The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Sword to the Heart (Full 3rd Edition+links to Sections)

Series 103: presuppositionalism vs. progression to a worldview

some religious believers also deny progression by analysis to a worldview concerning God’s existence and characteristic; Presuppositionalists (Scriptural and Theological); inerrancy; Presup tactic sometimes used for ‘safely grenading’ opponents; resistance to this hardly a sign of sinful intransigence (same people also resist similar attempts against them!); better usage: preserving a set of already established beliefs; kind of ignores how those beliefs established in the first place; Presups put those beliefs first as the only possible way of successfully interpreting reality; Scriptural Presuppositionalist: only God can be ground for any true proposition, and only way to discover aspects of God is through inspired scripture, thus scriptures must be used as standard for deciding truth of any other proposition; doesn’t usually involve trying to answer every question by scripture, but rejects any answer that contradicts ‘clear’ meaning of scriptural teaching; ‘clearness’ can be more than a little muddy!; would deny that an answer (on theological/metaphysical/philosophical topics) reached ‘apart from scripture’, even though in agreement with scripture, could not have actually been reached apart from scripture; more on inerrancy theory; Theological Presuppositionalist puts full worldview first (as a more technical procedure); attempts to illustrate that God’s presumed characteristics allow us to account for more of reality than another presuppositional set; as abductive argument, not necessarily faulty method; sometimes attempted as deductive argument, though, to protect presuppositional set from falsification; this is cheating (circular argument worthless); glorious circularity no help to sceptic; can be played just as easily by sceptic, too!; Script-Presup has even harder job; claims of self-grounding written material cancel out each other; “Bible!” “Koran!” “Bible!” “Koran!” “Little Red Book!”, blam; abductive system-check duel of some good use, however; pick at perceived problems in each other’s systems while defending; last one with a working system may be considered winner!; but no motivation and no provision for keeping entire complex argument of any side in view; highlights and magnifies adversarial aspect; ‘loser’ always has infallible escape hatch; deductive progress ironically more tolerant, inviting shared discovery; must proceed from shared common grounding, though; presuppositions still necessary for beginning, but identify shared presups–to be attempted later

Chapter 3 – “Reason and Faith”

Series 104: one brief history of the faith/reason dichotomy

discovery of God’s characteristics, of no benefit unless acted upon; but discovery not the same thing as striking against a true relationship with God; but aren’t faith and reason mutually exclusive?; blaspheming to suggest that ‘human reason’ can search out Infinite?; history of faith/reason dichotomy among Christians, shows it is deployed to protect religion against challenge; extra-likely to be deployed when stakes are perceived to be ultimately high (risk of hopeless damnation); fortress mentality is quick, seems safe and effective–disputation is dangerous, difficult, not easily understood and accepted; competency of reasoning hard to judge; crushing irony: faith vs. reason lesson learned very well by sceptics; no reason given to believe, not surprisingly no belief; poor/weak reasons given, even less surprising no belief!; faith-only believer likely to be arrogant–mistaking privileges for humble submission; divorcing reason from faith leads to impotency of Christian witnessing, Biblical testimony, even on topic of God helping unbeliever

Series 105: an important recognition about religious faith

the ‘simple’ faith believer still has reasons for faith!; likely to be noticed by sceptic (if not by believer through habit); drawing conclusions from evidence of testimony (teachers, preachers, friends, family, Bible, Holy Spirit), still reasoning; “the Bible tells me so”, but belief in Bible usually comes from other people telling so!; discovering such fairly weak reasons can lead to scepticism; doesn’t keep those reasons from being reasons, and still existing in the background; rock has no reasons to believe, doesn’t believe; 3rd century Aborigine is ahead of rock, but has no data to draw inferences from, therefore does not believe (in Christian religion anyway); person raised from childhood in strong Christian culture has reasons to believe: parents, preacher, teacher tell him it is true, and he finds them to be reliable, thus…; easy to not recognize these inferences as inferences (simple, common, habitual); few if any mission outreaches explicitly say “you should accept Christianity because my preacher says it is true"; ultimately most witnessing and training in the Church boils down to this; sceptic then treats believers as hypocrites or fools for piously telling her to be like them and trust God with ‘faith’ instead of reason; strategy also repudiates Judeo-Christian scripture testimony itself; God gives evidence to people in OT, becomes angry when they refuse to believe despite having proof and signs; miracles of Jesus and Apostles function as “attesting signs” for the people as evidence (though Jesus doesn’t like using them primarily for that, and often refuses to when this is only goal in view from audience); not wire-thin metaphysical reasoning, but still reasoning to belief; not (usually) the kind of evidence found today (though some of that still goes on), but still evidence; Jesus warns people held responsible if they fall into error because they just don’t want to bother to figure out truth themselves; Thomas not rebuked in GosJohn for demanding evidence; Thomas not in position of speculative philosopher trying to find truth, either–boatloads of evidence already; other apostles had been in same boat already–more than one “doubting Thomas”; Thomas gives fullest assent when given requested evidence; metaphysical disputes carried out by first Christians, likely to be different than modern versions; reasoning still reasoning; Scripture testifies that drawing inferences from evidence leads to acceptance of religious truth

Chapter 4 – “Belief and Reason”

Series 106: belief and reason

‘faith’ involves ‘belief’ and ‘trust’; shall concentrate on ‘belief’ aspect of faith until discover someone to trust; rational belief, irrational belief–important distinctions; Robin Williams comedy routine: golfer hopped on cocaine has paranoid beliefs as result; impulses resulting from interaction of cocaine with neural chemistry combined through physical assocation resulting in sensory impressions from being on golf course; a ‘belief’ develops: there is a snake in the hole of the 14th green; this ‘belief’ a real, objective event in brain and in psychology of perception; but an irrational belief (per my stringent particular usage of ‘irrational’)–produced purely as unintended by-produce of non-rational biochemical reactions; content of this ‘belief’ not necessarily false!; but no connection to reality except by incidental environmental linkage; could be building block for more irrational beliefs or for rational beliefs; a new round of automatic association results in more irrational beliefs; actively analyzing first belief-impression result and draw inferences from it–rational belief results; why rational instead of irrational?; depends on whether second belief matches reality?–no; mistakes not necessarily irrational; depends on irrationality of first belief?–no; results may be physically indistinguishable either way; difference is in intention, initiative; cocaine has no intent, only non-intentional behavior; factually correct result does not make difference; most people accept and understand that non-rationally produced belief cannot be trusted in and of itself; can only be trusted on grounds different from ostensible claim of non-rational belief

Series 107: a question of external validation of reasoning

still using Robin Williams comedy routine as example from previous series of entries); my brother Spencer decides my belief of snake in hole is fostered purely from cocaine-fit; no good reason to believe snake is there; no reason to be embarrassed if snake is there after all; my rational argument to stay away from hole also ultimately untrustworthy–no anchor of rationality at beginning; no good reason for Bro to pay attention to my idea with respect to what I claimed for it; no good reason to pay attention to me on this idea; could pay attention to real character of my ‘belief’–better not let me drive the cart!; no sceptic accepts “the God Module” producing ‘belief’ in God as proper grounds for accepting God exists; foundation of belief must be rational, or judged by another initiator to be worthwhile despite non-rational foundation; Bro might draw conclusions about irrational ‘belief’ plus other evidence to justify conclusion similar to irrational ‘belief’; what difference on standard physicalist account of normal belief formation?; no difference, still non-rational; true to the fact from which it directly results, but still non-rational (or ‘irrational’ if happening to normally rational entity); Bro’s rational verification of my ir-or-non-rational belief, does not make my belief rational; a belief, far from being necessarily mutually exclusive to reason, can outright depend upon reasoning; faith always involves some kind of belief; thus religious faith may be based on reasoning, and can be more worth paying attention to insofar as reasoning is involved; (other far-reaching implications from discussion of belief-formation, deferred until Series 200)

Series 108: belief without reason?

previous analysis suggests every real belief requires acted inference of believer; delirium after being snakebit doesn’t necessarily mean ‘I believe’ what I am saying in delirium about being snakebit; unconscious person is purely reacting; parrot may react to environment with words that have ‘meaning’; doesn’t believe what it is saying; may consciously infer (like some religious leaders and politicians!) it will be fed if it says words; still not same as believing what it says; parrot conscious of meaning can believe what it says, unconscious of meaning (in various ways), no; every belief, including religious belief, still seems to require reasoning in order to exist as belief; fideistic theist claims instead that sheer action of asserting a proposition entails a belief; rejects all reasonable support as spurious, debateable, maybe unbecoming the dignity of God; all support means scriptural support, too! (faith/reason dichotomy leads yet again to rejection of whatever makes Christianity specifically “Christian”–fortress mentality no real safeguard against ‘heresy’); several reasons to choose fideism; all reasons to choose fideism involve reasoning!; fideist cannot successfully argue that beliefs and attitudes about God should and/or cannot be grounded on reasons–tacitly ignoring her own chain of reasoning to her own attiude and belief about God; what about pure, total assertion of fideism, rejecting even reasons for fideism?; result is indistinguishable from no belief about God at all; assertions obviously not necessarily beliefs in other cases; fideist’s ‘belief’ must have content or else no belief; if asserting one piece of content (God exists), why not others?; can be no reason not to even merely assert other details; hyperfideist ends in mere zero, or else with ultiamtely arbitrary characteristic set; inaccessible to other people; technically inaccessible to hyperfideist, too!; certainly can have no reason to bar anyone else from at least trying to do better than merely asserting characteristics; if ultimately transcendent God exists, is it arrogant fatuity to claim particular characteristics can be discovered and known?; no more arrogant than sheer assertion on any point!; already discovered that characteristics of Ultimate Reality not intrinsically undiscoverable; neither assertion nor reasoning makes God exist or have various intrinsic characteristics; discovery may be humble in procedure and results; may place priority on actual truth instead of wishful assertion or forcing desired conclusion; not necessarily exercise in prideful self-acclimation

Series 109: religious belief and reasoning

whether Nature is final reality or not, Nature cannot be fully understood; still we discover apparent truths about Nature and its operations and character all the time; if Nature is ultimate, hasn’t stopped scientists from learning and believing details about it; if Nature is ultimate, hasn’t stopped pantheists from learning and believing details about it; supernaturalists (atheist or theist) may have extra problem, though; 2-D man, 3-D reality; if 2-D man has no 3-D properties, cannot discover or understand any 3-D reality; even one 3-D property, though, might be an open door to understand as much as can be understood about 3-D; thread out of black box, might be followed; does thread exist?–topic for later; non-sentient Nature or Supernature (atheism), cannot act to bar inquiry; sentient Nature or Supernatural (theism), God might choose to bar inquiry; or might choose not to bar; might even choose to help; no way to tell from outset, so no immediate bar to proceed; does God only help through scripture?; Judeo-Christian scriptures clearly say God does not solely (or even most often) rely on scriptures!–can and does even work through details of other religions, too; important to agree with competition on shared details; pretending shared agreement does not exist, only fosters discord; also cheating; certainly isn’t evangelism; only way to judge between competing claims (including competing scriptures) is by reasoning; even comparing scriptural message with internal witness of Holy Spirit, still reasoning; to deny reason in faith, even denies potential of God’s witness to myself as person; throwing away or denying reasoning, leaves me in no better shape than rock; rock cannot have personal relationship with anything (including God); Satan tempts Eve (in story of Genesis 3) not with lure of ‘knowledge’ per se (‘knowledge of good and evil’ not total field of ‘knowledge’), but with lures that could only be obviously false to her from her advantages; lied about God being threatened by Eve’s potential; Eve pretends she doesn’t already know perfectly well what will happen; Adam doesn’t even need discussion!; both people in story (fictional or mythical or literal) willingly ignore fact that they can and should think cogently about God; result is not being closer to God!; several promises from God in Judeo-Christian scriptures about shutting our eyes and ears and presuming we nevertheless ‘know God’; reason and belief (including as religious faith) inextricably linked; reason and trust (including as religious faith) in same boat; reason at least necessary ingredient in faith; fideistic philosophy found to be self-contradictory and/or meaningless; not being able to know everything isn’t same as not being able to know some or even lots of details; the attempt can be attempted!; creation of psychological state may function like a ‘belief’, but would not be a belief, even if created by God; at best, God believing through me, not ‘me’ believing ‘with’ God; totally forced belief violates any foundation of free love to personally return to God, too; patently obvious God doesn’t create such ‘forced beliefs’ anyway (from world religious history); hypothetical possibilities, obviously refuted by experience, not bars to inquiry; contradictory pseudo-problems not bars to inquiry either

Chapter 5 – “Against Contradictions”

Series 110: Contradictions and Paradoxes

Rejection of contradictions already a major theme so far; the 6=16 paradigm; the emotion of confusion; two ways our thoughts cannot ‘comprehend’ something; not going to be able to comprehend the totality of reality in any case; not going to be able to completely comprehend the final ground of reality in anycase (whether theism or atheism or naturalism or supernaturalism is true); cannot fully understand entities within Nature either; incomprehensible (in this sense) is not the same as unintelligible; examples of limits to comprehension in Nature; limits themselves are in fact intelligible; we can expect similar limits if God exists; overuse of this recognition as a safety-box strategy by theists; overuse does not abolish the fair principle; ‘Awe of the Sublime’; proper to study of Nature (if Nature exists!); proper to study of God, too, if God exists; proper even though incomprehensibility is not contradictive; a theist may be led to equate this proper feeling particularly with God; two errors: any proper consideration of God must always generate this feeling, any generation of this feeling must be proper consideration of God; combination of errors: the best or only way to think about God is to fabricate expressions of this experience; contradictory propositions create this feeling, too; thus some theists consider contradictions Divine hallmark or sanction; multiple truths about real things == paradox; paradox not the same as contradiction; paradox signals more knowledge to be gained, for understanding situation; a natural paradox–no proper contradiction involved in particle/wave behavior of photon; paradox might not be resolvable, due to intrinsic characteristics of object–not due to contradiction; impossibility of calculating speed and position of electron simultaneously; leads to positively learning and understanding truth about situation; easy to confuse contradiction with legitimate paradox; hard sometimes to identify legitimate paradox, easier to just ‘accept contradictions’; appreciation of feeling + disparaging of rational inquiry leads to trying to value actual contradictions

Series 111: Contra Contradictions

Theists who rely on explicitly generating contradictions about God, end up denying the reality of God; a chief reason why sceptics of theism are sceptical; such a strategy also denies the witness of Judeo-Christian scriptures about the fundamental and reliable coherence of God; paradox does not require denying this coherence, contradiction does; the famous ‘boulder too heavy to lift’ sceptical rebuttal of omnipotence; rejection of the terms of the test does not even require believing God exists; brief consideration of rebellion against omnipotence – can be paradox, not necessarily contradiction; importance of detecting actual logical contradictions and eliminating them in various ways; important for theology or for atheology; relying on contradictions for building belief or unbelief leads to fruitless foxhole competitions; importance of paradox and contradiction involves question of actual characteristics; leads to question of abstract generality being a superior way of considering God’s existence.

Chapter 6 – “Could God Be An Abstract Generality?”

Series 112 – “an introduction to generaleism (or final abstraction”)

Reassurances to sceptical readers; reassurances to orthodox Christian readers; a new potential objection to reasoning out metaphysical answers: God has no particular characteristics to discover, being instead a pure abstraction or generality; thus God transcends our ability to think about Him; agreement that God must in some ways transcend out ability to think about Him (which would still be true of the final reality if atheism is true instead); two simplistic proposals of transcendence to reason; a more complex proposal; simplistic proposals ‘transcend’ discursive thought by negating discursive thought; criticism of the first simplistic proposal (‘nothing we say about God can be true’): already done previously but summarized again; second simplistic proposal waived for discussion until later; moving on to third, more realistically nuanced proposal; and an initial statement against it.

Series 113 – particular problems with generaleism

What is a generality?; a description about something, distinct from being something; ‘pink’ is a generality for describing a photon’s particular vibratory state; the reality of that-which-is-described transcends our descriptions of it; even the non-reality of described non-realities transcends our description of the non-reality; our descriptions conform, or not, to the actual properties even of flying spaghetti monsters; the ‘real’ is that which generates or creates ‘general’ patterns; descriptions communicate or record actualities (even the actuality of non-reality); a description is also itself some kind of reality of course (which points maybe too far ahead of the argument!); ‘laws of Nature’ describe what physical particles of energy and material can and will do in particular circumstances; ‘laws of Nature’ (like aerodynamics) do not themselves accomplish anything; nor do ‘laws of accounting’, as another example; some principles derived from all this; to say God (or whatever the final fact is) is ‘abstract’ or ‘a generality’ is to say God is only a potential not an actual; it is to say that God (or final reality) does not actually exist; if reality does not actually exist, though, neither do ‘generaleists’ actually exist; at best, accepting a generaleist (someone promoting the idea of final abstraction) leads to ignoring the generaleist, and his supposed ‘ideas’, as non-real–self-contradictory; atheists, theists, naturalists, supernaturalists, most kinds of philosophers finally stand together against generaleism; best plan is to keep going, trying to figure out particular characteristics of final reality; for example, should we believe there is only one final reality?–why not multiple final realities?–or even an infinite regression of realities?

Chapter 7 – “In Question Of Infinite Regression and Infinite Possibilities”

Series 114 – an introduction to independence

my “IF” acronym doesn’t mean I’m being ultimately hypothetical about the existence of the “Independent Fact”; recalling the preceding argument vs. ultimate abstraction or generaleism; application when studying the evident system of Nature; philosophical naturalism; an abductive inference for phil-nat; one deductive argument against supernaturalism; only works if the Supernatural is supposed to be an ultimate abstraction; naturalism or supernaturalism could be most actually real; connections to Ontological Argument; basic OntA == if A exists, then by inference B exists; A could be dependent on B or vice versa; theistic OntA == if anything exists, then by inference God exists; Cosmological Argument is variant of theistic OntA; philosophical CosA == if Nature exists, then by inference God exists (and is supernatural); kalam CosA == if Nature (per scientific examination) is non-eternal, then by inference God exists (and is supernatural); theistic CosA and theistic OntA both make unwarranted logical jumps, taken only by themselves; but why should we believe only one IF anyway?–what about infinite regression?

Series 115 – in question of infinite regression

an introduction to ontological infinite regression; one kind of supernaturalism; infinite regression leads to failure of logical justification; we habitually presume that somewhere behind explanations is a reality that just is; we may find that we have not reached the ground of all explanations, but this is very different from proposing there is no such final ground; ontological infinite regression attempts to propose that there is no such final ground; turtles all the way down :mrgreen: (wave at Jeff!); even simple math statements would be ultimately unreliable if infinite regression is true; reasons deploying or appealing to an infinite regression (such as against Christianity or atheism being true) would also be ultimately unreliable if infinite regression is true; also, inf-reg proposals end up necessarily implying a final explanatory fact after all; turtles all the way down (for example) must be turtles all the way down and not even possibly explainable in terms of something else more fundamentally basic; an infinite regress must be self-existently what it is and there is an end to it; but that’s an Independent Fact, not an infinite regress; infinite regressors must make tacit exception against infinite regression being true, even to try to seriously propose or appeal to it as true; the IF (including any supposed ‘infinite regression’) cannot be explainable by further appeal to something else; a deployment of this concept by philosophical naturalists against a too-simple supernaturalistic argument; the too simple supernat argument tacitly assumes that anything we can ask the question of origin about, must have an origin instead of being self-existent; naturalists rightly complain that this leads to an infinite regression unless the too-simple supernaturalist cheats in his own favor; no escape for infinite regression by this route either: how did infinite regression “come to exist”?; we end up, whichever way we go, explicitly or implicitly requiring the existence of an ultimate Fact that is not dependent on anything else, and so is not caused by anything else; infinite regressor complains that uncaused cause is contradiction, thus no worse than his own position; uncaused causation may in fact be self-contradictory proposal; self-causing causation, however, is not; the principle difference between privative and positive aseity; at least one non-contradictory option, therefore; (but leaving aside final decision between privative and positive aseity until later); various ways different philosophies agree with existence of an Independent Fact; but how far can they be in agreement with each other?

Series 116 – in question of infinite possibilities

considering whether everything we say about God (or the IF) is (or even can be) true; seems like (and is typically promoted as) a sensitive, refined, tolerant belief leading to peace between people; but three people with three categorically different beliefs about the IF, cannot even meet to seriously discuss and appreciate each other’s beliefs without each of them believing something different from each other to be true; they cannot seriously, in practice, agree that everything everyone else is saying about the IF is equally correct; they would each have to become a very particular kind of pantheist (not even every kind of pantheist!); but then, so much for protecting and valuing and respecting differences of belief; commonly presented as a way of respecting and acknowledging diversity, but leads when practiced to one and only one belief that is not really any other kind of belief; paradoxically, protection and respect of people’s different beliefs requires rejecting idea that all possible beliefs about IF are equally true; and in practice, proponents of all-beliefs-equally-true do not and cannot mean what they are saying; impossible to mean that all beliefs are equally true including all beliefs which deny all beliefs are equally true; proponents tend to fail to keep their standard in ethical practice, too, by condemning beliefs which lead (or seem to lead) to sorrow and tragedy; serious ethical condemnation requires rejecting idea that all ideas about IF are equally worthy (and/or true); the principle being appealed to has to be abandoned in order to act according to the goal for which the principle was appealed to; therefore, I cannot really consider all claims about the IF to be true; nor, as previously demonstrated, can I really consider all claims about the IF to be false; this leaves the third option: whatever the IF is, there are claims about the IF that are true, and claims that are false, and perhaps there are claims that are true about It under one condition and false under another; but even if infinite regression and infinite possibilities being true about IF are false, could there not be a limited number of Independent Facts, each with their own particular characteristics?

Chapter 8 – “In Question Of Multiple IFs”

Series 117

categorical differences between an infinite regression and multiple Independent Facts; turtles all the way across (instead of all the way down); principles of multiple IFs may be fully considered by reference to only two IFs, however; ontological (or sometimes ‘cosmological’) dualism; difference between this and some other philosophical topics labeled ‘dualism’ (e.g. not the same as mind-body dualism); two popular examples of ont-du: God/Nature dualism and God/Anti-God dualism; differences between those types; in G/N-du, we exist within one of the IFs (Nature); in G/Anti-G-du, we exist in a Nature generated corporately by the IFs; the two IFs can have no power to affect one another; any sentient IF could have power to allow being affected, but usually Nature is not considered sentient in modern forms of this dualism; if God has absolutely no relation to Nature at all, then we can have no evidential ground, nor even any ground in principle, to rationally infer God’s existence–God might as well not exist at all; also, no relation between IFs means no commonly shared characteristic of existence either; G/N-du practically and principally indistinguishable from atheistic naturalism (a single-IF philosophy); or else God and Nature both exist within common overarching existence–thus not IFs after all; back to a single Independent Fact again (supernaturalistic this time, atheistic or theistic); God/Anti-God Dualism actually worse off as a proposal: the two IFs would be acting equally and oppositely to each other at every possible point; thus no generation of Nature possible; much less, no evidential result within Nature possible; cannot possibly be reason to infer their existence–back to some kind of philosophical naturalism (atheistic or theistic) again; God/Nature theistic dualism (Sky-Father, Earth-Mother) ends up having all previously mentioned fatal weaknesses; with added weakness that it clearly recognizes the two IFs must be principally opposite one another (in order to try avoiding any commonly shared characteristics, thus pointing to some existence overarching both entities), yet doesn’t go the distance with that concept; thinking through implications of ontological dualisms leads me straight back to affirming one single IF of some kind (natural or supernatural, theistic or atheistic); a brief distinction between trinitarian theism and ontological dualism (more to be discussed later); also, a distinction between Satan as rebel derivative entity, and Satan as equally Independent Anti-God; brings up topic of Very Powerful Derivative Entities (or gods) compared to God

Chapter 9 – “God and gods”

Series 118

What I can discover and reason out about the IF–the base of all reality–will affect the scope of intrinsic possibilities of any future propositions I have discovered; e.g., if philosophical naturalism is true, then entities similar to ‘angels’ and ‘devils’ might exist, but they couldn’t be supernatural entities; similarly, in some Greek polytheistic systems, the final ground of reality is Chaos, from which come the gods (and the Titans); the Greek gods are therefore not IFs, but only very powerful derivative entities; the question of whether such entities exist is not a primary one for metaphysics (interesting though that question may also be); rather, any such questions ought to be postponed until I figure out what properties the IF itself has; Mormonism (or a popular form of it anyway) involves very powerful derivative entities, too; Mormonism is not a religion about God as the final ground of all reality, but about a derivative creature evolving up to derivative godhood and going off (with his wife!) to breed and raise more entities just like himself; that may or may not be true, but I want to find out what the characteristics of the Final Fact are; the Big Three Theisms (Judaism, Islam, and most other Christianities) are trying to talk about this final ground of existence, this Independent Fact; as is atheism, for that matter; discovering any characteristics of the IF should at least potentially give me some guidelines about evaluating existence and characteristic claims concerning powerful but derivative entities in the various religions; but am I facetiously distinguishing between theism and atheism–or should I not at least consider a third category of claim for the IF?

Chapter 10 – “SIF/n-SIF vs. ??”

Series 119 – theism and atheism?

So far I have been presenting (and arguing) as though the Independent Fact has two most cogent options: sentient and non-sentient (i.e. theistic and atheistic); but some people throughout history have tried to consider the IF to be both sentient and non-sentient; early Stoics: the IF is Reason, but this Reason doesn’t actively do anything; late 18th through early 20th century vitalists: the IF actively does things, and even has purposes of a sort, but is mindless and isn’t rational per se (or not yet anyway); ‘It really can think, but it really has no purposes and does not initiate action.’ ‘It really cannot think, but it really has purposes and does initiate action.’; either version of this concept is necessarily self-contradictory when referring to properties of final reality at the primary level; what can comparing and contrasting these claims can tell me about how we, as humans, perceive ‘sentience’?

Series 120: theism or atheism

One way to combine the SIF & n-SIF positions: the IF is a Mind, but it has no plans and does not initiate events; another way: he IF is not a Mind, but it has plans (or ‘purposes’) and initiates events (or ‘strives’); the first proposition offers an explanation for the apparent intelligibility of the universe; clearly affirms objective (if static) truths; reality is somewhat similar to us, as persons, foundationally; the purposeless and activeless Mind won’t bother us personally in any way; I can pay attention to it as a Mind when I want to, and when I feel like it; it is convenient to me; the second proposition offers living, purposeful action instead of a ‘cold, unfeeling’ mechanistic Nature; self-ordering must be in Nature’s character, so Nature must be up to something progressive (or ‘good’), if not for me exactly then for my descendants; I and Nature am alive; I can look back to see Nature bringing about–me!; but I needn’t worry about this purposeful Nature bothering me; its purposes are too simple, and are beneath my notice; I can pay attention to it as a Life when I want to, and when I feel like it; it is convenient to me; these two propositions obviously throw a sop to my own pride; The Divine either isn’t smart enough to understand its own plans, or despite being ‘rational’ it doesn’t have plans; atheism: there is no point in saying that the IF has Reason if It does not initiate purposeful actions, does not think, and is only blind, unconscious, automatic; theism: there is no point in saying the IF does not have Reason if It initiates actions, has purposes, plans; I will eventually be required to decide, if I can, whether the IF is sentient (as an action initiator that can, among other things, actively judge the coherency of linked propositions), or non-sentient (a blind, automatic, non-purposive mechanism that initiates no actions but very effectively reacts and counterreacts); the middle-grounder might reply that she was ‘only being metaphorical’ when she said the IF has Reason, or has ‘purposes’; she means something reductive–she means the reality is less, not more, than her description implied; also note this can only lead to a n-SIF proposition if it is followed through consistently–the middle-ground proponents could turn out to be atheists (of some sort) after all (not really middle-grounders); on the other hand, I don’t think reductionism is a very good example of what it means to speak ‘metaphorically’; removing some misconceptions about metaphor will help some people deal with claims about ‘religion’; so, to the topic of metaphor next.

Chapter 11 – “‘On’ Metaphor”

Series 121: thought and imagination

Appeal to reductive metaphors for resolving contradictions; reductive metaphors sacrifice anything like the apparent meaning of the term or phrase thus ‘metaphorized’; still, if it’s done fairly and the implications aren’t shuffled around for convenience, real progress can be made in hashing out implications; some examples of use and abuse of reductive metaphorization; reduction is also not the most common way we use metaphor; very commonly, we use metaphor to stand for (or ‘mean’) more, not less, than what imagery implies; thought is distinct from the imagination that accompanies it; sometimes that’s true without metaphor, too; an example without metaphor: epic music score playing in my head when I write apologetics; an example with metaphor: imagining spatial relations of Earth and Sun to each other; the imagery isn’t accurate, and cannot possibly be accurate; but orbital calculations don’t necessarily require the imagery to be fully (or even largely) accurate; only needs sufficient adequacy, not total accuracy; if I cannot express topic with total accuracy even to myself, how much less so can I express it to other persons; anyone who talks about things that cannot be sensory perceived, must inevitably talk as if sensory perceived; we cannot even receive (much less convey) a fully accurate sensory impression of relationship between things that can be perceived–much less things that cannot be perceived; this applies to everything in our experience; some examples based on appearance of a book; we cannot detect all the facts simultaneously and fully, nor even keep them all properly in our minds at once as abstract concepts; whether or not we know the extent to which we are being inaccurate, we still have to use extremely inaccurate sensory descriptions when communicating ideas to ourselves and to other people; other examples–a book can at least be partially perceived, but quantum physics particles cannot; one step further: understanding how inaccurate the words ‘understand’ and ‘one step further’ are to the mental events being currently expressed!; we never really see or hear or smell or taste or feel things in their completeness, but we must speak for convenience as if we do; we have no other way of communicating; not grounds for a complete philosophy of subjectivity or relativity–that would be self-refuting; neither can perfectly objective thought or perception be achieved (except perhaps by God, if the Independent Fact is God); God’s knowledge and expressions may be perfectly ‘literal’ (speaking creation into existence?); but even God cannot communicate to not-God entities with perfect literalness; communication must be what we can relate to, or no communication will occur at all; to insist otherwise would require that we be God’s equal in actuality, ability and independence; God’s metaphorical expressions will be fully adequate for whatever purposes He has in mind; then again, we might ought to be careful about concluding what purposes He has in mind.

Series 122: an unwanted level of religious complexity?

Shouldn’t scriptures be a ‘straight-up straight-out’ reading at all points?; but if Christian scriptures are at all historically reliable accounts, then they show us Jesus rarely giving a ‘literal’ answer to any question; the information he communicated to his followers was not always what they thought he was telling them; Jesus expects them to work it out themselves; if I insist that God would not tell anything other than the pure ‘literal’ truth which could not be added to in understanding, I would be implicitly denying the divinity of Jesus–because that is not the way he worked; nor is this helped by going back to the OT, where prophets are full of metaphorical imagery that is usually far from being super-literal; it helps though to remember, in how we ourselves do (and must) use language, metaphor usually means more not less than it appears to say; metaphors are shorthand ways of adequately (although somewhat inaccurately) expressing our ideas; a single expression or perception may easily be misleading–multiple perceptions or expressions of the same event or object usually provide us with a better composite ‘picture’ of what we are trying to think or say; presenting analogies as arguments, though, is a conclusion-killing gaffe; and not always easy to tell the difference; but the difference itself illustrates the point: metaphors are about something else–usually something more than the metaphor (by itself) implies; we must be careful not to automatically toss away every attendant proposition if a false image is mistaken for a true one; thought may be mainly sound even when the false images accompanying it are mistaken by the thinker for true ones; even if I mistake my mental images when doing orbital calcs, for being more accurate than they are, that doesn’t mean the results of my orbital calcs are false; Lewis uses the example of a girl who believes that the poison in lye is “horrid red things”; she has mistaken an imaginary mental association for reality, but she’s still entirely correct about it being poisonous!; nor did her belief about its toxicity ever rest on the mistaken mental imagery; the Ascension as a religious example; Ascension imagery gets across many salient points about a claim much ‘larger’ (and far more technical) than the imagery by itself would imply; wouldn’t even be surprising if God did allow witnesses to actually see that imagery–something they can understand but which allows expansion of detail for fuller understandings of the event; a 1st-century Palestinian sandal in geosynchronous orbit over Israel is not necessarily the kind of evidence to be expected if the story is true; leads to the question of evidence of supernatural activity.