Berlinski quote of the Month

Posted: March 26, 2010 in Uncategorized

Not unrelated to the film ‘Expelled -no intelligence allowed’-I submit for your thoughts and comments:

‘Dawkins is prepared to acknowledge the facts while denying their significance. Neither the Nazis nor the Communists, he affirms, acted because of their atheism. They were simply keen to kill a great many people. Atheism had nothing to do with it. They might well have been Christian Scientists.

In the early days of the German advance into Eastern Europe, before the possibility of Soviet retribution even entered their untroubled imagination, Nazi extermination squads would sweep into villages, and after forcing the villagers to dig their own graves, murder their victims with machine guns. On one such occasion somewhere in eastern Europe , an SS officer watched languidly, his machine gun cradled, as an elderly and bearded Hasidic Jew laboriously dug what he knew to be his grave.

Standing up straight, he addressed his executioner. “God is watching what you are doing,” he said.

And then he was shot dead.

What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals,Brown shirts, Black shirts,gauleiters, and a thousand party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing.

And as far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the twentieth century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing either.

That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society.”

(taken from David Berlinski’s book ‘The Devils delusion Atheism and its scientific pretensions’)

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 http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1181

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 .

I recently managed to get a Panasonic Lumiz TZ7 camera -which has HD movie capability.So as a stroke of genius or madness I present to the world my  2 year old Labradore Sam, all 40kg’s of Him,  using the TZ7 -(it is slightly over exposed something I have now remedied)

Three cheers for the Trinity!

Posted: September 14, 2009 in Theo/Philo

crowds_of_people

 

The late theologian Francis Schaeffer talks about the Trinity amongst other things as a means of overcoming the problem of particulars verses universals.

He defines the problem as:
‘In the area of knowledge you have particulars , by which we mean the individual “things” that we see in the world.

At any given moment, I am faced with thousands, indeed, literally millions of particulars, just in what I see with the glance of the eyes. What are the universals which give these particulars meaning? This is the heart of the problem of epistemology and the problem of knowing’

With the Trinity we have a model for universals and particulars in that there is both personal unity and personal diversity within the relationship of the Father,son and holy spirit.

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’.

The Trinity also  answers the problem of consciousness as expressed by Ayn Rand :

‘If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something.’

Prior to the creation event  God was totally alone with nothing else existing then he could not be conscious of anything except himself.
The answer to this problem is that prior to anything existing apart from God -God was in relationship with the members of the trinity-The Father is not the same person as the Son; the Son is not the same person as the Holy Spirit; and the Holy Spirit is not the same person as Father.The Trinity has particulars and universals they are three distinct persons; yet, they are all the one God.

ewigejude

Forget global warming, the recession, the Taliban,over population,rising crime,
Run screamming into the streets!
Protect your children… I’m  coming to get them …here I come …who’s that knocking at the door ?…those heavy footsteps upon the stair are they the boots of the evolutionist deniers ?…apparently yes according to Richard Dawkins latest article in the Times!
Isn’t it  great that this debate can be painted by Dawkins in such  broad  simplistic strokes; there are  the good guys (the evolutionists of course )  there are  the bad guys ( the creationists) …thats it!
To  foster that simplistic approach nowhere in the article is the theory of evolution or the term creationists defined, perhapse the choir know the words to this song already ?
Nowhere in this article is a single scientific fact regarding evolution expounded upon, thats  ok though as this isn’t a scientific article.
What there is plenty of from Dawkins is the use of the argument from authority (argumentum ad verecundium) should I take note  of senior clergy -sadly with the state of the authorised version of the church I think not.
The arugment from authority like his other favoured method of attack, the ad hominem argument against the character of his oponents; apart from providing an echo chamber for the Dawkins faithfull proves exactly nothing and contains no scientific arguments.

Equating evolution with historical facts such as the holocaust elevates evolution from a theory to a fact that cannot be challenged unless your one of those nasty Islamic fundies or one of the uninformed Christian laiety on a par with holocaust deniers- who should be pitied,patted on the head and told to go away.
Equating those who question a purely naturalistic approach to evolution with holocaust deniers -history deniers  will do wonders for encourgaing scientific discourse… thats the way to create healthy debate !Way to go Richard!Science is served -I think not!

Richard continues his name calling :

‘Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips . . . continue the list as long as desired. That didn’t have to be true. It is not self-evidently, tautologically, obviously true, and there was a time when most people, even educated people, thought it wasn’t. It didn’t have to be true, but it is. We know this because a rising flood of evidence supports it. Evolution is a fact, and [my] book will demonstrate it. No reputable scientist disputes it, and no unbiased reader will close the book doubting it. ‘

Intelligent design theory is very catholic in that  it encompasses both those who believe in a metaphysical reality and those who don’t.
The theory is defined as :

‘The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection. ID is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.’

Intelligent design proponents, which, despite Dawkins efforts still exist (that is a fact in the same sense as it is a fact that Paris is in the northern hemisphere) allow for evolution but not for a completely closed universe where all the complexity and funconatlity we see in nature  was caused by unguided accidents.
As a broad church, Id proponents some of which have no issue with common descent for instance  -all agree however that the complexity and functionality  found in the cell are beyond the power of  multiple accidents to produce.
What remains to  be proven is that the breathtaking complexity that the cell for instance  is unfolding before us -was  caused by purely naturalistic process.
Still we can stifle that discussion by name calling and demonising.Here I come Muhahahaaaa!!!

hand-detail-21

There are some fundamental ideas that point away from a exclusively materialistic closed universe, towards a universe existing as a result of intent.Current evidence based thinking supports the idea of the universe existing from the moment of a singularity;described by Hoyle mockingly as the ‘Big Bang’.Either the universe had a initial agency cause or it has existed eternally there are no other options available as far as I can see.An eternal universe has several problems -one that is new to me is the idea of heat death as expounded by William Lane Craig – :

‘According to the second law of thermodynamics, processes taking place in a closed system always tend toward a state of equilibrium. Now our interest is in what implications this has when the law is applied to the universe as a whole. For the universe is a gigantic closed system, since it is everything there is and no energy is being fed into it from without. The second law seems to imply that, given enough time, the universe will reach a state of thermodynamic equilibrium, known as the “heat death” of the universe. This death may be hot or cold, depending on whether the universe will expand forever or eventually re-contract. On the one hand, if the density of the universe is great enough to overcome the force of the expansion, then the universe will re-contract into a hot fireball. As the universe contracts, the stars burn more rapidly until they finally explode or evaporate. As the universe grows denser, the black holes begin to gobble up everything around them and begin themselves to coalesce until all the black holes finally coalesce into one gigantic black hole which is coextensive with the universe, from which it will never re-emerge. On the other hand, if the density of the universe is insufficient to halt the expansion, as seems more likely, then the galaxies will turn all their gas into stars and the stars will burn out. At 10[30 ]years the universe will consist of 90% dead stars, 9% supermassive black holes, and l% atomic matter. Elementary particle physics suggests that thereafter protons will decay into electrons and positrons, so that space will be filled with a rarefied gas so thin that the distance between an electron and a positron will be about the size of the present galaxy. At 10[100] years some scientists believe that the black holes themselves will dissipate into radiation and elementary particles. Eventually all the matter in the dark, cold, ever-expanding universe will be reduced to an ultra-thin gas of elementary particles and radiation. Equilibrium will prevail throughout, and the entire universe will be in its final state, from which no change will occur.

Now the question which needs to be asked is this: if, given sufficient time, the universe will reach heat death, then why is it not now in a state of heat death if it has existed for infinite time? If the universe did not begin to exist, then it should now be in a state of equilibrium.’


The problem with an eternal universe that has always existed is that we have an infinite regress, that is we’d have an infinite series of moments to surpass in order to arrive at this moment. The infinite past would never catch up with the present so that no causality would be effected. That leaves the idea of an agent causing the universe to exist,further to this idea I came upon this idea from a guy on a forum called forhisglory which I like :

1.The universe, and everything in it, is contingent ,that is it does not have to exist (it is not certain to exist-it is not logically necessary)

2.This contingent nature of the universe gives it the potential to not exist or to change its nature .

3.Something that has potentiality is by definition an effect of some cause.

4.Contingent entities cannot cause there own existence .

5.Therefore, there must be pure actuality, that exists as a necessary being, to actualize all that is contingent. We could call that pure actuality God.

More Bono and Bill

Posted: February 16, 2009 in Uncategorized