CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth


 
 
In what he terms the "Freewill Argument for the Nonexistence of God" (FANG), atheist Dan Barker contends that the very definition of the Christian God is logically incoherent, and therefore the Christian God is nonexistent. Like many unsound arguments atheistic and otherwise, Barker's appears fairly convincing at a glance. In this case Plato's dictum bears repeating: "Arguments, like men, are often pretenders." The following is the main body of Barker's argument:
 
The Christian God is defined as a personal being who knows everything. According to Christians, personal beings have free will.
 
In order to have free will, you must have more than one option, each of which is avoidable. This means that before you make a choice, there must be a period of potential: you cannot know the future. Even if you think you can predict your decision, if you claim to have free will, you must admit the potential (if not the desire) to change your mind before the decision is final.
 
A being who knows everything can have no state of "uncertainty." It knows its choices in advance. This means that it has no potential to avoid its choices, and therefore lacks free will. Since a being that lacks free will is not a personal being, a personal being that knows everything cannot exist.
 
Therefore, the Christian God cannot exist. [1]
 
If we break down Barker's formulation further it goes something like this:
 
(P1) The Christian God is defined as omniscient and autonomous (having free will).
 
(P2) Autonomy and omniscience are contradictory. 
 
(P3) Contradictions do not exist.
 
(C) The Christian God does not exist.
 
Premise P2 appears to be an intermediate conclusion reached on the basis of two additional supporting premises:
 
(i) Autonomy means the ability to make decisions, leaving future possibilities open.
 
(ii) Omniscience means knowing the future beforehand, precluding ability to make decisions.
 
(c) Autonomy and omniscience are contradictory.
 
The argument is admittedly valid. That is, the overall conclusion does appear to follow logically from the premises and sub-premises. But is it sound, or necessarily true? To answer that question, we must examine the premises individually. P1 turns out to be basically what I would term a "zero-sum" definition of God, in which his "omni" characteristics (in this case omniscience) are held to be self-contradictory because they are all-consuming. "God is defined as a personal being who knows everything." Barker's "definition" sounds reasonable enough, but his particularistic interpretation is not supported by Christian theology, by biblical hermeneutics or even by most standard English dictionaries. Thus Barker's definitions of God and omniscience appear arbitrary, perhaps chosen in order to support a presupposed conclusion. Theologically, the concept of God is a transcendent personal being (an eternal personality, for lack of a better word) who possesses or exhibits attributes such as omniscience. Personalities cannot be ontologically reduced to definitions of their descriptive attributes.
 
This appears to be one reason atheists often clamor for a "definition" of God – in order to play verbal games with the particular words chosen to define him. Concepts do not perfectly convey definitions; to the contrary, definitions imperfectly convey concepts. To misunderstand this is to reduce substantive reasoning to quibbling, and lend credence to logical fallacies such as equivocation. For example, a debater on alt.atheism (many years ago now) argued along these lines: "Omnipotence means all power; but if God has all power, then humanity has none, and therefore God is directly responsible for all the evil and suffering in the world." Here "omnipotence" does mean "all power," but not in a zero-sum sense. "All power," at least in theological terms, means unlimited capacity on the part of God to do whatever he chooses. The former definition precludes free will. The latter does not. God is described by theologians as "omniscient" because he is said to have knowledge of what is ordinarily quite beyond the reach of human understanding – things like the motives of his followers and the respective geopolitical futures of the nations. Terms like "omniscience" thus serve the purpose of theology by contributing to our understanding of God as revealed in Scripture, but implicit in the understanding is that God is not shackled by definitions of words coined in order to describe him in the first place.
 
Consider a counterexample: Dan Barker refers to himself as an "atheist." My old desk dictionary, Merriam-Webster's Tenth Collegiate, defines an "atheist" as "one who denies the existence of God." That same dictionary then offers this definition of "deny": "5: to refuse to accept the existence, truth, or validity of." So it could be argued that according to a dictionary definition, an atheist is one who simply refuses to accept the existence of God or the truth of his existence. It gets worse. My dictionary also defines "denial" in these terms: "6: a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality." By carefully selecting the definitions of the words used to define an "atheist," I can prove that Dan Barker's "atheism" is really a psychological defense mechanism by which he avoids confrontation with the reality of God's existence.
 
Barker argues in premise (ii): "A being who knows everything... knows its choices in advance." I would answer that Barker's premise is both irrelevant and invalid: First, if free will is really the ability to make decisions, then it cannot rightly be debunked on the grounds that decisions themselves delimit free will. As a bachelor, for instance, I considered myself "free" to choose a bride, but now that I have made my choice I have freely renounced all other choices. My decision here is no violation of free will, but is rather the very consequence of it that gives it meaning according to Barker's own definition. God likewise makes meaningful choices precisely because He is free to do so. Second, the assertion that an omniscient being "knows its choices in advance" is a straw man, because God is said in Scripture to inhabit eternity, not time. An omniscient being (particularly the God of Scripture) would not subsist in the space-time continuum of the physical universe, subject to the constraints of time and entropy, but rather outside it as its creator. Christian theism involves belief in a transcendent God, the very sort of entity physicists such as Stephen Hawking must at least consider when they speculate what could possibly cause, or at least explain, the birth of space and time at the point of the big bang singularity. God does not know His own future because He has no future. Because Barker's theological construction is itself incoherent, his argument collapses.
 
On the other hand, if verbal constructs can be said to have legitimate existential import then there are some powerful arguments available for the existence of God. Most famous of these is Anselm's ontological proof, more coherent than Barker's FANG and in more sophisticated forms enjoying the endorsement of noted logicians such as Alvin Plantinga, Kurt Godel and Charles Hartshorne. Anselm's original version from the Proslogion goes as follows: 
 
[I]t is quite conceivable that there is something whose non-existence is inconceivable, and this must be greater than that whose non-existence is conceivable. Wherefore, if that thing than which no greater thing is conceivable can be conceived as non-existent; then, that very thing than which a greater is inconceivable is not that than which a greater is inconceivable; which is a contradiction.
 
So true it is that there exists something than which a greater is inconceivable, that its non-existence is inconceivable; this thing art Thou, O Lord our God! [2]   
 
That is, to properly conceive of God (as the greatest conceivable being or necessarily existent being) is to logically ascertain that His non-existence is inconceivable. If valid ontological proofs (or disproofs) are conclusive, as Barker seems to believe, then God is not incoherent but necessarily existent. If such proofs are not conclusive, then Barker's FANG argument proves nothing anyway.
 
 
 
[1] Dan Barker, "The Freewill Argument for the Nonexistence of God," Freedom from Religion Foundation, https://ffrf.org/legacy/about/bybarker/fang.php.
 
[2] Anselm, "Proslogion III," cited in Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder, eds., Documents of the Christian Church, New York, Oxford: 2011, p. 145.
 



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The Infinite causal regress is an important issue in dealing with the cosmological argument, especially the Kalam version, and the argument form final cause. It basically means that any infinitely recurring causality for any event is impossible, since one never actually arrives at a cause. The importance of this argument applies not only to the now largely abandoned notion of an oscillating universe, but to any finite causes of space/time. This is because in light of the impossibility it means that the ultimate cause of the universe must be a final cause, that is to say, the cause behind all other causes, but itself uncaused and eternal. These are two major issues because they indicate why the ultimate cause of the universe has to be God. Since arbitrary necessities are impossible, the ultimate cause cannot be something which is itself contingent, such as an eternal singularity. The ultimate cause, or "final cause" must be God, since God is a logical necessity.

But lately skeptics have sought to deny these principles. They have actually been denying that infinite causal regress is impossible. This causes me to suspect that they don' really understand the concept. For no one truly understanding the notion of an eternally repeating cause could seriously consider that an infinite causal regress can actually exist. But this denial takes two forms. First, they just deny it outright. They don't' believe me. And secondly, they sometimes try to provide examples such as the number line, that's a favorite. And of course the ever popular claim that God is also an infinite Regress. That is three arguments to deal with:

1) Out right deniel that ICR is impossible

2) The argument that one can find examples in Mathematics

3) The idea that God is also an ICR


Before dealing with the nuberline I will just make a little argument on the impossibility of an actual infinite causal regress (that is that one could actually exist in real life).

1)A beginingless series of events is impossible.

A actual infinite is defined as A beginingless series of events This is not to say that nothing actual could be eternal, but that a series of events with no beginning cannot exist in reality. A thing is said to be actually infinite if part of it is equal to the whole. For example, mathematicians show that the number of fractions is equal to the number of whole numbers, even though fractions can divide whole numbers infinitesimally, because its all infinity and infinity is without number. Now here I'm distinguishing between existence in actuality, the "real world," as opposed to existence in mathematics.

A linear Causal infinite regress is thought to be possible by Auqinas and Farther Copeleston, but only if it has a prior hierarchical cause. In other words, the causality can be not just linear but also hierarchical. A hierarchical infinite regress is also impossible for the same reason, it never really has a cause since it has no beginning. A liniar regress of causal nature is impossible without a hierarchical cause.

The great mathematician David Hilbert argues for the notion that a beginingless series of events with no higher cause is impossible. ["On the Infinite" in Philosophy and Mathematics (Englewood Cliffs New Jersey: Prentice Hall), 1964, 139, 141.)

(2) ICR is Circular Reasoning

William Row Quoted on website below

www.faithquest.com/philos...cosmo.html

Rowe's version of the standard answer goes as follows: Suppose we are wondering why A exists. Suppose further that A was linearly caused to exist by B and that B was linearly caused to exist by C, etc. Here is a causal series, Rowe says, which might well extend infinitely back in time. This is because we need do nothing other than point out B in order to explain why A exists; although B was itself caused to exist by C, we still need refer no further back than B to explain the existence of A. But, Rowe says, suppose we are trying to explain not why A exists but rather why a certain sort of causal activity - the activity of causing A presently to exist - is going on. Here we cannot as before merely point to B. because presumably B is itself being caus ed to engage in the causal activity of causing A presently to exist (and is thus only a kind of intermediary). Accordingly, we have to talk about C's causal activity the causal activity of causing B to cause A presently to exist. This, then, is a series that cannot be extended infinitely; this series must have a first member. For if there were no first member, we would never succeed in arriving at an explanation of the existence of the causal activity of causing A presently to exist. We would never be able to explain why this activity is going on.11

(But this author supports Aquians' and Copleston in saying that linier causal regress is possible but not a hierarchical one. Easy to see why he says this, because he believed the universe to be inifinite in time, but he still asserts that there must be a higher eternal generation)

Just extend Rowe's argument a little further to see that ICR is circular reasoning. The need for a cause is granted bye ICR advocate; and that need will be supplied, so they say, by the cause of the previous event (for example in an oscillating universe, the previous Big Bang supplies the need for the cause of this universe). But, when it comes to explaining the ca usual relation to the whole series they will say that is uncessary, because they have that previous link in the chain and it's covered by the infinite serious of previous links, but nothing ever explains how the previous link could be there, except a previous link.

This is just circular reasoning because no matter how far back you go you have a cause that allows for any particualr link to exist. Take this example:

a => b, b => c, => d => e, e => f

Now if we say "how can f exist without a cause? They say well it has a cause in e. But e doesn't have a cause except in a equally unexplained d, and go back as far as you will, there is never an explanation for how this could be. Yet they agree that the causal principal is necessary because they keep sticking in intermeidate causes. If the causal principal is necessary, then there must be a final cause taht expalins how it could begin. Causality is linear and if they are going to argue for cyclical universe they have cover a linear concept of casu and effect.

If a series of events go back in time forever it is a beginingless series of events. IF the universe existed forever, for example, this would constittue an actual infinite. This is because the series of events that led to the current universe would be infinite. This is to distinguish it form a "potential infinite" which might be achieved by adding one event to another in a series and going on infinitely. But a series of events that has already transpired infinitely is an actual infinite.

Or let's look at the notion of finishing an infinite series. If a man claims to have been counting for infinity and is at last about to reach zero, he says -3, -2, -1, he's finally finished. Yet, he should have finished eons before, an infinity of time passed eons ago, or centuries, or decades, so he should have finished by now. Another strange paradox is that if we could check this man's counting in the past we would never find him counting. For he would have finished an infinity ago so we could never find him counting at any time that we ever checked his counting. Yet if he never counted he could never finnish. Now may skeptics are going to say that it is impossible to count infinitely and so forth, yes, obviously. But these are the kinds of examples used in transfinite mathematics to illustrate this point.

"This illustrates once more that the series of past events could not be without a beginning for if you could not count numbers from eternity, neither could you have events form eternity. These examples underline the absurdity of a beginingless series of events in time, because such a series is an actual infinite and an actual infinite cannot exist. This means that the universe began to exist, which is what we set out to porve" (William Lane Criag in his early work, The Existence of God and The begining of the Universe Here's Life Publishers 1979 p.4 [and don't forget the empirical scientific data which also proves this same pint with the Big Bang).

3) An Actual Infinite Cannot Be Achieved by Adding one event to the series, thus the series of events in time can never be actually infinite.

This can also be understood in the fallacy to trying to count to infinity. This should be pretty obvious, because no matter how many events we add we can always add one more and continue to add events forever. One can never count to infinity. Most people understand this pretty well.So one could never add one event to another and reach infinity, it's the same thing. This is also called The impossibility of traversing the infinite.

Thus an actual infinite could come to exist only if all the memebers came to exist at the same time. As Craig points out "if an infinite number of Days existed before today, today would never come because one can never traverse the infinite." (50).

Philosopher John Hospers states:

"If an infinite series has proceeded the present moment, how did we get to the present moment? How could we get to the present moment--where we obviously are Now--if the present moment was proceeded by an infinite series of events?" [An Indtorduction to Philosophical Analysis, 2nd ed. (London: Rutledge and Kegan Paul, 1967) 434)

This First argument, the impossibility of a beginingless series of events with no higher cause was repeatedly defended and always successfully by G.J.Withrow, Professor of Mathematics at University of London's Imperial College of Science and Technology. see "The Age of the Universe,"British Journal for Philosopher of Science (1954-55) PP215-225. Natural Philosophy of Time (London: Thomas Nelson, 1961) See also Philsopher William Rowe The Cosmological Argument Princeton University press 1975

Now What if someone argues that the infinite series would be beyond time? In that case the skpetic loses the argument that there is no causality before time. IF there is no motion, causality, or change beyond time than there cannot be a series of events leading form one cause to another beyond time.

Now let's examine the three arguments.

1) Out right deniel that ICR is impossible.

Well, if they don't believe the logic, they are pretty hopeless. And if they dont' accept the word of the mathematicians that are quoted, there isn't much you can do about it. But it seems pretty obvious that if you have an ifinite series of causes leading back infinitely you would never have an actual cause, and the thing to be caused would not exist, just as you cannot count to infinity, or just as the counter claiming to have arrived at zero from infinity would never have actually counted.

2) That the number line is an example from Mathematics that proves the actual infinite, or Infinite causal regress.

David Hilbert has prove, as quoted above, that transfinite mathematics cannot exist in life. The number line is not an actual series of events, it is only hypothetical. Moreover numbers do not cause each other. It is not a causal regress.

3) That God is an ICR

This is merely to confusse an infinite with an infinite regress The ICR is an infinite series of events. God is not a series of events. God is not an event, God is not a recurrsion of causes, he is one final cause. God is not in time, he is eternal. So the two are not analogous at all. God is not an ICR.

The ICR is an impossibility, it cannot exist in actuality. This means the universe cannot be eternal, for the universe is an infinite series of causes, each one leading to the next. It certainly means the old oscillating universe notion of eternally recurring big bangs and crunches is right out! Therefore, there must be a final cause which is eternal and is not a series of events but one final cause that transcends the chain of cause and effect. It causes the universe but it is not in turn an effect of any other cause.

Aristotle and Bertrand Russell agree

Robert Koons, University of Texas

www.la.utexas.edu/phl356/lec5.html

Lecutre 5 Phil 356 Theism Spring 98


Another example is mentioned by al-Ghazali. Suppose that the sun and moon have each been revolving around the earth throughout an infinite past. There are 12 revolutions of the moon for every revolution of the sun. As we go back in time, the gap between the number of months and years grows ever wider, yet, taken as a whole, there are an equal number of elapsed months and years (both infinite). Cantorian set theory agrees with this paradoxical result: the cardinal number of months and years is exactly the same.

Bertrand Russell discusses a similar paradox, which he called the Tristam Shandy paradox. Tristam is writing is own autobiography. He takes a whole year to write down the events of a single day. In an infinite amount of time, Shandy can complete the task. Here's a time-reversed version of the paradox: suppose that Tristam is clairvoyent -- he writes about his own future. Last year he wrote about today's events; in the year before last, he wrote about yesterday's events. Today, he has just completed an infinite autobiography, cover all the events of his infinite past, despite the fact that, as we go farther in the past, Shandy is every further behind in the task -- i.e., 1000 years ago, he was still writing about the events of only the last three days.


Final note: The paradox of Time.

Some thinkers believe that time is an infinite series. I do not agree with this notion, I accept t=0, time begins in the Big Bang. But this is a valid viewpoint, I just dont' happen to agree. But that does not prove that a beginingless series of events with no higher cause can exist. Time can still have a higher cause, God perhaps, in heierarchical fashion.



In what should now be regarded as a classic of atheist literature, The Blind Watchmaker, Richard Dawkins famously argued that because theism as a proposed explanation for complexity is self-defeating, it follows that the extremely improbable but at least naturalistic event of abiogenesis followed by eons of cumulative natural selection is the only satisfactory explanation for the origin and diversity of life. As he put it, "To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer."[1] In other words, to infer God as best explanation for nature is question begging, and therefore nature must be its own best explanation. This amounts to the old "Who Created God?" objection.
 
There are many fallacies in this superficially clever argument, beginning with a non sequitur based on the argument from ignorance. Even if theism were somehow shown to be irrational or otherwise epistemically unjustified, that fact would not establish the scientific legitimacy of abiogenesis or any aspect of Darwinism, let alone the truth of atheism. To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by refuting a straw man theological explanation is to explain precisely nothing, for it still leaves unexplained the origin of the DNA/protein machine, which happens to be the question at hand and which happens to constitute the theoretical driving mechanism of cumulative natural selection – all of which Dawkins has assured us he has the ability to explain.
 
Now I don't know of any theist who would presume to explain the origin of "a supernatural designer" – the origin of God – since one of the defining characteristics of God is supernatural, eternal preexistence. Theological concepts like aseity, eternality and transcendence are attributes of God revealed in Scripture long before Charles Darwin, let alone Richard Dawkins, was born, and defended by brilliant philosophers and theologians for centuries. Ed Feser, for example, states as part of a useful primer on the cosmological argument:
 
So, to ask “What caused God?” really amounts to asking “What caused the thing that cannot in principle have had a cause?”, or “What actualized the potentials in that thing which is pure actuality and thus never had any potentials of any sort needing to be actualized in the first place?”, or “What imparted a sufficient reason for existence to that thing which has its sufficient reason for existence within itself and did not derive it from something else?” And none of these questions makes any sense.[2]
 
In the meantime, the question before us is the origin of life, not the origin of God. They are separate questions altogether, which is why, ironically enough, Christian theism doesn't beg the question of the origin of life while the blind watchmaker "postulate" does. I could propose that my watch was created by the Seiko Watch Corporation, and a critic could retort that in itself this answer would leave the origin of the Seiko Watch Corporation completely unexplained. Indeed it would, but the fact remains that regardless of whatever its own origins may be, the Seiko Watch Corporation created my watch. To infer that my response here is question-begging is to wrongly read circularity into a valid, causally connected and perfectly true answer to the particular question of my watch's origins. Richard Swinburne calls this odd sort of reasoning the completist fallacy: "Clearly it is a fallacy. For if it were really the case that F could not explain E unless there is an explanation of F, nothing in the universe could be explained…"[3]
 
God remains the most promising cosmological-explanatory stopping point, not only because God is and always has been theologically so defined, but because nature herself is demonstrably finite, contingent, and shot through with entropy. Much evidence – from the fields of theoretical physics, cosmology and thermodynamics – indicates that the physical universe has not likely existed forever. If we must choose someone or something to honor as the eternally self-existent creator of life on earth (and it appears from Dawkins' own discussion of primordial realities that we must), it only makes sense that we go with God himself rather than an impossibly restricted material substitute.
 
[1] Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York: Norton, 1996), p. 141.
[2] Ed Feser, "So you think you understand the cosmological argument?" http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/so-you-think-you-understand.html.
[3] Richard Swinburne, The Existence of God (New York: Oxford, 2004), p. 76.
 

This week, I will report about some commentaries that deal with Matthew 24. And, once again, a Douglas Hamp article is my inspiration:

http://www.douglashamp.com/the-fig-tree-has-budded/

Matthew 24:32 has this verse:


Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When it’s branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh.

Douglas Hamp believes that the Fig Tree is the house of Israel:

There are two obvious questions concerning this parable: who or what is the fig tree and how long is a generation? The answer to the first question is unmistakably Israel. God clearly compares Israel with a fig tree. The following verses are given in chronological order:

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first fruits on the fig tree in its first season.” (Hosea 9:10, emphasis mine).

Here God compares Israel to grapes and the fathers to fruits of the fig tree. Then in Joel He speaks of “my land” as being comparable to “my fig tree” again showing that Israel (both ethnically/nationally and geographically) is symbolized as a fig tree.

“For a nation has come up against My land, strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white.” (Joel 1:6-7, emphasis mine)
Besides using Bible verses to support this, he also refers to a anti-canonical work known as the Apocalypse of Peter. According to this link, composition is around 135 A.D:

http://www.ntcanon.org/Apocalypse_of_Peter.shtml

The earliest possible date can be determined through the date of 4 Esdras -- about 100 CE -- which was probably used in the Apocalypse of Peter and II Peter, the priority of which was demonstrated by F. Spitta. The latest possible date, using the quotations of Theopilus above, is 180. We thus come, with H. Weinel, if in interpreting the Parable of the Fig Tree in c.2 we also relate to the Jewish Antichrist who persecutes the Christians to Bar Chocba, to approximately the year 135 as the probable time of origin.
Here is another link where you can read the texts from the Apocalypse. The Ethiopic text is the one that mentions the Fig Tree being Israel:

http://fam-faerch.dk/pseudigrapher/apocl/apcpete.htm

Another scripture that Douglas wrote about was Matthew 24:34:

Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, until all these things be fulfilled.
He believes that Jesus is talking about the time when he returns to this earth. However, opinions vary on that, as this article shows:

http://www.ukapologetics.net/09/AD70.htm

Joe Hinman also did an article about the Olivet Discourse:

http://metacrock.blogspot.com/2011/07/was-jesus-wrong-in-his-olivette.html










 







 photo GHMC_zps294ecee6.jpg

Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979)
 warned of rise of one-dimensional 
man





C. Wright Mills was a sociologist at Columbia University in New York. He is best known for his work The Power Elite.[16] It is from that work that we take the popular phrase of the 1960s, “military industrial complex.” In The Sociological Imagination[17] he explodes the illusions by which the power elite cover their own lack of understanding. His message there is that not only does the system run over the individual but even those who are in charge of it are dragged along by its momentum and don’t really know where they are going. Mills was one of the first thinkers to use the term "post-modern" (which he hyphenated). For Mills, writing in the '50s, modernity had already passed away, post-modernity had dawned. "The ideological mark...[of the post-modern epoch] --that which sets it apart from the modern age-- is that the ideas of freedom and of reason have become moot; that increased rationality may not be assumed to make for increased freedom."[18] As with Schweitzer, Mills reflects that the technological structure separates people from control over or reflection upon the ends of their lives. "Caught in the everyday milieux of their limited lives, ordinary people cannot reason about the greater structures both rational and irrational of which their milieu are subordinate parts."[19] (168).

The individual learns not to reason, but to rationalize the goals and ends of life, and his or her position in the overall scheme of things. Given...the ascendant trend of rationalization, the individual 'does what he can.' He gears his aspirations and his work to the situation he is in and from which he can find no way out. In due course he does not seek a way out: he adapts. That part of his life which is left over from work he uses to play, to consume, to have fun. Yet this sphere of consumption is also being rationalized. Alienated from production, from work, he is also alienated from consumption, from genuine leisure. This adaptation of the individual and its effects upon his milieux and self results not only in the loss of his chance, but in due course of his capacity and will to reason; it also affects his chances and his capacity to act as a free [person]. Indeed, neither the value of freedom nor of reason, it would seem, are known to him.[20]

The end result, according to Mills, is that society becomes filled with "cheerful robots," those who obey the programming of technique and cannot seek alternatives.[21] Mills charged that the social sciences help to further the aims and methods of technique, hiding behind the " scientific objectivity," unwilling to mount any critique. Mills anticipates Herbert Marcuse's work, written in 1964, One-Dimensional Man.




            Herbert Marcuse (July 19, 1898 – July 29, 1979) was a German academic who fled to America to avoid the Nazis in the 30s. He worked for the OAS during the war and latter become the major intellectual powerhouse behind the New Left of the 1960s. He was based in San Diego where the taught, Ronald Reagan tried to have his Doctorate revoked to silence his criticisms of the war and the establishment. He was a Marxist, some say Neo-Marxist he was critical of Stalin and called a revisionist by Stalinists. Marcuse was best known for his seminal work One-Dimensional Man (1964), one of the greatest books of the era and one of primary importance for the century. In One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse argues that affluent capitalist society has been good at providing primary needs to a mass population (despite continuing poverty for some) and it has created a bourgeois society that perpetuates false needs. The American worker has bought into his place in the capitalist order as a cog in the machine, or a bit of overhead for the owners of the means of production, because in exchange will continue to supply the false needs upon which he has become admitted; that is the material trammels of an affluent society.

...The irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits...The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against falsehood. And as these beneficial products have become available to more individuals, in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life. It is a good way of life' much better than before and as a good way of life, it militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior, in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this [social-political] universe. They are re-defined by the rationality of the given system and of its quantitative extension.[22] (12).

The prognosis for one-dimensional man doesn’t end with just supporting capitalism as the basis of false needs. The whole concept of being a thinking person who lives in a society in which thinking people can determine their own lives is called into question and in fact done away with because the concept of freedom is illusory and not scientific. The scientistic crowd is telling us that freedom is a trick. The issues of one-dimensional man don’t stop Marxism because there is more to power than just capital vs labor, or capitalism vs. Marxism. Lurking behind the accumulation of false needs (technological version of bread and circuses) is operational thinking. This is what Marcuse means by "quantitative extension of the given system" (quotation above). " The trend [one-dimensional consumer society] may be related to a development in scientific method: operationalism in the physical, behaviorism in the social sciences. The common feature is a total empiricism in the treatment of concepts; their meaning is restricted to the representation of particular operations and behavior...In general, we mean by a conceptnothing more than a set of operations...a positivism which, in its denial of the transcending elements of reason, forms the academic counterpart to the socially required behavior."[23] The positivist and reductionist tendencies of contemporary scientific thought, which props up the technostructure and furnishes it with "empirical proof," works to eliminate all concepts that cannot be quantified, and therefore, eventually ”commodified.”
            Stanly Aronowitz wrote Science as Power, in which he argues two things: power is possessed by a process of legitimating, and science has lent itself to that legitimating at the expense of all other forms of truth.[24] In other words power is not merely taken by a group or an institution but it is built through a process of self legitimating moves. That process is part of the means by which modern science procures funding and perpetuates itself in modern society; by being of use to power through lending itself to the development of the means of power. We see this explicitly through the military but more subtly through industry and the development of technology, the status of scientific funding in the university and so on. In lending itself to power as an enforcement mechanism science subsumes other views and other concepts of truth. This process is inherent since science has always provided a certain aspect of truth in revealing the mechanism through which the natural world functions. Apart form the cultural currying of power, Aronowitz finds, science has an intrinsic power in its conflation of truth and knowledge. “Devising a method of proving the validity of propositions about objects taken as external to the knower has become identical with what we mean by ‘truth.’”[25] In other words science purports to tell us how the physical world stacks up and wont allow any other method to introduce other kinds of truth that it would consider authoritative, that becomes all there is in the world, the physical set up that science can study and quantify. The process by which modern though came to understand itself as its own object, from Plato’s observation of truth as self representing, to Hegel’s notion that consciousness takes itself as its own object, is done away by modern science. [26]Perhaps that’s why atheists have such abhorrence for the subjective. We can’t trust our own perceptions we can only trust that which is produced by the scientific method. The problem is so much of modern science is not procured through the process of empirical verification that is the hallmark of modern science, but must be reached though calculation, in terms of modern quantum theory for example. Then truth comes to be a rubber stamp placed upon “truth” by science. As Aronowitz points out, “Science is truth, and can for this reason represent itself by means of its procedures…self criticism of science is conducted within the boundaries of its own normative structures.”[27]
            The thinkers from Schweitzer to Marcuse and Aronowitz they are all building on the indicators of civilization in decay that Schweitzer originally saw. By the time we get to the end of the twentieth century they are so far gone one dimensional man is established. We are now working on moving from one-dimensional to cheerful robot. There’s a snowball relationship in that the scientistic mentality creates the situation then feeds off of it. Knowledge is reduced to one thing, science, then that one thing is transmogrified from knowledge to technique, or illusion of technique. Finally humanity itself is displaced as freedom is reduced to just anther false need. That is to say freedom becomes confused with the products one buys and with the process of choosing products. The concept of freedom itself is ratcheted down from a personal philosophical understanding of the goals and ends of one’s life to purchasing power to obedience. The real discourse becomes closed around the one possibility left to us, which is how best to obey. When the only form of knowledge is science knowledge of freedom must disappear, there is no freedom in science. The concept of freedom requires a substantial conceptual background to cover all the bases. We have to understand the parameters of freedom, the possibilities, the impediments to freedom, balancing freedom against responsibility and so on. When the only form of knowledge is about the facts of nature and how they work there’s no room for an abstraction like ‘possible freedom.’

Separation from God.

            For those of us who feel we know the reality of God in our lives, this is a great harm. It would rob those who don’t know that reality of the ability to ever learn. Reduction of knowledge to only scientific knowledge, ala the ideological administration of scientism, robs us of knowing God because it reduces religious experience to the level of the “subjective” the emotional, these are greatly things to be avoided in the ideology of scientism. Scienstism portrays itself as rational and objective it places all that does not bow before it in the category of the irrational and the subjective. We have already seen the way new atheism rationalizes scientific protocols to manipulate “God does not exist” into a scientific fact, via Austin Cline (see above FN 7).  To reprise that statement:
"this alleged entity has no place in any scientific equations, plays no role in any scientific explanations, cannot be used to predict any events, does not describe any thing or force that has yet been detected, and there are no models of the universe in which its presence is either required, productive, or useful." [28]
But that’s just circular reasoning because it assumes at the outset that since there is no argument that is deemed acceptable scientifically, there can be no warrant for belief in God. As long as the only form of knowledge is science then the only valid argument is scientific. While there are valid scientifically based arguments for God (see chapters nine and ten) there is no “fact” accepted in science such that “God exists.” Therefore, any argument for the existence of God is met with “that’s disproved before we start because it’s not science.” Cutting off other forms of knowledge the gate keepers of scientific acuity merely denounce warrant for belief based upon their own prejudices. Based upon that assumption it is deemed “unscientific” to argue for such a warrant. In fact what I’m saying is that scientists are human and they embody the same prejudices as anyone. That has to be ignored when the only from of knowledge is science because the human factor is not part of the scientific process. Thus belief in God is removed from reality by a series of protocols that amount to nothing more than jumped up ideology.

God belief and the realm of discourse

            Belief in God is more than just belief in an entity. It’s also the basis for rejecting the closed realm of discourse. This is true for two reasons, (1) because as the Transcendental signified God sets in motion the basic first principles that serve as premises of logic. God determines the basis upon which truth is held, since God alone is the ultimate creator then God alone is the final assigner of meaning. Thus the realm of discourse can never be truly closed by temporal power or human concerns. (2) Because in a practical sense the open nature of discourse depends to a great deal upon the understanding of technique. When we come to vest the illusion of technique with all power and all logic then we vest it with all right. That’s when we start thinking its right to pursue actions merely because we have the physical prowess to do so. As long as God is understood as the orbiter of truth no human technique affords one the efficacy to close the realm of discourse around any one social project. An example of what I’m talking about is the case of a worker in stem cell research who was injured by the technology but was denied direct medical care. “I was denied directed medical care for exposures from dangerous embryonic stem technologies incurred while at work. Unbelievably, I was denied under the premise that ‘trade secrets’ supersede a worker’s right to specific exposure information. Welcome to the embryonic stem cell world, a world of legal quagmire where human rights and public rights are slated toward the chopping block.”[29]

In fact, the public has been fooled. The embryonic stem cell research industry is far from the altruistic persona it has painted itself to be. Rather, embryonic stem cell research is about big money, first and foremost. It is about securing a position of power within the economic and legal mainstream of the American public. That is why biotech worker’s rights regarding safety and healthcare have been denied. That is why, unfortunately, the public’s right will be denied too.

And the media has not helped. The media has purposely turned the human embryonic stem cell debate into a polarized “religion versus science” contest.

But issues lying in-between those two polarities contain much of the tainted meat that can negatively impact the public toward human rights. These concerns get no media attention. The public remains ignorant. In fact, the public lacks an understanding of the legal, social and cultural effects that could negatively impact them as advanced technologies move forward.[30]

What’s the link from science as the only form of knowledge and this case? The realm of discourse is closed around the illusion of technique. Ethical consideration disappear because we have the technology we know how to do it, it’s sanctioned by the thinking experts who make decisions for us. These are the guys that know stuff, there’s no knowledge outside of science, these are scientists so they must know all about ethics and if they do can do it, must be good to do.





[16] C Wright Mills, the Power Elite. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956. No page given.
[17] C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination. New York, London: Oxford University Press, 1967 (originally 1959)
[18] Ibid, 167
[19] Ibid., 168
[20] Ibid., 170
[21] Ibid., 171
[22] Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Soceity. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964, 12.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Stanley Aronowitz, Science as Power: Discourse and Ideology In Modern Society.Minneapolis Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1988, ix.
Stanley Aronotwitz is professor of Sociology and cultural studies at CUNY Graduate Center, New York. He is a long time cultural critic and political activist.
[25] Ibid., vii.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid., viii the idea about quantum physics he states on page ix
[28] Austin Cline, “Scientifically God Does Not Exist: Science allows us to say God Does not Exist, there is role for God in science, no explanation that God can provide.” About.com, Agnosticism/Atehism. Online publication:http://atheism.about.com/od/argumentsagainstgod/a/GodScience.htm  accessed 12/27/13.
[29] Becky A. McClain, “Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Threatens Human Rights and Public Interests.” Watchdog on Science. On line resource. Septermber 14, (2010). http://watchdogonscience.blogspot.fr/2010/09/embryonic-stem-cell-research-funding.html   
accessed. 1/15/14.
[30] Ibid.


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