Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Rationalism and atheism - not the same thing

Here's a quote from a post at Telic Thoughts, quoting an article from "Science Daily":
Three years before he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, Eugene Wigner published an article entitled "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences" (1960). He marveled at how often physicists develop concepts to describe the "real" world only to discover that mathematicians–heedless of that real world–have already thought up and explored the concepts. His own experience of the uncanny applicability of mathematical insights to the physical reality of quantum mechanics led Wigner to observe "that the enormous usefulness of mathematics in the natural sciences is something bordering on the mysterious and that there is no rational explanation for it."
In reality, there is no problem in understanding why there is such a close connection between abstract mathematics that we might think only exists in boffins' heads and the physical world. The God who made us and our minds also made the physical world. The world is the product of the mind of God, and so are our minds. When he made us, he made us with minds that weren't wildly incompatible with the world we have to live in! Hence it's hardly a massive surprise to find that mathematics and the world are not completely dissimilar, but that one is in many ways the key to the other.

The author of this quote, though, shares the deep confusion of many atheists. He confuses rationalism with atheism, and ends up proclaiming that the correlation between maths and matter is mysterious and has no rational explanation for it. What he meant to say was that it was incomprehensible to an atheist and had no godless explanation for it.

Godlessness and rationalism are not the same. Godlessness and irrationalism are the same, and the conundrum described above is one of the evidences of it. Everything in creation declares the glory of the creator - the irrational position is the one that refuses to join the dots, not the one that does.

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