5 December 2011

Those silly pseudo-scientists

Listen to this guy, John Lennox, explaining why science cannot explain everything. His argument is this:
Someone makes a cake (it is his aunt, Matilda). The chemists can tell what elements the cake consists of. The physicists can tell the particles comprising the atoms in the cake. The mathematicians can describe the equations of motion of these particles. But can we assert that the cake was completely explained? Suppose we ask the experts why the cake was made. They can't tell! But, aunt Matilda can! Of course she can, because she made the cake herself.

I've heard this fellow use this idiotic argument several times in the past. Live. With this argument, he wants to "prove" that science has its limits. And, therefore, he implies that (his) god exists.  Go figure.... The sad thing is not that John Lennox is (was) a mathematician (he is now a priest) at Oxford. It is that he has followers...

There is no limit to human idiocy: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." (Einstein)


  1. If his quote of Medawar is correct that makes me sad too since he is highly regarded and this lowers my opinion of Medawar.

    As for Maddox, it's pretty ironic how it is the very science which he's trying to put "back in its place" that shows quite convincingly that Aunt Matilda CANNOT in fact tell us why she made the cake -- at least not in terms of her having privileged certain knowledge of her motivations. So regardless of the example's silliness, even if we took it at face value it's quite the opposite to what he's saying.

  2. Michael, thanks for your observation. Very good point.

    I just clicked on Google and I think that Medawar said that. See, e.g., here. He has also written a book, The Limits of Science.

    As I said, I've listened to Lennox (Maddox?) live and I always find him silly. One stupid statement after another. Nevertheless, people in the audience find him an eloquent scientist who helps them understand why their religious beliefs have a rational, mathematical, scientific, basis!! This is how Lennox comes across to the faithful ones.



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant