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Re: [XTalk] Anomalies vs. Miracles

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  • Eric Eve
    ... need to ... event was ... _Changing ... no way ... largely ... (I think in the first of these paragraphs he was quoting me). In a subsequent post I pointed
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 2, 2003
      Michael Turton wrote:

      > Moreover, the occurrence of events of type (a) and (b) is a purely
      > empirical question open (in principle) to purely empirical modes of
      > investigation; one would simply need to work out what conditions would
      need to
      > be fulfilled into order to establish that a report of a type (a) or (b)
      event was
      > reliable.

      > Yet this is impossible. Pinch and Collins outlined this in either
      _Changing
      > Order_ or _Natural Order_, I have forgotten which. In any case *there is
      no way
      > a controlled inquiry into "anomalies" can be carried out.* In addition to
      > failure and fraud, this is one of the reasons why psychic research has
      largely
      > been abandoned.

      (I think in the first of these paragraphs he was quoting me).

      In a subsequent post I pointed out that 'anomaly' was really only meaningful
      in relation to a particular set of scientific theories. Since theories are
      in principle falsifiable, it must in principle be possible to investigate
      exceptions to them (which would constitute anomalies on the definition I
      gave); I am thus suspicious of an argument that purports to rule the
      possibility of the empirical investigation of anomaly _in toto_, since this
      appears to presuppose that science has no more work to do.

      On the other hand, in my later post (and effecticely also in one or more
      previous posts) I have stated that to allow the possibility of 'hard
      anomaly' (i.e. one which it is not plausible to suppose that any change in
      our scientific understanding could accommodate) would be to cut off the
      branch of rational evaluation we're trying to sit, which would seem to be in
      broad agreement with your point here.

      Best wishes,

      Eric
    • turton
      ... My bad. I meant only that an atheist is someone who lacks a belief in god. Michael Turton AFl Chaoyang University Taichung, Taiwan
      Message 2 of 4 , Aug 2, 2003
        >
        > HOWEVER, I vehemently quarrel with Michael's
        > assertion that
        > an atheist is COMMITTED TO A LACK OF BELIEF IN GODS.

        My bad. I meant only that an atheist is someone who lacks a belief in god.

        Michael Turton
        AFl
        Chaoyang University
        Taichung, Taiwan
      • Ed Jones
        In response to a message, Aug2, 2003, 8:41 pm, raising questions concerning god or no god, it has seemed that some account might be taken of the extent to
        Message 3 of 4 , Aug 3, 2003
          In response to a message, Aug2, 2003, 8:41 pm, raising questions concerning
          god or no god, it has seemed that some account might be taken of the extent
          to which our inherited 19th century scientific understanding of KNOWLEDE
          affects these notions and further, to take note of what recent expressions
          from the scientific community seem to be telling to us today about
          KNOWLEDGE. The following post edhj2002@..., Jul 26, 2003, 7:05am,
          [FFForum] Re: Philosophy, Science and Theology Festival, might serve to
          illumine this statement:

          Blaine,

          In a message bwhite@... Thu, Jul 10, 10:26 am, you develop certain
          distinctions between the disciplines of science and religion leading to the
          characterization of �theoscientists� who �are not and need not be taken
          seriously.� Might not the following extracts place both Hawking and Davies
          in this category?


          Extracts from Davies� commentary relative to one statement, not commented on
          in my essay edhj2002@..., Jul 20, 5:14pm, [FFForum], from the Hawking
          passage:
          �What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for
          them to describe?�

          Davies:
          �It seems to me that; if one perseveres with the principle of sufficient
          reason and demands rational explanation for nature, then we have no choice
          but to seek that explanation in something beyond or outside the physical
          world � in something metaphysical � because a contingent physical universe
          cannot contain within itself an explanation for itself. What sort of
          metaphysical agency might be able to create a universe? It is important to
          guard against the na�ve image of a Creator producing a universe at some
          instant in time by supernatural means � creation cannot consist of merely
          causing the big bang. We are searching instead for a more subtle, timeless
          notion of creation which, to use Hawking�s phrase, �breathes fire into the
          equations�, and thus promotes the merely possible to the actually existing.
          This agency is creative in the sense of being somehow responsible for the
          laws which govern, among other things, how space-time evolves.�

          �We are not talking about creation in the casual, mechanical sense here, as
          when a builder builds a house � We are talking about �breathing fire into
          the equations that encode the laws of physics, promoting the merely possible
          to the actual. What sort of entities can �breathe fire � in this sense?
          Clearly no familiar material thing. If there is to be an answer at all, it
          would have to be something pretty abstract and unfamiliar� (beyond all sense
          perceived reality).

          �Thus James Jeans who proclaimed that �the universe appears to have been
          designed by a pure mathematician� and it �begins to look more like a great
          thought rather than a great machine�, also wrote: �We discover that the
          universe shows evidence of a designing or controlling power that has
          something in common with our individual minds - - the tendency to think in
          ways which, for want of a better word, we describe as mathematical.� �
          (�something in common with our minds�; might not this validate the claim of
          mystical experience: �Consciousness with consciousness can meet�? - thus
          knowledge given, ready-made, revelation).

          ��just why Homo sapiens should carry the spark of rationality that provides
          the key to the universe, is a deep enigma. We, who are children of the
          universe � animated stardust � can nevertheless reflect on the nature of
          that universe, even to the extent of glimpsing the rules on which it runs.�

          �What does it mean? What is Man that we might be party to such privilege?
          I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of
          fate. An accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama.
          Our involvement is too intimate - - the existence of mind in some organism
          on some planet in the universe is surely a fact of fundamental significance.
          Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This
          can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless
          forces. We are truly meant to be here.�

          Ed Jones

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        • Steve Black
          ... god or no god... One of the things I enjoy about this list is how these sorts of issues are always in the background in our discussions concerning the
          Message 4 of 4 , Aug 3, 2003
            >In response to a message, Aug2, 2003, 8:41 pm, raising questions concerning
            god or no god...

            One of the things I enjoy about this list is how these sorts of
            issues are always in the background in our discussions concerning the
            Historical Jesus. I think it is best to leave them in the background.


            --
            Steve Black
            Vancouver School of Theology
            Vancouver, BC
            ---

            The lion and the calf shall lie down together
            but the calf won't get much sleep.
            -Woody Allen
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