mercredi 19 octobre 2016

What did Early Christians Believe About Greek and Roman Gods?

On CMI, the article "Atheism", I found this assessment:

Early Christians were referred to as “atheists” because they did not believe in the Greek or Roman gods. Yet, while they positively affirmed the non-existence of those gods they likely believed that those gods were deceptive demons whom they did believe existed (1 Corinthians 8:4–6).

Actually, the major Greek and Roman god they were required to and refused to believe in was the Emperor's Genius.

And as far as I know, they did not deny that Tiberius or Nero were men of flesh and blood.

First Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Corinthians, Chapter 8: [4] But as for the meats that are sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one. [5] For although there be that are called gods, either in heaven or on earth (for there be gods many, and lords many). [6] Yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

That was Douay Rheims, now to KJV:

4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. 5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Here is The Complete Jewish Bible:

4 So, as for eating food sacrificed to idols, we “know” that, as you say, “An idol has no real existence in the world, and there is only one God.” 5 For even if there are so-called “gods,” either in heaven or on earth — as in fact there are “gods” and “lords” galore — 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things come and for whom we exist; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, through whom were created all things and through whom we have our being.

Now to the commentary thereon:

Ver. 4.
An idol is nothing. The apostle seems to allude in this place to the Greek signification of this word, eidolon, signifying a false representation; as for instance in ghosts, which are said to appear sometimes at night. Umbrœ tenues, simulacra luce carentium. (Calmet)

Ver. 5.
Many gods, &c. Reputed for such among the heathens. (Challoner)

Ver. 6.
To us there is but one God, the Father; of whom all things, and we unto him. Of or from the Father are all things, even the eternal Son and the Holy Ghost, though they are one and the same God with the Father.

And one Lord Jesus Christ: by whom are all things, and we by him. All things were created by the Son of God, the eternal and uncreated wisdom of the Father, from whom he proceeds from eternity, and also by the Holy Ghost, all creatures being equally the work of the three divine persons. The Arians and Socinians pretend from this place, that only the Father is truly and properly God. The Catholics answer, that he is called the God, of whom all, because from him always proceeded, do proceed, and shall always proceed the Son and the Holy Ghost, though one and the same God in nature, substance, &c. And that when he is called the one God, by these words are excluded the false gods of the heathens, not the Son, and the Holy Ghost, who are but one God with the Father. St. Chrysostom also here observes, (hom. xx.) that if the two other persons are excluded, because the Father is called one God, by the same way of reasoning it would follow, that because Jesus Christ is called the one Lord, neither the Holy Ghost, nor even the Father, are the one Lord, whereas the Scriptures many times express the divine majesty, as well by the word Lord as by the word God. (Witham)

Now, none of the versions and none of the Catholic commentaries actually say in so many words "Yet, while they positively affirmed the non-existence of those gods they likely believed that those gods were deceptive demons whom they did believe existed".

For some of the pagan gods this is very straightforward.

Apollo gave prophecies which drove Laios and Oedipus to attempted killing of son and real unbeknownst killing of father. Which drove the grandfather of Perseus to try to prevent his being conceived and born. Which drove Orestes first to killing of mother and thereby to what could have been either madness or real persecution by real demons (what is called "demonic obsession," as opposed to "demonic possession" when demons take control of the victim's body), after which Apollo seems to have appeared as one of the parties in a court, other party being the Furies (the demons persecuting Orestes), judge being Athena, goddess of the city and outcome being Furies getting a CULT of worship in Athens in return for accepting to have been defeated by Apollo. And Apollo also agreed to this.

Humans :
Orestes among others.
Demons :
Apollo, Furies, Athena. All of which worshipped as gods.

Note that other stories featuring Athena may signifiy other things. When Athena gives council (not magic aid, but council) to Ulysses, it could have been a demon, but could also have been a guardian angel, working through a shape from which Ulysses was ready to take advise. And when Athena was spinning along her friend Arachne, originally this was about two maidens in Athens who were very good at spinning.

Humans :
Ulysses, Athena (1), Arachne
Demon OR guardian angel :
Athena (2)
Worshipped as same goddess :
Athena (1+2+3, see above the Orestes case).

And what happens when a Pagan is sacrificing to Apollo or Athena and then gives away the meat to the poor?

At worst, a demon is there, but at best, nothing at all. This is the case St Paul was talking about. The verses do not give a general theory about all there is in Paganism, and do not even mention the case of mythological stories or how we stand to these. They are about the general concept of other things than God being called gods and about the practical consequence thereof, idol worship. They do not specify what exactly these things are instead, unless you take "whether in heaven or in earth" as referring to Christian explanations (some divine interventions, some demonic ones) rather than the Pagan division between celestial and chthonic divinities.

Why is this important?

Because the New Atheism, among others basing itself on the charge of "atheism" against Christians, has declared "Christians are atheists about all gods except one, we just take it one step further". That may be very true for Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment Christians who think that for instance not just it is wrong to worship at the altar of Helios, not just is Helios not a god, but he is not even a person taking the visible solar object on a ride. But this was not the attitude of the first Christians. Nor were they saying that "Tiberius" was a pure myth, or that "Nero" was such. And similarily, they were not denying that Hercules and Romulus existed. Though especially of the former, or of his ancestor Perseus, when it is said he and Andromeda were taken up to the stars, they did say that the devil added lies about them.

This is not a matter of pure speculation on my part, it is a matter of looking up the Church Fathers. References will be added later, in comments.

This truth is of course highly unwelcome to two kinds of people : Atheists who claim to be "atheists about just one more god" than we, and Christians who want Christians to be fideists.

By the way, another kind of Anti-Christian argument also would not find it welcome if my position here were widely known. Those who (like Richard Carrier) argue that supernatural legends are likely to come about without any reference to fact. Those who argue "if Greeks could invent Hercules out of nothing and connect him to later Spartan Kings, if Romans could invent Romulus and Remus from the mere name of their city and consider the first as the first of seven kings, why should not Christians have invented Jesus out of nothing?"

And my answer is Greeks and Romans were - as far as historical narrative is concerned, as opposed to theology - just marginally wrong about very real and very historic persons called for real Herakles (or however that was pronounced 500 years before Homer) and Romulus (presumably Romlos or Romelos?). Only in theology, in worshipping Hercules and Romulus, were the Greeks and Romans versy wrong, but in history there were just marginal traits which would need weeding out before Hercules and Romulus are reduced to human types of "very strong man" and "very surprising avenger". Nothing like what an Atheist would need to weed out of the Gospels.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Cergy, L'Astrolabe
St Peter of Alcantara

mercredi 12 octobre 2016

A Case for Considering Western Atheism as Protestantism Losing Christianity

I just had a look on the preview of Hemant Mehta's I sold my soul on e-bay. (He prefers his first name to be pronounced HEH-mint).

I didn't see all that many pages in the preview, but noticed this one. Study guides for the chapters and the one for chapter 1 had a first question:

"Hemant Mehta after becoming an atheist continued to practise core teachings of his childhood religion, Jainism."

OK. I am not surprised.

"Would you expect this of someone becoming an atheist?"

I would.

I would expect anyone losing his religion (which a certain Oasis song isn't really about, it's also a way of describing curse words - expression obviously from in a religious surrounding where cursing is not done by religious people) to keep rather much of it, except the items he wanted to lose.

And since, historically, much of the historic atheist community surrounding for instance non-compromising acceptance of atheistic versions of Big Bang, Abiogenesis, Biological Evolution starts with Protestants about a 100 or even 150 years ago losing their religion (and not in the Oasis sense!) en masse, this historic, though loose, atheistic community actually does bear traces of its Protestant background.

Richard Dawkins and George Bernard Shaw both came from Protestant families. Unlike what G. K. Chesterton had led me to expect, and what Shaw's reply to him had seemed to confirm, both families were Anglican. I was going to say Dawkins was more Anglican and Shaw more Puritan. But the root of that difference is not between religious traditions of their families.

Shaw was born at 3 Upper Synge Street[n 1] in Portobello, a lower-middle-class part of Dublin.[2] He was the youngest child and only son of George Carr Shaw (1814–1885) and Lucinda Elizabeth (Bessie) Shaw (née Gurly; 1830–1913); his elder siblings were Lucinda (Lucy) Frances (1853–1920) and Elinor Agnes (1855–1876). The Shaw family was of English descent and belonged to the dominant Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland;[n 2] George Carr Shaw, an ineffectual alcoholic, was among the family's less successful members.[3] His relatives secured him a sinecure in the civil service, from which he was pensioned off in the early 1850s; thereafter he worked irregularly as a corn merchant.[2] In 1852 he married Bessie Gurly; in the view of Shaw's biographer Michael Holroyd she married to escape a tyrannical great-aunt.[4] If, as Holroyd and others surmise, George's motives were mercenary, then he was disappointed, as Bessie brought him little of her family's money.[5] She came to despise her ineffectual and often drunken husband, with whom she shared what their son later described as a life of "shabby-genteel poverty".[4]

I suppose, what is more Puritan in Shaw, is that having seen and probably despised his father as an alcoholic, he took after some Puritan attitudes to alcohol, incompatible with the Anglicanism. On the other hand, when Dawkins insists that the human mind is very fragile, he is also closer to Puritanism than to, for example, Classic Puseyism.

Nevertheless, precisely because ATHEISM as such is a one question position and not a religion (Hemant likes to remind of "bald a hair colour"), this means that exchanging ALL of their previous religion for Atheism* would in its turn have meant embracing sheer nothingness, a sheer void of the mind. Even if either of them had desired it, they would not have got it.

Apostasy may lose you all Sanctifying Grace you had. It does NOT lose you every religious habit you had.** This means Dawkins retained any Anglican habit he didn't go about losing, Shaw retained a few less, since in joining Fabians, he intended losing some, and so on. Precisely as Hemant Mehta is an atheistic version of Jainism, or is Jainism minus theism and minus the other aspects of Jainism he rejected. However, a little like Shaw had Fabians, Hemant has had more recently Western Atheists as at least partly models for at least his thought.

When C. S. Lewis left his childhood Puritanism*** he retained some of its habits. Like, I presume, relishing secret and non-obvious pleasures, which had been part of the system of "culpability" (Puritan Trademark, not just the general phenomenon) he had been early on part of. He later took a model for his atheism which was based on Frazer's analysis of Mythology (an approach revived recently by Mythers), the tutor he had, who was an atheist ex-Calvinist and Ulster Scot, nicknamed "The Great Knock".

Ex Catholic atheists also exist. Like Tim O'Neill°, after whom the url of this blog is named.

But these are a newer and less formative part of the Western Atheist Community. Earlier on, Catholics tended to go either Deist (like Voltaire) or Positivist (like Comte, like Fustel de Coulanges, like Maurras) or for that matter Diabolist, when apostasising. Not specifically strong atheism. Since they are newer and when becoming atheist in some sense°° let themselves be formatted into the Atheist community - the Western Atheist one, not philosophical Atheism in general - they are also less formative for it.

Jews are perhaps not newer than Anglicans, but earlier on fewer, in the nascent mid 19th C. atheist community. Not sure if they have by now outnumbered them, very possible. But I still think Atheism (the Western brand, not the "hair colour bald") owes more to Anglicanism than to Judaism.

Since Russian revolution, Russian Communism (and some Russian Jewish influence too) has helped to remold Western Atheism considerably. But let's not forget, Karl Marx and Engels were both from Protestant families, though in Marx' case a previously Jewish one:

Karl Marx was born on 5 May 1818 to Heinrich Marx and Henrietta Pressburg (1788–1863). He was born at 664 Brückergasse in Trier, a town then part of the Kingdom of Prussia's Province of the Lower Rhine.[18] Marx was ancestrally Jewish; his maternal grandfather was a Dutch rabbi, while his paternal line had supplied Trier's rabbis since 1723, a role taken by his grandfather Meier Halevi Marx.[19] Karl's father, as a child known as Herschel, was the first in the line to receive a secular education; he became a lawyer and lived a relatively wealthy and middle-class existence, with his family owning a number of Moselle vineyards. Prior to his son's birth, and to escape the constraints of anti-semitic legislation, Herschel converted from Judaism to Lutheranism, the main Protestant denomination in Germany and Prussia at the time, taking on the German forename of Heinrich over the Yiddish Herschel. [20] Largely non-religious, Heinrich was a man of the Enlightenment, interested in the ideas of the philosophers Immanuel Kant and Voltaire. A classical liberal, he took part in agitation for a constitution and reforms in Prussia, then governed by an absolute monarchy.[22] In 1815 Heinrich Marx began work as an attorney, in 1819 moving his family to a ten-room property near the Porta Nigra.[23] His wife, a Dutch Jewish woman, Henrietta Pressburg, was semi-literate and was said to suffer from "excessive mother love", devoting much time to her family and insisting on cleanliness within her home.[24] She was from a prosperous business family that later founded the company Philips Electronics: she was great-aunt to Anton and Gerard Philips, and great-great-aunt to Frits Philips. Her sister Sophie Presburg (1797–1854), was Marx's aunt and was married to Lion Philips (1794–1866) Marx's uncle through this marriage, and was the grandmother of both Gerard and Anton Philips. Lion Philips was a wealthy Dutch tobacco manufacturer and industrialist, upon whom Karl and Jenny Marx would later often come to rely for loans while they were exiled in London.[25] In contrast to her husband, Henrietta retained her Jewish faith.[26]

  • These informations from wiki is not common knowledge and I had simply thought of Marx as a childhood Lutheran, so here goes for references:

  • 18) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, p. 7; Wheen 2001, pp. 8, 12; McLellan 2006, p. 1.
  • 19) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 4–5; Wheen 2001, pp. 7–9, 12; McLellan 2006, pp. 2–3.
  • 20) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 4–6; McLellan 2006, pp. 2–4.
  • 21) Wheen 2001. pp. 12–13.
  • 22) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 5, 8–12; Wheen 2001, p. 11; McLellan 2006, pp. 5–6.
  • 23) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, p. 7; Wheen 2001, p. 10; McLellan 2006, p. 7.
  • 24) Nicolaievsky & Maenchen-Helfen 1976, pp. 6–7; Wheen 2001, p. 12; McLellan 2006, p. 4.
  • 25) Francis Wheen, Karl Marx: A Life, (Fourth Estate, 1999), ISBN 1-85702-637-3
  • 26) McLellan 2006, p. 4

  • And refernces are useless without bibliography, only citing the books relevant for above here:

  • McLellan, David (2006). Karl Marx: A Biography (fourth edition). Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-1403997302.
  • Nicolaievsky, Boris; Maenchen-Helfen, Otto (1976) [1936]. Karl Marx: Man and Fighter. trans. Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher. Harmondsworth and New York: Pelican. ISBN 978-1-4067-2703-6.
  • Wheen, Francis (2001). Karl Marx. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-1-85702-637-5.

And Engels:

Friedrich Engels was born on 28 November 1820 in Barmen, Province of Jülich-Cleves-Berg, Prussia (now Wuppertal, Germany).[6] Barmen was an expanding industrial metropolis, and Friedrich was the eldest son of a wealthy German cotton textile manufacturer. His father, Friedrich, Sr., was a Pietistic Protestant,[7] and Engels was raised accordingly. As he grew up, however, he developed atheistic beliefs and his relationship with his parents became strained.[8] His mother wrote to him of her concerns:[9] She said that he had "really gone too far" and "begged" him "to proceed no further".[9] She continued:

"You have paid more heed to other people, to strangers, and have taken no account of your mother's pleas. God alone knows what I have felt and suffered of late. I was trembling when I picked up the newspaper and saw therein that a warrant was out for my son's arrest."[9]

When his mother wrote, Engels was in hiding in Brussels, Belgium, soon to make his way to Switzerland. In 1849, he returned to the Kingdom of Bavaria for the Baden and Palatinate revolutionary uprising.

  • On these references we learn that references are not always to scientific works and that copyright laws can suck, these days:

  • 6) A copy of Friedrich Engels' birth certificate is on page 577 of the Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 2 (New York: International Publishers, 1975).
  • 7) de = die deutsche Wikipädie, Friedrich Engels (Fabrikant)
  • 8) Friedrich Engels. "Letters of Marx and Engels, 1845". Retrieved 2010-02-13.

    But link alas leads to:

    “File No Longer Available!”

    The file you have tried to access originated from the Marx Engels Collected Works. Lawrence & Wishart, who hold the copyright for the Marx Engels Collected Works, have directed Marxists Internet Archive to delete all texts originating from MECW. Accordingly, from 30th April 2014, no material from MECW is available from English translations of Marx and Engels from other sources will continue to be available.

  • 9) Elisabeth Engels' letter contained at No. 6 of the Appendix, Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels: Volume 38 (International Publishers: New York, 1982) pp. 540–541.

What about Sanger, Galton, Huxley?

Sanger was born Margaret Louise Higgins in 1879 in Corning, New York,[5] to Michael Hennessey Higgins, an Irish-born stonemason and free-thinker, and Anne Purcell Higgins, a Catholic Irish-American. Michael Hennessey Higgins had emigrated to the USA at age 14 and joined the U.S. Army as a drummer at age 15, during the Civil War. After leaving the army, Michael studied medicine and phrenology, but ultimately became a stonecutter, making stone angels, saints, and tombstones.[6] Michael H. Higgins was a Catholic who became an atheist and an activist for women's suffrage and free public education.[7] Anne was born in Ireland. Her parents brought the family to Canada during the Potato Famine. She married Michael in 1869.[8] Anne Higgins went through 18 pregnancies (with 11 live births) in 22 years before dying at the age of 49. Sanger was the sixth of eleven surviving children,[9] and spent much of her youth assisting with household chores and caring for her younger siblings. Supported by her two older sisters, Margaret Higgins attended Claverack College and Hudson River Institute, before enrolling in 1900 at White Plains Hospital as a nurse probationer. In 1902, she married the architect William Sanger and gave up her education.[10] Though she was plagued by a recurring active tubercular condition, Margaret Sanger bore three children, and the couple settled down to a quiet life in Westchester, New York.

Her father is the kind of apostate who leaves Catholicism for Protestant culture.°°° Phrenology was was founded by Johann Kaspar Lavater [In 1769 Lavater took Holy Orders in Zurich's Zwinglian Church, and officiated until his death as deacon or pastor in churches in his native city. His oratorical fervor and genuine depth of conviction gave him great personal influence; he was extensively consulted as a casuist, and was welcomed with enthusiasm on his journeys throughout Germany. His writings on mysticism were widely popular as well.], Franz Joseph Gall was of a Catholic family, but a merchant one and a student of medicine and of inmates in lunatic asylums. Also by the next: Johann Spurzheim's childhood religion is not mentioned by English wiki, but it is by the German one. [Er war Sohn des protestantischen Bauern Johann Spurzheim, von dem er seinen Vornamen bekam. Nachdem Johann G. Spurzheim in der Schule seines Heimatdorfes Latein und Griechisch gelernt hatte, begann er an der Universität von Trier Theologie, Philosophie und Hebräisch zu studieren, weil sein Vater ihn in einem geistlichen Amt sehen wollte. Doch als die französische Armee 1799 in seiner Heimat ankam, floh er nach Wien, um dort Medizin zu studieren.] George Combe would become the chief promoter of phrenology throughout the English-speaking world after he viewed a brain dissection by Spurzheim, convincing him of phrenology's merits. And he was from Edinburgh. A largely Calvinist to Enlightenment city when he was born.

Galton was born at "The Larches", a large house in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham, England, built on the site of "Fair Hill", the former home of Joseph Priestley, which the botanist William Withering had renamed. He was Charles Darwin's half-cousin, sharing the common grandparent Erasmus Darwin. His father was Samuel Tertius Galton, son of Samuel "John" Galton. The Galtons were famous and highly successful Quaker gun-manufacturers and bankers, while the Darwins were distinguished in medicine and science.

Quakers? That is like Alumbrados, except Alumbrados were a totally Spanish movement and thence as Catholic as Western Atheism (in general, not in Hemant's case) is Protestant, namely by habit. Quakers are the Protestant and more successful version of Alumbrados, and Galton is an example of what the Spanish Inquisition (which repressed Alumbrados) was ultimately trying to prevent. Symbolically, he was born 2 years after Spanish Inquisition had ended.

Thomas Henry Huxley (an agnostic, not a hard atheist) has an article giving us no indication as to his possible childhood religion. But Anglican is possible. However, I click on his "family tree" and guess John Collier was as close to him, as Ali to Mohammed. Son in law, it is called. Citing from that second article:

Collier's views on religion and ethics are interesting for their comparison with the views of THH and Julian Huxley, both of whom gave Romanes lectures on that subject. In The religion of an artist (1926) Collier explains "It [the book] is mostly concerned with ethics apart from religion... I am looking forward to a time when ethics will have taken the place of religion... My religion is really negative. [The benefits of religion] can be attained by other means which are less conducive to strife and which put less strain on upon the reasoning faculties". On secular morality: "My standard is frankly utilitarian. As far as morality is intuitive, I think it may be reduced to an inherent impulse of kindliness towards our fellow citizens". On the idea of God: "People may claim without much exaggeration that the belief in God is universal. They omit to add that superstition, often of the most degraded kind, is just as universal". And "An omnipotent Deity who sentences even the vilest of his creatures to eternal torture is infinitely more cruel than the cruellest man". And on the Church: "To me, as to most Englishmen, the triumph of Roman Catholicism would mean an unspeakable disaster to the cause of civilization". His views, then, were very close to the agnosticism of THH and the humanism of Julian Huxley.

My emphasis.

If not Protestant in the sense of Protestant positive pieties, it's retaining as a residual Protestant piety the Newton like hysteria about Roman Catholicism.

Bertrand Russell was born in a family already atheist, or partly so.

Bertrand Russell was born on 18 May 1872 at Ravenscroft, Trellech, Monmouthshire, into an influential and liberal family of the British aristocracy.[71] His parents, Viscount and Viscountess Amberley, were radical for their times. Lord Amberley consented to his wife's affair with their children's tutor, the biologist Douglas Spalding. Both were early advocates of birth control at a time when this was considered scandalous.[72] Lord Amberley was an atheist and his atheism was evident when he asked the philosopher John Stuart Mill to act as Russell's secular godfather.[73] Mill died the year after Russell's birth, but his writings had a great effect on Russell's life.

His father had been an Aristocrat becoming Deist at age 21, presumably Anglican first. John Russell, Viscount Amberley And since his father (Bertrand's grandfather) also has an article, this can be checked. John Russell, 1st Earl Russell

Russell was born small and premature into the highest echelons of the British aristocracy. The Russell family had been one of the principal Whig dynasties in England since the 17th century, and were among the richest handful of aristocratic landowning families in the country, but as a younger son of the 6th Duke of Bedford, he was not expected to inherit the family estates. As a younger son of a Duke, he bore the courtesy title "Lord John Russell," but he was not a peer in his own right. He was, therefore, able to sit in the House of Commons until he was made an earl in 1861, and transitioned into the House of Lords.

Whig, that means much more likely to be Puritan than to be Anglo-Catholic - even when Anglican. As he was, religion is stated as Church of England.

Bertrand's mother, Katharine Russell, Viscountess Amberley, née Stanley. And again, her own religious views are not indicated, but we can check with her family. Church of England? Whiggish?

Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley was presumably Church of England. He was CERTAINLY a Whig. Political party : Whig ; Liberal. And what about the mother? Henrietta Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley, the grandmother, the mother's mother of Bertrand Russell, we do get some info. "Henrietta Maria Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley (née Dillon-Lee; 21 December 1807 – 16 February 1895), was a Canadian-born political hostess and campaigner for the education of women in England." In Canada, Anglicans are not usually Anglo-Catholic.

She was a descendant of both Charles II (by his mistress Barbara Villiers) and James II of England (by his mistress Catherine Sedley). Her ancestors were Roman Catholic and had had pronounced Jacobite leanings; one of them was Maréchal de camp Arthur Dillon, a supporter of the Old Pretender. The family, exiled to France, eventually converted to Anglicanism but preferred to remain living abroad. In 1814, Henrietta and her family moved to Florence, Tuscany,[1] where she attended the receptions of Princess Louise of Stolberg-Gedern, the widow of the Young Pretender.[2] Her non-English upbringing was prominent and her grandson, the philosopher Bertrand Russell, commented:

My grandmother's outlook, throughout her life, was in some ways more Continental than English. She was always downright, free from prudery, and eighteenth-century rather than Victorian in her conversation. Her French and Italian were faultless, and she was passionately interested in Italian unity.[1]

So ex-Catholic Anglicans, anti-Papal, presumably, since supporting the Sardinian take over of Rome.

What about John Stuart Mill?

John Stuart Mill was born on Rodney Street in the Pentonville area of London, the eldest son of the Scottish philosopher, historian and economist James Mill, and Harriet Burrow. John Stuart was educated by his father, with the advice and assistance of Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place. He was given an extremely rigorous upbringing, and was deliberately shielded from association with children his own age other than his siblings. His father, a follower of Bentham and an adherent of associationism, had as his explicit aim to create a genius intellect that would carry on the cause of utilitarianism and its implementation after he and Bentham had died.

He was not an Anglican:

As a nonconformist who refused to subscribe to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, Mill was not eligible to study at the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.[12] Instead he followed his father to work for the East India Company, and attended University College, London, to hear the lectures of John Austin, the first Professor of Jurisprudence.[13] He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1856.[14]

Let's look up some ... James Mill, John Austin, Jeremy Bentham and Francis Place.

James Mill ... James Milne, later known as James Mill, was born at Northwater Bridge, in the parish of Logie Pert, Angus, Scotland, the son of James Milne, a shoemaker and small farmer. His mother, Isabel Fenton, of a family that had suffered from connection with the Stuart rising, resolved that he should receive a first-rate education, and sent him first to the parish school and then to the Montrose Academy, where he remained until the unusual age of seventeen and a half. He then entered the University of Edinburgh, where he distinguished himself as a Greek scholar. In October 1798, he was ordained as a minister of the Church of Scotland, but met with little success.

Kirk of Scotland was indeed not Anglican, but Calvinist. Explains why a bit further south his son was a non-Conformist.

John Austin (legal philosopher) - In opposition to traditional natural-law approaches to law, Austin argued that there are no necessary connections between law and morality. Human legal systems, he claimed, can and should be studied in an empirical, value-free way.

Whatever previous Protestantism there might be, we don't know. We do know that this is completely anti-Catholic.

In 1819, Austin married Sarah Taylor and became neighbors and close friends with Jeremy Bentham and James and John Stuart Mill. Largely through Bentham’s influence, Austin was appointed professor of jurisprudence at the newly founded University of London in 1826. Austin’s lectures were not well-attended, and he resigned his university post in 1834. Thereafter, aside from two stints on government commissions, Austin lived largely on his wife’s earnings as a writer and translator. Plagued by ill health, depression, and self-doubt, Austin wrote little after the publication of his major work, The Province of Jurisprudence Determined (1832). This work was largely ignored during Austin’s lifetime. It became influential only after his death when his wife, Sarah Austin, published a second edition in 1861.

And that means we can look up her ...

Sarah Austin (translator) : Born Sarah Taylor in Norwich, England in 1793, she was the youngest child of John Taylor, a yarn maker and hymn writer from a locally well-known Unitarian family.[1] Her education was overseen by her mother, Susannah Taylor. She became conversant in Latin, French, German and Italian. Her six brothers and sisters included Edward Taylor (1784–1863), a singer and music professor, John Taylor (1779–1863), a mining engineer, Richard Taylor (1781–1858), a printer and editor and publisher of scientific works. Family friends included Dr James Alderson and his daughter Amelia Opie, Henry Crabb Robinson, the banking Gurneys and Sir James Mackintosh.

Unitarian, also indebted to Protestant Reformation, since the uncle and nephew Sozzini were one of the four parallel reformations going on or starting in 1517. Note, not the more brutal ones.

Jeremy Bentham's article looks as if he had been without religion from the start. Perhaps not quite surprising, since he was born in 18th C. and Francis Place also had no childhood religion, if however a childhood trauma.

Or not. He was born in a debtors' prison, but not because his mother was in prison for debts, but because his father oversaw it.

Born in the debtors' prison which his father oversaw near Drury Lane, Place was schooled for ten years before being apprenticed to a leather-breeches maker. At eighteen he was an independent journeyman, and in 1790 was married and moved to a house near the Strand. In 1793 he became involved in and eventually the leader of a strike of leather-breeches makers, and was refused work for several years by London's master tailors; he exploited this time by reading avidly and widely. In 1794, Place joined the London Corresponding Society, a reform club, and for three years was prominent in its work, before resigning his post as chairman of the general committee in 1797 in protest at the violent tactics and rhetoric of some group members. In 1799 he became the partner in a tailor's shop, and a year later set up his own highly successful business at 16 Charing Cross. ... It was around this time that he became involved in the movement for organised, public education, believing it to be a means of eradicating the ills of the working class. In the early 1820s he also became a Malthusian, believing that as the population increased it would outstrip the food supply. Despite himself having fathered fifteen children, he advocated the use of contraception, although was not specific about in what forms. It was on this topic that he wrote his only published book, the influential and controversial Illustrations and Proofs of the Principles of Population, in 1822.

Here some wikipedians are driving "show your sources" to absurdity. There is a note 1 to a Spartacus Educational. And there is a note beside it saying [better source needed]. Perhaps this educational would be a not too good source for claim Illustrations and Proofs of the Principles of Population was his only book, but it would hardly have gotten away lying or even dreaming up the title and the year of publication. Here is what I find about the site:

In September, 1997, Spartacus Educational founder and managing director John Simkin became the first educational publisher in Britain to establish a website that was willing to provide teachers and students with free educational materials. According to a survey carried out by the Fischer Trust, Spartacus Educational is one of the top three websites used by history teachers and students in Britain (the other two are BBC History and the Public Record Office’s Learning Curve). The Spartacus Educational website currently gets up to 7 million page impressions a month and 3 million unique visitors.

That COULD explain why British history students can believe average life span of Middle Ages was extremely short (will have to look first before deciding on this) while John Simkin has insufficient evidence for that. But John Simkin would (as little as I) dream of giving an apparent title with a wrong year or wrong author. Actually, it seems the site has withdrawn a page called Life in the Middle Ages:

Page Not Found

Sorry, but the page you were trying to view does not exist.

On the other hand, they now have Yalding: Medieval Village Project KS3 Am looking at it. For the burial records of 1329 to 1336, the child deaths are numerous and even teen deaths will have to be regarded as a separate category to those of men and women over 20 to get median of the latter as high as between 41 and 43. The medium is 46.6.

Well, John Simkin seems to have had a good argument for 1329 - January 1336, at least! Based on those years, that village, life expectancy at birth was 22.44 years, medium. True, I lowered it by counting all deaths below 1 year as 0, instead of fractions, but still. Also, the death balance between women and men over 20 were 3 to 22. Perhaps these years were not quite typical. But what they do show is some very clear child mortality and also rather low life expectancy above the age of 20. Wonder if the same holds for the Clares of that time, the proprietors of Yalding.

Back to Protestant roots of most Western Atheism. Influences of Bentham in his turn are listed as: Protagoras · Epicurus · John Locke · David Hume · Montesquieu · Helvétius · Hobbes · Beccaria · Adam Smith.

The first two are obviously Ancient Greeks, who owe nothing to Protestantism, any more than the family background of Hemant.

John Locke  "Father of the Fundies"
David Hume  starting w. Kirk of Scotland?
Montesquieu  Catholic w. Protestant wife
Helvétius  Freemason
Hobbes  Anglican?
Beccaria  Catholic?
Adam Smith.  starting w. Kirk of Scotland

Three certain Protestants (including Montesquieu's wife), two probable ones, makes five on balance. One certain Catholic (Montesquieu), one probable such, makes two on balance. One freemason. If we take certains only, 3P+1C+1F. If we takes probables too, 5P+2C+1F. So, Protestants get 3/5 or 5/8 of his post-Classic influences. Note that not all of these were atheists. Hobbes, I read somewhere, believed God was a bodily being ... as I think do Watchtower Society and Old Russellians.

Wittgenstein who lost faith was a Catholic at start - of a family which had been previously Protestant and Jewish. He was influenced by an Otto Weininger

Otto Weininger was born on April 3, 1880, in Vienna as a son of the Jewish goldsmith Leopold Weininger and his wife Adelheid. After attending primary school and graduating from secondary school in July 1898, Weininger registered at the University of Vienna in October of the same year. He studied philosophy and psychology but took courses in natural sciences and medicine as well. Weininger learned Greek, Latin, French and English very early, later also Spanish and Italian, and acquired passive knowledge of the languages of August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen (i.e., Swedish and Danish/Norwegian).

In the autumn of 1901 Weininger tried to find a publisher for his work Eros and the Psyche – which he submitted to his professors Friedrich Jodl and Laurenz Müllner as his thesis in 1902. He met Sigmund Freud, who, however, did not recommend the text to a publisher. His professors accepted the thesis and Weininger received his Ph.D. degree in July 1902.[4] Shortly thereafter he became proudly and enthusiastically a Protestant.

And Strindberg was a lapsed Lutheran who went Arian and Alchemist, among other things. And Ibsen was of a family which would have formally been Lutheran and which may have lapsed even a generation or two before. Though probably rather into freemasonry than rank atheism. His greatgrandfather was obviously a Lutheran, since his widow married a Lutheran "priest":

Henrik Ibsen (1726–1765), merchant in Skien, who married Wenche Dishington (1738–1780). After Ibsen's death, Wenche married parish priest Jacob von der Lippe (1732–1804)

Camus? On the one hand, his adhesion to Algerian Communist Party was not really doctrinally Marxist. Then again, his "Atheism" was rather Agnosticism - as is more typical of lapsed Catholics, perhaps, than strong Atheism. This - his being Agnostic - I learned from la biquipedia, along with fact his influences include Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. Also, though his mother was Spanish, his father was Alsatian. Now, let's look at N and S.

Schopenhauer was born on 22 February 1788, in the city of Danzig (then part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; present day Gdańsk, Poland) on Heiligegeistgasse (known in the present day as Św. Ducha 47), the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer,[19] both descendants of wealthy German patrician families. When Danzig became part of Prussia in 1793, Heinrich moved to Hamburg, although his firm continued trading in Danzig.

In other words rather certainly a Protestant, Lutheran, possibly looking down on Polish Catholics.

Born on 15 October 1844, Nietzsche grew up in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony. He was named after King Frederick William IV of Prussia, who turned forty-nine on the day of Nietzsche's birth.

Rather probable he was a Protestant. Yes, indeed:

In 1854, he began to attend Domgymnasium in Naumburg. Because his father had worked for the state (as a pastor) the now-fatherless Nietzsche was offered a scholarship to study at the internationally recognized Schulpforta (the claim that Nietzsche was admitted on the strength of his academic competence has been debunked: his grades were nowhere near the top of the class).

In other words, like Astrid Lindgren, a famous Swedish Atheist and a storyteller, Nietzsche was "God's grand child" as certain Evangelicals have termed a "syndrome" of turning away from God after too much family saturation. A phenomenon which seems to be more apparent among Protestants having "priest"/pastors as fathers, or having "born again Christian" parents (with great involvement of emotional type), than among Catholics having priests and monks as uncles or nuns as aunts.

Have I made my point?

If Hemant Mehta had been the first atheist we knew of ever, atheism could have been a branch of Jainism, and so be a clearly Eastern Atheism. Since he is not, atheism is really Western Atheism°°** a branch of Protestantism.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Sts Evagrius, Priscian
and Companions, Martyrs

* Capital letter : it is certainly the name of a school, philosophically speaking! If not more than one ... ** This means if certain people think I'd change habits about how openly or rather not I speak of sex, just because I apostasised, should I do so, and think they would be helping me to get laid by getting me off God, they are wrong. I would most probably not even then want to just get laid or to have a large and "safe" sexual experience before settling for marriage. I might be a walking encyclopedia, but I am not trying to become a walking Kama Sutra. My on and off but mostly atheist grandmother was even more prudish than I, my mother not much less. *** Ascendancy, but if his preacher grandfather was perhaps not Calvinist and not Ulster Scots, he was at least very Puritan in outlook. ° Not sure if apostasy was his own or happened earlier in family. °° Different for different persons, obviously. °°° Like some of the National Socialists who were later hanged in Nüremberg : Alois Brunner was of a Catholic small town family, but at 11 went to a big town for continued school, where Protestants dominated. *° Locke's religious trajectory began in Calvinist trinitarianism, but by the time of the Reflections (1695) Locke was advocating not just Socinian views on tolerance but also Socinian Christology. However Wainwright (1987) notes that in the posthumously published Paraphrase (1707) Locke's interpretation of one verse, Ephesians 1:10, is markedly different from that of Socinians like Biddle, and may indicate that near the end of his life Locke returned nearer to an Arian position, thereby accepting Christ's pre-existence. In fact, historian John Marshall suggests that Locke's view of Christ ended, "somewhere between Socianism and Arianism." - a nice fit for Watchtower Society, then. But his defense of "Christianity in general" is such as Fundies including Trinitarians are citing to this day. °°** With Theravada Buddhism as the real Eastern Atheism.

mercredi 5 octobre 2016

Douglas Adams Sentient Puddle Answered

Here is an argument by Douglas Adams, on his wiki page.

Adams described himself as a "radical atheist", adding radical for emphasis so he would not be asked if he meant agnostic. He told American Atheists that this made things easier, but most importantly it conveyed the fact that he really meant it. "I am convinced that there is not a god," he said. He imagined a sentient puddle who wakes up one morning and thinks, "This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!" to demonstrate his view that the fine-tuned Universe argument for God was a fallacy.

Well - God fine tuned the universe for puddles too!/HGL

lundi 3 octobre 2016

Answering Barry Hampe on his 8 evidences against God

I saw this list on Quora, where he was giving a link to it. From another answer to a question. Here is the list:

So, on the atheist side, I [Barry Hampe] would list:

  • The similarity of ancient folk tales about gods that have been adopted into various religions. This suggests that gods are a human invention.
  • How some religions have fallen out of favor -- Greek, Roman, Norse, for example -- and are now called "myths," suggesting that current-day religions will likely experience the same fate. Why? Because they are stories with no basis in fact. They, too, are myths.
  • The absolute lack of any convincing evidence that any gods exist now or ever have existed, suggesting (but not absolutely proving) that gods are fictional characters in human folklore, not supernatural agents.
  • Absence of evidence that something exists, while not rising to the level of conclusive proof, is evidence of the absence of that thing. It's the standard we use for dragons, leprechauns, the Loch Ness monster, the yeti, and the monster under the bed. Therefore it is the standard we should use for gods.
  • The inability of people of faith to produce any evidence for the existence of their gods that would be admissible in a court of law, when challenged to do so. They offer arguments and hypothetical analogies instead. One must assume that if they had convincing evidence they would gladly produce it when challenged to do so, rather than offering trivial ideas such as, "there very well could be a God who simply chose not to provide evidence that He exists."(One wants to ask how anyone would have a chance to know about such a god, and why they would bother to believe in it.)
  • The negative results of prayer experiments.
  • The variety of real world explanations -- not involving contact with some god -- for the personal experiences that some theists claim prove to them that some god exists.
  • All the bad stuff that happens on the watch of a supposedly kind, benevolent, and loving god. Childhood leukemia, for example.

And here are my responses:

The similarity of ancient folk tales about gods that have been adopted into various religions. This suggests that gods are a human invention.

Why that rather than variation of common memories, specifically of Flood, Fall, Tower of Babel and a few more?

How some religions have fallen out of favor -- Greek, Roman, Norse, for example -- and are now called "myths," suggesting that current-day religions will likely experience the same fate. Why? Because they are stories with no basis in fact. They, too, are myths.

I do not think Greek, Roman, Norse or Indic myths about how pre-human world of gods began has sufficient basis in fact, that is not to say I consider all stories considered as part of their mythologies as non-factual.

Abiogenesis has as little basis in fact as Chaos producing Gaia, Erebos, Nyx and Eros - or ice and fire in Ginnungagap producing Audhumbla and Ymer.

The absolute lack of any convincing evidence that any gods exist now or ever have existed, suggesting (but not absolutely proving) that gods are fictional characters in human folklore, not supernatural agents.

As for "absolute" lack of "convincing" evidence, you are admitting there is some evidence at least purported as such, even if not convincing you.

This makes the lack relative, namely to your standard of what is convincing.

And it may be a biassed rather than a high one.

Absence of evidence that something exists, while not rising to the level of conclusive proof, is evidence of the absence of that thing. It's the standard we use for dragons, leprechauns, the Loch Ness monster, the yeti, and the monster under the bed. Therefore it is the standard we should use for gods.

The Monster under the bed is usually a scare of childhood, if as much.

For the rest, there is at least some evidence. Your evidence on leprechauns depends on what you think of reliability of the Irish peasants claiming to have seen them. And so on.

The inability of people of faith to produce any evidence for the existence of their gods that would be admissible in a court of law, when challenged to do so. They offer arguments and hypothetical analogies instead. One must assume that if they had convincing evidence they would gladly produce it when challenged to do so, rather than offering trivial ideas such as, "there very well could be a God who simply chose not to provide evidence that He exists." (One wants to ask how anyone would have a chance to know about such a god, and why they would bother to believe in it.)

Whoever said "there very well could be a God who simply chose not to provide evidence that He exists," was not a Thomist and insufficiently familiar with Romans 1:18-20.

In a court of law, when not weighing "beyond reasonable doubt", but about "in the balance of probabilities", I am not sure that Prima Via would fare worse than Newtonian explanation of night and day - once the court had decided to try that case.

When weighing "beyond reasonable doubt" the court would certainly tend to answer according to previous biasses on what is reasonable.

The negative results of prayer experiments.


The variety of real world explanations -- not involving contact with some god -- for the personal experiences that some theists claim prove to them that some god exists.

I am not using personal experiences as apologetic proof.

All the bad stuff that happens on the watch of a supposedly kind, benevolent, and loving god. Childhood leukemia, for example.

God knowing everything, God knows who is better off dead (and apart from cases of guilt for crimes meriting death penalty or acts in self defense and war, when just, God is the only one who knows that). A child who is baptised and dies of leucemia at 5 is pretty certain of being eternally in Heaven.

Some such would have apostasised and gone to Hell, if given the years to grow up and do the reflections you did.

Above will be forwarded to him next time I log into quora, so he can answer and so he can tell me if quora or his blog is best for attribution link.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus

vendredi 30 septembre 2016

Did Dewey Ever Refute or Pretend to Refute His Proof For God?

In his first book, titled Psychology*, Dewey argued that logic proved God. This claim provoked a ‘fiery response’ from his former professors, including G. Stanley Hall and William James at Harvard. Hall himself was also reared by devout Christian parents, who agreed to send him to college only if he would study for the ministry. At college, Hall also “was especially attracted to Charles Darwin’s ideas, and soon turned into a full-blown eugenicist”. (p. 158) Hall also soon agreed with Darwin, arguing that allowing inferior humans to breed is counter-productive to evolution, and “interfered with the movement of natural selection toward the development of a super-race”. (p. 158) Swanson then documented that this event was the start of the pressure on Dewey to reject Christianity. A critical factor was that Dewey came to consider Darwin as the greatest philosopher ever, and even wrote an article defending this view, titled “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy” (p. 159).

So, Dewey agreed with C. S. Lewis and van Til. Logic proves God.

THEN he went atheist.

What did he THEN argue about origin of logic? Any possibly atheist reader who knows?

* Quote from a review on CMI:

Darwin’s corrosive influence on literature and society as a whole
Review of Apostate—The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West by Kevin Swanson
Reviewed by Jerry Bergman

samedi 24 septembre 2016

Parallel Answer to CMI

1) Are Proofs of God's Existence Compatible with Christianity? · 2) Parallel Answer to CMI

This letter was sent to CMI, the one I am quoting from.

I am not looking at Halley's answer, but giving mine.

I used Argument from Reason with people and there were a couple objections that came up that I was wondering if you could take a look at.

  • 1. They said that even though some of our thoughts/reasoning might be unreliable, evolution (and natural selection) would tend to produce beliefs that were accurate over time, since natural selection has been “working” on it for a long time.

  • 2. Didn’t quite understand what they meant by this, but they also said that using the scientific method overcomes any difficulty in interpreting data (or information), therefore any false beliefs/thoughts that we had would be nullified.

  • 3. The other one I couldn’t answer well was that they said just because we can’t prove that our thoughts are reliable doesn’t mean they aren’t, and that it’s no different than saying that we as Christians trusting God.

Let us take it one by one.

They said that even though some of our thoughts/reasoning might be unreliable, evolution (and natural selection) would tend to produce beliefs that were accurate over time, since natural selection has been “working” on it for a long time.

Natural selection (as understood by evolutionists) favours survival fitness, not truth.

In certain cases too much accuracy would not add survival fitness, but rather an overload and therefore detract from survival fitness.

Therefore natural selection could have eliminated accurate modes of reasoning because not survival fit - if the story were true.

And therefore, we would not be able to tell whether the story is true. If it is and is the whole story. Only if it isn't.

Then Natural selection can only select from what is there. It cannot produce mind. It can only favour it, if it emerges, but not produce it.

In animal "minds", it cannot produce what we mean by mind, it cannot produce reason, only favour it should it emerge.

Therefore we have no reason to believe it would have emerged as an universally valid "tool" from mindless matter, via irrational life.

And therefore, we would not be able to tell whether the story is true. If it is and is the whole story. Only if it isn't.

Furthermore, objectioner seems to have forgotten what reason means.

Reason does not mean "reliable thoughts" as opposed to "unreliable thoughts". Reason means one can with universal validity decide whether a thought is reliable, and that we sometimes do.

Evolution does not even give any plausible scenario for unreliable thoughts, let alone reliable ones, and let alone reason, able to judge between the two.

And therefore, we would not be able to tell whether the story is true. If it is and is the whole story. Only if it isn't.

Didn’t quite understand what they meant by this, but they also said that using the scientific method overcomes any difficulty in interpreting data (or information), therefore any false beliefs/thoughts that we had would be nullified.

Scientific method is only a certain narrow (and in some versions even mistaken) application of reason.

Therefore it is as reliable as reason, at the best, or less.

If we have no reason to trust reason, we have no reason to trust the scientific method either.

And as it happens, see 1, evolution story gives us no reason to trust our reason.

And therefore, we would not be able to tell whether the story is true. If it is and is the whole story. Only if it isn't.

The other one I couldn’t answer well was that they said just because we can’t prove that our thoughts are reliable doesn’t mean they aren’t, and that it’s no different than saying that we as Christians trusting God.

We can prove there is a God.

And they not only cannot prove their thoughts are reliable.

They cannot even disprove a very strong suspicion that, if they were right on evolution, it is not.

Or, for very strong suspicion, make it certainty.

This being one of the proofs for an eternal and universal mind, which everyone calls God.

Now, go and read Mr. Halley's answer to the same letter.

Can evolution produce rational minds?
Answering some critics of the argument from reason
Published: 24 September 2016 (GMT+10)

I only looked at the top, before the letter, not to the rest.

If a rational God is not responsible for human minds, and instead they were cobbled together by unguided evolutionary processes, we should not expect them to be trustworthy. Since our minds are generally trustworthy, though, the evolutionary worldview must not be correct. This is one form of the ‘argument from reason’, covered in
Monkey minds: How evolution undercuts reason and science.

I take some objection at Halley just saying "reliable" rather than "universally valid", which reason per se is.

This undercuts his argument a bit, and is responsible for some of the criticisms given.

Now I am reading the response. His response to 1 equals my Answer + points a and b, and I presume they are covered in the link to previous. Point c seems lacking. And to C. S. Lewis in Miracles, it was crucial.

His response to 2 is equal to mine and covers some of my 1c.

His response to 3 is very well argued, and I covered it also by my use of unreal mode in several of the responses previous and in my response to this. Confer his:

  • If human beings were solely the product of a blind evolutionary process, our minds would not be generally reliable.
  • Our minds are generally reliable.
  • Therefore, human beings are not solely the product of a blind evolutionary process.

It’s the first premise that the critics need to address. Note, again, the first premise is not about the way the world is. It’s about what follows from the atheist’s claims about our origin and composition.

And mine above:

...And as it happens, see 1, evolution story gives us no reason to trust our reason.

And therefore, we would not be able to tell whether the story is true. If it is and is the whole story. Only if it isn't.

...They cannot even disprove a very strong suspicion that, if they were right on evolution, it is not.

Or, for very strong suspicion, make it certainty.

This being one of the proofs for an eternal and universal mind, which everyone calls God.

So, though I did not look on his answers, I came to the same conclusion. Of course, we both looked at certain chapters in C. S. Lewis' Miracles before that. In my case years ago. But if I hadn't understood them, how come I am saying same thing as another of his readers, and that without actually copying him?

The proof of God's existence from reason (and human reason, like day and night, are among the things that are made and so falls under Romans 1:18-20) was therefore well put by C. S. Lewis in his book Miracles.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Our Lady of Mercy

PS, one reason why Evolutionists might be shrinking back from debates more and more is that debating does very obviously appeal to the universal validity of reason. It appeals to the fact that a mode of syllogism which is valid in one debater remains valid in the other debater, just like a fact which is correct in the one debater remains correct when taken up by the other debater. Therefore, it may be that many Evolutionists now are arguing "correctness, yes, that WE have, universal validity, no, that NO ONE has". And the refusal to argue their case in debates may be a way of inculcating that./HGL


Creation vs. Evolution : Were Evolutionists More Willing to Debate in Early 80's?

jeudi 22 septembre 2016

Are Proofs of God's Existence Compatible with Christianity?

1) Are Proofs of God's Existence Compatible with Christianity? · 2) Parallel Answer to CMI

Not so, seems Pascal to say:

It is a remarkable fact that no canonical writer has ever used Nature to prove God.

From Pascal, Pensées, IV, 243. As cited by CSL in his preface to The Problem of Pain.

Well, duh, as it happens, one canonical writer has:

Romans 1: [18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: [19] Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.

If nature does not prove God, the "things that are made" don't prove Him and Pagans are excused.

So, St Paul was in fact proving God's existence from what he called the "things that are made" and we "nature". Both external and human. Both are made. And both would still in Pascal's time (I think) have been considered admissible content for the concept "nature".

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Day after St Matthew

mardi 20 septembre 2016

Fact Check Alert, Mr Carrier! Fact Check Alert!

Richard Carrier, on his blog ...

Virgin Birth: It’s Pagan, Guys. Get Over It.
by Richard Carrier on September 19, 2016

... cites his own earlier article* in answer to one of Huffington Post:

...For example, in reviewing his infamously miseducating Huffington Post article on the historicity of Jesus, I noted:

... He is forced to assume T]hat they “just happened” to come up with the idea of a virgin born son of god, when surrounded by virgin born sons of god, as if by total coincidence. (Can you imagine it? They independently think up the idea, then go preaching around Gentile cities and discover there are all these other virgin born sons of god…why, golly gee, what a coincidence! See Not the Impossible Faith, pp. 76-78, near the end of chapter 2, where Perseus is an example recognized even by early Christians as being “virgin born”; and to which can be added … Ra, in the tradition that had him born of the virgin Neith; … etc.).

Early Christians may indeed have considered the story of Danaë as possible, but in so far as demonic adultery takes the place of divine such. After the Golden Shower, Danaë was no longer a virgin.

So, using the link he gave in his new article, I go back to see if he can give any reference for early Christians regarding Perseus' birth as a Virgin Birth.

I get to the text passage on ...

Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism ; Mistake #3
by Richard Carrier on March 21, 2012

... and find this passage:

See Not the Impossible Faith, pp. 76-78, near the end of chapter 2, where Perseus is an example recognized even by early Christians as being “virgin born”; and to which can be added, in some traditions, the virgin birth of Romulus: Plutarch, Life of Romulus 3; Ra, in the tradition that had him born of the virgin Neith; Dionysus, in the tradition by which Semele is impregnated with a potion; etc.

This was original form. Now with strikeouts:

See Not the Impossible Faith, pp. 76-78, near the end of chapter 2, where Perseus is an example recognized even by early Christians as being “virgin born”; and to which can be added, in some traditions, the virgin birth of Romulus: Plutarch, Life of Romulus 3; Ra, in the tradition that had him born of the virgin Neith; Dionysus, in the tradition by which Semele is impregnated with a potion; etc. [Update: For more accurate treatment of these and other examples see my new article on Virgin Birth])

I find there exactly ONE thing, namely a link to the new article I started with.

One new thing, that is, I also found a link to the wiki on Danaë.

But what I do NOT find is ANY example of an early Christian on whom Richard Carrier could foist the charge in ...

... Not the Impossible Faith, pp. 76-78, near the end of chapter 2, where Perseus is an example recognized even by early Christians as being “virgin born”; ...

Now, what exactly are we expected to find if we go to a Patristic link after a search for Perseus? St Justin's First Apology, chapter 21:

And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. For you know how many sons your esteemed writers ascribed to Jupiter: Mercury, the interpreting word and teacher of all; Æsculapius, who, though he was a great physician, was struck by a thunderbolt, and so ascended to heaven; and Bacchus too, after he had been torn limb from limb; and Hercules, when he had committed himself to the flames to escape his toils; and the sons of Leda, and Dioscuri; and Perseus, son of Danae; and Bellerophon, who, though sprung from mortals, rose to heaven on the horse Pegasus. For what shall I say of Ariadne, and those who, like her, have been declared to be set among the stars? And what of the emperors who die among yourselves, whom you deem worthy of deification, and in whose behalf you produce some one who swears he has seen the burning Cæsar rise to heaven from the funeral pyre? And what kind of deeds are recorded of each of these reputed sons of Jupiter, it is needless to tell to those who already know. This only shall be said, that they are written for the advantage and encouragement of youthful scholars; for all reckon it an honourable thing to imitate the gods. But far be such a thought concerning the gods from every well-conditioned soul, as to believe that Jupiter himself, the governor and creator of all things, was both a parricide and the son of a parricide, and that being overcome by the love of base and shameful pleasures, he came in to Ganymede and those many women whom he had violated and that his sons did like actions. But, as we said above, wicked devils perpetrated these things. And we have learned that those only are deified who have lived near to God in holiness and virtue; and we believe that those who live wickedly and do not repent are punished in everlasting fire.

First of all, "was produced without sexual union" does not do full justice to Virgin Birth. Second, he ends the reflection by saying "wicked devils perpetrated these things." The wording without sexual union (I suppose "sine coitu" in Latin**) also applies to test tube babies, and early Christians did consider demons capable of acting successively succuba and incubus to produce such. But test tube babies are no virgin births. They do have fathers, even if these fathers did not have a coitus with their mothers. And the context is "we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter." St Justin is saying to the Emperor "if you have a right to believe in Perseus, we are not immoral for believing in Jesus".

This is rather a far cry from St Justin (admittedly an early Christian) recognising Perseus as a Virgin Birth.

The exact same St Justin is actually objecting when Trypho is pushing an analogue between Jesus Christ and Perseus. Chapter 67:

The Scripture has not, 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,' but, 'Behold, the young woman shall conceive, and bear a son,' and so on, as you quoted. But the whole prophecy refers to Hezekiah, and it is proved that it was fulfilled in him, according to the terms of this prophecy. Moreover, in the fables of those who are called Greeks, it is written that Perseus was begotten of Danae, who was a virgin; he who was called among them Zeus having descended on her in the form of a golden shower. And you ought to feel ashamed when you make assertions similar to theirs, and rather [should] say that this Jesus was born man of men. And if you prove from the Scriptures that He is the Christ, and that on account of having led a life conformed to the law, and perfect, He deserved the honour of being elected to be Christ, [it is well]; but do not venture to tell monstrous phenomena, lest you be convicted of talking foolishly like the Greeks.

Trypho, I wish to persuade you, and all men in short, of this, that even though you talk worse things in ridicule and in jest, you will not move me from my fixed design; but I shall always adduce from the words which you think can be brought forward [by you] as proof [of your own views], the demonstration of what I have stated along with the testimony of the Scriptures. You are not, however, acting fairly or truthfully in attempting to undo those things in which there has been constantly agreement between us; namely, that certain commands were instituted by Moses on account of the hardness of your people's hearts. For you said that, by reason of His living conformably to law, He was elected and became Christ, if indeed He were proved to be so.

You admitted to us that He was both circumcised, and observed the other legal ceremonies ordained by Moses.

I have admitted it, and do admit it:
yet I have admitted that He endured all these not as if He were justified by them, but completing the dispensation which His Father, the Maker of all things, and Lord and God, wished Him [to complete]. For I admit that He endured crucifixion and death, and the incarnation, and the suffering of as many afflictions as your nation put upon Him. But since again you dissent from that to which you but lately assented, Trypho, answer me:
Are those righteous patriarchs who lived before Moses, who observed none of those [ordinances] which, the Scripture shows, received the commencement of [their] institution from Moses, saved, [and have they attained to] the inheritance of the blessed?

The Scriptures compel me to admit it.

Likewise I again ask you, did God enjoin your fathers to present the offerings and sacrifices because He had need of them, or because of the hardness of their hearts and tendency to idolatry?

The latter the Scriptures in like manner compel us to admit.

Likewise, did not the Scriptures predict that God promised to dispense a new covenant besides that which [was dispensed] in the mountain Horeb?

This, too, had been predicted.

Was not the old covenant laid on your fathers with fear and trembling, so that they could not give ear to God?

He admitted it.

What then? God promised that there would be another covenant, not like that old one, and said that it would be laid on them without fear, and trembling, and lightnings, and that it would be such as to show what kind of commands and deeds God knows to be eternal and suited to every nation, and what commandments He has given, suiting them to the hardness of your people's hearts, as He exclaims also by the prophets.

To this also, those who are lovers of truth and not lovers of strife must assuredly assent.

I know not how you speak of persons very fond of strife, [since] you yourself oftentimes were plainly acting in this very manner, frequently contradicting what you had agreed to.

In fact, Saint Justin does not answer the charge about Perseus, directly, but takes the other part to which he answers. A little bit later however, he does mention it as an afterthought, chapter 70, last words highlighted by me:

[Justin:] And when those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave, do I not perceive here that the utterance of Daniel, that a stone without hands was cut out of a great mountain, has been imitated by them, and that they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah's words? For they contrived that the words of righteousness be quoted also by them. But I must repeat to you the words of Isaiah referred to, in order that from them you may know that these things are so. They are these: 'Hear, you that are far off, what I have done; those that are near shall know my might. The sinners in Zion are removed; trembling shall seize the impious. Who shall announce to you the everlasting place? The man who walks in righteousness, speaks in the right way, hates sin and unrighteousness, and keeps his hands pure from bribes, stops the ears from hearing the unjust judgment of blood closes the eyes from seeing unrighteousness: he shall dwell in the lofty cave of the strong rock. Bread shall be given to him, and his water [shall be] sure. You shall see the King with glory, and your eyes shall look far off. Your soul shall pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Where is the scribe? Where are the counsellors? Where is he that numbers those who are nourished—the small and great people? With whom they did not take counsel, nor knew the depth of the voices, so that they heard not. The people who have become depreciated, and there is no understanding in him who hears.' Isaiah 33:13-19 Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [allusion is made] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks. And this prophecy proves that we shall behold this very King with glory; and the very terms of the prophecy declare loudly, that the people foreknown to believe in Him were foreknown to pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Moreover, these Scriptures are equally explicit in saying, that those who are reputed to know the writings of the Scriptures, and who hear the prophecies, have no understanding. And when I hear, Trypho, that Perseus was begotten of a virgin, I understand that the deceiving serpent counterfeited also this.

In other words, he is not saying "Perseus was begotten by a virgin", he is saying "I hear that Perseus was begotten by a virgin, I understand however this is not the real thing."

Precisely as a Christian would say today. Whether he was "mythicist" or "incubist" about the conception of Acrisius' grandson. I am, btw, "incubist" about poor Perseus.

Next link in my google is St Jerome's letter 107. Here "Perseus" is just mentioned as a kind of "scout totem" for Mithras worshippers. Next Stromata, Perseus not in text. Next St Augustine, De Civitate, XVII, chapter 13 ends in a complaint:

Men believed that in those times Perseus and his wife Andromeda were raised into heaven after their death, so that they were not ashamed or afraid to mark out their images by constellations, and call them by their names.

This was, by the way, in the time of Joshua Ben Nun. Or rather after his death. "After the death of Joshua the son of Nun, the people of God had judges, in whose times they were alternately humbled by afflictions on account of their sins, and consoled by prosperity through the compassion of God. In those times ..."

Actually, he mentions Danaë in the chapter too:

These fables, easily found in histories containing a true account of events, bring us down to the Trojan war, at which Marcus Varro has closed his second book about the race of the Roman people; and they are so skillfully invented by men as to involve no scandal to the gods. But whoever have pretended as to Jupiter's rape of Ganymede, a very beautiful boy, that king Tantalus committed the crime, and the fable ascribed it to Jupiter; or as to his impregnating Danäe as a golden shower, that it means that the woman's virtue was corrupted by gold: whether these things were really done or only fabled in those days, or were really done by others and falsely ascribed to Jupiter, it is impossible to tell how much wickedness must have been taken for granted in men's hearts that they should be thought able to listen to such lies with patience.

In other words, whatever person impregnated Danaë, it is a very bad lie to call him "the highest" or "optimus maximus" or "king of heaven". If Greeks were able to do so anyway, they were taking a very great deal of wickedness for granted.

However, that Danaë got pregnant, St Augustine is not denying. And he is very certainly not calling her a virgin, either.

Chapter 8 of Book II of Lactantius' Institutes was mentioning a king Perseus who lived in times when Rome was involved, not the husband of Andromeda.

So, no. That Perseus had a possibly "miraculous" birth (if a demon acting succuba, incubus and inseminator can be described as working a miracle) does not add up to its being a Virgin Birth. Most sources Richard Carrier could hope for don't say, one source speaks of a woman's virtue corruped by gold, and one - the one I think he might have thought of - was speaking of a diabolic counterfeit.

I think Richard Carrier owes historically minded people a somewhat better fact check and some reference, if he has any beyond St Justin.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Vigil of St Matthew

PS - with Romulus, RC is missing more than one point. First, the god Mars is supposed to have had sex with his mother Rhea Silvia. So, as with Hephaestus, on RC's own words, Romulus does not even on the most supernatural version of the story count as virginally conceived. The idea of virginal conception really is unique.

And the foul legend of the legionary Panthera (which is not recorded as a personal name, as far as I know) is of course refuted by the miracles of Christ. Curing lepers and raising dead is divine. What Romulus got "from Mars" can be better described as a "luck charm" than as miraculous./HGL

* Citing oneself does not mean taking oneself as a reference, it merely means one has occasion to repeat what one has already said and not wanting to write it all over again. ** If this is wrong, Richard Carrier is free to cry "Fact Check Alert, Mr Lundahl! Fact Check Alert!" to me.

lundi 19 septembre 2016

Answering Richard Carrier on Corinthian Creed vs Rest of Christianity

Here is a post by Richard Carrier:

Dating the Corinthian Creed
by Richard Carrier on August 10

I'm here quoting what I spontaneously find most relevant:

Yes, maybe Paul’s letters are a forgery. But that’s very unlikely. Yes, Paul added at least one line (verse 8, appending his own conversion years later to the original). But the first three lines certainly are original components of the sect’s founding creed (written in non-Pauline style). Yes, the text may have become corrupted (I suspect verse 6 originally said something like, “then he appeared to all the brethren together at the Pentecost” and not “then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once”; and verse 7 looks like a post-Pauline scribal addition, as it breaks the logic of the sequence and is too redundant, just repeating the same information already conveyed in verses 5 and 6, since everyone who saw Jesus was already an apostle and James the pillar was already one of the twelve: see Empty Tomb, pp. 192-93). But the essential elements of the creed (especially verses 3 to 5), even if we have to account for some transmission error (in verses 6 and 7), still dates to the sect’s origin. It’s what distinguishes Christianity from any other sect of Judaism. So it’s the only thing Peter (Cephas) and the other pillars (James and John) could have been preaching before Paul joined the religion. And Paul joined it within years of its founding (internal evidence in Paul’s letters places his conversion before 37 A.D., and he attests in Galatians 1 that he was preaching the Corinthian creed immediately thereupon: OHJ, pp. 139, 516, 536, 558).

The way Paul writes about the sect makes clear he believed this was the creed Christians were preaching before his conversion; and he claims that the original apostles confirmed this to him years later, and he could hardly have been making that up, as then he’d have been exposed the moment anyone checked this with them. So the Corinthian Creed, at least verses 3-5, definitely existed and was the central “gospel” Christians were preaching in the early 30s A.D. That’s definitely no later than a few years after the purported death of Jesus. And since the sect’s formation only makes sense in light of this being its seminal and distinguishing message, it must have been formulated in the very first weeks of the movement. We can’t be certain how soon that actually was after the death of Jesus (though the creed says Jesus was raised on the third day, it conspicuously does not say how much later it was when he appeared). But it can’t have been more than a few years, and could well have been mere months (though one can’t then assert that it was mere months; that would be another possibiliter fallacy).

No Christian would disagree with all content of the here so called Corinthian Creed being there from the first.

But the problem is how come Richard Carrier says all the rest was invented by Paul after his conversion.

Sure, St Paul certainly DID believe these things were taught from the first.

Sure, St Paul certainly DID have some occasion of checking that.

BUT he had occasion to check more than that and we have no solid reason to believe he would have been accepted as an Apostle if he had gone about adding a lot which wasn't already there.

We do have a reason to believe that if, by miracle, he had gotten a very solid instruction in Christian truth totally OUTSIDE his possibilities and opportunities for gaining any of it by human and social means, without any revelation, this would have been to them a very good reason to accept his revelation as true, his conversion as honest and his doctrine as trustworthy.

So, Richard Carrier has once again showed the talent of Higher Criticism of making topsy turvy cases.

Nevertheless, the quote is very welcome for what it contains as admission, and a hat tip goes to his original post!

If you keep it up, you may be joining Tim O'Neill in the club of Atheists suspected of being undercover Christians!

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Our Lady of LaSalette

mercredi 13 juillet 2016

Improbable, but True : Richard Carrier Exists

Richard Carrier
Because Christians don’t understand how evidence works, they’ve literally argued that there is no more evidence for my existence than there is for the existence of Jesus their Christ. Never mind that that’s already wildly false. Here is your chance to see how evidence works, and confirm for yourself, as an eyewitness, that I do indeed exist!

This is a modern-day whistle-stop tour. I’ll be driving each day from one major city to the next, and giving a talk, or appearing in some public fashion selling and signing my books, and happily chatting and glad-handing and posing for photos for anyone who wants to verify my historicity.

OK, but apart from scale of voyage and means of locomotion, Jesus did the same thing.

Richard Carrier
Here is the tour schedule…

  • Reno (May 24)
  • SLC (May 25)
  • Denver (May 26)
  • Omaha (May 27)
  • Kansas City (May 28; then May 29)
  • Columbus (June 14)

Reminds me of a tour schedule like Nazareth, home of Elizabeth, Bethlehem (born + possibly first two years), Egypt, Nazareth, Jordan, Desert (no human witnesses, for once), lake Genesareth, Cana, several places in Galilee, Samaria and Judea, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Palaces of iniquitous judges, Via Dolorosa, Calvary, the Tomb, several places including Lake Genesareth, Mount of Olives, visible rise up into the sky to disappearance in clouds.

Also reminds me that if any of these places shall convince me Richard Carrier exists, I am not there and have to depend on second hand evidence - just as we now (most of us, excepting the very rare persons who had visible apparitions) have to depend on second hand evidence for Jesus having been on Mount of Olives.

Uhh… That post questioning your existence was a satire of your arguments. Sorry to break it to you.

Richard Carrier
The satire only works if they believe the analogy holds.

If in fact the evidence for my existence is good, in precisely the ways it isn’t for Jesus, the analogy doesn’t hold.

So at best, they are writing a satire of themselves.

Which of course they were not doing. They actually think their argument holds. That’s why they think it’s a satire of me and not them.

So far from an analogy not holding, it holds very well.

A few get the chance of seeing.

A lot have to do the believing.

vendredi 24 juin 2016

Answering J. P. Holding on "Did Jesus Commit Suicide"

Note, he is an Evangelical apologist, and his answer is "no, not as the word means today", given here:

The tekton ticker : Did Jesus Commit Suicide?

But his answer is at best incomplete. Here is my comment, which he might or might not chose to publish:

"While there were undoubtedly mentally unstable people who killed themselves in the ancient world, suicide was more widely perceived as a noble way to die under certain specific circumstances. The samuari warrior, the Roman gladiator, and the Greek philosopher Socrates might all be viewed in these terms."

Sigh "the ancient world" ...

  • 1) The Samurai is as Medieval as European knighhood, actually a couple of centuries earlier than strict feudalism:

    Following the Battle of Hakusukinoe against Tang China and Silla in 663 AD, which led to a retreat from Korean affairs, Japan underwent widespread reform. One of the most important was that of the Taika Reform, issued by Prince Naka-no-Ōe (Emperor Tenji) in 646 AD. This edict allowed the Japanese aristocracy to adopt the Tang dynasty political structure, bureaucracy, culture, religion, and philosophy.[3] As part of the Taihō Code of 702 AD, and the later Yōrō Code,[4] the population was required to report regularly for census, a precursor for national conscription. With an understanding of how the population was distributed, Emperor Mommu introduced a law whereby 1 in 3–4 adult males was drafted into the national military. These soldiers were required to supply their own weapons, and in-return were exempted from duties and taxes.[3] This was one of the first attempts by the Imperial government to form an organized army modeled after the Chinese system. It was called "Gundan-Sei" (ja:軍団制) by later historians and is believed to have been short-lived.

    Also, the seppuko or harakiri is precisely the kind of gesture that Pagan Stoics in Rome and later Japan (and back in modern apostasised Europe, like suicide of Dominique Venner) admire and Christians abhor.

    It means "having the courage to die" when you don't have the courage to settle your debts in more painstaking ways.

  • 2) The Roman gladiator was not killing himself, he was exposing himself to death.

    But he was doing so with no due reason.

    A gladiator match would be the kind of duel which Catechism of St Pius X considered as "partaking both of the evil of murder" (namely in case one should kill) "and of suicide" (in case one should be killed, after agreeing to the risk).

    Gladiators did this to appease the kind of curiosity which is now less violently appeased by the curious people watching boxing or reality shows.

    Gladiators were also slaves and the killing seems to have originated in a kind of human sacrifice - with slaves both as sacrifice and priest.

    Any parallel would be that Christ did also sacrifice himself, as both sacrifice and priest. But not as a slave to men, though denuded as if one.

  • 3) Socrates' suicide was "suicide on order", his obedience to an execution order with himself as executioner.

    This was pushing obedience to the state to the exact point of suicide, of doing what is hateful to God.

    A bit like sacrificing incense to the Emperor or taking the Mark of the Beast.

Now, up to recently, one was not really in the habit of saying "In our daily experience, "suicide" comes with specific associations: A person who is mentally unstable, depressed, or otherwise in some sort of mentally or spiritually undesirable state."

The only thing there is spiritually undesirable state, namely mortal sin.

Usually other ones, like sorrow, leading up to it.

But giving suicides the excuse from crime given by excuse of insanity was not done. If English police found a man trying to hang himself, he would be saved, brought to trial, and executed for the crime of attempted suicide.

Hopefully having, in the meantime, had some time to make his peace with God, before the death date he was not chosing himself.

However, Stoics did admire the suicide of Socrates. And extended the cases when suicide was permissible in their distorted view. And as Apologists we must not only defend the Honour of God against the charge of having been unstable, but also against the charge of having been a Stoic.

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samedi 9 avril 2016

Two rebuttals of Kalaam rebutted

1) Kalam, Loftus & Lindsay · 2) Two rebuttals of Kalaam rebutted

Shaun Doyle*

The Kalaam:

  • Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  • The universe had a beginning.
  • Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Rebuttal a) "who created God?" or "what is the cause of God?" or verbatim "what if God isn't eternal?"

Shaun Doyle answers, correctly, that (resuming):

  • Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  • Therefore, everything that has no cause has no beginning.

And from then:

  • Everything that has no cause has no beginning.
  • God (among others as conclusion of Kalaam, see above), has no cause.
  • Therefore, God has no beginning.

Rebuttal b) "Everything that is sentient has a cause."

  • Everything that is sentient has a cause.
  • God is sentient.
  • Therefore the God has a cause.

Shaun Doyle, again (quoting this time):

The Kalam argument usually takes this sort of form:

  • Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  • The universe had a beginning.
  • Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Subsequently, the nature of the effect (the universe) is analyzed to determine what type(s) of cause(s) could’ve produced it. Note that the form of the argument you presented doesn’t refute anything in the Kalām argument as presented above—even if God has a cause, the universe still needs a cause in view of it having a beginning. Rather, the argument you mention tries to show that no sentient being can be an uncaused cause, so that if we think that the cause of the universe itself has to be uncaused, it can’t be God because “Everything that is sentient has a cause”.

No problem with analysis, so far. Then:

Nonetheless, we would consider the argument unsound because the first premise is false. Why think that all sentient beings have causes? There is no evidence for the first premise. Worse, there are powerful positive reasons to reject the first premise. To avoid an infinite regress of contingent causes, we would need a first, uncaused, necessary being to ground the causal chain in reality. But how else could a necessary being cause a contingent effect, other than by being able to choose to create, which is of course something only sentient beings can do? Rather than it being problematic that the uncaused cause would be sentient, it’s highly likely that it would need to be sentient to be able to produce a contingent effect like the universe.

Here, I agree how Shaun Doyle argues that the first cause had to be able to choose.

However, he misses a point about sentient. "Everything that is sentient has a cause." : "Why think that all sentient beings have causes? There is no evidence for the first premise."

Actually there is, if we take the kind of sentience we find in biological sense organs!

Seeing is CAUSED by the light that hits the eye. Hearing is CAUSED by the sound that hits the ear. Feeling is CAUSED by roughness, smoothness, cold, heat, moisture, dryness and so on making an impact in skin and what is just underneath. Smelling is CAUSED by molecules dissolved in air hitting parts of the nose. Tasting is CAUSED by a more restricted gamut of molecules hitting parts of the tongue.

In order for us to argue God could choose, we must also argue that having knowledge and will by being a spirit is sth different and more "self-caused", less "caused from outside" than having the five exterior senses.

And to argue this, we need to argue that spirit in man, capable of moral and logical discernment and of categorising (as opposed to just catalogising) is sth wholly immaterial and above the mere brain, even the human brain.

Which is why a little scholastic revival of Thomism is in order for this kind of apologetics.

St Thomas Aquinas ... first, he did not use the Kalaam, he considered it impossible to prove its second premiss, that the universe had a beginning** ... his five ways lead to a FIRST mover who is not necessarily earliest. Good. A clockmaker could have caused the universe just to begin, but then let it continue without himself, St Thomas considers God more as an instrument builder who then is an instrument player (Six days : God doing the Stradivarius job, from then on : God doing the Paganini job), and considers the latter point ONLY (that God is moving or "playing" the universe right now) the only way in which to prove God.

BUT his Averroist opponents agreed on that and then argued that the God who/which is First unmoved mover, would NOT be aware of what He is moving. Why? Because awareness of sth outside oneself is (in all experience of our created awareness) in a sense to be "moved" or "caused" by what one is aware of. So they consider it was instead "the world soul" who, aware of the God who had caused him, moved itself and the universe with it, out of love of this superior (and unaware) God.

And St Thomas answers "not so with God : in His case, His being aware is what causes the things He is aware of to be."

We must agree, not just I the Catholic, but I think also Shaun Doyle on CMI. However, in doing so, the only consistent position is to distinguish the spiritual or rational awareness we have of generalities from the sense awareness we have of particulars. Distinguish, not separate. But distinguish we must. This means, certain positions of modern neuropsychology or whatever, saying that rational thought "is caused by" or "emanates from" or are "an emerging property of" certain parts of the brain have to be rejected.

The minimum is, if accepting brain cortex as "causa efficiens" of rational thought and choice in us, we must nevertheless consider it enjoys a "causa exemplaris" above that. But even this is too little, unless we say that the "causa exemplaris" really is exemplary for the "causa formalis" of our thought so much that our thought is a real similar image and not just a neurobiological miming of rationality as it exists in God and angelic beings. This however means that the brain cortex cannot be totally the "causa efficiens" even of our rationality, but there must be a real interaction between the two : reason receiving sense impressions from the brain as organ caused from outside, reason giving order (via brain to) body about looking at this, or listening to that or making the bodily choices impact the limbs that obey them.

And this, again, is a subject where Thomism was left and confused modernity began a few centuries ago. Descartes argued there had to be an organ which was the organ of exchange ... body outside it not directly connected to spiritual soul, and presumably soul apart from receiving sense impressions not directly connected to body. This organ was never found and this led to abandoning the theory, but not to returning (overall in general culture, outside a few clerical Catholic buffs) to the Thomistic view : "soul" (in whatever living creature) is "form of the body" (as alive - not of the corpse or cadaver!); "spirit" (in whatever spiritual creature or non-created) is "what is aware of itself and of other, what can known and chose, what can be wise and love" ; in man "soul" and "spirit" coincide.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Carrières Saint-Denis
St Mary Cleophas***

* CMI : Could God cause the beginning of the universe?
Feedback archive → Feedback 2016
Published: 9 April 2016

** That the universe had a beginning, St Thomas certainly believed, but JUST because of faith, because the Bible told him so.

*** In Judaea sanctae Mariae Cleophae, quam beatus Joannes Evangelista sororem sanctissimae Dei Genitricis Mariae nuncupat, et cum hac simul juxta crucem Jesu stetisse narrat.