Archive for October, 2012

October 28th, 2012

Religion Soup: Mike Licona Debates Dale Martin on the Resurrection

by Max Andrews

Recently, Dr. Michael Licona (Houston Baptist University) spent time in Canada debating Yale professor Dr. Dale Martin on questions concerning the resurrection and self-understanding of Jesus. Below are links to the videos.

“Did Jesus Rise Physically From the Dead?”

Dr. Michael Licona and Dr. Dale Martin discuss the question “Did Jesus Physically Rise From the Dead?” The first evening of the 2012 Religion Soup discussion took place Oct 18, 2012 at St. Mary’s University.
www.religionsoup.ca

October 25th, 2012

Virginia Tech Debate on the Existence of God Audio Available

by Max Andrews

Below is the link for the audio of the VT debate on the existence of God I was a part of earlier this year.

Debate Audio

Also, for more information and my take on the debate you can view the video and comments through the link below.

Debate Video/Information

October 24th, 2012

Hugh Everett and the Many Worlds Interpretation

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 (MWI) 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. An orthogonal state is one that is mutually exclusive.  A system cannot be in two orthogonal states at the same time.  As a result of the measurement interaction, the states of the observer have evolved into exclusive states precisely linked to the results of the measurement.  At the end of the measurement process the state of the observer is the sum of eigenstate—or a combination of the sums of eigenstates, one sum for each possible value of the eigenvalue.  Each sum is the relative state of the observer given the value of the eigenvalue [2].  What this means is that all-possible states are true and exist simultaneously.

October 23rd, 2012

Karl Popper on the Many Worlds Interpretation

by Max Andrews

In a brief section of Karl Popper’s Quantum Theory and the Schism in Physics[1] he discusses his attraction to the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics as well as the reason for his rejection of it. Popper is actually quite pleased with Everett’s three-fold contribution to the field of quantum physics. Despite his attraction to the interpretation he rejects it based on the falsifiability of the symmetry behind the Schrödinger equation.

Popper’s model allows for a theory to be scientific prior to supported evidence.  There is no positive case for purporting a theory under his model. There can only be a negative case to falsify it and as long as it may be potentially falsified it is scientific.  Thus, a scientific theory could have no evidence or substantiated facts to provide good reasons for why it may be true. What makes this discussion of MWI interesting is that despite Popper’s attraction to MWI it’s not the attraction that makes it scientific, it’s his criterion of falsification.

In favor of MWI:

  1. The MWI is completely objective in its discussion of quantum mechanics.
  2. Everett removes the need and occasion to distinguish between ‘classical’ physical systems, like the measurement apparatus, and quantum mechanical systems, like elementary particles.  All systems are quantum (including the universe as a whole).
  3. Everett shows that the collapse of the state vector, something originally thought to be outside of Schrödinger’s theory, can be shown to arise within the universal [Schrödinger] wave function.
    read more »

October 21st, 2012

Jephthah’s Moral Dilemma and Deontology

by Max Andrews

In the book of Judges, Jephthah serves as the ninth judge, or deliverer, who makes a bold vow to God (See Judges 11.29-40).  Jephthah makes a conditional deal with God; if he gets something, then and only then will he do something for God in return.  Upon his decision to barter with God, his tragic vow turns into a moral dilemma where he must either sacrifice his daughter or break his vow.  Each option carries with it further consequences.  Given Jephthah’s moral dilemma, he must choose an available option with varying costs.  Once his choice to sacrifice his daughter has been completed, he still stands in a morally condemning state.  Upon examining the ethics of the situation via historical context, textual interpretation, and the theological significances, may one see the dilemma and all the possible consequences, how it could have been avoided, and how it applies to believers today.

The Ammonites oppressed the Israelite tribes east of the Jordan River for an eighteen-year period (Judg. 10.8).  This may help qualify the date for the events.  The conquest of the Transjordan occurred in 1406, forty years after the exodus, so Jephthah’s communication to the Ammonites must be dated close to 1106.  Since the oppression lasted for eighteen years, that puts the oppression beginning at 1124.[1]

October 18th, 2012

The Epistemology Directory

by Max Andrews
Below is a collection of all my blog posts specifically related to epistemology.
  1. My Evidentialist Epistemology
  2. Onto-Relationships and Epistemology
  3. Why Plantinga’s Warrant Cannot Circumvent the Gettier Problem
  4. A General Rule for Gettier Cases
  5. Empiricism and Being in the Right Phenomenological Frame of Mind
  6. Meet Philosopher Linda Zagzebski
  7. The Connection Between Phenomenology and Existentialism
  8. A Response to Alvin Plantinga’s “The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology”
  9. Alex Rosenberg on Whether Philosophy Emerges from Science
  10. Steven Wykstra’s “Toward a Sensible Evidentialism: ‘On the Notion of Needing Evidence.'”
  11. Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Epistemology
  12. New Paper: “Epistemological Scientific Realism and the Onto-Relationship of Inferentially Justified and Non-Inferentially Justified Beliefs”
    read more »

October 18th, 2012

Ten Female Philosophers Who Should Be Studied More

by Max Andrews

Tullia d’Aragona

Hypatia of Alexandria, Hildegard von Bingen, Simone de Beauvoir, and Ayn Rand all enjoy comparative rock star status when it comes to women in the traditionally male-dominated philosophy sphere. But they definitely aren’t the only names when it comes to eking out a place for ladyfolk amongst practitioners. While the following female philosophers boast varying levels of popularity in the classroom, they still offer some amazing ideologies to contemplate, either for class or during personal inquiry. Use them as a starter kit to exploring even more women philosophers who deserve recognition.

  1. Themistoclea:

    One of Delphi’s priestesses earned historical cred as the alleged mentor of no less than Pythagoras himself! The Suda even claims she may have been his sister as well, though no evidence exists either supporting or disproving the statement. Little is known about Themistoclea, though the first mention as the seminal mathematician and philosopher’s educator comes from Diogenes Laertius’ Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. He talks of her as the one responsible for inspiring Pythagoras’ “moral doctrines,” though he doesn’t comment further on the priestess’ life. In this instance, students would peer more into Themistoclea’s overarching influence through time rather than the woman herself.

  2. Arete of Cyrene:

    Historians and philosophers debate over whether Arete of Cyrene’s father or son established the Cyrenaic school, though it’s entirely possible she herself may have done so and cultural mores pushed for a more patriarchal tale. This philosophy espoused hedonistic pleasures and the pursuit of the positive and avoidance of the negative. Legend has it the influential Arete of Cyrene spent 35 years as an educator and wrote more than 40 books, focusing largely on morals and earning the acclaim of her contemporaries.

October 18th, 2012

The Fine-Tuning of the Multiverse Audio Lecture

by Max Andrews

In honor of today’s lecture on fine-tuning and the multiverse I recorded the lecture and I’m posting it online here. I hope you enjoy it and make good use of it.

Audio lecture from 18 October 2012.

The fine-tuning argument argues that when the physics and the laws of nature are expressed mathematically their values are ever so balanced in a way that permits the existence of life.  This claim is made on the basis that existence of vital substances such as carbon, and the properties of objects such as stable long-lived stars, depend rather sensitively on the values of certain physical parameters, and on the cosmological initial conditions.[1]  I’m merely arguing that the universe/multiverse is fine-tuned for the essential building blocks and environments that life requires for cosmic and biological evolution to even occur.

  1. Given the fine-tuning evidence, a life permitting universe/multiverse (LPM) is very, very epistemically unlikely under the non-existence of a fine-tuner (~FT): that is, P(LPM|~FT & k’) ≪ 1.
  2. Given the fine-tuning evidence, LPM is not unlikely under FT (Fine-Tuner): that is, ~P(LPM|FT & k’) ≪ 1.
  3. Therefore, LPM strongly supports FT over ~FT. [2]

*Remember, k’ represents some appropriately chosen background information that does not include other arguments for the existence of God while merely k would encompass all background information, which would include the other arguments, and ≪ represents much, much less than (thus, making P(LPM|~FT & k’) close to zero).

October 18th, 2012

Research Funding

by Max Andrews

I am currently completing my MA in Philosophy and have been accepted to the University of Edinburgh’s PhD in Philosophy program. I’ve also applied to Oxford and Cambridge but won’t find out if I’ve been accepted for quite a while. My research is in the fine-tuning of nomic behavior in multiverse scenarios.

My wife and I will need to move to Edinburgh, Scotland next summer (2013). We are graciously seeking funds and donation from anyone who believes in the potential impact my research will have for philosophy, science, and theology. We have faced several trials with my Crohn’s disease, which hasn’t put us in a financial advantage for this endeavor. We need about $18,000 for the student visa application process and additional funding for tuition, travel, and setting up a new home. We’ll eventually need much more than what we are requesting here but we are hoping to work hard and earn as much money as we can to make it.

I would love to speak with anyone interested in helping us fund my PhD and contribute to academia. If you or anyone else know of anyone willing to help or even other programs or organizations that would be interested please let me know. There’s so much more I would love to discuss so please contact me at mlandrews@sententias.org. You can view my CV and present research at http://sententias.org/cv/. Thank you for your consideration. Anything would be a tremendous blessing.
October 15th, 2012

What is This Thing Called String Theory?

by Max Andrews

We’ve all probably heard of string theory. I’ve seen specials devoted to it on PBS, it in major science and philosophy books/papers, dialogues with skeptics, and even in [the greatest film of all time… ever] Good Will Hunting. It’s a very complex and confusing field of research. My hope is that my summation here will help give a introductory grasp of the material.

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.