Saturday, February 10, 2018

Saturday Night Radio Drama Erhard Schmied - Greetings From Fukushima

The Fukushima meltdown in faraway Japan refreshed and fortified the terrible memory of Chernobyl at a time when Putin’s Gazprom grand-standing was beginning to impact European politics; but, however catastrophic the back-story, Erhard Schmied’s play is, in many ways, a nicely traditional thriller about eco-terrorism (and family secrets).

Patrick Dawson as Inspector Paquet 
Kathy Rose O’Brien as Amelie Gentner 
Aileen Mythen was Charlotte,the Inspector’s daughter,
Deirdre Monaghan as Ina Denner 
Jennifer O’Dea was Saskia Eisenbeiss
Michael J. Forde plays Julius Lanz
Translated from the German by Andrew Morton
Peter Hanly was Bernd WohlersSound supervision was by Mark McGrath.
Produced by Aidan Mathews.

Confession Not Proof: Last Post On The Bible Makes Sense

Since the first week in Advent last December, I've been posting some excerpts from Walter Brueggemann's book The Bible Makes Sense as a sort of antidote to what I was reading about The Museum of The Bible opening in Washington, DC.  I went to look at its website and, frankly, am kind of appalled by their presentation of their facility and program (for an extra $8 you can see The Valley of David And Goliath on temporary loan from "The Bible Land's Museum in Jerusalem".   When I started it, I though it would last for the four weeks of Advent but if I posted what I thought was important from the book, I'd be going well past Lent, as well.

I think reading the 10th and final summary chapter of Brueggemann's book would do you entirely more good than going to all of the museums on the Bible you can find.   He gives what he admits is only one of many perspectives to take on the Bible which is the POV of the book, he's nothing if not generous in granting there is something to be learned from other points of view.   On behalf of his perspective, he says:

The preceding discussion presents a particular perspective on the Bible.  It is not claimed that this is the only possible way of understanding the Bible, but it is urged that this perspective is both faithful to the character of the Bible and energizing for the faith and life of the church.   Thus at the outset it is presumed that Scripture has to do with the fidelity and vitality of the church.  Consequently, the perspective taken here leads to distinctive conclusions regarding each topic.

I'll give you points two and three of the points he stresses because they are useful to an understanding of why trying to read and understand the Books of the Bible as if they were modern history or science or even a "proof" of something is to  boldly go futilely where so many others have gone before.

Second, the Bible is to be discerned as much as a set of questions posed to the church as a set of answers.  To be sure the Bible provides an ultimate assurance to the issues of human history and destiny,  the answer finally being that in God self-giving graciousness and undoubted sovereignty are identical.  That is the central affirmation of the Bible which surely is an “answer” to the deepest questions of life.  And nothing can detract from that. 

But the Bible is often perverted when regarded as an answer book or security blanket.  This is evident in a most obvious way when the Bible is treated like a rabbit's foot or like a holy relic upon which to swear.   But it is the same if the Bible is seen as a resolver of moral dilemmas or as a code for proper conduct.  Such an approach attributes to the Bible a kind of static absoluteness which presumes the fixity of what is proper,.  It is the same when the Bible is seen as a collection of right doctrine which need only be “believed” without discerning its dynamic or historical character.  These are  all variations  of the same theme, for each is an attempt to establish a norm beyond the demands and pressures of historical existence.  The end result is to attribute to the Bible an absolute, unchanging quality (surely alien to its own evidence) which denies freedom to God and which denies our own historical responsibility. 

The Bible finally is not concerned with right morality, right piety or right doctrine.  Rather it is concerned with faithful relationships between God and his people, between all the brothers and sisters of the community, and between his community and the world he has made.  Faithful relationships of course can never be reduced to formulae but live always in the free, risking exchange that belongs to covenanting.  It is this kind of exchange rather than fixed absolutes which are the stuff of Biblical faith.

The central concerns of the Bible are not flat certitudes (even in the form of “eternal myths”) but assurances that are characterized by risk and open mystery.  The quality of certitude offered by the Bible is never that of a correct answer but rather a trusted memory, a dynamic image, a restless journey, a faithful voice.  Such assurances leave us restless and tentative in the relation, and always needing to decide afresh  Rather than closing out things in a settled resolution, they tend to open things out, always in fresh and deep question and urgent invitation.  The central thrust of the Bible, then, is to raise new questions, to press exploration of new dimensions of fidelity, new spheres for trusting.  Such questions serve as invitations to bolder, richer faithfulness.  Such questions also serve as critics exposing our easy resolution, our faithless posturing, and our self-deception.  If the Bible is only a settled answer, it will not reach us seriously.   But it is also an open question which presses and urges and invites.  For that reason the faithful community is never fully comfortable with the Bible and never has finally exhausted its gifts or honored its claims. 

Thirdly, the Bible is not a statement of conclusions but a statement of presuppositions.  To treat the Bible as though it “proves” things is both to misunderstand it and to judge it by alien processes.  “Proof” always belongs to the realm of scientific verification, either by empirical or rational investigation.  Either way, it consists of amassing data so that a conclusion is mandatory. 

But this is not the characteristic way of the Bible, even though there are some forays into such a method.  The characteristic logic of the Bible is confessional, assertive, and unargued.  The Bible does not examine creation and conclude that God is creator.  It does not review Israel's history and conclude that God redeems.  It does not probe the history of the church and prove that Jesus has been raised.  That is a form of knowing quite dominant among us in our mode of epistemology.  But it is alien to the Bible. 

The Bible asserts that God is creator and then draws derivative statements about creation.  It confesses that God redeems and then asserts what this means for history.  It affirms that Jesus is raised and then makes claims for the church.  It operates in a very different universe of discourse which will not come to terms with the epistemology either of a doctrinally careful church nor with a scientifically oriented culture.   It is curious that even some who have zeal for the authority of the Scripture make the case in ways that concede other norms by which the Bible is tested rather than permitting the Bible its own assertive ground.  The faith premise of the Bible starts the other way around.  The central substance of the Bible is not based on proof but in the courage and sureness of witnesses who dare bring testimony.  And that testimony is in the posture of confession, not proof. 

Few things so effectively deny power and vitality to the Bible as forcing it to meet other standards of knowing.  The central substance of the Bible is kerygma, i.e., proclamation which is never argued or demonstrated or proven, but only proclaimed as the bedrock of faith  Reading the Bible requires getting into that epistemology which is already an act of repentance, for it is prepared to believe the proclaiming voice without appeal to other norms.  Thus acceptance of the “authority of Scripture” is not based on a formal assessment of the validity of a book but on a faith-decision to take as binding the voice of faith heard in the text  Such an assent of course does not ignore our ordinary experience, but without that initial assent there will be no serious facing of Scripture.  It is urged here that the Bible is the beginning point and not the end result of faithful listening. 

Tantalizing Hints But No Real Evidence: Update To The Update

In the update to my sick-day post yesterday, I noted that Francis Bacon had proposed marriage to Elizabeth Hatton when she became the widow of Christopher Hatton's heir,  William Hatton.  I wrote that she had been Bacon's law client as well as a friend.  Well, the friendship was deeper and longer than that, she was his cousin to whom he had proposed before she married William Hatton in 1594 (she became his widow three years later).   So the relationship was more significant and would likely have at least put him in proximity to the estate of George North's patron,  Christopher Hatton.

If that would have put him anywhere near a copy of the in-the-news George North Discourse is anyone's guess - unless there's some evidence to support a supposition to that effect.  Apparently the only known copy of it is the manuscript which would seem to have a North family association, it having previously been in the Wexton Abbey Library with a North family bookplate on it.  You'd have to either put it or a known copy in the ownership of the Hatton family to even begin that chain of information to Bacon.

Now, if I had the same standards as that of the Shakespeare industry, I'd take that as absolute evidence, stronger than just about any in the "facts" that are regularly reached for to support the conventional case that the Stratford man who couldn't spell his own name twice in the same way (or in legible letters) and who isn't documented to have written a single word other than his name or to have owned a book in his life wrote the great plays and poems.   Someone would probably write a piece of nonsense to be made into a play or a ridiculous Hollywood movie on such lore.

But I don't go for that kind of pseudo-academic rubbish. 

Apparently, before the news about the theory that the manuscript is the source for 11 of the famous plays broke, George North was considered to be a bit of a joke by some of the few who had ever heard of him.  In  "Humanist Poetics: Thought, Rhetoric, and Fiction in Sixteenth-century England" Arthur F. Kinney says this about George North's translation of the French parody of Philibert de Vienne on Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, "Le Philosophe du Court":

The high spirits that bubble through North's often pedestrian translation supply further proof that Philibert's outrageous expose is meant to be the most extravagant of parodies  How appropriate that George North should dedicate such a sham mirror for  courtiers to Christopher Hatton who, Sir John Perrot tells us, “came thither [to court] as a private Gentleman of the Innes of Court in a Maske; and for his activity, and person  which was tall, and proportionable, taken into [the queen's] favor. 

Yet, incredibly,  North himself seemt to have taken Philibert seriously.   In his dedication to Hatton, “Captaine of the Queenes Maiesties Garde, and Gentleman of hir highnesse priuie Chamber” (sig. A3),  North commends his translation as “both floures and fruite (not to supply the scarcetie, but to encrease the plentie and pleasaunte purposes) of Courtly Philosophie” (sig A2v).  He offers his treatise as useful manual, testifying to it as another Englished Catiglione. 

I find the most interesting thing about that is that apparently Christopher Hatton succeeded in using the frequent theatrical productions that the various Inns of Court put on to gain Elizabeth's notice and favor.  Exactly the same thing that Francis Bacon did both during the reign of Elizabeth and James I, which is how we know that Bacon had extensive experience in both writing and in the production of theatrical spectacles throughout his adult life and his public career.  Sir John Perrot might have sniffed at the upstart commoner,  Christopher Hatton for getting some kind of advancement through whatever means available but, just as under Trump, that's what you get when you have a bunch of seriously corrupt, seriously egotistical quasi-absolute monarchs.  To hell with all of that.  Down with all anti-democratic governments, everywhere.

Now on to something important.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Hate Mail - Can You Make The Connection? If you can't your claims aren't supported.

No, I hadn't read the story about the allegations that an obscure manuscript, “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels,” written in 1576 by someone named George North, an obscure diplomat in the Elizabethan period were the source material for 11 of the "Shakespeare" plays.  But the story you referenced doesn't seem to make the connection between the manuscript and the Stratford man or any of the other candidates for authorship of the plays and poems.   It doesn't make that claim, it says:

The literary detectives discovered North’s influence, thanks in part to investigations into Shakespeare’s other influence: Thomas North, who translated Plutarch’s Lives. Back in 1576, George North, who was most likely a cousin of Thomas, was living at Kirtling Hall near Cambridge, England, when he wrote his manuscript–at the same time Thomas North was there possibly working on his translation of Plutarch. George North’s manuscript is “a diatribe against rebels,” according to the Times, where he argued that all rebellions against a monarch are unjust and doomed to fail. (Sounds like a fun guy to have at parties.)*

Was the Stratford man documented as having been anywhere near Kirtling Hall?   Or Cambridge?  Or had access to the possible possessors of the manuscript which, being unpublished, would have likely been available in only that single manuscript or a copy of it?   Is the existence of a documented copy of it known?   What material did George North rely on to write his Discourse?  Does he cite sources that the writer of the plays might also have known?

Since you mention Francis Bacon in your snark, he is known to have been at Cambridge University at the time it was written, already gaining fame as a great scholar while still in his teens as were both of his parents.  It would be interesting to know if he or any of the candidates had a connection to or is documented to have met any of the people who might possibly have known the manuscript. As a member of the intellectual nobility there is a possibility of him having known someone from a local aristocratic family but I'd never claim he saw the manuscript unless it could be documented that he knew someone who might have had a connection with the writer, his family or the place(s) it is known or even very likely to have been.   I'd like to know if there's even a line of possession of the manuscript or any copies, which you'd have to know to have any idea who might have read it.

Since the claims made by the computer geeks who used software to identify words common to the manuscript and the text of the plays (I don't see any mention of the poems in the news stories) some of their assumptions would need to be tested to judge whether their claims are valid or not.  Apparently they rely heavily on the term "trundle-tail" a description of a curly dog's tail appearing in the manuscript and in King Lear.   Looking that up in Merriam and Webster, it gives the first known use of the term as documented in the 15th century and is possibly older as the use of words in text generally is more recent than the origin of the term, who knows how frequently used the term was in speech?  It's a pretty thin argument to base the claims you made on.  That's about a century before it was used in the manuscript and more than a century before King Lear is believed to have been written.   If the word was known to a minor aristocrat such as George North, it was very likely known to most of the candidates for the authorship of the plays and poems.   It might, might be an argument that whoever wrote the plays had read the manuscript and relied on it (I'd like to know if there is any known citation or copying from it in any other known texts of the period, though it's likely such information is unavailable) but it does nothing to identify who wrote the plays and poems.   It doesn't move the authorship question unless you can provide evidence that one or more of them read it.   Since there's no evidence that the Stratford man ever read anything, good luck with that.

It looks like a thin case from the news reports, but I'd have to read a paper describing their methodology and making their claims.  Is there one available?  I can't find it.   I'm a little allergic to academic claims that get aired in the popular press before a paper is written.

* Considering, in the fall out of the Essex rebellion, that there is evidence that the author of the play Richard II (or another play sharing the name and the same plot of the SUCCESSFUL REBELLION AND SUCCESSFUL REBELS deposing Richard II which is theorized but not otherwise known) was being sought to be questioned (safely read that as tortured into making a confession, it was a Tudor monarchy) because a production of the play was part of the preparation of the rebellion, it wouldn't seem to thematically match the conclusions of George North, if the news reports are accurate.  He claimed they didn't work when many of those in the plays did work.  The horrific Tudor dynasty was a product of just such a successful rebellion against a king, who had a "legitimate" claim to the throne, Richard III.   I wonder if the geeks ever read the plays, do you know they did or, like you, only know what you've heard about them?    I'd be curious to know what George North might have said about that.

Update:  I had a little time so I did a little digging and found out that George North's patron was Sir Christopher Hatton, who, among other things, was the Lord Chancellor of England from 1587-1597.  Elizabeth Hatton, who was married to Christopher Hatton's nephew and heir, Sir William Hatton, was a client of and friend of Francis Bacon, who after William Hatton had died,  proposed marriage to her - she eventually married Edward Coke, one of Bacon's bitterest enemies.   Francis Bacon became Lord Chancellor from 1618 until he was brought up on charges of corruption by Edward Coke and dismissed in disgrace (some believe that, if he wrote the plays, that Timon of Athens reflects his likely state of mind in his last years. but that's speculation.  As I recall the play is entirely unknown in the period before the death of the Stratford man in 1616.)

I wonder if it's possible George North had made a copy of his Discourse for his patron or maybe he had the only manuscript which, as his heir and nephew's widow, she may well have inherited and in the period before he marriage to Coke, Bacon might have read it.

But that's  conjecture, not fact, more of a motivation to do more looking, not pretending a link has been made.  I'd never claim that Bacon having so much as been in the same house as the Discourse was a reasonable conjecture at this point.  That would take direct evidence to support such a speculation, but it's a lot more of a connection than most of the lore about the Stratford man is based in.

Still, at least it's a connection to the owner of the estate of George North's patron.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday Night Radio Drama - Rhys Adrian - Passing Through

Pat sits behind his newspaper at the same table in the same corner of the same pub every evening. He's a railwayman and functions like a clock. He talks to no one and no one talks to him.

But one evening a stranger enters into conversation with him and the pattern is broken.

Rhys Adrian's drama stars Hugh Burden as Richard, Harry Towb as Patrick and Diana Bishop as Beth.

Director: John Tydeman

There are a lot of people who spent their career writing large numbers of radio plays, some of them were pretty good.  Rhys Adrian wrote more than thirty plays for radio, all of them were produced.  I'm going to concentrate on some of the best of them, as I find their work online.

It makes a change from the cop-opera or sit-coms on TV.   You've got to pay attention to what's being said.

Kurt Andersen Gets It Entirely Wrong Even As It Seems He Gets A Little Of It Right

Someone called my attention to this piece at the frequently counterproductive, atheist propaganda outlet, Alternet (originating at Raw Story) about a piece that the . . . "journalist" Kurt Andersen did at "Big Think" or, as I think of it, even-stupider TED Talks for the even more attention deficient.   I'm going to give you the whole thing because I want to point out something you need to have read the whole thing to see.

Can Religion Explain Why Americans Are So Easily Duped by Fake News?
Novelist and journalist Kurt Andersen offers a compelling theory.

Writer and reporter Kurt Andersen, in conjunction with Big Think, walked through the ways in which the United States has entered a kind of post-truth era.

I would stop just to say that, looking at Kurt Andersen's bio, I think it's a serious and somewhat dishonest inflation of his CV to call him a "reporter."  What he is is an opinion "journalist,"  who, considering the content of the piece, was one of the creators of the hilarious and not infrequently welcomed but hardly reportorial "Spy" magazine.

In a video, the linguistic expert [?] on President Donald Trump’s speaking style explained that people seem to be losing IQ points year after year and it’s all due to a slow decline in truth. He explained that in 2012, the Republican candidates who agreed in the scientific theory of evolution had dropped to one-third of the field. By 2016, just one candidate, Jeb Bush, believed in science. Even George W. Bush said that the cornerstone of biology shouldn’t be taught in schools, and if it was, it should be taught along with the religious belief of creationism.

Andersen explained that he doesn’t think the Republican Party is growing stupider each year; rather that they’re fearful to challenge the chosen reality of their voters.

“I don’t think all of them disbelieve in evolution – some of them – but they were all obliged to say yes to falsehood and magical thinking of this religious kind, and that’s where it becomes problematic,” he said.

Already, Andersen's premise and showing that he, himself, sees the issue as more complex than the Alternet-Raw Story headline says.

“America has always been a Christian nation,” Andersen quoted. “That had always meant a different thing 100 years ago or even 50 years ago than it means today… Christian Protestant religion became extreme. It became more magical and supernatural in its beliefs in America than it has for hundreds of years or for any other place in the world.”

As Protestant Christians became more extreme, the Republican Party was similarly becoming more extreme.

Is a change in Protestant Christianity in the past 100 or 50 years what produced this?  Did it become more "magical and supernatural" in its beliefs?   Having read more Protestant writing in the past ten years than I have in my entire life before then, I don't think that's sustainable as a blanket characterization.  Most American Protestant denominations are far, far more liberal than they were fifty or a hundred or even twenty-five years ago.   I don't think it's even true of evangelical Protestantism which was in the past, in many places, bound to the American Apartheid regime which was fought most successfully by such religious groups as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the participation of many Christian individuals and groups elsewhere.   I think what Andersen is doing is holding up an easy target for dishonest purposes by ignoring the fact that many, probably most Protestants are not as he characterizes them.

“So, one thing that has happened, and one thing that has led the Republican Party to fantasy and wishful untruth more and more into its approach to policy…are now in the Republican mainstream,” Andersen argued.

Falsehoods like President Barack Obama is a secret Muslim or climate change is a Chinese hoax are all issues that are easy to believe if “fantasy and wishful untruths” are the norm. That makes it easier to accept conspiracy theories or fake news.

By now, if you read much of what I write, you will not be surprised that I'm going to call Andersen out for letting a far more pervasive, far more powerful and far more dishonest force in American life entirely off the hook, TELEVISION.  The average American watches and has watched television many, many more hours every week than the far less than one hour a week the"average" American spends in a church or doing religious activities.   The very same medium that pipes fantasies and propaganda into American's households and minds for many hours a day is what sold those fantasies with the cooperation of other media, hate-talk radio and movies and print media given a Supreme Court carte blanche for telling any lie as long as it was told in language that the lawyers might falsely argue, in the extremely unlikely event that a liberal politician or political or cultural figure would go through the expensive and likely unsuccessful attempt to get a lie retracted by the very media that Kurt Andersen has made a  very good living from.

Anderson explained that he doesn’t care if people believe what they want to believe in private. However, when religious belief “bleeds over into how we manage and construct our economy and our society,” there’s a problem that will cause lasting trouble for the country.

Oh, really.  Recall that mention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference above?   That was a religious organization which had and has the goal of having an influence in changing "how we manage and construct our economy and society."   The Nuns On The Bus campaign to organize people and pressure politicians to change the structures and laws and policies to make the economy and society and the government more equal, more just.  And the Nuns on the Bus was supported by NETWORK, a larger Catholic social justice advocacy group that was also begun by Catholic Sisters to do what Kurt Andersen says causes "lasting trouble for the country."  I could probably come up with a list of scores and hundreds of such organizations and tens of thousands of individuals, Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, etc. which I think even the semi-pro atheist Andersen would be hard put to squeeze into his blanket categorization.

I would contrast that to the frequently counter-productive, often aggressive insertion of ideological atheism into American politics and economics and society, one of the most counter-productive of those presences is in people and groups and publications like Alternet and CFI and, now Kurt Andersen, which have duped liberals into carrying their water even as that was a guarantee to lose voters and support among the huge majority of Americans who are not atheists.  Quite often that is done even as the atheists supported attack and undermine the basic beliefs in the reality of morals, the rights that are held to be an equal endowment of everyone on account of that morality, the obligations that morality places on individuals, societies and governments and everything that makes liberalism a rationally coherent position.  And atheism continues in that undermining and caving in of liberalism,  up to and including the atheist debunking and denigration of free will and free thought on the basis of "science", by which they really mean atheist ideology inserted into science,

Atheism is not an inherently liberal ideology, if by "liberal" you mean the traditional American liberalism that was based in those moral obligations which are a direct result of the far higher view of individual People that must come if you really, truly believe that People are all equally made in the "image of God" and that you have an absolute obligation to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that you are to do to the least among us what we would do for God - and in fact how we treat the least among us IS how we treat God - that even your enemies and the other, many very hard teachings that abound in the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and other religious Scriptures, but are found nowhere in materialist-atheist ideology.   Atheism is inherently antagonistic and destructive of that kind of liberalism.  It is, though, totally compatible with the vicious "liberalism" that we now more identify as "neo-liberalism" in which the powerful and able have an equal opportunity to grab everything for themselves and to cheat, lie, and destroy whoever they need or want to get it all for them.

What Kurt Andersen is doing is what Nietzsche called "worshiping the shadow of the Buddha" asserting things that materialist-atheist scientism can't contain and which it will, unchecked, destroy, the vestiges of an emotional desire by even atheists to retain a sense of moral obligation even as their ideology undermine and erodes that.   THAT IS WHAT THE INFLUENCE OF THE CONSUMERIST MAMMONISM OF TV AND OTHER MEDIA IS DOING, EVEN THE HALLELUJAH PEDDLERS WHO APPEAR ON IT AND AS THEY, ALSO, SUPPORT THE VULGAR MATERIALIST TRUMP AND THE SERVANTS OF MAMMON WHO SERVE THE BILLIONAIRES, NOT THE GOD THEY PRETEND TO PROFESS.  That and the freedom to lie with impunity enjoyed by the pervasive media for the past fifty years, the very same period that Andersen identifies as the period when things really went to hell, is what really "will cause lasting trouble for the country,"  But as a professional member of that media, Kurt Andersen has a professional interest in placing the blame elsewhere than where it so obviously belongs.    So does Alternet, so does Raw Story, so does even-stupider-TED Talks, Big Think.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Hurrah for Nancy Pelosi who I believe is still at 5 hours and then some into a speech in favor of passing the Dream Act or Democrats won't vote for the Senate bill to keep the government open. 

I have always been a huge fan of Nancy Pelosi, the best Democratic Leader in the House during my lifetime. 

Robin Holland - Exodus And The African American Experience

For about the past two weeks I've been going into the book of Exodus, reading a number of translations and versions, reading different commentary on it, concentrating especially on those of Everett Fox and those that I'm finding at the Jewish Theological Seminary site as well as in various Bibles, the Christian Community Bible commentary has some especially interesting things to say.

Another thing I found really interesting is this interview with Richard Elliott Friedman - from a Reformed Jewish website - on the historicity of the Exodus from Egypt that points out that though the archeological community has not found evidence of an exodus, that the Sinai desert is especially effective in burying even evidence of forty-year old events known to have happened:

I respect Professor Sperling and Rabbi Wolpe. They were understandably following the claims of some of our archaeologists. Those archaeologists’ claims that the Exodus never happened are not based on evidence, but largely on its absence. They assert that we’ve combed the Sinai and not found any evidence of the mass of millions of people whom the Bible says were there for 40 years. That assertion is just not true. There have not been many major excavations in the Sinai, and we most certainly have not combed it. Moreover, uncovering objects buried 3,200 years ago is a daunting endeavor. An Israeli colleague laughingly told me that a vehicle that had been lost in the 1973 Yom Kippur War was recently uncovered under 16 meters—that’s 52 feet—of sand. Fifty-two feet in 40 years!

If that's the case then it's no wonder that even a large Exodus event happened that no sign of it might be found.  Though I don't see any need for the numbers in the book to be accurate, they tend to exaggerate things over time.   As Marilynne Robinson pointed out you'd think the entire population of France participated in the resistance only a few years after the war, by the claims people made.  His arguments for an Exodus that primarily or exclusively involved a Levite community, in which a large number of peculiarly Egyptian names and cultural artifacts survive in the text as well as a theory of how the Levites - who he attributes extreme and stubborn, even violent coercivity  to - got the El tradition to meld with the YHWH tradition of the Levites.  Which is interesting even if you don't find it entirely convincing.

I don't think any of it needed to happen for the meaning of the what was said to have been both true and useful and entirely relevant to the experience of beleaguered human beings, today.  The whole thing could be one long parable, though one with distinct parts put together by generations of scholar-priests.  I did find the claim that the Song of Miriam and the Song of Deborah being the two oldest texts in that line of narrative to be interesting and how it may have grown from them.  Everett Fox points out that in the story of Moses, his entire existence, and so the entire story, depends on women saving his life, his mother, his sister, the two Egyptian-named midwives - unlike Pharaoh and his daughter, the two mid-wives have names - and I'll add Moses' wife,  Tzippora, who saves Moses when the text says that YHWH tried to kill him while they were going to Egypt by doing some magic with the foreskin of their son.  The commentaries speculate that it means Moses got really sick on the way, not that God was literally trying to kill Moses.   It's a really fascinating text, it's too bad more people don't read it and that those who do often don't take advantage of commentaries written by people who have studied it in the context of the Scriptures and other relevant scholarship.


Walter Brueggemann in Chapter 8 of The Bible Makes Sense talks a lot about how, growing directly out of the Exodus narrative and the moral consequences and obligations that the Jewish priests and scholars taught came from that experience, especially as interpreted by Paul the Pharisee and the other Jews who wrote the New Testament, are relevant to modern life.

 Slaves Become Sons and Daughter

This good news exposes our previous status as one that can and must be given up.  We are empowered to quit being who we were.  We are permitted to regard ourselves differently.  Two images suggest themselves by which we may appreciate what it means to be adopted children  First, before people in the biblical world become adopted and treasured children, they are often slaves or servants.  They are already present in the household, but they have no value of their own.  They are kept only for the work they can perform.  They have no rights and no reason to hope for any long term security.  They do not belong.  Indeed their well-being depends completely on their good performance 

The slave motif is at the root of biblical imagery.  In the Exodus event, the LORD frees the slaves because he has adopted them as his treasured children: 

Thus says the LORD:  Israel is my first-born son, and I say to you,  “Let my so go that he may serve me” (Exodus 4:22-23).

In that powerful act of liberating, their status in life is redefined and they are given a new identity.  They cannot refuse it and Pharaoh cannot resist it.  God has power to make people into his precious children (Matthew 3:9).

9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Now their life consists, not in the capricious pleasures of the brick-yard Pharaoh, but in the affirming fidelity of this God who takes children into his household. 

Our society is filled with the same kind of slaves,  people who must daily establish their worth by performing someone's assigned tasks.   These are people who must daily live with anxiety concerning the day when they will be unable to perform.  Slaves live by obedient performance, effectively accomplishing what is expected.  They are nameless agents without intrinsic worth. 

The LORD characteristically transforms slaves into children  This is evident in the story of the prodigal son, Luke 15:11.  The son came home to be a servant:

Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son;  treat me as one of your hired servants (15:18-19).

But the father will not consider it and makes his own insistence:

Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him;  and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat  and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive
again;  he was lost, and is found (15:22-24).

The son was welcomed to the gather's table of joy, for a son does not gain his worth by his performance but by the will of the father.  

Orphans Become Adopted Children 

A second biblical image is that people are orphans – people who belong nowhere, who have no identity or rootage and no claim on anyone or anything.   The term orphan sociologically refers to those who have no voice in government, no advocate in court, no representation in any decision.  They are helpless victims without power to make any decisions about their own lives.  It is the staggering news of the Bible that the LORD takes orphans and brings them into his family, declares them his children, gives a new identity and redefines their status:

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing (Deuteronomy 10:18).

In thee the orphan finds mercy (Hosea 14:3).

Our society is filled with such rootless people.  It includes the economically disadvantaged who have no advocate among the powerful.   It also includes some powerful who are rootless and in fact belong nowhere.  It is a striking reality that lostness and displacedness characterize goth the conventional poor who owe their souls to the company store and the beholden class of middle income who also are enmeshed in corporate structures which displace.  Vance Packard has shown how we are A Nation of Strangers.  He describes the disintegration of personality and community with such displacement.  The gospel is not only an assurance of belonging but a harsh protest against such an ordering of society. 

The good news of adoption is addressed to no special class.  Rather it addresses persons of every age and class whose humanity is diminished by displacement.  It may be that a perception of reality free of ideology will enable us to see that this is a malady effectively destroying our notion of humanness.  Humanness mean to belong and to have dignity!  But among us are the demonic powers of alienation which address us all. 

Which you should remember when you hear Paul Ryan or other white washed tombs and the Trumpian-Mammonist Halleluliah peddlers.  Not to mention the atheists and anti-religious distorters.

Stephen Colbert Correctly Diagnoses Elon Musk And The Scientists Of Doritos

Especially pay attention to the Elon Musk part of it, a rich man's mid-life crisis can last the rest of their life.   Look at Trump, he's been stuck in the terrible-twos his entire life and my troll(s) who never got past the emotional age of 12.   You can see it on blogs that develop a "community" all over the place.  Yet another argument for why we must have economic laws and policies that prevent the development of multimillionaires and billionaires.   They're frickin' dangerous.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Charles, Why Not Say What We Both Know And Most Other People Do, Too

As far as I know, President Obama’s DACA program never has been declared to be unconstitutional in any court of law. It is “considered to be unconstitutional” by conservative scholars and pundits, but that doesn’t really count, no matter how much Kelly would like it to matter. There’s a lot of the old ethnic Boston in this guy. That is not a compliment.

Why not just come out and say what we both know and which, if we didn't, we did when he told a stereotype-filled series of lies about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson,  John Kelly is your typical and vicious Boston Irish racist.   They were a big part of what fueled some of the uglier post-60s manifestations of racism in the anti-integration riots of the 1970s, though hardly the only thing and lots of Irish named people were thoroughly ashamed to share an ethnicity with them.   That he's teamed up with the bizarre Jewish-Nazi Stephen Miller running the defective and already racist automaton they supposedly work for to promote the same kind of vicious racism that we both saw night after night from channel 4 or 5 or 7 in 1974.   If you want a reminder of what that looked like, look at ICE from the past year. 

There Is No More Reason To Believe Even One Other Universe Exists Than There Is In A Six-Day Creation, They Both Have The Same Basis In Evidence

There is a philosopher called Friedrich Hegel, whom I must confess I specifically detest  And I am happy to share that profound feeling with a far greater man, [Karl Friedrich ] Gauss.  In 1800 Hegel presented a thesis, if you please, proving that although the definition of planets had changed since the Ancients, there still could only be, philosophically, seven planets. . . On 1 January 1801, before the ink was dry on Hegel's dissertation, an eighth planet was discovered - the minor planet Ceres. 
Jacob Bronowski: Knowledge or Certainty

I cannot pass over without a comment on old Hegel, who they say had no profound mathematical scientific education. Hegel knew so much about mathematics that none of his pupils were in a position to publish the numerous mathematical manuscripts among his papers. The only man to my knowledge to understand enough about mathematics and philosophy to be able to do that is Marx.  Fridrich Engels: Letter to A. Lange, March 29, 1865

If you can't find intelligent life in this universe using the best guess of the sciency designers of such equipment as the Mars lander and planners of the SETI program and whatever, you're not going to do it anywhere on the basis of equations or even logic.  Or eliminate it by number work.   In the jillions of, in that most paradoxical of phrases "other universes" numbering in the quadrillions if not, and why not, infinities of them, that atheists needed to create to get rid of the improbability against us existing maybe there are who knows how many of the best minds of  bazillions of species who, looking at a description of our universe, couldn't imagine the possibility of life arising in such an absurdly improbable place?   When you do science by making it up to suit your ideological purpose, why not imagine that? 

I mean, when you're talking multiverse, you're not talking about anything but the ultimate Just-so story of all Just-so stories, the whole thing is make believe, not observation, measurement and analysis.  It's no different from any other creation myth, their god "random events" being constrained by the power "probability" under an overarching theme that whatever Earth physicists and cosmologists can dream up MUST BE.  It's a bunch of atheists declaring they have the power to create worlds by dreaming them up.  And if you think that's far fetched, I'll refer you, once again to Hugh Everett's, I kid you not, taken-seriously "many worlds multiverse" fable.  Those insane girls who believed they had communicated with Lord Voldemort and tried to murder a classmate to propitiate the Slender Man weren't any more detached from known reality.*   But it's atheist-satisfying creation myth made up by people with degrees in science, so it's got a nihil obstat imprimatur from the official organs of science.   Compared to that, at least the six-day creationists are dealing with things that we can see around us today, wrong as they get it and for dishonest purposes, at least they're that reality based.

*  For some reason, writing that, I was reminded of Ayn Rand's c. 1928 diary entries in which she drooled over the horrifically cruel, cowardly serial killer William Edward Hickman.   I remember reading excerpts from her diary, it was clear she loved the idea of murdering people and dreaming up psychotic philosophical horse shit to make it into some Nietzschean act of pure will, him into some powerful hero of the will.   How that differs from the thinking of the Slender Man would-be killers, I can't see.   But she's one of the dominant intellectual forces of the Republican-fascist party.
I had another appointment this morning,  Tuesdays are a bad day for me, I'm working on something to post later. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

About The Ad

I didn't see the ad till today, I didn't hear about it till today but all I can say after hearing it is I think Dexter King is a monumental and mercenary jerk. 

I Think Your Claim Wound Down To Absurdity A Long Time Ago, Though Not In An Infinite Past

How indeed can you test what existed before the universe existed? You can’t.  George Ellis

Geesh, try thinking, for once.   A steady-state universe IS an infinite regression, even in the alternative version of it in a universe ensemble that includes ours that goes in and out of existence.   It inevitably involves a regression of an actual infinity of, not just numbers, but entire universes into an infinite past that will progress into an infinite future.  It inevitably involves a claim that there are an infinite number of things including all of the logical paradoxes and contradictions and problems of that.  

I don't know if the criticism is true that the idea violates one of the most cherished items in physical theory, The Second Law of Thermodynamics to the extent that if that were valid such an ensemble would have had to have devolved into total chaos unable to produce a fluctuation into our, present universe,  it's way past my ability to read the equations and follow the arguments.   But I'd love to hear why it wouldn't.  

If the physical laws for each incarnation of the universe are different then I don't know how you can assume that our physics can tell you anything at all legitimate about those earlier ones you imagine.  Maybe in the last one the physics was such that it was the absolute first instead of just one that regressed into the infinite past and IT was the actual origin of the universe in ways which will forever be out of the reach of today's cosmology and physics.  If not, then that Second Law problem looks like a real one, to me.   Maybe our universe is wound down just enough that our physics can't tell us what we'd need to know to figure that out.  Hell, maybe the physical nature of OUR earliest universe, before the horizon before which physics can't see and so can't know would tell us why the Big Bang really was the real beginning of it all. 

That's like the problem of the multiverse dodge that claims that in other universes the physics and other foundations of the science they claim to create those universes out of are, in some unspecified way, "different" than here when those "differences" can't be asserted except from within the physics, logic and mathematics that we find work, to some extent, here.  

In the most absurd of all of the multiverse nonsense I'm aware of, Hugh Everett's claim that every event in our universe generates new universes in which alternative events happen, I'm wondering since scientists like him refuse to believe that God could have the power that created this, one universe where his sect of the multiverse religion believes the power to fuel this continual creation of infinities of universes comes from.   But they let them call it science - in the total absence of not only any evidence but even a prospect of finding evidence to support their claims - since it's convenient for atheism.  

I'd still like to know how, since they can't even find "other life" in our, one universe they think they can confirm that "other universes" either have or don't have life, not to mention intelligent life.   Maybe every one does because God favors life, as I believe it says in Scripture. 

This isn't much but the classical definition of science, which has gained science such repute, reverting to something even more authoritarian and absurd than scholastic science.  At least that was motivated by and held their theories up to observable phenomena.   This stuff isn't and I'm going to say, certainly never will be tested.  It is rankest intellectual dishonesty in service to atheist ideology.  It is writing science-fiction in equations and passing that off as knowledge when it is unevidenced pretending based on no observation or measurement of actual phenomena. 

Update on my earlier post:  I should have noted that even as Bertrand Russell was making his argument against the idea of an infinite regression so as to defeat the idea that God caused things, he, himself, advocated an infinite regression in a steady-state universe in which there was an infinite past.  I'm not sure if he ever felt compelled to acknowledge that the evidence didn't support that in his last years. 

Rocks In Their Heads All The Way Up

The "turtles all the way down" slogan I referred to the other day is a popular locution amone pop atheists,  I don't think they realize it's an attack on the idea of an infinite regress even as some current atheist heroes, such as Sean Carroll try to revive the steady-state universe that atheists have long favored, in an attempt to get away from the Big Bang and an absolute beginning of the universe by inventing various scenarios of a universe or, worse, a multiverse ensemble, that fluctuates in and out of existence, in order to get away from the question of why the one and only universe we know seems to have had an absolute beginning, matter, space, time, the whole thing.  Of course the reason they don't like that is the reason that, after the origin of the universe in a Big Bang was first theorized, lots of cosmologists and physicists and others hated the idea because it corresponds more than they like with the description of the origin of the universe in Scripture.  That's the reason that as recently as into the 1990s one of the high priests of materialist-atheist scientism, John Maddox, the editor of Nature, about as prestigious a journal of science as there is, railed against the Big Bang, sounding like a deranged political fanatic than a measured thinker in the pages of that august publication.

So, the common use of "turtles all the way down" is generally incompetent, as is the widely repeated belief that Bertrand Russell heard some little old lady (or man, in some iterations of the urban legend) give that as an explanation of a flat Earth.  But, from what I've read, he never claimed that, he rather mockingly cited a Hindu belief roughly equivalent to the Greek myth of Atlas, only with animals.  Only that's not what he said, at all, as you can read in his famous essay, Why I Am Not A Christian.

I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: ‘My father taught me that the question, “Who made me?” cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question, “Who made God?” ’ That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu’s view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, ‘How about the tortoise?’ the Indian said, ‘Suppose we change the subject.’ The argument is really no better than that. There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed. There is no reason to suppose that the world had a beginning at all. The idea that things must have a beginning is really due to the poverty of our imagination. Therefore, perhaps, I need not waste any more time upon the argument about the First Cause.

Russell's use of the argument here is dishonest because the premise "If everything must have a cause," has never been the monotheistic understanding of God because God isn't a "thing" and didn't have a beginning.  God could well serve as a "First Cause" if you wanted to "prove" the existence of God from that argument, something that some forms of Hinduism - which David Bentley Hart has argued are properly considered monotheistic in the same sense - also hold about the overall Creator who is distinctly different from the "gods" of the polytheistic pantheon, which are created in their mythologies.  God, as understood in  Jewish-Christian-Islamic-etc. monotheism is not created, is not a thing in the created universe, God is the Creator of the Universe.  All Russell did was choose to pretend not to know that so he could dismiss the argument.  I don't make the argument because, as I said yesterday, believing in God is, in the end a matter of choice, a choice to be persuaded.  As can be seen in Russell's choice to ignore something he obviously would have understood - he was one of the masters of logic, for crying out loud - to give a dishonest and superficial line to the atheists of the English Speaking Peoples.

Though Russell made rather crude and dishonest use of the "turtles" stuff, he was no where near as dishonest as atheists put their assertions about what he said to.  I think he'd be embarrassed if he knew how foolish they tend to be.   You look at how it's cited by even some atheists held in great esteem in intellectual circles and it's pretty clear THEY NEVER READ THE ESSAY, they probably read a misleading clip or, worse, another citation by distortion of it.

And, even worse, a lot of atheists seem to want to attribute it to William James when he made a far more sophisticated and non-chauvinistic use of a "rocks all the way down" fable that if you want to hold that there are objectively true morals then you have to have an absolute source of that morality, you can't just cite an infinite regression of "shoulds,"  from his far superior essay, Rationality, Activity and Faith.

For the absolute moralists, on the contrary, we can never explain a given should except by reference to a still deeper should.  The moral judgments is irreducible, and independent of all judgments of fact.  It applies to the subjective interests as well as to the phenomena which they measure.  Not only is it best for my social interests to keep my promise, but best for me to have those interests and best for the cosmos to have this me.  Like the old woman in the story who described the world as resting on a rock, and then explained that rock to be supported by another rock, and finally when pushed with questions said it was "rocks all the way down," he who believes this to be a radically moral universe must hold the moral order to rest either on an absolute and ultimate should or on a series of shoulds "all the way down.

Which is not an argument against the reality of morality, it's an argument that you can't get durable moral holdings, held to be truth without "an absolute and ultimate should" which would have to have its origin in someone who determined that as there is no source of that outside of a conscious mind. So, I'm very, very sure that any materialist-atheist of the scientistic variety who cites William James in that way never read the essay he said it in or even the paragraph or section he put it in.

I don't have the time right now to go through the essay, having read it through once, it will take a lot longer to do it anything like justice,  William James was a far deeper thinker than Russell, especially when Russell was writing as a missionary of materialistic atheism.  I will, though, take this out because it shows that more than a hundred thirty years ago the very same lines of atheist ideology within science and other academic fields was carrying on in exactly the same irrational ways they are today, the new atheism is really Victorian age scientistic materialism reheated, yet again.  There's nothing new in the static world view of atheism.

The wrath of science against miracles, of certain philosophers against the doctrine of free will, has precisely the same root: dislike to admit any ultimate factor in things which may rout our precision or upset the stability of our outlook .

I think he would have better said they hated the ideas of miracles and free will because it routed their precision and upset the stability of their outlook, they being atheists.  That is seen in virtually the entire academic scene whenever atheists make some assertion, even within science, that approaches the ideas of religion.  They've succeeded in inserting their ideology even within science, such fields as cosmology and evolutionary science - not to mention psychology and the other quasi and pseudosciences.  And they've been allowed to do that because that ideology  hegemonistically, aggressively and threateningly dominates intellectual life.

And, from what I've read, the "turtles" and "rocks" story goes back even farther, used every which way but, it would seem, not often the way the original point of the story intended.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Oh, dear, no.  I would say I generally don't reply to Simp's simplicity.   There are literally hundreds of his attempted comments sent ignored to the spam file of this blog, under his name and under those of his sock puppets.  

Things You Can Do This Afternoon While That Dumb Game Is Going On

1.  Read Echidne of the Snakes three part book review about Jordan Peterson and why his cult is buying a bucket of bilge.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

2.  Listen to the brilliant and insightful interview that Michael Enright did with Henry Mintzberg about what is wrong with both the American and Canadian healthcare systems and why any sane American would rather have their problems than ours.

Medicine is a calling, not a business: Henry Mintzberg

If they put out a transcript of the interview tomorrow I will probably be writing about it.

3,  Read a book. 

Heck, if they had a curling match on near you you should go see that instead.  Or learn to do it.  I'd rather watch people sweeping floors without the ice or match.

I Repeat: Did You Really Expect Me To Care If The Traitors Are Going To Play During The American Mammonist's Religious Holiday?

So, what I have decided, and I'm not going to let you vote on this (laughter) I have decided that the Jesus movement, the earliest Jesus movement is essentially a protest against the economy of extraction and the proposal and practice of an alternative economy.  And I get that because if you look in – well, I don't know if you know the Letter of James but the Letter of James, the lead apostle, is filled with warnings about the love of money which in context means don't sign on with Rome.  But in the Epistles of Paul, in Galatians, I think it's chapter 5, Paul has a list of what he calls the desires of the flesh are greed, lust, fornication, licentiousness, quarrelsomeness, which I think names – if accumulating more money is the goal of your life, that's the kind of society you will get and that's the kind of society that we have.  So I have come to think, --- you won't mind if I say this since the Cowboys have been winners lately – (laughter)  that the NFL is basically the liturgy for that society.  The NFL is all about sex, money, and violence and they now say the NFL's slogan is “We own Sunday”. (inaudible)    Paul answers desires of the flesh with a list of the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, humility, kindness, patience.  These are the kinds of habits that will not be developed if our commitments are to the competition system.  They are habits that are only viable if we come to regard, if we come to practice solidarity with all our neighbors.  

Walter Brueggemann, at about 17:30 here.

I would put it a bit more harshly than he did.  I have always loathed American football.

First posted about a year ago when the frickin' New England team was then playing in that spectacle of depravity.   I loathe American football.  What I can add to this is that when I once watched a little bit of a football game I couldn't believe how stultifyingly boring it was. minutes of huddling and talking and setting up for a few seconds of violence, followed by more huddling and talking and setting up interrupted only by the referees trying to figure out what had happened and, sometimes, arguments with them by coaches and players and looking at videotape.   By comparison baseball (of which I'm not a fan, either) is fast paced and stimulating.  John Cleese in his comparison of real football, "soccer" and American football pointed out American football is so boring they have to have dancing girls on the sidelines to distract people from the boredom.  I think that is why football surpassed baseball in popularity as people got stupider and more attention deficient from watching TV.  And why "soccer" hasn't become as popular, you have to pay attention to what's happening.  It's the depravity of decaying Rome in North America in the 21st century.

I'll add that since the asshole owner and that Brady guy and who knows how many of the brain-damaged millionaire players endorsed the treasonous Putin crime family asset, Trump, they should be sued for false advertising in calling their company "Patriots".  They should be called the "Traitors."

Whine, Whine, Whine, It's All You Guys Do

The claims about improbability of things occurring at random,  by chance is most easily understood in terms of some larger number as opposed to one.  You can, of course, express it in terms of chances to some other number but that's just a matter of convenience to avoid dealing with fractions or decimals.  I've always heard "fine tuning" arguments expressed in terms of some stupendously large number to one because the improbabilities get so big in those arguments that opposing them to fractions doesn't help comprehension.

In other words, it's a measure of the probability of something happening once.  If it is a one in one chance of something happening, that's an expression of a virtual certainty that something is going to happen.  I'd say there's a one in one chance of someone being here to observe the sun rise in the morning because if the sun didn't rise there is no chance of anyone being around for it to happen.  While the chances that that one being "intelligent" are less certain, it was true on the first day that the first creature with a consciousness sufficiently capacious to perceive the heat from sunlight and presumably every day since then.

If the chances are one in two, then there's a chance something might happen or it might not and, with a sufficiently large sample, eventually it would happen in half the cases of that happening and in the other half it not happening.

If it were a five to one chance of it happening, in a sufficiently large sample then, if it were happening by chance, only one fifth of the examples in the sample showing what you were testing would happen.

As I said, I don't know if it is accurate that, as Barrow and Tipler claimed that there are (at least?) 10 events in the history of the universe that were required for intelligent life to arise, the probability of each of which is so remote that the sun should have gone through its entire evolution before it happened through random chance probability once is true.  Keep in mind they were atheists making claims that supported atheism.

But if even some of the less (though still vanishingly small) probabilities that comprise the anthropic argument AND THE ATHEISTS' BASIS FOR THE  CREATION OF  AND ARGUMENTS FROM THEIR MULTIVERSE CONJECTURE are that the chances of things being as they are are some stupendously large number to one against it happening and the accumulated improbabilities comprise an ever so much more stupendously large number against what we like to think of as our intelligent species being here, that it was so improbable of it happening even in our one case, if it happened twice it wouldn't be that huge number to one of it happening but that huge number against one half. 

If it happened the huge number of times that the sci-ranger, SETI true believers like to throw around as "must be true" based on the number of stars in the visible universe, then the basis for that in contemporary physics and cosmology is of such improbability that discovering two or five other lines of life arising would have to compel either a a belief that our physics is entirely inadequate to tell us much about physical reality or that things didn't happen by chance but by design and that the design was part of the creation of physical reality through the Creator of the universe. 

So, either it's a choice of believing your physics is drastically wrong, taking down the whole friggin' thing or believing in God, I guess.  Atheists live by the sword of citation of sciency improbabilities so they can die by it, too.  If you want to go that route.

And if you want to take the multiverse dodge away from the problem, that leads to all kinds of other problems for physics and, even more problematic, logic.  Since multiverses are not and almost certainly will never be observable, then if you want science to contain that conjecture, you've got to give up the most basic constituents of scientific method and your "science" stops being science and starts being sci-fi written in equations instead of florid, decadent adverb and adjective stuffed prose.  For a start, how would you confirm that any other universe DID NOT contain intelligent life unless you can find it THERE and not in some equation?  Given the number of years that SETI stuff has been looking for just an inkling of life on our universe, I'd love to hear how the "scientists" of the multiverse conjecture propose to determine that there is no life in universes they can't observe.

Not to mention that such a multiverse system may have to be even more finely tuned to produce whatever results it does.  My speculation is that eventually it would lead to the impossibilities of the calculations of probabilities being performed in the history of the human species, perhaps the life span of intelligent life in our universe.   I don't see that this multiverse gets you much except trying to do the "turtles all the way down" with universes instead of turtles.

Of course, I've said all along that I didn't much care about arguing for the existence of God for several reasons one of them because, in the end, it's a matter of choosing to believe, just as it's a matter of choosing to believe that there is no God or choosing to believe in the "multiverse" or whichever of those atheist cosmologists dream up and argue for and which their grad students will probably be fighting about till that baseless speculative hulk falls into the boneyard of discontinued science.   The habit of claiming that knowledge isn't in the end, a matter of choosing to believe something, a matter of choice, is pretty silly.