Re: The NABT controversy

Christopher Morbey (
Tue, 17 Feb 1998 18:57:41 -0800

George Andrews wrote:

> Christopher Morbey wrote:
>> Dear Moorad:
>> You have put your finger on an interesting point.
>> The greatest part of my whole scientific career has been making
>> models of
>> astronomical or astrophysical processes, then comparing how
>> observations fit
>> these models. Even though I don't do those sorts of things now I
>> can't help but
>> think back to what I actually did. In every case I was interested in
>> showing how
>> much the observations were different from random. In fact, most of
>> the science
>> with which I am familiar tries to extract what is not random out of
>> the
>> observations. We calculate significance levels based on certain
>> hypotheses,
>> always hoping to convey a quantitative estimate of how much our
>> observations
>> differ from that which is random or that which has no deterministic
>> influence.
>> What is deemed to be random is deemed to convey no information.
> I believe a word of caution is needed here. The ubiquitous Monte Carlo
> technique of simulation, based as it is upon assumed randomness,
> affords tractability to otherwise intractable physical models. Hence,
> randomness ought not to be considered as necessarily adverse to or
> even devoid of information. In fact, it is the assumption of
> randomness inherent in nature that provides cognition to the quantum
> theory via the Copenhagen interpretation. Hence, it provides the most
> comprehensible - therefore positively informative - point of view.
> Statistical mechanics provides another example, for it was Gibb's
> genius in introducing the statistical ensemble approach - with its a
> priori assumption of equally probable states - that afforded
> thermodynamics its theoretical grounding. Additionally, modern
> complexity theory provides the next logical step in attempting to
> reformulate the foundational laws of nature to include
> irreversibility. Thus, randomness (at least its assumption) is
> actually an integral part to our modern understanding of nature
> providing us with a wealth of information.

Please! Please! The word of caution should be to read carefully what one
has written. But I probably
should have explained things more carefully. My point was to show that
randomness is, in fact,
taken as an indicator of no information. That the signal of
deterministic operation can be extracted out of the noise of randomness.
Science proceeds with that methodology. I'm not saying there is nothing
or no information in randomness; that would be silly. I am saying that
science says there is no information on the one hand, yet when
purposeless evolution comes along then all of a sudden there is
That is the irony. Sorry you missed it.

> While I would agree that we all are products of our times, and even
> with Dooyeweerd's assertion that all theoretical thought is inherently
> religious due to the human condition, I again feel the need for
> caution. To some degree or at some point religious statements are
> irrelevant to actual scientific theory. For example, can we imagine
> any scientific theory or procedure that would produce or even
> corroborate such notions as redemption, the existence of Nirvana, or
> Israel's election?

Again, you seem to be reading things into what I actually wrote. I am
NOT Dooyeweerdian; that, in all its splendour, was left behind many
years ago! You say... to some degree or at some point religious
statements are irrelevant to actual scientific theory. Well, I
disagree. I disagree totally. You have provided examples of redemption
etc. which leave me wondering what you are trying to say. Of course I
can imagine a scientific theory for anything I want. Science fiction (or
truth) is filled with such ideas.
If you really meant it the other way around then read again what I said
about information transmission and understanding in my first paragraph.

>> I would LOVE to read about significance tests with respect to
>> "evolutionary"
>> randomness. Imagine. Trying to extract something random out of the
>> confusing
>> perfections conjured in a perfect mind! This is the stuff of comedy
>> or
>> balderdash.
>> Christopher Morbey
> While I do not know what "evolutionary randomness" is, I suspect you
> mean random mutations. Complexity notions of random fluctuations
> (mutations) exploring (at least but probably actual) infinite sequence
> or state space, only to be "selected" via self organization and
> reproduction (autocatalysis), in fact not only afford explanation
> for evolutionary concepts, but provide - at least the beginnings of -
> a foundational mathematical formulation for its dynamics.
> Besides, randomness is scriptural.
> .

Again, you are misinterpreting. I am not "against" randomness. What I
am saying is that science is using randomness to remove or to diminish
the obvious (to me) necessity that God sustains our Universe by the
nanosecond. To add that randomness is scriptural doesn't help. Idolatry
is also scriptural.

Hope this doesn't come across as too severe. Misinterpretations on email
are common. But you have strengthened my point that even in a scientific
discussion there are implicit philosophical or religious basic
assumptions made. Randomness, even though we barely understand it, is
one of the greatest splendours of God's glory. You see the irony?

Christopher Morbey