My article in American Atheist Magazine
Posted: 09 June 2012 06:41 PM   [ Ignore ]
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My article about futile confrontations between theists and atheists appeared in the April 2012 Issue of American Atheist Magazine. The link is:

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/theo/atheist.html

Please share this link with other potential readers. Thank you in advance,

Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia) 

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Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia), a retired nuclear physicist from New Jersey, USA. A am also the author of a FREE ONLINE book: “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

It is an autobiography based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

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Posted: 10 June 2012 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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“Theology is like mathematics, not science.”

As someone who loves math, for me, this is where you lost me.  Math may be like a language such as Latin in its rules and symbol manipulation, but I see little similarity to theology.

Rather than looking at whether symbolic proof or physical proof is required, what’s important for this discussion regarding math and other sciences is that proof, of some legitimate kind, is required.  And, importantly, it’s frowned upon for mathematical proof to contradict the real world, when math is configured to model the real world.  Information cycles from other sciences, through math, to other sciences, and back again, which continually improve each.  If good real world evidence is contradicted by math, then the assumptions or inputs or choice of formula, etc. are wrong.  Mathematicians don’t just bellow that the world is incorrect.  They work with scientists to choose or create the math that applies to the situation most appropriately. 

I don’t see any similar cooperation with theology and science.

I’m not a scientist, but the evidence available to me as a layperson appears to lead to the most plausible explanation for spirituality being states or processes in the physical brain.  This is certainly well within science’s domain, and scientists have an obligation to speak out on this, to the extent they can.  If they happen to show that spirituality probably doesn’t lie within the physical brain or body at all, I expect you’d be happy.  So let them speak what they have to say.

As for morals and values, I don’t think that is theology’s private domain.  That’s one domain of philosophers, more broadly.  Before getting to morals and values, theists need to justify their assumptions about the supernatural—the basic “what is there” and “how do we know”, which they answer with larger result sets than atheists.  They have not yet made that case to my satisfaction.

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Posted: 10 June 2012 06:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Randy - 10 June 2012 06:00 PM

“Theology is like mathematics, not science.”

As someone who loves math, for me, this is where you lost me.  Math may be like a language such as Latin in its rules and symbol manipulation, but I see little similarity to theology.

Rather than looking at whether symbolic proof or physical proof is required, what’s important for this discussion regarding math and other sciences is that proof, of some legitimate kind, is required.  And, importantly, it’s frowned upon for mathematical proof to contradict the real world, when math is configured to model the real world.  Information cycles from other sciences, through math, to other sciences, and back again, which continually improve each.  If good real world evidence is contradicted by math, then the assumptions or inputs or choice of formula, etc. are wrong.  Mathematicians don’t just bellow that the world is incorrect.  They work with scientists to choose or create the math that applies to the situation most appropriately. 

I don’t see any similar cooperation with theology and science.

I’m not a scientist, but the evidence available to me as a layperson appears to lead to the most plausible explanation for spirituality being states or processes in the physical brain.  This is certainly well within science’s domain, and scientists have an obligation to speak out on this, to the extent they can.  If they happen to show that spirituality probably doesn’t lie within the physical brain or body at all, I expect you’d be happy.  So let them speak what they have to say.

As for morals and values, I don’t think that is theology’s private domain.  That’s one domain of philosophers, more broadly.  Before getting to morals and values, theists need to justify their assumptions about the supernatural—the basic “what is there” and “how do we know”, which they answer with larger result sets than atheists.  They have not yet made that case to my satisfaction.

I also like mathematics. Yes, it is very important to all scientists. One similarity with theology (which I tried to identify) does not make it “the same as” theology. My point is that mathematicians do not measure sides of right triangles to justify Pythagorean theorem. And the value of PI=3.1416 is not based on measurements of perimeters and diameters of circles. Many mathematical formulations have nothing to do with physical world. That does not disqualify them. The topic is interesting and profound. The essence of my article, as you certainly know is the difference between scientists and theologians.

Thank you for the comment,

L.K.

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Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia), a retired nuclear physicist from New Jersey, USA. A am also the author of a FREE ONLINE book: “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

It is an autobiography based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

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Posted: 10 June 2012 09:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Ludwik Kowalski - 10 June 2012 06:54 PM

I also like mathematics. Yes, it is very important to all scientists. One similarity with theology (which I tried to identify) does not make it “the same as” theology. My point is that mathematicians do not measure sides of right triangles to justify Pythagorean theorem. And the value of PI=3.1416 is not based on measurements of perimeters and diameters of circles.

Depends on the mathematician. I understand that Archimedes did almost exactly that to derive a value for Pi. He measured regular polygons with increasing numbers of sides and set them to bisect the circle, being either on the inside or the outside of the circle, and used the results to average out a pretty good approximation.

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“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

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Posted: 11 June 2012 03:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 10 June 2012 09:15 PM
Ludwik Kowalski - 10 June 2012 06:54 PM

I also like mathematics. Yes, it is very important to all scientists. One similarity with theology (which I tried to identify) does not make it “the same as” theology. My point is that mathematicians do not measure sides of right triangles to justify Pythagorean theorem. And the value of PI=3.1416 is not based on measurements of perimeters and diameters of circles.

Depends on the mathematician. I understand that Archimedes did almost exactly that to derive a value for Pi. He measured regular polygons with increasing numbers of sides and set them to bisect the circle, being either on the inside or the outside of the circle, and used the results to average out a pretty good approximation.

This was when mathematics was part of empirical science. Today it is based on logic only, as far as I know.

L.K.

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Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia), a retired nuclear physicist from New Jersey, USA. A am also the author of a FREE ONLINE book: “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

It is an autobiography based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

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Posted: 11 June 2012 01:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Good article. smile

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I saw a happy rainbow recently.

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