Friday, September 29, 2017

Phil Stilwell Gets Remedial Philosophy (quora)

How can the Holy Spirit be distinguished from Satan or human imagination?


Hans-Georg Lundahl
Studied religions as curious parallels and contrasts to Xtian faith since 9, 10?
Answered Wed
By the teaching of the Church and by the Charism of the Church.

Btw, human imagination may sometimes be autonomous, but is often used either by the devil or by the Holy Spirit.

If you pray for the Holy Spirit and are faithful in repelling what you justly think could most probably come from the Devil, there are chances your imagination will be among the lucky ones.

Imagination is first and foremost an organ, like sight or hearing : while we are able to use it, we experience it, and anything capable of manipulating it can be talking to us through it : God, God’s angels, Devils and Demons, if there be fairies certainly fairies as well, hypnotists …

Inconvenience afterwards
"Not posted publicly." - Yes, it was, but this tag appears today. I try to change, but the tag sits on, and I can't reedit the post to make another option, if even available.

When allowed to edit, I can click the three points which usually appear at the end of where my added arrow is.

The three points are not there = I can't edit.

I had hoped to change the settings to public, first by clicking the "Not posted publicly" and then by doing an edit of my answer. Neither worked.

Phil Stilwell
But all the signals I receive to confirm it is the Holy Spirit could be from Satan or my own imagination, right?

This seems to suggest we can never be sure: — H — (on the confirming witness of the holy spirit)

Above was answered
twice, in I and II


Hans-Georg Lundahl
“But all the signals I receive to confirm it is the Holy Spirit could be from Satan or my own imagination, right?”

Depends fairly much on how faithful you are in eliminating the possibilities of error.

Btw, when it comes to accepting the Christian faith, I certainly recommend external evidence, coming from the Church.

I think Calvin made up the claim his acceptance of 66 books was by the Holy Spirit inspiring that acceptance, while the other 7 books of a Catholic Bible, either it was not the Holy Spirit speaking to Calvin, or Calvin was deaf to the Holy Spirit about those other 7 books.

Phil Stilwell
Christians the world over claim it is the Holy Spirit leading them to very different conclusion. They all consult their particular Church leaders. Then they arrive at diametrically diverse conclusions. This is the contradiction I want to address. There is obviously no rigor in the way most Christians determine it is the Holy Spirit leading them one way or the other, or confirming their salvation. What I want is a rigorous description of the method through which one can unerringly know with full certainty it is the Holy Spirit.

— H — (on the confirming witness of the holy spirit)

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“Christians the world over claim it is the Holy Spirit leading them to very different conclusion. They all consult their particular Church leaders. Then they arrive at diametrically diverse conclusions.”

Catholics don’t.

We don’t chose Catholicism by saying the Holy Spirit drives Tom, Dick and Harry to conclude Catholicism is true.

We chose Catholicism in order so that Tom, Dick and Harry may have something other than internal witness about whether it is the Holy Spirit or the Devil who is speaking to them about their lives in a certain situation.

Phil Stilwell
How is it ascertained it was actually the Holy Spirit behind the ecclesiastical or personal confirmation or decision? I want to know the process. Imagine I feel God wants me to go to Mexico as a missionary. I’d like a rigorous description of the process. We are not playing games here.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
  • It is verified that the authority examining you is actually a Catholic authority, as the real Pope;
  • It is verified that Jesus promised the Catholic Church this power in the Gospels, notably not just the Apostles personally, but also their successors, to the end of all time, Matthew 28:16–20.

So, if it is a real Catholic authority, it has this promise by Christ.

How it goes about doing this certainly involves examining some external qualifications of yours, like, when it comes to Mexico, if you know Spanish. But considering Mexico is already Catholic, or used to be, it is more likely you mean to go to some Indian tribe, so the Pope or his representative would evaluate if you are good at learning Amerindian languages.

The evaluation of your general suitability as a clergyman is given along the lines St Paul gave Sts Titus and Timothy.

Btw, one little tip : don’t use the representatives of Antipope Bergoglio.

Phil Stilwell
No. I want to know the mechanism whereby you confirm that attributions of the Holy Sprit were actually the Holy Spirit. Science does this through predictive success. Where is the predictive success in your verification method? Is there another respectable way other than predictive success to confirm a claim such-and-such a feeling or decision was caused by the Holy Spirit?

Rigor. Not just assertions.

  • We all know anyone can defer to an ecclesiastical “authority” who themselves may be deceived by Satan or their imagination. There is an intrinsic eternal regress in this. I want to know how that eternal regress is avoided.
  • A promise is the near-opposite of a verification. Do you understand the way scientists verify their hypothesis?

Once again, this is not some game we are playing. Is it the Holy Spirit, Satan or imagination behind the millions of actions Christians take every day?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“We all know anyone can defer to an ecclesiastical “authority” who themselves may be deceived by Satan or their imagination. There is an intrinsic eternal regress in this. I want to know how that eternal regress is avoided.”

The two steps in showing some ecclesial authority probably is not so deceived are:

  • his being a Catholic authority, not a fraud like Frankenpope;
  • verification of Catholic Church having this promise - and it is a historical one, not one depending on the examiners submission to Catholic authority.

“A promise is the near-opposite of a verification. Do you understand the way scientists verify their hypothesis?”

This promise is sth which has been verified over and over again, if you bother to take a real look at Catholic Church history.

Europe was wildly howling in superstitions shouting “Africa” to many colonial or postcolonial minds, and sacrificing men to its false gods, North of the limes.

Even Rome was cynic and corrupt.

Catholicism changed that. This is too powerful to be the result of just human imagination, and the wrong direction for it being the Devil. If you contest that, you have a problem with axiology.

Phil Stilwell
All you have is a looping circle of alleged authorities you cannot legitimately escape.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Describe the so called “circle”.

Phil Stilwell
Every step in your verification relies on subjectivity.

Or perhaps you can give an example of a time where you were led by the Holy Spirit to a decision, and explain how you verified it was the Holy Spirit.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
For one thing, no, it depends on history and sound morals - including common ground between Catholics and atheists.

Prussians and Vikings and Celts ceasing human sacrifice must be considered a good thing, even on your view.

For another, that is not the same charge as the “circulus in probando” charge which you have not proven or the “circulus in definiendo” charge which also you have not proven.

Phil Stilwell
Provide a personal example in which the Holy Spirit lead you to a decision, and explain how you verified it was the Holy Spirit.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I won’t.

This is a discussion.

Phil Stilwell
No, this is where you post an answer to the question. Hitherto, you haven’t. Anybody qualified to answer this question has had actual examples of the Holy Spirit working in their life that they have legitimately verified.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
22h ago
My point is, this is a discussion, not personal witness.

I prefer by a wide margin taking examples from known saints of whom it is reasonably sure they were having the Holy Spirit work in their lives.

St Francis saw a vision of the crucifix in San Damiano speak to him “restore my church”. The point for this vision being from God is, St Francis actually did that.

St Ignatius of Loyola on at least two occasions left the decision to “chance” - or to acts of God’s Providence. About NOT going after the Moor and kill him unless he recanted the blasphemy, and about giving his order into the hands of the Pope in case there was nothing to do in the way of mission service in Holy Land. Jesuits have been a great asset to the Church up to the dissolution.

I can’t say Jesuits like “Pope Francis” or Teilhard de Chardin personify this, but then, if they are not Catholics, they are not real Jesuits either.

Sts Cosmas and Damian whom we celebrated yesterday decided to be physicians for the poor without charging money. Not only did they set an excellent example for social medicine (Constantine opened a hospital in Constantinople a few year or decades after they were martyred), but God allowed them to make miraculous cures as well.

That is at least three decisions by at least four people where history has verified they did the right thing to actually obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

In other words, bringing in my personal witness is superfluous.

Phil Stilwell
22h ago
But you don’t have a way to verify it is not your imagination. Do you?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
20h ago
Yes, since I am speaking of other people.

Btw its “not being my imagination” is wrong criterium. The right criterium is its being from God.

I can go with things like “is it in accordance with ten commandments” or “is it in accordance with charity”.

As said earlier : imagination is a kind of “sense organ”, which, while able to go on its own, is also a recipient for influences from God and from the Devil.

So, its “not being my imagination” as its not being involved is not sth I even need bother about verifying.

Phil Stilwell
19h ago
What is the method you use to determine what you suspect is the Holy Spirit is indeed the Holy Spirit? And how do you assess the success of that method?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
19h ago
The method anyone should use is prayer and using the kind of criteria named.

The success in one’s own life should not be evaluated by oneself, but by others.

Among Pentecostals you get exemplary persons thought so by others during their life giving witness (even if their exemplarity is only about a recent conversion).

Among Watchtower Sect, people thought exemplary are writing (on being asked to) short autobiographies to The Watchtower.

Among Catholics and Orthodox, we leave the judgement to God, which He can make accessible to others by working miracles, like when St Francis healed a leper or a lame man in Narni or when St Francis Xaver spoke fluently when preaching to Chinamen and Japanese languages some of which he had not been taught. Or when St Martin’s relics (dead body) woke up bodies of people buried next to him (three at least). Or when St Paul had people touch his clothes with their handkerchiefs and heal sick with them - behind St Paul’s back.

For ourselves, we need only reasonable assurance.

Phil Stilwell
19h ago
Why keep the assessment subjective when science has advanced knowledge fastest when assessments are objective? It is almost as if you are encouraging self-delusion.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
18h ago
Precisely the reason why assessment of OWN state is less important and the Church’s assessment of someone ELSE’s state of sanctity, as evidenced objectively by miracles is more important.

You keep assessing my criteria as subjective while I am all the time showing the subjective criteria you ask about in the first place are not the most important ones.

St Francis and St Martin working miracles is not subjective criteria, it is objective history.

As to the area where I really am subjective, perhaps it is one in which objectivity is not attainable - and that is why one is not encouraged to seek it out on one’s own.

Since at present I have no father confessor, I am handicapped in that area.

And this means, even in the subjective area, we Catholics try to go for objectivity. To DIS-courage self-delusion. Reply

Phil Stilwell
18h ago
No, Catholics never honestly entertain the possibility that the Holy Spirit may be fictional.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
18h ago
Because we have objective criteria in the outside world, like the miracle of Pentecost or hosts of miracles after it to our times.

Phil Stilwell
18h ago
No, you do not have access to any validation of the alleged miracles of Pentecost. You have stories written that cannot be confirmed. Don’t pretend this is any more credible than Muhammad splitting the moon.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
3h ago
Yes, I do pretend it is more credible.

Pentecost is conformed by the fact of an afflux of new disciples, inexplainable in terms of purely natural causes so short time after Crucifixion (it was not a rally cry for revenge, like Mark Antony makes in Shakespear’s Julius Caesar, sth which has a natural capacity to rally adherents to a cause : it was a claim outrageous on any pretence other than it being true).

Pentecost is confirmed by St Luke writing down accounts given by people who had been there, which is confirmed by the Catholic Church keeping Acts as a sacred memory and ascribing it to St Luke.

As to splitting the moon, why did most of the world not see it (moon being visible from more than one place!) and the one outside immediate Ummah who did was a Hindoo king, whose heir, saying this, was at the time converting to Islam under duress.

Phil Stilwell
3h ago
Luke which is another writer and an age when writers embellished narrative with magic and miracles. Nothing credible.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
2h ago
Luke is a writer taken from the first as a historiographer. Unlike Tolkien who is taken from the first as a novelist.

You have no argument beyond your atheistic prejudice to suppose “magic and miracles” as found in writings from the age are “embellishments”.

You are also hereby challenged to elaborate how a non-miraculous event could have been “embellished” to the Pentecost account. Step by step, from the real event to the account in Luke. Note, “could have”, precisely as the challenge with “evolution of the eye”. My contention is not “you don’t know how and therefore not that it did so”, my contention is “you can’t explain this supposed natural change with even one plausible scenario”. So, use reconstruction, if you like. BUT do not use generalities like “there was a real event, it became embellished with magic”. Describe what you think COULD HAVE been the real event and describe at what points embellishements COULD HAVE been inserted - and if so, for what reason.

If you want a similar challenge about splitting of moon, easy :

  • Ummah did not take history seriously, like Jews and therefore early Christians do;
  • they were challenged by both Christians and Jews on the fact of Mohammed never making a miracle, unlike Jesus, unlike Moses and the Prophets;
  • they described - as far as I know - the miracle in a place they took less seriously than the Quran (I suppose);
  • they occasionally imposed belief on this point of people who before “converting” as opposed to being decapitated, before risking this, had made the miracles challenge (one also imposed on Luther and Calvin, them taking the copout “age of miracles is past” instead, which is one of the roots of atheism);
  • they imposed on one Hindoo king “converting” to give “independent evidence”.

Mostly, they don’t care one way or the other.

Sorry, I have a better one:

Verses 54:1-2 of the Quran reads: [omitting Arabic version]

The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder. But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say, "This is (but) transient magic.

It was - transient magic. Mohammed had been given the power to make things appear that are not.

Source : Splitting of the moon
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Above was answered
in A and B

Phil Stilwell
1h ago
This will help highlight the inconsistent ways Christians deal with probabilities.
— C — (on ignored probabilities)

Hans-Georg Lundahl
18m ago
The hypothetic scenario is no parallel, since it involves two separate letters rather than one continuous account, and a discovery in his papers rather than sth published close to events.

Phil Stilwell
13m ago
You missed the point completely. The point is you dismiss ancient accounts as soon as they become fantastical on everything except your ideology. Just be consistent.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
10m ago
“ you dismiss ancient accounts as soon as they become fantastical on everything except your ideology.”

Do I?

“Just be consistent.”

Am I not?


Phil Stilwell
59m ago
And this deals specifically with the resurrection.

#49 – Can the alleged resurrection of Jesus be considered the most likely explanation of the evidence?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
19m ago
"The entire story was made up by the Gospel writers to map to Old Testament prophecies."

Deals with Gospel writers as authors with no social context. Weems and Tolkien had very diverse social context as writing about George Washington and Bilbo Baggins. The one social context is among Americans all knowing that George Washington existed and treating Parson Weems as a biographer of a real person. The other social context is among fantasy fans all knowing Tolkien invented stories for fun, and scrapped some versions, and implied materials originally unrelated to each other.

The alternative explanation is being very vague about the social context of Gospel writers. Their first readers were not 21st C Christians ready to believe a thing because it is found in that book. Their readers were 1st C Christians who would have had some reasonable previous evidence about Jesus existing or resurrecting, before hearing details in the Gospels.

You simply cannot fabricate 20 centuries of habit from nowhere. You consider "a writer made a claim", but you don't consider what kind of writer to what kind of readers and listeners at recitals.

"Jesus was not actually dead before being placed in the tomb."

Details? After crucifixion, and being beaten bloody hours before it, and carrying the patibulum and getting not even equivalent of a cup of coffee as energy drink (Jesus spit out the wine with gall, equivalent of a cup of coffee with added emetic not drunk), if you are buried in swathes of linen inside a tomb closed by a stone door, chances are you don't get out alive.

"The body of Jesus was simply placed in the wrong tomb."

And no one pointed it out? And resurrection story rose around that?

"The disciples stole the body to allow for the resurrection claim."

According to the witness of sleeping guards - they would have been sleeping very heavily, if not waking up and resisting.

IF they had woken up, the stealing could have been averted and one of the culprits identified. And killed for it.

We don't have any such account, and if something like that had happened, the Romans could have pointed it out. Or temple guards. We don't even find the accusation repeated in Toledot Yeshu.

[As far as I know, I have not read it.]

The words in the Gospel must have been written within a fairly short time after, since Cohanim and Pharisees would soon see how inane this is as an explanation.

"The Romans took the body away to avoid making the gravesite a venerable memorial"

And forgot to mention it when the empty tomb became a sign of the resurrection ... right ...?

"Sometime Christian leaders suggest we must know and argue for one particular of these candidate explanations, or we must default to the miraculous explanation. Is this true? Do we need to believe our neighbor’s dog resurrected until we are able to provide evidence for a particular one the many more probable alternative explanations?"

It is more like if the neighbour can show faults with all candidate explanation, you should show at least one of them moderately plausible.

"It is often informative to simply ask Christian leaders what probability they assign to the resurrection within 10 or so percentage points. Then ask them to walk you through the evidence and arguments that have led them to that degree of probability. Pay attention to the rigor or lack of rigor in their reasoning. Is their reasoning in line with rigorous standards of evidence?"

Rigorous standards of evidence are not about what mathematical betting probability an outcome in the future has projected backwards on a given alleged fact (traditional story or proposed alternative reconstruction) in the past.

In rigorous standards of evidence, the probability of resurrections happening previous to one happening are assessed as "not a mathematical question, but depends on your general world view".

A story of Gladstone seeing Parnell's ghost is far more probable than a story of Gladstone slapping Queen Victoria on the back.

We do know prime ministers in constitutional monarchies trying to keep theatrical shows of what monarchic actual power had been do not behave like that. We do not know (in advance of examining evidence for ghost stories) that ghosts don't appear.

The argument is a bit like someone saying "hey, you said you couldn't believe Gladstone slapping Queen Victoria on the back, but what about your own claim he saw Parnell's ghost? Isn't that even more improbable?"

And the answer must be a very long nooooooo. With an added "at least not unless you start out believing ghosts never appear".

You forgot one of the alternative explanations:

"The resurrected Jesus was a hallucination"

Now, this is not strictly on empty tomb issue, but hallucinations are not collectively shared usually.

Now, I was challenging you on another event, 50 days later. Pentecost.

Back to social position of writers, again. You haven't ever been around Peter converting 5000 people in one day. I haven't been around him either. We both start out with some much bleaker memory of a crucifixion, a bare survival, an attempt to focus on "spiritual resurrection" despite all the look of it.

Along comes Luke. He basically claims we were seeing Pentecost. We both were in Jerusalem the Jewish festivals of Pesach and Jewish Pentecost in that year and saw NOTHING of the things Luke writes. Our Hebrew is not good and we heard no Greek. 50 people were converted, but its the kind of people who would - including us back then, how innocent we were.

How do we react? "Hey, it says we were five thousand, that is not what I recall, there must be sth wrong with my memory?" - "Mine too, it says we heard it in Greek, and my poor memory keeps saying sth about not understanding the Hebrew very well"

Or more like "Hey, it says we were five thousand, but we were fifty; what a liar!" - "He could have got sth wrong, let's check first!"

And on seeing he means to keep it up, we skip away. Someone else who doesn’t in time gets eliminated, sects tending to work that way if based in deceit, but we are lucky and skip away in time. Whatever the decade, Christians had plenty of enemies very willing to give us a platform if we could give the Christians a bad look. For some reason, we didn't make it to history at all.

And before you say Christians expurgated Roman media, recall Jews and Parthians had media not controlled by either Romans or Christians.

Phil Stilwell
10m ago
There were decades over which an actual life of an actual Jesus could have been mythicised by a community that knew the Old Testament prophecies well. Let’s not be silly.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
3m ago
OK, decades of intervention …

  • there are some decades of intervention before us after Ronald Reagan went out of office, do we see his presidency being targetted by myths, even among die-hard Republicans?
  • I was specifically asking about Pentecost, the public event. An event in which thousands of Jews would either have been involved or not seen anything at all. Btw, the Jews eventually rejecting Jesus did not make claims like “yeah, Woodstock, Our Lady’s Assumption in 1969, went there and it was empty”.

Your basic claim is a bit as if you could argue for denying historicity of Woodstock.

I am lucky here that Woodstock was 15–18th of August, since that is a date a Catholic would KNOW the festival of, so any Catholic who went there on 15th of August could not have forgotten the date.

Similarily, Pentecost Sunday happened during the OT festival, the Mosaic festival of Pentecost. An observant Jew who was in Jerusalem that year could not have missed it.

If someone is being silly, it is you.


Hans-Georg Lundahl
After reading your link:

“How can the human mind verify with absolute certainty that what they perceive to be the promised divine spirit is actually a divine spirit rather than an lying spirit or their own imagination?”

First, God’s existence is proven both philosophically and by histrical miracles well beyond this dispute.

Then, God will know what the specific problems are for this or that persons absolute certainty (supposing that person needs it, like he’s a Bible book author - a situation which has ceased to exist after last Apostle left earthly existence, or a prophet delivering a warning) and know how to give the person a verification.

Note, for most practical purposes, like leading a Christian life or doing this rather than that in a Christian life, absolute certainty is NOT needed.

Asking for such a thing is a bit like when certain kinds of Protestants ask Catholics if they are 100 % sure of going to Heaven. Yes, we are collectively. No, we are usually not, individually. A reasonable assurance of not being on the way to Hell is enough not to be needing drastic changes.

Phil Stilwell
I’m going to guess you have no actual degree in philosophy since you claim that the existence of God has been demonstrated philosophically beyond despite. I’m willing to have a dialogue, but brash lies of this nature are not a good start. Do you want to retract this?

(I do have a degree in philosophy.)

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“I’m going to guess you have no actual degree in philosophy since you claim that the existence of God has been demonstrated philosophically beyond despite.”

I said “well beyond this dispute”.

I could of course add “well beyond reasonable dispute”, since I consider neither Russell nor Kant as reasonable in denying the undisputable demonstration.

No, I have no degree in Philosophy, except as a school subject at high school, I don’t choose to study under Kant or Russell, I am a Thomist.

You mentioned no degree in history, and this means we are on admittedly even ground when it comes to historic miracles.

I have not lied, and I have no reason to retract what I said.

Phil Stilwell
Those who have even a cursory understanding of philosophy and the history of philosophy know better than to make such an absurd claim.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Those who have even a cursory understanding of rhetoric know that a sentence beginning with “those who have even a cursory understanding of” is rhetoric, not per se as yet argument.

Phil Stilwell
All the statistics on philosophers who think the philosophical arguments for God are persuasive are out there. If you continue to suggest there is even close to a majority of philosophers who find them compelling, you are dishonest.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
A majority of philosophers is not the issue.

Also, the majority of philosophers and common people taken together (an argument palatable to Aristotle, I agree for normal occasions) if you go through history and geography, you will find the majority for some reason believed in God.

Phil Stilwell
You actually tred to answer the question by appealing to philosophical positions the majority of philosophers don’t hold. Don’t do that.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I don’t need YOU telling me what to do.

I am not a Jap calling you sensei.

As to “the majority of philsophers”, I suppose you are considering those at present.

And these are NOT a rule.

Majority of wise only or of common people only is clearly weaker than majority or totality of both taken together.

AND each of these is lots weaker if you consider the cases of today’s Western World only.

Also, you have as yet not made a single effort of actual argumentation on the issue, only appeals to AUTHORITY and that to a human one lacking the divine promises of the Church.

Phil Stilwell
//I am not a Jap calling you sensei.//

I’ll accept your evasion and the statement above as a reflection of who you and your indwelling Holy Spirit are.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
23h ago
Look, I was not even claiming positively the Holy Spirit was at the moment indwelling in me.

The point is, you are evading, if you read all of my comment I was not. I was adressing your point fairly and squarely.

You may be able to do stats for all the philosophers in your text book, but that does not cover all individual philosophers over the ages or even now, and no philosopher I know ever recommended using the majority of the philosophers right now and here as the criterium for truth. Not even Plato, since he was aware societies are different and some have very low levels in philosophy and even in philosophers.

Phil Stilwell seems to have made it impossible for me to comment under his answers - without actually blocking me, since he is still answering in the comboxes after this.

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