homepage
  roll on christmas  
click here to find out more about ship of fools click here to sign up for the ship of fools newsletter click here to support ship of fools
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
discussion boards live chat cafe avatars frequently-asked questions the ten commandments gallery private boards register for the boards
 
Ship of Fools


Post new thread  Post a reply
My profile login | | Directory | Search | FAQs | Board home
   - Printer-friendly view Next oldest thread   Next newest thread
» Ship of Fools   » Ship's Locker   » Limbo   » Purgatory: An introduction (Page 5)

 - Email this page to a friend or enemy.  
Pages in this thread: 1  2  3  4  5  6 
 
Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: An introduction
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Sorry, that was Willyburger, not Freddy.

While we are doing apologies, sorry about post after post on this one. It is the only way that I can answer everyone.

If anyone has any better ideas, send a postcard to the address appearing at the end of the programme.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:

Freddy
It does seem strange that if reasoning and logic are important, it would be unimportant that life would have no cause, purpose or meaning beyond evolution. Why would logic be of value within a system that is ultimately absurd?

Are you saying that the fact that a chair is a chair and not an elephant is something that adds value to life?

Logic is not about purpose, it is fundamental common sense. Of a thing is then it is. That is logic. If a thing is one thing it cannot be another thing. That is logic. Its hardly mind-blowing stuff.

I am curious why people think there should be a purpose to life? I don't even see the need for there to be a purpose in life, let alone seeing an actual one being worked out in this vale of tears.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:

Freehand:
I can't see any way to bring them together. We're really arguing about which should be the optional premise. Is God the optional premise or is science the optional premise.

I take it by science you mean the materialistic viewpoint because, of course, science is not an optional premise. Not anymore. As Alan pointed out on a different thread, the computer you use is dependant on the weirdness of quantum mechanics. If you thin science is optional, remove it from your life and see the difference it makes. No TV/Radio/electricity (all developed by Faraday/Maxwell etc).

So, science is not an option. It is a fundamental part of our modern world. What may be optional is the hypothesis that there is no God, just materialism.

quote:

To be fair, the real options that we're talking about are:
1. God
2. God + science (order debatable)
3. Science
In this context, Occam's razor isn't any help except to cut out some common ground that we may have. If we don't agree on authority, then we'll have a hard time coming to an consensus.

From what I have just said, number 1 can be removed. There is a materialistic world, and science is a very important part of that now. God cannot be used as an explanation on his own.
That leaves us with 2 or 3. As God is non-falisifiable, he cannot be invoked as a scientific explanation, so it is not possible to combine God and science. That leaves 3 on its own.

I may have got this wroing, but I am unsure of the terminollogy. You seem to be using 'science' in different contexts.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Freehand

The sound of one hand clapping
# 144

 - Posted      Profile for Freehand   Email Freehand   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
So, are you saying in different terminology...

1. Materialistic world
2. Materialistic world + God

That makes more sense to me. Science seems to refer more to a process rather than to something objective (for lack of a better word).

Freehand


Posts: 673 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I'm off now, Freehand, but yes that is better terminollogy.

Occams razor does work then if they both explain things as well. If there were evidence for God then 1. wouldn't.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Freehand

The sound of one hand clapping
# 144

 - Posted      Profile for Freehand   Email Freehand   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I guess what I was commenting on was Occam's razer applied to the spiritual exeriences rather than to the material world. In this context I was talking about science and God as explanations for these experiences rather than as material objects in an of themselves. (I can visualize God as an "object", but I see science as a process).

Science by itself falls woefully short when trying to explain spirituality, at least in many people's opinion. When people have a wonderful experience of God that sets them free, they don't want that attributed to the pizza that they ate at midnight.

Freehand


Posts: 673 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The sceptical Atheist:
We know exactly what happened at the first moments of the Big Bang

Not according to any cosmologist I know of; if this were the case Hawking et al would be out of a job. You mention helium abundance, which is good solid data that confirms several variations on the Big Bang theory and rules out a larger number of other theories (steady-state for example). But that is data relating to the later phases of the expansion (when the universe was 3-4 minutes old). I was refering to much earlier stages in the early universe; there is, after all, no really good data to support inflation (all though it is generally accepted to be the best theory for that stage) much less what the universe was like prior to inflation. I have difficulty even thinking of what OF evidence could theoretically be generated to test theories for these phases of the Big Bang expansion, these theories have to rely on acceptance upon consistancy with better established theories and such subjective things as simplicity and elegance.

It was this area of science I was getting at as an example of theories that are fundamentally incapable of testing against OF evidence. There are other areas where theoretically OF evidence could be found but where the practicalities of obtaining such evidence makes such evidence (at present) unobtainable. The lack of OF evidence does not, however, stop scientists working. We're a pragmatic lot - if we can't get the best data we'll make do with what we have.

So, if in fields of scientific studies non-OF evidence is routinely used to determine the best theory to fit available (non-OF) data, then using similar evidence in non-scientific fields such as philosophy or even theology isn't such a problem. To me at least.

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
gandalf35
Shipmate
# 934

 - Posted      Profile for gandalf35   Email gandalf35   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I have often wondered if when I blink my eyes does everything else dissapear?

Descartes says "I think therefore I am.". This seems to imply that the only evidence of our own existence is our ability to think. This in turn spins deeper into the concept that the fact that we think of god in some way proves his existence.

Some may argue tha Descartes statement was onl philisophical, I think not (oops)....

--------------------
Life is like a bowl of cherries... Mmmm cherries...


Posts: 185 | From: If hell exists, I live there. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ham'n'Eggs

Ship's Pig
# 629

 - Posted      Profile for Ham'n'Eggs   Email Ham'n'Eggs   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
SA,

Either I am being simplistic, or you are overstating the case. Either way, I think that you are having difficulty in considering viewpoints other than strict materialism, and also are not the slightest bit sceptical about reason!

The model answer supplied by the H&E Matriculation Board was:

The key to the application of William of Occam's razor to the two metaphysical viewpoints of strict materialism and sollipsism lies in the acceptance of reason as a presupposition.

If reason is presupposed, the observer's mind exists with perceptions which are ordered through the application of reason into the impression of external reality.

If reason is not presupposed, the observer's mind exists with perceptions, which require no ordering.

Therefore, given Occam's razor, reason and reality are superfluous to our requirements.

I think that you will agree that the above is a lot simpler, and more elegant...

--------------------
"...the heresies that men do leave / Are hated most of those they did deceive" - Will S


Posts: 3103 | From: Genghis Khan's sleep depot | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
gandalf35
Shipmate
# 934

 - Posted      Profile for gandalf35   Email gandalf35   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
To all who
A) Did not understand my post.
B) Did not like my post
C) Just thought it was in bad form
D) Think I'm an Idiot

D is the corrct answere, but that is besides the point.

I apologize, I was not really trying to interject any real insight on this subject.
I just chose an inapropriate time to tell a very bad joke.

Again I apologize
Gandalf.

--------------------
Life is like a bowl of cherries... Mmmm cherries...


Posts: 185 | From: If hell exists, I live there. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Justin
Shipmate
# 693

 - Posted      Profile for Justin   Email Justin   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I guess I would like to ask SA a question. How does a scientist know that he/she has a correct theory (or how does an atheist know they are correct)?

My point is this. According to strict classical materialism the brain consists of atoms. These atoms obey the laws of physics. The system is complicated, sure, unpredictable in practice, but not necessarily in principle. Therefore the brain, this computer made of meat, is responding to stimuli in a predictable way. So, let's say I ask some dunderhead what 2 plus 2 make, and they say 5, I would say they are wrong. But hold on, my brain is also just a computer made of meat, reacting to its own set of inputs, the atoms in my head are all a-jiggling to give the answer 4. Why are the atoms in my cranium right and the other guys wrong? Both, after all, are simply arrangements of atoms. Where is the standard by which we should judge? Compare with experiment you say. But who does the comparison? Just another set of atoms. But most people would say 4, I hear you say. Fine, but so what. They are all little atoms themselves, merrily interacting with each other according to strict physical law. Reason is not democracy.

My view is that if someone is really searching for a basis for rational belief in God, the best place to start is to ask if they believe in themselves. That is to say, do they think they actually have a choice in what they believe? To put it another way, does reason itself exist. If we are simply material ( at least in the classical sense), then garbage in would produce garbage out. Atoms don't reason, they conform to physical law.

Strict materialism would say that I am no longer free to love my spouse: there is no such thing as love (it is merely a biological reaction in the brain), no freedom (the reaction proceeds according to the classical laws of physics and chemistry) and no 'I' (for I am simply the collection of atoms). Note, however, that even for the sake of making a point on a thread, I venture not to deny the existence of my spouse.

So, SA, is your reply to this post pre-determined, or have you a choice in the matter. Am I writing to just a bunch of classical atoms?

--------------------
I'm an experimentalist. Please
speak slowly.


Posts: 91 | From: Bucks, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Justin
Shipmate
# 693

 - Posted      Profile for Justin   Email Justin   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
And anuvver fing that folks may (or, most likely, may not) find interesting whilst on the subject of OF, is Godel's theorem.

Kurt Godel, the brilliant Austrian mathematician, is famous for his theory of undecidable propositions that he proved in the mid 1930s. It is an amazing piece of work, not least because it showed that Russell and Whitehead were wrong!

Anyroadup, in simple language, Godel showed that one can construct mathematical systems which contain statements that are true but not provable . This piece of mathematics is revolutionary, and has tremendous consequences. That is to say, we now know, from mathematics, that provability is a weaker notion than truth.

A good explanation can be found in Hofstater's prize winning 'Godel. Escher, Bach' (that said, he is a strong AI person!).

An interesting point about Godel's theorem is that it generally applies to self-referential systems. So, if from mathematics we know that things can be true, but not provable.....

--------------------
I'm an experimentalist. Please
speak slowly.


Posts: 91 | From: Bucks, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Sceptical Atheist:
I admit that my system is not provable. What I am saying is that, without evidence, we cannot use the God hypothesis, so the two systems are not equal.

quote:
Sceptical Atheist:
No. My system does not require faith. It does require reason and philosophy, but I do not need to prove a negative. The burden of proof lies on you to show that God exists. Until then, I can assume reasonably that he doesn't. That is not a faith based position at all!

Heh....I'm not arguing *for* theism since I'm not a theist. I'm trying to point out that there are unprovable presuppositions in either case.

You already admit that there are unprovables in your view. I believe that you and I already discussed what state(s) might pertain as a precursor to the Big Bang; either an uncaused cause or an infinite regress. Without evidence, how do either of these differ from the "God Hypothesis? If neither of these are provable, yet you or I find them a reasonable explanation, how is that different from faith?

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:

Alan:
Not according to any cosmologist I know of; if this were the case Hawking et al would be out of a job.

No they won't. We know all about stars but there are still plenty of astrophysicists working on the subject.

quote:
You mention helium abundance, which is good solid data that confirms several variations on the Big Bang theory and rules out a larger number of other theories (steady-state for example). But that is data relating to the later phases of the expansion (when the universe was 3-4 minutes old). I was refering to much earlier stages in the early universe;

We have tested theories that take us back to 1X10 ^-32 of a second. How come Steven Weinbergs book written in the 70's ends at the three minute point. That is because it becomes boring then. It is known beforehand and tested in the particle accelorators.

quote:

there is, after all, no really good data to support inflation (all though it is generally accepted to be the best theory for that stage)

The universe is flat (three dimensionally flat not curved like a sphere or a hyperbola). That is evidence for inflation. That was the reason the theory was brought forward. That is falsifiable evidence.

Mathematical theories can give falsifiable evidence too. If the inflationary theory produced a Helium abundance of 30% then we would not be discussing it now. It explains all the things the old BB theory did, and some more besides.

Inflation is testable by examining details in the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background for the non-geeks). That has always been possible, giving falsifiable evidence. This has been done: Read this. I read of this about the time, with interest. Note especially this quote "If no peaks had shown up, inflation would have difficulties," added Carlstrom, who led the DASI team. "We'd be back to the drawing board."

So, I still strongly disagree with your point that non-OF evidence is used in developing theories. In the example you cite, OF evidence has always been available, in the form of the flat universe, mathematics and the CMB. We have only recently had the ability to examine the CMB closely enough though.

So, where else in science is non-OF evidence used?

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
SA, thanks for that link. I wasn't aware of the latest predictions of harmonics in the CMB let alone recent measurements showing these. This was all unknown when I did my astrophysics and cosmology at university, and I've evidently not been keeping as up to date with scientific advances as I'd like to be.

Just to be pedantic, the flatness of the universe (as opposed to the harmonics in the CMB) can't really be considered OF evidence for inflation since inflation theory was developed to explain this fact of the universe. Greater confidence in inflation still doesn't help with what happened before inflation; and since inflation would've erased most (if not all) evidence about what the universe was like before I still can't see any really good data in support of any theories developed for this phase in the universe.

You asked about other fields of science where non-OF evidence is routinely used. The obvious examples I can think of are other sciences which depend almost exclusively on forensic data (ie: looking at the effects of events that are themselves not observable); in addition to cosmology I would include some parts of astrophysics (eg: studies of black holes which by definition we can't see but can see the effects of), geology and planetary sciences, paleantology and evolutionary biology, archaeology etc. All of these sciences have good theories and data, but may often not have the data to fully test OF theories.

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Gill,
SA, I shall repeat here the question I asked you elsewhere, because we might tease something out of it.
Could 'unanswered prayer' be explained by God's allowing for the possibility of OF evidence for Himself?

If prayer were ALWAYS answered, then indeed God would not fit your criteria. But...?

(And yes, how does one measure it, and what does one ask for - but still, it's there in MY life. I never DID hold truck with 'Yes', 'No', and 'Wait'..." Christian Cop-out.)


I will put this question on the 'prayers answered thread and answer it there.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Ham'n'Eggs
Either I am being simplistic, or you are overstating the case. Either way, I think that you are having difficulty in considering viewpoints other than strict materialism, and also are not the slightest bit sceptical about reason!

Hey, H&E, I was just answering that query. In terms of that query, I presupposed reason and went on in much more detail than a model answer for a couple of points on an exam. I am trying to explain it in ways that people unfamiliar with this sort of discussion can follow. I am not going to go back to "how do we know reason is there, or anything is" every time I answer a question on this thread. I have pointed out before that I accept reason as a method for arriving at truth already, so I shouldn't need to again. I am sceptical about reason, I am constantly trying out alternatives to reason, but so far they have all been unreliable, so reason still works for me.

quote:
The model answer supplied by the H&E Matriculation Board was:

The key to the application of William of Occam's razor to the two metaphysical viewpoints of strict materialism and sollipsism lies in the acceptance of reason as a presupposition.

If reason is presupposed, the observer's mind exists with perceptions which are ordered through the application of reason into the impression of external reality.

If reason is not presupposed, the observer's mind exists with perceptions, which require no ordering.

Therefore, given Occam's razor, reason and reality are superfluous to our requirements.

I think that you will agree that the above is a lot simpler, and more elegant...


I don't understand it! Sorry, why should the ordering of things be important? It must be the terminology that I don't follow. It is simpler, more elegant, but it doesn't explain anything.

So, at the moment, I don't think this is relevant to the question of evidence for God. I think we can both agree that sollipsism isn't a valid worldview, but where does that take us?

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
gandalf35
I apologize, I was not really trying to interject any real insight on this subject.
I just chose an inapropriate time to tell a very bad joke.

No need to apologise, Gandalf, I thought it a great post. Humour is an oasis in a heavy thread like this.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
DebyeWaller
I guess I would like to ask SA a question. How does a scientist know that he/she has a correct theory (or how does an atheist know they are correct)?

Pierre Duhem asked this question in the 19th century. He said, basically, that it was impossible. I disagree. We can never know we are right, but we can become more less wrong all the time. Saying the Earth is a sphere is wrong, but its not as wrong as saying it is flat. Science is continually striving to be right, and getting closer, but it may be impossible to even know, if we could possibly get there, that we have arrived.

quote:
My point is this. According to strict classical materialism the brain consists of atoms. These atoms obey the laws of physics. The system is complicated, sure, unpredictable in practice, but not necessarily in principle.

QM shows that we cannot know anything about things like atoms in principle. This is the start of the wierdness that is Quantum Mechanics.

quote:
But most people would say 4, I hear you say. Fine, but so what. They are all little atoms themselves, merrily interacting with each other according to strict physical law. Reason is not democracy.

Logic dictates that 2+2=4. Get two things, then get another two things. Count them. This is the clever bit, whatever you choose to be your 'things', as long as they don't merge or disappear you will always count four things. You can choose galaxiers or ants, you will get the same answer. You may say that 2 + 2 = 5, but you will never be able to show it.

quote:
To put it another way, does reason itself exist. If we are simply material ( at least in the classical sense), then garbage in would produce garbage out. Atoms don't reason, they conform to physical law.

But a non-deterministic law, that of QM, which is probabalistic.

quote:
Strict materialism would say that I am no longer free to love my spouse: there is no such thing as love (it is merely a biological reaction in the brain), no freedom (the reaction proceeds according to the classical laws of physics and chemistry) and no 'I' (for I am simply the collection of atoms). Note, however, that even for the sake of making a point on a thread, I venture not to deny the existence of my spouse.

You show why you think in such a deterministic way, because you think along classical lines. QM says that things are not determined beforehand.

quote:
So, SA, is your reply to this post pre-determined, or have you a choice in the matter. Am I writing to just a bunch of classical atoms?

Yes, you are writing to just a bunch of atoms. Do I have free will? I don't know. I have all the appearances of having free will, so whether I actually do is not important. Does is matter that I had no choice, that it was "written" in the universes laws that I would marry my wife? No. To all intents and purposes, I chose to marry my wife.

quote:
Anyroadup, in simple language, Godel showed that one can construct mathematical systems which contain statements that are true but not provable . This piece of mathematics is revolutionary, and has tremendous consequences. That is to say, we now know, from mathematics, that provability is a weaker notion than truth.

What about the diagonal rule (as per Turing)? No system of mathematics can contain within it all the possible maths from any particular system of axioms. So, take any mathematical system and there will be something that cannot be proven from it.

This means that if we are talking about reality, this idea is not relevant. Our understanding is botched together from many different theories, not a set number of axioms.

This whole subject is fascinating, though. How much can we prove? Is an interesting topic in its own right.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Willburger
You already admit that there are unprovables in your view. I believe that you and I already discussed what state(s) might pertain as a precursor to the Big Bang; either an uncaused cause or an infinite regress. Without evidence, how do either of these differ from the "God Hypothesis? If neither of these are provable, yet you or I find them a reasonable explanation, how is that different from faith?

Okay, I will come clean. This is my real view on the subject: I don't care. I am not concerned with what was before the universe. Until more information comes in, we cannot know what came before, so if I cannot know, I am not going to speculate. What is clear is that a materialistic answer is possible. If a materialistic answer was not, then my position would be shakey. If we can get some more information that can give us more detail about this subject, then I will be as curious as anyone, but it is clear that to rely on the First Cause argument for God is a weak resort to a God-of-the-gaps which I doubt anyone here would really subscribe to.

It is not enough to say the two systems are unprovable, if the two systems are unprovable but one contains a being for which there is no evidence then that one can, by Occams razor, be removed.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
SA, thanks for that link. I wasn't aware of the latest predictions of harmonics in the CMB let alone recent measurements showing these. This was all unknown when I did my astrophysics and cosmology at university, and I've evidently not been keeping as up to date with scientific advances as I'd like to be.
Just to be pedantic, the flatness of the universe (as opposed to the harmonics in the CMB) can't really be considered OF evidence for inflation since inflation theory was developed to explain this fact of the universe.

So, we have a feature. To explain that feature we produce a theory, and then you say we cannot use that feature to test the theory against? This isn't circular reasonong, because new measurements could show that the universe is not as flat as first thought.

I think, Alan, that you are adding 'empirical' as a criteria as well as OF. A mathematical theory is not empirical, but it is objective, and it is falsifable.

quote:
Greater confidence in inflation still doesn't help with what happened before inflation; and since inflation would've erased most (if not all) evidence about what the universe was like before I still can't see any really good data in support of any theories developed for this phase in the universe.

No, but as what happened before is beyond Planck time, it is fundamentally unknowable. String theory makes inroads into this, but that makes predictions in other areas that have not borne fruit yet. So, apart from string theory, how many theories (as a pose to hypotheses) are there about what was before this point? I know aof many ideas, but none that has reached the level of theory.

quote:
You asked about other fields of science where non-OF evidence is routinely used. The obvious examples I can think of are other sciences which depend almost exclusively on forensic data (ie: looking at the effects of events that are themselves not observable); in addition to cosmology I would include some parts of astrophysics (eg: studies of black holes which by definition we can't see but can see the effects of), geology and planetary sciences, paleantology and evolutionary biology, archaeology etc. All of these sciences have good theories and data, but may often not have the data to fully test OF theories.

That is wrong. Geology can test and experiment and come up with theories to explain how rocks form which can be falsified in many ways. What happens inside a black hole is determined by predictions made by the Theory of Relativity (ToR). So, any theory about the insides of blackholes can be falsified against the ToR.

There are gaps in our knowledge, but that does not mean they will never be filled. Scientific, falsifiable, objective work has been done on the evolution of flight in insects. We know how flight must have evolved in insects, and how. What we do not have, and may never is the actual fossils. That does not mean that the work is not falsifiable, or not scientific at all.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
In summary, as long as both syestems are perceived to be the same, e.g if they are both unproveable, then because the material world+God has an extra hypothesis, it loses out. If they both explain the data the same.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]

Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
There are gaps in our knowledge, but that does not mean they will never be filled

I obviously agree that our scientific knowledge is incomplete, otherwise I wouldn't be working to fill in those gaps in my, admittedly, very small way. However I must also say that there probably are gaps in our knowledge that may never be filled. There are bound to be transitional organisms which have not been preserved in the fossil record, and the chance of finding rocks showing conclusive data to prove theories of how biological life started is very slim to put it mildly. Now that doesn't mean I disregard as un-scientific theories that require such data to be conclusively proved. As long as the theory describes the data available even if that data may not be ideal I'll accept it (unless a better theory is discovered/invented - I'm not sure if theories are discovered or invented )

My point about geology is that not every theory of geology can be tested experimentally; you can't recreate the heat, pressure and chemical composition of rocks in the mantle within the laboratory any more than recreate the conditions within a black hole. Like the other fields I mentioned you gather data (both laboratory experiments and field observations) and test theories against them as far as possible, these theories are then extrapolated to conditions that are not directly testable with current laboratory equipment or observational techniques. As a scientist I have to live with the fact that many good theories lack the data to be conclusively proved as OF. That doesn't stop me applying such theories (although admittedly in my current field of work the theoretical basis is very sound).

One more thing, yes I am saying that empirical data is a vital element in scientific research. Any theory must agree with empirical data. I would, however, add that most empirical data is not entirely objective; there is a certain amount of subjectivity in how the scientist who collected the data decided to conduct the experiment, which equipment he chose to use etc. And, especially when you enter quantum measurements, there is always the chance that the act of observing subtly alters what is observed. In some fields (psychology for example) the subjective element in data is more obvious, but there is always a subjective element in scientific data. Of course, a perfect OF theory should be able to account for such subjectivity but nothing is perfect is it.

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
But, Alan, The theories must never go beyond what can be safely extrapolated.

I would argue that a theory that is subjective (in that only a few people would, in principle, not because of education, ever be able to see it) is not a scientific theory.

I would also argue that any theory that is in pronciple non-falsifiable is not scientific.

Not all our ideas are observable (as you say about geology) BUT if a geologist describes a theory about the centre of the Earth the theory must be objective (i.e. anyone trained in geology can have access to the theory) and it must be falsifiable. There must be a possible exoeriment or observation that could make it fail.

e.g. If a geologist makes a theory that limestone is formed at the centre of the earth, the theory must be so phrased to sya that "but if X is seen we know it has failed" and the X must be as a consequence of the theory. It might be that he might say that if we see limestone forming a different way it wlll be falsified. Then the hunt will be on to see if that could be found.

I personally think, Alan, that you have a lot more to do with OF theories than you realise, but haven't actually sat down and thought about the way in which it applies.

I have yet to read of any scientific endeavour that has anything to do with non-falsifiable propositions.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
SA, after reviewing this thread (from memory, I haven't re-read all of it) I think we may be using the same terms for slightly different things. In particular the term "OF evidence", I should have realised this earlier but that's my fault. Let me explain how I view science without reference to the rest of this thread.

Science consists of two components; empirical data and theories that explain that data and predict further data.

Preferably the data should be 100% objective, but in practice subjectivity influences the data since they are collected by human scientists with their own agendas and prejudices (which affect which experiments are conducted, and how, and depend on the theories accepted by the scientist). Such data is rarely, if ever, complete and perfect due to imperfect instruments, limited time and finances and inherent problems with data collection (in the case of sciences such as geology and paleantology the record may be incomplete, in quantum sciences there are fundamental limits to what can be measured).

Whereas data is the raw material of science, inorder to make sense of that data we need theoretical frameworks. Theories are usually more objective than the data they explain, but only a theory expressed solely in mathematical terms is absolutely objective; many good theories contain little or no mathematics (evolution for example), but that doesn't make them less scientific. Theories are descriptive of prior data and predictive of future data; if predictions can be tested experimentally then the theory is falsifiable, some phenomena (either certain events occuring or not) can't occur if the theory is correct. Some theories make predictions which (at least with current instruments) can not be tested, which means they can't be proved; however this also doesn't make them non-scientific (this is evidently something we'll disagree on).

The gold standard of science are objective, falsifiable theories. However, as I've said many theories are not as objective or falsifiable as we might like. Scientists, being a pragmatic lot, work with the best theories available and seek to improve upon them as theoretical methods and data progress.

Note that I apply the term "objective, falsifiable" to theories, the data simply is. Thus, if you think of "evidence" as the data on which theories are built and tested by you cannot have OF evidence; the best you can have is objective data, and as noted most data has a subjective component. I'm not sure, but I think this may be at the root of our disagreement about whether there can be good science which is not OF.

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Justin
Shipmate
# 693

 - Posted      Profile for Justin   Email Justin   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The sceptical Atheist:
QM shows that we cannot know anything about things like atoms in principle. This is the start of the wierdness that is Quantum Mechanics.

That is not strictly true. Quantum mechanics restricts what we can know with perfect precision to sets of eigenvectors of commuting operators, but that is certainly knowing something. I can, for example, know both the total and Z component of the angular momentum of an atom simultaneously because the del-squared operation and d/dphi commute. On the other hand, I cannot know the position of the electron because the x operator does not commute with (say) the momentum operator. Strangely, I have some choice over what I know, so I could pick the Y component of angular momentum, but then I would not know the X and Z, and so on.

Indeed, atoms are the source of the best piece of knowledge mankind has. The difference in energy between the two most tightly bound states in hydrogen is known to 1 part in (1/137)**8 -and is the most accurately known number in the universe. If the human race knows anything at all, it knows what happens in the simplest atom!

Furthermore, of course, what is weird about quantum mechanics is that the bit we do understand is deterministic, i.e. in the Schrodinger representation the equations are totally deterministic. The problem arises in the interpretation of the determined function multiplied by its complex conjugate as a probability - i.e. the measurement problem.

However, even appealing to QM, the choice and reason argument remains. So now the bunch of atoms has some fuzzy probability of getting different answers. I'm sorry, I still don't see why 2 + 2 is 4. What do you mean you line them up and count them. You are atoms. How do atoms count atoms? Beats me.

--------------------
I'm an experimentalist. Please
speak slowly.


Posts: 91 | From: Bucks, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Justin
Shipmate
# 693

 - Posted      Profile for Justin   Email Justin   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Whoops, of course I meant eigenvalues, not eigenvectors..., given that's what we measure.

--------------------
I'm an experimentalist. Please
speak slowly.

Posts: 91 | From: Bucks, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Justin
Shipmate
# 693

 - Posted      Profile for Justin   Email Justin   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The sceptical Atheist:
QM says that things are not determined beforehand.

Again, please be careful. This is not quite true. If a system is in an eigenstate of the operator corresponding to my measurement, then the result is completely determined beforehand with 100% probability.

I know what you mean, but QM does not say 'anything goes'. If I am perverse enough to choose a different operator, then the outcome is not determined, and I must expand my state vector into the complete set of the eigenstates, and do the dot products to get the coefficients corresponding to the probabilities.

I still maintain that QM does not help with the reason line of thinking.

--------------------
I'm an experimentalist. Please
speak slowly.


Posts: 91 | From: Bucks, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The sceptical Atheist:
Okay, I will come clean. This is my real view on the subject: I don't care. I am not concerned with what was before the universe.

The preceding trucated quote is in the interest of avoiding overly-long posts.
Anyone who wants to refer back may do so.

S.A., please don't feel I'm trying to back you into a corner about this. It's just that when I toss this subject out, you throw it back so well.

To be honest, I am coming to the conclusion that Empiricism is an inadequate epistemology because, as we agree, one can't know anything about what happened 'before' the Big Bang. In other words, here is a fundamental question that empiricism cannot address.

I don't think it is sufficient to merely state that if we cannot observe something then it is irrelavant or non-existent, which is the basic dogma of empiricism. Whatever gave rise to the BB is surely neither.

Occam's Razor is applied to choose the simpler explanation. Does either an Uncaused Cause (God) or an Uncaused Effect (the Universe) really qualify?

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I have been thinking about this while not at work, Willy. You are suggesting an intelligence existed and directed the formation of the universe, I am sugesting that it was a quantum fluctuation, or something similar.

So, on the question of the first cause, we have:

1. Something all Good, all Mercy all Love that you say existed before the universe.
2. A contiunuation of what we observe now and that we now occurred at least to a tiny portion of a second after the big bang to a point just before that second.

Given that there is evidence for 2. available to us now, and no evidence for 1. Which is the more possible explanation?

For 1. We need to work out how God came into being. He is greater than the universe, so saying "Empiricism isn't effective because you can't explain the first cause" is silly. You are proposing that a thing greater than the universe is the first cause. You then speculate that this entity is eternal, and so intelligence, goodness, mercy and love existed before the universe. That is totally unwarranted.

I say that a quantum fluctuation caused the universe and that there has been no such thing as intelligence, goodness, mercy and love until humans arrived. I claim that for the first 6 billion (roughly) years only physical laws have directed the evolution of the universe. I claim that when life started on this planet there was no intelligence existing. I claim that intelligence only arrived in the universe with the first multicelled animals. I claim that concepts such as goodness, mercy and love have only been around as long as humans have.

If you have no evidence to say that merrcy existed before life on earth, then citing God as a first cause fails.

I stand by what I said before, empiricism does explain the universe and also explains the first cause better than the introduction of a hyper intelligence that begs the question "what caused that?" in a bigger way than a quantum fluctuaction does.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
SA:
1. Something all Good, all Mercy all Love that you say existed before the universe.

I'm pretty sure that I had taken care to explain that I am *not* arguing for Theism but am exploring the limits of Material Monism. I am no longer convinced that it is as cut-and-dried as I used to think. What I am suggesting about Theism and Athiesm are not mutually-exclusive.


quote:
SA:
Given that there is evidence for (2.) available to us now, and no evidence for 1. Which is the more possible explanation?

I believe that Alan pointed out that the only effects observable from the BB is post-inflationary? The rest is theoretical framework. And I think that each has internal contradictions which gives advantage to neither.

quote:
SA:
I say that a quantum fluctuation caused the universe....

Here is the heart of it. You posit that the empirical evidence and the theory derived from the study of QM is applicable to the state that gave rise to the BB. You also say that this chain of events is uncaused while cause-and-effect is at the heart of empiricism and rationality.

So, on the one hand, you are claiming knowledge of the First Event using empirical evidence of quantum fluctuation, yet on the other hand, you are denying the empirical evidence of cause and effect and positing an Uncaused Event. Why does one type of empirical evidence hold but not the other? Is this not contradiction? Is there any evidence whatsoever that what we have observed of QM is valid in the pre-BB state and that cause and effect is not?

All I am saying is that the basis of Atheism is as inherently contradictory as Theism and to accept either as a worldview takes faith. (that dirty word)

quote:
SA:
the introduction of a hyper intelligence that begs the question "what caused that?" in a bigger way than a quantum fluctuaction does.

Hmm, to digress down the theological path for a moment, anything eternal has no need of a cause. But that is one reason I consider both worldviews to be equally contradictory.


Thanks for the ride. If this isn't the direction you wish to take this thread I will desist. But, damn, it's fun.

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Alan,
The data is objective, I would claim. Measurements are made that anyone can reproduce. If we take a simple example, the rates at which liquids boil at different pressures, the data is objective. I could get the same instruments and get the same results. To allow for the discrepancies due to poor equipment, an error bar is used, showing the range of confidence in the data. That error bar is also objective. If I did the experiments and gave an error bar of +/-1% you could challenge my use of that level of error. The experiment can be repeated by anyone with the right equipment. If the experiment cannot be repeated, then it can be considered defunct as science. The imperfection of the data should not be confused with it being subjective.

What is impotant is that any theory built from the data is falsifiable. If it is not falsifiable then it is pseudoscience. That is one of the definitions of pseudoscience. It is possible that a theory may be falsifiable in principle, but not in practice such as any theory discussing what is on the dark side if the moon before spaceflight. What makes any theory based on it falsifiable is the fact that in the 1940's it was possible to make a theory of the form "If spaceflight means we can go behind the moon, we will find X." That is a falsifiable theory. The Big Bang theory was of that sort for a long time. Then the method of testing for it was devised, and co-incidentally, the test was done at the same time by two people looking for something else. So, as long as a method for falsifiying them when instruments get better is available, the theory is scientific.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Debye:
(SNIPPED due to space and my inability to find anything wrong with what is said.)
However, even appealing to QM, the choice and reason argument remains. So now the bunch of atoms has some fuzzy probability of getting different answers. I'm sorry, I still don't see why 2 + 2 is 4. What do you mean you line them up and count them. You are atoms. How do atoms count atoms? Beats me.

From a study of simple animals, we know how simple nervous systems control the sense data that they receive and motor functions of the body parts. In higher animals, such as insects we are aware that behaviour is controlled by nerves, hormones and pheromones. In higher invertebrates (such as molluscs) we can see how the brain works when learning a maze. This also shows that memory is possible. We can measure intelligence in vertebrates and study the hand/brain co-ordination in apes. We can use MR scanners to see the physical parts of the brain that are used in tasks and we can study brain damaged people to see what effect brain damage has on different parts of the brain.

We know that mathematics and spatial awareness is processed in one half of the brain and that linguistic ability is processed in the other.

So, when you ask how do atoms count atoms, do you mean how do we speak or how do we understand the concept of numbers? Depending on the answer, a different explanation is necessary.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Willburger:
S.A., please don't feel I'm trying to back you into a corner about this. It's just that when I toss this subject out, you throw it back so well.
To be honest, I am coming to the conclusion that Empiricism is an inadequate epistemology because, as we agree, one can't know anything about what happened 'before' the Big Bang. In other words, here is a fundamental question that empiricism cannot address.

Don't worry, Willy. This is the best way to see if my system is worth holding onto. If it can't stand up to a little criticism, then it is worthless.

Okay, so I am honest. I say that the evidence goes this far and no further. You say this is a flaw, I say this shows the system can be trusted as far as it can make any claims. It makes no claims that cannot be justified. You say that before the universe a hyper-intelligence existed. You cannot back up this claim in any way at all. That is an unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable (neologism alert) claim. Any epistemological system that requires claims that are, in principle, impossible to refute in any possible way is flawed. My explanation can be falsified. There are tests that can be done that can ruin my position. There is none for yours. That means my system has survived empirical tests. Yours is not capable of dealing with one. No possible test could show your system is wrong. That is a major flaw.


quote:
Occam's Razor is applied to choose the simpler explanation. Does either an Uncaused Cause (God) or an Uncaused Effect (the Universe) really qualify?

Yes. We have the universe. We know the universe exists. So, what is required is to find out what could have caused it. I say 'more of the same' which is simple. You say that a totally new layer of untestable reality and intelligence exists now and existed before anything that we know of existed. That is a hypothesis that is unnecessary to use to explain the universe as we see it. I will drop this objection if evidence is produced.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:

Willyburber:
So, on the one hand, you are claiming knowledge of the First Event using empirical evidence of quantum fluctuation, yet on the other hand, you are denying the empirical evidence of cause and effect and positing an Uncaused Event.

Willy, don't give up on me now. I think we are talking past each other, I am not quite sure what you are getting at. What you are claiming could be very important, but I am trying to make it clear in my own head.

We have empirical evidence that suggests all the energy in the Universe cancels out. That means the sum total energy of teh universe as seen from outside is zero. That is evidence for a quantum fluctuation.

What we know is that QM says virtual particles have been around as long as we can measure the universe. That takes us back to a tiny fraction of a second after the BB.

So, we have two pieces of empirical evidence that suggest a quantum fluctuation. I am not saying this is a theory. This is a hypothesis.

Are you saying that the materialist worldview is contradictory because we may never know what happened before the BB?

I think that is a specious claim to make. The materialist point of view says there is no supernatural. If we come to a point where the answer becomes fundamentally "We don't know" it is perfectly legitimate to say "But it ain't the supernatural" if no other evidence whatsoever supports the supernatural.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
SA, a few comments to clarify my position on what is good science. I'll emphasise a few key points for clarity since this could be a long post.

I agree that good science produces theories which are in principle falsifiable, although it may be that the data to actually prove/disprove them may never be available. A theory of the early stages of the Big Bang, say, might predict what conditions existed before inflation, but inflation itself smoothed out the data that would verify that theory; if we could go back in time to before inflation we could test it, but that hardly seems likely. I would say such a theory is still good science (unless someone comes up with another pre-inflation theory which makes testable predictions of post-inflation effects). Which reminds me, scientists also use working hypotheses which may not necessarily be falsifiable but help guide experimentation to gather data that will, hopefully, eventually lead to the development of falsifiable theories; this is also good science.

Data usually isn't 100% objective, and reproducibility of laboratory experiments doesn't help if all the scientists involved have the same subjective component in their thinking when devising those experiments. Having said that, reproducible laboratory data is probably the closest we get to objective data. Other data has a larger subjective component; for example measurements of weather conditions depend on the location and type of measuring equipment used which depends on the judgement of the meteorologist as to where the best place for the weather station is and what are going to be the most useful things to measure.

Data which is less than 100% objective may introduce bias to the theories built on or tested by that data. To take the weather station example; if the meteorologist decides that access to the weather station is an important issue in where to site it the stations may be placed predominantly near to urban areas and roads, which may result in very slight differences compared to what would be measured at less accessible locations. The resulting theories of weather patterns will be slightly biased by this effect, and any attempt to model that bias will probably introduce other subjective elements. Thus, theories contain subjective elements resulting from the data used.

Although I agree that 100% objective, falsifiable theories are the gold standard of science in practice these are not achievable. Good theories are falsifiable (in principle), but are almost always less than 100% objective.

The problem with only accepting 100% objective, falsifiable theories is that a lot of good science gets relegated to "pseudo-science". An obvious example (well, obvious to me at any rate) is evolution; this is a theory that can not be expressed mathematically (which as I mentioned in my last post is as close any theory can get to be objective - in fact I would say any theory that progresses to being a law has to be expressed mathematically) and is dependent on data, particularly the fossil record, that is by it's very nature incomplete and that can never be complete. And some of the data supporting evolution contains a potentially important subjective bias, for example it may be assumed by all geologists/paleantologists that a particular rock type can never contain fossils so is always ignored when found in the field, yet if those rocks do contain fossils we may be missing vital data. But despite this, you and I both agree that evolution is a good theory; it explains the observed data very well, has made predictions about transitional forms (some of which have been found) etc.

I hope that clarifies things a bit more.

Alan

PS don't mention my comments about the short comings of evolution to YEC types - they'll only misrepresent it

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
The sceptical Atheist
Shipmate
# 379

 - Posted      Profile for The sceptical Atheist   Email The sceptical Atheist   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Thanks, Alan.

I see what you mean about the positioning of the weather site. What I would say is that if anybody went there to measure the windspeed there, they would all read the same figure. I agree, though, that data collection is less than perfect.

I would say that any theory that is non-falsifiable at the moment would be classed as a hypothesis. So, we have the inflationary theory, but anything before it is hypothetical.

The ToE, I would say, is actually good science (I know you think so too, I mean as opposed to what you say about it).

A theory does not need to be mathematical and not all the data needs to be in to make an excellent scientific theory. The ToE does exactly what you claim is necessary for a theory. It explains the past data ('saves the phenomena' is one way of putting it). It predicts the future. Just date a band of rocks and by using the ToE you can predict the types of fossils that will be found there. What is most important, it is falsifiable.

Yes, there is the opportunity for subjective ideas to get in. One example that is illustrative of what can go qrong and how it hardly ever does is Icthyostega's five toes. The original discoverer said it had five fingers on both feet. The problem was he was the only person allowed to work on it and it waas the only example of its kind.

Now other specimens have been found, it is known that Icthyostega had eight toes. Why teh original finder said five will never be known.

So, by working on his own, wrong, possbly subjective, data got into the system. Objectiveley we now know that he was wrong.

--------------------
"Faith in God and seventy-five cents will get you a cup of coffee."
[Wayne Aiken]


Posts: 293 | From: Staffordshire | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
SA:
Are you saying that the materialist worldview is contradictory because we may never know what happened before the BB?

I'm saying it is contradictory because it uses the empirical evidence and theoretical framework of QM to hypothesise the 'how' of the BB yet falls back on the idea of an Uncaused Cause, in all contradiction to empirical evidence, to satisfy the 'why.'

Please note that I am not arguing for Theism here.

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
This isn't particularly relevent to the current discussion, but I've just come across this quote from Paul Davies (from The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World - a book I admit I haven't read) and thought some people reading this thread might find it interesting
quote:
In the end, Occam's razor compels me to put my money on design, but, as always in matters of metaphysics, the decision is largely a matter of taste rather than scientific judgement

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
I've read "The Mind of God." Davies starts with the Argument from Design and the Anthropic Principle. I believe his conclusions fell within the Buddhist sphere. (It's been a while since I read it)

I'm just starting an essay called "The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe" by Quentin Smith. I'll see where that takes me.

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Nightlamp
Shipmate
# 266

 - Posted      Profile for Nightlamp   Email Nightlamp   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
sorry I have not got involved in this thread for a while since I seem ignored
SA said

quote:
So, let us assume that reality is all in my mind. There are two parts to my mind. The 'internal' part where I can imagine flying and the 'external' one where it is impossible. I can distinguish between the two. I label the external part of my mind "reality" and the internal part of my mind "mind."

This actually shows that there is a reality out there, separate from my mind. This is not a linguistic trick, just by labeling it "reality" doesn't make it so, but the fact that I can distinguish between the two and need separate labels to describe to others what I mean shows that, at some level, there is a necessary distinction.


Actually this is pragmatism this theory works hence I shall use it.

I am beginning to come to the conclusion that your 'atheistic theology' is simply pragmatic that it works for you and there is actually no need to change your belief system.
It may be dressed up in different ways but that is what it is well so I think anyway


--------------------
I don't know what you are talking about so it couldn't have been that important- Nightlamp


Posts: 8442 | From: Midlands | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Oops. It isn't Davies that draws his conclusions into a Buddhist framework. I'm confusing him with another author.

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
The book I'm currently reading gave that Davies quote, and then went on to say Davies progresses to talk about "mysticism" without defining the term. I'd assumed that was where the Buddist connection came in.

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gill
Shipmate
# 102

 - Posted      Profile for Gill   Email Gill   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
Am I allowed a teentsy red herring here?

Isn't Occam's Razor potentially flawed? What if someone ('Ms X') held a belief about - I dunno, how babies were made. And rejected the truth because it was more complex than her own theory (the stork brings them for example.) Okay, in such a case, there is a possibility of proof. But in many cases there aren't (I remember a Physics lesson where the teacher told us how much of Physics is still based on theories - they work so far, but they're theories).

All I'm saying is, that as a rational (ish), intelligent woman, I find God to be the simpler explanation, and therefore for me Occam's Razor comes out in favour of God.

I have this niggling feeling I've missed a point somewhere...

--------------------
Still hanging in there...


Posts: 1828 | From: not drowning but waving... | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
that's the problem with a razor, if you're not careful you can cut yourself shaving

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.

Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gill
Shipmate
# 102

 - Posted      Profile for Gill   Email Gill   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 

(You mean it was prophetic when I just cut my knee in the bath??? WOW!)

--------------------
Still hanging in there...


Posts: 1828 | From: not drowning but waving... | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Freehand

The sound of one hand clapping
# 144

 - Posted      Profile for Freehand   Email Freehand   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
All I'm saying is, that as a rational (ish), intelligent woman, I find God to be the simpler explanation, and therefore for me Occam's Razor comes out in favour of God.

That's what I've been trying to get at. Science doesn't provide a good explanation of the spiritual world, at least not for a lot of people. Now if someone, like our good friend, SA, doesn't find the spiritual world significant to him, it's not surprising that he'll cut it out with Occam. However, for many people, it cuts out much of their existance. For some people, the spiritual world may be more real than the physical.

Freehand


Posts: 673 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Willyburger

Ship's barber
# 658

 - Posted      Profile for Willyburger     Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gill:
I have this niggling feeling I've missed a point somewhere...

Gill,

Haven't you just analogized a belief in God with the stork? And didn't Mrs. X prefer the simpler explanation rather than the true one?

Sorry to be a pill. I think the problem with your analogy is that for Occam's Razor to cut cleanly, both explanations have to be reasonable to reasonable people. Then you can use it to identify the simpler solution.

The gist of my discussion with S.A. is that I don't see spiritualism or materialism as having provable first premises. In fact, I presently think that neither really qualifies as an explanation under Occam's razor, so that in the end, both must be taken on faith.

Did somebody kiss that boo-boo?

Willy

--------------------
Willy, Unix Bigot, Esq.
--
Why is it that every time I go out to buy bookshelves, I come home with more books?


Posts: 835 | From: Arizona, US | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist 先生
# 31

 - Posted      Profile for Alan Cresswell   Email Alan Cresswell   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
OK, back to the main theme of this thread (possibly ). How does Occams Razor or the requirement for OF evidence choose between these two philosophical positions (stated briefly since I'm not writing a text book on philosophy)?

1) The universe is the result of an uncaused event resulting in a Big Bang and cosmic expansion. This universe is governed by physical laws (although why these, or any laws, is inknown) and forces with just the right properties for intelligent life to appear on at least one planet within the universe. There is no purpose or aim in the development of the universe, nor any ultimate source for morals and ethics that the intelligent creatures on the one planet we know of feel are important.

2) The universe is the creation of a personal, moral, faithful uncaused being who built into the universe a reflection of his (personal male pronoun used for convenience not to reflect anything about gender ) character; thus faithfulness results in a predictable universe governed by physical laws, personality and morality result in a universe fine-tuned to result in the development of intelligent beings capable of relating to him and having a moral sense. As he is faithful, this uncaused being acts through the physical laws he put into the universe.

Now, from a purely materialistic view both of these philosophies have the same effect - there is no reason to expect any difference in the laws, theories and data developed by scientists who accept both philosophies. However, if fields outside the purely materialistic the second philosophy has greater explanatory power (why does the universe exist?, why is it governed by laws that can be expressed mathematically?) whereas under the first philosophy these are simply given.

Alan

--------------------
Don't cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.


Posts: 32413 | From: East Kilbride (Scotland) or 福島 | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ham'n'Eggs

Ship's Pig
# 629

 - Posted      Profile for Ham'n'Eggs   Email Ham'n'Eggs   Send new private message       Edit/delete post   Reply with quote 
In any case, Occams razor can only apply if one of the positions stipulates God as cause only. If a position includes any interaction by God with the totality of existance, then Occams razor no longer applies.

--------------------
"...the heresies that men do leave / Are hated most of those they did deceive" - Will S


Posts: 3103 | From: Genghis Khan's sleep depot | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged



Pages in this thread: 1  2  3  4  5  6 
 
Post new thread  Post a reply Close thread   Feature thread   Move thread   Delete thread Next oldest thread   Next newest thread
 - Printer-friendly view
Go to:

Contact us | Ship of Fools | Privacy statement

© Ship of Fools 2016

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.5.0

 
follow ship of fools on twitter
buy your ship of fools postcards
sip of fools mugs from your favourite nautical website
 
 
  ship of fools