- Science’s mediaeval assumption 14/12/2017
- Habit-forming methodological naturalism 11/12/2017
- Mightily Hands On 07/12/2017
- Distinguishing the sources of teleology 04/12/2017
- A Little Knowledge Is a Dangerous Thing: A Philological Note to a BioLogos Discussion 01/12/2017
Monthly Archives: August 2014
Over at BioLogos, President Deborah Haarsma has posted a column on ID/TE relations that is in some respects admirable, and certainly an improvement on many past things written about ID on BioLogos. Here I present in full my response to her column. I am publishing it here because it is rather long, and I suspect BioLogos may not want to publish such a lengthy piece in the comments section.
Jurassic Lark The Hump is likely to be post-lite this week, as I’m preparing to play two solo guitar sets at the Lyme Regis Folk Festival, at the heart of the Jurassic Coast, as well as leading the civic parade on sopranino sax, in pied-piper style. Don’t ask how that came about since I’ve hardly played folk since the mid 80s. It’s a bit like Pink Anderson or John Hurt being dragged out of their rocking chairs on the Mississippi Delta to play after decades, except that those guys were actually good. Anyway, if you happen to be there on Friday or Saturday, say “Hallo.”
While I was looking for suitable graphics to illustrate the mediaeval worldview for my recent series on the history of cosmology, I suddenly came upon this unfamiliar and completely off-the-wall conception, by one Cosmas Indicopleustes:
When Nicholas Copernicus first proposed his heliocentric model of the universe in 1543, it appears to have been primarily for the reason of returning astronomy to the Aristotelian ideal of perfect circles abandoned by Ptolemy’s equants, thus simplifying (and idealizing) the model. Though sources about his thinking are scarce, he was wedded enough to Aristotle still to consider the earth to be the lowest place in the universe, even though that was a problem for his cosmology: But the fact that Copernicus turned the earth into a planet did not cause him to reject Aristotelian physics, for he maintained that “land and water together press upon a single center of … Continue reading
Enter, stage left, the Great Chain of Being… This, an idea common to much ancient Greek philosophy, held that all that exists is linked in a continuous chain, or hierarchy, from top to bottom. As we saw in the last post such ideas had little impact on early Christian thought, which though interacting with philosophy was fundamentally biblical, and concerned with religious truth, leaving science to the scientists. Exceptions were writers like the mainly Platonist Origen (whose views were considered flaky as a result) and, notably, the heretical Gnostics.
The three Patristic writers most associated with cosmological considerations are Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria (c200-264), Basil of Caesarea, one of the Cappadocian Fathers (c329-379) and Maximus of Constantinople (c580-662). I shall concentrate most on Basil for my purposes here.
In June I did a post to show that ancient cosmologies, including that of Genesis, were not so much old-science, or even pre-science, as altogether indifferent to the physical and therefore a-scientific. It occurs to me it would be interesting to go on to show how cosmologies have changed over the millennia, and where we end up today. This has already helped me clarify issues in the science-faith discussion, so maybe it’ll give you some points to ponder as well.
I’ve not yet commented on the new project called The Third Way, but my recent mini-series of posts on natural selection seems a good reason to do so. It was launched this May by James Shapiro, Denis Noble and Raju Pookottil, and has already attracted some notable names from various fields, some of whose work I have read, including Eva Jablonka, Gerd Müller, Eugene Koonin, Stuart Newman and Robert Austin – 29 names in all at the time of writing.
This article is interesting. It seems AI computer boffs needed a better test than the Turing Test for Hard Artificial Intelligence, should it ever arrive, given the subjective and easily manipulable results of the Turing Test recently. The original publication is here. As you’ll see, the test involves demonstrating a computer outputting something that was not designed into it in the original program – and should that ever happen, the computer will be shown to be truly intelligent, according to those best qualified to say.
The 2009 Rescuing Darwin survey, to which I referred in a previous post, was linked to a long essay by Nick Spencer and Denis Alexander, both theistic evolutionists by persuasion. Their own spin on the survey results is evident from early on in their essay (and perhaps even in the project’s title):