Friday, August 28, 2015

This Weekend and Beyond at Redeemer





Here's what's happening at Redeemer.

Saturday evening, August 29 - Darren Wilson will be with us and premiere his new movie "Holy Ghost Reborn." 7 PM. Tickets are $5, available either online or at the door.
Holy Ghost Reborn



Sunday morning, August 30, 10:30. 
I'll preach out of Revelation 11:1-14. 
Plus Hannah Ford will be with us. 


Sunday night, August 30 - Hannah Ford in concert at Trinity Lutheran Church in Monroe, 323 Scott Street, 6:30 PM.

Hannah Ford Flyer PROOF2


Full Life in Christ 
Begins Monday night, Sept. 14. 
This is our church's basic, foundational disciple-making program. 
Call our office for more details - 734-242-5277.






  • KING DAVID, PALMS, & TODAY'S WORSHIPERHOW TO FIND YOUR OWN LANGUAGE IN WORSHIP
    Class begins Sept. 17 and meets Thursday evenings, 7-9 PM. Last class Thursday, Nov. 19.
    Taught by Holly Benner
  • DISCOVERING THE REAL JESUS
    Class begins Sept. 20 and meets Sunday mornings, 9:00 - 10:15 AM.  Last class Sunday, Nov. 22.
    Taught by Jim Collins 
  • THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
    Class begins Sept. 20 and meets Sunday evenings, 6:00 - 7:30 PM.  Last class Sunday evening, Nov. 22.
    Taught by John Piippo


Redeemer Youth Ministries
Meets Thursdays, 7-8:30 PM.

Our Youth Leader is Trevor Robinson.



Meets Wednesday nights, 7 pm.

Led by Jerry Seibert and his team.




PLUS...  We are in process of building a 5500-square foot addition for our Children's Ministries!



LOOKING WAY AHEAD...

Our 2016 HSRM Annual Summer Conference will have...

Bob Hazlett

Robby Dawkins


And you!

Paul Vitz & the Psychology of Atheism


The Fall semester at Monroe County Community College has begun. I'm kicking in to philosophy mode once again. Last night I taught the first two of my three classes - a Philosophy of Religion class, and Intro to Logic (I'm teaching two Intro to Logic classes this semester).

I really liked, on first impression, the students in my classes last night. There was a lot of very lively discussion as I introduced the Ontological Argument for God's Existence, and gave an introduction and overview of Logic (to include refuting the subjectivist fallacy). 

A lot of students seem interested and want to talk. So, the discussion has begun! Which is why I'm posting this. When a student asks me a question I often re-post something I've already written about this.

Here I've put together 5 things I've written on the psychology of atheism, taken from NYU's Prof. of Psychology Paul Vitz.


The Psychology of Atheism: Part I

I just read "The Psychology of Atheism," by Paul Vitz, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at New York University. (In Dallas Willard, ed.; A Place for Truth) Vitz talks about the psychological reasons for unbelief. "Most psychologists view with some alarm an attempt to propose a psychology of atheism. At the very least, such a project puts many psychologists on the defensive and gives them at least a small taste of their own medicine. Psychologists are always observing and interpreting others, and it is time that some of them learn from their own experience what it is like to be put under the microscope of psychology theory and evidence." (136)

Vitz begins by giving two points that bear on his basic assumptions. First, Vitz assumes "that the major barriers to God are not rational but in a general sense can be called psychological... I am quite convinced that for every person strongly swayed by rational argument, there are countless others more affected by nonrational, psychological factors. The human heart: no one can truly fathom it or know all of its deceits, but at least it is the proper task of the psychologist to try." (Ib.) Psychological barriers to belief in God are both many and "of great importance." (Ib.) Further, "people vary greatly in the extent to which these factors have been present in their lives." (137)

Secondly, "in spite of serious psychological barriers to belief, all of us have a free choice to accept or reject God." (Ib.)

Vitz believes there is "a widespread assumption throughout much of the intellectual community that belief in God is based on all kids of irrational, immature needs and wishes, but that somehow or other skepticism or atheism is derived from a rational, non-nonsense appraisal of the way things really are." (137-138) He then gives his own story of how he became an atheist as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in the 1950s. One of the major factors for this was "general socialization," though Vitz was unaware of it at the time. He was embarrassed about his upbringing in Cincinnati and "wanted to take part and be comfortable in the new, exciting, glamorous, secular world into which I was moving at that time at the University of Michgian as an undergraduate." (139) Such "socialization pressure" has pushed many people away from God-belief "and all that this belief is associated with for them." (Ib.)

Another kind of socialization matter for Vitz's atheistic turn was that he desired to "be accepted by powerful and influential psychologists in my field. In particular, I wanted to be accepted by the powerful and influential psychologists in my field." (139)

A final, superficial-but-very-strong-irrational-pressure to become an atheist, was "personal convenience." (139) Simply put, it is inconvenient "to be a serious believer in today's powerful neo-pagan world." Which meant, for Vitz, the world of academia. "It's not hard to imagine the pleasuresthat would have to be rejected if I became a serious believer." (140) And the time it would require.

For Vitz, his "decision" to become an atheist was more a matter of his will than his intellect. Because of his "personal needs for a convenient lifestyle," and his "professional needs to be accepted as part of academic psychology," "atheism was simply the best policy." (141) But there are deeper psychological reasons for atheism, to which Vitz then turns.

Vitz has sympathy with atheists who have deeper psychological reasons for being an atheist. They are often the most passionate of atheists, and not just casual, internet atheists. Vitz begins by talking about Sigmund Freud's psychology of religious belief, because Vitz is going to use Freud in forming a psychology of atheism.

The Psychology of Atheism: Part II

Our front porch - a great place
for theological thinking.
Paul Vitz, in his presentation "The Psychology of Atheism," looks at deeper psychological reasons for atheism. (In Willard, A Place for Truth) And why not? Lots of psychological work has been done on religious belief and behavior, and lots of internet ad hominem "analysis" goes on by the village atheists among us. So why not a psychology of atheism, subjecting it to analysis? Atheists are no more immune or psychological "neutral" than are theists. Indeed, for most of the confessing atheists I have met I have concluded that their nonbelief is far more related to, e.g., emotional and psychological issues than being a result of "objective, rational thought." This is not a criticism of atheism as such. Theists suffer this, too. It is, however, a criticism of the myth of epistemic neutrality and objectivity. And this also cuts both ways, affecting theists who claim a neutral, fully objective and "rational" view of things.

Perhaps the most famous, and infamous, psychology of religion is Freud's The Future of an Illusion. It is to Freud that Vitz now turns.

"Freud was the first prominent psychologist to propose that people's belief in God could not be trusted because of its origins. In other words, what Freud did was take the ad hominem argument and make it a very popular and influential one." (141) Uh-oh. Ad hominem arguments, in logic, are a no-no, an epistemic non-event.

Freud argued that we can't trust the source of religious beliefs. Religion is neither true nor false, but "is a psychological illusion that arose from our primitive needs for protection. Our basic, infantile, unconscious needs for a father who would look after us, and therefore an illusion." (142) Because of this we cannot accept the truth value of theism.

But this is not convincing. Freud thought that all the contributions of civilization, including science and literature and even psychoanalysis, could be understood as due to infantile, unconscious needs. "So," Vitz says, "if the origins of a belief make us no longer accept its truth value, then according to Fried, we shouldn't accept the truth value of all the other accomplishments of civilization that he said arose from the same kind of motivation." (142)

Further, Freud claimed that among the oldest psychological needs of the human race is the need for a loving, all-powerful father. But that is unconvincing, because if it were true than most or all religions would project the idea of "God" as a loving, protecting, all-powerful "father." But this is not the case. "Many religions don't have that understanding of God at all, particularly many of the pre-Christian or pre-Jewish religions in the Mediterranean area. Some major religions either have no God or their understanding of God is quite different."

Vitz thinks Freud's assumption of a universal, human need of this type is unconvincing. Because were it true, then we'd find "the same kind of religion everywhere we looked." (142)

Next: Vitz looks at the Feuerbachian roots of Freud's atheism.

The Psychology of Atheism: Part III

NYU psychologist Paul Vitz, in his presentation "The Psychology of Atheism," looks at deeper psychological reasons for atheism. (In Willard, A Place for Truth)

See my two previous posts on this here and here.

Vitz looks at the atheism of the psychologist Freud. Freud's atheism comes from what has been called the "projection theory" of German philosopher-theologian Ludwig Feuerbach. Vitz writes: "When Freud was writing his Future of an Illusion in the 1920s, he was updating Feuerbach." (142)

Freud's atheism is not itself part of his psychoanalysis. Vitz writes: "The thing to keep in mind is this: Freud had very little experience, maybe none at all, with the psychological study of people who believed in God. (143) Freud published no case histories of people who believed in God at the time of their psychoanalysis. "So Freud was really not an expert on the unconscious psychology of people who believed in God." (Ib.) Freud, therefore, did not give us a good theory of religious belief since his idas are not psychoanalytically rooted and are not at all based on much personal experience with God-believers. Freud merely warmed up Feuerbach's projection theory. This is not good scholarship.

Feuerbach's theory is found in his The Essence of Christianity. Feuerbach wrote:
  • What man misses - whether this be an articulate and therefore conscious, or an unconscious, need - that is his God. 
  • Man projects his nature into the world outside himself before he finds it in himself.
  • To live in projected dream-images is the essence of religion. Religion sacrifices reality to the projected dream. . .
Elsewhere Vitz explains: "What Freud did with this argument was to revive it in a more eloquent form, and publish it at a later time when the audience desiring to hear such a theory was much larger. And, of course, somehow the findings and theory of psychoanalysis were implied as giving the theory strong support."

"Strangely enough, however, Freud has inadvertently given us a basic theory for understanding why people would not believe in God, why people would be atheists!" (In Willard, op. cit., 143) The projection theory cuts both ways. To understand this Vitz looks at the one idea Freud is famous for, and which is central to his theory: the "Oedipus Complex."

Next Psychology of Atheism post: Freud's Oedipus Complex & atheism as an example of Oedipal wish fulfillment.

The Psychology of Atheism: Part IV

NYU psychologist Paul Vitz, in his presentation "The Psychology of Atheism," looks at deeper psychological reasons for atheism. (In Willard, A Place for Truth)

Atheists have a psyche. Let's look into it! (At least theists can affirm that atheists have psyches. On atheism-as-philosophical naturalism nobody has a "psyche." Hence there can be no "psychology" of anything. Neurobiological explanations may be used, which have their own philosophical problems.)

The "Oedipus complex" was central to Freud's psychoanalytic theory, even as he applied it to religious belief. Vitz writes: "The interesting thing about the Oedipus complx is that Freud said it's universal. There's no reason to believe this, but Freud argued that it is universal, that it is unconscious, and in the case of the male child, the unconscious desire is to reject or remove and kill his father and to have some kind of erotic possession of the mother." (143)

Say "whew"... and thank God that this is not common (says Vitz, who doesn't find this kind of thing in his own counseling work)!

But what does this have to do with God? Freud took his Oedipus theory and said people link their own fathers with God. God, said Freud, is a "father figure and our attitude toward God and our father are very similar." (144)

Freud thought this explained God-belief. Vitz says it is not universal, as Freud thought. But, ironically, if Freud's eccentric Oedipus theory explains anything, it explains atheism. Vitz says:

"Since Freud proposed that God is a father figure, this suggests that we should all have an unconscious desire to kill God, to be independent of God, to have the world the way we want it. In a sense, what he's saying is that an atheist has an unresolved Oedipus complex because normally the father is too big to kill and the child can't get away with it. And so, instead of killing his father, the child identifies with the aggressor, his father, and represses these aggressive and sexual desires, which then remain unconscious." (144)

Freud thinks all of us have a desire to kill God. Vitz thinks Freud is on to something here. Vitz: "I would propose that atheism is an example of Oedipal wish fulfillment. That is, it's an unresolved Oedipus complex in the person." OK. But Vitz does not think "Oedipal wish fulfillment" is anywhere near "universal." So Vitz thinks we need to go deeper. This brings us to the "theory of the defective father."

I'll explain this in my next post. For now I cannot begin to tell you how many atheists I have met who seem to me to especially be reacting to their fathers.

The Psychology of Atheism: Part V

NYU psychologist Paul Vitz, in his presentation "The Psychology of Atheism," looks at deeper psychological reasons for atheism. (In Willard, A Place for Truth)

See my four previous posts on this hereherehere, and here.

Freud said:

"Psychoanalysis, which has taught us the intimate connection between the father complex and belief in God, has shown us that the personal God is logically nothing but an exalted father and daily demonstrates to us how youthful persons lose their religious belief as soon as the authority of their father has broken down." (144)

Vitz calls this "the theory of the defective father." The claim here is that "once a child is disappointed in
and loses his or her respect for the earthly father, then belief in a heavenly father becomes impossible." Fathers can and do lose their authority and disappoint their children. This is what happened to Freud himself.

Freud's father, Jacob, was a great disappointment, even worse. His father was weak, unable to support his own family, and a wimp in his non-response to anti-Semitism. One time an anti-Semite called Jacob a "dirty Jew" and knocked his hat off. Jacob refused to respond, and young Sigmund was disgusted when he heard about this. Vitz catalogues other reasons for Freud's antipathy towards his father.

Vitz cites other famous atheists who had "defective fathers, to include Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, and Madeleine Murray O'Hare. O'Hare's own son has written, e.g., about the hatred her mother had for his grandmother. Once she tried to kill her dad with a ten-inch butcher knife!

Vitz writes quite a bit about the atheist psychologist Albert Ellis, who may have been in denial of his hatred towards his father. And then there's orphaned child Baron d'Holbach, Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche (whose "life fits the theory about as well as any"), Jean Paul Satre, and Albert Camus. And Gene Roddenberry ("Star Trek") and Russell Baker and...  on and on...

Vitz adds, "for those whose atheism has been conditioned by a father who rejected, denied, hated, manipulated or physically or sexually abused them, there must be understanding." (151)

One more personal point. Whenever I see a father who is a religious "Christian fundamentalist" I am concerned for their children. I met, in my 11 years at Michigan State University, many kids of fundamentalist dads who had rejected "Christianity." They did not know that the so-called "Christianity" of their fathers was not the actual thing, and that the meaning of "fundamentalism" is: 1) no "fun," 2) too much "damn," and 3) not enough "mental." No wonder they rejected this!

(For Vitz's full work on the psychology of atheism see his book Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism.)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Anselm's Ontological Argument for the Existence of God (Philosophy of Religion Students)


(For my Philosophy of Religion Students)

I begin the Philosophy of Religion class by introducing students to an a priori argument for God's existence, as formulated famously by Anselm.

I give 1-on-1 oral exams on my teachings. Here are my expectations for question 1 on the first exam - Anselm's Ontological Argument for God.




First: state the argument exactly as I have stated it in class, and written it on the board.

1. I have an idea of a being a greater than which cannot be conceived.
2. Therefore, God exists.

Or:
1. I have an idea of a greatest possible being.
2. Therefore, God exists.

Second: explain what it is like to have an "idea" of something (explain essential and contingent attributes).

Every time you have an idea of something, that idea has essential attributes and contingent attributes. Essential attributes are what makes that thing what it is, and without which it would not be what it is.

Use the example of a triangle. Essential attributes of "triangle" include: "having three sides," and "angles equaling 80 degrees."

A contingent attribute is a non-essential attribute. E.g., the triangle in my mind is "pink." "Pinkness" is not an essential attribute of triangularity; i.e., a triangle does not have to be pink in order to qualify as a triangle.

Third: Anselm claims to be able to conceive of "greatest possible being."

I can think, in my mind, of a greatest possible being. That is, I can have an idea of "greatest possible being." Because whenever I have an idea of anything, that idea has essential attributes (otherwise I could not have the idea), my idea of "greatest possible being" includes essential attributes of: "omniscience" (knows everything that can be known); "omnipotence" (is able to do everything that can be done); and "all-loving" (assuming it is greater to love than to hate). 

OK. But why must such a being actually exist? Because... 

Fourth: explain that, for Anselm, it is greater to exist in reality than in the mind alone.

"Existence," for Anselm, is a great-making attribute or property.

Therefore a greatest possible being (AKA "God") actually exists. Because if "actual existence" is not an essential attribute of "greatest possible being" then I am not thinking of "greatest possible being."

Fifth: explain why, for Anselm, if someone says "There is no God" then they are a "fool."

Because in order to say "There is no God" one must have a concept or idea of "God." Thus, that being the case, even the fool must acknowledge that God exists.

Finally: explain how, then, the argument works.

Anselm thinks his argument works because one cannot conceive or think of God as not existing, any more than one can think of a triangle that does not have three sides.

It's False That an Atheist Just Believes in One Fewer God Than a Theist Does

Card, in a store in Detroit's Cass Corridor

OK - I recently heard this again, so I'll respond and get it over with. An Internet-atheist cliche, given to a theist such as I, is: "We atheists just believe in one fewer "god" than you do." 

That's cute. But not really. The person who quotes this thinking they are making some profound point is actually committing the fallacy of equivocation.

I don't believe in "Zeus." Here are some things about "Zeus":

  • Zeus is not omniscient - he got tricked by Prometheus, e.g.
  • Zeus is a pervert - he changed his shape into a swan, e.g., when he impregnated Leda. When he abducted Ganymede he changed his shape into an eagle. And so on..., kind of like the atheist Bertrand Russell would disguise himself so as not to be recognized when he engaged in adulterous behavior in seducing women. (See Paul Johnson's Intellectuals, pp. 212 ff. Fellow philosopher Sidney Hook said Russell "would pursue anything in skirts that would cross his path.")  Anyway, Zeus is far from all-loving, and Zeus has a physical body.
  • Zeus has a beard and long hair.
  • Zeus lives on Mount Olympus.
  • Zeus is married.
  • Zeus fathered many children.
In the philosophy of religion no scholar is interested in "Zeus." The real question that is found in every academic philosophy of religion book that exists is: does a being with the following attributes exist:
  • personal-causal agent
  • atemporal (therefore changeless)
  • immaterial (therefore nonspatial)
  • omniscient (knows everything that can be known)
  • omnipotent (is able to do everything that can be done)
  • omnibenevolent (in morally perfect)
  • necessarily existent (never began to exist and never will cease existing; therefore uncaused)
  • cause (creator) of all that exists.
Philosophers (atheists and theists), when they argue for or against the existence of "God," refer to this kind of being. The philosophical question is: Does this kind of being exist? Theists say yes, atheists say no. But note that they are both referring to the same kind of being, and not to "Zeus" and his anthropomorphic kin.

So, to call "Zeus" and this being examples of "gods" in the cliche-quote is to equivocate on the meaning of "god."

That's irrational. Illogical. 

Conflict Reveals True Character

Downtown Monroe

I've always thought that who a person really is, is who they are in their home. This is because a home is people living under the same roof who are not normal like you. The people in your home, whether old or young, are different. Differences attract - that's good. That's why you married the person you did. Differences also collide. Differences repel, like positive and negative magnetic poles. Differences conflict. A husband and wife are, in a few ways at least, polar opposites. 


From God's perspective all of this is very good. In Genesis we read: "And God created polar opposites, and saw that it was good." And, BTW, God is different from you. God's ways are not your ways. That fact is a transcendent good which we minimally grasp.

Conflict, therefore, is inevitable. Conflict is normal. If there's no conflict in your home you have a problem. Probably, that problem is you. Or at least, you are part of the problem. Always consider this possibility, for it situates you on the road to being a peacemaker.

James van Yperen, in Making Peace, writes:

"Conflict reveals the true character of a leader. Jesus told His disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46). Who we are is revealed by how we react to persecution." (p. 26)

If differences irritate you, that is your problem. If different approaches and styles "push your buttons," those buttons are your's. Own up to this and you are on your way to character formation.

Praying Is Ontologically Antecedent to McPraying

Ronald McDonald in Bangkok
Can we, while on the run in this crazy busy life, tweet occasional prayers to God? The answer is: Yes.

Is it OK to McPray? Yes.

Is McPraying the kind of thing the Scriptures are talking when it comes to praying? No. 

The answer is no because praying is a relationship, not a duty, and not something we pull out of our hip pocket in an emergency. Biblical praying is pure, which means (acc. to Soren Kierkegaard) it "wills one thing." Jesus-type praying is monocular and single-minded. As Jesus said, "Blessed are the mono-taskers, for they shall see God."

The prayer relationship with God should be like a good marriage. McMarriages are shallow, disconnected, and troubled. So is multi-tasked McSpirituality.

But... didn't Brother Lawrence legitimate praying while doing the dishes? (See his The Practice of the Presence of God.) Yes...   but remember that Brother Lawrence lived in a monastery that had daily, structured times of corporate and monocular praying. Out of much individual and corporate praying flows, inexorably, dish-washing praying. But the latter is not a substitute for the former; the former is ontologically antecedent to the latter. 

No praying person in the Bible or in church history would have concluded that real praying was like a microwave. Real praying is a slow-cooker. Because praying is engagement in relationship with God. All real relationship requires much time, space, and focus.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Argument from Consciousness for the Existence of God

Downtown Monroe
The Argument from Consciousness for the Existence of God
This argument is J.P. Moreland’s, and is found:


·         jpmoreland.com. Go to “Resources.” Scroll down to: "Argument from Consciousness for God's Existence." ($1.95 for the mp3)


·         Moreland’s hyper-academic  Consciousness and the Existence of God:A Theistic Argument.





J.P. is one of the best teachers I have ever encountered. His writing is crisp-clear. He's a brilliant thinker. He understands the relevant issues. Ultimately this argument succeeds as an example of abductive reasoning:

1) irreducible consciousness exists
2) the best explanation for irreducible consciousness is either theism or naturalism
3) it's not naturalism
4) therefore, theism is the most probable explanation for the existence of irreducible consciousness.


Here is a synopsis, notes I use when I teach students this argument.

1.  A “Recalcitrant Fact” – a fact that resists explanation by a theory.

a.    Imagine, e.g., that you are a prosecuting attorney has strong evidence that John committed a murder. HOWEVER…  there are 10 credible people who say they were watching a ball game with John at the time the crime was committed.

b.    That is a “recalcitrant fact.” It does not fit your theory.

c.    You could try to explain it away. How?

d.    But every attempt to explain away the recalcitrant fact fails. The fact remains “recalcitrant” (unyielding; won't go away).

e.    At this point the recalcitrant fact provides evidence for an alternative theory.

2.  The existence of consciousness is a recalcitrant fact for atheists.

a.    If atheism is true, then all that exists is matter and its various arrangements.

b.    This is called “naturalism,” or “scientific naturalism,” or “philosophical naturalism.” Or “materialism.”

c.    If all that exists is matter, then how can you get “mind” from “matter?”

d.    But “mind” does exist.

e.    Therefore the existence of “mind” (consciousness) is a recalcitrant fact for atheism-as- philosophical naturalism.

f.     Antony Flew, in There is a God, points to the existence of consciousness as a problem for atheists.

g.    Also presenting a problem for atheists is free will, and a “unified I.”

h.    But what if Christianity is true? If it is, then it follows that we are made in the image of God. There’s something about us that is like God.

 3.  Consciousness – what is it?

a.    Think about water. Water can exist in three states: liquid, solid, and gas. Each of these three states is a different state of water.

b.    In the same way there are at least 5 states of consciousness.

                                          i.    A Sensation.

                                        ii.    A Thought

                                       iii.    A Belief

                                       iv.    A Desire

                                        v.    A Volition, or an Act of Free Will

 4.  #1 – A Sensation (Mental State #1)

a.    Two levels of sensations.

                                          i.    Those that come through a sense organ.

1.    An awareness of “yellow”

2.    An awareness of “sweetness”

3.    An awareness of the smell of a rose

4.    Note: If I see a red object in lighting that makes it look orange to me, I experience it as orange, even though it is red.

                                        ii.    Those that do not come through a sense organ

1.    Pains, itches, emotions, etc…

2.    The difference between a pain and an itch is that they are different forms of sensory awareness.

3.    The difference between anger and the taste of a banana is that they are different forms of sensation.

b.    A sensation cannot be true or false.

                                          i.    It can be accurate or inaccurate.

                                        ii.    E.g. – Upon seeing a banana I say, “I have a sensation of ‘yellow’.”

                                       iii.    This sensation is not “true” or “false,” but accurate or inaccurate.

c.    You can have sensations without being able to think.

                                          i.    E.g. – I am sure that frogs have sensations. But it’s not clear to me that frogs can think.

                                        ii.    Frogs can feel pain, they can see flies. But they can’t have thoughts about flies.

d.    A sensation is just “a state of sentience.”

5.  A Thought (Mental State #2)

a.    A “thought” is the mental content that can be expressed in a sentence.

b.    For example:

                                          i.    Schnee ist Weiss.

                                        ii.    Nieve es blanca.

                                       iii.    Snow is white.

c.    All three of these sentences have the same content.

d.    The content is in my mind; the sentence is on the board, or on the sheet of paper.

e.    The sentence isn’t the same thing as the thought.

                                          i.    You can see the sentence.

                                        ii.    You can’t see the thought.

f.     A thought is a state of consciousness.

g.    Thoughts are different than sensations.

                                          i.    A thought can be true or false.

                                        ii.    A sensation cannot be true or false.

h.    Thoughts are different states of consciousness than sensations are.

6.  A Belief (Mental State #3)

a.    A belief is something you take to be true, between 51% and 100%.

                                          i.    For example, I am 80% certain that the Lions will make the playoffs this year. I’m “80-20” on this.

                                        ii.    For example, I am 100% certain that I exist. I’m 100-0 on this.

b.    A belief is your view of how things are; of what you take to be true, or to be the case.

c.    Beliefs are like thoughts – both can be true or false.

d.    But beliefs aren’t the same things as thoughts.

                                          i.    E.g. – thoughts only exist while you are having them.

                                        ii.    But you have many beliefs that you are not now aware of or thinking of.

                                       iii.    E.g., as I now speak to you I have thousands of beliefs about…

1.    Linda

2.    The multiplication table

3.    The New Testament

4.    Frogs in my backyard

5.    History

6.    Birds

7.    Etc…..

                                       iv.    I have many beliefs I am not now paying attention to (not now thinking of).

                                        v.    But it wouldn’t make any sense to say, “I now have a thought that I’m not thinking about.”

1.    Thoughts only exist when you are having them.

2.    Beliefs exist whether you are aware of them or not.

                                       vi.    Another example: I have thoughts that I don’t believe.

1.    E.g. – I am now doing a great job teaching.

2.    You can have a thought that you don’t believe; you can have a belief that you are not thinking.

e.    Thoughts and beliefs are like liquid and solid. They are different states of consciousness.

7.  A Desire (Mental State #4)

a.    A “desire” is a felt inclination toward or away from something.

                                          i.    E.g. – a desire for a cupcake.

                                        ii.    E.g. – a desire not to have a root canal.

                                       iii.    E.g. – a desire to be a good friend.

b.    Desires are not thoughts or beliefs.

                                          i.    A thought doesn’t have a felt inclination for or against something.

                                        ii.     

c.    Desires aren’t the same things as sensations.

                                          i.    Many people confuse a desire for God with a sensation of God’s presence, or an experience of God.

                                        ii.    People can have a desire for something that is a long-term desire…

1.    Like a desire to be a good teacher, or a good friend, or a godly parent.

                                       iii.    You can tell a long-term desire by the behavior that comes from it.

                                       iv.    E.g., the desire to be a good guitar player.

8.  A Volition; an Act of Free Will (Mental State #5)

a.    A mental action

b.    An exertion of effort

c.    This is a state of consciousness, of free will.

d.    Libertarian free will – a conscious choice that cannot be fully reduced to prior (antecedent) causal conditions.

9.  All 5 of these are states of consciousness. Not one of them is physical.

a.    But how do we know that?

b.    How do we know that these 5 states of consciousness are not physical?

c.    You don’t need a brain to think.

d.    E.g. – God doesn’t have a brain, and God can think.

e.    God doesn’t miss not having a brain.

10. Three Reasons Why Consciousness Is Not Physical

a.    There are things that are true of consciousness that are not true of the physical brain.

                                          i.    If this is true, then consciousness and the brain cannot be the same thing.

                                        ii.    Like what?

1.    A thought can be true or false. But no physical state of your brain can be true or false.

2.    E.g. – when you think, “That cupcake was good,” there is brain activity going on. Something may be happening, in your physical brain, that is closer to your left ear than your right ear, and it may be 10 cm long.

3.    But the thought “That cupcake was good” is not nearer your left ear than your right, and it is not 10 cm long.

4.    Thoughts don’t have geometrical size or shape. But the states of your brain do have geometrical sizes and shapes.

                                       iii.    Another example: Think of a pink elephant. Some of you may be able to think of putting a blue blanket on it.

1.    The thought is of “pink” and “blue.”

2.    But there is nothing physically pink and blue in your brain. Right now, if we could examine your brain, we would find nothing that is pink and blue.

                                       iv.    Therefore there are things that are true of consciousness that are not true of the physical brain. If this is true, then consciousness and the brain cannot be the same thing.


b.    There is a “what it is like to feel consciousness…”

                                          i.    E.g. – What it is like to feel pain…

1.    … to feel anger…

2.    … to be thinking about lunch…

                                        ii.    This is available from a first-person perspective.

                                       iii.    BUT NOTE: There is no first-person perspective on “what it is like to be physical…” Everything that is physical is only available from a 3rd-person perspective.

                                       iv.    See here Thomas Nagel’s famous essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?

1.    Here Nagel suggests that the subjective aspect of the mind may not ever be sufficiently accounted for by the objective methods of objective science.

                                        v.    E.g., suppose a physicist knew all the physical facts about the universe.

1.    Suppose she was blind from birth.

a.    Then, all of a sudden, she gained the ability to see.

b.    This person would learn some brand new facts. There would be facts about “What it is like to see the color yellow.” Etc.

c.    She already knew all the physical facts. But now she gained a bunch of new facts.

d.    From this it follows that the new facts she has come to know are not physical. They are, instead, mental facts.

e.    Thus, there is knowledge that is not available from a 3rd-person perspective.

2.    A scientist can know more about your brain than you do.

a.    But he cannot know anything about your mind, about what it is like to be you, unless you tell him.

b.    You alone have 1st-person knowledge of your mind, but not your brain.

c.    If your mind was your brain, you should be able to have a scientist tell you what is going on in your mind by reading it off what’s going on in your physical brain.


c.    Intentionality

                                          i.    This is “of-ness”; “about-ness.”

1.    Your thoughts/beliefs/sensations are “of” or “about” things.

2.    My sensation is a sensation of a tree.

3.    My desire is a desire about a cupcake.

4.    My fear is a fear of tornados.

                                        ii.    Our thoughts/beliefs/sensations are said to have “intentionality.” Which means they are “of” things or “about” things.

                                       iii.    Pure physical states don’t have intentionality.

1.    It doesn’t make any sense to point to an an area of the physical brain and say, “That brain state is about the Second World War.”

                                       iv.    States of consciousness do have intentionality.

1.    Therefore, the states of consciousness are not states of the brain.

                                        v.    For these three reasons (and others) the 5 conscious states are not physical.

11. What About the Brain?

a.    Science can establish correlations between the brain and the mind.

                                          i.    This doesn’t prove that they are the same thing.

                                        ii.    E.g. – just because fire causes smoke, it does not follow that fire is the same as smoke.

                                       iii.    Just because I poke you and it causes pain, this does not mean that the thing going on in your physical brain is pain. 

b.    It’s possible that consciousness uses the brain to work, like a driver uses a car to move.

c.    Moreland uses out-of-body experiences to validate this. Therefore, people don’t need brains or eyes to see.

d.    So, establishing correlations doesn’t prove they are the same thing.

12. The Problem for Atheistic Naturalism

a.    The problem is… if you begin with matter… and start with matter as it is described in physics and chemistry…

                                          i.    …then the history of the universe will be a history of the rearrangement of matter into ore and more complicated arrangements of matter.

b.    The problem is…  before sentient (conscious) life existed, there was no consciousness, on naturalism.

                                          i.    If this is true, then how can you get something from nothing?

                                        ii.    How do you get consciousness coming into existence from matter by merely rearranging brute, inert matter according to the laws of chemistry and physics?

                                       iii.    Moreland says: “There is no explanation for the origin of consciousness if you start from matter. Period.” Moreland says he has read every attempt, on naturalism, to explain this.

                                       iv.    Moreland says: “This is why the majority of philosophers working in philosophy of mind today deny the reality of consciousness.

13. Consciousness is explained if Christian Theism is true.

a.    If you begin the universe with mind (logos) rather than with matter (b-bs), then you already start the universe with conscious self, and the existence of subsequent selves is no problem.

b.    This is because the universe at its core is a Conscious Being, not brute matter.