1/29/2009

Chance?

I’ve been doing a little reading on Quantum Mechanics lately (see here, here, and here for interesting articles).

There are many abstract concepts that do not have any reality behind them: randomness, chance, and luck, for example. These have no bearing in the real world because they are abstract concepts used to describe things we cannot understand yet. If we knew the causal relationships, we would not need a concept of chance or probability.

I have no reason to believe in chance or randomness in the concrete sense because I believe that all events have a cause. I may not be able to identify the cause yet, but I have no reason to believe in an uncased event.

Chance has no existence. It is not a thing, no-thing, nothing. It cannot cause anything since it has no existence in reality. It has no being, and hence no power. It’s similar to the idea of a negative number. We can never find a negative number of tangible things. This is one of the first rules I learned as an engineering student to test the outcome of a classroom problem. If I had a negative length for an answer, my answer to the problem was obviously wrong.

Scientists often use the concept to describe the unknown or immeasurable events and circumstances that cause an event. Statisticians also attempt to predict the future based on “chance” or probability. It has been useful to scientific research for this purpose. It is the best way we have to attempt to predict the future with imperfect knowledge.

Chance is not some force that can intervene in the world. We do great damage to the rational underpinnings of science when we say that anything, from the evolution of man to the cause of a quantum event, is “by chance.”Take a coin flip. The best mathematical predictor of the outcome we have is a “50-50 chance.” But we cannot rationally state that chance caused the coin to land on heads or tails in a particular incidence. If we knew all of the variables involved in the particular coin flip: the distribution of the weight over the coin’s volume, the force imparted to the coin by the finger, the exact location on the coin’s surface of the force, etc.; we would be able with 100% accuracy to predict the outcome of the flip. These variables are the true causes of the heads-or-tails outcome.

Using “chance” or “random events” or “spontaneous popping into existence out of nothing” as explanations for things that happen in the world is the ultimate kind of question begging. It lets us avoid looking for real causes.

(This argument is adapted from R. C. Sproul as expressed in his book Not a Chance. Of course, any mistakes are mine.)

1/23/2009

Rick Warren’s Prayer

For the record, I think Rick Warren did good: (Quote of Inauguration prayer from Between Two Worlds)

Almighty God, our Father:

Everything we see, and everything we can’t see, exists because of you alone.

It all comes from you, it all belongs to you, it all exists for your glory.

History is your story.

The Scripture tells us, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is one." And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.
Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time, we celebrate a hinge point of history with the inauguration of our first African American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama,

the wisdom to lead us with humility,

the courage to lead us with integrity,

the compassion to lead us with generosity.

Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, O God, to remember that we are Americans--united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you--forgive us.

When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone--forgive us.

When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve--forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve, and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy, and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.

And may we never forget that one day, all nations--and all people--will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life—Yeshua, 'Isa, Jesus [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus—who taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.

Darwin’s Motive?

An interesting Christianity Today article discusses why Darwin rejected Christianity, and the facts may surprise you. It may have been more of an emotional reaction than an unbiased reflection on the facts.

1/19/2009

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday

Just my favorite quote from the “I Have A Dream Speech:”

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

(Compare Isaiah 40:4-5.)

Amen, Dr. King. We miss you.

1/18/2009

Some Posts of Note, Along with Where I've Been for a Week or So

I have been spending more time commenting on other blogs that posting on my own lately. Here are a few things I have found in other places that have caught my interest.

Between Two Worlds gives links to interviews and commentary on N. T. Wright’s response to John Piper. We also find brief commentary, and an interesting discussion in the comments.

In a newsletter, Lee Strobel notes reasons not to give up on evangelism when we become discouraged. Also, the site announces Lee Strobel’s upcoming blog.

Apologetics 315 gives links to Rev. Todd Wilken’s review of The Shack. This is a very level-headed review.

Extra Nos gives a link to a Utube video in which Richard Dawkins attributes the appearance of complexity and design in the world to “luck” and a system that makes the “luck” hold out.



Why did I run out of time to carefully comment on the above? Long comments I typed for other blogs.

I engaged in a running argument with numerous atheists over at Unreasonable Faith. I thought I did pretty good considering I was greatly outnumbered and hence lost track of some of the discussion. I also gave myself a pretty good case of carpal tunnel syndrome. It gets really lonely really quickly on this blog, and I wish other Christians would join me there.

Out of curiosity, what do you think of the cosmological argument? It was the subject of much of the argument at Unreasonable Faith.

1/09/2009

Hamas

Check out a pointed post on Hamas from a guy who lives in Israel.

He is an America, married to an “Arab girl,” and his opinion is worthy of respect. He has half a chance of being unbiased.

1/03/2009

iPhone 3G

I have a new addiction. I am looking for a Twelve Step program, but it appears I may have to start one of my own. I got an iPhone 3G for Christmas (Thanks to several family members for giving me the money to do this!).

The phone does almost everything I can think of doing in terms of internet access. The programs used to run the various functions on the iPhone are called “applications.” Some are installed on the phone when you get it, but some must be purchased. There’s an application for my Google Account, an application for Facebook, a great e-mail access application, and many more.

One of the applications that I am growing to love is a maps function that uses the iPhone's GPS to locate your current location and then give directions to your destination address.

I purchased the ESV Study Bible (ESVSB) from Olive Tree for my iPhone last week. The ESVSB is the best study Bible I have owned to date. Every question on the text that I have had so far has been answered in the voluminous study notes, and I’ve had many questions.

My biggest complaint about the ESV Study Bible is its weight. It’s hard to carry to work. That is no longer a concern because the ESVSB is now no heavier than my iPhone. Some of the tables and graphs are abmittedly hard to read due to the compressed font size, but I have reasonably good eyesight anyway.

I hope that you will pray for me that I do not “hit bottom” in my new addiction. Maybe it’s a safe one anyway.

(For other opinions and information, see here, here, here, and here.)

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