Adelaide Chapter

Archive for the ‘Philosophical Issues’ Category

According to Wikipedia, the “God of the gaps” is a theological perspective in which gaps in scientific knowledge are cited as evidence or proof of God’s existence.

This would have been a particularly attractive position at a time when people knew almost nothing, and could thus ascribe everything to God, but now that we know more and more, is God is getting squeezed out? Failures in gap arguments in the past have been embarrassing and counter-productive.

Are we in the process of eliminating God, or do gaps we still point to God, or is this an entirely erroneous concept in the first place?

Brian Schroeder presents the issues, and argue for the standard Christian response to this question. His talk is available on YouTube.

From ancient times people have gazed at the sun, moon and stars observing their consistent daily and seasonal motion, and assumed that all of this was ordered by a maker. The Enlightenment dismissed this as fanciful imagination, but as our power of observation of both the atomic and stellar scale has grown, we see increasing signs of order that only needs the slightest variation to prohibit life supporting conditions. Is there any other reason that can explain this observed fine tuning in our physical environment?

Multiverse?

Steve White presents an outline of Fine Tuning and the Multiverse. He presents evidence for the fine tuning of our universe from the sub-atomic to the stellar scale and then discusses whether Multiverse theory can explain it. Do we just happen to live in one lucky, life-supporting version, among many other universes?

Stephen White

Stephen White has had a career as a physicist and is now retired.

The presentation is available on You Tube

John Lennox has challenged whether science can prove everything? However, in this presentation, Dr Leonard Long will address the question, “Can science prove anything?” Science is practised within a belief system based on unprovable presuppositions, and can study only the patterns of behaviour of an already given functional, predictable, universe. Scientists who wander into bad philosophy will be critiqued, as will scientism – the overblown belief in science.

So Leonard’s address includes the following topics:

  • Nature of science,
  • Scientism,
  • Methodological naturalism,
  • Ideological corruption within science, and
  • Interference of politics and funding within science.
Dr Leonard Long

Leonard’s presentation is available on You Tube.

My philosophy lecturer once said, “All philosophy is a commentary on Plato”. There is much that is impressive about Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In Athens Paul referred to Stoic philosophers as a point of contact in proclaiming the Jewish Messiah. Early Christian apologists integrated Platonism with Christian belief but others were not so keen. Tertullian, a notable early church father, put it this way: “What has Athens got to do with Jerusalem?” What is the relationship between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world? Are they different?

These questions are considered here by Geoff Russell.

Geoff’s presentation is available on You Tube.

The French term “expérience de mort immente” (experience of imminent death) was proposed by French psychologist Victor Egger as a result of discussions in the 1890s among philosophers and psychologists concerning climbers’ stories of the panoramic life review during falls. In 1892 a series of subjective observations by workers falling from scaffolds, soldiers who suffered injuries, climbers who had fallen from heights or other individuals who had come close to death (near drownings, accidents) was reported by Albert Heim. This was also the first time the phenomenon was described as a clinical syndrome.

Professor Kenneth Ring (1980) subdivided Near Death Experiences (NDEs) into a five-stage continuum. The subdivisions were:

  1. Peace
  2. Body separation
  3. Entering darkness
  4. Seeing the light
  5. Entering the light

The following explanatory models have been proposed for NDEs

  1. Spiritual or Transcendental models
  2. Psychological explanations
  3. Physiological (organic) explanations

So what should we make of NDEs? Cardiac surgeons are objective observers of people who “die on the operating table”. They have to write clinical reports that are subject to review. Some of their patients come back to life after being pronounced dead. What do surgeons think about NDE? Are NDEs a preview into the afterlife?

Stephen White

Stephen White tells us what he has found. His presentation is on You Tube.

In modern Western Cultures today it seems that there is more “moral” outrage and indignation about “right” and “wrong” than ever before. It appears that our anger is growing and that, increasingly, we seem splintered into ever smaller groups with ever opposing yet solidly entrenched views with little hope of consensus on any issue of importance. There seems little doubt that this moral anger and outrage is being fuelled by social media. In light of this increasing debate about right and wrong, investigation and civil conversation about “morality” and its implications would be valuable.

Tom Daly presents the “moral argument for God” and examines more closely what we actually mean when we claim something to be “good/bad” or “right/wrong” and if this tells us something about ourselves, our ideas, our anger and also something about the existence of God. We will consider the moral argument for God in light of mankind’s ability to discern right and wrong, and the fact that we seem to be moral beings at our core. Yet scientism tells us that we are merely amoral matter that has developed ideas and feelings of morality by the amoral process of evolution, which, at its core, has what we feel to be the immoral notion that the strong eat the weak. Hopefully we can “reason together”.

Tom Daly

Tom’s presentation can be viewed on You Tube.

Everyone has morals. Christians have morals, Muslims have morals, Hindus have morals and atheists have morals, but where do those morals come from? What is the underlying basis provided by those belief systems for the morality their adherents lay claim to? Also, what would a totally non-moral human look like, if it were even possible for such a person to exist?

In the case of atheism, is there any source for morality? Is there an atheist morality? If there is, then what is it? If there isn’t, then what explanation do we have for the fact that atheists are moral beings?

Brian Schroeder

Brian Schroeder attempts to look at all this and more by drawing from both atheist and theist sources.

The presentation is available on You Tube

Most people have some awareness of artificial intelligence (AI), perhaps from Hollywood movies or news articles about driverless cars. However, most people are not yet aware of the breadth of applications possible today, nor the stunning advances that have been made with AI in recent years. Already there are a growing number of important ethical and practical implications arising from these current and continuing advances in AI; yet the general public is not involved, nor the Church and even governments are scrambling to catch-up. This talk is part 1 of a 2-talk series on AI and will survey the current status of AI as well as near term advances. It will introduce and consider ethical questions such as:

  • What are the impacts for jobs in civil society in next few years and decades?
  • What are the right and wrong uses of AI technology? For example, should we use AI robots to keep the elderly “company”?
  • What happens when video and audio can be created by AI so well that real video/audio is indistinguishable from generated?
  • What are the risks from our current and likely future reliance on AI technology?
  • What conversations should we be having to care for each other as AI ushers in a huge increase in the pace of change?

View this on You Tube

This is a summary of a talk Artificial Intelligence and its implications on ethics today. The talk was given by Tom Daly to Reasonable Faith Adelaide on the 12th of April 2018.

The talk can be viewed on You Tube and you can access the slides here.

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Do we have Free Will?

Most naturalists or atheists believe that the mind is totally the result of the physical operation of the brain. If this is true, then all of our thoughts, emotions and choices are due to the physical movements of atoms and molecules within the brain and are ultimately solely due to the laws of physics. It then it seems to strongly imply that all our thoughts and choices are determined by the motion of particles within the brain and that our perception that we have free will is an illusion. (more…)