Re: Refuting Aristotle et al (was Re: [asa] Dawkins on the fossil record)

From: Don Nield <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Tue Dec 15 2009 - 18:25:38 EST

Schwarzwald wrote:
> Murray,
>
> Sorry, but this cuts no ice. If Gregory were simply making an appeal
> to the Church fathers such that they or revelation should be trusted
> over modern science... well, I'd have some problems with that, but
> "The year is 2009" would *still* not suffice as a meaningful argument.
> There are problems with trusting revelation over science (when the two
> are actually in dispute, rather than it being a clash of
> philosophies), but the 'modern world' hasn't done anything but make
> that view unpopular.
>
> But when Gregory is talking about how there must have been a first, I
> don't see him as making a theological appeal. It's a logical appeal,
> one of reason. Along the lines of, "Beings of type X exist now. Beings
> of type X have not been reproducing since eternity. Ergo, there must
> have been a first." That's the sort of reasoning a classic greek may
> have used - but today's date does not change the validity of it.
>
> To give another example: Aristotle is credited with the law of
> identity, of contradiction, and the excluded middle. Old, old "laws".
> Is "It's 2009" anything close to an adequate way to dismiss them? Does
> it even begin to do that?
>
> Same for math. 2+2=4. You can find as much 'argued' (discovered?) in
> some old, old references. Is the reasoning outdated? Is the conclusion
> now suspect because of the passage of time?
>
> So the "the world is fundamentally different" line doesn't go all that
> far. Nor does, necessarily, scientific advancement. If tomorrow a
> scientist tells me "2+2=71", he better have more than a declaration of
> "It's 2009" onhand when I ask him to defend his view.
>
This last example actually helps make Murray's point that a definition
is involved. If one defines the integer 4 as the integer 2 greater than
the integer 2 (which is just what mathematicians do) then that settles
the matter. Otherwise you have an open question of what is meant by 2 +2.
Don

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Received on Tue Dec 15 18:25:57 2009

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