Goldilocks and Evidence for Christian Theism

Let me provide what I consider to be a significant piece of evidence for the truth of Christian theism.

It all begins with the Goldilocks Principle.  Wikipedia describes it as follows:

The Goldilocks principle is named by analogy to the children’s story, The Three Bears, in which a little girl named Goldilocks tastes three different bowls of porridge, and she finds that she prefers porridge which is neither too hot nor too cold, but has just the right temperature.[1] Since the children’s story is well known across cultures, the concept of “just the right amount” is easily understood and is easily applied to a wide range of disciplines, including developmental psychology, biology,[2] economics and engineering.

What fascinates me is how well the Goldilocks principle describes life.  Many are probably familiar with the use of the principle to detect other planets that could possibly support life:

In astrobiology, the Goldilocks zone refers to the habitable zone around a star. The Rare Earth Hypothesis uses the Goldilocks principle in the argument that a planet must neither be too far away from, nor too close to a star and galactic center to support life, while either extreme would result in a planet incapable of supporting life.   Such a planet is colloquially called a “Goldilocks Planet”.

Yet what is often overlooked is that Life itself is built around the principle.  In physiology, the central concept is something known as homeostasis.  The dictionary defines it as follows:

the tendency of a system, especially the physiological system of higher animals, to maintain internal stability, owing to the coordinated response of its parts to any situation or stimulus that would tend to disturb its normal condition or function.

The ability or tendency of an organism or a cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes.

Wikipedia defines it as:

Homeostasis is the property of a system within an organism in which a variable, such as the concentration of a substance in solution, is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant.[1] Examples of homeostasis include the regulation of body temperature, the pH of extracellular fluid, or the concentrations of sodium, potassium and calcium ions, as well as that of glucose in the blood plasma, despite changes in the environment, diet, or level of activity. Each of these variables is controlled by a separate regulator or homeostatic mechanism, which, together, maintain life.

Now note this – homeostasis, which is near the very essence of life, is basically the Goldilocks Principle.  Think of it this way – you don’t want your blood pressure to be too high.  But you also don’t want it to be too low.  The body is built to correct for each extreme.  The same would true for just about every aspect of your body.  Blood sugar?  Not too high and not too low.  Heart rate?  Not too high and not too low.  White blood cell count?  Not too high and not too low.  On and on it goes.  And it even extends into the very workings of your cells.  For example, there are rather clever mechanisms within your cells to ensure that the intracellular iron levels are not too high (which would generate toxic free radicals) but not too low (which would disable important metabolic enzymes).

In fact, a violation of the Goldilocks principle is typically linked to disease.  Eat too much and experience obesity.  Eat too little and experience malnutrition.  Put too much stress on a joint and watch it tear.  Put too little stress on a joint and watch it atrophy.  And when something goes wrong in the body?  It’s typically because the Goldilocks  principle has been disabled somewhere.  Too much thyroid hormone?  It could be Graves Disease.  Too little thyroid hormone?  Could be a goiter.

What I am pointing out here is not controversial; it is well known that homeostasis is a defining feature of life.  All I am adding is that homeostasis is essentially the same as the Goldilocks principle.

What does Christian theism have to do with any of this?

You can think of Christianity as one of Life’s expressions.  At the very least, it’s a set of beliefs and attitudes that livings beings, known as humans, possess and express.  And Christianity, I would argue, best reflects the Goldilocks principle.

I say this because we humans live in both a subjective and objective reality.  In the objective reality, we live among people that we cannot control or even truly know, since we have no direct contact with their subjective realities.  And of course, we live in a world that is controlled by the laws of Nature that care nothing for our subjective realities.  In the subjective reality ,it’s all about meaning.  Is some aspect of objective reality good?  Is it evidence?  Is it something that makes us happy?  Christianity helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync.  It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of God.   And since both realities are real, the Goldilocks principle can apply, preventing us from wandering too far in living with too much of the subjective or too much of the objective.

Too see this, think of atheism, a set of beliefs and attitudes, that cuts itself away from Christianity in the West.  When this break is made, what happens?   Atheism splinters into the two extremes that Christianity can avoid because of the way it is anchored.

When I look out at the world of atheism, I see two main factions that are anchored to one of the two extremes as a consequence of their God denialism.  One faction is built around scientism, an expression of taking objectivism to its extreme.   From this extreme, subjective reality is denied, as the so-called “God delusion” ultimately becomes delusions about morality and the “special” status of humans which then becomes delusions about free will and individuals as conscious agents.   This extreme then becomes pathological.   Serious thinkers from this school actually insist it is true that we have no free will, yet nevertheless have to admit that they are incapable of living this “truth.”  Despite the fact their philosophy is unlivable, they cling to it as true.  What’s more, they will eventually begin to argue that consciousness itself is a delusion.  The end point is the complete eradication of humans an individual agents and, along with that, the notion of individual rights.  The hive mentality will come to dominate, for the group becomes far more important than the individual, who simply becomes a cog in the machine acted on by impersonal forces.

The other faction of atheism is built around postmodernism, an expression of taking subjectivism to the extreme.  From this extreme, objective reality is denied, and historical, even scientific truths, are recast as “social constructs.”  This extreme becomes pathological, where feelings become truth.  If a woman wants to have a loving relationship with an inanimate object, then as long as it feels like she has one, she does.  What’s interesting about this form of subjectivism is that these subjective “truths” are “validated” through group think.  As such, this faction of atheism reinforces tribalism, such that if enough tribes get together to declare something as true, it becomes truth.  After all, truth is a social construct.   So in its own way, this version of atheism also culminates in the hive mentality, where individuals derive their worth solely from the tribe they represent and individual rights, divorced from the tribe, are non-existent.

As a consequence of denying the existence of God, atheists find themselves being sucked into the deep extremes of either subjectivism or objectivism.  We see it play out every day.  As a Christian theist, I find myself in the middle, anchored to both objective and subjective reality.  And I consider this evidence for the truth of Christian theism, a belief system that echoes the manner in which life itself is built around the Goldliocks Principle.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Christianity, evidence, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Goldilocks and Evidence for Christian Theism

  1. hikayamasan353 says:

    I believe that the universe simply TEEMS with life. Earth isn’t the only planet in the Goldilocks zone. The space probes have discovered a lot of such planets. And while Goldilocks zone is necessary for protein/carbon/water-based organic lifeforms, there still might be lifeforms based on other chemicals, and synthetic lifeforms (robots?).

  2. Regual Llegna says:

    – Fix the title: Christian Theism to Christian Eutheism.
    – Atheists use many arguments in favor of maltheism and dystheism beliefs because they know that a christian would never believe or worship a god who is not essentially good. A evil or moraly relative god is not the God that a christian believe, besides a christian never tell another christian that he or she is a theist (miso-,auto-,dys-,mal-,a-,anti-,etc.; too vague) and since a christian will never believe in God as evil or “neutral” then eutheism is the accurate name for their belief, included in their concept of what God is.

  3. David Robertson says:

    Really fascinating piece, finding balance in things is I guess another way to put the Goldilocks approach. I’d never thought about it in the sense of finding a balance between objective and subjective reality. Reading this, therefore, gave me one of those “aha” moments. I personally am very fond of finding balance in all things, thinking its quite a good way to see the world and live in it.

    If you’ve ever read much into Eastern religions like Buddhism and Taoism, you’ll find a similar fondness for the Goldilocks principle, especially in the Buddha’s Middle Way, and the concepts of equanimity and the yin and yang principle. Being someone who searches for the underlying truths of religions around the world, I’m glad to see Christianity too expresses this “Goldilocks principle” in some form.

    All the best, and again, a great read.

  4. A Silva says:

    You don’t appear to be using the term postmodernism in the manner it is broadly understood. It would seem that realism versus anti-realism is closer to the dichotomy you describe. I would suggest reading the articles on these terms in Stanford’s online encyclopedia (SEP). A nice article on postmodernism was recently published here, contrasting postmodernism with modernism and traditionalism.

    It is difficult to see the justification for statements such as “…anchoring both realities to the reality of God.” One way to get a sense of the problem is to replace “God” with something else, to wit:

    Quetzalcoatlism helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync. It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of Quetzalcoatl.

    Now try it with a term from quantum mysticism, and you obtain the kind of gibberish that flows from Deepak Chopra. It’s what Dennett calls a “deepity”—something that sounds profound but, upon examination, may not even have a coherent meaning.

  5. TFBW says:

    Now try it with a term from quantum mysticism, and you obtain the kind of gibberish that flows from Deepak Chopra.

    Astounding! If you replace meaningful words with terms from quantum mysticism, you obtain gibberish! So don’t do that, I guess.

  6. A Silva says:

    If that was meant as a serious response, and I cannot be sure that it was, then it misses the point in at least two ways. First, this is about replacing a single term, not terms. For instance,

    Superconsciousness helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync. It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of superconsciousness.

    Second, and more importantly, the purpose of the word substitution is to help recognize that nothing has been entailed by just invoking the thing/entity. How does invoking this thing/entity grant what is claimed? Using a different word helps us recognize the underlying deepity.

    Getting back to the Miller article to which I linked, the position espoused on this blog is essentially traditionalism, as defined in the article. But traditionalism is not the only alternative to postmodernism. The other is modernism, as defined in the article.

  7. pennywit says:

    One faction is built around scientism, an expression of taking objectivism to its extreme.

    Nitpick: Objectivity, not objectivism. Ms. Rand’s philosophy is not necessarily objective.

  8. TFBW says:

    First, this is about replacing a single term, not terms.

    An observation which does not impact mine in the slightest: take away meaningful term, replace with meaningless term; result is less meaningful if not completely meaningless. Bravo. Proves nothing. Take any of your own sentences and see how it suffers under the same treatment. No better, right? Your magic is all hat and no rabbit.

    Beyond that, I’d rather see how Michael decides to address your remarks. I’ll get popcorn.

  9. Michael says:

    You don’t appear to be using the term postmodernism in the manner it is broadly understood.

    From your link:

    “Postmodernists,” he says, “eschew any notion of objectivity, perceiving knowledge as a construct of power differentials.” That’s as good a short summary as any

    Yep, that’s how I’m using it.

    It is difficult to see the justification for statements such as “…anchoring both realities to the reality of God.”

    Then you should have read beyond that:

    Christianity helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync. It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of God. And since both realities are real, the Goldilocks principle can apply, preventing us from wandering too far in living with too much of the subjective or too much of the objective.

    Too see this, think of atheism, a set of beliefs and attitudes, that cuts itself away from Christianity in the West. When this break is made, what happens? Atheism splinters into the two extremes that Christianity can avoid because of the way it is anchored.

    You wrote:

    One way to get a sense of the problem is to replace “God” with something else, to wit:
    Quetzalcoatlism helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync. It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of Quetzalcoatl.

    The sense I get is that you are trying to make a mountain out of a tiny molehill.

    So I did as you said and replaced “God” with something else……and I don’t see the equivalence:

    I see two main factions that are anchored to one of the two extremes as a consequence of their Quetzalcoatl denialism……As a consequence of denying the existence of Quetzalcoatl, aQuetzalcoatlists find themselves being sucked into the deep extremes of either subjectivism or objectivism.

    Now try it with a term from quantum mysticism, and you obtain the kind of gibberish that flows from Deepak Chopra. It’s what Dennett calls a “deepity”—something that sounds profound but, upon examination, may not even have a coherent meaning.

    Are you under the impression that if it doesn’t have coherent meaning to you, it does not have a coherent meaning? If you are going to appeal to coherency, you are appealing to a subjective reality.

    Look, I intended nothing “profound.” It’s actually more toward the pragmatic dimension. I’m not a religious person, nor am I embedded in any religious community. So what keeps me from drfiting toward the seductive extremes of the objective or subjective? My Christian theism. What allows me to recognize the freakish pathology of the extremes of objectivism and subjectivism, when so many people are drawn to them like moths to a fire? My Christian theism.

  10. Michael says:

    Getting back to the Miller article to which I linked, the position espoused on this blog is essentially traditionalism, as defined in the article.

    Huh? So how does the article define “traditionalism?”

    The traditionalists, he writes, “do not like the direction in which modernity is headed, and so are looking to go back to an earlier time when they believe society was better.” Whether they oppose changes to sexual mores or American demographics, Aaron adds, “these folks include typical status-quo conservatives, Evangelical Christians as well as more nefarious types such as white nationalists and the ‘alt right’.”
    When these traditionalists talk about the future, they suspend their intellects, projecting onto it the past—and more often than not, an imaginary version of the past.4 Make America Great … again?

    I see. So based on his simple-minded stereotypes, A Silva decides to lob a sneaky and nasty ad hominem my way. Years of experience have taught me that people cling to their stereotypes and interact only to serve the needs of their confirmation bias. Well, it’s a crappy day for me so A Silva picked the wrong place and time to sneak in his personal attack.

    Good bye A Silva.

  11. Julian says:

    And good riddance

  12. Allallt says:

    Errr…
    (1) The Golidlocks principle is a thing
    (2) Homeostasis is a special type of Goldilocks principle
    (3) Christian theism is also a type of Goldilocks principle
    (4) Atheists — without Christian theism — resort to extremes i.e. a violation of the Goldilock principle.
    (5) Therefore Christian theism is true.

    Is that the argument you are presenting? I don’t see how anything you’ve written is evidence of Christian theism. It’s a criticism of atheists (not even atheism).

    I don’t get it.

  13. Ilíon says:

    Allallt: “… (4) Atheists — without Christian theism — resort to extremes i.e. a violation of the Goldilock principle.
    (5) Therefore Christian theism is true.

    Michael can correct me, but I think his argument is more

    (4) Atheists — [with their by-definition God-denial] — resort to extremes i.e. a violation of the Goldilock principle.

    (5) Therefore [God-denial] is [false/contrary with respect to life as it is actually lived].

  14. Isaac says:

    –“Therefore Christian theism is true.”

    Allallt, where does this article say that it is setting out to prove Christian theism true? I am a literate adult and I could have sworn that the opening sentence was, “Let me provide what I consider to be a significant piece of evidence for the truth of Christian theism.”

    If Christian theism provides a more practical and better lens by which to perceive and interact with the world, then that’s a significant piece of evidence for its truth.

    –“I don’t see how anything you’ve written is evidence of Christian theism. It’s a criticism of atheists (not even atheism.)”

    If Group A claims to have a superior worldview in every way to Group B, to the point of wanting to essentially ban Group B’s worldview from public life…and Group B turns out to be much more well-adjusted in just about every category than Group A, to the point that members of Group A are starting to gain a reputation for mowing down members of Group B with AR-15s out of pure hatred born of utter failure…then I’d say that THAT, while not conclusive, is a significant piece of evidence.

    Allallt, for how long have you been arguing against the posts on this blog? Why haven’t you gotten better at it?

  15. Ilíon says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how refined a capacity for missing the point God-deniers have. Hell! even the title of this piece says that it is *evidence* in support of “Christian Theism” — or, to put it the other way, that is is being presented as evidence *against* God-denialism — not that the piece is an argument that Christianity presents the correct understanding of the reality of God.

    But then, no one really cares about any of the other “theisms” which are not grounded in the Judeo-Christian scriptures. So, of course, “atheists” must see *everything* pointing out the multi-level flaws of God-denialism as concluding not with “ERGO, God is”, but rather, “ERGO, Christianity alone has The Truth about God and our relationship to him” … which exceeds the claims Christianity makes of itself.

  16. Michael says:

    Nitpick: Objectivity, not objectivism. Ms. Rand’s philosophy is not necessarily objective.

    I’ve been aware of Rand and the objectivists since college days. But I’m not willing to cede the word to a cult-like group that is still not on most people’s radar.

  17. Michael says:

    Errr…
    (1) The Golidlocks principle is a thing
    (2) Homeostasis is a special type of Goldilocks principle

    Biologists have been studying life for a long time, yet there remains no good definition of life. The best definitions I have seen center around homeostasis. So I am of the opinion that the essence of life centers around homeostasis/Goldilocks principle/balance.

    (3) Christian theism is also a type of Goldilocks principle

    As I wrote:

    Christianity helps us to balance and even merge these two realities so that are in sync. It does this by anchoring both realities to the reality of God. And since both realities are real, the Goldilocks principle can apply, preventing us from wandering too far in living with too much of the subjective or too much of the objective.

    I merely speak from experience.

    (4) Atheists — without Christian theism — resort to extremes i.e. a violation of the Goldilock principle.

    Indeed. Here I am relaying my observations. This blog has probably hundreds of postings that highlight the two extremes.

    (5) Therefore Christian theism is true.

    There is no “therefore.” I’m simply relaying what I consider as evidence of Christian theism. It best helps us achieve balance between the two extremes of the subjective and the objective.

    As Isaac noted, “Allallt, where does this article say that it is setting out to prove Christian theism true? I am a literate adult and I could have sworn that the opening sentence was, “Let me provide what I consider to be a significant piece of evidence for the truth of Christian theism.” Or as Ilion noted, ” It never ceases to amaze me how refined a capacity for missing the point God-deniers have. Hell! even the title of this piece says that it is *evidence* in support of “Christian Theism” — or, to put it the other way, that is is being presented as evidence *against* God-denialism — not that the piece is an argument that Christianity presents the correct understanding of the reality of God.”

    Is that the argument you are presenting? I don’t see how anything you’ve written is evidence of Christian theism.

    Well, it is the very first time I have actually tried to articulate something I have seen for a long time, so it will probably take several more tries to make it more clear to others. Let me try it again by first quoting part of my response to A Silva:

    I’m not a religious person, nor am I embedded in any religious community. So what keeps me from drifting toward the seductive extremes of the objective or subjective? My Christian theism. What allows me to recognize the freakish pathology of the extremes of objectivism and subjectivism, when so many people are drawn to them like moths to a fire? My Christian theism.

    I myself recognize the seductive elements of objectivism and subjectivism, as there is some truth in both extremes. Some truth. But since I am tethered to reality of both the subjective and objective, due to my Christian theism, I don’t get sucked into the freakish extremes. The tethering holds me back, enabling me to achieve a balance. And balance is at the heart of what life is. So my Christian theism puts me in sync with the essence of life. And I consider that evidence of its truth.

    It’s a criticism of atheists (not even atheism).

    Of course atheists are the vehicles for expressing atheism. And it’s not difficult to see how atheism itself, the denial of God’s existence, is coupled to the extremes of both the objective and subjective. Which would explain why the primary champions of the freakish extremes come from a world view that denies the truth of Christian theism.

  18. Allallt says:

    @Isaac
    At no point does Michael provide any evidence for anything that even touches the truth of Christian theism. No where. So, we can argue about whether Michael’s proclaimed goal was to give a line of reasoning that leads to ‘Therefore Christian theism is true’ or if he was merely presenting some modal argument that ends in ‘Therefore Christian theism is more likely to be true’ all we want, the point is Michael gets no where near either.
    More importantly, the comment you are getting all snooty about was me checking I’ve understood the argument. Your ‘holier-than-thou’ response isn’t helping.
    I would also guess that Michael would reject your interpretation of his post: I don’t think Michael would agree that the likelihood of Christian theism is increased by whether it is “more practical”. That sounds like a postmodernist argument to me (i.e. there is no truth, there is what is practical). But, hey, maybe I’m wrong.
    Your idea that the behaviour of Group A has some impact on the truth of Idea A also seems like a long stretch from anything resembling an attempt at truth. I, for example, am both a bit of an ass and I believe the Earth is approximately spherical. Behaviour B does not affect Claim C. The approximation of the Earth as a sphere is not made more or less wrong by the fact I am an ass. And no number of ass-behaving Round-Earth-theorists suddenly makes there a relationship there.
    To be clear, I do not mean to say it’s very weak evidence. I mean to say it’s completely irrelevant. It is no evidence.
    @Ilion
    “[L]ife as it is actually lived” is not a synonym for “true” or “rational epistemology”. Therefore, “contrary with respect to life as it is actually lived” is not the same as “false” or “irrational”.
    And “God-denial” can’t be false, as it’s an action. If Michael were to demonstrate that the claim “no God exists” were irrational (which he probably can, but not what he has done here), that still doesn’t make the claim “God exists” rational, and certainly doesn’t start to point at Christian theism.
    So, even if Michael’s post were as you understood it, it doesn’t actually get you anywhere.
    @Michael
    It’s probably not worth nitpicking how the Goldilocks principle is about things happening to fall within a moderate place, and homeostasis is about the active regulation of things to a moderate place. It’s probably also not worth nitpicking about how there are other features included in the definition of life, like an entropy increasing metabolism and the intake of resources. Because all of that, I think, is irrelevant.
    What I wonder is how you are not falling foul of postmodernism yourself, by trying to argue that “truth” is somehow related to whether you agree with the behaviours you think the claim inspires.
    I mean this is a completely Devil’s-Advocate kind of way: even if I accept it is generally true that atheists fall foul of either scientism or postmodernism, and true that Christians have a moderate and rational epistemology at a rate higher than the general population (although, I accept neither claim), what does that have to do with the truth of either position?
    The validity of the claim isn’t affected by the worldview or behaviour of the people accepting that claim, no matter how extreme one makes the behaviour and worldview. If all atheists murdered children, every month, because they thought the full moon had special powers, how would that affect the rationality of the position of not accepting a God exists? How is it not exactly an ad hominem to say the validity of a position rests on the behaviour of the person making a claim? “He’s succumb to scientism, so his claim that the Earth is, on average, curved can be ignored ― wait, not just ignored, but the complete opposite can be assumed!” That’s not a rational argument. Although, it is what you are doing here: atheists have extreme epistemologies ― scientism or postmodernism ― and therefore the opposite of what they say can be assumed.
    I’m surprised to see you quote Ilion’s suggestion that ‘evidence for Christian theism’ is somehow identical to ‘evidence against God-denial’. That’s patently absurd. Even evidence against ‘there is no God’ doesn’t get you to ‘there is a God’; there’s a pesky default position. But, even so, evidence for theism is not necessarily evidence for Christian theism.
    I’m more surprised still to see that I am apparently at fault for assuming what you said would be evidence for Christian theism would actually present evidence for Christian theism. The point in my initial comment was that if I take your points together, and try to form a syllogism with them, nothing happens. You make no claims that affect the evaluation truth, unless you take some tribal stance on truth; some postmodernist ‘true for me, because I don’t like the other side’ position on truth. And yet, that’s the very thing you claim to be avoiding.
    My challenge to you is to turn this argument into some sort of syllogism. I think trying to formalise your argument will reveal to you that the argument doesn’t actually lead anywhere or support anything.

  19. TFBW says:

    At no point does Michael provide any evidence for anything that even touches the truth of Christian theism. No where.

    Remind us, Allallt, what sort of thing you would accept as evidence for the truth of Christian theism.

  20. Allallt says:

    @TFBW
    I don’t know. Present something.

  21. TFBW says:

    @Allallt: if you don’t know, then how do you know that what has been presented so far isn’t evidence? You can’t just dismiss things on a case by case basis — that would be indistinguishable from dogmatism. If you are rejecting the evidence in a principled (rather than dogmatic) manner, then tell us what that principle is so that we can see if any known evidence or argument qualifies under it.

  22. Michael says:

    It’s probably not worth nitpicking how the Goldilocks principle is about things happening to fall within a moderate place, and homeostasis is about the active regulation of things to a moderate place.

    Yes, life is a system that reflects the Goldilocks principle.

    It’s probably also not worth nitpicking about how there are other features included in the definition of life, like an entropy increasing metabolism and the intake of resources.

    Yes, there are several other features of life, but homeostasis gets us closest to the logic of life.

    Because all of that, I think, is irrelevant.

    I don’t think so, given that the core of my point is that Christian theism likewise reflects the Goldilocks principle with regard to objective and subjective realities experienced by life forms known as human beings.

    What I wonder is how you are not falling foul of postmodernism yourself, by trying to argue that “truth” is somehow related to whether you agree with the behaviours you think the claim inspires.

    No, I see “truth” as being in sync with the Goldilocks principle/life. And perceptions of objective and subjective realities are not some “behavior.” They are core parts of awareness that have profound ripple effects. My Christian theism keeps me tethered to both subjective and objective realities. It allows for a both/and approach that prevents me from being sucked into the freakish extremes of the objectivists and subjectivists. Atheism has no such anchor and thus tends to lead to an either/or approach. Unable to maintain a homeostatic balance, it reminds me of pathology.

    I mean this is a completely Devil’s-Advocate kind of way: even if I accept it is generally true that atheists fall foul of either scientism or postmodernism, and true that Christians have a moderate and rational epistemology at a rate higher than the general population (although, I accept neither claim), what does that have to do with the truth of either position?

    I suppose it depends on whether someone thinks balance is a hallmark of Truth and whether you think “big picture” Truths about us should be in sync with the Goldilocks principle/life.

    The validity of the claim isn’t affected by the worldview or behaviour of the people accepting that claim, no matter how extreme one makes the behaviour and worldview.

    Yet the freakishness of the claims results from an inability to maintain a balanced approach. It’s the inability to maintain this balanced approach that catches my eye.

    I’m more surprised still to see that I am apparently at fault for assuming what you said would be evidence for Christian theism would actually present evidence for Christian theism.

    But I did. Yet your inability to see it MUST means it’s not there, right?

    Your sense of absolute certainty on these matters is unmistakable:

    At no point does Michael provide any evidence for anything that even touches the truth of Christian theism. No where……To be clear, I do not mean to say it’s very weak evidence. I mean to say it’s completely irrelevant. It is no evidence.

    Yet how do you know this? A common problem of the objectivists is they tend to confuse their own opinions with objective reality.

    The point in my initial comment was that if I take your points together, and try to form a syllogism with them, nothing happens.

    So you think we can determine the truth of Christian theism (or any other world view) with a……syllogism?? That’s strikes me as both naive and ham-handed. I think the best we can do is gather clues and evidence that can point us in one direction or another.

  23. Allallt says:

    @TFBW – Sorry, do you mean evidence in general or evidence for Christian theism? Evidence in general, I think, is an artefact from reality from which a sensible defence of a claim can be made.
    Sensible, here, alludes to the following of logical and rational rules, like being a part of an inductive or deductive argument, for example.
    That is not what Michael as presented. In any fashion. However, I am open to discussing other definitions of evidence and why this fits those…

  24. Allallt says:

    Okay, so here it becomes quite important to point out a few big holes in your approach:
    (1) The law of excluded middle — one of the classic laws of thought — would seem to cut against the idea that a moderated approach is necessarily the correct one.
    (2) Homeostasis is not a type of Goldilocks principle. Homeostasis is about active regulation. The Goldilocks principle is about preferring things that happen to be in moderate environments.
    (3) A thing is not truth just because it has a literary or structural analogy the processes of life.
    (4) If your clues and evidence can’t be put into a syllogism that leads towards the claim you want to make, then I can’t see how it can be evidence.
    (5) You’re not actually defending anything here. Instead, you are simply asserting that I am confusing my opinions with facts, but you’re not explaining why you think that is the case; you are claiming to have presented evidence that I can’t see, but you’re not actually explaining how anything here is evidence; you assert that ‘being in sync with the Goldilocks principle’ is a hallmark of Truth, despite its appearance of being a postmodernist claims of simply wanting truth to look a certain way, but don’t explain (instead, you literally say “I suppose it depends on whether someone thinks balance is a hallmark of Truth” — which sounds postmodern to me).
    (6) You are continuing to confuse atheism with the denial of God.
    (7) You are continuing to confuse ‘this person is a postmodernist’ with ‘this person is wrong’.
    (8) You prefer throwing labels around as opposed to engaging in an actual conversation. I have only a passing familiarity with Ayn Rand, but I don’t consider myself an objectivist. I do, however, require evidence that meets a standard before accepting a claim.

    You don’t seem to have made any particular developments over my summary of your argument. I made that summary to try and include the points without all the obfuscation of conversational language. Reduced to its points, it clearly isn’t evidence or clues for anything. So, help me out here: where did I go wrong?

  25. Michael says:

    Okay, so here it becomes quite important to point out a few big holes in your approach:

    You are not “pointing out” holes. For that begs in the question in assuming they are real. You are expressing your perceptions – you yourself see “holes.”

    (1) The law of excluded middle — one of the classic laws of thought — would seem to cut against the idea that a moderated approach is necessarily the correct one.

    Bad start. For someone who postures as if he follows “logical and rational rules,” you are quick to violate them by arguing against a straw man (a common fallacy). I have not argued a moderated approach is necessarily the correct one. You slipped the N-word in there. The law of excluded middle simply means that the extreme positions of atheist thinkers are either true or not. It doesn’t mean I have to pick and choose one of the extremes.

    I see no hole.

    (2) Homeostasis is not a type of Goldilocks principle. Homeostasis is about active regulation. The Goldilocks principle is about preferring things that happen to be in moderate environments.

    You should have read what I wrote: “What I am pointing out here is not controversial; it is well known that homeostasis is a defining feature of life. All I am adding is that homeostasis is essentially the same as the Goldilocks principle.”

    Homeostasis is about active regulation in accord with the Goldilocks principle. This is precisely why homeostasis is built around negative feedback.

    I see no hole.

    (3) A thing is not truth just because it has a literary or structural analogy the processes of life.

    More straw man. I never said “just because.” I never claimed a thing “is truth.” What I raise are signs, indicators, clues. Homeostasis is not just one of many features of life. It gets is close to the definition of what life is. It gets us very close to biotic reality. That Christian theism does a better job of reflecting this biotic reality than atheism is a clue that it is closer to the truth. Of course, if you need proofs or “strong arguments,” clues tend to go undetected.

    I see no hole.

    (4) If your clues and evidence can’t be put into a syllogism that leads towards the claim you want to make, then I can’t see how it can be evidence.

    If being in sync with the Goldilocks principle is a sign of Truth (=what is), and Christian theism does a better job of being in sync with the Goldilocks principle than atheism when it comes our core awareness, then Christian theism has a sign of Truth.

    I see no hole.

    (5) You’re not actually defending anything here. Instead, you are simply asserting that I am confusing my opinions with facts, but you’re not explaining why you think that is the case; you are claiming to have presented evidence that I can’t see, but you’re not actually explaining how anything here is evidence; you assert that ‘being in sync with the Goldilocks principle’ is a hallmark of Truth, despite its appearance of being a postmodernist claims of simply wanting truth to look a certain way, but don’t explain (instead, you literally say “I suppose it depends on whether someone thinks balance is a hallmark of Truth” — which sounds postmodern to me).

    See? This is what happens when you get sucked into the extremes. You seem to be arguing that I sound postmodern, therefore I am wrong. But as one who is tethered by Christian theism, I can acknowledge when the postmodernists have a valid point. Being tethered allows me to acknowledge this without being sucked in the vortex of their extreme craziness. But since you are not tethered, you feel the need to steer as far as possible from their claims, to the point where labeling my approach as postmodern is supposed to count against it.

    Many times over the years, I have explained the subjective dimension to evidence. Here’s just one example:

    As we have seen, there is a subjective aspect to evidence. This follows from the simple fact that evidence is conceived rather than sensed. We cannot measure “evidence.” We measure data and transform data into evidence with the act of thinking. In other words, evidence comes into existence only when the mind interprets data that are sensed. Given the existence of evidence depends on the subjective act of interpretation, it cannot escape its subjective aspect. Now, this does not mean evidence is entirely subjective. For its existence also depends on the data that are sensed. Thus recognizing the subjective aspect of evidence does not commit us to some full-blown, post-modern denial of objective reality. But it does mean that evidence is not some objective criterion that can decide an issue of dispute. Disputes are only resolved when a) data exist to be interpreted as evidence AND b) all minds agree to interpret the data similarly. We deceive ourselves if we treat evidence as an objective criterion.
    I trust that we have all seen the subjective aspect of evidence play out before our eyes. We have seen examples where two or more people can sense the same data, yet interpret it differently. For one person, the data are transformed into evidence as a function of their background beliefs and expectations. Yet since the other person does not share this subjective reality, they do not view the same data as evidence. So you see, evidence depends on the context that is supplied by the mind. Evidence is context-dependent. And given that evidence is context-dependent, it, alone, cannot decide between contexts.

    I’m simply noting that when you assert things like “it clearly isn’t evidence or clues for anything” or “At no point does Michael provide any evidence for anything that even touches the truth of Christian theism. No where” or “To be clear, I do not mean to say it’s very weak evidence. I mean to say it’s completely irrelevant. It is no evidence,” you are expressing your opinions that are a function of your perceptions. That doesn’t mean they are wrong. It simply means that are not factual and I am under no rational obligation to agree.

    But then something else is likely to be unconsciously added. Since you are so sure “it is no evidence,” yet I see it as evidence, you likely come away with the impression that I am not that bright and/or fullblown delusional. This will then color how you interpret my future words and even how you remember my original points (explaining your tendency to turn my points in straw men). You don’t seem to be aware of just how twisted up this extreme notion of having insight into objective reality can be.

    I see no hole.

    (6) You are continuing to confuse atheism with the denial of God.

    This sounds like a distinction without a difference. Whether or not atheists actively deny the existence of God (like these activists) or take the “lack of God belief” approach, the end result is the same – there is nothing to tether them to both objective and subjectivity reality. That’s why the “lack of belief” position doesn’t immunize atheists from the extremism of scientism or postmodernism. All you seem to need is just a outlook on reality that doesn’t involve notions of God.

    I don’t see a hole here.

    (7) You are continuing to confuse ‘this person is a postmodernist’ with ‘this person is wrong’.

    Here, I think you are projecting (see your #5). I don’t think determinism is wrong because it emerges from scientism nor do I think relationships with toasters are delusional because it emerges from postmodernism.

    I don’t see a hole.

    (8) You prefer throwing labels around as opposed to engaging in an actual conversation. I have only a passing familiarity with Ayn Rand, but I don’t consider myself an objectivist. I do, however, require evidence that meets a standard before accepting a claim.

    I’m sorry, but you don’t strike me as one interested in engaging in an actual conversation. You come across as a) someone who encountered an argument from the first time and b) went into “debunking” overdrive to trying to throw everything including the kitchen sink at me.

    You don’t seem to have made any particular developments over my summary of your argument.

    Those are the impression I would expect from a Sam Harris fan. But remember, when TFBW asked you what you would count as evidence for Christian theism, you were completely and totally stumped. It looks like you have never given much thought to this issue apart from a HyperSkeptical mode (called disconfirmation bias).

    I made that summary to try and include the points without all the obfuscation of conversational language. Reduced to its points, it clearly isn’t evidence or clues for anything.

    That’s how you see it. It may be clear to you, but what is clear to me as that the holes you claim to see are not there.

    So, help me out here: where did I go wrong?

    Explained above.

  26. Allallt says:

    Why would being in sync with the Goldilocks principle be a sign of truth?

  27. Ilíon says:

    Until a God-denier, whether he pretends to be an atheist or an agnostic, acknowledges that God is (that is, unless he ceases to be a God-denier), there is no point in trying to discuss, much less argue, points of Christian theology wih him. In fact, there is no point in trying to argue *anything* with a God-denier, for they are willfully irrational, and inded intellectually dishonest, and therefore they will *always* retreat into irrationality when pressed.

    “Arguing”, by which I mean “squabbling about”, points of Christian theology is a tactic God-deniers use to deflect attention away from their own irrationality and intellectual dishonesty.

  28. Allallt says:

    @Ilion – This isn’t a discussion about Christian Theology. This is a discussion about “truth”.

  29. TFBW says:

    @Allallt:

    Sorry, do you mean evidence in general or evidence for Christian theism?

    If there’s a distinction, then I mean evidence for Christian theism, since that’s the topic at hand.

    Sensible, here, alludes to the following of logical and rational rules, like being a part of an inductive or deductive argument, for example.

    So what kind of evidence and arguments could reasonably reach the conclusion (or suggest the likelihood in the case of an inductive argument) that Christian theism is true? Perhaps you could give an example working from counter-factual premises so that the example is at least valid but not sound. Perhaps you can imagine something that would count as evidence if it existed, but doesn’t exist as far as you know. Please elaborate.

  30. Ilíon says:

    …. as though one can discuss truth with someone who is worse (*) than a liar.

    (*) A liar lies about some fact or other, an intellectually dishonest person lies about the very nature of truth.

  31. Michael says:

    Why would being in sync with the Goldilocks principle be a sign of truth?

    What is truth? Truth is what is. By being in sync with the Goldilocks principle, you are in sync with what is. You are in sync with the very way life itself works.

    And what happens when you are out of sync with the Goldilocks principle? For life, the result is pathology. Which is what I essentially see when it comes to the freakish extremes of subjectivity and objectivity enabled by atheism. I don’t consider scientism/determinism and postmodernism merely wrong or misguided. They are freakishly wrong. For cripes sake, they are unlivable.

    To me, these are signs. Like I mentioned earlier, this is the very first time I have tried to articulate this. I’m sure over the following months, I will expand on this theme some more, as my brain works more like a slow-cooking crockpot.

  32. Ilíon says:

    Allallt:Why would being in sync with the Goldilocks principle be a sign of truth?

    This question is a good example of the intellectual dishonesty of ‘atheists’, which I may have mentioned a time or two. It’s a good example because Michael is presenting an argument that is very popular amongst ‘atheists’ … but with the terms changed and without the question-begging and invalid conflation that the ‘atheists’ incorporate into it when they present it.

  33. Ilíon says:

    Michael:What is truth? Truth is what is.

    I’m going to have to disagree.

    The term ‘truth’ does not refer to “what is”, but rather it refers to statements/propositions that are in accord with “what is”.

    God-denial *requires* one to make statements that are observably at discord with “what is”, such as, “There is no such thing as free will” or “There is no such thing as right or wrong” or “No one is morally responsible for his criminal acts” or “Consciousness is a delusion” and on and on and on.

    God-denial is an absurdity generator.

    This is one of the ways that we can know — without possibility of being in error — that God-denial is a false view of “what is”.

  34. Allallt says:

    @Ilion – Enjoy the bubble that makes for you. Can’t discuss theology with anyone who disagrees with you, and can’t discuss “truth” with anyone who disagrees with you… all because your view on both is robust and accurate, right?

  35. Allallt says:

    Well, I’m trying to help.

    Truth is ‘what is’. Fine, I’ll accept that for now.

    The Goldilocks principle is not ‘what is’. It’s what’s supportive of live. Mars isn’t in the Goldilocks zone, but it still ‘is’. There’s no ‘Goldilocks’ definition of Hoyle’s gas laws or Hubble’s laws; there’s no ‘Goldilocks’ definition of the laws of thought (also called ‘laws of logic’). There doesn’t seem to be any relationship between truth and narrative similarity to ‘The Goldilocks Principle’.

    Just because you see scientism and postmodernism as wrong, doesn’t mean the middle ground is correct. And, you haven’t provided any reason why it would be, you’ve simply asserted that (as you see it) the two extreme are wrong. Well, so what?

  36. Allallt says:

    And there it is, the critical point at which I remember it’s not worth having the conversation with you.
    No, God denial does not require those things. And we’re now diverting a very long way from the original topic at hand.

  37. Michael says:

    The Goldilocks principle is not ‘what is’.

    Are you saying it’s not true? I think you are confusing “what is” with “all that is.”

    It’s what’s supportive of live.

    It’s more than that; it’s close to the essence of life.

    Mars isn’t in the Goldilocks zone, but it still ‘is’. There’s no ‘Goldilocks’ definition of Hoyle’s gas laws or Hubble’s laws; there’s no ‘Goldilocks’ definition of the laws of thought (also called ‘laws of logic’). There doesn’t seem to be any relationship between truth and narrative similarity to ‘The Goldilocks Principle’.

    Look at it this way. Even from your atheistic/materialistic perspective, awareness and the “laws of logic” and “arguments” are just brain states. They are expressions of biology. So it is certainly worth note that Christian theism, nothing more than a brain state from your perspective, is in sync with the very essence of biology. And what’s really neat is that no one aimed for this. It’s not like Christian theists tried to come up with a belief system that would steer clear of the extremes of objectivity and subjectivity. It’s just part of the essence of Christian theism.

    Just because you see scientism and postmodernism as wrong, doesn’t mean the middle ground is correct.

    I know that.

    And, you haven’t provided any reason why it would be, you’ve simply asserted that (as you see it) the two extreme are wrong. Well, so what?

    This is where the subjective dimension to evidence comes into play. Since you gravitate toward one of the extremes (if memory serves correct), of course you will not see any of this as evidence for truth of Christian theism. In your mind, one of the extremes is more likely to be true.
    To have a chance of seeing what I see, one would have to agree about the erroneous essence of the two extremes (and you probably agree with me half of the time about that).

    At that point, we can think of Christian theism and Atheism as two maps or compasses we can use to navigate the seas of an ambiguous reality. When I see the Atheist map at work, it has a strong tendency to lead people (many of them very smart) toward two opposing whirlpools and then sucks them into these absurd, unlivable belief systems. Yet I also note my Christian map steers me clear of these two Absurdities, almost like threading the needle. Does that mean or prove it will get me to land? No. But if it keeps me from sailing toward these absurd extremes, I have reason to think it is more accurate that your atheist map.

    What I do here is to take this clue and watch how it seamlessly weaves together with other clues for the truth of Christian theism.

  38. stcordova says:

    Very nice essay Michael.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.