Sunday, November 23, 2014

GOD IS IRRELEVANT by U. G. Krishnamurti



One of the most polarizing thinkers of the 20th Century.

"If you want your neighbor to believe in God let him see what God can make you like." 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szf0Wfiv69Y

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 U. G. Krishnamurti: Creating Hell From Heaven

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PkLU96ppNQ

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Monday, November 10, 2014

THEOLOGIANS AS TROUBLERS OF THE MIND- Jersey Flight



Can there come any challenge from theism? Is theism not finally manifest for what it truly is/ an existential waste of time? There is no tragedy here, but only the greatest liberation! What is the challenge of theism, and from whom will this challenge come? Is there anything left of theism?

So long ago theism presumed to speak in the world, but it was confronted by an insurmountable problem: what did it have to say? The theist does best when he is silent, but when he is silent he soon finds that he is condemned to silence. The motions of life have nothing to do with theism (it is purely the insinuation of theism, that theism is in any way applicable to life). There is no need to confront this sphere. We have moved beyond this stupidity. 

Let us dare the scholars of theism... let us dare these emotional wranglers (which is another word for theologian) to challenge us where we stand. Can they move us? Can they in any way make contact with the vitality and urgency of life? Nonsense! Such men speak of fables. (Their entire corpus is the challenge of whether or not they can get other men to entertain their fables in the context of life). Be gone with these petty troublers of the mind; for we have better questions to pursue. 

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

REASON AND FAITH IN LUTHER- Brand Blanshard

REASON AND BELIEF 1951-1953 GIFFORD LECTURES
BY: BRAND BLANSHARD

From Reason and Belief chapter 5: Reason and Faith in Luther. Only the latter portion of the chapter has been extracted because it is the relevant section to Luther's theology of authority. Blanshard's criticism is scathing, producing wide ramifications for protestant theology. 


SCRIPTURE

We have now seen where Luther stood on the claims of reason and faith. There is another question that must be answered if we are to understand his central position. What was the ultimate authority to which he appealed in judging these claims? It was not, of course, reason, for reason, like all our faculties, was vitiated by the fall. And if it was the illumination of his own private faith, was it not presumptuous to impose his peculiar convictions as certainties upon a dubious and resistant world? Certainly the Catholics would contend that in putting his private judgement against the vast and ancient authority of the church he was playing the cat that looked at a king, and was only adding to his offensiveness by being self-righteous about it. Did he have anything but his personal judgement to offer against this massive authority?

Yes, he said, he had. Indeed he had an ally that could put to rout single-handed all the popes, cardinals, and councils that might be arrayed against him. This was Scripture. The authority of the Bible was final and infallible. This the church in fact admitted; it rested its own authority upon such passages as the statement to Peter, ‘Upon this rock will I build my church.’ Where then did Luther differ? He differed in holding that the Bible and the church might conflict, and did in fact conflict, while the church held that this was impossible. It was impossible because the church reserved to itself the right of interpreting the Bible; what the Bible meant could be only what the church said it meant. This Luther denied. He knew that there had been bitter battles within the church as to what the Bible taught, even on the cardinal points of the faith, that Arian doctrine had prevailed at one time and Athanasian at another, and that in attempting to construe the teaching of Scripture councils and popes had disagreed with each other and with themselves. But even with complete agreement, their claim to final authority in interpreting Scripture would still be false; for it rested upon the same foundation of dubious history and apologetics as the claim of the Roman bishop to be the infallible Vicar of Christ. We shall not follow the laborious operations of sapping and mining that Luther directed against that foundation. We have already examined it for ourselves, and have seen that his conclusion about its infirmity, whatever the value of his particular arguments, was in substance sound.

The Bible need no longer be read, then, through ecclesiastical spectacles. Each of us is at liberty to go to it himself and to make of it what he can. On the whole it has a plain story to tell; we could hardly suppose that Deity should will to communicate to us something of the first importance and yet deliberately confuse and mislead us. Does this mean that we are all equally qualified to act as interpreters? Clearly not. Luther, who had been at much pains to master Hebrew and Greek, and who translated the entire Bible, prized Biblical scholarship greatly. Nevertheless the prime qualification for understanding Scripture was not mastery of the original tongues, or historical knowledge, or philosophical acumen, but something wholly different—the same thing, indeed, that was needed for salvation, namely faith. The gospel was good news from a supernatural source. This news, as we have seen, was imperceptible by the human ear or eye; both the news and the means of receiving it had to be supplied from above. With this tremendous aid, a wayfaring man though a fool could read the text and see an unearthly light shining out between the lines; without it, the scholar or the philosopher could wrestle with the text for a lifetime and still only succeed in losing the spirit in the letter.

Furthermore, the Bible was a library of uneven books. For all his bibliolatry, Luther was less of a fundamentalist in his attitude toward Scripture than were his Catholic critics. Their attitude was formally expressed by the Council of Trent, in session when Luther died, which laid it down that the Bible with all its parts must be taken as inspired by the Holy Ghost. On the other hand, Luther held some of these parts in so low an esteem that he would have excluded them from the canon if he could. The central message of Scripture was that of man's redemption through the cross, and the importance of the various parts could be measured by their relevance to this nuclear revelation. The heart of the Bible, for Luther, was Romans, followed closely by Galatians, for in these two books, on which he wrote extensive commentaries, the great message came through with the brightest purity. Strangely enough, the synoptic gospels were less important, for the details of Christ's life are of less moment to us than his sacrificial death. Much further out toward the periphery are such books as Jude and Revelation, while the book of James was steadfastly put down as ‘an epistle of straw’. The reason for this animadversion is plain and revealing: James stresses works rather than faith; it even says: ‘pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world’ (1:27). Luther felt this to be clearly at odds with the all-important teaching of Romans, and could account for it only by supposing that inspiration was here muted and distorted by a very imperfect instrument.

One might expect that, by applying the same standard, he would find little of significance in the Old Testament. It is true that he made small use of its historical books and would have excluded Esther altogether. On the other hand he gave a central place to the Psalms. This was in part, no doubt, because he found in them, as have countless others, some rare devotional literature. But there was another reason. He thought he saw in them what few modern critics have been able to verify—continued references to, and foreshadowings of, Christ. ‘He finds the death and resurrection of Christ so clearly foretold in the Psalter, and the condition and essential nature of Christ's kingdom and of the whole Christian world so distinctly prefigured, that the Psalter might well be called a little Bible.[1]’ The Old Testament prophets, and particularly Moses, who was the greatest of them, were also important as forerunners. As regards Genesis, Luther had no doubt that its ultimate author was the Holy Spirit, though he thought that the actual placing in Moses’ hands of the tables of the law was done by angels rather than by the Deity himself. The Old Testament was not the work of men, except as they served as more or less faithful secretaries. It is valuable not only for the poems, prayers, reflections, and stories that have proved so great an aid in the expression of religious feeling, but above all for the thousand adumbrations, prophecies, and foretastes that make it a preface to the gospel.

Both Testaments could thus be read and understood by the religiously qualified layman. Luther often protested Augustine's remark that he would be unable to believe the Bible unless assured of its truth by church authority. The man of faith has an inner light that enables him to appropriate Biblical truth, and even to separate the grain from the admitted chaff in the sacred text. ‘You see how the words of the Gospel explain themselves, and have their own glosses, so that it is not at all necessary that other and human words be mixed with them.[2]’ This was part of the new priesthood of the believer.

IS SCRIPTURE THE FINAL AUTHORITY?

There were two difficulties in this view which Luther never resolved. For one thing, the line of defence moves in a circle. What warrants our so reading Scripture that the death of Christ means more than his life, and the teaching of Romans more than the teaching of James? It is the possession of faith. What warrants us in making such faith the avenue to truth? It is the teaching of Romans rightly interpreted. Faith is our warrant for the meaning of Scripture; that meaning is our warrant for the primacy of faith. Thus Luther was defending the authority of faith by an argument that assumed that authority, and defending the authority of Scripture by an argument that rested on Scripture itself.

He might reply that in special circumstances an argument may be circular and still be valid. In this he would be right, and it is worth pausing to see why. Suppose you attempt to argue that some criterion of validity is the right one; how are you to appraise the arguments offered for it? If you appraise them by some other criterion than the one you are defending, you implicitly surrender your case; if you appraise them by the criterion for which you are arguing, you are going round in a circle. Still, if this criterion for which you are arguing happens to be the true one, the arguments it thus warrants will after all be valid, and your case, though circular, will not be vicious. Sooner or later, every criterion of validity must rest upon itself. Descartes saw that even the force of reason must come back in the end to its own clearness and distinctness of insight.

Luther might, so far, be right in contending that the meaning of Scripture is visible only to faith while faith must turn for its authority to the meaning of Scripture. How are we to tell whether he is or not? The normal way to proceed for a theologian or anyone else who has a case to make is to state it as clearly as possible and to ask whether the case, so stated, commends itself to his hearers when they look at it without bias. And the trouble is that when Luther does so state his case it does not commend itself to the majority of his hearers. To him, as he reads his Genesis, it seems self-evident that a human being could not have written it, and as he reads Romans, that the Pauline doctrine of the atonement is true without qualification. Most of us, when we consider these doctrines, have to confess that they are far from self-evident. Luther replies that this is because we are looking at them with eyes made myopic by sin, and that if these were replaced by the eyes of faith, we should see that what before was not even plausible is really irresistible truth. We ask him how we too can get this faith and its attendant vision. He answers that there is nothing we can do to get it, that it is a gift granted to some and denied to others on no assignable ground. We ask whether, even though there is no way to get it, there is not some way to identify people who have it. He answers that people who have it will display in their lives a unique superhuman love. We ask him for examples; does he himself have it in greater measure than, say, the Pope? He answers with confidence that he does. If we agree, we shall presumably end as Lutherans. And if we disagree? He would then tell us, with an embroidery of eloquent invective, that we do so through stubborn perversity. We explain that we did not mean to be perverse; we meant only to report faithfully how the matter appeared to us. To which Luther would answer that such fidelity to appearances is a peculiarly serious sin, the idolatry of our own reason. We ask him how we can avoid it. He answers: we cannot avoid it; we are predestined to it by the God who made us. But is not the God who made us a loving God? Yes, comes the menacing answer, but not so loving that if you continue in this line of questioning he will not commit you to an eternity of pain.

Most modern inquirers would perhaps turn away at this point in aversion, and suggest that what we have here is merely a saddling on Scripture of private prejudice, together with a projection on the universe of a sadism that is more effectively dealt with by Freud than by argument. This may be true. One can hardly read Luther's life in detail without recognising in his violent rages, his alternations of exalted ecstasy and black depression, his seizures and convulsions, his encounters with the devil, and his world-defying self-confidence, the marks of an abnormal mind; and the inference is at least plausible that this abnormality had its influence on his religion and his theology. But I do not propose to pursue this inquiry, because even if we could show, as we cannot with certainty, how far his convictions were linked to psychological causes, we should not thereby show them wrong; a belief may be held on irrelevant grounds and because of non-rational pressures, and still be true. Thus the possibility so far remains—a possibility grim and terrible—that Luther may be right. For all we have seen, the world may in fact be governed by implacable injustice that has doomed the majority of men to something worse than destruction. Whether Luther is right or not can be determined only by placing the circle of argument within which he moved in a wider context than his own. Is it true, as he maintains, that the world is divided into hostile realms of faith and reason, and that history is the drama of their rivalry? It is a question we cannot evade.

IS SCRIPTURE COHERENT?

We said, however, that there were two difficulties with Luther's view of Scripture, and we must turn for a moment to the second. This is the familiar difficulty that the Bible, though the product of inspiration, seems to contain contradictions and errors of fact. The Bible, Luther says, is ‘alone the fount of all wisdom’; it is ‘the book given by God, the Holy Spirit, to His Church’. Yet we have found him admitting that if he had his way he would throw out of it both Esther and James; he had no hesitation in recognising errors of fact in both the Old Testament and the New, and he points out himself that at times they contradict each other. For example, Moses says in the Old Testament that Abraham received the call to go to Canaan while he still lived in Haran; Stephen, recounting the event in the New Testament, says he received the call before he arrived in Haran.[3] Stephen seems to make a second mistake in the same chapter: he says that when Jacob's kindred were called about him they numbered three score and fifteen souls, whereas the number as reported in Genesis is three score and ten.[4] Here either the New Testamen\\or the Old, or both, must be in error. How was Luther to reconcile his view of the Bible as divinely inspired with his frank admission that it contained many palpable mistakes?

His answer was in substance as follows. We must recognise in the Scripture two orders or levels of truth. On the higher level are those teachings of transcendent importance that are necessary to salvation; on the lower level are teachings that are not thus necessary, such as biographical and historical details. There is no avoiding the admission that on the latter level many errors have crept in. But there is nothing disastrous about this. The Holy Spirit must, after all, breathe through human instruments that are sometimes tired, sometimes inattentive, sometimes, like the unfortunate James, a little stupid. They do not keep themselves always alert as the dictation flows in upon them, and the dictating Spirit has been tolerant of this remissness. So devoted heads have occasionally nodded, and quills with the best of intentions have set down very strange things. But one does not impeach an earthly author for the distractedness of his secretary, and still less should one lay impious charges against the Author of Scripture because of defects in human reception. When Luther turned to inspiration on the higher level, however, his attitude abruptly changed. That the Bible, whose prime purpose was to convey to man the means of salvation, should have distorted and perverted its chief message was a totally inadmissible suggestion. In its central teachings we have the pure and unadulterated milk of the divine word.

This expedient of distinguishing central from peripheral truths is often used in defending Biblical inspiration, and we have already considered the use made of it by Catholic theologians. It proved to be inadequate there. On grounds of merely human probability, it is unlikely that minds prone to frequent errors of fact should, when they come to matters of higher significance, become incapable of error, and one finds on closer inspection that what this probability suggests did happen in fact. For it is certainly not true that on all those points which either Luther or the church would regard as essential to salvation the report of the Bible as we have it presents a harmonious picture. Luther implicitly admitted this in his attitude toward James. For him the most essential doctrine of all was that of salvation by faith as opposed to works. On that point Paul and James disagree. Luther's method of dealing with this is to pronounce Paul (and himself) right, and, because James disagreed, to question the right of his epistle to a place in Scripture at all.

No doubt for some purposes this is an effective method; one could establish the consistency of Scripture on any doctrine at choice by excluding as uncanonical passages that opposed it. We saw that the Roman church has very effectively preserved its unity of belief by cutting off as heretical those who have disbelieved. But in the one case as in the other, a test conducted judicially will produce a result opposite of the one desired. Take any set of Biblical books accepted by reputable authorities, Catholic or Protestant, but not selected for their espousal of certain doctrines, and it is probably fair to say that they will contain divergencies of teaching even on such cardinal points as the idea of God, the relation of the divine and the human, the moral ideal, and the means of salvation. The Protestant appeal to the authority of Scripture ends in difficulties as insuperable as the Catholic appeal to the authority of the church.

THE ARROGANCE OF PHILOSOPHY

We now have before us Luther's essential convictions on reason, faith, and Scripture. What are we to say of them? Considering that he remains a towering figure in the history of religious thought, it is curious how little the truth or falsity of his teaching is now discussed. To be sure, teachings similar to his have been put forward by neo-orthodox theologians and canvassed in the seminaries, but the discussion has been theological rather than philosophical; and even those who are styled Lutherans seem to accept him unreflectingly as part of their religious heritage. Contemporary philosophers, preoccupied with other problems, regard him with indifference as beyond the pale of their interest. He would be dismissed by most Catholics, not with indifference but with aversion, as the man who wilfully destroyed the unity of the church. Still another attitude appears in Erik Erikson's Young Man Luther, which takes him as a psychological case-study and undertakes to show, for example, how Luther's earlyhatred of his father projected itself in his conception of a fearful and vengeful God. My own interest differs from all of these. It is that of the speculative inquirer who, aware of the historic influence of Luther's teaching, wishes to raise the one question whether it is true. If it is, its acceptance, as he maintained, is important to the last degree. If it is not true, the business of the philosopher is to say so, and to say why.

This Luther would deny. It is not the business of philosophy, he insisted, to pry into these matters; and to assume its right to do so is to assume him wrong at the outset. But it is worth pointing out that he is here asking of us something with which it is hard to comply. Luther's is only one of many forms of faith that have proclaimed themselves to lie beyond rational criticism. Approaching them from the outside, the inquirer does not know beforehand which of them is sound, or whether any of them is. If he accepts Luther's warning that there is one of them upon which the use of reason will probably lead to damnation, his only safe course will be to refrain from using his reason on any of them at all. And this, while it may pave the way of some to an acceptance of Luther's message, will expose them and many more to exploitation by charlatanism; it will remove their one shield of defence. For the defence that lies in faith is not open to them; it is not to be won by effort or thought; it is something conferred from above according to no discernible pattern. We may wait, hope, and pray for it, but without any assurance of a result. To declare us thus impotent in securing the insight of faith and at the same time in peril of perdition if we try to secure it through the exercise of such faculties as we have is surely to beat intelligence down into cowering helplessness. The only road to safety lies in an obscurantism in regard to one's own faith that leaves one defenceless against other and false faiths.

But of course one does not prove a belief untrue by the undesirability of its results in practice. It may be, for all we have seen, that there is in fact such a Deity as Luther believed in, ready to inflict upon us unending and terrible suffering for the attempt to follow reason in these matters. On the other hand, it would be hard to forgive Luther and theologians like him if they were found to have leaped to this conclusion irresponsibly. For then they would have done far more than make an avoidable error on a particular point; they would have sinned against the very light of the mind. They would have sought to invest the free exercise of thought with a vague, vast, crippling, gratuitous fear. Nor is this the sort of fear that troubles superstitious minds alone; it is a sort that tells with especially numbing effect on those who are sensitive and imaginative. Pascal, for example, was an intelligence of remarkable power, and behind his famous ‘wager’ was the clear perception that while to believe against the evidence was an evil, it was a smaller evil than an eternity of torture, and that it was therefore better to drug and beat a recalcitrant intellect into submission than to give it a freedom that would bring destruction. This kind of theology, through appeal to an overmastering fear, puts a premium on deliberate ignorance and even on intellectual dishonesty. There is no doubt that it has acted in countless cases to repress and discourage inquiry. Luther's denunciation of reason in religion was so confident and forcible, and his audience so vast, that if he was wrong he was catastrophically wrong, retarding for centuries the advance of intelligence in the West.

His reply would presumably be that what he was really retarding was the indulgence of human pride. And we must agree once more that he is right if his account of the relation of faith and reason is the correct one. For then any attempt by reason to determine or criticise the content of faith will indeed be presumption. But it must be pointed out that to those who are not in the fold and who have comprised then as now the majority of mankind, charges of pride are stones thrown from a glass house. There is nothing on the face of it impertinent or presumptuous in using those powers which have proved our best and only reliance in understanding nature for the further attempt to understand our origin, duty, and destiny; such inquiry implies an awareness that light is lacking, and a desire for more. Further, as Goldwin Smith remarked, ‘Not every doctrine is humility in the preacher which is humiliating to man.’[5] Luther, while insisting that inquiry into these matters was a work of sinful pride, held that true humility was displayed by the person who claimed personal and infallible assurance from on high that his own interpretation of Scripture was right, even when it differed from the whole Catholic tradition; who held that his own view of the limits of reason was right, even if it involved correcting Aristotle and Aquinas. That philosophers have been guilty at times of undue pride in scaling speculative heights is no doubt true, though they would perhaps also agree with Bradley's remark that ‘there is no sin, however prone to it the philosopher may be, which philosophy can justify so little as spiritual pride’. Indeed the founder of Western philosophy insisted that if he philosophised at all, it was because he was so acutely aware of his ignorance. When philosophers in this tradition are met with the accusation of pride by one who claims that his accusing accents are not those of pride but merely of omniscience, they are likely to have their own views as to where the charge is most appropriately laid.

The reflective inquirer need not be deterred, then, either by threats or by charges of arrogance from raising the question whether Luther's account of reason and faith is true. The essential points in that account are that man has been vitiated by original sin, that reason is incompetent in the sphere of religious truth, and that faith as distinct from works is the key to salvation. We must consider these points in order.




NOTES------------------------------------------------------


[1] Köstlin, op. cit., II, 236.

[2] Briefe, I, 228; quoted by Köstlin, op. cit., I, 322.

[3] Genesis 12:4–5; Acts 7:2.

[4] Genesis 46:27; Acts 7:14.

[5] Rational Religion and Rationalistic Objections (London, Whittaker, 1861), 25–6.

Friday, October 31, 2014

THE ETHICS OF BELIEF- Brand Blanshard



REASON AND BELIEF 1951-1953 GIFFORD LECTURES
BY: BRAND BLANSHARD

CHAPTER 11: THE ETHICS OF BELIEF

[only the latter portion has been extracted]
 


THE STAKES OF RELIGIOUS BELIEF

We have looked at only two proposals for justifying a belief that goes beyond the evidence, but I think we should find the others similarly wanting. The natural conclusion from this line of argument is that belief is the same thing everywhere, and does not have one set of conditions in physics and chemistry and a different set in religion, that the ethics of belief, the meaning of intellectual honesty, is everywhere the same. This, I suggest, is the unavoidable conclusion. Belief should follow the evidence, neither stubbornly denying what it establishes nor impulsively running ahead of it and embracing as true what it does not warrant. When put in this way, probably most religious persons would accept the conclusion. They would, at any rate, draw back from the suggestion that the religious conscience is a coarser and less scrupulous organ than the scientific.

Yet it must be admitted that in the practical difficulties that arise the two fields are hardly comparable. There is little talk in scientific circles of an ethics of belief. Most of the issues of science offer small temptation to our feelings to believe in one way rather than another. Of course when a man is offering a new theory to which he has tied his professional hopes, he is only too likely to overrate the evidence in hand and ignore what makes against his theory. It is said that Newton, as he approached the end of his calculations about gravitation and saw the great law coming nearer, could not trust himself in his excitement and turned over the final calculations to another hand. But here was a theory with tremendous implications, in which he as its discoverer had a personal stake. Most scientific problems might be settled in any one of many ways so far as most of us are concerned; we should find it difficult to work up any sort of passion for or against the binomial theorem or Ohm's law.

The situation as regards religion is different. Whether the world is governed or not by love and wisdom is an issue of large concern to us; whether we shall live again after death is an issue to which no one who loves life and cares for others can be indifferent. The achievement of a positive belief on these points alone may alter the complexion of our world and give us a fresh infusion of buoyancy and hope. It is entirely intelligible that persons who have such beliefs should look with something like moral loathing on those who would introduce into these all-important matters the detachment, the cool appraisal of evidence, the reservations and doubts and hesitancies, of the rationalistic mind.

Even for those with the talent and leisure for inquiry such objectivity is difficult. And for the rest of us, the reply will come, it is out of the question. You cannot ask the plain man to sickly his whole life over with the pale cast of thought. He has no time for these ultimate speculations; he must get on with his work; and what he needs from the philosophers and the theologians is an outlook that will enable him to do that work with a heart and a will. Refinements about going beyond the evidence are all very well for the philosopher who can afford such luxuries, but they are lost on men who barely know what evidence means. Professor Dorothy Emmet asks with point, ‘Whoever worshipped a tenable hypothesis or a balance of probabilities?’

Every person of common sense must feel the force of this. It seems to present us with an unwelcome dilemma: we must give up either serenity or intellectual honesty, either the peace that goes with confident beliefs on ultimate things or else that saving salt of scepticism that is needed for integrity of mind. Is there any way out?

We should be merely deceiving ourselves if we thought that there was any wholly satisfactory way out. Something valuable must go. St Francis was a great and happy man; so was Socrates; and in giving up the hope either of the childlike faith of St Francis or the questioning spirit of Socrates, we should be losing much. But it is idle to say that we can have them both. Plant Socrates’ mind in the soul of St Francis, and the pearly gates and jasper towers would come tumbling down in irreparable ruin. Plant the soul of St Francis in the mind of Socrates, and the world of essence and implication and logical distinction would seem insupportably grey and inhuman. A man may try to be either Francis or Socrates, but if he tries to be both he will assuredly be neither.

One cannot have the blessings at once of an uncritical faith and a critical intelligence. ‘But then,’ it may be said, ‘no one in these days wants an uncritical faith, and there is no reason whatever why if the dogmas of one's faith are true at all a critical intelligence should not disclose their truth and thus confirm one's faith. There is no necessary conflict between faith and reason.’ But we have seen in the first two parts of this book that between reason and the sort of faith that is found in two important forms of current religion there is a very extensive conflict. And remembering how much in the way both of peace of mind and of moral direction and sanction are bound up with religious belief, the impatient reader may well ask whether such doubt-provoking inquiries are worth the price.

TRUTH THE COMPASS OF THOUGHT

In reply there is one thing that must be said unequivocally. To think is to try to get at the truth, and the person who professes to be doing that will be a dupe if he consciously allows any thought of his own or other people's advantage to affect his conclusions. He will be worse if he does this as a professional philosopher, a person maintained and paid to think as straight as he can on problems of difficulty and to make his conclusions known. Everyone has been repelled by the parlour atheist whose spirit of contradiction is obviously belted to a noisy little dynamo of self-importance within, or the lover of paradox who would rather coin a new epigram than see a new truth. ‘An ethical sympathy in an artist’, said Oscar Wilde, ‘is an unpardonable mannerism’. We are not convinced. Neither are we by those books on apologetics or Christian evidences in which the overwhelming importance of reaching the right and edifying conclusion held the writer's mind in a straitjacket. In my youth I thought Mark Hopkins’ Evidences of Christianity a great book. When I return to it now I see that Mark Hopkins was so good a man, if one may say so, that it is idle to go to him for the truth; when the ark of salvation was at stake, he could afford to treat the evidence cavalierly, because he knew beforehand what it proved and had to prove. I agree that a man is on a higher level if his intellectual compass habitually veers toward human good than if it veers to party or self-esteem. But as a thinker he has no business to let it veer toward any pole but one. Truth lost through noble motives is just as truly lost as if one were deceived by some malicious demon.

SCEPTICISM AND MORALITY

It may be said that this somewhat self-righteous line may do for a philosopher, but that before he sows his doubts abroad he may well think what they involve for the great majority of people who lack the way and the will to become philosophers. The whole-hearted acceptance of religious conclusions means much, both emotionally and morally, to numberless people; doubt of these conclusions, to say nothing of their rejection, robs them of their efficacy. ‘You destroy what these people find precious, and give them nothing in its place.’ There are philosophers today who look down on all such objections from a great height. I do not belong to their party. Agreeing that knowledge is a great good, I think that hope and peace and happiness are great goods also, and I can conceive a situation in which it would be better for mankind to remain in permanent error on some matter of belief if this were the price of happiness than to know the truth and be unhappy. Pedantic and cavilling intellectualists in these matters are, as James* thought, bores. But several things need to be said.

First the notion that either men's morality or their happiness is bound up with any set of dogmas about ultimate things seems to me untrue. It is unquestionable that religious belief may affect their motives for right doing in various and potent ways, but to say that apart from such beliefs we should have no ground for discriminating good from evil, right from wrong, is irresponsible. Our knowledge that love is better than hatred, happiness than misery, enlightenment than ignorance, is not an inference from theological premises but an independent insight which may be had with equal clearness by Christian, Buddhist, and secularist. It may be replied that this may be correct in theory but that practical morality is so entwined with belief that the two stand or fall together. But practical morality does not rest on so tremulous a base that in order to keep it standing we must surround it with a veil of illusion as to what it really stands on. No doubt if people have supposed their morals to rest on their theology, they will go through a period of bewilderment if that theology totters. But if they are reflective, they will soon see that morality has a much firmer base than any of the speculative dogmas on which it is supposed to be built. If they are not reflective, they may fly about aimlessly, but thoughtful persons can hardly be asked to keep their candle under a bushel for fear that some human butterflies should singe their wings at it.

There is a somewhat similar connection between belief and happiness. Religious dogmas may contribute to happiness; indeed, as McTaggart said, they may ‘change the whole aspect of heaven and earth for those who believe in them’. Nevertheless they do not seem to be essential to happiness. People of all faiths have been happy; people of all faiths have been unhappy; it is probable that such things as health and temperament have more to do with happiness than any theological belief. The general presumption must surely be that one's happiness is more secure if it is accompanied by a true apprehension of the nature of things. These premises are perhaps enough for us to go on. If no dogma is essential to happiness, and happiness is more likely with the truth than without it, inquiry into truth need not be inhibited by worry about the consequences of what it may uncover.


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* Blanshard refers to the Pragmatist philosopher William James, he has been discussing his work, "The
Will to Believe."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

BELIEF IN GOD- Jersey Flight


The stupidity of a man who believes in God is precisely the fact that he believes in God. Why we feel the need to prolong this stupidity, is perhaps an even greater stupidity. Such a man claims that his belief is relevant to life, when in fact, it is the enemy of life. If we would be relevant men, if we would speak and act in the context of life, then our belief must proceed from the basis of life. God is the opposite of all that reality is.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

THE STUPIDITY OF PLANTINGA REVISITED- Jersey Flight



"The theist has an easy time explaining the notion of our cognitive equipment's functioning properly: our cognitive equipment functions properly when it functions the way God designed it to function." Plantinga essay: Theism, Atheism, and Rationality

It would seem we could not be direct enough: how could Plantinga possibly know this! Further, there is a major equivocation here, Plantinga falters on his use of the word "explain." If the theistic appeal to an imaginary God counts as an explanation, then how can Plantinga legitimately criticize any explanation (unless of course his argument is one of special pleading)? 

The theist has an "easy time explaining," which amounts to a vague appeal to God. The entire notion of "proper function" is taken from a Naturalistic framework and then directed back at the justification of theism. But how is this possible? Naturalism does not end in theism. He that starts in Naturalism (with the authority of Naturalism) cannot simply usurp this axiom for one he likes better. Behold the arbitrary and convenient procedure of theism! 

"Our cognitive equipment functions properly when it functions the way God designed it to function?" 

How in God's name could Plantinga possibly know anything about God, let alone God's so-called design? (Not to mention Plantinga accepts the process of evolution). It would seem Plantinga is true to the fallacy of metaphysics: because a material object exists, therefore a non-material thing (which is still a kind of object) must exist. [you can contrive it however you want.]

Cognitive equipment exists. Function does occur. "Proper function," which is something that can only be deduced in contrast, most certainly has a probable existence. The Plantinian fallacy is to add some other component to these realities, in other words, because the physical component exists, "therefore there is a supernatural component as well..." BECAUSE (and this is the vital point) we, as Naturalists, have such a hard time surmounting the objections of skepticism in relation to the physical, hence theism's justification of the supernatural!

This can easily be seen in the case of morality. No one denies that morality exists, the problem occurs when the theist tries to bring in his strange notion of "objectivity." In other words, he tries to deduce the existence of "objective morality" from the existence of morals. The way he does this is to attack morals from the false vantage of objectivity. It is no different with Plantinga. In order to establish, that belief in God is rational, he begins with a generic concept of God (which is the only safe concept of God)... thereby insinuating that this vague notion qualifies as an answer to all the questions left blank by Naturalism. Plantinga's justification of God is contingent on equivocation; it is an argument from silence; it is a god-of-the-gaps fallacy. Where Naturalism is said to provide a deficient answer (because according to the theist it fails to meet a set of epistemological standards) the theist simply exempts himself from these standards, which is to say, he evades his own burden of proof! The theist's answer is not really an answer at all! This is easily proven: how exactly does God qualify as an explanation of our cognitive equipment's functioning properly? [Here we must remember that Plantinga demanded a specific answer from Naturalism.] Not to mention, the entire notion of cognitive equipment (as well as that of function) is itself deduced from the premise of Naturalism.  

In order for our cognitive equipment to function properly it must function the way God designed it to function (which Plantinga knows because?), therefore we know it is functioning properly when men believe in God. 

We know it is functioning properly when it affirms a belief, that in any other respect, we would normally have to prove.        

          

    

              

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

JUNG'S PRIMITIVE PSYCHOLOGY- Jersey Flight



"The psychologist must also remember that certain religious convictions not founded on reason are a necessity of life for many persons." Carl Jung, The Basic Postulates of Analytical Psychology, Chapter IX of Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Published by Routledge & Kegan Paul 1933, translated by Cary Baynes.

While this concept of necessity has a legitimate psychological function, the function itself is primitive and short-sighted. What Jung fails to see is that man is a product of evolution inasmuch as he is a participant in evolution. The entire basis of Jung's approach to psychology is easily refuted by noting the difference between Neanderthals and modern Europeans. Essentially, Jungian psychology seeks to crystallize the primitive (it cannot move forward)! This means Jung is focused on preserving that which is out-dated as a means of stabilizing the individual's psychology... Jung would condemn a man to the past (as he has no way of bringing him into the future).

The cultural superstitions of the Neanderthal (which were at one time so essential to their survival) have long gone extinct. They have been surpassed. Indeed, is it not fitting to ask: did Neanderthal go extinct because he could not transcend these superstitions? What Jung tries to do is preserve these instincts, but the problem with this is that they are hostile to the future; they clash with the transformation of evolution. (One can only wonder if this can even be called psychology)?
 
"General conceptions of a spiritual nature are indispensable constituents of psychic life." Ibid.

We can only ask the question; in what sense are these emotive precepts indispensable? Perhaps they are destructive? (It would seem Jung has no foresight of the future).

"Their relative absence or their denial by a civilized people is therefore to be regarded as a sign of degeneration."
Ibid.

This is the exact opposite of the case. Their preservation is a sign of degeneration in the historical context of evolution. Jung has no power to help men into the future; he would preserve the childishness of the child. He would affirm the superstition of the past, which is to say, leave men in their delusion. (One can only wonder if this can even be called psychology)?

"Whereas in its development up to the present psychology has dealt chiefly with psychic processes in the light of physical causation, the future task of psychology will be the investigation of their spiritual determinants."
Ibid.

Again, this is completely backwards. Where does Jung get this idea that the future task of psychology must be the investigation of superstition? A healthy psychology must move in the opposite direction. Freud seeks to expose superstitions; Jung seeks to affirm them. [But then again, perhaps man's irrational beliefs do hold a key to his psyche?]

"The spiritual aspect of the psyche is at present known to us only in a fragmentary way."
Ibid.

So far as I know there is no spiritual aspect (whatever the fu*k Jung means by this) to the psyche aside from that of delusion. What are these fragments? Can they be stated in the form of propositions?

"We have learned that there are spiritually conditioned processes of transformation in the psyche which underlie, for example, the well-known initiation rites of primitive peoples and the states induced by the practice of Hindu yoga. But we have not yet succeeded in determining their particular uniformities or laws. We only know that a large part of the neuroses arise from a disturbance in these processes."
Ibid.

Here Jung seems to assume that these so-called neuroses are negative. (Though I am willing to admit their immediate negative effects, one might think of a child who is learning to swim... such a transformation is a kind of crises). A culture sustained by religious belief will be shattered by the fall of that religious belief (the same is true of individuals)... What Jung cannot do is provide us with a theory of transformation [re-birth], instead, Jung simply affirms nihilism unto the immaturity and despair of the individual. His is not a transformative psychology, but a psychology of primitive preservation. (One can only wonder if this can even be called psychology)?

"The cognitive illusion of an ever-present and keenly observant God worked for our genes, and that's reason enough for nature to have kept the illusion vividly alive in human brains. In fact, the illusion can be so convincing that you may very well refuse to acknowledge it's an illusion at all. But that may simply mean that the adaptation works particularly well in your case."
Jesse Bering, The Belief Instinct, pg.196

Where a discussion on this topic might lead:

One can try to explicate the positive psychological features of religious belief, but in all reality, in order for our analysis to have some type of value, we must not state the obvious conclusion from the religious person's perspective, confirmation bias. If religion plays a part in psychology it plays a negative part, which is precisely the direction of our analysis. To merely view the positive aspect is to remain within the patient's psychosis. A good psychologist must do more than simply affirm a man's delusions (though I admit delusions have their place).

Religion certainly plays a role in psychology, but the positive aspect only arises if one remains within the patient's psychosis. To stand back and view religion from the outside is to see a mind conditioned by authority. So far from remaining within; a good psychologist should go after the circuits which account for the patient's lack of resistance to authority. The infrastructure before Jung (which is the infrastructure he merely assumed) is precisely the infrastructural which must be unlocked and challenged. Not religion, but the conditioning which necessitates the psychological need for religion, is the thing we must go after.

Friday, September 12, 2014

JERSEY FLIGHT'S DEFINITION OF CHRISTIANITY

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Christianity is teaching your children to bring love into the world so as to make it a better place. It is the exact opposite of materialism (as in teaching your children to amass goods), it is instead, teaching them to give and be content with little or nothing at all. It means teaching your children to love those that society has thrown away... it means forgiving and rising above the petty squabbles of a fading earth; Christianity [should be] the ultimate in social maturity as a testimony to the love of God. But this is precisely what Christianity is not! A petty squabble is precisely what Christianity is.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

THE STRONGEST ARGUMENT AGAINST GOD

(or the ultimate dialectic against theism) by Jersey Flight



Theism has a particular way. In every case it bears the burden of proof. Theism is something that attempts to disrupt life. This disruption is important to the dialectic against theism. 

How does theism begin? It begins the same way. [Only those who are desperate seek out the platitudes of theism, hoping to find security in its mask of authority.] Theism approaches life; it seeks to strangle life by the vicissitudes of dogma, that is, to complicate life by confusing it with theology. 

The dialectic of theism runs thus:

Breaking in on life, the theist has no choice but to ask the question we have never felt the need to ask ourselves: "Do you believe in God?" 

This is the question which accounts for the beginning of the dialectic of theism, as well as the end of the dialectic of theism. With this question theism seeks to disrupt life.

And the reason theism must ask this question, is because no healthy man or woman would seek to complicate life with such a tedious and unnecessary ontology. The man who lives finds no place for God! God is the antithesis of life! [These are the conclusions of a healthy mind.]

It is precisely at the point, of this unnecessary question, that we have the power to destroy theism. [There is no need to directly interact with the question.] As we said, in every case theism bears the burden of proof. Thus we reply: 

'Can you justify the act of pursuing this question? Why should I use my time to consider this?' 

If the theist cannot answer this question, without resorting to special pleading, then we will have legitimately surmounted the dialectic of theism without having to directly engage the dialectic of theism. The theist bears the burden of proof, and if he cannot substantiate his claim, above that of every other arbitrary, wild claim... until the theist can justify (or warrant) a conversation on something as tedious and unnecessary as God, there is no reason to waste our time on his semantics. (Nothing could be more impractical to life than the question of God)!

The point is that we are already engaged in the act of living life when this question tries to break in on life. What this means is that we have no need of God. In this sense the question of God functions like a kind of red herring... it is literally something that pulls us away from life. 

The argument that will be made by the theist, to counter the proficiency of our dialectic, is that we are somehow defective without a knowledge of God. The theist will try to instill a kind of subtle despair or insecurity. But how can his line of reasoning proceed when we are successful at life? Do we need God to be moral? (Keep in mind every notion of God is specific). Do we need God in order to obtain the necessities of life? When the theist fails to infect life with insecurity he will turn to the desperate tactic of eternity. He will claim that life goes on forever and that we need God for the advent of eternity. But again, in every case the theist bears the burden of proof. Now we are no longer having a conversation about God, now the question has to do with eternity and all the semantics that accompany eternity. [Even if the theist was a master, at this mysterious and abstract dialectic, the chances of him being able to fuse his idea of God, with his defense of eternity, is nearly impossible. Once again, he turns to despair.]

After we ask the question, of the relevance of the question of God, there are not many places the theist can turn. The reason for this is because our question, not only has its origin in life, but is directed back at life. The same cannot be said for theism: theism is directed away from life! What the theist ultimately seeks to do is subject life to an ideology which has nothing to do with life, in essence, the theist seeks to dominate life with his abstract ontology. This provides him with the delusion (sense of power) that he can control and explain life.

If the theist can get us to play his sophistical game, then in a very real sense, he has already won the exchange. The very fact that we are taking the time to probe something as abstract and arbitrary as God, proves that we are presupposing the importance of the question of God. But why should we assume that this question is important? This is the theist's burden to bear because it is the question he must ask as a proponent of theism, if he would put forth the relevance of theism, as he would seek to assault life with theism. And if he cannot justify the act of his sophistry, then we have every right to ignore his question. There are many questions in life, but none of them are as unnecessary and disruptive as that of theism.               

I suspect the majority of this dialectic will prove to be too advanced for the common theist. In their minds this is the most important question a man could ever ask, but what they don't see is their special pleading. Anyone can make this claim, about any particular ontology, unicorns or smurfs, and thereby draw us into their web of sophistry. But life is too short to proceed this way! Let the theist first justify the act of pursuing this question, and then, and only then, will we proceed. (Keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the theist's problems; should he manage to warrant this question as a legitimate question of life, he would then be met with an onslaught of legitimate resistance). It is not our responsibility to warrant this question for the theist, and we are fools if we assume its validity.

My hope, is that in the future, I will have the chance to display the power of this dialectic in action.  

   
  


Thursday, August 21, 2014

THEISM BEFORE THE WATCHING WORLD- Jersey Flight



"That “religion is a private affair“ only compels us to be neutral and not to take part in religious questions, when these only refer to intimate convictions and to the conscience." Rosa Luxemburg 

Religion is in a state of retreat; we have literally mopped-up the apologists; all the disciples flee to solitude. Not only is it hard to find an opponent to debate, but as time goes on, we find more and more reasons not to waste our time with such debate, what we might call, a sophistical frolic of words.  (And this is not because we have lost the exchange, but because we hold the higher ground; we have literally gained the upper-hand). The only thing the contemporary theist knows how to do is posture

It is now possible to refute theism by common sense. The analytical theist's fought ever so hard to avoid this conclusion, but no one was listening, no one cares for the absurdity of their pedantic ways. It would seem their analytical games are only good for elite scholars!

I cheer as the sheep run to their caves; such panic, such insecurity signifies the beginning of a new era. The church is going away, nay,  it has already lost its influence. Every day the archaic foot-hold of superstition recedes. The religious view is not merely eccentric; not merely something society tolerates from the platform of enlightenment (though this is true), but something that is irrelevant to existence. Everyday we do without it, by god our whole lives we have been without it! The only person the theist can find, as a candidate to indoctrinate, are men and women of despair. It feeds on the terror men feel at the prospect of being alive; at not having some kind of mystical, metaphysical certainty. 

Religion claims to speak for the conscience, to stand for morality, but this is no different from the time religion claimed to speak for the universe. To mock the religious believer has now become a legitimate form of refutation... what we are saying is that such tactics actually work, they have a pragmatic value. (Even twenty years ago this was not the case, but things have changed, my how they have changed!, the church has retreated to the shadows). Her scholars are afraid to discourse because they know the outcome of their thesis. The exchange is a total loss. What is left is mere formality; the church claims the to be the perfect sage of piety, to guide man's way, but make no mistake, this was not by choice! Her original song was that of truth, she was the mother of authority, but now she is the broken harlot that hides in the cliffs from the terror of the strong wind. She is ashamed of her own shadow.  

The future of religion is religion as preference; religion as a man's subjective taste. But this is altogether destructive to the ontology of religion itself. It can no longer claim to speak in the name of God; it can no longer put forth the omniscient-view, it has lost its hold on truth, nay, it has lost its hold on man (it never had the truth)!  And now it must compete as a kind of eccentric and outdated aesthetic (which we confidently surmise, will only lead to its further demise). 

The honest man knows that it is not the ideas of religion that make him happy, but his joy has its origin in the experiences of life, not phantoms or groundless, authoritarian ideals. The wise man makes the most of the life he has, he does not waste his life living for the error of another.  

I honestly wonder if there are any apologists left? What more does theism have to say? The evolving mass of mankind has grown weary of this ancient superstition, we are made nauseous by this psychology. It hurts one's head to play such needless games with such serious disciples (most specifically when the subject warrants jest)... but there is still an irony here... whenever we actually play with these contorted theist, they have no choice but to fall-back in full retreat. They have nothing to say; their noble dialectic has been shattered! The caves are occupied; the great defenders are nowhere to be found. Very slowly, but very surely the church retreats from the watching world. If a man would hear about God he must now go to the darkest cave.                      

Saturday, August 16, 2014

GROWING BEYOND ATHEISM- Jersey Flight



Is capitalism compatible with atheism? The question should be, 'how can capitalism be compatible with Atheism?'

An Atheistic view of the world is a materialist view of the world, and this means the conditions of society find their root in the material.

If Atheism is, in any sense, a Humanistic philosophy, then it must equally think in terms of Humanity. An Atheist eschatology is very distinct from a theistic one, that is to say, we know we must rely on ourselves to create a better world because there is no after-world; there is no God to make the world better for us.

Is our goal to live together in harmony? Is our goal to thrive as a species, then how in gods name, could we not be concerned with social theory?

There is a major weakness in Atheism/ which is the Atheist's obsession with the outdated, irrelevant propositions of theism. One cannot live in the negative (as the negative) without also wasting one's life. Fuck A-theism... where is the positive philosophy of Humanism? Where is the Atheist vision of society? Little minds say this is not important... but what are they doing aside from playing sophistical, theistic games? How much power these little, insecure minds feel when they respond, when they refute the ignorant theist! The Atheist is addicted to the act of crushing the theist, but is his sense of self so small that he needs such a petty and simple victory in order to feel that his life is fulfilled? 


One must get to the point in Atheism where they grow past Atheism; where they are no longer merely responding to theists! Atheism is that which must be transcended! If not one will forever remain in the grip of theism, which is to say, theism will determine the nature of our discourse in that we will forever be the refuters of theism.  

Our duty is to change the world, to impact the world, to strive towards the creation of a better world, and for this, whether we like it or not, we are forced in the direction of economics and social theory.  

The stage after Atheism must be the study of a good society from the basis of materialism.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, 11, 1938 translation of Marx’s original. 




---A LETTER TO MY FELLOW FREETHINKERS---

I say this because I care; because I want my fellow Atheists to be informed, to storm the world with beauty and intelligence; to strive for a comprehensive future and not just a negative critique of superstition.

(I change all the time because I am constantly learning, and nothing assists in this process more than other people). The people we meet (can) have a very profound impact on our life. My favorite thing is meeting new people, and not just meeting new people, but making new friends, true friends!

Some time back I had the privilege of coming into contact with a very learned individual. He was an autodidact (self education person, much like myself). We got around to speaking on the phone; we talked about everything from Deconstruction to Deconversion... but the really important thing is that he inspired my focus toward social theory. [Now at first this might not seem very profound, altogether insignificant, but allow me to give you the context.]

He did a series of lectures on Atheism and Humanism; there was one line that struck me with a certain kind of force: "the failure of Atheism is that it does not have a grasp or consciousness of social theory, and this will limit its place and effectiveness in the world." I realized that this was true. We cannot hope to change society if we have not thought about what it takes to make a good society. It will not be enough to merely critique theism; Humanism has a positive connotation and seeks to move in (or at least it should) a practical direction!

Since that time my friends, I have not simply been concerned with the negative critique of theism, but even more importantly, with the positive attributes of society. If we are thinkers; if we believe in harmony, unity and peace, enlightenment, how can it be any other way?

A full and robust Atheism must be more than a critique of theism; it must reach toward the goals of Humanism in trying to create a good society. And we, above the failure and hatred of all the world's religions, are just the people to do it!

humbly yours,
Jersey Flight




 

Monday, May 5, 2014

EVOLUTIONARY ARGUMENT AGAINST NATURALISM REFUTED! ______Jersey Flight



This argument has very little to do with Naturalism and everything to do with the insertion of God. Once analyzed it is very easy to see that Plantinga's argument is an argument from silence.

But the maneuver here is crafty, very subtle... it has the appearance (like all analytical theism) of being deep and profound. This is probably because of two factors:

1) The insinuation of an alternative to Naturalism by the nature of the question. In other words, it is assumed that one can escape Naturalism, or that one can choose between Naturalism and something else (supernaturalism). But how did supernaturalism become a viable alternative, let alone a legitimate premise?

and 2) The deceptive standard of truth as a criteria arbitrarily required for the justification of Naturalism. This antiquated standard totally ignores the pragmatic, inescapable, necessary authority of Evolution, necessary foundation of Naturalism. [In other words, even if there is a problem with standing in the clouds, if one is standing, then it doesn't matter if one can explain what one is standing on. The important fact is that one is standing.]

The Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism is a prime example that sophistry is alive and well. Plantinga is so bent on being a Christian (finding some channel to claim a rational right to his theism) that he is willing to take the most fantastic leap. ...Poor thinkers (those not used to thinking Socratically) will easily fall for this juvenile trap of semantics (we might even call it, a mirage of reason). Indeed, the more you tend to think like an analytical philosopher, the more susceptible you will be. 

The question, "Naturalism as opposed to what," does a very impressive thing. If the theist cannot get legitimately beyond Naturalism (without resorting to an argument from silence) THEN THE EVOLUTIONARY ARGUMENT AGAINST NATURALISM, IS EQUALLY DEFEATED BY THE SAME LOGIC AS THE ARGUMENT ITSELF! In other words, there would be no way for Plantinga to know if his argument against Naturalism is true. (And we must remember, the criteria of truth here is itself a product of the one making the argument in the first place. How fitting that it now turns around to defeat him). So the argument is a defeater for the argument itself (unless one can provide an alternative to Naturalism, on some other ground than that of Naturalism; on some other ground than that of Evolution). So what is Plantinga really saying; is he not saying; the modernist criteria of truth is problematic, as a standard of justification, because it's too dogmatic?

Plantinga's criteria is first a straw-man, and then a child's joke; it is the futile problem of asking whether or not one is a brain in a vat... a rehash of solipsism. The refutation is thus: if you die in the Matrix, you still die! Let Plantinga figure that one out.
 
as always,
against theology,
Jersey Flight.            

Friday, May 2, 2014

THE REBUKE OF APOLOGETICS- Jersey Flight


You have all played the same game; you have all done the same thing; you try to pretend that the ideal over which you labor (an ideal deduced from nature) is actually synonymous with the God of your creed. You have ignored and denied the distinction, the necessary qualification, knowing full well, that if you admitted the conclusion of natural theology you would equally have to dispense with your God. 



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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

IS THE NEW ATHEISM SUPERFICIAL? - Jersey Flight


It would seem this is not only the claim of theists, but also the claim of many misguided Atheists. The problem here is very simple. It is true that the popular works on Atheism are not necessarily "analytically sophisticated," but this is not a problem. Allow me to explain why. When one studies the arguments of these (so-called) analytical theists one does not learn of an elevation of progress in the realm of natural theology, instead one learns how unnecessary and confusing, overly complicated, pedantic, these analytical theists are. They are not saying anything new! When one has expended great effort, in translating their analytical computations, into something existential, one finds that the position is easily refuted. The simple arguments made by the "New Atheists" (as people call them) are not only sufficient, but tactically wise [because they bypass all the unnecessary analytical confusion].

So what is really going on here? The theists are hiding behind a wall of empty language (and what they call this wall), how they promote this wall, gives the impression that there is something sophisticated going on behind this wall. All of this has to do with playing on people's ignorance. Hence, Swinburne can claim to have put forth a mathematical probability for the existence of God (but this only looks and sounds impressive to people who know nothing about mathematics). After all, Swinburne is from Oxford you know, he is also a philosopher you know, and all of this, coupled with the fact that he is a dedicated believer, means there is something very profound to Christian theism. [Enter here the argument from authority.] Name dropping, degree dropping, university citations, publisher citations. All of it bullshit; all of it desperate. If anything the probability of the specificity of theism has drastically decreased with the rise of the analytical line. We are now in the era of vague theism because these so-called theistic philosophers have finally realized the impossibility of sustaining specific theism.

All that is taking place is exploitation not honesty; a game of intimidation. When one critically reads the most sophisticated literature available on theism, one does not find a dialectic that requires something new, one finds a dialectic (after being translated into regular language as opposed to symbols)... can still be refuted with the same arguments that were made ever so long ago. (See Hume).

Why is the New Atheism called superficial (which is really no different from calling Atheism itself superficial); because it is easier to repudiate something with an Ad Hominem than it is to refute it by reason. I have this to say to all my Atheist brothers and sisters; if you have been convinced by the rhetoric of this Ad Hominem reply (which is to say) if you think the New Atheism is superficial because you think theism has some mark of rationality in its favor you have been deceived by fallacy and authority, or intimated by a wall of empty rhetoric you could not decipher. "It all looks and sounds so sophisticated and profound." But at the end of the day it is the same thing, only humbled by the force of Naturalism--- the assertion of the "existence" of a supernatural being. 


Case and point: when the dedicated student gives himself to the terrible computations of the analytical theists (or perhaps they are not so much terrible as they are unnecessarily tedious) he soon finds, when translated, that they presume the same axioms they appeared and claimed to transcend.     

Spaciously yours,
Jersey Flight 


*{We might also note; to claim that Atheism is superficial, or that it is somehow lacking in complexity is to put forth (or at least to have in mind) an idea of sophistication. In other words, the nature of the conversation must take place over the identity of sophistication; what qualifies as sophistication and why? When theists say that Atheism is superficial they are thinking in terms of analytical theism. This means they are thinking of the arguments put forth by the likes of Plantinga and Swinburne. In other words, in order for Atheism to qualify as sophisticated it must deal with the arguments of Plantinga and Swinburne. But I contend that their arguments are not so much sophisticated as they are sophistical, as they are linguistically and symbolically confusing. Indeed, apart from the nature of the language one can almost say there is nothing there! It is of course, possible to play an analytical game with Plantinga, but if the question is centered on truth, as opposed to strategic maneuvering as a matter of abstract form, I'm afraid the reader will be very disappointed.}           

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Is Intelligent Design Science? -ANSWERED-


The first thing to note is what this question is not// this is not a question about "demarcation" as some people would have us believe, this is instead a question regarding the nature of intelligent design; hence the question, "Is Intelligent Design Science?" The answer to this question all depends upon what we mean by science. But I would like to take a larger approach to this topic. Let us assume that intelligent design is a "kind" of science, the question then becomes, "what is the nature of this science?" Can intelligent design be contrasted and compared with other forms of science; if not then how can it achieve a status of equality, surely not on the basis of formalism alone?

"I call creationism “pseudoscience” not because its proponents are doing bad science—they are not doing science at all—but because they threaten science education in America, they breach the wall separating church and state, and they confuse the public about the nature of evolutionary theory and how science is conducted. Here, perhaps, is a practical criterion for resolving the demarcation problem: the conduct of scientists as reflected in the pragmatic usefulness of an idea. That is, does the revolutionary new idea generate any interest on the part of working scientists for adoption in their research programs, produce any new lines of research, lead to any new discoveries, or influence any existing hypotheses, models, paradigms or world views? If not, chances are it is pseudoscience." Michael Shermer, What is Pseudoscience? Scientific America Sep 2011

If we take Shermer’s balanced, pragmatic approach to this issue we learn that the answer to the question is irrelevant!

Susan Haack makes the same point:


…Suppressing the demarcationist impulse will also have the healthy effect of obliging us to recognize poorly-conducted science as just that, poorly-conducted science; and of encouraging us, instead of simply sneering at “pseudo-science,” to specify what, exactly, is wrong with the work we are criticizing: perhaps that it is too vague to be genuinely explanatory; perhaps that, though it uses mathematical symbolism or graphs or fancy instruments, these are purely decorative, and do no real work; perhaps that claims which are thus far purely speculative are being made as confidently as if they were well-warranted by evidence; and so on. If we still had a use for the term “pseudo-science,” it might be best reserved to refer to such public-relations exercises as the Creation Science “movement” – what a revealing word! – which, so far as I can tell, really involves no real inquiry of any kind.” Susan Haack, Six Signs of Scientism, October 17th 2009

The point is that even if intelligent design qualified under the label of science it would still draw forth a necessary demarcation. And what would this demarcation be? The actual operational, functional status of intelligent design itself! Does the label, science, solve anything or prove anything in relation to intelligent design? Does it generate anything; does it legitimize I.D. as a formal discipline? Does it help to move science forward? As per Haack: we can take a more ability-centered-approach to dismissing intelligent design [an example would be its total lack of predictive power// or by claiming to explain it does not really explain at all!] Hence, in these cases, even if it is a kind of science, who cares; it has no more power or value than that of astrology.


From the perspective of the I.D. proponents, obtaining the label of science is the same as obtaining the ability of science, but this is not the case! Again, Shermer's excellent pragmatic criterion goes to the very heart of the issue: we ask the question of I.D.’s utility.

Can we speak plainly? So what if the proponents of I.D. (snide little men) dislike our plain speech. The question as to whether or not intelligent design is science is not a question, which is authentically concerned with the nature of science, but is a question which is asked for the sake of advancing the agenda of the “creation science movement.”


A telling question; what would I.D. proponents seek to infer from the conclusion that intelligent design is science? [Hopefully you are getting the larger picture at this point?] The asking of this question is not sincere on the part of the I.D. proponents, but rather strategic! And this is the problem: it is one thing to call intelligent design science on the basis of a "formal" evaluation (i.e. leveraging oneself to the status of science from the failure of demarcation-- this is properly known as an argument from silence), and a very different thing to equate that conclusion with other forms of science. At the end of the day we need to talk about the actual function and predictive ability of the thing we seek to call science; for the conclusion may very well be, though creationism is entitled to the term (via demarcation) it doesn't matter--- this is all it's entitled to! It has no other operational value, in which case, we should seriously ask; why even bother with it as a science; for the kind of science it is (via the failure of demarcation) is not the kind of science which is relevant.

The question of demarcation is quite literally a smokescreen to divert us away from the real issue: what does it matter if astrology or intelligent design are permitted the title of science? There is more to real science than simply the formal term. Indeed, is there any functionality to intelligent design at all?

There is only one more thing to be said. A man well versed in philosophy must know that it is not possible to defend an absolute definition simply because the criterion of "absolute" is too great. Hence, the demarcation problem is a winning maneuver for the I.D. proponents. "In it" they can put forth the most vicious form of skepticism, holding every formal proposition to a criterion of absolute certainty. Again, by using the demarcation concept the proponents of I.D. can guarantee* their formal place at the table via the illegitimate, dishonest and impractical criteria of radical skepticism.

This is how the demarcation problem works in the hands of an I.D. proponent: “Prove that your definition of science is absolute.” But any informed philosopher knows this cannot be done. Therefore, in the absence of sustaining one's formal line, I.D. proponents proclaim I.D. under the banner of science. The demarcation scheme works on the basis of ignorance! [and once we know this everything falls apart.]

But perhaps one more thing should be said. It is possible to sustain an operational definition of science so long as we are permitted to use examples of science. This is because there are certain actions which we all have no choice but to call science--- and this is perhaps the most telling thing about I.D. (because of the kind of science it is) it will never be able to achieve this status; for this goes beyond any formal definition to the place of actual, functional power. There is such a thing as a science which must be called science because of its actual function, as opposed to its fallacious justification given the failure of demarcation [i.e. argument from silence.]

The proponents of I. D. should be ashamed of their superficialism, but even more, the so-called analytical philosophers who seek to treat this question as though it belongs among the great questions of philosophy should be rebuked! (To call it legitimate is to manifest one’s incompetence as a philosopher). What we have here, if we will speak plainly, is a post hoc consideration; that is to say, because a particular advocate is a believer in creationism (and at the same time wants to be a respectable philosopher// wants his creationism to be respected as a legitimate branch of science) he therefore seeks to couch the question within the framework of philosophy. And this he does for the sake of his creationist agenda. This question has nothing to do with philosophy, and more importantly, nothing to do with science; it has been asked for the sake of advancing the creationist agenda in the realm of philosophy and science.

Confidently yours,
Jersey Flight



*[That is to say, just so long as they can keep the standards of justification at the highest possible levels of certainty.]

[What is the value of I.D. as a science; what does it predict; what does it explain; what can it be used for? Surely its explanatory power is completely lacking in that it posits, as an explanation, something more complicated than the original problem it claimed to solve (namely some kind of being or beings).]


Recommended:

Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design, Michael Shermer, 2007

Can’t Philosophers Tell The Difference Between Science and Religion?: Demarcation Revisited. Robert T. Pennock Synthese (April, 2009)

http://www.msu.edu/~p...­

Sunday, April 13, 2014

BOOKS GOD DOESN'T WANT YOU TO READ


[*many of these are free online.]

Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, Book III, Chapter III, Concerning God.

Atheism: A Very Short Introduction: Julian Baggini 

*Dialogues of Natural Religion by David Hume [To this day Hume's treatment remains unsurpassed and unanswered. Men have had to shape their theology in light of it. Only now is theism actually catching up! Natural theology has long been dead!]

The Atheist Primer by Malcom Murray. [THE BEST! Murray understands the sophisticated theistic arguments, but he speaks in a language which is assessable to the layman. It is hard to estimate the value of this book.] 

Atheism the Case Against God by George H. Smith [still relevant, truly a classic.]

*The Rejection of Pascal's Wager: Paul Tobin

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, Christopher Hitchens

Paul Henry Thiry, pseudonym: Baron d'Holbach
-*Common Sense Without God (sometimes just called, Common Sense)
-*Letters to Eugena 

Nietzsche:
*The Antichrist 
*Beyond Good and Evil

Testament: Memoir of the Thoughts and Sentiments of Jean Meslier 

The Essence of Religion Ludwig Feuerbach 

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF THIS LIST! The fact that it is concise only makes it more practical. One does not actually need to read a great deal in order to overcome theism. 


Friday, March 14, 2014

A LETTER ON DECONVERSION-- Jersey Flight

Dear P_,

I have read your letter and am touched by your courage and struggle. You are not alone in your struggle (this is the first stage of deconversion, so to speak).

I was quite upset when I realized that Christianity had filled me with lies; that I had been "conditioned" to believe that the refutation of Christianity also meant a total loss of meaning in the context of life. What liberation to know this is not true! People felt alive long before Christianity and people feel alive long after Christianity. Meaning is not contingent on Christianity. We know this is true because when we examine meaning we find it actually has root in the physical world. All the things that give us a sense of meaning have to do with our circumstances; with our relationships; with life's diverse yet simple pleasures. To be a Christian is to believe a certain thing, but if belief is the source of meaning, this says nothing about the reality of the thing believed. Even the most committed Christian does not derive his sense of meaning from the basis of Christianity. To claim he does is to be ignorant of one's existence. Examine life and you will find that meaning arises from all the little things. This is even true for the most committed Christian; just because he says his sense of meaning derives from his knowledge of a tri-personal-God, or a mono-personal-theism, does not in fact, mean that what he says is true. The man of God is just like the rest of us, and as such, his sense of meaning originates from the same physical sources. He is merely lying to himself about the nature of existence when he says there is some kind of phantom at the heart of his meaning. Such a man is confused about his own experience; he is existentially dishonest. 


If Christianity is the source of feeling good, when it comes to the motions of life, then why is it powerless against the biological menace of depression (not to mention several other things)? Is it coherent to hear a Christian recommending anti-depressants on top of Christianity (if Christianity is indeed the source of meaning)? Does this in fact, make any sense, given the supernatural premise of Christianity itself? If Christianity is the source of meaning (and it is powerless against the existential struggle of life) then what does it really matter if it is formally called the source of meaning? Can this formalism deliver the practitioner from the agony of his suffering?

I have seen several people come out of Christianity (and this is the good news): every single one them says it was the most important thing that ever happened to them! In other words, the despair goes away (the despair which was itself a symptom of Christianity) and you realize you can be whatever kind of person you want to be... you are not condemned by an archaic God. All your life is suddenly open and before you!


I think the big thing that did it for me (even after I had realized the rational collapse of this propped-up irrational system)... there was still a psychological element which tried to hang on, to hold me in its grip. I kept saying to myself; 'I know this must be true because I've had a personal experience with God... I know God, he must be real, I can feel that He's real!' But then I questioned this feeling: 'and all of those religious people who have gone to death for the sake of their belief, tried by fire, purified by pain, did they have any less feeling that their belief was true?'

The answer flooded my mind--- NO, THEY HAD MORE!

And yet I knew that this psychological conviction did not make their belief true!

And with this my dear friend, I had finally escaped the last grip of religion; psychological conviction.

Let me know what I can do to help. This is not an easy thing, and this is not an easy place to be.

Some people have said they find my lecture on The Essence of Christianity to be helpful: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gETOkThQsVc

Respectfully yours,
Jersey Flight

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

STRATEGIC THEISM IN THE SERVICE OF NATURALISM- Jersey Flight



The strongest argument for the existence of God?

Aside from the music of Bach we have this: 

Quantum Entanglement (and) the idea of a Singularity. Taken together these two ideas lead to the conclusion of Pantheism. There is no hope for monotheism. So let us suppose that Nature is evidence for the existence of God; let us suppose that Quantum Physics necessitates some concept of deity, but the question we must ask is what kind of deity? 

It would seem all things are connected given the nature of Quantum Entanglement-- and the possible reason for this is a Singularity [by which we mean a point when all things were one]... hence, Pantheism is true. God is everything and everything is God. For how can we disassociate God from the universe when we have no expreience of disassociation? All things are connected! (At least it would seem this is where the evidence leads).

We might call our position Strategic Pantheism, and the reason for this is that the theist adopts a position of strategic theism (which is vague theism)... (and yet he is not a vague theist!), why then do we need to be Pantheists in order to adopt a position of Strategic Pantheism? If the monotheist (who utilizes the strategy of vague theism) denies us this right, then how can he legitimately utilize himself without becoming the most egregious hypocrite? This smacks of special pleading!  

If the evidence, does at all, point to theism it points to Pantheism (which has a very small distinction from that of Naturalism). What's the difference between saying, Nature is all there is, or saying, God is Nature?

Essentially a Pantheist, and a Naturalist, resolve issues the same way: not on the basis of transcendence (a God outside of Nature), but on the basis of Nature itself (even as Pantheism equates God with Nature and Nature with God).

Strategic Pantheism allows us to dispose of Natural theology, which forces the monotheist to find a new line of reason in order to justify his theism. We can see that his argument was always based on the assertions of a religious text, which is a kind of authoritarianism (though he tried to make it appear that his qualified-monotheism* was actually based on reason). [This is commonly known as the fallacy of non-sequitur.] The reason monotheism must always be based on a religious text is because it's the only place the monotheist can deduce his particular theism. He cannot deduce his idea of God from Nature.

It is important to note that the Naturalist is not confined to Strategic Pantheism, but can also utilize forms of Strategic Deism and Strategic Polytheism. One simply cannot deduce a qualified-monotheism from the basis of Natural theology. Perhaps this statement is false, but where is the qualified-monotheist who is able to prove that his idea of God, can in fact, be proven from Nature? 

And perhaps what is most telling: all annoying forms of theism, destructive forms of theism, are in fact forms of particular theism----- there is no such thing as vague theism! This means the qualified-monotheist (unless he finds an argument from Nature) will always be refuted by the maneuver of Strategic Theism.  

Even in the most extreme case, where one is actually committed to a form of natural theism, there is simply no threat. A consistent natural theist (which is to say a Deist, Pantheist or Polytheist) would gladly join us in the refutation of qualified-monotheism. What does a Deist know about the will of God? What does a Pantheist deduce from transcendence? How can one be a moral fascist under the guise of Polytheism? These forms of theism (which are the conclusion of Natural Theology) simply represent no threat! 

For how did it come to be that Strategic Theism is perhaps the most powerful technique one can utilize in the service of Naturalism! By the maneuver of Strategic Theism the particular monotheist is actually forced to confront the dialectic of his own theism, only this time, the dialectic works as a refutation against his particularism! But this is not a paradox; the reason this occurs is because the particular theist is not honest in the formation of his theism. When he attempts to utilize the arguments of natural theology in the service of his monotheism he is not allowing the arguments to speak for themselves. If this was the case he would end at Deism, Pantheism or Polytheism {or in the most intelligent case} Naturalism.

All believers believe in a very specific notion of God. It is simply dishonest to argue for a vague creator on the basis of Natural Theology, when one believes in a very specific idea God. The theist hardly realizes that he is fallaciously connecting the dots. Where is the theist who can deduce his specific notion of God (which is to say, the God he believes in and worships) from the existence of Nature?          
           
*[An example of qualified-monotheism is the Christian Trinity.]