Archive for the ‘Theo/Philo’ Category

David Berlinsky in his book ‘The Devils Delusion Atheism and its scientific pretensions’ says this regarding belief:

‘In Six impossible things before breakfast, the biologist Lewis Wolpert , who is resolutely prepared to dismiss religious thought as superstition, writes that “scientific beliefs are special , and different from any other kind of thinking,” inasmuch as scientific beliefs “are not programmed into our brains.To say that scientific beliefs are special is to suggest, of course, that only specialists may assess them. To say that religious beliefs are programmed into our brains is to say that like a gag reflex, they cannot be controlled. But if scientific beliefs are not programmed into our brains, why assume that religious beliefs are ? And if they are not, why assume that “scientific beliefs are special”?These questions are rhetorical. No one is disposed to ask them within the scientific community, and the scientific community is not disposed to acknowledge answers to questions it is not disposed to ask.’

Of course the belief that science is unadulterated and unfettered,value free by the brains that seeks to generate knowledge by its method as if this pursuit was purely objective and so distinctive from other ideas is a matter not of…objectivity,empirical evidence, peer review or double blind trials but in fact is an article of faith, and perhaps as such is actually hard wired like a gag reflex ?

Apart from the empirical glut that Wolperts claim suffers from, the just so stories that underpin his epistemology the elitists exclusive claims of scientists -the tyranny of experts and rise of an authoritative elite -I see no problems.



Doug Wilson asks :

‘”How can a chemical reaction be hypocritical? How can the chemical reaction that is man be a hypocrite? Given [the atheist’s] premises, it is like being indignant with a tornado, or vegetable soup, or sand on the beach — but Hitchens does it. They all do it . . . I am happy to make the point again, and it should not distress any of us that I am doing so. An argument is like a tool; you only put it down when the job is done. When atheists stop suspending their moral indignation from their invisible sky hook, then I will no longer amuse myself by pointing out their levitation trick” (God Is, p. 4).’

HT:Doug Wilson

Found an  interesting article by John Dickson called :Historical facts against atheist schoolyard delusions

which comments on Tamas Pataki’s (philosopher and atheists) recent article Ive highlighted a few extracts below by its worth a read here :

Here are a few extracts from John Dickson:

‘Pataki skirts around the issue when he says that the influence of the Judeo-Christian worldview on Western history has been “exaggerated.” This is itself a flimsy assertion, which he hopes readers will believe on account of the fact that, in other respects, he is a thoughtful writer. But I do not see how any serious ancient or medieval historian could accept that.

Western culture has been shaped decisively by its Hebrew and Christian cultural sources, as many specialists qualified to speak on the subject have shown, including Oxford’s Peter Harrison, Princeton’s Peter Brown, Baylor’s Rodney Stark, Macquarie’s Edwin Judge and others.

The Judeo-Christian shape of Western civilization is hardly discussed in the media, let alone given the opportunity to be “exaggerated.” Sadly, such insights are usually left to the cultural historians and political philosophers. One such expert, the atheist Jurgen Habermas of the Goethe University in Frankfurt, famously conceded:

“Christianity has functioned for the normative self-understanding of modernity as more than a mere precursor or a catalyst. Egalitarian universalism, from which sprang the ideas of freedom and social solidarity, of an autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, of the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct heir to the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love … Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”‘

‘This is something of a trend in recent atheist literature. Leaving aside the small, pardonable mistakes of those who haven’t felt it necessary to read any Bible since childhood (Dawkins’s placement of the Magi story in Luke’s Gospel, for instance), harder to overlook are the serious misrepresentations of scholarship found in atheist apologetics.

For example, Michel Onfray, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins all suggest that the very existence of Jesus is still in doubt among the historians. Dawkins cites an authority who has made what he describes as a “serious historical case that Jesus never lived at all,” one “Prof. G.A. Wells of the University of London.” But what Dawkins doesn’t say is that Wells is Professor of German Language and Literature at the University of London.

How would he react if someone made an eccentric biological claim and then cited a language professor as the “serious” authority. In reality, the Jesus-never-lived hypothesis is about as marginal in historical scholarship as young-earth-creationism is in biological science. ‘

‘What we got from the Jews and Christians

This revolution in the path to knowledge was the result of the shattering of the Greek worldview by the Judeo-Christian worldview. And we can date it precisely.

In AD 529 the Christian philosopher John Philoponus published his Refutation of Proclus echoing his Refutation of Aristotle. These were a stunning dismantling of the Greek doctrine of the rational, eternal universe in favour of a philosophical defence of the biblical notion of the universe as a created object with a beginning. And this gave us science as we now think of it.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary states things plainly: Philoponus

“influenced subsequent science to Galileo by replacing many of Aristotle’s theories with an account centred on the Christian idea that the universe had an absolute beginning.”‘

‘The breakthrough was immense. If the world is not an eternal, logical system but a creative work of art, we cannot simply think our way to understanding reality.

We must humbly inspect what the Creator, of his own free will, has produced and apply our rational powers of testing to comprehend what He has manufactured. Testing of what is, not rationalizing from first principles, will lead us to the truth about the physical world.

This is precisely the path John Philoponus opened up and it is exactly how the first modern scientists thought about their work. Isaac Newton, John Ray, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, William Harvey, Robert Boyle and the others: they were all inspired by the doctrine that the universe is a work of art from an utterly free Hand, not an eternally rational system.

What was required therefore was not more confident philosophical (or theological) rationalizing about the world but more probing of what is there in front of us, proposing theories about how it might work, testing those theories against other available facts and seeking confirmation from others: in short, the modern scientific method.

The monographs on the origins of science by Oxford’s Peter Harrison bear this out in compelling detail.

Tamas Pataki is totally wrong to suggest that the Greeks gave us the path of testing, experience and appeal to evidence. They gave us logic, for sure. But it was the followers of the Bible who insisted that logic alone cannot establish ultimate reality by deduction.

What is needed is “experience” – criticizing hypothesis from evidence and so verifying what is, not what ought logically to be. They applied this method first to the historical discipline, giving birth to the modern practice of history through research into primary sources (another story worth telling), and then to the physical world, giving birth to the empirical sciences.

What is perfectly clear is that Pataki’s dewy-eyed ode to the wonders of Greek thought and his caricature of the bumbling “soothsaying” of the Jews and Christians owe more to his own dogma than to either evidence or contemporary scholarship on any of the questions he touches upon.’

HT:Mike Bird:


Rob Bell -Resurrection

Posted: April 5, 2010 in Theo/Philo

Last week I saw the UK premier of the controversial American film ‘Expelled -no intelligence allowed’ featuring Ben Stein and concerning the freedom of enquiry within Science .Specifically the freedom to infer an intelligent cause in the origin of life and its diversity.

This film was shown by premier radio ,with Justin Brierly as host, at Imperial college London, right next door to the natural Science Museum.

The Intelligent design inference ,like the naturalistic material inference which is the current default position for Science have metaphysical implications -it is these implications that make the subject of intelligent design and Evolution such a hot baked potato.

After the screening of the film there was a panel of 4 people, 2 on each side of the argument debating the film and its implications followed by a Q&A session.

On the panel was Dr Steve Fuller and Dr Alistar Nobel support ID, opposing them was Dr Keith Fox and Dr Susan Blackmore .

Dr Fox presented the argument that Intellegent design was a show stopper for Science; paraprhasing he said : all we can say is God did it ..then what , where does the research go then ?

In reply to this a few thoughts come to mind -:

1.Science largely arose from a Theistic perspective for 2 reasons:

a.Man was sinful therefore his faculties were suspect -he had an epistemological crisis-to over come ,which the scientific method provided via evidence and experimentation.

b.The universe is rational therefore a rational mind can comprehend it.

2.Science should follow where the evidence leads even if it leads towards design rather than blind chance,ascribing chance to a phenomena instead of design may be the show stopper -particularly if the phenomena in question was actually designed.

For further arguments go here

Dr Alistair Nobel quiet rightly kept bringing up the specified information content found within DNA  in the cell was not unlike  computer code,which needs an intelligence source to write it .  The similarities betweeen code and DNA were used to imply Intelliegnt design as a reasonable inference .

Stephen Meyer:

‘Thus, oddly, at nearly the same time that computer scientists were beginning to develop machine languages, molecular biologists were discovering that living cells has been using something akin to machine code or software all along.To quote the information scientist Hubert Yockley again “The genetic code is constructed to confront and solve problems of communication and recording by the same principles found…in modern communication and computer codes.” Like software, the coding regions of DNA direct operations within a complex material system via highly variable and improbable, yet also precisely specified, sequences of chemical characters. How did these digitally encoded and specifically sequenced instructions in DNA arise? And how did they arise within a channel for transmitting information?

How indeed ?

Information is separate from the medium or substrate that carries it:

George Willams (Evolutionary Biologist) “evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with two more or less incommensurable domains:that of information and that of matter…The gene is a package of information, not an object.The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene.But the DNA is the medium not the message”

-no chance event has ever produced specified information yet there is a presupposition towards chance as the bringer of complexity that can not only produce a code and give meaning to the code but can also produce the means of transcribing and translating that code -Chicken and egg come to mind.There is much more to  the film including the a link between Natural selection and the Nazi regime.

A great day out thanks Premier radio for the event .