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.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Josiah - a man of reform

These are the slides for a talk I gave at a church service this morning on Josiah (2 Kings 23)

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Dooyeweerd's theory of man

Glenn Friessen has just posted Dooyeweerd's 'The theory of man in the philosophy of the law idea: 32 propositions on anthropology'. Glenn writes:

It is not known who made the first English translation, as distributed by the ICS mimeo. I have made some spelling corrections and grammatical changes. The original underlining in the typewritten translation has been replaced by italics, as in the original. The propositions marked with an asterisk [*] include both the original Dutch and the English text. For those propositions, this is a new translation. More importantly, I have used W.J. Ouweneel’s book De leer van de mens (Amsterdam: Buijten & Schipperheijn, 1986) in order to include extra material that Dooyeweerd added to these propositions. Ouweneel found this extra material in Dooyeweerd’s unfinished manuscript De mens: Inleiding tot de anthropologie van de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee (typescript volume II, pages 753-898, Dooyeweerd Archives, Amsterdam, dated approximately 1942). I follow Ouweneel’s practice of inserting this extra material for these propositions between the markers <>. This unfinished manuscript was to be volume III of Dooyeweerd’s Reformation and Scholasticism, but he did not complete it. In his 1964 lecture, Dooyeweerd indicated that he still did want to finish it, although he said that Volume 2 of that planned trilogy, which was supposed to be a polemic directed against Roman Catholicism, had lost its point. This is because recent developments in Catholic theology (la nouvelle théologie) had resulted in that book having lost its point. He says that Roman Catholic theology is now moving in a direction opposed to scholasticism; it has now raised the following ideas: (1) it speaks about man’s radical corruption (2) it opposes any split between a domain of philosophy belonging to natural light of reason and a domain of theology belonging to the divine light of revelation (3) it denies the autonomy of thought (4) it affirms the religious center of man.

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Friday, 24 August 2007

Odds and sods

There are no crosses in Makoto Fujimura's paintings. No images of Jesus gazing into the distance, or serene scenes of churches in a snow-cloaked wood.
Fujimura's abstract works speak to his evangelical Christian faith. But to find it takes some digging.

Monday, 20 August 2007

On Dawkins - a compilation of links

A reducio ad absurdum: The Dawkins Delusion

Dawkins' websites

God Delusion
  • William Lane Craig examines Dawkin's 'argument for atheism' here.
  • Macht has started to blog through Dawkins' God Delusion. I and II. As always, Macht has some insightful comments.
  • Alister McGrath 'The Dawkins delusion'


In general

Book responses to Dawkins

  • God Delusion Debate David Quinn vs. Richard Dawkins Click Here to listen
  • Is God a Delusion? Atheism and the Meaning of Life Alister McGrath Click Here to listen
  • God Delusion Debate Alister McGrath vs. Richard Dawkins Part 1 and Part 2.
  • Dawkins and McGrath chaired by Joan Bakewell here.


  • Dawkins Q&A session on the God Delusion:

Dawkins answering questions

Sunday, 19 August 2007

The prodigal God as good shepherd

A talk by Calvin Seerveld on 'The prodigal God as good shepherd' is available here (wma format).

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Saturday, 18 August 2007

Odds and sods

Andrew Linzey, Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, writes a piece in the Church Times on 'First hit the pets, then the people': 'Christians need to act on the link between animal and human abuse'.

Jazz and philosophy? Sounds like a great mix Douglas Grouthius has an article in October's The Philosopher's Magazine on 'Swinging in class'. [HT Douglas Grouthius]

Also from Douglas are two mp3 sermons: 'What would Jesus say to a relativist?' and 'What would Jesus say to a new ager?'

A discussion between Hugh Ross and Victor Stenger on the latter's book God: The Failed Hypothesis [HT Debunking Christianity]

Nigel Warburton has recently posted the chapter on Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion as an mp3 here.

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Friday, 17 August 2007

Turing on maths

This piece is taken from the play/ film 'Breaking the Code'. The screenplay was by Hugh Whitemore based on Alan hodges biography. Dilly Knox asks Alan Turing to explain in 'general terms' his research. This is Turing's response. It is a great summary of twentieth-century mathematics from Russell to Turing.

A few words of explanation general terms?

Well, erm, it’s about right and wrong in ... general terms...It’s a technical paper in mathematical logic. but it’s also about the difficulty of telling wrong from wrong. You see people think, that well, most most people think that in mathematics we always know what is right and wrong, not so, not anymore. It’s a problem that has occupied mathematicians for forty or fifty years.
How do you tell wright from wrong?

Bertrand Russell has written a book on it his Principia Mathematica – his idea was to break down all mathematical concepts and arguments into little pieces and then show they can be derived from pure logic. Well it didn’t quite work out that way and after many years of intensive work all he was able to show was that it was terribly difficult to do anything of the kind; but it was an important book. Important and influential it influenced both David Hilbert and and Kurt Godel. It’s rather like what physicsts call splitting the atom. As analysing the physical atom has led to a new kind of physics so the attempt to analyse these mathematical atoms has led to a new kind of mathematics.

David Hilbert took the whole thing a stage further. I don’t suppose his name means much if anything to you? Wel there you are you see, it’s the way of the world people never really seem to hear about the really great mathematicians. But Hilbert looked at the problem from a completely different angle He said that if we are to have any fundamental system for mathematics, like the one Russell was trying to work out

It must satisfy three basic requiremts: consistency, compelteness and decidability.

Now consistency means you won’t ever get a contradiction in your own system, in other words you will never be able to follow the rules of your and end up with showing 2 + 2 = 5.

Completeness means that if any statement is true there must be some way of proving it by using the rules of your system

and decidability means, well decidability means that there must exist some method, some definite procedure or test which can be applied to any given mathematical assertion and which will decide whether or not that assertion is provable.
Now Hilbert thought this was a perfectly reasonable set of requiremtns to impose.

But within a few years Kurt Godel showed that no system for mathematics could be both consistent and compete and he did this by constructing a mathematical assertion, which said in effect: This assertion cannot be proved.
Classic paradox! This assertion cannot be proved. Well, either it can or can’t
If it can be proved we have a contradiction and the system is inconsistent
If it cannot be proved then the assertion is true. But it can’t be proved, which means the system is incomplete.
Thus mathematics is either inconstent or incomplete. It’s a beautiful theorm. It’s quite beautiful. I think Godel’s theorem is the most beautiful thing I know.

The question of decidabilty was still unsettled. Hilbert thought there should be one single clearly defined method of proving whether mathematical assertions were provable. The decision problem he called it the entscheidungsproblem. In my book on computable numbers I wanted to show that no one method can work for all questions, solving mathematical problems requires an infinite supply of new ideas. It is one thing to make this claim it is a monumental task to prove it. I needed to examine the provability of mathematical assertions past present and future. How on earth was it it be done?

Eventually one word gave me a clue – people had been talking a bout a mechanical process and process that could be applied mechanically to mathematical problems, a process without requiring any human invention or ingenuity – machine; that was the crucial word. I conceived the idea of a machine. A Turing machine which would be able to scan mathematical symbols, it read them if you like it would read a mathematical assertion and then arrive at a verdict whether that assertion was provable. I was able to show that Hilbert was wrong. My idea worked.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

John Forbes Nash Jr on ET messages and mathematical ideas

How could you," began [George] Mackey, "how could you, a mathematician, a man devoted to reason and logical proof ... how could you believe that extraterrestials are sending you messages? How could you believe that you are being recruited by aliens from outer space to save the world? How could you ...?"
Nash looked up at last and fixed Mackey with an unblinking stare as cool and as dispassionate as that of any bird or snake."Because," Nash said slowly in his soft, reasonable drawl, as if talking to himself, "the ideas I had about supernatural beings came to me the same way that my mathematical ideas did. So I took them seriously."

Sylvia Nasar A Beautiful Mind (Faber and Faber: London, 1998; p. 11)

Sunday, 12 August 2007

More on Dawkins

Richard Dawkins has started to look at new age therapies on a UK TV (Ch4) programme due to go out tomorrow: details here.

In today's Observer Neil Spencer one of Dawkins's 'enemies of reason' responds.

Nigel Calder in an interview on 'orthodoxies and experts' given on an Australian programme decribes Dawkins's view of evolution as 'out of date':
[HT Uncommon Descent]

William lane craig examines Dawkin's 'argument for atheism' here.

A new webiste from Michael penfold: atheistdelusion
I now regard Richard Dawkins as a dangerous enemy of truth, not the 'advocate for disinterested truth' he likes to style himself. As for my humble biology teacher, he is to be pitied for uncritically believing and teaching what he saw in the textbooks. It's the Dawkinses of this world who are the real culprits in this deception. For a number of years I quietly contemplated 'doing something about it' but my annoyance at Dawkins never went any further - that is, until September 2006, when his book The God Delusion came out. After carefully reading through it I concluded there was a need for a comprehensive website exposing Darwin's Rottweiler Charles Simonyi calls him. You're on that site now.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Odds and sods

Thursday, 9 August 2007


Paul Robinson has recently posted something on enkapsis. Here is Robert Knudsen's take on it, from Anakainosis 1(2) pp 4-5.

Enkapsis by Robert D. Knudsen

The term "enkapsis" had its origin in the work of Martin Heidenhain. It was taken over by Theodore Haering, through whom it became better known. The word, which may be said to mean "encapsulation", derives from the Greek enkaptein.

As used in the Philosophy of the Cosmonomic Idea, the term refers to individuality structures in relation, the relation being such that one or more individuality structures are enclosed, or encapsulated, by another, but not in such a way as to be parts of a whole. The relation is such, furthermore, as not to destroy the individuality structure or structures of what has been encapsulated. Further yet, the relation is such that the structure or structures taken up in an enkaptic relation­ship assume new characteristics and activities. They are, it is said, "opened up". The relationship, therefore, is not simply an external one.

When an enkaptic relationship is dissolved, an individuality structure bound up in it reverts to its free form and again assumes the character­istics proper to it.

If in an enkaptic relationship we are not confronted with a whole/part relationship, we are also not confronted with levels. Indeed, one or more individuality structures are encapsulated in another. That is, however, not as levels, where a "higher" level might reach down only to a certain point. Instead, what encapsulates another individuality structure embraces and qualifies the entire enkaptic whole. That is not to say, however, that it assimilates what is encapsulated in it.

In a plant, for example, which embraces enkaptically what are non-liv­ing substances, we have what is a living organism. The entire plant is a living organism, even though it contains non-living indiviuality structures.

The form of a statue, which is aesthetically qualified in an objective fashion, encapsulates the material out of which the statue is made. The material indeed imposes certain limitations on the artist; but the finished product is an aesthetically qualified whole.

Dr. Robert D. Knudsen [was] Associate Professor of Apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pa. 19118. He is a contributing editor of Philosophia Reformata and Editor-elect for the Dooyeweerd Publication Committee.