iSoul Time has three dimensions

Actual infinity

Before the 19th century it was commonly understood that only God (or perhaps the “gods”) were actually infinite.  If one spoke about the actual infinite, one was doing theology.  In mathematics infinity was considered a manner of speaking, which was clarified in the early 19th century with the careful definition of limits.

In the late 19th century Cantor’s infinite sets were seen as a challenge to this because they treated infinite sets as complete entities.  But there is still no need to consider this essentially different from the relative manner infinity is treated elsewhere in mathematics.

The idea that the universe may be eternal is ancient but there has never been a comprehensive treatment of what this would mean.  Theologians are still struggling to understand in what sense time could exist before the creation.  Nonmetric time seems to be the best solution.

The burden is on anyone who speaks of a physical infinite to explain in detail what they mean.  Otherwise, they’re just throwing words around.

August 2014

Philosophy

Robert Sokolowski wrote, “It is notoriously difficult for philosophers to explain, to people unfamiliar with their discipline, what it is that they do.” He goes on in his article entitle, “The Method of Philosophy: Making Distinctions” that the articulation of distinctions is what philosophy is about. (The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 51, No. 3, Mar., 1998).

Locally true but globally false

Naturalism assumes that what is true in local places or times must be true for all places and times — after all, isn’t that Occam’s razor?  But it does not follow.  For example, the earth seems flat in each locality but globally it is not.  In mathematics there are many examples where what is locally true is globally false.

This reinforces the need for creationists to emphasize the global picture and not get side-tracked on the local details.  The global creation, the global flood, and the global confusion of tongues are the three keys of history.

July 2014

Explanation anxiety

One thing I’ve noticed with evolutionists is the level of what I call “explanation anxiety” is high.  That is, they must have an explanation for everything.  If something is observed, they need an explanation for it and they need it now.  They can’t wait.  They must know.  A few minor things can be unexplained for a while but someone should be working on that, too.

The other side of this is the attitude that science already knows nearly everything.  Jason Rosenhouse said 99 percent.  There’s no sense of the enormity of what we don’t yet know.  And there’s no humility about our inability to know everything.

“The world shall perish not for lack of wonders, but for lack of wonder.”  (said by GK Chesterton or JBS Haldane).

July 2014

What Jason Rosenhouse finds

Jason Rosenhouse’s “Among the Creationists” (Oxford, 2012) is a journalistic-style exploration of “creationist subculture” by a mathematician who claims to be open-minded but skeptical.  The reality is he’s an atheistic evolutionist looking for weaknesses in creationism while trying to understand these “insular” people.  It’s still a good read but what are the weaknesses he finds?

p51 “Even suggesting the concept of an infallible source of information about nature entails the abandonment of the scientific method.” In other words science must be primary.  This contradicts an earlier assertion (p37): “Scientists think of evolution as a useful theory, not as an all-encompassing worldview.”

p53 “Worse, creationists tend to be inconsistent.  First, they point to some complex adaptation and loudly proclaim it absurd to think it evolved gradually.  Then, when scientists dutifully uncover likely precursors and plausible gradualist scenarios, they say it is trivial to make up a story.”  Apart from the spin, there is something to this.  I think we underestimate the evolutionary imagination.  They really can imagine nature doing everything.  After all, Nature is their god.

p90 “At its core, creationism is a cultural and political rebellion against a scientific theory that is believed to menace religion and morality.”  There is something to this but it shows his unwillingness to treat creationism as a competing truth claim; it’s just “cultural and political”.

This is why he quotes Phillip Johnson (p118): “Victory in the creation-evolution dispute therefore belongs to the party with the cultural authority to establish the ground rules that govern the discourse. If creation is admitted as a serious possibility, Darwinism cannot win, and if it is excluded a priori Darwinism cannot lose.”  It’s a culture-war thing, not a debate about truth.

Interestingly, he does not promote methodological naturalism (MN) to demarcate science from non-science (p123): “Viewed as a convention of current scientific practice based on its long track record of success, MN seems entirely reasonable. Viewed as a fundamental ground rule to which science must always and everywhere adhere, MN seems dogmatic and unnecessary.”  He thinks creationism can be dispatched without MN.

He is impressed by scientific expertise but says (p124): “There are no experts on the ultimate nature of reality.”  Yet scientists are left as the default experts on everything.

He asks Michael Behe a long question about what difference ID makes and quotes his response in full but doesn’t accept Behe’s answer, which seems to me a good off-the-cuff answer (p.128): “So the similarities are really interesting, tracing lines of descent, that’s very interesting, but inferring from that that it was a Darwinian random process, that’s a whole lot trickier, and I think, like I say, people let their presumptions guide them more than they should.”  (p129) “Because in my view the more we know about, the more we watch actual evolution in nature without models that govern our presuppositions, the more and more I think we will see that Darwinian processes are, in fact, limited.”

Not surprisingly he reacts negatively to the Creation Museum (p137): “Though I am certain the museum’s directors would disagree, it is fair to say that many of the exhibits demonize science and scientists.”  p139: “The creationist view was said to rest on a foundation of ‘God’s Word.’ The foundation for the evolutionist view? ‘Human Reason.’ This surprised me, since it implied that human reason is in some way hostile to creationism.”  I happen to agree that creationists overdo the God vs. Reason contrast — we need to rediscover the Logos.

Occasionally he sees things clearly (p145): “However you imagine God’s creative activity, it is clear that He did some things supernaturally and allowed other things to unfold by natural laws. The only question is the balance He employed.”

I was surprised by his negativity toward the Flood (p154): “More than anything else, it is their literal understanding of Noah and the flood that makes young-Earth creationists seem foolish. … But the implausibility of the Noah story is striking upon even the most casual reading.”

He replies to accusations of evolutionary racism with counter-accusations about the “curse of Ham” (p157): “Creationism and racism have a long history of going hand in hand.”  We do need to qualify our charges here: evolutionary racists were not the first racists but were the first to think of exterminating whole classes of people.

In some ways he agrees with us (p167): “Nor should we pretend that the Bible’s scientific assertions can be cleanly separated from its theological teachings.” But he reaches an opposite conclusion (p169): “The Bible’s forays into science are frequently fallacious.”

He criticizes those who try to harmonize the Bible with evolution (p171): “We hardly heed Christianity to direct us towards the awesomeness of existence, or to the distance between what the world is and what it could be. Such observations are commonplaces of daily life.”  He rightly ridicules those who try to replace Adam and Eve (p174): “I think, though, that we are entitled to be suspicious of an interpretation that suddenly discovers in the text of Genesis 2 a previously unsuspected population of Neolithic farmers.”

He rejects dialogue between scientists and theologians because the thinks scientists have nothing to learn from theologians (p176): “Scientists, as scientists, are apparently expected to take an interest in what the theologians are up to. This presents a problem, because for the life of me I cannot see how theology intends to hold up its end of the conversation.”

Which leads to this (p177): “If you want to redefine original sin, or summon forth strained interpretations of Genesis to reconcile evolution with Adam and Eve, then go right ahead. But please do not pretend that this represents some convergence of ancient wisdom with modern understandings. This is not science and religion in conversation. This is science telling it like it is, and religion trying desperately to catch up.”

He is somewhat positive on the 2008 ICC (p188): “Since ID is vague to the point of vacuity, it is hard to imagine how ID folk could hold a conference of similar breadth or depth.”

He summarizes (p190): “We have previously discussed three of the main points of tension between evolution and Christianity: evolution at least potentially conflicts with the Bible, it exacerbates the problem of evil, and it seriously weakens the argument from design. A fourth point of tension [is] … whether evolution diminishes the role of humanity in God’s creation.”

He acknowledges his fair treatment (p215): “I am grateful to [creationists] for their general tolerance of my presence at their gatherings, even if they were not always pleased I was there.”

Another point of agreement (p217): “In the end [creationists] are opposed to evolution because they perceive, correctly in my view, that evolution severely challenges central tenets of Christianity.”

His bottom line? p219 “At a personal level I think very highly of many of the creationists I have met, but ultimately we are on opposite sides. They are wrong about important things, and their ideology must be vigorously opposed whenever it attempts, in even the slightest way, to influence public policy or education.”  In other word, evolutionists own the public square so creationists should keep quiet.  It won’t happen, Jason.

July 2014

What is the theory of evolution?

Philosophers of biology try to clarify what scientists are really doing. One answer to “what is the theory of evolution?” is given here excerpted from “Philosophy of Biology” by Thomas Pradeu (Paris-Sorbonne University).  http://thomaspradeu.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Pradeu_Philo-bio_OUP_Final.pdf

“Philosophy of biology” refers to the critical examination of the conceptual, theoretical and methodological foundations of today’s life sciences. … Important founders include David Hull (1935-2010), Michael Ruse (born in 1940), and Elliott Sober (born in 1948). …

In this presentation, I hope to show the diversity of the problems posed in philosophy of biology by drawing attention to seven of them. …

1. The status of the theory of evolution
The theory of evolution is generally considered to be the foundation to every proposition in biology, as well as the primary, if not unique, biological theory. What then, precisely, does “the theory of evolution” mean?

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Time

For evolution time and change are critical.  If there is insufficient time for evolution, it fails.  If time and change don’t explain everything, evolution fails.  The backbone of evolution is its dating methods.  Time is the key to evolution.

But time is not a critical variable for creationists.  Creation is basically the same as it was in the beginning.  Variations and catastrophes are secondary to the constancy of creation.  After scientists understand what doesn’t change, then they can fit change into that framework.

Creationists should not follow evolutionists in thinking that time and chronology are the key to science.  They are not.  Invariance is the key to science and it always has been.  That’s why real science studies physical laws and their consequences.

June 2014

A model of the Creator

It sounds outrageous to attempt a model of the Creator but consider this:  there have been models in the past and evolutionists continue to argue against them.  Even atheists have a model of the Creator they reject.

Creationists are at a disadvantage without a better model of the Creator.  It does no good to say that models of the Creator are impossible because that’s equivalent to saying the Creator could do anything at any time and so is a wild card that has no place in science.

The model of the Creator that prevailed in the 19th century included the following:

1.  The Creator created a creation that included all possible forms of life.  This reflected the fullness and glory of God.

2.  The Creator sustains all forms of life so it is impossible for any form to become extinct.  This reflects the power and reliability of God.

3.  The Creator created a hierarchy of life forms with human beings at the top.  This reflects a hierarchical view of everything with God at the top.

4.  The Creator created and sustains every species so that what is observed today is the same as what always existed.  This reflects a static view of the universe.

This model of the Creator was superseded in the 19th century by the discovery of forms of life in the past that no longer exist and similarities between species that was understood as evidence of a common process at work. What is the new model of the Creator?

May 2014

On the Centrist Project

The Centrist Project proposes to break the gridlock in Washington by electing five independent Senators.  It’s an appealing strategy.  But their Centrist Principles show a moderate go with the flow attitude that eschews “ideology” for trendy politics.

For example, under Environmental responsibility it reads:

“I will act as a steward of the environment for future generations. I believe that climate change represents a potential threat to the United States and the international community. I will support international efforts to curtail carbon emissions, including policies that raise the cost of polluting behavior.”

There is no awareness of trade-offs here or of the extremes of environmental and anti-environmental politics.  Without an “ideology” of centrist philosophy this effort will drift into going with whatever direction the political winds are blowing.

Means and Extremes

Means and extremes in classical mathematics have to do with proportions.

If A is to B as C is to D, we write A : B :: C : D.  This is ordered so that A is greater than or equal to B and C is greater than or equal to D.  A and D are called the extremes; B and C are called the means.

By elementary arithmetic the product of the extremes equals the product of the means:

A x D = B x C.

If B = C, then B is the mean proportional or geometric mean of A and D.  In that case B is the positive square root of A x D.

This provides a basic principle for centrism: the means are between the extremes in a principles manner.