Archive for August, 2012

August 29th, 2012

Hugh Everett’s Dissertation: “The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics”

by Max Andrews

In 1956 Hugh Everett III published his Ph.D. dissertation titled “The Theory of the Universal Wave Function.”  In this paper Everett argued for the relative state formulation of quantum theory and a quantum philosophy, which denied wave collapse.  Initially, this interpretation was highly criticized by the physics community and when Everett visited Niels Bohr in Copenhagen in 1959. Bohr was unimpressed with Everett’s most recent development.[1]

In 1957 Everett coined his theory as the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics.  In an attempt to circumvent the problem of defining the mechanism for the state of collapse, Everett suggested that all orthogonal relative states are equally valid ontologically.[2]  What this means is that all possible states are true and exist simultaneously.

We have a problem of using secondary sources. I’ve provided a link below that takes you back to Everett’s original dissertation to read for ourselves.

August 28th, 2012

The Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence

by Max Andrews

To attribute nihilism to Friedrich Nietzsche’s works would be a complete misunderstanding of his teleology.  Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra is a calling and desire for the übermensch to create a transvaluation of values.  To categorize Nietzsche as a nihilist would be a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his work.

When referring to nihilism there must be an understanding of all that the word entails.  Nihilism refers to nothingness and is a denial of all worldviews.  There are apparent problems with being consistent in rendering a nihilist understanding.  Referring to everything having no meaning renders a meaning of nothingness.  There is no objectivity, knowledge, truth, or virtue.  There is a claim of paradigm-independent referents.  For the advancement of understanding Nietzsche’s teleology, this self-referential incoherence must be set to the periphery.  To discard Nietzsche so quickly in such a manner would be to misunderstand his teleological claims.

Nietzsche’s paradigm for truth was based on biological development.  This, by all admission, was a relativistic understanding and rendition of truth; it was a social construct.  This was in response to the proclamation that “God is dead.”  In the fifth chapter of Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche deduces the implications of stripping God from Christianity [in reference to morality].  Under the Christian paradigm, morality is a command originating from a transcendent source.  Because it is a transcendent command it cannot be criticized, and it is only contingently true given the existence of God and that God is the source of all truth.  This worries Nietzsche because he believes that there is no reason for God to exist any more being that God is only a social construct that was once useful.  As a result, Nietzsche calls for the übermensch.

August 27th, 2012

The Language of God

by Max Andrews

In our experience, intentions get actualized any number of ways[1]: A sculptor by chiseling at stone, musicians by writing notes, engineers by drawing up blueprints. In general, all actualizations of intentions can be realized in language. Precise enough sets of instructions in a natural language can tell the sculptor how to form the statue, musician how to record the notes, and engineer how to draw up blueprints.

Why should an act of speech be God’s mode of creation? Language is the universal medium for actualizing intentions. The language that proceeds from God’s mouth in the act of creation is the divine Logos (Jn. 1.1-5). In the act of creation God the Father speaks the divine Logos in the power of the Holy Spirit. The divine Logos is not just language in the ordinary sense (utterances that convey information), but the very ground and possibility of language. Words need power to accomplish their end and God’s Word has that power (Is. 55.11).

Given that we are made in God’s image, the Trinitarian structure of creation is reflected in human speech.

“The word [goes] out of the mouth of God in such a manner that it likewise ‘[goes] out of the mouth’ of men; for God does not speak openly from heaven, but employs men as his instruments, that by their agency he may make known his will.”[2]

August 23rd, 2012

Theology Thursday: Adolf von Harnack

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930)

More about his theology: Harnack was a German Lutheran theologian. In 1900 he published a series of lectures into a book titled Das Wesen des Christentums (What is Christianity). This was a very important book at the time and still is for contemporary theological studies. In it he reduced Christianity to:

  • God is Father caring for his children whereby things will go well and all are provided for.
  • The idea of providence, there is a rule governing history whereby things will always work out for the good.
  • The human is race is God’s children in relation to God the Father who takes care of them.
  • The universality of these three truths as all of us bear the face of the human family God thus sets forth what we need because we are in the face of our foolishness in order that we would be free.
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August 22nd, 2012

Logos: Eusebius of Caesarea Collection

by Max Andrews

The famed Logos Bible software is releasing a Eusebius of Caesarea Collection and is available for users to bid how much they’d pay on Community Pricing. First of all, if you don’t have Logos you need to seriously consider getting it. Second, if you don’t have Logos you need to just get it. Third, this is a great feature (the Community Pricing) and amazing content.

Eusebius of Caesarea was a Roman historian, exegete, and Christian polemicist. A scholar of the biblical canon, he was appointed bishop of Caesarea in AD 314, and he spent his life writing about the Gospel and church history. In his Ecclesiastical History, he documents and describes the early church, creating a vital record of the Christian community from the Apostolic Age through his own life. In this six-volume collection, you get the compiled wisdom of this post-Apostolic philosopher and documentarian—his his best-known arguments and apologetics at your fingertips with his most well-known writings and apologetics.

August 22nd, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Braneworld

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Braneworld

Definition: The braneworld is a contemporary picture of our universe, which speculates that our visible universe may be confined to a three-dimensional volume which resides in a higher-dimensional space. This picture is motivated by superstring theory and M-theory. Brane is short for ‘membrane,’ the fundamental object of a scenario of the high-energy physics of braneworld (or brane cosmology).

August 21st, 2012

The Magis Center for Reason and Faith

by Max Andrews

A reader of the blog recently contacted me about the Magis Center for Reason and Faith. I’ve since added it to the Resources page. A few years ago I was able to listen to Fr. Robert Spitzer give a presentation on the fine-tuning of physics. (I don’t remember if you can see me in the video but I’m in the house right.) There’s a wonderful resource, the Physics FAQ, which I’ve linked below.

The Magis Center of Reason and Faith is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to explaining the consistency between science and spirituality in contemporary physics. In the past ten years, implications of transcendence in physics, philosophy of mathematics, and metaphysics have become more pronounced. Indeed, no other decade in history has revealed more or better evidence for God. So what is this evidence?

August 20th, 2012

Does Teleology Depend on God?

by Max Andrews

The question then is, must teleology ontologically depend on God?  If objective teleology can obtain in a possible world in which God does not exist it would have to be true that a sense of meaning, value, and purpose, according to Nielsen, is a necessary truth (it is necessary that teleology is intuitively sensed).  These two necessary truths (God exists and teleology obtains) can obtain independent of each other in as long as they are both necessary.  The same would be true if God were contingent since teleology is still necessary, thus relinquishing a foundation for teleology because of its independent necessary existence.

For the proposition, “If God does not exist, then teleology obtains” (~Eg ⊃ Ot) the consequent is necessarily true, by supposition, which, according to the standard semantic of counterfactuals, has the same effect as a necessarily false antecedent, namely, that the conditional is trivially true. However, consider the proposition “If an Anselmian God does not exist, then teleological facts obtain” (~Ea ⊃ Ot). 

August 17th, 2012

The Pursuit of Science is the Pursuit of the Sacred

by Max Andrews

The pursuit of science as a pursuit of the sacred may not be too far-gone since many philosophers and scientists find their meaning, value, and purpose in nature.  Friedrich Nietzsche based his teleology and understanding of truth in biology.  If this universe [or multiverse] is all that exists it seems that this scientific driven teleology may not be sufficient.

Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg provided a self-comforting dialogue in The First Three Minutes suggesting that his own research in the field of physics has provided himself with meaning, value, and purpose.  Paradoxically, he believes that the more he learns about the universe, the lesser of an ultimate meaning it has.[2]

Physicist Victor Stenger seems to agree with Weinberg’s understanding of the purpose as it relates to reality.  In his book, God the Failed Hypothesis, he displays a rather existential reflection when he ponders the universe and reality.  He believes that if God created matter with humanity in mind, then it was not done so for a purpose.[3] 

August 16th, 2012

Theology Thursday: Fyodor Dostoevsky

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)

More about his theology: I understand very few, if anyone, would consider Dostoevsky to be a theologian; however, his philosophy has a tremendous impact on existential theology.

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, a story of four brothers in Russia is a grim description of the reality of what the world would look like if God were not to exist.  One brother, Ivan, an atheist, tells another brother that there are no objective truths, specifically that there are no moral absolutes.  Ivan’s brother then kills his father, an act that obtains no condemnation if God does not exist.

This can be understood as ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ),[1] also known as Karamazov’s Theorem.  It is necessarily true that if God does not exist then any action cannot be wrong.  It may also be true if a conjunct of rightness is inserted into the theorem.  This ultimately leads to moral nihilism—a nonexistence of value.  Without God, everything is permitted.  Nothing can be praised and nothing can be condemned.  This world, as Dostoevsky understands it, is a world of nothingness.