It has sometimes been objected that science deals not in analogies but in concrete real, cause-effect inferences. In contrast, Intelligent Design problematically argues by analogy (I.e., the designers mind is analogous to human minds).

I contend that all or nearly all science is by analogy and ID can embrace it’s analogical baggage or else force a dilemma that your anti-ID folks probably don’t want.

In ID a designer is inferred on the basis of (1) seeming/apparent design in nature plus (2) the idea of how human minds are known to design things. If DNA, the goldilocks zone, flagellum or immune systems seem designed (because of their seemingly irreducible complexity, specified complexity, or fine tuning) then one infers that there exists a mind partly like and partly unlike human minds. It’s like human minds in its ability to foresee, intend and generate designed objects. It’s unlike human minds in its level and manner of design and in operating where no known human mind would have been operating. The designer, then, is analogous to human designers for being like but not identical to any or all human minds.

Science operates the same way inferring inductive generalizations on the basis of repeatable tests. The conclusions drawn from this method assume that this rhesus monkey, though different from that rhesus monkey, is still similar enough to draw an inferences by analogy. If this rhesus monkey, or these 1000 rhesus monkeys, respond positively to the treatment then rhesus monkeys generally respond positively to the treatment. This is valid normal science. After controlling for all the variables a cautious inference can be made about the animal tests regarding Drug X. That is literally an analogical inference.

Here’s the thing though; all science does this except in cases where there is only one member to the sample. Science can test to see if the last living Dodo bird can swim, and make conclusions on that basis. But the moment they generalize regarding the swimming habits of all (now deceased) dodo birds they commence with analogical argumentation.

Note. This is not simply a case of illustrating ones argument by use of analogy. That is called, unfortunately, an argument by analogy. These should not be confused. Almost all science draws inferences by way of analogy and needs analogical relations if it is to generalize any of its conclusions across different times, different places, different contexts, or different members of a set. But science does not need analogical illustrations except for heuristic (teaching/explaining) purposes or theoretical abstractions. The issue at stake here, and the case I’m making, can be called analogical inference since the analogy regards the things themselves not just illustrations of those things.

Now there is a way to keep from admitting such dependence on analogy in the sciences, but many materialists and some immaterialists won’t like it. The answer is to reject the more popular nominalism and embrace good old fashioned platonism. This is variously called formalism and realism and has many different kinds but all its variations affirm that there exist real immaterial forms/universals/essences/natures which are, at least in part, identically shared between all members of a set. Every man has a real human nature shared by every other human. Every monkey has a real form of “monkey” shared identically with every other monkey.

Now platonism can get pretty complex and no effort is made here to elaborate and defend it. It does however offer an escape hatch for any science minded person who scorns affiliating science with analogical inference.

Perhaps our spiritualized christian lingo is too quaint and gentle to capture the filthy reality of ACTUAL Christian living. We use terms like “Powder my nose” and “Water closet” or “Restroom” to describe our physical need to defecate or urinate. Spiritually, we have analogous needs to purge the refuse and filth we imbibe. Sometimes we’ve consumed trashy TV, dirty music, foolish practices, foul language, bad ideas, stupid beliefs, and gross images. Other times, we’ve ingested good things like friendship, love, prayer, and Scripture but we still garner residue that needs to be expelled such as sinful motives, selfish expectations, or misinterpretations. Either way, the purging of various errors and evil from inside us is a necessary part of spiritual health. Without purging there is no purification.

And so, “purity” can be Christian lingo pasteurized, processed and prepackaged into safe sermonic soundbytes for our ready consumption. Yet where in that process do we encounter the gross and painful process that makes purity possible?

***Grossness Warning!!!!***
I have a colonoscopy scheduled for today, and let me tell you, the preparation for this procedure has not been pleasant. I have to totally empty out my intestinal tract so that the doctor can scope it. I don’t envy his work. But neither is my status anything to envy. I have been on a clear liquid diet going on 28 hrs now, and it will be about 36 hrs worth by the time of the procedure. The diet is uncomfortable, as my caloric intake has dropped almost 100%. My stomach is growling, but in all fairness, it’s really just a fast. Nothing too complicated here. Plus, I could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m pretty thankful for that diet because it makes the rest of this preparation a little more bearable. I have to take large doses of two kinds of laxatives. I have taken, per the doctor’s orders, 4x’s the over-the-counter dosage of pills, and drunk 60 ozs of syrupy water laxative. It’s gross, but I can “stomach” it. We’ll see if I can “colon” it too. I’ve stayed close to home all day, and especially close to the bathroom. My weight has fluctuated between down seven pounds, up seven pounds, and down seven pounds again–and all I’ve had is fluids (water, broth, and black coffee, and plain tea). All of this preparation is supposed to make a nice clear track for the doctor to be able to investigate inside me with a little light and camera and see if there is anything wrong in there. I’ve heard people call this process a “cleanse” but speaking from experience, you do NOT feel clean.

I don’t like to revel in potty humor, or gross-out jokes, but I couldn’t get away from the parallel between this gross and painful preparation and the equally gross and painful process of spiritual purification. Moreover, a similar illustration surfaced, turning my mind back to the concept of purging. I watched about 7 minutes of a scary movie called “The Purge.” It’s premise was that a society would “purge” it’s violent barbaric instincts once a year in wild street violence. I’m not sure I’ll finish the movie, there doesn’t seem to be enough redeeming value to justify consumption. The concept however, struck me as a negative illustration of purging. All purging has a degree of strain, pressure, and perhaps pain. But this purging flowed from an animalistic and worldly view of human nature. Freudian “catharsis” was painted all over this ugly picture. That is, the purge was a cathartic indulgence of man’s basest instincts. No one got rid of sin, or evil, or error. It was just a buffet of barbarism, as if wonton violence somehow dissipates the hot sin stored up inside. There was no purification there. Private sin just went public for one day a year.

Actual purification does not work like that. It is not a catharsis of sin. Purification is a literal purging, like a laxative, yes, in all it’s disgusting anti-glory. It does not indulge sin it expels it. Catharsis, such as road rage, or kissing the secretary, or eating the whole chocolate cake, is precisely the opposite of purging. It is binging. Real purging purification does not dismiss, accommodate, or excuse sin–as we are prone to do. The man who wants real purity takes extreme measures, even uncomfortable and painful measures, to expel sin and selfishness. This is our spiritual preparation for those intrusive internal procedures at the hands of the Great Physician. We may think that this struggle with sin the “big” issue, but underneath our crap there may be cancerous death lurking unseen. God searches us inside and out because He has a vested interest in our purity precisely because He is interested in our lives. He wants real, beautiful, meaningful life for all of us. The question is, are WE that interested in purity or do we want only that level of purity that is still comfortable, pretty, and painless? Are we satisfied letting any budding destruction lurk inside of us, unseen? When we excuse our various impurities we are doing just that, we tolerate death and destruction because we don’t want to deal with the pile of crap on top of it.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Posted: February 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Deism is, at the same time, one of the least popular and most popular religious positions in the world.

Self-proclaimed deists are rare anymore. Hardly anyone claims “deism.” As a worldview, deism is that “middle-ground” between traditional God-belief and naturalism. It takes most everything that naturalists and atheists revel in, but adds a creator God. No miracles. No prophecy. No Bible. This is a religious half-way point so you do not have to look like a “godless heathen” but neither do you have to defend such academic outcasts as healings, resurrection, or prophecies. Deism was very popular in the Enlightenment and wove throughout the English, French, and American revolutions. But nowadays, people are more likely to claim theism (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc.) or some sort of atheism/agnosticism. In that sense, deism is historically expendable, a stage on route to wider atheism, secularism, and naturalism. In the 20th century, deism has resurfaced in the occasional philosopher (Antony Flew), or scientist (Max Planck), but institutionalized deism, religious deism, or any widescale deistic “movements”–these never amounted to much.

Yet, in another sense, deism is perhaps the popular religious position in the world. How is that?

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

Sociologist and author Christian Smith explains this worldview in 5 claims.
1) A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.
2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
3) The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.
5) Good people go to heaven when they die. (see, Smith, “On Moralistic Therapeutic Deism . . . ” pg. 1-2)

Without unpacking each of these points, we can recognize facets of theism minus the more challenging distinctive features of Christianity. In this watered down version our lives are man-centered, not God-centered. Salvation is by works, not faith and grace. Miracles and divine interaction aren’t interesting topics. Christian living is about being “moral” not about glorifying God. “Goodness” is relative, shallow and far removed from holiness or righteousness. The Gospel of Self-esteem replaces the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, we don’t need rescue from sin and hell, so much as we need relief from too-much humility. God’s is but a cosmic janitor, a rich uncle, or a vending machine; He is not father, savior, friend, or anyone with whom we’d be personally involved or who would want to radically reorient our lives. And the prophetic and divine revelation of God in Scripture? Forget about it. This notion of “Therapeutic Moralistic Deism” moves from theological to pragmatic, and from interpersonal to instrumental. God becomes not the subject of our attention but the object of our manipulation, and we becomes the central aim of all our spirituality.

The three elements of Smith’s coinage, “Therapeutic Moralistic Deism” summarize this shift from theism to deism, holiness to moralism, and from resurrection to therapy. Implied in this revitalized deism is another shift, a fault line you might say, in the transition from conviction to apathy. You might notice, in Smith’s 5 claims, that there is no clear conviction that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, or THE life. Typical among many Christians today–note I’m not talking about irreligious people, but folks who would tend to call themselves “Christian”–among such people, Jesus is one among many gods, for all intents and purposes, since Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists (eh-hem), all worship the same god by a different name. This is Religious Pluralism, and it is a widespread belief–inimical to biblical Christianity (see John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:5). If the Gospel storyline is true (see Romans 1-10), then human sin is a really big problem and nothing short of complete rebirth, entirely by God’s grace, will suffice to rescue man from himself, his sin, and its consequences. Sin is so bad, because God is so good, so holy; sinning against God is as heavy as God is holy. Since God is infinitely holy, our sin of infinitely “heavy.” The difficult doctrine of damnation is the shadow cast by the laudible doctrine of Holiness. This is a not an comfortable story to tell. The story of man’s fall into sin, his wallowing in the mud, the insult it casts on God, the mud we track everywhere we go, our inability to wash it off by ourselves, our disqualification from holy things and holy places, and our unworthy standing before God’s cleansing grace. This storyline is embarrassing, it’s tough to defend, and it’s pretty ugly till you get to the final chapters. Many of us have “cleaned it up” in our own mind since we like a lot of what Christianity offers, but we don’t like the sharp corners, the rough edges, and the ugly shadow it casts on us–it makes us look like filthy rotten sinners who don’t deserve to be saved and can’t save ourselves. But that is the tough teaching of historic Christianity. IF that biblical Christian gospel is true. Then Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is false. If Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is true, then all that emphasis on the gospel, on God-centered living, on “dying to self,” and so on, all of that is overkill. It’s distasteful excess, like too much salt on your meal. It’s detracts from the pleasant happy, this-worldly experience of Christianity. In the Gospel of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism there is no urgency to evangelize, since most faithful religious people are going to heaven. There is no great demand on YOUR life for missions, gospel invitations, or being all “Christiany” since your own self-styled views of Christ are strictly personal, private, and every else’s different, conflicting, and contraditory views are just as valid. Who are we to judge?

And so we see what may be the most deadly difference in Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the shift from heaven to earth; a transcendent worldview to worldly views of transcendence. Instead of finding the meaning, aims, and objectives of this world cast in light of the world beyond, one casts the world beyond in light of this world. In this deism, we try to understand heaven in terms of present mortal standards of “good” and “happy.” We fail to treat this life as an investment in the future, where there are opportunities, beauties, pleasures, and meaningfulness beyond what we can yet conceive. With no great sense of heaven’s glory, we are pretty much focused on earthly pleasure, assuming that the “end times” will take care of themselves, and our “eternal fate” will be just peachy. In classical Christianity, however, the ephemeral experience of life on earth is made meaningful only as a symbol of and segue to God’s manifest presence. This life, lived in a “worldly” way is akin to thin stratches on paper; but cast across the meaningfulness of heaven, holiness and Yahweh God, these mortal scratches on the thin calendar paper of time can become WORDS! Our lives MEAN something. Our bounded meanings signify eternal realities in a saving storyline of poetic justice and beautiful resolution amidst loving discourse between a people and their God. The exclusive claims of the Christian Gospel point out that not just any scratches will do. All the wordless scribbles and doodles of the other world religions are meaningless gibberish destined to become crumbled papers in the fire.

The motivations behind therapeutic moralistic deism are sensible enough. Historic Christianity is, in many ways, unfashionable. It’s countercultural. It’s the wild-haired fundamentalist in a room of tidy liberals. But the heart of the matter is simply this. Is Christianity true? If reality is stricter, messier, and stranger than our modern molds permit, then perhaps Christianity is the truest fit. If human nature is as Scripture suggest, then the vaulting humanism behind Therapeutic Moralistic Deism must come crashing down eventually. If sin is as big a problem as Scripture suggests, then nothing short of Divine invasion can claim our lives for heaven. If the God of the Bible is real, then the God of deism is not. If death is as Scripture says, then deism might tidy up the corpse, but only Christ can raise the dead. Therapeutic Moralistic Deism is the fluffy pillow in the coffin, but Christ is the resurrection.

FSM Montage 2
You may not consciously believe in the flying spaghetti monster, but if you affirm Multiverse Theory–as many atheists, agnostics, and anti-theists do–then you really do believe in his Meatball Noodliness. Here’s how.

Premise 1: To account for the vast improbabilities of this universe, this universe is treated as one among many, perhaps, infinite universes [Multiverse theory]
Premise 2: Given infinite (or nearly infinite) universes every logical possibility becomes a metaphysical inevitability (or near inevitability) [i.e., all possible options are tried, so every remotely possible state eventually occurs]
Premise 3: The Flying Spaghetti Monster is logical possible [as are unicorns, leprechauns, tooth fairies, etc.] since they are not logically incoherent.
Conclusion: Therefore, the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

There you have it. If one agrees with multiverse theory, where the number of universes are so vastly expanded as to make inevitiabilities out of the many improbabilities of this universe, it is virtually certain that at least one of those many universes has a flying spaghetti monster. For that matter, one may add to the collection of actualized creatures, unicorns, fairy god mothers, tooth fairies, leprechauns, and honest lawyers. All of these exist!!!

Music helps me feel.

Posted: February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

I don’t know about you, but music is emotion therapy for me.

I updated my music library recently, transferring a bunch of old CD’s to digital format so I can listen to them on my smart phone. It has been fun because these songs have memories tied to them. And many of them tie into my emotions and experiences too.

Looking through my updated music list is a bit like opening up my own personal box of emotions. It’s sort of like pandora’s box, but instead of a divine law prohibiting me from opening it, here, the only thing that has kept me from opening it earlier or more often is my own mistaken sense of self-control, machoism, or some such insecurity.

Or maybe it’s more distraction and busyness that have kept me away.

Regardless, music reminds me that when I muster the courage to let those emotions out, they are rarely as scary as I feared. In the context of music, the emotional current is not chaos. The emotions are as melody to the careful guidance of rhythm. There are rules in the world, boundaries to reality; and of course, my own intellect, offering the support and order that my emotions need to be majestic and beautiful and not just wild and dangerous. In music, emotions submit to an underlying orderliness, passion plus pattern; the effect is that emotional discord gives way to beautiful resolutions, heartening revelations, and truthful insights. The penetrating glimpses made possible with good music are not strictly into the soul of the musician, they are just as penetrating for the audience. I’m not seeing the artist so much as I’m seeing Art; I’m not seeing that human, I’m seeing humanity. And that means me too.

Neuroscientists in recent studies out of the Matrix Lab in Boston have concluded that Neuroscientists themselves do not exist. This controversial conclusion has been met with shock and outrage by fellow scientists in related fields.

“Some of my best friends are neuroscientists. I don’t know what to think of this,” spoke one cognitive therapist.

“Does that mean a funeral? Are they dead?”, says one child psychologist.

“This is really hard to accept. What will I do?” one behavioral therapist said.

Despite the trouble accepting this conclusion, other scientific fields have reached smaller-scale conclusions already. Geneticists and chemists, for example, have often admitted that lab interns do not exist. “Lower than dirt,” “Not worth my time,” and “Lab monkeys,” they are often called. Senior scientists, however, considered their own existence secure. On the contrary, alleged “neuroscientists” have been showing in other studies that free will, good and evil, and the soul do not exist. Mind, they say, if it is anything at all, is nothing but brain. Conventional beliefs in “mind,” which they term “folk psychology,” are radically misleading, better understood as mindless determinism. “Nature” and “nurture” have forced everyone to “be” and “do” everything they’ve ever been and done.

This recent study just draws the next logical conclusion. All people who thought they were doing neuroscience have been under the false impression that they were using tools, studying data, constructing lab experiments, conducting science, and so on; but since these characters do not have souls, intentionality, free will, or any of that, they are not using tools, they are the tools. They are not doing science, they are being used to do science.

“What is left?” Speaks Dr. Vance Sandler, a research team member. “If our free will doesn’t exist, and the soul is illusion, then you have a complex computer where we once thought there was a human agent.”

Sandler goes on to say, “When things like morality, choice, intention, and all the stuff we call ‘self,’ when these don’t exist, there’s not really anything left to distinguish an individual neuroscientist from electric blips on a circuit board.”

The research team in Boston is poised to present their findings in several journals over the coming months. The team has yet to answer questions from the media about whether reporters exist.