Wednesday

How do you know what you "know" about God?

How do you know what you "know" about God?

1. JESUS AS GOD

IF Jesus is God (as Christians state in their objective truth claims about him) then he may be examined in exactly the same way as any other Jewish peasant from the first century. This includes using tools dealing with ancient history and archeology as well as science. Science comes into play with such bible verses (claims of objective truth) as Acts 17:28 "in him [God / Jesus] we live and move and have our being". If Jesus is God then it should be possible to empirically prove that all people "lived and moved and have their being" inside a living Jesus while he walked the streets of Nazareth and inside a dead corpse Jesus on Easter Saturday. It should likewise be possible to examine Jesus' DNA and see whether his father was God or Joseph and what DNA God has as his father. Doctors could likewise have examined Jesus' body for any diseases and also produced a Death Certificate including exact cause of death. It should likewise have been possible to examine Jesus' resurrection body and its composition. If today's science in tracking heavenly bodies were know at the time one could have tracked Jesus flying through the sky like Superman to heaven. It should likewise be possible to find out where heaven is by using mathematics to trace the trajectory and speed. Of course, one could also have applied scientific investigation to every miracle and analysed, for example, the water before and after it turned into wine and given a Death Cetrificate for Lazarus and then a clean bill of health after his resurrection.

OR

One could subjectively use bible verses about Jesus.

It seems to me that the ONLY way people know about Jesus as God is through bible verses (either read or interpreted by others) which they view as objective truth.

2. YAHWEH (minus Jesus) AS GOD

If God is infinite and not finite (like Jesus) then it is absolutely impossible for any finite mind or collection of finite minds to fully understand God. [Whereas a human finite Jewish peasant Jesus has the possibility of being able to be fully known.]

God may only be spoken about in metaphor and symbolism. Rather than Kant, the methods of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and Paul Tillich are better suited to this search as well as empirical science for if it is true that we "live and move and have our being" in God then God is also within everything that surrounds us and is within us (panentheism). This is also the Hindu concept of Brahman and Paul Tillich's Ground of all being.

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In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being. Brahman is conceived as personal ("with qualities"), impersonal ("without qualities") and supreme depending on the philosophical school. The sages of the Upanishads teach that Brahman is the ultimate essence of material phenomena (including the original identity of the human self) that cannot be seen or heard but whose nature can be known through self-knowledge (atma jnana). - from http://en.wikipedia.org/wi​ki/Brahman

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~​~~~~~~~~~~

The human mind is not negated in this search as it is the only tool that we have to use however imperfect it may be. Existence of some supposed supernatural part of the human body that directly communicates to God requires empirical proof and not just bible verses.

Sartre correctly stated "existence precedes essence". Humans create their own values and determine a meaning for their life through consciousness. So, rather than dwelling on what humans consist of in some Christian reconstruction such as tripartite being or as a pinnacle of God's creation, the search for God should be firmly grounded in one's own existence in the here and now. The search includes both external knowledge and also internal self-knowledge for the realm of God with both "within you and without you". (George Harrison)

In WHAT do you "live and move and have your being"? The answers are found through use of the 5 senses and the mind. There is no other possibility. Even if one wishes to argue divine revelation it is still mediated either through the five senses and / or the mind.

HOW do you know what you "know" about God? Our very limited understanding of God can only be known through the five senses and the mind and include investigations within oneself and external to oneself. The understandings include both objective and subjective claims about that in which we "live and move and have our being". These investigations are not only limited to bible verses but includes the totality of reality.

If God is merely a noumenon then he is only a product of your mind with no external reality that can be empirically investigated. Christians try to argue that the subjective assumptions that they perceive in their mind are external realities. However, dreams and hallucinatuions are a similar process and dreams do not have an external reality.

If God is phenomenon then he can be investigated with empirical science. Christians are uncomfortable with the fact that science cannot find God anywhere. Christians wish to limit all investigation of God to the mind saying that the five senses are flawed. The five sense are no more flawed than the mind which can produce hallucinations and dreams that appear to be real but which have no external reality.

By restricting the investigation of God to only the mind Christians have far less than the full amount of tools for the investigation. A proper investigation of God must include all the tools available to humans which are the five senses and the mind. Leaving any one tool out restricts the knowledge of God that is possible.

Monday

ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS - REVISED - Luke 24 (MTV)

Luke 24 (MTV)

Now that very same day, two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. And it happened that as they were talking together and discussing it, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but their eyes were prevented from recognising him.

He said to them, 'What are all these things that you are discussing as you walk along?' They stopped, their faces downcast.

Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, 'You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.'

He asked, 'What things?'

They answered, 'All about our god Jesus. Our god was crucified and died. We've had no-one running the universe or holding things together since he died. We kept praying to him but got no answer because the line to heaven was dead. We couldn't talk to God because we have have to go through our dead god Jesus to do so. Our god died and we didn't give him a decent funeral service in a church. Now we're going to either call Jesus NONImmanuel which means god ISN'T with us ... OR ... wonderful corpse, putrefying god. Hey, on the positive side, we've got a catchy little Jesus Jingle we're gonna use in church next week. It's sung to Our God Reigns:
Our god died
Our god died
Our god died
Our god died
Do you think it'll make the Top 40 Jesus Jingle Hit Parade?"

Sunday

Josh McDowell rants about the dangers of the Internet

Comments about http://www.christianpost.com/news/apologist-josh-mcdowell-internet-the-greatest-threat-to-christians-52382/

From his rant ....

> “The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have.

Thank God! Christian opinions can now be debated in the public sphere without the possibility of being burnt at the stake for being a heretic.

> While 51 percent of evangelical Christians did not believe in absolute truth in an earlier survey, the percentage escalated to 62 in 1994. In 1999, it jumped to 78 percent.

There may be hope in Fundyland yet.

> less than four percent of evangelical born-again Christians believed the Bible was infallible in every situation, and 63 percent of them believed He is “a” Son of God and not “the” Son of God, he added.

So much for the man-made dogma of the trinity.

> the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism.

If Christians had scientific empirical proof of what they claim is "Christian certainty" then people would embrace it. "The problem is that "Christian certainty" is no more than subjective opinion.

> the Internet has leveled the playing field

Finally! Praise the Lord!

> The Internet is weakening Christian witness

The paedophilia, TV evangelist scandals and creationist pseudo-science claims haven't help much either.

> Christians, he urged, needed to understand the time, quoting 1 Chronicles 12:32

Bible verses cure everything in Fundyland.

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 1 - Assumptions about being and the whole field of ontology & CONCLUSION.

Strata 1 - Assumptions about being and the whole field of ontology. Ontology is a systematic account of existence.  Sartre correctly stated "existence precedes essence" yet Christians repeatedly value the priority of essence.  They wish to state what we are made of and what our purpose is based solely upon subjectively interpreted bible verses.  Thus in the Westminster Shorter Catechism it states:
" Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever"

The answer is totally reliant on material from the upper strata and not at all self-evident or proven by empirical science.  It subjectively assumes the existence of God, a human relationship with God and communication with God.

In Acts 17:28 a pagan poet is quoted by Paul which states "in him we live and move and have our being". The quote originally referenced Zeus but Paul reinterprets it to mean his God.

In what do we "live and move and have our being"? Part of the answer is given by science. We live and move and have our being" in the laws of science. Some call it Nature.  It includes mathematics and perhaps can be part of knowing the "mind of God" as Paul Davies suggest.  This is not "living and moving and having our being" in dead Jewish peasant - Jesus of Nazareth - for which there is absolutely no empirical evidence.  It has nothing of a "personal relationship" with a supernatural being that communicates in understandable propositions.

Why are we here? What gives us meaning in our existence? Is the meaning part of nature or nurture? Are we born with constructed meaning or do we construct our own meaning? Are there any objective criteria in such a construction and how does that relate to the subjective assumptions of Chrstianity?

Christians say that every human is born with "original sin" and is intrinsically evil as a result of subjective intepretation of bible verses that speak about a "Fall" from God's grace by Adam and Eve who are subjectively assumed to be the parents of all humans. It is also subjectively assumed through interpretation of bible verses that this sin can be passed down and inherited by all their offspring for ever and ever, Amen.  As of the present time no scientist has found the "original sin" strand in any DNA.

CONCLUSION
The strata are evidence of subjective choices from beginnng to end. Thousands of subjective choices. These subjective choices inform or are reliant upon strata above and below. One wrong choice in the chain and the reliant choices are totally invalid and thus the conclusion is invalid. It is precisely that the independently verifiable base is missing from Christianity despite claims to the contrary theologians and clergy. The top strata of dogmas, bible, God, Jesus and the human response to such are all spoken about as though they were objective truths by the vast majority of clergy and Christians yet they are nothing but subjective assumptions. At every step subjective assumptions are made that have no bearing in empirical science or history. The strata are a short history of those subjective assumptions. 

One cannot hold that the subjective assumptions are indeed subjective and in the next breath give a sermon which speaks of the same subjective assumptions as objective truths to be believed and followd. That is hypocrisy.

Christian proselytise on the basis of subjective assumptions about bible verses without grounding in empirical evidence.

"we live and move and have our being" in something. Some call that God.  It is perhaps better to explore that Ground of all being rather than make subjective assumptions about it based upon bible verses.  It is a  "Mysterium Tremendum Et Facinens"- fearful and fascinating mystery - a Latin phrase which Rudolf Otto uses in The Idea of the Holy. An infinite God is beyond  knowing in totality by any finite human or group of finte humans. An infinite God is both utterly transcendent and thus ultimately unknowable yet at the same time immanent and closer than your own thoughts. The human finite Jesus of Nazareth can never be such an infinite God. Any time the infinite reduces itself to the finite it annihilates itself.  It is a mathematical proof.

This is a beginning of a journey. Continue the journey. There is no endpoint in this lifetime.

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 2 - Assumptions about the human psyche /soul / spirit and its nature and function tying in both philosophy and psychology.

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 2 -  Assumptions about the human psyche /soul / spirit and its nature and function tying in both philosophy and psychology.

The interaction of mind and body is a huge problem in fields such as philosophy, pyschology and neuro-science.  Basically it is stated as "What is the basic relationship between the mental and the physical?"  The many varied (and sometimes contradictory) answers are too many to list here. I am concentrating only on the Christian views.

Christianity takes a dualist approach.  Body is the physical attributes that can be seen and includes brain. The unseen attributes are the mind. In philosophy and many religions including sections of Christianity mind = psyche = spirit = soul.  However, many Christians have a "tripartite man" model made popular by Watchman Nee in his "The Spiritual Man".  Justification for a tripartite being comes from the notion that God is a tripartite unity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) and humans are made in God's image therefore humans must also have a tripartite being. It is backed up, as usual by bible vereses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 "may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." & Hebrews 4:12 " the word of God ... penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit."

The unseen elements of humans in the tripartite view are therefore broken up into:
SOUL: conscious and subconscious minds, intellect, reason, emotion, will; extinguished at death.
SPIRIT: "God's Worship and Contact Centre", waffly goo feelings about God, intuitions about God; eternal part of the person.

It thus views spirit as pure and untainted once one is "born again" but the soul as instrinsically evil, corrupt and suspect and not to be used for investigating the things of God.  The outcome is a profound anti-intellectualism evident in many strands of Christianity today.  This anti-intellectualism is reliant upon bible verses subjectively interpreted by "God's Worship and Contact Centre", the spirit.  Bible verses and prayer are the food of the spirit and how problems affecting people's minds are "healed'. Psychology is suspect as it only helps the soul and the soul is unimportant.  Only the spirit matters.

One's view of the mind affects notions about death, emotions, perception, memory, personal identity and freewill. Thus psycholgy, psychiatry, medicine and neuro-science can help those with mental illness in ways that can be measured and are peer-reviewed. They are also falsifiable. However, the efficacy of  Christian methods which exclude psycholgy, psychiatry, medicine and neuro-science is completely unproven. In one study those prayed for healing faired worse than those who had no prayer at all.  There is also no empirical evidence for a "tripartite man" or the definition of spirit in a "tripartite man' other than subjectively interpreted bible verses.

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 3 - Assumptions made about God and philosophic investigations of God

Strata 3 - Assumptions made about God and philosophic investigations of God

Most Christians believe in a theistic God who is an existing being and with whom they can have a "personal relationship". They also believe that the human Jesus of Nazareth is part of this same God. (There are liberal Christians who believe differently and I am not addressing their concepts at this stage.  They posit a better argument that God is the Ground of all being as described by Paul Tillich. This is not a personal God.)  A major problem is that there is absolutely no scientific empirical evidence nor philosophical proof of God's existence.  As Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth is God and all humans such as Jesus have existence as part of their being then God must exist in the same way that humans exist - including God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  Christians have spent considerable time trying to prove God's existence but all the so called "proofs" fail dismally. As there are so many attempts (because God's existence is so central and essential to Christianity) then it is impossible for me to answer all the objections in a short article. However the main basic proofs and the reasons that they fail are briefy stated as:

1. The Ontological Argument

Form: We have the idea of a completely perfect Being. Existence is necessary to complete perfection. Anything that did not exist would be less than perfect that if it did exist.  Since God is completely perfect then he must exist. If God did not exist then he would lack perfection.

Objections:
- The idea of perfection adds nothing to the concept of a thing.
- The perfect thing that we imagine may not exist.

2. The Cosmological Argument (or Causal Argument)

Form: Look at the universe. It came from somewhere. Some great cause produced it. That Cause is God.

Objections:
- It establishes nothing about the deity's characteristics and cannot be used to establish any particular deity.
- It leads to an infinite regress where the question it asks in terms of God can be asked of God in turn.
- We only know that everything has a cause from experience. Experience tells us nothing about causality in any non-empirical world.

3. Argument from Miracles

Form: Miracles exist and are God intervening in the natural course of events.

Objections:
- Miracles are not empirically proven to exist.
- The meaning of the term "miracle" must be defined as it may be the instance of an unknown natural law.
- It does not prove a particular deity or the deity's characteristics.

4. Utility Argument

Form: Belief in God is a great and indispensable moral influence.  Without it human beings would not live good lives. Therefore, it must be true and God exists.

Objections:
1. It is not proven that religion is indispensable to good conduct. The opposite is also shown in the Crusades, Inquisitions and Witch Hunts caused by religion.
2. Even if the premise "Belief in God is a great and indispensable moral influence" is true it does not prove that God exists." Would belief in ghosts that produced good conduct likewise prove that ghosts were true?

5. Argument From Religious Experience

Form: I (and other people) have experiences of a particular nature, which are so profound, so meaningful, so valuable, that they cannot be explained on any natural hypothesis. They must be due to a Supernatural being, God who inspires such experiences.

Objections:
- If  a religious experience of the Christian God proves the existence of a Christian God then a religious experience of a Hindu likewise proves the existence of a Hindu God.
- It cannot be used for any particular God and works equally well for Woden, Thor and Zeus.

6. Teleological Argument (Argument from Design)

Form: The universe shows evidence of order and design. A master architect has been at work. Purpose and not blind chance governs the universe.  The Purposer is God.

Objections:
- Epicurus problem of evil negates it. "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?" (David Hume)
- It is an argument from analogy which is always invalid.
- It cannot establish any of the hypotheses.

It is assumed that God is personal. Many critique this by finding many similarities between the God and the person who worships the God surmising that humans have made God in their own image and not vice versa. It is not at all apparent or proven that God must be personal.

An even greater problem exists with the claim by Christians that the finite human Jesus of Nazareth is God with both a pre-existence and a current existence as God. This again cannot be proven by empirical science and rests solely upon the subjective interpretations of bible verses.

It is assumed by Christians that God communicates with humans.  See my previous article "How does God communicate to humans?" http://marktindall.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-does-god-communicate-to-humans.html  for the many problems with this belief.

Many Christians say that God's "dialogue" (including current dialogue with Jesus) consists of Yes / No / Maybe demonstrated in life experience. That doesn't seem like much of a dialogue and works equally well for the pagan gods who answer exactly in the same manner. Others say that they speak for God / Jesus but God / Jesus always sounds remarkably like the person and has the same prejudices. Others say that God / Jesus speaks through the bible. How does God / Jesus speak through a book with multiple editors, contradictions, errors, forgeries, fictions and man-made dogmas? Some say that God / Jesus speaks to their heart / spirit though both mean mind in the Hebrew and Greek. Is this through ideas? How do we know which idea is from God / Jesus which is from self, Satan, Thor or Woden or some other god?

It would seem to me that if God / Jesus can speak to humans then he would do so in an unambigious clear way that could be easily detected and investigated by all people. That is not the case. It would also seem to me that God / Jesus would answer questions of utmost importance (like a cure for cancer) and not dwell on minor unimportant details. That also is not the case. If something is true then it must be internally coherent and externally verifiable with facts. God / Jesus's speaking to humans is not like that at all. Whatever God / Jesus's communication is, it is not very clear and unambiguous.

How does one learn about Jesus without reading a bible or hearing an evangelist? It should be possible to find out about Jesus solely and only thorough Jesus speaking to you. That again is not proven by empirical science.

Saturday

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 4 - Assumptions about need for God and the so called " God-shaped hole in one's heart".

Strata 4 - Assumptions about need for God and the so called " God-shaped hole in one's heart".

This is based upon existential angst - fear / dread - which is common to all people as a deep-seated insecurity and fear of one's own freedom. One becomes aware of being finite in a world that is infinite. One realises that one has an undetermined future. One is constantly confronted with possibility and the need for decision and the resultant burden of responsibility.

The term is used best by Sartre and explained as "The reflective apprehension of the Self as freedom, the realisation that nothingness slips inbetween my Self and my past and future so that nothing relives me from the necessity of continually choosing myself and nothing guarantees the validity of the values which I choose. Fear is of something in the world, anguish [angst] is anguish before myself (as in "Kiekegaard)." Jean-Paul Sartre "Being and Nothingness" (Washington Square Press: 1956) pp. 799-800

( "nothing guarantees the validity of the values which I choose" is particularly telling. What is the criteria for choice?)

It is assumed by Christians that this angst is a condition created by God in order for people to find God and eliminate the angst. The angst is the "God shape hole in the heart" and it is filled by God thus eliminating all angst. Christians talk about the the potency of God and Christian fellowship at church in reducing angst and anxiety caused by death, isolation, freedom and meaninglessness.

Kierkegaard speaks of a leap of faith into God in order to quench the angst. How is this leap of faith informed? Kierkegaard says that this is "by the absurd" because the criteria of rationality is left behind.

This Christian cure through a leap of faith (absurd and without rationality) may be so but the same is also possible through any other religion and also through agnosticism and atheism. For example, Buddhist meditation is currently being advocated by psychologists as a means of reducing stress and depression. If Kierkegaard's "leap of faith "by the absurd" lacks the criteria of rationality it is also an equally valid leap of faith to jump into Woden, Thor, Zeus, Shive , Vishnu, etc. The leap of faith works for all religions and not only Christianity.

Then there is the empirical fact that atheists and agnostics can have the same level of angst as Christians. It is also a fact that many atheists and agnostcs find no "God shaped hole in the heart" but live quite well without ever bothering about God and are not compelled to seek God at all.

Becoming a Christian does not necessarily eliminate all angst. The only true cure of existential angst is one's death as all humans experience angst of some sort.

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 5 - Assumptions about the human need for holy books and why such things are central to religions



Strata 5. Assumptions about the human need for holy books and why such things are central to religions.

Why are holy books so central to religions? They help to suppress any variation of thought and codify the rules of the community that believes them. One can judge an outsider by whether they conform to the ideas within the book or not. It is way of dividing between Us and Them and negating the Other.

What is written is supposed be a closed canon which the author does not intend to be added to by another. However this is not what actually happens. For example, texts were added to original Hindu Vedas which modified previous beliefs such as the Bhagavad Gita.

The same has happened in the development of Christianity. We have a graduation of new books added as new ideas develop:
A - 10 commandments
add
B - The Law
which is modified and / or explained by
C- The Prophets
which is again modified and / or explained by
D - Paul's lettters
which is again modified and / or explained by
E - Mark's gospel
which is again modified and / or explained by
F - Matthew and Luke's gospels
which is again modified and / or explained by
G - John's gospel
which is again modified and / or explained by
H - The NT forgeries
which is again modified and / or explained by
H - Revelation (new idea about Jesus)
which is again modified and / or explained by
I - The Book of Mormon and / or the Qu'ran

There is another problem that every step above has also been edited and changed by others. The editors have also helped to modify and explain and have left their footprints in the texts. Some books are also forgeries written by people pretending to be famous bible characters. Others are anonymous works. Therefore every verse and or phrase in these books must be looked at on its own merit as the demarcation between the original author and / or the editors and/ or the forgers is not always clear.

At each step the previous written document is seen as replaced or better explained by the new one written or the new edited version.
At each step value judgements are made as to the whether the documents, phrases, sentences and ideas are true or false and authentic or inauthentic.
Readers who are evangelical Christians you probably already made a value judgement with the Book of Mormon, yet there are those people who call themselves Christian and Mormons who value it.  They have have probably likewise already made a value judgement with the Qu'ran but there are Muslims that value it. If all claims are subjective and of equal value then their claim to the value of the Book of Mormon and / or Qu'ran must be accepted as equal to any Christian claim to the contrary. That is, of course, unless there is some objective criteria that is used to negate either as a book to be valued. However, the same objective criteria must also be used on every other step in the progession.

Christians like to think that their "new" testament has replaced the "old" testament. However Jews don't view it that way at all and see no need for a new testament as there was nothing wrong witgh the old testament that Jesus followed. They have made a value judgement on the New Testamemt scriptures. As Jesus was a Jew who followed Judaism and all his friends and apostles were likewise Jews who followed Judaism, why have Jews rejected Jesus' Judaism ? Or is it not Jesus' Judaism that they have rejected but the Gentile misinterpretation of Jesus' Judaism that has become modern Christainity that differs completely with Jesus' Judaism?

By what criteria is each modifcation or explanation valued as correct? How can it be verified by primary historical evidence (uncontested first hand material written or, next best, by an uncontested eyewitness) and archeological evidence apart from the bible and / or by scientific evidence?

Strata of Christian Belief - Strata 6 - Assumptions about items such as Jesus and other dogmas

Strata 6. Assumptions about items such as Jesus and other dogmas.

It is enough in this strata to recognise basic facts about the main supposed historic character around which Christianity revolves:
- There is no primary historical evidence (uncontested first hand material written by Jesus or, next best, by an uncontested eyewitness) and archeological evidence apart from the bible that Jesus ever existed.
- There is no scientific or medical evidence that Jesus is alive today.
- There is no scientific evidence that Jesus communicates with anyone today.
- All religious claims have value judgements made about them regarding whether they are true or false. This presupposes some criteria for judgement.

All truth claims are not of equal value - Christians never treat all claims as equal otherwise they would treat the claims of Satanism as equal with that of Christianity and warmly embrace it. One makes a judgement on such claims as true or false. By what crieria is that judgment made? In the the case of Christainity is mainly made upon dubious bible verses subjectively interpreted and unable to be verified or falsified. Empirical refutation / falsification is one of the most effective methods by which theories can be criticised.

Friday

Strata of Christian belief - Series - Introduction

This is the beginning of a series about the strata of Christian belief. In the next few posts I will be discussing each strata.

Starting at the top level are assumptions about dogmas to be believed regarding Christianity that are answered primarily by bible verses and views about bible verses.

Below that strata are assumptions about the value and authenticity of bible verses.

This is the deepest that clergy wish you to go. This is what is taught at theological colleges and all that you will learn in church but there is more.

Below that strata there are assumptions about items such as Jesus. It assumes that such a person lived and is still alive although many bible scholars doubt he ever did exist and there is no medical or scientific evidence that he is alive today. Unless you have the assumption that Jesus lived and is still alive then you cannot function in the top two layers with bible verses and dogmas about Jesus. There are many such asumptions made of a historical and scientific nature on thousand of items which lie outside the realm of theology.

Below that strata are assumptions about the human need for holy books and why such things are central to religions.

Below that strata are assumptions about need for God and the so called " God-shaped hole in one's heart".

Below that strata are the primary assumptions made about God and philosophic investigations of God (not tied to dogmas or theology).

Below that strata are assumptions about the human psyche /soul / spirit and its nature and function tying in both philosophy and psychology.

Below that strata are assumptions about being and the whole field of ontology.

These strata are explored through theology, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, science, psychology, etc and are not the sole role of theologians or clergy.


REVERSE STRATA - How the dogmas of Christianity are built ....

1st. Assumptions about being and the whole field of ontology.

2nd. Assumptions about the human psyche /soul / spirit and its nature and function tying in both philosophy and psychology.

3rd. Assumptions made about God and philosophic investigations of God (not tied to dogmas or theology).

4th. Assumptions about need for God and the so called " God-shaped hole in one's heart".

5th. Assumptions about the human need for holy books and why such things are central to religions.

6th. Assumptions about items such as Jesus and other dogmas.

For each assumption value judgements are made about whether they are true or false. All claims are not considered equal. It is my assertion that most claims made by Christians, in defending Christianity, are based mainly upon the subjective interpretation of bible verses ( and ultimately neverending circular reasoning based upon bible verses) without external verification and that such claims, by their very nature, are not open to falsification. They must thus be held as suspect for similar claims can also be made of any religion or nonbelief. Christian apologetics is thus, in fact, a type of pseudo-science - a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status. It is often characterised by the use of vague, exaggerated or unprovable claims, an over-reliance on confirmation rather than rigorous attempts at refutation, a lack of openness to evaluation by other experts, and a general absence of systematic processes to rationally develop theories. Christians like to place revelation, theology, and spirituality as beyond empirical enquiry (and not a science) and thus water it down to nothing more than a subjective choice that is equally valid for any other religion or nonbelief. 

Wednesday

Dare to know "Sapere Aude"- Dare to use your God-given mind


Jesus Hates You This I Know

Jesus hates you, this I know
'cause the Bible tells me so
And on this we all agree
Jesus hates you more than me
Yes, Jesus hates you
Yes, Jesus hates you
Yes, Jesus hates you
He told me so himself

* Obviously the Trew Kristyun Fundy Verson.

Jesus said to love your neighbour. The way to get around this as a Christian is to reinterpret who your neighbour is. Your neighbour suddenly does not include anyone who disbelieves your dogma or your bible - including homosexuals and Muslims. They are reinterpreted as enemies and not neighbours. Neighbours are only those you get along with and think like you do. You therefore have justification for not loving anyone who disagrees with you. There are a lot of Old Testament verses that will be able to tell you how to treat an enemy. In Joshua you just kill the whole lot of them - men. women, children, babies, elderly - in a genocide so that they never have the chance to adversely influence you or your family or future generations. God supposedly told Joshua to commit genocide therefore it is a good moral and ethical action.

Tertullian said the heathen remarked, “See how the Christians love one another.” The same cannot be said today.

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." - Mahatma Gandhi

HOW does God communicate to humans?

Many Christians say that God's "dialogue" consists of Yes / No / Maybe demonstrated in life experience. That doesn't seem like much of a dialogue and works equally well for the pagan gods who answer exactly in the same manner. Others say that God metaphorically "speaks" to them in their "spirit" (spirit = mind = soul = psyche) as an intutition. We have intuitions about people we personally know in real life but those intutitions are not dialogue with those people and do not constitute having a "personal relationship" with those people ( like the "personal relationship"one is supposed to have with jesus as a Christian). Others say that they speak for God but God always sounds remarkably like the person and has the same prejudices. Others say that God speaks through the bible. How does God speak through a book with multiple editors, contradictions, errors, forgeries, fictions and man-made dogmas? Some say that God speaks to their heart / spirit though both mean mind in the Hebrew and Greek. Is this through ideas? How do we know which idea is from God which is from self, Satan, Thor or Woden or some other god?

It would seem to me that if God can speak to humans then he would do so in an unambigious clear way that could be easily detected and investigated by all people. That is not the case. It would also seem to me that God would answer questions of utmost importance (like a cure for cancer) and not dwell on minor unimportant details. That also is not the case. If something is true then it must be internally coherent and externally verifiable with facts. God's speaking to humans is not like that at all. Whatever God's communication is , it is not very clear and unambigiuous.

If God speaks then how does one learn about Jesus without reading a bible or hearing an evangelist. It should be possible to find out about Jesus solely and only thorough God speaking to you. That is impossible.

Paul said that it was possibe to know God through the things that God created (Romans 1). Paul was wrong. This is the Causal / Cosmological Argument. It fails because:
- It establishes nothing whatever about the deity's characteristics. it works equally well for Thor, Zeus and Woden.
- It leads to an infinite regress. Who created God?
- It is an invalid argument from experience. How do we know everything has a cause.

As if to prove my point, Acts 1:26 says that the surviving apostles drew lots to decide who was going to be the apostle to replace Judas. Why did God not speak directly to the apostles on such an important matter? The apostles used the same drawing of lots as was used in pagan temples to find out the will of the pagan gods. If God does not speak directly to apostles on such an important matter then why do we think he will speak to us directly on unimportant matters? Do we need to draw lots as the pagans did?

This is about basic epistemology concerning God. It is that which no Christian dares speak about. It can be seen in the paucity of material on this matter. It is the script for Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"- God is silent. I quote from the scene with Death at the Confessional:

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KNIGHT: Is it so cruelly inconceivable to grasp God with the senses? Why should he hide himself in a mist of half-spoken promises and unseen miracles? .... I want knowledge, not faith, not suppositions, but knowledge. I want God to stretch out His hand towards me, reveal himself and speak to me.

DEATH: But He remains silent.

KNIGHT: I call out to Him in the dark but no-one sems to be there.

DEATH: Perhaps no-one is there.

KNIGHT: Then life is an outrageous horror. ... The sun is high in sky and I, Antonius Block, am playing chess with Death.

From Ingmar Bergman "The Seventh Seal & Wild Strawberries: 2 Film Scripts" (Faber&Faber:1991) pp 27-29
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Watch the scene from Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT2qRdffNik

Saturday

The very real problems associated with Theodicy

One can only solve the problem by taking away one of the characteristiocs of God.