CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth


This quote was on Theology Web recently, it's obvously an atheist. But I can't find the url or the thread at all. nevertheless I think the quite is general enough it doesn't matter who said it. This encapsulates the basic atheist desire for scientific proof of God. I kind of like the way I answer this:

Unknown Atheist (every atheist):

Scientific evidence is not faith. Science is not faith based. Why doesn't God show Himself or give scientific evidence for His existence? because according to the skeptics, it would be pointless for God to do so, since scientific evidence is not faith, and that is what God wants us to have, faith. The demand for scientific evidence of God is a self defeating one, the lack of scientific evidence for God is actually evidence of His existence.


The questions that science poses and the questions that religious belief pose are totally different sorts of questions. There are points of overlap. Most of these stem form the ages before science really had an systematic to it, the ancient world, pre historic world. These are the days when the most sophisticated scientific knowledge was smelting and sword making, and even that was not understood in a way that we would call "scientific." In that setting it was natural (meaning logical and practical) to use religion as the explanation for the natural world. From this era when people looked to religion to make it answer questions it can't answer, we have hold over ideas (such as Genesis creation myth--which we need to learn how to read as a myth--and that means we need to learn the value in myth) that we have these conflicts.

Understanding the workings of the natural world does not require faith, it requires skills we posess, thinking skills to make systemic use of what we learn, the five senses to gather empirical data, and that means we are limited in that domain to knowledge which can be gleaned empirically.

How are we going to understand the nature of begin empirically when we can't get outside of being to study it? We can understand it from the standpoint of beings in being, but that's subjective. We can't get outside of being to understand what being is. Just supposes for the sake of argument that we believe that God is imagining the world. Our physical existence is similar to that of the "matrix" (I hate that movie) or the Holodeck on Star Treck TNG, (better) in that God is imagining the world. We are figments of God's imagination. Let's just say that for now.

How are we going to know that? We can't get outside of God's imagination because that is the part and parcel of our whole existence. We can't exist outside of that because that's what we are. How can we step outside of what we are to see what that means?

Suppose you had a big room with lots of objects and one pair of scales. Your task is to weigh every object in the room. You have only one pair of scales. how can you weigh the scales themselves?

All you can do is to find an object that feels as heavy as the scales and weigh it. That could be off by a lot, but it's the only way other than just guessing that you are going to get a true reading. Let's also assume that there are materials in the room to build another pair of scales.

That's why my post is about. It's a means of taking some kind of soundings of something that is beyond our ability to sound out. Now you assert that faith is nothing more than belief without any sort of reason just some wild leap in the darkness for no reason. That is a misunderstanding of faith. That is not what faith is. [i][b]Faith is the ability to place confidence in a partially proved hypothesis.[/b][/i]

This means there is evidence upon which faith is based. It's the evidence that amounts to the reasons why we believe. We do not believe because we are idiots or because our parents told us to or any of the other stupid ideas that atheists come up with to convince themselves that they are superior. We believe for highly personal reasons, we believe for subjective reasons.

At this point we raise one more concept that atheists can't handle. Atheist are scared to death of subjectivity. This why atheist cling to empiricism and to scientist ideologies. Because they are scared to death of the subjective. But guess what? there is no objectivity. Humans are not objective. The subject object dichotomy is a sham. There are only varying degrees of subjectivity there is real objectivity.

All scientific knowledge requires an ideological reading at some point. If you read thew works of Thomas Kuhn (No he was not a Christan he was not a creationist such ideas are stupidly idiotic but atheists have concluded that we was because I use him in arguments) if you read his works you will see that scinece turns on ideology. The paradigm is basically a just like a political ideology. When the paradigm shifts, which makes science work, the paradigm becomes like a political machine and is defended exactly like a political regime under attack. So the atheist pretense that faith vs atheism is really faith vs science is nothing more than their ideological reading. Science is not atheism an dit is no a tool of atheism any more than it is a tool of religion. Science is systematic gleaning of human knowledge about the workings of the physical world. There is nothing in that proposition that is anti-religious.

The ideology of scientific empiricism reduces knowledge and thought to a point where all counter phenomena are lost. So spiritual experience becomes a misfire of some chemical in your head. Before you know it you are not even talking about spiritual experience anymore, you've lost the phenomena. Then the reductionist pretends it never existed.

Because reductionism and empiricism are factually oriented they reduce all knowledge to facts about the world. So it is predictable that they understand belief in God adding a fact to the world. This is why they go through this stuff about "faith is not based on any evidence." Because they only accept as evidence that which supports their ideology.

God is not just anther thing in the universe. God is the basis of all that is. God is not on the list with existing things, not because there is no God but because God is transcendent of "thingness." God is not just another thing alongside "stuff" in creation. God is the basis upon which "stuff" exists.

This means God requires a different kind of evidence and different level of knowing than do scientific facts. You have to talk differently you have to read a different set of books, you have to hold a different set of epistemic priorities. Given all that God belief is backed up by a wealth of knowledge, but you have to understand that new way of understanding. Its' not reductionism. It's holistic. It's not [b][i]empiricism[/i][/b] it is [b][i]phenomenology[/i][/b]

Occasionally an atheist or skeptic will tell me, after countless rounds of argumentation, that I still haven't provided so much as a "shred of evidence" that God exists. At that point I usually leave off my part in the discussion, knowing that I have more than met my responsibility as a Christian witness. I post this only to remind Christian apologists (me included) that we are charged to be wise with our use of time and energy:
As Christians, we believe that God is quite capable of revealing himself to humanity. Moreover we maintain that he has actually done so, through various forms of evidence.* These include the precise fine-tuning of the universe for life, the specifiable complexity of living organisms, universal human awareness of moral responsibility, the prophetic history of Israel, religious experience, and of course the miraculous ministry, crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Atheists, on the other hand, often argue that God is not only unknowable, but scientifically undefined and therefore meaningless. Since there is purportedly "no evidence" for God in principle – when "evidence" is narrowly defined as verifiable sightings or scientific detection of God himself, rather than some sort of supporting data or argument – the existence of God is unknowable in principle. This all leads to some rather fruitless discourse.
If for example I present the bacterial flagellum or the mammalian eye as evidence of intentionally designed complexity, the argument is rejected by atheists because we cannot actually detect the designer himself with scientific instruments, and therefore functional complexity that exceeds the greatest human engineering marvels by many orders of magnitude is not evidence for the existence of God. If I cite abundant historical evidence to the effect that Jesus existed, that he predicted his own death and resurrection, and then appeared to believers and critics alike (think Paul and Thomas here), then atheists reject this as well on the grounds that resurrections are only possible if we already know that God or the supernatural exists – so the argument is "circular."
In other words, by an implied positivist epistemic standard, God should be visible, measurable, or otherwise ever-verifiable scientifically, or else he should be presumed nonexistent. This situation seems to have arisen largely not only from reliance on a now-defunct philosophical movement (logical positivism) but from a misunderstanding of what constitutes "burden of proof." The idea basically is that anyone claiming to hold a rationally warranted or evidentially supported belief in God has to prove it to the satisfaction of atheists, who can always opt to simply fold their arms, chuckle condescendingly, and say, "That's not evidence. Where's the evidence?" There seems to be some duplicity at work here. For example, while any and all critics of macroevolution or universal common ancestry are said to be guilty of purely subjective personal incredulity or a dangerous denialism (quite regardless of their arguments), atheists who summarily dismiss all the evidence mentioned previously by muttering something about Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster are said to exhibit coolheaded rationality and a healthy, open-minded skepticism. Such a double standard is, naturally, evidence of deep bias.
Given that I don't happen to believe that all of reality is scientifically verifiable (history, the origin of the universe, the validity of logic, and memories of what I did last week are not subject to empirical verification), I will happily concede that God does not often appear to lend himself to researchers for the sake of scientific investigation. However, even where God has evidently gone out of his way to make himself visible, as during the ministry of Christ on earth, atheists often object that God by definition is not empirically investigable! Christ is reported by early Christians and rabbinical Jews alike to have performed seemingly miraculous "signs" (though the rabbis attributed these to sorcery) but these are not valid evidence, I've been told – because they can only be valid if God exists, and to say God exists just because some person does "magic tricks" only begs the question.
In short, there is no way to meet an irrational demand for evidence that is at once natural and supernatural, verifiable and unverifiable. Any ongoing attempt to satisfy such a demand is a waste of everyone's time, and I happen to think that mine is particularly important. 
* "Evidence" here means basically any form of observable data or valid argument which "confirms" a hypothesis H by making it more probable than it would be given only background knowledge K relevant to that hypothesis. So if Pr(H/E & K) > Pr(H/K), E is evidence for H.


This week, I decided to talk a little about the Higgs Boson, which was inspired by this link and discussion that Joe is having with Eric Sotnak:

In the comments, something that Eric said caught my eye:

According to the best models we have of Quantum Mechanics, events in the very early universe were truly random.

I asked Joe about this, and he said something about how they can have causes even if they are random, and about how you can’t look at sub-atomic particles and say if they are un-caused or not.

This brought be back to the Higgs Boson concept that I heard about before:

The Higgs Boson is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. It is the quantum excitation of the Higgs Field -- a fundamental field of crucial importance to particle physics theory.

In the last few years, Joe and Joel from Evolution by Design did blog entries on this concept, and what it means as far as God is concerned:

Check in the comments section of the second link for some good discussion. I especially found the ramblings of a one Bill Walker very hilarious and sad at the same time.

 Joel also made some good points in the first link, especially about how those scientists seem to “urgently need” an answer that leaves God out of the picture.


If you recall last time I posted a prolegomena to an argument from laws of nature. In other words, an argument for existence of God based upon laws of physics and nature. That article was just thinking getting ready to make such an argument, Here I am making it. I encourage the reader to go back and read the article fist if you haven't already. The point is two fold:  the folks on Secular Outpost were so dubious of any such argument  and the presentation that set them off so deserved their ire (designed by Campus Crusade for Christ) [1], that I felt like I had to try to (a) prove to the atheists there is a potential argument there and show my fellow Christians how to find it, at to offer  direction in which to move.

The bad argument on the website was purely a "god of the gaps" argument:

How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?"The greatest scientists have been struck by how strange this is. There is no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone one that abides by the rules of mathematics. This astonishment springs from the recognition that the universe doesn't have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a universe in which conditions change unpredictably from instant to instant, or even a universe in which things pop in and out of existence."[2]
The only rational upon which the argument turns is the mystery concerning how laws work. That is a god of the gaps argument by definition, textbook. My arguments begins by stating a rational that, while it may hard to prove, is at least not a gap in knowledge, at least not only a gap. The problem with gaps is that they close up. Yet if we can demonstrate that mind is a more solid basis for the seeming law-like regularity of the universe that night make for a better explanation.[3] The argument:

1) mind is the most efficient and dependable source of ordering we know,

(2) Random ordering is usually inefficient and the odds are against it's dependability.

(3) The Universe Displays a Law-like efficiency and dependability in the workings of it's natural machinations.

(4) Such efficiency and dependability is indicative of mind as ordering principle (from 1,3), therefore, it is logical to assume mind as the best explanation for the dependability of the universe..

(5) A mind that orders the universe fits the major job description for God, Thus mind is the best explanation, assuming the choices are mind vs random chance.

Notice I said nothing about law implying a law giver. The rational for mind is not based upon analogies to law. This does raise the one real sticking point, premises 1-2. Can we prove that mind is the best explanation for law-like regularity? I'm going to assume that it's pretty obvious that (P3) universe displays like-like efficiency. Also I don't think it will be such a struggle to prove 4-5 linking a mind that orders the universe with God. Therefore I wont bother to argue those here. Thus I will concern myself primarily with P's 1-2.

Certain schools of philosophy hold that an inference to the best explanation is a valid argument. That is if one amid a variety of explanations has a more significant likelihood of coming true, and is more in line with prevailing theory and serves to explain more of the data then that hypothesis can be warranted as "the best explanation,"[4] Ratzsch goes on to quote Peter Lipton: "According to Inference to the Best Explanation … [g]iven our data and our background beliefs, we infer what would if true, provide the best of the competing explanations we can generate of those data (so long as the best is good enough for us to make any inference at all)."[5]

That complexity and efficacy are indicative of mind as an organizing principle might be hard or impossible to pull off but it makes sense on one level. Through complexity and fitedness one might deduce purpose or telos, and mind might be indicted in that sense.
All the richness and diversity of matter and energy we observe today has emerged since the beginning in a long and complicated sequence of self- organizing physical processes. The laws of physics not only permit a universe to originate spontaneously, but they encourage it to organize and complexify itself to the point where conscious beings emerge who can look back on the great cosmic drama and reflect on what it all means."

...The laws that characterize our actual universe, as opposed to an infinite number of alternative possible universes, seem almost contrived-fine-tuned, some commentators have claimed-so that life and consciousness may emerge. To quote Dyson again: it is almost as if "the universe knew we were coming." I cannot prove to you that this is design, but whatever it is it is certainly very clever][6]
Now the secularist skeptic might argue evolution demonstrates an organizing principle producing great complexity and in mindless fashion, While that might be the case the problem is evolution is surely the product of the law-like regularity and not it's cause. Presumably then we need laws to make evolutionary processes work and so we have not explained anything. even so the skeptic can always fall back on the fact that we don't have a world that we know is or is not designed by a mind to which we compare our own world. Even though P1 might make sense there is no way to prove it. Not having an undesigned universe to compare may mean that we can't prove the existence of God by the argument here advanced, It does not necessarily mean the argument is not a good one. If we forget about proof and talk about warrant: it may not be proof but it is probably the best explanation and that may warrant belief.
 In arguments of this type, superior explanatory virtues of a theory are taken as constituting decisive epistemic support for theory acceptability, warranted belief of the theory, and likely truth of the theory. There are, of course, multitudes of purported explanatory, epistemic virtues, including the incomplete list a couple paragraphs back (and lists of such have evolved over time). Assessing hypotheses in terms of such virtues is frequently contentious, depending, as it does, on perceptions of ill-defined characteristics, differences in background conceptual stances, and the like. Still, in general we frequently manage rough and ready resolutions...[7]

The argument does turn on the premise of a design argument but it could be considered more than that. Hawking ascribes the origin of the universe to the laws of physics, particularly gravity He certainly seems to indicate that they are more than just descriptions of what happens. Yet he makes no attempt to explain where these laws come from. In the sense mind offers a more complete explanation it could be the "best."

Stephen Hawking wrote a book, The Grand Design. in which he argued that gravity accounts for the existence of everything else:

If the total energy of the universe must always remain zero, and it costs energy to create a body, how can a whole universe be created from nothing? That is why there must be a law like gravity. Because gravity is attractive, gravitational energy is negative….Bodies such as stars or black holes cannot just appear out of nothing. But a whole universe can….Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.[8]

Edger Anders discusses the problem with this approach:
So gravity is God. Unfortunately the authors have no time to tell us who created gravity (earlier they rule out God because no one could explain who created him). Nor can they tell us why matter and gravity should pop out of nothing, except to argue that ‘nothing’ undergoes quantum fluctuations. However, this requires that (like gravity) the laws of quantum mechanics pre-existed the universe and that ‘nothing’ possesses the properties of normal space, which is part of the created order and cannot be its antecedent.[9]

Were I involved in a debate ageist a seasoned great thinker or some professional philosopher this is not the argument I  would use. I think it is a valid warrant for belief, the best explanation for law-like regularity.


[1] Bradly Bowen, Adamson's Cru [de] Arguments for God part 1, Secular Outpost, (April 25, 2016) blog URL:
accessed April 28, 2016

[2] Marlyn Adamson, "Is There a God," Every Student, Published by Campus Crusade for Christ
On line resource, URL:
She sites fn 11:Dinesh D'Souza, What's So Great about Christianity; (Regnery Publishing, Inc, 2007, chapter

[3] I recently posted on criteria by which to judge best explanation.

[4] Ratzsch, Del and Koperski, Jeffrey, "Teleological Arguments for God's Existence", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .<>.

[5] Peter Lipton, Inference to the Best Explanation. 1st Edition. London: Routledge (1991, 58): quoted in Ratzsch, Ibid.

[6] ."Paul Davies, "Physics and the Mind o God; Templeton Award Address, First Things ON LINE URL accessed 1/1/16

Paul Davies is Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide in Australia and the twenty-fifth recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, which he received on May 3, 1995 at Westminster Abbey. His books include The Mind of God, God and New Physics, The Cosmic Blueprint, Superforce, and Other Worlds.

[7] Ratzsch, Ibid.

[8] Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, New York: Bantum Books, 2010. 180

[9] Edgar Andres, “Review: the Grand Design,” Challies'.com, Tim Challies, on line reouce, URL: acessed 10/4/15
Andres is Emeritus professor University of London. Physicist and an expert on large molecules. Born 1932


Years ago, when I began debating the truth of Christianity, skeptics would occasionally attack my viewpoint by asserting that if I hadn’t examined all of the other religions of the world I couldn’t know that Christianity was true. According to the members of this group (whom I will hereinafter call Theological Travel Agents), I couldn’t possibly know whether Christianity was the best religion unless I had scoured the entire religious and philosophical landscape looking under every rock and bush to see whether there might be something more worthy of belief buried in that vast religious/intellectual landscape.

Certainly, there is some truth to the notion that unless one searches beyond what is ordinary in her experience she may miss something that is vastly superior to what she believed to be true prior to obtaining additional data. For example, when I grew up in the Midwest, I thought I knew what foods were good to eat and which weren’t. But when I later moved to California and still later to New Mexico, I experienced an entirely new array of tastes and learned that what I thought was good food wasn’t necessarily the best. Today, I would argue that the best and most unique tastes can be found in the green chile wonders cooked only in New Mexico. However, there is still much of the world I have never visited, and some little corner of this great blue ball might have some delicacy so exquisite that the green chile based foods I presently find so delicious won’t even belong in the same ballpark. So, of course, we all learn from experience.

At the same time, just because experience shows that we learn some things are different and perhaps even better when we explore the world beyond our usual culture, that doesn’t necessarily mean that touring the world is necessary for everything. Even in areas of preferences like foods, we may have the best from the very outset, and exploring the entire world of thought will only bring us back to where we started. For example, if I am correct that the best and most unique tastes can be found in the green chile creations of the chefs of New Mexico, then isn’t it also true that those who have lived and enjoyed those culinary creations their whole lives won’t find something better if they venture to other parts of the world? In other words, they already have the best and traveling the world may give them more data, but the data will only confirm what they already knew.

The Theological Travel Agents could have had multiple reasons for wanting me to try to travel around the religious/intellectual world looking at other religions. The first possible reason turns out to be nefarious, but the second possible reason seems to reside in ignorance.

I don’t know, but I suspect that the primary reason that the Theological Travel Agents encouraged me to examine the other world religions wasn’t to learn which was the most true. Rather, they were asking me to investigate these religions in hopes that I would become confused about the truth of Christianity by the variety of alternative thoughts and beliefs. This is a common tact among people engaged in covering politics in the news. As an example, not long ago the local news covered a story about the cutbacks in the Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) due to budget constraints. One of the cutbacks was a reduction in the number of counselors employed by the school district to provide counseling services for teachers. The news, of course, found a teacher who was distraught over the cut in the counseling services who was able to tell the audience that the counseling services were needed, and a cutback would be very bad for the teachers. Now, I personally find no problem at all in cutting back counseling services for teachers. Do they need counseling from time to time? I would be surprised if they didn’t because no matter what group of people you examine you will find that a certain percentage of them would benefit from counseling. So, I totally agree that there is a need for these services, but that isn’t the real question. The question that needs to be answered is an economic one: given the limited supply of resources (i.e., money), what is the most efficient allocation of those resources which still accomplishes the main purpose of the organization (educating children)? Having counselors would definitely be helpful, but so would school-funded babysitting, a full work out facility in every school, a full cafeteria with school-paid health foods for teachers in each school, and a deep-tissue massage therapist on call. All of these things would be helpful, but are they the most efficient use of the limited cash available in light of the school’s purpose?

By broadcasting a one-sided human interest story about how a particular teacher was helped by the school-paid counselors, the news has given a boost to those who favor continuing the school-funded counseling services for teachers without considering the underlying economic issue. And this is what newspapers do: when presenting an issue with which the editors disagree, use human interest stories to confuse the issue. No matter what is being proposed, it is always possible to find people either helped or hurt by the present state of affairs. Show the viewpoint that opposes what the editors believe to be correct.

Likewise, I believe the primary purpose of those who encouraged me to look at other religions was the same as the editors, i.e., they wanted me to see how other people were helped by their religions or religious beliefs as a means of convincing me that Christianity isn’t the only good religion. But as with the school counselors, I am not saying and have never said that other religions can’t help people or do good for them. I am certain that people have been helped in many ways by many of the alternative religious beliefs and communities. But just because the people can be helped by these alternative religions/religious communities, like the teachers are helped by the counselors, is not the real question. Whereas the question in the case of the schools was one of economics, the question in the case of the religions is one of truth. And this leads to the second, less nefarious reason for wanting me to tour the world of religious/intellectual beliefs: a confusion about the term religious “belief.”

I think that the majority of the Theological Travel Agents – those acting with a good motive – were hoping that I would discover that the reason I believed in Christianity was only because that is the culture in which I was raised. They were reasoning that if I examined the other religions of the world and observed how strongly others believed in those religions that I would see that religious belief wasn’t really truth but rather merely cultural belief disguised as truth. Returning to my food metaphor, I would find that my beliefs (green chile based foods) aren’t any better or worse than other types of beliefs – it is only that I lived in a place that thought that they were the best and therefore adopted that viewpoint.

Regardless of the motive, the Theological Travel Agents are right only if religious belief is, in fact, merely belief. If it is no more than a preference for one type of food over another or one type of god over another, then they would be correct in contending that I need to look over the whole world to see all of the other religions because it would be possible to find one that better strikes my fancy. However, if religious belief is more than just belief, if it is rooted in a true view of the universe that cannot change from place to place by my preferences, then there is no need to examine the entire religious landscape looking for the true religion if I have already found it.

So, this leads to the important question: Is religious belief a matter of preference or truth?

While the Theological Travel Agents (and, in fact, all skeptics) want Christians to believe that their “beliefs” are nothing more than beliefs on the level of preferring one sport over another, religion is a very different thing. It does make truth claims about the world. Religions make claims about whether God exists and how we come into right relationship with him, how the universe came to be and its nature, who/what is man, the meaning (if any) of life, what is good, and what happens to people when we die. Moreover, the religions of the world give strikingly different answers to these questions, and in many ways Christianity gives the most unique answers to these questions of any other religion except the religion of Atheism. Consequently, it is not possible that all religions have truth (unless truth is completely relative – which is isn’t but that’s a different post for a different day). So, since religions claim to hold truth claims, and since they cannot all be correct, it is incumbent on the true seeker to determine which religion, if any, has the truth.

Now, let’s return to the original question: Does one need to examine all of the religions of the world to know that Christianity is true? If Christianity were merely a preference like which flavor of ice cream is best, then one would need to tour the entire world of more than 10,000 religions to determine which most suited the fancy of the person choosing their religion du jour. But since religious belief is not simply belief – since it is a factual claim about truth and reality – one can reach the correct conclusion by looking only at one religion if they start with the true religion that can stand up to inquiry. Since Christianity makes both scientific and historic claims, it is capable of being verified. If a person determines that Christianity is true based upon a reasonable review of its claims (not the unrealistic demands put on it by skeptics like “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, see e.g., The Extraordinary Claims Maxim: Toward Rational Understanding of Evidence; Back to the Classics: ECREP! Golden Oldie of apologetics; Ferment on the ECREE Ploy: Extraordinary Claims and Propaganda; Skepticism -- No Longer a Process; Now a Conclusion), then one need travel no further. After all, if I believe that it has been more than 100 years since the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series, I can confirm that with one reliable source and I don’t need to look at every other sports almanac to determine if what I have already confirmed to be true is really false. I can rely on one quality source.

So, do I need to review every single one of the 10,000 religions in the world to determine which is true? No, I just need to determine that the one that I do review is true. If it is true, I have no more need to investigate other religions than I do to investigate further that racism is wrong. 

One of my more philosophically reflective coworkers asked me this question not long ago:
"If you were to clone a human, (lets say it’s possible) would that copy have a soul?"
That led to a brief discussion in which we were both reminded of Swampman, a thought experiment by philosopher Donald Davidson. Imagine, suggests Donaldson, that a man is hiking in the woods when a storm hits and a bolt of lightning strikes and kills him. At the very same moment, another bolt of lightning strikes a swamp nearby and as a result a creature is formed that just happens to be chemically, genetically indistinguishable to the first man in every respect. He is, not just a copy, but exactly identical to the man who died nearby in every measurable physical respect, down to the last molecule. Davidson used Swampman to explore questions of personal identity and causal history. 
Now my short answer to the soul question is "yes." The soul is that part of man that thinks, feels, and creates. A successfully cloned human, or a Swampman, or a man "beamed" from one planet to another as on Star Trek, would presumably be capable of all these, and therefore would have (or perhaps more properly would be) a soul. On this reading cloning is a novel form of human reproduction, so that a clone would be as much a soul as anyone else born into the world. But the more important question is existential dependence. If the soul (which broadly encompasses mind or consciousness) cannot exist without the body, as many believe, this fact would appear to confirm some form of materialism or physicalism. 
On evolutionary or biological emergentism, drawn generally from materialism-physicalism, the conscious mind (and by extension, the soul) is an emergent property of a certain complex arrangement of particles. What we call the soul is a high-level "brain state" of some sort. Arrange the very same collection of particles in the very same fashion, according to this view, and consequently the very same mind or "soul" will emerge. The proof of this is death. When the body (specifically the brain) ceases to function, the mind does as well. Therefore the mind emerges from the body. So goes the argument, which could be formalized as
If E, then U.
where E is the proposition that consciousness is an emergent property of specific material arrangements and U is the proposition that all dead material bodies are irreversibly unconscious. But is this argument valid? No. In fact it's a classic case of the fallacy of affirming the consequent. If emergence is true, death should not actually be considered irreversible, because in principle the body could be set back to the original configuration in which consciousness emerges. On the premise of emergence, then, a young person, otherwise perfectly healthy, who dies of a gunshot wound should be able to regain consciousness upon receiving a suitable set of "replacement parts" like organ transplants and blood transfusions, and perhaps an electro-shock "jump start."
In other words, with our extensive knowledge of anatomy, chemistry and physics, there seems no good prima facie reason on a biological-naturalist ontology why a dead body could not be simply repaired and put back into circulation. Yet for some reason dead bodies cannot be repaired. That seems to suggest that the biological machinery of the human body is a necessary but not sufficient condition for consciousness. That suggests in turn that consciousness is more than an epiphenomenon or emergent property of a person's physical constitution. 
The argument directly above could be restated as a valid inference by modus tollens,
If E, then R.
Not R.
Not E.
where E is the antecedent proposition that consciousness is an emergent property of physical bodies and R is the consequent proposition that consciousness of (dead) physical bodies could be revived with the right amount of mechanical tinkering. Since no amount of mechanical tinkering can in fact revive (dead) physical bodies, it follows that consciousness is not an emergent property of physical bodies.  All this is precisely what we would expect, given the truth of Scripture: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).


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In “Can a Machine have a Soul?” Bill Lauritzen claims to have disproved the soul.[1] He’s considering the issue of weather or not transferring human consciousness into a machine would give the machine a soul? His solution is to disprove that humans have souls then there’s no soul to worry about. In my view the soul is a symbol and it’s the spirit that lives on after death. So there’s no question of proving or disproving the soul since there is no question or proving or disproving symbols. For the sake of this issue I’ll use his terminology. He assumes the soul is the thing that lives. After all, he would make the same argument against the spirit. That argument is made by the bogus method of merely assume what he thinks human ancestors must have thought about after life and what they based it on. Basing it on something we know is false such as an literalized analogy between smoke is the afterlife of fire, and breath sustaining life, being like smoke, therefore like the smoke form the flame breath must live on as soul. That’s his conjecture. Of course he assume this is the only reason to think there might be a soul and thus he’s swept it out of the way with modern doubt! That really is his only answer. Rather he asserts that it was the attempt to explain oxygen. He’s using as breath in that sense. It’s really breath that he means.[2]
            To reinforce it all he goes through a mock play where two cavemen have things out and this is supposed to be actual proof. It’s nothing more than detailed speculation. His little play is nothing more than taking us through the steps one might go through to arrive at the conclusion of after life after having witnessed death: He sees the blood, he reasons from past experience, that when people lose a lot of this stuff they stop living. He sees the blood evaporate. He understands that it’s going from a liquid to gaseous state (would he understand that)? So he puts it all together and reasons. Of course it’s really a modern person “reasoning” his way to answers he already knows. Is that proof that this actually what happened? No it’s totally theoretical.  He even shows a series of pictures of a goat dying and rotting away to reinforce how one might come to the conclusion that there is some mysterious thing in the air that makes us life (like he would really know evaporation pus gas in the air).[3] “So early humans thought there were ghosts and spirits living in the air. They didn’t want a ghost angry with them, so they would kill and burn animals, even humans in some cases, in other word they would make a sacrifice, to feed these ghosts and spirits. Sacrafice as the root word sacer, meaning sacred.”[4] I don’t think I’ve heard of sacrifice being a meal for ghosts. That’s a conjecture and perhaps not a good one. It really is a minor point.
            Then he goes on a long triad about how science discovered oxygen to show that science is so much better than religious thinking. Of course since he made the whole thing up and its’ conjecture and he’s stepping over a bunch of steps that took thousands of years it’s a rather meaningless point. Of course he totally ignores the fact that modern science was created by Christians and one of the chief discoverers of oxygen was Robert Boyle who was a devout Christian and who did science as a form of Christian apologetics. I say the because the actual discovery was a complex process involving several people. Joseph Priestly was another of those and he actually discovered it but Boyle paved the way.[5] Both men were Christians. [6]. [7] It’s absurd to compare primitive thinking to modern and try to pass that off as proof that science is better than religion. We have modern thinkers who are both scientific and religious, and modern science owes a great debt to religious thinkers such as Newton and Boyle, and even Priestly. In fact part of his rendition of the discovery of oxygen includes a lot about Robert Boyle, he never does actually indicate that he was a Christian, so it appears as a rebuke to religious thinking.
            He then takes a long detour though a discussion of things that really could be just left out of the issue. These are matters of brain size vs the kind of diet we have its suitability for hunter gatherer society. It really has nothing to with the issues. He discusses alchemy and how the understanding of blood evaporation and smoke might contribute to correlations between the basic elements and alchemical knowledge. It’s not relevant but I surmise that he includes it to indicate how wonderfully predictive his theories are. He can predict the nature of alchemy with it, of course we already know how it turns out so it’s not as though he’s predicting the unknown. Realizing he has strayed from the topic he springs back to summarize the issue on the soul:
Getting back to the original question: can a machine have a soul? Of course, there may be some mysterious energy we know nothing about. However, if we apply Occam’s razor, I think we can see that we have a simple theory that covers all the facts: the “soul” and “spirit” are convenient terms invented by early humans who knew nothing about atomic theory. The “soul” and spirit probably do not exist except perhaps in this ordinary sense, “a person’s moral or emotional nature or sense of identity.”[8]
The reference to atomic theory pertains to the reality about atoms and molecules and a modern understanding of what happens with evaporation. He says we have a simple theory that covers the facts. The problem here is he doesn’t know the facts. He has not given us any facts. He has literally just concocted a speculative idea with no empirical proof to back it up. He’s merely assuming correlations are cause and that he’s exhausted the facts merely because he’s brought out a few facts that back his view. Since he doesn’t value religion he doesn’t even try to understand what really went into understanding the soul or the spirit. He offers just enough facts to explain it away and then claims he has the facts. Moreover, notice that he puts his theory in terms of probability, and not in terms empirical proof. It can’t be a real disproof if it’s just a probability. There are other aspects of the spirit that he had failed to come to terms with. Basically, he has made the assumption that all knowledge is scientific so therefore the soul was invented to explain scientific questions, the physical workings of the world. It’s more likely the soul was a means of explaining religious and spiritual truth not physical truth. We don’t’ know what al that entails.
            It’s probably related to the need to explain mystical experience, or the sense of the numinous. It’s bound to be related to spiritual needs, that would relate to the special sense that engenders concept such the Holy. First of all we know that those aspects of the sacred that issue forth in mystical experience, the sense of the numinous, are used to with complex psychological issues. 
Atheists and skeptics reduce everything they critique and then lose the phenomena in the reduction. Thus, they only see the explanatory aspects of ancient religion and never try to think beyond the simple assumption that people were doing this to explain things. This is the “Og no like noise in sky” Idea. Stupid primitive people without science try to explain simple things they don’t understand so they make up religion. That is all the skeptic can see. But those who are aware of the mystical consciousness can see more. I am sure the skeptics will argue that they are reading it in. All I can do is to assert that if the reader will read Maslow and if the reader is aware of Maslow’s acuity as a scholar, one will place a great deal of confidence in the notion that Maslow was discovering and not reading in. Maslow   interpreted everyday psychology as laced with the trace of the supernatural, because for him “supernatural” just meant a deeper level of consciousness about ordinary things. His views of human psychology were laced with Jungian notions of archetypes. He equated the archetypes with “supernatural.” In speaking of the relationship between men and women and their relation to the psychological archetypes, he finds that the same symbols are always used for the same meanings. This comes out in psychological studies across the board. He marks archetypical thinking, as B and D. B analysis has to do with the higher, ideal, abstract, D has to do with the earthy human aspects of our existence; the practical the earthy. These are roughly equivalent to St. Augustine’s terms: height and depth. An example of what he’s talking about is the male tendency to seek two of womanhood, the goddess and the witch (or what rhymes with “witch”). Maslow says that psychology tells us that we need a bit of both. A woman put on a pedestal and seen only as a goddess is unapproachable and cannot be pleased. A woman seen only as the ‘other’ can’t be respected and won’t make a good partner. Of course this goes vice versa for the way women view men: the “good guy” vs. “the outlaw,” the rebel, the “bad boy.” Materialists are going to find that this point is trivial and just a part of daily living, and that’s the point. The reason ancients have a tendency to sacralize these kinds of ordinary relationships is because they sense a connection between them and the transcendent. That is the sense of the numinous. The same symbols turn up again and again, according to Malow, in all kinds of psychological study. Psychologically there is a link between the use of certain symbols in mythology and religion, and the transcendent.
            He makes this connection himself. Iin speaking of the dichotomy of most religious life between the “mystical” or ‘inner.’ ‘Personal’ to the organizational (he doesn’t use the phrase but the “doctrinal”) “The profoundly and authentically religious the person integrates these trends easily and automatically. The forms, rituals, ceremonials, and verbal formulae in which he was reared remain for him experientially rooted, symbolically meaningful, archetypal, unitive.”[9] He is revealing a link between the rituals of the primitives, mythology, and religious experience (especially “peak experience” or Mystical consciousness). That link is in the archetypes, the psychological symbols that ground us in a sense of what life is about and give us a connection with these concepts of height and depth, or the ideal and practical. In appendix I. “An example of B analysis,” He states:
This can also be seen operationally in terms of the Jungian archetypes which can be recovered in several ways. I have managed to get it in good introspectors simply by asking them directly to free associate to a particular symbol. The psychoanalytic literature, of course, has many such reports. Practically every deep case history will report such symbolic, archaic ways of viewing the woman, both in her good aspects and her bad aspects. (Both the Jungians and the Kleinians recognize the great and good mother and the witch mother as basic archetypes.) Another way of getting at this is in terms ofthrough 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.[10]
He is relating this to the mythological symbols of the grate mother, the goddess, the witch, the demon, and one might also think of Lilith or for men the Shy Father, vs. the demon the trickster. The link between mythological symbols and mystical consciousness is further born out by another psychologist, David Lukoff who made the link between the high incidence rate in the general population found by the Greely study and the use of archetypes. Lukoff framed schizophrenic delusions as private mythology.
 “This method derives from the discipline of comparative mythology but goes beyond to decipher the psychological truths embodied in the symbol-laden stories. Campbell’s (1949) study The Hero With a Thousand Faces is the premier example of this method. Lukoff (1985) treated the account of a psychotic episode as a symbol-laden personal myth and attempted to uncover themes that parallel the structure and content of classic mystical experiences.”[11]
Other studies, such as Buckley and Galanter (1979) have observed individuals in the midst of mystical experience when exposed to religious ceremonies.[12] Some might see this as undermining my own argument because skeptics do argue that religious experience is a form of mental illness. But there is a distinction between some mentally ill people having religious experiences and saying that mystical experience is mental illness. Many studies disprove this assertion (see chapter on “studies”). But as Lukoff shows, this does not mean that some mentally people can’t have mystical experiences.
Maslow talks about the psychological necessity of being able to maintain a transformative symbology. He is not merely saying that we should do this, but that this is what we do; it is universal and through many different techniques and psychological schools of thought he shows that this has been gleaned over and over again. What Jung called the Archetypes are universal symbols of transformation, which we understand in the unconscious[13] , and we must be able to hold them in proper relation to the mundane (the Sacred and the Profane) in order to enjoy healthy growth, or we stagnate and become pathological. It is crucial to human psychology to maintain this balance. Far from merely being stupid and not understanding science, striving to explain a pre-Newtonian world, the primitives understood this balance and held it better than we do. Religious belief is crucial to our psychological well being, and this fact, far more than the need for social order or the need for to explain thunder, explains the origins of religion.

As Maslow says:
“For practically all primitives, these matters that I have spoken about are seen in a more pious, sacred way, as Eliade has stressed, i.e., as rituals, ceremonies, and mysteries. The ceremony of puberty, which we make nothing of, is extremely important for most primitive cultures. When the girl menstruates for the first time and becomes a woman, it is truly a great event and a great ceremony; and it is truly, in the profound and naturalistic and human sense, a great religious moment in the life not only of the girl herself but also of the whole tribe. She steps into the realm of those who can carry on life and those who can produce life; so also for the boy’s puberty; so also for the ceremonies of death, of old age, of marriage, of the mysteries of women, the mysteries of men. I think that an examination of primitive or preliterate cultures would show that they often manage the unitive life better than we do, at least as far as relations between the sexes are concerned and also as between adults and children. They combine better than we do the B and the D, as Eliade has pointed out. He defined primitive cultures as different from industrial cultures because they have kept their sense of the sacred about the basic biological things of life.

“We must remember, after all, that all these happenings are, in truth, mysteries. Even though they happen a million times, they are still mysteries. If we lose our sense of the mysterious, or the numinous, if we lose our sense of awe, of humility, of being struck dumb, if we lose our sense of good fortune, then we have lost a very real and basic human capacity and are diminished thereby.”

“Now that may be taken as a frank admission of a naturalistic psychological origin, except that it involves a universal symbology, which is not explicable through merely naturalistic means. How is it that all humans come to hold these same archetypical symbols? The “primitives” viewed and understood a sense of transformation, which gave them integration into the universe. This is crucial for human development. They sensed a power in the numinous, that is the origin of religion.”[14]
Ceremonies and rituals about ordinary things such as puberty, sex, marriage, birth, death, these are attempts at mediating the Ultimate transforromative experiences that all religions take to the resolution of what they identify as the human problematic. Pre historic man says “I see a connection between my place in the universe, and this sense that I get when I reflect upon nature as a whole. I sense that I am one small part in a great unity, and I sense this in everything in life, falling in love, having children, death., I have a place in the universe in relation to whatever that is I sense beyond the stars…” The skeptic reduces this to “Og like girls, but girls make Og nervous.” So he makes rituals about sex and relationships to ward off the evil spirits that make him nervous. But it’s clear, while pre-historic man probably wasn’t an existentialist and perhaps wasn’t that sophisticated about it all, he did sense a connection between life and the numinous. Of course this doesn’t mean that the primitive humans had any special insight into relationships that we need to follow.  This is strong evidence that people have always had a sense of the numinous as far back as we know. This is an indication of some form of this sense because it clearly shows a connection between ordinary aspects of life and the transcendent. It also means that the typical skeptical explanation for the origin of religion is just losing the phenomena, taking out the real indications of a form of consciousness and reducing what they find to nothing more than a simplistic explanation for things.

While it is true that these experiences and their psycho-social uses have probably evolved over time, it is equally true that they were probably being put to the same uses all along because we can see the relationships between religious symbols, spiritual concepts, and psycho-social aspects. It makes more sense to think they were used in that way all along. the cocnept of the soul is just some simple idea of saying "what keeps me living?O it's some ghost in the machine" but rather why do I feel this strange sense of importance of life and the world when I stare at the stars all night? Then to explain mystical experience they come up with the realization that consciousness probably transcends the material world. From that it's easy to think it lives on after life. Then if the associate it with the wind in the trees and blood and breath and life, that's scientifically mistaken but it's not completely off track. It does at least link the feelings of mystical experience with the reality and meaning of the world and the after life.
Mystical experience is at the base of religion itself. "Mysticism is a manifestation of something which is at the root of all religions."[15] 

David Steindl-Rast,

The question we need to tackle is this: How does one get from mystic experience to an established religion? My one-word answer is: inevitably. What makes the process inevitable is that we do with our mystical experience what we do with every experience, that is, we try to understand it; we opt for or against it; we express our feelings with regard to it. Do this with your mystical experience and you have all the makings of a religion. This can be shown.

Moment by moment, as we experience this and that, our intellect keeps step; it interprets what we perceive. This is especially true when we have one of those deeply meaningful moments: our intellect swoops down upon that mystical experience and starts interpreting it. Religious doctrine begins at this point. There is no religion in the world that doesn't have its doctrine. And there is no religious doctrine that could not ultimately be traced back to its roots in mystical experience – that is, if one had time and patience enough, for those roots can be mighty long and entangled. Even if you said, "My private religion has no doctrine for I know that my deepest religious awareness cannot be put into words," that would be exactly what we are talking about: an intellectual interpretation of your experience. Your "doctrine" would be a piece of so-called negative (apophatic) theology, found in most religions.[16]

It makes sense that if every doctrine has it's roots in mystical experience that the doctrine of the soul does as well. Now it could easily be that the basic idea was invented by observing breath i the body and wind in the trees then backed up by these emotional experiences. That's ok it means there is no Casper the friendly Ghost-like entity in us waiting to get out. We do not need to hold to that view of the soul or the spirit. Spirit is mind, the word in Greek means mind, it's perfectly logical to understand consciousness as the aspect that lives on. A connection through mystical experience would be quite logical for the spirit. So the reality of consciousness as enduring connection with God and the infinite got mixed up with hoaky notions about wind in trees and evaporation and produced this idea of the ghost. That doesn't mean there is conscoiusness that survives death and unites us with God or not spirit that is reinvigorated when we give our lives to Christ. 

This tendency to want to destroy ideas of religion through scinece is nothing more than the illusion of technique. This notion harkens back to a book form the 70's by William Barrett.[17]Perhaps because science is misunderstood by many as thriving upon proof, and it is seen as the umpire of reality because its ability to prove empirically, (apologies to Karl Popper) the illusion of technique is created in the minds of those who misunderstand science in this way. I will say more about this in the next chapter. It is not the scientists who create the illusion but the needs of science groupies who expect it to ground their metaphysical needs that create the illusion. The tendency to reduce all knowledge to one thing enables the illusion to work. The illusion works in the way that reductionism works. If some aspect of reality can’t be gotten at by our methods then we assume it doesn’t exist, because that means it’s not something we can control.
"The illusion of technique," the modern dream of a single method that would apply in all areas of human concern. Such hegemony encourages thinking in terms of a "will to power," seeing things as 'manipulanda', that which awaits reshaping by humans. Barrett contrasts this with the "will to prayer," an attitude which, inspired by Platonic 'eros', seeks, not control, but active engagement leading to personal transformation.[i]
Thus the only knowledge there is, is in our control. In other words, the facts always support our view. So naturally our manipulation of the world is absolute and produces all the knowledge there is. If there seems to be anything beyond that we can reduce it and lose the phenomena and we explain it away. Religious experience is reduced to brain function, brain function is reduced to chemistry, chemistry has no room in it for transcendent sprits and thus they don’t’ exist. The illusion is backed by the fact that we can always manipulate more and more stuff and thus demonstrate our view of the world works.


[1] Bill Lauritzen, Abstract, “Can a Machine Have a Soul,” Journal of Personal Cyberconscienceness. Vol. 8, Iss 1 (2013) 30-39, 30-31.
[2] Ibid.31
[3] Ibid. 32-33.
[4] Ibid. 33
[5] Zbigniew SZYDŁO, “Who Discovered Oxygen?” Proceedings of ECOpole, Vol. 1, No. 1/2 (2007)
[6] Kevin de Berg, “The Enlightenment and Joseph Priestley’s Disenchantment with Science and Religion.” Christian Perspective on Science and Technology, ISCAST Online Journal, (2012) Vol. 8.   accessed 4/7/14.
[7] Margaret Jacob, The Newtonians and The English Revolution 1689-1720. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1976. Boyle’s Christianity and apologetics are discussed throughout  the work.
[8] Bill Lauritzen, Ibid. 38.
[9] Abraham H. Maslow  Religiooins, Values and Peak-Experiences, “preface” to the 1970 edition.
[10] Ibid, appendix I. “An Example of B Analysis.”
[11] David Lukoff “the Diagnosis of Mystical Experiences With Psychotic Features” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, (1985) 17, (2) 155-81 in Lukoff and Lu, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, (1988) 20, (2) 182.
[12] Ibid
[13] Abraham H. Maslow, Religions, Values, and Peak-Experiences
Appendix I. An Example of B-Analysis

[15] Frank Crossfiled Haphold, Mysticism: A Study and Anthology. New York:Penguin Books, 1979, 16
[16.]David Steindl-Rast. "The Mystical Core of Organized Religion," ReVision, Summer 1989 12(1):11-14. Used by the Council on Spiritual Practices with permission. 1989
 on line:  
accessed 4/8/14.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B., is a monk of Mount Savior Monastery in the Finger Lake Region of New York State and a member of the board of the Council on Spiritual Practices. He holds a Ph.D. from the Psychological Institute at the University of Vienna and has practiced Zen with Buddhist masters. He is author of Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer and Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day.
[17] William Barrett, The Illusion of Technique: a Search for Meaning in A Technological Civilization.
New York:Anchor books, 1979.

[18] Raymond D. Boisvert, “The Will to Power and the Will To Prayer: William Barrett’s The Illusion of Technique 30 years Latter.” Journal of Speculative Philosophy: A Quarterly Journal of History, Criticism, and Imagination.” 22, (1), 24-32.

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