Archive for July, 2006

 

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A new blog is brought screaming and clicking into cyberspace every second, why is this so popular, are we all voyeurs or hopeless narcissists?

Do bloggers create a community or are they the nitrous oxide of 21st century?

Neil postman wrote about the effect of television on culture in his excellent book ‘Amusing ourselves to death’; here is part of the foreword:

‘We were keeping our eye on 1984…. we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another – slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling vision: Audous Huxley’s Brave New World …Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us too much information…That we would be reduced to passivity and egotism..feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance’.

It seems that Huxley’s fears are not groundless, when we watch the news on TV we are given news item after news item with no relevance between the items, a few minutes are devoted to each item, there is a rhythm and speed to the news –this leaves us as impotent bystanders, desensitised and unaffected.

Are bloggers adding to the information overload, or is there another motive and outcome?

Why Blog; is it primarily for you or me? Is it a diversion from thinking or an aid to it?

An unthinking unquestioning headlong dive into the current technological developments leaves us like a child with our arms out stretched ready to receive an unknown present, we say yes to everything. What are we not doing what are we saying no to in order that we embrace the Internet and new technology like we are?

Neil postman says: ‘…anyone who has studied the history of technology knows that technological change is always a Faustian bargain: Technology giveth and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure. A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.’

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For those with a keen eye, there’s an undercurrent seeping through my post’s-that of a Christian worldview. Like any blog (and arguably one of the attractions of blogging for many) there is selectivity on what is and isn’t said in a post, anonymous and opinionated!

Of course Words have a limited power, they are limited in that they can be used to both deceive and hide the truth,as well as enlighten and bring understanding. If we exclusively depend on them too much; we fool ourselves and become impotent.

Does that mean words cannot be used to dispense truth,to know what is real ?On there own they can go only so far.In terms of Science we look for a evidence to infere. In Christianity, what made me more open minded was a combination of ideas and looking at the life styles of Christians plus Gods gentle leading.

The Bible records Jesus as saying: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”Schaeffer in his book ‘The church at the end of the 20th Century’ comments on this passage that Jesus gives the on looking non-Christian world the right to judge Christianity based on the love that is witnessed between Christians.Words are not enough.

In John 17:21 …that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me’.It’s as if Jesus looks at the non Christian world and gives them the right to specifically judge if Jesus was sent from God, based on the love that is observable between Christians.

What do people want from Church? What is its biggest selling point? It can’t be its size, some small churches are the longest living –they demonstrate a sense of community and love that goes beyond age and gender and race. This is why I find youth orientated churches or churches based on colour or race missing the point .Jesus expects us to love beyond the boundaries of our peers.Of course no ones perfect and God does not expect us to be anything but real, he does expect us to look to him minute by minute for help in loving each other.Real church is costly !

 

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Human beings never fail to be impressed by intelligent use of Imagination. From story tellers to battle commanders to inventors, philosophers and scientists, the list goes on and on. We have an imaginative impulse that has driven history.

One of my favorite expressions of imagination is Science fiction as opposed to science fantasy, I like a dose of reality mixed in with the narrative.

My number one spot for a Science fiction story is occupied by Arthur C.Clarkes 2001 Space odyssey & 2010: The Year We Make Contact. I particularly like 2010 as for me it explains 2001.

The sign of a great story is how it refuses to let go of your imagination long after you have put the book down or switched the DVD player off, 2001 & 2010 is like that for me.

The monolith popping up through history seemingly to impart some boost in development both biologically and technologically, cut to the famous shot from the film 2001, of the tool use of a bone flying skyward only to be replaced in an instant with a docking space ship.

The enigmatic monolith found under ground on the moon a perfect shape -the lack of detail and the blandness of the monolith, it returns a flat-line data stream from probes and acts as a question mark, that continues to inspire (see here).

My interest in intelligent design movement adds a spin to the monolith -how Dr Floyd and co inferred design from a simple object, yet we cannot be permitted by the Scientific elite to infer design on objects of staggering complexity and functionality, is it the ubiquitous nature of say, the DNA molecule that returns a verdict of accident or necessity rather than design?

DNA has the highest information density known, the molecule is 2 nm (nanometers-A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter) in diameter, each spiral holds 10 nucleotide bases (the information holding section of the molecule). The information density of the molecule per cm is188000000000000000000000 bits/cm. This information can be read in more than one direction.

I’ve no idea what the information density is for a hard drive is?

Dr William Dembski published his idea of complex specified information in his infamous book ‘No Free Lunch’, in it he outlines a simple filter used to detect design.

It’s a given that no one has exhaustive knowledge of every phenomena, with that in mind Dembski divides up every occurrence into either Chance, Necessity or design.

He introduces the concept of Complex Specified Information (CSI).

He says ‘When intelligent agents act, they leave behind a characteristic trademark or signature-what I define as specified complexity.’

So information has two characteristics complexity (which is inversely proportional to probability) and specification.

Dembski explains specification ‘Suppose an archer stands 50 meters from a large blank wall with bow and arrow in hand. The wall, let us say, is sufficiently large that the archer cannot help but hit it. Consider now two alternative scenarios. In the first scenario the archer simply shoots at the wall. In the second scenario the archer first paints a target on the wall, and then shoots at the wall, squarely hitting the target’s bull’s-eye. Let us suppose that in both scenarios where the arrow lands is identical. In both scenarios the arrow might have landed anywhere on the wall. What’s more, any place where it might land is highly improbable. It follows that in both scenarios highly complex information is actualised. Yet the conclusions we draw from these scenarios are very different. In the first scenario we can conclude absolutely nothing about the archer’s ability as an archer, whereas in the second scenario we have evidence of the archer’s skill.

The obvious difference between the two scenarios is of course that in the first the information follows no pattern whereas in the second it does.’

So there we are standing on the moon camera in hand photographing this monolith shape that was dug up, why has it generated so much interest?

 

We know that the probability of an event is more likely, the less complex that event is. Dembski says ‘A probability is never small in isolation but only in relation to a set of probabilistic resources that describe the number of relevant ways an event might occur.’

The monolith shows a pattern; its straight lines and smooth surface plus its impenetrable nature all are highly improbable and leave a counterflow signature.

Del Ratzsch describes the term counterflow to describe something like the monolith, it runs counter to what is seen when natural causes are uninterrupted. The ISCID refers to counterflow as ‘When agents redirect, restrain or constrain nature, they leave counterflow marks.’

Of course the monolith could have just happened by chance couldn’t it?

There is a constraint on how much probability can be invoked for a given event –this is known as the probability bound.

Defined by the ISCID as “A degree of improbability below which a specified event of that probability cannot reasonably be attributed to chance regardless of whatever probabilitistic resources from the known universe are factored in.”

Dembski conservatively calculates this in his book the design inference as:’ Specifically, within the known physical universe there are estimated to be no more than 10^80 elementary particles. Moreover, the properties of matter are such that transitions from one state to another cannot occur at a rate faster that 10^45 times per second. Finally, the universe itself is about a billion times younger than 10^25 seconds (assuming the universe is around 10 to 20 billion years old). …. these cosmological constraints imply that the total number of specified events throughout cosmic history cannot exceed 10^80 x 10^45 x 10^25 = 10^150.’

We are unable to say how the monolith came to exist in the state it is in, we have no Causal specificity (we don’t know how it got to be as it is) for its existence, this means we have less confidence in attributing the monolith to natural causes. Our experience of natural structures has no precedence for the monolith.

The information density of the monolith is low compared to the information provided by DNA; the structural complexity of the monolith is low compared to the structural complexity of the DNA molecule.

The functionality of the DNA molecule is known yet design is not inferred; the function of monolith is unknown yet at the outset of the monoliths discovery design was inferred. Fearing social unrest and cultural shock at the news of the unearthing of the monolith a cover story of a viral outbreak was used to explain why the base on the moon was not contactable.

Why is design inference dismissed so easily? Is it because of metaphysical implications? If so ,how can Science continue to be seen as neutral and aphilosophical ,hasn’t it betrayed its roots of metaphysical naturalism which is not a science but a belief.

“Finally, in this brief summary of the reasons for my growing doubts

that life on earth could have begun spontaneously by purely chemical

and physical means, there is the problem of the origin of genetic,

i.e., biologically relevant, information in biopolymers. No

experimental system yet devised has provided the slightest clue as to

how biologically meaningful sequences of subunits might have

originated in prebiotic polynucleotides or polypeptides. Evidence

for some degree of spontaneous sequence ordering has been published,

but there is no indication whatsoever that the non-randomness is

Biologically significant. Until such evidence is forthcoming one

Certainly cannot claim that the possibility of a naturalistic origin

of life has been demonstrated.” (Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen

R.L., “The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories,

Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, p.vii)

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For the previous post in this series please go here.

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

1.A personal infinite God

2.Personal unity and diversity in God

1.God needs to be both Personal and infinite, without these qualities, there is no base from which Man can operate with logical and individual consistency. If God is not personal then there is no answer to our experience of personality, there is also the problem of the origin of personality since we are not causa Sui.

Is personality an emergent quality of an underlying neurological process, or is this a convenient ‘Black Box’ for metaphysical naturalists to use so as to avoid explaining why we have personality, in the process they explain away any sense of being unique or basis for individual significance.

God is infinite because he is not limited like we are limited. Also he is infinite in regard to time –he has no beginning he is the unmoved mover. God views time much like we would look at a picture in an art gallery –he see it all at once as Psalm 90:4 states:’ For a thousand years in your sight are but yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night’. Apart from Biblical teaching no system has God being both Infinite and personal.

2.God provides a basis for unity and diversity as found in the relationship of the trinity.

Matt 28:19 says: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,..’

For more about point 2 go to this previous post.

Only God is independent-there is a chasm between God and created finite things such as man, animals, flowers and the machine. Regarding infinity man is as separated from God as is the atom, the animal or any other part of creation.

In regard to personality, the gap is between man and the animals, the planet and the machine, as Man is made in the image of God, the originator of personality.

The Nicene creed was produced by the council of Nicea in 325AD its format underlines the idea of three persons in loving communication before all else including space/time existed. Creed did not produce the doctrine of the trinity but reflected the doctrine that was laid out in the Bible.

Here is the creed:

“We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.”

If this loving communication did not exist before the beginning of time then we would have had a God who needed to create in order to love and communicate. God would have needed the universe as much as the universe needed God. He would not of been perfect as he would of needed to add to himself.

This communication between the three persons of the trinity, is the model for family, the model for marriage, the model for mans need to be part of a community, the model for communication –as Schaeffer say ‘The reason we know anything is that he is not silent’.

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1773 saw Pierre-Simon Laplace produce what is known imaginatively asLaplace’s thought experiment (LTE):‘An intellect which at any given moment knew all the forces that animate nature and the mutual positions of the beings that comprise it, if this intellect were vast enough to submit its data to analysis, could condense into a single formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and that of the lightest atom: for such an intellect nothing could be uncertain; and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.’

Laplace’s motivation is shown in a conversation he had with Napoleon regarding a publication:

Napoleon: M. Laplace, they tell me you have written this large book on the system of the universe, and have never even mentioned its Creator.
Laplace: Your Highness, I have no need of that hypothesis.

LTE is based on 3 core assumptions:

1. Direction -A process can not go in 2 different directions at the same time.

2. Process –A system can have all its properties deduced at any and all points in time.

3. Locality-The whole systems behaviour is entirely due to interaction of its parts i.e. atom to atom locally.

These 3 core assumptions are only valid if there is an underlying fourth assumption, that the universe is metaphysically closed, that is, only what is measurable has existence. This final assumption cannot be proved; it remains an article of faith.Why should I care about LTE you may cry?
Laplace’s thought experiment represents determinism, that ancient of ideas, which describes free will (agency) as an illusion. Typically if we think of determinism at all, we think of it in terms of Pavlov’s dribbling dog with a ringing in his ears, or B.F.Skinner’s soulless behaviour modification.

LTE implies total determination from the singularity of the big bang at time=0 onwards. That means we can dispense with God as Napoleon was informed, we are here, not because of chance or design but because the physics calls for it.LTE infers determinism from the bottom up which means the smallest particles and there interactions, for that we need to enter the quantum world.Quantum mechanics replaces determinism with probability.

Looking at assumption 1 Direction:The double slit experiment demonstrates that some things can be in more than one place at a time, which means we cannot determine an outcome. We have a plate with two vertical slits a photon is fired at the slits and a detector is placed behind the plate in the path of the oncoming photon. The detector shows a classic interference pattern. As Feynman said, ‘each photon not only goes through both slits, but simultaneously takes every possible trajectory en route to the target, not just in theory, but in fact.‘

Regarding Assumption 2 –a process that can be known; there are epistemological limits on knowledge at a quantum level, when there are observers particles/waves behave differently to when not being observed. Schrödinger’s famed Feline demonstrates this.

Looking at assumption 3 -Locality we have theorem of Mr John Stewart Bell here– it shows that at a quantum level two events though separate and unconnected can affect each other therefore there is a loss of locality.Finally LTE doesn’t appear to have house room for emergence; Wiki defines that as: For ‘a phenomenon to be termed emergent it should generally be unpredictable from a lower level description. At the very lowest level, the phenomenon usually does not exist at all’ There are examples of emergence everywhere. From Nobel laureate Robert Laughlin’s ‘A different Universe’: ‘Life is especially fun to talk about from a physical perspective because it is the most extreme case of the emergence of law. In fact, the entire idea of emergence was invented by biologists to explain some aspects of living things—the rodlike shapes of some bacteria, for example, or the tendency of bunnies to run away from foxes—are stable and reproducible, while the microscopic laws of chemistry from which they descend are random and probabilistic.’Thanks to Lawrence Gage over at ‘Real Physics’ &
Island.

Its nuffin’ personal

Posted: July 18, 2006 in Theo/Philo

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 Michael Polanyi on the abuse of Science said this:

When any human thought can be discredited by branding it unscientific,inordinate power has passed over to science;hence science itself has become in its turn the greatest source of error

Joels Muddle Earth Man

Posted: July 14, 2006 in Family Stuff

This is number 3 son’s interpretation of a Chris Ridell drawing from the Edge Chronicles-for an 8 year I think its good.

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