The members of the CADRE maintain this blog for commenting on various items of interest to apologetics. We welcome input. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Religious a priori is an apologetics website covering philosophy of religion (existence of God) religion and science bogus atheist social science, and issues of Biblical Scholarship.
- Evidence and Incredulity
- Bi-Weekly Report: Higgs Boson
- Argument from Laws of Nature
- Does one need to examine all of the religions of t...
- A Brief Argument Against Emergentism
- Can Science Disprove the Soul ?
- According to Mark, did Jesus claim He was God? Thr...
- Bi-Weekly Apologetics Report: Josephus
- Against Theological Fatalism
- Did Mark Invent the Empty Tomb?
- Did Mark speak about the Resurrection?
- God, Caesar, and Apologetics
- ▼ May (12)
- ► 2015 (55)
- ► 2014 (29)
- ► 2013 (58)
- ► 2012 (58)
- ► 2011 (124)
- ► 2010 (151)
- ► 2009 (142)
- ► 2008 (202)
- ► 2007 (289)
- ► 2006 (331)
- ► 2005 (412)
CADRE Blogs of Interest
A visitor to the CADRE site recently sent a question about Paul's statement in Acts 20:35 which records Paul as saying, "And rememb...
Study: The Miracles: A Doctor says "Yes" by Richard H. Casdorph.(Logos International, 1976) Richard H. Casdroph collected medic...
One of the most interesting passages in Mark’s Passion Narrative, from a historiographical perspective, is Mark 15:21: A certain man from C...
A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the Gospel of Matthew’s account of the slaughter of the innocents. Therein, I argued that som...
pie charts from Pew study In the late 90s, atheists began making the argument that less than a majority of scientists believe in God. In ...
Today is Good Friday, the day that we commemorate Jesus' death. Why, given the nature of that remembrance, is it called "Good Frida...
As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I have been thinking about U2’s song Pride (In the Name of Love) (hereinafter, " Pride &quo...
The manger in which Jesus was laid has colored our imagery of Christmas. A manger, "[i]s a feeding-trough, crib, or open box in a stabl...
What are your favorites from any tradition, including classical, country, praise & worship, contemporary Christian, Christian rock, gosp...
One of my co-bloggers, J.L. Hinman, author of the very fine Metacrock's Blog recently showed me some data which some atheists are using...
Translate This Blog
This week, I decided to talk a little about the Higgs Boson, which was inspired by this link and discussion that Joe is having with Eric Sotnak:
In the comments, something that Eric said caught my eye:
According to the best models we have of Quantum Mechanics, events in the very early universe were truly random.
I asked Joe about this, and he said something about how they can have causes even if they are random, and about how you can’t look at sub-atomic particles and say if they are un-caused or not.
This brought be back to the Higgs Boson concept that I heard about before:
The Higgs Boson is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. It is the quantum excitation of the Higgs Field -- a fundamental field of crucial importance to particle physics theory.
In the last few years, Joe and Joel from Evolution by Design did blog entries on this concept, and what it means as far as God is concerned:
Check in the comments section of the second link for some good discussion. I especially found the ramblings of a one Bill Walker very hilarious and sad at the same time.
Joel also made some good points in the first link, especially about how those scientists seem to “urgently need” an answer that leaves God out of the picture.
If you recall last time I posted a prolegomena to an argument from laws of nature. In other words, an argument for existence of God based upon laws of physics and nature. That article was just thinking getting ready to make such an argument, Here I am making it. I encourage the reader to go back and read the article fist if you haven't already. The point is two fold: the folks on Secular Outpost were so dubious of any such argument and the presentation that set them off so deserved their ire (designed by Campus Crusade for Christ) , that I felt like I had to try to (a) prove to the atheists there is a potential argument there and show my fellow Christians how to find it, at to offer direction in which to move.
The bad argument on the website was purely a "god of the gaps" argument:
How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?"The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn't have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence."The only rational upon which the argument turns is the mystery concerning how laws work. That is a god of the gaps argument by definition, textbook. My arguments begins by stating a rational that, while it may hard to prove, is at least not a gap in knowledge, at least not only a gap. The problem with gaps is that they close up. Yet if we can demonstrate that mind is a more solid basis for the seeming law-like regularity of the universe that night make for a better explanation. The argument:
1) mind is the most efficient and dependable source of ordering we know,
(2) Random ordering is usually inefficient and the odds are against it's dependability.
(3) The Universe Displays a Law-like efficiency and dependability in the workings of it's natural machinations.
(4) Such efficiency and dependability is indicative of mind as ordering principle (from 1,3), therefore, it is logical to assume mind as the best explanation for the dependability of the universe..
(5) A mind that orders the universe fits the major job description for God, Thus mind is the best explanation, assuming the choices are mind vs random chance.
Notice I said nothing about law implying a law giver. The rational for mind is not based upon analogies to law. This does raise the one real sticking point, premises 1-2. Can we prove that mind is the best explanation for law-like regularity? I'm going to assume that it's pretty obvious that (P3) universe displays like-like efficiency. Also I don't think it will be such a struggle to prove 4-5 linking a mind that orders the universe with God. Therefore I wont bother to argue those here. Thus I will concern myself primarily with P's 1-2.
Certain schools of philosophy hold that an inference to the best explanation is a valid argument. That is if one amid a variety of explanations has a more significant likelihood of coming true, and is more in line with prevailing theory and serves to explain more of the data then that hypothesis can be warranted as "the best explanation," Ratzsch goes on to quote Peter Lipton: "According to Inference to the Best Explanation … [g]iven our data and our background beliefs, we infer what would if true, provide the best of the competing explanations we can generate of those data (so long as the best is good enough for us to make any inference at all)."
All the richness and diversity of matter and energy we observe today has emerged since the beginning in a long and complicated sequence of self- organizing physical processes. The laws of physics not only permit a universe to originate spontaneously, but they encourage it to organize and complexify itself to the point where conscious beings emerge who can look back on the great cosmic drama and reflect on what it all means."
...The laws that characterize our actual universe, as opposed to an infinite number of alternative possible universes, seem almost contrived-fine-tuned, some commentators have claimed-so that life and consciousness may emerge. To quote Dyson again: it is almost as if "the universe knew we were coming." I cannot prove to you that this is design, but whatever it is it is certainly very clever]
In arguments of this type, superior explanatory virtues of a theory are taken as constituting decisive epistemic support for theory acceptability, warranted belief of the theory, and likely truth of the theory. There are, of course, multitudes of purported explanatory, epistemic virtues, including the incomplete list a couple paragraphs back (and lists of such have evolved over time). Assessing hypotheses in terms of such virtues is frequently contentious, depending, as it does, on perceptions of ill-defined characteristics, differences in background conceptual stances, and the like. Still, in general we frequently manage rough and ready resolutions...
The argument does turn on the premise of a design argument but it could be considered more than that. Hawking ascribes the origin of the universe to the laws of physics, particularly gravity He certainly seems to indicate that they are more than just descriptions of what happens. Yet he makes no attempt to explain where these laws come from. In the sense mind offers a more complete explanation it could be the "best."
If the total energy of the universe must always remain zero, and it costs energy to create a body, how can a whole universe be created from nothing? That is why there must be a law like gravity. Because gravity is attractive, gravitational energy is negative….Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can….Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
Edger Anders discusses the problem with this approach:
So gravity is God. Unfortunately the authors have no time to tell us who created gravity (earlier they rule out God because no one could explain who created him). Nor can they tell us why matter and gravity should pop out of nothing, except to argue that ‘nothing’ undergoes quantum fluctuations. However, this requires that (like gravity) the laws of quantum mechanics pre-existed the universe and that ‘nothing’ possesses the properties of normal space, which is part of the created order and cannot be its antecedent.
Were I involved in a debate ageist a seasoned great thinker or some professional philosopher this is not the argument I would use. I think it is a valid warrant for belief, the best explanation for law-like regularity.
 Bradly Bowen, Adamson's Cru [de] Arguments for God part 1, Secular Outpost, (April 25, 2016) blog URL:
accessed April 28, 2016
 Marlyn Adamson, "Is There a God," Every Student, Published by Campus Crusade for Christ
On line resource, URL: http://www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html
She sites fn 11:Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great about Christianity; (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 2007, chapter
 I recently posted on criteria by which to judge best explanation.
 Ratzsch, Del and Koperski, Jeffrey, "Teleological Arguments for God's Existence", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
http://www.firstthings.com/article/1995/08/003-physics-and-the-mind-of-god-the-templeton-prize-address-24 accessed 1/1/16
Paul Davies is Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia and the twenty-fifth recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which he received on May 3, 1995 at Westminster Abbey. His books include The Mind of God, God and New Physics, The Cosmic Blueprint, Superforce, and Other Worlds.
 Ratzsch, Ibid.
 Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, New York: Bantum Books, 2010. 180
 Edgar Andres, “Review: the Grand Design,” Challies'.com, Tim Challies, on line reouce, URL:
http://www.challies.com/book-reviews/the-grand-design acessed 10/4/15
Andres is Emeritus professor University of London. Physicist and an expert on large molecules. Born 1932
In “Can a Machine have a Soul?” Bill Lauritzen claims to have disproved the soul. He’s considering the issue of weather or not transferring human consciousness into a machine would give the machine a soul? His solution is to disprove that humans have souls then there’s no soul to worry about. In my view the soul is a symbol and it’s the spirit that lives on after death. So there’s no question of proving or disproving the soul since there is no question or proving or disproving symbols. For the sake of this issue I’ll use his terminology. He assumes the soul is the thing that lives. After all, he would make the same argument against the spirit. That argument is made by the bogus method of merely assume what he thinks human ancestors must have thought about after life and what they based it on. Basing it on something we know is false such as an literalized analogy between smoke is the afterlife of fire, and breath sustaining life, being like smoke, therefore like the smoke form the flame breath must live on as soul. That’s his conjecture. Of course he assume this is the only reason to think there might be a soul and thus he’s swept it out of the way with modern doubt! That really is his only answer. Rather he asserts that it was the attempt to explain oxygen. He’s using as breath in that sense. It’s really breath that he means.
This can also be seen operationally in terms of the Jungian archetypes which can be recovered in several ways. I have managed to get it in good introspectors simply by asking them directly to free associate to a particular symbol. The psychoanalytic literature, of course, has many such reports. Practically every deep case history will report such symbolic, archaic ways of viewing the woman, both in her good aspects and her bad aspects. (Both the Jungians and the Kleinians recognize the great and good mother and the witch mother as basic archetypes.) Another way of getting at this is
in terms ofthe artificial dream that is suggested under hypnosis. It can also probably be investigated by spontaneous drawings, as the art therapists have pointed out. Still another possibility is the George Klein technique of two cards very rapidly succeeding each other so that symbolism can be studied. Any person who has been psychoanalyzed can fairly easily fall into such symbolic or metaphorical thinking in his dreams or free associations or fantasies or reveries.
As Maslow says:
“We must remember, after all, that all these happenings are in truth mysteries. Even though they happen a million times, they are still mysteries. If we lose our sense of the mysterious, or the numinous, if we lose our sense of awe, of humility, of being struck dumb, if we lose our sense of good fortune, then we have lost a very real and basic human capacity and are diminished thereby.”
“Now that may be taken as a frank admission of a naturalistic psychological origin, except that it involves a universal symbology, which is not explicable through merely naturalistic means. How is it that all humans come to hold these same archetypical symbols? The “primitives” viewed and understood a sense of transformation, which gave them integration into the universe. This is crucial for human development. They sensed a power in the numinous, that is the origin of religion.”
While it is true that these experiences and their psycho-social uses have probably evolved over time, it is equally true that they were probably being put to the same uses all along because we can see the relationships between religious symbols, spiritual concepts, and psycho-social aspects. It makes more sense to think they were used in that way all along. the cocnept of the soul is just some simple idea of saying "what keeps me living?O it's some ghost in the machine" but rather why do I feel this strange sense of importance of life and the world when I stare at the stars all night? Then to explain mystical experience they come up with the realization that consciousness probably transcends the material world. From that it's easy to think it lives on after life. Then if the associate it with the wind in the trees and blood and breath and life, that's scientifically mistaken but it's not completely off track. It does at least link the feelings of mystical experience with the reality and meaning of the world and the after life.
The question we need to tackle is this: How does one get from mystic experience to an established religion? My one-word answer is: inevitably. What makes the process inevitable is that we do with our mystical experience what we do with every experience, that is, we try to understand it; we opt for or against it; we express our feelings with regard to it. Do this with your mystical experience and you have all the makings of a religion. This can be shown.
Moment by moment, as we experience this and that, our intellect keeps step; it interprets what we perceive. This is especially true when we have one of those deeply meaningful moments: our intellect swoops down upon that mystical experience and starts interpreting it. Religious doctrine begins at this point. There is no religion in the world that doesn't have its doctrine. And there is no religious doctrine that could not ultimately be traced back to its roots in mystical experience – that is, if one had time and patience enough, for those roots can be mighty long and entangled. Even if you said, "My private religion has no doctrine for I know that my deepest religious awareness cannot be put into words," that would be exactly what we are talking about: an intellectual interpretation of your experience. Your "doctrine" would be a piece of so-called negative (apophatic) theology, found in most religions.
It makes sense that if every doctrine has it's roots in mystical experience that the doctrine of the soul does as well. Now it could easily be that the basic idea was invented by observing breath i the body and wind in the trees then backed up by these emotional experiences. That's ok it means there is no Casper the friendly Ghost-like entity in us waiting to get out. We do not need to hold to that view of the soul or the spirit. Spirit is mind, the word in Greek means mind, it's perfectly logical to understand consciousness as the aspect that lives on. A connection through mystical experience would be quite logical for the spirit. So the reality of consciousness as enduring connection with God and the infinite got mixed up with hoaky notions about wind in trees and evaporation and produced this idea of the ghost. That doesn't mean there is conscoiusness that survives death and unites us with God or not spirit that is reinvigorated when we give our lives to Christ.
This tendency to want to destroy ideas of religion through scinece is nothing more than the illusion of technique. This notion harkens back to a book form the 70's by William Barrett.Perhaps because science is misunderstood by many as thriving upon proof, and it is seen as the umpire of reality because its ability to prove empirically, (apologies to Karl Popper) the illusion of technique is created in the minds of those who misunderstand science in this way. I will say more about this in the next chapter. It is not the scientists who create the illusion but the needs of science groupies who expect it to ground their metaphysical needs that create the illusion. The tendency to reduce all knowledge to one thing enables the illusion to work. The illusion works in the way that reductionism works. If some aspect of reality can’t be gotten at by our methods then we assume it doesn’t exist, because that means it’s not something we can control.
Appendix I. An Example of B-Analysis
Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B., is a monk of Mount Savior Monastery in the Finger Lake Region of New York State and a member of the board of the Council on Spiritual Practices. He holds a Ph.D. from the Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna and has practiced Zen with Buddhist masters. He is author of Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer and Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day.
 William Barrett, The Illusion of Technique: a Search for Meaning in A Technological Civilization.
New York:Anchor books, 1979.
 Raymond D. Boisvert, “The Will to Power and the Will To Prayer: William Barrett’s The Illusion of Technique 30 years Latter.” Journal of Speculative Philosophy: A Quarterly Journal of History, Criticism, and Imagination.” 22, (1), 24-32.