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Common Sense Science & PEG
F. Earle Fox
[COMMENT: The following was an email
I sent to two members of the Common Sense Science group
( www.commonsensescience.org ) Common Sense Science has opened up some new avenues for Personality, Empiricism, & God. E. Fox]
I read The Reality Oriented Mathematician, and was delighted again to find echoes of some of my own doubts some 40 years ago about the integrity of science as currently practiced. Here are some thoughts.
An issue raised is the corruption of science such as brought about through cooption by Big Government and by Big German Type Universities, with a freemarket of ideas badly subverted on all sides.
But I would trace the real problem to an even worse situation which was a large part of the response by many influential Christians -- along with and following the "rise of science" in the late middle ages. For various reasons, but the main one being, I think, a fear that an open, honest discussion might lead to the collapse of Christian faith. What if the evidence went against the Bible?
So Christians began systematically to alienate themselves from two of the crown jewels of Western Civ: science and politics (due process in civil law, the development of a limited government by a free people). Both jewels were the product of Christian culture, and their rejections were disasters for the Christian faith, community, and evangelism. We Christians began to privatize our faith, and withdrew (well, really got run from) the public arena over the 20th century. Our problem was that we began to see revelation and reason as opposed to each other, which effectively torpedoed our public witness. What rational person would want a revelation which was unreasonable? (There are plenty available....) The opposition of reason to revelation is not a Biblical stance (see http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/12The/Bbl/Bible&TruthSeeking.htm )
The Hebrews were not philosophical types who reasoned about reasoning (as did the Greeks), but they did know how to reason and how to produce and examine evidence in their own Hebraic way. It happens all through the Bible. God is constantly providing evidence for the people to believe what He is telling them. Jesus tells us that the truth will set us free. How can it do that if we are not honest truth-seekers -- which is what science is -- truth-seeking paying attention to the details, honed to a fine edge. Science is the way of the cross for the intellect: we give up our "right to be right", and let the truth and the Lord of truth speak for themselves. We must become truth-seekers before we can be honest position-defenders. Truth-seeking is then the royal road to God, and to true positions.
So, it might be said, we Christians led the way in the subversion of reason, logic, and empirical science. That is, we led the way in the very subversion of truth and truth-seeking to which St. Paul points in Romans 1:18.
I wrote Personality, Empiricism, & God for my doctorate in 1964, and (at long last) have been revising it for publication. It provides, I believe, an air tight version of the cosmological argument for God. Some of the issues Common Sense Science is addressing were raised there. The text of the first volume is finished (with the above title -- PEG) and is available at http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/EM/ShpMl/PEG/00PEG.htm for perusal until it is published, hopefully later this year. Volume II is Yahweh or the Great Mother?, which examines the two opposing basic worldviews in detail (Biblical and pagan), and then Vol. III, Science & Epistemology, which looks at the details of how science operates, necessarily in a Biblical fashion.
One of the things that bothered me years ago was the mathematizing of physics. Everything seemed to be disappearing into a welter of formulae, but my own math was not sufficient to make much comment on the matter. What they seemed to be looking for in the notion of a "unified field theory" I took to be something like one fundamental equation/definition which would unify all forces and thus explain from ground zero, as it were, all else that followed. A kind of ontological argument for the existence of the world. The existence of the world would be contained in its essence (definition = original theorem) .
I think the ontological argument does not work because it attributes causality to abstractions, which is an absurdity. It seems to me that the sought for Theory of Everything does the same thing. And indeed, the evolutionists are stumbling very hard over the notion of causality at all, as Dennis's article shows. They have no viable theory of causality so they want to eradicate it from consideration at all. That is nonsense. The two fundamental principles of any rational empirical discussion are the law of non-contradiction and the law of sufficient cause (for every event, there must be a cause sufficient to explain it). Without those two laws, there can be no rational empirical world. And thus no science.
The truth is that science arose only in a Biblically based culture, the only place it could arise, because the rise of science came, for the first time in history, out of the union of the Greek tools of logical thought with the unique Hebraic view of the empirical world as good and important. No other worldview anywhere in human history, so far as I know, said that or says it yet. The Biblical view is unique on that point (among others). The only place where the Hellenic tools of thought can be successfully used in the great issues of life is in the Biblical worldview, which alone says that the world is rational, orderly, good, and can be improved. No one else says that. Hence no science developed outside a Biblical culture.
The difference is unavoidable. It comes out the the Biblical definition of God: God is the creator ex nihilo of all else that exists, and is therefore the owner, lock, stock, and barrel of all that exists, and can therefore give the reason for the existence of all that exists. Reason for existence is the only logically consistent and complete basis for a moral order, which is why the pagan and secular worlds always descend into moral and political chaos. They have no capacity not to.
If interested, one can go to http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/EM/ShpMl/Law&Grace/00Law&Grace.htm for The Law & the Grace of God, which is my explanation for the moral and political uniqueness of Biblical culture. Including the uniqueness of Christ as Lord and Savior.
Dennis suggests the secularists want to eliminate causality to get rid of guilt. They also want to eradicate morality, not so noisily recently, but in a very determined way in the mid 20th century (psychologists such as Brock Chisholm leading the charge -- because morality was what created guilt complexes, he said. That figured also, by the way, in the Supreme Court decision in 1962 to outlaw prayer in schools and then Bible reading.). Pseudo-liberal Christianity fell for it, and created its own worse disaster, subjective truth and subjective morality, which is the same as no truth or morality at all. Chaos.
The secularists have no viable theory of causality, so, to cover their deficit, they have to get rid of even the idea of it. I try to show in PEG that the only rational notion of causality is that of personal causality. We all experience it because we all both do it and get the effects of other people doing their own causing. We intuitively know what a cause and an effect is. But the secularists cannot allow for a personal Deity to be a cause. That would interrupt their desire for political and sexual freedom (as Aldous Huxley admitted in one of his writings, early 1900's).
So, they have painted themselves into a corner and have no way out but to admit they have been terribly wrong. Their claim to a monopoly on science is collapsing right out from under them because they have exhausted their options for a replacement for personal causality. That might help explain their retreat into mathematics to do the explaining of causality for them. Very few have the mathematical capacity to challenge them, so they win by default with most people. They are the experts, aren't they??? So they live on the reputation for expertise, not on the reality of it. Again, hence their intransigent attitudes. Their sense of self-respect hangs on their reputations as scientists, the high priests of today.
I think Dennis is right that the secular people are trying to create their own religion to replace the Biblical one they have trashed. The secular world is intensely barren, and thus corrosive and hostile to personal relationships. So they have to invent some sort of meaning for themselves. Hence their inability to admit they can be wrong on anything, and their abandonment of honest science, which means open truth-seeking. But like every other idolatry, it betrays them into the very thing it promises to deliver them from.
Below is a quotation from PEG, which I just updated to take into consideration Dennis's thoughts on these matters. In the actual text there are footnotes to Common Sense Science, which I think is a significant resource for both scientists and philosophers of science. But the footnotes did not come through in the pasting into the email.
Ascension season blessings, Earle Fox
It has been popular among physicists of the last century to look for a "unified field theory", a theory which would unite the forces of nature under one law, or as some call it, a "theory of everything". Supposedly it would account for all that exists.
Contemporary secularized physics and cosmology, however, is running aground on its failure to produce (of all things) a notion of cause. That is a catastrophe for secular science.
Adamantly rejecting the kind of personal cause and effect given in these pages, that is, a personal God who is the cause of the world we inhabit, they have run out of other options, and seem to be relying on mathematics to produce for them the causal explanation for the world.
But mathematics is about abstractions, and purely mathematical theories cannot by themselves account for singularities such as the cosmological constants in the development of the cosmos or the development of life from a beginning to the present. Having a cosmic beginning at all is a problem, a primal and unexplainable singularity.
Mathematics cannot by itself produce a causal explanation any more than can the ontological argument for God -- and for the same reason: pure logic, pure possibility, cannot produce a causal explanation for anything at all. That is why Kantís dilemma remains unsolvable apart from a notion of causal possibility to work along side of logical possibility to explain the empirical world.
But God can, and does, produce a causal explanation. In place of the "theory of everything", we have the law of God which expresses His purposes for the whole of creation, a "law of everything". God has an original purpose, expressed in the two highest commandments, to love God and one another, namely to build with the entities to whom He has granted intelligent freewill a community of love. That is the "unified field theory" in the Biblical cosmology, the principle in terms of which everything else is governed -- by Him who is the cause of all things. God, the Intelligent Designer, creates the world along the lines of the "anthropic principle", forced on secular science by the data they themselves discovered, that the cosmos, or at least our part of it, appears to be designed for habitation by we humans. They have a hard time getting the word "God" out of their mouths, but there is no other option.
That principle of love is itself a singularity. God chose the law of love, it is not emerging logically out of some prior and immutable principle. Only the existence of a personal Cause of All Things who can make such choices, and thus account for singularities, can produce a workable "Theory of Everything".
Pursuit of these issues, however, and why neither purely mathematical nor random chance explanations can work will be more appropriate for Volume III of A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei, namely, Science & Epistemology (available hopefully in late 2013 or early 2014).
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Date Posted - 05/28/2012 - Date Last Edited - 07/07/2012