Dear reader, Here are my slides. Please share your comments. I’d like to know what you think. Respectfully, — Al
Slides of part 1, Feb 2
Slides of part 2, Feb. 16
Dear reader, here are my slides on God and Randomness, Parts 1 & 2, Feb. 2 & 16, 2018. Please share your comments. I’d like to know what you think. Respectfully, — Al
Al, I did not read your book, so I can judge about it only by your talks. I have some logical problems with those.
1. In your slides, there is no explanation, what do you mean by one of the two words you use in the title, the “randomness”. You did not define the word “God” either, but I can presume that you mean biblical God. When you were asked about your meaning of “randomness”, you answered that it means unpredictability. Then you were asked again: unpredictability to whom? to general public, to expert community, to genius people, to clever extraterrestrials, to Laplace Demon or to God? You did not give the answer at your talk, so the meaning of this word remains completely unclear.
2. In your talk you did not make a distinction between unpredictability and indeterminism. Do you make this distinction in your book?
3. If your “randomness” is only unpredictability to humans, it apparently has nothing to do with the ways how God can operate in the world. Then your question “How can God play a role in the presence of randomness?” looks totally illogical to me.
4. Your slides predominantly give examples of what do you consider as “random” (which still remains unclear), asking at the end how God can play a role in this random world, and if atheism/agnosticism is the only answer? Apparently, all your “random” cases strongly support atheist views, without suggesting any alternative hypothesis, why loving us God may allow all that terrible random evil. Do you suggest such hypothesis in your book?
Here are my responses:
1. Randomness in our context means the absence of predictability. The whole book provides many examples of what is meant by randomness. Let me quote one of our 10 endorsers, Francisco J. Ayala. Donald Bren Professor of Biological Sciences, U. of California, Irvine. He is the 2001 National Medal of Science Laureate, 2010 Templeton Prize Laureate, and member of the National Academy of Sciences:
“In God and Randomness, the authors explore the presence of randomness in processes that encompass everything in the universe, from the world of subatomic particles all the way to the solar system and the galaxies, as well as human life and human history, all the way to the twentieth century, including two world wars, the Great Depression, and jihadi terrorism. Is randomness compatible with human self-awareness and free will? All these issues and many more are examined in depth in God and Randomness, yet using very readable language.”
I provided this quote on the first slide of each presentation and I read this quote each time.
In chapter 1 “Defining Randomness” definition to the term was provided. On Feb2 & Feb16 I did not cover that material so that we could have time cover other themes and have enough time for discussion. There was good attendance & good discussion both times.
2. Yes. In chapter 1 see the sections “Causality,” “Determinism,” “Indeterminism, “The Human Mind, Choice, and Free Will.” Table 1 on p.17 provides a summary.
3. We mean “randomness,” as explained chapter 1, to be include all unpredictability, not to just humans. Therefore, our concept of randomness has a lot to do with our questions about how God can operate in our world, assuming a theistic starting point.
4. Verbally I said in a number of different ways that our speculation that God exists and operates in dimensions that are unavailable to us helps us to better understand the randomness in our lives and elsewhere, as Francisco J. Ayala summarized in #1 above. Of course, God’s existence includes the four dimensions that we find ourselves-in. Our speculation, however, clearly does not answer the whole “problem of evil.” I mentioned that repeatedly.
“our speculation that God exists and operates in dimensions that are unavailable to us helps us to better understand the randomness in our lives and elsewhere”
You just claim this, but did not suggest any idea how this speculation may help in this respect. Why those additional dimensions make difference? Are they needed to you just to speculate that the “random” events are predictable to God? If only for that, you may just postulate full predictability to God, which in fact is theological mainstream.
Personally, I find it interesting that over the last two years or so my presentations and comments seem to get a vigorous push-back from you, compared to other presentations and comments.
It helps in that our speculation provides a kind of conclusion that would likely appeal to more of a STEM audience as opposed to a more traditional religious response, such as glib statement like “God’s ways are not our ways” with nothing else.
Our speculation seems somewhat akin to string theory’s 10-dimensions, simulations of thought patterns in human brains, my reference The Varieties of Religious Experience, and near death-experiences (the E. Alexander reference). I realize that correlation does not prove causality.
These associations cannot be used to rigorously prove the multi-dimensionality of God, which is our speculation. But then, when it comes to the existence of God and His/Her operation in this world were so much randomness happens, what really is rigorously provable? I suggest the answer is nothing is provable. The universe is theologically ambiguous. I contend these are soft areas. If you demand rigorous proofs, I’d say they don’t exist.
Al, I did not demand to prove anything. I just do not see in your slides, talks and comments any relation at all between God’s operations, supposed multi–dimensionality and “the randomness in our lives and elsewhere”. You claim that one helps to see the other, but I do not see in your words any reason for that. It sounds like a strange bare claim.
Alexey, in the slides & in my oral presentations I consistently called our conclusion a “speculation.” There cannot be any doubt that this means “not strictly provable.” Our conclusion was not rigorously based on “reason.” In a court of law if the prosecutor doesn’t have the weapon, doesn’t have the body, and doesn’t have all the verified alibis; a circumstantial case is presented to the jury, based on a collection of facts, none of which prove the case but taken together point toward a guilty verdict. My presentation is circumstantial. I tried to explain this in my previous posting.
In the short presentation time I showed evidences that demonstrate “the presence of randomness in processes that encompass everything in the universe, from the world of subatomic particles all the way to the solar system and the galaxies, as well as human life and human history, all the way to the twentieth century, including two world wars, the Great Depression, and jihadi terrorism.” (Francisco J. Ayala, cited earlier)
You do not identify why you “do not see” our conclusion. This is the nature of circumstantial cases. Some jurors will have a higher standard of proof. Some jurors will have biases against the prosecutor, making agreement with the prosecutor difficult, if not impossible. Others will be more accepting of our conclusions as Francisco Ayala and our other nine endorsers were. Of course, each juror must come to their own conclusion, ideally without bias.
Al, as I am saying, in all your words I do not see any reasonable connection at all between the three entities you claim you connect circumstantially. Simply no connection, neither direct, nor circumstantial. If you will quote 7th time the same statement of Ayala, or blame me in whatever, it would not help.
Alexey, it seems appears to me (stated circumstantially and without bias) that our thread has come to an end. I stand on my previous posts which apparently are not sufficient to overcome whatever your unstated objections are. I will not be responding to future comments unless new insights and/or data are brought forward.
You did not answer at all my stated objection, Al. It is fully up to you, of course. Good luck with everything.
Alexey, personally, it appears that most everything I write or say is criticized by you. This is different from all other feedback I’ve received. My conclusion is that you are a minority of one and that there is something else going on here besides reasonable discourse. — Al
Al, I do not remember any positive feedback on your talk. Tim expressed his strong criticism; Matt asked you a key question, which you did not answer; Jim, impressed by your apparent inability to distinguish unpredictability and indeterminism, did it for you; all my questions were unanswered. Well, Swapan purchased your book, stressing though that he is doing that not because of your talk, but because of the Ayala’s reference. In this blog you had one more chance to answer some of key questions to your talk, but, regretfully, you did not do it either. Instead, you are telling about my unreasonable motivations to criticize you. This personal blaming trick is strongly forbidden in our group, by the way; I am showing you the yellow card.
Perhaps, I should inform that after this exchange of posts Al Brunsting said his goodbye to our society, requesting to remove his address from our mail list. Well, his address is removed. What can I add to that? Philosophy, if it deserves its name, differs from a compliment exchange. In fact, science inherited its thorough style from ancient rationalists, through the scholastic and modern philosophy. It well may be, of course, that there was a way to make the same comments softer than I did, but I did not see that, and still do not. After all, I would be grateful for so attentive and critical remarks to my talks, as I suggested to Al, whom I wish all the best.
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