Playing God's Advocate

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
ian
Posts: 706
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 3:55 pm UTC
Location: Sealand

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby ian » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:39 am UTC

JWalker wrote:
ian wrote:
JWalker wrote:
Well, first off, it would be entirely possible to conduct an experiment to show that the universe is not governed by laws. We would simply have to observe a contradiction, or a paradox. This may or may not be possible (the universe may or may not allow it) but if it is, we can certainly observe it. I wonder if our brains would be able to comprehend such a thing however, which raises some questions as to whether or not we would recognize what we saw.

All that tells you is that current law is wrong and thus isn't a law at all. It doesn't tell you the universe isn't governed by laws, only that you don't know them


You are correct. Instead of saying that it was possible to do an experiment to show the universe is not governed by laws, I should have said that it is possible to do an experiment that suggests that the universe is not governed by consistent laws, as by definition a paradox or contradiction is an inconsistency.

no no no. the laws can still be consistent. you just do not know the consistent form. for instance if you did 1000 experiments about gravity and one did not match the laws as you understood them, that does not mean the universe is not ruled by a consistent law(s) of gravity. it may just mean the laws that it is ruled by are not always consistent with the laws you (wrongly) though were in place. for instance look at the pioneer probe anomaly. this does not fit in with the laws of gravity and motion as we understand them with the data we have. does this mean the universe is not consistent? no (not necessarily), it just means the laws we have are wrong or we do not have the correct data we need.

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:46 am UTC

achan1058 wrote:
JWalker wrote:With this, we can only make the statement "the theory is falsified with a probability of x," we can never make the statement "the theory is falsified." We will always have to qualify the statement, and so we can never say a theory is falsified for EXACTLY the same reasons we can never make the statement that a theory is correct, and no scientist will ever try to tell you that a theory is verifiable.
Yes and no. It can indeed never be verifiable as a mathematical sense, but in practice, an overwhelming probability is essentially the same as verified, and I would say most scientists use it as such, aa there is no reason to not do this. To me, it is meaningless to talk about the mathematical sense, unless you are talking about mathematics itself, and I speak of this as a mathematician. Besides, it is very annoying to add "with overwhelming probability" after every sentence you make.


You are right, as a practical matter this is of no concern at all. However, as a philosophical matter the distinction is very important. Furthermore, if we're dealing with practical matters we can just as easily say a theory is correct. The idea is merely that a theory does not have to be falsifiable to be scientific, it just has to 'work'.

What kind of experiment would that be, I wonder. With a sufficiently high degree polynomial, one can approximate any finite data set.


You can only approximate a finite data set with a high degree polynomial if the data appears to transcribe a curve that is one to one. Furthermore, it is only possible to approximate something with a polynomial if the function you are trying to approximate has a certain degree of niceness. What I mean by this is that the function must be analytic in some region of interest. Intuitively this means that the behavior of ANY point on your line must be determined by all of the derivatives of the function at ONE point. An arbitrary data set is not necessarily analytic, and so it isn't always possible to approximate it to any degree of accuracy by a polynomial of any degree, no matter how high.

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:54 am UTC

ian wrote:no no no. the laws can still be consistent. you just do not know the consistent form. for instance if you did 1000 experiments about gravity and one did not match the laws as you understood them, that does not mean the universe is not ruled by a consistent law(s) of gravity. it may just mean the laws that it is ruled by are not always consistent with the laws you (wrongly) though were in place. for instance look at the pioneer probe anomaly. this does not fit in with the laws of gravity and motion as we understand them with the data we have. does this mean the universe is not consistent? no (not necessarily), it just means the laws we have are wrong or we do not have the correct data we need.


I do not mean a contradiction with the theory I am using, I mean a measurement that contradicts itself. For example, I do an experiment with a falling rock, but rather than the rock falling straight down, I see the rock follow multiple paths, occupying more than one place at once. It may even be weirder and I could observe something like the rock falling, then spontaneously traveling back in time, hitting my past self on the head and so causing to perform the experiment in the first place. These sorts of things don't point to my theory being wrong, they point to the universe being full of paradox, a world where cause and effect and other tenants of logic we hold dear simply do not work. This is what I mean by an inconsistent or an illogical universe; one that does not evolve in accordance with what we call logic.

You could say that this only means that logic itself is wrong, and I would agree, but without logic, how can we come up with a system of rules? Maybe there is a way but I cannot conceive of it, and I sort of doubt it is possible for a human being to work in a fundamentally illogical framework.

User avatar
skeptical scientist
closed-minded spiritualist
Posts: 6142
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:09 am UTC
Location: San Francisco

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby skeptical scientist » Sun Oct 25, 2009 6:57 am UTC

Please pardon a quick detour while I correct your math...
JWalker wrote:Furthermore, it is only possible to approximate something with a polynomial if the function you are trying to approximate has a certain degree of niceness. What I mean by this is that the function must be analytic in some region of interest. Intuitively this means that the behavior of ANY point on your line must be determined by all of the derivatives of the function at ONE point.
The analytic/not analytic distinction is irrelevant when you're just talking about a finite set of points. In any case, a function does not have to be analytic to be approximated by polynomials.
I'm looking forward to the day when the SNES emulator on my computer works by emulating the elementary particles in an actual, physical box with Nintendo stamped on the side.

"With math, all things are possible." —Rebecca Watson

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:29 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:Please pardon a quick detour while I correct your math...
JWalker wrote:Furthermore, it is only possible to approximate something with a polynomial if the function you are trying to approximate has a certain degree of niceness. What I mean by this is that the function must be analytic in some region of interest. Intuitively this means that the behavior of ANY point on your line must be determined by all of the derivatives of the function at ONE point.
The analytic/not analytic distinction is irrelevant when you're just talking about a finite set of points. In any case, a function does not have to be analytic to be approximated by polynomials.


Hmm, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a function analytic by definition in some finite region if one can approximate it by a polynomial over the region?

User avatar
eSOANEM
:D
Posts: 3652
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:39 pm UTC
Location: Grantabrycge

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby eSOANEM » Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:17 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:Personally I am a 5 but I advocate 4 as being that which is most scientific.

50/50 probability is the most scientific? Why?


I think there are flaws with Dawkins's spectrum but it is a broadly reasonable measure. Personally I would view a better system where each person has a number. On this system, Dawkins' 1 would be a 3 which would be the most highly religious value. A 2 on Dawkins' scale would be a 2 on mine and a 3 on Dawkin's scale would be a 1, a 4 would then be 0 and so on and so forth.

Dawkin's scale measures theistic probability mine measures the level of religious/spiritual engagement and it is the engagement that will cause the bias not the probability a person proscribes to the existence of god.

As such I chose the value on Dawkin's scale that closest represented my view about the least biased standpoint, that of a fencesitter.
my pronouns are they

Magnanimous wrote:(fuck the macrons)

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26820
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:04 pm UTC

Stepping aside from current discussion for a minute, because I really hate when theists quote Einstein out of context to prove he was one of them.
Narius wrote:"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind"
-Albert Einstein
*You know I just had to use that quote :P*

Yes, I know you had to use it. Because if you used most of Einstein's other quotes on religion, your point would have fallen a bit flat.
I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.

When Einstein says "religion" in your quote, it refers to the feeling of humility, not to any mystical notions about God. So calling him a theist is to so change the meaning of that word that scarcely anyone could escape its application. Anyone anywhere on Dawkin's scale of belief can have "religious" feelings of awe and humility, but it would be rather silly to say someone who is 100% sure there's no god is still a theist or otherwise religious person.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby achan1058 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:18 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:Please pardon a quick detour while I correct your math...
JWalker wrote:Furthermore, it is only possible to approximate something with a polynomial if the function you are trying to approximate has a certain degree of niceness. What I mean by this is that the function must be analytic in some region of interest. Intuitively this means that the behavior of ANY point on your line must be determined by all of the derivatives of the function at ONE point.
The analytic/not analytic distinction is irrelevant when you're just talking about a finite set of points. In any case, a function does not have to be analytic to be approximated by polynomials.


Hmm, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a function analytic by definition in some finite region if one can approximate it by a polynomial over the region?
I said finite set of points, not finite region. You cannot measure an infinite set of points in real life, even in a finite region, as far as I know. My point there is, with a complex enough explanation, you can explain away just about anything. (And naturally, that is the reason why I refuses to let people use "god" as an explanation.)

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:49 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:
JWalker wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:Please pardon a quick detour while I correct your math...
JWalker wrote:Furthermore, it is only possible to approximate something with a polynomial if the function you are trying to approximate has a certain degree of niceness. What I mean by this is that the function must be analytic in some region of interest. Intuitively this means that the behavior of ANY point on your line must be determined by all of the derivatives of the function at ONE point.
The analytic/not analytic distinction is irrelevant when you're just talking about a finite set of points. In any case, a function does not have to be analytic to be approximated by polynomials.


Hmm, correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a function analytic by definition in some finite region if one can approximate it by a polynomial over the region?
I said finite set of points, not finite region. You cannot measure an infinite set of points in real life, even in a finite region, as far as I know. My point there is, with a complex enough explanation, you can explain away just about anything. (And naturally, that is the reason why I refuses to let people use "god" as an explanation.)


I still think you'd have a hard time explaining multi valued measurements in this fashion. It certainly can't be done with polynomials.

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby achan1058 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 4:58 pm UTC

No I do not. It merely means I need more than 1 polynomial. One can interpolate anything that is finite.

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:45 pm UTC

achan1058 wrote:No I do not. It merely means I need more than 1 polynomial. One can interpolate anything that is finite.


If you do that you don't have a consistent theory. One could imagine asking the question "given situation A, what outcome will I get" and no one would be able to give a unique answer because one simply does not exist. This might remind you of quantum mechanics, though in fact quantum mechanics is much more well behaved than this, as each measurement only gives one outcome, though it can give different outcomes if it is repeated. The situation I am describing can produce more than one outcome at the same time.

The point is that while you may be able to fit your data to a set of polynomials you can answer the unanswerable questions, but you will do so incorrectly. Furthermore, by using polynomials you have used the assumption that your data is trending towards a continuous function. In reality there may be measurable discontinuities that are glossed over by the continuity of the polynomials.

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby achan1058 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 5:50 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:
achan1058 wrote:No I do not. It merely means I need more than 1 polynomial. One can interpolate anything that is finite.


If you do that you don't have a consistent theory. One could imagine asking the question "given situation A, what outcome will I get" and no one would be able to give a unique answer because one simply does not exist. This might remind you of quantum mechanics, though in fact quantum mechanics is much more well behaved than this, as each measurement only gives one outcome, though it can give different outcomes if it is repeated. The situation I am describing can produce more than one outcome at the same time.

The point is that while you may be able to fit your data to a set of polynomials you can answer the unanswerable questions, but you will do so incorrectly. Furthermore, by using polynomials you have used the assumption that your data is trending towards a continuous function. In reality there may be measurable discontinuities that are glossed over by the continuity of the polynomials.
If you have more than 1 outcome, let f(X)=(f1(X),f2(X),f3(X),...,fk(X)), where fi(X) is a polynomial, and is 1 if and only if the ith outcome is true (so your output will be a 0/1-vector). This can be approximated with k polynomials, even if they are big, useless, and probably the wrong way to do things. It is also consistent with all existing data points, even though it's useless and probably flat out wrong for explaining new data points. You simply need to "modify" the theory whenever a new data point comes in!

This idea isn't mine, but rather commonly used in cryptoanalysis, where they assume (or rather, know) that some stupidly high degree polynomial exists. (which they don't know what it is, of course) They then use it to derive properties of it, without actually dealing with it.

And yes, I am intentionally tying my hands by only using polynomials, to say that it is enough to "explain" all data if you allow them to be complex enough. Hopefully you see my point in how difficult it is to come up with an experiment to prove that the universe isn't consistent. In fact, I would say it is much harder than showing that it is very likely to be consistent, since if you have some relatively simple rules which holds for a large amount of data, you can have confidence that it is consistent. To show it is inconsistent, you need to at least make your data fail all relatively simple explanations, and then some more.

User avatar
Charlie!
Posts: 2035
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 8:20 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Charlie! » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:48 pm UTC

You can tell the difference between a complicated bunch of polynomials and random behavior just by making some predictions and then testing them. Since revising your predictions to fit the results isn't allowed, the polynomial people will be soundly thumped by the results if the behavior is in fact random.

And of course with large data sets you have all sorts of statistical tools to check if something is random.
Some people tell me I laugh too much. To them I say, "ha ha ha!"

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby achan1058 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:01 pm UTC

Charlie! wrote:You can tell the difference between a complicated bunch of polynomials and random behavior just by making some predictions and then testing them. Since revising your predictions to fit the results isn't allowed, the polynomial people will be soundly thumped by the results if the behavior is in fact random.

And of course with large data sets you have all sorts of statistical tools to check if something is random.
How about if the data comes out from AES or a pseudo random generator or something? It will look random (it better, or we have a MAJOR issue on our hands), but it is clearly deterministic, following a set of not all that complicated rules. (I will grant that the interpolation polynomial is huge, however)

User avatar
Tass
Posts: 1909
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:21 pm UTC
Location: Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen.

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Tass » Sun Oct 25, 2009 8:12 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:I still think you'd have a hard time explaining multi valued measurements in this fashion. It certainly can't be done with polynomials.


You can never excactly repeat an experiment, at the very least the time or place will be different. So you just have to postulate laws chanching with time and space. You get no multivalued measurements.

User avatar
Narius
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:39 am UTC
Location: Dorin System

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Narius » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:12 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Stepping aside from current discussion for a minute, because I really hate when theists quote Einstein out of context to prove he was one of them.
Narius wrote:"Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind"
-Albert Einstein
*You know I just had to use that quote :P*

Yes, I know you had to use it. Because if you used most of Einstein's other quotes on religion, your point would have fallen a bit flat.
I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or a goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.
The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naive.

When Einstein says "religion" in your quote, it refers to the feeling of humility, not to any mystical notions about God. So calling him a theist is to so change the meaning of that word that scarcely anyone could escape its application. Anyone anywhere on Dawkin's scale of belief can have "religious" feelings of awe and humility, but it would be rather silly to say someone who is 100% sure there's no god is still a theist or otherwise religious person.


I wasn't trying to use it in defense that Einstein agreed with me. He was hardly any sort of faith based christian, as far as I know.
But he was a deist; he believed in some sort of supernatural 'something', but not necessarily a God. He wasn't a christian, or an atheist.
I probably should have clarified that. I understand where he stood on the matter; I just like the quote.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26820
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:31 pm UTC

Narius wrote:he believed in some sort of supernatural 'something'

Huge [citation needed] on that.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Narius
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:39 am UTC
Location: Dorin System

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Narius » Mon Oct 26, 2009 12:06 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Narius wrote:he believed in some sort of supernatural 'something'

Huge [citation needed] on that.


I believe he was a sort of pantheist.
I forget where I originally read about it, but here's a nytimes article link

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/books ... gewanted=4

regardless, Einstein and I differ on that account.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26820
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Oct 26, 2009 2:34 am UTC

That's Dawkins's interpretation, and he specifically contrasts it with deism and with anything supernatural:
Pantheists don't believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a nonsupernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
{delta}
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:32 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby {delta} » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:47 am UTC

The overall tone on Einstein's use of the word "god", at least in my understanding in readings, is that it is interchangeable with the known and unknown underpinning laws of natures and not a powerful being with human traits ascribed unto it.

As a catholic in remission, and a physics major, the only utility I've found in it anymore is the seemingly illogical pursuit of good, barring an infallible definition of that which fits within "good".

User avatar
Tass
Posts: 1909
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2008 2:21 pm UTC
Location: Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen.

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Tass » Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:20 am UTC

A friend of mine once described pantheism as "feel good atheism".

User avatar
{delta}
Posts: 53
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:32 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby {delta} » Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:49 am UTC

Deepdishtheism isn't too bad if you get extra sauce.

User avatar
Ixtellor
There are like 4 posters on XKCD that no more about ...
Posts: 3113
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 3:31 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:28 pm UTC

Narius wrote:I just don't like the idea of something I believe (that has not been definitively disproven) having the possibility of lessening my credibility among my future peers and colleagues.


1. Is your faith in god falsifiable? If not...
2. I don't think being an aethist qualifies as good science. I think being agnostic is the most 'scientific' viewpoint. There is no evidence either supporting or disproving 'god'.
3. If you have faith in something for which there is not one shread of evidence... I don't see how a scientist can do that.


Ixtellor
The Revolution will not be Twitterized.

sgt york
Posts: 331
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:21 pm UTC
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby sgt york » Mon Oct 26, 2009 5:04 pm UTC

sikyon wrote:Fundamental axiom of abrahamic god: He is infinitely powerful.

Source?

I'm a Christian, and I know the Bible pretty well....I am not aware of any solid claim that, if taken in context, credibly supports the idea that the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is truly omnipotent. I know of at least two that sound that way that if you use just the right sentence fragment and get a little liberal on the translation, but I take issue with that kind of treatment.

I know of many places where it says He cannot do certain things (sin or change fundamentally, for example), and others where it says He will not do certain things, which may or may not amount to the same thing in context. So I'd say you have to prove that claim for the rest of your argument to warrant study.

My basic thoughts on the subject are as follows:
1. Science is based on observation. If you can't see it, you can't do science on it. ("see" used in the loosest possible context here)
2. Religion is based on faith. In the Christian context, this is defined as "what (cannot be)(is not) seen". If you can see it, it's not faith.

Therefore, they compliment each other. If you can see it, it's science and religion can't touch it. If you can't see it, it's faith and science can't touch it. The problem is when you try and cross them. .
And yes, this means that as far as science is concerned, FSM, IPU, and every religion in the world are all in the same standing: 100% unresolved and possibly unresolvable.

Galileo Galilei wrote:The Bible tells man how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go
(or something along those lines)

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby BlackSails » Mon Oct 26, 2009 5:37 pm UTC

sgt york wrote:
sikyon wrote:Fundamental axiom of abrahamic god: He is infinitely powerful.

Source?

I'm a Christian, and I know the Bible pretty well....I am not aware of any solid claim that, if taken in context, credibly supports the idea that the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible is truly omnipotent. I know of at least two that sound that way that if you use just the right sentence fragment and get a little liberal on the translation, but I take issue with that kind of treatment.


There is also text that indicates the opposite. When the bible was written, the Jews weren't even monotheistic.

sgt york
Posts: 331
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:21 pm UTC
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby sgt york » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:08 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:When the bible was written, the Jews weren't even monotheistic.

That's obviously wrong. When I play Civ4, I always found Judaism if I'm the first to discover Monotheism. It doesn't even matter if I'm playing as Ghandi.

Seriously, though, you are quite obviously correct. Why would the Bible say "have no other gods before me" if there were no other gods to have? It would be like saying "thou shalt not fly."

sikyon
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:45 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby sikyon » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:13 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:I do not mean a contradiction with the theory I am using, I mean a measurement that contradicts itself. For example, I do an experiment with a falling rock, but rather than the rock falling straight down, I see the rock follow multiple paths, occupying more than one place at once. It may even be weirder and I could observe something like the rock falling, then spontaneously traveling back in time, hitting my past self on the head and so causing to perform the experiment in the first place. These sorts of things don't point to my theory being wrong, they point to the universe being full of paradox, a world where cause and effect and other tenants of logic we hold dear simply do not work. This is what I mean by an inconsistent or an illogical universe; one that does not evolve in accordance with what we call logic.


Actually these things do point to the theory being wrong. Something, which you do not understand, is causing the rock to fall back in time. And now you know it is possible to occupy more than one place at once.

You simply realize that this "paradox" must be a limitation of your own capability to understand, but you still believe that the universe has consistent laws.

Furthermore, you can even incorporate time and space dependent physics if you wish to further generalize "laws of the universe". While this goes counter against what we know of physics today, and even our fundamental assumptions about physics, it does not disprove the existence of physics itself.

See? you can't disprove science like you can't disprove god.

and others where it says He will not do certain things, which may or may not amount to the same thing in context.


This is the stickler for me. In most sources I have read, and people I have talked to, it not he "absolutely cannot nomatter how hard he tries", it is "he does not wish to do this".

There is a difference in that in the first phrase he is bound by rules and therefore must fall under the idea that everything has rules (physics). In the second phrase he is very much outside of rules but simply chooses not to excerisze this power, and because he has infinite power no finite being may place such restrictions on him.

sgt york
Posts: 331
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 7:21 pm UTC
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby sgt york » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:39 pm UTC

sikyon wrote:
and others where it says He will not do certain things, which may or may not amount to the same thing in context.

This is the stickler for me. In most sources I have read, and people I have talked to, it not he "absolutely cannot nomatter how hard he tries", it is "he does not wish to do this".


And I hint at that when I say it may or may not be the same thing. It's a philosophical debate, but I do concede the point that there is a fundamental difference between "literally can't" and "chooses not to." However, as I said immediately before the quote you used, the Bible is fairly clear that God cannot (for example) change His fundamental nature or sin.

But this is really just a side note; it's unimportant. The important thing is that there is no scriptural support that I am aware of for the claim that God is truly omnipotent (for Judaism/Christianity). It is not, as was stated above, a fundamental axiom of the Abrahamic God. He is very powerful, much more powerful than we are, possibly more powerful than we can imagine, but that's not the same thing as infinite power.

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby BlackSails » Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:09 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:
I do not mean a contradiction with the theory I am using, I mean a measurement that contradicts itself. For example, I do an experiment with a falling rock, but rather than the rock falling straight down, I see the rock follow multiple paths, occupying more than one place at once. It may even be weirder and I could observe something like the rock falling, then spontaneously traveling back in time, hitting my past self on the head and so causing to perform the experiment in the first place. These sorts of things don't point to my theory being wrong, they point to the universe being full of paradox, a world where cause and effect and other tenants of logic we hold dear simply do not work. This is what I mean by an inconsistent or an illogical universe; one that does not evolve in accordance with what we call logic.


Isnt this the sort of thing that the feynman path integral intepretation claims actually happens?

achan1058
Posts: 1783
Joined: Sun Nov 30, 2008 9:50 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby achan1058 » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:15 pm UTC

Here's what I think:

Can science disprove god? Of course not. To start with, god is not well defined, not even the Christian god. You cannot give concrete properties of him that can be tested with science, or we won't have this debate to start with. Can you use science to say god exists or not with high probability? Maybe, depending on what you use to assign probabilities to. If you say only solid confirmable evidence (ie. repeatable experiments) can be attributed to the existence of god, then the probability of him exist is indeed low, again, since otherwise we would not have this debate to start with. Does it matter? No it does not. The reason is very simple. Suppose god exists, but with unknown properties. How would you determine which properties is the right one? I mean heck, there can be a god which sends people to hell for believing him, and to heaven if they are skeptical, or one that sees all humans as ants, and don't care anyways.

Anyways, I think Dawkin's scale is way too simplified. There are many other forms of "god" one can conceive of. For example, I am probably a 4 or 5 on a god similar to this one: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/a_bunch_of_rocks.png, and probably a 6 or 7 on all others.

Anyways, I think this should be merged to SB.

sikyon
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:45 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby sikyon » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:49 pm UTC

But this is really just a side note; it's unimportant. The important thing is that there is no scriptural support that I am aware of for the claim that God is truly omnipotent (for Judaism/Christianity). It is not, as was stated above, a fundamental axiom of the Abrahamic God. He is very powerful, much more powerful than we are, possibly more powerful than we can imagine, but that's not the same thing as infinite power.


If this is the case then I must withdraw my argument about the coexistance of god and science, and begin a new argument as to the meaning of "god", which is not for this topic's discussion.

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Mon Oct 26, 2009 10:48 pm UTC

sikyon wrote:Actually these things do point to the theory being wrong. Something, which you do not understand, is causing the rock to fall back in time. And now you know it is possible to occupy more than one place at once.

You simply realize that this "paradox" must be a limitation of your own capability to understand, but you still believe that the universe has consistent laws.

Furthermore, you can even incorporate time and space dependent physics if you wish to further generalize "laws of the universe". While this goes counter against what we know of physics today, and even our fundamental assumptions about physics, it does not disprove the existence of physics itself.

See? you can't disprove science like you can't disprove god.


I think you kind of misunderstood what I was saying. Something certainly did cause the rock to fall back in time, but it also so happened that the rock falling back in time caused the thing that caused it to fall back in time. Basically, the rock falling back in time caused it to fall back in time. It isn't something that I didn't understand or that I didn't take into account in my theory, the event simply caused itself. Here we are forced to throw cause and effect out of the window because it simply does not work. I would like to see a constant theory that does not require causality, as it seems apparent that any acausal theory is rife with inconsistencies. We could attempt to form a causal theory involving things we cannot observe, like an extra temporal dimension, but any such theory is doomed to not be unique and also make no unique predictions. From a scientific standpoint this is of no more use than an inconsistent acausal theory. I hope you can see that merely because a theory is inconsistent with itself does not mean that it is not useful. For a good example of a useful but inconsistent theory you can look at linearized general relativity, it is both self-inconsistent and very useful.

Also, I believe you don't understand what I'm trying to do. I am not trying to say one can disprove science, I am merely trying to demonstrate that science and theism are not contradictory by showing that any attempt to place restrictions on the universe (such that it must obey consistent laws, as you previously tried to do) is fundamentally unscientific. Science is something that does not presuppose any such consistency, and as a consequence it is not at odds with theism.

Does that make more sense?

Also:
BlackSails wrote:Isnt this the sort of thing that the feynman path integral intepretation claims actually happens?


Sort of, but with a very important difference. In the Feynman Path Integral, one cannot observe the particle traversing the different paths, any observation will force the particle to appear at one location in whatever space we are looking at. In fact, the path integral does not say the particle actually travels those paths, or any path, it just is a way of finding the probability of it moving from point to point. If we ask what the probability that a particle followed any individual path the answer will always be zero. The situation I described allows the particle to be observed in more than one location simultaneously. This is what I meant when I said multi-valued measurements; measurements that when performed give multiple values for one experiment, not the multiple values for multiple experiments as in quantum mechanics.

User avatar
BlackSails
Posts: 5315
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:48 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby BlackSails » Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:02 pm UTC

You can already do experiments that give multiple values. Lets say I have a ball of radius 1 ft. It is centered at (0,0). I measure where the ball is. It is at 0,0. It is also at 1,1, and .5,1 and every point in the unit circle.

JWalker
Posts: 222
Joined: Sun Nov 23, 2008 1:13 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby JWalker » Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:08 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:You can already do experiments that give multiple values. Lets say I have a ball of radius 1 ft. It is centered at (0,0). I measure where the ball is. It is at 0,0. It is also at 1,1, and .5,1 and every point in the unit circle.


These are actually different measurements telling you what part of the ball is where. If I had asked the question "where is the centre of the ball" and gotten multiple answers, that would be along the lines of what I was talking about. An alternative way to view it is that your ball is made up of particles that have unique positions when measured, and you are actually measuring different particles.

User avatar
Cryopyre
Posts: 701
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:00 am UTC
Location: A desert

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby Cryopyre » Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:58 am UTC

The biggest problem I have with religion vs. science is that religion fosters preconceptions while science works best when you abandon all (well, most save foundationalism) preconceptions.
Felstaff wrote:I actually see what religion is to social, economical and perhaps political progress in a similar way to what war is to technological progress.

Gunfingers wrote:Voting is the power to speak your mind. You, apparently, had nothing to say.

douglasm
Posts: 630
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:53 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby douglasm » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:08 pm UTC

Narius wrote:Being a christian, I believe in intelligent design.


Narius wrote:There is good evidence that supports the yet unproven theory of evolution. I'm fine with that as well. Who knows whether or not God used evolution to create man.


These two statements, using the by far most commonly meant definition of "intelligent design" are quite thoroughly at odds with each other. If you truly do believe that the Theory of Evolution might possibly be correct, whether or not you think it was one of God's tools and thus merely the mechanism by which He created humanity, I suggest you stop using the term "intelligent design" to describe your beliefs. The vast majority of people who ever hear you state that you believe in intelligent design will immediately think that you believe Evolution is outright completely wrong and that God created humanity (and everything else) from scratch exactly as we are today with no intermediate forms and certainly no common ancestor with any other primate.

By the way, the by far best resource I have ever found on evolution is talkorigins.org.

Personally, I think that science and religion, dealt with correctly, are not in conflict because any question either one of them answers is one that the other properly says nothing at all about. Is there a god? Science says "I have no idea." Do humans and apes share a common ancestor? Religion says "how is this relevant to me?" I, personally, call myself an agnostic and doubt God exists, but I see no reason God and Evolution cannot be reconciled. Even if you insist that God created Man specifically, evolution as a process involves a great deal of randomness and there is no reason God could not have guided it simply by manipulating probabilities to make sure certain mutations arise at the right times. This manner of intervention would be completely undetectable by science as long as the mutations chosen are not especially less likely than most other mutations.

qetzal
Posts: 862
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 12:54 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby qetzal » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:26 pm UTC

douglasm wrote:The vast majority of people who ever hear you state that you believe in intelligent design will immediately think that you believe Evolution is outright completely wrong and that God created humanity (and everything else) from scratch exactly as we are today with no intermediate forms and certainly no common ancestor with any other primate.


I don't know if that's what the vast majority of people would think, but it's not what ID claims. ID really only claims that some sort of intervention by an intelligent agent was required to generate the complexity of life that we see today. It doesn't require creation from scratch with no intermediate forms. If anything, IDers are more likely to argue for repeated incremental intervention over geologic time.

Nonetheless, ID and the theory of evolution are indeed incompatible at a fundamental level.

douglasm
Posts: 630
Joined: Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:53 am UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby douglasm » Thu Oct 29, 2009 2:54 pm UTC

qetzal wrote:I don't know if that's what the vast majority of people would think, but it's not what ID claims. ID really only claims that some sort of intervention by an intelligent agent was required to generate the complexity of life that we see today. It doesn't require creation from scratch with no intermediate forms. If anything, IDers are more likely to argue for repeated incremental intervention over geologic time.


That may be the official stance, but all the evidence I'm aware of, including one fairly major court case, points towards the ID movement actually being creationism in disguise with all of its foremost proponents disagreeing rather emphatically with the idea that ID and evolution are compatible.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26820
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:19 pm UTC

Yes, it's certainly creationism in disguise (and a not very good disguise at that), but it's not necessarily young-earth creationism. You can be an IDer who believes recent changes are the result of evolution, just not whatever got it all started. Or you can simply believe that certain of the changes that led to present forms were pushed by a Designer, while also believing that the entire fossil record is nonetheless mostly accurate.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

sikyon
Posts: 344
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:45 pm UTC

Re: Playing God's Advocate

Postby sikyon » Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:19 pm UTC

I think you kind of misunderstood what I was saying. Something certainly did cause the rock to fall back in time, but it also so happened that the rock falling back in time caused the thing that caused it to fall back in time. Basically, the rock falling back in time caused it to fall back in time. It isn't something that I didn't understand or that I didn't take into account in my theory, the event simply caused itself. Here we are forced to throw cause and effect out of the window because it simply does not work. I would like to see a constant theory that does not require causality, as it seems apparent that any acausal theory is rife with inconsistencies.


I would then say that because our fundamental assumption was that the universe is consistent, then your situation is indeed a logical paradox.

However, I would then tell you that because I believe in the fundamental assumption of causality, that your observation that this is the "same rock" is invalid, and that you have not conclusively proven it is indeed the same rock and therefore causality was violated. In short, because your situation contradicts my fundamental assumption, I must discard your situation in favor of an explanation that satisfies my assumption.

And I can do this, because logical consistency is an assumption, and not something that needed proving in the first place.

We could attempt to form a causal theory involving things we cannot observe, like an extra temporal dimension, but any such theory is doomed to not be unique and also make no unique predictions. From a scientific standpoint this is of no more use than an inconsistent acausal theory. I hope you can see that merely because a theory is inconsistent with itself does not mean that it is not useful. For a good example of a useful but inconsistent theory you can look at linearized general relativity, it is both self-inconsistent and very useful.


Please elaborate on "doomed to be not unique and also make no unique predictions". I do not understand the implication or meaning of this statement.

None of the theories we have today about the universe explain all physical observations. Of course, this does not mean that they are not useful, I am not saying this. But usefulness does not imply correctness, even though I may believe that it is not "correct" (perfectly logical) for god and science to coexist, I do believe that their coexistence can be quite useful (if illogical).


Also, I believe you don't understand what I'm trying to do. I am not trying to say one can disprove science, I am merely trying to demonstrate that science and theism are not contradictory by showing that any attempt to place restrictions on the universe (such that it must obey consistent laws, as you previously tried to do) is fundamentally unscientific. Science is something that does not presuppose any such consistency, and as a consequence it is not at odds with theism.


Please explain how the scientific method can be trusted, absolutely, if we do not assume the universe is consistent.

Or if you wish, please give me your definition of science.


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 15 guests