Math From a Biblical Worldview?

A few weeks ago I spent a day at the Virginia Home Educators Convention in Richmond. These are the religious home schoolers we are talking about, meaning creationism was very well-represented indeed. Ken Ham gave several keynote talks. Yay!

I never got around to doing a proper write-up of the conference, but I do want to tell you about one of the talks I attended. It was called “Math From a Biblical Worldview?” Indeed, it was when I saw this talk advertised in the program that I knew I had to attend.

The speaker was Katherine Loop, author of a number of math education resources for home schoolers. She made it her task to refute the false and pernicious notion that our understanding of mathematics was independent of our views about God. She used a number of quotations to illustrate the basic problem, such as this one from physicist Heinrich Hertz:

One cannot escape the feeling that these mathematical formulas have an independent existence and an intelligence of their own, that they are wiser than we are, wiser even than their discoverers, that we get more out of them than was originally put into them.

“Where is he giving the glory?” she asked. After being greeted by silence she prodded us by emphasizing the phrase, “that they are wiser than we are.” A few people caught on at this point, but I was not one of them. Then came the dramatic answer. “To the math itself,” she said sadly, to grumbles of approval from the audience.

I would have thought Hertz’s statement, a straightforward expression of mathematical Platonism, could more plausibly be seen as supportive of God than as a repudiation of Him. Loop’s style of argument here is a commonplace of fundamentalist discourse. Omitting direct reference to God in some domain of human inquiry is treated as equivalent to rejecting Him.

After the talk I purchased a copy of her book Beyond Numbers: A Practical Guide
to Teaching Math Biblically.
As a math teacher myself I am always interested in novel
approaches to the subject, but much of what I found in Loop’s book struck me as very odd, to put it kindly. For example, in a chapter entitled, “Harm to the Heart,” Loop writes

I remember the confusion I felt as I entered high school. Math seemed like a big mystery to me. Why did math work? Where did math come from? My textbooks never really told me. I found myself memorizing rule after rule without really understanding how that rule came about. I began losing sight of the purpose behind learning math. How would I ever use exponents and algebraic division/graphing in my own life?

Had I understood the math was not neutral — that math merely records the order God created — math would not have been a mystery to me. I would have realized that the rules in math are merely ways of writing the complex principles by which God holds everything in the physical universe in place. Had my textbooks presented math biblically, they would have taught me how exponents and algebraic division/graphing are useful, God-given tools. They would have shown me that math has a meaning and a purpose.

The frustration of not understanding the reasons for a given mathematical rule is one known to all students of the subject, and I certainly agree that textbooks routinely do a poor job of explaining matters. That said, it is hard to understand what mystery encountered in a math class is resolved by invoking God’s handiwork. If you are theistically inclined you may view the general orderliness of the universe as a reflection of divine grace. You might find in this a satisfactory answer to the question of why there are effective mathematical rules at all. I am sure you will be shocked to learn I find that view a bit silly, but I do not care enough to make an issue of it.

But invoking God certainly will not tell you the reasoning behind the specific rules we use, or how those rules are applied in practical situations. I have been teaching college-level mathematics for over a decade, and during that time I have been asked a great many questions by confused and frustrated students. I cannot think of a single one to which it would have been helpful to reply, “Because God willed it to be so.”

This is merely an item. On virtually every page I found evidence of an overly simplistic understanding of mathematics. For example, she writes, “God’s faithfulness in holding this universe together ensures us that objects always add the same way and that the equation “1+1=2” will always work.” But the statement 1+1=2 is a logical truth. It is a consequence of the
definitions of numbers and addition, not an empirical discovery about the physical world.
Even God, after all, is subject to the laws of logic. To the old chestnut,
“Can God create a rock so heavy even he cannot lift it?” the standard reply is, “Even God cannot do what is logically impossible.” Likewise, even God cannot create a universe in which 1+1=2 fails to hold.

During the Q and A I asked her specifically if God could create a universe in which 1+1=3, but I do not think she understood the question. Interestingly, after the talk a man approached me. He introduced himself as a math professor at Liberty University. We chatted pleasantly for a few minutes. He mentioned to me that at Liberty they have annual meetings to discuss how to integrate a Biblical worldview (as they call it) into the curricula of their various disciplines. He told me that math tends to fly under the radar at these meetings, since no can really figure out how to combine math and the Bible. All in all, he did not seem any more impressed with the talk than I was.

Comments

  1. #1 Owlmirror
    July 27, 2010

    Loop is very appropriately named.

    “You have to presuppose that God makes math work because God makes math work, which we know must be true because God makes math work”.

    Bah.

  2. #2 Mal Adapted
    July 27, 2010

    I wonder what she makes of Pythagoras’s theology.

  3. #3 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 27, 2010

    I would have thought Hertz’s statement, a straightforward expression of mathematical Platonism, could more plausibly be seen as supportive of God than as a repudiation of Him. Loop’s style of argument here is a commonplace of fundamentalist discourse. Omitting direct reference to God in some domain of human inquiry is treated as equivalent to rejecting Him.

    Fundamentalist? Really, now. Not much of a picture of Christian theology going on there. The “reformed” and even many in the Arminian communities might have something to say about this. Abstract objects, when they exist eternally beside God, become uncreated equivalents. That presents a serious problem which Christian theology confronts.
    Unless, of course, you accept self-existing abstract objects. I wonder — what would be their origins in a naturalistic system?

    1+1=2 is a logical truth. It is a consequence of the definitions of numbers and addition, not an empirical discovery about the physical world.

    Hmmmm. Here’s a maxim: Everything is interpreted and facts never speak for themselves. What gives the “+” and “=” meaning? There is no identity to them other that what is assigned.

    During the Q and A I asked her specifically if God could create a universe in which 1+1=3 …

    Well, if it’s a question of transposing the identity of 3 in this universe over to that other universe …
    IOW, just like the Rock So Big question, it is malformed. You can do better.

  4. #4 Bing
    July 27, 2010

    I had a humdinger of a biblical-mathematical argument for the existence of god yesterday on my website. It was a beaut!

    http://hjhop.blogspot.com/2010/07/anonymous-geometry.html

    HJ

  5. #5 Rogue Epidemiologist
    July 27, 2010

    Why exactly do they need math to be biblical? I’m not understanding their reasons for believing there is an anti-ecclesiastical bias in mathematics.

    Are we going back to using cubits as a unit of measure?

  6. #6 Owlmirror
    July 27, 2010

    Unless, of course, you accept self-existing abstract objects. I wonder — what would be their origins in a naturalistic system?

    Why do logical truths need an origin? Are they superheroes or something?

    Here’s a maxim: Everything is interpreted and facts never speak for themselves.

    Your maxim is self-defeating, since by its own logic, it cannot possibly be a fact that speaks for itself. So it must be interpreted as being false; some facts do speak for themselves.

    Not everyone is as barking insane as van Til.

    What gives the “+” and “=” meaning? There is no identity to them other that what is assigned.

    They are human-made symbols that refer to that which is logically necessary.

    Unless you feel capable of demonstrating that quantities and the equivalence of the combination of quantities are themselves necessarily false or incoherent concepts. Please feel free to try; I would be fascinated to see the attempt.

  7. #7 Owlmirror
    July 27, 2010

    Why exactly do they need math to be biblical? I’m not understanding their reasons for believing there is an anti-ecclesiastical bias in mathematics.

    You’ll need to see a full explanation of presuppositionalism to understand the utter insanity of it all. Collin @# 3 hints at it.

    Basically, they presuppose that everything that exists that isn’t God was created, and that mathematical and logical truths are not God, and therefore even mathematical and logical truths wouldn’t be true if God hadn’t created them to be true.

    Oh, and using logic to demonstrate that their logic is flawed is therefore “stealing from God” because logic wouldn’t be logical without God making logic logical.

    And not mentioning that math and logic come from God is practically tantamount to denying God, since you have to presuppose that math and logic comes from God, pretty much because presuppositionalists say so.

    Yeah, ponder that for a while.

    Not all presuppositionalists go as far as presupposing that God made logic and math work, but that is definitely out there as a theological extreme. It’s more common than you might think, too. C. S. Lewis does a version of it, as do other religious apologists. And I think a form of it might be out there in the writings of medieval and classical era theologians.

  8. #8 Reginald
    July 27, 2010

    Hm. Looks like Voltaire was wrong when he said that there are no sects in geometry.

    Another nice article, Jason.

  9. #9 Elf Eye
    July 27, 2010

    For me what transformed mathematics from rote memorization was the notion that ‘mathematics’ is a language (or group of cognate languages) that one uses to make statements about relationships involving number, shape, area, volume, direction, and speed. The mathematical alphabet, so to speak, was a bit different from the one I used to write prose, but the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax of each mathematical dialect was as serviceable as those in any conventional language. This notion struck me one day when I was a freshman in college, and Saul on the road to Damascus could not have been more thunderstruck. I don’t think a deity was responsible for the revelation, though. I merely understood at last that the signs on the page were not arbitrary but did make meaningful statements about an immutable reality that was independent of what anyone–even a god–might wish to be true.

  10. #10 AnswersInGenitals
    July 27, 2010

    Sorry, but 1+ 1 = 0. And 2+ 2 = 1. All mathematical ‘truths’ are contingent when considered in a broader context or embedded in a more fundamental schema (such as congruences for the above examples).

    I wonder what she thinks of the mathematical theory of chaotic systems.

  11. #11 pough
    July 27, 2010

    I found the apparent meaninglessness in math frustrating, too. Until I took physics.

  12. #12 dean
    July 27, 2010

    That said, it is hard to understand what mystery encountered in a math class is resolved by invoking God’s handiwork.

    It simply allows people like her, who can’t understand the material, to write the reasons off as one of God’s mysteries, or perhaps a miracle.

  13. #13 Jason Rosenhouse
    July 27, 2010

    Reginald -

    Glad you liked the post!

  14. #14 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 27, 2010

    Why do logical truths need an origin?

    You don’t even understand the question.

    Some facts do speak for themselves.

    Name one.

    They are human-made symbols that refer to that which is logically necessary.

    Necessary for what? For the end created by the human-made symbols? Why is “=” ever necessary except in human communication?

    What is not incoherent about “=”, a “human-made symbol” (and concept) somehow transcending human human existence? Is it the product of a universal consciousness?

    No VanTil here. Try Roy Clouser for a crash course in Improving Your Epistemology. (The Myth of Religious Neutrality: An Essay on the Hidden Role of Religious Belief in Theories, Revised Edition.)

  15. #15 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 27, 2010

    I wonder if my comment will be approved?

  16. #16 david
    July 27, 2010

    You are cool. So is Skip Evans. I could not sit through nine hours of Kent Hovind. The shorter talk of Loop, not sure. I would need a mission to do it. I used to take my aging mother to Sunday School and Church and sit with her, sing, everything. I could hardly stand the stupidity, and hypocrisy, even in this “liberal” church. I had a strong desire at times to stand up and pin the speaker’s butt to the wall. I could have. Absolutely, and knew it. Never did, for her sake, she would have been ostracized. After a couple of years my brother replaced me. He lasted five years before he got sick and could go no longer. In anticipation of going back I understood “fear and loathing and the sickness unto death.” I walked in where angels fear to tread. Mission over, I can hardly stand to sit, so to speak, for more of that stuff without losing cool. Some funerals have been like taking a beating. I know you two are cool, and probably your readers.

  17. #17 Zach Voch
    July 27, 2010

    Ah… This is one of the old `big questions’ at work… “How can I force fit more Jesus into my work and teaching regardless of any legitimate reason to do so?”

  18. #18 Jim Harrison
    July 27, 2010

    You write, “even God cannot create a universe in which 1+1=2 fails to hold,” but your statement is untrue if by hold you mean applies. In fact 1 + 1 does not equal 2 in many cases in the real world. One gallon of water plus one gallon of alcohol does not make one gallon of fluid, and the equation is also a flop when you’re counting rabbits slowly.

    The bit about the unreasonable utility of mathematics seems plausible because we only consider the rare instances where math works. Same principle as an Italian military museum.

    On the other hand, I quite agree that mathematical Platonism is hardly favorable to theism. Granted the eternal reality of mathematical objects, why do we need to clutter things up with another bit of eternal furniture?

  19. #19 Erik Remkus
    July 27, 2010

    #17
    In your first example you commmitted the equivocation fallacy. Having one gallon of A and having one gallon of B is indeed equivalent to having two gallons. Mixing one gallon of A with one gallon of B is not equivalent to mixing two gallons. What you mean on the left side is completely different than what you mean on the right.

    Your second example is simply a non sequitur. If you had one rabbit and you had one other rabbit, then you had two rabbits. It is simply a textbook non sequitur to say that if you HAD two rabbits that you WILL have two rabbits.

  20. #20 Russell
    July 27, 2010

    It always puzzles me that there are mathematicians and philosophers who aren’t formalists in their view of logic. 2 + 2 = 4 for the same reason that the first player in tic-tac-toe can always win or draw. It’s simply a consequence of the formal system. Any implication drawn from a formal system to something outside itself requires some interpretive map. [i]Any[/i].

  21. #21 Jason Rosenhouse
    July 28, 2010

    Colin -

    Sorry your comment got sent to moderation. It has been posted.

  22. #22 Alan D McIntire
    July 28, 2010

    Your topic of math from a Biblical point of view reminds me of
    one of Martin Gardner’s “Dr Matrix” columns. It goes something like this:
    There’s a lively interest in mathematics in the King James Bible.
    Genesis 6.1- Men began to multiply

    They performed division- Genesis 15.10
    addition- 2 Peter 1.2 ,
    they learned how to “extract the roots thereof”- Ezekiel 17.9

    As for geometry,
    great rules were brought down- Psalms 136.17
    From Syracuse they fetched a compass- Acts 28.17
    And of course, Noah constructed an Arc.

    Paul was familiar with 4 dimensional geometry
    Ephesians 3.18-”May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;”

    As for abstract algebra, a matrix is mentioned in
    Exodus 13.12,

    Ezekiel thought “rings” were “dreadful”- Ezekiel 1.18

    and Jesus had a low opinion of those who “seeketh after a sign”- Matthew 16.4

  23. #23 Owlmirror
    July 28, 2010
    Some facts do speak for themselves.

    Name one.

    That which is true is true.

  24. #24 genesisgirls
    July 28, 2010

    what a fascinating conversation!
    i am in the process of reading katherine loop’s book with my daughter in hopes that i may learn with her how to glorify my Creator through the study of mathematics…
    it is so interesting to me the intellectual gymnastics that take place when one is insistent on a pure rejection of our Savior~
    i wonder, when you are alone at nite, or faced with mortal fear…to whom (or what) do you turn?
    your philosophy of this or that? your ‘interpretation’ of the origin of a thing – or the necessity thereof?
    Almighty God is the Creator of ALL things!!!
    therefore math is merely yet another way that we may glorify Him through our contemptibly small, meager understanding of His glorious Creation!
    He has endowed us with the gifts of forms of worship…
    you should be grateful for those He has made to shine that we may glean the Truth!
    God Bless You!

  25. #25 Jason Rosenhouse
    July 28, 2010

    genesisgirls -

    i am in the process of reading katherine loop’s book with my daughter in hopes that i may learn with her how to glorify my Creator through the study of mathematics…

    Good luck with that. Personally I am satisfied when I can get my students to do the problems right. Your ambitions are loftier than mine.

  26. #26 Owlmirror
    July 28, 2010

    it is so interesting to me the intellectual gymnastics that take place when one is insistent on a pure rejection of our Savior

    Your presuppositionalism is noted.

    i wonder, when you are alone at nite, or faced with mortal fear…to whom (or what) do you turn?

    It’s interesting that you phrase it that way. God is basically your teddy bear or security blanket?

    Are you really not capable of imagining that someone feels no need for a teddy bear?

    Almighty God is the Creator of ALL things!!!

    I find the faith you put in your teddy bear astounding.

  27. #27 Richard Wein
    July 28, 2010

    @Jim Harrison

    You write, “even God cannot create a universe in which 1+1=2 fails to hold,” but your statement is untrue if by hold you mean applies. In fact 1 + 1 does not equal 2 in many cases in the real world. One gallon of water plus one gallon of alcohol does not make one gallon of fluid, and the equation is also a flop when you’re counting rabbits slowly.

    I’m sure that’s not what Jason meant, but you raise a good point.

    I expect that, as a mathematician, Jason is interpreting 1+1=2 as an abstract statement within a formal system. And I think that’s how most people would normally interpret it, even if they don’t fully understand that that’s what they’re doing. But it’s not unreasonable to interpret it as meaning “if you take one object and another object then you’ll have two objects”. This is a very different sort of statement, a statement of empirical fact.

    Given that Jason was treating 1+1=2 as an abstract statement within a formal system, and not as a statement of empirical fact, it does seem odd for him to talk about it holding or not holding in different universes. On the other hand, if you interpret 1+1=2 as meaning “if you take one object and another object then you’ll have two objects” (or something like that), then it’s not always true even in this universe, and perhaps we can imagine a very strange universe where it’s never true.

    I would say that 1+1=2 (in the abstract sense) arises from the formal system of arithmetic that humans have devised because they found it useful. As a formal system it’s a logical construct that has no dependence on any empirical facts. In some other universe it might be less useful, though I find it hard to imagine a universe where intelligent beings (capable of devising such systems) could exist but where our arithmetic would not be at all useful. In any case, even if intelligent beings in some other universe had no reason to devise our system of arithmetic, that doesn’t change the fact that within our system of arithmetic 1+1=2 necessarily arises. This is true regardless of any empirical facts, including which universe we happen to be located in.

    I would add that empirical facts (like the fact the Earth is round) and abstract mathematical facts (like 1+1=2) are very different types of fact. I think one might even reasonably suggest that it’s misleading to use the same word, “fact”, to describe both.

    P.S. Are you saying that if you mix one gallon of water with one gallon of alcohol the resulting mixture has a volume other than two gallons? If so, that’s something I wasn’t aware of.

  28. #28 rijkswaanvijand
    July 28, 2010

    @18 That’s why we add 1 Mol of water to 1 Mol of alcohol..

  29. #29 rijkswaanvijand
    July 28, 2010

    @24 You shouldn’t be allowed to raise kids!

  30. #30 Galwayskeptic
    July 28, 2010

    @genesisgirls, it seems almost pointless to respond to comments as ignorant as yours. However, the lies you’re telling your child compels me, as it does so many others, to point out your stupidity. The ‘mortal fear’ you feel at night is a product of your religion. I sleep quite soundly at night. It’s a pity your good, christian conscience isn’t in any way disturbed by you instilling ‘mortal fear’ in your credulous, impressionable child.

    Incidentally, how are your beliefs in any way reinforced at scienceblogs? Most bloggers and commentators attack the kind of practices you engage in, relentlessly. Is your comment just a stink bomb, designed to disgust and depress the majority of the people who post here? What are you learning from your participation in scienceblogs?

  31. #31 dg
    July 28, 2010

    Something tells me that when “Collin Brendemuehl” is filling up his 50 gallon bathtub at a rate of 5 gallons-per-minute, he remembers to turn the water off before ~10 minutes goes by.

    Or is “mildew” just an incoherent, human-made concept?

  32. #32 Richard Wein
    July 28, 2010

    After some further thought I’d like to put things a bit differently. I think arithmetic is both:

    1. An abstraction from the physical world, so 1+1=2 represents a certain set of empirical facts about the world, such as the fact that if I have one cow and you give me another cow I’ll then have two cows (in the absence of other factors, such as the first cow dying or giving birth in the meantime).

    2. A formal system having nothing to do with the physical world.

    This particular formal system was chosen (unconsciously) because it corresponded to a large and useful set of empirical facts.

    Russell wrote:

    It always puzzles me that there are mathematicians and philosophers who aren’t formalists in their view of logic. 2 + 2 = 4 for the same reason that the first player in tic-tac-toe can always win or draw. It’s simply a consequence of the formal system. Any implication drawn from a formal system to something outside itself requires some interpretive map. [i]Any[/i].

    Yes, but “2+2=4″ is a human utterance (spoken, written or thought) and as such can be more than just a symbolic representation of a consequence of a formal system. As a human utterance it can have a broader meaning, with real-world significance. It can be an abstract expression of a certain sort of relationship among real-world objects.

    People didn’t invent arithmetic as a formal system and then go looking for real-world applications. It was surely the other way around. I expect that arithmetic started (and still starts in children) with people counting physical objects and noticing a consistent pattern in the number of objects that remain after removal or addition of objects. Over time this pattern would become systematised in their minds, and eventually develop into more formal arithmetic. But the real-world associations remain intertwined in people’s minds with the formal system.

  33. #33 eric
    July 28, 2010

    Colin @3:

    [Jason] 1+1=2 is a logical truth. It is a consequence of the definitions of numbers and addition, not an empirical discovery about the physical world.

    [Colin] Hmmmm. Here’s a maxim: Everything is interpreted and facts never speak for themselves. What gives the “+” and “=” meaning? There is no identity to them other that what is assigned.

    Jason isn’t talking about symobol choice – the question is about the relationship between the concepts however you choose to denote them. Could God make one added to one not equal two, using whatever symbols you want to denote one, two, addition and equality?

    I’ve yet to hear any affirmative answer that makes sense. I’ve also yet to understand why people like Ms. Loop find the negative answer (that God could not change this relationship) disturbing.

  34. #34 eric
    July 28, 2010

    genesisgirls @24:

    therefore math is merely yet another way that we may glorify Him through our contemptibly small, meager understanding of His glorious Creation!

    Might I humbly suggest that the first step towards improving your child’s skill and interest in math might be to drop the “contemptibly small, meager, understanding” bit? Discouraging your student by telling them how little they will be able to understand the subject is generally not a good way to start.

  35. #35 Mu
    July 28, 2010

    Wait till genesisgirl finds out half the math was found by Greek pagans or Arabian Muslims.

  36. #36 Monado
    July 28, 2010

    I found Isaac Asimov’s and George Gamow’s books on mathematics very helpful in beginning to understand how math connects to logic and reality. I got a glimpse of the lower foothills of the beauty of math.

  37. #37 Monado
    July 28, 2010

    Genesisgirls: The contortions are yours in trying to shoehorn your deity into real life.

    Mathemetics, as a series of abstract concepts, was mysterious to most people. In the Middle Ages, after calculating the elevation of a cannon’s barrel to send a shot at a target, the gunner would murmur “Deus vult,” “God willing,” as a prayer that the contraption and the math would work this time. I would have thought that this practice had been dropped by now.

  38. #38 Jim Harrison
    July 28, 2010

    One gallon of water plus one gallon of alcohol make about 1.92 gallons of fluid.

  39. #39 Derek
    July 28, 2010

    Actually, there are perfectly valid logical systems where 1+1=0.

    Mathematics starts with a set of assumptions of what you assume to be true, and then moves forward with what else can be shown true from these initial assumptions. All mathematics begins with a set of assumed true axioms which are unproveable in the defined system.

    Mathematics has nothing to say about God. It is universal only in the sense that if we all agree on the same set of rules we will all reach the same conclusions.

  40. #40 Shmice
    July 28, 2010

    She is fundamentally wrong. It just doesn’t add up.

  41. #41 Zachary Smith
    July 28, 2010

    Genesisgirls,

    Exactly what does whom we turn turn to at night have to do with mathematics?

    “Intellectual gymnastics”? Please. Read your own words. Seems to me you’re quite good at extreme contortions to find a purpose for your god.

    His gifts to us are “forms of worship”? What, he gives us the ability to tell him how great he is? Does he really need to hear this from us? If a husband or boyfriend behaved in such a manner, you’d dump him in a heartbeat. Your god is a psychopath.

  42. #42 rork
    July 28, 2010

    Loop: “I found myself memorizing rule after rule without really understanding how that rule came about.”
    Rosenhouse: “The frustration of not understanding the reasons for a given mathematical rule is one known to all students of the subject…”

    Memorizing rule after rule – that’s anti-math.
    Every student of math should ask “why’s that?”.
    If your students do not do that when you say square root of 2 is irrational (or whatever), that is horrifying.
    I’ll save the deep philosophy til we get past the simple stuff.

  43. #43 eric
    July 28, 2010

    @38: As @28 said, that’s why we use moles.

    After doing chemical experiments like the one you descibe, chemists reasoned that if the math is correct, then volume must not be equivalent to number. That conclusion turned out to be exactly right. If one were into theological meanderings, one might say that chemists made significant progress by assuming even God could not change the relationship between units and then extrapolating what else might be going on.

  44. #44 Tacroy
    July 28, 2010

    My textbooks never really told me. I found myself memorizing rule after rule without really understanding how that rule came about … Had my textbooks presented math biblically, they would have taught me how exponents and algebraic division/graphing are useful, God-given tools.

    I love this. “I didn’t understand math because it was too arbitrary; however, once I ‘learned’ that it was both arbitrary and from God, it all made sense”.

    Apparently, arbitrary rules make more sense when they come from God than when they just are. Who would have guessed?

  45. #45 stvs
    July 28, 2010
  46. #46 Rob Jase
    July 28, 2010

    All these posts on biblical math & no one has yet mentioned that according to the inerrant book pi=3.

  47. #47 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 28, 2010

    That which is true is true.

    And you know truth without assessment of truth value?
    Really, now.
    Without an interpretive agency there is no “+” or “=”.

    Jason isn’t talking about symbol choice – the question is about the relationship between the concepts however you choose to denote them. Could God make one added to one not equal two, using whatever symbols you want to denote one, two, addition and equality?

    And those concepts exist outside of human interpretation?

    His question is this: Can God make “2=3″, and even more specifically, can God make “2 = !2″. It is, again the same as the Rock So Big question. It is a childish malformed argument.

    All these posts on biblical math & no one has yet mentioned that according to the inerrant book pi=3.

    Again, we go to the “encyclopedic fallacy”. The Bible is not a math book and gives the approximation of what we call “pi”. That approximation is not “error” — it is approximation. Do you say that the sun rises and sets? Yes. Those are approximations based on a proximal observation.
    No error. Just a failure to grasp language and lash out stupidly.

    Irreligion
    One of the worst books I’ve ever read. more logical fallacies than are ever needed for any logic class.

  48. #48 Pen
    July 28, 2010

    My… God?? What were you doing there, Jason??? And here I thought these people’s activities were limited to removing the magical people from Saxon Math problems and replacing them with Biblical characters!

    For those who don’t know: It seems some of my fellow homeschoolers of the Christian persuasion don’t like stuff like “If 3 pixies made 45 fairy cakes each…”. “If the sons of Noah shoveled 45 tons of animal dung each…” is so much more, errrm, biblical.

  49. #49 SLC
    July 28, 2010

    One of the more interesting results of mathematics is, IMHO, the mathematical underpinning of many of the conservation laws of physics. For instance, conservation of linear momentum, angular momentum, and energy can be shown to be a consequence of the invariance of the laws of physics under certain types of coordinate transformations (e.g. the Poincare Group T4XSL2(C), where X denotes the semi-direct product of the translation group T4 and the Lorentz Group SL2(C)). Thus, conservation of linear momentum, angular momentum, and energy are equivalent to the invariance of the laws of physics under static spacial translations, static rotations, and static time translations respectively.

  50. #50 Owlmirror
    July 28, 2010

    And you know truth without assessment of truth value?

    Your question is very confused.

    Are you saying that you can assess a truth value without truth existing?

    Without an interpretive agency there is no “+” or “=”.

    I wasn’t discussing addition… but including the latter is incoherent.

    A thing would not even be equivalent to itself without “an interpretive agency”?

  51. #51 Owlmirror
    July 28, 2010

    His question is this: Can God make “2=3″, and even more specifically, can God make “2 = !2″. It is, again the same as the Rock So Big question. It is a childish malformed argument.

    Right. It’s “malformed” because not even God can do the logically impossible. Which is what Jason wrote in the first place.

    PS: Speaking of “malformed”, you keep on mangling your blockquotes. Can you use preview before posting?

    Again, we go to the “encyclopedic fallacy”.

    So you agree that biblical inerrancy is a fallacy?

    The Bible is not a math book and gives the approximation of what we call “pi”. That approximation is not “error” — it is approximation.

    It’s an “approximation” that is more in error than that calculated by the nearby Babylonians and Egyptians, centuries earlier.

    Of course, it is only logical that a non-existent God cannot inspire his scribes and prophets with a more accurate approximation, let alone inspire them to pay attention to those people who had calculated more accurate approximations.

    No error.

    Actually, an error of 4.5%. Approximately.

    4.5% is a greater error than the ~0.5% of the Babylonian and Egyptian approximations.

    Irreligion
    One of the worst books I’ve ever read. more logical fallacies than are ever needed for any logic class.

    He shows that theological arguments are all logical fallacies, and that makes it a bad book?

    Well, perhaps the cognitive dissonance gave you a headache.

  52. #52 Galwayskeptic
    July 28, 2010

    Colin’s arguments reek of intellectual masturbation. This is (and I hesitate to capitalise, but the emphasis is required) SCIENCEblogs! Your language is obscurant and seeks to prevent a critical analysis of your arguments. You’re in love with bullshit. It doesn’t make you sound clever, nobody here is impressed. We’re too used to religious apologists firing jargon at us in an attempt to lend validity to their arguments. You clearly have no grasp of mathematics, your opinions/arguments/bullshit is lifted straight out of ‘the creationist’s guide to sounding clever’. *Yawn*

    If you have a valid point, make it. Preferably without jargon and philosophical wankery. That is all. Good day.

  53. #53 Tyler DiPietro
    July 29, 2010

    “And those concepts exist outside of human interpretation?”

    You’d have to have one very strange epistemology to claim that mathematical operations like addition, multiplication, induction, etc. don’t occur outside of human interpretation. They occur all over the place, without the need of minds of interpret them.

    “Again, we go to the “encyclopedic fallacy”. The Bible is not a math book and gives the approximation of what we call “pi”. That approximation is not “error” — it is approximation.”

    It’s an exceedingly poor approximation that will give hugely erroneous results if one attempted to, for instance, build an arch using it. The inerrant word of God can do better.

  54. #54 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 29, 2010

    He shows that theological arguments are all logical fallacies, and that makes it a bad book?

    My review is on Amazon. If you really think the Flying Spaghetti Monster is sound criticism, go for it. Generally speaking, he only attacked those portions of Christianity which he had any knowledge of. He didn’t do his homework and look into various other fields of apologetics.

    You’d have to have one very strange epistemology to claim that mathematical operations like addition, multiplication, induction, etc. don’t occur outside of human interpretation. They occur all over the place, without the need of minds of interpret them.

    Really?
    If you say that two rocks colliding to form a larger rock is abstractly the same as the assessment employed in drawing a conclusion such an observation … hmmm. I don’t think so. The “=” is not what happens; “=” is an assessment of what happens. That is why it is interpretive.

    It’s an exceedingly poor approximation that will give hugely erroneous results if one attempted to, for instance, build an arch using it. The inerrant word of God can do better.

    The Bible is not a math book. It is not book on construction. Read the passage.

  55. #55 Richard Wein
    July 29, 2010

    @53

    And those concepts exist outside of human interpretation?

    You’d have to have one very strange epistemology to claim that mathematical operations like addition, multiplication, induction, etc. don’t occur outside of human interpretation. They occur all over the place, without the need of minds of interpret them.

    I think there’s some talking at cross-purposes here. Collin mentioned concepts, not operations.

    I would say that every possible concept exists in an abstract (potential) sense. But only certain concepts have actually been employed by humans.

    Even having switched the subject to mathematical operations, I’m not sure I would agree with you. But I’m not clear what you mean. When an animal is born, for example, there is an increase in the number of individuals in the species, and you could call that an “addition” to the species. Would you call that event a mathematical operation? If so, I find that a very strange usage. I would say you’re conflating events with representations of those events.

    I would say that a process must at least involve some purposeful element to count as a mathematical operation. Consider the cicadas who only appear every 17 years. Presumably they’ve evolved some mechanism for counting the passage of time and triggering an event when a certain amount of time has passed. You could perhaps call the operation of that mechanism a primitive mathematical operation, because it’s using one quantity to represent another. Contrast this with tree rings, which incidentally record the passage of time but are not used by the tree for this purpose. I don’t think one can reasonably call the growth of tree rings a mathematical operation.

    However, even the cicada case lacks a major element of abstraction that is present in symbolic mathematics. The cicada presumably has some structure that represents the amount of time passed, but it cannot use that structure to represent anything else. Numbers and other mathematical symbols can generally represent all sorts of different physical quantities.

  56. #56 eric
    July 29, 2010

    Richard,
    I think you’re being charitable. Colins arguments may be somewhat opaque but the point he’s defending was in his first post: “Everything is interpreted and facts never speak for themselves.” He’s a creationist, so the point he’s driving towards is probably the old saw that his biblical interpretation of the facts is just as valid as mainstream science’s.

    In the context of this post, he’s wrong twice over. Math does speak for itself because the conclusions follow deductively from the definitions of the terms. There is no way to merely interpret 1+1=2 differently using the same “facts” (i.e. definitions). If you want to end up with a different conclusion, the only way you can do so is by changing the definitions – changing the facts -themselves. So his argument is simply wrong when it comes to math.

    Thats the first wrong. The second wrong is the standard one – that the presence of different interpretations does not mean all of them are equally good. Some interpretations of facts are more wrong than others.

  57. #57 david
    July 29, 2010

    Addressed to esteemed commenters and Jason,

    To think that two and two are four
    And neither five nor three,
    The heart of man has long been sore
    And long tis like to be.

    Starting with “understanding math”, definitions are in order, of both terms.

    Exactly when have you understood math (whatever math is)? When there are no enigmas left? Or is it when you can work all the problems in the text and get the answer of text and teacher? I suspect this latter is Loop’s goal, a few proofs thrown in, not to do but to copy.

    For the second term, a check of Dagobert Runes’ Dictionary of Philosophy reveals at least five definitions of mathematics. None by slouches, Frege, Russell, Hilbert, Heyting, Mill, Helmholtz, and Messieurs “widely held” and “contemporary.” VNR encyclopedia assumed to have more.

    Yet, the problem of a Biblical “understanding mathematics” is none of that, anymore than the problem of eating is what brand of stove to buy. I think their problem is copycat thinking, problem held by the majority of mankind. Propositions and theorems are foreign to these Bible advocates. Loop anticipates that objection and cuts it off, supposedly, by claiming that “reasons” are just what they are seeking. Then she adds the reason for the reasons is God. Clever argument though faulty. The student, however, is still back on trying to repeat what was on the board, or give up.

    Now if Loop can get the students to pass from repeat learning to propositions, theorems and proofs, by bringing in the motivator of a reference to God, power to her. Discarding the repeat method is more important for the student than how it is done. The objections will come to the reformed student later, as they did to Stendahl, taught by a priest, but who noticed that the third quadrant negative numbers did not belong there as explained without reason, they were something else, which led to his atheism. (La Vie de Henry Brulard)

    Repeat method of learning math can work all the way through derivative and integral calculus for engineers at some universities. So the doctrine that the concepts of mathematics are empirical and experimental truths comes into practical play, or not. Take your choice.

    “Doctrine” is Runes’ word. The definitions of mathematics are doctrines. The assertions in some comments, so confidently given as if facts, simply reflect what the some have been taught and the doctrine they believe. They are not facts but beliefs.

    So am I contradicting Jason too by arguments on definition, experience, and doctrine? I’m no suivist. I looked closely. But which definition to adopt is beyond my time or care, and Jason avoids asserting a definition at all though grazes one with “logic,” as against intuitionism. He writes of the defects in Loop’s plan.

    So what do I believe? You have it in the little ditty by A. E. Housman, atheist, at top.

  58. #58 Owlmirror
    July 29, 2010

    In the context of this post, he’s wrong twice over. Math does speak for itself because the conclusions follow deductively from the definitions of the terms. There is no way to merely interpret 1+1=2 differently using the same “facts” (i.e. definitions).

    He’s not just wrong, he’s also contradicting himself. His argument @#47 takes it as self-evident that quantities are invariant, and equivalences between the same quantities are necessarily true and equivalences between different quantities are necessarily false.

  59. #59 Owlmirror
    July 29, 2010

    The Bible is not a math book. It is not book on construction.

    Are you going for “inerrancy” via apophatic assertions? The Bible is also not a history book, or a book on cosmology, or geology, or biology, or physics, or hydrology, or nutrition, or medicine, or ethics, or anything at all, really. Since the Bible isn’t actually about anything, it can’t be false. QED.

    Except, of course, when it suddenly is about something, and you’re all proud and stuff. Nineveh is real! The Bible mentions Nineveh, so the Bible is about Nineveh, and Nineveh is real, so the Bible is right about Nineveh. But all that stuff that the Bible is still not right about? Oh, the Bible was never about any of that stuff in the first place.

    Doublethink. Pfeh.

  60. #60 AL
    July 29, 2010

    In fact 1 + 1 does not equal 2 in many cases in the real world. One gallon of water plus one gallon of alcohol does not make one gallon of fluid, and the equation is also a flop when you’re counting rabbits slowly.

    Yes, one gallon of alcohol plus one gallon of water does not yield two gallons of ghetto wine, but there do exist mathematics that describe fluid mixture volumes. Your example doesn’t really refute the point that 1+1 indeed is 2. Math is abstract, and the point of abstraction is to IGNORE non-abstract details such as gallons of some fluid, and consider only the properties of the numbers themselves. In this sense, oneness added to another bit of oneness yields twoness. That is a mathematical truth in all conceivable universes so long as you don’t redefine what those quantities mean.

  61. #61 Jim Harrison
    July 29, 2010

    I’ve got no problem with the formal validity of 1 + 1 = 2 as a statement that can be derived from the Peano axioms. But I wasn’t talking about formal validity. Our host had written that “even God cannot create a universe in which 1+1=2 fails to hold.” I simply pointed out that this statement is untrue “if by hold you mean applies.” In real-world situations, 1 + 1 simply doesn’t always equal 2; but then, by themselves, mathematical proofs never tell you anything about the real world.

  62. #62 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 29, 2010

    to multiple posters:

    I think you’re being charitable. Col[l]in[']s arguments may be somewhat opaque but the point he’s defending was in his first post: “Everything is interpreted and facts never speak for themselves.”

    Well, at least you can follow a thread.

    He’s a creationist, so the point he’s driving towards is probably the old saw that his biblical interpretation of the facts is just as valid as mainstream science’s.

    Not one bit. All I’m doing is confronting the incoherence of abstract objects. A simple question remains: In a wholly material universe, how do abstract concepts exist without an interpretive agency to determine and assess their existence and value. Seems a fair question.

    For the second term, a check of Dagobert Runes’ Dictionary of Philosophy reveals at least five definitions of mathematics. None by slouches, Frege, Russell, Hilbert, Heyting, Mill, Helmholtz, and Messieurs “widely held” and “contemporary.” VNR encyclopedia assumed to have more.

    Yet, the problem of a Biblical “understanding mathematics” is none of that, anymore than the problem of eating is what brand of stove to buy.

    I suspect that you might be confusing a discussion of function vs a discussion of ontology.

    He’s not just wrong, he’s also contradicting himself. His argument @#47 takes it as self-evident that quantities are invariant, and equivalences between the same quantities are necessarily true and equivalences between different quantities are necessarily false.

    Not at all. I’m not question value at all, but just what gives value. Value is ascribed by an agency.

    Are you going for “inerrancy” via apophatic assertions? The Bible is also not a history book, or a book on cosmology, or geology, or biology, or physics, or hydrology, or nutrition, or medicine, or ethics, or anything at all, really. Since the Bible isn’t actually about anything, it can’t be false. QED.

    Like Jason in many posts before this, you have no, or a wholly inadequate, understanding of language, culture, and textual criticism. Did you see the sun rise?

  63. #63 Wowbagger
    July 29, 2010

    Like Jason in many posts before this, you have no, or a wholly inadequate, understanding of language, culture, and textual criticism.

    Failing to accept sophistry invented as a post hoc rationalisation to cover inadequacies ≠ a lack of understanding.

    Instead of choosing to misconstrue rejection as misunderstanding, why not ask Owlmirror some objective questions on these topics to measure what understanding he has – like how many languages he reads/speaks, or which books on the topics he has or hasn’t read?

    Did you see the sun rise?

    Do you know the world didn’t begin last Thursday?

  64. #64 Owlmirror
    July 29, 2010

    I’m not question value at all, but just what gives value. Value is ascribed by an agency.

    I have no idea what this means.

    Do you or do you not agree that a single thing is equivalent to itself, and would be equivalent to itself regardless of whether an “agent” was around to “ascribe value” to it?

    Do you or do you not agree that a single thing and another thing would not be equivalent to the single thing alone, and would not be equivalent regardless of whether an “agent” was around to “ascribe value” to to this lack of equivalence?

    Like Jason in many posts before this, you have no, or a wholly inadequate, understanding of language, culture, and textual criticism.

    You’re good at slagging, but not so good at defending your sneers. Feel free to offer something substantive besides your pathetic vague handwaving at any time.

    Did you see the sun rise?

    Do you understand that such metaphorical language is an artefact of human ignorance of empirical reality?

    Does it not bother you that people supposedly inspired by a putative omniscient being — or at least a putative being supposedly far more knowledgeable than all humans — failed to demonstrate an understanding of reality any better than that of any other scientifically ignorant person living at the time they wrote, and often demonstrated far worse ignorance than the most educated individuals of that time?

  65. #65 david
    July 29, 2010

    I suspect that you might be confusing a discussion of function vs a discussion of ontology.

    ??!! I’m not confused at all!!

    And where is it written that discussions are limited to your brain and posts? No where, right? I had even forgotten that you were on the thread, considered the matter settled, by sides.

    The criticism that your statements are vague is justified. They have all the rigor of a wet noodle.

    Don’t want to follow you there, so as concretely as possible : you are a buttache Colin (coccydynia) and you reason exactly like someone from Answers in Genesis, which to you is a compliment, so it is settled then.

  66. #66 Tyler DiPietro
    July 29, 2010

    I find Collin’s objection to my remarks to be pretty much impenetrable, so I’ll just address Richard’s objections:

    “I think there’s some talking at cross-purposes here. Collin mentioned concepts, not operations.”

    I think one is a subclass of the other. Non-operation concepts that also occur in nature would include continuity, connectedness, compactness, etc.

    “I would say that a process must at least involve some purposeful element to count as a mathematical operation.”

    Purpose would be rather tangential (pardon the pun) to whether something counts as a mathematical operation, in my mind. The Fibonacci spiral on a snails shell is simply incidental, but it still is the result of an inductive process occurring in nature.

  67. #67 Tyler DiPietro
    July 29, 2010

    I would like to note that I do believe mathematical concepts are different in that they can be considered on a very abstract level. But they still are, in my mind, ultimately based on our natural intuition. Thus I tend to fall into the quasi-empiricist camp when it comes to the ontological status of mathematical objects.

  68. #68 Beth
    July 29, 2010

    “Likewise, even God cannot create a universe in which 1+1=2 fails to hold.”

    Yes, but 1=3 and a virgin can become pregnant :-)

  69. #69 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 30, 2010

    Do you or do you not agree that a single thing is equivalent to itself, and would be equivalent to itself regardless of whether an “agent” was around to “ascribe value” to it?

    What is, is. On that we would agree. But when you introduce “equivalent” comparisons, that’s another case. that is interpretive.

    Do you or do you not agree that a single thing and another thing would not be equivalent to the single thing alone, and would not be equivalent regardless of whether an “agent” was around to “ascribe value” to to this lack of equivalence?

    Likewise I agree that what is not, is not. But the comparison operation, the lack of “equivalence”, is a matter the requires an agency.

    Does it not bother you that people supposedly inspired by a putative omniscient being — or at least a putative being supposedly far more knowledgeable than all humans — failed to demonstrate an understanding of reality any better than that of any other scientifically ignorant person living at the time they wrote, and often demonstrated far worse ignorance than the most educated individuals of that time?

    So I would expect nothing less of you than perfection in logic. Which you certainly are not displaying here. (You still do not understand inerrancy. What a shame. Your arguments read like something from an undergrad classroom.

    Owlmirror some objective questions on these topics to measure what understanding he has – like how many languages he reads/speaks, or which books on the topics he has or hasn’t read?

    In the past I’ve provided a bibliography that would answer the errors raised. But that is just shrugged off. In this thread I would suggest Roy Clouser’s most excellent “The Myth of Religious Neutrality”. Along with Michael Polanyi’s “Personal Knowledge” one has a good epistemological foundation. But sometimes I wonder if certain ones here understand the implications of what they speak:
    When the (apparently) “big bang” occurred, was there at the same time the expansion of abstract concepts along with the expansion of the material universe?

  70. #70 eric
    July 30, 2010

    Colin: But the comparison operation, the lack of “equivalence”, is a matter the requires an agency.

    Baloney. A “comparison operation” is performed every time one particle interacts with another. Electrons respond differently to other electrons vs protons. Hydrogen bonds differently with hydrogen than it does with carbon. And they do it even when we aren’t looking.

    So, if by agency you mean some intelligence, then most of science proves you wrong. Trees make sounds in the forest when they fall, even if no intelligence is around to hear them.

    OTOH if by agency you just mean ‘thing,’ then science agrees with you – in QM what is meant by ‘observer’ is something like ‘any other particle that interacts with the experiment.’ But this meaning of agency supports no theology.

    Or you may have fallen into the linguistic trap of thinking nature must be constructed the same way our language is: i.e. ‘because we can’t make a sentence about the world without that sentence implying an agent, the world must have an agent.’ By writing this out explicitly I hope you can see just how stupid that is.

  71. #71 Chris
    July 30, 2010

    It always fascinates me to watch people such as Collin sift the granules of epistemology while defending the truth of a book which is historically and scientifically inaccurate, repeatedly self-contradictory, changed over time (the numerous differing versions) and that they are likely reading in translation, with the host of interpretive/contextual issues that go along with that.

    BTW, when everyone is done reading ‘The Myth of Religious Neutrality,’ don’t miss Clouser’s other masterpiece, “Knowing with the Heart: Religious Experience and Belief in God.’

  72. #72 Glazius
    July 30, 2010

    Collin, what on earth are you after? You’re doing a self-evidently poor job of getting it, whatever it is. (protip: telling people to read a 300-page book just so they’ll understand your six-line blog comment is a wee bit excessive)

    Maybe this will help? I can’t tell. But maybe.

    To shamelessly paraphrase, math was made for mankind, not mankind for math. Let’s take a mathematical concept, like, I don’t know, the number 10.

    There is no such thing in the universe as the number 10.

    I can try to think about the number 10, but what I get is an image either of the written representation of the number 10, or ten black blobs all in a row. (Two rows of five if I’m feeling feisty.)

    The number 10 is useful in nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio measures. It is not the color red. It is more than 3 and less than 20. It is four more than six and seven less than seventeen. It is twice five and one-fourth of forty. All those statements are tautologies: necessarily logically consistent statements. Mathematics is comprised solely of tautologies.

    Tautologies do not themselves extend knowledge. They instead provide a framework for restructuring ideas. And why restructure ideas? To better fit in the limitations of human attention and human working memory.

    So if I can map something in the world to the number ten — let’s say I go to a grocery store and pick up a bag of ten apples — then I can use all the tautologies I know that involve the number ten to help me think about those ten apples. If I eat one a day and don’t go shopping again for two weeks, how many days will I not be eating apples? Is it cheaper to buy the bag or pick individually-priced apples out of the cardboard display over there? And so on.

    I make certain largely undocumented assumptions about the apples when I do this, of course. I assume the collection of apples can be validly mapped to a number, and that all the operations I perform on the number have valid cognates in the questions I ask about the apples.

    And these are the twin goals of instruction in mathematics: to amass a collection of tautologies involving abstract concepts, in this case numbers, and to learn to map the concepts and operations in the tautologies validly to the input of the senses and existing mental models of object relationships, with the joint ultimate goal of processing more quickly without losing precision.

    Well, all this is from the perspective of a mathematical fictionalist, a regarding of mathematics as a “useful fiction” whether or not it’s actually true. Whatever “actually true” means. There’ll be time enough to worry about that when I make four rows of five dots and count them up to get 69.

  73. #73 tgt
    July 30, 2010

    @Jim Harrison #61.

    1+1=2 still applies and is true in practice. 1a+1b=2c is not necessarily true. What you’re doing is the latter (a=alcohol, b=water, c=fluid), and using equivocation to attack 1+1=2.

    This point was actually implied earlier in the talk of moles, and I assume you didn’t understand. 1 mole of water + 1 mole of alcohol will yield 2 moles worth of a fluid: 1m + 1m = 2m (where m=moles of something).

    The second the units differ, you have changed the problem. The second you do something other than the abstract concepts of addition and equality, you have changed the problem.

    I can see why someone would make that mistake orally, but in writing it’s pretty clear.

  74. #74 Jim Harrison
    July 30, 2010

    tgt, the physicists spent the better part of the 19th Century doing dimensional analysis to figure out which measures are conserved and which aren’t. I perfectly well understood your bit about moles, I just didn’t think it was apropos.

    Maybe this formulation will make you happier: 1 liter of fluid plus another liter of fluid may or may not equal 2 liters of fluid. You want to insist that units have to be the “same” to allow arithmetic to hold. I’m just saying that you have to discover what counts as the same. Indeed, we often count the units as the same, when they allow us to rely on arithmetic. Thing is, though, the definition of “same” is part of physics, not part of mathematics. “Same” isn’t some obvious natural fact. On do we call things the same if they are entirely alike? In that case 1 + 1 will equal 1 since the only things that are absolutely and completely alike are a thing and itself. One pebble and the same pebble are one pebble.

  75. #75 Owlmirror
    July 30, 2010

    What is, is. On that we would agree. But when you introduce “equivalent” comparisons, that’s another case. that is interpretive.
    [...]

    Likewise I agree that what is not, is not. But the comparison operation, the lack of “equivalence”, is a matter the requires an agency.

    It almost looks like you’re conceding my point, but quibbling over semantics.

    How is it “interpretive”? What “interpretation” could make the existence of equivalence or its lack be other than what they are?

    So I would expect nothing less of you than perfection in logic. Which you certainly are not displaying here.

    It’s amusingly ironic that your slagging off on me, yet again, commits the logical fallacy of non sequitur.

    Care to try again with something more rigorous and substantive?

    You still do not understand inerrancy.

    What’s to understand? It’s not a fact about the Bible; it’s not something derived from either reason or evidence. It’s just dogma; a doctrinal assertion — which of course is itself logical fallacious: Your “biblical inerrancy” is nothing more than repeated and continuous argument by fiat and special pleading.

    In this thread I would suggest Roy Clouser’s most excellent “The Myth of Religious Neutrality”.

    I will bet a cookie that he commits the the logical fallacies of argument by fiat and special pleading as well, at the very least.

    When the (apparently) “big bang” occurred, was there at the same time the expansion of abstract concepts along with the expansion of the material universe?

    Your epistemology is badly flawed if you think that this bizarre non sequitur of a question makes any sense at all.

  76. #76 Owlmirror
    July 30, 2010

    1 liter of fluid plus another liter of fluid may or may not equal 2 liters of fluid. You want to insist that units have to be the “same” to allow arithmetic to hold.

    As I understand it, that’s not what tgt means at all, though — the units just have to be appropriate to the substance by being invariant. Volume alone is inappropriate (except for human approximation), precisely because volume is variant depending on chemical composition and temperature.

    Thing is, though, the definition of “same” is part of physics, not part of mathematics. “Same” isn’t some obvious natural fact.

    Rather than the equivocal “same”, how about “being otherwise invariant but distinct”?

    On do we call things the same if they are entirely alike? In that case 1 + 1 will equal 1 since the only things that are absolutely and completely alike are a thing and itself. One pebble and the same pebble are one pebble.

    Committing a counting error — counting the same (invariant but also nondistinct) thing twice — is a problem with the one counting, not with either the the physical object or with mathematics.

    1 + 0 = 1

  77. #77 Jim Harrison
    July 30, 2010

    Nothing hinges on the word “same.” If you like “being otherwise invariant but distinct,” go for it. My point is simply that we don’t find things that are the same or things that are otherwise invariant but distinct and discover that the rules of arithmetic apply to ‘em. We call things the same or otherwise invariant but distinct when they follow the rules of arithmetic. One can, after all, imagine a world in which volumes of fluids are conserved as the masses of fluids are conserved in ours. The formalities, i.e. the math, only works where it works and that one has to find out by experience, not just by proving theorems.

  78. #78 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 30, 2010

    to the collection of responders:

    Collin, what on earth are you after? You’re doing a self-evidently poor job of getting it, whatever it is. (protip: telling people to read a 300-page book just so they’ll understand your six-line blog comment is a wee bit excessive)

    Please. I guess you didn’t see the challenge to provide resources to support the position.

    There is no such thing in the universe as the number 10.

    And that’s what is being denied here.

    Baloney. A “comparison operation” is performed every time one particle interacts with another. Electrons respond differently to other electrons vs protons. Hydrogen bonds differently with hydrogen than it does with carbon. And they do it even when we aren’t looking.

    Really? So interpretation is accomplished without an interpreter. And they said my epistemology was weak. Sheesh.

    … historically and scientifically inaccurate …

    From what I’ve read here so far of the generally-defended willingness to approach a document rich in history as though that history does not matter, it appears consistent that not only intelligent reading was rejected along with intelligent design or anything else.

    Your epistemology is badly flawed if you think that this bizarre non sequitur of a question makes any sense at all.

    As before, you troll. This statement was plainly addressed to anyone who accepts that abstract objects somehow exist on their own, entirely apart from any interpretive agency. It is a bizarre question because self-existent abstract objects are themselves bizarre. The presupposition of their existence begs that question.

  79. #79 Owlmirror
    July 30, 2010

    From what I’ve read here so far of the generally-defended willingness to approach a document rich in history as though that history does not matter

    As contrasted to your unwillingness to acknowledge where the “history” in that document has been utterly and conclusively refuted?

    As before, you troll.

    As before what, you troll?

    This statement was plainly addressed to anyone who accepts that abstract objects somehow exist on their own, entirely apart from any interpretive agency

    Since I have been extremely careful to refer, as much as possible, only to logical facts and truths, I have no idea why you bring this up. Which, as I wrote, makes your “abstract objects” a non-sequitur.

    Are you trying to argue that logical facts and abstract objects are exactly the same thing?

    It is a bizarre question because self-existent abstract objects are themselves bizarre.

    And do you have some kind of problem with logical truths? You have not presented any coherent argument against them.

    Say, isn’t God just such a “self-existent abstract object”?

    The presupposition of their existence begs that question.

    So will you renounce you religion, given that its presuppositions are all the logical fallacy of begging the question?

  80. #80 Doug
    July 31, 2010

    Jim, I am not sure what point you are trying to make in pointing out that “1 + 1 = 2″ is a true statement of physical reality only when applied properly. Being based on logic and formal definitions, people’s inabilities to keep these definitions in mind in trying to apply the mathematics has nothing to say of the validity of the maths, only the invalidity of the application. It is essential to the formal proof of such a statement that “1″ and “1″ are exactly the same. So the physicists were in error when they didn’t realize the difference between “1 gal water” and “1 gal alcohol,” but the math cannot be faulted. It’s more than a matter of dimensional analysis, it is the requirement that we be mindful of the assumptions underlying any arguments we make.

    This is all a little irrelevant though. Jason was originally addressing the statement by Katherine “Fruit” Loop about “1 + 1 = 2″ only being true because goddidit. So even if in the real world the details get a bit messy when trying to apply maths, could things be different even if an omnipotent deity said so? Could you put 1 apple and 1 apple together in a basket and have 3 apples? Fruit Loop seems to be questioning even the most simple applications of math to reality.

  81. #81 Collin Brendemuehl
    July 31, 2010

    Say, isn’t God just such a “self-existent abstract object”?

    No, God is a being. It really helps to know what you’re talking about when you argue a point.

    So will you renounce you religion, given that its presuppositions are all the logical fallacy of begging the question?

    You confuse implicit circularity (a structural matter) with begging the question (a matter of explicit self-referral). Again: It really helps to know what you’re talking about when you argue a point.

    Are you trying to argue that logical facts and abstract objects are exactly the same thing?

    Sometimes. It depends upon how they’re treated. The question here is whether they are presumed to transcend interpretation.

  82. #82 Tyler DiPietro
    August 1, 2010

    “When the (apparently) “big bang” occurred, was there at the same time the expansion of abstract concepts along with the expansion of the material universe?”

    I would say, yes, because one needs a sufficiently regular universe for the abstract concepts to take meaning. Supervenient entities can’t exist without something to supervene upon.

  83. #83 Owlmirror
    August 1, 2010

    No, God is a being.

    Only if you fallaciously assert that your abstract conception of a being actually is a being.

    It really helps to know what you’re talking about when you argue a point.

    Since you don’t actually know anything about God, you demonstrate your fundamental epistemic hypocrisy here.

    You confuse implicit circularity (a structural matter) with begging the question (a matter of explicit self-referral).

    I note that you implicitly concede that presuppositionalism relies on logical fallacy regardless. Are you really going to try and argue that one logical fallacy is “better” than another? That’s the logical fallacy of special pleading. Heh.

    And, really, there’s nothing about presuppositionalism that prevents it from relying on multiple logical fallacies, depending on what the particular apologetic argument is.

    Again: It really helps to know what you’re talking about when you argue a point.

    Which you obviously don’t.

    Sometimes. It depends upon how they’re treated.

    This is utterly incoherent. And what does “they” even refer to? Logical truths or abstract objects?

    The question here is whether they are presumed to transcend interpretation.

    You avoid addressing the basic and fundamental question that I asked, and offer the most ridiculous of post-modern incoherent bullshit.

  84. #84 dan
    August 1, 2010

    3 = 1 in Christian math, at least if I understand the doctrine of the trinity correctly.

  85. #85 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 1, 2010

    Hootie,
    Not all circularity is fallacious. All presuppositions are circular. I nobody operates without presuppositions. Do you accept this as axiomatic: “The universe is all there is.”

    If so, you are holding to a presupposition. And you are therefore arguing circularity. That makes you a hypocrite for ever attempting to present an evidential argument.

    At least Tyler (1) is intelligent enough to understand the question and (2) had the courage to admit the incoherent.

    I wonder — who are you? Afraid to come out into the light? Is yours a pseudonym for Coyne or other popular personna?

    Dan,
    You don’t.

  86. #86 eric
    August 1, 2010

    Colin: Really? So interpretation is accomplished without an interpreter. And they said my epistemology was weak. Sheesh.

    Thats a non-answer if I’ve ever heard one. Would you care to include an actual argument, or are you just going to stick with teh snide?

    As I said in @70, physics and chemistry appears to function just fine in the absense of intelligence. So if by ‘interpreter’ you mean ‘intelligence,’ you’re going to have to come up with some evidence of that because the evidence we currently have refutes this. If by ‘interpreter’ you are including nonintelligent stuff, then you are right, but this conclusion is also theologically irrelevant. Lastly, if you are trying to draw a conclusion about the physical universe based on the foibles of human language, you’re just being foolish.

  87. #87 Owlmirror
    August 1, 2010

    Not all circularity is fallacious. All presuppositions are circular. I nobody operates without presuppositions.

    Your false equivalence is noted.

    The difference between logical axioms and your religious presuppositions is that axioms are simply that which must be necessarily logically true. The logical negation of a logical axiom is incoherent, paradoxical, and would result in nothing at all having any meaning whatsoever. The logical axioms of the empirical world is that it is generally consistent, and that derived knowledge about the empirical world must be logically consistent with empirical evidence. Your religious presuppositions, in contrast, are not consistent with empirical evidence, and are all too often based on special negations of logical truths which result in the same sort of incoherent, paradoxical, and fundamentally meaningless assertions that you would rightly reject if they or similar were proposed by any religion that you didn’t believe in.

    Do you accept this as axiomatic: “The universe is all there is.”

    I refuse to fall into your pathetic semantic booby-trap by giving an unqualified answer.

    It depends on how you define “universe”. If “universe” means “absolutely everything that exists”, then the statement is indeed axiomatic, tautological, and definitional. If “universe” means “the expanse of space-time that we can observe and everything within it”, then the statement cannot possibly be axiomatic.

    At least Tyler (1) is intelligent enough to understand the question and (2) had the courage to admit the incoherent.

    Or rather, I am intelligent enough to recognize that your question was an utterly incoherent semantic booby-trap, and avoided it.

    Do you have the courage to admit that your religion is incoherent?

    I wonder — who are you? Afraid to come out into the light? Is yours a pseudonym for Coyne or other popular personna?

    It’s amusing that you either esteem me highly enough to come to the conclusion that I might be someone famous, or you have an egoistic desire to best someone famous in an online debate.

    Sorry, I assure you, I am absolutely no-one important or famous, or even generally well-known, except for on a very few online fora. If you argue me under the table, you will have to be resigned to having trumped nobody special.

  88. #88 Tyler DiPietro
    August 1, 2010

    “At least Tyler (1) is intelligent enough to understand the question and (2) had the courage to admit the incoherent.”

    “Incoherent”. You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

    But you can always disprove me by pulling your thumb out of your pretentious ass and explain exactly what is “incoherent” about my answer.

  89. #89 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 1, 2010

    Hootie,

    I have often wondered if you could be so stupid. But your last remark provides adequate confirmation.

    The quote was from Carl Sagan and it was his view of the whole of the universe from a Godless perspective. Apparently you are not familiar with it.

    Since you accept it as axiomatic, let’s briefly compare it with Christian presuppositionalism. A presupp is roughly the same as an assumption except that it has no dependencies or contingencies. It is accepted at face value. The Christian presupposition is stated in Hebrews 11:6 — “that God is”. It is accompanied by an assumption — that God is the rewarder of those who seek him. This says something positive about his character. As it depends upon the presupp, it is an assumption. The presupp of Sagan (and Rosenhouse) is that “the material is all that there is”. It is taken at face value as being the proper view of the universe. Evolutionary theory is based on a set of assumptions, such as the apparent necessity that if there is any speciation, then all is speciation (Coyne). But that assumpiton is dependent upon the presupposition of metaphysical naturalism.

    Metaphysical naturalism is a presupposition. You are a presuppositionalist.

  90. #90 Owlmirror
    August 1, 2010

    I have often wondered if you could be so stupid. But your last remark provides adequate confirmation.

       Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
      — Some hypocritical judgmental clown that you are obviously pleased to emulate in judgmental hypocrisy.

    The quote was from Carl Sagan and it was his view of the whole of the universe from a Godless perspective. Apparently you are not familiar with it.

    Of course I am familiar with what Carl Sagan wrote — and I am familiar enough with it to recognize that you got it wrong.

    He did not write “universe”, but “cosmos“. It’s pretty funny that you made such a pathetic and stupid mistake, given that that was the title of his famous television series.

      ”The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation of a distant memory, as if we were falling from a great height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

    And of course, you bringing up the (mis)quote as an “axiom” demonstrates even more clearly that you wanted to use it as a pathetic semantic booby-trap. Carl Sagan was not a God and was not a prophet, and I might well suggest that at that point, he was speaking sloppily and poetically, as demonstrated by the context in which the quote appears. And if he wasn’t; if he had been genuinely trying to make an epistemological assertion about empirical reality, I would have argued with him using the same qualifications that I wrote above.

    Since you accept it as axiomatic

    No, you dishonest disingenuous illiterate moron, I qualified what I did and did not accept. Address what I actually wrote, or acknowledge that you’re building and beating up a strawman.

    A presupp is roughly the same as an assumption except that it has no dependencies or contingencies.

    The equivalence is still false. Your religious presuppositions do have “dependencies or contingencies”; they are dependent on the religious texts and metanarrative that includes them and transmits them.

    It is accepted at face value.

    And it is inconsistent with empirical reality, having no basis in empirical reality whatsoever.

    The Christian presupposition is stated in Hebrews 11:6 — “that God is”.

    What utter bullshit. The Christian presupposition includes, at the very least, the entire Nicene Creed, not something so minimalist that a Muslim or a Unitarian Universalist, or even a Deist or a Pantheist could agree with it.

    Or are you changing your mind on what Christianity is, after arguing: “There are certain tenets which define orthodox Christianity. These include the resurrection and the Trinity, among others.“? (Direct quote by you, July 18, 2010 8:08 AM)

    It is accompanied by an assumption — that God is the rewarder of those who seek him.

    You’re still not distinguishing Christianity from Islam, or Judaism, or even Pastafarianism. How readily you sacrifice orthodoxy for the sake of rhetoric. Ramen!

    The presupp of Sagan (and Rosenhouse) is that “the material is all that there is”.

    You’re really happy to put words into people’s mouths.

    Evolutionary theory is based on a set of assumptions, such as the apparent necessity that if there is any speciation, then all is speciation (Coyne).

    WTF? I have no idea what you mean, here. I bet a cookie that that’s something else that you’ve managed to mangle.

    But that assumpiton is dependent upon the presupposition of metaphysical naturalism.

    No, science is based on methodological naturalism.

    Or are you willing to concede that maybe God is making your nerves misfire as you type, so that’s why you misspelled “assumption” in your sentence above?

    Metaphysical naturalism is a presupposition.

    Sure; it’s the minimal presupposition that everything that exists — regardless of whether you call that “the universe” or not — is logically and empirically coherent.

    Your presuppositions are that everything that exists is empirically and logically incoherent.

  91. #91 Chris
    August 2, 2010

    I don’t understand the point of Collin trying to insist that atheists/naturalists have presuppositions. We all do, of course, but as Owlmirror points out, the naturalist presuppositions are much more minimalist than religious presuppositions (surely a plus in presuppositionalism), and they more easily accord with observable reality. If his point is merely to show that atheists are also “faith-based,” then either that should ‘elevate’ atheism in his eyes to the equal of the religious viewpoint, since as a religious faith it would be deserving of respect (well, maybe not by him), or it diminishes the meaning of religious faith, since if religious faith is merely a case of having presuppositions, and not something involving worship, or sensory apprehension of the supposed intelligent or living essence of reality, etc., then, well, whoop-de-do – religious faith really isn’t much of anything after all; certainly it’s nothing special then, just one view out of many.

    The entire argument hinges on definitions of ‘faith,’ which means of course that no such argument can be irrefutable in either direction, since ‘faith’ is ill-defined, but surely a religious person would insist that faith is something special and meaningful, i.e., would apply a spiritual viewpoint to the meaning of faith. In the end, it seems strangely like a behind-the-back way to insist that the religious viewpoint is ‘equal to’ a more atheistic, scientific point of view, rather than a superior one.

  92. #92 eric
    August 2, 2010

    Chris @91 In the end, it seems strangely like a behind-the-back way to insist that the religious viewpoint is ‘equal to’ a more atheistic, scientific point of view, rather than a superior one.

    Ding ding ding! One of the primary goals of the creationist movement is to get it taught in schools (or, almost as good, have evolution barred). One of the creationist strategies for doing that has been to argue that creationism is just as valid as evolution – i.e. either both belong in the curriculum or neither do.

    There are numerous flaws to the argument and SCOTUS explicitly rejected it in 1987, but they keep trying.

  93. #93 Chris
    August 2, 2010

    Eric, if you are right, it appears I have been rather naive in thinking there was some other ‘fact-about-reality’ point being made. Certainly I’m aware of these creationist goals (I live in Texas, the epicenter), and I’ve seen this line of argument before, but the point of it always mystified me, since it seemed to willingly undermine the superiority of the religious viewpoint. Apparently I was unable to put two and two together – that does still equal four, I hope.

  94. #94 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 2, 2010

    Eric,
    And what type of creationist am I? Please, tell me. I hope you can do so with some accuracy and not look like too much of a fool. (I’m really looking forward to this one!)

    Hootie,
    Did you exegete that passage? Do you know what it’s talking about? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

    Regarding Sagan’s quote — you can find him using the term “universe” in many instances. He used the interchangably, you pathetic little moron. :-)

    The equivalence is still false. Your religious presuppositions do have “dependencies or contingencies”; they are dependent on the religious texts and metanarrative that includes them and transmits them.

    Then you are guilty of re-framing the belief system to advance your argument. Naughty, naughty.


    It is accepted at face value.

    And it is inconsistent with empirical reality, having no basis in empirical reality whatsoever.

    Interesting. You’re leaving your presupposition and supposing that facts speak for themselves. So now you’re an evidentialist who thinks that the evidence is clear and incontrovertable?

    No, science is based on methodological naturalism.

    Nice. You claim a presuppositional approach right alongside an evidential approach. Now that is incoherence!

    What utter bullshit. The Christian presupposition includes, at the very least, the entire Nicene Creed, not something so minimalist that a Muslim or a Unitarian Universalist, or even a Deist or a Pantheist could agree with it.

    You are making the simple mistake of confusing the various systematics with the constructs behind them. Understandable, given your current capacities. Ever listen to Devo?

    [Metaphysical naturalism is] the minimal presupposition that everything that exists — regardless of whether you call that “the universe” or not — is logically and empirically coherent.

    No. Metaphysical does not say anything about coherence. It speaks to the nature of the universe, not the interpretability of it. The claim of coherence would indicate that you would like to have a perpescuity that is unfortunately elusive. (How elusive? (Again, which functional evolutionary model actually works? Answer: None answers all the questions properly.)

  95. #95 Owlmirror
    August 3, 2010

    Colonic Buggermule:

    Regarding Sagan’s quote — you can find him using the term “universe” in many instances. He used the interchangably, you pathetic little moron.

    The point, which you have not addressed, is that he is not recorded as explicitly asserting that the empirically observable universe is all that exists. You pathetic and intellectually dishonest little moron.

    Then you are guilty of re-framing the belief system to advance your argument.

    Nice re-frame of your own crime, there — denying the Trinity, the resurrection, and the very Bible itself when it’s rhetorically convenient.

    You’re leaving your presupposition and supposing that facts speak for themselves. So now you’re an evidentialist who thinks that the evidence is clear and incontrovertable?

    I have no idea what you’re getting at here; as usual, you prefer sophistic semantic games to rational discussion.

    Or have you now decided that you’re a obscurantist Pantheist?

    You claim a presuppositional approach right alongside an evidential approach.

    Are you illiterate, or just dishonest? Oh, never mind. You’re just an incoherent sophist, which means you’re both.

    You are making the simple mistake of confusing the various systematics with the constructs behind them.

    Because Islam and Deism are systems of Christianity? You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Metaphysical does not say anything about coherence. It speaks to the nature of the universe, not the interpretability of it.

    I finally figured it out: You’re Humpty-Dumpty, and words mean only what you presuppose them to mean.

    The only way to deal with you is to make a nice, big omelette.

  96. #96 eric
    August 3, 2010

    Colin: Eric,
    And what type of creationist am I? Please, tell me. I hope you can do so with some accuracy and not look like too much of a fool. (I’m really looking forward to this one!)

    I’d rather have a conversation with you than play guessing-game gotcha. If I’ve mischaracterized your view, I apologize. Why don’t you tell me how old you think the earth is, and how (you think) all the various species of life arose, and if you’re not a creationist I’ll happily apologize a second time too!

    I’ll even go first, in case you think its unfair for me to put you on the spot. I think the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and that species arose via descent with modification.

    Your turn.

  97. #97 Owlmirror
    August 3, 2010

    If Collin was interested in playing anything besides puerile “guessing-game gotcha”, he’d have honestly addressed Tyler’s question @#88, or what you wrote @#86.

    But no, he’d rather slag off.

       Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
       — Somebody or other discussing something that Collin probably doesn’t care about.

  98. #98 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 3, 2010

    Eric,
    You made an assertion. I suggest it would be good to stand behind it. Avoidance is oh, so convenient.

    Hootie,
    It would be so easy, but is such a waste of time.
    So just one: Like I denied the trinity. Right. I merely placed the systematics beneath the presuppositions that they rest upon. You know, like the the dependence of the evolutionary models (scientific systematics) which rely upon naturalism as their presupposition.
    Responding to, and attempting to educate you regarding, your ignorance of theology and fundamental philosophical constructs is now terminated.

  99. #99 Tyler DiPietro
    August 3, 2010

    Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, Collin.

  100. #100 Tyler DiPietro
    August 3, 2010

    Collin really is just gas and noise when you get past all the jargon he uses. For instance:

    “You know, like the the dependence of the evolutionary models (scientific systematics) which rely upon naturalism as their presupposition.”

    Evolution doesn’t presuppose naturalism. You can extrapolate purely naturalistic evolution from the available evidence with an appeal to parsimony.

  101. #101 Wowbagger
    August 3, 2010

    Collin, why didn’t you answer eric’s question in #96?

  102. #102 eric
    August 4, 2010

    Colin: Eric,
    You made an assertion. I suggest it would be good to stand behind it. Avoidance is oh, so convenient.

    Very well. I’ve never known someone who thought the mainstream scientific explanation for species to dodge the two questions I posed. But creationists dodge them all the time. So, based on the limited evidence I have, I infer from your dodge that you’re some sort of creationist.

    Admittedly this evidence is indirect. But until you give me evidence to the contrary (which you could do with a sigle sentence, yet you don’t), I will tentatively hold that conclusion. If new evidence comes along that contradicts my current belief – like, say, you were to simply tell me what you think, I may revise it.

    So, now my avoidance has stopped I assume you will be willing to answer my question. I again invite you to tell me how you think species arose.

  103. #103 hoary puccoon
    August 4, 2010

    Collin Brendemuehl has brilliantly demonstrated exactly what math classes would be like if they were taught biblically.

  104. #104 eric
    August 4, 2010

    Collin,
    Don’t worry about answering my question, your blog already did. You’re a creationist. Flood and all! Really, why is that so hard to admit?

    That leaves the question you posed in @62 (how can abstract concepts exist without an Interpreter to assess their existence), and my answer, which you have now ignored twice: inanimate particles ‘assess the existence’ of other particles whenever they interact. If by ‘interpreter’ you mean some intelligence, the evidence is against its necessity; this process demonstrably goes on when we aren’t looking. If by ‘interpreter’ you just mean other matter, yeah this is true but theologically irrelevant. On the third hand (I’m a motie :), if you are attempting to derive some metaphysical point from the fact that humon languages tend to anthropomorphize concepts (particles observe; spirit of the law), that’s just silly.

    I await being ignored a third time.

  105. #105 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 4, 2010

    Eric,
    Ok. The Creation Creed has been brought up-to-date, in accordance with and consistent with the preface on my other evolution topic posts.

    But the term “creationist” is generally applied to YEC. It is not generally applied to OEC or TE. Hence my much-later post elsewhere: http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2010/02/why-i%E2%80%99m-neither-a-creationist-nor-an-evolutionist/

    Interpretation without interpreters. How do you do it?
    I’m still waiting for an explanation that makes sense. Got one? Na. Just cover your back side on your way out.

    Here is a quite-specific answer to the other question: Speciation, yes. All speciation, no.

  106. #106 eric
    August 4, 2010

    Collin: But the term “creationist” is generally applied to YEC. It is not generally applied to OEC or TE.

    Just so I understand you correctly, in your opinion an Old Earth Creationist is not a creationist?

    Interpretation without interpreters. How do you do it? I’m still waiting for an explanation that makes sense.

    I don’t think it would be helpful to repeat myself a fourth time. If you tell me which part of my previous explanation doesn’t make sense to you, I can go into more detail.

    ***

    Though perhaps it might be helpful to try and nail down what you mean by ‘interpretation.’ Lets take the very first step in my observation of a butterfly; a photon reflected off the butterfly causes a redox reaction in the photopigment of one of my rod cells. Tell me Collin, does this interaction count as an “interpretation?”

    I think either a yes or no answer resolves your philosophical quandry. If the answer is yes, then interpretation may be necessary for the universe to exist, but clearly intelligence is not needed for interpretation. Its just a redox reaction, those happen all the time in non-intelligent systems. OTOH if the answer is no, then clearly interpretation is not necessary for physics and chemistry, and the universe can function just fine without an interpreter.

    Either way, we can conclude that an intelligent interpreter is unnecessary merely by considering a simple physical event and asking whether it counts as an interpretation.

  107. #107 Wowbagger
    August 4, 2010

    eric wrote:

    Don’t worry about answering my question, your blog already did. You’re a creationist.

    If he believes in the literal flood – i.e. caused by a deluge – then there’s an even more specific term for what he is: delugionist.

  108. #108 Collin Brendemuehl
    August 4, 2010

    Lets take the very first step in my observation of a butterfly; a photon reflected off the butterfly causes a redox reaction in the photopigment of one of my rod cells. Tell me Collin, does this interaction count as an “interpretation?”
    No.

    Just so I understand you correctly, in your opinion an Old Earth Creationist is not a creationist?
    Sometimes. They’re not a uniform lot. (I realize how convenient labels can be but at times they do distract from reasonable analysis.) Some set dates, which, as I posted, I’ve rejected. Others will accept an indeterminable age, but created at *some point* in history. It’s a step < naturalism and TE but further back than YEC.

    the universe can function just fine without an interpreter.
    Sure. But ideas (those abstract objects out there) would not exist. Does one have to be a “creationist” of any sort for that to make sense?

  109. #109 Wowbagger
    August 4, 2010

    I realize how convenient labels can be but at times they do distract from reasonable analysis.)

    You mean like ‘Christian’?

  110. #110 eric
    August 5, 2010

    [Eric the universe can function just fine without an interpreter.]

    [Collin: Sure. But ideas (those abstract objects out there) would not exist.]

    I’m satisfied with that answer, thank you. For future reference I’ll remember to use the photon-pigment example, that seems to have advanced the conversation much faster than my other answer (though I’d still maintain they make the same point).

  111. #111 Ahab
    August 16, 2010

    Homeschoolers trying to teach “Biblical” math. Strange. And I thought I heard some bizarre ideas when I infiltrated the CHAP conference!

    Do you think that this line of thinking could lead to a corruption of mathmatics in Christian education, along the lines of what creationism is trying to do to science education?

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