CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth


The problem stems from the basic tendency of Dawkins to try and turn God into a biological organism and make him subject to physical law. I think he does this because the kind of naturalistic that Dawkins is can't think creatively. Be that as it may, I have a word about design before I get into the issue of complexity and God. The using of organized complexity as an argument for the existence of God must be done very sparingly and very carefully. This is because the design argument is not a good argument. I have found some specialized uses for aspect of the design argument, and I say must be done carefully,but by and large I don't use the design argument because it's based upon a fallacy. It first of all treats God like a big man, a big city planner in the sky. The problem with "planning' is it's a human thing. It's also a problem because you can't base belief upon the appearance of the word, since we do  not have a designed world (or one that we know is either way) to compare it to. So we don't know what a  designed world would look like or an undersigned one. We have no control planet to compare.

This is also a big problem for atheists they just need to be made aware of it. Atheists are always trying to extrapolate form the look of the world to the nature of God--there's evil in the world, there can't be a loving God. The world is a big mess, there can't be  a God who cares ect ect. They are doing the same thing the design argument does, reasoning from the nature of the world to the existence or non existence of a creator.

This  part 2 of the previous post. I was considering an argument that Dawkins  makes to the effect that evolution doesn't leave God anything to do.  The idea that evolution is a counter to God belief is so sophomoric it's  hardly worth arguing against, but the fact that Dawkins is willing to  argue it seroiusly is very telling. The "new atheists" or "Dawkies" as I  call them (Dawkamentalits) take the same tact mocking and ridiculing  real, serious, advanced and sophisticated liberal theology. But he  augments the simplistic contradiction between God and evolution by  trying to turn it into a basis for probabilistic analysis ruling out the  probability of God.

Wouldn't we  be tempted to fall on our knees and worship them, as a medieval peasant  might if suddenly confronted with such miracles as a Boeing 747, a  mobile telephone or Google Earth? But, however god-like the aliens might  seem, they would not be gods, and for one very important reason. They  did not create the universe; it created them, just as it created us.  Making the universe is the one thing no intelligence, however  superhuman, could do, because an intelligence is complex—statistically  improbable —and therefore had to emerge, by gradual degrees, from  simpler beginnings: from a lifeless universe—the miracle-free zone that  is physics.

So he uses this notion to create an  opposition then leverages out the God concept on the basis that it's  primitive and superstitious. The lever is the probability analysis.  Evolution is the competing er zots creator. He then asserts the  astounding concept that a mind can't create evolution. This is  supposedly the case because as  a statistically complex thing a mind  would be improbable since it has to be the product of evolution and  develop. That would god is the product of evolution. That would make  evolution and the who understands it best (Dawkins?) would be God's  "Keeper." Aside from that aspect, Dawkins thinking here is extremely  silly. But let's take it in stages.  First I'll deal with the original  allegation that God has nothing to do in an evolving universe, secondly  I'll deal with the inane probability argument.

The  basic assumption he makes is that God is a big man in the sky. The  reason I think he assumes this is because he treats God as though God  were a big man; men need "tings to do." Of cousre if God created  evolution one would have to think that he understood this would leave  him with time on his hands. Rather than postulate the existence of a  huge heavenly golf course with angelic caddies, perhaps we might just  suspect that God doesn't need to "do things" in the same way that we do.  Tilehard de Chardin theorized that God is the strong force. The strong  force holds together atomic structures. In that case God would have a  lot to do, assuming he "needed something to do." But not being a big man  beyond our understanding we might just assert that God doesn't get  board, doesn't have to challenge himself with meaningless activities and  if he is trying to draw people to Christ he has his hands full anyway  trying to convict people like Dawkins of their arrogance, and also  teaching logic to atheists. That ought to keep him busy for an eternity  or two.

Notice that Dawkin's arguments don't stem from  the idea that God would not be capable of making a universe, but that he  needs an activity, what he really mean is that in our understanding of  argument for the existence of god there's nothing for him to do (that  assumes the best implication because he does not say this). He may  really mean there's nothing we can see that would give us an idea of the  difference between God and no God. Stephan Hawking's argument is not  based upon the probability scam but upon a question prompted by his own  theory which removes the singularity in favor of a no boundary condition  of the universe; in other words the universe did not begin in time.

So long as the universe had a  beginning, we could  suppose that it had a creator. But if the universe  is really completely  self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it  would have neither  beginning nor end: it would simply be. What  place, then, for a creator? (quoted byCTNS)

This is different from Dawkin's argument, but  the answers overlapp. Keith Ward Takes issue in God, Chance and  Necessity (quoted on CTNS site, Ibid.)

"On the quantum fluctuation hypothesis, the  universe  will only come into being if there exists an exactly balanced  array of  fundamental forces, an exactly specified probability of  particular  fluctuations occurring in this array, and existent space-time  in which  fluctuations can occur. This is a very complex and finely  tuned  ‘nothing’... So this universe looks highly contingent after all,  and a  creator God might well choose to create a partly probabilistic  universe  by choosing just such an origin for it."

     Drees points out that in fact the Hawking-Hartle  proposal accords well  with a theology which emphasises that every space  is equally created by  God, ‘“sustaining” the world in all its  “times.”’ R.J.Russell has shown,  moreover, that at the core of the  doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is the  principle of ontological  dependence - that all matter, all energy, and  the laws that govern the  universe all depend for their existence on a  God whose existence is not  dependent on anything. The discovery of an  actual temporal beginning  to this material universe would not prove this  doctrine (since the  doctrine rests on metaphysical convictions about  God and existence) but  only provide an additional gloss to it

  Russell, Ph.D. Physics Santa Cruz,
prof Theology and Scinece
Founder and director CTNS

This means there are still  things for God to do, just in case he needs them. Form the standpoint of  apologetic there are still "earmarks" of God's work. But with Dawkins  argument the rationale is quite different. His probability mess does not  lend itself well to the God argument proof issue. He's not just looking  for a hint of God's handiwork to compare to regular nature, but is  actually trying to subject God to the needs and habits of a big man.  He's creating his own Staw God concept and trying to wedge that in to  the Christian argument. Dawkn's strwa God is a big biological organism  subject to the same needs for challenge and stimulation that humans  possess. He has a human mind that can be compared to our own reasoning  processes so that a probability can be fixed to it's existence. Of  course it would have to be the product of evolution because in Dawkin's  world straw God is the product of higher forces, not the ground of being  or the primordial aspect of reality upon which all other things depend,  but the Dawkamentalist er zots God of science, evolution, has to create  the straw God. In so doing Dawkins has tipped his hand, it is apparent  he doesn't understand the Christian concept of God nor is he working  within it's philosophical boundaries. He's not only created a straw God  but he's placed it under jurisdiction of his own er zots god.

Of  course weather one is a Tillichian, a Lutheran or a Thomism, even a  protestant evangelical God is not a product of anything. No Christian  group anywhere would accept this. That aspect alone marks Dawkin's straw  God as a straw man argument. Of course as the last post parted out  (part 1) it makes so much more sense to understand God as the progenitor  of physical law, and perhaps directing to toward evolution, rather than  the product of it, because otherwise you have these disembodied laws  that most modern scientists don't even see as perspective anymore, no  way to explain what they do or where they are located prior to the  universe. That also means that the universe itself lacks explanation.  Thanks to this maneuver Dawkin's idea actually highlights the real need  to understand God as the basis of reality rather than to posit a big man  with nothing to do. For this reason his argument is circular as the  premise (God is a big man with nothing to do) rests upon the conclusion  (viewing  God in which way disproves the existence of God).

That  God is subject to evolution Dawkins predicates upon the human  understanding of the universe about the nature of complexity. Complexity  serves a key function in the argument because with it probability might  favor God. But in using it he opens the door to another means of  destroying his argument. He wants to say that God would have to be  complex because as far as we know only complexity can  produce more complexity. Thus a complex universe would have to be the  process of a more complex God:

To  midwife such emergence is the singular achievement of Darwinian  evolution. It starts with primeval simplicity and fosters, by slow,  explicable degrees, the emergence of complexity: seemingly limitless  complexity—certainly up to our human level of complexity and very  probably way beyond. There may be worlds on which superhuman life  thrives, superhuman to a level that our imaginations cannot grasp. But  superhuman does not mean supernatural. Darwinian evolution is the only  process we know that is ultimately capable of generating anything as  complicated as creative intelligences. Once it has done so, of course,  those intelligences can create other complex things: works of art and  music, advanced technology, computers, the Internet and who knows what  in the future? Darwinian evolution may not be the only such generative  process in the universe. There may be other "cranes" (Daniel Dennett's  term, which he opposes to "skyhooks") that we have not yet discovered or  imagined. But, however wonderful and however different from Darwinian  evolution those putative cranes may be, they cannot be magic. They will  share with Darwinian evolution the facility to raise up complexity, as  an emergent property, out of simplicity, while never violating natural  law.

He just asserts that natural law is all there is  and thus God must be a product of natural law. This astounding  conclusion is arrived at how? By using human understanding based upon,  his own words, "Darwinian evolution is the  only process we know that is ultimately  capable of generating  anything as complicated as creative intelligences." And how much of the  universe have seen? Up close we know some stuff form one planet, how  much? We don't know, we are still amazed by our own planet. Off planet  we've made remarkable progress through telescopes and other long range  means, but what do we really know?

John Polikinghorne Q  and A (question  about cosmological argument)
John Polikinghorne's Websiet
the answer of his  assistant

However since it is known that only 4% of  the matter and energy in the Universe is made of what we understand as  matter, and most of the  universe seems, on current understandings, to  be “dark matter” and “dark energy” about which we know nearly nothing,  and no-one knows how to reconcile Quantum Mechanics with General  Relativity (the  much-hyped String Theory looks increasingly like a  dead-end) it is unwise to assume  that current understandings of  cosmology represent the last word.
  I’ll see what John has to  add. John said he  had nothing to add to this reply

We  can take this to mean we know only about 4% of the universe. Actually  it might be a lot less but this s a good illustration of one aspect of  which we know almost nothing, and that aspect is major. So Dawkins  standard for fixing human knowledge is pretty feeble. But the fact he's  willing to do it is interesting because when we use the same kind of  standard in God arguemnts, it means nothing to an atheist. We say "not  one single example anywhere in all of reality shows a non contingent  aspect of the natural world" but they dont' care. As far as they are  concerned that tells us nothing about the universe being contingent.  they are willy to shout "fallacy of composition" on that one but totally  ignore what the limited data base does to their assumption about  complexity and human knowledge.

(1) tries to force God  under the jurisdiction of the physical by just asserting the universal  necessity of physical law, he abhorrence of Magic, of course making out  that supernatural is "only magic" which can't exist because it's opposed  to the ideology of physcialism and lack of a God forbid that anything  should contradict that! We know that's the only real truth how do we  know it? by the same circular reasoning that allows us to hide proof of  miracles under the same dictum and to assume through circular reasoning  that there is no God.

(2) Of course attaching a  probability to something like God woud be totally impossible since  there's nothing to compare to. the very concept of the probability of  the foundation of reality is impossible understand.

In  addition to this there are also a couple of problems with the  "complexity" and applying it to God.

(1) No basis for  comparison.

How could one say if the basis of reality  is complex or simple? This would especially be perplexing if creation  has a moment in time. If God existed "before" creation (if creation is  done in time then there can be a "before") as opposed to placing it in a  spacial coordinate such as "beyond event horizon." In either case to  what do we compare God? Let's say we have car in an eternal void of  nothing. This is true absolute nothing, no vacuum flux, no germs no  nothing. Just pure darkness and this care. Now how fast is it moving? Is  it moving at all? Say it's 0 mph. But wait, no landmarks to measure  miles, no time to measure hours, hwo can we even say it's moving at all,  must less how fast? This is the same problem we have in consider God's  complexity. What is complex compared to God? Does the term have a  meaning. What is simple compared to the only thing that is? On the other  hand suppose there's nothing but a singularity, a mathematical dot. The  dot would be complex compered to nothing, but compared to us it would  be simple.

(2) God is simple

Thomas  Aquinas  believed that God was simple, the "primary act of existence,"  extremely simple.

(3) Their premise contradicts  evolution which has complexity coming from simplicity

Dawkins  says as quoted above that evolution would mean God has to be complex  and to have developed by physical laws. On the other hand evolute posits  origin from extreme simplicity and the simplicity evolves into  complexity. We begin the universe with a singularity and life with a  single cell organism. It looks like the principle of complex from the  simple is not a contradiction to evolution. Since God is not a  biological organism and can't the product of a process that would  suggest that God is simple and the complexity of the universe evolved.  Moreover, God does not have a physical brain and thus what is it exactly  that would need to be complex?

Come to that Dawkins is  willing to use human data base, limited though it is, to argue absolute  analogy for things beyond our observation, so why isn't he wiling to  accept the notion of a contingent universe?

(4) If God  was complex it would have no consequances because God is not vulnerable  to the probelms of complexity

a. wont wear out no  entropy

b. doesn't have to be the result of a process

Where  does that leave God? The kindest thing to say is that it leaves him  with nothing to do, and no achievements that might attract our praise,  our worship or our fear. Evolution is God's redundancy notice, his pink  slip. But we have to go further. A complex creative intelligence with  nothing to do is not just redundant. A divine designer is all but ruled  out by the consideration that he must at least as complex as the  entities he was wheeled out to explain. God is not dead. He was never  alive in the first place.

Of course I've already  demonstrated quotations above that show God would still have a lot to do  as the strong force, setting target levels for fine tuning. But of  course there's no reason to believe God needs to do anything. This  requires the notion  of a God of liberal theology. When confronted with  this reality Dawkins shows his true dishonestly. Dawkins seeks to head  off a liberal God concept but he just can't quite bring himself to face a  real one:

Now, there is a  certain class of sophisticated modern theologian who will say something  like this: "Good heavens, of course we are not so naive or simplistic as  to care whether God exists. Existence is such a 19th-century  preoccupation! It doesn't matter whether God exists in a scientific  sense. What matters is whether he exists for you or for me. If God is  real for you, who cares whether science has made him redundant? Such  arrogance! Such elitism."

That's a straw theologian  argument because no one says that. There are some who hinted at it in  the 60s God is dead movement, but there are plenty of modern theologians  still working and none of them really say this. Tillich certainly  didn't say it. Tillich says God is a concrete reality not just a wishful  thought in our minds. No theologian I know of says that. But plenty of  them say that is not a big man in the sky. But Dawkins is not brave  enough to take on those guys.

Well,  if that's what floats your canoe, you'll be paddling it up a very  lonely creek. The mainstream belief of the world's peoples is very  clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in  objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. 

 Yea  but that does not mean that it's subject to the laws of physics, which  He created, nor does it mean he's a big man in the sky either.

If  sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are  rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the  importance of existence, they should think again. Tell the congregation  of a church or mosque that existence is too vulgar an attribute to  fasten onto their God, and they will brand you an atheist. They'll be  right.

 Most of those churches don't  believe God is subject physical law or the product of evolution either.  Dawkin's arguemnts are convoluted, circular and dishonest he really  should be selling securities and making loans for mortgage company.


Richard posts an article:saturday setp 12, 20

article entitled:

"Richard Dawkins argues that evolution leaves God with nothing to do"

Before 1859 it would have seemed natural to agree with the Reverend  William Paley, in "Natural Theology," that the creation of life was  God's greatest work. Especially (vanity might add) human life. Today  we'd amend the statement: Evolution is the universe's greatest work.  Evolution is the creator of life, and life is arguably the most  surprising and most beautiful production that the laws of physics have  ever generated. Evolution, to quote a T-shirt sent me by an anonymous  well-wisher, is the greatest show on earth, the only game in town.

 Here we see the atheist willing to take the prescriptive side of physical law, whereas most of them time they will demand that physical law is only descriptive. Notice how Dawkins seems offer physical law and evolution almost as an er zots alternative to God. This is practically a liturgical statement one awaits the following hymns. Yet in taking the prescriptive view Dawkins leaves his view open to my God argument "Fire in the Equasions:


1) Naturalism assumes cause/effect.

2) c/a governed by laws of physics.

3) Laws of physics must have orgnaizing principal
4) Mind is the only example for organizing principal
5) An Organizing principal based upon Mind that creates  everything is called "God."


1) Naturalists assume necessity of naturlaistic cause and effect  (from empirical observation).

Dictonary of Philosphy Anthony Flew, article on "Materialism" "...the belief that everything that exists is ethier matter or entirely  dependent upon matter for its existence."   Center For Theology and the Natural Sciences Contributed by: Dr.  Christopher Southgate: God, Humanity and the Cosmos (T&T Clark,  1999) Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?(this source is already linked  above)    "...One of the fundamental assumptions of modern science is that every  physical event can be sufficiently explained solely in terms of  preceding physical causes.."      Science and The Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead. NY: free Press, 1925, (1953) p.76

"We are content with superficial orderings form diverse arbitrary  starting points. ... sciene which is employed in their deveopment  [modern thought] is based upon a philosophy which asserts that physical  casation is supreme, and which disjoins the physical cause from the  final end. It is not popular to dwell upon the absolute contradiction  here involved."[Whitehead was an atheist]  Cambridge Relativity and Quantum Gravity. 1996, University of Cambridge  The physical laws that govern the universe prescribe how an initial  state evolves with time. In classical physics, if the initial state of a  system is specified exactly then the subsequent motion will be  completely predictable.    

2) Therefore, if we agree with them, it is logical to assume  naturalistic cause and effect as background concition to the emergence  and/or production of the universe.

Dr. Sten  Odenwald (Raytheon STX) for the NASA IMAGE/POETRY Education and Public Outreach program

Q:Which came first, matter or physical laws?

"We do not know, but matter is derivative from energy, and energy is  derivative from 'field' so in some sense, the physical laws that  determine the quantum dynamics of fields must have been primary, with  matter as we know it coming much later."

3) Since physical laws would have to proceed matter/energy, they  would have to reside in some organizing principle (such as a mind?)  since they could not reside in the workings of universe that did not yet  exist.

This leads to a Dilemma:

a) Either the laws of physics are general law like  statements  demanding a law giver (law implies a law giver)

b) Or they are mere tendencies which mark conventional  frames of reference for our observations of the uiverse.

*If the former, than since all  products of the natural world require a cause, what causes the laws of  physics? It seems there must either be an infinite regress of causes for  physical laws, or a single organizing principle capable of directing  physical law; such as a mind?

*If the latter, than the skeptic loses  the lock on scientific rationality and with it, the basis upon which to  critique religious belief as “unscientific.” After all,  just because we  don’t notice regular tendencies toward supernatural effects does not  mean that they are impossible, if physical laws are nothing but mere  tendencies.
4)Major Physicists propose Unitive principle they call "God."

MetaList on  Scinece and religion

Stephen Hawking's God

In his best-selling book "A Brief History of Time", physicist Stephen  Hawking claimed that when physicists find the theory he and his  colleagues are looking for - a so-called "theory of everything" - then  they will have seen into "the mind of God". Hawking is by no means the  only scientist who has associated God with the laws of physics. Nobel  laureate Leon Lederman, for example, has made a link between God and a  subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson. Lederman has suggested that  when physicists find this particle in their accelerators it will be  like looking into the face of God. But what kind of God are these  physicists talking about? Theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg suggests that  in fact this is not much of a God at all. Weinberg notes that  traditionally the word "God" has meant "an interested personality". But  that is not what Hawking and Lederman mean. Their "god", he says, is  really just "an abstract principle of order and harmony", a set of  mathematical equations. Weinberg questions then why they use the word  "god" at all. He makes the rather profound point that "if language is to  be of any use to us, then we ought to try and preserve the meaning of  words, and 'god' historically has not meant the laws of nature." The  question of just what is "God" has taxed theologians for thousands of  years; what Weinberg reminds us is to be wary of glib definitions.

Ok These guys are not talking about the God of the Bible, but the fact  that they do resort to organizing principle proves my basic point. They  can't just leave the laws of phyiscs unexplained, they have to resort to  organizing principle that ties it all up in one neat package. But why  assume that principle can't be the personal God of the Bible? The rest  of this Website argues that it is. But the main point here is that it is  very logical to assume an organizing principle such a mind which  orgainizes and contians physical laws.But "which god" is dealt with  else where. at the very least this argument gives us a Spinza-like God.

5) Mind is best explanation for organizing  principal.

This principal would not dwell in any location, since it must proceed  the existence of all physical matter and objects. It cannot resides in  any location, or in the actions of a energy and matter, since it must  proceed them for them to come to be, or to exist. Mind is the only thing  that explians:

a. non physical location--no topos
b. Organizing function; organizing information and  sturctures. The major element of mind is organization and containment of  information. Like a genetic structure has to reside in genes, where  does an organizing pricipal for the universe reside? In a mind that  creates the universe?

6) A mind that contians physical law can be said to be creator and  thus God. Therefore,if we assume physical law there must be a  "lawgiver," therefore, God exists QED

Corollary:Science cannot Explain Laws of Physics

A. Cause of Physical Laws Unknown
1)Physical Law Merely Assumed to Exist.

OFFICE OF  DR. ROBERT C. KOONS   Post-Agnostic Science:How Physics Is RevivingThe Argument From Design

Robert C. Koons

Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Texas
Austin, TX 78712

"Some have objected that the anthropic coincidences cannot be explained,  since they involve the fundamental laws of nature. The laws of nature  are used in explaining other things -- they themselves cannot be  explained. They are rock-bottom, matters of physical necessity,  immutable and uncased. This objection is sometimes based on actual  scientific practice -- scientists seek to discover the laws of nature  and to use these laws in constructing explanations of phenomena. They do  not try to explain the laws of nature themselves. There are several points to make in response to this."

2) Skeptics object,  but Some scientist now Ask.

Paul Davies, Author of God and The New Physics, and The Mind  of God, skeptic turned believer due to the new evidence on design.  From First Things, Tempelton Award address:

"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 complexity itself to the point where conscious beings  emerge who can look back on the great cosmic drama and reflect on what  it all means."

"Now you may think I have written God entirely out of the picture. Who  needs a God when the laws of physics can do such a splendid job? But we  are bound to return to that burning question:
Where do the laws  of physics come from? And why those laws rather than some other  set? Most especially: Why a set of laws that drives the searing,  featureless gases coughed out of the big bang toward life and  consciousness and intelligence and cultural activities such as religion,  art, mathematics, and science?"
Koons, (Ibid.)  "...It is no longer true that scientists never seek to explain the laws  of nature. Much of recent cosmology and unified force theory has  attempted to do that. ...even if scientists never did attempt to explain  the fundamental laws, it would still be an open question whether they  should do so. Finally, whether something can or should be explained is  itself an empirical matter, to be decided on a case by case basis, and  not on the basis of dogmatic, a priori pronouncements. The anthropic  coincidences are themselves excellent evidence that the laws of nature  can and should be explained. If the laws really were absolute rock  bottom, inexplicable brute facts, then we would be faced with a set of  inexplicable coincidences. If the only price we have to pay in order to  explain these coincidences is to revise our beliefs about the  rock-bottom status of physical laws, this is a small price to pay."

B. How do Physical Laws  make a universe?
Stephen Barr

"The laws of physics are proposed by some, as brought out by Furgesson,  as constituting a "final cause" in place of God. This view is actually  suggestive of an inversion and can be turned around into an argument for  the exist of God. Barr states "The more serious problem with this idea  of laws of physics as necessary first cause is that it is based on an  elementary confusion. At most the laws of physics could be said to be  the 'formal cause' of the physical universe, whereas by first cause is  meant efficient cause, the cause of its very existence. Hawking himself  asked precisely the right question when he wrote 'even if there is only  one possible unified theory is it just a set of rules and equations?  What is it that breaths fire into the equations and makes a universe  for them to describe? The usual approach of science constituting a mathematical model cannot answer the question of why there should be a  universe for the model to describe.' That is decisive--crushing...." (in  First Things)

But Dawkins has more mistakes to make in his insistence upon a atheist straw man God. I'll follow that trajectory in part II...coming soon to a blog new you.

Ironically Dawkins makes a most telling statement:

Wouldn't we be tempted to fall on our knees and worship them, as a medieval peasant might if suddenly confronted with such miracles as a Boeing 747, a mobile telephone or Google Earth? But, however god-like the aliens might seem, they would not be gods, and for one very important reason. They did not create the universe; it created them, just as it created us. Making the universe is the one thing no intelligence, however superhuman, could do, because an intelligence is complex—statistically improbable —and therefore had to emerge, by gradual degrees, from simpler beginnings: from a lifeless universe—the miracle-free zone that is physics.

Of course he thinks he's making a comment on the primitive superstitious mind and how it turns ordinary things we understand into "supernatural." But the irony is this statement really tells us more about Dawkins and the atheist than about medieval peasants. Rather than describing the mind of primitive mind it is rather a window in the atheist mind and shows what they deify; themselves, their own control of nature, their gadgetry, what the assume "primitives" would worship that they so easy understand (making them the objects of worship). It also shows us their need of God. They have jacked down the glamor of the divine from an eternal mystery to something they think have a handle upon, laws of physics, but of course they can't really tell us anything about them. Where are they kept? what makes them happen? How can they exist before there is a universe to describe? The faint trace of mystery and thus of deity lingers in Dawkin's liturgical praise of his own interests.

 Atheists are fond of dismissing Atheist Watch (My "other" blog) as my own private hate fest. But the truth is I've been using it to construct a theory of atheist psychology. The major conclusion I've reached so far is that there is a calculated ideology that someone constructed (not to sound so mysterious--by "someone" I don't mean atheists "men in black" just the normal evolution of argument and the contributors to the same). One of the standard leavers of that ideological/propagandist approaches used in their movement is development of a standard for proof which enables them to constantly raise the bar so no amount of evidence or reasoning can ever count against their position. It's a rhetorical device not a rule of logic!

Carl Sagan made this statement popular in its current form, it was originally used by Hume, Laplace and other early theorists, but atheists have sense taken it as a major slogan for their decision-making paradigm.

Marcelo Truzzi tells us:

In his famous 1748 essay Of Miracles, the great skeptic David Hume asserted that "A wise man...proportions his belief to the evidence,"and he said of testimony for extraordinary claims that "the evidence, resulting from the testimony, admits of a diminution, greater or less, in proportion as the fact is more unusual." A similar statement was made by Laplace, and many other later writers. I turned it into the now popular phrase "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" (which Carl Sagan popularized into what is almost the war cry of some scoffers).

This slogan allows them to raise the bar for any Christian claim, while lowering it for their own purposes.  Ed J. Gracely explains the basic logic of the bromide.

First, it is important to understand that the strength of a conclusion is a function both of the quality of the evidence provided in its support and the a priori probability of the claim being supported. Thus there can never be a single standard of "acceptable evidence" that will suffice to render every claim equally plausible. Suppose, for example, that a reasonably reliable source tells me (a) that President Clinton has vetoed legislation that places restrictions on trade with China and (b) that Newt Gingrich has switched to the Democratic party. Most people would be much more confident of the truth of the first report than of the second, even though the source is identical. The difference lies in the a priori plausibility of the claims.

A more precise formulation requires us to cast the a priori probability of a claim into the form of "odds" in its favor. A proposition with 90% probability of being true has 90 chances of being true for every 10 of being false. Thus the odds are 90 to 10, which reduces to 9 to 1. A proposition with 20% probability of being true has 20 chances of being true for 80 of being false. The odds (in its favor) are 20 to 80 or 0.25 to 1. It is more natural to translate the latter case into odds of 4 to 1 against the proposition, but the calculations require us to work with odds "in favor of" a proposition, even if they are fractional. Pieces of evidence alter the odds in favor of a proposition by a multiplicative factor in proportion to the quality of the evidence.

While it is clear that not all evidence weighs the same, some evidence is better than other evidence, nothing in this explanation indicates why evidence must be stronger for “extraordinary claims” than for “normal claims.” Assuming we can even indicate what “extraordinary evidence” is, what makes it more proven than “ordinary” evidence? The statement above merely indicates that probability is higher for a proposition backed by more direct evidence, nothing more. The rationale says that the least likely proposition is less probable, then the assertion that the evidence must be more “extraordinary” (whatever that means) rather than just accurate or valid or to the point is not demonstrated. Most assumptions about what makes evidence “extraordinary” or “ordinary,” or a proposition likely or unlikely is going to be largely a matter of prejudice. Consider the following statement, also by Gracely:

The principle is clear; the difficulty lies in the application. How likely, for example, is it that homeopathy or therapeutic touch really work? Proponents argue that we need to open our minds to new possibilities and grant these systems a fairly high a priori probability (say, 50-50 odds). Then, even modest-quality evidence would make the claims quite probably true. Skeptics argue that these systems violate known laws of physics and their validity should therefore be considered remotely improbable.

Who decides how likely it is that homeopathy is valid or invalid medicine? One would need a statical average for cure rates to compare with controlled group using orthodox practices to see this. He admits that “modest quality” evidence would be proof if it is granted a high probability. Without the proper studies why not so grant? What if one has found such treatments effective already in one’s own life? This is nothing more than prejudice to judge something improbable on the basis of guesswork and matters of taste. No that does not mean that believe those forms of healing. Why shouldn’t a standard of evidence adequate for proof of the issue under consideration, be the issue? I have so far been unable to find an atheist who can tell me what extraordinary God evidence is. I’ve seen attempts on message boards, where they argue absurdities like “why can’t God make all the stars spell out the phrase “burn pain is the worst pain, Jesus is Lord, convert now.” Or God could appear at the UN and hold a press conference. I have yet to see an atheist give me a valid option for “extraordinary evidence.” More importantly, we are talking about God, not about finding Bigfoot. God is off scale for empirical investigation. How can the basis of reality be studied as though just another “thing” in creation? What could be used as a basis of comparison? How could one ever establish a base line comparison to determine probability of God? Dawkins tries it but he merely assumes God would be on a par with any other physical object.  What basis is used to establish the probability of something that is said to be beyond our understanding?

Gracely argues:

An alternative I have heard suggested is to drop the extraordinary proof argument and instead to hold paranormal and alternative medicine claims strictly to the ordinary requirements of replicability and good research. This approach sounds sensible but it has a serious flaw. Skeptics are not willing to accept the plausibility of most paranormal claims unless the evidence is extremely strong. We risk being perceived (correctly) as disingenuous if we call for solid quality research, then revert to the extraordinary claims argument should it in fact appear.(Ibid)

Correction, most skeptics are never willing to grant anything to para normal claims regardless of the evidence, this is obvious to anyone who has ever argued with atheists on message boards. I have 200 studies with replicablity, double blind, proved comparison methods, published in scholarly journals, peer reviewed and indexed, and the atheists on CARM treat them like comic books. The only reason they nit pick to death (ploys such as once attacking the bibliography becuase it had a source they didn't like rather than looking at the studies themselves) is becasue the studies contradict their world view.
This standard (normal scientific protocols) is the one I have been proposing for years. The term he doesn’t use, the proper term for “ordinary” level of proof would be a “prima facie case.” He may have a point if we are talking about acupuncture or UFOs but the flaw he sees in it is attitudinal, not logical or methodological. The attitude of skeptics is out of line anyway. Atheists are not willing to accept any level of evidence. The experience studies are fine studies, they are scientific and a huge body of work backs them up. For all practical purposes, they are “extraordinary evidence.” Let us not forget there is no set standard any skeptic can offer to define that term. Skeptics are quick to brush aside the experience studies as “subjective” without reading the studies or thinking about the arguments. They never define what “extraordinary” evidence would be. Gracely observes that skeptical attitudes are similar even in other areas:

In some areas of paranormal investigation, such as extrasensory perception (ESP), the research is already often better done than much orthodox scientific research, with controls and double-checks most scientists would regard as overkill. Skeptics mostly still feel that the intrinsic implausibility is so great that nothing short of airtight and well-repeated research would be sufficient to support ESP. Little or none of the existing research rises to that level, so we remain skeptical. (Some recent work has been of high quality, see Ray Hyman's article, "The Evidence for Psychic Functioning: Claims vs. Reality", in the March/April 1996 Skeptical Inquirer, pp 24-26.) Had skeptics said some 40 years ago that all we wanted was reasonable quality replicated research, we might now be having to eat our words.

Skeptics are never satisfied. I have seen this problem over and over again. When their demands for evidence are met, they just raise the bar again and again. The tyranny of  “extraordinary evidence” so long as one never defines it, allows for this sort of abuse all the time. More importantly, why should God be subjected to the same standards of proof as empirical objects? Here the skeptic is just in the position of arguing “God is improbable because I don’t believe in him.”  Truzzi documents the “catch 22” designed into the extraordinary proof standard:

But it is important to remember that the proponent of the paranormal has an uphill battle from the start. The chips are stacked against him, so his assault is not so threatening to the fabric of science as scoffers often characterize it. In a sense, conservative science has "the law" on its side.
In law, we find three varieties in the weight of burden of proof:
1. proof by preponderance of evidence,
2. clear and convincing proof, and, in criminal law,
3. proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
In conventional science, we usually use (1), but when dealing with extraordinary claims, critics often seem to demand (3) since they demand all alternative explanations must be eliminated before the maverick claim is acceptable. This demand sometimes becomes unreasonable and may even make the scoffer's position unfalsifiable. Since the anomaly proponent is already saddled with a presumption of "guilt," it would seem to me that (2), clear and convincing proof, might be the best standard, though proponents may reasonably wonder why standard (1) should always be denied them.(Ibid)

The poly just described is SOP for atheists on message boards. Since every alternative, however unlikely, must be exhausted first, they will put a 0.2% probability claim over a 50-50 claim any time just because the alternatives must be exhausted and that means nothing ever has to be granted to belief. In this way all other forms of knowledge bu the pseudo science of the atheist ideology is rejected, thus the ideology of the atheist and its propaganda protocols become like a template.This serves to reinforce the ideology because all anyone need do is compare the God argument to the template, or course it wont fit, it is then judged "unscientific" (becasue the template has come to replace real scientific procedure in the mind of the atheist) and thus all belief is always wrong!

But we must also keep in mind that God is not “paranormal.” Truzzi and Gracely are speaking in general of any sort of “paranormal” claim, including the claims of alternative medicine. God is not paranormal, but is status quo, normative for human belief. Nor is God a scientific question. It is absurd to expect us to limit evidence to only the scientific when the question about belief is epistemological. More on this aspect of belief and it is import for evidential standards below. But this does raise a further question about the extraordinary evidential standard:

In addition to defining the term “extraordinary evidence” there is also a need to define the term “extraordinary claim.” Why is God an extraordinary claim?  Here the atheist is truly in the position of arguing “God is improbable because I don’t believe in him.” Atheists make up 3% of the world’s population at best.  The overwhelming majorities of people alive today, or who have ever lived, believe in some form of God. Our brains are hard wired to have thoughts of God. Our physical and mental health work better when we believe in God (as will be seen in latter chapters). Obviously we are fit for belief, why would belief be extraordinary? Why should we allow the minor little 3% minority to define what is normative for humanity? Belief in God is  far more than just the average belief; it is normative as a standard of human understanding. It forms the basis of our psyches, it forms the basis of our legal system; it is the chief metaphor regulating meaning and morality. Belief in God illustrates all the aspects of a prima facie case. This is at least so for RE. Marcelo Truzzi makes the same point:

The central problem however lies in the fact that "extraordinary" must be relative to some things "ordinary." and as our theories change, what was once extraordinary may become ordinary (best seen in now accepted quantum effects that earlier were viewed as "impossible"). Many now extraordinary claims may become more acceptable not when they are replicated but when theoretical contexts change to make them more welcome.(Ibid)

Of course what he's actually talking about is Thomas Kuhn's paradigm shift. Trussi doesn't say it but what he described is basically that, the way anomalies are absorbed into the paradigm and dismissed as unimportant until there are too many and they are too problematic, the paradigm shifts under it's own weight and the new paradigm is taken in; the anomalies under the old become the "facts" under the new. Kuhn says that a paradigm is defended just like a political regime. When it first starts to show signs of are its followers do damage control just like the Nixon White house under Watergate or the Reagan White house under Iran/contra gate, or Bush under the lies about WMD. In a sense a paradigm in scinece is propped up by an ideology that is driven by that paradigm. In quasi scientific mimicry of atheism which flatters itself as scientific, the paradigm of "physicalism" is surrounded by the ideology of atheists that protects it. ECREE is just a propaganda device that enables the ideology to knock off any counter claims.

Skeptics have argued that religious experience is not regular or consistent because such experiences are all different. Not only do you have so many different religions, but also even from mystic to mystic things differ. Over the years as one develops a disciplined life of prayer, one does encounter growing diversity and newness, but a certain sense of the familiar as well. Experiences become regular and consistent in that the presence of God is usually found in prayer, the sense of the presence is always the of the same quality (although varying intensity) and the sense of God can become familiar enough that it is always recognized as the same, This sense of the familiar is communicable and can be recognized form one believer to another. The mystical and devotional literature presents a kind of ordered sameness. One can read accounts as different form one experiencer to another as those between St. Augustine and A.W. Tozer and still find passages that seem to be talking about the same things. This is amplified times millions of believers in the history of the church who have experienced the same things. Even though there is diversification and difference there is still sameness. This is not even confined to mystics. The same can be said of conversion accounts that the same aspects keep popping up. Once can recognize the work of God from one person to another, form one time to the next, from one culture to all cultures. But, the skeptic will ask, what about the vast array of different religions? These differences are due to cultural constructs. One experiences God beyond words, and when one tries to speak of such experiences one must encode them in a symbolic universe, that is to say, in culture. These differences in symbolic universes over time have spelled out the differences in the many religions. But there is a cretin unity even between all the differences in religion. The data presented long term effects of religious experience (see articles on RE in this blog) represents typologies, which can be used to compare "peak experience" with that of other phenomena. The Peak experiencers can be grouped together into a collection of those who have experiences X. They are not isolated assortments of differing phenomena. These studies do represent differing cultures and times. Thus, religious experience has a consistency to it even between cultures.

Archetypal symbology universal.

Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences. Abraham H. Maslow
Appendix I. An Example of B-Analysis

"...Jungian archetypes which can be recovered in several ways. I have managed to get it in good introspects 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 of the 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.

Archetypal Symbology linked to Peak experience.

The link from Archetypes to religious experience is supplied by Maslow as well, in a quotation already sited in Religious Experience Arguments. He argues that the ability to relate "B knowledge" to "C knowledge" where the female (Or the male) is balanced in the perception of the other between goddess and whore, and the proper ego relation is sorted out, is the managing of the sacred and profane. He points out that anyone can learn to see in this manner and that it is indicative of primitive people in their religious experiences as they explained the world through the sense of the numinous.
d) Anyone can have peck experience --universal to humanity

Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Abraham H. Maslow
Appendix D. What is the Validity of Knowledge Gained in Peak-Experiences?
"To summarize, the major changes in the status of the problem of the validity of B-knowledge, or illumination-knowledge, are: (A) shifting it away from the question of the reality of angels, etc., i.e., naturalizing the question; (B) affirming experientially valid knowledge, the intrinsic validity of the enlarging of consciousness, i.e., of a wider range of experiencing; (C) realizing that the knowledge revealed was there all the time, ready to be perceived, if only the perceiver were "up to it," ready for it. This is a change in perspicuity, in the efficiency of the perceiver, in his spectacles, so to speak, not a change in the nature of reality or the invention of a new piece of reality which wasn't there before. The word "psychedelic" (consciousness-expanding) may be used here. Finally, (D) this kind of knowledge can be achieved in other ways; we need not rely solely on peak-experiences or peak-producing drugs for its attainment. There are more sober and laborious—and perhaps, therefore, better in some ways in the long run—avenues to achieving transcendent knowledge (B-knowledge). That is, I think we shall handle the problem better if we stress ontology and epistemology rather than the triggers and the stimuli."

2) Why Does God seem Hidden to SO many people?
a) God is not strictly speaking "invisable."

According to Hartshorne, "[o]nly God can be so universally important that no subject can ever wholly fail or ever have failed to be aware of him (in however dim or unreflective fashion)." Now the issue of why God doesn't hold a "press conference" has do do with the fact that God does not communicate by violating normal causal principles. In process terms, the "communication" of God must be understood as the prehension of God by human beings. A "prehension" is the response of an occasion to the entire past world (both the contiguous past and the remote past.) As God is in every occasion's past actual world, every occasion must "prehend" or take account of God.

It should be noted that "prehension" is a generic mode of perception that does not necessarily entail consciousness or sensory experience. In previous postings I explained that there a two modes of pure perception --"perception in the mode of causal efficacy" and "perception in the mode of presentational immediacy." If God is present to us, then it is in the presensory perceptual mode of causal efficacy as opposed to the sensory and conscious perceptual mode of presentational immediacy. That is why God is "invisible", i.e. invisible to sense perception. The foundation for experience of God lies in the nonsesnory nonconscious mode of prehension. So now, there is the further question: Why is there variability in our experience of God?. Or, why are some of us atheists, pantheists, theists, etc.? Every prehension has an initial datum derived from God, yet there are a multiplicity of ways in which this datum is prehended from diverse perspectives.

I agreed with Hume that sense perception tells us nothing about efficient causation (or final causation for that matter). Hume was actually presupposing causal efficacy in his attempt to deny it (i.e., in his relating of sense impressions to awareness). Causation could be described as an element of experience, but as Whitehead explains, this experience is not sensory experience. From Hume's own analysis Whitehead derives at least two forms of nonsensory perception: the perception of our own body and the nonsensory perception of one's past.
b). Atheists basically deny the validity of religious experience because they assume that all perception is sense perception.

Or, they deny sense perception to theists when they actually presuppose it themselves (Hume is a case in point).
c) All people experience the reality of God or the "Holy" all the time.

But this is at an unconscious level. However, in some people, this direct prehension of the "Holy" rises to the level of conscious experience. We generally call theses people "mystics". Now, the reason why a few people are conscious of God is not the result of God violating causal principle; some people are just able to conform to God's initial datum in greater degree than other people can. I don't think that God chooses to make himself consciously known to some and not to others. That would make God an elitist. Now, the question as to why I am a theist as opposed to an atheist does not have to do with me experiencing some exceptional religious or mystical experience. Rather, I believe that these extraordinary experiences of the great religious leaders are genuine and that they do conform to the ultimate nature of things. It's not necessarily a "blind leap" of faith, as my religious beliefs are accepted, in part, on the basis of whether or not they illuminate my experience of reality.

The upshot of all of this is religious belief is normative for human behavior. It is not merely "normal" but "normative" meaning it sets the standard. Belief is basic to human psyche, to our understanding of the good, of meaning in life, the ultiamte limits of reality, the grounding of nature and being itself, there is no way belie in God can be thought of as  an extraordinary claim! We might think of it as extraordinary in the the sense of being unique, like no other claim, but in that case it makes no sense to subject it to the regular canons of science as though God's presence is given in daily empirical data. Obviously the more intelligent evidential standard is that the evidence has to be fit for the claim. Fit, not dazzling, not impossible, not amazing, no beyond our ability to produce, but it has to fit the case. It has to be rational, and able to stand a prima facie burden, and it has to fit the proof attempted.

Thus the atheist ploy has achieved a standard where all other forms of evidence save scientific data, why they blithely refer to as "facts," can be used to bolster certain shallow claims of "proof" for a straw man world view that is quasi scientific and supposedly an alternative to religious belief while denigrating all other forms of knowledge (including scinece that doesn't agree with them) save the selective list of "facts" deemed pertinent to their case. The effect being that civilization take one more hit as all forms of thinking and knowledge are eliminated save this one, a quasi-scientific approach to knowledge which is ideological in both tone and function.


Marcelo Truzzi “on some unfair practices toward claims of the Paranormal.” This article was published in slightly edited form in:Edward Binkowski, editor, Oxymoron: Annual Thematic Anthology of the Arts and Sciences, Vol.2: The Fringe, New York: Oxymoron Media, Inc., 1998. It is also found on the website Skeptical Investigations: visited 7/7/08

Ed J. Gracely ”Why Extraordinary Claims Demand Extraordinary Proof. This article first appeared in the December 1998 issue of Phactum, the newsletter of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking (PhACT). Dr. Gracely is Associate Professor of Community and Preventive Medicine at the MCP*Hahnemann School of Medicine in Philadelphia. This article was posted on July 24, 2003. It is now found on:Quackwatch

Abraham MaslowReligious Values and peak Experience,
text online:

url for my RE argument:

Doherty compiles the different understandings of the early church in its attempts to come to terms with what the events of Jesus life and death meant, and plugs into them Gnostic interpretations and uses the fact of theology itself to imply that the church didn't have the story of the cross and the tomb when it began.

Between these two poles lie other incongruent conceptions. In the earliest layer of the Gospel of John, Jesus is the mythical Descending-Ascending Redeemer from heaven who saves by being God's Revealer; later he is equated with the Greek Logos. Jesus is the heavenly High Priest of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the non-suffering intermediary servant of the Didache, the mystical Wisdom-Messiah of the Odes of Solomon. Paul hints at divergent groups in places like Corinth who "preach another Jesus." In the diverse strands of Gnosticism Jesus (or Christ) is a mythical part of the heavenly pleroma of Godhead, sometimes a revealer akin to John's, sometimes surfacing under other names like Derdekeas or the Third Illuminator. (The Gnostic Jesus eventually interacted with more orthodox ideas and absorbed the new historical figure into itself.) But all this out of a crucified criminal? Out of any human man?
As we have already seen, the use of Logos is not  just an imported Greek concept, it also functions as a loan word to express a Hebrew concept. it does not link Jesus to Gnosticism or mystery cults or to Philo, it links him solidly to Jewish understanding of who the Messiah was in second temple Judaism. The church's understanding of Jesus did grow overtime, it is still growing. That in no way means that Jesus didn't live on earth or that the story of Jesus is fiction invented because the group had a lack luster history. People understand ideas about God in different ways, it only makes sense that the church would have a plethora of understandings about Jesus, some of these were perversions of the truth, some are harmonious with each other. Jesus can be logos and high priest at the same time. Some are derived from the canonical Gospels. The high priest of Hebrews is not a contradiction to the logos of John. The basis for all of these views, Christ, redeemer, high priest, were all present at Qumran and all part of the understanding that developed in heterodox Judaism of their messianic expectations. All of these concepts, in some basic form would have been in place and implied in any association with Messiah. These concepts were already set up and waiting for a candidate when Jesus came along to be baptized by John. They did not need to come from the Gnostics or the Greeks, they were very Jewish.

We find this in material at Qumran

Florentino Garcia Martinez

Florentino Garcia Martinez is professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, where he heads the Qumran Institute. This chapter is reprinted from The People of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. Florentino Garcia Martinez and Julio Trebolle Barrera (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1995).

Section 1:

"In spite of that, the general lines of the text are clear enough to assure us that in Qumran interpretation, Jacob's blessing of Judah was seen as a promise of the restoration of the Davidic monarchy and of the perpetuity of his royal office. And since the future representative of the dynasty is identified not only as the shoot of David, but also explicitly as the "true anointed," there remains no doubt about the "messianic" tone of the text. Unfortunately, the details which the text provides about this "Messiah" are not many."

section 5
"... However, a recently published text enables us to glimpse an independent development of the hope in the coming of the "priestly Messiah" as an agent of salvation at the end of times."

"It is an Aramaic text, one of the copies of the Testament of Levi, recently published by E. Puech,32 which contains interesting parallels to chapter 19 of the Greek Testament of Levi included in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs. From what can be deduced from the remains preserved, the protagonist of the work (probably the patriarch Levi, although it cannot be completely excluded that it is Jacob speaking to Levi) speaks to his descendants in a series of exhortations. He also relates to them some of the visions which have been revealed to him. In one of them, he tells them of the coming of a mysterious person. Although the text is hopelessly fragmentary it is of special interest since it seems to evoke the figure of a "priestly Messiah." This "Messiah" is described with the features of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, as J. Starcky indicated in his first description of the manuscript.33 The two longest and most important fragments of this new text can be translated as follows:

2.1 4Q541 frag. 9 col. I

1 [. . .] the sons of the generation [. . .] 2 [. . .] his wisdom. And he will atone for all the children of his generation, and he will be sent to all the children of 3 his people. His word is like the word of the heavens, and his teaching, according to the will of God. His eternal sun will shine 4 and his fire will burn in all the ends of the earth; above the darkness his sun will shine. Then, darkness will vanish 5 from the earth, and gloom from the globe. They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of 6 lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him. His generation will change the evil, 7 and [. . .] established in deceit and in violence. The people will go astray in his days and they will be bewildered (DSST, 270).

.... The priestly character of this figure is indicated expressly by his atoning character: "And he will atone for all the children of his generation...."

The agreement of the person thus described with the "Messiah-priest" described in chapter 18 of the Greek Testament of Levi is surprising.34 At least it shows us that the presence of this priestly figure in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs should not simply be ascribed to interpolations or Christian influence. Rather, it is a development which exists already within Judaism. This text also shows us that the portrayal of this "Messiah-priest" with the features of the "Suffering Servant" of Deutero-Isaiah is not an innovation of purely Christian origin either, but the result of previous developments. Our text stresses that although he would be sent "to all the sons of his people," the opposition to this figure, "light of the nations" (Isaiah 42:6) would be great: "They will utter many words against him, and an abundance of lies; they will fabricate fables against him, and utter every kind of disparagement against him" (compare Isaiah 50:6&endash;8; 53:2&endash;10). What is more, according to the editor, it cannot be excluded that the Aramaic text even contained the idea of the violent death of this "Messiah-priest." In other words, this opposition would reach its ultimate outcome as in Isaiah 53. His argument comes from the other fairly extensive fragment of the work, in which possible allusions to a violent death by crucifixion are found. However, to me this interpretation seems problematic. The fragment in question can be translated as follows:

2.2 4Q541 frag. 24 col. II 2 Do not mourn for him [. . .] and do not [. . .] 3 And God will notice the failings [. . .] the uncovered failings [. . .] 4 Examine, ask and know what the dove has asked; do not punish one weakened because of exhaustion and from being uncertain a [ll . . .] 5 do not bring the nail near him. And you will establish for your father a name of joy, and for your brothers you will make a tested foundation rise. 6 You will see it and rejoice in eternal light. And you will not be of the enemy. Blank 7 Blank (DSST, 270).

... Whatever might be the possible allusion to the death of the expected "Messiah-priest," the identification of this figure with the "Servant" of Isaiah seems confirmed by the parallels indicated in fragment 9. In any case, the idea that the eventual death of the "Messiah-priest" could have an atoning role, as Christian tradition attributes to the death of the "Servant," is excluded from our text since the atonement he achieves (frag. 9 II 2) remains in the perspective of the cult.

As far as I know, this is the only text which in the preserved sections deals with the priestly "Messiah" alone. However, many other texts refer to this figure when speaking of a two-fold messianism. This is the two-headed messianism in which we are presented with the "Davidic or royal Messiah" and the "levitical or priestly Messiah" together. They are called the "Messiahs of Israel and of Aaron" respectively."
Martinez urges scholarly caution as the scrolls are very fragmentary, there is no guarantee they do not contain references to other Messianic figures as well, and the notion of a crucifixion for the priestly Messiah is doubtful for several reasons, pertaining to the nature of the text--but his overall opinion seems to be that the concept of a Priestly Messiah on the order of the suffering servant is vindicated

Qumran text, 4Q521

Hebrew Scholars Michael Wise and James Tabor wrote an article that appeared in Biblical Archaeology Review (Nov./Dec. 1992) analyzing 4Q521:
"Our Qumran text, 4Q521, is, astonishingly, quite close to this Christian concept of the Messiah. Our text speaks not only of a single Messianic figure, but it also describes him in extremely exalted terms, quite like the Christian view of Jesus as a cosmic agent. That there was, in fact, an expectation of a single Messianic figure at Qumran is really not so surprising. A reexamination of the Qumran literature on this subject leads one to question the two Messiah theory. As a matter of fact, only once in any Dead Sea Scroll text is the idea of two Messiahs stated unambiguously.


"There is no doubt that the Qumran community had faith in the ultimate victory of such a Messiah over all evil. However, a closer reading of these texts reveals an additional theme, equally dominant-that of an initial, though temporary, triumph of wicked over righteousness. That is, there was the belief among the Qumran community that the Messiah would suffer initial defeat, but that he would ultimately triumph in the end of days."
Doherty is magnifying obscurities and making more than he should out of matters best left to experts. He commits murder to the text by trying to pretend that the high Priest of Hebrews is not a flesh and blood character or that this in any way means Jesus didn't have a flesh and blood life on earth when the text says explicitly he did. Here he is trying to load his pagan connections into the base of all abstract reasoning about the nature of Christ in connection to Jesus. It is true that early Christianity was diverse, and that proto Gnostic sects were forming as early as the 50's, which  Paul addresses are Corinth. None of that proves in the least that Jesus didn't exist in history or that the original Christian position did not embrace the cross, the tomb, and soterological effects of both. Odes of Solomon Doherty cannot prove are about Jesus anyway. So what if there were erroneous ideas forming? He tries to sum up his position:
A more sensible solution would be that all these expressions of the idea of "Jesus" and "Christ" were separate distillations out of the concepts that were flowing in the religious currents of the day (as outlined in Part Two). Scholars now admit that "the beginnings of Christianity were exceptionally diverse, varied dramatically from region to region, and were dominated by individuals and groups whose practice and theology would be denounced as 'heretical'. " (Ron Cameron summarizing Walter Bauer, The Future of Early Christianity, p.381.) It is no longer possible to maintain that such diversity—so much of it uncoordinated and competitive—exploded overnight out of one humble Jewish preacher and a single missionary movement.
The beginnings were diverse alright, that in no way means that there wasn't a Jesus. Doherty's solution is absurd and requires reversing both history and mythology. It makes more sense to understand the developmental history of Christ as the development of the churches understanding and it's story telling ability rather than to see Jesus as a fictional character. The church struggled with the meaning of the events in Jesus' life, his death, his resurrection. It struggled with questions of group identity, and it struggled to find a form in which to reflect Jesus' teachings and his story. None of this in any way implies that the story wasn't based upon real events that center on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Promised Messiah. Doherty is basically ignorant of the second temple Judaism and messianic expectations. He doesn't seem to understand that "Christ" was the Greek term the Jews used to say "Messiah" not a connection to pagan wisdom traditions.

At the center of this controversy is the question about the nature of the early tradition. I have shown the following points which I think demonstrate the futile nature of Doherty's fantasies.

(1) The Gospels are said to have been so unauthoritative that they were not quoted until way after the Apostolic fathers.
Answer: Just not true, I demonstrate hundreds of quotations from Ignatius, 1 Clement, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, and Paul.

(2) Paul is said to not quote the Gospels or mention the cross or the tomb

Answer: Just not true; my chart shows that he quotes them many times. Helmutt Koester theorizes that Paul had a saying source, perhaps even Q itself.

(3) three major sources are said to prove an ancient tradition lacking the cross and the tomb; Q, GThom, and E 2.

Answer: Q must lack these elements as part of the definition of itself. Q is the material not shared by all three synoptics and these elements are in all four gospels. Moreover, I show the PMR includes these elements and pushes them back to AD 50, which is just as old as the three non canonical sources mentioned. Thomas is not a single unified source but three different source in Greek and one in Coptic all heavily redacted. There are indications of violence to Jesus in E 2 indicating that perhaps the cross and the tomb were purged from the sources by Gnostic groups.

(4) The development of Q is said to have demonstrated the need to reinvent the history of the group and this is marked by the third state of Q development.

Answer: No real basis in history is shown for such a group. Koester warns of drawing such a conclusion about Galilean Hellenists. The whole point of putting it in Galilee would be just so that would tally with Jesus supposed historical origins. The leadership crisis of the group is as fictional as the group itself. The Q source could easily have been a systemic collection of Jesus ethical teachings, perhaps one that was started before he even died. The narrative action was told in oral tradition and the ethical teachings passed on by remembering his sayings; a historical Jesus would also be a member of a group (presumably John's) or at least "around" the group. John's death would certainly precipitate a leadership crisis it would only be natural to turn to Jesus as the new leader. Of course they would see Jesus as greater because even John said he was greater.

Doherty doesn't seem to understand the nature of theology. He's rife with misconceptions about Christianity that involve understanding the most extreme forms of inerrancy and obscurantism as Orthodoxy. The fact is the early church had the elements of the Jesus story as we know them. They did not know that all that they implies. The Church had to come to terms with the theological significance of the events, and it had to learn how to communicate that in written form and all of this took time. IT is this process of understanding that Doherty tries to pawn off as fictional development, or as invention of the story over time. He cannot square this thesis with either the facts or the authorities he quotes for support.

CT Direct has published an article entitled The End of Religious Freedom concerning the case of Christian Legal Society v. Leo Martinez presently pending in the United States Supreme Court. The case concerns the refusal of Hastings College of Law to grant recognition to the local chapter of the Christian Legal Society (CLS) as an active organization on the grounds of Hastings Law School. The denial of recognition keeps the local chapter of the CLS from receiving any funding through the law school or from using its facilities.

Why would this notoriously liberal law school located in ultra-liberal San Francisco take this action? Of course, it has to do with the belief widely held among liberals that Christianity is bigoted for taking a stand based on moral principles (specifically, Biblical principles) against homosexual marriage. As described in Religion and Ethics Newsweekly's news article on the case (hereinafter, the R&E Newsletter):

The chapter at Hastings opens its meetings to all students, but members are asked to sign the Christian Legal Society statement of faith: “Trusting in Jesus Christ as my Savior, I believe in: One God, eternally existent in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” If you don’t sign the statement of faith, you cannot vote or hold office.

Members must also accept the society’s sexual morality standards, which state that any “sexually immoral lifestyle” is grounds for disqualification, including “all acts of sexual conduct outside of God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman.” That was enough for Dean Martinez to deny the Christian Legal Society official law school recognition.

The position adopted by the school is pretty straight-forward: as a public institution, the school cannot abide any group that it views as engaging in discrimination to receive support from the school in the form of recognition. As Dean Martinez says in the R&E Newsletter:

We are a public institution. When we admit students, we tell them we will admit you regardless of your beliefs, regardless of your race, regardless of whether you’re striped or not, and I think part of our promise when they come here is that they are allowed to share in the full educational experience of Hastings, and I think it’s a terrible thing that we would have to do to say, “Yes, we will admit you. Oh, but by the way there are certain groups where you’re not welcome.” And to the extent we’re a public institution and we’re using public money to fund our student groups, I think we simply can’t do that.

Of course, we can all relate to the concerns of Hastings. If you allow discriminatory groups onto campus, then what's to stop the Ku Klux Klan from forming a group that excludes blacks? But there's a problem with Hastings' position in that if carried to its logical extreme it will lead to the end of the Freedom of Association. A nice summary of the Freedom of Association (a right found in the Bill of Rights) is found in which describes the Freedom of Association as:

The freedom of individuals to associate as an end in itself or with a view to pursuing common projects, e.g. through churches, trade unions, political parties, and sporting clubs. Freedom of association is widely seen by liberal political philosophers as a core personal liberty, warranting strict protection by the state, though the exact contours of the freedom, and how it is appropriately balanced against other values, are a matter of considerable and continuing dispute.

The CT Article that I began with points out that if Hastings' ban of the CLS is upheld then the only way that the CLS can stay on campus is to open up its membership to people who disagree with their Biblically-inspired position on homosexual marriage. That would destroy the CLS group as a group that is devoted to particular principles. The CT Article notes Hastings position, and in doing so makes it clear how this would be true:

The school said student group leadership positions must be open to all students—even to those who would seek such positions precisely in order to destroy the purpose of the group.

In other words, if the CLS Hastings Chapter has to allow anyone to join their group, even people who do not agree with the CLS position on homosexual marriage, then any number of gay activists (or simply pro-homosexual marriage students at Hastings) could join the group not for the purpose of being members of the CLS, but to subvert its purpose. This would destroy the Freedom of Association guaranteed by the First Amendment.

And it is not only the CLS or other Christian groups whose core freedom of association is put at risk: everyone's freedom of association is put at risk. A homosexual rights groups on campus could find its purpose subverted by a group of people who oppose gay marriage taking over the group and subverting its purpose.

Am I dreaming? Am I thinking of nightmare scenarios that are out of the question? Not according to Dean Martinez who makes a rather revealing exchange in the R&S newsletter:

O’BRIEN: Would a student chapter of, say, B’nai B’rith, a Jewish Anti-Defamation League, have to admit Muslims?

MARTINEZ: The short answer is yes.

O’BRIEN: A black group would have to admit white supremacists?

MARTINEZ: It would.

O’BRIEN: Even if it means a black student organization is going to have to admit members of the Ku Klux Klan?


O’BRIEN: You can see where that might cause some consternation?

MARTINEZ: Well, there’s a Spanish saying to the effect that “the thinnest of tortillas still has two sides,” and the other side of that is that with any other regime we would be forced, using public money, to subsidize the discriminatory practices of a particular group.

Thankfully, the present state of the law is against Hastings. As accurately noted (for a change) in Wikipedia:

[I]n Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston, 515 U.S. 557 (1995), the Court ruled that a group may exclude people from membership if their presence would affect the group's ability to advocate a particular point of view. Likewise, in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640 (2000), the Supreme Court ruled that a New Jersey law, which forced the Boy Scouts of America to admit an openly gay member, to be an unconstitutional abridgment of the Boy Scouts' right to free association.

I expect that Hasting will (thankfully) lose this case. And thank God that it will. The larger issue of Freedom of Association is much too important to be sacrificed in the name of Hastings' short-sighted, anti-Christian position.

Finally, Doherty brings up the lack of suffering in Q sayings:

But the most telling feature of the Q Jesus has proven to be the most perplexing, for he seems to bear no relationship to Paul's. Scholars continue to puzzle over the fact that Q contains no concept of a suffering Jesus, a divinity who has undergone death and resurrection as a redeeming act. Q can make the killing of the prophets a central theme (e.g., Luke 11:49-51) and yet never refer to Jesus' own crucifixion! Its parables contain no hint of the murder of the Son of God.

Yet it is not sure that Q doesn't refer to Jesus' suffering or death. Suffering and death are implied all over Q as David Seely ("Jesus Death in Q") tells us (see page 4). Death is frame by cynical view point that reflects the current events through the lives of the prophets of the past. That would be a good reason why the Q saying source does not refer one.

(Doherty goes on) "About the resurrection, Q breathes not a whisper. Jesus makes no prophecies of his own death and rising, as he does in other parts of the Gospels. Note that in a Q passage in Luke 17, the evangelist has to insert into Jesus' mouth a prophecy of his own death (verse 25); it is not in Matthew's use of the same passage" (24:23f).

Of course these scholars make an arbitrary assumption that the saying is placed in Jesus' mouth just Matt didn't use it. The idea that there is no resurrection in Q is not in line with the view of James M. Robinson, who is certainly a much more renown Q scholar than is Doherty:

The Real Jesus of the Sayings "Q" Gospel

by James M. Robinson

James M. Robinson is the Arthur J. Letts Professor of Religion and Director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity at the Claremont Graduate School and Co-chair of the International Q Project.

Religion online

Although the Sayings Gospel has no passion narrative or resurrection stories, this omission does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the Q people knew nothing of Jesus' fate or had never thought about where it left them. It is hardly probable that his death was not quickly rumored among his followers, even into the most obscure corners of Galilee. But then, after his death, was not the only sensible thing to do, to give up the whole thing as some tragic miscalculation, a terrible failure? Jesus had assured them, "the Father from heaven gives good things to those who ask him," and yet his last word according to Mark was "My God, My God, why have you left me in the lurch?" (Mark 15:34). What was there left to proclaim?

The emergence of the Sayings Gospel was, to put it quite pointedly, itself the miracle at Easter! Rudolf Bultmann formulated a famous, or infamous saying to the effect that Jesus rose into the kerygma. But perhaps we would do better to say: Jesus rose into his own word. The resurrection was attested, in substance at least, in the Q community, in that his word was again to be heard, not as a melancholy recollection of the failed dream of a noble, but terribly naive, person, but rather as the still valid, and constantly renewed, trust in the heavenly Father, who, as in heaven, will rule also on earth.

There are a few sayings in Q that are best understood in terms of such a "resurrection" faith. "What I say to you in the darkness, speak out in the light; and what you hear whispered into your ear, preach from the rooftops" (Q 12:3/Matt. 10:27). This sounds as if Jesus had rather secretively only whispered his message and left the spreading of the good word to his disciples. We would have expected it to be just the reverse. Surely Jesus said it better, louder, and clearer than anyone! But perhaps such a saying reflects the recollection that his message was suppressed by force and thus obscured but then became all the brighter and louder as it was nevertheless revalidated and reproclaimed.

Q is that material which is shared by Matthew and Luke and not by Mark. But the tomb and the cross are in all four Gospels, so ex hypothesis we must regard them as not in Q. The fact is they may well have been part of Q. They are by definition not Q simply because they are shared by all four Gospels. Since we don't have a copy of Q there's no way to know. At this point scholars weed out connections between early Q and Messiahood by arbitrary and circular means. Speaking of that, Doherty has gone a long way on sheer conjecture about the contents of a document the existence of which we can't even begin to verify. Now I'm a liberal and I'm a good sport Q wise. I think there probably was a Q document, in fact I'm inclined to think it was Matthew's "Logia."

Doherty continues:

Most startling of all, the Jesus of Q has no obvious significance for salvation. Apart from the benefits accruing from the teachings themselves, scholars admit that there is no soteriology in Q, certainly nothing about an atoning death for sin. The "Son who knows the Father" (Luke 10:22, a late saying recast from an earlier Wisdom saying) functions as a mediator of God's revelation—simply personifying what the Q community itself does. The Gospel of Thomas is similarly devoid of any reference to Jesus' death and resurrection.

Funny he should mention the Gospel of Thomas. Soteriological implications are all over Q and they are not hard to find. But be that as it may, Thomas is looked to as a backing for Q in many ways, it supposedly implies that the saying source was a prior form of the narrative Gospel, and it uses many Q sayings. But in Thomas there are clear statements of Soteriological value, and of the deity of Christ:

saying no.28: Jesus said, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared to them. I found them all drunk, and I did not find any of them thirsty. My soul ached for the children of humanity, because they are blind in their hearts and do not see, for they came into the world empty, and they also seek to depart from the world empty. But meanwhile they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then they will change their ways."

In terms of Q's soeteriology, or alleged lack thereof, Doherty has simplified the issues. It is not true that Q has no Soeteriology, it more the case that the Soteriology of Q is not Pauline and is very Jewish, very law oriented, so says John Kloppenborg, the scholar who first began the emphasis on Q's lack of a cross or a tomb (see Formation of Q 1987). In terms of Soeteriology we know that the early church was confused. Jesus was not a system builder, he was concerned with modeling behavior and with impressing upon people how to live a godly life. God drafted Paul to be the first systematic Christian theologian, that's why he wrote so much of the NT. So it was Paul who sorted out what it all meant and how all the pieces fit and there's nothing wrong with that. As Christians we should just accept that God chose to do it that way. But the issue in terms of Q is how much of Q do we have? Do we have all the pieces in Matt and Luke? Kloppenborg argues that we do because Matt uses all of Mark so why wouldn't he use all of Q. But he can only rest on that answer if we can be sure that Matt always used every source the same way; Mark was a narrative and Q a saying list.

Dennis Ingolfsland

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society,
Jun 2003

Kloppenborg's stratification of Q
and its significance for
historical Jesus studies

The second reason Kloppenborg cites for believing that virtually all of Q can be recovered is Kilpatrick's argument that the disappearance of Q was explicable only on the assumption that it was almost completely absorbed in Matthew and Luke.27 Some have objected, however, that by this logic Mark might have been expected to disappear also, since virtually all of Mark is included in Matthew. In Excavating Q, Kloppenborg responds to this objection by citing Luhrmann who proposed that Mark's survival and Q's disappearance are simply accidents of history in that Mark's Gospel happened to be carried to Egypt where it was copied and Q was not. Moreover, responding to Dunn who argued that Q may have disappeared for theological reasons, Kloppenborg writes, "In fact we do not know why Q disappeared."28

Kloppenborg is right, of course, but he seems unaware that in arguing that Q's disappearance may have been an accident of history and by admitting that we frankly do not know why Q disappeared, he has contradicted one of his own primary reasons for assuming that we know the extent of Q, that is, that the disappearance of Q "was explicable only on the assumption that it was almost completely absorbed in Matthew and Luke."29 Therefore, the main reasons Kloppenborg proposes for assuming that virtually all of Q can be reconstructed have been successfully refuted by his own arguments.
At this stage he returns to his bread and butter, spinning moonbeams about Paul.

How is this radical divergence between Paul and Q explained? It shows, say the scholars, the differing responses by different circles to the man Jesus of Nazareth. But they founder when they try to rationalize how such a strange phenomenon could have been possible. Besides, the documents reveal many more "responses" than just two. We are to believe that early Christianity was wildly schizophrenic. First Paul and other epistle writers abandoned all interest in the earthly life and identity of Jesus, turning him into a cosmic Christ who created the world and redeemed it by his death and resurrection. The Q community, along with that of the Gospel of Thomas, on the other hand, decided to ignore that death and resurrection and preserve the earthly teaching Jesus, a preacher of the coming end of the world.

Doherty contradicted by Koester, again

Of course that little fantasy is dispelled by my list, which I take from Helmutt Koester, that shows Paul's deep dependence upon Gospel sayings. It's a total myth to assume that he never quotes a Q saying. Yes Doherty tries to say that Paul never quotes Q, but the man he uses as an authority, Helmutt Koester, says Paul quotes Q quite a bit and that Q was widespread.

Helmut Koester comments on the provenance of Q (Ancient Christian Gospels, p. 164):

"Even the sayings used for the original composition of Q were known and used elsewhere at an early date: they were known to Paul, were used in Corinth by his opponents, employed perhaps in eastern Syria for the composition of the Gospel of Thomas, and quoted by 1 Clement in Rome at the end of the 1st century. The document itself, in its final redacted form, was used for the composition of two gospel writings, Matthew and Luke, which both originated in the Greek-speaking church outside of Palestine."

Koster latter theorizes that Paul had the Q saying source with him and this is what he calls "my Gospel." It's equally foolish to assume that he doesn't mention the cross or resurrection. Of course because he doesn't anticipate Doherty 2000 years latter and say "O by the way, this was in real flesh and blood on earth in history" then he couldn't have believed it? That's where Doherty wins his fan base, by appealing to the Christ haters who want to destroy Christianity and the mythers who care nothing for facts of reality. By appealing to those who love to fill the cracks in knowledge with their dreams.

Just a small part of the list linked to above:
The last supper (1 Cor 11:23ff)
Confessed his Messiahship before Pilate (1 Tim 6:13)
Died for peoples' sins (Rom 4:25, 1 Tim 2:6)
He was killed (1 Cor 15:3, Phil 2:8)
Buried (1 Cor 15:4)
Empty tomb is implied (1 Cor 15:4)
Jesus was raised from the dead (2 Tim 2:8)
Resurrected Jesus appeared to people (1 Cor 15:4ff)
James, a former skeptics, witnessed this (1 Cor 15:7)
as did Paul (1 Cor 15:8-9)
This was reported at an early date (1 Cor 15:4-8)
He ascended to heaven, glorified and exalted (1 Tim 3:16, Phil 2:6f)
Disciples were transformed by this (1 Tim 3:16)
Disciples made the Gospel center of preaching (1 Cor 15:1-4)
Resurrection was chief validation of message

see this chart looking a lot more like a chart here (scroll to chart)

We see that Paul does quote Q and he does refer to crucifixion, resurrection, and even soteriology. He makes all sorts of references which Doherty denies, to Jesus blood line, his life on earth, alludes to the empty tomb, to his crucifixion to his Messiahship. On the next page I will examine more closely Doherty's allegations about the contents of Q and Pauline theology vis, alleged Gnosticism. I will argue that the theology is very Jewish not Gnostic.

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