Monthly Archives: December 2011

Maladapted to perfection

Darwinism in its original form was a theory to explain increasing perfection. Most of Darwin’s examples follow his original hero Paley’s pattern of the exquisite matching of form and function to lifestyle, only instead of attributing it to God’s wise design he redefined it as adaptation to the environment by natural selection. But then he was a naturalist, rather than a laboratory scientist.

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The right kind of science stopper

An Uncommon Descent blog buried in the Christmas rush drew attention to an article  in that august scientific journal, Harper’s Magazine, by Alan Lightman. It is essentially an overview of multiverse theory in physics, but makes the point that acceptance of the multiverse hypothesis renders science’s quest for ultimate causes meaningless: Dramatic developments in cosmological findings and thought have led some of the world’s premier physicists to propose that our universe is only one of an enormous number of universes with wildly varying properties, and that some of the most basic features of our particular universe are indeed mere accidents—a random throw of the cosmic dice. In which case, there … Continue reading

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Science, a qualified success

A couple of times recently I’ve read the virtues of science being touted in terms of its “success”. Most recently, this was a post by “Mandolin” buried in an old thread on Edward Feser’s blog, when the contrast was with the inutility of philosophy: Modern society cares not a whit about philosophy because philosophy hasn’t produced a single, solitary iPhone or computer or taxi or…well, anything for that matter. But before I read that , Ian Hutchinson’s 6th December BioLogos article, though mainly directed against scientism, justified science’s place in the sun thus: Here, my second answer is that science has a well-earned prestige and authority precisely because of its … Continue reading

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Of New Atheists and Brownshirts

This Evolution News and Views piece on Christopher Hitchens suggests that the penchant of New Atheists like Dennett to use invective where discussion might do was learned directly from the recently deceased Hitchens. If this is so, the appellation “brown shirts”, otherwise so apt, ought to be reviewed.

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Reality really is magic!

Richard Dawkins’ new children’s book, The Magic of Reductionism Reality has a really useful chapter on miracles. Dawkins bases much of his position on Hume’s argument against miracles:

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Contingency and the detectability of creation

I remember a cartoon in Punch many years ago (sadly all the cartoons in Punch were many years ago now), in which a sudden new display of stars in the night sky spelled out, in evenly spaced Roman capitals, “GOD IS DEAD”. The caption underneath read, “Official Humanist Miracle Declared.”

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The root of the debate?

Why do many atheists get so angry against both creation and religion? If it were the evidence alone, you’d expect a purely academic disagreement. It’s often stated in terms of the tyrannical history of religion, and yet that is characteristically either exaggerated or actually flies in the face of fact. Yet people like Coyne et al seem to hate God himself, even though they deny his existence. Here’s a quote from David Berlinski’s obituary on Christopher Hitchens: Christopher Hitchens found objectionable the very idea of a source of authority, and so of power, greater than his own. Is “autonomous naturalism” a recognised term?

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Threatened worldviews and their effects

Challenges to ones worldview assumptions usually come from exposure to a different culture. My assumptions about the place of talking about ones faith in medical practice received a jolt in the early nineties when I first read Richard Baxter’s 1650 spiritual classic The Saints’ Everlasting Rest.

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Christians and methodological naturalism (2)

However much Christians may agree or disagree with the writings of the late Francis Schaeffer, he had one thing absolutely right. And that is that we are called, as Christians, to submit every area of of lives to Christ, to further the end that all creation will eventually acknowledge his rule. Together with the more immediate end of being salt and light in the world. I picked up that revolutionary idea as a student, as a result of which I tried from the start to do my chosen career of medicine “Christianly”. That did not mean “fanatically”, but it meant taking the trouble to question how much of what I … Continue reading

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Christians and methodological naturalism (1)

Over on BioLogos I’ve been involved (possibly too much) in a couple of quite fruitful exchanges based on blog series appearing there about the sociology and philosophy of science. If I’d been aware of this two part essay by Alvin Plantinga I’d probably just have given the link and bowed out, since he makes virtually the same arguments as I did, only better. I’d like to say it’s a case of great minds thinking alike, but more likely I’ve just picked up the ideas through the filter of people who have read him more than I have.

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