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Feet to the fire: A response to Dr. Stacy Trasancos

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Stacy Trasancos, a homeschooling mother of seven with a Ph.D. in chemistry and an M.A. in Dogmatic Theology who is an Adjunct Professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, has penned a thoughtful essay over at the Catholic One Faith blog titled, Does Science Prove God Exists? Her answer, in a nutshell, is that while science can provide inductive support for the existence of a Creator, only theology can provide deductive arguments for God’s existence. In any case, we shouldn’t need to prop up our belief in God with scientific arguments. Dr. Trasancos rejects the view that some scientific conclusions are compatible with God’s existence, while others are not. Christians, she says, should start from the fundamental notion that God made everything, and then proceed to view scientific findings in the light of faith.

There is much wisdom in Dr. Trasancos’s brief but profound essay, which is written in a warm and engaging style. She is surely correct when she contends that science cannot provide us with deductive arguments for the existence of God; the most it can do is provide evidence which is best explained by positing the existence of a Transcendent Intelligence, Who designed the laws that govern our cosmos, so as to make it able to support embodied, intelligent life-forms (e.g. human beings). That’s the conclusion argued for by Dr. Robin Collins in his widely cited essay, The Teleological Argument, which infers God’s existence from the fine-tuning of the cosmos. (Biological versions of the argument from design are far more modest, as Intelligent Design proponent Professor Michael Behe publicly stated as far back as 2001: “Possible candidates for the role of designer include: the God of Christianity; an angel — fallen or not; Plato’s demiurge; some mystical New Age force; space aliens from Alpha Centauri; time travelers; or some utterly unknown intelligent being.”)

Could science falsify belief in God?

She is mistaken, however, when she pooh-poohs the notion that “some scientific conclusions are compatible with the idea that God exists and others are not.” This, I have to say, is nonsense. Suppose that science were to establish that determinism is true. If that were the case, then there can be no freedom and hence no moral agency. As Cambridge philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe put it in her Inaugural Lecture as Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University in 1971, titled Causality and Determination: “My actions are mostly physical movements; if these physical movements are physically predetermined by processes which I do not control, then my freedom is perfectly illusory. The truth of physical indeterminism is then indispensable if we are to make anything of the claim to freedom.” Likewise, there can be no good grounds for belief in God, in a universe where my thoughts are physically determined – for as philosopher Alvin Plantinga has pointed out, what guarantee would there be, in such a universe, that my reasoning on purely metaphysical matters (as opposed to practical problems) could even be trusted? Similarly, there would be no room for God’s existence if science were to establish that we live in an infinite multiverse of the kind postulated by Max Tegmark, where every logical possibility is realized in some universe. On such a scenario, choices could never matter, since whenever I am confronted with a choice to do X or not do X, there will always be a world in which I do it, and another world in which I don’t. Or again, suppose that science were to prove that time travel is possible. Such a discovery would be profoundly atheistic in its implications, as it would violate the notion of causality – and hence, overthrow the notion of a First Cause. Finally, the discovery of a naked singularity would destroy the very notion of causality – and wreak havoc with science itself, as experiments conducted in the vicinity of such a singularity would no longer be replicable.

Science in the light of faith

With regard to Dr. Trasancos’s suggestion that Christians should view scientific findings in the light of faith, I have no quarrel with this way of proceeding. It was St. Anselm of Canterbury, after all, who famously declared, “I believe in order that I may understand,” and in a similar vein, C.S. Lewis wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” What I reject, however, is Dr. Trasancos’s implied assumption that faith should always be a starting point for viewing scientific discoveries. I would maintain that there are some discoveries that boost faith (e.g the discovery that even the multiverse must have had a beginning), just as there are some potential discoveries that would weaken or even destroy it. For my part, I identify more with Peter Abelard, who declared: “I understand in order that I may believe.”

Dr. Trasancos adds: “Seeing science in the light of faith is an all-or-none proposition. Either it all bespeaks the wonder of the Creator, or none of it does.” Yes, but some parts of God’s creation point to God much more clearly than others. A religious person will see God’s glory in the “unimaginable, ineffable order and symmetry” of Nature, which Dr. Trasancos writes about so eloquently – everything “from stars to dandelions down to the smallest particles of matter.” But a hard-nosed atheist will ask why order could not simply be a basic feature of the cosmos. If I were trying to convince an atheist of the existence of a Creator, I would point to something far more convincing, like the ATP synthase enzyme shown in this 86-second Youtube video by creation.com. Any unbiased viewer can see at once that ATP synthase is the product of design:

The inference to design here is obvious. As chemist Jonathan Sarfati explains in another video, entitled Evolution Vs ATP Synthase – Molecular Machine:

You couldn’t have life unless you had this motor to produce the energy currency, so it looks like this motor must have been there right from the beginning, and I’d say that because this motor is so much better, so much tinier and more efficient than anything we can design, … the Designer of the motor is far more intelligent than any motor designer we have today too.

Scientific proofs for God: what one Pope said

I might add that Pope Pius XII was firmly convinced that science could establish the existence of God. Here’s a brief quote from his address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 22, 1951, titled “The Proofs For The Existence Of God In The Light Of Modern Natural Science”.

2. In fact, according to the measure of its progress, and contrary to affirmations advanced in the past, true science discovers God in an ever-increasing degree – as though God were waiting behind every door opened by science.

44. It is undeniable that when a mind enlightened and enriched with modern scientific knowledge weighs this problem calmly, it feels drawn to break through the circle of completely independent or autochthonous matter, whether uncreated or self-created, and to ascend to a creating Spirit. With the same clear and critical look with which it examines and passes judgment on facts, it perceives and recognizes the work of creative omnipotence, whose power, set in motion by the mighty “Fiat” pronounced billions of years ago by the Creating Spirit, spread out over the universe, calling into existence with a gesture of generous love matter busting with energy. In fact, it would seem that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial “Fiat lux” uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of chemical elements split and formed into millions of galaxies…

49. What, then, is the importance of modern science for the argument for the existence of God based on the mutability of the cosmos? By means of exact and detailed research into the macrocosm and the microcosm, it has considerably broadened and deepened the empirical foundation on which this argument rests, and from which it concludes to the existence of an Ens a se, immutable by His very nature.

50. It has, besides, followed the course and the direction of cosmic developments, and, just as it was able to get a glimpse of the term toward which these developments were inexorably leading, so also has it pointed to their beginning in time some five billion years ago. Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, it has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the cosmos came forth from the hands of the Creator.

51. Hence, creation took place in time. Therefore, there is a Creator. Therefore, God exists! Although it is neither explicit nor complete, this is the reply we were awaiting from science, and which the present human generation is awaiting from it…

52. The knowledge of God as sole Creator, now shared by many modern scientists, is indeed, the extreme limit to which human reason can attain. Nevertheless, as you are well aware, it does not constitute the last frontier of truth. In harmonious cooperation, because all three are instruments of truth, like rays of the same sun, science, philosophy, and, with still greater reason, Revelation, contemplate the substance of this Creator whom science has met along its path unveil His outlines and point out His features. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

Dr. Trasancos’s remarks on Intelligent Design are, I have to say, misinformed. She writes: “Others point to ‘Intelligent Design’ where they decide intelligent design must exist and call that proof that an Intelligent Designer must exist, a most circular form of reasoning.” In all my years as an Intelligent Design advocate, I have never met an ID proponent who argued in such a circular fashion. The New World Encyclopedia defines the logic of Intelligent Design clearly and succinctly: “ID may be considered to consist only of the minimal assertion that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent agent.” More specifically: “The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.” (Discovery Institute, FAQs about Intelligent Design.) No circularity there!

Feet to the fire: A thought experiment

Nevertheless, Dr. Trasancos’s objection to the need for Intelligent Design-style arguments needs to be taken seriously. She asks: if theology can provide us with deductive arguments which establish the existence of God with absolute certitude, why should we need scientific arguments to buttress our belief in God, given that the inductive arguments provided by science are of vastly inferior quality to theological arguments? I’d like to answer that question, by inviting my readers to imagine the following hypothetical scenario.

Imagine that the country where you live is taken over by an atheistic madman whose avowed aim is to stamp out religious faith of any kind. The madman issues an order requiring all citizens to publicly profess atheism, or suffer the torture of having their feet held to the fire until they either recant or die. The madman is also very good at spotting liars, and he decrees that anyone he catches lying when they make their profession of atheism will face an even more terrible fate: that of being hung, drawn and quartered, along with all their family members. You, of course, believe in God, and you refuse to accede to the madman’s demand that you publicly professing atheism, so he sentences you to be tortured. As you ponder your impending fate of being slowly roasted to death from the feet upwards, you ask yourself whether your faith in God will be strong enough to survive the ordeal, or whether it will destroy your faith and turn you into an atheist.

On the night before your ordeal by fire, you mentally review the arguments for God’s existence, for it will be these arguments that will support you in your time of trial. During your life, you have met a few people who have had a religious experience, and who claim to have been personally touched by God. Unfortunately, that has never happened to you: although you pray regularly, you have never heard the voice of God answering your prayers, or sensed His indwelling presence. Despite being a Christian, you have never had a personal experience of Divine grace in your entire life: your experience is one of lifelong silence from on high. That doesn’t bother you, as you are quietly confident that you will meet and commune with your Maker in the next world. However, your lack of any religious experience forces you to rely entirely on the arguments put forward for God’s existence. The question you have to ask yourself is: which of these arguments will sustain your faith best, as your feet are being held to the fire?

It might seem that the deductive, metaphysical arguments for God’s existence would offer the surest support for your faith, and that the inductive – or rather, abductive – arguments provided by science offer a very weak support for belief in God. But it occurs to you that even the deductive arguments are not based on indubitable premises – and you are quite sure that you will have doubts aplenty, as the flames lick your feet and you ask yourself: “Do I really want to go through with this?”

The cosmological arguments for God’s existence all assume that whatever exists must have an adequate explanation for its existence – either from within its nature or from something outside it, which maintains it in existence. That sounds reasonable enough – but you realize that the contrary view, that the existence of certain things (e.g. the universe as a whole, or quantum fields) is an inexplicable brute fact (as Bertrand Russell maintained), is not obviously contradictory. Some Scholastic philosophers have argued that explanations resting on an ultimate “brute fact” cannot really explain anything at all, which would imply that scientific explanations are a big charade if the cosmos itself turns out to be a brute fact. Science, in other words, presupposes the Principle of Sufficient Reason. However, being a widely read person, you are also well aware that there are atheistic scientists who argue that the task of science is merely to systematize our observations by accounting for them in the simplest possible manner, and that the universe itself requires no external explanation: it exists, and that’s all one can say. Of course, you know that there are excellent grounds for believing the universe to be contingent: it appears to be composite, and nothing about it appears to be necessary: it doesn’t have to be the way it is. But a nagging voice in your head asks: “Can I even prove that the notion of a Necessary Being makes sense? And exactly what kind of necessity are we attributing to God, anyway?” (You know perfectly well that even theistic philosophers differ in their accounts of Divine necessity: some maintain that God’s existence is logically necessary, others define God as a self-explanatory Being, while yet others propose a more modest definition: God is the kind of Being Which, if He exists, requires nothing outside Himself in order to exist – which would make God independent, but leave His existence a profound mystery.) You wonder whether the cosmological argument alone will be enough to sustain your faith in God, as the flames lick your feet, and you soberly conclude: probably it won’t.

Other doubts trouble you, too. Even if you could be 100% sure of the existence of an Uncaused Cause which is necessary and which doesn’t require anything outside itself to actualize its capacities, it is another thing altogether to claim that this cause is an intelligent personal Agent. Many philosophers have argued that the tendencies of various kinds of things – be they fields, particles, chemical substances or organisms – to act in a regular, lawlike fashion indicates that their behavior is somehow goal-directed, and that the notion of goal-directed behavior makes no sense unless there is an Intelligence which governs all things and directs them towards their built-in ends. (This is the conclusion of Aquinas’s Fifth Way.) You find these arguments very reasonable, because they help you make sense of the order you find in Nature: indeed, it would be difficult for you to account for the laws of Nature in any other fashion. However, you’re also aware that some Thomist philosophers find Aquinas’s Fifth Way less than convincing, and you also have problems with some contemporary defenses of the Fifth Way, which you have read. You are not unduly perturbed by these difficulties; indeed, you think the Fifth Way can be successfully revamped in a way that surmounts them. But in the end, you realize that the whole force of the argument depends on a particular way of looking at the world, and you wonder whether you will be able to keep looking at the world in that way, as your feet are held to the fire. You realize that you will need something more to sustain you.

Your anxieties increase when you consider the sloppy arguments put forward by philosophers to establish God’s infinitude – a particularly vital Divine attribute, as a finite being would not be worthy of worship. The Scholastic axiom that act can only be limited by potency (which would entail that a Being Who is Pure Act must perforce be infinite) has always struck you as doubtful, as some actual properties (e.g. triangularity) seem to be limited by their very definition. Neither are you impressed by the argument that a Being Who is Pure Act must contain all perfections, for although it is obvious that such a Being can contain no imperfections, it doesn’t follow that it must contain all perfections within its nature. Of course, you recognize that a Necessary Being cannot be composed of parts; hence its essence must be identical with its act of existence. However, the inference that God, being Pure Existence, must contain (at least virtually) all possible perfections strikes you as logically flawed. For it is one thing to say that God is identical with His own act of existence; quite another to equate Him with “Pure Existence” – whatever that phrase means.

Most doubtful of all are the metaphysical arguments put forward by theists, in order to establish God’s goodness. The argument that a Being Who is Pure Act must be perfectly good, because it is Being Itself, leaves you cold. The vital question, as far as you are concerned, is not whether God is “good” in the sense of being perfect, but whether He is “good” in the sense of being all-loving – and more particularly, whether such an all-loving Being loves you personally, as an individual. For a Being Who did not love you personally would not be worth dying for.

Weighing up these deductive arguments, you feel dissatisfied, and sense that you will need something more to get you through the fearful ordeal that awaits you. At this low point in your theological reflections, science comes to the rescue. You recall that there are other, independent arguments for the existence of God which do not rely on metaphysics, but are empirically based. These scientific arguments do not pretend to establish the existence of the God of classical theism, for they do not go that far; nor do they offer the certitude provided by a deductive argument, for their logic is abductive, proceeding by way of inference to the best explanation. Despite these deficiencies, however, you find that the arguments fortify the thin metaphysical arguments of Scholastic theology. Where the metaphysical arguments are weak, the scientific arguments are strong, and vice versa. The metaphysical arguments are more rigorous, but you find yourself wondering if the philosophical axioms which they rest on are really true. They are rational, but by no means indubitable. The scientific arguments, on the other hand, strike you as far more accessible and less open to doubt, precisely because they are purely empirical in nature. While they are not as certain as the rigorous metaphysical arguments for an Uncaused Cause and a Necessary Being, you find that they are more convincing, because accepting the truth of their premises requires no metaphysical commitments on your part: the science speaks for itself. You realize, of course, that these scientific arguments might turn out to be wrong: perhaps the apparent fine-tuning of the cosmos is merely a reflection of our current scientific ignorance, and physicists of the 22nd century will laugh it off. But you live in the 21st century, and based on what you currently know, it seems pretty likely to you that the universe (and for that matter, the multiverse) is fine-tuned to support life, and that the fine-tuning was intended as a signal by the Creator to His intelligent creatures, to make us aware of His existence. You also review the biological arguments for Intelligent Design – especially those based on protein folds and the astronomical improbability of even a simple life-form – a replication and translation system – arising through undirected processes. Some scientists have proposed the existence of an infinite multiverse to get round those difficulties, but you realize that this proposal won’t work either. While the biological arguments for Intelligent Design don’t establish the existence of a Cosmic Creator, they do point to the existence of a being capable of creating digital codes in the DNA of organisms. A being capable of creating a code would presumably also be capable of using language. That points to the existence of a Creator Who can talk to us, if He wishes to.

The argument from miracles also impresses you. There have been many miracles recorded throughout history, but perhaps the most carefully documented one, which leaves very little room for doubt, relates to the levitations of St. Joseph of Cupertino (for more details, see this article here and see my posts here and here). An article written by a modern biographer, Michael Grosso, summarizes the evidence for St. Joseph’s levitations as follows:

The records show at least 150 sworn depositions of witnesses of high credentials: cardinals, bishops, surgeons, craftsmen, princes and princesses who personally lived by his word, popes, inquisitors, and countless variety of ordinary citizens and pilgrims. There are letters, diaries and biographies written by his superiors while living with him. Arcangelo di Rosmi recorded 70 incidents of levitation; and then decided it was enough…

…[T]he Church progressively tried to make him retreat to the most obscure corners of the Adriatic coast, ending finally under virtual house arrest in a small monastic community at Osimo. There was no decline effect in Joseph’s strange aerial behaviors; during his last six years in Osimo he was left alone to plunge into his interior life; the records are unanimous in saying that the ratti (raptures) were in abundance right up until his dying days. The cleric in charge of the community swore that he witnessed Joseph levitate to the ceiling of his cell thousands of times.

What impresses you about this evidence is that like the scientific arguments pointing to God’s existence, it is purely empirical: the evidence speaks for itself. To repudiate the evidence for St. Joseph’s levitations, one would have to assume colossal mendacity and/or unbelievable stupidity on the part of thousands of people who witnessed these levitations. While the evidence does not establish the existence of the God of classical theism, it is worth noting that what typically prompted St. Joseph’s levitations was hearing the name of Jesus, of the Virgin Mary, or of a saint: this was enough to make him go into an ecstasy and remain floating in the air for several hours. Evidence like this not only points to the existence of God, but of a highly personal God, Who cares about individuals like you.

A final fact which impresses you very greatly is the existence of subjective self-awareness. Although you are not given to religious experiences, you recall that yesterday, you walked down the street in the afternoon sunshine, and marveled at the beauty of it all – and at the fact that you were able to enjoy that beauty. Viewed from a purely naturalistic perspective, the existence of any consciousness, anywhere in the world (let alone the self-consciousness which you enjoy) is a surprising fact – one which we have no reason to expect. A “survival machine” doesn’t need to be conscious: it just needs to make the right moves. From a theistic perspective, on the other hand, the existence of consciousness makes perfect sense: one would expect a personal Creator to make beings who were capable of knowing and loving their Creator (as well as each other), if He were going to make a world at all.

Pondering these facts, you realize that you will have something to sustain you through your ordeal by fire, after all. You know that in your last moments on this earth, you will die screaming in agony – but because your faith in God is buttressed on many levels, the agony you endure will not destroy your conviction that the world has a Creator. And science will have helped, in no small way, to reinforce that conviction.

A closing thought from St. Thomas Aquinas

I’d like to close with a quote from St. Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic theologian whom I know Dr. Trasancos respects greatly. In his Summa Contra Gentiles Book III, chapter 99, paragraph 9 (That God Can Work Apart From The Order Implanted In Things, By Producing Effects Without Proximate Causes), Aquinas writes:

[D]ivine power can sometimes produce an effect, without prejudice to its providence, apart from the order implanted in natural things by God. In fact, He does this at times to manifest His power. For it can be manifested in no better way, that the whole of nature is subject to the divine will, than by the fact that sometimes He does something outside the order of nature. Indeed, this makes it evident that the order of things has proceeded from Him, not by natural necessity, but by free will.

Here, Aquinas says that God’s power and voluntary agency “can be manifested in no better way … than by the fact that He sometimes does something outside the order of nature.” I conclude that not all manifestations of God’s power are equally effective in manifesting the fact of His existence, and that certain kinds of evidence much stronger than others. Stars and dandelions are all very well and good, but I’m sure that St. Thomas Aquinas, were he alive today, would have had no qualms whatsoever about appealing to the best kind of we have empirical evidence from the natural world – molecules that require a Designer and miracles that manifest the existence of a supernatural Creator – in order to convince skeptics of God’s existence.

What do readers think?

103 Replies to “Feet to the fire: A response to Dr. Stacy Trasancos

  1. 1
    J-Mac says:

    VJT,

    Science has provided us with some clues.

    1.Since the universe had a cause and began highly organized according to the II LOTD, the conclusion must be only one;
    There had to have been an uncaused cause and it had to have been intelligent to organize the universe in the beginning of it.
    2. Since the expansion of the universe is accelerating, there has to be a source of power/energy out side of the universe to do that. What else can it be?

  2. 2
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    Real life martyrdom:

    Julia, it will be OK, Jesus and his angels will be here shortly. God will give you supernatural grace. Do you see him? There…Jesus in the white robe, holding out his arms to you?! We must forgive the bad men; they don’t understand what they are doing. I’ve prayed for you since before you were born, and Jesus and I are both here with you now at the end, but not really the end. Remember what God says, “Do not fear, for I am with you….” Do you remember that song? Let’s sing it!

  3. 3
    Me_Think says:

    What impresses you about this evidence is that like the scientific arguments pointing to God’s existence, it is purely empirical: the evidence speaks for itself.

    Fine tuning and levitation is not empirical and doesn’t support God’s existence.
    If someone needs to use 10^62 times (4x 10^83)/(1.08x 10^21)= observable univ Vol./Earth Vol) the volume of Earth to fine tune it, He can’t be all that powerful.
    Mass of Earth hardly affects the space-time curvature, thus Stress Energy tensor can’t be changed to affect gravitation of a small local area. Of course, over 40 Tesla magnetic force can be used to levitate a person by diamagnetism, but that would lift insects frogs and bits of plants and rocks close to the person who is levitating.
    Levitation can only be an illusion or false reporting.

  4. 4
    GaryGaulin says:

    Now we are philosophizing the existence of an “Uncaused Cause”?
    What!!!!!!!!!!!!!?

    Why not throw in an oxymoron like “Unintelligent Intelligence”? That sure explains nothing too.

    And after all the discussion on how levitation is still today regularly performed by magicians we are again back to old magic tricks being treated like scientific evidence?

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-598134

    This forum is getting way too weird, for even me. But at least I tried to have a scientific discussion here.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    GG, please examine possible vs impossible candidate beings and of possible beings, contingent vs necessary beings. Of the issue of causes clarify sufficient clusters of causal factors and necessary causal factors (perhaps starting with a match struck to form a fire). An uncaused cause would be a necessary being, one that is so integrated with the framework for a world to exist that no world can exist if such is not present. As a simple example of a NB, two-ness is such a necessary factor for a world to exist, tied to things like distinct identity etc. Try to imagine a world where 2-ness begins to exist or ceases from existing or constraining the existence of distinct beings . . . abstract and/or concrete. You will see this always was and cannot not be. God as understood in ethical theism is such a necessary being. KF

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT,

    I see:

    there can be no good grounds for belief in God, in a universe where my thoughts are physically determined – for as philosopher Alvin Plantinga has pointed out, what guarantee would there be, in such a universe, that my reasoning on purely metaphysical matters (as opposed to practical problems) could even be trusted?

    Were our thoughts (as experienced) physically/ chemically determined, responsible freedom and rationality would collapse. Haldane’s point obtains, and is worth citing:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [[“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]

    KF

    PS: It is sad to see how decayed general education systems have become, such that there is for cause a widespread home schooling movement as parents take back up primary responsibility for their children.

  7. 7
    RexTugwell says:

    With all due respect, the fact that this is apparently the first time GaryGaulin has heard the term “uncaused cause” shows just how clueless, one-dimensional and unread he really is. If the wierdness here is too much for him then I say Adios!

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    GG, BTW, I am an eyewitness (among a significant number of others) to levitation that most definitely was no magic trick. And in fact the positive miracle there was in suppressing then getting rid of it and what went with it. That is, it was a manifestation of evil being exorcised. Do not presume to dismiss as prestidigitation sans evidence; nor should a supernatural event fool us into automatically presuming a good source. Judge the tree by its fruit and the orchard in which it grows. KF

    PS: Copperfield’s tricks:

    http://www.secrets-explained.c.....levitation

    >>John Gaughan, the creator of this amazing illusion, has revealed the method behind it. According to him, Copperfield is suported by wires. This wires are less than 1mm thick and therefore invisible to the audience. However, they can support 100kg each. They are mounted to a harness at Copperfield’s hips. The harness is of course covered by the clothing.
    Above the stage, the wires are attached to a computer-controlled rig that mantains the tension of each wire and moves the performer around.

  9. 9
    hrun0815 says:

    GG, BTW, I am an eyewitness (among a significant number of others) to levitation that most definitely was no magic trick.

    Ah. That settles it then.

    And I wonder why we didn’t think of this earlier: We should just look for eyewitnesses like KF.

    Now we know that the witnesses are not delusional, because KF is of such sound character.

    Now we know that the eyewitness wasn’t duped, because KF assures us it wasn’t a trick.

    We only are left to wonder why god would suspend the physical laws of gravity and the conversation of momentum (and probably a whole bunch of other ones) just to make a person float. But if I may venture a guess, it probably has something to do with KF. Maybe god needed to send KF an important, yet cryptic, message.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, your ad hom approach tells us volumes. Perhaps you should invert the approach and ask yourself what your dismissiveness and ad homs tell us about how you address epistemic issues and evidence; and about their likelihood of hitting actual empirically grounded truth. KF

    PS: On recent matters, cf here on number systems: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....all-ht-ds/

    PPS: I add, on selective hyperskepticism:

    http://www.angelfire.com/pro/k.....tm#shsdefn

    and on the key case:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....t-mindset/

    (The Ascension would be a case in point of the God who sustains the cosmic order acting beyond that order for good reasons of his own; which cuts across common presumptions that laws of nature are universally binding — a metaphysical assumption that cannot be inductively supported, in fact a dominant or typical pattern often has rare counter instances. And inserting this preconception to dismiss evidence is a case of a heavy lifter assumption open to the challenge of circularity . . . multiple eyewitness testimony and good record of such rapidly trumps possibilities of error as Babbage showed in the 9th Bridgewater Treatise on basic probability. Likewise, the Resurrection and beyond that the widely known miracles Jesus wrought, which objectors thought to ascribe to magic.)

  11. 11
    hrun0815 says:

    KF, this is yet again no ad hominem attack. I am not dismissing your argument because of your character. I am impugning your character because of your argument.

    And the charge of hyper skepticism coming from the anti-ID crowd on UD is so absurd that it borders on comical. If I remember correctly, it is UD where people commonly suggest that all scientists and universities are involved in a massive delusional deception to prop up evolution.

    Your projection is duly noted and speaks volumes to you and your character.

    Peace.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, you were not there, I was . . . along with about fifty others in a well lighted hall. No there was no harness and there were no wires etc. Nor was this a desired or admired phenomenon, it was part of a spiritual problem that required significant prayer and counselling to eliminate. The godly miracle was the deliverance from this and other linked issues; that is why I commented as I did above. But then I simply note for record so that we can understand how the hyperskepticism tactic plays out, now reaching to turnabout rhetoric. KF

    PS: All scientists smacks of no true scotsman, esp where many design thinkers and advocates including contributors at this site accept limited or universal common descent. Evolution rapidly becomes a slippery term that carries a range of meanings that too easily glide into one another. The key issue on design thought is that functionally specific complex organisation and associated info has one known observed source, design. Life is full of it and so is the cosmological order. Per empirical and analytical bases, we are entitled to infer design. And, FSCO/I in OOL and origin of body plans have not been empirically warranted as coming about by blind watchmaker chance and necessity. Such is imposed per methodological naturalism, as Lewontin admitted.

  13. 13
    hrun0815 says:

    HRUN, you were not there, I was . . . along with about fifty others in a well lighted hall. No there was no harness and there were no wires etc. Nor was this a desired or admired phenomenon, it was part of a spiritual problem that required significant prayer and counselling to eliminate. The godly miracle was the deliverance from this and other linked issues; that is why I commented as I did above. But then I simply note for record so that we can understand how the hyperskepticism tactic plays out, now reaching to turnabout rhetoric. KF

    Yup, that’s why I was suggesting we should have just thought about questioning reliable eyewitnesses like you.

    PS: All scientists smacks of no true scotsman [… more word salad]

    No idea what you are on about. But I’m sure it has to do with my limited intellect or hyperskepticism.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN,

    you have further inadvertently demonstrated my point; the fifty people there are not the ones on trial, your selectively hyperskepticaldismissiveness in absence of knowing anything about the matter is.

    On a more relevant matter, let’s look at the evolutionary materialist epistemological stance and why it leaves those who take it up without a leg to stand on, courtesy Nancy Pearcey:

    A major way to test a philosophy or worldview is to ask: Is it logically consistent? Internal contradictions are fatal to any worldview because contradictory statements are necessarily false. “This circle is square” is contradictory, so it has to be false. An especially damaging form of contradiction is self-referential absurdity — which means a theory sets up a definition of truth that it itself fails to meet. Therefore it refutes itself . . . . An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

    But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth — which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

    Astonishingly, many prominent thinkers have embraced the theory without detecting the logical contradiction. Philosopher John Gray writes, “If Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true,… the human mind serves evolutionary success, not truth.” What is the contradiction in that statement?

    Gray has essentially said, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it “serves evolutionary success, not truth.” In other words, if Darwin’s theory is true, then it is not true.

    Self-referential absurdity is akin to the well-known liar’s paradox: “This statement is a lie.” If the statement is true, then (as it says) it is not true, but a lie.

    Another example comes from Francis Crick. In The Astonishing Hypothesis, he writes, “Our highly developed brains, after all, were not evolved under the pressure of discovering scientific truths but only to enable us to be clever enough to survive.” But that means Crick’s own theory is not a “scientific truth.” Applied to itself, the theory commits suicide.

    Of course, the sheer pressure to survive is likely to produce some correct ideas. A zebra that thinks lions are friendly will not live long. But false ideas may be useful for survival. Evolutionists admit as much: Eric Baum says, “Sometimes you are more likely to survive and propagate if you believe a falsehood than if you believe the truth.” Steven Pinker writes, “Our brains were shaped for fitness, not for truth. Sometimes the truth is adaptive, but sometimes it is not.” The upshot is that survival is no guarantee of truth. If survival is the only standard, we can never know which ideas are true and which are adaptive but false.

    To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion — and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

    [–> that is, responsible, rational freedom is undermined. Cf here William Provine in his 1998 U Tenn Darwin Day keynote:

    Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . .

    The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will [–> without responsible freedom, mind, reason and morality alike disintegrate into grand delusion, hence self-referential incoherence and self-refutation. But that does not make such fallacies any less effective in the hands of clever manipulators] . . . [1998 Darwin Day Keynote Address, U of Tenn — and yes, that is significant i/l/o the Scopes Trial, 1925]

    So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself.

    A few thinkers, to their credit, recognize the problem. Literary critic Leon Wieseltier writes, “If reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? … Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.”

    On a similar note, philosopher Thomas Nagel asks, “Is the [evolutionary] hypothesis really compatible with the continued confidence in reason as a source of knowledge?” His answer is no: “I have to be able to believe … that I follow the rules of logic because they are correct — not merely because I am biologically programmed to do so.” Hence, “insofar as the evolutionary hypothesis itself depends on reason, it would be self-undermining.” [ENV excerpt, Finding Truth (David C. Cook, 2015) by Nancy Pearcey.]

    KF

    PS: It seems you have soon forgotten your remark in 11 above:

    >>the charge of hyper skepticism coming from the anti-ID crowd on UD is so absurd that it borders on comical. If I remember correctly, it is UD where people commonly suggest that all scientists and universities are involved in a massive delusional deception to prop up evolution. >>

    You have here set up and tried to knock over an ad hom laced strawman, then dismissed corrective remarks as “word salad.”

    The selectively hyperskeptical, dismissive pattern is becoming quite clear.

  15. 15
    John S says:

    I don’t think you can improve on this as a starting point:
     
    For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
    – Apostle Peter

    It is a spiritual battle for the minds of human beings, no a scientific one. People deliberately overlook facts, you cannot convince someone of a fact if they continue to avoid it on purpose. I am not saying that apologetics via science or philosophy are not useful in engaging the mind, only that they fall far short of the power of God. Use them, but if you don’t get to the power of God you may win a person to the possibility of a designer or even a god, but they will never know God. In fact they will remain his enemy by virtue of rejecting what He did to His only Son on their behalf.

    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written,
    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the
    discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

    Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    – Apostle Paul

  16. 16
    hrun0815 says:

    you have further inadvertently demonstrated my point; the fifty people there are not the ones on trial, your selectively hyperskepticaldismissiveness in absence of knowing anything about the matter is.

    It looks like you have a great handle on the point. I am not dismissing the fifty people or putting them on trial.

    I am saying that people are stupid because they do not simply look for eyewitnesses such as you in order to prove the veracity of reported miracles.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, when you are in a hole and hope to get out it is wise to stop digging in deeper. KF

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, sadly, you seem to be right. KF

  19. 19
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    “Ah. That settles it then.” – hrun0815

    It ought to, if the eyewitness claims are verified.

    Instead there is an embrace of Scientism, which I define as the mode of thought that gives primacy to actual, eyewitness observation and testimony, except when it doesn’t. When devotees of Scientism (such as hrun0815, apparently?) hear unambiguous eyewitness testimony from someone who is obviously not insane, and who shows every indication of being a reliable truth-teller and not given to making stuff up, but whose testimony inconveniently goes against a cherished belief, the eyewitness evidence is dismissed and ridiculed.

    Like those who heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, but had personal and political reasons to deny that report, they let a lie be told to explain it away.

    I watched “Beyond Anne Frank” yesterday on TV, and did some reading afterwards. It’s amazing that even today there are people who call the whole story of Anne Frank, and her diary, a lie and a forgery, despite the accumulated testimony of eyewitnesses including the Nazi officer who discovered the hiding place and arrested the Frank family and their Dutch protectors.

    Critical thinking by itself creates a huge bias and a grave blindness. Healthy and joyful believing of credible eyewitness testimony is just as important as, if not more important than, critical thinking in the pursuit of truth.

    KF and BA know this, and it shows.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO, In fact, I spoke with the focal person just last week and was in the same hall just yesterday — my mother in law and her parents are buried around the back. The roof, is “cathedral” . . . so there is nothing to hide an apparatus of support (which was not there), as though XX et al would even for a moment consider such trickery. And the beyond natural incident was a manifestation of what XX et al were there to liberate the victim from. That’s the part that really cracks me up, then I remember, oops, it is not so funny after all to see the sort of reaction. KF

  21. 21
    Origenes says:

    Many people report miracles. That may not suffice to settle the matter, but should be enough to instill reasonable doubt.

  22. 22
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    My brother-in-law, a minister and missionary who spent 8 years in Gabon, encountered the supernatural (both sides) and has told me stories he and his family and co-workers witnessed with their own eyes and ears. Such eyewitness accounts are inexplicable apart from acknowledging the reality of the supernatural. I believe you.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO, it was one thing to believe reports from responsible witnesses over the years. It was another entirely — very sobering, it was — to see patently evil power in action. But, heartening to see thus far and no further and expulsion through That Name. KF

  24. 24
    GaryGaulin says:

    KF recalls:

    HRUN, you were not there, I was . . . along with about fifty others in a well lighted hall.

    Can you provide the who, what, when, where, how and why of the story? What hall? Who performed this?

  25. 25
    Me_Think says:

    KF,

    That is, it was a manifestation of evil being exorcised

    Do you realize that you are not only endorsing levitation but exorcism too ? If you believe in levitation, do you believe in flying witches too ?
    It is OK for Dr.VJT to believe in such things because he is a philosopher and he makes a living out of philosophizing, but I don’t expect you to promote unscientific thoughts.

  26. 26
    GaryGaulin says:

    Me_Think, at this point in time I have to sum up the situation by saying:
    Almost anything that can be dreamed-up now has an associated philosophy to go with it. Therefore students who were taught that the “philosophy of science” means that science is based on philosophy are through life easily misled into believing that the religious philosophizing found at UD and elsewhere is a part of how science works, its “method”.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    MT,

    Pardon but I have never heard of a flying witch outside of entertainment literature such as Quidditch [sp?] in Rowling and in children’s literature more widely. (Halloween is not a native part of Caribbean culture.)

    I do know of an Ascension of The Holy and Risen One [with 500 un-breakable witnesses who stood in the face of a demonically mad perverted tyrant such as Nero and could not be moved by the fearsome teeth and claws of dungeon, fire, sword or — as Suetonius records in Lives of the Twelve Caesars — worse, much worse . . . ]. And, at least one apparent instant translocation [of an Evangelist]. These, in a work by one of the great classical historians — noted for habitual detailed accuracy; viz. Luke in Ac chs 1 and 8. You may not wish to credit him, but I find on what I have seen and have from reasonable witnesses and record, every reason to believe his reports.

    From VJT et al, I have found interesting record of not only the floating friar but padre Pio including during WW 2 . . . and remember I am a convinced Protestant, here respecting the spirituality present on the other side of a major division.

    As for exorcism and the demonic, there are unpleasant realities beyond the usual course of the world we study in the sciences that our civilisation often does not wish to accept as part of its mental furniture. That does not one whit change what is experienced by many competent people on a sadly almost routine basis. Nor, what comes to us in scripture and historical as well as eyewitness reports down to today. Our greatest poet put the matter thusly:

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
    – Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

    Such, we would do well to ponder, given the testimony of the White Rose Martyrs and William Shirer alike regarding Herr Schicklegruber. We can freely add, Messrs Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Idi, and a longer, horrifically longer, further list who echo Nero all too well.

    Which, does not ground silly superstition and childish demonologies of an active devil under every bed.

    But, I find surprisingly sobering metaphorical insight in the cartoon image of a red suit and a white suit on either shoulder, whispering.

    A protest hymn written against the war with Mexico speaks to me in this regard, from 1845:

    Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
    In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
    Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
    And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

    Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
    Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
    Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
    Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

    By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
    Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
    New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
    They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

    Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
    Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
    Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
    Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.

    We would do well to heed that voice from the past, delivered with passionate poetry that speaks with flaming insight and deep, insightful genuinely patriotic concern.

    KF

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    GG, with all due respect you need to look at the issue of critically aware grounding of views, ways and means starting with logic and epistemology informed by ethics [three of the half dozen or so main branches of philosophy, the root academic/ intellectual discipline you would despise]. You seem to be caught up in a dismissive scientism that refuses to answer to meta issues . . . leading you to being perilously close to what Solomon warns against, despising insight, knowledge and instruction. In the course of this discussion, it is plain that religion etc have become loaded terms of contemptuous rhetorical dismissal. You therefore need to understand, first, that evolutionary materialist scientism — as was already highlighted from Pearcey (cf. 14 above) — is hopelessly starry eyed and blind to its self referential incoherence and self-falsification. Last, you seem to be bent on continuing to misrepresent this blog and its contributors despite repeated correction. So, I now warn you on duty of care to my fellow soul in a world of the test of life, that there is a well known vice that bears this definition: to speak with disregard to truth, in the hope of profiting by what is said or suggested being taken as true. KF

    PS: Despite the sort of schoolbook summary often taught without adequate caveats and qualifications, there is no simplistic, one size fits all and only scientific endeavors thus granting the sciences and only the sciences (so also the New Magisterium) privileged access to truth. There are only methods of inquiry bearing various degrees of family resemblance that are shared across many serious disciplines. Such methods are humblingly prone to stumbling, as we are inherently finite, fallible, morally struggling and too often willfully blind and ill-intentioned.

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Ari put truth thusly: to say of what is, that it is; and of what is not, that it is not . . .

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    GG, obviously I could answer who, what, where, when, why, how and aftermath with onward developments down to this very week involving dozens of people of my acquaintance. But I cannot responsibly do so out of respect, confidentiality of the innocent and concern, especially in a public forum subject to hostile scrutiny and in a context where some of such have already given signs of hate-driven unhinged on the ground stalking even of people several degrees removed from me. (Surely, you know or could easily know that.) Further, if what is already on the table or is available with modest effort is not enough, I have no reason to believe that any reasonable quantum of details or evidence will suffice to move determined objectors. I have given what is quite sufficient to add to a cloud of witnesses and that which is enough to open up the test for each of us. Once to every man and nation . . . KF

  31. 31
    hrun0815 says:

    Threads such as this one are a fabulous manifestation of just how serious and scientific ID is. The only threads more illustrative are the YEC posts or anything by PAV.

  32. 32
    Roy says:

    When devotees of Scientism (such as hrun0815, apparently?) hear unambiguous eyewitness testimony from someone who is obviously not insane, and who shows every indication of being a reliable truth-teller and not given to making stuff up, …

    This is the same guy whose propagates creationist misquotes.

  33. 33
    daveS says:

    Sane, generally reliable people make mistakes all the time without realizing it. Even the most careful observer can be a poor eyewitness at times. I have disbelieved a number of things that were told to me by people I have known for decades and consider quite trustworthy.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, you were not there; those of us who were know what we saw with normally functioning eyes under circumstances conducive to accurate vision in a hall lighted with typical 4 ft Fluorescent 40 W tubes for reading text. While I could not use a tape measure, I saw and made by-eye estimates that are good enough to make the point. Where, no extraordinary visual performance is required to see a floor and a gap between a floor and an object above it, here with head lolling back and arms hanging limply. The circumstances also indicated a dead faint, consistent with a conversation long after the fact. KF

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN (attn Roy), the OP and thread of discussion on the contrary to your insinuations, inadvertently reveal that no reasonable degree of evidence, observation or report with analysis will move the determined objector locked into a system that a priori rules out what is reported or produced by analysis. The root problem is not science but philosophy. KF

  36. 36
    jerry says:

    Sane, generally reliable people make mistakes all the time without realizing it. Even the most careful observer can be a poor eyewitness at times. I have disbelieved a number of things that were told to me by people I have known for decades and consider quite trustworthy.

    Yes, I onced believed that Darwinian evolution was true. The number of people who could be call sane, reliable and trustworthy who have said this was true and obvious are in the tens of millions. And all turned out to be poor eyewitnesses of reality.

  37. 37
    StephenB says:

    VJ. Thanks for an interesting thought experiment. As usual, you cover a lot of ground and bring many critical issues into focus. I do have two areas of concern:

    You write,

    A Self-Moved First Mover – or more precisely, a Self-Actualizing First Actualizer -could still be (timelessly) actualized by the creatures it maintains in existence, if it chose to endow creatures with the power to actualize their Creator.

    Wouldn’t the Creator have to maintain the creature’s power to actualize, just as He maintains the creatures power to exist? Wouldn’t that mean that the creature is totally dependent on the Creator for that same power? Under the circumstances, it would seem that the creature is not really the cause of the actualizing. Yes, humans have free will to interact with God, but that does not give them Divine power.

    Accordingly, it seems impossible that an eternal and all powerful Creator could endow a creature with the power to actualize God. Could the infinite Creator endow a finite creature with the power to maintain His omnipotence or omniscience? If not, then why would the power to actualize be any different? The creature, by definition, began to exist in time and cannot, therefore, do anything outside of time.

    Feser evidently thinks that it would be contrary to God’s sovereignty for Him to need to be informed by His own creatures of their activities; whereas I would argue that if God has freely chosen to give creatures the power to inform Him of their activities in this way, then there is no loss of sovereignty on God’s part.

    This would seem to present a problem. If God needs to be informed by His creatures about their thoughts and activities, it is hard to understand how He can, at the same time, be omniscient. Indeed, if God doesn’t know what humans will think before they think it, or what they will do before they do it, how could there be such a thing as Biblical prophecy, which would require something much more–the ability to know the effects of every thought and every action of every human being who ever lived. Without that power, how could Christ know that Judas was going to betray him? How could God know that Christ would be born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, on the appointed day?

    I would argue that God’s knowledge of a future event is independent of any decision to make that event happen. Just because God knows the stock market will crash doesn’t mean that He caused it.

  38. 38
    GaryGaulin says:

    GG, obviously I could answer who, what, where, when, why, how and aftermath with onward developments down to this very week involving dozens of people of my acquaintance. But I cannot responsibly do so out of respect, confidentiality of the innocent and concern, especially in a public forum subject to hostile scrutiny and in a context where some of such have already given signs of hate-driven unhinged on the ground stalking even of people several degrees removed from me.

    Yes KF, these days there is a large amount of this sort of thing in the news:

    Woman pleads guilty in exorcism murders of 2 kids:
    http://legacy.wusa9.com/story/...../21860609/

    Bob Larson EXPOSED on Anderson Cooper Show:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr-4FAi_vZU

  39. 39
    Algorithm Eh says:

    Kairosfocus: HRUN (attn Roy), the OP and thread of discussion on the contrary to your insinuations, inadvertently reveal that no reasonable degree of evidence, observation or report with analysis will move the determined objector locked into a system that a priori rules out what is reported or produced by analysis. The root problem is not science but philosophy. KF

    With respect, I don’t think that this is necessarily true. What I think Hrun and DS are saying, one more tactfully than the other, is that people are going to be far more skeptical of eye witness accounts of things that defy logic and physics than they will of things that can be clearly explained.

    I must admit that I am highly skeptical of your levitation example. Not because I think that you are lying, but simply because people can be easily deceived, especially when what they think they are seeing is consistent with their beliefs. As a very devout Christian you are going to be more easily convinced of the levitation that you describe than you will of the thousands of eye witness accounts of UFO sightings, and the hundreds of accounts of UFO abductions.

  40. 40
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, you were not there; those of us who were know what we saw with normally functioning eyes under circumstances conducive to accurate vision in a hall lighted with typical 4 ft Fluorescent 40 W tubes for reading text. While I could not use a tape measure, I saw and made by-eye estimates that are good enough to make the point. Where, no extraordinary visual performance is required to see a floor and a gap between a floor and an object above it, here with head lolling back and arms hanging limply. The circumstances also indicated a dead faint, consistent with a conversation long after the fact. KF

    Well, wouldn’t most eyewitnesses to such alleged events be able to say roughly the same? And yet they make mistakes all the time. Eyewitness testimony is notoriously unreliable.

    As I said, people close to me have related stories much more dramatic than yours to me (objects flying around a house, television sets being taken over by demons, etc.). And one of these people is now my wife! Her story was second-hand, but both she and the first-hand witness are completely sane and normal.

  41. 41
    rhampton7 says:

    I agree with StephenB, re: #37

  42. 42
    vjtorley says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Thank you for your post. You ask:

    If God needs to be informed by His creatures about their thoughts and activities, it is hard to understand how He can, at the same time, be omniscient. Indeed, if God doesn’t know what humans will think before they think it, or what they will do before they do it, how could there be such a thing as Biblical prophecy, which would require something much more–the ability to know the effects of every thought and every action of every human being who ever lived. Without that power, how could Christ know that Judas was going to betray him? How could God know that Christ would be born of a virgin, in Bethlehem, on the appointed day?

    Good question. My answer is that:

    (a) God’s knowledge of our free choices is timeless, like that of a watcher on a high hill, to borrow a metaphor from Boethius. Hence there is never a time when God does not know what we are doing. God’s knowledge of our chocies is logically posterior to those choices but not temporally posterior;

    (b) although God needs to be informed by His creatures about their free choices, this is only because He has willed it that way, in order to give us libertarian freedom. Hence there is no loss of dignity on God’s part;

    (c) of couse, I reject the view of Open Theism, that God does not know the future. Such a view is heretical.

    I hope that addresses your concerns, and those of rhampton7.

  43. 43
    Me_Think says:

    God cannot know our thoughts and actions in future because if he did, He would surely stop murders, looting, rape etc.

  44. 44
    hrun0815 says:

    HRUN (attn Roy), the OP and thread of discussion on the contrary to your insinuations, inadvertently reveal that no reasonable degree of evidence, observation or report with analysis will move the determined objector locked into a system that a priori rules out what is reported or produced by analysis. The root problem is not science but philosophy. KF

    Yes, yes, yes. Because everyone knows that it’s science when KF or some other eyewitnesses claim some dude started floating when he heard a random name. Clearly this means that god decided that was worthy of messing about with gravity for a bit.

    It’s just like all them irrefutable eyewitness accounts of Big Foot and Alien Abductions! Only those stubborn philosophical doubters prevent science from finally admitting what’s real.

  45. 45
    Algorithm Eh says:

    KairosFocus, how do you reconcile your claims about the validity of levitation with this statement by a leading ID proponent?

    After all, just like with levitation, I have never seen one type of organism change into another type.”

    This person appears to place levitation on the same unlikely level as one organism changing into another type. You both cant be correct.

  46. 46
    StephenB says:

    Hi VJ. thanks for your response. You write,

    ..although God needs to be informed by His creatures about their free choices, this is only because He has willed it that way, in order to give us libertarian freedom.

    Again, it is not clear to me why God’s omniscience needs to be informed about our free choices in order for us to have free will. To know (without being informed by him) that Judas will betray Christ is not to cause the event. Judas’ free act is, it seems to me, completely independent of God’s ability to know that it will happen. If Judas had chosen a better course, God would have known that as well.

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, Personalising and twisting to dismiss again. I simply report what I witnessed in the company of some fifty people under conditions conducive to sufficiently good viewing to read text. I make no claims that such is “science.” It is sadly interesting to see the reactions to what cuts across presuppositions. KF

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    AE, I suggest the person gave a metaphor and comparison. I would suggest the reasonable reading is: there is an implied context that such change of life form has not been seen by blind chance and mechanical necessity. If the FSCO/I in life forms is a strong sign of design (a view that a design theory supporter would most likely agree with), then patently a designer could in principle change one form to another by various means — including front-loading the genome to evolve under certain conditions, insertions and deletions by programmed viri, lab action and other possible means. Notice, Behe, a leading design theorist, evidently holds to universal common descent. Wallace, co founder of the modern evolutionary theory held to a view of directing intelligence targetting the creation of man, as can be seen in his The World of Life. As a point of readily accessible reference, Venter et al are already doing minor scale engineering of life forms. The Ascension of Jesus of Nazareth, for instance, or the translocation of Philip the Evangelist as recorded by Luke are not offered as unusual natural phenomena. Nor (in a very different context) would be cases that have been seen in modern times. KF

  49. 49
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, that eyewitnesses do make mistakes does not disqualify all such testimony, nor does it give license to be dismissive to suit one’s preferences. That would destroy the legal system, our ability to learn from history (a vital source of hard-bought guidance paid for in blood and tears), management and the practice of science; which last depends on the trust in lab/field reports to by and large be credible never mind the problems with “cooking” and with inadequate peer review etc. I add that, shortly after the events in question, I checked a very senior person here on whether such phenomena were known. I learned that half century and more past unwanted and frightening incidents of poltergeist phenomena and the like (tied to deep rooted widespread folk level occult involvement via things like jumbie dances) were sufficiently common to draw the attention and efforts of significant church leaders; who were concerned over ill advised amateurish attempts to deal with such, that only compounded the problems. So, I understand the recent moves to improve training and skills of exorcists in the Roman Catholic Church, and the willingness of the current pontiff to personally engage the matter. Such things are now apparently happily much rarer here. In my native land, it is much the same, and the Haitian contingent in the same local church I spoke of earlier . . . we sometimes have to have bilingual/trilingual services and I recall a wedding in which a young bride, freshly arrived from Haiti, declared a world of cultural intent when she answered the French version of her vows in her intended new language, English: “I will!” . . . are sufficiently personally familiar with phenomena of this order that they have a sort of general understanding of how one deals with such cases and what to expect. (English, French and Haitian Creole; Spanish and the Jamaican Creole are also now significant here too.) Medical and nursing practitioners in this region are often sufficiently familiar with possession or oppression phenomena — as distinct from mere mental illness — that they will make the recommendation, this case needs a good parson or priest. Sometimes, both medical and spiritual interventions are needed. Not to mention social worker type interventions. So, the world seems to be stranger than we oftentimes imagine. KF

  50. 50
    kairosfocus says:

    AE,

    I suggest that so routine a phenomenon as responsibly free, rational mind — a precondition for logic and physics as a discipline of logic — is inexplicable on the presuppositions of evolutionary materialist scientism.

    Indeed, this last reveals itself as self-referentially incoherent and self-falsifying, thus utterly irrational. Cf 14 above for a start.

    I notice, that you thought of the report of seeing phenomena as illogical and contrary to laws of physical science as quasi-synonymous.

    I suggest, that such laws are empirical generalisations of what obtains under widely observed commonplace circumstances. But as C S Lewis once observed, if one puts sixpence in a drawer then six pennies and returns at a later date to inexplicably find only two pence, one does not judge that the laws of nature have failed. Only, the laws of England have been violated.

    That seems to be at work here.

    Laws of nature are generalisations on common phenomena and hold in themselves the status of inductive or abductive explanatory generalisations. They have the implicit premise, IF certain preconditions obtain, then the following results will occur. They cannot address rare exceptions to typical patterns nor cases where preconditions do not obtain.

    It is at least logically possible for different orders of intelligent and active beings to exist that can act into our world by means of phenomena we do not understand. We ought not exclude such a priori, especially by imposing a frame of thought that is itself dubious and indefensible.

    Patently, invisible means of support are not inherently confined to maglev or fine braided high strength wires more commonly used in fishing or the like.

    What is illogical, is to refuse reasonable testimony of the senses under circumstances conducive to good seeing. Seeing a body at 15 – 20 ft range is not an extraordinary experience, nor is seeing the tiled floor under an elevated body. Nor, is seeing someone in a dead faint and recognising the utter dead weight limpness manifested thereby. Etc.

    Likewise, to eat two suppers with a friend and leader is utterly commonplace. 2,000 years ago in Palestine, betrayal to death was not unusual, nor were kangaroo courts and judicial murder of inconvenient figures. Frankly, that still happens. Burials are a common phenomenon, and burials usually accord with the customs of a time and place. Guards to defend against possible raids are well known. That followers of a leader betrayed to death by judicial murder would be in great fear and despair is obvious. That at that time and place women would be by and large exempt from state violence, is understandable. Likewise, people commonly know which events succeed which in a timeline.

    None of these phenomena by themselves would be extraordinary.

    It is the circumstances that logically integrate the observations into a timeline or overall situation that imply something unusual, not in accord with undisturbed nature.

    Resurrection of Jesus, as the second supper was after his judicial murder and burial.

    Likewise, strange phenomena connected with exorcisms witnessed by many.

    What we really have here is a worldviews clash over what sort of entities exist in reality and what therefore is possible by means we may not understand.

    And of course Cliffordian evidentialism and hyperskepticism fall before the corrected premise: extraordinary phenomena/claims require ADEQUATE evidence if belief in them is to be rational and responsible.

    KF

  51. 51
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Greenleaf:

    >>

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction.

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd.

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them.

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved.

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]>>

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I do not know who R D Miksa is or why he would be termed a leading supporter of ID, but per Google, the clip above comes from him, here: http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-550891

    I took it up here, and quote in context, adjusted for readability:

    RDM, 25: . . . the ironic thing to note in terms of comments from the anti-super-naturalist side is how they fail to realize that their very own arguments undermine their own naturalistic position. Indeed, note their use of the poorly-formulated but often used mantra “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    Note how this mantra is used to claim–in the context of this discussion–how it is apparently more rational to believe that hundreds of witnesses hallucinated or colluded or lied rather than believe that a man levitated. But the problem is, such an argument can be turned right back on the naturalistic.

    For example, consider that the biological realm reeks of the appearance of intentional design, as many naturalists themselves admit. But naturalists deny this and claim that neo-Darwinian evolution is reasonable. But this is an extraordinary claim. After all, just like with levitation, I have never seen one type of organism change into another type. I have never seen molecules change into animals than conscious men. But then the naturalists will say that scientists have looked at the evidence and have inferred that neo-Darwinian theory is the best explanation of the evidence at hand.

    But suddenly, I retort: What’s more likely, that molecules evolved into men without design, something that no one has ever seen, or that

    1) the scientists are lying due to a naturalistic prejudice and/or that

    2) scientists are mistaken about their inference, and/or

    3) that the scientists are biased in favor of naturalism and this unconsciously skews their interpretation of the evidence, and/or that

    4) all the scientists are colluded together to promote evolution to keep their jobs, and/or that

    5) people are sometimes honestly mistaken in their inferential efforts and that is probably the case with these scientists, and so on and so forth.

    So, it is clearly more likely that [there] is a problem on the part of the scientists rather than that our uniform and repeated empirical evidence that species do not evolve into other species is wrong.

    And since extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, I am perfectly rational to not believe in the extraordinary claim that is neo-Darwinian evolution. [ –> NB, March 1: Following up from comment 37 below, a more formal, detailed presentation in a paper by RDM is to be found here. KF]

    I trust this context from almost precisely a year past will be helpful.

    KF

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: I looked up who he is and the most relevant finding I see (apart from some Catholic books) is Reppert:

    >>Saturday, March 17, 2012

    http://dangerousidea.blogspot......sider.html

    R D Miksa’s blog on taking over the outsider test for faith
    Here is the blog. Miksa argues that the OTF, properly interpreted, supports theism, supernaturalism, and intelligent design.

    The central issue surrounding the OTF is whether Loftus is justified in putting nonbelief in a special, default category, or whether it is just one more position on the intellectual map, as it were. That’s what the Outsider Perspective is supposed to be about. Otherwise I can go outside of Christianity by taking an Islamic perspective, or outside of Buddhism by taking a Christian perspective. Or I get get outside the atheist perspective by taking a Christian point of view. But there is no question of getting completely outside, in other words, off the intellectual map entirely. You can go outside of here by going there, but you are still going to be somewhere. Wherever you go, there you are.

    On the other hand, Loftus isn’t just talking about getting outside of where you are to start from somewhere else to see what happens as a thought experiment. Rather, he thinks that the modern scientistic nonbeliever’s position just is the Outsider Perspective, and as such it deserves a default status. Unless a religious view can justify itself to someone who adopts that perspective, then it ought not to be believed. But there is no corresponding evidential requirement that falls upon the atheist. One is only justified in getting inside a religious position unless you can justify yourself to The Outsider (with or without the hat).

    My criticisms amount to the claim that it’s a fudge to put the nonbeliever in that kind of privileged position.

    Posted by Victor Reppert at 3:20 PM>>

    Reppert has a point.

    KF

  54. 54
    vjtorley says:

    Hi kairosfocus,

    For my part, I would like to say that I have no trouble believing your story of the levitation that you and 50 other people witnessed. I also have no trouble believing in demonic intelligences. This should be obvious to any thinking person, even arguing on purely secular grounds. After all, there’s a good chance that if intelligent beings like ourselves exist, then other intelligent beings do, too. Some of them would be far ahead of us, mentally speaking, so invisibility would not be a problem for them. The same goes for levitation. Some of these beings would be good and some would be evil, or demonic. The commenters who pronounced your story incredible need to open their minds.

  55. 55
    vjtorley says:

    Hi StepehenB,

    Thank you for your post. You write:

    Again, it is not clear to me why God’s omniscience needs to be informed about our free choices in order for us to have free will. To know (without being informed by him) that Judas will betray Christ is not to cause the event.

    I would answer that if we consider the Gettier problem, it becomes apparent that knowledge requires justification, and that means that there must be a causal relationship between the knower and what is known. Thus A’s claim to know that p is only legitimate if A causes p to occur (i.e. A determines p) or p causes A to know that p (i.e. p determines A’s knowledge of p). Since I am not a determinist of any stripe (physical or theological), I am forced to conclude that if God knows our free choices, then God’s knowledge of our choices must be caused by (i.e. logically but not temporally subsequent to) those choices. I can see no other alternative.

  56. 56
    daveS says:

    KF,

    DS, that eyewitnesses do make mistakes does not disqualify all such testimony, nor does it give license to be dismissive to suit one’s preferences.

    I don’t think that I’m being dismissive. I do believe it’s likely there is a more mundane explanation for what you saw, although I can’t rule out the possibility that you are correct.

    I add that, shortly after the events in question, I checked a very senior person here on whether such phenomena were known. I learned that half century and more past unwanted and frightening incidents of poltergeist phenomena and the like (tied to deep rooted widespread folk level occult involvement via things like jumbie dances) were sufficiently common to draw the attention and efforts of significant church leaders; who were concerned over ill advised amateurish attempts to deal with such, that only compounded the problems.

    My wife’s pastor has spoken of several incidents of demonic possession he has witnessed firsthand. He is someone I trust just as much as an immediate family member. And while I recognize the possibility that he is right about these possessions, I would wager any amount of money that they don’t actually involve any “supernatural” phenomena.

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, I can understand your struggle with this one. However, the circumstances are such that a limp body of someone in what is called a dead faint simply does not behave as the one I and others saw did (note to VJT, not all of the 50 present were in a position to see, and no attention was drawn to the spectacle . . . unsurprisingly). KF

    PS: I would to God that such were ordinary phenomena. The White Rose movement, however, gives us some sobering counsel on our tendencies in such regards.

  58. 58
    Algorithm Eh says:

    Kairosfocus @50: “I notice, that you thought of the report of seeing phenomena as illogical and contrary to laws of physical science as quasi-synonymous.”

    You are trying to put thoughts in my head that aren’t there. I merely was saying that I would expect more evidence than a few eyewitnesses for events that cannot be explained logically AND defy physics. They are separate conditions, not synonymns.

    But I do have one question. Of the fifty people present, did not one have the presence of mind to whip out their iPhone and take some pictures? Or was the use of cameras expressly forbidden by the person presiding over the exorcism? If the latter, I would seriously question the motivation of the person in charge.

    There are well documented optical illusions and sleight of hand tricks that have a perfectly natural explanation but I would be willing to bet that you would not be able to identify it simply by observing.

    As I mentioned, I believe that you think what you saw was real. But I give it no more credence than UFO abductions or mind reading, both of which have a plethora of eyewitness accounts. I am not saying that all of these are impossible, just that they are on the same level of credibility. Before you could convince me, I would require far more evidence than eye witness accounts.

    Your categorizing of anyone who questions levitation as hyper-skepticism is simply a lame attempt to stifle discussion. Questioning eye witness claims of levitation, mind reading and UFO abductions without any other supporting evidence is reasonable and rational. Questioning things is how we gain knowledge.

  59. 59
    hrun0815 says:

    Re 58: These days every single football to the groin is captured by a cell phone or a GoPro. But god and demons are sly ones. The phenomena stops immediately as soon as it can be recorded for further evaluation.

  60. 60
    Virgil Cain says:

    LoL! @ hrun0815! Why hasn’t anyone captured the magical mystery changes required by evolutionism? That phenomena stops immediately when scientists and laypeople start looking so the claim can be evaluated.

  61. 61
    kairosfocus says:

    AE, you said the same thing again. A supernatural event does not defy logic, it is not incoherent. Laws of nature are not laws of logic. Nor is an inductive inference able to determine something that must necessarily hold in all cases. And BTW if I saw a UFO an unquestionably alien abduction in progress at 20 ft range under conditions lighted for reading, I would believe it. So would any reasonable person. That’s the difference; I was there, I know what I and others saw, I have interacted with the person up to last week. I am therefore seeing this as an opportunity to further understand how we respond to evidence, reports and the like when they do not sit comfortably with our expectations. KF

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, It so happens that people in this neck of the woods are not usually going to be filming spectacles in church (though cam phones and tablets with cams are sufficiently common that several were indubitably present); especially when the events are not sensationalised, they were part of the problem not the solution. Besides, it is always easy to dismiss a video as faked. In the end it is not the events that are on trial here, but the way some respond in inadvertently tellingly ways. Which was ever so, in Jesus’ day he was clearly accused of devilish sorcery and the terrified disciples last seen running for their lives, of mounting a raid against an armed tomb guard. Paul’s challenge to his judges still stands: why should it seem strange that God — creator of the world and giver of life — should raise the dead? And, these things were not done in a corner. KF

  63. 63
    Aleta says:

    vjt wrote to kf,

    For my part, I would like to say that I have no trouble believing your story of the levitation that you and 50 other people witnessed. I also have no trouble believing in demonic intelligences. This should be obvious to any thinking person, even arguing on purely secular grounds. After all, there’s a good chance that if intelligent beings like ourselves exist, then other intelligent beings do, too. Some of them would be far ahead of us, mentally speaking, so invisibility would not be a problem for them. The same goes for levitation. Some of these beings would be good and some would be evil, or demonic. The commenters who pronounced your story incredible need to open their minds.

    I understand that a religious person who believes that supernatural beings (God, angels, demons, whatever) might exist might also accept this explanation for levitation.

    I’m not interested in discussing whether those are reasonable beliefs are not, although as a non-supernaturalist, I don’t believe them.

    But I do want to respond to one part of what vjt said: As a thinking person, I think it is nonsense to say that on “purely secular grounds” there is a “good chance” that there are other intelligent beings here on earth who are “so far ahead of us, mentally speaking, [that] invisibility would not be a problem for them.”

    It is one thing to have an open mind. It it is another thing to abandon critical thinking. There are no secular grounds whatsoever for thinking that invisible demonic spirits exist, much less that they spend their time levitating people.

    And a reminder: I’m not interested in all the talk about eye-witness accounts and other evidence. I just want to point out that the only people willing to entertain the validity of these purported phenomena must accept the possibility of supernatural phenomena outside the scope of what is considered a secular viewpoint.

    So to say that the existence of demonic intelligences “should be obvious to any thinking person, even arguing on purely secular grounds,” is flat out wrong.

  64. 64
    Algorithm Eh says:

    KairosFocus@61: “A supernatural event does not defy logic, it is not incoherent.”

    Of course it does, and is. Given the force of gravity and the density of the human body, it is logical to conclude that the human body cannot levitate. Therefore, levitation defies logic (and physics).

    “Laws of nature are not laws of logic.”

    Who said they were?

    “And BTW if I saw a UFO an unquestionably alien abduction in progress at 20 ft range under conditions lighted for reading, I would believe it. So would any reasonable person.”

    That is where you and I differ. I would examine all other possible explanations, including willful deception, before I would believe that the person was abducted by aliens. Given the immense distances between stars, and the time required to travel between them, the rational approach would be to be extremely skeptical of what I thought I saw. The same applies to levitation.

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta,

    In fact the first problem of evolutionary materialist secularist scientism is it is self referentially incoherent and cannot credibly account for responsible rational freedom. That freedom is the premise of rational discussion.

    A simple case in point is this, from J B S Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    The existence of rational, responsible freedom — a condition of having logical discussions — is itself a strong sign that blind chance and mechanical necessity acting on matter, energy, space and time do not exhaust reality.

    Going beyond, the material cosmos is inherently contingent, pointing to a necessary being root as ground of reality. The cosmos also shows strong signs of being designed. We, as rational and responsible beings find ourselves inescapably under moral principles, the binding force of ought. This points to a moral root of reality, an intelligent root, a minded root and a necessary being root that is beyond matter.

    So, it is not inherently implausible that there will be intelligent actors that go beyond the familiar matter-energy space time domain. Indeed our own mindedness points beyond that domain.

    Instead, the real issue is that in this era there is a commonplace a priori evolutionary materialist scientism that because it wears the lab coat is given a privileged status. It uses that status to a priori lock out the possibility of considering reality beyond the material. Even at the price of self referential incoherence.

    I suggest, in the case I mentioned as an eyewitness, and in many others that we have good record on, there credibly are events that do go beyond the ordinary mundane course of events. But it becomes quite interesting to see how such reports are rejected, why.

    And nope, I did not believe the testimony of my senses because I am unduly credulous.

    I believe them because I was in a situation where the seeing was reasonable and I know what I and others saw, including further phenomena not mentioned. Where, again, I note that what I saw was part of the problem, not the solution. The solution, though less spectacular, was even more significant.

    KF

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    AE,

    something that is illogical will be incoherent; to assert or imply that something not in accord with the usual course of events is illogical is to imply that these laws obtain with logical necessity.

    A world formed by a necessary being who is a greatest possible being and inherently good creator God is not logically incoherent. Indeed such is seriously arguably a logically possible world.

    Your inference that in a gravity field a human body cannot levitate misses out something: in absence of an over-riding force or factor.

    It also presumes the universality and necessity of the laws of nature arrived at inductively; but such is inherently open to rare exceptions.

    In this case, you overlook the possibility that the world we experience is sustained in being and operation by its Creator who for good reasons may act in unusual ways. Such as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead with 500 witnesses that could not be broken.

    Further, you overlook that other beings may be more intelligent and advanced than we are (where I make no commitments whatsoever to their being morally well intentioned) and can manipulate reality in ways that we do not understand.

    I therefore suggest avoiding the position that a supernatural event or believing one has witnessed such is an ILLOGICAL point.

    KF

  67. 67
    hrun0815 says:

    Re #62: Yes, yes. Just as I said. Gods and demons are sly and they will likely only suspend fundamental laws like gravity in places where they will likely not be filmed or in any way examined in detail. Just like those aliens who preferentially abduct folks in the rural Midwest or Big Foot who only appears to lone hikers in Appalachia or the Pacific Northwest. These guys are all way to sneaky to be filmed.

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    HRUN, are you prepared to say every court case, news item or historical event not backed up by videotape should be tossed? If so, what would be the consequences? If not, what does this say about selective hyperskepticism and where it leads? (The case VJT has highlighted, Joseph of Cupertino, is highly relevant to this.) KF

  69. 69
    Algorithm Eh says:

    KairosFocus: “something that is illogical will be incoherent; to assert or imply that something not in accord with the usual course of events is illogical is to imply that these laws obtain with logical necessity.”

    No it doesn’t. If a law is logically incoherent, you modify the law. What is so difficult about that?

    “A world formed by a necessary being who is a greatest possible being and inherently good creator God is not logically incoherent.”

    Except that this presupposes a creator God. Doing so invokes circularity. Patently obvious.

    “It also presumes the universality and necessity of the laws of nature arrived at inductively; but such is inherently open to rare exceptions.”

    No they aren’t. If there is an exception, then the formulation of the law is incorrect. It needs to be modified or discarded.

    “In this case, you overlook the possibility that the world we experience is sustained in being and operation by its Creator who for good reasons may act in unusual ways. Such as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead with 500 witnesses that could not be broken.”

    Can you provide me with the sworn testimony of any of these 500? Or was this recorded many years after the event? Or their deaths?

    “Further, you overlook that other beings may be more intelligent and advanced than we are (where I make no commitments whatsoever to their being morally well intentioned) and can manipulate reality in ways that we do not understand.”

    No I don’t. Where are they? And how do they do it?

    “I therefore suggest avoiding the position that a supernatural event or believing one has witnessed such is an ILLOGICAL point.”

    When someone can explain why it is LOGICAL to blindly accept things that we don’t yet understand, I will change my position.

  70. 70
    hrun0815 says:

    Re #68: KF, are you for real? You bring court cases into this? How many courts do you think will take the word of a witness who claims somebody was floating, got abducted by aliens, or played poker with big foot?

  71. 71
    Algorithm Eh says:

    HRUN: “Re #68: KF, are you for real? You bring court cases into this? How many courts do you think will take the word of a witness who claims somebody was floating, got abducted by aliens, or played poker with big foot?”

    That is just crazy talk. Everybody knows that Bigfoot only plays backgammon.

  72. 72
    kairosfocus says:

    AE (attn HRUN), The issue is the general credibility of eyewitness testimony, and of report or written record of same. Once you impugn it in cases you do not like, and blanket dismiss, you raise the issue of selective hyperskepticism in defence of an established worldview. We must retain reasonable balance of critically aware open mindedness that seeks good warrant for conclusions. KF

  73. 73
    hrun0815 says:

    Re #72: Nah. The issue is that some folks here think claiming somebody floated around when he heard a couple of names, or claiming they got abducted by aliens, or met Bigfoot can be made credible by producing eyewitnesses.

    The funny part is that you brought the courts into it: If the testimony is credible and doesn’t defy the laws of physics, then courts may accept testimony by eyewitnesses. If it does defy the laws of physics or posits the supernatural in any other ways courts will reject it. But go ahead, claim that courts are hyperskeptical because of it.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    AE,

    again, the core issue is that logic is indeed about coherence. Where, there are inherent limits to inductively grounded claims and where it is indeed a logically possible world to have a context where miracles are possible as the world-order is created and sustained by a lawgiver who reserves the power to act in a different way for good purposes of his own. In addition, we have possible beings at a different level of capability who can act in ways beyond our understanding.

    You would also find it useful to ponder that our ability to discuss pivots on our being responsibly free. Such cannot coherently be accounted for on an evolutionary materialist, scientistic scheme of thought that reduces reality to matter and energy in space and time driven by blind chance and mechanical necessity. As was already pointed out, I just note for reminder.

    Further to this, did you notice your projection of blind acceptance, and what it reveals about mindset on your part? To point out a logical possibility is not to go into blind acceptance. Indeed, its function is to prevent or at least advise against blind locking out.

    Similarly, it is not that proposed laws are incoherent in themselves but that an inductive conclusion about a general pattern is inherently provisional and subject to rare exceptions. The classic is the scientific turkey who on study concluded it is a law of nature that food is at the kitchen door 9:00 am daily. Then, one day, as Lord Russell put it, it was Christmas Eve.

    When it comes to the 500, we have the martyrs blood sealed record at 55 AD, tracing to the mutual testimony of the core witnesses, 35 0 38 AD:

    1 Cor 15:1 . . . I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

    3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

    Morison comments on this soberingly:

    [N]ow the peculiar thing . . . is that not only did [belief in Jesus’ resurrection as in part testified to by the empty tomb] spread to every member of the Party of Jesus of whom we have any trace, but they brought it to Jerusalem and carried it with inconceivable audacity into the most keenly intellectual centre of Judaea . . . and in the face of every impediment which a brilliant and highly organised camarilla could devise. And they won. Within twenty years the claim of these Galilean peasants had disrupted the Jewish Church and impressed itself upon every town on the Eastern littoral of the Mediterranean from Caesarea to Troas. In less than fifty years it had began to threaten the peace of the Roman Empire . . . . Why did it win? . . . . We have to account not only for the enthusiasm of its friends, but for the paralysis of its enemies and for the ever growing stream of new converts . . . When we remember what certain highly placed personages would almost certainly have given to have strangled this movement at its birth but could not – how one desperate expedient after another was adopted to silence the apostles, until that veritable bow of Ulysses, the Great Persecution, was tried and broke in pieces in their hands [the chief persecutor became the leading C1 Missionary/Apostle!] – we begin to realise that behind all these subterfuges and makeshifts there must have been a silent, unanswerable fact. [Who Moved the Stone, (Faber, 1971; nb. orig. pub. 1930), pp. 114 – 115.]

    Perhaps this, from Locke [Sec 5 Intro, Essay on Human Understanding], may also help you appreciate the limitations of our knowledge claims and the sort of issues we face:

    Men have reason to be well satisfied with what God hath thought fit for them, since he hath given them (as St. Peter says [NB: i.e. 2 Pet 1:2 – 4]) pana pros zoen kaieusebeian, whatsoever is necessary for the conveniences of life and information of virtue; and has put within the reach of their discovery, the comfortable provision for this life, and the way that leads to a better. How short soever their knowledge may come of an universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great concernments [Prov 1: 1 – 7], that they have light enough to lead them to the knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own duties [cf Rom 1 – 2 & 13, Ac 17, Jn 3:19 – 21, Eph 4:17 – 24, Isaiah 5:18 & 20 – 21, Jer. 2:13, Titus 2:11 – 14 etc, etc]. Men may find matter sufficient to busy their heads, and employ their hands with variety, delight, and satisfaction, if they will not boldly quarrel with their own constitution, and throw away the blessings their hands are filled with, because they are not big enough to grasp everything . . . It will be no excuse to an idle and untoward servant [Matt 24:42 – 51], who would not attend his business by candle light, to plead that he had not broad sunshine. The Candle that is set up in us [Prov 20:27] shines bright enough for all our purposes . . . If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do muchwhat as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly. [Text references added to document the sources of Locke’s allusions and citations.]

    The modern attitude that hyperskeptical dismissiveness (often highly selective in use) trumps all is deeply ill informed.

    KF

  75. 75
    Algorithm Eh says:

    KairosFocus: “Once you impugn it in cases you do not like, and blanket dismiss, you raise the issue of selective hyperskepticism in defence of an established worldview.”

    Once again, you label anyone who questions your levitation experience as demonstrating hyperskepticism. Obviously you have no intention of having an honest discussion of the issue. Come back to me when you can discuss the issue without resorting to this ploy.

    Have a nice evening.

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    VJ @55:

    Thanks again for responding. I doubt very much if the Gettier problem, as you describe it, would apply to an omniscient God. I don’t think that God needs to go through a thought process or justify his beliefs in order to know what He knows.

    If, as you suggest, God’s knowledge of our future choices and acts must be caused by those choices and acts (i.e. logically but not temporally subsequent to), then why would it not also be the case that God’s knowledge of all other future events in our lives is caused by those events?

  77. 77
    Algorithm Eh says:

    StephenB, I must admit to being confused. Is VJT suggesting that God’s knowledge about our future choices is caused by our future choices. Forgive me if this sounds like a Monty Python sketch. “MY BRAIN HURTS”.

  78. 78
    GaryGaulin says:

    I was hoping that reason would prevail. But addictions are immune to reason.

    According to this information the best strategy against (in this case philosophy fueled) religious addiction is to not stand in the way of the “hitting bottom” part of the cycle:

    http://www.amazon.com/When-Rel.....0970958129

    When Religion Is an Addiction

    An eye-opening and hard-hitting work, When Religion Is an Addiction not only puts the political activities of the right-wing in a new perspective, but explains how liberal responses have often enabled religious addiction to thrive. Dr. Minor applies contemporary understandings of addictions to the extreme Christian right-wing in the United States and concludes that for them religion is functioning as a process addiction. Crucial to the addictiveness of such religion is its obsession with human depravity, the ultimate expression of low self-worth. The emotional “high” of righteousness functions to eliminate the addicts’ sense of personal responsibility for their teachings, their actions, and their actions’ painful toll on other human beings. Religious addiction, he observes, often covers sexual addictions. And the current right-wing obsession with political campaigns and victories is the even stronger fix the addiction demands to cover growing fears of failure. Too often the responses of liberals have been like those of enablers in an addict’s family who through their reactions prevent the addict from hitting bottom. Arguing about religion, for example, only promotes the addiction. In the final chapter Dr. Minor reveals a non-enabling way to respond to those people for whom religion functions as an addiction.

    The Discovery Institute is hitting bottom real hard by making enemies that now include the leadership of the United Methodist Church. For sake of theory I had no choice but to take away the excuses that turns UMC followers into enablers. At the time I was not looking at as countering a religious addiction. It just ended up the same thing as making sure they right away hit bottom on that one, not prolong the agony:

    http://www.umc.org/news-and-me.....2499865149

    http://www.inumc.org/postdetai.....2497031157

    I cannot make Theory of Intelligent Design gone, but to those who are being swayed to feel sorry for the Discovery Institute I can show what a real scientific theory looks like. That seems to be the essence of not standing in the way of hitting bottom of a religious addiction.

    The DI was trying to conquer the church leadership by speaking for their founding father of Methodism, which also qualifies as one of the signs of religious addiction. There is also the need to put the blame on others, which led to reliance on words like “materialists” to get out of having to provide a real scientific theory.

    I think we need to call it what it is. Or at least find a treatment expert for advice, in case anyone in this forum can help by looking for one or more who will volunteer to help get to the root of the problem of this issue, some unreasonably have against science.

  79. 79
    Aleta says:

    re: 77. Algorithm Eh (AE) asks “Is VJT suggesting that God’s knowledge about our future choices is caused by our future choices.”

    Putting on my student of theology hat…

    God exists in all moments. He can see all moments simultaneously: to him, all moments are a “now”, and all of time is a complete, and completed whole. We are embedded in time, so we experience a memory of past choices, a sense of making current choices, and a lack of knowledge about future choices. However, from God’s omnipresent perspective, the choices we make today, the choices we will make next week, and the choices we made last week are all events which exist as having already happened in their own “now” – they all have equal status and are all part of the vast expanse of “nows” that God can see as the complete expanse of time.

    So, yes, God has knowledge of our future choices, but that is a misleading statement, because what is the future to us is just a different segment of time to God. If he shifts his vision, so to speak, that which is the future to us, looking from our now, is just another now a little further from this one – a now for the person we will be when we are there.

    Of course, this omniscience and omnipresence creates problems for us in trying to understand what is the true nature of our choices. One might object that this perspective is one of pre-determinism, with no room for us to actual make choices at all. But that is also a misleading perspective, conflating the world as seen by us with the world as seen by God. The world, seen as a whole over all of time, is as it is because it has happened as it has. The choices have all been made, and yet at all moments are being made. Every moment is a creative moment, and the sum total of all that creativity is seen and known by God.

    It is important to understand that all of this embodies paradoxes that are beyond human understanding. We can’t actually grasp the view of God, and it is part of both our freedom and our imprisonment that we are embedded in time and space, experiencing each moment as our own bit of creative existence.

    But all the great religions, at least in part, offer the spiritual advice to accept and embrace the paradoxes rather than try to dissect them with the grasping analytic intellect.

    /theology

  80. 80
    Algorithm Eh says:

    Aleta, if I am reading you correctly, free will is just an illusion. If God, who transcends time, knows all of our actions (past present and future) then our fate is predetermined. And if he doesn’t, then he is not omniscient.

    I don’t know which scenario I like better.

  81. 81
    kairosfocus says:

    AE (attn GG),

    FYI, no I do not “label” people per their dismissal of a claim I make but may challenge them on their pattern of reasoning or arguing or claiming to have warranted credibly true belief (aka knowledge) . . . which may be evident from HOW such people dismiss an eyewitness testimony. (Where, as someone with insider knowledge as to the right, responsible and reasonable answer, it is then interesting to see how people respond and why.)

    I do not expect simplistic acceptance on my say-so, but I do expect that people will recognise that there are issues of personal nature involved so that the privacy of people must be respected. Thus oral and especially written reports will reflect that.

    Second, it will be rare in such circumstances for there to be video or photographic evidence of circumstances, even as would be typical for many crimes against the person.

    Thus the issue of reasonable and adequate standards of warrant and reporting come out, with questions of credibility of record onward.

    For example in the case of Joseph of Cupertino, there is a large body of first hand eyewitness reportage from literally hundreds of witnesses, passed down as record.

    In the case of the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, there were over 500 eyewitnesses, there was a more or less official summary and list of key witnesses [~ 20 are identifiable from the context cited] recorded within 25 years and in oral form tracing to within 5 years, handed down to us in a core document of a movement that in the face of dungeon, fire, sword and worse transformed our civilisation, and since there have been literally millions across the world, down through he ages and present all around us today who report the positive transformation of their lives through living encounter with God in eh face of the risen Christ. Where, all along the testimony pivots on “according to the scriptures” which include detailed predictive prophecy dating to hundreds of years before the event and fulfilled in astonishing details with Is 52 – 53 being key and directly independently known from Dead Sea Scroll evidence.

    Cumulatively, were such a widespread delusion, it would bring into question the general ability of the human mind to credibly access reality. Which would then put all human knowledge claims and perceptions of reality under question. That is there is an issue of self referential incoherence lurking here.

    The sort of dismissiveness I have seen regarding this corpus (and much more out there) too often amounts to prejudice or even outright ill-founded hostility — notice, “religion” = “addiction” above — with overtones of overconfidence in evolutionary materialistic scientism.

    And it is in that context highly significant to notice that (a) evo mat scientism is inescapably and multiply self referentially incoherent, and (b) typically adherents are deaf to summaries that point this out. (Observe the above in this thread for cases in point.)

    I again point to a 101 level summary on that, here on in context.

    The underlying issue is epistemological-logical and with implications for metaphysics/ontology and ethics as well.

    Yes, I am pointing back to the core intellectual discipline, philosophy and its major branches.

    Let no one imagine him-/her-self well educated who has not taken time to acquaint himself or herself with sufficient of such to appreciate the issues that surround worldview foundations. And, to be able to at least trace in outline how many key issues trace to such underlying considerations.

    I am finding instead that many in our day lack a good basic foundation in core philosophy to undertake critical analysis of worldviews (unsurprising given education systems), and when issues of that order come up they are too often unwilling to address the meta issues that are pivotal for soundly addressing the initial issues.

    The ideological tyranny of unexamined metaphysics (here, usually dressed up in a lab coat) and perceived as if it were reality seems to be critical.

    In addition, there is a conflation of philosophy with “religion” perceived as a blanket term of opprobrium and dismissal . . . lacking awareness that everyone has a worldview core and that such inevitably involves faith commitments, such that the proper approach to a reasonable worldview turns on comparative difficulties analysis across factual adequacy, coherence and balanced explanatory power.

    Linked, there is a definite major problem of selective hyperskepticism that is often connected to Cliffordian evidentialism. Those caught up in such need to attend to the corrective: extraordinary claims require extraordinary [–> ADEQUATE, THAT IS, REASONABLE, RESPONSIBLE . . . ] evidence.

    Our epistemic standards should be such that were they generally adopted they would not lead to collapse of major and important fields of inquiry or practice vital to the sustainability of civilisation and/or civil society — and yes I am restating and applying the Kantian Categorical Imperative as an ethical standard for knowledge claims.

    In this context, we need to return to the key concept of warrant to moral (responsible) certainty. I again highlight Simon Greenleaf’s apt summary in his introductory remarks in his famous treatise on Evidence, i/l/o the experience of centuries of legal thought and praxis, as appeared in 51 above:

    Evidence, in legal acceptation, includes all the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved . . . None but mathematical truth is susceptible of that high degree of evidence, called demonstration, which excludes all possibility of error [–> Greenleaf wrote almost 100 years before Godel], and which, therefore, may reasonably be required in support of every mathematical deduction.

    Matters of fact are proved by moral evidence alone; by which is meant, not only that kind of evidence which is employed on subjects connected with moral conduct, but all the evidence which is not obtained either from intuition, or from demonstration. In the ordinary affairs of life, we do not require demonstrative evidence, because it is not consistent with the nature of the subject, and to insist upon it would be unreasonable and absurd.

    The most that can be affirmed of such things, is, that there is no reasonable doubt concerning them.

    The true question, therefore, in trials of fact, is not whether it is possible that the testimony may be false, but, whether there is sufficient probability of its truth; that is, whether the facts are shown by competent and satisfactory evidence. Things established by competent and satisfactory evidence are said to be proved [ in the sense of moral certainty].

    By competent evidence, is meant that which the very-nature of the thing to be proved requires, as the fit and appropriate proof in the particular case, such as the production of a writing, where its contents are the subject of inquiry. By satisfactory evidence, which is sometimes called sufficient evidence, is intended that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond reasonable doubt.

    The circumstances which will amount to this degree of proof can never be previously defined; the only legal test of which they are susceptible, is their sufficiency to satisfy the mind and conscience of a common man; and so to convince him, that he would venture to act upon that conviction, in matters of the highest concern and importance to his own interest. [A Treatise on Evidence, Vol I, 11th edn. (Boston: Little, Brown, 1888) ch 1., sections 1 and 2. Shorter paragraphs added. (NB: Greenleaf was a founder of the modern Harvard Law School and is regarded as a founding father of the modern Anglophone school of thought on evidence, in large part on the strength of this classic work.)]

    KF

    PS: Those interested in a 101 on worldviews foundation analysis may find this helpful.

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    AE & Aleta, I suggest that once God is present and active everywhere and every-when, his immediate knowledge and contemplation of the course of the actual world (and also of all possible but not actualised worlds . . . ) is not equivalent to his causing or forcing the course of events. The evidence instead is that a reasonable balance is that God has granted a certain class of creatures responsible freedom to actually be able to in limited ways shape and influence the course of events in our lives and surroundings. One apparent purpose for such is that this is a necessary criterion of moral good and particularly of real love; opening up a whole category of good. Above and beyond that, God by his own further choice so acts into the world that he controls the overall course towards his good ends, even with room for people to act in ways that may twist that which is good out of proper purpose. Thus we have a balance of both omniscience and omnipotence in the context of creation of creatures with responsible freedom. Those who seem ever so eager to dismiss such responsible freedom should recognise that the undermining of%

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: In the introduction to his Work on Divine Foreknowledge, Craig cites Sylvestre Bergier in his reply to Rousseau on matters that are highly relevant regarding the utility of revelation:

    From this striking testimony which you render to the glory of God, one may infer a very simple argument. According to you and according to the truth, we cannot comprehend the attributes of God; yet He has revealed them to us, the Holy Scriptures publish them and extol them in a thousand places, but men never had a correct idea of them until God revealed them. God can therefore reveal to us that which we cannot comprehend. There are even many of His attributes which, it appears to us, are impossible to reconcile with one another and which seem to us contradictory: for example, the freedom of God with His immutability, His perfect unity and His immensity, His infinite goodness and His justice. Yet God has revealed them to us; it is the Scripture which instructs us about them, and on these subjects the philosophers could only stammer. God can therefore reveal to us that which appears contradictory, that which revolts our reason. 2

    This brings to mind a puzzle I used to rise to people here: more or less, is there a single point on the face of the Earth which is simultaneously due North of London, England, Kingston Jamaica, and Los Angeles California?

    Many people will be puzzled, until they recognise that once we appreciate that the world is a sphere, then there will be a North pole due North of every point on the surface otherwise. What seems contradictory, confusing or simply confused to us, may in fact be mis-perceived due to hidden assumptions we bring tot he table, perhaps unrecognised. And, then it is a matter of opening up to responsibly address alternatives that can hep us see a different perspective that allows us to understand what was previously incomprehensible and even apparently nonsensical.

    But in the case of the Divine, we must ever appreciate that we are ever finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often willfully ill willed and blinded by our interests and attempts to rationalise our behaviour.

    Hence the pivotal concept, metanoia (often translated, repentance) — profound transformational change of mind, mindset, worldview and heart leading to change of life, as a foundational premise of responsiveness to God. Its flip-side is pistis, which denotes both trust towards God and rhetorical proof in the sense of well founded conviction leading to commitment and action.

    Hence the Pauline summary:

    Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body[a] and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[b]

    4 But[c] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.[ESV]

    And again:

    Eph 4:17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.

    18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

    20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self,[f] which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

    25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

    26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

    28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

    29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. [ESV]

    Also, with:

    2 Cor 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God%

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    I am seeing cutoffs, yet I have seen previously complete posts of comment. There are signs of maintenance in progress, so I will wait and come back later. KF

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    It looks like the cut-offs are real:

    82, freshly concluded:

    >> . . . the undermining of responsible rational freedom includes that we would not be free to attend to, understand, follow, appreciate and acknowledge the probative force of reasoned argument. This undermines, decisively, the life of the mind and reduces rationality to a chaos of self referential incoherence. Thus, there is a need to start from the premise of responsible freedom, and to reject any scheme of thought that undermines such. That is why I reject any type of determinism as such would lead to incoherence. And I think that we should all reject such schemes as inescapably incoherent and irrational. In that context, a balanced view of God and human freedom is an imperative. KF >>

  86. 86
    kairosfocus says:

    For 83:

    >>Also, with:

    3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ [ESV]

    Where the prince of prophets says:

    Isa 5: 20
    Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
    21
    Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
    and shrewd in their own sight!

    Isa 55: 6
    “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
    7
    let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
    8
    For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
    9
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    10
    “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
    making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
    11
    so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
    but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. [ESV]

    With Solomon adding:

    Prov 1:5
    Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
    and the one who understands obtain guidance,
    6
    to understand a proverb and a saying,
    the words of the wise and their riddles.

    7
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
    fools despise wisdom and instruction . . . .

    20
    Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
    in the markets she raises her voice;
    21
    at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
    at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
    22
    “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
    How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
    23
    If you turn at my reproof,[a]
    behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.

    Food for thought

    KF>>

    I trust this will be helpful.

    KF

  87. 87
    Aleta says:

    AE writes,

    Aleta, if I am reading you correctly, free will is just an illusion. If God, who transcends time, knows all of our actions (past present and future) then our fate is predetermined. And if he doesn’t, then he is not omniscient.

    [theology hat on]
    No, I am not saying that, but that is the common conclusion people sometimes draw from the types of things I said. What I did say is that the mystery and dilemma between our ability to choose our actions as we move through life and the omnipresence and omniscience of God is a mystery that is beyond our understanding.

    There are two different approaches sometimes made to living with this mystery. One is to acquiesce, to accept through faith that God has reconciled this dilemma, and to accept that as we exercise our will we also implement the will of God. This attitude is found not only in Christianity, but among mystics and devotees in other religions.

    The other approach is to try to create logical structures which resolve the dilemma. kq eloquently expresses one approach,:

    The evidence instead is that a reasonable balance is that God has granted a certain class of creatures responsible freedom to actually be able to in limited ways shape and influence the course of events in our lives and surroundings. One apparent purpose for such is that this is a necessary criterion of moral good and particularly of real love; opening up a whole category of good. Above and beyond that, God by his own further choice so acts into the world that he controls the overall course towards his good ends, even with room for people to act in ways that may twist that which is good out of proper purpose. Thus we have a balance of both omniscience and omnipotence in the context of creation of creatures with responsible freedom.

    However, I think attempts like this are faulty. “Balancing” omniscience and omnipotence (and omnipresence) is equivalent to denying the full strength of any of these qualities.

    More broadly, as I said in my earlier post, our attempts to build a rational structure which explains this mystery are in fact a fruitless attempt to grasp the ungraspable, and are actually an impediment to spiritual understanding.

    Here is a bigger point, and one difficult to describe. Looking at the world (and by world I mean the universe – all of creation) as God does, every action of every particle at every moment throughout the universe is a creative moment. The issue is not at all free will: the issue is that of the creative nature of God manifesting iself in every moment. God creates the world (he upholds it at all times) continuously, and the creative nature – the ability to make the next moment, is shared by everything.

    The mystery, again the dilemma, is caused by thinking of the creator as active and the created as passive: if God knows our future, then we don’t have any say in what it is. But that active/passive dichotomy is wrong.

    Out of time for now.

    One final point:

    I am not trying to describe the full content of Christian theology, which, among other things, is full of disagreements within itself about these issues. I am trying to describe the consequences of accepting the existence of a generic omni-everything divine being as the creator and overseer of the world.

    /theology

  88. 88
    vjtorley says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have to keep this brief, as I twisted my ankle this morning and I’ll have to get some shut-eye soon.

    Foreknowledge from a timeless perspective doesn’t negate free will. Seeing the future isn’t the same as causing the future.

    (Of course, if I could see the future and I then told you exactly what you would think, say or do one minute from now, that would rule out free will. Christ’s prophecy to Peter, “You will deny me three times,” doesn’t fall into that category, however. Christ had already arranged three tests for Peter, and knowing Peter’s heart, He knew him to be lacking in courage. But He didn’t tell Peter the words he would use when denying that he knew Jesus, and He didn’t tell Peter that immediately afterwards, he would go out and weep bitterly.)

    Re Algorithm Eh’s question, “Is VJT suggesting that God’s knowledge about our future choices is caused by our future choices?”, my answer is “Yes.”

    StephenB: Thank you for your response. You ask: “If, as you suggest, God’s knowledge of our future choices and acts must be caused by those choices and acts (i.e. logically but not temporally subsequent to), then why would it not also be the case that God’s knowledge of all other future events in our lives is caused by those events?”

    I answer that it depends on whether the future events in question are (a) necessary, (b) contingent, but decided by God (e.g. when the world will end), (c) contingent human choices, or (d) contingent effects (direct or indirect) of human choices. For categories (c) and (d) I would hold that God’s knowledge of those events is indeed (timelessly) caused by the events.

  89. 89
    Aleta says:

    It appears, perhaps, that vjt and I are saying similar things.

    For categories (c) and (d) I would hold that God’s knowledge of those events is indeed (timelessly) caused by the events.

    However, I would say that saying that God’s knowledge is caused by those events is as misleading as saying that God’s knowledge causes the events (which is the predeterminism that is so unsettling). The flaw here is thinking of these things as being in a causal relationship. It is not that one causes the other: rather it is that the two (God’s knowledge of what has been/is/will be and what actually happens) are coincident manifestations of the same phenomena in two different realms: one the infinite omniscient realm of God’s being and the other the temporal realm of mankind and the world we live in.

    We live in a world where time flows, and thus we see a world of cause and effect that connects each moment to the previous one. God is outside of time – stands over time and sees it all as one piece, so to speak, and therefore cause and effect are not relevant to him, or at least are of a very different nature than they are to us. God does not act on the world, as an outside agent, God’s actions are the world. Every moment is a manifestation of his creation of the world, and since he is aware of all moments until the end of the world, that means that the world is already created in its entirety throughout time.

    The problem, one problem, with trying to contemplate all this is that we can’t help but anthropomorphize our conception of God. We can’t help seeing him as being in time, working through cause and effect, making choices, being aware of individual issues, etc. But those are all human things. To God, it is all one comprehensive whole.

  90. 90
    Algorithm Eh says:

    Aleta, thank you for explaining this so logically and concisely.

    “There are two different approaches sometimes made to living with this mystery. One is to acquiesce, to accept through faith that God has reconciled this dilemma, and to accept that as we exercise our will we also implement the will of God. This attitude is found not only in Christianity, but among mystics and devotees in other religions.”….

    However, I think attempts like this are faulty. “Balancing” omniscience and omnipotence (and omnipresence) is equivalent to denying the full strength of any of these qualities.

    More broadly, as I said in my earlier post, our attempts to build a rational structure which explains this mystery are in fact a fruitless attempt to grasp the ungraspable, and are actually an impediment to spiritual understanding.

    I tend to agree with you. The acceptance on faith is at least an honest approach. It accepts that God defies logic as we know it. The second approach gives the impression of trying to warp logic to fit what we want to believe rather than to allow logic to inform our beliefs.

  91. 91
    StephenB says:

    VJ Thanks again. I am very sorry for your injury.

    You write,

    Foreknowledge from a timeless perspective doesn’t negate free will. Seeing the future isn’t the same as causing the future.

    Precisely. We agree on that point. There is no conflict between God’s foreknowledge (Of course, as you know, God just “knows,” technically, he doesn’t “foreknow”) and man’s free will.

    I answer that it depends on whether the future events in question are (a) necessary, (b) contingent, but decided by God (e.g. when the world will end), (c) contingent human choices, or (d) contingent effects (direct or indirect) of human choices. For categories (c) and (d) I would hold that God’s knowledge of those events is indeed (timelessly) caused by the events.

    If God’s knowledge of future contingent events (human choices) is caused by something outside of God, namely the events themselves, then it seems that God is not omniscient since His knowledge is dependent on those events. I would argue that God can know future events by simply comprehending them just as He comprehends all other truths and all other historical facts. As we discussed earlier, to know is not to cause. Thus, human free will is preserved. Just because God knows the stock market is going to crash doesn’t mean that He caused it to happen. Nor does it mean, I would argue, that His knowledge of the event is dependent on that event.

  92. 92
    StephenB says:

    Of course, If a certain human choice will never be made, then obviously God cannot know about it because there is nothing to know. The event must, in fact, happen or God will not know about it. In this trivial sense, I suppose, the event could be the cause of God’s knowledge. However, that would not seem to be an instance of God “being informed” of an event. It is, rather, a simple logical requirement:An event is not knowable unless it is a real event.

  93. 93
    GaryGaulin says:

    KF at 81:

    The underlying issue is epistemological-logical and with implications for metaphysics/ontology and ethics as well.

    Yes, I am pointing back to the core intellectual discipline, philosophy and its major branches.

    Let no one imagine him-/her-self well educated who has not taken time to acquaint himself or herself with sufficient of such to appreciate the issues that surround worldview foundations. And, to be able to at least trace in outline how many key issues trace to such underlying considerations.

    I am finding instead that many in our day lack a good basic foundation in core philosophy to undertake critical analysis of worldviews (unsurprising given education systems), and when issues of that order come up they are too often unwilling to address the meta issues that are pivotal for soundly addressing the initial issues.

    You are again trying to make it appear that the human ability we were born with for figuring out how things work or happened (science) came from your personal philosophical religion. You even have to change your own rules for eyewitnesses of “levitation” performed by people of other religions.

    Regardless of what certain philosophers might want the public to believe: science is NOT a branch of philosophy. That is simply part of how you rationalize your situation.

    Where the theory that I defend is used to help understand what is happening: making exceptions for certain information (hypotheses) being true or false will cause the confidence gauging (hedonic) system of the brain to wrongly sense a %100 success rate in your getting to where you want to go in life, which results in the “religious high” that makes it seem like you cannot be wrong. Your first impulse is then to blame “science” for your problems even though a person does not even need to be a “scientist” to know that is not how people logically reason things out. Here we have several competing religions with eyewitnesses galore for the same or greater feats of divine levitation, yet your scientific evaluation is that all but one of them must be wrong?

    With religious philosophy like this suddenly becoming like a whole new pop-science industry the situation has amazingly become like what Dr Parkinson declared:

    Dire Straits – Industrial Disease
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUUdax5VFMQ

  94. 94
    kairosfocus says:

    GG

    Pardon but this is again a fallacy of personalising and polarising.

    There is such a thing as philosophy of science, which Wiki for convenience describes: >>Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth.>>

    It is interesting to compare an older version from Wikipedia preserved at The Free Dictionary:

    The philosophy of science is concerned with all the assumptions, foundations, methods, implications of science, and with the use and merit of science. This discipline sometimes overlaps metaphysics, ontology and epistemology, viz., when it explores whether scientific results comprise a study of truth. In addition to these central problems of science as a whole, many philosophers of science consider problems that apply to particular sciences (e.g. philosophy of biology or philosophy of physics). Some philosophers of science also use contemporary results in science to reach conclusions about philosophy.

    Philosophy of science has historically been met with mixed response from the scientific community. Though scientists often contribute to the field, many prominent scientists have felt that the practical effect on their work is limited.

    When science, mathematics and logic are on the table there are meta issues that are relevant. These issues point to conceptual, foundational, admittedly difficult and often controversial questions.

    They exist.

    Nor, will they go away quietly if we studiously ignore or dismiss them.

    Trying to brush them aside or dismiss them simply allows an unexamined metaphysics to dominate our praxis. Something long known to be most ill advised.

    That is a reason why I have long considered that those studying science should do a base course with major foci on the history phil and ethics of science in society.

    And BTW, there is a reason why my home discipline, physics, used to be termed natural philosophy.

    KF

  95. 95
    GaryGaulin says:

    KF, your issues with science are easily solved by your being scientific, for a change. If cannot even do that then you should not be complaining.

    It should be easy enough for you to do like others do and admit when your philosophical/religious opinions are philosophical/religious opinions. Trying to pass that off as scientific reasoning will only cause you and others more grief.

  96. 96
    kairosfocus says:

    GG, scientism is not the same as scientific. KF

  97. 97
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: As an indicator of the significance of Sci or Eng in Society professional and ethics courses, the exemplar I referred to in doing curriculum development highlighted abuse of science and engineering during the holocaust. KF

  98. 98
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: For convenience, Wiki on Philosophy:

    Philosophy is the study of the general and fundamental nature of reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2][3] [–> I add, by means of reasoned dialogue among the well informed as guided by critical assessment of the best available knowledge claims and through comparative difficulties of alternative answers to the hard questions that attach to such themes, hard by virtue of having no easy non-difficult answers that can stand the test of factual adequacy, coherence, and balanced explanatory power . . . ] The Ancient Greek word . . . (philosophia) was probably coined by Pythagoras[4] and literally means “love of wisdom” or “friend of wisdom”.[5][6][7][8][9] Philosophy has been divided into many sub-fields. It has been divided chronologically (e.g., ancient and modern); by topic (the major topics being epistemology, logic, metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics [–> five main branches]); and by style (e.g., analytic philosophy). [–> also there is a cluster of sub branches addressing specific disciplines, e.g political philosophy, phil of science, etc]

    As a method, philosophy is often distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its questioning, critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.[10] As a noun, the term “philosophy” can refer to any body of knowledge.[11] Historically, these bodies of knowledge were commonly divided into natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysical philosophy.[9] In casual speech, the term can refer to any of “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group,” (e.g., “Dr. Smith’s philosophy of parenting”).[12]

    KF

  99. 99
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N2: Similarly for convenience, Wiki on worldview:

    A comprehensive world view or worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view. A world view can include natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.[1] The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung [roughly, velt-an-shaah-ung] ( listen), composed of Welt (‘world’) and Anschauung (‘view’ or ‘outlook’)[2] The German word is also used in English.

    It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.

    If one takes a claim A of some significance,and asks, why accept it, it leads to B a set of underlying themes. In turn, why accept B. C. And so forth, forcing us to look at infinite regress, or circularity that is question begging, or else a set of finitely remote first plausibles F, say, sustained in the face of alternatives through comparative difficulties across F1, F2, . . . Fn as live main options. Where, in the end at this level, there are not a lot of “people in the room” as main options. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice in this election. With your soul and our civilisation on the line.

    The set of first, foundational or root plausibles is the framework of one’s worldview. It is also one’s faith-point, the set of things taken on trust that frame how one looks at everything else. (Perhaps, Susan Haack’s idea of foundherentism linked to issues of explanatory power may be a way to best understand the force of this framing.)

    Yes there are disputes on “foundations” but as a spider web shows, the belief web rests on anchor lines that are tied to a cluster of anchor-points. Likewise a Neurath’s raft metaphor rests on a core framework that gives strength and it must rest on both the ocean and the principles/forces of flotation.

    A similar theme would obtain from say a spaceship such as the infamous Borg cubes of Star Trek TNG.

    Major alternatives in our time are:

    I: ethical theism [typically defined on the cluster of what are now called the Abrahamic faiths, but embracing what has been called the God of the Philosophers],

    II: evolutionary materialist (and often scientistic-atheistical) secularist naturalism,

    III: Pantheism or possibly panentheism.

    Of course, incoherent blends of elements of the three are commonplace.

    I would further argue that any species of monism — reducing all to one substance — ends in insuperable difficulties accounting for responsible freedom; which is critical for us to be able to have a reasonable and responsible dialogue.

    Thirdly, I have argued and continue to argue that scientism — the notion that all knowledge or all serious knowledge is “science” — becomes self refuting as this is an epistemological stance. Linked, that evolutionary materialistic naturalism is self refuting as an example of the monist problem.

    Accordingly, I hold with the classical philosophers, that the problem of the one and the many, of unity and diversity in a common ordered world in which we are responsibly free rational and morally governed beings, is pivotal.

    KF

  100. 100
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N3: Merriam-Webster on Scientism:

    Definition of scientism

    1
    : methods and attitudes typical of or attributed to the natural scientist

    2
    : an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)

    sci·en·tis·tic play \?s?-?n-?tis-tik\ adjective

    KF

  101. 101
    kairosfocus says:

    Aleta:

    “There are two different approaches sometimes made to living with this mystery. One is to acquiesce, to accept through faith that God has reconciled this dilemma, and to accept that as we exercise our will we also implement the will of God. This attitude is found not only in Christianity, but among mystics and devotees in other religions.”….

    However, I think attempts like this are faulty. “Balancing” omniscience and omnipotence (and omnipresence) is equivalent to denying the full strength of any of these qualities.

    More broadly, as I said in my earlier post, our attempts to build a rational structure which explains this mystery are in fact a fruitless attempt to grasp the ungraspable, and are actually an impediment to spiritual understanding.

    On the contrary, the context is always, that reality is coherent . . . on pain that we would have chaos not cosmos. So, the only sense that God can be all-knowing, all-powerful, and present every where and when, is one in which the concepts are understood in a mutually coherent way. Otherwise they lose meaning.

    Likewise, on the premise that rational responsible discussion requires that we be responsibly free [albeit limited], there is going to be coherence with this.

    My pivotal point is that in Him we live and move and have our being; as an apostle once approvingly quoted two pagan poets and thinkers in conversing with the leading philosophical schools of his day.

    Thus, God is the basis on which all power arises, and our powers are in effect borrowed from him: all power belongs to God. Further as God is [timelessly] present everywhere and every-when, he is instantly aware of the world as actualised as well as contemplating the world as it could have been otherwise. This means he is all knowing.

    At the same time, he has delegated to us powers of reason, powers of volition under moral government and powers of acting with consequences into the space-time physical world by virtue of our being embodied.

    Thus, divine restraint is to be expected, especially in a world of the test of soul-making in which freedom is the premise of a whole class of higher virtues pivoting on genuine ability to love. God for the moment tolerates partial twisting of the goods he has blessed us with in interests of a higher order outcome that pivots on freedom used with mature responsibility, insight and good intent. In that pursuit he is also redeemer, rescuer, liberator and healer; indeed per Isa 53, THE Wounded Healer.

    Yes, there lurk profundities and mysteries there but these things are not without sufficient coherence and explanatory power that we cannot see them as having powerfully insightful factual adequacy.

    KF

  102. 102
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT: OUCH, trust things are a tad better. KF

  103. 103
    sk93 says:

    Not in all cases ! When we see something beautiful we wonder often times , who would be the person that have designed it ? for example : cars,monuments etc….right ?

    We see this beautiful universe running in order without a flaw and there a billion factors that has to be perfect for life to be possible on earth. Off course it is not possible without the divine intervention of God…

    There are few people who might feel if super natural is for real and you need to refer this article in particular

    http://mentalismknowledge.com/mind-reading/

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