Archive for June, 2006

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Over at Telic thoughts they have a post relating to Christianity and Science.I have posted on this before,they quote Ronald Numbers a historian of Science who says:

‘Contrary to common myth, Galileo suffered very little abuse at the hands of the Catholic Church. He was never tortured, he never faced death. In fact, he was never imprisoned. His penalty was house arrest at a pleasant villa on the outskirts of Florence, Italy.

Galileo’s problems with the church stemmed far less from his astronomical and physical views than from his lack of diplomacy, and from his impertinence in trying to instruct the church on how to interpret Scriptures, as some Protestants had attempted to do in the previous century. Furthermore, in writing his controversial book, Galileo had the impertinence to attribute the Pope’s views to a simple-minded character named Simplicius. This Pope [Urban VIII] had once been a patron of Galileo’s and had supported his scientific efforts, so such a lack of diplomacy turned even the Pope against his one-time friend.’

I commented on this on June 3rd re see here. It seems me and Mister Numbers agree,so he must be right! 🙂
Cheers Telic thoughts.

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Enceladus

Posted: June 27, 2006 in Astronomy & Space

Now and then I have episodes of Astronomy, here’s my latest:

Its cold in space, I mean really really cold! Despite the temperature, gravity has a knack of twisting things back and forth causing friction, heat and action.

Enceladus a small shiny icy moon of Saturn, about the size of Arizona or jolly old blighty, has been under the spotlight recently. Professors Nimmo and Pappalardo have this month published a paper in Nature, nailing their theory to the church door.

Why would a 504km in diameter ice ball 1.3 billion Km from Earth (in old money that’s 744 million miles) induce a flurry of thoughts, words, phone calls, emails and calculations in Messer Nimmo and Pappalardo?

Enceladus has a hot spot on its southern polar region. We all know that hot spots are not usually associated with Polar Regions; think Antarctica, think polar ice on Mars.

The professors think Enceladus, which has an errant Hot spot where no hot spot has any business being. There theory is that Enceladus must have changed its rotational axis.

A stable rotational globe has general characteristics such as:

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This proposed change in rotational axis was due to a decrease in the density of the equatorial region of Enceladus.

Why would such a change be a reasonable proposition? I hear you cry?

Enceladus orbits Saturn within the ring system and is in a 2:1 orbital resonance with another moon Dione, this constant change in gravitational forces acts to heat the interior of Enceladus up, much like Uri Gellers spoons.

This has caused a diapir (I spelled it right-see here) this is Wikis definition:’ Diapirs commonly intrude vertically upward along fractures or zones of structural weakness through more dense overlying rocks because of density contrast between a less dense, lower rock mass and overlying denser rocks. The density contrast manifests as a force of buoyancy. The process is known as diapirism.’

Here , in this longitudinal section of Enceladus is  what they propose:

 

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The change in axis is in the order of 30 degrees; they propose that this effect of tidal gravitational forces may have effected other moons.The possible subsurface ocean is currently venting water into space making Enceladus the Astrobiologist moon of choice for life Jim but not as we know it.

 

 

Me & Dad

Posted: June 26, 2006 in Family Stuff

I love this picture,im posting it just because… I can.

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Dr[1]. Francis Schaeffer.jpg

 

Regarding Existence:

There are three fundamental options regarding Existence, they are:

1. Everything that exists came out of nothing-the starting point for all that is, is nothing.

This position is difficult to sustain.

Schaeffer gives this definition to nothing similar to (Thomas Baldwin’s previously):

Suppose we had a very black blackboard that had never been used. On this blackboard we drew a circle, and inside the circle there was everything that was-and there was nothing within the circle. Then we erase the circle. There is no energy, Man, motion, time or space or any personality.

2. All that now is had an impersonal beginning i.e. energy/mass.

Schaeffer says ‘If you accept an impersonal beginning you are faced with some form of reductionism. Reductionism argues that everything there is now from the stars to man himself, is finally to be understood by reducing it to the original impersonal factors or factor’

Victor Frankl, in an essay on “Reductionism and Nihilism,” wrote: Reductionism is more than just saying time and again that something is nothing but something else. It is an approach and procedure that deprives the human phenomena of their very humanness by reducing a human phenomenon in dynamic terms to some sub-human phenomenon, or deducing human phenomena, in genetic terms, from sub-human phenomena.

Reductionism maintains an attitude ranging from indifference to hostility towards the object studied. All that is of value in studying this object is to be found only in its parts and the relationship between those parts as opposed to the object’s inherent qualities.

The problem with reductionism (beginning with the impersonal) is to find any meaning for the particulars.(A particular is any individual factor, or any individual thing).Modern Science uses reductionism to great effect but since Man has become part of the machine reductionism views personality as only the impersonal plus complexity.
The impersonal beginning is equivalent to the Pantheism.

The Stanford encyclopaedia of Philosophy defines pantheism as: ‘…. a metaphysical and religious position. Broadly defined it is the view that “God is everything and everything is God … the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature” (Owen 1971). Similarly, it is the view that everything that exists constitutes a “unity” and this all-inclusive unity is in some sense divine (MacIntyre 1967:).

Schaeffer saw 2 problems with pantheism:

1.The need for unity

2.The need for diversity

Pantheism gives an answer to the problem of unity, as the quote by Owen indicates, but has no answer to the problem of diversity. With Pantheism there is no basis or reason for significance in variance. This means if everything is equal then there is no basis for morality what is deemed good is equal to that which is considered evil.

3.Begin with a personal beginning.

A personal beginning gives meaning to personality –man and his aspirations are not meaningless. Personality has meaning because it is not alienated from what has always been, and is and what will always be.

A personal beginning distinguishes personality from non-personality.

To have an adequate answer from a personal beginning we need:

1.A personal infinite God

2.Personal unity and diversity in God

More next time regarding a personal beginning

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Richard Dawkins, self appointed high priest of Scientism considered the advent of Darwinian evolutionary theory as the last shovel of earth onto the coffin of religion, ashes to ashes dust to dust in Darwin we trust.

He is well known for his quote: Evolution "made it possible to be an intellectually satisfied atheist,"

In addition to the issue raised here, and Darwin’s own doubts about his theory (here) there are further problems any would be intellectually satisfied Atheist must wrestle with and over come.

The Geneticist J.B.S Haldane said “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

The random jostling caused by Brownian motion through time plus the musical chairs of selection according to Darwin serve to produce complexity on a scale unmatched by mans technological advances.

Out of this randomly generated complexity, so the story goes, emerges rationality. Haldane understood why this could not be possible, No thought’s can have any validity if arriving from a non-rational process.

Problem 1 –rational thought cannot be valid if it is from a non-rational source.

Science harvests data to fuel the epistemological cycle. The majority of conclusions arrive at their destination through riding the rails of inductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning uses the premise of an argument to infer the conclusion.

For instance:

Premise 1: All known mammals are warm blooded

Premise 2: My dog is a mammal

Conclusion: Therefore my dog is warm blooded

From a materialistic point view the problem is in the inference inductive reasoning uses. What physical entity exists behind an inference? Is it a neurological state? If so then how can one piece of physical matter be ABOUT another piece of physical matter? Like acne on a first date, this question needs to be dealt with, if the naturalistic story is to come together.

Problem 2-How can one piece of matter be ABOUT another?

Philosopher Steven Horst states: selection pressures “ could explain the presence of consciousness in us given the assumption that it appeared in our ancestors through random mutation. But if no DNA structure could determine (the capacity for) conscious experience, the selective story never gets off the ground…In short a naturalist evolutionary story about consciousness presupposes a physicalistic story about the emergence of the phenotype somewhere in the history of the species.’

This presupposition remains an article of faith; no gene has been shown to produce the product of consciousness.

Problem 3-There is no physical basis for consciousness.

If Naturalistic evolutionists decide to use the joker’s card of an emergent property to answer for the phenomenon of consciousness, they are still required to explain the physical basis of this property in terms of the choices we make, the beliefs we have.

Dr David Berlinski states in his article ‘The origin of the mind’:

‘At some time in the history of the universe, there were no human minds, and at some time later, there were. Within the blink of a cosmic eye, a universe in which all was chaos and void came to include hunches, beliefs, sentiments, raw sensations, pains, emotions, wishes, ideas, images, inferences, the feel of rubber, Schadenfreude, and the taste of banana ice cream. A sense of surprise is surely in order. How did that get here? Although I may be struck by a thought, or moved by a memory, or distracted by a craving, these familiar descriptions suggest an effect with no obvious physical cause. Thoughts,memories, cravings—they are what? Crossing space and time effortlessly, the human mind deliberates, reckons, assesses, and totes things up; it reacts, registers, reflects, and responds. In some cases, like inattention or carelessness, it invites censure by doing nothing at all or doing something in the wrong way; in other cases, like vision, it acts unhesitatingly and without reflection; and in still other cases, the human mind manages both to slip itself into and stay aloof from the great causal stream that makes the real world boom, so that when it gives the go-ahead, what I do is, as Thomas Aquinas observed, “inclined but not compelled.” These are not properties commonly found in the physical world. They are, in fact, not found at all.’

Problem 4-What is the physical basis for choice rather than compulsion?

Never mind these problems, dissatisfied atheists can throw a few more Christians on the Barbie, and purge that religious virus .

 

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The comment and analysis section of the ‘New Scientist’ this week has Richard Koch and Chris Smith looking at why science is under attack.They rightly uncover what Os Guinness back in the ‘80’s characterised as ‘operation gravedigger’ .In his excellent book’ The Gravedigger File’ he described Operation gravedigger, based on the idea that Science could only of been born out of a Christian worldview, Science then lead to the downfall of Christianity (mainly in the west) ,it became its own gravedigger.

From the conclusions Koch and Smith come too, their use of the word Science should be replaced with that of Scientism.Scientism is an unfounded belief in a closed universe; it is the assumption that Science alone can deliver the truth about the world, that metaphysics is irrelevant; this view is empirically naive. Scientism’s imperial credentials are founded upon nothing more than wish fulfilment and a desire to remove God from the story.Richard Lewontin provides a nice example of Scientism (science stretching beyond its mandate) with his prior commitments; he states his belief in Scientism “We take the side of science… because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Koch and Smith conclude there article with : ‘what we may call the ‘lonely hypothesis’-that there is no rational and good God, and probably no God at all, that humankind is a speck of insignificance on the edge of a vast, pointless universe-has its own splendor ,inspiration and self justification. If nothing else will supply meaning in the universe, the existence and achievements’ of human intellect, creativity and love are quite enough.’

Imagine you live in a universe where there is no final eternal meaning except the meaning you happen to choose on any given day,where there is no ultimate value in anything you do or say, where history is a series of accidents and has no direction,where there are no legacies. Where People have no intrinsic significant value, whose final fate is eternal molecular disassociation in an ever expanding, ever darkening cold universe. This is the story Koch and Smith seem to think inspires, providing a source of splendor. Yeah… Right!

Koch and Smith say Love and creativity is enough, but who is there to define what love is? As Sartre has said ‘No finite point has any meaning UNLESS it has an infinite reference point’. Why is creativity enough, what in the end will it amount to? In a closed universe, Human aspirations, creativity and altruism mean nothing more and nothing less than human cruelty and destructiveness. Who is to say that one act is better or kinder than another?The reason Society is dissatisfied with the narrative Science offers, is that it is the Why questions that matter, Science has no why answers. Humanity is wired for God.

No other God has wounds.

Posted: June 20, 2006 in Theo/Philo

 

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Bob Dylan’s penetrating lyrics function to remove the dust covers of neglect from the human situation.

In the song ‘You gotta serve somebody’ Dylan created a dust cloud in the wake of the expose of our so-called freedom.

Here is a lyrical snippet from ‘you gotta serve somebody’:

You may be a construction worker working on a home,
You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome,
You might own guns and you might even own tanks,
You might be somebody's landlord, you might even own banks

But you're gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You're gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.

(Bob Dylan)

Slavery is not just the preserve of Eastern Europe or Africa but is everyone’s fate. The great risk taker the apostle Paul in his amazing letter to the early church in Rome introduced himself to this church (he had not personally met) as ’Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God…’ (Romans Chapter 1 Verse 1)

Paul describes himself as a slave knowing that the Church in Rome would be as familiar with slaves as we are with today with MacDonald’s or Starbucks.

Paul was different in one important respect to the ubiquitous slaves of Rome, he volunteered for the job.

The steel band around his neck, the mark of a slave, was kept in place by Paul’s wishing it so. His love for God showed itself in service. Far from being the crutch of comfort that those wishing to dismiss Christianity describe it as; Paul experienced shipwreck, incarceration, mob rule, beatings and eventual beheadingHow far removed from the current notion of Love is the idea of service?

As stated, I believe everybody is wired to worship, Bono sings 'lookin’ for to fill that GOD shaped hole'.Blaise Pascal wrote:

’What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.’

In the excellent book, ’No God but God’ Os Guinness wrote ‘In one of their periodic efforts to eradicate religious belief in the Soviet Union, the Communist party sent KGB agents to the nations churches on a Sunday morning. One agent was struck by the deep devotion of an elderly woman who was kissing the feet of a life sized carving of Christ on the cross.

“Babushka (Grandmother),”he said. “Are you also prepared to kiss the feet of the beloved general secretary of our great Communist part?”

“Why of course,” came the immediate reply.” But only if you crucify him first.”

The distinctiveness of Christianity is that no other god has wounds.

Several thousand years before Christ’s execution by crucifixion, Isaiah (a Jewish visionary) explained the reason for those wounds yet to be when he wrote ‘by his wounds we are healed.

The distinctiveness of Christianity is that no other god has wounds.