May 27th, 2013
I did have a few questions in regards to the nature of scientific explanation and furthering (or ‘advancing’, if you prefer) scientific knowledge. Hume had recognized that the problem of induction can not be justified by an inductive rule (that would be circular) or a deductive rule (or else the principle wouldn’t be inductive – we cannot deduce the truth of induction from the axioms of logic). This of course being Hume’s fork.
However, does Karl Popper’s interpretation of scientific methods being deductive (or falsifiable) solve this problem more so than science on the inductive interpretation? In short, Im just curious if we are reasonable in rejecting Hume’s skepticism, but sound in still adhering to science hinging off of induction.
I did a lot of work on this question in my MA thesis. My full answer is a bit long but I hope it’s easy to follow. For the Reader’s Digest version, I’d say that I’m not a fan of deductive arguments and I prefer inductive arguments. (Actually, I love abductive arguments much more but that’s another issue!) I’m very sympathetic to Popper’s criterion of falsifiability but it’s not a necessary condition for science–it’s just preferable. I’ll try to contextualize and elaborate on some of the hidden talking points in your question so some of the readers can follow along.
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April 29th, 2013
The anthropic principle takes two primary forms: the weak (WAP) and the strong (SAP). The WAP is a reflective and happenstantial inquiry: The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirement that the universe be old enough for it to have already done so. The SAP is much more problematic: rather than considering just one universe we envisage an ensemble of possible universes—among which the fundamental constants of nature vary. Sentient beings must find themselves to be located in a universe where the constants of nature (in addition to the spatiotemporal location) are congenial.
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April 28th, 2013
For every particle there is a corresponding symmetric particle. Physics has a translational symmetry, which means that the laws and values of physics are the same at every location in the universe. If an observer were to travel from one point to a much farther distant point the observer we see no change in the physics. A broken symmetry introduces change—a non-absolute uniformity. The breaking of symmetries creates complexity in the laws of nature in the outcome of laws. There’s a symmetry and uniformity between the strong and weak nuclear forces, which have been unified as electromagnetism by James Clerk Maxwell. A typical example of vital symmetry breaking is that which gives rise to the balance between matter and antimatter in the early universe. However, there is an asymmetry between the quantum and the large (a la gravity). String theory is the attempt to unify all of physics.
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April 27th, 2013
The fundamental question raised by these postulates of special relativity is how different coordinate systems (reference frames) are related, i.e., how one transforms between them. (x, y, z, t) denotes the coordinates of some event in frame S, what are the coordinates (x’, y’, z’, t’) in the frame S’ moving at the velocity v relative to S? But first, a clarification on proper time and coordinate time:
Proper time is time measured between events by use of a single clock, where these events occur at the same place as the clock. It depends not only on the events but also on the motion of the clock between the events. An accelerated clock will measure a shorter proper time between two events than a non-accelerated (inertial) clock between the same events.
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April 26th, 2013
In 1865 James Clerk Maxwell had unified electricity and magnetism by developing his equations of electromagnetism. It was soon realized that these equations supported wave-like solutions in a region free of electrical charges or currents, otherwise known as vacuums. Later experiments identified light as having electromagnetic properties and Maxwell’s equations predicted that light waves should propagate at a finite speed c (about 300,000 km/s). With his Newtonian ideas of absolute space and time firmly entrenched, most physicists thought that this speed was correct only in one special frame, absolute rest, and it was thought that electromagnetic waves were supported by an unseen medium called the ether, which is at rest in this frame.
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March 20th, 2013
I attended the Discovery Institute’s Summer Seminar on Intelligent Design (Social Science) in 2010. My thoughts and comments will be general since we were asked not release specifics concerning information being shared (some of it was yet-to-be published and I don’t know if it has been published yet so I’ll remain silent) and I do not want to “out” any other attendees in their academic endeavors. Once you’re labeled as an ID proponent your academic career is potentially slowed down or halted. I’ve already outed myself and I’m pretty vocal about my advocacy of design (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) that interacted with each other on a regular basis and combined on many occasions. I participated in the social science seminar and being philosophy graduate student I’m not as adept in biology, chemistry, and physics as many others are. I certainly received a welcoming abundance of science in presentations, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Some of the lecturers included Stephen Meyer, Michael Behe, William Dembski, Doug Axe, Jay Richards, Jonathan Wells, Richard Sternberg, Ann Gauger, Bruce Gordon, Jonathan Witt, John West, and Casey Luskin.
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March 18th, 2013
My name is Chad Gross and I am the director of Truthbomb Apologetics. Brian Auten of Apologetics315 recommended that I email you with a question that I have.
My question deals with gravity and whether or not it is immaterial. It seems to me that gravity is not composed of matter and/or energy; therefore, it is immaterial. However, when interacting with an unbeliever on the topic on this post and he said the following:
“Without mass there would be no gravity, right? It’s true that gravity itself isn’t made of atoms, but you must admit that the material world is more than just particles. Einstein showed that matter and energy are equivalent and can transform into each other. When I talk about something being material, therefore, I’m thinking of both matter and energy.
It’s true again that gravity might not be a form of energy, since it’s just a force. Maybe gravity arises due to the nature of space and time. But without matter, there would be no space and time. So I think it’s uncontroversial to consider the physical forces to be “material.”
When I think of things that are not material, I’m thinking of spirit, or soul. God isn’t made of matter or energy, and God would still exist even without any matter or energy, right?”
Now, I realize gravity is not immaterial in the same way that moral judgments, mathematics, logic, etc. Here is my reply to him:
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