Science

The Wrap Up – Part 2

My last post was five months ago.  You know, the one that I called “Part 1” and promised a “Part 2” follow-up post?

So, Seth, what gives?

Well… ever feel like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew?  Or that you have so much to say about something, but don’t want to publish a novel on your blog since no one would probably read it?  Yeah, I know the feeling.

So, check this out:  I make a promise to my readers to compile and discuss (in a single post, mind you) all the evidences that I believe exist for the Christian faith.  Yeah yeah, I hear you skeptics chuckling out there — I can hear you thinking, “Well, that should be a short article!”  Go ahead, have your moment… I’ll give you a minute or two to enjoy your cleverness…. (more…)

“God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?” by John Lennox

I owe you all an apology.  (No, it’s not for my long absence — I’ve been spending pretty much all my spare time with my son, and I have no regrets! 😀 )

I just finished reading this book about a week ago, and I highly recommend it.  However, it knocked me squarely on my butt and showed me an area about which I have been wrong for so long.  And I would like to apologize. (more…)

Microscopic Machines

It used to be that one could look at something that had the appearance of design and reasonably infer that it was probably designed. Now, it seems more in vogue to look at something that has the appearence of design and vehemently deny that it was designed at all. I’m as open-minded as the next guy, but I’m not so sure this new approach to inference is superior to the previous one.

Let’s look to biology, as a case in point. The appearence of design is apparent even to someone as metaphysically skeptical as Richard Dawkins, who wrote in The Blind Watchmaker:

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.

That’s all well and good, but I’m a visual person — so to illustrate this point further, I’ve corralled a couple of videos that illustrate just two of the functions our cells carry out every day: (more…)

Biological Conspiracy Theories

Hello again, all.  Apologies for being rather inactive these days — by way of explanation, I took another trip to visit my dad in Oregon (we’re trying to fit in as much family visits as we can before the baby arrives!), and I’ve been pouring my creative energies into various other projects; so I’ve had little impetus or time left over to blog, or at least to blog well.  Generally I prefer to wait until I have at least a snowball’s chance of putting out sound material rather than just merely keeping the ball afloat by throwing out garbage — if I do write garbage, I at least want it to be thoroughly well-thought-out garbage.

Today, though, I’m choosing to shrug off this analysis paralysis and work out an idea that’s been brewing for a little while.  It centers around this kick I’ve been on lately regarding Harmon’s idea about “inference to the best explanation,” and how that applies to competing theories to explain religious phenomena.  From my perspective, when it comes to personal experiences that seem, on a prima facie level, to be supernatural in nature, there are basically two main theories that attempt to explain what is actually going on:

  1. There is, in fact, a supernatural world that sometimes intersects and affects our material world, or
  2. Such experiences begin and end with the functions of the human brain, and can be best explained with methods such as pattern-seeking, confirmation bias, etc.

Drawing from my own experiences as a case study, I’d like to explore these two competing theories. (more…)

Appeals to Scientific Authority

Boy, you guys have been tearing it up in the discussion department lately!  It’s been a lot of fun spectating the various conversations, and interjecting a point here and there.  I love this sort of thing!  Thank you all for adding legitimacy to my blog by lending your time, efforts and points of view — and, above all, for keeping it civil (may this serve as a friendly reminder to all — I think a good rereading of this community’s ideals and guidelines would be beneficial for everyone) 😉

One of the things that has come up in these discussions seems to be the extent to which we should trust scientific authority.  The question was specifically brought up in the context of dating methods to determine the age of the earth.  After being posed the question by Ark, Nathanael replied with an explanation of his reluctance to trust the word of scientists when he hasn’t himself come to a reasonably coherent understanding of their methodology.  At one point he states: (more…)

Brain vs. Mind

In my discussion of A.I., I concluded that the matter of the idea of artificial intelligence’s compatibility with the Christian God really comes down to whether or not there is an immaterial “mind” apart from the material workings of the brain.  Not surprisingly, modern psychology on the whole takes the materialistic position (as it is essentially constrained to do, might I point out); the “mind/brain identity theory” — called elsewhere the “psychoneural identity” (PNI) theory — seems to be the pervasive current working assumption in the scientific community. Sam Harris (noted neuroscientist and one of the infamous Four Horsemen of New Atheism) seems to think there are good reasons for adhering to this materialistic premise — however, I find his reasoning rather circular, at least as presented here: (more…)

"A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God." - Alan Perlis

God and A.I.

Apologies for not updating in the last few days — writer’s block! To tell you the truth, this Meaning of Life series has become more arduous than I anticipated going into it, and when I sit down to write more about it I invariably get fed up and go do something else. Also, I guess my perfectionism is catching up to me; I have two decent drafts almost, almost ready to go, and as of now I just can’t find it in myself either to be satisfied with them or to make them satisfactory.

So, if you don’t mind, I’ll table that topic for now and come back to it later, with a fresh set of eyes.

Now, for today, I would like to discuss a topic that I had never really thought about before.  The question was posed by John (both in a comment on my blog and in a post of his own) about whether it’s possible to believe in both God and artificial intelligence.  To quote him:

… god-belief doesn’t seem compatible with the idea that we humans can build a living, conscious machine.

Isn’t that a fascinating concept??  I love this kind of stuff! (more…)