Information and Theology
Implications for computer applications, HCI and AI

by Kristo Ivanov, prof.em., Umeå University

June 2018 version 190909-1915
<http://www8.informatik.umu.se/~kivanov/Theo.html>
<https://archive.org/details/kivanov_informatik_Theo>



CONTENTS

Introduction: Why?

Personal reflections

Range of Meaning, and the Brain
Theology as the Queen of the Sciences
Censorship of Talk about Religion
Reduction of Religion to Politics
Explaining Away Traditions and Religion
Theology without God: Heidegger. Autopoiesis, Evolution
Ego Inflation
Religion as Opium for the People
"Myths" of Artificial Intelligence
To Believe and to Know
Miracles, Myth, Reality, and Truth

Requests for Proof as Requests for Power 
From Science to Philosophy, to Religion
Dealing Modestly with the Unknown - Deflated Ego
Behaving Humans Beings - Simple as Ants
Anthropomorphism
Love and Evolutionary Self-Preservation
The Galileo Affair
Adaptation to an Evolutionary Changing World
Speculation and Introspection
Intuitions in Music
Explanations of Evil: Theodicy

Reflections on criticism 


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Introduction: Why?

With increasing frequency I have been concluding my writings with references to religious aspects of the questions that in an academic context become rather theological questions of different degrees of sophistication. Most of the time after my retirement as emeritus has been dedicated to discovering and show how many problems I dealt with in information science and practice eventually have to be boiled down terminating in theological questions. They appear most clearly in discussions of teleological matters such as the meaning of efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity represented lately by hopes in "artificial intelligence - AI. Even reactions to the decline of the idea of university in the context of increasing economic-political control by means of New Public Management (that is old Programme Budgeting already condemned in the "old" book Systems Analysis in Public Policy) 1972, 2018) hope for a return to an ideal "management by trust", which presupposes an "old" religious work ethic in Max Weber's spirit.

These matters usually end in the best case in obscure economics and politics when they do not remain on the technical level - as in the case of discussions of climate change or misuses of Facebook. All the rest is banished to inconsequential "philosophy", without reference to ethics and still less to any of the Ten Commandments that stand at the base of resistance to human greedcapital vices and all problems, misuses and evil which follows from them. This to the point that it has been noted that if all people followed at least 4 or 5 of the commandments the world would begin to look as a terrestrial paradise.

In writing this I have felt uncomfortable since I am painfully aware of living in an outspokenly secular country and in a societal and academic context where there is a generally sharp distinction  and separation between science and religion. The secular division between science and religion can be summarized in the concepts of scientism , physicalismbiologism (biological determinism), and related materialism. They were quite early opposed by the Church in, for instance, encyclicals such as Aeterni Patrisfollowed by discourses on the relationship between the natural sciences and religious belief. Today the issue is occasionally debated in certain fora such as, for instance, in the C.S. Lewis Society of California. I sense, however, that in a extremely secular country the sheer word God and religion is often barred from appearing, or is even ridicularized in mass media and in academic, discourse. 

Being well aware of the historical complexity of the problem I will not enter into an obviously preposterous general discussion of theology such as those by Christian apologists like Thomas Aquinas or, more popularly, C.S. Lewis. A really advanced theology of information would probably have to be a discussion of, say, Plato's work that can be related to that question, as I tried to do in Platonic Information Technology (integral pre-publication text in pdf-format here). Or it would consider Logosor a comment of Aquinas' first lectures commenting the first chapters of the Gospel of St. John, as "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God". Such debate would also contradict  my earlier conclusionsabout the impossibility of (interminable) debate on these matters. This is also the reason why I do not undertake a complex polemic review of an atheistic book such as The God Delusion (see more below) or even more recent apologetic attempts such as Seven Types of AtheismIn regard to my readers I will only account for some of my personal thoughts that have arised and sustained me in my work, based as they are upon my lifelong experiences and readings, touching ultimately the question of scientism in its various interpretations and connections with, e.g. materialism.

Let me begin by acknowledging that despite of have been baptized in early childhood as Bulgarian Orthodox I was raised in a religiously lukewarm family and in a Catholic Italian school until the age of 12. Following the emigration of the family and my arrival to Brazil my germinal childlike faith was, however, shaken after some unfortunate delusory contacts with a rebuffing Catholic priest. It was followed by a period in which I considered myself as atheist among atheists until about the age of 40, long after my graduation and work as electronic and electrical engineer. This means that I know a good deal about thoughts and feelings of some if not a majority of atheists, not the least among engineers and computer or information researchers. 

I must also acknowledge that I would probably not have changed my (ir)religious mind if my doctoral advisor prof. West Churchman (1913-2004) in his later books had not indicated a necessary and legitimate bridge between science and theology, which led me further to the study of the works of Carl Jung, followed by a consequential cascade of other readings on the practice and philosophy of science as well as on religions and theology. In doing so I parted company with another most serious Swiss student of Churchman, Werner Ulrich, who opted for a return to the - in my view - dangerously seducting philosophy of Immanuel Kant (and his follower Jürgen Habermas), without taking visible notice of all historic criticism of his philosophy (a sort of pedagogical summary here). The result of what I consider to be a hopeless search for a misunderstood "communicative rationality" can be induced from a late "confession" by Ulrich in his homepage for March-May 2018 Toward a "Knowledge Democracy": the promise of completing a series of essays dedicated to the role of general ideas in Western and Eastern thought, titled "The Rational, the Moral, and the General". My conviction is that what one needs to obtain from Eastern thought is an understanding of the "rationality" of analytical psychology, and that "the moral and general" is to be found in theology.

I use to think that one either absorbs faith and interest for religion, so to say, with the mother's milk and mother tongue or, then, intellectually and experientially with God's grace. The latter is one among Blaise Pascal's conclusions in his Pensées where he also writes "La foi est différente de la preuve: l'une est humaine, l'autre est un don de Dieu." (1949/1955, p. 161, §248 - "Faith is different from the proof: one is human, the other is a gift of God"). A noted and discussed motif in Western philosophy has been that grace requires a sort of searching but receptive, passive, and humble mode in rather conflicting or alternate terms as suggested by the mathematician Jan Brouwer (more on him below), and represented by the philosophies of Arthur Schopenhauer vs. Gottfried Leibniz (Émilienne Naert in Leibniz et la Querelle du Pur Amourp. 237.) Related conceptions of the nature of grace were advanced in the theology of Franz von Baader.

This could be thought as analog to what is modernly accepted and attributed to hereditary undefined "chance" in order to explain gifted proficiency in music, dance, mathematics, languages, visual arts, or sports. The best sign of humility I did experience in this context is an agnostic philosopher I met who declared himself as regrettably "tone deaf" for religion. Because of some reasons surveyed in my paper on Computers as embodied mathematics and logicarrogant scientism has given priority to a misunderstood and misused mathematics, downplaying the need of humilitiy vis-à-vis other people's gifts as expressed in cardinal Merry del Val's famous prayer-litany. Christianity prefers to refer specifically to manual-material vs. intellectual gift (see reference to Sirach, below) and to "Spiritual gift", developed from the Bible's Isaiah 11:2-3, as in the Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 (most known), 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:11, which includes reference to "service" work. If one reflects upon the definition of chance, an event for which we do not know of any correlation with a "known" natural process, then it becomes obvious that chance is also a measure of human ignorance that psychologically and paradoxically justifies, for instance, addiction to gambling behavior. It is a cost of misunderstood ignorance.

Alternatively, if faith is not taken as a gift of God obtained unconsciously and directly with mother's milk then one, as I myself, may have to experience the necessity of hard struggle for an indirect intellectual conquest. Even Pascal's conception of grace mentioned above allows for that different types of giftedness can enable different types of faith with different types and degrees of knowledge. An example is the problematic "mathematical knowledge" of the "physical reality" of quantum physics, which professional physicists sometimes confess that they cannot really "understand". For this one must learn a language. A necessarily ultimately defective but useful analogy is that you must have or build a radio receiver in order to capture the volatile reality of electromagnetic waves, which else do not "exist", and you hear nothing. Or, as Jung expresses it (Psychology and Religion, CW 11, p.110, §170.)

Faith is a charisma not granted to all; instead, man has the gift of thought, which can strive for the highest things. [...] People who merely believe and don't think always forget that they continually expose themselves to their worst enemy: doubt. Wherever belief reigns, doubt lurks in the background. But thinking people welcome doubt: it serves them as a valuable stepping-stone to better knowledge. People who can believe should be a little more tolerant with those of their fellows who are only capable of thinking. Belief has already conquered the summit which thinking tries to win by toilsome climbing. The believer ought not to project his habitual enemy, doubt, upon the thinker, thereby suspecting him of destructive designs. It the ancients had not done a bit of thinking we would not possess any dogma about the Trinity at all. The fact that a dogma is on the one hand believed and on the other hand is an object of thought is proof of its vitality. Therefore let the believer rejoice that others, too, seek to climb the mountain on whose peak he sits.

A full understanding of the above, in view of scientists' skepticism, e.g. skepticism about global warming or about "climate change denial" that I discuss elsewhere, requires an understanding that they, and particularly the general lay public, mostly believe in the power of what they consider to be science and scientific thought. There is no understanding that the famous and controversial "sacrifice of the intellect" associated with the Christian devotional tradition, suggested by Brouwer as shown in my essay on computers and mathematics. It may also be seen as a sacrifice of the Ego according to analytic psychology. I was attracted to this psychology upon my expectation of understanding the "religious" fascination by computers and their opposition of logic and feelings (at the time, especially with logic programming). The attraction was reinforced by my noticing that Jung summarized the intellectual psychological meaning of religion and, consequently of thousands of years of thoughts and feelings held by billions of people who even testified to have found in it consolation and encouragement in affliction. Most of these billions were and are not distinguished scientists or theologians. They are rather people who have reflections, and I begin accounting for mine in a simple way, as a cumulative list of apparently disparate thoughts as I believe that most ordinary engineers or scientists like me usually formulate during their lives. I do not try to create of "system" of arguments because I would then absurdly try to do a sort of updating or executive summary of Aquina's Summa TheologicaAlternatively I would risk to fall into what I think is a trap of hopeless debates by trying to create a new synthesis or an apparently consistent logical network of arguments about science and religion as it appears to have been done by Denis O. Lamoureux, or a less logical but more verbose one such as my Robert Spaemann in his Rationality and Faith in God. Not to mention the logical acrobacies in blending religion and (meta)ethics as by Michael Smith. A more readable, elegant and apparently less polemical alternative would be Peter Kreeft's criticism of the intellectual pillars of unbelief such as Kant, Machiavelli, Nietzsche, Freud, Marx and Sartre. In contrast, my own reflections are linked by the conception that each one of them builds a cumulative "unsystematic-popular" argument for my feeling and my taking seriously, in scientific work, the issue of religion in general and Christianity in particular. 

I must emphasize, however, that such reflections are not the cause but rather the result of my "conversion", which probably would not have taken place without events in life that prompted my study of Carl Jung's collected works with their psychological relation to religion, and their scientific legitimation by West Churchman's introduction to the essence of rationality in science, especially natural science. This was completed by the influence of Tage Lindbom's philosophical and Christian arguments in what concerns political science. In particular, it is possible that my early contact with Catholicism furnished me with what Churchman exposes as a "Kantian" form of representation - or what can be seen as an (always ultimately defective) analogy to the above mentioned "radio receiver" built out of knowledge about generally available human material. It allowed me to receive or "perceive" later, in adult life, the contents of this form, the analog of electromagnetic waves, i.e. "intelligible inputs to my inquiring system", validating the axioms of my a priori knowledge. (The Design of Inquiring Systemsp. 129ff.)

I apologize in advance for my consciously adopted "heavy" style of writing, especially the profusion of links to references that are intended only for those who feel need for them in order to foster their possible future related work, being able to resist the temptation to interrupt their first reading by clicking the links just for curiosity. For the rest I refer to the disclaimer, my position statement, and letter of intent, found in my list of subjects of research and of blog entries

 

Personal reflections

Range of Meaning, and the Brain

The first reflection is that in physical science the most valuable theory is the one which succeeds in "explaining" most phenomena, leaving aside for the moment definitions and the philosophical question of explanation vs. understanding, or mechanism vs. teleology vs. probability. Since computer applications are not restricted to the physical realm we can also search for an approach to science in general that also explains or gives meaning to most human phenomena or problems as they are spread out globally in time and space, and are sensed by billions of people. I cannot expect that a man in his lifetime of, say 80 years, will be able to review and repeat what billions of people, or thousands of those who have been considered as brilliant minds, have thought and experienced in the times span of, say, 5000 years we have records of. 

For atheists and those who believe in materialism for explanation or understanding it must be fundamental to consider the brain. Sheer (maximum) 1500 cubic centimeters of human brain substance that is said to have evolved during millions of years in the very particular planetary milieu of this "world", and whose structure and function is mostly a not understood black box, are supposed to solve the riddles of life and universe in the span of a long millenary series of human lives. And this thanks mainly to the "scientific" brain that "evolved" only the last 400 years. Among the latest ambitious attempts to find substitutes for religion, claiming to be based on science, we find psychoanalysis and anthroposophy that are less than 100 years old. Individual lives dispose of a time span of maximum about 80 years during which the same kind of brain that may not even understand one's own husband or wife or closest relatives, causes thousands of conflicts, has caused (by "chance"?) two world wars with their, say, hundreds of millions of homicides, and thousands of technical disastrous incidents due or attributed to the "human factor". And we don't ask what would have happened if a nuclear war had conflagrated under the direction of The Brain Bank of America and corresponding Soviet organs during critical periods of the cold war between West and East, as during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This human brain is supposed ("believed") to be able to judge, as the physicist Carlo Rovelli does in his The Order of Time (e.g. chap. 12), the whole humanity's historical beliefs and solve the riddles of the universe with the help of an exclusive and misunderstood mathematics and logic. This belief in the capabilities of an individual life with the duration, on the average, of less than 80 years is supposed to allow individuals among younger smart generations (on the average of an age less than 50 and schooled during 15-30) to disregard and (d)evaluate the supposedly antiquated ethics and knowledge of their parents and elders, not to mention forefathers. This is the more so when it is claimed that ethics does not presuppose history and religion but, on the contrary, follows from evolutionary necessities in a Darwinian and sociobiological struggle for survival, akin to the ideas of a Universal Darwinism.

What science and scientism does is to "explain" a minute fraction of total phenomena, disregarding the rest including earlier findings, under the presupposition that science in a successful process of "Darwinian" continuous progress supersedes previous findings, continuing without foreseeable limits of knowledge and approaching godly total knowledge. In our age of scientistic or physicalist concern for "sustainability" and "climate change" we could get more concerned with epistemological and theological limits, and with what is not explained or not even considered. It is in practice "explained away" or relegated to other areas of study such as philosophy, psychology, sociology or political science, which are not considered as to be real or genuine sciences. Politics, for instance, often is also explained away by scientists and engineers who assume that all would be alright if only politicians followed the scientists' recommendations, as denounced in the famous paper by Churchman & Schainblatt The researcher and the manager. A dialectic of implementation and its Commentaries. Concern for climate change, motivated by facile pseudo religious Pantheism sophisticatedly launched in Baruch Spinoza's philosophy, may be an alibi for disregarding more fundamental causes of the "Decline of the West" and outlined in Catholic doctrine. As I did write elsewhere about the sterility of debates, a 15-years old climate activist in the video of her address to the World Economic Forum in January 2019 makes it evident that concern for climate has become as strong as the earlier concern for God's will and wrath, recalling in my mind Chesteron's discussed quote that "A man who won’t believe in God will believe in anything". For instance, in the advertised future capabilities of "technological singularity", or of neologistic "neuralinks".

Climate change and global waming can turn out to be basically a theological question of the deadly sin of greed, and of lacking respect for the natural order of creation as well as for our progeny's or Christianly understood "neighbours'" wellbeing. The latter has been supplanted by our greed for present or short term plundering profit. Facile Pantheism expressed as love for nature or mother Gaia instead of Jesus Christ alleviates today the consciences of lots of irreligious people. They may make profit or consume from polluting industries, driving or flying for tourism or business all over the world, while running and discussing problematic simulations with computer models of world climate, or discussing the possibility of assigning juridical personality status to rivers, and such. All this while they claim to worry for climate change that may affect their grandchildren but ignore present, ongoing massive suffering of neighbours or poors all over the world (illustrated or exemplified by shocking videos and photos). Among other things, what has been ignored is the the number k of estimated number of children that on the average have been dying daily because of starvation and related causes, set against the background of Western polluting plenty, as I point out in a blog insert on climate change and global warming.

 

Theology as the Queen of the Sciences

The mathematician Jan Brouwer that I considered in my essay on Computers as embodied mathematics and logic, awoke for theology when witnessing the environmental problems in his native Holland already at the beginning of the past century. Theology, including Scholasticism, until the late European Enlightenment, was "named 'The Queen of the Sciences' and serving as the capstone to the Trivium and Quadrivium that young men were expected to study. This meant that the other subjects (including Philosophy) existed primarily to help with [sic] theological thought." It is also the case that all this was a training that paved the way for later rigorous scientific thought despite the "myths" about the Galileo affair (more on this below). West Churchman writes (in The Systems Approach and its Enemiesp. 99) that his colleagues liked to argue endlessly as to what should be required courses for our MBAs and that his answer was that he had grave doubts about making any of the existing ones required, but that he had no doubt that what should be required was a basic course in theology. Brouwer understood that the basic problems of science and its applications were not to be found in logic and mathematics but, rather, in theology and religion.

It is interesting to note that so late as year 2016, symptomatically in the African continent where Christianity is thriving, an academic article could bear the title Theology: Still a queen of science in the post-modern eraIt claims that "Theology is just as relevant today as it was in the time of Aquinas who called theology ‘the queen of science’ although the knowledge-driven network society does not seem to be in agreement." The argumentation meets, however, many of the difficulties that I tried to summarize in my text specifically dedicated to Information as debateand the question of the origin or gift of faith covered in the present paper.

 

Censorship of Talk about Religion

I wrote above in the introduction that God and religion is often barred from appearing in mass media and societal discourse. This can be seen as a paradoxical sort of reverse of the Catholic Church's Index Librorum Prohibitorum, a list of publications that Catholics were forbidden to read, or as an analog to the prohibition of Holocaust Denial that in many countries has taken the place of the earlier blasphemy against God himself. Even in a private WhatsApp-group of university colleagues of which I was a member, repudiation of references to God and religion were motivated by supposed dangers that "identitarian" opinions risk to offend people. It all recalls the infected spirit of political correctness. It was done without closer explanations of what identitarian means, except for claiming that it had not anything to do with the equally obscure identitarian movement.

My own hypothesis is that these dangers have more to do with postmodern identity politicsand are experienced by people who do not have a sound psyche with a core for their personality, having instead an individual self-identity anchored, as expressed in analytical psychology, in a weak ego and totally unconscious self. So, they do not join social ideal movements, parties and "-isms" (including the christianism of false conversions!?) so much because of shared values, as because sharing nice or politically correct values makes their ego feel as belonging to a collective "body" or group that bestows value, personal dignity that is social, and (collective political) power, boasting the ego(Just one example for Swedish readers here, from Metro October 25th 2018). 

It is this that allows, for instance, a young woman in her late teens or early twenties, with scanty life experience, to achieve popularity and self-esteem proper for a braggart, by claiming that childish adults' typical schoolyard bickering implies scandalous and dangerous #MeToo abuse. [Swedish readers can see R. Poirier Martinsson in Metro, October 31st 2018, p. 2]. And she starts broadcasting feminist slogans that she has probably absorbed from a disgruntled mother, This may also be the case of the 15-years old schoolgirl Greta Thunberg, displaying autistic behavior that is described as typical also for "indigo children", who could suddenly become a world famous crowd-driven climate-activist, broadcasting climate-panicking slogans inspired by concerned if not disgruntled frightened adults. At the same time a paradox arises when religious voices in the Swedish Church's journal Spira claim that the schoolgirl can be seen as God's prophet, just as decadent trends of feminist theology claim that movement "Metoo is a great Jesus-like stuff". At the same time Swedish readers can witness the related effects of atheism on a nihilistic or pantheistic philosophizing in Scener ur Hjärtat [Scenes out of the Heart] by Thunberg & Ernman (2018 ff., esp. p. 212 ff): that after death we only soullessly "survive" through our imprints on the world's climate. A saddening and depressing message to the young generation. A Swedish newspaper article explains and counters the criticism of this Enrman-Thumberg approach by allegating that such critics are also anti-feminists and anti-immigrants. This suggests deep socio-cultural and therefore also theological roots of the question that I partially survey in other texts of mine on the MeToo and Climate-alarm phenomena.

The individual's identity is then equated to the network of relations to a group of others (say, "-isms" as feminists or climate activists), physical-biological objects, akin to a relationism that tends to turn psychology into sociology where the most favorable and sophisticated interpretation of relationism is, in my understanding, in terms of George Herbert Mead. Since the self is then felt as a function of a group, all questioning of the group and the belonging to the group is felt as an abuse of one own's identity (cf. identitarianism) or (coreless) individuality. The abuse then hooks up to a nebulous "abuse industry" and requires an equally nebulous political correctness, which in our case prohibits questioning of "fanatic-extremist" allegiances to religion (fundamentalism) as much as, say, to ethnicity (racism) or gender (feminism), all relying on the force of "conscience" as arbiter of truth. More on "conscience and truth" below.

In a skilful account of the above mechanism, the by now famous Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson writes in the context of the so-called "Jewish Question" (being later object of debate in another convolute paper):

First, psychologically speaking: why do the reactionary conspiracy theorists even bother? This is a straightforward matter. If you are misguided enough to play identity politics, whether on the left or the right, then you require a victim (in the right-wing case, European culture or some variant) and a perpetrator (Jews). Otherwise you can't play the game (a YouTube video I made explicating the rules can be found here). Once you determine to play, however, you benefit in a number of ways. You can claim responsibility for the accomplishments of your group you feel racially/ethnically akin to without actually having to accomplish anything yourself. That's convenient. You can identify with the hypothetical victimization of that group and feel sorry for yourself and pleased at your compassion simultaneously. Another unearned victory. You simplify your world radically, as well. All the problems you face now have a cause, and a single one, so you can dispense with the unpleasant difficulty of thinking things through in detail. Bonus. Furthermore, and most reprehensibly: you now have someone to hate (and, what's worse, with a good conscience) so your unrecognized resentment and cowardly and incompetent failure to deal with the world forthrightly can find a target, and you can feel morally superior in your consequent persecution(see Germany, Nazi for further evidence and information).

For the rest, censorship of talk about religion reduces it to politics as addressed in the coming nest section of this text, below. More than so, it makes political analysis itself logically impossible. This is shown in a masterly but at the same time bewildering analysis by Ian Buruma of the famous #MeToo-related case of a sexual assault by Jian Ghomeshi (cf. my own analysis of #MeToo) that led Buruma to be fired as editor of the New York Review of Books. Buruma's in my view excellent analysis attemps to keep religion out of the discussion but it pops up when he writes (for readers of these lines: "Intelligenti pauca"):

Considering people who have fallen from grace — again, often for very good reasons — it is hard to avoid using religious language. The way out of moral ignominy is to be redeemed. But redemption has to be earned by confession, self-reflection and apology. This is why people caught in a history of sexual misbehaviour usually issue an apology straight away, sometimes a rather slippery one: “If I have offended anyone . . . ,” etc. I was only an offender by proxy, as it were. [...]

What is true about anti-racism is equally true of movements against sexism or against any other form of hateful prejudice. A change in outward behaviour is not enough. Or, rather, people assume that behaviour will only change once an inner transformation has taken place. I suspect there is a strong Protestant element in this. Public confession is typically a Protestant tradition; Catholics prefer to fess up in the privacy of the confessional.

Analogous to the case of the 15 years old girl mentioned above, is the case of a likewise prodigiously precocious smart young girl with the code-name "Soph" (earlier "Lieutenant Corbis"), displaying what resembles "indigo-traits", who opened her YouTube channel at age 11 and having at age 14 (in April 2019) about 800.000 subscribers, having added up to 15 million views across 39 videos (examples here and here). However, she did not subscribe to identity group politics. Even so, or just therefore, she was hardly criticized with the consequence of having a video deleted from YouTube , and was labeled as belonging to the "alt-righ", "far-right" or "online right", as in the overview in The New Statesman (26 April 2019). In turn this generated supportive counteropinions (example here and here). I think her case illustrates that whenever (pertaining to a) religion is avoided by means of group indentity or by courageous individualism (reacting to paradoxes of "political correctness"), the result is the forced reduction of it all to inconsequential politics in sterile debates, and, as in these cases, to the exploitation of children for political purposes.

 

Reduction of religion to politics

Jordan Peterson himself, mentioned above, shies away from adducing theology in debates, as I remarked in another text of mine dealing with the hopeless issue of debates. It is especially visible in extended videos such as the three hours' Joe Rogan Experience #1208or the one and a half hours' From the Barricades of the Culture Warswhere the the Christian exhortation to balance between justice vs. mercy is framed (at 1:21, 2:20 hours, respectively 1:20 from the beginning) in "rational" terms of rightist vs. leftist political activism. This is equivalent to wrongly believe that one can do away with (talk about) religion. In this sense this is also the risk of misunderstanding and bringing in "natural theology" into cultural discourse, as done in Sweden by jesuitpater Ulf Jonsson (Svenska Dagbladet 15 Jan 2018). In my opinion this wrong belief may become evident by asking what is the difference and relation between Peterson's 12 Rules for Lifethe Ten commandmentsthe Categorical imperativethe Twelve-step Program originated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and the need for PsychotherapiesIt may offer temporary rhetorical "self-help" success but ultimately reinforce sterile debate and criticism against Peterson as happened in Sweden when clergy from the Church of Sweden joined (in Swedish texts) atheists and other critics in massmedia. This is analog to the other Christian (right's) video-attack such Peterson being "an Antichrist false prophet", as if Thomas the Apostle were an AntiChrist false prophet (John 20:24-27).

The deleterious and dangerous effects of shying away from openly adducing religion are displayed in the most violent way in the attacks upon Peterson such as coming from nowhere (or the Left?) such as by a disgruntled former colleague, or from the "Right" in a video published by "Resurrection Europa" on Jan 24, 2019 with the title Jordan Peterson DISMANTLED. (An alternative source at Reddithere.) In the latter Peterson is presented as an anti-nationalist, anti-European, and anti-white, who implements a stratagem combining self-help advice, political ideology, and religion. He is seen (after the video's 12th minute) as in a mindtrap of political ideology disguised in a self-help regime wrapped in religious metaphors. It does not help that he himself denounces that ideologies are essentially fragmented religions (which he does not dare to adduce). He is still seen as pushing his own ideology or radical individualism. The paradox for me is also that, as he himself acknowledges it, he is attacked from both the Right and the Left, from both Jews and anti-semites, and so on, everybody trying to recruit him for his own political purposes. Everything is reduced to socio-political intricacies exemplified in further debates in Quora, including the constructed impossible problem of rightly "understand Marxism". The paradox dissolves, however, when one understands why Jesus Christ did enhance neither race nor nationalism, and why he did found neither a nation nor a political party. Then it becomes clear that what is named radical individualism is only the claim that insight and peace cannot come from the outside of the human being, as forced by politics, police or military power, or its analog such as cruzades, Inquisition or fundamentalist Jihad. It is the coming from a religious conversion by love from the inside, which is wrongly seen as (radical) individualism. As outlined in the encylical letter Caritas in Veritate, all this does not mean that religion is a substitute of politics, but that what is good, right, and necessary does not follow political party lines that, for the rest, are not two-dimensional right-left.

I am convinced that Peterson shies away from theology in debates because of a perceived rhetoric impossibility of mentioning theology in a secular context where religion itself is wrongly considered as socially divisive despite of being an ultimate attempt to talk about and to reconcile ultimate values. This may be the reason of why "Jordan Peterson is More Popular that Most Churches", while it explains also the strong oppositions he meets in traditional Christian-religious quarters who see him as an "Uncertain Prophet" and do not see how he can be seen as, and made into an ally. Nevertheless, Peterson seems to have finally confronted the need of being more explicit about religion, as in a later video of May 2019. There he declares, for instance, after speaking about his dislike for the question "Do you believe in God?", that he thinks that Catholicism is "as sane as people can get.” His option towards Catholicism also clarifies why he does not relate to some Eastern thought or "transrationality" for escape from politics, as some of his critics would expect him to do.

Peterson might also have found a way, like the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous - AA - to talk about a "higher power" that miraculously leads people to God as I know that the AA has done with some alcoholics despite of being cursed by others, militantly atheists. Indeed, in the absence of God, religion tends to be considered as just another group among many. This is so for those who have not and do not want or are not open to the gift of faith (cf. Pascal, above), as for the many who are not able to trust, to love or accept to be loved. This goes along with a misunderstanding of the concept of group as when radical feminism conceives "patriarchal" oppression without ever reflecting upon the possible meaning of patriarchy in the cultural discourse as exemplified by Eric J. Leed's The Mind of the Traveler (pp. 224-225, 246-248).

Awareness of, and respect for censorship of religious discourse opens the door to the remarkable popularity of endless and hopeless "intellectual debates" based on attacks and comments such as exemplified in the English language sphere by texts in the sites of Toronto's Star (by Bernard Schiff, May 25, 2018) and Esquire (by Wesley Yang, May 1, 2018).They become in fact naive attempts to create new lay religions on the basis of new gods such as "Free Speech" or "Democracy", or to spoil the old ones with the fanatism of false conversions, when not creating more or less murderous or intellectually crippling political ideologies. Recent examples are those prophetized by lay pessimistic or optimistic Jesus-like characters such as Dan Ariely and Yuval Harari, professors of behavioral economics, respectively history. A substantial and intellectually sophisticated alternative is Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheistswhich builds upon utilitarian Nietzschean-Heideggerian suggestions that art, literature, architecture and music be substitutes for religion. Such lay approaches, less or more sophisticated, should be contrasted to sincerely deepgoing and passionate search for truth in authors with remarkable works, such as Fyodor DostoevskyPär Lagerkvist, and Simone Weil, each one in his sphere of influence. The fact is in my modest range of knowledge I have not seen any intellectual analysis concluding that they went wrong in their desperate and genuine search for truth in faith and Christianity. 

Regarding the above mentioned secular "gods" of Free Speech and Democracy, they correspond in practice to Peterson's rhetorical reduction of religion to a sort of dialectical balancing act between political Right and Left. Their resurrection is divulgated in a pedagogical video by Claire Lehmann as related to her journalistic-academic site Quillette. Lehmann, who is understandably sympathized in a video by Peterson, summarizes in another video (minutes 09:50 ff.) what in my view has become a problematic rhetorical "political religion". As conceived by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning in the book The Rise of Victimhood Culture(to be contrasted with the book Criticism of the negative edification mentioned later in this text of mine), it is framed in terms of "mistake theorists" vs. "conflict theorists", that is, academic liberalism vs. marxism. 

On the track of historical figures such as Juan Donoso Cortés, and Alexis de Tocqueville, the Swedish political scientist Tage Lindbom with both Christian and Muslim sentiments he expressed in many books, had already compared and denounced the historical roots or failed political theories in his The Myth of Democracy (1996, esp. pp. 38ff., 92ff.) Such roots are seen as theologically, ethically, and practically corrupt, not because of the devout idea of a godly democracy but because of its failed prerequisites such as morality, education and communication. (Related to The City of God?) This reinstates the importance of religion for those who are open to Christianity and the message of the world's great religions, well beyond criticism directed against Peterson from both "the Right" and the "the Left", reminding why for instance Jesus Christ did not found a political party (or terrorist organization) for liberation from the oppressive Roman empire. There lies also the reason for the crises of (the modern god of) democracy and its paradoxes of free speech. It is a lack of basic universal values, which are not the same as the invented human rights, supposedly "sanctified" or legitimized by the United Nations.

 

Explaining Away Traditions and Religion

Among what is nowadays explained away is the meaning and importance of traditions that include religion. As I explain in another context with reference to "Chesterston's fence", there should be "the principle that reforms should not be made until the reasoning behind the existing state of affairs is understood." It is symptomatic that traditions today are also explained away in the name of enlightened modernity. A common present example is the feministic reform of life "roles" of men and women and its relation to the so-called #MeToo campaigns about which I have written in another context. "Traditions are solutions to forgotten problems. Remove the tradition and the problem returns." The return of the forgotten problem is often misunderstood as a "side effect", but it is rather an oversight inherent in what today is narrowly understood as science, as explained in my overview of mathematization of science as framed by Jan Brouwer.

One effect of explaining away religion is that ethical questions become the concern of only political power and its police surveillance or, ultimately, war such as the war against evil Nazism in the second world war, which is depicted as having been exclusively ethically motivated. Swedish readers can ponder the issue in a remarkable book by Tage Lindbom Fallet Tyskland [The Case of Germany, Norma, 1988, ISBN 91 85846 92 9] with a very informative international reference list (pp. 219-223) highlighting among others David Calleo's The German Problem Reconsidered, 1978. Few consider that ethics must start from the individual and from an educated conscience (see below). Few ask themselves how it comes that Jesus did not found a political party or worked for a revolution or ultimately sheer war against the cruelty and debauchery in the Roman empire.

Another apparition of the explaining away (or self-censorship or trivializing) of religion is that its place is taken over - it is substituted by aesthetics, art and whas has become a modern buzzword in the Western world - not the least in academia: "Design". This operation of substitution has a long and intricate history in the West's intellectual history, as intricate as theology, culminating in philosophy with the super-intellectualization of Immanuel Kant's three "Critiques", especially the third one, Critique of JudgmentThe intricacies are, however, overwhelming as evidenced by e.g. Christopher Norris' book What's Wrong with Postmodernism (esp. pp. 208-220, 266-279). Since Kant's philosophy is extremely intricated, it is also insidious because, if the normal reader succeeds in understanding it, he will be also endangered to be necessarily convinced, the rescue being to, rather, begin to study the most famous critics of Kant. An unfortunate alternative, face-to-face the inability to understand the problem, is illustrated by a typical attempt to justify "design" by submerging the terms in a patchwork of catchwords such as responsibility, accountability, justness, goodness, fairness, rectitude, virtue, ingeniousness, creativity, care or, (why not? generally,) ethics and aesthetics themselves. But: symptomatically there is no mention of conscience

The example of this submersion or trivializing is offered in a book with a promising, compelling subtitle, The Design Way: Intentional Change in an Unpredictable World(2012), akin to an early manuscript I already had reviewed in 2001. In chapter 13 dedicated to "The Guarantor-of-Design (g.o.d.)" (pp. 201-212), the authors borrow this acronym GOD from Churchman's book The Design of Inquiring Systems (p. 21ff.) where he uses it as "guarantor of destiny" in order to introduce theological perspectives beginning in questions of simplicity and truth, with reference to historical thinkers such as Descartes and Spinoza. Instead of dwelling on such questions that are expanded by Churchman in the later book The Systems Approach and its Enemies with specific references (pp. 127, 179, 212, 214) to the guarantor, religion and the New Testament such as Matthew and Paul, the Design Way kidnaps the acronym by using it "aesthetically" as guarantor of design. The whole is then submerged into a number of rhetorically powerful, attractive statements, and attractive but unanswered questions, while theology is explained away. At the same time the designer - prospective reader of the book - is not supposed to be "inspired" (by God or any "god") but is symptomatically flattered as a divine world-creator, with the following statements and questions: 

"Design is an act of world creation. As such it can be experienced both as inspiring and intimidating. As a world creator, a designer can be overwhelmed by questions such as: Do I have the right to cause such significant change in the world? What is the right approach to take when making such changes? What kind of changes are good, or just, and for whom? As a designer, am I fully responsible and accountable for my designs and to whom? Can I be relieved of responsibility in some way? If not, how can I prepare for this responsibility and..."

 

Theology Without God: Heidegger, Autopoiesis, Evolution

Explaining away religion has also other curious effects. Among them is the probably unconsciously perceived need of a theology without God. This is what can contribute to explain the later decades' increasing popularity of the philosopher Martin Heidegger, not only in Europe but also in the Anglo-American headquarters of logical positivism and pragmatism. The expression as quoted by John Macquarrie in his book Heidegger and Christianity (p.6) and coined by the former student of Heidegger Karl Löwith is that Heidegger's philosophy "is in its very essence a theology without God". This would explain Heidegger's enormous success in an academia that senses the need of a theology that is neutrally irreligious and therefore not ethically compelling. This is consistent with the wavering conception of ethics in Heidegger, as I did consider in my article on Ethics in Technology. A similar attempt of what has been called (in Wikipedia) a "desolate theology" analog to theology without God is so called autopoiesis or interpretations of evolution, which provoke while being immune to "heroical" attempts to argumentation. Such attempts appear regularly in academia and in literature, often divorced from historical and philosophical context. A late example is Douglas Hofstadter's in Gödel, Escher, Bach, further elaborated in his book I Am a Strange Loop, published in 2007, and illustrated in a video You are a strange loop. A further example is Marcelo Gleiser's video Meaning in a silent universe. I find that, if anything, they are documents of the atheistic desperate need of, and attempt to find a god despite of negating it, while benefitting of the mysticism inherent in the history of the Eternal Return even if it does not relate to it.

Evolution is an immense chapter of a theology without God, and is related to the question of materialism or biologism. I will limit my consideration to an illustrative example - a conversation or debate between the atheist writer, lecturer and broadcaster Susan Blackmore and psychologist Jordan Peterson, as expounded in the video of their meeting discussing "Do we need God to make sense of life?". In this video Blackmore returns to the fact that she feels in life a "gratitude" that is not directed to an entity but is "free-floating". She also observes that parts of the USA which are the poorest or, in general, the most dysfunctional societies also are the most believing, while the most organized and with the best welfare like Scandinavian countries do well being highly secularized. Peterson's response is summarized in the expression that Western wellbeing is the resting result of Judeo-Christian heritage and that we still "live on the corpses of our ancestors". The superficiality of Blackmore's initial observation ignores, however, basic psychological realities and principles of experimental method, like difference between correlation and causation. It ignores, for instance, that material wellbeing makes people think that they can dispense with God, and the other way around, hardship and tragedy fosters hope and a return to religion. All this is related to the essence of love and friendship, as also implied by the Aristotelian Nicomachean ethics (Book 8) and classification of difference between true friendship based on goodness, and friendship based on reciprocal utility or pleasure.

Explaining away religion has also less perceived psychological effects in personal relationships such as in marriage or (today) "partnership" and, in a larger scale, in social relations increasingly characterized by aggression and political polarization. In the Christian conception man and woman are supposed to be united helping each other to divine God's intention for their lives and fulfill His Commandments. In the absence of this task it can happen that man or woman come to expect that the partner (at the social scale, political leaders) will fulfill all their divine expectations summarized in a "personal happiness". A supposedly faultless person will dismiss the partner for not satisfying the own inflated ego or, in the rare case of reciprocal kindness, for "incompatibility" of character or personality, whatever those words mean. The results are divorce, serial monogamy, polyamory or, in short, promiscuity redefining the meaning of love and agape, possibly equated with horny arousal. Stable marriage commitment, which stood at the basis of family and society, and the consequent individual development of the two contrahents and their progeny, have been explained away by redefining love as sexual instinct, sublimated or not. All this while ignoring the reason for what at every instant happens in bedrooms all over the world, and appears to mean much more than natural animal sexual instinct or evolutionary reproduction.

 

Ego Inflation

The explaining away of religion and its reduction to politics of power games is consistent with what has been called "Ego inflation", which in popular language is associated with sheer braggart egoism, "Me is number one" and "either I know or I know who knows", ignoring the immense problem of our necessary dependence upon the knowledge of other contemporaries and dead (Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth.) Billions of other humans are then supposed to be just stupid or simply prejudiced, also because they have not frequented some years' of "higher" education, like engineers who learn to utilize logically related formulas conceived by others. As a matter of fact many of them can be seen as intellectual scavengers who feast and profit upon the conquest of forefathers who conquered pure theoretical knowledge by taking stand in theological wars. And profit is one main driving force of technology today, motivating scientists and intellectuals as e.g. Christer Sanne in his dissertation Arbetets Tid [Working hours in the age of work, ISBN 91 7798 949 X, English summary pp. 275-283] to discover that the claimed time savings thanks to technology are often an illusion because they are matched, among others, by greed (a "mortal sin") disguised in politics and changing conceptions of the relation between needs and demand. They lead the author to studies of sustainability

What should be - but is not - evident is that often "I do not know that I do not know", i.e. that I do not know my own limitations. This may ultimately and paradoxically lead to inflationary faith in science as a substitute for God, with a scientism that under the guide of unconscious contents ends paradoxically in pseudoscience. The latter is then attempted to be countered by organizations like Skeptical Science. By negating and ignoring structure and possible functions of insanity caused by hidden effective and therefore legitimate psychological influences it opens the door to further absurd irruptions of unconscious content into the intellect. This becomes quackery if not outright addiction to one of the greatest quackeries that is gambling or unconscious defiance of chance that others, confidently and apparently in a naive mood, prefer to call God's will, where God has been immensely more discussed than chance. See, however, Kristiina Savin's Swedish dissertation Fortunas Klädnader, [Fortuna's Robes], with an abstract and summary in English, p. 383-388, where it is mentioned, p. 375, that God's will has been substituted by Force Majeure. About related scientific-statistical misunderstandings of the concept of probability, se C.W. Churchman, Prediction and Optimal Decision.(especially chap. 6 on objective probability, pp.137-173).

I guess that ego inflation can also go along with extreme gifted analytical-logical ability that is not sufficiently balanced by feeling and intuition for becoming then a grace of rational faith. If not balanced, such sheer ability lures people into paranoia of political conspiracy theories or sheer fanatism of theological disputes. If people's illegitimate oversized ego is finally overpowered by the ignored unconscious dimensions of the psyche they begin to identify themselves with political world saviours who unravel intrigues of conspiracies, or in the best case identify themselves with saints, or Biblical figures, or as a dissenting pope.

 

Religion as Opium for the People

In politics a psychoanalyst could recognize similar psycho-social mechanisms mentioned above in the paradox of the famous quote from Karl Marx that religion is "the opium for the people". In the meantime he was passing over to the people what many regard as the quackery of Marxism itself, a sort of countertransference between Marx and the personified "people". Quackery, as also follows from cursory reading Jung's work and its detractors, is then the result of unconscious repression of important dimensions of thought that are not allowed in a narrow doctrinaire materialistic science, in scientism. This is what also allows the reading of Marx to turn into "perverted Christianity", which claims to redeem the oppressed weak and poor of the world, turning into the socialism and communism of Stalin and Mao Zedong, as well as into the controversial goodness of unrestricted welcoming of economic migrants.

Quackery may result from a misunderstood too facile scientism and concomitant "skepticism" by the establishment, as shown by Pascal in his Pensées, and as noted in the particular edition of the book introduced by Émile Faguet, (p. vii). Faguet comments there that Pascal relies on skepticism in order to demonstrate the necessity of faith. Faguet also cites the non-orthodox philosopher and historian Ernest Renan: that religion has no proof other than skepticism itself, which makes algo agnosticism invalid; religion proves the necessity of faith by means of the impossibility of believing in nothing. One could add: "in nothing except in a paradoxically and supposedly godly and undefined human Reason", to be written with capital R, a reason that Pascal explores, and which requires what Churchman (in The Design of Inquiring Systems) calls a "guarantor". 

This reminds of G.K. Chesterton's famous and hardly understood quotation mentioned earlier: "A man who won’t believe in God will believe in anything." This is apparent in the visionary predictions by the popular theoretical physicist, futurist, and popular science communicator Michio Kaku, as well as by the apparent polymath Mark Tegmark who (in Wikipedia, accessed 3 August 2018) formulates the "Ultimate ensemble theory of everything" or the "mathematical universe hypothesis" that may be seen as a naive version of (a computer-oriented) mathesis universalis including phantasies on the future of artificial intelligence and technological singularity. They are phantasies that are phantastically and schizophrenically summarized in the quagmire of a bankrupt of analytical philosophy, caused by a misundertanding of logic and mathematics in the context of scientific methododology, as in a book on Superintelligence.

 

"Myths" of Artificial Intelligence

The explaining away of religion and Chesterton's "believing in anything" also opens the way for believing in the future interaction with other planetary worlds in outer space, and in artificial intelligence, AI, computers with self-consciousness, whatever it is, will overpower the human mind, or that AI-robots should have human rights, or that we will ultimately create the superintelligent robotical paradise on Earth, or whatever wherever. Or believing in discussions about, say - machine consciousness and machine ethics ending in so called technological singularity. All this without the possibility of "debating" the matter because of myriads of misunderstandings arising in part from faulty difficult definitions and presuppositions, to begin with about the meaning of intelligence. 

This phenomenon of misunderstandings and phantasies about AI is revealed and in a sense also "solved" in all its complexity by what I regard as a fundamental work by West Churchman by the time we elders met the first wave of hype-enthusiasm about AI in the seventies. It was The Design of Inquiring Systems: Basic Concepts of Systems and Organization that I myself tried to expand and facilitate the reading of, by means of a Word and Issue Indexfollowed by a sort of contextual evaluation in The Systems Approach to Design and Inquiring Information Systems.

I think that with this kind of understanding it is not anymore a question of whether AI in its many forms will be applied in modern society. It is rather a question of forecasting the consequences and the possibilities of counteracting the dangerous ones, becoming a problem that I considered in my Trends in Philosophy of Technology, and ultimately a theological problem that motivates the present text. The difficulties will be enormous, not only because the academic devaluation of theology, and even philosophy in technical and political context. Even when a professor of computer science warns about overconfidence in AI in Swedish massmedia (Dagens Nyheter, October 7th 2018), he relies upon exhortations for the need to be conscious about the system's limitations. The warnings are based upon appeals to understand and to be consciousthat we are still far from creating (an undefined) intelligence at a human level with the ability to feel and reason, evaluate, make moral evaluations and explain what it is doing and planning to do. All italicized concepts remain undefined, presupposing political, philosophical and theological competence, understanding why we are not "still" far from "creating" artificial life and paradise on earth, understanding the why of not to "believe in anything".

Even a most sophisticated Italian mathematician, Paolo Zellini, who dedicated much of his life writing about the philosophy of mathematics including computer science, concludes his work with a rather inconsequential book, so far only in Italian language, that vaguely warns about the Dictatorship of calculusHis barely outspoken warnings are supported by reference to the extremely explicit ones by the more popular sort of polymath Jaron Lanier. Lanier's limitations appear most clearly when he introduces also provocative thoughts on virtual-reality that challenge earlier elaborate condemnation by others as being deleterious gnosticism in computer science. Despite positive ambitious reviews, Zellini's neglect of theology, particularly of Christianity, leads him to miss the most relevant historical aspects of the contribution by Jan Brouwer to the understanding of the problems considered here. 

 

To Believe and to Know

Religion and theological reasoning, as I already treated in the essay on "debate", is also evaded by just going around and asking too easy questions requiring too difficult answers on whether people "believe" in the "existence" of "God". I witnessed an extreme example of this in a radio program where several adults entertained themselves and uncritical listeners by asking a number of children such questions, stopping short only from also asking who or what God is, which would require millenary critical review of the Bible. In doing this they avoided to understand and define what it means to believe, as related for instance to have faith, or to define what is the meaning of existence. Not to mention the meaning or definition of definition (R.L. Ackoff, Scientific Methodpp.141-176), which is not for us to discuss in its contrast to amplification. In short, they avoided to modestly acknowledge their own ignorance or to courageously stand for their knowledge or belief. And they did so at the cost of transferring responsibility to embarrassed cute children. The famous German philosopher and university professor Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1815), for instance, defended himself from the serious official accusation of atheism in an elaborate text, Fichte, Querelle de l'Athéisme [The Atheism Dispute, French translation,pp. 199-213]. Among other things he discusses whether a non-material entity could be said to "exist" as it is properly said of material bodies, but ultimately he lost his position at the university. I would extend the problem to include the problem of the meaning of "to know" (who and how knows whether we know?), and about about the "existence" of "heaven" and "hell". Regarding the meaning of "to know" or "intelligence", the whole book by West Churchman - The Design of Inquiring Systemsshows the often ignored complexity of the scientific and philosophical issue. And such issues are, furthermore, illustrated scientifically by theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli's work in "loop quantum gravity" (and relational interpretation of quantum mechanics), as expounded in his popular book The Order of Time (chap. 3,7,8) where he explains the difficulties of the concept of "existence" in the context of time and space. What he does not yet suspect are the implications of defective application of overvalued mathematics and logic to modern, "front line extreme physics", as suggested by and considered in the conclusions of my previously mentioned article on the subject.

Similarly Carl Jung is known for his famous statement in an interview in BBC "I don't need to believe, I know" upon a question on whether he believed in God. The subsequent discussions were considered further by Jung himself, in his published Letters, (Vol. II, Ed. Gerhard Adler, 1975, 1953, letter to Valentine Brooke, pp. 520-523). In his Collected Works (CW 11, p. 44, §79) Jung tries to explain in (too) simple terms this complex matter: "I believe only what I know. Everything else is hypothesis and beyond that I can leave a lot of things to the Unknown. They do not bother me. But they would begin to bother me, I am sure, if I felt that I ought to know about them." Similar approaches to this issues were presented in my essay Belief and Reason (pdf, 1993, Internet Archive here).  Peter Kreeft, a critic of Immanuel Kant's philosophy seen as one of "the pillars of unbelief", expresses himself in the following terse way: "If I were God, I would favor an honest atheist over a dishonest theist, and Kant is to my mind a dishonest theist, because there is only one honest reason for believing anything: because it is true."

Jordan Peterson, whom I referred to in the earlier question of identity politics, revives this question in one of several videosabout whether he believes in God. Besides all this, from the coarser point of view of Pragmatism represented by William James, most of us agree that sheer belief or faith in God can influence humans' acting in life. Faith in God has effects, it is "effective", as religion is effective as consolation and encouragement in times of affliction. Effectiveness can be seen as a proof. It is "as if" God exists (but compare with the as-if dilemma in Kantian philosophy), whatever existence means when people cannot or do not want to dwell on philosophy, psychology and theology. Even those deterministic materialists who do not believe in free will, and boast that they can prove it by means of deterministic physics, concede that the penal code must be designed "as if" is truly free in order for the code to have effect, be effective. The question arises of why, then, claim that it is "not true" or that it is not free, without plunging into a millenary philosophical quest of what is truth and freedom, if one cannot motivate the rejection of the pragmatist philosophy of "As if"

Regarding the claim that something is "not true" one can also wonder why people appreciate fiction books and theater plays that convey true messages about the truths of life or of the human psyche. And not only that: they can repeatedly read or go to the theater to see and listen, appreciating and trying to digest the dramas despite of already knowing them, despite of knowing that they are "only fiction" or "myth", as many claim that the story of Jesus Christ is. I know of only a few to have dared to elaborate this question in relation to Christian theology. Franz von Baader is one who dared, as expounded by J. Glenn Friesen in a paper on Baader's typically convolute essay (1833) Concerning the conflict of religious faith and knowledge as the spiritual root of the decline of religious and political society in our time and every time" (sic!) [Über den Zwiespalt des Religiösen Glaubens under Wissens als die geistige Wurzel des Verfalls der religiösen und politischen Societät in unserer wie in jeder Zeit]. I refer to the link above because this is not the place for extending this issue. For more details, please see especially the paragraph (and the following one) starting with:

"We have asserted an almost universally present lack of clarity about the relation of faith to knowledge among philosophers and theologians. If this assertion is doubted, then one need only consider that these philosophers and theologians have certainly been able to say a lot to us about the relation of believing to knowing, but less of the relation of believing to willing [...]."

And just as one cannot move freely without touching the ground, and cannot touch the ground without free movement, so one cannot use reason [Vernunft] without being free to believe, and cannot believe without making use of his reason. From this follows that everywhere that faith and knowledge [Wissen] appear to conflict with or to retard each other, it is really only one belief that is fighting with another belief if a person has already used, and has had to use his knowing ('raison') as a weapon to defend or to attack this other belief.

And this is illustrated by the case, as I remember and interpreted it, of an atheistic engineer I met, who had concluded that there is no free will. I recommended him to read the above mentioned essay because of its possible relevance despite of knowing that he had refused to debate whenever he did not have the same background knowledge as his counterpart. He answered only that he did not judge the essay relevant because (1) He is materialist and therefore he does not believe in God - or the other way round. (2) For a materialist free will is, in its basic meaning, logically impossible. Disregarding my intuition that the first item was a naive tautology, and disregarding my own conclusions on the futility of debates on such complexities, I answered that I think that he simply only believes in both materialism and logic (the power of matter and of logic). This recalls to my mind a curious quotation found in Eric J. Leed's The Mind of the Traveler (p. 107): "[...] they that have seen little believe not much, whereas they that have seen much believe the more".

 

Miracles, Myth, Reality and Truth

Something similar to the above can be said about supernatural events or miracles that are narrated in the Bible. To begin with, if God intervenes with miracles, it appears to me as obvious that they must be exceptionally rare, as much rare as encounters with God himself, whose impact would be disruptive for the very limited human psyche as overpowering passions are. They would be disruptive even for the human reliance upon the capability to deal daily with the physical world. 

Besides that, it is not clear what is reality is if it is not artificially limited to scientistic physical reality. This is may also suggested by reflecting upon the relation between reality and truth. In order to differentiate between myth, reality, and truth it is indeed necessary to understand what myth is, when it is not as often today in popular language, equated to falsity or lie. Myth is, instead, what has historically been studied as one part of the relation between Mythos, Eros and Logossomething that lives today in remnants such as the web site mythoslogos as well as in the theory and practice of analytical psychology. The complexity and confusion of the matter can be inferred from such encyclopedic accounts like the Christ Myth Theoryenough for an understanding that there is much that is not understood, as little understood as what is "to believe" vs. "to know". To all this can be added that the accounts of all historically famous personalities with great impact are in different degrees wrapped and disguised by later myths where it becomes practically impossible to remount to simple personally observable events, if one only knew what a (true or real) observation is or should be. Sallustius is quoted being the source of the famous Myths are things which never happened, but always are. Or, as found among his quotes:

One may call the world a myth, in which bodies and things are visible, but souls and minds hidden. Besides, to wish to teach the whole truth about the Gods to all produces contempt in the foolish, because they cannot understand, and lack of zeal in the good, whereas to conceal the truth by myths prevents the contempt of the foolish, and compels the good to practice philosophy.[...] 

Now these things never happened, but always are. And mind sees all things at once, but reason (or speech) expresses some first and others after. Thus, as the myth is in accord with the cosmos, we for that reason keep a festival imitating the cosmos, for how could we attain higher order? [...] A number of sources paraphrase the first sentence [...] as "Myths are things which never happened, but always are."

A masterly description of what can be understood as mythic, considering that Carl Jung's exposition in his Collected Works is too complex for the casual reader, is found in Eric J. Leed's rendering (in The Mind of the Traveler, p. 138 and 148). Leed refers to the tourists' occasional "feeling of immensity" and meaning, which recalls the Kantian concept of "sublime" and many historical experiences of the divinely meaningful as already explained in analytical psychology:

The frisson of the tourist, often reported by travelers encountering an emplaced cultural icon for the first time, might be seen as an experience of meaning, a sudden coherence felt between the fictive and the real, the imagined and the actual. Marking the conjucture of dreamed, unconscious landscapes with an observed reality in present time, it is an experience of the continuities of time and space that underlie the contiguities of eras and constructed boundaries.[...]

[M]ythicization of landscape testifies to the importance of text in the creation of meaningful topography and to the fact that myth and fable are both instruments in the creation of a meaningful world, as well as conditions for actual and authentic experience.


Requests for Proof as requests for Power

When discussing the question of existence and its relation to love and agape mentioned earlier it is convenient to consider also humans' requirement that God should give (us the capability of constructing?) "proofs" of its "existence" or "power" or allow himself to be "tested" in a "trial". This disregards the philosophical problem of "existence" (see above) and also disregards the fact that Christian religion can be seen as differing from e.g. Islam in that it gives priority to love over power. This is particularly interesting when noting that feminism is often based upon the reference to, and the request for power. Referring once again to the same book by Fichte as above, in one of the appendixes of the book dealing with Sur les Intentions de la Mort de Jésus [On the Intentions of Jesus' Death, pp. 195-216] the author explains why Jesus is seen to be supposed to die in order to fulfill the Christian message, relinquishing the recourse to power. 

Conversion motivated by power does not square with Christianity. Jesus did not found a political party or a terrorist organization (cf. my blog entry on terrorism) in order to overthrow the Roman empire, as it has been historically expected of a Jewish Messiah. A "proof" would also imply a display of power instead of love, despite the rhetorical differentiation between the force of argument and argument of force. The interesting thing is that proofs do not appear to be valid or relevant not even regarding love between humans. The lover who hopes to entice the loved one as humans who desire God' attention and love will not start by requiring the loved one to give proofs of being worthy to be loved, since loveliness cannot be empirically or logically verified. Who is the God to be loved? The answer is: understand and feel the sacred books, the Bible, which is the most discussed, challenged and tested text of at least the Western world. Most genuinely faithful Christians and others learn to love God by being passionatedly moved to love by the tales in the sacred books where apparent grimness, harshness, hardheartedness and strictness, describe humanity's progressive understanding of a loving God. 

The lover who hopes to conquer the loved one will modestly pass a "proof" of himself by offering or sacrificing something valuable in the hope to entice. The lover will not offer a supposedly rational rebuttal to an "atheist" who questions his (her) love by claiming that the chosen object of love may be not worthy because of untrustworthiness, ultimate ugliness, or stupidity. For some (problematic) food for thought, see the psychoanalytic vs. Jungian views about "regression in the service of the ego". So it will also be when a subordinate wishes to awake the attention of a manager or master. Somebody looking for or hoping to employed at a company, as a human who hopes for God's love and attention, will not go to the manager requiring proofs that the manager is proficient and that the company is deserving his contribution when it is his own responsibility to investigate and understand that. On the contrary, the candidate will prepare himself fulfilling the beloved's expectations, hoping for the best. If not, the project will doomed to failure from the very beginning, and the initial mistrust will turn out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. The ultimate cause of it all is related to "Ego inflation" (cf. above and below).

 

From Science to Philosophy, to Religion

But there is still more to it. I think that religions in general and Christianity in particular, beyond the definitions of religion itself, can be seen as resumes or systematization of personal experiences, including commonalities in tacit knowledge. They can be seen as "languages" for exposition and discussion of ultimate basic values and key words or images of a culture. Often, unconsciously for most people, they stay at the base of the intellectual and moral systems that sustain the remaining ordinary language and mutual understanding, notwithstanding love. This may paradoxically explain if not justify the fundamental causes of conflicts and wars as they rely on the possibility of communication. If husband and wife must divorce or combat each other, if they cannot communicate with each other, the same with or among children and relatives, how and why should strangers, groups and nations be able to avoid murder and the tragedies of wars?

Religions may and should be seen as standing at the basis or as being the presuppositions of philosophy. In this context I was struck by an affirmation found in Prolegomena till Arya Metafysik [Prolegomena to Arya Metaphysics, Norstedt & Söner, 1917] by Sri Ananda Acharya and introduced as "public lectures held over epistemological, ontological and cosmological theories of ancient Hindu in India", in front of an international auditorium at Stokholm's College (later University) aula during the academic year 1915-1916. On page 242 in introducing empirical psychology (as announced in the table of contents, p. XII) he writes the same I perceived in my readings, that "where science ends, philosophy begins, and where philosophy ends, religion begins." Considering that psychology arised out of philosophy this quotation has a meaning in common with that of the pioneer of quantum physics Werner Heisenberg. He expressed his interest in the relation between science and religionespecially in his book Across the Frontierschapter "Scientific and religious truth" (pp. 213-229), and in his quote from Quirks of the Quantum Mind, p. 175:

Of course, we all know that our own reality depends on the structure of our consciousness; we can objectify no more than a small part of our world. But even when we try to probe into the subjective realm, we cannot ignore the central order…In the final analysis, the central order, or 'the one' as it used to be called and with which we commune in the language of religion, must win out. 

We in the West have to walk this path if and when we feel that science does not reach beyond certain limits, as it may or should be the case of hate, war, environmental pollution, climate change, and sustainability. If we try to walk the bridge from science to philosophy we are swamped by a perceived multiplicity and confusion of numerous philosophers and schools. We may, however, get help if we recall the difficult meaning of a famous quote by the mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, that

"The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." 

And Plato himself is thought to have, in a way, intuitively announced an image of Jesus Christ in his second book of the Republic, section 361e. He writes there, most famously, about what I understand as a hypothetical or archetypal perfect man who exceptionally would stand above the law (something that Socrates would not do, motivating his famous suicide), becoming he himself the law:

"... the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified ..."

In fact, one cannot speak of Western thought's ground in Plato's (and Aristotle's?) philosophy without considering the decisive complement by the Bible and Jesus Christ, together with their integration with Greek philosophy achieved by Thomas Aquinas. This is disregarding modern thinkers who have the ambition of being modern light variants of or digressions from Thomas Aquinas' ideals, such as Franz von Baader, Johann Georg Hamann, Antonio Rosmini, Bernard Lonergran, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Eric Voegelin, Pietro Ubaldi or Joseph Ratzinger himself - former cardinal and later pope Benedict XVI, writing about Conscience and Truth. The latter is today most relevant to scientists and fundamentalists who explicitly or implicitly claim to follow their own (or the "users'?) conscience in their work. Then the earlier "footnotes to Plato" can be supplanted by "footnotes to Plato and the Bible" and perhaps to the encyclicals. This is not to say that, for instance, Plato, Aquinas and others cannot be criticized and explained away, but that it is necessary to understand and take stance in all these matters before one condemns the basic value of religion in the name of modernity, postmodernity, poststructuralism, reason, science, spiritualism or whatever. At the time I thought it was fun that the father of my best friend in youth, perceiving that we youngsters were growing into atheism, admonished him to not let himself go into it before reading and understanding Aquinas' Summa Theologica.

 

Dealing Modestly with the Unknown - Deflated Ego

Besides all this one can see religion as a need for a way to deal with what we do not know and cannot have faith (belief?) that it can be known or will ever be known, while we must live and act upon this premise. For pedagogical purposes one can compare this situation with that of wanting and claiming to marry and promise to love for the rest of one's life someone who obviously is (still?) "unknown". In particular we do not know to which extent reason and the will (that we do not seem to know what they are) can harness instincts or the "unconscious". Cf. the by now famous movement #MeTooIn fact the philosophical concept of "the unconscious" can be seen as an expression of this need. In atheism, however, there is the hidden assumption, faith or belief that we either know, or that rationally we must believe that it is question of time for knowing progressively more and more, and will asymptotically reach a godly knowledge that either will make us gods or prove that gods do not "exist". I did already mention in another paper that the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Nobel prize winner and also pioneer of quantum physics is quoted as having expressed about his atheist colleague Paul Dirac that the latter's guiding principle was "There is no God and Paul Dirac is His prophet". Psychologically such godly identification that I also showed is found in top mathematicians, amounts to what I also mention on several occasions, namely "ego inflation". At its extreme it is depicted and discussed by Carl Jung in e.g. his "Phenomena resulting from the assimilation of the unconscious" (Collected Works, CW vol. 7, p. 139ff, §221 ff.) 

I find that this problem of ego inflation is correlate to the incapability of relativize oneself, to see oneself from the outside, to see that our observations can themselves be observed. For instance, in a secular country youngsters in general and young or middle aged scientists learn quite early to claim that elders gradually think more and more about the afterlife and religion because of the fear of impending death. Nevertheless, it may also be the other way round if the observers are observed: younger people allow themselves to not think about it all because of their estimated distance to death. It makes them feel immortal, or they feel that they can postpone the question indefinitely. Elders may know this because they have been young but not the other way round. This is often ignored by boiling down convictions to the conviction the one is following one's own conscience, whatever it is or should be, while ignoring the ultimate meaning of Conscience and Truthmentioned above.

In other words: it is a matter of really understanding that one's counterpart may know things we do not know and is really convinced that our judgment is wrong, in the same way and to the same extent as we are convinced that his is. Such ignorance of others also lays at the basis of autistic behavior. In other words, the observer is observed and can be perceived in all its smallness and ignorance. In sytems theory for The Design of Inquiring Systems this corresponds to so called Hegelian inquiring systems (esp. pp. 153-159, with applications to the Internet), while atheist technicians-scientists seem to base themselves in Leibnizian-Lockean and misunderstood Singerian inquiring systems (chaps. 2,5,9). In psychology it leads to the insight that "a man can know even less about God than an ant can know about the contents of the British Museum" (quote from C.G. Jung, CW7, p. 235n, §394n.) In this context I acknowledge that I am "critical" Hegelian, or "Churchmaniac" or "Jungian", something that Churchman and Jung themselves warned against. Or, as Jung himself expresses it in The Nature of the Psyche (Collected Works, CW 8, p. 169f. §357-360):

"All the same, every science is a function of the psyche, and all knowledge is rooted in it. The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the sine qua non of the world as an object. It is in the highest degree odd that Western man [...] apparently pays so little regard to this fact. Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming non-existence. [...] 

With the discovery of a possible unconscious psychic realm [...] the validity of conscious knowledge was questioned in an altogether different and more menacing way than it had ever been by the procedures of epistemology. The latter put certain bounds to human knowledge in general, from which post-Kantian German Idealism struggled to emancipate itself: but natural science and common sense accommodated themselves to it without much difficulty, if they condescended to notice it at all. Philosophy fought against it in the interest of an antiquated pretension of the human mind to be able to pull itself up by its own bootstraps and know things that were outside the range of human understanding. The victory of Hegel over Kant dealt the gravest blow to reason and to the further development of the German and, ultimately, of the European mind, all the the more dangerous as Hegel was a psychologist in disguise who projected great truths out of the subjective sphere into a cosmos he himself had created. [...] The forces compensating this calamitous development personified themselves in the later Schelling, partly in Schopenhauer and Carus, while on the other hand that unbridled 'Bacchantic God' whom Hegel had already scented in nature finally burst upon us in Nietzsche. [...] 

A philosophy like Hegel's is a self-revelation of the psychic background and, philosophically, a presumption. Psychologically, it amounts to an invasion by the unconscious. The peculiar high-flown language Hegel uses bears out this view: it is reminiscent of the megalomanic language of schizophrenics, who use terrific spellbinding words to reduce the transcendent to subjective form, to give banalities the charm of novelty, or pass off commonplaces as searching wisdom. So bombastic a terminology is a symptom of weakness, ineptitude, and lack of substance.

The latter sentences about bombastic terminology recall not only the philosophy of Hegel and Heidegger but in our contexts also recent affirmations about the future of superintelligent computer-AI, technological singularity, theory of everything, etc. Not to mention the bombastic terminology of psycho-political theorizing in  LGBT-talk, e.g. intersectionalityquantum field theory in feminist theory,  LGBTQIA-Glossary, "TERF = "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists". Or others who ignore the historically and Christianly conceived structure and dynamics of the psyche, and undermine the family as base of society in favor of "constellations" that could have been called clusters. The text quoted above is completed (p. 170, §359) with an explanation of how new definitions of God appeared in Schopenhauer as the unconscious Will, in Carus as the unconscious, and in Hegel as the practical equation of philosophical reason with Spirit, (I would add: in Freud as sexuality), "thus making possible that intellectual juggling with the object which achieved such a horrid brilliance in his philosophy of the State." 

Spirit and Reason or Thought, with capital S, R and T, recall Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and all modern talk about spirit, interpreted as implying that "there are no essential limits to human knowledge". Or, as in the view of existentialist philosopher Lev Shestov: key quote "...we need to think that only one assertion has or can have any objective reality: that nothing on earth is impossible. Every time someone wants to force us to admit that there are other, more limited and limiting truths, we must resist with every means we can lay hands on". This is the difficult and problematic question that is considered in terms of conscience by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the above mentioned essay on Conscience and Truth.

It is indeed startingly ostentatious to imagine that the less than 1500 cubic centimeters of individual brain substance and its bodily ramifications, which we do not really understand the origin and functional capacity of, should be able to embrace the whole universe from which they have originate. Cf. the well known video on micro-macro views of the zoomed universe in The Cosmic Eye where, symptomatically, the observer of the video usually forgets who is the observer and who, if not "God eye", conceived the video's images". If notwithstanding it all, the brain were able to do so, it could only be because it has the godly imprint from where it originated, and it would be able to modestly acknowledge it in modest religiosity instead of attributing it all to a cheap "complexity". This attitude is suggested by the Ego-deflating famous prayer of cardinal Merry del Val, in the spirit of the even more famous Imitation of Christ both contrasting the misunderstandings embodied in the Nordic conception of the Ego boasting message in the Law of JanteThe mentioned attitude of modesty is probably implied by all Catholic scientists, lay and clergy, who obviously have intelligently squared their faith with their lifelong scientific endeavor beyond scientism.

 

Behaving Human Beings - Simple as Ants

Paradoxically, on the other hand, an atheistic response to all this has been to equate the intelligence of humans and ants, attributing a human apparent complexity to its brain's reaction to a complex environment. In The Sciences of the Artificial(1969, p. 25, 53, summary here), a book classified as Science and Philosophy, Herbert Simon who is an "icon" in the history of Artificial Intelligence (AI) explores a hypothesis, which by raising numerous critical comments in academic journals paradoxically contributed to his prestige in citation indexes:

In this chapter I should like to explore this hypothesis but with the word 'human' being substituted for 'ant'...

A man, viewed as a behaving system, is quite simple. The apparent complexity of his behavior over time is largely a reflection of the complexity of the environment in which he finds itself. [...] 

I consider this an example of what an abusively prolific mathematical mind whose behavior is as simple as that of an ant, can achieve in several fields, up to the level of a Nobel prize, when it does not understand the essence and limitations of mathematics and logic as indicated by the previously mentioned Jan Brouwer. It can be paradoxically the case that the apparent complexity of Herbert Simon's mind is largely a reflection of the complexity of the question that he considered. It would also be interesting to see whether the behavior of an ant entering the British Museum is complex enough as to suggest a kind of "understanding" of that environment. The publication of Simon's thoughts, in any case, may have influenced West Churchman who also was one of the book's reviewers to accelerate the publication of his The Design of Inquiring Systems, which may be considered as a rejoinder to Simon's book. This is clearly suggested in Churchman's review of Simon's book under the title "The artificiality of science" in Contemporary Psychology (Vol. 15, No. 6, June 1970, p. 385f.) Simon's obituary in The Economist (February 24th 2001, p. 103) refers his answer to the question "What about the soul?": No one, he said, would tell him what the soul was. When someone did, he said thoughtfully, he would program one.

 

Anthropomorphism

Going over to the next reflection, I think that one main difficulty in reasoning about God is that definitionally we cannot "comprehend" something that is "more" than us, in the sense that an ant cannot comprehend the British Museum. But it is also so that just because of this very same reason the human mind cannot put up with the anthropomorphism of the God image, if an image is to be allowed at all, which it is not in certain religions. The representation of God as an old man with a white beard certainly repels many people for appearing "childish" but it can only refer artistically, rhetorically and psychologically to the archetype of the wise old manBesides the explanations of what this implies as found in analytic psychology, there are some rhetorically powerful observations in the presentations of "transrationality" displayed in videos such as about "the existence of God", to which i return in the last section of this essay about "Reflections on criticism".

The best explanation and justification I know of this difficult and necessarily defective, archetypal anthropomorphism, which recalls the artifice of analogy, is to be found in an account of C.S. Lewis being quoted as saying: (since I cannot find the original where I found this, may I refer also to accounts found in The Image of Man in C.S. Lewisp. 43, by William Luther White, and The Legitimacy of Miraclep. 160, by Robert Larmer): 

"When [people] try to get rid of manlike, or as they are called 'anthropomorphic' images, they merely succeed in substituting images of other kinds."...."If a man watches his own mind, I believe he will find that what profess to be specially advanced or philosophic conceptions of God [e.g. 'spiritual force'] are, in his thinking, always accompanied by vague images which, if inspected, would turn out to be even more absurd than the manlike images aroused by Christian theology. For man, after all, is the highest of the things we meet in sensuous experience."

Here we have, however, a paradox that has implications for the modern atheistic conceptions of artificial intelligence - AI - and the so called technological singularity where artificial "superintelligence", prior to understanding what intelligence is or should be, is in my opinion preposterously supposed to be or to become superior to the humans. In this way, based on a misunderstanding of logic and mathematics that I consider elsewhere in connection with Jan Brouwer, it is shown that there is a devaluation of the human being that also devaluates our possible apprehension of the divine, or devaluates psychologically the divine. This is also applicable to the devaluation of human-computer interaction - HCI - since it "imposes" (a facilitation of) a certain human behavior that is necessary for the given function of a "given" computer system that is increasingly perceived as a superintelligence. Devaluation of God and of the human being go together.

 

Love and Evolutionary Self-Preservation

The next question is to ask ourselves what do we feel and what does it mean when we say that we "love" our spouses - today symptomatically "partners" - or our children. Today, also symptomatically, I have heard materialist engineers who prefer to say that they "like" their spouses and children, as if it was a question of preferring some among dishes of a menu at a restaurant. Anyway, the point is that the intensity of love, to the point of being ready to sacrifice one's own life in order to save the loved one, requires an answer to the question of "wherefrom" comes this love and readiness that supersedes the own personal conservation instinct. Materialist atheists are often ready to claim that this is a sublimation of the own conservation and sexual instinct as a function of evolution that requires a preservation of the next generation or, as it goes today, of the own "DNA-imprint" in a sociobiological sense. It will always be possible by means of abuse of logic to construct arguments for such hypothesis and it has already been done in much of existentialism and in other published books like Finding Purpose in a Godless World

An alternative hypothesis in the spirit of the present essay is to claim, as suggested in analytic psychology, that we have the divine within us, and that we reproduce towards our "neighbour" the very same love that it is said that God and Jesus has for us. So, in this sense, what we feel is the same that God feels for us and that we are "programmed" to feel for our neighbour to begin with the closest one. Or as in Mark 12:31: "Love your neighbor as yourself", which disposes of the relation between love and instinct of conservation. Furthermore, it is consistent with analytic psychology's conception of such love as an general and "sexual" attraction to the own soul through the projection of the contrasexual anima or animus upon the loved one. (It is a psychological conception that is based on empirical evidence and analogously abstract as conceptions of, say, quantum physics.) This is done in order that the projections may gradually be withdrawn with the consequence of learning to know "oneself" at the same time that one learns to know the "other" and the common divine in us all. All this being a base for discussion of the meaning of human brotherhood (having a common Father, despite of it being renamed "solidarity"), divorce as desertion or abandonment by God, jealousy, and homosexuality that nowadays are taken for given. Not to mention misunderstandings at the work place and in computer-mediated communications.

 

The Galileo Affair

A historical classic objection to religion is that it impairs scientific inquiry - as often exemplified by the complex and controversial Galileo affair. Wikipedia's account clarifies the complexity and also justifies my refrainment from expanding this question within the space and scope of the present text of mine. Nevertheless, from the systemic point of view of "information" it is important to underline that information is not "atomic", not even "molecular", but rather global or systemic in the sense that the divulgation acceptance of one so called fact or piece of information but not others, within a global context, can be interpreted wrongly, having consequences that are enormous, and possibly calamitous. This is symptomatically obvious when practically nobody in this world appreciates to broadcast certain details about personal and family life since it can be disastrous because, despite of being "true", they can be "misinterpreted" when not accompanied by an ethical total understanding. Not to mention the way secrets of state and espionage or counterintelligence are regarded in all nations of the world, as exemplified in the Assange (and consequently Snowden) affair that I have considered in Wikileaks, Information and SystemsWhat is to be allowed to be considered as a "fact"? The complexity of the question can be also intuited in a likewise complex theater play, The Wild Duck, by the Norwegian play writer Henrik Ibsen, displaying a man who "insists on pursuing the absolute truth, or the "summons of the Ideal", and "meddles in the affairs of a strange family, producing disastrous results." 

The complexity of the question of fact vs. hypothesis and theory, beyond the reach of normal laymen, is also suggested by the curious fact that so late as the year 2007 a book was published with the title Galileo was wrong: the Church was right. For the rest, see the account given by the Catholic Education Resource Center under the title itself The Galileo AffairSimilar apologetic efforts could be made and have been make for other "affairs" such as the Crusades or the Inquisition, or now the problems of pedophilia of which Swedish readers kan check my account elsewhere, in a blog entry. Neverthess they incur into the impossibilities that I explained about "debate" on complex matters. Therefore they can make matters worse (cf New Oxford Review, Sept. 2005), and exceed the scope of this text. The causes of these affairs have become "historical" and belong to the cultural heritage of Christianity, being also related to the general attacks on Christianity, presupposing e.g. secular religion or state individualism, to the point of justifying various entries in encyclopedias such as Criticism of Christianityand Persecution of Christians in the Modern Era.

The case of pedophilia illustrates another aspect of the problem of the Ego as related to criticism and persecution of Christians. Many atheists are irritated by perceiving that religious persons in general and Christians in particular claim to be better people. They do not know that one main tenet in Christianity is the recognition that we all are sinners. Therefore they delight in being able to denounce whenever Christians and especially priests also are shown to be sinners, the more so if they are worse or worst sinners, don't mind about relative statistics in the population. This gives the advantage of being able to think and say: "you should shut up in trying to convert us and better to start blaming and improving yourself". Additionally they can say to themselves: "if the others supposedly holy Christians do this, then I myself who do not profess to be a better man also can do it". They do not imagine that the Christian can respond by confessing that he is also a sinner (with the advantage of confessing and repenting) but that this does not mean that the sin is not a sin to be avoided by all of us. All this may stand behind what has become a hype, the condemnation of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, as if other Christian denominations were less affected. It motivated my writing a special insert in my private blog (in Swedish). Catholic priests (and nuns) are also human. Disregarding comparisons of percentages of pedophiles in the Church compared to its number in charitable associations, other communities (including the United Nations peacekeepers) and the society at large, a main question arises: what is the percentage of those who are indignated with this perversion compared with that those who approve, foster, and practice the Western "sexual revolution" with "indecent exposures" and provocative pornography, as if it had nothing to do with pedophilia. It is opportunely not even mentioned in its Wikipedia's article on the generally approved sexual revolution (except for one occasional mention of "child exploitation", accessed October 24th, 2018). One has to go to history of "Obscenity" (Swedish "förargelseväckande beteende" in order to be reminded of what has happened to the watered-down sources of temptations that victimize humans.

Returning from the digression to the case of Galileo a point of view that I have not seen considered but it appropriate in this context is to note that the Church more or less consciously was apprehensive for the possible consequences of the one-sided affirmation and divulgation of the heliocentric doctrines of Galileo, as it became later apprehensive about the sexual revolution. The consequences of the Galileo-story became real in the sense that Western thought, under the pressure of scientism and shortcomings of theology, became mistrustful of the truth of all of the Church's teachings. This lead ultimately to the strengthening of present Western atheism championed by Sweden, probably the most commented secularized predominantly "Lutheran" country of the world. Maybe the Church could have addressed this question sooner after the Galileo event but this may have considered as insurmountable because of all the difficulties implied in societal debate on such a complex matter, as I suggest in my essay of "Debate". Christianity itself could have been a way to allow for a common ground, set of basic values, for debate as it has been in past Europe. An early confession of mistaken judgment, however could have been a mistake in the sense that it was not a mistake: the freed and unbridled Galilean (as Darwin's evolutionary) partial knowledge equaled a lie that may have had immediate, cumulative, irreversible and deleterious secularizing effects. The understanding of such a process in the context of Ibsen's drama mentioned above can then be an indication of Ibsen's genius.

This question of "Galilean facts" may stand behind the modern problematization of "fake news" or "alternative facts", as I have indirectly have explained in the context of debates. Facts include value laden costly choice among numerous facts, including politically risky and costly theory-laden measurement beyond naive pure observation. People who cannot afford the effort and the cost of choice or creative measurement and divulgation of facts can be tempted to create and cheat with cheap facts of own fabrication, which counter official but systemically false established truths. Analog problems may be encountered today also in the problematization of climate change or global warming, and of evolution (facts, hypotheses, theories, truth) as related to the hypothesis of "intelligent design", e.g. in its more moderate versions, such as represented by the work of Michael Behe.

 

Adaptation to an Evolutionary Changing World

A criticism that is often formulated against religion, not the least with the example of Galilei vs. the Church, is that it, the religion and the Church, must adapt continuously or periodically to changes in the human societies, changes that most often are considered to be development, further equated with improvement. What should be considered in this context is that religion focuses on the "nature" of man and so called order of creation. Even if they are considered to be the result of natural evolution instead of God's creation, the Earth and associated life forms result from a process that for the Earth is said to be about 3-4 billions years. Homo sapiens is said to be dated from about 315.000 year ago, beginning to "exhibit evidence of behavioral modernity around 50.000 years ago". Focusing upon the Bible, and its dating: the first parts of the Hebrew Bible may be dated from the 8th-7th centuries BCE being completed through the 6th-4th centuries, and terminated by the 3rd century BCE up to the 1st century CE. The New Testament books were composed largely in the second half of the 1st century CE. The Deuterocanonical books fall largely in between.

[A symptomatic note in parenthesis that refers to the secularism or multiculturalism implicitly discussed in the present essay of mine. The English Wikipedia uses the terms BCE and CE or Before Common Era and Common Era, instead of AD (anno Domini or year of the Lord) and BC (before Christ), explained as follows: The term "Common Era" can be found in English as early as 1708, and became more widely used in the mid-19th century by Jewish academics. In the later 20th century, the use of CE and BCE was popularized in academic and scientific publications, and more generally by authors and publishers wishing to emphasize secularism or sensitivity to non-Christians, by not explicitly referencing Jesus as "Christ" and Dominus ("Lord") through use of the abbreviation "AD".]

My point then is that the Judeo-Christian as other old world religions is several thousand of years old and supposedly adapted to human nature aged of, say hundred thousand years. What is requested in way of "adaptation" is then and adaptation to a scientific way of thinking that itself has evolved the last 400 years and is said to be accelerating its pace of change. Changes of fundamental values have been requested and have occurred during the last few decades, especially in the Western world, affecting the structure and functions of family as well the interactions of men, women, and children, as well as the relations between man and the environment. In these contexts "Human Rights" following an originally murderous French Revolution appear to be considered substitutes for religion. It is the least to say problematic to conceive changes in religion in the middle of changes of everything. It is like changing the political constitution of a nation in the middle of changing laws and specific changes of rules of governmental activity resulting from political parties' continuous negotiations. And the rate of change of laws is also accelerating on the basis of erosion of the concept of natural law in contrast to positive law and legal positivism. The latter distinguishes especially the most secularized countries of the world such as Sweden having lately resulted in extreme consequences of questioning the basic principle of presumption of innocenceCf. the Swedish National Report for the 18th International Congress on Comparative Law, held in Washington D.C. July-August 2010 on the impact of religion and challenges for society, law and democracy. 

My point is that religion in such context represents the necessary inertia of society, and should be the most seldom changed institution of society. This idea is incorporated in the often misunderstood and psychologically broader concept of dogma. Its importance in intuited by examining for instance Carl Jung's commentary to the institution by the Catholic Church of the dogma on the Assumption of Mary. My own intuition is that this dogma addressing the importance of womanhood may lie at the heart of problems that motivated the rise of feminism in predominantly Protestant societies. Especially after the second world war feminism aiming at the importance of an undervalued womanhood and motherhood has shaken up the structure and values of the family. Regarding the meaning of dogma reflecting the long term stability of the emotional structure of the unconscious psyche Jung has the following to say (CW 11, p.45, §81, followed by CW 6, p.77 §113 and p.307 §516, but see also pp.532ff. §806ff.):

For a certain type of intellectual mediocrity characterized by enlightened rationalism, a scientific theory that simplifies matters is a very good means of defence [against an onslaught of immediate experience with its terrible ambiguity] because of the tremendous faith modern man has in anything which bears the label "scientific". Such a a label sets your mind at rest immediately [...]. In itself any scientific theory, no matter how subtle, has, I think, less value from the standpoint of psychological truth than religious dogma, for the simple reason that a theory is necessarily highly abstract and exclusively rational, whereas dogma expresses an irrational whole by means of imagery. This guarantees a far better rendering of an irrational fact like the psyche. Moreover, dogma owes its continued existence and its form on the one hand to so-called "revealed" of immediate experiences of the "Gnosis" - for instance, the Godman, the Cross, the Virgin Birth, the Immaculate Conception, the Trinity, and so on, and on the other hand to the ceaseless collaboration of many minds over many centuries. [...] The theory has to disregard the emotional values of the experience. [...] One scientific theory is soon superseded by another. Dogma lasts for untold centuries. 

Through the shifting of interest from the inner to the outer world our knowledge of nature was increased a thousandfold in comparison with earlier ages, but knowledge and experience of the inner world were correspondingly reduced. The religious interest, which ought normally to be the greatest and most decisive factor, turned away from the inner world, and the great figures of dogma dwindled to strange and incomprehensible vestiges, a prey to every sort of criticism. [...] Modern rationalism is a process of sham enlightenment and even prides itself morally on its iconoclastic tendencies. Most people are satisfied with the not very intelligent view that the whole purpose of dogma is to state a flat impossibility. That it could be the symbolic expression of a definite idea with a definite content is something that occurs to hardly anybody. For can one possibly know what that idea is! And what "I" do not know simply does not exist. Therefore, for this enlightened stupidity, there is no non-conscious psyche. 

Because the contemporary scientific attitude is exclusively concretistic and empirical, it has no appreciation of the value of ideas, for facts rank higher than knowledge of the primordial forms in which the human mind conceives them. This swing towards concretism is a comparatively recent development, a relict of the Enlightenment. The results are indeed astonishing, but they have led to an accumulation of empirical material whose very immensity is productive of more confusion than clarity. The inevitable outcome is scientific separatism and specialist mythology, which spells death to universality. The predominance of empiricism not only means the suppression of active thinking: it also imperils the building of theories in any branch of science. The dearth of general viewpoints, however, caters to the construction of mythical theories, just as much as does the absence of empirical criteria.


Speculation and Introspection

A type of "information" that is not allowed to be information in popularly understood philosophy of science is what, in a facile way, is summarily classified as "speculation" and "introspection". They are considered as ugly words, especially by those, often engineers, who are committed to the logical positivism that dominated academia before the misdirected reaction that led to postmodernism in the eighties. This sort of classification of information is considered by the the skilful questioning by West Churchman in his book The Design of Inquiring Systems (p. 150ff.)He points out there that philosophically and scientifically "to be a mind is to be observed". What is speculation for one person can be an observation by another, and it all becomes a question of "the subjectivity syndrome". It means that it is truly so that I am not the only one who best can know what I think and feel. Subjectivity does not need to be only subjectivity. Subjectivity will not do, because those who stamp out something as speculation and information are not prone to read and understand such exposition on observability, in part because of the impossibilities of "debate" that I considered in my previously mentioned essay on the subject. And probably they do not care to reflect upon speculation as being the speculative reason as proposed by Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason that underlies the philosophy of mathematics.

Analogously for introspection, Wikipedia, even disregarding the details adduced by Churchman, recalls anyway that introspection has been a subject of philosophical discussion for thousands of years and that the philosopher Plato asked, "[…] why should we not calmly and patiently review our own thoughts, and thoroughly examine and see what these appearances in us really are?". And Jung, in the Kantian tradition, discusses the matter in his Psychological Types as it regards the various possible relations between object and subject that leads humans to selective blindness. More directly, the yoga-hype is directly addressed in an essay with the title Yoga and the West (CW11 with the particularly relevant title Psychology and Religion: West and East, pp. 529-537), followed by a couple of other related studies. I only mention this within my limits of space here, without going into the argumentation, in order to emphasize that the negation of introspection has had and is having its toll in the West's increased interest for Eastern meditation techniques, and for the intuitions of anthroposophy, for that matter. Symptomatically, this neglected need for some sort of introspection corresponds to the ignored analog Christian prayer and its theoreticians as Pierre-Joseph de Clorivière (1735-1820) whose book on prayer has been recently translated into a language of such modest diffusion as Swedish.

To the gradual impoverishment of self-examination and religious commitment in the West may be attributed also the misunderstanding of so called sexuality. For instance, many years ago one main Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (25 September 1977) announced an article with the title "Pornographic motives on [Medieval] church walls baffles researchers" [Porr på kyrkväggar förbryllar forskare]. The title could better have been "Religious motives in pornographic magazines baffles researchers." (Cf. Philip Rawson, Tantra1973/2012, fig. 39.) Sexuality can be better seen as religious cult, as suggested by the intuition that birth of new life presupposes divine intervention. The supposed speculation on the sexualization of psychology, well described by James Hillman in his The Myth of Analysis (p. 140ff.) corresponds to the modern sexualization of religion and to the inability to introspect our feelings. Hillman writes (p. 143, 147f.), recalling in my mind my own and Ellen Key's reflections on the "#MeToo" phenomenology:

Those crucial experiences of psychic life, eros and suffering and their union, had become, through the simplistic materialism of the nineteenth, "nothing but" pleasure and pain, which Bentham might have liked to calibrate with his "felicific calculus", his fantasy for the mathematical formulation of pleasure and pain. And the small measure to which these themes had shrunk was yet further reduced: pleasure was sexual pleasure, and pain was physical pain.[...]

"If Passion mysticism - the mysticism of the cross and its stations, of the stigmata and the bleeding heart, of the flayed martyrs and the flagellants - becomes masochism, we have, by naming this after Masoch, turned passion into pornography. [...] In this case scientific naming did not advance science, but it degrade the experience [...] Perhaps masochism is a late Victorian and German expression for religious erotic passion [...] the feminist movement: a personalized and profaned cry of the soul. The psyche had lost touch with eros, just as eros, having been excluded from psychology, was simplified and debased into pornography and sentimentality [...]. 

And this, contrasting with typically atheistic conceptions (cf. Google <religious masochism>), is followed by a section of Hillman's book with the suggestive title that says it all: PSYCHE = MIND: MIND = HEAD. I would add HEAD = BRAIN. It is obvious that there will be no more space for speculation and introspection. The brain does not introspect.

 

Intuitions in Music

Talking about introspection we might as well ask ourselves why and how many if not all of us can get so innerly touched by some music, being overwhelmed to the point of tears. It recalls analog but often weaker experiences of architecture of cathedrals, especially in Gothic architecture. If it is not sheer sentimentality triggered by references to experiences of lost love or of death it can often be a question of religious feelings within the range of affects mentioned by Plato and systematized in the "Doctrine of the Affections". An interesting testing ground is for instance the famous Lamento d'Arianna (sung here) by Claudio Monteverdi, Lascia ch'io pianga (sung here) by Georg Friedrich Händel, Henry Purcell's Dido's Lament (sung here) or, in modern times, Arvo Pärt's Ode IX in Kanon Pokjanen, (sung in video here), presented as having the text of the "Canon of Repentance to Our Lord Jesus Christ", an Orthodox hymn with a text sung in Church Slavonic and following the tradition of Russian sacred choral music, sung a cappella. Not to mention J.S. Bach's John's Passion and its theological-musical commentaries, in various degrees of detail. Considering that many today are sentimentally and ecstatically moved by other types of music recalls Plato's affirmation that "the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions." (Rep. 424c).

One important aspect is the relation of this effect of music to its fundamental nature as related to mathematics  I already considered concerning the intuitions of Jan Brouwer. There are indeed several hypotheses about why and how we are moved by music, including scientistic hypotheses, albeit not why we are moved to tears. For instance, on September 30th 2018, the Swedish Radio broadcasted a program in the conversational series Philosophical Room. It was presented as follows (my English translation):

Rhythmtimingswing and groove: What is it that in sound catches us so, what is it that the pulse wants us to understand? Rasmus Bååth, Johanna Österling and Guy Madison philosophize.

Some love to dance, others prefer marching in pace. We humans are creators of meaning, and social creatures. Perhaps the rhythm of music helps us to set us up in the ranks, to create an order and structure in a fundamentally chaotic existence.

The value and meaning of rhythm is discussed by Rasmus Bååth, cognition specialist who researches the chimpanzees’ sense of pace, Johanna Österling, a rhythm educator as a doctor of music science about how the body grabs music and how music grabs the body, and Guy Madison, a professor of psychology who researches rhythm , music, time and timing.

My point, however, leaving aside chimpanzees and more but especially less relevant speculations such as about Gödel, Escher, and Bach, or about "atonality", it may be fruitful to investigate why many people are "moved to tears" and why this happens in the context of classical sacred music, and typically in certain orthodox choir music. But compare the above "technical" reference to rythm, or the technicalities of "Why Dido's Lament breaks our heart every single time", with the problem of understanding the why of so many questions about rythm in Gregorian chant. Compare also with so many unsystematic but historically grounded thoughts about the issue of music in worship, to be contrasted to satanic rock musicand related social effects of rock music (drugs and sex). There are also many irreligious people if not outright sentimentalistatheists appreciate and can be moved by the atmosphere of certain churches and cathedrals, especially Gothic cathedrals, attributing this effect to the power of religious art found there. There is then a motive for calling the attention upon the fact that instead of following the Nietzschean suggestion about art, espoused also by previously mentioned Alain de Botton, one can consider the implications of Theological Aestheticsas presented for instance by Hans Urs von Balthasar. It recalls the question of The Form of the Good where the Good may be equated to God, as well as Plato's Aesthetics, and paradoxically why many were seduced by the by now typically Nietzschean idea of art and "beauty" being a substitute for religion, as pointed out by Gunnela Ivanov in a study on "design" (pp. 303-305). Not to move into the related quagmire of "Wagner-faddism", that I have considered elsewhere, in an insert in my blog.

 

Explanation of Evil: Theodicy

A main reflection concerns the issue of Theodicy or, as Encyclopaedia Britannica puts it, an explanation of why a perfectly good, almighty, and all-knowing God permits evil. In Western culture this has been historically represented by the Bible's Book of Jobgiving rise to a whole literature including Carl Jung's book Answer to JobIt is a main example of the discutable relation of Jung to Christian doctrine, surveyed by James W. Heisig in his "Jung and theology: A bibliographic essay" (442 references, in Spring, 1973, pp. 204-255, but see also pp. 188-203). It invites the reader to think and to further study Jung's interpretation of the essence of Protestantism and Catholicism, which influenced him, and how it did it. - Popular atheists' position is generally to solve these questions by simply ignoring the history and content of Theodicy. Popular Christians' way, as in the catechization of children, is to refer to this summarily by denominating it as a mystery. The Catholic Encyclopedia exposes Theodicy in all its complexity as evidenced by the richness of links in its text, reminding of common objections to my own texts, motivating occasionally lazy or disinterested readers to follow the patterns described in my essay on Debate: requiring that the author furnishes them with an "executive summary" of what he wants to say in a maximum of about ten lines.

The immense complexity of the question comes from the definition of Theodicy as "the justification of God" that we may put in contrast to the earlier mentioned human "Ego inflation". And this is incidentally illustrated in the video of Jordan Peterson talking about The reason modern people can't see God is that they won't look low enoughIn this present text I will only mention one modest reflective question of mine: "wherefrom" comes our own intuition of "justice" and of "evil", which in turn requires us to ask for a justification of the apparent ungodly evil injustice in the causation of death, pain and sorrow? To which extent are sufferings not self-inflicted, caused directly of indirectly by humans' disrespect of other people, of nature and of the "order of creation"?. It is to be seen as a pun that the rather atheistic magazine The Economist observes that in understanding the universe and the order of creation "Even Stephen Hawking doesn't quite manage to explain why we are here." 

And, ultimately, what to say about suffering? The Stoics had a lot of meaningful things to say about it, but many of today's atheists regress and use to console themselves in imagining that their relatives' and their own death and decomposed bodies will fertilize the earth for future generations of vegetation, humans and animals. All major Indian religions refer to reincarnation. All religions refer to an afterlife. Differences among religions do not matter in this context as long as we can accept the Veda saying that "God is one but the learned call him by many names", while the sheer number of different world religions testify to the universal importance of their origins. This does not prevent that some religion can have approached (true) God better than others, or "best". In religion many find relief for the suffering that atheists use for denying religion, based on their claim that it is inconsistent with their understanding of the goodness of God. The Catholic Church in particular refers also to the Pope's Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris [Saving Passion] on the theme of suffering, a letter that has no atheistic analogs. Some comments on this Catholic approach, may always be misunderstood and perceived as controversial.

The theme of suffering, in particular the passion of Jesus is perceived to be difficult to understand. The only popular theological "explanation" I have seen and understood is to be found in an essay by Søren Ulrik Thomsen, influenced by the theologically controversial René Girard, addressing political correctness in (Danish original) Stjernvelt, F. & Thomsen, S.U. Kritik af den negative opbyggelighed (Borgen/Vindrose, 2005, my translation from the Swedish version Kritik av den negativa uppbyggligheten [Criticism of the negative edification], www.ruin.se, 2007, p.166, 263):

In summary, my defense for Christianity is that in my eyes it is a civilized and civilizing religion, partly because it invites man to believe in God, so that he does not make himself god or worships others as if they were God , and partly because it encourages believing in Christ, thus preventing that man both plays victim and that he turns others into scapegoats. Since Christ is the Son of God, He is the final victim, and because he has taken on all our sins, he is the ideal scapegoat: Christ is the crucial historical event that makes the sacrifice of sons become meaningless. Because Christ's sacrifice can never be exceeded, it has redeemed all. Thus, it has become possible for the person who believes that he will be forgiven to take on his own sin instead of projecting it on scapegoats, in which one should rather see Christ's suffering than the evil of the riffraff. All of these are only negative arguments for Christianity as a kind of hygienic institution that will tame people both to refrain from megalomania and from tyranny over others by posing as victim (often two sides of the same), and prevent the community from returning to the deification of leaders and ethnic cleansing. As long as you speak in the sensible spirit of public opinion exchange, negative arguments are the only valid ones. I cannot invoke my position as believer because faith is a mystery. But I can tell about it.

As a challenging parenthetical curiosity about the "negative arguments" mentioned above, it may be the case that they mean the same as what Didier Julia, French translator of J.G. Fichte's Theory of Science [Grundlage der Wissenschaftlehre], mentions in the preface to  La théorie de la science: exposé de 1804: "la réflexion philosophique n'est qu'une théologie négative de l'absolu" [philosophical reflection is only a negative theology of the absolute].

Also related to the Theodicy is the apparently simpler question of why God should allow people to be born despite of knowing that their lives will be be marked by much suffering, notwithstanding also by some joy. Many people's life is undoubtedly characterized mostly if not only by extreme suffering. To this I will contrapose the case of humans: why do parents wish to give birth to children, beyond the pleasure of sexual satisfaction and the need for help and support in their old age. One if not the only naive and patently true answer is that humans enjoy in engendering and have children who also help the parents' psychic development. The children's parents, after a basic education to adulthood, want to leave them on their own free will and and to the risk of own wrong decisions that may lead to unhappy lives just as God is supposed to have respectfully done with us, instead of making us His marionettes in a "perfect world". The children were supposed to be the result and living symbol of a tie of love between man and woman, all this despite the corruptions implied by abortions and divorces. Why should this not also be a simplified answer to the why a Christianly understood God, who theologically is love, should wish us to be born? For the rest, the question is what do we want: paradise on earth, no suffering and no death disregarding what follows for eternity from and after them? Disregarding or deriding death and the world literature's great classics such as The Tibetan Book of the Deadtogether with the commentaries about it and its connection to otherwise popular meditative practices and Christian conceptions to death in the Middle Ages or mourning period? Do we want to be immortal hedonistic and wise gods we ourselves, as the wisest AI-gadgets or God-substitutes we hope for?

This serious question is best illustrated and answered by my choice out of the Wikipedia's list of films featuring surveillance: The Truman Show (1998). The "theodicy" of the film's gods impersonated by the director, producer, and writer of the plot may help to resolve the philosophical battle on Leibniz's famous claim that "the actual world is the best of all possible worlds", and is the following:

"Truman Burbank, adopted and raised by a corporation inside a simulated television show revolving around his life, until he discovers it and decides to escape.[...] Truman Burbank is the unsuspecting star of The Truman Show, a reality television program which is broadcast live around the clock and across the globe. His entire life has taken place within a giant arcological dome in Hollywood, fashioned to create the seaside town of Seahaven Island, and equipped with thousands of cameras to monitor all aspects of his life."

A greater vision of this issue of God as a supreme "helicopter parent" is provided by Hans Urs von Balthasar in his Theology of History (p. 61), recalling at the same time the shortcomings of logic in relation to Gödel's incompleteness theorems and my paper on computers as embodied logic and mathematics:

Man's freedom and choice are not infringed by the freedom of God, who [...] provides what is done by man with a scale of reference on the divine plane; any more than the "play within the play" in Hamlet is deprived of its dramatic character because Hamlet and the court are watching and interpret it in terms of the events of their world. True, Hamlet is responsible for devising the play within the play and seeing that it is acted, so that the reason and purpose of the minor tragedy lie in the major one.

The same von Balthasar recalls (p. 44) the question of love and that "Knowledge is always totally measured by love". Nowadays, however, the loss of religious feelings imply the loss of this meaning of love and life in freedom, leaving sex as the only meaning, countered by "mistake of loving the wrong person" because of the lure of the sexual instinct, where love is again equated to horny arousal and is separated from its Christian complement of Justice. This is also what allows to talk about sexual love such as in LGBT-contexts where any sexual behavior is justified by the fact that it is a sort of sacred or sacralized love coupled to gratuitous forgiveness by a kind Jesus who is only love, further equated to a sort of feel-good kindness. Forget justice, the Bible and the Ten Commandments whose infringement may be causing most social troubles, human tragedies and suffering, while keeping at least four or five of them would improve the world approaching paradise on earth. They are the tragedies that are supposed to be the subject of the literature and art that today are substitutes for the Bible: novels, romances, films, and ad-hoc self-help books that are supposed to perform catharsis of sick souls.


Reflections on criticism

An objection that can be directed against this essay is that it appears to rely often upon to references to the work and the authority of authors such as Churchman and Jung (not to mention Jesus Christ) that some readers may not know and feel not to be able to check and consult. This reminds me of the modern phenomenon intuitively summarized by the title of books like Society without the Father and The Sibling Society portraying the breakdown of parental authority and influence. The point is that all humans have a story of being influenced at least initially in their lives by some people more than others, while Steven Shapin remarks in hia Social History of Science that all science relies on the trustworthiness of others. In the family all children are usually influenced mostly by their father and mother, to the point that in many schools of psychology including psychoanalysis the importance of such influence reaches mythical proportions. Many cultures have cruel and denigrating epithets for those who claim that they have unknown father, or too many "fathers", or a mother of dubious morality. Even in their further development, humans develop by comparing, rejecting or expanding their parents' teachings within society at large. Children's later social life including the academia displays analogous properties. The alternative is supposedly ego-inflated self-sufficiency. In practice it implies sheer eclecticism or perspectivism developing into postmodernism, post-structuralism or sheer relativism, where the fundamental philosophical and theological premises are often ignored, undermining the conclusions and the possibility of criticism. An example of this is the late re-launching of "transrationality" in a rhetorically powerful video on What is God by a self-defined "life-coach" relating to thoughts akin to transpersonal psychology. He appears to me as displaying traits of (young adult) child prodigy or indigo children having, nevertheless, a few important things to say about the complexity of the question of "existence of God", including anthropomorphism as considered above.

There is in circulation a lot of easy popular criticism of religion. An example is to claim that many historically calamities and wars have been caused by the struggle for or against a particular religion, starting typically with the Christian crusades. Even disregarding necessarily apologetic books like The Real History of the Crusades that, for instance, explain why they are regarded as apologetic: they point out that crusades (together with the Inquisition) are "quite possibly the most misunderstood event in European history" and that "most of what passes for public knowledge about it is either misleading of just plain wrong". There is still more to it. I usually respond in my mind that neither the first nor second world war are usually claimed to have been caused by the clash of religious convictions. Similarly the famous calamitous dictatorships like Hitler's, Stalin's or Mao Zedong's have not been associated with any religions except the "religion of atheism". The objection that atheism is not a religion because it lacks a belief in the supernatural is undermined by confusion about what belief is, e.g. as contrasted to faith (see above on faith and belief) and about what natural is, considering that reason as related to intelligence is claimed today to be superseded by superintelligent machines. And it is noted that atheists have an active belief system with views concerning origins (that the universe and life arose by natural processes).

A most sophisticated and less visible criticism of Christianity is offered by anthroposophy. In what he calls "spiritual science" Rudolf Steiner elaborates and interprets Christ as being "the center of earthly evolution". In its intellectual complexity such interpretation hides a reliance upon an extreme intellectualization of Christianity in the German cultural sphere as represented by the writer and statesman J.W.Goethe (see an excerpt of a study by Walter Naumann) as well as by the theologian and philosopher F. Schleiermacher. A study of the one main book by Steiner, A Philosophy of Freedom, indicates to me that it is a heavy idiosyncratic construction based on convolute interpretations of various contemporaneous philosophical, quasi-philosophical and psychological terms such as intellect, thought, feeling and intuition. The term intellectualization itself that I use here requires a similar grounding. These terms appear undefined and undiscussed if compared with their elaboration in Jung's work (esp. vol. 6 on Psychological Types). It all becomes a temptation to distance oneself from Christianity by reinterpreting and turning it into an alternative neo-religion despite assurances that such anthroposophy is not a religion (despite of having some historical roots in theosophy.) It turns out to be a spiritual science for the few who feel tempted to over-intellectualize thanks to their being analytically gifted. Alternatively for those who superficially look for pretexts to avoid explicit religious commitment, since then there is neither "sin" nor punishment. 

Paradoxically overintellectualization can turn into a criticism of atheism without any religious commitments, as in an essay by the prominent Brazilian anthroposopher and computer scientist Valdemar Setzer who deconstructs Richard Dawkins' atheistic arguments in a monumental review of The God Delusion. The absurdity of such a toilsome attempt becomes patent if one considers that the are other too many books that would require similar reviews. To name just two: Reason and Religious Beliefand How Jesus became Godand I know of people who pass their lives trying to read them all, testifying unconsciously that ultimately it is really a question of faith more than of debates that have gone on for at least two-three thousand years. Unfortunately such "debates" meet the difficulties and impossibilities that I thoroughly consider in my article on Information as Debate, while in the case of religion and theology it only paradoxically increases the popularity and prestige of Dawkins as measured in a citation index. The problems of such intellectualization can be illustrated from the edition of the Philosophy of Freedom, considered to be "the fundamental philosophical work of the philosopher and esotericist Rudolf Steiner" with its main title translated once as Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path (1995, p. 148, 171, original italics):

A moral action "presupposes the capacity for moral intuitions. Whoever lacks the capacity to experience the particular ethical principle of each individual case will also never achieve truly individual willing"... 

"For those who understand how ideas are intuitively experienced as a kind of self-sufficient essence, it is clear that, when we cognize in the world of ideas, we live our way into something that is the same for all human beings; but that, when we borrow intuitions from that world of ideas for our acts of will, we individualize an element of the world through the same activity that we develop in the spiritual-conceptual process of cognition as something universally human."

I cannot refrain from comparing these and related sentences in the book with what Nicolas Berdyaev writes on freedom in his Dostoievsky: An Interpretation, (chap. 3, pp. 67-88), which I recommend for finding it more comprehensible and related to the matter in the present text, as well as to politics. Steiner's book is embedded in discutable and rather bombastic language of loose concepts of intuition, cognition, thought, feeling, spirit and spiritual world, etc. as well as in "para-Christian" speculations and "para-Christian" dogmas. For instance at the second paragraph of his  review of The God Delusion, Setzer writes (my emphasis in italics):

I am not a materialist, but I do not belong to any organized religion either. I admit, as a working hypothesis, that there are non-physical processes in the universe and in all living beings, that is, processes that cannot be reduced to physical ones. In fact, I consider every physical process a manifestation of a non-physical one. Having this spiritualist, monist point of view, I cannot belong to any religion because practically all of them are dogmatic, require faith or belief. Furthermore, they usually have rituals, and I don’t need or practice any. [...]

I stress that my position is to have working hypotheses, and not dogmas, faith or beliefs. Furthermore, religions are in general directed to feelings. I look for understanding through inner and outer observation, studying and reasoning. [...]

So, in summary, after referring further to his worldview, Setzer admits as working hypothesis, as if admitting were not uncommitted believing, and dogmas could not be considered to be millenary or centenary working hypotheses. And he considers processes from a spiritualist monist point of view. This he does as if "considering" were not uncommitted believing in a problematic "spirit" and "reasoning studies" of "inner observations" (introspection) but not in undefined "feelings", and as if organized religions could not be considered as points of view, whatever that means if non-Nietzschean views. Finally, he believes that he does not need faith or belief, despite of having just stated his uncommitted faith or beliefs. So, the main point seems to be is to avoid commitment, i.e. to join implicitly skepticism. As in a marriage ceremony wishing to delete "Till Death Do Us Part" as a preparation for divorce. Or as in a religious persecution, to avoid martyrdom for a "dogmatic faith".

When reading references to "spirit", for instance, I always am reminded of my absurd tour de force in trying to make meaning of my study of a book by Jacques Derrida, Of Spirit: Heidegger and the Question, (translation from the French original, 1987/1989) in order to compare it with Steiner's (also here). But keeping to the above quotations from the Philosophy of Freedom: what to do about e.g. the above citations, how to develop the capacity to experience, or of understanding, or of that to do when it is not clear? Or, when on the basis of the Philosophy of anthroposophers preach that people "should" or "must", as the so called Kantian categorical imperative does: who cares, and how many people care about Kant or, still less, about Steiner when they do not care about the immensely more influential Jesus Christ, Buddha, Muhammad or Confucius? Only if if a particular analytical gift for logic allows the atheist to construct a provisory logical fact net that is felt to be an (undefined) "argument", as evidenced by Churchman in his "Leibnizian inquiring systems", and is exemplified by the previously mentioned Setzer's review of the book The God Delusion. Churchman's expression "Leibnizian inquiring systems" is in honour of the intellectual giant Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), a pioneer of (among other fields) logic who is said to have tried to develop a logical language, Mathesis universalisin order to prevent human misunderstandings that lead to tragic wars such as the Thirty Years' War. (Refer to the present claims for man's understanding of the riddles of the universe and the need for a "super-intelligence".) 

Steiner's argumentative reconstruction of parts of the Western cultural heritage on the basis of spirit and intuition, allowed and allows advanced criticism of atheistic tenetsSuch tenets, however, are expressed under the claim, reiterated by Setzer, that it is not necessary to join or follow "organized religions" or any "Church". Nevertheless, in doing so the critic does not perceive that what is followed is an undefined and misunderstood "organized thinking", falling into the pitfalls that I considered in my essay on Information as Debate. Some help to organize our thoughts is to be obtained from Jung's repeated references to anthroposophy, such as (CW 10, p.83f. §169f.):

The spiritual currents of our time have, in fact, a deep affinity with Gnosticism. [...] The most impressive movement numerically is undoubtedly Theosophy, together with its continental sister, Anthroposophy; these are pure Gnosticism in Hindu dress.[...] The passionate interest in these movements undoubtedly arises from psychic energy which can no longer be invested in obsolete religious forms. For this reason such movements have a genuinely religious character, even when they pretend to be scientific. It changes nothing when Rudolf Steiner calls his Anthroposophy "spiritual science", or when Mrs. Eddy invents a "Christian Science." These attempts at concealment merely show that religion has grown suspect - almost as suspect as politics and world-reform.

All this problematizes religion itself but also refers us back to the earlier mentioned Pascal in his Pensées, on the intelligibility of the Christian religion: "Une réligion purement intellectuelle serait plus proportionnée aux habiles; mais elle ne servirait pas au peuple. La seule réligion chrètienne est proportionnée à tous..." (1949/1955, p. 161, §251 - "A purely intellectual religion would be more adequate to the skilful; but it would not serve the people. Only the Christian religion is adequate to all ..."). 

This insight was already expressed by Thomas Aquinas as noted by the political philosopher Eric Voegelin in his Autobiographical Reflections (chap. 24). Nevertheless Voegelin confesses that he does not know of any Christian thinker who ever discussed how this is possible (a religion adequate to all). I find that Jung's analytic psychology addresses and explains why and how this is possible. Voegelin, however, reveals that he himself has not read Jung, relying as he does on a doubtful authority of Henri Charles Pueh and Hedda Herwigs (chap. 17 and 21) in order to erroneously classifying and summarily condemning Jung as a gnostic. Therefore Voegelin writes inconsequentially (chap. 24) adducing and rightly condemning the failure of "existentialism", observing that originally existentialist Karl Jasper noted it and was forced to abandon "the language of existential order" in order to return to the "language of reason" (Vernunft). The latter is in my view what the ignored analytic psychology purports to solve. Voegelin also seems to reveal a theological naivity when he in his highflown bombastic language vainly searches for "what is the specific content of the Christian pneumatic differentiation, which transcends the noetic differentiations of Plato and Aristotle. This task was never done; the problem is hidden in the language of natural reason and of revelation." (My retranslation from the Portuguese translation, p. 161.)

Voegelin is interesting because he seems to offer an irreligious approach that beyond Eastern forms of Buddhism and "transrationality" is an (or the only?) alternative to the Steiner-anthroposophical one. In chapter 14 about ideology, in the aforementioned book, he reveals a surprising shallowness when he attributes the evil (exemplified by nazism and marxism) of apparently intelligent persons to "intellectual dishonesty", "alienation", and incompatibility with "science" in its "rational sense of critical analysis". Unethical murderous behavior is said to be caused by the game of conquering a pseudo-identity by affirming one's power as a substitute for the lost "human ego". The failure of Hegel (and I would mention Heidegger, both already condemned by Carl Jung) is based on wrong premises decurring from refusing to discuss the etiological argument of Aristotle, "that man's existence does not come from himself but the divine plan of reality". And Voegelin affirms this reference to divinity after assuring that he has neither ideological nor religious allegiances, lamenting only the influence of the "cultural degradation of the academic and intellectual universe." All this motivates the present text of mine.

I will not complicate matters by adducing, I only mention it, that Pascal's most famous and discussed intellectual argument against atheism, based on the concept of probability: the Pascal's Wager to which I refer readers: "Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell)." (The criticism directed against this argument, that it deals only with "feigned faith", deserves also careful critical attention for an understanding of what faith is.)

Besides the question of whether a religion is adequate to "all" there is the question of whether discussions or "debate" about religion and theology is adequate to all. The latter I do not believe is possible, as the reader may already have felt in the reading of many of the paragraphs above, as well will feel in the two paragraphs below this one. Neither Jesus Christ not other central figures of other world religions believed that all can and want emprehend theological disputations. On the contrary, I think that that a great true religion must rely on a language of "revelation" that happens to speak to human heart and reason as myth and ritual do, because of its universal truth, perhaps apprehended by a few apostles but subsequently obvious to many if not all. It has little to do with undefinable "intelligence", and follows in part from my already mentioned article on Information as Debate, a debate that subsequently may require "apostolic" intellectualization.

It is interesting to note a quite neglected message in the Bible about this, in the Ecclesiasticus/Sirach chapters 38:24ff. and 39:1ff. (edited for our modern "democratic" style). It contrasts so called intellectual vs. manual work, where manual can be understood in our modern times as material work or dealing with the material world in engineering, challenging the idea that such considerations that in part were respected in the foundations of universities about 1000 years ago, should, as religions, be updated and adapted to modern times. Here it comes in a slightly edited form for the purposes of a minimum of political correctness to be balanced against a necessary modesty and some opposite views that can be read in the Ecclesiastes' excerpts in my Research Summary, year 2012):

38:24 Scholars must have time to study if they are going to be wise; they must be relieved of other responsibilities. 25-27 How can a farm[er] gain knowledge when his [...] ambition is to drive the oxen and make them work [...] It is the same with the artist and the craftsman, who work night and day engraving precious stones, carefully working out new designs. They take great pains to produce a lifelike image, and will work far into the night to finish the work. It is the same with the blacksmith at his anvil, planning what he will make from a piece of iron [...] 29 It is the same with the potter, sitting at his wheel and turning it with his feet, always concentrating on his work, concerned with how many objects he can produce [...] 31 All of these people are skilled with their hands, each of them an expert at his own craft. 32 Without such people there could be no cities; no one would live or visit where these services were not available. 33 These people are not sought out to serve on the public councils... They do not serve as judges, and they do not understand legal matters [...] 34 But the work they do holds this world together. When they do their work, it is the same as offering prayer.

39:1 But it is different with the person who devotes himself to studying the Law of the Most High. He examines the wisdom of all the ancient writers [...] 2 He memorizes the sayings of famous men and is a skilled interpreter of parables. 3 He studies the hidden meaning of proverbs and is able to discuss the obscure points of parables. 4 Great people call on him for his services, and he is seen in the company of rulers. He travels to foreign lands in his efforts to learn about human good and evil. 5 It is his practice to get up early and pray aloud to the Lord his Creator, asking the Most High to forgive his sins. 6 Then, if the great Lord is willing, he will be filled with understanding. He will pour out a stream of wise sayings, and give thanks to the Lord in prayer. 7 He will have knowledge to share and good advice to give, as well as insight into the Lord's secrets. 8 He will demonstrate his learning in what he teaches, and his pride will be in the Lord's Law and covenant. 9 He will be widely praised for his wisdom, and it will never be lost, because people for generations to come will remember him. 10 The Gentiles will talk about his wisdom, and he will be praised aloud in the assembly. 11 If he lives to old age, he will die famous, but if he is laid to rest before he is famous, he will be content.

This exposition is to be compared with the ennoblement of manual work that characterizes the Marxist conceptualization of work in order to verify whether there are some motives for the development and application of technology for automation in general and computerization. The question has been object of extense theorizing as exemplified by Giulio Angioni's book (in Italian) Il Sapere della mano: Saggi di Antropologia del lavoro [The hand's knowledge: Essays on the Anthropology of Work, review in Italian here], and has been also object of Marxistic theorizing in the field of informatics under the title of Work-Oriented Design of Computer ArtifactsThere it was a question of relinquishing talk about "systems" in favor of emphasis on "design" trying a supposed ennoblement of manual work by or for enthusiastic acceptance of capitalistically driven higher technology. I find that in my earlier work I showed that there are many controversial intellectual, political, and religious implications that are related to the drive towards technology and automation, and further to artificial intelligence - AI, as suggested for older technology in some essays in Carl Mitcham & Jim Grote (eds.) Theology and Technology and in Mitcham's "Religion and Technology" in J.K. Berg Olsen et al. (eds.) in A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology.

Conclusion? It is not a question of thinking elite versus working proletariat, it is rather of a call to modesty in debates, the more so when matters get gradually more complicated because tasks were expected to become more simple and automated with a technology that strives mainly for comfort and profit (as considered above by Christer Sanne). The kind of sacrifice that may be required for writing this text is expounded by Plato in his Theaetetus (p. 879f., § 174a-d, in The Collected Dialogues of Plato) in the first quote below about Thales, whose meaning hopefully will not need to be completed by the second and last quote, from the Republic(§ 586a-b):

[...T]he story about the Thracian maidservant who exercised her wit at the expense of Thales, when he was looking up to study the stars and tumbled down a well. She scoffed at him for being so eager to know what was happening in the sky that he could not see what lay at his feet. Anyone who gives his life to philosophy is open to such mockery.[...T]he world has the laugh of the philosopher, partly because he seems arrogant, partly because his helpless ignorance in matters of daily life. 

The inexperienced in wisdom and virtue, ever occupied with feasting and such, are carried downward, and there, as is fitting, they wander their whole life long, neither ever looking upward to the truth above them nor rising toward it, nor tasting pure and lasting pleasures. Like cattle, always looking downward with their heads bent toward the ground and the banquet tables, they feed, fatten, and fornicate. In order to increase their possessions they kick and butt with horns and hoofs of steel and kill each other, insatiable as they are.