Random Stuff

Random links I've run across in the past couple months:

  • Math and physics notes by Bob Geroch, about Gödel's theorem, topology, quantum field theory and other things.
  •  An homage to Catalan independence.  When I was in Barcelona I saw the Sagrada Familia cathedral designed by St. Gaudí, which they've been constructing since 1882.  They plan to finish around 2028.   I also saw some of his weird apartment buildings.
  • Theodore Dalrymple, a writer for the New English Review, who reminds me of St. Chesterton, albeit with only about a tenth the wit and widsom.  I mean this as an outrageous compliment, you should seriously read his essays.

About Aron Wall

I am a Lecturer in Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. Before that, I read Great Books at St. John's College (Santa Fe), got my physics Ph.D. from U Maryland, and did my postdocs at UC Santa Barbara, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Stanford. The views expressed on this blog are my own, and should not be attributed to any of these fine institutions.
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7 Responses to Random Stuff

  1. g says:

    Typo alert: Sagrada, not Sagreda.

  2. Thank you for the link and the encouragement.

    Take care & God bless
    Anne / WF

  3. Aron Wall says:

    I'm glad you were encouraged. I also liked your Easter post on why you believe in Jesus' Resurrection, which pretty much coincides with the approach I take to the subject.

    Although unlike you I was raised a Christian. Which, according to some people, undermines any persuasive force my beliefs might otherwise have (although for some reason they don't apply the same criterion to people who were raised to believe in e.g. democracy and human rights, or Darwinian evolution). So it's always nice to have people one can point to who were converted by the evidence.

  4. g says:

    Who are these people?

  5. Aron Wall says:

    Personal (non-internet) friends and acquaintances. A lot of times, when someone learns I'm a Christian, the first thing they want to know is if I was raised that way, often (it seems) to see if they can discount it as indoctrination.

    Also, this last week a close friend (who of course already knew my history) brought up the issue, saying that Christ's divinity was sufficiently implausible that she didn't think many people could accept it who weren't raised to it. I checked and according to this study, it seems that in the US, about 45% of people raised in religiously unaffiliated homes have become some sort of Protestant or Catholic. (Of course, nominal religious affiliation is an imperfect proxy for religious belief).

  6. g says:

    Of course I don't know exactly what those friends and acquaintances have said, but I'd like to observe that there's a difference between thinking something's very implausible and much easier to believe if you're brought up to, and ignoring what someone else says about it on the grounds that they were brought up to believe it.

    Anyway, I think maybe I misunderstood your complaint. Was it that some people won't take any notice of your arguments because they think nothing counts when it comes from someone brought up as a Christian, or that they don't think the mere fact that you're a Christian is much evidence for Christianity because bringing someone up to believe something works pretty well whether it's true or not? The second of those seems quite reasonable to me (do you disagree?) but if that's what you meant then I don't see why you complain about it or why you think anyone's not doing the same with evolution or democracy. If you meant the first then of course it would be both rude and stupid of these people, but the description you've given so far doesn't actually sound to me like they're doing that.

  7. Aron Wall says:

    It's not always possible to tell what the other person was thinking, but at least some of the time I'm pretty sure people are more dismissive of the arguments as a result. In any case, I don't think I implied that people should believe in Christianity just because I am one. I do think that when you see someone who is apparently intelligent who believes something strange, that is often a good reason to investigate the evidence to see whether it is really true. Not usually to accept it just because they say so.

    However, obviously in another sense I do believe that the fact that I am a Christian is good evidence for Christianity being true---at the very least it is good evidence for me! Since according to myself I believe it because the evidence is good, in other words I think that the process by which I moved from the evidence to the belief was reasonable, and that if Christianity weren't supported by the evidence then I probably wouldn't believe it. If someone else had a sufficiently high impression of my intellectual character that they also believed that about me, then for them, my belief would count as evidence.

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