On the 2 of July I presented my response paper, “Time and Tide Wait for no Choice: A Response to Emily Paul”, at Tyndale’s conference at Cambridge University. There’s no audio of Emily Paul’s reading but below is a link to her paper.
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.
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?
Would you be interested in putting together a blog response to this?
I recently listened to a paper on this topic whilst at the Tyndale Conference in Cambridge in July. Although the presenter was approaching this issue of cultural contingency of religion (or God being a “cultural chauvinist”) from a Reformed Epistemologist perspective. The paper is titled “Religious diversity and epistemic luck” by Max Baker-Hytch (PhD Philosophy, Oxford) and was published in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. For a more serious response and approach to the issue please check out Max’s article.
My response, I think, doesn’t let the atheist’s argument to get off the ground. The whole argument in moot, in my opinion. I think Max [Baker-Hytch] is much more charitable, which is needed on certain points.
Before I get to my quick and simple response I wanted to offer a brief commentary on a few irks about the video. At one point a “theist” (even the video maker didn’t get this one right–Hinduism is polytheistic–close but off by a few million). I find it hard not to think that this category error was intentional just to add to the confusion and bickering amongst the theists. It’s just disingenuous or ignorant.
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.
I accidentally found your blog recently ! Lots of great stuff and I’ll be definitely reading more. 2 questions though
1) I was watching the Craig/Carroll debate on cosmology. Craig seemed to say that the Boltzmann brain problem was a problem for all multiverse models and Carroll said it was just a problem for certain models. Who’s right?
2) There’s this argument free will is incoherent. It seems persuasive to me.
“Some people imagine that there’s a thing that takes part in human decision making called free will. They say that while our actions are certainly influenced by our past experience, and by desires which we haven’t chosen, free will ultimately decides what to do with these inputs—it decides whether or not to follow the path pointed to by our experience and desires or to veto that course of action and settle on another.
If this is really the case, on what basis does this free will choose whether or not to ‘take control’? And when it does take control, how does it decide what to do?
It certainly can’t be reaching its decisions according to our desires or past experience, because these factors are already represented by the ‘non-free’ part of our will. Free will, to earn its keep, must be operating differently. So what’s left as a basis for the decisions of free will? Maybe free will acts at random, but surely if that’s the case then it doesn’t seem to deserve to be called free at all.
Believe it or not an atheist friend of mine has presented an argument from fine-tuning to demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. I think there are several different problem with the argument but I’ll be as charitable as possible to my anonymous friend @SkepticismFirst (SF).
Fine-tuning is something I’ve invested quite a bit of research in. My MA (philosophy) thesis was on the Fine-Tuning of Nomic Behavior in Multiverse Scenarios and I’m continuing that research right now in my PhD (University of Edinburgh). So, I’ve written quite extensively on this issue. Here are a few links to get the fine-tuning argument presented by the proponents of fine-tuning:
- Here is a lecture PPT and notes that I delivered to undergraduates when I taught philosophy sections at Liberty University.
- Would Multiple Universes Rule Out Fine-Tuning?
- The Falsifiability of a Non-Fine-Tuning Hypothesis
- Appealing to ‘Chance’ is Still Consistent with Design or Fine-Tuning
read more »
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.
I 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.read more »
The multiverse hypothesis is the leading alternative to the competing fine-tuning hypothesis. The multiverse dispels many aspects of the fine-tuning argument by suggesting that there are different initial conditions in each universe, varying constants of physics, and the laws of nature lose their known arbitrary values; thus, making the previous single-universe argument from fine-tuning incredibly weak. There are four options for why a fine-tuning is either unnecessary to invoke or illusory if the multiverse hypothesis is used as an alternative explanans. Fine-tuning might be (1) illusory if life could adapt to very different conditions or if values of constants could compensate each other. Additionally, (2) it might be a result of chance or (3) it might be nonexistent because nature could not have been otherwise. With hopes of discovering a fundamental theory of everything all states of affairs in nature may perhaps be tautologous. Finally, (4) it may be a product of cosmic Darwinism, or cosmic natural selection, making the measured values quite likely within a multiverse of many different values. In this paper I contend that multiverse scenarios are insufficient in accounting for the fine-tuning of the laws of nature and that physicists and cosmologists must either accept it as a metaphysical brute fact or seriously entertain the hypothesis of a fine-tuner.
I. Outlining the Multiverse Hierarchy
Contemporary physics seem to indicate that there are good reasons, theoretically and physically, for the postulation a plurality of worlds. This concept has come to be understood as the multiverse. The multiverse is not monolithic, but it is modeled after the contemporary understanding of an inflationary model of the beginning of this universe. Max Tegmark has championed the field of precision cosmology and has proposed the most prominent versions of the multiverse. Tegmark has made a four-way distinction in classifying these models.
Regularity theory (RT) attempts to account for laws in a descriptive manner contra the necessitarian position (NT), which expresses the laws of nature as nomic necessity. According to the RT the fundamental regularities are brute facts; they neither have nor require an explanation. Regularity theorists attempt to formulate laws and theories in a language where the connectives are all truth functional. Thus, each law is expressed with a universal quantifier as in [(x) (Px ⊃ Qx)]. The NT states that there are metaphysical connections of necessity in the world that ground and explain the most fundamental regularities. Necessitarian theorists usually use the word must to express this connection. Thus, NT maintains must-statements are not adequately captured by is-statements (must ≠ is, or certain facts are unaccounted for).