Episode 6 – Religion

We’ve talked about how philosophy contributes to truth machines. We haven’t talked about how philosophy contributes to religion, or how religion contributes to a truth machine. Today, we will. Ready?

If a religion is true, we may already have a truth machine. But if the world’s religions are mutually contradictory, which truth machine should we use?

Maybe the best way to jump into the subject is by responding to a comment from one of our Christian listeners, whose personal set of beliefs didn’t jibe with the idea of a multiverse. Our Pamalogy 101 course will explain why Pamalogists conclude that a multiverse is true. She had completed the course but found the idea of a multiverse to be incompatible with her faith. Go ahead and take Pamalogy 101. It’s free. And you may just earn a top hat, like she did. Let me know what you think.

I’ll go ahead and read her post in full. She says:

A PAMALOGIST believes in multiple universes. What would a PAMALOGIST say about Genesis Ch. 2 in the Holy Bible? 1 “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.”

By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day he “rested from all his work.” The Holy Bible doesn’t seem to indicate that God went on to keep perpetually creating more “heavens,” one after another, with other life forms and each with its own laws of physics (because He is a creative being and He CAN). Granted, God still creates. He makes new stars in our galaxy be born and others die out. He joins male and female cells to create new embryos; be they animal or human. He makes new plants sprout in the springtime. I could go on. But the “bulk” of His works seem to have been completed in six days (whether you believe that to be calendar days, millennia or something else), and then on the seventh day, He rested. You are going to have to at some point address that, also accounts/theories of creation in other world religions, to make sure that PAMALOGY is not trying to dismantle all organized religion.

I responded to her in a private group but I have her permission to review that response publicly and repeat some of the points I shared there.
For some background, this listener and I actually met in a church a number of decades ago and became close friends. We’ve discussed hard questions through the years and even though she is more of a Biblical literalist than I am, she knew me well enough to be interested in the course. She is right about my need to address what seem to be conflicting viewpoints on theories of creation among the world’s religions, as well as other matters of faith, as well. So, I wrote back to her with the following reply:
This is a great question. Thank you for asking it. You are touching on a subject that involves thoughts I’ve had for many years as a person who has had a lot of post-graduate study in theology.

Philosophy, theology and faith have always had a close relationship, whether it is a Christian tradition or another. Pope John Paul II had a PhD. in Phenomenology, yet he was a man of very great faith. I haven’t yet touched much on Phenomenology in my podcasts but it relates to this question and I’ll be covering it in later episodes. Phenomenology asks how we perceive things. It asks what consciousness and direct experience is.

As you know, Biblical literalism has always been a mystery to me – something I could never be sure about. The science of Biblical interpretation is called “hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics was perhaps my favorite course in seminary. And it left me with a certain openness to critical approaches to interpreting Scripture.

You are going to find as you listen to my podcasts that I am placing various ideas into categories. Certainty is usually restricted to the a priori knowledge of logical necessity. “A priori” means that the knowledge is not based on observation and experience.

There is a certain antagonism religion sometimes has with philosophy, but not all philosophy. Pamalogy is a philosophical, not a religious system. But there is also something called Christian philosophy. The two fields are not necessarily incompatible. Justin of Caesarea is probably the first prominent Christian philosopher history preserved. The school of Alexandria produced Pantaenus, but his work is gone. We only know him as Clement of Alexandria’s predecessor as head of the school. Origin succeeded Clement there and is known best for his allegorical interpretations of Scripture, but he also used philosophical concepts in blending reason with faith, as the Christians of Berea seem to have done.

Clement not only was a Christian philosopher but credited Greek philosophy with preparing the gentiles. He compared it with the way the Scriptures prepared the Jews for the coming of Jesus. Even prior to Clement was Athenagoras, a Christian apologist who used philosophical arguments with the philosophers of his day to defend the resurrection. Then there was Dionysius of the Ariapagus, who left us a great work on the incomprehensibility of God that became the basis for Christian mystical contemplation. It’s used to this day by Jews and other non-Christians, as well. These are all just the earliest examples. Among the Greek Orthodox, perhaps the work of Apostolos Makrakis is the best modern example of Christian philosophy. In the middle ages in the West, the work of Thomas Aquinas is largely philosophical, and in the East, we have the philosophical approach of Gregory Palamas.

The anti-intellectualist idea that the wisdom of this world is foolish and faith like a child is needed to enter the kingdom of heaven is a common criticism I should also address. As I see it, Christian philosophy is not the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world says things like, “live it up because tomorrow we die. There’s no such thing as an afterlife to worry about and nobody is watching.” The wisdom of this world isn’t making theological statements. It doesn’t say thing like, “Perfection is necessarily Triune since it includes both what it is in its doing and what it does in its being, lest either its doing or being be other than Perfection and its doing includes what it is as Doer, what it is as what is Done, and what it is in Doing.” Logic is saying this, but it isn’t disharmonious with Christian tradition. It is, if anything, a Christian apologetic to those monotheists who fail to grasp the possibility of the Christian Trinity.

This is not to say that the rejection of the Trinity on the basis of monotheistic ideas about Perfection, acknowledging there can only be one Perfection, is worldly wisdom either. Worldly wisdom is about worldliness, which is to say, the denial of God altogether. It is the wisdom of this world. Acknowledging that God must be one, is a major step in the right direction, and that direction is a primarily philosophical one. Irenaeus and the early Christian apologists all argued for the oneness of God, not primarily based on Scripture, but using philosophical logic, against various heresies and Greek philosophies. The result was a Christian philosophical tradition that became the basis for the theology behind the Christian creeds. If people hadn’t been asking questions about who Jesus was, there would be no apostles’ creed. To Christians, they used Scriptures. To others, they didn’t. It would have made little sense to try to persuade gentiles with texts they wouldn’t have seen as possessing any authority. The best gentile thought at the time, was Greek philosophy. Discussion of it in explaining who Jesus was was inevitable. And the gentiles didn’t know anything about the Bible.

For the same reason, in Pamalogy, you won’t see me using the Scriptures much either. It’s because I’m addressing a very wide variety of people, not just Christians. 

Keep all this in mind when you see religious anti-intellectualism. Now I’ll readily admit, and also complain that sometimes academic subjects can get so detailed and tedious and hard to understand that they become useless. But the “wisdom of this world” is not philosophy as a whole. You shouldn’t reject philosophy as if it was a competitor to the Holy Bible. “Philo” means love. “Sophia” means wisdom. Philosophia is nothing more than the love of wisdom. Christian wisdom is part of the body of wisdom that some philosophers love. Even non-Christian philosophers learn from it. Other religions have their own traditions full of sages, as well. The experience of elders is a vital part of the whole. Like the first deacon, Steven, they are chosen to lead because of their God-given wisdom.

The expression “faith like a child,” is misused by anti-intellectualists too. “Faith like a child” isn’t a rejection of systematic theology or Christian philosophy in favor of simplicity. It is an encouragement to trust and depend on God the way that a child trusts and depends on their parents. To be sure, there is some unknowing in that trust. But if a child is trained in the way they should go, having trusted their parents, they won’t think like the world does. They will think godly thoughts, maybe even developing Christian philosophical systems.

In short, when people of faith attack philosophy, they shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Now let me move on to another dimension of all this. In founding Pamalogy, I deliberately separated my own faith from its foundational logic so that I could identify it as a philosophical system rather than a religion. In doing this, I realized that as a result, we could speak of Christian Pamalogy, Catholic Pamalogy, Evangelical Pamalogy, Jewish Pamalogy, Muslim Pamalogy, Atheist Pamalogy, Buddhist Pamalogy and so on, as people with faith perspectives different than my own embraced its philosophical tenets.

I wanted it to be this way because I wanted to communicate common concepts in logic with people of every background. Each tradition can apply the system to what they already believe as part of a coherent view of life and its purposes. Maybe it was the entrepreneur in me. I knew that if I created a one-size-fits-all philosophical system, it would get a lot more mileage in the long run. Separating tradition from logic was an important move, I think. From a Christian evangelical perspective, you might want to compare this with Paul in Athens. If your calling is to preach the Gospel to the whole world, then why do evangelists only communicate with those with a Christian background?

To get to the writer’s point, though, she was concerned about some passages related to the multiverse – seeing it as a done deal. I don’t think that the Christian Scriptures are incompatible with the idea of a multiverse, at all. So, I went on and told her:
When I see Jesus as Alpha and Omega, I hear him saying HE IS the done deal. All the heavenly timelines add nothing to what He already is as God. So when God creates man, as his final work, after all the heavens and the Earth have been made, He sees Adam as a type of Himself, the New Adam. He creates the First Adam, but in the completed work, He also creates the New Adam.
When God and man are united in the incarnation, eternity meets temporality and that is how Genesis is fulfilled in the past tense. Anything that can happen in time, anything good in it, is always included in Him, including time itself. If it were otherwise, then some good thing would have to be excluded from the goodness of God. If God is Perfect, since Perfection lacks no good thing, that would be contradictory.
As a foundationist philosopher, I’d have to say that contradiction, the contradiction of eternity meeting temporality in the incarnation, is illogical. Perfection cannot lack any good thing. There can be no lack in it of a good thing. Nevertheless, there is an exception that also stems from logical necessity. Namely: That which contains all that could possibly be good, can only NOT contain all that could possibly good in what it contains ALREADY as that which knows all unknowing.
That probably sounds confusing so let me put this another way. Unknowing things – not knowing stuff, which is sort of the opposite of a divine attribute that we all call Omniscience, has certain good qualities. For instance, if I give you a surprise party, that could be a good thing. For it to work, you’d have to not know about the party beforehand. You could probably think of hundreds of examples of this. Discovering things over time is part of experience, and learning things individually or as groups can be something wonderful, but it requires unknowing for it to exist. Good humor is another example. It’s all about timing.
Places to worship
There are many beautiful ways to worship. Not all require buildings. Not all require external beauty.

So here’s the contradiction. If it’s a good thing, then God has the attribute. But if it means God has to not know something, then how can God be Omniscient? How can God know all things if God doesn’t know what it is like to discover something?

But actually, it’s not a contradiction at all. And the reason is simple: in order to know all things, it is necessary to possess the knowledge of not knowing things. If the knowledge of not knowing things is not included in Omniscience, then Omniscience can’t be Omniscience.Therefore, Omniscience includes not just the knowledge of all things, but also the not knowing of all things.

The paradox is maybe easier to understand if we use an analogy. So, let’s suppose you have a body part like a hand. The hand does not need to experience what the foot experiences in order to be a hand. The hand and the foot can share their different experiences through the brain. The brain knows the unknowing of the foot with respect to the hand, and the unknowing of the hand with respect to the foot. It then adds up the info to know both the unknowing of the hand and of the foot. Both the hand and foot are part of a single organism, and by unknowing things, the organism is able to know more, as it distinguishes between what it learns from the sensations of the foot and from the sensations of the hand.

The result is something philosophers refer to as “combined consciousness.” I’ll touch on concepts of consciousness like panpsychism and cosmopsynchism and various theories commonly discussed among philosophers regarding the mind in later blogcasts. Here, I just want to offer that the divine mind, necessarily combines consciousness. If we understand God to be Perfection, we can say with certainty that it happens because of the definition of Perfection, which lacks no good thing, including all the good things involved in unknowing. The solution is combined combined consciousness.

The brain knowing what the hand and the foot know is not a perfect analogy. God is not an organism, but the point is that unknowing things is an important part of knowledge. For knowledge to be complete, it is necessary to unknow all things as well as know them. Human organisms do this to some extent. So why should we, because we see a contradiction, limit God’s ability to do something similar but in a much greater way?
Christmas is coming so it’s a good time to talk about the incarnation of the Son of God as Jesus. One reason the incarnation of God as man is so difficult for many people to grasp is that we have trouble understanding how God, being Omniscient, and Omnipotent and such, could become less than what He is. If Jesus was God becoming man then as contradictory as that idea may seem to non-Christians, it is not inconsistent with the idea of knowing all things through unknowing.
As for Omnipotence, being all-powerful, would mean having the power to be impotent, like a baby in a manger. No Omnipotence is complete without that power. Omnipotence has the power to be multiple things, not just one thing. And yet, Omnipotence also has the power to include all forms of power, limited or unlimited, in Itself, as what It is.
Now that is powerful. So, I continued to write:

This is the mystery both of the incarnation, in which that which is the fullness of deity, becomes less than what it is, abandoning its former estate, forsaking not the world.

The incarnation presents many ironies. The contradiction is defeated by an included “lessness” in its abundance. Yet the contradiction remains: that which contains all that could be good, (Perfection), cannot have anything good added to what it is or what it does.

In this way, as God, Christ can say he is Alpha and Omega. But in saying so, he refers to the end of time, not just the beginning. He is not saying just that he will be there at the end of time. He is saying he is already at the end of time because time is included in Himself. The sense of completeness you see in Genesis, seen in this light, presents no obstacle to a later unfolding of the heavens through time.

Your question acknowledges that God continues to create things like stars after the six day creation, but what I am saying to you is that Genesis includes the later creation of these stars, as well. When God creates, he sees the entire future – and specifically that future which is very good, especially the completed work of Jesus as the New Adam. With that work, which is perfect, he is ready to rest on the seventh day.

So that is what I wrote to her. There were a few juicy thoughts there, worth hitting the rewind button for. I wanted to share this with you, not just because it’s Christmas time and my Christian listeners might appreciate that, but because if what you’ve been looking for in Pamalogy, is to find something that doesn’t match your faith, if you’ve been testing it, you’re sort of missing the point. Pamalogy is not a religion. It is philosophy. If you are a religious person, it doesn’t dismantle any religions. All it does is provide the lens of logic. And when it comes to the Multiverse, it bases that view, not on faith, but on the logic of Maximized Awesomeness.
I haven’t fully covered the Maximization of Awesomeness yet in my blogcast series but now that I’ve provided a defense for two big Christian ideas for Christmas – the Trinity and the incarnation, based on foundational logic, let me offer something to my non-Christian followers. As true as it is that Perfection as the Maximization of Awesomeness may be necessarily Triune and include that which is less than what It is in Itself, there is nothing in foundational logic that requires Jesus to be the Son of God. A priori logic has limits. It is like a lens on an eye. It helps with vision. It doesn’t necessarily tell you everything you may want to know all by itself.

Belief in Jesus is a coherentist assumption based on faith. It amounts to a comprehensive doctrine, or dogma. It might be backed up by evidence from prophecy found in the TNKH. It might be supported by some historical data, if it is reliable, but to settle such matters requires the use of a truth machine. If your truth machine excludes the Bible and replaces it with the Q’uran, Jesus won’t claim to be the Alpha and the Omega anymore. Jesus will become a respected historical prophet who actually pointed to Muhammed. I’d love to hear from my Muslim readers and listeners as to their view of the Multiverse. I don’t think the Q’uran necessarily excludes it. In saying there are seven heavens, it isn’t saying there aren’t more. Am I right?

The truth machine  that Pamalogists will refer to is not the Bible or the Q’uran or any other set of Scriptures or religious systems. It will be the CounterChecker, or some even better machine, through which those with conflicting ideas can sort out their differences. Thus, if Christians want to debate with Muslims, the machine will be ideally suited for that. Political and religious views have in common that they both involve comprehensive doctrines. The CounterChecker tabulates foundational logic in one category and emperical evidence in another because it is designed as a knowledge gathering machine. It’s not a faith machine. It may or may not enhance your comprehensive worldview and support your doctrines.
Now while we’re sorting things out here, I should also be clear that CounterChecker is not Pamalogy and Pamalogy is not the CounterChecker. The CounterChecker is a truth machine desgined by the founder of Pamalogy based on epistemelogical concepts. The defense of Pamalogical concepts is another matter. If you disagree with any of the foundational concepts, these ideas can be hashed out in the Truth Machine, as well.
As an example, in my last blogcast, I asserted that time appeared to be subject to consciousness, rather than consciousness to time. I stated that this could be proven probabilistically. That is, if time is infinite, but your particular consciousness exists now, then it is infinitely more probable that your consciousness is dictating what time it is, than it is that time is dictating, whether or not it is time for you to be conscious.
This is a thought that has some bearing on religious notions of eternity. Any religion that holds that either the past or the future is eternal and infinite, needs to recognize that in relation to an infinite amount of time, a very finite lifespan occurring in any point in time is literally next to impossible. The only evidence a person has that those odds have been defeated is the experience of being alive. While that is good evidence, if there are multiple ways that evidence could exist, then the most probable way for that evidence to exist is probably the best explanation.
Many world religions
What religious expressions fit best with probabilistic abduction?

What we call “probabilistic abduction” seems to dictate that this evidence, your conscious experience as existing now, is infinitely more likely the result of time being subject to the conscious experience, rather than the conscious experience being dependent on the time to pass until it comes to be. Consciousness seems to have a way of bypassing timelines to experience moments in time. It’s foundational logic. While defeating infinite odds is not entirely impossible, it is literally most likely that it hasn’t happened. This is one of the differences between a foundationist and a coherentist. A coherentist will often base their belief on what they see and experience. Experience is the foundation of their comprehensive set of beliefs. It’s all the proof they need. A coherentist would rather believe they’ve defeated infinite odds than believe that time is subject to consciousness. They will insist that such a belief is merely a theory. They will ask for proof even though they already have it in terms of probabilistic abduction.

The improbability of time dictating when consciousness can occur, rather than consciousness dictating when time occurs, bears on religious viewpoints and becomes the lens of Pamalogy. It tends to support Asian religious concepts like Buddhism and Hinduism more than Judeo-Christian and Islamic ones. A Hindu supposes they are always alive, so the odds of them experiencing something consciously is 100%, in one form or another, at all times as their soul migrates. Do you see how the math works?
But a Pamalogist isn’t necessarily a Hindu or a Buddhist. There are other matters of faith to check with the lens of Pamalogy. Today we talked about Jesus, whom most Christians suppose is the incarnation of God as Savior. Salvation in Hinduism and Buddhism is very different than it is in Christianity, Judaism or Islam. Since Pamalogy is about the Maximization of Awesomeness, let’s talk about how salvation fits into the Maximization of Awesomeness. Next time, we’ll open that door. As I’ve said before, foundationism can actually tell us more than its critics realize. I think you’ll get a lot out of these comparisons. First, we’ll look at different concepts of salvation. Then we’ll consider which concepts seem better and why.
We need to take our time with this so I’ll break the discussion up into parts.  After just a few more blogcasts, I will have shown you why the Maximization of Awesomeness is not just a fanciful hope, but the very reason for our consciousness. You will have discovered the purpose of life. Cool, huh? Ciao!

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