Archive for the ‘Science’ category

Sovereignty and Science

27 June, 2006 EUTC

The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD. (Prov 16:33)

A few months ago I had a friend argue that if I believe in evolution, then I believe in something that was unguided, and that this would contradict my faith. In this post I would like to address that claim, and describe my position on God’s actions in nature. I am particularly interested in feedback on this post, as I try to develop my thoughts in this area.

First of all, saying evolution is unguided is in fact unscientific. While it is true that scientists sometimes make comments like that, eg. this statement, science cannot actually make such statements. In giving explanations of nature in terms of natural processes, it cannot comment on whether those processes may be caused by a supernatural entity. Sometimes scientists slip up and speak beyond what science can say, and sometimes they speak of their religious convictions (eg. Richard Dawkins), at which point they are not speaking scientifically. (more…)

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Science and the Supernatural

24 June, 2006 EUTC

An important issue in the intersection of science and religion is whether science should include supernatural explanations. A good post on this issue is What is Science? by Jason Rosenhouse at Evolutionblog. Jason starts by saying

Science is best viewed as an activity undertaken with a specific goal in mind. That goal is to understand the way nature works. We measure our understanding by the extent to which we can make nature’s phenomena predictable and controllable. Any investigative technique that brings us closer to this goal can reasonably be considered part of science.

All of the standard pieces of the scientific method we learned about in high school – experimentation, hypothesis testing, inductive reasoning and so forth – have their role to play in bringing us closer to our goal of predictability and control. By contrast, hypothesizing the actions of ill-defined supernatural entities such as ghosts or poltergeists do not help us move closer to our goal. Consequently, the actions of supernatural entities play no role in modern scientific discourse. The day someone finds a way to use such an hypothesis to bring clarity to some confusing aspect of nature is the day scientists will embrace the supernatural. (more…)

Electric Chair Problem

20 June, 2006 EUTC

Suppose there is a person who has been condemned to be killed by the electric chair, the first time it is being used. There are 2 components that need to be functioning correctly for the chair to work. The chair will fail to work if component A is tampered with by a sympathetic guard. Component B includes a number of switches that can be in any one of a huge number of configurations. There is 1 configuration for which the chair does not work. The configuration should be chosen at random so it could be in the safe configuration by chance, however a guard could select the safe setting if they were friendly to the condemned person.

Question 1. Suppose that you observed that the person was not killed by the chair, and when you checked, you found that component A had not been tampered with, but component B was in the safe configuration. Would this make you more confident that the guard was sympathetic?

Question 2. Does it make any difference if you were the person who was not killed by the chair, and who found that component A had not been tampered with, but component B was in the safe configuration?

Bonus Question. Why have I placed this post in the categories religion and science?

I promise I'll explain my view of the solution in due course; as the bonus question implies, the implications are greater than the hypothetical scenario might at first suggest.