Re: definition of science

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Sat Apr 30 2005 - 04:52:06 EDT

George Murphy wrote:

..Divine freedom means that God could have created a different, though still rational, world....

Well, I believe this, because I believe this world was created for tentative purposes. Hence the hoped-for permanent world should differ in at least some respects. But it's not obvious why the ability to make different functioning worlds should follow from God's freedom. Can you explain in not too many words why we should draw this conclusion from divine freedom and not from, say, omnipotence?

And would the possibility of such a different but rational world eviscerate Einstein's simplicity criterion? I'd guess it wouldn't have to; rather, the equations would take different forms in the alternate world, but simplicity could still rule.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Murphy<>
  To:<> ; D. F. Siemens, Jr.<>
  Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 12:39 PM
  Subject: Re: definition of science

  Breaking in in the middle, it seems to me that both of you are dancing around the issue of the contingency of the world. That is an important - though often little noted - aspect of the doctrine of creation: Divine freedom means that God could have created a different, though still rational, world. It is also a necessary aspect of a belief that the universe has - or is a representation of - mathematical pattern: We've known ever since the first discoveries of non-Euclidean geometries that there is not one unique mathematical system.

  Thus when Einstein said that he wanted to know whether God had any choice in the creation of the world, the answer is "Yes."

  BTW 1: Whitehead didn't reject Riemannian geometry in general but he did think that space had to have uniform curvature.

  BTW 2: The ASA Statement of Faith affirms a belief that God "has endowed [the universe] with contingent order and rationality." How contingency got in the final version is a happy accident. In committee discussions of the proposed statement Jim wanted (following Thomas Torrance) to have a statement about the contingent rationality of creation & included that in a draft. I of course agreed with what was said but thought it might be too technical a point to include in such a statement & others agreed, so Jim was going to omit it - but somehow it didn't get omitted from the version that was submitted to the membership for approval, & it was accepted.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: D. F. Siemens, Jr.<>
    Sent: Thursday, April 28, 2005 2:02 PM
    Subject: Re: definition of science

    Are you suggesting that only one mathematical model fits? After Einstein presented his work, Whitehead came up with a different version. Not liking Riemannian geometry, his was based on Euclidean. Eddington proved that the two were equivalent on the four matters then recognized as relevant. Later work disproved Whitehead's version of relativity because of other matters. I recall an article in /Scientific American/ that presented additional relativity theories, though it did not discuss the calculus underlying them. Some apparently were equivalent to Einstein's theories, while others were designed to be slightly different.

    Quanta may be approached either as particles or as waves, equivalent theories. I understand that two approaches to string theory were demonstrated equivalent. In other words, the fit is multiple. Beyond that, are four dimensions simple? What about 10 or 11? Is seeing a matching pattern simple? Once seen, it's "obvious," of course. Then why does it take brilliant people so long to see it? How many have an /annus mirabilis/?

    On Thu, 28 Apr 2005 01:02:36 -0700 "Don Winterstein" <<>> writes:
      "...The shift to a Riemannian geometry because of the inclusion of time is not necessarily that simple...."

      You're right, Einstein needed a kind of 4-D space that could locally change shape.

      "As to why simplicity, the answer that immediately suggests itself is that that is all the human intellect can grasp."

      Perhaps we've beaten this almost to death; but what I hear Einstein saying is that the simplest math is not just what is comprehensible to human minds but is what the world precisely fits. Measurements support the precision of fit. He's making a statement about how the world is made.

Received on Sat Apr 30 04:52:58 2005

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