Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Incoherent Notions of Free Will and Determinism: Part II

Premier Christianity Magazine screws up for once.
In the second part of this series I will be looking in detail at an article which appeared in the November 2018 edition of Premier Christianity magazine entitled "Free To Believe".  It's about the subject of "Free Will and Predestination".  The writer of the article, Justin Brierley, takes it for granted that "Free Will" and "Predestination" are meaningful terms and therefore he goes straight in with the assumption that the question is a clear "Free Will" vs. "Predestination" choice. Having  thrust this dichotomy at us without the slightest sign of hesitation or diffidence, Brierley's subsequent arguments largely consist of hand waving and surfing the cliches which do the rounds on this subject. The fact that Brierley fails to tender intelligible definitions to neither "free will" nor "determinism" means that his content is far too incoherent to facilitate meaningful agreement or disagreement.

In the first part of this series we found that it is possible to throw some light on the meaning of "determinism" from a mathematical point of view and that this meaning revolves around the degree to which behavioural patterns are mathematically predictable. But as we saw in that part the concept of mathematical "predictability" isn't a simple a binary "yes" or "no" choice: For not only does predictability come in degrees it is also relative to human knowledge and computational resources. Even so, it is not clear that the kind of mathematical determinism which facilitates predictability has got anything to do with Brierley's dichotomy. After all, in one sense God's behaviour is very predictable: Viz: We know in advance that God's behaviour will always fall on the side of Love, Justice and Truth. Does this predictability mean that God has no "free will" and that God's responses are "predetermined"?  I think that Brierley and many others who cliche surf this subject are probably confounded by theological word games that seem meaningful to them but turn out to unintelligible when scrutinised closely. This would not be a new development in the annals of theology, a subject which all too easily degenerates into casuistry

Below I follow my usual practice of quoting the writer and interleaving my own comments:

BRIERLEY: If God's grace alone is sufficient for salvation, then we must have played no part at all. God chose us we did not choose him. In Calvin's  mind, God had predestined those who will be saved  and those who will be damned. The lynchpin for this view was contained in Romans: "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined  to be conformed  to the image of his Son (8:29)

MY COMMENT: This statement is hamstrung by the fact that it is very difficult for human beings to look at things from the divine perspective.  Presumably, the absolute sovereignty of God entails a power of veto over what comes out of the platonic space of possibility to be reified in the created world. In this sense God selects every thing if only, on occasion, in a permissive sense. (Presumably there are some possibilities he selects positively) Moreover, being omniscient it would seem to follow that God would "know in advance" which possible cases he is going to permit for reification and therefore "predestines it" at least via permission.

But then what meaningful content can we give to the phrase "God knows in advance" when it may well be that "time" as we know it is as much part of creation as is space and matter - in fact it is difficult to give meaning to space, time and matter in isolation from one another; e.g try defining matter without reference to time and space! Created time may be very different to divine time. So it seems quite possible that in Romans 8:29 Paul is using connotational content rather than notational content to express the absolute sovereignty of God in a way which resonates with our limited comprehension of the divine perspective and should therefore not be taken too literally.

And while we are here, a theological point: I was always under the impression that God's freely offered grace may nevertheless be rejected or accepted on the human side and consequently entails human action if only of a very minimal kind, a kind akin to saying "thank you" to someone offering a gift and then gratefully receiving that gift. Therefore I can make no sense of Brierley's claim that:  If God's grace alone is sufficient for salvation, then we must have played no part at all.   Of course, if we have accepted the gift of grace then, like everything else, it will be subject to the absolute sovereignty of divine permission. But that apart I would question whether we as human beings are able to talk about the divine perspective with sufficient clarity for us to be able to construct an unequivocally clear dichotomy referred to as  "free will vs predestination".

Brierley goes on to characterise the Calvinistic school of thought as follows:

BRIERLEY: This perspective amounts to a 'deterministic' view of reality. The world is the way it is and could be none other, because God has predetermined every atom and every thought of every heart. In such a universe, human freewill is an illusion. We are all playing our designated parts in a script that was written before the world began. ...[This] looks like the work of puppet master. 

MY COMMENT:  As I have already commented, given the human perspective Calvinistic determinism is probably little more than a fuzzy connotational allusion to the sovereignty of the divine perspective. I myself would personally take the view that the sovereignty of God does entail an ultimate power of veto which means that all that emerges from platonic space into created reality is therefore at least at God's permission.  Whatever we do and think has its "pre-existence" in platonic space. God's role as absolute sovereign may give him a veto over what possibilities emerge from platonic space for reification in the created order, but these possibilities lurked in platonic space before their reification, God or no God. So in one sense we are all playing out our designated parts in a "script" that once existed in platonic space, whether or not God even exists! That "script", along with many others, has always been there hidden as a contingency in configuration space. The history of the created cosmos is a bit like the contents of a giant book: If the cosmos is finite then it entails a finite number of possibilities, albeit very large. God is, as it were, a kind of author reifying one of the many permutations that the contents of the cosmic book can take. It remains a mystery why God has brought about the reification of our particular cosmic story: I don't think this particular mystery will be solved any time soon!

So, with or without those annoying Calvinists, there seems to be a mathematical sense in which "predetermination", so called, is difficult to avoid! But Brierley goes over the top; he's quite sure he can draw the conclusion that any hint of determinism implies we are puppets on strings; in spite of the fact that Brierley is working at the limits of intelligibility he confidently proffers such a conclusion. But what has emerged from platonic space is hardly comparable to a puppet. For a start no one really knows what it feels like to be a puppet, if indeed puppets have any feelings! In contrast the world which has emerged from platonic space is not a world of puppets but a world of conscious beings with very complex patterns of behaviour driven from within. If these beings are following any script at all it is the script of complex adaptive systems whose decisions are a function of an internal complexity as it reacts to its environment. The puppet metaphor is wholly inappropriate to this kind of system. Puppets are neither conscious nor capable of an adaptive response.

BRIERLEY: Atheist determinism springs from a materialist world view. All that exists is the 'material' stuff of the universe. Everything about us and the world we live in can ultimately be explained by the physics of atoms, electrons, quarks and neutrons, interacting according according to the predictable regularity of natural laws.

Think of it like this: The skill of the snooker player is in predicting as accurately as possible how the balls will ricochet off each other in order to find the pockets on the table. But theoretically, if a snooker player lined up their very first shot with perfect precision and perfect force, they could clear the table in one shot. The universe is like that, but on a much bigger scale.

MY COMMENT: I am surprised that Brierley is working to such a passe concept of physics; he fails to take cognizance of the roles of chaos and quantum randomness in today's "mechanical" paradigm. Thus Brierley's characterization of "atheist determinism" using "billiard ball" mechanics looks like a straw-man. Although there may well be many naive atheists out there who share Brierley's characterization it is not at all clear that sophisticated atheists would swallow this view and this has implications for Brieley's freewill vs determinism dichotomy. For a start, as we have seen in the first part of this series "determinism" in the mathematical sense is a graded and relative phenomenon and even when determinism is present in its strongest form such as we see in a computer system, it is still colloquially meaningful to talk about such a system "making choices" within its behavioural envelope. For sophisticated atheists like the philosopher John Searle and physicist Roger Penrose, both of whom undoubtedly understand the way the world works better than Brierley, it would be very unfair to foist this naive account of reality upon them. Moreover, Searle and Penrose are very clear in their identification of the conscious component of human cognition: As Searle may well tell us, "human machines" are a composite of a first person perspective and a third person perspective. This leads to the question as to what is the true nature of reality. In the quote above Brierley has, in all likelihood, defaulted to the dualist paradigm that contrasts the world of hard "billiard ball matter" against the ethereal and ghostly mind. It is a small step from this dualist outlook to the belief that "billiard ball matter" is the primary reality and that the conscious sentience of mind is at best secondary and at worst an illusion to be disposed of. My own view (developed elsewhere) is that conscious qualia are needed to turn the formalities of mathematical configurations into real and meaningful qualities.

It may well be that the world of quantum envelopes has a complete registration with the world of conscious thinking in as much as those envelopes contain a full complement of information about conscious activity. In this descriptive sense the behaviour of quantum envelopes would then provide a complete "explanation" of consciousness - Christians should not necessarily be in the business of denying this possibility. But even if this is actually the case and if the quantum world is humanly predictable (which in fact it appears not to be!), quantum mechanics nevertheless remains a third person theoretical account which ultimately traces back to a first person making observations and constructing a rational theory, a theory which joins the dots of conscious experience into a rational whole. The upshot is that it is impossible to eliminate the sentient mind from the world of theoretical mechanics as it is organically joined to it via perception. All this is a far cry from Brierley's billiard ball mechanics.

BRIERLEY: Every single physical event, from the movement of electrons to the orbits of planets., follows predictable laws of cause and effect. Therefore, the way the universe is now is  a direct  result of the way it was when it first began.  If you rewind the clock by 13 billion years to the exact same physical state of affairs things would roll out in exactly the same way they already have.

But in such a universe, the idea that we have any measure of free will evaporates. Every aspect of our existence was predestined by a cosmos blindly following the laws of cause and effect. 

MY COMMENT: Here we go again with Brierley's naive physics of a highly predictable world! Moreover, he's very emphatic here that the predictable patterning of so called "cause and effect" (sic) is inconsistent with "freewill".  If we are to take Brierley's position to its logical conclusion it would mean that for human beings to qualify as having freewill, their patterns of behavior would have to be absolutely random! This is absurd as clearly humans often (but not always) make rational decisions in reaction to their environment and this necessarily entails a degree of predictability.  Moreover, as I have pointed out in part I human behaviour is in many cases highly predictable and it seems wrong to then draw the conclusion that this implies the absence of "freewill". As we have also seen, God's behavior is also very predictable at a high level (if not at the detailed level) and it doesn't then follow that God therefore has no "freewill"! (what ever that "freewill" is supposed to mean).

Given the physical laws as we currently understand them it is certainly not clear that rewinding the universe back to the year dot and restarting it would mean that exactly the same history would repeat. In fact as many evolutionists would affirm it is not at all clear that, given the contingent nature of evolution, a rewind and restart would ultimately lead to the human species. So much for Brierley's account of "determinism"! The irony is that the very contingent and random nature of physical processes is often used as a counter to theism! (Theism as a concept, it seems, struggles at both the extremes of high order and low order)

Following the above quote Brierley does a brief section on "compatibilism"; that is, the belief that one's actions can be both free and determined at the same time. Trouble is, because Brierley is engaged in some heavy duty hand waving rather than giving us clear understandings of "predestination" and "freewill" it is impossible to come to any firm conclusion about their logical relationship and whether one category necessarily excludes the other. We therefore have no idea what is being claimed to be compatible with what, or vice versa what is incompatible with what.

The rest of Brierley's article suffers from the same woolly thinking. All we have to go on is some indication that Brierley closely identifies determinism with predictable patterns, but as we have seen predictability is both graded and relative, so how predictable has something got to be before it classifies as determinism? Brierley's line of thinking appears to lead to the absurd conclusion that only absolutely random behavior can be considered "free". As the matter stands, then, it is impossible to come to any intelligible conclusions as to whether freewill and determinism are mutually incompatible.

BRIERLEY: Our freewill is not truly free if determinism is still the bottom line

MY COMMENT: This statement is too incoherent to agree or disagree with.

BRIERLEY: Love is only truly love when it is freely given and freely received.

MY COMMENT: If we are to take on board the implicit logic behind Brierley's close identification of predictability with determinism we might conclude that because behavior must be random and unpredictable to be classified as "free" then a person who loves me today, may not love me tomorrow because the patterns of behaviour of  "free agents" are unpredictable. I'm sure Brierley wouldn't agree with this nonsense! At least I hope not!

BRIERLEY: We are all familiar. with the fairy tale of the enchantress who puts the prince under a spell  to make him 'love' her. But we know its not really love - its a delusion. Being manipulated in such a way is the opposite of love. By the same token, if God has pre-contrived  our every desire. so that we have no option but to love our wife, love our children and to love him, then we are acting as little more than robots.

MY COMMENT: The "spell" here reminds me of the scenario I referred to in part I where a computer executing software is infected with a virus; it's no longer the software making the decisions but the virus that has been introduced.  God could no doubt completely and miraculously disrupt our neural make up in order to make us love him, but since our identity is very much bound up with the uniqueness of our character traits, memories and history the identity of "us" would no longer be "us".  Our "I" would effectively have been hi-jacked by a different "I". God, I suspect. is looking for our personal status quo to eventually turn to him and love him. It is revealing that some Christians actually see Christian conversion as a kind personality transplant which almost wipes out the previous personality; This conversion paradigm is, I believe, pathological theology and based on a literal reading of connotational texts.

As I have already said, in one sense God hasn't pre-contrived our desires; they were already contrived in platonic space. However, it is God who chooses and permits what emerges from platonic space into our reified world of contingency. Hence God is not responsible for the forms that "pre-exist" in platonic space, although he is responsible for reifying the possibilities. Obviously there remains the big mystery of why God has reified some configurations but not others, but in this life we can no more comprehensively solve that mystery than we can the many mysteries of why JRR Tolkein wrote the particular book that he did.


In the next part I hope to look more closely at Brierleys' subliminal dualism, a dualism probably conceived as billiard ball "cause and effect"  materialism vs. the mysterious ghost in the machine.


Thursday, January 03, 2019

Consciousness vs. de facto ID's subliminal gnosticism

The organ of conscious cognition. Taken from the website

This post on the de facto "Intelligent Design" web site Uncommon Descent and written by UD supremo Barry Arrington drew my attention to this article in Scientific American. Arrington's article, which is entitled Front runner for the most inane statement of 2018, tells us that the writer of the article: 

"....might as well have said, “I have a conscious thought that there is no conscious thought""

At first I thought I was going to agree with Arrington and that once again we had here another client who was going into denial about the existence of conscious cognition (See here for example*). But after reading the Scientific American article (which takes the form of an interview with philosopher Peter Carruthers) I came to the conclusion that not only did I agree with Carruthers but also that Arrington simply couldn't have read article and had dismissed it out of hand. In spite of the misleading title of the article (that is, "There is no such thing as conscious thought") it is nevertheless clear from reading it that Carruthers is not denying the existence of consciousness. Look at this for example (my emphases):

In ordinary life we are quite content to say things like “Oh, I just had a thought” or “I was thinking to myself.” By this we usually mean instances of inner speech or visual imagery, which are at the center of our stream of consciousness—the train of words and visual contents represented in our minds. I think that these trains are indeed conscious. In neurophilosophy, however, we refer to “thought” in a much more specific sense. In this view, thoughts include only nonsensory mental attitudes, such as judgments, decisions, intentions and goals.These are amodal, abstract events, meaning that they are not sensory experiences and are not tied to sensory experiences. Such thoughts never figure in working memory. They never become conscious. And we only ever know of them by interpreting what does become conscious, such as visual imagery and the words we hear ourselves say in our heads.

The parts of the above quote I have emphasized I interpret to imply that Carruthers is not denying the existence of consciousness, (that really would be inane!) but accepts it as a facet of mind, albeit only a facet.  I'm not going to comment here on the rightness or wrongness of the model of the mind Carruthers is working to, but instead simply agree with the general thrust of Carrunthers argument. Viz: That consciousness is, as it were, just the shore line ports of a huge continental hinterland of supporting cognitive content and activity (which is what Carruthers means by "thought"). Consciousness is just the visible tip of an iceberg of unconscious thought. Actually at one level this thesis is fairly intuitively obvious: Most of us will accept that all those neurons and constituent molecules are working furiously to give us the first person experience of mind and yet the theoretical processes that control neurons and their molecular constituents are clearly completely unconscious as far as the first person perspective is concerned.

I personally don't see consciousness as a passive epiphenomenon but something that has a coupled relationship with the cognitive hinterland; that is, one effects the other and vice versa.  Carruthers appears to agree:

We can still have free will and be responsible for our actions. Conscious and unconscious are not separate spheres; they operate in tandem. We are not simply puppets manipulated by our unconscious thoughts, because obviously, conscious reflection does have effects on our behavior. It interacts with and is fueled by implicit processes. In the end, being free means acting in accordance with one’s own reasons—whether these are conscious or not.

This is very much in line with my own ideas. See my Thinknet project.

Carruthers proposes that we have to interpret our own minds just as we have to interpret the minds of others:

Let’s take our conversation as an example—you are surely aware of what I am saying to you at this very moment. But the interpretative work and inferences on which you base your understanding are not accessible to you. All the highly automatic, quick inferences that form the basis of your understanding of my words remain hidden. You seem to just hear the meaning of what I say. What rises to the surface of your mind are the results of these mental processes. That is what I mean: The inferences themselves, the actual workings of our mind, remain unconscious. All that we are aware of are their products. And my access to your mind, when I listen to you speak, is not different in any fundamental way from my access to my own mind when I am aware of my own inner speech. The same sorts of interpretive processes still have to take place.

I would rather say that consciousness is not what we generally think it is. It is not direct awareness of our inner world of thoughts and judgments but a highly inferential process that only gives us the impression of immediacy.

This first paragraph here, again concurs with my own thinking on the subject of language interpretation; namely that "words" do not contain meaning but rather our unconscious minds deliver conscious meaning to the string of input symbols we call natural language. It is notable that this is one area where Christian fundamentalists are inclined to err (See here).

Finally Carruthers is completely frank on the big question of what physical conditions (i,.e. the third  person scientific perspective) correlate with the stream of consciousness:

Interviewer: Brain researchers put a lot of effort into figuring out the neural correlates of consciousness, the NCC. Will this endeavor ever be successful?

Carruthers: I think we already know a lot about how and where working memory is represented in the brain. Our philosophical concepts of what consciousness actually is are much more informed by empirical work than they were even a few decades ago. Whether we can ever close the gap between subjective experiences and neurophysiological processes that produce them is still a matter of dispute.


So, I generally concur with Carruthers thoughts on this matter,. However, I doubt if Carrutthers would agree with my "cognitive positivism"; namely, that without a stream of consciousness, a stream which gives meaning to observation and thinking, the very idea of reality becomes hazy and murky. Without the conscious observer who experiences and pieces together a rational world it is difficult to give  any compelling conceptual substance to a world absent of conscious observers. In this particular connection I say this only as a matter of course; it is an idea I have developed and continue to develop elsewhere.

Where I have common ground with Carruthers and major differences with Arrington is on the subject of dualism. Carruthers, who is likely to be an atheist, will probably believe in a God-free material monism. And yet he should rightly throw up his hands at some of matter's mysteries; after all, how is it that matter:

a) Has the potential to generate a stream of conscious thinking.
b) Presents us with the information mystery of evolution.
c) Inevitably leaves us with the question of why there is something rather than nothing.

Carruthers may think anyone like myself as a nincompoop for bringing God into it. But, nevertheless I have this in common with him; namely, a belief that so called "matter", in its potentiality, remains a remarkable mystery that is wonderful and broad. For me who sees matter as God's creation that's no surprise. But dualist Western Christian culture, of which Arrington is an example, habitually works with a natural forces verses intelligent agency dichotomy which prompts this culture to play down the God-given properties of matter. To the de facto ID community matter is "material" but mind is "immaterial".  Therefore they are unable to take on board the idea that God is immanent in matter and that it is a channel of divine agency. The (subliminal) dualism of the Christian right-wing has a tendency to see mind and matter as incommensurable aspects of the world, perhaps even irreconcilable**. Western dualist Christianity, in its diffidence toward the material world, has an air of crypto-gnosticism about it; it has subliminally swallowed a gnostic-like spiritual warfare thesis, a thesis that views the material universe as somehow profane and fundamentally at odds with all that is sacred and spiritual.

Matter is curious stuff and transcends the categories of the right-wing Christian's mindset as (s)he fights a futile battle with an imaginary demiurge whose lie about being given all the kingdoms of the world has been promoted by a quasi-gnostic Christian culture (Luke 4:1-13).

* Looking back at the post I've linked to here, it looks as though I placed rather too much trust in what Arrington was claiming.

** The synchrony of gnosticism & dualism with the Christian right-wing seems to be connected with their cultural marginalisation and paranoid sense of embattlement against a hostile persecuting outside culture over which they feel they have little power to influence. Gnosto-dualism as a myth makes a lot of sense to people who feel they have their back to the corner.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Incoherent Notions of Free Will and Determinism. Part I

The article header:The answer to its question
depends on what is meant by "Free".
I found an article in November's  Premier Christianity magazine very frustrating to read to say the least. It was on the old chestnut of "free will vs predestination". The author of the article  Justin Brierley, although a respected commentator on more general Christian affairs, seems unable to see the subject through anything other than the same old cliched lens of taken-for-granted meanings. 

Many discussions on this subject, and this one was no exception, jump in with the unacknowledged assumption that we know what we are talking about when we refer to "free will" and "predestination" and that these meanings are unquestionably non-problematical. There is therefore seldom any preliminary investigation on whether or not we are talking about two intelligible concepts and the discussions go straight in with the question as to whether we should believe in either free will or predestination.  Brierley ends the article with these words:

 "Having genuine free will really matters. It's one of the reasons why I'm neither an atheist nor a Calvinist. I'd much rather be someone who imperfectly but freely chooses  to follow Christ"

But Brierley never attempts to clarify what he means by "freely choosing" so how can we either agree or disagree with him? At this stage it is impossible to judge him as either right or wrong. We can perhaps get an inkling of the complexity of this subject from the following considerations.

If perhaps we can first define what "predestination" means we might then be able to proceed apophatically by claiming that freewill is the absence of predestination. That is:

Absence of determinism => the presence of free will.

...where "=>" reads as "logical implication". But is this relationship intuitively agreeable? A system may be mathematically non-deterministic such as we have in coin tossing and yet because it completely lacks sentience it therefore has no sense of conscious choice; presumably conscious choice is a necessary condition (although not a sufficient condition as it turns out) for "free will". What about this relationship then:

Free will => An absence of determinism ?

That is, the choices of a  "free will" agent are not deterministic. As we shall see this is, I believe, also spurious. Negating both sides of the foregoing relationship we can express it slightly differently (but still as badly) thus:

Presence of determinism => absence of free will

Clearly the issue is complex, but as long as we fail to clarify our terms we will remain in a muddle here.


There is some light at the end of this confusing tunnel if we turn to mathematics. For it is possible to discuss the subject of determinism with a degree of mathematical clarity. In my book on Disorder and Randomness I defined a random pattern as one that cannot be generated, predicted or specified* using small space short time algorithms; that is, algorithms which use human sized programs and/or operate in human time scales. However, it is not possible to precisely identify at what point an executing program can be considered to go beyond humanly manageable dimensions in time and space because the "cut-off" is gradual with increasing dimensions. But although limits on human computational resources may put a pattern way beyond human computation this is not to say that the pattern can't be generated by an algorithm of sufficient size and/or execution time; after all a simple counting algorithm or any other algorithm which systematically works through the possibilities, if allowed to operate for sufficient time, will eventually generate any pattern, even the random ones.

Randomness isn't a "yes or no" property but a graduated phenomenon which is measured relative to the availability of humanly manageable resources of computation. Nevertheless, we could, I suppose, define absolute randomness as a pattern which  requires  infinite computational resources to specify by algorithmic means. But most random sources we deal with have a finite manifestation in terms of what they can generate. Therefore it is conceivable in these cases that there is some underlying finite computation which generates even the most muddled of (finite) patterns but of which we know nothing, have little hope of discovering and which may in any case be beyond our computational resources. Hence, in a finite world we could be surrounded by patterns of behaviour, none of which are truly random, but which from a human perspective are to all intents and purposes random.

The situation is further complicated if we allow the introduction of expanding parallelism in our computation. In expanding parallelism we assume it is possible to introduce any number of processors to fully exploit the potential for many of the operations in a computation to be carried out in parallel. If we introduce expanding parallelism then, depending on the task in hand, this can have the effect of reducing the minimum linear time to the logarithm of the total number of operations required for the task. If resources of expanding parallelism were practically available we might have a very different view on what is deterministic and what is not. Expanding parallelism is (as far as I am aware) currently beyond human technology; the best that we can do at present is amass a large but limited number of processors in order soak up the inherent parallelisms in the task in hand; but limited parallel processing is still no match for tasks which need an exponentially growing suite of processors in order to reduce linear time to the logarithm of the number of operations the task demands. There is, needless to say, a huge motivation behind research which attempts to implement expanding parallelism via quantum computing.


The point of the forgoing discussion is to show that "determinism" in the mathematical sense is a question of degree and that degree is measured relative to our resources of computation. Normally we would consider a pattern generated by a relatively simple and quick rule as mathematically deterministic. But there are patterns of behaviour out there whose computational complexity ensures that they are beyond human computational resources thus rendering them practically indeterministic (although theoretically they may be deterministic). Relative to practical  human resources there is no sharp cut-off between mathematical determinism and indeterminism. Although it is possible to define absolute randomness as a pattern whose specification requires infinite computational resources, this seems rather academic and idealistic in our large but finite world.

There is also the question of "happened" and "unhappened" events. The future, if "governed" by random processes, is in mathematical sense undetermined. But when a random source has already generated its pattern is that pattern now determined or undetermined? If the pattern has already been laid down in history it looks to be determined from the perspective of those in the know. But for those not in the know indeterminism appears to reassert itself if the pattern is revealed bit by bit, because to the observer ignorant of its form this bit by bit revelation will look identical to the random source generating the pattern there and then; in fact, both cases entail a bit by bit revelation of what in one sense is already there: Viz the active source is revealing a pattern that has a kind of preexistence in "platonic space" and in case of the ignorant observer the pattern is being revealed from what already has been reified by the random source extracting it from platonic space. In fact the hidden pattern could be considered as part of the information suite inherent in the algorithm that is generating the result but with no chance that the ignorant observer is ever going to predict it even though in one sense the pattern is determined.

So are we to conclude "happened" events are determined or otherwise? In one sense it seems that every thing is determined: For either patterns are being extracted via a pattern generator from what preexists in platonic space or are being reified in the observer's consciousness as a preexisting pattern is revealed to the observer. In either case the pattern being apparently generated preexists in some sense of the word and whether it is predetermined or not  seems to depend on the level of information held by the observer. This point is important because it suggests that the question of the existence determinism is observer relative. Consequently whether the observer is omniscience or not will have a bearing on the question is what is predetermined.


Where do the foregoing considerations leave the vague notions of freewill and determinism? When people like Brierley talk of determinism do they mean mathematical determinism? And when they talk of "free will" do they mean freedom from mathematical determinism? Usually they do: Usually they see the mathematically deterministic billiard ball Newtonian universe as the antithesis of free-will. Hence this rather forces them into the view that mathematical indeterminism as a necessary condition for free will. (I'm going to challenge this). But as I have already pointed out even if mathematical indeterminism is a necessary condition for freewill it isn't a sufficient condition; for even if we are dealing with the next best thing to absolute randomness such as we believe to be inherent in coin tossing it hardly constitutes a form of free will; for "free will" requires the presence of a choosing sentience. But what if a choosing sentience is making choices according to some underlying deterministic physics? Does that mean that that sentience has no free will? I would answer "No" that question. In fact human choices may be entirely predicable and yet free: For example, a person making choices, may, to someone who knows them well, be entirely predicable in their patterns of behaviour. And yet it is not wrong to say that those very predicable choices are made freely, presumably because the person making those choice has the experience of wanting those choices and having the freedom to bring them about.

Deciding whether or not humans have such a thing as free choice is perhaps obscured by the sheer complexity of the human system. In contrast, for example, most computers, if not all computers, work from small space short time algorithms and they appear to be an open and shut case for mathematical determinism and therefore they may seem absent of free will. But then let us consider computers that carry out relatively complex tasks, like say controlling a manufacturing process or guiding a cruise missile. Such systems, which can be relatively complex, are making algorithmically determined choices given their perception of environmental conditions.  Is it right, then, to say that these are "free choices"?  But putting aside the fact that we are not dealing with conscious sentience here it is not unnatural to talk about even computers making free choices in a colloquial sense. Let me explain:

It is possible to imagine scenarios where the computer is no longer free to do its job. For example I might infect the programming with a computer virus, or irradiate the computer with gamma rays or even mechanically damage in someway thus disrupting its otherwise "free choices". In each case the computer  may start doing things that are out of character with its programming and therefore it is no longer making free choices with respect to its "normal" behaviour; it is, as it were, no longer "responsible" for its outcomes and the computer is no longer true to its internal programming. Thus in a crude colloquial sense even a computer running a deterministic programming displays a kind of prototypical free will.

Usually, however, we don't think computers running short time small space algorithms, even though they may be making quite complex (deterministic) decisions, as worthy of the label "free will"; certainly not anywhere near the human sense of having freewill. The human decision making process differs radically from computers on several counts. There is of course the sheer mechanical microscopic complexity of the human system as observed from the third person perspective. Moreover, this neural system probably has non-linear feedback loops entailing the potential for mathematically chaotic behaviour making it practically unpredictable. This chaotic nature will also mean that the human system is sensitive to random fluctuations perhaps, even, fluctuations amplified up from the quantum level. Superimposed on top of all this is the fact that something about the way God has created the material world means that when matter is appropriately configured it gives rise to the "internal" third person perspective of conscious cognition. It is this human system, in all its decision making richness, which gives the hook on which we hang the idea of "free will".

But in spite of the potential for unpredictability in human behaviour much of it remains highly predictable. If circumstances allow I myself invariably have have two coffees in the morning and three teas in the afternoon and this pattern is very predicable and yet from my first person perspective it is my free choice. But it would be no longer be my free choice if I suddenly found that some awkward person had removed the means for making tea and coffee or even for that matter somehow tampered with my make up so that I'm no longer true to who I have been created to be. A complex system like a human being has free choice when it makes choices true to itself, true to its internal logic. Whether or not those choices are predicable and deterministic is I propose irrelevant. It is probably here where I differ from Brierley who, you can almost bet, will be a dualist. Using his bland Western dualist vision of a "billiard board material reality" he is unlikely to believe that "matter alone" (even if it is mathematically deterministic), when appropriately configured, is able to host "free will".

Given the richness of God's created world, and this includes complex decision making entities like human beings, there is plenty of room to identify so called "free will" as a feature of the miraculous "neural machines" we call human beings. It may be that theses neural machines are following predictable algorithms. Although I doubt that, it seems to me that there is a case, nonetheless, for claiming that the free-will vs predetermination dichotomy is bogus in sense that both categories are at once true of human beings; that is, our choices can be classified as freewill and yet predetermined at the same time. Humans beings are what they are and they have free will as long as they can act true to  the logic which makes them up.

With the foregoing frame work of ideas behind us, in the next part I will have a look at some of the contents of Brierley's article in Premier Christianity .

Foot notes
* There is a difference between generating a pattern and specifying a pattern (I gloss over this difference in the text). An elementary periodic pattern of infinite length can be specified by a simple repeating algorithm, although, of course, it would take infinite time to generate it. In contrast an absolutely random pattern requires an infinite amount of information just to specify it. In this sense random patterns are algorithmically incompressible.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Matter vs. Soul vs. Spirit

Humunculus dualism
I was recently asked the following question by a Christian: 

What are your thoughts, or have you written anything, on whether we are spirit? I think that we have the Holy Spirit enter into us when we become a Christian, but what’s your understanding of whether we humans are spirit as well as flesh and bone?

As this is such a frequent and pivotal question I thought I would publish my answer here for future reference:

I've long since given up any dualist  "ghost in the machine" concept:

Early man probably noticed the difference between beings capable of cognitive action (animals and humans) and non-cognitive action (like falling rocks and even complex clock work and chains of events). The difference is that on the one hand we have reactive complex adaptive systems (animals and humans) and on the other hand passive systems incapable of a reactive adaptive response.  We now have to add another ingredient: Consciousness: Most people instinctively empathetically construct other people as centres of the first person experience of conscious cognition and don't just see them as unconscious calculating machines.

These two ingredients of a) adaptive reactive cognition and b) and the instinctive empathetic construction of the first person perspective that takes place between normal people were presumably both noted by early man and may respectively account for the  two terns "soul" and "spirit"; Viz: "soul" being recognised as adaptive behaviour and spirit being recognised as the presence of a conscious first person perspective at least in the case of human adaptive behaviour. (And in my opinion, also in the "higher" animals).

But whether or not this is the  Biblical origin behind the words  "Soul" and "Spirit" (that would need a Biblical theme study on these words), I would want to express my current opinion that matter, being Created, Sustained and Managed by an Omnipower is likely to be "miraculous" in its properties. Therefore I have no qualms in proposing that both cognition and the first person perspective are "natural" phenomena of "matter"; but only if its Divinely ordained vitalities are correctly exploited; we are still learning about that one! On this proposal there is no "ghost in the machine": Conscious cognition is matter through and through, but not "matter" of the naive "gritty" or dualistic "billiard ball" sense that most people in the West habitually think of t; rather, matter is haunted and enchanted by God's presence.

I've written a lot on this subject and continue to do so. I am coming to the view that conscious cognition relates to the question of the nature of that enigmatic process of "quantum state reduction". That's what I'm working on at the moment.

See here for my writings to date: 

I certainly don't follow the absurd opinion offered up by some subliminal dualists that "consciousness" is somehow an "illusion" in contrast to "matter" which is somehow "real". For me conscious cognition is the cornerstone of empiricism. Without a grounding in experience and conscious cognition the theoretical constructs of science are unintelligible and meaningless.  It is science, the child of conscious cognition, that underwrites the reality of the constructs that provide the means by which conscious cognition can understand itself in terms of so-called "matter". Matter is a rational  and metaphorical construction of conscious cognition: In fact it may even be justified in calling matter a mythical construct, a way of joining the dots of experience. That this intellectual construction activity can be carried in such a systematic way and generate such highly coherent conceptual objects which harmonise our experience, is a testament to the Divinely ordained order of the Creation. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Signalled Diffusion Book I - Foundations

I'm bringing out a series of short books on the subject signalled diffusion.The first book can be found here. Below I have reproduced the introduction.  I hope that this introduction will explain why I call it Signalled Diffusion and where I hope this project is taking me. 


The one-dimensional elementary diffusion equation can be written as:


…where Y is the “diffusing” quantity, a quantity which is a function of time t and spatial coordinate x and where D is the diffusion constant.

In terms of modelling real situations this equation can be used to represent a statistical description for the transport of particulate matter, where chaotic interactions ensure that each particle of matter is, to all intents and purposes, subject to random walk. If we are dealing with large numbers of randomly walking particles then Y is a statistical quantity which gives a measure of the density of matter at a point in space and time. However, if we are talking about a small number of randomly walking particles Y breaks down as a density value and must then be used as a measure of the probability of finding a particle at a particular point in space and time. In this latter case Y is no longer a literal physical variable since for lone particles it corresponds to no measurable quantity; rather it encapsulates the level of information we as observers have about a particle’s movements. When interpreted as a probability Y is not just about the ontology of the world beyond, but also about the observer and his relation to the world via the information he holds about it.

When used as a probability envelope Y is a cognitive projection onto reality: For if a particle moves around according to random walk there is no literal curve Y to be observed out there; rather it is more akin to a shadowy background influence which has the potential to be used to predict statistical outcomes of a large aggregate of particles. Therefore if Y is a probability it is less a direct ontological reality than it is an epistemic device facilitating the calculation of statistics.

In this series of books, however, I will be exploring what happens if we treat the envelopes in Y as ontologically real and particles as the cognitive projection. To this end I envisage diffusion not as the statistical outcome of the literal stepping of randomly walking particles but rather a result of signals being sent between the points in space and those points accumulating the values received in such a way as to give us a quantity Y which replicates the diffusion equation. I believe that by using this approach it becomes possible to make sense of quantum mechanics as a form of signalled random walk. How this works out in practice I hope will become clearer as I proceed.

This series of books explores the foundations of signalled diffusion and supplements my book Gravity and Quantum Non-Linearity and its more concise version Gravity from Quantum Non-linearity. In both works the emphasis was to arrive at an explanation of gravity. In this series of short books, however, I hope to explore the fundamentals of the subject more thoroughly and remedy some of the faults and short falls in my first book. But whether any of this is going to lead me onto anything significant as the series develops remains to be seen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Creation is Time and Time is Creation

I was recently messaged the following question by a friend on Facebook :

I was chatting with someone yesterday who is intelligent but seems to have an issue with the nature of time, and a 14 billion year old universe, and doesn't understand why God would take so many billions of years to create so much mathematical spillage.

I know you've been interested in this, but have you ever written anything on this subject - on the nature of an old universe and what God might be trying to tell us by having so much excess space and time?

This was my quick message back:

Clearly the creation, even if it is "instantaneous" to us, would involve a huge number of events in God's mind as he assembled it. Using critical path analysis it is clear that there must be dependencies between the events: e.g atoms must be created before you create molecules, molecules before you create cells, cells before you create cell communities, cell communities before you create differentiated multi cell animals etc etc. Hence the critical path must be composed of M stages where M is going to be very large indeed for such a complex construction as the cosmos. The big question is this: Has God left evidence of the length of the critical path? I suggest he has and that he has given us a metric of, say, value "tau" seconds between the events on the critical path. Hence M x Tau = billions of years. In contrast,  for the quasi-pagan fundie, God simply "speaks" stuff into existence, "Hey presto!" style. I suppose this article I have written is relevant: 

For more on the concept of the "Critical Path" see here. It is my guess that at some super-microscopic level the apparent continuity of Cosmic change is actually a sequence of discrete events - that is, the cosmos is infinitely divisible in neither time nor space*1.  For the moment let's call the minimum time and minimum length "tau" and "epsilon" respectively although if I am right we don't know, of course, at what dimensions this discreteness kicks in.

The SI unit system is defined from standard macroscopic behaviours and objects. Therefore, we could derive tau and epsilon in SI units if we knew the number of fundamental discrete units per SI unit.  We define our standards of length and time from the macroscopic world, but this macroscopic world is built out of the conjectured discrete "bricks" of time and space. Therefore it is the count of these discrete "bricks" which really define our macroscopic standards rather than the other way round; that is, these bricks don't have some absolute dimension of "tau" and "epsilon" apart from standards taken from the very macroscopic world they make up. We find a similar situation in computation: From a purely mathematical perspective the absolute "time" of a computation can only be measured in terms of the discrete number of critical path operations the computation takes.  Ultimately time is only absolutely measured as the count of a discrete sequence of distinguishable events.

Let me contrast the foregoing considerations with the thinking of many fundamentalists on this subject where for them "supernatural instantaneity" is the name of the creation game. As an example I quote below young earth fundamentalist Stuart Burgess from his squalid little book "He made the stars also" (2001). For many fundamentalists like Burgess the following kind of intellectual debauchery is par for the course and may be regarded as an all but mandated belief for Christians if they want to lay claim to God's grace*2 (My emphases):

".. the Bible teaches that the stars were created in an instant of time at the verbal command of God (Psalm 33:9). It is an awesome thought that God needed only to speak a word and billions upon billions of stars instantly appeared." (p15)
"... God supernaturally and instantaneously created the stars on the fourth day of creation" (p24)
"When we read of God's supernatural and instantaneous method of creation we must stand in awe of Him." (p34)
"When we consider God speaking the vast Universe of stars into existence, we can do nothing but stand in awe of Him" (p34) (See also  pages 46 & 48)

To Burgess commands are commands and that's the end of it and the truly devout are encouraged to ask no more probing questions! But as we know commands are invariably just at the pinnacle of a huge mountain of lower level causation and action which can be analysed.

Now, let's look at another quote from Burgess where he misses the obvious and makes a mother of a faux pas. After quoting Prov 8:27-30, verses which talk of God as a craftsmen, Burgess somehow manages to cough up this piece of half digested intellectual vomit (My emphases):

"The description of God as a great craftsman measuring out the dimensions of the foundations of the earth supports the conclusion that God did not use evolution because a craftsman carries out instantaneous and deliberate actions whereas evolution involves long random processes".(p31)*3

I don't think even Burgess is stupid enough to interpret the Biblical word for "foundations" so literally that he thinks the Earth is flat. But even if we are to interpret the concept of "craftsman" literally Burgess' argument completely unravels.  Craftsmen don't do things instantaneously - whatever a fundamentalist like Burgess may think, craftsmen are certainly not hey presto! magicians: The activity of a truly creative craftsman will entail a lot of thought and trial & error as (s)he implements his/her designs. In fact I would go as far as to suggest that all thought is in large part a seek, reject and select process, a process which probably involves mathematical chaos. This creative process, which consists of an extended sequence of countable events, marks creative time for the craftsmen. So, the craftsman metaphor teaches us that creation is exactly the opposite of what Burgess is suggesting; namely, that it is a process, a process which entails a critical path of events and this critical path entails time, creative time.

Among many of a religious persuasion there is a premium on a belief in divine omnipotence as naked undressed power; in fact a belief in the indivisible power of divine fiat is taken as a sign of abject faith and therefore evidence of utter self-abasement, a shibboleth of unquestioning awe and devotion. For these people God is Great because His sheer power means that the divine "mouth" can get whatever it wants just by speaking it; Viz: God speaks stuff into existence with little or no intervening effort/work/thought. It is as if God is either a lazy despot who commands others to do his bidding or a super-magician who is so powerful that he doesn't even need to think and act in regard to what he wants done - he just does it by uttering a single command, just like that! In this fawning devotional context any suggestion that God needs time to do His stuff is, for the abject devotionalist, considered an affront to God's indivisible power. In fact implicit in my friend's encounter with the young earthist we see a person who just could not understand why omnipotence would require so much time; after all, it would seem from daily experience that speed equates to power. But this is no so! This equation is a delusion: If time is proportional to the count of discrete events on a critical path we find that true power involves the sustenance of processing that adds up to huge amounts of time.*4

For me the fawning devotionalist has a childish magical view of God's omnipotence and I would suggest that the very opposite of their opinion is actually the case; processing sustained over huge amounts of time is the epitome of omnipotence.

*1 I suspect that the dimensions at which this limit occurs is in the order of magnitude of the famous 10-40 figure. In any case think of the implications of absolute continuity: It would mean that the real variables of physical measure would likely have infinite numbers of digits when expressed in macroscopic SI units. In fact disorder theory teaches us that there are far more real numbers with random sequences of digits than ordered combinations of digits. This would open up a version of the multiverse where every possible configuration has some kind of reification somewhere.

*2 For example see my article on holy bad mouthing here as evidence of a  close connection between salvation and belief in young earth in the mind of Ken Ham.

*3 Burgess repeats the old canard of implicating evolution as a random process. Even (intelligent) atheists don't believe this! See here

*4 "Time" in the sense that I have defined it in this post  (Viz; as the count of events taken along a critical) means that any creative process will take time; lots of it, in fact, if the task is complex. Hence "Time" is logically inherent in all creative activities. The question remains for the Christian, however, as to whether this logically obliged time has been revealed to us. Hence, the question of whether the cosmos has taken billions of years is thus a question, not of logical necessity (since time is a logical necessity), but of revelation. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Tribal Britannia

The xenophobic fears behind  fascist  tribal herding
instincts are not just confined to war time Germany. 
Those fears are alive and just as sick in the UK today.

We've all heard of those Japanese soldiers isolated on a Pacific island who have been found still  thinking they are fighting WWII many years after that war had ended. Well, I have found some people on an island on the edge of the Atlantic who are still fighting the war against the Germans. That island is called "Great Britain". You can find these people on a Facebook page called "EU -  I voted leave". This page seems to bring out the most jingoistic, belligerent, and bellicose individuals this small island has the misfortune to harbour.  For example "EU - I voted leave" posted the following text:

Here is another sample to keep the embattled warrior instinct alive:

Yes, that's right, they are not just fighting WWII but also all the wars this country has had with France, Spain and European powers in general. It is one thing to object to the EU on the basis of its inefficient and domineering bureaucracy, but quite another to object to it on the basis of a xenophobic fear of the motives of Germans, French, Spanish etc and to dwell under the illusion that somehow the UK doesn't host the same potentiality for corruption and absolutism; that's a propensity which can be found at home as well as abroad. This is the stuff of deluded fascist paranoia which majors in egotistical "great nations versus the scum" myths.

Anyway, below is a sample of the aggressive anti-Europeanism, in particular anti-Germanic sentiment, that this squalid Facebook page incites in its commenters. I've changed names, of course.


Bert Beefboard  The Germans are trying again to rule Europe but this time by using the EU Community. We see through this to the 4th REICH which has never died but has been in hiding. Now they are back. We must win this battle again and have complete Sovereignty. Brexit the Hard way is the ONLY way.

MY COMMENT: Another commenter on the FB page sensibly asks if Bert has any evidence for his claim. We then get this answer:

Bert Beefboard: Born and lived through the Germans and the wish to rule everything. Not more to say as I can tell from your comment you dont care for Sovereignty and are a remainer. Foolish boy!

MY COMMENT:  Note the nationalist grouping here: Beefboard uses the generic term "Germans" and not "The Nazis". In Beefboard's mind all Germans are under suspicion of tribal and nationalistic hegemony. This dehumanises them into a collective. I was under the impression that WWII was fought against the Nazi philosophy which had taken root in Germany and not against the Germans per see.

Craig Crackabump The last 2 attempts were stopped by bullets and blood. This attempt hopefully will be stopped by the ballet box

MY COMMENT: Presumably Craig is ready with his gun if the ballot's don't go his way!

Russell Rotter: Sadly a lot of people who lived through WW11 were conned into voting for the Common Market they thought it would stop another attempt by the Germans to rule Europe. My Mum would be turning in her Grave.

MY COMMENT:  Note once again the failure to distinguish between the corrupt human philosophy of Nazism and a national group. 

Dafty Duckit It's said that many SS and scientists relocated to Ireland and America to escape Nuremberg trials for crimes against humanity... One I think was caught and punished... alphabet soups were created using the very people who escaped and today we have their projects inhumane and otherwise still playing out Europe being one of them...

MY COMMENT: The conspiracy theorist speaks! Very reminiscent of the views that Hitler had; just replace "SS" with "Jews"!

Now here's a guy who seems to still be fighting the war against the American colonists! 

Benny Bumfrey  Just a quick reminder the U.S screwed us royaly. They literally stole islands and money before they joined the war. We had to give up so much just to get planes and tanks made. Henry Ford of Ford motors gave an entire years salary to hilter to build military trucks and tanks. The yanks also sold oil to to hilter before selling to the British as well. They may have joined in the end but they screwed us before they did.

MY COMMENT: Keep those grudges alive! Heck, you idiot Benny we had better not take on the American military as well; we won't stand a chance!

Terry Terrible:  this report tells all, you try and convince people that being ruled by a band of nobodies, a drunk and a mad Herman woman a little Napoleon type upstart that this the way to go I don't think so

MY COMMENT: I was wondering when Napoleon would come up! Better relaunch "HMS Victory" and send it to France!

Dafty Duckit: I've swatted since 2014 at five subjects a night...I've watched world.war two code breakers I've watched historians etc...I've read the national archives which state that war one was started because of "pirates" in European waters holding boats carrying food and all sorts.(minus liquorice) hostage and looting then Ferdinand etc... looking at our fight over fish today has Europe changed in any way? No it hasn't in or out there's still."pirates" in the water...the archives are very telling but withhold names...red cross were sent to Europe to help the injured and the ill during both wars...for a fee! United Nations were known as league of nations...they changed their name to hide again their corruption...and so it goes on.

MY COMMENT: Very reminiscent of the kind of paranoid hyper-nationalist sentiment that Hitler stirred up in order to start WWII: Recall that Hitler played on the grudges stemming from WWI. To Dafty Duckit history is all about remembering and keeping alive grievance. 

Now, below we have the commenter Jane Pain  who starts by telling us that what Duckit has just written is "All true": 

Jane Pain: All true. I need to add one thing. Noah built an Ark to save many people from the flood. Today Jesus is the Ark. Not religion! But a relationship with our creator. I'm not religious, religion is what turns thousands away from Christ. JOHN 3:16

MY COMMENT: Not too surprising really: This looks like a Christian fundamentalist. Christian fundamentalism, hyper-nationalistic based paranoia and fascism are linked it seems, perhaps via the idea of the leader-patriarch. In fact it was actually one of my Christian fundamentalist FB friends who approvingly shared the "EU - I voted leave" post which drew my attention to it in the first place. She added the following comment to her shared post:

Tina Breadcrust Our Europhile Parliamentarians don't know their history! They don't have confidence in us as a nation. We sometimes feel like saying "Why don't you emigrate to Europe?" The deal our Prime Minister is seeking seems to be a halfway between being in and out from the noises Brexiteer MPs are making!  😢 ⛈Looks like stormy weather ahead!!! God gave this nation the Gifts it needed to survive on its own. Just as he gave Israel the necessary Gifts to overcome and survive alone. Confidence is all that's needed.*

MY COMMENT: Fancy Tina Breadcrust accusing Parliamentarians of not knowing history! How ironic! I know Tina personally and I try not to be too hard on her as she's a nice but vulnerable person. Frankly, however, she's as impressionable and gullible as they come, completely lacking in critical faculties!  See here. But nevertheless she holds hyper-nationalistic sentiments allied to a fundamentalist sense of utter conviction absent of any epistemic humility, a mix which I regard as potentially toxic. One of Tina's Trump supporting right-wing American FB friends then pipes up:

Patsy Storedump: Sounds like the deceived are doing in America. Why come here. To be free. To worship as one chooses. Now we are finally fighting back. People first Citizens first Politicians out. Get a man like TRUMP and get rid of all your professional politicians. He is not done with America yet. We can only pray and fill our alters with repentant hearts. Let God lead and take back your country from the enemy. We will Pray for you as you pray for us. Allies in the Lord.

MY COMMENT:  We begin to see here how just how in tune Christian fundamentalism is with the fascist exhilaration over the concept of the "great leader & saviour":  "Stuff parliament and the Magna Carta. Stuff the constitutional monarchy and 1688. We want a Fuhrer great leader!There is something about the fundamentalist psyche which has a worrying resonance and emotional connection with hyper-nationalism, bordering on fascism**

I couldn't resist responding to Patsy as follows:

Timothy V Reeves ...but perhaps not get a man like CROMWELL. He got rid of all our professional politicians within an hour or two. When he didn't like what he saw he cleared the house of commons with his army!. That proved to be a lot more effective than the gun powder plot! But I wouldn't recommend this to Donald as a way of "draining the swamp"! It's too banana republic!

I got no reply!

I think I've had enough of all this, so let's finish with just two more examples of "Brexit" chauvinism (My emphases):

Dafty Duckit: Philip Codpiece it's tough though isn't it because we won't give them another ballot...I'm glad we have maybe a couple of people who had this all to deal with in the 70's I was only four when all this started I only remember my mum having ago at me for asking questions about it because it made her cry...my mum said "your grandad died for your freedom just for the Germans to come through the back door".. I don't like dictatorship so I stood up against it not just for myself and children but my family who are no longer with me

Jonny Bilgewater: Who are you kidding Mrs Merkel if you think old Englands done. We are the boys who will stop your little game etc etc. They don't like it up em. SOD Mrs Hitler Merkel and her French white flag waving sissies. We don't need EU it's a dying flawed institution and will collapse within a few years. We want OUR country back.


What a horrible lot! These views are such a self-send up that I did wonder if we had tongue-in-cheek trolls abroad. If so Poe's law strikes  again!  But to think that I might be trapped on a small island on the edge of the Atlantic with these people! It's enough to make one emigrate to Europe! But then Europe's got these bellicose right-wingers as well! I've never thought of myself as xenophobic but when I come across such people I sense more than a touch of xenophobia as I realise just how alien and how utterly irreconcilable their world-view is to mine. Perhaps, I wonder, there is some kind of mathematical limit which stops many humans from extending tribal entitlement to the whole of the human race; you need some people left to blame for your problems! Xenophobia breeds xenophobia as civilisation collapses under the weight of international distrust and infighting.These people are far more alien to me than the open minded Europeans with whom I have had contact and with whom I feel  much more at home. If the views of the above people become popular they would be the kindling that inflames war. It never occurs to them that there are also hyper-nationalists in the countries they so fear and that these extremists are finding similar excuses to justify their xenophobia, and if necessary to wage war. 

Below are some pictures of the people we really need to fear and you don' find them only in Germany or Europe. In fact you find them everywhere, unfortunately:  

....in the USA
...in the UK


So, once again we find a worrying juxtaposition of Christian fundamentalism, hyper-nationalism bordering on fascism and conspiracy theorism. It is interesting to note that the "Intelligent Design" correspondent Denise O'leary who writes for the ID web site "Uncommon Descent" also had a similar view on Europe to the people I have quoted above; as with the above she conflated the war with Nazism with a war on the German people itself. See here:

* Tina holds a romantizied and nostalgic view of the UK's past as a once "Great Nation".   Viz: No one seems to remember that we were once a great country in the days before the Common Market turned Economic Community turned European Union. What a stupid comment!  I think you will find that most people, even with a casual acquaintance of history, will remember when the small Kingdom of Britain had a vast empire and, unlike Tina, many have at least some inkling as to why things have changed for this relatively small country. What Tina doesn't grasp is that this country achieved its imperial "greatness" (not that it was always very "great" in the moral sense of the word) via a complex of circumstances that really no one understands; from the Anglo-Norman social ethos, through its isolated island status, to the confluence of the many factors which came together in the industrial revolution, a myriad conditions played their part in the rise & rise of Great Britain. But now that the advanced nations have industrialised or are industrialising the advantages of being a "first-in-nation" have run their course. You would think that being a Christian who subscribes to the apostolic authority of the book of Romans Tina would understand that fundamentally human beings are pretty much the same paradoxical mix of good and bad where ever you are.

** The Nazis weren't Christian: In fact underneath it they despised its apparent untermensch style "weakness" which contrasted to the "strength" of Nietzsche's Godless concept of the "ubermensch". However, Hitler exploited the conservative, tribal and authoritarian tendencies of the church in Germany to his advantage and that church bears some culpability for the outcome.