February 4th, 2016

Identity in Branching Worlds (Multiverse)

by Max Andrews

In a non-Everettian context (Hugh Everett) identity may be understood in different ways. Consider David Wallace’s example of the ancient pot (P2). An antiquities specialist informs you that your P2 is the same as P1, a famous pot owned by Emperor Tiberius in ad 30. There is a four-dimensional tube P in spacetime extending from P1 toP2—a spacetime worm. The matter of the tube has certain structural and dynamical connections running along it. If we write P(t) for the contents of P indexed at time t, the specialist’s claim is underwritten by the existence of some structural-dynamical relation R holding, for each t, between P(t) and P(t + δt), with δ signifying a difference or change in time. Each indexed moment along P(t) would simply be a stage of the pot’s existence.

There are two basic philosophical conclusions about the identity of the pot being the same pot. The first is called the Worm View as I’ve previously alluded to. Under this view, P is the pot and P1 and P2 are just different names for the pot (literally, P1 = P2). The second view that the P1 and P2 are the same is the Stage View. The pot appears as an instantaneous three-dimensional object: P1 = P(AD 30); P2 = P(AD 2016). Thus, to say that P1 and P2 is the same pot, it means: P2 is linked to P1 by a continuous chain of R-related pots.

February 2nd, 2016

Adjunct Professorship with Oklahoma Wesleyan University

by Max Andrews

There have been quite a few tech issues with the site lately and I’ve been quite busy being in the last few months of my PhD so I apologise for not having posts as frequently as I would like. Over that last few months it has finally become official that I’m teaching the MA in Theology and Apologetics programme.

In a world that seems increasingly hostile not only to religion in general, but Christianity in particular, the new Oklahoma Wesleyan University Master of Arts in Theology and Apologetics, will prepare the student to not only defend their faith, but have a clear understanding of how to share their faith in a shifting world.

This program is built around the Four Pillars of OKWU; The Primacy of Jesus Christ, The Priority of Scripture, The Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom.  Three classes will be taken supporting each pillar, and will leave the student grounded theologically and apologetically.

The MA in Theology and Apologetics is particularly enriched by our connection to the Josh McDowell Institute of Apologetics here at Oklahoma Wesleyan.  Not only will the student be able to participate in the annual Apologetics Conference in person, by podcast or live streaming, but it is very possible the student will be able to take a class written, and or taught, by such noted apologists as Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig, Abdu Murray and more.

January 26th, 2016

For Jesus so Loved the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Parallel universesPerhaps the paramount problem for Christians and the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (or even the multiverse simpliciter) is Christological and anthropological in nature. There seems to be a very real aspect of our subjectively experienced day-to-day living—faith and hope. Hope is faith or trust predicated to the future. The problem should become evermore present in that Christian doctrine teaches that faith in the efficacy of Jesus’ atonement is a sufficient and necessary condition for salvation.

MIT physicist Max Tegmark talks about hope in the sense that it’s illusory. He gives the illustration of the birth of his son. He sat there in the hospital hoping that nothing would go wrong and he realized that this was foolish. The idea of hope is a ruse foisted upon us by our subjective human experience. Tegmark goes on to say,

January 15th, 2016

Game of Thrones and Philosophy — Book Contribution

by Max Andrews

I recently became interested in A Song of Ice and Fire and the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones within the last year. While LOST will always have a sentimental and special place in my heart, I must concede that this is perhaps the most well-written show I’ve ever seen. LOST is still very well written and tops a close #2 on my list even though I think it is much more philosophical.

Tyler D. McNabb and I have coauthored a chapter for the forthcoming 2016 book The Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy published by Open Court Press. The chapter title is “Belief and Trust in the Fog of War and Lies: The Case of Catelyn and Brienne”. Naturally, I’m not an epistemologist–that’s Tyler. I’m the metaphysician, which made Tyler lead but the contribution by both of us were balanced and equal.

December 11th, 2015

Defending the Existence of an Actual Infinite

by Max Andrews

This past July I presented my first philosophy of mathematics paper at Tyndale’s conference at Cambridge University. In brief discussions with others this paper seems a bit controversial since I’m defending the possibility of an actual infinite set of things existing. Below is the abstract for “The Extent of Existents: Ontologies and Infinities”.

Abstract: There seems to be an intrinsic rationality to the universe that is not simply extrinsically projected by the knowing subject. The consilience between mathematics and physics is inherent to nature and is inductively depended upon by every person. What makes the question of infinities interesting is whether there actually are such existent sets. Theists are often inclined to deny that actual infinites exist and explain such things as useful fictions of conceptually existent in the mind of God—but there can be no actual infinite set (ℵ) of existents [or anything]. I will, of course, address the concrete or abstract nature and [the so-called] indispensability of such sets but that is a peripheral concern, as the infinite set of quarks or strings does not necessarily depend on the existence of the correlate abstracta. I will then survey some rejoinders such as Hilbert’s Hotel and other ‘incoherence’ arguments against actual infinites and how they are limited in applicable scope. Cantorian and ZFC semantics will be used, as they are mathematically canonical. I will conclude that theists are wholly consistent in their philosophy of mathematics and science, which will, in turn, compose a stronger theology of nature by affirming actual infinites. A theological and scientific consilience will be argued from Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of variety and G. W. Leibniz’s principle of plenitude. I will conclude that having a theology and philosophy that permits an actual infinite set of existents will not conflict with [examples in] theoretical physics such as many cosmological models and some mechanics in quantum physics—though this is not to be considered a driving motivator; rather, it’s an example of some of the consequences for one allowing the possibility of an actual infinite of existents to one’s ontological framework.

December 7th, 2015

When the Problem of Evil Makes Sense

by Max Andrews

I had recently received a message from a young gentleman named Erik who sent me the following message:

As an undergrad in philosophy the question of God almost always came up during class. During those times I took a lot of pleasure in using the problem of evil to dismiss the idea of the Christian God.

That was when I was an Atheist. Months later I reconverted to Christianity, but for a while up until yesterday I never understood the problem of evil…which really does come down to the problem of pain. I never really could understand why God allowed for suffering, until yesterday.

I had been praying for the past couple of months for God to reveal Himself to me. I would pray for hours, tears running down my face because I never would get an answer. I was depressed, I had fallen into nihilism because I didn’t feel like anyone cared about me…

I got into a pretty bad car wreck the other day. I should’ve been killed based off of what the Officer said, but I had been able to swerve and avoid colliding head on with a telephone pole. I had fallen asleep, and woke up just in time for me to swerve out of the way. Only the rear of my car was destroyed, but if I hadn’t woken up in time I wouldn’t be here typing this.

When the car finally came to a stop I was able to crawl out and call for help. When I was in the hospital I began to receive calls and visits from friends, family, and complete strangers. Never before had I received such an outpouring of love…

It was then that I realized that God had used this instance of evil to bring about a greater good. Even though I screwed up, God was there.

Through this instance of evil God answered my two prayers. He revealed Himself to me through the miracle of surviving, and he answered my prayers on not feeling like anyone cared for me… through the amount of love I received. I’m telling you this mainly because of your book on suffering. I read about your own personal struggles and how they have brought about changes to your character. Through this instance God has changed mine in a way that I would’ve never thought possible.

So now I understand why there’s suffering in the world. I would’ve never understood it until I as an individual went through it. Now I know God cares for me and exists, now I know that I am loved and have friends and family. All through this instance of pain, and personally I would go through it again each and every time because what it has done for me. Once again, thank you for your book, because it did help bring about more understanding.

November 30th, 2015

A few lives for a thousand… What do you do?

by Max Andrews

Suppose you go back in time to 1941 Germany or anywhere occupied by the Nazis. You have the same memories and knowledge that you have now. You are capable of disabling or shutting down a concentration camp but the only way of successfully doing so requires the 5 Nazi soldiers and doctors must die. Do you kill the Nazis or let them murder the prisoners?

Remember, these soldiers are executing people regularly and these doctors are performing human tests and forced sterilisation at best. However, if you do kill the Nazis, it’s still likely that the prisoners will still die whether it’s because they die of exposure out on their own or they’re killed by others in the near future. It seems you have four choices:

  1. Kill the Nazis and save the prisoners
  2. Do nothing
  3. Help the Nazis
  4. Try to change the laws so the prisons are illegal (it may take decades)

November 28th, 2015

Islamic State and Islam: So You’re a Theologian Now?

by Max Andrews

For the better part of the last two years since the Islamic State (IS) has gained territory in Syria and Iraq, have had terrorist groups in Africa devote allegiance, and have had splinter cells throughout the Western World. One of the Paris attackers came through Greece on the migrant route and was given asylum in Serbia. One of the most repeated lines I see in social media and the so-called BBC is that IS is not Islamic.

(I say so-called BBC since they don’t call IS the Islamic State or predicate anything Islamic to them. Thus, I’ve chosen to refer to the so-called BBC as the so-called BBC simply because I don’t think it’s appropriate to predicate any British values to the so-called BBC machine!)

My position isn’t that relevant. I’ve had several people write me and ask me my thoughts on whether I think IS is Islamic or a perversion. My position is closer to IS warping Islamic teachings but not grossly. I think the difference between true Islam and IS is notable but minor. I wouldn’t want IS to be considered the face of Islam just as I wouldn’t want pagan Christianity like that found in Central America to be the face of Christendom.

November 27th, 2015

Future Truths

by Max Andrews

Sir,

As you are a brilliant supporter of Molinism, I dare send you a question about that doctrine.

I find Molinism quite appealing from a theological point of view, for it reconciles everything in a very elegant manner: freedom, providence, omniscience, etc. But, this marvelous theological solution has a very high philosophical cost (as far as I understand it, of course).

It supposes that God can know the future contingent facts… without any ground to do it!

To know something is to have a justified true belief. Now, there are only two ways to justify a belief about events: either there is a causal relationship (direct or indirect) between the event and one’s mind, or one is able to deduce the realization of the event from the present state of the world (scientific prediction).

But, and that is the problem, according to Molinism, God is supposed to know the future contingent events without predicting them from their causes (which is normal since they are contingent), and without “seeing” them (God doesn’t wait in order to see them, nor cause them, as in Thomistic theory of physical premotion).

Therefore, what is the link between ideas of God about the events and the events themselves? God doesn’t cause the event, and the event doesn’t cause the idea…Whence do these ideas come? I see no solution. The presence of the idea in God seems absolutely inexplicable, absolutely unfounded. Where does the adaequatio rei et intellectus come from in that case? This situation sounds absurd to me. My question is : how can we explain the truth of innate ideas of God about the things that do not exist and are unpredictible from present situation? To say that divine ideas are true “by definition” seems to be a pure assertion…

Thank you for your help!

In Christo,

Frédéric Guillaud (Paris/France)

November 23rd, 2015

Personal and Research Updates

by Max Andrews

Since the site has been down for approximately three months and is slowly getting back up, I’d like to give an update on what has been happening and some changes in the direction of my doctoral research.

Over the last couple years a lot of things have happened but the details will have to remain absent for now. One series of events led to several medical bills from the States needing to be paid. Due to some government policy changes they were moved to the forefront, which required immediate attention and affected much of my financial situation over here. A friend of mine, Alfonso Alvarez created a fundraising page, which completely blew me away.

So many friends and strangers helped me exceed my goal to help with the circumstances. I’m very grateful for everyone who helped. For those who prayed, gave financially, and even gave food, thank you! I’m truly humbled by what happened and it was quite encouraging. To see how a community of like-minded people can come together and help out another person is inspirational. I’ve given ebook copies to all those who helped that wanted them. Some were anonymous and if you’d like to get in touch with me and get your copies, please do.