Archive for ‘Philosophy of Science’

August 13th, 2015

What is a Scientific Explanation?

by Max Andrews

Scientific Explanation

  • If scientific explanation is causal explanation, and causation is law-governed sequence, then it follows that scientific explanations require laws.  However, a problem with this (i.e. the ideal gas law: PV=nRT) is that instead of making things clearer, it threatens to involve the analysis of scientific explanation in a thicket of “metaphysical” issues that several philosophers and positivists sought to avoid.[1] Scientific explanation requires a causal explanation, which requires a law-governed explanation.
  • Natural law describes but does not explain natural phenomena.
    • Consider the use of D-N: Newton’s law of universal gravitation described, but did not explain, what caused gravitational attraction.  Newton claimed that he invented no hypotheses but deduced them from observations produced by rationalistic positivism, which engulfed contemporary European science.  Even though Newton’s law does not explainthe data, it is still scientific but offers no scientific explanation.  Many scientific theories do not offer an explanation by natural law.  Instead, they postulate past regularities to explain presently observed phenomena, which also, in turn, allow for predictive capabilities
  • Our knowledge of cause and effect relationships, which can sometimes formulate as laws, will often guide the inferences that scientists make about what happened in the past and will influence their assessment of the plausibility of competing explanations.
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April 8th, 2015

Explanation, Teleology, and Efficient Causation in Science

by Max Andrews

Inference to the Best Explanation Revisited (Our Method of Inquiry)

  • When using certain theoretical terms, as in the inference to quarks, the epistemic process cannot restrict explanations to only natural or empirical explanations. If one attempts to strip science of all metaphysical import then material causation is the only sufficient form of scientific explanation. However, this has an unnecessary restriction on science and is incongruent with one’s epistemology (if it is to be robust). The robust epistemology certainly accounts for inferential explanations that are not necessarily required to be material. The epistemic methodology may be identical to a non-scientific context but when this methodology is applied in a scientific context then the explanation is ruled out a priori with no [apparent] justification (hence the removal of efficient and final causation from science). Thus, scientific explanations must not necessarily be material explanations. Remember, by using inferential explanations such as quarks and protons we observer their effects and infer as to what the best antecedent causal explanation may be. It’s an issue over the identity of what antecedent causes could be. (In a normal epistemic process the antecedent may be agency).

March 3rd, 2015

Can Laws of Nature Evolve?

by Max Andrews

Given that we live in an evolutionary universe where stars are born from a cosmic dust and the gravitational affects on such dust particles form intense, massive, hot stars and where life can evolve from simplicity to complexity, or so it’s postulated; could the laws of nature evolve as well? It’s an important question. If we say the universe and life evolves does that mean everything can evolve or evolution is only possible with a given consistency of a non-evolutionary framework?

The following are a few questions raised in light of Rupert Sheldrake’s The Science Delusion: Freeing The Spirit Of Enquiry. 

The argument that he advances in the chapter involves something he calls ‘habits’, which are “a kind of memory inherent in nature”. (From what I understand, he has also advanced this within a theory of ‘morphic resonance’ in his other published works.) Putting aside his case for these ‘habits’, three questions that he poses to materialists at the end of the chapter caught my eye:

1) If the laws of nature existed before the Big Bang, and governed the Big Bang from its first instant, where were they?

2) If the laws and constants of nature all came into being at the moment of the Big Bang, how does the universe remember them? Where are they ‘imprinted’?

3) How do you know that the laws of nature are fixed and not evolutionary?

March 2nd, 2015

Kuhn on Scientific Paradigms

by Max Andrews

Thomas Kuhn Scientific RevolutionsKuhn on Scientific Revolutions and Paradigm Shifts

  • Scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one. Paradigms are incommensurable (no common measure—can we really do that and still talk about different models?). (g. planets)
    • “Suddenly the fragments in my head sorted themselves out in a new way, and fell into place together. My jaw dropped, for all at once Aristotle seemed a very good physicist indeed, but of a sort I’d never dreamed possible. Now I can understand why he had said what he’d said, and what his authority had been. Statements that previously seemed egregious mistakes, now seemed at worst near misses within a powerful and generally successful tradition.”[1]
  • When paradigms enter into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defense. (This circularity doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong or ineffectual.)
    • There’s no such thing as paradigm independent data. Interpreting the data is paradigm specific. There is no theory-neutral data. No theory-neutral data ≠ objective knowledge. (Kuhn claimed this criticism was the result of a misunderstanding of him.) He claimed that when a scientific revolution occurs, “The world changes.” (He wanted to apply Scientific Revolutions to the contemporary science of his day but was constantly having to modify his philosophy in responding to critics.)
    • Anomalies: The parallax of the angles between stars and the earth every six months. The lack of difference between angles was thought to show a Ptolemaic universe; however, the Copernican view allowed for this by suggesting that the angles were insignificant to their measurements (technological limitation) because the stars were too far away. Anomalies may also simply be ignored or counted as, simply, irrelevant until they build an undercutting consensus.

February 3rd, 2015

Discovery Institute’s Summer Seminar 2015

by Max Andrews

Discovery Institute Summer Seminar 2015The Discovery Institute’s next summer seminars are from July 10-18, 2015 in Seattle.  I attended the seminar in 2010.  Once you’re labeled as an ID proponent your academic career is potentially slowed down or halted, unfortunately. Thankfully, I haven’t had any problems even though I’m still agnostic in many areas concerning intelligent design. I’ve gone on to become a Philosophy PhD Candidate at the University of Edinburgh and a I teach two classes in the philosophy of science as a tutor (academic freedom is written into my contract and have had great support from people within the university in regards to my research: fine-tuning and the ontology of many worlds scenarios). I’ve already outed myself as it’s not hard to find it in a quick Google search (I’m a philosopher so it’s not as academically persecuted).

I have no negative comments concerning the DI’s seminar.  In fact, I have more respect for the institute and fellows.  There were two concurrent seminars (natural and social sciences [now the CS Lewis Fellows Program]) that interacted with each other on a regular basis and combined on many occasions.

January 13th, 2015

New eBook Release: The Philosophy, Theology, and Science of Molinism

by Max Andrews

Philosophy, Theology, and Science of Molinism AmazonMy newest eBook, book 2 in the series of Molinism eBooks, The Spread of Molinism, is now available for Amazon purchase. I’m very grateful to Ken Keathley, author of Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, for his contribution and foreword to the eBook.

US Store Link:

UK Store Link:

AU Store Link:

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 1.28.12 PMThe aim of my first eBook on Molinism, An Introduction to Molinism: Scripture, Reason, and all that God has Ordered, was intended to ease in those who may be unfamiliar with the major talking points and issues concerning Molinism today. Likewise, it was intended to present Molinism accurately, avoiding misrepresentations or straw-men presentations from non-Molinists. This eBook will be a bit denser and more complicated that the previous book and this will assume that you’ve read An Introduction to Molinism and are, at least, competent in handling and understanding the topic of Molinism.

The aim of this edition in my Molinism eBooks series is to briefly recap some content from the first edition that way you’ll have a greater context for this edition, yet without being overly repetitious. Secondly, I’m going to focus on God and his relationship with creation; that is, understanding, first and foremost, perfect being theology (and deal with the pestering grounding objection—that which never goes away despite its continuous, sound refutation), then natural theology, and theology of nature. This brings us to the next section, which focuses on the theological methodology known as Scientific Theology. Having then established a proper perfect being theology hermeneutic and God’s relationship to nature, I tackle one of the prevailing scientific questions in physics and cosmology/cosmogony: many worlds (also known as the multiverse). Towards our close I discuss a few questions that are often posed to Molinists such as whether or not Molinism actually solves the problem of providence and free will by ultimately making the world deterministic since, after all, he chose which world to create. Lastly, I didn’t want to focus on a Molinist soteriology but I have devoted several pages to discuss John 6 and Romans 9 and the role of God’s “ultimate determination” and compatibilism.

January 2nd, 2015

Legitimate Models for an Infinite-Past Universe

by Max Andrews

The Borde-Guth-Vilenkinb Theorem states that any universe, which has, on average, a rate of expansion greater 0 that system had to have a finite beginning. This would apply in any multiverse scenario as well.  There are four exceptions to the theorem.*

You can listen to the podcast version of this with greater detail via the Eavesdropping Podcast.

Eavesdropping BGV Theorem

December 15th, 2014

VIDEO: The Thomisitic Abductive Cosmological Argument (TACA)

by Max Andrews

November 19-21 was this year’s annual Evangelical Philosophical Society’s conference. I coauthored a paper with Dave Beck of Liberty University. This is the third year in a row I’ve had a paper accepted for presentation at EPS.

Title:  “A New and Abductive Thomistic Cosmological Argument”

Abstract:  Due to advances in cosmology and theoretical physics the origin of the universe is being relentlessly debated. Nevertheless, whether there is one universe or even an infinite plurality of universes, Thomas Aquinas’ argument for the existence of a first cause from contingency circumvents the debate of temporal beginnings to the universe; such as those that are embedded within the kalam cosmological argument. Tensed, tenseless, dynamic, static, endurantist, and perdurantist theories of time will be irrelevant or be peripheral at best. Physical science as a system will always require further explanation, not mere description, and that explanation will always have to appeal to something outside of itself. This is true for any philosophical and/or theological explanation of science. In this paper we will attempt a consilience of Thomas’ argument from contingency and modern cosmology to show that regardless of whether the universe had a temporal beginning, or what the nature of that beginning might have been, it would still be best explained by a first uncaused cause. We will defend Thomas’ notion of radical contingency and argue against a necessitation understanding of Thomas that is often misattributed to him. This metaphysic will be used as a plausible and defensible abductive cosmological argument, which will appeal to the radical contingency of constituents of the universe, and thus take the form of an argument to the best explanation.

September 3rd, 2014

The Podcast Archive

by Max Andrews

I’ve created an archive to store my Eavesdropping podcasts from SoundCloud and have made them available in the Archive Tab just below the site banner. Once I add a podcast I’ll be updating the archive as to not continuously flood the posts with the podcasts as the podcasts are coming out more frequently than the normal posts.

Eavesdropping is the podcast for Sententias. Eavesdropping is a conversational, informal podcast that is sometimes a monologue, or dialogue with guests, on various topics including philosophy, theology, science, contemporary events, and random meanderings of a philosopher. The primary focuses are, of course, philosophy of science, multiverse scenarios, and Molinism. I’m also an American living abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland so listeners will likewise get to hear about the European/British/Scottish experiences.

All content is copyrighted to Max Andrews with and the music for the podcasts have been used with permission by its composer and creator, Sam Andrews, who is studying music at Longwood University in Virginia, USA.

Please consider donating via my PayPal (also the yellow donate button on the right column) to help me continue my research and online presence. I’m always very grateful. Thank you.

For listening on the go, download the SoundCloud App:

Apple SoundCloud App

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Once you’ve downloaded the app from your respective store (free) then go to then open it up, find the search button and search for “Sententias”. Then you’ll find my podcast page and you can subscribe and listen from there an on the go!

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Below is the episode archive:

Eavesdropping Ep 1: AUG 7 2014

Eavesdropping Ep 2: AUG 8 2014 Affirmations & Denials

Eavesdropping Ep 3: AUG 9 2015 Tyler McNabb on Catholicism

Eavesdropping Ep4: Ignorant People are Often Ignorant of Ignorance

Eavesdropping Ep5: Many Worlds and Modal Realism

Eavesdropping Ep6: Advice to Serious Students

Eavesdropping Ep7: What I Think About Police

Eavesdropping Ep8: Beginner Philosophers

Eavesdropping Ep9: Max Baker-Hytch on Culture and Religious Belief

Eavesdropping Ep10: Science and Pseudoscience

Eavesdropping Ep11: Top Ten Movies from a Philosophical Perspective (or Not)

Eavesdropping Ep12: The Quantum Scale

Eavesdropping Ep13: Scientific Theology and Thomas Torrance

Eavesdropping Ep14: The Relationship Between Philosophy And Science

Eavesdropping Ep15: Escaping the Beginning of the Universe

Eavesdropping Ep16: Constructive Empiricism

Eavesdropping Ep17: What’s A Scientific Theory?

Eavesdropping Ep18: My Position On Creation

Eavesdropping Ep19: Top Ten Podcasts for Your Brain

Eavesdropping Ep20: How To Argue For God’s Existence

Eavesdropping Ep21: The New Moral Argument

Eavesdropping Ep22: The Likelihood Principle

Eavesdropping Ep23: Fine Tuning Lecture

August 14th, 2014

Eavesdropping Ep10: Science and Pseudoscience

by Max Andrews

In this episode I discuss criteria for making the demarcation between science and pseudoscience–that is, what we should consider science and non-science. I use an example of “Creation Science” as an example and evaluate whether or not it is scientific.

Full Text:…nd-pseudoscience/

Max Andrews Eavesdropping Podcast Science and Pseudoscience Philosophy