Daniel Dennett published an article titled ‘A Perfect and Beautiful Machine’: What Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Reveals About Artificial Intelligence in The Atlantic on 22nd June, 2012. What follows is the text of a post of mine on the Polanyi Discussion List, polanyi_list.
Daniel Dennett is performing conjuring tricks for his Atlantic audience.
To this day many people cannot get their heads around the unsettling idea that a purposeless, mindless process can crank away through the eons, generating ever more subtle, efficient, and complex organisms without having the slightest whiff of understanding of what it is doing.
How true. Drop the last couple of clauses, and he’s describing Polanyi.
In order to be a perfect and beautiful computing machine it is not requisite to know what arithmetic is.
This in bold, no less. I’ll come back to this. Continue reading “‘A Perfect and Beautiful Machine’”
In the collection of essays on which I based my discussions of Bultmann, you will find, as the last essay, a summary of the original eight essays by Austin Farrer, entitled An English Appreciation. In the course of it, he offers this:
The established, or virtually established, positions of science and history give rise to necessary refusals, as when we refuse to believe that the world was created eight thousand years ago or that the sun stood physically still for Joshua… About necessary refusals nothing can be done or ought to be done. They must be accepted.
Continue reading “The Science of Resurrection”
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side… Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.”Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight… As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit… “See my hands and feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.
This is what Christians believe. St Paul understood this. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile… If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied. At least, this is what Christians believed for two millennia, and what they still profess. The problem is that so many of them do not.
Continue reading “Resurrection Denialism”
What does Dawkins mean by the term evidence? That seems to depend on the circumstances in which it is applied. In a previous post, I wrote about the challenge to the likes of Dawkins, presented by the testimony of and about Padre Pio. Subsequently, I discussed the use Dawkins made of Hume in dealing with that challenge.
It has occurred to me since, that Dawkins double standards on evidence align him in some senses with the Schoolmen from the declining years of Scholasticism; or at least with the caricature of them that is retailed by the camp-followers of “The Enlightenment.” In this view, the Scholastics were lost in a world of excessive subtle arguments based on an Aristotelian and Thomist philosophy, splitting finer and finer hairs in a debate hopelessly divorced from the real world. Into this massive but brittle word of ideas was introduced a new realism, throwing away the old edicts, and relying only on observation, evidence and reason. Continue reading “The Schoolman Dawkins”
In my previous post, I quoted from Dawkins’ Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, as follows.
It is the 70,000 witnesses that impress. Could 70,000 people simultaneously be victims of the same hallucination? Could 70,000 people collude in the same lie? Or if there never were 70,000 witnesses, could the reporter of the event get away with inventing so many?
Let’s apply Hume’s criterion. On the other hand, we are asked to believe in a mass hallucination, a trick of the light, or a mass lie involving 70,000 people. This is admittedly improbable. But it is less improbable than the alternative: that the sun really did move. … If the sun moved in truth… an even greater miracle would have to have been perpetrated: an illusion of non-movement had to be staged for all the millions of witnesses not in Fatima. And… if the sun had really moved at the speed reported, the solar system would have broken up. We have no alternative but to follow Hume… and conclude… that the miracle of Fatima never happened. Moreover, it is not at all clear that the onus is on us to explain how those 70,000 witnesses were misled. [My bold emphasis.]
Continue reading “Dawkins v. Fatima”
C. Bernard Ruffin, in his book Padre Pio: The True Story, wrote:
Padre Pio was almost an exact contemporary of Rudolph Bultmann (1884-1976)… Bultmann wrote in Kerygma and Myth: “It is impossible to use electric light … and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of demons and spirits.” Yet Padre Pio, Bultmann’s contemporary, convinced many a learned man that angels appeared to translate letters he received in foreign languages, that he cast out devils, and that he was, on many occasions, knocked bodily to the floor by irate demons.
It was reading that which sent me to Bultmann in the first place. The contrast between the despairing and barren Christianity of Bultmann, and the richness that was Pio’s Christian spiritual life and his gift in the lives of those who came in contact with him—that contrast could not be greater. One cannot subscribe to both views of Christianity. Continue reading “From Pio to Bultmann and back”
I suppose there are those who come to the faith gradually; upon whom it steals up and like a rising tide claims more and more of the territory of the soul by imperceptible increments. Presumably, such people’s sensibility is attuned to Christianity, but its tines have not been struck just so. It’s not surprising that there would be many such. We live in the decline of Christian societies, and move among the neglected monuments of Christian culture, morality, law, philosophy, theology and the science that studied the rational and good works of God, rational and good. Theirs is not the situation I wish to discuss. Continue reading “The Gestalt of Faith”
This is a follow-on from my previous post. It looks at the subsection that follows from the summary view of the NT as mythology. I urge you to read this subsection in its entirety in Kerygma and Myth. I will summarise it here, but it is such an unreasonable and unreasoning series of assertions that you may want to verify that this is, indeed, what Bultmann wrote. Continue reading “Bultmann: The Problem 2. Obsolete Mythology”
As mentioned in a previous post, Kerygma and Myth contains the text of Bultmann’s New Testament and Myth in the first two parts authored by Bultmann. I will look at the first of those, The Mythological Element in the Message of the NewTestament and the Problem of its Re-interpretation Part I. That document is further subdivided by Bultmann into
Part I: The Task of Demythologizing the New Testament Proclamation
A. The Problem
Continue reading “Bultmann: The Problem 1. The Myths”
I watched the last twenty minutes or so of the movie Ratatouille with a four year old boy the other night, doing my shift while his parents were having dinner with us. The animation was very good, and the visual syntax was varied, dramatic and assured. They sure know how to make animated movies nowadays.
One scene that struck me was when the girl, having walked out of the restaurant with all but one of the staff, for reasons I could not fathom due to ongoing discussions with the four year old, is stopped in traffic on her motorbike, and looks to the side at something which invokes remorse at her leaving. The lanes of traffic on either side of her drive off, with her sitting on the bike, and the traffic held up behind her. (It loses in translation.) Another is the previous scene when the staff walk out of the kitchen, and we have a rat’s eye view of the feet and legs in regulation black and white checks as they tramp out. Continue reading “Candy Glass”