Archive for May, 2012

May 31st, 2012

Free Will vs. Determinism PPT

by Max Andrews

Here is an old lecture PPT defining the differences between soft/hard libertarian freedom and soft/hard determinism.  There are a lot of discussion points in the notes section.  I ususally have a great discussion with the class when I teach this.  So, for you teachers out there, feel free to use this material as you wish and, if anything, I hope it helps grow your knowledge on the subject.  Feel free to follow the sources cited.

Determinism:  Choices are caused by prior decisions
Hard Determinism:  Free will is an illusion
Soft Determinism:  Free will is compatible with determinism
Libertarianism:  Choices originate within persons
Hard Libertarianism:  Persons always have free will
Soft Libertarianism:  Persons have free will at significant times
May 31st, 2012

Are There Objective Morals? Lecture PowerPoint

by Max Andrews

Alas, here is another PPT I’ve used in some of my lectures concerning axiology and the objectivity of moral values.  In this lecture I briefly discuss the deductive form of the moral argument for the existence of God, the distinctions between different ethical theories, and the Euthyphro dilemma.  I hope you find the material beneficial and edifying.  Please follow through on some of the sources cited in the pages and in the notes for further information.

Definitions and distinctions:

Objective:  To say that there are objective moral values is to say that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so.
Subjective:  Personal taste or feelings [which may be of an individual, group, or society].
Good/Bad:  Correlated with moral values
Right/Wrong:  Correlated with moral duties
read more »

May 31st, 2012

Understanding Bayesian Analysis, the Evolution Skeptic’s Friend

by Max Andrews

Reblogged from Stephen A. Batzer and Evolution News and Views

If you’ve followed the ID vs. Darwinism debate at all, you’ve probably come across the term “Bayesian analysis.” This technique is the skeptic’s friend and it can actually be very simple if informally used. Englishman Thomas Bayes was an 18th-Century Presbyterian minister and mathematician. He asserted that it is rational to analyze new data based upon prior knowledge.

This is subjective probability analysis, the opposite of data analysis “in a vacuum.” Here’s a handy example. Many of us recall being asked by our parents, “If everyone were jumping off a bridge, would you do that too?” I don’t think my mother asked me again after I told her, “Almost certainly. There must be a solid reason that everyone is jumping off the bridge. You probably would, too.”

This down-and-dirty analysis isn’t absolutely reliable, but it is cogent and we all use it every day. People commonly make choices in what they believe and do for experiential reasons. Here’s another example; a bad choice is superior to an intolerable choice. In 2001, intelligent, well-educated adults jumped out of skyscrapers to certain death. Why would did they do such a thing? Because jumping was better than burning to death. When they jumped, fuel-fed flames were working inexorably up through the World Trade Center.

May 31st, 2012

Theology Thursday: Kant Part 2

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) on the Person of Christ

More on his theology: The ideal of the perfect human is in one sense innate in all humans.  By living in the cat-imp, the moral reason (faith), we become Sons of God and attain perfection.  Even though never named, Jesus is alluded to and made the obvious choice and is the example we are to live by as he lived the cat-imp perfectly, by adopting moral principles as your own and striving toward perfection.  Jesus is the historical exemplar of the ideal that God has in his mind and is the example of attaining moral perfection.  By regarding as our archetype the Son of God who assumed “sorrows in fullest measure in order to further the world’s good.”  Jesus is the ultimate example of salvation.

May 30th, 2012

“They Would Have Believed…” – A Molinist Exegesis of Matthew 11:20-24

by Max Andrews

I.  Introduction

The Matthean account of Jesus pronouncing judgment on the cities of Choarzin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum may be found in Matthew 11.20-24.  This passage of Scripture contains a historical context of six particular cities that were condemned for their depravity.  The following contains a grammatico-historical examination of the text, which is an example of the doctrine of revelatory judgment applied, a verse often used to support the soteriological problem of evil, and is a problem passage for the doctrine of transworld damnation.  The purpose of Jesus’ pronouncement of judgment on these cities was to convey the depravity of man.

II.  A Grammatico-Historical Exegesis

Before any critical examination of the text can be made a conclusion on the genre must be established.  The book of Matthew is a Gospel, which is a genre in and of itself.  Many studies performed in modern scholarship of the Gospel literature link the Gospels with Hellenistic biography.[1]  Hellenistic biographers did not feel compelled to include all periods of an individual’s life or to narrate in chronological order.  The selected events were carefully ordered to promote a particular ideology.[2]  In slight contrast to Hellenistic biographies, Robert Guelich proposes formal and particular genera for the Gospels:

May 30th, 2012

Cosmological Argument PowerPoint

by Max Andrews

I have an old PPT I’ve been using in my lectures on the cosmological arguments and I thought I’d share it here for others to use since I’ll be revamping them in the meantime.  In this PPT document I discuss the Lebnizian cosmological argument, the Thomistic cosmological argument, and the Kalam cosmological argument.  This was delivered to an introductory level philosophy course so it’s certainly not exhaustive.  Feel free to use any of the material in your teaching opportunities or for your own edification.

Leibnizian Argument:

1.Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2.If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3.The universe exists.
4.Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence. (from 1, 3)
5.Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God. (from 2, 4)
read more »

May 30th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Duhemian Science

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Duhemian Science

Definition: A methodological approach to science that strips data of all religious and metaphysical import.

More on the word:  When considering the criterion of observable evidence I make the distinction between observation and what is empirical.  Something may be observed and qualify as evidence even though it’s not related to material causes.  This is where the distinction between Duhemian science and Augustinian science must be made. I would deny the use of Duhemian science.  This method, or philosophy, has a goal of stripping science from all metaphysical imports.

May 30th, 2012

I’m Presenting a Paper at EPS on God and the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

This November (Wednesday 14 – Friday 16) The Evangelical Philosophical Society is hosting its annual meeting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The conference theme is ‘Caring for Creation.’ David Beck and I have coauthored a paper together titled, “God and the Multiverse,” which has been accepted to be presented at the conference.  We requested to present on Friday but we’ll get that figured out in due time.  You can read the abstract of the paper below.  I hope you’re able to make it to the conference.

Recent developments in quantum physics postulate the existence of some form of multiverse.  We will argue that a cosmology of many worlds is not novel either to philosophy or to theism.  The multiverse is not a monolithic concept and we will refer to and use the four levels of categorization proposed by Max Tegmark.  We will trace the idea of a multiverse back to the pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle in order to initially demonstrate its fit with a concept of God. We then examine the argument for possible compatibility based on a principle of plenitude in three specifically Christian theists: Origen, Thomas Aquinas, and G. W. Leibniz. We conclude that this argument is sustainable so that if any level of the multiverse actually exists then it is harmonious with theism.

Liberty University
W. David Beck and Max Andrews

May 30th, 2012

The Lorentz Transformations

by Max Andrews

The fundamental question raised by these postulates of special relativity is how different coordinate systems (reference frames) are related, i.e., how one transforms between them. (x, y, z, t) denotes the coordinates of some event in frame S, what are the coordinates (x’, y’, z’, t’) in the frame S’ moving at the velocity v relative to S? But first, a clarification on proper time and coordinate time:

Proper time is time measured between events by use of a single clock, where these events occur at the same place as the clock.  It depends not only on the events but also on the motion of the clock between the events.  An accelerated clock will measure a shorter proper  time between two events than a non-accelerated (inertial) clock between the same events.

In standard special relativity, we often want to express results in terms of a spacetime coordinate system relative to an implied observer.  In this case, an event is specified by one time coordinate and three spatial coordinates.  The time measured by the time coordinate is referred to as coordinate time, to distinguish it from proper time.

May 29th, 2012

The Postulates of Special Relativity

by Max Andrews

Albert Einstein felt the strong need to affirm Galilean relativity, which applied only to mechanical laws, that he decided to extend it to include electromagnetic and optical laws.  He adopted the principle that no physical experiment (mechanical, optical, electromagnetic, or any physical law whatsoever) can distinguish between a state of absolute rest and a state of constant velocity.  With the help of the German mathematician Herman Minkowski (who taught us to think in terms of spacetime rather than space and time individually.  Einstein introduced a new principle of relativity and revolutionized mechanics.

There are two postulates of special relativity but the consequences are profound.

  1. Postulate 1 (Principle of Relativity): The laws of nature are the same in all inertial frames.
  2. Postulate 2 (Constancy of the Velocity of Light): The speed of light in empty space is an absolute constant of nature and is independent of the motion of the emitting body.
    read more »