Kuhn’s Insight – John Polkinghorne and The Value of Value

In my last post, I declared victory for Scientific Realism over Positivism on the grounds that even if Positivism is right, it’s first “prediction” must always be that we ignore it as “truth” – at least to some degree – and be committed to our theories a “the truth” or else we can’t make scientific progress.

I therefore declared that on the point that Kuhn and Popper disagree, that Popper wins by default.

However, Kuhn had many insights that Popper missed or downplayed that help fill in the explanation gaps in Popper’s own theories. One of these is the fact that “refutation” really only happens between two (or more) competing theories. While Popper does not deny this, he really didn’t make it as clear as Kuhn either. We will eventually see that this insight is a key point in understanding the value of Theology.

Another explanation gap that Kuhn fills for Popper is explained in this quote:

Fortunately, there is also another sort of consideration that can lead scientists to reject an old paradigm in favor of a new. These are the arguments, rarely made entirely explicit, that appeal to the individual’s sense of the appropriate or the aesthetic – the new theory is staid to be “neater,” “more suitable,” or “simpler” than the old. (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, p. 155) Continue reading

Morality and Coercion

I have been working on a series of posts about morality for a while now. In some previous posts I talked about the following:

  1. The human perception of morality is not rationally justifiable and can’t be justified without an appeal to some supernatural Something-Like-God.
  2. That any attempt to explain objective morality will always end up being a religion, for religions are what you get when you assume morality to be objective and then come up with an explanation of how that can be.

In one of my older posts I mentioned in passing that morality is (almost) always non-personal and is perceived as applying to everyone. In fact, it so strongly applies to everyone that it even applies to people long dead. Continue reading

Why Scientific Realism Wins

In my last post I quoted Stephen Hawking’s defense of Positivism. He even goes so far as to suggest that there is no all encompassing view of reality but instead only “a family of interconnected theories, each describing its own version of reality…” (p. 70)

But accepting Positivism as the true nature of reality has consequences.

A famous real-world example of different pictures of reality is the contrast between Ptolemy’s Earth-centered model of the cosmos and Copernicus’s sun-centered model. Although it is not uncommon for people to say that Copernicus proved Ptolemy wrong, that is not true. …the real advantage of the Copernican system is that the equations of motion are much simpler in the frame of reference in which the sun is at rest. (p. 71)

Boy, are you ready to accept this? That the earth is no more revolving around the sun then the sun is revolving around the earth and that the only real reason we believe the earth revolves around the sun is because the math is simpler that way? Continue reading

Why Did You Resign (from Mormon Matters)? – The Question of “Balance”

In my first post I gave a bit of my history on Mormon Matters and explained the players that were there when things began. I also covered my previously mentioned reasons for quitting, which included feeling like my interest and the communities did not match and also feeling like Mormon Matters played a certain important role that I was personally disrupting by my presence.

Was Mormon Matters Balanced?

I had come to the conclusion that Mormon Matters was not intended as a true open discussion about Mormonism. (i.e. it claimed to be a “one stop shop” but in fact wasn’t.) I believed that it was (as I said in my previous post)…

… a friendly place to ‘let off steam’ for those that didn’t believe in the LDS Church’s defining beliefs any more (sometimes still practicing, sometimes, not) while still allowing them to interact with a certain kind of Mormon that still believed, but was sympathetic to their concerns. This belief-with-sympathies approach really only worked if the believers were willing to not strongly challenge the post Mormons on their new beliefs or on their concerns.

To explain why I had come to this conclusion, I’m going to post about a number of related subjects. While I doubt I can convince anyone of my position, if I can at least get you to say “yes, I can see why you’d draw such a false conclusion” I’ll consider these post as having wildly exceeded my expectations. Continue reading

Stephen Hawking’s Defense of Positivism

In my last post I finished comparing Popper and Kuhn and again concluded that there really isn’t much difference between the two other than on the issue of Scientific Realism vs. Positivism. That is to say, Popper believes that science actually discovers theories closer and closer to the truth whereas Kuhn believes it becomes more useful over time in ways that we humans wish it to be, but that there is not necessarily some underlying truth to be discovered.

In a previous post I previously considered the advantages of Scientific Realism vs. Positivism. (See also here) Both have pros and cons, but Scientific Realism is the clear winner when it comes to generating new conjectures and theories. If one were to solely believe in Positivism one would never actually believe in their own theories enough to think up new questions/problems to solve and test. The end result would be the stagnation of science.

However, this fact aside, does this mean Scientific Realism is actually true and Positivism false?

Hawking’s Defense of a Positivist View of Reality

Recently Hawking wrote a book called The Grand Design. In that book, Hawking makes a number of controversial assertions. The one that got the most press time – don’t you just love the media? – was the claim that the laws of physics are sufficient to create the universe and that God has no role to play. This is, actually, a very interesting point and one that deserves rigorous criticism – which I’ll gladly give it in the future.

But in reality, this wasn’t the most important challenge that Hawking makes. The really big challenge Hawking makes in his book is that Positivism is actually the nature of reality, not Scientific Realism. We saw in this past post that Hawking is a Positivist.

Continue reading