Episode:Science & Religion (Free Will), with Dr. Phil Calabrese

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After Catholic school Dr. Calabrese studied mathematics at IIT in Chicago. His first research paper (on alternating infinite series) was published as a sophomore. In 1969 Phil realized that his basic connection to God is direct via the inner mind of each person. After graduating he taught mathematics. Later he was an analyst and scientific computer programmer. A paper on the foundations of logic and probability allowed Phil to return to mathematical research with a 1990 award from the National Research Council.

The loving father of four children, he is active in a small United Christian Church choir and hosts a study group. Phil is writing a book on science and religion based on the teachings of The Urantia Book.


Listen to this episode

Note: Co-hosts this week were Ann, James, and Kermit. Pierre Chicone joined for a large portion of the episode.

Note: The episode began with a song from the late Lee Farmer. It touches on the absurdities of mechanistic philosophy.


Notes by Brad

  • Phil's academic work
    • An algebraic synthesis on the foundations of probability and logic was a key paper published by Phil.
      • Boolean fractions, conditional events.
      • Conclusions given uncertain or probabilistic premises, even as you continue to allow boolean logic to be used by way of fractions.
    • Applications of Phil's work
      • It's possible the military has developed (classified) operating systems incorporating these principles.
      • Example: 2 radars with overlapping coverage, attempting to understand an object within both areas.
      • Throw a 6-sided die and ask a compound question like, "If the roll is an even number, if it's less than 4, is it less than 3?" Answering this question is possible with his algebra (brute force is another tried-and-true approach).
    • Dr. Bool's (1892) 3 forms of looking at how the mind: and's, or's, and not's. It wasn't until some time later that combinatorial logic was found to be able to apply to computers.
      • Now that this arealm of increasing automation is here and ever-growing, we can be freed to explore the world of philosophy and mind.
      • (Perhaps a quest for knowledge and wisdom?)


  • Does a mathematician like Phil gamble? With an advantage?
    • No, not blackjack. But he does enjoy penny-ante poker a lot, since childhood.
    • Probability helps a poker player understand the long-shot odds of a hand.
    • But no online or Las Vegas poker for Phil.
      • "Primitive man alternated between two potent interests: the passion of getting something for nothing and the fear of getting nothing for something." [86:1.4]. These governing systems/chemicals are powerful, primal, and addictive.


  • Concerning free will, given this realm of conditional probability
    • The Templeton Foundation has this as a basic question it is investigating.
    • Philosophic materialists presuppose the brain is merely a state machine subject to antecedent causation. Free will is an inconvenient truth to those who take this as a given. It's a self-evident contradictory philosophic position to hold, it seems.
    • Which hand do I hold this phone with? Do I drop this pencil or not? Even these simple decisions seemingly are in the moment, not in the eternal past.
    • Phil says assuming we have freedom of choice is a better foundational axiom for the pursuit of truth.
    • Even in a game of chess, which seems to imply forethought, would be asserted by philosophic materialists to be merely atoms interacting.
    • The philosophic materialist leave no room for the concept of mind. "Mind is produced by the brain" is incorrect.
    • But not everything is demonstrable. Everything requires assumptions be made. Phil explained, You cannot deduce anything without one or more premises or postulates.
    • Mechanistic philosophy--spoken of at length regarding automatons in [Paper 195]--is at play here. Especially [195:7], The Vulnerability of Materialism.
    • That is, "It takes a mind to imagine it is a machine, but I cannot imagine a machine imagining it is a mind." —Phil
    • The free will question seems to arise by analogy in the lives of our children, as seen by the parents. To the children it may appear they have freedom, but the parents still are defining the structure and boundaries of their environment.
      • "the ground rules of the reality in which we live" is as true of a statement on cosmic scales as it is the scale of a child's back yard.
    • The observable fact that we can make changes on the physical level—alter the flow of cause and effect—necessarily implies we have access to something that is transcendent of that physical level, and that is the mind.
    • Mind-altering drugs can affect us, too. Selecting which chemicals to allow into our bodies (alcohol, for example) is therefore important.


  • Will computers ever appear to have free will?
    • Like Star Trek's Data, or HAL in 2001?
    • No. Not free will on a human level. But machinery will become quite sophisticated.
    • So-called artificial intelligence can, at best, mimic. Machines do not get access to the Creative Mother Spirit.
    • "There is more than mathematics in the universe." —Phil
    • Pierre Chicone called in and agreed.
      • Mechanical learning, mimicing a human being, yes. They can be close. You can be fooled into thinking they're thinking like a human.
      • These computers may even appear to think faster than humans. But in reality, they are merely following rulesets devised by humans.
      • A computer will never be a being--that would be the only possibility for free will.
    • Any machine that appears to make a choice or decision, in reality mechanically acting out a choice or decision made by the computer programmer.


  • Given computers, are children still learning math as effectively today as before?
    • This is nothing new, says Phil.
      • Long division is simply a skill, a skill automatable by computers to be sure and long division may become "rusty."
      • But it has always been this way. New, higher questions need to be answered. The history of math is important to track, but that full history need not be taught to all children, otherwise no time would be available for new material.
      • It is an evolution. We will use what we need from the past and extend it into the future (i.e., conservation)
    • "Are we losing key knowledge, or replacing it with new knowledge?", asks Ann.
      • Part of our species whole thing is building upon things we've done before.
      • Take the hard-won discoveries of one generation and apply them a new and different way.
      • With the time freed up by desktop calculators and not needing to have multiplication tables memorized, in theory it allows room for new discovery.
      • That said, a subset of young students clearly remain drawn to the fundamentals beneath. Perhaps we do well to let them still learn these fundamentals.
      • Some temperament types (including co-host Ann as a child) use mathematical problem solving in the same freeing, meditative way just as others use music, or painting.
    • The newest 3-d CAD-CAM software promise a whole new realm of inventiveness. What will our children invent with these systems and technologies, especially since we are gifting them the ability to "print" their inventions out in real space?
      • Amazing promise. All made possible by what has come before.


  • Can mathematics enslave us? [141:12]
    • Only the mechanistic part, the part determined by the premises and energy relationships. The part wholly subject to physical law. But that's not all there is.
    • Mathematics may cover all of science, but it does not cover all of philosophy.
    • We have a mental side and a spiritual side that are not purely physical.
    • Math is a language. Phil extended math's language to point to more complex realities, not unlike now Newton did in discovering calculus.
      • Before we had discovered fractions, imagine how hard it was to understand things in the world that had parts in them?
    • Remember the ascension plan: The minor sector is about conquering the physical, the major sector conquering the mindal level, and the superuniverse level conquering the spiritual. You are enslaved to something just to the extent you have not conquered/mastered/understood it.
  • 1hr 14min: Steve Garner complimented the discussion, reporting he really enjoyed it.


  • Reality concepts
    • The 5th ER explains that all our concepts of reality are concepts formed in the mind. We cannot ignore mind as a part of this picture.
    • The mind has an outer view and an inner view. That is, the inner versus outer life.
      • In the inner life we find will.
      • We possess consciousness in both of these realms.
    • We cannot imagine reality with the mind, for the mind is doing the imagining.
    • Goodness cannot be dervied out of mathematics. Good is a spirit word.
    • We can actualize certain potentials and apparently change the future. That is choice.


  • Science "versus" religion
    • Readers biases toward spirit/unity consciousness often report they don't enjoy studying the "science sections" of the 5th ER.
    • But reason is the method of science (as faith is the method of religion). We should not avoid reason.
    • We should harmonize science, philosophy, and religion for a more balanced, happy life.
    • Without comprehending science, one's concept of reality will be distorted.
    • Only selecting what "feels" good or right is problematic. Our thoughts, not our feelings, lead us Godward. Thoughts versus feelings.
    • True science is in no way dismissive of religion or God.
    • Phil explains, "Science is what we have together. It has uniformity. We all can appreciate it as a shared experience. But not everything is determined ahead of time."
    • As long as our math includes infinity and the counting numbers, there always is room for things that can be believed but not proven. So even in meth there are things that are beyond proof. This suggests it's okay to believe more than we can prove! Wisdom suggests we believe more than we can prove to allow forward progress.
    • Religionists should accept what science has to offer and what is true (or have a good reason not to), and use that as a basis for interpreting the whole of reality.
    • [111:6.6]: "Science is the source of facts, and mind cannot operate without facts. They are the building blocks in the construction of wisdom which are cemented together by life experience. Man can find the love of God without facts, and man can discover the laws of God without love, but man can never begin to appreciate the infinite symmetry, the supernal harmony, the exquisite repleteness of the all-inclusive nature of the First Source and Center until he has found divine law and divine love and has experientially unified these in his own evolving cosmic philosophy."


  • Concerning Christian Churches and Urantia Book study groups
    • James explains a Sunday experience and a fellowship of fellow believers is meaningful.
    • Kermit had a relationship of some years with a local church, but they became very involved in social (outer life) issues.
    • Ann experiences a vibrancy in the 5th ER realm that seems absent in many churches—"dead bones walking around" sort of Biblical vibe. People in some form of real pain who only skim the surface of the religious experience, who have lost their vibrancy.
    • Ann knows a pastor who puts exquisite thought and reflection in his sermons, and yet when they are delivered so much of the congregation seems to not really be listening.
      • Many people are not active in their religion.
    • Phil reminds us that Urantia Book study groups also wrestle with the social interaction aspect. Study groups also often lack "vivacity and dynamism".
    • Christian churches also are evolving. Some are observed to be dropping "Jesus died for our sins" in favor of "Jesus resurrected" and focus on the afterlife.
    • Ann reports even listening in on other study groups (from archives or remotely by phone) is far superior to television. Each study group has its own dynamic.
      • And SoS is a virtual study group for serious students of the Urantia Book! (you can hear this phrase being coined in simple form here)
    • Reading the 5th ER alone yields results, but there are many other options listed at The Urantia Foundation.


  • The universe is a single whole. The parts are not wholly separated. We start with a whole universe, divide it into parts, and then re-aggregate those parts to arrive at an approximation of wholeness. Revelation helps us in this.