Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Unreasonable effectiveness

The last thing that the church would allow would be a rigorous double-blind test of saintly efficacy.
-- Nathan Mhyrvold, a member of the Reality Club, in one of a set of responses to Taking Science on Faith by Paul Davies. All the responses to Davies are worth reading, including Sean Carroll, who writes:
"The idea that the laws exist reasonlessly is deeply anti-rational" is a deeply anti-rational statement. The laws exist however they exist, and it's our job to figure that out, not to insist ahead of time that nature's innermost workings conform to our predilections, or provide us with succor in the face of an unfeeling cosmos.
Good to read these after Simon Conway Morris, who may be an outstanding evolutionary paleobologist but is a poor philosopher. In Towards A Theology of Evolution, the poorly thought-out, poorly argued final chapter of Life's Solution, Conway Morris quotes G.K.Chesterton in support of his idea of Telos:
On [some remote planet] on plains of opal, under cliffs of pearl, you would still find a notice board, 'Thou shalt not steal'.
Would the notice board also say 'Thou shalt not covert thy neighbour's goat, nor his maidservant nor his manservant'?

No comments: