Posts tagged ‘philosophy’

May 31st, 2015

Cambridge Paper Preview: Extent of Existents

by Max Andrews

This July I will be presenting my first philosophy of mathematics paper at Tyndale’s conference at Cambridge University. Please Consider Helping! I’m almost at the goal for grants and donations to pay 100%. For insight on my response paper to the plenary speak see my earlier post.

So far, in brief discussions with others, this paper seems a bit controversial since I’m defending the possibility of an actual infinite set of things existing. Below is the abstract for “The Extent of Existents: Ontologies and Infinities”.

Abstract: There seems to be an intrinsic rationality to the universe that is not simply extrinsically projected by the knowing subject. The consilience between mathematics and physics is inherent to nature and is inductively depended upon by every person. What makes the question of infinities interesting is whether there actually are such existent sets. Theists are often inclined to deny that actual infinites exist and explain such things as useful fictions of conceptually existent in the mind of God—but there can be no actual infinite set (ℵ) of existents [or anything]. I will, of course, address the concrete or abstract nature and [the so-called] indispensability of such sets but that is a peripheral concern, as the infinite set of quarks or strings does not necessarily depend on the existence of the correlate abstracta. I will then survey some rejoinders such as Hilbert’s Hotel and other ‘incoherence’ arguments against actual infinites and how they are limited in applicable scope. Cantorian and ZFC semantics will be used, as they are mathematically canonical. I will conclude that theists are wholly consistent in their philosophy of mathematics and science, which will, in turn, compose a stronger theology of nature by affirming actual infinites. A theological and scientific consilience will be argued from the Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of variety and G. W. Leibniz’s principle of plenitude. I will conclude that having a theology and philosophy that permits an actual infinite set of existents will not conflict with [examples in] theoretical physics such as many cosmological models and some mechanics in quantum physics—though this is not to be considered a driving motivator; rather, it’s an example of some of the consequences for one allowing the possibility of an actual infinite of existents to one’s ontological framework.

May 20th, 2015

New EPS 2015 Conference Paper on the Moral Argument

by Max Andrews

column_leftDave Beck and I have had another paper accepted for this year’s Evangelical Philosophical Society’s annual conference. This year the conference is in Atlanta so I may try to attend it this year but if I’m unable to (contingent on funds and teaching schedule) Dave will be presenting the paper on behalf of both of us.

Date: November 18 at 9:20am

All of my [and our] previous papers have been concerning, primarily, the philosophy of science with the philosophy of religion in tow. Ethics is a new area of professional research for me but the paper will focus on both the ethics/metaethics of the argument and the logic and rationale.

Here’s the abstract to our paper “The Internal Logic of the Moral Argument”:

All of the theistic arguments have the following logical pattern: (1) identify a particular in need of explanation. (2) Eliminate all natural explanations. (3) Conclude to a non-natural alternative. The uniqueness of the Moral Argument, as an attempt to explain moral obligation, is that the non-natural alternative only emerges in the course of the argument and in two phases: (a) A best explanation phase in which neither natural/causal nor the human/free model works. (b) This, in turn, sets up the following dilemma: a fitting explanation must be personal (not causal) but it cannot be other persons because all persons are free and equal in relation to moral obligation. This forces the abduction to the conclusion that there must be a superperson somehow authorized to obligate persons.

The logic of the argument itself forces us to an inference to the best explanation that avoids the aforementioned dilemma: another person, but who is authorized to legislate ethics. In defending our argument we will construct a clear abductive argument, which factors in the set of all explananda. The explanans that we will infer to is a morally capable person and what is of paramount note is that this explanation does not take us fully to the Anselmian God. That is a task for further arguments and sub-arguments.

May 15th, 2015

Tyndale Cambridge: Presenting on Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom and Actual Infinites

by Max Andrews

This July, at the Tydale philosophy conference at the University of Cambridge, I’ll be doing a response paper to ”Can Divine timelessness reconcile libertarian human freedom and divine knowledge of future human actions?”. This was a prize winning paper with Tyndale and I will be responding to this year’ plenary speaker, who will be presenting this paper.

Abstract:

An age-old problem for theists is the apparent irreconcilability of God’s omniscience with libertarian human freedom. If God knows what I will do tomorrow, and is infallible, then it appears that I am unable to refrain from acting in accordance with this knowledge. The pervasiveness of this problem is an important reason for many philosophers (from Boethius, Augustine and Aquinas, through to Helm, Leftow and Stump) holding that God is timeless. I will explain how a timeless God is alleged to avoid the sting of the freedom-foreknowledge dilemma, before demonstrating why I believe that this account fails.

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 14th, 2015

“So, You’re New Around Here?” A Beginner’s Guide to Christianity

by Max Andrews

Over the last few years of maintaining Sententias I’ve decided to start a very long series that may be used to assist the curious and the new believers. The material will progress from the most basic elements of theology and philosophy [as it relates to the faith]. Then it will progress towards other doctrinal issues and then on to more peripheral issues. All the while there will be intermittent points of reflection and Bible study material.

This will be designed for either a group of individuals (if someone is being discipled by a mature Christian) or by someone who happens to be alone (where this can help get them going until they can find someone to teach them one on one).

I will soon post an outline of what I intended to include. The general format will be that of the famous spider web example. In the centre of the web will be the essentials (e.g. the existence of God, deity of Jesus, atonement, repentance and faith, etc.). In the inner rings will be important but non-salvific and non-gospel issues (e.g. theories of the atonement [I will advocate substitionary], biblical inerrancy, etc.). Then on the more outer rings there will be tentatively held issues like dating, authorships, textual transmission, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc.

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?

February 5th, 2015

Molinism Book on Sale for a Reduced Price

by Max Andrews

My newest eBook, book 2 in the series of Molinism eBooks, The Spread of Molinism, is now on sale at a reduced price for $5.99 (Normal listed price is $8.99). The sale will only be available for a week and will end on Valentine’s Day!

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: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S5K0I8G

UK Store Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

AU Store Link: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

Philosophy, Theology, and Science of Molinism AmazonThe 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.

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 18th, 2015

Top Movies from 2014 for the Cultured Individual

by Max Andrews

I recently did a post on the top ten books for the cultured intellectual, which has inspired me to put forth another list from film and the cinema. It would be almost impossible to survey all of the great works and pin down the top ten must see movies for the eclectic, cultural experience. I’ve considered a few factors:

  1. Writing and Screenplay: The film must be well written and the actors and actresses nail the character they’ve adapted themselves to becoming. The better the flow and editing the better it is but no film has perfect editing.
  2. Moral Considerations: There’s a lot of debate in the Christian sphere about the entertainment industry. Right now, the big talking point is whether Christians (mostly women) should or should not see Fifty Shades of Grey. I honestly don’t know too much about those books other than it seems to be more about some man’s erotic lifestyle and women. I’ll let those who know more debate that issue. I don’t even want to dabble in that debate. But there are other considerations. I think there are several films that are antithetical to the Christian worldview that are entertaining but also depict a story that is rich and robust in its narrative and artistic in the presentation. I don’t think there’s a rule of thumb for all to consider. I think it’s up to the individuals liberty and conviction to watch or not watch.
  3. Diversity: This word is so abused in western society. Ugh… I’m simply referring to delimits that will be imposed. I’ll include some movies that may be action packed, some drama, some comedy, a biopic, or even some other genre. My point is to try to canvas what’s out there concerning genre, messages, reaction by viewers, etc.

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: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S5K0I8G

UK Store Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

AU Store Link: http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00S5K0I8G

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.