網路城邦
回本城市首頁 時事論壇
市長:胡卜凱  副市長:
加入本城市推薦本城市加入我的最愛訂閱最新文章
udn城市政治社會政治時事【時事論壇】城市/討論區/
討論區知識和議題 字體:
看回應文章  上一個討論主題 回文章列表 下一個討論主題
現在還需要假設「上帝存在」嗎? - N. Wolchover
 瀏覽3,342|回應10推薦1

胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友
文章推薦人 (1)

胡卜凱

Will Science Someday Rule Out the Possibility of God?

 

Natalie Wolchover, LiveScience.com, 09/18/12

 

Over the past few centuries, science can be said to have gradually chipped away at the traditional grounds for believing in God. Much of what once seemed mysterious -- the existence of humanity, the life-bearing perfection of Earth, the workings of the universe -- can now be explained by biology, astronomy, physics and other domains of science.

Although cosmic mysteries remain, Sean Carroll, a theoretical cosmologist at the California Institute of Technology, says there's good reason to think science will ultimately arrive at a complete understanding of the universe that leaves no grounds for God whatsoever.

 

Carroll argues that God's sphere of influence has shrunk drastically in modern times, as physics and cosmology have expanded in their ability to explain the origin and evolution of the universe. "As we learn more about the universe, there's less and less need to look outside it for help," he told Life's Little Mysteries.

 

He thinks the sphere of supernatural influence will eventually shrink to nil. But could science really eventually explain everything?

 

Beginning of time

 

Gobs of evidence have been collected in favor of the Big Bang model of cosmology, or the notion that the universe expanded from a hot, infinitely dense state to its current cooler, more expansive state over the course of 13.7 billion years. Cosmologists can model what happened from 10^-43 seconds after the Big Bang until now, but the split-second before that remains murky. Some theologians have tried to equate the moment of the Big Bang with the description of the creation of the world found in the Bible and other religious texts; they argue that something -- i.e., God -- must have initiated the explosive event.

 

However, in Carroll's opinion, progress in cosmology will eventually eliminate any perceived need for a Big Bang trigger-puller.

 

As he explained in a recent article in the "Blackwell Companion to Science and Christianity" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012), a foremost goal of modern physics is to formulate a working theory that describes the entire universe, from subatomic to astronomical scales, within a single framework. Such a theory, called "quantum gravity," will necessarily account for what happened at the moment of the Big Bang. Some versions of quantum gravity theory that have been proposed by cosmologists predict that the Big Bang, rather than being the starting point of time, was just "a transitional stage in an eternal universe," in Carroll's words. For example, one model holds that the universe acts like a balloon that inflates and deflates over and over under its own steam. If, in fact, time had no beginning, this shuts the book on Genesis. [Big Bang Was Actually a Phase Change, New Theory Says]

 

Other versions of quantum gravity theory currently being explored by cosmologists predict that time did start at the Big Bang. But these versions of events don't cast a role for God either. Not only do they describe the evolution of the universe since the Big Bang, but they also account for how time was able to get underway in the first place. As such, these quantum gravity theories still constitute complete, self-contained descriptions of the history of the universe. "Nothing in the fact that there is a first moment of time, in other words, necessitates that an external something is required to bring the universe about at that moment," Carroll wrote.

 

Another way to put it is that contemporary physics theories, though still under development and awaiting future experimental testing, are turning out to be capable of explaining why Big Bangs occur, without the need for a supernatural jumpstart. As Alex Filippenko, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a conference talk earlier this year, "The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there. With the laws of physics, you can get universes."

 

Parallel universes

 

But there are other potential grounds for God. Physicists have observed that many of the physical constants that define our universe, from the mass of the electron to the density of dark energy, are eerily perfect for supporting life. Alter one of these constants by a hair, and the universe becomes unrecognizable. "For example, if the mass of the neutron were a bit larger (in comparison to the mass of the proton) than its actual value, hydrogen would not fuse into deuterium and conventional stars would be impossible," Carroll said. And thus, so would life as we know it. [7 Theories on the Origin of Life]

 

Theologians often seize upon the so-called "fine-tuning" of the physical constants as evidence that God must have had a hand in them; it seems he chose the constants just for us. But contemporary physics explains our seemingly supernatural good luck in a different way.

 

Some versions of quantum gravity theory, including string theory, predict that our life-giving universe is but one of an infinite number of universes that altogether make up the multiverse. Among these infinite universes, the full range of values of all the physical constants are represented, and only some of the universes have values for the constants that enable the formation of stars, planets and life as we know it. We find ourselves in one of the lucky universes (because where else?). [Parallel Universes Explained in 200 Words]

 

Some theologians counter that it is far simpler to invoke God than to postulate the existence of infinitely many universes in order to explain our universe's life-giving perfection. To them, Carroll retorts that the multiverse wasn't postulated as a complicated way to explain fine-tuning. On the contrary, it follows as a natural consequence of our best, most elegant theories.

 

Once again, if or when these theories prove correct, "a multiverse happens, whether you like it or not," he wrote. And there goes God's hand in things. [Poll: Do You Believe in God?]

 

The reason why

 

Another role for God is as a raison d'être for the universe. Even if cosmologists manage to explain how the universe began, and why it seems so fine-tuned for life, the question might remain why there is something as opposed to nothing. To many people, the answer to the question is God. According to Carroll, this answer pales under scrutiny. There can be no answer to such a question, he says.

 

"Most scientists … suspect that the search for ultimate explanations eventually terminates in some final theory of the world, along with the phrase 'and that's just how it is,'" Carroll wrote. People who find this unsatisfying are failing to treat the entire universe as something unique -- "something for which a different set of standards is appropriate." A complete scientific theory that accounts for everything in the universe doesn't need an external explanation in the same way that specific things within the universe need external explanations. In fact, Carroll argues, wrapping another layer of explanation (i.e., God) around a self-contained theory of everything would just be an unnecessary complication. (The theory already works without God.)

 

Judged by the standards of any other scientific theory, the "God hypothesis" does not do very well, Carroll argues. But he grants that "the idea of God has functions other than those of a scientific hypothesis."

 

Psychology research suggests that belief in the supernatural acts as societal glue and motivates people to follow the rules; further, belief in the afterlife helps people grieve and staves off fears of death.

 

"We're not designed at the level of theoretical physics," Daniel Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Michigan, told LiveScience last year. What matters to most people "is what happens at the human scale, relationships to other people, things we experience in a lifetime."

 

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @nattyover or Life's Little Mysteries @llmysteries. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

 

 

Copyright 2012 Lifes Little Mysteries, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/science-someday-rule-possibility-god-115945479.html



本文於 修改第 4 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘

引用
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=4871158
 回應文章
誰才是真正的福音教派信徒? - R. E. Olson
推薦0


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 

Who’s a “Real Evangelical?”           

 

Roger E. Olson, 09/07/14

 

I had to laugh when I read a comment here (responding to one of my blog posts) calling me a “fauxevangelical.” The prefix “faux-” means “fake.” I’m not sure why the commenter didn’t just say “fake evangelical.” Maybe he thought calling me a “fauxevangelical” was less offensive and/or made him sound more intelligent.

 

In any case, this was just the most recent on a long series of accusations that I’m not a “real evangelical” -- whatever that means.

 

Why do I care? Well, for one thing, there are people whose job it is to categorize and label theologians. Take Patheos for example. Do I belong here -- on the “Evangelical Channel” -- or on the “Progressive Channel?” There are publishes who prefer only to publish evangelical scholars (although they may occasionally step out of that mission and publish something by a non-evangelical if his or her book is judged to make a contribution to evangelical thought). Many colleges, universities and seminaries will only hire evangelicals.

 

But beside and above the economic reasons for it, I insist that I am an evangelical because that’s my identity. I may add qualifiers, as most evangelical scholars do, such as “postconservative” or “progressive,” but I never mean that I am something other than evangelical.

 

My whole professional life and before that began has been wrapped up in my evangelical identity. I’ve expressed how and why here many times before so I won’t belabor that or repeat all that history.

 

So is there any standard or universal definition of “evangelical?” In my book The Westminster Handbook to Evangelical Theology (Westminster John Knox Press) I listed and describe six distinct meaning of “evangelical.” The one I mean when I call myself “evangelical” is provided by Mark Noll and David Bebbington -- the so-called “evangelical quadrilateral” -- four hallmarks of being evangelical.

 

Noll and Bebbington assume they are talking about Protestants who take Christian orthodoxy seriously -- trinitarian Christians who believe in justification by grace through faith alone.

 

Added to that, to make one “evangelical,” are:

 

1) conversionism,

2) biblicism,

3) crucicentrism (cross-centered devotion and preaching), and

4) activism.

 

Evangelicals are (mostly) Protestant orthodox Christians (orthodox as defined by the Nicene faith in the deity of Christ and the Trinity and by the Reformation solas) who believe that authentic Christian existence necessarily includes being converted to Christ -- an experience (whether felt as an experience or not) of transformation from a life of sin and self to a life of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ through which one is brought by the Holy Spirit into “new creation” (justification and regeneration). In other words, nobody is “saved” by being born into a certain nation-state or family or church or through any sacrament or ritual without personal commitment to Christ.

 

Evangelicals are also people (I won’t keep repeating “mostly Protestant orthodox Christians…) who have a special regard for the Bible as God’s written, inspired, authoritative Word whose authority stands above tradition and experience -- the highest “court of appeal,” so to speak, for faith and practice. Some evangelicals think the Bible must be “inerrant” to be authoritative, but they disagree among themselves about what “inerrancy” means. I agree with those who define the Bible’s perfection as “perfect with respect to purpose” (e.g., John Piper). Evangelicals also have a special relationship with the Bible as not only a textbook of correct doctrine but also as God’s living Word to be read devotionally -- a sacrament, if you will, of God’s gracious love.

 

Evangelicals are also people who bring nothing to God in their “hands,” so to speak, but cling only to the cross as their sole hope in life and death (for having a living relationship with God that includes forgiveness and acceptance). Evangelicals have a special place in their hearts and minds and worship and devotion for the cross. The atonement of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and trusted as humanity’s only hope for peace with God and for a meaning filled life in relation with God. For evangelicals the cross, the atonement of Jesus Christ that happened there, is the centerpiece of devotion and proclamation.

 

Evangelicals are also people who believe in and practice Christian activism to approximate the Kingdom of God among people through missions, evangelism and social action. They disagree among themsleves about the best means and possible ends (within history as we know it before Christ returns), but they agree as evangelicals that God calls them to be active in the world for the cause of God.

 

I do not think Noll’s and Bebbington’s quadrilateral is exhaustive or even sufficient. I suspect they would agree. These are hallmarks, but exhaustive traits or characteristics. For example, I would add (and I hope they would as well) that being evangelical necessarily includes belief in Christ’s bodily resurrection and bodily return in glory.

 

What being evangelical does NOT necessarly include is a literalistic interpretation of the Old Testament. Evangelicals have always disagreed among themselves about how best to interpret the creation accounts in Genesis and how to reconcile them with modern science. They have always disagreed among themselves about how best to interpret the prophets’ proclamations of a coming messianic reign on earth. They have always disagreed among themselves about how to read the Old Testament in terms of Christ -- whether Christ is typified in the Old Testament or not. What I mean is: Is the primary meaning of certain passages in the Old Testament Christ or is Christ appropriately read back into the Old Testament by Christians? There has never been consensus among evangelicals about Old Testament interpretation. That is not a litmus test of evangelical identity. Never has been -- in spite of fundamentalists’ claims.

 

When someone calls me a “fauxevangelical” I know I am dealing with one or both of two things:

 

someone who doesn’t know me well (hasn’t read very much of what I’ve written) and/or

a fundamentalist.

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2014/09/whos-a-real-evangelical/

 

請參照本欄下《福音神學》一文(The Emerging Divide in Evangelical Theology – G. R. McDermott),以及基督教基本教義派及其信眾》一文(What Is “Fundamentalism” and Who Is a “Fundamentalist?” – R. E. Olson) – 卜凱



本文於 修改第 1 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5189213
介紹相關論文
推薦0


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 

對宗教、神學、以及宗教與現代性關係有興趣的網友,請參照【宗教信仰研究】欄下的《巴斯以及神學與現代性的衝突》 (Karl Barth’s Failure - M. Rose)宗教信仰與現代性並無衝突》(How to Live in a (Supposedly) Secular Age – P. Berger)

 

 

 

 



本文於 修改第 3 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5098474
網際網路導致宗教觀念薄弱 - MIT Tech Review
推薦1


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 
文章推薦人 (1)

胡卜凱

How the Internet Is Taking Away America’s Religion

 

Using the Internet can destroy your faith. That’s the conclusion of a study showing that the dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the U.S. since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in Internet use.

 

MIT Technology Review, 04/04/14

 

Back in 1990, about 8 percent of the U.S. population had no religious preference. By 2010, this percentage had more than doubled to 18 percent. That’s a difference of about 25 million people, all of whom have somehow lost their religion.

 

That raises an obvious question: how come? Why are Americans losing their faith?

 

Today, we get a possible answer thanks to the work of Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, who has analyzed the data in detail. He says that the demise is the result of several factors but the most controversial of these is the rise of the Internet. He concludes that the increase in Internet use in the last two decades has caused a significant drop in religious affiliation.

 

Downey’s data comes from the General Social Survey, a widely respected sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago, that has regularly measure people’s attitudes and demographics since 1972.

 

In that time, the General Social Survey has asked people questions such as: “what is your religious preference?” and “in what religion were you raised?” It also collects data on each respondent’s age, level of education, socioeconomic group, and so on. And in the Internet era, it has asked how long each person spends online. The total data set that Downey used consists of responses from almost 9,000 people.

 

Downey’s approach is to determine how the drop in religious affiliation correlates with other elements of the survey such as religious upbringing, socioeconomic status, education, and so on.

 

He finds that the biggest influence on religious affiliation is religious upbringing -- people who are brought up in a religion are more likely to be affiliated to that religion later.

 

However, the number of people with a religious upbringing has dropped since 1990. It’s easy to imagine how this inevitably leads to a fall in the number who are religious later in life. In fact, Downey’s analysis shows that this is an important factor. However, it cannot account for all of the fall or anywhere near it. In fact, that data indicates that it only explains about 25 percent of the drop.

 

He goes on to show that college-level education also correlates with the drop. Once it again, it’s easy to imagine how contact with a wider group of people at college might contribute to a loss of religion.

 

Since the 1980s, the fraction of people receiving college level education has increased from 17.4 percent to 27.2 percent in the 2000s. So it’s not surprising that this is reflected in the drop in numbers claiming religious affiliation today. But although the correlation is statistically significant, it can only account for about 5 percent of the drop, so some other factor must also be involved.

 

That’s where the Internet comes in. In the 1980s, Internet use was essentially zero, but in 2010, 53 percent of the population spent two hours per week online and 25 percent surfed for more than 7 hours.

 

This increase closely matches the decrease in religious affiliation. In fact, Downey calculates that it can account for about 25 percent of the drop.

 

That’s a fascinating result. It implies that since 1990, the increase in Internet use has had as powerful an influence on religious affiliation as the drop in religious upbringing.

 

At this point, it’s worth spending a little time talking about the nature of these conclusions. What Downey has found is correlations and any statistician will tell you that correlations do not imply causation. If A is correlated with B, there can be several possible explanations. A might cause B, B might cause A, or some other factor might cause both A and B.

 

But that does not mean that it is impossible to draw conclusions from correlations, only that they must be properly guarded. “Correlation does provide evidence in favor of causation, especially when we can eliminate alternative explanations or have reason to believe that they are less likely,” says Downey.

 

For example, it’s easy to imagine that a religious upbringing causes religious affiliation later in life. However, it’s impossible for the correlation to work the other way round. Religious affiliation later in life cannot cause a religious upbringing (although it may color a person’s view of their upbringing).

 

It’s also straightforward to imagine how spending time on the Internet can lead to religious disaffiliation. “For people living in homogeneous communities, the Internet provides opportunities to find information about people of other religions (and none), and to interact with them personally,” says Downey. “Conversely, it is harder (but not impossible) to imagine plausible reasons why disaffiliation might cause increased Internet use.”

 

There is another possibility, of course: that a third unidentified factor causes both increased Internet use and religious disaffiliation. But Downey discounts this possibility. “We have controlled for most of the obvious candidates, including income, education, socioeconomic status, and rural/urban environments,” he says.

 

If this third factor exists, it must have specific characteristics. It would have to be something new that was increasing in prevalence during the 1990s and 2000s, just like the Internet. “It is hard to imagine what that factor might be,” says Downey.

 

That leaves him in little doubt that his conclusion is reasonable. “Internet use decreases the chance of religious affiliation,” he says.

But there is something else going on here too. Downey has found three factors -- the drop in religious upbringing, the increase in college-level education and the increase in Internet use -- that together explain about 50 percent of the drop in religious affiliation.

But what of the other 50 percent? In the data, the only factor that correlates with this is date of birth -- people born later are less likely to have a religious affiliation. But as Downey points out, year of birth cannot be a causal factor. “So about half of the observed change remains unexplained,” he says.

 

So that leaves us with a mystery. The drop in religious upbringing and the increase in Internet use seem to be causing people to lose their faith. But something else about modern life that is not captured in this data is having an even bigger impact.

What can that be? Answers please in the comments section.

 

Ref: http://arxiv.org/abs/1403.5534: Religious Affiliation, Education and Internet Use

 

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/526111/how-the-internet-is-taking-away-americas-religion/



本文於 修改第 3 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5077631
福音神學– G. R. McDermott
推薦0


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 

The Emerging Divide in Evangelical Theology

 

Gerald R. McDermott, 10/13

 

本文討論福音教會神學的派別要點與展望。由於內容過長和過於專門,不予轉貼對此主題有興趣的網友請到原網頁閱讀

 

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=18101#.Ul67fcwVHmQ



本文於 修改第 1 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5021667
基督教基本教義派及其信眾 – R. E. Olson
推薦0


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 

What Is “Fundamentalism” and Who Is a “Fundamentalist?”    

 

Roger E. Olson, 02/12/13

 

What Is “Fundamentalism” and Who Is a “Fundamentalist?”

 

Recently I posted here “Why I Am Not a ‘Liberal’ Christian.” Someone asked me to write a similar post about fundamentalism -- specifically how to identify a fundamentalist.

 

I’ll begin with what most readers, probably, want to see and what the requester asked for -- a series of criteria for identifying fundamentalism (or someone as a fundamentalist). Then I’ll go on to give historical-theological justification for the criteria. Readers who are not interested in the (admittedly rather lengthy and detailed) historical-theological justification can stop reading whenever they wish. However, I warn them that if they comment on my criteria critically I will probably tell them to go back and read the historical-theological explanation that follows the criteria.

 

So here are my (notice I say “my!”) criteria:

 

1)        If a person (or organization) is a theologically conservative Protestant Christian (by which I mean embracing classically orthodox Protestant doctrines such as the deity of Christ, the Trinity, the inspiration of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, etc.) and on principle declines to have Christian fellowship with anyone who has Christian fellowship with persons of questionable doctrinal commitments (“secondary separation”), he is probably a fundamentalist.

 

2)  If a person (I’ll skip the rest that came before the “and” in the first criterion above from here on) believes that belief in biblical inerrancy in all matters, including history and cosmology, is a cardinal tenet of Christian faith, she is probably a fundamentalist.

 

3)  If a person believes that the Authorized Version (KJV) is the only acceptable English translation of the Bible, he is probably a fundamentalist.

 

4)  If a person believes premillennial eschatology (and especially “pre-tribulational rapturism”) and young earth creationism are crucial Christian beliefs, “fundamentals of the faith,” she is probably a fundamentalist.

 

5)  If a person believes that America is “God’s nation” in an exclusive way (of other nations, tribes and peoples) such that America is, as a nation, part of God’s salvation history and plan of redemption, he is probably a fundamentalist. (In Great Britain this would apply to belief about that nation such as “British Israelism.”)

 

6)  If a person believes that the Bible ought to be the basis of an entire educational curriculum, including studies of science, philosophy, psychology, etc., she is probably a fundamentalist. (To put this negatively: If a person does not believe truth can exist outside a Bible-based research project, that “all truth is God’s truth,” even that discovered by non-Christians, she is probably a fundamentalist.)

 

7)  If a person believes that Catholics cannot be Christians and/or Calvinists or non-Calvinists cannot be evangelicals (etc.), he is probably, at least in some respects, a fundamentalist.

 

These are not absolute litmus tests. It’s theoretically possible that a person might hold most of these beliefs and, for some unforeseen reason (a fluke) not be a fundamentalist. Normally, a fundamentalist embraces all or most of these beliefs. Holding one alone does not make him or her a fundamentalist.  As I explain below, “fundamentalism” is an ideal type, not an all-or-nothing template. And, these (above) are my criteria, based on years of studying fundamentalism.

 

So, here, below, is my historical-theological explanation:

 

First, let me repeat something about these labels that many readers seem to miss or misunderstand. You may consider yourself either fundamentalist or not for different reasons than I give here. That is, your definition of it may be different than mine. I am explaining how I define the category. The same was true for liberal theology. Some people take umbrage because they fit my criteria but don’t consider themselves theologically liberal. Fine. But I do (if you fit the criteria). Some people take umbrage because they consider themselves liberal but don’t fit my criteria. Fine. But then I don’t consider you liberal. Get it? The same applies to “fundamentalist.”

 

I am a historical theologian who specializes in modern theology. My forthcoming book InterVarsity book The Journey of Modern Theology: from Reconstruction to Deconstruction  will be somewhere in the vicinity of 700 pages in length and constitute one of the most exhaustive one volume critical surveys of modern theology in print. I’ve spent thirty-five years studying modern theology including “liberal theology” and “fundamentalism.” That doesn’t make me infallible, of course, and I’m open to correction. But to say that I “haven’t studied liberal theology” (as one commenter here stated) is absurd.

 

I mentioned my sources about liberal theology (Welch, Dorrien, Reardon, Brown, et al.). What are my sources about fundamentalism? Over the years that I have been teaching courses in modern and contemporary theology and church history at three Christian universities I have invited several self-identified Christian fundamentalists to my classes to speak about the subject. I have also had many encounters and interactions (some pleasant, some not so pleasant) with self-identified, knowledgeable fundamentalist theologians. I grew up surrounded by self-identified fundamentalists (and some relatives and acquaintances who called themselves “evangelical” but were also fundamentalists). I have read numerous books by fundamentalists and about fundamentalists. I own an almost complete set (first editions) of The Fundamentals.

 

So who are some scholars that I have read on the subject of fundamentalism? Probably most important are George Marsden, Mark Noll, Joel Carpenter, Randall Balmer, and Martin Marty. (I should mention here that I have read some of Scott Appleby’s work on fundamentalism but thought from the beginning he was applying the term too broadly and using a sociological definition rather than a theological one.) And I have read fundamentalists such as George Dollar, John R. Rice, Carl McIntire, Elmer Towns, Kevin Bauder, and many others. I grew up in a home that subscribed to Rice’s The Sword of the Lord publication and that included many fundamentalist books. One of my most recent (and most enjoyable) reads about fundamentalism was The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family by Andrew Himes (John R. Rice’s grandson). I reviewed it here.

 

It seems to me that the words “fundamentalism” and “fundamentalist” have taken on many different meanings in recent years -- like many religious labels. I remember reading in a secular publication that C. S. Lewis was a “fundamentalist Anglican.” When I taught at Oral Roberts University the local newspaper referred to Oral as a “fundamentalist.” I wrote a letter correcting the editors. Oral was no fundamentalist -- by any objective, historical-theological standards. He was then a charismatic United Methodist who hired Catholics, Orthodox and even semi-liberal Protestants to teach at his university. He refused to have any doctrinal statement. The only question I was asked when being interviewed was if I was in “general agreement” with Oral’s ministry. I was then (or at least convinced myself I could be), but after two years I was no longer, so I left.

 

Here I will describe four contemporary meanings of “fundamentalism” and “fundamentalist” even though there are probably more.

 

First, there is the popular, journalistic meaning and it applies those labels to anyone considered religiously conservative and fanatical. I remember how shocked I was when I heard television journalists referring to “Islamic fundamentalism” at the time the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran. Soon the appellation was being applied to all kinds of people most of whom were suspected of being potential terrorists. It was a “Hindu fundamentalist” who assassinated Gandhi. Hindu fundamentalist? How did “fundamentalist” get out of its original Christian context and into world religions, politics and violence? Many original fundamentalists, like William Jennings Bryan, were pacifists! Now it’s not unusual to hear and read journalists referring to Amish, Islamists, orthodox Jews, and numerous other disparate religious groups as “fundamentalists.” So what do all these people have in common that causes journalists so to label them?

 

Second, there is the sociological meaning of “fundamentalism” and “fundamentalist.” I’m not sure which came first, this meaning and then the wildly broad and inclusive journalistic meaning or vice versa. For the past thirty-some years sociologists have been defining “fundamentalism” as “religious anti-modernism.” Allegedly, anyone who is against modernity for religious reasons is a “fundamentalist.” But there are some problems with that.

 

First, it’s simply too broad.

Second, many fundamentalists, historically, were consciously or unconsciously influenced by modernity.

Third, fundamentalists are often the most willing to make religious use of modern technological innovations.

Fourth, many spiritually-minded postmodern people could be called anti-modern in certain ways but could not rightly be called fundamentalists.

 

Third, there is the popular, Baptist and evangelical meaning of these terms. In this idiomatic use a “fundamentalist” is a mean-spirited conservative evangelical willing to use nasty, underhanded means to win a battle for control of a denomination. Then, more recently, I have heard people who use the label this way argue that there can be and are “fundamentalist liberals” because liberals (and even moderates!) can also be mean-spirited, nasty and underhanded. This seems to be a use of the labels to describe anyone considered religiously conniving and manipulative. This is, of course, entirely subjective and pejorative and has no place in scholarly discussions of fundamentalism.

 

Fourth, there is the historical-theological meaning of these terms “fundamentalism” and “fundamentalist.” This is the approach I am always trying to promote (to some people’s amusement because they think I am like Don Quixote in this campaign). Unless we stick to historical-theological descriptions and definitions, religious labels float away into unusable vagueness and ambiguity. So what do I mean by “historical-theological approach?” In defining and using religious and especially theological labels we ought to keep them rooted in historical movements and prototypes. Almost no one I know would dispute that “fundamentalism” began as a Protestant movement with strong theological overtones in the late nineteenth and/or early twentieth centuries. We ought to be creative enough to come up with other labels for non-Christian and Christian movements that bear certain vague affinities with it. For example, “Catholic fundamentalism” or “fundamentalist Catholicism” is simply a misnomer. In Catholic religious history those called that would better be labeled “extreme integralists” or “radical traditionalists” (or something).

 

So what is the historical-theological definition of “fundamentalism” and “fundamentalist?” Well, that is much debated. Here you will find my own approach to it.

 

Fundamentalism is a centered-set category without definite boundaries (like all movements and ideal types). It began as a relatively cohesive movement and then, like most religious movements, dissolved but remained as an ethos permeating several movements, ministries, churches, denominations, organizations, etc. First I will describe the movement (which must remain the anchor for describing fundamentalism) and then the ethos emanating from it.

 

Scholars disagree about when and where fundamentalism began. As usual, the truth seems to be that it began in several places, independently, simultaneously. Several individuals and groups were thinking along similar lines, found each other, and coalesced around certain affinities. The common features of all these individuals and groups were: conservative Protestant, anti-modernist (in terms of ideology), anti-liberal theology, privileging something considered “traditional” that is recognizable as a blend of revivalism and Protestant scholastic orthodoxy, biblicism (belief in biblical inerrancy and as literal interpretation as possible), etc.

 

Some of these people were Baptists, Presbyterians, Wesleyans (Holiness), independents (“Bible Christians” influenced by the Plymouth Brethren movement), and Congregationalists. Pentecostals eventually joined in around the margins, uncomfortably. None were Catholics or Eastern Orthodox. Very few, if any, were Anabaptists.

 

Nothing in the previous paragraph is meant to imply that all of any of those groups were among the original fundamentalists. To conclude that from the paragraph would be illogical. The point is that original fundamentalism was made up solely of Protestant Christians of many denominational identities (and none) with strong leanings toward revivalism and strict orthodoxy. (Some leaned more toward Reformed orthodoxy; Arminians tended to lean more toward revivalism.)

 

What brought this disparate and even somewhat motley group together under a single banner was militant defense of conservative Protestantism against liberal theology and higher biblical criticism.

 

Here “militant” does not mean “violent.” It means aggressive, pro-active (some would say “reactionary,”) organized and vocal.

 

Early fundamentalists disagreed about many things:

 

the sacraments/ordinances, church polity, eschatology, modern (as opposed to biblical) miracles, predestination and free will, etc.

 

But they agreed that liberal (“Ritschlian”) theology and higher criticism of the Bible were very serious assaults on “real Christianity” that needed to be confronted and stopped.

 

Their collective attitude was that “theological modernism” (as I described it in my earlier post about liberal theology) was false Christianity in the same way that, say, Mormonism and Christian Science and Jehovah’s Witness teaching was false Christianity. But unlike those, it was inside the churches and their colleges and seminaries. It needed to be rooted out and if it couldn’t be true Christians would have to leave those denominations, colleges, universities, seminaries, etc., and found ones committed to true Christianity.

 

They were, in other words, early twentieth century Puritans. Exactly like the Puritans of the seventeenth century, the early fundamentalists believed the churches needed to be purged of heresy and everything linked with it symbolically. And that’s where the trouble started -- what that meant. What did it mean to purge the churches and Christian organizations of everything symbolically linked with heresy? And how to root out hidden heresies and heretics?

 

Scholars disagree about the birth of the term “fundamentalism.” Many, perhaps the majority, insist it was coined by Baptist editor Curtis Lee Laws in 1920. That may be true of the “-ism.” But the root “fundamentals” was being used before then as various groups listed the essentials of true Christianity as “fundamentals of the faith.” The booklets titled The Fundamentals were published in 1910 and 1911. These were articles written by leading fundamentalist scholars and ministers -- defending what they saw as the essentials of Christianity with a strong anti-liberal flavor. (However, ironically, many of the authors would later not fit the emerging fundamentalist profile.) 1919 was the year William Bell Riley founded the World Christian Fundamentals Association and added premillennialism to the list of essential Christian beliefs -- a move that excluded many people widely recognized as fundamentalists (especially those in the Reformed tradition such as J. Gresham Machen).

 

So that was early, original fundamentalism. Most contemporary conservative evangelicals would probably have been fundamentalists then. Except in Riley’s mind. He and his Texas friend J. Frank Norris joined hands across the Mason-Dixon Line (imaginary as it is in the Midwest) to forge a new, more militant, and exclusive form of fundamentalism. Many fundamentalists were swayed by Riley’s and Norris’ strict and exclusive approach. A divide began to open within the fundamentalist movement -- between the narrow, exclusivist camp that absolutely eschewed evolution in any form, including “progressive creationism,” insisted on strict biblical inerrancy and literal interpretation (e.g., of Daniel and Revelation including premillennialism and eventually pretribulational dispensationalism) and the somewhat more moderate Reformed camp that followed Machen when he founded Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. There were those in that camp, however, who were more militant and exclusive than Machen and eventually broke off to found hyper-conservative groups and institutions. Carl McIntire was one of them.

 

Because of this evolution within fundamentalism (no pun intended!), scholars tend to talk about “pre-1925 fundamentalism” and “post-1925 fundamentalism.” The main movers and shakers of the fundamentalist movement after 1925 (the year of the infamous Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee widely regarded as a huge humiliation for fundamentalism) informally added “biblical separation” to the list of essentials of authentic Christian faith. That is, true Christians will refuse Christian fellowship with outright heretics and apostates and theological modernists and liberals (such as Harry Emerson Fosdick and his ilk) belong in those categories. Fundamentalists began founding their own separate Protestant institutions and denominations, publishing houses and missionary agencies. Many organized “Bible institutes” (where the Bible was supposed to be the basis of the entire curriculum) and urged, even required, Christian young people to attend only those after high school. Throughout the 1930s American fundamentalism especially flourished, but somewhat underground and almost invisible to the mainstream media and religious organizations (such as the Federal Council of Churches).

 

But something new began to happen within the fundamentalist movement that further fractured it and, in my estimation, anyway, killed it as a movement. That was the introduction by fundamentalist leaders of the doctrine and practice of “secondary separation.” This meant that pure Christians ought to shun Christian fellowship with other Christians who did not practice “biblical separation.” Thus, when Billy Graham, a fundamentalist when he began his ministry, began to allow Catholics and liberal-leaning, “mainstream” Protestant ministers to cooperate with and support his evangelistic crusades, leading fundamentalists criticized him and withdrew their support from him.

 

I believe the fundamentalist movement broke apart into several, often competing, movements practicing different degrees of separationism in the 1940s and 1950s. Many conservative and revivalistic Protestants left fundamentalism and joined the “neo-evangelical movement” launched by Harold John Ockenga and others in 1942 (the year the National Association of Evangelicals was founded). However, the fundamentalist movement left behind an ethos. And that is how I identify a fundamentalist -- by his or her embodiment of the fundamentalist ethos. The criteria cited at this post’s opening describe that ethos.

 

A true fundamentalist minister, for example, will usually not join a local “evangelical ministerial alliance” (or whatever it may be called). Now, to be sure, some ministers within such an alliance may display fundamentalist traits, but a true fundamentalist, though he may be sympathetic with some of the alliance’s goals (e.g., to provide high school graduates with a Bible-based, united, city-wide, baccalaureate service) will avoid full participation in it. He will probably seek out other fundamentalist ministers for fellowship and cooperation. These fundamentalist alliances tend to be small and fracture easily because of disagreements about fine points of doctrine, practice and Bible interpretation.

 

The fundamentalist ethos is rarely “pure.” That is, it can be discerned in partial manifestations. Whenever any of the seven criteria mentioned at this post’s beginning are apparent I suspect a fundamentalist ethos is present (in a person or a movement or an organization).

 

I have met people who call themselves fundamentalists who do not exhibit most or any of those traits (criteria). Usually they are using the label in its original (“paleo-fundamentalist”) sense -- pre-1925. I have no quarrel with them and if they want to be called fundamentalists when I would categorize them as simply conservative evangelicals, that’s fine. But in certain contexts I would not call them fundamentalists because that will automatically be misunderstood. Among the literati of American religious history and historical theology, anyway, “fundamentalism” is usually understood in terms of the 1930s and afterwards movement with defining prototypes such as the previously mentioned Riley, Norris, McIntire, Rice and (not previously mentioned) Bob Jones, Richard Clearwaters, and Jerry Falwell.

 

I have before mentioned a phenomenon I call “neo-fundamentalism.” That is my term (others may use it differently) for people who embody a fundamentalist ethos but have wedged their way into neo-evangelical circles calling themselves “conservative evangelicals” and finding acceptance as such. Here is an anecdote to illustrate that. About fifteen years ago I noticed that a seminary historically noted for being fundamentalist (in the historical-theological sense) had set up a table in the evangelical college where I then taught to recruit undergraduates. I approached the recruiter, a relatively young (early middle aged) employee of the seminary. I told him I would have difficulty recommending that any of my students attend his seminary. He asked why. I told him that the seminary had a reputation for being fundamentalist. He said “No, we’re changing. We’re evangelical now.” So I asked him this question: “If Billy Graham volunteered to preach in your seminary’s chapel free of charge, no honorarium expected, would your president allow it?” His slightly red-faced response was “We’re moving in that direction.” Enough said. Now, that is not to say no fundamentalist seminary would allow Billy Graham to preach there. Some might. But a seminary that calls itself “evangelical” and would refuse to allow him to preach there is almost certainly fundamentalist whether it uses that label or not.

 

I could cite numerous similar stories of encounters I have had with people who call themselves evangelicals but who operate out of a fundamentalist ethos. Also when I taught at that evangelical college I was accosted by a local pastor who is widely known as an evangelical leader who was furious, livid, that the college’s president had invited Robert Schuller to speak there. Now, I wasn’t particularly thrilled by the president’s decision, either, but I wouldn’t be furious or livid about it. When I pointed out to the pastor that the college’s (and denomination’s) roots are in Pietism and therefore irenic he said “’Irenic’ is just a term for doctrinal indifference.” His fundamentalist ethos appeared there and then.

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/02/what-is-fundamentalism-and-who-is-a-fundamentalist/



本文於 修改第 2 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5018942
「開明神學」一詞是什麼意思? - R. E. Olson
推薦1


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 
文章推薦人 (1)

胡卜凱

What Is “Liberal Theology?”

 

Roger E. Olson, 10/08/13

 

During my career as a Christian theologian I have several times been accused of being either liberal or on the way to being liberal. The accusers clearly meant liberal as in “liberal theology” -- not liberal politically (which I am). John Piper told me to my face that he perceived me as “on a liberal trajectory.” (I immediately pictured myself being shot out of a cannon like the stuntmen in the old circuses!) Most recently Gerald McDermott has claimed that I and my fellow “meliorists” (I prefer “postconservative evangelicals”) are retracing the path that led to Protestant liberal theology. Like many others, McDermott seems to think “liberal theology” is a good label for any deviation from orthodoxy. That’s what I challenge here.

 

I have made the study of liberal theology (including Catholic modernism) a career-long study. I have read numerous books by liberal Protestant theologians past and present and engaged in liberal-evangelical dialogues. My forthcoming book The Journey of Modern Theology: From Reconstruction to Deconstruction (IVP) will explain and give case studies of liberal and modernist theologies.

 

My reliable guides in the study of liberal theology have been and are: Gary Dorrien (author of a three volume study of liberal theology), Claude Welch (author of numerous books on modern theology), Peter Hodgson, Donald Miller, Harvey Cox, William R. Hutchison, Delwin Brown, Bernard Reardon and many other theologians, historians and sociologists.

 

All of them make the same point -- that “liberal theology” is not just any deviation from orthodoxy but an elevation of modern reason and discovery, the “modern mind,” to a source and norm for theology.

 

Here are some influential definitions of “liberal theology” by leading scholars of that type of theology:

 

“Liberal theology is defined by its openness to the verdicts of modern intellectual inquiry, especially the natural and social sciences; its commitment to the authority of individual reason and experience…and its commitment to make Christianity credible and socially relevant to modern people.” (Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: ImaginingProgressive Religion 1805-1900, p. xxiii.)

 

“Liberal Christians have characteristically sought to understand their faith with reference to their experience within contemporary culture. … Liberal Christians view accommodation to culture as necessary and positive… They seek understand God and their moral responsibility in terms of the best available scientific knowledge and social analysis.” (Donald E. Miller, The Case for Liberal Christianity, p. 33)

 

Claude Welch (Yale University) defined liberal theology as “Maximal acknowledgement of the claims of modern thought” in theology. (Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century, I, 1799-1870, p. 142)

 

In Crossfire, his dialogue with Clark Pinnock, Delwin Brown several time emphasized that liberal theology grants normative status to “the best of modern thought” in such a way as to trump Scripture itself when there is a conflict.

 

To regard any deviation from or attempt to re-form orthodox Christian tradition as “liberal” theologically is patent misuse of that category and label. In order for a theological proposal to be “liberal” it MUST be offered on the ground that modern thought requires it even though what is requiring it is not a universally recognized material fact (such as the earth moves around the sun). In other words, liberal theology makes modern thought in general a norming norm for theology -- alongside if not above Scripture.

 

If we do not stick to this historical-theological definition of liberal theology (along with prototypes such as Schleiermacher, Ritschl, Harnack, et al.) we end up filling the category so full it becomes empty.

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2013/10/what-is-liberal-theology/



本文於 修改第 4 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5018706
科學家並不「都」是無神論者 - P. Knoepfler
推薦1


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 
文章推薦人 (1)

胡卜凱

The myth of scientists as atheists

 

Paul Knoepfler, 09/17/13

 

I confess.

 

I am a scientist and I am not an atheist.

 

Uh oh!

 

Am I asking to be burned at the stake….er, over the lab Bunsen burner?

 

Why is there such a persistent myth that scientists must be atheists?

 

Or is it that good scientists must be atheists?

 

And by good, I don’t mean top performers with stellar careers.

 

Rather, I mean, well-behaved scientists.

 

Someone once told me that trying to get a group of scientists to all do one thing is like herding cats.

 

I’d say trying to get scientists to think or believe one thing such as a religious or spiritual believe is like herding cats who are chasing mice.

 

We can’t shoehorn scientists all into an atheistic box.

 

In fact, I believe that the notion that almost all scientists are atheists is a myth. A recent Pew poll agrees with my view: 51% of polled American scientists believing in some kind of deity. While that rate is far lower than the general public in the US, it is still a majority.

 

I should disclose that I am not highly or even moderately religious person. It is most accurate to call me an agnostic, but I’m not an atheist.

 

According to Wikipedia, a number of prominent scientists of yore were also not atheists including Albert Einstein:

 

Albert Einstein‘s religious views have been studied extensively. He said he believed in the pantheistic God of Baruch Spinoza, but not in a personal god, a belief he criticized. He also called himself an agnostic, while disassociating himself from the label atheist, preferring, he said, “an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.”[1]

 

And I know many living scientists who are not atheists.

 

I don’t see the problem with scientists believing in something for which they lack scientific proof such as a deity. I also have no issue with scientists who are atheists, but I do find it disturbing how some atheistic scientists in effect proselytize atheism or make fun of believers.

 

As I said, I’m an agnostic right now. I don’t believe humans are necessarily smart enough to know everything and I see no compelling reason to rule out the existence of a deity.

 

Dr. Paul Knoepfler, UC Davis School of Medicine

 

http://www.ipscell.com/2013/09/the-myth-of-scientists-as-atheists/



本文於 修改第 1 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=5014140
「假設」與「執著」
    回應給: 腦蟲(cerebrate) 推薦1


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 
文章推薦人 (1)

胡卜凱

我想系統知識或「科學」的功能或價值不在於消除人們的「執著」。現實和存活的需求就能做到這一點。「不見棺材不掉淚。」的意思在此。借用演化心理學家的說法,人類之所以有丟棄不必要執著(或任何執著)的能力,是因為缺乏這種能力的人早就被自然(現實)篩除掉了。或者說,那些具有丟棄執著(尤其是不必要執著)能力的人,存活的機率比較高所以,十幾萬或幾十萬年後的今天,大多數這種人的後代能夠繁殖而存活下來。

 

系統知識或「科學」的功能或價值在於幫助人們了解自然(現實)運行的法則或類似它們的理論/假說,從而幫助人們解決問題,能夠繼續存活和活得舒適。任何「科學」及做為其基礎的「假設」,必須通過這個「能不能幫助人們解決問題、繼續存活、和活得舒適」的檢驗。否則,它們沒有被接受的價值,或它們的存在沒有功能。沒有被接受價值的「假設」,就是俗稱的「執著」啦。在我看來,不具「功能」的概念或物品沒有繼續存在的理由或需要。

 

Marcus下面這段話清楚說明了「科學理論」的性質。

 

In the empirical sciences, almost everything is a matter of weighing evidence; outside of geometry, it is rare for scientists to literally prove anything. Rather, the more typical trajectory is to rule out competing theories, and accumulate more and more evidence in favor of particular hypotheses. At some level, all scientists are agnostics, and not just about religion, but about virtually everything. I can see with my own two eyes that you have two feet, but for most things that most scientists have observed, I allow that the evidence is indirect; I believe in black holes not because I have seen one, but because, ultimately, I trust that the authorities who have most carefully thought about these things have reached a consensus that black holes provide the best available explanation for a wide range of phenomena, about the distribution of stars and quasars and other matter throughout the universe. I always allow that some other data could become available, but I take the combined evidence in favor of black holes to be very strong.

 

我不懂大作中下面這兩句話的意思:

 

「數學上,許多假設是在方程式完成後會消去的。但有些人可能無法接受僅有數學可能性的終極存在?」

 

願聞其詳。



本文於 修改第 4 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=4955378
假設
推薦0


腦蟲
等級:7
留言加入好友

 
科學發展是好事。長此以往,讓人們慢慢丟棄不必要的執著。又例如,數學上,許多假設是在方程式完成後會消去的。但有些人可能無法接受“僅有數學可能性”的終極存在?
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=4955335
科學理論能支撐宗教信仰嗎? - G. Marcus
推薦1


胡卜凱
等級:8
留言加入好友

 
文章推薦人 (1)

胡卜凱

Can Science Lead to Faith?

 

Gary Marcus, 04/26/13

 

The relationship between science and religion has always been vexed. Most scientists I know are nonbelievers, convinced that there is no deity, or at least that there is no convincing evidence of one. Even those who are believers, like Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, see their religion and their science as largely separate. (“If God is outside of nature, then science can neither prove nor disprove his existence,” he once wrote.)

 

But it has been startling to see leading scientists employ science itself in arguments for believing in a kind of supernatural: Jürgen Schmidhuber, a prominent researcher in artificial intelligence, calls for what he has dubbed “computational theology,” while Baylor College of Medicine neuroscientist David Eagleman has proposed a kind of religious perspective that he calls “Possibilianism.” Neither argues for anything like a conventional Judeo-Christian deity, but both point to something beyond the natural universe.

 

Schmidhuber, in a post on Ray Kurzweil’s A.I. blog, ”In the beginning was the code,” begins with the premise that there “is a fastest, optimal, most efficient way of computing all logically possible universes, including ours -- if ours is computable (no evidence against this).” Schmidhuber further elaborates on a “God-like ‘Great Programmer,’ ” and a method by which it would “create and master all logically possible universes.” From this follows what Schmidhuber describes as “Computational Theology,” a component of which is the undeniably heartening claim that “your own life must be very important in the grand scheme of things.” Over all, suggests Schmidhuber, Computational Theology “is compatible with religions claiming that ‘all is one’ and ‘everything is connected to everything.’ ”

 

If Schmidhuber’s logic is hard to follow, Eagleman’s is not; there is no allusion to computing logically possible universes, nor is there technical-but-nebulous talk of quantum computation. Instead, Eagleman is interested in the limits of our own knowledge, and what we can infer from what we do not know. In a 2009 interview with the New York Times, Eagleman, standing in front of a whiteboard full of equations, refers to a book he was then working on (which remains unpublished) called Why I am a Possibilian, which he describes as “a nonfiction follow-up to [his] book of literary fiction… which uses the backdrop of different made-up afterlives to explore the joys and complexities of being human.”

 

Eagleman aims to “make the case that our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism.” According to Eagleman, his invention, Possibilianism, ”emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities,” and is “comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story.” Eagleman’s poster child is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field experiment; in a 2010 PopTech talk, Eagleman begins by standing in front of a cloud of stars and describing an experiment that revealed that there were a “thousand trillion stars” in a tiny corner of universe that was previously thought to be dark, “all of them with the potential to house unknown forms of biology.” Eagleman concludes, “This is a good conscious-raiser to think about the size of the mysteries that surround us.” In other words, if we didn’t know what was hiding out there, who’s to say there isn’t a divine creator after all?

 

Schmidhuber’s computational theology rests on a confusion that philosophers sometimes refer to as the difference between behavior that can be described by a rule, and behavior governed by a rule. Planets follow elliptical trajectories, but that doesn’t mean that planets have pocket calculators inside their cores. The elliptical trajectories of planets emerge as a property of gravity, not through explicit computation. Schmidhuber may be right that the physical universe is efficient, but he proffers no evidence to suggest that anyone or anything is actually computing the universe. Schmidhuber might be right at some level that everything is connected to everything, but that in itself is not enough to give any reason for believing in God-like Great Programmers.

 

Eagleman is actually dismissive of God-like Great Programmers, or at least those that he knows anything about. He writes, for example, in the New Scientist that

 

Religious structures are built by humans and brim with all manner of strange human claims -- they often reflect cults of personality, xenophobia or mental illness. The holy books of these religions were written millennia ago by people who never had the opportunity to know about DNA, other galaxies, information theory, electricity, the big bang, the big crunch, or even other cultures, literatures or landscapes.

 

His point is not that he is convinced by any existing religion, but that we should be open-minded to those that have not yet been invented.

 

Up to a point, there is nothing wrong, scientifically speaking, with Eagleman’s argument. There are some things we don’t know, and it could be, in principle, that some of the things we don’t know pertain to theology. But Eagleman’s argument is weaker than he acknowledges -- he implies that if we learn something new about the big bang or DNA, we might somehow discover a deity we had otherwise overlooked, but he offers no specifics. More than that, Eagleman ignores something that is central to modern science: meta-analysis, a set of tools for weighing and combining evidence.

 

In the empirical sciences, almost everything is a matter of weighing evidence; outside of geometry, it is rare for scientists to literally prove anything. Rather, the more typical trajectory is to rule out competing theories, and accumulate more and more evidence in favor of particular hypotheses. At some level, all scientists are agnostics, and not just about religion, but about virtually everything. I can see with my own two eyes that you have two feet, but for most things that most scientists have observed, I allow that the evidence is indirect; I believe in black holes not because I have seen one, but because, ultimately, I trust that the authorities who have most carefully thought about these things have reached a consensus that black holes provide the best available explanation for a wide range of phenomena, about the distribution of stars and quasars and other matter throughout the universe. I always allow that some other data could become available, but I take the combined evidence in favor of black holes to be very strong.

 

Eagleman claims that he is offering something beyond the simple observation, held by agnostics for centuries, that there could be some sort of evidence that’s been left out. Agnosticism “is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story (say, a man with a beard on a cloud) is true or not true,” Eagleman writes. “But,” he boasts, “with Possibilianism I’m hoping to define a new position.” But it’s never really clear what that new position is, or how it differs from agnosticism at a fundamental level. What is clear is that, when it comes to theology, Eagleman is shying away from a technique that forms part of the core of his day job in science: the statistical weighing of evidence.

 

In particular, Eagleman, who drapes himself in science by declaring to “have devoted my life to scientific pursuit,” might think of each extant religion as an experiment. Followers of many religions have looked for direct evidence of their beliefs, but (by Eagleman’s own assessment) systematically come up dry. And, crucially, statisticians have shown decisively that a collection of failed efforts weighs more heavily than any single failed effort on its own. The same thing happened, of course, when scientists looked for phlogiston, and cold fusion, too. Nobody has proven cold fusion doesn’t exist, but most scientists would assign a low probability to it because so many attempts at replicating the original have failed. Any agnostic is free to believe that his favorite religion has not yet been completely disproven. But anyone who wishes to bring science into the argument must acknowledge that the evidence thus far is weak, especially when it is combined statistically, in the fashion of a meta-analysis. To emphasize the qualitative conclusion (X has not been absolutely proven to be false) while ignoring the collective weight of the quantitative data (i.e., that most evidence points away from X) is a fallacy, akin to holding out a belief in flying reindeer on the grounds that there could yet be sleighs that we have not yet seen.

 

Scientists and non-scientists alike are still free to believe whatever they want, but the grounds for religion have to be the same as they ever were: faith, not science. Science cannot absolutely prove that there is no divine creator, but the tools of science do allow us to weigh the existing evidence, and assign likelihoods to those hypotheses; by ignoring those tools, Eagleman does science a disservice.

 

The final strategy of those seeking compatibility between religion and science is to retreat into something that is reminiscent of solipsism, the family of beliefs that allows me to entertain the unfalsifiable yet dubious notion that I might be the only person in the universe (with everyone else just a figment). In a recent book, ”Where the Conflict Really Lies,” the eminent analytical philosopher Alvin Plantinga acknowledges the possibility of evolution, but suggests that random mutations and the like are “clearly compatible with their being caused by God.”

 

Plantinga argues that Christian believers have a sixth sense, a “sensus divinitatis” that allows them to sense God, with that sense defective or absent in nonbelievers. One could, of course, equally generate an infinite range of similar hypotheses, none scientifically testable, such as “only Zeus believers have a working Zeus sense,” “only ghost believers have a ghost sense,” and so forth, but the possibility of leaping outside the realm of science into a morass of untestable possibilities brings us no closer to a genuine rapprochement between science and religion than we were in the time of Goethe’s “Faust.”

 

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/04/schmidhuber-eagleman-science-religion-artificial-intelligence.html



本文於 修改第 3 次
回應 回應給此人 推薦文章 列印 加入我的文摘
引用網址:http://city.udn.com/forum/trackback.jsp?no=2976&aid=4955006