More faces in clouds

In our recent discussion on cryptic images and randomness, it was pngarrison who raised the issue of pareidolia – the human tendency to see images, especially of faces, in what are clearly (apart from God’s sense of humour) random patterns. Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy, Science | 7 Comments

The organic and the atomistic

One of the accusations that modern Aristotelians (like Ed Feser) throw at Intelligent Design is that it has an engineering view of biology, and an engineering Deity, the issue being that organisms are actually whole entities that cannot be divided, like human artifacts, into disconnected parts assembled for a function. Interestingly, a good number of Evolutionary Creation voices at BioLogos have echoed that critique (to the point of getting Ed Feser to write some columns). Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Philosophy, Science | 5 Comments

More on seeing what you believe

One of the astonishing examples of theory driving observation in the history of science is how Aristotle’s theory of trajectory was believed by over 2 millennia’s worth of observers – careful philosophers, archers, gunners and small boys playing catch included – until Galileo showed they were all parabolae. How could people be so blind to what every day phenomena were telling them? Continue reading

Posted in History, Philosophy, Science | 4 Comments

The thick plottens

Pngarrison helpfully pointed us a day or two ago to a recent article in the context of the randomness of variation. It does raise some interesting issues from The Hump’s perspective. So I’ll very briefly summarise it in the knowledge that it’s open-access, and those with a better background can bypass my meanderings. Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Science | 4 Comments

More on mind and randomness

Just as Dennis Venema failed to reply to my serious questions about randomness on his BioLogos post in October, so also Darrel Falk abandoned any reply to my questions on his concept of randomness on his. Ones respect is bound to flag in the face of such determined non-interaction. Both propose a vaguely fuzzy idea that God can achieve his purposes through randomness, without saying anything specific either about what that randomness might be, or about the nature of God’s purposes. I conclude it’s yet another theistic evolution idea that depends on rhetoric rather than intellectual rigour, which is disappointing. Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Philosophy, Science, Theology | 28 Comments

Unswung heroes

I am gratified that what might have been seen as quite an opaque post  regarding the serious business of epistemology, and possibly a bit obscure regarding even its main subject music, should have hit the right buttons with some readers regarding humanness, holism and the limitations of analytic thinking. I’m especially gratified because, as usual with me, it takes the form of an analytic examination. To shake the foundations I should really have told you to listen to some piece of arcane jazz repeatedly until enlightenment came… something like the sound of one hand clapping in triple time, maybe.

This post is more of the same. No new insights, except to build on my exposition of the phenomenon of swing to show how – without any formal theory – the complexities can be applied in increasingly subtle ways to form the character of an entire piece of music. I hope your ears are tuned in. Continue reading

Posted in Music, Philosophy, Science | Leave a comment

It don’t mean a thing…

…if it ain’t got that swing

One of the recurrent themes on The Hump, which I’m trying to address from different directions, is the priority of mind within our reality, and hence the myth of objectivity apart from human ideas. That ranges from the mind-based metaphysics of Eddington or Dembski (coming from quantum and information science directions respectively), to the “personal knowledge” of Polanyi’s philosophy of science or the Goethian approach to knowledge. I’ve included the thought that contemporary science has an inevitable tendency to abstract reality into symbolic representations, most marked in the eliminative materialism that ends up rendering everything – even matter and the minds that conceive it – as an illusion.

But in truth it isn’t a fault of science that it’s theory-laden – it’s just a sign of the central importance of mind, which needs to be recognised more than it is. I’m reading some heavy stuff in philosophy of science at the moment about how not just science, but even ordinary perception, is theory-laden – we see nothing until we already have a concept of what we’re looking at. Maybe that’s to be written about at another time. At present, though, I want to illustrate the idea in a lighthearted way, together with some ear-candy, by taking a couple of posts to look at something that makes a difference to life’s daily reality, but is exceedingly hard to reduce to formal analysis, and that is the musical concept of swing. Continue reading

Posted in Music, Philosophy, Science | 14 Comments

Chance, providence and apostleship

I have a couple of posts in reply to Darrel Falk’s review of Alister McGrath’s book over at BioLogos. My entrée was to critique McGrath’s cavalier use of some of the writers I have dealt with here at length (though I should mention that the book has been on our own recommended list for a year or more). But underlying that I’m still rather mystified about what overall case is being argued, whether by McGrath of Falk. I may be obtuse, but it looks as though the New Revelation is that God’s planning and purpose might possibly work through the mechanisms of mutation and selection through the wonder of providence. If that’s so, it’s where I came in several years ago and what Calvinists and even Anglican Christian Socialists have said since at least Kingsley and Warfield’s time. Continue reading

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Evolutionary trajectory

A particularly zealous reader may recall that in my recent piece on the fossil record I raised a question, in passing: “…as an exercise, can you say what in Neodarwinian theory precludes a cyclical, rather than linear and branching, evolutionary process?” Despite claims like Koonin’s (2009) that there is no tendency to greater complexity in evolution, the most basic finding of palaeontology is the overall trajectory from simple (if that word means anything in biology) single celled organisms to, well, humans, or at least higher life-forms. Whether one calls it progress or not, what is undeniable is that it is a trajectory, or rather a branching series of trajectories, which is why it fits into the nested heirarchy model. Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Science | 49 Comments

The Pope, autonomy, internal law, freedom and autonomy (again)

Pope Francis’s statement on the Big Bang and evolution to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences was reported recently, but surprisingly there doesn’t seem to be a full translation of his Italian statement online. So, not speaking Italian, I had to use Google to translate the original if I was to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, rather than via the misleading press reports. Paradoxically, knowing that I was dealing with a poor translation has been a help in understanding the whole. Continue reading

Posted in Creation, Science, Theology | 6 Comments