note that in their findings hard core atheism is not related to education or parental influence but to socialization

Zuckrman claims that the superior educational system in northern European, made possible by atheism, also breeds more atheism as people grow up being trained to be "rational" and "scientific." But this study shows that the real reason is not realted to education at all but to socialization. While atheists might try to argue "that's what we are saying" its' really not. They are actually arguing that education is waht produces it, but socialization means they just haven't been exposed to religious thinking enough. The upshot of this is that if they were so exposed they would probably see the value in religion so it is not 'enlightened thinking' but merely custum and lack of exposure, which is exactly what the atheist say causes people to be religious. So this is significant that the very same reasons they attribute religion to are actually behind atheism.

Furthermore in the sample as a whole, Hard Core atheism correlates only with gender (women less likely to be atheists) and not with education or age (those favorite measures of the more naïve of the "secularization theorists.") 83% of the Hard Core Atheists say they never believed in God, 61% say they never attended church services when they were eleven or twelve years old and 9% more say they only rarely attended. The choice of Hard Core atheism as a philosophy of life was apparently made at a very young age in life and is sustained through the life course.

No trend toward growth of atheism

The data in Table 3 provide little evidence of short run change in atheism rates. There is no significant relationship between time and Hard Core Atheism in the EVA study. With the possible exception of East Germany and Slovenia, the findings of the second EVS and the first ISSP studies are similar enough that it can be said that they replicate one another despite the different wording of the questions,. One can conclude that there is little support for the notion that atheism increased between 1981 and 1991. There are not many Hard Core atheists in the countries studied and their numbers did not increase during the nineteen eighties.

Data from the Norwegian version of 1991 International Social Survey program study of religion (which asked more questions than the standard ISSP module) provide an opportunity to replicate the Stark and Iannaccone findings (1995)that the so called "secularized" countries of Europe were not in fact secularized. Is Norway a country in which religion is moribund or is it perhaps a potential market place for religious competition? Might there be a potential demand for religion to which industrious "firms" might respond?

45% believe in God--ony 10% firmly do not

Forty five percent of Norwegians believe in God and only 10% firmly believe that God does not exist. 60% say that life after death is certain or probable and 58% say that in some fashion Jesus is their savior (a question asked only in the Norwegian version of the ISSP). It is difficult to dismiss a country with those rates as totally "secularized," especially since there is evidence (Greeley 1995 p87 ) that Norwegian belief in life after death has not changed in the last five decades. Hence it seems appropriate to ask what the condition of the religious market place in Norway might be and whether an increase in the supply of religious firms might lead eventually to a resurgence of observable religious practice

typology of religous market shows possiblity of belief high

We devised a typology of possible Norwegian religious market places. At the low end were the Atheists and the Agnostics who either rejected God firmly or said that they did not know about God’s existence. 22% of the respondents fell into these categories, 9% in the former and 13% in the later. The next level consisted of the "Marginally" religious, those who did not attend church services but expressed some kind of belief in God. 33% of the respondents fell into this category. The fourth level – which we call "Private" was occupied by those who believed in God but did not attend church services often, a quarter of the Norwegians. Finally there was a group we call Devout which both believed in God and attended Church services regularly. This group included 20% of the respondents. Thus (Table 4) almost half of Norwegians are religious in some fashion and only a fifth are either firm atheists or agnostics.

Religious beliefs among Norwegians increases as one moves in Table 4 from the Atheists to the Devout. However a surprising proportion of those who are Atheists and Agnostics acknowledge that God is loving, believe (at least probably) an afterlife, and that in some fashion Jesus is their savior. While these two groups could hardly be considered as prime religious markets in Norway, they are not without some religious inclinations.

Those who are Marginally religious constitute a market place that might be more ready to listen to new religious entrepreneurs. Almost half of them believe in life after death, two fifths acknowledge Jesus as savior, and seven out of ten believe that God is loving. Large majorities in the "Private" market place endorse these convictions and believe in the existence of heaven.

Similar patterns exist for religious practices in Table 5. Some Atheists attend services occasionally and some engage in the ceremony of lighting a candle on the grave. More than 2/5 contribute money to church organizations which in Norway is more of a civic than a religious practice. The Agnostics have certainly not cut themselves off completely from religion. 43% attend church services at least some times and 37% light a candle for the dead. The majority of the Marginals (58%) attend church services and light a candle for the dead (62%) and 21% of them have said prayers with a child at bed time. Thirty percent of the Private group pray at least once a week, 77% attend church services regularly and 30% have prayed with a child at night. In the Private and Devout groups the custom of lighting a candle for the dead is reported less frequently than in the Marginal group, perhaps because it is considered a folk custom.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Attempt at Atheist Socail Science: Zuckerman

Phip Zuckerman

This will be a multiple part theme, and the Zuckerman connection I'll devide into at least two posts. Over the last few years many amateur sociologists from the atheist camp have tried to produce would be social science studies to demonstrate their ideological contention that atheism is the product of rational thought and religion is the product of superstition and stupidity.

One of the major contributors is a sociologist named Zuckerman. The "study" he contributes is badly done and makes a lost of bad assumptions,it is not well thought of in the academy, but atheists on the net cling to it as though it proves all.

I've seen over half a dozen attempts to do sociological studies that supposedly prove that religion is bad for society. The two major one's are Zuckerman and Paul. These two studies are linked as Zuckerman acknowledges Paul's "study" as foundational for his own.

The edge foundation describes Zuckerman's study this way:

A sociologist at Pitzer, Phil Zuckerman is the author of Invitation to the Sociology of Religion, Du Bois on Religion, Sex and Religion, and Society Without God. His Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006) verifies the inability of popular religiosity to thrive in modern, egalitarian democracies.

But this is nothing more than a like and Zuckerman's superficial data confrims nothing of the sort.

Zukerman is a Skeptical Enquirer article that someone has tired to use against me and my religious experience studies, but it didn't apply. This trend is making me very angry because it has spawned many of the lies and half truths that are fueling the new Atheism. I see these links to these articles popping up all the time. They make me especially angry because

(1) I was a sociology major, that was my BA. So I do know something about social science research methods.

(2) I was publisher of an academic journal geared to social criticism and a political activist in the CISPES for many years. (committee in Solidarity with People of El Salvador) and a Marxist. So social criticism has been a major part of my life. Seeing that used to lie about Christ and give false information and stupid half truths that hood wink people into disbelief makes my blood boil.

These so called "studies" all make the same basic mistakes. They all feed off each other and footnote each other so they are just making the same one's over and over and creating a self referential kabal of atheist assumptions.

(1) they trade on ignorance and cultural illiteracy

(2) argument from sign

(3) shallow analysis designed to mine the data and bury any deep analysis that would divert blame from religious blame and create a false association.

(4) the false association is that high religious belief is correlated with poverty, illiteracy, low education level, violence.

(5) counter studies vastly outweigh

*2000 studies

this is all totally at odds with the findings of real social sciences. Dr. Larsen did a literature search of social science abstracts in the 90's and found that there were 2000 articles, these are in social science journals, real academics who find religion as a positive force in people's lives and in society.

* Cities on a Hill foundation found 300 studies that show religion good for society, contradicting the very things these atheist studies are talking about.

* wurthnow's study of Religious experince found that RE people are better educated, more socially conscious, more sensative to the needs of others, less violent, less depressed, more outgoing, more able to help others.

(6) these are not real studies, Zuckerman and Paul that is.. They are nothing more than people totally up the countries they think are less religious, based upon mainly sterio types but also church attendance, then showing that their education level is higher or their poverty level or violence level lower than deeply religious American south.

What is so monstrously stupid about this is they don't screen out factors like the long history of poverty in a region, or the higher level of education Europe as a hold over form the Christian era in Europe vs the frontier time in America.

they don't consider factors such as America's frontier heritage, only one hundred years or so hence (Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas). Europe was a frontier a thousand years ago. Even then it was mostly civilized, it was really a Frontier in places like France and Germany closer to 2000 years ago.  For most of that time education was the work of Christians and Europe was well educated relatively speaking.

Europe was well Christianized and devout less than one hundred years ago, and in that time it was well understood that education was a must. It is so deceptive for these people to try and give credit for the social welfare state and all it has accomplished to atheism when it was basically Christian thinkers who built the welfare state. The first peasant revolts in Italy and Germany were Christian inspired.

All major gains of education in America an Europe were the result of labor battle and unionists who fought for public education, and the Catholic church (mostly in Europe). these unionists were led to a large degree by Christians and Christian women such as Pheobie Palmer and the abolition/sufferage movement who also influenced the drive for public education.

Focus on Zuckerman's data:


Demonstrates that Zuckerman's data cannot be used to make the sort of inferences atheists make  in claiming huge percentages (20%) for atheist world population, or even the counties Zuckerman claims. Just to take lists of memberships and affiliations for countries doesn't distinguish enough between differences such as actual belief in God vs organizational membership.

Pitzer College sociologist Phil Zuckerman compiled country-by-country survey, polling and census numbers relating to atheism, agnosticism, disbelief in God and people who state they are non-religious or have no religious preference. These data were published in the chapter titled "Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns" in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005). Different type of data collection methodologies using different types of questions showed a consistent pattern: In most countries only a tiny number of people (zero to a fraction of 1 percent) will answer "atheism" or "atheist" when asked an open-ended question about what their religious preference. A slightly larger number of people will answer "yes" if asked pointedly if they are an atheist. A slightly larger number than that will answer "no" when asked if they believe in any type of God, deities, or Higher Power. A slightly larger number answer "no" when asked simply if they "believe in God" (omitting wording indicating more nebulous, less anthropomorphic conceptions of divinity). Finally, a larger number of people answer "none" or "non-religious" when asked asked an open-ended question about what their religious preference is. Although figures vary for each country, average numbers indicate that roughly half of the people who self-identify as "nonreligious" also answer "yes" when asked if they believe in God or a Higher Power.

One portion of this broad grouping includes those who are best described as "nonreligious," i.e., those who are essentially passive with regards to organized religion, generally affirming neither belief nor disbelief. They may be neither contemplative about philosophy and spirituality nor involved in a religious/faith/philosophical community. Although a certain percentage of people in many countries classify themselves as nonreligious in surveys, there are few data indicating how many of these fit the passive "nonreligious" criteria described above, versus those who actually do contemplate such matters, but simply have their own personal philosophy and no stated affiliation with an organized religion.

For the purposes of this list, this grouping also includes more proactive or well-defined philosophies such as secular humanism, atheism, agnosticism, deism, pantheism, freethought, etc., most of which can be classified as religions in the sociological sense, albeit secular religions. A minority among atheists are quite fervent in their beliefs and actively endeavor to proselytize atheism.

The "Secular/Nonreligious/etc." category is probably the most speculative estimate in this list, as this segment of society is difficult to count. The vast majority in this grouping are not aligned with any kind of membership organization. Most figures come from census and survey data, which most countries conduct only infrequently.

The highest figure we have for "Nonreligious" is 20% of the world population, or about 1.2 billion: "Over 20 percent of the world's population does not claim any allegiance to a religion. Most are agnostics. Others are atheists, who deny the existence of God." (O'Brien, Joanne & Martin Palmer. The State of Religion Atlas. Simon & Schuster: New York (1993). Pg 41.) But such a high figure is difficult to support with current country-by-country statistics, and perhaps reflects Communist-era official government statistics. Most current estimates of the world number of secular/nonreligious/agnostic/atheist/etc. are between 800 and 1 billion.

Estimates for atheism alone (as a primary religious preference) range from 200 to 240 million. But these come primarily from China and former Soviet Union nations (especially Russia). Prior to Communist takeovers of these regions and government attempts to eradicate religion, both places had very high levels of affiliation with organized religions (especially Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism), as well as high levels of participation in and belief in traditional local traditions such as shamanism, ancestor ceremonies, spiritism, etc. Since the fall of Communism in former Soviet nations and the relaxation of anti-religious policies in China, observed religious affiliation and activity has increased dramatically, especially in Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam.

China probably does have the largest number of actual atheists of any country in the world and many Russians clearly remain atheists. But at this point, it is difficult to accurately determine how many of those classified as atheists or nonreligious during Communist-era USSR and by the current Chinese government are actually atheists according to their personal beliefs, and how many are unregistered religious adherents or participants in less-organized traditional systems that are oriented around ancestors, animism, shamanism, etc. Many people are unaware, for instance, that China has one of the largest, most active Christian communities in the world, and that in many former Soviet nations religions such as shamanism, Islam and Russian Orthodoxy remained even while official government reports announced the elimination of religion in these regions.

In the Western world, Europe is by far the place with the most self-avowed nonreligious, atheists and agnostics, with the nonreligious proportion of the population particularly high in Scandinavia. The Encyclopedia Britannica reports approximately 41 million atheists in Europe. The self-described nonreligious segment of society in Australia and New Zealand is also high, at around 15%. In Australia less than a tenth of one percent described themselves as atheists in the latest national census (1996). In the U.S. about 13.2% of the population describe themselves as nonreligious, 0.5% describe themselves as agnostic, and a smaller number describe themselves as atheist (Kosmin, ARIS/American Religious Identification Survey, City University of New York, 2001).

Zuckerman (2005) compiled numbers of people who don't believe in God, based primarily on polling and survey data, for every country in the world. He totaled the survey-based and poll-based estimates of non-believers from the top 50 countries with the highest proportion of people who do not believe in God, and added to this number the non-believers from highly populous countries (Mexico, Poland, Moldova Romania, Georgia, Uzbekistan, India, Ireland, and Chile). The remaining countries had proportionately miniscule populations of atheists/agnostics/non-believers. Zuckerman concluded, "the grand total worldwide number of atheists, agnostics, and non-believers in God is somewhere between 504,962,830 and 749,247,571. These minimum/maximum numbers are conservative estimates; were one to factor in a mere .25% of such highly populated countries as Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Burma, Tanzania, and Iran, as non-believers in God, estimates would be significantly larger. Also, these numbers are only for non-believers of God, specifically. Were one to include all 'non-religious' people in general, the numbers would nearly double... nonbelievers in God as a group come in fourth place after Christianity (2 billion), Islam (1.2 billion), and Hinduism (900 million) in terms of global ranking of commonly-held belief systems."

Zuckerman states that adding the "non-religious" segment of the world population would to his calculated maximum of 749,247,571 (about 750 million) atheists, agnostic and non-believers in God would yield a number nearly twice as large -- just under 1.5 billion. This number is not, however, the number of people who should be classified in the "Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist" category, because half of this larger number is based solely on belief in a single theological proposition (belief/non-belief in God), rather than on a person's religious affiliation/religious preference. A large proportion of people in the surveys Zuckerman combined to arrive at this total expressly are adherents of named religions (such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Chinese traditional religion, Unitarianism and Christianity). Many of these people who do not believe in God, deities, or a Higher Power are nevertheless devout adherents of their various faiths, or even clergy. They are enumerated in the list above as adherents of those faiths, and not counted among nonreligious, atheists or agnostics because their primary religious identity is not atheism or agnosticism. It should be remembered that not all strains of all religions entail belief in God, a Higher Power or deities.

It can not be said based on Zuckerman's analysis that "1.5 billion people do not believe in God."

A large proportion of the people classified as "non-religious" expressly do believe in God or a Higher Power. The 750 million figure is already an attempt to estimate the total population of people who do not believe in God.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Common Atheist Misunderstanding of Supernatural

Richard Carrier (of Secular Web fame) has written a pretty good article on the supernatural. I say it's "pretty good" he obviously put a lot into it, but it brings me back to one of my old soap boxes. Its not really about the supernaural. It's not Carriers fault, I think the concept itself has been degraded. He takes science and law to task for imposing their own definitions upon the term "supernatural," terms which do not regard the metaphysical. Since "supernatural" is a metaphysical term we should have a metaphysical definition. He also argues that such definitions should take account of the way people use such terms. He then loses us by defining the term in this way:

In short, I argue "naturalism" means, in the simplest terms, that every mental thing is entirely caused by fundamentally nonmental things, and is entirely dependent on nonmental things for its existence. Therefore, "supernaturalism" means that at least some mental things cannot be reduced to nonmental things. As I summarized
in the Carrier-Wanchick debate (and please pardon the dry, technical wording):

Unfortunately, this is not what people mean when they say "supernatural" nor does it have anything to do with metaphysics. Its' not historically the way the term has been used. More important than metaphysics is theology, because this is primarily a theological term. While I agree that we should take the public use of a term into account, when we have a specialized term that is primarily the property of an academic discipline such as theology, we should consult the history of the term as well as the special to use to which it has been put.

The term suffers from a callsic symptom; he thinks "Super" as the prefix would make supernature the opposite of nature. So starting from this juncture,the assumption that these diametrical opposites is symptomatic of what has happened in the degrading of the term in the first place. He then uses his own philosophical hobby horse to define "nature" and thus defining "supernature" (a term he doesn't use but the proper term none the less) is just a matter of advancing the opposite concept as the definition. But "Super" doesn't mean opposition nor does it mean opposite, nor does it mean immaterial, way out, or imaginary. it means "above," "over" or "superior." What this means for defining the term I'll get to in a moment.

Carrier goes on to illustrate the way the term is used,in his eyes, by talking about ferries and demons and the force in star wars without ever realizing that most of that is not defined as supernatural. I don't recall a line in the movie saying "use the force, Luke,... it's supernatural."

I have previously illustrated my own understanding of supernatural, which excludes this kind of phenomena, the ferries and so forth. That was published on this blog, so I'll repeat it here.

I have several pages about the supernatural on Doxa.


The problem in all these discussions about the supernatural is that we are dealing with a degraded concept. The notion of "Supernatural" is a misnomer to begin with, because modern people construe the idea as another place, an actual location that you can go to. It's the unseen invisible world that is filled with ghosts and magic and so forth. It's in the realm where God can heaven are, we supposed. But what they don't realize is that this is the watered down, dilapidated concept. It's not even understood well by Christians because it was destroyed in the reformation.

The term "supernatural" comes from the term "supernauturalator" or "Supernature." Dionysus the Areogopite (around 500ad) began talking of God as the supernaturalator, meaning that God's higher nature was the telos toward which our "lower" natures were drawn. St.Augustine has spoken of Divine nature as "Supernature" or the higher form of nature, but that is speaking of nature in you, like human nature and divine nature.

In the begining the issue was not a place, "the realm of the supernatural" but the issue was the nature inside a man. Human nature, vs. divine nature. The Sueprnatural was divine nature that drew the human up to to itself and vivified it with the power (dunimos) to live a holy life. This is the sort of thing Paul was talking about when he said "when I am weak I am strong." Or "we have this treasure in earthen vessels." The weak human nature which can't resist sin is transformed by the power of the Godly nature, through the spirit and becomes strong enough to resist sin, to be self sacrificing, to die for others ect ect.

This was the "supernatural" prior to the reformation. It was tied in with the sacraments and the mass. That's partly why the Protestants would rebel against it. St. Austine (late 300s early 400s) spoke of Christians not hating rocks and trees, in answer to the assertion that Christians didn't like nature. But the extension of the natural world as "nature" didn't come until latter. The idea of "the natural" was at first bsed upon the idea of human nature, of biological life, life form life, that's what the Latin natura is about.

Prior to the reformation Christian theologians did not see the supernatural as a seperate reality, an invisible realm, or a place where God dwells that we can't see. After the reformation reality was bifurcated. Now there came to be two realms, and they juxtaposed to each other. The realm of Supernature, is related to that of Grace, and is holy and sacred, but the early realm is "natural" and bad it's meyred in sin and natural urges.

But all of that represents a degraded form of thinking after going through he mill of the Protestant Catholic split. The basic split is characterized by rationalism vs feideism. The Catholics are rationalists, because they believe God is motivated by divine puropose and wisdom, the Protestants were fiedeists, meaning that faith alone apart form reason because God is motives by will and sheer acceptation, the desire to prove sovereignty above all else.

The rationalistic view offered a single harmony, a harmonious reality, governed by God's reasoned nature and orchestrated in a multifarious ways. This single reality contained a two sided nature, or a mutli-facets, but it was one harmonious reality in wich human nature was regeuvinated thorugh divine nature. But the Protestant view left Christian theology with two waring reality, that which is removed from our empirical knowledge and that in which we live.

The true Christian view of the Sueprnatural doesn't see the two realms as juxtaposed but as one reality in which the natural moves toward its' ground and end in divine nature. It is this tendency to move toward the ground and end, that produces miracles. A miracle is merely nature bending toward the higher aspect of Supernature.

but with the Protestant division between divine sovereignty, acceptation and will motivating the universe, we mistake univocity and equivocity for nature and supernature. We think nature and supernature are not alike they are at war, so difference marks the relationship of the two. But to make the Suepernatural more avaible they stress some aspect of nature and put it over against the rest of nature and pretend that makes it sueprnatuarl, this is univocity, it's the same. So will and acceptation, soverigty, God has to prove that he is in charge, these are all aspects of univocity.

It's the natural extension of this bifurcation that sets up two realms and sees nature as "everything that exits." or "all of material reality" that sets up the atheist idea that supernatural is unnecessary and doesn't exist.

The medieval Christian doctrine of the supernatural has long been misconstrued as a dualistic denigration of nature, opposed to scientific thinking. The concept of supernature, however, is not a dualism in the sense of denigrating nature or of pitting against each other the "alien" realms of spirit and matter. The Christian ontology of the supernatural bound together the realm of nature and the realm of Grace, immanent and transcendent, in a unity of creative wisdom and purpose, which gave theological significance to the natural world. While the doctrine of supernature was at times understood in a dualistic fashion, ultimately, the unity it offered played a positive role in the development of scientific thinking, because it made nature meaningful to the medieval mind. Its dissolution came, not because supernatural thinking opposed scientific thinking, but because culture came to value nature in a different manner, and the old valuation no longer served the purpose of scientific thinking. An understanding of the notion of supernature is essential to an understanding of the attitudes in Western culture toward nature, and to an understanding of the cultural transition to science as an epistemic authority.

The ontology of supernature assumes that the natural participates in the supernatural in an ordered relation of means and immediate ends, with reference to their ultimate ends. The supernatural is the ground and end of the natural; the realm of nature and the realm of Grace are bound up in a harmonious relation. The Ptolemaic system explained the physical lay-out of the universe, supernature explained its theological relation to God. The great chain of being separated the ranking of creatures in relation to creator. The supernatural ontology is, therefore, sperate from but related to cosmologies. This ontology stands behind most forms of pre-reformation theology, and it implies an exaltation of nature, rather than denigration. This talk of two realms seems to imply a dualism, yet, it is not a metaphysical dualism, not a dualism of opposition, but as Fairweather points out, "the essential structure of the Christian faith has a real two-sidedness about it, which may at first lead the unwary into dualism, and then to resolve ... an exclusive emphasis on one or the other severed elements of a complete Christianity...such a dissolution is inevitable once we lose our awareness of that ordered relation of the human and the divine, the immanent and the transcendent, which the Gospel assumes." Yet, it is this "two-sidedness" which leads unwary historians of into dualism.

In his famous 1967 article, "The Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Lynn White argued that the Christian belief of the Imago Dei created "a dualism of man and nature;" "man shares in God's transcendence of nature." This notion replaced pagan animism, it removed the "sacred" from the natural world, and with it, inhibitions against exploiting nature. Moreover, by the 12th century, nature became a source of revelation through natural theology. In the Latin West, where action prevailed over contemplation, natural theology ceased to be the decoding of natural symbols of the divine and became instead an attempt to understand God through decerning the operation of creation. Western technology flourished, surpassing even that of Islamic culture (although they still led in theoretical pursuits). Thus, White argues, medieval theology did allow science to grow, but at the ultimate expense of the environment.

The insights of feminist scholarship, however, suggest an even more subtle argument for the denigration of nature. Feminist theologian, Rosemary Radford Ruther, argued that there is an identification between the female and nature, the male and transcendence. Women have been disvalued historically through the association between female sexuality and the "baseness" of nature. Londa Schiebinger, calls attention to the fact that the Judeo-Christian cosmology placed women in a subordinate position. Gender was more fundamental than biological sex, and it was a cosmological principle, "...Men and women were carefully placed in the great chain of being--their positions were defined relative to plants, animals, and God." The subordination of women was predicated upon their position in nature. "Male" and "Female represented dualistic cosmological principles penetrating all of nature, principles of which sexual organs were only one aspect. One might suspect that the place of women on the great chain of being is indicative of the true status of nature itself in Christian ontology; an overt denigration of women indicates a covert denigration of nature.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Arguments are and how they work, 101 (for Rex)

Rex is confused about the nature of argument. But even though this is too basic for me to waste my time on because it has nothing to do with what I want to accomplish I should not have to give the reading an education they failed to get in school (people who know nothing about the world of books and thought should not be pontification about religion on message boards, they should be reading books about religion). Nevertheless I find atheists making these mistakes so often it might help to explain some things.

Rex thinks that if an argument sets out to prove a beilef held in the belief system of the debater than it's circular reasoning. He equates "I believe in God so I will argument for the existence of God" with "The Bible says it's ture therefore it's true:

You can't say, "I'm going to experiment on the effects of electricity but I can't start out assuming that there is any such thing as electricity."

Which is EXACTLY what I was trying to say to Meta, but when I say it he blows a gasket, and when you say it, he thinks it is a good point. Hmmmmm......

My point was that if you are going to discuss god or atheism, you have to do it from a standpoint of neutrality. You can't do it like the bible flowchart:

1 The bible is the infallible word of god.
2 The word of god is true because it says so in the bible
3 The bible is true because it is the infallible word of god.

See? It just goes around and around like the wheels on the bus, except it never goes anywhere different.

Anyone who knows argument knows this is crap. First we must distinguish between the aim of the argument and the premise of the argument. The irony is atheists are doing what Rex is saying I shouldn't do all the time. The point of making an argument is prove something. An argument is not an experiment thus it is not open ended. An argument doesn't proceed into the unknown with no idea where it's going. Arguments are put forth for specific reasons.

 To argue for something one must know what is being argued for. Take the example of policy debate, In debate I ran a case in high school saying that Voter turnout in the primary elections in USA is a very good thing to have. Turnout is low and it should be high becuase it's good to have high turn out. I'll spare you all the reasons. So we had studies that said if the delegates at the convention are bound in a primary people are more likely to vote because they bleieve their voices count. So we had a plan that said all the delegates must be bound in all primaries for all the major parties.

one of my cases for 74-75 high school debate topic, choosing Presidential candidates
Present plan: bind delegates
I. Increase Voter Turnout is advantageous

A. Higher the voerter turn out the higher benitifts to the poor
1. substecutre
2. substructuer (proof of that point A)

B. Current t/o low because voters don't have a voice
1. deligates chosen by party
2. not bounc so they change their votes

C Affirmative solves
we bind delidtaes and Zidenstine study says that will increase turn out.

No judge ever said "you can't argue that because that's circular, you have to start from a osition of not knowing what you are doing and discover by accident the best policy. That would be foolish.

Now we also did not start from a position that said "the affirmative is right therefore the affirmative is right" We start out saying "turn out is good." Then we say "turn out is low" then we say "our plan will solve it." that is not circular and no  one ever said it was. How could one possibly argue for voter turn out without knowing in advance that one is supporting Voter turnout? how could you write a plan to bind delegates if you didn't know you were trying to increase voter turn out?

Let's look at web definitions of arguement:

Definitions of argument on the Web:
  • a fact or assertion offered as evidence that something is true; "it was a strong argument that his hypothesis was true"
  • controversy: a contentious speech act; a dispute where there is strong disagreement; "they were involved in a violent argument"
  • a discussion in which reasons are advanced for and against some proposition or proposal; "the argument over foreign aid goes on and on"
  • a summary of the subject or plot of a literary work or play or movie; "the editor added the argument to the poem"
  • (computer science) a reference or value that is passed to a function, procedure, subroutine, command, or program
  • a variable in a logical or mathematical expression whose value determines the dependent variable; if f(x)=y, x is the independent variable
  • argumentation: a course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating a truth or falsehood; the methodical process of logical reasoning; "I can't follow your line of reasoning"
  • The Argument was an Australian sloop wrecked in 1809.
  • An argument in literature is a brief summary, often in prose, of a poem or section of a poem or other work. ...
  • In linguistics, a verb argument is a phrase that appears in a syntactic relationship with the verb in a clause. In English, for example, the two most important arguments are the subject and the direct object.
  • In mathematics, statistics, and the mathematical sciences, a parameter (G: auxiliary measure) is a quantity that serves to relate functions and ...
  • In computer programming, a parameter is a special kind of variable, used in a subroutine to refer to one of the pieces of data provided as input to the subroutine. . These pieces of data are called arguments. ...
  • The Argument is the sixth studio album from the post-hardcore band Fugazi, and their last before going on indefinite hiatus in 2002. ...
  • In logic, an argument is a set of one or more meaningful declarative sentences (or "propositions") known as the premises along with another ...
  • A fact or statement used to support a proposition; a reason:; A verbal dispute; a quarrel; A process of reasoning; A series of statements ...
Not one of those says "an experiment that starts from an unknown position." Take the third example:

a discussion in which reasons are advanced for and against some proposition or proposal; "the argument over foreign aid goes on and on"

that one fits my definition to a T. It's setting out to prove a point, it's not an open ended experiment. Reasons advanced for or against a proposal. One such proposal could be "the bible is the word of God." that would be a proposition to argue about. Remember distinguish between the aim and the premises. The aim of the argument is known in advance.

Let's take the simplest God arugment I know:

God is either Necessary or Impossible
God is not impossible, because there is no contradiction in the concept of God
Therefore, God is necessary.
 Regardless of how one feels about this argument, perhaps it's great, perhaps it sux, but either way, it is not making the mistake of circular reasoning. Notice the first line offers an either/or choice. Either god is one or the other. It's not assuming God exists, it's assuming an either/or.That's' the first premise. See the difference? The aim of arguing it is to prove God exits, but the first premise is not that God exists, it's that there's an either/or situation and it's going to show that God must because by demonstrating that the either side is the one to chose. That's not at all the same thing as assuming God exists in the first premise.

I once did an interesting experiment. I took the first line of everyone of my God arguments. I said "which of these do you agree with?" I put them up on CARM without saying "these are premises to my God arguments." The very same people who for months had been telling me that my arguments were illogical and they were all based upon circular reasoning and I assume God exists so the argument is no good, the very same people agreed with every single one of the premises, all 42 of my God arguments.

here are a couple of arguments I used in connection with the argument on the post "he does."

for the over all argument here it is:

(1) decision making paradigm embraces the simplest and most elegant idea
(2) God is the simple solution--God = being itself, the nature of being is to be.

(3) Solves all other problems--morality, meaning

The first premise is "decision making paradigm embraces the simplest and most elegant idea. That doesn't' say "God exists." The second premise doesn't say God exists it says God would be the simple solution. Its' not assume God exists as a premise it's assuming IF God exits then God si the solution to the problem. Since the argument is parsimony it has to assert the solution; how could you argue that something is parsimonious without asserting it's reality?

The Temporal Beginning argument

I used this as part of the overall parsemony arugment:

5) Therefore, time should never have come to be.

6) We know that time did come to be, therefore, it must have been created by something capable of writing and circumventing the rules.

7) Only God would be capable of writting and circumventing the rules of time and eternity, therefore, God must exit.
The first premise to this argument is not "God exits" but "Time has a beginning." That is mandated by the theory of the big bang, not many atheists will disagree. Notice the argument flows form one point to another. Each point is a logical implication of the one before, it, for the most part. 3 has a "thereofre." why? Because it is the logical consequence of points 1 and 2. So you move from point to point each one setting up what comes next. this is the standard way that arguments work.

The first three points prove that no change beyond time is possible and that sets up the idea that the first state (putative) of affairs before time is timelessness, that's obvious if no change or time is possible. See how the prmeises lead to conclusions that become other premises and more conclusions?

The first four points demonstrate that nothing could come to be in a timeless state and then I argue by 5 that time should not have come to be. why? because it's logical consequence of what came before, if there's no time and there can't be any change when there's no time then time can't come to be. See how arguments build on the premises and unfold into conclusions based  upon the premises? you have to follow what is said from point to point. But you will never find any of my augments with a premise "God must exist" up front. That's a conclusion.

do you see how it works now?

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Heart of the Atheist Brain Washing

There is Rex, he could not say a single word to disprove my arugment, he didn't address a single major issue, he didn't even try to bail naturalism out of the inexorable dilemma's I put it in (3 of them) but he is still beating the drum for "truth" (his truth) and claiming that it's so obvious there's no God. It's so obvious he can't answer a single argument for the existence of God!

What makes them so impervious to counter evidence, logic, every aspect of human decision making? They can't see the obvious in front of their faces, that little benighted 3% of insist that the 90% are idiots. Why are they so certain? Take another example, just this week end I was sparing with "wordsmith" on CARM. He makes a certain statement about theology (he says an impersonal view of God is not a valid Christian view). I say you only think that because you are not well read enough in theology. Process is theology is Christian and it's big in seminaries and it has an impersonal view of God. He says "But theology is stupid anyway." Wait a minute! He thinks Christianity is stupid as a whole,what does that have to do with what is a valid Christian idea and what is not? He thinks all Christian ideas are stupid, so why should that being stupid mean it's not a Christian idea?

The answer is obvious, his first round verbiage was a smoke screen. He doesn't care what's true, he doesn't care what a Christian idea is. He's not going to believe regardless of the facts everything else is just irrelevant. I discovered a long time ago that 90% of atheist arguments are the same argument, argument from incredulity: I refuse to believe no matter what, therefore, it's not true. This is the only argument Rex makes, actually. When he's spouting high and might verbiage about "truth" what he's really saying is "I refuse to believe not matter what and that's all that counts."

Where does this sort of unwavering dedication to error come from? It's indicative, I think, of the sort brain washing one undergoes in a cult. The problem is I don't' think atheists are put through the kind of socialization process that people in cults are, especially for those whose major contact with other atheists are on the net. I doubt that we would find Rex selling flowers on the street corner to fund projects of Dawkins. Although I really don't know what he does with his spare time. So it has to be a voluntary sort of "brain washing."I had a professor in undergraduate school (U.T. Arlington) named Anson Schoupe who is a famous expert in sociology of religion.He is infamous for saying that brain washing is real socialization. This has incurred the ire of huge numbers of people related to those taken in cults. But it would explain the voluntary nature of atheist brain washing (or socialization).

Atheists are socialized into the group on the net through the process of social acceptance. I've seen process happening before my eyes. Take the case of A on CARM. "A" was not her real name or even her real screen name, (I think she was "AM" but can't remember). She was a Christian and went along being insulted and mocked and ridiculed by atheists. But she also had her own issues she was trying to solve. One day she "de converted" and became an atheist. Instantly, that day all the people who just the day before were telling her how stupid she is, were telling her how smart she is. She was eating it up because she was tired of being called stupid. That's a powerful inducement, finally being accepted by the bullies who had pushed her around and destroyed her self esteem. In a sense she was just "taken over." Of course the bullies see this is a totally valid way to get members because they don't care about truth. They are not seeking redemption they are not in it to find what's real, they just want the psychological rush of being big and powerful becuase they put others down below themselves.

I've uncovered one of the primary motivations for atheism as poor self esteem and the need to put one's self up by putting others beneath. Of course it's obvious various stages of anger against the father and agaisnt God come into it depending upon a person's life story. The need to mock and ridicule Christians on message boards is related to this need to put oneself above some group of the hated.

Ironically those are the same kinds of things atheists criticize Christianity for. They in a sense they emotionally converting at the point of a sword, but they would then find times in history when they ca make that criticism of various religious groups then regard that a reason to doubt the truth of religion. They would find socialization in church and call it "brain washing" I've seen more than one atheist do so. There is no bottom to their hypocrisy. Psychologists really need to study atheism as an exercise in understanding self deception. Of cousre these are anecdotal observations. We need a real scientific study to understand it. I suspect if we could design one we would find that the "new atheism" is driven by engines very similar to those that drives cults.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old Atheist Fallacy "you can't make the argument until you prove it:" Form of circular reasoning.

There are two really silly debate ploys that people sometimes use. I don't say they are peculiar to the atheist camp, but since I am more familiar with their arguments, than those of creationists, for example, I will use them. My aim is to raise consciousness about these fallacies in an attempt to get people to stop using them.

these two fallacies exist in an interchange, a sublational interplay where one builds upon the other.

The two fallacies are:

(1) privileging one's own position

(2) Truth by Stipulation.

As it turns out the kids who offer the $500 to prove Jesus existed employ no. 1 fallacy in spaces. They have erased the comments but before they did so they informed one commentator that he could not use Raymond Brown as an authority because Brown was a priest. It's just so obvious that a Priest is not objective, and they said explicitly that no one with a theology degree could be used. What's really buzzer is that they themselves use religious thinkers all the time, and they use them to support their own views? It has not yet dawned on them that they are quoting liberals and that liberals have the own faith. One striking example of this is their use of Bualtmann. They even declared "Rudolf Bluesman is a non Christian." The reason they thought he wasn't a Christian is because he doesn't take the Bible literally. So they know so little about theology they domt' even know that there is a liberal wing of the theological world (and thought his name was "Bluesman"). All they know of Christianity is the funds, and yet they are so sure they know all about it, so much so that they can dims Ray Brown as "subjective." Rayon Brown is one of the top textual critics in the world, or he was before his death (1998). But they wont allow him in the discussion because he was a priest. As though this immanently rational scholar just goes gaga when he sees the Bile, but he can still learn Greek, decipher manuscripts in ancient script, do hard textual criticism, but somehow his judgment is so impaired that he's just out of control.

I made the same mistake in my youth, so I cannot judge these guys too harshly. Stung by an encounter with a preacher who taught at a local preaching school, who wiped me out in a debate with the use of Josh McDonnell (I was fresh out of high school and McDowell's Evidence that Demands a Verdict was still pretty new), I went in search of Biblical scholars who would counter McDowell. I discovered Brunet Hillman Strutter. Strutter published The Primitive Church in 1924, he was killed in a plain crash in India in the 40's. He was the cancan reader at Cambridge in the 20s-40s. One of the finest scholars of the early part of the 20th century. Streeter was a liberal of his day, meaning, a ninetieth century style liberal. He did, however, have a strong faith which manifested itself in mystical consciousness. He even found Saudi Sunder Sing, an interesting case of Christian mystic who had grown up a Ski in India and had a Damascus Road experience in which Jesus spoke to him out of a great light. Streeter was very impressed with Sing and cultivated a friendship. I was heartened to find his book on the Primitive Church. He seemed to tear the Bible to pieces. Little did I know he loved the Bible, he was not tearing it at all but merely preparing the reader to read it intelligently. The Primitive Church rapidly became one of my favorite books.

One day as I read Streeter I came across a statement he makes in which he declares his faith and speaks in a devotional manner about "our Lord." I was stocked! he was a believer after all! How could this be? He tears the Bible to pieces. He even say it has mistakes in it. He must be mad. That was when I realized there's a lot more to the theological world than I realized. It's not all just a matter of Christians are stupid fools with simplistic little zombie brains and atheist are all smart little bastards like me (as I was then). That realization was truly shocking to me, and it was one of the first stepping stones that put me on the a path to conversion. But some atheists, the less adapt at argumentation, have learned to privilege their position, and they do so in such a way that the create a simplistic formulation along the lines of their own ideological conceits: objectivity is good, our side is objective. Subjectivity is bad, their side is subjective. We good, they bad. That privileging is seen at work creating a king's x to rule out the use of any epistemic authority of scholarly expertise that would count against their position. In this sense fallacy 1 bleeds into fallacy 2 as it becomes truth by stipulation. The privileging of the position works itself into truth by stipulation.

We can see this dichotomy of privilege at work in the exclusion of the NT as any sort of artifact in evidence of the historical Jesus. The atheist community (SEC Web, infidel guy) have it down to a point where the New Testament, especially the Gospels are almost irrelevant to any discussion of the historical Jesus. Once the potentates of mediocrity at the SW decided to declare the Gospels fictional (truth by stipulation) they just wiped out any need to use them. Any references to them are just met with the magical king's X, this is wiped away because we declare it to be fictional and end of comment. A snowball effect occurs whereby the privileging leads to stipulating and the stipulating undergirds the privileging. Before long they just ignore anything any Christian has to say. We see this already happening in the exclusion of any priest or anyone with a theology degree. Of course their ignorance binges theologians back into the picture but only because they are haplessly unaware of their own fumbling. How cod anyone logically fight such a syndrome? If we try to play the same game and stipulate our side it's just mattress taste in conflict. If we try to remain steadfast to the scholarship they have that ignored and it doesn't matter to them. So little by little they cut themselves off from any rational discussion. How ironic for the children who call themselves "The Rational Response Squad." Those are the one's offering money to prove that Jesus existed. They could save their money and read my historical Jesus pages, but we will let them find that out for themselves.

Fallacy no two I have seen employed in many ways at many times. It was most recently employed at CARM in arguing about religious experience studies. But I have it used a lot in every God argument. I called this "truth by stimulation" but it works in a particular way. It works out to be truth by stipulation, but it begins with the assertion "you can't make that argument until it is proven." I first encountered it in making a God argument. The atheist says 'you can't start an argument by referring to God because that's assuming God exits.' I say "but this argument is an argument to prove God exits. So how do I speak of God in order to prove he exists," "you can't, you must first prove he exists, otherwise you ear begging the question." I swear that's what he said. It destine' take a rhetorical genius to see that if this is taken literally or seriously one can never make an argument. To make an argument one must first make it, then the making of it proves something. But how can you prove an argument before you make it? But the fact is, that's what these guys want. They want a cheap way to shut up talk of God because they know they can't go toe to toe on the logic of God arguments. That's why God arguments are back. So this position works itself out to be a stimulation, "there is no God" period, no need for proof, that's just the way it is. That means you can't begin a discussion about God becasue even to prove God that would beg the question.

Both of these fallacies are arrived at from a basic starting point in the subject/object dichotomy. That starting point is one of fear. These people fear anything subjective, so much so that they have to plac themselves in a strict position of stimulation that no subjectivity must ever cross their path. Of course they privilege their own guys as good and objective. That means that they use their own subjective taste to affirm the objectivity of their camp. AS it turns out their critical principle is nothing more than supreme arrogance. This kind of atheist, I shall call them the stipulationists, assert their view point based upon the assumption that all knowledge is empirically derived and inductive. Thus only objective observation can be used to understand knowledge. Subjectivity has no place in knowledge, because knowledge must be absolute. There is no room for error.

Of course the amusing part is, they have no objective data for any of their views. They are so horribly subjective they don't even know that there are liberal theologians. They are so horribly subjective that their basic myther position is made up almost entirely of an argument form silence, lacks any kind of objective data. The Christian potion on historical Jesus has a lot data behind it than the myther position does. We have sources from the first century that at least assert that Jesus was a guy in history. But the mythers have not one single source that denies this, not until the eighteenth century! The reason the stipulation must privilege their position and wipe out all evidence that counts against them by stipulating it under the King's X is becuase they are afraid to actually argue honestly.


Rex our on loyal oppoent has provided us with prime examples of these truth by stipulation and the old "you can't make the argument until you prove it:"

I'm with Hermit. Your recent statements on the existence of god are all well and good, the only problem is that they are very involved and detailed rationalizations for someone who starts with the flawed assumption that a supreme being exists. Then you try to weave a very nice story to convince yourself that your opening conclusion is correct.

The real issue is that you begin with the assumption that a god exists, and I don't.

Actually not true because my argument (see last post) does not begin from a premise that God exists. It argues from the premise that God concept is more elegant solution, not that God exists. What he's talking about is actually much more fundamental error that stems form not understating the nature of debate. He's arguing that his position should be privileged and mine unprivileged becuase likes his and not mine. But arguments are not experiments. They are not open ended investigations they are designed to prove a certain point, so to have a valid argument you have to know what you are arguing for. He's confusing knowing what you are arguing for with resting the conclusion on the primes.

To say "you can't argue for that until you prove it" is circular reasoning becuase the purpose of an argument is to prove something. If you can't argue for X until you prove X how will you prove X? This whole truth by stipulation thing is just symptomatic of a cult-like propaganda rather than real thought. These people are going to websites being told what to think and the spitting it back without really understanding it. That's the basis of he whole atheist movement. They have no arguments, they can't prove anything, all they ever do is privilege their doubt and mock and mock anything that doesn't fit the template of their propaganda.

He start by asserting that the true convictions I'm arguing for are premises of the argument, ignoring what I give as the true premise and then mocking the actual logic of the argument by dismissing it as "a nice story." Notice he didn't answer a single argument, he sweeps it all aside because its' not his thing.

That's just as cult-like as you can get.

Friday, March 19, 2010

He Does


(1) decision making paradigm embraces the simplest and most elegant idea
(2) God is the simple solution--God = being itself, the nature of being is to be.

(3) Solves all other problems--morality, meaning

Stop right here. If simple is your thing then this is it. But there's more for those of you who want substance.

A. Elegant Solution

(1) Elegant  is more important than simplicity

As I have pointed out all kinds of true things are complex. Anything can be made simple or complex based upon how deeply we go into it. But the concept of an elegant solution includes simplicity but more than that it deals with 'bang for the buck." What the concept of God lacks in exhaustive understanding (God is beyond our understanding) it makes up for in Bang for the buck in terms of applicability.

(2) Definition of Elegance.

searchWebServices.com Definitions - powered by whatis.com

The word elegant, in general, is an adjective meaning of fine quality. Refinement and simplicity are implied, rather than fussiness, or ostentation. An elegant solution, often referred to in relation to problems in disciplines such as mathematics, engineering, and programming, is one in which the maximum desired effect is achieved with the smallest, or simplest effort. Engineers, for example, seek the elegant solution as a means of solving a problem with the least possible waste of materials and effort. The elegant solution is also likely to be accomplished with appropriate methods and materials - according to the Elegant Solution Organization, duct tape is not likely to be part of an elegant solution, unless, of course, the problem involves taping ducts.

(3) Simplicity is not logically mandated

This scientific principle is derived from Occam's Razor, but it is not Occam's Razor.The Razor is always misquoted. The popular notion is that it says "take the simplest solution." Actually it doesn't. Occam never said that. He said do not multiply entities beyond necessity. But it is, nevertheless understood that the simplest and most elegant solution is to be preferred.

God is not a scientific concept, and thus cannot be Parsimonious, and doesn't' need to be. But elegant solutions exist at all levels of problem solving. While Gdo is not a scientific concept, God is an elegant solution to all our creatoinal needs. Alvin Plantinga (Lecture Notes--26 Theistic arguments)

Quote: Alvin Plantinga

"According to Swinburne, simplicity is a prime determinant of intrinsic probability. That seems to me doubtful, mainly because there is probably no such thing in general as intrinsic (logical) probability. Still we certainly do favor simplicity; and we are inclined to think that simple explanations and hypotheses are more likely to be true than complicated epicyclic ones. So suppose you think that simplicity is a mark of truth (for hypotheses). If theism is true, then some reason to think the more simple has a better chance of being true than the less simple; for God has created both us and our theoretical preferences and the world; and it is reasonable to think that he would adapt the one to the other. (If he himself favored anti-simplicity, then no doubt he would have created us in such a way that we would too.) If theism is not true, however, there would seem to be no reason to think that the simple is more likely to be true than the complex." (I no longer have the source for this quote but i know it was a lecture by Pleantiga entitled "50 or theistic arguments").

In other words, the idea that the simple idea is true is not logically necessary. It's an aesthetic preference we make in our thinking.

B. God is the simplest Solution.

(1) nature of simplicity

Atheists often think that God is the more complicated solution. On discussion boards they will often argue that the Big Bang is much simpler than God becasue it comes from a singularity. So they are confusing size with simplicity. Apparently they think that an infinitesimally small thing is siple and an infinite thing is complex. But this is not at all true, which one can see with proper reflection. God is actually much simpler. The singularity has to be explained itself, it offers no real explanation but invented a cause for itself. And if it did contain matter and energy, which many skeptics seem to think but the real scientific theory doesn't say that, it would be even more complex because that would require an explanation as to how infinitely dense matter got in there in the first place.

2) Theism simpler hypothesis- in terms of origin.

That is when we think about the origin of he universe we problems which spawn complex scientific theories that still yield no answers, God is the simpler solution in this sense. As Duns Scotus put it, there is an infinite distance between being and non-being, and theism posits the origin of being by being, whereas atheism posits the origin of being from non-being.

Edmund Whitaker, a British physicist, wrote a book entitled The Beginning and End of the World, in which he said, "There is no ground for supposing that matter and energy existed before and was suddenly galvanized into action. For what could distinguish that moment from all other moments in eternity?" Whitaker concluded, "It is simpler to postulate creation ex nihilo--Divine will constituting Nature from nothingness." [cited in Jastrow, R. 1978. God and the Astronomers. New York, W.W. Norton, p. 111-12.]

Physicist Barry Parker agrees: "We do, of course, have an alternative. We could say that there was no creation, and that the universe has always been here. But this is even more difficult to accept than creation."[Barry Parker, Creation--The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe (New York & London: Plenum Press, 1988) p. 202.]

 (3) Problems with Naturalistic solutions

The problems we encounter when we try to account for our being by forgetting God require totally inelegant solutions. This is seen clearly where one of the most fundamental contradictions in atheism emerges from the failure of naturalism to account for being.

a. Materialism based upon cause and effect--which atheism abandons

  Dictionary of Philosophy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism"

"...the belief that everything that exists is ether matter or entirely dependent upon matter for its existence." Center For Theology and the Natural Sciences Contributed by:

Dr. Christopher Southgate: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999) http://www.ctns.org/Information/information.html Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?(this source is already linked above)

"...Beyond the Christian community there was even greater unease. One of the fundamental assumptions of modern science is that every physical event can be sufficiently explained solely in terms of preceding physical causes. Quite apart from its possible status as the moment of creation, the Big Bang singularity is an offense to this basic assumption. Thus some philosophers of science have opposed the very idea of the Big Bang as irrational and untestable."

* Something from nothing contradicts materialism

Science and The Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead.
NY: free Press, 1925, (1953) p.76

"We are content with superficial orderings form diverse arbitrary starting points. ... science which is employed in their development [modern thought] is based upon a philosophy which asserts that physical causation is supreme, and which disjoints the physical cause from the final end. It is not popular to dwell upon the absolute contradiction here involved."[Whitehead was an atheist]

* Causality was the basis upon which God was expelled from Modern Science

It was La Plase's famous line "I have no need of that Hypothesis" [meaning God] Which turned the scientific world form believing (along with Newton and assuming that order in nature proved design) to unbelief on the principle that we don't' need God to explain the universe because we have independent naturalistic cause and effet. [Numbers, God and Nature]

* Materialism Undermines Itself

* Big Bang contradicts causality (see quotation above)

*QM theory seems to contradict cause/effect relationship.

* Rejection of final cause

* Probabilistic Justification for assumption of Cause

We still have a huge justification for assuming causes inductively, since nothing in our experience is ever uncaused. The mere fact that we can't see or find a cause isn't a proof that there isn't one.

* Therefore, we have probabilistic justification for assuming Final cause

Thus, the basis upon which God was dismissed from scientific thought has been abandoned;the door to consideration of God is open again. The reliance upon naturalistic cause and effect in consideration of ultimate origins is shattered, but this does not make it rational to just assume that the universe popped into existence with no cause. Since we have vast precedent for assuming cause and effect, we should continue to do so. But since naturalistic cause and effect seems unnecessary at the cosmic level, we should consider the probability of an ultimate necessary final cause.

........b. Problem of Temporal Beginning

The problem of temporal beginning is a problem for both atheists and theists. Essentially the laws of physics as we know them make time's coming to be an impossibility. There is no naturalistic solution to this problem because it is a fundamental contradiction in terms. The only possible solution apart form God is that reality turns out to be other than we know. Consider the following analysis:

5) Therefore, time should never have come to be.

6) We know that time did come to be, therefore, it must have been created by something capable of writing and circumventing the rules.

7) Only God would be capable of writting and circumventing the rules of time and eternity, therefore, God must exit.

Now the atheist may take the position, "someday we will know." they have a phony name for the idea that a gap in their ability to supply answers is a problem for their view. I've seen the try to turn that around into a fallacy on the theists part. But to say "someday science will tell us the answer without God" is just a statement of faith. They will say it's God of the gaps, but it's not because God of the Gaps means a gap in knowledge only, not a case where the knowledge already have blocks the solution (a logical contradiction). Here are some quotations by physicists proving the argument that our current understanding means time should not exist:

In the quantum world...the world that the universe inhabited when it was less than a second old...many things work very differently. One of these is that time itself does not mean quite the same thing as it does to us in the world- at-large. Although we have no complete theory of the relevant physics, there are many indications from the mathematics that yield sound experimental results, that time itself may have ceased to have much meaning near the Big Bang event. This means that there was no 'time' as we know this concept 'before' the Big Bang. That being the case, the question of what happened before the Big Bang is now a question without any possible physical answer. The evolution of the universe has always been a process of transformation from one state to the next as the universe has expanded. At some point in this process, looking back at the Big Bang, we enter a state so removed from any that we now know, than even the laws that govern it become totally obscure to science itself. In the quantum world, we see things 'appearing' out of nothing all the time. The universe may have done the same thing. What this means to us may never be fully understood.

astronmy cafe

Odenwald, 2004

Was there really no time at all "before" the Big Bang?
As I have mentioned in a previous question, we do not know what the state of the universe was like at the Big Bang and beyond.
Our best guess at this time suggest that time and space as we know these concepts will become rather meaningless as the universe enters a purely quantum mechanical state of indeterminacy. Cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking suggest that the dimension of time is transformed via quantum fluctuations in the so-called "signature of the space time metric", into a space-like coordinate so that instead of 3-space and 1-time dimension, space-time becomes a 4-dimensional space devoid of any time-like features. What this state is imagined to be is anyone's guess because as humans trained to think in terms of processes evolving in time, our next question would then be, What came before the Hawking space-like state? There is no possible answer to this question because there is no time in which the concept of 'before' can be said to have a meaning. The question itself becomes the wrong question to ask.


"As we shall see, the concept of time has no meaning before the beginning of the universe. This was first pointed out by St. Augustine. When asked: What did God do before he created the universe? Augustine didn't reply: He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions. Instead, he said that time was a property of the universe that God created, and that time did not exist before the beginning of the universe. [Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 8]

Physical law operates in time

http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/public/qg_qc.html Cambridge Relativity and Quantum Gravity. 1996, University of Cambridge

The physical laws that govern the universe prescribe how an initial state evolves with time. In classical physics, if the initial state of a system is specified exactly then the subsequent motion will be completely predictable.

Nothing can happen in a timeless state

Sten OdenwaldBeyond the Big Bang.

Copyright (C) 1987, Kalmbach Publishing

"Theories like those of SUSY GUTS (Supersymetry Grand Unified Theory) and Superstrings seem to suggest that just a few moments after Creation, the laws of physics and the content of the world were in a highly symmetric state; one superforce and perhaps one kind of superparticle. The only thing breaking the perfect symmetry of this era was the definite direction and character of the dimension called Time. Before Creation, the primordial symmetry may have been so perfect that, as Vilenkin proposed, the dimensionality of space was itself undefined. To describe this state is a daunting challenge in semantics and mathematics because the mathematical act of specifying its dimensionality would have implied the selection of one possibility from all others and thereby breaking the perfect symmetry of this state. There were, presumably, no particles of matter or even photons of light then, because these particles were born from the vacuum fluctuations in the fabric of space/time that attended the creation of the universe. In such a world, nothing happens because all 'happenings' take place within the reference frame of time and space. The presence of a single particle in this nothingness would have instantaneously broken the perfect symmetry of this era because there would then have been a favored point in space different from all others; the point occupied by the particle. This nothingness didn't evolve either, because evolution is a time-ordered process. The introduction of time as a favored coordinate would have broken the symmetry too. It would seem that the 'Trans-Creation' state is beyond conventional description because any words we may choose to describe it are inherently laced with the conceptual baggage of time and space. Heinz Pagels reflects on this 'earliest' stage by saying, "The nothingness 'before' the creation of the universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration or eternity..."

In other words, time should not exist and thus nothing should exist because nothing could come to be in a timeless state  (another reason why spontaneous existence of the universe is a logical contradiction) and thus naturalistic solutions are out. There had to be something over and above the rules which could decide when to employ them, or perhaps something that wrote the rules.

I am just going to link to this next two:

(4) God is simpler and more elegant

a) ground of being

God is simpler by far, especially Tillich's notion of God as the ground of being or the Thomistic concept of a God whose existence is his essence. This is the most elegant solution in the world. God is on a par with Being itself and his essence is to be. That is elegant becasue it means just this: Being has to be, and what being does is merely exist, thus if God's existence (the fact that he is) is his essence (the thing that he is) than it means that Being itself is merely doing what it is supposed to do, merely being and through its own being allowing the beings to come into existence.

b) Mind 

God is the mind that thinks the universe. That's the most elegant approach. The basis of reality is not energy or matter but mind. Consciousness as we know it is energy, patters of charges firing over synapse, and matter is energy, so everything reduces to energy. Mind would be the best explanation for the all the above processes that require some principle of organizing. Mind is patterns of energy and organizing is making patterns. The atheists will argue that you can't have a mind without a brain, but we don't know that. We know that organic life requires brain to produce mind, that is not to say that this is the only form of consciousness that could exist.
c) solves all other problems

Problems and meaning and morality are also solved by this approach to belief, but not by naturalism which has to leave life meaningless and morality relative. 

Now we come full circle because it's moral solutions that most atheists trying to get away from.