Intelligent Design

The Naturalists’ Conundrum

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Kantian Naturalist writes that almost all naturalists (including, presumably, himself) believe selection tends to favor true beliefs.

I don’t know why he would say this, because Neo-Darwinian Evolution (“NDE”) posits that selection favors characters that increase fitness as measured by relative reproductive fecundity. Per NDE, selection is indifferent the truth. It will select for a false belief if, for whatever reason, that belief increases fitness.

Now the naturalist might say that it is obvious that true belief must increase fitness more than false belief. Is it obvious? Consider the conundrum of religious belief from an NDE perspective:

1. By definition the naturalist believes religious belief is false.

2. The overwhelming majority of people throughout history have held religious belief.

3. Therefore, the naturalist must believe that the overwhelming majority of humans throughout history have held a false belief.

4. It follows that natural selection selected for a belief that the naturalist is convinced is false.

We can set to one side the question of whether a particular religious belief is actually false. The naturalist, by definition, believes they all are, and therefore he must believe that natural selection selected for a belief he thinks is false.

What is the naturalist to do? Indeed, if the naturalist concedes that natural selection at least sometimes selects for false beliefs, how can he have any confidence in his own conviction that naturalism itself is true?

Appeals to “the evidence” won’t save the naturalist here. Both sides of the religion issue appeal to evidence.

476 Replies to “The Naturalists’ Conundrum

  1. 1
    William J Murray says:

    If every thought and belief a human has is nothing more than the cumulative chemical translation of aeons of cascading cause-and-effect events under natural selection, then the claim that natural selection “tends to select for true beliefs” is nothing more, and cannot be anything more, than a product of the same categorical processes that claims to the contrary.

    In fact, every argument a naturalist puts forth cannot be, at root, substantively any different from a precisely contrary argument, because the root of such arguments and the belief that they are sound are categorically the same – molecules bumping around producing claims and beliefs.

    The naturalist has no means whatsoever to differentiate their argument, or their beliefs, from anyone else’s – even lunatics and madmen. What would the appeal to? Evidence? They believe the evidence supports them; they believe the facts support them; others believe the contrary. Logic? ad infinitum.

    Unless truth and logic are things beyond whatever chemical bumping molecules in our bodies happen to say they are, and unless we have a means of accessing them as such, there is no valid argument to be made about anything.

  2. 2
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Now, that I’ve been called out, I suppose I have to rise to the occasion here, don’t I?

    First, the naturalist’s thesis is not that “true belief must increase fitness more than false belief”. The more precise way of putting it is to say that selection will tend to favor reliable cognitive capacities. I think it’s a serious error to identify reliability with “tending to produce true beliefs” — although there is, of course, a necessary relationship between these concepts.

    Secondly, we have various capacities that are not cognitive, but play some other vital role in our lives as human beings.

    Thirdly, that a capacity has some basic reliability or function in the history of a species says nothing about the various socio-historical expressions of that capacity. In the case of most species, we don’t need to worry about that, but humans are unique, because humans have cultures or traditions, and that means that a lot of what we know about human cultural traditions lacks a clear analogue in other species.

    Everything depends on what one takes the relevant question to be. If one assumes a cognitivist theory of religious belief, and if one takes religious belief to be roughly what we’ve had in Judeo-Christian tradition (this is one of the very few occasions on which I will permit myself to use “Judeo-Christian”), then perhaps one could construct a paradox of this sort. (I once tried to do just that, on a creationist/ID website I commented on for a while, in which I used that argument to show how natural selection could be an ally to their theology. They didn’t buy it.)

    I, at any rate, would take the relevant question to be, “do myth, magic, and ritual play an essentially important role in structuring human cognition?” and say that the answer to that is an unequivocal “yes”. And that fundamental role consist of giving the members of that community a map of their environment. That is to say, myths — stories, parables, epics, poems, rituals, whatever — have this essential role: they compress information about ecosystems, geography, and history into nuggets that can be easily stored and transmitted.

    My principal sources for this approach is When They Severed Earth from Sky and The Spell of the Sensuous, though there are many others.

    That, at any rate, is one of the things that myths do; over the tens of thousands of years that separate us from pre-literate, subsistence-level hunter-gatherers (and let us be clear, that is how human beings lived for over 90% of our time on this planet), the originally unified function of myth was taken over into many different cultural practices: religion, science, art, politics, etc.

    I might also add that I don’t think of “religious belief” as “false belief,” because I tend towards a pretty strong non-cognitivism about religion in general. Christianity is just weird, compared with most other world religions. Most world religions are orthopraxic rather than orthodox, about correct practice rather than opinion (doxa). Christianity is highly unusual in the emphasis it puts on intellectual endorsement of a set of propositions, and it’s a terrible idea to form any generalizations about religion based on Christianity alone.

    So, looking at religions as praxis, as orthopraxic instead of as orthodox, strongly supports a non-cognitivist view of religion in general. I don’t think of religion as consisting, first and foremost, in terms of beliefs at all, true or false. Of course the notion of belief has a specific role in Christianity, but if I’m being asked to construct a naturalistic theory of religion, the last thing I would do is begin with Christianity, which is so unusual in so many respects.

    The reason why it’s unusual, I believe, is because Christianity is not just a religion; it is a philosophical system, one that was shaped through philosophical conversation with rival schools in the ancient world. (There’s a reference to this in Acts, if I recall correctly.) And the debates between Christian and pagan philosophers continued for hundreds of years after. Indeed, if I’m right in thinking that the dominant version of naturalism is Epicureanism, then the whole Darwin vs. ID debate is really just a very recent version of a very, very old discussion.

  3. 3
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Unless truth and logic are things beyond whatever chemical bumping molecules in our bodies happen to say they are, and unless we have a means of accessing them as such, there is no valid argument to be made about anything.

    That’s perfectly true, but I don’t think that accepting that means rejecting naturalism. At best it means rejecting a very simplistic, crude version of naturalism — a sort of watered-down Epicureanism.

    As I’ve contended several times on this blog — though it seems to fall on deaf ears — the central problem with the Epicurean philosophy is that it cannot accommodate the very idea of life. And so the basic features of living things, such as teleology, or the basic features of complex animals, such as intentionality, are utterly and completely absent from that system.

    That’s a good reason to reject Epicureanism, but not by itself a good reason to reject naturalism, unless it were the case that all naturalism collapses into Epicurean materialism. And I simply don’t see how that argument might go.

    There’s a lovely essay by Owen Flanagan I like called “Ethics Naturalized: Ethics as Human Ecology“. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but in light of these conversations — and many of the things I’ve been reading lately — I wonder if Flanagan’s point might be extended to include logic as well — if we construe normativity as such as intrinsic to human ecology, in both theoretical contexts (logic, epistemology) as in practical ones (ethics, political theory).

  4. 4
    Neil Rickert says:

    Kantian Naturalist writes that almost all naturalists (including, presumably, himself) believe selection tends to favor true beliefs.

    Unfortunately, you did not cite a previous discussion, so I might have missed the background.

    Are we talking here about cultural evolution or about biological evolution?

    If we are talking about biological evolution, I’m doubting that the question ever arises. That is to say, I doubt that beliefs are inherited.

  5. 5
    Box says:

    Kantian Naturalist, what is the difference between Naturalism and good old Materialism, or ‘Epicureanism’ if you prefer? We all know that matter just isn’t into teleology and intentionality. Maybe organisms are producing the illusion of teleology and intentionality, but since there is ‘nobody home’ (but matter) to the naturalist that’s just it an illusion, right?

  6. 6
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    We all know that matter just isn’t into teleology and intentionality. Maybe organisms are producing the illusion of teleology and intentionality, but since there is ‘nobody home’ (but matter) to the naturalist that’s just it an illusion, right?

    No, I don’t think it is an illusion; I think teleology and intentionality are as real as real gets. But, I think that realism about teleology and intentionality is fully consistent with naturalism, and here’s why.

    All a naturalist need be committed to, I think, is denying that there are supernatural beings. “Ah,” you say, “but defining naturalism as anti-supernaturalism is viciously circular!” Yes, if matters ended there. But they don’t, and here’s why: we can define natural and supernatural in non-question-begging terms, without circularity, in the following way.

    The paradigm of a supernatural being is a being that has psychological properties (beliefs, desires, etc.) but no biological or physical properties. (Clearly this would need to be refined to accommodate all real-world cases — it’s not clear if the inhabitants of the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginal culture would count as ‘supernatural’.) But if we’re talking about the concept of “supernatural being” that plays a central role in Christian metaphysics, this definition will do quite nicely.

    So all a naturalist need do is contend that there are no beings like that: having psychological properties, but no biological or physical properties. Put otherwise, the naturalist contends that all the beings which have psychological properties, also have biological and physical properties.

    But that is fully consistent with thinking that psychological properties (intentionality, consciousness, beliefs, desires, etc.) and biological properties (teleology) are just as fully real as are physical properties.

    So denying that psychological and biological properties are real — and holding that only physical properties are real, the rest being ‘illusion’ or ‘projection’ — is (1) entirely optional for the naturalist and (2) a bad idea.

    In short, “reductive naturalism,” aka “materialism” aka “physicalism” aka “Epicureanism” is not the only option available for someone who denies the existence of supernatural beings.

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Dog, tail, chase, circle, 🙂

  8. 8
    Box says:

    So consciousness is a property of what? Mind? And not matter? That would make you a dualist.
    But if you say consciousness is a property of matter I would answer that matter is not into consciousness, and repeat that it can at best only create the illusion of consciousness.

  9. 9
    William J Murray says:

    Kantian Naturalist makes arguments as if logic was something other than how molecules happen to interact in individual humans; as if those he/she was speaking to had some locus of arbitration not entirely dependent upon causal molecular interaction (which would make KN’s words the functional equivalent of, say, pepperoni pizza in the digestive tract or the scent of pine in the air); and as if that locus of arbitration has the capacity to override causal molecular interactions and compare them against something objective.

    KN makes vague appeals that perhaps naturalism doesn’t reduce to billion-year chains of causal happenstance. KN wishes to hide from the first principle necessities required by the assumptions that underlie every reason-based argument by waving his/her hands and wishing.

    IOW, KN makes arguments the same way everyone does – rooted in the assumption that people have libertarian (uncaused) free will capacity to arbit true statements from false by using an objectively valid method – logic. How does a naturalist make the case that logic – a system of thought – is “natural”? How is truth – a concept – a real phenomena under naturalism, when without objective truth all arguments are simply gussied-up rhetoric?

    How far is one willing to stretch the term “naturalism” simply to avoid facing their non-cognitivisms? Perhaps their childhood perspective of god was too “weird” and they didn’t realize they were throwing out a very necessary baby with the bathwater.

    One either assumes logic arbits true statements from false, or one’s argument is essentially nothing but rhetoric. One either assumes humans have the free will capacity to override molecular-caused thoughts and beliefs via some non-caused intrinsic agency, or their argument can be nothing more than an attempt to physically coerce others into alternative thoughts, which they might as well attempt through drugs and torture, because it’s all the same molecular, physical, naturalistic causal basis.

  10. 10
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Box:

    So consciousness is a property of what? Mind? And not matter? That would make you a dualist.
    But if you say consciousness is a property of matter I would answer that matter is not into consciousness, and repeat that it can at best only create the illusion of consciousness.

    I would say that consciousness is a property of the whole living animal.

    William Murray, if you’re willing to take me seriously when I argue that your view rests on a false dichotomy, then we can talk. Otherwise, we’re better off ignoring each other.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    “if you’re willing to take me seriously”

    Got it? No smirking when you write Mr Murray! 🙂

  12. 12
    Box says:

    KN:”I would say that consciousness is a property of the whole living animal.”
    The ‘whole living animal’ consists of matter and matter alone?

  13. 13
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    The ‘whole living animal’ consists of matter and matter alone?

    Depends on what one means by “consists of”. Of course the living animal has physical properties, but it cannot be explained entirely in terms of physical properties.

    It should be clear enough, I would hope, that I’m committed to the existence of emergent properties. Now, if there’s an objection to emergent properties you’d like to put forth, I’m quite willing to hear it.

  14. 14
    William J Murray says:

    KN,

    Is consciousness (and thus thought and belief) caused? If so, by what (in general)?

  15. 15
    William J Murray says:

    KN,

    If a living animal cannot be explained entirely in terms of physical properties, what other properties must be used in such an explanation?

  16. 16
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    Though you make a distinction between the tendency to produce true beliefs and what you call “reliable” beliefs,” you leave the key word undefined. By my definition, a reliable belief is one that corresponds with reality, which would make it a true belief. In that context, our knowledge would be reliable, but it would not necessarily be perfect. If our knowledge, though imperfect, is not reliable, then any attempt at rational discourse would be impossible.

    Hyper-skepticism, naturalism, and Darwinism militate against reason precisely because they deny the conditions necessary for rational though. Either we are rational beings who can apprehend a knowable world or we are not. Taking it one step further,the reliability of any knowledge attained through human cultures, traditions, myths, and stories, stands or falls on the individual’s capacity to know and understand the world that is being duly described. We can fine tune our beliefs with new information through interaction with other selves and with our history, if and only if, the added input is, itself, reliable.
    Because we are rational creatures, we can make rational judgments about a given religion’s truth claims. For that matter, we can also make rational judgments about what people say about those religions. When you write, for example, that most world religions are orthopraxic rather than orthodox, you seem to miss a rather basic point. Any religion—at least any rational religion–is defined by its tenets, which is another way of saying that it is defined by its orthodoxy, not its orthopraxy. Yes, one could make the case that many ancient religions were defined by their rituals, but that is precisely the same thing as saying that they are not rational religions. A rational man shapes his behavior around his beliefs; an irrational man shapes his beliefs around his behavior.

    Accordingly, when you say that Christianity is “weird” compared to other religions, you seem to be straying pretty far afield from any semblance of a rational analysis. A transcendent Creator who both loves and judges his creatures makes a lot more sense than the pantheistic blob god or the deistic snob god. Indeed, many proponents of the Eastern religions celebrate their liberation from the demands of logic, often rationalizing their irrational contradictions under the aegis of “yin” and “yang.” And whatever one might say about the notion of losing one’s personal identity by “merging into being,” it certainly would not appeal to anyone who yearns for a meaningful existence beyond the grave.

    Again, you write, “Christianity is highly unusual in the emphasis it puts on intellectual endorsement of a set of propositions, and it’s a terrible idea to form any generalizations about religion based on Christianity alone.” This is a very odd statement since Christianity is the only religion that can survive rational scrutiny or even bothers to try. No other religion can boast of a founder who was foretold a thousand years before his birth, performed miracles, and rose from the dead. There is no such thing as Islamic or Buddhistic apologetics because advocates for those positions cannot provide a rational defense for their beliefs. And what can we say of the religion of Darwinism, which exists solely on the basis of an unexamined belief system with no evidence to support it.

    Further, you write, “The reason why it’s unusual, I believe, is because Christianity is not just a religion; it is a philosophical system, one that was shaped through philosophical conversation with rival schools in the ancient world.” Again, this is very odd. How can Christianity be weirdly different from the same religions, schools and philosophical conversations that allegedly formed its identity? In fact, the basic religious form of Christianity was shaped by its founder. It was not socially constructed through philosophical dialogue. If, as you suggest, a passage in the Book of Acts argues against that proposition, I would appreciate knowing which chapter and verse makes that argument.

    In any case, we return to the main theme of the post. Skepticism, naturalism, and Darwinism provide no basis for accepting any truth claim whatsoever, religious or otherwise.

  17. 17
    Box says:

    @KN About emergentism. I find the idea that when matter acquires a certain structure (let’s say the structure of a brain) a ‘real’ consciousness will emerge by a totally unknown process, rather unappealing.

  18. 18
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    William Murray:

    (1) a living animal, since it has mental properties as well as physical ones, must be explained in those terms. (I take it that a certain degree of flexibility and adaptivity in behavior will furnish a rough criterion for application of the term “mental properties”. Spiders might have mental properties of a very simplistic kind — not enough to keep me from squishing them if they get in my house, anyway. I’m not too sure what to say about jellyfish, though.)

    (2) I don’t know what it would mean to assert, or to deny, that consciousness has a cause. I’m not sure if the word “cause” applies here. In ordinary language, our beliefs or desires are causally related to various objects and events in the world, e.g. “smelling the chocolate caused me to remember my mother’s cooking”, etc. I don’t think we have a more refined vocabulary than that of ordinary language for talking about the causes of our beliefs and desires. (That’s my main objection to eliminative materialism.)

    StephenB, let’s acknowledge that you and I are engaged in fundamentally different projects. I’m not trying to show, or deny, that Christianity is the only rational religion. That claim has no interest for me. I find your considerations intriguing, but I think that I would have to already be a Christian in order to take them as you do. (The stained-glass windows look quite differently from inside and from outside, if you follow my metaphor.) I don’t think there’s any way into Christianity, from outside of it, through reason alone. Not only am I not a Christian, but I was not raised a Christian, nor is anyone in my entire family. We have never been Christian. So for me, Christianity is something I understand at an intellectual level, just as I understand Buddhism or Hinduism at an intellectual level. Of course there are certain kinds of experiences which lead one from being outside to being inside, but that’s just part of my point — some kind of fundamentally significant experience is required, not just the procedures of argument alone.

    On a particular point:

    It was not socially constructed through philosophical dialogue. If, as you suggest, a passage in the Book of Acts argues against that proposition, I would appreciate knowing which chapter and verse makes that argument.

    I know better than to get into a discussion about exegesis with you — I know you know Scripture far better than I do. However, I wasn’t making such an extravagant claim as you make me out to be — I was only claiming that much of Christian theology and metaphysics were formed through dialogue with other schools. Here I’m putting the pressure on theology and metaphysics, on which the Gospels are not terribly informative, though there’s an ethical message of the fundamental importance. As for my allusion to Acts, I had in mind Acts 17:16-34, where Paul talks with the Epicureans and Stoics. But I also would refer the interested reader to scholarship by Pierre Hadot and Karen Armstrong.

  19. 19
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Though you make a distinction between the tendency to produce true beliefs and what you call “reliable” beliefs,” you leave the key word undefined. By my definition, a reliable belief is one that corresponds with reality, which would make it a true belief. In that context, our knowledge would be reliable, but it would not necessarily be perfect. If our knowledge, though imperfect, is not reliable, then any attempt at rational discourse would be impossible.

    Fair enough, but let’s be clear, there are two different problems here:

    (1) how can we show that human cognition is (mostly) reliable, i.e. indicates how things are in the world?

    (2) how can we show that a satisfactory account of human cognition is consistent with Darwinism?

    It’s pretty clear that you and I agree on how to approach (1) and disagree vehemently on (2).

    Someone who denies that (1) can be done is a skeptic (of some sort). There are subtle varieties of skepticism, but since no one here is a skeptic, we can brush those aside. The point is, we are not skeptics; neither of us has any doubt (any real doubt) that our thoughts are at least sometimes in touch with how things really are.

    On, then to (2). Here you said, “a reliable belief is one that corresponds with reality, which would make it a true belief.” Yes, but I’m not talking just about reliable beliefs; in the case of non-human animals (let’s say, badgers), I’m not at all sure that we can talk about beliefs at all. There is something going on in the badger’s mind — but what? There is an “opacity,” I like to say, to the content of an animal’s mind — even when we’re sure that there is any content at all! But certainly the badger has reliable cognitive capacities: it’s behavior instantiates a map of its relation to its environment in accordance with its biological needs and interests.

    So, whether or not a badger has beliefs, it certainly has reliable cognitive capacities. Take another example: spiders. I very much doubt that spiders have any beliefs or desires at all, and thinking otherwise welcomes a charming (but philosophically unlovely) anthropomorphism. (Still not sure about badgers, though!). But here too, it seems hard to deny that spiders have reliable cognitive capacities.

    I think there are extremely strong reasons to believe that, in those animals that have beliefs at all, those beliefs will be necessarily connected to reliable cognitive capacities, but it isn’t one of identity, because all sorts of animals can have reliable cognitive capacities without having any beliefs at all that we can make any sense of.

    And what sorts of animals are those, that have beliefs at all? Just the rational animals, which certainly includes us, and might include some other apes and the cetaceans. Indeed, I take it to be true (indeed, a necessary truth) that “a normal mature human being is a rational animal”. I doubt you’d disagree, given your proximity to Thomism.

    I’m fighting a battle on multiple fronts, which is fine by me. On the one hand, I’m fighting against the Epicureans (who have taken over popular expositions of Darwinism, much to my lament) to defend Aristotelian insights, and so to that extent I’m allies with many of the folks here. On the other hand, I fighting against those who insist that the Aristotelian insights receive their best and finest expression only within Thomism. I’m an Aristotelian, but not a Thomist (or Maimonidean or Averroist). I’m a Darwinian Aristotelian, following in the footsteps of Dewey, though I take Kant more seriously than Dewey himself did. If one can be a Kantian pragmatic naturalist, then that’s what I am.

  20. 20
    Barry Arrington says:

    KN: “It should be clear enough, I would hope, that I’m committed to the existence of emergent properties.”

    The concept of emergence is, as I have written previously, materialist “poofery.”

    See: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-poofery/

    Of, if you prefer, emergence is a confession of ignorance disguised (poorly) as an explanation.

  21. 21
    William J Murray says:

    KN:

    1) Did consciousness originate from non-conscious matter?

    2) Can the mental properties of an organism survive physical annihilation?

  22. 22
    Bruce David says:

    KN:

    I don’t think there’s any way into Christianity, from outside of it, through reason alone.

    I couldn’t agree more. The fundamental characteristic of rational thought, as every mathematician knows, is that any valid inference, when traced all the way back to its beginning, necessarily rests on propositions accepted as true without proof, ie, axioms. So Christians like Stephen who claim to derive Christianity from reason will have based their reasoning, to the extent that it consists of valid inferences at all, on assumptions accepted as true a priori—assumptions with which non-Christians are unlikely to agree.

    That said, I must also say that I agree with Barry that the notion of “emergent properties” in this context (mind emerging from brain) is mere hand waving. The naturalist starts from the assumption that all there is is matter. However, he cannot deny the existence and reality of mental, sensory, and emotional experience (qualia), which demands explanation. So he calls these “epiphenomena” or “emergent properties”. But unless you can give some specific explanation—or at the very least an hypothesis—of how such phenomena, so fundamentally different from matter, could “emerge”, you really have no explanation at all.

    It was this realization that first opened me to the possibility of the existence of God (although not the Christian version!), and started me on the path from out and out materialist to where I am now—what you might call a New Age Idealist. (The philosopher I most resonate with is Berkeley.)

    Stephen:

    A transcendent Creator who both loves and judges his creatures makes a lot more sense than the pantheistic blob god or the deistic snob god.

    On the contrary, it makes no sense at all. I know from direct experience that it is impossible to love and judge (meaning censure or condemn as morally bad, wrong, or evil) simultaneously (one of my axioms). Love precludes judgment, and vice versa. Hence, God, whose love is perfect (another axiom), can no more judge than He can make a square circle.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t think there’s any way into Christianity, from outside of it, through reason alone. Not only am I not a Christian, but I was not raised a Christian, nor is anyone in my entire family. We have never been Christian. So for me, Christianity is something I understand at an intellectual level, just as I understand Buddhism or Hinduism at an intellectual level.

    Yes, I understand. One cannot know God by simply studying what philosophers or theologians say about him. On the other hand, one can live his life in such a way that he is open to the prospect, which would be ruled out by atheism or materialism or naturalism.

    I was only claiming that much of Christian theology and metaphysics were formed through dialogue with other schools. Here I’m putting the pressure on theology and metaphysics, on which the Gospels are not terribly informative, though there’s an ethical message of the fundamental importance

    In this case, the role of philosophy was, among other things, to build a rational bridge between faith and reason, to test (and ultimately confirm) truths that transcend philosophy, and to clarify implicit Scriptural truths which had not yet been made explicit.
    So, in that sense, yes, philosophical/theological dialogue helped to provide a deeper understanding of the Gospel message and to apply unchanging theological truths to ever-changing historical problems. It did not, however, shape the Gospel message itself. Obviously, this makes philosophy a very important enterprise.

    The point is, we are not skeptics; neither of us has any doubt (any real doubt) that our thoughts are at least sometimes in touch with how things really are.

    I was under the impression that, as a “Kantian,” you subscribe to Kant’s departure from the correspondence theory of truth and the event that prompted it, namely Hume’s doubts about causality. Otherwise, why would you not accept the rational proofs for the existence of God?

    There is something going on in the badger’s mind — but what? There is an “opacity,” I like to say, to the content of an animal’s mind — even when we’re sure that there is any content at all! But certainly the badger has reliable cognitive capacities: it’s behavior instantiates a map of its relation to its environment in accordance with its biological needs and interests.

    I am not clear how the materialist Darwinian process could be responsible for even this modest form of animal recognition, let alone provide for human cognition, which consists of self–reflection, moral awareness, and rational thought. How can matter reflect on itself? How can matter get concepts under its own belt?

    Let’s press the point. How can a person made solely of matter–who is instantiated in a material universe, and is, therefore, a slave to the laws of matter–resist matter’s impulses by exercising self-control? How does any creature recognize the map unless two realms exist, the realm of recognizers and the realm of things that are recognized, the realm of the mental map and the realm of the territory (hylermorphic [not Cartesian] dualism). Darwinism allows for only one realm. It is monistic, is it not?

    Indeed, I take it to be true (indeed, a necessary truth) that “a normal mature human being is a rational animal”. I doubt you’d disagree, given your proximity to Thomism.

    Well, we must define our terms here. A human’s rational soul (if you will forgive the terminology) is substantially different from an animal’s soul, which is not rational in the same sense [no self reflection, no moral sensibilities, no critical thinking].

    On the one hand, I’m fighting against the Epicureans (who have taken over popular expositions of Darwinism, much to my lament) to defend Aristotelian insights, and so to that extent I’m allies with many of the folks here. On the other hand, I fighting against those who insist that the Aristotelian insights receive their best and finest expression only within Thomism. I’m an Aristotelian, but not a Thomist (or Maimonidean or Averroist). I’m a Darwinian Aristotelian, following in the footsteps of Dewey, though I take Kant more seriously than Dewey himself did. If one can be a Kantian pragmatic naturalist, then that’s what I am.

    I appreciate the clarification. However, I am not clear on how you reconcile Aristotle’s purposeful teleology, which knows where it is going, with Darwin’s purposeless and radically contingent non-teleology, which doesn’t know where it is going.

  24. 24
    JDH says:

    And so KN – I come from a different perspective. A man who is as more sure of the truth of Christianity than any thing else in the world – but is also a scientist – Ph.D in physics and current work in computer science.

    I don’t care for hand waving arguments. Have never liked them – whether it be some of the foolish arguments that some of my brethren take for convincing apologetics or the ones that NeoDarwinists swallow whole because they need to believe in the improbable to overrule the obvious reality of the supernatural.

    So I am not here to try and dazzle you with some new insight that you have not heard or seen. As long as your heart demands your freedom from God, you will find an intellectual escape to allow you to deny the obvious. As has been already well said, “…The fool hath said in his heart, no God…” I will make my argument as quantitative as I can. You may still argue that I am hand-waving, but alas, I have no fool proof arguments.

    But I ask you to consider something fairly quantitative in nature. Please bear with me for the route to the conclusion will be a little wordy.

    I know from observing badgers and spiders and what the heck dogs ( which I own ) that animals are quite able to project into the future. Allow my dog to chase me around the house, and he will from experience remember that going around the house means going around the house. He will stop chasing and wait for my circuitous route to meet up with him again. Quite a miraculous mental feat. He will predict by drawing from past experience that if I am headed around the house, he does not need to chase, but can stop and I will come to him.

    The trick is that he is only responding to real memories in real space. It is not surprising for his brain or ours to be able to make these simple immediate decisions.

    What he can’t do is project these things to an abstract time. Animals can’t do it as far as I know. I just can’t explain to my dog that I am not going to feed him now, but will feed him in 2 hours, or 3 hours. In fact nothing I have read about any animal study makes me believe that any animal can project forward in abstract time.

    And why should we think it possible. Nerves, hormones, brains, muscles, can be trained to respond to real stimuli and even respond to circadian cycles – but to project that stimuli into the future world of arbitrary abstract time – how could a mere animal powered only by his experience recorded in nerve cells do that. You would need an infinite amount of circuits tuned to the multitude of possible delays.

    However, any sentient, normal human being can be asked to “raise your right hand in exactly X seconds” and he will respond correctly when the time comes. The raising of the hand after a precise time interval, is most probably not the response to the vibrations in the air of the command. I can say this because the human could not possibly have enough circuits pre-programmed to fit any delay requested. It makes no sense whatsoever to believe that the right amount of delay in raising the hand has any natural cause, because the quantity of nerve pathways needed would absorb all the cells in his body just for this one action.

    Rather than believe that the body has all kinds of delay circuitry for just such a situation, it is much more sane and logical to believe that two free will decisions have been made.

    1. I have been asked to raise my hand in X seconds, so I will look around for some timepiece or count as best I can, and tie the willful raising of my hand to that tick of X seconds.
    2. When that event which signifies the best estimate of the tick of X seconds occurs I willfully raise my hand.

    This is a rather simple example. Please explain it from a naturalist perspective. I don’t see how you can.

  25. 25
    StephenB says:

    Correction: “How does any creature recognize the [territory] unless two realms exist, the realm of recognizers and the realm of things that are recognized, the realm of the mental map and the realm of the territory (hylermorphic [not Cartesian] dualism). Darwinism allows for only one realm. It is monistic, is it not?

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    BD states:

    “God, whose love is perfect (another axiom), can no more judge than He can make a square circle.”

    And yet in extremely deep Near Death Experiences it is exactly by God’s perfect love that judgement is made to every minute detail of a persons life in the life review to see if that person’s life lived up to that perfect standard:

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

    and To connect Near Death Experiences specifically to Christianity let’s look at the Shroud:

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

    Kevin Moran, a scientist working on the mysterious ‘3D’ nature of the Shroud image, states the ‘supernatural’ explanation this way:

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    http://www.shroudstory.com/natural.htm

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image on the Shroud I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before.

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffery Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

    All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’, while having a deep NDE, have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    God’s crowning achievement for this universe was not when He created this universe. God’s crowning achievement for this universe was when He Himself inhabited the human body He had purposely created the whole universe for, to sanctify human beings unto Himself through the death and resurrection of his “Son” Jesus Christ. This is truly something which should fill one who with awe.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    “Since we, God’s children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”

    John 15:13
    Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    footnote: cultures which believe in reincarnation have the most horrendous NDE testimonies that I’ve seen:

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    KN holds to ’emergence’ to ‘explain away’ consciousness which I find to be a weasel word, or ‘materialist poofery’ as Mr Arrington put it. But the plain fact of the matter is that, as with the ‘self-organization’ model which KN invokes to ‘explain away’ the functional information we see in life, KN, no matter what he may prefer to believe, has ZERO evidence that consciousness is emergent from, or even concurrent with, a material basis.

    The Science of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander – Nov. 18, 2012
    Can consciousness exist when the body fails? One neurosurgeon says he has seen it firsthand—and takes on critics who vehemently disagree.
    Excerpt: Many scientists who study consciousness would agree with me that, in fact, the hard problem of consciousness is probably the one question facing modern science that is arguably forever beyond our knowing, at least in terms of a physicalist model of how the brain might create consciousness. In fact, they would agree that the problem is so profound that we don’t even know how to phrase a scientific question addressing it. But if we must decide which produces which, modern physics is pushing us in precisely the opposite direction, suggesting that it is consciousness that is primary and matter secondary.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....eaven.html

    Yet on the other hand, the Theist is now able to make a very compelling case from empirical evidence that his position, that consciousness precedes material reality, is in fact true.

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.
    Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/27640

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.

    Preceding quote taken from this following video;

    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)
    http://vimeo.com/37517080

    The following recent experiment is also impressive to validating the Theistic position:

    Here’s a recent variation of Wheeler’s Delayed Choice experiment, which highlights the ability of the conscious observer to effect ‘spooky action into the past’, thus further solidifying consciousness’s centrality in reality. Furthermore in the following experiment, the claim that past/present material states determine conscious choices (determinism) is falsified by the fact that present conscious choices are effecting past material states:

    Quantum physics mimics spooky action into the past – April 23, 2012
    Excerpt: The authors experimentally realized a “Gedankenexperiment” called “delayed-choice entanglement swapping”, formulated by Asher Peres in the year 2000. Two pairs of entangled photons are produced, and one photon from each pair is sent to a party called Victor. Of the two remaining photons, one photon is sent to the party Alice and one is sent to the party Bob. Victor can now choose between two kinds of measurements. If he decides to measure his two photons in a way such that they are forced to be in an entangled state, then also Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair becomes entangled. If Victor chooses to measure his particles individually, Alice’s and Bob’s photon pair ends up in a separable state. Modern quantum optics technology allowed the team to delay Victor’s choice and measurement with respect to the measurements which Alice and Bob perform on their photons. “We found that whether Alice’s and Bob’s photons are entangled and show quantum correlations or are separable and show classical correlations can be decided after they have been measured”, explains Xiao-song Ma, lead author of the study.
    According to the famous words of Albert Einstein, the effects of quantum entanglement appear as “spooky action at a distance”. The recent experiment has gone one remarkable step further. “Within a naïve classical world view, quantum mechanics can even mimic an influence of future actions on past events”, says Anton Zeilinger.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-04-q.....ction.html

    In other words, if my conscious choices really are just merely the result of whatever state the material particles in my brain happen to be in (deterministic) how in blue blazes are my choices instantaneously effecting the state of material particles into the past?,,, I consider the preceding experimental evidence to be a ‘quantum leap’ improvement over the traditional ‘uncertainty’ arguments for free will, from quantum mechanics, that had been used to in the past to undermine the deterministic belief of materialists:

    Why Quantum Physics (Uncertainty) Ends the Free Will Debate – Michio Kaku – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFLR5vNKiSw

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    KN you astutely observe:

    “Of course there are certain kinds of experiences which lead one from being outside to being inside, but that’s just part of my point — some kind of fundamentally significant experience is required, not just the procedures of argument alone.”

    KN, it seems you have a leg up on Nicodemus:

    John 3
    Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. ” “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things?

    Music:

    ‘SNL’ Opens With ‘Silent Night’ in Honor of Shooting Victims
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CTbhVlHuONo

  30. 30
    Box says:

    @Barry Arrington.
    Allow me to quote you from http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-poofery/

    BA:”And what evidence do we have that “emergence” is a real phenomenon? Absolutely none. Emergence is materialist poofery. Take the mind-brain problem again. The materialist knows that his claim that the mind does not exist is patently absurd. Yet, given his premises it simply cannot exist. So what is a materialist to do? Easy. Poof – the mind is an emergent property of the brain system that otherwise cannot be accounted for on materialist grounds.”

    I could not agree more. ‘Materialist poofery’, very well put.

  31. 31
    Box says:

    Barry Arrington: “Consider the hard problem of consciousness. We all believe we are conscious, and consciousness must be accounted for. For the ID theorists, this is easy. The mind is a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain.”

    This is informative to me, because I assumed that ID theory holds a materialistic view on human beings and life. So I was wrong in assuming that, according to ID theory, ‘the designer’ created ‘living’ machines which consist of just matter? Does ID theory include dualism?

  32. 32
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    And yet in extremely deep Near Death Experiences it is exactly by God’s perfect love that judgement is made to every minute detail of a persons life in the life review to see if that person’s life lived up to that perfect standard:

    Well I watched the video you linked to, and there was no judgment in it whatsoever. Quite the opposite, in fact. The participants reported being “totally accepted” and “completely forgiven”. The only judgment any of them reported was one woman’s question of whether she could forgive herself.

    The notion that the life reviews people discussed towards the end of the video include judgment in the sense that I defined it in #22—“meaning [to] censure or condemn as morally bad, wrong, or evil”—is something you added to their experiences, not what they reported.

    In fact, the video is a strong confirmation of my point—love and judgment are incompatible. Where there is perfect love, there is no judgment.

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    Does ID theory include dualism?

    ID theory cannot not address that philosophical question because it is limited to scientific methodology. The process of drawing inferences from data cannot, on its own, provide the kind of information that would settle the question of monism vs. dualism. However, an ID theorist, or anyone else who is capable of philosophical reasoning, should be able to recognize that two realms are a metaphysical requirement for creative design.

    Through philosophical reasoning, we can conclude that nature’s regularity, expressed as the physical laws that direct matter’s activity, are rigid and, therefore, incapable of creating a novel design; they just do what they do and nothing else. Accordingly, design cannot come from the physical realm of from physical laws, which means that another realm (spirit) is required.

  34. 34
    bornagain77 says:

    Well BD, as usual I disagree with you. The standard by which their actions were compared was the perfect love of God. And even though they felt perfectly accepted in their ‘complete nakedness’ before God (and not judged in a condemning way by God, which is a point we agree on), none-the-less when their actions in their life review were seen as selfish, greedy, and/or unloving, they knew for a 100% fact that they had failed to live up to that perfect standard of love. Thus judgement of a person’s actions in life, every minute detail of that life, was measured to a perfect standard. As to you saying that it is ‘self-judgement’ and not really judgement from God, well that particular caveat you are trying to make is in the Bible as well,,

    Matthew 12
    Moreover, I tell you this: on the Day of Judgment people will have to give account for every careless word they have spoken; for by your own words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned.”

    Matthew 12:36
    But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

    Matthew 15:11
    “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.”

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    sorry for the double post on scripture:

    Music:

    Third Day – Trust In Jesus
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BtaCeJYqZA

  36. 36
    Upright BiPed says:

    Hi Box,

    In thinking about dualism vs monism, or inexorable law vs material freedom, it should not go un-noticed that the organizational constraint on matter which results in living things is based (not on law but) on materially-arbitrary relationships.

  37. 37
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    There are a few topics up and running here. The main one, the problem of emergent properties, is one I’ll have to return to later on in the day after I’ve figured out how to explain what I mean.

    In re:; StephenB @ 23

    I was under the impression that, as a “Kantian,” you subscribe to Kant’s departure from the correspondence theory of truth and the event that prompted it, namely Hume’s doubts about causality. Otherwise, why would you not accept the rational proofs for the existence of God?

    I don’t accept that things-in-themselves are unknowable to us. On my reading of Kant, this idea — that things-in-themselves are unknowable to us — is established on the grounds that space and time are only forms of sensible intuition. That is, space and time are just part of how we experience the world (including ourselves as part of that world). I don’t accept the ‘ideality’ of space and time, nor the transcendental idealism that Kant builds on top of it. I’m a realist of some sort.

    But, I’m close to Kant in a number of points. Firstly, and most importantly, I share Kant’s emphasis on normativity: that we are count as thinkers and agents only insofar as we are subject to norms of correct thought and action. Secondly, I think Kant is right in claiming that there are a priori concepts — concepts that we must have in order to form any judgments at all. Thirdly, I also share with Kant the idea that all concepts acquire meaning and sense only with regards to experience. I think that Kant was right to insist that logic alone cannot establish the existence of anything. But the argument as to why concepts only make sense when applied to objects of experience is separate from the argument for the ideality of space and time, and on my reading, it is the latter which grounds the rejection of noumenal knowledge.

    How does any creature recognize the [territory] unless two realms exist, the realm of recognizers and the realm of things that are recognized, the realm of the mental map and the realm of the territory (hylermorphic [not Cartesian] dualism). Darwinism allows for only one realm. It is monistic, is it not?

    I like this question a lot. Materialism is monistic, in the sense you mean here, and so the very distinction between the map and the territory can’t really get off the ground. And that is a serious problem with materialism. But, to go back to something I’ve been stressing earlier, that objection helps show a deeper problem with materialism, namely that it utterly lacks any concept of life. For while a matter-in-motion ontology can’t capture what we’re getting at here, the map-territory relation, we can capture the map-territory relation once we think about life in terms of the interactive relationship between organisms and their environments.

    I am not clear how the materialist Darwinian process could be responsible for even this modest form of animal recognition, let alone provide for human cognition, which consists of self–reflection, moral awareness, and rational thought. How can matter reflect on itself? How can matter get concepts under its own belt?

    My response here is to drop “matter” out of the equation entirely, so to speak. Once we put the correct emphasis on the interactive organism-environment relationship, we can see that organisms of a sufficient complexity will not only instantiate maps of their environments, but also instantiate maps of their own relationships with those environments. Some of these maps can quite simple, such as the way a cat stalking a bird displays pure positional awareness of its own bodily orientations with respect to its prey. In the case of a being with language, and the recursive structures of thought made possible by grammar, the forms of self-awareness are much more complicated.

    However, I am not clear on how you reconcile Aristotle’s purposeful teleology, which knows where it is going, with Darwin’s purposeless and radically contingent non-teleology, which doesn’t know where it is going.

    Because there is teleology at the level of the organism itself, operating from within the organism, it’s being-at-work (energeia, even if there’s no teleology external to the process that produced the organism. We can call these “immanent teleology” and “transcendent teleology,” respectively. Aristotle, of course, believed in both. But there is a distinction here worth making — indeed, a distinction first made by Kant, in the Critique of the Power of Judgment.

    This distinction of the utmost importance for me, because it allows me to distance myself from materialism. A materialist is someone who reasons, “since Darwinism dispenses with transcendent teleology, there’s no need for any teleology at all, so it’s all just atoms and the void.” Whereas this Kantian distinction allows me to be a realist about teleology at the level of organisms, a realist about immanent teleology, without having to endorse transcendent teleology.

    So the question here is, can immanent teleology be so neatly severed from transcendent teleology? This is where Aristotelians rightly want to push on my view. But I think it can be, and here’s why: immanent teleology is, basically, a descriptive claim. We do, in fact, experience other living things as displaying purposive behavior, pursuing goals, centers of their own agency. That’s how we experience them, so immanent teleology just describes our experience. But transcendent teleology is not descriptive; it’s explanatory. It’s a theory which explains how it came about that there are purposive beings, centers of agency, and so on — so the two kinds of teleology are actually quite different kinds of assertions, descriptive and explanatory.

  38. 38
    William J Murray says:

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to have a debate with a materialist (or a “naturalist”) without becoming mired in sophistry.

    If “teleology” is only a “description”, the only “distance” you’ve put between yourself and materialism is measured in willful self-deception. If I describe what a computer does as “free will”, that doesn’t mean I’ve put any real distance between myself and determinists.

  39. 39
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Well BD, as usual I disagree with you. The standard by which their actions were compared was the perfect love of God. And even though they felt perfectly accepted in their ‘complete nakedness’ before God (and not judged in a condemning way by God, which is a point we agree on), none-the-less when their actions in their life review were seen as selfish, greedy, and/or unloving, they knew for a 100% fact that they had failed to live up to that perfect standard of love.

    There is nothing in this paragraph I would disagree with. Have I not been saying for years on this blog that the way to live in harmony with one’s essential nature (the image and likeness of God) is to live in the question, “What would Love do now?”? In one’s life review after a given lifetime, one can evaluate exactly how well one accomplished this goal, which will be useful information for one’s next incarnation.

    The point is that perfect love does not judge “in a condemning way” (your words). I have been at great pains in these discussions to make clear that when I was using the word judgment, I was using it in its meaning of censure and moral condemnation. By that meaning, love and judgment are incompatible.

    Notice, however, that your paragraph above is at odds with the idea that God will judge us and send those that He condemns to an eternal Hell. Perfect love (that does not judge “in a condemning way”) would not do such a thing.

  40. 40
    allanius says:

    “On the contrary, it makes no sense at all. I know from direct experience that it is impossible to love and judge (meaning censure or condemn as morally bad, wrong, or evil) simultaneously (one of my axioms). Love precludes judgment, and vice versa. Hence, God, whose love is perfect (another axiom), can no more judge than He can make a square circle.”

    _________

    Hmmm. The standard of value in the Bible is not love, as this statement seems to suggest, nor is it intellect, as the Greeks believed. It is life, through which we see that there are actually two kinds of “love.” There is the love that builds up life, as seen on the cross, and there is vanity, which leads to death and destruction. You are correct that men cannot both love and judge. This is because men themselves are under judgment–they are mortal. Jesus says, “Do not judge, or you also will be judged.” But God can both love and judge because God is holy by the standard of life. God upholds the value of life when he judges. “God is love,” true, but God judges the vanity and selfishness of men.

  41. 41
    Mung says:

    Speaking of Naturalist Conundrums, everyone ought to read this article over at ENV:

    Assessing the “Algorithmic Origin of Life”

  42. 42
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    ‘which will be useful information for one’s next incarnation.’

    I remind you, once again, that the cultures which root your reincarnation beliefs have the most horrendous, hellish, NDE’s

    as to

    “does not judge “in a condemning way””

    and again if you want to see that type of ‘condemning judgement’ go to eastern pantheistic NDE’s, with reincarnation beliefs, where even the most trivial of ‘sins’ is severely judged “in a condemning way”

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    it is also of note that the worst enemies of Jesus, during His incarnation, were the so called ‘religious’ leaders who specialized in condemning people for the most trivial of sins:

    Matthew 24
    “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
    25“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
    27“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
    29“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!
    33“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?

    BD you also say:

    “Notice, however, that your paragraph above is at odds with the idea that God will judge us and send those that He condemns to an eternal Hell.”

    No it’s not for,,,

    “by your own words you will be acquitted, and by your own words you will be condemned.”

    and,,

    Romans 10:9
    That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

    and,,

    Matthew 10:32-33
    “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.
    But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

    Thus there is no inconsistency!

    Moreover I remind you that are a minority of hellish NDE’s in Judeo-Christian cultures,,, The following of a (former) atheist academic is quite interesting:

    video – Hear Howard Storm’s moving firsthand account of his (Near Death) experience in Hell during a brush with death in Paris, France.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....KzJ2YYsE30

    video – Howard Storm continues to share his gripping story of his own near death experience. Today, he picks up just as Jesus was rescuing him from the horrors of Hell and carrying him into the glories of Heaven.
    http://www.daystar.com/ondeman.....Ku3HIYsE30

    BD, it seems to me that you have a very good grasp on some of the fundamentals of the perfect love of God, but it also seems to me that you, in your rightful disdain for the judgmental nature of many Christians, that you have thrown a very necessary baby (Christ atoning “perfect love” sacrifice) out with the very bad bathwater (condemning judgement) of religiosity.

    Music:

    Citizen Way – Should’ve Been Me – Acoustic Performance – Music Videos
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0JB90FNU

  43. 43
    bornagain77 says:

    correction: “I remind you that THERE are a minority,,,”

  44. 44
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    If “teleology” is only a “description”, the only “distance” you’ve put between yourself and materialism is measured in willful self-deception. If I describe what a computer does as “free will”, that doesn’t mean I’ve put any real distance between myself and determinists.

    But I don’t think we’re free to arbitrarily decide how to describe our experience. I think, on the contrary, that if carefully attend to what it is that we’re experiencing, as we experience it, and put aside (as far as possible) our prejudices, presuppositions, assumptions, and fantasies, then certain features of our experience will stand out as self-evidently true.

    And I think that the immanent teleology of living creatures, that sense of living things as centers of agency in their own right, comes to the fore. One can see this expressed with remarkable clarity in the work of nature writers like Gary Snyder or Aldo Leopold.

    I think that denying this fact of our lived experience — our lived experience of them as living experiencers themselves — is only possible if one is the grip of a powerful metaphysical doctrine which prevents one from acknowledging one’s own experience. And that’s what Epicurean materialism does.

  45. 45
    Mung says:

    Hi KN,

    I’m interested in exploring further the concepts of immanent and transcendent teleology.

    Do you conceive of organisms as exhibiting immanent teleology because they pursue their own ends?

    Whereas transcendent teleology is when some thing exists to serve the ends of something else?

    What would convince you that three is immanent teleology in non-living things or transcendent teleology in living things?

    Would you agree that for the Aristotelian, both immanent and transcendent teleology are explanatory? Do you think this is where they go wrong some how?

    thanks

  46. 46
    Box says:

    Stephen B: “Accordingly, design cannot come from the physical realm of from physical laws, which means that another realm (spirit) is required.”
    – What can ID tell us about human consciousness? Is it just matter? Or is ‘the mind a real phenomenon that cannot be reduced to the properties of the brain’, like B. Arrington stated?

    Upright Biped: “In thinking about dualism vs monism, or inexorable law vs material freedom, it should not go un-noticed that the organizational constraint on matter which results in living things is based (not on law but) on materially-arbitrary relationships.”
    S.L. Talbott: “[T]he question, rather, is why things don’t fall completely apart — as they do, in fact, at the moment of death. What power holds off that moment — precisely for a lifetime, and not a moment longer?” http://www.thenewatlantis.com/.....-of-beings

  47. 47
    Alan Fox says:

    Easy question for Kantian Naturalist while he’s considering the challenging ones;

    What would you consider the antonym to “naturalism”?

  48. 48
    Mung says:

    What would you consider the antonym to “naturalism”?

    Chaos.

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t accept that things-in-themselves are unknowable to us. On my reading of Kant, this idea — that things-in-themselves are unknowable to us — is established on the grounds that space and time are only forms of sensible intuition. That is, space and time are just part of how we experience the world (including ourselves as part of that world). I don’t accept the ‘ideality’ of space and time, nor the transcendental idealism that Kant builds on top of it. I’m a realist of some sort.

    Thank you for that articulate clarification and for a straight answer to a straight question. If I read you correctly, you acknowledge noumenmal knowledge at some level.

    I think that Kant was right to insist that logic alone cannot establish the existence of anything.

    Yes, and this indirectly takes us to the question of causality. Do you accept the metaphysical connection between every cause and its effect, or do you share Hume’s doubts? My purpose for asking the question is to more fully understand your reasons for rejecting the rational proofs for God’s existence.

    [How does any creature recognize the [territory] unless two realms exist, the realm of recognizers and the realm of things that are recognized, the realm of the mental map and the realm of the territory (hylermorphic [not Cartesian] dualism). Darwinism allows for only one realm. It is monistic, is it not?]

    I like this question a lot. Materialism is monistic, in the sense you mean here, and so the very distinction between the map and the territory can’t really get off the ground. And that is a serious problem with materialism.

    OK. All I can ask is that you reflect on this point and clearly you are doing that.

    For while a matter-in-motion ontology can’t capture what we’re getting at here, the map-territory relation, we can capture the map-territory relation once we think about life in terms of the interactive relationship between organisms and their environments.

    Once again, your comment calls attention to what, for me, is the central question: How can monism (materialistic or naturalistic) explain both the realm of the recognizer and the realm of the thing being recognized. Since the environment is physical and since the organisms that interact with it are also physical, both exist in the realm of the thing being recognized. How do we account for the role of the recognizer. Isn’t the answer to transcend monism and assign it to another realm of existence, namely the realm of spirit?

    Once we put the correct emphasis on the interactive organism-environment relationship, we can see that organisms of a sufficient complexity will not only instantiate maps of their environments, but also instantiate maps of their own relationships with those environments. Some of these maps can quite simple, such as the way a cat stalking a bird displays pure positional awareness of its own bodily orientations with respect to its prey. In the case of a being with language, and the recursive structures of thought made possible by grammar, the forms of self-awareness are much more complicated.

    I am not clear on how the interactive process alone can produce the map, which requires some level of consciousness. I can understand how such a dynamic could effect change in terms of degree, but I don’t understand how it could effect change in terms of kind, that is, the change from a territory to a map or from the potential object of recognition to the conscious awareness of the recognizer.

    [How can Darwinian evolution be reconciled with Arisotle’s teleology]

    Because there is teleology at the level of the organism itself, operating from within the organism, it’s being-at-work (energeia, even if there’s no teleology external to the process that produced the organism. We can call these “immanent teleology” and “transcendent teleology,” respectively. Aristotle, of course, believed in both.

    Yes, I am familiar with the crucial difference between intrinsic and extrinsic teleology. Note, though, that Darwinism rejects both internal and external teleology; it is not an end-directed process. With no goals, purposes, or ends, it proceeds aimlessly toward an unspecified end. It has no teleology. This is why I would argue that Darwin cannot be reconciled with Aristotle.

    A materialist is someone who reasons, “since Darwinism dispenses with transcendent teleology, there’s no need for any teleology at all, so it’s all just atoms and the void.”

    Yes, that seems like an apt description.

    Whereas this Kantian distinction allows me to be a realist about teleology at the level of organisms, a realist about immanent teleology, without having to endorse transcendent teleology.

    Even Aristotle by himself will be enough to justify an argument for internal teleology. No appeal to Kant is necessary. However, I can think of no way to make teleological Darwinism compatible with non-teleological Darwinism.

    ….immanent teleology is, basically, a descriptive claim. …. But transcendent teleology is not descriptive; it’s explanatory.

    A process is teleological (either intrinsically or extrinsically) if it is for the sake of, or proceeds toward an end of some kind. It is not a mere description in either case. It answers the question, “for the sake of what is this thing (being) doing what it is doing?” If it is for the sake of the being itself, it is intrinsic; if it is for the sake of a being outside of itself, it is extrinsic. So, we cannot hold to the position that external finality is explanatory and that internal finality is descriptive.

  50. 50
    Bruce David says:

    BA: re #42:

    I would remind you that I am no more a Buddhist than I am a Christian. To lump my beliefs together with those of Eastern religions simply because we share a belief in reincarnation makes no more sense than were I to call you a Muslim because you believe in one God.

    I am not a religious man, but I am a spiritual one. I form my beliefs by drawing from the wealth of competing and contradictory claimants to truth that which to me has “the ring of truth”, which resonates with my own inner knowing. Reincarnation makes total sense to me. But from where I stand, the idea that God would create a Hell so contradicts the nature of God as to be utterly ridiculous.

  51. 51
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “the idea that God would create a Hell so contradicts the nature of God as to be utterly ridiculous.”

    BD, You can’t just cherry pick what you want to be true out of these NDE’s. The consistent pattern of hellish ones from pantheistic (reincarnation) cultures (which you use to claim to be a pantheist before you realized that word did not particularly have ‘the ring of truth’ any longer), must be accepted along with the consistent pattern of heavenly ones from Judeo-Christian cultures. Otherwise you are, once again, asking us to believe something simply because your ‘inner knowing’ tells you that it is so. I’m sorry BD, my eternal soul is far too valuable to trust to your ‘inner knowing’ that God simply would not allow people to go to hell, especially when many reliable NDE’s testify, with all sincerity as Howard storm did, to the contrary that they went there. No Sir, I put my trust in what Jesus did for me and am more than willing to go to the place He has prepared for me,,, if He is willing to accept such a wretch like me!

    Celtic Woman – Amazing Grace
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsCp5LG_zNE

  52. 52
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Mung @ 45,

    Yes, I do conceive of organisms as exhibiting immanent teleology because they pursue their own ends — that’s right. Whereas “transcendent teleology” is when the goal-directed process has the goals that it has because of something external to it.

    What would convince you that three is immanent teleology in non-living things or transcendent teleology in living things?

    I interpret the first clause as my coming to believe that Aristotle’s physics is superior to contemporary mathematical physics, and I really can’t imagine what would convince me of that.

    I interpret the second clause as my coming to believe that the unmoved mover of Aristotle or the world-spirit of the Stoics is a better explanation than whatever it is we’ve got now. I’ll admit that I can’t imagine what would convince me of that, either.

    The lesson to draw here is that I’m of limited imagination today. 🙂

    Would you agree that for the Aristotelian, both immanent and transcendent teleology are explanatory? Do you think this is where they go wrong some how?

    No, I think that immanent teleology functions descriptively, for Aristotle. This is why his descriptions of living things are so wonderful and precise, thousands of years after the fact. (I say that having read only parts of De Anima and none of On the Parts of Animals, so these are second-hand claims.) But I think that transcendent teleology — in Aristotle’s metaphysics, the way that the unmoved mover is the final cause of all final causes, so to speak — is explanatory.

    Where I think the mechanists, like Descartes and Spinoza and La Mettrie go wrong is in trying to do away with all teleological language altogether. I think that Leibniz is correct when he points out how problematic this is.

  53. 53
    William J Murray says:

    “Ring of truth” and “inner knowing” not subjected to rigorous logical examination is of no more value than whim and desire.

  54. 54
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    BD, You can’t just cherry pick what you want to be true out of these NDE’s. The consistent pattern of hellish ones from pantheistic (reincarnation) cultures (which you use to claim to be a pantheist before you realized that word did not particularly have ‘the ring of truth’ any longer), must be accepted along with the consistent pattern of heavenly ones from Judeo-Christian cultures.

    I don’t select what I want to be true and disregard the rest. I simply have a different explanation for the phenomenon than you do. I think that a person’s belief that they will go to Hell when they die can influence what they experience during an NDE. Most people in the West, whether they are religious, spiritual, or atheistic, do not believe that they will go to Hell, either because they don’t believe it exists, or because they believe that their religious faith “saves” them from that fate. Thus Westerners tend to be spared from a Hellish experience in an NDE.

    Notice by the way that this dichotomy is not universal. There is a small percentage of people in the West who experience unpleasant NDEs as well as a similar percentage in the East who do not.

    Notice also, that the Hell experienced by Eastern people in their NDEs is not a Christian Hell of eternal suffering. The time periods are generally of finite duration, and conform to the notion of Hell inherent in the religion to which they subscribe. It’s more like the Catholic notion of Purgatory than Hell.

    I’m sorry BD, my eternal soul is far too valuable to trust to your ‘inner knowing’ that God simply would not allow people to go to hell

    I would never ask you to trust my inner knowing. I present my understanding of the nature of reality for anyone interested to consider, that is all. Trust your own inner knowing. I will, however, point out the flaws in your logic when you attempt to prove that I am in error.

  55. 55
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB @ 49:

    Yes, I do accept noumenal knowledge at some level. But I don’t think that noumenal knowledge is possible by reason alone. My disagreement with Kant is about the ideality of space and time. If space and time are both real and forms of experience, then there’s no ‘veil’ or ‘wall’ between us and things-in-themselves. So on my picture, it’s not our concepts can somehow ‘leap over’ the veil of the sense, for there is no veil — it is our senses themselves that are fully immersed in how things really are, although only a tiny fraction of it.

    (One example I sometimes give my students when I’m teaching Dewey is that the limitations of our senses are better thought of as “the size of the aperture”, rather than the “thickness of the lens”. Unfortunately, this metaphor doesn’t always work because they have no idea how pre-digital cameras functioned.)

    How can monism (materialistic or naturalistic) explain both the realm of the recognizer and the realm of the thing being recognized. Since the environment is physical and since the organisms that interact with it are also physical, both exist in the realm of the thing being recognized. How do we account for the role of the recognizer. Isn’t the answer to transcend monism and assign it to another realm of existence, namely the realm of spirit? I am not clear on how the interactive process alone can produce the map, which requires some level of consciousness. I can understand how such a dynamic could effect change in terms of degree, but I don’t understand how it could effect change in terms of kind, that is, the change from a territory to a map or from the potential object of recognition to the conscious awareness of the recognizer.

    I don’t know if “cognition” or “recognition” in the sense I’m using here requires consciousness, in the sense of sentience, being awake (instead of being asleep). Spiders are certainly cognitive, but are they conscious? Maybe, but it seems funny to say so.

    One way of putting my thoughts here, about what it is for something to be an organism, is that organisms are — to use a colorful language — a fold in being. Not a different kind of being, or a hole in the fabric of being (as Sartre put it), but a place where being has been folded in upon itself and constitutes both itself and a new relation with what is exterior. The very genesis of inside and outside, self and not-self, takes place with this folding of being.

    At any rate, that’s how Merleau-Ponty puts it, in the ontology he develops towards the end of his life, and I think that complexity theory and autopoeisis theory are finally at a point where we can flesh out his abstract ontology with some empirical details.

  56. 56
    StephenB says:

    KN @59, my final comment should read, “However, I can think of no way to make teleological [Aristotelianism] compatible with non-teleological Darwinism.

  57. 57
    MrMosis says:

    (I had a long reply last night, but forgot to do the captcha and lost it. This is an attempted reconstruction and is probably now out of date and out of synch with the thread- sorry in advance!)
    KN:

    The paradigm of a supernatural being is a being that has psychological properties (beliefs, desires, etc.) but no biological or physical properties. (Clearly this would need to be refined to accommodate all real-world cases — it’s not clear if the inhabitants of the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginal culture would count as ‘supernatural’.) But if we’re talking about the concept of “supernatural being” that plays a central role in Christian metaphysics, this definition will do quite nicely.

    So all a naturalist need do is contend that there are no beings like that: having psychological properties, but no biological or physical properties. Put otherwise, the naturalist contends that all the beings which have psychological properties, also have biological and physical properties.

    Hmm that’s odd. I had always imagined that, rather than God being made in the image of man, man was made in the image of God.

    That is, rather than [because we are intelligent and enlightened enough now to have moved beyond our superstitious anthropomorphizing ways] ruling out a first cause with attributes similar to our own, it seems entirely plausible and coherent to me to consider that our psychological, etc. attributes are to some degree subsets of like attributes “in” the “mind” of Subsistent Being Itself. Rendering all matter, energy, physical laws, etc. as the requisite supporting infrastructure. (Which are forever worthy of inquiry and study of course, including of the methodologically naturalistic variety- particularly for those serving purposes “higher” than one’s own utility)

    What I struggle to come up with is how/why this view is less warranted than KN’s non-Epicurean Naturalism (or any other related “naturalistic”) interpretation. (not to mention the part about leaving the rubber of matter meeting the road of consciousness in the supernatural-within-nature realm of the “emergent”)

    From whence the grounding comes that anchors the warrant to rule out supernatural existence with “psychological” or mind-like attributes? It seems the only viable grounds are necessarily of an emotional/identity sort e.g. “I don’t wish to live/function/think as if that were true. Now, please hand over my naturalistic blinders. Just not the Epicurean brand!” The question though of why becomes very interesting.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    Hi MrMosis: If the captcha fails, it generally offers a go back, which should work. If you are composing something long, do it in Word or AbiWord etc — set straight not curly quotes if you will put in links to other pages — and then copy-paste. KF

  59. 59
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    However, I can think of no way to make teleological [Aristotelianism] compatible with non-teleological Darwinism.

    I think that they can be, because teleological realism pertains to what living creatures do — so here we’re talking about metabolic processes, reproductive processes, neurophysiological processes, etc. From where I sit, one can be a realist about teleology at the level without invoking teleology at the level of evolutionary processes.

    Despite all that, there are certainly times when I feel quite strongly the attraction of something like Peirce’s metaphysics of “evolutionary love” (see also “Peircean Animism and the End of Civilization“).

    Though this may seem a bit odd to those of you who assimilate my views with “materialism,” the fact is that I very much share the sensibility of Jay Rosenberg, who had this to say in his “The Elusiveness of Categories, the Archimedean Dilemma, and the Nature of Man: A Study in Sellarsian Metaphysics”:

    71. We have been asking for an explanation of why, with respect to epistemic ends and, more broadly, with respect to the representations of the world consequent upon the human epistemic activity controlled by those ends, man is as he is. Taken seriously, the Aristotelian proposal suggests that humans seek to understand and thus to represent the world as a matter of natural necessity. It is a law of nature that man, as a species, searches for explanations of phenomena and thereby comes to project representations of his world. Since it is the job of science to develop theoretical frameworks which provide explanatory accounts of natural laws, it now becomes a part of that enterprise to develop a comprehensive theoretical account of man-in-the-universe from which it will follow that men seek to understand and represent the universe of which they are a part. And the way to do this may well be by means of a total conception of the universe as a physical system which of natural necessity evolves subsystems that in turn necessarily project increasingly adequate representations of the whole. Crudely, our universe necessarily “grows knowers” and thereby come to reflect itself (picture itself) within itself.

    72. Such a theory would treat man and the universe as fundamentally correlative. The fundamental nature of man would, of course, be explained by an appeal to the general character of the physical universe of and within which men is an evolutionary product. But, equally, the fundamental nature of the physical universe would be explained by showing that in a universe of that sort, and only in a universe of that sort, could there evolve a species of entity which generate representations of the total physical system of which they are but a part and thereby come to inquire into the fundamental nature of that system.

    74. . . . We cannot understand the universe until we understand it precisely as a universe which is such that, within it, a species of entities evolves which seeks to understand and represent it. And we cannot understand ourselves and our epistemology until we understand them both as products of this total evolutionary system and as parts of the very process of its evolution.

    75. . . . our universe thus conceived as understandable only as a total system evolving within itself a representation of itself is a philosophical old friend: the Hegelian Absolute evolving to self-consciousness. . . . What I am suggesting here is that we can now understand the self-actualization of the Hegelian Absolute as well, in terms of a synoptic empirical theory of man-in-the-universe which views the epistemic activities of persons and the fundamental nature of the physical arena in which those activities occur as explanatorily correlative, neither being understandable without recourse to a conception of the other.

  60. 60
    Bruce David says:

    KN:

    I think that denying this fact of our lived experience — our lived experience of them as living experiencers themselves — is only possible if one is the grip of a powerful metaphysical doctrine which prevents one from acknowledging one’s own experience. And that’s what Epicurean materialism does.

    Well put. I think it applies equally to anyone whose metaphysical position prevents them from seeing the blindingly obvious fact that living organisms are the product of design!

  61. 61
    MrMosis says:

    KN:

    Whereas this Kantian distinction allows me to be a realist about teleology at the level of organisms, a realist about immanent teleology, without having to endorse transcendent teleology.

    This helps me understand the distinction. But I still don’t understand what is now distinct.

    If an organism has its immanent teleology, at what point in its development did it “begin”? Arguably not the first cell surely? (presuming, for sake of thought, an organism of the variety that begins living in such a way (single cell.)) But at some as yet undetermined point, the organism starts experiencing/evidencing immanent/internal teleology?

    Relatedly, this seems to necessitate that the continuing of this sort of emergence of the “purpose-of-self” requires the repackaging of the “purpose” into the ingredients and instructions necessary to sufficiently organize the material precursors (into the pre-emergence form).

    In other words, this “immanent teleology” continues by way of its being repackaged into a seemingly strictly efficient-causal envelope. (Side Note: for which the entirety of the physical universe curiously lends a hand in shepherding along until the new steward of immanent purpose “emerges” from the aforementioned envelope. That is, except of course for the anomalous instances when the entirety of the physical universe instead seemingly conspires to thwart its emergence.)

    Also, depending perhaps on the answer to the question of when/how/where the immanent teleology arises/emerges from/within a given organism, the question of when it first arose/emerged is also quite interesting. Perhaps in the first stochastically “arrived at” self-replicating [while tolerating not too un-amenable modifications] molecule? In the RNA world? In the first “cell”? The first prokaryote? In the first protobiont? Why not in the primordial stew? Actually primordial Earth. Solar system. I’ll arbitrarily stop there I guess.

  62. 62
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I think it applies equally to anyone whose metaphysical position prevents them from seeing the blindingly obvious fact that living organisms are the product of design!

    Touche! Ha ha! 🙂

    Of course, if it is obvious that living things are designed, then there’s no need for an inference to design, is there?

    As I see it, there are two really interesting problems at work in all of these conversations:

    (1) are living things best described as purposive, teleologically structured entities?

    (2) what is the best explanation of why living things display the teleological features that they do?

    The hard-core materialist is someone who will simply answer “no” to (1). For those who answer “yes” to (1), then it’s their different answers to (2) which demarcate the relevant positions.

  63. 63
    bornagain77 says:

    BD you claim:

    ‘Notice by the way that this dichotomy is not universal. There is a small percentage of people in the West who experience unpleasant NDEs as well as a similar percentage in the East who do not.’

    Yet, I have spent hours combing the NDE websites, and the web in general, looking for extremely positive eastern NDE’s, that are like the extremely pleasant heavenly paradise Judeo-Christian NDE’s, and they are not to be found. Even the lone example of the Hong Kong woman who had a positive NDE, that you brought up a few weeks ago (which I knew about), was tainted for it turned our that she had been brought up with a British education, thus a Judeo christian influence can not be ruled out in her case. Thus you are either mistaken or you are being purposely misleading towards the evidence when you state.

    “small percentage of people in the West who experience unpleasant NDEs as well as a similar percentage in the East who do not”

    In fact the percentage in the Judeo-Christian west for unpleasant to pleasant NDE’s is approximately thus:

    THE FOUR TYPES OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES
    1) Initial Experience (sometimes referred to as the “non-experience”) Involves elements such as a loving nothingness, the living dark, a friendly voice, or a brief out-of-body experience; perhaps a visitation of some kind. Usually experienced by those who seem to need the least amount of evidence for proof of survival, or who need the least amount of shakeup in their lives at that point in time. Often, this become a “seed” experience or an introduction to other ways of perceiving and recognizing reality.
    Incident rate: 76% with child experiencers; 20% with adult experiencers
    2) Unpleasant and/or Hell-like Experience (inner cleansing and self-confrontation) Encounter with a threatening void or stark limbo or hellish purgatory, or scenes of a startling and unexpected indifference, even “hauntings” from one’s own past. Usually experienced by those who seem to have deeply suppressed or repressed guilts, fears, and angers, and/or those who expect some kind of punishment or discomfort after death.
    Incident rate: 3% with child experiencers; 15% with adult experiencers
    3) Pleasant and/or Heaven-like Experience (reassurance and self-validation) Heaven-like scenarios of loving family reunions with those who have died previously, reassuring religious figures or light beings, validation that life counts, affirmative and inspiring dialogue. Usually experienced by those who most need to know how loved they are and how important life is and how every effort has a purpose in the overall scheme of things.
    Incident rate: 19% with child experiencers; 47% with adult experiencers
    4) Transcendent Experience (expansive revelations, alternate realities) Exposure to otherworldly dimensions and scenes beyond the individual’s frame of reference; sometimes includes revelations of greater truths. Seldom personal in content. Usually experienced by those who are ready for a “mind stretching” challenge and/or individuals who are more apt to utilize (to whatever degree) the truths that are revealed to them.
    Incident rate: 2% with child experiencers; 18% with adult experiencers
    http://www.theglobalintelligen.....007/fringe

    BD you also claim:

    “that the Hell experienced by Eastern people in their NDEs is not a Christian Hell of eternal suffering.”

    and yet,,,

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand:
    Excerpt: The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of `going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. (Murphy 99)
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Horrific tortures???

    In this following video the Experiencer speaks of it being unbearably hot as well as meeting ‘lucifer’:

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    Thus BD you are once again severely mistaken or are being purposely misleading to the evidence:

    BD you then claim,,,

    “The time periods are generally of finite duration, and conform to the notion of Hell inherent in the religion to which they subscribe.”

    And other than your ‘inner knowing’ that has ‘the ring of truth’, and regression hypnosis pseudo-science, how in blue blazes do you know that these horrific tortures being witnessed in eastern NDE’s are of finite duration and that they might be ‘reincarnated’ out of hell? In fact there is a strong case to be made on a sould entering eternity upon death:

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    Luke 16
    22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
    .23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
    .24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
    25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
    .26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

  64. 64
    bornagain77 says:

    correction: “there is a strong case to be made for a soul entering eternity upon death,,”

  65. 65
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Kantian Naturalist: Christianity is highly unusual in the emphasis it puts on intellectual endorsement of a set of propositions.

    Not true, at least if you use the New Testament as the basis of “Christianity.” Jesus’s message over and over was essentially, “put your full trust in me, I am the Messiah, I have the authority to judge the earth, and my death pays for your guilt, and if you do I will rescue you from the consequences of your rebellion”, the operative word being “trust.” It is not merely acquiescence to a set of propositions. It is about full trust and commitment to Jesus. He made an all or nothing demand. Anything less is not “Christianity.”

  66. 66
    Bruce David says:

    KN:

    Of course, if it is obvious that living things are designed, then there’s no need for an inference to design, is there?

    Good question. To the one to whom it is obvious, there really is no need. However, it’s often a good idea to have some currency in the marketplace of ideas.

    Michael Behe provides a good example. To him it was obvious that the complicated structures and processes he was studying in the cell were designed. However, he also felt that it was important to justify that intuition with some scientific rigor if he was to present it to the world. The result was Darwin’s Black Box.

  67. 67
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Central Scrutinizer:

    Not being a Christian, I have no serious interest in how Christianity is defined — I’m quite willing to let whomever is a Christian define what that means. I was merely going off of how Plantinga sets up the conversation:

    Many have claimed, therefore, that there is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christian belief and hence between religion and science; but are they right? To investigate the question we must know how to think of Christian belief. Suppose we take it to be defined or circumscribed by the rough intersection of the great Christian creeds: the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, but also the more particular creeds such as the Catholic Baltimore Confession, the Reformed Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession and the Westminster Confession, Luther’s Small Catechism, and the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles; the result would be something like the “Mere Christianity” of which C. S. Lewis spoke.

    That said, if someone wants to emphasize the experiential side of faith, that’s fine with me — I have no objection.

  68. 68
    Graham2 says:

    selection is indifferent the truth. It will select for a false belief if, for whatever reason, that belief increases fitness

    I actually agree with Barry! Now thats a worry, but I dont see any conundrum.

    Generally, our judgement has to be pretty solid, or we wont survive in the real world, but sometimes a wrong belief can increase our chances of survival, eg: an optimistic belief that I will be rescued from a desert island keeps me going. If I were to be truly rational, I would wade into the sea and drown … this minimises my overall discomfort. Similarly, belief in fictitious friends in the sky may give me comfort.

  69. 69
    Upright BiPed says:

    Similarly, belief in fictitious friends in the sky may give me comfort.

    Is this effect similar to the ficticious mechanisms you believe exist without evidence now?

    🙂

  70. 70
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham2 you state:

    “I actually agree with Barry!”

    as to this,,

    “selection is indifferent the truth.”

    But alas Graham2, don’t you realize that you have just conceded the necessary premise to Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism and thus undermined any truth claims you may make about your naturalistic beliefs?

    notes:

    Scientific Peer Review is in Trouble: From Medical Science to Darwinism – Mike Keas – October 10, 2012
    Excerpt: Survival is all that matters on evolutionary naturalism. Our evolving brains are more likely to give us useful fictions that promote survival rather than the truth about reality. Thus evolutionary naturalism undermines all rationality (including confidence in science itself). Renown philosopher Alvin Plantinga has argued against naturalism in this way (summary of that argument is linked on the site:).
    Or, if your short on time and patience to grasp Plantinga’s nuanced argument, see if you can digest this thought from evolutionary cognitive psychologist Steve Pinker, who baldly states:
    “Our brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth; sometimes the truth is adaptive, sometimes it is not.”
    Steven Pinker, evolutionary cognitive psychologist, How the Mind Works (W.W. Norton, 1997), p. 305.
    http://blogs.christianpost.com.....ism-12421/

    Alvin Plantinga – Evolutionary Argument against Naturalism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r34AIo-xBh8

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth that he is purporting to give in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

    Evolutionists Are Now Saying Their Thinking is Flawed (But Evolution is Still a Fact) – Cornelius Hunter – May 2012
    Excerpt: But the point here is that these “researchers” are making an assertion (human reasoning evolved and is flawed) which undermines their very argument. If human reasoning evolved and is flawed, then how can we know that evolution is a fact, much less any particular details of said evolutionary process that they think they understand via their “research”?
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....their.html

    Thus Graham2, since on the one hand you know that naturalism cannot guarantee that your cognitive faculties will be reliable, yet on the other hand your cognitive faculties are reliable enough for you to know that naturalism cannot guarantee them, will you be honest enough to admit that naturalism is false and that there is a transcendent component to you that was able to come to that truthful realization? Or will you backpedal and change your mind and say that you don’t really agree with Mr. Arrington?

  71. 71
    Graham2 says:

    I know I shouldnt ask this, but what is this ” transcendent component” ?

  72. 72
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: MrMosis @ 61:

    I do think that all life is, just as such, teleological — from bacteria all the way on up, down, and sideways — so I’d say that teleological properties were first instantiated or actualized when the first living thing came into existence.

    As to the question of abiogenesis, origin-of-life, I can say this much:

    (1) it’s been a while since I’ve looked at any of the abiogenesis models, and none of them seemed really plausible to me — though there was a time when Cairns-Smith’s “clay hypothesis” tickled my fancy;

    (2) I don’t see any in-principle, conceptual problems with the idea that living things arose when an autocatalytic set of molecules became enclosed in a semi-permeable membrane, and that basically is the “fold in being’ of which Merleau-Ponty spoke.

  73. 73
    bornagain77 says:

    what is this ” transcendent component” ?

    A reasoning “mind” that is independent of the material states of your brain.

  74. 74
    bornagain77 says:

    i.e. if your thoughts are merely the result of the material states of your brain, and yet your cognitive faculties are unreliable on evolutionary naturalism, how is it possible that you would come to that truthful realization evolutionary naturalism produces unreliable cognitive faculties unless your mind was able to come to that realization independent of your material brain?

    footnote:

    The Mind and Materialist Superstition – Six “conditions of mind” that are irreconcilable with materialism: Michael Egnor, professor of neurosurgery at SUNY, Stony Brook
    Excerpt: Intentionality,,, Qualia,,, Persistence of Self-Identity,,, Restricted Access,,, Incorrigibility,,, Free Will,,,
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....super.html

  75. 75
    Box says:

    Kantian Naturalist: “I do think that all life is, just as such, teleological — from bacteria all the way on up, down, and sideways — so I’d say that teleological properties were first instantiated or actualized when the first living thing came into existence.”

    Kantian Naturalist, how do you explain the emergence of these teleological properties?

  76. 76
    Graham2 says:

    ba77 @74 … You continue to quote from biblical blogs, Metacafe, and people like Michael Egnor(!). These really dont help your case.

    As for the soundness of my faculties, they arent perfect, but good enough. Sure, we are prone to optical illusions, unrealistic optimism (all soldiers are sure they wont be the one to die) etc, but we function pretty well, well enough to survive.

  77. 77
    Phinehas says:

    BD,

    But from where I stand, the idea that God would create a Hell so contradicts the nature of God as to be utterly ridiculous.

    1. How does where you stand differ from where the rest of us stand as flawed and exceedingly limited beings?

    2. If your concept of the nature of God depends entirely on the inner musings of a flawed and limited being, other than that one was crafted by mind and the other by hand, what distinguishes your God from a pagan idol?

    3. As a flawed and limited being, are you at all concerned about the prospect of judging/condemning a God who created a Hell?

  78. 78
    Phinehas says:

    @Graham2

    In addition to functioning pretty well, historically we’ve also functioned pretty religiously. Like our faculties, religions aren’t perfect, but they’ve been good enough.

    If nature has gifted me, along with many others, a reproductively successful religious gene, is there any reason we should promote the less reproductively successful non-religious gene?

  79. 79
    Graham2 says:

    Religions have been ‘good enough’ ? What on earth does that mean?. Santa Claus is also ‘good enough’. Do you believe in Santa Claus ?

    ‘Reproductively succesful religious gene’ ? ‘non-religious gene’ ? Sorry, I pass.

  80. 80
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Box @ 75:

    Kantian Naturalist, how do you explain the emergence of these teleological properties?

    It’s all about evolutionary love, babe!

  81. 81
    Phinehas says:

    @Graham2

    I simply mean that religions have been ‘good enough’ in the same way that our faculties have been ‘good enough.’ Both have resulted in reproductive success. (I don’t think the same can be said for belief in Santa Claus, at least among those capable of reproduction.)

    Please forgive my use of the word ‘gene.’ I meant it in an analogous sense. Obviously, we don’t have a ‘religious gene’ any more than we have a ‘faculties gene.’ I’m happy to use whatever terminology you think more appropriate to describe the natural mechanisms that gave us both our faculties and religion.

    For are not both religion and faculties the end result of the same natural processes? (If not, how not?) Do not both pass the ‘well enough to survive’ test equally? If ‘well enough to survive’ is a trustworthy enough standard for our faculties, why is it not a trustworthy enough standard for our religion?

  82. 82
    MrMosis says:

    BD:

    In fact, the video is a strong confirmation of my point—love and judgment are incompatible. Where there is perfect love, there is no judgment.

    and elsewhere:

    But from where I stand, the idea that God would create a Hell so contradicts the nature of God as to be utterly ridiculous.

    Curiously enough, I believe I wound up at the following video through the process of viewing some of the videos BA77 linked to at some point. (By the way, I ‘ve long been wondering BA77 how you manage all of your links and information.) I love Tim Keller. So I was happy to find this sermon segment of his on Hell. As a self-proclaimed Christian, I found it quite informative. So I think there is plenty of room for all parties to be further informed, particularly those on the “outside” (BD? KN?) regarding concepts and doctrines related to Hell within the orthodoxy of the “church universal.”

    If you are going to stand somewhere where “the idea that God would create a Hell so contradicts the nature of God as to be utterly ridiculous,” you might as well continue in the ongoing effort of making sure that you are actually standing in the right place.


    Tim Keller: Does God send people to Hell?

    If you get the time, would love to know your reaction (any of you- insiders or outsiders). Does the view described comport with the notions you have previously found so easy to dismiss?

  83. 83
    Graham2 says:

    Phinehas: Im afraid this discussion has become incoherent. UD is amusing for a while, but I find the ever-present religion tiring, and I just want to get back to reality.

  84. 84
    Phinehas says:

    @Graham2

    Suit yourself, of course. But before you take off, is there something you found particularly incoherent about these questions?

    – Are not both religion and faculties the end result of the same natural processes?

    – Do not both pass the ‘well enough to survive’ test equally?

    – If ‘well enough to survive’ is a trustworthy enough standard for our faculties, why is it not a trustworthy enough standard for our religion?

    I’ve tried my level best to approach the issue from a naturalist perspective. I’m only speaking of religion in terms of what exists and has historically existed in reality. To deny the existence of religion and its place in history would be to walk away from reality, not to return to it.

  85. 85
    Bruce David says:

    BA: re #63:

    The first time you brought this up, I followed your links. I distinctly remember that the descriptions the majority of the NDEs experienced by Thai people reflected a vision of Hell and the judgment process that was decidedly non-Western, and clearly reflected the way that their religion viewed Hell and the process of after-death judgment. Also, there was at least one in which the person experiencing the NDE was told that souls’ sojourn into Hell was a purification process prior to their next incarnation.

    I’m not willing to repeat that search. It isn’t worth my time.

    But in any case, you have attacked the peripheral points and missed the central one—that there are many possible explanations for the facts you present. Your picking one particular feature of Western culture, namely its religious heritage as the salient one upon which to build an explanation is arbitrary. You could have picked any one of many as the basis of your explanation. For example, there are a large number of people in the US and Europe who could be characterized as “New Age”, for want of a better term. The experiences of the majority of people in the West correspond to the view of the afterlife held by them much better than that of orthodox Christianity or Judaism. Thus, you could have claimed that the reason that Western NDEs are as they are is due to the large New Age populations in Western countries. Or there is my hypothesis, that it is a belief that one is going to Hell coupled with a strong fear of it that appears to be present in Eastern cultures but mostly absent from Western ones that accounts for the differences in their respective NDE experiences.

    I’m sure I could come up with more alternatives to explain the phenomena if I wanted to devote the time to it, which I don’t, particularly since I have made this point to you before, but you don’t get it.

    This is the last comment I will post on this subject.

  86. 86
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas:

    1. How does where you stand differ from where the rest of us stand as flawed and exceedingly limited beings?

    2. If your concept of the nature of God depends entirely on the inner musings of a flawed and limited being, other than that one was crafted by mind and the other by hand, what distinguishes your God from a pagan idol?

    Well, in the first place, my view of humankind is that we are all perfect beings who have chosen to experience limitation during our temporary sojourns here on Earth.

    But even if I grant your premise, what distinguishes your conclusions regarding the truth of reality from mine? Who is it besides you in your limited and flawed nature that decides for you that scripture is the correct authority (and not any of the other claimants—the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, New Age thinkers, etc., etc.)? The truth is that each of us is on our own when it comes to deciding who and what to accept as truth. It’s the human condition.

    3. As a flawed and limited being, are you at all concerned about the prospect of judging/condemning a God who created a Hell?

    Not in the slightest. I am quite certain that the whole notion of a vengeful, condemning, and punitive God was invented by those in power as a way to control the population, nothing more.

    I believe in a perfectly loving God, in Whom there is no room for vengeance, condemnation, or punishment. I really have no doubts about that.

  87. 87
    kairosfocus says:

    Graham2

    Pardon, but your logical slip-up is showing — Well Poisoning is a fallacy.

    You know or full well should know, that there is an empirically warranted inference to design on tested and reliable sign, and that this stands on its own merits and a scientific inductive exercise.

    It is interesting how often objectors to ID refuse to address this pivotal issue and instead want to project “religion” as a dismissive smear. Even while they fail to recognise their own ideological baggage. Do I need to say again that dismissing those who ques5ion evo mat views and agendas on long history [cf Plato in The Laws Bk X in light of the career of Alcibiades and co] and serious issues as “ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked” is utterly inappropriate?

    Beyond that, as is always the case on matters connected to origins and our root nature, there are worldview level issues — i.e., philosophical ones — that obtain, and some of this will manifest itself in theological concerns. In this case, we have the issue of the worldview grounds of mind as accurately perceiving and reasoning and knowing, in sufficiently many cases to be worth thinking about. That is no minor issue, in a context where a dominant worldview — evolutionary materialism — has the challenge of facing (as opposed to ducking) the gap between cause-effect chains and ground-consequent ones.

    Please, cease and desist from playing bias laced well poisoning rhetorical games.

    KF

  88. 88
    bornagain77 says:

    KN states:

    “I believe in a perfectly loving God, in Whom there is no room for vengeance, condemnation, or punishment. I really have no doubts about that.”

    Thus KN is forced into the absurd position that evil does not exist, yet,,,

    Although BD has no way of ever explaining the existence of moral evil in the world, since he insists there actually is no evil in the world, he has no way to escape the fact that he himself is constantly evaluating the moral evil and goodness in the world around him.

    Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows – November 29, 2012
    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.
    http://medicalxpress.com/news/.....brain.html

    Jeremiah 31:33
    ,,,“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.

    Basically BD ends up, with his ‘inner knowing’ that ‘rings of truth’ in a fantasy land of Denialism, a fantasy land he can’t possibly live consistently in, on par, perhaps surpassing, the Denialism witnessed in many alcoholics.

  89. 89
    bornagain77 says:

    sorry, I meant the last post to be addressed to BD

  90. 90
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham2, you state:

    “UD is amusing for a while, but I find the ever-present religion tiring, and I just want to get back to reality.

    Sorry Graham2, but I don’t think reality means what you think it means, if by ‘reality’ you mean a reductive materialism (Darwinian) view of reality.

    The ‘Top Down’ Theistic Structure Of The Universe and Of The Human Body
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhA4hiQnYiyCTiqG5GelcSJjy69e1DT3OHpqlx6rACs/edit

    The Galileo Affair and the true “Center of the Universe”
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

    i.e., much like BD’s make believe world where he denies that evil is even present in this world, Graham2, your materialistic ‘reality’ that you believe you ‘getting back to’ is nothing more than a figment of your imagination!

  91. 91
    bornagain77 says:

    BD you claim:

    “I distinctly remember that the descriptions the majority of the NDEs experienced by Thai people reflected a vision of Hell and the judgment process that was decidedly non-Western,”

    ‘Horrific torment’?, ‘demonic beings’?, ‘decidedly non-western’?

    OK BD, as on sesame street, which one does not belong?

    BD, you can believe whatever you want, in fact you’ve shown that YOU WILL believe whatever you want no matter what the evidence says to the contrary on more than one occasion, but you are not entitled to your own facts!

  92. 92
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham2, after attacking the man instead of the argument, you state:

    “As for the soundness of my faculties, they arent perfect, but good enough. Sure, we are prone to optical illusions, unrealistic optimism (all soldiers are sure they wont be the one to die) etc, but we function pretty well, well enough to survive.”

    But Graham2, that is the entire point, how in the world do you know, on Evolutionary Naturalism, that you are prone to deceiving yourself?

    note:

    The following interview is sadly comical as a evolutionary psychologist realizes that neo-Darwinism can offer no guarantee that our faculties of reasoning will correspond to the truth, not even for the truth that he is purporting to give in the interview, (which begs the question of how was he able to come to that particular truthful realization, in the first place, if neo-Darwinian evolution were actually true?);

    Evolutionary guru: Don’t believe everything you think – October 2011 (Concluding comment)
    Interviewer: You could be deceiving yourself about that.(?)
    Evolutionary Psychologist: Absolutely.
    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....think.html

  93. 93
    bornagain77 says:

    In fact this line of thought is has a bit of history:

    i.e. the fact that we are conscious, is the MOST sure thing you can know about reality:

    “Descartes remarks that he can continue to doubt whether he has a body; after all, he only believes he has a body as a result of his perceptual experiences, and so the demon could be deceiving him about this. But he cannot doubt that he has a mind, i.e. that he thinks. So he knows he exists even though he doesn’t know whether or not he has a body.”
    http://cw.routledge.com/textbo.....ualism.pdf

    footnote on the epistemological failure of naturalism:

    BRUCE GORDON: Hawking’s irrational arguments – October 2010
    Excerpt: For instance, we find multiverse cosmologists debating the “Boltzmann Brain” problem: In the most “reasonable” models for a multiverse, it is immeasurably more likely that our consciousness is associated with a brain that has spontaneously fluctuated into existence in the quantum vacuum than it is that we have parents and exist in an orderly universe with a 13.7 billion-year history. This is absurd. The multiverse hypothesis is therefore falsified because it renders false what we know to be true about ourselves. Clearly, embracing the multiverse idea entails a nihilistic irrationality that destroys the very possibility of science.
    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....arguments/

    The Absurdity of Inflation, String Theory and The Multiverse – Dr. Bruce Gordon – video
    http://vimeo.com/34468027

    Here is the last power-point slide of the preceding video:

    The End Of Materialism?
    * In the multiverse, anything can happen for no reason at all.
    * In other words, the materialist is forced to believe in random miracles as a explanatory principle.
    * In a Theistic universe, nothing happens without a reason. Miracles are therefore intelligently directed deviations from divinely maintained regularities, and are thus expressions of rational purpose.
    * Scientific materialism is (therefore) epistemically self defeating: it makes scientific rationality impossible.

  94. 94
    Box says:

    My question: “How do you explain the emergence of these teleological properties?”
    Your answer:

    It’s all about evolutionary love, babe!

    Can you expatiate on this for us? Please do not leave out a brief description of the mechanism behind the emergence of real consciousness.

  95. 95
    bornagain77 says:

    Footnote to Graham wanting to ‘get back to reality’:

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality”
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

  96. 96
    bornagain77 says:

    Semi related note:

    How Can We Demonstrate that Object Moral Values Exist to a Person Who Holds They Are Illusory? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbeoe2_6qx4

  97. 97
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    Well, in the first place, my view of humankind is that we are all perfect beings who have chosen to experience limitation during our temporary sojourns here on Earth.

    So, we are perfect choosers prone to making flawed choices? That seems a bit self-defeating.

    But even if I grant your premise, what distinguishes your conclusions regarding the truth of reality from mine?

    Revelation. A transcendent, omniscient being knows truth where a flawed and limited being does not. A transcendent, omnipotent being can reliably reveal truth, even to a flawed and limited being.

    Who is it besides you in your limited and flawed nature that decides for you that scripture is the correct authority (and not any of the other claimants—the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, New Age thinkers, etc., etc.)?

    The Spirit and the Word work together to establish a reliable source of revelation that supervenes the flaws and limitations of those who believe and trust. Fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness accounts, and miraculous signs all help testify to the reliability of this revelation.

    The truth is that each of us is on our own when it comes to deciding who and what to accept as truth. It’s the human condition.

    I doubt the veracity of this truth claim given its inherent self-referential issues. If a flawed chooser is truly on its own in choosing truth, why would I entrust my life to its choices?

  98. 98
    Mung says:

    (2) I don’t see any in-principle, conceptual problems with the idea that living things arose when an autocatalytic set of molecules became enclosed in a semi-permeable membrane, and that basically is the “fold in being’ of which Merleau-Ponty spoke.

    There’s no reason to believe that the molecules required for the auto-catalytic cycle could pass through this semi-permeable barrier (I hesitate to call it a membrane).

    There’s no reason to believe that if the molecules could pass through the barrier that the integrity of the whole could be maintained (that the semi-permeable barrier would persist).

    There’s no reason to believe that if the molecules could pass through the barrier and that the integrity of the whole could be maintained, that the system would be capable of evolving (for example, it lacks any mechanism of inheritance).

  99. 99
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    I don’t see any in-principle, conceptual problems with the idea that living things arose when an autocatalytic set of molecules became enclosed in a semi-permeable membrane, and that basically is the “fold in being’ of which Merleau-Ponty spoke.

    Do you have any in-principle, conceptual problem with the idea that a universe could pop into existence without the aid of a self-existent, first cause.

  100. 100
    allanius says:

    Still trying to get my arms around “Kantian Naturalist.”

    I suppose you could be a “Kantian” and also a Naturalist if by “Naturalist” you mean what they meant in the 18th century–someone who studies nature. The more modern meaning of “naturalism,” however, is a method of studying nature that excludes reference to transcendent forces.

    How could someone who called himself a Transcendental Idealist also be a naturalist of the second type? Kant did not agree with Hume that skepticism is king and God should be excluded from science. On the contrary; he tried to sneak God back into science through the “transcendentals.”

    Kant was a synthetic philosopher and follower of Aristotle. The whole point of synthetic philosopy is that it is possible to discern transcendent qualities in immanent being. Without this idea, the constructive philosophy makes no sense whatsoever, and the Transcendental Aesthetic is an absurdity.

    Coleridge and Wordsworth clearly got this. So did Hegel. It’s a mystery why more recent commentators think that Kant the Transcendentalist was an enemy to transcendent being.

  101. 101
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Although BD has no way of ever explaining the existence of moral evil in the world, since he insists there actually is no evil in the world,…

    Now why would I need to explain the existence of something that I don’t believe exists?

    …he has no way to escape the fact that he himself is constantly evaluating the moral evil and goodness in the world around him.

    And you know this about me how, exactly?

    The statement is false, by the way.

  102. 102
    bornagain77 says:

    MrMosis, thanks for the Tim Keller link, he is a good pastor.

    Tim Keller- Hell: Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmTAotnklKI

  103. 103
    bornagain77 says:

    UH BD, I listed this empirical evidence,,,

    i.e. ,,, Moral evaluations of harm are instant and emotional, brain study shows – November 29, 2012
    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.

    So you are saying this evidence is false?? Oh that’s right empirical evidence does not matter to you, your ‘inner knowing’ trumps all evidence,,, UMMM call me a foolish optimist but do you want to visit my basement to rigidly test this ‘inner knowing’ of yours that is telling you that evil does not exist??? I think I really can put a dent in this ‘no evil’ belief of yours! 🙂

    Cruel Logic – video
    Description; A brilliant serial killer videotapes his debates with college faculty victims. The topic of his debate with his victim: His moral right to kill them.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qd1LPRJLnI

  104. 104
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas:

    [But even if I grant your premise, what distinguishes your conclusions regarding the truth of reality from mine?]

    Revelation. A transcendent, omniscient being knows truth where a flawed and limited being does not. A transcendent, omnipotent being can reliably reveal truth, even to a flawed and limited being.

    I see. And where, exactly, did you meet this transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent being, and how, being limited and flawed, can you be certain that your assessment of those attributes is correct?

    Or am I mistaken? Perhaps you didn’t actually meet this being. Perhaps you just read about him or her in a book written by other limited, flawed beings, or maybe someone, a likewise limited, flawed being, told you and you in your limitation and flawness believed him.

    You see, the problem is that it is you who must evaluate the what source or sources of truth are valid and which are not. There are many claimants to revelation—the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, the Hindu holy books, The Book of Mormon, the Conversations with God series, to name a few—and they contradict each other. Only you can decide for you which are genuine revelation and which are not. And if you are limited and flawed as you say, then how can you be sure that your evaluation is correct?

  105. 105
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Excerpt: People are able to detect, within a split second, if a hurtful action they are witnessing is intentional or accidental, new research on the brain at the University of Chicago shows.

    Intentionally hurtful may equate to immoral in your mind. In mine it does not.

  106. 106
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: Well, in the first place, my view of humankind is that we are all perfect beings who have chosen to experience limitation during our temporary sojourns here on Earth.

    Then why are you arguing? If perfect entities have “chosen” to have certain concepts and beliefs and views in order to experience them and the ramification thereof, what are you attempting to accomplish here?

  107. 107
    bornagain77 says:

    Oh that’s right BD, I forgot, it is just ‘preferable’ that Hitler did not murder 6 million Jews! What he did is not really evil according to your ‘inner knowing’. Gotcha! ,,, Trouble is with all this ‘inner knowing’ of yours that is telling you that evil, and thus hell, does not exist, is that the best empirical evidence we now have tells us that there are two very different and distinct qualities of eternity that it is possible for a ‘eternal soul’ to go to upon death.

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop).
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    One quality of eternity is the very ordered eternity at the speed of light and the other eternity is the very chaotic eternity at the event horizons of black holes:

    Roger Penrose – How Special Was The Big Bang?
    “But why was the big bang so precisely organized, whereas the big crunch (or the singularities in black holes) would be expected to be totally chaotic? It would appear that this question can be phrased in terms of the behaviour of the WEYL part of the space-time curvature at space-time singularities. What we appear to find is that there is a constraint WEYL = 0 (or something very like this) at initial space-time singularities-but not at final singularities-and this seems to be what confines the Creator’s choice to this very tiny region of phase space.”

    It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for appraoching the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences: (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.)

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    As well, as with the scientifically verified tunnel for special relativity, we also have scientific confirmation of extreme ‘tunnel curvature’, within space-time, to a ‘eternal event horizon’ at black holes;

    Space-Time of a Black hole
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8

    And, as with the tunnel being present in heavenly NDE’s as a person ‘accelerates at a horrendously fast speed’ (Vicki Noratuk), we also have mention of tunnels in hellish NDE testimonies. A man, near the beginning of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    As well the man, in this following video, also speaks of ‘tumbling down’ a tunnel in his transition stage to hell:

    Bill Wiese on Sid Roth – video
    http://vimeo.com/21230371

    These consistent findings, that corroborate NDE testimonies, especially the hellish NDE tunnels and blackholes, should be fairly disturbing for those of us of a ‘spiritual’ leaning.

    BD,,, Now this is the best that we can make out from empirical evidence for what ‘possibly’ awaits our souls on ‘the other side’ after we pass away. Yet if your metaphysics were actually to be correct, of there being no possibility of hell, I should not have found two very different and distinct types of eternity above this temporal dimension, I should have only found one ‘ordered eternity’ above this dimension. Thus, you can trust you ‘inner knowing’ if you want BD, that is trying to tell you that you have no need to worry of the propitiation provided by Christ to stand before almighty God, who, by the way, created this entire universe by merely the words of His mouth, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and gladly accept the covering he has provided through propitiating sacrifice of Christ so that we will be able to stand in His holiness, and to dwell in His perfect presence:

    Matthew 10:28
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Evanescence – The Other Side (Lyric Video)
    http://www.vevo.com/watch/evan.....tantsearch

  108. 108
    Box says:

    Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    @Bornagain77. I appreciate your postings and admire your passion. But it is beyond my comprehension how anyone who claims to love God can think for one second that God is somehow connected to and in agreement with the practice of eternal torturing of people. In my book that is called blasphemy.

  109. 109
    bornagain77 says:

    Box, So I don’t love God if I point out that hell is very real possibility for what we know about how reality is constructed??? But would it not be far more unloving of me to not warn people? Moreover,(I don’t know if you are Christian, but if you are) if hell does not exist exactly why did Jesus die?

    If you can spare 1/2 an hour, this following video MrMosis listed previously is excellent for reconciling this seemingly irreconcilable contradiction between the love of God and the reality of hell:

    Tim Keller- Hell: Isn’t the God of Christianity an angry Judge? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmTAotnklKI

  110. 110
    Box says:

    Bornagain77: So I don’t love God if I point out that hell is very real possibility for what we know about how reality is constructed???

    I would argue that it is impossible to love God thinking that He is collaborating with the practice of torturing people for eternity.
    e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y … So not 10 years of torture, not 1000 years, not 1000.000 years. No the urge to punish again and again is impossible to satisfy. Why is destruction of the soul not enough and get it over with?
    And who can love such an image of God?

    Bornagain77: But would it not be far more unloving of me to not warn people?

    I was not questioning your love of people. I agree that it is very loving of you towards people to warn them for a God who you consider to be capable of eternal torturing.

    Bornagain77: Moreover,(I don’t know if you are Christian, but if you are) if hell does not exist exactly why did Jesus die?

    Maybe Jesus died and rose from the dead to show us that there is life after death. I think this is an extremely powerful message.

  111. 111
    Bruce David says:

    William:

    Then why are you arguing? If perfect entities have “chosen” to have certain concepts and beliefs and views in order to experience them and the ramification thereof, what are you attempting to accomplish here?

    It’s a good question. Those among the viewers of this thread like SephenB, Bornagain77, Kairosfocus, and others who have clearly decided upon their beliefs and views and are sticking with them, at least for now, obviously will not change them based on anything I present, so there is really no danger that I could interfere with their purposes for having made those choices. That said, they have also chosen to present their views and argue for them on threads such as this, so clearly their purpose also includes exposing those views to the scrutiny of others such as me who disagree with them.

    Others, however, may be seeking answers, and may be open to new possibilities. I offer my views as an option for such people to consider. It would then kind of defeat the purpose if I didn’t also defend them when they are attacked by fallacious arguments.

  112. 112
    Phinehas says:

    [Revelation. A transcendent, omniscient being knows truth where a flawed and limited being does not. A transcendent, omnipotent being can reliably reveal truth, even to a flawed and limited being.]

    I see. And where, exactly, did you meet this transcendent, omniscient, omnipotent being, and how, being limited and flawed, can you be certain that your assessment of those attributes is correct?

    How can I be certain? I’m not. I have sufficient doubts to require faith. In any case, my purpose has not been to assert my own certainty, but to question yours regarding…

    …the idea that God would create a Hell so contradicts the nature of God as to be utterly ridiculous.

    You see, the problem is that it is you who must evaluate…what source or sources of truth are valid and which are not.

    I don’t deny the need for each of us to evaluate, only the insistence that such an evaluation must rely solely on our own flawed and limited faculties. It is here that I would once again question certainty in addition to pointing out the self-defeating nature of any such insistence. I maintain that all such evaluations needn’t be equal.

    A) If God -> Revelation is possible -> Truth (writ large) is within reach

    B) If only flawed and limited beings -> ?????

    Someone who believes B making declarations about God’s nature seems a bit silly. But I take it you believe neither A nor B, which still leaves me curious as to where exactly you were standing when you chose to make a declaration about God and His nature.

  113. 113
    Phinehas says:

    No the urge to punish again and again is impossible to satisfy. Why is destruction of the soul not enough and get it over with?

    I am far from certain that God has any such urges. I also have doubts that eternal souls can be destroyed.

    And who can love such an image of God?

    Who’s asking anyone to love such an image of God?

    I will add my voice to MrMosis and BA77. Take a listen to the linked Tim Keller sermon. Since this is actually closer to what others here believe, do you think anyone can love THAT image of God?

  114. 114
    Bruce David says:

    BA re #107:

    What is your warrant for assuming that the the laws which govern this physical universe are at all relevant to the way that the realm to which we go after we die operates?

  115. 115
    bornagain77 says:

    Box: “I would argue that it is impossible to love God thinking that He is collaborating with the practice of torturing people for eternity.”

    I’ve always understood that God doesn’t wish for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance,,,

    2 Peter 3:9
    The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    Perhaps there is a lesson in BD’s claim that,,,

    “my view of humankind is that we are all perfect beings”

    Contrary to BD, I hold that it is pretty obvious that there is not one ‘perfect being’ among human beings,,,

    Romans 3:23
    for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

    Moreover, God is saving us from our sin,,

    John 3:16–18, and 36: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son….Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

    ,,, From my perspective Box, what the sinner who has lost all self control to sin understands, but the sinner, who does not think he is ‘really’ a sinner, but who is under the delusion that he is controlling his sin does not understand, is that Jesus Christ had the full authority of heaven to relieve Himself of the horrid torment of the cross but instead chose to endure it, in its entirety, willingly, so that he might completely overcome sin, hell and death, in their entirety, for our behalf. Love is the only proper response on our part once the extreme gravity of the situation is understood.

    Luke 5:32
    I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

    Music:

    Heather Williams – Hallelujah – Lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX2uM0L3Y1A

    A bit more to reflect on here:

    The Contradiction of the Cross
    “On the cross, our false dependencies are revealed. On the cross, our illusions are killed off. On the cross, our small self dies so that the true self, the God-given self, can emerge. On the cross, we give up the fantasy that we are in control, and the death of this fantasy is central to acceptance. The cross is, above all, a place of powerlessness. Here is the final proof that our own feeble powers can no more alter life’s trajectory than a magnet can pull down the moon. Here is the death of the ego, of the self that insists on being in charge, the self that continually tries to impose its own idea of order and righteousness on the world.
    The cross is a place of contradiction. For the powerlessness of the cross, if fully embraced, takes us to a place of power. This is the great mystery at the heart of the Christian faith, from Jesus to Martin Luther King Jr., the mystery of the power of powerlessness. As long as I am preoccupied with the marshaling of my own feeble powers, there will be no way for God’s power to flow through me. As long as I am getting in my own way, I cannot live in the power of God’s way.”
    – Parker Palmer, The Promise of Paradox, Pg 46-47
    http://www.findingrhythm.com/blog/?p=2183

    as well:

    G.O.S.P.E.L. (Propitiation) – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

  116. 116
    bornagain77 says:

    “What is your warrant for assuming that the the laws which govern this physical universe are at all relevant to the way that the realm to which we go after we die operates?”

    Because the structure of reality is,,well,,, it is the structure of reality!,,, whereas what you imagine for how the afterlife should operate, according to your ‘inner knowing, is,,, well, it is just you imagining, by your inner knowing, what the afterlife should be like.. If you don’t mind, (and even if you do mind) I’ll stick to what the structure of reality, as revealed by modern physics, is telling me over what your ‘inner knowing’ is telling me!

  117. 117
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas:

    A) If God -> Revelation is possible -> Truth (writ large) is within reach

    B) If only flawed and limited beings -> ?????

    Someone who believes B making declarations about God’s nature seems a bit silly. But I take it you believe neither A nor B, which still leaves me curious as to where exactly you were standing when you chose to make a declaration about God and His nature.

    Actually, I agree with A and not B. My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting and then slowly over many lifetimes remembering Who We Really Are. In order for this to work, there must be access to our essential nature, which does know the truth, but the access must be neither too easy nor impossible. This is what I refer to as our “inner knowing” of which BA is so disdainful. As we experience many lifetimes, our ability to access our inner knowing becomes surer and surer, and it is this capacity that allows us to recognize valid revelation. To me, as best as I can determine, the Conversations with God series of books, by Neale Donald Walsch constitute the purest form of revelation with which I have yet come in contact. Another such source is the work of Ibn al ‘Arabi, a great Sufi mystic and philosopher (called the “pole of knowledge” by the Sufis), but his work is much less accessible to me and I would guess to most modern English speaking people.

    So do I have perfect access to my own inner knowing at this stage of my evolution? No. But there are some things of which I am very, very sure, and one of them is that a perfectly loving being would never create a Hell.

  118. 118
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    [What is your warrant for assuming that the the laws which govern this physical universe are at all relevant to the way that the realm to which we go after we die operates?]

    Because the structure of reality is,,well,,, it is the structure of reality!…If you don’t mind, (and even if you do mind) I’ll stick to what the structure of reality, as revealed by modern physics, is telling me over what your ‘inner knowing’ is telling me!

    Be my guest. Just don’t imagine that you have a very convincing argument there.

  119. 119
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Bruce David: My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting…

    Why was this necessary?

  120. 120
    Box says:

    Re: bornagain77 & Phinehas

    I would summarize Keller’s idea like this: ‘People can either choose to serve God or choose for autonomy. Choosing the latter leads to psychological problems that come from being ego-centered and self-justifying. At a certain point there is no way back and hell opens its doors.’
    So Keller argues that going to hell is by free choice, despite fair warnings.

    I believe quite the opposite. I think we are on this earth to increase awareness of ourselves and others, to learn from mistakes and so increase autonomy. God doesn’t want us to be His servants forever. In time He would like some real company.

  121. 121
    bornagain77 says:

    BD states:

    Just don’t imagine that you have a very convincing argument there.

    Of course BD, one thing I’ve learned about you is that what reality is telling us can never trump what you imagine your ‘inner knowing’ is telling you. As far as can tell, you’ve forever sealed yourself off from such trivial things as reality ever informing you. ,,,i.e. Sandy Hook elementary evil??? No Way!!! Ba Da Boom, Ba Da Bing, just imagine the Sandy Hook tragedy away with BD’s magic ‘evil is a illusion’ sophistry.,,, Pure garbage thinking IMHO!

  122. 122
    bornagain77 says:

    Perhaps this song is more fitting than the Heather Williams song for reflecting the sentiment of post 115:

    “Bless The Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts Official Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkWGwY5nq7A

  123. 123
    bornagain77 says:

    Box you state:

    “So Keller argues that going to hell is by free choice, despite fair warnings.

    I believe quite the opposite. I think we are on this earth to increase awareness of ourselves and others, to learn from mistakes and so increase autonomy. God doesn’t want us to be His servants forever. In time He would like some real company.”

    I’m really having trouble getting your point. Are you trying to claim that we give up free will if hell is real??? And that God would not have ‘real’ company??? Surely you don;t mean that?? whatever you are trying to say, I can tell you that God is very big on autonomy (free will) as far as reality itself can tell us:

    notes on free will:

    In the following video, at the 37:00 minute mark, Anton Zeilinger, a leading researcher in quantum teleportation with many breakthroughs under his belt, humorously reflects on just how deeply determinism has been undermined by quantum mechanics by saying such a deep lack of determinism may provide some of us a loop hole when they meet God on judgment day.

    Prof Anton Zeilinger speaks on quantum physics. at UCT – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3ZPWW5NOrw

    Personally, I feel that such a deep undermining of determinism by quantum mechanics, far from providing a ‘loop hole’ on judgement day, actually restores free will to its rightful place in the grand scheme of things, thus making God’s final judgments on men’s souls all the more fully binding since man truly is a ‘free moral agent’ as Theism has always maintained. And to solidify this theistic claim for how reality is constructed, the following study came along a few months after I had seen Dr. Zeilinger’s video:

    Can quantum theory be improved? – July 23, 2012
    Excerpt: Being correct 50% of the time when calling heads or tails on a coin toss won’t impress anyone. So when quantum theory predicts that an entangled particle will reach one of two detectors with just a 50% probability, many physicists have naturally sought better predictions. The predictive power of quantum theory is, in this case, equal to a random guess. Building on nearly a century of investigative work on this topic, a team of physicists has recently performed an experiment whose results show that, despite its imperfections, quantum theory still seems to be the optimal way to predict measurement outcomes.,
    However, in the new paper, the physicists have experimentally demonstrated that there cannot exist any alternative theory that increases the predictive probability of quantum theory by more than 0.165, with the only assumption being that measurement (*conscious observation) parameters can be chosen independently (free choice, free will, assumption) of the other parameters of the theory.,,,
    ,, the experimental results provide the tightest constraints yet on alternatives to quantum theory. The findings imply that quantum theory is close to optimal in terms of its predictive power, even when the predictions are completely random.
    http://phys.org/news/2012-07-quantum-theory.html

    So just as I had suspected after watching Dr. Zeilinger’s video, it is found that a required assumption of ‘free will’ in quantum mechanics is what necessarily drives the completely random (non-deterministic) aspect of quantum mechanics. Moreover, it was shown in the paper that one cannot ever improve the predictive power of quantum mechanics by ever removing free will as a starting assumption in Quantum Mechanics!

    Henry Stapp on the Conscious Choice and the Non-Local Quantum Entangled Effects – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJN01s1gOqA

    of note:

    What does the term “measurement” mean in quantum mechanics?
    “Measurement” or “observation” in a quantum mechanics context are really just other ways of saying that the observer is interacting with the quantum system and measuring the result in toto.
    http://boards.straightdope.com.....p?t=597846

    Needless to say, finding ‘free will conscious observation’ to be ‘built into’ our best description of foundational reality, quantum mechanics, as a starting assumption, ‘free will observation’ which is indeed the driving aspect of randomness in quantum mechanics, is VERY antithetical to the entire materialistic philosophy which demands that a ‘non-telological randomness’ be the driving force of creativity in Darwinian evolution! Also of interest:

    Scientific Evidence That Mind Effects Matter – Random Number Generators – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4198007

    I once asked a evolutionist, after showing him the preceding experiments, “Since you ultimately believe that the ‘god of random chance’ produced everything we see around us, what in the world is my mind doing pushing your god around?”

    Of note: since our free will choices figure so prominently in how reality is actually found to be constructed in our understanding of quantum mechanics, I think a Christian perspective on just how important our choices are in this temporal life, in regards to our eternal destiny, is very fitting:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    Ravi Zacharias – How To Measure Your Choices – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Op_S5syhKI

    You must measure your choices by the measure of
    1) eternity
    2) morality
    3) accountability
    4) charity

  124. 124
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Of course BD, one thing I’ve learned about you is that what reality is telling us can never trump what you imagine your ‘inner knowing’ is telling you. As far as can tell, you’ve forever sealed yourself off from such trivial things as reality ever informing you. ,,,i.e. Sandy Hook elementary evil??? No Way!!! Ba Da Boom, Ba Da Bing, just imagine the Sandy Hook tragedy away with BD’s magic ‘evil is a illusion’ sophistry.,,, Pure garbage thinking IMHO!

    There is nothing humble about your opinions, Bornagain.

  125. 125
    StephenB says:

    Box

    I would argue that it is impossible to love God thinking that He is collaborating with the practice of torturing people for eternity.
    e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y … So not 10 years of torture, not 1000 years, not 1000.000 years. No the urge to punish again and again is impossible to satisfy. Why is destruction of the soul not enough and get it over with?
    And who can love such an image of God?

    Unlike the body, which is made up of physical parts, the soul, which is the spiritual part of our nature, cannot die. To be made in God’s image is to live forever. Part of that image consists in the ability to make free choices and, ultimately, to decide with whom we would prefer to co-exist for all eternity.

    Although God made us for himself, which means that we can find happiness only in Him, there are many who would prefer not to co-exist with Him, either in this life or the next. Where, then, are these people supposed to reside. Having rejected Heaven, God, the community of saints, what else is left for them except their place of choice, which is Hell.
    Does God actively torture them at that awful place (or state of existence)? No. They experience passive torture as a natural byproduct of being separated from God. To separate ourselves from the natural environment for which we were made is to experience torture. God does not get revenge, “pour it on,” or ramp up the pain, He simply withdraws Himself completely and His total absence makes it Hell.

  126. 126
    bornagain77 says:

    “There is nothing humble about your opinions, Bornagain”

    Really funny coming from the man who refuses to let anything contradict his ‘inner knowing’ 🙂

  127. 127
    Box says:

    @ bornagain77 – post 123

    bornagain77 : I’m really having trouble getting your point.
    I believe the opposite of what Keller is saying . Keller says something like ‘people can either choose to serve God or choose for autonomy and choosing autonomy will make one ultimately end up in hell’. Correct me if I’m wrong.
    I believe that God doesn’t plan for us to sing in devote admiration for Him forever. I think we are on earth to increase awareness of ourselves and others, and unlike what Keller proposes, increase our personal autonomy. Like I said I can imagine that in time He would like some worthy company.

  128. 128
    bornagain77 says:

    Box, Well, to try to make some headway into it, as clumsy as it may be, I would say first off, that by ‘autonomy’ you mean a different thing than what Keller means, in that he means going our own rebellious way instead of trying to follow God’s perfect way for us, and that you mean, in ‘autonomous’ something more along the line of not being a puppet of God but being a true friend. But ‘freely choosing’ to go God’s perfect way is anything but being a puppet and giving up autonomy. Indeed many, many, people, far, far, better qualified than I, can testify that it takes much self discipline over ‘automatic’ selfish desires to live a selfless life for God. Mother Teresa’s life story comes to mind. Whereas a person who lives for selfish ends usually finds himself being the ‘puppet’ of some destructive addiction. Thus I would say that you have a overall wrong perspective of what it means to ‘serve’ God:

    Verse and music:

    John 8:34-36
    Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’

    Creed – My Own Prison
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBBqjGd3fHQ

  129. 129
    Bruce David says:

    CentralScrutinzer:

    Bruce David: My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting…

    Why was this necessary?

    You didn’t include the rest of the sentence. In full it reads: “My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting and then slowly over many lifetimes remembering Who We Really Are.”

    Here is a very condensed version of the explanation given by God in Conversations with God, Book I, which I consider to be direct revelation: God, in His transcendent state, knows He is magnificent, but He cannot experience this because in order to experience something, one has to have the experience of NOT that something also. Warmth, without the experience of cold, disappears. Up, without the experience of down, disappears, as astronauts in space discovered. And in God’s transcendent state, there is no opposite to His magnificence, so although He knew it, He could not experience it.

    But He desired to have that experience, so God created all of us out of Himself, in His image and likeness. We are each an individualized copy of Him, complete with His magnificence (His love, His creativity, His joy, His wisdom, His knowledge). The One who looks out of our eyes is Him. But in order for us to experience our magnificence (and for God to experience His own through us, which are Him), it was necessary for us to experience NOT magnificence, ie limitation, in all its forms. To do this, we incarnate on Earth, forgetting Who We Really Are. However, as we incarnate in many lifetimes, our remembrance slowly returns to us, and as it does, we experience our magnificence in contrast to the experiences of limitation that we have had due to our forgetting. And through us, God experiences His magnificence.

    Among the manifestations of limitation that we experience is what is commonly labelled as evil, and which is the lack or absence of love. (Actually, love can never be absent, since it is part of every human being’s essential nature, but it can be masked to the extent that we act contrary to its imperative.) But you see, what we call evil is necessary for the purpose of life on Earth to be fulfilled. Thus, in the ultimate sense, in God’s eyes, there is no evil—what we call evil is actually part of the Plan.

    I have attempted to condense into a few paragraphs what takes some twenty pages to explain in Conversations with God. If you’re interested, I strongly recommend reading that book. It is quite amazing.

  130. 130
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    Although God made us for himself, which means that we can find happiness only in Him, there are many who would prefer not to co-exist with Him, either in this life or the next. Where, then, are these people supposed to reside. Having rejected Heaven, God, the community of saints, what else is left for them except their place of choice, which is Hell.
    Does God actively torture them at that awful place (or state of existence)? No. They experience passive torture as a natural byproduct of being separated from God. To separate ourselves from the natural environment for which we were made is to experience torture. God does not get revenge, “pour it on,” or ramp up the pain, He simply withdraws Himself completely and His total absence makes it Hell.

    So, given that, is there any reason why a soul in Hell could not change her mind at some point and choose to coexist with God after all? And if she did, would God not welcome her back? If not, why not, given His perfect love?

    And if our being saved is simply a question of our choosing to coexist with God “in this life or the next”, wherein lies the necessity for Jesus’ sacrifice?

  131. 131
    StephenB says:

    So, given that, is there any reason why a soul in Hell could not change her mind at some point and choose to coexist with God after all? And if she did, would God not welcome her back? If not, why not, given His perfect love?

    The soul in hell cannot change her mind. On this side of the grave, our character is changeable because we have time to work with and the grace of God to help us. In that context, we are working within a very dynamic spiritual environment. We are either growing more loving and getting closer to God or less loving and more distant from God. No one stays the same. As the years pass, it becomes increasingly difficult to reverse course because the older and more ingrained a habit becomes, the harder it is to break. Still, it can be done because the grace of God is available even up to the last moment.
    As we approach death, however, our character solidifies, and after death it is no longer pliable. It is, at that point, totally irreversible. We are what we have made ourselves. For better or worse, our journey is complete. For angels, this process occurs in a split second; for humans, it takes a lifetime. At the end, God simply ratifies the sum total of all our choices. It is we who are doing the driving. Hundreds of times a day we find ways to say, “I want you God” or “I don’t what you God. Finally, God says, “OK, I get it.”

    And if our being saved is simply a question of our choosing to coexist with God “in this life or the next”, wherein lies the necessity for Jesus’ sacrifice?

    Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have had the opportunity to co-exist with God at all. Even with his sacrifice, we must choose to appropriate it and make the right choices.

  132. 132
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    StephenB @ 99: I think we have a pretty good handle on what “cause” and “effect” mean when applied to events within the universe, but I worry that we don’t really know what those terms mean when applied to the universe as a whole. We say “the universe has a cause” as if it were perfectly legitimate to treat the universe itself as a kind of thing. But things, insofar as we have any cognitive grip on them at all, are all intra-cosmic entities. So here, when it comes to either asserting or denying that the universe has a cause (whatever that cause is!) we have what Wittgenstein would call “language gone on holiday”.

    Allanius @ 100:

    How could someone who called himself a Transcendental Idealist also be a naturalist of the second type? Kant did not agree with Hume that skepticism is king and God should be excluded from science. On the contrary; he tried to sneak God back into science through the “transcendentals.”

    Kant was a synthetic philosopher and follower of Aristotle. The whole point of synthetic philosopy is that it is possible to discern transcendent qualities in immanent being. Without this idea, the constructive philosophy makes no sense whatsoever, and the Transcendental Aesthetic is an absurdity.

    Coleridge and Wordsworth clearly got this. So did Hegel. It’s a mystery why more recent commentators think that Kant the Transcendentalist was an enemy to transcendent being.

    Firstly, I am not a transcendental idealist; that is not part of what I accept from Kant’s system. But I disagree quite strongly with your interpretation of what Kant did say. On my reading, he meant what he said when he said “I found it necessary to restrict knowledge to make room for faith” (Critique of Pure Reason, 2nd ed. Intro). With regards to knowledge, Kant agrees with Hume: all that can be known is restricted to what can be experienced.

    Where Kant differs from Hume, relevant to this issue here, is that Kant thinks that (i) certain concepts have an a priori origin — these being the “categories of the understanding” and (ii) the categories are deployed by Reason to construct “the Ideas of pure reason”: the idea of God, the idea of immortality, and the idea of free will.

    Kant argues that these three ideas (and Kant uses “ideas” as a deliberate nod to Plato, in contrast with Descartes and Locke, who used “idea” to refer to any mental entity at all) have three important features: (1) they must be assumed in order for our rational interest in morality to be reconciled with our creaturely interest in happiness; (2) they cannot be proved or disproved by logic or by experience; (3) they constitute the rational core of religion.

    I can somewhat see where you’re coming from here, but the details really depend on how one reads the Critique of the Power of Judgment (God as the author of nature) in relation to the first two Critiques. Still, it should be stressed that Coleridge and Wordsworth were getting more Hegel than Kant.

    And Hegel is markedly different from Kant on several major points, including the following: Kant clearly did not think that we could have knowledge of the absolute, and Hegel did. So while Kant was no enemy to the concept of a transcendent being, he vehemently denied that we could have any knowledge of such a being. With respect to what we could know, Kant mostly sided with Hume. I say ‘mostly’ because of course Kant rejects “Hume’s fork” and accepts synthetic a priori concepts and judgments. But with regards to knowledge, this does nothing to save theology from Hume’s critique: all it does is salvage mathematics and the foundations of science.

    I’m not even sure that Hume’s criticisms of religion (say, in Dialogues on Natural Religion or the chapters on miracles and on design in the Enquiry are all that different from Kant’s criticisms in the Transcendental Dialectic.

    While we’re on the topic of Hume and Kant, here’s a nice article I thought highly of: “Kant, Hume, Darwin, and Design: Why Intelligent Design Wasn’t Science Before Darwin and Still Isn’t” by Jonathan Loesberg (The Philosophical Forum Volume 38, Issue 2, pages 95–123, Summer 2007). (It’s available here but that might be behind a paywall for most of you.)

  133. 133
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    As we approach death, however, our character solidifies, and after death it is no longer pliable. It is, at that point, totally irreversible. We are what we have made ourselves. For better or worse, our journey is complete. For angels, this process occurs in a split second; for humans, it takes a lifetime. At the end, God simply ratifies the sum total of all our choices. It is we who are doing the driving. Hundreds of times a day we find ways to say, “I want you God” or “I don’t what you God. Finally, God says, “OK, I get it.”

    I was wondering how you would try to wriggle out of that one. Pretty lame, actually. First, it is far from inevitable that our character “solidifies” as we approach death. Many people make major changes in their outlook at an advanced age, particularly when triggered by a major change in circumstances or knowledge (Antony Flew comes to mind), and what greater change can you imagine than dying and going into the afterlife? Many people “mellow out”—become much less driven and more sensitive and kind—when they reach advanced age. Sometimes the mere fact of impending death, whether consciously realized or not, can trigger a major change in character. I personally witnessed this when the ex husband of a woman I know called her two weeks before his death from a heart attack wishing to reconcile after years of animosity. She reported to me that his attitude had “completely changed”, and for the first time he was actually pleasant to talk to.

    And what about people who die in their teens or their twenties, long before their character has solidified due to advanced age? Do they also suddenly become “no longer pliable” with an “irreversible” character? This assertion is so obviously a rationalization that you or someone made up in order to somehow avoid the obvious conclusion that a God who would create a Hell ain’t very loving.

    Second, the attempt fails in any case. The God you portray is not a loving God. A loving God would never give up on a soul, would never say, “OK, I get it.” and then withdraw forever. A loving God would be there forever, with open arms (metaphorically speaking), making it known that whenever the prodigal soul wishes to return He will welcome and embrace her. That’s what love does; that’s what love is!

    Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have had the opportunity to co-exist with God at all.

    Why not? Are you saying that God is powerless to arrange that without having a son and then allowing him to be sacrificed? Sounds like a pretty limited God to me.

  134. 134
    bornagain77 says:

    BD scoffs at the cross:

    “Are you saying that God is powerless to arrange that without having a son and then allowing him to be sacrificed? Sounds like a pretty limited God to me.”

    Seems I remember other people scoffing at the cross:

    Matthew 27:40
    and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”

    Yet,,

    Matthew 26:53
    Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

    What the sinner who has lost all self control to sin readily understands, but the sinner, who does not think he is ‘really’ a sinner, but who is under the delusion that he is controlling his sin does not readily understand, is that Jesus Christ had the full power and authority of heaven to relieve Himself of the horrid torment of the cross but instead chose, because of His love for us, to endure it, in its entirety, willingly, so that he might completely overcome sin, hell and death, in their entirety, for our behalf so that we may be reunited with him. Love is the only proper response on our part.

    Music:

    Natalie Grant – Alive (Resurrection music video)
    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPYWPGNX

    footnote:

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 20, 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

    Shroud of Turin – Carbon 14 test proves to be false – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxDdx6vxthE

    Shroud Of Turin Carbon Dating Overturned By Scientific Peer Review – Robert Villarreal – Press Release video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041193

    Shroud Of Turin – Photographic Negative – 3D Hologram – The Lamb – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5664213/

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

  135. 135
    Mung says:

    “the universe has a cause” as if it were perfectly legitimate to treat the universe itself as a kind of thing. But things, insofar as we have any cognitive grip on them at all, are all intra-cosmic entities. So here, when it comes to either asserting or denying that the universe has a cause (whatever that cause is!) we have what Wittgenstein would call “language gone on holiday”.

    The problem with this analysis is in treating the argument as if it is about “the universe” having a cause. The universe did not always exist. At the first moment of it’s existence in what sense was it “the universe”? It only became the universe later, from our perspective. So yes, language gone on holiday indeed. 🙂

    The argument is about the coming into existence of prior non-existent entities. A contingent entity demands a cause.

  136. 136
    Mung says:

    The soul in hell cannot change her mind.

    The soul on earth cannot change her mind, if you’re a Calvinist.

    My point being, what difference does the location of the soul make? When God casts someone into hell he removes their free will? He removes their ability to repent? He doesn’t extend his grace towards them?

    Heck, he can do that while they are still on earth. I’d call that being in hell.

  137. 137
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    BD scoffs at the cross

    I did not scoff at the cross. I asked a legitimate question: Given Stephen’s assertions that 1) “God made us for himself, which means that we can find happiness only in Him”, and 2) that the decision to “coexist” with God is a choice made by each human being (“Part of that image [the soul] consists in the ability to make free choices and, ultimately, to decide with whom we would prefer to co-exist for all eternity.”), why does Stephen say, “Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have had the opportunity to co-exist with God at all.”?

    In other words, what is it that makes it impossible for God to simply allow those who choose to coexist with God for all eternity to do so? What limitation in Him exists that He needed to sacrifice His son to make this possible?

  138. 138
    bornagain77 says:

    “I did not scoff at the cross.”

    Yet,,

    “Are you saying that God is powerless to arrange that without having a son and then allowing him to be sacrificed? Sounds like a pretty limited God to me.”

    Seems like you are scoffing to me. Dang seems to me that you are proclaiming yourself to be wiser than God. But hey what does such a disagreement between the inner knowing of a couple of perfect beings really matter huh BD?

  139. 139
    Box says:

    @128
    bornagain77
    I believe:
    Each of us lives and dies many times; reincarnation. Earth is a place where we learn and grow. We have to learn how to handle our faculties; reason, feelings etc. We are wholes and can by our very nature only temporarily go astray. We make mistakes but our very nature leads us towards unity with ourselves. So every human being is moving towards perfect awareness, although it’s a bumpy road. At the end of the road there is enlightenment for each of us. Willing or not, at the end we all will reach the state of being in perfect harmony and understanding of ourselves.

  140. 140
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Mung @ 135:

    I really don’t know what exactly I should say here. On the one hand, I of course think, “yes, obviously, every contingent entity must have a cause — that’s just the principle of sufficient reason!” On the other hand, I wonder — why must a contingent entity have an explanation? Why couldn’t contingent entities just be contingent, for no reason at all? I mean, look, I’m of a philosophical bent, and I understand how invocations of brute contingency are profoundly intellectually unsatisfying. But so what? Maybe the correct response is, “so much the worse for our intellectual satisfactions!”

    In re: Mung @ 98:
    With regards to abiogenesis, again, look, I’m not a biochemist or abiogenesis researcher, and maybe there are profound problems with my thought above. I don’t have answers to all of these questions. No one does. All I can do is work as hard I as I can, with the limited cognitive equipment I have, to work out the answers that best survive rational scrutiny in the community of inquirers. I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job so far.

  141. 141
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Seems like you are scoffing to me. Dang seems to me that you are proclaiming yourself to be wiser than God.

    Then you are not very perceptive. I am not questioning God’s wisdom at all. I am questioning the internal consistency of Stephen’s stated beliefs about God. Big difference.

  142. 142
    Bruce David says:

    Box: re 139:

    Well put. I would add to your last sentence, “Willing or not, at the end we all will reach the state of being in perfect harmony and understanding of ourselves,” that we will also be in perfect harmony and understanding of God, our true relationship to God, and the nature of reality.

  143. 143
    bornagain77 says:

    “I am questioning the internal consistency of Stephen’s stated beliefs about God.”

    as to this?

    ‘What limitation in Him exists that He needed to sacrifice His son to make this possible?”

    The limitation is not in God, the limitation was in humans to overcome death!

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    “Since we, God’s children, are human beings – made of flesh and blood – He became flesh and blood too by being born in human form; for only as a human being could He die and in dying break the power of the devil who had the power of death. Only in that way could He deliver those who through fear of death have been living all their lives as slaves to constant dread.”

    notes:

    If scientists want to find the source for the supernatural light which made the “3D – photographic negative” image on the Shroud I suggest they look to the thousands of documented Near-Death Experiences (NDE’s) in Judeo-Christian cultures. It is in their testimonies that you will find mention of an indescribably bright ‘Light’ or ‘Being of Light’ who is always described as being of a much brighter intensity of light than the people had ever seen before.

    All people who have been in the presence of ‘The Being of Light’, while having a deep NDE, have no doubt whatsoever that the ‘The Being of Light’ they were in the presence of is none other than ‘The Lord God Almighty’ of heaven and earth.

    In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045544

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffery Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

  144. 144
    Box says:

    Bruce David: re 142
    An excellent addition.
    Our positions differ however in regard to the learning process at hand. I believe that human beings move from real unawareness of ourselves (e.g. not being able to think correctly) towards perfect awareness and control of ourselves. In your concept the learning process is more limited, because there is just one defect.

  145. 145
    StephenB says:

    Bruce

    Many people make major changes in their outlook at an advanced age

    A few, not many. Selfishness and self-centeredness do not usually reverse themselves, and it never happens without God’s grace.

    Many people “mellow out”—become much less driven and more sensitive and kind—when they reach advanced age.

    The character doesn’t change so much as age forces selfishness or unselfishness to take on a new texture. When, for example, the selfish person moving away from God is young, lust tends to rule. When passions wane, or when they are overindulged in, the selfishness of lust transforms into the pride of a middle-age power grab, which, in turn, tends to replaced by the clutching avarice of old age. In each case, the intensity of the selfishness increases and the heart continues to harden.

    I personally witnessed this when the ex husband of a woman I know called her two weeks before his death from a heart attack wishing to reconcile after years of animosity. She reported to me that his attitude had “completely changed”, and for the first time he was actually pleasant to talk to.

    As I wrote, “Still, it can be done because the grace of God is available even up to the last moment.” Context, context, context!

    And what about people who die in their teens or their twenties, long before their character has solidified due to advanced age? Do they also suddenly become “no longer pliable” with an “irreversible” character?

    Some do, some don’t. A young person who is dying is far more likely to change than an old person who is dying. So, the young person still has the opportunity to give one final yes or no to God. No one goes to Hell except through voluntary fault. No one will ever be able to say to God, “you didn’t give me enough time or enough information.” A loving God is a fair God.

    This assertion is so obviously a rationalization that you or someone made up in order to somehow avoid the obvious conclusion that a God who would create a Hell ain’t very loving.

    We know from experience that selfishness is inflationary and that hearts tend to harden over time. In any case, you have not addressed the question: Where are people supposed to go who want nothing to do with God?

    Second, the attempt fails in any case. The God you portray is not a loving God. A loving God would never give up on a soul, would never say, “OK, I get it.”

    God never gives up on a soul. He has not given up on you. That is why you are here right now, so that you can be released from the chains of Gnosticism. (Yes, your “novel” belief is just a warmed over version of the Gnostic heresy) After death, however, he will honor the choice that you have made and say, “OK, I get it.” Sooner or later, we all run out of time. It will be the same with you.

    A loving God would be there forever, with open arms (metaphorically speaking), making it known that whenever the prodigal soul wishes to return He will welcome and embrace her.

    He will welcome and embrace you–until you die–at which time, He will honor you decision.

    That’s what love does; that’s what love is!

    Love doesn’t just cuddle, it also issues warnings of impending danger. The most unloving thing a person can do is to say nothing while someone else is rushing headlong into destruction.

  146. 146
    bornagain77 says:

    Box all I can do is to sincerely warn you, as I have warned BD many times, that the eastern cultures which root deep belief in the evolution of the soul (in reincarnation) are the cultures which are found to have the most horrendous NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    Near Death Experience Thailand Asia – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8M5J3zWG5g

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand: Discussion of case histories By Todd Murphy, 1999:
    Excerpt: We would suggest that the near-constant comparisons with the most frequently reported types of NDEs tends to blind researchers to the features of NDEs which are absent in these NDEs. Tunnels are rare, if not absent. The panoramic Life Review appears to be absent. Instead, our collection shows people reviewing just a few karmically-significant incidents. Perhaps they symbolize behavioral tendencies, the results of which are then experienced as determinative of their rebirths. These incidents are read out to them from a book. There is no Being of Light in these Thai NDEs, although The Buddha does appear in a symbolic form, in case #6. Yama is present during this truncated Life Review, as is the Being of Light during Western life reviews, but Yama is anything but a being of light. In popular Thai depictions, he is shown as a wrathful being, and is most often remembered in Thai culture for his power to condemn one to hell. Some of the functions of Angels and guides are also filled by Yamatoots. They guide, lead tours of hell, and are even seen to grant requests made by the experient.
    http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....4&amp

    You can integrate eastern beliefs into your worldview if you want Box, but as for myself, I’m sticking close to home to my Judeo-Christian roots.

    further note:

    Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife – Dr. Eben Alexander – Oct 8, 2012
    Excerpt: One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....rlife.html

    Now Box, it seems incredible to me that people who believe reincarnation trust in God’s love so much as to not believe that He would ever allow anyone to go to hell, yet on the other hand they will not trust in God’s love enough to believe that he would openly display His love for us by defeat sin and death on the cross, on our behalf, so that we may reunited with him.,,, To me that makes perfect sense as to what God would do for those who are separated from Him.

  147. 147
    Bruce David says:

    KN:

    I really don’t know what exactly I should say here. On the one hand, I of course think, “yes, obviously, every contingent entity must have a cause — that’s just the principle of sufficient reason!” On the other hand, I wonder — why must a contingent entity have an explanation? Why couldn’t contingent entities just be contingent, for no reason at all? I mean, look, I’m of a philosophical bent, and I understand how invocations of brute contingency are profoundly intellectually unsatisfying. But so what? Maybe the correct response is, “so much the worse for our intellectual satisfactions!”

    I think you have given an excellent example of why it is that “rational” arguments generally fail to convince people who don’t already share the beliefs of those who are making the arguments. There has to be agreement on the basic principles (axioms, in mathematical terms) from which conclusions are drawn in order for inferences to be persuasive. As often as not, the basic principles of the one making the argument are implicit and thus not even apparent.

    With regards to abiogenesis, again, look, I’m not a biochemist or abiogenesis researcher, and maybe there are profound problems with my thought above. I don’t have answers to all of these questions. No one does. All I can do is work as hard I as I can, with the limited cognitive equipment I have, to work out the answers that best survive rational scrutiny in the community of inquirers. I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job so far.

    As a philosopher, I think it would behoove you to look more deeply into the question of abiogenesis. It’s more than just a question of not having the answers. There is very strong evidence that life simply could not have arisen through naturalistic means. If this is true, then it has profound implications for one’s metaphysical position. Antony Flew abandoned his lifelong belief in and advocacy of atheism in favor of deism based on this issue and the “fine tuning” of the physical and cosmological constants.

    The question is, are you committed enough to your search for truth to be willing to put your basic philosophical position on the line and follow the evidence wherever it leads? If so, I would recommend Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer, as well as this article by Paul Davies and Sarah Walker (It’s a free download).

  148. 148
    StephenB says:

    Mung

    My point being, what difference does the location of the soul make? When God casts someone into hell he removes their free will? He removes their ability to repent? He doesn’t extend his grace towards them?

    It isn’t the location of soul that makes the difference but rather its disposition to receive the grace. We are all becoming something and, sooner or later, we will be what we become. People in hell have, by virtue of having abused their gift of free will, become the kind of person who can no longer receive or respond to grace. God had nothing to do with it.

  149. 149
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen, re 145:

    Nothing you have said gives any kind of justification for your assertion that death solidifies one’s character, that the soul is unable to make any changes after that point.

    It’s pure rationalization, Stephen, a transparent attempt to have it both ways—belief in a loving God and a belief in Hell. It doesn’t work.

    You still haven’t answered my question regarding why, given your stated beliefs, “Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have had the opportunity to co-exist with God at all.”

  150. 150
    Bruce David says:

    Box:

    In your concept the learning process is more limited, because there is just one defect.

    Why do you say this? What is the “one defect” to which you refer?

  151. 151
    Box says:

    Bornagain77: re 146
    Thank you for warning me. Like I said I appreciate your postings very much and admire your passion.
    I do not have any warnings for you. All will be well. Let’s trust in God and ourselves.

  152. 152
    Mung says:

    People in hell have, by virtue of having abused their gift of free will, become the kind of person who can no longer receive or respond to grace. God had nothing to do with it.

    I assume you mean that they took that position before ending up in hell and that is the cause of their being in hell.

    But again, if that’s the case, they were beyond God’s grace (effectively in hell) while still not yet in hell (actually).

    So I ask again, what’s the point of saying once they are in hell they are beyond changing their mind (The soul in hell cannot change her mind). That was the case before they ever got there. That’s why they are in hell.

  153. 153
    Box says:

    @150

    Bruce David: Why do you say this? What is the “one defect” to which you refer?

    You wrote (129): “God, in His transcendent state, knows He is magnificent, but He cannot experience this (…)”.
    I was referring to this defect; the defect of not being able to experience his magnificence. I was assuming that this was the only defect. In my concept the scope of the learning process for human beings covers a lot more ground.

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist:

    I think we have a pretty good handle on what “cause” and “effect” mean when applied to events within the universe, but I worry that we don’t really know what those terms mean when applied to the universe as a whole. We say “the universe has a cause” as if it were perfectly legitimate to treat the universe itself as a kind of thing. But things, insofar as we have any cognitive grip on them at all, are all intra-cosmic entities. So here, when it comes to either asserting or denying that the universe has a cause (whatever that cause is!) we have what Wittgenstein would call “language gone on holiday”.

    Excuse me, please, but I think that this position represents an attempted escape from rationality. The laws of thought are universal; they are not limited to the physical universe. How could it be otherwise? Consider the law of non-contradiction (psychology and epistemology) and the law of identity (ontology). Can Jupiter exist and not exist at the same time? We already know that the answer to that question, psychologically, epistemologically, and ontologically, is no. It would not matter whether Jupiter was inside or outside the universe, or the solar system, or any other system]. That is why we can also say, with confidence, that God cannot both exist and not exist at the same time. For Aristotle, or any rational personal, the location or state of existence of the thing in question is irrelevant to the question.

    So it is with the law of causality, which is logically connected to the law of identity. The location or state of existence is, again, irrelevant. If this was not the case, then there would be no such thing as rationality and there would be no reason to even make an attempt at rational discourse. This is where atheism goes off the rails. When Hume doubted the unbreakable connection between cause and effect, he was, in effect, abandoning reason. Indeed, the only way to challenge the existence of a self-existent, first cause is to deny reason’s rules. According to the evidence, the universe began to exist; it is not eternal. To question the existence of a prior or antecedent cause, therefore, is to militate against reason itself. It has nothing to do with “language taking a holiday.” If you don’t believe that, then you have nothing in common with Aristotle. Sorry.

  155. 155
    Phinehas says:

    [A) If God -> Revelation is possible -> Truth (writ large) is within reach

    B) If only flawed and limited beings -> ?????]

    Actually, I agree with A and not B. My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting and then slowly over many lifetimes remembering Who We Really Are.

    Do you believe in God of the personal/omniscient/omnipresent kind? (What other kind could there be worthy of the name?) Or do you think “God” is a perfect concept (like the circle) who doesn’t actually exist?

    In order for this to work, there must be access to our essential nature, which does know the truth, but the access must be neither too easy nor impossible. This is what I refer to as our “inner knowing” of which BA is so disdainful.

    There must be? Are you sure? Must is an awfully strong word. Why is it impossible that revelation could come from an external source and not an internal one? Because your “inner knowing” tells you so? It might appear to an outsider that the circularity in such a belief isn’t limited to our life cycles.

    As we experience many lifetimes, our ability to access our inner knowing becomes surer and surer, and it is this capacity that allows us to recognize valid revelation.

    So what accounts for differences in one’s sureness and ability to recognize revelation? The sheer number of lifetimes one has experienced? So, someone like me simply got a later start? BTW, when and how did all of this get started?

    I can’t speak for previous lifetimes, but I have to say that in this particular lifetime, I seem to be growing less sure about my ability to access my inner knowing. Is that possible? What if someone becomes less and less sure over many lifetimes?

    So do I have perfect access to my own inner knowing at this stage of my evolution? No. But there are some things of which I am very, very sure, and one of them is that a perfectly loving being would never create a Hell.

    Are all revelations not created equally? Other than your “inner knowing” is there anything else whatsoever that can verify the veracity of a revelation?

    I’m reminded of the OT prophets. The people of Israel were actually given a litmus test for determining which prophets were God’s prophets and which ones were false prophets. If someone prophesied about the future and what they had prophesied did not come to pass, then they were a false prophet. Then there was the showdown between Elijah and the false prophets in which God rained down fire on Elijah’s sacrifice.

    Of course, in the NT, eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection helped validate the Truth of a new revelation.

    It sure would be nice to have something a bit more practical to hang onto when it comes to one’s “inner knowing.” Is there anything on offer?

  156. 156
    StephenB says:

    Mung:

    I assume you mean that they took that position before ending up in hell and that is the cause of their being in hell.

    Not exactly. Prior to actually being in hell, they were becoming progressively committed to their radical selfishness and on their way to Hell, but the door was still open for reversal.

    But again, if that’s the case, they were beyond God’s grace (effectively in hell) while still not yet in hell (actually).

    To simply be a candidate for Hell and not yet be there is to still have the opportunity to escape it.

    So I ask again, what’s the point of saying once they are in hell they are beyond changing their mind (The soul in hell cannot change her mind). That was the case before they ever got there. That’s why they are in hell.

    If any person, whether young and pliable or old and rigid, is close to death, God would likely provide him with one last chance to make a final decision to remain selfish and self-centered or to change course and begin to love others as self. Whatever the circumstances, anyone in hell has, by virtue of that final prior decision, locked in their character forever and will never again be able to repent. It is not God’s refusal to give them another chance that keeps them in Hell, rather it is (was) their prior decision to become the kind of person that can no longer repent. By virtue of that final decision to be their own God, their hatred of the real God has become intractable, which means that they are no longer candidates for heaven. They would be even more miserable in heaven than in hell since they hate God, their perceived competitor, even more than they hate hell. As Milton ascribed to the prince of fallen angels, “Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven.”

  157. 157
    bornagain77 says:

    It is very interesting how Theodicy (reconciling an infinitely good God with evil) has an overriding influence on worldviews. Both Darwinism and BD’s and Box’s worldviews have very peculiar ways of dealing with the problem of evil. First I will look at how Darwinism has dealt with the problem of evil. I was very interested to learn that neo-Darwinism is at its core not a proper science but is, in fact, primarily a Theodicy,,,

    The Descent of Darwin – Pastor Joe Boot – (The Theodicy of Darwinism) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKJqk7xF4-g

    Charles Darwin, Theologian: Major New Article on Darwin’s Use of Theology in the Origin of Species – May 2011
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....46391.html

    “In science’s pecking order, evolutionary biology lurks somewhere near the bottom, far closer to phrenology than to physics. For evolutionary biology is a historical science, laden with history’s inevitable imponderables. We evolutionary biologists cannot generate a Cretaceous Park to observe exactly what killed the dinosaurs; and, unlike “harder” scientists, we usually cannot resolve issues with a simple experiment, such as adding tube A to tube B and noting the color of the mixture.”
    ? Jerry A. Coyne – professor of evolution at the University of Chicago

    Anti-Science Irony
    Excerpt: In response to a letter from Asa Gray, professor of biology at Harvard University, Darwin declared: “I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science.” Darwin was “anti-Science”.
    When questioned further by Gray, Darwin confirmed Gray’s suspicions: “What you hint at generally is very, very true: that my work is grievously hypothetical, and large parts are by no means worthy of being called induction.” Darwin had turned against the use of scientific principles in developing his theory of evolution.
    http://www.darwinthenandnow.co.....nce-irony/

    Is evolution pseudoscience?
    Excerpt:,,, Thus, of the ten characteristics of pseudoscience listed in the Skeptic’s Dictionary, evolution meets nine. Few other pseudosciences – astrology, astral projection, alien abduction, crystal power, or whatever — would meet so many.
    http://creation.com/is-evolution-pseudoscience

    “nobody to date has yet found a demarcation criterion according to which Darwin(ism) can be described as scientific” – Imre Lakatos (November 9, 1922 – February 2, 1974) a philosopher of mathematics and science, quote was as stated in 1973 LSE Scientific Method Lecture

    The ultimate solution to the Theodicy at the core of Darwinian thought is to say that God and thus the problem of evil does not really exist in reality. But this line of thought for dealing with the problem of evil leads to a logical contradiction as Dr. Hunter notes here:

    “The strength of materialism is that it obviates the problem of evil altogether. God need not be reconciled with evil, because neither exists. Therefore the problem of evil is no problem at all.,,, And of course since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil-the very thing the materialist seems to deny. The argument (from Theodicy) that led to materialism is exhausted just when it is needed most. In other words, the problem of evil is only generated by the prior claims that evil exists. One cannot then conclude, with Dawkins, that there is ‘no evil and no good’ in the universe.,,,
    The fact that evolution’s acceptance hinges on a theological position would, for many, be enough to expel it from science. But evolution’s reliance on metaphysics is not its worst failing. Evolution’s real problem is not its metaphysics but its denial of its metaphysics.,,,
    Cornelius Hunter – Darwin’s God – pg. 154 & 159
    http://www.amazon.com/Darwins-.....1587430118

    Perhaps many may not believe that scientists would resort to using the problem of evil to justify a supposedly scientific theory but here are some instances where just exactly that has occurred:

    Here, at about the 55:00 minute mark in the following video, Phillip Johnson sums up his ‘excellent’ lecture by noting that the refutation of his book, ‘Darwin On Trial’, in the Journal Nature, the most prestigious science journal in the world, was a theological argument about what God would and would not do and therefore Darwinism must be true, and the critique was not a refutation based on any substantiating scientific evidence for Darwinism that one would be expected to be brought forth in such a prestigious venue to support such a supposedly well supported scientific theory:

    Darwinism On Trial (Phillip E. Johnson) – lecture video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwj9h9Zx6Mw

    In this following video Dr. William Lane Craig is surprised to find that evolutionary biologist Dr. Ayala uses theological argumentation in his book to support Darwinism and invites him to present evidence, any evidence, that Darwinism can do what he claims it can:

    The Viability of Intelligent Design 3/3 – Craig vs. Ayala
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIzdieauxZg

    And here Dr. Avise uses Theodicy:

    It Is Unfathomable That a Loving Higher Intelligence Created the Species – Cornelius Hunter
    Excerpt: Approximately 0.1% of humans who survive to birth carry a duplicon-related disability, meaning that several million people worldwide currently are afflicted by this particular subcategory of inborn metabolic errors. Many more afflicted individuals probably die in utero before their conditions are diagnosed. Clearly, humanity bears a substantial health burden from duplicon-mediated genomic malfunctions. This inescapable empirical truth is as understandable in the light of mechanistic genetic operations as it is unfathomable as the act of a loving higher intelligence. [112]
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....it-is.html

    There you have it. Evil exists and a loving higher intelligence wouldn’t have done it that way.

    What’s more ironic is that Dr. Avise’s theological argumentation from mutations for Darwinism turns out to be, in fact (without Darwinian Theological blinders on), a very powerful ‘scientific’ argument against Darwinism:

    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....1609724285

  158. 158
    StephenB says:

    Bruce

    Nothing you have said gives any kind of justification for your assertion that death solidifies one’s character, that the soul is unable to make any changes after that point.

    It is the accumulation of decisions and actions that solidifies one’s character. Death removes the opportunity to reverse the process. Insofar as man’s final destiny is concerned, what one is at death is what one will always be.

    Sow a thought; reap an act

    Sow and act; reap a habit.

    Sow a habit; reap a character

    Sow a character; reap a destiny.

    It’s pure rationalization, Stephen, a transparent attempt to have it both ways—belief in a loving God and a belief in Hell. It doesn’t work.

    You have not yet answered my question: What does a loving God do with those who don’t want anything to do with Him? If you address that point, you will understand why Hell is consistent with a loving God.

    You still haven’t answered my question regarding why, given your stated beliefs, “Without Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not have had the opportunity to co-exist with God at all.

    When our first parents sinned against God by refusing to obey Him, they destroyed the bond of love and trust between the Creator and His creatures. As finite beings, they did not have the standing to restore that relationship. It was necessary for God Himself to become man so that that relationship could be restored. It is only by virtue of, and in association with, that restored relationship that we can hope to co-exist with God in heaven.

  159. 159
    bornagain77 says:

    Now BD’s and Box’s solution to the problem of evil is to, like Darwinism, deny that objective evil really exists, but unlike Darwinism, maintain that an infinitely loving and powerful God exists. This leads to a logical contradiction in that no action can be said to be a ‘duty’. i.e. If whatever we do or however things turn out it is all perfectly good in the end anyway, and is really just for a learning experience for ‘the evolution of our souls’, how then can any reincarnation belief demand of us any specific duty for what is morally right or morally wrong? There simply isn’t any warrant within the belief system for condemning the actions of another as evil (Hitler, Sandy Hook killer) for their actions, that may seem evil to us, only appear that way and are not really so for they could very well be merely ‘perfectly good’ learning experiences. I hold that it is impossible for any human to live consistently within this belief system in which justice does not have real purchase. (Though I’m sure many have tried to live consistently in it and failed). The belief system is basically at its core Denialism of the reality around us. i.e. if everything, even our learning experiences, is really perfect or good, then everything which exists ought to be perfect or good; a conclusion which seems wholly counter to our common experience that much in the world is very far from being so.

  160. 160
    Box says:

    @158

    StephenB: It is the accumulation of decisions and actions that solidifies one’s character. Death removes the opportunity to reverse the process. Insofar as man’s final destiny is concerned, what one is at death is what one will always be.

    Why would that be? I think we both agree that there are consciousness and experiences after death. Experiences impact feelings and thoughts and so change people. What horrid mechanism is at work at the moment of death so this is all changed?

  161. 161
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas:

    Do you believe in God of the personal/omniscient/omnipresent kind?

    Yes.

    Why is it impossible that revelation could come from an external source and not an internal one??

    I don’t believe that. What I said was that there are multiple conflicting claimants to the title of revelation, and I named a few, which would be classified as external sources—the Bible, the Koran, the Buddhist scriptures, the Hindu holy books, The Book of Mormon, the Conversations with God series. The question is how does one choose which, if any to accept as genuine revelation? I believe that one’s inner knowing, provided that one is able to access that faculty in this particular lifetime, is the surest resource with which to make that decision.

    So what accounts for differences in one’s sureness and ability to recognize revelation? The sheer number of lifetimes one has experienced?

    I believe that it is a combination of the number of lifetimes and how well we have used them. Different souls choose to progress at different speeds. Faster is not necessarily better, by the way. Some souls are eager to progress, others prefer to enjoy the ride at a more leisurely pace.

    BTW, when and how did all of this get started?

    God did it. Beyond that, I don’t know. I would add that time as we experience it is a feature of this physical universe. Those who have or have had access to the non-physical realms and have been able to tell about it (people having experienced NDEs, channeled entities, God in the Conversations series) report that time doesn’t exist in those realms, that there is only an eternal NOW in which everything occurs. Don’t ask me to explain this; I don’t fully understand it.

    I can’t speak for previous lifetimes, but I have to say that in this particular lifetime, I seem to be growing less sure about my ability to access my inner knowing. Is that possible?

    I suppose. But maybe it’s just that my meaning for the phrase “inner knowing” is lost in the translation from my mind through the words on our screens to your mind. Maybe you simply don’t recognize when you access the “still, small voice” that is your inner knowing.

    Are all revelations not created equally? Other than your “inner knowing” is there anything else whatsoever that can verify the veracity of a revelation?

    For you, it isn’t my inner knowing that’s important, it is your own. How do you verify the veracity of a claimant to revelation if not through your own felt sense that “This is true.”?

  162. 162
    bornagain77 says:

    Box asks:

    “What horrid mechanism is at work at the moment of death so this is all changed?”

    I don’t know if I would call it ‘horrid’, yet from a scientific perspective there is a ‘mechanism of eternity’ ones enters into upon death:

    as noted here:

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    Moreover Box, there are two very different qualities of eternity between special relativity and general relativity as noted here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-441792

    It is also interesting to note that special relativity is found to ‘merge’ with quantum mechanics whereas general relativity does not ‘merge’ with quantum mechanics:

    Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity
    Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.
    In the 1960s and ’70s, the success of QED prompted other physicists to try an analogous approach to unifying the weak, the strong, and the gravitational forces. Out of these discoveries came another set of theories that merged the strong and weak forces called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, and quantum electroweak theory, or simply the electroweak theory, which you’ve already been introduced to.
    If you examine the forces and particles that have been combined in the theories we just covered, you’ll notice that the obvious force missing is that of gravity.
    http://www.infoplease.com/cig/.....ivity.html

    Moreover, not to get into to many details, but Christ offers a very credible reconciliation between the two differing eternities of General and Special relativity here:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/5070355
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Thus, as far as science can tell us, there are two very different eternities and Christ is the bridge between them:

    John 14:6
    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

  163. 163
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB @ 154

    The principle of logic hold for all possible worlds, including those worlds that are empty (contain no entities), but that’s completely different from saying that there are entities which necessarily exist. I don’t see the contradiction between affirming the necessity of the principles of logic themselves and the contingency (non-necessity) of all particular entities, because logical principles aren’t entities.

    On a minor point: Hume’s position on causality wasn’t that there isn’t causation, and it wasn’t that we don’t believe in causation, but that we couldn’t justify our belief in causation. That’s why he concludes that our belief in causation is grounded in mere psychological propensities, what he calls ‘habit or custom’.

    Now, I should hasten to add, I agree with Kant against Hume, obviously; I agree with Kant that the general causal principle (GCP), “every event must have a cause” is valid a priori. But, I also hasten to add, Kant is also careful to stipulate that this holds for events, and events are temporal (and also, I think, spatial, though Kant doesn’t insist on that).

    So I take the GCP to read, “every spatio-temporal event must have some cause”, and that’s valid a priori. But the origin of the universe, as the origin of space and time, could not itself have been in space and time. So I don’t think the GCP can apply to the universe as a whole. To treat the GCP as applying to the universe as a whole amounts to treating the universe itself as an object embedded within some larger spatio-temporal framework. So there is a space outside of space, and a time outside of time? That doesn’t make any sense!

    Of course I accept the consensus view of contemporary cosmology, that the universe is of a finite age. (13.6 billion years, according to the last time I checked.) But I don’t think that we can get to “the cause of the universe” by applying the GCP to the universe as a whole.

  164. 164
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    It is the accumulation of decisions and actions that solidifies one’s character. Death removes the opportunity to reverse the process.

    That doesn’t justify the assertion; it merely restates it. I repeat, you have given no warrant for that belief.

    You have not yet answered my question: What does a loving God do with those who don’t want anything to do with Him? If you address that point, you will understand why Hell is consistent with a loving God.

    I can easily accept that some souls might choose to exist separate from God, and that God would not interfere with that choice. What you have given no warrant for is the assertion that such a state would be permanent, that souls could not change their minds, and that a loving God would not take them back if they did so.

    When our first parents sinned against God by refusing to obey Him, they destroyed the bond of love and trust between the Creator and His creatures. As finite beings, they did not have the standing to restore that relationship. It was necessary for God Himself to become man so that that relationship could be restored.

    Why? God is omnipotent, is He not? Why didn’t He have the power simply to forgive? What prevented Him from doing that? Why was it necessary to go through all the rigmarole of “becoming man” to restore the relationship? For that matter, what do the actions of my remotest ancestors have to do with my relationship with God, anyway?

    It’s all sophistry, Stephen. Nothing more than a lot of statements which cannot be justified whose sole purpose is to defend an orthodoxy which makes no sense when one examines it closely.

  165. 165
    Mung says:

    KN:

    Of course I accept the consensus view of contemporary cosmology, that the universe is of a finite age. (13.6 billion years, according to the last time I checked.)

    I should think that the universe is therefore temporal by definition.

  166. 166
    Bruce David says:

    KN, re 163:
    That was very well argued. My hat’s off to you, even though I actually agree with Stephen on this one.

  167. 167
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I should think that the universe is therefore temporal by definition.

    Yes, but that doesn’t make the origin of the universe itself a temporal event.

  168. 168
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Thanks, Bruce David — I do what I can! 🙂

  169. 169
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    For you, it isn’t my inner knowing that’s important, it is your own. How do you verify the veracity of a claimant to revelation if not through your own felt sense that “This is true.”?

    Evidence. Miracles, signs, wonders, or plausible eyewitness accounts of such. Fulfilled prophesies. Correspondence between proposed reality and what is observed. Accuracy in describing the human condition. And the witness of the Spirit of God.

    Actually, in thinking on what sort of prophesy or miracle would help me believe a revelation, I think the explanatory filter might come in quite handy. If chance and necessity can be ruled out, you’ve definitely got my attention.

    As far as inner knowing goes, I tend to believe that the heart is deceitful and exceedingly rotten, so I hesitate to trust much of what it offers up. As I said previously, this particular lifetime has led me away from trusting my inner knowing and toward trusting what is transcendent. In fact, if my inner knowing has learned anything, it’s how little it knows.

    I also believe that God defines good, not my inner knowing, and if He created hell, then that’s a good thing whether I particularly understand it or not.

  170. 170
    MrMosis says:

    KN:

    Now, I should hasten to add, I agree with Kant against Hume, obviously; I agree with Kant that the general causal principle (GCP), “every event must have a cause” is valid a priori. But, I also hasten to add, Kant is also careful to stipulate that this holds for events, and events are temporal (and also, I think, spatial, though Kant doesn’t insist on that).

    I used to struggle with how to think about this, though I have never actually studied it too seriously. But I think my hang ups used to look exactly as you describe your thoughts in 163. I think that my thinking about causality used to be anchored in material and efficient terms, to the exlusion of other perspectives. I think we can look at our spatio-temporal, every-day-world and life to see when it becomes deficient. If you are a reductionist-materialist sort, I think you can make the claims about causal “forces” “preceding” the universe being unknowlable, or nonsensical. In fact you might point to the very use of the word “preceding” to illustrate the fact. But given you are not such a rigid naturalist, I am not sure why you are not more open to a broader concept of causality, particularly given your admiration for Aristotle.

    It seems to me that more of reality is coherent if one adopts the view that causality enables, facilities, precedes space and time, rather than space and time giving rise to causality. To say otherwise is to prematurely shut down legitmite perspective and forms of inquiry, just as a reductionist might do in investigating life.

    Even prominent spokespersons for such [limited] views like Hawking and Kraus will say that a universe can be caused by fluctuations in quantum gravity vacuum fields and some such, except, they are not really CAUSED of course. Well which is it? Giving them the entailments of their mathematical models (without their associated unwarranted speculations and non-philosophical philosophizing), it seems entirely reasonable to say that the existence and nature of the quantum gravity vacuum field CAUSED/led to the universe’s beginning. So now, rather than the universe as we experience it having a necessary existence, we have simply pushed it back a level to say that its “precursor” is actually what is necessary. (Do they stop there, assuming that the gravity fields do not warrant explanation? I am not sure. Is it a better place to rest necessary existence than a mindful necessary being? I for one can’t see why.)

  171. 171
    StephenB says:

    Box

    I think we both agree that there are consciousness and experiences after death.

    We do, indeed, agree on that point.

    Experiences impact feelings and thoughts and so change people. What horrid mechanism is at work at the moment of death so this is all changed?

    We form and shape our minds and wills in this world and, eventually what we are shaping hardens into a permanent state of existence in much the same way that molded clay is made permanent. In the process, we decide which goals are worth pursuing, what values are worth loving, and who, if anyone, we will serve.

    These decisions can be, for a while, tentative and soft, but over time, as they are tempered and tested through trials, temptations, joys, disappointments, successes, and failures, a pattern begins to emerge–the goods in process are starting to become the finished clay. The more we build, the harder becomes to change the shape of the clay. To be sure, it can happen but it becomes increasingly difficult to do.

    After death, it is impossible to change the shape of the clay because our final decision to not repent has made it too hard to reshape. Even if the clay was not hard, that is, even if we had the disposition to change, the opportunity for change has passed. We have also entered a new environment where the raw materials with which the builder could once have shapde his traits into a God-like character are no longer present: We cannot choose chastity over lust because there are no sexy bodies to provide the occasion for overcoming temptation; we cannot choose generosity over miserliness because we have no assets either to hoard or distribute; we cannot choose God over the world because the world is no longer available to us.

    One way or the other, we are what we have become. If we have made the wrong choices, our fate is sealed. As Dante described the warning at the entrance of Hell’s gates: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

  172. 172
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas:

    In fact, if my inner knowing has learned anything, it’s how little it knows.

    For what it’s worth, in the spiritual traditions with which I am familiar, realizing that one knows nothing is the first step towards real knowledge. It has to do with understanding, finally, what knowledge is, thus opening the way for the veils to be lifted.

    I also believe that God defines good, not my inner knowing, and if He created hell, then that’s a good thing whether I particularly understand it or not.

    The question is not whether Hell is a good thing, given that He created it. The question is, did He, could He in His perfect love, create a Hell? My answer is “No.” Not because I know God so well, but because I know what love is.

  173. 173
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    We cannot choose chastity over lust because there are no sexy bodies to provide the occasion for overcoming temptation; we cannot choose generosity over miserliness because we have no assets either to hoard or distribute; we cannot choose God over the world because the world is no longer available to us.

    Sex actually exists even when we don’t have a physical body (see Journeys Out of the Body by Robert Monroe).

    Generosity is not limited to sharing material things. One can be generous with one’s time, one’s attention, one’s love, or one’s praise, to name a few.

    We can choose to be with God or not, as you have already stated. You just claim for no real reason that that choice is denied once we die.

  174. 174
    bornagain77 says:

    Phinehas you state:

    “Actually, in thinking on what sort of prophesy or miracle would help me believe a revelation, I think the explanatory filter might come in quite handy. If chance and necessity can be ruled out, you’ve definitely got my attention.”

    This one definitely got my attention:

    Restoration Of Israel and Jerusalem In Prophecy (Doing The Math) – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8598581

    Of related note, and extremely fitting to the Mayan calender “end of the world’ hype going around, is this. It may surprise some to learn that the biblical ‘prophetic’ calender is more accurate than our modern day ‘scientific’ calender. The Gregorian calender uses a fairly complex system of leap days, seconds, and such, to keep accuracy with the sun, whereas, on a whole consideration, the prophetic calender uses a simpler system of leap months to keep accuracy to the sun. When these two systems are compared against each other, side by side, the prophetic calender equals the Gregorian in accuracy at first approximation for accuracy, and on in-depth analysis for extremely long periods of time (even to the limits for how precisely we can measure time altogether) the prophetic calender exceeds the Gregorian calender. i.e. God’s measure of time exceeds the best efforts of Man to scientifically measure time accurately.,, But why am I surprised about this since God created time in the first place? 🙂

    Bible Prophecy Year of 360 Days
    Excerpt: Is the Biblical ‘prophetic’ calender more accurate than our modern calender? Surprisingly yes! Excerpt: The first series of articles will show the 360-day (Prophetic) calendar to be at least as simple and as accurate as is our modern (Gregorian) calendar. In the second part of our discussion we will demonstrate how that the 360-day calendar is perfectly exact (as far as our ‘scientific’ measurements will allow).
    http://www.360calendar.com/

    Trust in God’s Perfect Timing – photo
    http://sphotos.xx.fbcdn.net/hp.....4442_n.jpg

  175. 175
    Box says:

    Bruce David: The question is, did He, could He in His perfect love, create a Hell? My answer is “No.” Not because I know God so well, but because I know what love is.

    I fully agree, and I would like to add: No, because I want to love God and because I want to have a concept of the world that makes sense to me. And I cannot do either with a God who allows the existence of hell.

  176. 176
    Bruce David says:

    Box:

    I have been commenting on this blog from time to time for several years. This is the first time I have had someone sharing the same thread who shares my views. It’s much less lonely. Thanks.

  177. 177
    bornagain77 says:

    as to BD’s claim:

    “The question is not whether Hell is a good thing, given that He created it. The question is, did He, could He in His perfect love, create a Hell? My answer is “No.” Not because I know God so well, but because I know what love is.”

    1 John 4:8
    8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

    Go figure,, 🙂 perhaps you don’t know God’s love as well as you think BD !

    2 Peter 1:16
    For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

  178. 178
    Mung says:

    I consign this thread to HELL!

  179. 179
    Bruce David says:

    BA re 177:

    Looks to me like you just confirmed that I do know God, since I know what love is.

  180. 180
    Bruce David says:

    Mung re 178:

    Does that include you?

  181. 181
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist (@154)

    The principle of logic hold for all possible worlds, including those worlds that are empty (contain no entities), but that’s completely different from saying that there are entities which necessarily exist. I don’t see the contradiction between affirming the necessity of the principles of logic themselves and the contingency (non-necessity) of all particular entities, because logical principles aren’t entities.

    It is a violation of the principles of logic to suggest that all entities are contingent. Is that what you are trying to argue?

    In any case, the concept of cause is analogical. There are differences from one example to another, but we don’t hesitate to refer to each case as a cause because we recognize the logical validity in doing so. Time, space, and matter are contingent realities, and every contingent reality requires an explanation. The word cause serves to describe that dynamic as well as anything else. We may not know HOW the first cause caused time and space in the same way that we know how clouds cause rain, but we do know that a cause is a necessary condition for an effect, and that the time/space/matter formulation is clearly an effect. Without a creator, there is no creation; without a first cause, there is no universe.

    But the origin of the universe, as the origin of space and time, could not itself have been in space and time.

    No one questions the fact that space and time could not be created in space and time. The point is that they could not have been their own cause.

    So I don’t think the GCP can apply to the universe as a whole. To treat the GCP as applying to the universe as a whole amounts to treating the universe itself as an object embedded within some larger spatio-temporal framework.

    Obviously, the first cause of the universe cannot be embedded within some larger spatio-temporal framework since it must be outside of, and different than time and space to create time and space ex-nilio. Time and space cannot be the cause of their own existence.

    So there is a space outside of space, and a time outside of time? That doesn’t make any sense!

    That’s right. It doesn’t make any sense. So please stop alluding to it as if someone thinks that it does.

    Of course I accept the consensus view of contemporary cosmology, that the universe is of a finite age. (13.6 billion years, according to the last time I checked.) But I don’t think that we can get to “the cause of the universe” by applying the GCP to the universe as a whole.

    We can logically identify the first cause of the contingent universe as a necessary, self-existent, eternal and immaterial being.

  182. 182
    Box says:

    @ bornagain77 -162

    Box asks: “What horrid mechanism is at work at the moment of death so this is all changed?”
    bornagain77: I don’t know if I would call it ‘horrid’ (..)

    It is puzzling to me that you don’t know. Suppose someone is in the process of dealing with horrible experiences (e.g. Auschwitz). Maybe part of this process is denouncing God, because he cannot love a God who allows this to happen. During that phase he gets hit by a truck. And at the moment of his death his personality ‘solidifies’ …. As a consequence he will burn in hell forever.
    And you ‘don’t know’ if you would call it horrid?

    The whole concept of solidifying after death doesn’t make sense to me. We are spiritual beings. We are at home in the spiritual world. What we experience there, in our world, will of course have impact and change us. The solidifying concept doesn’t make sense and is a constricting and horrible idea even without hell.
    The near death experience testimony by Mickey Robinson (post 162) is very inspirational and left me with the impression that there is more than enough time to change.

  183. 183
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Box, I tend to focus solely on the science, which as far as science is concerned there are two very different qualities of eternity. You are the one trying to play off on emotions to say it is not possible that a loving God would not allow a ‘horrid’ hell to exist. Yet if you were to be a little more discerning to what the evidence is actually saying then you would admit that reality, as revealed to us by physics, reveals two very different qualities of eternity. Emotions aside, no matter how horrid or appaling the thought is to you, the physics we have does not support your metaphysics but it does support mine. Looked at in an unbiased, unemotional manner, as is how science is suppose to be, that is all I’m saying when I say I don’t know why you would call such a mechanism horrid. As a person sure it is very chilling to me, but that has nothing to do with dealing with reality on reality own terms!

  184. 184
    Phinehas says:

    Box:

    I’ll just throw this out there as an unformed thought…

    Perhaps choice as we know it is contingent in some way upon space/time or its underlying reality. I’m not a theoretical physicist (I design video games for a living), but I am intrigued by how quantum mechanics opens the door to free will while not denying the possibility of a sovereign God who ordains all. Maybe choice as we know it inheres within the quantum mechanic framework and death takes us beyond this paradigm.

  185. 185
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “Looks to me like you just confirmed that I do know God, since I know what love is.”

    No, actually I confirmed that you do not know God nearly as well as you imagine you do, because Hell Actually Was Prepared for the Devil and His Angels,,,

    “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS” (Matthew 25:41).

    ,,,God never intended for one single person to end up in Hell. It is NOT God’s will that anyone should perish in their sins and go to Hell.,,,

    “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT WILLING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, but that ALL should come to REPENTANCE” (2nd Peter 3:9).

    ,,, But He also did not make puppets of men (or of angels), so there is a choice for men to make. A very important choice to make. And living in fairyland where you simply imagine evil does not exist certainly will not protect you from the reality of whether or not you’ve chosen to accept Christ as Lord of your life:

    Is God Good? (Free will and the problem of evil) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfd_1UAjeIA

    footnote,

    Much like Darwin’s Theodological core, your Theodicy is based on a incorrect/incomplete view of God.

  186. 186
    Box says:

    @ Phinehas
    I just throw in my idea about freedom as well. To have free will is being able to do what you want, being in harmony with yourself. It is not about being able to do what you don’t want to do.
    So I do not associate free will with being unpredictable (like a quantum). Someone who knows me very well is probably able to predict many of my decisions, but that doesn’t make me less free.
    Besides I believe we are spiritual beings so I also do not associate my freedom with the quantum mechanic framework.

  187. 187
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: MrMosis @ 170

    I think that my thinking about causality used to be anchored in material and efficient terms, to the exlusion of other perspectives. I think we can look at our spatio-temporal, every-day-world and life to see when it becomes deficient. If you are a reductionist-materialist sort, I think you can make the claims about causal “forces” “preceding” the universe being unknowlable, or nonsensical. In fact you might point to the very use of the word “preceding” to illustrate the fact. But given you are not such a rigid naturalist, I am not sure why you are not more open to a broader concept of causality, particularly given your admiration for Aristotle.

    I’m sorry, but from my standpoint, this is just comparing apples and oranges. Whether there are other kinds of causality besides efficient causality is a completely different question from whether the very concept of causality makes sense when applied to anything outside of our spatio-temporal frame of reference. One can certainly agree with Aristotle that final causality is required to make sense of what we experience — namely, the teleological organization of living things — without thinking that any causal concepts make any sense beyond the universe as a whole.

  188. 188
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB @ 181:

    I hate to put it this way, but I think you’re arguing in a circle. You claim to have prove that God exists by an appeal to logic alone, but you have a particular interpretation of what “logic alone” commits us to. This just ain’t going to jive, because a Kantian can be committed to the same principles as you are, but have a different interpretation of them and so refuse to grant the conclusions you take to be necessary.

    In particular, what is at stake here is just what mean by “the a priori“. A Kantian can happily embrace the thought that metaphysics deals with synthetic a priori judgments, such as the necessary presuppositions of empirical science, and yet also stress that the ground or source of the a priori lies in how our minds organize experience. The a priori-for-us the only a priori that makes any sense to us.

    I can understand that one might refuse to grant this — one might insist that the principles of reason must be those of reality itself. OK, fine. But once you have that as your starting-point, proving that God exists is not very impressive, because you’ve already taken as your starting-point a worldview in which the place for God has already been established. So the ‘proof’ of God’s existence has a “hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” sort of feel to it.

    I say all this in order to set the right tone for my specific disagreements with 181, as follows:

    It is a violation of the principles of logic to suggest that all entities are contingent. Is that what you are trying to argue?

    Well, yes. Or more, precisely, it wouldn’t be a violation of any logical principles if all entities were contingent. Typically, the argument for some necessary entity gets going by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason. But that cannot work, period, for several reasons.

    Firstly, the principle of sufficient reason is at most a useful explanatory strategy. Denying it has no effect on logic per se. There is no logical system which commits us to the principle of sufficient reason. (For that matter, there are logics which reject the principle of non-contradiction. They’re quite interesting and have been studied by logicians for quite a while. They have some interesting real-world applications, e.g. in designing AI and search engines.)

    Granted, I’m distinguishing between logical systems and epistemological doctrines but you know, that’s what philosophers have been doing for the past 150 years — Ernst Cassirer, C. I. Lewis, Rudolf Carnap, etc. all figured out how to deal with the fact that neither Aristotle nor Kant were right — there is no such thing as a universal logic — there are many logics, many logical systems. I know it seems crazy, but it’s been known to philosophers since the early 20th century, just as there are many geometries and so on.

    Secondly, to the extent that the principle of sufficient reason works as useful explanatory strategy, it’s only in the modest, pragmatic, post-Kantian form of “if you want to have a successful inquiry into nature, you should begin by assuming that any spatio-temporal event has some cause, since you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t.”

    In any case, the concept of cause is analogical. There are differences from one example to another, but we don’t hesitate to refer to each case as a cause because we recognize the logical validity in doing so. Time, space, and matter are contingent realities, and every contingent reality requires an explanation. The word cause serves to describe that dynamic as well as anything else. We may not know HOW the first cause caused time and space in the same way that we know how clouds cause rain, but we do know that a cause is a necessary condition for an effect, and that the time/space/matter formulation is clearly an effect. Without a creator, there is no creation; without a first cause, there is no universe.

    Well, let’s see here. I can agree that the universe is contingent (from what we can tell), but that doesn’t mean that it must have an explanation or a cause. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t, and one would have to do the hard work of cosmology in order to see. But the modest, post-Kantian version of the PSR doesn’t work here, it just doesn’t “scale up,” so to speak.

    If it were true that the universe is an effect, then it would follow analytically (and hence trivially) that it must have a cause. But it just isn’t true that the universe is an effect.

    No one questions the fact that space and time could not be created in space and time. The point is that they could not have been their own cause.

    My point is that we simply do not know what it means to say that they do or do not have a cause, if “cause” is being used in the ordinary sense.

    We can logically identify the first cause of the contingent universe as a necessary, self-existent, eternal and immaterial being.

    I don’t really know what “logically identify” is doing here. Of course one could assert that a necessary, self-existent, eternal and immaterial being is the cause of the contingent universe. I don’t really have a problem with you making that assertion; assert all you want, it’s all good by me. But you want to claim that it’s contrary to the very principles of logic to deny that assertion, and that’s where I’m willing to tussle.

  189. 189
    Bruce David says:

    KN, re 188:
    Here are my thoughts on what “causing” the Universe could mean.

    The universe being contingent means that it isn’t self created, right? So if it suddenly comes into being 14 or so billion years ago, it couldn’t have created itself. So a cause of the Universe would be something that created it, that was responsible for its coming into being. (It’s hard to put that idea into words without using the word “cause”.) If you say that it doesn’t have to have a cause in that sense, then how do you account for its being there? I grant that it doesn’t follow from logic, but doesn’t the existence of the universe cry out for something being responsible for the fact that it exists?

    Anyhow, it does for me, which is one of the reasons that I am a theist.

  190. 190
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    as to: “Looks to me like you just confirmed that I do know God, since I know what love is.”

    No, actually I confirmed that you do not know God nearly as well as you imagine you do, because Hell Actually Was Prepared for the Devil and His Angels,,,

    C’mon BA, fight fair. The sentence you quote from me was in response to your Bible quote in 177, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” You mentioned nothing about God creating Hell as a place for Satan and his followers in that comment.

    ,,,God never intended for one single person to end up in Hell. It is NOT God’s will that anyone should perish in their sins and go to Hell.,,,

    Then He shouldn’t put people there, should He? He is omnipotent and the ruler of the universe. He can do whatever He wants. If He doesn’t want people to perish in their sins and go to Hell, then He should simply forgive them. It’s not that hard. Ordinary people do it every day.

  191. 191
    Bruce David says:

    Box, re 182:

    It occurs to me that those of us who accept reincarnation find the idea of “solidification” to be an anathema partly because we already regard the time between lives as a time that has its own spiritual growth as a result of reflecting on the events of the most recent incarnation. So it is every bit as dynamic an experience as living on Earth.

    Christians, however, are in the habit of imagining that the time of change is only while we are in a body. Once we die, we are judged and then move on to a static existence—either in Heaven or Hell. Thus, the idea that our character is fixed at the point of death doesn’t seem so odd. There is still no warrant for it, however—no empeirical evidence, no logical inference to it as a conclusion, and as far as I know, no such statement in scripture.

  192. 192
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    If you say that it doesn’t have to have a cause in that sense, then how do you account for its being there? I grant that it doesn’t follow from logic, but doesn’t the existence of the universe cry out for something being responsible for the fact that it exists?

    Unless the universe exists for no reason at all. Whether or not that option is intellectually satisfying depends entirely on what one takes intellectual satisfaction to consist of.

    But that’s not quite what StephenB and I are wrangling over — we’re wrangling over the fact that he thinks it’s contrary to the rules of right reason to assert that the universe might exist for no reason at all, and that is what I dispute.

    In the background here, too, lurk my deeper disagreements with StephenB — that the rules of right reason are fixed and given in advance, waiting to be discovered, and that Aristotle’s formulations are perfectly authoritative.

    I actually think that Aristotle, for all his extraordinary genius, is nevertheless somehow a bit shallow compared to the later Plato, where the “theory of forms” itself is called into question and everything seemingly fixed is made fluid again — a deep insight of the later Plato that went unnoticed (so far as I know) until it was brought forth into the full light of day by Hegel.

  193. 193
    Bruce David says:

    KN:

    Unless the universe exists for no reason at all. Whether or not that option is intellectually satisfying depends entirely on what one takes intellectual satisfaction to consist of.

    Somehow I think it goes deeper than mere intellectual satisfaction, that somehow one is compelled to the conclusion that there must be a cause (in the sense that I defined above). I apologize for not being able to articulate this intuition any better.

    I think I stand somewhere between you and Stephen on this question. I agree with you regarding the rules of right reason, but I also feel that there is more at stake than just intellectual satisfaction.

    I actually think that Aristotle, for all his extraordinary genius, is nevertheless somehow a bit shallow compared to the later Plato, where the “theory of forms” itself is called into question and everything seemingly fixed is made fluid again — a deep insight of the later Plato that went unnoticed (so far as I know) until it was brought forth into the full light of day by Hegel.

    That’s very interesting. I studied Plato in college, but I don’t remember that he ever called the theory of forms into question. Do you have a reference, or a particular work where he did that?

  194. 194
  195. 195
    bornagain77 says:

    BD you ask me to

    “C’mon BA, fight fair.”

    Now BD, this is an interesting thing for you, of all people, to say. All is good and perfect in your worldview (though not necessarily ‘preferable’ (weasel word)) thus, as was asked of you before, why are you even ‘fighting’ so hard to promote your pseudo-religion if there is truly no evil in reality and all is good and perfect??? You contradict your own foundational beliefs by your own hypocritical actions!,,, Tell you what BD, since you seem to rely on ‘conversations’ so much, let’s let our worldviews ‘fight’ it out, show me from your ‘holy book’, ‘conversations with god’, a single, just one, unambiguous prophecy that has come to pass:

    1 John 4:1
    Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

    Isaiah 41
    21 “Present your case,” says the Lord.
    “Set forth your arguments,” says Jacob’s King.
    22 “Tell us, you idols,
    what is going to happen.
    Tell us what the former things were,
    so that we may consider them
    and know their final outcome.
    Or declare to us the things to come,
    23 tell us what the future holds,
    so we may know that you are gods.
    Do something, whether good or bad,
    so that we will be dismayed and filled with fear.
    24 But you are less than nothing
    and your works are utterly worthless;
    whoever chooses you is detestable.

    Here’s my example and the math behind it;

    Restoration Of Israel and Jerusalem In Prophecy (Doing The Math) – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8598581

    Now BD is this a ‘fair fight’ between worldviews? If not, why not?

  196. 196
    bornagain77 says:

    Box you state:

    ‘Besides I believe we are spiritual beings so I also do not associate my freedom with the quantum mechanic framework.’

    So, the foundation of reality is not allowed to inform your worldview because you are ‘spiritual’??? Please do tell how you intend to hold your worldview is real if if does not conform to reality! I’m all ears!

  197. 197
    bornagain77 says:

    Ravi Zacharias – Uncovering the New (Age) Spirituality – Part 1 of 4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xON0Gw-caks

  198. 198
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Bruce David @ 193:

    That’s very interesting. I studied Plato in college, but I don’t remember that he ever called the theory of forms into question. Do you have a reference, or a particular work where he did that?

    I believe it’s in Plato’s dialogue Parmenides.

  199. 199
    bornagain77 says:

    KN, I read this and thought you might like it:

    Assessing the “Algorithmic Origin of Life” (Paul Davies’ Recent Paper) – December 18, 2012
    Excerpt: It is the functionality of the expressed RNAs and proteins that is biologically important. Functionality, however, is not a local property of a molecule. It is defined only relationally, in a global context, which includes networks of relations among many sub-elements….,,
    One is therefore left to conclude that the most important features of biological information (i.e. functionality) are decisively nonlocal. Biologically functional information is therefore not an additional quality, like electric charge, painted onto matter and passed on like a token. It is of course instantiated in biochemical structures, but one cannot point to any specific structure in isolation and say “Aha! Biological information is here!”,,,
    ,,,For example, mechanical stresses on a cell may affect gene expression. Mechanotransduction, electrical transduction and chemical signal transduction — all well-studied biological processes — constitute examples of what philosophers term “top-down causation”, where the system as a whole exerts causal control over a subsystem (e.g. a gene) via a set of time-dependent constraints.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....67541.html

    Now all you got to do KN is find some type of ‘natural’ top down mechanism to explain the information we find in life other than intelligence which we know for a fact can generate information:

    footnotes:

    “Information is information, not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.”
    Norbert Weiner – MIT Mathematician – Father of Cybernetics

    Programming of Life – October 2010
    Excerpt: “Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter… These two domains will never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term ‘reductionism.’… Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes… This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.”
    George Williams – Evolutionary Biologist

  200. 200
    Box says:

    Re: 197

    bornagain77:
    Box you state: ‘Besides I believe we are spiritual beings so I also do not associate my freedom with the quantum mechanic framework.’
    So, the foundation of reality is not allowed to inform your worldview because you are ‘spiritual’??? Please do tell how you intend to hold your worldview is real if if does not conform to reality! I’m all ears!

    It’s surprising to me that you, as a Christian, consider matter to be the foundation of reality. I on the contrary consider God to be the foundation of reality; ‘unity’ if you will. In post 162 you seem to argue that there must be a heaven and a hell because ”as far as science can tell us, there are two very different eternities and Christ is the bridge between them”.
    Do you situate the eternal heaven (and hell) in our current expanding and dying universe, or do you assume that they are necessarily constructed in the same way? Both ideas don’t make much sense to me.

  201. 201
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Now all you got to do KN is find some type of ‘natural’ top down mechanism to explain the information we find in life other than intelligence which we know for a fact can generate information.

    Interesting paper, Bornagain. It’s a bit above my pay-grade, but I’m enjoying the challenge. I found this interesting:

    Thus the famed chicken-or-egg problem (a solely hardware issue) is not the true sticking point. Rather, the puzzle lies with something fundamentally different, a problem of causal organization having to do with the separation of informational and mechanical aspects into parallel causal narratives. The real challenge of life’s origin is thus to explain how instructional information control systems emerge naturally and spontaneously from mere molecular dynamics (emphasis added). It is this issue which we explore in the remainder of this paper.

    So, much as I appreciate the spirit of the challenge there, it seems as though Walker and Davies have already taken it up.

    (One worry I do have here is whether it’s really correct to say that “intelligence” can “generate” “information”. It’s a fundamental commitment of design theory, and it bothers me terribly — I don’t think that really gets at what’s important in the relationship between intelligence and information. More on this as I puzzle it out.)

  202. 202
    Phinehas says:

    BD:

    In thinking on this some more, I’m not sure there is really much difference between the God you believe could never create hell and the God that I believe did.

    I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so please forgive me if I get this wrong, but it seems to me that you believe in a God who gives an infinite number of second chances. For you, this is the outworking of His love for us. I don’t think that the God I believe in is totally incompatible with this viewpoint. I’m reminded of His “seventy-times-seventy” view on forgiveness, which would seem to reflect, if not validate that perspective.

    Instead, I think it may be our view of humans that differs, (which could come back around to our view of God, but I’ll get to that in a moment). It seems to me that your view of humans is that we’ll all eventually get it right, given enough time and opportunities. I have no certainty that this is the case (and question where I could find such certainty). Instead, I think it plausible that the failure to get it right could perpetuate (from lifetime to lifetime, in your view) for eternity. I don’t believe that the accumulation of knowledge, or even experience, must automatically bring enlightenment. In fact, this seems at odds with what I see around me and throughout history.

    If my view of humans holds, then even if reincarnation were the model, some will eternally remain separated from God by choice. And hell becomes more about winnowing out those whom God, in His infinite foresight, knows will never get it right (no matter how many second chances they are given) from those who will/have. In other words, it is an act of separation, not of condemnation. As such, it highlights a lack in humans much more than any shortcoming in God’s character or nature.

    I think that part of the reason I tend toward this perspective is that I believe God has given humans a more radical freedom to choose. If it is guaranteed that everyone eventually gets it right, then is it really a free choice? If it is impossible for anyone to ever choose again, and again, and again, forever to reject God and love and everything that is good and right, then is it really a free choice?

    In the end, as far as I can tell, the real difference between our positions isn’t so much about God’s nature as it pertains to love, but God’s nature as it pertains to granting humans radical freedom, and what humans might choose to do with that gift.

  203. 203
    bornagain77 says:

    Box: “Do you situate the eternal heaven (and hell) in our current expanding and dying universe”

    No I consider them both, heaven and hell, to be on a higher dimension ‘eternal’ plane than this temporal dimension, though, paradoxically, hell is a ‘higher dimension ‘eternal’ plane’ in which it is found that souls descend into it rather than ascend into it.

    Notes:

    It is important to note that higher dimensions are invisible to our physical 3 Dimensional sight. The reason why ‘higher dimensions’ are invisible to our 3D vision is best illustrated by ‘Flatland’:

    Dr. Quantum in Flatland – 3D in a 2D world – video
    http://www.disclose.tv/action/....._2D_world/

    Perhaps some may think that we have no scientific evidence to support the view that higher ‘invisible’ dimensions are above this 3 Dimensional temporal world, but a person would be wrong in that presumption. Higher invisible dimensions are corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please note the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light:

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    The preceding video was made by two Australian University physics professors. Here is the interactive website, with link to the relativistic math at the bottom of the page, related to the preceding video;

    Seeing Relativity
    http://www.anu.edu.au/Physics/Searle/

    As well, as with the scientifically verified tunnel for special relativity to a higher dimension, we also have scientific confirmation of extreme ‘tunnel curvature’, within space-time, to a eternal ‘event horizon’ at black holes;

    Space-Time of a Black hole
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0VOn9r4dq8

    It is also interesting to point out that a ‘tunnel’ to a higher dimension is also a common feature of Near Death Experiences. One tunnel is found for accelerating to the speed of light

    “I was in a body, and the only way that I can describe it was a body of energy, or of light. And this body had a form. It had a head, it had arms and it had legs. And it was like it was made out of light. And it was everything that was me. All of my memories, my consciousness, everything.”,,, “And then this vehicle formed itself around me. Vehicle is the only thing, or tube, or something, but it was a mode of transportation that’s for sure! And it formed around me. And there was no one in it with me. I was in it alone. But I knew there were other people ahead of me and behind me. What they were doing I don’t know, but there were people ahead of me and people behind me, but I was alone in my particular conveyance. And I could see out of it. And it went at a tremendously, horrifically, rapid rate of speed. But it wasn’t unpleasant. It was beautiful in fact. I was reclining in this thing, I wasn’t sitting straight up, but I wasn’t lying down either. I was sitting back. And it was just so fast. I can’t even begin to tell you where it went or whatever it was just fast!” –
    Vicki’s NDE – Blind since birth – quote taken from first part of the following video
    Near Death Experience Tunnel – Speed Of Light – Turin Shroud – video
    http://www.vimeo.com/18371644

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.(Barbara Springer)

    And another tunnel in NDE’s is found for ‘falling’. A man, near the beginning of this video, gives testimony of falling down a ‘tunnel’ in the transition stage from this world to hell:

    Hell – A Warning! – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4131476/

    The man, in this following video, also speaks of ‘tumbling down’ a tunnel in his transition stage to hell:

    Bill Wiese on Sid Roth – video
    http://vimeo.com/21230371

    What’s more is that special relativity (and general relativity) also confirm the ‘eternity’ for this higher dimension.

    Time dilation
    Excerpt: Time dilation: special vs. general theories of relativity:
    In Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, time dilation in these two circumstances can be summarized:
    1. –In special relativity (or, hypothetically far from all gravitational mass), clocks that are moving with respect to an inertial system of observation are measured to be running slower. (i.e. For any observer accelerating, hypothetically, to the speed of light, time, as we understand it, will come to a complete stop).
    2.–In general relativity, clocks at lower potentials in a gravitational field—such as in closer proximity to a planet—are found to be running slower.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

    i.e. Time, as we understand it temporally, would come to a complete stop at the speed of light (are falling to the event horizon of a black hole). To grasp the whole ‘time coming to a complete stop at the speed of light’ concept a little more easily, imagine moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light. Would not the hands on the clock stay stationary as you moved away from the face of the clock at the speed of light? Moving away from the face of a clock at the speed of light happens to be the same ‘thought experiment’ that gave Einstein his breakthrough insight into e=mc2.

    Albert Einstein – Special Relativity – Insight Into Eternity – ‘thought experiment’ video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/6545941/

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.”
    Richard Swenson – More Than Meets The Eye, Chpt. 12

  204. 204
    bornagain77 says:

    It is also interesting to point out that this ‘eternal’ framework for time at the speed of light is also testified to in Near Death Experience testimonies:

    ‘In the ‘spirit world,,, instantly, there was no sense of time. See, everything on earth is related to time. You got up this morning, you are going to go to bed tonight. Something is new, it will get old. Something is born, it’s going to die. Everything on the physical plane is relative to time, but everything in the spiritual plane is relative to eternity. Instantly I was in total consciousness and awareness of eternity, and you and I as we live in this earth cannot even comprehend it, because everything that we have here is filled within the veil of the temporal life. In the spirit life that is more real than anything else and it is awesome. Eternity as a concept is awesome. There is no such thing as time. I knew that whatever happened was going to go on and on.’
    Mickey Robinson – Near Death Experience testimony

    ‘When you die, you enter eternity. It feels like you were always there, and you will always be there. You realize that existence on Earth is only just a brief instant.’
    Dr. Ken Ring – has extensively studied Near Death Experiences

    ‘Earthly time has no meaning in the spirit realm. There is no concept of before or after. Everything – past, present, future – exists simultaneously.’ –
    Kimberly Clark Sharp – NDE testimony

    ‘Time dilation’, i.e. eternity, is confirmed by many lines of scientific evidence but basically the simplest way to understand this ‘eternal framework’ is to realize that this higher dimensional, ‘eternal’, inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not ‘frozen within time’ yet it is also shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light. This paradox is only possible for time at the speed of light if temporal time is a lower dimensional time that was created from a higher dimension that ‘contains all temporal time’,,,Yet, even though light has this ‘eternal’ attribute in regards to our temporal framework of time, for us to hypothetically travel at the speed of light, in this universe, will still only get us to first base as far as the eternal framework of quantum entanglement, and/or quantum teleportation, is concerned.

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    i.e. Hypothetically traveling at the speed of light in this universe would be, because of time dilation, instantaneous travel for the person going at the speed of light. This is because time does not pass for them at the speed of light, yet, and this is a very big ‘yet’ to take note of, this ‘timeless’ travel is still not instantaneous and transcendent of our temporal framework of time as quantum teleportation and entanglement are, i.e. Speed of light travel, to our temporal frame of reference of time, is still not completely transcendent of our temporal time framework since light appears to take time to travel from our temporal perspective. Yet, in quantum teleportation of information, the ‘time not passing’, i.e. ‘eternal’, framework is not only achieved in the speed of light framework/dimension, but is also ‘instantaneously’ achieved in our lower temporal framework. That is to say, the instantaneous teleportation/travel of quantum information is instantaneous to both the temporal and speed of light frameworks, not just the speed of light framework. Information teleportation/travel is not limited by time, nor space, in any way, shape or form, in any frame of reference, as light is seemingly limited to us in this temporal framework. Thus ‘pure transcendent information’ (in quantum teleportaion experiments) is shown to be timeless (eternal) and completely transcendent of all material frameworks. Moreover, concluding from all lines of evidence we now have (many of which I have not specifically listed here); transcendent, eternal, infinite information is indeed real and the framework in which ‘It’ resides is the primary reality (highest dimension) that can exist, (in so far as our limited perception of a primary reality, highest dimension, can be discerned).

    “An illusion can never go faster than the speed limit of reality”
    Akiane Kramarik – Child Prodigy – Artist

  205. 205
    Phinehas says:

    Actually, I think I want to say this more emphatically…

    As such, it highlights a lack in humans, and not any shortcoming in God’s character or nature.

  206. 206
    bornagain77 says:

    Box as to this comment of yours:

    “It’s surprising to me that you, as a Christian, consider matter to be the foundation of reality.”

    I have no earthly idea how you pulled that particular thought out of what I said:

    you said:

    Box you state: ‘Besides I believe we are spiritual beings so I also do not associate my freedom with the quantum mechanic framework.’

    To which I responded:

    “So, the foundation of reality is not allowed to inform your worldview because you are ‘spiritual’??? Please do tell how you intend to hold your worldview is real if it does not conform to reality! I’m all ears!”

    Despite your reading that I was a reductive materialist out of that (I have no idea how you did it), I was merely pointing out that you seem fairly nonchalant, in your sentence, as to tossing out our best description for the foundation of reality (quantum mechanics)simply because you are ‘spiritual’.

  207. 207
    William J Murray says:

    BA:

    As always, you are a wellspring of information that is is insightful and astoundingly relevant. That’s the kind of dramatic, powerful evidence that materialists have been willfully ignoring for decades to maintain their beliefs.

    Keep up the good work!

  208. 208
    Bruce David says:

    why are you even ‘fighting’ so hard to promote your pseudo-religion if there is truly no evil in reality and all is good and perfect??? You contradict your own foundational beliefs by your own hypocritical actions!

    My beliefs are not “pseudo-religion”; they are not religion at all. I am not constrained by any dogma; I can commit no heresy. Thus I am free in my search for truth to draw my own conclusions, to consider all claimants to truth equally.

    You are singularly unable to grasp a very simple concept, which is that preference, even strong preference, even overwhelming desire need not include any moral component. Suppose I fell passionately in love with a woman. Would that imply that her acceptance of my very strong wish to spend the rest of my life with her was a morally good action?. No. Alternatively, if she denied my suit, would I then label her rejection of me as “evil”? Of course not. (Well, some might, by I wouldn’t.)

    Come on, BA, this is not that hard. I know you can get it if you just open your mind a little.

    Tell you what BD, since you seem to rely on ‘conversations’ so much, let’s let our worldviews ‘fight’ it out, show me from your ‘holy book’, ‘conversations with god’, a single, just one, unambiguous prophecy that has come to pass:

    Who made up the rule that a work containing a valid prophecy is a measure of spiritual truth of whatever else was said in it? It seems to me that all that measures is the ability of the writer to predict the future. This gives no warrant for the validity of his or her metaphysics.

    This ignores many other questions regarding prophecy in the Bible, for instance that it was written by multiple authors (so that the ones correctly predicting the future are different from others who claim to present the truth), that there are prophesies that did not come to pass, at least one by Jesus himself, and that deciding whether a prophecy has been fulfilled often requires considerable interpretation to make it appear so.

    God, in Conversations with God, deliberately avoids making any predictions. His purpose is to show us some truth about the nature of reality, ourselves, and the nature of our relationship to Him. The books should be judged on that basis.

  209. 209
    Bruce David says:

    The above post, #108, should have been addressed to BA. Sorry for the slip-up.

  210. 210
    Bruce David says:

    In 209, I meant post #208. Apologies again.

  211. 211
    William J Murray says:

    Bruce David says: [i]”It’s a good question. Those among the viewers of this thread like SephenB, Bornagain77, Kairosfocus, and others who have clearly decided upon their beliefs and views and are sticking with them, at least for now, obviously will not change them based on anything I present, so there is really no danger that I could interfere with their purposes for having made those choices.”[/i]

    Interfere? How can you “interfere” with perfection? Aren’t we all perfect entities perfectly experiencing what we have chosen and continue to choose to experience?

    Why would “changing” anyone’s mind even be a consideration, pro or con? If they change their mind, isn’t it because they chose such a change, regardless of any argument you might present?

    Bruce David says: [i]”That said, they have also chosen to present their views and argue for them on threads such as this, so clearly their purpose also includes exposing those views to the scrutiny of others such as me who disagree with them.” [/i]

    What is the purpose of “scrutinizing” the views of others if both you and they are perfect beings perfectly experiencing what they have chosen to experience?

    Bruce David says: [i]”Others, however, may be seeking answers, and may be open to new possibilities. I offer my views as an option for such people to consider. It would then kind of defeat the purpose if I didn’t also defend them when they are attacked by fallacious arguments.[/i]

    But none of that makes any sense from your stated position that everyone is perfectly experiencing what they have chosen to experience. Such motivations for debate and argument only make sense in the framework of trying to correct imperfection, help others, and advance towards a better goal of some sort. There is no such framework available under the context you have described as your belief system.

    The only viable explanation for someone participating in such a debate with views such as yours is simply personal enjoyment; one who believes in the perfection concept of yours has no need to correct, improve, seek a goal, offer help or try to “educate” anyone about anything.

    The point is: you’re a hypocrite. You intellectually claim that reality “is” a certain way, but you behave as if, and argue as if, and explain as if it is not that way at all.

    IOW, if you really believed in such perfection of existence, there would be no reason to debate here at all other than just because it pleases you to do so, because obviously you have nothing to correct or improve, and no one needs your help or information.

  212. 212
    William J Murray says:

    Note this comment of BD’s: “Come on, BA, this is not that hard. I know you can get it if you just open your mind a little.”

    Why would a perfect BD care if a perfect BA “got it” or not? BA has as open a mind as he has chosen to have (according to BD), but here’s BD cajoling BD to open his mind “as if” it needed to be opened for some reason – something that is unavailable in BD’s “perfect existence” scenario.

    BD says: “I agree with you regarding the rules of right reason, but I also feel that there is more at stake than just intellectual satisfaction.

    I’m sorry, what exactly is “at stake” in a perfect world populated by perfect souls experiencing whatever they have chosen to experience? Nothing.

    BD and box make the case that they cannot believe in a god that allows the existence of hell – but, what if a soul wants to experience hell – be it eternal damnation or obliteration, take your pick? You might as well argue that you cannot believe in a god that allows misery and suffering to exist; that’s the case a lot of outraged atheists make for their atheism.

    If we actually have free will to create whatever we choose, then obviously “hell” is something we must have the ability to launch ourselves into if we so choose. You can’t have it both ways – you can’t have a universe where souls can create whatever they want to experience and then say no, they cannot experience X.

  213. 213
    William J Murray says:

    Box said: “I appreciate your postings and admire your passion. But it is beyond my comprehension how anyone who claims to love God can think for one second that God is somehow connected to and in agreement with the practice of eternal torturing of people. In my book that is called blasphemy.”

    I’m not sure how *you* can claim to love a god that allows any torture to exist, given your statements here. Why should god allow any torture at all to exist?

  214. 214
    bornagain77 says:

    William J Murray you state:

    ‘a wellspring of information that is is insightful and astoundingly relevant.’

    Thanks for letting me know that you ‘got it’. It is nice to know that it was not in vain to post the information.,,

    Merry Christmas as well:

    O Come, Emmanuel – (Piano/Cello) – ThePianoGuys
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO7ySn-Swwc

  215. 215
    Phinehas says:

    KF:

    Thanks for the link. That’s some good work!

    BD:

    It is precisely this kind of evidence that I believe supports biblical revelation much more reliably than one’s inner voice. If an innocent life hung in the balance, to which source should a reliable jury turn? Evidence? Or their inner voice?

  216. 216
    Bruce David says:

    William Murray:

    But none of that makes any sense from your stated position that everyone is perfectly experiencing what they have chosen to experience. Such motivations for debate and argument only make sense in the framework of trying to correct imperfection, help others, and advance towards a better goal of some sort. There is no such framework available under the context you have described as your belief system.

    You have set up a straw man version of my views and then attacked it. Here are some quotes from my posts above:

    86:

    Well, in the first place, my view of humankind is that we are all perfect beings who have chosen to experience limitation during our temporary sojourns here on Earth.

    117:

    My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting and then slowly over many lifetimes remembering Who We Really Are. In order for this to work, there must be access to our essential nature, which does know the truth, but the access must be neither too easy nor impossible. This is what I refer to as our “inner knowing” of which BA is so disdainful. As we experience many lifetimes, our ability to access our inner knowing becomes surer and surer, and it is this capacity that allows us to recognize valid revelation.

    129:

    Here is a very condensed version of the explanation given by God in Conversations with God, Book I, which I consider to be direct revelation: God, in His transcendent state, knows He is magnificent, but He cannot experience this because in order to experience something, one has to have the experience of NOT that something also. Warmth, without the experience of cold, disappears. Up, without the experience of down, disappears, as astronauts in space discovered. And in God’s transcendent state, there is no opposite to His magnificence, so although He knew it, He could not experience it.

    But He desired to have that experience, so God created all of us out of Himself, in His image and likeness. We are each an individualized copy of Him, complete with His magnificence (His love, His creativity, His joy, His wisdom, His knowledge). The One who looks out of our eyes is Him. But in order for us to experience our magnificence (and for God to experience His own through us, which are Him), it was necessary for us to experience NOT magnificence, ie limitation, in all its forms. To do this, we incarnate on Earth, forgetting Who We Really Are. However, as we incarnate in many lifetimes, our remembrance slowly returns to us, and as it does, we experience our magnificence in contrast to the experiences of limitation that we have had due to our forgetting. And through us, God experiences His magnificence.

    If you will read these with an open mind, you will see that my view is that our journey on the earthly plane is a period of gradual coming into the knowledge and experience of Who We Really Are. So if I can be of service to assist anyone in this journey, I am happy to do so.

    Also, it should be obvious that this process of gradual remembrance really requires relationship. Very few of us can sit alone in a room or a cave and make much progress. It is in the interactions with each other in all the various manifestations that those interactions can assume that we come to understand. So since the people who contribute to this blog, as well as those who merely lurk, have chosen this form of interaction as part of their own journey, then in some way it contributes to their purpose for this lifetime.

    Put another way, using your own characterization of my views (“But none of that makes any sense from your stated position that everyone is perfectly experiencing what they have chosen to experience.”): Part of what they are perfectly experiencing is their chosen interaction with me. No one forced them to participate in this blog. Thus their “perfect experiencing what they have chosen to experience” includes interacting with me in this way. Thus, even if they argue with me the entire time and are never convinced by what I say, I have still been of service in that I have been one of ones who have contributed to their life purpose. Perhaps the service was simply to provide a foil against which they could become clearer about their own beliefs. And perhaps something I write will be like a seed that someday sprouts and gives them some further insight into the truth. Or perhaps the reverse—something I read here might someday sprout in me, and they will have been of service to me.

  217. 217
  218. 218
    Bruce David says:

    Phinehas:

    It is precisely this kind of evidence that I believe supports biblical revelation much more reliably than one’s inner voice. If an innocent life hung in the balance, to which source should a reliable jury turn? Evidence? Or their inner voice?

    But what about the Holy Koran, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Buddhist scriptures, or the Book of Mormon, or Conversations with God, or Rumi’s poetry, or Autobiography of a Yogi? There are many, many sources claiming to convey the truth, and most of them have evidence to support their claim. On what basis do you decide that the Bible is correct and the others are in error? For me, there is only one possible way to choose between them, and that is to weigh each against my own inner knowing, to evaluate which one or ones have the ring of truth. What other way is there?

  219. 219
    Axel says:

    BA and all of you who are fascinated by NDEs and the like, this article about quasi-eschatological tours conducted by the Virgin Mary for some young African mystics, will knock you over. Though you may have read about them.

    The visions were approved as authentic by the Catholic church in the nineteen-eighties.

    Googling words, such as, ‘Isangano’, brings more fascinating links.

  220. 220
    Bruce David says:

    William Murray:

    If we actually have free will to create whatever we choose, then obviously “hell” is something we must have the ability to launch ourselves into if we so choose. You can’t have it both ways – you can’t have a universe where souls can create whatever they want to experience and then say no, they cannot experience X.

    Of course souls can create a Hell for themselves and put themselves in it if they choose to. People on earth do that every day. But such a Hell would not be necessarily permanent—any soul in such a state would also be free to leave any time they choose to. What I am denying is that a loving God would create a Hell where He sends souls for all eternity irrespective of their desires regarding being there.

  221. 221
    Axel says:

    ‘But I can tell you this: I begged Jesus from the bottom of my soul to let me stay there. He said that it wasn’t my time, so I must leave.’

    LOL. The more I read those entreaties and laments, the more they tickle me; at the more innocent end of my schadenfreude spectrum, I expect.

  222. 222
    bornagain77 says:

    BD objects: “But what about the Holy Koran, or the Tao Te Ching, or the Buddhist scriptures, or the Book of Mormon, or Conversations with God, or Rumi’s poetry, or Autobiography of a Yogi? There are many, many sources claiming to convey the truth, and most of them have evidence to support their claim.”

    Okie dokie (not that anything can ever trump your ‘inner knowing), but let’s start with verse 1 chapter 1 and compare:

    Genesis 1:1-3
    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    It is very interesting to note that among all the ‘holy’ books, of all the major religions in the world, only the Holy Bible was correct in its claim for a transcendent origin of the entire universe (Some later ‘holy’ books, such as the Mormon text “Pearl of Great Price” and the Qur’an, copy the concept of a transcendent origin from the Bible but also include teachings that are inconsistent with that now established fact. (Hugh Ross; Why The Universe Is The Way It Is; Pg. 228; Chpt.9; note 5)

    The Uniqueness Of The Bible Among ‘holy books’ and Evidence of God in Creation (Hugh Ross) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjYSz1OYG8Y

    The Most Important Verse in the Bible – Prager University – video
    http://www.prageruniversity.co.....Bible.html

    The Uniqueness of Genesis 1:1 – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBXdQCkISo0

    The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the bible as a whole.
    Dr. Arno Penzias, Nobel Laureate in Physics – co-discoverer of the Cosmic Background Radiation – as stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978

    “Certainly there was something that set it all off,,, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis”
    Robert Wilson – Nobel laureate – co-discover Cosmic Background Radiation

    “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”
    George Smoot – Nobel laureate in 2006 for his work on COBE

    “,,,the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world,,, the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same.”
    Robert Jastrow – Founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute – Pg.15 ‘God and the Astronomers’

    ,,, ‘And if you’re curious about how Genesis 1, in particular, fairs. Hey, we look at the Days in Genesis as being long time periods, which is what they must be if you read the Bible consistently, and the Bible scores 4 for 4 in Initial Conditions and 10 for 10 on the Creation Events’
    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere; video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347236

  223. 223
    bornagain77 says:

    Now this was really serendipitous. I just stumbled across this on facebook:

    Proof the Bible is the Word of God – video
    http://streetapologetics.com/2.....rd-of-god/

  224. 224
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist

    I think that you may misunderstand the argument being made. No one has suggested that logic “alone” can prove the existence of God. The argument(s) for God’s existence is(are) based on observation and logic, not logic alone. You will note, for example, that all of Aquinas’ arguments are, without exception, all grounded in observation.

    Perhaps one difficulty may be that you are characterizing self-evident truths as analytic judgments. I assume that you follow Kant’s distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments, and that you subscribe to the notion that these two formulations represent the full range of possibilities. As I hope that you will come to agree, this notion is misguided.

    Kant’s error consists in the fact that he starts with a twofold rather than a threefold distinction of the types of truth. As it turns out, we can point to [a] verbal statements, that is, tautologies that are not instructive and need no other empirical or rational support, [b] instructive statements, which need support and certification, either from experience or by reasoning, and [c] non-tautological and non-instructive statements that are indemonstrable and self-evidently true.

    Let’s take an example of the third class of truth that Kant omits. Consider the undeniable and self-evident truth that a finite whole is greater than any of its parts. This proposition states our understanding of the relation between for former and the latter. Notice that it is not a statement about either word but rather about our understanding of wholes and parts and their relation. Notice, again, that all the terms are indefinable: we cannot express our understanding of one without reference to the other. Further, we understand that the whole is, indeed, greater than any of its parts and that a part is less than the whole of which it is a part.

    Without question, we have identified a self-evident truth that is neither [a] analytic or trivial or tautological, nor it is [b] synthetic and in need of empirical/rational justification. In your analysis, you appear not to be taking account of this category of undeniable, self-evident truths. This began when you questioned the notion that the Laws of Identity, Non-Contradiction, and Causality are universal, objecting that they may not apply outside the universe. As I pointed out, though, it is just as self-evidently true that God cannot both exist and not exist in the same respect as it is self-evidently true that Jupiter cannot both exist and not exist in the same respect.

    In like fashion, it is self-evidently true that the universe, since it is known to be contingent and temporal, requires an antecedent cause. It is equally clear that the first cause, whether it be the immediate prior cause or the first cause of an immediate prior cause must be eternal, self-existent, and non-material being. On you last past, alluded to the phantom problem that the beginning of the existence of space cannot logically be preceded by space or that time cannot logically be preceded by time as if anyone could doubt the point. No one does. The point is that both must be preceded by some kind of entity and that we can say so with the apodictic certitude inherent in any self-evident truth.

    You write, “But once you have that as your starting-point, proving that God exists is not very impressive, because you’ve already taken as your starting-point a worldview in which the place for God has already been established. So the ‘proof’ of God’s existence has a “hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” sort of feel to it.”

    I am sorry. But self-evident truths do not imply that “a place for God exists” or require any kind of assumption to that effect. That God exists is a logical conclusion arrived at by applying self-evident truths to observed facts in evidence.

    Again, you write, “I can agree that the universe is contingent (from what we can tell), but that doesn’t mean that it must have an explanation or a cause. Maybe it does, and maybe it doesn’t, and one would have to do the hard work of cosmology in order to see. But the modest, post-Kantian version of the PSR doesn’t work here, it just doesn’t “scale up,” so to speak. “

    Would you say the same thing about other much less complicated events? If, in principle, a universe can pop into existence without a cause, which seems to be what you are arguing, why could not a cement wall could appear suddenly in front of your rapidly-moving automobile for no reason, or why could not an apartment building spring up on a lot without a builder? For that matter, why could my last paragraph not have come into being without my authorship?

    Further, you write, “If it were true that the universe is an effect, then it would follow analytically (and hence trivially) that it must have a cause. But it just isn’t true that the universe is an effect.”

    How do you know that the universe is not an effect? Earlier, you stated that the universe may or may not have been caused, which would indicate that it may or may not be an effect.

    Continuing, you write, “Of course one could assert that a necessary, self-existent, eternal and immaterial being is the cause of the contingent universe. I don’t really have a problem with you making that assertion; assert all you want, it’s all good by me. But you want to claim that it’s contrary to the very principles of logic to deny that assertion, and that’s where I’m willing to tussle.

    I think you misunderstand the point. It is by using the principles of logic, in concert with our empirical observation and self-evident truths, that we can make that assertion. If you want to assert that a universe that is known to have once not existed (in other words, one that began to exist) may not require a cause, you may assert it all you like, but you will not be within the bounds of rationality when you make that claim. There is a price to pay for rejecting self-evident truths and that price is rationality. Do you really want to pay that price in order to avoid the existence of a self-existent first cause? If so, you have taken an ideological position, not an intellectual position.

  225. 225
    Bruce David says:

    BA, re 222:
    So, because the creation myth in Genesis can be interpreted in a certain way that more or less fits with current scientific thinking, you want me to believe that the entirety of the Old and New Testaments is correct? I’ll pass.

    I’m not interested in getting into a debate about the relative veracity of the various claimants to truth that exist in the world. I’ll stand by my statements already made on the subject.

  226. 226
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB @ 224:

    I appreciate your willingness to keep the conversation going — I’m enjoying it very much, and I hope you are as well. But I’m afraid we’re not (yet) much closer to agreement.

    Perhaps one difficulty may be that you are characterizing self-evident truths as analytic judgments. I assume that you follow Kant’s distinction between analytic and synthetic judgments, and that you subscribe to the notion that these two formulations represent the full range of possibilities. As I hope that you will come to agree, this notion is misguided.

    Kant’s error consists in the fact that he starts with a twofold rather than a threefold distinction of the types of truth. As it turns out, we can point to [a] verbal statements, that is, tautologies that are not instructive and need no other empirical or rational support, [b] instructive statements, which need support and certification, either from experience or by reasoning, and [c] non-tautological and non-instructive statements that are indemonstrable and self-evidently true.

    Firstly, Kant does not commit the error you ascribe to him; he has all three of these categories up and running, as I do I. This is because he does not only distinguish between analytic statements and synthetic statements, but also between a priori and a posteriori statements. (Kant holds that the error of both rationalists and empiricists was to conflate these distinctions.) Holding them apart gives us three categories of statements:

    (1) analytic a priori: statements that are necessarily true because they are trivially or tautologically true (i.e. “verbal statements, that is, tautologies that are not instructive and need no other empirical or rational support”);

    (2) synthetic a posteriori: statements that are genuinely informative about the world because they are justified on the basis of experience (i.e. “instructive statements, which need support and certification” from experience, aided by reasoning);

    (3) synthetic a priori: statements that are genuinely informative about the world but not justified by experience. Here, whereas you said that we need a category of statements that are “non-tautological and non-instructive statements that are indemonstrable and self-evidently true,” I would beg to differ in two minor (but still important) respects:

    (a) I would cross out “non-instructive” here — these are statements that are instructive, in the sense of being genuinely informative about the world, because they are non-tautological;

    (b) I would not say that these are “indemonstrable and self-evidently true”; on the contrary, Kant shows that we can give transcendental arguments for these statements, to the effect that if these claims were not valid a priori, we could not possibly have the kinds of well-ordered experience that we manifestly do have.

    So the disagreement between us is not that Kant (or I) lack an appreciation of the synthetic a priori — your category [c] — but rather, our disagreement is about the source and scope of the synthetic a priori.

    With regards to source: Kant, of course, claims that the source of all synthetic a priori judgments lies entirely within the human mind, and I would not put it that way myself. Rather, I would say that all synthetic a priori judgments are meta-linguistic expressions of the fundamental norms of our cognitive practices, which are themselves mediated by tradition, language, community, and also certain very general facts of human embodiment.

    So I have a less intellectualistic and less mentalistic conception of the human origin of synthetic a priori statements than Kant himself did — that is one of the many minor but important points at which I disagree with Kant himself.

    However, with regards to the scope of synthetic a priori claims, I pretty much do agree with Kant: they apply to the world as we experience it, and don’t apply beyond that. Hence, when you pose this:

    If, in principle, a universe can pop into existence without a cause, which seems to be what you are arguing, why could not a cement wall could appear suddenly in front of your rapidly-moving automobile for no reason, or why could not an apartment building spring up on a lot without a builder? For that matter, why could my last paragraph not have come into being without my authorship?

    My response is that sudden events such as these — cement walls and apartment building suddenly popping into existence — conflict with everything about the world as we experience it. (Kant himself has a nice phrase somewhere in the Critique, “if cinnabar were sometimes red and sometimes black”, we simply would not know what to say — our words would utterly fail us.)

    But this cognitive predicament — our words failing us, our not knowing what to say, not knowing what to think — doesn’t pertain to the issue at hand, which is the thought of an entire universe spontaneously popping into existence. For the universe is the entire framework of Space and Time, and our own experience is fundamentally a spatially and temporally ordered experience.

    To conclude: I share your insistence that there are statements that are both non-tautological and unquestionably true, but I regard those statements as only applying to the world as we experience it (more precisely: to what it is that we are able to experience as a world). Hence I do not think I am abandoning my commitment to the necessity of such statements when I deny that they can tell us anything about what reality is like beyond our capacity to experience it.

  227. 227
    bornagain77 says:

    “I’m not interested in getting into a debate about the relative veracity of the various claimants to truth that exist in the world.”

    But of course, your ‘inner knowing’ trumps all.

  228. 228
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen and KN:

    I would like to say that I am also enjoying your conversation immensely. It is one of the most intellectually stimulating that I have encountered on this blog. Hats off to both of you.

    And here’s my two cents regarding your category three type of statement: They are definitely based on our experience of physical reality, and as such, even though “self-evidently true” may still be subject to modification based on new experience. For example, before quantum physics, but after Newton, anyone would have said that it is self-evidently true that a physical phenomenon could be either be a wave or a particle, but not both. After quantum physics, however, that self-evident proposition turns out to be false. Electrons fired through two slits in a barrier onto a detector behave as both waves and particles. It would also have been said to be self-evidently true that the mere fact of observing a physical entity cannot change its essential nature. Post quantum physics, of course, we know that the observation of an electron changes it from a “probability wave” into a particle. Quantum weirdness gets even more bizarre, even including effects that apparently travel backwards in time, a possibility that would have been categorized as self-evidently impossible pre-quantum physics.

  229. 229
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Bruce David @ 228:

    That’s a nice example from the history of science — thanks! In fact, it was largely because of general relativity and quantum mechanics that many philosophers in the 1920s rejected synthetic a priori statements entirely. That’s how “logical positivism” (aka “logical empiricism”) was born. I have some ideas about how one might salvage synthetic a priority in response, but I’ll have to return to that idea later on.

  230. 230
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist:

    Thank you for your response. While I disagree with your account of Kant’s views, I am going to bypass my objections and the reasons for them in order to more clearly identify your views. What matters at this point is not if Kant accepts self-evident truths as non-negotiable principles of right reason, but if you do.

    I wrote this: If, in principle, a universe can pop into existence without a cause, which seems to be what you are arguing, why could not a cement wall could appear suddenly in front of your rapidly-moving automobile for no reason, or why could not an apartment building spring up on a lot without a builder? For that matter, why could my last paragraph not have come into being without my authorship?

    You responded with this comment:

    …”sudden events such as these — cement walls and apartment building suddenly popping into existence — conflict with everything about the world as we experience it. (Kant himself has a nice phrase somewhere in the Critique, “if cinnabar were sometimes red and sometimes black”, we simply would not know what to say — our words would utterly fail us.)

    At this point, I should probably recall the substance of my question and note the fact that your answer did not really address it. Let me break it down and explain the reasons for the terms employed:

    When I ask if something “can happen in principle,” I am not really asking you if it comports or conflicts with our experience, but rather if, “in principle,” it CAN happen at all, anytime—ever. A self-evident truth is a “principle” that we recognize as being true for all people, all times, and all places. It admits of no exceptions. It is not an empirical probability statement about what is likely to happen based on past experience.

    No one I know would say, for example, that “based on our past experience, no proposition has ever been known to be true and false at the same time.” We simply say that a proposition simply cannot be true and false at the same time. Equally important, we don’t just say that a thing cannot be and not be, as if it applied only to logical formulation. The logician would say also that Jupiter cannot exist and not exist at the same time because he knows that the principle can be infallibly applied to the real world. Otherwise, there would be no way of distinguishing a valid argument (one that is internally consistent) from a sound argument (one that is really true) If you disagree with this statement, that is, if you are not sure that the Law of Identity applies to Jupiter on the grounds that we have not yet experienced Jupiter not existing, or on the grounds that the Law of Identity does not apply to the real world, I would appreciate knowing about it.

    Meanwhile, when I ask if, in principle, a cement wall can appear in front of your rapidly-moving automobile, or if an apartment building can spring up on an empty lot without a builder, I am not asking you about the absence of any historical evidence for any such events, I am asking you if such events could ever, under any circumstances, happen. In other words, I am asking you to provide one of two answers: [a] I rule out the possibility because I accept the Law of Causality (nothing can begin to exist without a cause) or [b] I do not rule out the possibility because I do not accept causality as a law (some things can begin to exist without a cause).

    If your answer is [a] then I would ask why you apply it to cement walls and buildings and not to universes. Are universes in less need of a cause than walls and buildings?
    If your answer is [b] then I would ask what else can appear from out of nowhere besides cement walls and buildings and, in keeping with that point, the derivative question: How can a scientist reliably identify causes if, absent the Law of Causality, there is no way of knowing which events were caused and which ones were not?

  231. 231
    StephenB says:

    Bruce, you wrote:

    I would like to say that I am also enjoying your conversation immensely. It is one of the most intellectually stimulating that I have encountered on this blog. Hats off to both of you.

    Thank you very much!!!

    And here’s my two cents regarding your category three type of statement: They are definitely based on our experience of physical reality, and as such, even though “self-evidently true” may still be subject to modification based on new experience.

    This is precisely what the debate is about. Two world views are being juxtaposed: [a] Reason’s unchanging rules inform evidence vs. [b] Evidence informs reason’s changing rules. Of course, I am arguing for [a] because I don’t understand how [b] can be maintained (as implied in my comment to KN @230).

  232. 232
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    You’re welcome
    Also,

    Two world views are being juxtaposed: [a] Reason’s unchanging rules inform evidence vs. [b] Evidence informs reason’s changing rules. Of course, I am arguing for [a] because I don’t understand how [b] can be maintained (as implied in my comment to KN @230).

    I opt for [b], and I gave three examples in #228 based on quantum physics. This reworking of the rules is not something that happens every day; in fact it is quite rare, IMO. However, it does happen. Did you read my examples, and if so, what is your objection to my reasoning?

    That said, however, and just for the record, I would like you to know that I agree with you that nothing can begin to exist without a cause. Although…”ghost particles”, according to quantum theory, do continuously appear and disappear in the vacuum state. Do they have a cause? Does the mathematics behind quantum theory qualify as a cause?

  233. 233
    bornagain77 says:

    As to BD’s question:

    Although…”ghost particles”, according to quantum theory, do continuously appear and disappear in the vacuum state. Do they have a cause?

    Here are a few notes on the subject:

    It seems even the ‘exotic’ virtual photons, which fleetingly pop into and out of existence, may be tied directly to the anthropic principle through the 1 in 10^120 cosmological constant for dark energy:

    ELECTROMAGNETIC DARK ENERGY – 2007
    Abstract: We introduce a new model for dark energy in the Universe in which a small cosmological constant is generated by ordinary electromagnetic vacuum energy. The corresponding virtual photons exist at all frequencies but switch from a gravitationally active phase at low frequencies to a gravitationally inactive phase at higher frequencies via a Ginzburg–Landau type of phase transition. Only virtual photons in the gravitationally active state contribute to the cosmological constant. A small vacuum energy density, consistent with astronomical observations, is naturally generated in this model. We propose possible laboratory tests for such a scenario based on phase synchronization in superconductors.
    http://www.worldscinet.com/ijm.....11870.html

    Shining new light on dark energy with galaxy clusters – December 2010
    Excerpt: “Each model for dark energy makes a prediction that you should see this many clusters, with this particular mass, this particular distance away from us,” Sehgal said. Sehgal tested these predictions by using data from the most massive galaxy clusters. The results support the standard, vacuum-energy model for dark energy.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....sters.html

    Virtual particles, on the other hand, are discussed in the following video as to being necessary for the stability/existence of atoms:

    Virtual Particles, Anthropic Principle and Special Relativity – Michael Strauss PhD. Particle Physics – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4554674

    Here is an interesting experiment accomplished with these ghostly ‘virtual’ particles and photons:

    Researchers create light from ‘almost nothing’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A group of physicists working out of Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, have succeeded in proving what was until now, just theory; and that is, that visible photons could be produced from the virtual particles that have been thought to exist in a quantum vacuum. In a paper published on arXiv, the team describes how they used a specially created circuit called a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) to modulate a bit of wire length at a roughly five percent of the speed of light, to produce visible “sparks” from the nothingness of a vacuum.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....lmost.html

    It is also interesting to point out just how powerful this vacuum energy is:

    Vacuum energy:
    Excerpt: Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy that exists in space even when the space is devoid of matter (free space). (Vacuum energy has a postulated) value of 10^113 Joules per cubic meter.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_energy

    and:

    (10^113 joules) per (cubic meter) = 10 ^113 pascals (Pa)

    and:

    10^113 Pa approx = 4.6×10^113 Pa = 6.7×10^109 psi; Of note: The Planck pressure (4.63×10^108 bar), not reached except shortly after the Big Bang or in a black hole.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.....ressure%29

    Related noted:

    How the Power of Intention Alters Matter – Dr. William A. Tiller
    Excerpt: “Most people think that the matter is empty, but for internal self consistency of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, there is required to be the equivalent of 10 to 94 grams of mass energy, each gram being E=MC2 kind of energy. Now, that’s a huge number, but what does it mean practically? Practically, if I can assume that the universe is flat, and more and more astronomical data is showing that it’s pretty darn flat, if I can assume that, then if I take the volume or take the vacuum within a single hydrogen atom, that’s about 10 to the minus 23 cubic centimeters. If I take that amount of vacuum and I take the latent energy in that, there is a trillion times more energy there than in all of the mass of all of the stars and all of the planets out to 20 billion light-years. That’s big, that’s big. And if consciousness allows you to control even a small fraction of that, creating a big bang is no problem.”
    – Dr. William Tiller – has been a professor at Stanford U. in the Department of materials science & Engineering
    http://www.beyondtheordinary.n.....ller.shtml

    As to BD’s question here:

    Does the mathematics behind quantum theory qualify as a cause?

    An interesting about the mathematics of Quantum Theory is that a conscious observer has the freedom to choose when the boundary conditions of the Schrodinger equation will be implemented:

    Wheeler’s Delayed Choice Experiment – 2010
    Excerpt: The Delayed Choice experiment changes the boundary conditions of the Schrodinger equation after the particle enters the first beamsplitter.
    http://www.physics.drexel.edu/.....elayed.pdf

    But why should the boundary condition of a ‘abstract’ mathematical equation even care when I choose to make the measurement?

    “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.”
    (Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.)

    Music:

    Andy Williams – Do You Hear What I Hear?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em0P9zb3a3k

  234. 234
    bornagain77 says:

    KN you state:

    In fact, it was largely because of general relativity and quantum mechanics that many philosophers in the 1920s rejected synthetic a priori statements entirely.

    Actually the primary philosophy that was severely compromised by its a priori statements about how reality should be, was naturalism/materialism. Theism, on the other hand, and its ‘a priori statements’ about reality, fared quite well through the entire ordeal.

    notes to that effect:

    I find it very interesting that the materialistic/naturalistic belief of the universe being stable, and infinite in duration, was so deeply rooted in supposedly scientific thought (though ‘science’ is not even possible with a priori Theological presuppositons) that Albert Einstein (1879-1955), when he was shown his general relativity equation indicated a universe that was unstable and would ‘draw together’ under its own gravity, added, in his self admitted ‘greatest blunder’, a cosmological constant to his equation to reflect a stable universe rather than entertain the thought that the universe may have had a beginning.

    Einstein and The Belgian Priest, George Lemaitre – The “Father” Of The Big Bang Theory – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4279662

    “There has arisen a curious consilience between the findings of modern cosmology and some traditional understandings of the creation of the universe. For example, theists have noted that the model known as the Big Bang has a certain consistency with the Judeo-Christian notion of creation ex nihilo, a consistency not seen in other cosmologies that postulated an eternally existent universe. (In fact, when the astronomer-priest Georges Lemaître first postulated the theory, he was met with such skepticism by proponents of an eternal universe that the name “Big Bang” was coined by his opponents — as a term of ridicule.) Likewise, many cosmologists have articulated various forms of what is known as the “anthropic principle” — that is, the observation that the basic laws of the universe seem to be “fine-tuned” in such a way as to be favorable to life, including human life.”
    – Austin L. Hughes, evolutionary biologist – “The Folly of Scientism,” The New Atlantis (Fall, 2012):32-50.

    David Berlinski at “Socrates in the City” speaking on ‘Einstein’s Blunder’ – podcast
    http://intelligentdesign.podom.....4_17-07_00

    Einstein’s general relativity equation was extended in the early 1970’s to confirm not only did matter and energy have a beginning in the Big Bang, but that space-time itself also had a beginning. i.e. The Big Bang was an absolute origin of space-time, matter-energy, and as such demands a cause which transcends space-time, matter-energy.

    “Every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.”
    (Hawking, Penrose, Ellis) – 1970

    This was not the last time Einstein’s base materialistic/naturalistic philosophy had severely misled him. He was also severely misled in the Bohr–Einstein debates in which he was repeatedly proven wrong in challenging the ‘spooky action at a distance’ (instantaneous) postulations of the emerging field of quantum mechanics. This following video highlights the Bohr/Einstein debate and the decades long struggle to ‘scientifically’ resolve the disagreement between them:

    The Failure Of Local Realism or Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    I wonder how radically Einstein’s base philosophy would have been altered by these modern findings confirming the validity of quantum mechanics?

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed partly because he show math to be ‘incomplete’) (Einstein use to joke that he went to Princeton for the privilege of walking home with Godel)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
    Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must ex­plain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
    http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....142217.htm

    “I discovered that nature was constructed in a wonderful way, and our task is to find out its mathematical structure”
    Albert Einstein – The Einstein Factor – Reader’s Digest

    It is also interesting to note that ‘higher dimensional’ mathematics had to be developed before Einstein could elucidate General Relativity, or even before Quantum Mechanics could be elucidated;

    The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss and Riemann – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

  235. 235
    bornagain77 says:

    Music:

    Now THIS is the mother of all Flash Mobs…just watch!
    http://www.facebook.com/photo......38;theater

  236. 236
    bornagain77 says:

    correction: (though ‘science’ is not even possible withOUT a priori Theological presuppositons)

  237. 237
    Upright BiPed says:

    If “cinnabar were sometimes red and sometimes black” is beyond my ability to experience it.

    If “universes might pop into existence” is beyond my ability to experience it.

    Then it is not obvious how ‘if words should fail me, and I know not what to say’ is a meaningful distinction between the two.

  238. 238
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB @ 230:

    I understand perfectly well what you’re asking here; I just haven’t figured out how to respond in a way that demonstrates my understanding. The difference here between us concerns what we understand by “in principle”.

    When I ask if something “can happen in principle,” I am not really asking you if it comports or conflicts with our experience, but rather if, “in principle,” it CAN happen at all, anytime—ever. A self-evident truth is a “principle” that we recognize as being true for all people, all times, and all places. It admits of no exceptions. It is not an empirical probability statement about what is likely to happen based on past experience.

    I understand perfectly that you’re not asking about likelihoods, but rather about necessity and possibility. That’s not the problem. Rather, on my interpretation of what’s at stake here, the problem here is that you and I have different conceptions of necessity and possibility.

    Why do I say that? Because I, like other philosophers in the tradition that runs from the empiricists through Kant to the pragmatists, think that claims about necessity and possibility usually (thought not always) amount to claims about what it does and does not make sense to say.

    On my view, notions such as “logical impossibility” are to be explained in terms of linguistic non-sense, not the other way around — metaphysics is the shadow cast by semantics, not the other way around. This is, I think, why it feels to me that we keep on talking past each other — we have radically different positions on the relation between metaphysics and semantics.

    If you disagree with this statement, that is, if you are not sure that the Law of Identity applies to Jupiter on the grounds that we have not yet experienced Jupiter not existing, or on the grounds that the Law of Identity does not apply to the real world, I would appreciate knowing about it.

    I had one thought in response to this, which is a tangent from the main thread of our conversation, but which I thought worth raising. Of course “the law of identity” applies to Jupiter — but, in my view, it does so because Jupiter is a particular kind of object, and the law of identity necessarily applies to objects. But what does that mean?

    In my view, it means that the law of identity is an explicit statement about the fundamental norms which governs the conceptual framework of objecthood. It would, however, still be up to us to use a different conceptual framework. If we abandoned the ontology of objects in favor of process-based ontology, would the law of identity still hold? I don’t think we can decide that in advance. The laws of logic are a priori by virtue of explicating the constitutive norms of the conceptual schemes, but the conceptual schemes themselves are not held fast and for all time. The world does have some say in what conceptual frameworks we employ — it’s not a blank slate, ontologically speaking — but I think that “the world itself” radically under-determines our choice of conceptual framework.

    For a better elucidation of what I’m aiming at here, I recommend — for the curious — Wilfrid Sellars’ “Is There a Synthetic ‘A Priori’?“, in particular section 10.

    Finally, then, to return to the point:

    In other words, I am asking you to provide one of two answers: [a] I rule out the possibility because I accept the Law of Causality (nothing can begin to exist without a cause) or [b] I do not rule out the possibility because I do not accept causality as a law (some things can begin to exist without a cause).

    If your answer is [a] then I would ask why you apply it to cement walls and buildings and not to universes. Are universes in less need of a cause than walls and buildings?

    I do opt for the “A” interpretation of the law of causality, or as I called it above, the General Causal Principle (GCP), which is to say, yes, it’s a priori, it holds universally and necessarily — but, and this is my Kantianism, only with respect to experience.

    I feel that this distinction is not really getting across. What I want to say here is this: there’s what is merely likely or probably with regards to experience (the synthetic a posteriori), and then there’s what is necessary and universal with regards to thought (the analytic a priori), and then there’s what is necessary and universal with regards to experience (the synthetic a priori).

    So I accept the universality and necessity of the general causal principle, sure, but not as holding “in all possible worlds” — rather, as holding “for all possible experience”.

    And that is why I do indeed hold that the universe does not require a causal explanation, whereas walls and buildings do — because the GCP only objects of possible experience, and hence only to objects within space and time, like walls and buildings, and not to universes.

    I don’t imagine that you’ll find these responses satisfying, but it’s the best I can do.

  239. 239
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    A quick after-the-fact correction: I just said that

    On my view, notions such as “logical impossibility” are to be explained in terms of linguistic non-sense, not the other way around — metaphysics is the shadow cast by semantics, not the other way around. This is, I think, why it feels to me that we keep on talking past each other — we have radically different positions on the relation between metaphysics and semantics.

    On reflection that’s not quite what I wanted to say. I don’t think that metaphysics is always the shadow cast by grammar. Rather, my view is that we should begin by assessing or taking stock of our ontological claims, then “go transcendental” and assess how those first-order ontological claims are grounded in the conceptual frameworks that we’ve got up and running — and then determine which conceptual frameworks are most useful, and for which purposes. Only at that point, and in light of a maximally general transcendental argument for pragmatic realism, should we then endorse the ontological commitments of our most useful conceptual frameworks.

  240. 240
    Mung says:

    KN:

    In my view, it means that the law of identity is an explicit statement about the fundamental norms which governs the conceptual framework of objecthood.

    Is the law of non-contradiction itself an object?

    Surely it is an object of thought.

    By the way, has anyone raised the question of logical cause? That might avoid the temporal question.

    Is the universe self-sustaining? If it began to exist, what is the cause of it’s continued existence? What prevents it from ceasing to exist?

  241. 241
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: Mung @ 240:

    Is the law of non-contradiction itself an object?

    Surely it is an object of thought.

    I’m not crazy about being so generous with the term “object” that everything one thinks about is an “object.” But of course it is something thought about. To say that everything thought about is an “object” invites a familiar line of thought about the nature of “abstract entities”, which raises — I believe — more problems than it solves.

  242. 242
    bornagain77 says:

    Kantian as to this comment of yours on the ‘information paradox’ pointed out by Davies:

    (One worry I do have here is whether it’s really correct to say that “intelligence” can “generate” “information”. It’s a fundamental commitment of design theory, and it bothers me terribly — I don’t think that really gets at what’s important in the relationship between intelligence and information. More on this as I puzzle it out.)

    Well Kantian, the funny thing in all this ‘bothers me terribly’ stuff about your reservation for saying intelligence can generate information, is that you yourself just generated more information than the entire material processes of the universe, over the entire history of the universe, in that one short paragraph? ,,, Please answer me one question with just a short yes or no answer, with no philosophical mumbo jumbo,, “Are you or are you not intelligent?” Yes or No?

    Notes:

    Book Review – Meyer, Stephen C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
    Excerpt: As early as the 1960s, those who approached the problem of the origin of life from the standpoint of information theory and combinatorics observed that something was terribly amiss. Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. Now of course, elementary particles aren’t chemical laboratories, nor does peptide synthesis take place where most of the baryonic mass of the universe resides: in stars or interstellar and intergalactic clouds. If you look at the chemistry, it gets even worse—almost indescribably so: the precursor molecules of many of these macromolecular structures cannot form under the same prebiotic conditions—they must be catalysed by enzymes created only by preexisting living cells, and the reactions required to assemble them into the molecules of biology will only go when mediated by other enzymes, assembled in the cell by precisely specified information in the genome.
    So, it comes down to this: Where did that information come from? The simplest known free living organism (although you may quibble about this, given that it’s a parasite) has a genome of 582,970 base pairs, or about one megabit (assuming two bits of information for each nucleotide, of which there are four possibilities). Now, if you go back to the universe of elementary particle Planck time chemical labs and work the numbers, you find that in the finite time our universe has existed, you could have produced about 500 bits of structured, functional information by random search. Yet here we have a minimal information string which is (if you understand combinatorics) so indescribably improbable to have originated by chance that adjectives fail.
    http://www.fourmilab.ch/docume.....k_726.html

    To clarify as to how the 500 bit universal limit is found for ‘structured, functional, information’:

    Dembski’s original value for the universal probability bound is 1 in 10^150,

    10^80, the number of elementary particles in the observable universe.
    10^45, the maximum rate per second at which transitions in physical states can occur.
    10^25, a billion times longer than the typical estimated age of the universe in seconds.

    Thus, 10^150 = 10^80 × 10^45 × 10^25. Hence, this value corresponds to an upper limit on the number of physical events that could possibly have occurred since the big bang.

    How many bits would that be:

    Pu = 10-150, so, -log2 Pu = 498.29 bits

    Call it 500 bits (The 500 bits is further specified as a specific type of information. It is specified as Complex Specified Information by Dembski or as Functional Information by Abel to separate it from merely Ordered Sequence Complexity or Random Sequence Complexity; See Three subsets of sequence complexity)
    Three subsets of sequence complexity and their relevance to biopolymeric information – Abel, Trevors
    http://www.tbiomed.com/content/2/1/29

    This short sentence, “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” is calculated by Winston Ewert, in this following video at the 10 minute mark, to contain 1000 bits of algorithmic specified complexity, and thus to exceed the Universal Probability Bound (UPB) of 500 bits set by Dr. Dembski:

    Proposed Information Metric: Conditional Kolmogorov Complexity – Winston Ewert – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm3mm3ofAYU

    Here are the slides of preceding video with the calculation of the information content of the preceding sentence on page 14
    http://www.blythinstitute.org/.....t_info.pdf

    Further note:

    “Monkeys Typing Shakespeare” Simulation Illustrates Combinatorial Inflation Problem – October 2011
    Excerpt: In other words, Darwinian evolution isn’t going to be able to produce fundamentally new protein folds. In fact, it probably wouldn’t even be able to produce a single 9-character string of nucleotides in DNA, if that string would not be retained by selection until all 9 nucleotides were in place.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....51561.html

    So Kantian, basically, to cut to the chase, you have ZERO evidence that natural processes can generate any non-trivial functional information, and you yourself provide the evidence that intelligence (if you consider yourself intelligent) can produce more information than has ever been observed to be generated by the natural processes of the universe, over the entire history of the universe, every time you write a short paragraph!

    So Kantian, yes or no, “Are you intelligent?”

  243. 243
    Mung says:

    KN:

    I’m not crazy about being so generous with the term “object” that everything one thinks about is an “object.”

    Was the Higgs Boson an object before it was an object?

    What sorts of entities can be ‘objects’ of study?

    I guess I’m trying to pin you down on whether you think objects must be physical entities and whether you think our thoughts are physical entities and therefore fully worthy of the term object.

    🙂

    Also whether you think something can be logically prior independent of temporality.

    I’m sure all this has been thought out by philosophers through the ages, lol.

  244. 244
    Mung says:

    Are you or are you not intelligent?

    Who cares if he’s intelligent if he’s not intelligible!

    (Not insinuating that you’re not intelligible KN.)

    😉

  245. 245
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Was the Higgs Boson an object before it was an object?

    What sorts of entities can be ‘objects’ of study?

    I guess I’m trying to pin you down on whether you think objects must be physical entities and whether you think our thoughts are physical entities and therefore fully worthy of the term object.

    You know, I’m actually on the fence about this one. On the one hand, I freely acknowledge that all sorts of “entities” can be stipulated by all sorts of conceptual schemes. In the conceptual scheme of mathematics, there are numbers; in the conceptual scheme of classical quantum mechanics, there are entities that have wave-like properties and particle-like properties; in the conceptual scheme of persons, there are rights.

    On the other hand, there’s a separate question as to which conceptual schemes actually bear a relation to ‘how the world really is,’ and that’s where my scruples are both naturalistic and nominalistic. Are there really numbers, or logical principles? Eh, I don’t know. I have a hard time figuring out what’s really at stake in asking those questions, since it doesn’t seem to matter too much either way. Even if, in some sense, logical principles aren’t part of the ultimate structure of reality, we rational beings certainly cannot live and function without them.

    Also whether you think something can be logically prior independent of temporality.

    Ah, I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what this means.

  246. 246
    Mung says:

    KN:

    Ah, I’m afraid I don’t quite understand what this means

    In a deductive argument, must a premise be logically prior to the conclusion? Does the temporality matter?

  247. 247
    StephenB says:

    In order to make sense of discussions such as these, both sides must make a disciplined effort to use common terms when referring to abstract ideas. One important principle that people often miss is the glaringly obvious fact that words do, in fact, mean things. This is the genius of the philosophers of antiquity—philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. They actually define their terms in ways that make rational discourse possible. They wrote in order to clarify, not to obfuscate.

    On the Laws of thought and intellectual conflict, for example, we know that Aristotle describes them in both ontological and epistemological terms. To put it simply, he covers all the important bases. The Law of Identity is ontological, it refers to being qua being—about what IS; the Law of Non-Contradiction is logical, it refers to what we say about being—our linguistic and logical constructions with respect to what IS; The Law of Non-Contradiction is also psychological, it refers to our level of certitude about the previous two laws.

    What does this mean? Among other things, it tells us that these manifestations of the laws of thought are inextricably tied together as one, but it also tells us that we consciously use a different term for each manifestation so that we can know exactly what we mean when we use the relevant terms, especially when it becomes necessary to be formal and rigorous as opposed to simply being informal and descriptive. When we refer to the Law of Identity, for example, we are speaking of things as they are, not as we might describe them. We have the other two expressions to convey that meaning.

    Accordingly, we can distinguish these three manifestations of the LNC, but we cannot separate them, as if to escape refutation of an argument by saying that we accept one expression unconditionally, but not the other—or by suggesting that any one manifestation depends on another manifestation—as if the Law of Identity depended somehow on the way we use language or frame ideas.

    Kantian Naturalist

    In my view, it means that the law of identity is an explicit statement about the fundamental norms which governs the conceptual framework of objecthood.

    As a formulation which expresses being as being, or what is, the Law of Identity does not depend on, or refer in any way, to human norms or conceptual frameworks, both of which are epistemological, not ontological. This is important because the inability to acknowledge the point prompts one to hesitate before acknowledging those same self-evident truths that underlie rational analysis, among which are the laws I just mentioned. When this happens, postmodernists or Kantian enthusiasts, when asked to affirm these non-negotiable laws will hedge just long enough to change the discussion to references about our mental apparatus—just long enough to say, “well, yes and no,” or “well, maybe the law applies inside my mind, but outside of it, who knows.”

    With respect to the problem of mental framing, the Law of Identity is not simply an apriori principle waiting around to be ratified by this or that conceptualist framework, such as process philosophy or substance theory. It is the rational standard by which those conceptual frameworks are judged. Without it, there are no rational standards. Conceptual fashions come and go. Error changes; truth doesn’t. In like fashion, the Laws of Identity and Causation do not submit to the authority of scientific evidence; they are the rational standards by which scientific evidence is interpreted. My earlier question persists: If the Law of Causality admits of any exceptions, how does the scientist, who seeks to identify causes, know which events were caused and which ones were not?

    I do opt for the “A” interpretation of the law of causality, or as I called it above, the General Causal Principle (GCP), which is to say, yes, it’s a priori, it holds universally and necessarily — but, and this is my Kantianism, only with respect to experience.

    and again

    I feel that this distinction is not really getting across. What I want to say here is this: there’s what is merely likely or probably with regards to experience (the synthetic a posteriori), and then there’s what is necessary and universal with regards to thought (the analytic a priori), and then there’s what is necessary and universal with regards to experience (the synthetic a priori).

    Let us recall the Aristotelian framework once again. The first principles of right reason manifest themselves ontologically (what is), logically (what we say about what is), and psychologically (our experience). They are inseparable. One cannot reasonably say that they apply only to experience.

    So I accept the universality and necessity of the general causal principle, sure, but not as holding “in all possible worlds” — rather, as holding “for all possible experience”.

    This is a good time to emphasize the meaning of the operative word. “Universal,” means universal—without exception–all possible worlds–or universes.

    And that is why I do indeed hold that the universe does not require a causal explanation, whereas walls and buildings do — because the GCP only objects of possible experience, and hence only to objects within space and time, like walls and buildings, and not to universes.

    The universe is no less situated in time and space than walls and buildings. In any case, we have now been presented with yet a second exception to a universal rule. Exception 1—limited by experience:::Exception 2—limited by time and space. How many more exceptions and limitations will we find to a law that allows of no exceptions?. Time and space have nothing to do with the validity of the law. It is just as impossible for God to exist and not exist at the same time and under the same formal circumstances as it is for Jupiter to exist and not exist in that same way.

  248. 248
    Bruce David says:

    KN:
    I’ve been imagining what it would “look like” (for want of better terminology) if the Universe had no cause. What I get is that space and time simply began 14 billion years ago or thereabouts. Before that—well, there is no before that. It is almost impossible to imagine all of reality (if materialism is correct), including time, beginning 14 billion years ago. Our concept of time extends infinitely into the past. To say that “there is no before that” seems to violate something fundamental. Doesn’t it strike you as odd and in violation of something fundamental that physical reality, including space and time began 14 billion years ago and that there is no before that?

    Believing that the popping into existence of the universe is without cause also makes the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” impossible to answer.

    On the other hand, if one posits a Divine Creator Who inhabits the Eternal Now (as has been experienced by many people during an NDE), then it makes sense to say that in this moment of Now, God and we have chosen to experience a physical reality that includes the experience of the passage of time and which apparently began 14 billion years ago. This makes even more sense if one believes, as do I and a number of others including Bishop Berkeley, that the physical universe is an illusion, a kind of virtual reality, like in The Matrix, only in which there is no physical reality underlying the illusion and God plays the role of the computer which manages our collective experience so that we all appear to inhabit the same physical universe.

    And of course, if matter doesn’t actually exist and all there is is mind, then the question of how inanimate matter could produce qualia doesn’t arise.

  249. 249
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    the physical universe is an illusion, a kind of virtual reality, like in The Matrix, only in which there is no physical reality underlying the illusion and God plays the role of the computer which manages our collective experience so that we all appear to inhabit the same physical universe.

    Personally I feel the word “illusion” is just plain misleading to describe material reality and invite you to bang your head on the computer sitting in front of you to prove to yourself that the computer sitting in front of you is, or is not, an illusion.

    banging head to keyboard test for reality – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uekLLXcg-ng

    So as to provide high statistical correlation, I suggest repeating the test over and over. 🙂

    … Instead of the much abused word ‘illusion’ that gets tossed around by so loosely by people, people should more accurately opt for saying something, so as to avoid confusion, such as; “material reality is a “secondary reality” that is dependent on the primary reality of God’s mind” to exist.” The following comment from a blogger on UD reflects fairly closely how I, as a Christian, view reality;

    “I do believe in the physical, concrete universe as real. It isn’t just an illusion. However, being a Christian, I can say, also, that the spiritual realm is even more real than the physical. More real, in this sense, however, isn’t to be taken to mean that the physical is “less” real, but that it is less important. The physical, ultimately, really derives its significance from the spiritual, and not the other way around. I submit to you, though, that the spiritual reality, in some sense, needs the physical reality, just as a baseball game needs a place to be played. The game itself may be more important than the field, but the game still needs the field in order to be played. The players are the most important part of the game, but without bats, balls, and gloves, the players cannot play. Likewise, without a physical, concrete reality, the spiritual has “no place to play”. Love, without a concrete reality, has no place to act out its romance; joy has nothing to jump up and down on, and consciousness has nothing to wake up to.” – Brent – UD Blogger
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-380294

    footnote:

    Quantum Mechanics has now been extended to falsify local realism (reductive materialism) without even using quantum entanglement to do it:

    ‘Quantum Magic’ Without Any ‘Spooky Action at a Distance’ – June 2011
    Excerpt: A team of researchers led by Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences used a system which does not allow for entanglement, and still found results which cannot be interpreted classically.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....111942.htm

    i.e. Physical reality is dependent on a ‘non-local’, beyond space and time, cause for its continued existence, and While energy/matter can be said to be what gives “substance” to material reality, energy/matter in and of itself, as strange as it may sound to some people, is, at bottom, a “non-solid” entity. In fact, it is the unchanging, transcendent, universal constants/forces of the universe, that have not varied one iota since the universe’s creation, that can be to be the ONLY solid, uncompromising “thing” in material reality. The last part of this following video, starting at the 5:09 minute mark, has some excellent photographs of atoms that gets this point across.

    Uncertainty Principle – The ‘Uncertain Non-Particle’ Basis Of Material Reality – video and article
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4109172

    Related notes:

    Does the atom have a designer? When science and spirituality meet – LAKHI GOENKA an Engineer – May 2012
    Excerpt: Atoms are machines that enable the physical, electromagnetic (including light), nuclear, chemical, and biological (including life) functioning of the universe. Atoms are a complex assembly of interacting particles that enable the entire functioning of the universe. They are the machine that enables all other machines. It is virtually impossible to explain the structure, complexity, internal dynamics, and resulting functionality of the atom from chance events or through evolutionary mechanisms. The atom is a machine that provides multiple functions, and every machine is the product of intelligence. The atom must have a designer.
    http://www.annarbor.com/news/o.....-designer/

    Delayed time zero in photoemission: New record in time measurement accuracy – June 2010
    Excerpt: Although they could confirm the effect qualitatively using complicated computations, they came up with a time offset of only five attoseconds. The cause of this discrepancy may lie in the complexity of the neon atom, which consists, in addition to the nucleus, of ten electrons. “The computational effort required to model such a many-electron system exceeds the computational capacity of today’s supercomputers,” explains Yakovlev.
    http://www.physorg.com/news196606514.html

    As to the oft heard assertion of physical reality being a ‘computer simulation’, well I find that particular term to be almost as misleading and inaccurate as the word ‘illusion’ is:

    Quantum Computing Promises New Insights, Not Just Supermachines – Scott Aaronson
    Published: December 5, 2011
    Excerpt: And yet, even though useful quantum computers might still be decades away, many of their payoffs are already arriving. For example, the mere possibility of quantum computers has all but overthrown a conception of the universe that scientists like Stephen Wolfram have championed. That conception holds that, as in the “Matrix” movies, the universe itself is basically a giant computer, twiddling an array of 1’s and 0’s in essentially the same way any desktop PC does.

    Quantum computing has challenged that vision by showing that if “the universe is a computer,” then even at a hard-nosed theoretical level, it’s a vastly more powerful kind of computer than any yet constructed by humankind. Indeed, the only ways to evade that conclusion seem even crazier than quantum computing itself: One would have to overturn quantum mechanics, or else find a fast way to simulate quantum mechanics using today’s computers.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12.....ef=science

    Music:

    Jeremy Camp – Christ Is Come – Nativity Story Movie Background
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5595254/j

  250. 250
    Box says:

    @228 & all

    Bruce David: “Stephen and KN:
    I would like to say that I am also enjoying your conversation immensely. It is one of the most intellectually stimulating that I have encountered on this blog. Hats off to both of you.”

    I most certainly agree and I would like to add: I’m very much impressed with all the contributors to this tread. In my book this has been an exceptional encounter in many ways. I’m not able to point out anyone who was ‘out of tune’. I do hope there will be follow-ups in the future.
    @ 213

    William J Murray: I’m not sure how *you* can claim to love a god that allows any torture to exist, given your statements here. Why should god allow any torture at all to exist?

    This is a difficult question for me. I think I can only partly answer your question. In my concept learning / personal development / improving self-awareness is the central reason for us being on earth. Two things are essential to this kind of learning:
    – Independence – No divine traffic police. People are free to do what they please. We are responsible for our own actions.
    – Pain – Understanding the consequences of ones actions goes best by pain.
    This being said, there is the senseless torture of the innocents. I have two possible explanations within my concept. People who are being tortured had it coming based on their previous lives. In a former life they were the perpetrators, and now they have to experience what it means to be victims. And the second possibility is that there is something about pain which is necessary for completing the path towards true awareness. I have to admit that both explanations are not satisfactory to me at the moment.

  251. 251
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: StephenB @ 247

    It is the rational standard by which those conceptual frameworks are judged. Without it, there are no rational standards. Conceptual fashions come and go. Error changes; truth doesn’t.

    Ah, now we’re getting down to a very difficult issue — whether or not there is an “Archimedean lever” by which different conceptual frameworks can be evaluated? (And if there is, is there any good reason to believe that Aristotle just got it so completely right?)

    As I see it, there are, basically, three positions one might take here:

    (1) we have unmediated, direct access to some standard against which all of our conceptual frameworks can be evaluated, i.e. reality is unproblematically and directly Given to us;

    (2) reality is not unproblematically and directly Given to us, therefore there is no way at all of comparing different conceptual frameworks;

    (3) there is no unmediated, direct access to any standard against which all conceptual frameworks can be evaluated, but we can discern by internal characteristics how well each conceptual framework approximates reality.

    My preference, obviously, is for (3), as I made quite clear in my post (59) above. That’s a version of what today is called “convergent realism”, historically speaking associated with Hegel and with Peirce.

    But I don’t think it’s really all that different from what Plato himself thought; I think that Plato is actually pretty clear that we don’t have direct access to the things themselves, that the theory of “the forms” is itself introduced as a hypothesis in need of testing, and the theory itself is found wanting in the late dialogues.

    Aristotle, on the other hand, I worry really does commit himself to something like (1), especially about language itself. Why should we take the grammatical structure of ancient Greek as authoritative for rationality as such? What justifies that? Aristotle doesn’t bother to give an account of what grounds the principles of reason as he discerns them in the natural language of his time and place. Perhaps if he’d known about Buddhist logic he would have been less complacent; certainly Plato would have found Buddhist logic utterly fascinating, and so would Hegel.

    On to more immediate issues:

    Let us recall the Aristotelian framework once again. The first principles of right reason manifest themselves ontologically (what is), logically (what we say about what is), and psychologically (our experience). They are inseparable. One cannot reasonably say that they apply only to experience.

    I know Uncommon Descent is your sand-box, so there are certain conversational parameters that you have the right to establish by fiat, but I’m not willing to grant this Aristotelian interpretation — what you insist on calling “the first principles of right reason” looks to me like a dogmatic insistence on Aristotle’s interpretation of logic over Kant, Hegel, Peirce, and not to mention 20th-century logicians and epistemologists like C. I. Lewis, Rudolf Carnap, and so on. Aristotle was just wrong about a lot of things, and we know that now, not just about biology but also about epistemology and logic. If you want to kick me out of Uncommon Descent because I refuse to share your veneration of Aristotle, that’s your prerogative.

    The universe is no less situated in time and space than walls and buildings.

    Now, this strikes me as so clearly and obviously false that I assume it must be a typo, because walls and buildings are within the spatio-temporal framework of the universe. And if the universe is “no less situated in time and space”, then the assertion amounts to

    The entire space-time continuum is no less within the space-time continuum than walls and buildings.

    and I really don’t see how the space-time continuum can be within itself.

  252. 252
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    Pardon, but the issue is not Aristotle and his school imposed as some sort of authoritative writ or whether he happened to set up the right system, but something more basic.

    Namely, we have here one of the founders of the Western intellectual tradition, who was therefore able to get in on asking ground floor questions, relating to our world of thought and speech and the external world we inhabit, through rational inquiry as glorified common sense.

    Let us go back to being three years old, and beholding a bright red ball on a table. if you have difficulty with a thought exercise borrow a toddler and get him or her such a bright red ball — let the child keep it after the exercise, too! (Merry Christmas, dear Suzy or Tommy.)

    1 –> Is the ball there as a stable entity, distinct from the rest of the world? Common sense thinking says, yes; denying such is absurd.

    2 –> Can we accurately describe such a reality? Again, yes. Language is cultural and a matter for subjects, but it can plainly describe what is accurately — that red ball on the table.

    3 –> We may now form a pair of concepts: REALITY (what is), and TRUTH that accurately describes it. Or as Ari aptly rendered it more or less: truth says of what is, that it is, and of what is not, that it is not. [Met. 1011b]

    4 –> Thus also, we may see that ERROR is that which fails to be accurate. Hence, we can go to Josiah Royce’s Error Exists, E. Try to deny, NOT-E. Immediately, we see it is undeniably true as the denial instantiates a case of the truth of E. (Yes, self-evidence. Yes, knowledge as warranted, credibly true belief, here to undeniable certainty.)

    5 –> But, aren’t we begging a question of Ari’s laws of thought? Nope, once we see the stable identity and distinction between things like that red ball we can observe, and describe. We may err in some cases, but the very point of the undeniable reality of error is a case of certain truth about reality.

    6 –> So this is not a debate in some dismissive little toy sandbox between Ari and those who come after him (inviting the fallacy of trying to tell the truth by the clock), it is a question of responding to reality and letting that which is certain guide us in addressing what is less certain.

    7 –> Is the red ball on a table real and recognisably distinct from what is not that red ball? With all due respect, any three year old can clearly understand and properly respond to that reality. And we can accurately describe the situation. I am sure you will recognise the three classic laws of thought there.

    8 –> There is a temptation to toss in something like quantum superposition into such a situation, to create room for obfuscation. The quick answer is that the quantum scientists use the same essential principles in constructing the theory — think about how scratch marks on a chalkboard become significant here — and in contrasting expected and observed results (such as electron beam double slit experiments). It is not wise to saw off the branch on which we all must sit.

    9 –> In addition, I find it unwise to try to impose the view that we never know things as they are, as this is self referential. Yes, we do have issues with perceptions and sense organs and processing, or with how we think, but that soon becomes self-referentially incoherent if not balanced.

    I hope such few remarks will be helpful.

    KF

  253. 253
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: 252,

    Kairosfocus, the question is not whether there are objects in Space and in Time, nor whether have cognitive access to said objects. The questions, rather, are

    (1) do we have any cognitive orientation towards reality independent of the conceptual frameworks implicit within languages?

    (2) if so, does that orientation cash out as “rules of right reason”?

    (3) do the “rules of right reason” establish that the universe as a whole must have a cause?

    I resist StephenB’s line of thought for the following reasons:

    (a) I distinguish between analytic a priori and synthetic a priori claims, as a result of which the constitutive principles of modern science, such as “every event must have a cause”, are not strictly speaking part of logic itself;

    (b) the constitutive principles of modern science are not, by my lights, external to the entire practice of scientific explanation, but rather are explicit formulations of the norms of that inquiry. (We might say, these principles allow us to say what it is that scientists do.)

    (c) though I do think, along with Hegel, Peirce, and others, that our conceptual frameworks are themselves evolving and asymptotically approximating reality (“convergent realism”), I don’t think that we have any cognitive access to reality independent of our socio-linguistic concepts.

    (d) though we do have a lived intimacy with the world, and the world is as real to us as our own bodies and for the exact same reasons, this pre-objective experiential intimacy has, precisely because it is pre-objective, no epistemic authority for us.

    Our different conceptual frameworks all arise from the same lived ground of bodily experience, and all converge towards the real-in-itself, but the beginning and the end of inquiry are not the same. (Or, as Aristotle nicely puts it, there is what is first in relation to us and what is first in itself — paraphrasing from memory there, since I’m not with my books at the moment.)

    What is important to me, though, is avoiding what Wilfrid Sellars called “the Myth of the Given”. Part of his pragmatism involves the point that we are able to classify objects because of the concepts we have; we don’t first classify objects and then affix labels to them.

    There are undoubtedly some basic conceptual capacities that are ‘hard-wired’ into us, and I do not for a moment deny that these capacities discern objects and relations that are there anyway to be discerned — for although I do think that all thinking is conceptually structured, I do not think of concepts as standing in between mind and world — rather, I think of concepts as abilities to do things with the world, although abilities which supervene on our bodily capacities.

  254. 254
    Box says:

    KN:
    Even in the absence of time and space, one should explain why one assumes that the universe is capable of coming into existence without a cause. There is no reason to assume that outside the universe, in the absence of time and space, anything can come into existence; including donuts and crocodiles. Why should all logic be abandoned; without space and time?
    I would argue that the coming into existence of donuts, crocodiles and universes are in need of an explanation; irrespective of time and space.

  255. 255
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Personally I feel the word “illusion” is just plain misleading to describe material reality and invite you to bang your head on the computer sitting in front of you to prove to yourself that the computer sitting in front of you is, or is not, an illusion.

    This is a version of Dr. Johnson’s “refutation” of Berkely by kicking a stone. What he failed to see was that the experience of kicking the stone was an amalgam of visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and painful sensations, and that all of these, which constitute the entirety of our experience, occur in the mind. It is not necessary that there be a physical body or a physical stone actually in existence for this experience to occur. The proof of this is that it is entirely possible to experience kicking a stone in a dream, with all of the same sensations present, but no corresponding physical reality.

    You’re entitled to your opinion that our experience of physical reality corresponds to an actual material universe that is “out there”, but there is no logical reason for this to be true.

    And if you abandon that belief, a whole host of philosophical problems simply disappear, not the least of which is the mind body problem.

  256. 256
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    Pardon, but could you first kindly examine the case of how numbers in succession are now set up using manipulations of the empty set?

    Second, why should I care whether or no our ability to symbolise verbally and/or pictorially can be detached from our reasoning about reality, including abstract reality [e.g. numbers, propositions, ought-ness etc]? Especially, given that symbolic language is already embedded in the heart of cell based life? And given also, that a viable approach to grounding reality [as I will go on to sketch in below] is, “in the beginning was the LOGOS . . . “?

    Third, from the beginning, per age 3 and bright red balls etc, we experience stable identity and distinction, as well as requiring this in order to communicate. Even, to try to deny such by composing statements to try, demands our reliance on such — unless I am to regard the above as no difference from dyghihd6r68fyfsz etc. or any arbitrary noise string.

    So, I am able to see the self referential incoherence involved in the denial. Nor is this dismissible as circularity, as the matter is foundational alternatives and comparative difficulties. I have no reason to take seriously that which runs into such difficulties at the outset.

    So, I have every excellent reason to take the glorified commonsense view and accept identity, non confusion and distinction of the distinct as first principles of right reason. Until you can deny or dismiss or skeptically challenge such without self referential inconsistency, I need not take the attempted objection seriously.

    Further to this, I believe Schopenhauer it was who spoke in terms of what seems to me a further self evident principle: of anything that exists, it may be asked, why? That is, we see here the issue of contingency vs necessity of being and cause. Particularly in the relevant form of the required factor. Absent any of fuel, oxidiser, heat and self-sustaining heat giving reaction chain — the fire tetrahedron — there can be no start or persistence of a fire. Just so, that which begins has circumstances under which it would not obtain. That is, it has a cause and particularly at least one necessary causal factor. Turn on to enable, turn off to disable. By contrast we can conceive and exemplify entities that have no such required factors and are thus beginningless and endless, e,g. numbers and similar things. Such then points to the root of the contingent material cosmos we experience — multiverse speculations notwithstanding — being a necessary entity. (And where also the multiple ways in which the observed cosmos is fine tuned from its key laws, constants, proportions of key things etc on up points to intelligent, knowledgeable and skilled purpose behind it. That we find ourselves as bound by ought suggests that that root is also best understood as ethical. That is, an ethical theism is on the face of it, a reasonable view consistent with science, reason and morality. [BTW, you indicated you would be coming back to me on the issue of a finitely remote foundation to our worldviews some days back, this context would be appropriate for such.])

    So, I think it is entirely reasonable to accept that there are self evident first principles of right reason, such as we experience in action from our earliest days of acting on our own behalf, with red balls on tables and so forth.

    KF

  257. 257
    bornagain77 says:

    BD states:

    This is a version of Dr. Johnson’s “refutation” of Berkely by kicking a stone. What he failed to see was that the experience of kicking the stone was an amalgam of visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and painful sensations, and that all of these, which constitute the entirety of our experience, occur in the mind. It is not necessary that there be a physical body or a physical stone actually in existence for this experience to occur. The proof of this is that it is entirely possible to experience kicking a stone in a dream, with all of the same sensations present, but no corresponding physical reality.

    You have got to be kidding me! You offer what happens in a dream as evidence that physical reality is a only a ‘dream/illusion’??? And how does the little fact escape you that we know a dream is not real by the very fact that we awaken to physical ‘reality’. What is it about physical reality that sets that distinction between dreaming and wakefulness apart? There is differently some quality to material reality that differentiates an dream from wakefulness. You then go on to state:

    You’re entitled to your opinion that our experience of physical reality corresponds to an actual material universe that is “out there”, but there is no logical reason for this to be true.

    And if you abandon that belief, a whole host of philosophical problems simply disappear, not the least of which is the mind body problem.

    So I take it that you plan to go up to the victims of hurricane Sandy and tell them that there really is no physical reality ‘out there’, and if they would just abandon that belief that physical reality was real then the fact that their homes were destroyed in the hurricane would simply disappear??? Let me strongly caution you that your days as a social counselor would be short lived if you did that!

    Notes as to physical reality being ‘real’:

    While quantum mechanics leads to the conclusion that the basis of physical reality is, at its very base, information,,,

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.”
    Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/archi.....linger.pdf

    ,,,there is a important distinction to be made,,, First the digital signal ‘out there’ goes through a digital to analog conversion in the eye,,,

    The First Steps of Human Vision – Diane M. Szaflarski, Ph.D.
    Excerpt: “Research has shown that upon photo-excitation the retinal part of rhodopsin undergoes a twisting around one of its double bonds” (see Figure 4). The retinal then dissociates from the opsin. The change in geometry initiates a series of events that eventually cause electrical impulses to be sent to the brain along the optic nerve.”
    http://www.accessexcellence.or.....ground.php

    ,,Then the incoming signal goes back from analog motion to digital signal,,,

    New Research Shows Retina Complexities – Cornelius Hunter – December 16, 2012
    Excerpt: “New research out of Germany is helping to pinpoint details of how the mammalian retina converts incoming light into digital signals which ultimately make their way to the brain. Before the information is shipped off to the brain, however, it undergoes massive processing which, among other things, helps to extract features present in the incoming image.”
    http://darwins-god.blogspot.co.....ities.html

    Thus if there is truly no ‘out there’ that we are really living in (I can’t believe I have to actually argue this point 🙂 ) and we are merely ‘living in a illusion’ as you hold, what in blue blazes is with all the digital to analog back to digital conversion in the retina for?

    Note as to the ‘quantum differences’ in the brain in the dreaming and wakefulness states. At the 18:00 minute mark to about the 22:15 minute mark of the following video, a interesting study is highlighted on the sleeping brain that shows a fairly profound difference in the way the brain ‘shares information’ between different parts of the brain in its sleeping state compared to how the brain ‘shares information’ in its waking state:

    Through The Wormhole – Morgan Freeman – Life After Death – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7E6sihLgdU

  258. 258
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    You have got to be kidding me! You offer what happens in a dream as evidence that physical reality is a only a ‘dream/illusion’??? And how does the little fact escape you that we know a dream is not real by the very fact that we awaken to physical ‘reality’. What is it about physical reality that sets that distinction between dreaming and wakefulness apart? There is differently some quality to material reality that differentiates an dream from wakefulness.

    When you dream, unless it happens to be a lucid one, you don’t know you are dreaming. This demonstrates that it is not necessary for the physical world to exist in order to have the experience of physical reality that we have.

    Have you never had a false awakening, where you dreamed you awakened from a dream and were now in physical reality? In that dream, you were as sure that you were awake as you are now.

    Can you prove, even to yourself, that you are not at this moment dreaming?

    So I take it that you plan to go up to the victims of hurricane Sandy and tell them that there really is no physical reality ‘out there’, and if they would just abandon that belief that physical reality was real then the fact that their homes were destroyed in the hurricane would simply disappear???

    Why would I do that? Even if they believed me, which most would not, would that change anything? They still live, for now, in the virtual reality that is physical existence.

    What is of great comfort to me is the knowledge that this physical existence is only a temporary state that I experience from time to time, but that my true home in which I abide between lives is a place of love in which nothing needed is found wanting, and in which all those I love or have loved exist eternally.

  259. 259
    kairosfocus says:

    BD: Methinks, it is you who needs to take up the challenge of “proving” that you are not a brain in some mad scientist’s vat, or a denizen of Plato’s cave, or that you are not the product of the instant creation of a cosmos with an apparent past five seconds ago. In short, you are in the grips of one of those self-referential systems that entails the GENERAL unreliability of our senses, thoughts, knowledge etc. Such systems are self-undermining and are to be regarded as absurd. BA is right to challenge you with a dose of the sheer raw irruption of the unexpected. Please think again. KF

  260. 260
    bornagain77 says:

    BD, you are being much to loose with your definition of illusion, moreover, from the sheer irrationality of your position, it becomes crystal clear why modern science never reached maturity in the eastern religions. i.e. Why study nature if it is but a ‘illusion’?

    The Origin of Science:
    Excerpt: Modern experimental science was rendered possible, Jaki has shown, as a result of the Christian philosophical atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Although a talent for science was certainly present in the ancient world (for example in the design and construction of the Egyptian pyramids), nevertheless the philosophical and psychological climate was hostile to a self-sustaining scientific process. Thus science suffered still-births in the cultures of ancient China, India, Egypt and Babylonia. It also failed to come to fruition among the Maya, Incas and Aztecs of the Americas. Even though ancient Greece came closer to achieving a continuous scientific enterprise than any other ancient culture, science was not born there either. Science did not come to birth among the medieval Muslim heirs to Aristotle. ….
    The psychological climate of such ancient cultures, with their belief that the universe was infinite and time an endless repetition of historical cycles, was often either hopelessness or complacency (hardly what is needed to spur and sustain scientific progress); and in either case there was a failure to arrive at a belief in the existence of God the Creator and of creation itself as therefore rational and intelligible. Thus their inability to produce a self-sustaining scientific enterprise.
    If science suffered only stillbirths in ancient cultures, how did it come to its unique viable birth? The beginning of science as a fully fledged enterprise took place in relation to two important definitions of the Magisterium of the Church. The first was the definition at the Fourth Lateran Council in the year 1215, that the universe was created out of nothing at the beginning of time. The second magisterial statement was at the local level, enunciated by Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris who, on March 7, 1277, condemned 219 Aristotelian propositions, so outlawing the deterministic and necessitarian views of creation.
    These statements of the teaching authority of the Church expressed an atmosphere in which faith in God had penetrated the medieval culture and given rise to philosophical consequences. The cosmos was seen as contingent in its existence and thus dependent on a divine choice which called it into being; the universe is also contingent in its nature and so God was free to create this particular form of world among an infinity of other possibilities. Thus the cosmos cannot be a necessary form of existence; and so it has to be approached by a posteriori investigation. The universe is also rational and so a coherent discourse can be made about it. Indeed the contingency and rationality of the cosmos are like two pillars supporting the Christian vision of the cosmos.
    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/aug.....rigin.html

    Note as to where this belief that physical reality is an ‘illusion’ is most deeply rooted:

    Of note: The Buddhist concept of reality is that nothing in this physical world is real. People consist of a “bundle” of habits, memories, sensations, desires, and so forth, which together delude people into thinking that he or she consists of a stable, lasting self. This false self is what reincarnates body after body. In Buddhism, life in a corporeal body is the source of all suffering. Hence, the goal is to obtain liberation. This means abandoning the false sense of self so that the bundle of memories and impulses disintegrates, leaving nothing to reincarnate and hence nothing to experience pain. “Nirvana” is the Buddhist term for liberation. Nirvana literally means extinction – an extinction that allows a person to become one with all there is – to become “God” (Buddha). To attain Nirvana, one must face and accept the concept that physical reality is not real; true reality comes through self-extinction which results in becoming one with the Clear Light.
    http://www.near-death.com/archetypal.html

    Basically the Buddhist believes that he is ‘evolving’ towards becoming God through reincarnation. Trouble is with reincarnation people wanting to become God is that the job of God is already taken!

    It is also interesting to point how this ‘reality is merely a illusion’, ‘extinction of self’, belief plays out in the Chinese NDE’s:

    Near-Death Experiences Among Survivors of the 1976 Tangshan Earthquake (Chinese)
    Excerpt: Our subjects reported NDE phemenological items not mentioned, or rarely mentioned in NDE’s reported from other countries: sensations of the world being exterminated or ceasing to exist, a sense of weightlessness, a feeling of being pulled or squeezed, ambivalence about death, a feeling of being a different person, or a different kind of person and unusual scents. The predominant phemenological features in our series were feeling estranged from the body as if it belonged to someone else, unusually vivid thoughts, loss of emotions, unusual bodily sensations, life seeming like a dream, a feeling of dying,,, These are not the same phemenological features most commonly found by researchers in other countries. Greyson (1983) reported the most common phemenological feature of American NDE’s to be a feeling of peace, joy, time stopping, experiencing an unearthly realm of existence, a feeling of cosmic unity, and a out of body experience.
    http://www.newdualism.org/nde-.....-39-48.pdf

    further notes:

    G.K. Chesterton – Christianity and Buddhism – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI7rWFSEWj0

    Monk and Jesus Miracle Story
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOLEW3heQwA
    here is the transcript:
    The Buddhist Monk and Jesus
    Excerpt: Monk “And then the man turned and he walked away, going toward the door. And when he got to the door, he turned back around, and he said,
    Jesus: ‘My name is Jesus.
    Monk: “Now, I had never heard that name before, so I didn’t know who Jesus was. He didn’t tell me anything else about himself, only his name. And then I think I must have fallen asleep again. But later on in the night, I felt warmth in my leg. By morning, I had feeling. And when the doctors came to prep me for surgery, my leg was healed.”
    http://www.asiastories.com/?p=7

  261. 261
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Kairosfocus,

    First, a straight-up question: you’d made a nice point about the foundations of mathematics, but I don’t quite understand how it pertains to my point.

    Maybe I should explain a bit more carefully: I’m not denying that arithmetic (say) has “ground-rules” which define what it is for something to be a number. Nor am I denying that our ordinary language has ground-rules for what it is for something to be an object, or to have a color, or whatever. So I’m perfectly happy with those points as they were made above.

    What I’m denying is that these ground-rules are, just by themselves, also and at the same time direct windows onto how the world really is. Part of my skepticism here is that I think of our conceptual capacities are being really, really good at tracking the properties and relations of “medium-sized dry goods,” so to speak, and as we get into things that are really small, really big, or moving really fast, our ordinary “intuitions” are less and less reliable.

    StephenB and I agree on the indispensability of the general causal principle (GCP) for common sense and for science; where we disagree is whether this principle can be relied upon for showing that the universe as a whole must have a cause. To repeat what I’ve said before, I fear losing my grasp of what the term “cause” would even mean, if applied to the universe as a whole.

    As a side-note: from the premise that, for each thing, there exists some cause for that thing does not entail that there exists some single cause for all things. If one translates these assertions into first-order symbolic logic and then tries to construct the proof, the invalidity of the argument is perfectly transparent. I don’t know how to code the quantifier symbols in HTML, but I can present the proof in English.

  262. 262
    Bruce David says:

    BA, re 260:

    My postition is shared by many very competent thinkers, including Bishop Berkely, one of the major philsophers in the Western tradition. This doesn’t prove that it is correct, of course, but I believe it saves it from the charge of irrationality.

    Why do you bring up Buddhism? I have already told you that I am not a Buddhist. Don’t assume that because I believe in reincarnation my beliefs have anything else in common with eastern religions.

    Why study nature if it is but a ‘illusion’?

    For the same reason Newton did, to illuminate the mind of God.

    Science, in my view, studies the rules that govern the virtual reality. As one learns more and more about it—the awsome complexity of living things, the wonderful way in which the laws of physics make chemistry possible, the incredible fine tuning of the physical and cosmological constants—one’s sense of awe at God’s magnificence is mightily enhanced.

    Science also turns out to have many practical applications.

  263. 263
    bornagain77 says:

    BD, fine tuning of of what physical and cosmological constants??? Remember they are a illusion!!!

  264. 264
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    Pardon, but I could not help myself on this, given my base discipline, physics:

    Part of my skepticism here is that I think of our conceptual capacities are being really, really good at tracking the properties and relations of “medium-sized dry goods,” so to speak, and as we get into things that are really small, really big, or moving really fast, our ordinary “intuitions” are less and less reliable.

    The problem here is that the quantum and relativity you allude to are build up based on, you guessed it, the same reasoning rooted in first principles of right reason applied to math and empirical investigation you are skeptical of.

    Self referentiality again, and sawing off branches on which we must sit.

    KF

    PS: The point on math is that we start with the empty set, {} == 0, using == for by definition. Next we move to the singleton {0} == 1, then to {0, 1} == 2, and so forth. None of this requires any material entity, just conceptualisation of abstracts (and meanwhile keeping Barber paradoxes at bay). And yet we are defining incrementally, a set that is absolutely crucial to understanding reality. Indeed, making operations on members of it and extensions thereto, we get to all sorts of interesting results and end up in the result that still astonishes me nigh on forty years after I first saw its deduction — in an astronomy club meeting of all places, a bit before we were to meet it in A level maths. Euler: 0 = 1 + e^i*pi. Abstract and concrete interfacing and integrating in absolutely astonishing ways. After this, please don’t try to separate the two in my mind, the patterns are too astonishing, e.g. go on from the exponentials to the frequency and complex frequency domains and the ways in which system dynamics are shaped by this. Think about root loci for differential equations and how they govern behaviour, especially for poles of s- or z- domain transfer functions.

  265. 265
    bornagain77 says:

    BD, as to your repeated ‘covering up’, Nay, your repeated denialism of the gross deficiencies in your preferred worldview, all I can observe is,,,

    Broken – Seether and Amy Lee (With lyrics)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CoUOrLe4vlY

  266. 266
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N; Kindly define “universe as a whole.” That sounds a lot like, “nature” — which you have been backing away from — and is subject to the same basic problems. The observed, material universe on converging lines of evidence and reasonable inference, is credibly contingent. Just, consider what E = m*c^2 implies, much less quantum results of various kinds, such as ye old infamous electron double slit with observation of slits possible. The observed cosmos is thus facing the issue of finite temporality, and a beginning, thence being constrained by necessary causal factors. You may not like it, but the reasonable inference onward is not, being from non-being [no matter, energy, fields, space, time, fluctuations etc, a genuine {} . . . a genuine nothing] but instead that at root, there is a non-contingent being that explains our observed contingent cosmos. Old days before Lemaitre and Hubble, they could get away with suggesting universe as a whole, and the Steady State model was there with a fighting chance till the microwave background was seen in the 60’s. Now, it is not credible to argue for a material cosmos as the necessary being. There is credibly more to reality than the observed cosmos, and even through multiverse speculations, that points to something that is ontologically necessary.

  267. 267
    Box says:

    @Bornagain77

    Box (186) : “Besides I believe we are spiritual beings so I also do not associate my freedom with the quantum mechanic framework.”

    Bornagain77 (196): “So, the foundation of reality is not allowed to inform your worldview (..)” because you are ‘spiritual’???”

    Box (200): “It’s surprising to me that you, as a Christian, consider matter to be the foundation of reality.”

    Bornagain77 (206) : “Despite your reading that I was a reductive materialist out of that (I have no idea how you did it) (..)”

    When you state multiple times that quantum mechanics is the foundation of reality is it safe for me to assume that you do not hold that God, consciousness or anything spiritual is the foundation of reality? What am I missing here?

  268. 268
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    BD, fine tuning of of what physical and cosmological constants??? Remember they are a illusion!!!

    Not exactly. They are an aspect of the rules by which the illusion operates. Like virtual reality as we experience it in computer games, there are rules that govern its behavior. The physical and cosmological constants are embedded in the laws of physics and cosmology, which are rules which govern the behavior of the virtual reality which we experience as physical existence.

    BD, as to your repeated ‘covering up’, Nay, your repeated denialism of the gross deficiencies in your preferred worldview, all I can observe is,,,

    Broken – Seether and Amy Lee (With lyrics)

    Nice song.

    Well, yes, that is all you can say. This is because you can’t actually demonstrate what those supposed deficiencies are.

  269. 269
    bornagain77 says:

    Box:

    When you state multiple times that quantum mechanics is the foundation of reality is it safe for me to assume that you do not hold that God, consciousness or anything spiritual is the foundation of reality? What am I missing here?

    First I repeatedly say that Quantum mechanics provides our ‘best description’ of foundational reality, and moreover there is nothing within quantum mechanics that rules out ‘God, consciousness or anything spiritual’, in fact quantum mechanics strongly supports those things. So as to “What am I missing here?’ I would have to say that you are ‘missing’ the fact that quantum mechanics strongly supports theism.

  270. 270
    bornagain77 says:

    BD:

    ” They are an aspect of the rules by which the illusion operates.”

    Illusions don’t have ironclad rules! That is why we call them illusions ans dreams!!!

    ‘This is because you can’t actually demonstrate what those supposed deficiencies are.’

    Did you just type that or was it just an illusion? ,,, I’m melting,,,

    I’m Melting! – The Wizard of Oz (7/8) Movie CLIP (1939) HD
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aopdD9Cu-So

  271. 271
    Box says:

    @Bornagain77 – 269

    Bornagain77:”First I repeatedly say that Quantum mechanics provides our ‘best description’ of foundational reality, (..)”

    Indeed you stated multiple times that quantum mechanics is the best description of the foundation of reality. And what is being described? Quantum mechanics is the description of matter on subatomic level, which is, according to you, the foundation of reality. So what you are saying is that matter is the foundation of reality.

    Bornagain77:” (..)and moreover there is nothing within quantum mechanics that rules out ‘God, consciousness or anything spiritual’(..)”

    That may well be, but if matter is the foundation of reality and since reality includes God, consciousness and anything spiritual, then what you are saying is that matter is more fundamental than God, consciousness and anything spiritual.
    I have a different concept of the foundation of reality. Like I said before, it’s surprising to me that you, as a Christian, consider matter to be the foundation of reality.

  272. 272
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    Illusions don’t have ironclad rules! That is why we call them illusions ans dreams!!!

    Who said anything about “inronclad”? The rules can be broken, usually by spiritually advanced people. Such events are called miracles, and there have been many recorded in all spiritual traditions. Even my teacher, Reshad Feild, performed a few in his life. In my view, this is possible precisely because physical reality doesn’t exist per se. For most people, however, they are pretty much unbreakable. Remember, this is no ordinary illusion. It is maintained by God and it has a serious purpose.

  273. 273
    bornagain77 says:

    Box, perhaps you should study up on Quantum Mechanics:

    the argument for God from consciousness can be framed like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Three intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities)
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1G_Fi50ljF5w_XyJHfmSIZsOcPFhgoAZ3PRc_ktY8cFo/edit

    Quantum Evidence for a Theistic Universe
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1agaJIWjPWHs5vtMx5SkpaMPbantoP471k0lNBUXg0Xo/edit

    The ‘Top Down’ Theistic Structure Of The Universe and Of The Human Body
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhA4hiQnYiyCTiqG5GelcSJjy69e1DT3OHpqlx6rACs/edit

    The Galileo Affair and the true “Center of the Universe”
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1BHAcvrc913SgnPcDohwkPnN4kMJ9EDX-JJSkjc4AXmA/edit

  274. 274
    bornagain77 says:

    BD: “Who said anything about “ironclad”? The rules can be broken, usually by spiritually advanced people. Such events are called miracles, and there have been many recorded in all spiritual traditions.”

    Nope, ironclad rules can’t be broken, or else they are not truly Ironclad. For instance I hold that Jesus overcame death by operating strictly within the predefined rules of the game:

    notes:

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: The biggest challenge to today’s physicists is how to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. However, these two pillars of modern science were bound to be incompatible. “The universe of general relativity is a smooth rubber sheet. It is continuous and flowing, never sharp, never pointy. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, describes a jerky and discontinuous universe. What the two theories have in common – and what they clash over – is zero.”,, “The infinite zero of a black hole — mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely — punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.”,, “Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
    http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/e....._mar02.htm

    Quantum Mechanics and Relativity – The Collapse Of Physics? – video – with notes as to plausible reconciliation that is missed by materialists
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6597379/

    How the Power of Intention Alters Matter – Dr. William A. Tiller
    Excerpt: “Most people think that the matter is empty, but for internal self consistency of quantum mechanics and relativity theory, there is required to be the equivalent of 10 to 94 grams of mass energy, each gram being E=MC2 kind of energy. Now, that’s a huge number, but what does it mean practically? Practically, if I can assume that the universe is flat, and more and more astronomical data is showing that it’s pretty darn flat, if I can assume that, then if I take the volume or take the vacuum within a single hydrogen atom, that’s about 10 to the minus 23 cubic centimeters. If I take that amount of vacuum and I take the latent energy in that, there is a trillion times more energy there than in all of the mass of all of the stars and all of the planets out to 20 billion light-years. That’s big, that’s big. And if consciousness allows you to control even a small fraction of that, creating a big bang is no problem.” – Dr. William Tiller – has been a professor at Stanford U. in the Department of materials science & Engineering
    http://www.beyondtheordinary.n.....ller.shtml

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Of note: I hold ‘growing large without measure’ to be a lesser quality infinity than a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The reason why I hold it to be a ‘lesser quality infinity’ is stated at the 4:30 minute mark of the following video:

    Can A “Beginning-less Universe” Exist? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8YN0fwo5J4

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    Moreover there is actual physical evidence that lends strong support to the position that the ‘Zero/Infinity conflict’, we find between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, was successfully dealt with by Christ:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/i.....-formation

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  275. 275
    Box says:

    @ Bornagain77
    So when you say ‘quantum mechanics is the best description of the foundation of reality’, you are actually saying: ‘quantum mechanics is the best description of consciousness, which precedes matter and is therefor the true foundation of reality’?
    No, I guess not. Quantum mechanics is hardly a description of consciousness, now is it?

  276. 276
    bornagain77 says:

    Well Box, it points us to consciousness, that is all I’m saying, or as Wigner, of Quantum Symmetries and Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics, fame, put it:

    “It will remain remarkable, in whatever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the scientific conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality” –
    Eugene Wigner – (Remarks on the Mind-Body Question, Eugene Wigner, in Wheeler and Zurek, p.169) 1961 – received Nobel Prize in 1963 for ‘Quantum Symmetries’

  277. 277
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    BD: “Who said anything about “ironclad”? The rules can be broken, usually by spiritually advanced people. Such events are called miracles, and there have been many recorded in all spiritual traditions.”

    Nope, ironclad rules can’t be broken, or else they are not truly Ironclad.

    Please read what I write carefully before you attack it. My position is that the rules are not ironclad.

  278. 278
    bornagain77 says:

    But alas BD, with your resolved insistence on the word ‘illusion’ to describe physical reality you end up in the epistemological failure reminiscent of Dream within a Dream:

    Take this kiss upon the brow!
    And, in parting from you now,
    Thus much let me avow-
    You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?
    All that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream.

    I stand amid the roar
    Of a surf-tormented shore,
    And I hold within my hand
    Grains of the golden sand-
    How few! yet how they creep
    Through my fingers to the deep,
    While I weep- while I weep!
    O God! can I not grasp
    Them with a tighter clasp?
    O God! can I not save
    One from the pitiless wave?
    Is all that we see or seem
    But a dream within a dream?
    Edgar Allan Poe

    i.e. I’m melting!

  279. 279
    Bruce David says:

    KF:

    BD: Methinks, it is you who needs to take up the challenge of “proving” that you are not a brain in some mad scientist’s vat, or a denizen of Plato’s cave, or that you are not the product of the instant creation of a cosmos with an apparent past five seconds ago. In short, you are in the grips of one of those self-referential systems that entails the GENERAL unreliability of our senses, thoughts, knowledge etc. Such systems are self-undermining and are to be regarded as absurd. BA is right to challenge you with a dose of the sheer raw irruption of the unexpected. Please think again. KF

    My idealism reflects a valid tradition within Western philosophy of which Berkeley (a Bishop in the Anglican Church, and thus, obviously, a Christian) is the most notable, but certainly not the only, proponent. You are of course free to disagree with it, but to call it absurd I think only serves to call into question your philosophical sophistication.

  280. 280
    Box says:

    @Bornagain77

    “Well Box, it points us to consciousness, that is all I’m saying, (..)”

    No that’s certainly not all you were saying.
    But I guess it’s clear now. According to you, consciousness (or God) is the foundation of reality.

  281. 281
    bornagain77 says:

    But does Berkley really exist or is he an illusion?

    ,,,At a recent Lecture I attened by Philosopher Alvin Plantinga, he warmed up the crowd with a few solipsist jokes.

    FYI, solipsism is the rather odd idea that there is only one individual in the universe and that you are it. Everyone else is just a figment of your imagination.

    1. British philosopher Bertrand Russell was a solipsist for a time (why does that not surprise me?), and he once received a letter from a woman who found his arguments very convincing. Well, I suppose it’s not so hard to convince a figment of you imagination that your arguments are brilliant. Anyway, the woman commented in her letter that his description of solipsism made a lot of sense and that, “I’m surprised there are not more of us.”

    2. Plantinga also told of an accomplished academic who was a well-known solipsist (I forget the guys name). And Plantinga though it would be fun to meet a real life solipsist, so he went to visit him. He was treated fairly well considering he was only figment. I mean, it’s not a given that a solipsist would feel the need to be polite to his imaginary friends. After a brief conversation, Plantinga left and on the way out one of the man’s assistants said, “We take good care of the professor because when he goes we all go.”
    http://www.fellowtravelerblog......plantinga/

  282. 282
    bornagain77 says:

    “No that’s certainly not all you were saying.”

    Yes, you are right, I caught that after I had posted,,, too late, ‘centrality of consciousness’ is certainly among the most important points though!,,, anyways Quantum Mechanics, in all its nuances, is about as antagonistic to a reductive materialistic view of reality as someone of Theistic predispositions could hope for! 🙂

  283. 283
    Bruce David says:

    BA re 278:

    As long as we’re quoting poetry, how about this from Wordsworth:

    Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
    The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting,
    And cometh from afar:
    Not in entire forgetfulness,
    And not in utter nakedness,
    But trailing clouds of glory do we come
    From God, who is our home.

  284. 284
    Box says:

    @Bornagain77

    Bornagain77: Box, perhaps you should study up on Quantum Mechanics.

    No doubt! I can see that now. And I’ll start with your words and links. Thank you very much Bornagain77! 🙂

  285. 285
    Bruce David says:

    BA & KF:

    Regarding quantum theory, it might interest you to know that Bruce Gordon concludes in “A Quantum-Theoretic Argument against Naturalism” (Chapter 8 in The Nature of Nature) that

    I contend that there is one quite reasonable way to ground this ontology and obviate any puzzlement: metaphysical objectivity and epistemic intersubjectivity are maintained in the context of an occasionalistic theistic metaphysics that looks a lot like the immaterialism defended by George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards and in which the only true causation is agent causation. The difference in the present case is that this explanatory hypothesis is grounded by ontological deduction from fundamental physical theory and experiment, rather than by epistemological analysis (Berkeley) or philodophico-theological argument (Edwards). [my emphasis]

    In other words, Gordon believes that Berkeley style idealism is the best way to make sense of “quantum weirdness” (in particular, Bell’s Theorem and non-locality).

    “The Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine”
    –Sir James Jeans

  286. 286
    StephenB says:

    KN

    As I see it, there are, basically, three positions one might take here:
    My preference, obviously, is for (3), as I made quite clear in my post (59) above. That’s a version of what today is called “convergent realism”, historically speaking associated with Hegel and with Peirce.

    The key point that you seem to miss is this: You assume the Law of Non-Contradiction each time you try to argue against my affirmation of it.

    But I don’t think it’s really all that different from what Plato himself thought; I think that Plato is actually pretty clear that we don’t have direct access to the things themselves, that the theory of “the forms” is itself introduced as a hypothesis in need of testing, and the theory itself is found wanting in the late dialogues.

    I can assure you that Plato (and Socrates) firmly believed in the Law of Non-Contradiction. Socratic dialogues proceed on the assumption that truth can expose error when the rational philosopher interacts with the irrational sophist. Indeed, that is why both Socrates and Jesus were murdered. Their adversaries, whose arguments were shown to be self-refuting, simply committed murder rather than explicitly admit their errors.
    In the Republic, Plato refers to the Law of Non-Contradiction explicitly:

    “It’s plain that the same thing won’t be willing at the same time to do or suffer opposites with respect to the same part and in relation to the same thing”

    Take note of the words, “it’s plain,” which confirm that the Law of Non-Contradiction is a self-evident truth.

    Why should we take the grammatical structure of ancient Greek as authoritative for rationality as such? What justifies that? Aristotle doesn’t bother to give an account of what grounds the principles of reason as he discerns them in the natural language of his time and place. Perhaps if he’d known about Buddhist logic he would have been less complacent; certainly Plato would have found Buddhist logic utterly fascinating, and so would Hegel.

    Self-evident truths cannot, by their very nature, be proven or verified. They are the means by which we prove and verify. The question about Buddhist philosophy (or any philosophy) is not, “is it fascinating,” but rather, “is it true” or “does it correspond to reality.”

    …but I’m not willing to grant this Aristotelian interpretation — what you insist on calling “the first principles of right reason” looks to me like a dogmatic insistence on Aristotle’s interpretation of logic over Kant, Hegel, Peirce, and not to mention 20th-century logicians and epistemologists like C. I. Lewis, Rudolf Carnap, and so on.

    I think I have made it clear why Aristotle was right. To say that I am being dogmatic does not constitute a refutation. Unfortunately, Hume led Kant down the garden path with his misguided critique of causality. Without examining Hume’s argument critically, Kant tried to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and a parade of modern philosophers followed him off the cliff. They should have avoided the proverbial “little error in the beginning.”

    Aristotle was just wrong about a lot of things, and we know that now, not just about biology but also about epistemology and logic.

    Aristotle’s errors in biology have nothing to do with his discovery of the laws of logic? Science is provisional, metaphysical truth is not. You must assume the Law of Contradiction that Aristotle discovered in order to say that his biology was wrong.

    I know Uncommon Descent is your sand-box, so there are certain conversational parameters that you have the right to establish by fiat, but I’m not willing to grant this Aristotelian interpretation

    We both have the same amount of space and the same opportunities for self- expression.

    If you want to kick me out of Uncommon Descent because I refuse to share your veneration of Aristotle, that’s your prerogative.

    Even if I had that kind of administrative power, which I don’t, I would never resort to such a tactic simply because someone disagrees with me. To do so would be to confess my own incompetence. From my perspective, our discussion has been quite civil—quietly contentious, to be sure—but civil.

    [The universe is no less situated in time and space than walls and buildings].

    Now, this strikes me as so clearly and obviously false that I assume it must be a typo, because walls and buildings are within the spatio-temporal framework of the universe. And if the universe is “no less situated in time and space”, then the assertion amounts to
    The entire space-time continuum is no less within the space-time continuum than walls and buildings.
    and I really don’t see how the space-time continuum can be within itself.

    You have been using these Kantian expressions like “conceptual framework for so long that you don’t seem to notice that they often don’t fit in with what you are trying to say. Walls and buildings just exist they are not “within a conceptual framework of anything.” I said that the universe, as well its walls and buildings, are situated IN time as space, which they clearly are. This is all the more odd since the time/space continuum is irrelevant to the discussion.
    Recall that you are trying to argue that the Law of Causality, which you accept on a selective basis, does not apply to the universe even though it does apply to walls and buildings. What needs to be explained is not the way parts of the universe relate to each other (time, space continuum) which is an entirely different subject, but rather the existence of the universe as a whole and how it came to be, which is what we are discussing. Reflect again on what the Law of Causality affirms: Nothing can begin to exist (in this case a universe) without a cause. You cannot make the case that the universe is exempt from that law by alluding to a time/space continuum. It simply is not relevant to the topic.

    We are, once again, in the arena of self-evident truths. You now agree (grudgingly it seems) that a well and a building cannot possibly come into being without a cause. Earlier, you hesitated to make that affirmation on the grounds that such statements can be made only through the filter of, and on the basis of experience, and not in absolute terms. At this point, you need to make your case: If, as you now agree, walls and buildings cannot begin to exist without a cause, why do think that a universe, which is a necessary condition for walls and buildings, can exist without a cause.
    While you are at it, perhaps you can explain why, as you put it, the universe is certainly not an effect. How do you reconcile that position with your other statement that the universe may or may not have been caused?

  287. 287
    kairosfocus says:

    BD: Can you explain to me how you know — or at least, come to reject — that you are not a brain in a vat in a mad scientist’s experiment, etc? (This is a basic challenge, and if — e.g. — Bishop Berkley was wrong, he was wrong, he and his teachings are not foundational to the Christian faith.) KF

  288. 288
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “looks a lot like the immaterialism defended by George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards”

    Materialism? Not a fan!

    Insisting on using the word illusion to describe physical reality? Not a fan!

    Mandisa? Big Fan!

    Mandisa – It’s Christmas (Official Lyric Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG14DXeXD3U

  289. 289
    William J Murray says:

    Rebellion against authority, apparently, includes the authority of reason.

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    In order to make any non-rhetorical, meaningful argument to anyone about anything, one must assume certain principles are true whether they are true or not. Otherwise, it’s just rhetoric and sophistry.

    You cannot reason with those that abandon reason.

  290. 290
    bornagain77 says:

    “If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.”

    Not one to mince words are you Mr. Murray? 🙂

  291. 291
    William J Murray says:

    KN said: “And I think that the immanent teleology of living creatures, that sense of living things as centers of agency in their own right, comes to the fore.”

    If the causal teleology of a living creature is believed to be, ultimately, the product of the material substrate, then all you are doing is putting a blinder between you and materialism.

    The difference between materialism and what you are describing is nothing more than the difference between determinism and compatibalist free will – willful self-deceit.

  292. 292
    William J Murray says:

    Box said: “This is a difficult question for me. I think I can only partly answer your question. In my concept learning / personal development / improving self-awareness is the central reason for us being on earth.

    Why create us with the need to learn anything in the first place?

    I have two possible explanations within my concept. People who are being tortured had it coming based on their previous lives. In a former life they were the perpetrators, and now they have to experience what it means to be victims. And the second possibility is that there is something about pain which is necessary for completing the path towards true awareness. I have to admit that both explanations are not satisfactory to me at the moment.

    In both scenarios, you have used the concept of some kind of necessary principle that even god cannot skirt; one is karma (consequence from past lives), and learning from negative consequences. If we have a god that can do “anything” in the unreasonable sense, then neither karma or negative-feedback learning is necessary at all, and so there is – by your standards – no god worth loving.

    Surely, if as a parent you could just inject perfect knowledge into the mind of your child to keep them from falling into drug addiction or a life of crime, you would. So, why doesn’t god do this?

    You and I (and BA, I imagine) agree that there must be a necessary reason for the existence of such things, which means that god, and what god creates, cannot violate certain principles. I consider these to be innate characteristics of god, not extant rules god is subject to.

    These principles are, IMO, what gives the opportunity for order and structure to the universe and our existence. They form the fundamental necessary basis for all our actions, thoughts, arguments, beliefs, etc. You cannot avoid the principle of non-contradiction when making an argument any more than you can imagine a 4-sided triangle. You cannot avoid the principle of non-contradiction when you think about anything. One cannot avoid acting and living as if they (and others) have libertarian free will. One cannot make arguments about anything without accessing the assumption that there really is a right and a wrong.

    You can make an intellectual case that nothing is really “wrong”, but why even make that case in the first place?

    Now, to the concept of hell, and the idea that you cannot love a god that would allow anyone to suffer eternally (or, in some views of hell, be destroyed from existence). What if the existence of hell is a necessary condition of a creation that has entities with free will, just as the ramifications of jumping off of a cliff are a necessary potential consequence of a universe with gravity? What if pain an misery – however long they last – are the necessary ramifications of a universe populated by free will entities?

    From another point of view, there are some views of our physical universe that holds that every moment of time is a self-existence “frame” of quantum potential that exists as a location in a temporal dimension. Some views of god hold that god can see all such frames of time eternally, that they all exist in a frozen eternity that only appear to us to flow from one moment to the next as our consciousness drives us through time as well as space.

    If this is the case, then every moment of misery and pain is, in fact, eternal, even if what you recognize as “you” has moved beyond it.

    Personally, my view of hell is that it is of the “destroying” variety; that what I see as my “self” can be utterly destroyed if I go down paths that deliver me to that end. God is no more responsible for this end than god is responsible for the consequence of my jumping off of a cliff. There are rules to existence and experience – necessary rules – without which there would only be unintelligible chaos.

    One can either rebel against those necessary rules and fantasize that there is “no true harm” anyone can come to, or they can accept that intelligible experience requires rules that have consequences – some of them dire, which gives us certain responsibilities we must be aware of.

    If that was not the case, then we should be able to leap off of the cliff and not worry about the effect while thinking – if there is a god worth loving, nothing bad will happen to me. Which, IMO, is just our own rebellious ego daring a figure of authority to let something bad happen so we can blame it for our troubles instead of accepting our own culpability.

  293. 293
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: What is of great comfort to me is the knowledge that this physical existence is only a temporary state that I experience from time to time, but that my true home in which I abide between lives is a place of love in which nothing needed is found wanting, and in which all those I love or have loved exist eternally.

    Then why did you leave there in the first place? Why did anyone?

  294. 294
    William J Murray says:

    KN:

    1) Did consciousness originate from non-conscious matter (IOW, wast there a time that consciousness didn’t exist in the universe, and then because of some collection of events in the physical world, consciousness sprang into existence for the first time)?

    2) Can the mental properties of an organism survive physical annihilation?

  295. 295
    bornagain77 says:

    Mr. Murray, I posted your no nonsense remark in 289 to facebook and several people liked the quote immediately. One guy was so impressed he wanted a future reference for where “William J Murray” had said this quote. I told him that ‘cutting to the chase’ was how you worked, and gave the link to the debate (if you can call it that) taking place here.

  296. 296
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    I suppose now’s a good time as any to make a minor confession. I’m not dogmatically committed to the assertion that the universe came into existence with no ’cause’ (= for no reason, with no explanation) at all. That’s not my view. I do find it a fascinating view, and one that I have seen defended with great sophistication and care, but I don’t endorse it. I was just “trying it on,” one might say. (It’s been defended by Quentin Meillassoux, a contemporary French philosopher who argues, in effect, that everything not only is contingent but must be contingent — that, in effect, it is necessary that all is contingent. It’s a cool little argument. I don’t buy it, but it’s a cool little argument.)

    My own view is pretty much a distinction that Hans Jonas made between what he called “the need of reason” and “the luxury of reason”.

    On the one hand, he argued, it is a need of reason to understand how human life, as described in terms of consciousness, values, projects, etc. fits into nature. Jonas thought that as long as we have a story about ourselves which makes us seem so utterly unique and distinct from everything else in the natural world, we will continue our path of reckless environmental destruction. But he was not a materialist — far from it! He was as opposed to materialism as he was to dualism (as I am). He was (like me) a believer in emergence, and he wrote extensively about why life must be ontologically emergent from matter and so not reducible to it.

    On the other hand, he also argued that there was a “luxury of reason,” or an interest that reason takes in the question, “why is there something rather than nothing?” or “where did the universe come from?” Jonas didn’t think that answering these questions was as existentially compelling and ethically significant as it was to show that our destinies are bound up with those of the other living things with whom we share this planet. But he acknowledged that the questions of ultimate origins and causes are not bad questions or questions that should not be asked. He just thought of them as optional.

  297. 297
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    If you do not assume the law of non-contradiction, you have nothing to argue about. If you do not assume the principles of sound reason, you have nothing to argue with. If you do not assume libertarian free will, you have no one to argue against. If you do not assume morality to be an objective commodity, you have no reason to argue in the first place.

    I pretty much agree with this — I have just two relatively minor quibbles.

    Firstly, I just don’t think it’s apt to call these “assumptions.” They’re not explicitly made — it’s not as if one simply decides whether or not to embrace non-contradiction. I think of these ‘assumptions’ as explicit statements about what we are implicitly committed to doing by the very fact of having a conversation at all. In a very minimal sense, one can see these norms and commitments already at work in conversations between children, and their implicit grasp of the relevant norms deepens as they mature.

    Secondly, I don’t think that any particular metaphysics is required in order to really hash out what these commitments involve. Meaning, I don’t think the constitutive norms and ideals of rational discourse commit us to any particular metaphysics or only make sense in light of some particular metaphysics.

  298. 298
    Bruce David says:

    KF:

    BD: Can you explain to me how you know — or at least, come to reject — that you are not a brain in a vat in a mad scientist’s experiment, etc? (This is a basic challenge, and if — e.g. — Bishop Berkley was wrong, he was wrong, he and his teachings are not foundational to the Christian faith.) KF

    How do you know it? Santayana was right when he said that (and I paraphrase, of course) using the faculty of reason addressed to our experience, all we can know is what he called “solipsism of the present moment”—that there is experience (including memory) happening in this moment. All the rest (that there are other people, a world out there corresponding to our experience, time, etc.) are conclusions we draw from our experience, including memory, in this moment. But there is no logical necessity that any of it is actually true, as the movie The Matrix subtly pointed out. So each human being chooses what to believe—we are all philosophers, whether we know it or not. I choose to believe in an idealism similar to Berkeley’s because it solves several serious philosophical problems to do so (the mind-body problem, philosophical issues raised by quantum weirdness, how miracles are possible, how God could have created something outside of and radically different from Himself ex nihilo, etc.) and because once one accepts the existence of God, the existence of a physical universe is an entirely unnecessary additional assumption (Occam’s razor).

    By the way, I pointed out that Berkeley was a Christian cleric not to imply that his philosophy is foundational to Christianity, which it obviously isn’t, but to point out that it does not contradict Christian faith, either.

  299. 299
    Bruce David says:

    William Murray:

    Then why did you leave there in the first place? Why did anyone?

    To be able to experience our (and God’s) magnificence. See #129.

  300. 300
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    as to: “looks a lot like the immaterialism defended by George Berkeley and Jonathan Edwards”

    Materialism? Not a fan!

    Just so we’re clear, “immaterialism” does not mean “dualism”. It means “no material world”.

  301. 301
    bornagain77 says:

    BD, HMMM, and then there is that whole pesky thing with the body being left when the soul passes on, go figure, must be an illusion being buried in a grave! 🙂

    a few notes:

    The ‘Top Down’ Theistic Structure Of The Universe and Of The Human Body
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1NhA4hiQnYiyCTiqG5GelcSJjy69e1DT3OHpqlx6rACs/edit

  302. 302
    Box says:

    William J Murray (292):
    You and I (and BA, I imagine) agree that there must be a necessary reason for the existence of such things, which means that god, and what god creates, cannot violate certain principles. I consider these to be innate characteristics of god, not extant rules god is subject to.

    Do you and I (and not BA) intuitively agree that one of these principles determines that God cannot make copies of Himself? And if so, why is that? In my opinion it has to do with the nature of consciousness. Self-awareness,freedom, must cause itself.

    William J Murray (292): “One cannot make arguments about anything without accessing the assumption that there really is a right and a wrong.
    You can make an intellectual case that nothing is really “wrong”, but why even make that case in the first place?”

    How about this: right and wrong are depending on context and are impossible to frame in horizontal rules? Even murder can be right if the context so dictates. Do we agree?

    William J Murray (292): “Now, to the concept of hell, and the idea that you cannot love a god that would allow anyone to suffer eternally (or, in some views of hell, be destroyed from existence). What if the existence of hell is a necessary condition of a creation that has entities with free will, just as the ramifications of jumping off of a cliff are a necessary potential consequence of a universe with gravity? What if pain an misery – however long they last – are the necessary ramifications of a universe populated by free will entities?”

    I’m with you on pain and misery and the ramifications of jumping off a cliff, but I see no reason to extrapolate these towards a hell. Like lounging the day away and licking candy does not necessarily lead to the existence of Cockaigne.
    To be eligible for eternity evil has to be self-creative, has to be a foundation of reality, next to God. I see no reason to believe that.

  303. 303
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    BD, HMMM, and then there is that whole pesky thing with the body being left when the soul passes on, go figure, must be an illusion being buried in a grave!

    The body is part of the “virtual reality”, like the plane in which we are flying in a flight simulator. When we die, we leave the illusion behind, and return to reality, like when the plane crashes in the flight sim. The other players in the game, however, keep on playing, and the wreckage of our plane is still in their “reality”. Similarly, those left behind when we die, who are still living in the illusion, are left to bury the body which was once our earthly vehicle.

    Once again, BA, you seem to be having difficulty grasping a relatively simple concept. I think your apparently enormous need to prove me wrong is clouding your ability to understand some rather simple ideas.

  304. 304
    kairosfocus says:

    BD: Pardon but you are both ignoring what I said earlier on teh subject you ask and you are evading addressing a serious challenge to your view. KF

  305. 305
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    As for my running discussion with StephenB: I think that one salient point of disagreement between us concerns Hume’s skepticism about causation. I take Hume’s skepticism very seriously, and I think that Kant was basically right to take it seriously and see the need for a response to it. Whereas I take it that StephenB thinks that Hume’s skepticism doesn’t need to be taken seriously, and that doing so set Kant (and subsequent philosophy) down a wrong path. So maybe it would be helpful here to discuss why Hume’s skepticism shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    With regards to the discussion between Bruce David and others here: for what little it may be worth, I think that Berkeleyian immaterialism is extremely hard to refute if one begins by granting a roughly Cartesian conception of mindedness. Someone — Hume, maybe? — once remarked that Berkeley’s difficulty is that he was unable to persuade anyone that his position was irrefutable. I think that Kant gave it a good shot in his “Refutation of Idealism,” but the argument there is notoriously unclear, and the real insights were not really developed until well into the 20th-century.

  306. 306
    Bruce David says:

    KF re. 304:

    I answered your challenge in number 298. If you contend that that answer is evasive, please explain what about it you feel is insufficient.

  307. 307
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I see I am tired today. Anyway, the key point is, I am not committed to a core belief that my conscious sense experiences as a whole are delusional. And since that is first experience of reality, it is you who will need to justify how you have accurate knowledge of the world in a context where you do believe such.

  308. 308
    bornagain77 says:

    ‘you seem to be having difficulty grasping a relatively simple concept.’

    HMMM, most atheist have difficulty grasping that people even have a eternal soul, which is somewhat understandable, mistaken but understandable, but you, on the other hand, insist that souls really do not live in material bodies in this temporal dimension, even though the body can be seen, touched, and buried once the soul has left it. You can insist that the dead body is a ‘illusion’ all you want, just as I can question your sanity for doing so each time you do! i.e. I’m melting~!

    notes:

    Jesus took his ‘illusion’ with Him when he left this temporal plane:

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

    Particle Radiation from the Body – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/19tGkwrdg6cu5mH-RmlKxHv5KPMOL49qEU8MLGL6ojHU/edit?hl=en_US

    Turin Shroud Enters 3D Age – Pictures, Articles and Videos
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1gDY4CJkoFedewMG94gdUk1Z1jexestdy5fh87RwWAfg

    Condensed notes on The Authenticity of the Shroud of Turin
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/15IGs-5nupAmTdE5V-_uPjz25ViXbQKi9-TyhnLpaC9U/edit

  309. 309
    bornagain77 says:

    corrected link:

    Particle Radiation from the Body – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind – July 2012
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    http://www.academicjournals.or.....onacci.pdf

  310. 310
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist has provided a productive point of interest:

    “As for my running discussion with StephenB: I think that one salient point of disagreement between us concerns Hume’s skepticism about causation. I take Hume’s skepticism very seriously, and I think that Kant was basically right to take it seriously and see the need for a response to it. Whereas I take it that StephenB thinks that Hume’s skepticism doesn’t need to be taken seriously, and that doing so set Kant (and subsequent philosophy) down a wrong path. So maybe it would be helpful here to discuss why Hume’s skepticism shouldn’t be taken seriously.”

    I think that this is an excellent suggestion. Perhaps KN can write about four or five paragraphs (or whatever) to explain why we should take Hume’s doubts about causation seriously and I can write about four or five paragraphs explaining why we should not take Hume’s doubts seriously. Not only will it tend to wrap things up (for us, at least) it will provide an abbreviated overview of why the topic matters so much.

  311. 311
    Bruce David says:

    KF:

    F/N: I see I am tired today. Anyway, the key point is, I am not committed to a core belief that my conscious sense experiences as a whole are delusional. And since that is first experience of reality, it is you who will need to justify how you have accurate knowledge of the world in a context where you do believe such.

    Do you actually believe that your senses give you “accurate knowledge of the world”? The senses are notoriously inaccurate—witness mirages, optical illusions, objects which change color depending on the light, sounds whose direction escapes us, feelings of hot and cold that vary depending on the temperature of our hands, tastes that vary in sweetness depending on what we have eaten moments before. In my philosophy, there is no physical world that corresponds to our sensations, so in that sense they are actually more accurate.

    In my philosophy, I have just as accurate knowledge of the “virtual reality” as you have of the material universe in which you believe. The only difference is that you believe it has an independent reality, whereas I see it as mere appearance.

  312. 312
    bornagain77 says:

    ‘you believe it (temporal reality) has an independent reality’

    Independent of what? I can assure you that KF holds, and all the Christian founders of modern science held, that the universe is contingent (See Jaki reference posted earlier).

  313. 313
    Box says:

    Bruce David: “In my philosophy, I have just as accurate knowledge of the “virtual reality” as you have of the material universe in which you believe. The only difference is that you believe it has an independent reality, whereas I see it as mere appearance.”

    Are Borngain77, StephenB and all the others part of your dream / virtual reality? Are you dreaming us? Or do we exist independent from your dream?

  314. 314
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: “What is of great comfort to me is the knowledge that this physical existence is only a temporary state that I experience from time to time, but that my true home in which I abide between lives is a place of love in which nothing needed is found wanting, and in which all those I love or have loved exist eternally.”

    WJM then asked: “Then why did you leave there in the first place? Why did anyone?”

    BD replied: “To be able to experience our (and God’s) magnificence. See #129.”

    Apparently your statement at top is incorrect. If “nothing is found wanting” in your “true home”, there would be no need to come here to experience god realizing its own maqnificence through the path from limited physical experience to “god” experience. As you said in #129:

    “But He desired to have that experience, so God created all of us out of Himself, in His image and likeness. We are each an individualized copy of Him, complete with His magnificence (His love, His creativity, His joy, His wisdom, His knowledge). The One who looks out of our eyes is Him. But in order for us to experience our magnificence (and for God to experience His own through us, which are Him), it was necessary for us to experience NOT magnificence, ie limitation, in all its forms. To do this, we incarnate on Earth, forgetting Who We Really Are. However, as we incarnate in many lifetimes, our remembrance slowly returns to us, and as it does, we experience our magnificence in contrast to the experiences of limitation that we have had due to our forgetting. And through us, God experiences His magnificence.”

    So yes, there is something “found wanting” – imperfect, even, if you will – in your “god experience”, or else there would be no need for god to create limited versions of itself to experience realization of its magnificence.

    As a side note, there are some things I believe not because I know them to be true, but rather because to not believe them would reduce my experience to either misery or madness. The idea that all the pain and suffering in the world was caused because god couldn’t refrain from masturbating to feel its own magnificence as its offspring crawled and scratched their way back to it through the pain and suffering of the world would – for me – be a worse state of affairs than believing god personally throws sinners into an eternal hell for saying a curse word or thinking about shooting your boss.

    Now, I don’t have any evidence that creation isn’t – in essence – a self-aggrandizing snuff film god produced for its own enjoyment, but I prefer to believe that if there is any pain and suffering at all, it is because it is a necessary condition that any kind of conscious, free will existence requires, and not because my creator simply “desires” to feel its own magnificence, as you say.

  315. 315
    William J Murray says:

    Box said: “Do you and I (and not BA) intuitively agree that one of these principles determines that God cannot make copies of Himself? And if so, why is that? In my opinion it has to do with the nature of consciousness. Self-awareness,freedom, must cause itself.”

    I think the phrase “cause itself” is misleading, but I think we’re in agreement. I would say that the commodity of conscious free will is necessarily a causeless cause, so no, god cannot “create” independent free will entities – all free will consciousness is necessarily a part of god.

    BTW, I didn’t arrive at that via intuition, but rather inferred it from examining the ramifications of self-evident and necessary principles like free will and the only logical resolution to the problem of causation.

    Box said: “How about this: right and wrong are depending on context and are impossible to frame in horizontal rules? Even murder can be right if the context so dictates. Do we agree?”

    Nope. Without assuming that there are objectively true moral statements (even if we don’t know what they are), then morality becomes entirely relativistic and ultimately “anything goes”, because part of the “context” would always be the perspective of the person making the choice, and their particular history an situation.

    There are self-evidently true, objective moral statements that we can know, such as “it is morally wrong, in all cases and at all times, to torture an infant for your personal pleasure”. If we have no grounding we assume to be objectively valid, then we have no footing for working out any meaningful moral system. I can simply say, “So what? Who says?” and do whatever I want sans the assumption that there are true, objectively valid moral principles that exist.

    Indeed, without there being necessary consequences to immoral behavior, worrying about the morality of an act is a waste of time. Who cares?

    Box said: “I’m with you on pain and misery and the ramifications of jumping off a cliff, but I see no reason to extrapolate these towards a hell. Like lounging the day away and licking candy does not necessarily lead to the existence of Cockaigne.

    I wasn’t making an argument that hell exists, nor did I make the argument that you should believe it does. The argument I was making was that if hell is a necessary condition for the existence of a reality populated by entities with free will, then there is no reason to find such a god unworthy of love and respect. IOW, I could equally find god unworth of love and respect because god created a world with pain and suffering at all; but if such things are necessary commodities, then hell might also be a necessary commodity – an unavoidable attribute of a world with free will.

    I’m not asking you to believe hell exists, I’m just asking you to entertain the notion that if it does exist, that doesn’t necessarily make god a monster. It might be a requirement of our existence.

    The argument that hell exists is another argument.

  316. 316
    Bruce David says:

    Box:

    Are Borngain77, StephenB and all the others part of your dream / virtual reality? Are you dreaming us? Or do we exist independent from your dream?

    Our souls, which are Who We Really Are, each have their own existence as an individuation of the One, or God, or All That Is. Our bodies are part of the virtual reality which we all collectively experience.

    William Murray:

    Apparently your statement at top is incorrect. If “nothing is found wanting” in your “true home”, there would be no need to come here to experience god realizing its own maqnificence through the path from limited physical experience to “god” experience.

    By “nothing is found wanting” I only meant that there is no hunger, or lack of love, or other unfulfilled desires of that nature. The ability to experience our magnificence requires the experience of NOT that, which cannot be had without forgetting who we are.

    The idea that all the pain and suffering in the world was caused because god couldn’t refrain from masturbating to feel its own magnificence as its offspring crawled and scratched their way back to it through the pain and suffering of the world would – for me – be a worse state of affairs than believing god personally throws sinners into an eternal hell for saying a curse word or thinking about shooting your boss.

    Each of us is a part of God, and no one experiences anything that at the soul level they do not choose to. Earth is a tough planet. Based on what I have read (Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls by Michael Newton), not every soul chooses to incarnate here. In any case, everything any of we individuations of Him experiences, He experiences also.

    If you are really interested, then I suggest you read the original source, (Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch), rather than relying on my pale imitation for understanding. If you are only interested in understanding enough to be able to denigrate that world view, then you need do nothing further.

  317. 317
    Bruce David says:

    KN:

    In #296 you again bring up the idea of “emergence”, which you promised to explain more fully after having had time to consider how to do so. I would be really interested in what you have to say on that subject.

  318. 318
    Mung says:

    BD:

    Do you actually believe that your senses give you “accurate knowledge of the world”?

    What else would they be there for?

    If there’s nothing there to be sensed, who needs sensation?

  319. 319
    Mung says:

    Who cares what Hume thought?

    “Aristotle would be mystified by the modern tendency to treat cause and effect as essentially a relation between temporally ordered events.”

    – Edward Feser

  320. 320
    kairosfocus says:

    BD:

    do you see what clinging to a self-referentially incoherent system does?

    Let’s try a second order loop:

    KF: . . . the key point is, I am not committed to a core belief that my conscious sense experiences as a whole are delusional. And since that is first experience of reality, it is you who will need to justify how you have accurate knowledge of the world in a context where you do believe such.

    BD: Do you actually believe that your senses give you “accurate knowledge of the world”? The senses are notoriously inaccurate—witness mirages, optical illusions, objects which change color depending on the light, sounds whose direction escapes us, feelings of hot and cold that vary depending on the temperature of our hands, tastes that vary in sweetness depending on what we have eaten moments before. In my philosophy, there is no physical world that corresponds to our sensations, so in that sense they are actually more accurate.

    I won;t underscore my remark on senses and consciousness as a whole being delusional.

    Instead, BD, explain to us how you are confident your second order perception that your first order perceptions are on the whole delusional, is accurate?

    Merry Christmas to all

    KF

  321. 321
    Box says:

    William J Murray (315): “I would say that the commodity of conscious free will is necessarily a causeless cause, (..)”

    I agree with that. Freedom must cause itself otherwise it would not be free. Or do you mean that our individual human consciousness does not need to create itself and can be created by an exterior ‘Causeless Cause’?

    William J Murray (315): “(…) so no, god cannot “create” independent free will entities – all free will consciousness is necessarily a part of god.”

    My understanding of English is poor sometimes, since I’m not a native English speaker. Are you using a double negative and arguing for some sort of panpsychism? Are we all part of God’s consciousness? I do not think you are saying that so I’m probably just missing your point.

    William J Murray (315): “Nope. Without assuming that there are objectively true moral statements (even if we don’t know what they are), then morality becomes entirely relativistic and ultimately “anything goes”, because part of the “context” would always be the perspective of the person making the choice, and their particular history an situation. ”

    Allow me to compare it with the activities within a cell, which some hold as to be understood as context-dependent phenomena. A living cell is not ‘entirely relativistic and ultimately anything goes’. There is always a real context.

    William J Murray (315): “it is morally wrong, in all cases and at all times, to torture an infant for your personal pleasure”

    Of course I agree with this statement, but you defined the context by including the text ‘for your personal pleasure’. Which means that the hideous act of torturing is performed by a sick bastard. I prefer not to engage in fantasizing about contexts where it could be right to torture infants, but hold that even something unthinkable as that might exist.

    William J Murray (315): “I’m not asking you to believe hell exists, I’m just asking you to entertain the notion that if it does exist, that doesn’t necessarily make god a monster. It might be a requirement of our existence.”

    Point taken. I can only agree. It would be an indelible stain upon God’s work, but if He cannot do anything about it … we ultimately will have to forget about those loved ones who are suffering in Hell for eternity.

  322. 322
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    StephenB @ 310:

    I think that this is an excellent suggestion. Perhaps KN can write about four or five paragraphs (or whatever) to explain why we should take Hume’s doubts about causation seriously and I can write about four or five paragraphs explaining why we should not take Hume’s doubts seriously. Not only will it tend to wrap things up (for us, at least) it will provide an abbreviated overview of why the topic matters so much.

    Ok, good!

    So, what is Hume’s skeptical argument against causation, and why does it matter?

    Metaphysics, both scholastic and rationalistic, before Hume had assumed that we have a priori knowledge of causation. That is, they assumed that we can know particular causal relations independent of any experience — just by reason alone. Here are some examples of this kind of claim: (1) Descartes claims that the death of the body cannot cause the annihilation of the soul; (2) Spinoza and Leibniz claim that no substance can causally affect any other substance; (3) Malebranche claims that matter and mind cannot causally affect each other; (4) Berkeley claims that only the Mind of God can causally affect my mind.

    But how do we know any of this? Hume’s genius is to invert a well-known argument used by rationalist metaphysicians. Many of them — Leibniz in particular, but others, reason as follows: “since I can conceive of that-p, it is logically possible that-p“. But, necessity and possibility are contraries. So if I can conceive of not-p, then it is possible that not-p, hence it cannot be necessary that-p.

    That might not seem like much, but Hume applies it nicely to his analysis of causation. It certainly might seem that “like effects follow from like causes” is a priori, universally and necessarily true. But Hume thinks that this is not so, as follows:

    (1) All assertions are either ‘relations of ideas’ or ‘matters of fact’, where ‘relations of ideas’ are grounded in reason and ‘matters of fact’ are grounded in experience.
    (2) The denial of a ‘relation of ideas’ is an absurdity.
    (3) The denial of a ‘matter of fact’ is not an absurdity.
    (4) If “similar effects follow from similar causes” were denied, the result is not an absurdity — it is perfectly conceivable that the sun will not rise tomorrow, or that bread will cease to nourish me. (This is where Hume inverts the rationalistic strategy.)
    (5) So causation cannot be a ‘relation of ideas’
    (6) But causation cannot be a ‘matter of fact,’ either, because experience only teaches me a “constant conjunction” of events.
    (7) That is, a steady succession of A-events, always followed by B-events, is not synonymous with and does not entail the proposition “A causes B”.
    (8) So, causation is neither a relation of ideas (since the denial of it is not inconceivable) nor a matter of fact (since we do not observe the causal powers themselves).
    (9) hence causation is grounded in neither reason nor in experience, but rather is a matter of “custom or habit” — a psychological propensity to feel as if there were necessity whenever we experience some constant conjunction.

    What follows from this, as Hume makes abundantly clear, is that we only have causal knowledge about things that we’ve experienced. We can’t have any causal knowledge independent of experience, so there’s no a priori causal knowledge. And that undermines several hundred (if not thousand) years of metaphysics.

  323. 323
    Mung says:

    So Hume’s view on causes stems from his empiricist theory of knowledge?

  324. 324
    bornagain77 says:

    So BD, Why did Jesus take his ‘virtual’ body to eternity if the material body was merely an illusion that hung on the cross for ‘virtual’ evil?

    Luke 24:39
    See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

    Luke 24:51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

  325. 325
    Mung says:

    Like many empiricists, Hume conflates the intellect and the imagination, and his argument – indeed, his philosophy in general – sounds plausible only if one follows him in committing this error.

    The Last Superstition

  326. 326
    Bruce David says:

    KF:

    Instead, BD, explain to us how you are confident your second order perception that your first order perceptions are on the whole delusional, is accurate?

    I prefer the terms “illusion”, and “virtual reality”, not “delusion”, which carries a connotation of not being able to see the truth. If one correctly identifies it for what it is, then it isn’t a delusion, is it? Your belief that material things have existence independent of mind, could well be a delusion if you’re wrong about it. But in any case, how do you know they aren’t? As I explained in 298, all we really know (absent the direct knowing that is our birthright as the image and likeness of Him) is Santayana’s “solipsism of the present moment”. After that, each of us must choose what to believe about the nature of reality. I find way too many serious philosophical difficulties with the notion of a material universe to believe that it exists “out there” independent of mind.

  327. 327
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    So BD, Why did Jesus take his ‘virtual’ body to eternity if the material body was merely an illusion that hung on the cross for ‘virtual’ evil?

    Well, in the first place, I don’t regard the Bible as an unalloyed source of truth. So I really don’t know if Jesus took his body up to Heaven or not, or if He did, how it might have been transformed in the process.

    But in any case, there is nothing in my philosophy that prevents someone from “putting on” an image of their earthly body after leaving the earth plane. Based on what I have read, many souls do this (particularly those in teaching positions) from time to time for various purposes.

  328. 328
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    Like many empiricists, Hume conflates the intellect and the imagination, and his argument – indeed, his philosophy in general – sounds plausible only if one follows him in committing this error.

    One person’s conflation is another person’s refusal to grant a spurious and useless distinction. 🙂

    Now, I should immediately add, I do think that Feser is right — Hume does conflate the intellect and the imagination — though my theory of what that distinction really amounts to is decidedly not Thomistic.

    I’ll wait for StephenB to chime in again before saying more.

  329. 329
    bornagain77 says:

    “I don’t regard the Bible as an unalloyed source of truth”

    No that would be Jesus Himself who is THE TRUTH, though Jesus said to study the scripture for they testify of him.

    As to:

    “So I really don’t know if Jesus took his body up to Heaven or not, or if He did, how it might have been transformed in the process. But in any case, there is nothing in my philosophy that prevents someone from “putting on” an image of their earthly body after leaving the earth plane.”

    That’s the beauty of modern science!

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, Entropy and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://vimeo.com/34084462

    Scientific hypotheses on the origin of the body image of the Shroud – 2010
    Excerpt: for example, if we consider the density of radiation that we used to color a single square centimeter of linen, to reproduce the entire image of the Shroud with a single flash of light would require fourteen thousand lasers firing simultaneously each on a different area of linen. In other words, it would take a laser light source the size of an entire building.
    http://www.30giorni.it/articoli_id_22597_l3.htm

    It seems readily apparent from the evidence that we now have in hand that when one allows God into math, as Godel strongly indicated must ultimately be done to keep math from being ‘incomplete’, then there actually exists a very credible, empirically backed, reconciliation between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into a ‘Theory of Everything’! Yet it certainly is one that many dogmatic Atheists, at least the ones I’ve dealt with, will try to deny the relevance of.,,, As a footnote; Godel, who proved you cannot have a mathematical ‘Theory of Everything’, without allowing God to bring completeness to the ‘Theory of Everything’, also had this to say:

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.” – Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    While I agree with a criticism, from a Christian, that was leveled against the preceding Shroud of Turin video, that God needed no help from the universe in the resurrection event of Christ, I am, none-the-less, very happy to see that what is considered the number one problem of Physicists and Mathematicians in physics today, of a unification into a ‘theory of everything’ for what is in essence the finite materialistic world of General Relativity and the infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics, does in fact seem to find a very credible successful resolution for ‘unification’ within the resurrection event of Jesus Christ Himself. It seems almost overwhelmingly apparent to me from the ‘scientific evidence’ we now have that Christ literally ripped a hole in the finite entropic space-time of this universe to reunite infinite God with finite man. That modern science would even offer such a almost tangible glimpse into the mechanics of what happened in the tomb of Christ should be a source of great wonder and comfort for the Christian heart.

    Matthew 28:18
    And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and upon earth.”

    BD you stated somewhere in this thread something along the line that ‘virtual reality’ was to reveal God’s glory to us, or something like that,,, Why is God’s glory not revealed here with this evidence in His defeat of Death?

  330. 330
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: “By “nothing is found wanting” I only meant that there is no hunger, or lack of love, or other unfulfilled desires of that nature. The ability to experience our magnificence requires the experience of NOT that, which cannot be had without forgetting who we are.”

    By your argument, the ability to experience a thing requires that experience not be ubiquitous to your existence – it doesn’t matter if it is god’s magnificence, love, joy, warmth, or lack of hunger. This means your “true home”, if it is as you define it as, is – after a time – nothing but the lack of the experience of the very things you seek, because those things are ubiquitous there, like god’s magnificence, the ubiquitous-ness of which drove god to create the lack thereof.

    IOW, the ubiquitous nature of love, magnificence, joy, comfort, etc. renders one unable to experience those things in your “true home” which compels souls to abandon them, wallow in their absence a while so that one can again experience them.

    BD said: “If you are really interested, then I suggest you read the original source, (Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch), rather than relying on my pale imitation for understanding. If you are only interested in understanding enough to be able to denigrate that world view, then you need do nothing further.”

    You have made a false assumption here. I read CWG when it first came out in the mid-90’s. I was deeply into that kind of stuff at the time.

  331. 331
    Bruce David says:

    William re 330:
    You make a very good point. However, one doesn’t have to have to be having the experience of NOT “that” in the moment to be able to experience “that”. The memory will suffice. Thus one trip to earth will suffice for the experience of NOT love to enable the experience of love when one returns. But without ever having experienced NOT love, then living in the continual presence of God’s love would be as if it weren’t there from an experiential point of view.

  332. 332
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    @129 Bruce David,

    Thanks for answering. I have some sympathy for some of what you’ve been saying here, particular with regards to consciousness and the “virtual reality” spacetime that we as conscious entities are probably “interfacing” with (my term.) However…

    You: My view is that we perfect beings (the image and likeness of God) incarnate on Earth for the purpose of forgetting…

    Me: Why was this necessary?

    You: You didn’t include the rest of the sentence.

    I know. I didn’t think it was necessary, since it seems rather silly for the purpose to be “slowly remembering” when we could prevented the “forgetting” in the first place. Why forget only to remember?

    Here is a very condensed version of the explanation given by God in Conversations with God, Book I, which I consider to be direct revelation: God, in His transcendent state, knows He is magnificent, but He cannot
    experience this…

    How could God in his “transcendent state” “know” he was “magnificent” without “experiencing” his magnificence prior to this alledged self-limitation? What is the origin of this, well, theoretical, knowledge?

    Warmth, without the experience of cold, disappears.

    Warmth without cold is still warmth. Simply without cold. Furthermore, if I were comfortably warm, why would I want to experience anything other than warmth? And how would I theoretically know that cold exists in the first place?

    And in God’s transcendent state, there is no opposite to His magnificence, so although He knew it, He could not experience it.

    Whence cometh the theoretical knowledge? What does it mean for a transcendent, all-knowing entity to know *about* something and not know what the experience of would be?

    We are each an individualized copy of Him, complete with His magnificence (His love, His creativity, His joy, His wisdom, His knowledge)…

    I’ll leave this alone for now, since it is a consequence of the prior conjecture.

    Happy Holiday!

  333. 333
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: “You make a very good point. However, one doesn’t have to have to be having the experience of NOT “that” in the moment to be able to experience “that”. The memory will suffice. Thus one trip to earth will suffice for the experience of NOT love to enable the experience of love when one returns. But without ever having experienced NOT love, then living in the continual presence of God’s love would be as if it weren’t there from an experiential point of view.”

    Have you thought about any of this at length? Because it sounds to me like you’re just making this stuff up as you go to try and defend unexamined beliefs held because they appeal to you emotionally – and as a result, you are saying things that are irreconcilable with other statements you make.

    You said: “What is of great comfort to me is the knowledge that this physical existence is only a temporary state that I experience from time to time, but that my true home in which I abide between lives is a place of love in which nothing needed is found wanting, and in which all those I love or have loved exist eternally.”

    Between lives? If one life of a “lack-of” experience is all one needs to appreciate an eternity of the completely fulfilling characteristics of your “true home”, why would anyone live more than one life?

    Your attempt to reconcile the characterization of your eternal “true home” state with a reason why one would opt to have many lives here in the world of lack fails. Either your true home state lacks something we want or need, or we are not here out of choice.

    Simply put: why are you here, and why do you keep coming back, if there is so much better?

  334. 334
    William J Murray says:

    Box said: “I prefer not to engage in fantasizing about contexts where it could be right to torture infants, but hold that even something unthinkable as that might exist.

    I didn’t provide a context; I provided a motivation. Motivation/purpose is always a necessary component of understanding if an act is moral or not. “Context” is a matter of history, society, surroundings, beliefs, family, etc. Because I hit someone in the head with an axe doesn’t speak to the morality of the act unless we apply a motivation or purpose. If I hit someone in the head with an axe to stop them from shooting me or a loved one, then the act may be morally acceptable; if I do so to see how long they will flop around on the ground afterward, then it is probably immoral.

    The intention is not “context”; it is an essential aspect of the moral equation.

    It is always wrong, regardless of if society or religious authority says otherwise, regardless of your personal history and beliefs, to deliberately torture infants for personal pleasure. Because I hold it as objectively true moral rule, I am authorized to attempt to intervene on behalf of the infant regardless of the law, social views, or any other consideration or context.

  335. 335
    Bruce David says:

    William:

    Have you thought about any of this at length? Because it sounds to me like you’re just making this stuff up as you go to try and defend unexamined beliefs held because they appeal to you emotionally – and as a result, you are saying things that are irreconcilable with other statements you make.

    Yes, I have thought about it extensively, for decades. And no, I’m not making it up as I go, and if you had internalized CWG thoroughly when you read it, you would recognize what I am saying as more or less what God reports to us in those books. What you see as “irreconcilable” is mostly a function of not being able in the space available to completetly lay out the information which took a whole book to impart. If you will recall the format, God says something, often requiring pages to complete, and then Neale raises an objection or asks a question, just as you are doing here, then God responds, then Neale asks again, and so on. Now if you will read below, I will attempt to reconcile the “irreconcilable”.

    Between lives? If one life of a “lack-of” experience is all one needs to appreciate an eternity of the completely fulfilling characteristics of your “true home”, why would anyone live more than one life?

    One life is all that is required to have an experience of God’s love upon return, but many lives are required to fully realize and experience one’s own magnificence as having been made in His “image and likeness”. For example, we are all loving beings, that is our nature. But it is one thing to experience that between lives, where our loving nature is automatic, and quite another to experience our capacity to love and act from love in spite of our conditioning, peer and societal pressures, and our own lower emotions pulling us strongly in another direction. That is an experience worth having, and it can only be had while in a physical body.

    And to fully experience all the subtleties and ramifications of our God-like magnificence, it seems, requires many lifetimes, partly because, I think, it takes many lifetimes just to explore all the subtle variations of the experience of limitation.

    Also, I think, many souls love the adventure of life on earth, particularly from the perspective of the non-physical realm, where they know that the adventure will be temporary and that no matter what happens on earth, they are ultimately perfectly safe. It is perhaps similar to the urge that drives explorers to leave the comfort of hearth and family and endure the hardships of the wilderness or antarctic wastes for the adventure of exploration and discovery.

    At one point in CWG, after Neale has asked a question similar to yours, God declares that we love these lifetimes on earth, the adventure and the drama. I believe that is true for the most part, although there are probably some lives that are a relief to be done with.

    Put another way, we were made for this; it is our purpose. We are drawn to live these lives because they represent the fulfillment of Who We Really Are.

  336. 336
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: 294:

    KN:

    1) Did consciousness originate from non-conscious matter (IOW, was there a time that consciousness didn’t exist in the universe, and then because of some collection of events in the physical world, consciousness sprang into existence for the first time)?

    I certainly don’t think that consciousness existed (insofar as consciousness ‘exists’ at all) prior to its instantiation in primitive living things. But whether consciousness came into existence ” because of some collection of events in the physical world” depends on how one interprets “because of,” I suppose.

    2) Can the mental properties of an organism survive physical annihilation?

    No, I don’t see how.

  337. 337
    StephenB says:

    Merry Christmas everyone. I was looking forward to making a few comments, but is appears that it will be a couple of days before I can return.

  338. 338
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: “Put another way, we were made for this; it is our purpose. We are drawn to live these lives because they represent the fulfillment of Who We Really Are.”

    So, ongoing lives on Earth are necessary for our fulfillment, which is different than saying that our “true home” is without lack of that which fulfills us, and different from saying that “one lifetime” is all it takes to provide the context necessary to appreciate that which the “true home” offers. You aren’t a very good spokesperson for CWG.

    BD said: … and if you had internalized CWG thoroughly when you read it, you would recognize what I am saying as more or less what God reports to us in those books.

    I’m pretty sure that a large percentage of those who believe any philosophy or religion think that the only reason others disagree with them about the nature of that belief is because they don’t really understand it or didn’t “really” commit to it.

    Since “suffering” occurs in the mind of the individual, calling it “illusionary” is irrelevant. Suffering is suffering, if I experience it in life, a dream, or in a hallucination. According to CWG and many similar type philosophies, god created suffering in order to be able to feel the fulfillment of its own love/joy/magnificence.

    As I said to Box, it is always morally wrong to torture (or allow torture) of an infant for one’s personal pleasure. In your philosophy, all torturing is done for the sake – ultimately – of god’s personal pleasure.

    It seems odd to me that one can reject the notion that a worthy god can throw people in hell for eternity, when essentially that’s exactly what your philosophy says only with different phrasing and with occastional reprieves from the prison. Except in the Biblical version, hell exists to destroy evil (or punish it), while in your philosophy, hell (eternal suffering on Earth, even if you get parole now and then) exists only to serve god’s pleasure.

    I think I’d rather suffer as a punishment for my evil choices than suffer to provide god pleasure – a pleasure which is, apparently, insatiable.

  339. 339
    bornagain77 says:

    BD, I hold CWG to be incoherent heresy that leads gullible people astray, yet you hold it to be the word of God. Whereas, I hold the Bible to be so. The Bible is infamous for its unique watermark of prophecy so as to authenticate it from God. In fact I believe God challenges people to test prophets and prophecies. So once again, I ask you to provide just one unambiguous prophecy as I did for the Bible here,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-441930

    ,,,so as to give CWG to any credibility whatsoever as to being from God.

    Note:

    Decoding The Past – The Prophecies Of Israel – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lsb7d1yel7g

  340. 340
    William J Murray says:

    KN: re 336

    I guess conversation with you about what causes mental properties (consciousness, free will) is really an unproductive area, considering your statement in #322.

    What I do find puzzling after reading #322 is your naturalist position. I agree that the only thing we know is what we experience, and we only know it as experience. Rules of causation, physical laws, morality, etc. are inferred from experience. I don’t believe in a priori knowledge, but rather in principles one must accept on an a priori basis as necessary extrapolations of experience.

    This is the very reason I accept free will consciousness as the primordial essence of reality and not brute, unthinking matter (or brute, unthinking interactions of energy potentials). It is why I accept that free will consciousness precedes all material form and function, and must be accepted as superior to any idea about what mind is.

    I hold that position because the only thing I actually experience and know exists is my own free will consciousness – my mind. It is the fundamental tool by which I do and think and consider and theorize everything. Even internal involuntary processes I experience, like breathing, are only processed and understood as such via my conscious, deliberate mind.

    The idea of a natural world outside of that consciousness that behaves without conscious causation can only be an inference made in relation to the fundamentally existent reference point of my own deliberate, causative, creative mind, and in relation to involuntary experiences I recognize as such with that mind. It is all experienced and processed by mind, whatever mind is.

    This makes mind the logical and necessary fundamental aspect of reality as far as experience is concerned, and the idea ofa material, naturalistic world nothing more than a theoretical construct held in that mind. To claim that the natural world outside of mind is the basis of reality would require a priori knowledge that it is so because it is not experiencable in any way other than by mind, and cannot even be known to exist outside of mind.

    The belief that mind is a product of, or an epiphenomenon of matter is – again – a concept held entirely in mind. Whatever mind is, it is fundamental to and precedes all such views, including any idea of what mind is made of or how it exists.

    Mind – not naturalism – is the only basis for any rational concept of reality based on experience, simply put, because as far as we know, all experience takes place in the mind, whatever it is, whether or not that experience has anything at all to do with an exterior natural world.

  341. 341
    Mung says:

    Aquinas … regarded final causality as “the cause of causes,” the most fundamental of the four causes…Nothing can even be made sense of as an efficient cause – as that which brings something else into being – unless it at the same time possesses goal-directedness or finality. Moreover, for it to be directed toward a certain end entails its having a form or essence appropriate to the realization of that end, and thus a material structure capable of instantiating that form or essence…Thus the existence of final causes determines that there are formal and material causes too.

    Feser, Edward. The Last Superstition: A Refutation of hte New Atheism

  342. 342
    bornagain77 says:

    BD I noticed this previous response to my challenge to you to present just one unambiguous prophecy that has come to pass:

    “God, in Conversations with God, deliberately avoids making any predictions.”

    How convenient for him to not trouble us with such details!

    You then go on to state:

    “His purpose is to show us some truth about the nature of reality”,

    ,,,Yet when I pointed out to you that reality does not conform to your ‘no hell’ worldview,,,

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-441954

    ,,,In that two very different qualities of eternity are found by modern science, you simply ignored that fact as if it did not matter! Yet according to your metaphysics there should not be such a dramatic distinction between two different eternities (One extremely chaotic the other extremely ordered)!

    Then you comment as to what supposedly gives your pseudo holy book weight:

    “ourselves, and the nature of our relationship to Him. The books should be judged on that basis.”

    So does the Bible!! And I don’t even have to deny the reality of evil to make sense of it!

    Thus I ask you, with ZERO unambiguous prophecy to confirm that your book is from God, and a metaphysics that severely contradicts what is known about reality (two very different qualities of eternity), and a moral system that is impossible to live consistently within,,, you are asking me to believe your book is from God on the basis of what exactly??? Your ‘inner knowing’??? You got nothing and your worldview is worse than useless!

  343. 343
    kairosfocus says:

    Stephen: Enjoy de Christmas, mon! Not too much turkey and cake though . . . and den mek we see how de philosophikizin does go. KF

  344. 344
    Bruce David says:

    William:

    So, ongoing lives on Earth are necessary for our fulfillment, which is different than saying that our “true home” is without lack of that which fulfills us, and different from saying that “one lifetime” is all it takes to provide the context necessary to appreciate that which the “true home” offers. You aren’t a very good spokesperson for CWG.

    I never said our “‘true home’ is without lack of that which fulfills us”. I said, “nothing is found wanting” there, and I clarified that to mean “there is no hunger, or lack of love, or other unfulfilled desires of that nature.” I have made the distinction between that and having the experience of our and God’s magnificence, which is only possible through incarnation into the physical. Personally, I think you are deliberately trying not to understand, but that’s just my opinion.

    As I said to Box, it is always morally wrong to torture (or allow torture) of an infant for one’s personal pleasure. In your philosophy, all torturing is done for the sake – ultimately – of god’s personal pleasure.

    Your outrage is based on the notion of separation—that there is God, and there are humans, separate beings from Him. However, it is a central tenet of CWG that we are One. As God says, “Life is eternal and there is only One of us.” He created us out of Himself. Our consciousness is His consciousness, individualized. The One who looks out of our eyes is Him. Thus, whatever we experience, be it suffering or joy, He also experiences, because we are Him and He is us. There is no Him “doing it” to us. Furthermore, each individuation of Him has been granted free will. (Don’t ask me to explain how this is possible. I do not fully understand it. I take God’s word for it.) No one experiences anything that they have not chosen at the soul level to experience. In my view, this is a magnificent creation in which we all willingly participate.

    And we endure the suffering, true, but we also experience the magnificence as well, and it is our own magnificence. This is priceless.

  345. 345
    Bruce David says:

    BA re 339 & 342:

    You look on the Bible as a single thing. I look on it as a collection of books written by many different authors. You regard fulfilled prophesy as a guarantee of truth of everything else in all of the many books that comprise the Bible; I regard it as merely the ability to predict the future by one of its authors. As I also pointed out, Biblical fulfilled prophesy is always ambiguous and thus requires interpretation to make it fit later events. Furthermore, there are prophesies in the Bible that were not fulfilled, at least one by Jesus himself, which you conveniently ignore.

    God, speaking to Neale in Conversations with God chose not to make any predictions. Who are you to demand that He abide by your requirements for warrant? Personally, I have no such warrant. There have been many people throughout history who have had the ability to predict future events. For example, in a dream, Mark Twain predicted the exact circumstances of his brother’s death two weeks hence. Does this validate the entirety of Mark Twain’s world view? I wouldn’t say so, would you?

  346. 346
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “Your outrage is based on the notion of separation—that there is God, and there are humans, separate beings from Him. However, it is a central tenet of CWG that we are One.”

    ,,, there was another who thought nothing of considering himself equal with God,,,

    Isaiah 14:14
    14 “I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”

    Slight problem with equating yourself with God BD is that the job of God is taken already:

    Isaiah 45:5
    I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.

  347. 347
    bornagain77 says:

    Mark Twain did not claim to be speaking God’s words in Huck Finn!

  348. 348
    bornagain77 says:

    BD you offer this lame excuse,,

    ‘Furthermore, there are prophesies in the Bible that were not fulfilled, at least one by Jesus himself, which you conveniently ignore.’,,

    BD, You know that it is notoriously difficult to verify prophecy for accuracy. For instance the Isaiah prophecy could not be confirmed as accurate until the dead sea scrolls were discovered. (The story behind that is quite interesting). The prophecy I have listed for examination is simply without parallel,,,

    Restoration Of Israel and Jerusalem In Prophecy (Doing The Math) – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8598581

    And was recently verified by archeology:

    SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
    Excerpt “In late years several cuneiform tablets have been discovered pertaining to the fall of Babylon which peg both Biblical and secular historic dates. The one tablet known as the “Nabunaid Chronicle” gives the date for the fall of Babylon which specialists have ascertained as being October 12-13, 539 B.C., Julian Calendar, or October 6-7, 539 B.C., according to our present Gregorian Calendar. This tablet also says that Cyrus made his triumphant entry into Babylon 16 days after its fall to his army. Thus his accession year commenced in October, 539 B.C. However, in another cuneiform tablet called “Strassmaier, Cyrus No. 11″ Cyrus’ first regnal year is mentioned and was determined to have begun March 17-18, 538 B.C., and to have concluded March 4-5, 537 B.C. It was in this first regnal year of Cyrus that he issued his decree to permit the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1) The decree may have been made in late 538 B.C. or before March 4-5, 537 B.C.
    In either case this would have given sufficient time for the large party of 49,897 Jews to organize their expedition and to make their long four-month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem to get there by September 29-30, 537 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month, to build their altar to Jehovah as recorded at Ezra 3:1-3. Inasmuch as September 29-30, 537 B.C., officially ends the seventy years of desolation as recorded at 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21, so the beginning of the desolation of the land must have officially begun to be counted after September 21-22, 607 B.C., the first of the seventh Jewish month in 607 B.C., which is the beginning point for the counting of the 2,520 years.”
    http://onlytruegod.org/jwstrs/537vs539.htm

    Now this should, by any reasonable accounts, catch your interest, but no you simply ignore it as if it did not matter. For you to try to play off on some unfulfilled prophecy the weight that this prophecy presents is simply completely disingenuous to being fair to the evidence we have to work with!.

  349. 349
    StephenB says:

    Kantian Naturalist @322:

    In order to describe the conditions under which humans come to understand the concept of causality, we must first understand the nature of the intellectual faculty and its relationship to the complementary capacity for receiving sense impressions. The intellect connects us to the world of concepts; sensation puts us in touch with the elements in the physical world. When, for example, we meet a woman for the first time, we recognize immediately that there is something about that her that is shared by everyone– the universal—her humanity; but we also perceive her individual traits, such as height, hair, skin tone, eye color etc.—the particular—that special and unique combination of traits that makes her unique. Accordingly, we can’t really say we know her solely by her features (the particular) or solely by her humanity (the universal). Unless both our capacities for knowing are involved in the process, we cannot properly interpret our experience in a rational way.

    Intellectual activity, that is, the act of thinking, involves elements that are substantially different from sensual experience. Among other things, we think about universal ideas such as truth, justice, law, triangles, and—– causality. Interestingly, though, the process by which we arrive at these universal concepts begins with sense experience and operates on the materials provided through its input. If we never come in contact with individual persons, we cannot fully understand what it means to be human. On the other hand, if we have no notion of humanity, we cannot properly interpret our experience of meeting those individuals.

    From what has been said, it should be evident that one can come to understand the concept of causality only through the sympathetic cooperation between the intellectual activity and sense experience. We observe a causal event through our power of sense, but we recognize the causality in the event by the interpretive power of our intellect. At variance with this view, philosopher David Hume questions our ability to know the relation between cause and effect, insisting that empirical methods simply cannot prove it. Observations, we are told, only show a “constant conjunction” of events, a “regular succession” of A followed by B, prompting the mind to infer a process of cause and effect. To that, the competent philosopher can only say, “well, of course sense observation or empirical methods cannot provide knowledge of causality—that is primarily the job of the intellect. Knowledge of causation requires sensual input in concert with interpretive intellectual functions such as intuition, abstraction, identification, discrimination, and judgment. The beginning of the process (sense experience) is a necessary condition for the end of the process (understanding).

    One of Hume’s serious mistakes was to assume that our intellectual life is little more than a series of observations and sense impressions, which means that, for him, we cannot make the judgment that causes are always linked to their effects. Because Hume expected the senses to do that which only the intellect can do, he mistakenly and mischievously attributed his failure to “observe” causality as an indication that causality cannot be known. We cannot, in his judgment, know the order that is inherent in a causal event. Our mind reacts to the event by imposing order on an otherwise disorderly event. Unfortunately, too many philosophers and scholars have bought into this badly reasoned analysis.

    Among other things, Hume makes no distinction between the sensitive powers and the intellectual powers. Like Locke before him, he mergers both into one faculty. This was (and still is) a great mistake from which modern philosophy has never recovered and may never recover. While the powers of intellect and sensation cooperate in the cognitive process, as I indicated above, they do not operate in the same way or contribute to the acquisition of knowledge in the same way. Many of the perplexities and so-called problems of causality, induction, perception, nominalism, and post-modern subjectivism stem from and build on this egregious analytical error of characterizing ideas as both objects of the mind and representations of things.
    In order to find our way back to rationality, we must rehabilitate philosophy by recognizing that there are two sorts of entities in the universe: minds and material objects. A mind knows objects (and other minds) by means of representations or impressions that are caused by these objects and resemble them. The opposing notion that the mind’s ideas are its only means of access to the outside world is absurd and destructive. If we can only compare our ideas with each other without relating them to external reality, we are forever trapped in a prison of intellectual narcissism. No wonder Kant almost drove everyone crazy by carrying on as if these kinds of ideas should be taken seriously. Perhaps that is why he brought us out of the frying pan of intellectual doubt and into the fire of intellectual madness. Aquinas anticipated this nonsense almost 800 years ago by making the distinction between THAT which is apprehended and that BY WHICH it is apprehended.

  350. 350
    Box says:

    @William J Murray -334
    You have chosen to narrow down our conversation to ethics and that’s fine with me.

    William J Murray: “I didn’t provide a context; I provided a motivation. Motivation/purpose is always a necessary component of understanding if an act is moral or not. “Context” is a matter of history, society, surroundings, beliefs, family, etc. (…) The intention is not “context”; it is an essential aspect of the moral equation.”

    William J Murray: “It is always wrong, regardless of if society or religious authority says otherwise, regardless of your personal history and beliefs, to deliberately torture infants for personal pleasure. Because I hold it as objectively true moral rule, I am authorized to attempt to intervene on behalf of the infant regardless of the law, social views, or any other consideration or context.

    I prefer a different definition of things. I would define ‘to torture an infant’ as the act. And I would define everything else, including motivation, as the context of the act. You seem to argue that motivation suffices for understanding if an act is moral or not. I would argue that motivation is part of the context.
    To illustrate my point imagine this: I have in my possession a time machine. I also have in my possession the absolute knowledge that dr. Mengele won’t become the dreadful dr. Mengele when he is either killed as an infant or is being tortured for 10 seconds as an infant.
    Now a sadist and me travel through time to the infant ‘dr. Mengele’. The infant is being tortured by the sadist for 10 seconds before I intervene.
    Is the act wrong? Well maybe, but it prevented unspeakable horror. Is the sadist wrong? Yes he is wrong. Am I right for setting it all up? You tell me.

  351. 351
    Mung says:

    The bulk of this book is directed against the Humean empiricist, the empiricist who thinks that one cannot find out about causes, only about associations.

    – Cartwright, Nancy. Nature’s Capacities and their Measurement

  352. 352
    StephenB says:

    William J Murray:

    “I didn’t provide a context; I provided a motivation. Motivation/purpose is always a necessary component of understanding if an act is moral or not. “Context” is a matter of history, society, surroundings, beliefs, family, etc. (…) The intention is not “context”; it is an essential aspect of the moral equation.”

    Box

    I prefer a different definition of things. I would define ‘to torture an infant’ as the act. And I would define everything else, including motivation, as the context of the act. You seem to argue that motivation suffices for understanding if an act is moral or not.

    WJM is not saying that intention “suffices to understand if an act is moral or not.” His point is that you cannot judge the morality of an act without taking account of the intentions that gave rise to it. He is, of course, right. If a young man helps a little old lady across the street in order impress a young woman, he has not performed a moral act. If, on the other hand, he does it solely out of compassion, he has done a good thing.

    I would argue that motivation is part of the context.

    The context is the particular situation in which the universal principle is applied. Did the compassionate young alluded to above take time out from an unusually busy day, requiring personal sacrifice, or did he have nothing better to do? The first act is of a higher moral order than the second act because it is done at some cost to the doer.

  353. 353
    William J Murray says:

    BD said: “Personally, I think you are deliberately trying not to understand, but that’s just my opinion.”

    That’s exactly my opinion about you.

    BD said: “Your outrage….”

    The sensation of outrage is your projection. I’m not outraged at all.

  354. 354
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    In re: 340

    It seems to me that this assumes a ‘Cartesian’ model of the mind that can be held distinct from full-fledged Berkeleyian immaterialism by the breadth of only the finest of hairs. In contrast, while I do of course think that it is experience that is given to us, what is given to us in experience is not the mind’s experience of itself — it is the experience of the world. I do not first perceive mental images and then infer material things on their basis; on the contrary, to perceive is to perceive the very things themselves.

    All perception is transcendence, the mind is not inside of itself, already the mind is attuned to the world and the things of the world — there is no intermediary between my mind and the sky, but to perceive the sky is for its very bluishness to enter into me, and my gaze into its depths.

    Now, I agree completely with StephenB that Hume was in error to conflate perception and thought, and that Aristotle is a better guide on this point that Hume or any of the moderns before him. (But I exempt Kant — Kant is on the right track to rediscovering Aristotle’s insight here, that to perceive and to think are fundamentally different in kind.)

    However, Hume’s conflation of perception and thought is not what is at stake here. What is at stake here is whether, of the class of non-tautologous necessary truths, there are any that go beyond our embodied, perceptual experience. For Kant’s response to Hume is to say, “no, Hume, you’re wrong in thinking that the ‘necessity’ of causal claims is a mere psychological association, but you’re right that we can’t make any causal claims that go beyond experience.”

    StephenB’s Thomistic argument for the difference in kind between perception and thought works nicely as an argument against the first part of Kant’s thought there, but not against the second. So in effect Kant will happily side with Aristotle in thinking that there is a difference in kind between perception and thought, and so the necessity of causal knowledge cannot be explained in terms of perception and imagination, and yet side with Hume, against Aristotle, in denying that causal knowledge can go beyond experience.

    And I believe that one would have to show that causal knowledge can go beyond experience — indeed, beyond all possible experience — in order to establish that, just because all things we can experience must have had a cause, so too the totality of all things — the spatio-temporal continuum, the cosmos itself — must also have had a cause.

    The error in question — the conflation of perception and thought — actually arises not with Locke, but with Descartes, and it arises because he consigns all of nature to mathematical physics. Having done so, he looses his grip on the very ontology of life, and so he has no choice but to assimilate sensing and thinking. A “thinking thing,” after all, is defined in the Meditations as “that which thinks, doubts, believes, wills, and also imagines and perceives”. The addendum — “and also imagines and perceives” — is the beginning of the conflation of perceiving and thinking, and it persists throughout the moderns — it is central to Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume — they all neglect this fundamental Aristotelian distinction.

    Kant re-discovers the Aristotelian insight with his distinction between sensibility (our capacity to be sensually affected by objects) and the understanding (our capacity to judge according to rules). But for Kant, the rules of the understanding only yield non-trivial, non-tautologous knowledge when applied to the sensibility.* And Aristotle (and Aquinas) would deny that, so that’s where the action is at in this debate.

    *Technically, the importance of tautology in demarcating analytic claims from synthetic ones did not become really clear until the early 20th-century, with Wittgenstein’s Tractatus and Carnap’s Logical Construction of the World. But I think the idea is quite clearly present in how Hume describes relations of ideas and how Kant describes analytic a priori judgments.

  355. 355
    nullasalus says:

    And I believe that one would have to show that causal knowledge can go beyond experience — indeed, beyond all possible experience — in order to establish that, just because all things we can experience must have had a cause, so too the totality of all things — the spatio-temporal continuum, the cosmos itself — must also have had a cause.

    I’ve heard this before, and it never seems right. It’s entirely arbitrary to pipe-up and declare that the fundamental rules of thought and reason suddenly should be treated as if they end at this point, purely because it’s a specific instance where we supposedly can’t have direct experience. It’s a bit like hearing a cosmologist being asked about what takes place beyond the observable universe and him replying, well, in principle it’s not even possible for us to observe such – for all we know the laws of thought break down and logic or causality don’t apply in that area.

  356. 356
    Kantian Naturalist says:

    the laws of thought break down and logic or causality

    Yes, it is precisely the “or” — “logic or causality” — to which I’m objecting. That the laws of logic hold across all possible worlds, I do not contest; it the extension of the same necessity to causation that I am contesting.

    For this is what I think Kant was right about: that there are two kinds of necessity, a necessity of thought all by itself and a necessity of thought as applied to experience, the analytic a priori and the synthetic a priori.

  357. 357
    Box says:

    @StephenB – 352
    -Intention part of context or not-

    A compassionate act can have a terrible outcome due to its context. And a satanic act can have a good outcome due to its context. Can the outcome (and so the context) change the verdict about the act? Or is a compassionate act always ‘right’ irrespective of the outcome? Is the goodness of an act separate from its consequences? If the goodness of an act is separate from its consequences than it is also to some extent separate from context. So in that case it would be wrong to state, like I did, that motives are part of the context.
    Should we separate the act and motives? If we do, I think I can I say, this act, irrespective of intentions, was of great service to humanity so due to this context I’m glad it happened and it’s a good thing. The question is: can an act be identified as a good thing, due to context, while being performed with bad intentions?

  358. 358
    nullasalus says:

    Yes, it is precisely the “or” — “logic or causality” — to which I’m objecting. That the laws of logic hold across all possible worlds, I do not contest; it the extension of the same necessity to causation that I am contesting.

    Except the reservation is arbitrary. You contest it on what grounds? It certainly can’t be because experience is on your side here, much less logic. The best you can say is ‘well, because we can’t experience it, we should throw up our hands and assume violations to reason and causality or the utter lack of explanation or… (etc) should have just as much weight on us mentally.’

  359. 359
    Mung says:

    KN:

    That the laws of logic hold across all possible worlds, I do not contest; it the extension of the same necessity to causation that I am contesting.

    “The law of causality, so defined, is merely a logical extension of the law of non-contradiction.”

    – R.C. Sproul, Not A Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science & Cosmology

  360. 360
    William J Murray says:

    Reasonably forseeable consequences figure into the moral equation just as the forseeable consequence of pulling the trigger of a loaded gun while aimed at an innocent child is part of the the moral equation of the act.

    Unforseeable consequences are not part of any moral equation. You cannot judge the morality of any act simply by looking at the consequences of the act. The end does not justify or condemn the means.

  361. 361
    William J Murray says:

    KN said: “I do not first perceive mental images and then infer material things on their basis; on the contrary, to perceive is to perceive the very things themselves.

    Anyone that has had a dream knows the statement above to be false.

  362. 362
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    “…However, it is a central tenet of CWG that we are One.”

    ,,, there was another who thought nothing of considering himself equal with God,,,

    Since when is the part equal to the whole?

  363. 363
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    BD you offer this lame excuse,,

    ‘Furthermore, there are prophesies in the Bible that were not fulfilled, at least one by Jesus himself, which you conveniently ignore.’,,

    BD, You know that it is notoriously difficult to verify prophecy for accuracy.

    But Jesus prophesy included a time limit on when it would be fulfilled.
    From Mark 13:

    24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. 28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. [my emphasis]

    Jesus prophesied that these things would happen during the then current generation. Since that time is long past and even now these things have not yet occurred, we can say with certainty that his prophesy was not fulfilled.

    So let’s hear no more of fulfilled prophesy being a test of veracity, ok?

  364. 364
    StephenB says:

    Mung @359, quoting R.C. Sproul “The law of causality, so defined, is merely a logical extension of the law of non-contradiction.”

    This is absolutely and profoundly true– and easy to prove. The one Law cannot be separated from the other. To deny one is to deny the other. To qualify one is to qualify the other. All of Kantian Naturalist’s errors stem from the fact that he either does not understand or refuses to accept that fact.

  365. 365
    StephenB says:

    Rruce

    But Jesus prophesy included a time limit on when it would be fulfilled.</blockquote
    From Mark 13:

    Jesus prophesied that these things would happen during the then current generation. Since that time is long past and even now these things have not yet occurred, we can say with certainty that his prophesy was not fulfilled.

    What Jesus is saying in this passage is that the signs that precede the end times will be similar to those that preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. It is a pledge that just as one event will be fulfilled so with the other.

  366. 366
    Bruce David says:

    Stephen:

    What Jesus is saying in this passage is that the signs that precede the end times will be similar to those that preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. It is a pledge that just as one event will be fulfilled so with the other.

    However, Jesus put a definite time limit on the fulfillment of this prophesy, a time limit long since past: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

    “This generation” means people who were alive at the time that he spoke, and he says that at least some of them will still be alive when the events prophesied occur. Since that was 2000 years ago, clearly this did not happen; the prophesy was not fulfilled.

  367. 367
    bornagain77 says:

    As to:

    ““Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.””

    yet,

    The Signs of Israel’s Rebirth: Lesson 1: The Parable of the Fig Tree
    Excerpt: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled” (vv. 32-34). By “generation,” He evidently meant the generation that starts with the leafing out of the fig tree.
    Concluding Statement: Now it should also be perfectly clear what the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse means (Matt 24:32-34). As the disciples were walking into the city on Tuesday morning after Palm Sunday, they noticed that the tree which Jesus had cursed the day before had withered and dried up. Later, on Tuesday evening, when the memory of the withered fig tree was still fresh in their minds, Jesus spoke the parable in question. He said that when the church sees the fig tree leafing out again, it will know that “it is . . . at the doors.” The Greek for “it is” can also be translated “he is.” In prophecy, “door” is often a symbol for the passageway between heaven and earth (Rev. 4:1). What the parable means, therefore, is that when the nation of Israel revives after its coming disintegration and death in A.D. 70, the return of Christ will be imminent.
    http://www.themoorings.org/pro.....rael1.html

    Fall Feasts and the Budding of the Fig Tree with Doug Hamp – video
    https://vimeo.com/50687234

    Note:

    The Prophesied Second Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Yyhb0EH6KaMTeX5bYuLD2fRFgEYJC2RKsjiTcqgEbII

  368. 368
    bornagain77 says:

    as to: “…However, it is a central tenet of CWG that we are One.”

    ,,, there was another who thought nothing of considering himself equal with God,,,

    BD:

    “Since when is the part equal to the whole?”

    So was Adam, when he was alone in the Garden of Eden, equivalent to Almighty God in your math since he represented all of humanity at that time?

    i.e. does a finite being = a infinite being?

  369. 369
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the finite becoming infinite, Dr. Dembski notes:

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Philippians 2: 5-11
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Of note: I hold ‘growing large without measure’ to be a lesser quality infinity than a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The reason why I hold it to be a ‘lesser quality infinity’ is stated at the 4:30 minute mark of the following video:

    Can A “Beginning-less Universe” Exist? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8YN0fwo5J4

    Notes:

    Georg Cantor – The Mathematics Of Infinity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4572335
    entire video: BBC-Dangerous Knowledge – Part 1
    https://vimeo.com/30482156
    Part 2
    https://vimeo.com/30641992

    Of related note:

    This following video interview of a Harvard Neurosurgeon, who had a Near Death Experience (NDE), is very interesting. His NDE was rather unique from typical NDEs in that he had completely lost brain wave function for 7 days while the rest of his body was on life support. As such he had what can be termed a ‘pure consciousness’ NDE that was dramatically different from the ‘typical’ Judeo-Christian NDEs of going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension, seeing departed relatives, and having a life review. His NDE featured his ‘consciousness’ going outside the confines of space/time, matter/energy to experience ‘non-locally’ what he termed ‘the Core’, i.e to experience God. It is also interesting to note that he retained a ‘finite sense of self-identity’, as Theism would hold, and did not blend into the infinite consciousness/omniscience of God, as pantheism would hold.

    A Conversation with Near Death Experiencer Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, M.D. with Steve Paulson (Interviewer) – video
    http://www.btci.org/bioethics/...../vid3.html

    A proof of heaven – November 2, 2012 – video
    Dr. Eben Alexander shares his thoughts on whether science can explain that heaven really does exist.
    http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the.....4#49665334

    Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife – Dr. Eben Alexander – Oct 8, 2012
    Excerpt: One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....rlife.html

    As to a ‘mechanism for Dr. Alexander’s NDE, it is found that the brain has a different type of quantum entanglement that the rest of the body does;

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    http://vimeo.com/39982578

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

  370. 370
    bornagain77 says:

    As to the finite becoming infinite, Dr. Dembski notes:

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Philippians 2: 5-11
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    Of note: I hold ‘growing large without measure’ to be a lesser quality infinity than a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The reason why I hold it to be a ‘lesser quality infinity’ is stated at the 4:30 minute mark of the following video:

    Can A “Beginning-less Universe” Exist? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8YN0fwo5J4

    Notes:

    Georg Cantor – The Mathematics Of Infinity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4572335
    entire video: BBC-Dangerous Knowledge – Part 1
    https://vimeo.com/30482156
    Part 2
    https://vimeo.com/30641992

    Of related note:

    This following video interview of a Harvard Neurosurgeon, who had a Near Death Experience (NDE), is very interesting. His NDE was rather unique from typical NDEs in that he had completely lost brain wave function for 7 days while the rest of his body was on life support. As such he had what can be termed a ‘pure consciousness’ NDE that was dramatically different from the ‘typical’ Judeo-Christian NDEs of going through a tunnel to a higher heavenly dimension, seeing departed relatives, and having a life review. His NDE featured his ‘consciousness’ going outside the confines of space/time, matter/energy to experience ‘non-locally’ what he termed ‘the Core’, i.e to experience God. It is also interesting to note that he retained a ‘finite sense of self-identity’, as Theism would hold, and did not blend into the infinite consciousness/omniscience of God, as pantheism would hold.

    A Conversation with Near Death Experiencer Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander III, M.D. with Steve Paulson (Interviewer) – video
    http://www.btci.org/bioethics/...../vid3.html

    A proof of heaven – November 2, 2012 – video
    Dr. Eben Alexander shares his thoughts on whether science can explain that heaven really does exist.
    http://video.msnbc.msn.com/the.....4#49665334

    Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife – Dr. Eben Alexander – Oct 8, 2012
    Excerpt: One of the few places I didn’t have trouble getting my story across was a place I’d seen fairly little of before my experience: church. The first time I entered a church after my coma, I saw everything with fresh eyes. The colors of the stained-glass windows recalled the luminous beauty of the landscapes I’d seen in the world above. The deep bass notes of the organ reminded me of how thoughts and emotions in that world are like waves that move through you. And, most important, a painting of Jesus breaking bread with his disciples evoked the message that lay at the very heart of my journey: that we are loved and accepted unconditionally by a God even more grand and unfathomably glorious than the one I’d learned of as a child in Sunday school.
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/n.....rlife.html

  371. 371
    bornagain77 says:

    As to a ‘mechanism’ for Dr. Alexander’s NDE, it is found that the brain has a different type of quantum entanglement that the rest of the body does;

    Quantum Entangled Consciousness – Life After Death – Stuart Hameroff – video
    http://vimeo.com/39982578

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding – February 22, 2011
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    Excerpt: First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.
    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.,,,
    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.
    That’s a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo’s equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That’s the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.
    http://www.technologyreview.co.....f-protein/

  372. 372
    kairosfocus says:

    KN:

    Pardon, but there is a smuggled in assumption at 354 above that you are probably not aware of as that:

    And I believe that one would have to show that causal knowledge can go beyond experience — indeed, beyond all possible experience — in order to establish that, just because all things we can experience must have had a cause, so too the totality of all things — the spatio-temporal continuum, the cosmos itself — must also have had a cause.

    See the problem?

    As in how do you know that ” the spatio-temporal continuum” constitutes “the totality of all things”? That is actually an assertion of physicalism or materialism.

    In immediate reply to the challenge to cause-effect, I point to the implications of a necessary causal factor, i.e. one that if present or “on” contributes to the possibility of an effect. For instance, as was already brought up, consider the four factors for the fire triangle.

    Anything that has such, will have a dependency on something external to itself and we can see that if something can end or has a beginning, it obviously can be switched off or can be blocked from coming on, i.e. it is contingent. Any contingent being has at least one necessary causal factor.

    This immediately leads to the question, what of abstractly possible entities — let’s do a thought exercise — that have no such necessary factors?

    They will not be contingent, and so have no beginning, no capacity to be turned off and will be eternal. For instance, we can argue that numbers, per the sort of previous discussion on moving from the empty set on up, are like that.

    Where also we see that possible worlds thought leads to the classic result that such a candidate will be such that if it is possible it will be actual in all possible worlds. That is, the road block to such a candidate is not that we do not like such a concept or the like, but, is it impossible, i.e. it is in fact not possible in any logically coherent world. Such as, it embeds the sort of contradiction in “a square circle,” which is not possible in any world.

    We may now return to cosmology in the world we collectively experience.

    Where, we have a body of scientific evidence that it credibly had a beginning. Also, we observe that matter and energy are inter-related by the famous expression E = m*c^2, so matter and energy are inherently contingent. The state of affairs at any given point in time and space as we observe it will also be contingent. Which also credibly extends to the singularity which we did not observe, as we see that the cosmos is evidently fine tuned in many ways that set up a world in which C-chemistry, aqueous medium, DNA-using cell based life is possible.

    So, we may properly ask what explains such a cosmos, what are the reasonable candidates.

    And, we also see that if something exists, something always existed as a necessary root of being. (Formerly, 100 years ago, that was thought to be the observed cosmos, but now that has been decisively undermined, as was also noted already.)

    The most reasonable candidate for that, is a necessary, intelligent, immaterial — Mind, not matter — and powerful architect of the cosmos. Whatever that does for our neat debate points on how minds can be isolated from matter if there is something mental separate from something minded. We may not understand all things, but we know enough to make the view just outlined reasonable.

    Mix in the further matter of how we find ourselves morally bound, and we see that it is further reasonable to identify the architect of the cosmos as an inherently good maker of the world who has made us as moral creatures with significant responsibility. Mechanisms to do that, though an interesting onward pursuit, are secondary.

    And, in this Advent season, it is worth putting on the table that despite the fulminations of the so-called new atheists we may have good reason to see that that same Eternal Logos, i.e. Reason Himself, has struck a tent in human flesh and visited among us, as our Lord and prophesied Messiah.

    Which is reason to celebrate!

    CONTINUED Advent greetings and a happy new year to all

    KF

  373. 373
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: The lyrics:

    O Holy Night!
    The stars are brightly shining,
    It is the night of our dear Saviours birth;
    Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
    ‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
    A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
    For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn;
    Fall on your knees,
    Oh, hear the angels voices!
    O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
    O night, O holy night,
    O night divine!

    V2
    Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
    With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand;
    So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
    Here came the wise men from Orient land.
    The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
    In all our trials born to be our Friend;
    He knows our need,
    To our weakness is no stranger.
    Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
    Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

    V3
    Truly He taught us to love one another;
    His law is love and His gospel is peace;
    Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother [alludes to Philemon vv. 2, 15 – 17, the motto of the antislavery movement],
    And in His name all oppression shall cease.
    Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
    Let all within us praise His holy name;
    Christ is the Lord,
    Oh, praise His name forever!
    His powr and glory evermore proclaim!
    His powr and glory evermore proclaim!

  374. 374
    CentralScrutinizer says:

    Bruce David, still waiting for an answer.

    I will repeat:

    You: God, in His transcendent state, knows He is magnificent, but He cannot experience this…

    Me: How could God in his “transcendent state” “know” he was “magnificent” without “experiencing” his magnificence prior to this alledged self-limitation? What is the origin of this, well, theoretical, knowledge?

    What say ye?

    Thanks in advance

  375. 375
    Bruce David says:

    BA:

    When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled” (vv. 32-34). By “generation,” He evidently meant the generation that starts with the leafing out of the fig tree.

    That is not what he said. He is uses the fig tree putting forth leaves being a harbinger of summer as a metaphor for the signs being a harbinger of “it” (presumably his coming and/or the Kingdom of God being established). It is a metaphor, that is all. He then goes on to say that these things will happen before “this generation” passes. The only reasonable meaning for the phrase “this generation” is the generation in existence at the time he spoke.

    Your interpretation is an alteration of the meaning to avoid the obvious—the prophesy was not fulfilled.

    Now you are entitled to your interpretation, of course, but tor this and other reasons I have already mentioned, prophesy in the Bible is a very weak argument for its veracity to someone who doesn’t already believe.

    BD:

    “Since when is the part equal to the whole?”

    So was Adam, when he was alone in the Garden of Eden, equivalent to Almighty God in your math since he represented all of humanity at that time?

    That is your metaphysics, not mine. In mine, myriad souls, individuations of Himself, were created all at once.

    But even if I grant your premise (and ignoring the angels), Adam is still the created and God the creator, so Adam’s—and our—existence is dependent on God. Thus Adam and we are not God’s equal even though He made us in His image and likeness.

    I believe that each of us is a part of Him, created with God-like powers, wisdom, knowledge, and love, but I am also fully aware that I owe these and indeed my very existence to Him. I know that I am utterly dependent upon Him. I would never claim to be His equal, even to myself.

  376. 376
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    This is absolutely and profoundly true– and easy to prove. The one Law cannot be separated from the other. To deny one is to deny the other. To qualify one is to qualify the other. All of Kantian Naturalist’s errors stem from the fact that he either does not understand or refuses to accept that fact.

    But apparently he is in good(?) company. 😉

    KN:

    And I believe that one would have to show that causal knowledge can go beyond experience — indeed, beyond all possible experience — in order to establish that, just because all things we can experience must have had a cause, so too the totality of all things — the spatio-temporal continuum, the cosmos itself — must also have had a cause.

    R.C. Sproul:

    The problem with it rests, however, in that major premise: “Everything must have a cause.” How can we rationally justify this assertion? What law teaches that everything that is, is necessarily an effect? We have seen already that the concept of self-existent being is rationally possible. It violates no law of reason. If that is the case, we may offer another argument:

    If something may be self-existent,
    then something may exist without a cause.

    R.C. Sproul:

    Perhaps it should be unnecessary to say that the First Cause argument does not rest on this faulty premise. However, since men of the prodigious intellect of [Bertrand] Russell and [John Stuart] Mill missed the crucial distinction between “Every effect must have a cause” and “Every thing must have a cause,” it is necessary to stress it once more.

  377. 377
    Bruce David says:

    CentralScrutinizer, re 373:

    Conceptual knowledge and experiential knowledge are not the same. I can know that climbing Mt. Everest would be cold, difficult, painful, and dangerous even though I have never had the experience.

    But really, the answer is simply that I take His word for it, as revealed in Conversations with God, Book I.

  378. 378
    Mung says:

    StephenB:

    What Jesus is saying in this passage is that the signs that precede the end times will be similar to those that preceded the destruction of Jerusalem.

    Wrong answer. Jesus never said Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies twice and destroyed twice.

    Bruce David:

    Jesus prophesied that these things would happen during the then current generation. Since that time is long past and even now these things have not yet occurred, we can say with certainty that his prophesy was not fulfilled.

    The correct answer is that those things did come to pass within that generation. Jesus was not a false prophet. The thing he said would come tp pass did come to pass, as and when he said they would. So now what is your argument?

    That the prophecies were not precise enough?

    That the prophecies were written down after the fact?

  379. 379
    Mung says:

    Brude David:

    But really, the answer is simply that I take His word for it, as revealed in Conversations with God, Book I.

    More appropriately titled, Conversations with Myself, but no one would buy that.

  380. 380
    bornagain77 says:

    BD tries to save face:

    “The only reasonable meaning for the phrase “this generation” is the generation in existence at the time he spoke.”

    Wrong!

    The Signs of Israel’s Rebirth: Lesson 1: The Parable of the Fig Tree
    Excerpt: Jesus saved His fullest discussion of things to come until shortly before He died. This discussion, known as the Olivet Discourse, took place on the Tuesday evening between Palm Sunday and the day of the Crucifixion. Matthew’s record of Jesus’ words on this occasion requires two long chapters. Rather than reprinting the discourse in full, we will ask the reader to peruse it in his own Bible. The discourse arose out of a discussion earlier in the day, between Jesus and His disciples.

    1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

    2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

    3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

    Matthew 24:1-3

    The disciples had offered to show Jesus the magnificent buildings of the Temple (v. 1). Jesus had replied that not one stone would be left upon another (v. 2). Sometime later, as He sat on the Mount of Olives, perhaps gazing across the valley at the beautiful scene of the city spread out before Him, certain disciples—Mark informs us that it was Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3)—came to Him privately and sought further information (v. 3). They asked, when will these things (the destruction of the Temple) be, and what will be the sign of His coming and the end of the world (v. 3). They evidently thought that all these developments would be concurrent.

    Jesus’ answer is an ingenious mixture of fact and symbol. In the first section of the discourse (Matt. 24:4-31), He gives a straightforward, literal account of events during the time of the end. In the middle section (Matt. 24:37 to 25:30) He presents a series of parables dealing with events attending the rapture of believers during this period, and in the last section (Matt. 25:31-46) He returns to a narrative style, describing an event just after the close of the age: the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats. In response to the disciples’ original questions, He inserts a direct answer between the first and middle sections.

    32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

    33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

    34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

    35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

    36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

    Matthew 24:32-36

    Here, He says four things.

    An event will be signaled as imminent by the budding of the fig tree (v. 32-33).
    A generation shall not pass before all these things are fulfilled (v. 34).
    We can be sure that Jesus will return, as He promised (v. 35).
    But no one can know exactly when Jesus will return (v. 36).

    To make sense of these answers, we must understand that the disciples had, no doubt unwittingly, presented Christ with two distinct questions. The first question was, “When shall these things be?” The disciples meant, “When will the Temple be destroyed?” Their second question was, “What shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world?” “Coming” corresponds to the Greek word parousia (“presence”), a technical term referring to the glorious presence that Jesus will manifest at His coming. In Matthew 24:27, Jesus uses the term with reference to His coming at the end of the Tribulation. In Greek, “end of the world” is sunteleias tou aionos, which means simply “completion of the age.” The disciples wanted to know when Jesus would come and set up His kingdom. The answers to both questions lie hidden in Jesus’ riddling oracle, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled” (vv. 32-34). By “generation,” He evidently meant the generation that starts with the leafing out of the fig tree.
    With reference to the first question, the expression “these things” (v. 34) refers to the destruction of the Temple, an event that the disciples also called “these things” (v. 3), and the fig tree is the actual fig tree that Jesus found and cursed on Monday of Passion Week (Mark 11:11-14, 19-21). The disciples saw this tree putting forth leaves in A.D. 33, and the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, less than a generation later. Jesus’ prediction that the Temple would be destroyed less than a generation after the disciples saw the budding of the fig tree was therefore fulfilled.
    With reference to the second question of the disciples, “these things” (v. 34) are the events He has enumerated in the preceding verses (in vv. 4-31), and the fig tree must be understood figuratively.
    The Fig Tree

    The question of great moment, therefore, is what the fig tree represents. Many commentators throughout church history have agreed that it represents the nation of Israel. In this symbolism Jesus is alluding to a vision of Jeremiah.

    1 The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.

    2 One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.

    3 Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.

    4 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

    5 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.

    6 For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

    7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

    8 And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt:

    9 And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.

    10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.

    Jeremiah 24:1-10

    The prophet saw the people of Israel as two groups of figs, one good, the other bad. The Lord told him that the good figs, representing the godly portion of the nation, would someday be planted like a fig tree, never to be rooted up.

    The same imagery occurs more than once during Jesus’ ministry. For example, He uttered the following parable about a year before His death.

    6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

    7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

    8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

    9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

    Luke 13:6-9

    The standard interpretation is that the owner is the Father, the keeper is Christ, and tree is Israel. If this interpretation is correct, the meaning of the parable is transparent. Jesus’ ministry has gone on for three years without any fruit and the Father is ready to set Israel aside, but the Son pleads for the nation, asking that it be cultivated another year and given another chance.

    But notice Jesus’ view of the fig tree a year later, after the year of prolonged opportunity had passed by.

    11 And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.

    12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

    13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

    14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

    15 And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

    16 And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.

    17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

    18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

    19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

    20 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

    21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

    Mark 11:11-21

    Why did Jesus curse the fig tree—a mere tree whose only fault was that it had not yet borne fruit? The incident is obviously symbolic. The day before the cursing of the tree was Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, when He presented Himself to the people and their leaders as the Messiah, in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9. The response of the nation was divided. Although some individuals accepted Him, the nation as a whole rejected Him. In particular, the elders of the people rejected and severely opposed Him (Matt. 21:15). Therefore, in His justice and holiness, God rejected the Jewish nation. Subsequently, less than forty years later, in A.D. 70, God judged the Jews by destroying their city and scattering them throughout the civilized world.

    Now it should be perfectly clear why Jesus cursed the fig tree on the morning after His triumphal entry. The two incidents are linked together. The cursing of the tree was a picture of the judgment that would soon fall on Israel because Israel had rejected their Messiah.

    Now it should also be perfectly clear what the parable of the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse means. As the disciples were walking into the city on Tuesday morning after Palm Sunday, they noticed that the tree which Jesus had cursed the day before had withered and dried up. Later, on Tuesday evening, when the memory of the withered fig tree was still fresh in their minds, Jesus spoke the parable in question. He said that when the church sees the fig tree leafing out again, it will know that “it is . . . at the doors.” The Greek for “it is” can also be translated “he is.” In prophecy, “door” is often a symbol for the passageway between heaven and earth (Rev. 4:1). What the parable means, therefore, is that when the nation of Israel revives after its coming disintegration and death in A.D. 70, the return of Christ will be imminent.

    Footnotes
    Fred J. Khouri, The Arab-Israeli Dilemma (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1968), 3-4.
    Edwin Hodder, The Life and Work of the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (London: Cassell & Co., 1887), 165-6.
    Ibid., 166.
    Ibid., 167-9.
    Ibid., 328.
    http://www.themoorings.org/pro.....rael1.html

  381. 381
    bornagain77 says:

    BD, I find it funny that your attempt to dodge prophetic significance of the Bible backfired on you, For the prophecy I originally listed for examination,,,

    Restoration Of Israel and Jerusalem In Prophecy (Doing The Math) – Chuck Missler – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/8598581

    ,,, ties in directly to the ‘fig tree’ parable that was just explained more fully for you. Moreover there is ‘background’ information that makes the picture more complete,,,

    Fall Feasts and the Budding of the Fig Tree with Doug Hamp – video
    https://vimeo.com/50687234

    A little more background is here:

    The Prophesied Second Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Yyhb0EH6KaMTeX5bYuLD2fRFgEYJC2RKsjiTcqgEbII

  382. 382
    bornagain77 says:

    BD you state:

    “Adam is still the created and God the creator, so Adam’s—and our—existence is dependent on God. Thus Adam and we are not God’s equal even though He made us in His image and likeness.
    I believe that each of us is a part of Him, created with God-like powers, wisdom, knowledge, and love, but I am also fully aware that I owe these and indeed my very existence to Him. I know that I am utterly dependent upon Him. I would never claim to be His equal, even to myself.”

    OK, yet earlier you stated:

    Your outrage is based on the notion of separation—that there is God, and there are humans, separate beings from Him. However, it is a central tenet of CWG that we are One.

    So which is it?

  383. 383
    Mung says:

    BA77,

    You’re not going to convince someone about the fulfillment of Bible prophecy by pointing out that the prophecies haven’t been fulfilled!

  384. 384
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a defense against those who think all all the prophecy in the Bible has already been fulfilled:

    WHY I AM NOT A PRETERIST
    http://www.angelfire.com/nt/th.....erist.html

  385. 385
    Mung says:

    33 So likewise ye [the disciples to whom he was speaking], when ye [the disciples to whom he was speaking] shall see all these things, know that it [the end of the age, not the end of the world] is near, even at the doors.

    34 Verily I say unto you [the disciples to whom he was speaking], This generation [the generation of those to whom he was speaking, the disciples] shall not pass, till all [all, not some] these things [which included the destruction of Jerusalem] be fulfilled.

    Remember, they were asking about the prophecy of the destruction of the temple. Surely it was included in “all these things.”

  386. 386
    Mung says:

    BA77:

    Here is a defense against those who think all all the prophecy in the Bible has already been fulfilled:

    Partial Preterism maintains a future return of Christ, but views His “coming in the clouds” as described in Matthew 24:29-31 as having been fulfilled in A.D. 70 with the fall of Jerusalem.

    That’s hardly a defense of your view, BA.

    Why would anyone be a “partial” preterist?

  387. 387
    bornagain77 says:

    Mung, when the full context of the parable is laid out, the meaning is clear that he was speaking of the generation who saw the ‘budding of the fig tree’ would be the generation who would not pass til all things are fulfilled. Indeed, The situation in, and around, Israel is just as it was prophesied to be before the quote unquote final battle.

  388. 388
    bornagain77 says:

    Mung I don’t know what you are thinking my views are for I am not a partial preterist as far as I know.

  389. 389
    bornagain77 says:

    Sir Isaac Newton, who is considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientist who has ever lived, was a avid student of Bible prophecy, and held that Israel would return to their homeland centuries before it was remotely feasible for them to do so::

    Israeli library uploads (Sir Isaac) Newton’s theological texts – February 15, 2012
    Excerpt: He’s considered to be one of the greatest scientists of all time.,, However, the curator of Israel’s national library’s humanities collection said Newton was also a devout Christian who dealt far more in theology than he did in physics,, “He (Sir Isaac Newton) took a great interest in the Jews, and we found no negative expressions toward Jews in his writing,” said Levy-Rubin. “He (years before it was remotely feasible) said the Jews would ultimately return to their land.”
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....gical.html

    Sir Isaac Newton’s Prediction For The Return Of Christ (A.D. 2060) – Sid Roth video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041154

  390. 390
    Bruce David says:

    Mung:

    The correct answer is that those things did come to pass within that generation. Jesus was not a false prophet. The thing he said would come tp pass did come to pass, as and when he said they would. So now what is your argument?

    Oh really, Where is your evidence that “the sun [was] darkened, and the moon [did] not give its light, 25 and the stars [fell] from heaven, and the powers in the heavens [were] shaken. 26 And then they [saw] the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he [sent] out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven”?

  391. 391
    Bruce David says:

    BA re 380:

    This is just a long version of what you said in 367. It is equally unconvincing. It turns on your statement, “An event will be signaled as imminent by the budding of the fig tree (v. 32-33)” In Jesus’ own words, that event is simply the arrival of summer. It is a metaphor, nothing more. Your interpretation requires that the words mean something that isn’t in the text, and to me it is an obvious attempt to save the Bible from a charge that is clearly true: Jesus is recorded as having made a failed prophesy.

    Re 382:

    So which is it?

    Both. “One with God” does not mean “equal to God”. It is a way of saying that our consciousness is an individuation of His consciousness, that we participate in His essence, that each of us is a part of Him, that the One looking through our eyes is Him.

    There is no way to get this with your left brain. You have to “grock” it.

  392. 392
    Mung says:

    BA77:

    Mung, when the full context of the parable is laid out, the meaning is clear that he was speaking of the generation who saw the ‘budding of the fig tree’ would be the generation who would not pass til all things are fulfilled.

    It’s a parable. It’s a parable relative to the things he had just told his disciples. And so the “budding” would be seen by them, the same way the signs would be seen by them, and the same way all those things, which includes the destruction of Jerusalem, would take place within their lifetime. Which it did. The prophecy is fulfilled.

    BA77:

    Mung I don’t know what you are thinking my views are for I am not a partial preterist as far as I know.

    That’s my point. You directed people to a preterist site for them to learn why preterism is wrong, lol.

    oops!

    BA77:

    Sir Isaac Newton…

    So? He also believed in the early date for the Apocalypse of John, which you no doubt disagree with.

    Bruce David:

    Oh really, Where is your evidence that “the sun [was] darkened, and the moon [did] not give its light…

    Is wooden literalism your preferred method for interpreting scripture? Let me suggest that you do a study of biblical imagery and types:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/0830814515

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/2173.....al-Imagery

  393. 393
    StephenB says:

    All the prophecies concerning the arrival of the Redeemer and early Jewish history have been fulfilled, but many prophecies about future events are in the process of being fulfilled. They are not unrelated. The Book of Revelation, for example, is framed from a big picture perspective. In it, John describes future events from three perspectives [a] the immediate struggle between Jews and the Rom