Boxing Pythagoras

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Archive for the category “Science”

WLC on Time, Part 5: More Mathematical Misconceptions

After my last installment of this series, I had thought that I would be done critiquing Dr. William Lane Craig’s misunderstandings of the science and mathematics regarding time. After all, I’ve already shown that his arguments in support of the archaic Tensed Theory of Time are unfalsifiable, fallacious, ill-conceived, and self-contradictory. What more could there be for me to say? Well, in this week’s Reasonable Faith Podcast, Dr. Craig gifts me with more of his misconceptions about time. Starting at the 13:15 mark and lasting through the rest of the podcast, Dr. Craig addresses a question posed to him about the implications of the Tenseless Theory of Time on the theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, which the questioner refers to as “the holy grail of atheism.” I’ll note that this questioner doesn’t seem to realize that even a great many devout Christians completely accept the veracity of Evolution by Natural Selection, and that it is no more an “atheist” theory than is the Pythagorean Theorem. However, the particular implications on evolutionary biology will take a back seat, today, to the more general implications which Dr. Craig claims are made by the Tenseless Theory of Time. Specifically, Dr. Craig asserts that nothing actually changes over time, on the Tenseless Theory. Read more…

WLC’s Time, Part 4: General Relativity

When I first began my discussion on William Lane Craig’s ideas about time, I framed it as a debate between two competing models. To briefly recap, Dr. Craig supports the Tensed Theory of Time, which states that events only become real as they occur and that, therefore, the future exists only in potentiality, not in reality. In contrast, he opposes the Tenseless Theory of Time, which asserts that all moments in time– past, present, and future– exist equally in reality, even though we only observe them at the present. In order to support his case, Dr. Craig has offered a genetic fallacy regarding Einstein’s personal philosophy, an assertion which falsely equates Lorentzian relativity with Einstein’s, and complete misunderstandings of the implications of quantum entanglement and the cosmic microwave background. In this fourth installment of this series, I am going to discuss the ideas which Dr. Craig presents about General Relativity, ostensibly as a means of supporting his Tensed Theory of Time.

Almost comically, William Lane Craig’s math and science illiteracy prevent him from realizing that all the evidence which he offers from General Relativity stands in direct and diametric opposition to the Tensed Theory of Time.

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WLC’s Time, Part 3: Bell’s Theorem, CMB, and the Aether Frame

Professional apologist William Lane Craig has made some very interesting claims about the scientific understanding of “time” in his published work. Most specifically, WLC thinks that Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity is wrong. In previous installments of this series, we’ve seen Dr. Craig laud Lorentzian relativity over Einstein’s model, and we’ve seen him attacking Special Relativity on the basis of Einstein’s verificationist philosophy. Today, I’ll move on to some of the more specific scientific claims that Dr. Craig makes in his book, Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time. Specifically, we’re going to look at Dr. Craig’s claim that Bell’s Theorem and the Cosmic Microwave Background are evidence of a preferred inertial reference frame in the cosmos, which I will hereafter refer to as the Aether Frame. If you are unsure what a “preferred inertial reference frame” means, I recommend reading my first post on Lorentzian relativity (linked above) for the details.

Unfortunately, WLC is once again, wrong.

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Does Science Disprove God?

Christian apologist Melissa Cain Travis has posted her thoughts on an article written by Dr. Amir Aczel entitled, “Why Science Does Not Disprove God,” a complement to his book of the same name. While Ms. Travis agrees with the thrust of the article, she finds some of its language to be a bit vague, and adds some commentary which she believes clarifies these issues. It is likely unsurprising that Travis, a Christian apologist, would agree with Aczel’s premise.

What may be more surprising to my readers is that I also agree: Science does not disprove God.

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Alexandria: The Most Important City in History

In 332 BCE, Alexander the Great’s incredible military campaign advanced on Egypt. As his armies moved in, the people there regarded Alexander as a savior, hailing him as the Son of the Most High God, and declaring him Master of the Universe. The young conqueror quickly fell in love with the country, and in the following year, he founded a new capital city: Alexandria-by-Egypt. From its very inception, Alexandria was created to be one of the most important cities in the world. Its ports became a prominent trade destination, in the Mediterranean, and its culture flourished and prospered from a mix of disparate peoples, religions, and philosophies, even at its onset. The Lighthouse of Alexandria was an incredible and beautiful building, standing over 400 feet tall, regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But, without a doubt, the most incredible and amazingly important feature of Alexandria was the Museum.

The Museum of Alexandria became, almost immediately, the center of knowledge in the ancient world. It was not a museum, in the modern sense, but rather more like a modern research university. Students went there to learn all they could about the sciences of the day, while the teachers and academics received state salaries to simply do research and increase the knowledge of Mankind. The Museum boasted an incredible library, one which would quickly become the largest collection of books in the Ancient World. A tradition was developed, in the city, whereby foreign visitors would allow any books which they brought with them to be copied, so that the Library’s stocks would continue to increase. Vast amounts of knowledge were developed and stored in Alexandria.

The Museum was destined to make Alexandria-by-Egypt the most important city in the history of the world. An inordinately large amount of our modern knowledge of mathematics and science is owed directly to men educated or employed by this institution. What follows are brief descriptions of just 16 such scholars.

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Dissecting “The Sacred Geometry Movie” (Part 1?)

Coincidentally, soon after I posted about Sacred Geometry and The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life, one of the most popular purveyors of pseudoscience on YouTube, Spirit Science, decided to release a movie one hour and forty-five minutes long discussing the subject. The film is, predictably, full of baseless assertions, nonsense, bad math, and dishonesty. In this post, I will be dissecting “The Sacred Geometry Movie,” showing once again that the supporters of Sacred Geometry haven’t got a clue what they are talking about.

Before we get into my analysis, here is the actual video. All of my timestamps will be referencing this.

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WLC’s Time, Part 2: Einstein the Verificationist

Originally, I had intended my first article on William Lane Craig’s Theory of Time to be a one-time affair. I stated the basics of my position, laid out my conclusions, and was ready to move on. My final thought, in the article, was that WLC’s Theory of Time is circular: he adheres to the Tensed Theory of Time due to his acceptance of Lorentzian Relativity, and he accepts Lorentzian Relativity due to his adherence to the Tensed Theory of Time. However, on his podcast released this week, Dr. Craig addresses a similarly founded accusation of circular argumentation which was given by a blogger who calls himself, “A Counter Apologist.” While the claim from A Counter Apologist deals specifically with the Kalam Cosmological Argument, he does so by addressing WLC’s Theory of Time as it conflicts with Relativity, in much the same way as my article approached the subject. In his response, Dr. Craig claims that his support of the Tensed Theory of Time is supported by more than just his preference for it, and that he has laid out his arguments for this in his published works. It occurred, to me, that perhaps I was being unfair. My first article was based on a seminar which I had seen Dr. Craig give, rather than on his books. Perhaps, in his written work, I would find that WLC provides greater support for the Tensed Theory.

I’m starting with the arguments presented in Dr. Craig’s book for the popular audience, Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time (Crossway, 2001).  If I don’t find this work convincing or satisfactory, I’ll try to continue into his more scholarly works on the subject, The Tensed Theory of Time: A Critical Examination (Springer, 2000) and The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination (Springer, 2000).

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Is Intelligent Design faith-based? A response to Melissa Cain Travis

Many people are aware of the debate which has been ongoing between naturalists and theologians since Darwin first published on his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Unfortunately, however, since it’s always the squeaky wheel which gets the grease, most people only ever hear about this subject in terms of science-denying Young Earth Creationists standing opposed to godless heathen anti-theist scientists. The truth is that there exists quite a spectrum of middle ground, on the subject. There are theists who keep strict separation of their scientific peanut butter from their theological chocolate, and there are atheists who believe that there does exist some metaphysical design to the universe. One such middle premise which has been gaining immense public popularity, in the last few decades, is the Intelligent Design movement. Proponents of Intelligent Design say that it is an open and objective scientific study based on the hypothesis that at least some of the complexity of the cosmos is better explained by the intercession of an intelligent entity than by blind, natural processes. Opponents say that it is just faith-based Creationism cloaked in a pseudoscientific cowl.

In her blog– Science, Reason, & Faith— a Christian apologist named Melissa Cain Travis responds to some critics of ID. According to Ms. Travis, these sources (which apparently include the Huffington Post) jumped on the fact that an Intelligent Design presentation was hosted by a church in order to claim that ID is therefore religiously motivated. Ms. Travis rightly corrects some non sequitur argumentation which she has perceived in these sources. However, I will contend that even with such correction, Melissa Cain Travis is wrong to claim that Intelligent Design is not a faith-based movement.

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Star Light, Star Bright

Stars are not just static, twinkling lights in the sky, as Mankind thought in antiquity. Stars are giant, dynamic balls of plasma, nuclear furnaces which are constantly changing and churning. Stars have a “life cycle,” much akin to what we find in organisms on Earth: they are born, they mature, they grow, and they eventually die. A star’s light is not just a constant, unchanging beam pointed at the Earth. Starlight tells a story. It communicates to us tales about the life of that star, every photon like one letter in a massive epic poem.

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Addendum to my Cosmos Review

In my previous post, I gave a short review of the first episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, the re-imagination of Carl Sagan’s beloved series which has been brought to us by host Neil deGrasse Tyson and producers Ann Druyan and Seth MacFarlane.  My initial impressions, immediately after watching the show, were incredibly positive.  It was visually stunning, well-written and directed, and highly emotional– in short, everything I could hope for in a new documentary designed to attract the general public to science.  While I remain ecstatic about the series, I need to revisit that first episode, as I have come to learn a few things. In my review, I referred to the Giordano Bruno segment as “particularly inspired,” because it educated the public about a lesser-known piece of history while serving to show that Cosmos would not shy away from offending religious sensibilities in its depictions of the universe.

I now have to retract that portion of my review.

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