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.

Saturday, 31 December 2005

Philosophy of technology: a new website

Macht has started a new website dealing with the philosophy of technology. At present there is a list of on-line resources. It is well worth checking out. It includes links to articles by reformational thinkers such as Schuurman and Charles Adams.

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Egbert Schuurman: a Christian philosopher of technology

Professor Egbert Schuurman (1937 - ) is a professor of Reformational philosophy at the Universities of Delft and Eindhoven and at the Agricultural University of Waneningen in the Netherlands. He is also a member of the Senate of the Dutch parliament. He studied under Dooyeweerd and Van Riessen at the Free University in Amsterdam.

He is the author of :
He also contributed to the Calvin Center for Scholarship book Responsible Technology edited by Steven V. Monsma - sadly now out of print.

An audio tape of Egbert speaking on the ethics of technology is available from WYSOCS.

On-line articles include:
There is a Wiki article on him here.

Another on-line article is available here [HT Macht]
Update 2
Another on the ethics of responsibility is here

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Science and religion quotes

Also, we should not forget that the bible is pre-scientific, not only in the sense that it historically pre-dates the rise of modern science, but also in the sense that it adrresses us prior to or scientific and scholarly theorising. It is not irreleveant to such things. It is foundational to such things by addressing us first and formoest as men and women created by God as his image bearers on earth, and born to enjoy conscious communion with him. Accordingly the bible was not written by and for scientists as scientists, or by and for theoreticians as theoreticians. It was inspired for the instruction of people as people.

Friday, 30 December 2005

All of Life Redeemed website update

There are two more paper by the historian Keith Sewell on line: The Eclipse of History and the Crisis in the Humanities and The Bible, Science and Scholarship.
Both these papers were presentations to The Reformed Post-Graduate Students Conference in Australia. The later paper discusses the relationship between the Bible and our tasks as scientists and scholars. He sees the Bible as being 'religiously directive' rather than 'scientifically encyclopaedic', which sounds about right to me!

I have also updated the Abraham Kuyper pages - there are new links and the old links have been updated. Included are links to chapters from his important book Lectures on Calvinism and a bibliography of books and on-line articles on Kuyper.

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Thursday, 29 December 2005

Adolfo Garcia de la Sienra

Bruce Wearne has published an interview with Adolfo Garcia de la Sienra in the Fiji Daily Post on the 7th and 8th of December. Bruce has kindly agreed for it to be posted to the All of Life Redeemed website. It is available here as a pdf.

Adolfo is a Mexican economist and philosopher.

He is the editor of The Rationality of Theism and a contributor to Bob Goudzwaard's Globalization and the Kingdom of God, Contemporary Reflections on the Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd, Idealization VI: Idealization in Economics and the author of The Logical Foundations of the Marxian Theory of Value

On-line by Adolfo: a review of Thick as a Brick
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Wednesday, 28 December 2005

Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking: chapter 8

In the eight and final chapter Dowe pulls things together. He maintains that the best way to view science and religion is in terms not of conflict but of harmony. He rejects the strong indepedence view and sees 'considerable interaction' between the two.

Suprisingly he advocates an evidentialist position: 'if there is no evidence for the existence of God then it is not rational to believe in it'. He also believes that the designer argument is useful: 'the designer revealed by science is perfectly compatible with the God of the Bible...' (p. 195). He goes on '... it is true that the anthropic argument will not settle, for example, whether Christianity or Islam is correct, but if correct it does show that one of these or something similar is right, and that atheism is not (p. 195).

Dowe has, I think, shown that the conflict view of science and religion is erroneous. Galileo, Darwin and Hawking is one of the best science and religion books of 2005 - it is much better than most of those on the Science and Theology website list.

When I first started to blog my way through this book I wondered how effective historical case studies would be to tell us how science and religion should relate? I am still left with this unanswered question.

Friday, 23 December 2005

Ethics: Person, Practices and Society

The Association for Reformational Philosophy in the Netherlands organised a conference on ethics during the summer of 2005. Some of the papers from the conference are now available for download (HT Paul Robinson).

These include papers from the panels: ethical relevant connections and practices and the workshops. There are papers by Andrew Basden, Doug Blomberg, Rudi Hayward (it's about time he started to blog - how about it Rudi?), Danie Strauss, Henk Stoker, Harry Cook, John Van Dyk, Uko Zylstra and many others.
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Thursday, 22 December 2005

Galileo, Darwin, and Hawking chapter 7

Dowe next examine what he calls the ‘chance worldview’ – the existence of chance refutes the classical theist doctrine of divine providence. It maintains that:

our universe is intrinsically chaotic in the sense that its development from moment to moment is sometimes a matter of chance. In other words, the world does not know in full detail where it is going next. (p170-1).

It is an unpredictable world and is to some extent uncontrollable and purposeless. Chance limits our capacity to steward nature. It also challenges the sovereignty of God.

God’s providence means that:

(i) every event and every aspect of every event is directed by God (p 173) – no event would happen if it weren’t for God

(ii) God is a sufficient cause of every event and every aspect of every event

(iii) God provides the complete reason – God has a special purpose for everything.

Dowe outlines three models of absolute providence: occasionalism, concurrence and Leibnizian.

In Nicholas Malabranche’s occasionalism God does everything directly. When a billiard ball hits another it is God making it happen – everything is due to God. Causes are the occasions of God’s action.

Concurrence – associated with the Scholastics and more recently with Louis Berkhof – is the position that every event has two concurrent direct causes: God and a natural cause.

In Leibniz’s view God created the world complete with all its causal powers and laws of nature. The world has its own power given and sustained by God, although God doesn’t directly make event happen. God is the indirect rather than the direct cause of all that happens. Before the creation God considered all that could happen and created the world so that it would be the best of all possible worlds.

Chance and determinism are linked. If determinism is true then there can be no chance; conversely if there is chance then there determinism cannot be true.

Bell’s theorem suggests that at the quantum level there is genuine chance – it seems to rule out hidden variable theories.

To illustrate Bell’s theorem Dowe utilises an analogy using identical twins.

What then are the implications for providence? (R C Sproul in his Not a Chance maintains that quantum mechanics (QM) itself is not correct.)

Could God bring about quantum effects that QM regards as chance events? If a chance event is uncaused by God, then the no hidden variables proof refutes God’s providence. However, it could be that God produces what we think of as chance events.

Polkinghorne maintains that chance is ‘God’s steering wheel’ – God acts creatively in the quantum gaps (information but no energy is transferred). If God controls chance then there is no problem with providence.

In Bell’s theorem there is an assumption of locality, but this wouldn’t apply to God; God is not subject to a local restriction – he is not located in space. Dowe suggests that God might allow the ‘strange correlations’ uncovered by Bell in order to ‘leave a trace’ of his existence. He even (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) proposes a quantum cosmological argument, where Bell’s theorem proves God! Though as Dooyeweerd has rightly said, ‘Whatever can be proven would not thereby be God.’ There are no knock-down arguments for God.

If there is no divine cause to chance what are the theological implications? According to Peter van Inwagen God could control his purposes by controlling less than everything. God sets up the world to ensure that certain things will happen; this is a limited rather than an absolute providence.

Dowe concludes:

Should the theist be bothered by the chance worldview? Does chance refute providence? No. If chance exists then either it is caused by god (and that is allowed by Bell’s theorem) and this is no problem for providence and there’s no conflict with science; or chance is not caused by God, in which case it’s compatible with strong Calvinist providence providing it doesn’t lead to meaningful consequences. Insofar as chance does lead to meaningful consequences, strong providence entails that God causes that chance. (pp. 189-90)

This can be summarised in the following diagram:

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Total Truth Study Guide

Those of us who bought the first edition of Nancey Pearcey's excellent Total Truth can now get the study guide that accompanied the second edition; it is available from the Pearcey Report in a 31-page pdf format.

Tuesday, 20 December 2005


WYSOCS have now introduced 'radio' . Guy Donegan-Cross's lecture on 'Culture and ultimate destiny' can be heard in three different formats. Guy, and Anglican vicar, affirms good reformational eschatology. [HT MJHB on thinknet]

Monday, 19 December 2005

Remember the Milk

Taking a leaf (?) out of Maggi Dawn's blog I've signed up for 'Remember the milk' an on-line to do list manager. You never know it might organise my life for me.

Kakuro - the new Sudoku

A new craze has hit the UK: Kakuro. It is a mathematical crossword, similar to Sudoku - except you have to be able to add as well! They are a form of linear programming problem - though they are much more fun when solved using a pen and pencil! The Guardian was the first newspaper to introduce it to Britain - though it remains to be seen if it will replace Sudoku. I got hooked on Sudoku over the summer while we were away camping and I'll be trying Kakuro over the Christmas holiday. Some games are available here, here ,here and here. There's even a tutorial here.

An on-line version is available here; and a list of valid digit combinations are here.

Sunday, 18 December 2005

Weblog awards

Congratulations to the Evangelical Outpost for winning the best religious blog in the Weblog awards 2005. The full result are here

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Interview with Bob Goudzwaard a Christian economist

The Christian sociologist Bruce Wearne interviews the Christian economist Bob Goudzwaard: part 1 and part 2 in Sight magazine.

Goudzwaard is professor emeritus, at the Free University in Amsterdam. He was elected to the Dutch Parliament in the 1970s and served for a time in a Christian policy research institute in The Hague.

Works by Goudzwaard on-line include:
Some reviews of Goudzwaard's books:
Goudzwaard is also the author of the seminal book Capitalism and Progress.

Saturday, 10 December 2005

All of life redeemed update: Christianity and the University

There have been some important articles uploaded to the All of life redeemed website. Keith Sewell has edited and revised a paper by Jan Dengerink 'The necessity of Christian universities' as well as a book by Hendrik Van Riessen, The University and its Basis. The original book is available from Colin Lanfer. Also new to the site is a paper by Keith called 'A high challenge for tough times'.

Friday, 9 December 2005

Dooyewerd's last interview

Glenn Friesen has translated and put on-line Dooyeweerd's last interview.

Glenn writes:
This interview is important for understanding Dooyeweerd, not only with respect to his view of law, but with respect to his social and political views. Dooyeweerd also gives information about the development of his philosophy, his many lecture tours, and his relation to institutions abroad such as the Institute for Christian Studies. Some readers will also be surprised by the view of Scripture and theology expressed in this interview, and by his objections to certain ideas of Abraham Kuyper and Groen van Prinsterer. And it also appears from this interview that the current translation of Dooyeweerd’s Encyclopedia of Legal Science is based on the wrong edition.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Dooyeweerd on the days of Genesis

I refer, for example, to the question concerning the sense of the six days of creation. By disregarding the faith-aspect of the temporal order and by utilizing astronomical and geological concepts of time, theology was entangled in the following dilemma: if these days are not to be understood in the sense of astronomical days of twenty-four hours, they are to be interpreted as geological periods. A curious dilemma indeed. For it has not occurred to any theologian to apply this alternative to the seventh day, the day on which God rests from all his work which he had made. This would be rightly considered blasphemous. But why was it overlooked that the same blasphemy presents itself if God's creative deeds are conceived of in natural scientific time-concepts? The reason is that the theologians who posed the dilemma mentioned did not realize the fundamental difference between the divine creative deeds and the genetical process occurring within the created temporal order as a result of God's work of creation. Here the influence of Greek philosophy clearly manifested itself. For because of its pagan religious basic motive, this philosophy excluded any idea of creation. It merely accepted a temporal genesis, at the utmost conceived as the result of a formative activity of a divine mind which presuppoes a given material. The scholastic accommodation of the biblical revelation of creation to this Greek idea of becoming gave rise to the false view that creation itself was a temporal process.
God's creative deeds surpass the temporal order because they are not subjected to it. But as a truth of faith of God has revealed these creative deeds in the faith-aspect of this temporal order which points beyond itself to what is supra-temporal. It was God's will that the believing Jew should refer his six work days to the six divine creative works and the sabbath day to the eternal sabbathic rest of God, the Creator. This is the biblical exegesis given by the Decalogue. And it eliminates the scholastic dilemma concerning the exegesis of the six days of creation, which originated from a fundamental disregard of the faith-aspect of the temporal order. This disregard is also to be observed in the Augustinian interpretation of the six days as a literary form or framework of representation which lacks any temporal sense, through this conception is, no doubt, preferable by far to the astronomical or geological interpretation.

Herman Dooyewerd In the Twilight of Western Thought (Craig Press, 1960; pp 149-151)
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