Monday, November 16, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 7: SCANDALIZED (Paris 2015--Was Abraham a Killer?)

Which of the top three world religions best represents the God of Abraham?
As I was in the process of writing this post, at least 129 innocent people were being executed in Paris, in the name of the God of Abraham. Shouting “Allahu Akbar!” eight Muslim extremists, in a coordinated attack, bombed and shot Parisians and tourists who variously were dining, enjoying a concert, and attending a sporting event. Were these 129 victims soldiers who had attacked Islam? No. Were they particularly guilty of some heinous sin or crime? No. Just like the 3000 victims of the 9-11 Muslim extremist terrorist attacks in the United States, they were innocent bystanders. Just last month, a Russian plane, returning 224 vacationers from Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt were possibly bombed out of the sky. These passengers were, again, innocent bystanders, despite the fact that the Russian military itself had entered into armed conflict in Syria. The “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for these deaths. What kind of religion encourages, celebrates, approves of, or even quietly condones the killing of innocents? The Hebrew word for Hell is Gē Hinnom (the Valley of Hinnom), the name of an area outside of Jerusalem where apostate Israelites had sacrificed their innocent children to the false god Molech.
Due to this SCANDALOUS practice of killing children, Gē Hinnom became a name that forever after was considered cursed. Hell in both Judaism and Christianity is referred to as the Valley of Hinnom (Gehenna, in the Greek New Testament). So detestable was the thought of killing innocent children! I observe in my book PSYCHOTIC ENTELECHY:
“Like Judaism and Christianity, Mohammed proclaimed the God of Abraham the true God and opposed sins such as murder and adultery. Like Christianity, Mohammed proclaimed Jesus the Messiah, the son of the virgin Mary. . . . Like the Catholic Church and many conservative Protestant churches, Islam opposes the practice of abortion” (p.3). A few pages later in the same book, I comment: “Darwinistic views devalued the lives of members of some races and the victims of some illnesses. Amoral pragmatic philosophies have paved the way for abortion and the infanticide of baby girls in Communist China” (p. 8). In recent months, Americans have been SCANDALIZED by the revelation of Planned Parenthood officials and doctors who have allegedly been harvesting fetuses and aborted baby parts for sale and profit. It is SCANDALOUS to kill these innocent unborn children, in the first place, but even more SCANDALOUS to attempt to profit from this butchery. On pages 72-79 of PSYCHOTIC ENTELECHY, I analyze the abortion debate from most major philosophic perspectives. On page 76, I observe: “Roman Catholicism, Islam, Evangelical Protestants, and some Jewish groups sense danger in the materialist, naturalist, and humanist abortion entelechies. Sheler [in U. S. News and World Report March 9, 1992, page 54] observes: ‘[T]he Roman Catholic Church and Evangelical Protestants have been highly visible in opposing abortion.’ The Islamic world has also been a strong opponent of abortion on a global scale as have Orthodox Jews. Without a strong alliance between Islam and the Catholic Church, abortion would be much more rampant world-wide than it currently is. Discussing basic Jewish and Christian morality, a very early Christian text, the Didache, states: ‘Thou shalt do no murder . . . thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.’”
If Islam opposes the SCANDALOUS killing of innocent unborn children through abortion, what is it in the Islamic religion that would make Islamic extremists believe the God of Abraham would approve of them spilling the innocent blood in Paris on Friday the 13th of November 2015 or the innocent blood in the United States on 9/11/2001? We need only to consider the actions of Abraham--the common spiritual ancestor of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—to catch a glimpse of the God of Abraham.
The year was 1967--the year I graduated from Easton High School, in Easton, IL. The movie “The Bible…In the Beginning” had been released in the preceding year, but it had just now arrived at my local theater. It was directed by the famous film director John Huston, who received 15 Oscar nominations and 2 actual Oscars in his film directing career. I supported the movie by buying tickets and attending the screening. I recall an incident that occurred while I was watching the movie in the theater. It clearly made an impression on me, since I have remembered the incident all these years! George C. Scott, who portrayed Abraham in the film, was (unbeknownst to his screen son, Isaac) taking Isaac up Mount Moriah (the mountain later to become the Temple Mount in the days of King Solomon) because God had commanded him to sacrifice his son. Abraham required Isaac to carry the wood for the burnt offering, just as Jesus (2000 years later) was required to carry the wooden cross upon which he was to be crucified. Abraham bound Isaac and laid him upon the wood to which he would soon set fire, to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Some audience members sitting in the row behind me at the theater were aghast! They were SCANDALIZED by the pending event. I heard them saying to one another statements such as: “How could any good God require such a thing!” “I can’t believe in a God who would ask a man to kill his own son!” I realized that the audience members saying this were not familiar with the biblical account. I turned around and suggested, “Just keep watching. It’s not going to end the way you think.” In the biblical account (and the film), after Abraham had raised his knife to slay his son, the angel of God spoke to Abraham, telling him not to kill his son. God, instead, provided a ram whose horns had been caught in the bushes for Abraham to sacrifice, rather than to kill his only son. God was pleased with Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, however, despite the fact that God would not actually ask him to do such a thing. For any Jew (as it was for those sitting behind me at the movie theater), human sacrifice was SCANDALOUS!
The New Testament agrees with the account as described in the Old Testament (Hebrews 11:17 and James 2:21). While the Koran does not state explicitly that it was Isaac who was about to be sacrificed by Abraham, it does agree that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son: "O my son! I have seen in a vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills, one of the steadfast!" (37:102) While Muhammad Ghoniem & M S M Saifullah ( provide the argument that, even in the Koran, the son to whom Abraham was speaking in the Koranic account was actually Isaac, the much more common tradition among Muslims is that the son to be sacrificed was Ishmael, Abraham’s son through Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. Ishmael is considered to be a prophet in Islam and is thought to be a progenitor of Mohammed. The Koranic account does not include the biblical detail that the sacrificial victim was to be replaced with a ram, but it suggests that Abraham’s son is to be replaced with a “great sacrifice (Zibhin azeem).” Actually, I agree with Mohammed’s assessment that God would be replacing Abraham’s son with a great sacrifice, but who/what is this “great sacrifice”? How did the story of God commanding Abraham to commit human sacrifice (even if subsequently rescinded) become so significant in the religions of Israel, Islam, and Christianity? If the God of Abraham is the one who made the universe and creates and sustains all life, how can He ask someone to kill another innocent human being, let alone his own son? This seems SCANDALOUS! What is the significance of this Abrahamic sacrificial command? In my previous post, I presented the logical argument that the God who created and animates the universe in logical fashion (and whose own nature as a logical communicator argues consistently with the assertion that He) is the God of Abraham. This is the conclusion of the world’s three largest religions, but the question now arises: Which of these three religions best represents this God of Abraham? JUDAISM correctly makes the claim that it is the OLDEST of the three religions. There is certainly some validity to the argument that, as the first religion to identify the God of Abraham as the one true God, Judaism’s representation of that God deserves our attention. My master’s degree (in Hebrew) was taken at the feet of an internationally-respected Jewish scholar at Indiana University: Dr. Henry A. Fischel. I gained a great deal of insight concerning the God of Abraham from my Hebrew and Aramaic language studies of the Old Testament and the Jewish literature that was produced after the Old Testament period—in times much closer to New Testament times. My master’s thesis, Anamartetous Fallen Angels, which serves as the basis for much of my blog series, posted on this website, entitled “ANGELS & DEMONS,” supplies many insights into the nature of the God of Abraham derived from primarily Jewish/Hebrew sources. That master’s thesis was approved in writing not only by Dr. Fischel, but also by Christian scholar Dr. Paul Sampley and Islamic scholar Dr. Wadie Jwaideh. As it turns out, there is considerable agreement among the three religions in terms of angelology and other theological matters. Indeed, Christianity does not challenge the Jewish assertion that the Hebrew scriptures, which the Jews refer to as Tanach and the Christians refer to as the Old Testament, are supremely reliable accounts of the interactions of the God of Abraham with the Jewish people (in addition to various individuals living prior to the formation of the Jewish culture). Islam’s holy scriptures, the Koran (or Qur’an), likewise pay homage to both Christians and Jews as being “people of the Book” (presumably, alluding to the essential genuineness of the Christian and Hebrew scriptures). While Christians and Jews are in general agreement regarding the make-up and reliability of the Old Testament/Tanach, Muslims are less-enthusiastically supportive, suggesting that certain passages in the Old Testament (“the Book,” as the Koran refers to it) have become corrupted, over the years. On page 70 of Psychotic Entelechy, I phrase it this way: “Christians and Jews do not believe that the Koran is a collection of divine revelations, just as ‘Muslims believe that . . . Jewish and Christian scriptures have been corrupted and are no longer reliable, or are superseded by the Qur’an, and hence no longer necessary.’” Thus, most Muslims claim that it was actually Ishmael, rather than Isaac, who was the object of Abraham’s intended sacrifice.
From the time of Moses, the principle of killing a lamb as a substitute for losing the life of a child is reinforced. Rather than have the death angel take the lives of the first-born males of the Israelites as happened in the final plague upon Egypt, God told the Israelites to kill a lamb and smear its blood on each doorpost. The death angel would then “Pass Over” the household, leaving the first-born Israelite male from that family alive. To this day, Jews celebrate the Passover feast.
Why do Christians and Muslims not simply accede to the superiority of Judaism as the best representation of the God of Abraham? From CHRISTIANITY’S perspective, the Hebrew Scriptures were incomplete. That is, a major portion of these scriptures pointed to a future revelation of the God of Abraham in history. Jews, to this very day, understand that their scriptures promised the coming of a MESSIAH (Hebrew) or CHRIST (Greek). Islam is not the only one of the three religions that sensed that the killing of a ram was not a sufficient substitute for the sacrifice of Abraham’s son. Not only does the Koran suggest that Abraham’s son is to be replaced with a “great sacrifice,” even the Hebrew Scriptures recognize the ineffectiveness of animal sacrifices. David, in Psalm 69:31 suggests that God prefers songs of praise to the sacrifice of animals. Isaiah 1:11 states: "The multitude of your sacrifices-- what are they to me?" says the LORD. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats” (NIV). In a passage taken by the New Testament to be a prophecy concerning Jesus’ crucifixion, Isaiah 59:3-7 states: “3He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 4Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (NIV).
The Gospel of John describes a moment in which the statements of Jesus SCANDALIZED many of his fellow Jews. The substance of Jesus’ statements have to do with human sacrifice. This was considered SCANDALOUS by many of his countrymen. John 6:48-66 records the SCANDALOUS comments: “48I am the bread of life.49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” 52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. . . . 60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? . . . 66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (NIV). While some commentators suggest that what SCANDALIZED the crowds was a claim to be divine on Jesus’ part, I think it is clear that the SCANDALOUS nature of this account is that it proposes a human sacrifice. Just as Isaac had just turned 13 years of age at the time of Abraham’s test (and, hence, was considered “innocent” by Jewish culture, having just then arrived at the age for Bar Mitzvah—the age of accountability), Jesus, as it is contended by Christians was also “innocent.” He had lived more than 30 years, but was not guilty of any sin. Therefore, Jesus would qualify as an appropriate substitute for Isaac. He was offering himself as a HUMAN SACRIFICE. That was the part that was SCANDALOUS. Just as Jews had, for years, consumed the meat of the animal sacrifice they had offered for their sins, Jesus SCANDALIZED his countrymen by inviting them to consume his flesh and blood. No human in history has ever actually eaten Jesus’ flesh, nor had any of his disciples in the time John wrote his account. Therefore, John could not have understood Jesus’ words to be taken strictly literally.
(Actually, Catholics come close to taking his words literally, in their doctrine of Transubstantiation. They posit that the bread and wine of Communion literally are transubstantiated into Jesus’ actual flesh and blood at the moment they are consumed in the Eucharist. However, the Catholic Church fails to take into account the fact that the Gospel of John, in which this account occurs, is the ONLY ONE OF THE FOUR GOSPELS that does NOT present Jesus as instituting the Lord’s Supper! More on this point, momentarily.)
Yet, in a definite sense, Jesus’ words were to be taken literally! Jesus was literally going to become a human sacrifice. His blood was literally going to be poured out. His flesh was literally going to be killed. Like Isaac, he literally carried the wood on which he would be killed to the mountain. There is no Abrahamic substitute of a ram for his son, here—even though Jesus was quite literally a “son of Abraham,” as traced by the beginning of the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:2, and confirmed in Luke 3:34. The major logical point John has been making throughout his gospel is that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 36). The reason John does not present Jesus as celebrating the Passover meal with his disciples and introducing the Lord’s Supper, is because John is following a different Jewish calendar, according to which Jesus was killed at precisely the time Jews kill the Passover Lamb. He could not, therefore, eat the Passover meal (according to John’s calendar), because he was dead by the time it would have been consumed (the evening after it was killed). There is no substitute of a Passover Lamb, here; Jesus IS LITERALLY THE HUMAN PASSOVER LAMB. But, unlike the animal sacrifices which had no free will to offer their lives and unlike even Isaac who was bound by Abraham, and therefore coerced into becoming a potential sacrifice, Jesus VOLUNTARILY offered his own body and blood to be sacrificed. No one took his life; he gave it freely. John 10:18 presents Jesus’ words: “18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again” (NIV). This is the logic of Christianity. It meets the Koranic suggestion that Abraham’s son is to be replaced with a “great sacrifice.” It encompasses Isaiah’s view that God has “no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” It further presents Jesus as Isaiah’s suffering servant who was led to the slaughter like a lamb. It explains logically Isaiah’s thesis that “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” In my next post, I will discuss the logic of why Jesus’ sacrifice was the perfect substitutionary sacrifice.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 6: WHODUNNIT?

If the God of Logic exists—that is, an “agent” who “acts” in forming and animating the universe in “logical order,” using “rational communication,” in the process of accomplishing the personal “motives” of achieving “self-actualization” and developing “social” relationships—who is this God? The board game Clue® allows one to win that game, partly, by identifying all of the potential suspects and systematically eliminating each one until one has come up with the correct “agent” who “killed Mr. Boddy.” Like any good murder mystery novel, film, or television show in which the suspects are identified, scrutinized, and gradually, systematically, eliminated from consideration, we may refer to the game of Clue® as a “Whodunnit” (or, as it is more commonly spelled, “Whodunit”). Although I apologize for the fact that the term “Whodunnit” carries with it the connotation of the “agent” being involved in the commission of a crime (and, certainly, “creating and animating the universe” has not been considered to be a crime by any serious person), the same procedure that is used in Whodunnits may be logically employed for identifying which “god suspect” most logically should be credited with the formation of the universe.
THE LIST OF SUSPECTS The game of Clue® offers a finite list of possible suspects: Miss Scarlett, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. White, Mr. Green, Mrs. Peacock, and Professor Plum. Likewise, we may come up with a finite list of possible “god suspects.” It seems that, since the God we seek to identify uses “rational communication” for the purpose of developing “social” relationships with the only species to whom that God has given the ability to engage in creative “action”—namely, the human—the God we seek to identify should have, at least at some point, “communicated socially” with this human species. Marketing communication professors Moriarty, Mitchell, and Wells correctly point out that “everything communicates” (p. 55), and, as I pointed out in my post entitled The Logic of Christianity 4: “The shepherd-poet-lyricist-singer-turned-king, David, the author of many of the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible cites EMPIRICAL evidence in his poetic proclamations that God was easily detected in the formation of the universe.” This suggests that any objective observer of nature receives some communication from God, but that is not the kind of communication that is required when we suggest that the correct “god suspect” should have, at some point, “communicated socially” with this human species. If this empirical communication were the only form of communication used by the “god suspect,” we might be inclined to agree with the assessment of Albert Einstein which I pointed out in my post entitled The Logic of Christianity 3: “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it . . . I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Einstein, of course, CAN be wrong on some details. Logically, a God capable of and motivated to communicate socially with a species that that God designed and formed to be capable of similar communicative action would be expected to engage in such social communication. Therefore, an objective thinker might logically conclude that the identity of the correct “god suspect” would be known to mankind, being one of the gods identified by various human cultures throughout history. But who are these gods? The list is still finite, but fairly extensive. [FEEL FREE TO SKIM OVER THE GOD LISTS BELOW TO ARRIVE AT FURTHER COMMENTARY.] If one were to play the GAME OF CLUE with these characters, here is the list of characters you might include in your game:
Our list of “god suspects” includes the following MESOPOTAMIAN GODS (from a list supplied by the Ancient History Encyclopedia ): ABGAL (aka, Apkallu), Adapa (the first man) Uan-dugga, En-me-duga, En-me-galanna, En-me-buluga, An-enlilda and Utu-abzu, ABSU (aka, Apsu and Abzu), ADAD, Shala, ADRAMELECH, Anamelech, AJA (aka, Aya), AMURRU (aka, Amurru and Martu), Beletseri, ANSHAR, ANTUM, ANU, (aka, An), Antu, ANUNNAKI, ANZU (aka, Zu and Imdugud), ARAZU, ARURU, ASHNAN, ASHUR, BABA (aka, Bau or Bawa), Lagash, BASMU, BEL, BELIT-TSERI, BIRDU, BULL OF HEAVEN (aka, Gugalanna), BULL-MAN, CARA, DAGON (aka, Dagan), DAMU, DAMKINA, DILMUN, DUMUZI, EA/ENKI, ELLIL, EMESH, ENBILULU, ENKIMDU, ENKIDU, ENLIL, ENMESSARA, ENTEN, Enmesh, ERESHKIGAL (aka, IRKALLA), ERRAGAL, ERIDAN, ERRA/IRRA, ESEMTU, ETANA, Balih, ETEMMU, GALLA, Igalima, GARRA (aka, Gerra), GESHTINANNA, GESHTU (aka, Geshtu-e), GIBIL, GILGAMESH (depicted as either human or god), GISHIDA (aka, Ningishzida), GUGALANNA, GULA, GUSHKIN-BANDA, HAIA, HUMBABA, IGIGI, IMDUGUD, Pazusu, INANNA (aka, Innina), ISARA, ISHKUR, ISHTAR, ISHUM, KABTA, KI, KISHAR, KITTU, KULITTA, KULLA, KULULLU, KUSAG, KUR, LAHAR, LAHMU and LAHAMU, LAMA (aka, Lamassu), LAMASHTU, LAMASSU, LUGALBANDA, MAGILUM BOAT (aka, The Boat of the West), MAMMETUM (aka, Mamitu), MARDUK, Irra, MISHARU, MUMMU, Ea Mummu, MUSHDAMMA, Ninhursag, MUSHHUSHSHU, MYLITTA, NABU, NAMMU, NAMTAR, NANA, NANAJA, NANNA-SEUN, NANSHE, NEDU, NERGAL, NETI, NIDABA, NIN-AGAL, NINGAL, NINGISHZIDA (aka, Geshida), NINGIZZIA, NINHURSAG (aka, Belet-Ili, Damgalnunna, Nintu, Nintur, Mami and Mama), NIN-ILDU, NINKASI (aka, Ninkar), NINLIL (aka, Sud), Ninazu, NINSHAR, Enshar, NINSHUBUR, NINSUN, NINURTA (aka, Ishkur), NIRAH, NISSABA, NUSKU, PAPSUKKEL, PAZUZU, QUEEN OF THE NIGHT, Liltu, QUINGU (aka, Kingu), RAMMAN (aka, Rimmon, SAKKAN (aka, Sumuqan), SCORPION PEOPLE, SEBITTI, SHAMASH, SHARA, SHERIDA, SHULPAE, SHUTU, SIDURI, SILILI (aka, The Divine Mare), SIN (aka, Nannar), SUMUQAN (aka, Sakkan), SUMUGAN (aka, Shumugan), TABLETS OF DESTINY, TAMMUZ, TIAMAT, TIAMAT'S CREATURES, Musmahhu, Usumgallu, Basmu, Ugallu, Uridimmu, Girtablullu, Umu-Debrutu, Kusarikku, UMMANU, Enuma Elish, Edana, UMUNMUTAMKAG, URSHANABI, USMU (aka, Isimud), UTNAPISHTIM (aka, Ziusudra), UTTU, UTU (aka, Shamash), ZABABA, ZAKAR (aka, Zaqar), ZARPANIT (aka, Beltia), ZALTU, and ZU.
Our list of “god suspects” also includes the following GREEK GODS (from a list supplied by the WikiPagan ): Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, and, of course, Zeus.
Then, there are the ROMAN GODS: Apollo, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, and Vulcan. Add to these the EGYPTIAN GODS: Anubis, The Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma'at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, Ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, and Thoth. Other AFRICAN GODS include: Obatala, Yemaya, Chango, Oshun, Elegua, Oya, Ogun, Babalu-Aye', Ochosi, and Osain. INCAN GODS include: Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracocha, and Zaramama. AZTEC GODS include Quetzalcoatl and Tlaloc. IRISH GODS include: Angus, Belenos, Brigid, Dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Manannán mac Lir, and Kel. ANGLO-SAXON GODS include: Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thunor, Tir, Weyland, and Woden. NORSE GODS include: Asgard, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Fenrir, Forseti, Freyja/Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mani, Njord, Norns, Verdandi, Urd, Skuld, Nott, Odin, Ran, Saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, and Vor. LUSITANIAN GODS include: Endovelicus, Ataegina, and Runesocesius. ARMENIAN GODS include: Anahit, Astghik, and Vahagn. SLAVIC GODS include Belobog and Chernobog. Throw in AFRICAN GODS (Obatala, Yemaya, Chango, Oshun, Elegua, Oya, Ogun, Babalu-Aye', Ochosi, and Osain), plus deities of ORIENTAL MYSTERY RELIGIONS and IMPERIAL ROMAN CULTS (Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Mithras, Sol Invictus, and Endovelicus), and the URARTIAN GOD Haldi, and you already have a rather UNWIELDY GAME OF CLUE on your hands! But then, refer to for a list of nearly 300 additional CELTIC DEITIES! Finally, go to for a list of nearly 500 additional CHINESE DEITIES! Needless to say, our list in this blog is illustrative, but still not exhaustive.
Fortunately, for the Whodunnit question concerning the creation of the universe, we can pare down our list of substantial “god suspects” by eliminating those who are not mentioned as involved in creation or universe formation. The God of logic as we have previously argued is a God of creative logic. Only a “creator god” will fit the description. On page 50 of my book Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, I point out: “Virtually EVERY ANCIENT CULTURE offered explanations of our origins. The EGYPTIANS focused on the role of the Nile River in creation. They saw the beginning as a mass of chaotic waters, called Nu or Nun. To this beginning they added Sun, Moon, Earth, and Sky gods. The (immortal, but not eternal) Earth god and sky goddess eventually gave birth to Isis and Osiris, names better known to our generation, but Egyptian mythology (with such features as the Earth god lying on his side to form mountains) did not survive as a serious explanation of the beginnings of the world. According to an account of PHOENICIAN creation mythology dating at least as far back as the first century a.d., there was first chaos; then from a cosmic egg, creation of the universe began. MAYAN creation stories begin with sky and sea, and then the creation god Kukulkan (whose pyramid, incidentally, may be seen at the Mexico Pavilion in EPCOT) speaks the word ‘Earth,’ and the Earth rises from the sea. Following this, the thoughts of Kukulkan create mountains, trees, birds, jaguars, and snakes; finally, humans are created (first, out of mud; second, out of wood; third, as monkeys; and finally, as full-fledged humans). Vying with GENESIS as the oldest creation account is the BABYLONIAN creation myth. The Babylonian account we have is developed from SUMERIAN myths, in the 12th century b.c. According to this account, god/s did not exist at the beginning of the universe. Instead, sweet and bitter waters comingled and created many gods. Then, one god born of two others, Marduk, eventually defeated and killed the bitter waters, Tiamat, in a colossal struggle. Earth was created, followed by the moon, then the Sun. Finally, humans descended from the gods. GREEK creation mythology began with chaos, a watery state ruled by Oceanus, and as in the Babylonian account, reproductive activity on the part of the gods and goddesses produced the Greek gods. Poseidon, one of the great Greek gods (known by the ROMANS as Neptune), is featured in a fountain statue in the Italy exhibit in the ‘World Showcase’ at EPCOT.”
We may further reduce the number of possible “god suspects” who could be the God of Logic if we assume that the God who created the universe in a logical (LOGOS) fashion, and who is characterized by the ability to communicate (LOGOS), and who fashioned human beings with the capacity for using both types of LOGOS, and presumably, was therefore willing and motivated to communicate with them through LOGOS, would be a God who made himself or herself known to ancient cultures and would still be known to contemporary cultures. We may, therefore eliminate virtually all of the aforementioned gods and religions as “dead religions.” Turning then, only to CONTEMPORARILY VIABLE GODS, we may consider the following list: SHINTOISM and the JAPANESE GODS: Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, The Shichifukujin, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fukurokuju, Jurojin, and Hotei. Shintoism is a modern-day religion for an estimated four million Japanese, but most Japanese only identify as Shintoist while not practicing any religious discipline in the religion. In China, BUDDHISM, while it is a spiritual exercise, is not considered to have any true “god” associated with it. HINDUISM, according to, is the “dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent.” It has no specified number of gods, but is popularly credited with having 330 million gods. To this list of ancient-but-contemporarily-viable-gods, it is necessary to add the ONE SINGLE GOD who is acknowledged as God by the world’s three major world religions—JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, and ISLAM. That one God recognized by all three of these religions is the God of Abraham.
From this list, we may eliminate Buddhism, since it has no “god” associated with it. We may eliminate Shintoism, since it now appears to be primarily just a cultural practice, not a strongly held religion. If the God of Logic (LOGOS) is defined as organizing all of the universe “logically,” we may also eliminate Hinduism, which seems to be a hodge-podge of deities from other cultures and individual preferences. Logically, then, we conclude—along with the world’s three greatest religions--that the God of Logic IS the God of Abraham. Whodunnit? Similar to solving the Game of Clue—that Colonel Mustard killed Mr. Boddy in the Kitchen with the Knife—we may conclude logically that “the God of Abraham created a Logical Universe and Logical Humans within that Logical Universe by means of the Agency of Communication/Spoken Word/LOGOS. If this is our conclusion, the next question becomes: “Which of the three major world religions best introduces us to the God of Abraham?” We’ll consider that in the next post.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 5: The God of Logic vs. Jeffrey Dahmer

Given the premise that the universe was formed via (logical, purposeful) ACTION, it is a simple deduction that SOMEONE with “logic” and “purpose” ACTED. This was an easy syllogistic deduction for the ancient Greek philosophers, as well. The fact that the Greeks used the same word (logos) to mean both “logic” and “word” is instructive. The ancient Greek School of Philosophy Stoicism (from around 300 BC) actually named God LOGOS—the ACTIVE logic that animates the universe. Christianity agrees. John 1:1-3 states: “In the beginning was LOGOS, and LOGOS was with God, and LOGOS was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through [LOGOS]; and without [LOGOS] was not anything made that has been made.” Before the time of the Stoics, Heraclitus (from around 535-475 BC), notices the link between “rational speech” and the “universe’s rational structure.” For him, LOGOS was that link.
The Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (20 BC-50 AD), a contemporary of both Jesus and the author of the Gospel of John, writes of the Logos of God as “the bond of everything, holding all things together and binding all the parts, and prevent[ing] them from being dissolved and separated.” (Philo’s comments sound like an early recognition of the tendency toward entropy, as well as a recognition that Logos controls the tendency.) While the Book of Genesis was certainly not dependent upon Greek philosophy, it is striking that the very first chapter of the Bible presents creation in a “logical” order and claims that most steps in the creation and (logical) structuring process were tied to a creative “word.” Logic and Word go hand-in-hand in the formation of the universe, the Earth, and its inhabitants. Yet none of those inhabitants of the Earth were capable of exercising anything remotely resembling the LOGOS--the “rational speech” in comprehending and understanding the “universe’s rational structure” of which Heraclitus writes--until the advent of man. It is this (unique among carbon-based beings) capacity to exercise LOGOS that makes man “the image of God” (Genesis 1:26).
KENNETH BURKE’S PENTAD: THE JEFFRY DAHMER COUNTER-EXAMPLE Kenneth Burke teaches a five-pronged cyclical logical schema that advances the simple syllogism. He observes that there are five requirements for the performance of any “act”—whether the act is good, evil, or somewhere in between: Scene, Act, Agent, Agency, and Purpose. He calls these five terms his Pentad, and suggests that these terms form a logical “cycle.” Logically, if an Agent performs an Act within a certain Scene, the Agent would use only Agencies available in that Scene to perform the Act, for example. Therefore, the terms tend to be CONSISTENT, and any time there appears to be an INCONSISTENCY, the cycle is regenerated to produce MORE CONSISTENCY. To use an extremely evil example of action, consider Jeffrey Dahmer—the notorious serial killer, sex offender, and cannibal who raped, murdered, and dismembered seventeen men and boys, and engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism with their corpses. Despite the evil nature of his purpose, his actions were entirely CONSISTENT. The world would not have been shocked, then, if a news report of Dahmer in prison told of Dahmer murdering a fellow inmate, sexually abusing his corpse, and even cannibalizing his victim. It would have seemed consistent to the world who knew him. The AGENT (Dahmer) would be “consistent” with such an ACT (murder). And, while the SCENE had changed from Dahmer’s apartment (where many of his murders occurred), the prison scene would not seem “inconsistent” with a murder. The AGENCIES by which Dahmer murdered before his incarceration varied—blunt force, punching, strangulation, drugging, knives, etc. Some of these agencies might be available in the prison scene—no inconsistencies—but there also might be additional agencies that are found in the prison scene. The PURPOSE for which Dahmer murdered appear to be sexually related, with additional cannibalistic intent. Cannibalism in prison might have shocked us, but prison is often associated with the types of sexual purpose that Dahmer preferred—male homosexual purposes. In short, Dahmer’s ACT would be “logical.”
What, then, should one make of the report from May, 1994, that Jeffrey Dahmer had chosen to be baptized in the prison whirlpool by Roy Ratcliff, a minister of the Church of Christ, and a graduate of Oklahoma Christian University? Did the AGENT (Dahmer) actually change? It is possible. Did the AGENT only cynically pretended to convert to Christianity, as a way of becoming more acceptable to society? That is also possible. These possibilities go to an explanation of the PURPOSE of Dahmer in being baptized. Is there anything pertaining to the “death” imagery of immersion baptism (death-burial in water-resurrection from the water) that makes baptism an attractive ACT for Dahmer? Does Dahmer’s earlier request for a Bible in his cell (something that was possible in his SCENE) indicate a change in AGENCY? What is happening? We will probably never know. And, it is unnecessary for me to speculate, here, to make my point. Six months later, Dahmer was murdered by a fellow prisoner, on a work detail. Whichever explanation is offered for Dahmer’s baptism, the common denominator in all explanations is LOGICAL CONSISTENCY. Whether or not the AGENT actually converted from serial murderer and cannibal to Christian, all explanations attempt to make logical scenarios. We are gripped by the logic of Burke’s Pentad.
THE PENTADIC VIEW OF GOD In huge contrast to the life-denying ACTS of Jeffrey Dahmer, the ACTS of the AGENT who was involved in the formation of the universe are immensely more life-affirming. While Dahmer destroyed life and consumed and abused corpses, the AGENT whom the Stoics called LOGOS generated life. From the simplest single-celled plant life to the most elaborate animal life, the LOGOS infused every life form with reproductive capacity, so that as one cell or even one life form aged and died, it was replaced with multiple regenerated cells or reproduced entelechies to keep the multiple life forms alive. Furthermore, in symbiotic complexity, as one carbon-based life form died, its cells were consumed and metabolized by other carbon-based life forms, to support life in all of its variations. The purely physical aspects of the universe were coordinated with precision to enable symbiosis to be sustained. The solar warmth combined with the Earth’s minerals and with water and oxygen to sustain life. What kinds of ACTS are CONSISTENT with such an AGENT? Logical, rational, life-affirming ACTS. What AGENCIES would be used by such an AGENT in performing such ACTS? Rational thought and communication, i.e. LOGOS. Whether the AGENT “spoke,” as Genesis suggests, or simply communicated the messages implicitly in nature, studies of genetic code, atomic theory, astronomic principles, etc. contend that this agent “communicated” in some fashion. LOGOS is rational communication. For what PURPOSE, then did the LOGOS perform life-affirming ACTS through the AGENCY of Communication? In other words, what PURPOSE would motivate an AGENT capable of ACTING to create and sustain life forms through the AGENCY of LOGOS to do so?
Abraham Maslow might term such a PURPOSIVE motive as “self-actualization.” The AGENT, called LOGOS by the Stoics created logically-reproducing life forms “because it could.” And, given the existence of human AGENTS who are capable of ACTION, themselves, we must assume that this self-actualization PURPOSE extended to the desire/PURPOSE of creating and sustaining other AGENTS who (like itself) were also capable of ACTION, COMMUNICATION, and forms of CREATION. From Maslow’s motivational theory, it is clear that motives include not only the ultimate motive of self-actualization, but also the social motive. If the LOGOS could create a being, similar to itself, capable of ACTION and COMMUNICATION, that LOGOS must also have a SOCIAL PURPOSE/motive. The SCENE, then, into which the LOGOS introduced humans was one that, while logical and systematic, lacked SOCIAL INTERACTION. It is altogether CONSISTENT that LOGOS THE AGENT used LOGOS THE AGENCY to self-actualize in the ACT of creating a LOGICAL UNIVERSE capable of sustaining LIFE, and leading to a SCENE in which SOCIAL PURPOSE motivated the AGENT to create a CREATIVE, COMMUNICATIVE, ACTION-BASED life form with which LOGOS THE AGENT could communicate.
So, here are the links in the syllogistic chain we have attempted, thus far, to forge: 1. Our syllogistic chain is of the variety found in Rhetoric (the enthymeme) rather than Dialectic. It is faith-based, in the Aristotelian sense. This is not blind faith; rather, it is faith based upon proofs and results in the agreement of possibility and probability. 2. This type of (rhetorical) proof is all that is truly left to us after the logical explosion that demolished Modernism and brought us Postmodernism. 3. Action exists in the world, as evidenced by the difference between human “action” and animal “motion.” 4. Action vastly predated the advent of humans, as the very universe yields evidence of rational logical action. 5. Since an AGENT ACTED using the AGENCY of LOGOS in the formation of the universe, we may logically analyze that action to be motivated by both a self-actualization PURPOSE and a social PURPOSE. We turn, next, to a consideration of what theologies, present in the universe, would best exemplify this logical description of God.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 4: Lights! Camera! Action!

Very well, I will stipulate that the CAMERA was invented by humans (although, the principle by which the camera works has been known since before the time of Aristotle, who, in the 4th Century BC, observed the crescent of a solar eclipse by allowing the light to proceed through a hole of a sieve), but I DO CONTEND that LIGHT AND ACTION definitely preceded the Dawn of Man. Even advocates of the Big Bang Theory will stipulate that LIGHT itself goes back to the very beginning of the universe. The issue related to ACTION is a little trickier.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, in order to have “action,” according to Kenneth Burke, there must be an “agent” who “acts.” That agent must have “free will” to act in accordance with his own “purpose.” A basic premise of the Big Bang Theory and the Theory of Evolution is that the universe and all life forms were spontaneously generated WITHOUT the help of any Agent/higher being. How could anyone ever possibly prove such a premise? One could certainly never prove such a premise using the scientific skepticism of Modernism. How could an experiment be devised to test the hypothesis? There is no way to reproduce the circumstances and test them by experiment. The most that scientific Modernism could accomplish was to be skeptical of the premise that the universe and all life forms WERE generated by the “agency” of some higher being. But, being skeptical does not produce knowledge. As we have learned in the paradigm shift from Modernism to Postmodernism, skepticism has simply demolished the hope that humans can ever discover absolute knowledge or truth. Until someone is able to TIME TRAVEL back to the beginning of the universe or the beginning of life forms, whether or not an intelligent being “acted” in the formation of the universe or in the generation of life forms must remain among those issues with which Rhetoric deals: matters about which we debate. Aristotle, in Rhetoric I.2.xii, asserts: “[W]e debate about things that seem to be capable of admitting two possibilities” (Kennedy [1991] translation). So, welcome to the debate over whether ACTION was involved in the generation of the universe and life! As Aristotle requires, the issue of whether ACTION was present early in the universe admits two possibilities: POSSIBILITY 1. That the universe came into existence without any Action, or POSSIBILITY 2. That the universe came into existence by the Action of an Agent.
What sorts of PROOFS may we use to assert that the universe came into existence by the Action of an Agent? PROOF 1. Syllogistic, deductive logic (which we will consider later), PROOF 2. Empirical evidence (which we will consider later), and PROOF 3. Something that one of the key rhetoricians of the Twentieth Century, Richard Weaver, called “THE METAPHYSICAL DREAM.” We begin with this third proof; then, we will move to the second proof and finally to the first proof.
PROOF 3. THE METAPHYSICAL DREAM Richard Weaver has earned a great deal of respect in the field of Rhetoric. As a Professor at the University of Chicago, Weaver and Burke had some contact. They were by no means friends, but they both agreed that humans (as distinct from other animals) are symbol-using, and that they are beings of choice and free will. Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp, in their widely-acclaimed book Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric (30th Anniversary Edition) review and analyze ten “thinkers who have exerted a profound influence on contemporary rhetorical theory.” Among these 20th Century thinkers are Kenneth Burke, Chaim Perelman, Stephen Toulmin, Michel Foucault, and Richard Weaver. Weaver posits that a level of knowledge exists for human beings that is “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” (Ideas Have Consequences, page 18). He calls this level of knowledge “THE METAPHYSICAL DREAM.” Burke, while he resists having his own personal critical method "characterized as 'intuitive' and 'idiosyncratic,' epithets that make (him) squirm" (PLF 68), DOES (at the same time) CREDIT animals with possessing “an INTUITIVE signaling system” as their form of communication (“Motion, Action, and the Human Condition,” p. 79). It seems LOGICAL (using argument from analogy) that, if even ANIMALS have INTUITION, certain concepts that humans hold to be true might also come to humans primarily through “an INTUITIVE feeling about the immanent nature of reality.” For example, one cannot empirically prove that such a thing as “JUSTICE” exists. The concept is an INTUITIVE feeling. We “INTUITIVELY feel” that JUSTICE exists when one who has committed a “wrong” receives some sort of punishment. But where do we get the idea that “WRONG” exists? We “INTUITIVELY feel” that someone who takes advantage of another by virtue of his or her superior intellect, physical strength, or skill is somehow doing something “WRONG.” Why else do we protect children from adult advertisers who might exert persuasive methodologies? Why do we have laws against stealing, rape, murder, etc.? “INTUITIVELY,” we “feel” that such “acts” are “WRONG.” And yet, in the animal world (comparing humans “empirically” to other genuses), no such “INTUITIVE feelings” of “right and wrong” or “justice” exist. Animals that are larger or stronger feel no shame about preying on smaller or weaker animals. Alpha males seize females at their own discretion. There is no concept of rape. From where does our concept of “free will” come? Are these concepts not the result of “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality”?
When humans began to bury their dead, and to bury artifacts along with them, “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” was operative. In the fact that 99% of all humans who have ever lived on planet Earth have believed that superior beings/gods exist who have free will to ACT relative to humans on Earth, “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” is operative. What is particularly interesting is that, even science-oriented humans such as astronomer Carl Sagan, who refuse to admit the possible existence of a divine being, are somehow convinced that superior beings (aliens) from other planets do exist. This is just further evidence of “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” that cannot seem to dismiss the possibility/probability of the existence of beings who are superior to humans.
In the Modern Period—the period which Stephen Toulmin decries as the hegemony of theoretical argument—and most especially in the portion of that period dominated by Empiricism, such talk of “an intuitive feeling about the immanent nature of reality” would be dismissed, out of hand. But, we are no longer living under the super-skepticism of Modernism. We live in the period of Postmodernism, in which the bankruptcy of philosophical Empiricism must be acknowledged. But, the belief in someone who ACTED in the formation of the universe is CERTAINLY NOT DEVOID OF EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE.
PROOF 2. EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE. The amount of EMPIRICAL (sense) data that may be used to argue for the existence of ACTION in the formation of the world is growing exponentially, in our generation. But EMPIRICAL data has long been cited as evidence of divine ACTIVITY. The shepherd-poet-lyricist-singer-turned-king, David, the author of many of the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible cites EMPIRICAL evidence in his poetic proclamations that God was easily detected in the formation of the universe:
Psalm 8:3 states: “I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars that You have established.” Psalm 19:1-6 elaborates: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies show forth his handiwork. Day after day, they speak; night after night, they declare knowledge. There is no language system that does not hear their voice. Their measuring line stretches throughout the whole Earth; their words reach to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has placed a home for the sun, like a bridegroom who goes forth or an athlete running a race, it rises at one end of the heavens, and completes its circuit to the other end.” In Psalm 65:9-13, he notices the regular cycles of rain and agricultural growth: “You visit the land and water it . . . . You provide grain, for so You have ordained it, watering the furrows, softening the ridges. You make it soft with showers [and] bless its vegetation. The pastures . . . hills . . . and meadows are clothed with flocks and the valleys are covered with grain.” In Psalm 104:10-30, he observes the balance and cyclical renewing of nature: “He sends forth springs into the valleys; they run among the mountains; they give drink to every beast of the field . . . . By them the birds of the heavens have their habitation . . . . The earth is filled with the fruit of Your works. He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread that strengthens man’s heart. . . . The cedars of Lebanon . . . where the birds make their nests: As for the stork, the fir-trees are her house. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock-badgers. He appointed the moon for seasons: The sun knows its going down; You make darkness/night . . . wherein all the beasts of the forest creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises and they get away and lay down in their dens. Then, man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening. . . . The earth is full of Your riches. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, wherein are innumerable creeping things, both small and great beasts. . . . These all wait for You that you may give them their food in due season. You give and they gather. . . . You take away their breath and they die. You send forth Your Spirit and they are created. You renew the face of the ground. In Psalm 139:14-16, he empirically considers human life and is impressed: “I will give You thanks, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Wonderful are Your works . . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret . . . . Your eyes did see my unformed substance.”
I cite the Psalms as textual evidence that ACTION was observed (by a shepherd) in the physical world, thousands of years ago. The EMPIRICAL evidence of logical ACTION is quite strong. The amount of EMPIRICAL (sense) data that may be used to argue for the existence of ACTION in the formation of the world is growing exponentially, these days. Why? Because technology has enabled us to SEE more of the physical universe than was ever possible for David or his predecessors. NASA’s New Horizons space craft reports from near Pluto. The Hubble Telescope gives us EMPIRICAL glimpses of galaxies, far, far, away. Genetic researchers study the codes of biological forms. Atomic scientists investigate the very structure of atoms. And, every element of new EMPIRICAL data discovered reiterates the same message handed down from David’s humble observations: There is ACTION in the universe. Ours is not a world of random motion. From galaxies to atoms, entropy (or the tendency to decline into disorder) is SYSTEMATICALLY arrested. The centrifugal force that would tend to cause the Earth to fly away from the sun (as you tended to be drawn outward from your spinning merry-go-round, as a child) is carefully balanced by the centripetal force (gravity) of the sun. Likewise, the moon is balanced to avoid entropy from the Earth. Likewise, every minute atom in the universe is balanced to avoid entropy, until we humans split the atoms and release untold energy. Genetic research discovers “CODES” or LANGUAGE MESSAGES that tell our bodies whether to be male or female, black or white, short or tall, blond or brunette, inclined or immune to certain ailments, etc. Who wrote the language? Who wrote the code? Can codes just WRITE THEMSELVES? The logic of Christianity argues that the likelihood of some intelligent being ACTING in the universe is tremendous.
This is the logical conclusion of scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers who subscribe to the theory of “Intelligent Design.” It is also the logical conclusion of some very well respected authorities. One mathematician who theorized (based on principles of modal logic) that a higher being must exist was (the close friend of Albert Einstein) Kurt Gödel, who died in 1978 after driving the last nail in the coffin of Modernism. You don’t find mathematicians who are more highly respected than Gödel. For his part, Einstein said in 1954: “I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” He once remarked to a young physicist: "I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details." Fair enough. The only link in the logical chain we seek to establish, at this point, is that intelligent ACTION is evident in the structure of the universe. Other famous scientists who have expressed the belief that the structure of the universe argues for a belief in the ACTION of a superior being are Copernicus, Bacon, Galileo, Newton, and even Descartes. But, none of these were specifically advocates of the theory of “Intelligent Design.” Why? Partly because the intelligent design movement began after these scientists had died. The intelligent design movement began in earnest in the early 1990s with Phillip E. Johnson’s book, Darwin on Trial. Essentially, the movement began in order to create an alliance among scientists who believed in a theistic explanation of the design of the universe. A primary goal of the movement was to defend and promote the teaching of a theistically based view of the beginnings of life and the universe in the public school systems to counterbalance the teaching of evolutionary theory. The National Academy of Sciences, issued a policy statement saying "Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.” That statement is probably true enough; but just as true is the statement “The claims of EVOLUTIONARY THEORY in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science.” As I stated at the beginning of this post: Until someone is able to TIME TRAVEL back to the beginning of the universe or the beginning of life forms, whether or not an intelligent being “acted” in the formation of the universe or in the generation of life forms must remain among those issues with which RHETORIC deals: matters about which we debate. NEITHER evolutionary theory nor intelligent design is testable by scientific methods.
The conclusions of many EXPERTS who have seriously grappled with the issue of this debate is that SOMEONE “ACTED” IN THE FORMATION OF GALAXIES, SOLAR SYSTEMS, THE EARTH AND ITS MOON, VEGETABLE LIFE FORMS, ANIMAL LIFE FORMS, HUMAN LIFE FORMS, ATOMS, ETC. Is this the conclusion of EVERYONE? No. But, that is the nature of rhetorical argument. The logic of Christianity is based upon rhetorical argument—dealing with matters that cannot be known for certain, but only probably or possibly. If you grant the possibility or probability that “ACTION” was present in the formation of the world, you have some level of “faith.” We next turn to the second link in the syllogistic chain: that there is a God.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Logic of Christianity 3: The Four Logical Explosions of Human History

What is a “logical explosion”? The phrase “paradigm shift” was coined by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, to describe the fact that scientists do NOT passively allow their thoughts to GRADUALLY change over time, in a linear fashion. Instead, every now and then, there is an “EXPLOSION” that destroys the old paradigm and replaces it with a new paradigm. The scientific community realizes that the paradigm (or pattern of discovering truth) that it had been using is defective. The pattern no longer works satisfactorily to explain reality—as when the notion that the sun revolved around the earth no longer satisfactorily explained the relationship between our planet and sun. In the scientific community, then, a paradigm shift or scientific revolution occurs. The old pattern of detecting reality is discarded and a brand new pattern takes its place. This is a logical explosion, of sorts. The most recent major paradigm shift that rocked the world occurred somewhere close to the time I was born. It was the shift from Modernism to Postmodernism. (I will consider this Postmodern shift, later, as the Fourth Logical Explosion.) The fact that these paradigm shifts occur is actually evidence that “action” exists (as opposed to sheer “motion”). The scientists are “agents” who of their own “free will” “act” in accordance with their own “purposes.” In order to have “action,” according to Kenneth Burke, there must be an “agent” who “acts.” That agent must have “free will” to act in accordance with his own “purpose.” If there is no free will involved (as when a bird builds a nest, according to “instinct”--not free will--in the same way every other bird of its species builds it), this is not “action”—it is “motion.” A rock tumbling down the hillside is not “acting,” but it is “moving.” The rock has no free will; it is moving in accordance with the law of gravity. (Nevertheless, if an “agent” with free will “intentionally” kicks the rock to initiate its downward motion, “action” is involved.)
Following the gist of Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” terminology, but applying it to the broader sphere of the “human” community—not just the “scientific” community, as Kuhn limits his term—I detect four “MAJOR LOGICAL EXPLOSIONS” in human history. These are times when virtually all of humanity discards the old ways of viewing the world and substitutes brand new ways of viewing reality. I call these times “explosions” rather than “shifts” or even “revolutions” because their effects are seismologically far greater than even Kuhn’s paradigm shifts. They each entail drastic observable behavior changes that appear to affect virtually the entire human population (not just science). The four explosions occurred at 1) the dawn of man, 2) the time of Jesus, 3) the Renaissance, and 4) the middle of the Twentieth Century. Kuhn’s paradigm shifts cannot comprise these explosions because science (in Kuhn’s sense of the word) did not exist at the dawn of man or at the time of Jesus. Kuhn is useful in pointing to the various tremors (or paradigm shifts) that occurred during the Renaissance and afterward, but the Renaissance itself was the “explosion.” Constant “shifts” in the tectonic plates produce minor tremors that constantly reshape the earth, but a gigantic shift or earthquake, such as many fear could happen due to the San Andreas fault, might actually reshape a continent. Just as the asteroid explosion that scientists want to credit with the disappearance of the dinosaur reshaped the physical landscape, so these four logical explosions have reshaped the landscape of human logic.
THE DAWN OF MAN. Before the dawn of man, no carbon-based life forms exercised “action.” Only “motion.” There was no free will. Botanical and zoological life forms, so far as we can tell, “behaved” only in predictable, instinctive, deterministic ways. I use the term “behave” advisedly. “Behaviorism” relates to “motion;” it is a study of what animals do, not what humans do. According to Kenneth Burke, humans “act,” rather than “behave.” On page 134 of my book Implicit Rhetoric: Kenneth Burke’s Extension of Aristotle’s Concept of Entelechy, I point out:
“Burke is concerned with the essential nature of mankind (CS 219). He asserts that "a definition of [hu]man is at least implicit in any writer's comments on cultural matters" (LSA 2), and he thereupon serves notice that he rejects the reductionism of the behaviorist view of humankind (DD 11). It is human language which, for Burke, distinguishes humankind from all other animal life. Burke tells his audience at the Heinz Werner Lectures: ‘I had in mind the particular aptitude that the human biologic organism has for the learning of conventional symbol systems (such as tribal languages), our corresponding dependence upon this aptitude, and the important role it plays in the shaping of our experience.’ (DD 15) . . . I [earlier] consider the issue of determinism and free will in connection with Burke's preference for the term "motive" rather than "cause" as an explanation of human action. . . . [Burke] actually believes that human symbolicity implies free will. Otherwise, he would not have taken "sides against behaviorist reductionism" (DD 11). Yet, Burke accedes to biological determinism insofar as human animality is concerned. Burke locates the deterministic factor for humankind in the realm of human animality. He locates free will in the realm of human symbolicity.”
What kinds of “actions” did humans engage in at the dawn of man? Burke has already mentioned the use of symbols (words, language). Animals do not choose the means by which they communicate; humans do. You or I may choose to speak English, German, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, French, etc. For an animal, there is no communicative choice. If one is a dog, one barks; a cat meows; a bird chirps; a cow moos, etc. Furthermore, the other members of the animal’s species instinctively understand the meaning of the specific animal’s communication. Not so, with humans. I do not understand Chinese, Japanese, etc. In addition to language use, Burke notes that humans design and make tools to separate them from their natural condition. Stone Age humans developed stone knives, axes, spear heads, arrows, etc. And, then, they did something with these tools that they had made that indicated an important logical explosion: They “buried” these tools with their dead! Why? The best explanation anthropologists can put forth is that these early humans “believed” in an afterlife, and wanted their dead relatives to have access to these tools in that afterlife. This is RELIGION! On page 93 of my book Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, I observe:
“Anthropologists are interested in human views of the afterlife. Dennis O’Neil, on the website ‘Evolution of Modern Humans: Archaic Human Culture’ (, writes: ‘The Neandertal ritual burial of their own dead implies a belief in an afterlife. This is basically a rudimentary religious concept. Likewise, the ritual burial of cave bear trophy heads is consistent with a supernatural belief system.’”
Religious belief (the belief in the afterlife) was the first logical explosion. There were no signs of religious belief anywhere else in the animal world. The term “logos” from which the word logic is formed means “word.” A syllogistic chain (or logical sequence) began just as soon as this carbon-based being was capable of using “words.” The ability to use logic in making words was extended to using logic to make stone tools. And the ability to use logic for making words and tools gave birth to the first “logical” view of human existence in the world: there probably is an afterlife. Other logical sequences (syllogistic chains) seem to have developed in human cultures: 1. If there is an afterlife, some beings must be living in some realm beyond the mortal human realm. 2. If there are beings who are beyond mortality, they must be superior to mortal humans. 3. If beings that are superior to mortal humans exist, these beings must in some sense be more powerful than humans, and it may be in the best interest of humans to make these beings well-disposed to the weaker mortals. 4. To curry the favor of these more powerful beings, humans should sacrifice animals (and other mortal humans?) to these immortal beings. Animal (and, sometimes, human) sacrifice developed in virtually every religion on earth. Even the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans whose world empires took turns encompassing the small religious culture of Israel practiced animal sacrifice, as did Israel . . . UNTIL the time of Jesus.
THE TIME OF JESUS. The death of Jesus, somewhere around 30 AD, began a logical explosion. For Christians, the logical need for animal sacrifice was annihilated. No longer was any animal sacrifice necessary, because Jesus, as the sacrificial lamb, perfected and thus finished all need for blood sacrifice. The logical explosion ensued, throughout the empire. In 70 AD, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Roman legions. The great Jewish religion, which for thousands of years had followed a code of animal sacrifice to atone for sins, immediately and totally ceased all animal sacrifice. Never again would animals be sacrificed in a priestly Jewish cult. Fewer than 300 years later, Constantine decriminalized Christianity and, in 380 AD, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Sacrifices to the Roman pantheon of gods ceased. For a thousand years, the logic of Christianity progressively engulfed the world.
The Christian religion grew like wildfire. The civilized world embraced not only Jesus, but also the entire logical system: his God, the God of Abraham, and the moral code of ancient Judaism, the Ten Commandments (even if all humans in the world—or in the church—did not always obey the code). Even the upstart new religion of Muhammed, in the 7th Century, agreed that the one true God was the God of Abraham. Progressively, all vestiges of early pagan religions were being erased . . . UNTIL the Renaissance.
THE RENAISSANCE. The explosion began when Christians’ faith in the promised return of Jesus did not materialize at the time they expected it. John Thomas Didymus, who apparently believes that Christians should accept the conclusion that their hope in the return of Christ might well be mistaken, states the situation fairly in his article “Failed End-of-World Predictions of Jesus’ Coming: Montanists and the Ecumenical Council (1000 AD)”:
“The Ecumenical Council sitting in 999 declared solemnly that the world would end on January 1, 1000 A.D. That was the signal for mass madness. On the last day of the year, St. Peter's at Rome was filled with a crazed mass of people, weeping, trembling, screaming in fear of the Day of the Lord. They thought that God would send fire from heaven and burn the world to ashes. Many rich and wealthy people gave away their possessions to the poor to make heaven. They dressed up in sackcloth and poured ashes over themselves. The grounds of St. Peter's on new year's eve was filled with people vying to outdo each other in acts of penance and self-mortification, self-mutilation and flagellation. Some branded their skins with hot iron to prove their repentance; some were actually beaten to death by overzealous mates. But new year came and passes [sic] and nothing happened.” (Article Source:
And yet, something DID happen—an explosive fuse was lit! Just as it took nearly 400 years to enact the full effects of the logical explosion occurring at Jesus’ death, it took roughly 400 years from the disappointment of Jesus’ non-return in 1000 to enact the full effects of that logical explosion. The Christianized world had begun (in 1000 AD) to lose faith in Christianity as the single source of truth. The Renaissance (dating from the late 14th century AD) was a rebirth of interest in classical Greek and Roman culture and philosophy. Humans world-wide looked to other humans as the source of truth, as they systematically doubted the truth that was being fed to them by the Church. An extremely important development in this logical explosion of doubt was the work of the philosopher Rene DesCartes. In my book, Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, pages 6, I write:
“The seventeenth century philosopher Rene DesCartes . . . is credited with founding Modernism. His methodological doubt suggested that Realists should doubt everything that could be doubted. Whatever is left is truth. This is the basis of the scientific method. Scientists make propositions that they are not entirely certain of. These uncertain propositions are called ‘hypotheses.” Scientists, then, attempt to systematically ‘doubt’ their hypotheses. They conduct experiments, to see if they can disprove the hypotheses. If they cannot doubt the hypotheses, these hypotheses are considered ‘truth.’ Empiricists, following DesCartes, suggested that one could doubt everything that is not empirically verifiable (capable of being verified by sense-data—seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling).”
In terms of the logic of Christianity, this move was a major blow to Christian faith. Since one cannot see, hear, taste, smell, or touch God, Empiricists could conclude that faith in God is “non-sense” (meaning literally that it is not based on “sense” data).
POSTMODERNISM. Then, I was born (around 1950) and the logical world exploded again (coincidence, not causality!) As it turns out, skepticism can be aimed not only at God and Christianity. It can also be aimed at Empiricism, Science, and even Mathematics. In terms of Empiricism, I can be fooled by my sense of sight, as when I see a mirage in the middle of the road. Hearing can be wrong, as when one has tinnitus—the hearing of sound when no external sound is present. The sense of smell can easily mistake the smell of sulfur water for rotten eggs. The sense of taste can cause one to think s/he has consumed butter, when it is actually Parkay margarine. The sense of touch can confuse having walked through hanging threads in a dark haunted house, so that one feels one has encountered spider webs and continues to have them on oneself. I continue, in Disneology: Religious Rhetoric at Walt Disney World, pages 6-7:
“[E]ven empirical evidence (sense-data) can be doubted, so Empiricism as a Modernist philosophy was largely discredited by the relentless application of methodological doubt. Mathematics was the last stronghold of Modernism. When Kurt Gödel [a friend of Einstein] demonstrated that even mathematics could be doubted—because the whole system proves itself by itself—Modernism effectively crumbled . . . . In place of Modernism, Postmodernism arose. Postmodernism could be called a Realistic philosophy in that it makes a truth claim: typically, ‘there is no truth’ or ‘there is relative truth.’ Burke is a Postmodern Realist, but he is not happy with either of these truth-related formulas. In his essay, ‘The Rhetorical Situation,’ Burke is much happier with a Postmodern truth-related formula such as ‘there is probable truth.’ Aristotle teaches that ‘probable truth’ is discovered through rhetoric. Christian Realism is close to Burke’s Postmodern view that “there is probable truth.”
WHAT A LOGICAL EXPLOSION POSTMODERNISM IS! Beginning with the Dawn of Man, humans concluded that an afterlife was logical—there is a realm beyond the grave. With the advent of Christianity, the world shifted from believing in the efficacy of animal sacrifice to please the gods. The truth was to be found in the teachings of the God of Abraham. With the Renaissance, the logical explosion began to abandon God as the source of truth and rediscover truth from human sources. Skepticism became the operative method of discovering truth. Then, around 1950, it became evident that skepticism had become bankrupt. With Gödel’s last nail in the coffin of Modernism, Postmodernists concluded that “THERE IS NO TRUTH!!!” What a scene: it is just as if the ultimate Nuclear War had taken place IN LOGIC! Instead of the pictures of the smoldering Los Angeles ruins from the Terminator movies, visualize the barren smoldering ruins of anything resembling logical truth. But, Burke points out that one cannot LOGICALLY say “There is no truth” because that statement is, in itself, a TRUTH CLAIM! If there is no truth, the statement that “there is no truth” CANNOT BE TRUE! Those (illogical) Postmodernists who still cling to the (illogical) statement that “there is no truth” continue to attempt to disparage the logic of Christianity, saying that it cannot be true, because there is NO truth. The only logical way out of this malaise is Burke’s formula: THERE IS PROBABLE TRUTH. If there is PROBABLE truth, we can reintroduce empirical data into the argument. But, we can also reintroduce non-empirical data—the logic that seems to be implicit in humanity since the dawn of man: that God and the afterlife do exist. We return full circle.
But, the new ground rules for logical argument are in the field of Rhetoric, not the field of Philosophy. As I stated in my earlier post, The Logic of Christianity 1: The Shroud, the Pope, and the Faith Continuum: “In his book, On Rhetoric, Aristotle teaches how rhetorical logic works. In rhetoric (as opposed to dialectic), the aim is not to provide absolute truth, but only possible or probable truth. It applies only to matters of which we cannot be certain. Nevertheless, although certainty is impossible, we can logically conclude that something is ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’ true. Aristotle says that the goal of this type of logic is to achieve ‘faith.’ . . . [And, as] the Bible says: “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).” The next link in this logical syllogistic chain, then is to argue that “action” took place before there was “human” action. We will turn to the “intelligent design” debate to establish that some agent was using “action” in the formation of the universe.