Archive for June, 2012

June 29th, 2012

Neo-Darwinism

by Max Andrews

Evolution has many meanings.

  • Change over time
    • Evolution of the cosmos
    • Evolution of living things
    • Evolution of culture, technology, etc.
  • Changes within existing species
    • Morphological (anatomical)
    • Genetic (change in gene frequencies)
  • Common ancestry
    • Within a species
    • Descent of all species from a common ancestor
  • Darwinian evolution

Darwinism: Descent with modification through unguided processes

  • Descent:  “I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long ago.”
  • Modification:  “The preservation of favorable individual differences of variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious (natural selection).”
  • Unguided processes:  “There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the wind blows. So I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of chance.”
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June 29th, 2012

If the Big Bang was so Dense then Why Wasn’t it a Black Hole?

by Max Andrews

If the big bang was so dense then how come it wasn’t a black hole?

Think of it as a black hole backwards. At the moment of the big bang there was, what we now know as, the cosmological constant–dark energy which drives the expansion or inflation of the universe.  Without this force there would be no expansion.  Understanding this question will help us understand how the universe will end. We have three options for a physical eschatological scenario to occur. 1) Gravity will overcome the expanding force and the universe will collapse back in on itself creating an intense heat death. 3) If the force keeps expanding forever then there will be a thermodynamic equilibrium and there will be a maximal stretching and a cold death. 3) Or, there will be a big rip in which the force expands so fast that it continually rips the whole universe apart.

June 28th, 2012

Theology Thursday: Friedrich Schleiermacher Part 2

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768 – 1834) on his theological method

More on his theology: Schleiermacher’s theological method was to examine those feelings (see his concept of religion for a greater context). This made the nature of religion to be a non-thinking endeavor (scientific approach was eliminated by Immanuel Kant).  Here he is attacking the historic Christian position that theology is a science.  Also, the religious nature is not ethics (acting morally) either; rather, it is feeling which works its way out in the absolute dependence.  The absolute dependence is the a priori form of the self-conciousness that then works its way out from feelings.

Friedrich Schleiermacher’s theological method is based upon human religious experience. According to Schleiermacher, all human beings are subject to a feeling of dependency upon Someone or Something Greater. This feeling of absolute dependency is universal among all mankind, and is the essence of true religion. For Schleiermacher, religion is rooted in our experience as human beings, in how we feel about God, in our individual emotive response to God.

June 27th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Monad

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Mondad

Definition: The one and only substance, which composes existence

More about the term: The big problem for Leibniz was, mathematically, if something takes up a finite amount of space then it must be divisible.  This was the infinite divisibility of matter (DM, Sec. 9, lines 6-9).  Why is this a problem? Because he’s trying to solve the question, “What is substance?” Sub+stans, that which stands underneath. This is where he gets the word monad, mono-, one, unity.  A monad must have these qualities:

  • Cannot be divided any further
  • Does not have parts
  • Not material, but rather more like a soul
  • According to Leibniz, they are a spritual substance
  • Infinite number of them
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June 26th, 2012

The Multiverse, Fine-Tuning, and Nomic Probabilities

by Max Andrews

Whenever probability is being considered there must be some type of relevant or total background information (usually depicted as k).  The immediate objection when applying a probability rule or calculus to the fine-tuning of the universe in a multiverse scenario would be to say that this is universe is not an appropriate random sampling.  In other words, if we know of [at least] only one universe with these values the random sample size is precisely 1; thus, no random sample can be used to assess the probability of certain values of physics in the argument.  In statistics a random sample drawn must have the same chance of being sampled as all the other samples.  Since we know of only one universe we do not know what the range of values for the constants and physics could be.  Additionally, since we don’t know how narrow or broad these ranges could be there’s no way of drawing out any probability based argument for fine-tuning.  However, we can know what other universes would be like if the values were different.  If our natural laws have counterfactuals that are in any way incoherent then this is an appropriate sampling.  Also, to make this objection and advocate that we just so happen to live in a life permitting universe in the multiverse then this objection cannot be made since the claim that we happen to life in a life-permitting one amongst countless others suggest we can know what the other samplings are.

June 26th, 2012

The New Creation–What’s Next?

by Max Andrews

We cannot imagine what is going to come next.  [God] has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from the beginning to end (Ecc. 3.11).  No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2.9).  Stretch your mind and strain your eyes to build a sustaining hope.

HOPE is the theme to the new creation.  The creation waits with eager (αποδεχομαι) longing (Rom. 8.19). αποδεχομαι [apodexomai] refers to an anxious, yet careful and patient waiting–a reservation of knowing something is coming but continuing in patience.  Hope that creation will be set free from corruption to bring glory to the children of God (Rom. 8.20-21).  We wait eagerly for the redemption of our bodies, we groan inwardly for the hope that we were saved by (Rom. 8.23-24).  The new creation is unique–hope that is seen is not hope (Rom. 8.24-25).

So, where is heaven and hell? Heaven and hell are physical and not just spiritual.  There is a resurrection of believers (1 Cor. 15) and a resurrection of unbelievers (Dan. 12.2; Rev. 20).  Heaven and hell continue to exist after this creation.  The Bible clarifies that heaven and hell continue after the moment God commands the cosmos to be “rolled up like a scroll” (Is. 34.4), to “disappear with a roar” (2 Pt. 3.10), and to “melt in the heat” (2 Pt. 3.12).  This of it this way: suppose I have a paper with the image of Dante’s universe on it.  It’s two dimensional (for the analogy to work I need to remove a dimension). If I crumble up the piece of paper the external dimensions where I am do not crumble up too.  I can crumble the paper with those dimensions and still not be affected by it.

June 25th, 2012

New Paper: “Do Multiverse Scenarios Solve the Problem of Fine-Tuning?”

by Max Andrews

I have a new paper in moderation at arXiv. The two papers below are currently listed there:

  • “Epistemological-Scientific Realism and the Onto-Relationship of Inferentially Justified and Non-Inferentially Justified Beliefs,”arXiv: 1205.2896 (May 2012)
  • “Albert Einstein and Scientific Theology,” arXiv: 1205.4278 (May 2012).

Abstract:

The multiverse hypothesis is the leading alternative to the competing fine-tuning hypothesis. The multiverse dispels many aspects of the fine-tuning argument by suggesting that there are different initial conditions in each universe, varying constants of physics, and the laws of nature lose their known arbitrary values; thus, making the previous single-universe argument from fine-tuning incredibly weak. There are four options for why a fine-tuning is either unnecessary to invoke or illusory if the multiverse hypothesis is used as an alternative explanans. Fine-tuning might be (1) illusory if life could adapt to very different conditions or if values of constants could compensate each other. 

June 25th, 2012

The Real Barrier to Unguided Human Evolution

by Max Andrews

Reblogged from Ann Gauger.

Comparing DNA sequences and estimating by how many nucleotides we differ from chimps doesn’t tell us much about what makes us human. Many of those nucleotide differences have no effect, because they are the product of neutral mutation and genetic drift. While these neutral mutations may affect the over-all mutation count, they don’t answer how many mutations are required for the transition from chimp-like to human.

This problem is analogous to one we examined concerning protein evolution last year in the journal BIO-Complexity (Gauger and Axe 2011). Converting one protein to another’s function can be viewed as a version, in miniature, of converting one species to another. But it is much easier to convert proteins than species.

June 25th, 2012

So, You Think You Know God?

by Max Andrews

Just because you’ve read the Bible do you think that you know God?  You could probably predict what Hebrew word was used for a specific word based on the context… but you’ve never felt the passion behind David’s imprecatory prayers and the prayers of suffering.  You can parse every Greek word Paul uses in the book of Romans… but you’ve never felt the riddance and self-betrayal like he felt in chapter seven.

You can tell me how to encourage someone or what to do when counseling a depressed friend… but you can’t put yourself in his mind and ask yourself what it’s like to be him. You equate by analogy.  You can tell me how much you love your neighbor… but you condition it.  You can tell me how much God loves you… but you can’t understand the death of God and his spiritual and physical anguish as he passed from death to new life with you in mind.

You can quote Scripture, Ephesians 6 and the psalms, describing spiritual warfare and what to do… but you’ve never resisted sin to the point of blood.  You can quote theological works that systematically define God and who he is… but you’ve never experienced what it’s like to align planets and create stars, to watch you spit on his creation and cross, the gifts he gave for you for the very reason of your anticipated existence.

June 22nd, 2012

The Flowchart of Objections to Intelligent Design

by Max Andrews