Friday, September 11, 2009

Appearing at SFSU

Students at San Francisco State University want me to give a talk and take questions on the subject of mathematics and god, from the perspective of physics and naturalism. It's been quite a long time in the making, but we've arranged an event for Tuesday, 29 September (2009), 4-6pm. The talk is sponsored by the SFSU Department of Philosophy and by the Philosophy of Religion Society. It's free and open to the public. I will be selling and signing copies of my books afterward. 

The event will be held in Room 587 of the SFSU Humanities Building. You can get directions (and info about parking) from the SFSU website (among many options, there are shuttles and buses to the campus from the Daly City BART, and I hear the Muni M line goes somewhere near as well, but don't quote me on that). For exact locations, see the southwest section of the SFSU Campus Map. There is no website for the event, but inquiries can be emailed to Steve Baughman.

The title of the talk is: "The Universe Is Mathematical, Therefore God Exists! (Or Not)." As advertised: Dr. Richard Carrier, author of Sense and Goodness without God, explains how godless naturalism explains the mathematization of physics without any Mind behind the Universe. Using examples from Archimedes to modern String Theory, Carrier will show how advocates of the contrary view, like Russel Howell and Mark Steiner, don't understand the true nature of physics or mathematics. Then he will take questions from the audience on the remarkable thesis that mathematical laws prove the existence of God.

This is basically a summary and update of my ongoing debate with Howell and Steiner, which I've blogged about before: "Our Mathematical Universe" (5 October 2007). Except this time I'll use examples from ancient (and modern) science to show why the mathematization of nature is actually expected on naturalism.

8 comments:

Pikemann Urge said...

Ah, great, another subject with which I have to familiarize myself! Egads!

But let me see if I can guess where you are going with your last statement. If there was a personal God, then nature would not need to be mathematical. Or, maybe, if we observed circular planetary orbits instead of elliptical ones, maybe that would indicate a personal God's direct hand of creation?

Is that partly where you're going?

Actually, as a side note, I did hear of some hypothesis that proposed that unusually large objects or collections of objects (galaxies) need their own set of physical laws, just as particles need theirs. However, they'd still be mathematical.

Andrew said...

Dr. Carrier, just for background purposes, could you fill us in on your academic qualifications in mathematics and physics?

Thanks!

Richard Carrier said...

Pikemann Urge said... But let me see if I can guess where you are going with your last statement. If there was a personal God, then nature would not need to be mathematical.

No, I won't argue that. I don't believe even God could make a nonmathematical universe. Universes are necessarily mathematical. Which is what I will argue.

Andrew said... Dr. Carrier, just for background purposes, could you fill us in on your academic qualifications in mathematics and physics?

I already did that in the blog post I linked to in this blog post (above). Follow that link and skip down to the paragraph with a photo of the Coast Guard ship I served on many years ago.

Goldstein said...

Well, Dr. Carrier, I checked the "academic qualifications" that you referred to in mathematics and physics.

In terms of degrees, you have none.

In terms of courses, they seem to be at the High School and Undergraduate Level.

Respectable work, of course, but not very impressive in terms of the task you set for yourself in this post.

Pikemann Urge said...

Goldstein, I am sure that you, like I, want Richard to set the highest possible standards for himself. But one can be good at something without a degree, as everyone knows.

I don't think Richard has a degree in theology or philosophy and yet he has good knowledge of both fields (at least WRT Christian theology and Western philosophy).

My mechanic, thanks to years of experience, can shape cylinder heads at least as good as anyone at Ferrari (and probably better). I don't think he has much interest in moving to Italy, though. Yet he has no degrees.

(He also brought back a relative to full health from a stroke after the hospital gave up.)

Just my 2 cents.

Richard Carrier said...

And more to the point, if I am not qualified to assess the Howell-Steiner argument, then neither is hardly anyone else (almost no one having dual advanced degrees in mathematics and physics).

So unless you have advanced degrees in both mathematics and physics yourself, you face a conundrum: either you must conclude that you cannot assess the truth of their claims (owing to your lack of qualifications) and therefore must reject those claims as unproven (given their failure to generate a consensus in their field), or you can do what I do, and study the subject as much as is necessary to understand the arguments and evidence they present, and then evaluate the logical connection between that evidence and their conclusions.

Your call.

Jon said...

Crap I missed this. Is the talk online yet?

Richard Carrier said...

No, but I'll announce it on my blog when or if it ever is.