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How Proofs for God Lead to Divine Simplicity

According to the First Vatican Council, the existence of God can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason through those things that have been created. (De Fide)1 Pope Pius X specified this statement more exactly by affirming that God’s existence can be known “as a cause is known with certainty through its effects, from those things that have been made, that is, by the visible works of creation….” (Sententia fidei proxima).2

Since every being must have a sufficient reason for its being or coming-to-be, an effect is properly defined as any being whose sufficient reason is not totally within itself. To the extent that a being fails to fully explain itself, some other being must be posited which supplies that reason which remains unexplained by the effect. That extrinsic sufficient reason is called a “cause.” Thus, while every cause is a sufficient reason, not every sufficient reason is a cause. God is his own sufficient reason, but it would be absurd to say that he is his own cause.

Since all human knowledge begins in sensation, it is reasonable that all proofs for God’s existence must begin with data taken from sensible creation. This starting point is then shown to be an effect of a cause – with a possible chain of intermediary causes leading back to an uncaused first cause, which can subsequently be demonstrated to be God.

Efficient Causality in St. Thomas' First Way

 
While St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous five ways to prove God’s existence, as presented in his Summa Theologiae,3 employ more than just the efficient, or making, cause (for example, the fifth way is clearly focused on the final cause), demonstration of God’s absolute simplicity can be accomplished by focusing exclusively on efficient causality.

The first way begins with the observation that “it is certain and most evident to the senses that some things are in motion.” As has been proven in an earlier article, “whatever is in motion must be being moved by another.” That “other” is a cause of motion or coming-to-be (causa fieri), which cause may be either an efficient, or making, cause – or, it may be a final cause. While modern readers of the argument from motion quite naturally tend to think of the movers as efficient causes of motion, it may come as a surprise to some to learn that Aristotle had in mind also final causes – so that his unmoved first mover moves things in motion by means of attraction, not efficient causality.

The modern understanding of causality as it takes place in motion tends to be influenced by David Hume -- so as to think of it as sequences of “events” in which prior ones causally influence subsequent ones. But, such “causality” does not meet metaphysical criteria, since a delay of even a nanosecond between cause and effect would entail that the cause might be non-existent by the time the effect is produced. Clearly, an effect, which is deriving some existential perfection from an efficient cause, cannot be receiving it from a non-existent cause. Hence, the cause as causing and the effect as being effected must be simultaneous. Thus, efficient causes of motion must be simultaneous with the motion they cause in another.

In both the first and second ways, St. Thomas affirms the principle that there can be no infinite regress among intermediate causes, which is evident in that no intermediate cause is a fully sufficient reason for its own effect, which is the reason it is called an “intermediate cause.” Were all causes intermediate, then, regardless of number, the complete sufficient reason for the final effect would never be fulfilled – which is impossible. The impossibility of an infinite regression among proper causes has also been demonstrated in an earlier article.

Moreover, motion entails the production of “new existence” with respect to the thing being moved, so that it is not merely “motion” that the unmoved first mover causes, but the very existence of the new perfections of existence manifested by any change in being. The unmoved first mover is an efficient cause of new existence in all things in motion, even if that new existence is merely in the order of accidental being in the Aristotelian sense. The need for a “universal donor” of new existence has also been demonstrated in an earlier article.

Moreover, potency is what is able to be, but is not; act is what actually exists. Thus, motion is the progressive actualization of potency. Since things in motion must be moved by another, and since no infinite regress of moved movers is possible, there must be a first mover in which no motion occurs. But the total absence of motion means that the unmoved first mover acts to cause motion, and yet has itself no potency being progressively actualized, that is, it is pure act as the efficient cause of motion in things.

This unmoved first mover must also the “universal donor” of new existence, since both entities have the identically same role in accounting for the coming-to-be of all the new existence manifested through motion in the world.

Efficient Causality in the Second and Third Ways

 
While the first way deals with causes of coming-to-be (causa fieri), the second way deals with causes of being (causa esse). Since modern physics tends to challenge the simultaneity of macroscopic examples of such causation, suffice it to point out that (1) unless simultaneity existed in causes of motion, no motion could occur, since a “past” mover cannot “presently” move something, and (2) it is possible that the second way immediately enters the metaphysical order with causes that sustain existence which immediately transcend the physical order. As shown in a previous article, the very existence of the cosmos requires an infinitely powerful Creator.

Whether we consider efficient causes of coming-to-be or of being, it really does not matter, since what is absolutely evident is that, unless causes exert causation through immediate and direct influence on the effect, no effect can be produced at all – for the same reason that an effect needs a cause in the first place, namely, an existential need in the effect must be met here and now by an actually acting cause.

In a proof for the eternity of God that is found in his Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas takes as his starting point things whose existence or non-existence is possible. He argues, “But what can be has a cause because, since it is equally related to two contraries, namely, being and non-being, it must be, if existence accrues to it, that this is from some cause.”4

The third way of the Summa Theologiae is far too complex to treat in detail here, but I have explained it more fully elsewhere.5 It is not an argument from the contingent to the necessary, as it is so often mischaracterized, but rather an argument from the possible and necessary to being per se necessary. Using the notion of the possibles as expressed in the Contra Gentiles, it is evident that not all beings can be merely possible beings, since possible beings are caused beings and no infinite regress among proper causes is possible, as has been shown. There must be an uncaused first cause in any regression of possible beings, and that first cause cannot itself be another possible being, since all possible beings are caused.

Hence, some being must exist whose existence is not merely possible to be or not be, but rather must necessarily exist. St.Thomas then traces from necessary beings that receive their necessity from another to that being which is necessary through itself, namely, God – again, since “it is impossible that one should proceed to infinity in necessary things which have a cause of their necessity, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes.”6 This necessary being must account, not only for its own necessary existence, but also for the existence of all other things – both necessary and possible, as defined in the third way.

All of the above has been intended simply to show that some of the classical proofs for God’s existence demonstrate that an uncaused first cause must exist and, as St.Thomas observes, that that first cause fulfills the nominal definition of the classical meaning of God. Moreover, this first cause must cause the very existence of the cosmos – in both the substantial and accidental orders.

Just how well this uncaused first cause fulfills the classical definition of God depends upon our understanding of its nature.

Proof of Divine Simplicity

 
The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the first cause meets one of the essential attributes of the classical meaning of God, namely, the divine simplicity. Divine simplicity means that God is not composed of parts, principles, or things.

The critical importance of establishing that God is the absolutely first cause, not only of the coming-to-be of things, but of their very existence, is that being a first cause of existence precludes any form of composition in God.

St. Thomas makes two clear points here. First, God is truly and absolutely simple “because every composite is posterior to its component parts, and is dependent on them; but God is the first being” and second, “because every composite has a cause -- for things in themselves different cannot unite unless something causes them to unite. But God is uncaused, … since he is the first efficient cause.”7

As the first efficient cause, God can have no prior cause to combine any principles, parts, or things in order to make him a composite whole. Since a composite presupposes the prior component parts that make it up, the composite would then depend on those prior parts. God, as absolutely first cause, can depend on nothing prior to himself. Hence, he cannot be a composite of any type.

Again, any composite requires some principle of unity. If that principle comes from without, then the composite cannot be the first cause, since something is prior to it. If either component part accounts for its correlative component part, then they cannot be distinct parts – since nothing can give what it does not have – in which case there would be no composition, but only identity.

Moreover, what is composite is made up of diverse components, and diverse things can only be united by some causal agency. But, God, as the first cause, has no cause. Therefore, composition in God is impossible.

Meaning of Divine Simplicity

 
This means that God cannot be a composite of any potential principle and active principle, such as primary matter and substantial form, or substance and accident, or essence and existence.

The deepest truth about divine simplicity is that in God essence and existence are identical. God cannot have an essence to which is added existence, for whatever is found in anything either flows from its essence or comes to it from some extrinsic cause.8 But God is the first cause, and so, his existence cannot come from some extrinsic cause. The only alternative is that his existence comes from his very essence. But nothing can give what it does not have. Therefore God’s essence must already contain its very existence. His essence is identical with his existence. This is as simple as any being can be, since in all created things, existence is caused – meaning that existence is something added to essence. But in God this is not the case. He simply is his own act of existence.

God is a pure act of existence – infinite in virtue of that act being received and limited by no essence – Pure Act limited by nothing at all. Pure Existence limited by nothing constitutes the Infinite Being.

This means that God is not composed of form and matter. Hence, he is not a material body. In him, there can be no composition of substance and accident. Whereas in man, will is distinct from substance; in God, they are one. Nor is intellect distinct from substance. But if God’s will and intellect are identical to his substance, then his intellect is also identical to his will. So, too, his acts of willing are identical to the divine substance which is identical to his acts of knowing, making his willing and his knowing to be one and the same.

The various distinctions between substance, faculties, and acts found in man arise because of the composite nature of his being. First, as a creature, we are composed of essence and existence. As a material being, we are composed of substantial form and quantified primary matter. Having accidental qualities that change through time, we are composed of substance and accidents. Our powers are distinct from their operations. And potency is distinct from act in each of these composites.

But, in God -- as the absolutely first cause of all things, who himself is caused by nothing – who is his own sufficient reason for existing and being what he is in every way possible – in the one true God, all these creaturely distinctions are obliterated.

That is the meaning of the divine simplicity: Pure Existence, with no limiting essence and no real distinctions in God between principles, parts, or things.9

There are many other divine attributes, such as God’s perfection, goodness, infinity, immutability, eternity, omniscience, omnipotence, and so forth, which cannot be treated of in this short article, and would therefore be off topic for consideration here.

Notes:

  1. Denzinger 1806.
  2. Denzinger 2145.
  3. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c.
  4. Summa Contra Gentiles, I, ch. 15, para. 5.
  5. Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence (Martinus-Nijhoff: The Hague, 1972), pp. 127-139.
  6. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c.
  7. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 3, a. 7, c.
  8. De Potentia, 10, 4.
  9. The Catholic dogma of the Trinity allows a distinction of relation to exist between the three divine Persons, but this does not entail a real distinction between principles, parts, or things. Such knowledge of God pertains to sacred theology, not metaphysics or natural theology per se. It is the proper work of the philosopher to show that such relations do not entail any contradictions in being, but that analysis does not belong to the natural knowledge of God, which prescinds from divine revelation.
Dr. Dennis Bonnette

Written by

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

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  • Craig Roberts

    Oh boy. Why does God have to be so boring? You'd think he would try to be a little more...how to say it?...entertaining? interesting? compelling?... if he wanted to be discovered and worshipped.

    • Jim the Scott

      Your post bores me.

      • Craig Roberts

        What can I say? I'm not God and I don't expect anybody to worship me for being so great.

        • Jim the Scott

          ....you just managed to be even more boring.

          • Craig Roberts

            And you think you're not?

          • Jim the Scott

            so much boredom..........

          • Craig Roberts

            I guess you'll just have to search for God elsewhere. Strange Notions doesn't seem to be working for you.

          • Jim the Scott

            Please do then I can have salvation.

            "Hell is pain and boredom and boredom is the most monstrous of pains".-Taylor Cladwell

          • So I was thinking that Jim was engaged in harmless fun (SN could use some of that—but it's playing with fire because 'harmless' for one is not necessarily so for the other) but then we have:

            CR: Oh boy. Why does God have to be so boring? You'd think he would try to be a little more...how to say it?...entertaining? interesting? compelling?... if he wanted to be discovered and worshipped.

            JtS: Your post bores me.

            CR: I guess you'll just have to search for God elsewhere. Strange Notions doesn't seem to be working for you.

            You seem to have inverted the truth, here. You're the one who found the blog post boring, and by your reasoning right here, SN is not working for you, Craig. It's working fine for Jim.

          • Craig Roberts

            It wasn't the blog post I found boring. It was God. He leaves me at peace, free to do what I like, and I complain. "God why are so boring?" As soon as he sends a little drama into my life I'll complain again, "Oh God why do you torture me!" Sooner or later He will reveal His love for all mankind and my prayer will be, "Sorry for complaining. Thank you for everything. Can I please get a little break from you lest I die?" Aaand the cycle will start again. Praying is complaining.

          • Hmm, ok. So what convinces you that God loves you?

          • Craig Roberts

            Him...of course.

          • Just him existing, or also him doing? I was thinking of instances of doing …

          • Craig Roberts

            Existing and doing, being and acting, they all converge.

          • But … have you specifics?

          • Craig Roberts

            Do you mean private revelations? No. (But I guess if I talked about them they wouldn't be private.) Sorry if that's disappointing. I must admit that I'm a little disappointed.

          • Doesn't have to be private revelations. Just any sort of concrete specific. The fluctuations you mentioned fascinate me. But I don't really know what they could mean without a few specifics.

          • Craig Roberts

            Concrete specific what? Experiences of harmonic convergence during prayer? If you could be more specific about the specifics you seek I could possibly help. But then I suspect if you were able to put your finger on the notion you wouldn't be asking about it. :)

            Some things can't be explained. If you asked me what it's like to get drunk I couldn't begin to tell you. Not because I don't have plenty of experience but trying to explain it is useless if somebody has not done it themselves. If you asked what a symphony sounds like, my humming a few bars wouldn't do it justice. Imagine trying to describe diving into a pool to someone who has never seen more than a puddle of water. I'm not claiming to have experienced anything you haven't but I'm not sure what you are asking me to describe.

            Ask yourself, "What am I really looking for?" When you figure that out you will find it. In your mind you will 'see' the object of your desire. And when I ask you, "what did you see?" you might try to describe it, but you'll realize that you are failing to do it justice. You'll probably say, "I can't explain it."

            So I guess I'm as curious as you are to find these mysterious "few specifics."

          • Jim the Scott

            By Definition God cannot be boring. The Beatific Vision is the infinite polar opposite of boring.

            If you are "bored" by God then the fault is yours. You simply aren't as cool as He is......

            Now please in the future don't be boring.....

          • I don't really buy the "by definition" arguments; I kinda wonder how many people really can do that with their whole being.

          • Jim the Scott

            The "by definition" argument is obvious. To deny it is incoherent. How could beholding Goodness Itself literally be boring? How would it be good then if it was boring? Boring things aren't good they are tedious.

          • I am not entirely sure I can "behold Goodness"; I'm a rather concrete person and I have a severe distrust of what I see as abstractions, because abstractions have been used to mislead me and abuse me for much of my life.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I am not entirely sure I can "behold Goodness";

            Not by your nature powers but only with Grace.

            >I'm a rather concrete person and I have a severe distrust of what I see as abstractions, because abstractions have been used to mislead me and abuse me for much of my life,,

            I am the opposite without abstraction I cannot know mystery.

          • Not by your nature powers but only with Grace.

            I'm sorry, but I don't really know what that means. :-(

            LB: … I'm a rather concrete person and I have a severe distrust of what I see as abstractions, because abstractions have been used to mislead me and abuse me for much of my life.

            JtS: I am the opposite without abstraction I cannot know mystery.

            That's "the opposite"?

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm sorry, but I don't really know what that means. :-(

            The Beatific vision we see God in Heaven? Surely you have heard of it?

            Yes it is I wouldn't be able to go beyond the material world without abstraction. It is what sets us above the animals. That we can conceive and abstract because we have intellects and not mere sense like animals.

          • The Beatific vision we see God in Heaven? Surely you have heard of it?

            I see no such thing. It isn't quite empty words, but it's pretty close, to me. Maybe I'm just broken?

            LB: … I'm a rather concrete person and I have a severe distrust of what I see as abstractions, because abstractions have been used to mislead me and abuse me for much of my life.

            JtS: I am the opposite without abstraction I cannot know mystery.

            LB: That's "the opposite"?

            JtS: Yes it is I wouldn't be able to go beyond the material world without abstraction. It is what sets us above the animals. That we can conceive and abstract because we have intellects and not mere sense like animals.

            I still don't see how that's "the opposite". Here, let me rephrase what I said:

            LB′: … I'm a rather concrete person and I have a severe distrust of what I see as abstractions mystery, because abstractions mysteries have been used to mislead me and abuse me for much of my life.

            Can that possibly be true, or do you too rigidly define 'mystery' to allow such a thing to happen? Surely you know how social control can be exerted via strategic use of 'mystery'?

          • Jim the Scott

            Now you lost me?

          • Ever hear someone vaguely describe some far-off land you've never been to?

          • Craig Roberts

            I know He's not really boring. I just tell Him that to annoy Him into action.

          • You are the first person I've encountered who said he tries to intentionally annoy God. That sounds a tad too much like the book of Numbers, to me. But persistently petitioning God? That matches up with one of Jesus' parables.

          • Craig Roberts

            Which parable? The widow bugging the judge?

          • Yep. And … Luke 18:8 is creepy.

          • Craig Roberts

            Hah! Creepy is the perfect word for it. So many Christians lose all objectivity when trying to analyze the Gospels that they lose all sense of the sheer weirdness of it.

          • Christians would, in my humble and often-wrong opinion, do well to realize what it means that (i) Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword; (ii) this is not a war of flesh and blood.

          • Craig Roberts

            Aaaand the terror. But maybe that's for the best. If people took passages like Matthew 10:35 (I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.) seriously they would hate Jesus.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Satan surely hates Jesus, but men have no just reason.

            I think we need to determine the exact original meaning of "set ... against."

            Surely, we all know of families in which some relatives are believers and others adamant unbelievers -- where some take religion seriously and try to lead good lives and others are either callously indifferent or outright opposed to all that is good and holy.

            In such cases, there cannot help but be internal divisions between those deeply worried about their loved ones eternal welfare and those who resent any constraint or even mild criticism of their ungodly preferences.

            Jesus, in proclaiming that he is the Truth and that all must follow him or risk their immortal souls does indeed set relatives against each other, but not because he does anything wrong -- only that he calls all men to saving truth, and some will refuse to seek it. I speak, of course, only of those who choose this latter path through their own fault in some manner.

          • Craig Roberts

            True. But the tension caused by this proclamation is unbearable. If anybody else said essentially, "I'm gong to break apart your family." it would make perfect sense to hate them. It would be crazy NOT to hate them.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I understand. The key to your statement is "anybody else...."

          • Jim the Scott

            That is not how it works....you can't literally annoy an immutable God.

            At best you can figuratively do it.

          • Craig Roberts

            Shhh!...I know that...but please don't tell Him that. ;)

          • Jim the Scott

            Dude He already knows.....

            He is omniscient and knew before our Sun burned hot in space.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mws6nSzeJos&ab_channel=lohenbrau

          • Also, by definition Islam can't be false, since it is by definition the last true revelation. So there you go. Islam is the truth.

      • Kevin Aldrich
    • Are you under the impression that every part of science is 'entertaining', 'interesting', and/or 'compelling'? If not, then why does every aspect of theology have to be that way to you, for it to be possibly legitimate and worthy of attention?

      • Craig Roberts

        SCIENCE! does not expect to be worshipped. If you worship SCIENCE! you're doing it wrong.

        • What do you mean by 'worshiped'? My reference to 'science' was to something that many atheists† seem to think is "the most important thing". So that indicates that in your lexicon, 'worshiped' ≠ 'most highly valued'. In my experience, many atheists† do in fact 'praise' science. That indicates that probably, 'worshiped' ≠ 'praised' according to you. But then what do you mean by 'worshiped'?

          † Who like to argue with Christians, in my experience.

          • Craig Roberts

            Worship is the thing you do when you become aware of the awesome holy power of the one that brought us to life.

            Atheists have no conception of God because they can conceive of nothing higher than themselves. When they 'praise' science they are really only praising human ingenuity.

          • I'm going to go with a slightly more general definition, because I think many atheists exhibit behavior which is in the same category of what many Christians do when they 'worship':

            dictionary.com: worship
            1. reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.

            For 'sacred', let's turn to Durkheim:

            The sacred–profane dichotomy is an idea posited by French sociologist Émile Durkheim, who considered it to be the central characteristic of religion: "religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden."[1] In Durkheim's theory, the sacred represented the interests of the group, especially unity, which were embodied in sacred group symbols, or totems. The profane, on the other hand, involved mundane individual concerns. Durkheim explicitly stated that the sacred–profane dichotomy was not equivalent to good/​evil. The sacred could be good or evil, and the profane could be either as well.[2] (WP: Sacred–profane dichotomy)

            So for example, from a philosophy professor over at Secular Outpost:

            KP: In this case, if people really are sheep, to an extent that it is uncomfortable to admit, then it is really, really important that the shepherds know what the hell they are doing. Fifty years ago (yes, I remember), science was venerated, at times almost excessively. The left and the right were united in a rock-solid commitment to science. Then the left went all pomo and, in the throes of post-colonial and post-patriarchal guilt, started to look upon science as a plot by white males to oppress women and the poor (read Bruno Latour and Sandra Harding if you think I am just being rhetorical here). The right went in two directions: One part rediscovered religious fundamentalism, which also sees science as a plot--in this case a plot by Satan to undermine Scripture. Another branch of the right discovered how much more money could be made (e.g. by Big Tobacco, Big Oil, and Big Coal) by denying legitimate research and promoting junk science (e.g. climate-change "skepticism."). So, from both the left and the right science took it on the chin.

            The upshot is that if the mass of people evinced more respect for science fifty years ago, then it was because their cultural heroes and icons like John Glenn (Died today at the age of 95. God speed, John Glenn.) did so. Who speaks for science now? Well, there is Neil DeGrasse Tyson whom I saw speak before a sold-out audience in Jones Hall here in Houston. How do we get people to listen more to the Tysons and less to the Trumps?

            I don't think the bit I underlined was a mistake; I don't think the religious language was a mistake. There is going to be something you value above all else, and by being valued above all else, it cannot be displaced by anything else. Attempts to displace result in the strongest kind of response. I could also quote from Christian Smith from The Sacred Project of American Sociology. Oh, and Paul is on my side:

            Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:24–25)

            :-p

          • Craig Roberts

            Atheists value themselves above all else. And if you think about it, so does God. So that makes atheists more 'holy' than Christians. If holiness is being in the image of God then ask yourself, "Does God value anything over himself?"

          • I don't know that you're quite being fair. Paul talks about worshiping the creature—he doesn't necessarily say the human. I think self-worship is a candidate, but I don't think it's the only candidate. Let's recall part of the Decalogue:

            “You shall have no other gods before me.
            “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. (Exodus 20:3–7)

            Here, what is being worshiped is various and "mankind" isn't explicitly listed:

                 (1) carved images
                 (2) likenesses of anything [created]
                 (3) other gods

            Investigation of 'likeness' yields:

            2 tn The word תְּמוּנָה (tÿmunah) refers to the mental pattern from which the פֶּסֶל (pesel) is constructed; it is a real or imagined resemblance. If this is to stand as a second object to the verb, then the verb itself takes a slightly different nuance here. It would convey “you shall not make an image, neither shall you conceive a form” for worship (B. Jacob, Exodus, 547). Some simply make the second word qualify the first: “you shall not make an idol in the form of…” (NIV). (NET Bible: Ex 20:4)

            So we have the capability of worshiping:

                 (A) created things
                 (B) created ideas

            I think it might be helpful to see "worship of science" as an example of (2) and (B), and that there was something like a transition from "God himself" → "abstractions of God" → "Reason" → "science". I'm ignoring Romanticism et al for present purposes.

            In fact, I'm a little wary of the idea of self-worship; I'm vaguely aware of Augustine's incurvatus in se, but I can't escape the feeling that the main problem isn't self-worship. Maybe because a people who engage in self-worship end up disintegrating/​being conquered, like the Israelites when "Everyone did what was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6, 21:25) If you read Smith's The Sacred Project of American Sociology, you see collective behavior, not just singular behavior.

            Let me switch to evolutionary accounts of religion, which say that it helped unify Homo sapiens beyond the level achieved among any other higher primate, via giving a point of unification bigger than the family/​clan. The whole point is that the worship is of something that unifies. The ties that bind are strong enough to build a tribe and then a nation. Self-worship cannot accomplish this as best I understand.

            Does this make any sense?

          • Craig Roberts

            That makes perfect sense. I don't think God 'worships' himself the way that humans worship. We worship God because He is so much greater than ourselves. So "self-worship" is kind of an impossibility for God because that means he would have to look up to Himself.

            For a lot of people 'worship' takes on a groveling quality as they kowtow to the superior being that holds their fate in His hands. I don't see God doing that to anybody, not even Himself.

          • For a lot of people 'worship' takes on a groveling quality as they kowtow to the superior being that holds their fate in His hands. I don't see God doing that to anybody, not even Himself.

            Yeah. :-( When I read the following—

            Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

            “Dress for action like a man;
                I will question you, and you make it known to me.
            Will you even put me in the wrong?
                Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
            Have you an arm like God,
                and can you thunder with a voice like his?

            “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity;
                clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
            Pour out the overflowings of your anger,
                and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
            Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low
                and tread down the wicked where they stand.
            Hide them all in the dust together;
                bind their faces in the world below.
            Then will I also acknowledge to you
                that your own right hand can save you.
            (Job 40:6–14)

            —I don't see demand for groveling. I see a demand for the opposite! See also:

            The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 22:29–31)

            That doesn't sound like a demand for groveling—again, it is a demand for the opposite. I think that "groveling" can only be obtained by mutilating the word, e.g.:

            “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
                call upon him while he is near;
            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.
            For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
                neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
            For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
                so are my ways higher than your ways
                and my thoughts than your thoughts.
            (Isaiah 55:6–9)

            Sadly, enough do and teach the "groveling" thing that the following from Godless in Dixie

                 • Evangelical Christianity and Low Self-Esteem
                 • So Long, Self: How Christianity Teaches You to Hate Yourself

            —have sound empirical basis in way too much Christianity.

          • Craig Roberts

            Thanks. That's a lot to consider. It will take some time to digest.

          • Craig Roberts

            The only reply I can think of is that "self-esteem" is probably a major impediment to truly knowing God. Remember what Job says when God finally reveals Himself, "Now that I see you I despise myself."

          • Now that's an interesting translation:

            I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
                but now my eye sees you;
            therefore I despise myself,
                and repent in dust and ashes.”
            (Job 42:5–6, ESV)

            The word is מאס, "to despise, to reject". It shows up here, for example:

            And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. (1 Samuel 8:7)

            I'm reminded of Jesus' words:

            Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24–28)

            The word is ἀπαρνέομαι; the LXX uses φαυλίζω for "despise" in Job 42:5. But I sense that there's something similar between the two. Recently I posted the following from Simone Weil's Gravity and Grace:

            Grace fills empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void. (10)

            The imagination is continually at work filling up all the fissures through which grace might pass. (16)

            Every void (not accepted) produces hatred, sourness, bitterness, spite. The evil we wish for that which we hate, and which we imagine, restores the balance. (16)

            The imagination, filler up of the void, is essentially a liar. It does away with the third dimension, for only real objects have three dimensions. It does away with multiple relationships. (20)

            What if the problem is not existing, but trying to be the only one who exists, the only one who gets to tell any of the story, a la Gestalt psychology? What if God actually wants it to be a symphony when we try to make it a solo? I'm stealing from Elizabeth Robar's PhD thesis :

                The ‘Law of Closure’ is part of this phenomenon: it expresses the tendency of human perception to be augmented by mental experience to generate a form (Gestalt) that can holistically encompass and explain perceptual stimuli, even when those stimuli are incomplete. The brain does not process well discrete, unrelated bits of information but rather seeks, if at all possible, to impose a coherent shape on them, “in a way that most simply organizes the disparate elements into a stable and coherent form” (Sternberg and Mio, 2009, 92). This is the Gestalt effect, the constant quest of the human mind to impose meaningful organization on the input provided, even when significant portions must be provided by the mind because they are absent to the perception. (The Verb and the Paragraph in Biblical Hebrew: A Cognitive-Linguistic Approach, 3)

            What if God is telling us not to do this—not to become incurvatus in se (whether individually or tribally or even as humanity separated from God)?

          • Craig Roberts

            That's some valuable exegesis. Thank you.

          • You're welcome—but I prefer the value be demonstrated in life than just in mind. :-| When you mentioned Job despising himself it set off all kinds of worm theology alarm bells in my head. I thought, Job cannot possibly mean that, after Job 40:6–14! I suspect that the real problem was incurvatus in se—from which we can all suffer so easily. And maybe … Job was supposed to do more science. :-D

          • Craig Roberts

            "Godless in Dixie" provides an interesting case study. What he says is undeniably true from a certain perspective. If Christianity is treated as a sort of self-help program it will naturally appear from the outside as cruel and stupid (at worst) or silly and a failure (at best). All of the so called 'self-loathing' is self evident from a "what's in it for me?" sort of point of view. Nobody in their right mind picks up a cross voluntarily from this self centered vantage point.

            But the fact of the matter is that Christianity is much more than a so called 'self-help' program of improvement. It's plumbing the depths of the mysteries of life, love, truth, the universe, and God. Anybody that attempts such an endeavor will naturally feel overwhelmed at some point and realize that the mission is literally impossible...without help!

            What the Christian realizes is that this supernatural 'help' actually exists. This leads to an immense sense of gratitude (the sense of being 'saved') and depth of appreciation for his own existence that the unbeliever is simply unable to comprehend. Your thoughts?

          • I think I agree, although I find your "plumbing the depths of the mysteries of life, love, truth, the universe, and God" to be too vague without concrete examples. Fortunately, the Bible has those in spades. I would add something, based on both YHWH's response to Jeremiah in chapter 12, God's response to Job, the 7+1 "one who conquers" in Revelation, and the question of why God doesn't give us more than he is [apparently] giving us. For that, I'll start with some Paul:

            The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

                “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
                    his righteousness endures forever.”

            He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:6–15)

            The idea here is that God wants to give us lots. Well, why doesn't he [appear to be] do[ing] so? Jesus gives a cryptic answer:

            For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (Matthew 13:12)

            And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you. For to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4:24–25)

            For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:29–30)

            We are finite creatures. We can grow, but at any point we can only handle so much before … exploding. I keep getting reminded of this ridiculous scene:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p66AWyzFIec

            I think God wants us to take what we have been given and distribute it to creation. Not only do we get to take it, but I think we also get to shape it—our part in creation. However, we have this tendency to do it terribly or to hoard things for ourselves. That seems to be the story of the OT. YHWH gave Israel nice things and then she told him to go away. I think that sadly, we do that all too often ourselves. The NT says to read the OT, but we dislike it, or we caricature the OT:

            So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” (John 8:31–38)

            Contrast this to "We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt" in the Seder (something I just learned from a sermon today—yes I'm subjecting myself to the torture for «reasons»). Even the Pharisees didn't take the OT seriously—at least as portrayed by the Gospels. Paul included, since he only "got" the thing about coveting in Romans 7.

            I believe God gives us as much as we can bear, and wants us to constantly increase our bearing capacity. For some reason though, we are loathe to do this—myself included. I am trying to figure out why.

          • Craig Roberts

            While I agree with your post I would like you to consider a different view. Arnold Shwarzenegger in "Pumping Iron" describes body building and what it takes. He says that you have to push your muscles to the point that they can no longer take it. This forces them to adapt to the stress and become bigger. So every time he lifts weights he tries as hard as he can but never stops until he achieves failure. Only by going beyond what his muscles can successfully endure can he be sure to make progress. So "muscle failure" is his goal when working out. It makes sense because if his muscles could handle the load, they would not be compelled to grow.

            (Disclaimer FWIW, I think Arnie is an egomaniac and his advice should be regarded as about the same as any other celebrity or politician...worth about as much noise pollution. But the insight still may be valid)

            Now if we look at the Bible, it's basically a chronicle of failure. Adam and Eve failed. Noah failed to get God to not flood the earth. Abraham failed to save Sodom and Gomorrah. The Israelites are constantly failing to keep the covenant.

            King Saul? Failure. King David? Multiple failures. Even though King Solomon had supreme wisdom, even he couldn't resist lapsing into idolatry. All the prophets sing of the failure of "God's people" to be true.

            In the NT, Jesus is just as harsh when it comes to bemoaning the failure of Israel to live up to God's expectations. He doesn't even attempt to become a ruler that can 'lead them to the promised land' as a group. Instead he offers forgiveness. Forgiveness for our failures is exactly what we need to grow.

            On Calvary Christ appears to be the ultimate epic failure. But what he shows us on Easter is that God never fails. So even though we are doomed as humans to eventually fail, we should not fear at least attempting to go beyond our capabilities. We should seek the kingdom with everything we have, and when we fail to enter, seek forgiveness. Forgiveness for our failure is about the most we can achieve when the goal is to be as perfect as God.

          • While I agree with your post I would like you to consider a different view.

            Good! I'm talking way too much on this page. :-/

            So every time he lifts weights he tries as hard as he can but never stops until he achieves failure.

            You picked an interesting topic, for I started picking things up and putting them down at the gym in the last few years. Most of the time I don't have a spotter, but my wife will when we go together. So I think I kinda-sorta get what you're talking about, but I'm only at the cusp of possibly understanding. I can only bench 145 and squat 180. I've probably had that experience biking hell ride, during the 3 miles of 7%+ grade with no breaks.

            It's also fortuitous you said this, because I just did an in-depth study of some of the Greek words in Hebrews 11:1 and ἔλεγχος, the word translated assurance/​conviction/​certainty/​evidence/​proof appears to mean lack. Now here's where things get crazy. What if what we lack, God fills? Then is the lack absence of evidence or evidence of absence? But in order to know that there was a lack that God filled, we have to know ourselves well enough to know (or suspect strongly) that we didn't fill it.

            Now if we look at the Bible, it's basically a chronicle of failure.

            Hebrews 11 is a great example of this. Jephthah is in the list! But you've just made me think that failure is more the point than I thought … but not just failure—also what God does in response. I guess that doesn't really fit Jephthah, but it does fit many—especially when they admit they done screwed up. Although … sometimes the forgiveness comes before the repentance—Ezek 36:22–32, especially vv30–31.

            Forgiveness for our failures is exactly what we need to grow.

            Ahh, but we ought to distinguish between reparable and irreparable sin—based on whether we have internalized the failure as "actually ok" or "not my fault" and thus self-justified. Some repentance requires a lot of internal restructuring; I'm not sure that the muscle-building failure does? Another way to say this is "not all grace is medicinal".

            Forgiveness for our failure is about the most we can achieve when the goal is to be as perfect as God.

            Hmmm, that doesn't seem to account for:

            Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

                “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
                        we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

            For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:11–19)

            See also the 7+1 "one who conquers" in Revelation. Now don't get me wrong—I think you have identified a significant … lack in what I've said so far. But I'm not convinced that you have the whole story.

          • Craig Roberts

            Very good points. I don't have time to respond now but will try to come back to a few later. Thank you for the conversation so far. It's been very illuminating.

          • Craig Roberts

            Perhaps the exercise adage "no pain, no gain" applies to our spiritual lives as well.

          • I suspect that's contingent; there are possibilities for indicating "wrong" which barely qualifies as "pain" and can be encountered when playing and exploring. I think we just prefer our false beliefs and refusal to adopt true beliefs, than reducing our pain/​suffering. (Doing both of those things can lead to a temporary increase in pain/​suffering, and we are notorious for being short-sighted.)

          • Craig Roberts

            Yeah. And the pain of having your spine dislocated because you attempted to squat more than your back could handle is not likely to gain you anything but time in traction.

          • Yikes, I hope that isn't something you experienced? I did develop an upper-back injury from an imbalanced workout and it started hurting quite a lot; I went to a physical therapist and got some strengthening exercises and two items to add to my workout regime and after just a few weeks things were much better. Then the same thing happened with my rotator cuff but I nipped it in the bud earlier, adding another new exercise. I wonder if the same thing happens with the intellect and science and all of life …

          • Craig Roberts

            I've never had a serious injury from working out (although tons of painful minor pulls, tweaks, and inflammations are par for the course). But that's the risk you take. The higher the stakes the bigger the risk. Love requires risk and how much more can we risk than our souls?

            But some people lose their souls because they don't want to risk losing them.

          • Craig Roberts

            "But in order to know that there was a lack that God filled, we have to know ourselves well enough to know (or suspect strongly) that we didn't fill it."

            Excellent observation. Try thinking about this: psychologically it is impossible to search for something earnestly if we believe we are already in possession of the thing. For example if you know (or even strongly believe you know) where your car keys are, you have no motivation and no reason to search for them. It's only when they go missing that our minds are forced to focus on the act of searching for them.

            But in the Gospels we are constantly encouraged to seek, ask, knock. Mentally you can't seek what you believe you possess. You don't ask what you think you know, and you don't knock unless the door is closed. Jesus appeals to those who sense something missing in their lives.

            But if we get what we're searching for, we check the box, thank God, and move on. To where? The whole cycle starts again or we revert to looking for the same temporal pleasures that everybody else does; food, sex, entertainment, whatever. So in order to earnestly and sincerely seek God we must first lose Him.

            But being without God is a horrible feeling. We would never consciously try to "lose God". It would be like trying to commit a mortal sin just so you could experience Hell. The pain of "losing God" is absolutely devastating to the ego of a 'believer'. If I'm a believer, why do I have this horrible nagging feeling that God is nowhere to be found? Does that mean that I don't really have any faith? It's like being torn in two. Half of you is sure that you believe, and half of you cannot deny the doubt no matter how hard you try.

            This is why "Godless in Dixie" guy justifies leaving Christianity. As he correctly observes, Christianity is painful to your soul and dangerous for your self-esteem. But this is true only at a certain point. What he misses is that the joy that the Christian experiences after going through the painful process of diligently, sincerely, and eventually desperately searching for salvation, is better than anything the self-satisfied, healthy, self-centered human being can experience.

          • Try thinking about this: psychologically it is impossible to search for something earnestly if we believe we are already in possession of the thing.

            This makes me think of Meno's Paradox. I think the atheist's response to this is that we rigorously study and characterize reality so that we end up "bumping into it" when our characterizations are wrong. I believe this does work to some extent; the ultraviolet catastrophe is a good example. Scientists also take very seriously the fact that QFT and GR generate contradictory predictions near black hole event horizons; this should be a lesson to Christians who ignore contradictions if they occur in a realm that seems very distant from day-to-day life! However, there is a troubling verse:

            For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:6–7)

            I know that many scholars consider 2 Timothy to be pseudepigraphical; I still trust that "always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" is a valid warning. One could say it applies to these people:

            A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (Max Planck)

            For example, consider a continual attempt to better and better model a simple sine wave with Taylor series approximation: no matter how many terms you add, you will fail to model it well outside a limited domain—and the further and further you get from that domain, the worse the approximation is (terribly worse). And yet, by adding more terms, there is "progress". I claim that this is a good analogy for how scientific inquiry can approach a false asymptote while the scientists are blind to this fact.

            Josef Pieper describes another error which can result in our desires becoming permanently pathetic; see my extended excerpt from his Leisure: The Basis of Culture. We can simply want mediocrity and nothing more. That could have been the extent of the error of the earth's inhabitants in Noah's time. And so we stop searching, or we search so terribly that we never find anything.

            But in the Gospels we are constantly encouraged to seek, ask, knock.

            We're also taught that it's God who first loves us and contacts us. He is not hard to find. What we're good at is hiding. Instead of 'divine hiddenness', it should be 'human blindness'. That matches Isaiah 6:8–13 much better. God wants to give us good things but not if we take the things and tell him to go screw himself. (We do the same to humans, too.) Jesus knocks and we are making so much noise, or have deafened our ears, or something else, that we don't answer. Perhaps because he didn't come based exactly on our terms, which we laid out in a [social] contract? God does like messing up our plans … and making the world more glorious that we dreamed. But he does begrudgingly allow us to develop fully hardened hearts, so that we can refuse to take part if we really insist.

            I should go to bed; I'll respond to more later. This is quite the conversation!

          • Craig Roberts

            "But in order to know that there was a lack that God filled, we have to know ourselves well enough to know (or suspect strongly) that we didn't fill it."

            If we are aware of the stone cold fact that we are incapable of saving ourselves, we realize we need a savior. The joy of salvation confirms that God exists and cares for us because we know only He can save us.

          • Craig Roberts

            "But in order to know that there was a lack that God filled, we have to know ourselves well enough to know (or suspect strongly) that we didn't fill it."

            Keep in mind that is also psychologically impossible to search for something that you don't believe exists. You can't search for unicorns if you're not a naïve child. So searching for God is a confirmation that you believe, simultaneously with the fact that you are in effect missing Him, and need to find Him. Does that make sense?

            (Boy I'm getting a lot of mileage from that quote of yours!)

          • Keep in mind that is also psychologically impossible to search for something that you don't believe exists. You can't search for unicorns if you're not a naïve child. So searching for God is a confirmation that you believe, simultaneously with the fact that you are in effect missing Him, and need to find Him. Does that make sense?

            Well, it matches:

            And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

            It also matches the deep believe in order of the universe which motivated scientific inquiry. I'm married to a scientist; I know that scientific inquiry is just brutal on the individual, at least until [s]he has "made it" and become a professor. Maybe it wasn't always as brutal as it is now; now probably fewer than 10% of postdocs land tenure-track professorates. Some of my wife's colleagues applied to 100 positions. They are promised that if only they work hard they'll have a great career in academia; this is either a falsehood or an outright lie. But it's good for "motivating", amirite? Anyhow, in such times one must believe it is worth it against all the evidence (or at least "the probabilities", to channel John Loftus) and in spite of much pain.

            Now, let me repeat myself and say that I don't think the pain and suffering is required. Children learn a lot from play and boo-boos are all that is required for course-correction. Would God be incredibly evil to allow Adam and Eve to stub their toes? I don't think so. We humans decide to make things require incredible pain and suffering, on so many issues. (I'll ignore any attempts by any lurkers to deflect this to matters of natural evil; I've talked about that elsewhere and will talk about it again but not in this thread.)

            (Boy I'm getting a lot of mileage from that quote of yours!)

            I say something like that a few times a year. It was actually motivated by an extremely acerbic conversation with @Andy_Schueler:disqus about the whole topic of a "personal relationship with God". He asked how my relationship with God is any different from his relationship with Atticus Finch. (IIRC he admires Atticus Finch, but Finch is a fictitious character.) It was a very enlightening discussion but also very painful; Andy did not pull any punches and it would often feel like their was a fleshy part of me that he was slicing and gouging and whipping. That being said, I didn't immediately have a good answer for how to distinguish between his relationship with Finch and mine with Jesus. The key problem was how to distinguish between what Jesus does and what I do—IIRC Andy thought that it was in principle impossible to distinguish such a thing.

            The next step was Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations and follow-up The Minimal Self: Psychic Survival in Troubled Times. From the latter:

                Recent controversies about the contemporary culture of "narcissism" have revealed two quite different sources of confusion. The first, alluded to already and examined in some detail in the first of the following chapters, is the confusion of narcissism with egoism and selfishness. An analysis of the siege mentality and the strategies of psychic survival it encourages (the subject of chapters II, III, and IV) will serve not only to identify characteristic features of our culture—our protective irony and emotional disengagement, our reluctance to make long-term emotional commitments, our sense of powerlessness and victimization, our fascination with extreme situations and with the possibility of applying their lessons to everyday life, our perception of large-scale organizations as systems of total control—but also to distinguish narcissism from ordinary self-seeking. It will show how the prevailing social conditions, especially the fantastic mass-produced images that shape our perceptions of the world, not only encourage a defensive contraction of the self but blur the boundaries between the self and its surroundings. As the Greek legend reminds us, it is this confusion of the self and the not-self—not "egoism"—that distinguishes the plight of Narcissus. (The Minimal Self, 18–19)

            I haven't read Freud on Narcissism, but the general idea I get is that he thought every human starts out a narcissist and learns to differentiate himself/​herself from his/​her parents—especially Mom. Well, what if that process has somehow gotten thwarted, at least in part? Or what if instead of identifying self with Mom, the identification is with a mob? When you do not know yourself or cannot defend yourself (these might be the same thing), there is strength in numbers. Being absorbed in an undulating mass of humans can ease the pain and suffering. If one exists in such a state, then how can one sense a difference between self and Other—except to view Other as threatening and therefore pure evil? Lack because evil. So you fill up lack with self/​tribe.

            The next step was a conversation with Bob Seidensticker which ended with my "Huh?" A key question is whether imagined realities can be as psychologically motivating as true realities. Can a fictional character motivate as much as a real character? This relates to my Phil.SE question Are there laws which govern minds?. I've been pushing that question for a while now and I think only one atheist answered either way (the answer was "no"). I suspect the reason is that if we could understand the laws which govern a given person's mind, we could exert total and complete control over him—like knowing Rumpelstiltskin's name. I surmise that we are in the most manipulative society which ever existed and so I think attempts to figure out those laws are one of the most feared activities of man.

            Oh, the Simone Weil quotes (from Gravity and Grace) might have predated all of the above. Here are two more:

            Attitude of supplication: I must necessarily turn to something other than myself since it is a question of being delivered from myself.
                Any attempt to gain this deliverance by means of my own energy would be like the efforts of a cow which pulls at its hobble and so falls onto its knees.
                In making it one liberates a certain amount of energy in oneself by a violence which serves to degrade more energy. Compensation as in thermodynamics; a vicious circle from which one can be delivered only from on high [see irreversible process].
                The source of man's moral energy is outside him, like that of his physical energy (food, air etc.). He generally finds it, and that is why he has the illusion—as on the physical plain—that his being carries the principle of its preservation within itself. Privation alone makes him feel his need. And, in the event of privation, he cannot help turning to anything whatever which is edible.
                There is only one remedy for that: a chlorophyll conferring the faculty of feeding on light.
                Not to judge. All faults are the same. There is only one fault: incapacity to feed upon light, for where capacity to do this has been lost all faults are possible.
                'My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.' [John 4:34]
                There is no good apart from this capacity. (3)

            The Pharisees were people who relied on their own strength to be virtuous.
                Humility consists in knowing that in what we call 'I' there is no source of energy by which we can rise. (27)

          • Craig Roberts

            Hey Luke. I tried to respond in detail a few days ago but my comment got spam tagged. I still wanted to get your thoughts on your conversation with Andy re: Relationship with Jesus.

            The "personal relationship with Jesus" thing has always bugged me too. While there is an undeniable aspect of "relationship" in Christianity, too many Christians act like it's no big deal. I call this the "invisible friend syndrome" where in the Christian looses track of reality and real relationships because they believe that Jesus is as accessible as anybody. In reality none of us could pick him out of a lineup.

            It makes me want to ask them, "If you're such good buds with Jesus, why don't you ask him if I'm going to hell? If he says no you can leave me alone. If he says yes, please ask him to change his mind for me. If you're really good friends that doesn't seem like too much to ask."

            At "Homiletic and Pastoral Review" there is an article called "The Problem With a Personal Relationship With Jesus" that you may find interesting.

          • In reality none of us could pick him out of a lineup.

            Ehh: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27) But that's speaking and not seeing—maybe that's the difference? You do remind me of Isaiah 53:2. There is also 1 John 3:1–3.

            It makes me want to ask them, "If you're such good buds with Jesus, why don't you ask him if I'm going to hell? If he says no you can leave me alone. If he says yes, please ask him to change his mind for me. If you're really good friends that doesn't seem like too much to ask."

            I think this calls for more study of passages like:

            In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD, Is it to inquire of me that you come? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you. Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Let them know the abominations of their fathers, … (Ezekiel 20:1–4)

            To aid, I suggest looking at all the passages about deception, the drop from 10 → 1 in Jer 5:1, and then the following:

            Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

            I think the reason more people don't hear Jesus more clearly is that they are born into a system of deception and [generally] cannot help but inherit it and develop it. Once we lie to ourselves sufficiently, what can God say which won't be badly distorted? For example, did the following happen via reverse psychology:

            Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life, and I defiled them through their very gifts in their offering up all their firstborn, that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 20:25–26)

            That is, did God tell them what was right and then they did the opposite, so from their perspective he told them to do evil? After all:

            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!
            (Isaiah 5:20)

            I think we don't hear more from God because deep down we don't want to hear more from God. That also means some do hear from God. Who might these people be? Well, who were the prophets in the OT and who were the disciples in the NT? Mostly outsiders, mostly marginalized and/or oppressed. Paul was the exception and he knew it:

            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. (1 Corinthians 1:20–21)

            I could go on, but I should probably stop there. Thanks for telling me about The Problem with “A Personal Relationship with Jesus”. My biggest objection is this: "if a clearly recognizable Catholic identity is not promoted, then this type of “evangelization” is counterproductive". I understand a bit of how the RCC interprets Jesus saying "upon this rock I will build the church", but I insist that the chief cornerstone is Jesus and Jesus alone. I dislike pulling out the big guns, but: Jesus burned nobody at the stake. The sons of Levi were never to be in sole power. They weren't even to own land!

            My second objection is the inability to hold a tension between the one and the many, between the subjective and the intersubjective (only God is 'objective'—all of society can be biased, perverted, etc.). If subjectivity is of no account, then as long as it is only one person speaking, that one person can be crushed. I have lived this; I know it. My comfort is that Jesus got crushed and it was wrong. This is my intellectual defense, my emotional defense. He who says the individual can be ignored is in danger of ignoring Jesus—Mt 25:31–46.

            Because this is a Catholic board, I will stop there. Anyone wishing to press the issue more intensely can find my email via my Disqus profile.

          • Craig Roberts

            That's one of the geniuses of Jesus. Salvation was a group effort for the Israelites. A collective endeavor. Jesus makes it an individual attainment. Now everyone can play.

          • Ok, I admit I was lazy and didn't read the whole article when I gave my two objections in my other response; I should have also noted things that I really like. So:

            At "Homiletic and Pastoral Review" there is an article called "The Problem With a Personal Relationship With Jesus" that you may find interesting.

            I really, really like this:

            I suspect that the concept of a “personal relationship with Jesus” emerged from the philosophical distinction between a personal God and an impersonal God—but that distinction, too, is fraught with problems of definition and interpretation. I also suspect that the emergence of the philosophy of personalism as a driving force in the change in perspective on many Catholic issues also allowed this “personal relationship” idea to enter the minds of Catholics who have been exposed to Protestant thinking. And hand-in-hand with personalism comes the concept of immanentism, which is explained by one author in this way:

            The immanence of God refers to the fact that He is present in a very special way in everyone who is in the state of sanctifying grace…

            Immanence, then, is very much a good thing. Immanentism, on the other hand, is not at all a good thing, and that is because, by denying the transcendence of God, it, of course, utterly falsifies the divine nature. To deny the transcendence of God is to refuse to acknowledge the fact that he is absolutely distinct from and superior to his creatures, and the result of doing that is to end up with a knowledge which, whatever else may be said of it, is not knowledge of the one true God at all.

            Fr. John Hardon, S.J., in writing on the subject of immanentist apologetics, refers to it as “A method of establishing the credibility of the Christian faith by appealing to the subjective satisfaction that the faith gives to the believer.” Coupled with this emphasis on the subjective, there is a downplaying of the objective criteria of our faith, even to the point of rejecting miracles and prophecies. Purely personal motives for faith, motives that have mainly to do with feelings, are given primary place. “Religion, therefore, would consist,” Father Bouyer remarks, “entirely in the religious feeling itself.”[1]

            I forget exactly where it was I was made aware of univocity of being; it was either John Milbank's Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason or Paul against Biopolitics, or something of Brad S. Gregory's—either The Unintended Reformation or No Room for God?. The assertion of univocity of being, it seems to me, entails the rejection of a distinction between reparable and irreparable sin (venial and mortal sin). I'm drawing on Josef Pieper's The Concept of Sin, here. The annihilation of this distinction leads to:

            “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
                and your tongue frames deceit.
            You sit and speak against your brother;
                you slander your own mother’s son.
            These things you have done, and I have been silent;
                you thought that I was one like yourself.
            But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
            (Psalm 50:19–21)

            However, too much assertion of God being "other" leads to forgetting the half here:

            “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
                call upon him while he is near;
            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.
            For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
                neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
            For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
                so are my ways higher than your ways
                and my thoughts than your thoughts.
            (Isaiah 55:6–9)

            For more, I suggest William C. Placher's The Domestication of Transcendence. Not all Protestants assert univocity of being. I also doubt that personalism necessarily entails univocity of being—but anyone is willing to try and convince me that it does. :-) Finally, I was recently made aware (I didn't save the reference :-/) of the following by David Bentley Hart's "Is God a “Person”?":

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSHoDqF0xaY

            I have transcribed it if anyone prefers that to video.

          • Atheists value themselves above all else. And if you think about it, so does God. So that makes atheists more 'holy' than Christians. If holiness is being in the image of God then ask yourself, "Does God value anything over himself?"

            I don't see how that makes sense when:

            “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16–17)

            And:

            Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24–26)

            This makes God rather other-oriented. Unlike many humans, self-preservation doesn't seem to be a priority for him. That's weird to say, but I think God wants to be about us and wants us to be about him and so every individual in a relationship is about the other individual. I don't really know how to make sense of the scriptures otherwise.

          • Craig Roberts

            That's what I think is missing in all these metaphysical inquiries into the nature of God. The mystery of being in relationship with one so much greater than yourself that He is not concerned about the things we as humans obsess about...like self-preservation and the things that come with being human. That's why the incarnation is essential. You can't conceive of God without Christ because Jesus' humanity brings him down to a level we can understand.

            And THAT is my main beef with Thomist metaphysics. It implies that God can be known without Jesus when the Gospel clearly states that "No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

          • While I want to agree with you on one level, there is this:

                For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
                Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:18–25)

            How do you deal with the underlined? Personally, I ask how effective A/T metaphysics can be after "suppress the truth" happens and is integrated into people's being (or … nonbeing?). But I also think A/T metaphysics can be useful on other matters, as I guessed at in my top-level comment.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Yes, but the one who said "No one can come to the Father except through me" is also -- per the Nicene Creed -- inseparable from the Christ "through [whom] all things were made". If Creation itself bespeaks of Christ, then anything true that we learn about created reality is in some sense putting us in touch with Christ, and allowing us to approach the Father through Christ. Many people seem to live in Christ even while they don't recognize or affirm that reality in Christian terms. Hence Paul can coherently say, in Acts 17: "What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you."

            As a Christian, I would affirm that there is something lacking in any understanding of Christ that is divorced from the Gospel proclamation of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection. But that is perhaps not a particularly damning judgement, since there is surely something lacking even in every Christian understanding of Christ. The apotheosis of Christ may lie in the Gospel event, but even those who affirm the Gospel event surely can't claim perfect knowledge of Christ.

          • Craig Roberts

            It's not what metaphysics lacks. It's the conceit that our brains are sufficient to know that God exists. "Natural revelation" is not and can never be a substitute for supernatural revelation.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            If I could first nitpick your terminology a bit ... the traditional classification that I'm aware of is between "special revelation" (conveyed in a "local", idiosyncratic, personal manner) and "general revelation" (conveyed in a manner that is third person verifiable from more or less any vantage point in space-time). Both of those types revelation are "supernatural" in the sense that they point us toward something that transcends nature (or, in a more traditional phrasing, they reveal something beyond nature).

            If you accept that refinement of your statement, then I agree that not everything essential can be known through general revelation. We have to enter into relationships of trust and complementarity in order to get at the nuggets of special revelation, and we are necessarily impoverished to the extent that we withhold ourselves from that.

            I don't agree that special revelation is required to know merely that God exists (and FWIW, the teaching of the Catholic Church is on my side on this point). Almost all humans in all times have been aware of the existence of God, mostly apart from any special revelation. The affirmation that "God exists" is akin to the affirmation that "life exists": if one understands what is being affirmed, then it is more or less self-evidently true (though of course, doubt is always an option, whether we are talking about the existence of God or the existence of a discernible category called "life").

          • If you accept that refinement of your statement, then I agree that not everything essential can be known through general revelation. We have to enter into relationships of trust and complementarity in order to get at the nuggets of special revelation, and we are necessarily impoverished to the extent that we withhold ourselves from that.

            Consider that the worship of science disdains anything that is like 'special revelation', including idiosyncratic emotion (that is you aren't undulating with the mob), deeper ideas about how reality works that nobody else can understand even if they're true, anything that comes from "100% subjectivity", etc. What I would like to suggest is that God actually wants to introduce new awesomeness into reality through the individual, and that the dramatic change of δόξα from "popular opinion"† → "glory" in the NT illustrates this in a rather glorious way. We could say that:

                 λόγος ∼ general revelation ∼ what the elites believe
                 δόξα ∼ special revelation ∼ what the individual believes

            As far as I can tell, there is no logical reason for why δόξα cannot be integrated into λόγος. However, the Greeks apparently thought that change which was not repetition was degradation. This could be like the parallel postulate: "unnecessary" and if you remove it you get all kinds of new and useful geometries. However, the integration of δόξα into λόγος might require that the rest of society change, instead of the individual always being the one to adapt to society. The refusal of society to change is one way to understand Jesus' crucifixion. He threatened their κόσμος and so he paid the price. Perhaps … some sort of dividing wall of hostility between δόξα and λόγος was thereby torn down? :-D

             
            † This isn't quite right; the word is rather complex. Another understanding is "judging by appearances", but not only in the negative sense which Plato meant by the word. Possibly social facts correspond to δόξα.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            When they 'praise' science they are really only praising human ingenuity.

            In my experience this is not the case. What does seem to be the case is that many folks who can't make any sense of traditional religious approaches find that they can still connect with the transcendent / numinous dimension of reality through reflection on some of the deliverances of science (e.g. the knowledge that we are "made of stardust", or knowledge of the subtle complexity of DNA or of the beautiful hyperbolic geometry of Special Relativity). All that is a far cry from "worshipping science", and it has little to do with infatuation with human ingenuity. It has to do with the revelation of new horizons of beauty in reality, and perhaps even an inchoate recognition that such horizons are beckoning them on to an infinite source of beauty ... which is hardly a bad thing.

          • Craig Roberts

            I hope you're right. It does seem likely when you listen to someone like Carl Sagan lecture on the glory of the universe that there is more to it than self admiration.

    • Jim (hillclimber)

      To be honest, this sort of stuff isn't exactly my cup of tea either, but you have to appreciate that the post is in response to questions and critiques that arise from a more or less systematic line of philosophical inquiry. Some people are just congenitally inclined to probing reality in a (aspirationally) systematic philosophical manner. And when people ask abstract philosophical questions, they have to expect abstract philosophical answers.

      If the answer seems boring (to you), maybe try asking a more interesting question ...

      • Craig Roberts

        Fair enough. Instead of asking, "What is God?" let's ask, "Who is God?"

        • Jim (hillclimber)

          I like that line of inquiry, but you can probably appreciate that there is no single line of inquiry that is really suited to everyone. There are many paths home through the woods. Why disparage someone who is attempting a trail map for one of those paths?

          Regarding God and personhood, you might like the following vid, if you haven't seen it yet:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSHoDqF0xaY

          • Craig Roberts

            Interesting. Thank you.

            I wasn't trying to disparage the good Doctor's well intentioned attempt to shed light on the reality of God. I'm sure philosophically minded people find his approach fascinating. I just think that if God Himself wanted to get regular peoples attention He might consider doing something that was a little more...how should I put it?....fun? exciting? spectacular? I mean if you want to get peoples attention I personally wouldn't start with Aristotelian metaphysics.

          • Your focus here seems to be a bit weird; why does every aspect of theology need to appear exciting/​entertaining/​spectacular to every person? I just don't understand the force behind your objections—SN publishes articles on a lot more than divine simplicity.

          • Craig Roberts

            It's not about SN or this article, it's about God. Christians believe that "God wills that all men be saved." (1 Tim 2:4) but if that's true, why does he hide?

          • In the prophets, sometimes YHWH says he won't be inquired of by a given group of people. Do you think he's justified in sometimes doing so? Could God possibly be justified in doing the end of 2 Thess 2:1–12?

          • Craig Roberts

            I don't know. How can people that have not received the revelation of God through grace be held responsible for not believing? How can we that have received such precious grace ever repay our debt of gratitude?

          • How can people that have not received the revelation of God through grace be held responsible for not believing?

            Paul addresses that in Romans 2, does he not?

            How can we that have received such precious grace ever repay our debt of gratitude?

            I don't think God intended to put us in debt. Maybe you don't mean what I mean, but I think that's just the wrong word to use. I don't think God ever designed us to operate on 'debt' or 'deserve'. Instead:

            The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

                “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
                    his righteousness endures forever.”

            He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:6–15)

            The best scientific analogy I have to this is the following, from MIT assistant professor Jeremy England:

            From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. (A New Physics Theory of Life)

            I think God wants us to capture grace and spread it through all creation. "Make me a channel of your peace", one song goes. Or, to use something that's a little on the mumbo-jumbo side:

                The endlessness of the Know Thyself opus is, in Jung's language, a process of individuation. As it goes on, the heat increases. The later, spirit operations take precedence, those called distillation, volatilization, sublimation, and particularly what the alchemists call multiplication. While these operations intensify the power of the spirit, they also tend to break the psychic vessel and spill out into matter, action, society, politics, with the fervent urgency of prophesy and mission. With every increase of the spirit's heat, there needs to be a corresponding increase of the soul's capacity to contain it, to amplify within its inner sacral space. This space, the colourful and intricate carpet of the soul, its bordures and silks, is the vessel of the anima—nurturer, weaver, reflector. The conjunctio, here, is the contained spirit, this spirited, inspired containment. (Healing Fiction, 81)

            Instead of fiction of course, we have the idea of a True Myth. Does this make any sense?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Were God’s presence as evident as the noonday sun, who would dare defy natural or revealed moral laws? Still, how meaningful would be obedience? Moral virtue’s value is far greater when chosen for love of God and moral goodness, not from fear of certain punishment."

            Origin of the Human Species: Epilogue -- Third Edition (Sapientia Press, 2014), p. 212.

          • Craig Roberts

            Interesting. But then what about the atheist claim that when an atheist does a good act he has no ulterior motive and so the act is morally superior.

            The Christian that acts out of fear, or even love of God is not *really* acting without self-interest. He is (at a minimum) expecting a reward from God and that taints his virtue.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As for the atheist, it depends on the sincerity and motivation of his atheism. He might be rejecting some misconception of God that is not the true God. He might be acting toward the universal good which is implicitly the true God, in which case his act would be one of natural virtue. Or, he might be deceiving himself by an act of unjustified pride. God alone knows.

            What you say of the Christian is correct. Acting purely for the love of God is morally superior to acting for a lesser more selfish reason. Still, even slightly tainted virtue is more perfect and deserving of reward than vice.

            Ethics and pastoral theology are complex subjects.

          • Were God’s presence as evident as the noonday sun, who would dare defy natural or revealed moral laws? Still, how meaningful would be obedience? Moral virtue’s value is far greater when chosen for love of God and moral goodness, not from fear of certain punishment. (Origin of the Human Species: Epilogue -- Third Edition)

            I'll match you and raise you:

                “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say, and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’
                “And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.” But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.’ You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess. (Deuteronomy 5:22–33)

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Not fair! :-)

          • Seriously though, I think God has to hold back lest we die, not lest we obey robotically. I'm also reminded of something John Milbank wrote:

                There are, then, genuine grounds for suspicion of the Scott Holland/​Forsyth/​MacKinnon (metaphysically Butlerian–Kantian) tendency to restrict kenosis to the making known of limits and of evil. MacKinnon rightly follows his predecessors in eschewing any notion of a temporary ‘putting off’ of omnipotence—it is rather that we must re-understand omnipotence as creative love, and therefore as not conceptually opposed to the idea of the ‘limit’ represented by the assenting (so possibly not-assenting) will of created persons. (The Word Made Strange, 23)

            The narrator of Mark uses a curious locution:

                And he said, “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.”
                With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything. (Mark 4:30–34)

            I think Emil Brunner was on to something:

            Not enough stress can be placed in the congregation upon doctrine and knowledge of doctrine; but the measure of doctrinal development that the individual and congregation can endure without suffering injury to their faith is always proportionate to the measure of practical realization of that faith. A congregation in which much living prayer and much hearty brotherly love is present can digest much doctrine; doctrine will nurture it in faith, in love, and in hope. But when faith has little strength practically to shape life, and overdose of doctrine is really deadly. In this connection the church, with its orthodox attitude, perpetuated egregious pedagogical errors, from the consequences of which it yet suffers. (Truth as Encounter, 178–179)

            Something curious is going on, here. It is as if a person's identity has to be woven very careful and it is easy to stomp on the work-in-progress and wreck the whole thing.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Isn't there a text somewhere that says something like, "the bent twig he did not break." God always acts so as to produce the best effect and the greatest possible good. He would not do as we so often do: win an argument and lose a soul.

            As to the difference in receptivity of the various congregations, that is simply an application of the old A-T principle: "Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver."

          • Isn't there a text somewhere that says something like, "the bent twig he did not break."

            Oh nice catch; I totally forgot about that:

            Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
                my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
            I have put my Spirit upon him;
                he will bring forth justice to the nations.
            He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
                or make it heard in the street;
            a bruised reed he will not break,
                and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
                he will faithfully bring forth justice.
            He will not grow faint or be discouraged
                till he has established justice in the earth;
                and the coastlands wait for his law.
            (Isaiah 42:1–4)

             

            As to the difference in receptivity of the various congregations, that is simply an application of the old A-T principle: "Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver."

            Hmmm, I guess that makes sense but without this as context, I think it'd be so abstract that I wouldn't be able to do anything with it. :-/

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I got a "bent twig" out of a "bruised reed?" Well, at least I remembered the gist of it. :-)

            I think the application of the "received according to the mode of the receiver" principle is, at least at its simplest level, that those who are already at a certain level of understanding can be taught more and more deeply than pure initiates.

            This is the same reason that we always start explanations with simple examples and work our way to the deepest truths which really have no good examples.

            I always start explaining the internal relations in God by using the example of an arrow that has two diverse ends, but which is still a single thing. Of course, the example fails insofar at the point and the tip are physically distinct parts spatially separated. But you have to start somewhere! People can easily relate to arrows.

            The next step is consider the internal relations of the knower to the known within one's own self. But this means most to someone who already has a non-materialistic understanding of self-reflection. A materialist will not grasp the truth that the terms of the relation are distinct, while the relation itself is but a single undivided not spatially-extended reality.

            My point here pertains solely to the difference in the understanding of congregations. I am not trying to start a discussion about internal relations!

          • I'm beginning to see why I have an affinity for A/T metaphysics while simultaneously finding it virtually indigestible in its current form. There's just some massive mismatch between how I get into these matters in comparison to just about every book on A/T or person talking about it. It's as if A/T is 100% Platonic and I go at it 100% Aristotelian. Except that's not supposed to be the case. And yet, I start much more concrete and only spend short periods of time in the rarefied atmosphere of abstraction. I thought that was supposed to be the difference between Aristotle and Plato in the famous School of Athens picture, but apparently not? Maybe the problem is this:

                Out of all movements which they could observe, the Greeks noted and gave favored attention to repeating cycles, and to the movement of degradation: katagenesis. “All change,” writes Aristotle, “is by its nature an undoing. It is in time that all is engendered and destroyed.... One can see that time itself is the cause of destruction rather than of generation.... For change itself is an undoing; it is indeed only by accident a cause of generation and existence.”[3] Since time is the measure of movement, if movement is negative, time must be negative too: “For we are wont to say that time wears, that all things age in time, all is erased by time, but never that we have learnt or that we have grown young and handsome; for time in itself is more truly a cause of destruction (phthoras), since time is the number of movement, and movement undoes that which is.”[4] (A Study of Hebrew Thought, 25)

            I don't know my Aristotle so I don't know of Tresmontant is being fair. But the above is positively toxic! In contrast, Tresmontant argues, God loves to create! What kinds of implications does this have? Well, maybe Colin Gunton's 'open transcendentals' in The One, the Three and the Many need to get more attention. Maybe God only establishes part of the final cause, and asks us to make harmonious contributions somehow from ourselves as some kind of first cause (otherwise how are we meaningfully imago Dei?). But I sense I'm getting A/T-heretical. Might you be able to tell me how Aquinas "repaired" the above in Aristotle and how well-accepted those "repairs" are? FYI, I've read Louis Dupré's Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture.

            To the rest of what you say, is that at all related to the idea of 'microcosm'? I've been thinking a bit about analogy and not-quite-homomorphism (or not-quite-morphism). How is a simple thing an approximation of a more complex thing? And how does an approximation "grow" to better fit the complex thing? It's not clear we understand this stuff well. One would also have to take into account the distortions that irreparable sin can introduce.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I don't know that I am equipped to give you a satisfying answer to your main question here.

            If I had to sum up the central point briefly, it is this: Aristotle was not a Christian.

            There is not room enough here, nor do I have the time to explore all the dimensions of what you may want here, but we have to contrast Aristotle's worldview from that of St. Thomas.

            Broadly speaking, Aristotle did not know about creation. He appears to have thought that the world always existed, not unlike the way some materialists on this site might do. The unmoved mover(s) did not create the world and may have had no concern about its inhabitants at all. He describes the unmoved mover in one passage as being like a "thought thinking itself,"

            While he had a teleological understanding of how the world worked, and realized that there was something spiritual about the human soul, he was not all that clear about what happens to us at death.

            The inherent Christian optimism that had developed by the time of St. Thomas made clear that God was a personal, loving, provident Creator who held all things in existence. Moreover, all things tended toward God either by imitation or by actual union with him in the everlasting bliss of the Beatific Vision.

            One could unfold this picture endlessly, but I think this begins to show the sharp contrast between the pagan Aristotle and the Christian St. Thomas. Aristotle may be a contender for "greatest mind of all time," but St. Thomas had the advantage of Christian revelation guiding reason to depths of insight and an overall understanding of the plan and purpose of creation that ever eluded Aristotle.

            Since all things ultimately aim at the good, and the supreme end and good is God himself, the entire cosmic creation was filled with an expectant optimism that Aristotle could not even dream about.

          • This sounds like really good blog post material. But I'd caution that it's not just Christians who were hopeful; the Hebrews were as well—those pesky people who thought up a lot of things before the Illustrious Greeks™:

            This world, this sensible world is created. Such a proposition holds nothing startling for us. Yet to the several Greek metaphysics it came as a radically new pronouncement, a revolution; and such it remains to the modern philosophies which have retained the metaphysical principles of antiquity.

                In all of these philosophies the genesis of reality is understood in terms of downfall, or of alienation, or of a derivation to be reabsorbed into eternal unity. It is never thought of as a positive creation.
                In the biblical tradition, on the contrary, and this is an element of its originality, the genesis of reality is a truly positive act, an act of creation. This complete reversal of the very basis of metaphysical thought carries tremendous consequences. From the very beginning, starting from this fundamental point of all metaphysics, Hebrew thought runs in a direction opposite to the current of Greek thought, mounts the slope which the Greeks and their modem followers descend since the latter deem all tangible stuff to be born from a decline, a degradation, while the Hebrew considers it the result of an ascent, the result of a truly positive act: creation. (A Study of Hebrew Thought, 3–4)

            The theory of evolution would be impossible for the Greeks to believe as far as I can tell. Of all the ones I know, only on Jewish and Christian principles does it make sense. Maybe the Gnostics would be ok with evolution, but I doubt they'd care to do the hard empirical work to figure it out.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Maybe that is why we hear so much about Greek tragedies?

          • Hmm, I don't know enough about them to say. My spidey sense tells me that Greek tragedies might be in the same class as:

                 • repressive desublimation
                 • narcotizing dysfunction

            Anyone who has read the third book of Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings epic fantasy knows that there is a plot device whereby an entity takes the pain/​sufferings of others from them, and can then use that pain/​suffering for his own purposes. In the case of Greek tragedy, I have heard that it results from the clash of two different irresistible forces—norms, in this case. There is no hope of reconciling, so it's just tragic. Well let's see, just who benefits from the belief of irreconcilability? Who benefits from perpetuating lack of peace?

             
            P.S. Those are <spoiler></spoiler> tags; hover to reveal the text.

          • I got a "bent twig" out of a "bruised reed?" Well, at least I remembered the gist of it. :-)

            קָנֶה can apparently be 'reed' or 'branch', so surely 'twig' is in there somewhere! Man, I forgot how awesome Isaiah 42:1–4 is. Talk about an image of biblical manhood that is neither sissy nor macho. (I'm sure women can be like that too—we're all called to imitate Jesus—I just tend to think of men as [statistically] more justice-oriented vs. e.g. nurturing-oriented.)

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I am sure we agree on the spectacular nature of God sending forth his only-begotten Son to take up a human nature, to live, to die for our sins, to rise from the dead, to found a Church, and to commission his disciples to convert all nations.

            But we must never forget that the Catholic as well as some other Christian theological traditions also hold for the complete harmony of faith and reason. That is, we recognize that the Author of human reason is also the One who gives us supernatural revelation. Where is the problem?

            St. Thomas, in the beginning questions of the Summa Theologiae, explains the need for supernatural revelation about God, since men come but slowly to a natural knowledge of God -- often mixed with errors and easily lost over time. All this he discusses before giving the rational proofs for God's existence.

            And If the gift of human reason is properly used to develop the several complex and detailed natural sciences, why would we not expect and appreciate that the same human reason should discover and develop complex philosophical and theological sciences as well? Not everyone will become a professional physicist. Nor will everyone become a professional philosopher or theologian. But all can appreciate to some extent the fruit of their respective labors.

            Surely it is the work of this web site to explore at least in some limited detail the legitimate work of human reason in these fields so germane to our knowledge of God and his relation to the created world, is it not?

          • Craig Roberts

            While the act of applying reason to matters of faith seems like a perfectly fine endeavor, I'm not so sure about trying to use the fruits of these labors for evangelizing. But that's just me. I guess I would be less skeptical if I heard more testimony from Christians that were swayed by this approach before they became Christian.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It isn't merely a question of evangelizing.

            It seems that God himself expects us to use the work of human reason to come to know his existence and nature, to wit, Romans 1:20, where St. Paul chastises the Romans for failing to know God: "... being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable."

            The natural metaphysics of human intelligence is given by God to all so that at least a glimmering of metaphysical and natural theological truth about God is expected of all human beings.

          • That is an absolutely fascinating video—I saw more tension in David Bentley Hart's interaction with the "God of the Philosophers" than I've seen elsewhere (admittedly, I haven't looked much). I'm tempted to transcribe it. I've come up with an analogy that you might find instructive, and which might … torque Hart's claims a bit.

            Suppose that Galileo provided instructions to some of his buddies in England for making a telescope. They build the instrument, grind the lenses to shape, ensure they're nice and smooth, and set up the telescope. They look at see nothing except a giant blur. What do they conclude? As far as they can tell, they've followed Galileo's instructions precisely.

            As it turns out, smoothness is not the only (if even a) property required of the lens. It must be [sufficiently] transparent to light. Frosted glass can be incredibly smooth while diffusing light. (You might want precisely that property for some shower doors.) By not understanding the kind of signal being processed (and focused), the whole instrumental setup just does not work.

            Now, let's note that "we are the instruments with which we explore reality". Any defects in us which are relevant to the signal we are processing (and probably focusing) will deform if not destroy the signal. When it comes to observing agency-free phenomena, any distortion and perversion and underdeveloped-ness is irrelevant. But when observing agents, all of a sudden it all matters. It matters if the following is true:

            Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

            It matters if Schwitzgebel is right in his essay The Unreliability of Naive Introspection and book Perplexities of Consciousness. It matters if the science in Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government and Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory is [sufficiently] right. It matters if the following is [currently, sufficiently] true:

            And when we add that work to the mountain of research on motivated reasoning, confirmation bias, and the fact that nobody's been able to teach critical thinking. … You know, if you take a statistics class, you'll change your thinking a little bit. But if you try to train people to look for evidence on the other side, it can't be done. It shouldn't be hard, but nobody can do it, and they've been working on this for decades now. At a certain point, you have to just say, 'Might you just be searching for Atlantis, and Atlantis doesn't exist?' (The Rationalist Delusion in Moral Psychology, 16:47)

            So, when we do the Anselmian activity of imagining "the greatest possible being", we amplify whatever is good and right and true and beautiful in us as well as what is not. And so, sometimes this is a good characterization of us:

            “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
                and your tongue frames deceit.
            You sit and speak against your brother;
                you slander your own mother’s son.
            These things you have done, and I have been silent;
                you thought that I was one like yourself.
            But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

            “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
                lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
            The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
                to one who orders his way rightly
                I will show the salvation of God!”
            (Psalm 50:19–23)

            David Bentley Hart seems to get most of the way here but … not quite.

             
            P.S. I really, really want to see Hart's response to Alistair McFadyen's The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships. To hazard a guess, I would say that McFadyen gets it more right than Hart. Then again, I'm going off a 9m video of Hart vs. an entire book from McFadyen. There's also David Braine's The Human Person: Animal and Spirit and Christian Smith's What is a Person?

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            That video is one in a series of mini-interviews (I think YouTube will suggest the others in that series to you, but lmk if you want links). I thought they were all very good.

            (I may also have something to say about the rest of your comment, but need to let it percolate first.)

          • Ah, thanks. I shall prepare to be filtered/​strained. :-)

        • Ah, you hit a bugbear of mine: the Westminster Longer Catechism has this:

          Q. 7. What is God?
          A. God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. (Westminster Larger Catechism)

          In addition to "What" instead of "Who", I really like that neither 'love' (modern translation of agápē) nor 'charity' (older translation) shows up here, despite:

          So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16)

          An old pastor of mine did some digging after I mentioned this to him recently and said that Charnock in The Work on God "categorizes God's love as a subset of goodness" and "all attributes of God are equivalent of his being because God is 'simple'". I'm not sure I buy this, and I am forever suspicious of those who would try to drive 'love' down to second place or in any way bury it.

          • PeterA

            Hi Luke,
            On the topic of God is Love. As you know plenty of Christians evangelize to unbelievers using John 3:16 and God's unconditional love. But I have spent sometime on this and I believe, to start with John chapter 3 is about a private conversation with Nicodemus. Three of the Gospels are about the public discourses of Jesus, but in John's, which is very intimate, there are a good many private conversations: with Nathanael, the woman at the well, and here Nicodemus.

            For me, the gospel begins with the righteousness of God and the offer of his righteousness (Romans 1:16-17). John 3:16 has to be read taking into the account John 3:14-15; which in return one must have in mind Number 21.

            I believe the reason for this is that only those who have been redeemed by God can understand his love. Others unfortunately can’t grasp what God's love really is until they have been rescued, and redeemed. As I mentioned earlier If you read a few verses before 3:16 one will notice, when Jesus was talking to Nicodemus, he talked the God of the OT who “puts people to death for ingratitude”, is the same God who gives his only Son to us. So, the overlapping part between OT and NT is the righteousness of God.

            Now, for the 'World' in scripture is always a human word, not continental geography. Somehow we need to square the world of John 3:16 and 1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" The word world is a reference to the human race. God so loved human society. It's a word covering the whole human race; it is a bad word. The word 'world' in scripture projects a rather bad image. It is a sinful world. It is a fallen world. So, is it alright for God to love the world but not for us? And the word is 'agape' (love of action to meet needs) in both verses as well. The tense in 3:16 loved the world is in the aorist tense(one time and past tense). So, it is not God loves everybody all the time. But God loved once, on one occasion, acted on behalf of our rebellious race and sent his Son, so if we (believers) continue believing in him will have everlasting life.

          • Hi Peter! It's going to take me some time to digest your comment. I wrote the following on part of it but note that it is not meant in any way to be a comprehensive response. It's more of a test particle, to see what you (and others if they're interested) make of it.

            I believe the reason for this is that only those who have been redeemed by God can understand his love. Others unfortunately can’t grasp what God's love really is until they have been rescued, and redeemed.

            I'm aware of this having a long history and I'm not sure I 100% agree, although I would definitely hold that in tension with whatever else I believe. It's an odd coincidence (hehe) that you brought this up because I have been pondering a hypothesis I generated when I first started spending time with a certain socially awkward person. I found that he was intensely creative but also that he could not for the life of him ask me any sustained questions about me. It was all about him. However, I saw a little of me in him and so I decided to posit the following:

                 (C) Humans need to have what is unique to them valued enough and developed enough before they can learn how to do this for others.

            I have run this experiment for a while now (it means I shut up about myself, don't try to say anything about myself, and just help my friend work out his creative ideas) and I think it's succeeding. I have started generalizing (C) and I think it's true. Moreover, I think the spirit of Modernity is 100% against (C). I know that contradicts the dogma, but actions often contradict dogma. Following is one way Modernity crushes what is unique to people; the context is an industrial machine with production which finally outstripped demand:

            The mobilization of consumer demand, together with the recruitment of a labor force, required a far-reaching series of cultural changes. People had to be discouraged from providing for their own wants and resocialized as consumers. Industrialism by its very nature tends to discourage home production and to make people dependent on the market, but a vast effort of reeducation, starting in the 1920s, had to be undertaken before Americans accepted consumption as a way of life. As Emma Rothschild has shown in her study of the automobile industry, Alfred Sloan's innovations in marketing—the annual model change, constant upgrading of the product, efforts to associate it with social status, the deliberate inculcation of boundless appetite for change—constituted the necessary counterpart of Henry Ford's innovations in production. Modern industry came to rest on the twin pillars of Fordism and Sloanism. Both tended to discourage enterprise and independent thinking and to make the individual distrust his own judgment, even in matters of taste. His own untutored preferences, it appeared, might lag behind current fashion; they too needed to be periodically upgraded. (The Minimal Self, 29)

            See how that matches with what Stephen Covey wrote:

                The creative process is also the most terrifying part because you don't know exactly what's going to happen or where it is going to lead. You don't know what new dangers and challenges you'll find. It takes an enormous amount of internal security to begin with the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of creativity. Without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness. You become a trailblazer, a pathfinder. You open new possibilities, new territories, new continents, so that others can follow. (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 263)

                 Many people have not really experienced even a moderate degree of synergy in their family life or in other interactions. They've been trained and scripted into defensive and protective communications or into believing that life or other people can't be trusted. As a result, they are never really open to Habit 6 and to these principles. (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 264)

            I would like to claim that (C) is not something we're born with and (C) is not something that can be derived by the individual. "We love because he first loved us"—this is the only way we can learn. It is an inherently relational process. I am deeply skeptical it could have evolved into place. That being said, we can imperfectly do (C) for others to give them a whiff of God; ultimately though, they need to connect directly to him, Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32-style.

          • PeterA

            do (C) for others to give them a whiff of God; ultimately though, they need to connect directly to him, Jer 31:31-34 and Ezek 36:22-32

            Yes, the whiff of God will be his righteousness. See by parsing the 66 books of the bible there are less than one verse in a thousand mentions God’s love. For example, in Genesis (there is none), Exodus (1 Verse), Leviticus (there is none), Numbers (there is none), Deuteronomy (one verse), Joshua (not a mention), Judges (not a mention), Ruth (not a mention), 1 and 2 Samuel (not a mention), 1 and 2 Kings (not a mention), 1 and 2 Chronicles (not a mention), Psalms (one or two), Proverbs (not aware of), Song of Songs (there is none), Ecclesiastes (there is none), Proverbs (there is none), Isaiah (one), Jeremiah (one), Ezekiel (one Verse), Daniel (there is none), Hosea (a few verses), Amos (nothing), Through all the minor prophets (not a word), Matthew (not a word), Mark, Luke (there is none), John (a few verses in John), Acts - where is shows us how the early church evangelized (not a single mention in the book).

            Also I do not see (C) at odds with talking about His righteousness. But about his love, maybe Matthew 7:6 tells us why we should not. Even the apostles never talked or went preaching about God loves you and wants you to know.

            When you said

            ultimately though, they need to connect directly to him, Jer 31:31–34 and Ezek 36:22–32-style.

            Yes but this is all after they are going to have the Spirit of God indwell in them to help them do this. So connecting Jeremiah 31 (the New Covenant passages) with verse 27 of Ezekiel 36, it says point blank:

            "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules."

            But even before we get there, Hebrews 10:22 asks us to draw near with a true heart

            "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our Hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

            Which is a reference to this Ezekiel 36. (BTW it is very interesting reading Acts 2 through the lens of Ezek 36:22–32 verses)

          • So … I've seen a lot of different understandings of 'righteousness' and 'justice' and their verb forms (from δικαιοσύνη, δίκαιος, and δικαιόω). Some of those understandings seem rather compatible with mere "social order" or "social mores". We were warned about such things I think, e.g. with Mt 13:24–30 (the wheat and the tares). In light of this, would you be willing to sketch a bit of how you understand the term?

            To give a really brief answer to my question, I think we need the notions of impartiality and predictability. These aren't disjoint when it comes to righteousness/​justice; I don't think one can really get justice without transparency and intelligibility. I'm sure much more is required to understand righteousness/​justice, but these two aspects seem especially lacking in our current day and age. See, for example, how Obama's justification for targeted killing of US citizens on foreign soil was according to law instead of being State assassination. He refused to make it public for some time. See also the perspective-based categorization of 'terrorist' vs. 'freedom fighter'. See also the very different reactions to the 1999 NATO bombing of a Serbian news station and the 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting.

            Curiously enough, my attempt to answer my own question makes God rather compatible with what I take to be the [valid and good [part of the]] spirit of methodological naturalism. N.B. I have a sneaking suspicion that methodological naturalism eschewed agency and teleology because we were so screwed up on them at the time, and still are (if not worse because we have more data and characterizations and willfully disbelieve them en masse).

            As to Acts 2, I really like vv36–37: it was only after we carved our sins in Jesus' flesh and executed him in the most excruciating and shameful way, that we realized we had been projecting our sins onto him, thinking the faults were really his. I also just taught the Pentecost at Sunday School and the kids taught me something by asking where else there was a burning flame which did not burn. Moses and the burning bush! I can't believe that similarity is on mistake and yet I had never made the connection nor seen it made. Out of the mouth of babes. But there's a lot packed in there; wanna be more specific?

          • PeterA

            Hi Luke,
            Tried to reply to your post, but twice hit the snag saying "Detected as spam" "Thanks, we'll work on getting this corrected."

    • No god that is boring is worthy or worship. The "greatest conceivable being" would have to be the most interesting being.

      • Craig Roberts

        Interesting to who? Humans are more interesting than squirrels, but try telling that to a squirrel.

        • Good question. The crazy homeless guy living under the bridge always seems to think god is interesting, given his incoherent ramblings.

          • Craig Roberts

            I think you're on to something. If you have known people that are intensely interested in God they often seem to have a screw loose. There is a kind of inverse correlation between the very religious and what we think of as 'sanity'. The 'sane' person is intensely interested in what he perceives to be real that all the other (at least the similarly sane) can agree upon.

            But super superstitious Aunt Becky seems to see the hand of God in everything and is absolutely incapable of talking to people without bringing up God. People like that are often described as 'touched'. They make normal people feel uncomfortable.

            The mysterious ability to sense the existence, and even the presence of God everywhere, all the time (just as the theologians claim He is) does not seem to make for what most people would consider a healthy, realistic, socially adjusted, comfortable, personality.

            But maybe God deliberately hides himself so as not to freak out the normal people. It would be hard to get any serious work (or play) done with the Almighty staring over your shoulder all the time. And what would happen to our freewill?

          • michael

            If God were visibly staring over our shoulders, free will would not be affected. Interfering with free will means planting a mind control helmet on someone and manipulating them like a puppet. A person in jail has free will, but not freedom of action. See the difference? And who would freak out if god show dup toe everyone at once shouting "I"M HERE! SEE? DO AS I SAY!" as soon as they were born? It would be considered normal, and therefore not freak any one out! If God were real, he'd make his presence and will immediately obvious to everyone, so plainly that no one could ever doubt his existence and will. He'd reveal everything he hid form Job rather than "working in mysterious ways'. We'd be able to understand and follow him without having to rely on trust/faith.

          • Craig Roberts

            Thanks for the response. What if God didn't want us to rely on Him to tell us what to do? What if you asked Him what his will for us was and he said, "I gave you a mind and freedom, not so that you could take orders from me, but so that you could make up your own mind about what you want to do. Your destiny is your choice, not my command."

          • michael

            One cannot truly choose to obey or disobey someone one does not believe exists or doubts exist.

          • Craig Roberts

            Agreed. Even people that want to obey God can't agree on what he wants. Even people that have very specific instructions from God himself can't seem to obey.

            What's the first thing Moses does after receiving the ten commandments? Kill the idolators. God told him to, but if I were Moses I would have said, "Kill 'em? Really? In the commands you just gave me it says thou shalt NOT kill so what's it gonna be?"

            Who says God can't contradict Himself.

          • michael

            That's off-topic. I am talking about the problem of divine hiddenness here.

          • Craig Roberts

            Sorry to interrupt your monologue. Please proceed.

  • I find this exposition of divine simplicity to be singularly unhelpful. I don't mean that to be anything more than a statement about my psychological makeup; I tried to get into James E. Dolezal's God without Parts and just couldn't. Something with the traditional way(s) of approaching divine simplicity doesn't click [with me].

    What I would like to know is whether maybe God is the antithesis to reductionism (speaking apophatically), such that whenever you try to understand part of God, you not only lose out by not considering the other parts, but you distort even the part you are examining. If creation mirrors this in some way, then the breaking of knowledge into disciplines distorts each discipline in the process. These distortions don't make the analysis useless, but we have to ensure that we don't mistake the picture of the thing for the thing. Ceci n'est pas une pipe.

    I wonder if we're in a state of knowledge where we just cannot imagine anything existing that isn't either atoms, or atoms organized in … superficial ways. That might be what is meant by merelogical nihilism: "nothing is a proper part of anything". Following the rabbit trail: "An object lacking proper parts is an atom." The atomist claim that "all that exists are atoms and the void" would seem to fit this mode of thinking. Does nominalism fit it as well?

    Here's a thought which comes from Alistair McFadyen's The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships and might show reductionism to be a failure when made metaphysical. Can we define 'person' and 'relationship' without reference to the other? We think we can have particles and forces which are thought of 'separately' (hence a photon being both a particle and a wave), and as it turns out, we think we can consider 'person' and 'relationship' as separable things. But are they? Or are they so intricately interdependent that "atoms and the void" is positively distorting? Isn't it actually "atoms embedded in the void", where the 'void' is actually not void? Likewise, isn't it "individuals embedded in society", where neither 100% determines the other? Is there something … nonseparable here, which somehow resists the kind of analysis/​decomposition which divine simplicity prohibits? After all:

    So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.

    Might our nature (emphasis on "our", but emphasis also on there being [differentiated!] individuals) also be in some way 'nonseparable', or 'simple'? (Modulo sinfulness and to a lesser extent, finitude messes with things—but does finitude alone entail composition?)

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    What is accomplished through a comment like this?

    More might be accomplished if, instead of using a cheap label like "liberal" as an epithet to refer to the complex reality of individual lives and beliefs, you could do the hard work of articulating precisely what your concern is with "liberal" modes of thought.

  • If God as the first cause, were the first of a series, all those in the series would be creators of being.

  • Stephen Edwards

    I think it is true that the first cause must be without parts because if it has parts then there can always be more parts or less parts and therefore parts themselves are not necessary. Something then exists due to its own necessity or it derives its existence from something more fundamental. So, anything with parts must receive its existence from something else until the first cause is reached which has no parts.

    • michael

      The idea of The Trinity splits God into three distinct parts.

  • Craig Roberts

    I think that the divine simplicity has a manifestation that rarely gets talked about. When judgment day comes everyone will be judged with perfect balance, harmony, symmetry, and simplicity. That means that everyone will be judged the same. Fairly.

    Those expecting reward will find that their reward is that they will not be punished. Those expecting punishment will find out that their punishment is that they will not receive their reward.

  • Craig Roberts

    At first I thought, "Where are all the atheists?" Then I thought, "BY GEORGE HE'S DONE IT! The professor has converted them all!"

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Don't hold your breath. As they said of that baseball field, "Build it ... and they shall come."

      They are probably just marshaling their forces. I think the real problem is that they disagree with so much of my article that they just don't know where to begin! ;-)

      • michael

        The idea of the Trinity splits God into three parts. Admit it.

    • michael

      The idea of the Trinity splits God into three parts. Please admit it.

      • Craig Roberts

        Pretty much. I'm not a theologian so I can't explain it. At some point I trust those that tell me it's so but I also know that I still don't really know. It's like if you tell a kid there are atoms that make up all material things. They might say, "If you say so." but they're not going to understand what you're talking about until they get older.

        • michael

          But we can actually observe and study and understand atoms!

          • Craig Roberts

            At one time we couldn't. Kids can't until they reach a certain maturity level.

  • SpokenMind

    [According to the First Vatican Council, the existence of God can be known with certainty by the natural light of human reason through those things that have been created. (De Fide)1 Pope Pius X specified this statement more exactly by affirming that God’s existence can be known “as a cause is known with certainty through its effects, from those things that have been made, that is, by the visible works of creation….” (Sententia fidei proxima).2]

    Does this mean that God can be known with “certainty” (100% absolutely) without faith?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Correct. The Church has always insisted on the harmony of faith and reason. But even Scripture affirms that God's existence can be known by natural reason, as when St. Paul chastised the Romans for failing to recognize him from the things he has made. Romans 1:20. And the Romans were pagans.

      Knowledge of God's existence is one of the preambles to faith necessary prior to any act of faith, for example, another one would be the natural knowledge that God does not lie -- otherwise we would not be able to trust a word of Scripture, since every liar claims that he is telling the truth.

      Please note that the dogma does not say "can be demonstrated" to another, but only "can be known." Demonstrating to another is quite another project than simply coming to understand for oneself.

      The kind of certitude possible is analogous to what we know when we add two simple numbers and come to a third. It depends on the process of reasoning itself, but can be as certain as any other sure process of reasoning.

      • SpokenMind

        Interesting. Thanks for taking the time from what I imagine is a busy shcedule to share your thoughts on this matter. I would not have thought that based on my personal experience.

        When I was a younger man (not as knowledgeable, with flawed thinking, etc.) I tried to reason out the question, "Does God exist?" I made progress that it was likely God exists, but there were also doubts. I was never able to achieve certainty – though maybe if I had continued to pursue it, I would have. Fortunately, in my case, God made his existence known with certainty through other means.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          It matters more that you get there than how you get there.

          Truth is one. But there may be many paths to get to it.

          Nothing says that only philosophers can go to heaven.

          Knowledge is not virtue (in this life), since we can know what is right and still do what is wrong.

          The name of the most brilliant intellect God ever created is
          ....... Lucifer.

        • michael

          What would it take to convert you to atheism?

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,
            I think my personal experiences with God would have to be erased from my memory.
            If you fall somewhere on the atheist/agnostic spectrum, what do you think it would take to get you to convert to theism?

          • michael

            If God immediately gave everyone The Beatific Vision for free and released everyone from hell, and kept no secrets form anyone, and had no "mysteries" or "mysterious ways". I spent years arguing online every chance I got against atheism and Protestantism, I've heard every response you can think of.

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,

            It’s sounds like you’ve pretty much had it with this God business.

            I'm curious - why did you ask me a question?

            Take care and all the best!

          • michael

            Why spread atheism? A great question. Here's why: Please Google Sam Harris' free online article "An atheist manifesto", "list reasons atheists are angry", "atheism and anger", "evil bible.com", http://www.answering-christianity.com/karim/answering_apologists_and_exposing_rape.htm , "exchristian.net final frontier" (Read the comments under that one too) and "exchristian.net matthew 5:28”.

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,

            In your own words could you describe your desire to spread atheism?

          • michael

            A desire to free the world from an awful burden.

          • michael

            Please see those webpages I described. They explain it far better.

          • SpokenMind

            I mean this as respectfully as possible, but I find it hard to take your opinions seriously if you won't even explain them, but have to refer me to someone else.

          • michael

            First of all, are you happy believing infinite torture? Is torture right and OK?

          • michael

            Have you read Luke 13? It says people In Hell want Heaven.

          • michael

            The lists have too many reasons to fit into one post. And the exchrsitian.net articles & comments are best read word for word, not summarized. You can't summarize a comment list under an article anyway. Please don't be lazy. It's not lazy if JK Rowling doesn't accept $5 from you as you ask her to "summarize" her books. I'll give you links though: https://samharris.org/an-atheist-manifesto/ https://gretachristina.typepad.com/greta_christinas_weblog/2007/10/atheists-and-an.html http://new.exchristian.net/2012/03/final-frontier-of-tyranny.html http://new.exchristian.net/2012/10/matthew-5-28-genocide-or-slavery.html

          • michael
          • michael

            You asked about Atheist soup kitchens. This article mentions person named Albert Schweitzer, who, according to The Bible, is in Hell despite dedicating his life to alleviating the suffering of impoverished Africans: http://new.exchristian.net/2013/11/how-i-figured-out-christianity-is-not.html

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,

            Only God can detemine one's eternal destiny - not the Bible. Sometimes, a single passage from the Bible - though it may seem to say one thing - may be taken out of context or not "harmonzied" with all the scriptures. The way I see it (and this may not be theologically incorrect), everyone is held accountable for the truth they know. So if someone genuinely doesn't know God exists (invincible ignorance) but tries their best to follow the truths they know (such as through their well formed conscience), then it is possible to make heaven. God's judgements are perfect. I leave the final say to God in such circumstances. Rather than do the minimum requirement to get to heaven, it's best to believe because your odds go way up.

            I've enjoyed sparring with you. I'm going to move on now, and wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas. And as a final suggestion, why don't you surprise your parents and go to Mass with them for Christmas.

            "peace to men of good will" (Luke 2:14)

          • michael

            I used to go to Mass. Did so frequently for like 9 years. I got The Sacrament of Confirmation too. I was the guy at Confirmation class who had to be quiet and let others answer because I already knew so much. And Mass isn't for nonbelievers anyway, that'd be "desecration of the Eucharist".

          • Alexandra

            Hi michael,

            Non-believers, and any other non-Catholics, are welcome to join in any celebration of Mass. All are invited and welcomed to join us.

            As mentioned, Christmastime is a nice time to attend. When the Gloria or songs like Joy to the World are sung, it can take your breathe away.

            Here is an article to help newcomers:
            12 Things to Know If You’re Going to Mass for the First Time
            https://thosecatholicmen.com/articles/12-things-to-know-if-youre-going-to-mass-for-the-first-time/
            --
            NO-ONE, Catholic or otherwise, is allowed to desecrate the Eucharist.

            Here are some guidelines for receiving communion from the Bishop conference:

            http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/order-of-mass/liturgy-of-the-eucharist/guidelines-for-the-reception-of-communion.cfm

            " We also welcome to this celebration [Mass] those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family."

          • michael

            Did you carefully read all those links I gave you? PLEASE let the know once you do, I asked politely.

          • Jim the Scott

            Says the guy who confused a statement made by a Pope during an audience in 1999 with what is written in the CCC?

            I will not be polite in the face of willful stupidity. There is no excuse for this sloppyness on your part.

          • michael

            I believe it is ALSO in the Catechism. I have read it. I can check. and besides, the same pope sid it. What does it matter where it's from?

          • Jim the Scott

            So here you are all but admitting you made a claim you could not verify before hand? Which is stupid.

            BTW I checked for you and I could not find it. I found commentaries that referenced the Pope's statement but that is it.

            > the same pope sid it. What does it matter where it's from?

            A text without a context is a pretext. Thus this argument of your is stupid. Also not everything that even a Pope says is Gospel. Saying we send ourselves to Hell is like saying a criminal sends himself to jail by choosing to commit a crime and failing to escape justice. This doesn't absolutely exclude the role of the judge in sentencing him. I've read St. John Paul II writings. He nowhere absolutely excluded God's role as the Judge of all.

            Michael, Merry Christmas and DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,

            There's tons of information/articles there - so I only skimmed over it. I did not read it carefully. Rather than "shot-gun" me with a lot if information, is there any point or item in particular you'd like to discuss?

          • michael

            Where do I even start? Without religion various wars, including ones happening now, would' never have happened, families wouldn't be divided, marriages wouldn't be prevented between people of different religions/denominations, people wouldn't waste their live sin constant fear and doubt of "What if I'm wrong?" and If I decide I'm wrong, what if I go to Hell for that?", discrimination against the LGBT community would vanish in an instant, (As stated on the list, people cite their religion as the lone reason for their opposition to LGBT rights) people in terrible pain from incurable terminal diseases such as brain cancer wouldn't have religious people trying to deny them euthanasia solely on religious grounds, and as the exchristian.net article "the final frontier of tyranny" eloquently stated, adolescents and young adults the world around would breathe a huge sigh of relief as they no longer face the hadephobia (irrational fear of going to Hell) caused by their religion's bizarre teaching's that giving into the natural, harmless, healthy biological drive to masturbate will damn them to everlasting torment in Hell. The author of "the final frontier of tyranny" said he was so scared of Hell because he repeatedly gave in to the natural teenage hormonal urge that he prayed o god to go back in time and erase him form existence. The article mentions another teen who killed himself because ehe couldn't keep up with the rule. The comments have someone saying they saw the ambulance take away another student at a Christian school because he literally cut off his own penis to prevent himself form masturbating. Not to mention just belief in hell in and of itself is horribly depressing and angering. Studies have connected belief in Hell to not being happy. These articles state these things with greater detail and eloquence than these summaries, I FIRMLY recommend you carefully read them and the comments under them all, for your own good and for the good of those around you. Also, exchristian.net is a great site in general about how much better people feel calling it quits in Christianity.

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,

            Thanks for taking the time to respond.

            I can only speak for my limited understanding of Catholicism.

            Catholics don’t promote war, and divide families.

            Inter-faith marriages are allowed to the best of my knowledge. All the inter-faith couples I know (one Catholic – the other something else) were allowed to marry – some even to atheists and Jews.

            My understanding of the Catholic faith is to treat all people – including LGBT folks – with respect and dignity.

            As far as euthanasia goes – we live in a free country, where the majority rules. If you support suicide you are free to do so, as I am free to promote dying with dignity.

            Respectfully, I think you may have some bad information regarding hell. Hell is for those who reject God with their dying breath - not someone who makes a mistake in a moment of weakness.

            My one hope is that you are not lopsided in your assessment of Christianity’s impact on the world. Sadly, some of its member have fallen short, but I think if you are fair and weigh everything Christians have done over the centuries, I think you will find the good far outweighs the bad.

            Peace.

          • michael

            The Bible always describes Hell as something imposed externally by a wrathful Jesus (luke 13, Matthew 7) and says people in hell want to ge tout. Yet the cahtolcic Catechism and catholic teachings call Hell a "Definitive self-willed exclusion"! And my point is'nt that interfaith marriages are forbidden, it's that differences in faith can drive people apart and prevent said relationships. And Pope Urban II's speech trigger the Crusades, a lengthy and bloody series of wars. people accused of heresy were burned alive, and religious wars and massacres between Catholics and Protestants ravaged Europe. For 1600 years now Shia and Sunni Muslims have been at each other's throats. Without religion, the Israel-Palestine conflict would just end today and 9/11 would've never happened. And Catholics teaching is strictly against euthanasia, saying it's "playing God". And you didn't mention all the other stuff I listed. Scant doubt because you have nothing to refute it with.

          • SpokenMind

            Hi Michael,

            You are certainly entitled to your opinion of the Scriptures, but I don’t see any indication of a wrathful Jesus imposing hell on anyone in Luke 13 and Matthew 7.

            I don’t see why religion gets the blame for an interfaith marriage. Isn’t it the responsibility of both parties to assess these differences before entering into a relationship?

            Respectfully I would suggest reading up on the Crusades. Most of them were not Church sanctioned. The first Crusade was largely a rescue mission of Christians, for example.

            There’s no way candy-coat that some of the actions of member of the Church were wrong, but it was not the teaching of the church to do such things.

            Euthanasia makes a non-involved party (such as a doctor whose job it is to help people and do no harm) complicit in a murder.

            By the way, it would be incorrect to assume something just because I didn’t comment on it.

            Do you see Christians doing any good in the world? For example, when they take of poor and sick people, do you see that as a good thing?

            Peace.

          • michael

            Yes, I also do not believe being a Christian is a prerequisite towards helping the sick and poor. Luke 13 and Matthew 7 both describe people in Hell wanting leave and enter heaven, and Jesus refusing them access. That's not what a "definitive self-willed exclusion" is.

          • michael

            You seem to think taking care of poor or sick people requires Christianity.

          • disqus_fuSeqZHyR1

            spokenmind I agree

          • michael

            Did you receive those other links I sent? I don't see them on the thread.

          • michael

            Also religion divides people and causes wars.

          • SpokenMind

            The Catholic Church is the most charitable organization on the planet. How many atheist soup kitchens are there?

          • michael

            Atheists have enver waged war in the name o fahteism.

          • michael

            Also studies show that believe in hell is linked to people being less happy and nonbelief in hell to people being happier.

          • Jim the Scott

            So what? No doubt Criminals would be happer living in countries without law enforcement vs countries with strong law enforcement in which case they would be less happy.

          • michael

            What about the criminals victims? How would the absence of jails help them?

          • Jim the Scott

            Way to miss the point.

          • michael

            Plus you can't compare Hell to a jail, Hell is'nt about deterrence or rehabilitation, and jail does'nt smite you with your wordt nightmares ceaselessly for eternity.

          • Jim the Scott

            Rather my comparison is spot on. Also who said Jails are solely for deterrence or rehabilitation? They are also for retrivutive justice as well.

            Also you Horror movie trope view of Hell is childish.

          • Sample1

            There are Trad Catholics who believe the death penalty is a beautiful thing, particularly when it is meted out swiftly (rather than years) which they conjecture is more likely to bring one to Jesus before the lights turn out. Francis changed the catechism on the death penalty recently, hence the increased talk about it.

            Imagine if such religions had the kind of influence on state power they once had!

            Mike

          • michael

            What do you mean personal experiences? Did you physically see/hear Jesus in person? What does he look like? What's his voice like?

          • michael

            I believe that even if Jesus appeared in front of me and showed me the gaps in his hands and let I would not want to bow to him because Jesus casts people into hell and locks them in from his side of the door (Luke 13).

          • SpokenMind

            The way I see it - Jesus just honors one's free will choice to reject him.

          • michael

            A wicked and unrighteous "honor".

          • michael

            If Hell is the result of that, that's cruelty and wickedness, not love.

          • SpokenMind

            Please correct me if I am misunderstanding, your perspective is Jesus should force people to love him and be with him against their will. Is that really love then? Respectfully, I would disagree with you.

          • michael

            No, I would believe in/worship a god if he created the world and instantly gave everyone The Beatific Vision for free. None of that would involve mind control.

          • michael

            How is smiting people with unimaginable anguish day and night forever and ever love?

          • SpokenMind

            Isn't complete separation from God what some folks want? Hell is what things are like when there is no God.

          • michael

            Why ould someone decline The Beatific vision?

          • michael

            The Bible always talks of Hell a something imposed from he outside b Jesus, and it uses transitive verbs like "Smite".

          • Mark

            When the authors of Bible describes the metaphysical existence of things such as heaven or hell or God or souls it shouldn't be taken as literal. No literal or material thing can ever adequately describe a metaphysical thing that exists outside of that material existence. Words are at best a good metaphor.

            The last words my wife said to her Dad was "I hate you, I never want to see you again." He tragically died a few days later working on the road; she was 13. She might inadequately describe the state of her father-daughter relationship as being engulfed in an eternal burning furnace. Choosing not-God, not-love, not-good is what hell is; the same as choosing not-light is what darkness is. Your soul eternally understands fully the darkness of it's free will choices.

          • michael

            Said the person who has never read Luke 13 and does'nt know what the difference between a transitive and reflective verb is.

          • Mark

            I have read Luke 13. I also know what a transitive and reflexive are. In fact I just used a transitive verb: read. I also know how to contract does not: doesn't. Thank you for your benighted response.

          • michael

            OS you know luke 13 says Hell is imposed externally by Jesus, who locks people out of Heaven form his side of the door, not the other way around. OS I am right.

          • Jim the Scott

            @EamusCatuli0771108:disqus

            I got this too.

            Michael can you make even one rational argument? Just one?

            Your fallacy is simply this. I can say I went to the bank and I can say I went to market. But it doesn't logically imply if I only say I went to market that I didn't also go to the bank. Thus if Luke 13 says as you claim Hell is imposed externally by Jesus it does not logically follow that Hell isn't also imposed internally by us.

            This rings even more true since as I keep trying to tell the likes of you we Catholics don't accept Sola Scriptura or private interpretation. Why you keep using arguments that assume we are all Protestants is beyond me?

            I don't know why you keep repeating this stupid argument? Even if there are no gods the flaw in it is obvious.

          • michael

            The Catechism of The Catholic Church explicitly states word for word that the punishments of Hell and purgatory are "not imposed externally by God, but following from the very nature of sin". So that is the same as saying "A to the exclusion of B" and that Hell is a "definitive self-willed exclusion" despite Luke 13 and Matthew 7:22 describing people in Hell wanting to leave, contrary to the definition of "definitive".

          • Jim the Scott

            >The Catechism of The Catholic Church explicitly states word for word that the punishments of Hell and purgatory are "".

            Where?

            All that you shown me Micheal is you are good at pooftexting and ignoring my dead on criticism of your lame polemics. You are just misusing the CCC the way you misuse Luke 13. Also what you present above is NOT a quote from the CCC. As far as I can tell it is partial quote from a commentary by Anthony Josemaria on something St John Paul II wrote.

            CCC 1022-tell us of the “particular judgment” by Christ immediately upon the death of each human person by God.:

            Look it up to tell when where you got your quote.

            Anyway just citing verses out of context is not a rational argument nor is it good or convincing polemics even if Catholicism is a false religion. It is just stupid.

            You are like the JW who quotes "The Father is Greater than I" but downplays "I and the Father are One. He who has seen me has seen the Father".

            >So that is the same as saying "A to the exclusion of B" and that Hell is a "definitive self-willed exclusion" despite Luke 13 and Matthew 7:22 describing people in Hell wanting to leave, contrary to the definition of "definitive".

            Sorry but mere assertion is not argument. You have not proven this to be the case thus your argument is lame as per usual.

          • Jim the Scott

            Lying for Darwin are ee Michael or is it just carelessness? Or both?

            "Hell was not an invention of God. Rather, according to Pope John Paul II in a 1999 audience, “It is not a punishment imposed externally by God but a development of premises already set by people in this life.”

            So it is not from the CCC(cause I can't find it and you provided no specific citation). A Text without a context is a pretext.

            Anyway you are equivocating between God's judgement vs the origin and formal cause of Hell. Michael quit while you are behind.

          • michael

            Are you really so ignorant of scripture as not to realize that wherever the quote came from, it means the OPPOSITE of what The Bible says? That isn't proofreading, it is is simply the principle of non-contradiction. The Bible always uses transitive, verbs like "he shall cast them" rather than reflexitive verbs such as "They shall cast themselves". No amount of "But we don't follow Sola Scripture' or desperate rationalization can reconcile these two mutually exclusive ideas. Matthew 7 and Luke 13:24 plainly describe damned people trying to enter heaven, but being excluded against their will by Jesus, who has locked the door from his side, contrary to verse 613 of the Catechism.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Are you really so ignorant of scripture as not to realize that wherever the quote came from, it means the OPPOSITE of what The Bible says?

            How many times have I told you Catholics don't assume the Bible to be perspicuous? We are not Lutherans. How do ye not know that by now? I know what the text says but what does it mean? I know Christ said it is better to self mutilate then commit sin & become damned but I also know He didn't mean that literally since self mutilation is sinful.

            > That isn't proofreading, it is is simply the principle of non-contradiction.

            Rather it is blatant proof texting. You all but admitted in your last post that you gave the citation you claimed was from the CCC but it was from an audience given by St John Paul II and we don't have the context of that statement and you insist on reading your own interpretation into it isolated from the rest of tradition and revelation and even Papal teaching. That is just stupid even if there are no gods.

            >The Bible always uses transitive, verbs like "he shall cast them" rather than reflexitive verbs such as "They shall cast themselves".

            So what? Both the following statements can be true. "The judge sentenced them to jail for theft vs The criminals sentenced themselves to jail the day they choose to commit a crime. " Certainly (barring being accused of a crime they did not commit) a judge cannot do so if they had chosen differently.

            >No amount of "But we don't follow Sola Scripture' or desperate rationalization can reconcile these two mutually exclusive ideas.

            I just did it. The sentence "the judge sentenced them" is clearly transitive and is in harmony with the reflexive one "they sentenced themselves" given the context.

            Epic fail on your part Michael.

            > Matthew 7 and Luke 13:24 plainly describe damned people trying to enter heaven, but being excluded against their will by Jesus, who has locked the door from his side, contrary to verse 613 of the Catechism.

            Rather it plainly describes damned people wanting to escape justice which they deserve but not being able to which is not the same thing. Not wanting to face the consequences of your wrong actions is not the same as wanting to know and love God and allow Him to change you to make you worthy of that end.

            So you whole argument is an epic fail. Even if there are no gods. It has no merit at all & I have destroyed it. I have put it down like Old Yeller. Except I won't cry over it. You might.

            Merry Christmas and do your homework.

          • michael

            I showed you the exact number of the section from the CCC I was talking about. Verse 613. And you are just arbitrarily adding stuff into Matthew 7 and Luke 13:24 that aren't implied there.

          • Jim the Scott

            Waiting 9 days then repeating nonsense I already refuted? Stop being a troll you aren't even good at that. You cited a statement from an audience from Pope St John Paul II and claimed it was a quote from the Catechism. I caught you lying now move on.

          • Jim the Scott

            additional:

            Verse 613:
            613 Christ's death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world",439 and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the "blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins".440

            Yeh what that has to do with your original false claim Quote"The Catechism of The Catholic Church explicitly states word for word that the punishments of Hell and purgatory are "not imposed externally by God, but following from the very nature of sin". END?

            You are drunk Mike. Sober up and go home and DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

          • Jim the Scott

            >The Catechism of The Catholic Church explicitly states word for word that the punishments of Hell and purgatory are "not imposed externally by God, but following from the very nature of sin".

            1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust,"623 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man's] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."624 Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."625

            Your quote is from an audience given by St John Paul II not the CCC. A text without a context is a pretext. I don't imagine the Pope is at odds with the CCC but really Michael. You are bad at this.

          • Sample1

            If I loved someone and they didn’t love me I’d likely go through an entire range of emotions, some transcending the capacity for others to even understand.

            But I would never, ever engineer a scenario where their free choice to reject my love resulted in their death.

            Mike

          • michael

            I don't believe in Free Will, I believe in The Principal of Sufficient Reason.

          • Sample1

            I go back and forth on those ideas depending on the context of what kind of philosophical explanation is being attempted. I’m least sympathetic to those philosophies that allow the immaterial to contradict the material.

            Mike

          • michael

            If I were a believer I'd try to stop people from having children out of fear they could end up in Hell. If you know beforehand your child would grow up to be the next Ted Bundy you'd avoid having the child and would be guilty if you did.

          • michael

            How tall is Jesus since you seem to claim to have had personal experiences with him? How long is his beard?

          • Sample1

            These are excellent questions actually. I’ve never thought to ask them. It will require the person in religion to explain what is meant by personal. Something tells me their definitions will have natural explanations which will further our understanding of how divine experiences can be explained naturally.

            But I’ll withhold that speculation for now in favor of being open minded.

            Mike

          • SpokenMind

            Funny. It's not like that. It's difficult to put such an experience into words. But I did know that I was profoundly loved – I could feel it throughout my body.

          • michael

            That's called "The Placebo Effect".

          • michael

            The Placebo Effect even gives badly wounded soldiers the illusion of being better.

          • michael

            Once I stopped believing I stopped feeling The Placebo Effect when taking the Eucharist.

          • michael

            I've seen a Mormon, and a Jehovah's Witnesss, people of very different denominations claim to "feel the holy spirit blazing" or cry during a church service. It's all just in people's brains.

          • SpokenMind

            I can't speak for the experiences of others, but I know what I experienced.

  • Otto Tellick

    There's an important point missing from this statement of the starting point:

    Since all human knowledge begins in sensation, it is reasonable that all proofs for God’s existence must begin with data taken from sensible creation.

    That's true as far as it goes, but it's way short of going far enough. Here's what's missing: Since the vast majority of human knowledge (actually, all shared human knowledge) is mediated by social interaction, it is unavoidable that all "proofs" for God's existence must depend on social consensus regarding interpretations of individual sensation. In fact, with regard to proofs for any supernatural entity, social consensus is the only substantive basis, since every case of direct "sensation of God's presence" is either entirely subjective, or else entirely an interpretive construct shared by a given group.

    Meanwhile, it's entirely possible (and has been happening among an expanding number of people) that a reasonable, well-motivated consensus can be formed that does NOT involve a singular, sentient, supernatural, omniscient, omnipotent, omni-present, omni-benevolent, willful entity who: (a) had specific reasons for creating humans, (b) created everything else we're aware of -- not to mention all the things we're not yet aware of -- specifically as part of a grand plan to create humans, (c) loves all humans and seeks personal connections with each of them, (d) grants an eternal existence after death in paradise for humans who meet certain conditions, (e) condemns many humans to eternal conscious torment for failing to meet those conditions, (f) accommodates and allows the existence of evil and suffering in the lives of humans, and so on... (The extended list for Catholics may be longer or shorter relative to other Christian denominations, but in any case, the farther we go down a given list, the greater the strain on suspending disbelief.)

    I should apologize for posting this comment before reading past the 3rd paragraph. I expect I'll take the time to read the rest, and may comment further, but it's safe to say that, to the extent the rest depends on the bit I've quoted, the truth value of the whole is dubious, at best.

    • … it is unavoidable that all "proofs" for God's existence must depend on social consensus regarding interpretations of individual sensation.

      I'm afraid I radically disagree with a [plausible] presupposition; there is no social consensus on ontology. Look at the plethora of options at interpretations of quantum mechanics. Compare & contrast the radically different schools of mathematical thought. Compare the sociologists who think it's all structure and those who think it's all agency. There is no agreement on ontology. At most there is sometimes a tenuous agreement on appearance. You paint a picture of science which [plausibly] matches this:

      In brief, the Leibnizian ideal holds that all disputes about matters of fact can be impartially resolved by invoking appropriate rules of evidence. At least since Bacon, most philosophers have believed there to be an algorithm or set of algorithms which would permit any impartial observer to judge the degree to which a certain body of data rendered different explanations of those data true or false, probable or improbable. Philosophers have expressed varying degrees of optimism about whether we now know precisely what those evidentiary rules are. (Mill, for instance, believed that we already had them in hand. Others, more pessimistic, believed that we had yet to develop the full kit.) (Science and Values, 5)

      Nobody who has smooshed his/her face into the evidence believes the above anymore. It is radically wrong. Maybe it's a pipe dream and maybe it will come true at one point, but the empirical evidence does not support the above. The alleged "consensus" does not exist. See for example the the table of contents of Luciano L'Abate's 2011 Paradigms in Theory Construction and see that different psychologists can see the same phenomena and come to different conclusions.

      In fact, with regard to proofs for any supernatural entity, social consensus is the only substantive basis, since every case of direct "sensation of God's presence" is either entirely subjective, or else entirely an interpretive construct shared by a given group.

      Owen Barfield talks about 'collective representations' in Saving the Appearances: A Study in Idolatry and I think that idea matches up with your 'social consensus'. He connects 'collective representations', when we take them for The Truth™, to idolatry in the OT. We bow down to the created thing (see note 2 at NET: Ex 20:4). Now I am not saying that you are advocating such a thing, but you get dangerously close. Because anything which is 100% subjective is 100% dismissable. If a given human being is the only one who says X, you get to ignore him/her. But what if God values the individual highly, and wants to introduce [some] new knowledge through the individual, the one among the many? The notion of 100% subjective blocks this.

      Now, there might be a way to correct what you've said—at least, the version that's in my mind. I say God gives to us so that we can give of it to others and thus be a channel of his grace and mercy and peace. (justification, more) That means that 100% subjective experiences are not meant to stay 100% subjective. So for example:

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3–7)

      This is a very important kind of learning which starts 100% subjective but does not stay that way. I say the same can happen with learning of all sorts—emotional, intellectual, tactile, etc. The Bible is 100% against God giving us stuff that just stays forever ours. On the other hand, it does allow for there to be a … 'private zone':

      He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17)

      Now, maybe we agree more than I think; our previous interactions indicate that is plausible. I haven't at all dealt with your (c) and it's a doozy. For the briefest of beginnings on that, I suggest taking a look at my reply to Dr. Bonnette, especially the bit about coercion/​manipulation. C.S. Lewis plays with the idea of 'love' being enacted as coercion/​manipulation in both The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces; I think he was really on to something. Until we admit what we are doing, how much can God say or do?

      • Otto Tellick

        There's no way I can reply to all of that, but here and there I got a hint that you may have taken my use of "consensus" the wrong way. I never intended to imply that such a thing as "absolute consensus" about this or that field or detail of knowledge could ever exist -- of course it won't.

        As for the potential value of anything that is "100% subjective," the whole point of concepts like pluralism, free speech, open and critical inquiry, etc., is to provide equal opportunity for any subjective idea to emerge from its skull, appear in full daylight before others, and maybe, if others are so inclined, to have some effect on the world. Having peer review among that set of concepts provides essential checks and balances. I'm totally in favor of all of that, and I think it should be able to extend to things like allowing gay marriage, birth control, honest sex education in public schools, and (for the women who decide, whether on their own or in consultation, that they need it) first-trimester abortions.

        Being human, we can't do pluralism, free speech, etc. perfectly, and a lot of us might not be inclined to put in the effort to get better at it over time. It's a perpetual struggle, the stakes are high, and the probability of losing ground is never negligible.

        • Sorry Otto but I ended up writing another big response and I'm not sure I can shorten it. Feel free to continue to pick slices of what I write. I believe these issues to be complex and not always simplifiable for the current context. Much hides in words and terms and letting it stay hidden can be very bad.

          There's no way I can reply to all of that, but here and there I got a hint that you may have taken my use of "consensus" the wrong way. I never intended to imply that such a thing as "absolute consensus" about this or that field or detail of knowledge could ever exist -- of course it won't.

          There is nonzero consensus among Christians as well. For example, I introduced my pastor to Alistair McFadyen's The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships and this deepened our consensus because we think McFadyen is onto something true. (I just excerpted a bit on the Trinity to you.) You cannot appeal to pragmatic efficacy, or you rule out M-theorists and other theorists. The fact that Christianity is more fragmented than e.g. psychology should not be surprising; all religion has to deal with all of life, while the sciences and pick and choose. Furthermore, scientific training produces a narrowing which has benefits and costs; the common person is not shaped this way. We should then expect more variety with less depth—right?

          As for the potential value of anything that is "100% subjective," the whole point of concepts like pluralism, free speech, open and critical inquiry, etc., is to provide equal opportunity for any subjective idea to emerge from its skull, appear in full daylight before others, and maybe, if others are so inclined, to have some effect on the world.

          That's the dogma/​rhetoric. I do not believe that to be the reality. I suspect that social power is either as protected as it ever was, or more protected. I can go in to reasons for why. You might note the increase in censorship of this country, starting with social media. Do you think it will stay there? Have you looked at surveys of American college students on how much they value free speech? I worry—I won't say I'm scared, but I worry.

          Having peer review among that set of concepts provides essential checks and balances.

          I am not sure I believe this when it comes to those sciences and parts of sciences which are ultra-relevant to political issues. One can look at the response to the New Family Structures Study (Regnerus et al, 2012). One can look at the extent to which The nature of belief systems in mass publics (Converse, 1964) has been ignored or rationalized away by the political science community. We can look at how rational choice theory has permeated not just economics but political science and sociology as well. (cf. Rational Choice Theory: Resisting Colonisation) See the research Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government, which indicates that on average, those better at analyzing data are more likely to rationalize it away when it conflicts with their ideology.

          Science is fantastic when it is [relatively] apolitical. But I think we have a terrible, terrible, terrible understanding of agency. Some confirmation:

          Our basic thesis—that we are strategically blind to key aspects of our motives—has been around in some form or another for millennia. It’s been put forward not only by poets, playwrights, and philosophers, but also by countless wise old souls, at least when you catch them in private and in the right sort of mood. And yet the thesis still seems to us neglected in scholarly writings; you can read a mountain of books and still miss it. (The Elephant in the Brain, ix)

          We humans—especially we Enlightened Westerners—have blinded ourselves when it comes to taking a sober look at ourselves. This can be seen in spades in the prediction–measurement disparity at Milgram experiment § Results. Charles Taylor offers quite the attack against naturalism as applied to human identity in the first part of Sources of the Self (12,000 'citations'). And then there is this bombshell:

          When emotion is entirely left out of the reasoning picture, as happens in certain neurological conditions, reason turns out to be even more flawed than when emotion plays bad tricks on our decisions. (Descartes' Error, xii)

          So, peer review seems … insufficient. Peer review does not appear able to overcome systematic error. If you say that I just gave two examples where it does: I'm not sure how many actually accept either and I can only use examples like that to suggest that there is a false asymptote we are 100% uninterested in exploring. (See Josef Pieper's "living under the canopy".) One can be locked inside a philosophical prison with bars which cannot be tasted, touched, heard, smelled, or seen.

          Being human, we can't do pluralism, free speech, etc. perfectly, and a lot of us might not be inclined to put in the effort to get better at it over time. It's a perpetual struggle, the stakes are high, and the probability of losing ground is never negligible.

          I think the problem is deeper than that. As long as "free speech" is used to paper over differences (see also my "methodological positivism"), it will merely serve to obscure value systems which are drifting apart. It will be a way to say "Peace, Peace! when there is no peace." Here:

          No one expects that anything called "reason" will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as "the nature of the universe" or "the end and the object of life." Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the "fact of oppression."[36] So a central function of "public reason" today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their "comprehensive doctrines"—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible "overlapping consensus".[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, 14–15)

          • Otto Tellick

            Are you really such a pessimist in general? Or are you just working to cast a pessimistic light on naturalism and secularism? Sure, peer review is clunky and slow and may be as likely to make mistakes as whatever it happens to review. But would we be better off with the alternative (absence of peer review)? You seem to be suggesting that without your God, we're all doomed to perpetually repeat all our mistakes. Well, I'm sorry, but over a few millennia of sustained, socially coerced religious belief, folks have been doing a bang-up job of repeating all their mistakes. So let's actually try something different, something other than socially coerced religious belief, and see what actually happens. It'll be bumpy and risky and there'll be setbacks, but having tested these waters over just the last few hundred years, I think there's good evidence that the approach has positive value for our continued existence. (I'm an optimistic naturalist.)

          • I'm sorry this discussion seems to have soured for you, Otto.

            Please understand that I come at reality as someone who spent his entire K–12 education as a social outcast: mocked by peers, casually rejected from friend-groups, used for homework help then tossed aside, abandoned by those I thought were friends at the drop of a hat. I see a darkness in human nature which I think is well-explained by René Girard: we humans suck at taking full responsibility for our actions, and thus seek out scapegoats to engage in blame-shifting. It is also beneficial to have a 'hell' which society can point to, and say: "Behave, or you'll end up like that person." Persistent mockery from all sides is a great way to construct hells. Anyhow, things are tremendously better now (I am married and regularly meet with my pastor and other guys to discuss theology and everything else), but I still carry with me a deep, abiding distrust of society. The more I read in the human sciences, the more I believe it.

            It'll be bumpy and risky and there'll be setbacks, but having tested these waters over just the last few hundred years, I think there's good evidence that the approach has positive value for our continued existence. (I'm an optimistic naturalist.)

            Given confirmation bias and stuff like Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government, I say we need people like you and me to occasionally pound at the issue from both sides to see what emerges. No one person can do this within himself/​herself. (I would say God designed us this way so that we could not be self-sufficient.)

            I would like to suggest that science is fantastic where it examines agency-free phenomena, and more terrible as it needs to take human agency more seriously. If I'm right, this allows for a kind of progress in one domain, and at best a cancerous growth in the other. If you are a Star Trek fan, you might have seen the TOS episode Charlie X. In it, a child comes on the Enterprise whom people find out has incredible powers. The question is: how does the crew control an agent with childlike morality but godlike ability? I worry that we Moderns are headed in that direction. In addition to After Virtue, I would suggest Steven D. Smith's The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse on this matter.

            Furthermore, I would like to be wrong. In a sense I think it was cool when Intelligent Design folks spurred scientists to come up with a plausible explanation for how the eye developed. So one result of my poking and prodding might be something similar when it comes to our understanding of human agency and our acting intelligently on top of that understanding. In fact, because I believe God wants us to understand reality in a deep and "connected" fashion which can be communicated to others, I expect this to happen! But I worry that without what Charles Taylor calls "articulation work", we may end up as moral infants.

            Are you really such a pessimist in general?

            No, I'm actually exceedingly optimistic that if we fasted the truth about ourselves and reality, we could do absolutely amazing things. I have discovered in life that generally, people can see problems about as intense as their resources for resolving those problems. This is probably a psychological defense mechanism: to think that things are worse than you know how to solve is a great way to be sent into depression and even suicide. I suspect this happened to David Foster Wallace.

            Or are you just working to cast a pessimistic light on naturalism and secularism?

            I am more pessimistic about those who claim to know God but manifest [little to] none of his power. In Ezek 9:3–11, YHWH says "begin at my sanctuary". There are parts of naturalism and secularism I rather like—as long as one doesn't ontologize them. I have sympathy with Christian Naturalism, for example. Secularism done right preserves an inner sanctum for the individual and groups such that they can develop then introduce newness to society which didn't merely come from society. Each person can have a Holy of Holies, as it were. Anyone who attempts to enter mine without following the appropriate purification rights gets violently expelled. As Jacques Ellul wrote in 1973, "A scientific attempt is being made to get to the inner forum of man and to change it." (The Ethics of Freedom, 27) I will not be docile, I will not be domesticated. And religious folk are probably the best at doing that.

            But would we be better off with the alternative (absence of peer review)?

            No. However, I will not have its power and abilities inflated past what the evidence indicates. There is a great weakness in science that few speak of except in the most harmful of ways: "The social sciences aren't real science." No True Scotsman, ahoy!

            You seem to be suggesting that without your God, we're all doomed to perpetually repeat all our mistakes.

            Hmm, Nietzsche did believe in an eternal return IIRC. But I prefer to think of it as a Poincaré recurrence. The article states: "The result applies to isolated mechanical systems subject to some constraints, e.g., all particles must be bound to a finite volume." If our system is 'isolated' and 'mechanical' and subject to those constraints, the mathematics tells us what happens. Who am I to argue with sound logic? (BTW, there are many ways to break out of this other than "my God", unless perhaps you keep zooming out but even then I'm not sure.)

            Well, I'm sorry, but over a few millennia of sustained, socially coerced religious belief, folks have been doing a bang-up job of repeating all their mistakes.

            You might look at my reference to the Thirty Years' War on this very page. More and more, I am seeing that as condemning a terrific amount of Christianity, especially to the extent that it has not been repented of. I also need to read Ephraim Radner's The End of the Church and A Brutal Unity—he's one of the few academics I know of who takes Jn 17:20–23 seriously.

            So let's actually try something different, something other than socially coerced religious belief, and see what actually happens.

            Does censorship on social media count as "socially coerced religious belief"? Does self-censorship in high schools and colleges count as "socially coerced religious belief"? I would suggest that society is plenty controlling, but that it has become so good at it that we either don't notice or think it's a good thing. At least those who are in power think this; those who get crushed by it tend to think differently. But that is how it has always been.

    • BCE

      I am not a theologian and I'm generally not very good with analogies, which
      often fall short even for the more learned.

      I explain it to myself like...
      If I say GOAT represent letters, g, o,a, t then though they are distinct, each is equally a letter. Each has the same potency, in that each brings the same
      power to to make the single word * goat
      Each are equal members of the *one word, each *equally a letter, each a sound.
      each equally making the word GOAT *intelligible, so that it's not Go at[it]

      Though this is insufficient, math and set theory do a fairly good job
      of explaining inclusiveness and super sets.
      Again pardon my poor example, but let's say there is you
      you are a part of these sets
      human person now alive, the subset of all human persons that ever lived, (and yes there are proper empty sets ), all mammals, all living animals etc
      While this doesn't prove god, it expresses a mathematical reality
      that 2, 10, 1000.....are subordinate to the Super set of infinitives.
      Subsets are lesser, down to the most inferior.
      The super set represents the superior. It is both singular(in being one and all) and superior.
      That's not subjective.

      As for culture, no more then one might write ...II, ●● or 2 and each thinks
      they understand TWO, that shouldn't give you any reason to think two can be anything other than very objectively two.
      That there is C02 or H20
      Our consensus should lead to the conclusion
      that it's reasonable, in-fact, if there is a God he's anything but subjective

  • Otto Tellick

    There's something about footnote 9 that has a distinct taint of "special pleading." The concept of the Trinity is quizzical and ultimately incoherent on its own, but to say in addition that it is somehow compatible with a claim that "God cannot be a composite" merely compounds or multiplies the incoherence. Equivocation? Double-think? Word salad? I'm at a loss to pick the most appropriate label.

    • Hi Otto, nice to see you here on SN. Do you have a favorite critique of the Trinity as incoherent? I'd be somewhat interested in testing whatever it is you come up with in four ways:

           (1) GR vs. QFT as irreconcilable so far
           (2) photons as both particles and waves
           (3) current theory does not permit [single] free quarks
           (4) the problems understanding agency scientifically

      It is my claim that the Trinity is rather all-encompassing, such that any comparison made to it of knowledge that is ostensibly "clear and distinct" is dubious, unless the comparison is made to enough human knowledge. But once you hit "enough", I think you start having problems. To get anything like Descartes' "clear and distinct ideas", I think you have to cherry-pick from human scientific knowledge. So, I want to ensure the comparison is a fair one, between the Trinity and ____.

      • Dennis Bonnette

        I applaud your defense of the Trinity.

        One also wonders whether the skeptics have read St. Thomas Aquinas' explicit and detailed defense of the rational coherence of the dogma of the Trinity as explained in magnificent detail in his Summa Theologiae I, qq. 27-43.

        There St. Thomas carefully explains the various processions within the divine substance which do not in any way violate the divine simplicity and are in no conflict whatever with the principle of non-contradiction. He in no way undercuts the revealed truth that this is a theological mystery, but at the same time does the properly philosophical task of defending its rational coherence.

        See my end note number 9 above.

        • One caution I would have is that if we don't understand reality without contradiction (and the contradiction between GR and QFT appears to be incredibly fundamental), why should we expect to understand God without contradiction? Maybe … the contradiction lies in us. This is actually part of the meaning of Emil Brunner's Der Mensch im Widerspruch which was lost when it was translated as Man in Revolt. Humankind is not just in revolt, it is in contradiction. We were designed to love others as much as we loves ourselves and to channel God's grace and power into creation. But we said "Mine!" and "Not my fault!" Both contradict our nature but we have so thoroughly integrated those assertions into our beings (this includes what is taught in university). I think something like chapter 1 of MacIntyre's After Virtue is applicable (he riffs on A Canticle for Leibowitz).

          Now, I'm only really confident in the Trinity being important because of what two authors have done with it†:

               • Colin E. Gunton's The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity
               • Alistair McFadyen's The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships

          After chewing on these for a while, I have concluded that we need a notion of cooperative causation which permits this:

          Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)

          This is a fundamentally non-coercive operation and yet:

          For one way of framing my contention that morality is not what it once was is just to say that to a large degree people now think, talk, and act as if emotivism were true, no matter what their avowed theoretical standpoint might be. Emotivism has become embodied in our culture.

              What is the key to the social content of emotivism? It is the fact that emotivism entails the obliteration of any genuine distinction between manipulative and non-manipulative social relations. (After Virtue, 22–23)

          Any ontology Modernity has come up with which has gained any traction is, at its core, coercive. There is no other mode of causation. I have pushed this quotation time and again online and no atheist has ever given me a rebuttal of any kind. There hasn't even been an attempt. It is my suspicion that the Trinity exhibits a non-coercive causation from which we need to learn.

           
          † Sorry, church authority is very weak in my mind, especially after so many Christians decided it would be ok to mass-murder their fellow Christians 1618–1648.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            While human nature is such after the Fall that we often appear to live with many de facto contradictions, I hope you will forgive me for contradicting you by supporting the objective validity of metaphysical non-contradiction. The science examples you give are perhaps valid for natural scientific theory, but, given the inherent epistemic limitations of natural science, I think I can live with some of that.

            Besides, should it just so happen that St. Thomas does, in fact, demonstrate how the Trinity need not entail any ontological contradictions, I think you might agree we me that that is all to the good.

            As for that Thirty Years "Misunderstanding," this does not necessarily contradict the objective validity of Church authority, as much as it bespeaks the ongoing weakness inherent in a Church full of the sinners whom Christ came to save. After all, it appears that God himself had a bigger problem with humanity that he had to solve in his own way during the generation of Noah.

          • While human nature is such after the Fall that we often appear to live with many de facto contradictions, I hope you will forgive me for contradicting you by supporting the objective validity of metaphysical non-contradiction.

            Sure, but that means God is non-contradictory, not that our understanding of God will always be non-contradictory. That's actually a growth plate for new understanding, as I explain at Intersubjectivity is Key.

            Besides, should it just so happen that St. Thomas does, in fact, demonstrate how the Trinity need not entail any ontological contradictions, I think you might agree we me that that is all to the good.

            I haven't examined his argument in detail (I'm actually pretty ignore of Aquinas). The reason I like Gunton's and McFadyen's books is that they posit models for how distorted understanding of the Trinity leads to distortion in day-to-day life, as well as distortion at the societal and historical levels. Misunderstanding the creator leads to misunderstanding the creation—and trying bad strategies to fix what we understand as brokenness in creation.

            As for that Thirty Years "Misunderstanding," this does not necessarily contradict the objective validity of Church authority, as much as it bespeaks the ongoing weakness inherent in a Church full of the sinners whom Christ came to save. After all, it appears that God himself had a bigger problem with humanity that he had to solve in his own way during the generation of Noah.

            I see no reason to believe that God was solving a bigger problem with Noah than we have now; he merely vowed to never do another "flatten & reinstall via chaos". Jesus describes Noah's time as "eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage"—normal things. Was the evil heinous sin, or might it have been something as simple as utter refusal to grow? (That is, what possibilities do the Bible leave open?)

            As to the authority thing, how deeply did everyone involved in the Thirty Years' War repent, and where can I look to see both proclamations of repentance and then empirical evidence which shows it was even remotely true repentance? In order to think that massacring one another was even a possibility, they must have been deeply, deeply screwed up. The error could not have been small. Well, where can I see the error analyzed in gory detail?

            I don't even see a rationale for burning a single heretic at the stake. (I'm especially thinking of Calvin & Michael Servetus.) Doesn't the parable of the wheat and tares say to wait 'till harvest time? (I'd be happy to be corrected on this. Maybe harvest time comes often?)

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If St. Thomas has correctly resolved the seeming contradictions so often accused of the Trinity, then not only is God not contradictory in himself, but also our understanding of him entails no contradictions. My reading of St. Thomas is that he succeeds. Since you have not followed him in detail there, I guess we cannot really discuss the issue further.

            As for the Thirty Years War, I don't think the issue of repentance is directly relevant to the question of the reality of authority in the Church. Christ assured us that he would always be with his Church. Catholics read that as meaning some form of guidance at the highest levels. At the moment I am not sure if that applies only to doctrine, or to authority as well as doctrine.

            Nonetheless, the fact is that authority can be misused -- badly. But it does not cease to exist simply for that reason. Good kings can be followed by evil kings followed by good kings. The line of hierarchical succession of authority is not terminated by its misuse by a given king.

            St. Thomas does argue that a bad law, that is, one that violates natural law, is no law at all. This might raise a question about the applicability of a given ordinance, especially of a civil ruler or legislature. But it does not disestablish the authority of a ruler or legislature in itself, assuming it is legitimately established.

            Bottom line: even though the Thirty Years War was an atrocious period of human misbehavior and abject cruelty, I don't see how it is an argument against the very existence of legitimate authority -- even if most of the leaders at that time are hypothesized to be roasting in Hell forever.

            As for burning people at the stake, I am with you. But then, it might have been seen as a legitimate form of retributive justice in that era. I suspect the greater problem was falsely accusing people of witchcraft right and left -- with no real evidence except superstitious nonsense. Even more relevantly, if there were actual signs of some sort of demonic activity, it would appear that recourse to exorcism would be more to the point than burning people at the stake.

          • Otto Tellick

            As for burning people at the stake, I am with you. But then, it might have been seen as a legitimate form of retributive justice in that era.

            Is there some sense in which that statement is not an endorsement of moral relativism?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I would agree with you that no one should be burnt at the stake for being a heretic today. Nonetheless, there was a time when godlessness was perceived as a genuine threat to a theocratic society, and so capital punishment was justified. The issue would not be the heresy as such, but the perceived threat to the social order.

            My consistency is that I support capital punishment in principle and, sometimes, in fact -- but would not perceive heresy as grounds for applying it. That is why I said "it might have been seen as a legitimate form of retributive justice in that era." "Have been seen" are the operative words.

            You may not agree with my principles here, but I think I can avoid the charge of moral relativism. ;-)

        • michael

          The Trinity contradicts preschool level math and grammar. The distinction between singular and plural nouns. 3 is not 1. 1 is not 3.

      • Otto Tellick

        Hi Luke. I thought I had posted a reply to your comment a day ago, but I'm not seeing it now, so I'll try again... (won't be the same, but shorter is probably better).

        No, I don't have "a favorite critique of the Trinity as incoherent." I frankly don't think that any comparison between it and any other knowledge (outside the realm of Christian doctrine) would be a "fair" one, because the Trinity is so thoroughly limited in its foundation (your opinion about it being "all-encompassing" notwithstanding): it arises solely and entirely from (1) a finite set of verses in the canonical Christian scriptures, and (2) a series of councils in the early centuries that strove to formalize and enforce a singular authoritative source of dogma. As I see it, the point of Trinitarian doctrine (as it has come down to us today) was to reconcile some contradictions -- or to put it charitably, points prone to confuse practitioners -- that were intrinsic to that set of verses, and to do so with a degree of authority sufficient to override any perception of contradiction -- or to put it charitably, to forestall future recurrences of confusion.

        In my experience, the limited nature of the doctrine is shown by the fact that every defense of the doctrine consists entirely of (1) recitations of various verses from scripture, and (2) various ways of rephrasing, analogizing, diagramming or simply repeating the description of the doctrine. There is never anything that connects in any way to something outside those verses of scripture and the discussions among those early councils.

        As for your list of four items: I don't know anything about 3, and doubt I could discuss it constructively; 4 depends on having a definition of "agency" that is approachable by the scientific method, and this is probably not the time or place to pursue that. We can discuss GR vs. QFT and/or wave/particle duality if you like, but trying to draw these into any kind of comparison with the Trinity would absolutely not be "fair" -- nor would be be especially enlightening, I think, except to the detriment of the Trinity as a topic for serious consideration.

        • Hi Luke. I thought I had posted a reply to your comment a day ago, but I'm not seeing it now, so I'll try again... (won't be the same, but shorter is probably better).

          Yeah that's happened to Doug Shaver as well; I think I'll have to ping him about it. It's so often the long, well-thought-out comments which get stuck—at least for those with whom I tend to converse.

          In my experience, the limited nature of the doctrine is shown by the fact that every defense of the doctrine consists entirely of (1) recitations of various verses from scripture, and (2) various ways of rephrasing, analogizing, diagramming or simply repeating the description of the doctrine. There is never anything that connects in any way to something outside those verses of scripture and the discussions among those early councils.

          Ah, well, let me change that:

              Paradoxically, the opposite pathological extremes of absolute monotheism and tritheism involve an identical mistaken assumption about the nature of individuality. Both take individual identity to be something pre-social removed from the sphere of relation as such. They are therefore bound to regard dialogical relations with others which make a difference to individual identity (inform it) as the fracture of an integrated personality or the alienation of identity. The two extremes are the inevitable result of pressing for hard and exclusive definitions (closed boundaries) of personal identity.
              The desire to preserve monotheism at all costs becomes pathological when the supposed exclusivity of individuality invites the affirmation of a single, unrelated and undifferentiated divine subject of whom alone may all divine communication be predicated. Consequently, God is understood to be self-generating and self-enclosed: the unmoved mover, the first and only cause whose relations cannot be informative for the divine being or will in any way, as that would seem to destroy self-consistency and constancy. God becomes, then, the archetypal individual: impassible and apathetic. Relations and communication must be a one-way (monological) exercise of determinating, manipulative and dominating power, which may affect others but which leave God untouched.
              In the understanding of hard monotheism, a person is taken to be a source or subject of communication, and the Godhead to be the sole divine subject. The Trinity cannot then consist of a plurality of Persons, so defined, if the singularity of the divine subjectivity is to be maintained. As nonpersons the members of the Trinity have no individual (i.e. separable) identity or consciousness. They cannot therefore be internally differentiated but related members of the Godhead constituted as a community: they can only be external modes of relation of the one individual and not individual identities themselves. The three Persons are reduced to distinct modes of being and relation through which a single, transcendent subject acts.[8] If individual personhood is taken to indicate a subjectivity centred in an exclusive manner, then centring the divine subjectivity in the highest organisational level (the Godhead) and reducing the status of the lower levels (the Persons) is the only available means of securing monotheism.
              Similarly, a commitment informed by the same asocial conception of individual personhood but committed to the distinct identities of the Persons can only destroy the unity in the Godhead. Each Person has the status of full individuality which, as asocial, jeopardises their interrelationship and creates three gods, each of whose subjectivity is exclusive of the others and of their interrelationship. Divine activity may be predicated of only one of these at any one time. They cannot therefore act through, in, with or from one another. Tritheism subsumes relations into Persons totally distinct from all relations and hence from one another. The unity and oneness of the Trinity is completely abandoned to the along-sidedness of the three distinct personal centres who have only themselves and not each other at their own disposal.
              The human image of the one or three divine individuals whose identities remain pure from the taints of relation is the isolated, solitary human individual who, as intrinsically unrelated (i.e. only accidentally or incidentally related in a way which is not determinative of identity and being) is both the sole source and object of his or her communication. The anthropology which corresponds to pathological models of the Trinity is an individualism in which the person is a closed circle of communication engaged in a cyclic orientation on oneself through oneself for oneself. Such relations as do exist are not only non-determinative but internalised, so that external reality (including others) is subsumed into forms of self-reference, which reduces its reality as other. What is other is perceivable only as self-confirmatory and in terms of self-interest. Communication may intend the other only as an object, rather than autonomous subject, of communication.[9] Otherness is reduced to a self-relation, real only as it appears in the subject’s consciousness, as a repetition of a previously privately coordinated understanding: others cannot confront one as other, with their own reality and interests independent of one’s own which establish both limits and claims on one. (The Call to Personhood, 25–26)

          Have I piqued your interest? I'm going to ignore my (1)–(4) for the moment, as I think the above might be enough for now.

          • Otto Tellick

            "... might be enough for now"? Gee, you really think so? Call me surprised that you would think that. But seriously, thanks. It took me a while, but I have read the full passage with (I think) adequate comprehension. (Just don't expect me to spend time proving my comprehension is adequate.)

            I certainly see the value of McFadyen's line of argument here; it helps me see more deeply into some of the discussions I've read on Roger Olson's blog about disputes between Calvinists and Arminians (and why you and Dr. Olson get along so well).

            But have you piqued my interest? No. As enlightening and perceptive as it is, this passage is focused and predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God -- particularly the one associated with the Christian Bible. I don't accept that premise, for lots of reasons. I honestly appreciate that McFadyen brings to light a number of important points about personality and about what it means for persons to interact / communicate with one another -- that's really good stuff. But it doesn't provide the kind of substantiation that would be needed to overcome the barriers to a "rational" (well-motivated) belief in the Christian God.

            (minor edits on the first paragraph, for clarity)

          • I certainly see the value of McFadyen's line of argument here; it helps me see more deeply into some of the discussions I've read on Roger Olson's blog about disputes between Calvinists and Arminians (and why you and Dr. Olson get along so well).

            Wow, I totally wasn't expecting you to take McFadyen in that direction. And yet, I was talking with an older sociologist friend yesterday about "ontological individuality"—identity as "pre-social". He said that John Calvin was much closer to ontological individuality than Luther. I wouldn't be surprised if that is one of the reasons I react so strongly against Calvin. Ontological individuality means unilateral action. Unilateral action means monergism. Monergism means no free will. No free will means that we cannot distinguish between manipulative and non-manipulative interaction with God. Here I would go Feuerbachian and say that what is really going on is a justification for never questioning the State. That's a little harsh to Calvin (I like his "seed of religion"), but it does seem to reflect what happens when Calvin's theology is implemented. Maybe I'm wrong on this—I should really examine the historical details and hash this out with a reasonable Calvinist—but it is certainly my impression, with very little evidence against and plenty of evidence for.

            But have you piqued my interest? No. As enlightening and perceptive as it is, this passage is focused and predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God -- particularly the one associated with the Christian Bible. I don't accept that premise, for lots of reasons.

            Let's rewind time to before the five-σ verification of the Higgs boson at CERN. When physicists were theorizing about the Higgs boson, were they "predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God Higgs boson"? You seem to be playing unfairly here, but I'm more inclined to think that I've somehow misunderstood.

            I honestly appreciate that McFadyen brings to light a number of important points about personality and about what it means for persons to interact / communicate with one another -- that's really good stuff. But it doesn't provide the kind of substantiation that would be needed to overcome the barriers to a "rational" (well-motivated) belief in the Christian God.

            Oh! I was responding to this:

            OT: In my experience, the limited nature of the doctrine is shown by the fact that every defense of the doctrine consists entirely of (1) recitations of various verses from scripture, and (2) various ways of rephrasing, analogizing, diagramming or simply repeating the description of the doctrine. There is never anything that connects in any way to something outside those verses of scripture and the discussions among those early councils.

            You seem to have switched from that to "evidence/​reasoning for God's existence". I'm confused.

          • Otto Tellick

            Re the Higgs Boson: I'm not a physicist, so most of the explanation of this particle goes over my head, but I think the relevant point is made by this statement at the end of the introductory section of the Wikipedia page: "Alternative 'Higgsless' models were considered until the discovery of the Higgs boson." That is, given a model that includes a Higgs field (and particles associated with that), specific predictions are made by the a model, such that certain phenomena would be observable if the model was basically correct, and on observing these phenomena, any competing model that lacks Higgs components could be regarded as incorrect, because the alternative makes incompatible predictions, or has no way to express the predictions made by Higgs.

            To say that Higgs theory was "predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a Higgs boson" is to misconstrue or misrepresent what physicists are doing. Existence of the particle was not a premise; it was the thing to be demonstrated. You get that difference, right?

            That contrasts sharply with how the existence of God is expressed in McFadyen's work. Are you having trouble seeing the contrast?

          • OT′: In my experience, the limited nature of the doctrine of the Trinity is shown by the fact that every defense of the doctrine consists entirely of (1) recitations of various verses from scripture, and (2) various ways of rephrasing, analogizing, diagramming or simply repeating the description of the doctrine. There is never anything that connects in any way to something outside those verses of scripture and the discussions among those early councils.

            LB: Ah, well, let me change that: [long excerpt from Alistair McFadyen's The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships] Have I piqued your interest?

            OT: But have you piqued my interest? No. As enlightening and perceptive as it is, this passage is focused and predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God -- particularly the one associated with the Christian Bible. I don't accept that premise, for lots of reasons.

            LB: Let's rewind time to before the five-σ verification of the Higgs boson at CERN. When physicists were theorizing about the Higgs boson, were they "predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God Higgs boson"? You seem to be playing unfairly here, but I'm more inclined to think that I've somehow misunderstood.

            OT: Re the Higgs Boson: I'm not a physicist, so most of the explanation of this particle goes over my head, but I think the relevant point is made by this statement at the end of the introductory section of the Wikipedia page: "Alternative 'Higgsless' models were considered until the discovery of the Higgs boson." That is, given a model that includes a Higgs field (and particles associated with that), specific predictions are made by the a model, such that certain phenomena would be observable if the model was basically correct, and on observing these phenomena, any competing model that lacks Higgs components could be regarded as incorrect, because the alternative makes incompatible predictions, or has no way to express the predictions made by Higgs.

            First, I want to emphasize that "You seem to have switched from that to "evidence/​reasoning for God's existence"." I think my excerpt from McFadyen qualifies as an exception to your "consists entirely of"? If you disagree, I would like to know why. Ok, now I'm happy to [in my mind] switch gears.

            Thanks for looking into the Higgs boson analogy, Otto. You got the gist of it: physicists characterized the Higgs boson without being sure it existed. It is my claim that some talk about God can happen in the same way. Ignoring for the moment whether (i) McFadyen intended for his words to work this way; (ii) McFadyen's words can be made to work this way with minimal damage—do you think it's legitimate to do this wrt God? Now let's take McFadyen into account:

            To say that Higgs theory was "predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a Higgs boson" is to misconstrue or misrepresent what physicists are doing. Existence of the particle was not a premise; it was the thing to be demonstrated. You get that difference, right?

            That contrasts sharply with how the existence of God is expressed in McFadyen's work. Are you having trouble seeing the contrast?

            Let's start with the first paragraph:

                Paradoxically, the opposite pathological extremes of absolute monotheism and tritheism involve an identical mistaken assumption about the nature of individuality. Both take individual identity to be something pre-social removed from the sphere of relation as such. They are therefore bound to regard dialogical relations with others which make a difference to individual identity (inform it) as the fracture of an integrated personality or the alienation of identity. The two extremes are the inevitable result of pressing for hard and exclusive definitions (closed boundaries) of personal identity. (The Call to Personhood, 25)

            Does that entail that God exists? I'm happy for you to argue that a later part does require the God exists, but I want to start with the first paragraph. I think it's pretty interesting in its own right, especially when Descartes' "clear and distinct ideas" is used as a foil. I also think there's an interesting middle ground between monism and metaphysical pluralism which is often fallaciously excluded.

          • Otto Tellick

            The paragraph speaks only of a dichotomy between monotheism and tritheism (and it effectively limits the remainder of the discussion to finding some sort of "middle-ground" theism). I don't see non-theism being considered as another alternative.

            What I liked about this paragraph was how it exposed the notion of "individual identity [being] something pre-social removed from the sphere of relations as such," which struck me as an insightful reductio ad absurdum of the two "pathological extremes."

          • Monism and [non-Trinitarian] monotheism have a lot in common. Ever wondered how Christianity gave way to Deism gave way to Atheism, so easily? (I decided to be lazy about capitalization btw.)

            Can you see how monism and monotheism would be different, in McFadyen's first paragraph? What about subsequent paragraphs? (I have some guesses but I'd like to hear yours first, if that's ok with you.)

          • Otto Tellick

            Sorry, Luke, but monism and monotheism (non-trinitarian or otherwise) are somewhat outside my scope of experience (and interest), so I don't think I can (or want to) pursue that line of questioning. But thanks for asking -- I take that as a compliment.

          • If you are not a monist, then you are not a physicalist? Are you an unusual naturalist? (Virtually every naturalist I've encountered has been a monist as far as I could tell.)

          • Otto Tellick

            I guess your use of "monism" in this context struck me as too vague for me to respond effectively. Sure, in a context like mind/brain dualism I definitely favor monism. You could almost say it's like the air I breath -- it just hasn't been a specific topic of study for me, and I'm at a loss how to discuss your question. ("Monism and monotheism have a lot in common ... Can you see how monism and monotheism would be different..." -- was there a typo in there, maybe?)

          • OT: But have you piqued my interest? No. As enlightening and perceptive as it is, this passage is focused and predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God -- particularly the one associated with the Christian Bible. I don't accept that premise, for lots of reasons.

            OT: ("Monism and monotheism have a lot in common ... Can you see how monism and monotheism would be different..." -- was there a typo in there, maybe?)

            No typo. You wrote "predicated on acceptance of the premise that there is a God". I'm asking whether the predication is actually on monism vs. something not-monism. For example, Democritus said "atoms and the void"—we now know that is terrible wrong, as fields are much more than just "the void". There are argument about whether fields are more real than particles or vice versa; what if neither is more real? Might that be somewhat similar to McFadyen's criticism of strict monotheism and pure tritheism?

            Another way to say what McFadyen is saying, I think, is this: "Reductionism is wrong." You cannot reduce a person to the individual and you cannot reduce a person to society. Analogically, God is neither strictly one nor purely many. God is one-in-three, three-in-one. You might say this is counterintuitive, and yet protons and neutrons are three-in-one. Three quarks, and yet one particle. One way of looking at them resolves to 3, another resolves to 1. It might even be more interesting that according to current theory, it is impossible to see a single quark. Well, unless you can have infinite energy. :-D

            For a much more extensive criticism of reductionism, I refer the interested reader to Roy A. Clouser's The Myth of Religious Neutrality. For an intro, see his article A New Philosophical Guide for the Sciences: Ontology without Reduction.

          • Otto Tellick

            There are argument about whether fields are more real than particles or vice versa; what if neither is more real? Might that be somewhat similar to McFadyen's criticism of strict monotheism and pure tritheism?

            I fail to see any basis for positing a "similarity."

            You cannot reduce a person to the individual and you cannot reduce a person to society.

            Agreed.

            Analogically, God is neither strictly one nor purely many...

            For me, it's not much of an analogy, because the God you speak of is strictly, purely imaginary, whereas people (individuals and societies) are not.

          • LB: There are argument about whether fields are more real than particles or vice versa; what if neither is more real? Might that be somewhat similar to McFadyen's criticism of strict monotheism and pure tritheism?

            OT: I fail to see any basis for positing a "similarity."

            reduction to field : strict monotheism :: reduction to particles : pure tritheism

            BTW, I struggled with whether to write 'field' or 'fields'; I'm going to go with the former in the spirit of a unified theory of everything. See e.g. how EM and the weak force are unified by the electroweak interaction. The hope [of some, particularly noisy scientists] is ultimately that all fields will be unified, and then there will be an ascendant monism. For more, see John D. Barrow's New Theories of Everything.

            LB: You cannot reduce a person to the individual and you cannot reduce a person to society.

            OT: Agreed.

            Can you not see the pattern between that, and: "You cannot reduce God to one and you cannot reduce God to three."?

            LB: Analogically, God is neither strictly one nor purely many...

            OT: For me, it's not much of an analogy, because the God you speak of is strictly, purely imaginary, whereas people (individuals and societies) are not.

            Is it always and forever forbidden to make analogies between (i) what is made of matter–energy; (ii) what is not made of matter–energy?

          • Jim the Scott

            @LukeBreuer:disqus

            (& Otto)

            Higgs boson? If I might inflict some humorous anecdote on you two gentlemen to lighten the mood (& I will let you get back too your conversation).

            The Higgs Boson is called the "god" particle. When scientists believed they discovered it via their experiments some rather stupid scientifically illiterate Atheists went online to boast "Ah you see we found this particle so it proves there is no God". This was met with a response by some equally stupid Christians something to the effect of "At last scientific proof of God! They found His Holy Particle!".

            It's the simple things that make me laugh. Cheers.

          • Heh. From WP: The God Particle (book):

            Lederman explains in the book why he gave the Higgs boson the nickname "The God Particle":

            This boson is so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive, that I have given it a nickname: the God Particle. Why God Particle? Two reasons. One, the publisher wouldn't let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing. And two, there is a connection, of sorts, to another book, a much older one...

      • michael

        Three is not one. One is not three. Either you say you are a polytheist with three gods, or you say that your god is a self-contradictory triangular circle. It's that simple.

        • Either photons are particles or photons are waves. Particles are not waves. It's that simple.

          • michael

            That's physics, not pre-school level math.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry but Photons are either particles or waves. They can't be both according too your argumentative fallacy...I am sorry I mean logic. ;-)

            Speaking of Math from the perspective of Math X cannot equal X and Not X at the same time and in the same sense without contradiction. It simply is not a contradiction to claim God is One in the sense of essence and Three in the sense of subsisting divine relations.

            Of course that is Theology. Not math or physics.;-)

          • michael

            You can hav neither one god o three. Not 3 in 1 or 1 in 3. The idea of the trinity is that three beings with separate memories are one deity and not three deities., and that the deity has perfect simplicity, despite being composite of three parts. This is obviously self-contradictory.

          • Jim the Scott

            What you just described is not the Catholic Christian doctrine of the Trinity so all your objections are non-starters. It is a straw man.

          • Michael Murray

            "particle" or "wave" is not a dichotomy. Both descriptions are wrong. The correct one is "quantum field".

          • Jim the Scott

            Maybe you are right but that is not the point other Michael.

          • michael

            There is also third option: Light is both neither.

          • Ahh, so light gets to be "both neither" but not the Trinity. Got it. Science gets a pass but religion is condemned.

          • Jim the Scott

            So you complain about "contradiction" in regards to the Trinity but accept "contradiction" in physics? That is itself a contradictory position to take. BTW the coherent position is Light is both particles and waves and God is One in Essence and Three in subsisting divine relations.

            Saying God is one and three in essence or God is one divine person and three divine persons is a contradiction. Saying Light is both particles and wave and neither is also a contradiction.

            If you reject the law of non-contradiction you cannot rationally argue against religion or anything for that matter since you can be both wrong and right.

            Cheers.

          • michael

            It is not contradiction in physics, it is a matter of distinction. OR neither is not the same as AND neither.

          • Jim the Scott

            So apply that reasoning to the Trinity and the alleged "contradiction" disappears. It is not hard.

          • michael

            That would be to walk by faith and not by sight, which is unconscionable.

          • Jim the Scott

            No it's just common sense. One doesn't have to believe in any gods to employ it. The Trinity as formulated by Christianity contains no contradiction. That doesn't make it true or false but those are the facts.
            But if you insist on making up your own definitions and having inconsistent standards I can't help you.

          • michael

            You are balling with semantics desperately here while ignoring the clear distinction between singular and plural nouns and the idea that a totally simple being cannot have three parts. Had this been any other religion you'd mock the idea of The Trinity. Look at yourself. Either say The Trinity is nonsense or say you are a polytheist instead of a monotheist.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't know why you are here Michael? You are arguing against a doctrine of the "Trinity" nobody here believes in. God is not a "totally" simple being because he would contain no real distinctions even mysterious ones. The actual doctrine of divine simplicity denied God contains real physical and metaphysical distinctions.
            In principle you cannot argue against the Trinity by making up your own doctrine which is what you are doing. Either that or you are confusing us Catholics with the Mormons.

            Sorry Michael all your arguments are invalid even if there are no gods.

          • michael

            Same thing! You are just rephrasing the same thing and claiming it means something else. Come on.

          • Jim the Scott

            No you are making up your own meanings and definitions and reading them into the doctrine. Let's compare.

            The "Michael" doctrine of the Trinity -"The trinity is that three beings with separate memories are one deity."

            vs The Catholic One (with contributions from Aquinas).
            The divine persons are not "beings". God is not "a being" but Being Itself or Subsistent Being Itself. The divine persons are subsisting hypostasis or divine relations or real relations.
            Aquinas, Augustine, Garrigou-Lagrange and even Frank Sheed are rather clear on that point. Your comparison here is clearly unequivocal and not analogous so it's already fundamentally wrong.

            Garrigou-Lagrange sums it up here in his commentary on the Summa.
            http://www.thesumma.info/reality/index.php

            http://www.thesumma.info/reality/reality16.php

            http://www.thesumma.info/reality/reality17.php

            You need to critique the doctrine we objectively believe in. Not the one you wish we believed in. That is mere common sense. You don't need any faith to know that.

          • michael

            Your inconsistency here is so obvious a kid could see it. Saying "The father is not the son, etc." means they are three separate things. Polytheism. Learn how plural noun and singular nouns are different. "God is not "a being" but Being Itself or Subsistent Being Itself. The divine persons are subsisting hypostasis or divine relations or real relations." That means divided into three parts, each with separate memories and experiences. That's why The Bible says The Son and Holy Spirit don't know when they day of Judgment will come, but the Father does know. You are just splitting hairs. It is common sense to say that one deity cannot be three distinct persons. that is three deities, not one. Not three parts of one whole, unless you're going o claim that "god" is a collective singular noun the way "forest" is a collective singular noun divisible into the plural noun "trees", which is of course not true.

            Thomas Jefferson wrote: Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity.

            He also wrote: “When we shall have done away with the incomprehensible jargon of the Trinitarian arithmetic, that three are one, and one is three; when we shall have knocked down the artificial scaffolding, reared to mask from view the simple structure of Jesus; when, in short, we shall have unlearned everything which has been taught since his day, and got back to the pure and simple doctrines he inculcated, we shall then be truly and worthily his disciplines.”

          • Jim the Scott

            So basically Michael you are committed to arguing by re-definition which is fundamentally irrational. Neither I nor do any Catholic Theologians define "subsisting hypostasis etc.." as " divided into three parts, each with separate memories and experiences." so all your objections are non-starters.
            In order to prevail here you have to convince everyone the "Michael Definition" of the Trinity is the historic Christian one. It's not but good luck with that. Indeed I can with ease imagine God does not exist and you are still wrong here. It's not hard.

            For comparison.

            The "Michael Definition" = the divine persons are God divided into three parts, each with separate memories and experiences.

            Vs the one in the theology textbooks.

            "A divine person is nothing else than a relationally distinct reality, subsistent in the divine essence."

            If you where arguing with a Young Earth Creationist on Evolution would you let him redefine scientific terms in his own self serving way instead of using the established ones?

            Well maybe you would? I can't help you Michael. You have nothing interesting to say but I wish you well.

          • michael

            Define "Modalism".

          • Jim the Scott

            I just did in that other post. The heresy that teaches there is no real distinction between the divine relations(persons) of the Trinity. That the divine relations are like the divine attributes and they merely have a logical or notional distinction between them but no real distinction. It's the idea there is only one "person" in the Trinity with three names. According to the "Michael Definition of the Trinity" the persons must each have separate mind and intellects. But the great Catholic popular teacher Frank Sheed said the divine persons share the same mind, intellect and will three times focused.

            I suspect you where either taught the Trinity incorrectly, or you misunderstood or you read some of Dr. Walter Martin's views on it which quite frankly amount to Tri-Theism. God doesn't have three wills that agree.

            Nope.

          • michael

            Saying they don't have separate memories and experiences is a heresy called Modalism.

          • Jim the Scott

            No modalism is the heresy that there are no real distinctions between the divine persons baring mere notional ones. Like the distinctions between the divine attributes which are only notionally distinct not really distinct.

            Again you are channeling the "Michael Definition" of the Trinity not the Catholic one. Your definition is incorrect even if there is no god.

          • michael

            Exactly. When you make distinctions without just notional distinctions, you are divining into parts. that's common sense. https://www.stainedglassinc.com/window/12754/ See the abs that say "Is not"? That means division into components. One way I learned abut The Trinity in catechism class is the metaphor of an egg. An egg has a yolk, a white, and shell. All are the egg, but the shell is not the yolk, etc. which means the egg has three parts.

          • Jim the Scott

            So what you are telling me is you have been given the instruction on the doctrine one gives to children and never went beyond that? K'ay... Metaphors are not literal and that you are taking them literally is a mistake. The "Michael definition of the Trinity" takes metaphors literally. Sorry but by definition that is not how you use a metaphor or do you really believe if I said I was "as hungry as a bear" that I literally turn into Yogi when I feel hunger? That is not how that works guy. I can assure you I am not a shapeshifter.

          • michael

            I meant to say "See the bars that say 'is not'?"

          • Jim the Scott

            Reading that stain glass window link you gave me by a-priori assuming your erroneous "Michael definition" of the Trinity & reading that view into it begs the question. Yes predicated in terms of real divine relation to divine relation it is mandated we say "one is not the other" however predicated in terms of the divine essence then there is no real distinction between the divine relations since both are the One God.

            Remember Michael if we use the historic Catholic and Christian definition of the Trinity (instead of yours which you made up from your own misunderstandings coupled with the lousy religious education we all received in CCD) the divine relations are really distinct in a mysterious way not in a physical way (which would give us parts) or in a metaphysical way(that the persons are passive potencies that are made actual by something already in Act which is impossible since God is Pure Act).
            There is no formal or logical contradiction here and there cannot be one even in principle.

          • michael

            The egg metaphor wasn't given to me as a child but as a 24-year old in class preparing for Confirmation, from an elderly and experienced teacher. She said it's merely a way to "begin to understand it", and that how it really works is "beyond human understanding", a "mystery of the faith". & there is no third option between "material" and "spiritual", other than "empty space".

          • Jim the Scott

            So what? Like I said Catholic religous education in America sucks out loud. Anyway the point of metaphors is you DON'T take them hyper-literally and for some reason you insist on doing so? That is not rational even if there are no gods. You have a child's understanding of theology. I have a college level understanding at least. None of your objections are valid even if there are no gods. That may be a tough pill for you to swollow but it seems rather obvious to me.
            I will be fair and point out that doesn't automatically prove God must exist or Catholic doctrine is correct but it does show you at this point in time lack the compotence to make a valid case against Catholic doctrine or philosophy. Go hit the books and then come back.

          • michael

            Saying "It's beyond human understanding' is to say "Just take our word for it. Don't think for yourself, don't be RATIONAL.

          • Jim the Scott

            That doesn't logically follow and even in a godless universe it is not hard to suppose that actual mystery would exist. A mystery being something you don't know and in principle cannot know. But this is you trying to change the topic. Your case for the incoherence or "contradiction" in the Trinity is clearly wrong.

          • michael

            Saying that it's merely supposed to be a start, and that the full reason is supposed be "Beyond human understanding" is not taking a metaphor hyper-literally.

          • Jim the Scott

            No concluding from the metaphors that God has literal "physical parts" or that the divine relations/persons cannot have the same divine mind (which they do) or it's the modalist heresy is clearly taking the metaphor hyper-literally. Changing the subject to your questionable views on mystery doesn't help you.

          • michael

            Saying they have the same mind is to say they all know when the day of judgeent comes. But the Bible says only the father knows.

          • Jim the Scott

            One big problem with that.
            The Incarnate Christ has two natures one divine and one human. His divine intellect in the Divine Nature which as God He shares with The Father and a human intellect from the human nature He got from Our Lady. His human intellect contains infused knowledge and what God has revealed to it which He then reveals to us. That intellect & that knowledge in his human mind does not contain knowledge of the day of judgement. As God, Christ knows the day but as Man that knowledge has not been revealed to his human intellect. Christ as per the will of the Father can only tell us what has been infused in his human intellect.
            It's like having a computer with two hard drives and having some important data stored on one but not the other. Come on Michael this is an old argument St. Augustine answered long along & it is not even a challenging one.

          • michael

            That is logically contradictory. A single person cannot both know and not know something at the same time. Otherwise that is two separate people. And Augustine's works aren't even part of The Bible just his arbitrary opinions and rationalizations. I am shocked by the sheer stupidity of your answer. The computer analogy doesn't work because e computers aren't alive and therefore don't "know" things. And two CPU's are two separate computers, not two parts of one whole. Two separate memories require two individuals.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry no, Christ is a divine person with a divine intellect and a human intellect and He only reveals to us what is in his human intellect. His human intellect is not omniscient unlike his divine intellect and only knows what has been revealed to it by the divine. St Augustine transmits authentic Tradition and the rule of Faith for Catholics is Scripture and Tradition (2 Thes 2:15 &3:6)not Scripture alone which is a Protestant heresy. Scripture alone is not taught in Scripture and is thus false by it's own standards. For an atheist who claims they where Catholic why are you arguing using Protestant doctrinal presuppositions? That is a non-starter.
            That computers are not alive is not relevant to the analogy. The CPU is not relevant. What is relevant is a computer with two hard drives can have data stored on one and not the other. In a like manner Christ who is God the Word Incarnate is, as Christ, a single divine person with two natures. One Divine and the other Human. He can have knowledge of the End in the divine intellect which He shares with the Father and be ignorant of it in his human intellect. By the will of God, Christ will only tell us what is in his human intellect. Contrary to the "Michael Doctrine" the divine relations of the Trinity only share one divine intellect not three(oh and God doesn't have memories as He is timeless). Intellect is a divine attribute and the divine attributes are not really distinct from one another (unlike the divine relations which are mysteriously distinct from one to another) except notionally distinct. Thus the divine intellect is identical to the divine essence and of course the divine relations/person each fully share the same single divine essence since they are One God not three.
            You have not proven a logical contradiction. You have failed spectacularly.
            Now go hit the books since an un-armed Atheist fighting an intellectually armed Theist is a sad site. I have 30 years of theology in my brain and I am not afraid to use it my son. Go hit the books and come back and do better. I encourage it.

          • michael

            Data in a computer is not knowledge, since a computer is not alive and does not know. Thus the analogy fails. Persons are laive and have knowledge. One mind cannot both know and not know at the same time. Only more than one can. Nothing you just said refutes that. Furthermore, saying The Son and Holy Spirit do know when The Judgement Day will come, CONTRADICTS Scripture, so dismissing it has nothing to do with Sola Scripture. And Augustine lived from 13 November 354 – 28 August 430, so there is no basis for saying what he wrote was handed down all the way form 30 Ad, unless there are writings from that early contradicting what The Bible says, namely that The Holy Spirit & Son lack knowledge that The Father has. And three persons cannot have on mind. That totally contradicts what the words "person" and "mind" mean.

          • Jim the Scott

            Data is a type of knowledge and an analogy doesn't have to be a literal comparison across the board otherwise it's not an analogy but an unequivocal comparison which is what you don't seem to get?
            Your objection assumes the Lutheran heresy (which is not in the Bible and contradicts the Bible 2 Peter 1:20 & 2 Peter 3:16) of perspicuity of holy writ so it's a non-starter. You in effect have to convince me Lutheranism is true before you make your "biblical" case against the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation. Yeh good luck with that.
            Three human persons cannot have one divine mind but we don't know Divinity can't since the divine nature is incomprehensible. Human persons are physical material beings you admit to being taught God is not material so it is illegitimate to treat him as if he was.
            One doesn't need to believe in any gods to see your argument is 100% fail. Again I don't say that to be mean since I am a proud man myself and hate being wrong. But you need to overcome that if only so you can go back and learn and come back with better arguments to save me from my Theism if that is what you value?

          • michael

            Being immaterial or non-human does not open one to contradictions. Three persons having one mind is plainly a contradiction violating the distinction between singular and plural nouns, regardless of being human or not human, and regardless of being immaterial or immaterial. Saying "It's incomprehensible" is NO EXCUSE for believing this paradox. You are just begging he question by saying "it's imprehensible" which proves nothing and relies purely on faith and not reason.

          • Jim the Scott

            It is not a formal contradiction to say a dog naturally has only four legs and a spider has eight. Nor is it a contradiction to say the properties of a material being are not the same as one of Subsisting Being Itself which is immaterial by definition.
            It is not a paradox or a contradiction thought in physics paradoxes seem real like Photons acting like waves and particles. So I don't see why a divine essence can't contains real distinctions that are mysterious and not physical or metaphysical? As for believing the Trinity on Faith not reason well why not? I believe a lot of things on faith. Like I believe on Faith Physicists have found what they think is the Higgs Boson particle because I trust their authority. I didn't do the experiments myself but I trust the authority and I have read to trust it.
            Of course now you are trying to again change the subject to why believe some things on Faith and wither or not it is reasonable. That is not going to save your bad polemics against the Trinity.

          • michael

            Legs are not comparable to people or minds. That is'nt even an analogy. Photons' interactions are'nt numbers, but belong in the field of physics rather than math, and you presume that "Pariticle" and "wave" are the only two categories possible. It is'nt contradictory to physics or math say that a mako shark is not a great white, and a great white is not a mako, but a different shark altogether can have attributes of both. So it doe'snt contradict physics to say theat something can have attributes of both a article and a wave while being neither. Nor does that contradict math. But saying three persons can have one mind? Contrary to the distinction between singular non-collective nouns and plural nouns. Believe in the Higgs boson? Does'nt contain fantastic claims or require a believe in magic, and does'nt contradict math. Have you studied why atheists believe in Alexander The Great, or The Higgs boson, but not the magic in the Bible, nor Zeus and Thor, nor fairies? Comparing your faith in The Trinity to believe in The Higgs Boson gives me the impression you have not.

          • Jim the Scott

            You have an irrational double standard here. You treat God as a literal human mind only more uber and you treat analogies as literal unequivocal comparisons. When an analogy doesn't fit your view "Photon is both a wave and a particle" you say "That is physics it's not literally about that". Well the analogy is not literal. It's an analogy. You are arguing by equivocating and you are confusing analogy with unequivocal comparison here.
            This makes any rational discussion between us impossible. Also it prevents you from showing me the "contradiction" in the Trinity which by now I see does not exist and cannot in principle exist even if there are no gods.

          • michael

            It is directly relevant to my argument that the Trinity is logically untenable. You take that back now! I'm not changing the subject.

          • Jim the Scott

            You say that but I don't believe the case can be made.

          • Jim the Scott

            Also you are changing the subject or you have been trying too. Some of those subjects might have gotten you some traction but I only jump in on subjects to which I have competence. I would let others answer them. On this your argument of "incoherence" is clearly wrong. God may not exist and I may loose my faith tomorrow but my opinion here won't change unless I abandon reason and I am not going to do that. PS calm down I am sensing you are excited. Hey it's cool bro. Losing this one argument on this one narrow topic won't make God exist or not. Chill.

          • michael

            Even though it very obviously isn't a literal comparison across the board, it still fails as a successful analogy. Data in an animate book or inanimate computer does not become knowledge until read and understood by a conscious, LIVING being. The computer hard drive doesn't even analogously "know", only the reader really knows.

          • Jim the Scott

            The point of the analogy is the data can be on my computer but if I have two hard drives it can be present on only one and not the other. Just as if Christ has two intellects a Divine intellect which he shares with the other divine relations and a human one he can know via his divine knowledge and not know via his human intellect. It is not hard. You are making it hard because you wish to hold fast to your invalid argument. Let it go.

          • michael

            That does not make it valid, even though it is not a literal comparison across the board. When two sets of knowledge are in one living brain, that is a brain with two people in it, not one person sharing which is what split-personality disorder is. Saying "god is different" is begging the question, even though The Church says that, because the church cannot PROVE it, only take it on faith and say "mysterious ways". And no matter how many times you insist upon this faulty hard drive analogy, it DOES NOT WORK also because harddrives are NOT ALIVE and DO NOT KNOW, even analogously, regardless of that it's not a literal comparison across the board. PEOPLE ARE ALIVE. PEOPLE KNOW.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am afraid it is completely valid. What is invalid is your appeals to emotion and ad hoc dogmatic declarations. Michael you don't understand your position here. If I loose my faith tomorrow you are still wrong in your arguments against the Trinity based on reason alone. As a believer I don't care if you want to dogmatically hold to an invalid argument. An irrational Atheist argument is good PR for Theism. Of course if I did become an Atheist tomorrow I would not be happy with you. Where as now I am thrilled. Look into that and correct it.

          • michael

            I am describing your position accurately: That somehow, mysteriously, one divine person can somehow both know and not know something at the same time. All responses on the subject are to that exact position which you hold, not a straw man. Acknowledge this or say that you don't believe Jesus both knew and didn't know something at the same time.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am describing your position accurately: That somehow, mysteriously, one divine person can somehow both know and not know something at the same time.

            Not even close. I don't acknowledge it but I call it a straw man. A divine person knows by intellect. An incarnate divine person has two intellects a human and divine. He knows by his divine the time of the end and by his human he knows not.

          • BCE

            Sorry to interject on this private debate.

            I understand the use of syllogism and logic, but wonder if here you are just wrong. I know it's popular. But even among well know anti-theists you can easily see an extreme anthropomorphic imposition; such as if God meets our standards for 'goodness'.
            I appreciate the Higgs was theory, and to be fact, it had to undergo rigorous experiment; however even had the experiment failed, that alone wouldn't prove it doesn't exist.

            You brought up math. I would guess you're familiar with sets and paradox(not falsification) ?
            I know the childhood example of the egg missed the mark for you.
            But algebra students are taught how to understand abstracts.

            Three things is numeric. But X = Y = Z is not. It is qualitative.

          • michael

            Your statements are based on faith, not reason. Mine are based on a demand for evidence that can be understood.

          • Jim the Scott

            It is the other way around here. You are the one basing your belief in Trinitarian contradiction on faith not reason. Clearly reason cannot show that God being one in one sense and three in another sense is a either a formal or logical contradiction. It's not a logical contradiction since it doesn't violate the principle of non-contradiction by definition. It is not a formal one since you cannot tell us what God is as God in order to prove his being three divine persons and one divine essence and thus one God is a formal contradiction. Like saying a dog normally has 8 legs would be a formal contradiction. Give it up Michael. You will be a better Atheist as a result.

          • michael

            It contradicts numbers.

            What WOULD convert you to atheism? DOn't say "Nothing", that'd be the same as saying you believe for no reason. Be VERY specific and detailed, don't give some broad, vague answer like some people do.

          • Jim the Scott

            It contradicts numbers.

            No I am afraid it doesn't. Simply put the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity says God is one in one sense and three in another sense. There is no contradiction possible here even if there are no gods. For a contradiction to exist we would have to say God is one and three in the same sense. We don't say that. It is that simple.

            What WOULD convert you to atheism?

            I don't know, but irrational arguments against the Trinity won't work.
            Anymore then a Creationist could convert Richard Dawkins by making goofy claims the 2nd Law of Thermal Dynamics somehow "refutes" evolution. You need to learn some philosophy and you are not there yet.

            DOn't say "Nothing", that'd be the same as saying you believe for no reason. Be VERY specific and detailed, don't give some broad, vague answer like some people do.

            Sorry but I don't have to come up with a case. That is on you. You are the one making the positive claim here no me. You are trying to convince me Atheism is true or the modest claim the Trinity is incoherent. Well we didn't touch on the existence of God or Truth of the Catholic Faith directly only the Trinity and you failed in my opinion sir. Like the YEC does with Dawkins.
            I will give this advice. You should learn some philosophy and then take the next 20 years to come up with some philosophical defeaters for Classic Theistic arguments for the existence of God. You may also want to concentrate on arguing against the existence of divine revelation. That would "undo" the Trinity and the two other Monotheistic religion in one kill shot. This bogus argument of yours against the Trinity will not work.

            Good luck guy.

          • michael

            Theism is a positive claim. Admit it and answer the question. And old books aren't proof of divine revelations. You could support any religion by that logic.

          • Jim the Scott

            No Theism is not a positive nor negative claim you can be a negative Theist.
            Just as you can be a positive atheist (there is no God) vs a negative Atheist (I lack belief in God). A negative Theist could simply say (I lack no god belief). This philosopher discusses it.

            http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/03/against-terminological-mischief-negative-atheism-and-negative-nominalism.html

            http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2009/03/the-definition-of-atheist-and-the-burden-of-proof.html

            I guess we are done. Off you go. Carry one my wayward son.

          • michael

            "I lack no god belief" is a double negative, which is grammatically unacceptable in English. google the term "double negative". Claiming something DOES exist is a positive claim and thus lays the burden of proof on you.

          • Jim the Scott

            So I will correct my bad Grammar.
            "I lack 'no god' belief". It is not a double negative to profess you lack a belief in "no god(s)".

            The burden of proof is always on the person making the positive claim. If you claim there is no God then you must prove it. If you claim there is then you must prove it. If you claim the Trinity as formulated by Catholicism is a contradiction you must prove it. In the case of the later you failed IMHO.
            Cheers,

          • michael

            Saying a god does exist is a positive claim. you are using a commonplace theist tactic of shifting the burden of proof. Saying "here is no god" is a negative claim. Imainge someone tells you "Prove there's no invisible bottle on the shelf up there!" or "Prove there's no teacup floating between Jupiter and Mars!". The Burden of Proof is on the one saying there IS a teacup.That's how silly you sound.

          • Jim the Scott

            Saying God does exists is a positive claim. Saying God does not exist is also a positive claim. Both need proof but it is philosophical argument and proof not scientific proof for either proposition. Neither negative theism nor atheism require proof because they don't assert a positive belief.

            Russell's Teapot is a fallacy.
            http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/08/gutting-dawkins-and-russells-celestial-teapot.html

            But you will have to do your own research here as it is off topic from our discussion.
            The doctrine of the Trinity contains no formal or logical contradiction and you failed to prove otherwise.

            Take care.

          • michael

            It is a negative, not a positive claim.

          • Jim the Scott

            Yes saying God exists is a positive claim. I just agreed with you? Saying "I lack 'no god' belief" is a negative claim like "I lack a belief in God". Saying there is no God is a positive claim.

            This is hard for you? Come on! This is easier then modal philosophy.

          • michael

            Aquinas' ways, even when combined with the rest of his work, do not objectively force the reader to assert that intelligence or life or good need some ultimate supremely intelligent conscious good being to be their ultimate source, any more than they demonstrate that wickedness must stem from a supremely wicked being. Thus your response is null. No proof for the existence of the hundreds of thousands of gods people have believed in over the years exists.

          • Jim the Scott

            Michael you have already proven to me you don't understand the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. I doubt you understand Act, Potency, Form, essence or moderate realism either. Anyway you have made a positive claim here about Aquinas' works. The burden is on you to prove it.
            Your argument the Trinity was a contradiction was a complete fail and now you are changing the subject.

            Not interested. Now go do your homework so you might become a proper philosophical Atheist.

          • michael

            I have read multiple articles on catholic websites about Aquinas arguments about Potentiality, Actuality, Eternity, pure ESSE SUBSISTENS IPSUM, and what not. Besides, one does not need philosophy to understand that is is a non-sequitur to say "Intelligence exists, it needs a supremely intelligent source to exist, otherwise all things would be intelligent. This is God". One does not need philosophy to understand that it's a non-sequitur to say Mary is a human. All men are human. therefore Mary is a man.".

          • Jim the Scott

            I have no confidence you understand what you have read. You showed an amazing level of ignorance on the Trinity. That you are good a google doesn't prove you understand scholastics and I am not interested in having to correct you all the time.

          • michael

            When I told you I concede that your understanding of The Trinity is right, I demonstrated understanding of it.

          • Jim the Scott

            No you still insisted that somehow in someway the Trinity still meant three divine intellects in one intellect.
            We are done dude. Go study for a few months then come back and maybe you will impress me.

          • michael

            I know what catholics mean when they say God alone can be said to both be "What God is (His nature) and THAT God is (His Essence) and that God's nature and essence are one and the same, and that God is Subsistent Being Itself, existing eternally, transcending time and space, and relying on nothing for his existence, being uncaused, without beginning and without end, and the "First mover" who is not moved and does not move, since he is immaterial and "Immutable", IE, unchangeable, having been causing Time and Space Eternally.

          • Jim the Scott

            You claim to know this yet could not figure out divine intellect is an attribute not a subsisting relation? You also got the divine simplicity wrong as well at the start of our discussion.

            Not interested Michael. Go study.....

          • michael

            I never said intellect was a subsisting relation. I said one mind cannot be three people. If I did say intellect is a subsisting relation, prove it.

          • Jim the Scott

            Wow mike your ego just won't let you admit you don't know everything. That is not going to serve you well. But you got the argumentative fallacies down.

          • michael

            and the thing that causes all other things and keeps them in existence.

          • Jim the Scott

            Is there a subject to that sentence?

          • michael

            God is the "thing" meant. It's addendum to the previous post. I shouldn't have to tell you something so obvious.

          • Jim the Scott

            I suspect you are just trolling at this point mike......don't be a sore loser. We all have bad day arguing. This just wasn't your day.

          • michael

            The Bible says "ONLY" The Father knows. How then is it that TheHoly Spirit and Divine Nature of The Son also know, according to Augustine? Does Augustine not see the word "ONLY" Matthew 24:36?

          • Jim the Scott

            It's so cute how you still assume Luther's Perspecuity doctrine and you are an Atheist. It's like a metaphysical naturalist who believes Sacraments work ex opere operato. That is just weird.
            The Psalms say the Lord enfolds us in his wings. So this is to be taken hyper literally? God is a giant cosmic chicken? Jesus said "call no man Father" yet Paul calls himself a Father?
            We Catholics are not fundamentalists we don't take the bible hyperliterally as do you Fundies both of the Protestant Christian variety and the Atheist one. ;-)

            Atheists cannot used the Bible against Catholics. We will just say "I reject your fallible interpretation" of it. Unlike the Fundies and the Protestants we don't believe as a rule the Scipture is clear. Scripture clearly teaches this not the case 2 Peter 3:16. ;-)

            Now let it go.

          • michael

            I've never head of Luther's Perspecuity Doctrine and don't know what it is. There is no none literal sense of the word "ONLY". had this been any other book or religion, you'd laugh at anyone trying to say the word "ONLY" has a non-literal sense not mentioned or firmly implied in the immediate context. And a naturalist, by definition, is a materialist, and materialists, by definition, don't belief in the metaphysical, which is a synonym for supernatural.

          • Jim the Scott

            I've never head of Luther's Perspecuity Doctrine and don't know what it is.

            It is the false belief Holy Writ is plain and clear in what it says and must only be interpreted literally.

            There is no none literal sense of the word "ONLY".

            Why does there need to be unless you assume Perspicuity here which you are doing?

            had this been any other book or religion, you'd laugh at anyone trying to say the word "ONLY" has a non-literal sense not mentioned or firmly implied in the immediate context.

            Not at all I have no reason to believe all religions hold Lutheran doctrines.
            For example according to the Talmud in Deut 25:12 the Rabbis said the Hebrew Phrase "cut the hand without pity" was a metaphor for paying a huge fine via the Oral Torah and they further ruled anyone taking Deut 15:12 literally and applying it literally would be guilty of a capital crime whose punishment is strangulation. The Jews don't take Deut 25:12 literally. How do I know your ad hoc rules for interpreting scripture are used by all religions for their scriptures? I don't but I don't believe there is a one size fits all way to address the claims of other religions as you seem to think in terms of treating Catholics as if we where Protestants.

            And a naturalist, by definition, is a materialist, and materialists, by definition, don't belief in the metaphysical, which is a synonym for supernatural.
            Nope! Materialism and or naturalism are metaphysical positions. They are not religious they are philosophical. I told you to study Michael. Do I have to turn you over to Tim?

          • michael

            I've never head of Luther's Perspecuity Doctrine and don't know what it is. There is no none literal sense of the word "ONLY". had this been any other book or religion, you'd laugh at anyone trying to say the word "ONLY" has a non-literal sense in any context. And a naturalist, by definition, is a materialist, and materialists, by definition, don't belief in the metaphysical, which is a synonym for supernatural.

          • Jim the Scott

            I've never head of Luther's Perspecuity Doctrine and don't know what it is.

            It is the false belief Holy Writ is plain and clear in what it says and must only be interpreted literally at all times. The concept is not clearly taught in holy writ.

            There is no none literal sense of the word "ONLY".

            Why does there need to be unless you assume Perspicuity here which you are doing.

            had this been any other book or religion, you'd laugh at anyone trying to say the word "ONLY" has a non-literal sense not mentioned or firmly implied in the immediate context.

            Not at all young Jedi I have no reason to believe all religions hold Lutheran doctrines.
            For example according to the Talmud in Deut 25:12 the Rabbis said the Hebrew Phrase "cut the hand off without pity" was a metaphor for paying a huge fine via the Oral Torah and they further ruled anyone taking Deut 15:12 literally and applying it literally would be guilty of a capital crime whose punishment is strangulation. The Jews don't take Deut 25:12 literally. How do I know your ad hoc rules for interpreting scripture are used by all religions for their scriptures? I don't but I don't believe there is a one size fits all way to address the claims of other religions as you seem to think in terms of treating Catholics as if we where Protestants.

            And a naturalist, by definition, is a materialist, and materialists, by definition, don't belief in the metaphysical, which is a synonym for supernatural.

            Nope! Materialism and or naturalism are metaphysical positions. They are not religious they are philosophical. I told you to study Michael.

            It's time to stop.

          • michael

            Of course I do NOT take quotes about God having wings in Psalms 91 literally, and never have. Nor do I take "Beware the yeast of the pharisees" literally or "The heart of the wicked leans to the left. The heard of the good leans to the right". All those are demonstrated as non-literal by just looking at them by themselves, or at the immediate context of them, very plainly.

          • Jim the Scott

            So you are just going to ad hoc assert Luther's Perspicuity doctrine here & we Catholics should just be convinced to adopt his erroneous standards for interpreting Holy Writ? You sure that is how you want to go? You do realize for your argument to "succeed" you have to convince me Perspicuity is a true teaching? You have to in effect put on the hat of a Protestant Christian apologist and convert me to their Perspicuity heresy before you can make your atheist argument that the Bible somehow teaches Jesus isn't really omniscient?
            Yeh good luck with that guy.

            All those are demonstrated as non-literal by just looking at them by themselves, or at the immediate context of them, very plainly.

            Look at the texts by themselves (apart from Tradition I assume?)? Yeh Michael you have gone from Luther's Perspicuity heresy to his Sola Scriptura heresy.
            Michael are your contra Catholic polemics so bad that the only way for you too succeed is to convert me to Protestantism before you can convince me to be an Atheist?

            Let it go Michael. I have more important fish to fry.

          • michael

            Since Catholics teach that all The Bible is inspired by The Holy Spirit, 2 peter 3:16 reflects poorly on The Holy Spirit to anyone who believes in the Holy Spirit. The very existence of exegesis and apologetics implies either A: The Bible is a poorly written human org, or B: The Holy Spirit refused or failed to communicate clear messages in The Bible when he had the chance, and is thus accountable for al the consequences of that.

          • Jim the Scott

            Since Catholics teach that all The Bible is inspired by The Holy Spirit, 2 peter 3:16 reflects poorly on The Holy Spirit to anyone who believes in the Holy Spirit.

            No you are merely assuming Luther's Sola Scriptura doctrine. The view the Bible is clear and the sole rule of Faith. It is a doctrine he made up 500 year ago which ironically is not taught clearly or even implicitly in Holy Writ and thus is false by it's own standards.

            You whole argument here is to special plead that Protestantism is true. Now it is obvious to me from these responses you spent some time arguing with Fundie Prots but this is not a Catholic way to read Holy Writ.

            The very existence of exegesis and apologetics implies either A: The Bible is a poorly written human org, or B: The Holy Spirit refused or failed to communicate clear messages in The Bible when he had the chance, and is thus accountable for al the consequences of that.

            Or maybe God intended we have Bible, Tradition (2 Thes 2:15) and Church (1 Tim 3:15) to be the rule of faith and not the Bible alone because spoken and written language by nature is ambiguous? If language was naturally super clear at all times then no Judges would exist to interpret laws as their meaning would be plain. But it is a natural limit of language so even a divinely inspired text can be misinterpreted or can be unclear.

            This is all you got Michael? Become Protestant & realize it's views are false and contradictory and that somehow means Catholicism is also not True based on absurd beliefs it doesn't hold?

            You know Michael I once heard of an Ex-Catholic turned Atheist who was asked if he would become Protestant. He answered "I lost my faith not my reason".

            You need to stop Michael.

          • michael

            Every reply you've given could'e been written into the Bible and would've added possibly less than two pages. Language is'nt that complex at all. We don't have judges to explain away discrepancies in Harry Potter, do we?

          • Jim the Scott

            You complaint is now "Boo hoo! No Fair! Your not a Protestant Fundamentalist!". Sorry Michael but the idea Holy Writ is suppose to be uber clear is one that started with Luther. Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Rabbinic Jews know nothing of it. It makes sense considering the natural inherent ambiguity of human language that if God would give us divine revelation it wouldn't just be written revelation.
            Even among the Muslims they interpret their Koran with Hadith's. That is oral traditions outside their written revelation. The Bible nowhere says it alone is the sole rule of Faith thus this doctrine Luther made up is FALSE by it's own standards.

            Every reply you've given could'e been written into the Bible

            That very Bible tells us to follow tradition (2 Thes 2:15 & 3:6). We don't need Sola Scriptura as divine revelation is broader then your neo-fundamentalist Protestantism.

          • michael

            When Judges give statements on laws,htey use clear WORDS. So languages are not "inherently limited" or "naturally ambiguous"... Many Muslims reject hadiths, stating that Islam teach The Koran is "The final revelation" and that Muhammed is "seal/last of the prophets' with no other prophets after him. My arguments aren't based on The Bible or Luther, they are based on critical thinking and rationality.

          • Jim the Scott

            So you are committing a fallacy of equivocation (again) by giving me an example of spoken language in real time vs written language thousands of years old? From this you conclude language is not inherently limited or naturally ambitious? That is not critical thinkings. That is just being foolish.

            >When Judges give statements on laws,htey use clear WORDS.

            Well I like this part you have just made the case why we need a living Church with authority to interpret the dead letter of a written text.

            Your arguments are based on Luther and Protestantism. They strongly resemble every argument I have ever had with a Baptist.

          • michael

            Words mainly only gain room for misinterpretation when you stop taking them at face value or you don't take them literally when it is'nt supported by context or rationality to do so, or when you start adding hidden layers of meaning that could've been clarified easily within the text and they been meant. That's common sense. Furthermore, I never said I support Sola Scripture, I merely stated the rational fact that the need for an interpreter for such simple plain words means either the interpreter is reinterpreting those words or something went very,very wrong in the transmission of those words and the author had the opportunity to clarify within the text itself, but failed or foolishly refused to do so. None of that contradicts any of the Bible verses you just brought up.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry but the idea all words are something that must be taken as "face value" is a myth. For example the phrase "I never said you stole money" can have at least several dozen meanings. Some phrases require an external context to understand as that is one of the natural limits to human language ergo it would be irrational for a deity to confine his revelation to the literal written world alone. That and refuse to record in said written revelation explicit instructions that it alone is the sole rule of faith and including explicit statements to look to external tradition (2 Thes 2:15).

            None of that contradicts any of the Bible verses you just brought up.

            Yes the Bible can be subject to different contradicting interpretations. So whose do I follow? You just made the case here for an authoritative Church (1 Tim 3:15) and tradition (2 Thes 2:15).
            Dude seriously you can't convince me of your lame Atheism by trying to make me a Protestant before you can convince me Atheism is true because Protestantism is flawed. It's silly so cut it out.

          • michael

            Your answers are just faith-based pre-recorded sound bytes taken from The Bible and also from "Catholic Missionaries School" or catholic Answers or EWTN or something like that, and you are not thinking for yourself or using critical thinking. There's a book called "How "God" Works: A Logical Inquiry on Faith" Marshall Brain, I recommend you stop and read it.

          • Jim the Scott

            Like I said you have a case of "No fair! Your not a Protestant Fundamentalist! I need to recycle my Atheist anti-fundamentalist polemics and they are non-starter objections. No fair!"

            Too bad.

          • Jim the Scott

            As too your book recomendation "Using an intellectually rigorous, scientific approach, etc" so basically he is going to refute some "Intelligent Design" theistic personalist deity (of which I am a strong Atheist in regards to belief) via science, based on his unexamined positivist views, and NOT make a philosophical case against the Classic Theism of which I do in fact believe?
            Michael do you not get what a "non-starter" objection is all about? You are attacking the god and religion you wished I believed in instead of the ones I actually believe in. That is not going to work young Jedi. Speaking as a Christian (a Catholic BTW not the Protestant you confuse me with) I learned a long time ago there isn't a "one size fits all" way to lead different people from different beliefs to my faith. Why do you think there would be a "one size fits all omni-polemic" against general theism? It's absurd, different belief systems have different philosophical presuppositions and you can't equivocate between them and hope to convince an educated Theist of any stripe.
            Which brings me to my mantra. Go study. Get off the net and go learn something useful. You are not there yet. Give up your pride my friend. Atheism does not equal "automatically rational or educated by virtue of disbelief".

          • michael

            The book isn't about The Scientific Method. It is about Critical Thinking. Just like The Argument from Design, aArgument form Morality, Etc. mentioned in the philosophy article from Maverick are also NOT about The Scientific Method. The Scientific Method = make prediction, do experiment, repeat, peer review, until an outcome is firmly supported. Neither The Argument from Design nor Marshall Brain do that.

          • Jim the Scott

            You said "The book isn't about The Scientific Method. It is about Critical Thinking".

            The book summery on Amazon says "Using an intellectually rigorous, scientific approach,"..

            Based on the observed evidence whom do you think I should believe? Also reading the reviews over at Amazon is interesting for example one of the five star reviewer wrote "Brain does a good job of laying out a logical argument for doubting the existence of God based on the fact that there is no statistical evidence that prayer affects the physical world at all, according to double-blind experiments."

            So the above isn't an attempt to "make prediction, do experiment, repeat, peer review, until an outcome is firmly supported."? Yeh Michael he is trying to make a scientific case here. I bet there isn't one attempted philosophical defeater aimed at even one classic philosophical argument. I don't know in fact if that is true but so far I feel confident to gamble.

            Read my lips Micheal. I am a Classic Theist not a Theistic Personalist. I absolutely believe God cannot be proven or disproven via experimental science. One can only make a philosophical case for God with a philosophical argument. Trying to use "science" to prove a Classic view of God true or false is like trying to find a Higgs Boson by trying to dig it up in a fossil record.

            BTW you cannot ethically or practically experiment on a subject without their co-operation so how can any Pray experiment in principle work? How do you get God to co-operate? Also God is outside time and foresees all prayers sent to him and in one act of divine will chooses from all eternity which he will answer & which he won't and wills the Cosmos unfold accordingly. God is not the Force so you cannot experiment on prayers.

            I was right Positivism. Micheal all that book would do is convince me of the non-existence of a God I already don't think exists. How is that helpful for you to make me an Atheist.

            Will you stop with the nonsense and go study some philosophy.

          • michael

            There is nothing in the book about theistic personalism. I have actually read the thing.

          • Jim the Scott

            You don't know Theistic Personalism from a hole in the head. The reviewer says the author does prayer experiments. That suggests he believes god is a scientific question not a philosophical one. Scientific gods are by definition theistic personalist deities. Not Classical ones.

          • michael

            I have done much of my research on the net, on Catholic Answers, EWTN etc. Are you saying these sources are wrong merely because they are on the net? What about the various philosophy links you've given? They are on the net too.

          • Jim the Scott

            It doesn't show. I have to keep correcting you and I can't help noticing Tim O'Neil has to as well. Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Empire? Are you serious? What "Catholic" site did you get that from? It sounds like you have been reading Landmark Baptists.....
            Yikes.....

          • michael

            Ok so it was Theodosus instead of Constantine but that does'nt make a difference.

          • Jim the Scott

            The point is you are not doing your homework.

          • michael

            BTW what do you think of this link? Note the paragraph that starts with "If you find this a satisfactory explanation": https://bible.org/question/does-jesus-now-know-when-he-coming-back-or-still-only-gods-knowledge-stated-matt-2436-and-m This link was given to me by a catholic on youtube yesterday.

          • Jim the Scott

            So some Catholics can give bad advice or cite inadequate sources? It is not even a Catholic website. Not that that automatically disqualifies it but I would choose Classic Theistic Reformed Theologian Paul Helm over Plantinga any day. But I am millitant.

            "If you find this explanation satisfactory, then you need not look further. I find the explanation somewhat less than compelling. It suggests that Jesus is somehow a divided person, with a human side and with a divine side.",

            Here is my criticism.
            Christ is a divine person with two natures united in that divine person. The divine person of Christ operates his natures. Me thinks the Protestant who wrote this article never read the Council or Chalcedon or the Tome of Pope Leo the Great? Or even Aquinas? The divine person of Christ operates his natures which can only act according to their natures. The divine nature of Christ cannot ride a bike. Riding a bike means physically stilling on it and pushing the pedals with your limbs. The divine essence isn't physical or material and doesn't have limbs because if it did God would have composition which he does not have. God could supernatually move the bike around but that is not riding it. The human nature of Christ could ride a bike but his human intellect is not omniscient & would only know what it learned or what God the Father has supernaturally chosen to reveal to it so Christ can reveal it too us. That excludes knowledge of the end.

          • michael

            Many Christians have said organs 1:20 is an example of The Bible using the "Argument from design" for God. IS the argument from design philosophical? No, it deals with things we can sense with our bodily senses. Do you claim that Romans 1:20 is making philosophical argument. Philosophy involves speculation and metaphysics, rather than observation with the senses: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/philosophy

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
            {New International Version}

            I do not see this as an argument from design as much as one of causality, since it refers to God's "eternal power" and "from what has been made." Such language speaks more to efficient causality -- although this is not to say that design is not evident in the created world. And, when it insists that the evidence of these things is "clearly seen," it implies that the argument does begin with "observation with the senses."

            For St. Thomas Aquinas, all the genuine proofs for God's existence begin with sense experience, just as this biblical text implies. And the language in Romans 1:20 is that of the secunda via, not the quinqua via.

          • michael

            By Argument from Design I mean William Paley's argument that begins with "When you're crossing a field and you see a stopwatch...". Nothing to do with Thomas Aquinas.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            And Paley's weak argument from extrinsic finality has virtually nothing to do with Romans 1:20, which you cited above.

          • michael

            That statement contradicts the context many present it in.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I cannot help how others interpret Romans 1:20. Look at the wording. Its language is not that of extrinsic finality, but rather efficient causality, for example, "from what has been made." "Making" is the language of efficient causality, as is "power."

          • Jim the Scott

            It is likely St Paul knew some philosophy he quotes a Greek poet after all "In Him we move and have our being". etc

            As too Romans 1:20 it is not making a precisely formulated philosophical argument but it expresses the true sentiment we can infer God's existence by reason and senses. It does fit Aristotle's argument.

            > Philosophy involves speculation and metaphysics, rather than observation with the senses:

            No, it involves reasoning about reality at the most basic level. For example the belief your sense tell you something true about reality is metaphysics and senses. What is first in the intellect must first be in the senses.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/05/natural-theology-natural-science-and.html

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/05/natural-theology-natural-science-and.html

          • michael

            Then the dictionary is wrong about the definition of "Philosophy":Merriam-wbester's website defines it as: all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts (2) : the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology a doctor of philosophy (3) : the 4-year college course of a major seminary
            b (1) archaic : physical science (2) : ethics
            c : a discipline comprising as its core logic, aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology
            2 a : pursuit of wisdom
            b : a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means
            c : an analysis of the grounds of and concepts expressing fundamental beliefs
            3 a : a system of philosophical concepts
            b : a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought the philosophy of war
            4 a : the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group
            b : calmness of temper and judgment befitting a philosopher

          • Jim the Scott

            >Then the dictionary is wrong about the definition of "Philosophy"

            Or being a mere dictionary rather then a professional Tome about Philosophy it is merely incomplete? It merely gives the high points and a overly broad view of the subject matter?
            Why are you focusing on dictionaries and not professional books on philosophy? I've seen Young Earth Creationist argue against Evolution using the dictionary rather then biology text books. That is not a winning strategy. That is merely being goofy. You are just taking pathetic proof-texting and using the dictionary instead of the Bible.

            >:Merriam-wbester's website defines it as: all learning exclusive of technical precepts and practical arts (2) : the sciences and liberal arts exclusive of medicine, law, and theology a doctor of philosophy (3) : the 4-year college course of a major seminary......etc

            How does any of this contradict what I said? Also Philosophy is a broad field and there are different philosophical schools.

            You are proof-texting and not thinking and not learning.

          • michael

            Romans 1:20 is about the physical world. Philosophy is about speculation and METAphysical things. Or is philosophy not about speculation and metaphysical things?

          • Jim the Scott

            >Romans 1:20 is about the physical world.

            The Church hasn't defined it as such so your fallible interpretation is meaningless to me. What did I tell you already about citing Scripture to Catholics?

            > Philosophy is about speculation and METAphysical things. Or is philosophy not about speculation and metaphysical things?

            Nope that is too simplistic. Using the dictionary to define a complex subject matter is just silly.

          • michael

            Define "Philosophy" in one sentence.

          • Jim the Scott

            That is an absurd demand.

            It is about as meaningful as asking me to prove evolution true in one sentence. Go study Biology if you want to prove evolution. Same with philosophy. Specifically classic Philosophy. Study!

            Here start with this guy.
            https://www.thegreatideas.org/adlerbio_short.html

            Also your original objection was philosophy only "involves speculation and metaphysics, rather than observation with the senses".

            We Aristotelian Moderate Realists with an assist from our Strong Realist Platonic cousins disagree. Aquinas certainly disagreed quoting Aristotle who said "There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses."

            I gave you the links. Now you are going off on tangents..

            If you are not taking this seriously let me know.

          • michael

            In that third to last sentence, did you mean to type "with" between "disagreed" and "quoting", as in Aquinas disagreed with Aristotle on something/ & I"m not serious about studying that stuff. Let your God just give me The Beatific Vision & then I'll believe.

          • Jim the Scott

            >In that third to last sentence, did you mean to type "with" between "disagreed" and "quoting", as in Aquinas disagreed with Aristotle on something/

            What are you blathering about?

            >& I"m not serious about studying that stuff.

            Then jog on before you bore me. Your Atheism will alway be low brow and Tim O'Neil will always roll his eyes at you.

          • michael

            Tim O'Neil is obviously not an atheist. Just look at the design of his website. It's got the Saint-Chapelle windows & ceiling as its background.

          • Jim the Scott

            You are quite mad at this point.

          • michael

            If someone identifying a Christian and the roof of a mosque as the background of their website, what would you think?

          • Jim the Scott

            ??????????
            Huh?

          • michael

            I am using clear metaphor to show why the design of Tim O'Neill's website shows he is a christian.

          • Jim the Scott

            Whatever....

          • michael

            I may read some of that stuff one of these days, but I doubt it'll have anything I haven't already read before.

          • Jim the Scott

            Till that day comes I don't see why I should break a sweat.

          • michael

            Define the word "Philosophy" in ten sentences.

          • Jim the Scott

            Why would I do that? You just admitted you aren't really interested & are waiting for a direct experience of the Beatific Vision?

          • michael

            You don't need a college thesis to simply give a definition for any four-syllable word.

          • Jim the Scott

            You need to do your own homework but you are not serious by your own admission so I don't understand why I should break a sweat for ya?

          • michael

            I wouldn't ask if I weren't at least somewhat serious. I am nota king for proof of Philosophy, merely the DEFINITION OF THE WORD. Calm down and respectfully define the word. There is no such thing as a four-syllable word that cannot be defined without reading a college thesis.

          • Jim the Scott

            So you just admitted you fibbed to me when you said you are not serious?
            That makes me even less likely to comply with your lame requests.
            Get used to disappointment in this life kid(& the next).
            I gave you links if you don't want to read them and discuss the ideas and just play sophistical word games I can tell you right now nothing would bore me or waste my time more.
            I have one major and main rule for discussion. Don't bore me.

          • Jim the Scott

            OTOH I feel merciful today....(it won't last thankfully)

            PS Aristotle defined Philosophy thus "Philosophy was a subject of great interest to Aristotle, and he theorized that philosophy was the foundation of the ability to understand the basic axioms that comprise knowledge. In order to study and question completely, Aristotle viewed logic as the basic means of reasoning."

            I found this in two seconds. You couldn't find this yourself? I am a Thomists and Thomists rely heavily on Aristotle and it never occurred to you to seek out their definitions of Philosophy?

            Get off your lazy arse and study sonny boy! Oy Vey!

          • michael

            "I theorize that molecules are made of atoms" does not define the term "Atom". How you theorize about or feel about something doesn't define what the WORD means.

          • Jim the Scott

            Except my response metaphorically speaking does define "atom" and I remember now you are not serious and this response proves that former statement of yours was truthful.

            I now know better then to answer anymore of your lame questions or posts unless you do finally say something interesting. Well I won't hold my breath.

          • michael

            "Philosophy was a subject of great interest to Aristotle" doe into define the WORD "philosophy". Aristotle was doubtlessly interested in drinking water, is drinking water the definition of the term "philosophy"? And you are being horribly rude. Jesus would be very upset with your attitude.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't understand what you just posted here? Please define "Philosophy was a subject of great interest to Aristotle" doe into define the WORD "philosophy". Aristotle was doubtlessly interested in drinking water, is drinking water the definition of the term "philosophy"? And you are being horribly rude. Jesus would be very upset with your attitude." for me if you will? I am just not getting it?

          • michael

            Please show me the text of the Ex Cathedra declaration where the Vatican said "The official reason Matthew 24:36 says was it does is the two natures of Jesus". And please, be considerate and polite. I cannot find it on my own.

          • Jim the Scott

            There is none. The Church has at best defined the meaning of about 7 verses and this is not one of them. So one meaning is as good as another as long as it's in harmony with Catholic Teaching.

            >And please, be considerate and polite.

            We both know you are just trolling here so please don't insult me with this false pretense. I prefer brutal honesty vs phony social conventions of false politeness.

          • michael

            If you say so. I could've sworn you said there was a 3rd or 4th century council that made that the official Ex Cathedra explanation. Going to have to check.

          • Jim the Scott

            Really? Well to be fair you think Tim O'Neil is a Christian not an Atheist.

          • michael

            That isn't definition o the word "philosophy". It's a description of someone's attitudes about philosophy. Describing how I feel about cats doesn't define the term "cat".

          • Jim the Scott

            >That isn't definition o the word "philosophy".

            If you already know the definition why do you keep bugging me? Also who has the authority to declare Ex Cathedra your "definition" over mine or Aristotle's? BTW if you wish to argue your definition of philosophy is the "correct one" that by definition would require a philosophical argument. Which is obvious to me you don't have the slightest idea of how to make given you hold Webster's as the sole rule of Faith in terms of defining Philosophy and won't admit anything beyond that including Aristotle one of the fathers of philosophy. Which is just silly.

            Of course you are not being serious here so I make allowances for your blather.

            BTW Aristotle defined philosophy as" the foundation of the ability to understand the basic axioms that comprise knowledge. In order to study and question completely, Aristotle viewed logic as the basic means of reasoning."

            Yep that is a "definition" and I agree with it. Of course even this definition is not exhaustive of the subject matter.

          • michael

            I tihnk you initially wrote "Thought of" rather than "defined".

          • Jim the Scott

            I am not being serious either so who cares?

          • michael

            I just checked you wrote "theorized", rather than "defined": ""Philosophy was a subject of great interest to Aristotle, and he THEORIZED that philosophy was the foundation of the ability to understand the basic axioms that comprise knowledge. In order to study and question completely, Aristotle viewed logic as the basic means of reasoning."

          • Jim the Scott

            So you believe it is impossible to come up with definitions by theorizing?

            That is a silly theory.

          • Jim the Scott

            Also tell @Sample1 I said Hi.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I believe that Vatican Council I mentioned Romans 1:20 somewhere in the same documents which ultimately defined that the existence of God can be known by the light of unaided reason. (Denz. 1806.)

            The proofs for God's existence always begin with data drawn from the physical world -- at least for St. Thomas. Proofs from causality argue from physical effects that can be experienced with the senses back to an Uncaused Cause that is transcendental to this world, which thereby requires a properly metaphysical argument -- since natural science cannot make pronouncements that transcend this physical world.

          • michael

            By Argument from Design I specifically mean William Paely's famous Watchmaker Analogy, nothing to do with Aristotle, who did'nt believe in "God' as defined by Catholics but in several separate "unmoved movers".

          • Jim the Scott

            Paley (not "paely" If I of all people, am correcting your spelling well....it
            does not make me hopeful you are putting in the effort) was wrong. His argument is bupkis as it is based on his Mechanistic post enlightenment philosophy. It is not compatible with Thomism or Aristotle.
            Any philosophy St. Paul would have been familiar would have likely been the classics so it would be closer to Aristotle or Plato. Paley is a modern philosopher he died in the 19th century.

            Thomism versus the design argument
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/03/thomism-versus-design-argument.html

          • michael

            Oops, I meant to type "Romans 1:20". Please answer soon.

          • michael

            Did you even click the link? Mandrake clearly states that he or she has a Philosophy Degree. Please click the link.

          • Jim the Scott

            What kind of philosophy degree? A BA in philosophy? A Masters? A Phd? and in what field? Metaphysics? Ontology? Epistomology? Does he do modal logic? Is he a moderate realist? Anti-realist? Strong Realist?

            I read his blurb he is responding to my bad grammar which is the only thing you got right.

          • michael

            It just says "Philosophy Degree. CLICK THE LINK. NOW! And there are other resorts besides Mandrake's, in addition to comment beneath Mandrake's post. You can see if the person accepts PMs and ask what kind of degree it is.

          • Jim the Scott

            I read it and it's a non-starter. I corrected my grammar. "I lack "no god" belief" is clearly negative theism. "I lack no god belief" is a double negative.

          • michael

            There are other comments about it unrelated to grammar.

          • Jim the Scott

            Don't care we are done Mike. I can't keep correcting you. I am too old.

          • michael

            Theistic Personalism i the belief that God, as Being itself, is the ground of all contingent being, immanent in and transcendent over the whole world of reality. To say otherwise is to dismiss a crucial component of how catholic define "God". T dismiss Theistic Personalism is to claim that God does not keep everything else in existence, to claim that God is not the fundamental bedrock of all other reality aside from himself. Any catholic priest will ell you that to dismiss Theistic Personalism is HERESY.

          • Jim the Scott

            Theistic Personalism i the belief that God, as Being itself, is the ground of all contingent being,

            No Michael that is not Theistic Personalism. That is Classical Theism.
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/07/classical-theism-roundup.html

            Already you are getting it wrong.

          • michael

            Everything I just described about Catholic's beliefs about God is nonetheless compatible with Classical Theism. I am literally quoting catholic websites on this.

          • Jim the Scott

            No it isn't compatible you are just trying to argue by equivocation. But I will say this. It is likely you have some good arguments against the ID/Intelligent design crown over at Uncommon Dessent. Too bad the lot of them are Theistic Personalist Protestants so I am already a strong Atheist toward their "god". So you arguments are futile as was your case against the Trinity. You really need to sit down and learn. Mere denial of Gods doesn't give you knowledge of the case against religion if any.

          • michael

            Quoting actual catholic beliefs is not equivocation. What I described IS Catholic Classical Theism. I did more than deny the existence of Gods. I Demonstrated logically why I disbelieve. You have'n even demonstrated why you believe, as far as I can remember.

          • Jim the Scott

            We are done Michael. Let it go son. You didn't do well and you need more study.

          • michael
          • Jim the Scott

            Are any of these people professional philosophers with PhD's? That is like a creationist giving a link to a discussion board of random people who disapprove of Evolution and not even a college biology degree between them and expecting that will impress?
            Boring and uninteresting.

            Saying there is no God is a positive claim. Saying "I lack God belief" is a negative claim. Positive Atheism is saying "There is no God". Negative Atheism is saying "I lack God belief". Positive Theism is "There is a God" and negative theism is "I lack 'no god' belief".
            It is not hard. If you don't want to make the case for atheism that is fine. If you would rather polemic Theistic claims that is fine. Only do it correctly and not ignorantly. Have some pride in the brain God & Evolution gave you.

          • michael

            Mandrake is!

          • Jim the Scott

            Who now?

          • michael

            one of the people who answered in the link to yahoo answers that you clearly have not clicked on has the username Mandrake.

          • Jim the Scott

            I found and because he post "philosophy degree" at the end of his post that makes him Bill's intellectual and academic equal? Talk about belief based on blind faith......

          • michael

            Does it make him NOT Bill's equal?

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't know? I have no evidence of his qualifications? What you could find another philosopher with a PhD who would answer Bill's specific argument?
            Obviously not........

          • michael

            Exactly. You don't know.

          • Jim the Scott

            But you cited him not me. I went for a known PhD with a good argument. You didn't.
            We are done Michael. Let it go son. You didn't do well and you need more study.

          • michael

            It was you who demanded to know exactly which type, though. And stop calling son. You are trying to talk down to me and be condescending.

          • Jim the Scott

            I meant it affectionately but if it bothers you.....

            Anyway pick better sources in the future.

          • Jim the Scott

            The guy just has "philosophy degree" (what degree) at the bottom of his post and you just take him on blind Faith? At least Bill Vallicella is a peer reviewed PhD. that is a part of public record.
            https://philpapers.org/s/Vallicella

            Michael go home and do some real reading. For your own sake.

          • michael

            As I see it, if God existed, he would've created a world where he told Adam "Eat from any tree, I've made sure they are all safe". None of this would contradict free will, since it would not involve mind control. Everyone would immediately receive The Beatific Vision and live happily ever after. No need for missionaries, no atheists or agnostics would exist since everyone would have The Beatific Vision, perceiving God without any mediation.

          • Jim the Scott

            So what?

          • michael

            That is what would convince me to believe in God. That kind of world. So that post is an argument against the existence of God.

          • Jim the Scott

            It is a defective standard on the level of a Creationist insisting he needs to see an Ape literally give birth to a human being before he believes in evolution.

          • michael

            What would be a non-defective argument against God's existence then?

          • Jim the Scott

            You might as well challenge me to prove quantum physics correct in 100 words or less. Go study do your homework. I am done.

          • michael

            I HAVE. I told you so. The philosophical, historical, rational, biblical, moral etc. arguments and defenses for God have been studied by me and found by me to be seriously lacking after serious, unbiased, examination of them. That is why i left Catholicism.

          • Jim the Scott

            Mike you think theistic personalism is God being a Ground of Being.....
            Good day son.

          • michael

            I never even heard the term Theistic Personalism before last night, and then looked it up on Wikipedia for 5 seconds. Calm down. And be polite, for Pete's sake! You come for as so condescending.

          • Jim the Scott

            You never heard of it? You posted it here.
            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/how_proofs_for_god_lead_to_divine_simplicity/#comment-4017926785

            I am not condescending. I am merely compotent.

          • michael

            I posted it in response to YOU mentioning it first!!!!!!

          • Jim the Scott

            ??????

          • michael

            YOU mentioned the term first!!!!

          • Jim the Scott

            ?????????

          • Jim the Scott

            Also this post is dishonest but it is in part my fault.

            "I lack no god belief" is bad grammar. You are right about that. But I corrected it with "I lack 'no god' belief". These people are giving their ill informed opinions based on the bad grammar version. Also what is the point in asking them? This reminds me of the Episode of Seth MacFarlen's THE ORVILLE of the planet run by pure democracy and public opinion where "Truth" is decided by what a majority believe. How is that helpful?

          • michael

            I am familiar with numerous other fallacious arguments (Argument from design, morality, God of the gaps etc.) as well as believers responses to refutations of these arguments. I know what I'm talking about.

          • Jim the Scott

            So you say but you insisted on your own self made definition of the Trinity for dozens of posts so already I have no confidence in you.

            OTOH all these arguments are for Theistic Personalism. Which I reject. So non-starter alert.

          • michael

            Did you really mean to type "reject"? Or accidentally type "reject? I can assure you that Jimmy Akin would call that heresy and borderline atheism, if not atheism, since believing in "God" as catholics define "God" requires Theistic Personalism.

          • Jim the Scott

            I know Jimmy Akin. I used to converse on the phone with him at Catholic Answers back in the day. He would not contradict Garrigou-Lagrange or Feser or Brian Davie on this.

          • michael

            Saying Russels' Teapot is a fallacy presupposes that a deity exists. The article does into prove God's existence, only asserts it by saying comparing not believing in God to not believing in Truth, and assuming the various arguments for the existence of God are correct, when many like myself who have studied those arguments and the defenses made in response to criticism of those arguments disagree. Saying "PHD blah blah" is an Appeal to Authority Fallacy.

          • Jim the Scott

            I guess you just skimmed the article. It doesn't say any of that. We are done.

          • michael

            It says, in the second to last paragraph: "To deny God, then, is not like denying an orbiting teapot; it is more like denying Being itself. Or it is more like denying truth itself as opposed to denying that a particular proposition is true."

          • Jim the Scott

            Great proof text without a context that leads us to a pretext.

            Read the whole thing slowly. God is not a scientific question but a philosophical one. A teapot orbiting Mars is science not philosophy.

          • michael

            Your philosophy fails to forcibly compel anyone who reads it to believe in a god.

          • Jim the Scott

            With all due respect coming from you that is not very impressive. You need to do more studying. It's not shameful to not know. It is shameful to act like you know when you clearly don't. Especially to people who know.

          • michael

            In the second to last paragraph, it clearly says:
            To deny God, then, is not like denying an orbiting teapot; it is more like denying Being itself. Or it is more like denying truth itself as opposed to denying that a particular proposition is true."

          • Jim the Scott

            So you can prooftext without understanding what you have read?

          • michael

            I do understand it, it's worded very clearly and plainly. If you think I'm not understanding it, PROVE IT.

          • Jim the Scott

            No Michael you don't understand and you cannot be made too. At this point it is not your reason that is the problem. It is your will and lack of compotence.

          • Jim the Scott

            Michael I am going to give you this bit of info to help you in the future as a parting gift.
            The reason Theistic Personalism is NOT in anyway compatible with Classical theism is that Classic Theists believe we can only know God exists by sound philosophical argument and reasoning not by empirical science. Theistic Personalist and so called "Intelligent Design" people believe God is a scientific question & the Classical Theist by definition would not consider what they call "god" to be divine. A Classic Theist believe trying to prove God scientifically is a category mistake. Using science to prove or disprove God is like trying to prove the existence of a Higgs Boson by trying to dig it up in a fossil record. Or trying to prove natural selection with a particle accelerator. Philosophy and philosophical methods are the first science. The scientific method itself is based on certain philosophical presuppositions that cannot be proven scientifically without begging the question. If you are reading Aquinas threw the lens of science then you are doing it wrong. Try reading it threw the lens of Essentialist moderate realism philosophy and metaphysics. Then take the next 20 years to see if you can come up with philosophical defeaters. Of course if you only have "scientific" defeaters for Thomism you are doing it wrong even if there are no gods. It's like the Creationist invalidly invoking the 2nd law of thermal dynamics to "defeat" evolution. In short wrong.
            Good luck son. I wish you well.:-)

          • michael

            You re shifting the subject. Admit that the arguments for God I gave come form catholic websites and are Classical Theism and that Catholics teach God is immaterial, transcends time and space, is eternal, created time and space and matter, keeps them in exist, etc. That is Classical Theism and not the scientific method. I've seen Catholics even at catholic Answers say that Romans 1:20 uses the argument from design, and saying "The Creation demands a creator." and "The odds of a single DNA molecular forming by chance are worse than the odds of finding a randomly marked particle hidden anywhere in the universe". Note that none of this is saying God IS the created universe, which would be immanence/Theistic Personalism.

          • Jim the Scott

            No Michael I am giving you some parting advice and you are all but clueless here.

            After seeing your dust up with O'Neil (who is an Atheist BTW) I am convinced you really really have to hit the books. I am sorry son but you lack the compotence and education to offer any rational challenge to Classic Theism in general and Catholicism specifically.

          • michael

            Nothing I said contradicts or denies Tim is an atheist. I knew that all along.

          • Jim the Scott

            You miss the point.....

          • michael

            Are people who (though falsely) claim that the existence and miracles of Jesus can be "proven historical" using the scientific method/ Does shivery involve The Scientific Method and experiments? What about the (Also erroneous) "argument from morality"?

          • Jim the Scott

            We use the "scientific method" to prove history? I don't understand your question.

          • michael

            Exactly my point. We DON'T use the scientific method to prove history!

          • Jim the Scott

            We don't use the scientific method to solve math problem. To discover the rules of logic or a lot knowledge humankind is dependent on.

          • michael

            I didn't say anything to the contrary.

          • Jim the Scott

            You don't say anything coherent either.

          • michael

            I know! That my point!

          • Jim the Scott

            You have a point?

          • Jim the Scott

            The Problem with a double negative is linguistically is causes you to mean the opposite of what you likely mean to say. If Sissy wants to tell miss Scarlet she lack the ability to help deliver children saying "I know nothing about birthing no babies" says the opposite of the former by the later. OTOH if Sissy really want to let Miss Scarlet know she is competent then the Statement "I know nothing about birthing no babies" is still technically a profession of midwife competence. Saying "I lack 'no god' belief" is a negative way to profess Theism.

          • David Nickol

            Prissy, not Sissy!

            "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies."

            Scarlett, not Scarlet!

            The above are correct even if Feser says otherwise!

          • Jim the Scott

            I doubt Feser would say otherwise. Anyway thanks for those corrections. My basic arguments defending the Trinity are still valid even if I know nothin' 'bout Gone with the Wind. I vague remembered it when I watch it with my mother when I was a child. Roots was better.

          • David Nickol

            During a lecture the Oxford linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin made the claim that although a double negative in English implies a positive meaning, there is no language in which a double positive implies a negative. To which [Sidney] Morgenbesser responded in a dismissive tone, "Yeah, yeah."

          • Jim the Scott

            My Sith powers tell me there is a linguistic Joke in there I am not getting and I am annoyed at myself that I don't know enough to get it. ;-) But I bet it was funny.

            ....Oh wait...just before I was about to hit post I got it! :D
            Good one David.:-)

          • Jim the Scott

            And Augustine lived from 13 November 354 – 28 August 430, so there is no basis for saying what he wrote was handed down all the way form 30 Ad

            Doesn't need too. Doctrine develops as Cardinal Newman proved from the Fathers. The Church formally approves of his interpretation in Her Councils so the case is closed. Catholic doctrine states in the trinity there is only one divine intellect not three. In Christ there are two natures not one in one divine person not two person.
            If you want to discuss any view of the Trinity or incarnation other then what I wrote above then you are discussing something Other then Catholic doctrine and I am not interested in the false doctrines of other religions.

          • Jim the Scott

            Michael this is what you argument looks like to me.

            "I am giving you my definition and understanding of the Trinity which is clearly incoherent and contradictory[& it is, three minds? God having memories? emotions? etc. If I really thought this was the "Trinity" I would disbelieve it too.] and I Michael am telling you Catholics your belief in the Trinity is therefore irrational and incoherent because my self made definition is irrational & incoherent even thought you define the Trinity completely differently then me. "

            That is your argument in a nutshell. Sorry Michael in principle I can never believe the Trinity is "three minds and one mind". I am Catholic. There is One Divine Mind, Will and Intellect operated by three divine persons. One divine mind and three distinct divine persons subsisting in the divine essence isn't modalism or Sabellianism or patropatrianism or modern "Jesus Only" unitarianism. Those are the facts regardless if there is or is not a God.

          • michael

            Even catholics here agreed that being three persons means they must have three minds: https://forums.catholic.com/t/does-the-trinity-have-one-mind-or-three-minds/442556

          • Jim the Scott

            But are any of these Catholics professional theologians? I am sure I can find a forum of Atheists who make grave mistakes on science or evolution but that doesn't render the true understanding of science or evolution invalid.
            Also how do I know on this forum who is Catholic and who is not? Sometimes here Nickels or Adams corrects a person on Catholic doctrine and both are non-believers. Both Dr. B and I make a point of pointing that out. Even Atheists can get Catholic doctrine right so with all due respect you are without excuse.
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/02/trinity-and-mystery.html

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/06/trinity-sunday.html

          • michael

            My mother was the only one who referred to the Confirmation class by the term "CCD". It wasn't CCD. I last had that when I was like, 6.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am 50 and for me it was merely "religious intruction". I don't care what it is called today. Anyway as I pointed out all your polemics against the Trinity are invalid. Intellectual honesty compels me to be fair. It doesn't automatically mean Catholicism is correct or God exists but if I am to be persuaded that the Trinity is false and incoherent and thatGod does not exist I am afraid with all due respect you are not the one to persuade me.
            Indeed you have as much change as the Young Earth Creationist with a 5th grader's knowledge of biology has of convincing Richard Dawkins evolution is "wrong".
            I call it as I see it. But I wish you well. No hard feelings. Cheers.

          • michael

            As soon as you said "It's a mystery beyond human understanding" you admit the irrationality o f The Trinity. Just admit it, logically speaking, it's no better than saying "Well, 1+2 can = 1, but it's beyond human understanding how that works".

            & I have studied Evolution and the chemistry of DNA and life more than any 5th grader. Evolution makes a god unnecessary and at the most redundant.

          • Jim the Scott

            That does not logically follow. You have not rationally proven mystery is impossible. You can't prove it but good luck trying. Now you are just repeating your invalid math argument. I counter with a valid math metaphor.
            1+2 can't equal 1 but 1 x 1 can = 1 to the 2nd power. 1+1+1 cannot equal 1 but 3 however 1 x 1 x1 can and does equal 1 to the third power(which is one in the sense of number and three in the sense of exponent. So I am still not seeing how God can't be one in the sense of essence and three in subsisting hypostasis?). Also you are changing the subject to an invalid claim Evolution makes god "unnecessary". Sorry but throwing a wad of mud to see what sticks is an old device and you have already shown you cannot critique the trinity nor do you show the maturity to own the fact you have made a very bad argument against the Trinity. So why should I let you change the subject? Your argument against the Trinity is completely invalid even if there is no god. Admit that & concede or counter rebut my points if you can. But don't change the subject.

          • michael

            I'm not saying mysteries in general are impossible, but contradictions disguised as mysteries are. Three persons with separate knowledge and memories cannot be one deity.

          • Jim the Scott

            Again with your made up "Michael Definition" of divine persons. You cannot show a "contradiction" by making up your own straw man doctrines. God is not literally three human persons who are somehow a single deity. The divine persons are divine relations who all share the same divine mind, intellect and will and essence but are really distinct from one another in a mysterious way.
            Sorry but there does not exist a theology text book anywhere in the Catholic world that describes the trinity thus as you have. Not a single Church Father or Pope describes the divine person that way. It is extremely irrational to argue a straw man. Why you insist on such a self defeating anti-intellectual path is a mystery like the Trinity.
            The Trinity cannot even in principle be shown to contain any formal or logical contradiction according to the classical rules of logic. You have not done this so far and of course you can't do it.

            Michael here is what you don't get. The "Trinity" that you don't believe in I don't believe in either. Nor does Dr. B nor Brandon nor Rob or Luke or Pope Francis or Pope Benedict or John Paul etc or Aquinas or Augustine or Maxamos the Confessor etc. We are all "atheists" believing in the Trinity of the "Michael Doctrine".

          • michael

            The divine persons are divine relations who all share the same divine mind, " sounds a skip and a hop away from a heresy called Patripassianism. With one mind, you must have one memory, one set of experiences. That is something even a baby knows. And the works of Aquinas, Augustine, etc. are not Papal declarations or part of scripture so their teachings have no authoritative weight.

          • Jim the Scott

            Except Patripassianism is the specific modalist heresy that "Father, Son and Spirit" are just names for one divine relation in God who is the Father alone. Three divine relations sharing one divine mind is merely Catholic & general Christian dogma. God does not and cannot have memories as God is outside of time so He doesn't learn things as He goes along to "remember" them. God doesn't have "experiences" as he is the cause of all things but Himself. The relevant teachings of Augustine and Aquinas have been formally approved of and recommended by the Popes so as to constitute part of the Tradition of the Church and thus have weight and as I said we confess Tradition and Scripture (2 Thes 2:15) not Scripture alone. I already complain quite loudly when either Mr. Nickels or Mr. Adams makes what appears to me a Sola Scriptura argument. I am going to do it to you as well. An Atheist has about as much business making a Sola Scripture argument to a Catholic as a Young Earth Creationist has making an argument for Punctuated Equilibrium. It's absurd.
            You problem remains in that you hold to the "Michael Doctrine" of the Trinity and you venture criticisms of that but you ignore the Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity and make equivocations between your made up strawman doctrine and Catholic doctrine. Why do you think that is a good idea? It's not really.

          • michael

            No, Patripassianism says the Father suffered on the cross, which would be the necessary consequence of The father and Son having one mind.Catholicism teaches that The father and Holy Spirit did not suffer on the cross, but the Son did. Suffering is an experience, whether happening eternally or within time. To not experience something is to have never encountered or known of it. Furthermore, to claim that The father has knowledge which the Son and Holy Spirit don't, which The Bible clearly says, means The Father has knowledge (even if he always had that knowledge and therefore did not learn it) and keeps that information the Son and Holy Spirit don't know. To have no memory is to not retain knowledge, to not retain knowledge is to have no knowledge at all, which is the definition of "Not being alive, being an inanimate object".

          • Jim the Scott

            The reason Patripassianism says the Father suffered on the cross is because it teaches there is only one person in God the Father so I don't see a contradiction to what I have said? The Second distinct divine relation became incarnate and took on an additional human nature. The other two divine relations did not. As God the Trinity has only one divine intellect since divine intellect is a divine attribute and God's Attributes are identical to his essence/nature. The Second Person has two nature via the incarnation. Because the second person is really distinct in a mysterious way He can become incarnate and not the other two person because they are not him but Christ has the same divine nature as the other two persons. That divine nature has only one intellect not three. As God the three persons share the same divine intellect and know all things including the end. The incarnate Christ doesn't know the end in his human nature and assumed human intellect.
            This is all very simple and your only "argument" is to redefine the terms and their meanings and the doctrines and their meanings. That is not a rational way to argue. That is an argumentative fallacy.

            The Bible clearly says

            The perspicuity of Holy Writ is a Protestant heresy that contradicts the Bible and our first Pope (2 Peter1:20-21 and 2 Peter 3:16). It's just your interpretation vs the Catholic one. Why should I accept your interpretation even if I rejected the authority of the Catholic Church?

          • michael

            Being of one mind intrinsically means being one person. That is what you fail to comprehend. Your soul defense of this paradox to which you blindly hold is to say "it's an incomprehensible mystery of The Catholic FAITH" which is not a satisfactory answer to me. If The catholic faith said a circular triangle can exist, (Which I'm NOT claiming it does) saying "It's an incomprehensible mystery" does not justify or validate belief in that paradox.

          • Jim the Scott

            That applies to a human person which is only compared to God analogously not unequivocally. A divine person is a subsisting divine relation. A divine person is not the same as a human one nor has it's limits. I am afraid on all levels you have failed to show the contradiction. What you won't except is you loose nothing conceding my points. The Trinity can as a concept be completely coherent and contain no formal or logical contradictions and it can also be false. The Seven Person God in Game of Thrones if their theology is anything like ours wouldn't be a contradiction. Of course I don't believe in it.

          • michael

            A single mind can have distinct relations, for example I can have a short term and a long-term memory and be one person. There is no reason why being a divine mind would change that, much less make those distinct relations into "persons". My conscious experience of writing this now, my short term memory, and my long-term memory, and my subconscious are different things related to one another in different ways, but they are not people. You have not demonstrated precisely how or why adding the status of divinity to that would change that, only stated "It's mysterious". So your response is a 100% faith-based non-sequitur.

          • Jim the Scott

            We don't know what divinity is as divinity thus we cannot know that it is impossible. We know a spider makes 8 legs coherent and a dog makes it a formal contradiction. You can't save this argument by shifting the burden of proof. I don't have to prove or explain what divinity is. Trinitarian theology is negative theology. You have to explain it in fact is to prove the contradiction. If you can't because you don't know what it is then in principle there is no contradiction till that evidence is provided. I am sorry but there really is no way to salvage your argument. Abandon it. Try disproving the existence of God or divine revelation and in one kill shot you take out the Trinity, the Koran, the Seven and even Brahmah.

          • michael

            What's more, the existence of mysteries does not make it logical or justified to walk by faith and not by sight.

          • Jim the Scott

            I suspect given your apparent ignorance of Catholic theology and philosophy (don't take that personally. It is an observation not an insult) you confuse "Faith" with the condemned heresy of Fideism which was condemned by the First Vatican council. Also this is an obvious attempt to change the discussion to Faith rather then defend your incoherent case against the alleged contradictions of the Trinity. I am afraid I cannot allow that. Make you case or concede the Trinity contains no formal or logical contradiction. I am not asking you to confess the Trinity as God or that God exists but reason can allow no other conclusion other then you have failed to make the case the Trinity is a "contradiction".

          • michael

            There is a fine line between supra-rational and IRRATIONAL and your explanation of the Trinity and Jesus' knowledge are mathematically IRRATIONAL. You need to learn about the distinction between singular and plural nouns and collective singular nouns. A single person cannot both know and not know something at the same time, no matter how many times you plant the label "mysterious" and "mystery of the faith" on it.

          • Jim the Scott

            They can't be mathematically irrational and to claim otherwise is clearly incoherent even if there are no gods. First we are dealing with theology here not math so first up you are making a category mistake. You dismissed the analogy of a photon being both a particle and a wave saying "This is math not physics" or something, which wasn't a good response, merely a kneejerk irrational dismissal. You don't want to make equivocations between math and physics but math and theology is OK? Give me a break son. That dog won't hunt. That is a double standard.
            The distinction between plural and singular nouns doesn't undo the Trinity. We use singular in reference to divine essence and plural nouns in term of the number of divine relations. There is no formal or logical contradiction.
            The law of non-contradiction tell us X cannot equal Not X at the same time and in the same sense. You have not explained how God being One in in the sense of Essence and three in the different sense of divine relations/persons is a contradiction? In principle you cannot do so anymore than you can prove 1x1X1 doesn't equal 1 to the 3rd power.
            How is it Christ cannot know something using his human intellect and yet can know it via the divine intellect He share with The Father? That seems rather straight forward to me under those conditions he can not know in one sense and know in another sense. Indeed it would still be so even if I denied the existence of God and divinity of Christ. I could still disbelieve the doctrine or truths of Christianity and still say "Yep that is consistent even if it's not true". So what is your problem my lad? Why do you need to hold fast to these irrational objections to the Trinity? There are far more rational ways to be an Atheist. This is not one of them. For your own sake and the sake of your disbelief I recommend you abandon it.

          • michael

            I am not equivocating, because your theology spits in the face of math.

          • michael

            One mind cannot say "I both know and do not know" at the same time. One mind cannot say "I am Bob, who is not Phil, and "I am Phil, who is not Bob" at the same time. Two minds can, though. This explains how God being One in in the sense of Essence and three in the different sense of divine relations/persons is a contradiction. What is NOT a contradiction is to say a sports team has different members with different minds. It is perfectly valid to say the US government is composite of different minds and different people who are the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches with distinct , non-mysterious relationships with each other. But to say one mind can be a complete sports team however, contradicts math.

          • Jim the Scott

            True one mind cannot say that but the Incarnate Christ has two natures and thus two minds. The Trinity has only one divine mind but the Incarnate Christ has two minds and two will a human and a divine one.

            I suspect you might be confusing the doctrine of the Trinity and Godhead with the doctrine of the Incarnation. Don't get those confused. I am here for you to clear it up.

            Humans cannot be a single being and more then one person but God is not in his divine essence a human. The divine essence is incomprehensible.
            You have to stop with the unequivocal comparisons between humans and divinity. Analogy remember? That is your basic mistake here.

          • michael

            I have never seen The Incarnation and Trinity as the same thing, that would be the heresy of Patripassianism. Nonetheless, two minds cannot be one person. Two minds are people, not a person. Saying "It's incomprehensible", though I've always known that that IS the official stance of the Catholic church, does not make it any less illogical and any less contradictory to math.

          • Jim the Scott

            No the heresy of Patripassianism is the heresy there is only one divine person in the godhead the Father and thus it was the Father who was incarnate and was as you pointed out crucified. One human person cannot be two minds given the nature of a human being. Just as a dog by nature doesn't have 8 legs but a Spider does. I don't know what a divine essence is as a divine essence so I don't know it is impossible for an Incarnate divine person to take on a human nature with a human intellect without confusion or mixing or disunity. Math still doesn't help you. This is theology with some philosophy.Do I have to hit you with a Photon again?;-) . Just kidding stand in front of a lamp for that.

          • michael

            The Photon analogy is about interaction with other things, not numbers, and is a faulty analogy. DON'T bring it up again!.

          • Jim the Scott

            Only if you give up this irrational grammar/math argument which is clearly incoherent. The analogy merely shows the mysteries in physics we don't know. A photon is observed by experiment to be a thing that can act like a wave in one instance and a particle in another. The Trinity by analog (not unequivocally) "acts like" one God in essence and "three divine persons" in subsisting relations. Thus there is one God who contains three divine persons and is not one person or three gods.

          • michael

            I have far more reasons why I left Catholicism than The Trinity. Far, far more.

          • Jim the Scott

            No doubt but this one is clearly illegitimate. Now in theory maybe the others are or are not but this one clearly is indeed it's as plain a a Bulgarian Pin up.*

            *Red Dwarf reference.

          • michael

            I concede that your view of The Trinity might perhaps be the actual Catholic one. That does not make it any less illogical as it clearly contradicts clear distinctions between singular and plural.

          • Jim the Scott

            I concede that your view of The Trinity might perhaps be the actual Catholic one.

            Progress. I am proud of you.

            That does not make it any less illogical as it clearly contradicts clear distinctions between singular and plural.

            That is irrational. That is like saying "one to the third power" contradicts clear distinctions between singular and plural because it's one number multiplied by itself three times and unlike most other exponents it equals itself. Ten too the third power doesn't equal ten but 1000. But One to the third power equals one. Is that a paradox? A contradiction? It is if we follow your "logic". So my advice is don't do that regardless if you believe in God or not. You know I am right(at least on this point. You are free to disagree on the existence of God. )

          • michael

            That is not a valid comparison because numbers are abstract ideas, not people or minds. And one is not "multiplied' by one" in a sense that make sit a good analogy to what you mean, since multiplying means making into more than one. 1x1X1=1 is one numerical fact, composite of multiple, inanimate parts, not a mind. Likewise the interactions of a photon are not a mind or person.

          • Jim the Scott

            Numbers count real things and theology speaks of a real God explained in abstract concepts that reflect concrete transcendent realities. Now you are falling back on taking the analogy hyper-literally and unequivocally. Please stop it is not helping you my friend.

          • michael

            It seems like you're back to the old "mysterious ways" answer which is not convincing to me, though it is what the church teaches. Ad your reply does not change that the comparison between minds and persons and photos does not seem to even being to line up in my view, since math is not comparable to physics even by any category of analogy applicable here.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am not asking you to believe in God or the Trinity or divine mystery. I merely wish you to concede the obvious. There is no formal or logical contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by Catholicism. That seems self evident as 1=2-1.

          • michael

            And even if you redefine "god' a s singular collective noun", "mind" cannot have "persons" unless the persons have different consciousnesses , the way people looking down from a tower and seeing the same thing don't have one consciousness. To respond "With but god is different" is faith-based special pleading since it does not objectively DEMONSTRATE it as factual, even though that IS what the church has faith in and believes. Believing isn't proving.

          • Jim the Scott

            Sorry but I only jumped in here to show your arguments of the Trinity being a contradiction or incoherent to be false. I succeed quite well I think and Dr. B e-mailed me to congratulate me. I don't have to prove or disprove the existence of any God or the Triune God I only have to show your claims the doctrine is contradictory is wrong. Which I did. That you can't won't see it is your problem not mind but I am sad you lack rationality in this case. It will dog your atheist life when you would be better off casting it away.

          • michael

            "How is it Christ cannot know something using his human intellect and yet can know it via the divine intellect He share with The Father? That seems rather straight forward to me under those conditions he can not know in one sense and know in another sense. Indeed it would still be so even if I denied the existence of God and divinity of Christ. I could still disbelieve the doctrine or truths of Christianity and still say "Yep that is consistent even if it's not true"." THIS. IS. NOT. TRUE. One mind CANNOT bot know and not know the same thing at the same time. Only more than one mind can. Bill'f mind can know what Phil's mind doesn't, and vice versa, but Bill can't both know and not know the same thing at the same time. "Mind" is just a singular noun, not a collective singular noun the way "team" or "council" or "US government" are collective singular nouns composite of separate minds and people. Furthermore, saying the son knows when the day of Judgment is contradictory the Bible, which says ONLY the the father knows, which means the holy spirit does'nt know and the son does not know.

          • Jim the Scott

            Again the Incarnate Christ has two natures. Two wills a human and divine and two intellects (or minds if you prefer) in one incarnate divine person.

            You keep changing the definition to "other then the Catholic doctrine" to your "Michael doctrines" and that is a non-starter and a straw man.

            The Trinity is the one divine nature and divine will and divine intellect three times focused. You keep making fallacies of equivocation.

            Dude you can still disbelieve in God and except on this one issue you are wrong? I came to believe young earth creationism was wrong. You can do it.

          • michael

            As a Catholic I spent maybe the first 22 years of my life believing in YEC, and maybe two years after that not believing it, while still being Catholic.

          • Jim the Scott

            I am 50 & I abandoned YEC at 23 which I first started believing at 18.

          • michael

            One person can have to conflicting desires or "wills", but not two intellects or two sets of knowledge that he remembers. Two intellects and tow sets of knowledge divided into two people, regardless of if they be human, or god, material or immaterial, because person and mind are singular nouns and not collective singular nouns like "team".

          • Jim the Scott

            A human person maybe but how do I know an Incarnate Subsisting divine relation cannot? A dog can't have 8 legs and spin a web but maybe you could do some criminal genetic engineering but if you did the product would no longer be a dog but a dog/spider hybrid.
            Christ is an Incarnate God Man.

          • michael

            Of course you can still not believe in a god and hold to the paradox you insist upon, but that doesn't change that that it that violates the distinction between singular and plural.

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't have too hold it I simply recognize as it is formulated it is immune from charges of it being formally or logically contradictory. That is why 1 to the 3rd power equalling 1x1x1 isn't a contradiction even thought it is singularity one number and three exponent calculations. Plural and singular do not violate the Trinity. You argument is still invalid and cannot be made valid. Abandon it. It is not hard.

          • michael

            There is only one sense of the word "know". Either you do know something, or don't know something, or you've forgotten it, or you've never known it. There are no other options.

          • Jim the Scott

            Who says there is only one sense of the word "know" and what binds me to it? It just seems like your personal dogma. I don't accept it and I wouldn't accept it even if I disbelieved in God.

            Experience tells me there are many ways of knowing and not knowing. Also if I had two minds One divine and unlimited and one human and limited then I could say via my human mind I don't know things.
            Christ's human intellect by definition cannot know all only his divine intellect can know all.

          • michael

            LOGIC says it. Logic and math also say "I" cannot have two minds. Only "We" or "They" can. For the same logical reason, a single person cannot have two intellects. Two people can, though.

          • Jim the Scott

            That is not logic. Why can't an incarnate divine person have two minds? Maybe a human person cannot but the incarnate Christ in his person is divine only or we are dealing with the Nestorian heresy.

          • michael

            Just adding "Well, it's divine" does'nt lead ot the conclusion "one divine person can have two minds". hat tis a non sequitur fallacy that does not change "mind" or "person" into collective singular nouns the way "team" is a collective singular noun. It is a 100% faith based non sequitur.

          • Jim the Scott

            Well in fact it does. "This creature has eight legs" becomes a contradiction when you add the word dog but it is coherent when you add the word spider.
            I have no reason to believe the three divine persons cannot operate the one divine intellect.
            This line of thinking doesn't work even if there are no gods. Abandon it. For your own sanity.

          • michael

            Not all "creatures" are "dogs" or "spiders". It would become a contradiction if you REPLACED "creature" with "dog". Nothing mysterious or faith-based about that. "This mind is three persons" IS self-contradictory since mind, by definition, cannot be divided into persons, only relationships with different aspects of the mind (such as one piece of information being though of and another piece being though of at the same time). Saying "But god's mind is different because of mysterious ways" is begging the question since your statement does not DEMONSTRATE the existence of such a god, much less explain HOW that works. If you understood how it works, it wouldn't be mysterious. So your reply doesn't convince me that it's logically coherent. To convince me it's coherent, it would have to be mathematically comprehensible in non-mysterious ways to me. There is nothing mysterious about a dog having four legs, because we UNDERSTAND HOW IT'S NUMERICALLY POSSIBLE.

          • Jim the Scott

            This steam of consciousness is all very interesting but it doesn't redefine the Trinity to mean "three divine intellects in one divine intellect" which is rationally absurd and NOT the doctrine as defined by the Church nor can the definition lead to this conclusion.

            To convince me it's coherent, it would have to be mathematically comprehensible in non-mysterious ways to me.

            I take it you deny the existence of Pi as well? The Math is simple God is one in one sense and three in a different sense. Simple math. If God was one and three in the same sense then that would be a contradiction.

          • michael

            I have always been raised with the understanding that the father & son ar two person who love each other and that love spirited between them is so great it's another person, the holy spirit. If The trinity are of one mind, it would be "loving himself" not one loving the other and vice versa. That's logic. And the comparison to one to the their d power doesn't hold because there's nothing mysterious about 1 to the third power. We can understand it.

          • Jim the Scott

            . I have always been raised with the understanding that the father & son ar two person who love each other and that love spirited between them is so great it's another person, the holy spirit.

            I recognize that as Frank Sheed's analogy and explanation he gives in His works like A MAP OF LIFE, THEOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS & THEOLOGY AND SANITY. One problem there I do remember Sheed saying explicitly the three persons "share the same divine mind, intellect and will three times focused".
            You can't throw that part out just to invent your own "Michael Doctrine".

            The divine persons can distinctly love one another because they are divine relations and more so they are real relations. You cannot have one real relation in the Godhead as it would have no opposite to relate too. You cannot have a Father who has no child etc. Natural Theology tells us God would love himself without postulating God is a Trinity (something that cannot be known by natural theology but by divine revelation only). God's love is not an emotion (God has no emotions. It's absurd) rather God's love is merely Him willing the good of other. If God contained no divine relations we would still conclude God wills His own good and thus loves himself. That there are mysterious real distinctions in the Godhead that are the same God but not each other who use the divine will to will the good for each other is unremarkable & completely coherent.
            Your problem Michael is I believe you have Seth MacFarland's literal view of God as a literal white haired magical wizard figure. Even works of art in the west that show God that way are not meant to be taken literally. You have an overly anthropomorphic view of God. My Saintly mother doesn't have one tenth my theological knowledge but even she knows God is not literally a human person only more uber. Your view is Theistic Personalism on crack and well Catholicism is a Classic Theistic religion. All you objections are simply non-starters. Go hit the books and come back a more sophisticated Atheist. There is no shame in not knowing. There is great shame in pretending to know when you don't. Don't fall into the later trap son. It's uncool. I am rooting for ya. Oh I am getting too old for this.......

          • michael

            No, I've always been taught god is NOT material, and thus not someone with a beard. I've also read that God has infinite happiness. Happiness is an emotion. Multiple minds can will the good of each other, and one mind can will its own good, and the good of other minds, but one mind cannot will the good of "each other" with in itself. three That contradicts the distinction between the singular noun "mind" and the plural "minds". It's like saying I can have more than one self.
            Therefore, this is where we disagree: That math has no "mysterious distinctions', math is just math. "That there are mysterious real distinctions in the Godhead that are the same God but not each other who use the divine will to will the good for each other is unremarkable & completely coherent.". Even if this is the actual Catholic view, it contradicts the distinction between singular "mind" and plural "minds". It's math, not me having poor theology.
            No matter how many books I hit, it will still obviously go against math and the distinction between the singular noun "mind' and the plural noun "minds". The sooner you admit this mathematical fact, and acknowledge you've been brainwashed from such a young age that you've been tricked into holding contradictory beliefs at the same time (A phenomenon known as cognitive dissonance), namely that one mind cannot both know and not know the same thing at the same time, and that one mind can only be one person, and that Multiple minds can will the good of each other, and one mind can will its own good, and the good of other minds, but one mind cannot will the good of "each other" with in itself, since one mind or person cannot have more than one self or collection of memories and experiences, then we will agree.

            I pity you, Imagine a grown adult taught from childhood "three cats can be one, one cat can be three!". You sound no better. I wonder if you have split personality disorder. I imagine such extreme cognitive dissonance, namely cognitive dissonance in math, could cause that.

          • Jim the Scott

            You responses are becoming very irrational. I am concerned.
            God's "happiness" is not literal it merely means God has infinite beatitude or blessedness or bliss which is stillness not an emotion. So when you read the Psalms and it speaks of God's "wings" do you really think that means God is a giant cosmic chicken? You claim you where taught God is not material yet you treat him as if he was? That is inconsistent. The Trinity doesn't have multiple minds but one divine mind shared by three mysterious real distinctions. Case closed. That is the doctrine taught by the Church in her councils, traditions and theology. You keep arguing assuming the "Michael Definition" & by definition that is a non-starter objection. You cannot argue using a straw man. It is not rational and if anything it only makes your own views look even more anti-intellectual.
            Why do you keep doing it Michael? Why do you think that will persuade? Would Richard Dawkins be impressed by a YEC who keeps confusing Darwin's more correct views on evolution with Lemarke's discredited views and makes arguments against Evolution assuming Lemarke (which Dawkins rejects)? No he would dismiss the fellow as a desperate fanatic. My sympathies in that case would be with Dawkins not the Young Earth Creationist (of course I am a Theistic Evolutionist).

            Even if this is the actual Catholic view, it contradicts the distinction between singular "mind" and plural "minds". It's math, not me having poor theology.

            It is the Catholic view. It is the view Brandon. Dr. B, Pope Francis, Aquinas, Feser and myself believe as Catholics. In order to gain any traction here you have to "prove" the "Michael doctrine" is the historical Catholic one. You would be laughed at even by Atheist academics if you made that claim.
            Sorry Michael but I am already a strong Atheist in regards to belief in the "Michael doctrine of the Trinity". That "god" doesn't exist. Second the Catholic cannot be incoherent since it denies the chief premise of the "Michael Doctrine" that God has more then one divine mind. Thus there cannot even under your scheme be a contradiction between singular and plural minds. It is really that simple.

            I pity you, Imagine a grown adult taught from childhood "three cats can be one, one cat can be three!".

            Except Aquinas and the Popes and all adult Catholic Theologians with an adult's knowledge of math and logic(& theology and philosophy) would say there is one Species of Felis catus of which there are a plural number of members and that by your own definition does not contradict math. Neither does there being only One Divine Essence(One God) in which subsits really (but mysteriously) distinct divine relations.
            For your objection to work I would have to be taught there are three divine essences and one divine essence at the same time and in the same sense. Sorry I was never taught that even by my worst religious teacher and I had quite a few of them.
            I don't understand you Michael? When I was young like you I believed in Young Earth Creationism but I grew out of it with education and thinking. I learned you don't have to be a YEC to be a Catholic Christian Theist. Why you think you need to be an Atheist and believe Straw man arguments are helpful is beyond me. I could with ease be an Atheist and I would still say all your objections to the Trinity without even one exception are invalid.
            I don't say it to be mean. I say it because those are the rational facts.

          • michael

            I have been taught "bliss" means "perfect happiness": https://www.dictionary.com/browse/bliss This is why the church teaches that some people in heaven will have a greater degree of bliss than others, while all of them have total immunity to suffering, aka impassability.

          • Jim the Scott

            That is true but God is Bliss Itself not a saved rational creature who experiences bliss.

          • michael

            I did not say anything contrary to that.

          • Jim the Scott

            Very well.

          • michael

            That's because species is a collective noun, just like "team" and "council". while "mind" and "person" are not collective nouns.

          • Jim the Scott

            Why can't "Godhead" be a collective noun then? Or the phrase "Divine essence"? You rules are your own and arbitrary. Anyway this is not grammar or math or physics and it does not vindicate your argumentative & logical fallacies.

          • michael

            I've asked myself that in the distant past and came to the understanding that god cannot be a collective singular noun unless A: "Zeus" or "Thor" can also be arbitrarily reassigned as a collective singular noun or B: if you are a Catholic or some types of Hindu. But since "Zeus" does not refer to more than one person, it is arbitrary and contrary to math and the distinction between singular and plural to arbitrarily redefine "god" in ANY religion, into a collective singular noun, unless you're religion with a very different, new definition of the word "god". One can easily say that Catholicism, does just that, but to believe that new definition would, in that circumstance, require being Catholic in the first place, since no other religion yet founded shares that collective singular noun definition of the word "god", except perhaps some forms of Hinduism, which say that everything and everyone somehow is God. I suppose an atheist could also arbitrarily choose to redefine "god' into a singular collective noun, but it would not demonstrate the existence of such a being without blind faith and a belief in magic. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. The less fantastic the claim, the easier it is to believe with less to back it up.

          • Jim the Scott

            Zeus is a Theistic Personalist "deity" who has a beginning and the potential to end like his Fathers Kronos and Uranus his Grandfather. Thus he is nothing like YHWH or Allah as conceived by Christian, Jewish or Muslim Classic Theists. Thus these objections are non-starters. If you could prove the universe was never created a Pantheist would yawn at you. In a like manner the Classic view of God is nothing like Zeus. None of the Greek philosopher as far as I know equated the unmoved mover with Zeus.

            came to the understanding that god cannot be a collective singular noun.

            God is not any type of noun. A noun is a word which is a symbol and sound used to refer to an abstract concept. It almost looks like you equate reality with grammar? While that is an interesting concept (& I suspect an absurd one) it is not one I presuppose. A noun can be used to describe a god concept but God is not the concept or the symbol used to describe it.

            That is the deep problem between us and thank you for putting it out there.

          • michael

            I am talking about personhood and number, not beginnings or potential to end, so that is changing the subject entirely.

          • Jim the Scott

            You are trying to put lipstick on this pig and it is still a pig. The doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the Catholic Church clearly contains no formal or logical contradictions. You have not made the positive case and you cannot. God could still not exist but this would still be true.

            Why may I ask you are you so attached to this invalid Grammar argument? It seems goofy? Words are symbols that represent concepts and realities. Not the realities themselves. A Rose by any other name etc......
            This is a strange view? Did you come up with it yourself or do other people believe it?

          • michael

            A team is a thing, even if not a noun, that is a group of separate persons in a collective with different minds. So the statement still holds.

          • Jim the Scott

            A team is not a noun but a Team is a thing? I was taught a noun is a person place or thing? So how can it be a thing and not a noun? You lost me.....
            Michael this dog won't hunt. The doctrine of the Trinity contains no formal or logical contradictions. That doesn't make it true or divine but it does make your arguments futile.

          • michael

            Continuously feeling the same emotion is consistent with stillness. Stilllness does not exclude an emotion. I already concede that your understanding of the trinity may be the correct one, and already explained why it is'nt logical. Stop acting as if I hav'ent already conceded that. It doe snot change the fact that Humanity, like "Felix catus" is a collective singular noun, like "team", so as I already explained, of course it is not a paradox to say a species is multiple persons. I concede the the "Michael version" may be wrong. You are NONETHELESS claiming that three persons can be of one mind, which is a logically contradictory paradox, regardless of belief in a deity or whether or not the persons are human or god, material or immaterial.

          • Jim the Scott

            It pretty much is not an emotion since all the ancient mystics especially in the Christian east seek a state called "dispassion". So stillness is just a form of dispassion which goes beyond mere emotion and human feeling. Your personal view contradicts the historic mystical tradition of the Faith.

            You are NONETHELESS claiming that three persons can be of one mind, which is a logically contradictory paradox, regardless of belief in a deity or whether or not the persons are human or god, material or immaterial.

            I am saying three subsisting divine persons can have the same divine intellect. Your objection would make more sense if I was saying three human persons could have the same mind. The later is a clear formal contradiction the former by definition is not.
            You have to learn fallacies of equivocation are not arguments or rebuttals.

          • michael

            Furthermore, we actually UNDERSTAND how collective singular nouns work, they aren't "mysterious". So they don't contradict math.

          • Jim the Scott

            I understand how the Catholic doctrine of the Mystery of the Trinity works and conclude there is no contradiction. So the Trinity doesn't contradict math either.

          • michael

            In fact, historians agree THE Trinity doctrine was never officially taught until the 4th century Ad. And there wasn't a Pope until the 5th century.

          • Jim the Scott

            The formal definition we used today came during the fourth century but the seeds of the doctrine existed in the writings of the early Fathers & was generally taught in primitive form before the fourth century as Dr. Carroll points out. Again you need to read about the development in doctrine. No Catholic even the most conservative like Carroll or Traditionalist like Garrigou-Lagrange thinks the Apostles used the literal language we find in the Nicaea and Constantinople creeds hundreds of years before those councils.
            Anyway trying to change the subject from your misunderstandings on the Trinity to misunderstanding the Development of Doctrine is just you implicitly admitting defeat. Every Catholic here confesses the Nicaea/Constantinople definition of the Trinity and we reject your self serving re-definition and you still argue a straw man defending it and you are still arguing a non-starter.

          • michael
          • Jim the Scott

            I don't get it? How does the an academic dispute between the accuracy of the New vs the Old version of the Catholic Encyclopedia brought up by the late Dr. Carroll vindicate your implicit claim the ancients endorsed the "Michael Definition" of the Trinity or taught the Godhead had three intellects?
            Even taking the claims of the New Catholic Encyclopedia a face value where are your specific claims vindicated? This is like pointing to Stephen Gould's and Richard Dawkins' major disagreement on punctuated equilibrium as "proof" Darwin must have been wrong? You arguments are becoming more absurd.

            Additionally taking the claims of the New Encyclopedia at face value that only proves the need for the authority of the Church (Matt 16:18 & 1 Tim 3:15).

          • Jim the Scott

            anyway here is the old Catholic Encyclopedia article Dr. Carroll recomended. It is clearly better from an academic standpoint. New isn't always better.
            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm

          • michael

            ALlI meant was that the New version of the encyclopedia had an error, according to EWTn Even if your view of The Trinity is correct,t I've already thoroughly explained why it is mathematically impossible and contradicts the distinction between singular and plural of hte words "person" and "mind".

          • Jim the Scott

            I don't care if it had error or not. Catholics have academic disagreements that is no mystery (unlike the Trinity). I used to be a Molinist on Divine Sovereignty & Free Will but I have moved to a more Traditional Thomist view.
            There is no Catholic Dogma that says I must be one or another. I have the liberty to choose for myself in areas of Faith and morals the Church has not ruled definitively on.
            I read the New Catholic Encyclopedia and nowhere does it ever claim the early Church pre Nicaea taught God had three minds or intellects. At best it claims there was uncertainty on the precise definitions so the Church protected by the Holy Spirit steps in to clarify as she has done for 2000 and will till judgement day.
            I already explained why "the distinction between singular and plural of hte words "person" and "mind" is invalid. The Three Persons don't have three distinct intellects but the one divine intellect in the divine essence. No matter how many times you repeat your straw man that is not how any Catholics here understands the Trinity.

          • michael

            Why I'm here? I gave Vincent Herzog a good list of motives for why I am here.

          • Jim the Scott

            Who is Vincent Herzog? Never heard of him. Anyway you are still arguing against your own made up doctrine of the Trinity. Not the historic Christian one believed by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and most Protestants. Why you think that is a good idea even if there are no gods is a greater mystery here then the Trinity?

          • Michael Murray

            Photons are quantum fields. It's a concept not easily explained without university level mathematics. David Tong tried valiantly here

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

          • Are there one or multiple fields for photons? It was my understanding that photons are excitations in the field. In this case, you still have a one/many distinction.

    • Jim the Scott

      >There's something about footnote 9 that has a distinct taint of "special pleading."

      Nope, just a species of negative theology which is what the classic doctrine of the Trinity requires.

      > The concept of the Trinity is quizzical and ultimately incoherent on its own,

      Only to persons who insist against all definition it really means three gods in one god or three persons in one person.

      >but to say in addition that it is somehow compatible with a claim that "God cannot be a composite" merely compounds or multiplies the incoherence.

      The divine simplicity excludes all real physical and real metaphysical distinctions in God which by extension excludes composition. There is nothing in the doctrine to exclude mysterious real distinctions of subsisting divine relations being in the Godhead. Mysterious real distinctions which are by definition neither physical nor metaphysical.

      >Equivocation? Double-think? Word salad? I'm at a loss to pick the most appropriate label.

      Profound ignorance would be that label. If I lost my faith tomorrow I would still understand the claims of the doctrine and I would still accuse you of ignorance.

      • Otto Tellick

        Ouch! There's nothing left for me to say, except that when it comes to trying to understand Trinitarian doctrine, ignorance is substantively more than just bliss; maybe what I'm feeling now is something like "salvation" -- I can't imagine what it's like to want to understand something like "mysterious real distinctions of subsisting divine relations ... in the Godhead ... are by definition neither physical nor metaphysical." Do you prefer ranch, vinaigrette or thousand-island with that?

        • Dennis Bonnette

          Just a point of clarification. I was careful in my definition of divine simplicity. I defined it as meaning that in God there are no real distinctions between principles, parts, or things. I deliberately did not include real distinctions of internal relations in that definition. The relations that are found in God are identical with the divine substance and in no way contradict God's simplicity.

          The Synod of Rheims (1148) solemnly declared "that there are no realities in God, whether they be called relations or proprieties or singularities or unities or other such, which exist from eternity, and which are not identical with God." (Denzinger 391)

          The concept of distinctions of relations is not that difficult to understand, provided one grasps that we are talking here about non-material entities, not physical substances. In the human intellect, which is a spiritual faculty, there is a real distinction between the knower and the known, even in the act of self-reflection -- since there is still a distinction between the knower as knowing and the knower as being known.

          This in no way lessens the mystery of the Trinity, since the mystery is constituted of the fact that the distinction of such relations entails terms which are distinct Persons, unlike the case of the human intellect in which there is but a single person.

          • Otto Tellick

            Thank you for this thoughtful reply. Of course, it doesn't change my opinion of the Trinity. First, confirming that "we are talking here about non-material entities" (willful ones in particular) means to me that, with this premise as a starting point, anything goes and any claim is equally as likely to be true as any alternate or contrary claim, because we're beyond the realm of falsifiability. Second, to call the Trinity a "mystery" strikes me as a peculiar kind of understatement, given that its definition depends crucially on equivocations among competing metaphors involving terms like "Person," "Father," "Son," "substance" and so on.

            As stated elsewhere in this comment thread, I'm admittedly uneducated about the prolific argumentation relating to this doctrine, and I'm quite content not to change that -- just as I'm content not to learn more about angels dancing on the heads of pins -- for reasons related to the points in my previous paragraph.

            Regarding your closing comment ("... distinct Persons, unlike the case of the human intellect in which there is but a single person"): I'm reminded of the recent animated movie "Inside Out," in which a child's internal thoughts are portrayed as an ensemble of distinct characters, each a person in his/her own right with independent traits. It struck me as a remarkably apt way of modeling the personality and behaviors of any given human; there may even be a physiological basis for this idea, in view of the several distinct morphological structures comprising the human brain. Obviously, none of this is pertinent to any story being made up about the properties of the "Creator of the Universe," except to the extent that any such story will necessarily reflect the ideas that people have about themselves.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I can well understand -- given the general philosophical position from which you are proceeding -- that there are a lot of more purely rational philosophical claims that you would have to be convinced to be true, before you would want to spend time probing the deepest mystery of Christian revelation. Some day I hope you will get to a position in which that interest will arise.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            just as I'm content not to learn more about angels dancing on the heads of pins

            I don't think Trinitarian doctrine is anywhere near as obscure as all that.

            I know I'm about to be foolish by oversimplifying, but at one level I think it really is as simple as what Dennis started to allude to: what "knowing" is can't be fully expressed without a trinary grammar involving knower, thing known, and act of knowing. Whether human intellects arise from some sort of Inside Out (great movie, BTW) confederacy of brain components is completely beside the point. This has to do with the irreducible structure of knowing. Or, to come at it from a slightly different angle, it has to do with the irreducible structure of love. Without subject, object, and verb, you don't have the fullness of love.

            You might also be interested in the way David Bentley Hart correlates Trinitarian doctrine with the Vedanta concept of Sat-cit-ananda . As he has pointed out a number of times, it also helps to realize that the modern English "persons" is a very limited translation of the Greek "hypostases", and the latter term has always been more evocative than it has been precise.

          • Otto Tellick

            Thanks for this interesting comment. It's curious that you start by saying it's not so very obscure (complicated), and then admit that you have to "be foolish by oversimplifying" to explain it.

            Speaking for myself, the essential argument structures of verbs can be a doorway into some very rich and intriguing discussions. (I've studied and worked with linguistics since 1975.) But any relation between the semantics/syntax of verbs and the Trinity is entirely a matter of metaphor -- I can perceive that it seems to be an apt one, but this in itself does nothing to motivate acceptance of the Trinity as a worthwhile component of one's world view. (Lots of things form groups of three...)

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Thanks Otto.

            It doesn't seem correct to characterize this as an argument by metaphor.

            In the philosophical articulation of the more-or-less discernible "center" of Western theistic tradition, God is a verb (He is actus purus). He is more specifically that most special of verbs "to be". So it seems to me that whatever we can articulate about "the structure of to be" is directly relevant, and not just in metaphorically evocative.

            Of course, maybe now I have created some tension with my whole "subject-object-verb" schema, since the verb "to be" is intransitive (except perhaps when Shakespeare penned "Woe is me"). Maybe with your linguistic background you can take pity on me and salvage my argument :-)

          • Otto Tellick

            The tension may be worse than you think, since the "official" (Latin-based) term for "be" is the copula (in general, verbs that function like "be" are copular verbs). Don't ask me why. (I'm hoping this paragraph doesn't trigger a censor-bot. Let's just leave it at that.)

            Well, of course there's all that business about "in the beginning was the Word..." and so on. But analogies (or bald assertions) that relate God to human language merely serve to highlight the purely human origins of religious beliefs. The fact that so many humans actually believe that they've received divine revelation (even just indirectly, because they've felt something while reading scripture), says far more about human cognition/self-perception than it says about the universe.

            BTW, some languages have absolutely no explicit form to express "be" -- this may seem confusing to those who didn't grow up speaking such a language, but once you get used to it, it turns out to work reasonably well. Could your conception of God have arisen in the form you've stated it among speakers of such a language? We may never know.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            Could your conception of God have arisen in the form you've stated it among speakers of such a language?

            This might be stating my case a bit too strongly, but I would say, "of course". It's not like the philosophical articulation came first. All the philosophy follows on the heels of some experience of (what we would call in English) "being in the world". Some experience of standing out in reality. Some experience that you don't need to be here, and yet here you are. And then, when you try to reflect on that and see what it's all about (whether through philosophical analysis, or artistic expression, or whatever), it seems to point you toward some core of reality that we sometimes refer to (imperfectly) in English as "to be". But one can of course use different expressions to point toward that same reality. You could call it the central "givingness" of reality, or, to use one of my favorite divine references, you could call in "the all-nourishing void". How you might best point in that direction in the languages that you are referring to that don't have an explicit verb "to be", I obviously don't know.

            And, "worst" case: if you need to reach for a word from another language in order to better articulate something, that's not the worst thing in the world. That's a big part of what makes cross-cultural exchange so enriching of our experience of reality.

          • Otto Tellick

            Thanks, Jim (hillclimber) -- that all strikes me as quite sensible, and spoken in a manner that accommodates pluralism: the use of "different expressions to point to that same reality" and "cross-cultural exchange" can be valuable assets. There can't be a monopoly on the creation and sanctioning of such expressions, and within the scope of human experience and shared knowledge, there can't be any "infallible" source.

          • Jim the Scott

            If I might do a brief driveby.

            >there can't be any "infallible" source.

            But you can't know that infallibly. If you did then it refutes itself and if you didn't the possibility of infallibility still remains.

            OTOH it all depends on what we mean by "infallibility" and in what sense?

          • Otto Tellick

            It takes only a single observation of a mistake by a given source to establish the fallibility of that source. For any given human source (someone sharing their knowledge with me by whatever means), if I have only a limited set of observations and haven't seen a mistake, what would you say is the better view for the future: (a) this source is infallible and all further information from it can be trusted, or (b) as I get more information from this source, it's likely there'll be a mistake at some point?

            A statement like "every human source is always mistaken" is self-refuting, but I didn't make that kind of statement. I just made a well-grounded induction that no one is going to be right all the time, though everyone's likely to be right sometimes (some more often than others).

          • Jim the Scott

            >It takes only a single observation of a mistake by a given source to establish the fallibility of that source.

            True.

            > For any given human source (someone sharing their knowledge with me by whatever means), if I have only a limited set of observations and haven't seen a mistake,

            The key phrase here is "human source".

            >what would you say is the better view for the future: (a) this source is infallible and all further information from it can be trusted, or (b) as I get more information from this source, it's likely there'll be a mistake at some point?

            Since humans by themselves are fallible that would make sense. But it begs the question too assume all sources are human or at least exclusively human. That there is no meta-sourced, above the human, or that humans might receive assistance from above is not excluded.

            >A statement like "every human source is always mistaken" is self-refuting, but I didn't make that kind of statement.

            You are correct. Well spoken.

            >I just made a well-grounded induction that no one is going to be right all the time, though everyone's likely to be right sometimes (some more often than others).

            Well with that clarification I agree.

            I would merely modify it as "there can't be any `infallible' exclusively human source."

            Cheers.

          • Otto Tellick

            "... assistance from above is not excluded." Aye, there's the rub! On shared human knowledge, I side with Thomas Paine (quoting from "The Age of Reason"):

            Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man... It is a contradiction in terms and ideas, to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second-hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication - after this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him.</blockquote

          • Jim the Scott

            Ah so Thomas Paine was a religious skeptic and Deist(with a Theistic Personalist deity....nuff said) who also latently believed in the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura?

            How quaint.

            Of course Catholics don't believe the revelation comes to man without Divine Providence preserving it intact(since God moves all things) and giving a Tradition and body with authority to preserve said revelation.

            If I ignore Tradition and public memory then I might as well say neither Obama nor Trump are the successors of Washington...

          • Otto Tellick

            You totally lost me there, Jim. First, your depiction of Paine seems quite off-the-mark to me (I'm pretty sure he had no belief in "Sola Scriptura", latent or otherwise), and in any case, this has no bearing on the bit I quoted ("Examine what is said, not who speaks"). Second, Catholic beliefs about revelation only work for those who bow to Catholic authority, as imposed by fallible humans and based on fallible, human-authored texts. Third, I have never proposed "ignoring tradition and public memory" (neither did Paine) -- just evaluating these against available evidence (including new evidence), and allowing that they are susceptible to error and amenable to improvement.

          • Jim the Scott

            >You totally lost me there, Jim. First, your depiction of Paine seems quite off-the-mark to me (I'm pretty sure he had no belief in "Sola Scriptura", latent or otherwise),

            Well he seems (at least to me) to make reference to divine revelation in the Protestant sense. Also let's be realistic. Non-believers do tend to line up their former religions as the standard for their non-belief. He did come from a Protestant and Quaker back round. So his ideas on revelation are likely Protestant and Quaker. That seems obvious but you are free to disagree.

            >and in any case, this has no bearing on the bit I quoted ("Examine what is said, not who speaks").

            It's my Catholic response to it. Nothing more.....

            >Second, Catholic beliefs about revelation only work for those who bow to Catholic authority,

            Rather I say it is practical also if there is a God and he intends to give revelation He might also will to protect it via his divine providence.

            > as imposed by fallible humans and based on fallible, human-authored texts.

            Well that begs the question. It assumes Atheist or Deism a priori. But that is what you believe naturally.

            >Third, I have never proposed "ignoring tradition and public memory" (neither did Paine) -- just evaluating these against available evidence (including new evidence), and allowing that they are susceptible to error and amenable to improvement.

            Let me clarify then. I would simply say as Catholic a divine revelation without an established authority and Tradition is subject to the criticism Paine mistakenly attributes to all revelation.

            Authority based religions with formal structures that proport to be providentially protected in some manner. Would make more sense. Granted that by itself doesn't automatically means Catholicism must be the one true authority structure but it eliminates IMHO the obvious erroneous opinions.

            Cheers.

          • A statement like "every human source is always mistaken" is self-refuting, but I didn't make that kind of statement. I just made a well-grounded induction that no one is going to be right all the time, though everyone's likely to be right sometimes (some more often than others).

            By this logic, the person saying "no one is going to be right all the time" is sometimes wrong. :-p

          • Otto Tellick

            No -- not that it is sometimes wrong, but rather that we may, someday, find an instance where it cannot be confirmed as right. Really, Luke, you should know better.

          • But … out of the heart the mouth speaks.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            I think it matters a lot how one conceives of "infallibility". Many people (including certain ardent Catholics as well as certain ardent critics of Catholicism) seem convinced that the infallibility of the Church stands or falls on the issue of whether the Church has some sort of compendium of irrefutably correct answers to important questions. I don't think that's quite the right way to think about it. It's not like life is a standardized test and we just need to look up all the right answers in the back of the book. It seems clear that the point of all dogma in the first place is to direct us toward ultimate communion, and if that is true then the relevant sense of "infallibility" is something along the lines of "steadfast reliability", as when we speak about a signpost that reliably points in the right direction.

          • Jim the Scott

            >willful ones

            Will is an attribute of the divine essence as such the Persons of the Trinity share that one will they don't each have a distinct will. Perhaps you get this idea from reading the late Dr. Walter Martin? We are not responsible for the modern errors of Protestant heretics.

            I'll chime in later with other corrections. I have work too do.

          • Otto Tellick

            My use of "willful ones" was actually vague (plural only because it's coreferential with "entities"), and not intended to assert distinct wills among the Persons of the Trinity -- I have no opinion about that, and I've never heard of Dr. Walter Martin. But thank you; your clarification on that point was helpful.

            Thanks also for making the point about not being "responsible for the modern errors of Protestant heretics." (Am I correct to deduce that "We" refers generally to all Roman Catholics?) I appreciate that sort of mention because it makes me smile -- when I argue with Protestants (or watch the arguments they have among themselves), it's not unusual for them to cite this or that issue in Roman Catholic dogma as "heretical."

            No need to rush with "other corrections" -- I have a day job too, and this stuff here is what I call "leisure time."

          • Jim the Scott

            >My use of "willful ones" was actually vague (plural only because it's coreferential with "entities"), and not intended to assert distinct wills among the Persons of the Trinity -- I have no opinion about that, and I've never heard of Dr. Walter Martin. But thank you; your clarification on that point was helpful.

            Glad I can help clarify that.

            >Thanks also for making the point about not being "responsible for the modern errors of Protestant heretics." (Am I correct to deduce that "We" refers generally to all Roman Catholics?)

            Yep. It's nothing personal to them. I often admire individual Protestants devotion and love for our Lord. But that don't mean I believe their doctrinal peculiarities are true.

            >I appreciate that sort of mention because it makes me smile -- when I argue with Protestants (or watch the arguments they have among themselves), it's not unusual for them to cite this or that issue in Roman Catholic dogma as "heretical."

            That is natural for them. Granted we have a Pope so we can settle our differences one way or another eventually. They are well...Popes unto themselves.

            >No need to rush with "other corrections" -- I have a day job too, and this stuff here is what I call "leisure time."

            No worries. I have a 15 minute attention span myself and am often easily distracted...hey wait....oooh....shiny.....wait what was I saying? ;-)

            Cheers.

        • Jim the Scott

          >Ouch! There's nothing left for me to say, except that when it comes to trying to understand Trinitarian doctrine, ignorance is substantively more than just bliss;

          No it is just intellectual laziness. I've read Frank Sheed, Garrigou-Lagrange and Feser on the Trinity. It's not hard.

          >maybe what I'm feeling now is something like "salvation" -- I can't imagine what it's like to want to understand something like "mysterious real distinctions of subsisting divine relations ... in the Godhead ... are by definition neither physical nor metaphysical."

          If it is your desire to not to want to understand that is fine it's just any criticism you venture over the concept looks pathologically silly. Like the Young Earth Creationist who mocks evolution by ranting about how he has never seen a monkey give birth to a man.

          If you want to offer critique from a positions of ignorance that is fine but it makes you look ridiculous. But if that is what you want. Knock yourself out.

          >Do you prefer ranch, vinaigrette or thousand-island with that?

          BBQ sauce!

          • Otto Tellick

            If it is your desire to not to want to understand that is fine it's just any criticism you venture over the concept looks pathologically silly.

            I see your point, and I thank you for responding in good humor. Peace.

          • Jim the Scott

            And also with you. ;-)

    • Stephen Edwards

      The Trinity does not divide God into separate substances (as in things separated by space and time). God is simple because He is 1 substance that has no spatial or temporal division. Now perhaps there is more to it than just this, but I do not see a contradiction in that explanation.

    • SpokenMind

      Hi Otto,

      What are your thoughts on a "higher power" of any kind?

      • Otto Tellick

        (Thanks for asking.) I'm agnostic about that. It seems to me a safe bet that there's plenty of stuff about natural reality that no human has ever conceived of -- for instance, stuff that scientists currently have to shrug off as "random variation" is potentially rich ground for finding subtle patterns of correlation and causation. It's even possible that we may stumble onto some naturalistic, empirically valid support for this or that "currently supernatural" idea that some human has conceived of.

        But as things stand now, I regard it as immensely premature (putting it mildly) to draw any sort of conclusion akin to "there must be a (singular) higher power and its attributes / concerns / intentions are..." -- I think this sort of inclination ends up conflating mythology with fact.

        • SpokenMind

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter. I would agree with you that certain things that are currently mysteries - which some might attribute to God doing it - will be proven to have a scientific explanation. That being said, in my opinion, there are two things that I think will forever remain a mystery to science – the origin of living organisms and the origin of the universe.

          I find it truly remarkable, almost inconceivable, the vast array of organisms that exist - especially the exquisite and intricate human being. What are the odds that we turned out as remarkable well as we have? It has to be bordering on one in infinity. Normally items within the universe degrade over time, yet here we are. Same thing with the universe itself. It had to be so finely tuned to make it. If any one of several cosmological constants were off by just a hair, this universe isn’t here. Again, the chances are about a one in infinity. Do you believe in luck?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            While those whose epistemic worldview remains constricted by the blinders of scientism will likely not grasp its probative force, I have elsewhere published an article proving: "The Philosophical Impossibility of Darwinian Naturalistic Evolution." http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/philosophy_darwinian_evolution.pdf

          • Otto Tellick

            As I mentioned in my latest reply above to SpokenMind, there are some things about origin of life and evolution that I think need to be cleared up. But first, about this part:

            "... those whose epistemic worldview remains constricted by the blinders of scientism..."

            Sir, if we are going to broach the topic of epistemology, I am compelled to call out the absolute epistemic bankruptcy of religious beliefs, including Christian beliefs.

            What you call the "blinders of scientism" are in fact the microscopes, telescopes and wide-angle lenses that have, in just a few centuries, expanded our knowledge exponentially -- which literally means by orders of magnitude -- beyond what the numerous Abrahamic worldviews had achieved over the previous few millennia.

            And it's not just a matter of quantity, but also of quality. What predictive value derives from a "theory" that illness is caused by demons? Compare that to germ theory, derived through "scientism" in defiance of the prevailing religious view.

            BTW, please don't bother with the canard that germ theory (etc.) was developed because those people were Christians -- in effect, all Europeans who had the means to explore reality were Christians. (There were a number of Jews too, but they either lacked the means, or else were prudently keeping a low profile.) A rare few were granted the freedom to break out of the cocoon of accepted belief; they chose to do so because they were genuinely curious about problems that religion could not and would not solve, and they were able to do so because European culture, glutted with the fat of the "colonized" (imperially usurped) world, could afford to support them while they pursued their own interests.

            To say that religion has some sort of epistemic "advantage" over science is tantamount to saying that mythology and mysticism can be treated as fact. It's the sort of mindset that would pridefully march us all into a new dark age, where the Earth is assumed to be some flat, stationary thing at the center of all creation, and people assert groundless authority or cower in groundless fear because of the supposed "agency" of imaginary beings.

            I honestly don't mean to be disrespectful or impolite, but I want it to be clear that the phrase I quoted above falls into a category of insults against truth, and I take it as an affront that cannot be left unanswered.

            As for the origin and evolution of life on Earth, I can be brief: I'll finish reading your linked article, but just in the 2nd paragraph there is one serious error of fact, and a repetition of the kind of insult against truth that I covered above. The error is the phrase "evolution’s unscientific unfalsifiability." Evolutionary theory makes specific, testable predictions, which can be confirmed or refuted through direct observations of reality. Based on such observations, which have been made in remarkable quantity, those predictions are confirmed. There are still unknowns, but the theory is opening our eyes to, and being sustained by, an ever-broadening span of evidence.

            You are entitled to maintain and espouse your chosen opinions and beliefs, but given what they are, I take it as a matter of serious importance to expose them as counter-factual. You are accusing science of having "blinders" while you yourself are keeping your own eyes firmly shut.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Unfortunately, because you appear to have confused the philosophical position known as scientism with natural science itself, you expend much indignant grandiloquence tilting at imaginary windmills in your comment.

            Thus, you address me as if I were some sort of Pre-Diluvian young earth creationist, when in fact I am just as enthusiastic about the advances of modern science as you are. I have, in fact, some background in chemistry myself.

            My reference was to "scientism," not "science," as you appear to erroneously assume.

            "In philosophy of science, the term "scientism" frequently implies a critique of the more extreme expressions of logical positivism." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism

            My statement was rather modest in light of this distinction. I was merely pointing out that the positivistic mentality would inhibit some readers from understanding the very philosophical content of my article that I was citing.

            As to your objection to my reference to "evolution's unscientific unfalsifiability," you would do well to read beyond the second paragraph of my works before objecting to their content.

            Had you merely examined the title of my article or the third paragraph of it, you would have seen that I am talking about "Darwinian naturalistic evolution," whose philosophical presuppositions are indeed "scientifically unfalsifiable" for the simple reason that they are philosophical in nature.

            Restricting causality to efficient and material causation, as Darwinism does, fails to include the legitimate causal categories of the formal and final cause -- and it is self-evident that there is no way that natural science, as such, touches any part of these topics.

            Even so, the end of my article's second paragraph would put my statement into rather respectable company even as more broadly read: "Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI has aptly
            pointed out that there is no way to prove or disprove experimentally that evolution actually occurred over immense past ages."

            The fact is that there are several types of positions taken about evolution, so that speaking of it in a purely monolithic sense is misleading. Some forms are strictly Darwinian, others are Neo-Darwinian, or progressive, or, generally, theistic. If you read my entire book on the Origin of the Human Species, you might better grasp the enormous complexity of the this theory which you so simply defend. In fact, if I had to place myself in one of these broader categories, I would probably describe myself as a theistic evolutionist.

            This does not mean that all questions about evolution theory are amenable to scientific verification. The whole point of my cited philosophical article was to show that careful philosophical analysis -- totally invisible to the methods of natural science -- reveals that certain steps in the evolutionary schema (including the origin of life itself, transitions to higher philosophical natural species, and the origin of the human spiritual soul) require the direct causal intervention of God.

            And, you can see, I correctly predicted that "those whose epistemic worldview remains constricted by the blinders of scientism will likely not grasp its probative force."

          • the philosophical position known as scientism

            Known as such . . . to whom? I am aware of no philosophical position whose advocates (at least nowadays) say, "And we call this position scientism." So far as I have been able to determine, "scientism" is a pejorative label attached to any scientific argument that reaches any conclusion that the labeler disagrees with but cannot rebut using any science-based counterargument.

            I discuss this at greater length in an article on my website (http://dougshaver.net/philosophy/science/six_signs_of_scientism.html). The article concludes:

            It seems to me, then, that the accusation of scientism is practically always misdirected when it isn't simply a smokescreen. For any question we seek to answer, empirical facts are either relevant or not. If they are relevant, then scientific inquiry is appropriate. Of course it must be properly conducted, but there is no important dispute about how to properly conduct a scientific inquiry. Whereever empirical facts are not relevant, there science should butt out, but in those cases nobody is trying to drag it in anyhow.

          • Jim the Scott

            > "scientism" is a pejorative label attached to any scientific argument that reaches any conclusion that the labeler disagrees with but cannot rebut using any science-based counterargument.

            No scientism is a philosophical position that the only meaningful knowledge is scientific or it's the self defeating tendency to try to answer purely philosophical or metaphysical questions scientifically(like the existence of God via Classic Theism, or Realism vs Unrealism, Eternalism, etc).

            One of it's many flaws is by it's own standards it cannot be verified scientifically. You cannot prove scientism by science. So it refute itself. In my experience when confronted with this truth those who profess this self defeating view will attempt to make a rational argument for it (as opposed to a scientific verification which is impossible) & the problem is even if they could suceed they fail. Since the rational philosophical justification for scientism would be at least one bit of meaningful knowledge that is not scientific.

            The complaint "Scientism" is an attack on science in my experience (& don't take this personally I think your a good guy Doug) is a Red Herring often employed by philosophically illiterate partitioners of Scientism. A more fruitful end would for said skeptical persons to learn philosophy and meet Classic Theism and or philosophical Theism on that ground rather then waste everyone's time with non-starter objections and red herrings and category mistakes.

            Cheers man.

          • Jim the Scott

            PS

            >For any question we seek to answer, empirical facts are either relevant or not.

            First do we mean "empirical facts" as relevant to a specific situation or are we making the ambitious self defeating claim that only empirical facts are relevant in knowing truth?

            > If they are relevant, then scientific inquiry is appropriate.

            I agree but in terms of Classic Theism they are not. In terms of the Act/potency distinction they are not. In terms of realism vs unrealism they are not.

            >Of course it must be properly conducted, but there is no important dispute about how to properly conduct a scientific inquiry.

            Except ironically you need the philosophy of science to try to explore what is a scientific question and what is not one.

            >Whereever empirical facts are not relevant, there science should butt out, but in those cases nobody is trying to drag it in anyhow.

            Nobody? I can think of a host of people who do drag it in.

            For example T.......Jerry Coyne....Rosenberg....Scientism is still popular in many Atheist/Skeptic circles as the Rapture is in Evangelical ones.

            Tis an empirical fact. ;-)

          • For any question we seek to answer, empirical facts are either relevant or not.

            First do we mean "empirical facts" as relevant to a specific situation

            Assuming that the question applies to some situation, I mean facts relevant to that situation.

            or are we making the ambitious self defeating claim that only empirical facts are relevant in knowing truth?

            I addressed that issue in the essay.

            If they are relevant, then scientific inquiry is appropriate.

            I agree but in terms of Classic Theism they are not.

            OK. Facts are irrelevant to your theism. So be it. I'm not claiming that any facts prove your theism is wrong. My only claim is that I have no good reason to believe it is true, because I am aware of no facts that are inconsistent with its being untrue. In my epistemology, absence of reason to believe is sufficient reason to not believe.

            you need the philosophy of science to try to explore what is a scientific question and what is not one.

            I don't think the history of science supports that claim.

            Whereever empirical facts are not relevant, there science should butt out, but in those cases nobody is trying to drag it in anyhow.

            Nobody? I can think of a host of people who do drag it in.

            For example T.......Jerry Coyne....Rosenberg

            Got some quotations or links?

          • Otto Tellick

            So, is it fair to rephrase your position as something like this?

            "Science" relies on methodological naturalism (MN), and accommodates belief in God.

            "Scientism" relies on MN, and does not accommodate belief in God.

            If that is roughly correct, the problem I see there is that MN itself must, in any and every case, be neutral with respect to the existence of God -- otherwise it simply fails to work properly. If it were to use or depend on the existence of God for any step in its reasoning and practice, its reliability would degrade to the level of just guessing or "making stuff up"; any predictive success it achieved would be coincidental, yielding significantly less value than proper, theistically neutral MN.

            Now, if practitioners of "theistic science" were to admit that their own conceptions of God are incomplete and potentially incorrect, and were to further allow that the results of inquiry, acquired through proper use of MN, could refine and revise their conceptions of God, this strikes me as a sustainable position, and I have no objection. But the positive claim that (some) God must exist still lacks the necessary confirmation, and the more one assigns particular attributes to such an entity, the farther one strays from any ability to establish confirmation.

            BTW, I'm simply using "God" in the above as a placeholder; I don't see any stable or well-motivated basis for asserting any particular definition of that term, because every definition on offer so far stems purely from imagination, or from ill-founded assertions of authority for the foundational scriptures of this or that religious tradition. (Perhaps you'll chalk all this up to my own personal set of "blinders" -- suit yourself.)

          • Jim the Scott

            >"Scientism" relies on MN, and does not accommodate belief in God.

            Let me simplify this for you before Doc B comes in and gives us some of his professional PhD knowledge. To put it in simple terms the existence of God and the knowledge we can have about Divinity by reason alone is a philosophical question not a scientific one.

            Trying to prove God scientifically (at least from the perspective of Classic Theism) is like trying to prove natural selection is true using a particle accelerator. Or trying to observe the Andromeda Galaxy using a microscope.

            It's a category mistake. If you wish to engage Classic Theism you must learn philosophy. The use of philosophy in all rational investigation is what is needed and the only question then is wither you do it properly or do it badly.

            Cheers.

          • Trying to prove God scientifically (at least from the perspective of Classic Theism) is like trying to prove natural selection is true using a particle accelerator. Or trying to observe the Andromeda Galaxy using a microscope.

            Sure, but you also can't prove god using claims about the universe that are not scientific and incompatible with it, like presupposing presentism is true to derive the 'First Way.' That's what we call begging the question, among other things.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            "Now, if practitioners of "theistic science" were to admit that their own conceptions of God are incomplete and potentially incorrect, and were to further allow that the results of inquiry, acquired through proper use of MN, could refine and revise their conceptions of God, this strikes me as a sustainable position, and I have no objection."

            The very fact that you think that natural science can "refine and revise" one's conception of God reveals the extent to which you do not see the essential difference between natural science and philosophical science.

            And, if you really think that natural science can condition and correct the findings of philosophical science, you are merely affirming that your perspective is not that of natural science, but of the philosophical position of scientism -- a scientism that appears so ingrained into your thinking that you honestly do not even perceive its presence.

          • Otto Tellick

            I'll admit, it's actually not clear to me what "philosophical science" refers to. I can (roughly) parse "philosophy of science," which I would understand as (roughly) a combination of skepticism and methodological naturalism (and Occam's razor, and so on). But I can't parse "science of philosophy" (at least, not in the same way I parse "science of physics, biology, etc."). That is, "physical/natural science" is meaningful to me, but "philosophical science" isn't. Also, it's not clear to me that this creates any particular problem, relative to points I've been trying to express.

            (I suppose that theists like yourself will see the above paragraph as demonstrating the "Dunning-Kruger Effect", while atheists like myself will see it as "not drinking the Kool-Aid.")

            I'll also admit that my point about "refine and revise ... conceptions of God" may have been poorly expressed and/or not well thought out. A superficial example of what I had in mind would be: one accepts (at an early age) a religious belief that Christ rose physically from death and ascended physically into heaven; from this, one forms a mental image of the physical location and properties of heaven, and Christ's presence there; then, on studying astrophysics, one revisits that belief, and forms a more metaphorical interpretation, since the original, more literal interpretation is no longer tenable.

            Obviously, because your expertise in theology far exceeds mine, I should accept your corrections to my way of viewing theological issues. But you still can't convince me that Christ was resurrected, ascended somehow to somewhere, and still exists as an active entity responsive to humans today, because you really, honestly do not have reliable evidence to back that up. Please, just try to refrain from casting insults on my ability to understand reality -- that's quite unjustified.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Let me assure you that I am not a theologian and my primary interest on this site is not with dealing with Christian doctrines such as the Resurrection.

            Perhaps I can mediate our differences a bit by looking at the term, "scientism."

            It is a somewhat pejorative term as used by classical philosophers in describing the methodology of naturalism. I am not trying to be too precise here, but simply pointing out that one's perspective makes all the difference.

            If one is convinced, as you appear to be, that most of our valid knowledge comes from natural science, then you do not need the term, "scientism," since your worldview would say that there is no fallacy in reducing all knowledge in the direction of natural science -- for the simple reason is that that IS all that we really have with which to know the world.

            From the perspective of classical philosophy, though, "scientism" is a fallacy precisely because, for example, classical metaphysics claims that there are a lot of things we can know that are not known by natural science.

            The philosophical sciences refer to classical Aristotelian-type disciplines, such as philosophy of nature (philosophical physics), philosophical psychology, metaphysics, natural theology, ethics, and so forth. These are sciences which insist that we can know a lot of truths that exceed the grasp of natural science. And thus, any methodology that restricts all knowledge to the bounds of natural science would be viewed as logically in error. Thus, "scientism" is not well received by such classical philosophers.

            I do not intend to exhaust both of us trying to debate so broad an issue with you, but at least let me try to explain how the "philosophical sciences" remain grounded in empirical foundations, even though they do not use the experimental method.

            When astronomers noted certain orbital disturbances in the orbit of Neptune some time back, they rightly inferred that something was causing those disturbances. They even inferred that it must have been a fairly large object within the solar system. Later on, Pluto was discovered -- thus validating their inferences.

            But had Pluto remained undiscovered, the inferences would remain to this day as well grounded in observation, logic, and reason -- since they knew something had to be causing this phenomena.

            That is not unlike what, say, the philosophical science of metaphysics does when observing motion in the world and inferring the need for a cause of that motion. The careful inferential reasoning, based on that sensible data, is then used -- ultimately to lead to a conclusion about an unmoved first mover.

            You may disagree with the process of reasoning used, but it is analogous to what scientists do all the time, as in the case of Neptune's orbit. The point is that even if Pluto were never discovered, the process of reasoning inferring some proportional cause would still be valid.

            That is what philosophers do in the philosophical sciences. It does not require experimental verification to make such inferences. And the inferences are not mere "pie in the sky," but real logical rational inferences. That is also why not including such inferential sciences in the world of legitimate human knowledge is viewed by classical philosophers as a philosophical fallacy, which is what they call "scientism."

            I am sure we will still disagree about the broader questions here, but at least I hope this helps to illumine the basis for differences over such terms as "scientism" and "philosophical sciences."

          • Otto Tellick

            Thank you, Dr. Bonnette, that is indeed helpful. I think each of us may have misconstrued the other to some extent (and I apologize for jumping to conclusions about you). I'd like to just make a point about "how we will still disagree," by focusing on these two bits:

            1. "... even if Pluto were never discovered, the process of reasoning inferring some proportional cause would still be valid."

            2. "... careful inferential reasoning, based on ... sensible data ... lead[s] to a conclusion about an unmoved first mover."

            In 1, we have derived a reasonably clear set of properties (mass, distance from Neptune, relative speed) for the inferred cause; with these, we can consider how such a cause might be observed, before we observe it -- we can form predictions, which could be confirmed or refuted if/when we are able to make direct observations. Of course there is plenty of solid work done in science with things that have not been observed directly -- there's even a technique, called a "Hidden Markov Model," that specifically assumes there are underlying causes that cannot be observed directly. Ultimately, it's the reliability of the predictions that make a given inference meaningful.

            But what predictions derive from 2? How do conclusions regarding an "unmoved first mover" contribute to our active, effective understanding of reality? If we want to attribute particular qualities to this "first mover," how can these be substantiated? On what do we base a choice between one vs. another conception about the properties of this ... thing or entity or force or mystery or whatever sort of ontology you want to pin on it?

            Does the fact that I'm compelled to ask these questions mean that I must fall into the pejorative category of "scientism"?

            I know there are "intangibles" like love, etc., and there's an absolute limit on our ability to make accurate predictions. I accept these things as "facts of life" that don't require the continued involvement of an "unmoved first mover." If you think this is incoherent, well then, we're at an impasse.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Thank you for trying to clarify our differences. Now I hope to explain a bit more about the methodology used by each discipline.

            > Ultimately, it's the reliability of the predictions that make a given inference meaningful.

            I am not trying to criticize the methodology of natural science here. Astronomers are drilling down to deep levels of specificity in answering the questions about what is causing Neptune’s orbital disturbances.

            But I would say that the inference is meaningful even before Pluto was discovered, since they did know there had to be a cause for the anomalies in the orbit – and that that cause had to be adequate to explain the extent of those anomalies. Moreover, they knew something, however vague, as to what they were looking for. And it is proper to natural science to try to find the exact nature of the cause through experimental means.

            What I am getting at is that the natural scientist presupposes certain universal metaphysical principles, whether he averts to them or not. Specifically, the principles of non-contradiction, sufficient reason, causality, and a realistic epistemology are all presupposed – and used, while making the inferences about Neptune’s orbit and its explanation. He takes as self-evident that his observations are of the external world, of an far distant celestial object, that the object is really there and not not-there at the same time, that the orbit has a reason for what it is, and that since it is anomalous, there must be a reason or cause for its odd behavior.

            See my earlier article: https://strangenotions.com/are-metaphysical-first-principles-universally-true/

            >How do conclusions regarding an "unmoved first mover" contribute to our active, effective understanding of reality? If we want to attribute particular qualities to this "first mover," how can these be substantiated? On what do we base a choice between one vs. another conception about the properties of this ... thing or entity or force or mystery or whatever sort of ontology you want to pin on it?

            I do not think your observations are incoherent at all. But I am simply pointing out that the very principles of reason scientists used in looking for a cause of Neptune’s odd behavior are the ones used by philosophers to do things like proving God’s existence – only instead of drilling down to more specific and detailed physical phenomena, we move to more general inferences that lead to answers that are both certainly true, and yet, more challenging as to conceptual content.

            If you accept that natural science does employ the principles I mentioned above in order to look for a proportionate cause of Neptune’s behavior, then all you need do is realize that philosophers are employing these same principles very logically and carefully to discern what can be inferred about the implications of the data of the physical world, e.g., the reality of motion.

            Now, you may disagree that these principles are being employed correctly in this pursuit, or you may disagree about the proper conclusions of the arguments. But, the moment you allow that the human mind can reason about such matters without having to run back to test the results empirically at every moment, you have acknowledged the legitimacy of philosophical science -- not as opposed to natural science, but in addition to it.

            Remember that even the natural scientist employs these principles at the start of his investigation that leads to the discovery of Pluto. The only difference is that the philosophy works out in far greater detail the logical and conceptual implications inherent in the application of those principles.

            One need not always “check back” to the physical world by a physical experiment as long as the inferences are logically solid and remain based on acceptance of the reality of a physical starting point, such as the motion we find present in the physical world.

            Philosophy is simply a different way of proceeding with logic and reason starting with empirical observation. Natural science goes one way to specific, detailed experimentally verifiable conclusions; philosophy goes in a more general way to seek what reason can work out of empirical data, with careful logic and reasoning preventing the results from ever being purely imaginary.

            If philosophy arrives at a conclusion that logic dictates must transcend the physical world, that does not render it wrong as long as all the reasoning is correct – since we are working from principles whose validity is presupposed by science itself. So, if those principles are rejected, so must be natural science as well.

            I accept both natural science and philosophy as legitimate sciences.

          • Otto Tellick

            You quoted this bit from my previous comment, but you didn't address it:

            On what do we base a choice between one vs. another conception about the properties of ... [let's just say "the unmoved first mover"]?

            Suppose we compare three distinct "philosophical" views about this: one aligns with a rigidly monotheistic view (such as Judaism or Islam), another with a "dueling bi-theistic" view (such as Zoroastrianism or Taoism), and a third with the Christian trinity.

            Can you at least outline how to combine correct reasoning / logic and empirical observation to designate one of these as preferable over the other two? Can you make a case that this can be decided purely on the basis of reasoning, logic and observation, without appealing to (pleading) the authority of one vs. another foundational text?

            My point is that you can't. That's the difference between natural science and what you're calling "philosophical science" -- and that's why it's an unwarranted equivocation to apply the term "science" to the latter. I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing that Judaic, Islamic, Taoist, Zoroastrian and Christian ideas are all present in the world -- I suppose each may be said to have some interesting merit of its own, and can be thought-provoking. It's just not the same kind of knowledge relative to real science, and it's important to keep that in mind.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I hate to have to drag out the history of the term, “science,” but it has been so “bent” by modern thinking that it helps to recall what it originally meant.

            “Science” is from scientia (Latin) or episteme (Greek). It means certain or sure knowledge. Science is from the Latin word meaning “to know.” Going back to Plato, episteme is found in his Allegory of the Divided Line, describing the most certain kind of knowledge, which he opposed to doxa, which means “mere opinion.”

            Aristotle defined science, then, as meaning knowledge that one knows is true, knows why it is true, and knows why it cannot be otherwise. Such knowledge is attained through the scientific syllogism that deduces certain knowledge in the form of a conclusion validly inferred from prior premises that ultimately were grounded either in self-evident or immediately evident (through sense knowledge) premises.

            In a word, this notion of science more or less ruled the intellectual world until the time of Roger Bacon, who began the obsession with experimental science which totally dominates the modern mindset. But experimental science is only one conception of science, and, in fact, not one that offers absolute certitude – for reasons I explained in an earlier OP.

            See my paragraphs contrasting the universality and certitude found in natural science vs. Thomistic philosophy here: https://strangenotions.com/does-modern-physics-refute-thomistic-philosophy/

            As to the examples you give above, some appear to be purely philosophical, but the Christian Trinity is purely a matter of revealed truth, which was in no way proven by philosophical science – so I don’t know why it is included.

            The philosophical sciences of metaphysics and natural theology proceed from sense experience (such as, things in motion) and remain grounded in that sensory foundation all the way to proving God’s existence and rationally-knowable properties, which distinguish true science of God from false claims about him. The only way you will ever know if all this is true science would be to study every step and see for yourself whether its logic and principles are certain and valid.

            But I still insist that the initial first principles I listed in an earlier post are presupposed by every natural scientist. What philosophers do is simply to apply them rigorously in a process of reasoning that leads “upward” to more general causes, whereas the natural scientist follows the proper method of experimental science through observation, hypothesis, testing, and verification.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I hate to have to drag out the history of the term, “science,” but it has been so “bent” by modern thinking that it helps to recall what it originally meant.

            “Science” is from scientia (Latin) or episteme (Greek). It means certain or sure knowledge. Science is from the Latin word meaning “to know.” Going back to Plato, episteme is found in his Allegory of the Divided Line, describing the most certain kind of knowledge, which he opposed to doxa, which means “mere opinion.”

            Aristotle defined science, then, as meaning knowledge that one knows is true, knows why it is true, and knows why it cannot be otherwise. Such knowledge is attained through the scientific syllogism that deduces certain knowledge in the form of a conclusion validly inferred from prior premises that ultimately were grounded either in self-evident or immediately evident (through sense knowledge) premises.

            In a word, this notion of science largely ruled the intellectual world until the time of Roger Bacon, who began the obsession with experimental science which totally dominates the modern mindset. But experimental science is only one conception of science, and, in fact, not one that offers absolute certitude – for reasons I explained in an earlier OP.

            See the paragraphs comparing the inherent limitations of natural science to the universal certitudes of Thomistic metaphysics found in the following Strange Notions article: https://strangenotions.com/does-modern-physics-refute-thomistic-philosophy/

            As to the examples you give above, some appear to be purely philosophical, but the Christian Trinity is purely a matter of revealed truth, which was in no way proven by philosophical science – so I don’t know why it is included.

            The philosophical sciences of metaphysics and natural theology proceed from sense experience (such as, things in motion) and remain grounded in that sensory foundation all the way to proving God’s existence and rationally-knowable properties, which distinguish true science of God from false claims about him. The only way you will ever know if all this is true science would be to study every step and see for yourself whether its logic and principles are certain and valid.

            But I still insist that the initial first principles I listed in an earlier post are presupposed by every natural scientist. What philosophers do is simply to apply them rigorously in a process of reasoning that leads “upward” to more general causes, whereas the natural scientist follows the proper method of experimental science through observation, hypothesis, testing, and verification.

          • I hate to have to drag out the history of the term, “science,” but it has been so “bent” by modern thinking that it helps to recall what it originally meant.

            The meaning has evolved, as it does for many words in all natural languages. You may insist that when you use the word, your intended meaning is whatever the original meaning was, but that is an insistence you might want to reconsider if you intend to communicate effectively with your interlocutors.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            That is why we qualify the word "science" with "natural" or "experimental." Anyone familiar with the broad range of intellectual disciplines knows that, while many people think of experimental science when one says, "science," the term has broader usage even today. Certainly, anyone familiar with intellectual history knows better than to identify it exclusively with natural science.

            Indeed, the tendency to identify science with natural science may be found more prevalent among those who have a proclivity toward viewing natural science as the only legitimate knowledge. Dare I use the word, "scientism?"

            Here is but one online set of definitions found for this word:

            noun
            1.
            a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
            2.
            systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
            3.
            any of the branches of natural or physical science.

            http://www.dictionary.com/browse/science

            Notice that the first definition does not include experimentation, but rather applies to any study dealing with a body of facts systematically arranged .

            While we know that many people today think of science as strictly experimental science, well educated people know that this is not the only legitimate use of the word.

          • Here is but one online set of definitions found for this word:

            Whenever two or three are gathered to discuss science, the only definition that matters is the one they all accept on that occasion. If they don't agree on a common meaning, then they are not discussing the same subject.

          • Jim the Scott

            That goes both ways. Historically "scientism" is understood to refer to a philosophy that the only meaningful knowledge is verificationist scientific knowledge. You have redefined it as a pejorative for belief in the validity of scientific knowledge or science in general.

            Pretending we hate science because we find scientism to be self-refuting at worst or trivial at best doesn't help either guy.

            Just saying....

          • You have redefined it as a pejorative for belief in the validity of scientific knowledge or science in general.

            I have observed that, in many contexts (not saying in all contexts), it is actually used to mean just that. To make such an observation is not to redefine anything. Observed usage is what dictionary definitions are based on.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I have observed that, in many contexts (not saying in all contexts), it is actually used to mean just that.

            I would agree Young Earth Creationist types might abuse it that way & maybe Intelligent Design advocates but they basically back some form of Scientific Theism which as far as we Classic Theists are concerned is as wrong as Atheism.

            > To make such an observation is not to redefine anything. Observed usage is what dictionary definitions are based on.

            Dictionaries might note the different uses and equivocal meanings of the same word but in any technical discussion it is preferred to use the accepted technical definition on the actual subject matter under discussion.

          • but in any technical discussion it is preferred to use the accepted technical definition on the actual subject matter under discussion.

            It is preferred . . . by whom? In any discussion, technical or otherwise, the only definition that matters is the one being used by all participants in that discussion.

            In a technical field, there usually will be some technical definition that is accepted by everyone sufficiently familiar with that field to participate in an informed discussion. And in that sense, it will be the definition that is preferred by those people. But their preferences will be relevant only because they are the ones having the conversation.

          • Jim the Scott

            >It is preferred . . . by whom?

            Well if I am going to talk to a biologist about evolution why shouldn't he insist I used the correct definitions of natural selection or whatever? If we are discussing Thomism why would we not want to know their definition of causality. If the argument is Hume's understanding of causality vs Aquinas isn't it best to know both competing definitions and know the arguments for & polemics against each specific definition?

            >In any discussion, technical or otherwise, the only definition that matters is the one being used by all participants in that discussion.

            It good to find consensus but we will never explore arguments by pretending there are no differences. If you want to tell me under Hume's definition of causality (which only includes in nature efficient and material causes and excludes formal and final ones) then we can't say God for example truly has free will, is timeless & is immutable at the same time well I would technically agree with that BUT I reject Hume's definition of causality in the first place so it is a non-starter and to continue to address the issue as if I assume it begs the question. If we don't learn the differences and only talk about what we agree on then we won't get anywhere.

            I assume you have no problem with that.

            >In a technical field, there usually will be some technical definition that is accepted by everyone sufficiently familiar with that field to participate in an informed discussion.

            I agree.

            > And in that sense, it will be the definition that is preferred by those people. But their preferences will be relevant only because they are the ones having the conversation.

            Except if you wish to talk outside that field or address the claims it makes it is profitable to learn.

            I suspect we don't really disagree here? Your thoughts?

          • Jim the Scott

            OTOH

            >Whenever two or three are gathered to discuss science, the only definition that matters is the one they all accept on that occasion. If they don't agree on a common meaning, then they are not discussing the same subject.

            Sounds like the months long fruitless exchanges with have had with TT?

            Just saying,,,,,;-)

            But I will say for the record you are not that way Doug. Or at least we all try not to be.

            Cheers.

          • When it is noted, as it often is, that people in these forums are "talking past each other," unshared meanings of key terms are often the reason.

          • Jim the Scott

            I can't argue with that.

          • BCE

            Hi
            I've not commented for some time but have been reading opinions.
            I noticed your absence.
            Hope you are well.

          • "... those whose epistemic worldview remains constricted by the blinders of scientism..."

            If I had a dollar for every time Dennis asserted such a claim I'd be almost as rich as the Catholic Church!

          • Otto Tellick

            I tend to agree with you on one of your two things: I have a hard time imagining how we can ever even form coherent sentences describing "the origin of the universe," because it seems to entail using the temporal concept of "before" to speak of something that presumably falls outside the scope of temporal reference as we know it (i.e. there is a point before which time is undefinable -- and just that phrase by itself feels oxymoronic). Still, it's no coincidence that the primary language of physics is mathematics, rather than English, German, etc., and it would be premature to deny the possibility that coherent claims on this topic may someday come to light among our descendants (pending our survival as a species and our success at not losing what we've learned so far).

            I'll follow up later on Dr. Bonnette's reply below about the other thing.

          • SpokenMind

            Thanks for taking the time to put your ideas out there in a public forum.

            If I understand your perspective – and please correct me if I am in error – your opinion is, it is possible that one day there will be a purely natural explanation of the origin of the universe.

            Unless there is a U-turn in the science that proves there is an eternal substance in the universe, it seems most likely that the universe had a beginning and before that not a thing. So I don’t see how a natural explanation would work.

            I did read your comment to Dr. B, but it’s not clear to me your opinion on the origin of living organisms. My understanding is, science cannot explain how the first single-celled organism arranged itself (complete with DNA and organelles) from the raw materials of the universe. In your opinion, is it possible that one day there will be a natural explanation for this? Is it possible that a “creative supernatural force” acted upon matter? Do you have a leaning one way or the other?

          • Michael Murray

            My understanding is, science cannot explain how the first single-celled organism arranged itself (complete with DNA and organelles) from the raw materials of the universe.

            I don't think anyone believes there was some kind of jump from basic elements (assuming that is what you mean by raw materials) to a functioning single-celled organism. My limited understanding is that people who work in this field believe there are many intermediate steps for example some form of RNA based life:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

  • Some questions on divine simplicity.

    Was Jesus the same as the divinely simple god described above, or was this just a body that God influenced or inhabited.

    When the body of Jesus died did god die? Did this divinely simple god bleed? If he did what was the status of the blood was that not a part of Jesus?

    When Jesus was dead was part of god dead? Or was the body never actually god .If not then how can you say Jesus really was god? If doesn't this mean god had parts?

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Do you have any concept as to how many pages of speculative theology you are requesting in a few short questions?

      I am not a theologian, but here are some clues to how I would begin to address your questions.

      First, one must explain the nature of Christ in relation to the Trinity -- an understanding that took the early Church hundreds of years to grasp -- largely by the time of the Nicene Creed, but with important aspects being defined in the many centuries since that time.

      Second, if you grossly misstate the dogma, you will draw absurd inferences.

      The dogma regarding the Trinity is essentially that God is revealed to be three Persons in a single divine substance whose essence all three share in the same substantial act of existence. Christ is true God and true man, with God elevating a singular human nature to substantial union with the Second Person. This does not mean God "inhabited" the human nature of Christ, but that the human nature of Christ had as its person, the Second Person.

      It is Christ's Person that is divine, NOT his human nature.

      As true man, Christ's human nature was composed of soul and body, and, as such, was subject to corruption and death. Since the Person of Christ was the Second Person of the Trinity, when Christ died on the Cross, that human nature belonging to said Second Person suffered real death for our sins.

      Christ bled, of course, in his human nature, not in his divine nature. One Person, two natures: one divine nature, one human nature.

      Talking about the "body" as if it were a separate thing from Christ himself is highly misleading. When you are talking about a living substance, the body is not a separate thing from the soul. That is a Cartesian error. Christ died in his human nature. He could never die in his divine nature.

      The key point to grasp is that the Church has never taught that Christ's human nature was God or divine. But the Person to which that nature belongs is the same Person as the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.

      The divine simplicity is in no manner compromised by the hypostatic union in which God raised up a singular human nature to be given the Second Person of the Trinity. The change is on the part of the human nature, not God's. God eternally wills that this union have taken place.

      Remember, I said this all takes hundreds of pages to explain with proper precision and expecting a simple answer to the greatest mystery in all finite existence is totally not realistic.

      Now I suggest you consult a properly educated professional Catholic theologian.

      • Speculative?no please don't speculate. If you don't have enough to reach a conclusion just say you don't know .

        "Talking about the "body" as if it were a separate thing from Christ himself is highly misleading. When you are talking about a living substance, the body is not a separate thing from the soul. That is a Cartesian error. Christ died in his human nature. He could never die in his divine nature"

        To me this indeed suggests that god and the human body that died were one and the same. Otherwise of course the death and resurrection of that body would be inconsequential, but they are not. death and resurrection of that body are the big show. That body had parts. It had hair, blood, baby teeth .These are parts.

        I guess you don't know that's fine.

        • Jim the Scott

          If I may.....

          >Speculative?no please don't speculate. If you don't have enough to reach a conclusion just say you don't know .

          Some Christology is speculative. Like wither or not Christ's human intellect has all infused natural knowledge or not.
          Stuff like that. That is what he means. It's obvious.

          >To me this indeed suggests that god and the human body that died were one and the same.

          Except doctrine doesn't teach that and saying "one and the same" without qualification is just equivocating.

          > Otherwise of course the death and resurrection of that body would be inconsequential, but they are not. death and resurrection of that body are the big show. That body had parts. It had hair, blood, baby teeth .These are parts.

          His explanation was substantively no different then mine. You should have it even thought the blog for some mysterious reason ate it.

          >I guess you don't know that's fine.

          You do Dr. B a disservice. His explanation is clear enough.

          If you don't understand it then say so. It's not like you never admitted you didn't understand a subject before. You are in my experience cool that way.

        • Jim the Scott

          >Otherwise of course the death and resurrection of that body would be inconsequential, but they are not.

          So unless God can transmute himself into a human nature like Sabrina the teenage witch can "change herself" into a Cat the incarnation is inconsequential?

          So unless Apollinarian or Monophysite heresy are true the incarnation is inconsequential?

          What a strange position for a non-believer to take......

        • Dennis Bonnette

          I just found your reply to me and also the two comments by Jim below.

          Frankly, I think his comments suffice as a reply to your paragraph about God and the human body.

          As to the "speculative" in "speculative theology," that is a technical term. it does not mean speculating as in a kind of guesswork.

          In philosophy, we distinguish speculative from practical knowledge based on whether it is knowledge for its own sake or knowledge for the sake of a further end. Knowing how to bake a cake is practical knowledge. But speculative theology is not mere guesswork. it is scientifically precise reasoning about a subject matter that is so important and of such great intellectual interest that it is studied as an end in itself and not as subordinate to a further purpose. It is knowledge for its own sake.

          It definitely does NOT imply that the knowledge amounts to "not knowing!"

  • Jim the Scott

    I note the questions asked by Brian remind me of something my wife told me. Some back round. My wife is a former Ex-Catholic. She left Catholicism to join Evangelicalism but returned to the Church thanks to the works of Scott Hahn and Karl Keating.

    Anyway she told me many non-denominational Evangelicals specifically among the rank and file have some heterodox ideas about the incarnation which would repel classical Reformed or Lutheran or other confessional old Protestants(who in spite of their de-Catholicizing of the Faith held fast to the Christological teaching of the first four Ecumenical Councils).

    Just as some people popularly think the big bang was an actual explosion in the middle of a void (instead of the sudden emergence of not only matter and energy but time and space) some people popularly think the incarnation was God transmuting himself into a human being.

    Like Samantha the teenage witch turning herself into a cat by magic(yet she retains her powers & intellect as a witch to turn back). By "magic" she makes her human nature a cat nature (yet somehow it is still her? Which is incoherent metaphysically but it is TV) . The incarnation is understood this way by some.

    God does not change his divine nature into a human nature at the incarnation. The divine person of the word unites to a human nature without mixing the two natures but the union that results is eternal. So the untied natures (divine and human) can't be separated but they don't mix and God cannot in principle change his nature into anything. Maybe Samantha the Teenage Witch can on Nickelodeon(or is it Disney?).

    We don't do the heresy of Eutyches. His false views are not our doctrine.

    • That's interesting. When we are called to "abide in Jesus", that doesn't mean "become absorbed in Jesus". Without maintaining a distinction between the natures, this would be a significant danger. Am I understanding correctly?

      • Jim the Scott

        Yes you are correct.

  • God is his own sufficient reason, but it would be absurd to say that he is his own cause.

    How can it be that a god that is not logically necessary (ie. has an eternal will that is non-necessary and identical to its essence, and a trinitarian nature that isn't logically necessary) be its own sufficient reason for existing? What sufficient reason in god's nature is there for why a specific god that has an eternal will that is non-necessary and identical to its essence, and a trinitarian nature that isn't logically necessary, exists?

  • Jim the Scott

    >What sufficient reason in god's nature is there for why a specific god that has an eternal will that is non-necessary and identical to its essence, and a trinitarian nature that isn't logically necessary, exists?

    Aren't essay generators fun? You can auto create all sorts of nonsense.

  • The first way begins with the observation that “it is certain and most evident to the senses that some things are in motion.” As has been proven in an earlier article, “whatever is in motion must be being moved by another.”

    This of course assumes presentism or at least possiblism. And not only that, it assumes that if eternalism was true, you wouldn't be able to sense movement consciously as you do now. This is exactly what Dr B claimed in past OPs and comments: if eternalism was true an object would be in the same place at all times. Nothing can be further from the truth. Not only is Dr B insufficiently educated on the science of special relativity, he is unaware that he falls for the most common mistaken fallacy about spacetime realism.

    Given special relativity, objects only "move" relative to one another because worldlines in spacetime are angled to one another and are not all parallel. That's what movement really is. There is no need for anything to be kept in motion since motion is all relative and all it really is is the fact that worldlines whose entire existence is ontological are angled relative to one another. That's it.

    Once you understand the actual scientific understanding of the universe, and not the silly antiquated Aristotelian one, you see that the starting premises of Aquinas' arguments have no merit. Hence the "First Way" fails to demonstrate its conclusion, like all other arguments for god.

  • Jim the Scott

    Now your just repeating crap our MIT graduate friend destroyed.

    >This of course assumes presentism or at least possiblism.

    http://www.arcaneknowledge.org/philtheo/temporal/temporal.htm

    Both Presentism and Eternalism are ill defined which is why the majority of temporal philosophers reject both.

    https://philpapers.org/surveys/results.pl

    survey 26% of Philosopher accept B theory/eternalism and 15% accept A theory/presentism but 58% reject both.

    Count the Thomists in the 58%. Just read Daniel's paper for the third option.

    • Now your just repeating crap our MIT graduate friend destroyed.

      He didn't actually destroy anything, you just want to believe he did.

      Both Presentism and Eternalism are ill defined which is why the majority of temporal philosophers reject both.

      Also, if being ill-defined is your problem, the proposal he's defining is so ill defined it can't be taken seriously. You cannot at the same time deny an objective reference frame and deny eternalism. It's incoherent.

      survey 26% of Philosopher accept B theory/eternalism and 15% accept A theory/presentism but 58% reject both.

      Generic philosophers outside of the philosophy of science usually have no subject matter expertise on time. When you filter for philosophers of physical science, who are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism you can clearly see that about half accept the B theory and only 11% accept presentism. Clearly the data shows that the more you become familiar with the subject matter the more likely you are to agree with my view, and the less likely you are to accept presentism.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38c5c299bd04c2bcb15d9b96ced8eea689d6f3baa1ee04a33caa417b45d37c72.png

      Count the Thomists in the 58%. Just read Daniel's paper for the third option.

      Well now its at 60.7% accepting either the A or B theory when you filter for philosophers of physical science, who are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism.

      Basically your options are presentism, possibilism, and eternalism. Both presentism and possiblism suffer the same problem: they both include an objective now moving forward in time that SR refutes. So your options are very limited, and that's why your views are incoherent.

  • Jim the Scott

    >It takes one to know one.

    You are just repeating yourself and ignoring what was told too you before. That is lovely trolling but it is bad argument and bad arguments are boring and you are boring.

    • It's actually a good question that shows your god isn't necessary. Asserting "God is his own sufficient reason" is just repeating yourself and ignoring what was told too you before. Bad argument too.

  • The Catholic dogma of the Trinity allows a distinction of relation to exist between the three divine Persons, but this does not entail a real distinction between principles, parts, or things.

    You lost me at 'dogma'.

  • Jim the Scott

    >It's actually a good question that shows your god isn't necessary. Asserting "God is his own sufficient reason" is just repeating yourself and ignoring what was told too you before. Bad argument too.

    If I had dime for every time you mindlessly repeated back my own words willy nilly....I would retire tomorrow and head for the Caribbean Sea.

    It's good trolling but lousy argument. You are just becoming more boring by the minute.

    • It's good trolling but lousy argument. You are just becoming more boring by the minute.

      I'm still more interesting to you than god.

      Also, no one has refuted my argument on this site successfully. Repeating that it has without justification is as mindless and boring as you can get.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Generic philosophers outside of the philosophy of science usually have no subject matter expertise on time.

    Where is your data to support that claim?

    Sorry but General philosophy of science gives us these results.

    Other 50 / 94 (53.2%)
    Accept or lean toward: B-theory 35 / 94 (37.2%)
    Accept or lean toward: A-theory 9 / 94 (9.6%)

    > When you filter for philosophers of physical science, who are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism you can clearly see that about half accept the B theory and only 11% accept presentism.

    So physicists who are not philosophers of time mostly except b theory/eternalism?

    Big deal. They are not experts in temporal philosophy. Only physical science. Philosophers of physical science are not experts in the philosophy of time. You have no data to support this claim.

    > Clearly the data shows that the more you become familiar with the subject matter the more likely you are to agree with my view, and the less likely you are to accept presentism.

    Rather it shows physicists make lousy philosophers which they do.

    >Well now its at 60.7% accepting either the A or B theory when you filter for philosophers of physical science, who are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism.

    There is no data to support the idea philosophers of physical science are more familiar with the philosophy of time.

    Let's face it. You do not have a professional understanding of science. You didn't even graduate college.

    Daniel is an MIT graduate. You can't answer his paper. You have neither the training nor the skill.

    • Where is your data to support that claim?

      Time theories are a highly esoteric subset of the philosophy of SR/GR which is within a highly esoteric subset of the philosophy of physical science, which is a subset of philosophy of science. Also, just look at how many people pick "Insufficiently familiar with the issue" who are outside the philosophies of science. That proves my point.

      Sorry but General philosophy of science gives us these results.

      Other 50 / 94 (53.2%)
      Accept or lean toward: B-theory 35 / 94 (37.2%)
      Accept or lean toward: A-theory 9 / 94 (9.6%)

      "General" is the problem - it isn't the philosophers of physical science, who are the subgroup most familiar with the subject matter.

      So physicists who are not philosophers of time mostly except b theory/eternalism?

      Um that is clearly not what I said. Here is a perfect example of your blind desire to strawman. I wrote "When you filter for philosophers of physical science..." And you respond "physicists who are not philosophers of time..." Wow.

      Big deal. They are not experts in temporal philosophy. Only physical science. Philosophers of physical science are not experts in the philosophy of time. You have no data to support this claim.

      I'm not talking about physicists, I'm talking about philosophers of physical science, but who cares about readin' huh? And yes I clearly do have data to support my conclusion. Philosophers of physical science are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism, since that false into the philosophy of physical science, and as you can clearly see that about half accept the B theory and only 11% accept presentism. Oh and many physicists who deal with SR/GR also are indeed experts on the ontology of time since they deal with the science that directly relates to it.

      Rather it shows physicists make lousy philosophers which they do.

      Yet you cite a supposed physicist to contradict me! Hilarious.

      And no, that survey only involves philosophers as far as I can tell, although some scientists have their own independent pages. So your response here is absurd twice. Wow. I love seeing you fall apart.

      There is no data to support the idea philosophers of physical science are more familiar with the philosophy of time.

      There is because the philosophy of time falls within the interpretations of scientific theories in physics, which as you may have guessed, falls within the philosophy of physical science. Face it, you've lost this one.

      Daniel is an MIT graduate. You can't answer his paper. You have neither the training nor the skill.

      But I thought physicists make lousy philosophers?

      I guess we aren't even trying to hide our biases at this point. Oh and I already refuted many of this silly strawman claims on the other page.

  • Jim the Scott

    >>Where is your data to support that claim?

    >Time theories are a highly esoteric subset of the philosophy of SR/GR which is within a highly esoteric subset of the philosophy of physical science, which is a subject of philosophy of science.

    So basically you have no hard data proving philosophers of physical science or physicists are experts in temporal philosophy? That is what I thought.

    >"General" is the problem, it isn't the philosophers of physical science, who are the subgroup most familiar with the subject matter.

    Sorry but you clearly have no hard data to prove your claim about the alleged expertise of philosophers of physical science over philosophers of science in general.

    It's just your bias.

    >I'm not talking about physicists, I'm talking about philosophers of physical science, but who cares about readin' huh?

    Who are also likely physicists. But it doesn't matter. You have not proven scientifically they are experts in temporal philosophy.

    So until you do I won't believe it. Also this is all a ruse because you have no skill or ability to answer Daniel.

    • So basically you have no hard data proving philosophers of physical science or physicists are experts in temporal philosophy? That is what I thought.

      I do. Part of it is in the very survey you linked. They have among the lowest rate of those saying they are "Insufficiently familiar with the issue". That's hard data that proves my point. But keep lying for your cause.

      Sorry but you clearly have no hard data to prove your claim about the alleged expertise of philosophers of physical science over philosophers of science in general.

      It's just your bias.

      From the very survey it says the philosophers of physical science have "paid by far the most attention to physics. In the last century they have focused especially on two branches: spacetime physics, and quantum physics. With regard to spacetime, philosophers have been concerned with questions about whether simultaneity is conventional, and whether the theory of relativity is consistent with the metaphysical doctrine of presentism. Philosophers have also been debating whether spacetime itself exists (substantivalism), or whether it is just a system of relations between material objects (relationism). More recently, philosophers have been vexed by the claim that Einstein's theory of general relativity has "gauge freedom," and that consequently there is no objective passage of time (the problem of time)."

      So you couldn't be further from the truth. Reading isn't your strength.

      Who are also likely physicists. But it doesn't matter. You have not proven scientifically they are experts in temporal philosophy.

      They all have degrees in philosophy, and almost all will have degrees in physics too. Your own link proves you wrong.

      So until you do I won't believe it. Also this is all a ruse because you have no skill or ability to answer Daniel.

      I clearly did already. But you won't believe because you're clearly biased and have no idea what you're talking about. Clear example of confirmation bias at work.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Also, just look at how many people pick "Insufficiently familiar with the issue" who are outside the philosophies of science. That proves my point.

    But the majority of those in the general philosophies of science reject both.

    Anyway this is all a dodge. You are not a professional scientist or philosopher. Daniel is both it seems and you cannot answer him. You lack the skill and education and your pride won't let you admit your shortcomings.

    • But the majority of those in the general philosophies of science reject both.

      General philosophy of science is a wider category than the philosophy of physical science. You do know that physical science is more particular that just plain old science, right? I hope I don't have to assume your intellect is so low you can't even get this.

      Anyway this is all a dodge. You are not a professional scientist or philosopher. Daniel is both it seems and you cannot answer him. You lack the skill and education and your pride won't let you admit your shortcomings.

      I have already answered him. I easily refuted many of his nonsensical claims on the other thread. It's too over your head to realize that because you know next to nothing on the subject matter. Daniel on his own site doesn't say anything about a degree in philosophy. He has degrees in math, physics and history.

  • Jim the Scott

    Interesting:

    The Philosophy of physical science by H. Havorson.

    https://philpapers.org/browse/philosophy-of-physical-science

    If I may quote.

    "The physical sciences include physics, chemistry, and the earth sciences and space sciences. Of these, philosophers have paid by far the most attention to physics."

    Yet someone else said.....

    "I'm not talking about physicists, I'm talking about philosophers of physical science, but who cares about readin' huh?"

    Try taking your own advice.

    • You're so slow you don't realize that actually affirms my point. All it's saying is that "philosophers of physical science" includes philosophers who specialize in "physics, chemistry, and the earth sciences and space sciences." And that "Of these, philosophers have paid by far the most attention to physics."

      You're still under the impression that this is referring to physicists, and not the philosophers of physical sciences. Try taking my advice and actually reading what you're quoting.

  • Jim the Scott

    I am taking bets TT doesn't produce any empirical data proving Philosophers of physical science have more expertise in temporal philosophy then everyone else.

    He will merely assume it and act like he has proven it(like he does with everything else).

    But it is funny. It seems the majority of PPS accept scientific realism(how Aristotle of them) and empiricism. Of course eternalism suffers from empirical incoherence.

    Interesting.....

    • But it is funny. It seems the majority of PPS accept scientific realism(how Aristotle of them) and empiricism. Of course eternalism suffers from empirical incoherence.

      Scientific realism is nothing like Aristotelian realism. All it says is that scientific theories can describe an objective universe the way it really is.

      And eternalism is proved in part by experimental evidence, like the reality of length contraction, which you can't make sense if without a 4D world.

      Interesting.....indeed.

  • Jim the Scott

    This is just deluded.

    >I have already answered him. I easily refuted many of his nonsensical claims on the other thread.

    He has never addressed Daniel's paper only cried about it.

  • Jim the Scott

    >You're still under the impression that this is referring to physicists, and not the philosophers of physical sciences.

    But I thought you where making a "scientific argument" that SR proves Eternalism?
    Why cite philosophers? I thought you believed Science can disprove philosophy and metaphysics?

    Make up your mind. Daniel at least has training in both philosophy, math and physics.

    You OTOH never graduated college.

    • I have a college degree, you on the other hand barely have a GED.

      But I thought you where making a "scientific argument" that SR proves Eternalism?

      As I wrote over a month ago "My argument is a logical argument that uses science." That's exactly what philosophers of physics often do.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Daniel on his own site doesn't say anything about a degree in philosophy. He has degrees in math, physics and history.

    Missed all that stuff on Aristotle's metaphysics did ya?

    You can't answer him. You didn't even graduate college.

    • Incoherent ramblings.

      Exhibit A: this is your brain on religion.

  • Jim the Scott

    So the paper I linked too shows Physicists study physics? It's doesn't show Physicists or PPS are familiar with the philosophy of time?

    Big deal.

    What about Gale’s Criticism of McTaggart do they have an answer? No....

    • You're trying so hard to hope we don't notice you've utterly lost this claim that philosophers of physical sciences aren't the people most likely to understand the philosophy of time.

      [changes subject .... ]

  • Jim the Scott

    >I have a college degree,

    But not in science or physics or philosophy.....

  • Jim the Scott

    If you had one you would crow about it. You wouldn't lie about because you would get caught when you made mistakes.

    We know some experts which is why we don't take your "responses" seriously.

    Naysaying Daniel is not rebutting him.

    • Of course that's not rebutting him, but you know what is? Refuting his arguments to show how he's mislead, which is exactly what I did.

      You don't understand any of the subject matter, you've just given into your confirmation bias by finding someone you think agrees with you. That's not an argument. I can find way more physicists who are way more credentialed than Daniel who agree with me.

      Yet somehow I thought "physicists make lousy philosophers"? Hmmm. Not when it's the one I agree with!

  • So apparently philosophers of physical science who have "paid by far the most attention to physics....[and]..With regard to spacetime...have been concerned with questions about whether simultaneity is conventional, and whether the theory of relativity is consistent with the metaphysical doctrine of presentism" are not the philosophers most likely to understand whether the theory of relativity is consistent with the metaphysical doctrine of presentism.

    Go figure.

  • Jim the Scott

    >So apparently philosophers of physical science who have "paid by far the most attention to physics....[and]..With regard to spacetime...have been concerned with questions about whether simultaneity is conventional, and whether the theory of relativity is consistent with the metaphysical doctrine of presentism" are not the most likely to understand whether the theory of relativity is consistent with the metaphysical doctrine of presentism.

    Of course not since they are studying physics not philosophy of time. Time is real change and that is tied to metaphysics not physics.

    • Of course not since they are studying physics not philosophy of time. Time is real change and that is tied to metaphysics not physics.

      A full discussion on the philosophy of time cannot be done without input from physics. Every competent philosopher knows that. Philosophers of physics are not studying physics, they are interpreting scientific theories, the scientific method, and philosophizing on the ontological implications of scientific theories, of which the nature of time is very important.

      Face it, you've lost this one. Just acknowledge that philosophers of physics are the subgroup most competent to talk about time and save yourself some more humiliation.

  • Jim the Scott

    >You're trying so hard to hope we don't notice you've utterly lost this claim that philosophers of physical sciences aren't the people most likely to understand the philosophy of time.

    Only because you keep pretending the study of physics is the study of time.

    Time is the measure of real change. You don't need a universal or absolute reference frame for that.

    • the insanity train is about to hit the wall...

      Only because you keep pretending the study of physics is the study of time.

      The study of physics does touch on the nature of time. I never said they are the same exact thing. And besides, here I'm talking about the philosophy of physical science, which I've proved deals with the subject matter of time.

      Time is the measure of real change. You don't need a universal or absolute reference frame for that.

      Sure. Then stop stupidly saying on eternalism all times will be exactly the same.

  • Jim the Scott

    This again? Fallacies of equivocation.

    >The study of physics does touch on the nature of time.

    Physics tells us time will slow down for me if I move near the speed of light relative to the flow of time in some (relatively) stationary reference frame.

    It has nothing to do with change being real or wither or not time changes. That is philosophy.

    • Fallacies of equivocation.

      Nope. I've already proven over 4 months ago that theories of time and physics overlap.

      Physics tells us time will slow down for me if I move near the speed of light relative to the flow of time in some (relatively) stationary reference frame.

      Which tells us about the nature of time, that is, presentism is false, and eternalism is true.

      It has nothing to do with change being real or wither or not time changes. That is philosophy.

      Sure it does, because if you must define "change" in a way that presupposes presentism, science can easily show that's false.

  • Jim the Scott

    >A full discussion on the philosophy of time cannot be done without input from physics.

    Which Daniels does and you have no answer too him because you have NO FORMAL TRAINING in physics or philosophy or math or science......

    What did you graduate in a degree in marketing?

    • All over the place...

      Which Daniels does and you have no answer too him because you have NO FORMAL TRAINING in physics or philosophy or math or science......

      So now time involves physics? Before it was just philosophy, and "physicists make lousy philosophers" and now physics is involved and you cite a physicist and non-philosopher to make your point (despite the fact that you have no idea what he's talking about)? The screws are so loose they're almost out.

      Oh and I did refute him. See here: "Let me break down why Castellano is incorrect:"

      Anytime you want to actually refute that instead of just asserting it's false, let us know.

      What did you graduate in a degree in marketing?

      Marketing? No. I minored in philosophy/liberal arts and have a Bachelor's of Science.

  • Jim the Scott

    >the insanity train is about to hit the wall...

    Only because you keep repeating the same invalid crap.

    You think Physicists are experts in the philosophy of time? Or more likely you think time exclusively refers to the concept "Spacetime"?

    • Only because you keep repeating the same invalid crap.

      You must be confusing me with a classical theist.

      You think Physicists are experts in the philosophy of time? Or more likely you think time exclusively refers to the concept "Spacetime"?

      Never said either of those things. But I'm enjoying your child-like imagination. Do you still have invisible friends?

  • Jim the Scott

    >Nope. I've already proven over 4 months ago that theories of time and physics overlap.

    No you rather keep confusing physics with philosophy. Overlap is not the same as equivalent or interchangeable.

    • Never said so. Reading is really not your strength.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Which tells us about the nature of time, that is, presentism is false, and eternalism is true.

    Neither is correct. Again with begging the question.

    • Either there is an objective reference frame, or there is not. Those are your only choices. Reject the objective frame and you have to have an ontology that allows eternalism.

      Also you and your homeboy Daniel have are incoherent ramblings/positions. I've debating this issue for years, I know all the positions one can take.

  • Jim the Scott

    > Philosophers of physics are not studying physics, they are interpreting scientific theories, the scientific method, and philosophizing on the ontological implications of scientific theories, of which the nature of time is very important.

    But then what are their metaphysical assumptions for their ontology and are they valid? If they are all a priori anti-realists then that just begs the question....

    That is the issue you have spent months dodging.

    • But then what are their metaphysical assumptions for their ontology and are they valid? If they are all a priori anti-realists then that just begs the question....

      It depends on the philosopher of physics. Duh.

      That is the issue you have spent months dodging.

      Months? I'm sorry, your imagination is wildly active.

  • Jim the Scott

    >So now time involves physics? Before it was just philosophy, and "physicists make lousy philosophers" and now physics is involved and you cite a physicist and non-philosopher to make your point (despite the fact that you have no idea what he's talking about)?

    I notice you dodge my accusation. Daniel has formal training. You don't. Why should I believe an incompotent amatuer?

    • I notice you dodge my accusation. He has formal training. You don't. Why should I believe an incompotent amatuer?

      We'll you've already dismissed all the scientists with way more credentials than your Danny boy who disagree with him and agree with me (and who are the majority of physicists) so what difference does it make? Clearly you're biased and know zilch about the subject matter. Confirmation bias exhibit A.

      And yes, I have studied physics formally but I did not major in it. I've studied SR on my own more deeper since college. You simply have to have an unbiased reading of what he writes and what I write and do your own studying of the subject matter to see who makes more sense. It's so easy to see the mistakes he makes that I can't believe he has an actual degree. Either that or he's really bad at the philosophy of physics.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Either there is an objective reference frame, or there is not. Those are your only choices.

    Daniel doesn't argue you need one. He assumes we don't have one. You just skimmed the paper. You didn't read it. He is an MIT graduate. You have no formal training in physics or philosophy or science.

    To take your "refutation" seriously would be like reading a YEC with a 5h graders knowledge in biology "refutaition" of Dawkin on evolution.

    • Daniel doesn't argue you need one. He assumes we don't have one. You just skimmed the paper. He is an MIT graduate. You have no formal training in physics or philosophy or science.

      Daniel doesn't know basic logic. If there is no objective reference frame, then there necessarily must be many subjective reference frames, whose simultaneity planes are all equally ontological at any given event. That is eternalism my friend.

      I know this subject matter really really well. Way better than you know classical theism. I can spot BS immediately. And I can spot it in Danny boy's paper.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Also you and your homeboy Daniel have are incoherent ramblings/positions. I've debating this issue for years, I know all the positions one can take.

    Creationists have debated evolution for years. It doesn't mean they ever have been professionally trained in science or biology nor competent. You have no formal Training in physics, philosophy or any of these issues.

    You are a science enthusiast. Not a professional.

    • Creationist have debated evolution for years. It doesn't mean they ever have been professionally trained in science or biology. You have no formal Training in physics, philosophy or any of these issues.

      First I have taken formal physics courses. Second, the physics community largely agrees with me and you dismiss that outright because of your bias. So complaining that I don't have a PhD in physics makes zero sense coming from a guy who dismisses on a whim every physicist with a PhD who agrees with me.

      You are a science enthusiast. Not a professional.

      And you are neither an enthusiast nor a professional. So your opinion means the least according to your own standards.

  • Jim the Scott

    >We'll you've already dismissed all the scientists with way more credentials than your Danny boy who disagree with him...

    Hardly you have cited nobody specific you have just made an invalid general argument.

    The majority of Philosophers of Science reject both Eternalism and Presentism.

    • Hardly you have cited nobody specific you have just made an invalid general argument.

      I have many times, you've just never read what I wrote. Also, you've never shown my argument to be invalid.

      The majority of Philosophers of Science reject both Eternalism and Presentism.

      Repeating the same nonsense? "Philosophers of Science" is too broad a category. Philosophers of Physical Science narrows the group to include more people who are more likely to be studied in the philosophy of time. Make you're slow.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Daniel doesn't know basic logic.

    An MIT graduate knows less about logic then someone with no formal training in science or philosophy?

    Of course? Daniel rejects both eternalism and presentism. Do you have an answer for Gale?

    • An MIT graduate knows less about logic then someone with no formal training in science or philosophy?

      Oh yeah. Think about what you're already arguing right now. To maintain your position you have to believe the majority of PhD holding physicists don't understand logic by concluding eternalism. And yet you call me out for one physicist, who I don't even think has a PhD in physics for being wrong. Wow.

      Ever hear of the argument from authority? It's your logical fallacy.

      Of course? Daniel rejects both eternalism and presentism. Do you have an answer for Gale?

      I've already responded to that months ago. I will repeat: Eternalism is not dependent on the fact that we can describe things tenselessly and never has been. And on the flip side, the fact that many words are tensed does not prove presentism. Languages are social constructs, they are conveniences. Languages do not determine reality, reality determines reality. I will quote here physicist Brian Greene, because his words here are apt:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f950f77b16024c85b674a458603aecc2a03179f323f463abf64c3771213fdf61.png

  • Jim the Scott

    >First I have taken formal physics courses.

    So have I & so has every undergrad but you clearly have no degree in physics nor formal training. Unlike Daniel who is a graduate of MIT and you have no physics degree or math degree.

    • And yet to maintain your position you have to believe the majority of PhD holding physicists don't understand logic by concluding eternalism. And yet you call me out for one physicist, who I don't even think has a PhD in physics for being wrong. Wow.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Second, the physics community largely agrees with me...

    So what? They don't understand the philosophy of time nor do they understand metaphysics.

    • So what? They don't understand the philosophy of time nor do they understand metaphysics.

      They don't? Prove that claim. Or is this something you accept on "Catholic dogma." LOL.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I have many times, you've just never read what I wrote. Also, you've never shown my argument to be invalid.

    You have not show Daniel's arguments are invalid. You are still pretending he accepts presentism or an absolute time frame. He doesn't. I read the whole paper. You haven't you skimmed it.

    • You have not show Daniel's arguments are invalid. You are still pretending he accepts presentism or an absolute time frame. He doesn't. I read the whole paper. You haven't you skimmed it.

      I read the whole paper. Try actually reading my rebuttal. It eviscerates his silly strawman claims.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Oh yeah. Think about what you're already arguing right now. To maintain your position you have to believe the majority of PhD holding physicists don't understand logic by concluding eternalism.

    So a majority of philosophers of science don't understand logic? Amazing.......

    You are really no different then a science denying YEC. Both of you are not formally educated in the discipline you attack.

    • So a majority of philosophers of science don't know that? Amazing.......

      I'd have to see their reasons for denying eternalism. I know what one has to claim and yes it is often incoherent.

      You are really no different then a science denying YEC. Both of you are not formally educated in the discipline you attack.

      I'm nothing like that. I actually learned the relevant science of SR to understand what was being talked about. And you don't need a PhD to see how Danny boy makes the most ridiculous arguments against eternalism. They are exactly as inane as yours and Dr B's, probably because you're just copying him almost verbatim.

  • Jim the Scott

    >And yet you call me out for one physicist, who I don't even think has a PhD in physics for being wrong.

    The issue is you have no degree in physics. He is an MIT graduate.

    >Try actually reading my rebuttal. It eviscerates his silly strawman claims.

    It's incoherent nonsense. Like reading a creationist's rebuttal to an actual biologist.

    You have no formal training.

    • The issue is you have no degree in physics. He is an MIT graduate.

      So? Do you know what an argument from authority is? Do you know the majority of physicists agree with me? What do you say about that?

      I can point to you dozens of physicists who agree with me and who have more credentials than Danny boy. Shall I play the argument from authority card too?

      It's incoherent nonsense. Like reading a creationist's rebuttal to an actual biologist.

      Prove that.

      You have no formal training.

      Clearly you don't even have informal training in logic since all you literally do is shout your claims and rely on arguments of authority. Wow. Stupid is, stupid does.

  • Jim the Scott

    So you can quote Greene? I can quote Lee Strobel...

    You still have no answer for Daniel. You are a science enthusiast not a professional.

    • I do have an answer for Danny boy, right here: https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/how_cosmic_existence_reveals_god8217s_reality/#comment-3835664951

      I don't quote mine because I actually know how to debate. Instead I learn the subject matter and debate the merits of the claims being made. You quote mine and think you can be done with it. Is that what you'd want every non-Christian to do with your religion? Just find something on line that says it's false.

      You have far less scientific understanding than me, so you're in no position to claim I don't know what I'm talking about. Any look at my comment above clearly shows Danny boy is mistaken.

  • Jim the Scott

    >>The issue is you have no degree in physics. He is an MIT graduate.
    >So?

    Well at least you admit you really don't know what you are talking about.

    >Do you know what an argument from authority is?

    So I should believe Ken Ham over Dawkins on Evolution? I don't think so......

    > Do you know the majority of physicists agree with me?

    A majority of Philosophers of science agree with me. Neither eternalism nor presentism are valid and you still think Daniel is arguing for presentism......

    • Well at least you admit you really don't know what you are talking about.

      Oh I know the subject matter really well. "So?" refers to the fallacy of quote mining.

      So I should believe Ken Ham over Dawkins on Evolution? I don't think so......

      Then why not just believe Greene or Carroll or anyone else with decades more experience in physics who disagrees with Danny boy?

      A majority of Philosophers of science agree with me. Neither eternalism nor presentism are valid and you still think Daniel is arguing for presentism......

      Nothing about the poll says the PoS think eternalism nor presentism are valid. Not agreeing with something doesn't = it isn't valid. One fallacy after the other.

      Daniel is not arguing for anything coherent. Hence if he denies an objective frame he's actually arguing for eternalism.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I do have an answer for Danny boy, right here....

    It's gibberish.

    • I agree, Danny boy's writings are gibberish.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I don't quote mine because I actually know how to debate.

    Actually you do & you did it on this very page and you don't know how to debate.

    You know how to rant.

    Anyway this is all moot. You are not a professional physicist nor philosopher. It shows....

    • Actually you do & you did it on this very page and you don't know how to debate.

      I make arguments and dissect other ones. I don't rely on authority. That's how creationists argue.

      Anyway this is all moot. You are not a professional physicist nor philosopher. It shows....

      You wouldn't know since you know almost nothing about science.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Oh I know the subject matter really well.

    YEC's who take a few undergad courses in biology make the same claim.

    • YEC's who take a few undergad courses in biology make the same claim.

      The difference is that I'm defending what the majority of physicists accept, and you're not. So you're the Ken Ham in this situation.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I agree, Danny boy's writings are gibberish.

    Shows you can't read. My plain words clearly made reference to you. Your response is gibberish. But it doesn't matter. I already got you to confess you have no professional degree in either philosophy, science or physics.

    I can tell that reading your past "debates" with Mike Flynn months ago. Now I got you to own it.

    • Shows you can't read. My plain words clearly made reference to you. Your response is gibberish. But it doesn't matter. I already got you to confess you have no professional degree in either philosophy, science or physics.

      You still know less about the subject matter than Ken Ham does about evolution. And degree or not, you still can't prove I'm wrong on anything I said about time/physics/philosophy of time. All you do is assert and quote mine, exactly what creationists do in fact.

      I can tell that reading your past "debates" with Mike Flynn months ago.

      I have no idea what you're talking about. Never dealt with him.

  • Jim the Scott

    >The difference is that I'm defending what the majority of physicists accept, and you're not.

    But the majority of physicists don't understand the philosophy of time. You have not proven otherwise. They understand physics. Big deal.

  • Jim the Scott

    >The difference is that I'm defending what the majority of physicists accept...

    One wonders if even they would wince at your bad arguments? I bet they would. They would tell you to be quiet and leave it too the professionals.

    • One wonders if even they would wince at your bad arguments? I bet they would. They would tell you to be quiet and leave it too the professionals.

      Actually no. They would agree with them, since the majority agree with me.

      Clearly you can't demonstrate my arguments are bad, you can only assert, and you know nothing of the subject matter so any attempt to do so would be laughable.

      I thought you couldn't get more sad, but then tomorrow came.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Actually no. They would agree with them, since the majority agree with me.

    A majority of Baptists agree with me on the existence of God doesn't mean I would get behind their crappy "scientific" non-philosophical arguments for the existence of God.
    I love only good arguments.

    None of this makes your bad arguments for eternalism valid nor mean they would embrace your bad arguments.

    Also Daniel rejects both Presentism and Eternalism. You keep arguing & begging the question by pretending he holds to presentism.

    But none of this matters. You already admitted you have no professional degree in physics. Maybe there are good arguments for eternalism but I have no confidence you can make any of them.

    • A majority of Baptists agree with me on the existence of God doesn't mean I would get behind their crappy "scientific" non-philosophical arguments for the existence of God.

      I'm not one who cares much for arguments from authority, so your whole point is moot.

      I love only good arguments.

      No you don't. In the end you succumb to faith in a dogmatic church, not arguments.

      None of this makes your bad arguments for eternalism valid nor mean they would embrace your bad arguments.

      They actually would, since my arguments are based on valid science. You're just so dumb on the subject matter you can't tell good from bad. And you're a dishonest liar.

      Also Daniel rejects both Presentism and Eternalism. You keep arguing & begging the question by pretending he holds to presentism.

      This presumes Danny boy's views are coherent. They are not. You can't claim to reject an objective reference frame and claim to reject eternalism. If you do one, you must accept the other. So no, his views are incoherent.

      But none of this matters. You already admitted you have no professional degree in physics. Maybe there are good arguments for eternalism but I have no confidence you can make any of them.

      Given how you're extremely biased, and ignorant, you wouldn't know a good argument if it bit you in the behind. You've never ever once shown how my arguments fail. Not once.

  • Jim the Scott

    >You still know less about the subject matter than Ken Ham does about evolution. And degree or not, you still can't prove I'm wrong on anything I said about time/physics/philosophy of time.

    But the experts I talk too behind your back say you are a Science enthusiast not a professional and that you don't know what you are taking about.

    I trust them over you.

    • But the experts I talk too behind your back say you are a Science enthusiast not a professional and that you don't know what you are taking about.

      Science enthusiast doesn't automatically = doesn't know anything about science. Heck, you don't have to have a PhD in philosophy or physics to know that Lawrence Krauss is misleading when he says the universe comes from "nothing." Likewise, you don't have to have a PhD in physics to see the obvious errors of Danny boy when he claims you can reject an objective reference frame and reject eternalism.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Instead I learn the subject matter and debate the merits of the claims being made.

    *Snort.*

    Yet you still don't understand the difference between formal causes and efficient ones.

    • Oh I do. Formal causes are the ones that are made up nonsense, and not "causes" in any legitimate sense of the term. Efficient causes are really just forces in nature that control all things.

      Most philosophers reject Aristotelian causality, including many smart ones with PhDs. So by your own standards, we should all trust them.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I make arguments and dissect other ones.

    You make argumentative fallacies.

    >I don't rely on authority. That's how creationists argue.

    Rather you are not an authority on the subject matter.

    >The difference is that I'm defending what the majority of physicists accept, and you're not.

    How is that not an argument from authority?

    • You make argumentative fallacies.

      Nope. You've never shown one to be wrong. Just strawmanning.

      Rather you are not an authority on the subject matter.

      There are no authorities in science dotard. Science isn't the Catholic church.

  • Jim the Scott

    >>I can tell that reading your past "debates" with Mike Flynn months ago.

    >I have no idea what you're talking about. Never dealt with him.

    Oh really?

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/neil_degrasse_tyson_on_catholicism_and_science/#comment-3713206396

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/neil_degrasse_tyson_on_catholicism_and_science/#comment-3711753421

    >I do have an answer for Danny boy, right here:
    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/strangenotions/how_cosmic_existence_reveals_god8217s_reality/#comment-3835664951

    You responded here to Dr. B brief summery of Daniel's conclusions not too Daniel's paper or his specific arguments by which he arrived at his conclusions.

    You are not an expert on physics. You have not done graduate work on physics. You have no professional degree.

    Also "Danny boy"?

    Classy.

    PS Your reverse argument of Authority is amusing. Ignore the fact Daniel has done some amazing work on physics at MIT. Listen too TT the guy without a professional degree in physics or philosophy or anything....

  • Jim the Scott

    Dr. B cites Danial C.
    >>“Denying the reality of time would contradict both postulates of special relativity. Several of the laws of physics involve explicit time derivatives, as does the velocity of light. While special relativity means we cannot have a frame-invariant coordinate for time t, it does not deny the reality of change expressed as d/dt, but presupposes it.”

    >Again, "denying the reality of time" is misleading.

    Daniel is talking about the denial of the present(& the greater issue of the reality of real change). Do try to read more carefully.

    here is the full quote with some context. We all know you skimmed it and didn't really read it.

    "Since the supposed unreality of the present due to its non-universality would equally apply to time, McTaggart’s assertion that the A-series is essential to time has not been contradicted. Consequently, anyone who uses relativity of simultaneity to argue against the reality of the A-series must thereby deny the reality of time. Those who make such arguments mistake the fact that there is no such thing as the time (or the present) implies that there is no time (or present) at all. That is to say, if time (or the present) is not absolute, it cannot be real, which is the opposite of a relativistic view. If time, and therefore motion, is unreal, what on earth are we measuring? Denying the reality of time would contradict both postulates of special relativity. Several of the laws of physics involve explicit time derivatives, as does the velocity of light. While special relativity means we cannot have a frame-invariant coordinate for time t, it does not deny the reality of change expressed as d/dt, but presupposes it.

    McTaggart does not invoke relativity or any physics against the reality of the A-series, but instead relies on the purely formal logic used by analytic philosophers. He tries to show that an A-series, and therefore time, cannot exist, as this would involve either a contradiction or a vicious infinite regress. If the terms past, present and future are taken as qualities or relations of events, we have a contradiction. If they are relations, then only one term of that relation can be an event in the time series, for if both terms were events, we have seen that the relation between events in time is unchanging. The relations that generate the A-series must somehow relate events to something outside the time series. In any case, the A-series determinations are incompatible with each other, yet can all be predicated of the same event. The common explanation to avoid this contradiction, namely that an event is not past, present and future at once, but successively, involves a vicious circle or infinite regress."

    > It makes it seems as if eternalism entails that every moment of time will have the same state of affairs, such that at time t=1 the universe looks exactly the same as it will at time t=3, or t=8.

    Yet none of that was said and none of that was claimed......you are just making it up as you go TT. Admit it.

    >This is the most naive, ignorant objection that you expect someone who's never deeply engaged with the philosophy and metaphysics behind SR or eternalism would make.

    This is not an argument. This is childish naysaying.

    >And of course, since neither you nor anyone on this site knows the subject matter, you swallow this ignorance whole."

    Of course because you are a greater expert in physics and philosophy (thought you have no formal decree or training by your own admission) then someone who is an MIT graduate and has done graduate work in physics.

    Your plea I should not listen to Daniel (just because he is obviously a more competent authority then you) because that is an argument from authority is just silly.

    He is an authority. You are not.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Castellano mixes some genuine understanding of SR with some really bad misunderstanding, and if you don't know the theory, or the ontology of spacetime, you will fall for his misunderstandings.

    Because it is very probable that an MIT graduate who has done graduate work in physics knows less about SR then an anonymous person who by his own admission had no formal degree in physics or formal training but at best can admit he took a few undergrad courses(like the rest of us).

    Sure pal...

    Who knew Atheists could be Gnostics?

    • Because it is very probable that an MIT graduate who has done graduate work in physics knows less about SR then an anonymous person who by his own admission had no formal degree in physics or formal training but at best can admit he took a few undergrad courses(like the rest of us).

      By that logic, every atheist physicist or philosopher is automatically right when they say the universe needs no god and that AT metaphysics is hogwash because they have a degree. See how absurd your own standards are?

      I've studied physics and philosophy for years, so I know way more than my formal training. I the fact that you haven't pointed to a single legitimate flaw in my assessment of Danny boy's writings, speaks volumes.

  • Jim the Scott

    TT attempted response to Daniel.

    >Again denying the reality of Time is misleading..

    Read the context before you write. Daniel is reffering to the denial of the reality of present and the denial of change. Here is the quote with the context.

    "the supposed unreality of the present due to its non-universality would equally apply to time, McTaggart’s assertion that the A-series is essential to time has not been contradicted. Consequently, anyone who uses relativity of simultaneity to argue against the reality of the A-series must thereby deny the reality of time. Those who make such arguments mistake the fact that there is no such thing as the time (or the present) implies that there is no time (or present) at all. That is to say, if time (or the present) is not absolute, it cannot be real, which is the opposite of a relativistic view. If time, and therefore motion, is unreal, what on earth are we measuring? Denying the reality of time would contradict both postulates of special relativity. Several of the laws of physics involve explicit time derivatives, as does the velocity of light. While special relativity means we cannot have a frame-invariant coordinate for time t, it does not deny the reality of change expressed as d/dt, but presupposes it.

    McTaggart does not invoke relativity or any physics against the reality of the A-series, but instead relies on the purely formal logic used by analytic philosophers. He tries to show that an A-series, and therefore time, cannot exist, as this would involve either a contradiction or a vicious infinite regress. If the terms past, present and future are taken as qualities or relations of events, we have a contradiction. If they are relations, then only one term of that relation can be an event in the time series, for if both terms were events, we have seen that the relation between events in time is unchanging. The relations that generate the A-series must somehow relate events to something outside the time series. In any case, the A-series determinations are incompatible with each other, yet can all be predicated of the same event. The common explanation to avoid this contradiction, namely that an event is not past, present and future at once, but successively, involves a vicious circle or infinite regress."

    > It makes it seems as if eternalism entails that every moment of time will have the same state of affairs, such that at time t=1 the universe looks exactly the same as it will at time t=3, or t=8

    To bad the context doesn't allow you to read such nonsense into Daniel's words. But thanks for playing.

    • Read the context before you write. Daniel is reffering to the denial of the reality of present and the denial of change.

      It is in context. Nothing about eternalism would, if true, deny that event A exists before event B.

      Consequently, anyone who uses relativity of simultaneity to argue against the reality of the A-series must thereby deny the reality of time. Those who make such arguments mistake the fact that there is no such thing as the time (or the present) implies that there is no time (or present) at all. That is to say, if time (or the present) is not absolute, it cannot be real, which is the opposite of a relativistic view.

      Misleading and false. Denying a universal present doesn't entail you must deny time. You simply need to deny a universal flow of time, that's it. There will still be event A that exists at 3:00 and event B that exists at 3:01. What is present is simply relative to the observer.

      If time, and therefore motion, is unreal, what on earth are we measuring? Denying the reality of time would contradict both postulates of special relativity. Several of the laws of physics involve explicit time derivatives, as does the velocity of light. While special relativity means we cannot have a frame-invariant coordinate for time t, it does not deny the reality of change expressed as d/dt, but presupposes it.

      Regarding this, my criticism still applies: Again, "denying the reality of time" is misleading. It makes it seems as if eternalism entails that every moment of time will have the same state of affairs, such that at time t=1 the universe looks exactly the same as it will at time t=3, or t=8. This is the most naive, ignorant objection that you expect someone who's never deeply engaged with the philosophy and metaphysics behind SR or eternalism would make. And of course, since neither you nor anyone on this site knows the subject matter, you swallow this ignorance whole.

      McTaggart does not invoke relativity or any physics against the reality of the A-series, but instead relies on the purely formal logic used by analytic philosophers.

      Yes. I don't rely on McTaggart's arguments in any of my cases for eternalism. So if his argument has flaws, it cannot be used against my argument for eternalism.

      So nothing Danny writes here in any way refutes eternalism.

      To bad the context doesn't allow you to read such nonsense into Daniel's words. But thanks for playing.

      Context is spot on actually. Nice you see how desperate you are in finding a flaw in anything I write. Danny implies that a denial of the a universal present is a "denial of the reality of present and the denial of change."

      To which I correctly refute: It makes it seems as if eternalism entails that every moment of time will have the same state of affairs, such that at time t=1 the universe looks exactly the same as it will at time t=3, or t=8. This is the most naive, ignorant objection that you expect someone who's never deeply engaged with the philosophy and metaphysics behind SR or eternalism would make. And of course, since neither you nor anyone on this site knows the subject matter, you swallow this ignorance whole.

  • Jim the Scott

    >This is the most naive, ignorant objection that you expect someone who's never deeply engaged with the philosophy and metaphysics behind SR or eternalism would make.

    This is your rebuttal of Daniel? Seriously you are just nay saying.

    >And of course, since neither you nor anyone on this site knows the subject matter, you swallow this ignorance whole."

    Because believing a person who admits to having no formal training in physics or philosophy or a formal degree is so much more reasonable then believing an MIT graduate who has done graduate work in physics especially relativity?

    Whatever....

    • This is your rebuttal of Daniel? Seriously you are just nay saying.

      That's one sentence summarizing his failed attempt to rebut it, yes,

      Because believing a person who admits to having no formal training in physics or philosophy or a formal degree is so much more reasonable then believing an MIT graduate who has done graduate work in physics especially relativity?

      By that logic anyone with a formal degree in physics or philosophy who says AT metaphysics is false should be trusted without question. See how dumb your own views are?

  • Jim the Scott

    Does TT even know what "eternalism" is?

    >Eternalism is literally just taking SR as it is without adding an unnecessary universal reference frame that is nowhere to be found in the laws of physics or in any experiment. "Earlier than" and "later than" all depend on entropy increase from the big bang to the thermodynamic equilibrium.

    No Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universe theory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time. TT is just making it up as he goes.

    To cite Daniel Castellano.

    "Philosophers in classical and modern traditions alike can fall into this snare, when they insist on defining “the present” univocally across space as an essential condition for the reality of temporal succession. Yet the arguments surrounding the interdependence of A-series and B-series have no logical dependence on this condition. We have seen that the B-series is not dependent on a particular A-series, but just on the reality of some indeterminate A-series. While the absence of a single A-series that can be defined everywhere at once may be intuitively unsatisfying, the compatibility of world lines, intersecting at mutually agreed “presents,” suffices to maintain the lack of contradiction among A-determinations, even if different world lines cannot otherwise be brought into a common absolute chronology."

    Quite a difference that an MIT education makes to someone who merely took a few under graduate course.

    • Does TT even know what "eternalism" is?

      Of course! I'm a freakin expert on it.

      No Eternalism is a philosophical approach to the ontological nature of time, which takes the view that all existence in time is equally real, as opposed to presentism or the growing block universe theory of time, in which at least the future is not the same as any other time. TT is just making it up as he goes.

      Wow, copying wikipedia! What I said is the same thing, just talking about it from a different perspective. Take SR as it is and don't add an unnecessary universal reference frame that is nowhere to be found in the laws of physics or in any experiment and voila! You get eternalism. You're too ignorant to know this.

      To cite Daniel Castellano.

      "Philosophers in classical and modern traditions alike can fall into this snare, when they insist on defining “the present” univocally across space as an essential condition for the reality of temporal succession. Yet the arguments surrounding the interdependence of A-series and B-series have no logical dependence on this condition. We have seen that the B-series is not dependent on a particular A-series, but just on the reality of some indeterminate A-series. While the absence of a single A-series that can be defined everywhere at once may be intuitively unsatisfying, the compatibility of world lines, intersecting at mutually agreed “presents,” suffices to maintain the lack of contradiction among A-determinations, even if different world lines cannot otherwise be brought into a common absolute chronology."

      If there isn't a universal "present" across all of space, what we'd call a universal simultaneity plane or now slice, then there are necessarily more than one, and that means events in one's past and future will necessarily exist in spacetime. Danny boy is trying to get something he can't. He's trying to say that because every reference frame will have in it a coherent temporal succession of events where cause & effect relationships can exist (timelike separated events), therefore, what? There is no eternalism? How he makes that claim makes no sense. It certainly doesn't derive from anything he writes in that paragraph. Eternalism being true would not violate the causal relationships of timelike separated events. But people ignorant on the subject matter will never know.

      Quite a difference that an MIT education makes to someone who merely took a few under graduate course.

      Merely? No. I studied this for years. And if you draw from his paragraph that eternalism must be false, then your head isn't working. Nothing in what he wrote entails that whatsoever.

  • Jim the Scott

    "Some pairs of events, which are called spacelike or spatially separated, cannot be placed in an objective temporal order, unless we arbitrarily define a particular frame of reference to be privileged. Though each event belongs to some objective temporal sequence in a host of world lines passing through it, it does not follow that any two events can belong to the same temporal sequence. Attempts to define such a sequence objectively (without arbitrarily defining a privileged frame) leads to results that are contradictory. This impossibility, however, has no physical implications, since spatially separated events cannot send or receive signals from each other, much less be physical causes or origins of each other. Thus it leads to no ontological ambiguity except for those who are not content with an empiricist notion of physical reality."
    You can read the rest here

    • Yeah, spacelike separated events cannot influence each other. Wow. What does that prove? That eternalism is false? Where in the argument for eternalism was there ever a claim that spacelike separated events can influence each other? Let me answer that for you: never.

      See when you're totally ignorant on the subject matter, you will quote mine things that are irrelevant and think it actually means something.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Yeah, spacelike separated events cannot influence each other. Wow. What does that prove?

    So you really didn't read the paper? You in fact just skimmed it.

    They are causally disconnected so they don't need a universal reference frame for the present "now" within that lightcone to be real.

    Or as Daniel says.

    "Philosophers in classical and modern traditions alike can fall into this snare, when they insist on defining “the present” univocally across space as an essential condition for the reality of temporal succession."

    I don't need a universal reference frame for the present in my light cone to be real.

    It's obvious. I don't think you really understand physics. By your own admission you have no formal degree or training nor did you do any graduate work. Also I suspect real advocates of Eternalism wouldn't use your lame arguments.

    • So you really didn't read the paper. You in fact just skimmed it.

      I read it, and I actually can understand it (except the parts where he's vague), unlike you.

      They are causally disconnected so they don't need a universal reference frame for the present "now" within that to be real.

      The question still remains: is there a universal reference frame or not?

      Either there is a single universal reference frame that exists at any given time whose simultaneous events are the only things that exist,

      or;

      there is more than one reference frame that exists at any given time and all the simultaneous events in all those frames exist.

      The first option is presentism, the latter is eternalism. You cannot reject a universal frame and reject eternalism. It is completely incoherent.

      Prove this is wrong.

  • Jim the Scott

    Also if we return to the survey 49% of physicists (PPS) accept B-theory/eternalism but 39% reject both. That is still a third of all physicists who reject both (because let's face it both eternalism and presentism are inadequate concepts) the rest accept a-theory/presentism(11.5%) which means if you add that to the physicist who reject both a slight majority of philosopher of physical science reject B-theory.

    So what is that business again about you defending the majority view? I can do math and clearly the slight majority reject B-theory (the majority of that majority reject both and a minority accepts presentism).

    • (because let's face it both eternalism and presentism are inadequate concepts)

      They are? Prove it. Whatever Danny boy is proposing is not inadequate? You can't even describe what he's proposing and somehow it's a good idea! Hilarious.

      So what is that business again about you defending the majority view? I can do math and clearly the slight majority reject B-theory (the majority of that majority reject both and a minority accepts presentism).

      I'm talking about among physicists, not philosophers of science. But the survey shows that the more you become familiar with the subject matter, the more you accept eternalism.

      If you want to play a numbers game, virtually all categories of philosophers except philosophers of religion are atheists, so I guess that means we should reject god based entirely on that.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Of course! I'm a freakin expert on it.

    So there you have it folks. TT a man with no formal degree in Physics by his own admission who has done no graduate or academic work is an "expert" on Eternalism.

    We should all ignore the MIT graduate who has done graduate work in physics and listen too him.

    Wow!

    >Wow, copying wikipedia!

    Well that is likely more trustworthy a source then someone without a formal degree in physics who professes to know more then actual professionals.

    Also a majority of Physicists and Philosophers of Physical science it seems do reject B theory. According to the survey a majority of them are Atheists so you can't pin it on religion.

    >Where in the argument for eternalism was there ever a claim that spacelike separated events can influence each other?

    I thought you argument was that since they can't (meaning there is no universal reference frame) then Eternalism was true by default?
    That has been your argument and it is lame. But you have a tendency to say things & reverse yourself then you pretend your reversal was what you meant all along. We all notice it.

    • So there you have it folks. TT a man with no formal degree in Physics by his own admission who has done no graduate or academic work is an "expert" on Eternalism.

      You don't need a formal degree in something to be an expert, you just have to have devoted enough time. Besides, there is no "degree" in eternalism. All you have to do is learn SR, a little GR and QM, and understand ontology and logic. All things you know little about.

      Well that is likely more trustworthy a source then someone without a formal degree in physics who professes to know more then actual professionals.

      By that logic when anyone with a PhD says god isn't real you can't say they're wrong because you have no formal degree in physics.

      Also a majority of Physicists and Philosophers of Physical science it seems do reject B theory. According to the survey a majority of them are Atheists so you can't pin it on religion.

      That survey covers philosophers only, not any physicists. In physics eternalism is the dominant view.

      I thought you argument was that since they can't (meaning there is no universal reference frame) then Eternalism was true by default?
      That has been your argument and it is lame. But you have a tendency to say things & reverse yourself then you pretend your reversal was what you meant all along. We all notice it.

      No, clearly you have not read my argument. I argue that there are positive arguments for eternalism being true, like the reality of length contraction, which can only be rationally made sense of given a 4 dimensional world, in addition to the fact that the relativity of simultaneity must be ontologically real and not an illusion, which you have to claim in order to deny eternalism.

      We all notice that you can't help but strawman insidiously.

    • We should all ignore the MIT graduate who has done graduate work in physics and listen too him.

      You're already ignoring every PhD holder in physics who affirms my view, which is the dominant view in physics, so clearly you have no problem ignoring people with better degrees and decades more experience than Danny boy. How much worse can your hypocrisy get? We'll just have to wait for tomorrow.

  • Jim the Scott

    >If there isn't a universe "present" across all of space, what we'd call a universal simultaneity plane or now slice, then there are necessarily more than one, and that means events in one's past and future will necessarily exist in spacetime.

    You don't need one. That is the point. The "present" located in each lightcone is causally disconnected from the others. All that matters is it is clearly real within that lightcone. It doesn't need to be real outside of it since it is causally disconnected.

    >He's trying to say that because every reference frame will have in it a coherent temporal succession of events where cause & effect relationships can exist (timelike separated events), therefore, what? There is no eternalism?

    Rather why does it lead to eternalism as the default? It doesn't. The succession events are causally disconnected(outside the lightcone). If there is a rational being living on the darkside of a planet orbiting Proxima his now is real for him but it is not my now. But both our "now's" are real within our frames but they are not causally connected to each other so saying they are "not real" to each other is meaningless.

    Change is clearly real under SR it's just causally disconnected outside the light cone. Big deal this doesn't mandate Eternalism. It doesn't come close.

    • You don't need one. That is the point. The "present" located in each lightcone is causally disconnected from the others. All that matters is it is clearly real within that lightcone. It doesn't need to be real outside of it since it is causally disconnected.

      But something distant from that event point has to exist, lest you take the absurd view that only you exist. And then you have to answer whether there is a single now slice that exists simultaneous to that event point, or there are multiple. Whether the distant events can cause the event at the beginning of the light cone is irrelevant.

      Rather why does it lead to eternalism as the default? It doesn't. The succession events are causally disconnected. If there is a rational being living on the darkside of a planet orbiting Proxima his now is real for him but it is not my now. But both our "now's" are real within our frames but they are not causally connected to each other so saying they are "not real" to each other is meaningless.

      This particular claim (that every reference frame will have in it a coherent temporal succession of events where cause & effect relationships can exist) is not part of the argument for eternalism. It's used as an argument against eternalism, and I'm simply showing that is false. It does not in any way show eternalism is false.

      Are you so slow that you're confusing arguments against eternalism with arguments for eternalism? Yes.

      Nothing in the argument for eternalism has ever claimed there needs to be faster than light causality. Hence to argue there isn't is a complete strawman!

      Change is clearly real under SR it's just causally disconnected outside the light cone. Big deal this doesn't mandate Eternalism. It doesn't come close.

      Wow. It is apparent that you will perpetually be as ignorant as possible on this subject just as you are on all the others.

  • Jim the Scott

    TT your whole argument has been Presentism is false because of SR (which is absurd because just because we don't know there isn't a universal reference frame doesn't mean we might not discover one. Before Hubble scientists thought the universe was eternal. But of course I don't need no sticking universal reference frame. Daniel has shown that change need only be real within the light cone).

    The rest of your simple minded argument has been Presentism is false therefore Eternalism must be true which is a false/either or argument. Remember the survey 49% of all physicists accept B-theory but the rest(a slight majority) reject it. Of that majority which reject B-theory a majority reject both like Daniel and myself.

    Anyway Presentism is false therefore Eternalism is true is not an argument. This doesn't even deal with Gale's criticism the whole scheme is ill founded......

    BTW you are not a professional Physicist(which I got you too admit). Stop pretending to be one it's embarrassing

    • TT you whole argument has been Presentism is false because of SR (which is absurd because just because we don't know there isn't a universal reference frame doesn't mean we might no discover one. Before Hubble scientists thought the universe was eternal.

      There is plenty of positive evidence already from SR that presentism is false. It's been 113 years of science refuting the presentist's claims, at what point do you say, "Ok, it looks like presentism is false"?

      But of course I don't need no sticking universal reference frame.

      Either there is a single universal reference frame that exists at any given time whose simultaneous events are the only things that exist,

      or;

      there is more than one reference frame that exists at any given time and all the simultaneous events in all those frames exist.

      The first option is presentism, the latter is eternalism. You cannot reject a universal frame and reject eternalism. It is completely incoherent.

      Daniel has shown that change need only be real within the light cone).

      What? Every observer in the universe has a light cone, and those light cones overlap. Do you mean causal relationships are only real in the light cone? Sure.

      The rest of your simple minded argument has been Presentism is false therefore Eternalism must be true which is a false/either or argument. Remember the survey 49% of all physicists accept B-theory but the rest(a slight majority) reject it. Of that majority which reject B-theory a majority reject both like Daniel and myself.

      Nope. Obviously there is possiblism as the in-between. But presentism and possiblism suffer the same flaw: they both have a universal reference frame. So deny the universal reference frame, and you deny presentism and possiblism, and that can only lead you to eternalism. See the logic above and refute it if you can.

      That survey was of philosophers of physical science, not physicists. Damn you are slow.

      Anyway Presentism is false therefore Eternalism is true is not an argument. This doesn't even deal with Gale's criticism the whole scheme is ill founded......

      That's never been my sole claim. I have a positive argument for eternalism. I'm just showing you what your logical options are.

      BTW you are not a professional Physicist(which I got you too admit). Stop pretending to be one it's embarrassing

      This is so dumb. I simply studied the physics and learned the subject matter and have spoken with many top notch PhDs (including Brian Green and Sean Carroll) in physics and they affirm my view. So if I had a PhD in physics and was saying the same thing I'm saying now, you'd simply dismiss me anyway and give into your confirmation bias, as usual.

  • Jim the Scott

    > Eternalism being true would not violate the causal relationships of timelike separated events.

    Stop dodging the issue (yeh that is not going to happen but I try). The issue is causality is real or it's unreal. You are trying to prop up eternalism (as a neo Parmenides move) to shoot down real causality. Well it doesn't matter if there is illusionary causality in eternalism. The question is that causality real? Well the view is incorherent since you must rely on a scientific realism (& yes scientific realism is related to Aristotle after all any text book will tell you he founded the scientific method by laying the ground work) and accept the results of your experiments as real in order to prove SR. Yet you try to conclude SR proves change and causality aren't real? That saws off the limb your sit on. I am out of here. I am going to go watch the new Avengers movie and pickout the violations of the laws of physic like I did with the last Jedi.

    Smell you later amateur.

    • Stop dodging the issue (yeh that is not going to happen but I try). The issue is causality is real or it's unreal.....The question is that causality real?

      Define "causality."

      You are trying to prop up eternalism (as a neo Parmenides move) to shoot down real causality.

      What's "real causality"? Aristotelian causality? Ha!

      Well the view is incorherent since you must rely on a scientific realism (& yes scientific realism is related to Aristotle after all any text book will tell you he founded the scientific method by laying the ground work) and accept the results of your experiments as real in order to prove SR.

      The only thing that's "incorherent" is your sentence. He didn't found the scientific method and even if he did that has nothing to do with scientific realism, which is a relatively modern view.

      Yet you try to conclude SR proves change and causality aren't real? That saws off the limb your sit on. I am out of here. I am going to go watch the new Avengers movie and pickout the violations of the laws of physic like I did with the last Jedi.

      Obviously nuance is not your thing. All I'm saying is that the definitions of causality and change people colloquially use, and that you use in AT metaphysics do not exist on eternalism. Those terms have different definitions. But stupidly, you think that because your definitions of them are false that therefore every moment of time will have the same state of affairs, such that at time t=1 the universe looks exactly the same as it will at time t=3, or t=8 if eternalism is true. This is the most naive, ignorant objection that you expect someone who's never deeply engaged with the philosophy and metaphysics behind SR or eternalism would make. And of course, since neither you nor anyone on this site knows the subject matter, you swallow this ignorance whole.

      Smell you later amateur.

      It would take you 3 years of study to even come close to my level. So the amateur us clearly you.

  • Jim the Scott

    >Define "causality."

    Changes the subject to continue dodging typical. Also to keep his fallacies of equivocations going.

    > He didn't found the scientific method and even if he did that has nothing to do with scientific realism, which is a relatively modern view.

    Because someone who without a professional degree in either philosophy or physics and who likes to make it up as he goes along should be trusted using what ? Faith?

    Here read this.
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method/#HisRevAriMil/"> educate yourself
    (Note that bit where we start with Aristotle)

    > All I'm saying is that the definitions of causality and change people colloquially use, and that you use in AT metaphysics do not exist on eternalism.

    Only if you understand eternalism as a place hold for Parmenides. In which case the standard Scholastic polemic (which you never you just spend your time dodging or coming up with creative ways to argue more non-starters) applies.

    OTOH not all versions of the block universe governed by eternalism in some sense are totally resistant to AT metaphysics.

    As Feser says, being awesome.

    " the block universe of Minkowski is supposed to be governed by laws that are contingent. And if they are contingent, then, the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosopher will argue, they are merely potential until actualized. That means that even if there were no real change or actualization of potency within an Einsteinian four-dimensional block universe, the sheer existence of that universe as a whole would involve the actualization of potency, and thus something like change in the Aristotelian sense (and thus in turn an actualizer or “changer” distinct from the world itself, though that’s a subject of its own)."

    >It would take you 3 years of study to even come close to my level.

    Surely there is a shortcut to complete incompetence? I'll pass I am afraid I am too lazy to put in that much effort & I have too short an attention span...oooooh....shiny.

    • Changes the subject to continue dodging typical. Also to keep his fallacies of equivocations going.

      No just calling out your question begging.

      Because someone who without a professional degree in either philosophy or physics and who likes to make it up as he goes along should be trusted using what ? Faith?

      Right, because only people with PhDs know anything, and are never wrong, except of course when they say anything we don't like, like the majority of physicists who accept eternalism. We can just dismiss them because we don't like their conclusions.

      Here read this.
      https://plato.stanford.edu/..."> educate yourself
      (Note that bit where we start with Aristotle)

      That's not the scientific method, that's a different method which helped create the scientific method, which didn't come until much later. So I'm already educated on the subject.

      Only if you understand eternalism as a place hold for Parmenides. In which case the standard Scholastic polemic (which you never you just spend your time dodging or coming up with creative ways to argue more non-starters) applies.

      The scholastic polemic fails to refute eternalism because it's based on the idiotic strawman fallacy that if eternalism was true, every moment of time will have the same state of affairs, such that at time t=1 the universe looks exactly the same as it will at time t=3, or t=8. This is the most naive, ignorant objection that you expect someone who's never deeply engaged with the philosophy and metaphysics behind SR or eternalism would make.

      It's the ultimate non-starter objection.

      OTOH not all versions of the block universe governed by eternalism in some sense are totally resistant to AT metaphysics.

      As Feser says, being awesome.

      " the block universe of Minkowski is supposed to be governed by laws that are contingent. And if they are contingent, then, the Aristotelian-Thomistic philosopher will argue, they are merely potential until actualized....

      I already refuted that years ago. If eternalism is true then it's "'impossible that an eternally existing universe that never came into being couldn't have existed. We can imagine it not existing, but the reality of it not existing could never be possible. To speak of an eternal block universe as needing to be "actualized" assumes that it did not exist or might not have existed and needed to be actualized by a god of pure act in order to exist. That's impossible if the universe is static and eternal. A static, eternal universe, is in some sense, the ultimate brute fact. And if you try to appeal to some kind of top-down, timeless "vertical cause" (whatever the hell that means) you make the universe as necessary as its "cause" because it could not have been any other way. It makes the idea that god could have chosen not to create our universe impossible because god and our universe would eternally coexist like a pair of conjoined twins. And that begs the question of why this god and this universe (and not any other universe, or no universe) co-exist for eternity. If the theist is really trying to say our universe is contingent on god in this way, then to answer this it seems to me that the only response is a brute fact.

      The notion of movement is also affected by eternalism. Nothing truly "moves" in a static eternal universe in that nothing flows. The universe as a whole is static, and unchanging, and the movement of things is simply an illusion caused by different spacetime slices having a different ontologies. In one slice I'm 30 years old, in another slice I'm 40 years old. There is change from one slice to another, but the slices as a whole which make up spacetime are all static. Thus, the appearance of change or movement is apparent only when comparing static slices of spacetime with one another. In such a universe, no unmoved mover is required since nothing actually moves in the system as a whole. We even have experimental evidence that this is the way the universe works by time emerging from quantum entanglement.

      Second, Feser is trying to apply act and potency references on what happens in the universe, to the universe, making what many atheists argue is the fallacy of composition. We know that within the universe, things have to act on other things to make them change into their potentials (that's why there cannot be free will), but outside of time and space, such notions make no sense. A timeless god cannot actualize a potential because that would require time. A changeless god cannot actualize a potential because that would require change. Thus the very notion of a creating and intervening god as "pure act" makes no sense."

      "Awesome" and "Feser" can never the used together. It violates natural law.

      Basically, if the spacetime block is eternal, unchanging and static, it is just as necessary as god. The whole thing is actual, and need not be actualized by anything because to actualize it would negate the fact that it's eternal.

      Surely there is a shortcut to complete incompetence? I

      Oh there is. It's called religion ;)

  • Jim the Scott

    >There is plenty of positive evidence already from SR that presentism is false.

    Nobody cares. Castellano's argument doesn't require it. What is it with you and your fundamental inability to get non-starter arguments? As an intellectual exercise I don't exclude the possibility but I don't need it anymore then I need a Young Earth Creationist scheme to believe Genesis.

    Will you stop wasting people's time?

    >The first option is presentism, the latter is eternalism. You cannot reject a universal frame and reject eternalism. It is completely incoherent.

    Bilateral thinking. You are a textbook case. Sorry but you really can't by dogmatic fiat decree only these two view(which you ad hoc narrowly define) are possible. Especially since Gale as cited by Castellano pointed out the flaw in the whole scheme.

    All this is elementary(I am still thinking of Benedict Cumberpatch from the movie I just saw...Infinity War was awesome..if you see it don't leave during the credits you will thank me later).

    False either/all fallacy. I don't need no stinking universal reference frame.

    • Nobody cares. Castellano's argument doesn't require it. What is it with you and your fundamental inability to get non-starter arguments? As an intellectual exercise I don't exclude the possibility but I don't need it anymore then I need a Young Earth Creationist scheme to believe Genesis.

      Apparently you care because you said, "just because we don't know there isn't a universal reference frame doesn't mean we might no discover one."

      And it does matter because you can't deny the universal reference frame presentism and possibilism depend on and deny eternalism. To do so is simple incoherent.

      Will you stop wasting people's time?

      You should be telling that to all the churches.

      Bilateral thinking. You are a textbook case. Sorry but you really can't by dogmatic fiat decree only these two view(which you ad hoc narrowly define) are possible. Especially since Gale as cited by Castellano pointed out the flaw in the whole scheme.

      There are times where you do only have 2 options: either a god exists, or not; either Jesus died for our sins, or not; etc. This dichotomy is the real deal: You cannot reject a universal frame and reject eternalism. It is completely incoherent.

      Prove me wrong any time.

      All this is elementary(I am still thinking of Benedict Cumberpatch from the movie I just saw...Infinity War was awesome..if you see it don't leave during the credits you will thank me later).

      I will keep that in mind thanks.

      False either/all fallacy.

      It's either/or not either/all. Damn, even when you try to call me out you still can't even be coherent.

      I don't need no stinking universal reference frame.

      Which means there is more than one subjective reference frame, whose now slice of simultaneous ontological events will be just as real as yours, and since other reference frames will contain events you consider past and future, your past and future must be as ontological as your present, hence eternalism my friend. You simply cannot deny a universal reference frame and deny eternalism. Can you seriously take a few moments and calmly and rationally think about the possibility that this is true without being in a mindset that is solely focused on trying to make a comeback against what another wrote?

  • Jim the Scott

    BTW TT you claim to have read the TLS yet you dare to ask us to "define causality"?

    You really haven't figured out by now how we define causality?

    I will give you a hint. It's in the last superstition.

    I would get up and get my copy from my room and give you a page number but if you don't learn to do things for yourself then you will never get anywhere in life son.

    • BTW TT you claim to have read the TLS yet you dare to ask us to "define causality"?

      You really haven't figured out by now how we define causality?

      I know you're an Aristotelian on causality. But you can't assume your definition of causality as if to say it's already proven real. That's called begging the question. I'm just asking you to justify your question begging.

      I will give you a hint. It's in the last superstition.

      Which means of course it's wrong.

      I would get up and get my copy from my room and give you a page number but if you don't learn to do things for yourself then you will never get anywhere in life son.

      Obviously you're too slow to realize that me asking you that is not done out of sincere curiosity as to what you think, it's to point out your question begging. Perhaps I should write to you as if you have a developmental disability from now on?

  • Jim the Scott

    >But something distant from that event point has to exist, lest you take the absurd view that only you exist.

    This is a new one right out of left field. I don't see why I have to (as per my example) causally connected to things in other light cones in order to exist? They exist in their own light cone not mine. I exist in my light cone not theirs. To talk about our simultaneous existence is meaningless. We don't need to have one to each exist in our own lightcone.

    >And then you have to answer whether there is a single now slice that exists simultaneous to that event point, or there are multiple.

    Beg the question much? You are answering my response by assuming Eternalism.
    That is an argumentative fallacy.

    >Whether the distant events can cause the event at the beginning of the light cone is irrelevant.

    The thing is you can't prove the "now" within a lightcone isn't real. And talking about the "now" that exist simultaneous to the other "now"'s in other lightcones is meaningless as there is no simultaneous connection between them.

    Castellano talks about this....you didn't read the paper. You are reacting to sound bites I quote and Dr. Dennis B quotes.

    Stop faking it.

    • This is a new one right out of left field. I don't see why I have to (as per my example) causally connected to things in other light cones in order to exist? They exist in their own light cone not mine. I exist in my light cone not theirs. To talk about our simultaneous existence is meaningless. We don't need to have one to each exist in our own lightcone.

      Your first sentence is incoherent. You really need to learn basic grammar. The number of mistakes in your writing indicates you have a learning disorder. One mistake here and there is fine, but you have this in virtually every comment.

      This is not that hard: you are not the only thing that exists. So far so good? That means other things distant from you exist. So far so good? What exists distant from you at any given time? Is there a single universal ontological slice of time whose events are all that exists, or not? Those are your only two options. The former is presentism. If that is false, than events that you consider future or past will exist at a time you consider present. And this would be true for all other people as well. Hence, presentism is false, and that leaves you eternalism, since possiblism is not an option given the falsity of a universal ontological slice of time whose events are objectively present (which possiblism has).

      So logically speaking, you want to say all the things that force you to accept eternalism, yet you want to deny it because it causes problems with your religious dogma.

      Beg the question much? You are answering my response by assuming Eternalism.
      That is an argumentative fallacy.

      More incoherency from you. I literally just asked if there is a single now slice that exists simultaneous to that event point (presentism), or there are multiple (eternalism). So giving you the option of presentism or eternalism is assuming eternalism. Slow learner indeed.

      The thing is you can't prove the "now" within a lightcone isn't real. And talking about the "now" that exist simultaneous to the other "now"'s in other lightcones is meaningless as there is no simultaneous connection between them.

      There doesn't need to be simultaneous causal connection. This is one of the biggest fallacies out there, peddled by dotard. What now in the light cone? Every observer has at any time a future and past light cone. So what? Eternalism doesn't deny this. And the fact that every observer has at any time a future and past light cone does nothing to deny eternalism - which as I mentioned is derived from SR which is where we get the concept of the light cone. "Now" is all subjective. It's as subjective as "here."

      Castellano talks about this....you didn't read the paper. You are reacting to sound bites I quote and Dr. Dennis B quotes.

      And it's completely irrelevant. The argument for eternalism never claims causality can travel faster than light. Ironically, one of the ways one denies eternalism you have to claim light travels faster than the speed of light but is never measured as being faster.

  • Jim the Scott

    BTW

    Feser is planing a new book & has a post on Time.

    https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2018/05/godel-and-unreality-of-time.html

    "Much more on time, the A-theory versus the B-theory, time travel, and related matters in my forthcoming philosophy of nature book. Stay tuned."

    I can't wait to read it. I thought as a curtesy I would give TT a heads up so he can make up some type of response before he misreads it.

    Wait who are we kidding? He is not going to buy the book as that is giving money to Theists. But if by some miracle he did he would have (mis)read two books by Feser..

    • "Much more on time, the A-theory versus the B-theory, time travel, and related matters in my forthcoming philosophy of nature book. Stay tuned."

      I'm sure it will be filled with inaccuracies, bad science and philosophy, just like everything else he's written.

      Wait who are we kidding? He is not going to buy the book as that is giving money to Theists. But if by some miracle he did he would have (mis)read two books by Feser..

      Perhaps I'll download this one illegally. And misreading Feser I did not. I simply pointed to the obvious flaws in this case for god, ones that those who turn off their brains in favor of church dogma can't see.

  • Jim the Scott

    >You're already ignoring every PhD holder in physics who affirms my view,

    They are the minority 49%. The slight majority reject Eternalism. The majority of that group reject both. But this doesn't change the fact you are not an expert. You have not earned it. Stop pretending otherwise. It is just sad.

    >This particular claim (that every reference frame will have in it a coherent temporal succession of events where cause & effect relationships can exist) is not part of the argument for eternalism.

    Duh!

    >It's used as an argument against eternalism, and I'm simply showing that is false. It does not in any way show eternalism is false.

    You haven't shown it is false. You merely disbelieve it and assert that disbelief. At best you argue Either/or without justification.

    >So if I had a PhD in physics and was saying the same thing I'm saying now, you'd simply dismiss me anyway and give into your confirmation bias, as usual.

    Well I've seen Feser casually debate an Atheist Physicist named Dr. Oerter and even thought Oerter made his mistakes(he is a physicist not a philosopher after all) he never made some of the dozy's you have inflicted on us. For the most part he was an orderly thinker. You OTOH, well I've reached my cruelty quota for the day.

    • They are the minority 49%.

      Um, I don't know how many times I have to educated you on this, byt the PhilPapers survey only covers philosophers, not physicists, I'm referring to both philosophers and physicists with PhDs in the relevant subject matter,.

      But this doesn't change the fact you are not an expert. You have not earned it. Stop pretending otherwise. It is just sad.

      I am and the fact that you can't refute a single thing I've said on the subject demonstrates your claim is one giant bluff.

      Duh!

      Which means you're admitting your own comment is nonsense then.

      You haven't shown it is false. You merely disbelieve it and assert that disbelief. At best you argue Either/or without justification.

      I have. I've shown it's a giant strawman because eternalism never claims there's faster than light speed. To claim this is the most ridiculous thing ever, aside from claiming a logically unnecessary god is necessary.

      Well I've seen Feser casually debate an Atheist Physicist named Dr. Oerter and even thought Oerter made his mistakes(he is a physicist not a philosopher after all) he never made some of the dozy's you have inflicted on us. For the most part he was an orderly thinker. You OTOH, well I've reached my cruelty quota for the day

      Except that you haven't refuted anything I've said, your delusion brain thinks so but no one is convinced. Your ignorance is not an argument. And arguments from authority don't work with science - or reality. They only "work" in the confines of your church. (here's a tip: don't bring dogmatic religious thinking to science, it doesn't work that way)

  • Jim the Scott

    >You don't need a formal degree in something to be an expert, you just have to have devoted enough time.

    Sorry but I know some young earth creationists who have devoted their lives to "studying" evolution and it hasn't improved their bad arguments.
    If you live to 100 (& God bless you if you do) & keep doing what your are doing then that will be a double tragedy.

    First if there is a God then you wasted your life fighting him with bad arguments(adding insult to injury). If there is no God you wasted your life(you only change at existence before the void takes you) making bad argument that are of no good use to the "truth" you serve.

    I offer my sincere pity.

    • Sorry but I know some young earth creationists who have devoted their lives to "studying" evolution and it hasn't improved their bad arguments.
      If you live to 100 (& God bless you if you do) & keep doing what your are doing then that will be a double tragedy.

      They don't study science, they study "creation science" which of course isn't science. I study real science by real scientists who are experts on the subject matter.

      First if there is a God then you wasted your life fighting him with bad arguments(adding insult to injury).

      Huuuge "if".

      . If there is no God you wasted your life(you only change at existence before the void takes you) making bad argument that are of no good use to the "truth" you serve.

      Except my arguments aren't bad. They are only considered bad by ignorant people who know nothing of the subject matter.

      I offer my sincere pity.

      Save it for all the people who've wasted their lives obsessing over a god and afterlife they only imagined was real.

  • Jim the Scott

    >They don't study science,

    You have that in common. I would also add philosophy to that...

    >Um, I don't know how many times I have to educated you on this, byt the PhilPapers survey only covers philosophers, not physicists, I'm referring to both philosophers and physicists with PhDs in the relevant subject matter,.

    And according to that paper a slight majority of philosophers of physical science reject eternalism.

    >I'm sure it will be filled with inaccuracies, bad science and philosophy, just like everything else he's written.

    Which proves your irrational bias also it shows the fact you still have no formal education in physics or philosophy and you irrationally profess greater competence then those who do.

    I wish Sean Carroll was here to discuss eternalism. We might get as decent, educated, informed and at least coherent argument. We will never get that from you.

    Ever.

    So I am leaving you to the tender care of Stephen Edwards till he too gets tired of your grave ignorance, bad arguments & reading comprehension deficiencies.

    It's tiresome having you repeat the same errors over and over and over and over......etc.

    Bored now.

    • You have that in common. I would also add philosophy to that...

      Oh I do. You "study" until it contradicts church dogma, then you turn off your brain.

      And according to that paper a slight majority of philosophers of physical science reject eternalism.

      Acceptance of eternalism is by far the largest category of adherents. No other category even gets past the single digits.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c3674e6686b20666e9af9304528a3614e027b542fcac5f4e62943357fc73650b.png

      Which proves your irrational bias also it shows the fact you still have no formal education in physics or philosophy and you irrationally profess greater competence then those who do.

      Nope, it will accurately predict what he will write, since you cannot be accurate defending a false metaphysic like Thomism, no matter how smart and capable you are. And I do have formal education in physics and philosophy, you must have missed that. And since you agree with the majority of physicists who accept eternalism, then you too are claiming you profess greater competence then those who do. You simply can't see what a hypocrite you are.

      I wish Sean Carroll was here to discuss eternalism. We might get as decent, educated, informed and at least coherent argument. We will never get that from you.

      Yet you still can't show how my argument is incoherent......telling.

      So I am leaving you to the tender care of Stephen Edwards till he too gets tired of your grave ignorance, bad arguments & reading comprehension deficiencies.

      Talking to yourself in the mirror again?

      It's tiresome having you repeat the same errors over and over and over and over......etc.

      Here's an idea: try actually refuting my arguments instead of the strawmen you construct in your head.

      Bored now.

      I can definitely see how beating the same strawman for months is tiring. But you're doing it to yourself.

  • Just as some people popularly think the big bang was an actual explosion in the middle of a void (instead of the sudden emergence of not only matter and energy but time and space) some people popularly think the incarnation was God transmuting himself into a human being.

    That's not what the big bang is. The big bang is not a "sudden emergence" of space and time. That assumes that was "nothing" and then.... bang! Something. The standard big bang model simply says there was a first moment, when time=0, called the singularity. There was no "nothing" before it because "before" makes no sense when time=0. Hence the big bang is not an emergence of something from nothing, it's the expansion of the universe from a starting singularity. You start with something, you end with something bigger.

    God does not change his divine nature into a human nature at the incarnation. The divine person of the word unites to a human nature without mixing the two natures but the union that results is eternal. So the untied natures (divine and human) can't be separated but they don't mix and God cannot in principle change his nature into anything. Maybe Samantha the Teenage Witch can on Nickelodeon(or is it Disney?).

    So god is like soap that "unites" with filthy water without mixing and it stays "united" eternally. I wouldn't buy that soap. Also, since god is timeless, spaceless, and changeless, how does god "unite" with a human nature at a particular point in time and space? All of those things require being in time, space, and change.

    We don't do the heresy of Eutyches. His false views are not our [dogma].

    Fixed it for you.

  • Jim the Scott

    Just one more.

    >That's not what the big bang is. The big bang is not a "sudden emergence" of space and time. That assumes that was "nothing" and then.... bang!

    Why does someone have to assume there was nothing? Also what is wrong with that assumption if you believe in metaphysical brute facts(like you do sometimes)? I assume that there was nothing but saying the big bang is a sudden emergence of space, time, matter and energy isn't at odds with any of these views. You can say "the big bang is the sudden emergence of space, time etc" and believe any of these views.

    > Something. The standard big bang model simply says there was a first moment, when time=0, called the singularity. There was no "nothing" before it because "before" makes no sense when time=0. Hence the big bang is not an emergence of something from nothing, it's the expansion of the universe from a starting singularity. You start with something, you end with something bigger.

    This is philosophically incoherent. Since before T=0 it makes no sense to speak of time & things then there was nothing before time.

    Nothing is a lack of something and there was no time, space , matter or energy before T=0 thus a lack of those somethings thus nothing.

    Now hypothetically there could have been a something like the Singularity(but then where does that come from and why did it bang?) or a Harte/Hawking state(same question). Or there could have been nothing but neither invalidates my description of the big bang.

    You don't understand either science or philosophy and you equivocate and pettifog.

    You just can't argue and you don't argue in good faith.

    Go play with Stephen till he tires of you too.

    • Why does someone have to assume there was nothing?

      To emerge is to appear from a time when it didn't exist. Hence for the universe/spacetime to emerge, it must "come from" a time when it didn't exist, which is inaccurate.

      Also what is wrong with that assumption if you believe in metaphysical brute facts(like you do sometimes)? I assume that there was nothing but saying the big bang is a sudden emergence of space, time, matter and energy isn't at odds with any of these views. You can say "the big bang is the sudden emergence of space, time etc" and believe any of these views.

      Because it's inaccurate. You can't claim something is a brute fact if it's already false. Brute facts have to be about facts. Does your brain not get that? There never was nothing. That's the point, so to say the universe emerges from nothing is technically false. It's a figure of speech.

      This is philosophically incoherent. Since before T=0 it makes no sense to speak of time & things then there was nothing before time.

      That's what's actually incoherent. There never is "nothing." Hence the universe doesn't come from nothing.

      Now hypothetically there could have been a something like the Singularity(but then where does that come from and why did it bang?) or a Harte/Hawking state(same question). Or there could have been nothing but neither invalidates my description of the big bang.

      The singularity doesn't "come from" anywhere, that's the whole point. Thinking it must come from somewhere is precisely the problem. It's to assume there is something/somewhere else that exists apart from all of spacetime. So yes, it does invalidate what you say, since it's technically inaccurate.

      You don't understand either science or philosophy and you equivocate and pettifog.

      So the guy who says that the universe comes from nothing even though nothing doesn't exist isn't equivocating? Wow. Mirror talk!

      You just can't argue and you don't argue in good faith.

      Hmm. Looks like a physicist with a PhD and 30 years experience agrees with me.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a3a92abd641cea8feb4a3f3cd2eb631ef93f831a7ba1df66ee095ec860d61b13.png

      So yeah.

      Go play with Stephen till he tires of you too.

      Why do that when you keep responding?

  • Jim the Scott

    >Acceptance of eternalism is by far the largest category of adherents.

    I thought you said only Philosophers of Physical Science where competent to judge this? You dismissed the fact philosophers of science in general reject Eternalism & Presentism?

    Can't keep your story straight. You just don't argue in good Faith TT. Everyone sees that.

    • I thought you said only Philosophers of Physical Science where competent to judge this? You dismissed the fact philosophers of science in general reject Eternalism & Presentism?

      I never said only philosophers of physical science were competent to judge this or that philosophers in general aren't. I said, "Philosophers of physical science are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism."

      That means of all subsets of philosophers, Philosophers of PS are the most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism, and all other groups will be less likely. It's like I'm talking to a child.

      I mean, it's like you never ever read what is actual written by me or anyone. Your only goal is to construct the most absurd strawman anyone else says. Clearly you don't argue in good faith.

      Can't keep your story straight. You just don't argue in good Faith TT. Everyone sees that.

      Wow, an incredible case of looking in the mirror.

  • Jim the Scott

    It's hard to ignore both irrational arguments and raw slander.

    The Big Bang "isn't" a sudden emergence of time, space, matter and energy at the beginning? Since when?

    It's not a complete or exhaustive description but it is accurate and the view the Big Bang was an explosion in a void is wrong(in the literal sense). As if there then was a "center" to the universe we could travel too. Under a correct understanding of the Big Bang there is no "center" or outer boundaries of the explosion per say.

    • The Big Bang "isn't" a sudden emergence of time, space, matter and energy at the beginning? Since when?

      Since you learn to not confuse language with reality, as Brian Greene says. It looks like you're the kind of person who never digs deeper than the popular level of science. See my comment above.

      It's not a complete or exhaustive description but it is accurate and the view the Big Bang was an explosion in a void is wrong(in the literal sense).

      No it is not. An accurate description of the big bang is there is a singularity, that expands into the universe we see today. There is no nothing and then a singularity popping into existence or emerging. Now this is all on the assumption that our big bang is the absolute first moment in time. That may or may not be true. But if it is true, "a sudden emergence of time, space, matter and energy at the beginning" is technically inaccurate.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I mean, it's like you never ever read what is actual written by me or anyone. Your only goal is to construct the most absurd strawman anyone else says. Clearly you don't argue in good faith.

    Look in the mirror buddy and you do that to everybody here. Not just to me. Even people who try in spite of yourself to treat you better then you deserve.

    Go talk to Stephen. I am bored with you.

    • Look in the mirror buddy and you do that to everybody here. Not just to me. Even people who try in spite of yourself to treat you better then you deserve.

      More projecting.

      Go talk to Stephen. I am bored with you.

      Clearly you're not since you keep responding.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I never said only philosophers of physical science were competent to judge this or that philosophers in general aren't. I said, "Philosophers of physical science are the subset of philosophers most likely to be familiar with eternalism/presentism."

    We call this a distinction without a difference. Pettifoggery on the move.

    • We call this a distinction without a difference. Pettifoggery on the move.

      Nope, we call this above a lame excuse to save face when shown to be wrong and always acting in bad faith.

  • Jim the Scott

    >No it is not. An accurate description of the big bang is there is a singularity, that expands into the universe we see today.

    No that is just more precise then what I said. Also it seems Stephen Hawkings doesn't like the Singularity since he thinks it's an opening for God? (A Thomist does not care one way or another).

    >There is no nothing and then a singularity popping into existence or emerging.

    Except the laws of physics break down so that neuters' Hume's objections to supernatural intervention(not that Thomists care one way or another). Thus Hawking's efforts to get rid of it.

    > But if it is true, "a sudden emergence of time, space, matter and energy at the beginning" is technically inaccurate.

    Sorry but I never said "a sudden emergence of time, space, matter and energy at the beginning" out of nothing. I left it unqualified. As a Thomist & a Catholic & I could believe it came from from a Singularity(of the Penrose type) or a Hartle/Hawking State or literally "nothing" and the Classic Theist Triune God of Catholicism can create what he wants.

    A Christian Physicist like Robert T. Russel or Catholic Physicists like Stephen Barr had no problem with it either.

    • No that is just more precise then what I said. Also it seems Stephen Hawkings doesn't like the Singularity since he thinks it's an opening for God?

      I'm just being technical, as opposed to being colloquial. This is exactly how people confuse language with reality: the big bang is colloquially described as an emergence of something from nothing, and it makes people mistakenly think that's what literally happened.

      (A Thomist does not care one way or another).

      Clearly a Thomist does since he wouldn't even respond if he didn't.

      Except the laws of physics break down so that neuters' Hume objections to supernatural intervention(not that Thomists care one way or another). Thus Hawking's efforts to get rid of it.

      It does no such thing to Hume's objections.

      Sorry but I never said "a sudden emergence of time, space, matter and energy at the beginning" out of nothing. I left it unqualified. As a Thomist & a Catholic & I could believe it came from from a Singularity(of the Penrose type) or a Hartle/Hawking State and a Classic Theist God of Catholicism can create what he wants.

      To suddenly emerge is to appear from not existing prior, which is not accurate when talking about the big bang, since it doesn't begin to exist from non-existence, in the technical sense. And god can't create something that did not ever not exist. Hence you indeed can "believe" god created but you cannot prove or demonstrate.

      Christian Physicist Robert T. Russel or Catholic Physicists like Stephen Barr had no problem with it either.

      Pointless. Osama bin Laden had no problem with porn yet his religion bans it.

  • Jim the Scott

    >I'm just being technical, as opposed to being colloquial.

    Nice backpedaling. Then your original accusation of error was itself in error.

    >To suddenly emerge is to appear from not existing prior,

    So if I suddenly emerge from an entrance to a room that means I didn't exist prior to entering a room? Seriously?

    You just make up what you want people too mean then attack that meaning.

    That is why you cannot make even one rational argument on any subject.

    Anyway I note Stephen is ignoring your attempts to change the subject to your goofy views on mono gods or the Trinity and is trying to focus on necessity. Let's see what happens.

    I wish someone could come here that can actually argue for eternalism.

    • Nice backpedaling. Then your original accusation of error was itself in error.

      No, because you don't know the technical, only the colloquial.

      So if I suddenly emerge from an entrance to a room that means I didn't exist prior to entering a room? Seriously?

      When talking about the universe, there cannot be in principle a room or anything that can hide a preexisting thing that becomes uncovered, and I don't know if you're aware, but we're talking about the universe, not you "emerging" from an adult book store.

      You just make up what you want people too mean then attack that meaning.

      That is why you cannot make even one rational argument on any subject.

      It's the exact opposite. We're debating the origin of the universe "emerging" (which I will repeat, there cannot be in principle a room or anything that can hide a preexisting thing that becomes uncovered) and you change the subject to mean you coming out of a room - which is a completely different context - all so you can claim I'm saying something absurd. Do you not see how this is just another lame attempt by you to strawman me and claim I'm not rational? We can all see that's what you're incessantly doing.

      Anyway I note Stephen is ignoring your attempts to change the subject to your goofy views on mono gods or the Trinity and is trying to focus on necessity. Let's see what happens.

      You must be confusing "goofy" for Edwards' claim that the trinity is necessary. There's no attempt by me to avoid something with him.

      I wish someone could come here that can actually argue for eternalism.

      I wish someone on this thread nicknamed the Slow Learner would actually learn the subject matter of SR to try and refute my arguments for eternalism. No hope.

  • Jim the Scott

    > And god can't create something that did not ever not exist. Hence you indeed can "believe" god created but you cannot prove or demonstrate.

    Aquinas didn't believe you could prove God created the world either. Like with the Trinity he thought you could only know that via divine revelation. You didn't know that? His philosophical arguments presuppose a past eternal universe. That was in the TLS which you "claimed" to have read......I wonder thought.

    • Yeah, he had top down causality. Thing is it entails necessitarianism, which is a view no one can justify.

  • Jim the Scott

    >>Christian Physicist Robert T. Russel or Catholic Physicists like Stephen Barr had no problem with it either.

    >Pointless. Osama bin Laden had no problem with porn yet his religion bans it.

    Wow.