• God lied or knowingly deceived

    Another little piece from my friend Julian Haydon. This one succinctly documents the issue that God seems to have entirely changed his revelation and theological scenario, if you will, from the OT to the NT. The same can be said for the soul, heaven and hell:

    GOD LIED

    OR KNOWINGLY DECEIVED

    WHICH IS THE SAME THING

    If the Trinity, consisting of three persons–father, son, and holy ghost–existed from all eternity, as the orthodox Christian creeds (Apostles’ and Nicene) clearly teach, why didn’t this triune God reveal himself as such to Abraham at the very beginning, thereby eliminating the need for Judaism as a “preparation” for Christianity?

    Even more puzzling, why did this triune God give the Jews a false conception of himself (that he is one) and conceal his true nature as the eternal father of Christ (the eternally begotten son) through the entire Old Testament?

    The fact the Judaism was based on a monotheistic idea of God whereas Christianity was based on a Trinitarian idea of God (who had been a Trinity of persons from all eternity) reveals that both religions were man made and not divinely revealed.

    A truthful Old Testament revelation would have been Trinitarian, so Jewish monotheism would never have existed.

    Category: God's CharacteristicsHoly SpiritJesus

    Tags:

    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

    • Vandy Beth Glenn

      Is there much Biblical support for Trinitarianism, or was that concept imposed by the RCC later? I seem to recall that some early Christian sects were not Trinitarian, and that Ralph Waldo Emerson became a Unitarian after he was unable to find Biblical evidence for the Trinitarian position.

      • This is precisely the case. The only proof given for the HS in the OT is the old nephesh breath of God malarkey, which is utterly tenuous at best, and Jesus is simply wholly absent.

        • Vandy Beth Glenn

          Wait, what are you saying is “precisely the case”? What I thought I was saying is that the Bible (either testament) doesn’t make the case for the Trinity at all, and that it’s a concept the RCC thought of later.

    • greg

      I think God was thinking more along the lines of “You can’t handle the whole Truth!” back in the old days. This doesn’t mean He necessarily lied. He just presented limited, and different, perspectives on a much more complicated reality. Or perhaps more correctly, the people who wrote the Old and New Testaments could only understand limited, and different perspectives on a much more complicated reality. To use a mathematical analogy, in the Old Testament He presented the Square, in the New Testament He presented the Cube, and, in Revelations, promises the full Tesseract.

      • josh

        So for all you know God isn’t a Trinity at all. Bring on full polytheism I say! Of course, why God would create people who could only understand a lie is rather unclear.

        • greg

          Couple things: First, man probably had to grow into being able to understand the whole truth. And, maybe not everyone would be able to handle it. Maybe they just don’t want to. Knowing the whole Truth may not come cheaply.

          • I hear this kind of thing a lot with Christians, such as with slavery. The idea that people couldn’t handle the notion that slavery was bad, and that it took thousands of years till the enlightenment to understand this, so god just worked with what he had, and operated within that paradigm. It’s BS, frankly.

            For eg, we know that Cyrus the Great abolished slavery briefly, that in the 3rdC BCE Ashoka abolished slave trade in the Maurya Empire, in 221-6BCE the Qin Dynasty abolished slavery, in 17CE Wang Mang again abolished slavery etc

            So that people couldn’t ‘get it’ is nonsense. People were plenty complex enough. The Bible was merely a codification of prevailing parochial thought. And such rationalisations are utterly ad hoc.

            • greg

              Well, I don’t know. I don’t think they had quite as much math back in the old days. That’s not (entirely) a joke. Another thing is that ‘prevailing thought’ can take centuries to work out of, and very often new paradigms are rejected, over and over. And third, new truths are emotionally, psychologically, and socially unpalatable, at least until you overcome these barriers and learn to think and practice thinking in the new paradigm. The old paradigm ‘explains things’ in an ‘intuitive’ manner, while the new one does not, until you work out the originally ‘unintuitive’ consequences. This is especially the case regarding so called ‘truths about God,’ in which I would say most people have an enormous emotional, psychological, and social investment. It is not just about a distant ‘god,’ but often the individual’s very sense of identity.

              As for the particular issue of slavery, we may never be free of it. Even today, there are many people who hate other people’s liberties, and act to try to take those liberties away. Just follow the Republicans. Virtually their every act is informed by this hatred. And Libertarians, for instance, go on about how they are against ‘nominal’ slavery, while their principles, if pursued to their logical conclusions, would result in the de facto enslavement of most of humanity, because the control of all assets would be in the hands of a very few.

              There are, I believe, certain ‘limitations of liberty’ principles: People surrender some liberties to get others. And at least some of your liberties are at the expense of other people’s liberties. It may even go a bit further: There is only so much liberty to be had, although I personally believe this to be maximized when it is roughly equally distributed.

            • Luke Breuer

              Gregory of Nyssa, c. 335 – c. 395:

              Gregory was also one of the first Christian voices to say that slavery as an institution was inherently sinful.[61] He believed that slavery violated mankind’s inherent worth, and the nature of humanity to be free. In Homilies on Ecclesiastes, he wrote: “‘I got me slave-girls and slaves.’ For what price, tell me? What did you find in existence worth as much as this human nature? What price did you put on rationality? How many obols did you reckon the equivalent of the likeness of God? How many staters did you get for selling that being shaped by God? God said, Let us make man in our own image and likeness. If he is in the likeness of God, and rules the whole earth, and has been granted authority over everything on earth from God, who is his buyer, tell me? Who is his seller? To God alone belongs this power; or, rather, not even to God himself. For his gracious gifts, it says, are irrevocable. God would not therefore reduce the human race to slavery, since he himself, when we had been enslaved to sin, spontaneously recalled us to freedom. But if God does not enslave what is free, who is he that sets his own power above God’s?”[62]

          • nonchai

            So humanity could STILL be in an infancy period in which the TRUE deity has chosen to let his creatures believe false theologies such as christianity , judaism, islam , Hinduism etc and ( but ) one day the TRUTH will be revealed.

            For all we know – god might have very good, benevolent and logically necessary reasons unknown and inaccessible to us mere – less-than-cognitively-and-epistemically-optimal-humans for letting humanity carry on believing in all manner of totally false religions, and to treat personal religious experiences as being veridical of the particular religion they were born or converted into – even if those beliefs are actually all BS.

            By your tactic ( and all apologists that use Skeptical Theism to defend against the POE ) atheists AND any theist that does not buy into any religion claiming revelation are BOTH justified in rejecting christianity as utterly bogus and “of man”.

          • Andy_Schueler

            Couple things: First, man probably had to grow into being able to understand the whole truth.

            Ok, lets grant that in OT times, people wouldn´t have been able to understand the triune nature of God. Would that have been a reason to not reveal this information to the OT writers? No, because no one in NT times or today understands the trinity either – all metaphors that would make the trinity intelligible have been declared heresies and the RCC now simply resorts to calling this contradictory mess an “ineffabble mystery”.
            In other words, if our inability to understand the trinity was a reason to not reveal it in the OT, then it also should not have been revealed in the NT.

            Knowing the whole Truth may not come cheaply.

            “Whole truth” implies that the OT conception of God does not contradict the NT conception of God, but rather that the OT conception is an approximation of the NT conception. Well, you can try asking a Rabbi what he thinks of the idea that his conception of God is an approximation of the christian trinity ;-)

            • greg

              I consider God to be a high dimensional being. Low dimensional descriptions will be fragmentary and contradictory, especially if you have *no* clue what you are describing. Consider the parable of the blind men and the elephant. Not one blind man lied. All but one rejected the information provided by the others, and came to a false conclusion. Yet we can imagine each blind man writing his ‘Holy Book of the Truth of Elephants,’ including perhaps passages calling for the death of heretics and non-believers.

              The ‘triune’ description of God I think is also low dimensional. As for it not being in the OT, why would it? Imagine writing a paper on something you do not understand. It would probably be rejected by the publisher. It took 400 years for the RCC to sort out its doctrine from what was actually written in the NT. The RCC interpretation of the NT allows for *one* man-ifestation of God in the history of the world.whereas the OT did not allow for even that.

              A mathematical analogy would be Jesus was a 3 dimensional face of God, an n dimensional polytope, where n is very large. There is no reason to suppose God has projected, or projects, only one 3-face into the world.

            • Andy_Schueler

              The ‘triune’ description of God I think is also low dimensional. As for it not being in the OT, why would it? Imagine writing a paper on something you do not understand.

              So why was it fine to write something about a concept that no one understands in the NT while this was not fine for the OT? The trinity is by definition impossible to understand (an “ineffable mystery”), so if a lack of understanding was a vaild reason for the OT authors to not write about it, then the NT authors also should not have written about it.

              A mathematical analogy would be Jesus was a 3 dimensional face of God, an n dimensional polytope, where n is very large.

              That is a rather unorthodox conception of “God”. In classical theism, God transcends space, which means that he cannot have any spatial expansion and thus also cannot be “dimensional”. And God in classical theism is also thought to be metaphysically simple (i.e. having no parts) and thus also cannot be “n-dimensional” for a non-literal meaning of “dimensional” where the “dimensions” would refer to something non-spatial.

            • greg

              There is the evidence, which God provides. And the interpretation of that evidence, which is what is written down by men, and limited by their prior understandings. The OT and the NT are both interpretations of evidence, which many mistake *as* evidence. As for the nature of God, certainly it can never be fully understood. But to say we cannot gain some understanding of the nature of God is to condemn ourselves to darkness and ignorance. As for the God of classical theism, so says *one* of the blind men about the elephant. I do not reject this, but neither do I bind my thought to it.

            • Andy_Schueler

              There is the evidence, which God provides. And the interpretation of that evidence, which is what is written down by men, and limited by their prior understandings.

              The question is: assuming that God is triune (or that the trinity is a better approximation of God´s nature than jewish monotheism), why was information about the triune nature of God revealed to the NT writers but not to the OT writers? You proposed the explanation that “man probably had to grow into being able to understand the whole truth” – but no one understands what the trinity is supposed to mean anyway and it is actually by definition impossible to understand, so this explanation does not work, because the NT writers were exactly as clueless about the trinity as the OT authors would have been.

              As for the nature of God, certainly it can never be fully understood. But to say we cannot gain some understanding of the nature of God is to condemn ourselves to darkness and ignorance.

              The main problem I see here is that theology has no method. If two people have a different understanding of what God´s nature is, then there is no method to decide which understanding is the more accurate one. Example: how do you know that the NT conception of God is more accurate than the OT one / how do you know that it is not exactly the other way around? And how do you know that the Bible has anything at all to say about the nature of God? Maybe the Hindus have it right and the actual divine trinity corresponds to Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer.There is no method to decide whether any of those understandings is more or less accurate then any other understanding of what “God” is, its basically nothing but personal preference.

            • greg

              Are you familiar with the parable about the blind men and the elephant?
              You don’t seem to be, and if that is so, I suggest you Google it. I will spell out the equivalencies:
              Blind men = Promulgators of various religious dogmas.
              Elephant = God.

            • Andy_Schueler

              I´m familiar with it, but I see absolutely no relevance to the points I made – that:
              a) the NT writers do not understand the trinity just like no one else understands it (because it is by definition impossible to understand) and that they thus should not have written about it if a lack of understanding was a valid reason to not write about it for the OT authors, as you say.
              b) that theology has no method to evaluate whether a given understanding of God actually has anything whatsoever to do with what God is like and whether it is a more accurate understanding than a different understanding of God.

            • greg

              a) Considering the trinity is ‘impossible to understand,’ much has been written about it: You might start with ‘Trinity’ in the Wikipedia.

              b)From “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe(1816-1887)

              Original tale from India.
              ….
              And so these men of Indostan
              Disputed loud and long,
              Each in his own opinion
              Exceeding stiff and strong,
              Though each was partly in the right,
              And all were in the wrong!

              Moral

              So oft in theologic wars,
              The disputants, I ween,
              Rail on in utter ignorance
              Of what each other mean,
              And prate about an Elephant
              Not one of them has seen!

              “Though each was partly in the right,
              And all were in the wrong!” Got that?

            • Andy_Schueler

              a) Considering the trinity is ‘impossible to understand,’ much has been written about it: You might start with ‘Trinity’ in the Wikipedia.

              1. then please go ahead and explain what the trinity means without either a) blatantly contradicting yourself or b) claiming that the trinity is impossible to understand / an ineffable mystery or anything along that line.
              2. Again, why did the OT authors not write about the trinity then? If you want to say that people first had to “grow” or “understand more” – which relevant concept here was not understood by the OT authors but was understood by the NT authors?

              “Though each was partly in the right,
              And all were in the wrong!” Got that?

              I got you all along, but you never address my points:
              a) how do you know that all of them were partly right? Maybe some were completely wrong, and maybe some were just making stuff up – how would you know?
              b) you insinuated earlier that the christian trinity is a better approximation of what God is like then classical jewish monotheism is, how do you know that? How do you know that it is not exactly the other way around? Or generally, how could you possibly know whether any given conception of God is more or less accurate than any other conception of God is?

            • greg

              Hi, Andy. I apologize for the delay in my response.

              I did not claim that *I* thought the trinity was impossible to understand, at least to an approximation. I will say that I regard the doctrine of the trinity to be a post hoc rationalization to justify calling Jesus ‘God .’ This does not mean it is false. As all partial truths, it is, of itself, misleading.

              The Jewish OT version of monotheism is also true. There is
              no reason for it to be replaced. The trinity is just a different perspective. With both perspectives, there is a better, more accurate, but still incomplete, understanding of the true nature of God. With more and other perspectives, a still better understanding. But of course, it will always be incomplete.

              Some people cling to a leg of the elephant, call it a pillar, and claim that the elephant does not exist. Some people reject other people’s descriptions of the elephant, since they contradict their own. The principle of non-contradiction is dangerous and limiting when partial descriptions are mistaken for complete descriptions, as is the case with the blind men’s descriptions of the elephant.

              As is the case with any description of the universe. Or God.

              We are all subject to ‘serial confirmation bias,’ since our beliefs on truth are path dependent: What we come to believe is true depends on what we already believe is true. If we made a mistake in the past, unless we undo that mistake, we will be mistaken in the future.

              The Truth itself, however, is not path dependent. Yet each person’s description of their pathis, in its way, true, even if the description differs from their actual experience.

              Every statement is true, from some perspectives. *And* false, from others.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Hi, Andy. I apologize for the delay in my response.

              No worries.

              The Jewish OT version of monotheism is also true. There is
              no reason for it to be replaced. The trinity is just a different perspective. With both perspectives, there is a better, more accurate, but still incomplete, understanding of the true nature of God. With more and other perspectives, a still better understanding.

              How do you know any of this?

              Some people cling to a leg of the elephant, call it a pillar, and claim that the elephant does not exist. Some people reject other people’s descriptions of the elephant, since they contradict their own. The principle of non-contradiction is dangerous and limiting when partial descriptions are mistaken for complete descriptions, as is the case with the blind men’s descriptions of the elephant.

              To stay in your metaphor, imagine there are three blind men – Tom, Dick and Harry. Tom investigated the Elephant very varefully from all angles and, despite being blind, got a very good impression of what the elephant must look like. Dick just briefly touched the elephants leg and knows next to nothing about what the elephant looks like. Harry was not even in the same room as the elephant, but he still wants to join a conversation about the elephant and so just makes up a description of it – a description that has absolutely nothing to do with what the elephant is actually like. In this example, Harry´s description is useless because it was just made up based on no actual information about the elephant and Tom´s description is the most accurate one because he was the only one who investigated the elephant carefully from multiple angles. So my question is: how would you know this? Your approach seems to be that the three descriptions by Tom, Dick and Harry must be a) ALL true to at least some extent and b) all EQUALLY true. However, this might not be the case and it is trivial to come up with an example where it is not the case – how do you know that it is not like that with descriptions of God?

              Every statement is true, from some perspectives. *And* false, from others.

              Alright, then please tell me the respective perspective from which the following statements are true:
              – “the planet earth has the shape of a flat disc”.
              – “the 35th President of the United States (JFK) was murdered by the animated character Maggie Simpson”.
              – “no statement is true from any perspective.”

            • Fish

              Isn’t there reference to more than 1 being in the OT? Genesis 1: 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:
              and Genesis 1:2 …And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

              Are these references to the Holy Spirit?

            • Hi there.

              No, this is reference to the council of the gods as the are moved and evolved from polytheism to monotheism. The OT has many references to this (Asherah, Ba’al etc and Yahweh’s assimilation of them).

              I talk about this a little bit here:

              http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2014/03/14/the-problem-with-yahweh-2/

        • Yes, on that logic of progressive revelation, we are on the way to further godheads being revealed, or more gods!

          • greg

            Exactly. Why should God limit Himself to one man-ifestation.

            But where would these manifestations come from? What intellectual and emotional barriers would the prospective god-head have to overcome? What price would He, or She, have to pay?

    • Daniel Engblom

      A title like God lying conjured up in my mind God saying that eating from the fruit of the tree of knowledge about good and evil would kill you, and then the lovely soap-opera drama monologue of God fearfully going through the conclusion that Adam & Eve could become as powerful as God, if they also had time to eat from the tree of life, so God kicked them out and put the whole flaming sword thing to guard the tree, to solidify his power.
      It was such a clear story demonstrating the deceitful nature of God, it read like a drama about a dictator growing paranoid about his underlings usurping him there for a second.

    • Luke Breuer

      So it is a lie or deception that we had to learn F = ma before general relativity?

      • Tormented Wanderer

        Hey Luke, the artist formerly known as Void here. It’s been some time since last you ventured into the realm of Tippling Philosopher. Not much has changed, save for the fire drakes Jonathan purchased to protect the front gates.

        “So it is a lie or deception that we had to learn F = ma before general relativity?”

        By this are you implying that Gods nature is incredibly complex, and we’re only beginning to understand Him? If not, could you please elucidate?

        • Luke Breuer

          I like the new avatar. :-) Interesting nick; I guess “Tormented” is better than “Void”? You remind me of this:

          Every void (not accepted) produces hatred, sourness, bitterness, spite. The evil we wish for that which we hate, and which we imagine, restores the balance. (Gravity and Grace, 16)

          Anyhow, today I was bored and so I looked to see if Jonathan had posted anything interesting. He did, and I was avoiding doing what I probably should have been doing, so here I am.

          LB: So it is a lie or deception that we had to learn F = ma before general relativity?

          TM: By this are you implying that Gods nature is incredibly complex, and we’re only beginning to understand Him? If not, could you please elucidate?

          That’s the general idea. People can only learn so much per unit time. To expect more is to tell yourself lies. But, we can of course debate on what “so much per unit time” is.

          • Tormented Wanderer

            Thanks form the compliment. It’s a nice change from that ….well, evil face that I was using. :-p

            I changed my name to “Tormented Wanderer” to reflect how prior choices and ways of thinking led me to do and say some nasty things to good people. I feel tormented by past actions and negligence, if you will. There is always some from of respite waiting for those who would seek it out, but still. I feel like I was blind for about 5 years.

            “That’s the general idea. People can only learn so much per unit time. To expect more is to tell yourself lies. But, we can of course debate on what “so much per unit time” is.”

            Okay, groovy. At least I wasn’t dead wrong in my interpretation. I believe that many, many things in this life are quite similar to what you’re getting at with God. The trouble is, people can be so bloody impatient.

            • Luke Breuer

              :-)

              I was telling my pastor (a total nerd and scholar) that people are smart when it comes to life, dumb when it comes to Christianity. For example, when you learn a musical instrument, first you heed all the rules. You do your scales. You learn how to play exactly what the sheet music calls for. After a while, you start learning how you can bend the rules and still make beautiful music. This is the transition from ‘letter of the law’ → ‘spirit of the law’. But for some reason, when you move to Christian life, that obvious fact of how things works just flies out the window, and the dumb sets in. Sigh.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              “when you move to Christian life, that obvious fact of how things works just flies out the window, and the dumb sets in. Sigh.”

              I’ve found this to be true when it comes to the human will, as well (DARE I go here, on THIS blog?). One of my main issues with determinism is that it’s essentially a long list of assertions with no real evidential framework to support said assertions. A lot of really bold claims (such as the universe “playing” in the exact same way when “rewound” due to the exact same sets of causes), that are basically….well, as we touched on via email, unfalsifiable. That and your own bit about humans gaming the system to exploit and/or utilize the information they acquire is quite compelling.

              I not only went there on THIS blog, I found myself refraining from the tired Angry Atheist diatribe b.s so oft spewed.

            • Luke Breuer

              You might like this argument, on whether Reason can be derivable from the laws of nature, and simultaneously be a causally powerful arbiter of what is true and what is false. I’m not sure TT really gets what I’m arguing, but I think we’re making progress. It’s one of the most cordial and fun interactions I’ve had with him in a long time.

            • Would that be the Argument from Reason?

            • Luke Breuer

              Hmmm, from WP: Argument from reason § Criticisms:

              More recent critics have argued that Lewis’s argument refutes only strict forms of naturalism that seek to explain everything in terms ultimately reducible to physics or purely mechanistic causes. So-called “broad” naturalists that see consciousness as an “emergent” non-physical property of complex brains would agree with Lewis that different levels or types of causation exist in nature, and that rational inferences are not fully explainable by nonrational causes (Taliaferro 2010: 108).

              My argument deals with this explicitly. You have two options:

                   (A) laws governing fundamental particles determine laws of emergent systems
                   (B) wholly new causal laws can come into existence ex nihilo

              The difference is well-illustrated by Sean Carroll’s reductionist Downward Causation, in which he denies (B) in no uncertain terms:

              Downward causation, as I understand it, is an attempt to give some oomph to the claim that higher levels are not simply derived from lower levels.

              As far as I can see, ‘Reason’ must operate in ‘downward causation’-style. It must be able to “look at the whole”, like Aristotle and Bertrand Russell describe in pp1–2 of de Koninck’s The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science. It is only by “seeing the whole” that you can say that you’ve captured the whole! (Does Hegel enter here? I know very little about him.)

              This isn’t to say that ‘Reason’ cannot also employ basic logical operations. But basic logical operations do not “de-atomize” concepts. You need something like organic logic, else you can never make a division in thought. Our minds really do ‘separate’ ideas/​concepts, just like God is described as doing in Genesis 1. We break wholes into parts. Any good programmer knows this phenomenon in great detail. The binary chop is one of the most powerful tools in his/​her toolbox. The whole has to be broken into ‘atoms’, where what the ‘atoms’ are will vary from programming language to programming language.

              So I might be so bold as to suggest that I added something to C.S. Lewis’ argument, or at least clarified something, showing that a criticism of his argument is no criticism at all. But I’m really just in the beginnings of formulating this argument, so it could be unsalvageable, or it could need a lot of work. And so, I see if there’s anyone interested in working on it. :-)

            • Tormented Wanderer

              I’ll check it out, thanks!

            • Luke Breuer

              Oh, and I completely agree that unfalsifiability is a huge problem. What happens is that the thing which will ostensibly falsify CFW or determinism or whatever is so crazy and out of this world that it’s basically a proof that the person’s way of looking at reality is unfalsifiable. Real scientists can imagine up very believable circumstances which would falsify their theories.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Dude, come ON. What about rewinding the universe and claiming certainty that it would play out the EXACT same way is unalsifiable?? :-p Yeah, that was my attempt at humor for the day.

              But really, have you read that article I linked you to? The one attacking Sam Harris’ perspective wrt determinism? It touches on something that I believe is devastating to determinism.

            • Luke Breuer

              What about rewinding the universe and claiming certainty that it would play out the EXACT same way is unalsifiable?

              Maybe someday this will be possible, and the reason we can’t time-travel now is that we’d be irresponsible. :-p

              But really, have you read that article I linked you to? The one attacking Sam Harris’ perspective wrt determinism? It touches on something that I believe is devastating to determinism.

              No I need to read it. Had some really bad things happen this week, still reeling from them. Certain kinds of discussion online are soothing. Yeah, I debate people on the internet and find it soothing. Go me.

            • It’s how we roll. Hope all is well.

            • Luke Breuer

              All is, sadly, not well. A major US research institution has, in my judgment, grossly overestimated its competence in preventing student suicides on campus. And they gave the boot to someone who has a demonstrated track record in this realm, due to what is in my judgment, defamation of character. And I may have goofed in how I co-developed a recent strategy to reverse said expulsion. :-(

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Hey man, sorry for the delay.

              “Maybe someday this will be possible, and the reason we can’t time-travel now is that we’d be irresponsible. :-p”

              Isn’t that the truth? If time travel were ever feasible and possible, I can imagine countless ways in which humans would abuse it for personal gain. Quite sad, really.

              “No I need to read it. Had some really bad things happen this week, still reeling from them. Certain kinds of discussion online are soothing. Yeah, I debate people on the internet and find it soothing. Go me.”
              I’m sorry to hear that. Life can be a bitch, huh? I think what really defines us is how we react in those shittiest of moments. It can be so incredibly hard to maintain ones fortitude and strength in these moments, but if we manage to keep ourselves together fantastic things can be born from shit circumstances. Hang in there.

            • Luke Breuer

              Thanks for the kind words. Fortunately, anger can deployed as destructive or constructive power. I like the following snippet, even though it has excessive Jungian flowery language:

                  The endlessness of the Know Thyself opus is, in Jung’s language, a process of individuation. As it goes on, the heat increases. The later, spirit operations take precedence, those called distillation, volatilization, sublimation, and particularly what the alchemists call multiplication. While these operations intensify the power of the spirit, they also tend to break the psychic vessel and spill out into matter, action, society, politics, with the fervent urgency of prophesy and mission. With every increase of the spirit’s heat, there needs to be a corresponding increase of the soul’s capacity to contain it, to amplify within its inner sacral space. This space, the colourful and intricate carpet of the soul, its bordures and silks, is the vessel of the anima—nurturer, weaver, reflector. The conjunctio, here, is the contained spirit, this spirited, inspired containment. (Healing Fiction, 81)

              There have been many increases in my spirit’s heat. Indeed, I’m looking to threaten the health of an institution with an $2 billion endowment. The strategy is to get enough alumni angry that the integrity of their institution is deteriorating, and that this is avoidable with modest wisdom. This institution prides itself in being #1 in academics, but it’s clearly not that in taking care of its students. We’ll see if when that is exposed, and compared to standards it could strive toward are made clear, the alumni like where it is headed.

            • What article?

              The thing about determinism is that it makes most coherent sense of causality as a philosophical and logical ideal. It not only appears to be inductively supported in a way that some kind of indeterminism isn’t, but it, but is logically sound,too.

            • Luke Breuer

              Is determinism falsifiable? If so, how?

            • Sure, an indeterministic version of QM can be shown to be true.

            • Luke Breuer

              Do explain how I would figure out the difference between ultimate reality being deterministic vs. indeterministic. David Bohm didn’t think this is possible:

              The treatment of the indeterminacy principle as absolute and final can then be criticized as constituting an arbitrary restriction on scientific theories, since it does not follow from the quantum theory as such, but rather from the assumption of the unlimited validity of certain of its features, an assumption that can in no way ever be subjected to experimental proof. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, 47)

              He provides more reasoning I find convincing, which I could articulate. I could also bring in material from Bernard d’Espagnat’s In Search of Reality. But I’ll want you to make some positive arguments yourself, first. That’s only a fair intellectual exchange, no?

              N.B. “unlimited validity of certain[ty] of its features” is specifically dealing with the claim that QM is a complete theory. Is QM a complete theory? Note that saying that your theory is complete is an example of top-down reasoning; at this juncture I point you to Jonathan’s Top down or bottom up?, in which he concludes:

              At the end of the day, looking down on things is pretty arrogant, and assumes that you know best.

              We also have Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem, which states that for systems like QM, if you claim it is complete, then it is inconsistent, or you are arguing from a system outside of QM (that is not derived from it), in which case you are denying that QM is actually a complete system, a complete description of reality.

              Recall that Sean Carroll believes that the wavefunction is not just a picture of the thing—Ceci n’est pas une pipe.—but he believes it’s actually the thing. This, despite the fact that QM doesn’t deal with ontology:

                  In order to properly understand the nature of this argument, let us first derive from what has been recalled above the obvious lesson that (as already repeatedly noted) quantum mechanics is an essentially predictive, rather than descriptive, theory. What, in it, is truly robust is in no way its ontology, which, on the contrary, is either shaky or nonexistent. (On Physics and Philosophy, 148)

              Tisk, tisk. (long comment on realism vs. instrumentalism)

            • Do explain how I would figure out the difference between ultimate reality being deterministic vs. indeterministic. David Bohm didn’t think this is possible:

              I don’t know how you would figure it out, but to believe it isn’t possible would be to say that none of the views on QM can be shown to be true. I don’t know Bohm’s quote in context, but he seems to be criticizing the very view you hold. Bohmian mechanics is deterministic by the way.

              N.B. “unlimited validity of certain[ty] of its features” is specifically dealing with the claim that QM is a complete theory. Is QM a complete theory?

              We cannot be sure that QM is a complete theory, especially if string theory is true, as it would be more fundamental than QM.

              This, despite the fact that QM doesn’t deal with ontology:

              This is not so much a fact, as it is a view of QM. A view others disagree with.

            • Luke Breuer

              I don’t know how you would figure it out, but to believe it isn’t possible would be to say that none of the views on QM can be shown to be true.

              Yeah I call bullshit on your claim of falsifiability of determinism.

              I don’t know Bohm’s quote in context, but he seems to be criticizing the very view you hold. Bohmian mechanics is deterministic by the way.

              Nope:

              The assumption that any particular kind of fluctuations are arbitrary and lawless relative to all possible contexts, like the similar assumption that there exists an absolute and final determinate law, is therefore evidently not capable of being based on any experimental or theoretical developments arising out of specific scientific problems, but it is instead a purely philosophical assumption. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, 44)

              Bohm knows what is philosophical vs. empirical, apparently better than you do.

              This is not so much a fact, as it is a view of QM. A view others disagree with.

              It is a fact that nothing of empirical value has come out of positing an ontology behind QM.

            • Yeah I call bullshit on your claim of falsifiability of determinism.

              You’re then saying that none of the views on QM can be shown to be true. How do you know this?

              I read this blog post recently called Farewell to determinism, which is nicely written and claims to have falsified determinism. It’s a bit technical, and I cannot summarize it here, but if the claims are true, it seems that this would provide a falsification of determinism.

              Bohm knows what is philosophical vs. empirical, apparently better than you do.

              Are you saying you know for a fact that no advancement in technology will ever be able to give us experimental proof? I’m not betting on that idea.

              It is a fact that nothing of empirical value has come out of positing an ontology behind QM.

              That’s a different claim than before. You said QM “doesn’t deal with ontology”. That’s bullshit. If the MWI is shown to be true, it certainly deals with ontology. If the de Broglie–Bohm view is true, it certainly deals with ontology. And so on. QM, GR, SR, all deal with ontology.

              You’re also confusing “hasn’t yet” with “never will”.

            • Luke Breuer

              You’re then saying that none of the views on QM can be shown to be true. How do you know this?

              Read the first 20% of Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery. We’re done talking about falsificationism, and anything related to it, until you demonstrate some basic competency in this realm. Clearly you don’t trust that what I say might be true; that’s fine. I require that you read one of the great philosophers of science, or that you resign yourself to steering clear of anything that gets near falsificationism, in our discussions, as judged by me. Your choice.

              Are you saying you know for a fact that no advancement in technology will ever be able to give us experimental proof? I’m not betting on that idea.

              This is my suspicion, and it is philosophical suspicion, not a scientific one. For obvious reasons.

              LB: It is a fact that nothing of empirical value has come out of positing an ontology behind QM.

              TT: That’s a different claim than before. You said QM “doesn’t deal with ontology”. That’s bullshit.

              I meant the “of empirical value” version. I’m well-aware of having models that have yet to be solidly tested by the evidence. That’s a lot of the theology I do. However, when it’s theology, you mock it, while when it’s ontology behind QM, you laud it. The asymmetry is glorious.

              You’re also confusing “hasn’t yet” with “never will”.

              Alternatively, your ability to charitably interpret is terrible. But hey, you had to win some points in this conversation, and you found a way. When are you having the party? Five points to Hufflepuff!

            • Read the first 20% of Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

              I’ll look into it. You wouldn’t by chance know where I can get a free version would you?

              Clearly you don’t trust that what I say might be true; that’s fine.

              I’m also a bit skeptical of philosophers writing a hundred years ago on what can never be verified/falsified.

              That’s a lot of the theology I do. However, when it’s theology, you mock it, while when it’s ontology behind QM, you laud it. The asymmetry is glorious.

              That’s because theology has no track record of success like science does. There’s no comparison.

              Alternatively, your ability to charitably interpret is terrible. But hey, you had to win some points in this conversation, and you found a way. When are you having the party? Five points to Hufflepuff!

              Poor Luke Breuer is never understood. It can’t possibly be your poor communication skills.

            • Luke Breuer

              I’ll look into it. You wouldn’t by chance know where I can get a free version would you?

              No, sadly not. But it’s one of the classics. If you want to talk intelligently about the philosophy of science, you have to at least have read Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Maybe Michael Friedman’s Dynamics of Reason, too. I took a history of the philosophy of science course at Caltech in ~2008 and those were the three books we used.

              P.S. Is there no public library near you? I get a lot of books from my library. I currently have 28 checked out, and have been up to 46. Now, it does have a wonderful interlibrary loan system, with many nearby colleges and universities. But perhaps there is one near you that does, as well.

              I’m also a bit skeptical of philosophers writing a hundred years ago on what can never be verified/falsified.

              Popper is talking about the philosophy of falsification, which is different from what can or cannot be falsified. Incidentally, you may find Luboš Motl on what would falsify string theory to be interesting, including the comments.

              That’s because theology has no track record of success like science does. There’s no comparison.

              I’ve argued that success actually can be seen; some books:

              • Joshua A. Berman’s Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought
              • Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Justice: Rights and Wrongs
              • Otto Borchert’s The Original Jesus
              • David Bentley Hart’s Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies
              • Jacques Ellul’s The Subversion of Christianity
              • Yoram Hazony’s The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture
              • Keith Ward’s The Case for Religion
              • Keith Ward’s Is Religion Dangerous?
              • William T. Cavanaugh’s The Myth of Religious Violence: Secular Ideology and the Roots of Modern Conflict

              Why don’t you expose the full amount of evidence (including history) that you’ve actually examined, so that the reader knows that when you say “no track record”, they know how much authority—or how little authority—is behind those words? Spill the beans. Prove you know what you’re talking about, or admit that you don’t.

              Poor Luke Breuer is never understood. It can’t possibly be your poor communication skills.

              Given that you don’t seem to understand Gregory W. Dawes’ Theism and Explanation, which is argued very carefully, I’m beginning to think that the problem really is more you. I’m so glad that you’re reading a book in the Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Religion series. If you recall, I have cited Evan Fales’ Divine Intervention: Metaphysical and Epistemological Puzzles quite a few times. Apparently, a requirement for these books is that they be accessible to laypeople but also be very rigorously argued.

              But hey, you’re welcome to follow Adam and Eve in the buck-passing. “It’s her fault!” “It’s his fault!” “It’s the molecules’ fault!” And on, and on, and on it goes. Where it stops? Well, perhaps God knows, perhaps he doesn’t. Depends on your model of God, of course.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Just got a new computer, sorry for the delayed reply.

              Lost the link for the article, but the gist of it is that the brand of free will that Harris is attacking is not the variety that your average person even believes that they possess. He’s essentially attacking a straw man (read Why Science Has Not Disproved Free Will for more on this). Try googling “Why Sam Harris is wrong about free will” and you may just find the article in question.

              “The thing about determinism is that it makes most coherent sense of causality as a philosophical and logical ideal.”

              Therefore determinism is valid? It presumes so very, very much (such as linear causation) and, as Luke and I pointed out, it’s apparently unfalsifiable (which is a problem, by the way!). Basically, it’s presupposition laced and empirically bankrupt, IMO.

              Often you cite certain behavioral tendencies /predilections as evidence for determinism, but the big problem with this is that, in most cases, bringing awareness of the aforementioned predilections to people gives them an opportunity, through such lucidity, to change their thinking, the way they act and react, etc. So….I think you can tell where I’m going with this.

              It took me several hours of lectures on determinism, 3 books (including yours) and a lot of time spent thinking deeply to reach a powerful conclusion: determinism is ill evidenced and remarkably presumptuous at it’s core. It may make logical sense (I stress “may”), but it fails the most important test there is: a coherent evidential framework.

            • I was wondering about you today, and here you are…

            • Tormented Wanderer

              I’ve changed, yes, but I’m no Jebus freak. :-p

            • Tormented Wanderer

              So I suppose that we don’t share as many commonalities now, but I still dig your blog and arguments against the big C.

            • “Lost the link for the article, but the gist of it is that the brand of free will that Harris is attacking is not the variety that your average person even believes that they possess.”

              II would disagree with you about this. I have given a good number of public talks on free will, and I usually blow joe blogg’s mind because that is exactly the brand of free will normal people have. It is only academics who have a more refined understanding.

              As I say, if you define free will in such a way, then I would be a compaitibilist as opposed to a hard incompatibilist. This is whay in the “Moving Naturalism Forward” series, Dennett was asked what he could call free will and he admitted it would be something like conscious volition of a morally competent entity (or something, by memory)

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Allow me to clarify what it is that I currently believe.

              I believe that, largely due to the incredibly sophisticated level of awareness that humans possess, we can essentially map out multiple possible courses of action given the proper circumstances (a lucid state of mind, no intoxication of any form, no tumors, etc etc) and deliberate among them, weighing the pros and cons of the paths fathomed, then choosing which one to stroll down. I still grant that causation plays a crucial role in decision making, but to presume that said causes determine, in advance, which course a person will take is frankly ill evidenced drivel.

              Why must a cause have only one possible effect? Why must we simply assume such things without an empirical back bone to support them? Philosophy only gets you so far. When it comes to the human will, hard evidence is the deciding factor. And guess what? There’s absolutely none in favor of determinism. Again, you should read Free. It gets into this. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/free-9780199371624?cc=us&lang=en&

              “Also, what about its antithesis? What would contra-causality look like and how would it be evidenced?”
              Back up, man. I never claimed that I was a contra-causalist (I’m aware that’s not a word by the way, but it’s fitting!). As mentioned prior, I grant causation. The demarcation between us is that I don’t think causes, when applied to the human will, *determine* our actions. We possess a level of awareness that seemingly allows us to override certain cognitive processes and alter our paths in life at the drop of a hat. Again, causation need not imply complete determinism. I see no logic behind this.
              So, what of humans gaming any system they are presented with? And also, would you say that determinism is potentially falsifiable? If you concur, then how would one go about falsifying it?
              Cheers

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Would you care to reply to my questions?

              Also, this 80-20 problem strikes me as somewhat of an oversimplification of something incredibly complex (in this case, human decision making).
              And, much as I hate to do this…I’m with the Christian dude (Luke). His reply on that thread seems quite cogent.

            • “There’s absolutely none in favor of determinism.”

              Whoah there. Every bit of science ever done, from physics to social science to genetics to psychology is observing cause and effect.

              “A psychology that doesn’t accept causes of behaviour or the possibility of prediction is no psychology at all.” – Baer, Kaufman and Baumeister.

              You literally couldn’t be further from the point.

              But what evidences your position?

              “I still grant that causation plays a crucial role in decision making, but to presume that said causes determine, in advance, which course a person will take is frankly ill evidenced drivel.”

              I simply cannot make sense of this. You are either a contra-causalist or an indeterminist of random grounding. Things happen for a reason or they don’t.

              Schopenhauer: A man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              “Whoah there. Every bit of science ever done, from physics to social science to genetics to psychology is observing cause and effect.”

              Therefore determinism is valid? I’m not seeing it, sorry. Cause and effect relationships in, say, astronomy are a FAR cry from those same relationships within the human brain. And, once again, I never said that I’ve done away with causation. I’m talking about the human brain, dude. Not celestial bodies. For the love of pete, read Free.

              “A psychology that doesn’t accept causes of behaviour or the possibility of prediction is no psychology at all.”

              Uhm….yeah. I’m aware that human minds aren’t mystical essences in violation of causation. But human beings can also be VERY unpredictable, dynamic, malleable creatures. That’s all that I’m getting at. We’ve no need to toss out causation in order to believe that our decision making is as malleable as the rest of our cognitive faculties.

              “I simply cannot make sense of this. You are either a contra-causalist or an indeterminist of random grounding. Things happen for a reason or they don’t.”
              So that’s it, then? Either-or? This strikes me as a very limited way of perceiving things. I don’t have a name for what I am, yet. So what? You didn’t really know about determinism when you had your aha moment. You didn’t really have a name for it, in fact. So does that mean that your belief was invalid from the outset?

            • “Therefore determinism is valid? I’m not seeing it, sorry. Cause and effect relationships in, say, astronomy are a FAR cry from those same relationships within the human brain. And, once again, I never said that I’ve done away with causation. I’m talking about the human brain, dude. Not celestial bodies. For the love of pete, read Free”

              Your use of valid is iffy. It is certainly sound. Why are cause and effect relationships any different in the brain than any other things in the universe? This is special pleading with no evidence to support it.

              “But human beings can also be VERY unpredictable, dynamic, malleable creatures. That’s all that I’m getting at. We’ve no need to toss out causation in order to believe that our decision making is as malleable as the rest of our cognitive faculties.”

              That’s because the human brain is the most complex thing in the known universe. We can’t even predict the weather, but eater is deterministic. This is chaos theory. You are making a category error based on mere size. Argument from incredulity.

              “So that’s it, then? Either-or? This strikes me as a very limited way of perceiving things. I don’t have a name for what I am, yet. So what? You didn’t really know about determinism when you had your aha moment. You didn’t really have a name for it, in fact. So does that mean that your belief is invalid from the outset?”

              But no other philosopher I know of holds your position because I am not even sure that you have a coherent position. If it is not an either or, you need to provide a coherent third option which is tantamount to inventing a new causality.

              Because this is the law of non-contradiction. Either A is caused by something, or it isn’t. Can you provide your understanding of how this is invalidated?

            • “We possess a level of awareness that seemingly allows us to override certain cognitive processes and alter our paths in life at the drop of a hat. ” – which is denied by epiphenomenalism and illusionism. Illusionism is the prevalent position of free will skeptics. eg https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sapient-nature/201205/free-will-is-illusion-so-what

              (Wegner’s The Illusion of Conscious Will is a superb book, too; see Smilansky etc).

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Dude, not to beat a dead horse, but…. http://www.amazon.com/Free-Science-Hasnt-Disproved-Will/dp/0199371628
              Mele dispenses with virtually every assertion made in the article you linked me to.

            • “And also, would you say that determinism is potentially falsifiable? If you concur, then how would one go about falsifying it?Cheers”

              Something which is impossible is not falsifiable, necessarily. There is no coherent understanding of causality that is not either caused or random. With all due respect, this is free will and determinism 101.

              Now you could insert some supernatural interractionism, but you would have to account for that causality, an whether it was lawlike.

              (see my essay:
              The Argument from Format – How the Cartesian soul cannot be the originator of free will
              http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/07/27/the-argument-from-format-how-the-cartesian-soul-cannot-be-the-originator-of-free-will/)

            • In other words, you sound like a libertarian free willer who believes the agent as the originator of a causal chain (for want of a better term) which is notoriously… impossible to defend.

              Your demands for evidence are very similar for the proving of a negative.

              Can you prove there is not a unicorn in the universe? Well, technically no, since I would have to search every atom of the universe to do so etc. This doesn’t mean that one exists, or that evidence therefore supports unicorns.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              Oh for fucks sake.
              I’m taking a vacation from this blog.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              I’ll return when you are willing to make an honest attempt at understanding my position.
              Cheers

            • That is what I am doing, but you are not explaining it. Mele, as far as I understand (listen to this podcast on his book: http://freethoughtblogs.com/reasonabledoubts/2014/12/15/episode-136-freedom-isnt-free/) is persenting no positive case for free will but explaining that causality in scientific experiments can leave the door open to free will. But without explaining what that could even really mean in terms of causality leaves you back with trying to coherently explain a contra-causal free will which is notoriously impossible as it stands. Hence why most LFWers are supernaturalist soul/God of the gaps free willers or compatibilists who redefine the term.

              Don’t leave, as this is the nub of it.

            • Tormented Wanderer

              I’m a tad moody today, life has kinda been a horrendous shit storm of late.
              I’ll attempt to properly explain my current view at another time.
              Peace

            • Cool schmool. It’s late here, so I ave not included heirs and graces – apologies. Hope all is well or gets well.

            • (always worth noting he was funded by the Templeton Foundation too, not that that should invalidate his conclusions necessarily. Twas a lot of money too).

            • Tormented Wanderer

              I’ll close with this last bit, cuz I need to go smoke some green.
              Read the book. Write a review, even. All else fails, just take the time to actually read Free before arriving at conclusions about it or the man who authored it. That would be a start.
              Later tater

            • @void_walker_2000:disqus – Mele’s previous work is broadly cmpatibilist: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/supplement.html

            • Also, determinism doesn’t suppose linear causation in a simplistic sense. See my post: http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2014/04/28/have-i-killed-someone/

            • Also, what about its antithesis? What would contra-causality look like and how would it be evidenced?

      • josh

        F=ma is a theory, not a dogma. And any decent teacher will tell you that it is an approximation we find useful, demonstrable by physical experiment.

        • Luke Breuer

          Theological dogmas cannot be approximations that are extremely useful? After all, nobody has a perfect idea what agápē is. We learn more and more as we go through life. See 1 Thess 4:1–2,9–10. Oh, and I can test advances in understanding of agápē empirically. Yep, I do lots of that.

          • josh

            They wouldn’t be dogmas then. They also have been found to be useless when not actively harmful. ‘agápē’ is a Greek word, it connotes familial love. No need to reify it. I’m guessing you haven’t understood this yet.

            • Luke Breuer

              By “dogma”, do you mean the word as-used, below?

                  We can now better understand why Kuhn’s claims about incommensurability have provoked such a storm of protest. Implicitly or explicitly, many philosophers of science have maintained that the progressive development of science offers overwhelming support for the belief that such commensuration is the basis for distinguishing rationality from irrationality. What Kuhn (and others) have done is to explode the myth that scientific development offers firm and unambiguous evidence for the dogma that there is a “set of rules which will tell us how rational agreement can be reached on what would settle the issue on every point where statements seem to conflict.” They have not shown that science is irrational, but rather that something is fundamentally wrong with the idea that commensurability is the essence of scientific rationality. (Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, 85–86)

              Or here?

                  This emphasis on discourse as the basis of the human sciences is a position common to the later Frankfurt School and the interpretive approach. It represents a reworking of and a move beyond the earlier Frankfurt search for a historical subject to reveal the final truth of history.
                  Behind the search for the subject of history lay the whole course of Western metaphysics, but particularly the unquestioned Enlightenment dogma that reality is a rational whole to which reason approximates. How reason approximated reality has of course been described in many ways. (Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look, 18)

              Or how about the dogmatic belief in the fact–value dichotomy? See Hilary Putnam’s The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy. How about Verificationism, with the meaningfulness criterion?

              Furthermore, are you even sure that the Roman Catholic Church had what you call “dogma” say, 100 years before the Thirty Years’ War and earlier? On this, I suggest Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Indeed, this “Quest for Certainty”, this “Cartesian Anxiety“, may largely be a result of the Enlightenment! But no, that couldn’t possibly be the case, you say. Dogmatism is religion, freedom of thought is science! Well, you can keep believing that propaganda if you want, but I’m not all that interested.

              ———

              As to agápē, see WP: Greek words for love:

              Agápe (ἀγάπη agápē[1]) means “love: esp. brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God.”[2] Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as brotherly love, affection, good will, love, and benevolence.[3] Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit). Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast.[3] It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape is used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God for his children. This type of love was further explained by Thomas Aquinas as “to will the good of another.”[4]

              You seem to have conflated agápē and storgē.

            • josh

              By dogma I meant the religious definition: a statement laid down by authority which is incontrovertibly true and unchanging. The quotes you listed are examples of the word used somewhat metaphorically to criticize allegedly unexamined premises. The Immaculate Conception is a dogma. F=ma is not.

              A “Quest for certainty” is certainly not a modern invention. See Thomas Aquinas for example, who was following on Aristotle. Or more to the point, just look at the declarations of certainty in the Bible or other religious texts. The Enlightenment, if anything, brought doubt (and the right to espouse it). But this is beside the point, please stay on topic.

              “You seem to have conflated agápē and storgē.”
              The Greek usage conflates them, as your extended definition above shows.”… feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse…”. Again, though, you seem to be missing the point. It’s a historical Greek word, and what it means is determined by usage. That usage can change over time and, for example, if it is adopted by Christians to refer to God’s supposed love for creation, that is not a better understanding of the word, just a different usage.

              In contrast, the word Force (F) in F=ma has a rather specific meaning in the context of physics. Although the word may be used differently in other contexts, we have a very good idea what it means in Newtonian physics. How accurately Newtonian physics reflects the real world is a separate question. How much of a virgin Mary was is not up for debate in Catholicism.

            • Luke Breuer

              In Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity, Stephen Toulmin claims:

                  The second of our earlier assumptions has no more historical basis. Any idea that ecclesiastical constraints and controls were relaxed in the 17th century is misconceived: if anything, the truth was more nearly the opposite. Rejecting all the Protestant reformers’ attempts to change the institutions and practices of Christianity from within, the Papacy chose direct confrontation, and denounced the Protestants as schismatic. This policy was launched in the late 16th century after the Council of Trent, but culminated after 1618, with the bloodshed of the Thirty Years’ War. From then on, backsliders met with no mercy. Theological commitments were not less rigorous and demanding, but more. There was less chance for critical discussion of doctrine, not more. For the first time, the need to close ranks and defend Catholicism against the Protestant heretics was an occasion for elevating key doctrines out of reach of reappraisal, even by the most sympathetic and convinced believers. The distinction between “doctrines” and “dogmas” was invented by the Council of Trent: Counter-Reformation Christianity was thus dogmatic, in a way that the pre-Reformation Christianity of, say, an Aquinas could never have been. Theological pressure on scientists and other intellectual innovators did not weaken in the first half of the 17th century: rather, it intensified. (18–19)

              Do you think he got it wrong? Here’s a perspective on an earlier phase of Christianity, before the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches schismed:

                  The life of the Church in the earlier Byzantine period is dominated by the seven general councils. These councils fulfilled a double task. First, they clarified and articulated the visible organization of the Church, crystallizing the position of the five great sees or Patriarchates, as they came to be known. Secondly, and most important, the councils defined once and for all the Church’s teaching upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith—the Trinity and the Incarnation. All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language. The bishops, when they drew up definitions at the councils, did not imagine that they had explained the mystery; they merely sought to exclude certain false ways of speaking and thinking about it. To prevent people from deviating into error and heresy, they drew a fence around the mystery; that was all. (The Orthodox Church, 20)

              Good grief, this sounds like Popperian falsificationism! Could it be? No surely not, Enlightenment mythology states otherwise!

            • josh

              “Do you think he got it wrong?”

              He’s not disagreeing with me, so… no. Catholicism began more actively policing its members in response to the rise of Protestantism. That doesn’t mean the church embraced doubt prior to it. They already had a long history of declaring heretics. The Albigensian Crusade took place before Aquinas was born.

              “Good grief, this sounds like Popperian falsificationism!”
              Kudos, I’m kind of flabbergasted. It sounds like exactly the opposite. You just gave a perfect example of churchmen violating Popper’s falsification criterion. Note that what they were doing was declaring certainty, even though they knew it was incoherent and they provided no way to test that belief. How is this like Newtonian physics again?

            • Luke Breuer

              Is it possible to doubt something without using an unexamined (for the moment) system of thought to do the doubting? I’m not sure your “embraced doubt” is an epistemologically sound way to try to understand reality. But let me hope that it is: what is the best formulation you know of “embrace doubt”, and what is the best analysis that has been done which shows that it is causally efficacious in advancing the frontiers of human knowledge? I’m looking for causation, not mere correlation. So, what’s the best you’ve got? Let’s see if you have indeed “embraced doubt”, or whether that’s actually a bit of unexamined, unreflective dogma.

            • josh

              “I’m not sure your “embraced doubt” is an epistemologically sound way to try to understand reality.”

              In other words you are doubting it. Good job, now if only you could extend that to your unexamined beliefs. Of course, I shouldn’t need to point out that this is all a red herring you have laid out to distract from the the topic at hand. I didn’t say ’embracing doubt’ was ‘causally efficacious in advancing’ blah, blah. I said it was something the church didn’t do, contra your assertions that a ‘quest for certainty’ was a modern invention.

              Anyhow, to indulge you, the best formulation I know is this: Nothing is certain. It is always conceivable that whatever mechanism makes you feel certain is in error and whatever mechanism you may have for checking errors is also in error. Nonetheless, we have developed such error checking mechanisms so what we can do is apply them rigorously to prevent the errors we can detect and search for the most coherent picture we can get. This doesn’t guarantee we aren’t in error but it is the best we can do.

              As for advancing knowledge, doubt by itself is not for doing that but to prevent you from accepting falsehoods as true. We do see though, that in science, with it’s emphasis on error checking and doubt, their appears to be great advancement of reliable knowledge, whilst in those areas least accessible to doubt, religions for instance, knowledge stagnates.

            • Luke Breuer

              I didn’t say ’embracing doubt’ was ‘causally efficacious in advancing’ blah, blah. I said it was something the church didn’t do, contra your assertions that a ‘quest for certainty’ was a modern invention.

              Oh, so your statement was merely descriptive, instead of normative? The church didn’t do X, but hey, that just means they didn’t do X. Is that a more accurate construal of your claim?

              Nothing is certain.

              What a wonderfully self-defeating statement.

              As for advancing knowledge, doubt by itself is not for doing that but to prevent you from accepting falsehoods as true.

              Oh, I understand the deathly fear some have in not believing a single false thing. For others though, I think Wayne C. Booth said it well:

                  In one definition of the word, it is of course impossible to find any assertions of full skepticism; even silent enactments are difficult. A good general rule is: scratch a skeptic and find a dogmatist. (Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, 56)

              As it turns out, I don’t have to do this thing that you say is required, in order to navigate reality quite well, including helping my wife do science. But I will tell you when more doubt is necessary; when this happens:

              For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Tim 4:3–4)

              I’ve been watching sociologist Christian Smith’s lecture called “How American Youth (Mis)Understand Science and Religion”[1]; at 7:30, he notes that “Most American college-age emerging adults (ages 18-23) accept the secular “Enlightenment” “inherent warfare” model of the relationship between religion and science”. That’s known as the conflict thesis, and scholars know it to be false. But hey, if the myth advances science over religion then falsehood is ok, right?

              So yeah, when our culture has been imbibing falsehood after falsehood—and I see so many come from those who are wont to call themselves “Brights”—I can see why some skepticism might be in order. Another great example is the terrible model of human nature required for the terrible predictions at Milgram experiment § Results. One possible explanation for this comes from Steven Pinker’s claim that in the early 1900’s, intellectuals had swallowed the naïve tabula rasa conception of human nature, per his TED talk on his book The Blank Slate.

              Skepticism is an awfully convenient way of going on the attack, without letting your own beliefs be critical examined. When they do, as authors such as Steven D. Smith in The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse expose that there’s just no foundation for ideas such as egalitarianism (~178–181). No, don’t look behind the curtain, don’t look behind the curtain and see values being smuggled in.

              If anything, modernity obscured our ability to talk about what is ‘the good’. Alasdair MacIntyre penetratingly analyzes this in After Virtue. Any metaethics which does not include teleology reduces to emotivism. After all, per Smith:

              No one expects that anything called “reason” will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as “the nature of the universe” or “the end and the object of life.” Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the “fact of oppression.”[36] So a central function of “public reason” today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their “comprehensive doctrines”—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible “overlapping consensus“.[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (14–15)

              So yeah, if you were to actually apply your wonderful skepticism everywhere, instead of just religion, you might come to some different conclusions. But like the religionist who is uncomfortable questioning what he/she has taken for granted, I’m sure you would also be uncomfortable questioning some of the myths you have swallowed whole. Better to mock and criticize others; that is the same route.

              [1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaS1SV7xwWQ

            • josh

              “Oh, so your statement was merely descriptive, instead of normative?”
              Yes, why would you think otherwise? You said something wrong and I corrected you. If you’ve no interest in being right (an increasingly likely possibility), then what I said will have no normative hold on you.

              “What a wonderfully self-defeating statement.”
              Who said it was certain? But of course to doubt it is to confirm it, so it’s rather the opposite of self-defeating.

              “As it turns out, I don’t have to do this thing that you say is required,
              in order to navigate reality quite well, including helping my wife do
              science.”
              As it turns out, you’re not navigating reality all that well, although I expect you can still feed yourself so you’ll keep chugging along.

              “So yeah, when our culture has been imbibing falsehood after falsehood—and I see so many come from those who are wont to call themselves “Brights”…”

              There aren’t many people wont to call themselves Brights, so right there I see a falsehood you are imbibing. Of course, even among those who did like the term I don’t know any who can’t explain the Milgram experiments. Perhaps you should cite one, unless (heaven forfend), this is another disconnected thought you are hoping to press-gang into an argument.

              “Skepticism is an awfully convenient way of going on the attack, without letting your own beliefs be critical examined.”

              Skepticism encourages one to examine one’s own beliefs as well. But again, whether it is convenient has nothing to do with whether it is the correct approach.

              “Alasdair MacIntyre penetratingly analyzes this in After Virtue.”
              Alasdair MacIntyre couldn’t penetrate a cobweb with a katana. Your penchant for appealing to perceived authority is not helping you here.

              “So yeah, if you were to actually apply your wonderful skepticism
              everywhere, instead of just religion, you might come to some different
              conclusions.”

              If only you knew what my conclusions were so that this wasn’t just idle speculation hoping to rise to a Tu quoque.

            • Luke Breuer

              Yes, why would you think otherwise? You said something wrong and I corrected you.

              So Martin Luther didn’t embrace any doubt? Really?

              Who said it was certain? But of course to doubt it is to confirm it, so it’s rather the opposite of self-defeating.

              Bullshit. “Nothing is certain.” is only meaningful if it itself is certain. Otherwise, the statement becomes “Some things are not certain.”, which is an entirely different statement. Stop being a sophist.

              As it turns out, you’re not navigating reality all that well, […]

              And the reason to trust your judgment on this is… what, again?

              There aren’t many people wont to call themselves Brights, so right there I see a falsehood you are imbibing.

              It was tongue-in-cheek.

              Of course, even among those who did like the term I don’t know any who can’t explain the Milgram experiments. Perhaps you should cite one, unless (heaven forfend), this is another disconnected thought you are hoping to press-gang into an argument.

              I’m not talking about explaining the Milgram experiments post-results, I’m talking about explaining why the beliefs surveyed pre-results were so terrible. The predictions were really just terrible. How often do we do a study of human nature and find results so at odds with our conceptions, on a matter of such utmost importance? If we had been less stupid on our beliefs of how willing Enlightened Man is to obey his masters, we might have believed the Holocaust was happening sooner, acted sooner, and saved millions of lives. So it seems like it would be rather important to analyze the failure that happened, and try to avoid it in the future. That is, it seems that we could perhaps have better pre-scientific beliefs—better beliefs prior to being able to conduct scientific experiments (which cannot really be done for complex social phenomena, requiring us to rely a lot on pre-scientific beliefs).

              Skepticism encourages one to examine one’s own beliefs as well.

              I’ve seen you do precious little of this. Just FYI.

              Alasdair MacIntyre couldn’t penetrate a cobweb with a katana.

              There is an insane person and a sane person. Each thinks the other is crazy. Who is right? Well, only a third perspective can adjudicate. Let’s see if you can figure out how this applies, to your claim here.

              Your penchant for appealing to perceived authority is not helping you here.

              Oh I see, when you appeal, it is to expertise, scientific expertise, but when I appeal it is to authority, to untrustworthy authority. A convenient asymmetry.

              If only you knew what my conclusions were so that this wasn’t just idle speculation hoping to rise to a Tu quoque.

              It is not tu quoque if you are demanding epistemic standards of me to which you cannot adhere. It could be that you’re simply demanding unreasonable standards. Furthermore, I’m not idly speculating; I can make decent inferences as to what you probably do and don’t believe. For example, you had terrible conceptions about ‘dogma’, and that reveals quite a lot, for there are reasons for why you would have such terrible conceptions.

              P.S. Learn to <blockquote></blockquote>, seriously.

            • josh

              Okay, this is fun but I’ve got more useful things to do so I’ll have to wind it down.

              “So Martin Luther didn’t embrace any doubt? Really?”
              No one even mentioned Martin Luther. Really.

              “”Nothing is certain.” is only meaningful if it itself is certain.
              Otherwise, the statement becomes “Some things are not certain.”, which is an entirely different statement. Stop being a sophist.”
              If only we could be certain of which things are not certain. C’est la vie. Stop being a whiner. Here, I’ll simplify things for you: Nothing is certain except this statement. There, now you can sleep soundly.

              “I’m not talking about explaining the Milgram experiments post-results,
              I’m talking about explaining why the beliefs surveyed pre-results were so terrible.”

              People are given to wishful thinking about the world, including how we think other people should/will behave. Good thing we have actual experiments to check our presumptions with.

              “If we had been less stupid on our beliefs of how willing Enlightened Man is to obey his masters, we might have believed the Holocaust was
              happening sooner, acted sooner, and saved millions of lives.”
              Well, the Milgram experiment happened well after WWII. And while in a happier world something would have prevented the Holocaust, the experience of WWI had a lot to do with the reluctance of various Allied powers to intervene.

              “So it seems like it would be rather important to analyze the failure that happened, and try to avoid it in the future.”
              Sure. It seems that authoritarianism is always dangerous and deeply built into the human psyche, hence religion, among other things, is always a threat.

              “Well, only a third perspective can adjudicate. Let’s see if you can figure out how this applies, to your claim here.”

              Well, we all only have our own perspectives. Insane people will often cite insane sources, or misinterpret sane ones, to back up their beliefs. They will frequently do this in absence of a substantive argument.

              “Oh I see, when you appeal, it is to expertise, scientific expertise, but when I appeal it is to authority, to untrustworthy authority.”

              I’m not appealing to authority. I am, however, appealing to whatever part of you might be capable of self-reflection.

              “It is not tu quoque if you are demanding epistemic standards of me to which you cannot adhere.”

              I’m afraid it would be. But I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t do. I’m not asking you to present me with a complete and unshakeable dissertation on epistemology from first principles. I’m asking you to acknowledge your errors and learn.

              “For example, you had terrible conceptions about ‘dogma'”

              I’m sure some day you’ll get around to pointing them out. Along with my other conceptions that you’ve so decently inferred. Excuse me if I don’t hold my breath.

              “P.S. Learn to blockquote /blockquote, seriously.”
              What I know how to do and what I do are different things.

            • Luke Breuer

              No one even mentioned Martin Luther. Really.

              I stand corrected:

              josh: Catholicism began more actively policing its members in response to the rise of Protestantism. That doesn’t mean the church embraced doubt prior to it.

              But this is actually a useless statement: you didn’t asser tthat the church did not, in fact, embrace doubt prior to the Reformation. Indeed, you barely uttered more than a tautology. My apologies for thinking you meant to actually state something, here.

              Here, I’ll simplify things for you: Nothing is certain except this statement.

              Hahahahaha, Logical Positivists tried that form of special pleading. Here’s how they ended up:

              John Passmore found logical positivism to be “dead, or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes”.[42]

              Oops.

              People are given to wishful thinking about the world, including how we think other people should/will behave.

              That’s not an explanation, that’s a just-so story.

              Good thing we have actual experiments to check our presumptions with.

              Oh, do tell me the experiments we must run to help resolve the issues in the Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, et al. Show me how we don’t have to rely on any prescientific understanding of human nature and humans in society. Show me how we can delay any and all public policy and foreign policy decisions until we have scientific knowledge.

              Or are you saying that the terrible failure to predict, as indicated by Milgram experiment § Results, was unavoidable? Were we humans doomed to be that fucking retarded?

              Well, the Milgram experiment happened well after WWII.

              LOL, you think that 20 years earlier, the beliefs as revealed at Milgram experiment § Results were a whole lot different? Or are we at the “oops, we couldn’t have done better” axiom?

              It seems that authoritarianism is always dangerous and deeply built into the human psyche, hence religion, among other things, is always a threat.

              Bahahahaha, “authoritarianism”, yep, that’s what Jesus was. A total authoritarian. See what he said and did in Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20? He was all about controlling and manipulating other people. Just like all religion. (Or did you mean to only talk about some religion? You were deliciously ambiguous.)

              But I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t do.

              I’m not sure I’ve seen any self-reflection on your part.

              I’m asking you to acknowledge your errors and learn.

              Where have you done this, in our conversation?

            • josh

              “But this is actually a useless statement: you didn’t asser tthat the church did not, in fact, embrace doubt prior to the Reformation.”
              Do you even know what point you are trying to make any more? I exactly asserted that the church didn’t embrace doubt prior to the Reformation. (It didn’t after either.) I didn’t say a thing about Luther’s stance on doubt.

              “Hahahahaha, Logical Positivists tried that form of special pleading.”
              Whey your trivial objection can be defeated with a trivial modification it suggests you are barking up the wrong tree. Of course, the LPs wanted verificationism, which the statement ‘Nothing is certain’ evidently rejects, so you aren’t even in the right forest.

              “That’s not an explanation, that’s a just-so story.”
              It’s an observation. I see you don’t know what a just-so story is.

              “Show me how we can delay any and all public policy and foreign policy decisions until we have scientific knowledge.”
              We can’t, but we should use the scientific knowledge we do have. I’d suggest one lesson we keep learning is that arming the enemy of our enemy tends to come back and bite us in the ass.

              “Or are you saying that the terrible failure to predict, as indicated by Milgram experiment § Results, was unavoidable? Were we humans doomed to be that fucking retarded?”

              Failures to predict, sans data, are pretty unavoidable unfortunately. The thing you can do is subject your predictions to tests and modify them when they fail. This is what dogma doesn’t allow.

              “LOL, you think that 20 years earlier, the beliefs as revealed at Milgram experiment § Results were a whole lot different?”

              Read what I said again.

              …”that’s what Jesus was. A total authoritarian.”

              Indeed. “All authority is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth.” “He who is not with me is against me…” You’ll notice ‘King of Kings’ isn’t exactly a liberal, democratic title.

              “I’m not sure I’ve seen any self-reflection on your part.”

              I deconverted from Christianity. Maybe someday you’ll do the same.

              “Where have you done this, in our conversation?”
              Tu quoque is still a fallacy. But I’m prepared to acknowledge any errors I’ve made if you can find them.

            • Luke Breuer

              Do you even know what point you are trying to make any more?

              Yes, it is to examine precisely what you mean by ‘doubt’ vs. ‘dogma’. This feeds very nicely into the (1) vs. (2), below.

              I exactly asserted that the church didn’t embrace doubt prior to the Reformation. (It didn’t after either.) I didn’t say a thing about Luther’s stance on doubt.

              When you say lower-case-‘c’ “church”, do you actually mean the Roman Catholic Church?

              Whey your trivial objection can be defeated with a trivial modification it suggests you are barking up the wrong tree.

              Not when the trivial modification drastically changes the meaning. C’mon:

                   (1) Nothing is certain.
                   (2) Almost nothing is certain.

              If you actually do (1), you end up at radical skepticism and you stay at radical skepticism. A recent philosophy PhD recipient has told me that this is quite well-accepted in philosophy. Start there, end there, can’t escape from there. I can get you more on this if you’d like.

              If instead you do (2), then the question is, what is certain? Or: what are your dogmas? You don’t get to claim that your “trivial modification” of (1) is your only dogma, without engaging in special-pleading. And just to be clear, asserting (1) is a violation of the principle of non-contradiction, which even Hume did not contest.

              LB: I’m not talking about explaining the Milgram experiments post-results, I’m talking about explaining why the beliefs surveyed pre-results were so terrible.

              josh: People are given to wishful thinking about the world, including how we think other people should/will behave.

              LB: That’s not an explanation, that’s a just-so story.

              josh: It’s an observation. I see you don’t know what a just-so story is.

              Wait, were you or weren’t you trying to explain why “the beliefs surveyed pre-results were so terrible“?

              LB: Show me how we can delay any and all public policy and foreign policy decisions until we have scientific knowledge.

              josh: We can’t, but we should use the scientific knowledge we do have.

              Then I suggest you seek a better explanation for the why, directly above.

              Failures to predict, sans data, are pretty unavoidable unfortunately.

              The folks who predicted at Milgram experiment § Results weren’t “sans data”. Look at René Girard § Psychology and neuroscience to see how much you can actually figure out pre-science. It’s nontrivial. Or you could look at Antonio Damasio‘s praise for Spinoza. No, there’s a lot of work we can do, before the ‘scientific’ phase. Furthermore, there is likely a lot of error buried in our public’s consciousness, which can be rooted out pre-scientifically. See, for example, The New Criterion‘s The treason of the intellectuals & “The Undoing of Thought”.

              Indeed. “All authority is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth.” “He who is not with me is against me…” You’ll notice ‘King of Kings’ isn’t exactly a liberal, democratic title.

              Do define “totalitarianism”. I currently like Roger Scruton‘s beginning:

              He defines totalitarianism as the absence of any constraint on central authority, with every aspect of life the concern of government. Advocates of totalitarianism feed on resentment, Scruton argues, and having seized power they proceed to abolish institutions—such as the law, property, and religion—that create authorities.

              Jesus exercised fantastic “restraint”. He commanded his followers to do precisely the same. Again, Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20.

              But perhaps you want some law to be that which ultimately unifies all people in all nations, and not a lawful person (e.g. the Logos)?

              LB: Where have you done this, in our conversation?

              josh: Tu quoque is still a fallacy. But I’m prepared to acknowledge any errors I’ve made if you can find them.

              Actually, I was going to say that I’d like to learn from you. But if there’s nothing to learn from, I think I’ll keep going as I am until there is something to learn from. I myself am able to quickly admit fault:

              LB: I stand corrected: […] My apologies […]

              For me to do more of this, I’ll need help that apparently you cannot give. And so I wait until someone comes along who can help.

            • Luke Breuer

              They already had a long history of declaring heretics.

              Oh yes, science doesn’t declare any heretics:

              Scott Aaronson: I call on FQXi, in the strongest possible terms, to stop lending its legitimacy to this now completely-unmasked charlatan. If it fails to do so, then I will resign from FQXi, and will encourage fellow FQXi members to do the same.

              No, it doesn’t do anything to attempt to destroy careers, which is the de facto death of the ‘scientist’ aspect to a person’s identity.

            • josh

              You keep changing the subject rather than confront the errors you have made. I love how you are comparing the alleged end of a career with, you know, the actual deaths of heretics. It’s like you don’t get it at all. Lemme spell it out for you: Allowing for doubt does not mean embracing all positions equally. A professional organization is still obligated to kick out crackpots, or at least denounce their crackpottery, because it is important to point out the cases where doubt has resulted in a resounding ‘NO’ after investigation. The crackpot is not a heretic. There is nothing unholy about what they say, they are just judged to be wrong. It is abstractly conceivable that they are actually right, but one has to heed those error detection mechanisms I mentioned and go with the best judgment we can muster.

            • Luke Breuer

              I love how you are comparing the alleged end of a career with, you know, the actual deaths of heretics.

              I know, it’s like someone said “give me liberty or give me death”, as if there is a fate worse than death. Oer perhaps, from the 2015-02-12 NYT article How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life:

              The movement against public shaming had gained momentum in 1787, when Benjamin Rush, a physician in Philadelphia and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote a paper calling for its demise — the stocks, the pillory, the whipping post, the lot. “Ignominy is universally acknowledged to be a worse punishment than death,” he wrote. “It would seem strange that ignominy should ever have been adopted as a milder punishment than death, did we not know that the human mind seldom arrives at truth upon any subject till it has first reached the extremity of error.”

              But apparently, according to you, the following is more acceptable than death:

                  We have to try to understand the meaning of this inhuman insanity. To scorn is to condemn the other person to complete and final sterility, to expect nothing more from him and to put him in such circumstances that he will never again have anything to give. It is to negate him in his possibilities, in his gifts, in the development of his experience. To scorn him is to rip his fingernails out by the roots so that they will never grow back again. The person who is physically maimed, or overwhelmed by mourning or hunger, can regain his strength, can live again as a person as long as he retains his honor and dignity, but to destroy the honor and dignity of a person is to cancel his future, to condemn him to sterility forever. In other words, to scorn is to put an end to the other person’s hope and to one’s hope for the other person, to hope for nothing more from him and also to stop his having any hope for himself. (Hope in Time of Abandonment, 47)

              I’m sorry, but I don’t accept your claim. There are fates worse than death. Freud was likely right when he [allegedly] claimed that mental suffering can be 100x as bad as physical suffering. The mere decline in physical violence provides zero guarantee that our society is getting better, unless you’re naïve enough to think that The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas could be one step away from perfection.

              You keep changing the subject rather than confront the errors you have made.

              I don’t see them as errors; I see them as insidious false presuppositions you surreptitiously inject into the conversation.

              The crackpot is not a heretic.

              Oh, I’m sure those who burned heretics at the stake had a similar rationalization to this. Humans are very good at rationalizing their inhumane treatment of other humans. It is a time-honored tradition.

            • Luke Breuer

              Heh. At some point, it will be realized that some suicides are due to life being more painful than death. Until then, we will delude ourselves to how the human psyche works, and suffer both suicides and murder-suicides. And of course, we’ll blame the problem almost entirely on the suicidal people, and very little on society. Sigh.

            • josh

              “Oh, I’m sure those who burned heretics at the stake had a similar rationalization to this.”

              LMAO. You seem to have missed the point that we don’t burn crackpots. But think about what you’re doing! You are criticizing me. Subjecting my viewpoint to implied dismissal! Oh the humanity. If only there were a convenient fire I could jump into to end this inhuman torment!

            • Luke Breuer

              So, there’s no psychological experience that is worse than death?

            • josh

              “So, there’s no psychological experience that is worse than death?”
              Why would you draw that conclusion from what I’ve said? What I’ve said is that burning someone to death is worse than publically criticizing their ideas. Is this statement really in doubt for you?

            • Luke Breuer

              Why would you draw that conclusion from what I’ve said?

              Your failure to acknowledge how it would possibly be true, while simultaneously denying that examples I provided could possibly be “a fate worse than death”.

              What I’ve said is that burning someone to death is worse than publically criticizing their ideas. Is this statement really in doubt for you?

              Ummm, my example was not merely “publicly criticizing their ideas”, it was asking for someone to be denied funding, thus very possibly ending his career. Get your facts straight, will you?

            • Luke Breuer

              To add to my comment on “embraced doubt”, I give you the following from scientist–philosopher Michael Polanyi:

                  The first point in my critique of doubt will be to show that the doubting of any explicit statement merely implies an attempt to deny the belief expressed but he statement, in favour of other beliefs which are not doubted for the time being.
                  Suppose somebody says ‘I believe p‘, where p stands for ‘planets move along elliptic orbits’, or else for ‘all men are mortal’. And I reply “I about p‘. This may be taken to mean that I contradict p, which could be expressed by ‘I believe not-p‘. Alternatively, I may be merely objecting to the assertion of p as true, by denying that there are sufficiently good grounds to choose between p or not-p. This may be expressed by saying ‘I believe p is not proven’. We may call the first type of doubt ‘contradictory’ and the second ‘agnostic’.
                  It is immediately apparent that an expression of contradictory doubt ‘I believe not-p‘ is of the same character as the affirmation ‘I believe p‘ which it calls in question. For between p and not-p there is no other difference than that they refer to different matters of fact. ‘I believe not-p‘ could stand for the allegation that planets move along orbits which are not elliptical. (Personal Knowledge, 272)

              The section is called “Equivalence of Belief and Doubt”.

            • josh

              This is poorly written. What he calls ‘contradictory doubt’ is what most people call an assertion. What he calls ‘agnostic’ is what most people call doubt. The first is a belief, although that doesn’t necessarily put it on equal footing with the belief being contradicted. The second is not a belief (except I suppose about one’s own mental state).

            • Luke Breuer

              At least you find your dogma comforting.

            • Luke Breuer

              Note that what they were doing was declaring certainty, even though they knew it was incoherent and they provided no way to test that belief. How is this like Newtonian physics again?

              One ousia, three hypostases—what’s the contradiction there? It’s not like you’re free from The Problem of the Many, yourself. The Trinity is not like Newtonian physics, it is much more basic, more philosophical, more foundational.

              It’s easy to be a critic when you ignore conceptual problems in your own understanding of reality. Unless you weren’t even aware of the problem of the one and the many, also known as “the problem of universals”? If so, then that’s something new for you to learn about. See, I have no problem with the fact that the way I look at reality is only a picture of the thing. I have no problem with Ceci n’est pas une pipe. Perhaps you do!

              P.S. You might learn more of my position by reading my Intersubjectivity is Key. But hey, it’s not clear that you’re actually interested in understanding my position. There is an unfortunate possibility that you’re only in this for cheap shots. However, I comment in the hopes that this possibility does not obtain.

            • josh

              “One ousia, three hypostases—what’s the contradiction there?” The one is supposed to be absolutely simple, it can’t have parts or aspects. If there was no contradiction the Church wouldn’t feel obligated to declare it a Mystery. The Trinity isn’t particularly philosophical or foundational, it’s a theological dogma arrived at by the religious need to reconcile various uncritically accepted premises.

              “It’s easy to be a critic when you ignore conceptual problems in your own understanding of reality.” Whether it’s easy or hard is irrelevant. The relevant question is if the criticism is valid. Similarly, if a ‘cheap shot’ hits then that is all that matters. Whether your theory falls to a cheap shot or a sophisticated one is academic.

              “It’s not like you’re free from The Problem of the Many, yourself.”
              What a presumption! Science has been able to handle this ‘problem’ for a long time, via effective theories. A ‘whole’ composed of parts is not a fundamental thing, but it may be treated as a singular thing if certain conditions hold which make the approximation valid.

            • Luke Breuer

              “One ousia, three hypostases—what’s the contradiction there?” The one is supposed to be absolutely simple, it can’t have parts or aspects.

              I’m not up on the doctrine of divine simplicity, and I’m not going to trust your analysis of it, given what you’ve said so far. You’ve simply demonstrated zero competence in the relevant areas.

              Furthermore, I’ll point out that the universal wavefunction is awfully like “one ousia“. You know that the truest description of the state of the universe must take into account the entire wavefunction, that if you break it into parts, you are only dealing with an approximation? At least, according to current scientific knowledge. And yet, there are also these things that look awfully like parts! Oh wait, but this is science, so it isn’t ridiculous. If a theologian says it though, and there is any mystery whatsoever (if we don’t—shock of all shocks—completely understand reality), then surely it’s theism that is ridiculous. Yep, no hypocrisy here.

              If there was no contradiction the Church wouldn’t feel obligated to declare it a Mystery.

              mystery ≠ paradox

              The Trinity isn’t particularly philosophical or foundational, […]

              This is not at all well-accepted. See, for example, Colin E. Gunton’s The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity, or Alistair McFadyen’s The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships. Both build the very idea of personhood and relationship on the Trinity. I’d say those are foundational concepts. Given that it is persons in relationship who are the tools with which science is done, and you have to understand the tools in order to understand what they are telling you… yeah.

              What a presumption! Science has been able to handle this ‘problem’ for a long time, via effective theories. A ‘whole’ composed of parts is not a fundamental thing, but it may be treated as a singular thing if certain conditions hold which make the approximation valid.

              Oh, the naïveté in those statements. Here are the words of physicist David Bohm, who probably should have gotten a Nobel Prize for the Aharonov–Bohm effect:

                  Indeed, when this interpretation is extended to field theories,[7] not only the inter-relationships of the parts, but also their very existence is seen to flow out of the law of the whole. There is therefore nothing left of the classical scheme, in which the whole is derived from pre-existent parts related in pre-determined ways. Rather, what we have is reminiscent of the relationship of whole and parts in an organism, in which each organ grows and sustains itself in a way that depends crucially on the whole. (xi)

            • Oh, we’re not back to the nonsensical trinitarian doctrine which makes no coherent sense whatsoever…?

            • Luke Breuer

              Remind me, what’s your rigorous solution to the problem of the one and many? Something about tropes? Can you explicate the problems your solution has, or do you believe it has no problems? Personally, I expect that any solution to the problem of the one and many will have deep mystery to it.

            • The I is no mystery, it’s a sort of illusion which reflects the realism nominalism debate.

              The trinity simply does not make sense so sophisticated theologians resort to mysterianism.

            • Luke Breuer

              The I is no mystery, it’s a sort of illusion […]

              Why ought I we believe this? There is a ‘we’, right? Coincidentally, I just finished reading Roger Kimball’s December 1992 The New Criterion article, The treason of the intellectuals & “The Undoing of Thought”:

              He reminds us, for example, that the multiculturalists’ demand for “diversity” requires the eclipse of the individual in favor of the group. “Their most extraordinary feat,” he observes, “is to have put forward as the ultimate individual liberty the unconditional primacy of the collective.” Western rationalism and individualism are rejected in the name of a more “authentic” cult.

              I’m curious, Jonathan, what would falsify your claim that the ‘I’ is not an illusion? Surely you meant it to be a falsifiable statement?

              The trinity simply does not make sense so sophisticated theologians resort to mysterianism.

              The two books I mentioned, Alistair McFadyen’s The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships and Colin E. Gunton’s The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity, seem to make quite a bit of sense out of the Trinity. From the former:

                  Both collectivist and individualist answers (for a range of reasons which will emerge in the main body of the work) seem ultimately to offer unsatisfactory conceptions of individuality and personal being, although each also had some helpful insights and intentions which seemed worth preserving. Individualism attempts to do full justice to personal freedom and autonomy, although these take a pathological turn as individuals are considered self-contained entities cut off from one another and God. Collectivism, on the other hand, tries to take the role of social relations and institutions in human life seriously. This too, however, creates a deficient understanding of the individual for whom autonomy, freedom and independence from social structures become impossible.
                  This raises the question of whether there might be a third option, steering something of a mid-course between individualism and collectivism, which can do justice to personal freedom and autonomy whilst simultaneously acknowledging the role of social relations and institutions. Can the question of what it means to be a person be answered more adequately by the construction of a different kind of conceptuality? This book is an attempt to construct such a third option. Whilst I hope that it might offer something new, both the insight that individualism and collectivism are unsatisfactory and the attempt to find a third option are hardly original. So this is really much more a contribution to a discussion already in place than the breaking of completely new ground. (5)

              What’s that third option? Trinitarian thought, of course. A rejection of the “either/or”. You might say that the doctrine of the Trinity is the ultimate rejection of certain “either/or”s which are plaguing our world. For more, see Alasdair MacIntyre’s profound criticism of modern liberal individualism in After Virtue. I think I will take the Trinity to the alternative “fictions” you have on offer, Jonathan!

            • There are wes and Is only they don’t maintain identically over time. We become, in some sense, different Is with every change. At some points, we are very very different to another I along that route.

              The illusion is in Platonic Reality which people intuitively subscribe to.- there is no reality where Jonathan MS Pearce exists outside of what I conceptually think of myself at any given time.

              Then there is the argument that you are actually what other people think you are. Even self perception is interesting in how it might differ from some other definition of reality.

              But I digress.

              The Trinity falls down in essential properties.

            • Luke Breuer

              There are wes and Is only they don’t maintain identically over time.

              How can this even be known? To observe change, you need an observer who has a certain fixity. Otherwise, what you were before is different from what you are now, but how do you know what you were before? I’m beginning to think there is something deeper to Edward Feser’s Descartes’ “indivisibility” argument than I thought. However, I still prefer to think of the person as “individuality entangled with sedimentation from relationships”, to make up a term McFadyen might be OK with. He seems to have gotten it right.

              The Trinity falls down in essential properties.

              Well, I can either say that there’s no real “I”, or I can say that God is Triune. I think I’ll reject the deflation of truth, the antirealism, and opt for realism. Follow your antirealism path too far and you stop being able to speak.

            • These are two pretty different issues. On the I, what makes you, you, from minute to the next?

              Please don’t say soul…

              For your version of realism, it would seem you need some kind of Platonic realm?

            • Luke Breuer

              These are two pretty different issues.

              Or are they? Let’s see as the discussion progresses, shall we?

              On the I, what makes you, you, from minute to the next?

              Please don’t say soul…

              I’m with Charles Taylor: I think my orientation to the good is a huge part of what makes me, me. Minor course corrections don’t appreciably alter my identity; major course corrections would. See the quotations I posted. If Jesus is my endpoint (and way to that endpoint: see the use of telos in Rom 10:4), then the question arises whether I can attain to a solid understanding of him, or whether Voluntarism keeps him forever unpredictable, to “maintain his freedom to act”, as was one of the reasons for Voluntarism, which likely led to nominalism (per Louis Dupré’s Passage to Modernity, among other books).

              For your version of realism, it would seem you need some kind of Platonic realm?

              I’m not attached to Platonic Forms in particular, although I think they’re a good model in interesting domains (e.g. the Form of Justice). Actually, just right now I am wondering whether the growing block universe idea might change how one thinks of universals. I’ve read the beginning of Michael Tooley’s Time, Tense, and Causation and he has me convinced that a block universe just doesn’t get you the kind of causation that seems to actually exist.

              Furthermore, I’ve been playing around with the idea that we need to be very careful not to confuse (a) our limited epistemic viewpoint; (b) our ideas of what it might be to “look backward from the end of time”. You actually see an apparent mixing of the in-time vs. eternal perspective in the Bible; disentangling them can be tricky. But lately, I’ve seen mixing of this sort in secular life and in scholars. I can’t really pick out solid examples—it’s more at the intuitive level, per pp1–2 of de Koninck’s The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science—but I will try and take better notice, going forward.

              The best model is probably that of particulars and universals which can both influence each other. I’m thinking of calling this “bidirectional causation”. Typically, universals have seemed fixed; one sees this for example in the de Broglie–Bohm interpretation of QM. The particles are guided by the pilot wave, but the pilot wave is not impacted by the particles. One also sees unidirectional causation in sociology, either where society is merely a mass of individuals, or where individuals are merely socially constructed. Fortunately, there are sociologists such as Christian Smith who realize that unidirectional causation is a terrible model (see, e.g. his Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture, e.g. Kindle Locations 2633–2635).

              In The Call to Personhood: A Christian Theory of the Individual in Social Relationships, Alistair McFadyen navigates the tension:

                  My basic conception of the person in this discussion is both dialogical (formed through social interaction, through address and response) and dialectical (never coming to rest in a final unity, if only because one is never removed from relation). In dialogue the partners are simultaneously independent (otherwise the listening and speaking of both would be unnecessary) and inseparably bound together in a search for a mutuality of understanding. The basis of a dialogical understanding of personhood is that we are what we are in ourselves only through relation to others. Persons are unique centres or subjects of communication, but they are so only through their intrinsic relation to other persons. (9)

              As far as I can tell, this comes straight out of wrestling with how there can be one ousia and yet three hypostases.

            • Luke Breuer

              Curiously enough, I recently found out that David Braine, author of The Human Person, also wrote The Reality of Time and the Existence of God: The Project of Proving God’s Existence (random review). He argues that the continuity of time (and I think, persons) proves the existence of God. It would appear that you have chosen the contrapositive: ¬”God” ⇒ ¬”continuous ‘I'”. Fascinating.

              Incidentally, the following quotations from Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self help bring more clarity to your “discontinuous ‘I'”. See, if what ‘the good’ is, is ephemeral and transitory, then the identity of the self is also ephemeral and transitory. It is telos which binds, and if telos is but a semistable state of matter, it will disintegrate after some period of time, like the house built on the sand in Mt 7:24–27. The question remains of whether there is a rock which can be built upon. I claim the answer is “yes”: the Logos. You, I’m guessing assert a strong atheistic, [ultimately] nihilistic “no”.

                  What this brings to light is the essential link between identity and a kind of orientation. To know who you are is to be oriented in moral space, a space in which questions arise about what is good or bad, what is worth doing and what not, what has meaning and importance for you and what is trivial and secondary. I feel myself drawn here to use a spatial metaphor; but I believe this to be more than personal predilection. There are signs that the link with spatial orientation lies very deep in the human psyche. In some very extreme cases of what are described as “narcissistic personality disorders”, which take the form of a radical uncertainty about oneself and about what is of value to one, patients show signs of spatial disorientation as well at moments of acute crisis. The disorientation and uncertainty about where one stands as a person seems to spill over into a loss of grip on one’s stance in physical space.[1] (28)

                  The Ego or Self also enters psychology in another way, in connection with the observation that people have a ‘self-image’ which matters to them; that they strive to appear in a good light in the eyes of those they come in contact with as well as in their own. […] The ideally strong character would be maximally free of them, would not be deterred by the adverse opinions of others, and would be able to face unflinchingly the truth about himself or herself.

                  By contrast, the notion of self which connects it to our need for identity is meant to pick out this crucial feature of human agency, that we cannot do without some orientation to the good, that we each essentially are (i.e. define ourselves at least inter alia by) where we stand on this. What it is to be a self or person of this kind is difficult to conceive for certain strands of modern philosophy and above all for those which have become enshrined in mainstream psychology and social science. The self, even in this sense, ought to be an object of study like any other. (33)

                  So one crucial fact about a self or person that emerges from all this is that it is not like an object in the usually understood sense. We are not selves in the way that we are organisms, or we don’t have selves in the way we have hearts and livers. We are living beings with these organs quite independently of our self-understandings or -interpretations, or the meanings things have for us. But we are only selves insofar as we move in a certain space of questions, as we seek and find an orientation to the good. (34)

              Here we connect up with another inescapable feature of human life. I have been arguing that in order to make minimal sense of our lives, in order to have an identity, we need an orientation to the good, which means some sense of qualitative discrimination, of the incomparably higher. Now we see that this sense of the good has to be woven into my understanding of my life as an unfolding story. But this is to state another basic condition of making sense of ourselves, that we grasp our lives in a narrative. This has been much discussed recently, and very insightfully.[24] It has often been remarked[25] that making sense of one’s life as a story is also, like orientation to the good, not an optional extra; that our lives exist also in this space of questions, which only a coherent narrative can answer. In order to have a sense of who we are, we have to have a notion of how we have become, and of where we are going. (47)

              The following from Colin E. Gunton’s The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity is also enlightening:

              Despite—because of—Berlin’s brilliant discussion, therefore, it remains in general true that the modern individualistic concept of freedom tends to separate the person from other people, rather than simply distinguishing them from each other in relation. That is to say, it is essentially and irremediably non-relational. (64)

              I believe that with the loss of God, man has lost a kind of absolute and universal system of coordinates, to which he could always relate everything, chiefly himself. His world and his personality gradually began to break up into separate, incoherent fragments corresponding to different, relative, coordinates…[47]

              The term ‘coordinates’ is the crucial one here, for it implies a system in which particulars are truly related to one another, and yet in such a way that ‘space’ remains between them. We need coordinates if we are to know who we are and what our world is—a perspective from which to view and assess our various interests and actions. If there is no space between God and the world; or, rather, no God to give things space in which to be, we lose the space between one another and between ourselves and the world of particulars without which we are not truly what we are. (71)[47] Havel, Open Letters, pp. 94–5.

            • Luke Breuer

              I would also point out that your model of the “discontinuous ‘I'” is pretty ugly. It reminds me of the ultraviolet catastrophe. But you seem to prefer it to the mystery of the Trinity. I find this curious.

            • josh

              “I’m not up on the doctrine of divine simplicity, and I’m not going to trust your analysis of it, given what you’ve said so far. You’ve simply demonstrated zero competence in the relevant areas.”

              Given your admitted ignorance, you’re in no position to analyze my competence. But don’t bother to educate yourself, this is more fun.

              “Furthermore, I’ll point out that the universal wavefunction is awfully like “one ousia”.” You really shouldn’t try to force modern concepts onto ancient terminology. A wavefunction is not a Mystery. It’s a set of values at all points in space time. We can talk about the collection of points all together or about individual points. Given decoherence and causality we can talk about the approximations that allow us to treat some subset of points as a thing unto itself, as long as you stay in the domain of validity of the approximation. So 1) there is no contradiction here and 2) this is based on actual evidence, unlike theological claims.

              “mystery ≠ paradox” Paradoxes are usually better stated. ‘Nonsense’ is more equivalent to ‘Mystery’ in the theological sense.

              “Both build the very idea of personhood and relationship on the Trinity. I’d say those are foundational concepts.”

              Given that the ideas of personhood and relationships long predate those of the Trinity, we can know with considerable certainty that you are wrong.

              “Oh, the naïveté in those statements. Here are the words of physicist David Bohm,…”
              Since I work with quantum field theories every day, I can tell you there is no ‘law of the whole’ discussed in them. Maybe you should try to understand what I say before heading off to toil in the quote mines.

            • Luke Breuer

              Given your admitted ignorance, […]

              Yep, you might give it a try sometime: admitting ignorance about topics you haven’t studied. Now, I have checked James E. Dolezal’s God without Parts from the library a few times, but I just couldn’t get into it. Tell me, what you have studied on divine simplicity? Care to give a bibliography, or perhaps a bluffography?

              A wavefunction is not a Mystery.

              I know plenty of physicists who disagree, at least when asked to talk about the connection between the wavefunction and observed, experienced reality. So… yeah, I’ll let you have your comfortable delusion I guess. Arguing against you is becoming tedious.

              It’s a set of values at all points in space time.

              Oh hello, atomism. Maybe you could read SEP: Holism and Nonseparability sometime, or physicist–philosopher Bernard d’Espagnat’s On Physics and Philosophy or his earlier, shorter In Search of Reality. But wait, what was that you said? Oh right:

              But don’t bother to educate yourself, this is more fun.

              I agree withe the stuff before the comma, but disagree with the stuff after. I prefer learning to pointing out lack of learning.

              Given that the ideas of personhood and relationships long predate those of the Trinity, we can know with considerable certainty that you are wrong.

              Bahahahahahahaha. Your logic is adorable. I’ll let you keep it.

              Since I work with quantum field theories every day, […]

              Really? Are you of the “shut up and calculate” approach? If not, what’s your preferred interpretation, and can you tell me the problems with it? Can you make sense of the following:

                  In order to properly understand the nature of this argument, let us first derive from what has been recalled above the obvious lesson that (as already repeatedly noted) quantum mechanics is an essentially predictive, rather than descriptive, theory. What, in it, is truly robust is in no way its ontology, which, on the contrary, is either shaky or nonexistent. (On Physics and Philosophy, 148)

              ?

            • josh

              “Yep, you might give it a try sometime: admitting ignorance about topics you haven’t studied.”
              When we come to one I will happily do so. Do you want to talk about the politics of Lichtenstein? I’d be at a loss.

              “Tell me, what you have studied on divine simplicity?”
              The Summa Theologica would be a good start.

              “I know plenty of physicists who disagree, at least when asked to talk
              about the connection between the wavefunction and observed, experienced
              reality.”

              You’re confusing an open question with a Mystery. The wavefunction is well defined. It’s a useful tool for handling reality. Whether it is a complete description is not currently known.

              “Oh hello, atomism.”
              No, that’s not atomism.

              “I prefer learning to pointing out lack of learning.”
              And yet you accused me of being wrong about dogmas. But maybe you’re aware that you didn’t actually point out a mistake.

              “Bahahahahahahaha.”
              Must be learning something in another window.

              “Really? Are you of the “shut up and calculate” approach? If not, what’s
              your preferred interpretation, and can you tell me the problems with it?”

              Really. In practice, essentially all working physicists have to shut up and calculate. But I lean towards the Many Worlds interpretation, which has no formal problems but is not easy to prove to everyone’s satisfaction. (In principle one would like to observe interference effects from other observers.)

              “Can you make sense of the following:…”
              Since I don’t know what ‘this argument’ refers to, I’m not certain. It seems to imply that quantum physics makes predictions but doesn’t assign ‘ontological’ reality to the terms of the theory. But this can be done with any theory so it’s not a very interesting claim to me.

            • Luke Breuer

              Tell me, what you have studied on divine simplicity?

              The Summa Theologica would be a good start.

              Was that an answer to my question? Have you read the Summa Theologica?

              You’re confusing an open question with a Mystery.

              Actually, this is precisely how many Christians have understood ‘Mystery’. From Timothy Ware’s The Orthodox Church:

                  The life of the Church in the earlier Byzantine period is dominated by the seven general councils. These councils fulfilled a double task. First, they clarified and articulated the visible organization of the Church, crystallizing the position of the five great sees or Patriarchates, as they came to be known. Secondly, and most important, the councils defined once and for all the Church’s teaching upon the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith—the Trinity and the Incarnation. All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language. The bishops, when they drew up definitions at the councils, did not imagine that they had explained the mystery; they merely sought to exclude certain false ways of speaking and thinking about it. To prevent people from deviating into error and heresy, they drew a fence around the mystery; that was all. (20)

              The process of “excluding certain false ways of speaking and thinking” is the process of investigating the Mystery more and more. Popperian falsification is explicitly modeled after saying what doesn’t happen. Shall I quote from The Logic of Scientific Discovery?

              No, that’s not atomism.

              Then we disagree.

              And yet you accused me of being wrong about dogmas. But maybe you’re aware that you didn’t actually point out a mistake.

              Oh really. Let’s see:

              josh: The Trinity isn’t particularly philosophical or foundational, it’s a theological dogma arrived at by the religious need to reconcile various uncritically accepted premises.

              Please quote something, before the Council of Trent (which distinguished between ‘doctrine’ and ‘dogma’), which states the Trinity as a ‘dogma’, or some synonym that you can demonstrate means what you mean by the word ‘dogma’. Oh, and solve the problem of the one and the many, please. For that’s a major thing the doctrine of the Trinity attempts to do. Furthermore, I’m with Roger Olson: Must You Believe in the Doctrine of the Trinity to Be a Christian?—his answer is “no”.

              But I lean towards the Many Worlds interpretation, which has no formal problems but is not easy to prove to everyone’s satisfaction.

              No formal problems? How about the generation of probabilities? See Many Worlds? Everett, Quantum Theory, and Reality, as well as Sean Carroll’s note on probabilities in Why the Many-Worlds Formulation of Quantum Mechanics Is Probably Correct and especially The Wrong Objections to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics:

              Which saddens me, as an MWI proponent, because I am very quick to admit that there are potentially quite good objections to MWI, and I would much rather spend my time discussing those, rather than the silly ones. Despite my efforts and those of others, it’s certainly possible that we don’t have the right understanding of probability in the theory, or why it’s a theory of probability at all. Similarly, despite the efforts of Zurek and others, we don’t have an absolutely airtight understanding of why we see apparent collapses into certain states and not others.

              Tim Maudlin talks about the probability problem in Quantum Non-Locality & Relativity:

              The many-worlds theory is incoherent for reasons which have been often pointed out: since there are no frequencies in the theory there is nothing for the numerical predictions of quantum theory to mean. This fact is often disguised by the choice of fortuitous examples. A typical Shrödinger-cat apparatus is designed to yield a 50 percent probability for each of two results, so the “splitting” of the universe in two seems to correspond to the probabilities. But the device could equally be designed to yield a 99 percent probability of one result and 1 percent probability of the other. Again the world “splits” in two; wherein lies the difference between this case and the last? (4n1)

              So, perhaps you’d like to update your stance on that “no formal problems”?

              Since I don’t know what ‘this argument’ refers to, I’m not certain. It seems to imply that quantum physics makes predictions but doesn’t assign ‘ontological’ reality to the terms of the theory.

              Yep, it means that all [contemporary] physics tells you is about appearances, not reality. And hence, the instrumentalism vs. realism debate is quite alive; I just wrote a tutorial on the matter. You do know the difference between instrumentalism vs. realism, right?

            • josh

              Wee, I’m back in the saddle, hoping against hope that something will reach you.

              “Was that an answer to my question? Have you read the Summa Theologica?”
              Yes.

              “Actually, this is precisely how many Christians have understood ‘Mystery’….The process of “excluding certain false ways of speaking and thinking” is the process of investigating the Mystery more and more.”

              Nope. Declaring “the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith… [on which] All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language,” is not leaving an open question. Something beyond human understanding and language is not something that may be answered one day. And a fundamental doctrine of the faith is not considered an open question. Declaring certain interpretations to be false is not making something an open question.

              “Then we disagree.”
              We do, but I happen to know what I’m talking about. Atomism posits that the universe is made up of indivisible units with (possibly) void in between. A field is infinitely divisible and has no void.

              “Please quote something, before the Council of Trent (which distinguished between ‘doctrine’ and ‘dogma’), which states the Trinity as a ‘dogma’, or some synonym that you can demonstrate means what you mean by the word ‘dogma’.”

              Why before the Council of Trent? The Trinity is a dogma of the Catholic Church. That’s that.
              http://www.theworkofgod.org/dogmas.htm#Dogma-I-Trinity
              If you want an early source try the Nicene Creed.

              “Oh, and solve the problem of the one and the many, please. For that’s a major thing the doctrine of the Trinity attempts to do.”

              Ha. No it doesn’t. It’s an attempt to reconcile the formulation of ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’ with the requirement that there be only one, simple and unchanging God. The Trinity is a Catholic dogma. I nowhere said that all Christians regard Catholic dogma as definitive, although most do take the Creed as such.

              “No formal problems? How about the generation of probabilities?”

              Sigh. I answered a question you asked out of politeness. This was not an invitation to start a debate about the ‘best’ interpretation of quantum mechanics. You calculate probabilities in MW just as you would in other interpretations. You may have a conceptual problem with understanding this, that doesn’t make it formal. In a wave-function collapse interpretation you have the formal problem of not having defined a ‘measurement’ that does the collapsing.

            • Luke Breuer

              LB: One ousia, three hypostases—what’s the contradiction there?

              josh: The one is supposed to be absolutely simple, it can’t have parts or aspects. If there was no contradiction the Church wouldn’t feel obligated to declare it a Mystery.

              LB: I’m not up on the doctrine of divine simplicity, and I’m not going to trust your analysis of it, given what you’ve said so far. You’ve simply demonstrated zero competence in the relevant areas.

              LB: Have you read the Summa Theologica?

              josh: Yes.

              Alright then, perhaps you can teach me some things. Let’s zero in on this:

              LB: It’s not like you’re free from The Problem of the Many, yourself. The Trinity is not like Newtonian physics, it is much more basic, more philosophical, more foundational.

              josh: What a presumption! Science has been able to handle this ‘problem’ for a long time, via effective theories. A ‘whole’ composed of parts is not a fundamental thing, but it may be treated as a singular thing if certain conditions hold which make the approximation valid.

              Tell me:

                   (1) Is ‘Reason’ one, or many?
                   (2) Is ‘Science’ one, or many?

              Before you answer, I caution you to check on the status of Russell’s Logical Atomism and Wittgenstein’s Logical Atomism, taking into account Quine’s confirmation holism. Furthermore, there is this, from David Bohm:

                  Indeed, when this interpretation is extended to field theories,[7] not only the inter-relationships of the parts, but also their very existence is seen to flow out of the law of the whole. There is therefore nothing left of the classical scheme, in which the whole is derived from pre-existent parts related in pre-determined ways. Rather, what we have is reminiscent of the relationship of whole and parts in an organism, in which each organ grows and sustains itself in a way that depends crucially on the whole. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, xi)

              I quoted this before; you responded:

              josh: Since I work with quantum field theories every day, I can tell you there is no ‘law of the whole’ discussed in them. Maybe you should try to understand what I say before heading off to toil in the quote mines.

              Let me quote more from Bohm, and see if you can respond with anything other than “no”:

                  The first important step in this development was to study in more detail just what is implied in the suggested new interpretation of the quantum theory, beginning with the one-body system[1] and going into the many-body system.[2][3] In these studies (especially those involving the working out of detailed trajectories) it became clear that even the one-body system has a basically non-mechanical feature, in the sense that it and its environment have to be understood as an undivided whole, in which the usual classical analysis into system plus environment, considered as separately external, is no longer applicable. This wholeness becomes even more evident in the many-body system, in which there is, in general, a non-local interaction between all the constituent particles, which does not necessarily fall off when these particles are distant from each other. What is yet more striking is that the inter-relationships of the parts (or sub-wholes) within a system depends crucially on the state of the whole, in a way that is not expressible in terms of properties of the parts alone.[4] Indeed, the parts are organized in ways that flow out of the whole. The usual mechanistic notion that the organization, and indeed, the entire behaviour, of the whole derives solely from the parts and their predetermined inter-relationships thus breaks down. (Causality and Chance in Modern Physics, intro)

              I take it you disagree with the last sentence? If so, are you taking into account entanglement?

            • Luke Breuer

              Nope. Declaring “the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith… [on which] All Christians agree in regarding these things as ‘mysteries’ which lie beyond human understanding and language,” is not leaving an open question.

              We disagree.

              Something beyond human understanding and language is not something that may be answered one day.

              Do quote and cite precisely where a permanent barrier to human knowledge is being placed. I am somewhat aware of the Essence–Energies distinction, for example. There is also a sense that no matter how much you learn about a person, there is more to learn. But you appear to be affirming some firmer boundary to further knowledge. What is the nature of this boundary?

              And a fundamental doctrine of the faith is not considered an open question.

              How many “fundamental doctrines of the faith” are there, in your opinion? Is the list short enough to enumerate?

              We do, but I happen to know what I’m talking about. Atomism posits that the universe is made up of indivisible units with (possibly) void in between. A field is infinitely divisible and has no void.

              What would falsify this physical atomism? Is it even falsifiable?

              Why before the Council of Trent?

              Because doctrine hardened into dogma around that time, per Toulmin as I quoted. Indeed, the seventeenth century was likely a hardening into dogmas on all sides, including science. The adoption of the mechanical universe, with its reductionism and atomism was firmly held. First you had the idea that everything could be “geometrized”, advanced by Descartes, then you had the idea that everything could be described in terms of the natural sciences. This dogma turned out to be false:

                  The time seems ripe, even overdue, to announce that there is not going to be an age of paradigm in the social sciences. We contend that the failure to achieve paradigm takeoff is not merely the result of methodological immaturity, but reflects something fundamental about the human world. If we are correct, the crisis of social science concerns the nature of social investigation itself. The conception of the human sciences as somehow necessarily destined to follow the path of the modern investigation of nature is at the root of this crisis. Preoccupation with that ruling expectation is chronic in social science; that idée fixe has often driven investigators away from a serious concern with the human world into the sterility of purely formal argument and debate. As in development theory, one can only wait so long for the takeoff. The cargo-cult view of the “about to arrive science” just won’t do. (Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look, 5)

              Really, I suggest reading Stephen Toulmin’s Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Here’s an excerpt on some of the dogmas Toulmin identifies:

                  The principle elements, or timbers, of the Modern Framework divide into two groups, reflecting this initial division of Nature from Humanity. We may formulate the dozen or so basic doctrines, and discuss them here in turn. On the Nature side of the division, we find half a dozen beliefs:

              • Nature is governed by fixed laws set up at the creation;
              • The basic structure of Nature was established only a few thousand years back;
              • The objects of physical nature are composed of inert matter;
              • So, physical objects and processes do not think;
              • At the creation, God combined natural objects into stable and hierarchical systems of “higher” and “lower” things;
              • Like “action” in society, “motion” in nature flows downward, from the “higher” creatures to the “lower” ones.

              On the Humanity side, we find half-a-dozen similar beliefs:

              • The “human” thing about humanity is its capacity for rational thought or action.
              • Rationality and causality follow different rules;
              • Since thought and action do not take place causally, actions cannot be explained by any causal science of psychology;
              • Human beings can establish stable systems in society, like the physical systems in nature;
              • So, humans have mixed lives, part rational and part causal: as creatures of Reason, their lives are intellectual or spiritual, as creatures of Emotion, they are bodily or carnal;
              • Emotion typically frustrates and distorts the work of Reason; so the human reason is to be trusted and encouraged, while the emotions are to be distrusted and restrained.

              Of course, many of these dogmas have since been overturned, but they were held dogmatically. If you want examples of still-held dogmas, see naturalism and physicalism. Reductionism is I think on its way out. What exactly the “laws of nature” are like is very much up in the air, although some dogmatically hold them to be omnipresent, timeless, and descriptive (sound familiar?). Others, like Sean Carroll, say “unbreakable patterns”, to avoid the causality. I think we need the contents of Robert B. Laughlin’s A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down to help us get our heads out of our butts on this matter.

            • Luke Breuer

              Sigh. I answered a question you asked out of politeness. This was not an invitation to start a debate about the ‘best’ interpretation of quantum mechanics. You calculate probabilities in MW just as you would in other interpretations. You may have a conceptual problem with understanding this, that doesn’t make it formal.

              Ok, if you want to define ‘formal’ that way, alright. What I meant to point out was a philosophical problem. We generally make advances in science by positing an ontology behind the equations; the fact that MWI cannot do this with probabilities is, in my judgment, an active hindrance to figuring out deeper and more complex ways that reality works.

              I brought this up to gauge whether you could see philosophical problems in your own field. The jury is still out.

              In a wave-function collapse interpretation you have the formal problem of not having defined a ‘measurement’ that does the collapsing.

              Say hello to Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem. Either your system is consistent and you cannot know that it is, or it has a contradiction. In your case, you cannot say why probabilities work as they do; you cannot assert that MWI is actually true. All you can say is that it “saves the appearances” (see Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances).

              I prefer to dig underneath the surface and find the why, instead of happily standing at the surface, baselessly asserting that.

            • Peter_Franks12

              But hey, it’s not clear that you’re actually interested in understanding my position.

              Said someone who is not interested in anyone else’s position. Oh, the irony burns in this one!

            • Luke Breuer

              An empty accusation, without evidence. Indeed, yet another in a series line of attempted character assassinations. Well, color me sad, but not surprised. But hey, if you want to actually support your claims with the burden of proof, then I would happily try to learn from them.

            • Peter_Franks12

              without evidence

              Strange remark coming from someone who is upset about how, and complains that, atheists are always demanding evidence from him.

            • Luke Breuer

              Another empty accusation, without evidence. Do feel free to back up your character assassination attempts, any time. I do like becoming a better person than I was before.

    • Luke Breuer

      How curious; Aeon.co just published Dallas G Denery II’s Can God lie? on 2015-02-26 (subtitle: “Until the Scientific Revolution, God’s power included a licence to deceive. How did science make an honest man of Him?”).

    • D Rizdek

      See, the god of the OT probably was trying to present himself as the three in one thingey all along, but some the folks writing the stuff that ended up in the Bible just didn’t realize it. Many passages in the OT do refer to the godhead in the plural. This sites explains more about it: http://web.ccbce.com/multimedia/BLB/faq/nbi/330.html

      And just because the folks that wrote the stuff down failed to understand and sometimes presented things about God using the “God as a one” phraseology, doesn’t mean the subjects of the story…Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and lots of other important OT people were confused. The stories were written about them, not by them.

      Conclusion…there are some hints of the Triune godhead in the OT and there would’ve been more if the writers had all understood the nature of their inspiration a little better.

      • Tim Tian

        So the Bible is very inaccurate.

        • D Rizdek

          My post was me playing God’s advocate…it’s what I think the response and rebuttal would be to this line of reasoning, for what that would be worth.

        • D Rizdek

          IMHO, the Bible doesn’t even qualify to be judged accurate or inaccurate. It is a religious book that tells us their ideas of how they interacted with their god(s). In that regard, it was probably pretty accurate. That is how they thought they interacted with their god and what their god(s) did. But did most of that stuff happen. I doubt it.

          • Tim Tian

            Maybe we can get it renamed inaccurate book of rituals.

    • Roger

      Only three? I WONDER!! St Peter in his 2nd letter verses 3-6 says we are partakers of the divine nature. And therefore children of God. Does that make us Gods??

      • Andy_Schueler

        Just fyi, the second Epistle of Peter was not actually written by Peter.