September 26, 2020

My Forthcoming Paper and Scholarly Vision

Last September, Theology and Science accepted my submission "Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism. Three months later, I inquired about the proofs and they told me that they have a backlog of papers and hope to publish all papers within two years of their acceptance. Researchers wait like this all the time in the world of academic publishing. Anyway, I felt excited last week when a production editor emailed me with my article's DOI and told me that I would receive my proofs by the end of this month, yeah.

This paper lays an important foundation for my future research in metaphysics, philosophy of science, and theology. More importantly, I see a vision for three academic books based on my research.

Before I describe my envisioned books, here I list my modest bibliography that I worked on in my so-called free time as an independent scholar:

– "Conditional Futurism: New Perspective of End-Time Prophecy," Resource Publication (2012).
– "Natural Unity and Paradoxes of Legal Persons," Journal Jurisprudence 21 (2014).
– "Identical Legal Entities and the Trinity: Relative-Social Trinitarianism," Journal of Analytic Theology 4 (2016).
– "Semiclassical Theism and the Passage of Planck Times," Theology and Science 14:3 (2016).
– "Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism," Theology and Science (forthcoming) https://doi.org/10.1080/14746700.2020.1825195.

My original scholarly conjectures in these publications include the universal wormhole, semiclassical theism, semiclassical Christianity, Relative-Social Trinitarianism, the legal theory of identity, and conditional futurism.

I now envision expanding these concepts in the following three books:

– "Logic, Reality, and Science"
– "Semiclassical Theism"
– "Semiclassical Christianity"

"Logic, Reality, and Science" will focus on my research about the laws of thought, identity, metaphysical realism, scientific realism, presentism, quantum logic, relativity, quantum gravity, quantum field theory, physical cosmology, the origin of life, biological evolution, social groups, moral realism, the neuroscience of death experience, emergent dualism, and restricted free will.

"Semiclassical Theism" will develop my natural theology, semiclassical theism, which coheres with my perspectives on philosophy and science. The book will focus on the semiclassical cosmological argument; God and time; divine attributes; divine providence; theodicy; the problem of evil; the origin of life; biological evolution; moral realism; the neuroscience of death experience; emergent dualism; restricted free will; and the fate of the physical universe.

"Semiclassical Christianity" will introduce a systematic theology that combines my semiclassical theism with my Relative-Social Trinitarianism and biblical studies. Topics will include the development of theology, divine revelation; the Trinity; the Father; the Son; the Holy Spirit; creation; divine providence; angels; demons; humans; the conditional nature of divine covenants and predictive prophecy; the redemptive nature of divine punishments; the atonement; sanctification, continuationism, and eschatology.

However, each book could take up to one year of full-time work to complete, and I currently have no idea how I will have the time and finances to write them or propose anybody a deadline. In the meantime, I plug away at more related papers while I am pray about this vision and many other things.

Copyright © 2020 James Edward Goetz

February 6, 2020

The Good Place Theology: Spoiler Alert

I love the fantasy comedy "The Good Place." I disagree with some implications of its fantasy world, but I nonetheless enjoy exercising the suspension of disbelief while appreciating the show's combination of comedy and philosophy. This blog post focuses on the theology revealed in the final two episodes, Season 4, Episodes 12-13. Spoiler Alert: I wrote this for fans who already watched the finale.

"The Good Place" exhibits many comedic twists and turns. I note four striking plot twists:

First, the season 1 finale reveals that Michael acted as a Good Place architect while actually a demonic Bad Place architect who designed psychological torment for the damned foursome—Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, and Jason.

Second, Michael repents and befriends the foursome while conniving with his supernaturally resourceful assistant Janet to help the foursome enter the real Good Place.

Third, the Bad Place arch architect Shawn agrees to work with Michael to overhaul the afterlife judgments.

Fourth, the four humans, Michael, and Janet finally arrive at the real Good Place and soon discover that all other humans in the Good Place struggle with lethargy.

This post focuses on the fourth plot twist which occured in the second to last episode, "Patty." The six friends finally arrive in the Good Place and everybody there receives anything that they request from a Good Place Janet or passage through a portal. That is, all inhabitants experience a magical paradise. Also, Chidi meets Patty, the famous polymath philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria who died in 415. Soon, Patty requests help for the inhabitants of the Good Place because everybody is "screwed." Then, Patty forgot what she requested.

It turns out that everybody in the Good Place becomes numb to the reception of everything that they request while their brains become dull. For example, Patty, once a world-renowned mathematician, can barely refer to numbers such as the number "5" on her shirt. Also, Eleanor observes that every long-term resident of the Good Place acts like a "happiness zombie."

In a related twist, Michael becomes the Good Place arch architect. Then, he designs an optional peaceful last door from the Good Place based on the belief stated by Eleanor that mortality gives meaning to life. Everybody in the Good Place can experience all their fantasies as many times as they like forever or until they feel ready to end their journey by peacefully passing through the last door. The announcement of the last door revitalizes the Good Place residents.

Early in the final episode, "Whenever You're Ready," Jason fulfilled all his fantasies and felt ready to pass through the last door. He perceived that he would peacefully dissolve back into the universe.

Later, Chidi felt ready to pass through the last door and Eleanor asked him to console her by quoting something from Western philosophers such as John Locke or Immanual Kant. However, Chidi said that they focused on rules and regulations while you need to turn to the East for spiritual stuff. Then, Chidi poignantly described a Buddhist concept of human life and death while analogizing a human to a wave in the ocean. My paraphrase follows. The wave exhibits visible and measurable material properties, such as volume and ability to refract light. We can see the wave and know what it is. Then, the wave crashes on the shore and ceases to exist, but the water still exists. The wave was merely a different way for the water to exist for a temporary period of time. The wave returns to the ocean from where it originated and from where it belongs.

The above indicates that "The Good Place" described some Buddhist traditions. Let me explain some more background about Buddhism. All devout Buddhists strive to achieve Nirvana. Nirvana is typically associated with bliss and the liberation of suffering from the cycles of death and rebirth with a different set of genes, also known as reincarnation. The liberation includes the end of desire and identity. Buddhism also rejects the existence of a supreme deity and a foremost origin of the material universe. However, "The Good Place" world never included reincarnation. The architects and Janets developed a system of do-overs, but that drastically differs from any concept of reincarnation in Eastern religions. Likewise, by no means does the "The Good Place" completely represent a Buddhist worldview.

Also, the fantasy paradise of the Good Place resembles various Hindu traditions about Svarga Loka or Swarga Loka, a temporary heaven. For example, some say that Svarga Loka means "Good Kingdom." And some say that inhabitants of Svarga Loka receive everything that they wish.

Perhaps, the Good Place refers to Svarga Loka that means Good Kingdom and grants every wish for every inhabitant. However, inhabitants of Svarga Loka go back to their cycles of rebirth and death until it ends. Also, all devout Hindus strive to end their suffering cycles of rebirth and death while achieving a state of Moksha, sometimes called Nirvana. Some traditions of Moksha include unification with the Supreme Being while other traditions reject the existence of supreme deity, comparable to Buddhism.

As stated in my first paragraph, I greatly enjoy "The Good Place" while exercising the suspension of disbelief. Now, I will describe some of my disbelief in "The Good Place" fantasy world. My worldview begins with the belief that God is love and distinct from creation while God always loves every human come hell or high water, literally. I also believe that human identity never ceases to exist. Alternatively, "The Good Place" world reveals no emphasis for loving relationships between God and humans while describing that the ultimate human goal is to achieve a dissolved state that ends our identity and loving relationships.

I enjoyed "The Good Place" because of its superb comedy, great acting, eye candy, discussions of ethics, emphasis on friendship, and the possibility of redemption for everybody including sadistic Bad Place architects. Yes, I love stories with redemption.

I appreciate that a fantasy Good Place eventually results in boredom. For example, Jesus Christ taught about a never ending heaven but never taught about a never ending paradise filled with earthly pleasures. For instance, Jesus taught in Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, and Luke 20 34-36 that everlasting life after the Resurrection excludes sexual relations and marriage. This implies that everlasting life includes loving relationships that surpass the fulfillment of earthly marriage while God centers all loving relationships.

As much as I love "The Good Place" and its characters, I possess no desire to eventually, completely dissolve back into the universe. Also, an ocean wave is not merely water in a temporary form, but it is water and wave energy combined together. The wave crashing on the shore dissipates the energy which leaves the water. In my case, I desire to forever live and love with God and all rational creatures such as humans, while us rational creatures flourish with our identity.

December 14, 2019

Biblical Figures of Speech and Theology

I feel bittersweet about Augustine. He lived from 354 to 430 in Romanized North Africa and became a Western Christian bishop, theologian, and philosopher. His legacy dominated Western Christian theology and philosophy for over one thousand years. I appreciate his intellect and devotion while I sometimes strongly disagree with him.

Augustine developed classical theism and combined it with Christian theology. For example, classical theism says that God has always been perfect and beyond improvement while God cannot possibly change. Also, Augustine based classical theism on Platonism. That is, Platonism is the philosophy of Plato and any of his followers throughout history, while Plato lived in Greece during the fifth-to-fourth century B.C. and founded the first institution of higher education in Western civilization.

Consider Augustine, "City of God," book 15, chapter 25. He said that God never experiences any disturbance of mind such as anger, despite numerous Bible passages describing God's anger or "wrath" which is extreme anger.

For example, Exodus 32:9-10: "The Lord said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.'"

The passage says that God wanted to burn in wrath toward the Israelites and kill all of them except for Moses. However, Augustine implied that every reference to God's anger or wrath in the Bible is a figure of speech referring strictly to judicial punishment while divine anger is unreal. Also, Augustine said that all biblical references to unreal divine anger were necessary for the Bible to reach all people with the importance of avoiding divine punishment.

I agree with Augustine that nothing unsettles God's divine nature. However, I strongly disagree with Augustine on some points of divine punishment. For example, Augustine taught that everybody who dies unreconciled with God will suffer never ending torment in hell with no chance of liberation, while my 2012 Resource Publications book "Conditional Futurism: New Perspective of End-Time Prophecy" describes the realistic possibility of postmortem salvation for people who die without salvation.

For the rest of this blog post, I focus not on my theological differences with Augustine but on the process of developing biblical theology. For example, Augustine diligently studied the Christian Bible, Christian theology, and Platonism before he developed his world-renowned theology and philosophy. In this context, he boldly developed and taught his merger of Platonism and Christian theology. He noticed that some Bible passages would contradict each other when literally interpreted and he developed a system of biblical interpretation that implied consistent doctrine throughout the Bible. For instance, any Bible passage that at first glance implies that God felt anger was a figurative biblical accommodation. Likewise, the literal meaning of a Bible passage is not always the objective meaning of the passage.

Serious biblical theologies focus on consistent theology. The consistency requires principles of biblical interpretation which are also called "biblical hermeneutics." For example, Augustine outlined his hermeneutics in "On Christian Doctrine." From those principles, he concluded that God has always been perfect and beyond improvement while God cannot possibly change. This implies that every Bible passage that literally describes that God has changed is figurative. Also, every Bible passage that describes divine revelation or divine intervention never implies that God has ever changed.

Biblical hermeneutics are both necessary and problematic for biblical theology. For example, let me explain the primary dispute between Reformed theology and Arminian theology. John Calvin and other leaders in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation developed Reformed theology based on Augustine's theology. One of their theological points is called "unconditional election" which says that God before creation chose those who eventually enjoy salvation while the basis of the choice is God's mysterious purposes apart from any conditions or qualities of those persons. However, the Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius in the early 17th century began to challenge the doctrine of unconditional election based on biblical theology. Arminius's followers called "Arminians" formally developed the doctrine of "conditional election" which says that God chooses those who enjoy salvation based on who responds to God's grace with faith.

Ironically, both unconditional and conditional election are supported by various seminaries and biblical scholars. Also, both sides of the election doctrine diligently study the same ancient manuscripts of the Bible and agree on most principles of Protestant hermeneutics, but they derive major difference in how they define the biblical Greek word translated to "predestined."

This blog post summarizes some important concepts of biblical interpretation. My next post will describe why I believe that the Bible teaches "supreme providence" which I described in my last post titled "God's Love and Limits."

Sources:
— Augustine, "City of God," book 15, chapter 25: Of the Anger of God, Which Does Not Inflame His Mind, Nor Disturb His Unchangeable Tranquillity, https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/102/1020446.htm.
— Augustine, "On Christian Doctrine," https://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/ecf/102/index.htm.
— James Goetz, "Conditional Futurism: New Perspective of End-Time Prophecy," Resource Publications, 2012, https://wipfandstock.com/conditional-futurism.html.
— James Goetz, "God's Love and Limits," https://theoperspectives.blogspot.com/2019/11/gods-love-and-limits.html.
— Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

November 7, 2019

God's Love and Limits

God's love and ability to create a universe from nothing does not imply that God can completely control the universe.

My forthcoming paper "Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism" presents a natural theology based on modern physics which describes creation from nothing and what I call "supreme providence." Supreme providence implies that the Supreme Being governs the universe with inexhaustible love, perception and power. However, God's perception and power created the universe with amazing particles that are beyond complete control. This helps to explain the coexistence of God and extensive, horrific evil in the universe.

I describe the philosophical problem of evil:

"Extensive horrific suffering caused by diseases, accidents, and natural disasters could be prevented by God as defined by traditional divine attributes. Also, theists believe that God wants them to protect and help people who suffer from these horrors of nature. The protection and help includes prayers and practical support. So why does God not prevent these horrors of nature or do more to fix the consequences of the horrors? Furthermore, most theists support the moral rightness of protecting society by incarcerating perpetrators of serial rape, serial killing, mass murder, terrorism, human trafficking, and all crimes against humanity. So why does God not do more to protect society from the horrors caused by horrific perpetrators?"

Traditional theism says that God is all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful. This means that God can single-handedly and immediately prevent any and all evil, while God has nonetheless permitted the existence of all evil events experienced in history.

Typical justification for the coexistence of God and extensive, horrific evil says the following: God gave humans free will and humans abused the divine gift of free will; the existence of horrific evil is temporary; humans can develop moral excellence while resisting evil; faithful believers will eventually enjoy everlasting love and happiness without evil; and humans cannot always understand the divine reason for the existence of various horrific evil.

Many believers are content with the above reasons for extensive, horrific evil. However, I explain that creation from nothing and God's qualities of everlasting love, perception and power do not imply that God can completely control creation. Also, God always lovingly perceives everything and prayer sometimes results in divine intervention because of synergy between God and humans.

This post begins a new direction for my blogging while I focus on explaining my research on God's love and limits to the general public. Stay tuned for more.

Source: James Goetz, "Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism," Theology and Science (forthcoming) https://philarchive.org/archive/GOETSP-4.

October 25, 2019

Astronomical Entanglement and ER=EPR Indicate the Universal Wormhole

For Immediate Release

Astronomical quantum entanglement and quantum teleportation indicate nothingness and the universal wormhole. Researcher James Goetz proposes that the recent discovery that quantum entanglement extends to 2,000 light-years (10 quadrillion kilometers) and the ER=EPR conjecture indicate the existence of nothingness and the universal potential for quantum wormholes.

"ER=EPR" is a pseudo acronym that refers to Einstein-Rosen bridges and the EPR paradox. The ER=EPR conjecture says that any pair of entangled particles (EPR) is connected by an Einstein-Rosen bridge (ER), while ER is commonly called a "wormhole." No scientific evidence indicates the reality of any traversable wormhole which would have mouths at each end that permit particles to transport back and forth through the wormhole. However, quantum wormholes have no traversable mouths. The physics that indicates the impossibility or unlikeliness of traversable wormholes has nothing to do with the ER=EPR conjecture.

The EPR paradox refers to the famous 1935 paper by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen which describes what is now called "quantum entanglement" and respective "action at a distance." However, the authors rejected the possibility of entanglement and action at a distance because the theory of relativity implies that the entanglement of causally disconnected particles is impossible. Instead, the authors proposed that the appearance of entanglement was actually determinism caused by hidden variables. Standard physics eventually rejected hidden-variable theory and accepted the reality of quantum entanglement while there is no consensus for the structure of entanglement.

Ironically, later in 1935, Einstein and Rosen published their famous paper about relativity and theoretical 'bridges' that can connect causally disconnected regions of spacetime, that is, wormholes or ER. The irony is that wormhole theory can logically explain the entanglement of otherwise causally disconnected particles, for example, the EPR paradox. Also, nobody proposed a wormhole resolution for the EPR paradox until 2013 when Juan Maldacena and Leonard Susskind published "Cool Horizons for Entangled Black Holes" and introduced ER=EPR. Since then, Google Scholar has compiled over 700 references to ER=EPR.

The most amazing cases of entanglement include laboratory generated quantum teleportation and entangled pairs of photons in outer space. For example, quantum teleportation is the instantaneous transfer of quantum information from one location to a so-called causally disconnected location. Also, some entangled photons have endured for eight billion years while the action at distance expands to 2,000 light-years. The endurance of the entanglement is older than the Sun while the distance of the entanglement is 23 times the distance from the Sun to its nearest neighboring star. The cases of quantum teleportation and astronomical entanglement can be logically explained by the ER=EPR conjecture, while there is no other reasonable explanation for the teleportation and entanglement.

Goetz proposes the ER=EPR conjecture and the ubiquity of entanglement in laboratories and outer space indicate the existence of nothingness and the universal potential for quantum wormholes, that is, the universal wormhole. The universal wormhole has no mouths while it nonetheless can collapse the causal disconnection between any two locations in the universe. This permits a preferred focal pathway for a universal chronology despite the relativity of simultaneity which implies that there is no absolute universal chronology. Also, relativity does not imply the B-theory of time, eternalism and temporal parts. For example, relativity does not imply that objects persist through the time dimension in the same way they extend through the three spatial dimensions. Furthermore, Goetz develops more on modern physics for natural theology in his forthcoming paper "Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism."

Source: James Goetz, "Theodicy, Supreme Providence, and Semiclassical Theism," Theology and Science (forthcoming) https://philarchive.org/archive/GOETSP-4.

September 7, 2017

Outline for Christian Marriage

I enjoyed the privilege of officiating for the marriage of my daughter Julie-Anne and my new son-in-law Jon-Michael Miller. I also enjoyed the privileged of sharing premarital counsel with them, and Julie-Anne said that I could share this council on my blog.

I shared six poignant points with minimal elaboration that are designed for lifelong reflection. I started with the most important Christian principal and then five points on marriage.

1. Jesus taught that the greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:37–40 NIV)
2. Jesus and the New Testament writers upended Ancient Middle East patriarchy.
a. A respectable man would never talk to an unknown woman. But Jesus started a conversation with the Samaritan Woman.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (John 4:7 NIV)
b. Paul taught that a husband and wife equally belong to each other.
The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:3–4 NIV)
c. Traditional churches mistakenly teach complementarianism that says husbands are the sole head of a family and females cannot be a senior pastor of a church. But that is based on misinterpretation of Scriptures written in the context of a male dominated patriarchal society; while the total sum of the New Testament upends male dominance.
3. The Song of Solomon is an Old Testament book about passion and romance between a husband and wife. Some of the language is odd by modern standards, e.g., comparing a wife to a fine female horse. But that was an accolade in ancient times. The main point is that the Bible promotes passion and romance in marriage.

4. Jesus taught in Matthew 19:4–9 that marriage is a serious commitment that forms a new family. For example, Jesus said that God forms the marriage. This means that marriage is a synergistic union between spouses and God. For instance, Jesus does not support casual marriage or casual divorce.

5. Marriage is a commitment of love and faithfulness between spouses, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health. Decisions about children, careers, finances, and property need to consider the good of the family.

6. Marriage involves mutual respect for individual boundaries and the formation of a partnership and family.

Copyright © 2017 James Edward Goetz

July 3, 2017

The Christian Code of Honor for Men

01. Men understand the love and forgiveness of the Lord.
02. Men trust and obey the Lord in every circumstance.
03. Men love the Lord above all else.
04. Men act with courage and honor.
05. Men speak with courage and honor.
06. Men respect all authority without disobeying the Lord.
07. Men respect and care for all humans.
08. Men never take advantage of females.
09. Men advocate sexually chastity.
10. Men stand against injustice.

updated 07/03/2017

Copyright © 2011, 2017 James Edward Goetz