An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Most scientific papers are probably wrong!

According to a report in the New Scientist:

John Ioannidis, an epidemiologist at the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece, says that small sample sizes, poor study design, researcher bias, and selective reporting and other problems combine to make most research findings false. But even large, well-designed studies are not always right, meaning that scientists and the public have to be wary of reported findings.
The question is, is Ioannidis's paper wrong?

Update: Ioannidis's paper is available here.

Tuesday, 30 August 2005

Technology is Not Necessarily Neutral

Carl Hausman, in a guest commentary for Institute of Global Ethics, rightly observes:

There's really nothing inherently neutral about most technologies because their very existence shapes how we interact with others and creates new dimensions to moral dilemmas, especially in the workplace, where technology becomes a de facto instrument of control.

Saturday, 27 August 2005

Vollenhoven's Introduction to Philosophy

I have previously mentioned that some new books on and by Vollenhoven are due out soon. Vollenhoven's newly translated Introduction to Philosophy is now available from amazon UK and US as well as from Dordt College.

Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking: chapter 3 (part 1)

In this chapter Dowe examines some seventeenth century figures, Descartes, Galileo and Bacon to see how religious ideas have influenced their science.

Prior to the seventeenth century Aristotelian deductivism – epitomised in Euclid’s Elements – dominated European thought.

The concept of the image of God was taken as axiomatic in the seventeenth century – it played a fundamental role in an optimistic view of science for Descartes, Galileo and Bacon.

René Descartes’ (1596-1650) Meditations on First Philosophy attempted to do for knowledge what Euclid’s Elements did for geometry in his Elements – place it on a deductive edifice derived from certain truths.

For Descartes the ‘book of nature’ was written in the language of mathematics and ‘we rational souls have a truth-reaching capacity for reading that book.’ (Dowe, p. 63) Nature is readily readable.

Galileo took this even further than Descartes – mathematics ‘reaches a standard of infallibility that mirrors God’s understanding’. (Dowe, p. 65)

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) has been described as the father of modern science. His New Organon developed with the intention of replacing Aristotle’s Organon. Bacon rejected Aristotelian scholasticism, he wanted to synthesise practice (experiment) with discourse (theory). He had three requirements for obtaining new knowledge: discard all personal feelings and biases; observe a large sample of relevant data; deduce from the facts generalisations about nature.

So, from sufficient observations we can draw conclusions; this is an inductive rather than deductive process.

Bacon believed that true knowledge would lead to practical application: knowledge is power. Knowledge gives us power over nature. Eighty years after Bacon’s death the Royal Society took up his vision of the scientific method.

John Kok receives Dooyeweerd award

John Kok, author of Vollenhoven: His Early Development ( 1992); Patterns of the Western Mind: A Reformed Christian Perspective (1996); and Celebrating the Vision: The Reformed Perspective of Dordt College (ed., 2004) as well as the editor of a forthcoming Vollehoven Reader and professor of philosophy at Dordt College, has received the prestigious Herman Dooyeweerd Award.

Friday, 26 August 2005

Galileo Redux

An interesting article on Galileo: Galieo Redux by Steve Kellemeyer, draws a parallel between the way Galileo was treated and how the proponents of ID are treated today.

Tom Wright lectures

The Bishop of Durham, N. T[om] Wright, has some excellent lectures given at Seattle Pacific University available on-line:

The Christian Challenge in the Postmodern World

Decoding The Da Vinci Code

The Bible and Christian Imagination

God, 9/11, the Tsunami, and the New Problem of Evil

There is also a
A Conversation With N.T. Wright

Roy Clouser article

I have just added another article by Roy Clouser to the Clouser pages of the All of Life Redeemed website: "Religious Language: A New Look at an Old Problem" it was originally published in Rationality in the Calvinian Tradition , Ed. Hart, Van derHoeven, & Wolterstorff. (Lanham: University Press of America, 1983).

Thursday, 25 August 2005

Dooyeweerd's New Critique

Two bloggers are independently going through Dooyeweerd's magnum opus The New Critique of Theoretical Thought. Elbert Bass will be reading through the original Dutch translation (here) and Paul Robinson will start on the English translation (here and here). There are differences between the two versions and it will be interesting to see if this comes out in their blogging.

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Latin squares (aka Sudoku)

Sudoku (aka Su Doko, Sudoko, Soduko), is the latest craze to hit the UK. I first came across it about six months ago in a Times newspaper. The six out of the top 40 best sellers in The Guardian's bestseller's list are all Sudoko books! The concept is fiendishly simple: there is a 9 × 9 grid which is split up into nine smaller 3 × 3 grids, all the 3 × 3 grids, rows and columns must contain all nine numbers.

Sudoko apparently came to the
UK via Japan. However, it was first invented by the Swiss Leonard Euler around 1798, though he called it Latin squares. Euler was an extraordinary and prolific mathematican, see the Euler archive. He was also a committed Christian. Dan Graves in his Scientists of Faith has this to say of Euler:

Euler retained his firm Calvinist beliefs throughout life, holding daily prayer and worship in his home and sometimes preaching.

cited here.

It rather ironic that The Independent newspaper boasts that no mathematics is needed to solve it! I think they are getting confused with maths and arithmetic; there is a lot of maths going on! See here for example.

There are a number of Sudoko solvers on the web; books on how to solve them by, for example, Robin Wilson and Carol Voderman; as well as books of them; and there is no shortage Sudoko puzzles on-line to have a go at.

More new blogs

I've recently come across three great new blogs:

Refractions by artist Makoto Fujimura, detailing his journey in art, faith and travels (HT Gideon Strauss);

Every square inch a neocalvinist group blog (HT Macht); and

Reformatorische by Gregory Baus of Honest to Blog. This blog will host Greg's musings and academic thoughts while he studies at the VU, Amsterdam.


Tuesday, 9 August 2005

Virtual Network for Christian Teachers

The Stapleford Centre and the Association of Christian Teachers have launched a number of on-line forums to help put Christian teachers in touch. At present there are forums (fora?) for English, maths, RE and headteachers here.

Monday, 8 August 2005

New books on and by Vollenhoven

Dordt College Press have recently published a new book on D. H. Th. Vollenhoven by Kor Bril Vollenhoven's Problem-Historical Method (Dordt College Press, June 2005)

I have just ordered mine from amazon.

Two more books by Vollenhoven due out at the end of August:
Introduction to Philosophy (pbk)
Isagôgè Philosophiae: Introduction to Philosophy (Hbk)

The paperback is the English only of Vollenhoven's intro, the hardcover has both Dutch and English. Preface by Calvin Seerveld and (long) Foreword by Anthony Tol.