Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Rationality of Science - an audio lecture by philosopher Roger Trigg; From the Faraday Institute

Quotes and comments;
- you'll have to scroll down the page.
- he starts off by noting scientists often get annoyed by philosophers, and talk of philosophy. (I've found this to be true; and that most scientists imagine they can just ignore what philosophers have to say. I'm not sure how it is they feel they can do this however.)
- Trigg was a student of A.J. Ayer; and much of this lecture is a critique of Logical Positivism.
- the lecture is first rate.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The God of Antimatter - an audio lecture by G. Gabrielse from the Faraday Institute

Quotes and comments;

- G. begins by telling us that "while it might be alright for preachers to be somewhat arrogant, but physicists must be humble."
- Apparently he forgets this remark as shortly after this he mocks not only the idea of young earth creation, but Intelligent Design. That sounds pretty arrogant to me.... but I guess it's not... since he said it, and he assures us he's a poor, humble physicist.
- he tells us it's a fearful thing to talk about god.... (but apparently it's not fearful to create antimatter.)
- this humble fellow refers to god's moral law in terms like; directions, warnings, etc. (Who knew? I guess being a physicist gives one special insight into these matters; and allows one to point out the error of people who imagine these to be commands. Most people don't understand that there's a built in randomness in morality.)
- G. tells us there are some things in the bible he doesn't understand (I nearly drove in the ditch) and that he even finds the death of jesus for his sins somewhat distasteful. Only a truly humble person could say that... you'd have to admit. Non-humble persons don't find it distasteful, they find it necessary. (Imagine the vanity of such a view.)
- G. tells us "that if the arguments for god were persuasive we'd all be christian's by now." This view (so sadly common in liberal theology) denies the fallenness of man; denies man's desire to be free of god and acquire autonomy.
- this humble fellow (and it's so hard to be humble when you win prizes in science, but this guy has managed to do it) tells us 'most people completely miss the point of the creation story." This may Sound arrogant; but it's not, because G. began his lecture by telling us how humble he is. Yes; he's mocked fundamentalists, creationists, the president, orthodox theology, etc. but only because he knows the truth about all these things, and is simply pointing out the gross errors in the thinking of others.
- because G. is such a humble fellow he knows which parts of the bible are true, and which parts can be mocked for being stupid. It's a wonderful talent, that most of us don't have.
- G. tells us it's unnecessary to know god to understand the universe. Gee; who knew this. It's amazing what you can learn at harvard. (And it costs so little; considering this information is priceless.)
- of course being from harvard he fears 'rabid, religious fundametnalism.' For those of you who don't know what that means (or where to find it in the gospels) it means people who actually believe what jesus and the apostles said.
- this fellow is so humble he constantly compares his home country of the u.s. unfavorably to england. Now that's humble; one might almost say very british. (Apparently he knows nothing about England.)
- G. assures us science doesn't rule out religion (I assume he means christianity.) This is rather odd; since in his view there is no evidence for god. If there isn't on what basis would anyone believe it? Does he see jesus inside some atom he's created?
- Anyone who is willing to call fundamentalists evil, ignorant and dangerous has to be humble. No one is who isn't deeply humble would dare to say such thing. Right?
- G. tells us he believes in a "god who's beyond the reach of science..." (I assume this means a god who doesn't provide people with any evidence of his existence; a kind of trickster god I suppose. Well I guess you have to do somethng to entertain yourself during the billions of years when nothing was happening.)
- the english audience was humble enough to applaud vigorously after the lecture :-)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Basic Logic of Intelligent Design Reasoning - an audio lecture from Paul Nelson.

- this is a great introduction to ID; and is over 2 hours long.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Incarnation and Modern Science - a long essay by James Nickel

- a perfect meditation for the season.
- a fair chunk of the essay concerns the work of Stanley Jaki.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The revenge of the aesthetic - an audio lecture by William Edgar from

Quotes and comments;
- E. mentions a hearing of a college student who complained that beauty was a taboo word; that if you mentioned the word, would roll their eyes or laugh. This sad new development is especially true in the Humanities.
- I assume mathematicians can still talk about beautiful equations :-)
- the title of the lecture refers to the 'comeback' the subject of beauty may be making. (I don't see much evidence of this myself.)

"Reflect that every drop of water in the ocean, or in the hydrated rocks, or in the vapor floating over Saturn, has in it the possibility of rainbow coloring. In fact all matter has color of which the rainbow is only specimen. Any element incandescent has a spectrum partially coincident with that of water and ranging above and below it in the infinite capacity it has to start ether undulations. As apparently the larger part of the matter of the universe is incandescent, we can see that the field for expression in color is infinite. No one but the infinite God can see it all."
- an excerpt from a longer article, from the ISBE

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life - an audio lecture by Rodney Holder; from the Faraday Institute.

Quotes and comments;

- it's baffling that people like c. sagan will believe in aliens (with no evidence) but deny the existence of christ with abundant evidence.
- in the 17th century, the members of the royal society talked about this issue a lot; and fully expected there to be lots of 'aliens.'
- one person after the lecture claims the seti project is escapism; a refuasal to deal with problems... ie. x will save us.
- the q+a is interesting; there are q's from many different countries... giving many different perspectives. (rating; 4/5)
Does the advance of science lead to secularization? - an audio lecture by David Martin; from the Faraday Institute

- you'll have to scroll down the page a bit.
- this is a lecture only recommended for people who like their martinis dry. (It does get better as it goes along, finishing rather strongly.)

Quotes and comments;

- M. says that if he wanted to dissuade a young person from religion he would suggest a study of higher criticism, not a course in physics. (He means by this the decline in 'religious' belief in some countries is due more to factors outside science.)

- I wonder if there's a point where science (becoming ever more abstract, impossible for common folk to understand) ceases to work against religion; ie. to cause a retreat in religion.
- I can see how darwinism can harm relgious faith; but I fail to see how string theory can.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Redeeming Science; A god centered approach - Vern Poythress

- you can find a link for the pdf. if you scroll down a bit. (This is a book of over 300 pages.)

- I have a lot of problems with this book and can't recommend it as more than a basic introduction to the subject. He apparently wants to defend the bible by dumbing it downplease everyone; and will likely end up pleasing no one.
- chapter five is a good short summary of the basic creation models that attempt to explain the first two chapters of Genesis. Chapter six however is full of errors and misguided thinking. Chapter nine is a travesty, as he tries to prove the Noahic flood was only local. (He goes so far as to claim the water that covered Mt. Ararat was probably snow!)

Quotes and comments;

1. ''Moreover, Genesis 1. , addressed to people who lived long after the flood, needs to be interpreted in a way that makes sense to these people. They did not have an elaborate scientific theory about the pre-flood world.''
- Gen. 1. wasn't specifically addressed to people who lived long after the Flood. This is the humanist view. In my view Gen. 1. was first revealed to Adam; whose account of it was handed down the generations.
- P. says gen. 1 needs to be interpreted in a way that makes sense to post flood people. Here he contradicts what he's just said; that gen 1. was written in such a way to make sense to everyone, everywhere, in all times.
- P. says 'they did not have an elaborate (what's elaborate?) scientific theory about the pre-flood world.'' Really? How does he know this. It's a fact that 99.99 percent of everything written (not to mention thought or talked about) in the early post flood days has been lost. (This is the argument from silence fallacy.) In fact I'm sure they had a lot of 'theories' about why the flood happened. It's hard for me to imagine they didn't. (The astronomical observatories that flourished at this time are strong evidence there was a lot of sophisticated inquiry into this cataclysmic event.)
- this is speculation; but I think the fact the brief mention of 'waters above the heavens/expanse' survived in the manuscripts may well have been due to speculations about the flood, that may have been quite similar to what H. Morris et al have postulated. ie. did the 'canopy' collapse? where did all the water come from? etc.
- it's fairly clear to me that post flood people tried to use astronomy as a way of predicting cataclysmic events. The idea they were all clueless idiots is a humanist invention; spread by people who want to give the greeks the credit for everthing.

2. "Genesis 1–3, as we have indicated, does not build on the polytheistic stories but rather repudiates them."
- once again P. is wrong. Because the creation account that we call genesis was given first of all it doesn't directly repudiate anything... rather it affirms. There was no other model. Creation accounts like the babylonian are in fact repudiations of the genesis account... coming many centuries (if not millenia) after.

3. "There is no foundation for the conjecture which some have made, that there are waters deposited above the four elements; and when the Psalmist speaks of these waters as being above, he clearly points at the descent of the rain.'' - J. Calvin
- well I have a lot of respect for calvin; but he's not right on everything... and here he's wrong.
- there most certainly is room here for conjecture. One can get ideas on which to formulate scientific hypotheses from anywhere; from the bible, poetry, nature, anything. (The people who imagine a canopy aren't declaring absolute truth; they're doing science... specifically trying to explain the long ages of the pre-flood patriarchs.)
- the fact is that water (lots of it) has been detected well above the clouds, high in the atmosphere. (Not to mention water on other planets; including the atmosphere of Venus. There is water in the stratosphere, and there is even water in space itself.) So Calvin was just wrong.
- it's foolish for people to pretend they have some perfect knowledge of things. (Calvin's ignorance being a case in point.) It's also unwarranted to pretend there aren't hints in the bible about knowledge of the world not known by the science of the day. I think of the passage that mentions 'paths in the sea' that led a fellow named Mathew Maury to look for ocean currents (ie. paths) and led him to make new discoveries in this area. (He obviously wasn't the first man to read this particular verse, but it inspired him in his research.)

4. (P 105) "In fact, the young-earth creationists do not reject science as a whole. They use scientific methods, scientific assumptions, and scientific theories in many cases where they hope that it will help them fit things into the picture of a young earth. The question then arises, β€œOn what grounds do you exercise suspicion toward one area, galactic astronomy, even though you can find no serious flaws in it, and not toward another area?”
- I suppose this explains why old age creationists accept everything naturalist (materialist) science says. If they don't they're guilty of the same thing. This is a strange argument; as the bible counsels people repeatedly to use judgment and discernment. (But I guess prof p. knows better; he just accepts everything.)
- what makes this such a repulsive argument is that even prof. p. in other places doesn't conform to his own argument. ie. Does he believe the mind is a myth? science tells us it is. Does he believe the soul is a myth? god a myth? the resurrection a myth? miracles a myth? sin a myth? heaven a myth? hell a myth? On his own account he has no right to reject any of the claims of mainstream science. (But he does of course; he's very selective in the areas of his own concern... there he allows himself to pick and choose as he wants.)

5. (147) 'The 24-hour-day view, mature creation, the day-age theory, the analogical day theory, and the framework view all affirm the main theological truths of Genesis 1–2.'
- prof. P. is a clever guy but not so clever one can't see through him. Read the sentence again, carefully, and you notice something strange. He claims all these models affirm the truths of gen 1-2. Why just 1-2? why not say they affirm all the truths of scripture? Well, the answer is simple; because some of these models don't do that, in fact they deny many truths of scripture. (One example being that death was caused by the sin of Adam.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Defense of Nonsense - an essay by G.K. Chesterton (From his early book 'The Defendant')

Quotes and comments;

''So long as we regard a tree as an obvious thing, naturally and reasonably created for a giraffe to eat, we cannot properly wonder at it. It is when we consider it as a prodigious wave of the living soil sprawling up to the skies for no reason in particular that we take off our hats, to the astonishment of the park-keeper.''
- and I take my hat off to anyone who could see a tree as a wave of the soil. [:=)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Has Science Eliminated God? - an audio lecture by Alister McGrath

Quotes and comments;
- this is an excellent lecture; marred only by an overly timid critique. McGrath compliments Dawkins so profusely it's bewildering. (Maybe it's an English thing.)

- Dawkins repeatedly makes the claim the religion relies on what he calls 'blind faith.' He doesn't defend his definition of faith, and doesn't source it. This is a joke. If you can define your terms the way you want to you could win any argument with ease. D. doesn't seem to have the wit to understand this. I get the impression of someone who has very little familiarity with philosophy; especially epistemology. As M. points out, this is a definition of faith no c. theologian uses.

- McGrath tell us that in 1978 when he heard of d.'s idea of the meme he was very impressed. He thought it had 'intellectual rigor' - that it would help explain cultural development. Was he forgetting this is only an analogy? one that can in no way be proven to have any validity? This is just pop philosophy; intellectual faddism. How can an analogy between biology and culture be meaningful? There is no way this can be proved.
- This reminds me of one of plato's stories. ie. 'well it might be something like this...' This would be fine for a sf novel, but it is NOT science. Memes are not in any way science. (And this from a man who insists on scientific rigor, and empirical evidence! This apologist for atheism seems to have totally forgotten that culture is directed by intelligent beings; directed purposefully. Even as rhetoric this fails badly; surely anyone with sense can see you can't compare non-intelligent and intelligent factors. (Any more than you can compare living and non-living things; ie. rocks and apples or bears.)
- in his speculations about memes D. has given people the rope they need to hang him. If we cannot discover the meme (its physical existence) not only is the theory of memes destroyed, so also is d.'s model of evolution. (ie. it would mean his theory cannot account for human life as we know it. A theory that can't explain human life has no importance in the long run. It becomes a mere intellectual oddity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Darwin's surprise; Why darwin wouldn't write the Origins if he were alive today - an audio lecture by Charles Thaxton

- Abstract;
- "Our knowledge of the world of the cell and of living things has exploded in the last 30 years. We are realizing the intricate complexity and multiplicity of molecular machines that all must cooperate to allow a living organism to function. We can imagine how Darwin himself would react to this knowledge if he were alive today. This lecture will suggest what Darwin would think and write about if he were doing research today."

- scroll down the page a bit.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tolkien or Nietzsche? - a long article from Peter Candler. It's available from The center of theology and philosophy.

- scroll down toward the bottom of the page.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Language of Beauty; The power of words revealed by Lord of the Rings. An audio lecture by Peter Kreeft

- scroll down toward the bottom of the page.
- he talks quite a bit about songs; but didn't mention the verse from Is. 25:5 "The song of the tyrant shall be brought low."
The Integrates Model for Relating Psychology and Christianity:
A Critique in the Light of BiblicaI Creation - Paul D. Ackerman

Quotes and comments;
'Despite its Christian trappings, the Integrates model, because of its unity of truth assumption, begins to have a humanistic flavor. The logic proceeds as follows: because of human fallibility, man is embedded in uncertainty, and the role of life becomes the quest for truth.'

- the trouble with the claim that man is on a quest for truth, is simple; the bible denies it. ("No one seeketh the truth...") Was Lenin on a quest for truth? Was Freud? Was Nietzsche?
- the only truth the natural man seeks is the 'truth' god doesn't exist; that Christ isn't his savior, and that there will be no final judgment; no heaven or hell.
- the only metaphysical truth man seeks is a cosmos not created by god; one that is utterly empty of god.
- the only ethical 'truth' man seeks is one that will allow him to sin.
- the only epistemological 'truth' man seeks is a methodology that doesn't require revelation.
- It seems absurd to call this a quest for truth.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The genealogy of postmodernism - an audio lecture from Bruce Little. It can be found at

Quotes and comments;
- he makes the interesting point that rousseau was responding to the scepticism of his day... and proposed that since we can't find truth in the bible or in nature we should look for it within (ie. within the heart)
- I must be thick because I never got the conection between scepticism and pietism before.
- he makes an interesting comment about how scientists are against the pm idea... how they are beginning to talk about the need to get back to the Enlightenment view. (ie. you can't do science if everything is constantly changing... if there is no truth.)
- he says the humanist manifesto 2000 claims pm is 'dangerous.'
- near the very end he mentions going to a college classroom for a debate; a literature class; 'what are you reading?' he asked a student. 'we're not reading anything' she said; 'we went to ToysRus last week; to look at the packaging... to see if it was sexist...'
- the best lecture on postmodernism that I've heard.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The quest for goodness in Tolkien - an audio lecture by Jerram Barrs.

- I enjoyed this lecture a lot. The question period is especially good.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Naturalism, Theism and Objective Knowledge - an article by Dr. John Byl

- Byl presents the case that materialism is a self-refuting philosophy.

Quotes and comments;

'The pragmatic test of a worldview is whether it can be consistently lived out. One may well doubt the credibility of any philosophy that cannot be coherently upheld in daily life. Again, consider Hume, who confessed his own inability to consistently maintain his scepticism...'

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Vern Poythress; Redeeming physics: God's word as foundation for scientific law. Here

Quotes and comments;

''In addition, in the foundational passage in Genesis 1 God's speech has a central role. "And God said, 'Let there by light,' and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). The principal acts of creation take place by God speaking.''

- no verse in the bible (or from anywhere) gives us as good a picture of how powerful language (speech) is; of what it can accomplish. Language is the ground of rationality; and in human terms, the ultimate source of power. Through language stars and planets can be created; even a universe. (The sf novel Picoverse shows a NASA like agency creating a universe.)
- is it because of the implications of Gen. 1. that Jesus tells people they will one day be judged by ever word they speak? (I would suggest that at least in part this is the case.)

- Poythress has written a book on Science that is available as a free download on his site. (I haven't read it but plan to.)
Charles Dickens; an online work about the novelist, by G.K. Chesterton can be found here.

- I enjoyed this literary biography a great deal. (Look under non-fiction works.)
- a fellow named Martin Ward has a page with most of Chesterton's available works on it. A treasure trove as they say.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe

- if you scroll down a bit you can find the link to the video.

"Today, most scientists and philosophers claim that Earth is an ordinary speck of dust adrift, without purpose or significance, in a vast cosmic sea." This idea (popularized by the late astronomer, Carl Sagan) is sometimes referred to as the Copernican Principle. This video (based I believe on the book of the same name) presents a different view of things.
- this is a good introduction to the topic of Intelligent Design.
- books to read; 'A privileged Planet', and 'Rare Earth'

Friday, December 01, 2006

Creation and Human Language - Dennis Farrell
An article from the archives of Creation Social Science and Humanities Quarterly

- The magazine (unfortunately) is long defunct; but I feel it was ahead of its time. The main force behind it was a wonderful woman named Ellen Myers.
- The article is largely concerned with the work of Clifford Wilson. The book to read is 'The Language Gap.'