vendredi 28 août 2015

I'd like to see D. M. Murdock / Acharya Sanning as a Christian Catholic Before She Dies!

Now, she is suffering from Breast Cancer. This could threaten her life before the conversion.

I owe her for her well put formulations of wrong arguments helping me to formulate answers to them. So, here is her appeal:

D.M. Murdock/Acharya S's Breast Cancer Fundraiser

If I had already had an income from my writings, I would have donated myself./HGL

Update: I read she died - on Christmas Day, last Christmas./HGL

jeudi 27 août 2015

Iron Chariots Misquoting Prima Via (while ignoring Secunda Via)

Here is their site:

Unmoved mover

And it quotes the argument thus:

As formulated by Thomas Aquinas, the unmoved mover argument is stated as follows:

"Nothing moves without a prior mover. This leads us to a regress, from which the only escape is God. Something had to make the first move, and that something we call God."

The problem is that this is not the argument as formulated by St Thomas Aquinas. I mean, the text is nearly 800 years old, and there are good English translations available online.

We have Part I, Question 2, Article 3, and it contains all the five ways in the corpus, while objections and answers deal with things like atheistic applications of Occam's Razor (before there was an Occam who "formulated" the razor) and with theodicy.

Now, here is a link to that passage:

Summa Theologica : Part I, Question 2, Article 3

Here is the text of the first proof in the article's corpus:

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves [actively!] inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

Now, here come the critiques: by iron chariots, each with my answer:

Iron Chariots
If nothing moves without a prior mover, then God must need a prior mover, as well. Otherwise God is nothing, which contradicts the conclusion. Thus, either the premise is untrue, in which case the argument is unsound, or the conclusion doesn't follow, in which case the argument is invalid. In fact, as stated, the argument is clearly self-contradictory.

If nothing is in motion without a mover, God needs to simply not be in motion.

Note also that part of the argument is concerned with motions other than the local one. A fire heating a piece of wood is "moving the wood" to heat in scholastic terminology. This doesn't mean that St Thomas neglects local motion.

So, instead of needing a mover, God needs to be not in motion.

Including of course when He moves.

And this implies moving things by other means than moving parts of oneself - the other means known being spirit moves matter (examplified by our minds chosing which letters to write, not physical powers acting on your hand). Only a spirit can move things without setting itself in motion, by a sheer act of will, and this act of will is also not set in motion but was from eternity there in God.

Iron Chariots
Who created God?

Creation would be the movement of a possible concept from state of not existing to state of existing. Now, this means that God never was in such a movement, never began to exist, but always existed - unmoved.

Iron Chariots
Which god? The argument does not demonstrated anything like a God. The arbitrary use of the word "God" in the argument carries a lot of undesirable cultural baggage, denoting an intelligent being. If the ultimate cause of our universe turns out to be, say, a random quantum fluctuation, then that would be "God" by Aquinas's definition, but to call this phenomenon "God" would be very misleading.

The argument is one in five ways. The two last ones more directly involve God as a person (but not necessarily just one person, see later on in Summa part I).

Of course, there is also the difficulty of a body moving anything except by being moved itself first - meaning that the first mover needs to be not a body but a spirit.

There is also the unity of local motion of universe around earth every night and day.

This unity is a perfect work of art - which leads to the last two ways. It is also the kind of physical effect which no bodily cause could have, and therefore needs a spirit.

As to initial question, "which God?", these arguments are on the level of five ways (St Thomas goes on a lot further than that) not yet answering questions like "the God of which religion?" or whether God is that of a religion at all.

Iron Chariots
Two bodies at rest will start to move towards each other due to gravity. They can be each other's first mover. Therefore, the prior mover requirement is unnecessary.

They would be each others first movers, in a restricted perspective, but would still exist before this can happen.

Also, one cannot credibly construct a universe with gravity as first mover.

The rotation of a body around a body or centre of mass by means of gravitation from centre of mass of whole system + its own inertia is parallel to a rotation of a water droplet around a charged knitting needle, but as Don Pettit has shown, this will not last, after ten to twenty orbits the drop clings to the needle.

Unlike the first mover argument, the orbital motion really does need a prior movement. From where the inertia sideways to centre of mass in the first place? Inertia as such will not put it there if Sun and Earth start out at rest, and the gravitation will not make the motion a sideways one.

How about the interference of planets with each others' movements by adding and subtracting gravitation on insides and outsides of this or that orbit in this or that phase? How would that not destabilise the orbits even faster than after 20 orbits, as per Don Pettit experiment?

On a larger scale than solar systems or stellar systems, or supposed ones, and still according to the modern cosmology I do not share, if Universe is limited, its stars will start moving towards each other.

If they were always there, they would have collapsed an eternity ago.

If they were not, their existence would be an act of creation or at least production, which would need a mover other than the stars, like either God or Big Bang. But expansion of Big Bang can not be caused by gravitation, since it is directed outwards, and it can not cause stars to form either. Especially not with planets orbitting around them.

Or, they would need to be in counteract of the collapse by an expansion, which Big Bang would provide, but this points to a beginning, if expansion is projected backwards it is one from a point, unless it is one from a less expanded state but not a point, which would make that beginning even more recent and beginning of a more complex state. But this again suffers from Big Bang providing neither an explanation of itself by gravitation, nor an explanation for subsequent states by explaining adequately how stars form.

So, gravitation cannot be the first mover.

Iron Chariots
Pairs of virtual particles are created (and annihilated) all of the time, out of literally nothing. These particles affect each other's motion, thus disproving Aquinas's premise. Not all events necessarily have causes.

The objection is unobserved and a falsehood envisaged by atheists in order precisely to counteract the logic of this proof.

Remember this proof has been around before organised atheism, sooner or later they have to deal with it.

The reference to "pairs of virtual particles" was expanded in the link to "not all events necessarily have causes" by a reference to Casimir effect.

Now, here is what I read on wiki on that one:

Although the Casimir effect can be expressed in terms of virtual particles interacting with the objects, it is best described and more easily calculated in terms of the zero-point energy of a quantized field in the intervening space between the objects.

In other words, no virtual particles proven by it.

Virtual particles being created an annihilated all the time "out of literally nothing" is a piece of counterintuitive and unsupported arguing. Unless of course you state God is all the time creating them, that would be less counterintuitive.

That two things in pairs can affect each others motions, does not negate St Thomas' premiss, as first of all their moving at all is not accounted for by their affecting each other and second, when they affect each other it is a special case of a more general cause, like gravitation (which as I just described cannot be the ultimate cause of movement).

Other examples given on the link are paralogically arguing from lack of identified cause to lack of cause.

Also not a refutation of St Thomas.

Iron Chariots
More exotically, if time were circular (i.e., if time repeated every so often, so that the year 1 were also the year ten trillion and one), then every motion could have a prior cause without infinite regress. This does not seem to be the case, though.

Thanks for more exotically.

A circular regress would be a special case of infinite regress. See the next.

Iron Chariots
Even if there is an infinite regress of causes, so what? The human mind is uncomfortable with the concept of infinity, but reality has no obligation to make us comfortable.

When we argue at all, we are trying to get confortable with reality.

Either this has a basis in a logic which is universal, or it hasn't.

If it has, well, its universality seems to indicate it is based on reality.

If it hasn't, well, then atheist arguing is as useless as theistic one.

So, I refuse to be a nihilist about logic.

Now, more specifically to "infinite regress".

Here is how their other page defines it:

Infinite regress

"An infinite regress is an infinite series of occurrences or concepts. It occurs in some philosophical concepts and is sometimes considered an unwanted or absurd implication. There is no a-priori reason why an infinite regress cannot occur."

No, the question is not whether a series is infinite in one direction, whichever it be. The question is whether the series can be infinite backwards, that is anything depend on what is really an infinity of conditions.

St Thomas deals more specifically with this in the Second Way, where "movers" / "causes of motion" is generalised to "causes overall (whether to movement or to rest)". Link is same as above

"The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God."

The argument is as follows:

  • 1) Any cause that is caused by sth else is the definition of "intermediate cause";
  • 2) Any intermediate cause needs a first cause. A previous or logically prior cause does not suffice, since that is just another instance of intermediate cause:
  • 3) Causes that are caused by sth else imply causes or a cause that is not caused by sth else.

Seven objections given, all answered.

Let's see some time from hence if their article changes in response to my answer, wikis have a capacity to change.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Joseph of Calasanz

samedi 8 août 2015

Why Christianity?

1) God vs gods - Keaton Halley, Wilhelm Schmidt, G. K. Chesterton, 2) Why Christianity?

CMI today asked readers "how would you answer the question" when linking to the feedback. So, I'll take the liberty to link to Lita Conser's feedback, quote the question, and answer it my way:

Hello, I have a question regarding Christianity and other religions. It basically is why Christianity? What makes it stand out more and much more believable than the others? Why not believe in Gods like Thor or any of the greek gods? There are so many religions out there, why go for Christianity? Is there more proof of Christianity being more factual or signs that people in other parts believe in the Christian God and Christ and/or had encounters with them?

CMI : Feedback 2015 : Why Christianity?

Let's break it up.

1) It basically is why Christianity?

It is verified by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and by many miracles since then throughought the ages of the Church, as well as this miracle is prepared throughought all times of the OT since Adam.

The transmission of the Scriptures without falsification since Christ and the records of miracles are guaranteed by the Catholic Church.

For most OT Scriptures, Jews have independently of the true religion kept a corroborating record separately.

2) What makes it stand out more and much more believable than the others?

Best miracles best recorded.

3) Why not believe in Gods like Thor or any of the greek gods?

I do believe some of them existed as men, and others were directy devils. They do not have either the morals of a True God, truly worthy of worship (as a Greek tragedian made a character say : if gods do sth shameful, they are not gods), nor the metaphysical qualities necessary to be upholding the universe as we observe it. It was easier to believe Helios drove a chariot behind just four horses, same size as ours, before astronomy. And if we grant spirits do guide heavenly bodies, as Abraham noted according to Josephus, they do so in physical independence of each other and at same time moral interdependence, they need a very good director. If we also think the daily motion is a unified one, it needs a great mover. Zeus is not up to that one.

Now, Thor and Odin showed up in Uppsala a little more than 2000 years ago, in Julius Caesar's time (according to Snorre, though as per Saxo, it might be more like Alexander or Cyrus - I think he explanded the Danish genealogy). People in Uppsala hardly saw Thor get up in a wagon drawn by goats and flying through the air, but if they did, it is in the power if demons to do so, if God allows it. Even if he showed off by making his hammer make a lightning, that could be electric engineering learned from Sumerians. And not only no man was there when Odin and his brothers was supposed to have beaten Ymer, but Scandinavians do not even claim to have any straight tradition from Ask and Embla about it, nor, except for class distinctions, from Heimdall's adultery in three families. The tradition starts with Yngling dynasty starting with Odin and a generation later Thors stepbrother Frey - or Yngwe. Whose son drowned in a vat of mead. Neat proof Fiolner was not divine, and it kept Norsemen from divinising the later Ynglings, unlike the Caesars.

The Greeks got their info on the gods from Hesiod (ab. 700 BC), who got it from the Nine Muses. I don't know if they were witches or demons or elves, and in latter case, I don't know if they were impish ones wanting to deceive or naive ones who on doomsday might excuse themselves "but how could we know Hesiod would fall for that? The gross joke was so obvious". Hesiod had no miracle to prove the story, except its latter parts agreeing with traditions on Hercules, for instance, who was a historic character. He only had one revelation, no miracle to prove it divine.

There is even a reason he was given to take it as diabolical : if their hymns started with "Zeus with the Aegid", they ended with "Kronos of the Crooked Mind" - I would not trust people or fairies or whatever who had sung a hymn to Satan. Also, he was the guy, and he was a shepherd and they insulted shepherds.

So, no, the sources of pagan beliefs are not credible.

That the resurrection is, I have argued elsewhere on this blog.

4) Is there more proof of Christianity being more factual or signs that people in other parts believe in the Christian God and Christ and/or had encounters with them?

Other religions are not fact free fictions. It is just that the facts of other religions do not fit good criteria for being really from God. Hercules lived. No one saw him go down to the netherworld, at the most one could have seen him carry Cerberus (which some demons could have fixed as an illusion) and no Greek saw him carry the vault of Heaven in the place of Atlas - that could be bragging. But one could see him go to places infested with monsters and then cleaned up. But that does not prove he was "son of Zeus" in any sense other than a son of Belial - he killed off his family once. And of course, when he was burned, one did not see his soul ascend to Olympus and become a god. In the case of Krishna's soul after death, a poet dreamed about it - who was probably a believer in Krishna beforehand.

Christ's resurrection is so much better documented than ALL this.

It is better documented than Joseph Smith really seeing Moroni as a real angel from the true God and it is better documented than Mohammed seeing Jibreel as a real angel of God, though he believed it was.

5) or signs that people in other parts believe in the Christian God and Christ and/or had encounters with them?

The Catholic Church is the widest spread religion, and miracles are documented from all over the world.

Hans Georg Lundahl
St Cajetan

samedi 1 août 2015

God vs gods - Keaton Halley, Wilhelm Schmidt, G. K. Chesterton

1) God vs gods - Keaton Halley, Wilhelm Schmidt, G. K. Chesterton, 2) Why Christianity?

CMI was asked why Freud was wrong. A certain C. C. from Greece was asking a series of questions.

Keaton Halley deals with the main thing here:

CMI : Feedback 2015
Debunking Freud

But I will single out a certain question and give an answer:

Can you prove that hes wrong when he [=Freud] says gods are the deified ancestors that have passed away?

Keaton Hally does not need that.

Any amount of gods can be deified ancestors, that doesn't make God such a thing. The idea of God is so different from the idea of this or that of the gods.

At the utmost, when it comes to creator gods in polytheistic panthéons, we might be dealing with ancestors or an ancestor who very unwisely deified themself. Nimrod may have bragged about creating the world, even though he knew he hadn't. Odin seems to have done so in Uppsala. Though, to be fair, in difference from Nimrod, he didn't take credit for killing a monster and making earth and sky from its carcass all by himself, he credited two (absent) brothers too.

But a god like Hercules or like Romulus or like Theseus obviously has everything to do with some ancestor. And the idea of these is obviously very different from the idea of God.

The debunking of Freud is obviously the fact that ideas are different. That he can see some similarity does not make the ideas the same.

The letter, as I imagined its writing (I wasn't there, and I am not going to make Freud's claims to reading thoughts not actually expressed) was somewhat upset. How could anyone dream of Freud having been debunked? That was the feeling I got.

Letter writer:
I just read a repeatance of the atheistic claims youre supposed to answer but with no real answer, just the phrase "this has been debunked". Im not satisfied with the answer "this has been debunked". I want to see how.For example you say Freud has been outofdate, well where is there the proof that Freud is wrong? ...

Keaton Halley:
I’m not going to directly refute each Freudian claim you mention, because I think a few examples should suffice. But note that you haven’t mentioned any supporting reasons to believe those claims either. The one making a claim needs to shoulder the burden of proof, so even if we haven’t refuted those assertions, they don’t win by default.

I can think of two kinds of Greek who could say such a thing. A Communist, to whom Freud is part of the Holy Doctrine of DiaMat. And an Orthodox of the Romanides and Metallinos school. Romanides was introduced to psychiatric negative evaluation of "religion" and accepted it except for his own one. This might have included Freud.

Both are heavily Byzantine who rely on authority and to both Freud is, through Communism or through Romanides, an authority. An authority is right per default. An attack on authority is what has the burden of proof.

How Freud himself fulfilled HIS burden of proof is beside the point to this mentality.

Obviously he did, or Romanides wouldn't have admired him, the pious Romanides. Obviously he did, or the Communists wouldn't accept him and my grandfather was in the Greek labour union which was headed by Communists, I can't go against my grandpa.

So, perhaps one might cite them another authority.

Reverend Wilhelm Schmidt, a Catholic priest who fled to Switzerland when Nazis invaded Austria (yes, to some that is a recommendation, to me too, btw, "even if" he was both German and a Roman Catholic), and who accepted Old Earth and Big Cosmos nevertheless gave a non-evolutionist answer to origin of religion - and he did so by using anthropology, comparing the Biblical concepts with Greek, Roman, etc. ones.

Christian Scholar Extraordinary: The Work of Wilhelm Schmidt
Ellen Myers

He wrote his book in 1931:

The Origin of Religion : Evolution or Revelation
by Rev Wilhelm SChmidt, transl. Samuel Marinus Zwemer
[English translation, 1945 in pdf]

The main idea was already expressed in 1925 in Chesterton's Everlasting Man, but he goes into more detail, whereas Chesterton gets on through other historic peripeties, like fight of Rome against Carthage. And goes on to Christ and Church History. Schmidt is very clearly occupied in refuting people like Engels and Freud (and similar ones, he says the atheistic literature by far outnumbers the Christian answers on this question). Here is Chesterton, btw:

The Everlasting Man
by G.K. Chesterton(1925)

Where Chesterton goes into the question is mainly in chapter IV of part I: God and Comparative Religion. Plus the following ones.

If you go to Amerindians or Australian Aborigines, you will find an idea of the supreme God, who is NOT worshipped, which is very different from the ancestors and other spirits that ARE worshipped. That is the point of both Schmidt and Chesterton.

Freud may amuse himself by claiming of two completely different ideas one developed from the other, as he may amuse himself by believing Darwin that one mode of being clearly different from life and an added perfection, not just a modification, namely mind, was after all just developed from life as a modification.

He may spend 10% or 5% or 1% elaborating this leap in logic, in his book (I admit I have not read it yet), and the rest of it by enumerating very obvious things, like Krishna worship being ancestor worship on part of Hindoos, or Hercules worship being ancestor worship on part of Greeks. And because those parts are so obviously reasonable, some unaware readers will swallow the main point of divergence, namely whether the idea of God is a different idea from a hero one worships, or whether it is just the hero worshipped by all the heros, a kind of projection on part of the hero worshippers (hero is here taken in technical sense of dead ancestor enjoying divine or semi-divine worship). That he believes so himself is not very convincing as proof. He is equally prepared to accept very wild associations as "same idea in disguise" when it comes to sexuality and his theory it is there in hidden form in nearly everything else one does too (except that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar - like when Freud is smoking it).

Hans Georg Lundahl
Bibl. Audoux
Seven Holy Maccabees
in Antioch, martyrs

vendredi 17 avril 2015

Good stunt for a novelist! (If such!)

Scenario : anno 400 (or 1153 ab urbe condita) someone writes the gospels as a series of novels.

Somehow people start thinking that these novels have been the basis for the otherwise pagan roman empire since 313, and that previous to that the empire had been persecuting people believing this novel for 280 years.

GOOD stunt to pull off for a novelist.

jeudi 2 avril 2015

Two slight differences with Dr Craig

1) Ascension plagiarises Krishna myth? No., 2) Two slight differences with Dr Craig

Did Greco Roman Myths About Dying and Rising Gods Influence the Gospel Accounts of the Resurrection?

Could the Post Resurrection Appearances of Jesus Be Merely Hallucination Experiences?

William Lane Craig generally makes a good case on both points.

Two quibbles on fact.

  • 1) Was James a believer before the Resurrection?

    I think yes. James is called "Brother of God", "Brother of Christ", "Brother of the Lord" as the first at least male believer among those siblings. The rest are called "brothers of James" as believing later than he.

    However, even Proto-Gospel of Saint James, which states this, will probably (I have not read it, I have heard facts from it and how they are contested by other sources, notably Joseph being a widower before being betrothed to the Blessed Virgin, and "brothers and sisters" of Jesus being his children from first marriage) confirm one part of WLC's answer : James was not sharing the collective life of Apostles as yet.

  • 2) Is Hercules a "dying and resurrecting fertility god"?


    Hercules was a historic person who lived a generation before the Trojan War. THere is nothing in his story about resurrection, there is however, with him as with Krishna, some story of his soul being received in heaven - something per se unobservable on earth and for which no precise earthly witness is claimed. UNLIKE the story of Resurrection to Ascension, where everything is bodily observable on earth.

However, these two inaccuracies of Dr. Craig are not enough to destroy his case.

For "500, most of whom are still alive", I have written a defense against an attack by Dan Parker:

[Earlier on this blog:] What a blooper, Dan Barker from Atheist League!

It is part of a series on early testminony, like Romans or Josephus on existence if not divinity of Christ or like how it was preserved before the printing press. Dan Parker's argument was not here answered by Dr. Craig.

Even so, I am glad for observation that St Paul was aware of some of the 500 having died. Either he knew them personally, or he knew them so to speak "by name and face" and via intermediates.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Bpi, Georges Pompidou
Holy Thursday

jeudi 19 mars 2015

Her Examples Analysed

1) Research of the Gaps, 2) Her Examples Analysed

Greta Christina thinks that an« overwhelming amount of evidence » supports the idea that consciousness is just a (by)product of biological processes. What she cites as such is mainly a phenomenon which to « dualists » (there is another meaning of the word than I will right now explain, a more proper ones) is known as parallelism – parallel behaviours of mind and of observable biological matter. In this context, I mean by « dualism » the position that mind and matter are two different kinds of substance rather than one and the same or one of them being an accident of the other. Most of the examples of parallelism were well known all of the centuries when « dualism » was it.

And that means basically for most of 2000 years, or even more. When Eusebius of Caesarea enumerates opinions of philosophers on diverse subjects, one of the points he makes about Epicurus or Democritus or both (will look up in Praeparatio Evangelica) is that he considered all matter as endowed with some kind of consciousness, even that of dead bodies.*

The bishop of Caesarea could of course, with a few centuries intervening and these being full of « dualists » especially the time closer to himself, have misunderstood what they were really saying. He could have misunderstood Epicure as much as Schoenborn misunderstands St. Thomas Aquinas, when the latter says that God governs the Cosmos by created causes or secondary causes and the former, the later writer, understands this as meaning:

  • corporeal / physical causes rather than spiritual substances;
  • apparently also an infinite number of them so that one could always point back to another and another of these like the scientists most often do, and for each even deduced one start searching for the most natural one behind that, until one gets to a « we don’t know », and excluding direct both divine and angelic action, while St. Thomas’ point about God being First** Cause (i. e. both First Mover and First Upholder) is that an infinity of intermediate steps is excluded and that lack of a first would make all of the relatively more prior only intermediate.

In « both » misunderstandings, if we shall dare to console Schoenborn by assuming Eusebius misunderstood Epicure as he misunderstood St. Thomas, we find a distinct possibility that if the later author of each pair had caught the earlier one in a position further away from his own than the one he grasped, he would have felt some extreme revulsion, so that the understanding taken for granted is really an act of piety against the older author of each pair. Subjectively, from the point of view of the younger, that is : since no author is as such pleased by being misunderstood. This possibility is of course a suspicion of mine, not an ascertained fact that I know. What is an ascertained fact is that Schoenborn does so misunderstand St. Thomas Aquinas and that it is a misunderstanding. I know both positions, and know they are not the same. But since I haven’t read Democritus or Epicure, I cannot so say that Eusebius is certainly misunderstanding him. I know Eusebius’ version and I know other versions more modern of what Epicure thought – but not Epicure’s own or Democritus’ own. So, at least for the centuries since Eusebius up to St. Thomas and well beyond, but ending some time before Schoenborn, Greta Christina, myself, every educated man in what was then the Roman and is now the Western Sphere of Culture was taking for granted « dualism » - that mind and will are another kind of thing than bodies and force interactions between these, and, at least at a created level, neither is totally dependent on the other.

The real position of St. Thomas Aquinas is such that Schoenborn would nearly certainly have considered it as being either naïve or superstitious or both, and certainly unworthy of the subtlety of St. Thomas – unless he excuses him by having lived in a prior century « with less accurate knowledge » - a pretty common meme these days. Did Schoenborn really ever come across the idea, which I think this « Thomist » considers unworthy of a Thomist, that only a finite number of definite steps in the causation chain lead in any given moment from First Mover and Upholder, from First Cause, to any given ultimate simultaneous effect, and that an angel or a demon might immediately be behind any observation at hand, especially if involving movements of material objects, except for day and night, since the turning of the Cosmos around Earth is dependent on God alone as First Mover?

All the while this « dualism » (on what mind is other than body) was believed by every educated man (and any normal non-educated person, since these live by scraps of the public lore of educated men), all the while this was the case, the phenomena enumerated by Greta Christina were mostly known. Towards the end of this state of « dualism » taken for granted, these came to be known as parallelism or interaction problem.*** She does enumerate an instance or two more of it than was known before recently, but adding an instance to a phenomenon does not make it a new phenomenon. But there is also another thing she enumerates, which is an interpretation rather than a fact.

When we make physical changes to the brain, it changes consciousness. Drugs, injury, surgery, sensory deprivation, electrical current, magnetic fields, medication, illness, exercise -- all these things change our consciousness. Sometimes drastically. Sometimes rendering an entire personality unrecognizable. Even very small changes to the brain can result in massive changes to consciousness... both temporary and permanent.

This works vice versa as well. Magnetic resonance imagery has shown that, when people think different thoughts, different parts of their brains light up with activity. Changes in thought show up as changes in the brain.... just as changes in the brain show up as changes in thought.

And, of course, we have the drastic change in consciousness created by the very drastic change in the physical brain known as "death."

The last item is of course the one I mean is an interpretation rather than an observed fact. Here is how she supports it:

All the available evidence points to the conclusion that, when the brain dies, consciousness disappears. (And by "when the brain dies," I don't mean, "when the brain is temporarily deprived of oxygen for a short time," a.k.a. "near death experiences." I mean when the brain dies, permanently.) The belief that consciousness survives death has probably been researched more than any other supernatural hypothesis -- nobody, not even scientists, wants death to be permanent -- and it has never, ever been substantiated. Reports of it abound... but when carefully examined, using good, rigorous scientific methodology, these reports fall apart like a house of cards.

The problem is that the research that was never substantiated has been tested the wrong way – as one would test claims about material things : by sight, hearing, smell, touch, by instruments, by repeated experiments. All of these fail except one repeated experiment known as introspection. We all know we mean things by words. And it is more and more abundantly clear no material contrivance will ever have any grasp of meaning.

This is alas hidden by observers of the latest Google gadget saying « we failed this time, but in a near future we will get it right ».

Behind this optimism, there is of course a philosophical pessimism about solving the question how the parallel phenomena interact, the so called interaction problem. But the Thomistic solution is that any created mind by its Creator has a limited but real domination over matter : soul over body as making it alive and using it for action and expression, angelic beings over objects, as moving them in place and appearance. This position was abandoned due to an inability to come up with a fool proof explanation of exactly what mechanism (I'd say wrong question, since not a question of mechanism), and as Greta Christina has admitted, the search for how consciouness arises from the purely material has equally failed.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
St Joseph the Most Chaste Spouse

Still referring, obviously, to same blogpost as yesterday:

Greta Christina's Blog : "You Can't Disprove Religion": Three Counter-Examples

* Could this be behind the vampire legends? I had better check evidence from Dom Augustin Calmet’s book before I attribute this to a misunderstanding or exaggeration of a materialistic philosopheme. It is certainly in some way behind The Swamp Thing, though there we know it is fiction.

** First as in most primary in each instant, not as in Earliest.

*** Parallelism is also used to mean, I believe, the solution of « pre-established harmony » between body and mind, doing away with any real interaction. This was one solution proposed in 17th C. but the more common one … well, I’ll come to that.

mercredi 18 mars 2015

Research of the Gaps

1) Research of the Gaps, 2) Her Examples Analysed

Greta Christina's Blog : "You Can't Disprove Religion": Three Counter-Examples

The blog post is well worth studying closer, but I am taking a first bite at it and leaving aside things like:

"Well, of course," the trope continues, "many outdated religious beliefs -- young-earth creationism, the universe revolving around the earth, the sun being drawn across the sky by Apollo's chariot -- have been shown by science to be mistaken. But modern progressive and moderate beliefs -- these, you can't disprove with science. These are simply matters of faith: things people reasonably choose to believe, based on their personal life experience."

None of these have been disproven by science.

Chariot being drawn by horses possibly. Its belonging to Apollo is definitely disprven not by science but by Christianity. Apollo, the wicked deity of Delphy, is called "pythonic spirit" and "Apollyon" in the Bible and can certainly not get as far up as the Sun's orbit around Earth.

But I am leaving them aside for this giant first bite:

I will acknowledge freely: We don't yet understand consciousness very well. The sciences of neurology and neuropsychology are very much in their infancy, and the basic questions of what exactly consciousness is, and where exactly it comes from, and how exactly it works, are, as of yet, largely unanswered.

But research is happening. The foundations for our understanding of consciousness are beginning to be laid. There are a few things that we do know about consciousness.

And among the things we know is that, whatever consciousness is, it seems to be an entirely biological process.

In other words, since research has not shown what consciousness is, it has neither shown that consciousness is an entirely biological process, and therefore has no more claim on our confidence on such claims than the kind of theology (whether actually existing among Christians or not) which has been called "God of the gaps":

The usual atheist reply to this is to cry, "That's the God of the Gaps! Whatever phenomenon isn't currently explained by science, that's where you stick your God! What kind of sense does that make? Why should any given unexplained phenomenon be best explained by religion? Has there ever been a gap in our knowledge that's eventually been shown to be filled by God?"

Well, I deny the charge of believing in a "God of the gaps" and reply with a charge materialism is indulging in "research of the gaps" - sticking their materialistic definitions of consciousness exactly where it has not yet been proven wrong to the satisfaction even of such obtuse researchers as soul denialists.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Vigil of St Joseph

Thomas Sherlock made a few points

1) HGL's F.B. writings : I am not sure you know Artur Sebastian Rosman, 2) somewhere else : Thomas Sherlock made a few points

He published against Anthony Collins's deistic Grounds of the Christian Religion a volume of sermons entitled The Use and Interest of Prophecy in the Several Ages of the World (1725); and in reply to Thomas Woolston's Discourses on the Miracles he wrote a volume entitled The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729), which soon ran through fourteen editions. His Pastoral Letter (1750) on the late earthquakes had a circulation of many thousands, and four or five volumes of Sermons which he published in his later years (1754–1758) were also at one time highly esteemed.

Who were these Collins and Woolston?

Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion

In 1724 Collins published his Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion, with An Apology for Free Debate and Liberty of Writing prefixed. Ostensibly it is written in opposition to Whiston's attempt to show that the books of the Old Testament did originally contain prophecies of events in the New Testament story, but that these had been eliminated or corrupted by the Jews, and to prove that the fulfilment of prophecy by the events of Christ's life is all "secondary, secret, allegorical, and mystical," since the original and literal reference is always to some other fact. Since, further, according to him the fulfilment of prophecy is the only valid proof of Christianity, he thus secretly aims a blow at Christianity as a revelation. The canonicity of the New Testament he ventures openly to deny, on the ground that the canon could be fixed only by men who were inspired.

No less than thirty-five answers were directed against this book, the most noteworthy of which were those of Bishop Edward Chandler, Arthur Sykes and Samuel Clarke. To these, but with special reference to the work of Chandler, which maintained that a number of prophecies were literally fulfilled by Christ, Collins replied with his Scheme of Literal Prophecy Considered (1727). An appendix contends against Whiston that the book of Daniel was forged in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes.


In philosophy, Collins takes a foremost place as a defender of Necessitarianism. His brief Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1715) has not been excelled, at all events in its main outlines, as a statement of the determinist standpoint. His assertion that it is self-evident that nothing that has a beginning can be without a cause is an unwarranted assumption of the very point at stake.

He was attacked in an elaborate treatise by Samuel Clarke, in whose system the freedom of will is made essential to religion and morality. During Clarke's lifetime, fearing perhaps being branded as an enemy of religion and morality, Collins made no reply, but in 1729 he published an answer, entitled Liberty and Necessity.

Thomas Woolston (baptised November 1668 – 27 January 1733) was an English theologian. Although he was often classed as a deist, his biographer William H. Trapnell regards him as an Anglican who held unorthodox theological views. … His influence on the course of the deistical controversy began with his book, The Moderator between an Infidel and an Apostate (1725, 3rd ed. 1729). The infidel intended was Anthony Collins, who had maintained in his book alluded to that the New Testament is based on the Old, and that not the literal but only the allegorical sense of the prophecies can be quoted in proof of the Messiahship of Jesus; the apostate was the clergy who had forsaken the allegorical method of the fathers. Woolston denied absolutely the proof from miracles, called in question the fact of the resurrection of Christ and other miracles of the New Testament, and maintained that they must be interpreted allegorically, or as types of spiritual things. Two years later he began a series of Discourses on the same subject, in which he applied the principles of his Moderator to the miracles of the Gospels in detail. The Discourses, 30,000 copies of which were said to have been sold, were six in number, the first appearing in 1727, the next five 1728-1729, with two Defences in 1729 1730. For these publications he was tried before Chief Justice Raymond in 1729. Found guilty of blasphemy, Woolston was sentenced (28 November) to pay a fine of £25 for each of the first four Discourses, with imprisonment till paid, and also to a year's imprisonment and to give security, for his good behaviour during life. He failed to find this security, and remained in confinement until his death.

Upwards of sixty pamphlets appeared in reply to his Moderator and Discourses. Among them were:

  • Zachary Pearce, The Miracles of Jesus Vindicated (1729)
  • Thomas Sherlock, The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729, 13th ed. 1755)
  • Nathaniel Lardner, Vindication of Three of Our Saviour's Miracles (1729), Lardner being one of those who did not approve of the prosecution of Woolston (see Lardner's Life by Andrew Kippis, in Lardner's Works, vol. i.)

Edward Chandler (born 1668?; died 20 July 1750) was an English bishop.

He gained some reputation by A Defence of Christianity from the Prophecies, &c. (1725), in answer to Collins’s well-known ‘Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion.’ - Collins having replied in his ‘Scheme of Liberal Prophecy.’ Chandler published in 1728 ‘A Vindication of the “Defence of Christianity.” The main point at issue was the date of the book of Daniel, in regard to which Collins had anticipated the views of some modern critics. He also published eight sermons, a ‘Chronological Dissertation.' prefixed to R. Arnald’s ‘Commentary on Ecclesiasticus ’ (17 48) [see Arnald, Richard], and a short preface to Cudworth’s ‘Treatise on Immutable Morality’ when first published in 1731. He died, after a long illness, in London on 20 July 1750, and was buried at Farnham Royal.

The Miracles of Jesus Vindicated (1729) was written against Thomas Woolston. A Reply to the Letter to Dr. Waterland was against Conyers Middleton, defending Daniel Waterland; Pearce engaged in this controversy as a former student of William Wake.

An anonymous volume of Memoirs appeared in 1769; and a life by Andrew Kippis is prefixed to the edition of the Works of Lardner, first published in 1788. The full title of his principal work—a work which, though now out of date, entitles its author to be regarded as the founder of modern critical research in the field of early Christian literature—is The Credibility of the Gospel History; or the Principal Facts of the New Testament confirmed by Passages of Ancient Authors, who were contemporary with our Saviour or his Apostles, or lived near their time. Part 1, in 2 octavo volumes, appeared in 1727; the publication of part 2, in 12 octavo volumes, began in 1733 and ended in 1755. In 1730 there was a second edition of part 1, and the Additions and Alterations were also published separately. A Supplement, otherwise entitled A History of the Apostles and Evangelists, Writers of the New Testament, was added in 3 volumes (1756–1757), and reprinted in 1760.

Other works by Lardner are A Large Collection of Ancient Jewish and Heathen Testimonies to the Truth of the Christian Revelation, with Notes and Observations (4 volumes, quarto, 1764–1767); The History of the Heretics of the two first Centuries after Christ, published posthumously in 1780; and a considerable number of occasional sermons.