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).
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.
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?
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!
The 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.
The 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
My 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.
The 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.
I recently saw Neil deGrasse-Tyson’s list of eight books for intelligent people to read and, though they aren’t all bad, there are much more profound books. So, naturally, there will be some overlap, though probably for different reasons, as well as a variety of topics as my focus also includes being cultured.
Being a member of academia or modern intelligentsia is great but if you don’t get out of your ivory tower and aren’t knowledgable in culture, pop-culture, history, the arts, music, etc. then you’re taking up a small niche of intelligentsia.
Aside from the diversity I just alluded to, my criteria will also include the impact the works have had on society[ies] and may include overlapping books for a single author–particularly if the books are integral to the ideology or thesis being presented.
Without further ado, let the countdown begin:
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Part philosopher, part theologian, and part literary genius, Dostoevsky depicts the problem of evil and a world without God in a magnificent way. The book is about two brothers in Russia during the Russian depression and war and one brother is an atheist and one is a Christian. The atheist plots to kill their father while the Christian struggles to convince him that there is objective morality. This is where we get Karamazov’s theorem: ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ)
Subjectivism begins with personal experience. One might actually regard philosophical subjectivism as doing philosophy from the inside-out (which can eventually lead to critical-realism/non-realism). Both René Descartes (1596-1650) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) attempted to construct philosophical systems from this starting point (although in the end both were realists). In the modern world subjectivist philosophies have become very popular as they challenge the notion of absolute Truth which allows people to democratize truths. This means truths become relative to each person. As a result, a society built on subjectivist principles is believed to be tolerant and willing to allow people to live and let live (providing they do not harm others – which, ironically, is not a subjective, and therefore relative, statement).
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.
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.