## Thursday, November 21, 2013

FlynnHGL
The TOF Spot: Summa origines scientiarum: Proœmium, Articulus 1, Articulus 2
Against O'Floinn on Relation of 17th C. Scientific Revolution to 13th C. Scholasticism
Articulus 3
My comments on Articulus 3 doubleposted under my own
My own here. Linked to there.
I
HGL
π is measured over and over again by laying out pebbles along a circle and its diameter, another circle and its diameter and counting the pebbles and doing the division.
Flynn
a) This is not doing mathematics. b) It is not proving a theorem. c) It is incapable of demonstrating that the value of π is not a ratio of integers. d) What physical experiment do you suggest for proving that a topology on a function space is conjoining and splitting?
one by one:
a) This is not doing mathematics.
HGL
It is. This is how π was measured before there were the very modern algorithms that used over and over again do π to forty decimals or beyond.
Flynn
b) It is not proving a theorem.
HGL
What about the theorem that π is a constant?
Flynn
c) It is incapable of demonstrating that the value of π is not a ratio of integers.
HGL
I think that was checked time after time with value after value that failed to conform to the constant.
Flynn
d) What physical experiment do you suggest for proving that a topology on a function space is conjoining and splitting?
HGL
If by "topology on a function space" you mean graph on two or three axes, I propose no physical experiment. Neither do I for each and every consideration in the natural sciences. Some things have to be thought out or figured out (literally as in figures on a paper as well).
II
HGL
Pythagoras owed lots to superstitious motivation, just as astronomers to astrological one.
Flynn
But we're not talking about an individual's motivations. We're talking about how a cast of thought engenders natural science. Pythagoreanism was in many respects a worship of mathematics, not vice versa.
HGL
And astrology is worship of astronomy, not vice versa. Still, the individual motivations of astronomers may be a worship of astronomy prompted by astrology. And if individual motivations are not considered, then there is no case for saying Christianity promoted sciences either, since Grosseteste is an individual, so is Oresme, so is Clavius, so is Riccioli, and so on.

You just shot your argument in the foot. Unless you think collective and statistic motivations are more important than individual ones, which is not a Christian position.
III
HGL
St Robert Bellarmine would have stood with Hovind and not with Lemaître.
Flynn
And you know this how? Note also that relativity was taught in mathematics, not in physics, until physical proofs were found, such as the orbit of Mercury or the background radiation. This was precisely what Bellarmine was asking for in his letter to Foscarini. That he did not expect empirical evidences to be found doesn't change the nature of his objection to the lack of them.
part by part
And you know this how?
HGL
St Robert Bellarmine trusted even King Solomon, because he was the wisest mere man, not to have said somthing which can be disproven. Galileo was the one who said Bible and its exposition by consensus of Church Fathers apply only to Salvation matters, not to Scientific ones. Galileo was the one who said since God gave us reason to figure nature out, he had no need to give any science lessons in the Bible.
Flynn
Note also that relativity was taught in mathematics, not in physics, until physical proofs were found, such as the orbit of Mercury or the background radiation.
HGL
To a Geocentric believing in angelic movers (such as Riccioli) and in a sphere of fixed stars equidistant from a central earth, neither uniform background radiation from all directions nor any orbit of Mercury could prove relativity.
Flynn
This was precisely what Bellarmine was asking for in his letter to Foscarini.
HGL
Can you quote the words, so I can verify the "precisely"?
Flynn
That he did not expect empirical evidences to be found doesn't change the nature of his objection to the lack of them.
HGL
Evidence for Heliocentrism as well as for Evolution is still lacking. St Robert Bellarmine's objection to lack of empirical evidences for Heliocentrism is no different from Hovinds objection to lack of empirical evidence for "miiiiillllions of years".
IV
HGL
You are generalising, since it is wrong to say Catholics and Orthodox accept evolution just because some do so.
Flynn
Unlike the sundry do-it-yourself sects, which set the individual's will against the magisterium (or as the Orthodox call them, the Holy Traditions), the Traditional Churches have official teachings and it does not matter what wackadoodle notions some of their members might entertain. I said that the Catholic and Orthodox churches had no problem with the scientific theory, but only with the metaphysical and social baggage that has been piggybacked onto it.
HGL
And I say this contradicts the Confession of the Council of Trent (precisely as it did in St Robert Bellarmine's day), and it matters not a whit what whackadoodle notions some mere possible members such as Schönborn or John Paul II entertain or entertained. For instance about it being enough to object to the metaphysics and social pseudo-ethics but not to the theories.

You mentioned very aptly that the Orthodox Churches - exactly like the Tridentine Council - appeal to Holy Traditions. Obviously these do include literal inerrancy of the Bible. Obviously these do not include Evolution or Heliocentrism or the kind of compromising exegetics that for instance Galileo and Lemaître did.

Traditions does not equal the kind of "living magisterium" that turns away from millennia of tradition.
V
HGL
Wow, Xenophanes a better Christian than Schönborn!
Flynn
Hard to say. Which one was responsible for the Catechism of the Catholic Church?
HGL
Would Schönborn have been behind that doctrinal monstruosity? An extra point in favour for Xenophanes then!
VI
HGL
The question was perhaps not so much orbital irregularities as how a balancing between gravitation and inertia could lead to revolution after revolution after revolution of two bodies around common centre of gravity ... and it is not just two bodies either ... without ever getting out of balance and smaller body shooting off at a tangent or falling in to the bigger one. And so far I have not come across Laplace's purely naturalistic solution. I have time after time come across his theory of planets forming from original disc of whirling gas, which is another matter.
Flynn
There is a good discussion of the transition from Ptolemy to Newton to Laplace to Poincare in the Ekelund book that is referenced. For the straigh skinny on Laplace, try Exposition du système du monde ...
HGL
I went to page 194 and found:

La solution rigoureuse de ce problème ... ... in fact a complicating one not the mere basic I was referring to ... ...surpasse les moyens actuels de l'analyse, et nous sommes forcés de recourir aux approximations.

And the work I would have needed was Mécanique céleste. Except I think even empirically he was wrong.

As to Exposition, I had already used it in a refutation of Laplace's argumentation for Heliocentrism in the beginning of Book II.
Flynn
... The old Catholic Encyclopedia says of Laplace: Laplace was born and died a Catholic. It has been asserted that to Laplace the Creator was an hypothesis. The origin of this assertion lies in the misinterpretation of a passage of the "Système du Monde" (Oeuvres, VI, 1835, p. 480), where it is evident that by "vain hypotheses" Laplace meant the Deus ex machina of Newton and the "perpetual miracle" of Leibniz's Harmony.

Hope this helps.
HGL
But a perpetual miracle - or what modern astronomers would call so - was exactly what St Thomas Aquinas and Riccioli believed in. They all believed God was each day providing the force that turned the Heavens around earth and that angels (or God Himself, but the angelic solution has better Biblical support, Riccioli refers to Baruch 3 and Job 38 just as I do) provide the force that move celestial bodies.
VII
Anonymous
Go become a janitor. Or are you too "sophisticated" for that?

This comment is directed at Mr Lundahl.
HGL
Is "anonymous" afraid of the debate?

I am not too sophisticated to be a janitor, but too inefficient in scrubbing.

I have also heard from youth in the age to be studying at senior high school "go take a work" or even "sell your butt".

Maybe their teachers do not want them to take notice of any writing coming from me. Maybe because they are even worse than O'Flynn in answering my arguments (atheist teachers in Paris not being the brightest).

Just maybe.

And the fact that you remain anonymous does not make me trust you are either a Christian or an English speaker.
VIII (let's get away from that anonymous back to O'Floinn, shall we)
Franklin
A tale for another time? Something to look forward to!

I don't read science fiction, but I have enjoyed SO MANY of your blogposts this summer and fall, that I have to try your novels now. Before I get 'river of stars', is their another you would more readily recommend to.an adult convert who doesn't read scifi but really enjoyed your series on the Ptolemy to Relativity series here recent?
Flynn
People have said nice things about Eifelheim.
There is also a story collection Captive Dreams
+++

The Spiral Arm series is far-future high space opera. It starts with The January Dancer.

The Firestar series is near-future hard SF, some of which future is now technically in the past. It starts with Firestar.

My first novel was In the Country of the Blind updated for a second edition by Tor, in which references to the Soviet Union were past-tensed and mention of "the National Datanet" were changed to "the Internet." What happens to people who regard other people as means rather than as ends in themselves?

The collection The Forest of Time overlaps one story with Captive Dreams
Anonymous (hopefully not the same one)
Captive Dreams is an excellent volume. Many of the stories contain great ideas without becoming "idea stories." They are also quite pro-life without being overly didactic.

Here is a review on the Massachusetts Citizens for Life website: http://masscitizensforlife.org/captive-dreams/
HGL
The Spiral Arm series is far-future high space opera.

Space opera depends on assuming Heliocentric-Acentric views of the cosmos, right?

Now, Round Earth was confirmed by da Gama, but remember that Han Solo is a fiction and your own fiction a prediction that can go wrong.
IX
thefederalist
"Goddidit" was not an acceptable explanation in medieval Christian philosophy.

Sure it was. Maybe not in 'natural' philosophy, but at least the medievals had the wit to admit the possibility of a miracle, if it was the best explanation that fit the evidence.

I know that's not what you meant. Thanks for a fun romp through the desiccated orchards of Jerry Coyne's reasonings.
HGL
Even for the technically non-miraculous the Christian (as opposed to Averroist) Philosophy "God did it" (for Creation in the past, neutral as to distinction between natural and miraculous events) or "God does it" (as to causing of daily rotation of the Universe, a prime example of the First Mover) was totally acceptable.

Who said this anyway? "Goddidit" was not an acceptable explanation in medieval Christian philosophy.

If it was our dear TOF, I missed it, I would have contradicted it right away.

I refer to the 219 condemnations by Bishop Tempier in 1276/1277 (latter year if it started in January, former if it did not end till March 25).

I copied out and commented a list from Piché's book, but not his French translations:

http://petitlien.com/tempier
Flynn
a) William of Conches; St. Albertus Magnus; St. Thomas Aquinas; Bishop Nicole Oresme, among others. All of them averred that God was Primary Cause of all existence, but that He had endowed matter with natures capable of secondary causation, and it was the job of natural philosophy to determine these secondary causes. They held it as illegitimate to cite Divine intervention as the explanation of a natural phenomenon. Second Causes are instrumental and depend upon the Primary Cause for their effectiveness. But one set of folks believes that one they have understood the mechanism of the piano, there is no need for the pianist. Another set of folks fears that this is true and therefore finds it highly rational to deny the piano.

b) A closer inspection of the Condemnation of 1277 is called for. The bishop intervened wearing his hat as Rector of the University of Paris in a jurisdictional squabble between the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Theology in that University. It was a hastily put together list and contains many duplications, and was not endorsed by the Pope. However, it did serve to nudge natural philosophy away from Aristotelian deductive necessity and toward a more modern view of empirical induction. Pierre Duhem called it the "birthday of modern science." For example, one article condemned the Aristotelian notion that there cannot be more than one World; another, the notion that there cannot be a vacuum. God's infinite power assures us that He could have created other Worlds and could have created a Vacuum. The question then became, "Well, did He?"
HGL
a) Second Causes are instrumental and depend upon the Primary Cause for their effectiveness.

Absolutely. However it is not an infinite distance in order of causation between Primary and secondary.

At some point a secondary cause is indeed directly caused by the primary.

For instance, God is directly himself turning Heaven around Earth each day. The things turned involve for instance the Sun and therefore the Sunshine each day is secondarily caused by that star.

but that He had endowed matter with natures capable of secondary causation

Natures are the four elements and the animals and plants and diverse minerals with diverse virtues.

Not energy as understood by modern physics.

Among secondary causes there are also angelic ones. Matter is not credited with the power to move other than "to its natural place" (up for air and fire, down for earth and water), any other movement is due to either chance or spirit, and this either human (art) or angelic or God Himself.

As to "energy" it is a controversial concept. It translates directly as "potentia" in Latin. And a potentia cannot have a quantity per se. It can of course have a maximal potency - a silver smith's hammer handled by a child will not break a wall of stone. But it cannot have a definite quantity.

Now, impetus is the thing the hammer gathers on its way from where child held it to when it hits wall. It corresponds to kinetic energy. But then it is obviously wrong when modern science says "energy can neither be destroyed nor created" and says kinetic energy was before it became kinetic potential energy of minimally same quantity (some might have been lost). I e the potential of being a potential.

If you study precursors of Newton's two first laws in John Philoponus, you will find that Newton changed the formulation significantly by adding "or uniform motion" as if that were equivalent of rest in one place.

Another set of folks fears that this is true and therefore finds it highly rational to deny the piano.

As a rebuttal of either Geocentrism or Young Earth Creationism, this is a strawmannus maximus. If it refers to anyone else, say who, but YEC and Geocentrics are not disciples of Al Ghazali.

And thank you for saying "piano" and "pianist", because that means - correctly - that God is handling the Universe and its processes all the time. The processes, notably day and night, would not be there except for God continually moving it.

I have nothing against a correct investigation of secondary causes. But it cannot push the First cause further into the background than was traditionally held to be the case, rationally.

Anything a secondary cause can do, the First cause can also do, and therefore at some point the First cause can be the real cause even if a secondary were thinkable and coherent. Lamech was seventh from Adam. It was thinkable that beyond his ancestors five generations back there were instead of just two ancestors sixtyfour. And it was thinkable that behind "those" - the generation of Adam and Eve - there were instead of God, the First Cause, the usual kind of Second cause, i e a generation of 128 people.

Let us Suppose Lamech was Uniformitarian

Projecting Secondary causes backwards the usual way they go will not always lead you to the truth, because there is a First Cause. And there is a finite number of secondary causes between it and the effects we observe right here and now (whichever place we read this at whatever time).

b) It was a hastily put together list

Indeed, I copied a list reorganised in chapters after subject.

and contains many duplications,

No real ones. The 219 or perhaps rather (as in one manuscript) originally 220 condemned theses meander between the subjects. Of some fifty errors on God the original numbers go from thesis one (denial of Trinity, unless that was thesis 2) to very close to the end.

A rearranged list was made. It was called theses condemned in Paris and in England. Meaning they are still forbidden there as well as in the colonies of England and France, unless they were revoked (I'll get back to this in a moment).

and was not endorsed by the Pope.

If that was Duhem's historic conclusion, it was not Piché's more recent one. The Pope actually did encourage Bishop Stephen II Tempier to condemn errors of what one may stile the Averroist and Necessitist / Nihilist / Agnostic type.

However, Stephen III issued a revocation of the condemnations "insofar as they are reputed to condemn any thesis of Thomas Aquinas" ... that revocation was also endorsed by its Pope, and it was in connexion with the canonisation of the Angelic Doctor.

But, the thing is, no real conflict between St Thomas and Bishop Tempier has been detected.

My guess about the thesis 220 is that it was cut off from the original list in order to comply with the new episcopal order 48 years later - whereas the other condemnations remained untouched, since found not to be in conflict with St Thomas.

God's infinite power assures us that He could have created other Worlds and could have created a Vacuum. The question then became, "Well, did He?"

Most famous affirmative answer to the first of these (condemned thesis 34) being of course C. S. Lewis' Narnian "other creation."

Which is why I wrote a certain part of this chapter:

Susan's dreams become a book

It is fan fiction and not Neil Gaiman style.

As to the question of vaccum, the answers seems to be no, unless you redefine it.
X (challenging TOF on similar point in end part of his blogpost)
HGL
I missed this one:

First of all the medieval Christians likewise rejected the idea of divine intervention to account for the common course of nature,

Depends very much on what they qualify as "intervention".

For instance if God and angels are all the time doing all the movements not simply due to nature (like fire going up or stones going down or wolves after rabbits or after shewolves) or to human decision, which is the Thomist position, even miracles are not properly speaking "interventions". Intervene is said about outside powers getting in where they are usually not.