Tuesday, August 28, 2018

“The fact of evolution”

“IN another lecture I took up the design argument. Here, too, I presented my own ideas couched in views or comments made by various people during the previous hundred years or so. I made much of Darwin’s contradictory statements about design and purpose, to say nothing of natural selection and chance. The topic demanded more space, but it was not for another twelve years that I had the opportunity to devote a set of eight lectures to the design argument taken as a particular aspect of the much broader question of purpose. I have, however, made it clear that, regardless of the defects of the mechanism of evolution, the fact of evolution had to be held by a theist even more firmly than by a materialist. For a materialist merely the power of matter is at stake, whereas for the theist the honor of the Creator as one who can endow matter with all the power proper to matter.

“Clearly, a notion of a Creator who had to interfere with natural processes whenever a new species was to arise, had to appear unworthy of God, who can and ought to be worshiped, and a theology that has such a God for its object. By evolution I simply meant that the powers of matter are wholly sufficient to account for any material transformation insofar as it is observable and measureable, be it the transformation of species. For the scientist any species as such has to be a strictly material entity. In that respect the competence of the scientist is unlimited. By the same token, the scientist cannot argue against some non-material directive force in nature as long as that force remains non-material, that is, metaphysical. Such a force cannot be considered non-existent just because the scientific method forecloses it being observed, weighed, and measured. Philosophy is required to prove the existence of such a force, though without ever attributing to it any material characteristic. The scientist may safely ignore it, though to be consistent he should also say that he cannot observe life. Life is not merely the motion of bits of matter and the replicating of their configurations. Fully satisfactory thinking about evolution implies the often frustrating recognition that one has to handle at the same time two balls, standing for two mutually irreducible sets of concepts.”

~Stanley L. Jaki: A Mind’s Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography, Chap. 6—The Gifford Lectureship.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Theological liberalism

“THE wages of theological liberalism are not only spiritual death, but also a chronic and contagious intellectual schizophrenia.”

~S.L. Jaki: A Mind’s Matter: An Intellectual Autobiography, Chap. 9—Biblical Matters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Creation and Scientific Creativity

“JAKI…roundly rejects chance as an explanation for processes in the cosmos, let alone an explanation of the cosmos itself. Making chance the ultimate explanation reduces the cosmos to less than a sheer mechanism: it empties of coherence physical processes and poses an inherent threat to the purposeful nature of science. In this connection a principal target of Jaki is the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics in general and of Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty in particular. The essence of that interpretation, Jaki insists, is not science but philosophy, indeed a philosophy of anti-ontology. Once viewed in this light, the principle of uncertainty becomes, when taken for the overthrow of causality, a cheating with real matter. For, to quote Jaki, “if the inexactitude in measurement means inexactitude in ontological causality, then in each radioactive emission a fraction of real matter, however small a fraction, becomes unaccounted for in the sense of being an uncaused entity that can come and go for no reason whatever.” The chance proclaimed by the Copenhagen interpretation is, according to Jaki, “a philosophical ghost residing in the shadowy realm between being and non-being.” Jaki makes it clear that it is a fallacy to deduce an ontological proposition from the use of a purely operational tool, a fallacy made easier by the inroads of idealism and pragmatism into scientific thinking. Jaki’s sensitivity for the crucial role of ontology comes through just as well in his stricture of Darwinism whose essence is “that there are no essences except one essence which is sheer matter.””

~Paul Haffner: Creation and Scientific Creativity: A Study in the Thought of S.L. Jaki, Chap. 3—Pitfalls and Prospects of Science.

Available at Real View Books and Amazon

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cosmic Background Radiation

By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like a dot; by thought I encompass the universe.”
(Pascal, Pensées No. 265)

“THE STORY of the 3ocosmic background radiation is well known through able popularizations. Possibly the best of them has as title, "The First Three Minutes," a first-rate misnomer. It can easily create the impression that science can specify the first moment of physical interactions, let alone the very moment of creation. It is also misleading because it draws attention away from what should seem to be most significant in the 3oradiation. That radiation is a supreme evidence that speculations about the primordial structuring of the universe are on the right track in more than one sense. No track could be straighter, narrower, more specific, or, from the point of view of man, more consequential. The track leads to a primordial condition of the universe which can be told in a few lines, almost in a few words, illustrating the stunning power of the mind to conquer the universe. That it takes only a few words stands to reason. The more specific an entity is, the fewer words it takes to identify it. The identity tag for the universe in its primordial state need not contain more than the following data: one proton, one neutron, and one electron for every 100 million photons, and the whole conglomerate at a temperature of about a hundred billion degrees. Such are the necessary parameters for the genesis of all chemical elements forming the actual universe. Had any of those parameters been different, however slightly, the formation of the actual set of elements could not have taken place, the universe would not be what it is, and we humans could not be part of it as our physical make-up is based on that very same set. ... Such is the background to the emergence in modern cosmology of the so-called anthropic principle. . . .”

~Stanley L. Jaki: Angels, Apes, & Men, Chap. III. 
(Sherwood, Sugden & Co. 1983)

The Realist Guide to Religion and Science

Recommended Reading:

The Realist Guide to Religion and Science
by Paul Robinson

● See this book at Amazon
● At Gracewing Publisher
● Read the Foreword by Rev. Dr Paul Michael Haffner

Paul Robinson clearly presents the teachings of Fr. Jaki for a general audience.