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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The importance of small-t truth

This quote from the Swiss mathematician Euler sums up my response to those who raise questions about whether it would be better, or if I would be more a effective polemicist, if I took more care to avoid those uncomfortable facts and dangerous truths that might cause someone, somewhere, to feel hurt or otherwise offended.  This is from the beginning of Defense of the Divine Revelation:
The perfection of understanding consists of the knowledge of truth, from which is simultaneously born the knowledge of good. The principal aim of this knowledge is God and His works, since all other truths to which reflection can lead mankind end with the Supreme Being and His works. For God is the truth, and the world is the work of His almightiness and His infinite wisdom. Thus, the more man learns to know God and His works, the further he will advance in the knowledge of the truth, which contributes just as much to the perfection of his understanding.

The greatest perfection of understanding consists, therefore, of a perfect knowledge of God and His works. But since such knowledge is infinite, no understanding of it is possible. Consequently, the sovereign perfection of understanding can only be attributed to a single God. Man, in his state, is only able to grasp this knowledge to a very small degree. However, with respect to this, there can be a very considerable difference that is based on the diversity of abilities to understand, so that one man might grasp much more of this knowledge than another....

The knowledge of truth is the necessary foundation for the knowledge of good. For a known truth is reputed to be good, insofar as it can contribute something to improve our condition; and since God is the source of all truth, it is also rightly so that God is named as the ultimate good. The knowledge of good presupposes the knowledge of truth, and thus, even if a man strives to guide his understanding to a greater degree of perfection, he acquires at the same time a more extensive and distinct knowledge of good. It is clear that the knowledge of evil is also included in this, for he who knows good knows how to distinguish it from evil.
This, I suspect, is why the Bible makes a particular point of declaring woe to those who declare good to be evil and evil to be good.  The more small-t truth a man understands, the greater his knowledge of both good and evil.  Therefore, the more truth a man possesses, the more he possesses the ability to do either good or evil; this is why we can simultaneously discern considerable truth in historical documents such as Mein Kampf and The State and Revolution while decrying the uses to which Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Ilyich Lenin put their superior understandings.

But neither attempting to ascertain the truth or providing evidence to establish it can ever be considered anything but good, because it is necessary in order for their to be knowledge of good.  To paraphrase what Euler points out, the knowledge of truth is a prerequisite for the knowledge of good.  We cannot know what is right, we cannot determine what action is correct, if we do not first distinguish what is false from what is true.

And we cannot expect to understand even that portion of the Truth of which we are capable of comprehending if we intentionally turn our backs on the truth, not even if we do so in the name of St. Diversity or general good will to men.

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176 Comments:

Anonymous DonReynolds July 28, 2013 9:13 AM  

This is not a trite remark, but it needs to be put into context. There have been times when TRUTH conflicted with church teaching with some very unfavorable outcomes for those bringing the TRUTH. To certain extent, this is still true, since the church does not agree that the truth is necessarily a good thing. Yes, the truth shall set you free.....but human freedom has never been the goal of the church.

Anonymous farmer Tom July 28, 2013 9:26 AM  

Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, spoke about truth,(multitudinousness times)

But His definitive statement about truth is here,

John 18:37

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”


And Pilate responds with a question that all of mankind needs to ask and find the answer to.

38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”



Anonymous Heh July 28, 2013 9:28 AM  

Last week that imbecile Trayvon juror was bemoaning the fact that they had to find Zimmerman innocent - due to the pesky constraints of "law" and "truth" and "evidence" (all clearly racist concepts) - when her feeeeeelings (and her imagined idea of what Trayvon's mother's feeeeeelings must be) cried out to convict Zimmerman.

Feeeeeelings do not always trump law and evidence... yet.

Blogger George Pal July 28, 2013 9:29 AM  

Then too, there is this:

"There is not a truth existing which I fear and would wish unknown to the whole world."

- Thomas Jefferson

Anonymous . July 28, 2013 9:30 AM  

the church does not agree that the truth is necessarily a good thing.

Did the Ninth Commandment get revoked when I wasn't paying attention?

Anonymous Anonymous July 28, 2013 9:41 AM  

I'm grateful that you don't wrap the truth up in pretty packaging. Ideas are so much easier to discover and grasp if they aren't covered in layers of BS. Also, being somewhat provocative is necessary in order to attract readers. If you tried to make things more palatable to people's delicate sensibilities, than many people would never take a second look.

Over the years I've learned that if something is making me emotional, offended, hurt, God is just trying to get my attention. There's something valuable there that I need to know. The lesson could be that this is something to avoid and reject or it could be that this is something I should embrace. Regardless, the emotional distress is simply a way of getting my attention.

Anonymous Gapeseed July 28, 2013 9:49 AM  

Vox - While you and Euler say that the knowledge of truth presupposes the knowledge of good, are you not undermining that point by using the examples of Hitler and Lenin? Or perhaps, as I understand your point, are you saying that the knowledge of great evil presupposes the knowledge of truth? Which then leads to an Uncle Ben moment, such that with great (knowledge of truth) comes great responsibility - i.e., those with the greatest capacity to perceive truth bear the greatest responsibility to use that capacity to pursue G-d's ends.

Which, boiling it down, means that if you pursue truth, be careful?

Blogger Old Harry July 28, 2013 9:54 AM  

When I was introduced to Euler's formula in linear systems class, it was done in a vacuum. No context for who Euler was, how he developed his formula or his views on what it signified were given. I looked at it and saw the fingerprint of God. Years later, I read that Euler's reaction was the same. By unifying trig functions, the whole numbers (0,1), the natural log function and the imaginary numbers, the formula shows me that there is design to the numerical backbone of the universe.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox and Euler July 28, 2013 10:03 AM  

Euler makes a somewhat obvious point. And that's fine. It's often necessary.

His mistake, however, is pointing to the Christian God as the source of all truth. Had he stopped at saying that "theism" is a reasonable way of explaining all truth or "naturalism" I'd think he understood.

In the end, he places his source of truth in a primitive, anthropomorphic christian god, a move as reasonable as placing the source of truth with the Greek, Hindu or Native American gods. What a shame.

All in all, it would have been much better for Euler and for Vox Day had they simply stopped with this: "The knowledge of truth is the necessary foundation for the knowledge of good. For a known truth is reputed to be good, insofar as it can contribute something to improve our condition."

Anonymous George of the Hole July 28, 2013 10:04 AM  

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox July 28, 2013 10:07 AM  

"those with the greatest capacity to perceive truth bear the greatest responsibility to use that capacity to pursue G-d's ends."

This is the wrong formulation, Sir. The correct formulation is:

"those with the greatest capacity to perceive truth bear the greatest responsibility to use that capacity to pursue contribute something to improve our condition."

Anonymous Dan in Tx July 28, 2013 10:11 AM  

Writers actually thinks he's blowing us away with his "improve our condition" line.

Anonymous George of the Hole July 28, 2013 10:13 AM  

Writers Gawking: All in all, it would have been much better for Euler and for Vox Day had they simply stopped with this: "The knowledge of truth is the necessary foundation for the knowledge of good. For a known truth is reputed to be good, insofar as it can contribute something to improve our condition."

Your "condition" is "dead in sin and transgression". There is no knowledge that will imrove your "condition". Only grace.




Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox and George July 28, 2013 10:20 AM  

"Your "condition" is "dead in sin and transgression". There is no knowledge that will imrove your "condition". Only grace."

So is yours, George. Just not with the God you favor.

Hey, I appreciate your devotion to a particular religion and citing scripture and all that. Devotion isn't always easy. I just find the leap from "Theism" is one reasonable response to the dead end of the Cosmological argument as is Naturalism to the idea of the christian god being the answer to be an extraordinarily primitive and self satisfying assumption that can't be sustained.

Anonymous Anonymous July 28, 2013 10:21 AM  

"All in all, it would have been much better for Euler and for Vox Day had they simply stopped with this: "The knowledge of truth is the necessary foundation for the knowledge of good. For a known truth is reputed to be good, insofar as it can contribute something to improve our condition."

Moving farther and farther away from God has not improved our condition. In fact, our improved condition is directly tied to moving closer to God's will. Naturally there are some Gawkers who dispute this and will now subject us all to several long and irrational posts where he amuses himself with his own cleverness.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 28, 2013 10:21 AM  

And thick and fast they came at last

The truth about the why the Lockerbie bomber was released and government behavior. Now I see why the British were keen to have Gaddafi killed.

Anonymous George of the Hole July 28, 2013 10:25 AM  

"improve our condition"

The subjective justification that has killed, maimed, and enslaved untold millions.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox July 28, 2013 10:31 AM  

"Moving farther and farther away from God has not improved our condition. In fact, our improved condition is directly tied to moving closer to God's will"

Another way of putting this is that the farther and farther away we move from a previous standard of morals and ethics has not improved our condition. In fact, our improved condition is directly tied to moving closer to this other set of morals and ethics.

Anonymous Dan in Tx July 28, 2013 10:31 AM  

The use of the term "our" implies that we share some sort of collective bond. If you are a believer through Christ then the collective bond that binds you together is Christ himself. If you do not believe in God then there is no bond and there is no "our". MY condition is improved if I shoot you in the face and take your money, since now I have more money then I did before. Your condition, not so much but make no mistake, there is no "our". I share no bond or obligations with you. It's simply the law of the jungle and to pretend that some sort of scientific enlightenment is going to change the reality of human nature is about as plausible as believing that same so called enlightenment will turn the color of the sun blue.

Anonymous George of the Hole July 28, 2013 10:38 AM  

...the christian god...an extraordinarily primitive and self satisfying assumption that can't be sustained.

Yes, of course. What we really need is a good "Five Year Plan". You know, to "improve our condition"

Lol!

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 10:44 AM  

All in all, it would have been much better for Euler and for Vox Day had they simply stopped with this: "The knowledge of truth is the necessary foundation for the knowledge of good. For a known truth is reputed to be good, insofar as it can contribute something to improve our condition."

Euler addressed your kind in this very paper, Gawker. It is one thing to ineptly criticize a pedestrian superintelligence like me, it is another to do the same to one of Man's greatest geniuses.

Blogger TontoBubbaGoldstein July 28, 2013 10:51 AM  

Did the Ninth Commandment get revoked when I wasn't paying attention?

It's a "living document".

What do you think, it's written in stone?

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox and Man's Greatest Geniuses July 28, 2013 10:51 AM  

"Euler addressed your kind in this very paper, Gawker. It is one thing to ineptly criticize a pedestrian superintelligence like me, it is another to do the same to one of Man's greatest geniuses."

Clever.

I get the gravitating toward theism or naturalism as the the place where one chooses to placed the uncaused cause. Each is equally valid, as are the middle grounds. But the jump from theism to "Christianity"? It's nothing more than a self satisfying move that speaks more to human fears and desires than to truths.

Anonymous George of the Hole July 28, 2013 11:00 AM  

But the jump from theism to "Christianity"?

Also addressed by Euler in the same paper.

Stunning how often the critics don't bother to read what they are criticising.

Anonymous Anonymous July 28, 2013 11:00 AM  

"...to pretend that some sort of scientific enlightenment is going to change the reality of human nature is about as plausible as believing that same so called enlightenment will turn the color of the sun blue."

Put that way it does sound rather silly and yet this seems to be a very seductive idea for many. I think some people start with "improve the human condition" and eventually arrive at "changing the reality of human nature" itself, which of course requires you to completely destroy it so it can be remade in your own image. I'm afraid we're halfway there already. It sounds a lot like the current political agenda in the US.

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 11:08 AM  

Stunning how often the critics don't bother to read what they are criticising.

As Euler wrote, they do not maintain the slightest rigor and they do not possess even the slightest taste for the truth.

Gawker may or may not be stupid. But he is observably both ignorant and a fool. He is ignorant because he does not know what he criticizes and he is a fool because only fools attempt to criticize things concerning which they know nothing.

Anonymous farmer Tom July 28, 2013 11:09 AM  

W Gacking,

You assert that tying truth to the Christian God, is a mistake(your word) then mention several other religious figures.


Unless you truth test those and other figures against Truth, you will always be wrong.

No assertion of mistakes can be true unless truth has been established. You claim Euler made a mistake while at the same time you do not know truth.

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 11:11 AM  

Note that I'm not saying Euler cannot be criticized, although I wouldn't dare to attempt to critique the man's math myself. But there is an obvious point of departure between his perspective and mine, and it is something I will explore in future posts.

In fact, this point of departure even renders my point here incorrect by Euler's lights. But I will not say more about it now, as it merits more consideration than I am prepared to provide today.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 11:13 AM  

The Devil is the father of lies, and it is no hyperbole that he is called "A liar and MURDERER" from the beginning.

Good can only be founded upon truth. The first question must always be "Is it true?". Even liars like those in the movie "An inconvenient truth" know they must at least put on the mask of truth.

Yet what of other inconvenient truths? Detroit is Zimbabwe on the straits between Lake St. Clair and Erie and is in dire straits. Why? No one wants to look for the truths - yes plural - and they are not hard to find. But instead of fixing the 99% of the obvious and glaring problems, they wish to focus on the 1% and cry racism, oppression, speculators. And there are a few, but they aren't the cause - they've been gored by a rhinoceros and blame the mosquitoes for their injuries.

As I wrote in another thread, truth has nothing to fear and can make a defense. Vox and Nate disagree, and there was a very informative debate. Vox and I disagree on many things, and I think we understand each other's points (it goes down to different axioms and postulates - geometry is different between Euclidean and non-Euclidean). But we both seek the truth, and most regular posters here do.

ESR recently posted something on his own encounter with thoughts of racism, which is worth a read, but contains this observation from Heinlein (how far SF has fallen) and his observation which says much the same thing about truth.

One of the many, many things I learned from Robert Heinlein is encapsulated in this quite [sic] from Assignment In Eternity: “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.” Most people, most of the time, construct theory to justify their gut feelings rather than actually reasoning from facts. If you do reliably reason from facts – and can continue reasoning even when you are angry, tired, upset, or feel threatened, then you are the homo novus of that story, and it is up to you to save the world for your less able human kin.

Man (and woman!) can be a rational animal. But that takes effort since the fall. The will determines if the intellect will serve the emotions or vice versa, if the forebrain will serve the limbic system or rule over it.

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 11:16 AM  

Writers... wrote: But the jump from theism to "Christianity"? It's nothing more than a self satisfying move that speaks more to human fears and desires than to truths.

Except, of course, that Jesus rose from the dead.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 11:18 AM  

Do not wonder that our democratic political systems reflect this. Even all the corruption that #Occupy complains about is there BECAUSE of the internal corruption of each individual. The organism is sick or healthy based first on the sickness or health of the individual cells. Washington DC and the state houses and the cities are perfectly representative of the citizenry - when each individual citizen wants a bail-out, wants to cheat, rob, get rewarded without deserving it, the elected microcosm in power does the same.

Solzhenitsyn: “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The heart, not the head, is the enemy of the truth.

And with both right and left - Democrats and Republicans - merely throwing unexamined talking points past each other, all have become enemies of the truth. For a single lie corrupts a hundred truths.

The Left fears poverty so sells their soul with full will and consent for robbery of the rich by proxy. The right similarly fears terrorism, so accepts full frontal nudity scanners, torture, extra-judicial killing, wholesale slaughter of noncombatants. Drugs, immigrants, whatever it is you fear, you can decide to do the right thing always, even if it seems hard or makes you vulnerable and trust all the promises in scripture that God upholds the righteous and is merciful to those who love him and try to keep his commandments even if imperfectly, or give yourself over to sin by trusting people to do evil on your behalf to keep you safe.

It will require you to reject the truth. To excuse something which is clearly a grave sin. Prostitutes and Tax Collectors (extortionists) went ahead because their sin was clear and obvious and hard to rationalize. Less so when we have to suffer inconvenience, much less martyrdom for defending the truth.

I have to laugh. One of the objections to IQ tests for minorities many many years ago was the question "It is always wrong to steal". The answer is yes. If you want to get philosophical, there are occasions of double-effect (a locked cabin in a blizzard where the evil isn't intended), but that recognizes it is wrong but sometimes there is no choice to do unintended petty evil to avoid a grave evil (loss of life). But when the government is the Robin-Hood robber? (Not for defense or courts or such, but to rob from the rich to give to the poor). Uncharity is a sin, but we have sinned ourselves by turning it into a crime.

Anonymous Gapeseed July 28, 2013 11:21 AM  

"those with the greatest capacity to perceive truth bear the greatest responsibility to use that capacity to pursue G-d's ends."

This is the wrong formulation, Sir. The correct formulation is:

"those with the greatest capacity to perceive truth bear the greatest responsibility to use that capacity to pursue contribute something to improve our condition."


Sorry, Gawker, I got it right the first time.

Anonymous Orville July 28, 2013 11:24 AM  

Human history shows, and biblical truth tells that the human condition cannot be "improved". At best it can be preserved or salted against decay. If one believes the bible that Christ will physically return and rule the whole earth in justice and righteousness, the end result is still decay and rebellion.

Therefore, the more truth a man possesses, the more he possesses the ability to do either good or evil;. To paraphrase Paul, the purpose of truth whether written in the Mosaic law or in the conscience of our hearts, is to bring us to awareness of our lost condition, which is a necessary first step in repentance and acceptance of God's grace and sacrifice for us.

Which brings me back to the first paragraph...one should run from any churchian who wishes to improve you or society. They are no better than Marx or Hitler, and left to their devices will kill as many or more.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 28, 2013 11:32 AM  

What appears to be a translation is available here for those who wish to criticize it with more knowledge.

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 11:37 AM  

one should run from any churchian who wishes to improve you or society.

See: the "diversity is what God wants" crowd.

Blogger IM2L844 July 28, 2013 11:41 AM  

As Euler wrote, they do not maintain the slightest rigor and they do not possess even the slightest taste for the truth.

And as Pascal, another genius, making the same point, wrote:

"We know well enough how those who are of this mind behave. They believe they have made great efforts for their instruction when they have spent a few hours in reading some book of Scripture and have questioned some priests on the truths of the faith. After that, they boast of having made vain search in books and among men. But, verily, I will tell them what I have often said, that this negligence is insufferable. We are not here concerned with the trifling interests of some stranger, that we should treat it in this fashion; the matter concerns ourselves and our all."

Anonymous Stickwick July 28, 2013 11:42 AM  

When I was introduced to Euler's formula in linear systems class, it was done in a vacuum. No context for who Euler was, how he developed his formula or his views on what it signified were given.

Math and science ought to be taught concurrently with history. The context of the great developments in modern math and science is not only fascinating in its own right, but important in terms of understanding how Christian influence has shaped them. This is the reason a lot of people have the faulty perception of math/science proceeding in a cultural void, somehow "pure" and causally disconnected from the dominant worldview of the places in which the developments occurred. It's also the reason far too many Christians have a misplaced fear of science. As you said, the fingerprint of God is there, and many of the greatest residents of the hallowed halls of knowledge saw it, though you wouldn't know that from a casual exposure to science -- or, as is far too often the case, even a rigorous one.

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 11:42 AM  

Vox wrote: See: the "diversity is what God wants" crowd.

God does want diversity. See Revelation 5:9. God also wants unity. See Revelation 5:9.

Uniformity without diversity results in stagnation. Diversity without uniformity results in anarchy.
Totalitarians are just as misguided as anarchists.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 28, 2013 11:47 AM  

One of the many, many things I learned from Robert Heinlein is encapsulated in this quite [sic] from Assignment In Eternity: “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”

I have lately come to that conclusion. People want explanations, but since MPAI, very few want accurate explanations.

It is interesting to see that Heinlein knew this.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 28, 2013 11:49 AM  

By unifying trig functions, the whole numbers (0,1), the natural log function and the imaginary numbers, the formula shows me that there is design to the numerical backbone of the universe.

Is this not just an early example of the anthropic principle?

Anonymous Orville July 28, 2013 11:52 AM  

Depends on whose definition of "diversity" you use. Obviously God delights in diversity as displayed in His creation, but the world uses "diversity" to mean the acceptance of every sinful kink or lie. I don't despise a man because of the color of his skin, but I do despise a damaged and infected culture that resulted from a rejection of truth.

Anonymous TheVillageIdiotRet July 28, 2013 11:52 AM  

Throughout the Millenniums,
Man has worship the Creator God
that he finds in nature and in the universe.

The APEheist worship their Ape god,
That they find in every mirror.

(Some creatures should never be given a mirror)

DannyR

Anonymous The other skeptic July 28, 2013 12:24 PM  

As you said, the fingerprint of God is there, and many of the greatest residents of the hallowed halls of knowledge saw it, though you wouldn't know that from a casual exposure to science -- or, as is far too often the case, even a rigorous one.

Surely, the most important question, from a scientific perspective, is: What test can we devise to distinguish between a caused Universe vs an uncaused Universe.

In the absence of such a test, we are merely speculating and any adherence to a position one way or another must be done on the basis of faith, at least it seems so to me.

A subsidiary question is: Given that we are embedded inside this Universe that some say was caused by an agent (who some call God) and others say was uncaused, are we in a position to examine the question scientifically?

Anonymous Anonymous July 28, 2013 12:32 PM  

"I don't despise a man because of the color of his skin, but I do despise a damaged and infected culture that resulted from a rejection of truth."

Diversity indeed:

CLEVELAND -- Texas right-hander Tanner Scheppers received a bruised left eye Thursday night after being attacked by a group of young men a few blocks from the team hotel.

"It's one of those things ... I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Scheppers told MLB.com before Saturday night's game against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. "It happened so quickly. The police were called. They said unfortunately this happened quite a bit."

God my love diversity, but I sure as hell don't.

- Sambo

Anonymous Stickwick July 28, 2013 12:36 PM  

Surely, the most important question, from a scientific perspective, is: What test can we devise to distinguish between a caused Universe vs an uncaused Universe.

The test has already been done. If you accept the prevailing paradigm of physics -- that of big bang cosmology -- then you must accept that the universe has a cause. The most important question is whether that cause is conscious or unconscious. The only serious contenders are God and the multiverse, respectively. Can we distinguish between the two on the basis of evidence within this Universe? I think, to a degree of confidence acceptable to most people, we can, but not conclusively.

Blogger Markku July 28, 2013 12:36 PM  

Vox - While you and Euler say that the knowledge of truth presupposes the knowledge of good, are you not undermining that point by using the examples of Hitler and Lenin?

It's the exact other way around. He said that truth is a necessary foundation to the knowledge of good, not sufficient. In other words, you cannot have knowledge of good without knowledge of truth, but you can have knowledge of truth without knowledge of good.

Blogger Hacked acctount 2018/19? hcaacked! July 28, 2013 12:36 PM  

Great post, I find it semi applicable to the SFWA issue.

In my non web musings, the summer has been pleasant yet painful as I have tossed out the trash that would ruin another summer. Anyways, a attitude or meme seems to have arisen, like some sort of banner, I don't know. But PS 1 still stands, the light is still worth walking into. Truth is honor and honor is truth.

Blogger Hacked acctount 2018/19? hcaacked! July 28, 2013 12:44 PM  

The rejection of truth has saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars via people who seek to fib, lie, circumvent my efforts. By the mere stroke of the pen I can place them at bay but their unwillingness to hear and believe the truth, thus stop their absurdities leaves me in stitches. When the truth is rejected, every wrong headed, asinine, boomer senility takes over. To which I say, nein or no, ain't gonna do this and that, nein to that and nein to this, nein to being lied to.

I still say that God or angels or whomever is laughing along with me when I say no to the latest exploits. The humor never ends.

Of course, Vox's post has nothing to do with humor or mockery, its just a personal thing, last week a couple liars threw fits of rage when I did nothing more than tell them the truth, tell them they will not have access to money that is NOT theirs. And all anyone can do is laugh.

Blogger Hacked acctount 2018/19? hcaacked! July 28, 2013 12:46 PM  

One last comment and I'm done but do not critics understand that V is an AWCA?

"Stunning how often the critics don't bother to read what they are criticising."

VD: As Euler wrote, they do not maintain the slightest rigor and they do not possess even the slightest taste for the truth.

LP: Nein, they don't live in reality so truth isn't an interest to them to begin with.

Anonymous E. PERLINE July 28, 2013 12:48 PM  

The Reasoning Brain was programmed only 160,000 years ago. It is much better at determining what the truth is than the Reptilian Brain.

The Reptilian Brain reacts to things in a primitive way but the Reasoning Brain figures them out, if it is allowed to. Here is what happens if it is not allowed to-

The Reasoning Brain knows the truth, but if we tell lies, we are not giving others the information they need to survive. Our conscience know this even though we act outwardly innocent.

If we try to fool ourselves, our immune system gets confused and we get cancer.

Blogger Markku July 28, 2013 12:51 PM  

It would be fun to see someone's reaction to responding to something with great pathos, "You're a liar, and you get cancer."

Anonymous E. PERLINE July 28, 2013 12:55 PM  

Good observation, Markku. We get cancer because our immune system is stressed and nothing will distress it more than living a lie.

Anonymous Anonymous July 28, 2013 1:19 PM  

"What test can we devise to distinguish between a caused Universe vs an uncaused Universe..."

My test is stupid people and what I have observed of human behavior. Unless we randomly evolved about 50 years ago, there must be Divine Intervention keeping us going. Seriously, no creature this willfully ignorant could have made it without Divine Intervention and Divine Favor. I'm surprised we even figured out how to reproduce.

I'm only halfway joking. I was once bemoaning the existence of stupid people and somebody wise told me, "they were put here to help you have faith in God." He was right, like everything else in the universe, they serve a purpose.

Anonymous The other skeptic July 28, 2013 1:40 PM  

The test has already been done. If you accept the prevailing paradigm of physics -- that of big bang cosmology -- then you must accept that the universe has a cause.

Short of playing semantic games with the words cause and start, that would seem to be the case.

However, all of science seems provisional in the sense that as new evidence comes along, scientific theories are revised or even overturned.

Having just refreshed my understanding of certain subjects I do understand how thermodynamics seems to preclude a continuously cycling universe, for example.

However, William Thompson once calculated the age of the sun and got it wrong. What I am saying here is how confident can we be that we know enough to even say that the science is settled?

The most important question is whether that cause is conscious or unconscious. The only serious contenders are God and the multiverse, respectively. Can we distinguish between the two on the basis of evidence within this Universe? I think, to a degree of confidence acceptable to most people, we can, but not conclusively.

Can you suggest tests we can make to distinguish between those two?

Blogger Unknown July 28, 2013 2:10 PM  

(Same Myrddin as Myrddin)

"Surely, the most important question, from a scientific perspective, is: What test can we devise to distinguish between a caused Universe vs an uncaused Universe."

No physical test that I know of. There are historical tests, philosophical tests, and statistical tests.

Science is properly concerned with the regular operation physical reality. Anything that is necessarily outside of the regular operation physical reality is, ipso facto, outside the realm of science.

Until we can create a universe in the lab, the creation of universes is a historical rather than scientific matter.

"In the absence of such a test, we are merely speculating and any adherence to a position one way or another must be done on the basis of faith, at least it seems so to me."

No more than any other non-scientific position. Politics and History come to mind. But even the validity of Science must be accepted on faith: faith that those doing the science are accurately reporting their processes and the results.


"A subsidiary question is: Given that we are embedded inside this Universe that some say was caused by an agent (who some call God) and others say was uncaused, are we in a position to examine the question scientifically?"


A question I have already addressed.

[In response to Stickwick] "However, all of science seems provisional in the sense that as new evidence comes along, scientific theories are revised or even overturned."

One must make one's decisions with the best information one has at the time.

"The most important question is whether that cause is conscious or unconscious. The only serious contenders are God and the multiverse, respectively. Can we distinguish between the two on the basis of evidence within this Universe? I think, to a degree of confidence acceptable to most people, we can, but not conclusively."

"Can you suggest tests we can make to distinguish between those two?"


Sure. I write computer games. If chance and physics are sufficient to produce organisms that can write computer games without a conscious and intelligent agent behind them, then it stands to reason that I should be able to write a pretty good computer game simply by bashing my head against the keyboard.

I leave this as an exercise for the reader.

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 2:18 PM  

The other skeptic asked: Can you suggest tests we can make to distinguish between those two?

Probably not. Because you're asking how to infallibly differentiate between chance and purpose. If one improbable thing happens, then it's chance. If one hundred, or one million, or one trillion improbable things happen, is it chance or purpose? We anthropomorphize it and say, "purpose"; but highly improbable things do happen. Where's the dividing line?

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 2:24 PM  

Emrys Myrddin wrote: then it stands to reason that I should be able to write a pretty good computer game simply by bashing my head against the keyboard.

Given enough time, you could. However, note that the criteria "pretty good" is purely subjective. You might need a first-person shoot-em-up game before you'll pronounce it "pretty good". A cat might think a blinking light is "pretty good".

Blogger Unknown July 28, 2013 2:56 PM  

"Given enough time, you could. However, note that the criteria "pretty good" is purely subjective. You might need a first-person shoot-em-up game before you'll pronounce it "pretty good". A cat might think a blinking light is "pretty good"."

Get back to me when someone has done it.

Perl doesn't count. Someone actually thought that code out, even if it doesn't look like it.

Blogger Weouro July 28, 2013 3:08 PM  

A funny corollary to MPAI is that idiots are always running around accusing other people of being idiots. The stoogification of the human race.


" In other words, you cannot have knowledge of good without knowledge of truth, but you can have knowledge of truth without knowledge of good."

I memorized this passage from Aquinas a long time ago. I'm glad to be able to finally pull it out: "Because the good and the true are really convertible, it follows that the good is pursued by the intellect as something true, while the true is desired by the will as something good."
I don't think you can know truth without knowing good or vice versa and you can't desire good without desiring truth. It's a single package.

Blogger Old Harry July 28, 2013 3:09 PM  

@the other sceptic:your question regarding the anthropogenic principal can branch off into several directions. If mathematics has been developed/created by humans as opposed to something in nature that we have discovered, then it could follow that yes, those of us who see the Creator's hand in Euler's formula are guilty of reading something that isn't there like someone who claims to have encountered an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a piece of buttered toast.
I think we didn't created or invent mathematics, but we are discovering the already existing backbone of reality. The whole numbers are self evident. Other things like calculus and in turn Newton's laws of motion show that math predicts the behavior of things in the natural world. The imaginary numbers were merely a curiosity at the time of Euler, but are required to understand the things that are critical to modern society: AC power, control systems and wireless communications. IMHO, there is no reason to expect something created by humans to be able to do that.

Anonymous civilServant July 28, 2013 3:15 PM  

However, with respect to this, there can be a very considerable difference that is based on the diversity of abilities to understand, so that one man might grasp much more of this knowledge than another....

Would one accede that there is a diversity not only in ability to understand but in components understood?

Blogger Weouro July 28, 2013 3:26 PM  

"The perfection of understanding consists of the knowledge of truth, from which is simultaneously born the knowledge of good."

Just reread the quote from the OP, so Euler and St. Thomas agree. That's a good sign.

Blogger Weouro July 28, 2013 3:30 PM  

"The perfection of understanding consists of the knowledge of truth, from which is simultaneously born the knowledge of good."

Just reread the quote from the OP, so Euler and St. Thomas agree. That's a good sign.

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 3:36 PM  

Would one accede that there is a diversity not only in ability to understand but in components understood?

Yes, without question.

Anonymous civilServant July 28, 2013 3:50 PM  

Would one accede that there is a diversity not only in ability to understand but in components understood?

Yes, without question.


Would one accede that two groups each understanding different components may appear illogical or perhaps outright false to the other?

I have recently finished the book "1453" by Crowley describing the seige and fall of Constantinople. May I recommend it. He describes the schism between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic as being based on differing conceptions of the Holy Spirit - the Romans held that It emmanated from both the Father and the Son while the Orthodox held that It emmanated from the Father only. This variance in view was held to be excommunicable and had military and cultural consequences. As a third party observing from a distance I can only wonder why anyone cared about such a matter at all let alone cared so much.

Would one describe either the Romans or the Orthodox or me as "intentionally turning back on the truth"?

Blogger Weouro July 28, 2013 3:50 PM  

I wonder if Euler would have said, "The perfection of love consists of the desire for good, from which is simultaneously born the desire for truth."

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 4:06 PM  

Would one accede that two groups each understanding different components may appear illogical or perhaps outright false to the other?

It is possible by extension. It would make more sense to say two individuals rather than two groups, since what Euler is describing cannot be applied to groups. Groups do not have a distinct "understanding" or "will".

Would one describe either the Romans or the Orthodox or me as "intentionally turning back on the truth"?

I would not, at least concerning the matter to which you refer. But again, what Euler is describing cannot be applied directly to groups, only the individuals within those groups.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox July 28, 2013 4:31 PM  

"You assert that tying truth to the Christian God, is a mistake(your word) then mention several other religious figures.

Unless you truth test those and other figures against Truth, you will always be wrong. "

It's merely a matter of noting that no matter which god once chooses to use to soothe their fears and fondle their desires in trying to move from assigning theism as the un-caused cause to assigning the un-caused cause to a specif religion is equally unsubstantiated.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox July 28, 2013 4:33 PM  

"Writers... wrote: But the jump from theism to "Christianity"? It's nothing more than a self satisfying move that speaks more to human fears and desires than to truths.

Except, of course, that Jesus rose from the dead."

So I've read. Have you read of the magic powers of Zeus?

Anonymous E. PERLINE July 28, 2013 4:37 PM  

So we don't know how the universe began. When we ask questions of our fellow nortals they begin to read us their fables. Heaven help you if your fable is different from mine.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox July 28, 2013 4:37 PM  

"The test has already been done. If you accept the prevailing paradigm of physics -- that of big bang cosmology -- then you must accept that the universe has a cause. The most important question is whether that cause is conscious or unconscious. The only serious contenders are God and the multiverse, respectively."

Actually, the uncaused particle is equally likely to a god or multiverse. In the end, it's all a matter of finding a way to end the regress. You can choose a theistic ending or a natural ending. Neither has the rational edge. However, the theistic choice has the benefit of lending itself to anthropomorphizing the punt into something we are better able to understand and something that helps soothe our fears and bump up against our desires.

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 5:05 PM  

Writers... wrote: So I've read. Have you read of the magic powers of Zeus?

Of course I have. I'm familiar with the "Christianity was influenced by..." attempts to discredit Christianity.

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 5:25 PM  

Emrys Myrddin wrote: Get back to me when someone has done it.

I'd have to search the literature; I assume you can google as well as I can. Genetic algorithms have already demonstrated their creative ability. Since it isn't my speciality, I don't know whether a genetic algorithm would be better suited towards creating a game directly, or indirectly by creating the biological entity that can create games.

Anonymous farmer Tom July 28, 2013 5:29 PM  

Is there some place I can go to read the eyewitness accounts and historically accurate record of this Zeus character?

Blogger IM2L844 July 28, 2013 5:38 PM  

It's nothing more than a self satisfying move that speaks more to human fears and desires than to truths.

-----

...no matter which god once chooses to use to soothe their fears and fondle their desires

-----

...something that helps soothe our fears and bump up against our desires.

-----


WGAV, you've already said this exact same idiotic thing too many times to count. It's becoming extremely tedious. That you don't comprehend how stupendously absurd that sentiment is tells me everything I need to know about the depth of your understanding on the matter. If that is going to be your go-to contribution to every one of these discussions, do us all a favor; scurry along and annoy someone else with your simple-minded pointless rubbish for a while.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 5:51 PM  

Would one describe either the Romans or the Orthodox or me as "intentionally turning back on the truth"?

Neither need intentionally turning their backs on the truth, but the Pope and Patriarch did - one or the other - and their followers might be unable to tell which one took the wrong turn.

Anger and lesser emotions make things less "intentional" but the damage no less severe. The mutual excommunication extends to this day. The Pope Emeritus said the church "needs to breathe with both lungs". I would note Francis has only one lung. One can hope, pray, and even fast for a reconciliation.

I would hope for such - I'm RC, but have an orthodox Bishop(!) in my building - valid sacraments, successor of the apostles (probably Thomas from which "t" derives).

I weep (yes, literally) over the division and pray for reconciliation.

I hope that grace will grease (oiler - Eüler) the skids.

one should run from any churchian who wishes to improve you or society.

VD: See: the "diversity is what God wants" crowd.

One should rather run from one who does not even attempt to divert one who is on the path to hell. The 1st reading was about Abraham pleading if 10 innocent were to be found in Sodom and Ghomorrah...

God created the "diversity", but the fall means all are fallen, and "diversity" or "vibrancy" cannot be used to defend even the most trivial evil.

Let those who disagree with the Ilk and Vox find God and become righteous and embarrass all those here with their works of righteousness and their faith. I could pray for no better result. Instead they seem to prefer to cry nonsense from the depths of hell. One can only pull someone "up" if they are already higher.

Those who take the gospel seriously should ALWAYS attempt to admonish sinners (but remember that they too are equally sinners), but do so in charity and with words, not guns.

Both the right and left and other haters of truth and righteousness try to have Caesar use violence against sinners.

Anonymous Anonymous July 28, 2013 5:52 PM  

Does that other set of morals and ethics involve selling defective products to men such as "modern american marriage"?

R7Rocket

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 6:02 PM  

Note: Scalzi in his Regency dress and the warren of gamma rabbits might burn in Gehenna forever and ever, but I expect they would be happier doing that there than in heaven. I'm called to reach them, but like the first "Chinese Brother", someone runs away toward danger rather than salvation. You cannot reach someone who will actively fight being saved. You can only fast and pray and leave it to God to reach them. But his mercy endures forever.

I can only think of the scene from C. S. Lewis "The Great Divorce" when after confronted by a great Saint in the form of his wife, the man is consumed by his puppet.

Anonymous VD July 28, 2013 6:09 PM  

Actually, the uncaused particle is equally likely to a god or multiverse.

And so we see how the goalposts have moved since Euler's time. Seriously, why do you continue to engage in these discussions when you quite clearly don't know the material being discussed?

But it really doesn't matter. You'll be proved wrong in time, just as your predecessors were. Science isn't ultimately on your side.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 6:11 PM  

Another way of putting this is that the farther and farther away we move from a previous standard of morals and ethics * has not improved our condition. In fact, our improved condition is directly tied to moving closer to this other set of morals and ethics.

I assume there is a missing "that" at the "*".

This assumes that:

1. our condition has improved - given out-of-wedlock births, debt, etc. - see Detroit as your "other set of morals" Utopia. Unless you have a standard, you cannot tell if you are going up or down, so "Improved" has to be relative so some specific measure.

2. That the improvement is not "short term" (See Vox's very prescient view on short v.s. long term "time preferences"). Eating not only the harvest but the seed corn for next year might fill you up at the moment, but you will die of starvation next year.

3. You avoid stating the details of the "standard of morals and ethics", either old or new, but why do I get the feeling that the old is the tradition of the Natural Law (Confucius, Torah, Christianity), and the new is what was practiced by Stalin and Mao?

CS Lewis noted that the most progressive thing to do when you are wrong is a U-turn.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 6:22 PM  

If you accept a "Multiverse", then it is merely recursive. Either there are an infinite number of multiverses going to infinity, or one infinite God.

(This blog deserves a better class of troll)

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 6:28 PM  

@farmer Is there some place I can go to read the eyewitness accounts and historically accurate record of this Zeus character?

Mary Shelly's (female!) Frankenstein. Lightning, and bolts (in the neck). I think the good Dr. was nuts, and he ended up screwed, but need to review the text if the bolts were screwed to the internal nuts. The neck seems far to high, one would think the pelvic area...

Anonymous Stickwick July 28, 2013 6:39 PM  

Can you suggest tests we can make to distinguish between those two?

There's a chain of reasoning along with physical evidence that we can use to determine which is more likely. It's a rather long and involved list, but I'll mention a few key pieces of reasoning and evidence that personally convinced me that a conscious creative force is more likely to be true than the multiverse, and that, furthermore, we can identify the conscious creative force as the God of the Bible.

- The universe is not eternal, therefore it had a cause. Nothing in nature is its own cause, therefore the cause must be "outside" of the universe. Therefore, the supernatural exists (super- meaning "above" and -natural meaning "the universe"). This is now totally noncontroversial in science.

- There are only two options on the table for a supernatural cause: a conscious creative force (e.g. God) or an unconscious creative force (e.g. multiverse). Which is more likely to be true?

- Multiverse is, by definition, causally disconnected from our universe, which means we cannot observe or interact with it; there is no evidence for it. There are also some rather profound logical problems with the multiverse that make it unlikely to be true.

- Is the cause more likely to be a conscious creative force? If so, who/what is it? For the purposes of this discussion, we can refer to such a force as a god. But which god? We can reasonably rule out the gods of religions that hold to a belief in a cyclical universe, since there's no evidence that ours is a cyclical universe. I would appreciate correction if I'm wrong on the following point, but I'm pretty sure that what remain are only the Abrahamic religions and their offshoots. So let's start there. For those of us who grew up in the West, the Creator God of the Old Testament seems a reasonable place to start looking for evidence. At this point, this includes all of the Abrahamic religions, as well as their offshoots, like B'aha'i, since, to my knowledge, they all broadly endorse the Genesis story.

- Is the Genesis story consistent with what we know of nature? This is a major topic in and of itself, but suffice it to say that through considerable study, I determined that Genesis is entirely consistent with what we know of nature through modern science. In fact, it's so remarkably consistent that there is virtually no chance Genesis was just made up by some Bronze Age author. It was either given to Moses by extraterrestrials who minimally possessed the equivalent of 21st century scientific understanding or by a divine entity. While I can't conclusively rule out the former, we don't have any historical account or evidence of such an event taking place. Genesis is as true as we can judge it to be based on the scientific evidence we currently have.

- In terms of reason and evidence, the God hypothesis is superior to the multiverse hypothesis.

I can flesh this out a bit more later, but I'm late for a D&D engagement with some friends and gotta run.

Blogger IM2L844 July 28, 2013 7:19 PM  

I can flesh this out a bit more later...

I, for one, would enjoy that. Maybe you could email it to our host and see if he would give it it's own thread.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 7:35 PM  

The most important question is whether that cause is conscious or unconscious. The only serious contenders are God and the multiverse, respectively. Can we distinguish between the two on the basis of evidence within this Universe? I think, to a degree of confidence acceptable to most people, we can, but not conclusively.<

Can you suggest tests we can make to distinguish between those two?


You can start with Occam's razor. Is it more reasonable that an intelligence willed it or that something complex "just happened"?

Is the cause more likely to be a conscious creative force? If so, who/what is it?

The first question is reasonable and proper, the second isn't, at least except for speculation. You see a body broken having jumped off a tall building. Accident or intent? is reasonable. As is jumped or pushed.

I've speculated before that an intelligence we cannot perceive (maybe because it takes several centuries to pronounce one syllable. Amoral, but creationist. And NOT a multiverse.

There are only two options on the table for a supernatural cause: a conscious creative force (e.g. God) or an unconscious creative force (e.g. multiverse). Which is more likely to be true?

Your table is too small. Limiting options (as I've shown) creates false alternatives. There are an infinite number.

Multiverse is, by definition, causally disconnected from our universe, , but then there's recursion. Who created, organized, etc. the "multiverse".

The universe is not eternal, therefore it had a cause.

This assumes whatever theory which says the universe is not-eternal is true (I have a book on plasma that promotes steady-state and contradicts no data as of it's writing).

Is the Genesis story consistent with what we know of nature? , yes, if you allow the benefit of the doubt and interpretation for both.

I would finally note the "God as Creator" and "God as involved moral agent" hypotheses are distinct and separate.

An engineer might care his bridge doesn't collapse but doesn't care if the bolts and cables are happy and fulfilled.

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 7:36 PM  

I can flesh this out a bit more later,

Oooooh, the pleasures of the flesh...

Blogger tz July 28, 2013 7:44 PM  

Pournelle is elder Vox

I wish I could make this stuff up. Then I can make it go away.

Maybe we should just put padding on all the public walls and require straitjackets in public.

What does the SFWA have to say?

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 8:37 PM  

tz wrote: You can start with Occam's razor. Is it more reasonable that an intelligence willed it or that something complex "just happened"?

But you can't use the razor, because you don't know that both alternatives have equal explanatory power. Furthermore, why do you think the universe has to use the razor? Is that something you're assuming as true without proof?

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 8:39 PM  

tz wrote: The first question is reasonable and proper, the second isn't, at least except for speculation.

Assumes facts not in evidence. Just like your (possibly uncritical) acceptance of Occam's razor, it appears you're assuming that a "conscious creative force" wouldn't communicate with the creation.

Blogger wrf3 July 28, 2013 8:42 PM  

tz wrote: An engineer might care his bridge doesn't collapse but doesn't care if the bolts and cables are happy and fulfilled.

Improper analogy. Bots and cables aren't self-aware agents with the knowledge of good and evil. Forget what Genesis says about the creation of the universe: what Genesis says about is not only spot on, it was independently confirmed by an atheist professor of computer science. But I don't think he recognized the importance of what he wrote.

Blogger WATYF July 28, 2013 9:38 PM  

Except, of course, that Jesus rose from the dead."

So I've read. Have you read of the magic powers of Zeus?


Gawk just compared the historical support for Jesus' resurrection to the historical support for Zues' powers ...and he did so without irony or shame.

That's the kind of mind you're dealing with. Just keep that in mind if you choose to engage. :^D

WATYF

Anonymous Luke July 28, 2013 9:40 PM  

Somewhat related: multiple domestic violence advocacy groups (i.e, all-harpie-mode feminists) claim a man using logic in talking with his SO is abuse:

http://www.shrink4men.com/2011/10/18/an-immodest-proposal-domestic-violence-groups-claim-the-use-of-logic-by-men-is-abuse/

An Immodest Proposal: Domestic Violence Groups Claim the Use of Logic by Men is Abuse

By Dr. Tara Palmatier October 18, 2011

"They also claim that viewing pornography is abuse, but I’ll get to that later. Where to begin, where to begin. . .

Men Stopping Violence (MSV) is a domestic violence organization based in Decatur, Georgia that claims to be “a social change organization dedicated to ending men’s violence against women.” Of course, nowhere on the MSV website do they acknowledge that women are the perpetrators in approximately 50% of all abuse cases. Nor do they acknowledge that women are more likely to be the initiators of violence in relationships where there is bidirectional abuse, but, hey, sexist and discriminatory is as sexist and discriminatory does.

MSV is also competing for their fair share of the 4 billion plus dollars of federal and state monies spent annually on women’s domestic violence resources, so a little obfuscation of the facts is in order.

Whoopsy! According to the MSV Violent and Controlling Behaviors Checklist, I just abused them. You see, one of the items on this list cites the following as a form of abuse:

Claiming “the truth,” being the authority, defining her behavior, using “logic.”

This reminds me of one of my clients’ wives, who, when confronted with the facts about her abusive behaviors when she attempts to rewrite history, occasionally wails, “The truth is mean!” — about her own behavior no less.

I suppose asking (or begging) someone who muddles her way through life using intractable and convoluted emotional reasoning to focus on the facts may feel like torture to the emotional reasoner, but I disagree. It’s is far more abusive to gaslight and browbeat your partner into submitting to one’s distorted unreality and non-stop feeling states that often have very little to do with reality. Respectfully asking an emotional reasoner to develop and use critical thinking skills is a noble, if not futile, enterprise. It certainly isn’t abusive.

Although, I can see how a man, at the end of his rope after years of emotional abuse who snaps and shouts, “Use your brain, not your feelings, you stupid fool!” might be considered “abuse,” at least upon superficial observation. However, after years of being gaslighted and and having reality twisted and turned around on you, it’s actually a pretty understandable response to being abused.

“Not fair! He’s smarter than me! He makes meeeeeeee feeeeeeeeeeel stupid and irrational when he gets all logical! You think you’re so smart, don’t you?! Quit trying to impose the facts on me! Abuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse!” "

Anonymous Luke July 28, 2013 9:58 PM  

(Cont.)

"Not true. This type of woman usually doesn’t require assistance from anyone to appear ignorant and irrational. While an argument between an emotional reasoner and someone capable of logic and reason may not be a fair fight, it’s certainly not abuse.

Now, about that pornography thingy. If a man viewing pornography is abuse, then a woman viewing reality television programs like The Real Housewives of ———– and The Bachelor should also be considered abuse. After all, isn’t reality TV really just porno for high-conflict people, particularly female high-conflict people?

It’s been my experience that the women who withhold sex and affection and who see relationships as transactional, are typically the ones who insist that men looking at porn is abusive. It’s usually the same women who become enraged and feeeel “hurt” if their husbands masturbate. God forbid the men in their lives have a moment’s release, even if it’s only for 10 minutes a couple of times a week in the shower. Broken men with no sexual outlets are easier to control, you see.

Viewing pornography is not abuse. If the man is not forcing his wife to participate, who cares? If he’s not doing it for hours at a time throughout the week, who cares? And, if he is using porn that frequently, cannot stop and needs to look at porn in order to become aroused, then it’s more likely he has an addiction problem rather than an abuse problem.

Seems to me that a woman who tries to control her partner’s masturbatory activities is the one with the control and abuse problem and not the other way round.

I’d like to say the assertion that the use of logic during an argument is abuse by MSV is an attempt at Swiftian satire, but MSV isn’t engaging in satire. They’re serious. And so is EMERGE, another domestic violence group based in Boston, Massachusetts, upon whom MSV claims to have based their checklist.

Using the “logic” set forth by MSV and EMERGE, I suppose judges, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists are all abusers as are scientists and other logic-based professionals. What’s next?

Will MSV and other forward thinking domestic violence groups claim that a woman who bruises her knuckles while beating the crap out of her husband is being abused? Just how much further down the rabbit hole are we going to let these groups go?

Domestic violence groups and shelters who perpetuate this kind of nonsense and who only serve female domestic violence victims and discriminate against men and boys should lose their federal and state funding. I for one don’t want my tax dollars spent on willful ignorance, dishonesty and blatant sexism and discrimination."

Anonymous Myrddin July 28, 2013 10:23 PM  

A genetic algorithm is a process designed and implemented by an intelligent agent for the purpose of generating meaningful content. Hence it differs from head-bashing your keyboard, which was the test that I proposed for the purpose of generating purely arbitrary content to see if meaning would ever arise.

Genetic algorithms are fun, and I have lost days of my life to playing with them, but they test whether programs can generate programs. I was testing, instead, whether collisions can generate programs, which I fancy is a more accurate modeling of the question I was addressing.

One might argue that the multiverse theory implies a system that inherently tends towards patterns, like a vast implementation of Conway's game of life.

Perhaps Stickwick can help you there. At that point I am out of my depth. Possibly beyond my maximum possible depth. Thus, I happily bow out.

Anonymous blume July 28, 2013 11:00 PM  

Augustine tells christians that when evidence conflicts with belief you should change your beliefs to reflect the truth of the facts.

Blogger WarKicker July 29, 2013 12:05 AM  

"Actually, the uncaused particle is equally likely to a god or multiverse. In the end, it's all a matter of finding a way to end the regress."

Incorrect. Appealing to the multiverse does not end the regress. See Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. In addition, if by your own metric the two competing options are equally ad hoc, why the condescending rhetoric? I'd like to give you the benefit of the doubt, but with every supercilious response you solidify Vox and WATYF's assessment of you. Engaging in civil discourse is really not that hard.

Anonymous Writers Gawking At Vox July 29, 2013 12:14 AM  

"- The universe is not eternal, therefore it had a cause. Nothing in nature is its own cause, therefore the cause must be "outside" of the universe. Therefore, the supernatural exists"

- There are only two options on the table for a supernatural cause: a conscious creative force (e.g. God) or an unconscious creative force (e.g. multiverse). Which is more likely to be true?"

You have no basis upon which to posit that the only possible non-conscious creative force is a multiverse.


"I determined that Genesis is entirely consistent with what we know of nature through modern science. In fact, it's so remarkably consistent that there is virtually no chance Genesis was just made up by some Bronze Age author."

Specifically, which parts of Genesis are consistent with what we know of nature through modern science. Further, specifically, what part of Genesis could not be conceived of by a Bronze age person?

Anonymous David of One July 29, 2013 12:24 AM  

holy crap!!!

In the span of a few comments we've got multiverse, masturbation, logic is abuse, Augustine, Jesus, engineering, Pournelle, scaldlipzi, porno, genetic algorithms and more.

Surprising how a thread can demonstrate multiple collisions that generates some sort of semblance of coherent discussion.

Cool.

Anonymous Vandermerwe July 29, 2013 1:11 AM  

"- There are only two options on the table for a supernatural cause: a conscious creative force (e.g. God) or an unconscious creative force (e.g. multiverse). Which is more likely to be true?"

What caused the "multiverse", if such a thing even exists? Uncaused Cause is God, at least that's the conclusion in Classical Theism.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 1:11 AM  

The first question is reasonable and proper, the second isn't, at least except for speculation.

Speculation means you're just making stuff up out of your own imagination. Once you go beyond just making stuff up and start applying real evidence, then you're occupying a space between speculation and proof. Human beings constantly make decisions where there is evidence, but it's insufficient for proof. The different levels are preponderance of evidence (like in a civil court), beyond reasonable doubt (like in a criminal court), and proof. What we're dealing with in terms of a conscious creator is not speculation. I've looked at the Genesis account of creation from the perspective of a scientist, and it's a remarkable scientific document. In terms of the probability that it's the product of speculation, it's just not possible by any reasonable definition of "possible" that some scruffy Bronze Age peasant came up with this out of his own imagination. And there is more evidence to be found in nature. I urge you to read a book called Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean Carroll, which details the way in which genetics is involved with the development of life. In his book, Carroll (who is a confirmed Darwinist) is forced to use the word "logic" several times to describe what he has observed. In other words, he's forced to ascribe to the workings of life on earth -- something that is supposed to be an unconscious, undirected process -- a property that's inextricably associated with consciousness.

There is evidence of a conscious creator, and that takes the question of who/what beyond speculation. Does it reach a level of a preponderance of evidence? Reasonable doubt? Proof? I don't know for certain, but I'm personally at the point where it's beyond reasonable doubt.

Your table is too small. Limiting options (as I've shown) creates false alternatives. There are an infinite number.

Okay, since there are an infinite number, give me just one more besides conscious and unconscious. If you've got another one, I'm quite interested to know. I've tried to think of more and haven't been successful.

This assumes whatever theory which says the universe is not-eternal is true (I have a book on plasma that promotes steady-state and contradicts no data as of it's writing).

Which book is this? I know of no steady-state theory that is not seriously contradicted by at least some observation.

I would finally note the "God as Creator" and "God as involved moral agent" hypotheses are distinct and separate.

As concepts, yes. But we're talking about the God of the Old Testament, which is described as creating the universe and being involved with its subsequent development.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 1:27 AM  

You have no basis upon which to posit that the only possible non-conscious creative force is a multiverse.

So why are you bringing it up? She didn't posit that. That's not what 'e.g' means.

Specifically, which parts of Genesis are consistent with what we know of nature through modern science.

1) All of it.

Further, specifically, what part of Genesis could not be conceived of by a Bronze age person?

2) Nihilo (as in 'creation ex'). He could write about it, but I doubt he could conceive of it.

Light existing as a phenomenon independent of light-sources such as the sun.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 1:28 AM  

You have no basis upon which to posit that the only possible non-conscious creative force is a multiverse.

I did not say that, and I didn't even remotely imply it. You really ought to seriously consider your responses before you make them. Right now, the only serious contender for unconscious creative force put forth by serious people with any amount of rigorous thought is the multiverse. Of course there are other possibilities, most of which we couldn't even begin to imagine. The multiverse is the only developed possibility offered at present, so it's the one we ought to consider when talking about likelihoods. If you have another possibility you would like to discuss, then develop it to the point that it's worth talking about, and we'll talk about it.

Specifically, which parts of Genesis are consistent with what we know of nature through modern science.

Every statement of Genesis 1 is consistent with what we know of nature. If you'd like to know more, I urge you to read Gerald Schroeder's The Science of God. He has a table on page 67 that shows the key moments in the creation and development of the universe that match up between Genesis and what we know from modern science.

Further, specifically, what part of Genesis could not be conceived of by a Bronze age person?

We're not talking about could or could not, but likelihoods. Consider that all of the non-Abrahamic religions believe the universe is cyclical. To anyone not raised in the world of modern science, the universe appears to be governed by cycle upon cycle. It's inevitable that anyone without possession of sophisticated telescopes and knowledge of the non-visible parts of the EM spectrum will assume the universe is cyclical, without beginning or end. Therefore, the first three words of the Bible alone are very unlikely to have been conceived of by a Bronze Age person. Consider that what follows is an account of significant milestones in the development of a universe with a linear timeline, all of it consistent with what we know of nature via science and in the correct order, and what you have is a creation story that is extremely, extremely unlikely to have been made up by someone in the Bronze Age. So extremely unlikely that I call it mathematically "non-possible."

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 1:31 AM  

That should have read, Consider that what follows those first three words is an account of significant milestones ...

Anonymous Tom B July 29, 2013 3:16 AM  

Writers Squawking at the Top of Their Lungs wrote:

“I just find the leap from "Theism" is one reasonable response to the dead end of the Cosmological argument as is Naturalism to the idea of the christian god being the answer to be an extraordinarily primitive and self satisfying assumption that can't be sustained.”




Nooo…. It just means that you haven’t done the requisite comparative religious studies.

The answer to the Identity of God is simple; compare and contrast the creation stories of various religions and see which one matches up most closely with the Big Bang scenario. However, using the Simple Cosmological argument alone, it is impossible determine which God is the correct one, although we can eliminate some possibilities. But by synthesizing the Kalam and Teleological arguments we can produce a rigorous test argument that will account for all the variables in both religious and scientific data sets enough to make a meaningful conclusion possible.

In a research paper I wrote in college on this very subject (for a Medieval Philosophy class), I wrote the following:



“Most lay people fail to understand the controversy surrounding the theory of the Big Bang. Dr. Hugh Ross described the problem succinctly when he quoted former NASA head Robert Jastrow as saying that scientists were afraid if the theory were true ‘that their colleagues were going to run out and join the First Church of Jesus Christ of the Big Bang.’

This concerned scientists so much that efforts were made to refine the theory to eliminate its Christological ramifications, giving rise to gurus and British rock stars singing to them in India. Ross, a former NASA astronomer, wrote:

‘Most eastern religions, old and new, are founded on the belief that the universe oscillates or reincarnates. In fact, the popularity of these faiths soared with the popularity of the oscillating universe model, more so when it was recognized that the Hindu number for the period of the oscillation, (specifically, four and a half billion years) came close to the twenty to thirty billion year period proposed by the astronomers working on the model. Many reasoned that for the ancient Hindu theologians to get that close to the ‘right’ answer there had to be some truth to Hinduism.

Now that the hesitation, steady state, and oscillation models for the universe have evaporated in the face of new measurements and discoveries, so, too, has any scientific basis for the cosmology of the eastern faiths. The impossibility of the oscillating universe destroys the foundation of Hinduism, Buddhism, and its New Age derivatives. The impossibility of the eternal existence of the cosmos translates into the impossibility of pantheism and all of its daughter faiths.’”


Con't

Anonymous Tom B July 29, 2013 3:17 AM  

Con't



In that paper I compared the two religious traditions that scientists have themselves stated in the past as having the most possibility of being correct due to their “similarities” to the Big Bang Cosmology – Judeo/Christianity and Hinduism. I made a very detailed series of extrapolations of the points of contention in the argument, I reprint one of those here:



“Judeo-Christian
The universe was created from nothing (ex nihilo) in an explosion of light. (extra-dimensionality) Light and darkness were separated as day and night. Dry land was formed in the midst of the seas. God allows stars and celestial bodies to be created in the night sky. The universe is expanding.

Hinduism
The material universe is not the creation of God but is unconscious emanation from God (Brahman). The universe is unreal; an illusion within the mind of Brahman. Brahman produced beings of many kinds from his own body, by placed his seed in water, which became a golden egg; in that egg he himself was born as Brahman, thus giving birth to himself. Brahman resided in the egg one year, then divided it into two halves, forming heaven and earth, the middle sphere, the eight points of the horizon, the mind, the ego, the soul, the five organs which perceive the objects of sensation.

Science
A massive explosion tears the fabric of space/time, expelling enormous amounts of matter across space. Super hot atoms, called plasma, heat up the surrounding space, giving off huge amounts of radiation. The origin of the explosion is unknown, although theories range from a super dense point of matter to the creation of virtual particles. The plasma clouds begin to cool, forming first clouds of gasses, then stars, and planets. On Earth, volcanic and tectonic activity is present, pushing up land masses from beneath water/ammonia seas. The Earth’s atmosphere changes from opaque to transparent, allowing visible light from the Sun and stars to be seen from the surface. The Universe is expanding.”



While this is obviously not the full extent of the comparison ( don't think Vox would like me reproducing a 43 page paper here), from this example we can say that the Judeo/Christian religion comes closest to the Big Bang scenario. In this abbreviated argument then it would be logical to then say that your objection is overruled on initial analysis.

Unless you have further information you would like to grace us with?

Anonymous VD July 29, 2013 4:36 AM  

Send me the paper, please, Tom B. I'd like to read it.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 29, 2013 4:41 AM  

**The most important question is whether that cause is conscious or unconscious. The only serious contenders are God and the multiverse, respectively. Can we distinguish between the two on the basis of evidence within this Universe?**

There's a third possibility. Someone once wrote that a sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. How about this for an idea - suppose that this univere or *a* universe was created at some point in the past or future, and natural forces (including technology) eventually caused there to come into existence a being sufficiently knowledgable and powerful (including possibly not being limitted by time) that it was indistinguishable from God.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 4:50 AM  

That would make the answer 'unconscious'.

Unless God creates the universe, appearing later would be irrelevant.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 29, 2013 5:02 AM  

I think a lot of harm has been done by the definition which religions have given to the word 'Faith'. By 'faith' they generally mean 'faith in the existence of a God, despite his not providing evidence that he actually exists.

And this is harmful because it favors either those who are stupid, good at believing things without evidence, or good at lying. Favoring any of those traits, particularly if those without those traits are selected against (such as burning heretics and witches) is not good for the human race.

It also (and this is where it is particularly cruel) selects against those who have had abysmally bad luck in their lives and been repeatedly lied to and tricked out of what they have. When too many promises to you by people you can at least see have been broken, especially when the promised reward for good behavior is given to someone who has not been good, it gets pretty hard to have faith in the existence of or rewards given by something you can't see.

I believe there is another sort of faith, and probably a more important sort, which is faith in the principals (or ethics) of God. It does very little good, I think, for someone to believe in the existence of God, then go out and beat and steal from people. Someone (an agnostic) who has a hard time believing in God without evidence, but also things stealing and beating people are wrong, has far more 'faith' in this sense. In fact, there was actually a parable that could be interpretted to be about these two different kinds of faith. In the parable, a father went to his younger son and said: "Go work in the fields". The younger son answered politely and said he would, but then went out to party instead. The father then said to his older son: "Go work in the fields" and the older son told his father to get out and leave him alone, but later went to work in the fields anyways. The younger son had faith in his father's existence, but no faith in the principals of his father. The older son may not have believed his father existed (at least not to the point that he felt obligated to speak respectfully to the man), but did believe in the principals of his father, in this case, that the field needed harvesting, so going out to work and harvest it was the right thing to do, regardless of how he felt about his father, or whether he knew or cared that his father even existed or not.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 29, 2013 5:12 AM  

Mudz wrote: "Unless God creates the universe, appearing later would be irrelevant."

Well, here's some more possibilities:

1. God could have been created by natural forces in some other universe, then created OUR universe. Though this would make the original cause (of God) natural. Though not the original cause of our universe, except by extension.

2. If God is not limitted by time, God himself could have created the universe in which he came to exist at a later point, by travelling back in time and doing so. Admittedly, it's hard to wrap a merely human brain around that one.

3. Maybe the being we call 'God' was created (or his universe was created) by a different 'God'.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 5:20 AM  

Which would make the cause of our universe conscious. :)

It's not your fault. The discussion isn't actually about the existence of God, which was a natural assumption. It's actually just 'what created this universe'?

There is only two options, something that was conscious, and something that was not.

And I don't believe in that particular bit of quantum sophistry. You can argue variations of the 'time' concept, or if God essentially 'rebuilt' the universe. But cause precedes effect, however you like to apply the notion, and your options of First Cause are still the same.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 5:23 AM  

I should say: The discussion isn't focusing on the existence of God.

It is about Him, though.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 29, 2013 5:27 AM  

Another problem, Mudz, is assuming that all of the powers commonly attributed to 'God' must necessarily all exist in the same entity/ cause. For instance, suppose the universe had a natural cause, but the creatures in the universe did not have souls or an afterlife until some entity which was sufficiently intelligent and powerful created souls and an afterlife, and also was able to travel through time, to do so retroactively to those creatures that existed in the universe earlier. Would such an entity be considered 'God', despite not having created the universe?

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 6:22 AM  

That's interesting, if a little vague. What powers are we assuming, and why is Ockham's razor a problem?

Again, the point of focus is the cause of the universe. That's the starting point of a logical argument for a creator God. Whether a lesser power was involved of our own existence wouldn't affect that argument. Jesus is considered the master worker, and the Word, so he'd probably qualify.


But just for fun, assuming you mean the Catholic doctrine of powers as the 'common' attributions:

A contingent being that exceeds the boundaries, power, nature, and material of the cosmic that spawned Him?

A finite universe generating an infinite Being?

I don't think that'd be possible. And if I used your given description instead he still wouldn't be, in Catholic and other doctrine, because 'time-travelling' isn't 'eternal' or timeless, and if he were eternal, he wouldn't be contingent of the universe.

A more modest Being:

A being that created the human race, gave souls and an afterlife, would be considered our creator, but as he is a contingent being subsequent to the universe, not the supreme creator that we typically denote as the big G.

Some people go with Necessary vs. Continent in the ultimate philosophical sense, which you can do. I've used them in the more colloquial sense pertaining to if He caused the universe, or was caused in the universe, subsequent to it.


People are typically comfortable with :

God: A conscious entity. Created universe.

god: Some really powerful dude.


So in all cases, no.

Anonymous Tom B July 29, 2013 6:31 AM  

VD,

Will do, although I will need a few days to retrieve the full length paper from my archived hard drives, which are in storage. I did attempt to adapt a "Reader's Digest version" for an aborted blog back in 2004, located http://beer-and-theology.blogspot.com/ -- which is where I got the quotes.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 29, 2013 7:07 AM  

Mudz - see, that's probably why the human race is having a hard time answering the question. Because they haven't really defined what they mean by 'God'? Does he/she/it have to have all the powers that are attributed to him? One specific power? Can there be more than one God, in which case, do we acknowledge them all as 'Gods', or is the 'true God' the one that created the other? The one that's most powerful? The one that's most ethical? The one that has whichever power/performed whatever action we regard as most defining of 'God'?

You can't answer the question unless you figure out first exactly what it is you are actually asking. You may not be able to answer it even after you define what you are asking, but you certainly aren't going to be able to answer it before defining what you are asking.

Blogger Hacked acctount 2018/19? hcaacked! July 29, 2013 7:41 AM  

YIKES. Major edit: the rejection of liars/thieves has saved me a great amount of money.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 7:41 AM  

Yes, you can. The English language is arbitrary, it's the meaning that matters, and it's easy to arrive at, all you have to do is give your definitions.

Elohim is also a word for God, but you don't need a capital with that.

You asked me if we'd call such-and-such a God, with the capital 'G'. The capital is essentially an honorific, calling Jehovah 'God' or 'god' wouldn't actually change anything about Him, or whether He was the supreme creator or not, that's just the label.

The 'true God', is the supreme Creator, that created the universe.

And it was you asking the question, not me. Don't blame me if you were confused by your own question.

What powers? I can't tell you if they logically have to exist in one person if you don't tell me what you mean. Which is why I had to make possible assumptions about what you meant.

The confusion was not mine, but yours.




The conundrum you're proposing isn't really a thing. It's just mental exercise of how we name things.

How do we define the Queen of England? That chick who wears the English crown.

How do we define God? The one from which all things originate. The one whom there is no-one greater than. The supreme creator of the universe.


If it makes it simple for you. No, there can't be more than one God, who actually exists. There is only one, by definition. He is the Supreme Being.

If you like, it can just be 'The Guy That Created The Universe', if that meets all your naming convention needs. Or, as it's more informally known, conscious 'First Cause'.



I answered the question just fine, even though you asked it in a really muddled way.

Blogger tz July 29, 2013 7:51 AM  

As usual, CS Lewis hit it with Bulverism

In other words, you must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method [Note: This essay was written in 1941.] is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. In the course of the last fifteen years I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it “Bulverism.” Some day I am going the write the biography of its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver, whose destiny was determined at the age of five when he heard his mother say to his father - who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third - “Oh, you say that because you are a man.” “At that moment,” E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and the national dynamism of our age will thrust you to the wall.” That is how Bulver became one of the makers of the Twentieth Century.

Blogger tz July 29, 2013 8:25 AM  

I shall have to answer more at length and find the book on steady state.

But let me break apart the question, for it is an important distinction.

The existence of God is an entirely distinct question, but if he exists, (or a pantheon), he/they are capable of creating the universe. So if God(s) exist - and the evidence is wider and different than just origins - Occam's razor should assign he/them as the simplest explanation.

To do a quick extension on conscious, unconscious, there are many levels of intent. Unconscious is zero. A bit up the continuum is hinduism or deism. Farther up is a very personal God who is avtive in our world today, and beyond that is the Incarnation, the word became flesh and dwelt among us.

A God that consciously creates something for entertainment but just watches and imposes nothing is very different from Christ. And it should affect the argument though it seems easier if when we rewind 15 billion years (or whatever the actual figure is, which I don't claim to know) that any kind of "God" will do for the purposes of argument.

It is also reasonable to ask at what point God (or gods, or angels) is needed for historical events like the first life and the Cambrian explosion, and what points are merely natural physical laws playing out.

I'm not trying to deflect or obfuscate, but the question as I understand it, is multifaceted.

And the one which seems to be on the table is stated backward - "does the physical universe's existence prove God exists?".

I said physical, because the questions on the existence of spirit - our souls, angels and demons, etc. are also important. We can argue about a purely material creation, but that is not the universe I understand to have been created. One where spirit occassionally enters and breaks the natural laws and order - which is commonly called a "miracle". For one small miracle is a microcosm of creation and sweeps away much speculation.

Blogger tz July 29, 2013 9:05 AM  

Ann Morgan:

And this is harmful because it favors either those who are stupid, good at believing things without evidence, or good at lying. Favoring any of those traits, particularly if those without those traits are selected against (such as burning heretics and witches) is not good for the human race.

I would blame the fall, not faith. Atheistic communism has done as bad or worse - they didn't call dissenters "heretics". And those "selected" that were inciting the mobs were the intellectuals, not the common man.

It also (and this is where it is particularly cruel) selects against those who have had abysmally bad luck in their lives and been repeatedly lied to and tricked out of what they have. When too many promises to you by people you can at least see have been broken, especially when the promised reward for good behavior is given to someone who has not been good, it gets pretty hard to have faith in the existence of or rewards given by something you can't see.

Except that is precisely what faith is. If there was something that went ZAP! every time someone sinned, there would be no need for faith in God. Or if every time a child prayed for candy, one would appear. The fall put up a veil between man and God and faith is our attempt at getting through it. We don't see the whole picture.

It is not faith to believe when things seem to make perfect sense. It is only faith when it is in complete opposition to reason, justice, or anything you thought you believed about God. But all the unreason is quite real - but do you trust in God at that point or not? That you believe in spite of what you see, not because of what you see.

The first Christians died in mass numbers for their faith. They refused to just burn a pinch of incense. There were occasional miracles, but most martyrs simply believed to their deaths.

The Cross is foolishness. That Christ had to suffer through his Passion (and worse, that we must share in it to be like him). Christ, even healing the Guard's ear in the middle - had to permit that to be done to him.

If you read about spirituality from St. John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila and others, it is a progression. They describe the "Dark Night of the senses", and the "Dark Night of the Soul". Many can't get past the 4th and 5th houses where they get consolations and things go well as they pray. But to have real faith, you need to believe when that belief is dry and even painful instead of being pleasant.

The greatest faith is believing in, trusting, and loving God when he makes himself un-loveable. God feels less present to someone going through the dark night of the soul than any Atheist. When God doesn't seem to be there amid all your prayers, trials, tribulations, and pain. If you have true faith, you will emerge from the trial unshakeable.

And faith, hope, and love are eternal.

Anonymous David of One July 29, 2013 10:39 AM  

Tom B July 29, 2013 6:31 AM

VD,

Will do, although I will need a few days to retrieve the full length paper from my archived hard drives, which are in storage. I did attempt to adapt a "Reader's Digest version" for an aborted blog back in 2004, located http://beer-and-theology.blogspot.com/ -- which is where I got the quotes.


Thank You Tom B., I am interested as well.

Dave

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 10:55 AM  

Mudz wrote: Or, as it's more informally known, conscious 'First Cause'.

Why does the "first cause" have to be "conscious"? According to quantum mechanics, the universe is full of uncaused events.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 12:32 PM  

tz: To do a quick extension on conscious, unconscious, there are many levels of intent.

We're not talking about intent, although that's an interesting question in its own right (and the source of much anguish for at least one newly non-atheist friend of mine). For the purpose of this discussion, we're concerned with whether the cause itself is aware, irrespective of intent. Consider Hinduism as described by Tom B, in which there is no intent, but there is consciousness. The universe, an unintentional emanation that exists in the mind of Brahma, exists because of a conscious entity. Brahma is a conscious creative force.

I'm quite interested to know if anyone can come up with an alternative to either conscious or unconscious irrespective of intent. Think of consciousness like this. I posit that there is only zero (unconscious) and non-zero (conscious). Can you think of a number that's neither zero nor non-zero?

I'm not trying to deflect or obfuscate, but the question as I understand it, is multifaceted.

The main question is not multifaceted, but I blame myself somewhat for confusing things with the Genesis story. Something caused the universe to exist. The creation itself was a one-time event, irrespective of what came later. Something was the cause of that event. One can legitimately ask the question of whether that something was conscious or unconscious without respect to what came after that event. Now, it just so happens we have an historical account of the one-time event of creation in which the Creator subsequently interacts with his creation. We can use that as evidence to determine whether the cause -- which is also described as an interactive agent -- is likely to be conscious or unconscious. It's certainly possible that the universe was caused to exist by one entity (conscious or unconscious) and then the management of it was assumed by another entity (conscious). But for the purpose of this discussion, we're dealing with the Bible -- the only historical account that matches up accurately with what we know about nature -- which doesn't say "God created the universe" and then "some other agent took over management."

wrf3: Why does the "first cause" have to be "conscious"? According to quantum mechanics, the universe is full of uncaused events.

You're confusing two different things -- whether there was a cause and what the nature of the cause was -- although you bring up an interesting subtlety here with "cause" with respect to QM. At the risk of opening a big ol' can of worms, there are what appear to be spontaneous events according to QM, but that doesn't mean they're uncaused. QM deals with probabilities, and since we're able to make reasonable predictions using QM that suggests an underlying cause we have not yet discovered.

And, anyway, non-predictability does not mean uncaused. Take, for instance, an atom that has been excited to a higher energy level and then spontaneously emits a photon. We need large populations of excited atoms to make accurate predictions about when and how much radiation is emitted, so let's just look at this one atom, for which we are not able to make an accurate prediction. We still have cause and effect. The atom does not emit a photon unless it has been excited first. Irrespective of whatever the unknown mechanics of the photon's emission actually are, an event is required to precede the emission, therefore it is not uncaused.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 29, 2013 1:06 PM  

tz, you wrote: **Except that is precisely what faith is. If there was something that went ZAP! every time someone sinned, there would be no need for faith in God. Or if every time a child prayed for candy, one would appear. The fall put up a veil between man and God and faith is our attempt at getting through it. We don't see the whole picture.**

I think you misunderstand exactly what I mean by someone having had abysmally bad luck and too many broken promises. Picture the following - a child is being repeatedly physically and sexually abused. They are promised (by various adults) if they are good and patient and don't cause any trouble, the abuse will stop in 3 years, and they will be rewarded. 3 years go by, and the abuse gets worse, and the rewards they were promised are instead given to those abusing them. They are then told -again - that if they are simply good and patient and don't cause any trouble, the abuse will stop in another 3 years, and they will be rewarded. Again, another 3 years goes by, the abuse gets worse, and the promised rewards are given to the abuser.

Rinse and repeat about 10 times or so, so that by the time the child is 30 or 40, they are pretty much non-functional from post traumatic stress disorder, and infertile for psychological reasons related to being repeatedly sexually abused. They are then told by the same adults who promised them the 'rewards' all their life, that they are utterly worthless (for being non-functional), and also they are not even deserving of being LOVED, because they are incapable of providing the adults with cute little babies to coo over.

Then ask such a person to have 'faith' in some 'God' they can't even see, that will 'reward' them for being good and patient and putting up with the crap in their life. Oh, and it will somehow be different this time, the promise is really real for sure this time, and not just a con like all the other times to trick them out of the reward that will be given to everyone else.

Kind of hard for someone like that to have 'faith' in the sense you mean it, after being lied to hundreds of times.

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 1:27 PM  

Stickwick wrote: You're confusing two different things -- whether there was a cause and what the nature of the cause was

Not I. Mudz did, by claiming that the uncaused cause is conscious. He hasn't proved that consciousness is needed for causation.

-- although you bring up an interesting subtlety here with "cause" with respect to QM. At the risk of opening a big ol' can of worms, there are what appear to be spontaneous events according to QM, but that doesn't mean they're uncaused.

Nor does it prove that they are caused. One has to dig into the "can of worms". Bell's theorem, Kochen-Specker, etc... Either everything is superdetermined, or acausality is fundamental to nature.

QM deals with probabilities, and since we're able to make reasonable predictions using QM that suggests an underlying cause we have not yet discovered.

There are no hidden-variable theories.

Irrespective of whatever the unknown mechanics of the photon's emission actually are, an event is required to precede the emission, therefore it is not uncaused.

Sure. But the reason why an electron absorbs a photon to begin with is utterly random, and when it re-emits the photon is utterly random.

Blogger Markku July 29, 2013 1:30 PM  

Mudz did, by claiming that the uncaused cause is conscious.

No, he said that it has to be conscious to warrant being called God with capital G.

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 1:59 PM  

Markku: wrote: No, he said that it has to be conscious to warrant being called God with capital G.

I stand corrected. Thanks, Markku.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 2:36 PM  

wrf3: Not I. Mudz did, by claiming that the uncaused cause is conscious. He hasn't proved that consciousness is needed for causation.

Your response was muddled: "Why does the "first cause" have to be "conscious"? According to quantum mechanics, the universe is full of uncaused events." The second sentence doesn't address the first. What does an uncaused event have to do with whether a cause is conscious or not? Unconscious cause != uncaused.

Nor does it prove that they are caused. One has to dig into the "can of worms". Bell's theorem, Kochen-Specker, etc... Either everything is superdetermined, or acausality is fundamental to nature.

Yes, but so what? The existence of a degree of acausality does not rule out an underlying causality, as I hope the following example demonstrates. In my professional work, I've created simple cosmological simulations to determine whether certain hypotheses governing the behavior of supermassive black holes and galaxies can reproduce what we observe. In these sims, I introduce a degree of randomness for all of the known quantities. Whether that randomness is representative of our ignorance of actual mechanisms or of some genuine acausality in nature, I personally don't know and leave as an exercise for the reader. The point is, the results of the sims reflect a degree of randomness inherent to the program, but as the creator of these mini-universes, I know there is an underlying causality, because I've written the rules myself: Cause A leads to Effect B within some +/- uncertainty. The inclusion of a degree of acausality does not in any way rule out an underlying causality.

There are no hidden-variable theories.

So? How does that definitively rule out the existence of unknown mechanisms? QM is a tool, and a quite useful one for making predictions, but, as with any description of natural phenomena, no matter how useful, it's almost certainly incomplete. As wonderfully powerful and convincing as mathematics can be, it's folly to believe that a consistent mathematical description is necessarily the explanation.

Sure. But the reason why an electron absorbs a photon to begin with is utterly random, and when it re-emits the photon is utterly random.

There is no basis on which you can legitimately make a positive statement like this. There are know known reasons why a bound electron absorbs a photon. It appears to be random. And while the timing of photon emission by a single atom appears to be utterly random, in large populations it's quite predictable. Predictability --> causality.

This is why I didn't want to "go there" with QM. Such discussions have the potential to get wildly off track from the original question, and the original question is all I care about. Was the universe caused by a conscious or unconscious entity? We have enough evidence to make a likelihood argument in the absence of a detailed discussion of the current state of thought on QM.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 2:47 PM  

That should read: "There are NO known reasons why a bound electron absorbs a photon."

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 3:39 PM  

Stickwick wrote: What does an uncaused event have to do with whether a cause is conscious or not?

The short answer is that an acausal event (the uncaused cause) isn't conscious. After all, you wrote "There are NO known reasons why a bound electron absorbs a photon." Or are you arguing that it's the result of a conscious choice by God? If so, how do you prove it?

The existence of a degree of acausality does not rule out an underlying causality

There are levels on top of levels. You're trying to argue for causality at an upper level -- which none of us disagree with. But reality itself is either acausal at the lowest level (or is superdetermined). See, for example, Conway's "Free will theorem" (I can recommend the 6 hours of video on iTunes University).

Whether that randomness is representative of our ignorance of actual mechanisms or of some genuine acausality in nature, I personally don't know and leave as an exercise for the reader.

Those "exercises" have been done, by John Bell, Alain Aspect, and others.

I know there is an underlying causality, because I've written the rules myself:

You're arguing from analogy; because the laws of physics exists (i.e. the equivalent to the computer code you wrote), therefore an intelligent creator exists. But a critic will correctly state that you're anthropomorphizing the universe and something more rigorous is needed. After all, the brain is a pattern matching engine and, for communication to work, the wiring in our brain pretty much dictates that we anthropomorphize. Not only do we often see patterns where none exist, we anthropomorphize when we shouldn't. The role of science is to show what's real and what's illusion. So far, you haven't provided any real science, except an astonishing correspondence between what we know about the Big Bang and Genesis.

How does that definitively rule out the existence of unknown mechanisms?

You're the astrophysicist and you're asking me? That's what the "hidden variables" are -- the unknown mechanisms that are yet to be discovered. If you accept locality, then those hidden variables don't exist.

Predictability --> causality.

Except quantum mechanics disagrees with you. Again, I refer to Conway's "Free Will Theorem" where it is shown that "if ... two experimenters ... are free to make choices about what measurements to take, then the results of the measurements cannot be determined by anything previous to the experiments." [my emphasis on "anything", because those are the "unknown reasons" you're trying to hold onto].

We have enough evidence to make a likelihood argument in the absence of a detailed discussion of the current state of thought on QM.

Well, we agree on this, but my claim is that, so far, the evidence isn't scientific, i.e. repeatable. Arguments by analogy aren't science. The anthropic principle isn't science. Causality at one level doesn't mean that causality exists at all levels, etc.

And whatever evidence you care to present, while it might not require QM, it can't conflict with QM. Any more than it can conflict with Relativity.

Anonymous Beau July 29, 2013 3:59 PM  

Kind of hard for someone like that to have 'faith' in the sense you mean it, after being lied to hundreds of times.

Which is precisely Jesus' point when he warned, "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones."

The bravest man I ever met survived the murder of his younger brother at the hands of his parents who threw him out a window. His mother told him, "If you ever tell what we did, you'll be next." He had spent years locked in a closet and beaten. Finally, when he could, he left humanity behind and lived with his dog in a park. After eight years the dog died leaving him utterly alone. He hated and feared people, but loneliness impelled him to find contact. He did. He told me, "I know I have a long way to come back - but I'm committed to the long haul." This man is my hero, knowing the difficulty of the road before him and yet remaining on the path.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 6:17 PM  

wrf3,

I'm not arguing from analogy that an intelligent, conscious creator exists. You've misapplied my analogy, which was only about causality, irrespective of consciousness. Whether or not I, as a conscious entity, wrote the laws into my simulation or some unconscious force is responsible for that, the point is we know with absolute certainty that the underlying causality exists, even with a degree of what might or might not be acausality. Furthermore, I'm not making a scientific argument for consciousness or unconsciousness of the cause. I'm simply following the example of debaters like Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig in presenting an argument for/against a conscious creative force from likelihood. I have nowhere claimed that mine is a scientific approach. It's a logical test, yes, but not a scientific experiment. It's the best we can do in the absence of proof and the ability to directly observe/experiment, and it's a legitimate means by which to decide what metaphysical position to take on the nature and/or origin of the universe.

In terms of the QM argument and causality, I think I know what the problem is. I'm not talking about hidden variables in the sense that you mean. It's my fault for not explaining this well, but I'm referring to two distinct philosophical points, and I'll now try to make this clearer. The first is that QM is not an explanation, but a description. Philosopher Edward Feser presented an astute analogy using Kepler's laws to show the fallacy of the argument you're making. Kepler's laws of planetary motion accurately describe how the planets move without any reference to a cause. However, as Feser correctly observes, it would be fallacious to claim that because Kepler's laws accurately describe the motions of the planets without reference to a cause, there is no cause for the motions of the planets. And yet this is what you're trying to argue using QM. Just because QM does not include any explanation for the behavior of bound electrons emitting photons does not mean that a cause does not exist. (The fact that in the macro sense we have predictable behavior strongly suggests an underlying cause, which, by the way, doesn't necessarily have anything to do with determinism. In fact, it's trivial to demonstrate that you can have causality without determinism.)

The second point, and one that cannot be lightly dismissed, is the possibility that QM is just wrong. As wonderfully accurate as it is, what if QM is a flawed description of reality, in the same sense as Ptolematic theory? Ptolemaic theory ultimately proved to be very accurate in its predictions of the positions of the planets in the sky, but we now know it was fundamentally incorrect as a model. I believe very strongly in the power of experiment and mathematics, and yet I cannot, based on what I know of our limited ability to perceive and understand nature and the great many times we have been dead wrong about scientific and mathematical "certainties" about the way things work, rule out the possibility that we are not even sufficiently describing reality with QM.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 6:32 PM  

The short answer is that an acausal event (the uncaused cause) isn't conscious.

You don't actually realise this, but you've just changed the names, you haven't actually changed anything significant in that statement, and I'll show you why in a bit.

In short. Yes it can be conscious, because that's what we're talking about. Details at the bottom.

After all, you wrote "There are NO known reasons why a bound electron absorbs a photon."

That's a causal event. We don't know why the bound electron absorbs a photon, but we know there's certainly a reason, because that's logically consistent.

Except quantum mechanics disagrees with you. Again, I refer to Conway's "Free Will Theorem" where it is shown that "if ... two experimenters ... are free to make choices about what measurements to take, then the results of the measurements cannot be determined by anything previous to the experiments." [my emphasis on "anything", because those are the "unknown reasons" you're trying to hold onto].

Great. More worshippers of the word 'Random'. (Or is it the same guy?)

To whatever extent it conflicts with causality, quantum mechanics is wrong. I didn't believe it when I read it in Timeline, I don't believe it now, because it's like saying you can swim without a body. Or liquid.

But yay for the resurgence in magical belief. 'If it sounds really cool, it's gotta be right. Way cooler than 'logic'.'

They can make any 'free willed' meaasurements they like, but their free will won't make their measurements objectively accurate, it'll be accurate according to its correspondence to the subject measured, which is not (typically) governed by free will. If they measure the average speed of light as 20 mph, they're quite probably wrong.

Denying causality is worse than denying thermodynamics. Causality is at the heart of understanding anything, it is the basis of logic.

Something can't exist until it begins to exist.

Causality at one level doesn't mean that causality exists at all levels, etc.

Um. Yes. It's a philosophical principle that applies everywhere anything exists. That's the point of the principle.

If something has a beginning, there has to be a reason it began there.

If you can speculate that causality isn't a universal principle, you can with far greater ease say the same for gravity. (Why do you assume that a mass always has gravity?) The point is, do you have a solid credible basis for deciding that what's considered a universal principle is in fact only a special principle? Of the two options, 'stuff doesn't exist until it begins to exist' and 'stuff can exist when it hasn't begun to exist', what sounds:

A) Logical.
B) More likely.

Appealing to 'we don't know that logic always works, makes you pretty much useless for making any kind of judgment. Because everything that isn't your own existence could 'possibly' not exist. Even your existence 'could be' debated in that way. All I have to do is ignore any sensible kind of logic and say 'how do you really know you exist?'

How do you know that if you paint a tree completely vermillion it won't launch into outer space?

Because that's stupid. That's why. It's makes no logical sense, because the colour vermillion does not impact orbital mechanics, or turn wood into engines and fuel.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 6:32 PM  

There are levels on top of levels. You're trying to argue for causality at an upper level -- which none of us disagree with. But reality itself is either acausal at the lowest level (or is superdetermined).

Causality is not a principle of material it's a principle of existence.

The only thing which can be logically acausal is something that is eternal. Yes, that would be the 'lowest level'.

We are saying that God is that thing. God is the 'lowest level'. Because that's 'causality'. That's why it's the bottom level that is 'acausal' and not the middle level, because the causal chain follows a logical hierarchy.

You've just found a different way to affirm causality in a different way.

And we come back to the same thing. The 'lowest level' is either conscious or unconscious. You're assuming unconscious.

And whatever evidence you care to present, while it might not require QM, it can't conflict with QM. Any more than it can conflict with Relativity.

They can both kiss my butt. There are perfectly good reasons one can be skeptical both of aspects of QM and relativity.

There are no good reasons to deny logic, because that's denying reason itself.

Blogger Markku July 29, 2013 6:36 PM  

If I make a bomb that takes samples from static noise and after X samples have been on the upper side of the zero line, goes off, is the explosion caused or uncaused? After all, it is utterly random.

If it is caused, then how come, say, radioactive decay is not caused by simply the creation of the radioactive isotope (In whatever cosmological model you believe for how it got there) and then delayed by a random time?

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 6:36 PM  

Correction:

Something can't exist until it begins to exist, unless it has no beginning.

A little better. Probably should have stuck with the standard version.

Blogger tz July 29, 2013 7:14 PM  

The book was from 1991 - I do not maintain I think he is right or wrong, only that this update to steady state theory explains all the visible data - The Big Bang Never Happened

I cannot directly disprove Vox's contention that the Moon Landings didn't happen (but the retroreflector had to get there some way). Theoretically we could build a rocket with lander that would send pictures of the landing areas, and either there will be moon-buggy tracks or not. The bottom of the LEMs (with enough ID) or not. Footprints or not. Yet that is the simple and direct experiment, so although I might argue some points of improbability, such is silly. The answer can be had if someone with sufficient wealth is curious enough to decide the answer once and for all.

We cannot do that even with the fragments of recorded history, much less really interpret leftovers in glaciers, rock strata, or tar pits. Until we have a way of at least recovering imagery from the past in a form of time travel, we can't "know".

@Ann - No, I understood exactly what you meant. I could have stated worse in a shorter period, or even included some autobiographical notes. If you wish to revisit what was covered in "The Problem of Pain", I don't think I can do a better Job that Lewis did, but I can try. Or consider Ivan Karamazov - he is the proper atheist and makes your argument.

Is it worse than what Corrie Ten Boom went through? And having her sister die? Then being confronted by the command that we must forgive when just after the speech, the brutal camp guard came up to her?

The most evil act was the scourging, beating, mocking, and crucifixion of God - the ultimate good, by his creatures.

We not only fell, but did the worst possible thing we could come up with to our very own savior.

Evil exists and is there in each one of us every moment.

So you are confronted with a very evil world, and do not doubt that a world wide economic collapse might bring something worse than the Nazis. But do you blame God or Man?

You did not speak of the faith of the abusers of the child. What if they thought they were doing good? Or do you just assume evil? That the world would let it continue for decades.

Or as two men who were in Auschwitz said: The first, "After this, how can you believe in God?". The second replied "After this how can you believe in Man?".

Yet that is the choice. Forgiveness is an act of the will, not reason. Faith is an act of the will, not reason.

And what of those who lived a charmed and pampered existence? If the child is judged by God, he will be held to little account because of the evil he has suffered. If the wealthy showed faithlessness and ingratitude, what will they say?

Rev 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown.

Blogger Markku July 29, 2013 7:24 PM  

I cannot directly disprove Vox's contention that the Moon Landings didn't happen

That's Nate's. As far as I can tell, Vox's is that there is enough reason to doubt them that it is ridiculous to just wave them off as tinfoil hattery.

As for retroreflectors, more of them were dropped there in later missions (and this is uncontroversial), so the issue isn't as clear cut as why they are there now. Rather, it is that how come the Russians didn't raise a ruckus about them not being there in the time frame after the supposed moon landing and before the next mission (or at least how the info has been so efficiently suppressed that they did).

My compromise theory is that they had the studio, the equipment and Stanley Kubrick ready in case it went south, but against all odds it didn't. And they still had to make sure everybody keeps their mouths shut because it would have been an embarrassment that they even would have engaged in embellishment if necessary.

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 8:51 PM  

Stickwick wrote: And yet this is what you're trying to argue using QM. Just because QM does not include any explanation for the behavior of bound electrons emitting photons does not mean that a cause does not exist.

With QM you have to give up realism or localism. Pick your poison.

The second point, and one that cannot be lightly dismissed, is the possibility that QM is just wrong.

Sure. Just like it's possible that the philosophers are wrong. If you're going to offer philosophy against the overwhelming physical evidence for QM, well, then it's far more likely that the philosophers are wrong. It all comes down to the evidence.

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 9:08 PM  

Mudz wrote: ... but we know there's certainly a reason, because that's logically consistent.

But the reason is a) utterly disconnected from anything prior to it (unless superdeterminism is true) and b) utterly unpredictable. As physicist Max Born wrote, "chance is a more fundamental concept than causality."

More worshippers of the word 'Random'.

This is experimentally verifiable. Worship has nothing to do with it.

If something has a beginning, there has to be a reason it began there.

Oh, dazzle us with your brilliance and explain to us why Bell's theorem is wrong.

The 'lowest level' is either conscious or unconscious. You're assuming unconscious.

Actually, I'm not. I'm going with what can be shown to be true. If you want to claim that the lowest layer is conscious, then you a) have to define exactly what consciousness is, b) show how it comes about, and c) in particular, show how it can exist apart from matter. To do this, at a minimum, it seems to me that you have to argue that the laws of physics preceded the Big Bang, instead of coming into existence at the same time. Love to see an argument that is logically sound.

There are perfectly good reasons one can be skeptical both of aspects of QM and relativity.

Name one for each of them.

There are no good reasons to deny logic, because that's denying reason itself.

How do you know the universe is logical? What does that even mean?

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 9:15 PM  

Markku asked: If it is caused, then how come, say, radioactive decay is not caused by simply the creation of the radioactive isotope (In whatever cosmological model you believe for how it got there) and then delayed by a random time?

Oh, great. Conway actually covered this in one of his 6 lectures, but I don't remember the details. I might as well start re-watching them.

Anonymous Stickwick July 29, 2013 9:20 PM  

tz: The book was from 1991 - I do not maintain I think he is right or wrong, only that this update to steady state theory explains all the visible data - The Big Bang Never Happened

Far from it. And you probably meant all of the observable data, since "visible" has a distinct meaning in cosmology. Anyway, I'm familiar with the book. Lerner either overlooked or deliberately misrepresented what was understood in cosmology back when he wrote it. UCLA cosmologist Ned Wright has an excellent website devoted to answering FAQs about cosmology, providing tutorials, and debunking popular attacks on the big bang. He has an entire section devoted to the errors in Lerner's book. I don't know where you stand in terms of theology, but it's worth noting that most steady-state adherents are atheists who object to the big bang for reasons of personal philosophy, not on the basis of scientific reasoning.

wrf3: With QM you have to give up realism or localism. Pick your poison.

If you're going to offer philosophy against the overwhelming physical evidence for QM, well, then it's far more likely that the philosophers are wrong. It all comes down to the evidence.

You've either failed to understand my points or you're just dodging them. There is a world of difference between a description and an explanation. That you don't understand the difference means this discussion's gone as far as it can.

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 9:38 PM  

Stickwick wrote: You've either failed to understand my points or you're just dodging them.

The fallacy of the excluded middle. I understand your points and I'm not dodging them. I'll try one more time in response to the following:

There is a world of difference between a description and an explanation.

Sure. But there's a famous phrase in QM which says, "shut up and calculate". What this means is that QM (the description) precludes explanation. Nature simply doesn't make sense at the quantum level.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 9:53 PM  

But the reason is a) utterly disconnected from anything prior to it (unless superdeterminism is true) and b) utterly unpredictable. As physicist Max Born wrote, "chance is a more fundamental concept than causality."

A) No.
B) No.

If the reason is 'utterly disconnected' from anything beforehand, that makes no difference to the effect it is connected to.

They're illogical suppositions. If by 'utterly unpredictable' meaning we lack the tools or ability to predict it ourselves that does not make it Random Chaos, that makes us limited.

You are supposing the conclusion of Chaos, and therefore assuming the justification for it exists. But unless you are proposing that concept that A is not always A, then there is no basis for your supposition.

This is experimentally verifiable. Worship has nothing to do with it.

It is not 'experimentally verifiable' because the point of 'random' means that it by nature cannot be verified. It's a philosophical assumption, saying that you cannot experimentally verify or verify in any other way, the reason for something.

Not understanding the results of the experiment doesn't mean the answer is '??'. It means there's something you don't know.

It's worship of a concept, because the concept of Random has no substance to it, and only has whatever weight the conceits of those that believe it, give to it.

Oh, dazzle us with your brilliance and explain to us why Bell's theorem is wrong.

Because it refutes causality, apparently.

Cause -> Effect.

It's the most fundamental principle, which means all other principles, such as Bell's Theorem, are subsequent to it in philosophical value. If you believe there's no reason to believe in causality, there's also no reason to believe in Bell's Theorem.

Actually, I'm not. I'm going with what can be shown to be true. If you want to claim that the lowest layer is conscious, then you a) have to define exactly what consciousness is, b) show how it comes about, and c) in particular, show how it can exist apart from matter. To do this, at a minimum, it seems to me that you have to argue that the laws of physics preceded the Big Bang, instead of coming into existence at the same time. Love to see an argument that is logically sound.

It helps if you take the take to comprehend the argment.

No, I don't. All I have to do is say that there are two options, either it's conscious or it isn't. That's dichotomy.

I don't have to fulfill any of your conditions, but let me go over it again.

A) Conscious. Capable of introspection.
B) Eternal. Didn't 'come about'. (And why would I have to explain that anyway? I don't know that much about DNA and the process of mitosis, but I can still say humans exist.)
C) By being of immaterial substance. Like spirit.


Or are you asking me to be God for you, and make you capable of 'seeing', in order to prove that God exists? That I must myself show you eternity, spirit, and mind, in a medium in which it cannot effectively be done? I can't show you gravity either, but we both know it exists, we both see it's effects, and we can both reason out it's existence using the principle of Causality.

Effect: Mass attracts.
Why?
Cause: Gravity.

Name one for each of them.

QM: Because it violates causality.

Relativity: Because light is a constant, and has an absolute 'maximum' speed in a relativistic universe. He even wrote Special Relativity as a sort of caveat for this, I think. Plus, it's a pure theory of how the universe is structured, it's not logic.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 9:53 PM  

How do you know the universe is logical? What does that even mean?

Exactly. It's bloody stupid. Look what you just did. It's gross.

It basically means you don't 'know' anything, you can't 'know' anything, anything you do know you can't trust, including the fact that you can't know anything. Inclduing your theories of 'randomness'. For all you know, everything Randomly makes sense. That doesn't make sense? It doesn't have to! It's RANDOM.

You are essentially advocating anti-knowledge in order to put yourself in the position, where no matter how we prove God, you don't have to accept proof as proof. Even if it's the only answer, you can say 'I don't need an answer, it has no answer, what are questions? I don't believe in them.'

It means you don't have to justify anything. Which means, you believe in what is impossible, in order to be able to deny what is possible, even if it's the only possible answer.

Logical means A is A. It means that it makes sense. Logical is how stuff has to be in order to have any sustainable existence. If it isn't logical, it can't exist.

It is the disintction between what can happen, and what can't. So if you say something is illogical, it means it can't happen.

Anonymous Mudz July 29, 2013 9:54 PM  

*It helps if you take the time to comprehend the argment.

Blogger wrf3 July 29, 2013 10:22 PM  

Mudz wrote: If the reason is 'utterly disconnected' from anything beforehand, that makes no difference to the effect it is connected to.

That's simply not true. We know, from experimental observation, the probable values which quantum entities can take. We know, for example, the probability of how photons will pass through a polarizing filter. But what we cannot say is what an individual photon will do. We can't even say what an individual photon is doing, unless we measure it.

What you see as causality is a statistical effect of uncounted things acting acausally.

You have two "ingredients": individual actors that act utterly unpredictably, and probability distributions of how they act in the aggregate. It's the probability distributions that give rise to the world we're all familiar with. The probability distributions are what bring order out of chaos.

If by 'utterly unpredictable' meaning we lack the tools or ability to predict it ourselves...

That's exactly what I don't mean. It isn't a lack of tools or ability. Instead, it's the way Nature really behaves. Look up Feynman's lectures on the double slit experiment, for example.

You are supposing the conclusion of Chaos

No, it's what the double slit experiment shows. It's what Bell's Theorem shows. Look, I'm no more happy about this than you are. I don't like Nature being incomprehensible. But the evidence is there, for those who eyes to see.

But unless you are proposing that concept that A is not always A...

Are you familiar with the principle of quantum superposition?

Not understanding the results of the experiment doesn't mean the answer is '??'. It means there's something you don't know.

Sometimes. But further experiments have ruled out either realism and/or locality. As I said to Stickwick, pick your poison.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2013 12:17 AM  

That's simply not true. We know, from experimental observation, the probable values which quantum entities can take. We know, for example, the probability of how photons will pass through a polarizing filter. But what we cannot say is what an individual photon will do. We can't even say what an individual photon is doing, unless we measure it.

The immediate ability to measure something is irrelevant. I cannot see China from here, but I know it exists. China does not require me to observe it in order to exist.

'Probabilities' are not 'actualities'. They are predictives. 'Wave collapse' and all of that, is precisely the sort of phenomenon I believe to be false, and I believe it shall eventually be shown to be such.

We can't predict everything, but we are not natural laws, which requires no such conditions. It's objective.

What you see as causality is a statistical effect of uncounted things acting acausally.

Wrong. You're trying to do the opposite, saying the 'causes' are really just a whole bunch of 'not-causes'.

If I shoot an arrow, I may not be able to predict exactly where it lands, but I know that it is governed by natural laws, that means if all the variables are exactly the same, it will land in that spot every time. The limitations of my intelligence and sight don't change that.

You have two "ingredients": individual actors that act utterly unpredictably, and probability distributions of how they act in the aggregate. It's the probability distributions that give rise to the world we're all familiar with. The probability distributions are what bring order out of chaos.

Probability is no more real than randomness. It's has purely subjective value, saying that we do not know all the factors, cannot calculate them accurately, due to limited tools and knowledge, not because they are inherently incalculable.

Probability is a model of expectation, and even it relies on logic and stable logical realities, or else all probability would always be 50% or 'unknown'.

That's exactly what I don't mean. It isn't a lack of tools or ability. Instead, it's the way Nature really behaves. Look up Feynman's lectures on the double slit experiment, for example.

You may not mean that. But that's the reality. And saying that something is by its nature incomprehensible is self-defeating, because you can never confirm that.

And I'm saying it doesn't. Because it's nonsense.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2013 12:18 AM  

No, it's what the double slit experiment shows. It's what Bell's Theorem shows. Look, I'm no more happy about this than you are. I don't like Nature being incomprehensible. But the evidence is there, for those who eyes to see.

I don't know what you're talking about. I can't trust the 'evidence'. Nature is incomprehensible.

The evidence cannot be there. For you're proposing that no reason exists there. Therefore you cannot explain it as reason or unreason.

If Nature is fundamentally incomprehensible, there would also be no subsequent comprehension, because there would be no stable realities. Therefore no science. Therefore the 'science experiment' is fundamentally flawed and cannot be trusted for any reason, because there is no reason.

The double slit experiment doesn't show that. It shows certain results, which scientists believe to indicate a duality of existence.

What this means is that what they have drawn a false interpretation. Just like the interpretation that was 'since we can't feel the earth moving, it must not be'.

Are you familiar with the principle of quantum superposition?

This is the subject.

Sometimes. But further experiments have ruled out either realism and/or locality. As I said to Stickwick, pick your poison.

Conclusions drawn from the experiments are false. It happens. Science is not somehow exempt from the laws of logic.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2013 12:32 AM  

Look, let's say it's somehow true, and the philosophy is simply beyond me, operating somewhere in God's sphere. At the very bottom, Nature is an incomprehensible Chaos. By it's nature, is cannot be comprehended or predicted.

If the point of the theory is that we cannot understand it's subject, then what's the point of it? How does that improve our understanding in any way? It just says our understanding is worthless.

There's simply no good reason to favour it as an explanation over anything else, because it is the negation of reason.

Furthermore:

Why is chaos limited to this bottom strata? In order for chaos to be limited, it must be governed, so it can no longer be true Chaos.

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2013 1:06 AM  

Look, let's say it's somehow true, and the philosophy is simply beyond me, operating somewhere in God's sphere.

Or, if I'm not smart enough, obv.

Anonymous Ann Morgan July 30, 2013 1:33 AM  

tz wrote: **Is it worse than what Corrie Ten Boom went through?**

Definitely not worse, but probably different in nature in a way more likely to make faith impossible. Corrie Ten Boom was not, so far as I know, subject to continual repeated promises that her life would get better (ei, being released from the concentration camp) if only she were 'good'. Only to have the promises broken each time, then being told by a religion that going to heaven is contingent on her being able to believe in yet another future promise, or having 'faith', and that the camp guards, by this standard, are going to heaven, and she is not, because after too many broken promises, 'faith' becomes pretty much impossible.

Anonymous Beau July 30, 2013 1:56 AM  

because after too many broken promises, 'faith' becomes pretty much impossible.

Do you want to go to heaven?

Blogger Markku July 30, 2013 3:58 AM  

Oh, great. Conway actually covered this in one of his 6 lectures, but I don't remember the details. I might as well start re-watching them.

That doesn't save you from having to answer if the explosion was caused or uncaused.

Blogger Markku July 30, 2013 4:20 AM  

Perhaps the universe samples a perfect random number generator every Planck Time to determine if the event of a delayed sort happens, or doesn't happen. The threshold floating point number determines the probability that we then see in the aggregate.

I myself avoid in a similar way cascading bugs in which events that happen at a regular interval start happening in sync due to a perturbation, and the spike in resource demands at that time cause even more events to get in the same sync, resulting in eventual, total breakdown.

Blogger wrf3 July 30, 2013 10:39 AM  

Markku wrote: That doesn't save you from having to answer if the explosion was caused or uncaused.

Oh, I know. But it means I can either answer you after watching the remaining 5 hours of the video lecture, or I can take a stab at it now.

Assuming you don't want to wait, your device is an entangled system (measurement of quantum observables being entanglement). So you have both acausality (radioactive emission) and causality (the behavior of entangled systems).

So the answer to your question depends on which component you want to focus on: the random emission of particles, or the behavior of entangled systems?

Blogger wrf3 July 30, 2013 10:42 AM  

Markku wrote: Perhaps the universe samples a perfect random number generator every Planck Time to determine if the event of a delayed sort happens, or doesn't happen.

"Perfect random number generator"? Chaos at the bottom of my universe? Something that is unknowable until it's measured? Can't possibly be true, can it?

Anonymous Mudz July 30, 2013 8:12 PM  

Everything is unknown until you know it. If you can know it, it's not 'unknowable'.

Anonymous Mudzian Logic August 02, 2013 7:35 PM  

If a person doesn't know it, it is unknowable to them. And if a person cannot know it, it's unknowable.

Blogger wrf3 August 02, 2013 8:06 PM  

Mudz and Mudzian Logic:

The point isn't that a quantum state isn't unknowable. It can be measured. The key point is that the quantum object is in a superposition of states before it is measured; there is no way to predict ahead of time what the measured value will be. Even the universe doesn't know.

Theists like to argue that God is the "uncaused cause" which preceded the Big Bang. But, with quantum mechanics, uncaused causes are happening all the time.

Anonymous Mudz August 02, 2013 10:07 PM  

If a person doesn't know it, it is unknowable to them. And if a person cannot know it, it's unknowable.

You got one right. Or near enough. That's not too bad.

The point isn't that a quantum state isn't unknowable. It can be measured. The key point is that the quantum object is in a superposition of states before it is measured; there is no way to predict ahead of time what the measured value will be. Even the universe doesn't know.

Theists like to argue that God is the "uncaused cause" which preceded the Big Bang. But, with quantum mechanics, uncaused causes are happening all the time.


The quantum object is part of the universe. And the universe dosen't 'predict' it just does, according to the conditions and laws it operates by.

(And I like that. "Lots of weird little things happen that we don't understand, so ignore that humongous big thing that made the universe".)

Yes, we like to argue what's logical. 'With quantum mechanics' you have people convincing you of illogical propositions. Don't blame us because you're so eager to grab a no-God ticket. The things you believe in don't make sense. Which means your belief is insensible.

Scientists get things wrong. It just happens. There's still a whole bunch of contradictory theories on the nature of the universe, and how it began, and not a few scientists have a tendency to believe that the ones who disagree with them or operate in different fields are either wrong or moronic.

I sorry, but they're not gods, or endowed with superhuman reasoning. You are allowed to raise questions about their assumptions. They can be expert in their field, but still can make the same dumb mistakes everyone else does.

But, with quantum mechanics, uncaused causes are happening all the time.

To 'happen', it must have a cause. There must be a reason. God is called the 'uncaused cause' only because the possibility of such has been argued logically. He is uncaused, because He is eternal, and has no beginning. He didn't 'happen'.

For things to 'happen' they are contingent, and not eternal, and so they do not meet the same condition. Therefore they logically cannot be uncaused.

You can deny that 'everything that has a beginning has a cause' if you like, but at least you should understand what it is you're denying. Consistency is the key.

Anonymous Mudzian Logic August 02, 2013 11:47 PM  

"In order for chaos to be limited, it must be governed, so it can no longer be true Chaos."

Chaos organizes itself in a manner that it is limited or unlimited, so it is ungovernable.

Anonymous Mudzian Logic August 02, 2013 11:50 PM  

"For things to 'happen' they are contingent, and not eternal, and so they do not meet the same condition. Therefore they logically cannot be uncaused."

Things appear as they are not to be, which are caused by conditions not contingent upon a beginning or ending.

Blogger wrf3 August 03, 2013 3:22 PM  

Mudz wrote: To 'happen', it must have a cause. There must be a reason.

You can continue to repeat this all you want, but it is demonstrably not true. The universe happens to disagree with you. You can run the experiments yourself, if you like. Measure the spin-squared components of certain elementary spin-one particles in three orthogonal directions. You will always get some permutation of (1, 1, 0). The Kochen Specker Theorem proves that this means that the result of any individual measurement of spin was not fixed independently of the choice of measurements. Conway's Free Will Theorem uses this to show that if an experimenter has the free choice as to the orientation of the orthogonal axes to measure, then the results of the measurements cannot be determined by anything previous to the experiments.

The measurement is not contingent. Nothing in the past history of the universe has any bearing on the measurement.

Anonymous Mudz August 03, 2013 9:33 PM  

Chaos organizes itself in a manner that it is limited or unlimited, so it is ungovernable.

Logical fallacy. If it is limited, it is governed. if it organises itself, it is of course governed, by itself.

Things appear as they are not to be, which are caused by conditions not contingent upon a beginning or ending.

Lol, no.


@wrf3

You can continue to repeat this all you want, but it is demonstrably not true. The universe happens to disagree with you.

Sigh. The universe has no opinions. We have opinions. You can keep saying, 'well the universe said so' and it'll sound retarded no matter how often you say it.

The measurement is not contingent. Nothing in the past history of the universe has any bearing on the measurement.

Certainly it is. The particle had to exist. Finding yourself insufficient to the task of tracking the attitude of a particle right back to the Big Bang, and calculating it's exact properties at any given time in it's journey, does not make it 'acausal'.

The particle was caused the the big bang. It's current attidue was caused by it's interactions with other particles and forces, according to the conditions of it's own structure.

Anything else is irrelevant.

I think you might be getting confused exactly what causality is. If you're getting hung up on what 'caused' the fundaments of a particle to be the way they are, then you're asking about metaphysics. What caused the laws of nature. Why math is the way it is.

Kochen-Specker theorem is just them continuing along trying to create a full working theory of quantum mechanics without hidden variables.

"It places certain constraints on the permissible types of hidden variable theories which try to explain the apparent randomness of quantum mechanics as a deterministic model featuring hidden states."

Constraints, not elimination. They're claiming only that non-contextual hidden variable theories don't work. And because they have come up with a therem, does not settle the dispute, it is ongoing. It's simply mathematical difficulties they're having.

Hey, I can't do it, so I'm not holding it against them. I'm just sticking to my axioms and extrapolating.

"The KS theorem is an important step in the debate on the (in)completeness of quantum mechanics"

It's a theorem. And in the future another theorem could be formulated to argue against that theorem. They're trying to work out the mathematics to argue their case, where hidden variables could not be the answer.

I'm sorry, but at the heart of all mathematics is logic. Having difficulty with the mathematics does not automatically reflect upon fundamental laws of logic.

And the Free-Will Theorem is just a random 'if humans got it, all particles must'. It doesn't mean anything. It's just cute. Based on the logical inference assuming that our minds all come from particles.

Anonymous Mudz August 04, 2013 1:17 AM  

Constraints, not elimination. They're claiming only that non-contextual hidden variable theories don't work.

Sorry, that was a little unclear. I am (as far as I know) assuming a non-contextual hidden variable theory. But the salient point, is that it's a claim. I don't believe it. I'm not qualified to critique their work on this level but I just stick to basic logic, which occupies a higher position on the hierarchy. Their subsequent mathematical difficulties don't concern me much.

But anyway, it's seems I have an example of 'The Debate Continues':

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1355219804000036

Anonymous Mudz August 04, 2013 1:18 AM  

Sorry, that was a little unclear.

By unclear, I mean I made a mistake. My bad. :)

Blogger wrf3 August 04, 2013 3:07 PM  

Mudz wrote: Sigh. The universe has no opinions. We have opinions. You can keep saying, 'well the universe said so' and it'll sound retarded no matter how often you say it.

Pedant, much? If you prefer less anthropomorphic language, repeated experiments show that the universe does not act according to your intuitions. What you are saying about what the universe does, and what it actually does, are two different, incompatible things.

Certainly it is. The particle had to exist. Finding yourself insufficient to the task of tracking the attitude of a particle right back to the Big Bang, and calculating it's exact properties at any given time in it's journey, does not make it 'acausal'.

Yet that's not what is being said. Measuring the spin-squared components of certain elementary spin-one particles in three orthogonal directions always results in some permutation of (1, 1, 0). It might be (1, 1, 0). It might be (1, 0, 1), It might be (0, 1, 1). But it is impossible to tell ahead of time what the result will be, because the result isn't determined until the measurement is made. The result does not exist before the measurement.

It's current attidue [sic] was caused by it's [sic] interactions with other particles and forces, ....
And that's exactly what is not true (unless superdeterminism is true), as shown by Conway's Free Will theorem. Really, do us all a favor and spend the six hours and watch it on iTunes U. Then, if you find a flaw in the proof, by all means tell us what it is.

They're claiming only that non-contextual hidden variable theories don't work.
Kochen-Specker isn't the only result of quantum mechanics. Bell's inequalities show that no local realist hidden variable theories work. If you want to have hidden variables (i.e. some form of classical determinism), then you have to give up locality. But you can't give up locality, because of special relativity. (The post also talks about cause and effect).

There are no hidden variables. In physics, "realism" is the idea that "all objects must objectively have a pre-existing value for any possible measurement before the measurement is made." The universe isn't realist.

You think that an "uncaused cause" preceded everything and that now there are no "uncaused causes". In actual fact, uncaused events are going on all the time.

Earlier (July 30, 2013 1:06 AM), you wrote: ... Or, if I'm not smart enough, obv.

I'm not quite ready to pronounce you "not smart enough." Rather, you're like Kahn in the original Star Trek movie "The Wrath of Kahn". In one delightful scene, Kirk notices that Kahn is thinking "2 dimensionally" in his pursuit of the Enterprise. Kirk manages to out-maneuver him by moving in 3 dimensions.

In the same way, you're thinking "classicly" about the universe, using notions ingrained through your everyday experiences and intuitions. The universe isn't classical -- it's quantum. Classical behavior arises from the statistical behavior of the quantum world. And the quantum world utterly defies our everyday intuitions.

Anonymous Mudz August 06, 2013 8:52 PM  

Pedant, much? If you prefer less anthropomorphic language, repeated experiments show that the universe does not act according to your intuitions. What you are saying about what the universe does, and what it actually does, are two different, incompatible things.

In the future, the proper way to express that sentiment is: "You're wrong." Not: "I am the universe's infallible prophet'.

I reserve the right to be irritated by people trying to leverage grammar to win for them.


Yet that's not what is being said. Measuring the spin-squared components of certain elementary spin-one particles in three orthogonal directions always results in some permutation of (1, 1, 0). It might be (1, 1, 0). It might be (1, 0, 1), It might be (0, 1, 1). But it is impossible to tell ahead of time what the result will be, because the result isn't determined until the measurement is made. The result does not exist before the measurement.


The... measurement doesn't exist before the measurement?

The point being that it does have values, whether you can 'tell ahead of time' or not. I do not believe that it is suspended in a probability cloud until someone takes the time to look at it. Because why? What logical reason could there be to explain such an insensible thing? It's like another version of 'if I don't see it, it can't see me'.

And that's exactly what is not true (unless superdeterminism is true), as shown by Conway's Free Will theorem. Really, do us all a favor and spend the six hours and watch it on iTunes U. Then, if you find a flaw in the proof, by all means tell us what it is.

I told you already. It's based on an illogical premise. It's decribinng a non-reality.

Look, if they build a wormhole that takes us across the galaxy, then I'll have a material reason to think they're onto something. Until then, it's simple mathematical models that they beleive are accurate descriptions of the universe. Maybe they're right. But I'm not the only one, and indeed your link shows, that believes they're wrong. And your link also shows how even quanutm specialists believe other experts in their same field to be morons. Well, guess what, I'm going to side with the guys who I think have the more logical premise. The ones who believe that they can make sense of the universe.

Don't you realise that by definition you cannot explain or reason your side of the argument? Your argument is that there is no explanation or reason.

Anonymous Mudz August 06, 2013 8:52 PM  


There are no hidden variables. In physics, "realism" is the idea that "all objects must objectively have a pre-existing value for any possible measurement before the measurement is made." The universe isn't realist.


Quite obviously I disagree with you.

Godel's Theorem says that no complete math can ever be developed. Does that mean that maths only works part of the time?


You think that an "uncaused cause" preceded everything and that now there are no "uncaused causes". In actual fact, uncaused events are going on all the time.


And I think you're wrong. Because illogical. How do they 'go on all the time' without having a reason for happening? It's is quite frankly, stupid. You would have to rebuild our entire understanding of not just physics and math, but basic logic. Now we have the option of:

Q: "Why did this just happen?"
A: "Fuck knows."

Yes. I do think that everything that happens requires a reason. You know why, because that is literally the only sensible position. The alternative position is that it makes no sense, it shouldn't be there.

You're position is the denial of logic, as being refuted by the universe to be a conditional. That's cool, you can believe that. As long as you understand you are literally advocating an illogical position.

You can legitimately change this by saying that

Not everything that happens has a cause.

But then you have to explain why. What things can be acausal, and why Why is it different from the rest?

Christians did it with God. Now you gotta do it with quantum reality.


I'm not quite ready to pronounce you "not smart enough." Rather, you're like Kahn in the original Star Trek movie "The Wrath of Kahn". In one delightful scene, Kirk notices that Kahn is thinking "2 dimensionally" in his pursuit of the Enterprise. Kirk manages to out-maneuver him by moving in 3 dimensions.


Cute.

Anonymous Mudz August 06, 2013 8:53 PM  

In the same way, you're thinking "classicly" about the universe, using notions ingrained through your everyday experiences and intuitions. The universe isn't classical -- it's quantum. Classical behavior arises from the statistical behavior of the quantum world. And the quantum world utterly defies our everyday intuitions.

So the quantum world literally doesn't make sense. Yes, I know. I'm aware of the theory.

I believe the universe is consistent in nature. I believe that descriptions of the universe at a macro level don't fundamentally alter when you get to the micro level, except in the physical and structural differences themselves, not metaphyscial ones. The same rules apply universally, even we're not equally competent at all levels.

I believe that material nature exists, with the same applicablwe rulse, whether or not a mind happens to be watching. Otherwise, the conclusion to make is that we literally have the power to affect the universe immaterially, and we have way cool spirit powers. (Which I'm cool with, but even then, that's be a reason and a cause.)

Do you think it's just I don't want to consider that the universe is made of magic? Seriously? Do you know how cool I think that is? Do you know how much fun it'd be to rub Greek Chaos in people's faces?

The reason that I don't believe it is the same reason I don't believe in comic books. Because it's illogical, makes no sense, and is supported as a real description of the universe only by the strength of people's wishful thinking (scientists included). There is nowhere near the level of support that should be required in order to determine 'well, when we get to really small dimensions, nothing makes sense. Just everything else does. We've proved it by using our reason. Somehow.'

The idea of the most fundamental layer fundamentally making no sense is self-defeating, that's why it's stupid.

Literally all your position is, is: "I don't understand this" therefore "It's magic."

If someone comes up with a theorem that makes logical sense, then I'll believe that God trapped tiny bits of Chaos at the bottom of atoms. Until this, I'll affirm the logical position, which is that yours is illogical.

And it still wouldn't change my position on the main point, is that things require a reason, a cause. I would apply that even to chaotic realities at the bottom of atoms, unless I believed that Chaos co-existed with God, and existed eternally.

(Which I believe would still be inconsistent with your position in that there are non-eternal acausal 'happenings'.)

One fuinal clarification.

You beleive that there's Chaos at the bottom of the dreampool. Why is it only there? Why isn't the whole universe Chaos at every level? How do you create order out of chaos?

In order to impose order on Chaos, you'd have to be able to understand it, and it'd have to be able to be restricted, meaning that it observes certain laws.

So even if we do somehow show that the numbers inside an atom require us to observe it, well, that's a law too. The law of observation. Therefore it isn't random, and it isn't acausal. It coalesced in real values because we looked at it.

No matter where you go, there's causality.

Anonymous Mudz August 06, 2013 8:58 PM  

Let me put it this way, if the components are always some permutations of (1,1,0), why?

Why not (1,1,2)?

Because logic, right?

Anonymous Mudz August 06, 2013 9:13 PM  

But you can't give up locality, because of special relativity.

You might have missed the part where I'm skeptical of relativity too. In my opinion it seems we're constructing a rather large body of false knowledge.

I have nothing against them pursuing these theories, but I feel no compulsion to believe everything they say. A contradiction of logic, I think, is a pretty good indication that they have to go back over their work again.

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