Friday, February 29, 2008

Religion and scientific world view - audio lecture by Keith Ward (online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. 'Is there a scientific world-view? The Oxford English Dictionary defines a world-view as ‘a set of fundamental beliefs, attitudes, values, etc., determining or constituting a comprehensive outlook on life, the universe, etc.’
- I suggest replacing the obsolete word religion with world view (wview) or belief system. You can see how this would change things by replacing the word religion in the following quote; ''there is an inherent conflict between religion and science."

2. Ward's view of metaphysics appears to be that man is the result of the 'fine tuning' of the laws of physics... and that this 'fine tuning' was done by some kind of absentee creator. This kind of speculation of course has no power to draw anyone; hence the empty churches. Is that the kind of God anyone would worship? I doesn't appear to be the case does it. (Sort of like a beautiful young lass falling in love with an elderly Newton :=)

3. This is the first of a series of 6 lectures on science and religion. I listened to them all but can't recall that he ever bothered to define religion. I expect that's rather telling, as his brand of Christianity isn't based on anything real; certainly not the Bible.

4. The new scientists (after Galileo) said 'were not going to ask what the purpose of things is." This has been called the 'disenchantment' of nature.

5. 'The conflict that is presented by modern day atheists as 'religion' vs. science was really one between the new science and the old science. The old science was Aristotlian; and it included a concern for final causes.' (i.e. Methodological naturalism lops off this concern for final causes; doesn't ask 'what is a thing for?')

6. Ward quotes G.E. Moore as saying "on the whole it would have been better if this universe had never existed." Here we see the bleakness of materialist philosophy. Moore couldn't possibly have know that. (He's probably saying I shouldn't have existed; and if one knows a little something of his life one can understand it.) This is silliness. There is no way a finite, fallible human being is in any position to make such a statement. This is just indulging in perversity. All his learning availed Moore nothing.

7. Ward says it's alright for scientists to say 'we're not concerned with the question of purpose or values...' (and he agrees this is the way science should be done)
- should be done? if all is matter in motion it makes no sense to say x or y 'should' be done; so even materialist science, at the very beginning, starts off with a moral view of things.
- He says it's Not alright for scientists to say there is no purpose; i.e. to switch from a method of doing science to a conclusion about reality... to a metaphysical claim. (which is what populizers like dawkins do)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Religion and the Quantum world - audio lecture by Keith Ward (online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. Laplace said if one could know everything one could predict what would happen... down to the smallest detail (a popular form of this is the Foundation novels of Isaac Asimov; if my memory banks are operating today) and ward tells us this is all wrong... that qp has shown us we can never know (with certainty) what will happen.

2. A key to understanding Ward is his belief that if something 'works' it must (has to be) be true. You can't understand him if you miss this. This of course isn't true; but only a belief. There are many problems with such a belief; eg. how do we define 'works'? if it works for you but not for me does it still 'work'? if it works for the elite but not for the rest of us does it work? what does work mean? obviously something can work' and be fallacious (as many medicines, theories of astronomy etc.) the fact some people like the result of something or find it helpful doesn't mean it has anything to do with reality. This work stuff is naive; it proves nothing. The fact idea x enable you to accomplish some goal does not in any way mean it is a correct knowledge of ultimate reality. Ward doesn't seem to understand this.

3. I agree with him when he says 'we cannot know the ultimate cause of anything...' (ie. to know such a thing we'd have to know everything.
- This is maybe the most important truth I know, but almost everyone ignores it... as if it were nothing at all... a baseball score from japan. All the world (most especially politicians) claims it DOES know the ultimate cause of a,b,c,d,e,f, etc. etc. Well; they do not; they're either deluded, or they're lying. This is a 'hard' truth; but I'm convinced of it. It is very uncomfortable. One's choices are; a. special revelation, or; b. some combination of pragmatism and mystery.

4. Ward claims there is little difference between Christian and Hindu views! (Well, okay, at least you now know how deep in the theological swamp of relativism you now stand.) It's a key indicator of our times that academics want to 'smooth' out all differences; to create some generic idiocy we can all believe. (see the sf story 'The Smoother' by Terry Bisson; it's not about world views really... more a rant about the evils of Mcdonald's... american corporate jihad... but it seems to fit here.)

5. A questioner makes a comment about the things 'theologians' talk about. In fact there is no such thing as a 'theologian....' not anymore than there some entity called a person. ie. it's just a useless banal term that means nothing.

1. this is the fifth in Ward's series on 'Religion and Science.'

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ethics and evolutionary psychology - audio lecture by Keith Ward (online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. Before he starts his lecture he responds to a question someone in the audience had; 'what is evolutionary psychology?'' by saying it's more or less equivalent to what used to be called sociobiology. (As far as I know this is the idea all human behavior, thought, etc. can be explained in terms of genetics.)
- let me say that the term e. psychology is one of the most absurd oxymorons ever invented.

2. Ward claims some mutations are beneficial. I dispute this. I don't know of a one. Mutations are copying mistakes... and can only produce error; they destroy information... they Never create new information. The end result is always a loss information. (see 'Not a chance' by Lee Spetner) - But we need to ask how an E. can possibly know whether a mutation is a positive thing I maintain he has no way to do this; not if he takes E. theory seriously. If E. has no goal in mind, no mutation can be good or bad. For it to be so the E. would have to have an objective standard to measure it against. He would need to choose one time period over another to measure the effects; but any choice he made would be arbitrary. He would have to choose to measure in terms of the individual, the group, or the whole system; and any choice would again be arbitrary.

3. Ward tells us evolutionary psychology (EP) destroys the idea of ethics, and offers as evidence a quote from Richard Dawkins, where we're told that; "we are robot vehicles.... survival machines... programmed to conserve selfish genes...''
- This of course is ID language; language Dawkins has no right to use. Only persons invent machines.... so even if this claim were true he would have refuted the case for materialism.
- Programmed? more ID language; only intelligent agents can program anything.

4. Ward assures us evolution is a fact not a theory... and he gives us the example of the hairy mice in the Orkneys. "They just keep getting hairier and hairier,'' he tells us. (Well; that's good enough for me, I'm going back to my old belief in evolution :=)
- this is pretty silly... the fact mice get more or less hairy as the weather gets more or less cold tells us Nothing about evolution. The point is this; do mice turn into birds? No. Do they ever become anything but mice? No. Fluctuations around a mean is evidence of nothing; except maybe the great wisdom of the Creator. Evolutionists keep giving us evidence (so called) of this kind) and it proves nothing.
- The Genesis account tells us we started off with a single human couple. We now have all kinds of different looking humans; from Zulus to Norwegians. This is not in any way evolution. I maintain this is the paradigm for all creation; for all that has happened since the creation. Theologians like Ward like to claim genesis is a fairy tale (I guess they get this bit of wisdom from Dawkins) but I maintain that the Gen. account is in fact scientifically accurate. What we see today in the human community is what we would expect to be the case if in fact it were true history. The fact we have all different shades of colored skin has nothing to do with evolution. The fact some people are short and some tall is Not evolution; it's just a working out of the richness of the genetic code. (Which in fact has an infinite number of possible humans up its sleeve.) The key to understanding life on earth is that no two humans are alike; that each person is unique. One day people will understand the implications of that; but I don't expect it will be anytime soon. (And lib theologians will be the last to twig.)
- I believe the model stated above might be expected to be true of all the creatures (called kinds) that were created directly by God. I expect that a similar kind of wide expression took place in all the created kinds. (This is by no means original with me.)

5. Ward at one point mocks the Genesis account of the Fall. (His voice goes all weird; becomes even more high pitched than usual, and the delivery very rapid.) H he tells us this account doesn't really make sense.
- And of course Ward knows what is and is not 'sense.' i.e. he apparently has access to some autonomous source of knowledge that delivers absolute truth to him... and so he can tell us the bible makes no sense. (i.e. if the Bible disagrees with Keith Ward, the bible is wrong.) Is it any wonder there is no one in most English churches? Hardly. People don't go to church to hear god's word being mocked; not many at any rate.
"It's a real primitive story'' he tells us. (One wonders what his story of the 'hominid' who first dreamed up the idea of right and wrong should be called then? pre-primitive? idiotic? heretical?)

6. In a classic example of liberal hypocricy he tells us "I wouldn't, as a priest, mock Genesis (which he just has) but I would present it as a myth of people so backward they knew nothing of evolution."
- I love that. That goes down as one my favorite goofball quotes of all time. Didn't even know about evolution! Can you imagine? (But of course evolution goes back millennia in time, and the ancient Greeks believed in it... and in my view it was already old at that time.... and no doubt goes back well before the days of the flood.)
- So why is it okay to mock Genesis at a lecture hall, and not okay in church?. This seems more than a little muddle headed to me.

1. From the sounds of listening to his lectures, I doubt if Ward has ever look critically at evolution theory; or has ever spoken to a well informed critic of it.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Cosmology and creation - audio lecture by Keith Ward (online at Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. Ward defines creation (one wonders how he knows this) as ''the dependence of all things in space and time on something beyond space and time.''
- he doesn't tell us how he knows this. This seems clearly to be a 'secularized' version of what we read in Genesis. (Which Ward, as a liberal among liberals, would in no way see as being authoritative.)

2. 'Creation is not the beginning of the universe,' he tells us in serious tones.
- I can't follow what he's getting at here, but he says we mustn't think of god as some person who decided one day to make a universe. (How he could know this I don't know... ) This is totally false he says.

3. Ward talks (seemingly with approval) of the idea Martin Rees enjoys espousing; that of many universes. (I'd like to know how Rees knows this :=) I hope people aren't fooled by such nonsense. This bizarre notion reminds me of the verse in the psalms; ''where shall I go to flee from thee...?" and it gives many places. It seems Rees wants to flee into another universe. (This would be a great way to escape bail I guess :=)
- I might add that this idea of something existing outside the universe (which at one point used to be defined as all there is) seems to come from the biblical view of god existing outside time and space. (Though I'm sure no credit will be given; as usual.)

4. It seems to me that when materialists (atheists) get so desperate to come up with naturalistic explanations for the universe they wander off into the silly land of multiverses they have given the game away. i.e. if there are many universes there is no reason why some being/s could not have created our universe. I don't see how they can get around this; in their dishonest attempts to escape the implications of a finely tuned universe they have in fact made way for a creator.
- If multiple universes exist apart from the one were sitting in, then we can't deny the fact some entity outside this universe might have in fact created it. The argument is simple; once you allow that something exists outside the universe you can't rule out the idea that something might be a creator of some kind. This is a deistic argument; or better a defense of the generic idea of theism or at least creation. (This is not an attempt at proving God.)

5. Ward says, of ideas about many universes; 'these are very serious speculations...'
- Gee; how does he know this? I think they're totally absurd. But let's ignore my views... how could any such thing be tested? W. admits, ''this will be difficult..."
- but; since Rees is now a Lord it should at least in principle be possible :=)


Thursday, February 21, 2008

The limits of science - audio lecture by Keith Ward (Gresham college)

Quotes and comments;

1. Ward starts off by stating he can prove the objectivity of scientific knowledge (i.e. refute relativity) and gives gravity as the example; 'if you get gravity wrong... you're in trouble...'' (Well; I'm not sure this proves 'science' is objective, or merely that gravity is objective. i.e. I don't think you can't use this one example to state that all or most of what science says is objectively true.... I would say some is and some is not. The gravity example might be too simple to be very helpful.)

2. Ward tells us that Peter Atkins claims science can answer all 'sensible' questions...'
- and what exactly is a 'sensible' question? I guess any question Atkins thinks he can answer.. And no doubt Atkins will get to decide what questions are sensible :=) This is more of the winning the debate by defining the terms game.

3. Christians were called 'atheists' by the Romans.... why? because they rejected the gods... and the idea nature was full of spirits...

4. Ward tells us that science must be publicly observable...
- he uses example of dreams to prove not all that exists is publicly observable.... (ie. no one can know what we're dreaming.) He offers this as evidence science can't answer all questions; and evidence that science has limits. (He uses a definition of science that seems to be methodological naturalism.)

5. 'Science cannot deal with the unique...'
- personal experience is unique... (and each experience a person has is a unique experience...)

Summary; an interesting lecture with a lively Q+A.

1. Ward is a liberal theologian from England; and has written quite a bit on science.
2. There are hundreds of lectures available online from Gresham college; including about 20 by Ward.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What is science for? - audio lecture by Tom Mcleish (available online at the Faraday Institute)

Quotes and comments;

1. 'Until 1993 there was no official government [England] reason given for the financing of science.' A paper was then given that offered a coupe reasons; 1. wealth creation; 2. betterment of the quality of life.

2. If I heard him correctly he said (unbelievably) 'I don't see that there are any limits on what science can engage in...'
- If people like this have their way the human world will surely be destroyed... if not the whole world. This is surely the desire to be as god. One is reminded of the offer the serpent gave to Eve "thous shalt be as gods.'' McLeish calls this idolatry 'a celebration of no limits.' (That's as anti-biblical as one could get... despite all his previous pious talk. Nowhere in the bible is there even a hint that men can live as if there were no limits on their behavior. And let's not forget; that in practicality this means no limits on what the ruling elite can do.... ie. in spite of the populace, and TO the populace.) How this can pretend to be Christianity? I have no idea. When God says ''ye shall have no other gods....'' this clearly includes man himself. The idea there should (should? where does the should come from?) be no limits on what scientists can concoct is the epitome of evil.
- so I ask; can I do whatever I want? can anyone whose not a 'scientist' do whatever they want? can they force taxpayers to finance it? So the question is this; if most people can't do what they want, why can people called scientists? aren't they just human like the rest of us? don't they have the same foibles? and why should we defend their right to do as they please, if we don't have similar rights?

3. asked about genetic engineering, he says 'it's not obvious (oh? says who) we should not re-engineer ourselves.' Really? If we were made by god (a perfectly wise god, who controls all things) how can we (in our puny so called wisdom... which is no doubt delusion) improve on this? how do we know what god thinks of it? how do we know the results of our playing around? etc.)

4. He goes on to play the child's game of claiming government (i.e. socialism) research is PURE while private research is EVIL. (You wonder if these people have ever read a single, solitary book on the ussr. How can they be so naive? how is it possible? communism murdered 200 million people in the last century... but these academic clowns seem not to have noticed it? In their minds (which they deny having :=) the collectivist power state is all good... the fount of purity and blessing... that has no downside. They argue like 3 year olds. All the blood of the martyrs of communism cries out against them but they weld covers to their ears... and refuse to hear. The State is their god; the fount of all blessings. (And yet they pretend to be christians.)

5. He wants to contrast science 'which should be (should be?) an open ended questioning of all things...'
- Really? says who? i.e. that's not a scientific statement... it's a faith claim. We might ask, based on what? You see (like most professors on tenure; a non-scientific matter by the way) he wants to deny the validity of absolute morals... but at the same time he depends on them entirely. eg. why should people be forced to pay his salary? defend his right to do things no one else can do? etc etc.? why shouldn't people be allowed to kill him if he defends them? etc. On the one hand he denies moral absolutes, but on the other hand depends on them utterly. (He apparently doesn't have the wit to comprehend this.) He can question all things; but no one can question him! this is clearly a joke. He can steal money from people who oppose him; but no one can do the same to him. He can have his projects financed; but his opponents cannot. He pretends to know absolute truth; but no one else can make the same claim. It's all a great joke.

6. "You don't need to be a Christian to be a good scientist,' he tells us. Well if he means you don't have to be a c. to be able to accurately observe the creation I would agree. But this is Much too simplistic. A materialist can Never understand the universe, or man correctly. Never.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Religion vs. science? Roots of the conflict - audio lecture by John Hedley Brooke (This free lecture can be found at the Faraday Institute)

Quotes and comments;

1. I can't say I'm a big fan of Brooke, but the lecture is interesting in that you get a good feel, I think, for how the English academic sees the creation/evolution debate. (It was recorded in 2007.)

2. Brooke mentions some 'well known writer' on these issues who said; ''there Must be a conflict... because 'science' respects evidence and there is No evidence for 'religious' ideas." (Was this Dawkins? sounds like him.)
- we see here again how materialists always seem to end up personifying science and nature. Science isn't a person and can't therefore respect (or disrespect) anything.
- to say there is no evidence for 'religion' is a vulgar, unscientific statement. The author (who apparently sees himself as a mindless bit of matter) cannot possibly know this. He'd have to be god to know this. And we might ask what right one particular blob of matter has to deny the opinions and experiences of other people.
- as I see it, the heart of this so called conflict (between 'science' and 'religion) is the finite and fallible mind of man opposed to the infinite and perfect mind of God. The conflict stems from man denying what god has said.

3. Adam Sedgwick (relying naively on the fossil record) says ''we can see in the 'distinctive' layers that creatures appear that were not there before..... thus they were not created by god."
- This would be comical if it had not been so serious. As a logical arguement this is fallacious. It depends on the rocks being a perfect snapshot of the past; which Sedgwick could in no way prove. (It also ignores variation within 'kinds' which no biblical creationist of our day would deny.) This argument depends upon a theory of the rock layers, not upon reality. We might call it the photograph fallacy.

4. Brooke wants to sit on the fence in the C/E debate. He just takes as a matter of course that evolution theory is true. He wants to claim evolution has nothing to do with religion. ( i.e. no more than the chemical composition of water.) He claims that E. is merely a technical scientific theory. I find this disingenuous. As a historian of science (for 40 years) he's surely aware that E. was a favorite idea of the ancient Greeks. It's clear to me that evolution is basically a religious doctrine; an essential part of the Materialist world view. (As an aside I think it's important to note that evolution is rarely taught in its historical context.)

5. The q+a might be the best part of the lecture.

6. Brooke refers to the "propaganda machines of the young earth creationists... and even the Intelligent design folk."
- I really have to wonder if he's kept up with his biology. I see little evidence for this. (Over and over I see Christian academics who have little knowledge of modern biology attack creationists for critiquing evolution. In fact the less they know the more fierce their attacks seem to be.

7. I was startled to hear a member of the audience refer to the current head of the church of England as his idea of a true Christian. (Isn't this the guy who denies the existence of God; denies the deity of Christ; denies miracles; denies creation; favors homosexuality and witchcraft; etc.? (Anyone who bases their faith on the Bible is apparently a fanatic.)

8. It's amazing to me but Brooke wants to compare Dawkins and his idea that 'religion' is the root of all evil, with the young earth creationists who claim Darwinism is satanic. Both are extremists he tells us. (The answer to the science vs. religion debate apparently is; join the church of England and believe in evolution.)
- the kind of Christianity Brooke espouses seems like Deism to me.