Saturday, June 15, 2019

Intelligent Design

Hear two Catholic scientists, Dr.Stacy Trasancos and Dr.Michael Behe, debate Intelligent Design theory at Chronicles of Strength

In this conversation:

• What does Intelligent Design (ID) actually say about the theory of evolution?
• Is ID an argument from ignorance, or an inference to the best explanation?
• At what level is design obvious in nature?
• Is ID too narrow, or telling of something much greater?
• Can you settle the matter of design (or no design) apart from evolution?
• How do we best explain the complex structures and genetic codes we’ve discovered in life?
• Can Neo-Darwinian processes account for this?
 • What does “random” or “unguided” mean with respect to natural selection?
• Can “brute forces and matter” account for the structures and complexity we see in nature?

"Cosmic contingency"

"WHILE THE ABSOLUTENESS ascribed to the speed of light in special relativity reveals something specific valid across the whole cosmos, the latter is given special recognition in general relativity, a point made by Jaki with striking originality. The true philosophical import of general relativity lies in its ability to give, for the first time in scientific history, a consistent or contradiction-free treatment of the totality of gravitationally interacting things. Therefore, Jaki argues time and again, from the viewpoint of science the notion of the universe is a valid one, a point of utmost importance with respect to Kant's criticism of the cosmological argument.

"Jaki also notes that the general theory of relativity provides further data about the specificity of the cosmos. Through that theory one can obtain specific data valid for the whole cosmos, such as it's curvature or space-time. This specific value determines, depending on whether it is a small positive or a small negative quantity, the net of permissible paths of motion. In the former case, the universe is spherical; in the latter case its total matter is distributed in a hyperbolic space-time, analogous to a saddle with no edges but with well-determined slopes. Jaki, who wrote extensively on the paradoxes of an infinite homogenous universe, can therefore authoritatively note that "the only possibility which is excluded is Euclidean infinity whose curvature is 0, an age-old symbol of non-existence."

"According to Jaki, the universe looks "no less specific than a garment on the clothier's rack, carrying a tag on which one could read if not its price at least its main measurements." Such a tag, in Jaki's words, "cannot help evoke the existence of a dressmaker," because there is no need for the garment to be of a particular size. Analogously, there is no scientific reason why the universe has to have the overall specificities established about it by modern cosmology. Consequently, those specificities can be taken for so many pointers of cosmic contingency which in turn can legitimately be used as a ground for invoking the existence of a Creator." (*To be continued)

~Reverend Dr. Paul Haffner: Creation and Scientific Creativity: A Study in the Thought of S.L. Jaki, Chap. 3. (Christendom Press)

Monday, May 6, 2019

Sacraments as Continuity

"CONTINUITY is the principle and reality that comes up whenever one wants to understand what Catholicism is about on any particular point. On seeing this Catholics may take pride in the fact that it was the continuity of "the great church" that turned the word Catholic into the finest of epithets. . . . let the sacraments be taken first. Luther still wanted to retain two of them, baptism and the Eucharist, though in vain. For if the individual's act of faith was the means of salvation, there could remain no logical room for baptism as a means for salvation. Means mean nothing if they do not effect something. But there was nothing to effect, either by faith or by baptism, if justification was merely imputed. The right of baptism could only be a sign of something existing only in the mind of God as He was "imputing." No room then for a rite that confers the kind of continuity which is a new nature, the status of supernatural grace. Within Protestantism the custom of baptizing became indeed a blind bow to a custom, about which it is not possible to say that the Church was without it even in its very beginnings.

"As to the Eucharist, Luther could retain the sense of the real presence only for the 'moment' of communion. Ockham must have nodded. It was then logical not to conserve the sacred species, not to expose the Blessed Sacrament, not even to genuflect in adoration. Surely, the Church is logical in holding that the word "transubstantiation" is a most apt designation of what happens in the Sacrament of the Altar. If there is no real presence, which, let it not be forgotten, is continuity through space and time, there is no need for real priests, no need for men who "are priests forever according to the order of Melchizedech." As the prophet of ecclesial discontinuity, Luther was nowhere more logical than when he declared in his "The Babylonian Captivity of the Church," that some had to be ordained in the Church but only to prevent cacophony on Sundays in the churches." . . . [to be cont.]

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Gist of Catholicism

(Artwork: Seven Sacraments Altarpiece, by Rogier van der Weyden. Oil on oak panel, A.D. 1445-50. (Central panel, left wing & right wing). Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

"Einstein's real achievement"

"SCIENCE, exact science that is, has become synonymous with the theory of relativity and with quantum mechanics. In the broader cultural context the science of relativity is all too often taken as a proof that everything is relative. This might not have happened if Einstein had followed the suggestion of a friend of his, E. Zschimmer, who in 1922 urged him to rename his theory of relativity as "Invarianten-theorie," or the theory of invariance. In his reply, Einstein admitted that the expression "relativity theory" "is unfortunate and has given occasion to philosophical misunderstanding." Yet he felt that although the new name would "perhaps be better, it would cause confusion to change the generally accepted name after all this time."

"Apart from cultural considerations, the new name, "theory of invariance," would have done much more justice to the science of relativity. On hearing physicists talk everywhere of "the theory of invariance" the broader public would have come to suspect that Einstein's real achievement consisted in shedding light on some very absolutist aspects of the physical world. Such are the independence of the speed of light of the velocity of its source as well as of its detector, and the unchanging form of the basic equations of electromagnetism regardless of the motion of the coordinate system with respect to which they are formulated. The theory of relativity is a form of physical science far more reliably absolutist than Newtonian physics was with its doctrines of absolute space and time."

~Stanley L. Jaki: "Science, Culture, and Cult," in Lectures in the Vatican Gardens. (RVB, 2009)

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

That dammed eye...

That dammed eye─the human eye!
─G. Hardin

"LUCIEN CUÉNOT, the great French biologist, reserved a central place for his reflections on the eye in his book on finality in biology. If one considers, he wrote, the most specific interconnections involved in the structure of the eye which can be vitiated "by the smallest deviation, the idea of a finalist direction is born invincible.... It is not daring to believe that the eye is made for seeing." These two statements enclose Cuénot's expression of philosophical despair. Its cause is his seeing an irresolvable conflict between the finalist direction, which "amounts to explaining the obscure by the more obscure" and the impossibility "to forgo a guideline in the train of [biological] events." Despair or not, he at least registered the difference between two different perspectives. 

"Clearly, as long as a guideline leads somewhere, it means goal-directedness, the very concept which the Darwinian biologist cannot justify on the basis of his method, a method of sheer mechanism. The Darwinian biologist also finds, to continue with Cuénot, "that each type of eye from the most rudimentary to the most developed is complete in itself.... When one examines an animal, one does not hesitate for a moment to identify the eyes." Then the question, "How could one assign to chance variations the recurring origin of such complexes with multiple interconnections?", [Cuénot] becomes an expression of despair about that method. The despair can indeed become so annoying as to make the Darwinian biologist explode: "That dammed eye─the human eye!"[Garrett Hardin]

"Such a reaction makes sense only if it betrays at least a tacit admission on the part of the Darwinian biologist that natural selection is not  a wholly satisfactory explanation of the formation of the eye."

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Purpose Of It All, Chap. 3─Pattern Versus Design.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The purposes of Darwinism

THE PUBLICATION of his [Charles Darwin's] early Notebooks removed any doubt about some markedly non-scientific motivation at work in him when he jotted down his first ideas on evolution, within a year or two after he stepped ashore from the 'Beagle.' In those Notebooks there is no trace of the one who a few years earlier lectured, with references to the Bible, the officers of the 'Beagle' on the evil of swearing and cursing. Rather, the Notebooks contain more than one gibe, revealing in their crudeness, at a theistic outlook on existence in general and on human nature in particular.

Darwin felt antagonistic to the doctrine of creation in a far deeper sense than the special creation of every species. His real target was the primeval creation. No wonder that he felt ashamed for having "truckled to public opinion" by speaking, in the conclusion of the "Origin," of the evolutionary process as ultimately due to the Creator. In stating, around the centenary celebration of that book, that "Darwinism removed the whole idea of God as the creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion," Julian Huxley tried to strike at primeval creation by aiming first at the special creation of each and every species.

Darwin's remark in those Notebooks that "if all men were dead, then monkeys may make men," reveals his thorough conviction that man's origin and therefore his end too were exclusively animal. The same conviction was coupled with a contempt for anything spiritual in the following remark: "Origin of Man now proved—Metaphysics must flourish—He who understands baboon would do more towards metaphysics than Locke. . . . Our [simian] descent then is the origin of our evil passions!—The Devil under the form of Baboon is our grandfather." This remark was no less no less pitiful as far as reasoning went than the question: "Why is thought, being a secretion of brain, more wonderful than gravity, a property of matter?" This and similar utterances of Darwin, among them his call for an "evolutionary" conquest of that citadel of theism which is the mind, point at some primitive instincts at work for some patently non-scientific purposes.

Clearly, if Darwin had been just a scientist, how could he feel an overriding urge to conquer that citadel for a purpose which had to do more with crude materialism than with science?

~Stanley L. Jaki: The Purpose of it All, Chap. 2—Purposeless Evolution.

Friday, January 11, 2019