My Big TOE – a Personal Lens to Knowledge Acquisition

March 3rd, 2016

My nephew Cody and his wife Natalie began a food blog called the Gantzery about a year ago focused on healthy and nutritious recipes, but with a strong personal flavor. It often contains interesting philosophical remarks. This week, these remarks asked about one’s “personal lens” in how we approach the world in the search for knowledge and understanding, and it inspired some deep personal reflection.  What is my lens? My Big TOE!

1456201176158

Photo courtesy of The Gantzery. (more…)

P versus NP – a Confounding Issue in Mathematical Complexity

October 2nd, 2012

A simple problem – what is the shortest route for visiting a number of different cities – is extraordinarily difficult and may become impossible as the number of cities rises.  If you can show that any “NP Complete” problem can be solved in a reasonable amount of time (“P”) you can win $1Million, as this is one of the seven “Millennium Problems” in mathematics that the Clay Foundation has offered a cash prize for solving. Personally, I doubt the NP Complete problems can be solved in P time – and I believe that their intractability demonstrates a hard stop to what we can “figure out”. (more…)

Do The Puzzles of Mathematics Prove God?

September 20th, 2012

Mario Livio’s book “Is God a Mathematician?” (2009) provides a delightful history of mathematics and its many heroes, but fails to answer the question posed in the title. Dr. Livio does address directly the slightly different question of whether mathematics is a human creation, or a human discovery. In other words, is mathematics absolute, and therefore potentially a “creation of God”, or is it invented, a kind of technology resulting from human endeavor. While mathematics and the physical world are very different things, I think it’s clear they are both a “creation of God.” (more…)

Mathematical Predictability – Hard Limits in Economics

September 27th, 2011

This week the EconTalk podcast featured a discussion on whether economics, with its limited predictive capabilities, can be classified as “science”.  I found the exchange (between Alex Rosenberg and Russ Roberts) to be wide-ranging, interesting and very perceptive, but I was disappointed that both missed the mathematical dimension to the issue of predictability.

(more…)

Cognitive Bias – The Difficulty of Judging What is True

July 27th, 2011

I recently heard an economist talking about the problem of cognitive bias in the economics profession, and it occurred to me that this is a key issue in the science and spirituality discussion. A quick survey of the topic (link here) demonstrates the hugely fallible quality of human rationality. How can we get past the problem? Honest and humble introspection – and respect for those holding contrary positions. (more…)

May 2, 2011. Synopsis – What is Truth?

May 3rd, 2011

On May 2, 2011, about 20 participants joined a lively discussion on the difficult question of how we determine that something is “true”. This included an exploration of gaps in the ability of science and math to prove beyond doubt that something is true, and reflections on whether science and religion are distinct areas of inquiry or whether there are ways these spheres of understanding can inform and support each other. Many topics for potential future consideration were identified. (more…)

Blind Spots – Reflection and Recursion

April 6th, 2011

In the previous discussion of solipsism, we avoided the abyss of pure skepticism by being willing to accept evidence that other people exist, even without an “absolute” proof. Where do we derive our awareness of others and the distinction between “self” and “other” – and what are the implications of this self-reflection? This is a really big question with implications for sentience, consciousness, and even the foundations of logic. (more…)

The Inadequacy of “God of the Gaps”

March 31st, 2011

I was recently explaining the Concept of ISAS to someone who said, “oh, like God of the Gaps.” I later took a quick scan of the postings that showed up on a web-search and confirmed that this is another buzz-word mine-field, treating science and spirituality like battlefield competitors. In contrast, ISAS is based on the concept that science and spirituality belong together – complementary rather than antagonistic. (more…)

Materialism – Scientific Hypothesis or Over-reaching?

March 21st, 2011

The materialistic worldview espoused by some scientists excludes the possibility of a spiritual reality. Most theologians, on the other hand, believe natural and spiritual realities coexist. This may explain the hostility some scientific writers express towards religious beliefs – it may also affect their science….

(more…)

The Skeptic’s Dilemma – Solipsism

March 17th, 2011

When I was a kid, my older brother used to tease me with questions that were beyond my understanding. One line of questioning I recall went like this – How do you know other people exist? Maybe you are dreaming. Maybe it’s all a movie in your brain and there is nobody there? How do you really know? (more…)

The Nature of Truth

March 14th, 2011

Dealing with truth can be tricky. Some interesting resources are listed below, all of which provide important insights. (more…)

ISAS – Session #1 – May 2, 2011

March 14th, 2011

May 2 – What is Truth? – On May 2, about 20 participants joined a lively discussion on the difficult question of how we determine that something is “true”. This included an exploration of gaps in the ability of science and math to prove beyond doubt that something is true, and reflections on whether science and religion are distinct areas of inquiry or whether there are ways these spheres of understanding can inform and support each other. Many topics for potential future consideration were identified.

The presentation and discussion was led by George Gantz, the series Director.  A Synopsis is posted in the Forum Discussions under The Nature of Truth. The session was recorded and is available on New Church audio at this link.

This ISAS live discussion session was held at the Harvey Wheeler Community Center at 1276 Main St., Concord, Massachusetts, from 7:30 to 9:00 PM.