Atheists invited to New York “Interfaith” Breakfast

Recently various religious leaders convened for an annual breakfast with NY Mayor Bloomberg to discuss community building. This year was the first to include atheists in the group.

According to the NY Times, it was Nazli Parvizi, the mayor’s commissioner of the Community Affairs Unit and an atheist, who “decided to invite atheists for the first time. She said she was inspired in part by President Obama’s inaugural address, which included a prominent reference to America’s nonbelievers.” Continue reading

Purpose, biosemiotics and the complexity sciences

Telos is otherwise known as final cause, one of four causes identified by Aristotle’s natural philosophy: Material cause describes how the physical properties of matter determine what a thing is and how it will react with other things. For example, an ivory ball will roll differently than a wooden ball, as the density and weight of the material determines how much resistance it has. Efficient cause describes how the agent (person, animal, or even a moving object like a billiard ball) acting on something determines what happens. For example, the pool player, the cue stick or ball hitting another ball at rest is the efficient cause of the latter’s moving. Formal cause describes how the “blueprint” or the natural laws of form determine what can be. Some forms are physically impossible; others are very probable. Experienced pool players have learned that certain types of moves can be expected to result in certain types of outcomes, and they may apply their knowledge of geometry to their game.  Final cause describes how the “end,” or the function something ultimately serves, determines what happens or how something develops. The ball was struck so that the pool player might win the game and further develop his abilities and reputation. Continue reading