Saturday, January 31, 2009

a few thoughts on 1 Cor. 15:5-8's use of the verb ôphthê in the aorist tense

I noticed that the greek aorist verb ôphthê used in 1 Cor. 15:5-8 to denote the appearance of Christ to Cephas, the twelve, the 500 bretheren, James and all the apostles, and Paul in verses 5-8 are in the indicative mood and passive voice.

Jeffrey A. Rydberg-Cox, Overview of Greek Syntax states regarding aorist verbe in the indictative mood that *The aorist or imperfect indicative stands in the protasis of past contrafactual conditions. The aorist or imperfect indicative with an stands in the apodosis.*

Rydberg also says that *The imperfect indicative stands in the protasis of present contrafactual conditions.*

Rydberg points out that *The passive voice denotes that the subject is acted upon.*

A contrafactual is A statement or other linguistic construction expressing an idea that is presupposed to be false, as I would go in the sentence I would go if I could.

Protasis refers to the clause expressing the condition in a conditional sentence, in English usually beginning with if.

Apodosis is the clause expressing the consequence in a conditional sentence, often beginning with then, as “then I will” in “If you go, then I will.”

Since ôphthê as used in 1 Cor. 15:5-8 asserts contrafactual conditions standing as protasis without corresponding apodosis, the appearances cannot be taken literally. Instead the author clearly meant the perception of Christ to be an invitation to religious drama by virtue of employment of the passive voice wherein the subjects are acted upon. The reader too, by faith, can partake of the ôphthê of Christ and become the corresponding apodosis of religious drama. The other use of protasis was as a component of ancient Greek drama followed by epitasis, catastasis, and catastrophe. The ancients were well acquainted with Greek drama and grammar. They would have implicitly understood the grammatical metaphor of aorist-indicative-protasis to the opening action of a religious drama. That this makes it quite likely that the author of 1 Cor. 15:5-8 actually meant to assert that members of the audience could partake of Christ via an envisioning through religious ecstasy seems reasonable.

Friday, January 30, 2009

My review of George H. Smith's "Atheism: The Case Against God"

Smith's book is brilliant (Good End Notes too). Rational arguments against the existence of god are solid and irrefutable. Maintaining faith in this fiction Christianity) has no rational basis. Smith asserts. "Atheists have long contended that the concept of god is unintelligible, this being a major reason why it cannot be accepted by any rational man. The theist who openly admits this cannot expect to be taken seriously. The idea of the unknowable is an insult to the intellect, and it renders theism wholly implausible." (Smith p.45) Smith shows how all definitions of god reduce to religious agnosticism. The agnostic's and Christian's common belief in the unknowable nature of god as expressed in alleged qualities such as ineffable, inexpressible, transcendent and unfathomable support the foregoing conclusion. This allows us to learn that "If god is completely unknowable, the concept of "god" is totally devoid of content, and the word "god" becomes a meaningless sound." (Ibid p.44) Therefor since "Religious agnosticism suffers from the obvious flaw that one cannot possibly know that something exists without some knowledge of what it is that exists." (Ibid p.43) Smith delivers to the reader the inescapable conundrum of Christianity. Two choices present themselves to the believer. Quit the defense of the supernatural, or broadcast belief in the existence of a supernatural being "while arguing that this being is knowable, at least to some extent, by the human mind." (Ibid p.46) To claim god is unknowable yet knowable is to forsake the keep of reason.

Chapter three explores various characteristics of god, so the reader learns that "...the attributes of the Christian God cannot withstand critical examination; the concept of God is permeated with ambiguities, contradictions and just plain nonsense." (Ibid p.50) Both positive and negative theology are failures in alleviating these logical inconsistencies. Negative theology defines what god is not while positive theology asserts what god is. Both fail because of the Laws of Logic, The Law of Identity: A is A or anything is itself; The Law of Excluded Middle: Anything is either A or not-A; The Law of Contradiction: Nothing can be both A and not-A. (Ibid p.143)

On page 47 Smith lists the attributes of god from the National Catholic Almanac: "...According to this source, God is "almighty, eternal, holy, immortal, mmense, immutable, incomprehensible, ineffable, infinity, invisible, just, loving, merciful, most high, most wise, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, patient, perfect, provident, supreme, true." How is it possible for the Catholic writers to declare god is incomprehensible yet list twenty-two other traits? Smith found a Christian explanation. George Finger Thomas in "Philosophy and Religious Belief" asserts that god is not only ineffable but also immanent. God cannot be both ineffable and immanent for to be incapable of being expressed or indescribable is to not exist while existing or remaining within and being restricted to the mind are contradictory. No being as depicted in the National Catholic Almanac can exist any more than can a square circle. Thomas fails to reconcile god's incomprehensibility with other attributes.

Christianity and agnosticism share the same irrationality. The agnostic has advantage over the Christian. She knows better than to assign qualities to od, for to say anything about god is to limit god. To assert god possesses characteristic A is to say that does not have attribute not-A. (paraphrased from John Hospers, "An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis") "Existence entails a finite nature, and if God exists, then God must be a finite being." (Smith p.49) Smith concludes that no attempt to define god succeeds. "After judging religious agnosticism - the belief in a unknowable god - to be indefensible, we examined Christianity's attempt to escape from the irrationalism of agnosticism while retaining the notion of a supernatural being. The escape was a total failure. The attributes of the Christian God are merely a disguise, an elaborate subterfuge designed to obscure the fact that the Christian God is also unknowable. God's characteristics, while supposedly giving us information about God's nature. Actually accomplish the reverse: they plunge us further into agnosticism." (Smith p.87)

The only flaw I noticed was in chapter nine "The Cosmological Arguments" While Smith succeeds in refuting "The First Cause Argument" for god by demonstrating decoupling of causality from the epistemological context of existence, for "To demand a cause for all of existence it to demand a contradiction: if the cause exists, it is part of existence; if it does not exist, it cannot be a cause ... Causality presupposes existence, existence does not presuppose causality ... Existence - not God - is the First Cause." Herein he implies the Steady State model of Cosmology. We now know through observational data of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation and the accelerated expansion of the Universe that the Steady State model fails. Smith wrote "Atheism: The Case Against God" in 1979, at least two years prior to Alan Guth's Inflation theory. Inflation is now established as a leading theory of cosmic origins. The Universe began uncaused by a Quantum Vacuum Fluctuation that gave rise to the energy potential of a Higgs inflationary field. This resulted in a rapid(10^-32 second) expansion of space-time of the order of magnitude of 10^50. There was no cause or causality associated with this primordial or indeed any other Quantum Vacuum Fluctuation. All the energy of the entire Universe was compressed into a Planck sized region at the inception of the Inflationary period much like a similar sized Black Hole. This means the Universe began in a state of maximum entropy; thus, no information from any time prior to the Inflationary epoch could have survived. This means no ordering from outside our Cosmic Domain could have been applied to either Inflation or the Big Bang. Additionally, the rapid expansion created much room for order to form. As the fundamental forces decoupled from one another via spontaneous symmetry breaking, the nature of energy, matter, and the dark energy/matter congealed into what we see or infer. This well known and verified scenario solves/refutes all of the cosmological arguments for god. A new afterward addendum to the book would thus seem to be needed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Fine Argument for the Impossibility of GOD

God's Spatial Unlocatedness Prevents Him from Being the Creator of the Universe: A New Argument for the Nonexistence of God

by Jeffrey Grupp, 2006.

Published in

Sophia: International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Metaphysical Theology and Ethics

Vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 5-23.

Curriculum Vitae: Jeffrey Grupp

I found Grupp's argument to be very strong. His paper is worth reading.

Altered Brain Activity In Schizophrenia May Direct Focus On Self

Yet more sound scientific evidence that human consciousness is a brain process.

ScienceDaily (Jan. 23, 2009) — Schizophrenia may blur the boundary between internal and external realities by overactivating a brain system that is involved in self-reflection, and thus causing an exaggerated focus on self, a new MIT and Harvard brain imaging study has found.

The traditional view of schizophrenia is that the disturbed thoughts, perceptions and emotions that characterize the disease are caused by disconnections among the brain regions that control these different functions.

But this study, appearing Jan. 19 in the advance online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that schizophrenia also involves an excess of connectivity between the so-called default brain regions, which are involved in self-reflection and become active when we are thinking about nothing in particular, or thinking about ourselves.

“People normally suppress this default system when they perform challenging tasks, but we found that patients with schizophrenia don’t do this,” said John D. Gabrieli, a professor in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and one of the study’s 13 authors. “We think this could help to explain the cognitive and psychological symptoms of schizophrenia.”

Gabrieli added that he hopes the research might lead to ways of predicting or monitoring individual patients’ response to treatments for this mental illness, which occurs in about 1 percent of the population.

Schizophrenia has a strong genetic component, and first-degree relatives of patients (who share half their genes) are 10 times more likely to develop the disease than the general population. The identities of these genes and how they affect the brain are largely unknown.

The researchers thus studied three carefully matched groups of 13 subjects each: schizophrenia patients, nonpsychotic first-degree relatives of patients and healthy controls. They selected patients who were recently diagnosed, so that differences in prior treatment or psychotic episodes would not bias the results.

The subjects were scanned by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while resting and while performing easy or hard memory tasks. The behavioral and clinical testing were performed by Larry J. Seidman and colleagues at Harvard Medical School, and the imaging data were analyzed by first author Susan Whitfield-Gabrieli, a research scientist at the MIT Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute.

The researchers were especially interested in the default system, a network of brain regions whose activity is suppressed when people perform demanding mental tasks. This network includes the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex, regions that are associated with self-reflection and autobiographical memories and which become connected into a synchronously active network when the mind is allowed to wander.

Whitfield-Gabrieli found that in the schizophrenia patients, the default system was both hyperactive and hyperconnected during rest, and it remained so as they performed the memory tasks. In other words, the patients were less able than healthy control subjects to suppress the activity of this network during the task. Interestingly, the less the suppression and the greater the connectivity, the worse they performed on the hard memory task, and the more severe their clinical symptoms.

“We think this may reflect an inability of people with schizophrenia to direct mental resources away from internal thoughts and feelings and toward the external world in order to perform difficult tasks,” Whitfield-Gabrieli explained.

The hyperactive default system could also help to explain hallucinations and paranoia by making neutral external stimuli seem inappropriately self-relevant. For instance, if brain regions whose activity normally signifies self-focus are active while listening to a voice on television, the person may perceive that the voice is speaking directly to them.

The default system is also overactive, though to a lesser extent, in first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients who did not themselves have the disease. This suggests that overactivation of the default system may be linked to the genetic cause of the disease rather than its consequences.

The default system is a hot topic in brain imaging, according to John Gabrieli, partly because it is easy to measure and because it is affected in different ways by different disorders.

This study was supported by the Mental Illness and Neuroscience Discovery Institute, National Association of Research in Schizophrenia and Depression Stone Award, National Institute of Mental Health, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health’s Commonwealth Research Center, the Poitras Center for Affective Disorders Research at the McGovern Institute/MIT and the National Center for Research Resources. Other contributors to the study were Heidi W. Thermenos, Snezana Milanovic, Robert W. McCarley, Martha E. Shenton and Joanne Wojcik (Harvard Medical School); Ming T. Tsuang (Harvard Institute of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Genetics); Stephen V. Faraone (State University of New York); Alan I. Green (Dartmouth Medical School), Alfonso Nieto-Castanon (MIT); and Peter LaViolette (Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as today.

The following links to an informative article describing the science that shows pre-industrial CO2 levels were about the same as they have been throughout the past two centuries.

CO2 is not causing warming or climate change. It is not a toxic substance or a pollutant

A recent email exchange with Larry, a Christian minister

Hello Larry: Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I apologize for the
tardiness of this response. Its been a busy day. The many positions in
your response, that if actually held by a person would indicate they
have been the victim of an improper education, draw attention like a
neon sign in the night. First, I'd like to assure you that I
personally like and respect you although I strongly disagree with you
in matters religious and philosophical. To speed my reply, I'll adopt
a wide spread practice of quoting your text within [bracket] symbols.

Larry wrote [God "became" a homo sapiens.]

This is impossible. The Law of Identity cannot be broken or refuted.
A=A. A does not equal not-A. Man cannot be GOD, nor can GOD be man.
Besides there is no valid and sound historical evidence the Christian
Messiah actually existed as a real historical person. See "The Jesus
Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the
Existence of an Historical Jesus" By Earl Doherty for a very competent
case against the historical Jesus.

Consider that in ACTS 23:26-31 we find Claudius Lysias' letter to
Felix. This letter makes no sense in light of a historical Jesus, but
is readily explained if Paul believed Jesus to be and was always a
spiritual divinity that performed its salvific action only in the
spirit realm. Claudius' letter claims he was present in the council of
the Jews when Paul explained his case. Claudius found Paul to be only
in dispute with the Jews over a matter of their law. If Claudius had
heard Paul say something like, "Jesus was recently a living man who
the Jews tricked the Romans into condemning and crucifying, but GOD
raised him from the dead. And we know this because he was seen alive
by the Apostles", Claudius Lysias was Greek and likely an initiate of
the Elysian mysteries with no belief in a physical bodily
resurrection. Claudius, being Tribune and top cop in Jerusalem, would
have thought Paul to have assisted the criminal Jesus in escaping or
that Paul knew who helped Jesus get away. So instead of sending Paul
to Felix with a nice letter, Claudius would have tortured Paul to find
out were the Apostles were and would have sent out the troops to find
Jesus and the Apostles. So it would seem Acts indicates that Paul in
the council of the Jews said nothing about Jesus being a man in
Jerusalem recently crucified by the Romans and raised from the dead.
If however he had instead presented Jesus as a spirit world deity
similar to an ordinary god, Claudius Lysias would have acted as he is
recorded as doing in Acts 23. In Rome of the first century, it was a
capital crime to deify any person after their death other than the
Emperor. If Claudius had heard Paul doing so, he would have had to
have arrested Paul on charges of treason. But Claudius sent Paul on to
Felix, so Claudius heard Paul and the Jews disputing only about
matters of Jewish law and not about a physical historical Jesus. This
is very well explained if Paul believed Christ Jesus to be only a
spirit world deity. Paul's silence regarding details of the alleged
life of Jesus is strong evidence no such life actually existed as we
very strongly expect Paul to relate to his congregates in terms of his
Lords alleged life.

I also strongly recommend the works of Dr. Robert M. Price. Especially
his "Deconstructing Jesus"

and "Incredible Shrinking Son of Man"
Taken together these three books make a good case for an entirely
mythical Jesus.

Larry wrote [Christianity doesn't assert that mankind is "vile" nor
that God hates mankind. ]

In my prior missive I did not assert GOD hates mankind. However,
Christianity's doctrines of HELL and Original Sin along with the
notion that YAHWEH is morally perfect taken together indicate that
human beings have no intrinsic worth to GOD. YAHWEH condemns all
humans to HELL not because of any thing they do but because of what
they metaphysically are, (ie: sinners). Christianity asserts its GOD
is morally perfect in so doing and is goodness itself. Thus YAHWEH is
perfectly justified in sending all humanity to be tortured in HELL
forever. If YAHWEH were to exist and is thought to be sovereign in the
sense of complete free-will and to be Omnipotent, then whatever YAHWEH
wished to obtain would and would be good. If it is good to send all of
humanity to HELL as YAHWEH wills, then humanity must be awful and
devoid of worth otherwise YAHWEH would not be morally perfect or
goodness. Thus the implication of the afore mentioned Christian
doctrines do assert humans are horrible and lack any merit.

Larry wrote [ He loves us.]

Any attributable quality assigned to the Deity would necessarily have
to be viewed as a metaphysical primary. Love is a human emotion not a
metaphysical quality. It follows from the assignment of value to the
love object. Only beings that have needs can have values. The
hypothetical Deity in question is logically incapable of valuing
anything as it is allegedly an eternal, infinite, perfect,
indestructible, self-sufficient, self-contained, complete being which
lacks nothing. If it did exist, it would not act in the interest of a
goal. It would have no basis for goal-setting whatsoever. It will
always be what it is, nothing can change it, nothing can harm it,
nothing can threaten it, nothing can deprive it, nothing can be of any
value to it, for nothing can benefit it. It would be incapable of
valuing anything, and thus it would be incapable of love. If the
Christian GOD existed, it could do nothing for any action would
diminish its perfection and perturb its sufficiency.
If YAHWEH/Jesus existed it could not love, nor could it be love as
love is simply a human emotion that comes from assigning value to
something that is needed or desired.

Larry wrote [He has rescued us,]

Sir, you are invoking the Christian doctrine of the Atonement. There
are many problems with this dogma that many hundreds, if not
thousands, of very well educated Christian theologians and apologists
have wrestled with. It is beyond the scope of this reply to even
scratch the surface of the Atonement. However, I will point out an
obvious flaw in the case for the Atonement; it violates the principle
of final causation. An Omnipotent being by definition does not utilize
means to achieve an end. Whatsoever it wishes to obtain simply does.
No muss-no fuss. The entirety of the Christian Jesus story is a means
to an end, the salvation of mankind. If an Omnipotent Deity existed
and wished to save mankind via conferring immortality and remaking
the basal metaphysical essence of humanity, it would simply wish it,
and "poof"; it would be so. The allegations of Christianity are strong
evidence that such a Deity does not exist or if it does exist (in
contradiction of the Law of Identity) that it is not interested in our

For more on the problems with the Atonement see "The Case Against
Christianity" by Michael Martin.

and "Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity"
by John Loftus

[ We are a sinful people...] Within the context of Christianity, sin
is violation of the Will of YAHWEH. As neither YAHWEH nor its will
exists, there can be no such thing as sin. However, please open your
Bible and turn to Numbers chapter 31:1-18. If a person murders and
commits genocide in the name of YAHWEH, the Christian GOD, she is
good. Now turn to Numbers Chapter 25:1-9. Here if a person worships
the divine essence by honoring the BAAL (or a god other than YAHWEH),
he is to be killed, and the leaders of the people were executed as
human sacrifices to the Christian GOD. In the Christian Bible, murder,
genocide, rape, pillaging, slavery, and human sacrifices are the will
of the Christian GOD. Also see 1 Samual 15:1-3. The Christian GOD is
a monster. Thus sin has nothing to do with right or wrong and
everything to do with the will of the alleged Christian GOD. It should
be noted that our ability to honestly question the goodness of YAHWEH
is proof beyond a doubt that YAHWEH is not goodness and consequently
not GOD.

Larry wrote: [ you owe it to us Christians not to distort what we teach...]

I do not distort what the Bible teaches. Perhaps you distort the
teaching of your sacred stories. I cannot say as I have not read your
stuff except for your LRC essay and this response.

Larry Wrote [Your citation of "law" is itself an assertion of the divine.]

Logic, the uniformity of nature, and morality arise as axiomatic facts
of material existence. Last year I wrote an essay on this subject. It
is available at

Larry wrote [ every creature must have a creator]

Divine creation is impossible as it requires cause and effect or
causation. But causation is the Law of Identity in action. Causes
produce effects because of the basal metaphysical material essence of
the cause and that which is acted upon to produce effect. To say
creation occurred is to say causation was operative before the Law of
Identity was extant. This is incoherent by virtue of
self-contradiction, and therefore divine creation is clearly
impossible. Additionally, I composed a syllogistic argument showing
creation is impossible based on the writing of Ayn Rand. Ir follows.

1. To believe that a theistic creator deity exists, the believer must
imagine their deity was in some timeless fashion akin to "before"
existence alone in a timeless, non-spatial, void, without matter,
energy, location, dimensions, fields, concepts, knowledge, symbols,
perceptions, physical natural law, logic, or referents. And that it
then wished existence to instantiate.

2. Consciousness is an axiomatic irreducible primary process that at
the most common denominative rung on the ladder of complexity consists
of awareness of existence.

3. Consciousness of consciousness necessarily requires primary
consciousness to first obtain as awareness of existence.

4. Prior to existence there could not have been anything to be aware of.

5. Without anything to be aware of, there could not have been any awareness.

6. Without awareness there could not have been any consciousness.

7. From 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 there could not have been a primordial
consciousness prior to existence.

8. Creator gods are defined as primordial consciousness.

9. From 7 and 8 Creator gods cannot exist.

For further reading on cause and effect see "CAUSATION AND THE LOGICAL

But it should be noted that to disprove the very ancient (and true)
argument against the Abrahamic theistic GOD I mentioned in the prior
missive, the Law of Identity has to be shown to be false. I failed to
find anything in your reply that directly addressed this. To restate
my prior argument, I submit the following.

1.To be GOD, YAHWEH must be an ontological person that is infinite in scope.

2.To be an ontological person is to have a specific identity.

3.To have a specific identity is to necessarily be finite.

4.YAHWEH has a specific identity.

5.YAHWEH therefore is necessarily finite and cannot be infinite.

6.By modus tollens from 1 and 5, YAHWEH cannot be GOD as it cannot
both be infinite and finite.

To refute this argument the Law of Identity must be shown false. If
someone were to be successful in showing the Law of Identity false,
the implication then would be that there is no material existence for
material existence requires the Law of Identity. If what we understand
to be the world around us does not actually exist, then it is a
fantasy of some sort as are we. Then all the evil in the universe is
directly attributable to the source of the fantasy. If that were
YAHWEH, then it would be directly responsible for all the suffering,
pain, misery, death, affliction, natural disasters, predator-prey and
parasite-host relationships. The infliction of suffering for sheer
enjoyment of witnessing sentient beings in misery qualifies as EVIL.
If the Law of Identity is false, and if YAHWEH is responsible for what
we think of as reality, then it is malevolently EVIL. And all who
worship YAHWEH are duped and deceived.

Larry Wrote [... every great mind until very recently believed in a
supernatural Deity or deities...]

Faith is the opposite of reason and constitutes the abrogation of
rationality. Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the
material provided by our senses. It is how we integrate our
perceptions by forming abstractions or conceptions. Reason raises our
knowledge from the perceptual level to the conceptual level. The
method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the
art of non-contradictory identification. Reason is our only means of
grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge is derived from
reality by means of sensory perception or the extension of the senses
through instrumentation. The acceptance by faith of mythical imaginary
beings is the rejection of reason and means that humanity should act
regardless of or in contradiction to the facts of reality. That many
smart people make the mistake of having faith is no evidence the
fantasies they embrace are reality. I had a few thoughts on that topic
posted to the blog.

Larry wrote [...These people were far brighter than you and I put together.]

Yes. Christian scholars have a long history of defending their faith
by denying reality often in very sophisticated and subtle ways. In
"The Non-Existence of God" Nicholas Everitt does are splendid job of
showing up many of the classic Christian defenses for the shams and
hoaxes they are. See

Larry wrote [...but those "laws" do not govern the person holding the brush.]
Larry your making a category mistake here. To be transcendent is to
not be in space or time that is to not be in reality. Unless the agent
exerting influence is in reality, it cannot exert influence. All that
exists is existence. To infer the encapsulation of existence by
employing a rather clever metaphor, " but those "laws" do not govern
the person holding the brush", is to say there is causality without
cause and effect or that there is Identity without Identity. This
defies reason and is irrational in the sense that the inference is
repugnant to reason.

Larry wrote [ God doesn't hate mankind...] Your right and your wrong.
Your wrong in that GOD is a metaphysical descriptor not a name or a
title. To be GOD the entity must exert all its powers all the time
without fail. Your right in that none of its powers includes the
capacity to hate. The argument I made above regarding love also
applies to hate. The Abrahamic Deity is incapable of any emotion or
thought or will. It however is alleged to have these attributes. Aside
from this being yet another incompatible property rendering the notion
of GOD incoherent and thus impossible, my previous argument regarding
the doctrines of HELL and Original Sin still stand. Christianity
asserts humanity is worthless and contemptible. The Christian GOD
cannot hate any more than it can think or hear prayers.

Larry wrote [I think you hate God.] Of course I hate GOD. I, hate all
gods and all religions just as I hate all lies and liars. All
religions are vile and disgusting to me. They are based on lies and
fraud and are used to control the minds of human beings. Reason
demands all people be free. They cannot be free if they are deluded.
As Denis Diderot wrote: "Man will never be free until the last king
is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

Larry wrote [He came to earth to make peace between mankind and God -
by taking the form of Jesus Christ,]

Again the inference to the Atonement is troublesome for the Christian
religion. The notion of the Atonement is found in Torah's Paschal Lamb
sacrifice ordinances. The following is an essay I wrote in an effort
to help me understand this issue.

The Author of Acts thought the Torah Law came from an angel. In Acts
7:37-38(RSV) Stephen's speech reads in part: "This is the Moses ....
This is he who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the
angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he
received living oracles to give to us. "

The Apostle Paul thought that the Torah Law came from angels. In Gal
3:19 (RSV) "Why then the law? ... and it was ordained by angels
through an intermediary." , Paul directly stated this.

The author of Hebrews thought the same. When discussing the Torah Law
in Hebrews 2:2 (RSV),
"For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;",
he ascribes the Torah to angels.

This is how the Paulian Christians were able to get around the
assertions of the earlier Jewish Christians that the Torah Laws had to
be obeyed. Paul's special pleadings would have carried no
argumentative weight if his opponents could appeal to the words of the
divine Yahweh. If there were no word's of the divine Yahweh in the
Torah Laws, then Paul's contentions were as good as those of the
Jewish Christians in the James, Mandean, Nasoraean, and Ebonite cults.
The problem with this view is that it requires the Paulian Christian
to steal the concept of the Passover Paschal Lamb sacrifices that
under gird the doctrine of the Atonement. If the Torah Laws found at
Exodus 12:43-50 and Numbers 9:9-14 were given by angels, then they
were never in actual effect by any god. The Paulist needs to assert
the Passover Paschal Lamb sacrifices were in effect to vivify the
doctrine of Atonement, but she also needs to deny validity of the
Torah Law in order to makes Paul's special pleading to the doctrine of
Grace seem valid. The early Catholics understood this and
consequently they wrote the doctrine that angels delivered the Torah
into the mouth of Stephen to facilitate Hellenization of Christianity.

If Yahweh actually exists and is responsible for the Torah law,
Christianity is false, and the way to relate to deity is via Judaism.
An interesting pair of Biblical contradictions falsifies
Christianity, and the archeological record falsifies Judaism. A
contradiction entailed between the alleged revelations of Christianity
and Judaism is the formers glorification and dependence upon symbolic
consumption of blood offered in sacrifice. 1 Cor. 11:23-25 relates "
23: For I received from the Lord, that which I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, took
bread, 24: and having given thanks broke [it], and said, This is my
body, which [is] for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25: In like
manner also the cup, after having supped, saying, This cup is the new
covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye shall drink [it], in
remembrance of me. "

Judaism's alleged revelation in Lev 7:22-27 states "22: And Jehovah
spoke to Moses, saying, .... 26: And no blood shall ye eat in any of
your dwellings, whether it be of fowl or of cattle. 27: Whatever soul
it be that eateth any manner of blood, that soul shall be cut off from
his peoples."

Jesus is identified as Yahweh in the following passages. John 1:1,
John 1:14, John 8:58, John 10:30-31, John 10:38-39, John 14:9, John
20:28, Acts 20:28, Col 1:16, Col 2:9, 1 Tim 3:16, Titus 2;13, Phil
2:6, Heb 1:8, Rev 1;17, and Rev 22:13.

The Bible assures the reader that Yahweh cannot lie as expounded in
the following passages. Num 23:19, 1 Sam 15:29, 2 Sam 7:28, Titus 1:2,
Heb 6:18.

The Bible also relates that the Law of Moses is a perpetual Covenant
that cannot be rescinded ever. Gen 17:19, Ex 12:14, 17, 24, Lev
23:14,21,31, Deut 4:8-9, 7:9, 11:26-28,1 Chron 16:15, PS 111:7-8,
Psalm 119:151-2, 160, Mal 4:4, Matt 5:18-19, Luke 16:17.

If Yahweh exists, then either Judaism is a true revelation or it
isn't. If Moses got a true and correct revelation, then that
revelation is incompatible with and contrary to Christianity, and
Jesus and Paul were wrong, self-deluded, and Jesus cannot be equal to
Yahweh. On the other hand if Moses was a deceiver or a myth, then
Judaism is a fictional religious fairy tale, and Jesus and Paul were
incorrect, self-deluded, and Jesus cannot be Yahweh because
Christianity presupposes Judaism to be a true revelation. Either way
Christianity is false, and Jesus is not Yahweh.

If Paul had the truth and his Law of Moses as schoolmaster argument
(Gal. 3:24) was true, then either Yahweh lied to Moses or the Bible's
assertion that Jesus equals Yahweh is false. Either way the Passover
Paschal Lamb sacrifices, that under gird the doctrine of the
Atonement, found at Exodus 12:43-50 and Numbers 9:9-14 would be
invalid and the entire pretext of Christianity would evaporate.
Additionally, if Yahweh is a liar, then it is not most worthy of
worship, and . If Yahweh is not most worthy of worship, then it cannot
be God and the Christian God must be something else. If the Bible's
assertion that Jesus equals Yahweh is false, then Christianity's
dependence upon a truthful historical Judaism is also a lie and the
use of Old Testament proof texts to support Christian claims is
fallacious and there could not then be Christ as Jewish Messiah.

Both Moses and Paul cannot be correct, but both can be wrong. If
Moses, the Exodus, the Conquest of Canaan, the
Davidic-Solomon-Reboaham unified empire are myths cooked up by the
eighth century BCE Judean Yahweh cultists in response to the
prosperity of the Omri-Ahab dynasty of the northern Israel kingdom and
territorial encroachments of the Assyrian empire, then the Mosaic Law
and the Torah are human fabrications. And Jesus, the Jews, and Paul
were wrong and self-deluded. Christianity presupposes and requires
Judaism to be a true revelation from Yahweh, but if the Bible
minimalists are correct, as they appear to be, then Judaism is just
another mythological religious fairytale, and the New Testament's
equivocation of Jesus and Yahweh is a lie, and there was never a first
Passover. Without a first Passover as per the story in Exodus 12,
there is no basis for the Passover Paschal Lamb sacrifice laws. This
would be fatal for Judaism and Christianity. This case is supported
by the statement of the alleged prophet Jeremiah at Jer 8:8 "How can
you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'? But
behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made {it} into a lie.:

My brief candle burns low. Thank you for your reply and taking time to
read my scribblings. I sometimes hang out at John Loftus' blog

John is a very smart and well educated Christian apologist who
deconverted from Christianity after thoughtful consideration of the
religion's claims and the facts of modern science that contradict
them. Perhaps if you have time and wish to engage in online discussion
of these important issues you may drop by sometime.

Best Regards and Wishes for Continued Success

Robert Bumbalough

Our brains are the seat of our consciousness

"The brain and its satellite glands have now been probed to the point where no particular site remains that can reasonably be supposed to harbor a nonphysical mind." Edward O. Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, (First edition, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), p. 99.

A Ghost in the Machine:
The existence of the soul

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Global Warming is Nonsense

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Brief Essay on the God of the Gaps Fallacy

God of the gaps arguments are often used by religious believers to assert their god exists. Such arguments often have the following form.

1. Human knowledge does not include X.
2. It is impossible for X to be caused or explained under naturalism.
3. Therefore, God did it.

The believer's burden of proof for premise 1 is to show that the relevant scientific literature does not include X. The believer must show an exhaustive survey of the relevant scientific literature to support their first premise. Any failure to show a dearth of knowledge dooms the argument.

In order to validly make premise 2, the believer must have omniscient knowledge of all natural phenomena to rule out any possibility of natural causation. This neither the believer nor any other person can do, for human beings are not omniscient. Conceptually, the Uniformity of Nature is secure. No instance of a supernatural explanation supplanting a natural cause has ever been observed. The converse, however, has been witnessed many times. The history of science is the history of sweeping away superstitions, of showing alleged supernatural explanations to be not even wrong. The context of supernaturalism is not the context of reality. Fantasies of gods, demons, angels, spirits, magic, fairies, incorporeal beings and such can neither be right nor wrong, for they are not part of or even related to reality. (Additionally, it is amusing to note that by making premise 2, believers blaspheme their idea of God by predicating they are omniscient. Comparing their minds to God or asserting they are God constitutes blasphemy.)

Even if the first two premises were sound, the conclusion would not follow. Under a supernatural worldview, there are an infinite number of invisible magic beings or other causes that could be responsible for a given phenomenon. Most religionists actively seek to gloss over this uncomfortable fact of their worldview. Their feeble protestations notwithstanding, the preeminent standing granted to the primacy of consciousness and mere alleged possibility renders any "god of the gaps" conclusion Non Sequitur.

Despite the obvious irrationality of this type of argument, religious believers continue to predicate their assertions at least in part thereupon. Why? If what they believe is so believable, then why do they believe by faith what is propped up by obvious and ostensively fallacious arguments? Blank out. Could it be that what the religious believer claims is not actually believable?

What does it mean for something to be believable? The primary definition of believable is "to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so".

What does it mean to say that something is the truth? The first three definitions of truth are:

1. the true or actual state of a matter:
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity: .
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like:

For something to be believable human beings must be able to have confidence or reliability that the given proposition is the actual state of the matter that is in conformity with the fact of reality in the sense of a verified and indisputable objective event. What must the religious believer do in order to be confident that what she believes is actually believable – actually in conformity with the fact of reality? The believer, if she is to be honest with herself, must accurately compare her faith propositions with actual reality and accept only those propositions comparing favorably. But if the believer does not need absolute proof of being right in so doing, then she need not be concerned that any proposition she believes "true" be only probably in conformity with the fact of reality. By accepting as absolutely true propositions that only probably compare favorably with the fact of reality, is the believer not disrobing the primacy of existence of meaning? In so doing the believer is finding a back door to a primacy of consciousness fantasy and thereby reversing the proper epistemological subject-object order of her own consciousness.

With a subject of thought-object of thought reversal in hand, it then becomes child's play to hold god of the gaps arguments as valid and sound reasons to believe. By ascribing a probability of truth to god of the gaps arguments, the believer inculcates a sense of correctness for her propositions and justifies ignoring any lack in comparing correctly with reality. This vivifies her subject of thought-object of thought epistemic reversal. Self-purposed feedback loops tend to reinforce themselves on each run. A hysteresis effect ameliorates such feedback, yet as the loop progresses, the facts of reality dim. For that reason, it is vitally important for human beings to ground their cognition to the metaphysically actual and accept only that which is demonstratively in conformity with fact or reality. Thus lack of knowledge should lead us to be skeptical of the claims of god believers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Artificial molecule evolves in the lab

Artificial molecule evolves in the lab

Solution To Darwin's Dilemma Of 1859

Solution To Darwin's Dilemma Of 1859

ScienceDaily (Jan. 9, 2009) — A solution to the puzzle which has come to be known as ‘Darwin’s Dilemma’ has been uncovered by scientists at the University of Oxford, in a paper to be published in the Journal of the Geological Society.

‘To the question of why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these…periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer’.

These words, written by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species in 1859, summarise what has come to be known as ‘Darwin’s Dilemma’ – the lack of fossils in sediment from the Precambrian (c. 4500 – 542 Mya). If Darwin’s theory of natural selection was right, life evolved gradually over millions of years. However, the Cambrian period, which began around 542 million years ago, seemed to herald a sudden rapid increase in species diversity, an event which has come to be known as the ‘Cambrian explosion’.

Darwin could find no evidence for fossils prior to the Cambrian, and the mystery has continued to perplex palaeontologists. The study, carried out by Richard H. T. Ballow and Martin D. Brasier at the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford, focused on a rock formation from Shropshire, England, known as the Longmyndian Supergroup. These rocks had been examined in Darwin’s time by the geologist J. W. Salter, who suspected them of containing records of Precambrian life, but he was unable to identify anything beyond ‘trace fossils’: unusual markings which may have been left behind by organisms.

The study used Salter’s collection as well as fresh samples from the Longmyndian Supergroup, and identified microscopic fossils of exceptional preservation. The fossils represent a wide array of microbial life from the Ediacaran period, the period immediately preceding the Cambrian (630 – 542 Mya). They were preserved in a number of ways. Some had been compressed under layers of sediment until they formed a thin film of carbon residue on the surface of the rock. Others were preserved in three dimensions and are thought to have undergone permineralisation, a process where water containing minerals seeps into the spaces within an organism and evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits which build up into a hard fossil. Some had also been preserved as impressions and moulds within layers of sediment, appearing as sharp ridges on bedding planes, or as their equivalent negative impressions.

It is not clear how the microbes kept themselves alive. As they lived in shallow marine environments, they may have survived either by converting light into energy in a similar way to plants, or by converting organic substances into energy as animals and humans do. Suggestions as to what organisms they might be related to include algae, fungi or a wide variety of other filamentous bacteria.

Darwin himself was confident that fossils from the Precambrian would eventually be found, believing it to be a time when ‘the world swarmed with living creatures’. Although the importance of the Longmyndian supergroup in solving the dilemma has been recognised since Darwin first identified the puzzle, it is only now, with more sophisticated techniques for examining specimens, that the secrets of the Longmyndian rocks and their exceptionally preserved fossils can be uncovered.

Journal reference:

1. Richard H. T. Callow and Martin D. Brasier. A solution to Darwin's dilemma of 1859: exceptional preservation in Salter's material from the late Ediacaran Longmyndian Supergroup, England. Journal of the Geological Society, Vol. 166, 2009, pp 1-4

Adapted from materials provided by The Geological Society of London, via AlphaGalileo.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Free Will Defense Refuted and God's Existence Disproved (2007)

The Free Will Defense Refuted and God's Existence Disproved (2007)

By Raymond D. Bradley

The Free Will Defense Refuted and God's Existence Disproved By Raymond D. Bradley

The article at the above link is one of the best refutations of the FWD I've ever read.

Theism Fallaciously Asserts A Personal GOD Exists

This is done by use of Rene Descartes famed "Cogito ergo sum" ("I think, therefore I am") argument. Despite that the argument is false, theism uses it to launch its gangrenous GOD and enable the believer’s delusion. One cannot go from the premise “I think.” To the conclusion “I am.” Descartes needed an additional premise, “"Whatever has the property of thinking, exists." But the Descartes method of doubt rejects the additional premise. It can be argued that the first premise, “I think”, presupposes as an enthymeme, the proffered premise. The method of doubt, however, assumes that thinking is a property of the mediator. This contradiction renders the “Cogito” fallacious.

When it is pointed out to the believer that consciousness presupposes that existence exists independent of consciousness and that consciousness is a process of awareness of existence, they reply that their GOD existed as pure consciousness aware only of itself prior to the alleged first creative act. This is the primacy of consciousness fallacy and is deeply rooted in several other errors that results in an epistemological reversal of the relationship between thinker as subject of thought and that which is perceived, the object of thought. Existence actually exists and is independent of any consciousness. The proper relationship then between the thinker as subject of thought and reality as object of thought entails metaphysical primacy of existence over any form of consciousness. Theism fraudulently reverses the subject-object relationship by declaring its ruling consciousness to have priority and power over existence. In considering the subject-object relationship reversal, it is apparent three related fallacies enable the GOD-exist claim at issue.

Theism fallaciously asserts GOD exists

Expressed as a modus ponens syllogism, the Principle of Instantiation reads:

If X is instantiated, then X exists with properties.
X is instantiated.
X exists with properties

In order to claim that its GOD existed without existence as a consciousness alone that was conscious of only itself, theism makes the following modus ponens argument.

If G thinks, then G exists with properties.
G thinks.
G exists with properties.

This argument is very much like the Principle of Instantiation and can be derived by substituting “X is instantiated” with “G thinks”. The key here is for theist to validate the substitution.

In the “Affirming the Consequent” fallacy the argument is of the form "P implies Q, Q is true, therefore P is true." As a modus ponens syllogism:

If P then Q
Therefore P.

(“Affirming the Consequent” is a fallacy.)

In order to feel secure towards a subject-object relationship reversal, theism must validate the above mentioned perversion of the Principle of Instantiation. To do this it starts by presupposing an “Affirming the Consequent” to the effect:

If thinking obtains, then whatever thinks exists,
Whatever thinks exists.
Thinking obtains.

This fallacy is packaged with the question begging ad hoc assertion that “GOD thinks.” into a presupposed enthymeme that is used to validate the substitution of “G thinks” into the Principle of Instantiation. In this manner the reversal of subject of thought for object of thought as related to the fantasy of GOD is accomplished and reality is perverted in the theist’s imagination. They then go on their merry way delusionally believing their fantasy of GOD to be reality.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Faith vs Reason

Faith and reason are incompatible. There is no room in reason for faith, and there is no room in faith for reason. they are diametrically opposed. Reason is the faculty by which man identifies and integrates the material provided by or ultimately provided by his senses. Its method is called logic, which is the art of non-contradictory identification.
“Reason integrates man’s perceptions by means of forming abstractions or conceptions,” wrote Ayn Rand in “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World”; she continued: “thus raising man’s knowledge from the perceptual level, which he shares with animals, to the conceptual level, which he alone can reach. The method which reason employs in this process is logic—and logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.” She defined: “Reason is the perception of reality, and rests on a single axiom: the Law of Identity.- “Philosophy: Who Needs It” p.62

Mysticism, however, is the acceptance of allegations without evidence, against one's own reasoning, often despite the presence of evidence to the contrary. Its method is called faith, which is a short-circuit of the mind. Faith is the abrogation of the mind. The numbing of one's own perception of existence and ultimately the rejection of one's own right to live. “Mysticism is the claim to some non-sensory, non-rational, non-definable, non-identifiable means of knowledge, such as “instinct,” “intuition,” “revelation,” or any form of “just knowing.” Mysticism is the claim to the perception of some other reality—other than the one in which we live—whose definition is only that it is not natural, it is supernatural, and is to be perceived by some form of unnatural or supernatural means.” - Rand, (ibid p.62)

If evidence is available to support a claim, then a validating appeal to reason alleviates need for faith. Then there is no need to dispense with the requirement of evidence in order to accept the claim as true. Nonetheless, if there is no evidence, in support of a claim, yet acceptance of the claim as knowledge is desired, then only by dismissing the requirement of evidence in support of the claim, and accepting it in spite of the lack of evidence by “faith” can the claim be accorded truth status. Essentially, the process of believing by “faith” is a method of self deceit.

What is the nature of god-belief. Is it distinguishable from imagination? Can the god believer describe a method whereby another person may reliably distinguish any difference between what they believe god to be and what they imagine as god.? Depending on mystical epistemology of “faith”, the Christian would, if there were evidence to support their claim that 'god exists', not need to appeal to faith. She could appeal to reason, and since reason is the method whereby human beings are best able to ascertain reality, her knowledge would be validated. Faith would then necessarily be a fallacy.

In Hebrews 11:1 faith is described: "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." What is meant by "substance of things hoped for"? What is meant by "evidence of things not seen"?
Can such thing as 'substance' originating from hopes actually exist? Only if consciousness can create, modify, or manipulate reality. But that is impossible, for consciousness is merely an awareness of existence.
“If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something.” - Ayn Rand via Galt's speech in “For The New Intellectual” p.124

Rand's great insight that frees the minds of Humanity from the tyranny of Christianity is that “Existence exists”. Instantiated existing things cannot be 'created', for nothing comes from nothing; something cannot come from nothing. Conservation of Mass-Energy is fixed reality. Matter and energy may change form, but new matter does not suddenly appear from nothingness as is predicated by Christianity. Living beings are manufactured by nature, using elements, in the form of molecules, which already exist; our bodies put us together. That is why we eat regularly. The nutrients we eat are used by our bodies to grow. Our bodies are not created. A pregnant woman is referred to as "eating for two" when she dines. The nutrients she consumes are used both for her body, and for the body growing and being manufactured within her. No organism that ever lived, is living, or ever will live was, is, or will be created. Judging by that, the notion of 'hope' springing forth into 'substance' makes no sense.

Regarding 'evidence of things not seen'? If evidence cannot be detected by any sensory perception or instrumentation, then in what sense is evidence present? Information provided by our senses or instrumentation is necessary to claim that we have evidence. An objection that various phenomena cannot be detected by one or more senses yet is still admitted as evidence may be made? In such cases, the phenomena in question may be detected by other means. Employing Logic and the Law of Causality empowers the reasoner to deductively infer modally following conclusions from what ever valid evidence is available.

Is this what Hebrews 11:1 meant by 'evidence of things not seen'? Did the writer of Hebrews mean things that can be evidenced by appeals to our other senses or instrumentation? Or, did he mean wishful thinking? I speculate to the later. But no amount of wishing will accomplish anything for anybody. In order to reach any kind of goal in reality, human beings must use their innate reasoning ability.
To assert the contrary, that faith is superior to reason, is to presuppose, by faith, a vast array of propositions. Circular special pleading and gross question begging may operate to sooth the emotional needs of the religious acolyte, but in so doing they commit the fallacy of the stolen concept. “First identified by Ayn Rand, it is the fallacy of using a concept while denying the validity of its genetic roots, i.e., of an earlier concept(s) on which it logically depends.” - Leonard Peikoff “editor’s footnote to Ayn Rand’s “Philosophical Detection,” - “Philosophy : Who Needs It”. p.22 The advocate of faith over reason steals the conceptions of reality and causality while denying the genetic roots of existence. This they do to assert the primacy of their fantasy of a ruling consciousness. Thus faith is a method whereby Christian believers are able to deceive themselves.