iSoul In the beginning is reality

Explaining everything

Eureka! I found it! What is it? A principle that proves every mathematical theorem! Amazing, isn’t it? Now mathematics is completely solved. Everything is proved–everything. How is this done? Well, it turns out to be quite simple. No, I’m not a math genius. And you don’t have to be a math genius to understand it, either. Ready? Here it is:

Start with the Universal Theorem Prover: 1=0. Simple, isn’t it? All you need is 1=0. With this simple principle you can prove everything! But isn’t that a contradiction? Yes, of course! You just have to remember that if a contradiction is true, then so is everything else. Isn’t that great?

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I suspect you aren’t impressed with the Universal Theorem Prover. It lacks meaning. It doesn’t really prove anything. Yet logically it does prove everything. That’s just the point: proving everything proves too much.

There is a trade-off between completeness and consistency. Yes, you can prove everything but the price is losing consistency. Alternately, you can retain consistency but you lose completeness. This is related to Gödel’s incompleteness theorems.

Which shall it be–completeness or consistency? Keep this in mind.

Science has analogues to the Universal Theorem Prover. I call them Universal Explanation Engines (UEE). What does a UEE do? It explains everything. There’s nothing it can’t explain. Do you have a question? Do you have some puzzling evidence? It can all be explained by a UEE.

For example, there’s the It Just So Happened That Way UEE, which explains everything as the result of just so happening that way. Why is the Earth so finely tuned for life? It Just So Happened That Way. How did the first organism arise? It Just So Happened That Way. Why do migratory birds have such finely tuned navigation systems? It Just So Happened That Way. You get the idea.

There’s another UEE called Darwinism, commonly known as the theory of evolution. How did similar fossils arise? Evolution! How did dissimilar fossils arise? Evolution! How did simple organisms arise? Evolution! How did complex organisms arise? Evolution! How did well-designed organisms arise? Evolution! How did poorly designed organisms arise? Evolution! How did beautiful organisms arise? Evolution! How did ugly organisms arise? Evolution!

As one proponent put it, Darwinism is a “universal acid” because it explains (away) every religious belief. So how did religion arise? Evolution! Then how did evolution arise? Evolution!

Evolution explains everything! It’s a Universal Explanation Engine.

But wait–this is suspicious. Maybe this “explanation” doesn’t mean much of anything. Stop! Don’t think! Just say “Evolution!”

May 2008

The creation paradigm

Simply put, an historical paradigm is a storyline of history. A storyline is a theme that similar stories have. Compare this with what Imré Lakatos called “research programmes”:

For Lakatos, what we think of as a ‘theory’ may actually be a succession of slightly different theories and experimental techniques developed over time, that share some common idea, or what Lakatos called their ‘hard core’. Lakatos called such changing collections ‘Research Programmes’. [Wikipedia]

An historical paradigm is similar except that it concerns history rather than science. Here the Creation Paradigm is presented as the common idea of histories and theories around the concept of special creation. The core propositions of the creation paradigm are as follows.

Read more →

Creation history

A prima facie case can be made that mainline science conflicts with the Scriptures, that is, the Bible. For one thing, mainline science excludes final causes and follows naturalism so some conflict is inevitable. Naturalism excludes all miracles. The chronology of nature adopted by most science institutions is contrary to some historical parts of Scripture, at least if those parts are read as history. All these things come together in the question of the origin of creation.

Christians have dealt with these issues in various ways, and the main point to note is that there are reasonable ways of dealing with the question of origins that are consistent with Christianity. However, Christians disagree with one another on what is the best approach. Some consider science and Scripture to be operating in mutually exclusive realms that have no interaction (an idea that is found among some non-Christians as well). Often Christians accept as much science as they can and modify a few points to avoid head-on conflict. This is complemented by interpreting Scripture in a way that is compatible with mainline science. Theistic evolution and progressive creation are leading examples of this approach.

Intelligent design is a newcomer to the field of origins. ID proponents bring final causes into natural history and take exception to the assumption of naturalism. They accept mainline science in so far as it doesn’t presuppose naturalism. Finally, there are the creationists, who go beyond denying naturalism and declare boldly that the history presented in Scripture is correct and should be incorporated into science. This last group will be the focus here.

The study of origin of the universe, the earth, life, and humanity touches on science, history, philosophy, and theology. These short essays endeavor to show how they inter-relate.

The Creation Paradigm

Explaining Everything

Nature, Creation, and Science

A Short Critique of “The Short Proof of Evolution”

The Short Proof of Creation

Origins Links

History

In broad terms there are two kinds of history: diachronic and synchronic history. The history of a people or nation over generations and centuries is told by diachronic history. The history of a time or period across peoples or nations is told by synchronic history (also called synchronistic history). The diachronic history of Western Civilization leads back through Roman history to Hebrew history to the Great Flood and ultimately to Creation Week. This formed the storyline of the Grand Narrative of Western Civilization.

A synchronic history from natural science achieved prestige in the 19th century in which human history is overshadowed by a deep time of evolution across species, the earth, and the stars. An anthropocentric diachronic history was ignored in favor of a mechanistic, evolutionary history that determined the destiny of every atom, organism, and population.

The evolution paradigm says that synchronic history moves from primitive to advanced, from simple to complex, and from weak to strong. This paradigm of progress is seen to be played out in every aspect of the world, from nature to economics, from politics to religion. It is a Grand Narrative that is askew of the traditional diachronic narrative.

A comparison of the diachronic narrative with the synchronic narrative leads to comparing evolution with creation. As the study of evolution vastly expands synchronic history, the study of creation expands diachronic history. The creation paradigm says that history moves chronologically from creation to corruption to redemption, from a golden age to a dark age to an age of light. This is not a paradigm of mere regress or progress, although there is some of both.

As an example, compare the history of mythology. The evolution paradigm sees mythology as comprised of primitive nonsense, which is gradually replaced by explanations that are more sophisticated until myth simply means falsehood and science is the only explanation left standing. The creation paradigm sees mythology as a corruption of early history and looks for the true diachronic history behind the myths.

Since time is time, one would hope that diachronic and synchronic history would converge but the tendency has been for one to gain prestige at the expense of the other. There are some researchers who try to reconcile them without denigrating either but these people have been widely derided in the late modern age. Surely the civilization to come will seek a genuine harmony of diachronic and synchronic history.

Why a new civilization?

This website is focused on helping lay foundations for a new civilization, not following the decline and fall of an old civilization. But understanding weaknesses in the old civilization may provide insight into what to avoid. The problem is that most analyses of Western civilization do not go far enough. They either support mild reforms or promote a revolutionary game of musical chairs.

The success of the hard sciences — mostly physics, chemistry, and biochemistry — has propelled science in general to the top rung of authority in Western society. Traditional authority structures of society such as religious institutions, community arrangements, and family relations have declined drastically in importance.

Central governments have supported science and have receive support from science. The spread of government-controlled education to the highest university level has also provided government with reciprocal support. Central governments have played other sources of authority against each other and increasingly taken their place.

The politicization of society has continued until only science has the authority to challenge it — but science is dependent on state support and so does not challenge central government. Science is becoming increasingly politicized as the source for more power grabs by the central government. But the politicization of science is the end of science. So nothing is left to challenge the power of the state and totalitarianism follows.

Meanwhile, science faces a moral crisis with its inability to place limits on research, on applications, or on the scope of science no matter how immoral. By including mankind in its naturalistic methods, science promotes atheism and materialism, much to the delight of a science establishment drunk with arrogance. Deconstructive, skeptical, and ironic methods that have brought down the humanities turn on science to undermine it and bring down the intellectual house of cards.

The mistake is giving too much authority to science in the first place. A modest science can take its place among society’s institutions only as science forsakes its exaggerated claims. The state that grew with science and technology also has too much authority. Which means that others should gain in authority. Who? The traditional authority structures of society such as religious institutions, community arrangements, and family relations.

2009

Secular religion and religious secularism

Aren’t “secular” and “religious” mutually exclusive terms? Not necessarily. The term “religion” has two basic senses. The narrow sense of the term that means an historical religion, a self-identified religion, does not include secular religion. But religion in the broader sense is something that constitutes one’s life goal, the highest authority one recognizes, the self-existing reality one acknowledges. Negatively, it is something that people most resist changing. In that sense a secular religion is the religion of secular people.

Secular people are those who recognize or value no reality other than secular reality — a reality of this world, this era, this life. Marxism is the best known example of a secular religion. It is a religion for people who are anti-religious (meaning against every non-secular religion), and whose life goal is the establishment of a certain political system.

Religious secularism uses traditional religious language to express secular motivations, means, and ends. For example, those who use religious language to promote political or social goals are engaging in religious secularism. Both religious liberalism and militant forms of Islam fall into this category.

Secular religion and religious secularism find it advantageous to hide their agenda. Secular religion hides religion behind a secular facade. Their words are secular but their goals are religious. Religious secularism hides secularism behind a religious facade. Their words are religious but their goals are secular.

How do you tell whether someone has a religious agenda hidden behind secular language or a secular agenda hidden behind religious language? “By their fruit you shall know them.” Actions speak louder than words. Do they always interpret religious matters as secular realities or secular matters as religious realities? Do they consistently demonize their opponents? Does their agenda consume their life?

2009

Politics by other means

There are two key social movements in modern society: the movement to make society more subject to politics and the movement to make society less subject to politics. The former movement is called socialism (it would be better called “politicism”). The latter movement has no single name but is called conservatism more than other names. In the French Assembly the royalists sat on the right and the radicals sat on the left, so socialists have come to be called the Left and non-socialists called the Right.

Historically, socialism burst on the scene with the French revolution, although precursors and related movements have earlier roots. Historically, conservativism as a political philosophy began as a reaction to the French revolution, although it has much older roots. In Europe, conservatives were identified with defenders of the “old regime”, the monarchy. In America, the monarchy ended with the American Revolution so there is no “old regime” to return to but there are cultural, economic, and religious traditions inherited from European roots that could be re-invigorated.

Today socialism has won most of its aims as stated in the nineteenth century, which were primarily economic. There are new aims now, particularly since the New Left surpassed the Old Left in the latter part of the twentieth century. These new aims are primarily cultural and moral.

The situation today in many developed societies is a high degree of politicization. There is little that is not politicized anymore: education, science, culture, morality, religion–all are influenced by the political order, subject to the political order, and commonly understood in political terms.

Carl von Clausewitz’s famously wrote “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means (Der Krieg ist eine blosse Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln). While there is some dispute about what he was trying to say, it suggests that politics can be continued in other ways, which is what socialism does.

With few exceptions, education historically has been a private matter, often conducted by religious organizations. The nineteenth century saw the spread of government-funded schools under the banner of education for all. These state schools (also called “public schools” in the U.S.) started with primary schools and expanded to include secondary schools and later state universities. Since World War II, state support for education has grown enormously.

Science, at first called natural or experimental philosophy, was originally conducted by individuals who were either independently wealthy or were supported by patrons. As science became more organized and professionalized, it was increasingly shaped by the state starting in the nineteenth century. State support was promoted on utilitarian grounds, and later on grounds of national security. Since World War II, state support for research in science and technology has grown enormously.

Naturalistic thought burst upon the political stage with the French Revolution. It spread from there to the scientific associations and then to state-supported education and science. Compared with centuries past in which the state supported religious education (and the science of the day indirectly), now the state supports naturalistic thought. Teachers promote a worldview that is at odds with non-naturalistic religion. Children are routinely subjected to the state’s naturalistic moral philosophy. The state school system is effectively a state religion.

The politicization of education, science, and religion follows from their state support. The state will not support activities that are contrary to its policies, and organizations supported by the state have a strong self-interest in influencing the state. Educational unions promote greater support for state education. Scientific organizations promote greater support for state science. And the state religion promotes state expansion into every area of life.

What conclusions can we draw from this? We should expect that politics will become even more insolent than it already is since ever more is at stake in elections and political decisions. We should expect that education will become more blatantly political and that privately-financed alternatives to state education will be forbidden. Similarly, we should expect that science will become more blatantly political and that alternatives to state science will be forbidden. Also, we should expect that religion will become more blatantly political and that alternatives to state religion will be forbidden.

The end of socialism is totalitarianism.

2010

Principles of table manners

It is recognized that manners are culture-bound, however, there are principles that are similar in different cultures and make good sense.

.    1.  Show respect first to the host and then to the other guests.

Defer to the host. Let the host go first or wait until the host asks you to go ahead. Sit up straight in your chair. Avoid putting your elbows on the table. Don’t grab items in front of others; rather, ask them to pass the items. Don’t leave the table without asking permission or excusing yourself.

  1. Use the utensils for the food intended by the host.

Use utensils from the outside in toward the plate. Some foods that you may eat with your fingers: artichoke, asparagus (as long as there is no sauce on it, and it’s not too long), bacon (but only if it is crisp), sandwiches, cookies, small fruits or berries with stems, french fries and potato chips, hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob, caviar, pickles.

  1. Use utensils in a manner that doesn’t approach threatening the host or guests.

Place sharper knife edges toward the plate. Hold fork tines downward. Don’t point utensils at others.

  1. Use utensils in a manner that doesn’t approach dirtying the host or guests.

Once you use a utensil, don’t let it touch the table again. Avoid dropping, splattering etc. food.

  1. Eat in a manner that minimizes non-speech sounds.

Avoid slurping, chomping, burping, etc. Minimize the sounds emitted from your mouth when chewing. Chew slower, keep mouth more closed to lessen sounds.

  1. Eat in a manner that minimizes others seeing chewed food.

Acceptable: don’t speak with food on your tongue. Better: don’t speak with any food in your mouth. Don?t speak with a mouth full of food unless it’s an emergency. Use your napkin to remove food from your mouth, etc. Don’t put the entire soup spoon in your mouth.

April 13, 2002

Unconditional Love in a Conditional World

What is love? Love is a discipline of word and deed comprised of denial of oneself and affirmation of one’s beloved. How can one legitimately say to another, “I love you”? That is, what basis is there for one to declare love to someone else (other than a previous vow)?

Since love is comprised of deeds as well as words, a declaration of love must be followed by deeds of love to be a truthful declaration. So a true declaration of love includes promises of future actions as well as present intentions. How can one make true statements about the future? Either by making true predictions or by making faithful declarations. A faithful declaration is a true declaration in the present that remains true in the future.

So the question becomes: how can one make a faithful declaration of love? Either there is an accurate predictor of future love or there is a faithful basis for future love. Popular culture would say that ?falling in love? is an accurate predictor of future love for some period of time. But it is well known that such periods tend to be short-lived. The other basis is faith.

There are three reasons that could ensure future love:

(1) One loves others indiscriminately;
(2) One loves the beloved’s unchanging character; or
(3) One loves the beloved unconditionally.

Reason (1) would apply to one who loves all or to a love that applies to all. This is legitimate but we are focusing here on a special love of one for another. Reason (2) would apply to one who knows the beloved’s invariant personal essence and can declare in the present that one loves that essence which is timeless. Since empirical knowledge can never attain such categorical knowledge, no amount of time or experience would suffice to justify (2). Apart from a revelation from a timelessly reliable source (as in God), such knowledge is not available to us.

Reason (3) would apply to one who is faithful to their word and has faith that their love won’t be undermined in the future. So their declaration of love is true in the present and will be true in the future. Such a love is not dependent on the beloved or on circumstances but on the integrity and faithfulness of the lover. Knowledge of the beloved may help inspire or enhance such a love but cannot change its nature. This is a faithful love.

Now the question arises, how can one come to the point of making a declaration of faithful love? This is a process of coming to faith. It is similar to any decision in which one commits oneself to a particular future and cuts oneself off from alternative futures. We make these decisions all the time but some of them are bigger than others, that is, they have longer term consequences. We must be willing to cut off a potential future of our own, thus cut off part of our self. So it is an act of self sacrifice. We must also make a choice and open ourselves up to the chosen future.

In summary, one can legitimately say to another “I love you” if one chooses to love them in integrity and faithfulness.

16 March 2001

Justification of tradition

Like many people born after World War II, tradition doesn’t come easily to me. We’ve prided ourselves on making our parents justify every practice they tried to pass on to us. If it didn’t make sense to us, it was oppressive or foolish and should be stopped. Automatic acceptance of tradition was unthinkable.

Tradition was another way of saying “we’ve always done it that way” even though no one could explain why. Tradition seemed to be something someone made up a long time ago and everyone since had to follow along even though it made no sense. Unthinking robots adhered to tradition and impersonal society imposed tradition on people. Tradition was the civilization Huck Finn escaped from and Tevye complained about.

But gradually I’ve come to see the value of tradition. Let me explain. What is tradition? Tradition simply means practices handed down from generation to generation. Note that each generation must practice them in order to pass them on to the next generation. So tradition preserves practices through time. However, traditions are usually not unchangeable; every generation makes some modifications. Here are seven reasons why tradition is valuable.

Tradition is a good place to begin. We may wonder how best to do something but often it is something that has been done many, many times before us. Why go to all the trouble of coming up with a new way of doing things when there is a way that worked before? If no good reason exists to do things another way, go with tradition. The burden of proof is on someone who would change things to show that these changes are better than tradition.

Tradition is familiar. We learn many traditions growing up. We hear or read stories that show traditional practices. People know their roles and the roles of others. But new practices may be strange and confusing; they have to be explained to people who may be skeptical of them or comfortable with a well-worn path. Tradition is like a friend we’ve known for years.

Tradition is empirical. There is a history of experience with tradition. Many others have tried tradition and found that it works. There is a kind of science to tradition: traditions have been tested many times and the results are well known. New ideas lack the knowledge-base of tradition; they need years of experience to fully check them out. Tradition is “tried and true”.

Tradition is evolutionary. Each generation has an opportunity to make minor modifications so traditions are never out of date. Traditions can be adjusted to suit new circumstances. Major blunders are avoided because something that has worked before will work again more or less. There is change as well as continuity.

Tradition is non-ideological. Because tradition evolves and incorporates change gradually, there is no one ideology that drives the process. Tradition is far different from an ideology that would revolutionize things according to some rule or idea. Many things influence tradition over the years. No party or faction controls tradition.

Tradition is worth passing on. Life is short and each generation desires to pass on something significant to the next generation. Tradition is a valuable gift for parents to give their children. It allows each generation to feel part of a chain of events reaching back in time and forward in the future. Tradition connects generations across time.

Tradition is long-lasting. Many things come and go in life but tradition continues year after year. Traditions begin in the distant past and continue for a long time. Fashions change year to year. Many new ideas are short-lived. Tradition remains through it all.

In the end it’s not that tradition has been fully justified. But I don’t demand that tradition be justified anymore. I may still wonder why a tradition is the way it is but there are other things I wonder about more. Tradition simply is. It’s everything else that needs to be justified.

2008