Category Archives: Q&A

Quora Answers 9/7/20: The Kalam Cosmological “Argument”

Today I am answering the following Quora question on the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

Is there a flaw in the Kalam cosmological argument?

My Answer

I assume you mean the form of the argument made popular by William Lane Craig. Which takes this essential form:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause
  4. Therefore God must have created it.

Let me show why this does not work.

  1. Yes, whatever begins to exist generally does have a cause. Which is to say that it did not always exist and did not come about by magic.

    However, the universe is not a thing. The concept of the universe refers to the totality of everything that exists. Regardless of what exists, we can lump everything that exists under the concept “universe”.

    But does the universe have a cause? Well, yes the concept of the universe has a cause. The need to refer to the totality of existence.

    But does existence have a cause? No, it does not. Existence has always existed. No matter how far “back in time” you go, you will always find that something has existed.

    There is no alternative to existence. There is no point at which nothing existed. And if there was, there would be nothing to cause existence to come into being.

    Therefore since existence has always existed and there is nothing that could cause the universe to come into existence, existence cannot have a cause.
  2. Since the universe refers to everything in existence, for the universe to have a cause, existence would have to have a cause. But we have shown that existence has no cause.
  3. Therefore since the existence has no cause, the universe has no cause.

I could go on and point out the Kalam Cosmological Argument has many flaws.

Firstly, the first premise applies to God. If God exists, then God must have a cause. According to Christians, God began to exist therefore god had to have a cause.

So what caused God? And if something caused God, then that thing must have existed and something must have caused that to exist.

And so on you, have an infinite series of creators that must have created each other.

Why does God get to be an uncaused entity? Logically he could not be. And if something created God, is that creator more powerful than God. If so, then that more powerful entity must be created by a yet more powerful entity.

So you have an infinite series of increasingly more powerful God-creating Creator gods.

Which is clearly logically absurd.

God, Kalam Cosmological argument
Hey God, who created you? And who created that God? Or do you get to be an arbitrary exception. If only there was a name for that logical fallacy…

It also greatly diminishes the importance of God as the ultimate creator. Since he is merely the last in the line of an endless line of more powerful creator Gods.

Which means that God cannot be omnipotent. Why? Because there is now a long series of entities far more powerful than God is.

That or all the other gods are just as powerful and God is part of an endless series of gods of equal power than created each other. It is Gods all the way down.

Which rather diminishes the uniqueness of God.

Or, God gets to be the exception to logic and was able to magically create himself.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is of course an example of the special pleading fallacy.

What is the special pleading fallacy? That is when you establish a principle such as “everything must have a cause” and then make arbitrary exceptions to that principle for no reason.

In other words, you make a claim and then make exceptions to it for no reason. Everything is meant to adhere to the principle except for the things which you make exceptions for.

This creates a double standard where your opponents are expected to adhere to your principles but you get to make exceptions without providing any reason for why your exceptions are valid.

If we are allowed to make God immune to logic, why bother with logic at all? Why not just assume that the universe is magic?

Or, more logically, that the Kalam Cosmological argument is invalid.

But of course, the fact that this is entirely illogical is not going to bother Creationists such as Craig. Since they are perfectly willing to use logic as long as does not apply to God or anything in the Bible.

Which is why it is pointless to argue with them. As they will never listen to logic or reason when it clashes with what they have accepted on faith. For no reason and against all reason.

It is therefore rather pointless to point any of this out to them. As once you have closed your mind to logic and reason, you have closed your mind to reality. And such people cannot be reasoned with. It would be rather a waste of time to try….

Bible firmament

Biblical Absurdities: Is the Bible At Odds With Science?

Introduction

Is the Bible at odds with science? Let us take a look at some of the claims of this book, shall we?

We shall not go in any particular order, but pluck out things as I think of them.

I will not pick on easy things, such as the fact that the Bible asserts that God made the Earth in a few days. Even though we know that the Earth formed over millions of years.

Nor will I focus on the fact that the Earth is not, as the Bible seems to think, a flat circle.

I will not discuss the dome that the Bible asserts is above the Earth which keeps the waters in space from falling onto Earth.

Nor will I go into how Noah could not have gathered two animals of every “kind” onto the Ark.

Nor will I go into the fact that that the Biblical notion of “kind” is completely unscientific nonsense. He did not even have enough room on his Ark!

No, there are many claims the Bible makes about the world or how it works that I will not go into. But what am I going to go into?

I will focus on somewhat less obvious or less well-known ways in which the Bible is wrong.

Bible firmament
So, I guess I will not talk about the dome the Bible claims is over the Earth. But I will show it….

Our List of Blunders

Let us start with what the Bible thinks about insects…

The Bible Thinks Insects Have Four Legs

Here is one of the things the Bible has to say about insects:

All flying insects that walk on all fours are to be detestable to you. There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. But all other winged creatures that have four legs you are to detest.

Leviticus 11:20–23

Insects have six legs, not four. Therefore there are not any four-legged flying insects. Unless the Bible s, for some reason, concerned about insects that have lost two legs.

Surely the Bible authors noticed that insects have six legs?

Well, they noticed they had six limbs. But they did not count two of the limbs as legs. Why? Because at least for the insects described here, they did not consider the two hind legs as walking legs but leaping legs.

But all the same, insects all have six legs. So it is wrong to say that they are four-legged creatures.

The Bible Does Not Know Anything About the Mustard Seed

Let us see which seed the Bible considers to be the smallest seed.

Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Matthew 13:31;32

The mustard seed is not the smallest seed. Jesus might not have known that. But I suspect farmers and the like might have known that.

The mustard seed does not grow into a tree either. The mustard plant is clearly not a tree and looks nothing like a tree.

It might have been classified by some as a tree back then because it grew relatively tall. But that is not a scientifically valid reason to classify something as a tree.

The Bible Thinks Pi is 3

Let us turn to the Bible describing a cauldron and see if we can figure out if the all-knowing God knows the correct value of pi.

Also, he made a molten sea [cauldron] of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

Kings 7:23-24

The more mathematically astute among you may have already seen the problem. Let me point it out.

Pi is a circle’s circumference divided by its diameter.

The circumference of a circle equals pi times the diameter.

Pi = Circumference divided by diameter.

Now, let us look at what the Bible says. It says that the cauldron is 30 cubits around. So, if we consider the circumference of the circle formed by the rim of the cauldron, it says this circle is 30 cubits around.

It also says that the cauldron is 10 cubits from one brim to the other. So, the diameter of the rim is 10 cubits.

Therefore, according to the Bible:

 Pi = C/d or 30/10 = 3.

But we know that pi is not equal to three. It is about 3.14 and the decimal digits go on indefinitely.

It certainly is not equal to three!

The Bible Thinks the Moon is a Light

Let us see what the Bible says about the Moon, shall we?

And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.

Genesis 1:16

This seems to be talking about the Moon. The greater light would be the Sun and the “lesser light” seems to be the Moon.

But there is one big problem with this. The Moon is not a light, it gives off no light of its own. It is a big bunch of rock. People only think it is light because it reflects the light of the Sun.

So the Bible does not even know what the Moon is. Nor that it has no means of giving off any light of its own!

Episode Twenty Five – Fragment and Pandemonium Interview with Warren Fahy (No Spoilers)

Play

Today we have an interview with Warren Fahy, author of the books Fragment and Pandemonium. We are going to talk about these books as well as about some biology stuff. Should be fun!

Some of you may not know what these books are. Well, Warren is going to tell us all about them in a little bit. But they are science thrillers something along the lines of Jurassic Park.

You can probably gather by the fact that I am interviewing him about these books, that I have read them and probably enjoy them.

Yes, I have read them and I do enjoy them. Fragment and the sequel are amazingly interesting books with some extremely compelling biological theories.

There are some truly terrifying, nightmare creatures in both of them. They make the dinosaurs and monsters in other books seem tame. Dragons? T-Rexes? The critters in these books, such as spigers are much deadlier and scarier.

I also quite like the main cast of characters, but I cannot talk about that very much without spoilers. But two of them are biologists and they may or may not have some fascinating biological ideas, new and old.

Highly recommended. But more than that and as entertaining as the scary monsters are, you might also learn something reading this.

You can find out more about and buy both of these books here:

Fragment
Buy from Amazon

Pandemonium
Buy from Amazon

This is the non-spoiler version of this episode. If you have read these books, you might want to go to the other version of the podcast here. It has a lot of the same stuff, but without spoiler content removed.

Please note that we cannot be 100% sure that there is not some spoiler we missed in here. It might be best to read the books before listening to this podcast!

We have not presented the transcript of this in web page form. Instead, you can listen to the audio or download the PDF transcript.

However, there may be mistakes in the transcript. Any mistakes in transcription represent our own errors or a transcription error we missed.

Click here to download the PDF transcript.

Episode Twenty Five – Fragment and Pandemonium Interview with Warren Fahy

Play

Today we have an interview with Warren Fahy, author of the books Fragment and Pandemonium. We are going to talk about these books as well as about some biology stuff. Should be fun!

Some of you may not know what these books are. Well, Warren is going to tell us all about them in a little bit. But they are science thrillers something along the lines of Jurassic Park.

You can probably gather by the fact that I am interviewing him about these books, that I have read them and probably enjoy them.

Yes, I have read them and I do enjoy them. Fragment and the sequel are amazingly interesting books with some extremely compelling biological theories.

There are some truly terrifying, nightmare creatures in both of them. They make the dinosaurs and monsters in other books seem tame. Dragons? T-Rexes? The critters in these books, such as spigers are much deadlier and scarier.

I also quite like the main cast of characters, but I cannot talk about that very much without spoilers. But two of them are biologists and they may or may not have some fascinating biological ideas, new and old.

Highly recommended. But more than that and as entertaining as the scary monsters are, you might also learn something reading this.

You can find out more about and buy both of these books here:

Fragment
Buy from Amazon

 

Pandemonium
Buy from Amazon

 

If you have not read these books, you might want to go to the non-spoiler version of the podcast here. It has a lot of the same stuff, but with some spoiler content removed.

Please note that we cannot be 100% sure that there is not some spoiler we missed. It might be best to read the books before listening to this podcast!

We have not presented the transcript of this in web page form. Instead, you can listen to the audio or download the PDF transcript.

However, there may be mistakes in the transcript. Any mistakes in transcription represent our own errors or a transcription error we missed.

Click here to download the PDF transcript.

Math concepts.

Episode Fifteen – Quora Questions on Mathematics

Play

Today we are going to answer some Quora questions on the topic of mathematics.

Click here to download the PDF transcript. This episode’s transcript has no illustrations.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.]

Introduction

Metaphysics of Physics is the much needed and crucial voice of reason in the philosophy of science, rarely found anywhere else in the world today. We are equipped with the fundamental principles of a rational philosophy that gives us the edge, may make us misfits in the mainstream sciences but also attracts rational minds to our community.

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science. We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts, subscription options and more on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Hi everyone! This is episode fifteen of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast and I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

Today we are going to answer some Quora questions on the topic of mathematics.

As some of you will already know, this episode comes out while Dwayne and I are on our honeymoon in sunny Australia, so of course, this episode was recorded and scheduled for release well in advance. We will be sure to share some photos when we return from our adventures!

Gold Coast beach
We might be here when you listen to this.

As you listen to this, we are now husband and wife philosophers. Pretty neat huh?

Anyway, back to the show! As there has been a lot of wedding related stuff going on, this will be a shorter episode as we did not have time for a lot of questions. I hope you enjoy the questions we answered in the time available.

But, without further ado, let us start with our Quora questions.

Is it possible that an alien civilization has completely different mathematics than ours? Is mathematics absolute?

First of all, what is mathematics?

Let us define it as the science of method whereby we establish quantitative relationships between things for the purpose of measurement.

This makes sense, right? A great deal of mathematics is dedicated to the measurement of physical attributes such as size, volume, etc.

But mathematics does not only measure physical attributes. It can also be used to quantify abstract concepts, such as probabilities. These do not directly refer to the physical attributes of entities, but nonetheless refer to some measurable aspect of reality.

If performed properly and if it is measuring the same quantities, mathematics should be objective and get equivalent results. The units of measurement may well be different, but once you account for these differences, the results should be the same.

Why? Because the facts of reality being measured are the same no matter what the units are or which alien civilization is performing the measurements. Assuming the same things are being measured.

mathematics
The symbols might differ, but aliens probably have many of the same core mathematical concepts.

Does that mean that the mathematical methods must be the same? Not necessarily.

As mathematics is a science of method, there may be multiple valid methods which can be used to establish quantitative relationships and arrive at valid measurements.

For instance, if you want to measure the volume of an irregular solid, you can potentially use a number of different methods in calculus to find the volume. Or, you can use something other than calculus, although the results may not be quite as accurate.

Any mathematical method is valid, as long as it gets sufficiently reliable results. And what qualifies as “sufficiently reliable” really depends on the context and how accurate the results need to be.

So, it is entirely possible that alien civilizations have some mathematical methods we do not know of, which work fine in the proper context.

So, is mathematics absolute? Well, yes. If performed properly, different methods should arrive at equivalent results based on the same facts of reality. Even if the mathematical methods may differ in their details.

Roman coin

Episode Ten – Interview With The Author of “Creating Christ”

Play

Today we interview James Valliant, author of the important book “Creating Christ: How Roman Emperors Invented Christianity“. This interview is basically a question-led interview and long answers to the relatively few questions which were required.

The thesis of Creating Christ is that Christianity is the result of Roman propaganda in the first and second centuries. Designed to pacify Messianic Jews and to integrate them into Roman society.

This might not seem to be an important subject or a probable claim, but it really is. If Christianity and its proper place in the history of the West is to be understood, it is important that the true nature of Christianity is understood.

But, is this claim true? Yes, as you will discover when you listen to the podcast and or read the transcript.

You can also purchase Creating Christ here:

Creating Christ
Buy from Amazon

Episode Transcript

This episode is about one hour and fifty-six minutes long. As a result, we have not implemented the episode transcript in the usual form. We have provided a transcript in an edited and more formal form. It is much like a formal written answer to the question, however, the questions do very closely match the content of the audio.

However, please note that there may be minor mistakes in the transcript. I have done my best to clean up any spelling and grammatical errors, however, due to time constraints, it has not been possible to edit out all possibility of such.

Click here to download the PDF transcript.

Boltzmann

Episode Nine – An Interview with the Physicist Juanma

Play

Today we interview the Spanish physicist Juanma on physics, the role of philosophy in physics and what can be done to improve the state of modern physics.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.  Also, note that the audio may of poorer quality than previous episodes, so you might want to keep this in mind.]

Hi everyone! This is episode nine of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast.

I am Ashna, and I your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science.  We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we have an interview with Juanma, physics and mathematics researcher, Objectivist and a fellow student of the philosophy of physics!

Dwayne originally performed this interview. But, for various reasons we won’t go into here, his segments were rerecorded by myself.

The audio may be of lower quality than normal. This is due to the fact that the interview was performed over Skype and the connection was of fairly low quality.

For the most part, the audio should be of acceptable quality, but if parts are less clear there is a transcript which may help to clarify parts of the audio which might be difficult to make out.

Note that the transcript includes the answers Juanma prepared in advance and does not include extra commentary improvised during the interview.  This extra content is nice, but it is not crucial. You should be able to get the gist of the answers provided to the questions from the transcript.

But, without further ado, let us start the interview.

Interview

Juanma, please introduce yourself to our audience.
I am Juanma, my name is Jaun Manuel.  I am a Spanish physicist and I majored in theoretical physics.  And then I spent a year doing research in the foundation of quantum mechanics.

And now I am living in London doing an MSc course in quite a different thing, which is the physics of complex systems.  And I am also interested in philosophy and quantum mechanics interpretations.  Which has been my motive even since I got into the science world.

1) What did you study and why?
In Madrid, I could have chosen mathematics or physics. In the end, I decided to major in physics.

I decided this quite early during high school. I decided this quite early during high school because the thing that most resonates with me is discovering and understanding natural phenomena.

I mean, I love mathematics, but I felt it was too far from the real world.  So, in the end, I wanted something a little bit more hands-on, even if I have always been more inclined to the more fundamental and theoretical side.

2) What are the right reasons to pursue an academic career in physics or other sciences? What will enable you to make it?
Well, first of all, being quite the vocational career, so it takes a lot of dedication and interest. This is not a job that you can forget about once you get home, for example.

Many scientists spend many more hours at work than they would normally have to, and some keep working even at home, even at night.

My supervisor, last year, was hoping for the family to go to sleep so he could keep doing research, after past, I don’t know, midnight.

cat nap long hours
If you want to go into the sciences, learn to catnap so you can better handle those long hours.

It takes so much dedication: it must be your passion, your job and your hobby.  Which is quite of a thing to request for an interest in life.

Yeah, it just becomes your life.  Everyone I have known who was taking a Ph.D. or just researching, have just turned science into their life.

Many jobs in this world, you can just forget about them once you are finished.  But, science, particularly theoretical and fundamental sciences, you can to go bed and then come up with something, wake up (or stand up), take a note and then go back to bed.

3) Alright, what are the things you did not like in academia?
In the end, even if it seems to be quite a free enterprise, to decide what you are going to research, you actually depend on other people’s approval just to thrive.

You can’t just do some research without telling your university, for example. Your university must approve of your research interests; your peers must accept your papers for publication.

This sometimes turns into compliance with the status quo, you know. And so some arbitrary ideas grow over time simply because it’s not easy to get a voice if you disagree with the mainstream. Even if you present loads of compelling evidence, bring lots of information, sometimes the world of academia is quite reluctant to accept it.

This, in turn, compromises the quality of the science you produce. That is an inherent thing in academia, it has been ever since universities were built and began being a thing in the scientific literature world.  So, I don’t think there is much we can do about that.

Ashna: What is it they say? Publish or perish? Well, they want you to publish stuff they think will bring in the funding. Which is fair, they obviously need the funding. But, less mainstream ideas might not be perceived as highly fundable ideas.

4) What are the things you liked being in academia?
Well, you rarely meet people that aren’t passionate about their job, so everyone is pretty much up for discussion, time permitting, of course.

You can just go downstairs to the cafeteria and find some coffee and some interesting talk. For half an hour, one hour, about your research interests.  So, you can share your passion with people.

You don’t usually find this in some other jobs. People are usually willing to forget about their jobs once they are done.  But, in science, since it is such a vocational thing, you are always finding someone, some peers. I love that.

Also, when you don’t push reviewers’ tolerance too much, you enjoy a lot of creative freedom and it rarely becomes monotonous.  Because you can always job back and forth between different research topics.

Ashna: Yeah, even the most irrational of them, say, Max Tegmark, are very passionate. I dont like what he has to say, but he is passionate.

5) Do you wish you had studied something different and if so, why?
Thinking back, had I known how academic research would turn out, I would probably have gone for something I can still be creative at, but something that doesn’t demand some gentle form of compliance.

There is also this Atlas Shrugged-related dilemma. I don’t know if your audience is familiar with Atlas Shrugged plot, I won’t disclose that much.  But, this dilemma is basically that that scientists get scorned and underestimated, usually poorly paid and discredited. While for example, pseudoscience gets more and more popular because people nowadays prefer being told what they want to believe rather than the blatant truth.

Engineering
Engineering is a more practical, hands on job than the theoretical sciences. You also are more likely to be paid for your overtime.

So that plays against science and for say, religious or pseudoscientific views.

I think it’s healthier for one’s emotional wellbeing to pursue a career where you get what you earn. I sometimes think that becoming a researcher somehow resembles becoming a nun…

It’s implicitly written in the terms of your job that you will dedicate as much as it takes of yourself to science and that what you get from becomes pretty much irrelevant. You have decided to put your whole life, all your time, all that it takes, into science.  And you are pretty much signing up for a contract where all your time, all your spare time, isn’t that valuable.

If you are about to publish some paper or if you are collaborating with someone, maybe you have to put in 18 hours. Well, that is a bit of an exaggeration, you have to put in a lot of hours into the day, perhaps sometimes skipping meals or coming home at past 10.

It’s just a scientist’s life. Nobody will see that, it is a strange thing.

If you get some other job, you might get paid for extra hours. In science, it is implicitly accepted that you will have to do some extra hours at some point. But you just won’t get paid for that. Simply because you are expected to be so committed to science that you are not expected to expect something else in return.

I would probably have gone for something which is more efficient in these terms. Where I can really get what I am working for and earn a decent amount to simply enjoy other aspects of life and not just let science absorb all of my time, all of my dedication.

I was about to move to naval engineering, which is something where I can see the results of my work in my hands, where I can touch the results of my work. Which I don’t think is necessarily worse than doing science.  But I also like to see where all of my work has got to.

So, looking back, I might have chosen something of the sort.

Ashna: Imagine how much better it would be if people lived in a world where we had greater respect for good science and more appreciation for how hard scientists work. I think they would be better off and might make more progress.
6) What do you think about string theory?
Ah well, to paraphrase The Fountainhead, “I don’t think of string theory”. No, really, I think the methodology adopted by theoretical physicists in the last century inevitably leads to arbitrariness and, what’s even worse, a complete disregard for understanding natural phenomena.

How To Download Episodes

It has come to our attention that some of our listeners may not know how to download episodes in mp3 format so that they can listen to them later. This post will help you learn how to do that. If you do not need to know how to do this or already know, then you are welcome to skip the rest of this post.

There are two ways to get mp3 episodes onto your device. We will go over two easy ways to accomplish this.  We will go over them below, but if you want the short answer, right-click where it says “Download” and you can save the mp3 file to your device.

First Method

You will want to show the podcast player. If you do not see it, then you will need to click on the play button, show below.

Download from player.

Now you should see the player. Click the three dotted vertical lines at the end of the player.

Then just click “Download”.

Second Method

You can also right-click where it says “Download” and you should see an option along the lines of “Save link as”, such as shown below.

On my Android mobile, it says “Download Link”. On your mobile device, it might say something similar.

download on Android

I hope this helps you be able to save the mp3 on your device of choice!

Galileo

Episode Six – Questions About Dwayne, Ashna And The Show

Play

Today we discuss some questions addressing some of our most and least favorite historical figures, discuss the history and future of the show and Ashna discusses her academic background.

Please note that two of the “upcoming” website updates mentioned in the article, posting stuff other than podcast episodes and random quotes, have already been added to the website.

Episode Transcript

[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences.  Also, note that the audio may be louder than previous episodes, so you might want to keep this in mind].

Ashna
Welcome to episode six of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!

With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science. We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.

You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.

Today we have with us Dwayne to talk to us about the show and its production. And I will be answering some questions on my academic experiences. This should be fun!

Dwayne
Hi everyone!

Ashna
Ok, so let’s begin by talking about some of our favorite figures in science and philosophy and why they make the favorite list.

My personal favorites in physics are Newton and Galileo.

Galileo, as everyone knows helped really get physics going as a systematic science as we know it today. And of course, there was his brave opposition to the Catholic Church at the time. It was considered heresy to believe much of what he believed, but he refused to admit as much, in the face of the Inquisition.

Galileo
Galileo instructing a monk.

Newton, well we all know what Newton did. His work finally gave physics that last push it needed to become the systematic science we know today. His invention of calculus was one of the most important mathematical tools ever invented and provided a method by which crucial physical relationships could be theoretically identified and then tested.

Dwayne
I have a number of favorites myself, probably too many to list here. So, I will name just a few of them.

In the field of physics; Faraday, Archimedes, Maxwell and Boltzmann. All of these people made major contributions to their fields and held somewhat rational philosophies. Or, at least, not to my knowledge, very irrational ones.

Maxwell for his massive contributions to electromagnetism, kinetic theory of gases and so on. He was one of the great unifiers in physics and contributed more to the field than many others ever have.

Boltzmann had the courage to champion the atomic model well before it was widely accepted, despite the fact he faced massive and irrational opposition.

And of course Feynman. Mostly because he is so darn likeable and passionate about physics and was a really good teacher.

Ashna
In the field of mathematics, there’s Hipparchus who was able to deduce and calculate amazing things with remarkable accuracy given his methods. Such as the size of the Earth and stellar distances. Some of the results were less accurate than others, but his methods were remarkably ingenious.

Dwayne
Yes, then there’s Kepler who stands out here, despite his religious devotion and rationalism. At the time, his work on planetary orbits was, excuse the bad pun, revolutionary.

Ashna
I love bad puns!

Ok so, there’s Euclid who was one of the first to develop rigorous systems of mathematical proofs and identified countless interesting principles of geometry.

And let’s not forget, Gauss and Euler were mathematical prodigies, both contributing more valuable ideas to mathematics than we can recall offhand.

Euler
Leonard Euler, such a great mathematician that he has a number named after him.

Dwayne
I also wanted to mention some figures notable in the field of computer science. Donald Knuth, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee and Grace Hopper, to name some of my favorites.

Knuth for his important work on the theoretical underpinning of algorithms and so forth.

Turing for helping pioneer what a computer is and its architecture and how it works.

Tim Berners-Lee for helping lay the software underpinnings for the web.

Grace Hopper for her pioneering work on computer languages and compilers.

Despite having studied computer science and done a lot of software development, my list here seems pretty small. The philosophical premises of a lot of people in computer science bugs me. They are often very rationalist and that makes it hard for me to consider them “favorite figures”.

So, the four names I have listed here are people who, as far as I know, are less rationalist then some of the other names I might have chosen and who have made some of the most significant contributions to the field.

Ashna
When it comes to philosophy, of course, it should not be a surprise that Ayn Rand is our hero.

Dwayne
She developed Objectivism, the first fully consistent and rational system in the history of philosophy. Her work is a major reason this podcast is here in the first place and without her philosophy, I would not have grown as much philosophically as I have.

Ashna
And then there’s Leonard Peikoff for championing her philosophy and contributing to original ideas and interesting ideas of his own to the field; such as his theory of induction and the DIM Hypothesis.

Dwayne
Yes, and Aristotle for providing a complete and largely rational philosophical system, the first in history. Plato was the first to present a complete philosophical system, but Aristotle presented the first rational one. Without the contributions of Aristotle, there would have been no Renaissance and likely no Ayn Rand.