Archive for July, 2012

July 29th, 2012

The Testimony of Johnny Cash

by Max Andrews

July 28th, 2012

Have Hope – Life Beyond Crohn’s

by Max Andrews

My name is Max Andrews and I have Crohn’s disease and have battled with it for eight years. I recently had a major surgery in which I had 15cm of my small intestine, a few inches of my colon, and my appendix removed.

There is no cure for Crohn’s and post-surgery there is usually a 50% chance of remission. Well, I have a 70% chance it will actually get worse and I will have more problems and surgeries down life’s path.

Crohn’s is responsible for the lowest valleys in my life. There were many times when I thought it was over for me and that this was all in vain. What I held on to, which got me through, and still gets me through all this, is hope. Hope that this will all have meaning and purpose to it. Hope is what makes me persevere.

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July 26th, 2012

“It’s Just a Theory” — What’s a Scientific Theory?

by Max Andrews

A theory is distinct from a mere scientific explanation.  Scientific explanation requires a causal explanation, which requires a law-governed explanation.  Natural law describes but does not explain natural phenomena.  Newton’s law of universal gravitation described, but did not explain, what caused gravitational attraction.  Theories unify empirical regularities and describe the underlying process that accounts for these phenomena.  Within theories are axioms, a small set of postulates, which are not proved in the axiom system but assumed to be true.[1]

A theory goes beyond natural laws and scientific explanations in explaining the scientific explanations. A theory refers to a body of explanatory hypotheses for which there is strong support.[2]  Theories are a conjunction of axioms (of the laws of nature) and correspondence of rules specified in a formalized ideal language.  This ideal language is composed of three parts: logical terms, observational terms, and theoretical terms.  The logical terms were initially treated as analytic claims (particularly under the hypothetico-deductive model).  Observational claims were to be unproblematic, understood as referring to incorrigible sense-data and later to publicly available physical objects.  Correspondence rules were used to connect theoretical language to observational claims.[3]

July 26th, 2012

Why Many Worlds Cannot be Dismissed due to a Lack of Experiencing Other Worlds

by Max Andrews

The level three multiverse is particular to a certain interpretation of quantum mechanics being Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation.  It is a mathematically simple model in support of unitary physics.  Everything that can happen in the particle realm actually does happen.  Each of the many worlds following a split represents one of the possible worlds remaining after the event which led to the split. There are no interactions between these worlds. No observer or inhabitant of them will notice anything about the other worlds.

Everett’s interpretation is not impossible due to the fact that we do not experience the continual splitting of our world. Observers would only view their level one multiverse, but the process of decoherence—which mimics wave function collapse while preserving unitary physics—prevents them from seeing the level three parallel copies of themselves.[1] It is no more contradicted by our failure to experience the splitting than the theory that the earth rotates is contradicted by our failure to experience its movement. [2]

[1] Max Tegmark, “The Multiverse Hierarchy,” arXiv:0905.1283v1 (accessed March 15, 2011), 10.

[2] Some of the commentary is summarized by Karl Popper in Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics, ed. W.W. Bartley, III (Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982): 91-2.

July 25th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Unicornex

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Unicornex

Definition: Let a unicorn be a magical horse with a horn protruding from the forehead.  Let a unicornex be an existent unicorn.  No non-existing thing is a unicornex.  So, it’s true by obversion, some existing thing is a unicornex.

More about the term:  Atheist philosopher of religion William Rowe argued that Anselm’s ontological argument (probably) begs the question.  He used the example of a ‘unicorn’ and a ‘unicornex’ to display this charge of circular reasoning. This is what Rowe believes Anselm is  doing by just defining God into existence.

July 25th, 2012

The Big Bang and The Big Crunch

by Max Andrews

The universe was created 13.73 billion years ago.  At about 10-44 seconds after the big bang inflation kicked in and underwent a period of rapid inflation (expansion, this inflation force is thought to be dark energy depicted in Einstein’s lambda term (the cosmological constant) in the right hand side of his field equation describing the energy momentum of the universe.) The cosmological constant is a characteristic of the spacetime fabric of the universe related to its stretching energy (space energy density—commonly referred to as dark energy).  The more the universe expands, the greater this stretching energy becomes.[1]  When the spacetime fabric stretches, the bodies of masses, such as galaxies, move farther apart by the stretching of space.  The cosmological constant is in effect a pulling property that works against gravity.  Since creation, the cosmological constant’s effect has been increasing.

Initial expectations were for the expansion to slow down and for the universe to collapse back in on itself.  For instance, when a ball is tossed in the air its speed slows down and the ball falls to the ground.  If the cosmological constant were applicable on the scale of tossing a ball in the air the ball would not slow down and return to the ground, it would actually increase in speed and move farther away from where it was tossed.  This immediately leads to questions concerning the end of the universe.  Either way, gravity contracts back in on itself or dark energy expands the universe to equilibrium (due to the cosmological constant’s effect), the universe is condemned to eventual futility.  The advent of relativity theory and its application to cosmology altered the shape of the eschatological scenario on the basis of the second law of thermodynamics.  

July 20th, 2012

The Crohn’s Chronicles: One Long Year Later…

by Max Andrews

Today, July 20, 2012, marks the first anniversary of my Crohn’s surgery.  I have had Crohn’s for eight years and it has won the battle over a few organs. I was in serious pain for just over a month prior to the surgery. I spent my birthday last year, July 18, in pain. The next day I was going to go out with some friends to TGI Friday’s for a Jack Daniel’s steak to celebrate my birthday.  I wasn’t feeling well that afternoon and took a nap.  I woke up with a 105 degree fever. Leah rushed me to the hospital. I was not a good patient. I was angry. I refused to take the CT scan at first because I knew what they would find.  I gave in. I didn’t know what they would find. I was wrong. They found that my colon was perforated and I needed emergency surgery. They let my body rest for the night in the ICU. It was a rough night…

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I remember the nurses pushing my bed into the room where they prepped me for surgery. I was, of course, having fun with all the drugs I was on, but I knew what was going on. My Dad and step-mother drove out from Richmond for my surgery. I’m so glad they did. I saw them before going in thinking, “What if this is the last time I see them?” The staff let Leah back in one more time before I went unconscious. She had to hold on my wedding ring while I was in surgery. I remember asking my surgeon how many times he’s done this surgery and he said that my condition was “pretty bad” but that he has done thousands and this sort of thing was his “bread and butter.” I trusted him. These surgeries happen all the time, so why was I so nervous deep down?

Before Leah came back into the prep area to get my ring, I prayed. Even though I was high as a kite on the dilaudid and Valium it was the most serious prayer I ever made. I prayed for the surgeon and that I’d make it out okay. I felt like I couldn’t even pray for no complications. Even if complications happened I didn’t care, I just wanted to come out on the other side. This was the first time I seriously entertained the thought that I might actually die and these are my last few moments awake. Without the surgery I could have easily died in a short period of time, but I didn’t think that was going to happen.  I’ll come back to this in a bit.

July 19th, 2012

Philosophical Terms in German

by Max Andrews


Here is a list of important philosophical terms in German.  Many of these terms you’ll find regularly when you read philosophical literature. I also recommend the BBC’s free language program to help familiarize yourself with the spoken language.


  1. Abfall —a falling away (Goethe)
  2. Aktphänomenologie —act-phenomenology, phenomenology of act (Moritz Alfred Geiger).
  3. Alltag —the everyday. Eugen Fink’s expression.
  4. als ob —as if; used in Forberg’s interpretation of Kantian philosophy, moral duty is to act as if (als ob) a moral order upheld by God existed in the world.
  5. Anerkenntnis —acknowledgement, approbation (Goethe)
  6. Annäherung, die —the approach.
  7. Anschauung —insight
  8. Atheismusstreit —controversy over atheism
  9. Aufklärung—the Enlightenment
  10. Begriffsgeschichte —history of concepts (Gadamer)
  11. Beschreibung —description.
  12. Besonnenheit , prudence, deliberateness, sobriety
  13. das Konkret-Lebendige —the living-concrete (thing): a term used by Romano Guardino to describe the main focus of his philosophy
    read more »

July 18th, 2012

How to Not Give a Presentation

by Max Andrews

Many of you who follow my blog are in academia or, at least, interested in such academic issues.  Michael Hyatt has an excellent post and a humorous video to depict what he means.  As a public speaker myself I regularly teach and lecutre to philosophy classes consisting of 25-250 students (250 is the regular size I teach).  I know every bit of what this video shows.  Some of them, of course, I have done myself and I can’t help but laugh.

July 18th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: String Theory

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: String Theory

Definition: The leading theory of everything, which describes the earliest moments of the universe in which the four fundamental forces of nature (gravity, electromagnetic, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear) were one force. The most fundamental element of reality are cosmic strings, and their vibration determines what particles or forms it takes.

More about the term:  The spontaneous breakdown of symmetries[1] in the early universe can produce linear discontinuities in fields, known as cosmic strings.  Cosmic strings are also common in modern string theories in which the most fundamental reality are astronomically tiny vibrating strings (either closed or open depending on the interpretation of the mathematics).[2]  The combination of the string/scalar landscape with eternal inflation has in turn led to a markedly increased interest in anthropic reasoning.  In this multiverse scenario life will evolve only in very rare regions where the local laws of physics just happen to have the properties needed for life, giving a simple explanation for why the observed universe appears to permit the evolutionary conditions for life.  It is argued that such anthropic reasoning can give the illusion of intelligent design without the need for any intelligent intervention.[3]  There are at least four ways we can understand the different universes described by string landscape.[4]