Archive for ‘Philosophy of Science’

April 17th, 2014

Q&A 41: Doubt and the Gospel

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Hello Max Andrews, 
My name is David Hernandez and I’m a young minister with interest in theology and a keen interest in philosophy. First, I’d like to thank you for your website, it’s been a great help in understanding. 
First, I’d like to talk to you about doubt. I’ve doubted for a long time. Not that I haven’t heard the arguments or atheism convinces me. It really doesn’t. But every now and then, I doubt a lot. I’m getting quite tired of it. I feel it hard to talk to an atheist for many of their arguments make me doubt. Some of them are stupid but I think, what if it’s true? Maybe it’s emotional. 
Also, would you suggest any book for beginners in apologetics, philosophy of religion, and natural theology. I have a great interest though i feel God wants me to be a minister, particularly an evangelist (missionary most likely.) 
Also, what’s the relationship between metaphysics and the physical universe? I’m not understanding exactly what the cosmological arguments are trying to say.
Also what can you say in taking the gospel to atheists? It is quite difficult. I find like that but sometimes these arguments don’t work in convincing them. I guess it must be appealing to head and heart. To me they become the most difficult to bring the gospel too. Maybe it’s just I feel that way since it’s really the only worldview that challenges mine. Idk well if you answer this email thank you so much. God Bless.

April 6th, 2014

Discovery of quantum vibrations in ‘microtubules’ inside brain neurons supports controversial theory of consciousness

by Max Andrews

The pre-Socratics have a habit of coming back to the moderns and contemporaries and saying, “I told you so.” This is something Dave Beck and I argue in regards to the multiverse (or many worlds) in a forthcoming paper in Philosophia Christi this summer. Could it be the case that Democritus was right about mind being in the finer atoms?

SourceScience Daily

Summary: A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale activities inside brain neurons. The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in “microtubules” inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations, and that from a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions.

April 2nd, 2014

A List of Physical Values and What Happens When Changed

by Max Andrews

Constants of Space and Time.

  1. Planck length (the minimum interval of space), l= 1.62 x 10-33 cm.
  2. Planck time (the minimum interval of time), tp = 5.39 x 10-44 sec.
  3. Planck’s constant (this determines the minimum unit of energy emission), h = 6.6 x 10-34 joule seconds.
  4. Velocity of light, c = 300,000 km/sec.

Energy Constants.

  1. Gravitational attraction constant, G = 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/kg2.
  2. Weak force coupling constant, gw = 1.43 x 10-62.
  3. Strong nuclear force coupling constant, gs = 15.

Individuating Constants (Composition of the Electromagnetic Force).

  1. Rest mass of a proton, mp =1.67 x 10-27 kg.
  2. Rest mass of an electron, me = 9.11 x 10-31 kg.
  3. The electron or proton unit charge, e = 1.6 x 10-19 coulombs.
  4. Minimum mass in our universe, (hc/G)½ = 2.18 x 10-8 kg.
    read more »

February 9th, 2014

Q&A 38: The Infinite Set of You in the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Question

Dear Mr. Andrews,

I came upon your blog and I shall spend the better part of the night reading it, and I have a few questions about the multiverse that I don’t understand.

First off, why is it inevitable that some parallel universes would be identical to this one? Why would there be another me, identical down to each thought, instead of endlessly unique ones? That is to say, why would there be an infinite number of universes but only a finite variety of patterns?

Also, would endlessly different ones render the fantastic real? Unicorns and Greek gods roaming universes of their own?

Or have I missed what MWI supporters are trying to say?

Also, if the multiverse allows for at least a few super civilizations to exist, so powerful that they can create their own universes or cross others, then wouldn’t they essentially function as gods, albeit not our eternal one?

Thank you so much, and Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Katy Meyrick

February 3rd, 2014

Max Tegmark and The Fluke Explanation for Life

by Max Andrews

our mathematical universe tegmarkI’m reading Max Tegmark’s newest and only book Our Mathematical Universe, which I will be reviewing for an academic journal. I wanted to share, as much as I could without copyright infringement an amazing point on the issues of fine-tuning in the most broad sense of the word (the existence of a universe that permits the existence of life).

 So what are we to make of this fine-tuning? First of all, why can’t we just dismiss it all as a bunch of fluke coincidences? Because the scientific method doesn’t tolerate unexplained coincidences saying, “My theory requires an unexplained coincidence to agree with observation.” For Example, we’ve seen how inflation predicts that space is flat and the spots in the cosmic microwave background should have an average size around a degree, and that the experiments…. confirmed this… Suppose the Planck team observed [something else being] much smaller average spy size, prompting them to announce that they’d ruled out inflation with 99.999% confidence. This would mean that random fluctuations in a flat universe could [author's emphasis] have caused spots to appear as unusually small as they measured, tricking them into an incorrect conclusion, but what with 99.999% probability this wouldn’t happen? In other words, inflation  would require a 1 – in – 100,000 unexplained coincidence in order to agree with the measurement…

January 15th, 2014

The Affirmations and Denials Directory

by Max Andrews

I’ve decided to make a referent post that outlines my position on many things philosophical, theological, scientific, biblical, and other. I have many similar directories: Molinism, Multiverse, Philosophy of Science, Epistemology, and the Origins Directory.

Ontological Basics

  1. Ontological Status. Existent
  2. Necessary. No
  3. Contingent. Yes
  4. Person. Yes
  5. Organic. Yes
  6. Faculty of Will. Incompatibilist (although all we need is that flicker of freedom).
  7. Personhood. Cartesian Substance Dualist, leaning Hasker’s emergentism.

Bible & Theology

  1. Theology. Theist
  2. Religion. Christian
  3. Trinity: Social Trinitarian
  4. Denomination. Associate Reformed Presbyterian (Don’t ask me how that happened…)
  5. Catholic. No. Some Catholic Dogma is contrary to what I understand the gospel to be. Some Catholics love Jesus and are saved as well, though in spite of the Catholic teaching.
  6. Eastern-Orthodoxy. No. See above.
  7. Middle Knolwedge. Yes
  8. Molinist. Yes.
  9. Soteriology. A Molinist Model
    read more »

January 7th, 2014

Abstract for an Upcoming Paper Developing my Model of Modal Realism

by Max Andrews

I’ve recently submitted an abstract for Glasgow University’s Philosophy of Religion Conference concerning my recent research of the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics along with my secondary research of its theological implications. I won’t find out for for another week or two as to whether it has been accepted but my hopes are high. Here’s my abstract:

The Ontology of Many Worlds and
Thomistic Modal Realism

Abstract: Hugh Everett’s Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum physics (MWI) has caused perturbations in the fields of physics and philosophy. There are many aspects about the interpretation that make it favorable due to its objectivity and lack of logical holes. If MWI is adopted due to its favorability then this creates a problem for understanding macro-states. If it’s true that all-possible states are true and exist simultaneously then defining the mechanism, which causes these ‘splits’ and how these ‘splits’ and branches operate, are problematic on the macro-scale. The question becomes, “How does this work on the macro-level?” In order to construct an argument that traces the historical development to propose a preferred understanding for the macro-ontology I will discuss

December 20th, 2013

Science without Epistemology is Impossible

by Max Andrews

A robust epistemology is a sufficient condition for a successful pursuit of scientific inquiry.  There are many other factors and conditions that must be met for science but a vigorous epistemic model for how one pursues scientific inquiry is needed; otherwise, there may be sufficient reasons to doubt not only the conclusions of the scientific inquiry but as well as the pool of data, which must be assessed appropriately.  The scientist is more than welcome to pursue an empiricist model for his epistemology, though strict [naturalistic] empiricism is not very robust, but it must have certain allowances for metaphysical import—perhaps more rationalistic.

I believe the best way to construct a robust epistemology and scientific method is to be a realist.  What I mean by this is that the external reality is how it appears to be to an observer making an epistemic inquiry, the measurements from science accurately depicts reality.  This is in contrast to instrumentalism/anti-realism, which suggests that our inquiry of the world, scientifically, do not accurately depict reality but as useful fictions.  An instrumentalist is more concerned about data fitting theories and predictions than with an accurate depiction of reality.

For the scientific realist, the ontology of the world determines one’s epistemology.  They congruently correspond.  It is important to note the order of entailment.  Antecedently, reality determines our epistemology. 

December 14th, 2013

Is Constructive Empiricism a Viable Option between Realism and Anti-Realism?

by Max Andrews

Constructive empiricism (CE), primarily developed by Bas van Fraassen, regards theoretical identities rather than realistically. CE allows an empiricist approach to science without requiring the language and formulation of theory that the positivist uses.  When one affirms accepts CE one must believe what the theory says about observables, that is, one must believe that the theory is empirically adequate; but one does not have to believe the whole theory, including what it says about unobservables.  Van Fraassen argues that science can be understood without the strong realist approach.  Science’s aim becomes set on empirical adequacy rather than the full-blown truth.[1]

Van Fraassen defines an ‘observable’ as:

X is observable if there are circumstances such that, if X is present to us under those circumstances then we observe it.[2]

That which serves as an observation is not necessarily in the scope of philosophy.  The limits of observation are a subject for empirical science, and not for philosophical analysis.[3] Thus, a theory is empirically adequate if and only if what it says about the observable things and events in this world is true.

Empiricism set limits on what one is rationally obligated to believe.  Van Fraassen makes the distinction between acceptance and belief.  There is no commitment, under CE, to believe the truth of the theory but one can accept the empirical data.  This is very modest in its commitment to the informative power of a theory. 

December 12th, 2013

“The Suitability of Aristotelian Metaphysics for Theism” EPS 2013 Paper

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 11.52.42 AMI recently coauthored a paper with Dave Beck (Liberty University, Department of Philosophy): “The Suitability of Aristotelian Metaphysics for Theism”  presented at the Evangelical Philosophical Society in Baltimore, MD (November 2013). We primarily focus on critiques of Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics offered by Richard Swinburne and Lydia Jaeger. Dave primary contribution was the body-soul discussion and I focussed on Christian thought and science and our Thomistic cosmological argument. This version of the argument is something that we’ve developed over the last year or two. He also worked with my contributions as well. It was a mixed and shared effort by both of us.

Swinburne actually sat in and listened to the presentation. Afterwards, he said the critiques were fair and accurate. Likewise, he agreed that Jaeger should be read and discussed more in Christian philosophy/theology and liked our critique of her as well. He has since offered for us to send him our paper so he can review and critique it. That is certainly an honor and privilege. We haven’t finalized plans for a journal submission but I suspect we may plan to do that in the near future.

Here is our introduction to the paper:

Not just a few current philosophers and theologians have asserted that the metaphysics of Aristotle, even after it was transformed and adapted by Thomas Aquinas, will not meet any or all the requirements of a robust Christian Theism. There is nothing new about that. Both among the Patristics and the Medievals were those who for various reasons rejected Peripatetic metaphysics, primarily for its alleged physicalism. Of course the Condemnations of 1277 didn’t help things either. While directed principally against Averroistic Aristotelianism that was infecting the University of Paris, 20 of the 219 condemned theses were Thomistic. Nevertheless, Thomas would prevail, not only to sainthood, but to become the patron of education and the Teacher of the Church.