Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The algebra of philosophic reasoning

Bryan Norwood
At the 64th Philosophers' Carnival, hosted by Bryan Norwood at Movement of Existence, I have come across an interesting fact: philosophers using algebraic notation for their logic reasoning. Just an example, found in The Space of Reasons:
"An agent i knows that phi in some situation s, on some model M if and only if, for all other situations t, that i considers indistinguishable from s, t entails phi on M. On this approach an agent i is said to know a fact phi if phi is true at all the worlds she considers possible (given her current information)."

I frankly admit that I did not follow this formula juggling with pure logic. I am ready to assume that it is consistent, and the conclusion does not violate the laws of logic algebra. The problem arises when I ask myself what happens when we jump from the formula to the real world. Is still true in the real world what is true in the formula? I have my doubts.

Algebra of theist defense

I even suppose that it is easily possible to defend a theistic belief by algebraic reasoning. I have found such a piece of defense, so-called apologetics, on Bryan's site. Bryan discusses whether a theistic belief may have the same status of knowledge as an atheistic belief. Bryan does not come to a definite conclusion but thinks that this may be reasonable.

As a popperian thinker (thanks Bryan for including this piece), I am fully convinced that theistic and atheistic beliefs have the same status of knowledge because both of them share the same two weaknesses. Firstly, they are not falsifiable. Secondly, they are positivistic in a sense that they aim at truth as the ultimate goal. In Critical Rationalism, truth is never absolute or positivistic but, in contrast, subject to change as new facts are added to the body of knowledge. - Update: Oops, there is something wrong with this statement!

Big Bang or Creator?

There is only one reason why the Big Bang hypothesis is stronger than the Creation hypothesis about how the Universe has come into existence: Big Bang can be falsified or at least refined by adding new facts about the most distant galaxies and about the energy and matter content of the Universe. When I first learnt about the Big Bang, the age of the Universe has been estimated about five billion years. Today it is 13.7 billion years, and I am sure that this figure will change again.

In contrast, the Creation hypothesis never has gained any strength since its invention. Its only purpose is filling the gaps that are left by scientific theories such as the Big Bang. One of the consequences is the change from a strong theism (belief in a personal God taking actions) to a weak deism (belief in a Big Watchmaker God taking no actions after the creation of the Universe). But this shift is due to scientific progress and not to creationism. This clearly shows which of both is the stronger theory about the origin of the Universe.

No comments: